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The Dakar Declaration: Communiqué issued after a IDSA organised conference with the ANC in Dakar

12 June 1987

1. A Conference organised by the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for South Africa (Idasa) took place in Dakar, Senegal, from 9th to 12th July, 1987. The participants comprised 61 South Africans, of whom the majority were Afrikaans-speaking persons who had come from South Africa, and a 17-person delegation from the African National Congress.

2. His Excellency, President Abdou Diouf, welcomed the participants and gave them exceptional hospitality.

3. The participants from South Africa took part in their individual capacities. They shared a common commitment of having rejected both the ideology and practice of the apartheid system. They were drawn from the academic, professional, cultural, religious and business fields.

4. Although the group represented no organised formation within South Africa, their place within - particularly - the Afrikaans-speaking communities and the fact that they were meeting with the ANC invested the Conference with an overwhelming atmosphere that this was part of the process of the South African people making history. In similar manner the international community focused its attention on the Conference. Participants could not but be aware that some of the adherents of apartheid regarded the participation of the group as an act of betrayal, not only of the apartheid state, but also of the community of Afrikanerdom.

  • The Conference was organised around four principal topics:
  • Strategies for bringing about fundamental change in South Africa.
  • The building of national unity.
  • Perspectives with regard to the structures of the government of a free South Africa.
  • The economy of a liberated South Africa.

5. The discussions took place in an atmosphere of cordiality and a unity of purpose arising from a shared commitment towards the removal of the apartheid system and the building of a united, democratic and non-racial South Africa.

6. The group listened to and closely questioned the perspectives, goals and strategies of the ANC. The main area of concern arose over the ANC` s resolve to maintain and intensify the armed struggle. The group accepted the historical reality of the armed struggle and, although not all could support it, everyone was deeply concerned over the proliferation of uncontrolled violence. However, all participants recognised that the source of violence in South Africa derives from the fact that the use of force is fundamental to the existence and practice of racial domination. The group developed an understanding of the conditions which have generated a widespread revolt by the black people as well as the importance of the ANC as a factor in resolving the conflict.

7. Conference unanimously expressed preference for a negotiated resolution of the South African question. Participants recognised that the attitude of those in power is the principal obstacle to progress in this regard. It was further accepted that the unconditional release of all political leaders in prison or detention and the unbanning of all organisations are fundamental prerequisites for such negotiations to take place.

8. Proceeding from the common basis that there is an urgent necessity to realise the goal of a non-racial democracy, participants agreed that they had an obligation to act for the achievement of this objective. They accepted that different strategies must be used in accordance with the possibilities available to the various forces opposed to the system of apartheid. They accepted that in its conduct this struggle must assist in the furtherance of both democratic practice and in the building of a nation of all South Africans - black and white.

9. It was accepted by the two delegations that further contacts were necessary. Equally, it was important that such contacts should involve more and wider sections of the South African people in order to dispel misunderstanding and fear, and to reinforce the broad democratic movement.

10. Conference expressed profound appreciation to His Excellency, President Abdou Diouf, and the government and people of Senegal for the warm welcome extended to the delegates as well as the assistance afforded to them to assure the success of the Conference. It further expressed gratitude to Mrs Danielle Mitterrand for her assistance in organising the Conference and extended thanks to all other governments and individuals who contributed material resources to make the Conference possible.