Friday, June 15, 2012

Soweto Uprising 16 June 1976

16 June 1976 Student Uprising in Soweto Part 1: Background to the uprising By Alistair Boddy-Evans, Guide When high-school students in Soweto started protesting for better education on 16 June 1976, police responded with teargas and live bullets. It is commemorated today by a South African national holiday, Youth day, which honors all the young people who lost their lives in the struggle against Apartheid and Bantu Education. In 1953 the Apartheid Government enacted The Bantu Education Act, which established a Black Education Department in the Department of Native Affairs. The role of this department was to compile a curriculum that suited the "nature and requirements of the black people." The author of the legislation, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd (then Minister of Native Affairs, later Prime Minister), stated: "Natives [blacks] must be taught from an early age that equality with Europeans [whites] is not for them." Black people were not to receive an education that would lead them to aspire to positions they wouldn't be allowed to hold in society. Instead they were to receive education designed to provide them with skills to serve their own people in the homelands or to work in laboring jobs under whites. Bantu Education did enable more children in Soweto to attend school than the old missionary system of education, but there was a severe lack of facilities. Nationally public to teacher ratios went up from 46:1 in 1955 to 58:1 in 1967. Overcrowded classrooms were used on a rota basis. There was also a lack of teachers, and many of those who did teach were underqualified. In 1961, only 10 per cent of black teachers held a matriculation certificate [last year of high school]. Because of the government's homelands policy, no new high schools were built in Soweto between 1962 and 1971 -- students were meant to move to their relevant homeland to attend the newly built schools there. Then in 1972 the government gave in to pressure from business to improve the Bantu Education system to meet business's need for a better trained black workforce. 40 new schools were built in Soweto. Between 1972 and 1976 the number of pupils at secondary schools increased from 12,656 to 34,656. One in five Soweto children were attending secondary school. This increase in secondary school attendance had a significant effect on youth culture. Previously, many young people spent the time between leaving primary school and obtaining a job (if they were lucky) in gangs, which generally lacked any political consciousness. But now secondary school students were forming their own, much more politicized identity. Clashes between gangs and students only furthered the sense of student solidarity. In 1975 South Africa entered a period of economic depression. Schools were starved of funds -- the government spent R644 a year on a white child's education but only R42 on a black child. The Department of Bantu Education then announced it was removing the Standard 6 year from primary schools. Previously, in order to progress to Form 1 of secondary school, a pupil had to obtain a first or second-degree pass in Standard 6. Now the majority of pupils could proceed to secondary school. In 1976, 257,505 pupils enrolled in Form 1, but there was space for only 38,000. Many of the students therefore remained at primary school. Chaos ensued. The African Students Movement, founded in 1968 to voice student grievances, changed its name in January 1972 to the South African Students Movement (SASM) and pledged itself to building a national movement of high school students who would work with the Black Consciousness (BC) organization at black universities, the South African Students' Organisation (SASO). This link with BC philosophies is significant as it gave students an appreciation for themselves as black people and helped politicize students. So when the Department of Education issued its decree that Afrikaans was to become a language of instruction at school, it was into an already volatile situation. Students objected to being taught in the language of the oppressor. Many teachers themselves could not speak Afrikaans, but were now required to teach their subjects in it. Compliments Comments by Sonny Cox We were there to maintain Law & Order! We had the Communist Revolutions in 1917, The Soweto Uprising 16 June 1976, will we have the African Spring in SA in 2019, or before? Over the past 18 years SA has regressed under the ANC led Government. Yes, THIS IS OUR DAY......! 16 June 1976: 'This is our day' Lucille Davie More Sharing ServicesShare|Share on emailShare on favoritesShare on printShare on twitter It is a day violently etched on the South African collective conscience. Commemorated over 30 years later as Youth Day, an official holiday, it is the day that honours the deaths of hundreds of Soweto schoolchildren, a day that changed the course of the country's history: 16 June 1976. On that day the government and the police were caught off guard, when the simmering bubble of anger of schoolchildren finally burst, releasing an intensity of emotion that the police controlled in the only manner they knew how: with ruthless aggression. SA History Online puts the number of dead at 200, far higher than the official figure of 23. Bantu education was introduced by the National Party in 1954. Before that blacks either didn't go to school or were educated in missionary schools, which fell away with the new system. Many more children were enrolled and the existing schools became extremely overcrowded – with class sizes of some 60 children – and the quality of the education declined. Fewer than 10% of black teachers had a matric certificate in 1961, according to Philip Bonner and Lauren Segal in Soweto, A History. The schools were poorly equipped, with no science laboratories or sports fields, and often no library. Many children dropped out of school. Introduction of Afrikaans In 1976 the government introduced the compulsory use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction from Grade 7 – then Standard 5. Circuit inspectors and principals received the directive: "It has been decided that for the sake of uniformity English and Afrikaans will be used as media of instruction in our schools on a 50-50 basis." What this meant was that maths and social studies were to be taught in Afrikaans, while general science and practical subjects such as housecraft and woodwork would be taught in English. Bonner and Segal say one of the reasons for this ruling was that television was to be introduced to South Africa in 1976, and "Afrikaans-speaking conservatives feared that it would strengthen the position and status of English in the country". It was also felt that black school children were becoming too assertive and "forcing them to learn in Afrikaans would be a useful form of discipline". Besides, the government argued, it paid for black education, so it could determine the language of instruction. This was not strictly true. White children had free schooling, but black parents had to pay R51 – about half a month's salary – a year for each child, in addition to buying textbooks and stationery and contributing to the costs of building schools. The disparity in the government subsidy was telling: R644 was spent on each white child, but only R42 on each black child. Pupils, teachers and principals opposed the ruling on Afrikaans, for more or less the same reasons: teachers were ill-equipped to teach in the language, which was for most a third language. January 1976 When schools reopened in January 1976, parents and principals were unhappy – some applied for an exemption from teaching Afrikaans, saying their teachers were not qualified. The World newspaper of March 5 reported: "Although most of the school boards have capitulated to the medium of instruction directive from the Department of Bantu Education, the teachers and principals are very dissatisfied." Tensions over Afrikaans simmered in the following months. By June mid-year exams were approaching and pupils were getting restless. At a meeting called by student leaders on 13 June nearly 400 pupils turned up, and were addressed by 19-year-old Tsietsi Mashinini, "an extremely powerful speaker". He suggested that the following Wednesday – June 16 – pupils gather in a mass demonstration against Afrikaans. The students decided not to tell their parents, for fear of them upsetting the plan. One pupil, Teboho Mohapi, told Bonner and Segal that there was much anticipation for 16 June: "They would just see us walking out of class and would try to stop us, and we would tell them, 'Wait, this is our day.'" 16 June 1976 It was cold and overcast as pupils gathered at schools across Soweto on 16 June. At an agreed time, they set off for Orlando West Secondary School in Vilakazi Street, with thousands streaming in from all directions. The planned to march from the school to the Orlando Stadium. "By 10.30am, over 5 000 students had gathered on Vilakazi Street and more were arriving every minute," say Bonner and Segal. In total, "over 15 000 uniformed students between the ages of 10 and 20 [were] marching that day". Once at the stadium, the plan was to agree on a list of grievances, and then possibly to march to the offices of the Transvaal department of education in Booysens, in Johannesburg's southern suburbs. But this didn't happen. Police formed a wall facing the pupils, warning them to disperse – an order met with resistance. Teargas was fired into the crowd and police dogs released. In the chaos, children ran back and forth, throwing stones at the police – who fired more teargas. Bonner and Segal quote a student leading the march, Jon-Jon Mkhonza: "Students were scattered, running up and down ... coming back, running ... coming back. It was some kind of game because they were running away, coming back, taking stones, throwing them at the police ... It was chaos. Whenever the police shot teargas, we jumped the wall to the churchyard and then came back and started discussing again." The first shot Then came the first shot – straight into the crowd, without warning. Other policemen took up the signal and more shots were fired. Twelve-year-old Hector Pieterson fell to the ground, fatally wounded. He was picked up by Mbuyisa Makhubo, a fellow student, who ran with him towards the Phefeni Clinic, with Pieterson's crying sister Antoinette running alongside. The World photographer Sam Nzima was there to record Pieterson's last moments. "I saw a child fall down," he says. "Under a shower of bullets I rushed forward and went for the picture." The photo went around the world and Pieterson came to symbolise the uprising, giving the world an in-your-face view of the brutality of apartheid. Then all hell broke loose. Students targeted apartheid symbols: administrative offices, government buses and vehicles and municipal beer halls, which were first looted and then set alight. By the end of the day thick clouds of black smoke hung over the township, and the streets were littered with upturned vehicles, stones and rocks. Anti-riot vehicles poured into Soweto, roadblocks were erected at all entrances, the army was placed on alert and helicopters hovered overhead, dropping teargas canisters and shooting. The injured pupils were taken to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, some dying in its corridors, some dying at its gates before they could be admitted, according to Bonner and Segal. As night fell, the unlit township became even more terrifying: blinded by the night, police simply fired into the blackness. The students returned the fire with their own weapons: bottles and stones. The looted liquor was taking effect – people wandered the streets intoxicated, in a celebratory mood, raising clenched fists and shouting "Amandla!" (power). The next day revealed the carnage: dead bodies and burnt-out shops and vehicles. The clashes continued, between police and students, joined by street gangs. Violence spread to another volatile Johannesburg township, Alexandra, and then across South Africa. By 18 June, all schools in Soweto and Alexandra had been closed by the authorities. Most of the victims were under 23, say Bonner and Segal, and shot in the back. Many others were left maimed or crippled. By the end of the year about 575 people had died across the country, 451 at the hands of police, according to SA History Online. The injured numbered 3 907, with the police responsible for 2 389 of them. About 5 980 people were arrested in the townships that year. The aftermath International solidarity movements were roused as an immediate consequence of the revolt. They soon gave their support to the pupils, putting pressure on the apartheid government to temper its repressive rule. This pressure was maintained throughout the 1980s, until resistance movements were finally unbanned in 1990. School principals were almost immediately allowed to choose their own medium of instruction, a major victory for the pupils. More schools and a teacher training college were built in Soweto. Teachers were given in-service training and encouraged to upgrade their qualifications by being given study grants. The most significant change, however, was that urban blacks were given permanent status as city dwellers. They ceased to be temporary sojourners in the cities, expected to return to the homelands, often inferior pieces of land far away from industrial centres and jobs, where they held permanent residence. The law banning blacks from owning businesses in the townships was abolished. Doctors, lawyers and other professionals were now also allowed to practise in the townships. But there was a sting in the tail of these measures: the police were given powers to detain people without trial. The result was the detention of hundreds of people in the coming months. They were subjected to torture in a desire to confirm the government's version of events: that the unrest was caused by a number of agitators. And thousands of young people left the country, disillusioned with the government crackdown and harassed by the police. They never finished their education, choosing instead to go into military camps and receive training. Some were then infiltrated back into South Africa over the next decade, to perpetrate acts of sabotage. This was part of the steady onslaught against apartheid that finally broke its back towards the end of the 1980s. Most of the exiles returned home in the early 1990s, to celebrate the birth of democracy in 1994. Lest we forget the day, there is a museum to keep the memories fresh. The Hector Pieterson Museum, in Orlando West in Soweto, is just a few blocks from where students and police first began their violent confrontation. Article first published on on 15 June 2006 Source: City of Johannesburg Read more: Will the African spring reach South Africa before 2019?? GOD FORBID!!

The people armed, 1984-1990

1985, Desmond Tutu, armed only with the bible under his arm, confronts the SA forces during their attempts to break up a demonstration. Photograph by Shadrack Nkomo © Bailey's African History Archive.
Numerous factors characterised the intensification of the freedom struggle against the National Party government in the 1980s. This decade witnessed an increase in the armed struggle combined with mass politicisation of the oppressed peoples. The 1983 constitution was roundly criticised in opposition circles for its unrepresentative character. Relative to the earlier period’s infiltration of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) guerrillas into the country increased.

With greater resources and sophistication, MK cadres stepped up their attacks, aiming more daringly for symbolic military targets that rallied black opinion behind the ANC. For instance, the car bomb explosion in front of the South African Air Force Headquarters and the South African Defence Force (SADF) Military Intelligence Headquarters in Pretoria on 20 May 1983 killed 19 and injured over 200 SADF and South African Police (SAP) personnel. This was the first time the ANC and its military wing, MK attacked apartheid forces and civilian lives in an attempt to inflict damage on both “hard” and “soft” military targets, including those situated in the heart of urban white South Africa.

In response, the Apartheid government intensified its crackdown on political activists. On 9 June 1983, Jerry Mosolodi, Terry Mogerani and Thabo Montaung were executed for their part in an attack on Wonderboom police station. Secret government units killed activists and bombed their homes. The Pretoria attack led to a punitive air raid on alleged ANC facilities in Maputo. It increased the government’s determination to cut links between the ANC in exile and its networks within South Africa. The Apartheid regime gave extensive support to rebel organisations such as the Mozambican National Resistance Movement (RENAMO) in Mozambique and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) in Angola. Accelerating its campaign against Mozambique by increasing its support for the anti-FRELIMO (Liberation Front of Mozambique) guerrillas of RENAMO, the South Africans brought a vulnerable Mozambique to agree to a mutual non-interference pact, at Nkomati in March 1984. Under the terms of the Nkomati Accord South Africa was to terminate its support for RENAMO. In return Mozambique agreed to close ANC transit facilities for guerrillas within its borders. Pretoria believed that the removal of the Mozambican infiltration route into South Africa would cripple the ANC’s ability to operate inside the country.

As 1984 progressed, black opposition escalated. On 6 April the buildings of the Administrative Council in Bloemfontein were attacked and on 13 May a Durban fuel storage depot was sabotaged. Furthermore, on 3 September 1984, the day the new constitution was promulgated by the Government; Sharpeville embarked on a local rent boycott. The rent boycott was organised by the Vaal Civic Association, a United Democratic Front (UDF) affiliate to protest the increased charges imposed by the new Community Council.

The ANC called on residents to ‘make townships ungovernable’ by destroying the Black Local Authorities. Councillors and police were asked to resign their positions. Municipal buildings and homes of African Councillors and collaborators were attacked. As the state’s administrative system broke down, people established their own democratic structures, street committees and people’s courts, to administer their communities, Troops and police who had moved into the townships at the end of 1984 engaged in running battles with youths in an effort to re-establish control. An atmosphere of mass insurrection prevailed in many townships and rural towns across the country during 1985 and 1986 as mass struggles and the armed struggle began to support one another.

Resistance Deepens and Expands: The Role of Women and the UDF

Frances Baard speaking at the launch of the UDF © Rashid Lombard.
In the 1980s community, civic, student, youth, cultural, sports and women’s organisations were established all over South Africa. The formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in 1983, an extra-parliamentary organisation served as an umbrella organisation of anti-apartheid groups.

The UDF was launched at Mitchell's Plain in Cape Town. About 600 delegates from more than 230 organisations and a crowd of about 13 000 people converged on the area. There were delegates representing students, youth, worker, civic, women's, cultural, religious, and sport and trade union organisations. The gathering was the largest of anti-apartheid groupings since the mass meetings of the Congress Alliance in the 1950s. The initial aim of the UDF was to oppose the government's tricameral parliamentary proposals (a parliamentary system consisting of Indian and Coloured people as well as existing White government members) but in a short time it became the leading anti apartheid political movement within the country, with more than 1.5 million supporters. It mobilised nationwide resistance, led a series of boycotts, and became involved in labour issues. While the UDF was non-aligned, most of its leadership and affiliates were either members of the underground ANC or sympathetic to it, and principles of the ANC’s Freedom Charter were endorsed.

Civic organisations had been formed to support education struggles. Massive national school boycotts erupted in the townships in 1984 and 1985, with women playing a crucial role.

The freedom struggle in South Africa highlighted racial and class oppression as key causes of poverty, inequality and a lack of rights for most South Africans especially women. For the most part, men continued to dominate trade unions and other formal and informal political organisations. National structures, trade unions, student, civic and women’s organisations grew despite State repression, including states of emergency, bans, detentions and assassinations of political activists. In addition to being active in these organisations as workers, students and community activists, women also organised themselves in separate structures, in women’s forums in trade unions, and in women’s wings of liberation movements. In establishing their right as women to join trade unions and political organisations alongside men, the principle of women’s equality was established. This became an integral part of South African political philosophy when the UDF was formed.

The government held the UDF responsible for the riots that swept the country after September 3 1984 as the unrest in the Black townships grew into a nationwide uprising surpassing that of 1976. Students boycotted schools. Communities organised strikes against rent increases. September 1984 witnessed widespread disturbances against the Apartheid system in the Vaal area (now Gauteng Province) and in many other parts of the country. The southern Vaal campaign typified the new pattern of protest that grew throughout South Africa in 1984-85. It consisted of stay-at-homes, rolling mass action challenging the police patrolling the townships, and attacks on the businesses, houses, and African persons charged with collaborating with the new Community Council system.

The September 3 - Rent Boycott Incident
On September 3 1984, major protests broke out in Lekoa (the black municipal region of the Vaal which included the townships of Sebokeng, Sharpeville, Evaton, Boipatong and Bophelong). Lekoa workers were among some of the lowest paid in the country. The average rent for residents in Lekoa was R62.56, which was R10 higher than most black townships in the country and twice the national metropolitan average for blacks. In addition to the rent, all Lekoa households had to pay fees amounting to R51.20 that included electricity, service charges and a tariff for the wiring of houses.

Kuzwayo Jacob Dlamini then deputy mayor of Lekoa was probably the highest paid resident in Sharpeville. Black councillors in the townships were seen as corrupt and self-enriching at the expense of the poverty-stricken residents. Dlamini in particular was considered unsympathetic to the people and when the rent increase was announced by the Lekoa Mayor, Mahlatsi, in 1984, the residents reacted by embarking on a massive rent boycott. Dlamini, a resident of Sharpeville was an obvious target of the protest.

On Monday, 3 September, black workers in the Vaal Triangle observed a stay-away in protest against the rent increases announced by the Lekoa Council. No public transport was allowed to operate. Protest marches took place in all the townships in the Vaal, but it was in Sharpeville that things took a horrific turn. The initial plan was to march peacefully, with a strong presence, to the administration building. The departure point w­­ the police station. As the demonstrators reached Nhlapo Street, where Dlamini lived, someone shouted “This is where Dlamini the sell-out lives” and the crowd started stoning the house. Dlamini subsequently opened fire on the crowd, angering them even more. Petrol bombs were thrown at the house, which caught fire. The crowd grabbed and disarmed Dlamini and the stoning continued until he was unconscious. Meanwhile, his car was pushed onto the street, rolled over onto its side and set alight. Some members of the crowd dragged Dlamini, drenched him with petrol and set him alight. When the police arrived at 9am, Dlamini was already dead and rioting had broken out.

The police retaliated with tear gas, dogs and water hoses and bullets. Many died and hundreds more were wounded. The police detained more than 2 000 people.

The Trial and Sentence of the Sharpeville Six
Two months later eight people were arrested in connection with the Dlamini murder. Two of the accused, Christian Mokubung and Gideon Mokone were sentenced to eight years in prison. The remaining six became known as ‘The Sharpeville Six’.

The Sharpeville Six drew national and international headlines when they were sentenced to death by hanging, even though they all maintained that they were nowhere near the scene of the murder. There was not enough evidence to warrant the death penalty since the court could not prove that the six had murdered Dlamini.

Even though none of the “Sharpeville Six” belonged to any political party, some political parties claimed that they were their members and the government saw their trial as political. Many countries that had already adopted sanctions against the government for various human rights violations threatened South Africa with further sanctions if the Six were hanged.

National and International Support: Reactions to the trial
In London and other places protestors supported the Sharpeville Six. Canada, Japan, the United States of America (USA), Australia, Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Israel all called for State president, PW Botha, to show mercy for the Six. Local and international churches and in South Africa organisations such as the UDF, the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO) and COSATU, all called for mercy for the Six. This pressure caused the government to commute the sentence from the death penalty to long terms of imprisonment ranging from 18 to 25 years.

Locally, MK operations increased dramatically in response to the Vaal Uprisings. Their actions included engaging SADF and SAP personnel and sabotaging economic and military installations, exemplified by the limpet mine explosions of 17 March and 30 April 1985. The former exploded under a South African Police vehicle in Mamelodi and the latter went off at an Anglo American building in Johannesburg, causing extensive damage. Local grievances became the vehicle for protest against the apartheid system as a whole, spreading from township to township through a population mobilised by student participation in school boycotts and broader involvement in the anti-constitution campaigns. The UDF coordinated the Transvaal (now part of Gauteng Province) stay-at-home of November 5-6, 1984, in which an estimated 800 000 participated.

Shortly afterwards black resistance was given a boost when the Nobel Peace Committee announced that Bishop Tutu had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, joining Chief Luthuli as the second South African to receive this prestigious award. Tutu was already engaged in the struggle with the clergy against the government. Bishop Tutu gave new hope to both internal and external opponents of the government. His message for urgent change in government policy, including the release of political prisoners and the end of the ban on political organisations, was punctuated, in 1985, by on-going MK sabotage attacks (e.g. the Amanzimtoti bomb attack). These attacks demonstrated that the Nkomati Accord had not diminished the ANC’s ability to operate inside the country. However, on 18 October 1985, Malesela Benjamin Moloise was executed by the apartheid government, in defiance of international calls for clemency and the release of major political figures.

Mandela Captures the Spotlight

1980s, release Mandela poster. © unknown.
By the 1980s, although Mandela was in prison, Tambo in exile, and the ANC banned and demonised by the government, the organisation’s stature in South Africa had never been higher.

Early in 1985 the government permitted Lord Bethell, a British Conservative Member of Parliament (MP), to interview Mandela in Pollsmoor. Pollsmoor was the mainland prison to which Mandela and five others had been transferred in 1982. Lord Bethell joined many in urging the South African government to release Mandela in the interests of achieving a negotiated solution. On January 31, 1985, President P. W. Botha responded by offering to free Mandela in return for his renouncing the use of violence - an offer that Mandela refused. He would never accept conditional release.

In a carefully crafted response, delivered publicly by his daughter Zindzi to a rally of UDF supporters on February 10, 1985, Mandela rejected Botha’s conditions, re-affirming his commitment to the ANC and its goals. He demanded that the government release all political prisoners and end the ban on the ANC. Nelson Mandela quickly became the world’s most famous political prisoner and emerged as the central symbol of the intensified anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa – despite his inability to speak directly to the public.

Mandela’s continued principled stand further enhanced his eminent position and deepened Botha’s dilemma. Botha’s unsuccessful public exchange with his most prominent political prisoner implicitly confirmed Mandela’s centrality in the political process.

With Botha ignoring calls for democracy there was an increase in popular uprisings and unrest. The government reacted harshly to this mass unrest by detaining leaders of the UDF, sixteen of whom they charged with treason and terrorism. The army was deployed in the townships to augment over-extended police patrols. Poorly trained in crowd control, policemen and soldiers increasingly resorted to using live ammunition in place of tear gas and rubber bullets. The ban on political meetings continued and the death toll and the number of injured mounted. Funerals became rallying points for anti-government gatherings. Under attack, many community councilors and policemen were forced to seek sanctuary outside the townships, and the administrative structures of most of the Community Councils disintegrated.

On 16-23 June 1985 approximately 250 ANC delegates met in Kabwe, Zambia for a National Consultative Conference since the Morogoro Conference held at Morogoro, Tanzania, from 25 April to 1 May 1969. At the conference, the ANC continued to call for the intensification of the armed struggle in order to make the country even more ungovernable.

Ungovernability brings about the State of Emergency
Faced with the collapse of its authority in the townships, the continuing prospect of spreading violence, and an increasingly uneasy white population, the government responded with further repression. On July 20, 1985, it declared its first state of emergency over many parts of the country, especially in the thirty-six most affected magisterial districts. Within six months of the state of emergency, security forces received expanded powers of arrest and detention and full immunity for their actions. Hundreds of arrests followed.

The strength and breadth of Black resistance in late 1984-85 had a profound psychological impact on broad segments of the white population. The white community realised that the status quo could not be maintained and that new means had to be found to address African demands. In the eyes of many, the political initiative was shifting from the government to the forces of black resistance.

Various prominent whites began looking for ways to engage in dialogue with the ANC. Delegations of white South Africans, from leading English-speaking businessmen, Afrikaners, to Progressive Federal Party politicians and clergymen, travelled to the headquarters of the ANC in Lusaka and in Dakar, Senegal, to talk to the exiled leaders. The government criticised this direct contact with the exiled ANC leaders and they even blocked the visits of Afrikaner student leaders by withdrawing their passports. However, it was clear that representatives of both the white opposition and the white establishment were ready to explore and negotiate ‘transition’ with the ANC.

At the same time, Winnie Mandela embarked on a sustained public campaign aimed at challenging and embarrassing the government. She defied her banning order and in August 1985 she moved back to Soweto from internal exile in Brandfort. She finally succeeded in getting her banning order lifted in July 1986. Local UDF affiliates continued to organise rent boycotts and consumer boycotts of white-owned shops. School boycotts spread even to rural communities, with new demands for ‘people’s education’. Despite the state of emergency, black protestors remained unintimidated by the government forces in the townships.

The Role of the Media
After the second state of emergency was declared on 12 June 1986 the press was not allowed to report any incident relating to political unrest. By December eleven newspapers were prohibited from printing non-governmental accounts of the police or the army activities, this went on to cover boycotts and any information relating to civil unrest and detentions. The Government monitored publication of any information related to 'unrest activities' and on 25 October 1985, the South African government banned all television and media coverage of demonstrations. At the same time, it stepped up its efforts to detain activists and prevent demonstrations.

Despite the government's continued claims that the media in South Africa was free, the independent media in South Africa was forbidden by law not to report on the state of Emergency in the country. The state owned South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) served to provide daily propaganda in support of the Government measures. This situation led to a growth of progressive publications known as the alternative press in response to the blanket on information. Many of these organisations received financial support from sympathetic sources overseas. In this way, despite government crackdown on media reporting, people were kept informed despite the state of emergency.

The South African alternative press in the 1980s served an important role to undermine the apartheid regime's propaganda campaign. Every act of censorship to limit and crush this free media was responded to with greater creativity. Some alternate publications, responded by publishing blank pages, to demonstrating its attitude to censorship. The Weekly Mail (now Mail and Guardian) came into existence in the mid 1980s when resistance newspapers like Grassroots, The New Nation, South and New African were forced to close down by the government.

Throughout the world, the media published images of the struggle. Images showed unarmed Black demonstrators, being teargased and shot at by the South African police and military. In addition, the media aired and published defiant press conferences being addressed by Winnie Mandela. She would report on her husband’s (Nelson Mandela) status after her visits to Pollsmoor Prison and would forthrightly condemn government actions. South Africa’s image was further harmed by the accelerating capital flight and a precipitous drop in the value of the rand in one of its worst periods of recession.

The alternate press was at the centre of the confrontation between Afrikaner Nationalism and Black Nationalism. The government’s primary motivation for repressing political expression was to prevent Blacks from sharing ideas about political alternatives or using the printed word to report their affairs and common problems. Suppression of black perspectives was considered essential to the maintenance and, by extension, the very survival of Afrikaner dominance. Almost any black political viewpoint was viewed as an aspect of African Nationalism, something to be resisted and extinguished whenever and wherever it appeared.

Anti-apartheid TV and media correspondents were banned or placed under house arrest under the Internal Security Act. Ordinary people could be placed in detention or would sometimes draw unusually heavy prison sentences (of up to 2½ years) for possession of a single banned book.

The State was complicit in encouraging violence between political organisations, for example, UDF supporters and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). Black vigilantes and Community Council supporters received tacit police license to attack Black opposition figures, particularly in those townships where opposition had been the fiercest. Because the struggle for people’s power in the 1980s shook the foundations of the Bantustan system, the regime tried desperately to save it by supporting these vigilante groups and suppressing popular resistance including the independent media. These incidents were rife in Natal (now KwaZulu Natal) where the struggle for people’s power was met with violence by Inkatha warlords who were opposed to the growth of community organisations. This conflict led to a bitter war in Natal, where thousands lost their lives. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (established in a democratic South Africa) subsequently revealed that the Apartheid government sponsored Inkatha to fight the ANC, and that the South African Police and the KwaZulu Police played active roles in this war.

Trade Unionism – Unbanning and May Day
South Africa’s largest national trade union gathering took place in December 1985 when the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) was founded. COSATU brought together different trade unions and smaller independent unions into a half-a-million-strong national trade union federation. AZAPO-oriented trade unions refused to join, and merged with other smaller, like-minded, independent unions to form the rival National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU).

Responding to demands from its membership, COSATU stated that it would not focus simply on wages and working conditions. COSATU’s power was emphatically demonstrated on May 1, 1986, when an estimated one and a half million workers responded to its call for a stay-at-home.

Through the stay-away and the bitter school boycott, trade union activism stretched the limits of the state of emergency bans on political activity. Throughout the anti-government demonstrations, religious leaders, such as Bishop Tutu and Reverend Boesak and others, played prominent roles in articulating opposition to government and protecting alleged collaborators from further injury at the hands of angry township crowds. Their voices strengthened that of the unions. With regard to the school boycott’s, leadership of the newly created National Education Crisis Committee, persuaded students to return to school against a backdrop of vague government promises of reform and a commitment from black organisations to establish alternative and parallel structures of popular education.

The Persistence of the Threat of Popular Uprising
The hallmark of the new upsurge was the direct action taken by township activists in confronting Community Council collaborators and in creating new popular institutions in place of the discredited Community Councils. Newly formed street committees co-ordinated the implementation of the local grass-roots programmes and facilitated mobilisation for protest. In some areas ad hoc ‘people’s courts’ passed judgements against residents who were perceived to be government collaborators.

Increasingly, spontaneous popular protests were used to channel anger against the Apartheid system. In numerous well-publicised incidents, the symbol of the new wave of resistance became the ‘necklace’ i.e. the gasoline-soaked tyre placed around the neck of an alleged collaborator who was tried on the spot by accusers and then set alight to burn to death. Black militants were clearly seizing the initiative from the government and setting their own agendas, a development that marked a new and higher stage of black resistance. From the exiled ANC came calls for a ‘people’s war’, for a revolutionary rebellion to topple the government. The government was beginning to feel the pressure especially the demands that all political prisoners be released, as a precondition for negotiations between the government and the ANC.

On March 7, 1986, the government was forced to end the partial state of emergency, partly because of Commonwealth efforts of mediation between the South African government and its opponents. The Commonwealth Conference held in October 1985 had established a seven-member Eminent Persons Group (EPG). Members were on a fact-finding mission in South Africa to devise a formula for a negotiated settlement. The South African government, under the threat of possible Commonwealth-mandated economic sanctions, gave the EPG unprecedented access during several visits to the county in late 1985 and early 1986. Discussions were held with cabinet ministers and Nelson Mandela. The EPG hammered out a ‘negotiating concept’ under which Mandela and other political prisoners were to be freed and the bans on the ANC and other organisations lifted in return for the ‘suspension’ of violence during negotiations on further measures. In principle Mandela and the ANC leadership in exile endorsed the concept, but the cabinet refused to accept it. Instead, on May 19 1986, the government launched simultaneous raids on alleged ANC facilities in Gaborone (Botswana), Harare (Zimbabwe) and Lusaka (Zambia), the same day that the EPG arrived in South Africa after discussions with the ANC in London. The EPG mission finally withdrew because the Apartheid government was forcefully orchestrating its unwillingness to engage in negotiations on any terms other than its own.

State of Emergency Tightened

1985, Police raid the UDF offices. © The Star newspaper.
Challenged by continuing unrest throughout the country and facing the tenth anniversary of the 1976 June 16th Soweto Riots, the government followed up its renewed attacks on the ANC by imposing a nationwide state of emergency on June 12, 1986. Sweeping through the townships, the police apprehended and held hundreds of activists and detained thousands of youths and children, some as young as nine years old.

1987 saw the highest number of COSATU-organised strikes ever, including a strike by over 300 000 mineworkers. The state of emergency was used to detain thousands of people and to impose political restrictions on organisations.

The tension between the liberation fighters and the government continued to rise despite the state of emergency. For example, in May 1987 a car bomb exploded outside the Johannesburg Magistrates Court killing four policemen. In July of the same year the SADF’s Witwatersrand Command complex in Johannesburg was severely damaged by a massive car bomb, the SADF refused to divulge the number of casualties. These onslaughts came in the wake of the increased smuggling of arms for the arming of internal MK units from 1986 to 1987. Limpet mines, hand grenades and small arms were increasingly used and landmine incidents occurred frequently in Northern and Eastern Transvaal and in Northern Natal. The highest number of incidents occurred in September and October 1988, just before the municipal elections.

The People’s Army concept was further developed with the establishment of self-defence units (SDUs) and combat groups, with locally-based MK members as the core. The new structures were manned by members trained internally and in neighbouring states. From 1988 onwards the constitutionally ‘independent’ Transkei was increasingly used by MK and Azanian Peoples’ Liberation Army (APLA – the military wing of the Pan-Africanist Congress/PAC) as a base for the training of recruits and for armed actions in the Eastern and Western Cape and in Natal. In 1989 a large group of MK combatants attacked the South African Air Force’s secret radar installation at Klippan in the Western Transvaal. Much damage was done and the amount of casualties was not disclosed.

After 29 years, negotiations between the ANC and the Apartheid government began. The aim was to find amicable peaceful solution to the political deadlock in South Africa. Negotiations also marked the end of the state of emergency.

South Africa Mass Democratic Movement
During the 1980s MK’s role was always enforced and complemented by the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM). The Mass Democratic Movement was the name of an informal coalition of anti-apartheid groups during the 1980s. The MDM was established as an anti-apartheid successor to the UDF after the February 24, 1988 emergency restrictions effectively banned the UDF and several other opposition groups. The UDF’s political activities had been effectively proscribed and many of its affiliates were reorganised under the guise of a new political coalition, the MDM. Even after 1988, the MDM was a temporary coalition of anti-apartheid activists with no permanent constitution, no official membership, no national or regional governing body, and no officeholders. However, one condition for affiliation with the MDM was adherence to the provisions of the ANC’s Freedom Charter.

The MDM gained prominence in 1989 when it organised a campaign of civil disobedience (passive resistance) in anticipation of the national elections scheduled to take place in September of that year. Defying the state-of-emergency regulations in effect at the time, several hundred Black protesters entered whites-only hospitals and beaches. During that month, people of all races marched peacefully in several cities to protest against police brutality and repressive legislation. When the UDF was unbanned in February 1990, most MDM leaders and many members rejoined their former organisations. The UDF officially disbanded on August 20, 1991, declaring that its major objectives had been fulfilled.

The Prime Minister, P. W. Botha, was compelled to resign on August 14, 1989 partly due to a stroke he suffered in January 1989 coupled with his failure to contain political violence and resistance in South Africa in this era. On 15 August 1989 Frederik Willem de Klerk was sworn in by the NP as acting State President. De Klerk was behind the era of negotiation that characterised developments before and after 1990.


At no time had apartheid been resisted by as large and united a constituency as in the 1984-1990 period, inspite of PW Botha’s vicious and repressive reign. By 1990, as resistance mounted, it was becoming clear that the regime was on the verge of giving in to popular political demands, as millions of ordinary people in the townships, factories, urban and rural areas waged determined struggles against the system. The insurrections of the 1980s were fundamentally different from the previous struggles against white minority rule, both in their scope and militancy. They represented the most serious challenge to apartheid that had ever been conducted up to that time


Desmond Tutu:............

We will pray for ANC's downfall - Tutu
2011-10-04 21:04

Archbishop Desmond Tutu at a news conference in Cape Town :

Cape Town - South Africans will pray for the downfall of the ANC like they did with the apartheid government, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said in Cape Town on Tuesday, during a news briefing on the government's failure to grant the Dalai Lama a visa.

The Dalai Lama was invited to attend the birthday celebrations of Tutu, a friend and fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Tutu, often described as the country's conscience, shouted: "We will pray, as we prayed for downfall of [the] apartheid government, we will pray for [the] downfall of a government that misrepresents us."

Barely concealing his fury, Tutu repeatedly told ANC leaders to "watch out" and warned them about becoming too complacent after winning every election since 1994 with large majorities. He indicated they could face the fate of Arab dictatorships.

"The Nationalists had a huge majority. They ate dust," Tutu said while shaking his finger.

Popular uprisings

He said the ANC had a large majority, but so did former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, both of whom were overthrown in popular uprisings.

"Mubarak had a large majority. Gaddafi had a large majority. Watch out. I am warning you. Watch out."

Tutu said South Africa was helped by the international community to overcome apartheid.

"People were opposed to injustice and oppression and people believe that we South Africans would be on the side of those who are oppressed. Tibet is being oppressed," he said.

"People who supported us in our struggle... those people are weeping. They are saying South Africa, it can't be.

"Our government, representing me, says it will not support Tibetans who are being oppressed viciously by the Chinese."

“May I just remind you - the minister of international relations and co-operation [Maite Nkoana-Mashabane] two years ago said the Dalai Lama can come anytime.

“She was being very, very, economical with the truth or she didn’t know her work.”

‘No outside pressure’

South Africa has denied there was any outside pressure on the visa application, and international relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela insisted that normal procedures were followed.

"Unfortunately he's decided to pull out of the trip, which is his decision, and we have noted that decision," Monyela said.

But Tutu said: "Clearly, whether they say so or not, they were quite determined that they are not going to do anything that would upset the Chinese."

Tutu also had strong words for President Jacob Zuma.

He said he once listened to one of Zuma's State of the Nation speeches as the president paid tribute to everyone, apart from religious leaders, in bringing about democracy.

"I listened to this president paying tribute to all kinds of people who had helped bring about democracy in this country," Tutu said.

"This president did not mention a single religious leader. Let the ANC know that they cannot airbrush us out."

‘You don’t represent me’

"Hey Mr Zuma, you and your government don't represent me. You represent your own interests.

"One day we will be praying for the defeat of the ANC government. You are disgraceful. You have... a huge majority – that is nothing. Watch out ANC government. Watch out!”

Tutu said former president Nelson Mandela once told the United States not to tell him how to choose his friends when he was challenged about South Africa's close ties with Cuba.

"When you think Madiba [was] able to say to [the] most powerful country, look you don't choose our friends for us... To say that to the US about Cuba, it takes something, but he did and they did nothing. If anything, their respect for him grew."

Tutu said he would not invite the Dalai Lama to South Africa again.

"I don't think I would put him through this kind of thing again," he said.

- AP
Holomisa slams ANC over education
2012-06-16 20:14

The ANC has not done enough to improve the quality of education in the country, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa says. (File, Sapa)

Related Links
Government has failed the youth - Zille
Acknowledge mistakes, Motshekga told

Johannesburg - The ANC has not done enough to improve the quality of education in the country, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said on Saturday.

"Today's black children are still doomed to be 'hewers of wood and drawers of water' who cannot read or write," he said at a Youth Day rally in Mthatha, Eastern Cape.

Holomisa said that throughout the African National Congress 's time in power, black schools lacked basic infrastructure and were still under-resourced.

He said the funds and resources that should have been spent on educating the youth, creating jobs and combating poverty were routed to the "ANC's party coffers and the pockets of the privileged few".

"Maybe the fault lies in every new education minister who brings a different policy and we start from scratch every five years."

He encouraged the youth not to allow "corrupt government officials" to steal their future.

"You have the power to change things by changing people's minds and showing them the truth," he said.

"Just as the youth of 1976 you must go out and show a corrupt government that you are more that just hewers of wood and drawers of water".




  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. South Africans will pray for the downfall of the ANC like they did with the apartheid government, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said in Cape Town on Tuesday, during a news briefing on the government's failure to grant the Dalai Lama a visa.(2011 )

  3. FRED DE SAM LAZARO, correspondent says: South Africa has spent six billion dollars just on stadiums—money that could have gone to many pressing needs in a poor country. But that debate has been set aside for the celebrations these days. No one, it seems, has escaped World Cup fever—not even Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who came to our interview wearing soccer vestments.

  4. South Africans will pray for the downfall of the ANC like they did with the apartheid government, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said in Cape Town on Tuesday, during a news briefing on the government's failure to grant the Dalai Lama a visa.(2011 )


  6. "I praise God for religious freedom because the judge declared it's OK to pray imprecatory prayers and quote Psalm 109," Klingenschmitt said after the ruling, according to The Dallas Morning News. Psalm 109 calls for the death of an opponent and curses on his widow and children, among other things.
    Now it's time to pray for the downfall of the ANC "Desmond Tutu"will bless you all to fall !

  7. - WEDNESDAY 16 JUNE 1976 - WHAT A DAY IT WAS........... AMEN - 42 YEARS AGO............