Dating SA's democracy

2004-04-22 16:00
Johannesburg - Key dates in South Africa since the first non-racial elections in 1994, ending more than three centuries of white domination and 46-years of apartheid rule:

1994

April 26-29: An overwhelming victory for the former freedom movement, the African National Congress (ANC), in the first democratic elections. The ANC is led by Nelson Mandela, a struggle icon whom apartheid rulers imprisoned for 27-years (1962-1990). The ANC won 62.6% of the vote ahead of the National Party (NP) led by outgoing president Frederik de Klerk.

May 10: Mandela is inaugurated as the first black president. The ANC's Thabo Mbeki and De Klerk are sworn in as his deputies and a government of national unity is established (including the ANC, NP and the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party led by Mangosuthu Buthelezi.)

June 23: South Africa is readmitted to the United Nations after 20 years of exclusion.

1995

June 6: Abolition of the death penalty.

June 24: The Springboks win the 1995 Rugby World Cup, a poignant moment in South Africa's history when black and white united in celebrations as Mandela, wearing a Springbok jersey, handed the cup to skipper Francois Pienaar.

Dec 5: Establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) tasked with investigating human rights violations between 1960 and 1994.

1996

July 1: The NP walks out of the government of national unity - the first time since 1948 that the NP is not part of the government.

Dec 10: Nelson Mandela ratifies the new constitution proclaiming a non-racial and multi-party democracy after two years of rough negotiations.

1997

Aug 26: De Klerk retires from politics.

Dec 16: Nelson Mandela quits the presidency of the ANC at its 50th annual congress and hands over to Mbeki.

1999

June 2: Second democratic elections and end of Mandela's one-term presidency. The ANC obtains 266 of the 400 seats in the National Assembly.

June 16: Mbeki inaugurated as head of state.

2001

July 24: Mandela announces that has undergone radiotherapy for prostate cancer - treatment which he declares in 2002 was successful.

Oct 19: First conviction after a wave of terrorism in the Cape region by the Islamic militant group Pagad (People Against Gangsterism and Crime). Two members are imprisoned for 30-years for a 1998 bomb attack. Between 1996 and 2000, about 150 crude bombs exploded in the Cape killing a handful of people.

November 27: The ANC and the New National Party announce that they have entered into a coalition agreement.

2002

April 25: Internet whizz-kid Mark Shuttleworth becomes the first "Afronaut" aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule.

June 1: Disgraced former cricket captain Hansie Cronje - found to have taken bribes - dies in a plane crash.

July 9: The Organisation of African Unity gives way to the African Union at a summit in Durban. Mbeki becomes the first president of the Pan-African body, which adopts Nepad (the New Partnership for Africa's Development) as a plan to revive the continent with the help of the developed world.

August 26 - Sept 4: Johannesburg hosts the Earth Summit, grouping around 100 heads of state examining options for the planet's future.

Dec 16 - 20: Mbeki re-elected uncontested as ANC leader for another five years which means he will serve a second term as the president.

Dec 17: Signature in Pretoria of a peace accord for the Democratic Republic of Congo - the culmination of several years of negotiations facilitated by South Africa to bring peace to the vast central African country.

2003

March 21: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu makes its final report after seven years of hearings. About 22 000 victims are identified while more than 1 200 amnesties are granted and 5 500 refused. In April, President Mbeki announces compensation of around $4 000 to victims identified by the TRC.

May 5: Walter Sisulu, a pillar of the anti-apartheid struggle and intimate friend of Nelson Mandela, dies.

April 4: The ANC achieves a historical two-thirds majority after passing a controversial law that allows politicians to defect to other parties during a 15-day window period without losing their seats. Political analysts assure voters that the ANC cannot change the constitution without the approval of the Constitutional Court.

Oct 29: The first treason trial since 1994 starts. A group of 22 white Afrikaner extremists are accused of plotting to overthrow the government and assassinate Mandela after bomb blasts rock the Johannesburg township of Soweto, killing one woman.

Nov 19: The government approves a long-awaited national treatment plan for Aids sufferers which includes the provision of antiretroviral drugs. South Africa has one of the highest Aids rates in the world with 5.3 million people out of a population of 44.8 million estimated to be infected.

Dec 18: Mbeki meets with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Mbeki, who has been criticised for his softly-softly approach toward Mugabe, says the two parties have agreed to enter into talks.

2004

Jan 20: The national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka is cleared of charges by fellow ANC members that he had spied for the apartheid government.

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