Why Did the National Party Decide to Begin Negotiations in the years 1985-89?

Botha's reforms and 'total strategy'

  • 'Total Strategy' aimed to use reform in order to stop criticism and unrest 
  • 1985 = Mid of the townships revolt + Western Pressure to phase out apartheid 
  • 1985 = Botha gave a keynote speech  - meant to expand the reform programme but actually articulated a more cautious stance  
  • In some ways, he did continue with reform 
  • 1986 - gov had softened the implementation of many apartheid laws - pass laws were basically abandoned 
  • Gov invested into upgrading some of the townships
  • Went to generals and security forces (lead by Magnus Malan) to restore order and regain momentum 
  • He often bypassed the tricameral government 
  • Created State Security Council - combined cabinet members and senior military officers
  • Some opposition press saw this as coming close to a military takeover 
  • Both insisted on imposing control before more reforms could be made
  • He also made it clear that the reforms were not a step towards democracy 
  • In states of emergency that followed, tens of thousands were arrested
  • Botha became intolerant of his own Party and political opposition and tricameral parliament. 
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Taking total strategy beyond the borders

  • By 1984, Botha had managed to stop ANC support from surrounding African Countries
  • Nambia = under SA direct rule 
  • Lesotho - PM = Leabua Jonathan (1965-86) supported SA at first, then became gradually more independent and eventually supported the ANC openly. 
  • Military in the 80's = used in townships but largely used beyond the borders of SA in pursuit of total strategy 
  • SA was engaged in civil war between Angola and Mozambique
  • Army staged direct raids on ANC houses and bases in Mozambique 
  • South Africa made life in the region of southern Africa very difficult for its enemies through direct intervention and indirect destabilisation 
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International Pressure and economic crisis

  • 1985 - America refused to renew South African loans
  • The currency slumped in 1985 after investors lost faith in Botha
  • Even Regan + conservative US government started to support disinvestment 
  • The movement to free Nelson Mandella from prison was gathering steam 
  • It was backed by the AAM and the ANC in exile 
  • Mandela's popularity became obvious in 1988 when there was an event to celebrate his birthday held at Wembley stadium in London 
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The effect of the state of emergency

  • By the late 1980's, the central South African State could no longer fully control political developments in the homelands and townships 
  • But the ANC, UDF or the youth had the power to threaten white military dominance 
  • Even though the state broadcasting service was controlled by the government, it was hard to totally hide what was going on: political protest
  • Elements within the gov itself admitted from the mid-80's that reform strategy was likely to be inefficient --> Began to explore the possibility of a negotiated settlement (strongly encouraged by Western Power -- US, UK and Germany) 
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The Path to Talks

  • 70's/80's --> Nelson Mandela had been elevated by the AAM 
  • The gov also realised his standing and his authority over prisoners at Robben Island 
  • 1982 - Mandela and Sisulu and 3 others were transferred to Pollsmoor (large general prison in Cape Town) 
  • Plan: give them better conditions and to divide the political prisoners 
  • Mandela was more exposed to news and information and allowed more visitors (1985 this inc British and US emissaries) 
  • January 1985 - Botha offered to release Mandela and other political prisoners IF they agreed to stop violence and the armed struggle and support for political movements that were still committed to violence 
  • Mandela refused - broadcast in a speech read out by his daughter at a UDF rally 
  • Mandela wrote to Coetsee to discuss the possibility of negotiations 
  • 1985, was separated from other prisoners and given own flat. 
  • Botha undermined any possibility of negotiations by attacking ANC bases in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia -  wanted to show the gov was still in control 
  • After this attack, however, Mandela was taken out for a 3-hour meeting with Coetsee 
  • Botha authorised talks with the ANC in exile. 
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The Path to Talks cont

  • From here, pace and density of the talks quicked 
  • Mandela (still imprisoned) met with a committee of 4 gov members almost weekly 
  • He said he spent most of the time explaining the history and values of the ANC
  • Issues for the gov:
  • 1) ANC's commitment to armed struggle 
  • 2) ANC's links with the CP
  • Botha was concerned with what to tell his supporters (e.g. nationalisation of industries, and protection for the rights of minorities) 
  • ANC wanted SA to go forward as a unitary state with a democratically elected government. 
  • NP didn't think this would give enough protection to White minority 
  • NP now lead by de Klerk --> Less concerned with reform and more about damage being done by the conservative breakaway 
  • Throughout the 80's the gov sent mixed messages; banning the UDF and maintaining repression 
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Resistance 1988-89

  • By the late 80's, the UDF were finding it very hard to operate
  • In 1985, trade unionists formed a new national organisation - Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) --> Became the most organised and sustained opposition movement
  • Within this = Union of Mineworkers (organised major strikes in 1987) 
  • Was affiliated with UDF and sympathetic of the ANC but independent organisation 
  • 1989 - the alliance between UDF and COSATU = Mass Democratic Movement (MDM)
  • August 1989 - COSATU staged a new Defiance Campaign to try can kill off segregated facilities and free political prisoners 
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