South Africa Struggle for a New Order Term Paper

  • Length: 4 pages
  • Subject: Literature - African
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #83724394

Excerpt from Term Paper :

South Africa -- Past and Present

Rather than a mere struggle between black and white Marina Ottaway suggests that the conflicts in South Africa that hampered the nation's transition from apartheid to a fuller participatory government lay in the factionalism present in all of the representative bodies involved in the negotiations. (Ottaway, 1993) Although Ottaway's text ends before the configuration of the final ruling government body that governs South Africa, many of the problems she chronicles still persist within the nation to this day, as the state has been transformed from an authoritarian, white-minority rule state into a democratic and pluralistic entity. The state is commonly called 'black' run, but truly it has tried to embrace a pluralistic and multi-racial ideal, albeit with some difficulties, such as the need for proportional representation of the tribes as well as introducing purely democratic elements.

First of all, Ottaway upon the question of how to construct a new constitution that was more representative of all peoples, in a nation where segregation had been legally encoded into the constitution since after the end of World War II. The author stresses that F.W. de Klerk found it difficult to pacify conservative whites that their rights would not be subsumed in the new South Africa.

However, it was not simply the ruling South African government at the time that found it difficult to please all of its constituent members when compromising with the opposition leaders. The factionalism of the African National Congress also played a role. Many members resented what they perceived the appointed leaders' non-democratic style.

Despite Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela's argument for the unity of the African National Congress as an organization and its character as an inclusive 'church' of African identity and struggle against oppression and apartheid, Maria Ottaway respectfully disagrees with such a characterization and suggests that tribal conflicts were equally important as racial conflicts for the failure of a truly peaceful political statement, as often-violent tension exists within the nation's political fabric between political and territorial groups to this day. These problems were exacerbated by the fact that the Black members of the ANC had not formulated a clear 'take over' plan from Black to White rule, despite the assumption that the Black nationalism embraced by Mandela was shared by all.

Instead, Ottaway suggests it is important to appreciate the three distinct components or factions of the ANC that existed during the 1993 negotiations. All represented distinct understandings of what South Africa was to become. One of these factions was the so-called Island faction, represented by Mandela, ANC members whose prison experiences provided the defining character of their political lives. The others were made up of individuals who led the organization on the outside in South Africa, specifically African nationalists who were interested in African identity as a political ideology, tinged with more orthodox Marxism that placed an emphases on class struggle and rallying the working class. This Marxism caused white South Africans to fear the economic turmoil that would be wrought upon their nation, in the advent of the ANC's ascension to power.

The last faction was the exiled ANC that consisted of an informal government called the National Executive Committee that functioned a military wing in the along a bureaucracy manning the various departments. (Ottaway, 1993, pp.46-45) Ottaway suggests that these group's different experiences as well as ideologies informed divergent conceptions of democracy within the ANC thus exacerbated white fears of turmoil and counter-oppression, once the ANC came to power. The different components represented distinct practices and expectations of what it means to be an ANC member and what different people hoped to derive from their membership in the organization and of the end to apartheid. (Ottaway, 1993,Ch 3)

Ottaway's factionalist analysis is helpful in understanding how crucial it was for the new government to instate the reform of local government. This local government was often based in extreme racial separation, and governed by regional splinter organizations that were more pro-apartheid than the government itself. Her analysis is also helpful in understanding the often-dizzying array of intense tribal conflicts that have characterized the history of South Africa.

Another problem faced in the transition was a practical one. Different factions of the ANC had different bureaucratic visions. To carry out the extensive welfare, military, educational, political, and other tasks required by the government in exile, an…

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