Constitutions in transition
Constitutions in transition

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Constitutions in transition

2.2.1 Truth, damn truth, and statistics

Statistics rarely do justice to the reality of a situation but the stark results of the 1992 Human Development Index (HDI) demonstrate the systemic damage that apartheid inflicted on certain groups:

In the 1992 HDI rankings ... South Africa as a whole places 86th among 173 countries, adjacent to other middle income countries such as Sri Lanka, Botswana, and Peru. Differentiating the South African figures by race, one finds that white South Africa rises in rank to 18th place, with HDI place similar to New Zealand, while black South Africa falls to 118th place, close to countries such as Vietnam, Bolivia and Lesotho.

(Madlingozi, 2007, p. 107)

The date of the HDI rankings is significant as it sits in the middle of F.W. de Klerk’s presidency as leader of the National Party (N.P.), which was a significant epoch in South African history.

In the next activity you will be asked to adopt the role of another person when giving your response. Whenever you write in a legal context, it is important to think about things such as who is your audience and what is the appropriate style to adopt.

Activity 4 Imagine you’re F.W. de Klerk … it’s easy if you try

Timing: You should allow yourself 20 minutes to do this activity.

F.W. de KlerkIt was noted in Activity 3 that there is a gap in the timeline between 1989 and 1997 in the interactive map. That is because this activity asks you to imagine you were de Klerk, intent on ending apartheid. Knowing what you know about apartheid, and considering the information given on the interactive map, what steps would you take to ensure that this happened?

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This activity wants you to understand the difficulty de Klerk faced in his attempt to end apartheid. You can find the missing pieces of the information below. Please, only go on to the following section once you have made an attempt to engage with the activity.

This is what de Klerk did:

  • 1990: he legalised the ANC (African National Congress) and released Nelson Mandela from prison.
  • 1992: he presided over a whites-only referendum on bringing apartheid to an end, with a substantial majority agreeing that it should be ended.
  • 1993: an interim constitution was written that provided for the first non-racial election (an election open to all, irrespective of race) in South Africa, and established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as part of the healing process of post-apartheid South Africa.

  • 1994: he became Deputy President under Nelson Mandela’s presidency, after he and the ANC were elected in the first non-racial general election.
Figure 4 Nelson Mandela

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