Pretoria sets out timetable for transition

FROM A distance, a small protest march on the South African parliament yesterday suggested that the African National Congress had reneged on its promise to call off such demonstrations this year, the rationale being that all energies should now be concentrated on preparing for elections.

Closer inspection revealed that, in a sign of the times, the demonstrators were all white, fashionably dressed and politically non- aligned - croupiers and barmen, it turned out, expressing their displeasure at a government bill that came into effect at midnight on Sunday outlawing casinos in South Africa.

Inside parliament, meanwhile, the government was busy explaining a gamble it considers to be perfectly legitimate but whose wisdom, the polls show, an increasing number of whites doubt. The bet is that whites will cede power without losing political control.

Roelf Meyer, Minister of Constitutional Development and the government's chief negotiator, set out in more detail than ever before the timetable foreseen for the transition to a government representative of the entire population.

The resumption of multi-party talks - suspended since May - was expected by the end of this month, Mr Meyer told parliament. By the end of June a non- elected body called the Transitional Executive Council would be in place.

The TEC will be made up of representatives from all the major parties, black and white, and its task will be 'to level the playing- field' for free and fair elections.

Mr Meyer was at pains to stress that this was not a 'transitional government'. The serving executive would remain in place. However, the TEC would be formally bound to the government and its input on the role of the security forces, the state media and electoral mechanisms would be more than merely advisory.

'Its capacity for political intervention the government will not be able to ignore,' Mr Meyer told journalists.

The multi-party negotiators will aim to reach agreement on a transitional constitution - replacing the existing one - the object of which will be to adapt the law in such a way as to allow for all South Africans to vote in an election by April next year at the latest. (President F W de Klerk hinted on South African television on Sunday night that such an election might take place this year, depending on the degree to which political violence had been controlled.)

Voting will be for a body which will serve both as parliament and, as the phrase goes, 'constitution- making body'. This will be known as the transitional government and, as has already been agreed by the government and the ANC, it will not function on the majority- rule principle, but on the notion of power-sharing.

A number of obstacles remain, Mr Meyer said, including the devolution of regional powers and how exactly power will be apportioned both in the TEC and the transitional government.

Mr Meyer deftly defined the conundrum facing the government and the ANC. 'On the one hand we are negotiating partners engaged in drawing up the constitution and the rules of the game, and on the other we are political opponents in an election campaign. And once the elections are over, the major parties will in turn become joint rulers in terms of the concept of power-sharing.'

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones