The Presidential Years

When I think back to where we come from, I think the period shortly before the commencement of formal negotiations and during the whole period of negotiations, was really a period of serious strategic reflection in the movement, thinking not just about how to oppose what we don’t want, but beginning to think about, ‘What if what we have been fighting for all these many decades materialises, what are we going to do with the South Africa that the population is likely to give us a mandate to run?’

When we decried the absence of a climate for free and fair political activity, we would then say, ‘What are the things that must happen in order for us to feel that that climate now exists? If we demand this of government, is this what we would expect the public to expect of us should we become government?’

In that sense, things like the Peace Accord - in which you find a section on a code of conduct for the police, a code of conduct for the security establishment in general - reflected the kind of society we wanted to create. It informed the basis of the transitional legislation: what you see in the Transitional Executive Council Act; what you see in the act that established the various sub-councils, the sub- council on law and order and so on. It was premised on what we, together with organisations that were in the same corner with us in the negotiations process, actually advanced.

By and large what was adopted in 1993 by the outgoing parliament as transitional legislation, became the philosophical and even practical foundation for the new laws that were passed by the new parliament. So in that sense that transitional period was really a new South Africa in a state of becoming.

The speeches and addresses that President Mandela was making to the police behind closed doors and so on, were premised on this thinking that you see in the Peace Accord, the thinking that you see in the Transitional Executive Council. So he was actually acting as a commissar, showing them the way to the new South Africa. The ‘Goldstone bills’ were part of the transitional legislation, they belong in that sense to a raft of legislation that was moving the country away from apartheid-manufactured legislation

Sydney Mufamadi