South African talks survive sabre-rattling abuse and bluster: Plans for democratic elections within a year remain on course after an eventful day of multi-party negotiations

CIRCUITOUS speeches, sabre-rattling and futile semantic debate conveyed the illusion of no progress at multi-party constitutional talks yesterday, but delegates of the main parties said the day's events boded well for plans to hold South Africa's first democratic elections in the next year.

The fact, as government and African National Congress officials noted afterwards, was that 26 parties representing virtually every point of view on the political spectrum had met and, no blood having been spilt, had agreed to meet again. Business, which was originally scheduled to last two days, was wrapped up in one.

The radical Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) and the far-right Conservative Party exchanged invective, the government blustered, the Inkatha Freedom Party and the ANC strained to keep up civil appearances, the likes of the Dikwankwetla Party and the United People's Front (whose slogan is 'Love and Peace') enjoyed a rare day in the sun and, in a favourite negotiator's phrase, the process remained on course.

The fear was that the Conservative Party, and perhaps Inkatha, might jump ship: they might refuse to persist with negotiations unless two demands they share were met, namely that the ANC's and PAC's armed wings should be disbanded and that agreement should be reached on a federal system of government for 'the new South Africa'.

But both issues were referred for discussion to a newly-constituted 'negotiating council', a sort of negotiations cabinet which, it was unanimously agreed, would from now on meet four days a week.

The most significant part of the day's business was discharged in the first hour when agreement was reached - again unanimously - on all the technical procedures, numbers of delegates in each forum and suchlike, that will apply in future negotiations. Disputes, all also agreed, would be resolved on the basis of 'sufficient consensus', a concept which all parties struggled to define but which has appeared, in practice, to work.

Point two on yesterday's agenda was what to call the new negotiations body. Last year it was the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa). The ANC wanted the name to be retained, but some of the parties who only joined the process this year and others who did not like the tentative deals Codesa struck, such as Inkatha, wanted a change. In total, 10 new names were proposed - Nefsa; Codesa/Nefsa; Sacof; Cofsa; Conedsa; Conesad; Decosa; Mpcc; Mpdc and Negosa.

A ballot was proposed but, in the absence of sufficient consensus, the issue was referred to the negotiating council.

Violence, which everyone agreed was the principal obstacle to democratic change, was the next issue, and the one on which everyone insisted on having a say. After four hours of speech-making, in which the objective was more to score political points than substantially to address the conundrum, it was again decided to refer the matter to the negotiating council - which, it emerged during the course of the day, is South Africa's transitional government in waiting.

It was important, nevertheless, for the politicians to let off steam, especially the white politicians. Whites have been killed in politically motivated attacks recently and, though far more blacks die in such incidents every day, both the National Party government and the Conservative Party had to be seen to be addressing the terrors of their constituencies.

Hernus Kriel, the Minister of Law and Order, said it was imperative 'to bring down the level of violence to an acceptable level'. The Minister of Manpower, Leon Wessels, called into question the seriousness of the PAC's participation in talks when its armed wing, the shadowy Azanian People's Liberation Army (Apla), was claiming responsibility for some of the white deaths. The Conservative Party's Schalk Pienaar called for the 'suspension of negotiations with the murder machines'.

The PAC's information secretary, Barney Desai, said for his part that the South African security forces had been involved in 2,000 times more complaints, 900 times more prosecutions and 200 times more convictions than Apla.

(Photograph omitted)

Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football
News
news
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
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
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
News
Melissa and Joan Rivers together at an NBC event in May 2014
peopleDaughter Melissa thanks fans for 'outpouring of support'
Life and Style
life
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
News
peopleWrestling veteran drifting in and out of consciousness
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
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
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

IT Support Manager - Staffordshire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Manager - Near...

Nursery assistants required for day to day roles in Cambridge

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40 - £50K first year: SThree: SThree Group an...

Corporate Communications Manager - London - £60,000

£55000 - £60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Corporate Marketing Communications M...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone