National reconciliation is an element which has characterized South Africa’s post-apartheid political discourse. The term “rainbow nation” coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, became emblematic of Mandela’s call for peace, harmony and the co-existence of all citizens. Mbeki, on the other hand, placed African unification above national reconciliation, but Jacob Zuma adds a new aspect to national reconciliation. This paper attempts to evaluate the national reconciliation policy under the presidency of Jacob Zuma, looking at factors which promote or discourage unity. Special emphasis is given to the government’s relationship with minority groups, especially the Afrikaner, which is at the frontline of the reconciliation debate. The findings are that reconciliation is strongly influenced by ethnopolitics and president Zuma’s attitude towards the rights of minority groups, whether exercised as a generous gesture or as a show of political strength.
Key words: Post-apartheid South Africa, National reconciliation, ethnicity, minority rights, Afrikaner.
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