On February 2 1990 SA president FW de Klerk announced the unbanning of the ANC, SACP and Pan Africanist Congress, and the release of struggle stalwart Nelson Mandela. It was a seminal moment for the country — the start of the negotiations that would bring about the end of apartheid and the transition to multiparty democracy. But these were by no means the first negotiations between the opposing sides.

In Breakthrough: The Struggles and Secret Talks that Brought Apartheid SA to the Negotiating Table, Mac Maharaj and Z Pallo Jordan draw on a range of historical sources — including Mandela’s prison files, minutes of ANC meetings, notes from the secret negotiations between the ANC and the apartheid government at the Mells Park country estate in the UK, and the Broederbond archives, among others — to tell the backstory of SA’s negotiated transition. This is an edited extract...

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