www.capetown.at Roddy Bray's Guide to Cape Town  
Click for Home Page
Click for Cape Town City Guide

Click for Heritage
SA Flag - Click for MP3 downloads
Audio Guides
Click for Directory of Cape Town Weblinks
Penguin at Boulders - click for Photos
Click for Storyletters

New South Africa
(page 5)
New Government
The ANC-led Government of National Unity, headed by Nelson Mandela, included members of the NP and IFP, members of different races and faiths, and women. Mandela was determined to foster good race-relations and as President he went out of his way to nurture reconciliation. Political violence rapidly subsided and extremist groups withered.

The Government of National Unity was to oversee a new South African constitution. The resulting document has been widely praised. It includes an independent judiciary and constitutional court to uphold a libertarian Bill of Rights. It devolved significant powers to the nine provinces, helping to create political balance.

Various independent commissions, such as the Human Rights Commission, were created to uphold the values enshrined in the constitution. Most of these are permanent bodies, but Desmond Tutu was asked to head a unique Truth and Reconciliation Commission to offer amnesty to those who confessed to human rights abuses. In this way the truth of many abuses came to light, helping to resolve much of the bitterness and secrecy of the past. The amnesty process was controversial, but the model has been followed by other new democracies.

In their election campaign the ANC promised 'jobs, peace and freedom'. The centrepiece of ANC policy was the RDP (Reconstruction and Development Plan). The plan promised 300,000 new houses a year, access to clean water, sanitation and electricity, health, education and welfare, jobs through public works schemes and a massive re-distribution of land.

Such promises, including 'jobs for all', led to high expectations. Affirmative action helped educated blacks get ahead, but the reality in the townships was continued poverty and growing unemployment. Youths who had high expectations of liberation saw some blacks become wealthy and whites retain their privilege, but their own circumstances remain bleak. Many felt marginalised, even betrayed.

Some disillusioned freedom fighters changed political activism for crime, which for the first time became a feature not only of the townships but also of city centres and suburbs. Meanwhile the justice system struggled to cope with the volume of work and the police force struggled to adapt from its racist, paramilitary culture to the new 'rights-based' era.

The first five years of democracy did not achieve many of the ambitious goals set out by the ANC. The spread of criminality created fear throughout the country. Affirmative action strained race relations. These factors discouraged badly needed foreign investment, depressed white confidence and encouraged a wave of emigration by young white professionals.

The RDP raised expectations, but it was far too ambitious and demonstrated a naivety about government and its resources. Some progress was made - particularly in water provision - but the RDP programme was quietly dropped before the end of Mandela's term. The abiding success of the Mandela government was to lay the foundations for a new nation - through reconciliation and a new constitution, and his own example as a South African leader. These have created the basis for meeting the challenges of the new era.

Go to the next page >>>>>>

© www.capetown.at 2008. You may print this article for personal use; if for reproduction please acknowledge 'www.www.capetown.at.co.za'. You may not use this material for any electronic media except with written permission. www.capetown.at accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies or the work of service providers.


Heritage Sections
· Culture ·
· Environment ·
History · Society
Personalities · Areas

In this period of Cape History:


Mandela's Release




New Government

& Change



Bibliography & Contacts


Return to top