Former IFP leader Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi addresses the audience at the launch of the Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Oppenheimer Trust. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA).
Former IFP leader Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi addresses the audience at the launch of the Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Oppenheimer Trust. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA).

IRR policy fellow claims Buthelezi was sidelined amid secret deals

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Dec 10, 2019

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A policy fellow at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has claimed that President Cyril Ramaphosa and Roelf Meyer secretly met in 1992 and later came back with agreements that were later rubber stamped by negotiators during the Codesa talks.

The policy fellow, John Kane Berman, said that during the political negotiations in the early ’90s, the ANC found itself defeated on many fronts and to survive, it used to walk out.

Berman made these startling claims in a keynote address during the launch of the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Harry Oppenheimer Trust in Durban on Monday.

He said that at some point in May 1992 the ANC walked out and Ramaphosa and Meyer used that period to meet separately in the Free State and came back with the infamous “record of understanding”. He said some of the agreements known only by the two were later rubber stamped by Codesa.

“When the multi-party Convention for a Democratic SA (Codesa) met at the World Trade Centre, the ANC found itself in a minority on some vital constitutional issues, notably its opposition to federalism.

Its remedy was to walk out of the talks in May 1992 and refuse to return until Meyer and Ramaphosa had reached their infamous ‘record of understanding’ in 1992. This bilateral deal turned the multiparty constitutional conference into a rubber stamp,” Berman claimed.

But Meyer dismissed the claims and said the talks broke down, first at multilateral level in May 1992 and in June at a bilateral level between the NP government and the ANC after the Boipatong massacre. 

“To resume the talks Cyril Ramaphosa and I were mandated by our principals, President Mandela and President De Klerk to find a way forward. This led to the record of understanding signed by the two principals on September 26, 1992.

“Thereafter we negotiated bilaterally with all parties, including the IFP until the multilateral talks resumed by March 1993. Soon thereafter Chris Hani was assassinated on April 10 which led to a new threat to stall the negotiations. No party was ever excluded. We never met in Bloemfontein for talks,” Meyer said.

The ANC and the Presidency did not respond to requests to give their side of the story regarding the claims.

The crux of Berman’s speech was that the ANC and National Party allegedly betrayed Buthelezi by watering down his role for the release of Mandela from prison and insistence on an all inclusive multi-party negotiations.

Political Bureau

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