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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

1997

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigates allegations against Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the wife of Nelson Mandela.

ANC's military and political leadership structures apply to the Truth and reconciliation Commission for amnesty, publicly accepting responsibility for the actions committed during the struggle years.

50th annual congress of ANC at Mafikeng in North-West Province: Mandela hands over presidency of ANC to Thabo Mbeki

United Democratic Movement led by Roelf Meyer and Bantu Holomisa founded

Zubeida Jaffer becomes is appointed parliamentary editor of South Africa's Independent Newspapers.

Brigalia Bam becomes General Secretary for South African Council of churches.

January 1997

Discussions are held on possible new political alliances. The ANC invite the PAC for talks on joining the government; the NP holds talks with the IFP, the DP and community organizations and the DP holds discussions with the IFP and the PAC. Mr. de Klerk says the NP is seeking to establish a new political movement cooperating with parties that shared its value system, supported free enterprise and were antt-Communtst.

6 January - 7 January 1997

Three men are arrested following three bomb blasts in Rustenburg, about 100 miles northwest of Johannesburg. The Minister of Safety and Security visits the town to inspect the damage to the mosque and other Muslim owned buildings. Responsibility for the explosions is claimed by the Boere-Aanvals- troepe (Boer Attack Troops - BAT).

13 January 1997

Togo and South Africa establish diplomatic relations. This decision follows a 'friendly' visit by President Mandela to logo in March 1996.

14 January 1997

South Africa reacts angrily to American threats to cut off aid if the government sells arms to Syria.

17 January 1997

In a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) revelation, General Georg Meiring is implicated with more than sixty officers and soldiers in 'dirty tricks' including state-sponsored murder. It also suggests that the former President F.W. de Klerk refused to investigate charges against General Meiring and two other generals despite the Steyn commission of enquiry.

24 January 1997

Three leaders resign from the IFP, Frank Malalose, national chairman and the Premier of Kwazulu-Natal, Ziba Jiyane, Secretary-General and Musa Myeni, leader in the Gauteng legislature. All three are said to be moderates who favour compromise. Their resignation during a fifteen-hour meeting of the IFP's national council follows reports of tensions with tnkatha President Chief Buthelezi.

28 January 1997

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission confirm newspaper reports that five former security police officers have confessed to the 1977 murder of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko, and have made a formal amnesty application.

6 February 1997

Violence occurs in Johannesburg's Coloured townships, at least four people are killed and up to two hundred injured when police clash with demonstrators during a stayaway called by the South Western Joint Civics Association (SAWEJOCA) in protest against rent and service charges.

7 February 1997

Freedom Front leader General Constand Viljoen has announced he will seek amnesty before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He admits involvement in a pre 1994 election plot to establish a 'volkstaat' by force.

Opening the new session of Parliament President Mandela reviews the governments achievements since the 1994 elections. He promises action in three principal areas - on projects under the Reconstruction and Development Programme, in the fight against corruption (especially in the civil service) and increased economic growth. The war against crime is identified as one of his government's top priorities.

8 February 1997

South Africa radio reports that C. Barnard and AK. Myburgh have been sentenced to fifty years' imprisonment each for their part in four bomb blasts, shortly before the 1994 election.

13 February 1997

It is reported that President Mandela, as part of his duties as chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has held talks with President Robert Mugabe in Harare, Zimbabwe and discussed the situations in Angola, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zambia. Talks have also been held with Botswana's President Masire. The next meeting will be with President Chissano of Mozambique.

14 February 1997

The IFP have issued a new Mission Statement calling for a 'social market economy' following a three-day National Council workshop in Ulundi.

19 February 1997

The Presidents of South Africa, Uganda, Mozambique, Botswana and Zimbabwe meet in Cape Town. The five leaders exchange views on problems affecting the sub-continent as well as the crises in Zaire and the Sudan. President Mandela emphasizes the importance of peace and stability in Africa to ensure harmonious co-existence and development.

26 February 1997

Adrian Vlok, former apartheid era Minister of Law and Order, applies to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for amnesty - the first member of the former NP government to indicate willingness to admit to political crimes.

2 March 1997

National Police Commissioner George Fivaz announces plans to restructure the South African Police Service (SAPS) and later seeks an audience with President Mandela to ensure that there is no political interference with the SAPS.

6 March 1997

The Commissioner for Correctional Services, Mr. K. Sithole, discusses the possibility of incarcerating the worst criminals in disused mine shafts. This proposal is widely attacked, but there are repeated calls for the reintroduction of the death penalty. Justice Minister Dullah Omar reiterates that the government will not reconsider this issue.

7 March 1997

Both the DP and the PAC decline President Mandela's offer to join the Government of National Unity. The degree of opposition allowed to them outside the Cabinet was held to be too restrictive.

10 March 1997

South African arms manufacturer Denel announces that it will unveil six new products at a United Arab Emirates weapons exhibition to increase its sales, especially in the Middle East.

14 March 1997

Protests by thousands of farmers around the country against land reform legislation and loss of tax rebates, and against the government's failure to solve the high number of farm murders end peacefully with the handing over of memorandums on the subjects. The South African Agricultural Union supports the protests.

17 March 1997

Allan Boesak appears in a Cape Town court to face nine charges of fraud and twenty one charges of theft involving more than $800,000 - most of it donated to his Foundation for Peace and Justice by Danish and Swedish aid organizations. The case is postponed until 4 August 1997.

Denel say no deal has been reached over the sale of arms to Syria.

18 March 1997

A security force presence of more than 1500 police, military and municipal officials moves to control the violence that erupts in central Johannesburg during a march to commemorate the 1994 Shell House shootings. Three people are killed and several wounded. Twenty-five people are arrested.

19 March 1997

The Denel group and Aerospatiale of France sign an agreement to broaden co-operation in various fields, notably helicopters and tactical missiles.

22 March 1997

South African mercenaries, hired by the Papua New Guinea government to help crush a separatist rebellion, arrive back in South Africa. Executive Outcomes say that the men should not be seen as mercenaries, but as consultants.

1 April 1997

South Africa's second biggest labour federation is officially launched following the merger of the Federation of South African Labour Unions and the Federation of Organizations Representing Civil Employees. The new Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has 25 affiliated unions and claims a membership of 515,000.

3 April 1997

The National Party's Roelf Meyer meets with Bantu Holomisa to discuss the formation of a new political movement. A joint statement by the NP and the National Consultative Forum (NCF) said the meeting's purpose is to compare notes and explore possible points of agreement.

4 April 1997

India and South Africa make a series of important agreements around a 'strategic partnership' pact. The 11-point Red Fort' declaration, signed by President Mandela and the Indian Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda in New Delhi, stresses the need for an equitable balance in the composition of ihe expanded Security Council and pledges to revitalise the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

6 April 1997

The PAC announces that Clarence Makwetu has been suspended as chairman of the party pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing. Makwetu has been charged with violating the PAC's constitution by dividing the party and creating factions.

7 April 1997

The ANC leader in the Kwazulu Natal midlands Sifiso Nkabinde is expelled from the ANC and named as a 'spy for the enemy' by Jacob Zuma. Nkabinde denies the allegations and claims he is being used to deflect attention from agents in the ANC's senior ranks.

9 April 1997

President Mandela declares that Minister of Safety and Security Sydney Mufamadi and National Police Commissioner George Fivaz are the best team to combat crime and that the misunderstanding between the two men has been resolved.

17 April 1997

The ANC holds a special one-day sununit with its alliance partners COSATU (the Congress of South African Trade Unions) and the SACP (the South African Communist Party) and pledges to take the concerns of its allies into account and to ensure consultation on key policies.

The government presents proposals to improve basic working conditions and encourage greater labour flexibility. Labour Minister Tito Mboweni describes the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill as a revolution of labour law. Among its provisions is that for a maximum working week of forty-five hours.

President Mandela, present in his capacity as chief of the Temba clan, rather than Head of State, inaugurates the Council of Traditional Leaders. 150 tribal leaders are inducted into Parliament in a colourful ceremony. The kings of Lesotho and of Swaziland also attend.

23 April 1997

AWB (Afrikaner Resistance Movement) leader Eugene Terre'Blanche, is convicted of attempted murder and assault in the Magistrates Court in Potchefstroom.

26 April 1997

Winnie Mandela, former wife of President Mandela, is overwhelmingly re-elected as president of the ANC's Women's League by 656 votes to 114 for her deputy Tandi Modise. Her victory reflects the level of grassroots support she continues to enjoy.

2 May 1997

ANC spkesman, Ronnie Mamoepa, reports that an internal party committee has recommended that all members of the ANC's National Executive Committee since 1961, together with senior members of the armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) should apply to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for amnesties.

7 May 1997

F.W. de Klerk disbands the NP task team, headed by Roelf Meyer, which had been charged with planning strategies for an opposition realignment.

Former Defence Minister Magnus Malan takes full responsibility for secret apartheid raids into neighbouring countries but says they were all state-sanctioned and legal. He expresses regret over the operations that led to the killings of innocent people, but 'unfortunately this is the reality of war'.

10 May 1997

By this deadline for the receipt of applications for amnesty to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 370 have been delivered by the ANC. Notable among those who have not applied are former President P.W. Botha, his successor and current NP leader F.W. de Klerk and IFP leader Chief Mangosutho Buthelezi. Almost 8,000 applications have been received in all.

11 May 1997

The chairman of a PAC disciplinary committee announces that former party President Clarence Makwetu has been expelled from the party for three years.

12 May - 13 May 1997

An ANC delegation, led by Deputy President Mbeki, makes the party's second major submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the form of a defence of the way in which it had conducted its 'just war' against apartheid.

13 May 1997

The Western Cape regional executive of the PAC rejects the move to expel Clarence Makwetu, declares it will not recognise his dismissal, and will continue to call him President until a special national congress is convened to resolve the matter.

14 May 1997

Speaking before the Truth and Reconciliation Committee for a second time, F.W. de Kterk repeats his assertion that murder and torture had never been a part of government policy. He apologises 'once and for all' for apartheid and the hurt caused by its policies.

15 May 1997

At a news conference, the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Most Rev. Desmond Tutu says it is difficult to believe De Klerk's ignorance of the atrocities committed under apartheid, given the 'avalanche of information' sent to the then President of South Africa detailing murders and torture committed by the security services.

Later, the NP accuses the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of bias and announces it will no longer co-operate with it.

17 May 1997

Roelf Meyer announces his resignation from the NP.

21 May 1997

Roelf Meyer announces the formation of a new political grouping, with which he plans to challenge both the ANC and the NP at the 1999 elections. He calls on other disaffected NP members to join him in his New Movement Process.

2 June 1997

In a letter to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, lawyers for the NP demand an unconditional apology from chairman Desmond Tutu and the resignation of vice-chairman Alex Boraine who had also publicly criticized de Kterk. A deadline of 4 June is set for response, but the date is later extended to 20 June 1997.

3 June 1997

Talks are held between NP leader F.W. de Klerk and his Freedom Front colleague General (retd) Constand Viljoen. It is agreed that an alliance or permanent co-operation agreement between the two parties is not possible, but they will co-operate on an ad hoc basis on particular issues.

4 June 1997

South Africa announces the development of a revolutionary canon an externally powered gun codenamed EMAK3S, designed by Denel at the request of ARMSCOR.

10 June 1997

It is reported that South Africa and Namibia have signed an agreement on increased co-operation between their armed forces. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is already assisting Natnibia train its officers and Namibia has requested help in protecting its marine resources.

12 June 1997

A deal is proposed between the IFP and the ANC in Kwazulu-Natal aimed at stopping the conflict. The initiative has brought a decrease in violence.

19 June 1997

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission refuse to accede to the NP demands and calls instead for urgent talks in order to resolve difficulties.

20 June 1997

The NP serves legal papers on the Commission giving notice of a High Court application to be heard on 26 August 1997. The application calls on the court to order Tutu to refrain from making further public statements which 'compromise the credibility and impartiality of the Commission'. It also calls for Alex Boraine's dismissal arguing that he should never have been appointed as a commissioner and is abusing his position to continue pursuing old political battles.

24 June 1997

Defence Minister Joe Modise warns that the proposed R1 ,4 bn. cut in the defence budget could seriously disrupt the defence force's ability to function and to contribute to the fight against crime. The departments of Defence and State Expenditure are negotiating to end the impasse.

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.