NP legal action against Pretoria councillors statement issued by NMP Media Manager (22 August 1997)

The following observations can be made regarding court procedures started by the National Party against the 8 Pretoria councillors who have joined the New Movement Process:

It is contravening the policy of the NP, namely that provision must be made in the Constitution allowing elected representatives to exercise their own free will regarding party loyalties. Mr De Klerk himself has, on a number of occasions, requested that the anti defection clause be scrapped.

  • It creates a climate of non-participation with the NP court cases alienate people.

  • It contravenes the promotion of multi-party democracy and the promises by the NP itself that it will work together to create a realignment of the political scene.

  • It leaves the impression that the NP is only concerned about its own interests and only wants to restructure politics on its own terms.

  • It is clear that something drastically needs to be done to restructure the political scene. Dissatisfaction with the ANC nonwithstanding, no opposition party has been able to achieve any gains from the situation. Results of the latest survey conducted by the HSRC, confirm this: ANC support has dropped to 53%, but the opposition has even fared worse, with a grand total of only 21%.

The only solution is therefore to strengthen multi-party democracy by creating a new political formation. This is exactly what the NMP is busy doing. It is incidentally also the decision the 10 Pretoria councillors have reached, in line with the broad interest of South Africa. The moment this happened, the NP again lapsed into its style of practising politics through litigation.

What is also significant, is the apparent division in the NP’s own ranks. At the end of July, subsequent to final decisions on the Executive Council posts in the Pretoria council, Mr Sam de Beer and myself were discussing the NMP proposal, namely that the NP should retain chairmanship of the Exec Council. It then came to light, though, that the NP has already reached an agreement with the ANC, in terms of which the NP will lose the chairmanship.

The question is: Who managed these negotiations? Whilst discussions were again initiated between Mr De Beer and myself during the past couple of days, the process of issuing the court orders was continued. Again it leaves the impression that there is division in NP ranks.

The NMP has all the time been of the opinion that we must look at the future regarding restructuring of politics and contributing to multi-party democracy. It is therefore counter-productive to launch any action to the detriment of opposition parties and to the benefit of the ANC. This was also the view of the NMP councillors, and I reject emphatically the allegation that their actions have benefited the ANC.

If the NP wants to test voter opinion under present circumstances, an ideal opportunity presents itself with the coming election for Students’ Representative Council at the University of Pretoria. The election is held on party political base. During 1996, the NP participated and did the best from all political parties. This year, the NP has failed to even nominate any candidates, evidently because of lack of interest.

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