South Africans that transformed the nature of international resistance to apartheid in the 1960s essay

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South Africans that transformed the nature of international resistance to apartheid in the 1960s essay

Verity 1 year 2021-08-30T21:26:35+00:00 0

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    2021-08-30T21:27:50+00:00

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    2021-08-30T21:27:50+00:00

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    Internal resistance to apartheid in South Africa originated from several independent sectors of South African society and took forms ranging from social movements and passive resistance to guerrilla warfare. Mass action against the ruling National Party (NP) government, coupled with South Africa’s growing international isolation and economic sanctions, were instrumental in leading to negotiations to end apartheid, which began formally in 1990 and ended with South Africa’s first multiracial elections under a universal franchise in 1994.[6][1]

    Apartheid was adopted as a formal South African government policy by the NP following their victory in the 1948 general election.[7] From the early 1950s, the African National Congress (ANC) initiated its Defiance Campaign of passive resistance.[2] Subsequent civil disobedience protests targeted curfews, pass laws, and “petty apartheid” segregation in public facilities. Some anti-apartheid demonstrations resulted in widespread rioting in Port Elizabeth and East London in 1952, but organised destruction of property was not deliberately employed until 1959.[8] That year, anger over pass laws and environmental regulations perceived as unjust by black farmers resulted in a series of arsons targeting sugarcane plantations.[8] Organisations such as the ANC, the South African Communist Party, and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) remained preoccupied with organising student strikes and work boycotts between 1959 and 1960.[8] Following the Sharpeville massacre, some anti-apartheid movements, including the ANC and PAC, began a shift in tactics from peaceful non-cooperation to the formation of armed resistance wings.[9]

    Mass strikes and student demonstrations continued into the 1970s, powered by growing black unemployment, the unpopularity of the South African Border War, and a newly assertive Black Consciousness Movement.[10] The brutal suppression of the 1976 Soweto uprising radicalised a generation of black activists and greatly bolstered the strength of the ANC’s guerrilla force, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK).[11] From 1976 to 1987 MK carried out a series of successful bomb attacks targeting government facilities, transportation lines, power stations, and other civil infrastructure. South Africa’s military often retaliated by raiding ANC safe houses in neighbouring states.[12]

    The NP made several attempts to reform the apartheid system, beginning with the Constitutional Referendum of 1983. This introduced the Tricameral Parliament, which allowed for some parliamentary representation of Coloureds and Indians, but continued to deny political rights to black South Africans.[1] The resulting controversy triggered a new wave of anti-apartheid social movements and community groups which articulated their interests through a national front in politics, the United Democratic Front (UDF).[1] Simultaneously, inter-factional rivalry between the ANC, the PAC and the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO), a third militant force, escalated into sectarian violence as the three groups fought for influence.[13] The government took the opportunity to declare a state of emergency in 1986 and detain thousands of its political opponents without trial.[14]

    Secret bilateral negotiations to end apartheid commenced in 1987 as the National Party reacted to increased external pressure and the atmosphere of political unrest.[1] Leading ANC officials such as Govan Mbeki and Walter Sisulu were released from prison between 1987 and 1989, and in 1990 the ANC and PAC were formally delisted as banned organisations by President F. W. de Klerk, and Nelson Mandela was released from prison. The same year, MK reached a formal ceasefire with the South African Defence Force.[13] Further apartheid laws were abolished on 17 June 1991, and multiparty negotiations proceeded until the first multi-racial general election held in April 1994.

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