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New South Africa
(page 2)
In May, government and ANC leaders met for a three day summit at Groote Schuur, the President's House in Cape Town. The talks discussed the security situation in the country and reporters described the meeting as 'very positive'. As a consequence, the government lifted the state of emergency and in August the ANC suspended its 'armed struggle'.

De Klerk's leadership opened the way for change. The influential, conservative, Dutch Reformed Church confessed their part in apartheid as 'sinful and heretical'. Other churches encouraged support for the transition to democracy. The media backed the 'new South Africa' and for the first time black leaders appeared in televised debates.

Formal negotiations, however, were slow to start. The ANC had been an underground movement for twenty years; now it had to become a political party. Exiles, freed prisoners and local leaders, with very varied political beliefs, had to create a national organisation and develop a negotiation strategy, this took time.

Meanwhile, violence in the townships and 'homelands' was growing, and bitter accusations were made that the government was indifferent, or perhaps even orchestrating the troubles. Questions were raised about a 'third force' trying to destabilise and divide black politics. Evidence arose that the government was secretly funding the IFP, whose members were engaged in violent clashes with ANC supporters.

The government continued to seek the moral high ground by repealing apartheid legislation. The next two years saw the end of the Group Areas Act and plans were launched to gradually remove discrimination within the education system.

A National Peace Accord between the major political parties and other organisations was drawn up in September 1991 to monitor violence, and it nurtured an active peace movement, it also helped open the way to dialogue.

CODESA (Congress towards a Democratic South Africa) was finally launched in December 1991, almost two years after Mandela's release. A white-only referendum in March '92 strongly endorsed transition to a democratic order and the international community responded by beginning to lift sanctions.

The right-wing however, fervently opposed change and evidence emerged that the spiral of violence was indeed orchestrated by elements in the security establishment trying to de-rail the negotiations. Negotiations ground to a halt with accusations of government involvement in this plan. The ANC and unions launched 'rolling mass action' with strikes and marches to demand majority-rule.

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In this period of Cape History:


Mandela's Release




New Government

& Change



Bibliography & Contacts


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