Anti-Apartheid News

This issue exposed NATO collaboration with South Africa in contravention of the UN mandatory arms embargo. It carried an interview with South African trade union leader Thozamile Botha and an appeal for the release of veteran trade unionist Oscar Mpetha. It reported on the clampdown on independent South African trade unions. A new pamphlet showed how the multinational Philips Group was supplying electronic equipment to the South African military. The issue also reported on one of the best ever attended annual general meetings of the AAM, which endorsed an ambitious programme of work featuring trade unions, action on political prisoners, women’s solidarity and the campaign for independence for Namibia.

The campaign to save the lives of young South African and Namibian freedom fighters sentenced to death by the apartheid government was the front page story in the January-February issue. The newspaper also exposed manoeuvres to readmit South Africa to the World Medical Association and reported on the campaign to elect Nelson Mandela as the new Chancellor of the University of London. It examined the implications for the anti-apartheid solidarity struggle of the election of Ronald Reagan as US President, and of meetings between NATO and the South African government.

The March issue highlighted South African aggression against the frontIline states and carried eyewitness reports of the fighting in Angola and Mozambique. It exposed the apartheid government’s attempts to develop a nuclear bomb and publicised the World Campaign Against Military and Nuclear Collaboration’s conference on ‘South Africa: A Threat to Peace’. The centrespread made the case for ‘Sanctions Now’, outlining the AAM’s sanctions and boycott campaigns. The issue also carried an interview with SWAPO West European representative Shapua Kaukungua.

AA News again focused on the twin themes of the need to counter the British and UK governments support for the apartheid government by campaigning for sanctions, and the threat posed by South Africa to the frontline states. It highlighted the campaign to end British imports of uranium from Namibia and reported on new moves against independent trade unions in South Africa. It reported on the formation of the Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement and on protests by the Scottish Committee of the AAM against plans to merge the Royal Bank of Scotland with Standard and Chartered Bank, which had big investments in South Africa. The centrespread publicised the AAM's 25 April National Day of Consumer Action.

The May issue headlined US subversion of the UN plan for Namibian independence, and the stand taken by African and non-aligned states in opposition to US policy. It exposed apartheid government support for UNITA in Angola and the huge build-up of South African armed forces in Namibia. It announced plans for a month of protest action against the involvement of oil companies Shell and BP in South Africa, and publicised a new UN ‘black list’ of sports people who had broken the sports boycott against apartheid. The centrespread featured the UN arms embargo against South Africa and exposed companies which were still collaborating with the South African military.

AA News welcomed Labour Party and TUC opposition to the British government’s UN veto of a resolution imposing mandatory sanctions against South Africa as a significant change of policy. It exposed plans to give South Africa a stake in North Sea oil and the supply of radar equipment to the South African military by the British electronics company Plessey. It reported on British trade union support for striking workers at Rowntree Mackintosh’s South African subsidiary. The South African medical profession’s complicity in the deaths of Steve Biko and other political detainees was condemned in a new report by the AAM’s Health Committee.

This issue highlighted growing resistance against apartheid within South Africa and reported on the Paris conference on sanctions organised by the UN and the OAU. In an interview, ANC representative Ruth Mompati talked about the history of South African Women’s Day, 9 August. The newspaper examined the role of the British churches in opposing apartheid, and reported on the decision by the British Medical Association to oppose South Africa’s application to rejoin the World Medical Association. It highlighted strikes by black South African workers at two British-owned companies, British Leyland and Wilson Rowntree. 

AA News called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to halt South Africa’s invasion of Angola. This issue also highlighted the death sentences passed on three more young South African freedom fighters. From Scotland the newspaper reported on the award of the freedom of Glasgow to Nelson Mandela, and from Wales on the cancellation of a male voice choir’s visit to South Africa. It publicised the campaign to exclude South Africa from the Stoke Mandeville Games, forerunner of the Paralympics, and plans for student anti-apartheid action.