Today in history: Mandela release announcement

By Drum Digital
10 February 2015

The announcement by President FW de Klerk in parliament on 10 February 1990, that Mandela would be realised unconditionally the next day, took many people by surprise.

10 February, 1990

  This was not the first attempt by the Apartheid government to negotiate the release of Mandela.  As de Klerk's predecessor in parliament, Botha had also offered to release Mandela on condition that he renounce violence. This offer was rejected as the Apartheid government used violence. By 1989 the levels of violence within the country were so great that in certain regions it was comparable to a civil war. This state among others forced the Apartheid government to the bargaining table, as the only outcome of an outright war was total devastation of the country, which was already under pressure from years of isolation (economic and cultural sanctions).

The decision to release Mandela and later other political activists, paved the way for the birth of a Democratic South Africa.


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