South African Apartheid
South Africa
Mahatma Gandhi

Fall of the Apartheid System

Amidst the mounting internal and external pressure, the Government of Soth Africa realized by 1980 that the system of Apartheid would have to be dispensed with.

Reasons for change in government attitude:

  1. Increase in outside pressure:
    1. Increased criticism by UN, Commonwealth of Nations and OAU.
    2. The wave of change which was the realization among the colonizers during the 1950s that independence of the African states cannot be delayed infinitely, resulted in emergence of independent nations in Africa with black majority rule. These nations also exerted pressure on South Africa.
    3. By 1975 Angola and Mozambique had won independence from Portugal and by 1980 Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain. Thus by 1980 Black majority regimes had came to power in immediate neighborhood of South Africa and this threatened security of its frontiers.
    4. The Civil Rights movement in the USA gained strength during 1970s and this made the US government adopt a harsher stance against South Africa.
  2. Internal pressures:

    1. The government was finding it more and more difficult to check the violent struggle led by ANC and to maintain the law and order situation.
    2. The Bantustans (Black African homelands) had failed. They were characterized by high poverty and corrupt rulers and thus failed to satisfy the blacks. No foreign government recognized them as genuinely independent states.

Stepwise withdrawal of Apartheid from 1980 onward: By 1979-80, the white government had realized that they could continue Apartheid only at the risk of a violent overthrow of their government. They had lost all outside support. Earlier the colonial rulers in Angola and Mozambique and the white government of Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) had supported the South African government. But now these countries were under Black rule. Thus a stepwise withdrawal of Apartheid was started by PM Botha after 1979 to prolong white rule in South Africa as long as possible.

  1. 1979- Blacks were allowed to have Trade Unions and the right to strike.
  2. 1981- Blacks were allowed to elect their own Local Township But they still did not have the right to vote in national elections.
  3. 1984- A new Constitution was adopted. It provided for setting up three House of Parliament, one each for Whites, Asians and Colored people (but not Black Africans).
  4. 1985- Interracial Marriage and conjugal relations were decriminalized.
  5. 1986- Pass Laws were abolished.

Response to steps taken by Botha:

  1. Violent protests increased because the demands of ANC remained unfulfilled. Blacks did not get the Right to Vote, participation in government and there was no political representation for Blacks under the 1984
  2. The outside pressure increased after the mid-1980s:

    1. 1986 - The Commonwealth of Nations, except Britain, agreed on strong sanctions against South Africa which included measures like no loans to South African government, no selling of oil, no export of ICT equipments, no nuclear trade and no cultural or scientific contacts with South Rajiv Gandhi criticized Margaret Thatcher, for sacrificing principles for monetary consideration as Britain only agreed for voluntary ban on British investments in South Africa. This led to tensions within the Commonwealth.
    2. 1986 - US Congress voted in favor of
      1. giving no more loans to South
      2. to cut off air links with South Africa
      3. To ban imports from South Africa (iron, nickel, Uranium, steel, coal, textiles).
    3. Internally, there was increasing awareness and self confidence among the Blacks. They were no more uneducated and held high skilled Desmond Tutu won the Noble Peace Prize in 1984.
  3. The Dutch Reformed Church now became anti-Apartheid and condemned it publicly.
  4. Thus, the situation was changing The majority of White South Africans now recognized that total exclusion of the Blacks from political sphere was impossible and even though scared, they resigned to the idea of Black Majority rule in the future.

Transition to Black Majority rule:

F.W. Klerk became the President in 1989 and the task cut-out for him was to ensure a peaceful transition to a Black Majority rule. He faced stiff opposition from the right-wing sections, nevertheless he began the process of transitioning South Africa to a Black majority rule.

1) Preparation:

  1. To improve relations with ANC, Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1991 and ANC was made legal. The release was welcomed across the world and Mandela was received with huge support from the members of ANC . He was chosen as the leader of ANC.
  2. Klerk completed the process of dismantling the system of Apartheid and most of the remaining Apartheid laws were dropped.

2) Negotiations:

  1. After creating an atmosphere of goodwill, Klerk invited ANC for talks in 1991. The agenda of the talks was to develop a new constitution that would give full political rights to the Blacks. There was high suspicion among the White population that a regime with Black majority would be revengeful and their would be threat to their life and property.
  2. Taking cue of the situation, ANC under leadership of Nelson Mandela, stressed on Black-White reconciliation and took affirmative actions to reassure the Whites that they would be treated as equal citizens and their wouldn't be any racial discrimination. ANC asked its members to embrace non-violence as a creed in the new era. It was emphasized that the Blacks should be tolerant and focus on building a collective peaceful society.
  3. The talks were not very smooth and the process faced problems that were result of mutual suspicion created by historical factors. W Klerk faced opposition from within his own Nationalist Party and there was clamor for Black leadership as another Black party called Zulu Inkatha was involved in a power struggle with ANC.

3) Success in achieving Black Majority Rule without civil war (1993): By 1993 the talks were successful thanks to the leadership of Nelson Mandela and W. Klerk. The agreement envisaged adoption of Black Majority rule and the government after elections was to be a coalition government of ANC, Nationalist Party and Zulu Inkatha.

The ANC won the general elections that followed and a coalition government with Nelson Mandela as the first Black President of South Africa and F.W. Klerk as Vice-President was formed.

Later, the new constitution that came into effect in 1999 removed the provision of reservation for minority parties in the government i.e. the compulsory coalition government feature was removed.

Indian contribution to Anti-Apartheid struggle:

  1. India was the first country to end trade relations with the apartheid Government in 1946.
  2. India later ended all interactions - diplomatic, commercial, cultural and sports, only to be restored in 1993.
  3. India condemned Apartheid at UN, NAM and other multilateral organizations and was the leading voice in favor of international sanctions against South Africa.
  4. The ANC had an office in Delhi from 1960s onward.

Sports Apartheid:

In 1963 the International Olympic Committee adopted a proposal by India which called for modification of South African policy of racial discrimination in sport, failing which the South African National Olympic Committee will be forced to withdraw from the Olympic Games. South Africa was thus excluded from the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. South Africa was formally expelled from the IOC in 1970. In 1968, the UNGA requested all States "to suspend cultural, educational, sporting and other exchanges with the racist regime in South Africa". India and several African and other countries announced that they would not participate in the Commonwealth Games in 1970 as the South Africans would be touring England. Britain was forced to withdraw the invitation to South Africa. In 1973, New Zealand was forced to stop the tour of South African Rugby team when African Commonwealth countries and India threatened to boycott the games.

Indian sports leaders demanded that the non-Europeans must be represented in international sport. South African Council on Sport was formed in 1973, uniting all the non-racial and anti-apartheid sports federations. Indian sportsmen and sports administrators played an active role in these bodies.

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