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SA Fact File/History
 
Archaeological evidence indicates that the area of modern-day South Africa was one of the cradles of human evolution. Some of the earliest hominid (human-like) remains, dating back more than 2.5 million years, have been found at various sites. Remains of Australopithecus africanus, a hominid believed by some scholars to be an ancestor of Homo sapiens, have been found at Taung, Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, and Kromdraai. Remains of the heavier Australopithecus robustus, dating back some 3 million years, have also been found at Makapansgat. Homo habilis, the earliest known toolmaker, lived in South Africa some 2.3 million years ago. Homo sapiens first appeared between 125,000 and 50,000 years ago.

Early Settlement

Of the contemporary population of South Africa, the original inhabitants were the Khoisan-speaking peoples, the hunter-gatherer San and the Khoikhoi pastoralists. They were subsequently absorbed or forced into the most marginal areas by more technologically advanced migrants to the region; their descendants today live in the Kalahari in Botswana (San) and southern Namibia (Khoikhoi). The Bantu-speaking peoples, who are the ancestors of the vast majority of modern black South Africans, are thought to have begun arriving in the area about ad 100, bringing with them early Iron Age technology and lifestyles. In the ad 1000s a more advanced technology appeared; some scholars have attributed this to a new wave of Bantu migrations from the north, others to developments locally. It was at this time that the San began falling back towards the Kalahari, while the Khoikhoi were initially concentrated in the Cape area.

Arrival of the Portuguese and Dutch
European interest in South Africa began with the Portuguese in the 1400s. They explored the coast in search of gold and the sea route to the East. In 1488 the ships of Bartolomeu Dias were blown round the Cape of Good Hope during a storm. Ten years later another Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, rounded the Cape before successfully reaching India. The apparent lack of mineral wealth and the hostility of the Khoikhoi on the Cape discouraged the Portuguese from taking any interest in the hinterland beyond the Cape. However, other Europeans, following the Portuguese lead to the East, used the Cape as a base for taking on meat and water. Prime among these were the English and the Dutch. The latter, in 1652, decided to establish a settlement on the Cape.

The first settlers, sent by the Dutch East India Company and led by Jan van Riebeeck, were supposed to set up a half-way station in Table Bay, on the site of Cape Town. However, shortage of labour quickly led to two decisions that were to have far-reaching consequences on South Africa’s history. First, the Dutch East India Company allowed the use of slave labour, mainly imported from India and Indonesia, but also including some of the local Khoikhoi population. Second, former company servants were allowed to become “free burghers”, and to set up farms outside the settlement.

The first of these farmers, who came to be known as Boers (Afrikaners), settled along the Liesback River. Their numbers grew gradually, as more Dutch arrived and, after 1688, Huguenots fleeing persecution in France. The settlers began to put increasing pressure on the Khoikhoi.

By the 18th century most Khoikhoi, despite armed resistance, had lost their lands to these European settlers and Cape Town had become an important port and way station for East Indies trade. The Boer colonists, mostly farmers and cattle herders, soon developed their own distinctive culture and language (Afrikaans). By the late 1700s the white settlers had spread about 500 km (310 mi) north and 800 km (497 mi) east of Cape Town, and had encountered the Bantu. Nguni Bantu clans had settled in the area between the Drakensberg and the sea, while Sotho clans occupied the interior north of Cape Colony.

In the early 19th century competition for trade and land led to conflict between the Bantu clans, known as the mfecane. Hundreds of thousands died during the wars that eventually engulfed much of southern Africa. Entire clans disappeared during the fighting, and centralization resulted in the creation of powerful Bantu nations, notably that founded by the Zulu King Shaka, but also including the Swazi, Xhosa, and Sotho nations.
Early British Settlement

During the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, France occupied the Netherlands, and British forces twice occupied the Cape region, in 1795 and 1806. In 1814, towards the end of the fighting in Europe, the United Kingdom purchased the Cape Colony from the Dutch for £6 million. After 1820 thousands of British colonists arrived in South Africa, and they demanded that British law be imposed. English became the official language in 1822, the Khoikhoi were given protection, and slavery was abolished in 1833.

The Great Trek
These measures were bitterly resented by the Boers, and resulted in the Great Trek, in which some 10,000 Boers moved northward between 1836 and 1838. These voortrekkers (forerunners) moved east and north, settling across the Orange River, the Vaal River, and in Natal. After military attacks in 1836 they drove the Ndebele people across the River Limpopo and in 1838 defeated the Zulu at the Battle of Blood River before establishing a series of settlements in the area. The British, wishing to retain control over the voortrekkers, soon occupied the coastal region of Natal and established a Crown Colony there in 1843.

The Boer Republics
Most Afrikaners then left Natal and headed west and north, where they established the Orange Free State and the Transvaal republics. The British along the eastern Cape frontier encroached on Xhosa lands, causing several bloody wars. The governor of Cape Colony, Sir Harry Smith, gained control over the Orange River territory in 1848. His expansionist policy, however, was repudiated by a British government keen to curtail its commitment in South Africa. In the Sand River Convention of 1852, Britain recognized the independence of the Transvaal Boers and in the Bloemfontein Convention of 1854, the independence of the Orange Free State.

By the late 1850s the territories of the Transvaal Boers beyond the River Vaal had coalesced into the South African Republic. Although attempts to unite the republic and the Orange Free State were fruitless, the two Boer republics maintained a close relationship in succeeding years.

Until the 1860s the Bantu nations of the north and east, including the Swazi and Sotho, cooperated and competed with the Boer settlers, maintaining a relative equilibrium. However, the period between the late 1850s and early 1870s brought the deaths of a generation of very able and charismatic African leaders—including Mswati of the Swazi (1865) and Moshoeshoe I of the Sotho (1870). Their loss swung the balance of power towards the colonists, who had long been keen to aquire the fertile land controlled by the Africans, and black labour to work it.

British Annexations

The discovery of diamonds and gold during the late 1860s and early 1870s gave new force to this desire. In 1868 the British annexed Basutoland, and in 1871 Griqualand West, which included the Kimberley diamond fields. In 1877 the Nguni territory was annexed, and in 1879, following the Zulu wars, Zululand was taken over. The Venda in the north held out the longest, but their defeat in 1898 saw the completion of the annexation of the African kingdoms.

Meanwhile, in the east, the British colony of Natal had been granted representative self-government in 1856; in 1872 Cape Colony gained self-government and control over all areas except economic and foreign affairs. In 1877, as part of the annexation of South Africa’s mineral-rich hinterland, British rule was imposed on the South African Republic (Transvaal). However, the Afrikaners took up arms against the British in 1880, and their republic was granted semi-independence. In 1883 Boer leader Paul Kruger was elected President of the Transvaal.

The South African War

The discovery of the world’s largest gold deposits on the Witwatersrand in the southern Transvaal in 1886 coincided with German occupation of South West Africa (now Namibia). The mining industry was financed by the British, and thousands of English miners—called Uitlanders (“foreigners”) by the Boers—entered the Transvaal. Britain thwarted President Kruger’s plans to extend his control to Bechuanaland (now Botswana), annexed the region, and effectively blocked the South African Republic from joining with German territory to the west. Kruger refused to grant civil equality to Uitlanders and taxed foreign companies heavily. After compromise discussions failed, British financier Cecil Rhodes, Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, in 1895 encouraged the Uitlanders to revolt, supported by a small invasion force under the command of Sir Leander Starr Jameson. The Jameson Raid was a failure, and although Rhodes was absolved of any involvement in it, he was forced to resign as prime minister.

Relations between the Cape Colony and the two Afrikaner republics worsened after British statesman Alfred Milner became Cape Governor in 1897. In October 1899 Kruger declared war; the South African War (Boer War) pitted the might of the British Empire, represented by some 500,000 troops, against some 87,000 Afrikaners and foreign volunteers. After some initial success by the Boer forces, British forces had occupied all major urban centres by mid-1900. The Boers, however, continued to wage a costly guerrilla war that was countered by scorched-earth policies by the British, which included the destruction of farms and the internment of the civilian population in concentration camps Some 25,000 Afrikaner women and children died of disease and malnutrition in the camps; 14,000 Africans died in separate camps. In May 1902 the African forces sued for peace.

Formation of the Union of South Africa

Under the terms of the Treaty of Vereeniging (May 31, 1902), the Transvaal and the Orange Free State became British Crown colonies. In 1906 and 1907 they were given constitutions as self-governing colonies. By the South Africa Act of Union of 1910 the British Parliament established the dominion of the Union of South Africa, with the four colonies as its provinces. The South African Party won the first elections, and the former Boer army commander, Louis Botha, became prime minister.

Between the start of the diamond rush to Kimberley in 1870 and the end of the South African War in 1902, the South African economy was transformed. From being an economic backwater, dependent on agricultural products like wool and wine, the country became a major supplier of precious minerals, undergoing rapid urbanization and industrialization. Notwithstanding the influx of Europeans to work in the mines, there were still huge labour shortages.

Use of Black Labour
The annexation of the African states, therefore, was accompanied by moves to force their largely self-sufficient populations off the land to become wage labourers in the mines. These moves included restrictions on African ownership of land, culminating in the 1913 Land Act, which restricted black land ownership and land use to a small percentage of the country. The Land Act ended the individual independence of South Africa’s black peoples by removing their access to land.

The pattern of labour recruitment, remuneration, and accommodation that characterized South African mining for more than a century was established at this time in the goldfields. Black labourers, mainly migrants from elsewhere in South Africa (but also from neighbouring states), were limited to unskilled jobs, paid low wages, and housed in single-sex compounds, separated from their families who remained in the rural areas. Such methods kept costs low and made control of black workers relatively easy, although there were spasmodic outbreaks of violence by the compound dwellers throughout the next 100 years.

Boer Opposition
In the Cape, the diamond and gold discoveries further north fed an emerging financial industry. Although Boers in the 1870s comprised two thirds of the Cape’s white population, political power was controlled by the English-speaking elite of merchants, lawyers, and landholders. Hostility to this state of affairs led to the emergence of Afrikaners nationalist organizations, notably Die Afrikaner Bond in 1880.

Between 1872 and 1904, the annexation of the Transkeian territories to Cape Colony increased the number of Africans in the colony. Under the Cape Liberal Franchise, based on non-racial criteria, many blacks were able to vote. Hostility to this from the Afrikaner organizations, especially the Bond, led to successive moves to change the franchise qualifications to limit black voters.

Formation of the African National Congress

This led, after 1884, to the development of new black political and educational organizations. In 1912, partly in response to this, and partly in response to the failure of the British to honour their South African War promises of “equal laws and equal liberty”—which had encouraged some 10,000 black troops to fight on their side—black leaders organized what eventually became the African National Congress (ANC). In 1902 Coloured (mixed ethnic background) leaders had set up the African Political (later People’s) Organization, which battled for Coloured rights under the presidency of Abdullah Abdurahman, and at times linked up with black organizations. In the Transvaal, Indians, led by Mohandas K. Gandhi, opposed the imposition of laws requiring them to carry passes. It was during this period (1906-1908) that Gandhi began to develop his methods of satyagraha (non-violent non-compliance).

The Two World Wars
At the outset of World War I in 1914, Botha pledged Britain full support, and in 1915 he crushed an insurrection by extremist Afrikaner elements. Botha himself led the South African forces that conquered German South West Africa (now Namibia). In 1920 the territory became a League of Nations mandate under South African supervision.

Botha died in 1919. He was succeeded as prime minister by another pro-British military leader, Jan Christiaan Smuts. The National Party had been founded in 1914 by James Barry Hertzog, to further the cause of Afrikaner nationalism and white supremacy. Hertzog unseated Smuts in 1924, at a time of rising black militancy. He remained prime minister until 1939. During the economic depression of the 1930s a coalition was formed: Hertzog and Smuts became dual leaders of the United Party. Britain’s declaration of war against Germany in 1939 split the coalition. Hertzog, who tried to keep South Africa neutral, was replaced as prime minister by Smuts, and the Union declared war on Germany on September 6, 1939. Because of pro-German sentiment among Boers, however, conscription was not introduced. All members of the Union’s armed forces were volunteers, and their only combat action was in east and north Africa and Italy.

Apartheid Instituted

Discrimination against non-whites was inherent in South African society from the earliest days. A clause in the Act of Union of 1910 provided that the native policies of the provinces would be retained and could be changed only by a two-thirds majority vote of parliament. In Cape Colony alone the Coloured community and a few black Africans had the right to vote. Notwithstanding Gandhi’s 21-year struggle before World War I to assure civil rights for Indian residents, they still had second-class status after the war.

South African blacks had an even lower status in the white-dominated state. Urban blacks lived in segregated areas and could not hold office or vote. They had no viable labour unions, and technical and administrative positions were closed to them. Even so, the National Party accused Prime Minister Smuts of allowing whites to be swallowed in a black sea. In the 1948 elections, led by Daniel F. Malan, the National Party won a narrow victory and began to implement its harsh concept of apartheid, which was designed to separate the races economically, politically, geographically, and socially. Strikes and protests for economic and political rights by non-Europeans in the aftermath of World War II—inspired in part by the anti-colonial movement in Asia and Africa—had emboldened racist forces to take steps to head off any new militancy.

The government’s position was strengthened when the National Party merged with the smaller Afrikaner Party in 1954. Malan, with growing support in parliament, introduced several laws designed to relegate all non-whites to permanent inferior status. A severe anti-Communist law (equating Communism with political, economic, or social changes brought about by unconventional means) was passed in 1950; marriage between whites and blacks was made a crime; and education for blacks was defined differently than for whites.

Most drastic was the Group Areas Act of 1950, which, augmented by later legislation, provided that specific areas be reserved for each of South Africa’s four racial groups as defined by apartheid, that is, the Europeans (whites), Bantu (blacks), Coloureds (mixed race), and Asians. These laws and the homelands concept, which robbed most blacks of their South African citizenship and which denied them the right to live in cities without special permission, were the foundations of apartheid. All blacks were assigned to specific tribal areas and had to carry passes when they entered restricted (white) areas. The goal was to create so-called “homelands” for all blacks. In response to these harsh policies, the ANC decided to pursue a more militant stance through mass civil disobedience. Nelson Mandela emerged as a central leader at this time.

In 1951 the Separate Representation of Voters Act was passed by a simple majority. It provided for the removal from the white register of the names of Coloured voters in the Cape of Good Hope Province, reversing a policy that had been in effect since 1852. The bill was declared unconstitutional by the nation’s Supreme Court in March 1952 because it had been passed by less than the two-thirds majority required to amend voting laws. Legislation to give parliament power to overrule the Supreme Court was passed in May, but it was also declared unconstitutional.

Malan retired in November 1954 and was succeeded by another National Party leader, Johannes G. Strijdom, who soon removed legal obstacles to further implementation of apartheid. To assure support for the programme, six more supreme court judges were appointed to hear constitutional questions, a step that received parliamentary approval in May 1955; nationalist control of the senate was effected by increasing membership from 77 to 89 in the November elections. The Separate Representation of Voters Act was repassed in February 1956 and became law. The Cape’s Coloureds were disenfranchised, and the courts’ power in constitutional areas was curbed.

Struggle with the UN

The Union of South Africa had rebuffed attempts by the UN to assert its authority in South West Africa after World War II. A special UN commission conducting an inquiry into racial discrimination in South Africa repeatedly requested Premier Malan’s permission to transfer its hearings from Geneva to Union territory, and was repeatedly ignored. As apartheid took hold in South African society, more than 2,000 of its citizens from all racial and ethnic backgrounds gathered in 1955 to write the Freedom Charter. This charter, which offered a vision of a non-racial, unified, and democratic South Africa, was adopted by the ANC as its basic statement.

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in February 1957 calling for UN trusteeship over South West Africa. In October it sanctioned the creation of a “good offices” committee to negotiate with the Union on the disposition of South West Africa. After a visit by UN officials to South West Africa in May 1962 (the first permitted by South Africa), the investigating commission called for UN action to guarantee the political rights of the territory’s residents.

In June 1964 the UN Security Council condemned apartheid and ordered a study to be made of sanctions against South Africa. The UN General Assembly voted in October 1966 to terminate South Africa’s mandate over South West Africa, which was renamed Namibia, and established a council to assume responsibility for the territory. South Africa rejected all UN actions and proceeded to integrate the territory into its own economy.

In June 1971 the International Court of Justice ruled that South Africa’s presence in Namibia was illegal. The situation became critical when guerrillas from the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) began crossing the border from Angola to attack South African targets in Namibia. The South African government responded by building up defences, attacking Angola, and aiding the rebels who were fighting the Cuban-supported Angolan government. The war continued into the 1980s, when international political and economic pressure finally forced South Africa to take a more conciliatory attitude. US-sponsored peace talks in December 1988 eventually resulted in independence for Namibia.

Strengthening Apartheid

Shortly after the 1958 elections for the House of Assembly, in which the Nationalists increased their seats from 94 to 103, Strijdom died. He was replaced by Hendrik Verwoerd, another uncompromising supporter of apartheid. Black opposition to apartheid, although non-violent, led to numerous incidents and many deaths, most notably the Sharpeville massacre in March 1960, when 67 blacks were killed. After this, the government declared a state of emergency. Thousands of blacks were arrested, and their political parties—the ANC and the recently organized Pan-African Congress (PAC)—were banned.

On October 5 an all-white referendum in the Union decided that South Africa should become a republic. In general elections held on October 18 Verwoerd’s National Party retained power. On May 31, 1961, the country officially became the Republic of South Africa. It also withdrew from the Commonwealth of Nations.

In 1962 the government, determined to maintain segregation, passed the so-called “sabotage act”, which outlawed most forms of political opposition. The ANC and the PAC decided that change through non-violent methods was no longer possible, and the groups began to organize armed resistance to the regime. In 1964 Mandela, at the Rivonia trial, was convicted of sabotage and treason and sentenced to life imprisonment. In the March 1966 elections the National Party increased its majority, but in September Verwoerd was assassinated. His successor, Balthazar J. Vorster, continued the policy of apartheid.

The Black Homelands
As part of its strategy to divide the majority population, the government took steps in the 1960s to establish ten “self-governing” Bantustans, or black homelands. One black African group would predominate in each of the homelands, which were Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Gazankulu, KaNgwane, KwaNdebele, KwaZulu, Lebowa, Qwaqwa, Transkei, and Venda. Although they were called self-governing, the homelands were in fact entirely dependent on the national government. Also, only 13 per cent of the land was set aside for the homelands, which was incapable of sustaining 75 per cent of the country’s population. Thus, most blacks continued to live in “white areas”.

The vast majority of those who lived on the homelands commuted to the white areas to work. The homelands policy eventually culminated in the granting of “independence” to Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, and Venda between 1976 and 1981. The international community, however, denied recognition to these “independent” homelands. The most populous of the other homelands was KwaZulu; its head, Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, opted to work within the apartheid structure by presiding over a “self-governing” homeland. Through his Inkatha Freedom Party, formed in 1975, he promoted Zulu nationalism.

In 1975 the nearby Portuguese possessions of Angola and Mozambique became independent under revolutionary leaders, and the United States began to put pressure on South Africa to change its policies. Vorster agreed to relax his government’s support of the white-minority regime in Rhodesia, but the apartheid policy was not altered.

The Soweto Massacre

In June 1976 major clashes with the police occurred when some 10,000 schoolchildren at Soweto, near Johannesburg, protested against the enforced use of Afrikaans, in addition to English, in their schools. Hundreds of children were killed in an incident that shocked international opinion and did much to reinforce the growth of the sanctions movement. Although the requirement was dropped, the protest had unleashed deeper grievances among the black population, and Soweto experienced rioting, arson, and killings that later spread to other areas and to the Coloured population. Continuing in 1977, the unrest prompted more repressive police measures that culminated in September, when Stephen Biko, founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, died after mistreatment while in police custody.

Reform and Resistance
Prime Minister Vorster resigned in 1978. His successor, Pieter Willem Botha, continued the black homelands policy but moved towards constitutional reforms that strengthened the presidency and, for the first time, allowed Coloureds and Asians to sit in parliament. The new constitution, which took effect in 1984, still denied blacks any part in the political process in South Africa (except through the homelands). This exclusion led to increased opposition, urged on by the ANC in exile, in alliance with the United Democratic Front at home, in the black townships.

The government responded by declaring a state of emergency and imposing press controls in July 1985. The state of emergency was initially restricted to 36 districts, but in June 1986 a national state of emergency was declared. Battles between blacks and police in the ensuing years resulted in many hundreds of deaths. More died in warfare between the Inkatha Freedom Party and adherents of the ANC, especially in Natal.
Sanctions

In the mid-1980s the United States and the European Community (now the European Union) imposed sanctions against South Africa. Subsequent diplomatic pressure, in part the result of the international anti-apartheid campaign, forced Botha to begin a slow dismantling of apartheid. Botha was also influenced by increasing opposition from within South Africa, and by the defeat of South African troops in Angola in 1988 by Cuban and Angolan forces. The decision to bring an end to apartheid caused many whites to defect from the National Party to more right-wing parties and groups. In failing health, Botha resigned in 1989. F. W. de Klerk, his successor, continued the policy of eliminating apartheid.

Calling for a negotiated settlement of South Africa’s racial and political problems, in February 1990 de Klerk ended a 30-year ban on the ANC and released its leader, Nelson Mandela, from prison. The negotiation process proved to be long and difficult. De Klerk’s National Party was unwilling at first to completely transfer rule to the country’s black majority, and tried vigorously to institute minority veto power over majority decisions. The ANC then staged general strikes and other non-violent protests to try to force the Nationalists to change their position on this issue.

Inter-Ethnic Violence
At the same time threats were being uttered by far-right white extremists, and by Buthelezi, promising violent destabilization of the country if they did not receive their varying demands—in Buthelezi’s case a semi-independent Zulu state. During this period, inter-ethnic violence reached new heights, and many thousands of people were killed. Eventually, as a result of compromises by both the de Klerk and Mandela sides, an agreement was reached on November 13, 1993, pledging the institution of a non-racial, non-sexist, unified, and democratic South Africa based on the principle of “one person, one vote”.
Full Democracy and Majority Rule

The first free elections in South Africa’s history were held from April 26 to 29, 1994. The ANC scored a clear victory, and Mandela was inaugurated as the country’s first black president on May 10, 1994. De Klerk was appointed second deputy president; senior ANC official Thabo Mbeki was first deputy president; and Buthelezi became home affairs minister. In June South Africa rejoined the Commonwealth of Nations.

The new government moved quickly to address the key concerns of the black majority—health, housing, education, and jobs. Details of a Reconstruction and Development Programme were announced in May—but implementation was likely to be a long and slow business. The other priority of President Mandela was national reconciliation—all his speeches stressed the need to maintain national unity. However, black frustration at the slow pace of change led to an increase in the number of strikes.

Buthelezi was initially preoccupied in a power struggle with the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, but in early 1995 tensions with the ANC resurfaced, threatening the stability of the government, and leading to a resurgence of inter-ethnic violence in KwaZulu-Natal. In May 1995 Buthelezi left the government.

The first draft of a new national constitution, to be implemented from 1999, was published in November, while Archbishop Desmond Tutu was appointed to head a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights abuses by both sides during the apartheid years. Suspicions of collusion between Inkatha and right-wing elements in the police force were reignited by an Inkatha attack on Shobashobane village on Christmas Day, 1995, in which 19 ANC supporters previously disarmed by the police were killed; further attacks in January 1996 heightened public concern.

Following a Supreme Court ruling in February 1996, black pupils were registered at the overwhelmingly white Potgietersrus Primary School in Northern Province with heavy police protection, after the school had tried to deny them places; most local white families promptly boycotted the school. F. W. de Klerk took his National Party out of Mandela’s government in May 1996, citing differences with Mandela and the need for the National Party to rebuild its electoral appeal. In 1997 South Africa offered to sponsor peace talks between the president of Zaïre (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), Mobutu Sese Seko, and the rebel leader, Laurent Kabila. They were cancelled after Mr Kabila insisted on holding them in international waters. South Africa’s mediation efforts continued until Zaïre’s capital, Kinshasa, fell to the rebels led by Kabila in May 1997. In June 1997 Eugene Terre Blanche, the white supremacist leader, was sentenced to six years in prison for attempted murder of a black African he had previously employed.

In late 1997 Winnie Mandela was brought before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission following allegations of involvement in human rights violations. Former ministers in the National Party government were also accused. The killers of Steve Biko, having been granted an amnesty, gave evidence to the commission, divulging the details of his death. Former prime minister P. W. Botha, subpoenaed a number of times, refused to speak before the commission.

A new party, the United Democratic Movement, was formed in September 1997. Its founding members had previously belonged to the ANC and National Party. At the ANC Conference in December, Mandela stepped down as leader of the party. Thabo Mbeki was subsequently elected.
Change, Memory and Reconciliation

In February 1998 a successor to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was announced. The Institute for Change, Memory, and Reconciliation will research the final report of the commission and help in the implementation of its recommendations. In September South Africa sent troops into Lesotho in support of the government, which was troubled by protests over corrupt elections and an army mutiny. Heavy fighting devastated the capital Maseru and the rebels retreated to the mountains. Over 60 people were killed in the initial fighting and the South African troops remained in Lesotho until April 1999. In October Desmond Tutu handed the final report of the Truth Commission to President Mandela. The ANC had attempted to block its publication, objecting to references to human rights abuses by its own members. In April 1999 Mandela announced the general election would be held on June 2.

In the June general elections, the ANC strengthened its position in the assembly. The party received 66 per cent of the vote, but was one seat short of holding the two-thirds majority required to rewrite the constitution. The ANC formed a coalition with the Indian-led Minority Front, which held one seat, and so assumed the majority. Thabo Mbeki succeeded Nelson Mandela as president.

In September a tourist coach crashed in Mpumalanga, north-eastern South Africa, killing 26 tourists. South Africa has a high road death toll, with an estimated 15,000 people killed every year in road accidents. A bomb exploded in a Cape Town restaurant in November, killing 40 people. Leaders of an Islamic vigilante group were later arrested in connection with the restaurant bombing and over 80 other bomb attacks.

In 2000 and 2001 President Mbeki began a number of visits to world leaders including Bill Clinton in Washington, D.C. and Fidel Castro in Cuba. He also received Chinese leader Jiang Zemin in 2000 and Yoshiri Mori, Japanese prime minister, in 2001. In April 2001, South Africa’s worst sporting disaster took place at the Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg when overcrowding at a football match resulted in 43 deaths. In 2003 the country co-hosted the 2003 Cricket World Cup.
ANC Consolidates Power

In October 2002 a number of bomb attacks were carried out in Soweto and in the vicinity of Pretoria by right-wing white extremists. Twenty-two men thought to be members of “Boeremag”, an underground racist group, were put on trial for treason in June 2003.

The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu was presented to parliament in March 2003. In April 2003 President Mbeki announced that those identified by the Commission as the victims of apartheid would receive a reparation payment.

In May 2003 Walter Sisulu, the veteran anti-apartheid leader, died at the age of 91. Sisulu was imprisoned for 26 years alongside Nelson Mandela and other key leaders of the anti-apartheid struggle.

In March 2003 the ANC tightened its hold on power with the defection of nine opposition members to its ranks, following a change in the law allowing defection during a two-week period, without having to seek a fresh electoral mandate. The defections increased the ANC’s representation in parliament to 275 out of 400 members.

In the run-up to parliamentary elections in April 2004, President Mbeki launched the ANC’s campaign by pointing to the government’s achievements throughout a decade of progress. Opposition parties criticized the level of media coverage given to the launch of the ANC’s campaign. On April 14, the ANC won a landslide victory with nearly 70 per cent of the popular vote, taking 279 of the 400 seats in parliament. President Mbeki was sworn in for his second and final term of office on April 27.
 
 
HE Mr Geoff Doidge
Head of Mission
 
 
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