Centre for International and Comparative Politics
Department of Political Science
University of Stellenbosch
The variety of choices for a constitutional model
The enduring problem in South African politics has had two dimensions: the domination, in both political and economic terms, of the white sector of the population over the black majority, and the potential domination this majority might acquire through their numbers. This problem was entrenched in the South African state that came into being with Union in 1910.
As the name indicates, the Union was a unitary state negotiated only by white political leaders at the National Convention of 1909--1910. (In a united response to their exclusion, black leaders established the South African Native National Congress in 1912 -- later renamed the African National Congress.) Although the representatives from Natal propagated a federal system because it was outstandingly suited to `accommodate political conflicts', the argument by General Smuts was that a federation would not buttress the spirit of unity in the various white communities after the war and unity was needed to fight the 'native question'. The argument of Smuts and his supporters won the day. 2
In 1910 most white males who had attained their majority were enfranchised, as were a fairly affluent but small section of the coloured male population in the Cape Province. (Although some African males in Natal and the Cape had the vote, their numbers remained insignificant.) Within the course of two decades after Union, universal franchise became the norm as far as the white population was concerned. At the same time, however, the political rights of 'non-white' South Africans were being steadily eroded. This led to muted, and later overt, dissent on the part of the affected sector of the population. Meanwhile, the depression of the 1930s and South Africa's involvement in the war in the 1940s led to unprecedented urbanisation and industrialisation.
After the National Party's unexpected victory in 1948 South African politics entered a new era. The unitary type of constitution made it relatively easy for the NP to consolidate and centralise power. Apartheid legislation, and the hardship it caused blacks, led to black organisations actually challenging the white-dominated state. But Verwoerd extended social and political apartheid still further with the creation of `independent' homelands. This further stimulated resistance and led to the emergence of the African National Congress (ANC) and Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) as the direct opponents of the state.
Faced with the prospect of losing its dominating position by extending the franchise to all in South Africa, the white group in particular -- and for that matter other parties fearful of the simple majoritarianism advocated by the ANC and the PAC -- responded in a variety of ways in the 1970s and 1980s. These responses amount basically to an acceptance of the necessity to extend political rights to the whole population (although the terms of this extension have rarely been very generous), coupled to a rejection of a unitary form of state. In most cases these alternative political options were essentially `conservative' in that they either proposed to break up the existing unitary state to ensure minority domination, or they involved the decentralisation of power away from the central government (allowing substantial lower-level autonomy in the process), or they involved elite decision-making in order to escape the full consequences of mass democracy. These alternative non-unitary constitutional designs can be classified as follows: 3
In the four years that led to the final acceptance of South Africa's new constitution late in 1993 an entirely new constitution with new political institutions had to be designed. This article focuses on this constitution and its institutional characteristics with specific reference to the vertical division of powers -- national and subnational governments. Firstly, this article briefly traces the shifts in parties' policies and regime choices to arrive at a compromise constitutional model. Secondly, some aspects of the chosen regime structure -- a federal constitution -- will be elaborated on. Thirdly, a selection of points in the debate between the proponents and opponents of a federal model will be summarised. Finally, the results of a recent opinion-leader survey will be used to compare the constitutional preferences of the respondents with their parties' policies.
2 THE VARIETY OF CHOICES FOR A CONSTITUTIONAL MODELThe full spectrum of choices of constitutional models really came to the fore only in the period after 1990. It became clear in the constitutional debates during the negotiation process that the form of government to be adopted was a contentious matter.
After the various divergent points of view had been expressed it gradually became clearer that `regionalism' was coming to occupy an important place in the debates. But one of the most important problems was that consensus could not be reached on the powers to be allocated to regional governments. Yet the acceptance of a form of regional government as a point of departure in the debate already represented an important shift in the policies of two of the most important parties, the ANC and the NP, as will be shown below.
2.1 The ANC and regionalism 5 Initially the ANC in particular took an unambiguous stand on a unitary South Africa. In fact, they emphasised throughout that they advocated a `united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist country'. They started with a mandate to transform South Africa radically and this could only be done by a strong centralised state. Their members also pointed continually to the balkanising effect of apartheid policies and insisted that a single nation must be built at all costs. Furthermore, the ANC emphasised that a weak central state would not be able to undertake the necessary redistribution of wealth among the regions as well as among the citizens. 6 The `Constitutional Guidelines' and Harare Declaration drawn up in August 1989 again emphasised the ANC's commitment to a unitary form of government (Kotzé & Greyling 1994:56).
Their strong support for a unitary form of government must be read in conjunction with their opposition to group rights. Although the ANC welcomed cultural diversity, the organisation did not want an emphasis on ethnic differences to become the motivation for a form of government with strong regional powers.
Gradually a shift in the role of regional governments came to the fore. The ANC published a discussion document in April 1991 which indicated that elected regional governments should be instituted (ANC 1991). Yet it was clearly stated that these regional governments should operate within the limits set by a central government. What this model amounted to was a central government with all the power vested in the party which won a majority of the votes. Furthermore, provision was made for a bicameral system, with a parliament and senate; proportional representation; a bill of rights; independent judiciary and judicial review; and a president (elected generally or appointed by parliament).
In the policy document, `Ready to Govern' (ANC 1992a), as well as in the discussion document on the proposed regions for South Africa (ANC 1992b), the organisation emphasised that its constitutional model involved a `unitary' South Africa and that the central government had to have overriding powers over the regional governments. The relationship had to be one of `overlapping or concurrent jurisdiction, rather than segmented and competitive powers' (ANC 1992b:18).
After intensive debate on the issue of regionalism, and especially the number of regions to be included, another discussion document on regions was issued late in 1992 (ANC 1992c). In it the issue of dispensations such as federations and unitary states is addressed directly. It is stated quite clearly that only in highly exceptional cases can the central legislature of a state not override the regional legislatures. This is why the central government will always have overriding authority in spite of the `original powers' which regional governments might possess (ANC 1992c:14--15).
Welsh (in Friedman & Humphries 1993:67) makes the following interesting deduction from the ANC's description of the powers of regional governments: `The tenor of the ANC's position strongly suggests an attempt to achieve some extent of common ground between federalist and unitary proposals.'
The PAC, which joined the negotiating process very late, also deserves to be mentioned in the context of support for a unitary state. Its regime model is a populist majoritarian system with a unicameral legislature.
2.2 The NP's switch of modelsIn the late 1980s the NP still adhered firmly to the idea of group rights. Yet once De Klerk came into power in 1989 there was a shift away from statutory group rights. First of all, the 1989 `Plan of Action' gave such a vague description of groups that most NP supporters found it difficult to explain. But early in 1990 it was explained that groups need no longer to be the essential element in a constitutional model -- although protection of groups was an option that could be built into a new constitution.
However, the shift in NP policy on minorities was at its most obvious in a statement in September 1990 by Gerrit Viljoen, former Minister of Constitutional Development. He indicated that the government intended to scrap the notion of protection of minorities based on race. He also gave a clear indication that little remained of the NP's original policy of `rights for racial groups'. Instead of defining minorities, Viljoen said it was necessary to provide for guidelines and procedures whereby people could voluntarily elect to declare themselves minorities, if preferred (Kotzé & Greyling, 1994:215. See also Sunday Times, 14 October 1990).
In his opening address to Parliament in February 1991 De Klerk announced in a `Manifesto for a New South Africa' that the emphasis would fall on nation-building. For the first time there was no talk of racial groups and their protection. Instead of talking about groups, it was now stated: `We commit ourselves to the creation of a free and democratic political system ... in which ... the rights of all individuals and minorities defined on a non-racial basis shall be adequately protected in the constitution and in a constitutionally guaranteed and justiciable bill of rights' (NP 1991).
This change of direction in NP thinking had important implications for their constitutional model. For the first time in September 1991 they spelled out the institutional components of the plan. 7 Some of the most important elements were the following: on the first tier a unitary state with federal characteristics; on the second tier nine regions each with its own government -- each region would have autonomy over certain matters and have its own tax base; the third level would consist of municipalities with strongly devolved powers; a bicameral legislature; and an `executive college' in which the leaders of three or four of the strongest parties would take decisions on a consensus basis (NP 1991b). This proposed model of the NP was clearly a mixture of federal and consociative elements.
Although the NP would not initially use the concept of federalism, it was openly acknowledged by late 1992 that this was the regime model they were advocating. 8 In Codesa itself the government was insisting on strong regional powers because this was seen as `protection against `simple' majority government'. Furthermore, they argued that the powers granted to the various levels of government should also include `fiscal competency'. 9 However, differences of interpretation, especially between the government and the ANC, created the impression that the government did not defend regional autonomy strongly enough.
In response to a growing concern among its own supporters and homeland allies that it was indeed abandoning its preference for a policy of regionalism, the NP organised a conference in September 1992 on various aspects of federalism. To many observers it was ironic that a party which had rejected the concept for many years suddenly became the main proponent of this form of government.
Although conventional wisdom has it that federalism was part of the NP's negotiating agenda at Codesa, the party had never given any real content to its policy of regionalism. It seemed that the NP, under Roelf Meyer, Minister of Constitutional Development at the time, was opting for a `unitary federalism'. In such a system the federal government still has greater powers than in classic federal systems. As far as the larger right-wing parties such as the Conservative Party and others were concerned, there was no question of abandoning the idea of a separate territory for the Afrikaner group. This constitutional option was described as `Afrikaner self-determination'. It was therefore difficult to involve this group in the negotiation process, which was seen as destructive of the `Afrikaner volk'.
2.3 The Inkatha Freedom Party and the Democratic Party: fighting a rearguard action on federalismIn the initial stages of the transition in South Africa only one party proposed a federation as a constitutional model, namely the Democratic Party (DP). From time to time Inkatha leader Buthelezi mentioned federalism as an option, but it was not initially clear what regime model the IFP would find acceptable. It was only much later that they came up with a detailed model with federal characteristics. However, Buthelezi had a long history of support for the idea of regional autonomy.
The most notable proposals about regional autonomy as an option for South Africa have undoubtedly been those thrashed out in the Natal/KwaZulu region in the 1980s. This process culminated in the proposals of the KwaNatal Indaba of November 1986. The Indaba, called by the Natal Provincial Council and the KwaZulu government under Buthelezi's leadership, was an attempt to effect some form of joint decision-making in the Greater Natal area. In terms of the proposals, Natal would assume special autonomous status in relation to the rest of the country. This autonomous area, it was suggested, should be the first unit of a South African federation. 10 In the late 1980s no clear constitutional model was being advocated by Inkatha. It was clear, however, that Buthelezi wanted to convey the message that his organisation was in favour of universal suffrage with the retention of cultural rights. His only qualification was that group domination should not be possible in such a system.
After the establishment of the Inkatha Freedom Party in 1990, this party advocated a clearly defined federal form of government for South Africa. In the early stages of the transition process Buthelezi adopted the view that KwaZulu had to be part of any new government as a region with veto powers.
After an erratic performance at Codesa and on-off bilateral talks with the government and the ANC, the IFP finally agreed in May 1992 to an elected constitution-drafting body. In the Concerned South African Group (Cosag) the only vision shared by the IFP and the white right-wing groups was that of strong regional autonomy. In October 1992 the IFP published a document detailing the `Constitution of the State of KwaZulu/Natal' which provides for this region to be a member of a federal republic of South Africa. While acknowledging the IFP's right to put forward constitutional proposals, both the ANC and the government criticised the fact that the draft constitution had been released as a fait accompli.
The Democratic Party (established in 1989) was probably the party which adopted the most unambiguous point of view in its constitutional preferences. With a core of supporters from the Progressive Party and the later Progressive Federal Party, the DP could already spell out its federal proposals for a constitution in detail at its establishment. In a discussion paper published in August 1991, the party proposed a geographical federation consisting of 8 to 12 federal states, each with its own government. There was also a bicameral parliament, proportional representation, a directly elected president and a prime minister elected by parliament. 11 In summary, it is thus clear that the larger parties -- the ANC, NP and IFP -- expressed clear preferences for regional governments although there were differences about the types of powers that should be granted to such governments. (Another of the parties which was also successful in the 1994 election, the African Christian Democratic Party, was also committed to a federal policy.) In the final phase of the negotiations there was no strong advocate for an `all-powerful centre with Leviathan-like qualities', as Welsh (1992:71) puts it, because the PAC's voice did not carry much weight.
3 FEDERALISM: A DEFINITIONAgainst the background of the preferences for the different regime models of the largest parties described above, it is clear that the transitional constitution (1993) is a compromise document. Given the divergent views on the relation between the central government and the regional governments -- that is a unitary versus a federal dispensation -- two questions arise immediately: why did the parties adopt this compromise and what is the nature of the constitution, that is, can one detect federal principles?
It is easier to provide an answer to the first question than to the second. Since this is not the focus of the present article, a reference which describes the compromise process in terms of `institutional choice theory' should suffice (Sisk 1994). The process of convergence is described as follows: `Actors reformulate their preferences as they move from their most desired alternative regime structure, the ideal, to the regime structure they perceive as achievable given the preferences of others, the possible. Moving from the ideal to the possible is really a matter of reformulating preferences away from those that can be unilaterally imposed toward the preferences of others through compromise. Following the advent of negotiation, preferences are formulated as not what is ideal, but what is `best attainable'. This occurs when actors converge on a set of institutions that they all perceive to serve converging interests and to be fair given the conditions they face ...' (Sisk 1994:52--53).
To answer the question as to whether there are federal principles in the transitional constitution, the concept of federalism first has to be defined.
There are many interpretations of the concept of federalism. 12 On the one hand, there is the normative or ideological dimension. This idea stems from the view that conflict arises between people because of their diverse interests. The importance of the federal principle is that, among other things, it creates the possibility of accommodating diversity and unity. 13
Elazar (1987:5) points out that `federal' derives from the Latin `foedus' which means covenant. 14 In essence a federal relationship thus means a `partnership, established and regulated by a covenant, whose internal relationships reflect the special kind of sharing that must prevail among partners, based on a mutual recognition of the integrity of each partner and the attempt to foster a special unity among them'. In its broadest sense federalism is geared towards uniting individuals, groups and `polities' into a stable but limited unity, in such a way that separate goals may be reached but all the parties retain their integrity.
On the other hand, according to Elazar (1987:5) federalism as a political principle has to do with the `constitutional diffusion of power so that the constituting elements in a federal arrangement share in the processes of common policy-making and administration by right, while the activities of the common government are conducted in such a way as to maintain their respective integrities. Federal systems do this by constitutionally distributing power among general and constituent governing bodies in a manner designed to protect the existence and authority of all'.
While recognising the more ideological or idealistic content which could be given to the concept of federalism, it also seems to have a more empirical content. In this case one must look for the features which could give an indication of the most distinctive characteristics found in a federal system.
One salient feature of most definitions of federalism is that the societies or states which form part of the federation strive for unity rather than uniformity. Kriek (1992:15) describes this feature as follows: `To give expression to this striving toward unity within diversity, those matters which are of common importance to all the federal parts are entrusted to the central government, while matters that are vital to the preservation of a separate identity are left to the authorities of the individual units. Accordingly, in a federation, sovereignty is to all intents and purposes partitioned. The central authority is sovereign in regard to the matters entrusted to it, while the states, or communities, or cultural groups, are supreme in their own terrains.'
In this case, in the final analysis `sovereignty' would naturally not include national sovereignty -- this is indivisible as there can be only one sovereignty stipulated by the constitution. In a federation the `sovereign powers' granted to the states or provinces could readily be revoked by the national parliament as is the case in a unitary state, where powers are delegated only to the lower units of the state. In a federal state these powers would be more strongly protected in various ways in the constitution.
King's (1982:77) definition is quoted here to link up with the above description and to operationalise the concept: `Basically we propose that any federation be regarded as an institutional arrangement, taking the form of a sovereign state, and distinguished from other such states solely by the fact that its central government incorporates units into its decision procedure on some constitutionally entrenched basis.'
This definition provides a very useful indication for identifying a federal constitution, namely that when, in addition to having the usual characteristics of a federal constitution, the constitution entrenches the powers of the states/provinces, then it is indubitably a federal constitution.
In conclusion, it should be noted here that the brinkmanship of the IFP played a large role in strengthening the federal character of the transitional constitution. By refusing to participate in the elections until the very last minute they could, for example, insist on changes such as the granting of exclusive powers to provincial governments rather than concurrent powers.
4 THE FEDERAL CHARACTER OF THE TRANSITIONAL CONSTITUTIONAs has already been indicated, most political leaders constantly attached a negative connotation to the concept of `federalism'. 15 In some circles it was even referred to as the `f word'. In spite of this it still seems that the Transitional Constitution could be regarded as a federal constitution. In fact, Karpen (1994:7), a jurist from the University of Hamburg, said: `one can't and shouldn't overlook the fact that the interim constitution bears essential elements of a true federative system of government ...'. Kriek (1994:8), a political scientist at Unisa, concurs with this assessment: `Is the new form of state in South Africa a true federation? The answer is yes.'
It was mentioned above that King (1982) regarded the entrenchment of autonomous provinces in the decision-making process as the most important indicator of a federal constitution. Kriek (1994:2), on the other hand, uses the principles required by Riker (1964) in identifying federal constitutions: there must be at least a two-tier system of authority; each level of authority must have at least one functional area of capability in which it is autonomous; and there must be a guarantee in the constitution that each authority can act autonomously within its own sphere of activity.
To summarise, the following principles (they vary in degree of importance) could, among others, be used as important indicators of the federal elements in the transitional constitution: 16
If at this stage one examines the parties' expression of their views on regionalism and federalism, it is clear that a great deal of `reformulation of preferences' has occurred to achieve the `best attainable' regime model. 18 The ANC has moved closer to the NP on the issue of entrenchment of regional governments, whereas the NP has had to give up a number of the consociational elements of its model to arrive at a federal power-sharing regime model. In this process of compromise the smaller parties such as the DP and the IFP undoubtedly played an important role.
5 ARGUMENTS IN THE FEDERALISM DEBATE: A SUMMARYFrom the discussion in section 2 it is clear that the policies of the different parties cover the entire spectrum from `unitarism' to `federalism'. These differences were reflected in the so-called regionalism debate which preceded acceptance of the transitional constitution.
Proponents of a unitary system advocated a greater or lesser degree of decentralised powers and functions for regions which were subject to the central government.19 The differences in this camp amounted only to differences as to the degree of centralisation. As opposed to them, there were the proponents of autonomous regions who insisted on the principle of 'non-centralisation'. 20 This debate, however, encompasses much more than simply the powers of the provinces -- that is only one of the most important determinants in the operationalisation of the principle of federalism and is thus summed up here.
It is obviously impossible to decide which is the `best' system on the basis of this debate, because such a choice is governed by a value system. The particular choice made by the negotiators at Kempton Park also reflects simply what they regarded as the `best attainable' structure. 21 Although it is difficult to categorise the different aspects of the debate as many of the arguments are mutually related, an attempt is made below to summarise some of the most important points in the broad debate on a unitary versus a federal regime model: 22
The proponents of unitarism claim that because South Africa has had a state of Union for more than 80 years, it will be easy to continue with this form of government as a `unitarian political culture' has been built up. It will thus be easy for a strong central government to execute the establishment and consolidation of democracy, because people are used to only one centre of power -- all that is necessary is a democratically elected government committed to democracy. In summary this view amounts to the following: autonomous, entrenched levels of government are not necessary to bring the government closer to the people, to make it accountable and to give a voice to the voiceless. 23
In its broadest sense the above argument emphasises the accommodation of pluralism in federal systems. 24 Taylor (in Development and Democracy, 1993:8), however, issues the following warning about attempts to accommodate cultural diversity at all costs: `once you begin down the path of ethnic/cultural federal representation there seems to be no end. Beware Russian dolls, the goal of acceptable cultural geographical boundaries for all is a chimera that can only end in disaster -- ethnic cleansing is the current word for it.'
The opposite view to the accommodation of cultural differences in a federal system lies in the nation-building argument -- a strong central state is necessary to unite the different groups and in this way create a new national identity. `Self-determination' for a cultural group in a federal context could also lead to an intensification of ethnic nationalism. There is sometimes even an `uneven geographic spread of a democratic culture' within a country and in a geographical federation this could naturally delay the growth of democracy as democratic practices could remain restricted to certain regions.
To these views has to be added the argument that no regime model (by implication a constitution) can guarantee democracy.
Federalists, on the other hand, make the point that federalism ensures that each province has a strong say in national affairs and thus a more equitable spread of resources is obtained -- a strong central government is thus not necessary for this function. It is argued that it is difficult especially in developing states for the periphery to derive the benefits of economic growth as wealth remains concentrated around the capital.
Once again the so-called `right to exit' is presented as a benefit for business in federal systems. Competition between provinces to attract business can naturally lead to standards being jeopardised. For example, essential occupational safety regulations which result in high costs for businesses could be scrapped to make investment in a particular province more attractive.
Federal systems can also experiment with new policies without committing the whole nation to them.
The financing of provinces remains a challenge in federal states. `Fiscal federalism' is an aspect of the debate which has received the least attention in South Africa. At present the transitional constitution gives exclusive legislative and executive power over taxation and finance to the National Assembly and Executive. Granting provinces a wide variety of exclusive powers does not mean much if they do not have the finances to carry out the allocated functions. Control over finances thus gives the federal government a great deal of leverage over the provincial legislatures 26 It can therefore be expected that greater pressure will be exerted at the provincial level to acquire their own tax base.
The commitment to federalism can obviously be tested only in practice, that is, the transitional constitution must first come into effect and the provincial governments begin to operate.
A comparison between the personal constitutional choices of the top opinion-formers in the different parties and the constitutional structure accepted as the `best attainable' could possibly provide a superficial answer to the question of the commitment to federalism.
6 AN EMPIRICAL TEST OF FEDERAL PREFERENCESA longitudinal survey which has been conducted annually since 1989 among the top opinion-leaders in South Africa has already shown considerable changes in the constitutional preferences of decision-makers. 28 The constitutional preferences of the respondents in the most recent survey emerge as indicated in the table. The survey was conducted during the period July to August 1993 -- that is before the transitional constitution was finalised. 29 From the definition of federalism cited earlier two important indicators as to the type of federation -- weak or strong -- can be deduced. First, the type of powers and, second, how much power the provinces have, may give an indication of the power relationship between the central government and the provinces.
As indicated earlier, by mid-1993 there was a series of preferences which represented the full spectrum of the constitutional models -- from the old apartheid model supported by some of the right-wing groups to the idea of a unitary state based on a class system as proposed by the PAC. The models proposed were operationalised as follows in the questionnaire:
It is interesting that the ANC/SACP supporters do not give the same strong support to a centralised system. While 73,5 per cent do support this, there are about 20 per cent of their supporters who also select a federation as a model, albeit the weak form of federalism. This provides a possible indication that the ANC/SACP had already moved slightly away from a centralised system. The PAC shows a distribution between the official party model of the class state and a centralised state. There is equal support for these among PAC members -- 44,4 per cent support for each of the two models. There are thus clear indications of a shift in the thinking of PAC supporters.
|Regime structure||NP||DP||CP||ANC/SACP||IFP||PAC||Other||No party|
As could be expected the far-right supporters show a preference for the `confederation' model. There is only 6,5 per cent support for a `volkstaat' model. This form of constitutional system, which could be described as the more realistic model of self-determination, initially had the support of only the Boshoff group in right-wing circles. There has thus been a great shift in the thinking of the far right since General Constand Viljoen appeared on the scene. The strong opposition from the other parties towards any form of independent `state' forced the right-wing groups, who prefer a form of parliamentary opposition, to shift to their second choice, namely a `volkstaat'.
It is clear from the distribution of preferences in table 2 that there was a potential for compromise on a constitutional model if one looks at the second choices of the respondents. The supporters of a strong federation in the NP, DP and IFP had a weak federation as their second choice. Most of the ANC/SACP supporters (55,3 per cent) also moved in this direction. There are even ANC/SACP members (17 per cent) who support a strong federation. There is thus a total of 72 per cent of ANC/SACP supporters who indicated one or other form of federation as their second choice. Among PAC members too there is almost 30 per cent (28,6 per cent) support for a weak federation.
|Regime structure||NP||DP||CP||ANC/SACP||IFP||PAC||Other||No party|
|N = 447||n=173||n=80||n=46||n=49||n=30||n=27||n=12||n=30|
As could be expected, far-right supporters indicated a volkstaat as their second choice. No fewer than 76,7 per cent support this model. Once again it is the compromise model for this group. This could thus be the reason that the Negotiating Council succeeded in persuading a large number of far-right leaders in the Freedom Alliance to participate in the election and subsequent constitutional process at the eleventh hour. With the inclusion of the 34th principle in the constitution, creating the possibility of a `volkstaat', General Constand Viljoen, as leader of the Freedom Front, could declare his readiness early in 1994 to participate in the elections. (In some quarters it was suggested that it might be worthwhile for the Freedom Front and Volkstaat Council to investigate the concept of corporate federalism, instead of the geographically linked volkstaat 31 ).
This pattern of attitudes indicates how it was possible to arrive at a compromise proposal in the Interim Constitution that had the features of a federation. However, as indicated there is naturally no consensus on this description among politicians, and from an analysis of the above tables also not much commitment to a federal structure from the members of the majority party in the Government of National Unity.
In the final phase of constitution writing there is thus a possibility of strengthening federal features or weakening them. In such a system in which different centres of power have been created in the nine provinces, each with a number of exclusive powers, the dynamics of autonomous powerbases and political and economic interests could lead to the provincial leadership taking a strong stand on the reduction of their powers -- despite their initial low level of commitment towards a federal structure. The economic development of the various provinces, however, will be decisive in establishing the scope of the exclusive powers they develop.
7 CONCLUDING REMARKSThis review has presented a run-up to the final choice of a regime structure. It is clear that the long historical experience preceding the negotiating process exerted an important influence on it. Two important factors that influenced the debate may be singled out: federalism is seen in some circles as a mechanism to entrench white privilege; and one of the strongest resistance movements had a mandate to transform society in a revolutionary way -- which can be done only with a strong central government. This is why the concept of federalism unleashed political emotions.
After the short theoretical discussion of the concept of federalism, it was argued that South Africa's transitional constitution is in fact a federal constitution. But if the concept seems to be unacceptable to the largest part of the population another name should be found for the regime structure.
It appears from the summing up of the arguments of the `unitarists' and the `federalists' that there is a great deal of overlap in the requirements of the respective regime structures -- sometimes only the terminology differs. A union and a federation lie along a spectrum, with only vague boundaries between some institutions and functions in the various regime models, which makes it easier to reach a compromise on powers and functions. The one important requirement here is the will of the political leaders to make the compromise model work -- this could develop rapidly among the provincial leadership as a consequence of the dynamics and benefits inherent in the acquisition of autonomous decision-making powers.
In the final analysis, the nature of the transition, the institutions which existed, the transitional constitution which was negotiated and the political culture in South Africa create the opportunity of devising a constitutional system which will be widely acceptable to a great number of the diverse groupings in South Africa.
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