Anti-Apartheid News

AA News listed all those under sentence of death in South Africa for their opposition to apartheid and called for their release, as well as that of Nelson Mandela. It reported on ANC President Oliver Tambo’s Canon Collins Memorial Lecture in London, in which he said anti-apartheid boycotts must take account of the emerging people’s culture in South Africa. In an analysis of the British general election result, it reported that 130 newly elected MPs had signed the AAM’s Manifesto for Sanctions. The ten days of anti-apartheid action by British local authorities in June had included events focused on the Southern African frontline states. 

COSATU’s endorsement of comprehensive sanctions against South Africa was the front page headline in this issue of AA News. It reported on solidarity action by British trade unionists and on the National Petition Campaign for the release of all South African political detainees. Angela Davis was one of the speakers at a South African Women’s Day rally in Finsbury Park that welcomed the formation of the UDF Women’s Congress. A centrespread documented the history of the apartheid regime’s attempts to destroy non-racial trade unions in South Africa and Namibia.

This issue focused on the secret hangings of political prisoners revealed to the AAM by British Foreign Office minister Lynda Chalker. It reported on local anti-apartheid campaigns in Worksop, Bristol and Nottingham, and on the AAM’s plans to organise a conference for young activists. Young people had led resistance to the creation of a new Bantustan in KwaNdebele and school students in Namibia were staging protests and boycotts. AA News also reported on the trials of young white war resisters in South Africa.

The November issue again headlined the call for sanctions against South Africa, with statements from liberation movement leaders in South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique. It reported on the tour of Britain by SWAPO President Sam Nujoma and on UN legal action to stop the enrichment of illegally mined Namibian uranium in the Netherlands. Gavin Cawthra described the build-up of South Africa’s armed forces. A feature on the joint AAM/National Union of Mineworkers conference held in Sheffield exposed the growth in British imports of South African coal during the 1984–85 miners strike.

The campaign to save the lives of the Sharpeville Six, who lost their appeal against the death penalty in December 1987, was one of the lead stories in this issue. AA News also condemned South Africa’s continued attacks deep inside Angola in defiance of a new UN resolution. It welcomed the attendance of a wide spread of British community organisations at the ANC’s solidarity conference held at Arusha, Tanzania in December and reported on the AAM’s first ever delegate annual general meeting held under its new constitution in Sheffield in November 1987. 

The March issue again focused on the Sharpeville Six, calling on Prime Minister Thatcher to intervene personally with President Botha. The newspaper hailed the defeat of South Africa’s armed forces in the battle for Cuito Cuanavale in southern Angola. It focused on the role of the frontline states of the Southern African region and outlined plans for the AAM’s March Month of Solidarity Action. AA News exposed the myth of ‘black on black’ violence within South Africa, arguing that so-called tribal attacks in KwaZulu Natal were initiated by undercover provocateurs. It advertised a meeting on ‘Children, Apartheid and Repression’, planned as a follow-up to the conference on children in South Africa held in Harare in 1987.

The banning of the UDF and other anti-apartheid organisations within South Africa made a nonsense of the British Government’s policy of encouraging the reform of apartheid, argued AA News. The newspaper announced plans for the ‘Nelson Mandela: Freedom at 70’ campaign, to be launched at a concert at Wembley Stadium on 11 June. It featured the growing resistance to apartheid from students in Namibia and again accused Western governments of supporting South Africa’s illegal occupation. It exposed the apartheid government’s increasing use of the death penalty, revealing that 50 political prisoners were now facing execution.

AA News mourned the death of Dulcie September, assassinated in Paris by agents of the apartheid government. It welcomed new prospects for the independence of Namibia, insisting that the withdrawal of South African forces from Angola was an essential precondition for negotiations. It revealed that nearly a fifth of British companies operating in South Africa had pulled out in the last two years. It reported on a visit by members of the British local government trade union NALGO to South Africa and support from the Women’s TUC conference for anti-apartheid campaigns. The issue also exposed a big drop in British financial support for the frontline states.