1987 to 2013

In September 1986, Frederick van Zyl Slabbert and Alex Boraine announced that the Institute for a Democratic Alternative (Idasa) would be launched  to debate and imagine what a non-racial democracy in South Africa could and should look like. The Institute would encourage white South Africans to talk and engage with black South Africans through regional and national forums set up to oppose apartheid structures.

In February 1987 Idasa opened the doors of the first regional offices in Port Elizabeth. Its first board of trustees boasted illustrious names associated with the struggle against apartheid – Dr. Nthato Motlana, Prof. Jakes Gerwel, Archbishop Denis Hurley, Rev De Villiers Soga among others. Dr Beyers Naude of the South African Council of Churches was elected as chairman of the first board.

For more than two decades Idasa became synonymous with the process of political change in South Africa.

After its founding conferences on Goree Island at which the ANC in exile met with Afrikaners from apartheid South Africa and in Port Elizabeth where a wide range of South Africans met with mass democratic movement activists, the Institute became a critical guarantor of a negotiated transition to democracy and supporter of the building of a constitutional state. 

Those interested in accessing the archives of the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for South Africa, subsequently Idasa – an African Democracy Institute will find them at: 


Requests for copyright should be addressed to where the publisher is given as Idasa.