Convention for a Democratic South Africa The Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) was a forum for the negotiations for the end of the apartheid system in South Africa. CODESA took place against a backdrop of political violence in the country, including allegations of a state- sponsored third force destabilising the country. Ultimately, CODESA didn't bring the breakthrough towards a new South Africa. This was achieved later. Initial negotiations The first significant steps towards formal negotiations took place in February 1990 with the unbanning of the African National Congress (ANC) and other banned organisations by State President F.W. de Klerk, and the release of ANC leader Nelson Mandela after 27 years in prison. The negotiations began with a meeting between the African National Congress and the South African government on 4 May 1990 at the presidential residence, Groote Schuur. This resulted in the Groote Schuur Minute, a commitment between the two parties towards the resolution of the existing climate of violence and intimidation as well as the removal of practical obstacles to negotiation including indemnity from prosecution for returning exiles and the release of political prisoners. On 6 August 1990 the South African government and the African National Congress extended the consensus to include several new points. This Pretoria Minute included the suspension of the armed struggle by the ANC and its military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe. The National Peace Accord of September 1991 was a critical step toward formal negotiations. It was signed by representatives of twenty-seven political organisations and national and homeland governments, and prepared the way for the CODESA negotiations. CODESA I The CODESA I plenary session began on 20 December 1991, approximately ten months after the unbanning of political parties and the release of Nelson Mandela. The first session lasted a few days, and working groups were appointed to deal with specific issues. These working groups continued their negotiations over the next month. The negotiations took place at the World Trade Centre in Kempton Park. CODESA participants Nineteen groups were represented at CODESA, including the South African government, the National Party, the African National Congress, the South African Communist Party, the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Democratic Party, the South African Communist Party, the South African Indian Congress, the Coloured Labour Party, the Indian National People's Party and Solidarity Party, and the leaders of the nominally independent bantustans of Transkei, Ciskei, Bophuthatswana and Venda. The right-wing white Conservative Party and the left-wing Pan Africanist Congress boycotted CODESA. Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi personally didn't participate because his demands for additional delegations of the homeland KwaZulu and the Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini were declined. The IFP was therefore represented by Frank Mdlalose at CODESA. In the period between CODESA I and CODESA II in early 1992, the National Party lost three by-elections to the Conservative Party. De Klerk announced that a "whites only" referendum would be held on the issue of reforms and negotiation. The result was a landslide victory for the "yes" side, with over 68% of the voters voting for a continuation of the reforms and negotiations. CODESA II CODESA II (the second plenary session) took place in May 1992. In June 1992, the Boipatong massacre took place, with 46 residents of Boipatong killed by mainly-Zulu hostel dwellers. Mandela accused De Klerk's government of complicity in the attack and withdrew the ANC from the negotiations, leading to the end of CODESA. Negotiation issues During the negotiations, De Klerk's government pushed for a two-phase transition with an appointed transitional government with a rotating presidency. The ANC pushed instead for a transition in a single stage to majority rule. Other key issues during the transition included minority rights, decisions on a unitary or federal state, property rights, indemnity from prosecution for politically motivated crimes, and the end of the ANC's armed struggle. Subsequent negotiations On 26 September 1992 the government and the ANC agreed on a Record of Understanding. This dealt with a constitutional assembly, an interim government, political prisoners, hostels, dangerous weapons and mass action and restarted the negotiation process after the failure of CODESA. Two key negotiators were Cyril Ramaphosa of the ANC, and Roelf Meyer of the National Party, who formed a close friendship. It was Joe Slovo, leader of the South African Communist Party, who in 1992 proposed the "sunset clause" for a coalition government for the five years following a democratic election, including guarantees and concessions to all sides. On 1 April 1993 the Multiparty Negotiating Forum (MPNF) gathered for the first time. In contrast to CODESA, the white right (the Conservative Party and the Afrikaner Volksunie), the Pan Africanist Congress, the KwaZulu homeland government and delegations of "traditional leaders" initially participated the Multiparty Negotiating Forum. On 10 April 1993, the assassination of Chris Hani, leader of the SACP and a senior ANC leader, by white right-wingers again brought the country to the brink of disaster, but ultimately proved a turning point, after which the main parties pushed for a settlement with increased determination. The negotiations were dramatically interrupted in June 1993 when the right-wing Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging stormed the World Trade Centre in Kempton Park, breaking through the glass front of the building with an armoured car and briefly taking over the negotiations chamber. In protest at the perceived sidelining of the mainly-Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Mangosuthu Buthelezi took the IFP out of the MPNF and formed the Concerned South Africans Group (COSAG; later renamed in "Freedom Alliance") together with traditional leaders, homeland leaders and white right-wing groups. A period of brinkmanship followed, with the IFP remaining out of the negotiations until within days of the election on 27 April 1994. The MPNF ratified the interim Constitution in the early hours of the morning of 18 November. A Transitional Executive Council oversaw the run-up to a democratic election.
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