Volkstaat (Afrikaans for "People's state") is a proposal for the establishment of a homeland for Afrikaners. Outside a possible use of force, the South African Constitution and International Legislation present certain possibilities for the establishment of such a state. The South African regime declared that they would not support a Volkstaat, but "would do everything they could to ensure the protection of the Afrikaner language and culture". What a fine job they are doing.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Questions that were asked a long time ago

Questions asked about the future of South Africa in 1994: Mr. Duncan Edmonds, former Chairman of Canadian Studies at Yale University and recently a visiting lecturer at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, outlines a number of difficult challenges to President Mandela's new government.

How to control and contain the violence? How to manage and expand the economy and improve the living conditions of some 30 million blacks? How to re-engineer the public service? How can the government buy precious time to allow the new constitution and the new federal structures to evolve? These are among the formidable challenges in the next few years. Many of the political problems remain to be resolved. Who will succeed Mandela and through what type of process? Will the ANC coalition hold or will it be split apart, with its communist and union wings forming radical new political parties? How will Chief Buthelezi and his party relate to the new South Africa? The possibility of a KwaZulu secession is by no means out of the question, and as Minister of Home Affairs, Buthelezi occupies a key position from which to press his demands for greater provincial autonomy. Will the right-wing Boers continue to press for their own "volkstaat"? Perilous as some of the speculative answers to these and other questions may be, it is vital to appreciate that the prospects for democracy do not rest solely on answers to these types of questions, but rather on the continuing dynamics of the maintenance of choice in a free society which South Africa has now achieved. Above all, sustainable democracy requires stability and a composite of attitudes and values which Bagehot once called "animated moderation". In this regard, many elements of South Africa's rich heritage, combined with the process of negotiation and the achievements of recent years, offer much promise.

In the final volume of his autobiography in 1987, Alan Paton, who provided such a stimulus for international interest in his country, urged the release of Mandela from prison and speculated on what might result: "One thing would happen. Mandela would be greeted in every part of South Africa by the greatest crowds in our history. They would expect nothing less from him than liberation. Is he now able to do it? Is he still in sufficient command of himself and events to do it, and to get others to co-operate in doing it? We do not know the answers to these questions." Paton died before his questions could be answered in the triumphant and dramatic manner the world is now applauding. Will democracy, so painfully borne in South Africa, be sustained and mature over the coming years? The prognosis is one of cautious optimism, with the major qualification perhaps best articulated by an explicit warning in the much quoted ANC manifesto: "An election victory is only a first step. No political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remain in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life."



Post a Comment

<< Home