72 days that shaped South Africa (5)


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”.

28 MARCH 1994

KwaZulu simmers

The KwaZulu/Natal region remained a tinder box over the weekend – despite several high-profile peace initiatives. In one incident, the home of African National Congress regional premier candidate Mr Jacob Zuma was torched by a mob on Saturday night in Nxamalala, near Inkandla, in Northern Natal.
Anti-ANC pamphlets, accusing the organisation of colluding with the government (described as “the Boers”) to overthrow Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, were strewn in the area. Zulus were also urged not to vote in the April 27 elections.
Sowetan, Monday 28 March 1994

29 MARCH 1994

Mayhem as Zulus march in Jo’burg

More than 30 people were killed and hundreds injured in battles in the Johannesburg area yesterday as tens of thousands of Zulus converged on the city centre to demonstrate their support for King Goodwill Zwelithini.
Eight Zulu marchers were killed outside the ANC’s headquarters in Plein Street when security guards fired into the crowd after snipers fired on the building.
Minutes later, volleys of gunfire sent a huge crowd at the Library Gardens rally scattering for cover. When the commotion subsided at least five people lay dead.
Business Day, Tuesday 29 March 1994

SADF troops sent to QwaQwa capital

Phuthaditjaba – More than 200 people were arrested yesterday and SADF troops were deployed in QwaQwa after a march by thousands of public servants on the homeland’s parliament deteriorated into violence, with demonstrators breaking windows and looting shops.
Business Day, Tuesday 29 March 1994

30 MARCH 1994

Buthelezi threatens to fight as TEC agrees on a state of emergency

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi yesterday vowed to fight the ANC “to the finish” unless the elections were postponed – as the Transitional Executive Council recommended emergency measures in KwaZulu/Natal.
A state of emergency encompassing the whole of Natal and KwaZulu would be proclaimed by the President within the next few days, the TEC agreed.
The declaration, accompanied by the incremental deployment of SADF troops, was intended to halt the escalation of violence in the region as well as ensure free and fair elections next month.
Business Day, Wednesday 30 March 1994

31 MARCH 1994

Support for NP has grown, our poll reveals

With less than a month to go in the election campaign, the National Party has rallied, increasing its support by 6 percent – mostly at the expense of the ANC.
Nelson Mandela’s organisation appears assured of a convincing victory at the polls, but improved showings by President de Klerk’s party, as well as the PAC and General Constand Viljoen’s new Freedom Front, leave the question of a two-thirds ANC majority wide open.
This is likely to be the main focus of the remaining weeks of campaigning.
The Star, Thursday 31 March 1994

1 APRIL 1994

Police pay to triple during election

The daily allowances of South African Police will rise three-fold during the election period to keep them in line with the much better pay of members of the National Peacekeeping Force. The pay bonus is considered vital to boost police morale and avert an internal revolt.
Weekly Mail & Guardian, Friday 1 April 1994

TEC’s plan to police the police

The Transitional Executive Council took its first decisive step to check rogue police elements by forming a police inspectorate charged with keeping a watch on various police agencies during the election run-up.
A transitional complaints mechanism will also be established for civilians to protest against unacceptable police conduct.
Weekly Mail & Guardian, Friday 1 April 1994

2 APRIL 1994

Why FW cracked down in Natal

Chilling intelligence reports predicting a sharp increase in KwaZulu/Natal violence fatalities as the election approached finally persuaded President de Klerk to declare a state of emergency in the region, according to government sources.
Weekend Star, Saturday 2 April 1994

3 APRIL 1994

Voters call for one SA

Voters in the Pretoria-Witwatersrand (PWV), Western Cape and KwaZulu/Natal overwhelmingly reject the idea of an independent Zulu kingdom and the notion of a white homeland.
Some 61% of voters in the PWV, 43% in the Western Cape and 58% in KwaZulu/Natal were against an independent Zulu kingdom.
More than 77% of voters in the PWV, 60% in the Western Cape and 72% in KwaZulu/Natal said they were against an independent volkstaat.
Sunday Times, Sunday 3 April 1994

Research, photos: Ndaba Dlamini

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