Canada and the New South Africa
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 3 Mar 1994, p. 346-359
Kilian, His Excellency Andre, Speaker
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The new South Africa and how Canada should deal with it. South Africa's Constitution and multi-party democracy. South Africa's nine provinces will not be based on any racial criteria. Further detailed description of South Africa's new government and their policies. Who has invested in South Africa recently and why Canada should.
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3 Mar 1994
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His Excellency Andre Kilian, Ambassador of South Africa
Chairman: Dr. Frederic L. R. Jackman President, The Empire Club of Canada

Head Table Guests

Duncan Jackman, Investment Officer, Personal Trust and Investment Management Services, National Trust and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada; The Rev. Charles Plaskett, Minister Emeritus, Timothy Eaton Memorial Church; Carlos Garin, Senior Vice-President, Bank of Montreal; Lucille Sive, President, Lion World Travel; Ernst Becker, Managing Director, Konbek Trade Inc.; David Brewis, Deputy Consul General, Toronto and South African Consulate General; Bruce Sinclair, Mayor, City of Etobicoke and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada; Donald J. Worth, Vice-President, Mining Specialist Group, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce; Diana Chant, Partner, Price Waterhouse and Treasurer, The Empire Club of Canada; Hans Peter Igel, President, Peter Igel Food Products Inc.

Introduction by Dr. Jackman

In those word-association parlour games that fill many a windy, winter, weekend afternoon, certain word combinations are inevitable.

Similarly, there are countries whose names instantly trigger word associations in our minds, and South Africa is surely one of those. "Black and white," "Afrikaner and apartheid," "Johannesburg and Soweto," "Mandela and de Klerk," and more recently, "democracy and hope."

It is the last two words, "democracy and hope," that have brought us today's speaker, His Excellency, Andre Kilian, Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to Canada.

You may not know, sir, that The Empire Club's purpose is to promote the interests of Canada and the British Commonwealth. And so, with the coming of democracy in next April's South African all-racial election, South Africa has now been invited to rejoin the Commonwealth. You have been gone since 1961. We hope that you do and that you consider your being with us today but just one of many welcoming ceremonies.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ambassador Kilian has been a career diplomat for over 20 years. He spent 11 of those years in the South African Embassy in Washington. He returned to South Africa in 1988 to take up new postings, first as Director for the Americas from 1988 to 1991 and then as Chief Director, Americas, Asia and Oceania in 1991. Mr. Kilian was appointed Ambassador to Canada in 1992.

Since Mr. Kilian presented his credentials, relations between our two countries have changed dramatically. When Mr. Kilian arrived in Canada, a sweeping package of trade sanctions were in place. Two-way trade was less than $300 million in 1992, less than half of its 1985 pre-sanctions level of $650 million.

But last September, Canada along with other Commonwealth countries lifted most economic sanctions in response to South Africa's abolition of apartheid and announcement of democratic elections to be held this April.

Both countries are now actively revitalizing our trade relations. In January of this year, The Honourable Roy McLaren, Canada's Minister of Trade, led a blue-chip mission of Canadian business people to South Africa. He was the first Canadian trade minister to visit South Africa in 30 years.

South Africa still faces many internal challenges in bringing together opposing factions to make democracy work. Today we look forward to hearing from the Ambassador his views on how Canada can support South Africa's goals, as well as where the mutual opportunities for Canada and South Africa lie.

Ladies and gentlemen, would you please welcome His Excellency, Andre Kilian.

Andre Kilian

Mr. Jackman, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you. I am honoured to be here.

While preparing my remarks for today, I glanced over the history of your Club and especially the list of people who appeared on this podium. I must admit, that it is a rather intimidating list. So if my voice is quivering, please know that it is because I am very much aware that the likes of Prime Minister Pearson, Trudeau, Clark, Turner, Mulroney and Campbell as well as Presidents Nixon and Reagan, and Mr. Harold Wilson and Mrs. Margaret Thatcher stood here before.

I also saw the name of General Jan Smuts on the list. I assume that General Smuts addressed your Club in the late forties when he visited Canada, the last South African head of government to do so. It is indeed sad to think that apartheid has kept South African heads of state and of government out of Canada ever since then.

I am, however, not here today to talk about apartheid. Apartheid is, thank God, something of the past although we in South Africa will have to deal with its legacy or as I prefer to call it, its devastation, for many years to come. What I am here to discuss with you is the new South Africa and, as the theme of my remarks indicate, how Canada should deal with the new South Africa.

You are no doubt aware of the political developments that took place in South Africa over the past three years. These developments culminated at the end of 1993 in the adoption of an interim constitution and setting up of a transitional executive authority to govern South Africa until the elections which will take place on April 27 and 28 of this year.

The future Republic of South Africa will be a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist state with the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, guarded over by an independent and impartial judiciary. The democracy will be multi-party in nature with elections to be held regularly.

The Constitution for the transitional period, endorsed by the plenary of the multi-party negotiating process on November 17 and 18, 1993 at the World Trade Centre in Kempton Park, and adopted by Parliament during its November 1993 session, provides for a three-tier government of national unity, and a chapter on fundamental rights. A schedule in the new Constitution sets out binding and justiciable constitutional principles to which a final constitution must adhere.

The Constitution further provides for the repeal of the legislation which recognizes the independence of Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda, and Ciskei (those so-called black homelands which opted for independence during the days of separate development or grand apartheid as it was known here), as well as the legislation proclaiming self-government for those homelands which had refused independence, such as Kwazulu.

In its place, South Africa will be demarcated into nine provinces not based on any racial criteria whatsoever. Parliament will consist of a 400-person National Assembly and a 90-person Senate. The National Assembly will be made up of 200 persons from the national lists and 200 persons from the regional lists of the various political parties, elected on the basis of proportional representation. The Senate will be made up of 10 persons elected by each of the nine provincial legislatures.

The Head of State will be an executive president and he or she will be elected by the National Assembly at its first sitting. It is widely expected that the leaders of the strongest party in the assembly will be our next president--in short, Mr. Nelson Mandela of the African National Congress.

Provision is also made for executive deputy presidents to be approved from the ranks of parties that obtain 80 or more seats in the National Assembly.

A multi-party Cabinet will be composed, according to proportional representation, of those parties that obtain five per cent or more of the vote in the election. The various portfolios will be designated by the president and decisions will be taken by consensus and failing that, by simple majority.

Each of the nine provinces will have a provincial legislature, elected by proportional representation from the regional party lists of the various political parties. Legislation in these bodies will be passed by simple majority on issues set out in a schedule of the Constitution. Like in Canada, these will include matters such as local government, agriculture, police, environment, language policy, housing, public transport, health and welfare, education at primary and secondary level, etcetera.

Each province shall be entitled to an equitable share of revenue collected nationally while at the same time, be able to raise local taxes, and set surcharges and other levies.

A Provincial Executive Council consisting of a premier and 10 executive members to administer provincial departments and determine policy, will be appointed by the provincial legislatures.

A Constitutional Court will have final jurisdiction on all matters relating to the interpretation, protection and enforcement of the Constitution at all levels of government. Disputes between the various levels of government will, therefore, be settled by this court.

The Constitutional Court will also certify that any amendment made to the Constitution, as well as the final Constitution, complies with the constitutional principles to which I referred.

In addition, this court will protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals contained in the Constitution. In other words, South Africa will have its own Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Decisions by the Constitutional Court will be final and binding.

The Constitution also provides for an independent and impartial judiciary comprising a Supreme Court with an appellate division and lower courts such as magistrate's courts.

In its concluding charter, the Constitution provides for a final Constitution for South Africa to be drafted by the National Assembly and the Senate, sitting jointly as a constitutional assembly.

The final Constitution, will be adopted by two-thirds of the members of the constitutional assembly within two years after its first session. If the necessary two-thirds majority is not obtained in the Constitutional Assembly, certain deadlock-breaking mechanisms will come into play, culminating in the adoption of the final constitution by a 60 per cent majority of all South Africans in a national referendum.

That ladies and gentleman, is the new constitutional dispensation awaiting South Africa.

I would now like to turn to the matter that gives me cause for some concern. That is the pessimistic view I often hear expressed in Canada to the effect that South Africa is bound to go the way of many other African countries, where, after the transition from colonialism to independence, democracy disappeared and economies degenerated into chaos and bankruptcy.

As an African, let me say at the outset that the continent is not so wretched and hopeless as is widely believed. Indeed many African countries are currently undergoing a renaissance. Changes of this magnitude are admittedly not easy to bring about, especially considering the structural weaknesses brought by past policies and the international constraints of today such as the rules set by organizations like the World Bank, the IMF, the GATT and others.

Notwithstanding this, there are success stories in Africa. One of them, Botswana, a close neighbour of my own country has just been told by the Americans that it would no longer be entitled to foreign aid because of the success of its economy. Another example is Namibia which, despite its size, is similarly doing well.

I was reading just the other day, that the American investment bank, Morgan Stanley, is considering an investment of $70 U.S. million in the stock markets in these two countries as well as in Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Kenya and Ghana. It would seem to me that such a reputable institution would not be considering a substantial investment in these countries without having a good measure of confidence in their future.

Having said that, allow me nonetheless, to try and answer the question as it relates specifically to South Africa.

I will start by borrowing from the wisdom of Professor Eric Leistner, President Fellow at the Africa Institute. In a paper just published Professor Leistner points out, "Most sub-Saharan African countries, rushed into independence with constitutions drawn up in overseas capitals. Conversely, in South Africa, after decades of black resistance to white rule, all politically relevant groups engaged in protracted negotiations for a sustainable new order. While colonialism in most of Africa was too transitionary a process to institutionalize true democratic political structures and norms, blacks in South Africa have for centuries shared a common history with people of European and Eastern origin. This has profoundly affected all aspects of the individual as well as group life of these South Africans, notably so through participation in a modern economy and close interaction in daily life--apartheid notwithstanding."

In similar vein, Allister Sparks, a noted African expert, recently listed 10 reasons for his optimism about South Africa's future. I won't take the time to read them all to you as they appeared in the Washington Post. A few of Mr. Spark's observations are, however, worth repeating on this occasion. Mr. Sparks notes, firstly, that precisely because South Africa is the last African country to go through the liberation process, it has learned from the mistakes of others. Namibia, he points out: "is already showing that many mistakes can be avoided. South Africa is much better equipped than Namibia to succeed. White and black South Africans may still be deeply divided, but they share a common commitment to the country and a common dependence on one another. Whites have learned that they cannot run the country without the consent of the blacks, while blacks know they cannot build a prosperous future without whites. It is this inescapable mutuality of interest that wrecked apartheid and that makes non-racialism the only viable option for both."

One of the main reasons for Mr. Sparks' optimism is the essential pragmatism of the A.N.C. leadership which will ensure moderate and sensible policies. In fact, ladies and gentlemen, it can be stated without fear of contradiction that the A.N.C. is an inclusive broad church containing many viewpoints. This ensures, as we have already witnessed, that within its own structures, all issues are debated extensively and vigorously. To my mind, this makes for a democratic culture which militates against authoritarian tendencies which are apparently feared by the outside world.

Mr. Sparks finally points out that the new interim constitution, while regarded as defective by some liberal puritans, has the singular merit of being a contract born out of a spirit of compromise between the major representatives of all the people of South Africa, and therefore is, a workable charter for a co-operative future.

Having said all this, I'm not for a moment suggesting that it will simply be business as usual in South Africa. One often hears the cynical view that the government of national unity which will run the country after April's elections is really a cunning device designed by Mr. De Klerk to protect white privilege, indeed to entrench it indefinitely.

This is not so. Nobody will convince me that Mr. Mandela and his colleagues simply succumbed in the negotiating process, to the wishes of the National Party, or that they were somehow tricked into accepting arrangements that are not as democratic as they seemed to be. I have far too much respect to pay heed to such a notion.

The nature of the government that South Africa will be getting after the elections, was agreed upon in hard, exhaustive multi-party negotiations. And there is no doubt that the new government will use its power to bring about change in South Africa. But I agree with Mr. Sparks that the new government can be expected to be pragmatic in its programme of change, however profound those changes will be.

Obviously, whites are going to be called upon--again within the limits of pragmatism--to make sacrifices. I sincerely believe the vast majority of white South Africans fully realize this and are quite prepared to give what they must to the new South Africa.

But it's going to take much more than that. It is going to take hard work and dedication by all South Africans to deal with the tasks that lie ahead.

I am confident that we in South Africa can do it, especially if we get assistance from the outside world. I'll come back to this point in a moment. Let me first just say a few words about another concern among Canadians--the violence in my country.

Again, this issue needs to be put in some perspective. Terrible as the violence may be, and it is, it is not as cataclysmic as television images and newspaper accounts may lead one to believe. The violence is confined to a few relatively small regions of the country. And even in those we do not have a Bosnian-type situation. South Africans are not waging pitched battles against one another with tanks and helicopter gunships. In fact, the respected London-based Economic Intelligence Unit recently declared South Africa a much safer country for investment that many other important emerging markets, such as Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, the Philippines and Poland.

It is also necessary to make a distinction between political violence and criminal violence. Although the boundaries between the two are often blurred, numerous studies by independent organizations have shown that political violence, per se, accounts for probably no more than 20 per cent of the total. The rest is attributable to criminal activities which are, unfortunately, prevalent all over the world.

Some political violence, as history taught us, is inevitable in a time of major political change. I am confident, however, that once a legitimate government is in office, with a similarly legitimate security and police force at its disposal, political violence will quickly diminish.

As for criminal violence, it stems largely from the desperation and the hopelessness borne of poverty, of unemployment and of the lack of adequate shelter. It is perpetrated mainly by those who have no real stake in the economy of the country and its fruits.

Again, I believe, that the deployment of peace-keeping forces, seen to be legitimate by the masses of the people, will result in the curbing of most of this type of violence in a relatively short time. But--and this is a big but--we in South Africa will only enjoy lasting peace and stability when the majority of our citizens can share fully in the benefits of living in our richly-endowed country. And that, to come full circle, will require huge socio-economic spending by South Africa, fuelled by assistance from abroad in the form of trade and investment.

So, in conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to now turn to Canada and my hopes for the future relationship between your country and mine. While Canadians are dealing today with a new South Africa, South Africans are dealing with a new Canada, a Canada which no longer maintains sanctions against South Africa. I believe that there is a number of very good reasons why South Africa should remain close to Canada and, without being presumptuous, why Canada should remain close to South Africa.

On the political front, there is no doubt that Canada enjoys extraordinary influence in the international community considering that it has a population of only 26 million. It is the only country that has membership in the group of seven, the Commonwealth as well as the Francophonie. It is an active member of practically every agency of the United Nations and has established a reputation as the world's most active contributor to peace-keeping operations.

This influence placed Canada in a leadership position in the international campaign against apartheid, beginning more than 30 years ago when South Africa was compelled to withdraw from the Commonwealth. The role Canada played in promoting international sanctions against South Africa, particularly in the Commonwealth, is well known. I hope that the same influence will now be at the disposal of South Africa as it once again rejoins the community of nations.

Canada's reputation as a liberal democracy, combined with its position of influence in the international community, places your country in an ideal position to support South Africa's transition to a full and sustainable democracy. Agencies of the Canadian Government, such as the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) have already made important contributions towards the advancement of free-market economic principles. They are also making a significant contribution in respect of our upcoming election through the provision of both personnel and funding. You may be aware that Mr. Ron Gould of Elections Canada was recently elected to serve on the Independent Electoral Commission which will oversee the election in South Africa.

The reputation for good governance which Canada has established both domestically and internationally further makes your country a natural choice as a training venue for new entrants to South Africa's public service. Prospective premiers for South Africa's new provinces have just, or are still receiving, training in Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

In the fields of social welfare and health care, your country has established public programmes which are the envy of the world. The philosophy behind these systems, as I understand it, is a central element to your human-rights agenda, both at home and abroad. This agenda manifested itself in Canada's past relations with South Africa and will hopefully continue to do so in the future.

Canada has made a similar commitment to the protection of the environment and, once again, has established a reputation as a world leader. Environmental resource management and the impact of mining and industrial development on the environment are particular areas where Canada will be able to offer guidance to South Africa. I trust that also in this regard, we South Africans will be able to draw on your experience and your reputation for leadership.

Trade and investment links with South Africa have not been substantial in the past. Prior to sanctions being imposed in 1986, two-way trade between Canada and South Africa amounted to less than $500 million. Six years later, by the end of 1992, this figure had decreased by half to less than $250 million. In the case of both countries, this amounted to less than one per cent of each other's total trade.

The low level of interest in bilateral trade was due in part to the similarity between the resource bases of Canada and South Africa. But, it was mostly due to the negative image of South Africa which developed progressively following South Africa's withdrawal from the Commonwealth in the sixties. The combination of these factors, together with the real as well as psychological impact of Canada's sanctions against South Africa, brought bilateral economic relations to an all-time low by the time sanctions were lifted in September, 1993.

Since sanctions have been lifted, both the federal and provincial governments have moved quickly, not only to remove legislative and administrative impediments to normalised trade and investment but also to actively encourage these relations with South Africa. The Department of International Trade arranged a series of trade and investment seminars across Canada late in 1993, while your Minister of International Trade, led the first official mission to South Africa in more than 30 years during January this year. Mr. Maclaren was accompanied by senior executives of 15 Canadian multi-nationals as well as Ontario's Minister of International Trade.

The first official trade mission from the provinces was led by Quebec's Minister of International Relations and took place February 17-21. Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan are now in the process of arranging trade missions to South Africa this year.

The high level of interest on the part of the federal and provincial governments is stimulating interest within the private sector. Major multi-nationals such as SNC-Lavalin, Bombardier and Cott Corporation have already concluded multi-million-dollar joint venture investment agreements with South African partners. These ventures are backed by principal financial institutions, including government lending agencies, all of whom have re-established relations with South Africa over the past five months.

Against this backdrop it is estimated in official circles here, that two-way trade will jump to $600 million by the end of 1994 and to more than $1 billion by the end of 1995. Direct investment in South Africa, particularly through joint venture agreements, is similarly expected to climb significantly over the next 24 months.

This ladies and gentlemen, is the new Canada I spoke of earlier, a Canada whose involvement with South Africa will not only be politically and morally correct, but indeed, very profitable.

I would like to leave you with a plea. As your government is going through a review of its foreign policy direction, please make your voices heard for a close profitable future relationship between South Africa's new Canada and Canada's new South Africa.

Thank you.

The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Diana Chant, Partner, Price Waterhouse and Treasurer, The Empire Club of Canada.

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Canada and the New South Africa

The new South Africa and how Canada should deal with it. South Africa's Constitution and multi-party democracy. South Africa's nine provinces will not be based on any racial criteria. Further detailed description of South Africa's new government and their policies. Who has invested in South Africa recently and why Canada should.