Dawn of a New Era: Unbanning the ANC and Unshackling a Nation’s Potential

1 February 2024

The transformative events on February 2, 1990, heralded a pivotal shift in South African history as President F.W. de Klerk announced the repeal of the ban on the African National Congress (ANC). This significant political gesture dismantled one of the enduring pillars of apartheid policy and catalyzed the country’s journey towards democracy.

Instituted in 1960, the proscription of the ANC was a strategic move by the apartheid government to suppress the growing momentum against racial segregation. An organization founded in 1912 to champion the rights of the black South African majority, the ANC gradually moved from passive resistance to armed struggle, particularly after the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, when 69 peaceful protestors were killed by police.

The unban of the ANC marked the unravelling of a rigid system bolstered by racial oppression and human rights abuses. This bold step by President de Klerk, part of his reform agenda, was an acknowledgment of the futility of apartheid. It set the stage for the release of Nelson Mandela—imprisoned for 27 years—and other political prisoners, initiating a series of negotiations that would eventually lead to the dismantling of apartheid laws.

These reforms were met with global applause, as they represented not just a shift in policy but a momentous stride toward reconciliation and unity. The reverberations of this decision were felt worldwide, signaling a new chapter that promised equality and the enfranchisement of millions of South Africans. The end of apartheid was now in sight, a dream that would be realized with the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.