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.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

‘Skin Deep’ peels race science

This book is an important fightback against the re-emergence of  racist genetic determinism

Black Brain, White Brain: The new wave of racist science

The last decade has seen a revival of a very old and long-discredited idea: that intelligence is influenced by racial origin.

Fear and Lothian in Westminster

Big promises were made to keep Scotland in the union, now it’s time for backpedalling.

Slovo, First biography – Bedfellows of a different feather

Alan Wieder's biography on Joe Slovo and Ruth First focuses on the couple's relationship, their different personalities and opposing views.

Bonds of tribal loyalty loosen

Ronnie Kasrils names his comrades in the fourth edition of his book about the struggle. Other than that, not much is new.

Reliving apartheid’s dying days

Donald McRae's ability as a story­teller turns the everyday into the exceptional.

Subscribers only

Dozens of birds and bats perish in extreme heat in...

In a single day, temperatures in northern KwaZulu-Natal climbed to a lethal 45°C, causing a mass die-off of birds and bats

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

More top stories

Eskom could be fined R5-million over pollution at Kendal power...

The power utility is being taken to court by the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries in a first-of-its-kind criminal prosecution

Hope grows on Durban beachfront

Ten homeless men who turned a vacant lot into an organic vegetable garden are now reaping the rewards of their toil

Shabnim Ismail bowls her way into the record books Down...

The night before Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) final, fiery South African fast bowler Shabnim Ismail lay awake pondering how...

Hawks make arrest in matric maths paper leak

Themba Daniel Shikwambana, who works at a printing company, was granted bail and is due to return to court in January

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…