Just how “miraculous” was South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy? How close did the country really come to civil war?
Check out our press clipping snapshots of the 72 days leading up to Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as SA’s first democratically elected President – and see how heavily the odds were stacked against “the rainbow nation”.
2 MAY 1994
ANC poised for victory
The African National Congress was last night headed for victory in South Africa’s first democratic elections, but conceded it had lost to the National Party in the Western Cape.
By 11pm last night, the ANC commanded a comfortable lead of 54 percent, while the NP followed with 33 percent and the Inkatha Freedom Party a mere 4.5 percent.
Sowetan, Monday 2 May 1994
3 MAY 1994
It’s President Mandela
As millions more votes were tallied throughout last night and early today, the long-expected became fact: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is South Africa’s first black president.
In an effective state-of-the-nation address last night as victory became inevitable, Mandela put into words the sentiments of millions of South Africans: “You can proclaim from the rooftops: free at last.”
Speaking at a celebration party in a city hotel, he strongly reinforced a message of reconciliation: “This is the time to heal the old wounds and build a new South Africa.”
The Star, Tuesday 3 May 1994
4 MAY 1994
IEC freezes results, revamps counting
The release of SA’s election results ground to a halt last night while “a top-level IEC crisis meeting” re-evaluated the counting procedure, which was taking too long, a senior IEC official said.
Counting has dragged on for four days and delayed the transition. It had been expected to take 36 hours. Only about 75% of the votes had been counted yesterday.
Business Day, Wednesday 4 May 1994
IEC staffers can always count on a laugh
Exhausted Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials began to shake off their depression yesterday about the growing counting debacle by telling jokes about their predicament.
“How Many IEC officials does it take to change a light bulb?” is the question. “It’s impossible to tell. The light bulbs haven’t arrived yet”, is the reply.
The officials have good reason to joke. A loose calculation shows that since counting began on Sunday morning the 50 000-odd counters have each counted one vote an hour.
Business Day, Wednesday 4 May 1994
5 MAY 1994
Horse trading by parties will decide result
Independent Electoral Commission chairman Judge Johan Kriegler yesterday said he expected the election results to be manipulated to resolve political disputes and election irregularities.
There was nothing wrong with this, he said. In fact he welcomed it.
“Let’s not get overly squeamish about it”, Kriegler said. “They (the parties) are in a power game with one another, and if they want to settle on the basis that they withdraw objections, there’s nothing wrong with it, ethically or legally.”
With only 10 days in which to certify the elections, and mindful that the presidential inauguration is scheduled for next Tuesday, the ordinary process for hearing complaints was “quite clearly not available”.
“We have to make an assessment on available data”, Kriegler said.
Business Day, Thursday 5 May 1994
6 MAY 1994
Poll result today – IEC
South Africa will learn the outcome of the election this afternoon, according to the Independent Electoral Commission.
This follows a flood of results earlier today, bringing the total count close to 20 million.
The final announcement – after days of frustration as the vote counting process laboured under a plethora of problems – will be made at Midrand’s Gallagher Estate, the IEC said in a statement.
The Star, Friday 6 May 1994
R2 160m US aid for South Africa
Washington – President Bill Clinton announced yesterday a doubling in US assistance South Africa of $600-million (R2 160-million) over three years, and said his wife Hillary would attend Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as the country’s first black president.
The Citizen, Friday 6 May 1994
7 MAY 1994
It’s a dream outcome
It’s just about a dream result. The outcome of South Africa’s first all-race election is poised to defuse many of the conflicts that could have accompanied the birth of the country’s new dispensation.
The ANC – with 62.65% of the national tally – fell just short of the two-thirds threshold, a result that is bound to ease the concerns of minorities fearful of unbridled domination, at the same time satisfying the ANC’s grassroots followers.
The National Party gained just more than 20% and will have 82 MPs in the National Assembly, an outcome that should assuage the fears of whites.
And in the KwaZulu/Natal provincial legislature, the fractious Inkatha Freedom Party won fairly comfortably in a result that may stem the blood-letting in the province.
Weekend Star, Saturday 7 May 1994
8 MAY 1994
As world leaders began arriving yesterday to celebrate the birth of democracy in South Africa, President-elect Nelson Mandela moved swiftly to show that SA’s new government will be both pragmatic and reconciliatory.
Speaking outside a Cape Town synagogue, Mandela said: “I stand firm in the belief that we are one country, one nation, whether we are coloureds, Indians, white or Africans – that is what we must promote in this country from now on.”
Sunday Times, Sunday 8 May 1994
Shaved by the poll – as Natal professor comes clean
Natal’s legendary anti-apartheid beard got the chop last week. Retired University of Natal vice-principal Prof Deneys Schreiner shaved for the first time in 40 years.
In 1954, when coloureds were removed from the voters’ roll by the Nats, he vowed in protest not to shave until coloureds and blacks could vote.
It seems ironic that the Nats won the Western Cape on the strength of the coloured vote last week.
This weekend, Schreiner’s daughters Jenny and Barbara saw their father’s free and fair face for the first time in their lives.
However, Schreiner has started regrowing the great white beard, which grew to mythological proportions in the province.
He said: “To shave once every 40 years is enough – especially with your wife’s razor and Sunlight soap!”
City Press, Sunday 8 May 1994
The story continued …
Research, photos: Ndaba Dlamini
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