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APARTHEID IN SOUTH AFRICA END OF APARTHEID (2) BY NANDINI MAHARAJ
THE END OF APARTHEID In a speech in September 1979 which astonished many of his Nationalist supporters, the newly elected Prime Minister Botha said: "A revolution in South Africa is no longer just a remote possibility. Either we adapt or we perish. White domination and legally enforced apartheid are a recipe for permanent conflict." He went on to suggest that the black homelands must be made viable and that unnecessary discrimination must be abolished. Gradually he introduced some important changes which he hoped would be enough to silence the critics both inside and outside South Africa.
Blacks were allowed to join trade unions and to go on strike (1979). Blacks were allowed to elect their own local township councils (but not to vote in national elections) (1981) - A new constitution was introduced, setting up two new houses of parliament, one for coloureds and one for Asians (but not for Africans) The new system was weighted so that the whites kept overall control. It came into force in 1984. Sexual relations and marriage were allowed between people of different races (1985) The hated pass laws for non-whites were abolished(1986) This was as far as Botha was prepared to go.
He would not even consider the ANC's main demands (the right to vote and to play a full part in ruling the country). Far from being won over by these concessions, black Africans were incensed that the new constitution made no provision for them, and were determined to settle for nothing less than full political rights. Violence escalated, with both sides guilty of excesses. The ANC used the 'necklace', a tyre placed round the victim's neck and set on fire, to murder black councillors and black police, who were regarded as collaborators with apartheid. On the 25th anniversary of Sharpeville, police opened fire on a procession of black mourners going to a funeral near Uitenhage (Port Elizabeth), killing over forty people (March 1985).
In July a state of emergency was declared in the worst affected areas, and it was extended to the whole country in June 1986. This gave the police the power to arrest people without warrants, and freedom from all criminal proceedings, thousands of people were arrested, and newspapers, radio and TV were banned from reporting demonstrations and strikes. However, as so often happens when an authoritarian regime tries to reform itself, it proved impossible to stop the process of change (the same happened in the USSR when Gorbachev tried to reform communism)
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