18 .Feb 2010

Vienna meeting highlights legalisation of ANC and release of Mandela 20 years ago

A lecture organised by the Southern Africa Documentation and Co-operation Centre (SADOCC) in Vienna highlighted the beginnings of political change in Apartheid South Africa twenty years ago – namely the legalisation of ANC as well as of other banned organisations and the release of Nelson Mandela.

But according to the speaker, SADOCC chairperson professor Walter Sauer, the political outlook for the country in 1990 was not as rosy as it appears to have been from today’s perspective. It becomes clear from all available sources that the then representative of the Apartheid regime, President F.W. de Klerk, was mainly interested in Mandela helping to reduce political „unrest“ and to relax international sanctions. De Klerk’s political vision of „power sharing“ fell totally short of the ANC’s and Mass Democratic Movement’s visions of a Constituent Assembly, democratically elected in an undivided South Africa, as enshrined in the OAU’s Harare Declaration. Hence Pretoria’s unwillingness to allow quick return of political exiles, release political prisoners unconditionally and lift the state of emergency plus all security laws limiting freedom of speech and political mobilisation in the townships.

Only after the ANC’s „rolling mass action“ in summer 1992, the speaker said, the regime felt forced to negotiate seriously about the ANC’s political demands and to take measures against escalating political violence („third force“). Only then the process became „irreversible“, leading to the adoption of the Interim Constitution in November and the formation of the Transitional Executive Council (TEC) in December 1993 respectively – the formal end of white minority rule in South Africa. (SADOCC)

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