Chapter 3 THE ENVIRONMENT OF TRANSITION
The focus in this chapter is on the macro-structural and micro-behavioural context that preceded the initial phase of transition, which commenced in 1978. South Africa, as indicated in chapter one, is one of a few states with signi cant socio-political cleavages that have experienced a relatively peaceful transition to democracy. After a period of negotiations, the government eventually agreed to the principle of universal franchise and democratic elections, even though they had little chance of remaining in power.
The initial phase of transition, that is the period of 1978-1989, was an important stage in South Africa’s transition, in the sense that, even though it was a crucial decade of antag-onism, confrontation and resistance, it prepared the ground for the transition to democracy in the 1990s. As mentioned in chapter one, this phase was characterised by attempts at reform and liberalisation. However, the basic contours of, state – political society – civil soci-ety relations were already being shaped during the period that preceded the initial phase of transition. Events during this period should, therefore, not be isolated from their historical context. How did the history of South Africa unfold to the point where political reform was attempted? Which structural factors in the social, economic and political context shaped these events? It is also important to pay attention to what the position of the various elites was vis-a-vis one another, as well as to how and why they arrived at that position.
Several theories, focussing on transitions to democracy, were examined in chapter two.
Theoretically, transitions to democracy are, as was discussed, explained by two approaches, namely the macro-structural and micro-behavioural approaches. It was mentioned that the macro-structural approach focuses on the structural prerequisites for transition to democracy, while the micro-behavioural approach focuses on the changes in behaviour or the sequence of events and the strategic choices exercised by the political role players (Diamond, 1992:472; Huntington, 1991: 34; Przeworski, 1986:47; Rustow, 1970; Shin, 1997).
In the case of South Africa, the process of transition was started because it became increasingly di cult for the existing ruling structures to be e ective in practice. There was a complex set of interactions between structural conditions and political actors even prior to the initial phase of transition. Thus, the interconnectedness of structural factors and political actors prior to the initial phase of transition, is of particular importance in an analysis of South Africa’s transition.
The purpose of this chapter is, therefore, to connect the South African experience to the larger theoretical issues as discussed in chapter two. For this purpose, South Africa, as an example of transition in a divided society, is introduced as a case study by paying attention to the salient features of the South African society and politics and, in particular, the salience of race, ethnicity, class, and ideology as sources of \cleavages » and con ict. The initial phase of transition unfolded within the context of these societal divisions, as well as a con ict that was fomented primarily along these divisions. Racial discrimination and the exclusion of various segments of society from the political process, on the basis of race, were de ning features of the political landscape. The role of the state in the con ict generated along these lines of division is important. The state had been used and particularly since the advent of NP rule in 1948, as the agent of the whites who dominated politics and the economy.
South Africa, prior to the transition, had a long history of social, political and economic segregation and exclusion based on race, which fostered the abovementioned divisions. Early segregation eventually led to the development of the ideology of apartheid that, together with nationalist ideas, provided the guiding principles for the political thinking of the NP. After coming to power, the NP government embarked on a comprehensive restructuring of society based on racial segregation and exclusion. From the discussions in this thesis, it will transpire that the nationalist and apartheid ideology of the ruling white minority, however, invoked a strong counter-ideology (and counter-elite) among the excluded majority.
The policy of apartheid was essentially characterised by racial segregation. Though only o cially instituted after the NP came to power in 1948, racial segregation and, the exclusion of the majority of people from the political process, had a long history going back to the early settlement by whites and the era before the creation of the Union of South Africa in 1910. The eventual transition to democracy in South Africa implied, however, the end of apartheid as an o cial policy of the government. Several factors, already present in the environment prior to transition, aided on the one hand, the dismantling of apartheid and on the other hand, the democratisation of South Africa’s political institutions. Factors such as the growing internal unrest, together with the political, social and economic costs of apartheid, as well as an increasingly hostile international environment, are important in this regard. The NP and members of the elite from other sectors of society began to realise that the game played according to the old rules had become too costly, when compared to the envisaged advantages of a more legitimate political dispensation, although a new political dispensation would require the inclusion of the black majority.
In this chapter, the conditions prevailing in the environment and the factors that prompted the initiation of the transition to democracy in South Africa are therefore discussed. Bear-ing in mind that neither structural, nor behavioural approaches can fully explain South Africa’s multidimensional transition to democracy, political change in South Africa and the macro-structural and micro-behavioural factors of transition identi able at this stage, will also be discussed. The focus will be on the inherent cleavages and the nature of con ict in South Africa during the period that preceded 1978. Events during the pre-1978 era give an indication of the relationship between the structural forces and strategic choices of political actors as the analysis of political liberalisation in the following chapters will demonstrate. The period 1910-1978 will, however, receive particular attention.1
1The year 1910 is the year in which the Union of South Africa was established. The fact that non-whites were excluded from this process was a factor in the establishment of the South African Native National Congress (later the African National Congress) in 1912. Even though the political problems generated by apartheid received attention prior to 1978, the latter year is, for purposes of this thesis regarded as the beginning of South Africa’s transition to democracy. Note, however, that in the discussion it was not always.
The purpose of this chapter is, therefore, to provide an analytical description of the en-vironment of the transition. For this reason, the various internal cleavages, namely race, ethnicity, class, and ideology will receive attention. The structure of the con ict in South Africa will be discussed with reference to the ethnic and regional con icts, as well as the struggle against apartheid that shaped the alignment and role of the elites vis-a-vis one an-other. Other macro-structural factors to receive attention, are: the weakening demographic base of the whites, the economy and the international environment, particularly economic pressure and international isolation. In these discussions the state – political society – civil society relations will receive attention only brie y since a more detailed discussion of these will be provided in chapter four.
MACRO-STRACTURAL FACTORS: THE STRUCTURE OF SO-CIETY AND INTERNAL CLEAVAGES
Several cleavages, amongst which, race was (and still is) a dominant cleavage, can be identi-ed in the South African society. The most important sources of cleavages prior to, and at the time of the transition to democracy, were race and ethnicity, class, and ideology. These cleavages often coincided with each other. The overlap of race, ethnicity, class and ideology were so intertwined, that to some scholars it seemed total.2 This aspect of South Africa’s transition is of particular importance in this thesis – that is democratisation in a divided society, particularly, in the presence of con ict (see Sisk 1995: 13-15).
The cleavages that existed in South Africa, prior to 1978, were the product of rather complex forces within the South African society. Scholars often disagreed on the exact nature of these forces. According to Horowitz (1991:2), South Africa was \doubly divided\. There was, rstly, a con ict between competing values and interests and, secondly, also a con ict about the con ict, or what he called a metacon ict. The latter con ict was re ected in the possible to neatly separate available data according to these phases, because data often covered time frames that di ered from those used in this study – thus data may on occasion overlap with some of the other phases in the study. Attempts were however made to limit the incidence of such overlap.
different ways in which South Africans initially perceived their society and its con icts, and the inability of South Africans to agree on common terminology to describe their di erences. As indicated in chapter one, there were fundamentally di erent interpretations of what were the reasons for the di erent societal cleavages. This was particularly true of the debate on ethnicity as a source of cleavage (see Horowitz 1991:2-9). Questions that were frequently asked by scholars were: To what extent did ethnicity divide South Africans? Is there indeed one South African nation, or is it a state inhabited by a multiplicity of nations? Is \non-racialism » or \multi-racialism » the predominant feature of a shared interdependence? These fundamental issues highlighted the complex and competing varieties of belief systems in South Africa and were central to the disagreements over the nature and structure of the con ict.3
In order to understand the societal context of the transition, it is important to pay attention to race, ethnicity, class, and ideology as the most important cleavages in South African society.
RACIAL AND ETHNIC CLEAVAGES
Race has had a long history in South Africa as a source of politically relevant cleavages. The basic racial categories that could usually be identi ed were: whites, coloureds (a category that included a variety of subgroups, for example those of mixed descent and descendants of the Khoisan and slaves), blacks and Asians (usually with reference to Indians and \other » Asians such as the Chinese).4
Although race as a source of cleavage was politicised and institutionalised, the politici-sation and institutionalisation of ethnicity were even more complex. There were claims on the one hand, that ethnicity was used in order to create arti cial cleavages in the tradition of \divide in order to rule. » On the other hand, ethnic di erences were regarded as being a source of cleavage among blacks (see Horowitz1991:1-49). Both race and ethnicity are discussed in more detail in the following subsections.
Racial cleavages became a dominant factor in South Africa and in particular, after the NP came to power in 1948 and the adoption of several acts that prescribed and proscribed race relations. Racial identity had been woven into the societal, legal and political struc-tures of South Africa, and explicitly in 1983 into the constitution (Republic of South Africa Constitution Act No. 110 of 1983; see Sisk, 1992:8 ). Furthermore, ethnicity as a source of cleavage was engineered in the government’s \homeland policy\.
For purposes of this discussion, four important historical periods are identi ed, namely pre-1910, 1910-1948, 1948-1978 and 1978-1994.5 The pre-1910 period will not receive much attention, since that is the era before the creation of the Union of South Africa, which is not the focus of this chapter. It is, however, important to bear in mind that racial cleavages had their origins prior to 1910 and that \separate » legislation for the various race groups, was adopted prior to uni cation. The period 1978-1994 will be dealt with in more detail in the following three chapters.
This is the period of South African history that preceded the founding of the Union of South Africa. Patterns of interaction existed among the various indigenous groups prior to their contact with whites (see Wilson and Thompson, 1982:42-182). The arrival of whites in 1652 at the Cape, introduced a new era of social, political and economic interaction among the population (both old and new) of what is now known as South Africa. White political authorities created political, economic and social institutions that a ected both the lives and livelihoods of the indigenous population (Karis and Carter, 1972:3).
The white settlers initially had contact with the indigenous Khoikhoi and San (Khoisan). Early white settlement also brought slaves from Asia, Madagascar and West Africa (see Du Toit, 1983). During the era of Dutch rule in South Africa6 the governing o cials did establish contact and consultation with the settlers through \burgher councillors\, \Landdroste\, \Heemraden » and \Veldkornets, » but these were not extended to the Khoisan and the slaves. The movement of the latter two groups was monitored and restricted (Thompson and Prior, 1982:23-28; Wilson and Thompson, 1982:213-227). The vastness of the territory made control over the settlers di cult –
The racial practices of the Dutch East India Company…caused them [whites] to look upon themselves as a distinct and superior community…white farm-ers…formed the dominant element in a loose-knit, preindustrial, racially strati-ed, plural society (Thompson and Prior, 1982:28).
Racial attitudes clearly developed from the interactions among the various population groups and their contact in turn with the governing o cials. Along their shifting frontiers, white settlers, both Afrikaners and English came into contact with the black indigenous population of Southern Africa.7 Whites were embroiled in various con icts with black ethnic groups, often forming alliances with some against others, in struggles lasting until the late nineteenth century (Horowitz, 1991:10).
The establishment of several republics by the Afrikaners (Boers) in those areas that they controlled, was important from a political perspective. The two most important republics were the Orange Free State and the South African Republic (Transvaal). These displayed democratic characteristics, but non-whites were excluded from participation in the political process (see Wilson and Thompson, 1982:364-372).
British rule8 brought changes to the political organisation of the various territories under its control. Important in this regard were the more e ective application of the rule of law, freedom of the press (1828), removal of restrictions on the movement of the Khoisan (1828) and the emancipation of the slaves (1834-1838). Furthermore, a representative element in government was established. A parliament for the Cape Colony was established in 18549 and a parliament for Natal in 1856. Parliamentary control over the executive, but subject to the British Parliament, commenced in 1872 in the Cape Colony and 1893 in Natal. Blacks were either gradually conquered or, incorporated territorially in a peaceful manner into the existing political dispensation. Some even managed to retain their social and cultural structures. A colour-blind quali ed franchise applied in theory under British rule, but due to the nature of the quali cations, almost all non-whites were excluded from the political process and political power was in the hands of whites (Thompson and Prior 1982:29; Wilson and Thompson, 1982:311-333).
Events such as the British annexation of Transvaal in 1877 and the two Anglo-Boer Wars that followed, gradually made relations between Afrikaners and the British authorities and with English-speaking South Africans more important than relations with the indigenous population (Horowitz, 1992:10). Relations between the authorities and in particular, blacks were, therefore, treated with less urgency (see Thompson, 1960:117).
A number of events during the early history of South Africa are important for purposes of this discussion: Firstly, of particular importance are the divisions that developed because of race, culture and ethnicity. Deep divisions between English and Afrikaans-speaking whites were important during this part of South African history (Wilson and Thompson, 1982:373). The foundation of race and ethnicity as a source of cleavage was laid during the early history of the white settlement in South Africa. The existence of various ethnic groups and the fact that many blacks retained at least some part of their tribal land ensured that ethnicity would remain a source of heterogeneity and possible cleavage (see Wilson and Thompson, 1982:310-311). Though intermingling of the races was, usually, not prohibited formally, social separation has its roots early in South African history. The various authorities also began to adopt legislation that treated the various races and even ethnic groups di erently. Restrictions were for example, placed on the ownership of land by Indians10 in Transvaal. Pass laws were already in existence. In 1885 the Asiatic Bazaar Law No. 3 of 1885 that negatively a ected the rights of all \Asians, » was adopted in Transvaal.
Secondly, the democratic political institutions that were emerging among the white settlers during the early history of white settlement were important. Thus, a political society was already in the making, prior to the uni cation of South Africa. Though some of these were \racially blind, » (as was the case in the Cape Colony11 and Natal12), non-whites were for all practical purposes, excluded from the o cial political process. The political insti-tutions created by the Afrikaners, excluded non-whites and non-whites remained excluded after the British conquest of Afrikaner territories (Thompson, 1960:111). Political organisa-tions, such as the \Kaapse Patriotte » (1779-1791) demanded political reforms (Wilson and Thompson, 1982: 183, 214, 222). Political parties, such as the Afrikaner Bond, Het Volk and Orangia Unie are examples of political parties that were established prior to uni cation in 1910 (Wilson and Thompson, 1982)
Non-whites were exposed to new political practices that impacted on their lives, although they were mostly excluded from participating in the o cial political processes. They also began to organise themselves politically in order to protect and promote their interests and to resist discriminatory practices (see Horowitz, 1991:12). The politically motivated, Imbumba Yama Afrika, that was formed in the Eastern Cape in 1882 is an example. Likewise, the Native Education Association and the Native Electoral Association were formed in 1884 in the Eastern Cape in order to ght for the rights and inclusion in the political process of blacks (Karis and Carter, 1972:5). Other examples of political organisations for blacks included the Natal Native Congress, the Transvaal Congress, the South African Native Congress (1902), the Vigilance Association of the Eastern Cape, the Native United Political Associations of the Transvaal Colony and the Orange River Colony Native Congress (see Karis and Carter, 1972:9-10).
Indians also began to organise themselves similarly and in the last decade of the nine-teenth century, the Natal Indian Congress (1894) was founded. It was later followed by the Transvaal Indian Congress and the South African Indian Congress.
Thirdly, the basic roots of civil society can be traced to the early history of white set-tlement in South Africa. Various factors played a role in this regard. As a result of the inhospitable nature of the region, settlers relied to a large extent, on each other and also on religious orders for their survival and basic services in addition to those provided by the authorities. Religious groups such as Christian churches were of particular importance (Wilson and Thompson, 1982:229-230). Other organisations were however, also established and examples of these are the Young Men’s Christian Organisation (Cape Town 1865) and the Young Women’s Christian organisation (Cape Town 1886) (Joyce, 1989:398). Christian Churches and Islam played an important role among non-whites. In order to deal with the impact of white settlement in South Africa, non-whites therefore also formed religious or culturally based groups among themselves. Some of these gave rise to political campaigns, for example, Muslims from the Cape who demanded the right to practise their religion.
Early South African history thus laid the foundation for racial and ethnic cleavages as well as the basis for the future development of both a political and a civil society that began to be shaped along racial and ethnic lines. Though racially divided, cultural values that could support democratic values were taking root among the various population groups.
THE PERIOD 1910-1948 AND STATUTORY RACIAL CLASSIFICATION
The union of South Africa was established on 31 May 1910 after deliberations at the National Convention of 1908-1909.13 The delegates were all white men. Political rights for non-whites, was an issue at the Convention but proved to be an obstacle because of the di erences in the political rights of non-whites that existed in the Cape Colony, Natal, Orange River Colony (formerly Orange Free State) and Transvaal. The issue of race could have jeopardised uni cation and therefore a compromise was sought. It was agreed that each of the future provinces would initially retain their own policies in this regard. Non-whites, except for the retention of the quali ed franchise of the former Cape Colony, were for all practical purposes, excluded from the political process. The exclusion of most non-whites from the new political dispensation was also criticised and gave rise to the saying that Britain attempted \to reconcile the whites over the body of blacks » (Thompson 1960:117).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF ABREVIATIONS
1 INTRODUCTION TO A STUDY OF DEMOCRATISATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
1.3 PRINCIPAL OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.4 CONCEPTUAL CLARIFICATION
1.5 IMPORTANCE OF STUDY AND LITERATURE BACKGROUND
1.6 METHOD OF ANALYSIS
1.7 OUTLINE OF THE STUDY: SEQUENCE AND AIMS OF THE CHAPTERS IN THE THESIS
2 APPROACHES AND THEORIES IN THE STUDY OF DEMOCRATISATION
2.2 STUDIES IN DEMOCRATISATION: THE MACRO-STRUCTURAL APPROACH
2.3 STUDIES IN DEMOCRATISATION: THE MICRO-BEHAVIOURAL APPROACH
2.4 AN ANALYTIC FRAMEWORK FOR SOUTH AFRICA’S TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY
3 THE ENVIRONMENT OF TRANSITION
3.2 MACRO-STRACTURAL FACTORS: THE STRUCTURE OF SOCIETY AND INTERNAL CLEAVAGES
3.3 ADDITIONAL MACRO-STRUCTURAL FACTORS IN SOUTH AFRICA’S TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY
3.4 STATE – POLITICAL SOCIETY – CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE STRUGGLE AGAINST APARTHEID
3.5 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
4 THE INITIAL PHASE OF TRANSITION: AMELIORATIVE LIBERALISATION AND CONFRONTATION (1978-1989)
4.2 THE MACRO-STRUCTURAL CONTEXT OF THE LIBERALISATION PHASE
4.3 STATE – POLITICAL SOCIETY – CIVIL SOCIETY AND AMELIORATIVE LIBERALISATION
5 THE CRUCIAL PHASE OF TRANSITION: DEMOCRACY THROUGH PRELIMINARY NEGOTIATIONS (1989-1991)
5.2 THE IMPORTANCE OF PRE-NEGOTIATIONS
5.3 PRE-NEGOTIATIONS: THE MACRO-STRUCTURAL CONTEXT
5.4 PRE-NEGOTIATIONS AND THE TRANSITION STRATEGY: THE DYNAMICS IN THE DOMAINS OF THE STATE – POLITICAL SOCIETY CIVIL SOCIETY
5.5 THE NATIONAL PEACE ACCORD AS A PACT WITH MUTUAL GUARANTEES
6 THE MATURITY PHASE OF TRANSITION: DEMOCRACY THROUGH MULTI-PARTY NEGOTIATIONS (1991-1994)
6.2 LOGIC OF THE MAIN POLITICAL ACTORS WITH REGARD TO INSTITUTIONAL CHOICES FOR A NEW POLITICAL SYSTEM
6.3 NEGOTIATIONS FOR A NEW POLITICAL DISPENSATION
6.4 THE TRANSITION AND THE OUTCOME OF THE 1994-ELECTIONS
6.5 THE PROSPECTS FOR DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION
7 CONCLUSION: THE THEORETICAL IMPLICATIONS OF THIS THE-SIS
7.2 A FRAMEWORK FOR THE ANALYSIS OF SOUTH AFRICA’S TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY
7.3 EXTERNAL VALIDITY OF THE FINDINGS
7.4 ADDITIONAL FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
7.5 IN CONCLUSION
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
A STUDY ON DEMOCRATIC TRANSITION IN SOUTH AFRICA: DEMOCRACY THROUGH COMPROMISE AND INSTITUTIONAL CHOICE