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: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic