Address to the Global Forum 2002, 13 October 2003

Deputy Prime Minister Margareta Winberg,
Chairperson of Global Forum 2003,
The Director of the Integration Agency,
Distinguished guests,

Thank you very much for the invitation to participate in this important seminar to share our experiences relating to reconciliation and integration.

We are also pleased to be taking part in this seminar in Sweden, a country which stood with us and supported us in our struggle against apartheid, and which continues to work with us as we rebuild our country.

I must therefore use this opportunity to thank all the Swedish people for the comradeship and unwavering support during the dark days when friends were few.

Our modern history has been one of integration and reconciliation. This has come about because we realized that having survived apartheid brutality and dehumanization, we needed to ensure that no South African would experience such gross violation of their rights as human beings again.

In doing this, we sought from the beginning to lay the right foundations for a new society, by engaging in very inclusive negotiations for a political settlement.

There are a number of lessons that we can say we learnt from resolving our own conflict. We are today using these lessons in assisting in the resolution of conflicts within the Africa continent, although no two conflicts are ever totally identical.

I will briefly discuss some of these lessons Chairperson. I will begin with the process of resolving our conflict leading up to the first elections in 1994, and how we used the principle of inclusiveness and reconciliation to achieve unity and stability. I will then discuss our attempts to consolidate this unity and to reconcile our nation since 1994.

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 during the early 90s, due to a number of material factors, leading to a realisation that the status quo could no longer be prolonged.

During the 80'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 apartheid rule.

These groups also came to ascertain if the ANC was ready to govern.

The business and academic communities in South Africa had come to accept that the unjust system of government in South Africa could no longer be sustained. The apartheid 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 ungovernable.

There was a need to remove obstacles to negotiations and to create the right climate for negotiations to take place. A critical meeting held in Cape Town produced the Groote Schuur Minute, which identified obstacles to negotiations. These included:

The release of political prisoners;
The safe return of exiles; and
An end to the state of emergency that was in force in the country.
This laid the firm basis for the negotiations. We agreed that there would be no external mediation. 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.

This was once again the principle of inclusiveness at play.

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. Therefore it was agreed that the principle of sufficient consensus would be used as a measure of reaching agreements.

The judges would make the final pronouncement on whether there was indeed sufficient consensus. In this way the smaller parties would be fully included in the process, which would contribute to the success of the negotiations.

A key lesson we learnt during this period is that for any negotiation to succeed, all the parties in conflict should put the interests of the country and the people above the interest of their individual political parties. For, at times, these would be subjective and lead to difficulties for the negotiations process and the country.

There should be honesty and no attempt to manipulate or act with hidden agendas. There hould be trust because a lack of trust can be a serious obstacle to reaching agreement.

At a meeting held in Pretoria, in August 1990, the ANC announced that it was suspending the armed struggle with immediate effect, to create the conducive atmosphere for peaceful negotiations to take place.

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.

Also uniquely, we negotiated a political settlement first and then dealt with drafting the Constitution - which had not been usually the case in other countries.

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. The Inkatha Freedom Party, which had been one of the opposition parties, apartheid architects, the New National Party together with the ANC, formed the Government of National Unity after the first democratic elections in April 1994.

A common thread running through 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. As a further effort to enhance our process of reconciliation, a decision was taken to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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. This was to 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 witness the proceedings. 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.

The conditions for amnesty were a full disclosure and proof of political motivation and political sanction.

We remain convinced that the process was beneficial as a healing process to many people.

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.

Ladies and gentlemen, our long and arduous process of multiparty political negotiations laid a solid foundation, which makes our democracy, freedom and reconciliation solid and sustainable.

We have since 1994 done all we can to consolidate the unity and reconciliation and build a new nation. In 1994, the era of institutional racism and racial segregation ended in South Africa. We started with the reconstruction of everything, social political and economic, based on a new democratic Constitution.

Race was no longer a determinant of where a person would work, live or play or which school his or her children would attend. Our Constitution affirms equality for all, and we also passed legislation, which seeks to promote integration and eradicate discrimination.

This includes the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2000 which is self-explanatory and the Employment Equity Act of 1998, which sought to eradicate discrimination and to achieve a diverse workforce, broadly representative of the population.

We have established institutions that are meant to strengthen the culture of democracy and respect for human rights - such as the Human Rights Commission, the Gender Commission and the Public Protector to name a few.

A number of small but powerful actions contribute to this national consensus. The national symbols of the country were chosen in a manner that makes all South Africans find meaning in them.

For example, the national anthem incorporates some parts of the apartheid anthem "Die Stem" and "Nkosi Sikelel' i Africa," the anthem of most of the Southern African region, in addition to it having been an ANC anthem. This was difficult for the black majority to accept in the beginning, as "die Stem" to them was the anthem of the oppressor. It was equally difficult for the white minority, mainly those who supported from apartheid, to accept an ANC anthem.

Our national flag as well as the coat of arms also have reconciliatory symbolism.

We have also established a Cultural, Linguistic Religious Affairs Commission, provided for in the Constitution, which seeks to promote our diversity even further. In addition, the country has 11 official languages, to promote diversity.

We believe we have achieved so much because we put our differences aside and put South Africa and its people first. We saw our diversity as a strength and as providing lots of opportunities, and not as a threat or weakness.

We are aware that reconciliation and integration are difficult processes, but they can be achieved. If we have made progress, having gone through institutionalised racism, any nation can succeed.

Every day, we do all we can to make South Africa a better country for all.

Next year on April 27, we will celebrate the end of the first decade of our freedom.

We may still face socio-economic challenges, but we have laid the right foundation to deal with those challenges.

Out of all our modest achievements in the first decade of freedom, we are proud of the fact that in the ruins of division, pain and racism, we have laid a solid basis for a truly non-racial, non-sexist and united democratic South Africa.

We can only do better from now on.

I thank you.

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