SPEECH BY FORMER PRESIDENT FW DE KLERK TO THE AFRIKANERBOND
26 OCTOBER 2005
CALL FOR A NEW ORGANISATION TO PRESENT A COMMON FRONT IN COMMUNICATION WITH THE GOVERNMENT
In many respects, we can be happy with current developments in South Africa:
- The economy is booming – it is expected that growth will exceed 4.5% this year;
- Interest rates – for the moment – are lower than they have been for decades;
- Inflation is under control;
- the deficit is below 3%;
- there are rumours of more tax cuts;
- The majority of white South Africans and Afrikaans speakers are more prosperous than they have ever been.
- However, unemployment among whites has increased from 6% in 1995 to 8% last year – with almost 400 000 whites now living in poverty.
At the same time there are a number of developments that we cannot ignore:
As we have recently witnessed in the Cape, the judiciary is under increasing pressure to transform. The current squabbles cannot be seen in isolation from the ANC National Executive Committee’s call in January this year for the transformation of the judiciary. Let me remind you of what they said:
“However, we are also confronted by the similarly important challenge to transform the collective mindset of the judiciary to bring it into consonance with the vision and aspirations of the millions who engaged in struggle to liberate our country from white minority domination. The reality can no longer be avoided that many within our judiciary do not see themselves as being part of these masses, accountable to them, and inspired by their hopes, dreams and value systems. If this persists for too long, it will inevitably result in popular antagonism towards the judiciary and our courts, with serious and negative consequences for our democratic system as a whole.”
The statement has serious implications. We always thought that the judiciary should be accountable to the constitution and the law – and not to any particular segment of society.
The redistribution of property
It would be unwise to underestimate the ANC’s commitment to some form of redistribution as part of its programme to eliminate the heritage of apartheid and colonialism.
- According to the 2002 preface to the ANC’s main policy guideline – its Strategy and Tactics document –
“a critical element of the programme for national emancipation should be the elimination of apartheid property relations.”
Among other things, this will require
“the de-racialisation of ownership and control of wealth, including land”.
It will also require
“the elimination of the legacy of apartheid super-exploitation and inequality, and the redistribution of wealth and income to benefit society as a whole, especially the poor”.
The ANC views this as
“a continuing struggle which, as a matter of historical necessity, will loom ever larger as we proceed along the path of fundamental change. Because property relations are at the core of all social systems, the tensions that decisive application to this objective will generate will require dexterity in tact and firmness in principle.”
- Following the ANC’s National General Council meeting in July this year, Deputy Secretary General Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele reported that delegates had discussed the continuing ‘skewed property relations’ in South Africa. She said that after ten years of democratic rule
“ the assessment of the comrades is that we might not have done enough within this period.” “…you don’t get the sense that the property clause has allowed for people to enjoy the distribution of the wealth. You still have the same pockets of wealth, where they were in the past.”
She added that there was a need for the ANC to return to the Strategy and Tactics document (the organisation’s highest policy guideline) that it adopted in 1997, in order to
“speed up and accelerate the pace of making sure that we address this very critical issue”.
- On 2 July Jeff Radebe, the ANC’s head of policy, said that the next National Consultative Conference in 2007 (the ANC’s highest policy-making body) would consider whether the property clause
“adopted by us and endorsed in the 1996 national constitution is still relevant now “.
Redistribution of Agricultural Land
- The Government’s goal is to transfer 30% of productive land to black individuals and collectives by 2014
- In addition, the AgriBEE charter stipulates that by the same year white agricultural interests should make an additional 20% of “high potential and unique agricultural land” available to black South Africans on a leasehold basis.
- White farmers will also be required to make an additional 10% of their land available to farm workers to enable them to grow their own crops and keep their own animals.
- Thus, altogether, 60% of agricultural land would come under black control within the next nine years.
- Deputy-President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has openly questioned the willing seller/willing buyer principle.
- Notice of expropriation has been given to six farmers in NW province.
Black Economic Empowerment
- One of BEE’s stated goals is to redress ‘the imbalances of the past by seeking to substantially and equitably transfer and confer the ownership, management and control of South Africa’s financial and economic resources to the majority of its citizens’.
- Among the targets recommended by the BEE Commission and accepted in the Department of Trade and Industry’s Code of Good Practice is that
- “black equity participation in each sector of the economy should be increased to at least 25%.
- Black South Africans should comprise 40% of management
- 50 % of goods and services should be procured from black empowered companies”
- Some sectoral charters set higher ownership goals: for example the draft charter for the health sector proposes that 35% of the sector should be transferred to black hands by 2010 and 51% by 2014.
Afrikaans language and education
There can be no doubt that Afrikaans educational institutions are under great pressure;
- Current language debate at Stellenbosch;
- Dilution of Afrikaans at other traditionally Afrikaans universities;
- Government intentions revealed by Mikro case;
- Recent court decision ordering two Afrikaans schools in Kuruman to become dual medium schools.
WHAT SHOULD OUR RESPONSE BE?
- Clearly, there is no room for complacency.
At the same time, we must not over-react:
- The ANC may not have the will or the ability to implement these policies because they are irreconcilable with its broad economic approach.
- They may be rhetorical window-dressing to placate the masses;
- The ANC has given repeated assurances regarding its commitment to the preservation of Afrikaans;
We simply cannot ignore key ANC policy announcements – particularly because they are now beginning to impact significantly on
- Afrikaans educational institutions;
- Afrikaans businesses;
- Afrikaans workers and
- Afrikaans farmers.
- It does not make any sense for Afrikaans institutions to try to resolve this questions in fragmented discussions with government.
Individual organizations (AB, AHI, ATKV, Agri-South Africa, Solidarity, FWdK Foundation) all feel flattered by the special access that they have to government. But how much do they actually achieve? Are they not encountering what the ANC calls ‘dexterity of tact and firmness of principle? Are they not all dealing with different aspects of transformation?
We will be much more effective if we can present a united front on key transformation questions that affect property, culture, education and racial discrimination.
- We need to mobilize preferably around the constitution rather than on an ethnic basis;
- The constitution contains rights that address all our principle cultural, educational and property concerns;
- It provides a framework for acceptable transformation;
- It means that concerned people from other communities – English-speaking, Coloureds and Asians – could join the process;
- It would be nationally and internationally more acceptable than ethnic mobilization which would be seen as a retrogression to apartheid divisions.
- We have a right to insist on compliance with principals that we negotiated in good faith.
- We need to create a new organization that will articulate our concerns and present a common front in our interaction with government;
- A coherent non-governmental organization will have more real power and be more effective in promoting our interests than political parties which have been effectively emasculated by the ANC’s overwhelming parliamentary majority;
- Members of minority communities have an enormous need for an organization that will
- articulate their concerns;
- represent them in interaction with Government; and
- give leadership on key issues affecting their lives.
- Such an organization would
- Monitor government action and policy and measure it against the constitution;
- Advise people and organizations of their constitutional rights;
- Stimulate debate on issues of constitutional importance;
- Support a balanced transformation process;
- Assist people to claim their rights;
- Represent minority constitutional interests in interaction with the government.
- Practical steps
Appoint a steering committee
- to oversee the establishment of such an organization
- to arrange initial funding, staffing and logictics; and
- to arrange a founding national conference.