Anti-Apartheid News

The October issue asked AAM supporters to make the demonstration for sanctions on 2 November the biggest in the history of the AAM. Vella Pillay exposed the problems faced by South Africa’s economy and the withdrawal of foreign investment. Glenys Kinnock told AA News about her recent visit to the ANC’s Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO) in Tanzania. A centrespread focused on the impact of sanctions and consumer boycott. A special article reported on plans to overhaul the structure and finances of the AAM so that it could channel the new wave of anti-apartheid activism in Britain and the world.

‘The old is giving way to the new’, ANC President Oliver Tambo told the October 1985 Labour Party conference. AA News reported on his appeal to the British people to end Britain’s alliance with apartheid South Africa. SWAPO representative Shapua Kaukungua asked AAM supporters not to forget Namibia in the build-up to the AAM’s sanctions demonstration in November. A centrespread exposed breaches of the UN mandatory arms embargo. In a breakthrough in British churches opposition to apartheid, members of a British Council of Churches delegation to South Africa said that a new stage had been reached in resistance to apartheid inside the country.

A call to pressure the Thatcher Government to support Commonwealth sanctions against South Africa was the main message from the AAM’s 150-strong march though London on 2 November 1985. In a special interview, ANC leader Thabo Mbeki told AA News that the democratic movement in South Africa was close to victory. European Economic Community Commission member Stanley Clinton-Davis said that EEC sanctions against South Africa were becoming inevitable. A centrespread featured the memorandum presented to the British Foreign Office by the AAM setting out the detailed steps it was asking the British Government to take to isolate apartheid.

AA News first issue of 1986 argued that the AAM was poised for a breakthrough on sanctions against South Africa. It highlighted the growing support for the AAM, with 40 new local anti-apartheid groups set up in 1985. A South African student activist described the new mood of militancy inside South Africa. The newspaper’s centrespread reported on the threat posed by the apartheid government to the frontline states. AA News hailed the launch of COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) as the most significant trade union development in South Africa for many years.

The March issue called for support for the AAM’s March Month of Action against Apartheid. It carried an interview with ANC Executive Committee member Aziz Pahad on the ANC's armed struggle and a report by AAM Executive Secretary Mike Terry on the Commonwealth ‘Eminent Persons Group’ visit to South Africa. The newspaper highlighted the AAM’s ‘Free Namibia! Sanctions Now' campaign and the international conference called by SWAPO in Brussels in May. It called for the release of the Sharpeville Six, sentenced to hang in December 1985. In a special report on the Kairos document published in South Africa, it reported on the radicalisation of the South African churches.

This issue featured the consumer boycott campaign against white-owned shops in the Eastern Cape. It outlined plans for the AAM’s trade union Week of Action against Apartheid and the refusal by Portsmouth health workers to handle South African goods. It reported on the call by Rev Frank Chikane of the United Democratic Front for mandatory sanctions against South Africa. In a special report, CND Chairperson Paul Johns warned about South Africa’s nuclear bomb. Black British sports activists condemned Frank Bruno’s decision to fight white South African Gerrie Coetzee at Wembley.

AA News headlined plans for the AAM’s Festival for Freedom at Clapham Common on 28 June and a parliamentary lobby for sanctions. It accused US President Ronald Reagan of fomenting the civil war in Angola and condemned the South African government’s announcement that it would ramp up its security legislation. Reports of local group action during the AAM’s March Month of Action showed growing grassroots support for anti-apartheid campaigns all over Britain. In an interview, NUSAS President Brendan Barry told AA News about support from white South African students for the End Conscription Campaign and the ANC.

Nearly 200 British local authorities had taken some form of action to isolate apartheid South Africa, according to this issue of AA News. In South Africa millions stayed away from work on 16 June, the anniversary of the Soweto uprising. The newspaper reported on the decision by the television technicians union ACCT to ban its members from working on features for South African television and on the links formed by the AAM Women’s Committee with other women’s groups. Ida Jimmy from SWAPO described her traumatic experience as a political prisoner.