Historians point to the Wiehahn Commission's recommendations that changed South Africa's labour legislation as one of the most important steps in the peaceful transformation of a country widely tipped for a bloody civil war. In this chapter we hear of how Cyril Ramaphosa met the man who was to become his ally at the National Union of Mineworkers, James Motlatsi, and combined efforts with other agents for change. And track the development of CR's negotiating skills as he mouled the National Union of Mineworkers into a potent force that confronted the all-powerful Chamber of Mines.
Season 1 / Episode 10
20 Sep 2020
Read by Alec Hogg
Government · History
The road to talks had been long and winding. Throughout the 1980's, powerful forces pushed by leaders of the ANC and the NP towards negotiation. By the time FW de Klerk seized the state presidency in late 1989, there had been a wide variety of contracts between liberation movement leaders…
As a result of Ramaphosa's skilful management of the release and reception of Robben Island prisoners, he was now something less of an ANC outsider. He was still just a trade union leader with a limited UDF base, regarded as a 'Johnny-come-lately' by many exile and Robben Island grandees. Yet,…
At the end of the 1980's, popular unrest swept the country. In reaction, the besieged National Party (NP) desperately used state coercion to contain a growing crescendo of protest. Many of its leaders now recognised that a negotiated settlement, on its own terms, was the only way to avert disaster.
In this chapter, Cosatu was widely and immediately recognised by liberation movement exiles as a triumph. Resolutions adopted at the inaugural congress - including demands for the withdrawal of troops from townships, the release of political prisoners, the unbanning of illegal movements and parties, and the imposition of economic sanctions…
In this chapter, while the developments suggested that a change of regime would one day become inescapable, organised political opposition was required to close down the National Party's avenues for evasion and delay. In this 1980s endgame of the struggle against apartheid, domestic rather international actors played the decisive role.