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Apartheid Resistance Essay

The Role of External Pressure in the Fight Against Apartheid and Minority Rule in South Africa

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The Role of External Pressure in the Fight Against Apartheid and Minority Rule in South Africa

External pressure played a very important part in bringing about the end of the apartheid. The embodied rejection of White domination in South Africa, in formations of protests, strikes and demonstrations caused a decade of turbulent mass action in resistance to the imposition of still harsher forms of segregation and oppression.

The Defiance Campaign of 1952 carried mass mobilisation to new heights under the banner of non-violent resistance to the pass laws. These actions were influenced in part by the philosophy of Mohandas Gandhi.

A critical step in the emergence of non-racialism was the formation of…show more content…

Its attempt to prosecute more than 150 anti-Apartheid leaders for treason, in a trial that began in 1956, ended in acquittals in 1961. But by that time, mass organised opposition had been banned.

Matters came to a head at Sharpeville in March 1960, when 69 anti-pass demonstrators were killed when police fired on a demonstration called by the PAC. A state of emergency was imposed and detention without trial was introduced.

The Black political organisations were banned and their leaders went into exile or were arrested. In this climate, the ANC and PAC abandoned their long-standing commitment to non-violent resistance and turned to armed struggle, combined with underground organisation and mobilisation as well as mobilisation of international solidarity. Top leaders, including members of the newly formed military wing ?Umkhonto we Sizwe? (Spear of the Nation), were arrested in 1963. In the ?Rivonia trial?, eight ANC leaders, including Nelson Mandela, were convicted of sabotage (instead of treason, the original charge) and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 1952 the United Nations publicly condemned apartheid. Later in 1962 the UN recommended the use of economic sanctions on South Africa, initially this put a lot of pressure on the South African government but mysteriously not long after there was worldwide condemnation, South

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Introduction

During the 1980s, the apartheid government came under increasing internal pressure. The National Party attempted a political solution to the crisis it faced by creating the cosmetic Tricameral Parliament. This system of governance tampered with, but did not challenge apartheid.

The reforms had the opposite affect to what the apartheid regime intended. Reforms provided renewed impetus for the resistance movements, and the 1980s was a decade which became a turning point in South African history.

Popular protest by masses of ordinary South Africans against the apartheid regime reached its height in the 1980s, and the government responded with extreme brutality and repression.

The trigger of mass civil society protests in the 1980s:

1983 Tricameral Parliament

Under P.W. Botha, a tri-cameral (three chamber) parliament was created which included limited representation of South Africans classified 'Coloured' and 'Indian' but excluded Africans. Africans were seen to have political rights in the so-called 'homelands' or 'Independent Bantustans' and in local township councils.

Coloureds and Indians were to be given a greater (but still powerless) level of participation in the South African political system. Real political power would remain concentrated in the House of Assembly, the representatives of the 'White' minority.

Voters on separate ethnic voter's roles would elect the members of each chamber of parliament:

  • The House of Assembly (White representatives)

  • The House of Representatives (Coloured representatives)

  • The House of Delegates (Indian representatives)

The Conservative Party had a few seats in the whites-only Parliament. As the name implies, they were even more reactionary than the National Party. The Conservative Party said that the National Party did not have a mandate to implement the Tricameral reforms.

Botha proposed a Referendum through which white people could vote for their preference regarding the Tricameral Parliament. In November 1983, about 70 percent of white people voted in favour of the reforms.

The newly formed Liberation movement, the United Democratic Front (UDF), launched a massive nationwide campaign to dissuade Coloured and Indian voters from participating in the elections for the Houses of Representatives and Delegates.

Civil society protest against the Tricameral Parliament showed that the majority of South Africans were opposed to the new structure. Coloured and Indian voter turnout was extremely low, but in early 1985 the inauguration of the new Parliament went ahead regardless. Those who participated in the Tricameral system were called 'sell-outs', collaborators and 'puppets'.

The position of Prime Minister was abolished and replaced with an Executive President, a very powerful position for one person. P.W. Botha therefore became Head of Government and Head of State.

In reaction to these political developments, mass action campaigns swept through the country. These included strikes, mass protests and school, rent and consumer boycotts. Violence erupted on many occasions, and the Government responded by declaring a State of Emergency that lasted for much of the 1980s. Emergency regulations were used to severely restrict extra-parliamentary activities.

The homes of 'sell-outs', government buildings and beer halls were attacked. The apartheid government spoke of a 'total onslaught' by 'terrorists' and 'communists'. The army was sent into the townships in 1984, but the apartheid regime never recovered.

As one historian summed up the decade:

"The resistance of the mid-1980s destroyed utterly the 'total strategy' tactics of the Botha government. Tricameralism and African urban councils had been firmly rejected by the demand for 'People's Power'. The campaign to win hearts and minds was in tatters, with thousands in detention and an occupying army in the townships ... with the collapse of total strategy, the government seemed bankrupted of ideas, relying on internal repression and international bravadoÁƒÂ¢Á¢Â‚¬.

- Source 'Making of Modern South Africa' by Nigel Worden