Address to Extraordinary Summit of the
World Economic Forum
21 June 2003
It is a great privilege for me to be able to share
with this august gathering, the South African success
story and our approach to lasting peace and reconciliation.
We are also pleased to be part of this conference,
which seeks to consolidate the peace process in this
Middle East region. Having gone through a long period
of conflict, we are here today because we feel we should
all contribute to bringing about lasting peace and stability
in this region.
Ladies and gentlemen, we were heartened by the publication
of the Road Map to Peace and Stability in the Middle
East recently, and are encouraged by the fact that both
the Palestinians and the Israelis have accepted it.
South Africa has pledged its full support for the Road
Map. Although we acknowledge that it may not be viewed
as a perfect plan by both sides, we regard it as a viable
way to achieve a process that will lead to a lasting
settlement between Palestine and Israel.
We urge both commit themselves, in spite of difficulties,
to implement the provisions of the Road Map.
There are a number of lessons that we can say we learnt
from the South African experience of resolving our own
conflict. We learnt, for example that total commitment
by all parties was a necessary precondition to the attainment
of a lasting peace settlement.
The presence of a total commitment in all parties involved
in the conflict ensures that no hurdle is ever considered
insurmountable and that each party to the conflict does
all it can to ensure that a solution is found.
We also realized that the belief in one party's capacity
to defeat and destroy one's opponent was a delusion
and there is always a possibility of the opponent regrouping.
A peaceful solution through negotiations was more likely
to bring about a settlement.
In our country, we had a unique situation in that both
the liberation movement and the apartheid government
were ready to negotiate at the same time, due to a realisation
that the status quo could not be prolonged.
As a liberation movement, we had been ready to talk
to the government for years.
Government had no choice but to negotiate because even
the military had recognised that the South African conflict
was 80% political and only 20% military, and therefore
a political solution was more appropriate.
During the 1980's, a process of engagement with the
Afrikaner intelligentsia was intensified. Various groupings
including business, the academia, religious bodies came
to meet the African National Congress (ANC) outside
South Africa, which by this time had mobilised both
the people within the country as well as the international
community against the inhuman system of apartheid.
They were interested in understanding what we stood
for, what programmes we proposed and what we had to
offer as an alternative to the apartheid rule of the
South African government. These groups also came to
ascertain if the ANC was ready to govern.
These contacts had come about because the business
and academic communities in South Africa had come to
accept that the unjust and system of government in South
Africa could no longer be sustained.
The government was under tremendous pressure both internationally
and internally where it had to deal with unprecedented
levels of mass protest that had rendered the country
In the meantime, the war it waged against the Angolan
government was increasingly becoming difficult to maintain
and it was clear that they were facing eventual defeat.
This was the context in which the Harare Declaration
was produced, a document drawn by the ANC, adopted by
the Front-line States and the Organisation of African
The Declaration stated that: "Together with the
rest of the world, we believe that it is essential,
before any negotiations take place, that the necessary
climate for negotiations be created. The apartheid regime
has the urgent responsibility to respond to this universally
acclaimed demand and thus create this climate. "The
ANC thus had an opportunity to articulate its position
The Declaration essentially stated the commitment of
the Organisation of African Unity and the people of
Africa to peace and justice and that there could be
neither while the system of apartheid existed.
It reaffirmed the recognition of the rights of all
people, including those of South Africa, to determine
their own destiny and reaffirmed its continued support
for all South Africans who pursue this noble objective
through political, armed and other forms of struggle.
It allowed us a chance to further influence international
opinion because it restated one of the central principles
of the ANC which said: "The people of Africa, singly,
collectively and acting through the OAU, are engaged
in the serious efforts to establish peace throughout
the continent by ending all conflicts through negotiations
based on the principle of justice and peace for all."
By rallying the support of the Front-line States, the
ANC was able to articulate its position as a liberation
movement, using the OAU as its mouthpiece. The ANC struggle
was transformed into an African struggle.
While we need to acknowledge that the change of leadership
in the government of South Africa was a positive and
contributing factor towards the process of negotiations,
it is also important to understand clearly, as we have
stated above, that this was not just an act of good
South Africa had become a pariah state internationally
and the people in SA had rendered the country ungovernable.
The armed struggle was making it impossible to continue
to maintain the myth that apartheid could be maintained
through force and South Africa's involvement in Angola
had eroded the myth that the South African Defence Force
(SADF) was invincible.
This myth was resoundingly crushed by the humiliating
defeat of the SADF in the battle of Quito Cunavale,
in the South of Angola by the Angolan army (FAPLA) supported
by the internationalist Cuban forces.
"GROOTE SCHUUR MINUTE"
While our political organisations were unbanned in
1990, there were still obstacles to the holding of negotiations.
A discussion needed to be held to deal with these obstacles.
The historic meeting that took place in Cape Town and
produced what was called the Groote Schuur Minute, was
the first formal meeting between the African National
Congress and the government and was co-chaired by our
former President Nelson Mandela and the then president
of South Africa, F.W. de Klerk. Among the issues that
constituted the obstacles were the following:
The release of political prisoners;
The safe return of our people from exile; and
An end to the state of emergency that was in force in
The resultant agreement aimed at removing these obstacles
was the first major agreement between the South African
government and the liberation movement and it is this
agreement, which finally laid the firm basis for the
At this meeting, a working group was established to
make recommendations on a definition of political offences
in the South African situation. It ad to discuss, in
this regard, time scales, and to advise on norms and
mechanisms for dealing with the release of political
prisoners and the granting of immunity in respect of
political offences to those inside and outside South
Agreement was reached that the proceedings of the working
group would be confidential as well as on specific time
frames for the completion of this task.
Agreement was also reached on the urgent need to consider
temporary immunity from prosecution for political offences
committed prior to the meeting, of members of the ANC
Executive Committee and the facilitation of their return
into the country so they could assist in the establishment
and management of political structures within the country.
This was necessary so that they could assist in ending
violence and take part in peaceful political negotiations.
The government undertook to review existing security
legislation to bring it into line with the new dynamic
situation developing in the country and reiterated its
commitment to work towards the lifting of the state
Efficient channels of communication between the two
parties would be established in order to curb violence
and intimidation from both quarters effectively.
Accordingly, liaison committees were then established
at regional and district level to ensure that these
conditions were created at all levels across the country.
"THE CONVENTION FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOUTH AFRICA"
For our agreement to hold and be respected by all political
groupings, it was important for all political parties
in the country to be involved in the negotiations so
that in the end they would all own the final product.
The final question that remained centred around who
would chair the negotiations. We were all in agreement
that we did not want outside mediators. We wanted South
Africans to conduct their searched for eminent persons
within South Africa whom we regarded as having the necessary
credibility to carry out the task effectively and objectively.
There was agreement that this person also had to be
neither from government nor from the ANC. Due to our
particular history, we settled on two South African
judges, one white and one black to ensure that they
would be acceptable to all.
The next step was to agree on the process of reaching
agreement. It was agreed that there would be no voting
due to the imbalance in the size of the political parties
represented in the negotiation process.
This would have had the effect of allowing some parties
to dominate the process, therefore it was agreed that
sufficient consensus would be used as a measure of agreement.
The judges would make the final pronouncement on whether
there was indeed sufficient consensus. This way the
smaller parties would feel included in the process.
For any negotiation to succeed, all the parties in
conflict should be ready and committed to negotiate
and resolve their problems.
They should put the interests of the country and the
people above the interest of their individual political
parties. There should be honesty and no attempt to manipulate
or act with hidden agendas. There should be trust because
a lack of trust can be a serious obstacle to reaching
At this point, the ANC had not suspended its armed
struggle. At a meeting held in Pretoria, in August 1990,
the ANC, in the interest of moving as speedily as possible
towards a negotiated settlement, and to create the conducive
atmosphere for peaceful negotiations to take place,
announced that it was suspending all armed actions with
When the ANC, which was formed in 1912, moved from
non-violent engagement to armed struggle in 1961, when
all avenues of peaceful protest and negotiations had
been closed, it was with the express objective of creating
a situation were the government would be compelled to
reach a political settlement with the liberation movement.
Therefore, even at this point, the ANC was certainly
prepared to continue the armed struggle, for as long
as was necessary for the liberation of our people.
At the meeting in Pretoria, which produced the Pretoria
Minute, the government and the ANC recommitted themselves
to the Groote Schuur Minute and declared their conviction
that what the parties had agreed to could become a milestone
on the road to true peace and prosperity for south Africa.
Issues relating to the granting of indemnity for certain
categories of persons were agreed upon as well as the
process of releasing political prisoners and the granting
of indemnity, which was to be completed by 30 April
Agreement was reached on the repealing of provisions
of the Internal Security Act and on the need to reduce
the levels of violence and intimidation amongst sectors
of the South African population.
All of these processes finally opened the way for the
start of substantive negotiations for a political settlement
in South Africa. It is important to note that such was
the commitment of all parties to the peace process that
all agreed without any hesitation that the negotiations
would be held within the borders of South Africa.
It is important to note also that we negotiated a political
settlement first and then dealt with drafting the Constitution
- which is not usually the case in other countries.
"TRANSITIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL"
The parties involved in the negotiations in the Convention
for a Democratic South Africa negotiations took a decision
to form a Transitional Executive Council (TEC) which
would deal with the implementation of decisions taken
during the negotiation process.
All the decisions of the TEC, which mainly related
to the negotiation process, had to be endorsed by parliament
for them to become legally and constitutionally binding.
This was necessary, as the process of drawing up of
the interim constitution had still to be undertaken.
The TEC was tasked with the implementation of all the
decisions taken at the multiparty negotiations, leading
up to the first democratic elections.
At the multiparty negotiations, agreement was reached
on the need to establish a Government of National Unity
(GNU!) and on the formulation of an interim Constitution
for this Government of National Unity. In the meantime,
the National Assembly had the responsibility to draft
up the new Constitution for South Africa.
The Government of National Unity and the National Assembly
during this period were guided by the Interim Constitution.
As all political parties had participated in the multiparty
negotiations, the outcomes of the negotiations were
owned by everyone, and this eliminated dissent to a
Amongst the issues that were agreed upon, was that
each political party needed to have at least 5% support
nationally in order to qualify for a seat in the National
A specific percentage for parties to qualify to be
in the executive was also agreed to during the negotiations.
As a result of this agreement three parties namely the
IFP, NP and the ANC formed the Government of National
A common thread that held together all those participating
in the negotiation process was the principle of reconciliation.
It was expressed in practical terms in the inclusive
nature of the negotiation process, which allowed the
representation of all political parties irrespective
of their size.
It was further expressed in the manner in which the
interim constitution was crafted, particularly with
regard to the constitutional imperative to establish
a Government of National Unity.
"TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION"
As a further effort to enhance our process of reconciliation,
a decision was taken to establish a Truth and Reconciliation
The motivation was that for reconciliation to last
and to be real, the truth had to be told of what had
happened during the course of the conflict and that
this had to be done by both sides.
We though it was important for South Africans to know
what damage had been done to the humanity, the social
fabric and the psyche of all South Africans from both
ends of the political spectrum. And so that it should
serve as a lesson for future generations to ensure that
such an evil and inhumane system shall never again be
allowed to exist in South Africa.
The TRC hearings were widely broadcast on radio and
television making it possible for the entire nation
to participate. Emotional scenes where communities and
individuals came face to face with their persecutors
who gave gruesome descriptions of the murders that they
committed in defence of the inhuman system of apartheid.
Families of people who had gone missing without trace
for years were able to achieve closure when they finally
found out what had happened to their loved ones.
Also profoundly moving was the experience of observing
South Africans, who had been used as killing machines
by the apartheid government, confronting their horrendous
past and seeking pardon for their deeds from their victims
and their families.
The conditions for pardon were a full disclosure and
proof of political motivation and political sanction.
Many benefited from the process while many found this
confrontation of their past difficult.
We remain convinced that the process was beneficial
as a healing process to many South Africans who were
afforded the opportunity to achieve closure. To know
what had happened to their fathers, mothers, sons and
daughters - where possible to lay their remains to rest
and to move on.
In recognition of the fact that reconciliation is a
process and not an event, the TRC in its final report
made specific recommendations and proposals in an attempt
to contribute to the process of national unity and reconciliation.
This long and arduous process of multiparty political
negotiations has laid a solid foundation, which makes
our democracy, freedom and reconciliation solid and
We have also established institutions that seek to
strengthen the culture of democracy and respect of human
rights such as the Human Rights Commission, the
Gender Commission, the Youth Commission, the Public
Protector, an independent judiciary to name a few.
We believe we have achieved so much as a country because
we put our differences aside and put South Africa and
its people first. We believe that regardless of conditions
in any conflict, peace is always achievable if there
is total commitment, honesty, a clear vision of the
way forward, and a concrete plan of how to get there.
We wish the people of the Middle East well in their
endeavours towards peace. The experience of South Africa,
which had a complex conflict, and the success of other
countries in other continents, proves that peace is
an achievable goal.
We wish the Israelis and the Palestinians, and all
parties working to resolve conflicts - well on the road
ahead, and are confident that they can find common ground.
I Thank You