Tony Leon Columnist

Roelf Meyer, National Party chief negotiator during SA’s dramatic transition from apartheid to majority rule, once recounted an interesting behind-the-scenes moment with his opposite number from the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa. It was mid-winter, July 1992, and in a bleak squatter camp called Boipatong, south of Johannesburg, 45 people were “shot, stabbed and hacked to death”, converting the area to a grim killing field — emblematic of the Inkatha-ANC war in which the ANC believed the hidden hand of the apartheid state was either complicit or inattentive. Nelson Mandela went on television, shaking with anger, and announced his party’s withdrawal from the stalled constitutional negotiations and the commencement of mass action, which ensued for a rather terrifying three months. Meyer later recounted that while he was watching Mandela’s TV denouncement of his party and his leader, FW de Klerk, his telephone rang. Ramaphosa was on the line asking when the two of them could meet. Patti Waldmeir...

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