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
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Latest stories from i100
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

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?