2 February 1990
The announcement by President F.W. de Klerk to release Nelson Mandela and unban the African National Congress (ANC), Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and other liberation movements. This was received with mixed feelings inside and outside Parliament. Black and White South Africans celebrated the news as they were optimistic that the country was taking a turn for equalty. In Cape Town, Archbishop Mpilo Desmond Tutu was at St George's Cathedral with his congregation ready to celebrate an event he considered as the Second Coming.

It is believed that de Klerk’s decision to release Mandela and to unban political parties was the result of the following factors. Firstly, South Africa had been isolated through international trade sanctions to the extent that the South African economy was severely impacted. Coupled with this, the multiple States of Emergency measures enacted by the Apartheid State had consistently failed to combat the ongoing uprisings. Lastly South Africa was almost totally isolated from the international community in terms of cultural and sporting events. This milestone was followed by tension-driven negotiations aimed at transferring power from the white minority to the majority of South Africans.

Though it brought about democracy, this journey was not totally without obstacles. These ranged from intensification of political violence in some parts of South Africa to unilateral declarations by some groups to break away from South Africa and form their own homelands. Some scholars have argued that de Klerk narrowly avoided a civil war that would have been disasterous to the country and the region as a whole. The decision taken by de Klerk was not an easy one, as he faced opposition not only from the political opponents, but also from his own party (the National Party).

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