ABSTRACT

Between 15 and 16 May 1992, the second plenary of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA 2) reached a crisis; the impasse was in regards to a critical point of disagreement arising out of Working Group 2 – the number of votes in a constituent assembly required to take decisions on issues affecting regions. While a high-level De Klerk-Mandela meeting momentarily rescued talks, it failed to resolve the disagreement; the suspicion, mistrust and tension between the ANC and government negotiators was simply too high. CODESA 2 failed to reach a political settlement. As the deadlock sunk in, frustration within the ANC alliance over the negotiations reached an apex. Hard-line ANC power-brokers, exasperated with the government, shifted the fight from the negotiating table back to the streets. The plan was a four-phase rolling mass action plan: “first, local and regional strikes; second, a phase of industry-specific strikes; third, a four- to five-day general strike on 3 August; and finally, a phase purportedly culminating in the resignation of the De Klerk government” (Sisk, 1995: 212). Anxiety was heightened when the Goldstone Commission, formed to investigate political violence, issued an interim report that confirmed the long-held suspicion that Inkatha and the government were a contributing factor to political violence, and that the major cause was the ANC-Inkatha rivalry.