Anti-Apartheid News

AA News accused the world’s media of ignoring Namibia’s struggle to free itself from South Africa’s illegal occupation and called on the British government to support UN resolution 435. In an undercover interview, a UDF activist said that the State of Emergency imposed by the apartheid government had failed to suppress resistance within South Africa. Jean Middleton reported on a vigil held to mourn three young MK activists hanged by the apartheid government. Abdul Minty argued against a policy of gradual sanctions and explained the need for the imposition of comprehensive mandatory sanctions by the UN Security Council.

In a report from a special correspondent just returned from an undercover visit to South Africa, AA News reported on police atrocities in the townships and rural areas.  The newspaper exposed the British Government’s failure to impose even the limited sanctions it had agreed to impose on South Africa. Alan Brooks explained the critical role played by the frontline states in resistance to apartheid. A centrespread reported on the successes of the AAM’s consumer boycott campaign and on trade union boycott action. Highlighting the role of theatre in anti-apartheid campaigning, AA News reported on Temba Theatre Company’s production of Woza Albert.

‘Who Killed Samora Machel?’ was the front page headline of this issue, accusing the Pretoria Government of responsibility for the plane crash that killed the Mozambique president. In an exclusive interview, Tanzania’s Foreign Minister Ben Mkapa accused the British Government of failure to take any meaningful action against apartheid. Celebrating the first anniversary of the formation of the South African trade union federation COSATU, AA News highlighted the role of trade unions in ending apartheid. The US Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Action, passed by the US Congress in September 1986, had significant loopholes, argued US activist Jeanne Woods.

In the year of an expected British general election, AA News launched the AAM’s 1987 Manifesto for Sanctions. It celebrated the 75th anniversary of the formation of the ANC with an appeal for increased support for the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and Namibia. The newspaper highlighted the large number of children held in detention and the police crackdown on schools in the townships. It featured a visit to Britain by Namibian church leaders and prospects for an international blockade of illegally mined uranium from Namibia. A special report focused on South Africa’s sabotage of trade routes in the Southern African region.

‘People’s Sanctions Work’, headlined AA News, with a report of Ford’s decision to end the import of pick-up trucks from South Africa in response to trade union demands. The newspaper reported on the decision by the AAM’s annual general meeting to launch a total boycott of Shell. A report from the London Boycott Working Group looked at the South African Tourist Board’s attempts to boost tourism. AA News highlighted the case of Viraj Mendis, threatened with deportation from Britain to Sri Lanka, drawing parallels between South Africa’s pass laws and British immigration legislation.

The April issue denounced South Africa’s plans to install a puppet government in Namibia and reported on a visit to London by a delegation from the recently formed Mineworkers Union of Namibia. Mike Terry reported on the British Government’s veto of a sanctions resolution at the UN Security Council and on the endorsement by British MPs of the AAM’s Sanctions Manifesto. Imports of South African textiles had fallen as a result of the AAM’s people’s sanctions campaign. On a visit to Britain in March, Archbishop Desmond Tutu warned that the alternative to sanctions was low level civil war.

AA News welcomed the formation of the South African Youth Congress (SAYC), launched in April at the University of the Western Cape. It put a spotlight in British companies illegal operations in Namibia and announced plans for an international week of action against Shell in May. In a call for support for the AAM’s National Convention for Sanctions against South Africa in June, it revealed that a Marplan poll showed that 40% of British people agreed that Britain should suspend trading links with South Africa. It celebrated ANC leader Walter Sisulu’s 70th birthday on 18 May and called for his release. 

The June issue heralded the success of the two-day strike called by the UDF in protest against South Africa’s whites only general election on 6 May. It announced a new campaign to end all involvement by British banks in South Africa, following the withdrawal of Barclays Bank in 1986. It exposed how the USA was arming UNITA in Angola. It reported on the public launch in London of Lawyers Against Apartheid, at a meeting which drew parallels between apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany.