72 days that shaped South Africa (7)

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”.

11 APRIL 1994

Crunch week for KwaZulu

KwaZulu could face an intensified security crackdown if last-gasp talks this week fail to produce a breakthrough in the electoral impasse.
There are widespread fears that violence in KwaZulu/Natal might soar if the special working group – set up to provide the summit sequel with fresh initiatives – fails.
Yesterday there was deep pessimism in both Governmental and ANC circles over prospects for a breakthrough.
The Star, Monday 11 April 1994

12 APRIL 1994

Foreign mediators arrive

International mediators fly into SA today for the start of mediation tomorrow between the ANC, Inkatha Freedom Party and government at a corporate retreat in the Eastern Transvaal.
Business Day, Tuesday 12 April 1994

Day of confusion for JSE dealers

A confused picture emerged on the JSE yesterday as shares were buffeted by a tumbling finrand, a declining gold price and buying and selling by both foreign and local investors.
“It was a scary market with our currencies falling so sharply and people worried about how long the finrand slump will last”, a dealer said.
Business Day, Tuesday 12 April 1994

13 APRIL 1994

Five guilty of race killings

Five members of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging were yesterday found guilty in the Rand Supreme Court of the “cold-blooded murder” of four blacks at an illegal roadblock in December last year.
Their conviction followed racist attacks on blacks at a bogus roadblock on the Ventersdorp-Krugersdorp road on December 12.
Sowetan, Wednesday 13 April 1994

It’s no toss-up between FW, Mandela

If you thought tossing a coin was the simplest way of settling a dispute, you underestimate the infinite capacity of politicians to complicate even that.
SABC officials organising tomorrow night’s long-awaited live televised debate between President de Klerk and ANC president Nelson Mandela suggested that a coin should be spun to decide which man should speak first.
Oh no, said the ANC. No ways, said the Nats. Neither was prepared to trust their opponents with the toss – or themselves with the call.
Eventually it was settled. A neutral party will spin a R1 coin. If it lands on the Springbok, De Klerk will kick off. If it lands on the coat of arms, the honour will be Mandela’s. The coin toss will be shown on Six on One tonight.
The Star, Wednesday 13 April 1994

14 APRIL 1994

Kissinger’s team threatens to quit talks

International mediation was almost scuppered before it got off the ground yesterday when the mediators threatened to pack their bags and leave if the ANC, Inkatha Freedom Party and government failed to agree on their terms of reference.
The seven-man team of mediators was stranded at their Johannesburg hotel while the three parties haggled over their terms of reference, which had been settled on Sunday but amended when government joined the mediation process.
The mediation had been due to start at an eastern Transvaal retreat yesterday.
Business Day, Thursday 14 April 1994

MK man’s ‘we’ll go to war’ warning

Former ANC guerrillas were ready to go to war against the Inkatha Freedom Party as part of a new South African army if violence persisted after this month’s elections, a guerrilla officer said yesterday.
The Citizen, Thursday 14 April 1994

15 APRIL 1994

Gloom as talks collapse

International mediation to break the constitutional deadlock between the African National Congress and Inkatha Freedom Party has failed.
Addressing a press conference in Johannesburg yesterday, the seven sombre-looking mediators said they were on their way home after parties failed to agree on terms of reference for the mediation.
Sowetan, Friday 15 April 1994

TV battle ends in harmony

Nearly an hour of bruising exchanges between South Africa’s incumbent president and his likely successor gave way to passionate pledges of co-operation in last night’s television debate between FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela.
In a debate initially dominated by angry sparring on well-worn issues such as complicity in violence, economic policy and responsibility for South Africa’s myriad problems, the two leaders later checked mutual hostility and called for reconciliation in order to secure a stable transition.
The television contest appeared on balance to be fairly evenly matched.
The Star, Friday 15 April 1994

16 APRIL 1994

IFP plans new marches

The prospect of renewed violence in central Johannesburg next week loomed large yesterday when the Inkatha Freedom Party’s Youth Brigade announced plans to impose a week-long stayaway in protest against the election and over the shootings that took place in the Library Gardens and Shell House during the movement’s previous CBD demonstrations.
Weekend Star, Saturday 16 April 1994

17 APRIL 1994

Rough ride to big day

With only nine days to go before South Africa’s first all-race elections, there are fears that the security forces may not have the manpower to prevent violence and intimidation seriously affecting voter turnout in some parts of the country.
Sources close to the Independent Electoral Commission – whose job is to oversee the elections – claim the police have told the IEC they do not have enough members to be deployed at over 900 polling stations and the South African Defence Force has been stretched to the limit.
Adding to the IEC’s dilemma are reports that since the call-up of white reservists was made a few weeks ago, not many of them have reported for duty.
City Press, Sunday 17 April 1994

FW vows to crack down on marchers

President FW de Klerk vowed yesterday to prevent a planned Inkatha Freedom Party march in Johannesburg tomorrow from again crippling the country’s financial heartland.
He told a political rally at Nasrec, near Johannesburg, that the government was taking steps to avoid a repetition of the bloodshed of a fortnight ago that left 13 people dead.
Sunday Times, Sunday 17 April 1994

Ghana tour? Now it’s Zim!

SA Football Association (Safa) chief Solomon “Sticks” Morewa performed a rescue act yesterday by getting the Zimbabwe Football Association to agree to send their team as a replacement for Ghana.
Ghana, who were due to arrive in South Africa tonight to play two matches, starting on Wednesday, cancelled the tour on Friday afternoon.
City Press, Sunday 17 April 1994

Research, photos: Ndaba Dlamini

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