10th May 1994: Nelson Mandela became the first president of a democratic South Africa, ending three hundred and forty-two (342) years of oppressive, brutal and unjust white rule.
“Never, Never Again will this beautiful land experience the oppression of one by another,” he said at the inauguration ceremony which took place in the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
South Africa’s transition was to be described as a miracle – it was peaceful. The oppressor and the oppressed had sat across from each other and decided the way forward.
As history will now attest, this was one of the most unbalanced, unequal and unfair negotiated settlements, central to which was the iconic figure of President Nelson Mandela. As we now know, there were a lot of behind-the-scenes manoeuvrings between corporates and their international partners which saw the ANC make many guarantees for whites in what was to be known as the Sunset Clauses.
Sampie Terreblanche’s most famous work “A History of Inequality in South Africa 1652-2002 refers to among others, the compromises made by the ANC, and the importance of regaining sovreign freedom. Terreblanche observes: “The ANC’s core leaders effectively sold its sovereign freedom to implement an independent and appropriate socio-economic policy for a mess of potage when it entered into several compromises with the corporate sector and its global partners. These unfortunate transactions must be retracted or renegotiated.”
When Mandela was released from prison on 11 February 1990, he said: The white monopoly of political power must be ended and we need a fundamental restructuring of our political and economic systems to address the inequalities of apartheid and create a genuine democratic South Africa” – and we know that this is a dream yet to be realised.