The crisis of white rule in South Africa in the mid-1980s was multidimensional. It began with the boycott in August 1984 of the elections to their chambers in the tricameral parliament by Coloured and Indian voters. This dealt a near-fatal blow to the country’s new constitution even before it had formally come into force. This was followed by a revolt in the townships in the Vaal Triangle in September 1984. The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) estimated that 175 people were killed in unrest-related incidents in 1984, 149 of them between 3 September, when the revolt in the Vaal Triangle had begun, and the end of the year.1 The use of troops to quell the unrest politicised the trade unions, leading to a major stay-away from work on 5 and 6 November, ‘the largest political stay-away on record’.2 There was also a strong international reaction to the violence in the townships. In particular, the November stay-away, which coincided with President Reagan’s re-election for another four-year term, prompted a wave of protests against apartheid in the United States. Demonstrations coordinated by Transafrica focused on the South African embassy in Washington attracting extensive media coverage.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- The Pursuit of a Negotiated Settlement: Choice or Necessity?
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number