After South Africa left the Commonwealth in 1961 the British government passed a ‘standstill Bill’ postponing the removal of Commonwealth trade preferences. In March 1962 the AAM organised a lobby of Parliament against the renewal of the Bill. This memo briefed lobbyists and listed the Conservative MPs most likely to oppose the Bill.
The AAM prepared this memorandum for the Labour government elected in October 1964. It asked the government to support UN sanctions against South Africa, commit itself to freedom for South West Africa (Namibia) and contribute to the Defence and Aid Fund. It also pressed for a more stringent arms embargo.
Sir Geoffrey Bindman is a lawyer and was Chair of Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS ). SATIS publicised political trials, called for the release of those detained without trial and mobilised public opinion against the hanging of political prisoners.It campaigned for the release of thousands of anti-apartheid activists, including many children, detained under the States of Emergency imposed in the mid-1980s.
In this clip Sir Geoffrey describes the lesson he learnt from Trevor Huddleston never to give up in apparently hopeless campaigns.
In 1973 the low wages paid to black workers by the South African subsidiaries of British companies hit the headlines with the publication of a series of articles by Adam Raphael in the Guardian newspaper. The AAM submitted this memorandum to a House of Commons sub-committee tasked with enquiring into the operations of British companies in South Africa. The memorandum argued that all British economic involvement in South Africa supported apartheid and that British firms should pull out. The government rejected this argument and instead instituted a code of conduct for British companies operating in South Africa.
Letter following up a meeting between an AAM delegation and Foreign Office Minister Ted Rowlands to discuss the AAM’s memorandum of 19 April 1976 on Britain’s arms embargo. The letter detailed loopholes in the arms embargo and exposed the fact that South Africa had access to the NATO Codification System.
After the killing of Steve Biko and banning of anti-apartheid organisations in South Africa in 1977, the British government voted for a UN mandatory arms embargo against South Africa. At the same time it announced it would veto a draft UN Security Council resolution imposing economic sanctions. This letter from the AAM’s President Bishop Ambrose Reeves expressed dismay at the decision to veto and asked for a meeting with the Prime Minister.
In 1977 the British government set up the Bingham Inquiry into allegations that Shell and BP had supplied oil to Rhodesia in contravention of UN sanctions. This submission exposed Shell and BP’s sanctions busting operations. It asked the British government to press South Africa to allow international scrutiny of British-owned oil companies in South Africa.
Letter to Foreign Secretary David Owen from the AAM’s Hon. Secretary Abdul Minty in November 1978 enclosing evidence of breaches of the British arms embargo against South Africa and calling for a parliamentary inquiry.
The Bingham Inquiry found that British oil companies Shell and BP had supplied oil to Rhodesia in contravention of UN sanctions. This memorandum asked the British government to ensure that the companies restricted oil supplies to South Africa to pre-UDI levels to prevent the re-export of oil to the illegal Smith regime. It called for the extension of sanctions to South Africa unless it gave assurances that it would implement UN sanctions against Rhodesia.
Memorandum presented by the AAM at a meeting with Richard Luce, Under Secretary at the Foreign Office, in June 1980. The AAM protested at Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s statement welcoming changes in South Africa’s domestic policies, after police had opened fire on students in Cape Town. It questioned the British government’s claim that it had no standing on the issue of the release of Nelson Mandela.
Letter from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher commenting on the AAM’s memorandum of June 1980. She reiterated that the government had no standing in the case of Nelson Mandela, although she said his release would be ‘widely welcomed’.
Letter to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher calling on the British government to support UN mandatory economic sanctions against South Africa in response to South Africa’s invasion of Angola in 1981.
In March 1982 undercover South Africa agents planted a bomb at the ANC’s London office which did extensive damage. The bomb followed a series of burglaries at the offices of the AAM and other Southern African solidarity groups. This memorandum asked the British government to investigate the activities of staff at the South African Embassy in London. It alleged that South Africa used London as a centre for planning subversive activities against independent African states.
Ruth First was assassinated by South African agents in Mozambique in August 1982. The AAM wrote to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher showing that the killing was part of an escalating pattern of South African aggression, including the bombing of the ANC’s London office in March 1982. It asked her to instruct the British Ambassador in Cape Town to make a formal protest to the apartheid government.
Letter to Prime Minister Harold Wilson about the operations of BOSS agents in the UK. The AAM asked the government to end all liaison between the British and South African intelligence services.
In November 1967 reports in the British press suggested that the Labour government was about to lift its arms embargo against South Africa. The AAM wrote to Foreign Secretary George Brown, who agreed to meet an AAM delegation, but failed to give assurances that the arms ban would be maintained. After protests from Labour MPs and three crisis Cabinet meetings, Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced that the arms embargo would stay.
The AAM carried out detailed research into the loopholes in the arms embargo imposed by the 1974–79 Labour government against South Africa. This memorandum showed how the South African Defence Force was obtaining a wide range of British military equipment in spite of the embargo.
In 1976 the AAM received evidence that the illegal white minority regime in Rhodesia was obtaining British military equipment from South Africa for use in its war against ZANU and ZAPU guerrilla fighters. This letter asked Prime Minister James Callaghan to tighten the British arms embargo against South Africa.
In 1976 the AAM publicised Barclays Bank’s purchase of South African defence bonds, issued to help the apartheid government fight SWAPO guerrillas in Namibia. This letter from Prime Minister James Callaghan to AAM Chair Bob Hughes MP acknowledged that public opinion in Britain was opposed to the purchase and promised to raise the matter with Barclays.
Letter from AAM Executive Secretary Basil Manning, written on behalf of Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS), to Foreign Secretary James Callaghan, asking the British government to send observers to the trial of black consciousness movement leaders in South Africa in 1975.