The essay below is a discussion on the internal and external factors that caused democratization in South Africa. The major information sources will be books by Sola Akinrinade and Amadu Sesay and Samuel Decalo’s Coups and Army Rule in Africa…
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This period was associated with racial, social, political and economic segregation which led to apartheid. On February 2nd 1990, President FW Clerk released a speech that hinted to a decisive moment in South Africa’s struggle for democracy (Decalo 7-35)1. The day is highly regarded by many South Africans as it marked the commissioning of the release of Nelson Mandela (11th of February) and other detainees who had been arrested in the process of the struggle. This paved way for open negotiations. South Africa had been going through long struggles for democracy in a sub-society that chiefly consisted of whites at the helm of leadership and power and non-white sub-society with little or no influence in governance matters. Factors that led to the transition in South Africa can be classified as both internal and external. In his book, Coups and Army Rule in Africa: Motivations and Constraints, Samuel Decalo, argues that the transitions that led to democratization in South Africa were majorly internal.
The democratic changes that occurred in SA are also linked to international factors. According to Sola Akinrinade and Amadu Sesay in their book Africa in the Post-Cold War International System (eds.) the external factor that influenced transition in South Africa includes democratization in Eastern Europe and the End of Cold War. ...
The limited freedom of expression saw most opposition parties denied access to the media when conducting their political functions. The media content was normally dominated by news on the authoritarian governments. This had to be curbed with revolution being the only effective tool (Decalo 20).4 Another factor suggested by Decalo is the institutional factor (25-35).5 Most of the dynamics that characterized the negotiations were institutionalized in the post apartheid period. This led to a significant stability and consolidation of democracy. The rules, norms, formal and informal principles were widely accepted by the majority making the transition process possible. According to Decalo, the most crucial dynamic that underwent institutionalization is constitutionalism whereby all political groupings and civil organizations accepted the rule of law. The democratic changes that occurred in SA are also linked to international factors. According to Sola Akinrinade and Amadu Sesay in their book Africa in the Post-Cold War International System (eds.) the external factor that influenced transition in South Africa includes democratization in Eastern Europe and the End of Cold War. The end of World War II saw a rise in global political struggle for power between the United States and its associates from the West, and the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, allies of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe (Akinrinade & Sesay, 92-128).6 According to Akinrinade and Sesay (1998), the Eastern Europe group had less developed governments democratically and in the 1980s, the Soviet Union and its Eastern Europe allies went through vigorous democratic transitions, a period that also saw East and South East Asian countries leave
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The author states that native African ‘dissidents’ were jailed for long periods of time for inciting rebellion amongst the non-dominant majority. South Africa’s native population took over and the dominant group is no longer the white minority in that country. A dominant group is defined by who holds economic, political power over the minority.
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