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(page 9)
Resistance in the 1980s
After the violence of 1976 there was a growing sense of impatience and indignation at the government from a broad range of critics, international and domestic.

Government attempts to 'reform' apartheid did not impress its increasingly militant opponents, who regarded reform as manipulative and refused to endorse 'tokenistic' measures. Thus, when government tried to 'unify' sport the ('non-white') South African Council on Sport (SACOS) stated that 'the children of Soweto give us a clear mandate not to cooperate in the new sports dispensation'.

Hence talks about the possibility of uniting the South African Cricket Association were abandoned. The SACOS stance was 'no normal sport in an abnormal country' and their members refused to use facilities operating under the new permit system. Their response to the government initiative was typical of a new era of hostility.

An intense culture of resistance developed in the 1980s, with schoolchildren especially active (more..). Campuses also became more radical, with university students active in protests. The End Conscription Campaign encouraged increasing numbers of whites to refuse to serve in the armed forces, even at the risk of a six year prison sentence.

Unions actively opposed segregational labour laws, and when members of such unions were dismissed, employees called strikes and boycotts of company products. Workers in several of Cape Town's factories, in particular Fatti's and Moni's pasta factory in Belville, succeeded in making small steps towards democratic representation.

At the same time, moral and active support was given to the anti-apartheid movement by Christian and Muslim bodies, especially the South African Council of Churches led by Bishop Desmond Tutu from 1978.

The activities of students, civil institutions and trade unions in Cape Town reinforced one another and the city remained in the forefront of the anti-apartheid struggle in the early 1980s.

The civics provided another base for resistance. In the seventies small organisations had developed in particular neighbourhoods to campaign for better living standards. They became known as 'civics' and fought for local causes such as better council-house maintenance or for changes in the due dates of electricity accounts.

The growth in the number of civics (there were 32 in Cape Town in 1982) and their common focus on rent increases, gave them a collective energy that was intrinsic to the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF) led by Allan Boesak. This organisation provided powerful coordination of the various organisations engaged in the struggle against apartheid during the 1980s.

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In this period of Cape History:



Petty Apartheid



The Silent Years

Influx Controls

1976 Uprising

Post '76 Reform


Turning Tide

Mass Action

Bibliography & Contacts


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