The second of February marks the 30th anniversary of former president and National Party leader FW De Klerk’s announcement of the release of former President Nelson Mandela from prison and the unbanning of all political parties.

African National Congress (ANC) veteran who was in exile, Pallo Jordan, says the announcement did not come as a surprise. He told SABC news that he already had De Klerk’s speech before he read it in Parliament. Jordan says he was in Harare at the time.

“I still want to comment my comrade; one of our senior comrades who had been arrested during the Wange campaign in 1967 in Zimbabwe had been released in Zimbabwe in 1980, and was now working in Zimbabwe for the ANC. He had some intelligence capacity. And before De Klerk got on the air, he said I think you would like to see this and he handed me a copy of De Klerk’s Speech. I never asked Bra Ike how he obtained it, because that was his work to get things like that. And I said Oh. I read it and then of course by the time De Klerk was speaking,  I knew what he was going to say because I read it.”

The ANC, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) subsequently paved the way for the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners.

These developments moved the country to negotiations followed by the first democratic elections in 1994.

The ANC will celebrate the day at the Johannesburg City Hall late on Sunday afternoon which will coincide with a tribute event in honour of the party’s late struggle icon Ben Turok.
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