25th years since the fall of Bophuthatswana (12.03.1994)

This week, on the 12th March 2019, marked 25 years since the Bophuthatswana Bantustan ceased to exist. The 12th March 1994 remains a memorable one for the people of North West, as their Bantustan government under the leadership of the late Chief Lucas Mangope fell from power. A number of people were jubilant when they saw the fall of Bophuthatswana government, while others, especially the civil servants, were sad expressing some grief. We were on the eve of the democratic elections in South Africa, and Chief Mangope was reluctant to relinquish power and participate in the national democratic elections, which were going to result in seeing the new South Africa being born. When Mangope realised that the national elections were inevitable and the African National Congress (ANC) had resorted to mass actions in the Bantustan, he sought help his partners  Freedom Alliance/Front and General Constant Viljoen, a retired  chief of the South African Defence Force (SANDF). The proceedings of the day left the South Africans in shock as members of AWB drove in to Mmabatho, the then capital of Bophuthatswana, and started to shoot at black people. The Bophuthatswana army responded with fire when they  executed three AWB men, an event which was televised. Such events sent a strong message that democracy was imminent.

Twenty-five years later under democracy, the people of North West and some in Gauteng (Ga-Rankuwa, Mabopane, Hammanskraal, etc.) which fell under the Bantustan, miss Bophuthatswana. Many who I have interacted with speak proudly about how there was law and order, service delivery and employment among others under the Bop government. They have expressed some disappointment in how the ANC-led government has destroyed a working system in the last 25 years. Corruption, lawlessness, lack of service delivery, unemployment and others are what are perceived to describe the ANC government in the North West. And this is disappointing. Democracy was inevitable in 1994. The ANC and the National Party led government played a commendable role in delivering democracy to the people of South Africa, most particularly in Kwa-Zulu Natal and North West. However, the transition had to take the North West forward, and not backward. And this year’s national elections will be hotly contested in the North West because of what the ANC has failed to do in the last 25 years. South Africans should not find themselves embracing what the apartheid Bantustans had achieved over what the democratically elected government has achieved. I would be very embarrassed if I was the leader of the ANC.

The late Chief Mangope and Bophuthatswana made their mark! 25 years later, the people of North West still talk about the good things they achieved under them, despite their imperfections. Can the same be said about the ANC since it got to power in this province 25 years ago ?


Thabo Tswai | Cell : 060 377 4918



Kubumedia Magazine | South Africa | International News online magazine

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