Endgame: Book Review


Endgame is yet another addition to the growing number of titles exploring aspects of one of the seduction efforts that eventually led to the conception of a democratic South Africa.

Written by noted academic, Professor Willie Esterhuyse, who himself was one of the band of influential Afrikaner South Africans who had clandestine meetings with top ANC representatives in the early nineties, Endgame is well worth the read as well as one of the must haves when it comes to bookshelves on the hows and whys of the democracy South Africa is today.

Starting back in 1987 he takes the reader on a journey involving South African politicians of that time as well as what was to many, the shadowy National Intelligence Service.

To this reviewer the involvement of the then South African government’s security apparatus is telling in that there were people, even then, who realised the writing was on the wall for apartheid and its separate development policies.

Esterhuyse takes the reader through meetings at various sites in England where top Afrikaner academics and businessmen met “the enemy” and realised they simply had to put their backs into it if South Africa was not to drift into civil war with the resultant economic disaster.

From genteel country lodges in the English countryside through to the conviviality that is English pubs there is personal insight into just how the opposing factions got to know each other, gradually building up trust to the stage where all were on the same side in agreeing apartheid must go to be replaced by a constitutional democracy.

Discussions about the release of political prisoners, notably Nelson Mandela, lifting the sports boycott and many others are dealt with in depth, but never in a boring manner.

All the ANC heavyweights are frequently mentioned and quoted as are some of the pillars of Afrikaner academia and business. It’s fascinating.

Whet this reviewer found even more fascinating, taking into account Endgame was only published last year, is how Esterhuyse reflects on the current status of the ANC.

Food for thought comes from this quote: “It is a tragic reality, but indisputably a clearly recognisable face of our country: the ANC government has failed to get direct and structural violence in the country under control.
“We have democracy and freedom, but not safety.
“The kind of violence we experience and the brutality that accompanies it even seems to be getting worse.
“Socio-economic inequalities, in other words, structured violence, have reached grotesque proportions. It contrasts with the obscene forms of materialism and self-enrichment promoted by the ANC leadership.
“What we are experiencing in the so-called post-apartheid era illustrates that freedom does not necessarily establish a culture of peace, nor does it automatically foster reconciliation.”

A comprehensive index as well as detailed notes add extra value for the scholar and Endgame should be required reading for political science students as well as for those with more than a passing interest in how South Africa got to where it is today.

Endgame: secret talks and the end of apartheid

Willie Esterhuyse

Tafelberg, an imprint of NB Publishers