72 days that shaped South Africa (4)

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”.

21 MARCH 1994

IFP plans poll protest

The Inkatha Freedom Party has rejected an initiative by President De Klerk to bring it into the election and is instead planning a campaign of opposition to the Interim Constitution and next month’s election.
Tensions in KwaZulu/Natal continued to soar at the weekend with sporadic outbreaks of violence and both the IFP and ANC announcing steps designed to gain strategic advantage in the province.
The Star, Monday 21 March 1994

He’s tuning in to Parliament

Parliament’s austere corridors might soon be reverberating to the rhythmic reggae beat if James Mange can muster enough fans.
The dreadlocked Mange, with his colourful history in struggle politics and music, has resurfaced as leader of the Sports Organisation for Collective Contribution and Equal Rights (SOCCER) Party.
The Rastafarian commando spent 13 years on Robben Island after being sentenced to death in 1979 along with 11 others for high treason.
Once free he set about establishing a musical career.
But politics is in his bones, he says, and he has found a way to marry his two loves and hopefully take them into the realm of government in the new South Africa.
The Star, Monday 21 March 1994

22 MARCH 1994

TEC bid to take control in KwaZulu

The Transitional Executive Council (TEC) is considering a series of steps, including giving the SAP jurisdiction over KwaZulu and considering government’s financial obligations to the territory, to ensure free political activity in the region in the five weeks leading up to the elections.
At the same time, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairman Judge Johann Kriegler is trying to secure “an inclusive commitment” to free and fair elections from President FW de Klerk, ANC president Nelson Mandela, Inkatha Freedom Party president Mangosuthu Buthelezi, and Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.
Business Day, Tuesday 22 March 1994

21 die as prisons erupt

A cell fire killed 21 prisoners at the Queenstown Prison yesterday as the countrywide protest by prisoners for the right to vote escalated.
And the mood at the majority of prisons around the country was described as “tense and volatile” by prison authorities today.
At Maritzburg Prison about 2 000 prisoners broke out of their cells and toyi-toyied in the courtyards.
By last night, 3 000 prisoners were also on hunger strike countrywide. These included 614 at East London, 29 at Krugerdorp, 148 at Port Shepstone, 16 at Pollsmoor (Cape Town) and 210 at Brandviel.
The Star, Tuesday 22 March 1994

Bomb wrecks NP offices

A powerful bomb wrecked through the offices of the National Party in Right-wing Ventersdorp last night.
A police spokesman confirmed that the explosion caused large-scale damage to the building which houses the offices.
The Citizen, Tuesday 22 March 1994

23 MARCH 1994

TEC takes over Ciskei as Gqozo quits

Ciskei military leader Brigadier Oupa Gqozo resigned last night as the SADF was deployed along the homeland’s border in readiness to help quell a revolt by public servants and police.
The Transitional Executive Council (TEC) said it would appoint two administrators to govern Ciskei until the election, after Gqozo contacted Foreign Minister Pik Botha and offered to step down. He asked SA to intervene and restore control.
Defence Minister Kobie Coetzee said troops had been placed on full alert along Ciskei’s border and could be deployed at short notice to “calm the situation”.
Business Day, Wednesday 23 March 1994

24 MARCH 1994

Chaos in homelands

Bisho – As wildcat strikes by public servants spread throughout Ciskei today, the big question is which way the Ciskei Defence Force will go. The CDF boycotted talks in King William’s Town yesterday called by the South African government and the Transitional Executive Council to smooth the way for the peaceful reincorporation of the homeland into South Africa following the resignation of Oupa Gqozo as president.
The Star, Thursday 24 March 1994

25 MARCH 1994

More troops for Natal?

Durban – State President De Klerk said yesterday that SA Defence Force troops could be deployed more widely in war-torn Natal and KwaZulu, where political fighting has reached almost unprecedented levels five weeks before the April election.
The Citizen, Friday 25 March 1994

26 MARCH 1994

Marching to Pretoria

Thousands of right-wingers started gathering at Radio Pretoria last night for a massive show of right-wing strength today.
As the city prepared for an invasion by up to 25 000 marchers, businesses and security forces said they were ready for any eventuality.
Afrikaner Volkstaat and Conservative Party leader Ferdi Hartzenberg is scheduled to address the marchers at Church Square on Hoofstad Dag (Capital Day) and proclaim Pretoria the capital of a right-wing volkstaat.
Weekend Star, Saturday 26 March 1994

KwaZulu on the agenda

KwaZulu Chief Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi meets President de Klerk this weekend for talks that will weigh heavily on contingency planning for strife-torn KwaZulu/Natal.
The discussions come amid increasing government speculation that an election in the region could be postponed.
Weekend Star, Saturday 26 March 1994

27 MARCH 1994

Nuclear scientists threaten to tell all

Disgruntled South African nuclear and rocket scientists are threatening to expose closely guarded secrets about the country’s arms programme unless they are paid R4.5-million in retrenchment benefits.
A spokesman claiming to represent 16 scientists admitted this week that the threat amounted to blackmail.
“We want a settlement, but negotiation has failed and we don’t want to have to take this to the industrial court. Our disclosures will prove embarrassing for Armscor, Denal (an off-shoot of Armscor) and the Nationalist government”, he warned.
Sunday Times, Sunday 27 March 1994

Research, photos: Ndaba Dlamini

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