South African’s National Liberation Movement

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Policy Documents

The Reconstruction and Development Programme

5. Democratising the State and Society

1 March 1994


5.1.1The apartheid regime has been unrepresentative,
undemocratic and highly oppressive. In past decades the state
became increasingly secretive and militarised, and less and
less answerable even to the constituency it claimed to

5.1.2The legal and institutional framework we are inheriting is
fragmented and inappropriate for reconstruction and
development. It lacks capacity to deliver services, it is
inefficient and out of touch with the needs of ordinary people. It
lacks coordination and clear planning.

5.1.3The financing of development programmes under the
apartheid state was wasteful, misdirected and mismanaged.
There was corruption, and many state and development
institutions carry over debts from the apartheid era with which
the new government must deal.

5.1.4Apartheid patterns of minority domination and privilege are not
confined to the state and parastatals. Every aspect of South
African life is deeply marked by minority domination and
privilege. A vast range of institutions in the private domain (in
civil society) benefitted from apartheid, and also actively
fostered and sustained it.


5.2.1The People shall govern. The RDP vision is one of
democratising power. Democracy is intimately linked to
reconstruction and development. We will not be able to
unleash the resources, neglected skills and stunted potential of
our country and its people while minority domination of state
and civil institutions persists. Without thoroughgoing
democratisation, the whole effort to reconstruct and develop
will lose momentum. Reconstruction and development require
a population that is empowered through expanded rights,
meaningful information and education, and an institutional
network fostering representative, participatory and direct

5.2.2Democracy requires that all South Africans have access to
power and the right to exercise their power. This will ensure
that all people will be able to participate in the process of
reconstructing our country.

5.2.3Empowerment means, in the first place, the enfranchisement
of all South Africans – one person, one vote – and the
extension of equal citizenship rights to all. Deepening
democracy will require ensuring that elected structures conduct
themselves in an answerable and transparent manner. Clear
Codes of Conduct must be established and enforced for all
public representatives.

5.2.4Democratisation requires modernising the structures and
functioning of government in pursuit of the objectives of
efficient, effective, responsive, transparent and accountable
government. We must develop the capacity of government for
strategic intervention in social and economic development. We
must increase the capacity of the public sector to deliver
improved and extended public services to all the people of
South Africa.

5.2.5The defence force and the police and intelligence services
must be transformed from being agents of oppression into
effective servants of the community, with the capacity to
participate in the RDP. Our society must be thoroughly
demilitarised and all security forces under clear civilian control.

5.2.6Democracy for ordinary citizens must not end with formal
rights and periodic one-person, one-vote elections. Without
undermining the authority and responsibilities of elected
representative bodies (the national assembly, provincial
legislatures, local government), the democratic order we
envisage must foster a wide range of institutions of
participatory democracy in partnership with civil society on the
basis of informed and empowered citizens (e.g. the various
sectoral forums like the National Economic Forum) and
facilitate direct democracy (people`s forums, referenda where
appropriate, and other consultation processes).

5.2.7A wide range of trade unions, mass organisations, other
sectoral movements and community-based organisations
(CBOs) such as civic associations developed in our country in
opposition to apartheid oppression. These social movements
and CBOs are a major asset in the effort to democratise and
develop our society. Attention must be given to enhancing the
capacity of such formations to adapt to partially changed roles.
Attention must also be given to extending social-movement
and CBO structures into areas and sectors where they are
weak or non-existent.

5.2.8Numerous non-profit non-governmental organisations
(NGOs) are also developing in South Africa. Many of these NGOs play
an important capacity-building role in regard to CBOs and the
development process. NGOs are also engaged in service delivery,
mobilisation, advocacy, planning, lobbying, and financing. Thus
NGOs have an important future role in the democratisation of our
society. However, NGOs must also adopt transparent processes, and
operate in a manner that responds, with accountability and
democracy, to the communities they serve.

5.2.9Deepening democracy in our society is not only about
various governmental and non-governmental institutions. Effective
democracy implies and requires empowered citizens. Formal rights
must be given real substance. All of the social and economic issues
(like job creation, housing and education) addressed in previous
chapters of the RDP are directly related to empowering our people
as citizens. One further area is absolutely central in this regard
– a democratic information programme.

5.2.10Ensuring gender equity is another central component in the
overall democratisation of our society. The RDP envisages
special attention being paid to the empowerment of women in
general, and of black, rural women in particular. There must be
representation of women in all institutions, councils and
commissions, and gender issues must be included in the terms
of reference of these bodies.


5.3.1The new Constitution should be drawn up by the Constituent Assembly in
an open and transparent manner. The new Constitution must reinforce
the RDP, ensuring that equality of rights of citizens is not just
formal, but substantive. The new Constitution should ensure that
social, economic, environmental and peace rights are more fully
embodied in the Bill of Rights.

5.3.2The Constitution must recognise the fundamental
equality of men and women in marriage, employment and in society.
There should be a continuous review of all legislation to ensure
that this clause in the Constitution is not undermined. These
principles must override customary law. Consideration should be
given to the implementation of a constitutional provision for the
calling of a referendum in order to overturn unpopular laws, and to
ensure that certain laws get passed.

5.3.3The Constitution should permit the regulation of the use of
property when this is in the public interest. It should also
guarantee a right to restitution for victims of forced removals.

5.3.4The Constitution should provide for sufficient central
government powers so as to coordinate and implement the
RDP effectively.


5.4.1The National and Provincial Assemblies must establish
legislation and programmes which ensure substantive equality
rather than formal equality.

5.4.2There should be a review of the legislative procedures
including a review of national and regional parliamentary
sessions, operating procedures and the composition of
standing committees, to promote an improved institutional
framework for public decision-making. There should be a clear
right of access to the parliamentary legislative procedures to
allow inputs from interested parties. There should be a Code of
Conduct for members of the National and Regional


5.5.1South Africa has been divided into nine provinces. These
provinces are at different levels of development and are not
equally endowed with resources. The existing constitutional
arrangements provided for by the Interim Constitution require
that provincial levels of government and the national
government develop methods for working closely together to
ensure the implementation of the RDP. This will ensure that
development in all these areas takes place evenly throughout
the country and that minimum standards are attained.

5.5.2Grants-in-aid strategies must be built into the RDP to
ensure that all provinces receive an equitable share of revenue
collected nationally. The Financial and Fiscal Commission must
determine criteria for the allocation of inter-governmental

5.5.3The reincorporation of the TBVC states (Transkei,
Bophuthatswana, Venda, Ciskei) and the self-governing
territories requires urgent attention. All government
departments at national level must be rationalised to end
duplications due to racial divisions. Single ministries should be
created at national and provincial level in each sector of
operation. At the provincial level, government institutions must
be constructed and rationalised out of existing regional
structures. The role, function and mission of government
departments should be reviewed with the aim of introducing a
clear development focus for the democratic government
administration. Policies of affirmative action, development and
training must be applied in all areas.


5.6.1The defence force, the police and intelligence services must be
firmly under civilian control, in the first place through the
relevant civilian ministry answerable to parliament. These
security forces must uphold the democratic constitution, they
must be non-partisan, and they must be bound by clear codes
of conduct.

5.6.2The size, character and doctrines of the new defence force
must be appropriate to a country engaged in a major
programme of socio-economic reconstruction and
development. The rights of soldiers must be clearly defined
and protected.

5.6.3The police service must be transformed, with special attention
to representivity, and gender and human rights sensitivity.
National standards and training must be combined with
community-based structures to ensure answerability to the
communities served.


5.7.1The system of justice should be made accessible and
affordable to all people. It must be credible and legitimate. The
legal processes and institutions should be reformed by
simplifying the language and procedures used in the court,
recognising and regulating community and customary courts,
and professionalising the Attorney-General`s office. The public
defence system must be promoted and the prosecution
system reformed. The pool of judicial officers should be
increased through the promotion of lay officials, scrapping the
divided bar and giving the right of appearance to paralegals.

5.7.2The Industrial Court system should be restructured so that
workers who have complaints against employers are able to
have these disputes resolved in a cheap, accessible and
speedy manner. Tripartite institutions should have a say in
determining appointments to the Industrial and Labour Appeal

5.7.3A legal aid fund for women to test their rights in court must be


5.8.1The staffing of the prison service must be based on non-racial
and non-sexist principles. Prison staff will need to be trained to
reflect this approach and to transform the present military
command structure of the prison service.

5.8.2Prisoners must enjoy human rights and must be fully protected
by the Constitution.

5.8.3The prison service must play its part, not simply in restraining
convicted persons, but in rehabilitating and training them.
Adequate resources must be made available for the humane
accommodation of prisoners.

5.8.4The law dealing with children in custody must be reformed.
Practices which infringe even the existing laws (such as the
accommodation of children and juvenile prisoners in cells with
adults) must be ended.

5.8.5Pregnant women and mothers with small children in prison
must be held in conditions which are appropriate for their
specific physical and psychological requirements.

5.8.6Disciplinary codes within prison must be changed, and forms
of punishment which infringe basic human rights (solitary
confinement and dietary punishment) must be ended.

5.8.7The public has the right to be informed about prison conditions.
The Prison Act must, accordingly, be substantially reformed.

5.8.8Prisons must be monitored by an independent prison ombuds,
appointed by the State President, but working independently of
ministerial control.


5.9.1South Africa has a large public sector with many resources.
The public sector consists of the public service, the police and
defence forces, the intelligence service, parastatals, public
corporations and advisory bodies, which are together some of
the most important delivery and empowerment mechanisms
for the RDP. Staffing levels in and budgetary allocations to
government departments and institutions must match the
requirements for service delivery, and the operational
requirements for women`s empowerment, within the
constraints of the budget. A defined quota of all new
employees should come from groups that were disadvantaged
on the basis of race and gender, and all employees should be
given access to appropriate training and support systems. This
should be evaluated each year to determine the progress
made and identify problems which arise. By the turn of the
century, the personnel composition of the public sector,
including parastatals, must have changed to reflect the national
distribution of race and gender. Such progress will enhance the
full utilisation of the country`s labour power and productivity.


5.10.1The Public Service Commission established in terms of the
Interim Constitution must be responsible for matters relating to
appointments, promoting efficiency and effectiveness in
departments, establishing and monitoring a Code of Conduct
for the public service, and introducing a programme of
affirmative action and other appropriate techniques to eliminate
historical inequities in employment. The Code of Conduct must
incorporate the principles of the new South African public
service as outlined in the RDP. The ethos should be
professional, in the most positive sense of the word; the public
service must internalise the concept of `serving the people`.
This Code should be enforced and annual evaluation of
personnel should take into account compliance with the Code.

5.10.2The public service should be composed in such a way that it is
capable of and committed to the implementation of the policies
of the government and the delivery of basic goods and
services to the people of the country. In particular, priority must
be given to developing the mechanisms for implementing the
policies, recommendations and directives of the restructured
Public Service Commission and the RDP.

5.10.3While the public service must be based on merit, career
principles, suitability, skills, competence and qualifications,
these standards should not be interpreted to further minority
interests, as in the past. An extensive programme of
affirmative action must be embarked on to achieve the kind of
public service that is truly reflective of our society, particularly
at the level of management and senior employees. Such an
affirmative action programme must include training and
support to those who have previously been excluded from
holding responsible positions. Within two years of the
implementation of the programme, recruitment and training
should reflect South African society, in terms of race, class and
gender. Mechanisms must be put in place to monitor
implementation of the programme. A programme of monitoring
and retraining for all those willing to serve loyally under a
democratic government should be instituted.

5.10.4The Civil Service Training Institute must be transformed to train
and retrain public service employees in line with the priorities of
the RDP. One of the priorities of this Institute must be to
ensure that a cadre of public servants is developed to
transform the public service effectively, with attention to
excellence and high levels of service delivery. The Institute
must be provided with the necessary resources and cater for at
least four levels of training: lateral entry for progressive
academics, activists, organisers and NGO workers; top-level
management development; promotion within the public
service, and retraining of present incumbents of posts.

5.10.5A sound labour relations philosophy, policy and practice is an
essential requirement for building a motivated, committed
cadre of personnel who have a clear vision of their
development goals. Labour relations policy must also provide
for dealing systematically with corruption, mismanagement and
victimisation in public institutions. Labour policy must permit the
participation of public sector workers and their organisations in
decision-making at various levels in this sector. This will require
amendment of existing labour legislation and a review of
management practice in the public sector.


5.11.1Parastatals, public corporations and advisory boards
must be structured and run in a manner that reinforces and supports
the RDP. Civil society must be adequately represented on the boards
of parastatals and public corporations. Institutions must be
transparent and open in both structure and decision-making. They
should act within the framework of public policy and there must be
a duty to inform the general public as well as to account to

5.11.2The statutory bodies must be independent of government
departments in the sense that they should not be directly part
of any government department. They should be controlled by
general government policies and by their governance councils.
The emphasis should be on creating stable long-term policies
rather than volatile short-term policy. To ensure effective civil
participation in these bodies, governance councils should be
composed of mandated representatives of appropriate
organisations, not appointed individuals.

5.11.3All bodies must run on full cost accounting. All subsidies paid
or received must be the result of an explicit and transparent
decision. In addition, parastatals which receive 20 per cent of
their funding or R20 million (whichever is less) from
government, should submit an annual director`s report to the
relevant ministry, showing how allocated funds were used
given the objectives agreed to. Every ministry and parastatal
should have an office that periodically reviews its activities and
measures performance as well as appraising staff
performance. Rationalisation of the activities and resources of
parastatals should take place to promote efficiency and
effectiveness. Parastatals should have a public consciousness.

5.11.4Control of funds set aside specifically for development
purposes (be they from contracts, the democratic government
or the public domain) should vest in a competent and
legitimate government agency, which could include
representation from civil society.


5.12.1Local government is of critical importance to the RDP. It is the
level of representative democracy closest to the people. Local
government will often be involved in the allocation of resources
directly affecting communities. Local government should be
structured on a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist basis.
The Local Government Transition Act provides for the start of
this process with the establishment of transitional councils, and
the creation of a framework for the first non-racial local
government elections.

5.12.2The constitutional and legal arrangements, which provide for
councils of local unity during the transitional phase, should be
removed from the final Constitution to make local government
more democratic. Existing local government legislation,
including the Local Government Transition Act and the
Provincial Ordinances, should be amended or repealed where
necessary by a competent legislative authority.

5.12.3An estimated 800 segregated local authorities must be
amalgamated into approximately 300 new local authorities with
non-racial boundaries. The existing grading system for local
authorities should be revised to reflect the needs of people,
and not just existing consumption of services.

5.12.4The demarcation of boundaries of local authorities should
ensure that informal settlements on the outskirts of towns and
cities, and urban settlements displaced behind homeland
boundaries, are incorporated into the jurisdiction of new local

5.12.5Elected local government, with responsibility for the delivery of
services, should be extended into rural areas, including
traditional authority areas. Rural district councils that
incorporate a number of primary local councils must have a
key role in rural local government.

5.12.6In major urban centres, strong metropolitan government should
be established to assist in the integration and coordination of
the urban economies.

5.12.7Separate budgets and financial systems must be integrated on
the basis of `one municipality, one tax base`. The arrears and
debts of the black local authorities, estimated at R1,8 billion,
should be written off by a competent legislature.

5.12.8All local authorities should embark on programmes to restore,
maintain, upgrade and extend networks of services. Within a
local authority, the total body of consumers should be
responsible for the cost of the service, including capital
improvements, thus allowing for cross-subsidisation of new
consumers. Tariff structures should be structured on a
progressive basis to address problems of affordability. Within
this framework, all consumers should pay for services

5.12.9Local authorities should be assisted to deal with the existing
backlog of municipal services through inter-governmental
transfers from central and provincial government, according to
criteria established by the Financial and Fiscal Commission.

5.12.10Separate local authority administrations must be
amalgamated, reorganised and rationalised, after consultation
between employer and employee bodies. A centralised system
of collective bargaining for municipal employees should be

5.12.11The Training Board for Local Government Bodies should be
restructured to provide more effective training for employees of
local authorities. The entrance criteria of professional bodies
such as the Institute of Town Clerks and the Institute of
Municipal Treasurers and Accountants should be broadened to
ensure better access for all South Africans to these

5.12.12At local government level a women`s portfolio should be
established with powers to scrutinise local authority
programmes and budgets for gender sensitivity. Local
authorities can play a role in the implementation of affirmative
action with the private sector through special criteria for local
government contracts.

5.12.13A developmental culture among local government
administrations should be encouraged. The actions of
councillors and officials should be open and transparent, with
councillors subject to an enforceable Code of Conduct.

5.12.14Local authority administrations should be structured in such a
way as to ensure maximum participation of civil society and
communities in decision-making and developmental initiatives
of local authorities.


5.13.1Apart from the strategic role of government in the RDP, mass
participation in its elaboration and implementation is essential.
Within the first nine months of 1994 the RDP must be taken to
People`s Forums, rallies and meetings in communities.

5.13.2In the course of 1994, trade unions, sectoral social movements
and CBOs, notably civics, must be encouraged to develop
RDP programmes of action and campaigns within their own
sectors and communities. Many social movements and CBOs
will be faced with the challenge of transforming their activities
from a largely oppositional mode into a more developmental
one. To play their full role these formations will require
capacity-building assistance. This should be developed with
democratic government facilitation and funded through a
variety of sources. A set of rigorous criteria must be
established to ensure that beneficiaries deserve the assistance
and use it for the designated purposes. Every effort must be
made to extend organisation into marginalised communities
and sectors like, for instance, rural black women.

5.13.3Trade unions and other mass organisations must be actively
involved in democratic public policy-making. This should
include involvement in negotiations ranging from the
composition of the Constitutional Court to international trade
and loan agreements. Education about trade unions and other
mass organisations should also be promoted in school
curricula and through publicly-funded media.

5.13.4Delivery or enforcement mechanisms for social and economic
rights must not focus only on the Constitution, courts and
judicial review, but must include agencies which have the
involvement of members and organisations of civil society as
means of enforcing social justice. In this regard, a revamped
Human Rights Commission, with wider popular involvement,
should have its mandate extended to ensure that social and
economic rights are being met.

5.13.5Institutions of civil society should be encouraged to improve
their accountability to their various constituencies and to the
public at large. There should be no restriction on the right of
the organisations to function effectively. Measures should be
introduced to create an enabling environment for social
movements, CBOs and NGOs in close consultation with those
bodies and to promote donations to the non-profit sector. This
should include funding of Legal Advice Centres and paralegals.

5.13.6The rights of individual people should be protected and
guaranteed in the processes of government. Groups and
communities should be encouraged to contribute to the
reconstruction and development process. Parents should be
empowered through school governance, residents through
residents` associations, etc.

5.13.7Multipartite policy forums (like the present National Economic
Forum) representing the major role players in different sectors
should be established and existing forums restructured to
promote efficient and effective participation of civil society in
decision-making. Such forums must exist at the national,
provincial and local levels.

5.13.8Forums such as the National Economic Forum constitute
important opportunities for organs of civil society to participate
in and influence policy-making. Similarly they provide the
democratic government with an important mechanism for
broad consultation on policy matters. They need to be assisted
(and sometimes restructured) to improve their effectiveness,
representivity and accountability.


5.14.1Open debate and transparency in government and society are
crucial elements of reconstruction and development. This
requires an information policy which guarantees active
exchange of information and opinion among all members of
society. Without the free flow of accurate and comprehensive
information, the RDP will lack the mass input necessary for its

5.14.2The new information policy must aim at facilitating exchange of
information within and among communities and between the
democratic government and society as a two-way process. It
must also ensure that media play an important role in
facilitating projects in such areas as education and health.

5.14.3The democratic government must encourage the development
of all three tiers of media – public, community and private.
However, it must seek to correct the skewed legacy of
apartheid where public media were turned into instruments of
National Party policy; where community media were
repressed; where private media are concentrated in the hands
of a few monopolies, and where a few individuals from the
white community determine the content of media. New voices
at national, regional and local levels, and genuine competition
rather than a monopoly of ideas, must be encouraged.

5.14.4An affirmative action programme, consistent with the best
experiences in the world, must be put into place to empower
communities and individuals from previously disadvantaged
sectors of society. This must include: mechanisms to make
available resources needed to set up broadcasting and printing
enterprises at a range of levels; training and upgrading, and
civic education to ensure that communities and individuals
recognise and exercise their media rights.

5.14.5Measures must be taken to limit monopoly control of the
media. Cross-ownership of print and broadcast media must be
subject to strict limitations determined in a public and
transparent manner. The democratic government must
encourage unbundling of the existing media monopolies. This
includes monopolies in the areas of publishing and distribution.
Where necessary, anti-trust legislation must be brought to bear
on these monopolies.

5.14.6The democratic government must set aside funds for training
of journalists and community-based media and, at the same
time, encourage media institutions to do the same.

5.14.7To ensure the free flow of information – within the broad
parameters of the Bill of Rights – the Freedom of Information
Act must be broadened.

5.14.8The democratic government must have a major role to play in
the introduction of a new information policy. This must,
however, be limited to facilitation rather than dabbling in the
editorial content of media enterprises. Further, a deliberate
policy must be followed to prevent unwarranted state
intervention in levelling the media playing field or in preserving
privileged status for government information. The Bill of Rights
and, if necessary, legislation will be crucial in this regard.

5.14.9The South African Communications Services (SACS) must be
restructured in order to undertake two important tasks: the
provision of objective information about the activities of the
state and other role players, and the facilitation of the new
information policy.

5.14.10To carry out these two functions, two distinct structures will be
necessary. At the same time, the information arms of various
ministries, especially those dealing with reconstruction and
development, must be strengthened.

5.14.11All these measures require institutional mechanisms
independent of the democratic government and representative
of society as a whole. Some of the more crucial ones are: Development Trust: made up of civil
society, media role players, especially community-based ones, the
democratic government and political interests, to work out detailed
criteria and mechanisms for assisting relevant media enterprises.
Broadcasting Authority (IBA): appointed
in a transparent and participatory process. Made up of
persons of integrity and experts in the broadcasting
field. Responsible for the issuing of broadcasting
licences and other broadcasting regulations. Broadcaster Board: appointed in a similar
manner to give broad direction to the public
broadcaster, without undermining editorial
independence. regulatory mechanisms: for private media
enterprise, and representative of all role players,
including media workers. Within broadcasting, the
voluntary regulations should be within the framework
provided by the IBA. unions of media workers and associations
of owners of media institutions.