Many years South Africa was a place where the apartheid in its very extreme form existed. The apartheid system in South Africa was a conscious system of social order which was formed after the Nationalist Party won the election in 1948, and was explicitly targeting at maintenance of white supremacy. Despite the modernization and industrialization processes occurring there, South Africa demonstrates the persistence of racial inequality.The basic features of apartheid have been defined in many works and studies (Fredrickson, 2002, Welsh, 1998). Its starting point was the election of 1948, when the Nationalist Party (NP) swept to power in South Africa. After that the series of laws were passed by a parliament which consisted of the representatives of “white” population (10% of the total population) according to which all South Africans were divided at birth into a racial category, like white, Asian, Colored, or African. “The “Coloreds”—a substantial population group of mixed origin that had developed in the Western Cape out of the interaction of Europeans, East Asians, Khoikhoi (“Hottentots”), and black Africans in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—were substantially Afrikaans in language and culture. But during the apartheid era they were increasingly segregated and discriminated against.
” (Fredrickson, 2002, p.4) Racial status, thus, defined the main legal and political rights. The new policy was summed up in the word “apartheid” or “apartness.
” For NP race purists, segregation was judged to be undermining white supremacy. The ultimate aim was to make South Africa a “white man’s country” built on black helots. (Bunting, 1964)Apartheid represented a qualitatively new stage to entrench and guarantee white rule and black exploitation and oppression.
In 1913 the principle of territorial segregation had been introduced and Africans could claim permanent residence in the reserves, which constituted 13 percent of South Africa. The Group Areas Act of 1952 extended this principle to segregate Colored and Indian areas as well (Cell, 1982). It empowered the executive to declare areas reserved for particular races for residential purposes. The Suppression of Communism Act empowered the prime minister to draw up a list of persons declared to be Communists and to forbid any such person to be a Member of Parliament, a provincial council, or any public organization. The governor-general could also prohibit any publication suspected as Communist. Any organization declared to be Communist could be banned and there would be no right to appeal against a proclamation declaring such an organization unlawful.
Mixed marriages and carnal intercourse between white and black were made illegal.Apartheid was racism unbridled and unrestrained. It was blatant and terrorist at home and abroad. It made racism and anticommunism the main principles of state policy.
The NP gave the policy of white domination and black subordination and exploitability a sense of finality. At the heart of black exploitation and oppression were the pass laws, dating back to the early nineteenth century, designed to control and direct African labor to wherever it was needed.The NP, which claimed to represent Afrikaner patrimony in South Africa, built an edifice of racist laws not only to guarantee white supremacy, but also to ensure that Afrikaners were on a par with their English counterparts in all spheres of South African life. The essential difference between apartheid and segregation was that, for the advocates of apartheid, white domination and black subservience were not a matter of negotiation. Africans had to accept ultimate submission or prepare for revolution.
In 1960, rather than negotiate African grievances, the regime banned the African National Congress (ANC), which had been formed in 1912, and the Pan-African Congress, which had split from the ANC in 1958. The first political organization to be proscribed had been the Communist Party of South Africa in 1950. In 1977 the Black Consciousness Movement was banned. From September 1984 onwards, the confrontation between the regime and extraparliamentary forces intensified with the beginning of unrest in the Vaal Triangle, and in March 1985 innocent demonstrators, commemorating the Sharpeville slaughter twenty-five years earlier, were killed in Uitenhage. In July the regime imposed a state of emergency which tightened restrictions on the activities of the United Democratic Front and other organizations.The whites-only franchise guaranteed that differences in the white community were contained within acceptable bounds. But the very success of building the white economy on disenfranchised black labor had undermined the basis of territorial apartheid.
The influx control laws could not stem the tide of African urbanization. Thus, across the urban landscape of South Africa huge concentrations of African townships and slums whose residents defied ethnic fragmentation emerged. It was in these townships that the most radical challenge to the status quo would be launched in the 1970s.The epic struggle was between Africans and white settlers. The subtext of that struggle was between Afrikaner nationalism and British imperialism. This latter struggle culminated in 1961, when South Africa withdrew from the multiracial Commonwealth and became a republic.
This was a crowning moment for Afrikaner nationalists. They had revenged the humiliations they suffered, first in the South African War of 1899–1902 when the Afrikaner republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal became British colonies, and then in 1910 when the Union was established and the British monarch became South Africa’s head of state.Even as the Afrikaners celebrated their victory over British imperialism, the real struggle for the future of South Africa had just begun. On 21 March 1960 the struggle had been joined when at Sharpeville, an African township in the industrial area near Vereeniging, where the Boer Republics surrendered their autonomy and became British colonies, the police opened fire and killed 69 innocent demonstrators and wounded 180 bystanders (Davenport, 1987). The result was pandemonium in South Africa and throughout the world.
A state of emergency was declared, giving the executive wide powers to crush the African revolt and to maintain law and order. The events at Sharpeville and after did irreparable harm to South Africa. An immediate consequence of the massacre was the outflow of £12.
5 million and gold reserve (Magubane, 1979).The brutality with which apartheid was maintained led the United Nations to declare it a crime against humanity. In 1963 the Organization of African Unity was formed, and one of its goals was to help African nationalists wage war against white colonial enclaves in Africa and apartheid in South Africa.
From Sharpeville on, South Africa’s international position deteriorated such that the Western powers, against their will, were forced by world public opinion to introduce various sanctions against their once-favored offspring. In 1976 the Soweto student uprising underlined further the brutality of apartheid. The collapse of Portuguese colonial rule in 1975 and the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980 left the apartheid regime without an overall strategy to control the regional political agenda. The theological foundations of apartheid also collapsed in the 1980s as the Dutch Reformed Church split into factions.The assault from outside by the guerrilla forces of the ANC, the sanctions imposed by the international community, and the internal revolts rendered the political arrangements considered natural up to the end of World War II obsolete. They were now considered offensive abroad and an insult at home.The tumultuous events unleashed by the student revolt in 1976 in Soweto and accelerated by the introduction of a new constitutional dispensation to the Coloreds and Indians in the early 1980s saw the NP split into various factions.
This was the state of affairs in the mid-1980s when businessmen and other interested parties began talks with the ANC that led to the release of Nelson Mandela in February 1990 and the unbanning of the ANC and other organizations. From 1990, even as the carnage escalated in the townships and in Natal, South Africans negotiated a new constitution, and in 1994 the first truly democratic elections were held, leading to the triumph of the ANC alliance. In a gesture of magnanimity the ANC agreed to a Government of National Unity of all parties that won twenty seats in the election. South Africa had avoided a bloodbath that everybody expected.What remains now is the ugly legacy of white supremacy with its deep-rooted structural inequalities.
The end of apartheid era brought new vital concerns for the present authority. The long-term consequences of apartheid require from the state authority persistent hard work to change so imbalanced wealth distribution. The white population, still being in minority in the country, enjoys material benefits, health and educational facilities, while most of the population preserves its living in poor conditions. The apartheid regime left new government with the heritage of high levels of crime, generations of youth without a basic education and respectively work skills. The essential structures of the white-owned capitalist economy, monopolized landownership, and racial residential separation with white suburbanization and Black reservation to townships remain intact. South Africa’s structural integration remains an uncertain and contradictory process as long as disparities coincide with racial and class divisions.