Human Rights Developments
In 1993 a date was finally fixed for the end of white minority rule in South Africa. Multiparty negotiations that had been suspended in June 1992 were resumed, and April 27, 1994 was set as the date for the first multiracial general election in South Africa's history. In October the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Nelson Mandela, President of the African National Congress (ANC) and to State President F.W. de Klerk, for their leadership of the negotiations since 1990. However, the transition period was threatened by the withdrawal from the negotiations of conservative groups, including Chief Gatsha Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and several right-wing white parties, and by the sudden escalation of political violence following the announcement of the election date. During 1993, some steps were taken to increase accountability in the law enforcement system, but abuses of human rights continued to be committed by the security forces, including detention without trial and torture and ill-treatment of detainees. South Africa signed several human rights treaties during 1993, including the Convention Against Torture and the Convention on the Elimination of All Formsof Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
In February 1993, bilateral negotiations between the ANC and the National Party government, based on a September 1992 Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties, set the stage for the resumption of multiparty talks. A controversial agreement provided that an interim government of national unity, effectively a form of power sharing between the two parties, should rule South Africa for a period of five years after an election. A Multiparty Negotiating Forum (MPNF) began to sit in April, taking over the work of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) abandoned in June 1992. Two months later, April 27, 1994 was agreed, by twenty of the twenty-six parties to the negotiations, as the date for the election of a 400-member constituent assembly. In September, legislation was passed in the existing parliament for the establishment of a Transitional Executive Council (TEC), with extensive powers to promote free political activity during the election campaign. In November, the MPNF agreed to a new interim constitution to take effect after the elections, pending agreement on a final version. It included a bill of rights guaranteeing basic freedoms and abolished the ten nominally independent homelands.
Right-wing resistance to the negotiations process grew during the year. In May, a new coalition of twenty-one right-wing parties, known as the Afrikaner National Front (Afrikaner Volksfront, or AVF), was founded by several former leaders in the South African Defence Force (SADF). On the day the election date was supposed to be confirmed, approximately 3,000 members of the white supremacist Afrikaner Resistance Movement (Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, or AWB), crashed an armored vehicle through the glass-fronted entrance of the World Trade Centre in Johannesburg, location of the talks, and occupied the building. Several right-wing delegations-including the IFP and the governments of the homelands of KwaZulu, Ciskei and Bophuthatswana-refused to endorse the election date and walked out of the negotiations. In October, these and other members of the right-wing Concerned South Africans Group (Cosag), joined to form a new party, known as the Freedom Alliance. The Freedom Alliance did not endorse the new constitution, nor the abolition of the homelands.
However, political violence remained the most serious threat to the transition process. Violence had been on a downward trend in late 1992 and early 1993, but exploded with renewed force in July 1993, following the announcement of the date for multiracial elections. The July-August toll of 1,159 deaths, as monitored by the independent Human Rights Commission (HRC), was the highest ever two-month total. By the end of October, the organization calculated that 3,521 people had died in political attacks in 1993, the overwhelming majority in conflict between ANC and IFP supporters. However, as in previous years, allegations were made that a "third force," formed of security force and/or right-wing elements, was instigating much of the violence. In July, it was revealed after his death in custody that Victor Kheswa, a notorious criminal involved in many violent incidents, was a member both of the extreme right-wing World Preservatist Movement and of the IFP.
Earlier in the year, negotiations had been threatened by the highest-level political assassination in South Africa since President de Klerk unbanned the ANC in 1990. On April 10, 1993, Chris Hani, president of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC, was shot dead outside his home by Janusz Waluz, a Polish immigrant and member of the AWB. In October, Waluz was found guilty of the murder of Hani, together with Clive Derby-Lewis, a Conservative Party member of parliament, who had supplied the gun. Both were sentenced to the death penalty.
Attacks on white South Africans also increased during 1993, although the vast majority of victims were black. In May, an attack on a hotel bar in East London carried out by the Azanian Peoples Liberation Army (APLA), the armed wing of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), killed five white men. In July, ten people were killed and fifty injured in an attack on a church in a white suburb of Capetown. Other whites died in attacks on farmers and travelers, many attributed to APLA. In the first six months of 1993, 109 policemen, black and white, were killed.
The government's response to political violence remained inadequate, despite several high-profile initiatives, and continued to rely on suppression of protest rather than attempt to address underlying problems of policing. The declaration of "unrest areas" under the Public Safety Act, where emergency-type legislation gives police the right to detain without trial and other powers, remained routine. At the end of October, twenty-seven districtswere unrest areas; 609 people had been detained without trial during the year to that date. Although the MPNF voted in November to abolish detention without trial under the Internal Security Act, detention under unrest regulations was not affected. In March 1993, the government announced a "ten point plan" to combat violence, focusing on increased police presence and manpower. Stronger penalties for possession of illegal weapons and ammunition were brought into effect by an amendment to the Arms and Ammunition Act, passed in May. Following the upsurge of violence in July, the government flooded the townships with troops, in a manner reminiscent of the days of emergency rule in the mid-1980s.
Government action taken to address fears raised by attacks on white South Africans remained more forceful than the response to violence in the black townships. In April, the homeland of Transkei was surrounded by troops, as a response to a Goldstone Commission report indicating that the homeland was used as a base for APLA cadres. On May 25, partly in response to the attack on an East London hotel attributed to APLA, police arrested eighty-one members of the PAC, in a nationwide sweep. Most were eventually released without charge. In the wake of the Capetown killings, the government announced that about 2,000 ex-policemen were to be re-employed, and 4,000 civilians to replace trained police in administrative posts. In October, SADF troops illegally entered Transkei, and raided a house in Umtata, the capital, killing five teenagers alleged to be APLA cadres. By contrast, the police failed to take prompt action to prevent the occupation of the World Trade Centre by the AWB. Sixty-nine of those involved were eventually arrested and charged with various offenses, but most were only fined for their behavior. At the same time, the government began distributing large numbers of sophisticated assault rifles to white farmers, following attacks on rural homesteads, under the "kommando" or reservist system for the SADF.
The structures of the September 1991 National Peace Accord (NPA), including the Goldstone Commission of Inquiry into the causes of the violence, continued to function during 1993. Measures taken under the NPA, especially the establishment of local dispute resolution committees, were widely credited with the decline in political violence in late 1992 and early 1993; however, they were unable to cope with increased tensions later in the year. The Goldstone Commission released reports or conducted investigations of numerous violent incidents during 1993. Some of these reports, especially those investigating the security forces, were strongly criticized for failing to allocate blame for the causes of the violence. To supplement these efforts, it was agreed at the MPNF that a multiparty national peacekeeping force should be established to counter political violence during the run-up to the elections. This was provided for by the act establishing the TEC.
In December 1992, following a raid by the Goldstone Commission on a secret military intelligence headquarters, President de Klerk fired twenty-three top army officers alleged to be involved in covert action aimed at undermining black opposition groups and provoking violence. However, some of the most notorious officers, including Gen. "Kat" Liebenberg and Lt.-Gen. George Meiring, were not removed. During 1993, the reopened inquest into the 1985 deaths of four anti-apartheid activists, including Matthew Goniwe, implicated General Liebenberg in his assassination and in attempts to destabilize the homelands of Ciskei and Transkei. In March, the notorious 31 and 32 Battalions, made up of Angolan soldiers under white command, were finally disbanded, more than a year after the government had promised it would do so; though the individual members of the battalions remained in the army. In August, Liebenberg retired as head of the army; but he was replaced by Meiring, rather than an officer with a relatively untainted image. Also in August, the Minister of Defense announced the end of military conscription for whites only and the forthcoming establishment of an all-volunteer army.
Police misconduct, including the indiscriminate use of lethal force in crowd control, and the torture and ill-treatment of individuals in police detention, remained routine during 1993. According to the HRC, 115 people were killed in actions by the security forces, and thirty-five people died in police custody in South Africa in 1993 up to the end of October. One of the most noteworthy incidents of bad crowd policing occurred in April, when police fired on a demonstration in Soweto protesting the death of Chris Hani, killing four people.
Some important measures were taken by the government to address these concerns. In January, ten regional police reporting officers were appointed under the NPA by the Minister of Law and Order to investigate allegations of police misconduct. The government announced additional measures in May,including the appointment of ten regional "ombudsmen" to whom members of the public could complain, a review of police training, and the introduction of "community supported" policing. In September, the government said that it would cease to employ about 13,000 rudimentarily-trained kitskonstabels ("instant constables"), responsible for many abuses. In July, the Security Forces Board of Inquiry Act provided for a board, chaired by a judge, to investigate serious offenses by the police. The same month saw an agreement, under the NPA, to allow civilian inspection of police cells in the Vaal area. Despite these measures, the vast majority of security force abuses remained unpunished and uninvestigated, especially abuses committed by the homeland security forces, not affected by reforms introduced by the government in Pretoria.
The South African government retained extensive powers under the Internal Security Act to ban or restrict public gatherings. Although a new cooperation between government and political parties began to be evident in the planning of mass action, many demonstrations continued to be banned. Hundreds of arrests were made during the year for participation in illegal gatherings. In April, the Goldstone Commission published draft legislation for the regulation of gatherings in the future. The draft was widely criticized as giving too many powers to the police.
Government censorship of the media in South Africa continued to ease in 1993. As part of the negotiation process, the appointment of a new board for the government-operated South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) was agreed, to ensure balanced coverage of the election campaign. However, the airwaves remained restricted: the transmitter of Bush Radio, a community station in Capetown, was confiscated on April 30, and its operators charged with broadcasting illegally.
At the end of October, 316 prisoners were on death row in South Africa (excluding the nominally independent homelands). Although the South African parliament voted in June by a two-thirds majority to resume implementation of the death penalty, after a moratorium on executions of two years, the Minister of Justice stated that the government would not resume hangings without consulting with parties outside parliament, and no further executions did in fact take place before mid-November. The government of the homeland of Bophuthatswana announced a moratorium on executions in March. In the homeland of Venda two executions were threatened in May, but were postponed after national and international protest.
Abuses committed in the past by the ANC continued to receive attention in 1993. In August, a report was issued by the second internal commission of inquiry appointed by the ANC to examine allegations of torture and ill-treatment in detention camps in Angola and other southern African countries during the 1980s. The three-person commission confirmed the conclusions of previous investigations and named individuals responsible for torture and other abuse. The ANC, while accepting "collective moral responsibility" for the abuses and offering an apology to the victims, declined to take any further action. It called for the establishment after elections of a "truth commission" to examine and determine punishment for abuses by all sides during the apartheid era.
The ten homelands maintained their separate identity from South Africa during 1993, and their separate representation at the multiparty talks. Three of the homelands-Bophuthatswana, KwaZulu and Ciskei-continued to demand that an extreme form of federalism, effectively perpetuating the homeland system, should be entrenched in rules binding a constituent assembly. The governments of all three homelands joined the right-wing Freedom Alliance. However, the new interim constitution agreed by the MPNF in November provided for the reincorporation of the homelands after elections in 1994.
In Bophuthatswana, political organizations opposed to the regime, in particular the ANC, remained unable to organize within the homeland boundaries, as meetings were dispersed and activists detained under the homeland's extremely repressive Internal Security Act and other legislation. The University of Bophuthatswana and other educational institutions were particularly targeted for attack as a result of efforts by students and faculty to promote free political activity. The university was closed down for several months during the year.
In Ciskei, 1993 saw continuing repression by the homeland government of opposition groups, and promotion of the African Democratic Movement, or its replacement, the Christian People's Movement, set up by homeland leader Brig. Oupa Gqozo. In May, an unconditional indemnity was announced for seventy soldiers and police involved in the shooting of twenty-eight demonstrators inthe "Bisho massacre" of September 1992. However, in August, after being compelled by court order to give evidence, Gqozo was found by an inquest to be responsible for the 1990 death of former Ciskei Defence Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Charles Sebe, during an alleged attempted coup. In December 1992, in an interesting development for the future adjudication of a bill of rights in South Africa, the Appellate Division of the Ciskei Supreme Court overturned Section 26 of Ciskei's National Security Act, which allowed indefinite detention without trial. However, the homeland reintroduced detention powers in a September 1993 decree replacing the invalidated section.
Natal Province, the location of the KwaZulu homeland, remained the focus of some of the worst violence between supporters of the ANC and the IFP. Much of this violence was rooted in the lack of free political activity in the homeland, and in the arbitrary and illegal behavior of KwaZulu officials. The biased, incompetent and criminal behavior of the KwaZulu Police (KZP) led to repeated calls for the force to be disbanded. A limited investigation of the KZP was carried out by the Goldstone Commission during the second half of the year.
The Right to Monitor
The South African government continued to allow greater freedom than in the past to organizations monitoring human rights based both inside and outside the country. In January and February, Africa Watch was given permission to visit five prisons, as a follow-up to visits made by the Prison Project of Human Rights Watch in August 1992. Several international and local networks monitored violence in South Africa, including teams from the United Nations, the European Community (E.C.) and the Commonwealth, with government consent. Both monitors and journalists reporting on the violence were targets of harassment and sometimes attack, but mostly by township youths rather than government forces.
In the homeland of Bophuthatswana, two South African human rights groups, the Black Sash and the Transvaal Rural Action Group, remain banned. U.N. and E.C. monitors were refused entry to the homeland in March, and two monitors from the Ecumenical Monitoring Programme in South Africa were arrested; in May the leader of the U.N. team in South Africa and four other U.N. monitors were also briefly detained. In December 1992, three lecturers at the university involved in human rights monitoring or political activity were "deported" to South Africa. The coordinator for the Mafikeng Anti-Repression Forum, a local human rights group, was detained in August, together with five members of the executive of the local ANC branch. Student leaders on the campus of the university protesting lack of political freedoms were repeatedly harassed and detained.
The election of Bill Clinton as President of the United States was widely expected in South Africa to lead to greater U.S. support for the ANC, as opposed to the government, in the negotiations process. Nelson Mandela was amongst the first world leaders that President-elect Clinton called after his election, and the only African leader invited to his inauguration. In 1993, the Clinton administration supported the negotiations process and showed itself more willing than the Bush administration to criticize those who obstructed it; in particular, Chief Buthelezi was strongly urged to resume participation in the talks when he refused to endorse the decision to fix April 27, 1994 as the date for elections and led the IFP out of the negotiating forum.
In April, after the assassination of Chris Hani, Secretary of State Warren Christopher sent letters of condolence to Nelson Mandela and to Hani's widow Limpho, in May, a high-level U.S. delegation, headed by Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, attended the funeral of Oliver Tambo, former leader of the ANC in exile, who died of natural causes. In August, officials confirmed reports that the State Department was providing security training for the protection of Mandela and other ANC leaders.
On July 4, Nelson Mandela and President de Klerk were joint recipients of the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, sponsored by We the People 2000, a business and civic organization. Both leaders visited the White House during their trip to the U.S., and had high-level meetings with administration officials and others, but Mandela received much more attention. After the presentation of the medal, he toured the U.S. fundraising for the ANC's election campaign and calling for renewed contacts with South Africa after the elections. In October, President Clinton welcomed the award of the Nobel Peace Prize toMandela and de Klerk.
All U.S. aid to South Africa has since 1985 been paid through non-governmental channels. In 1993, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program in South Africa amounted to $80 million, making it South Africa's largest donor after the European Community. In addition, $10 million was allocated by the U.S. government in 1993 for support of the election process.
In September 1993, following the passage of the legislation to establish a Transitional Executive Council to regulate the period until elections in 1994, Nelson Mandela called on the U.N. General Assembly to lift all sanctions against South Africa sexcept the oil and arms embargoes. Within hours, the United States, which had already removed most restrictions on trade with South Africa in 1991, announced that it would comply. Legislation lifting the ban on U.S. support for International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank loans to South Africa, and removing all conditions on Export-Import Bank guarantees, was passed immediately in the Senate, and one week later in the House. President Clinton announced a trade and investment mission to South Africa to explore business opportunities. Other countries, together with the Commonwealth and the European Community, also lifted sanctions. The IMF announced that it would lend $850 million to South Africa for balance of payments assistance.
The Work of Africa Watch
Africa Watch's work in South Africa in 1993 followed themes established in previous years, focusing on abuses in the homelands and accountability. A representative of Africa Watch traveled to South Africa in January and February. In May, a report examined the official response to political violence, in the light of recommendations made by Africa Watch in January 1991. In September, a newsletter examining human rights in KwaZulu continued a series of reports focusing on the homelands. A chapter on South Africa was included in the Human Rights Watch Global Report on Prisons, published in June 1993. A report focusing on South African prisons, undertaken with the HRW Prison Project, was scheduled for release in January 1994.
Several detailed letters were sent to the governments of South Africa and the homelands, protesting threats of execution in the homelands and interference with free political activity. A letter was also sent to the ANC urging the organization to accept the recommendations of the Motsuenyane Commission and take action against those found to be responsible for human rights violations in ANC detention camps.