South Africa's experience of the transition from apartheid following the Codesa negotiations and the KwaZulu-Natal peace talks was commended globally, and other conflict zones tried to use our model and know-how to resolve their problems.

Because of Mandela's stature, South Africa had a formidable presence in the international community during his term in office. When Thabo Mbeki took over, he led the initiative for development in Africa and campaigned for greater involvement of the continent's leaders in multilateral forums.

It was also during Mbeki's presidency that, as chair of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Union, he sent a special mission to Baghdad days before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

One of the most difficult things to explain to people is the brutality and intensity of the war that raged between the ANC and IFP in KwaZulu-Natal in the 1990s. The history books reduce the violence to a bland narration of events and statistics about the number of people killed. Articles you find online fail to adequately convey the horror of the time and the depth of human suffering in violence-ravaged parts of the province. Many of those who now hold the view that Nelson Mandela "sold out" and dismiss the early years simply as Rainbow Nation jingoism probably have little idea how complex it was to stop state involvement in the violence and disarm the warlords. There are still caches of illegal weapons that have not been unaccounted for.The peace negotiations between the ANC and IFP are now a footnote in history, and many are not aware of the frustration of the on-again-off-again talks as people continued to be killed in KwaZulu-Natal even after the 1999 elections. South Africa's ...

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