South Africa History-8

Queues to vote in first democratic election
Queues to vote in first democratic election
© The Star Newspaper

South Africa History - The Death of Apartheid

On February 2 1990, state president FW de Klerk lifted restrictions on 33 opposition groups, including the ANC, the PAC and the Communist Party, at the opening of Parliament. On February 11 Nelson Mandela, who had maintained a tough negotiating stance on the issue, was released after 27 years in prison.

The piecemeal dismantling of restrictive legislation began. Political groups started negotiating the ending of white minority rule, and in early 1992 the white electorate endorsed De Klerk's stance on these negotiations in a referendum.

Violence continued unabated, a massacre at the township of Boipatong causing the ANC to withdraw temporarily from constitutional talks.

South Africa History

In 1993, however, an agreement was reached on a Government of National Unity which would allow a partnership of the old regime and the new.

The optimism generated by the negotiations was shattered by the assassination of Chris Hani, the secretary-general of the Communist Party: only a prompt appeal to the nation by Mandela averted a massive reaction. At the end of the year an interim constitution was agreed to by 21 political parties.

South Africa's first democratic election was held on 26, 27 and 28 April 1994, with victory going to the ANC in an alliance with the Communist Party and Cosatu. Nelson Mandela was sworn in as President on May 10 with FW de Klerk and the ANC's Thabo Mbeki as Deputy Presidents.

Mandela's presidency was characterised by the successful negotiation of a new constitution; a start on the massive task of restructuring the civil service and attempts to redirect national priorities to address the results of apartheid; and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up primarily to investigate the wrongs of the past.

South Africa History

In the country's second democratic election on 2 June 1999 the ANC marginally increased its majority and Thabo Mbeki became President. The New Nationalist Party, previously the official opposition, lost ground and ceded that position to the Democratic Party, which later became the Democratic Alliance.

In 2004 South Africa's third democratic election went off peacefully, with Thabo Mbeki and the ANC again returning to power, and the Democratic Alliance retaining its position as official opposition.

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Three Decades of Crisis

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