South Africa's parliament Friday ended a testing and often turbulent five-month session marking the end of the transition from white rule to democracy.
Parliament began a six-week recess with the political landscape much changed since President Nelson Mandela opened the with a call for "a new patriotism . . . a determination to work together and make our country a winning nation."Trevor Manuel, who became the country's first black finance minister in March, tabled the first post-apartheid economic strategy last week, committing the government to fiscal discipline and investor-friendly policies.
Legislators beat a May 10 deadline by hours to adopt a constitutional blueprint that casts off most of the interim curbs on full democracy and clears the way for majority rule.
And F.W. de Klerk, the former white president who repudiated apartheid and gave Mandela his freedom in 1990, announced that his white-led National Party would quit the transitional coalition next week to go into opposition.
Citing the ANC's rejection of entrenched power-sharing as the reason for his decision to quit the government of national unity three years early, de Klerk said: "I promise you a very, very difficult time from now onwards."
Manuel's appointment, combined with unfounded rumours that Mandela was ill, slashed the value of the rand against the dollar by more than 20 percent since mid-February.
University of Cape Town political analyst Robert Schrire said the session had been a watershed between the managed transition from white rule and the beginning of real democracy.
The country's 490 National Assembly and Senate members spent much of the session debating the first South African budget prepared entirely under democratic rule.
They adopted nearly 40 laws.