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Reply by Nelson Mandela to letter from FW de Klerk, 24 September

24th September 1992

Mr. F. W. de KIerk
State President

Dear Mr. De Klerk,

I refer to our various telephone conversations and your letter telefaxed on the 24th September 1992 at 16H21.

I appreciate the approach you have taken to try to resolve a major obstacle in the way to holding the Summit between the ANC and the Government. I confirm that you have informed me telephonically that if we applied for parole for the three prisoners, namely, Mthetheleli Mncube, Robert McBride and Mzondeleli Nondula, such parole shall be granted as a matter of urgency and that they would be released by Monday 28th September 1992. Further that, subject to identification, 150 prisoners shall be released before the Summit is held, and that the release of all remaining prisoners shall be completed before the 15th November 1992.

The African National Congress has approached the holding of the Summit as an important event to help move our country forward. Accordingly, a series of meetings have taken place between your Minister of Constitutional Development, Mr. R Meyer and my Secretary General, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa. I believe that they have made significant progress towards ensuring that when the Summit takes place it shall be successful.

In this regard, they have constructively addressed a number of questions. These include a Constituent Assembly/constitution making body, Interim/ transitional government which would come into operation without a constitutional void, hostels, a ban on the carrying and display of dangerous weapons at public occasions throughout the country and the release of remaining political prisoners.

This process was initiated with your knowledge and agreement. They have approached their work with a view that the agreements reached and contained in the Record of   Understanding will receive the formal and final stamp when we meet at the Summit. In the course of their work there has also been an understanding that, to the extent that they have not adequately addressed other matters which arise from the statement of the National Executive Committee of the ANC dated 23rd June 1992 as well as the Memoranda exchanged between us, these shall be addressed at the Summit.

In your letter dated 16th September 1992 you agreed that the meetings between Mr. Meyer and Mr. Ramaphosa "should attempt to complete the Record of Understanding before the meeting. Should they fail to do so, the outstanding items should be dealt with at the meeting itself".

On matters where agreements are reached they shall be further underpinned by a programme of implementation jointly agreed to with specific time frames for their execution. Considerable progress in this regard has been made in respect of the hostels, the carrying and public display of dangerous weapons, as well as on the release of political prisoners subject, of course, to your latest position on the latter matter.

Given your positive and constructive response on the prisoner question I am certain that Mr. Meyer and Mr. Ramaphosa will now be able to complete the tasks entrusted to them in time for the proposed Summit. Our Mr. Ramaphosa will be contacting your Mr. Meyer with a view to expedite this.

It is in this context that I should draw your attention to the fact that some of the matters raised in your letter of the 24th September 1992 are already receiving attention in the Record of Understanding. I refer in particular to the question of hostels, the carrying and public display of dangerous weapons and the fact that they have already agreed that the question of how to deal with "the cases of persons who have committed similar offences and who have not yet been charged or sentenced" shall receive attention at the Summit because we have completely divergent approaches on this matter.

From your lever it would appear that you now wish to proceed on these three matters unilaterally and without regard to the spirit and letter of the Record of Understanding. This would be contrary to the jointly agreed approach we have taken to preparing for the Summit.

Your views on these three matters should be addressed by Mr. Meyer and Mr. Ramaphosa in the context of the Record of Understanding. Any other approach would be contrary to the express and common understanding we have with regard to the Summit and would be a new and unnecessary obstacle.

It is on this basis that we now look forward to Mr. Meyer and Mr. Ramaphosa attending to their tasks to such an extent that by tomorrow it shall have become possible for the two of them to jointly issue a statement on the holding of the Summit and the date thereof.

On many matters of serious concern to the nation, and in particular with regard to arranging the Summit, we have succeeded in taking such processes a long way forward. The public is entitled to look to the holding of the Summit with considerable expectations. The problems facing our country are enormous. The economy is in decline. Political violence and crime are on the increase. The nation yearns for a solution. This places an awesome responsibility on us.

Now that we have removed the last major obstacle in the way of the Summit, it is crucial that we should not fatter in our preparations.

Allow me to express my appreciation to you for having helped to resolve some of the difficulties which arose with regard to the release of political prisoners.

Yours sincerely


Nelson R. Mandela