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The Future of South Africa’s Constituency System

Rietvleidam, 5 July 2000

As a result of recent calls by politicians, civil society and the media for changes to South Africa’s constituency system for public representatives, the Khululekani Institute for Democracy – in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation – held a conference entitled The Future of South Africa’s Constituency System at Rietvleidam on 5 July 2000. The aim of the conference was to assess and evaluate the effectiveness and future of South Africa’s electoral system, as well as to discuss and propose ways of strengthening the linkages between public representatives and citizens.

Opposition in South Africa’s New Democracy

28–30 June 2000, Kariega Game Reserve, Eastern Cape

Following its triumph in 1994, the African National Congress (ANC) was again returned to power, this time with almost two-thirds of the vote, and hence because of South Africa’s adoption of the national list system of proportional representation, nearly two-thirds of themembers of parliament (MPs). This result appeared to reinforce analysis which suggested that the ANC was becoming a ‘dominant’ political party – that is, one that was unlikely to lose any electoral contest for national power in the foreseeable future.This in turn aroused fears in some quarters that the ANC might become increasingly unaccountable, and perhaps increasingly arrogant in its use of the state machinery. Consequently, the post election period saw the development of a debate in the media about what role opposition parties – apparently excluded from power long term (although the Inkatha Freedom Party continued to serve as a juniorpartner in government with the ANC) – should and could play, especially given their state of fragmentation.A larger number of difficult questions began to be posed: should the opposition parties seek to combine, and if so, along what lines and around what principles? Should they seek to oppose ‘robustly’ or ‘constructively’? Was there a danger that unity amongst particular opposition parties might bring about a further racialisation of South African politics?

Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in South Africa

Conference 17–19 May 2000

The conference was organised by the Economics Desk: Justice and Peace Department of the Southern African Catholic Bishop’s Conference, together with the Bethlehem Social Academy and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The Justice and Peace Department believes it is important for local people to be involved with local government in the process of transformation, since this is their democratic right according to the national constitution. Economic literacy is therefore one of our main programmes, the aim of which is to help people play a more meaningful role in their communities.

Regional Integration in Southern Africa: Comparative International Perspectives

19-20 June 2000

The path and progress of the regional integration process in Southern Africa faced, during 2000, ongoing crises in Zimbabwe, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), three of the region’s four largest states. With this in mind, the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), in conjunction with the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the British High Commission in Pretoria, and the Universities of the Witwatersrand and London, staged a conference from 19–20 June 2000 on Reviewing Regional Integration in Southern Africa: Comparative International Experiences. This report is based on the papers presented at that event. For your convenient download the it is subdivided in a number of different pdf-files.

Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation: the Role of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

29 March 2000, Jan Smuts House, Wits University, Johannesburg

The seminar on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation: the Role of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was inspired by the March 1999 Tokyo meeting convened to discuss nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. As the KAF, IIPS and BCSIA meeting emphasised, the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament process is not limited to a small number of global powers, but is rather a broad undertaking which should encompass states from both the northern industrialised nations and the southern developingnations. Given that South Africa was the first state to produce clandestinely and then dismantle and destroy nuclear weapons, it seemed appropriate to take up the challenge of the Tokyo meeting and extend the debate on nuclear non-proliferation at a seminar in Johannesburg. South Africa’s fervent anti-nuclear policy – consolidated after the country’s first democratic elections in 1994 – also provided an inspirational model to other states possessing, or considering the manufacture of, nuclear weapons.

Business and Human Rights in South Africa

Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, 30–31 October 1999

The National Human Rights Trust believes that organised business (i.e. from the factory floor up to the highest levels of management) bears the crunch of these centrifugal forces which currently dominate the southafrican society. It is, furthermore, an unassailable fact that business has a vital role to play in the successful transition/transformation of society to that of a fully-fledged democracy. Business has to therefore be assisted in the awesome task facing it in that regard. One way of so assisting business, is to create opportunities where leaders from business may raise their concerns, share their experiences, air their views and, hopefully, also learn from one another and from others how these challenges may be met.

Politics and Media in Southern Africa

21–23 September 1999, Safari Court Hotel, Windhoek, Namibia

The publication is a compilation of papers presented at two conferences for journalists held in Windhoek, Namibia and Durban, South Africa in 1999. The Windhoek conference was funded by KAS’s Harare office and the countries represented at this regional conference were Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The Durban conference, which was a national conference involving only South African journalists, was funded by KAS’s Johannesburg office.In order to provide a legal perspective, we have included the statutes of the Republic of South Africa – Radio: Independent Media Commission Act No. 148 of 1993 and the Press Laws of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Consolidating Democracy in South Africa

18–20 August 1999, Holiday Inn, Umtata

Because of the importance of consolidating a young democracy in South Africa, the Konrad AdenauerFoundation, in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts of the University of Transkei, organised a conference from 18 to 20 August 1999. The international conference on Consolidating Democracy in South Africa met at Umtata, Eastern Cape, South Africa to examine ways to achieve this aim. The organisers provided a forum for academics, non-governmental organisations, politicians, political parties, government spokespersons and others to discuss dimensions in the consolidation of democracy in this country.

Subnational Constitutional Governance

16–18 March 1999, St George’s Hotel, Rietvlei Dam, Pretoria

Some may ask why a conference on “subnational constitutional governance”, particularly in this countrysince the South African Constitution, 1996, makes it clear that there are three spheres of government (national, provincial and local) and not tiers or levels. In the South African context, therefore, “subnational” may well be seen as a misnomer if it signifies subordination of regional authorities to the central authority. If we interpret subnational governance in South Africa as a reference to authorities that are elements of a greater whole, rather than as less important or subordinate, the relevance of the experienceof the wide range of different systems represented at the conference becomes more apparent.