Anti-Apartheid News

The July-August issue again featured the sabotaging of the UN Plan for Namibian independence by the Western members of the UN Contact Group. It reported on the decision by the London Borough of Brent to declare itself an apartheid-free zone and a recommendation by the Church of England’s Board of Social Responsibility that the church should disinvest from South Africa. It exposed South Africa’s fraudulent legal system. Under the headline ‘Women in Struggle’, it explained what apartheid meant for the lives of black women in South Africa and Namibia.

The September issue led on the assassination of Ruth First by South African agents in Mozambique. It featured the some of the many fronts of the British boycott campaign, including action to ban ads for South African products from the London Underground, for a ban on the import of Ford trucks from South Africa, and the withdrawal of several countries from the Stoke Mandeville Paraplegic Games in protest against the participation of apartheid sports teams. The newspaper reported on the ‘Culture and Resistance’ conference held in Botswana and on the reggae band UB40’s support for a cultural boycott of South Africa. 

The front page of this issue focused on South African and Namibian political prisoners, featuring campaigns to save the lives of six young men sentenced to death and a new international initiative calling for the release of Nelson Mandela. The newspaper carried horrifying pictures of a massacre by South African soldiers of women and children in northern Namibia. A centrespread reported on a new wave of strikes by black South African workers and highlighted British TUC support for mandatory UN sanctions. In a moving obituary, Ronald Segal remembered Ruth First, killed by a bomb placed by South African BOSS agents.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne was the latest British city to declare itself an apartheid-free zone, reported this issue of AA News. The newspaper initiated a discussion of the cultural boycott of South Africa and attitudes to visits by South African cultural groups opposed to apartheid. It reported on the trial of two men charged with breaking in to London offices of the ANC and SWAPO. In an interview, SWAPO Women’s leader Frieda Williams described the movement’s initiatives to support refugee women and children. The newspaper also carried extracts from an interview recorded in South Africa with Winnie Mandela.

The December issue exposed the complicity of the South African Embassy in smuggling British military equipment to South Africa in contravention of the UN arms embargo. The centrespread reproduced leaked documents showing how BOSS agents spied on anti-apartheid activists. The newspaper protested against the IMF’s decision to lend to South Africa and reported on action against British firms with operations in Namibia. It reported on British trade union support for South African workers showed how African freedom songs were influencing British pop music. 

January’s new year issue set out the AAM’s priorities for 1983, including a pledge to step up its demands for an inquiry into South African undercover agents operating in Britain. It carried an eyewitness account of the Maseru massacre, when the South African Defence Force killed 42 South African refugees and local residents. In a special feature on British local government action against apartheid, it reviewed action taken by Sheffield Council to implement its apartheid-free zone declaration. It also showed how the British Government had failed to implement the Commonwealth Gleneagles Agreement on ending sporting contacts with South Africa.

AA News again called for economic sanctions against South Africa, in the context of Western countries collusion with the apartheid government over its illegal occupation of Namibia. A special feature by Alan Brooks argued that the AAM had won the debate over codes of conduct for British companies in South Africa and that they had failed to improve black workers wages. The newspaper paid tribute to Canon John Collins, President of the International Defence and Aid Fund, who died in January 1983. It reported on the ‘Culture and Resistance’ conference held in Amsterdam, which pledged to step up the cultural boycott of South Africa and to promote an alternative resistance culture.

AA News asked voters to ‘elect to act against apartheid’ in the run-up to the June 1983 British General Election. In a special interview, Dr Yusuf Dadoo showed how South Africa’s new constitution perpetuated apartheid. The newspaper reported on ongoing South African student opposition to apartheid and on SWAPO’s armed struggle in Namibia. It revealed the names on a long list of British MPs who had visited South Africa on freebies paid for by the South African government. Elaine Unterhalter described how black families were being dumped in the Bantustans after their homes in Johannesburg and the Cape had been pulled down by apartheid local authorities.