Most South Africans don’t have the faintest idea what happened at Codesa, or is happening at subsequent multiparty negotiations. Plenaries, working groups, subgroups, independent election commissions, transitional executive councils, government of national unity… it’s incomprehensible to almost everyone who hasn’t been involved, and probably quite a few who have.
The Long Journey South Africa’s Quest for a Negotiated Settlement seeks to penetrate the fog. Written by a team of analysts associated with the Johannesburg-based Centre for Policy Studies, it outlines events that led up to constitutional negotiations, recounts the history of Codesa and its aftermath, and, most important, attempts to draw out the implications for our political future.
This work is remarkable because it is both very comprehensive and very clear. It examines the workings of Codesa in great depth; there are detailed accounts of closed proceedings within the four working groups, based on interviews with prominent participants and confidential records of proceedings It graphically recounts events after Codesa’s collapse, and the processes which led the parties back to the negotiating table. In mapping out the most probable political development paths, its clarifies the options open to the parties involved in negotiations and likely to govern South Africa in future. However, all this is presented in refreshingly pity and easily assimilable prose.
The themes identified by The Long Journey will remain vital to the country’s future into the next decade. It is richly illustrated with photographs, which in themselves provide a valuable record of this period.