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Development of the changing security sitation and threat perception in South Africa. (Part I: Historical Overview).

The official South African strategic and security perceptions changed significantly between 1992 to 2000 as a result of the negotiated constitutional settlement and the evolving international order -- events that in fact preceded these changes.

Concerning the internal situation, the onset of a non-racial democracy in South Africa commenced when the major adversaries committed themselves to a negotiated political settlement as the only viable approach to irreversible political transition and constitutional reform. This process, which went through typical pre-negotiation, negotiation and post-negotiation phases, started in 1985 with unofficial exploratory talks between non-governmental delegations and the national liberation movements, and eventually culminated in the multi-party negotiation and parliamentary promulgation of the transitional (or interim) Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1.9.93 (Act No. 200 of 1 993). (*) Apart from addressing security problems that impeded the negotiation process, the substantive negotiations also covered security and defence as core issues.

The more immediate security problems included, inter alia, the suspension of the armed struggle, the lifting of the state of emergency, a commitment not to use violence and intimidation, the maintenance of law and order, indemnity against prosecution, detention or arrest in certain instances, and the review of security legislation. These obstacles to future negotiations were removed by several compromise agreements that resulted from the first series of formal encounters between Government and African National Congress (ANG) representatives in 1990 and 1991, as embodied by the Groote Schuur Minute, the Pretoria Minute and the D F Ma/an Accord.

Amidst spiralling violence in the country, a peace agreement was signed between the ANC and Inkatha (The Royal Hotel Minute) and a renewed peace effort was launched involving most political organisations. The latter culminated in Government, Inkatha and ANC representatives agreeing on an accord to end the violence, namely the National Peace Accord that was formally signed on 14 September 1991 by representatives of 23 political organisations and movements at the National Peace Convention in Johannesburg. The Accord made extensive provisions for principles; a code of conduct for political parties and organisations; general provisions for security forces; a police code of conduct; measures to facilitate socio-economic reconstruction and development; a Commission of Enquiry regarding public violence and intimidation; a National Peace Secretariat; Regional and Local Dispute Resolution Committees; a National Peace Committee; and procedures and Special Criminal Courts for enforcing the peace agreement between the pa rties.

This paved the way for substantive negotiations during December 1991 and 1992 within the framework of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), which inter alia included a Working Group on creating a climate for free political participation. This Group had three sub-groups respectively dealing with the release of political prisoners; with the continuing violence and intimidation, the role of the police and security forces, and the implementation of the National Peace Accord; and with the creation of a climate of free political participation. Following the collapse of CODESA in mid-1992, a Record of Understanding was ratified in September 1992 that addressed the main issues and obstacles to the negotiation process and committed participant organisations to the election of a constituent assembly/constitutional-making body and the inauguration of a transitional government as soon as possible.

Multilateral constitutional negotiations resumed in March 1993 (at Kempton Park) in the form of a Multi-Party Planning Conference. The Conference produced the Resolution on the Need for the Resumption/Commencement of Multi-Party Negotiations and an agreement on a new forum, the Multi-Party Negotiating Forum (MPF). The first meeting of the MPF in April 1993 led to the adoption of inter alia a Resolution on Violence that identified those issues that cause violence and which threaten the negotiation process and the effective implementation of the National Peace Accord; and mandated the Negotiating Council to establish steps and mechanisms for resolving the above.

Following a Declaration of Intent on the Negotiation Process in May 1993, the Negotiating Council of the MPF committed itself to the drafting of a transitional constitution and to the provision of a timeframe for the implementation of decisions. The Negotiating Council also agreed that non-racial, multi-party elections for a transitional government would take place on 27 April 1994. After details had been agreed upon by delegates to the MPF in September 1993, Parliament passed a Bill on September 28 marking a further step towards democratic rule, namely the Transitional Executive Council Act, 1993 (Act No. 151 of 1 993). It provided for the establishment of a Transitional Executive Council (TEC), a multiracial body to work with the Government and the State President in the run-up to democratic elections. Membership of the TEC was open to any of the 26 groups which had been involved in the MPF. On 18 November 1993 delegates to the MPF finally endorsed the transitional (or interim) constitution under which Sout h Africa was to be governed for five years following the elections, namely the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1993. Both the TEC Act and the Constitution contained specific sections dealing with security issues.

Concerning the evolving international order, cognisance was taken of the events and trends that altered the face of world politics, such as the end of the Cold War; the collapse of the former Soviet Union; the discrediting of communism as an ideology; the accelerated process of regional integration; the evolution of an understanding between superpowers on the levels and deployment of strategic and conventional forces; increased functional co-operation covering non Cold War issues; the resolution or management of inter- and intrastate conflict through multilateral peace support operations; the advancement of human rights; and the emergence of a whole range of new strategic issues. These events and trends were furthermore accompanied by a rapid expansion in the number of both state and non-state actors; the globalisation of world politics; high levels of ideological homogeneity pertaining to liberal democracy and capitalism in particular; the demise of superpower rivalry; a decisive shift in the global balance of power towards the United States of America; the development of a global economy; increased multilateralism; decreased military stratification but increased economic stratification; the marginalisation of the South; increased internal war; new modes of interventionism; and the resurgence of virulent ethnic nationalism and religious fundamentalism.

South African strategic and security perceptions not only reflected this changed strategic environment, but also responded to it by subscribing to what is commonly known as new security thinking. The latter, in the form of more humane or caring security, horizontally broadened the concept to include non-military dimensions and vertically deepened it to cover groups, minorities and individuals. These new conceptualisations and perceptions were not only emphasised in political party policy, for example the ANC policy guidelines concerning defence and security, but were also accommodated by the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1993.

(*.) For a detailed discussion of this negotiation process, see Hough, M and A du Plessis, Selected Documents and Commentaries on Negotiations and Constitutional Development in the RSA. 1989-1994. Ad hoc Publication No 31, Institute for Strategic Studies, University of Pretoria, July 1994, pp 1-28.
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Publication:Institute for Strategic Studies
Article Type:Topic Overview
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Nov 1, 2000
Words:1174
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