Monday 11 December 2017

Apartheid ended; suffering didn't

Ivan Fallon is correct when he writes that early February 1990 was a momentous day in South African politics ('Shackles of apartheid torn off in one pivotal moment', Irish Independent, February 2).

However, the negotiations that preceded the elections in 1994 ensured that the post-election economic system continued to safeguard white privilege, did little to improve the lot of the impoverished masses, and permitted the ascension of a black middle class to provide a fig leaf of respectability. Thus, Nelson Mandela could be released, elections could be held (with heart-warming photos of long, racially mixed, queues of voters on election day), and South Africa could be welcomed back to the family of nations with little sacrifice necessary on the part of the ruling classes.

The tactics of the white rulers during negotiations, and the lack of economists on the ANC negotiating team, ensured that the new South Africa was tied into trade deals, debt servicing and, unbelievably, paying generous pensions to the soldiers and police of the apartheid era.

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