Africa Notes: South Africa After the Referendum - April 1992
April 1, 1992
The referendum of March 17, 1992, in which 68.7 percent of the more than 2.3 million white voters casting ballots endorsed the negotiations taking place between the South African government, the African National Congress, and 1 7 other organizations, provided a clear sign that the process of change that started more than two years ago is finally irreversible. The single question on the ballot: "Do you support continuation of the reform process which the State President began on February 2, 1990, and which is aimed at a new constitution through negotiations?"
The first milestone was passed on February 2, 1990, when President F.W. de Klerk dramatically accelerated the dismantling of apartheid by announcing the unbanning of all opposition groups, including the ANC. Nine days later, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison, after more than 27 years of incarceration. Since then, the government, the ANC, and a broad array of other political and quasi-political organizations have established the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), a forum in which the adoption of a democratic, nonracial constitution and the process leading to elections are being negotiated. The March referendum represented an important second milestone on the path to that objective.