The Presidential Years

2. Shifts in the balance of forces:

2.1 The balance of forces is not completely static. In this phase of the negotiations:

  • The regime strives to undermine and weaken the liberation movement through its strategy of Low Intensity War;
  • The liberation movement seeks to weaken the capacity of the regime to act against the people and broaden the space for free political activity though a combination of mass mobilisation, international pressure and self-defence.

2.2 In the recent period:

  • The de Klerk regime has suffered a renewed crisis of legitimacy. It continues to fail to win the allegiance of the majority;
  • The regime's camp stands more divided than it ever was since the unbanning of the ANC: its unpatriotic front with some bantustans has collapsed; it is increasingly losing the loyalty of the civil service and important elements in the security forces; in the October special session of the tri-cameral parliament, it failed to secure the support of a single other party outside itself; leading members of the party and government continue to jump ship for reasons of "fatigue","depression" and "disillusionment";
  • the regime has lost all ability to arrest the unprecedented socio- economic decline, growing unemployment among both black and white, the general social disintegration and spiralling crime


  • the regime still commands vast state and other military resources;
  • it continues to enjoy the support of powerful economic forces;
  • objectively, the counter-revolutionary violence and the growing potential of long-term counter- revolutionary instability acts as a resource for the regime.

2.3 Also in the recent period:

  • the ANC has established itself as a legal national political organisation;
  • it commands the support of the majority of South Africa;
  • the liberation movement enjoys the capacity to mobilise large-scale mass action;
  • it is able to influence and mobilise the international community.


  • the liberation movement suffers many organisational weaknesses;
  • it does not command significant military and financial resources;
  • it is unable to militarily defeat the counter- revolutionary movement or adequately defend the people.,

2.4 As a result of mass action and negotiations, some progress has been made in the recent period. Some examples of these are: the CODESA Declaration of Intent (which establishes national consensus on the broad direction in which the political process should unfold); the Record of Understanding; and broad consensus on the need for an Interim Government and Constituent Assembly. Though the regime has succeeded in delaying the transition there remains a groundswell of support within society as a whole for a speedy resolution of the political and socio-economic problems.

2.5 In this context, the liberation movement is faced with various options:

  1. resumption of the armed struggle and the perspective of revolutionary seizure of power. (given the objective situation outlined above, and the possibility of a negotiated resolution, the ANC has decided that this option is neither preferable, nor viable at this juncture);
    1. a protracted negotiations process, combined with mass action and international pressure until the balance of forces is shifted to such an extent that we secure a negotiated surrender from the regime;
    2. a swift negotiations process combined with mass action and international pressure which takes into account the need for national unity against counter-revolutionary forces, and at the same time, uses phases in the transition to qualitatively change the balance of forces in order to secure thoroughgoing democratic transformation

2.6 Taking into account:

  • the capacity of the liberation movement;
  • the capacity of the regime to endlessly delay while consolidating its hold onto power and restructuring in order to undermine future democratic transformation;
  • the cost to the people and the country of a protracted negotiations process;
  • the need to as urgently as possible address the dire socio-economic needs of the people;
  • and the need to prevent a further consolidation of the counter- revolutionary forces;

The third option, (c), is the most viable and preferable