Chairman, Civil Society Initiative, South Africa
Reducing Divisive Effects of Competition, Balancing the Central and Local, Elections, Constitutions
service delivery, traditional leaders, government transition, constitution drafting, elections
Tue Feb 9 2010
Roelf Meyer discusses his role in the negotiations that transitioned South Africa to post-apartheid governance. He focuses on the process of negotiating the Government of National Unity and drafting the interim and final post-apartheid constitutions. He discusses how all parties involved dealt with existing national and provincial government structures in the transition and the difficulty of dealing with the disparity of wealth and resources between the provinces. Meyer explains how traditional leaders were incorporated peacefully into the new democratic system and touches on the difficulty dealing with so many negotiating parties, each with different goals and interests. He briefly describes holding South Africa’s first post-apartheid elections. Finally, Meyer discusses the mistakes he believes they made in the negotiation process and the problems that South Africa is still facing today.
Rolf Meyer entered South African politics in 1979 as a member of the National Party. In 1986 he was appointed deputy minister of police, and he later served as minister of defense. Meyer became the South African minister of constitutional affairs and of communication in 1992, placing him in a key position for the National Party in the negotiations that facilitated the transition from apartheid in South Africa. Meyer and his ANC counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, are largely credited with successfully putting the negotiations back on track after a series of failures. After the 1994 elections, Meyer was appointed minister of constitutional development and provincial affairs. In 1996, he resigned from that position to become secretary-general of the National Party, a position that he held until 1997, when he joined the United Democratic Movement and served as deputy president of the party until 2000. He retired from politics in 2000 and at the time of the interview he was a businessman, as well as chairman of the Civil Society Initiative of South Africa and director of FeverTree Consulting.