Africa Notes: The Botha Era: An End or a Beginning? - October 1989
October 30, 1989
The years from 1978 until1989 saw profound changes in South Africa which, cumulatively, might prove as important to the region as the events currently sweeping Eastern Europe and China.
For the white ruling elite, it was an era that witnessed the death of an ideology. The cold and cerebral idealism of Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd, modern apartheid's chief architect, had by 1978 given way to a growing acceptance that apartheid was impractical and costly. Increasingly, whites were launched into a quest for a future in which power was shared but not surrendered, privilege dispersed but never lost. This government retreat from the old orthodoxies took place hesitantly by way of a program of reform and repression. It was an ambiguous mix: demanding a high degree of management skill-a skill, events were to prove, which was sorely lacking.