Former president Kgalema Motlanthe. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - Former president Kgalema Motlanthe on Wednesday admitted there were compromises made during the country’s transition to democracy, and that the country deviated from the direction mapped out in the 1990s.

Addressing a dialogue with former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos hosted by his foundation at the Market Theatre in Joburg, Motlanthe said the country had moved away from the direction set out by leaders at the time.

He said with the benefit of hindsight it would be important to assess the kind of omissions made, or which compromises were too much.

Motlanthe pointed out that the first mistake made was not to establish a Chapter 9 institution charged with the responsibility to write the country’s history.

”These days history is written eclectically,” Motlanthe said, adding that the wholesale incineration of apartheid records had created a huge gap in South African history.

Motlanthe further said the politics of identity had now regained currency.

“The second mistake was that the former homeland leaders wanted a future South Africa to be a federal state to preserve their fiefdoms,” said the former ANC deputy president, noting that it was around this time that the Ingonyama Trust was created.

He highlighted that the creation of nine provinces may have been another error of the transition period.

According to Motlanthe, the boundaries of the nine provinces mirror those of the former homelands.

”This makes our transition complicated. Today, we are back to 1993; it’s as though 1994 never happened,” he said. Motlanthe also believed that the country had gone back to square one, as prominence was now given to tribal identity.

Motlanthe was critical of the process to amend Section 25 of the Constitution currently under way in Parliament, to provide for expropriation of land without compensation.

He added that such a law had never been passed, yet proponents of land expropriation without compensation found fault in Section 25.

Lagos said the six years as president of the South American country had shown him that it was easier to fight than to satisfy the emerging middle class. He warned that countries like South Africa and Chile could not survive with the degrees of inequality that currently existed.

Political Bureau