South Africa the Struggle Against Apartheid

THE POLITICS OF APARTHEID The whole monstrous legislative and police structure in South Africa, going by the name "

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South Africa the Struggle Against Apartheid

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Southern Africa International Defence and Aid Fund booklets Southern Africa magazine African Youth magazine Objective Justice magazine


The Politics of Apartheid

. . . . • • • . . • • • • . page


From the Boer Colonization to Apartheid: Three Centuries of Pillage and Exploitation


A Police Regime for Whites, Too • • • . • • • • • • • . •


The "To\vnships'' . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . • • . . • • . . . . . . .


Bantustans: Independence or Concentration Camps? 11 French Interests in South Africa •••••••••••.• ,


When the Capitalists Complain About Apartheid..


The "Economic Miracle" Based on Forced Labor


For the Racists of Pretoria: • •• • • • •• • •• •• • •• •• • .


The Beginning of the End


22 What Lies Behind the Seeming Confusion in the Demands .•. a ............. 0 ............



The Impasse of Nationalism • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


For the Political Independence of the Working Class ....•....



SOME FACTS ON SOUTit AFRICA White Black Per capita income (1968) $3,144 $117 Average wage in minilg $4,740 $285

Income exempt from tax $840 none Education $ per sltllent $159 $18 Infant mortarrty per 1000 birtll 27 200 Percentage of the population Percentage of land reserved

19 87

70 13

THE STRUGGLE AGAl.NST APARTHEID THE POLITICS OF APARTHEID The whole monstrous legislative and police structure in South Africa, going by the name "apartheid'', imposes racial segregation on all details of everyday life. The "separate development of the races" is given as the justification for segregation. In fact, apartheid institutionalizes the oppression of the 17 million Black people by a white minority. With apartheid, all of South Africa has become a gigantic concentration camp-type world, ·where 8 million production workers are penrn~d up in the out· skirts of the cities, and subjected to alrnost police raids; where some 7 million women, children and old people slowly die of hunger, if not of the cold, in the desert reserves called "bantustans... The remaining areas are the "white zones" (since the '60's, almost all the cities, all the industrial sectors, every area which is in the least bit prosperous, all the regions which had any value whatsoever for South Aflica, have been legally designated "white zones·•, one after the other) - forbidden to Black people and ··Coloreds "for all intents and purposes, except to go there for ,.,·ork. Racial segregation is as old as colonization. But apartheid with its truly insane legislative, judicial and police arsenal has only become systematic since the Nationalist Party took power in 1948. Mixed marriages were banned in 1949. In 1950 the whole population was administratively carved into racial categories: \Vhite, Colored, Indian, Bantu. It was a dramatic time for thousands of people when members of the same family were classed into different categories! The right to travel for African workers was officially regulated. The miners were already familiar with the ·•pass ' system; in 1953, the system was applied to al\ •. Each African from then on was required to carry an individual passbook which contained his race, his real or alleged tribal origin, his tax receipts, his various places of work with a seal from each of his successive employers, etc. In fact, the "pass .. requirement meant that a whole part of the population, subject to continual,p:olic~ controlt was almost permanently in violation of the laws. Those cay.ght in violation had the "choice''• if they wanted to avoid prison or returning to a reserve, to go to work on the white farm for a year or more, under a real regime of forced labor.


The same year, the right to strike was banne i for Black people, multi-racial unions were dissolved and their members arrested. In 1956, the "group area'' system - racial regroupment zones - was instituted. The barriers between races became insurmountable. A Colored, ·for example, could no longer see a Black friend, because their regToupment areas were different. Colored and Indian merchants, liberal professionals and even industrialists were expelled from those quarters designated as ''white zones", from Cape Town and Durban, for example. The 1953 law accounted for racial segregatioh in all the particulars and all the domains of everyday life (houses, trains, taxis. parks~ public gardens. sports, hospitals .•• ). The government was struck by a sudden craze for tribal culture; English was forbidden to be taught to Black people and only those subjects which could be useful for them were authorized (how to pound millet, for example!). The result is that at the present time 50% of the Black children are not schooled (school is not compulsory). As for the few Black students that exist, they can only study theology or medicine, because .. reservation jobs" bar Black people from most skilled professions.

Lastly, job segregation is imposed by this "reservation job" category (jobs reserved for whites). But the whole apartheid system is only viable with the use of a gigantic and permanent police force. South African Blacks always live as outcasts under constant repression. In Soweto, as in most of the townships, searches are daily, especially at night. It is suspicious to close the door• so they stay open, .• In the whole country, 350, 000 persons are thrown in prison each year. The "90 day" la\v allows the poliee to detain anyone indeffrutely, Torture is an institution. Since 1966, another law. the "180 day la1,v" this time has allowed them to arrest whoeve1· tl1ey want without cause, if there is a chance that that person could eventually be charged with a crime.

In reality, this insane systematization of racial segregation cannot survive without police terror, a permanent dictatorship, which owes its long life solely to the consensus of 3 million angry and desperate whites, hung up on their privileges as little colonial supporters of slavery.


Until tm whole Black and ''Coloredi! population, trampled under foot, has no other hope than to revolt ••. THE REVOLT AGAINST APARTHEID

With the Soweto riots, in mid-June, began a great explosion of anger in the Black South African community. It is not yet extinguished; on the contrary, it is developing and growing stronger. On June 16, 1976 in Soweto, a large Black city in the suburbs of Johannesburg, the police opened fire on a demonstration of thousands of young students, who were protesting, among other things, the required teaching of the Afrikaans language in the schools - the language spoken by the descendants of the Boers. The balance sheet of the first hail of bullets: more than 20 dead and 200 wounded. Immediately, Soweto itself, but also Alexandra, another Black dormitory-city in the suburbs of the large white city of Johannesburg. rose in fury. Young people mobilized in greater and greater numbers. And they attacked all those things which symbolize the disgraceful regime of racial segregation: the administration buildings, the schools, the beer halls. This was their way of protesting white domination and racial injustice. No one was fooled about the cause of their anger. And in several days the movement spread to almost all the Black suburbs of Johannesburg, as well as to many universities in South Africa. And at the end of a week of struggle, the white regime's cops and soldiers had taken nearly- 200 dead and thousands wounded, arrested and imprisoned. The sudden explosion of anger from the Black community did not break out like a clap of thunder in a serene sky. Already in 1960, the Sharpeville massacre exposed the explosive character of the situation produced by the apartheid system. Since then the anger of Black people has been demonstrated time and again, hy student demonstrations and by the strike movements, of which the most important were during 1972-1973. F1·0111October1972 to April 1973, nearly 250, 000 to 300, 000 Black workers participated in actions which affected the teA.iile and iroa industries as well as mines,


the manufacturing and finished goods industries, and municipal sc1·vices. Over all, their basic demand was for an end to all discrimination and all segregation in the area of job skills as well as wages between Black and white workers. Today, it is this same anger which exploded into broad daylight. Because we can't fool ourselves: while it is true that the demands which set off the riots were related specifically to the young Black students' milieu, the significance goes much deeper. The aspirations of. all those who are struggling in the townships, the bantustans, in all the zones where the whites pen up Black people -- their aspirations are much broader. It is the regime of racial oppression as a whole which is being put on trial. Although Vorster's South African government gave in after three weeks of riots on the problem of the teaching of Afrikaans, the explosion of anger rose again, even more violently.

In mid-August, a new outburst. On August 11, a huge strike of Black workers half-paralyzed the activities in Johannesburg, while two days later, in Cape Town, an insurrection-type strike -- in the words of the authorities -- left 33 dead and hundreds wounded. Since then, the protest continues in different regions of South Africa, and the government has not been successful in their attempts to put them down, although their cops have divided all the Black quarters and made mass arrests of members of the Black community -- among them certain select persons. But, all in vain; the anger is not extinguished. And all of South Africa-is affected, which was not always apparent. As deep as the anger goes today, the movement is being pushed even deeper by the young students -- young people from 13 to 16 years old. It is the youngest who are the first to revolt against racial segregation, which is such a barbarous wrong against human dignity. Those who profit from apartheid have not finished dealing with the upheaval. The revolt of the oppressed South African Black people has only begun.



The history of South Africa is deeply colored by the existence of very early European colonization. Several hundred Dutch people established the colony in the 17th century for supplying their sailing ships. They were joined by Huguenots banished from France. They began to swarm northward in search of pastures and land to cultivate. At the same time, they entered into competition for the land and the pastures with the Bushman and Hottentot populations who also lived by rearing cattle. Using their superior weapons, the peasants - Boe1·s, in Dutch - settled the conflict by decimating the herders they found, and enslaving a certain number of them. Plundering, massacres, slavery, all this is what the progressive pushing of the Boers meant for the populations they encountered on the way. The Bantu people (Zulus and Xhozas) had a relatively high degree of development and their state organized a fierce resistance: a dozen wars were needed to subdue them. From 1810 on, the English occupied the Olpe and set up a colonial administration. The Boers had no desire to submit to the weight of this administration, to pay taxes or use the English language imposed on them; in the same way, they had no desire to respect the antislave1·y law which was passed in 1834 by the colonial administration; so they left the English colony from the Cape region and settled further and further north, creating tiny rural republics, first of all in Natal, then, when this region was in turn occupied by the English, in Orange and Transvaal. For several decades there was open conflict between modern colonialism - - English capitalism -- and the peasant Boer communities. But at the bottom of this conflict ran a permanent war led concurrently by both sides against the native African population~ The Boers and the English were able to work together even through these thorny periods of conflict. In the wars against the African,for example, the English gave weapons and munitions to the Dutch, but they both refused, by common agreen1ent1 to turn weapons over to the Africans.


Both had the desire to pursue their territorial expansion at the expense of the African population. Both needed to reduce the Black people, dispossessed of their own lands, to slavery; the English capitalists, to wage slavery in the first mines, and the Boer farmers) to outright slavery in agricultural exploitation. The more or less stormy coexistence between the English colony and the Boer republics of the Transvaal or Orange came to an end starting with the successive discoveries of diamonds and gold on the territories of these Republics. The Boer governments made fumbling attE!mpts to hold back and channel the gold rush which upset the traditional life-style of the Boer farmers. But English capitalism, backed by all the power of Great Britain, could not accept being impeded in their expansion in this way. English imperialism broke the Boer's resistance after a three year war. As soon as they were able to defeat the Boers, who made up the

majority of the white fraction of the population, the British colonial administration sought to make up to them. From 1910 on. eight years after the end of the war, until the creation of the Union of South Africa and to its gaining the status of a dominion (with internal autonomy in relationship to Great Britain) -- the Boers (or Afrikaans) were partners in the political leadership of the country. The Black proletariat was growing in size and cruelly exploited; to help "keep them in their place," the English capitalists searched for a mass base, the support of those hundreds of thousands of white Boers, peasants for the most part; but they also began to appeal to workers and petty ·bourgeois citizens, who clung to the only ''privilege·• they possessed: the color of their skin! Capitalism is not racist: it e>.'J)loits workers no matter what their color. But in South Africa it was prepared to help the Boer peasants dispossess the African peasants of their lands, in return for their political support. It was prepared to give them the kinds of small privileges that it frequently grants the labor aristocracy, as a function of their skin color -- not only in fact but also by law. It was prepared to give in to the tremendous fears of the small white population of becoming "submerged" by the Black majority, by excluding the whole group from all political rights.


It was at the time of English colonial predominance that the apartheid system was set up, even though final refinement and official status came later. Th.rough the passage of two laws, the first in 1913, the second in 1936, the administration dispossessed the Africans of all their lands in 86% of the territory of the Union. It became illegal for them ever to own _(>roperty -- not even to purchase it -- outside of the 14% of land that remained. Non-whites were officially excluded from any political rights at the State level, which disenfranchised groups who, in the English zones before the Boer war, had held certain rights. Successive laws restrained Black people from travelling freely from place to place.

The obsessions, the out-dated preoccupations, the fears of the poor and working Afrikaans have marked the South African political regime with a racist, barbaric stamp. But it is the force and the power of the English capitalist class which has allowed this system to consolidate itself. Up until 1948, the existence of the South African government depended on the institutions directly representing the interests of British imperialism and those of the English-speaking South African bourgeoisie and by those Af rikaan partisans of cooperation with this bourgeoisie. These institutions are reluctant to push the system of racial discrimination to its ultimate consequences, for fear of making the situation too explosive. On the other hand, the Nationalist Party, a fascist-tJipe of organization \ its base among the poor white Afrikaans, plays on the anti-British feelings of the descendants of the Boers and especially on the great fear of the poor whites of competition with Black workers on the job market, and on their fears in the face of stronger and stronger demands being made by the Africans to be ti·eated as human beings and to have the same rights as the whites. The 1948 elections carried the Nationalist Party into power. Since then, they have never given it up. Thus began the nightmare of complete apartheid -- and. the struggle of the Africans to rid themselves of it.



The white population in the cities lives in a permanent state of terror with regards to the Black people in the townships who ·•could very well one day••• descend upon the city." Electric barbed wires, more than ten meters tall, surround the minister's quarters in Pretoria. All the white Afrikaans live in a kind of entrenched camp. That's the price that must be paid by a people who oppress another ••• But the police dictatorship itself does not limit itself only to Black people. Apartheid logic sees the Communist peril on all sides, especially in the heart of the white community. South Africa is a country where most of the books which are interesting in any way are forbidden. The authorities have even banned Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) because they believe that it is a book about communism among th~ "Bantus", as they say. It is dangerous for whites to be against racism. The political police are all over. White opponents of racism are tortured and im13risoned. People a1·e constantly worried about being watc!1ed, '', suspe1::ted of having contact \.Vith suspicious p.3rBons; theJ are afraid of being 'banished' (that is, put •.mder house arrest without the right to meet with more than two people). People only read while in a safe hiding place, ahc,rays alert for the bell to ring, because police terror is practiced everywhere. THE CORRUPTION OF THE WHITE WORKERS' MOVEMENT

South Africa is the roost highly industrialized country on t11e African continent. Johannesburg is the biggest indcstrial capital on the continent. And the South African working class is by far and away the most !mportant on the African cor1tinent, both in number and by its weight in the economy. But, because of apartheid 1 it is today legally divided by a racial barrier.

Unskilled or "08" jobs are reservedfor Black workers -- a situation sanctioned by law since the 50's by the 11job reservation act••


-- which bans Black people from almost all skilled jobs. Wages are held at the bare minimum for survival, while white workers hold skilled positions and earn wages. that are on the average ten times higher. In the mines, this gap is on the order of one to twenty. Apartheid is also in the, total separation being imposed by official regulations: Black and white people in the same work-place do not go in the same doors, do not work in the same shops, do not eat in the same lunchrooms, don't use U1e same locker-rooms, the same sinks, the same toilets ••. There is discrimination, too, in the matter of union rights. Traditional union rights are only recogJ.tized for white workers. They alone have organizations which are legally recogni:ted, which can cail for a strike and n3gotiate \\ith the bosses and the authorities in the name of all th0 workers. But Black people have nv rights of thi~ kind. Since the 1950's_. 'mixed'' unions have been forhldden. Black \vorkers do not legally have the right to strike. And even when Black workers have formed unions anyway, fa13ir organizatio11a ara not recognized. Thd bosses and the representatives of the racist white state stubbornly i·efuse - in principle - to have a dialogue with them. The current politics of the bosses and of the political powers is aimed. on the one hand, to prevent by force all forms of organization of the working-class Black majority, and on the other hand, to corrupt the white n1inority. The big union organizations, openly racist, have become the instruments of this corruption. They are one of the pillars of the nationalist and racist power.

However, it has not always been this way. South African workers of European origin have a more glorious history, a past of struggles against capitalism. Decades of battles, sometimr~s of a violence second only to the present struggles of Black workers, have been fought in ortjer to wrest from the magnates of the mines and industry the right to organize, and for decent wages. But these have always been ~orporatist struggles. That is, they have always limited them3elves to the defense of the economic interests of white workers, refusing to tie their future 'wealth and fortune,. to that of the Black workers. The latter have also struggled, at the same time and for many of the same demands, and have often set an example for white workers, who have the advantage of being better armed for the struggle


with their organizational traditions. But these movements have always stayed separate. And since the capitalists have had the material means and the political will to give crumbs to a fringe of the working class in order to corrupt it, it was easy for them to reinforce

the racist aspect of this corporatist mentality. From corporatism to racial segregation, the distance is not so great. So, in the many moments of history where joining the struggles together might have been possible, it has not been realized. The white workers have not seen it as the means to wage their struggles. But they haven't looked to it as a means, either; they do not have an organization attached to the interests of the whole working class and not to the privileged particulars of one of its components. It is true that the task is difficult: that from the start, Black workers have been brutally forced into a sub-proletarian, semi-slave position, superexpioited by the bosses. It is true that they are extremely difficult to organize because of the precarious migratory condition that has been imposed on them. Nonetheless, this Black proletariat, the decisive section of the South African workil1g class, has shown a tremendous fighting spirit time and time again. THE "TOWNSHIPS" A "le Monde" journalist recently reported that there was panic in Johannesburg on August 11, 1976. A strike movement bad deprived the city of half its Black workers. And in the official and administration buildings at tea-time, the whites had been obliged to scurry around serving themselves.

The big white cities of South Africa are able to function, essentially because of the work of Black people. There are the workers in the factories, sweepers in the municipal services, domestics in the hotels and in the service of private individuals ••• but just the same, they are "banished'' from these areas. They do not have the right to reside there, to take their meals there, go to a restaurant there, go to the movies •.. not even the right to take a walk there. The apartheid regime sees to it that Black women and men are only authorized to venture into white cities for one reason: to accomplish a job, and


stay only for the time lt takes to do .so. So, Black people make a living in the white cities but are strangers there. White society reserves for them particular zones -dormitory-cities -- on the outskirts of these metropolitan areas:" the townships. ''

The names of many are now known: Soweto1 Alexandra .•• because it is in these Black cities on the outskirts of the white cities that the recent riots, starting in June, 1976, exploded. Soweto -- an abbreviation for "South Western Township'' -- is the largest Black city in South Africa. In a way it is Johannesburg's twin. While about 1, 700, 000 white people live in Johannesburg, more than a million Black people 1ive in Soweto. But the parallel stops with the quantitative aspect. If Johannesburg is a small South African New York, with its rich quarters and concrete skyscrapers, Soweto, only 9 miles away, is an immense shantytown of sheet-iron and brick huts. It is a uniform city, with rectangular streets, witho\lt trees, dominated by pO\verfol flood-lights installed about 30 meters above the ground, assuring permanent .surveillance of every act and gesture of all those who live there, Smaller than Soweto, Alexandra is also located in the great Johannesburg suburb and is of the same nature: 60, 000 Black people penned in there in sheet-iron shanties, on the streets of beaten earth.•• And the crowning point is that even the right to Ii ve in these dormitory-cities, in these shanty-town-dormitories, is a kind of privilege which can be taken away at any rnoment. Even there, Black people are temporary residents, only authorized to stay as long as they have work. If they lose their job, they must leave the townships for their ''homelands", the reserves. BAN':rUSTANS~


The creation of the ''Bantustans" or ''Bantu homelands" is the result and the consummation of the politics of apartheid. The point 11

is to establish a territorial base for racial s