Berlin: 15 November 2011
In my sixty years of political career and the
responsibilities of Government, there have been only a few
elements of continuity and constancy. One of these has been my
solid friendship and relationship with the Konrad Adenauer
Foundation. Therefore, I find it most appropriate for me to be
in your midst on this occasion, to thank you all not only for
the hospitality extended to me during this trip, but also for so
many years of friendship and support.
It is an often-used cliché to refer to a
friendship having passed the test of time. The fact is that our
friendship has passed much more than the test of time, as it has
endured also the tests of fire and political difficulty. I shall
never forget the partnership we forged during the difficult
years of the Cold War and how important that partnership was in
forging a path which South Africa could walk to reach its
peaceful transformation towards liberation and democracy.
History has not fully acknowledged the
paramount importance of the pages of history which we have
written together. But that shall not prevent us from claiming
the credit due to us and recollecting what we have done
The world has changed a lot since the days of
the Cold War and few people realise the challenges confronting
us then. Germany was divided into two countries, West and East
Germany, and it was West Germany that was the strongest bastion
against the expansion of the Soviet Empire into Europe.
In Africa, the Soviets were militarily present throughout
Southern Africa in a bid to take political and military control
of the Southern part of our continent.
Through the Cubans, they were present in
Angola, financing and fuelling the civil war there, as well as
the military operations in Namibia. They were actively involved
in the civil war in Mozambique.
They were training South African liberation
fighters under the command of the ANC in Tanzania and other
African countries, while providing military training and
political assistance to ANC leaders in exile, most of whom were
card-carrying communist members.
It is difficult to relate those circumstances
to the present day, as people have changed and the changes of
history have placed in a different light the same people, their
agendas and motivations. But the fact is that, in most of the
Western world, the ANC was regarded as a terrorist organisation
and Nelson Mandela was never recognised with the status of a
political prisoner, not even by Amnesty International. Yet, I
held in South Africa more rallies than anyone else calling for
the liberation of Nelson Mandela, the unbanning of the ANC and
the liberation of all those incarcerated in South Africa on
account of their political opinions and ANC membership.
I did this while working hard with
international partners, including the Konrad Adenauer
Foundation, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher, and Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. Bush and Ronald
Reagan, to ensure not only the liberation of South Africa, but
also a non-communist outcome to the liberation struggle of South
At the time, the ANC was pursuing the
impossible dream of a military victory over the Apartheid
regime. This dream was fuelled by the Soviets' military and
financial support. Had the Soviet influence and military
manoeuvring moved from Angola, Mozambique and Namibia into South
Africa, the whole of Southern Africa would have become a huge
conflict area. Had the Soviets got any closer to winning such
huge conflict, it would have been impossible for the Western
world not to intervene, transforming Southern Africa into
another Vietnam in a conflict with stakes much higher than those
in Vietnam, as South Africa supplied to the West sixteen
strategic minerals and controlled maritime routes from East to
West. A conflict in Southern Africa would have escalated way
beyond what Vietnam was ever feared to be or become.
It was under these conditions that we worked
together to ensure that the international sanctions imposed on
South Africa would not cripple our country, delivering it to
mass insurrection and an inevitable communist outcome to its
liberation dilemma. I took a firm stand in opposing
international sanctions against South Africa and the campaign
aimed at forcing Western companies to disinvest from South
I was proud that, together, we achieved a
constructive policy which enabled German companies such as
Mercedes Benz to maintain their investment in South Africa and
assist the country. History proved me right, as sanctions did
not affect the survival and welfare of Apartheid and the
affluent white community, but only damaged the poorest of the
poor, whom I represented.
At that time, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation
worked with us to establish the Inkatha Institute in Durban,
which provided immense assistance in organising the black masses
for political action aimed at their liberation, but outside the
parameters of a communist insurrection.
We also brought about another result of
immense importance. With the assistance I received from many
quarters, including the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, I began the
process of creating institutional venues where intellectuals,
opinion-makers and leaders of our then deeply divided society
could meet and discuss a shared future, irrespective of race and
religion. Until I did so, it was impossible and inconceivable
for blacks and whites to sit together to plan their future as
peers and friends. This was the process which, over twenty
years, matured to create the conditions which enabled all South
Africans to sit together, irrespective of race, to forge a
shared, common destiny when they negotiated for two years our
democratic constitution at the World Trade Centre.
In 1980 I launched the Buthelezi Commission
which was predicated on the firm belief that black and white
South Africans could work together to forge a shared and
mutually beneficial future. At the time this was immensely
politically incorrect, not only for the white community - which
did not see why it should share its life, riches and country
with the black community - but also for many segments of the
black community who saw white South Africans not as compatriots,
but as enemies to be defeated.
The commitment we began in the Buthelezi
Commission finally led to the KwaZulu Natal Indaba of 1986,
which brought together intellectuals, businessmen and
politicians throughout South Africa and across racial divides.
The Report of the Commission was so compelling that, even though
it refused to give us a Joint Legislative Authority, the
Apartheid regime was nonetheless forced to concede to us the
establishment of the KwaZulu and Natal Joint Executive
Authority, which was the first interracial government in the
history of South Africa. In that Government, both black and
white learned a lot about one another and proved that we could
work together as South Africans in our common interest, laying
the foundation for what had to come.
In this process, the Konrad Adenauer
Foundation and the Inkatha Institute worked with me to build the
many invisible bridges which consolidated over the years and
made it possible for future political developments to take
place, ranging from the formation of the UDF to the final
holding of all-inclusive negotiations leading to the
constitutional settlement of 1994 and our first democratic
Obviously what really allowed all this to
happen was Mikhail Gorbachev's Perestroika, which led to the
fall of the Berlin Wall; all of which deprived the ANC not only
of its Soviet master, but also of any hope of achieving
liberation by any means other than a negotiated settlement. In
the end, the ANC had to accept that the only way to achieve
liberation was as I had suggested time and again for so many
years, namely through negotiations, negotiations, negotiations.
After liberation, the Inkatha Institute became
a think-tank for opposition parties, and changed its name to the
Democracy Development Project. It provided an immensely
important function as it enabled leaders of political parties to
have a confidential venue in which to meet and discuss politics.
One cannot fully appreciate how the divisions of Apartheid made
strangers out of South Africans who suddenly found themselves
having to work together.
Thereafter, the Development Democracy Project
was extended to also include the ANC, and became an
all-inclusive forum which continued to receive a continuous flow
of assistance from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. However, just
as every instrument has a purpose within its own season, as the
years went by this function of the DDP was no longer required,
and its political role faded away to develop into a capacity
building role within local government.
One should not underestimate the importance of
this role, as most of South Africa established local government
structures for the first time in our history and tens of
thousands of people were called upon to serve as municipal
councillors, municipal managers and municipal staff without any
prior training or experience, under brand new laws of a
complexity never before witnessed in our legal system.
The role of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in
making all this happen has created an everlasting legacy of
democracy-building there where it perhaps matters the most, at
the local level.
Hand in hand with this effort, the Konrad
Adenauer Foundation worked very closely with me and my
colleagues to produce academic material which explained to the
world the functions of traditional leadership and traditional
councils within an African system of local government.
This effort fed into many seminars and
workshops over the years, which enabled South Africans to
understand and appreciate realities of their own country which
they perceived to be totally foreign to them.
The documentation provided in these efforts
remains unique to the whole of Africa and will undoubtedly be
used throughout Africa to deal with what is one of Africa's most
common societal features, and one of the most important elements
of governance at the local level. Again, even in this respect,
the Konrad Adenauer Foundation built bridges where none existed
and where no one was able or willing to build them.
The other aspect for which I am very grateful
to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation is the assistance it provided
to me when, in my capacity as Minister of Home Affairs, I
pursued the agenda of democratising South Africa throughout my
ten years of office. The most important challenge I faced was
that of providing my country with a suitable electoral law. I
established a Commission headed by the late Dr van Zyl Slabbert
and comprising some of South Africa's best minds.
This commission was heavily assisted by the
Konrad Adenauer Foundation and proposed a new electoral law
closely resembling the German system, which combines
proportional representation with constituencies.
Unfortunately this law was rejected by the ANC
Cabinet exactly because it increased the accountability of
elected representatives and made our system more democratic.
However, the findings of the Commission and the bills it drafted
remain part of our national record and will undoubtedly
re-emerge in legislative proposals of the future.
I should praise and thank the Konrad Adenauer
Foundation for many other activities and projects in which we
have jointly been involved since 1994. But this would require
much more time than is allowed by this occasion. It should
suffice to say that what we have done together in the past has
been of immense importance for South Africa.
However, the job is not finished, either for
me or for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The greatest
challenges lie ahead. We must continue to build bridges amongst
South Africans who remain deeply divided.
The latest initiative which I have sponsored
through my colleagues and associates is the establishment of a
Parliamentary Institute of South Africa, PISA, which brings
together former and serving Members of Parliament in a
confidential dialogue with captains of industry, academics,
diplomats, journalists, religious leaders and opinion-makers.
PISA combines the features of the British Chatham House, the
American Council of Foreign Relations and the German
I was very pleased that this initiative was
again supported by the German Government through the GIZ, which
organised a trip for its founders to Germany where they met the
Vice-Chancellor, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the
President of the Parliamentary Society. The GIZ is sponsoring
the launch of PISA in ten days, on the 25th of November, and has
given us assurances that it will be the catalyst to promote the
participation of German foundations in the future activities of
PISA's first activity will be on the 26th of
November and will consist of a high-level symposium on climate
change, which will aim to give political direction to the South
African negotiators participating in COP 17 the following week.
For next year, PISA is planning four additional symposiums,
which I sincerely hope will see the involvement of the Konrad
Adenauer Foundation, so that we may continue to build those
bridges which have enabled our democracy to flourish up to this
point, in an environment in which rationality, pragmatism and
common sense prevail over the many destructive ideologies and
tendencies which unfortunately are still at work and deeply
rooted in my country.
The job is not complete and I will carry
forward the mission that history has bestowed on me. I hope
that, in so doing, I may continue to count on my friendship with
the Konrad Adenauer Foundation; a friendship which has indeed
passed the test of time and the test of courage under fire.