SOUTH Africa's ruling National Party is set to build a nonracial
alliance around a constitutional plan that is strikingly similar to
the United States Constitution.
"We have come to accept that the rule of law is the ultimate
authority of the state," Constitutional Development Minister Gerrit
Viljoen told the Transvaal Congress of the National Party here over
"We will follow the example of federal constitutions like the
United States, in which the Supreme Court has the ultimate say," Mr.
Viljoen said. "This sovereignty of the court is going to be a vital
element in our checks and balances."
Transvaal's party was the last of the four provincial parties to
endorse President Frederik de Klerk's suggestion that membership be
opened to all races.
"Our party now stands on the moral high ground," he told about
1,500 delegates. "We can defend morally and ethically everything for
which we stand."
Party officials said it was not intended to launch a recruitment
drive among blacks, but rather to seek political alliances with
"There is a difference between a massive recruitment drive and
opening the doors," said Foreign Minister Roelof (Pik) Botha. "We
are not seeking to become the sole party."
Viljoen repeated his belief that an election coalition - in which
the National Party formed an alliance with other parties, could
allow it to emerge as the majority grouping to challenge the African
National Congress (ANC).
Party officials say the possibility of an alliance with the ANC
remained, but would depend largely on whether it was prepared to
break with the South African Communist Party.
"Viljoen is already looking for the middle-ground votes which the
National Party and the ANC will have to compete for in the founding
election under the new constitution," says Mervyn Frost, a political
science professor at Natal University.
Viljoen's remarks signal a government reassessment of the ANC as
the key to forming a stable political center, says Frederik Van Zyl
Slabbert, an independent political analyst. "I sense a growing
disillusionment on the part of government over whether the ANC can
deliver its side of the deal," he says. Recruitment statistics show
the ANC has been slow in signing-up members and is having problems
making the transition from a liberation movement to a political
party. Senior government officials have outlined a constitutional
framework that breaks with race.
Viljoen told the party's Cape Congress two weeks ago that 12
principles should be entrenched in the constitution. These included
a Bill of Rights, a free-market system, private ownership,
protection against excessive taxation, management and
professionalism of the security forces, the frequency of
parliamentary elections, and the right of linguistic, cultural, and
religious minorities to have their own schools.
Significantly, the party appears to have dropped its earlier
demand for specific guarantees for the white minority - even on a
temporary basis as was the case in neighboring Zimbabwe. …