Ending the armed struggle


Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

In the latter part of his imprisonment Nelson Mandela made overtures towards the apartheid regime when he thought the time was right. He was not negotiating, but he was talking to them about the conditions for actual talks between the ruling National Party and the African National Congress. Once he was released from prison on 11 February 1990 he and his colleagues began meeting with the regime. This paved the way for the full-blown multi-party talks at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) which began on 20 December 1991 and ended in 1993 when the date for South Africa’s first democratic elections was announced. Here he talks about the ending of the armed struggle in August 1990.

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  • Title: Ending the armed struggle
  • Date: 1993-04-22/1993-04-22, 1993-04-22/1993-04-22
  • Original Language: English, English
  • Transcript: STENGEL: Then you had the meeting in August with De Klerk. MANDELA: On the 6th of August. STENGEL: On the 6th of August. Now that was a very significant. MANDELA: Yes. STENGEL: Result. Had that been negotiated you know by your various seconds before the Pretoria Minute was actually signed about the ending of the armed struggle or, the suspension of the armed struggle? MANDELA: No, in July I think it was the 24th of July, we had a meeting of the National Executive and Joe Slovo had suggested to me before the meeting that we should suspend armed action and his argument was that this would give De Klerk something to take to whites to say to them, ‘look at the positive results of negotiations. We have been able now, Umkhonto weSizwe has on its own voluntarily decided to suspend armed action in order to contribute towards the creation of an atmosphere of a climate ideal for a peaceful solution. At first I was not happy about this but when I thought about it at night I thought this was a good tactic and I accepted it and I told Joe that if he raises the matter in the National Executive I’ll support him. That is how the suspension of Umkhonto we Sizwe originated. STENGEL: Really? MANDELA: And we debated the matter, of course there were differences in opinion, but the point of view of Joe was eventually upheld. STENGEL: So he approached you privately first? MANDELA: Well first. STENGEL: Right. MANDELA: Which is a natural thing for any understanding person you do see the president before time and exchange views and make sure that you can secure, be sure of his support. And because any comrade who comes to me with a good idea, I listen to it, I think about it beforehand and I go to the meeting you know with digested views. And so Joe, you know adopted that approach and came to see me. STENGEL: And you and he managed to persuade the others because. MANDELA: Yes, no. STENGEL: Some people were quite opposed to that. MANDELA: Yes, quite, but we have got a great team, although people were opposed to it initially, once the matter was debated, was properly explained to them, we had no problems. I think we could have taken just about two hours to dispose of a matter of principle like that. Yes. STENGEL: Really? And also it put the ANC on the moral high-ground in a way. MANDELA: Yes, quite, yes. Yes quite.
  • Type: Audio
  • Subjects: Umkhonto weSizwe, Umkhonto weSizwe
  • Repository: Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
  • Reference code: ZA COM NMPP-2009/57-56-2, ZA COM NMPP-2009/57-56-2
  • Immediate source of acquisition or transfer: Rick Stengel, Rick Stengel
  • Extent and Medium: 1 audio clip In-point: 27:10 Out-point: 30:38, 1 audio clip In-point: 27:10 Out-point: 30:38
  • Creator: Rick Stengel; Nelson Mandela, Rick Stengel; Nelson Mandela
  • Conditions governing reproduction: Copyright held by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Copyright held by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
  • Conditions governing access: Access by permission of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Access by permission of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
  • Collection: Rick Stengel interviews, Rick Stengel interviews