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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn