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Roelf Petrus Meyer (1947 - )

The Order of the Baobab in

Roelf Petrus Meyer (1947 - ) Awarded for:
His immense contribution in providing special support in the birth of the new democratic South Africa through negotiations and ensuring that South Africa has a Constitution that protects all its citizens.

Profile of Roelf Petrus Meyer

Roelof Petrus (Roelf) Meyer was born in Port Elizabeth in 1947.

A prominent politician, he has extensive experience in government, having served in both the pre- and post-democratic governments. A qualified lawyer, he became known among many South Africans as the chief representative of the National Party (NP) government in the multiparty negotiations in 1993. When a deal emerged between the parties after intensive negotiations, Meyer was commended widely for his role in the final chapter ending the apartheid era.

The African National Congress chief negotiator in the talks, Cyril Ramaphosa, describes him as a true citizen committed to a non-racial South Africa. He and Ramaphosa were recipients of the South African Breweries Leadership and Service Award in 2004 for their leadership in breaking deadlocked negotiations.

He is seen, locally and internationally, as an unselfish leader, dedicated to using his experience and expertise for the reconstruction and development of the country. He served in the first democratic government in 1994 under former President Nelson Mandela, further consolidating the respect he earned from many people.

When he resigned from Cabinet in 1996, he was not entirely lost to politics as he became secretary general of the NP, thus contributing to the country’s political landscape in a different capacity. The following year, he resigned from this position and as Member of Parliament.

Meyer is the co-founder of the United Democratic Movement and was its deputy president until his resignation from active politics in 2000.

A devoted agent of peace, he used his renowned negotiating skills to venture into business as a consultant on peace processes. In this regard, he participated in such processes in countries including Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Burundi, Kosovo and Bolivia. He was also involved in similar efforts in the Basque region and the Middle East.

As he undertook these tasks, he flew South Africa’s flag high as a country committed to peace and stability. His service to the international community displays the trust in his capability as a peace negotiator.

Meyer could have chosen a profitable career as a lawyer but instead put himself in a position of serving the nation with his negotiation skills. He is currently involved in the Civil Society Initiative and serves on the Strategy Committee of the Project on Justice in Times of Transition in New York.