Anti-Apartheid News

The October issue headlined the appeal by Nigeria and the frontline states for military support from other African countries to help repel South Africa’s invasion of Angola. It carried an eyewitness account of the disruption of the Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand. It recorded Sheffield’s path-breaking decision to sever all links with South Africa.  A page devoted to trade union action against apartheid outlined plans for a Week of Action against apartheid by British trade unionists.

This issue exposed the pro-apartheid bias of the British press in its reporting of South Africa’s incursion into Angola and exposed US complicity in the invasion. It reported on plans by more British local authorities to follow the example of Sheffield by declaring themselves apartheid-free zones. It listed British companies which attended a CBI conference on boosting trade with South Africa and advertised a conference organised jointly by the AAM and the Labour Party to plan for future Labour government action against apartheid.

South Africa was one step nearer making its own nuclear bomb, according to the front-page story in this issue of AA News. The newspaper again accused Western countries of sabotaging the UN initiative to negotiate independence for Namibia. Its centrespread set out the arguments for a cultural and academic boycott of South Africa and listed the many British artists who supported the boycott. It reported on the AAM’s week of trade union action against apartheid and on the latest developments in British support for striking Rowntrees workers in South Africa.

AA News designated 1982 the ‘Year of Mobilisation for Sanctions’, calling for support for the AAM’s ‘Southern Africa; the Time to Choose’ conference and demonstration on 11–14 March. It listed the raids made by South Africa’s armed forces on the frontline states in 1981. It highlighted the murder of anti-apartheid lawyer Griffiths Mxenge in South Africa and the new ban imposed on Winnie Mandela. An article by Jim Mortimer, the Labour Party’s General Secretary-designate, exposed the role of the US in preventing progress in the negotiations for an independence settlement in Namibia.

The March issue led on the killing of detained trade unionist Neil Aggett by the South African security police. It reported on the successes of the AAM’s sanctions and boycott campaign, including Elton John’s decision to cancel his proposed tour of South Africa. It showed how South Africa had increased its armed force in Namibia at the same time as paying lip-service to the need to negotiate. A centrespread featured the specific demands made by the AAM as part of its campaign for the total isolation of South Africa.

A report of the AAM’s ‘Southern Africa; the Time to Choose’ conference featured contributions by Labour Party leader Michael Foot and the former Vice-President of Nigeria, Dr Alex Ekwueme. The newspaper condemned the bombing of the ANC’s London office on the morning of the AAM demonstration on 14 March, at which one of the advertised speakers was ANC President Oliver Tambo. It reviewed British trade unionists support for striking workers at Rowntree Mackintosh’s South African subsidiary and exposed British support for South Africa’s nuclear programme.

The May issue called for action to save the lives of three young ANC guerrilla fighters condemned to hang by the apartheid government. It revealed that Nelson Mandela had been moved from Robben Island to a mainland prison and carried a tribute by Dr Yusuf Dadoo to Walter Sisulu to mark his 70th birthday. An interview with SWAPO representative Shapua Kaukungua explained how SWAPO was stepping up its armed struggle. AA News showed how British companies were expanding their operations in South Africa at the same time as they were laying off workers in Britain.

AA News revealed how the US had embarked on a programme of nuclear cooperation with South Africa. It called for support for a week of action by British trade unionists in support of striking workers at Rowntree Mackintosh’s South African subsidiary. Sam Ramsamy, Chair of the South African non-racial sports organisation SANROC reviewed the campaign for a sports boycott of South Africa. TUC General Secretary Len Murray pledged the TUC’s support for black trade unionists in South Africa. Special correspondent Jan Marsh reported on her recent visit to Mozambique.