| In spite of the apparent
breakdown in trust, informal secret talks continued, especially between Cyril
Ramaphosa (ANC) and Roelf Meyer (NP). Joe Slovo, of the Communist Party,
proposed a plan in October 1992 for a 'sunset clause', featuring various
guarantees and a period of power sharing to follow democratic elections. These
ideas eventually formed the basis of agreement.
The assassination of Chris Hani in April 1993 brought South
Africa to the brink of disaster. Hani, a popular youth leader, was killed by a
right-winger. With difficulty Mandela restrained and calmed anger in the
townships. The tragedy focused minds, and negotiations began to proceed more
quickly. The government and the ANC formed an alliance, established a
power-sharing Transitional Executive Council and set an election date for the
27th April 1994.
With the sudden pace of change, militant groups resorted to
extreme measures. Some political parties threatened to boycott the elections
and talked ominously of civil war. Violent attacks took place across the
country. In Cape Town an American student, Amy Biehl, was murdered in a racial
assault and eleven people were killed when an evangelical church service was
In spite of the troubles, the NP and ANC continued to work
through bilateral meetings, using their combined influence to drive the process
forward and persuade other parties to follow.
After three years of on-off negotiation, there was suddenly too
much to do in a short time-frame. Not least of these was voter education, to
prepare the inexperienced population for democracy and the complex ballot. Many
civil organisations, including churches and charities, became very involved in
this task. Other organisations set about raising volunteers to work as
electoral and peace monitors.
In December 1993 de Klerk and Mandela jointly received the
Nobel Peace Prize as the country moved rapidly toward its first election. But
the shadow of violence continued to darken, with threats of chaos should the
election take place, especially in Natal.
As election day approached, the excitement was palpable,
heightened by the presence of the world's media and by the continued threat of
extremists to sabotage the elections. Only at the very last minute, under
intense pressure, did the Zulu-dominated IFP agree to participate.
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· Culture ·
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