The period between Nelson Mandela’s release from 27 years in prison in 1990 and South Africa’s first post-apartheid elections in 1994 was extremely fraught. Afrikaner hard-liners were determined to derail the process of apartheid repeal, but there was also dissension amongst the various representatives of the black majority. In particular the Freedom Alliance, headed by the Zulu leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, combined with the rulers of the ten self-governing ‘bantustans’, was suspicious of the Xhosa-dominated African National Congress (ANC) led by Mandela. In the event, the strong collaboration between outgoing leader F.W. de Klerk and Mandela, coupled with strong support from the international community, including the withdrawal of crippling sanctions, carried the day. The election proceeded with little violence or accusations of abuse. As expected, the ANC won a commanding victory, with 62 per cent of the vote. A government of national unity was formed between the ANC, de Klerk’s National Party and Buthelezi’s Inkatha Freedom Party.
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