On this day, 30 years ago, African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela met with President P.W. Botha at Tuynhuis in Cape Town. The meeting was to begin negotiations to end Apartheid.
This was the first publicly acknowledged meeting between Mr. Mandela and a government official outside prison, and led to speculation that he would soon be released.
The unfavourable economic situation of South Africa, due to sanctions and lack of foreign investment, as well as the growing discontent, meant that apartheid was no longer feasible and had to come to an end. Mandela wanted to have talks with the government in order to negotiate.
The meeting between Mandela and P.W. Botha was very short. At the time, Mandela was still imprisoned at Victor Verster.
Mandela discussed the events that transpired in his autobiography, 'A Long Walk To Freedom':
"From the opposite side of his grand office PW Botha walked towards me. He had planned his march perfectly, for we met exactly half way. He had his hand out and was smiling broadly, and in fact from that very first moment he completely disarmed me. He was unfailingly courteous, deferential and friendly."
Despite the fact that Botha, was instrumental in the development of horrific strategies against black people, meeting with Nelson Mandela is believed to have been pivotal to ending the regime.
Botha suffered a stroke and F. W. de Klerk was sworn in as acting president of South Africa. He reaffirmed the earlier promise to phase out white rule.
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