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Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 03:56:29 -0200
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Subject: Mayibuye - October 1995

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Constitutional wrangle in KwaZulu/Natal

Mayibuye, Vol. 6, no. 6
October 1995

The KwaZulu/Natal legislature is embroiled in a bitter dispute over the IFP's constitutional proposals, writes a correspondent.

While the writing of the country's constitution is continuing smoothly, the process of writing the KwaZulu/Natal constitution is in disarray. In its headlong rush to formulate a secessionist constitution for KwaZulu/Natal, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has abandoned any pretence at democratic behaviour or reconciliation. Despite progress in negotiations in the province's constitutional committee around constitutional principles, the IFP earlier this month insisted on voting in the legislature on its original, hardline principles. It refused even to postpone the vote until all opposition MPLs could be present.

The vote went ahead, despite a walkout by all the other parties in the legislature in protest at the IFP's heavy-handedness. In trying to bulldoze its constitution through the legislature, the IFP has been accused of demonstrating extreme hypocrisy. It suspended its participation in the Constitutional Assembly (CA), which is drawing up the national constitution, because it wanted an effective veto over the final constitution. This they did despite every effort by the CA to reach consensus in the forum on as many issues as possible.

Yet when it comes to the provincial constitution, they refuse to acknowledge the views of parties which have substantially more representation at a provincial level than they have at a national level.

There is no desire on the part of the IFP to ensure that there is broad public consultation on the provincial constitution; that its provisions are thoroughly considered by specialised theme committees; or that the constitution which is finally adopted is accepted by the overwhelming majority of people in the province.

Provincial legislatures are empowered by the interim constitution to pass a constitution for its province by a majority of at least two-thirds. The Constitutional Court would need to certify that the constitution which was passed was not inconsistent with the national constitution and the constitutional principles. The provincial constitution may, however, provide for provincial legislative and executives structures different from those in the national constitution. It can also make provisions for the role, status and institutions of a traditional monarch.

The vote in the legislature follows a decision by the IFP's national council to reverse agreements reached in the province's constitutional committee and to replace their nominee for chairperson of the committee - for the second time since the process began. ANC MPL Dumisani Makhaye says that the outcome of the IFP national council confirms that the IFP has lost direction and is at war with itself.

By showing so little regard for the role of the committee, "the IFP is showing contempt for the other parties participating in drafting a constitution for the province," says ANC provincial spokesperson on constitutional affairs John Jeffrey. It shows the depth of crisis the IFP is in, he says.

The IFP has threatened to call fresh elections in the province if its version of the constitution is not passed by the legislature, since it needs the support of all other parties in the legislature to pass its constitution without the support of the ANC. IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi last week instructed the director general of Home Affairs to provide assistance to KwaZulu/Natal premier Frank Mdlalose in drafting provincial legislation which would empower Mdlalose to call new provincial elections. Buthelezi said he wanted the legislation ready by this sitting of the legislature.

While the IFP deny that their constitutional proposals are secessionist, their proposals include provisions for a provincial constitutional court and a provincial militia.

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