After Mandela [part 1]

First Steps to Power Planned by ANC in 1991

By Brian Covert

OSAKA — A democratically elected assembly leading to a new, apartheid-free constitution in South Africa is among the many projects the African National Congress will be pushing this year in what it views as the first steps to governing power by the African majority.

Comrade Jerry Matsila, ANC chief representative to Japan, recently returned from South Africa where he attended Congress meetings that addressed both internal and external efforts to begin that process. Included in the ANC’s 1991 plan is how Japan itself can concretely contribute to the abolition of apartheid and the foundation of a new South Africa.

Comrade News, the Osaka JAAC newsletter, has obtained a copy of those ANC plans for 1991 — the 79th anniversary of the organization’s founding — and the ANC specifically targets these three steps to power:

STEP 1: Calling for an “All-Party Congress” among the various political bodies in South Africa (see “South African Updates” below). This is the preliminary step to the adoption of a new constitution. This congress would not have the power itself to draw up the constitution unless mandated by the people of South Africa.

STEP 2: Convening the All-Party Congress after all obstacles to negotiations have been removed. This body would have three main duties:

(A) To set up the general principles under which the detailed “constitution work” would be undertaken; (B) To determine who will make up the body of an “Elected Constituent Assembly” that would then draw up the constitution; and (C) To set up some kind of “Interim Government” to oversee the transition process of a new parliament and a democratically elected government, as outlined in the new constitution. That interim authority may include members of the National Party and other political organizations in the country. The ANC notes that the “early installation” of this Interim Government, with full state power, is “critical” to the transition process.

STEP 3: Finally, dissolve the All-Party Congress once the three points under Step 2 are completed. The ANC says the All-Party Congress would remain intact only if it receives a popular mandate to continue as a constitution-making body, as an interim government, or both.

“Quite clearly, the process of transition away from apartheid cannot be supervised by an apartheid institution,” the ANC stresses. “F.W. de Klerk and his minority government is presently both a referee and a player. This situation is totally unacceptable.”

In its 1991 report, the ANC also notes that this year it will make the following demands:

• Unconditional return of all exiles;

• Unconditional release of all political prisoners and a halt to political trials;

• Arrest and charge “all police and security apparatus, including vigilantes and war-lords,” in an effort to stop state violence against the public; and

• Open all schools and address mass-education programs.

The ANC plans to accomplish these demands by various types of “mass action.” This includes large-scale rallies, a national consumer boycott, and convening a wide-ranging “Patriotic Front” of anti-apartheid liberation forces before de Klerk opens his multi-party summit.

Also included in this year’s mass-action plan are a door-to-door signature campaign and ANC delegation visits to “bantustan” leaders to pressure them into meeting the “demands of the people” — as well as the continued pressure both within South Africa and throughout the international community to maintain economic sanctions on the Pretoria regime.

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South African updates:

ANC Deputy President Nelson Mandela and Inkatha Freedom Party President Mangosuthu Buthelezi met on 29 January [1991], resolving to end the “black-on-black” township violence. Despite the political differences between them, both sides have repeatedly pointed to pro-apartheid police and white vigilante instigators in that violence. The Mandela-Buthelezi “peace plan” falls under the ANC’s wide-ranging 1991 mass-action plan to bring about the first steps of the “new” South Africa.

The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), a strong force in the liberation struggle, on 24 January rejected the ANC’s proposal for an “All-Party Congress,” citing the illegitimacy of the apartheid regime as one member of that congress. The PAC, however, said it would join a “Patriotic Front” meeting called for 21 March by the ANC of all liberation movements in the country.

8 March (focus on South African women’s issues), 1 May, 31 May, 1 June and 16 June. For more updates on anti-apartheid activities, contact the Tokyo ANC office at (03) 5xxx-xxx1 by phone or (03) 5xxx-xxx2 by fax.