Mandela did tell MDM of FW talks

The Mass Democratic Movement had prior knowledge that jailed African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela was about to meet State President FW de Klerk.

Contrary to speculation that the MDM and ANC were “caught by surprise” by the meeting, MDM representatives said they had beer told the event was in the pipeline weeks before it took place.

“Soon after his meeting with PW Botba, Mr Mandela raised the possibility of meeting with De Klerk, and we therefore knew it was about to take place, although we did not know the exact date,” said MDM representative Murphy Morobe. He said the MDM was cautious about commenting on the meeting.

“We will have to wait for a detailed report from Mr Mandela.” Morobe said the MDM was confident Mandela would have articulated the ANC position and said the meeting was “part of the process.

We have never had any reason to question his bona fides. He has always taken his lead
from the movement.”


The ANC has yet to respond to news of the meeting, but has kept in touch with developments. When Mandela met PW Botha four months ago, the ANC welcomed the event.

While Botha’s Tuynhuys “tea party” came as virtually the last act of his presidency, De Klerk’s marks a major step in an ongoing process of negotiation.

Having engaged in discussions with Mandela, De Klerk is likely to open the prison doors within the next few months. Advocate Dullar Omar, who represents Mandela, stressed the ANC leader wished to be freed immediately, but was “not going to beg for his release”.

Wednesday’s Tuynhuys meeting was the first encounter between the state president and the ANC leader. Also present were Justice Minister Kobie Coetsee and Constitutional Development Minister Gerrit Viljoen.

Coetsee said they had discussed “ways and means to address current obstacles in the way of meaningful dialogue”.

Phrased differently this amounts to a discussion about what the ANC and the government have termed the “climate for negotiations” Coetsee added that “follow-up talks in the new year were envisaged” and that their discussion ‘fitted” in with Mr De Klerk’s programme to consult with the full spectrum of political opinion concerning the mutual future of all South Africans”. But the meeting between the two represents more than just an item in the state president’s diary.

According to De Klerk, the meeting was initiated by Mandela, although MDM sources indicate that both parties had put out feelers about the get-together at least a month earlier. It is perhaps significant that the encounter came four days after the Conference for a Democratic Future adopted the Organisation of African Unity’s Harare Declaration on negotiations.

The declaration states that “discussions should take place between the liberation movement and the South African regime to achieve the suspension of hostilities on both sides by agreeing to a mutually binding ceasefire”. The catch is these “talks about talks” only begin, according to the declaration, once the climate for negotiations has been created.

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