South Africa March 2

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South Africa

  • March 2


  • The struggle against apartheid

  • The transition to democracy and the election of the African National Congress, 1994

  • Assessing post-apartheid South Africa

Documentary on the Anti-apartheid struggle

  • In the Name of Mandela: War and Peace

  • 56 minutes

  • Available from York Library.

The struggle against apartheid

  • The African National Congress (ANC) was formed in 1912, it became a mass membership organization in the 1940s.

  • By the 1950s it was launching civil disobedience actions to protest against the apartheid regime.

  • The ANC and allies drafted “The Freedom Charter” in 1955 calling for a democratic, multi-racial South Africa.

The struggle against apartheid

  • Pan-Africanist Congress created, 1959

  • Sharpeville Massacre, 1960

  • Banning of African National Congress and Pan-Africanist Congress, 1960

  • Forced underground and facing a violent police state, the ANC turned to armed resistance and sabotage. Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) formed 1961.

  • Nelson Mandela imprisoned, 1962

The struggle against apartheid

  • Black Consciousness Movement emerged in the late 60s and into the 1970s.

  • From 1973 onward, black trade union activism and strikes became a crucial aspect of anti-apartheid struggle.

  • Soweto Uprising, 1976

  • Steve Biko killed in police custody, 1977

International Solidarity and Sanctions

  • Gerald Caplan, “Canada and Nelson Mandela: The Story Behind the Myth,” Globe and Mail. Feb. 26, 2010.


International Solidarity and Sanctions

  • South Africa leaves the Commonwealth, 1961

  • In 1962, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution critical of apartheid.

  • South Africa faced international criticism, but economic relations were largely maintained through the 60s and 70s.

  • In the Cold War context, the racist South African regime was an ally of the US (and NATO) and the ANC was seen as a dangerous “terrorist organization”.

International Solidarity and Sanctions

  • Mozambique, Angola and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) gained independence in the 1970s, leaving the white settler state of South Africa more isolated.

  • By the mid-80s, pressure on western governments was successfully pushing them toward economic sanctions against South Africa.


The struggle against apartheid

  • In the 1980s, the United Democratic Front was a a multi-racial coalition of community-based groups, trade unions, church groups, students, that launched a grassroots struggle against apartheid.

  • In 1985, the Congress of South African Trade Unions was formed (COSATU).

The struggle against apartheid

  • Meanwhile, violence in South Africa escalated. “Between 1984 and 1994, politically motivated killings claimed 25,000 lives” (Lodge, 2009: 322).

The transition to democracy

  • 1986 repeal of pass laws and influx control.

  • Feb 2, 1990: F.W. de Klerk announced that Mandela would be released and prohibitions against the ANC and other organizations would be removed.


  • Feb 11, 1990: Mandela released


  • 1992, whites-only referendum supports process of negotiating a new constitution

The transition to democracy

  • Elections 1994: ANC receives over 62% of the votes.

  • May, 1994: a Government of National Unity (GNU) took office, with Mandela as president and including representatives of the ANC, the National Party and the Inkatha Freedom Party.

Political institutions in Post-apartheid South Africa

  • Centralized political power

  • Semi-presidential system

  • Quasi-federal

  • Political Parties

  • ANC dominance (winning between 60 and 70 percent of the vote)

Economic and Social Policy in post-apartheid South Africa

  • ANC drops nationalization, 1992

  • Transitional govt agrees to repay apartheid-era foreign debt, 1993

  • Agreement with IMF, 1993

  • Central bank made independent, 1993

  • South Africa joins GATT, 1994

  • Reconstruction and Development Program, 1994

  • Privatization begins, 1995

  • Financial liberalization, 1995

  • Growth, Employment and Redistribution Policy (GEAR), 1996

Assessing post-apartheid South Africa

  • From racial to class apartheid?

  • One-party dominance

  • AIDS crisis

  • Crime and violence

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