South Africa’s complex history is outlined, providing an explanatory background to the two chief conflicts that existed in 1990 as the apartheid era drew to a close: the divide between the government with its security forces and the majority of the population, and grassroots violence between African National Congress supporters and the conservative Inkatha movement. During the 1990s, as South Africa accomplished its transition, a series of structures were created to manage the process. The best remembered is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was the final transitional structure, holding its hearings in 1996–98. The first was the National Peace Accord, negotiated and signed in 1991 with the help of business and church facilitators, which established a mechanism to implement itself, an ‘infrastructure for peace’ featuring inclusive peace committees at national, regional, and local levels. The Accord freed a political logjam, allowing constitutional talks to commence, and its peace structures then carried out a nationwide process of peacemaking and peacebuilding. This included the popularization of peace, and the new activity of peace monitoring, to implement the Accord’s provisions on the ground in localities and at mass events. This peace process has lessons to offer and is one key to understanding the remarkable peacefulness of the first democratic election in April 1994.



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