About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

1989

Walter Sisulu moved to Mandela's old cells.

Release of Rivonia prisoners.

F.W. De Klerk replaces Botha as Prime Minister and immediately declares the need for change.

Foreign States Immunity Act No 4:

Attempted to create diplomatic relationships.

Commenced: 31 March 1989

KaNgwane: Public Service Act No 5:

Commenced: 16 March 1990

KwaNdebele: Traditional Hearings of Civil Cases Act No 7:

Commenced: 16 March 1990

Commission of Inquiry into Certain Alleged Across-Border Irregularities Mandate: To accept the findings made by the 'Alexander Commission' and to attempt to clear up alleged irregularities found but not fully investigated by that commission with regard to the processing and granting of gambling rights and related licences by Transkeian authorities.

First report: The Matter of S.G. Palazzolo-De Pontes.

Second report: Transkei Gambling Rights.

Date of Reports: 1989

Chair: HARMS, The Hon L.T.C.

Ref: Anns 11, 12/1989 or S297/145 (E)

Commission of Inquiry into Allegations Concerning the Involvement of any Member of the Ministers' Council in the House of Delegates or any Member of the House of Delegates in any Irregularities

Mandate: As above.

Date of Report: 13 March 1989.

Chair: JAMES, N.

Ref: An 119-89 or S297/136 (E)

COSAS and NECC declare themselves unbanned.

Sister Bernard Ncube part of United Democratic Front (UDF) delegation to meet President George Bush.

Patricia De Lille elected to National Executive Committee of Pan African Movement, wing of PAC.

5 January 1989

The ANC agrees to close its military training base in Angola and in return South Africa must stop aid to the rebel Angolan UNITA movement, the Angolan president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos says in an interview.

12 January 1989

The private research group The Indicator Project of South Africa has stated in a report entitled Political Conflict in South Africa that unrest in the country between September 1984 and June 1988 was the worst in its history, in view of the number of people killed (more than 3,500), injured, and imprisoned (over 55,000), and the socio-economic losses sustained. It also disagreed with the regime's frequent assertion that imposition of emergency rule had helped to reduce the level of unrest, stating that 930 people were killed in political violence between June 1987 and June 1988, compared with 731 in the same period a year earlier. The figures included more than 1,000 killed in Natal Province over the past two years in the conflict between the Zulu-based Inkatha movement and the United Democratic Front. Meanwhile, in a related development, the Johannesburg-based Human Rights Commission listed 113 attacks on anti-apartheid groups and individuals in the four years up to October 1988. So far as is known, there has never been an arrest in any of these cases.

16 January 1989

The Security Council, in response to the 22 December signing by Angola, Cuba and South Africa of a treaty for a settlement in south western Africa, adopted two resolutions on the question. In the first, the Council expressed support for the treaty, called upon all parties concerned, as well as all Member States, to cooperate in its implementation, and requested the Secretary-General to keep the Council informed on the implementation of the resolution. In the second, the Council decided that implementation of the plan contained in its resolution 435 (1978) for the independence of Namibia would begin on 1 April 1989, and requested the Secretary-General to prepare a report that would include possible cost-saving measures for putting it into effect.

16 January 1989

The UN Security Council, in response to the 22 December signing by Angola, Cuba and South Africa of a treaty for a settlement in southwestern Africa, adopted two resolutions on the question. In the first, the Council expressed support for the treaty, called upon all parties concerned, as well as all Member States, to co-operate in its implementation, and requested the Secretary-General to keep the Council informed on the implantation of the resolution. In the second, the Council among other things decided that implementation of the plan contained in its resolution 435 (1978) for the independence of Namibia would begin on 1 April 1989, and requested the Secretary-General to prepare a report that would include possible cost-saving measures for putting it into effect.

19 January 1989

Chris Heunis, Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning, is appointed Acting State President by President P.W. Botha who is recovering from a stroke suffered on 18 January. But he will continue making key decisions.

19 January 1989

The Federal Republic of Germany has informed the Oslo-based World Campaign against Military and Nuclear Collaboration with South Africa that it has cancelled a 1985 license for the export to that country of three multi-sensor platforms which form part of a tracking system for military or other objects. This means that of the original order of three, the two that were not exported cannot now be sent to South Africa, and that there may be a greater chance of the third's being returned.

24 January 1989

The International Cricket Conference (ICC), after meeting in London on 23 and 24 January, decided to suspend as from 1 April all players who have links with South Africa in the future.

25 January 1989

Minister of Manpower and Public Works, Pietie du Plessis, resigns over a financial scandal involving his department and a company in which he holds interest.

2 February 1989

Ailing President P.W. Botha resigns as leader of the ruling white National Party, hut remains President. F.W. de Klerk, the Education Minister, is to take over the post of party leader.

A Free Settlement Board is to come into effect on I March to legalize multi-racial free settlement areas in carefully chosen zones in main cities and towns.

2 February 1989

South African President P. W. Botha, who has been recuperating from a stroke suffered on 18 January, resigned as leader of the National Party. The same day, the Minister of Education and National Party leader of Transvaal Province, Frederik de Klerk, was elected party leader. Mr. Botha stated that he would continue as President but was leaving his party post in the hope of elevating the presidency above partisan politics.

4 February 1989

The National Democratic Movement, the Progressive Federal Party and the Independent Party merge to form the Democratic Party

4 February 1989

South Africa's three liberal opposition parties, the Progressive Federal Party headed by Zach de Beer, the National Democratic Movement led by Wynand Malan, and the Independent Party led by Dennis Worrall, agreed to form a unified multiracial party. The new grouping, to be known as the Democratic Party, will be formally founded on 8 April.

8 February 1989

The Commonwealth committee on southern Africa, after a three- day meeting in Harare, decided to seek ways to strengthen financial sanctions against the regime, since it concluded that this form of sanctions in particular was having an impact on South Africa.

16 February 1989

The United Democratic Front and COSATU distance themselves from Winnie Mandela and her private militia.

16 February 1989

The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution regarding the settlement in Namibia. It authorised implementation of its plan for the independence of Namibia contained in resolution 435 (1978), with effect from 1 April.

18 February 1989

Representatives of leading anti-apartheid organisations, including the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), held a news conference on 16 February at which they announced with regret that the organisations were distancing themselves from Winnie Mandela and were asking their supporters to do the same. They stated that the step was being taken because of allegations that a group connected with Mrs. Mandela, the Mandela United Football Club, was "associated" with a "reign of terror" in Soweto that included the abduction and beating of several Soweto youths on 29 December, resulting in the death of one of them.

19 February 1989

A new book, "Uprooting Poverty: The South African Challenge", by Professor Francis Wilson and Dr. Mamphela Ramphele of the University of Cape Town, was recently published under the auspices of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

21 February 1989

Fifty political detainees who had gone on hunger strike are released from prison.

10 March 1989

Signs an agreement concerning the status of the United Nations Transition Assistance Group to Namibia.

21 March 1989

The political power struggle continues between President P.W. Botha and F.W. de Klerk and a compromise is reached between the two, according to which P.W. Botha is to announce a date for an October election. He is not expected to stand for re-election for another five-year term.

1 April 1989

South Africa:Signs monetary agreement with Lesotho.

6 April 1989

In a parliamentary speech, President P.W. Botha announces the dissolving of Parliament by the end of May and indicates that he will not stand for re-election as President.

9 April 1989

The Democratic Party is formally launched.

20 April 1989

South Africa:Signs an air service agreement with the Republic of Zaire.

30 April 1989

Helen Suzman announces her retirement from Parliament.

1 May 1989

Dr David Webster, a social anthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand and a leading anti-apartheid activist, is shot dead outside his home

1 May 1989

David Webster, a prominent anti-apartheid activist, was killed in Johannesburg by an unknown assailant, police said. He was reported to be one of the first white dissidents to be assassinated.

3 May 1989

President P.W. Botha announces that a general election is to be held on the 6th September.

Signs memorandum of understanding amending the Customs Union Agreement of 11 December 1969.

11 May 1989

C. Heunis, Minister of Constitutional Development, announces that he will resign his post on 1 July and not stand for re-election in the September general election. Other Ministers also resign.

June 1989

Desegregation of Residences:

In June, the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning announced that 'the government had accepted ... that the right to desegregate residences at tertiary institutions should rest with the governing bodies' (Budlender 1989: 24).

9 June 1989

The three-year old State of Emergency is renewed for another twelve months.

10 June 1989

State of emergency declared, Security regulations broadened to prohibit certain acts, wearing of specific clothes etc. Blanket renewal of restrictions on ex-detainees. Education, prison and media regulations re-imposed.

12 June 1989

Three whites, Damion de Lange, Ian Robertson and Susan Donelly, are convicted for terrorism for being in possession of arms cache in Broederstroom.

15 June 1989

Signs an agreement with the government of the Republic of China relating to cooperation in the field of population development.

19 June 1989

South Africa:Signs an agreement on cultural matters with the Republic of China.

29 June 1989

F.W. de Klerk, Leader of the National Party, explains to the NP Federal Congress in Pretoria the Party's next five-year plan, giving blacks a say in running the country and at the same time maintaining white superiority.

29 June 1989

The National Party adopted a five-year programme of its objectives, including a political "reform" plan to give South Africa's black majority a role in national as well as local government. However, so far the government has not been able to persuade any prominent black leaders to negotiate on the "reform" initiative, and the ANC has said that it will consider nothing less than a one-man, one-vote system.

5 July 1989

Jailed leader of the ANC, Mr Nelson Mandela, meets President P.W. Botha at his official residence.

12 July 1989

Nelson Mandela issues a statement subsequent to his meeting with President Botha on the 5th July, that only dialogue with the outlawed ANC will bring peace to the country.

12 July 1989

ANC leader Nelson Mandela met with South African President P. W. Botha on 5 July at the latter's office in Cape Town. On 8 July, Justice Minister Kobie Coetsee stated that the two parties had not discussed policy matters or engaged in negotiations but had confirmed "their support for peaceful development in South Africa". On 12 July, Nelson Mandela released a statement through the prison authorities agreeing with this account, but adding that dialogue with the anti-apartheid movement in particular, the ANC was the only way to achieve peace.

16 July 1989

South Africa's largest labour federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), held its annual congress from 12-16 July at which it adopted several resolutions, including calling on its members and supporters to join a campaign of "sustained action" against apartheid in the week before the country's general elections on 6 September.

19 July 1989

F.W. de Klerk meets President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique.

26 July 1989

QwaQwa: Police Amendment Act No 8:

Commenced: 26 July 1989

26 July 1989

QwaQwa: Criminal Law Amendment Act No 10:

Commenced: 26 July 1989

2 August 1989

The Mass Democratic Movement launched a campaign of defiance of apartheid laws in advance of the country's 6 September general elections: more than 200 blacks appeared for treatment at hospitals officially reserved for whites.

6 August 1989

Twenty former South African political detainees, in defiance of the restriction orders the regime imposed on them after their release, launched a new round in the campaign against apartheid laws by delivering political speeches at a large church service outside Cape Town.

6 August 1989

QwaQwa: Land Act No 15:

Commenced: 6 August 1989

14 August 1989

President P W Botha resigns as South Africa's President.

15 August 1989

South African President P. W. Botha resigned on 14 August, in a dispute with National Party leader F. W. de Klerk allegedly over the latter's plan to meet Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda in Zambia on 28 August. On 15 August, Mr. de Klerk was sworn in as Acting President pending the results of the general elections.

18 August 1989

Disclosure of Foreign Funding Act No 26:

Provides for the regulation of foreign donations by or for certain organisations and persons.

Commenced: 18 August 1989

Repealed by s 7 of the Abolition of Restrictions on Free Political Activity Act No 206 of 1993.

20 August 1989

"Restricted" South African anti-apartheid organisations, members of the Mass Democratic Movement, declared themselves henceforth "unrestricted" and free to join the defiance campaign. Meanwhile, the police had been banning protest meetings, forcibly breaking up demonstrations, and arresting (or re-arresting) anti- apartheid activists, to try to end the campaign.

21 August 1989

The OAU Committee on Southern Africa issues a political declaration in Harare (The Harare Declaration)

21 August 1989

The Assembly of Heads of State of OAU, meeting in Harare, adopted a declaration, suggested by ANC, on South Africa recognising that possibilities existed for a resolution of South Africa's problems by negotiation. (The declaration was subsequently endorsed by a summit meeting of non-aligned countries).

28 August 1989

During a meeting in Livingstone, Zambia, President Kenneth Kaunda supports acting South African President F.W. de Klerk's moves to reform apartheid.

31 August 1989

Confrontation between the Mass Democratic Movement and the regime continued when about 200 women, including anti-apartheid leaders, marched toward the UK Embassy in Cape Town on 30 August to deliver a petition protesting the condition of political detainees in South African, only to be arrested, and then released, with trials set for October. On 31 August, students held a large rally at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, at which they announced the revival of four "restricted" student groups, and then had a running battle with police, who broke up the meeting.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) passed a resolution barring any athlete from the Olympics who competes in South Africa from 31 August. The IOC also approved a resolution restoring tennis to full medal status for the 1992 Olympics, but only on condition that the International Tennis Federation, the world governing body, suspend its competitions in South Africa.

6 September 1989

The National Party wins the general election with an overwhelming majority.

14 September 1989

F.W. de Klerk is elected President of South Africa and is officially installed on 20 September.

16 September 1989

President de Klerk nominates his new cabinet.

20 September 1989

F. W. de Klerk elected President of South Africa, following general election on 6 September.

15 October 1989

Seven jailed senior ANC leaders and Jafta Masemola of the Pan African Congress who was convicted of sabotage in 1963 are released from prison.

29 October 1989

The ANC holds a huge rally to welcome back the seven released leaders.

8 November 1989

State of emergency lifted in Transkei (RRS 1989/90: 522).

28 November 1989

President de Klerk issues a statement that the National Security Management System (NSMS) is to be disbanded.

December 1989

An all-inclusive black political conference is held with the main groups being the Mass Democratic Movement and the Black Consciousness Movement. The Conference adopts the Harare Declaration which sets out pre-conditions for negotiations and outlines a new constitutional future.

The Pan-African Movement (PAM) which is to act as a front for the banned Pan-Africanist Congress, is formed.

Signs an agreement on the establishment and operation of a common works area at the Caledon River for the purpose of the implementation of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

13 December 1989

President de Klerk and Nelson Mandela meet to discuss the country's political future.

14 December 1989

The General Assembly, at its sixteenth Special Session, adopted by consensus the "Declaration on Apartheid and its Destructive Consequences in Southern Africa," calling for negotiations to end apartheid and establish a non-racial democracy. It laid down steps needed to create a climate conducive to negotiations, modalities of negotiations and principles for a new constitution. [Resolution A/RES/S-16/1].

14 December 1989

The UN General Assembly, at its sixteenth Special Session, adopted the "Declaration on Apartheid and its Destructive Consequences in Southern Africa," calling for negotiations to end apartheid and establish a non-racial democracy. It laid down steps needed to create a climate conducive to negotiations, modalities of negotiations and principles for a new constitution.[Resolution A/RES/S-16/1].

16 December 1989

Five anti-apartheid leaders, imprisoned in 1988 for political activities, are freed from Robben Island. Amongst these five is the General Secretary of the United Democratic Front, Popo Molefe and its Publicity Secretary, Patrick Lekota.

Source: http://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/chronology/main-chronology-80s.html

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.