The Presidential Years

Half-way through government’s five-year term, in November 1996, Mandela reported to the ANC NEC on progress that had been made by then.

KwaZulu-Natal as a major achievement, among the reasons being firmness, intelligence driven operations, and the role of political, religious and other leaders. An indication of the success achieved can be gauged from the fact that only 27 cases of violence of a political nature have been recorded in the past three months.383

Events proved that to be somewhat optimistic, but by the time of the second national election in 1999, although violence had not been eradicated, the situation was much better than five years before. The number of no-go areas for election campaigning had been reduced. The king and a few other traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal encouraged participation and tolerance. Incidents of violence were few compared with the past.. While the province was still exposed to violence, it was by then linked to a lesser extent directly to politics.

By then the principal issues evoking resistance to change and to central government had been surpassed or marginalised: the constitution had been finalised, setting firm limits to provincial autonomy; international mediation was a lost cause; elected local government had been established everywhere; the pay of traditional leaders was centralised and uniform across the country. The third force hit squads had largely been exposed and their roots dismantled. The situation had evolved to a condition that allowed differences to be managed through politics.

But as elsewhere in the country, underlying factors for tension were still to be eradicated. The province still had one of the largest concentrations of rural poverty. The reconciliation of traditional leadership and democracy had only begun and much was left to be defined. In particular, the transition had left the Zulu King with exceptional status and powers that complicated the future.