South Africa: The Solution (1986…)
The book, South Africa: The Solution, and the speeches that the authors Leon Louw and Frances Kendall gave on its main thrust of a peaceful transition to democracy under a constitution protecting the rights of all citizens, influenced and encouraged the parties concerned to enter into the negotiation process that ended apartheid. It convinced them that a peaceful solution was possible, and provided direction as to the crucial elements on which agreement was necessary.
See The Solution here
The apartheid system in South Africa was ended through a series of negotiations between 1990 and 1993 and through unilateral steps by the De Klerk government. The negotiations took place between the governing National Party, the African National Congress, and a wide variety of other political organisations, against a backdrop of political violence and allegations of a state-sponsored third force destabilising the country. The negotiations resulted in South Africa’s first multi-racial election, which was won by the African National Congress.
The FMF made numerous submissions at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) and the negotiating parties took note. They did not accept all its proposals but included enough of them to substantially influence the final constitution and the checks and balances that protect South Africa’s citizens today. For their role in the transition to democracy, Leon and Frances were twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Solution spawned two organisations: Groundswell, which promoted a democratic alternative from the bottom up; and the Federal Party, headed by Frances Kendall, which fought the 1994 general election on the platform outlined in South Africa: The Solution and two subsequent books: Let the People Govern and The Heart of the Nation: Regional and Community Government in the New South Africa.
South Africa: The Solution was a best seller, and was updated and re-printed on several occasions. Three noted South Africans, Dr Sam Motsuenyane, Winnie Mandela and Clem Sunter, wrote forewords, and several others from across the political spectrum endorsed the book.
See forewords and endorsements below…
Foreword – Dr Sam Motsuenyane
At a time when SA is embroiled in a frantic search for an effective panacea to what the world has come to regard as one of the most vicious and morally indefensible political systems now in experience, the policy of apartheid, it is quite refreshing, hope-inspiring and stimulating to stumble across two young South Africans who, as husband and wife, could come forward to offer the country a solution.
It is indeed an extremely rare occurrence to find a husband and wife who are so happily married and so intellectually intimate as to attempts to write a book together. The fact that Leon and Frances have finally succeeded in completing their manuscript is a tremendous testimony of their dedication to the course of searching for a way towards a new South Arica of the future.
Reaching through the 20 chapters of their book, South Africa: The Solution, was for me an absolute delight, not only because I agree with most of the positive ideas they have so clearly enunciated but more because they have unearthed a great amount of forgotten information about blacks and whites in our country that have for many years remained hidden in the pages of our history.
Despite the racial conflicts which have torn our country apart these days, it is heartening to get a positive picture about the past when the spirit of entrepreneurship, both amongst the black and the white people, persisted in a climate of greater freedom that made our country the great economic power it became on the southern tip of the African continent.
What is most important and encouraging in “The Solution” is how the couple speculates and dreams about the realization of a united and prosperous South African nation of the future. They foresee that South Africa can achieve freedom for all its people in a federal system and under a constitution which contains a Bill of Rights securing the rights of all individuals.
The great problem which lies ahead of our country is surely not a lack of ideas and visions among the people of South Africa. Our most crucial of ideas will remain the implementation of such bright ideas and vision. As for dreamers, we have galore, but it is the implementers who are few.
My fervent wish is that “The Solution” be read with interest, digested with enthusiasm and implemented with courage.
To Leon and Frances go my sincere congratulations. And I firmly hope that they shall make another effort at formulating a new strategy for determining how their “solution” can be put into effect in the corridors of power inside our troubled country.
SAMUAL MOKGETHI MOTSUENYANE
President, National African Federated Chambers of Commerce (NAFCOC)
Foreword – Winnie Mandela
Frances Kendall’s and Leon Louw’s book South Africa: THE SOLUTION is an extraordinary and long overdue challenge to South Africa to come to terms with the tragic apartheid blunder of a century.
They offer South Africa what she needs most – a broad alternative we have been looking for – and have provided striking evidence to confirm that all is not lost in the political quagmire of racial polarisation and hatred.
In the ensuing impasse, Frances and Leon’s vision is an excellent historical alternative all freedom lovers embrace – a viewpoint which has for the first time stimulated debate and new lines of inquiry from the ‘Afrikaner Volk’, the clan which is normally resistant to new ideas.
Here lies hope for a shattered nation.
Here lie some of the efforts of the African National Congress.
Here lies the drug to coagulate the blood of the bleeding nation, from a voice white South Africa will listen to without fear.
Foreword – Clem Sunter
This marvellous book has been on the shelves of bookshops for three years now. The beat goes on: sales continue to grow. I have read the book twice, in its South African and American formats. It was just as refreshing the second time around. Its most beguiling feature is its optimism in human nature.
Left to their own devices, people produce a more prosperous society than if ordered into little boxes by intellectuals and academics. "Power to the people" should mean what it says: each individual has maximum power over the conduct of his own affairs. Swiss society enshrines this principle with its emphasis on devolving as much power as possible to local communities, and with its use of referenda as a means of direct democracy.
I was talking to a luncheon club of Swiss businessmen just outside Johannesburg last year. Before the presentation, I asked the members of my table, “Who is the most famous Swiss person alive today?” It took them ten minutes to come up with an answer, and then it was a Swiss skier! No politicians, no famous world statesman - in fact, there were people around the table who did not even know who the current head of government was. When I expressed my surprise that citizens of such an illustrious nation should take so long to think of someone famous, one man replied: “In Switzerland, we have leadership, not leaders. The ordinary man in the street is the champion.”
So there it is. Success does not need messiahs. It requires a system of government that brings out the best in people and that means minimal interference in their lives.
I hope South Africa: The Solution goes on selling and selling. Even if critics disagree with the nitty-gritty details of the constitutional model proposed, they will surely be persuaded of the validity of the liberal principles that underlie it.
6th April 1989
Amid a sea of anger and tension, The Solution may prove to be a rational, workable answer to South Africa’s unique problems. Chief Buthelezi
The Solution is level-headed, practical and concise. It attains as closely as possible to the view that the best government is the least government. Dirk Hertzog
I have found the contents most interesting and absorbing. A book worthwhile reading for those dealing with the future of our country. Minister Eli Louw
The Solution is an extraordinary and long overdue challenge to South Africa to come to terms with its tragic apartheid blunder of a century. It offers South Africa what she needs most - a broad alternative we have been looking for. Winnie Mandela
Every South African should study The Solution and our politicians should apply these very realistic proposals – the only long term solution for South Africa. Jan S Marais
I welcome this brilliantly analytical work on the possible solution to the political impasse in our land. We congratulate the authors in forcing South Africans to face up honestly to this major problem in their lives. Ntatho Motlana
My fervent wish is that The Solution be read with interest, digested with enthusiasm, and implemented with courage. Sam Motsuenyane
As a firm believer in the advantages of a federal constitution…I am pleased that people are taking this book seriously. Alan Paton
A solution that is bold but simple. It tells the man in the street that constitutional change is not an Everest to be tackled with masks and oxygen, but a Table Mountain that he himself can climb in his takkies. Bill Sutton
An interesting perspective on the way out of the South African dilemma. While one may not agree with the overall conclusions, they are certainly worth serious consideration by students of South Africa. Helen Suzman
The Solution raises some provocative and stimulating issues that lie at the core of South Africa’s conflict. Frederick van Zyl Slabbert
From the point of view of the Afrikaner as a nation, The Solution as it stands is unacceptable because it does not provide for nations – only for groups. However, it provides an important contribution in breaking away from the dangerous centralized state philosophy, into a direction which will open eyes to other possibilities. Hendrik F Verwoerd Jr
This book explains in simple, plain language that an achievable, immediate and full blooded democratic future is possible for all of us. Marinus Wiechers