Dissentient Afrikaner nationalist, who since 1949 expressed their dissatisfaction with the policy of apartheid, set the tone for the subsequent era of enlightened political thought. In 1966, during the Vorster-era, discontent with the apartheid ideology manifested with the battle between the verkramptes (ultra-conservative) andverligtes (enlightened) within the National Party. The verligtes favoured an
approach of cooperation and co-existence en therefore supported the outward-policy and reforms of Vorster. Vorsterís style of government, the political situation (Soweto-uprisings) and economic realities, contributed to increased support for the I>verligtes. This also strengthened their position and enabled them to apply pressure to the government that led to far-reaching consequences for apartheid, including
the opening up of amenities and the appointment of the Erika Theron, Wiehahn and Riekert Commissions.
Up until 1984, P.W. Botha supported and promoted the ideals of theverligtes. He, together with the verligtes expanded on the idea of coexistence to also include elements of participation, joint decisionmaking and power sharing (tri-cameral parliament), all of which excluded blacks. The influence of the verligtes became more consolidated despite the increasing alienation between them and Botha. They no
longer shared Bothaís view of the Afrikaner as the sole centre of political influence and power. They believed negotiations with the blacks (ANC) to be an essential element of any process aimed at establishing a democratic dispensation in South Africa. Due to the eruption of black resistance in 1984, coupled with a slump in economy and increasing foreign pressure on the government, enlightened elements within the National Party became increasingly frustrated with the slow pace of reform. All of this led to the rise of the new nats who clearly stated their demands for reform in the media and who
would henceforth have an indelible influence on politics. New nats engaged in behind-the-scenes discussions with the ANC which paved the way for negotiations.
As pragmatist, F.W. de Klerk could not ignore the increasing demands for comprehensive reforms by the verligtes and the new nats. He succeeded in unifying these two factions within the National Party, who subsequently adopted the ideological position and political aims of the new nats and were known as the verligtes. The 1990s heralded the era of negotiations for a new democratic political dispensation in South Africa. De Klerk and the verligtes did not share the same objectives in terms of the intended outcome of the negotiations. De Klerk wanted to ensure continued white political supremacy, while the verligtes believed that the ANCís numerical superiority would necessarily lead to a government dominated by the majority. Initially, the verligtes would allow themselves to be swept along by De Klerk
in his efforts to ensure a power-sharing agreement, which made provision for protection of minority rights. They were, however, forced to a paradigm shift due to pressure resulting from political, economic and demographic realities. These divergent goals resulted in a transitional democratic constitution characterised by many shortcomings. As a direct result of these, the verligtes contributed to the political
disempowerment of the Afrikaner since 1994.