TRC: Settlement clears the way for completion of the final chapter

Refocus 2: TRC: settlement between the TRC and the IFP clears the way for completion of the final chapter.

The end of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) long and controversial search for "the truth" is in sight, following an out of court settlement of the acrimonious dispute between the TRC and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). The settlement opens the way for publication of a two-volume "codicil" to complete the findings contained in the TRC's original five-volume report, submitted to Nelson Mandela in October 1998.

In terms of the settlement the TRC has agreed to make "minor" corrections to its 1998 findings on the IFP and to include an appendix detailing the IFP's interpretation of the violence that engulfed most of South Africa during the later years of the period under review (1960 to 1994). The IFP, however, insists that the changes are "substantial" rather than minor.

At the heart of the dispute are the TRC's original conclusions that the IFP was responsible for most killings during the struggle for hegemony with the African National Congress (ANC) and that its leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, cannot escape responsibility for the gross human rights violations committed by the IFP. Another hotly contested finding is the TRC calculation that the IFP was responsible for 3,5 killings for every one that the ANC committed.

In its rebutting appendix the IFP contends that the findings are based on "evidence supplied by self-confessed criminals" seeking amnesty for their crimes. It observes, too, that the inquisitorial methodology adopted by the TRC led many deponents to "state what they expected the TRC to hear". It argues further that the ANC diverted a substantial proportion of the military and financial resources made available to it in Europe and America "to gain control of the political masses within South Africa", instead of directing them exclusively against the apartheid government.