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The FW de Klerk Foundation writes regular articles on topical issues, supports language and cultural rights and participates in the national debate on racial and cultural issues. The Foundation also promotes communication by holding conferences and workshops.

The road to 2 February 1990 can be traced back to the creation of the Union of South Africa in 1910.  

In 1909 Britain decided to establish a union of its principal colonies in southern Africa along the lines of the successful federations that it had set up in Australia and Canada.  The difference was that in the other dominions the white populations greatly outnumbered the indigenous peoples - while in South Africa they comprised less than 25% of the total population. 

Nevertheless, in keeping with the colonial approach of the times, Britain gave white South Africans a monopoly of power in the newly established Union. It was an arrangement that, in a rapidly changing world, would eventually prove to be untenable.

For the next 40 years South Africa developed along the lines of the other Commonwealth dominions.  Until the mid-fifties, in a continent that was still dominated by European powers, white minority rule in South Africa seemed unexceptional.  In a world in which racial discrimination was still shockingly the rule, South Africa’s segregation policies elicited little criticism. 

200131 FWDK

It is a great pleasure for me to address you this afternoon - on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the speech that I delivered to Parliament on 2 February 1990 - which initiated the constitutional transformation of South Africa.  

It was the beginning of the resolution of the core problem that had dogged South Africa since the establishment of the Union in 1910.  That problem arose from the fact that - in keeping with the colonial approach of the times - Britain had vested total power in the new Union in the hands of the minority white nation. 

In a rapidly changing world, this relationship would prove to be increasingly untenable.

200131 TE1. Background

It is generally acknowledged that the first cracks in the apartheid system appeared in 1976, when the youth of Soweto (near Johannesburg) started to protest against the system that they experienced as unjust. The ANC in exile claimed credit for this uprising. This was met by stern measures by the South African government. That, however, did not quell the internal or external resistance. When the National Party Government used the 1983 General (but whites only) Election to get a mandate to establish a tricameral parliament, thereby including so-called coloureds and South Africans from Asian descent, but cementing the exclusion of Africans, the resistance increased. A variety of internal organisations, ranging from labour unions to community organisations, formed the United Democratic Front (UDF) to channel the resistance. The UDF was, cleverly, established in such a way that it was very difficult for the government to ban it as an organisation.

200131 GWEN

Last year the Wall Street Journal wrote that South Africa was at a crossroads, in 2018 the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement was too titled ‘South Africa at a Crossroads’, stressing the difficult economic and fiscal choices confronting the government, and in 2017 South Africa was once again at a crossroads according to a discussion held at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. No doubt an expert in something, somewhere, was saying we are at a crossroads the year before that, and again another ten years before that.

In thinking through how we might edge closer to the vision in the Constitution, it would be trite of me to say that we are at a crossroads now, upon which the future of entire constitutionalism depends. Because more often than not, there is a fork in the road and choices to be made. There is seldom novelty in it, we are constantly presented with choices of profound significance that will lead us in one direction instead of another. I say this because when I present what I think are our choices, this is not a singular crossroads or watershed moment. Rather some of our temporal choices until we soon are confronted with another fork in the road.

The deadline for comments on the draft amendment bill on section 25 of the Constitution (the so-called Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill) is fast approaching. Numerous organisations are busy putting their comments in writing. The majority of these will oppose it, while committing themselves to the urgent need for land reform in terms of the present Constitution.

CONSTITUTIONS OPT1.   The FW de Klerk Foundation (the Foundation) was established in 1999 to protect and promote the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, as the most important legacy of its founder, former President FW de Klerk.

2.   Accordingly, the Foundation endeavours to contribute positively to the promotion and protection of our constitutional democracy. As such, the Foundation welcomes the opportunity to make a concise submission - per the invitation by the Ad Hoc Committee to initiate and introduce legislation amending section 25 of the Constitution (the Committee) on the Bill published in Government Gazette Notice 42902 of 13 December 2019.

2020 opt

In a recent article, I wrote about five trends that will characterise 2020. These five are:

  • Greater centralisation and State control by the ANC government on the actions of South Africans;
  • Better investigations, charges and prosecutions by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Hawks.
  • The gradual but definite erosion of government institutions' ability to govern, manage, maintain and provide basic services;
  • The ongoing infighting within the ANC and its alliance partners (and accompanying attacks on President Ramaphosa); and
  • The stagnant economy (with the possibility of a downgrade lurking).

In the past week, the focus of the media and citizens has specificially been on the infighting in the ANC (no. 4 above), which was influenced and even driven by Eskom's problems (no. 3 above). 

IACD2019 logo

All those who are concerned about the future of sport and recreation in South Africa should give very serious attention to the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill [B-2020] that has been presented for public comment before 28 February.   The Bill has serious implications - not only for sport and recreation - but also for the principle that citizens and organisations in free societies should be able to go about their lawful activities and business without undue interference or prescription by the state.   

The Bill - which will amend the National Sport and Recreation Act, No. 110 of 1998 - would diminish the role of sports federations, clubs and individuals and give the Minister (Mr Nathi Mthethwa) wide-ranging powers to dictate policy to virtually everyone involved in the sport and recreation sector.  In terms of 1998 Act, his power was limited to determining general policy - only after consultation with the Sports Confederation.  The Bill would give the Minister the untrammelled power, “from time to time to determine and publish policy objectives to be achieved by Sports and Recreation South Africa, the Sports Confederation and sports or recreation bodies”.

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