Nelson Mandela Timeline 1990-1999

with constitutional arrangements deadlocks when the African National Congress (ANC) and the government cannot reach agreement on certain constitutional principles. Codesa's management committee is asked to find a way out of the log-jam.

2 February, At the opening of parliament FW de Klerk surprised everyone by unbanning all political parties, including the South African Communist Party, and the release of all political prisoners not guilty of violent crimes.
11 February, Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison.
19 February, Nelson Mandela was issued with his first South African passport on 19 February 1990, 8 days after he was released from prison. It was this passport (with his second name "Rolihlahla" spelt incorrectly as "Rolilahla") that he used to embark on a tour of some of the African states that had supported the South African liberation struggle, including Zambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.
March, Mandela travelled to Lusaka to meet the ANC's national executive committee. He then travelled to Sweden to meet the ANC President Oliver Tambo, but cut short the rest of his proposed trip abroad as a result of increased unrest within South Africa
16 April, Mandela made an appearance at the International Tribute for a Free South Africa charity concert in Wembley, London.
2 May, African National Congress (ANC) and government teams met at Groote Schuur. Mandela headed the ANC delegation.
June, Nelson Mandela began a six-week tour of Europe, the United Kingdom, North America and Africa. His reception by heads of state, and hundreds of thousands of citizens of the countries he visited, confirmed his stature as an internationally respected leader
July, Nelson Mandela attended the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but has to leave for Kenya when he contracted pneumonia.
29 July, The South African Communist Party (SACP) is relaunched at the Soweto Stadium with a crowd of 50 000 - in the following fifteen months the SACP membership shoots up to 25 000 at a time when communist parties around the world are in decline
August, Talks between the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African government resume and in the same month Mandela visited Norway. This is followed by visits to Zambia, India and Australia.
21 August, The Pretoria Minute is signed which proclaimed that the ANC would suspend all armed activity
December, A Cabinet 'bosberaad' (council) is held at a game lodge to discuss the Harare Declaration and the release of Mandela.
24 December, Mandela receives an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from Jadavpur University in India.
29 January, A summit meeting between the ANC and IFP is held in Durban. Mandela met Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the Royal Hotel in Durban for 8 hours and agreed to promote peace.This is the first time that Mandela and Buthelezi meet in thirty years.
February, Mandela met again with Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, President of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), in an attempt to put an end to the violence sweeping through Natal and the Transvaal. However, despite their pledges to work towards peace, the violence continued. Mandela issued an ultimatum to the government, setting a deadline by which it has to end the violence, and fire the Ministers of Defence and Law and Order. He indicated that the African National Congress (ANC) will quit the negotiation process if these demands were not met. However, the government failed to meet these demands.
April, Mandela attended a meeting between the ANC and the Pan African Congress in Harare where they resolved to work together to oppose apartheid. A joint sub-committee was established to approach the European Community to reverse its decision to lift bans on steel imports from South Africa. The meeting also resolved to convene a conference of anti-apartheid organisation to support the demand for a national constituent assembly
1 April, Mandela met Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi and raised his distrust of F W de Klerk.
June, Mandela attended the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit in Abuja, Nigeria, after which he travel to the United Kingdom and Belgium.
July, The ANC conference was held in Durban and Nelson Mandela was elected ANC president, succeeding an ailing Oliver Tambo.
2 July, The African National Congress (ANC) held its first national conference in 30 years inside the country in Durban, with over 2 000 delegates and elected a new National Executive. Nelson Mandela is elected as President of the organisation, succeeding an ailing Oliver Tambo .
August, Nelson Mandela travelled to South America.
September, Mandela signed the National Peace Accord on behalf of the African National Congress (ANC). This agreement between a number of political organisations, including the ANC, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the National Party (NP), established structures and procedures to attempt to end political violence, which had become widespread.
October, A meeting of the Patriotic Front is held in Durban in an attempt to bring together all anti-apartheid groupings in the country. All attend with the exception of Azanian People's Organisation (Azapo). Policy regarding future negotiations was formulated and the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan African Congress (PAC) began preparatory meetings for the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa). However, the PAC cannot see it's way clear to participating in the convention.
November, Mandela travelled to West Africa.
December, The first meeting of Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa), set up to negotiate procedures for constitutional change, was held. At the end of the plenary session, after F W de Klerk raised the question of disbanding Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), Mandela delivered a scathing personal verbal attack on him. Mandela argues that even the head of an illegitimate, discredited minority regime should have certain moral standards'.
Mandela met United States President, George Bush.
8 January, Mandela celebrated the 80th birthday of the ANC with iconic ANC struggle veterans such as Oliver Tambo.
Mandela received a joint award with F W de Klerk in Spain - the Prince of the Asturias Prize for International Co-operation.
February, Mandela continued his programme of extensive international travel, visiting Tunisia, Libya and Morocco. He and State President F W de Klerk jointly accepted the UNESCO Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize in Paris on 3 February. At the same time the two men attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
13 April, Mandela called a press conference at which he stated that he and his wife, Winnie Mandela, have agreed to separate as a result of differences, which had arisen between them in recent months. Later in April Mandela, F W de Klerk and Mangosuthu Buthelezi addressed a gathering of more than a million members of the Zion Christian Church at Moria, near Pietersburg, and commited themselves to end the ongoing violence and move speedily towards a political settlement.
While visiting the Scandinavian countries and Czechoslovakia in May, Mandela suggested that F W de Klerk is personally responsible for the political violence in South Africa. He likened the violence in South Africa to the killing of Jews in Nazi Germany. Mandela also criticised what he felt is the stranglehold imposed on the South African press, which represented White-owned conglomerates. He did express support for critical, independent and investigative press.
June, By 16 June (Soweto Day) no progress had been made and the African National Congress (ANC) called for a mass action campaign to put pressure on the South African government. Following the Boipatong massacre massacre of 17 June 1992, Mandela indicated that negotiations with the government would not resume until ANC demands for an election to a constituent assembly, a transitional government, and state steps to end political violence were met. At the end of June 1992 Mandela addresses the Heads of States Summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Dakar, Senegal. As a result, the OAU agrees to raise the issue of South Africa's political violence at the United Nations .
July, Mandela and representatives of other South African parties addressed the UN Security Council. Mandela asked the UN to provide continuous monitoring of the violence, and submitted documents, that he claimed, proved the 'criminal intent', of the government, both in the instigation of violence and in failing to halt it. He maintained that the government is conducting a '...cold-hearted strategy of state terror to impose its will on negotiations'.
Mandela visited the Olympic Games in Barcelona, where a South African team was participating for the first time in 30 years. On his return to South Africa, he involved himself in the African National Congress's (ANC) mass action campaign calling for disciplined and peaceful protest.
Following violent incidents between African National Congress (ANC) supporters in the Transvaal, Mandela admitted that the organisation had disciplinary problems with some of its followers, particularly in township self-defence units. He promises to take action against those who abuse positions of power and authority.
He indicates that the ANC has shifted its economic thinking, particularly with regard to nationalisation. This is no longer viewed as an ideological imperative, but merely as one of the policy options. He continued to stress the need to redress economic imbalances, but noted that the ANC was aware of both local and international business hostility towards nationalisation.
September, Mandela indicated that he is prepared to meet F W de Klerk on condition that he agreed to the fencing off of hostels, the banning of the public display of dangerous weapons and the release of political prisoners. They met at the end of the month and these bi-lateral talks resulted in the signing of a Record of Understanding by the two leaders, which enabled negotiations to be resumed.
Mandela won the Philadelphia Liberty Medal (USA)
April, Following the assassination of the South African Communist Party (SACP) leader, Chris Hani, Mandela again called for restraint, discipline and peace, but at a rally in Soweto's Jabulani Stadium a militant crowd boos him when he tries to convey a message of peace in the wake of the killing.
May, Mandela causes a political row when he suggested that South Africa's voting age should be lowered to enable 14-year old children to vote. However, he is persuaded to accept that only people aged 18 or more can vote in the April 1994 elections.
2 May, Mandela honoured Oliver Tambo at his funeral.
July-December, Mandela campaigned on behalf of the African National Congress (ANC) for the 1994 election and addressed a large number of rallies and people's forums. At the same time, he continued to attempt to draw the Freedom Alliance partners (White right wing groups, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Bophuthatswana and Ciskei governments) into the election process.
September, While on a visit to the United States of America, Mandela urged world business leaders to lift economic sanctions and to invest in South Africa.
December, Mandela was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with former president F W de Klerk in Norway
Mandela continued the campaign from the previous year, however he ruled out the possibility of delaying the election date to accommodate them.
Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, was first published.
March, Following a civil uprising in Bophuthatswana, which leads to a downfall of the Mangope government, Mandela guaranteed striking civil servants their jobs, but harshly criticised the looting that occurs during the unrest.
April, Last minute talks were held in the Kruger Park between Mandela, F W de Klerk , Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini to try to break the deadlock on Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) participation in the elections. The meeting was unsuccessful and is followed by an attempt at international mediation. This, too, failed, but a last minute effort by Kenyan academic, Washington Okumu, brought the IFP back into the election process. Mandela and De Klerk then signed an agreement regarding the future status of the Zulu King.
Mandela contested the election as the head of the African National Congress (ANC) for the National Assembly.
27 April, At Inanda, Durban, Mandela voted in a general election for the first time in his life.
May, The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) announced that the African National Congress (ANC) has won 62% of the national vote. Mandela subsequently indicated he had been relieved that the ANC had not achieved a two-thirds majority in the election, as this would allay fears that it would unilaterally re-write the constitution. He stated that he stands for a government of national unity with each part sharing in the exercise of power.
In Mandela's State-of-the-Nation speech to parliament he announces that R2.5 billion will be allocated in the 1994/95 budget for the government's Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). His pragmatic economic policy is welcomed by business in general.
Mandela continues to draw the right wing into the negotiation process and holds a breakthrough meeting with the leader of Conservative Party (CP), Ferdie Hartzenberg. Negotiations also involve a possible meeting with Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) leader Eugene Terre Blanche.
9 May, Mandela is elected unopposed as President of South Africa in the first session of the National Assembly.
10 May, Nelson Mandela's Presidential inauguration takes place at the Union Buildings in Pretoria . As well as about 100 000 celebrants on the lawns in front of the building, it was the largest gathering of international leaders ever held in South Africa. The ceremony was televised and broadcast internationally. In his inaugural speech Mandela called for a 'time of healing' and states that his government will fight against discrimination of any kind. He pledged to enter into a covenant to build a society in which all South Africans, Black and White, could walk tall without fear, assured of their rights to human dignity 'a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world'.
June, Mandela attends the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit held in Tunis and is appointed second Vice-President of the organisation. The following month he holds talks with his Angolan, Mozambican and Zairian counterparts in an attempt to further peace-making efforts in Angola. UNITA leader, Jonas Savimbi, welcomed his participation in the peace process.
24 June, The ‘Madiba Magic’ played a tremendous role in South Africa winning the Rugby World Cup Trophy for the first time since the tournament’s inception in 1987. Despite strong competition shown by the All Blacks, the final score was 15-12 in favour of South Africa. The South African President, Nelson Mandela, handed the trophy to Springbok Captain, François Pienaar, as Ellis Park Stadium erupted into celebrations.
25 June, South Africa’s two decade long suspension from the General Assembly of the United Nations ended.
July, Mandela underwent eye surgery for a cataract. The operation is complicated by the fact that his tear glands were damaged by the alkalinity of the stone at Robben Island where he had done hard labour breaking rocks
September, Mandela makes a crucial speech at the annual conference of the Congress of South Africa Trade Union (Cosatu) where he calls on the labour movement to transform itself from a liberation movement, to one that would assist in the building of a new South Africa. He warned that workers will lose their jobs if production costs rose because of unnecessary labour unrest and he called on workers to assist in making the ANC's RDP work.
15 January, Mandela spoke at Joe Slovo’s funeral. He argued that ordinary people should guide the formation and implementation of policy.
18 January, At a cabinet meeting, Mandela attacked Deputy President F W de Klerk stating that he did not believe that De Klerk was unaware of the indemnity applications. He goes on to question De Klerk's commitment to the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP).
20 January, At a press conference F W de Klerk maintained that this attack on his integrity and good faith could seriously jeopardise the future of the government of national unity.
April, Mandela fires his estranged wife, Winnie Mandela, from her post as Deputy Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, following a series of controversial issues in which she was involved. She challenged her dismissal in the Supreme Court, claiming that it was unconstitutional. She obtained an affidavit from Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi to the effect that he had not, as a leader of a party in the government of national unity, been consulted about this dismissal. As this is a constitutional requirement, Winnie Mandela is then briefly reinstated before being dismissed again, Mandela having consulted with all party leaders involved in the government of national unity.
May, Following a dispute between the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the African National Congress (ANC) regarding international mediation for the new constitution, Mangosuthu Buthelezi called on Zulus to 'rise and resist' any imposed constitutional dispensation. Mandela accused Buthelezi of encouraging violence and attempting to ferment an uprising against central government. In this context, he threatened to cut off central government funding to KwaZulu Natal, indicating that he would not allow public funds to be used to finance an attempt to overthrow the constitution by violent means. Although a subsequent meeting between the two leaders seems cordial in tone, the matter of mediation remained an unresolved point of conflict.
24 June, The ‘Madiba Magic’ played a tremendous role in South Africa winning the Rugby World Cup Trophy for the first time since the tournament’s inception in 1987. Despite strong competition shown by the All Blacks, the final score was 15-12 in favour of South Africa. The South African President, Nelson Mandela, handed the trophy to Springbok Captain, François Pienaar, as Ellis Park Stadium erupted into celebrations.
19 July, Mandela signed a law into bill creating the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to uncover human rights abuses during the apartheid era.
14 September, Mandela was granted the freedom of the Eastern Cape town of Uitenhage.
11 November, Mandela publically intervened in the Nigerian crisis when he called for the military government, led by Sani Abacha, to be suspended from the Commonwealth. Abacha was responsible for the execution of human rights activists in Nigeria. Nigeria is suspended until 1999 when democratic rule was restored.
2 March: Becomes the first foreigner to address Mali’s Parliament
Mandela and Winnie Mandela divorce.
10 December, Mandela signed the new South African Constitution in Sharpeville.
12 December, Mandela received the freedom of Howick (the town he was arrested in 1962)
Handed over the ANC presidency to Thabo Mbeki at the ANC’s National Congress in Mafikeng
31 October, Mandela attended the coronation of King Letsie III in Maseru, Lesotho.
27 November, Mandela received the freedom of the city of Cape Town.
18 March, Mandela is summoned to appear before court by a committee of the South African Rugby Union to defend his decision to set up the Browde Commission of Inquiry to investigate alleged racism and nepotism in South African rugby at North Gauteng High Court. He is the first head of state to have to defend himself in such a circumstance.
18 July, Nelson Mandela married Graca Machel on his eightieth birthday.
4 September, Mandela bestowed the Order of Good Hope on Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, thanking him for his support in the war against Apartheid. He is specifically grateful for the troops Cuba sends to Angola in the 1970s and 1980s.
February: Gave his last state of the nation address. Steps down as president fulfilling his promise to lead only for one term.
Established the Nelson Mandela Foundation
3 December, Mandela was appointed as the new mediator of Burundi after the death of former Tanzanian president, Julian Nyere.

Last updated : 14-Jul-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 04-Apr-2011