Veranstaltungsberichte

The role of the Konrad Adneauer Foundation in the past ten years of South Africa Democratic Evolution

von Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Remarks by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MP, President of the Inkatha Freedom Party held on the Goethe Institute Symposium "Promoting Democracy!- The world of the German political foundations" on November 5, 2004 in Johannesburg

At the outset, I would like to commend the organisers of this important function for the timely and meritorious initiative of highlighting the key role, which the German political foundations have played in the South African transitional process from apartheid to democracy, and in the consolidation of our democratic institutions.

It is natural for each country that has gone through such a dramatic process of transformation, to rightly take pride in its successful outcome. This, alas, might not give sufficient credit to the great assistance we receive from friends abroad.

For this reason, it is a great pleasure for me to acknowledge the great contribution given to our transition from apartheid to democracy by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. I have maintained a relationship with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, which has been one of the major aspects of my intense dialogue with the people, and the Government of the federal Republic of Germany, for the past three decades.

In this dialogue I have personally witnessed how much the German people, and their Government, have contributed to promoting a democratic outcome in South Africa. I am personally indebted to the Government of Germany for the support it gave me when I took a principled stand for a negotiated solution to the South African dilemma, rather than the path of the armed struggle and military confrontation.

Other governments isolated leaders of the liberation struggle such as myself, who did not jump on the bandwagon of the armed struggle, international sanctions against South Africa, and the campaign for disinvestment. But the German government maintained a more pragmatic approach. An approach which recognised that a radicalisation of the conflict of South Africa, would have not been in the interest of any party concerned.

This approach was followed by the American Government, when President Reagan began the policy of constructive engagement, which was foreshadowed by the action of the German government.

Even at that crucial juncture, the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation was very active in promoting the understanding of the complex South African situation within Germany. You did this over and above a simplified version of events which gained currency in many circles. A version which reduced the South African dilemma to a confrontation between a small, oppressive, white minority on the one hand, and a consolidated and united oppressed black majority, seeking its liberation, on the other.

The conflict in South Africa, of course, was much more complex. The conflict included the so-called black-on-black conflict. This conflict was a greater source of tragedy within our country. It claimed the lives of over twenty thousand people in an internal low intensity civil war, aimed at gaining supremacy and hegemony within the liberation movement. While everyone shared the similar intention to promote the liberation of our people from the oppression of apartheid, there were sharp different views on the methodology to achieve this.

I, for one, endorsed the original strategy of the ANC, which was based on non-violence, passive resistance and the seizing of a moral high ground to promote and negotiate a solution. The Konrad-Adenauer Foundation, and through it the German Government, were very conducive to this approach finally prevailing. In the end, the South African process ended up being where both I and the German Government always argued it should have been. Namely at the negotiating table, negotiating, negotiating and negotiating.

At the negotiating table, the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation also had a major influence. While American political foundations, like the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, were less inclined to participate in the process with actual inputs of thinking, reflection and critical analysis, the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation made several inputs available to all participants, to highlight the importance of a federal model of democracy.

At the time it was stated policy of the U.S. Government that South Africa should have been assisted in realising the benefits of a federal state, rather than a democratic settlement based on a unitary state. Little was done, however, on the American side to educate the participants on the negotiating process on the benefits of a federal democracy.

The ANC approached negotiations from the viewpoint of a centralising philosophy to state and Government. Actually, they admitted to not having applied their mind to the entire issue of the form of state. Namely whether South Africa should have been a federal, unitary or regional state, and the relative merits of each option.

It was only when we were well into the negotiation process, sometime after November 1992, that the ANC actually developed what it described as its provincial policy. By that time, I had clearly tabled on the negotiation agenda, the issue of the form of state. This approach demanded that South Africa be organised as a federal democracy, to receive the well-known benefits of a segmentation of government, and the related system of checks- and-balances.

In this respect, I need to take pride in the great achievement of my own Party. I do so not to highlight what we did, but to say that we could not have achieved what we did without the assistance of the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation. In fact, when the draft interim Constitution was finalised at the World Trade Centre in September 1993, it made no provision for any type of province, or other type of autonomous subdivision of the state, to be established in the so-called interim period between 1994 and 1999.

Provision was made that in 1994 South Africa would have been born as a unitary State, and the Constitutional Assembly would have been empowered. For this reason, such draft made provision for a Commission on Regionalisation, which was tasked with having to prepare a proposal for the post-regionalisation of South Africa into provinces or regions. This proposal was to be delivered to the Constitutional Assembly, which would have finally decided whether or not provinces should have come into existence at all, which would only have happened after 1999.

It was obvious that if South Africa was born as a unitary state, it would have been extremely unlikely that the Constitutional Assembly, controlled as it was by a party such as the ANC, which was bent on the philosophy and practice of a unitary state, could have ever produced a federal regional outcome. It was only because of the strong negotiating stand of the IFP, that the interim Constitution was amended after its finalisation in September 1993. This took place during the process of bilateral negotiation between the IFP and its counterparts, which was held between October 1993 and March 1994.

This even led to the recalling of Parliament for one day, a few days before elections, to make last minute amendments to the interim Constitution, that Parliament had previously adopted in December 1993. During this crucial stage, provision was made for provinces to be established in the interim period and from the very outset of the new Republic. As importantly, additional provision was made in the constitutional principles, which were regulating and circumscribing the discretion of the Constitutional Assembly, that under no condition could the Constitutional Assembly reduce the powers of the provinces.

This turn in the negotiation process was also due to the great influence that the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation exercised. Not only on us as one of the participants who were devoted to the notion of federalism, but also and foremost on those who were against it. The Konrad-Adenauer Foundation made available a wealth of knowledge to the ANC, which enabled it to move away from the fears it had that federalism or the devolution of power was tantamount to the Balkanization of South Africa.

The more the ANC leaders became familiar with the German model, the more they realised that they had nothing to fear from opening the door to federalism and devolution of powers. This resulted in an even greater appreciation of the German federal model after the adoption of the interim Constitution, as the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation was extremely active in providing a wealth of information to the Constitutional Assembly, which began drafting the final Constitution right after the April 1994 elections.

As we all know, this resulted in the Constitutional Assembly adopting the Council of Provinces, which is closely modeled on the German experience, as well as many other features of the German Constitution and practice.

At the time, I placed on public record that this process did not go far enough because many of the most salient features of the German Constitution were left out. This meant that our form of devolution of power in the end has been greatly diluted leaving provinces without a significant degree of autonomy. This is in spite of the wide-ranging legislative and executive powers and competencies to which provinces are entitled in terms of the Constitution.

I was correct in my prediction, as provinces have now become mere administrative implementors of policies and legislation, which are decided uniformly at the national level. They have not developed any significant autonomy in formulating policies and taking initiatives of their own. Aware of these deficiencies, the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation has been very active in assisting provinces who wish to follow the path of applying their own mind to issues.

Many workshops have been held to enable provinces to exercise a much greater measure of the many powers, and functions to which they are entitled under the Constitution, and which they have rarely exercised. One would only need to compare the list of such powers and functions with the actual legislation adopted by provincial legislatures, to realise that almost no independent legislation has been adopted. And whatever legislation has been adopted at the provincial level, it has often been called for by national legislation, rather than being the product of an independent exercise of legislative power, on the basis of concurrence, as it was envisaged in the Constitution.

The Konrad-Adenauer Foundation has also been extremely active on a variety of crucial issues for the purpose of enabling the participants to hold such debates, to have a better and clearer understanding of the subject matter involved. Many such debates were of such a controversial nature, that other domestic and international NGO’s shied away from them, and yet they have been so fundamental to the consolidation of our democracy.

I can mention one example, which is amongst many, which was the debate on Traditional Leadership in Local Governments. The Konrad-Adenauer Foundation provided a variety of opportunities for participants across the spectrum of this debate, to come together and discuss its various aspects. Seminars were held, some of which resulted in large publications, which still remain some of the most important source documents on Traditional Leadership.

The Konrad-Adenauer Foundation has also created opportunities for the important stakeholders, including Traditional Leaders, but not limited to them, to enable them to make substantial inputs in the White and Green papers on local government. Another important example which I can mention for the inputs of the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation to the consolidation of our democracy, was their sponsoring of the International Conference held in respect of the formulation of a new electoral system of South Africa, and the initiative of the Electoral Task Team that I appointed when I was the Minister of Home Affairs.

I cannot stress enough to the participants of this prestigious Conference the importance of the electoral system in consolidating a democracy, nor the fact that our electoral system is somehow flawed and inadequate, because it does not ensure sufficient accountability. This flaw was highlighted in the International Conference, sponsored by the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation which led the Electoral Task Team to produce a different model of an electoral system, and even a draft Bill which was submitted to Cabinet.

The ANC-controlled Cabinet, however, rejected the proposal of the Electoral Task Team, which was endorsed by me as the line function Minister, perhaps because it made the very same people in that Cabinet much more accountable to the electorate. The matter was left with a promise that the new Government would look again at the proposal of the Electoral Task Team. We still expect this undertaking to be fulfilled and a more accountable electoral system to be finally tabled before Parliament.

Over and above the actual inputs in major policy formulation relating to our institutional system, the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation has been very active in bridging the gap between legality and reality. Often great constitutions and laws are adopted in countries where democracy does not flourish upwards at the grassroots level.

For this reason, the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation has been active in training councillors, and assisting in the process of transformation of municipal structures, mindful of the fact that democracy really begins at the local government level. Making local government not only efficient, but effective and accountable, remains one of South Africa’s greatest priorities. These are just some of the highlights of the work of the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation, with whom I have had the privilege of being associated for so many years.

A full description of ten years of such activities would require many hours. And indeed I feel that it should be the object of an analytical and well-researched publication, which goes beyond describing what was done and actually investigates what was achieved and the foreseeable long-term impact of such achievements.

I fervently believe that through the work of the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation, seeds have been planted which will flourish and produce fruits for many decades to come, for the benefit of many future generations. The seeds of democracy will blossom, when they are properly nourished and planted on fertile soil. There is no doubt in my mind that South Africa provides fertile soil in which democracy can flourish, but we need to pay much greater attention to nourishing what we have planted.

There are very strong autocratic, authoritarian and centralistic tendencies operating in our country. I do not believe that our democracy is yet out of the woods. There is still space for major democratic involutions, which in our context do not necessarily need to take place in the form of dictatorships. But it take place in the form of a progressive disintegration of the democratic fibre of our communities, and state, by virtue of corruption and non-functioning of the institutions of Government.

For instance, I have seen how the divide between State and political parties is constantly being blurred and how the respective roles of the Legislature and the Executive are becoming constantly confused. I believe that the consistent commitment of all those like the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation, who are dedicated to consolidating our democracy, should be promoted and to create awareness of the need of ensuring the centrality of Parliament and its control over the Executive.

It is regrettable that most of the legislation in our country comes from the Executive, not only in terms of drafting, but also in terms of the policy formulation and the initiatives which underline it. We need to re-establish the centrality of Parliament by moving policy formulation from the Executive, to the Legislative branch of Government. By the same token, we need to have more defined divisions between State and Party on the one hand, as well as Government and civil society on the other.

We are witnessing the development of a continuum, in which a political party controls the state and the state control civil society. The final result is that a small group of people end up controlling all significant aspects of our economic, social and political lives.

The Konrad-Adenauer Foundation has always been committed to a model which not only relies on the notion of federalism, but also on that of pluralism, which I have endorsed for many decades. We need to develop South Africa into a truly and pluralist country, which has all the features of an open and free society.

This remains a very tall order for any institutions wishing to consolidate our democratic dream, not only in this country, but for the rest of the continent. It remains, however, an agenda which cannot be eluded. I remain committed to pursuing this agenda and I hope that all those who have been friends of South Africa will continue to be so. Even when it is unpopular and controversial.

Good friends are not those who condone the mistakes, shortcomings or neglect of their dear ones, but are rather those who point them out and help their friends to overcome them. We need critical friendships which points out the shortcomings in our democracy. I hope that the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation, as well as the participants in this important symposium, will continue to provide their contribution to do so. I thank you.

Symposium
5. November 2004
Goethe Institut, Johannesburg
Promoting Democracy!

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