Several factors over the course of time led to the eventual fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa. While, the election and establishment of the first democratic government in South Africa marked the end and the formal conclusion to the apartheid rule, the events leading up to this election are the primary factors that caused this foregone conclusion and its ultimate collapse.  On May 9, 1994, Nelson Mandela was unanimously elected president of South Africa by the national assembly, formally ending apartheid rule in the country. Leading up to this historical event are a series of steps that helped shape the future of this non-apartheid ruled country. In 1983 group called the “United Democratic Front” was formed. Also known as the “UDF”, the United Democratic Front was a major anti-apartheid organization made up of multiracial community activists including unions, churches and neighborhood associations possessing the slogan of “UDF Unites, Apartheid Divides.” This was the people of South Africa uniting against this discriminatory rule they had been facing for decades. The goal of the United Democratic front was to establish a “wanted to establish a true democracy in which all South Africans could participate and create a single, non-racial, unfragmented South Africa”(United Democratic Front). They administered many protests and boycotts in attempt to show their displeasure towards the apartheid state. Not only did backlash of the government come from within the state, but internationally as well. In the years 1984-1985, more than ninety United States companies pulled out of South Africa. Amongst those being Citibank , who declared that it would make no new loans to the South African government due to their disagreement with the apartheid rule and regulations. Another huge american company, Chase Manhattan Bank, also strongly disagreed with the policies and caused a major financial crisis in South Africa by refusing to roll over its short-term loans until changes in government and policy were made. Globally, censure and sanctions tightened and even several European countries recalled their ambassadors from the apartheid ruled state. These foreign companies and global nations voicing and showing their disagreement with apartheid rule definitely put pressure on the country as a whole and were absolutely a factor in the eventual dismantle of the apartheid government. A change in power of the state was another primary factor into the eventual dismantling of apartheid rule. In 1989, P.W. Botha resigned as the leader of the National Party in South Africa after having a stroke and was succeeded by de Frederik Willem de Klerk. Botha was the Prime Minister of South Africa for four years and his rule was considered a “gradual” evolution towards a non-apartheid ruled country.  This switch of power head, although, had a huge effect on the future end of apartheid and was on of the biggest factors that led to the foregone conclusion of the collapse of apartheid. F.W. de Klerk brought a brand new change in policy to the state. His goal was to to create a suitable climate for negotiations that would eventually lead to the end of apartheid and bring a new,” one person, one vote” type of constitutional format to South Africa. Frederik Willem de Klerk even went as far as to meet with the imprisoned leader of the African National Congress , Nelson Mandela. After this meeting de Klerk lifted the bans placed on the ANC, SACP and the PAC from previous presidential tenures. He also lifted bans on upwards of thirty more organizations previously banned under apartheid rule. Along with these bans, de Klerk repealed several major apartheid laws including the Population Registration Act. F.W. de Klerk eventually began to have meetings and negotiations with Mandela and various other party leaders to try to come to a conclusion on how to end apartheid for good. These negotiations and meetings led to Prime Minister Frederik Willem de Klerk finally agreeing to hold democratic elections for the country of South Africa. These elections, held in April of 1994, are when Nelson Mandela was finally elected as the first President of South Africa by the National Assembly. Thus finally putting into place the first democratic government in South African history. During these four days of polling, nearly nineteen million South Africans, roughly 91 percent of registered voters, cast their ballots(HIST 222 Lecture, Wk 11: “The Collapse of Apartheid.”) which shows how many people truly wanted this change. Along with this new President led democratic government, international companies and countries also removed their bans and boycotts towards the previously apartheid led country and once again interacted,loaned,traded, etc. with South Africa. This election was the final straw in what had been decades of revolt against the apartheid regime. Although this final event changed the country for good, it is clear that many factors leading up to this historical event are just as important to the cause. For upwards of fifty years, the apartheid regime ruled South Africa, and over those years hundreds of protests and boycotts were put in place by groups that opposed this rule. Leading many to believe that this end of apartheid was a foregone, or inevitable conclusion. The factors previously stated in this essay are the events that I believe had the greatest effect on this eventual dismantling of government. State led organizations, international boycotts, and obviously change of leadership/power all had great effects on the eventual establishment of democratic government.


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