New Internationalist

The Facts

Issue 159

new internationalist
issue 159 - May 1986

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Illustration: Goodman Mabote
The state of racism
Since 1948, South Africa has been built on a system of racial segregation called 'apartheid'. White apologists have always claimed that separate places to live, spearate education and separate amenities are better for black people as well as white. The facts about apartheid South Africa prove otherwise.


Colour coding

Apartheid depends upon the classification of people into separate racial categories. These determine where you can live, how much you are paid -and, until recently, whom you could sleep with. Throughout this magazine the word ‘black’ is used to refer to all non-white people in South Africa. This accords with the. general usage in the liberation movement.

Racial category
Population
% of total
AFRICAN ‘Pure’ African, nember of one of nine tribat or ‘national’ units - North Sotho, South Sotho, Tswana, Zulu, Swazi, Xhosa (two units), Tsonga and Venda.
24,103,458
73.8
COLOURED
‘Mixed race’. This means not only the descendants of black-white liaisons centuries ago and more recently but also acts as a catch-all for anyone with light brown skin not designated ‘Indian’. Some ‘coloured’ people look ‘white’, others look ‘black’.
2,830,301
8.7
INDIAN usually refers to people whose ancestors were brought from the Indian subcontinent by the British to work on railway construction etc.
890,292
2.7
WHITE People whose ancestors were of European origin, most of whom speak either Afrikaans (an offshoot of Dutch) or English. Most white South Africans probably have some ‘mixed blood’, at an average recently estimated to be seven percent.
4,818,679
14.8

A divided land

The Land Act of 1913 passed by the newly-allied Boers and British removed from black people the right to own land and apportioned 87% of South Africa’s land to whites. The rest - fragmented parcels of the most infertile land with the least natural resources - was designated as reserves’ for black people. These are called ‘homelands’ or ‘bantustans’ and apartheid’s dream is that black people will only come into white areas to work. South Africa encourages homeland leaders to opt for a spurious independence, not recognised by any other country in the world.

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Inequality:
from cradle to grave

The difference between the quality of life of white people and black is enormous, and can be measured in every field from child health to average earnings. Merely repealing the racist laws will not eradicate this structural inequality - more fundamental economic change will be required. Compare these figures with those in the box above showing each racial category’s percentages of the total South African population.

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Seven pillars of apartheid

Apartheid was considered to have seven key policies. These are still supported by the vast majority of white people, though more overwhelmingly by Afrikaans-speaking whites (57 per cent of the white population11) than by English-speakers.

White opinion survey 198412

A - Afrikaans speaking

E - English speaking

For
Against
Group Areas Act
People can only live in areas allotted to their own racial category.
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A
E
76.8
42.4
16.1
38.4
Separate Education
children go to schools designated for their own racial grouping.
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A
E
90.2
55.4
5.1
28.3
Separate Amenities
Public transport, places of entertainment etc. segregated. This is now not universally applied and depends upon decisions made by local authorities.
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A
E
84.9
50.5
8.1
30.1
African Homelands
All Africans are allotted a tribal homeland, which the Government then considers to be their only real home - even if they have never visited it. They are then only in ‘white South Africa’ to work.
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A
E
89.6
60.3
4.2
19.7
Separate Voters’ Rolls
Black people vote only for people of their own racial category, for authorities which only have very limited powers. Africans still have no vote at all in national elections.
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A
E
92.1
64.3
2.5
17.7
Mixed Marriages Act
Forbade marriage between people from different racial groups until it was repealed in 1985.
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A
E
78.9
41.3
16.6
41.3
Immorality Act
Forbade sex between people from different racial groups until it was repealed in 1985.
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A
E
81.3
37.8
13.4
41.0

Black voices

Since black people in South Africa are not consulted electorally opinion surveys provide the best available indicator of their views.

Disinvestment by the West13

%
Supporting free investment 26
Supporting conditional’4 disinvestment 49
Supporting total disinvestment 24

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1 Includes independent homelands Race Relations Survey 7984. SA Institute ot Race Relations (SAIRR) 1985.
2 ibid.
3 Human Awareness Programme, cited Weekly Mail. Nov 8-14 1985.
4 Includes capital expenditure SAIRR. op. cit
5 Evclxdes independent homelands, ibid
6 Excludes 'independent' homelands, ibid
7 SA Nursing Association, cited ibid
8 Market Research Africa, cited ibid
9 Excludes independent homelands. SA Govt 15th Manpower Survey
10 Includes old age and veterans' pensions, ibid.
11 Omond. Roger, rhe Apartheid Handbook, Penguin 1985
12 SA Human Sciences Research Council
13 Orkin, Mark, Disinvestment, the Struggle and the Future. Community Agency tor Social Enquiry/Institute for Black Research 1986
14 'Conditional' disinvestment detined tor responders as tollows' foreign tirms would not he allowed to invest unless they actively pressured the Government to end apartheid and recognised trades unions chosen by workers
15 Orkin. Mark. op cit


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