Despite political and technical objections to the Working Draft, the CA approved it in November 1995. On 22 November, over 5 million copies of the Working Draft in all 11 official languages were printed and distributed throughout the whole country. 

  • 2.8 million were inserted into newspapers from November 1995 through to January 1996; 
  • 1.8 million were distributed directly to the public in a knock and drop operation throughout the country; 
  • 100,500 were distributed via the provincial offices of the Constitutional Education Programme; 
  • 94,700 were distributed in taxi-net kiosks in major centres; 
  • 70,000 were distributed from Constitutional Assembly offices in Cape Town by direct mail and pick-ups.

A special edition of Constitutional Talk was devoted to the draft. The Working Draft once again allowed people to become actively involved in the constitution-making process. A second round of written submissions began pouring in. Yet again, this was a resounding success. 

From November 1995 to 20 February 1996, the Working Draft Constitution attracted about 250 000 petitions and 1 438 focused submissions. These were more easily summarised and directly linked to specific articles in the Constitution, compared with the first phase of submissions. 

While the public was perusing the draft, Ramaphosa attempted to use the document to woo Mangosuthu Buthelezi back into the Constitutional Assembly:

I will be seeking to meet Chief Buthelezi to once again invite the IFP to come back to the constitution-making process. I want to point out to him that it is in the interests of South Africa … When they read this constitution, I am sure that they will see that this is the type of constitution that is good for the country.


then Chair of the Constitutional Assembly

Buthelezi and Ramaphosa never met and the IFP remained outside the process. But negotiations between the other political parties on the shape of the final text picked up pace after the production of the Working Draft. This edition provided parties with the first comprehensive list of outstanding issues to be resolved. The various further editions of the Working Draft formed the basis of discussions in The Bird sub-committee.

Cyril Ramaphosa and Leon Wessels proudly displaying the draft copy of the constitution. Subash Jeram / Constitutional Assembly
Copy of the first draft in Zulu and further refined Working Draft of the constitution. Subash Jeram / Constitutional Assembly


Audio Visual

President Mandela gives his State of the Nation address in Parliament. Mandela ends his address with the words, “Let us all get down to work”.

“We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political and the human rights of all our citizens.”– President Mandela, extract from State of the Nation Address, 24 May 1994

President Nelson Mandela announces his cabinet. It includes members of the African National Congress, National Party and Inkatha Freedom Party.

“There was pride in serving in the first democratic government in South Africa, and then the additional pride of serving under the iconic leadership of Nelson Mandela … [He] represented the hopes of not just our country, but of oppressed, marginalised and the poor in the world.”– Jay Naidoo, then Minister of RDP housing
“We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered. We speak as fellow citizens to heal the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based on justice for all.”– President Nelson Mandela, 10 May 1994