Apartheid rule refers to a type of governance based on segregation. The concept of apartheid was conceived in 1948 after the successful election of the National Party. The party, whose members were only whites, rose to power of the premise of the establishment of a racial segregation system. In so doing, the government strengthened the already existent social, political, and economic structure that emphasized on whites’ supremacy and separated them from non-whites. There would be limited contact between these groups of people that served to the advantage of the whites. This paper describes the political system of apartheid. It details the legal basis of the governance policies, its social impact on the populations, the fall of apartheid, and the subsequent rise of the African National Congress party. Additionally, the essay provides the reasons that contributed to the successful negotiation between Nelson Mandela and F. W. de Klerk.

Nelson Mandela’s Successful Negotiation with FW DE Klerk

Political System of Apartheid

Racial segregation has been a key issue in South Africa for a long time. The depreciation of the economy due to the effects of the Great Depression and the Second World War led to the further stiffening of the laws regarding segregation. In 1948, the Afrikaner National Party won the elections riding on a wave of apartheid, which was prevalent among the whites. This system ensured that the non-whites were separated from the whites while simultaneously dividing the Africans along tribal lines to decrease their political power. There was a dark future for the non-whites in the wake of the election of the National Party with the promise of the establishment of permanent reserves under the principles of trusteeship and separation (Allen, 2005).

Legal Basis of Apartheid

The government began by forbidding marital relations and unions between whites and other races through the legislation of the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949. In 1950, the parliament passed legislation that outlawed sexual intercourse between whites and Africans. In the same year, the government legislated the Population Registration Act that listed all the citizens of South Africa by race. Additionally, it required that everyone had to carry with them a national identification card that stated their ethnic affiliation. In 1952, this law was amended leading to the introduction of reference books to replace the identification passes. It detailed the holder’s name, photograph, race description, and the name of the employer with specifications on where the African could live and work. The failure to introduce this document to a police officer at request was punishable offense by either fine or serving a jail term or both. A year later, the Group Areas Act got signed into law. It mapped the designated spots to be occupied by the various racial groups. It was illegal to be in any place other than the area set aside for particular population. The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act required that Africans who worked in the white areas had to use separate means of public transportation. The social amenities including post offices, hospitals, restaurants, and schools were used separately depending on the race. Furthermore, the law included doors, benches, and shops in the statute (Suzzman, n.d.).

Social Impact of Apartheid Rule

Apartheid rule had devastating effects on the African population in South Africa. Firstly, it had harsh economic consequences for the locals. The Africans were alienated from their lands and pushed to live in reserves which were agriculturally unproductive. As a result, they were compelled to work for the whites in the farms at minimum wages. It successfully established a system of racial segregation formed on the premise of separate development. Despite the insinuation that there would be equal development of the races, the system was flawed. It was prejudiced to ensure the whites benefited from the arrangement. The execution of the policy marked an era of arrested development on the side of Africans. The most apparent signs of this effect were the deplorable state of the social amenities assigned to Africans. The schools, for instance, included courses that prepared the Africans for unskilled labor and low-end jobs. Additionally, it left them devoid of their political rights and privileges. The Public Safety Act and Criminal Law Act specifically targeted any opposition to these laws. It also ensured that unification of the Africans remained impossible due to their fragmentation (Allen, 2005).

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The Fall of Apartheid Rule and the Rise of ANC Party

As expected, the Africans reacted to these discriminatory practices by initiating opposition. The African National Congress party was on the front line. President F. W. de Klerk lifted the ban on the party, thus allowing it to resume its anti-apartheid campaigns. The party’s position got further strengthened by the release of Nelson Mandela, the liberation icon. The series of negotiations between the government and the representatives of the majority led to an end to unpopular apartheid governance. The reforms in the government speeded the abolition of the rule. The hallmark of the struggle was in 1994, when the country participated in an election following the restoration of full voting rights to the Africans.

The Reasons that Led to Mandela’s Successful Negotiation

The government’s stance on the negotiations was eased by a series of events that have lead to successful negotiations to end the practice. The system of institutionalized ethnic segregation was marked by years of protest, violence, and retaliation from the oppressed citizens. Additionally, the international community pressurized the government to abolish the policies through the imposition of economic and cultural sanctions.

The Mandela-de Clerk negotiations were successful because both conflicting parties were interested in coming up with an amicable solution. In 1988, ANC provided guidelines for the establishment of peace in the country indicating their willingness to negotiate. Additionally, both groups participated in a series of meetings to discuss the situation in South Africa. On September 26, 1992, the government and the ANC agreed on a record of understanding. The agreement dealt with political detainees, an interim government, and dangerous weapons. The South African president was interested in ending apartheid rule and was open to negotiation with the African parties. The first democratic election was planned as courtesy of de Clerk’s acceptance to negotiate and come up with a new constitution (US Department of State, n.d.).

The growing trust between the South African government and parties like the ANC contributed to the success of the Mandela-de Clerk negotiations. The two key negotiators, Cyril Ramaphosa of ANC and Roelf Meyer of NP had established a strong friendship. On February 11, 1990, Mandela was released from prison, which was a gesture from the de Clerk’s government that it was ready to put violence and disunity behind. On August 16, 1990, for instance, the South African government and the ANC agreed that the armed struggle by the ANC Umkhonto we Sizwe as well as the state of emergency by the government should end. Formal negotiations for a new constitution accommodating the rights of all races had begun by the time Mandela was released. The new law allowed free political activity, gave indemnity for politically motivated crimes and allowed majority to rule. The ban on ANC was also lifted by the government making it clear they were willing to negotiate (Kaufman, 2012). Nelson Mandela and de Clerk were also embracing over a shared Nobel Peace Prize so they could work together putting their rivalry behind and the interests of the South Africans before them. Trust was vital for change to be effected through the negotiations and legislation of new laws (US Department of State, n.d.).

Sanctions and international pressure were also part of what made the Mandela-de Clerk negotiations successful. The United Nations Security Council passed an arms embargo in a bid to frustrate the apartheid government. Despite the efforts by the South African government of initiating local production, they could not manufacture high-performance arms. Their inability to replace lost aging bombers in the conflict with Angola brought the South African government to the peace table for negotiating a settlement. It was a basis for creating awareness and politicizing the fight against racial segregation in the West. As such, the international community was able to challenge the apartheid rule. In the mid-1980’s, businesses and funds became withdrawn from the country (US Department of State, n.d.).

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Many years of boycotts and protests by the Africans in South Africa also played a significant role in the success of the Mandela-de Clerk negotiations. Riots, boycotts and protests against white rule had occurred since its start in 1910. The opposition increased with the national party taking power in 1948, thus blocking all legal and non-violent means of political protests by non-whites. African parties such as African National Congress and Pan-Africanist Congress were outlawed and most of its leaders were imprisoned, Nelson Mandela being one of the political detainees. The government was willing to end the deaths caused by apartheid. Thus, it turned the boycotts and riots to be the factors that led to the success of the Mandela-de Clerk negotiations (Kaufman, 2012).


Summarily, the apartheid rule was a system of governance based on racial segregation and separate development. It served to the advantage of the whites. They enacted a series of laws to enforce administration policies. However, the public and international pressure, coupled with other factors ranging from violence to economic sanctions as well as strengthening of the ANC party led to successful negotiations between Nelson Mandela and F. W. de Klerk to put an end to apartheid rule.

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