After ten hours of discussion between the NP and the ANC, the two main parties were joined by delegations from both COSATU and business to discuss the property and lock-out clauses. Ramaphosa came away from the meeting stating that he was ‘1 000 per cent sure of adopting the Constitution on May 8’. His confidence was based on significant agreements on the education, official languages and lock-out clauses reached that day.

I got out of that meeting feeling fairly upbeat. I thought that a sound basis had been laid to resolve nearly all the difficult matters and, as it turned out, it was a false start. It was a false consensus and I almost felt like there was a little bit of egg on my face, but because we had laid a sound basis for continuing the talks, I quietly and silently in my heart thought that we will be able to resolve the problems.


then Chair of the Constitutional Assembly

There were other obstacles besides the false starts. The smaller parties, which were not part of the meeting with the President and Deputy President, voiced their great frustration.

I would say it is almost not democratic because … it looked like what we did throughout the months and the years before was pushed aside to finally allow what the major political parties wanted.

Kenneth Meshoe

Member of The ACDP

Since Arniston the process has started looking increasingly chaotic and is no longer conducive to constitution-making.

Constand Viljoen

then Freedom Front member of the Constitutional Assembly

Ramaphosa assured the smaller parties that nothing was finalised. Many hours of further discussion clearly lay ahead.

Cyril Ramaphosa, President Mandela, Deputy President FW de Klerk and Roelf Meyer meeting the press after an urgent day-long meeting at the President’s residence. Robert Botha


Audio Visual

President Mandela gives his State of the Nation address in Parliament. Mandela ends his address with the words, “Let us all get down to work”.

“We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political and the human rights of all our citizens.”– President Mandela, extract from State of the Nation Address, 24 May 1994

President Nelson Mandela announces his cabinet. It includes members of the African National Congress, National Party and Inkatha Freedom Party.

“There was pride in serving in the first democratic government in South Africa, and then the additional pride of serving under the iconic leadership of Nelson Mandela … [He] represented the hopes of not just our country, but of oppressed, marginalised and the poor in the world.”– Jay Naidoo, then Minister of RDP housing
“We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered. We speak as fellow citizens to heal the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based on justice for all.”– President Nelson Mandela, 10 May 1994