When President F.W. de Klerk announced the unbanning of the liberation movements on 2 February 1990, he opened the door to negotiations that would end apartheid and pave the way to democracy. But how did this moment come about? What power struggles and secret talks had brought the country to this point?
Written by two ANC veterans who were close to these events, Breakthrough sheds new light on the process that led to the formal negotiations. The book focuses in particular on the years 1984–1990 and on the skirmishes that took place in the shadows, away from the public glare, as the principal adversaries engaged in a battle of positions that carved a pathway to the negotiating table. Drawing from material in the prison files of Nelson Mandela, minutes of the meetings of the ANC Constitutional Committee, the NWC and the NEC, notes about the Mells Park talks led by Professor Willie Esterhuyse and Thabo Mbeki, communications between Oliver Tambo and Operation Vula, the Kobie Coetsee Papers, the Broederbond archives and numerous other sources, the authors piece together a compelling narrative of events.
Breakthrough demonstrates that the events that preceded the formal talks of 1990–1994 are crucial for a full understanding of South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy.