The Constitution for the Republic of South Africa 1993, as the 43-page document was entitled, provided the framework for a new system of government designed to come into effect in September or October this year after it is endorsed by the current, white-dominated Parliament.
The plan, largely approved by the government and the African Nationalist Congress but rejected by the CP and the Inkatha Freedom Party, is for this constitution to serve during a two-year interim. Then a final constitution is to be adopted by a new government due to be elected in April next year, when all South Africans go to the polls for the first time.
The new constitution contemplates two legislative chambers - a lower house comprising 400 elected members; and an upper house consisting of 10 members elected from each federal region. MPs will be elected under porportional representation. The final constitution would be written by the two houses and would require a referendum with 60 per cent approval for final ratification.
Each region would also have its own legislature and, subject to the principles of the constitution, its own constitution.
The draft constitution contains a list of principles which all parties taking part in negotiations have pledged themselves to observe when the final constitution is drawn up. According to one of these principles, 'The national government shall not exercise its powers . . . so as to encroach upon the geographical, functional or institutional integrity of the 'regions'.'
The purpose of this clause, is to soothe Inkatha anxieties that central government, which they expect to be the ANC, will ride roughshod over the Zulu province they believe they can secure control over in an election.
Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Inkatha leader, says he will continue to boycott talks. He has rejected the document, citing it as an illustration of what he sees as collusion between the ANC and the government.
Inkatha's CP allies said the draft constitution destroyed all hope of a peaceful settlement. 'It is a recipe for civil war, further economic deterioration and a spiral of violence and crime which will reduce the country to ruin,' said CP leader Ferdi Hartzenberg.Reuse content