Address to the Global Forum 2002, 13
Deputy Prime Minister Margareta Winberg,
Chairperson of Global Forum 2003,
The Director of the Integration Agency,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
We can only do better from now on.
I thank you.