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New South Africa
(page 3)
In spite of the apparent breakdown in trust, informal secret talks continued, especially between Cyril Ramaphosa (ANC) and Roelf Meyer (NP). Joe Slovo, of the Communist Party, proposed a plan in October 1992 for a 'sunset clause', featuring various guarantees and a period of power sharing to follow democratic elections. These ideas eventually formed the basis of agreement.

The assassination of Chris Hani in April 1993 brought South Africa to the brink of disaster. Hani, a popular youth leader, was killed by a right-winger. With difficulty Mandela restrained and calmed anger in the townships. The tragedy focused minds, and negotiations began to proceed more quickly. The government and the ANC formed an alliance, established a power-sharing Transitional Executive Council and set an election date for the 27th April 1994.

With the sudden pace of change, militant groups resorted to extreme measures. Some political parties threatened to boycott the elections and talked ominously of civil war. Violent attacks took place across the country. In Cape Town an American student, Amy Biehl, was murdered in a racial assault and eleven people were killed when an evangelical church service was attacked.

In spite of the troubles, the NP and ANC continued to work through bilateral meetings, using their combined influence to drive the process forward and persuade other parties to follow.

After three years of on-off negotiation, there was suddenly too much to do in a short time-frame. Not least of these was voter education, to prepare the inexperienced population for democracy and the complex ballot. Many civil organisations, including churches and charities, became very involved in this task. Other organisations set about raising volunteers to work as electoral and peace monitors.

In December 1993 de Klerk and Mandela jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize as the country moved rapidly toward its first election. But the shadow of violence continued to darken, with threats of chaos should the election take place, especially in Natal.

As election day approached, the excitement was palpable, heightened by the presence of the world's media and by the continued threat of extremists to sabotage the elections. Only at the very last minute, under intense pressure, did the Zulu-dominated IFP agree to participate.
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In this period of Cape History:

Mandela's Release




New Government

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