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Research Report

South Africa:: The National Peace Accord and the International Community

US Institute of Peace
Copyright Date: Sep. 24, 1993
Published by: US Institute of Peace
Pages: 16
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    Since early 1990, political leaders have been engaged in negotiation on the nature of post-apartheid South Africa. If current timetables are realized, this process will culminate in a transitional executive by late 1993, the election of a constitution-making body and interim government in early 1994, and a new constitution within the next several years. One acute problem of the transition from apartheid to democracy has been that rates of political violence increased substantially after the start of negotiations. Political violence has contributed to deadlocks and delays in the talks several times over the last three years, and some 16,000 have...

  2. (pp. 2-2)

    Workshop participants generally agreed that while the sources of the political violence that has plagued South Africa's transition since 1990 are many and complex, two structural factors lie at the heart of the strife:

    South Africa does not yet enjoy a government that is widely regarded as legitimate, and thus the police and other security forces-which were used to enforce apartheid policies over the years-are not perceived as impartial or evenhanded in many of the affected communities.

    Endemic poverty grips many affected communities, with very high rates of urban unemployment and desperate living conditions. (South Africa is enduring a decade-long...

  3. (pp. 2-3)

    The National Peace Accord, signed by twenty-seven political parties, organizations, and governments, is unusual in its depth and scope. In addition to a preamble that relates the Peace Accord to the overall process of democratization (the document contains, for example, a set of principles of democracy and human rights) and guidelines for socio-economic development, it establishes rules and institutions to deal with political violence. The principle elements of the Peace Accord are:

    Code of Conduct: Political Parties and Organizations. Signatories agree to conduct themselves in accordance with principles of "democratic tolerance," including maintaining channels of communication among themselves and with...

  4. (pp. 4-4)

    Paradoxically, in the period following the signing of the Peace Accord, rates of political violence in South Africa generally increased. In 1992, fatality rates from political violence outstripped those of 1991 (though 1990 had seen higher rates). According to press reports, 3,499 people lost their lives in political violence in 1992, up from the 2,365 politically motivated deaths in 1991 and approaching the 3,750 reported in 1990. Not only did the number of deaths from political violence increase, but two internationally publicized incidents in 1992-the June massacre of forty-six township residents at Boipatong and the September shooting of twenty-eight unarmed...

  5. (pp. 5-7)

    Recommendations during the workshop on implementation of the NPA include the following:

    Reinforce the local peace committees, the grassroots-level structures of the Peace Accord, to enhance community "ownership" of the peace process.

    The Peace Accord is a generally a good document, but it was negotiated by political leaders and some say it does not have sufficient links to the grassroots. Thus, there is a need to strengthen the grassroots base of the Peace Accord structures as a means of local-level empowerment and community "ownership" of the peace process. Vuyi Nxasana, of the Vuleka Trust, summed up the feeling at the...

  6. (pp. 7-9)

    International observer missions have clearly bolstered the effectiveness of the NPA. The mandate of the international observer missions—especially UNOMSA —is, as suggested earlier, unusual in the history of the United Nations. The UN Security Council, when it debated the question of violence in South Africa in mid-1992, stated in Resolution 772:

    authorized the secretary-general to deploy, as a matter of urgency, United Nations observers in South Africa, in such a manner and in such numbers as he determines necessary to address effectively the areas of concern noted in his report [regarding violence], in coordination with the structures under the...

  7. (pp. 9-10)

    Progress in easing tensions in affected communities during the ensuing election period is directly related to progress in talks on the process and substance of forging a new, post-apartheid constitution. This easing of tension is important because, as National Peace Secretariat member Peter Gastrow suggested, "tensions in the negotiation process ... also [introduce] tensions amongst different political groupings on the ground. The prospects, therefore, of a peaceful or relatively peaceful election, in my view, dwindle ... as long as this conflict is not resolved." Resolution of outstanding points of disagreement at the democratization talks being held in the World Trade...

  8. (pp. 10-11)

    Recommendations offered by workshop participants with regard to the international community and the NPA structures in pollwatching and peacemaking are:

    A broad-based South African "peacekeeping corps" should be created to assist in providing evenhanded security during the election campaign and voting. Senior UN military officers could serve as advisors to the corps.

    This important security issue was raised at the workshop by Bishop Mogoba who called for a joint peacekeeping force composed of members of the various organizations' military or paramilitary forces. This joint force—distinct from multiparty control of the police and the South African Defense Force—would patrol...

  9. (pp. 11-12)

    Few expect a single election to remove all of the causes of political violence, though it is widely expected that a legitimate post-apartheid state will be in a better position to address the causes of violence than the present government. One consideration, therefore, of the international community's role in the election will be how to use an extensive international intervention for the longer term benefit of democracy-building in South Africa. Assuming that there will be greatly expanded international involvement in South Africa in the coming months, it is important now to consider how this unique infusion of international support for...