Anti-Apartheid News

Britain’s failure to take action to end South African occupation of Namibia was the front page story of this issue. Labour spokesperson Donald Anderson described his visit to South Africa where he met UDF leader Albertina Sisulu. AA News reported on the release of the Kassinga detainees, held in detention since their abduction by the South African military in 1978. An exclusive report revealed the living conditions of women in Namibia’s African townships. 

This issue headlined Bishop Desmond Tutu’s call for economic pressure on the apartheid regime and asked readers to take part in the AAM’s month of boycott of action in March. In a New Year’s interview, Archbishop Trevor Huddleston said Namibia must now be a priority for the AAM. AA News reported on the decision by Nottingham City Council and Wrekin District Council to become apartheid-free zones, and previewed the upcoming second conference of Local Authority Action Against Apartheid. Louis Mahoney, of the actors union Equity argued against the call by Equity’s president Derek Bond to rethink the union’s apartheid boycott policy.

The March issue condemned the reversal by the Thatcher government of a ban on the import of South African uranium and pledged the AAM’s support for CANUC (Campaign Against the Namibian Uranium Contract). SANROC Secretary Sam Ramsamy reviewed the past year’s advances in the campaign for a boycott of South African sports teams. The centrespread listed the products the AAM was asking its supporters not to buy during its March month of boycott. AA News reported on the impact of the strike by Dunnes Stores workers in Dublin on sales of South African goods by other Irish retailers.

The April issue headlined an appeal by Commonwealth Secretary General Shridath Ramphal to governments, corporations and individuals to impose sanctions against South Africa. It reported on a week of anti-apartheid action by British local authorities and on SACTU’s (South African Congress of Trades Unions) 30th anniversary rally. The centrespread celebrated the 25th anniversary of the formation of SWAPO of Namibia. AA News reprinted the full text of Nelson Mandela’s statement rejecting the offer by the South African President P W Botha to free him if he renounced armed struggle.

AA News highlighted support from the UDF (United Democratic Front), CUSA (Council of Unions of South Africa) and SWAPO for the disinvestment campaign. It reported on the daily vigils held outside the South African embassy in London by the AAM’s new Multi-Faith Committee. In an eyewitness account, Rev John Wheeler exposed the destruction wreaked by South African armed forces in northern Namibia. The centrespread listed ten immediate demands to the British government, including a ban on new investment in South Africa. The newspaper featured the London festival of African music organised by Julian Bahula and the growing movement of people’s drama within South Africa.


Britain was increasingly isolated by the global move to impose sanctions against South Africa, argued AA News. The issue featured reports of anti-apartheid action from local AA groups all over Britain and on the dozens of British local authorities who had declared themselves to be apartheid-free zones. Inside South Africa the UDF was organising mass non-violent action, while its leaders were on trial for calling for support for the Freedom Charter. A special report highlighted the record-breaking strike wave in the eastern Cape and other South African industrial centres.

This issue headlined the AAM’s 16 June demonstration calling for sanctions against South Africa. Frene Ginwala of the ANC and Ellen Musialela of SWAPO looked back on ten years of women’s struggle and Barbara Masekela previewed the British tour by the ANC cultural ensemble Amandla. A special correspondent reported on the New Zealand campaign to stop the All Blacks planned tour of South Africa. Under the headline ‘Boycott tide moves up the fjords’, AA News reported on Oslo City Council’s moves to stop all contacts with apartheid. 

‘We are engaged in war for peace’ was the message from South Africa’s Release Mandela Committee featured in this issue of AA News. The newspaper also headlined British trade union action against apartheid and carried an article by TUC General Secretary Norman Willis backing the AAM’s South African boycott campaign. The AAM launched a three-month of intensive action to pressure the British Government to support mandatory sanctions at the UN and to appeal to the British people to take action in their daily lives to isolate apartheid. In a special interview, Aziz Pahad told AA News about the decisions taken at the ANC’s second National Consultative Conference held in Kabwe, Zambia.