Roelof Petrus "Roelf" Meyer (born 16 July 1947) is a South African
politician and businessman. Originally a member of the National Party,
he is known for his prominent role in the negotiations to end the
apartheid system in South Africa. He later co-founded the United
1 Early life and education
2 Entering politics
3 Towards a new South Africa
4 United Democratic Movement
5 After politics
7 External links
8 See also
Early life and education
Meyer, the son of a farmer, attended school in
Ficksburg and studied
Law at the University of the Free State, where he completed B Comm
(1968) and LLB (1971) degrees. At university, he was president of the
conservative "Afrikaanse Studentebond". During his compulsory military
service, he was a member of the
SADF choir also known as the
"Kanaries". Meyer then practised as a lawyer in
Johannesburg until 1980.
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In 1979, he entered politics as he was elected as a Member of
Parliament for the National Party in the
constituency. In 1986, he became Deputy Minister of Law and Order and
in 1988, of Constitutional Development (until 1991). With the
declaration of the first State of Emergency in 1985, the National
Joint Management Centre (NJMC), chaired by the Deputy Minister of Law
and Order, took over as the nerve centre for co-ordination of all
welfare and security policies.
In 1991, State President
F. W. De Klerk
F. W. De Klerk appointed him Minister of
Defence as successor to Magnus Malan. Allegedly, the "verligte Nat"
("liberal" or "enlightened" NP politician) couldn't win the respect of
the generals in this position. In May 1992, after nine months in
office, he resigned and became Minister of Constitutional Affairs and
Communication as successor to Gerrit Viljoen. It was in this position
that he entered the negotiating process. He also became the chairman
of the Beleidsgroep vir Hervorming (Policy Group for Reform).
Towards a new South Africa
Meyer became famous in his position as the government’s chief
negotiator in the
Multiparty Negotiating Forum
Multiparty Negotiating Forum 1993 after the failure
CODESA where he established an amicable and effective relationship
with the ANC’s chief negotiator, Cyril Ramaphosa. In this role,
he worked closely with Niel Barnard, who was head of the National
Intelligence Service and a strong supporter of a negotiated
settlement. After the conclusion of the negotiations in November
1993, he became the government's chief representative in the
Transitional Executive Council (TEC). Meyer and Ramaphosa received the
South African Breweries Leadership and Service Award in 2004.
After the multi-racial elections in April 1994, Meyer became Minister
of Constitutional Development and Provincial Affairs in the government
of national unity of the new President, Nelson Mandela. His elder
brother Anthon "Tobie" Meyer was Deputy Minister for Agriculture and
Land Affairs in this government. He worked once more with Cyril
Ramaphosa, who was chairperson of the Constitutional
Meyer resigned from the cabinet in 1996 and became Secretary-General
of the National Party. After the new constitution was negotiated and
ratified, the National Party withdrew from the government. He then
tried to bring about a reorientation of his party but failed due the
resistance of the conservative wing around Hernus Kriel. Meyer
eventually resigned from the National Party, and consequently his seat
in Parliament, in 1997.
United Democratic Movement
After he left the National Party, he became, with former Transkeian
leader Bantu Holomisa, the co-founder of the United Democratic
Movement (UDM). In the elections of 1999 the UDM received fourteen
seats in Parliament and Meyer served as the Deputy President of the
party until his retirement from politics in 2000. In 2006 he announced
that he would join the ANC.
In 2000 Meyer also involved himself in corporate business. He became a
Director and later Deputy Executive Chairman of Tilca Infrastructure
Corporation (Pty) Ltd. and is currently a director of Armscor. He held
a number of international positions, including a membership of the
Strategy Committee of the Project on Justice in Times of Transition at
Tufts University in the USA. He also became the Chairman of the Civil
Society Initiative (CSI) of South Africa. Meyer also uses his
experience to act as a consultant on international peace processes and
negotiations, for example in Northern Ireland,
Meyer was awarded the "Order of the Baobab in Silver" by the Republic
South Africa for "his immense contribution in providing special
support in the birth of the new democratic
South Africa through
From 2012 to 2014 he chaired the Defence Review Committee.
In 2013 Meyer co-founded the non-profit pro-democracy organisation In
Transformation Initiative. The organisation has been involved in the
South African land issue as well as facilitating the
development of a constitution for Sri Lanka.
^ Leander (2017-05-08). "The Convention for a Democratic South Africa
CODESA 2". South African History Online. Retrieved
^ tinashe (2012-01-16). "Chapter 9 - Negotiating the transition".
South African History Online. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
^ Turton, Anthony Richard (2010). Shaking Hands with Billy: The
Private Memoirs of Anthony Richard Turton. Just Done Productions
Publishing. ISBN 978-1-920315-58-0.
^ "Roelf Petrus Meyer (1947 - ) The Presidency".
www.thepresidency.gov.za. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
^ Blair, David (1 September 2006). "Strong opposition is a matter of
urgency – Telegraph Blogs". News - Telegraph Blogs. Retrieved
^ Microsoft Word - CV Meyer.doc
^ "Roelof Petrus (Roelf) Meyer South African History Online".
Sahistory.org.za. 1947-07-16. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
^ "Roelf Petrus Meyer (1947–)". The Presidency. Retrieved
^ "defence review structure". Sadefencereview2012.org. Retrieved
^ "Govt sits on 4 000 farms, yet hints at expropriation". Fin24.
^ "Transformation needs commercial assistance".
www.farmersweekly.co.za. Retrieved 2017-11-10.
^ "Who is really behind the New Constitution-making process in Sri
Lanka?". Retrieved 2017-11-10.
About his life and career
Negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa
History of South Africa
Minister of Defence (South Africa)
Defence ministers of South Africa
Smuts (as Prime Minister)
Apartheid era (1948–94)
Nelson Mandela (1994–1999)
F.W. de Klerk
Mohammed Valli Moosa
Kraai van Niekerk
Dawid de Villiers