South African’s National Liberation Movement

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Response by Nelson Mandela to President FW de Klerk's Letter of 2 July

4 July 1992

I have received the response of Mr. F.W. de Klerk to a memorandum
which I addressed to him on the 26th June, 1992. I enclosed the statement
of the Emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee of the ANC
adopted on the 23rd June, 1992.

In my Memorandum and the statement of the ANC we pointed out that South
Africa is on the brink of disaster for which we hold the NP government entirely
responsible. Specific and concrete demands were made to Mr. F.W. de Klerk as a
means of finding a way out of the impasse.

These demands related to two crucial aspects:

Firstly, the deadlock in the negotiating process because of the refusal by
the NP government to move together with all of us in the process of truly
democratising South Africa. Our fundamental position in this regard is that we
cannot accept an undemocratic constitution aimed at addressing the fears of a
minority party about its own future at the cost of democracy. This is at the
root of the negotiations deadlock. It is for this reason that we focussed
attention on the Constituent Assembly. We are clear in our demands that the NP
government abandon positions directed at subverting the sovereignty of the
Constituent Assembly, which include subjecting it to a veto by a second house
and ensuring that a minority in the Constituent Assembly shall be able to
frustrate an overwhelming majority.

Secondly, with regards to the violence in our country our demands centered on
three aspects:

  • Ensuring that the direct and indirect involvement of the NP government,
    it’s surrogates, the security forces and police are brought to an end
  • Ensuring that the De Klerk government immediately implement agreements
    reached with the ANC more than a year ago on curbing violence.
  • The establishment of an international commission of inquiry into the
    Boipatong massacre and all acts of violence as well as the international
    monitoring of violence.

In communicating with Mr. F.W. de klerk we made it crystal clear that
“(his) response and practical steps … to these demands will play a
crucial role in determining the direction and speed with which bona fide
negotiations can take place”.

He has chosen to ignore the gravity of these demands. He seeks to channel
them into endless negotiations and discussions. In particular, the content of
his reply seeks to elevate government to a legitimate and credible force
standing above the crisis. This is part of the deliberate attempts to perpetuate
the notion of “black on black” violence rather than draw attention to
the central role of the De Klerk government and its security forces.

He tries to enhance this position by calling for a meeting between Dr.
Buthelezi and myself at which Mr. F.W. de Klerk and his government will
participate “in view of it’s (i.e. the De Klerk governments) responsibility
for the maintenance of law and order”. He persists in shielding his regime
behind the back of the government-supported IFP. Government covert and open
support for the IFP has been confirmed in numerous instances. These include the
Second Interim Report of the Goldstone Commission, the International Commission
of Jurists fact finding mission and the Amnesty International report.

De Klerk’s memorandum, and his state of the nation address on 2 July, 1992
are characterised by a threatening mode and a propensity towards repression. He
assumes the legitimacy of the existing order and his government. He appears also
to believe that the military power that his government commands can be a means
of resolving the conflict. This was demonstrated when Mr. de Klerk attempted to
visit Boipatong, where the people in the township demonstrated their anger and
revulsion. Shaken by this overwhelming rejection, at a press conference held
immediately thereafter, he threatened to return the country to the old style
repression of the P.W. Botha regime by raising the possibility of the
reimposition of the state of emergency.

We have sought to ensure that the De Klerk regime responds to our demands
positively and undertakes practical steps. We have done so with the clear
knowledge that the longer it takes to find a way out of the current impasse the
more difficult it will be to reach agreement and the more difficult it will be
to ensure peace and stability in the future. If he shared this commitment, there
is nothing in our demands that he could have not have addressed practically and
immediately. His response has failed to address the crucial issues. It is
riddled with factual inaccuracies, distortions and blatant party political
propaganda. It confirms the fundamental feature of our society that he and his
government want to be both player and referee. By responding in the manner he
has done, Mr. F. W. De Klerk has chosen to drive South Africa into a collision

I accordingly see no reason to mislead the public and the international
community about the gravity of the crisis facing our country. No good purpose
will be served in my meeting him at this stage.

The National Executive Committee will look into the question of providing a
detailed reply to the memorandum I have received from Mr. F. W. De Klerk.

Transition to democracy 1986-1994