Van Zyl Slabbert concludes meeting with ANC

Sunday, 12 July 1987

Dr. Frederik van Zyl Slabbert expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of discussions held with the banned African National Congress (ANC) in exile. The Institute for a Democratic Alternative for South Africa (Idasa) and a group of fifty-two mainly Afrikaans-speaking intellectuals, sixty-one in total, conferred with the banned ANC in Dakar, Senegal, from 9-12 July. Delegates were drawn from academic, professional, cultural, religious and business fields. The seventeen-person ANC delegation was headed by Thabo Mbeki. The meeting had been organised by Idasa and the ANC under strong opposition by the apartheid government. In an effort to reduce state interference, the non-ANC participants stated they were attending in their individual capacities.

The purpose of the meeting, while exploratory, was to confer on mutual strategies for fundamental political, social and economic change in South Africa. Participants agreed to pressure for a negotiated resolution of the liberation struggle. It was further agreed that, given the increasing and endemic politically-motivated violence in the country, this process needed to be accelerated.

Amongst the delegates from South Africa were Tony Bloom, Dr F. van Zyl Slabbert, Willie Esterhuyse, Dr. Theuns Eloff, Breyten Breytenbach, Andre P. Brink, Ampie Coetsee, Andre du Toit, Jannie Gagiano, Herman Gilliomee, Max du Preez, Rashied Lombard, Jimmy Matthews, Hennie Serfontein, Alistair Sparks, Alex Boraine and Gretha Fox.

This ground-breaking meeting was regarded as a milestone in South African political history. It received positive attention internationally. The Nationalist Party government, however, saw it as a betrayal not only of the state, but also of Afrikanerdom.

References:
• The Dakar Declaration 12th June,1987: website: anc.org.za.
• 1987 in South Africa: website:wikipedia.org.

Last updated : 11-Jul-2013

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011