Anti-Apartheid News

The March issue called for support for the AAM’s first ever national lobby of Parliament on the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre, 21 March. A centrespread reported on the recent tour of Southern Africa by the AAM's President, Archbishop Trevor Huddleston. SWAPO leader Jacob Hannai stressed that there was no truth in reports that South Africa was about to pull out of Namibia and Jan Marsh reported on the failure of South Africa’s recent invasion of Angola. Sonia Bunting of SATIS (Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society) described conditions for women political prisoners.

The April issue celebrated the release from Robben Island of Namibian leader Herman Toivo ja Toivo. In a round-up of British local authority action against apartheid, it reported on the award of the freedom of the city to Nelson Mandela by Aberdeen City Council. A special correspondent explained the background to the Nkomati Accord between South Africa and  Mozambique. Vella Pillay analysed the problems faced by the South African economy in the context of a fall of foreign capital investment.

AA News played down the significance of the Nkomati Accord between Mozambique and South Africa, under which the ANC was required to close down its office there. Local activists reviewed the AAM’s mass lobby of Parliament. Eleanor Khanyile from the ANC appealed for support from British women, and a survivor of the South African massacre of Namibian refugees at Kassinga in 1978 told how Namibian women and children were dying in South African prison camps. The issue reported on the Inter-faith Colloquium Against Apartheid held at Church House, Westminster.

South African President P W Botha’s visit to London on 2 June was the focus of this issue of AA News. The newspaper advertised plans for a national demonstration in protest against the visit. It also publicised the AAM’s National Convention against Apartheid on 23-24 June. It revealed wide loopholes in the UN mandatory arms embargo, which meant that half of ARMSCOR’s total budget was still spent overseas. South African interference in elections in Lesotho and the alliance of the apartheid government with the fascist dictatorship in Chile were exposed in feature articles.

AA News again focused on breaches of the UN arms embargo, revealing President Botha’s request for British Coastguarder aircraft. It reported on the wave of defiance sweeping South Africa and the UDF’s campaign for a boycott of phoney elections to be held under South Africa’s new constitution. It alerted shoppers to new categories of products exported to Britain from South Africa and reported on plans by Nottinghamshire’s new Labour Council to review how apartheid was portrayed in its schools. A report from the aid agency War on Want examined the progress of the SADCC (Southern African Development Coordination Conference) since its formation in 1980.

A cartoon by Steve Bell illustrated AA News’ front page story on the rejection of South Africa’s new constitution by the Indian and ‘Coloured’ (mixed race) communities. This issue honoured Jeanette Schoon and her six-year old daughter Katryn, murdered by a South African parcel bomb in August. It reviewed a film about the Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand in 1981 and called for the cancellation of the planned 1984 tour of South Africa by the English Rugby Union. A dispatch from St Lucia asked the AAM to support activists in the Caribbean in their anti-apartheid campaigns.

The October issue headlined school boycotts and a series of sabotage attacks against power stations and South Africa’s Supreme Court. A special correspondent examined the background to the new wave of anti-apartheid resistance inside South Africa. Former political prisoner David Kitson exposed conditions in Pretoria Central Prison. Local activists in Britain described campaigns to build the cultural and academic boycotts. The centrespread outlined plans for a Week of Action against South Africa’s illegal occupation of Namibia.

The November issue carried a message from the six UDF leaders seeking refuge inside Britain’s consulate in Durban. It examined the City of London’s collusion with apartheid and reported on the campaign by End Loans to Southern Africa (ELTSA) to stop British bank loans to South Africa. The centrespread highlighted the new wave of protests by South African school students. A special correspondent described the mushrooming growth of the South African National Union of Mineworkers. This issue also reported on the campaign by the university teachers union AUT to end British funding for South Africa’s Astronomical Observatory.