Anti-Apartheid News

The May issue called for action to ‘Save the ANC Six’, six young ANC members sentenced to death for sabotage. Labour MEP Alf Lomas wrote about a row in the European Parliament over its failure to take any action against South Africa. AA News reported on plans by the London borough of Greenwich to make Nelson Mandela an honorary freeman and on a conference of local authorities held in Sheffield to coordinate the campaign for setting up more apartheid-free zones. It also reported on the formation of a new co-ordinating committee to campaign for Mandela’s release. A centrespread described campaigns by British nurses and students to end emigration to South Africa.

AA News listed the names of artists who had visited South Africa in defiance of the cultural boycott and celebrated the many musicians who supported the liberation struggle. This issue revealed how the British electronics company Marconi was selling equipment for the South African military and questioned IMF support for the apartheid government. It outlined plans to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 65th birthday and relayed a message from the mother of Jerry Mosololi, one of the six ANC freedom fighters condemned to death in Pretoria.

AA News led on the hanging of three young South African freedom fighters in defiance of protests from all over the world. Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Free Nelson Mandela Campaign Coordinating Committee, explained Mandela’s importance as a symbol of resistance to apartheid. Father Michael Lapsley told AA News why he had joined the ANC and supported its policy of armed struggle. A centrespread celebrated 9 August, South Africa Women’s Day and the part played by South African and Namibian women in the anti-apartheid struggle.

The September issue accused the re-elected Thatcher government of moving towards an open alliance with apartheid South Africa. It reported on the strengthening alliance between Israel and South Africa and on British imports of uranium from Namibia. in a special interview, Hugh Masekela told AA News how he was given his first trumpet by Archbishop Trevor Huddleston. AA News reported on moves towards forming a new trade union federation by South Africa’s independent trade unions and on the election of veteran trade unionist Oscar Mpetha as president of the anti-apartheid United Democratic Front.

The October issue hailed the formation of the United Democratic Front in Cape Town as a big step forward in the anti-apartheid struggle. It outlined plans for a Week of Action against South Africa’s illegal occupation of Namibia, and exposed endemic malnutrition and disease in the Bantustans and black townships. It showed how the Western mainstream media misrepresented the war in Angola. Former political detainee Rev Cedric Mason described the tactics used by the South African security police to break the spirit of political prisoners.

AA News revealed how British nuclear technology had made it possible for South Africa to build a nuclear reactor and how this was contributing to the country’s nuclear weapons programme. It carried an eyewitness account of the war in Angola and exposed how the apartheid government was trying to starve Lesotho into submission. Former political prisoner and playwright David Evans set out the arguments for an economic, cultural and sporting boycott of South Africa. In an obituary for South African Communist Party Chair Dr Yusuf Dadoo, Vella Pillay recalled his role in the first moves towards uniting the African National Congress and the Indian Congress in the 1950s. 

Black workers in the Ciskei Bantustan were being subjected to arbitrary detentions and arrests, reported this issue. The newspaper highlighted the eviction of residents from Cape Town’s Crossroads informal settlement and township resistance to so-called community councils. It accused the British Government of using South Africa as a staging post for the building of a new airforce base in the Falklands. The AAM’s annual general meeting heard a first-hand report of the setting up of the United Democratic Front in South Africa. A Newcastle upon Tyne local councillor told AA News how the council was implementing its commitment to make the city an apartheid free zone.

The first issue of 1984 led on the relaunch of the consumer boycott of South Africa. It took up the ANC’s call to celebrate 1984 as the Year of the Women. AA News reported on the success of the campaign for the suspension of South Africa from the International Planned Parenthood Federation and on the trauma of childbirth for black South African women. GLC Race Relations Advisor Herman Ouseley told AA News about plans for London’s Anti-Racist Year. David Rabkin described life as a South African political prisoner.