Canada assists in all-race elections
For almost 50 years, South Africa was ruled by apartheid — a brutal system of racial separation that kept the nation's black majority in poverty while a white minority held the wealth and power. As unrest grew, South Africa seemed destined for a bloodbath. Canada — like many nations — was slow to react but, by the 1980s, assumed a leading role in forcing economic sanctions against South Africa. Canadian business people, activists and clergy also played parts in bringing about all-race elections in 1994, and a surprisingly peaceful end to apartheid.
• Violence had erupted a month before the election as many in the populous KwaZulu homeland demanded their own Zulu state. Chief Buthelezi's powerful Inkatha Freedom Party initially refused to take part in the elections, but agreed to participate a week before the vote.
• The ANC won by a landslide, with over 62 per cent of the votes. The incumbent National Party received 20 per cent of the votes, Inkatha 10.5 per cent. Four other parties also won seats.
• On May 2, 1994, Nelson Mandela declared an ANC victory. Mandela, 75, became president of a "government of national unity," a constitutionally defined, multi-party government representing all parties that won seats. Outgoing president F.W. de Klerk offered full cooperation and soon became deputy president under Mandela.
• After the election, a new constitution and bill of rights took effect, and a new flag and national anthems were adopted. Nine new all-race provinces came into being.
• From 1995 to 2002, South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) examined the violence and abuses incurred by all sides during apartheid. According to former minister of justice Dullah Omar, the goal was "to enable South Africans to come to terms with their past on a morally accepted basis and to advance the cause of reconciliation." More than 7,000 hearings were held to investigate human rights abuses, support the victims, and sometimes offer amnesty to the perpetrators.
• Free elections were held again in 1999, and again Canada sent election observers. The ANC won again, with 66 per cent of the vote.
• Since 1994, Canada and South Africa have worked closely together on international issues including landmines and nuclear non-proliferation.
• In 2003, Canada provided $20 million per year in developmental assistance. According to the Canadian High Commission in South Africa, Canada's assistance focuses on governance, human resource development, economic development and "support to a civil society."
Program: Canada at Five
Broadcast Date: April 25, 1994
Guest(s): Patrick Case, Richard Deith
Host: Barbara Smith
Reporter: Dick Gordon
Last updated: July 9, 2013
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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