South African Steps to Dismantle Apartheid System Welcomed

UN Chronicle, June 1991 | Go to article overview

South African Steps to Dismantle Apartheid System Welcomed


Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar on 4 February said that the address of South African President F. W. de Klerk at the opening of the South African Parliament on 1 February "advances further the process of removing statutory apartheid from the country's institutional framework".

He hoped that those "constructive initiatives" would be accompanied by "measures giving substantive effect to the removal of the main pillars of apartheid and by the resolution of a number of outstanding issues required for the commencement of negotiations".

President de Klerk had announced that he would scrap the remaining laws on which South Africa's ideology of racial discrimination had long rested. Legislation was to be introduced to repeal the Land Acts of 1913 and 1936, which reserved most of the country's land for the white minority, the Group Areas Act of 1966 and the Black Communities Act of 1984, which had structured the separate status of black townships.

The Population Registration Act, which classifies all South Africans into four racial groups--black, white, people of mixed race and Asian--would also soon be eliminated through the enactment of what he described as "temporary, transitional measures" needed to maintain the present Constitution, until a new one could be negotiated and drafted.

"Should Parliament adopt the Government's proposals", Mr. de Klerk stated, "the South African statute book will be devoid, within months, of the remnants of racially discriminatory legislation which have become known as the cornerstone of apartheid," South Africa could not allow or permit the "dynamic process of reform" to slow down.

On 5 February, Ibrahim Gambari of Nigeria, Chairman of the Special Committee against Apartheid, welcomed the envisioned measures as part of "the ongoing process of bringing about fundamental change in South Africa".

The committee favoured substantive policies regarding access to land by the black majority and programmes of affirmative action to redress the socio-economic inequities in education, housing, health and employment.

He noted that the right of all South Africans to vote and be voted for was still to be realized. Appropriate ppessure should be maintained on South Africa during the negotiation process towards preparation and adoption of a new constitution, he concluded.

Mr. Gambari was re-elected as Special Committee Chairman for 1991 at its first meeting of the year on 31 January. Also re-elected were Jai Pratap Rana of Nepal, Guennadi I. Oudovenko of the Ukrainian SSR and Marjorie R. Thorpe of Trinidad and Tobago as Vice-Chairmen, and Virendra Gupta of India as Rapporteur.

International Day for Elimination

of Racial Discrimination observed

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was observed at a solemn meeting of the Special Committee against Apartheid on 21 March at Headquarters. Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar said that, through negotiations, apartheid should be replaced with a system based on equality, democracy and the rule of law. All parties had a responsibility to do their utmost to end the "profoundly disturbing" violence raging in South Africa.

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