What problems did the NP face within SA 1974-83?

Political unrest and opposition: Trade Union activ

  • Late 70's were a tricky time for NP as the economic boom of the 60's was followed by the oil crisis in 1973 
  • Party also faced continuing opposition and internal divisions 

Trade Unions: 

  • Black workers made up the majority of gold and uranium miners as well as coal which was SA's main export 
  • There were many white households who had domestic servants (1.5 mil farms and 1.6 in industry) 
  • This meant that when black workers went on strike, it could hurt white people 
  • Examples of strikes: Black workers at PUTCO ( a bus company between townships to workplaces) in 1971. Migrant workers in a brick factory near Durban in 1973 - spread to 150 other factories in the area. 
  • These strikes triggered former unionists from the 60's to build new unions. 
  • They focused on wages and conditions - not a wider political rhetoric. 
  • Examples of unions: Sweet, Food and Allied Workers Union - KwaZulu-Natal (big for sugar)
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ANC Supporting within SA.

  • Winnie Mandela big figure 
  • COSAS (Congress of South African Students) launched in 1979 to coordinate school protests
  • Leader of COSAS = Eprahim Mogale 
  • He pushed COSAS to commit to the Freedom Charter (Charterists = in support of FC) 
  • 1980 - Sunday Post launched the 'Free Nelson Mandela' campaign
  • Lots of civic organisations on a local level in townships. They were fighting against rent increases, poor education and forced removal in rural areas etc.... 
  • SAAWU (South African Allied Workers Union) went on strike at Rowntrees sweet factory in Durban 
  • They openly declared support of FC and recruited Mk members in secret 
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Liberal Opposition

  • In 1953, the Liberal party was established 
  • In 1959, some of the more liberal members of the United Party (NP's biggest opposition) split away from the UP and formed the 'Progressive Party'
  • PP = opposed to apartheid --> morally wrong but also it was damaging the economy as needed more skilled black workers 
  • In 1974, they had 7 seats 
  • 1978 - The UP splintered again - Progressive Federal Party 
  • PFP became NP's main opposition in parliament 
  • Had a charismatic leader (Frederik Slabbert) 
  • He tried to reach out to black leaders (e.g. Buthelezi) --> too liberal for most whites
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Trouble in the Bantustans

  • Vorster (and later Botha) put a lot of money into the bantustan policy 
  • There were 4 B's that accepted their independence
  • Gov wanted to see them as independent countries  
  • Lots of money needed for it to work though, usually wasted on forced relocation and bureaucracies etc...
  • Some positives: 50% of the budget went to education, health, roads etc...
  • Buthelezi (homeland leader in KwaZulu) refused to accept independence 
  • New homeland unis were set up (Turfloop and Fort Hare) and were key centres for political dissidence - key places for Mk recruitment 
  • They hated the homelands that had accepted independence as often the leaders gained personal financial benefits --> benefiting off apartheid   
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National Party Division

  • Vorster was in power from 1966-78
  • He had always won quite comfortably 
  • In the 70's however, two groups within the National Party were starting to emerge. 
  • 1) The Verligte (more liberal) 
  • 2) Verkrampte (more conservative) 
  • After the Soweto Uprising, the Cape Nationalist paper said that black urbanisation was inevitable - some whites said that the lack of skilled black workers was holding them back in business 
  • The Verligtes said that if there were better training and recognition for black trade unions, then the SA economy would benefit
  • Vorster sided with the Verkrampte  
  • He also wanted a conservative successor and so gave secret money to Mulder to run a propaganda campaign to ensure his win. 

Information Scandal: 

  • Was found that Mulder's funds were corrupt and when everyone found out, people couldn't ignore it. He still ran against Botha and tried to deny involvement 
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Economic/population pressures

  • There was a recession in the mid-1970's due to the global oil crisis in 1973 
  • SA badly affected as they imported all of their oil 
  • Nationalists set up a state-owned company called SASOL to get oil from coal - had about 1/3 of all oil this way by 1980's, but other 2/3's very expensive 
  • A rise in the price of gold helped but industry stopped growing as skilled white workers were too expensive and black workers restricted by lack of training etc... 
  • Population was also increasing (whites from 3-5 million, Africans 11-29mil) 
  • 80% of SA was rural land and many black workers lived there. However the growing farm sizes, greater efficiency and mechanisation reduced the need for workers.
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Botha's reforms

  • Botha wasn't a strong verligte but was committed to the need for reform 
  • His aim was to keep apartheid and use repression when necessary 
  • Wanted to reform the economy and constitution 
  • Botha's rule (1978-89) coincided with Reagan's (1979-90) and Thatchers (79-90) 
  • This meant international pressure on SA was far less as both conservative and anti-comm
  • NP was dependant on helping poor white people as living standards for white people had increased under apartheid. Felt could give some concessions. 
  • Recognised trade unions - De Lang commission (1981) suggested gradually spending more money on black education 
  • Softened the language of race - continued to promote homeland policy but knew African Urbanisation was irreversible and that the whites should create opportunities for the Black Urban Elite --> Black Urban councils 
  • National Football League deracialised --> Ideologically significant 
  • Constitutional changes in 1984: more power to executive and president (Botha president not PM) and less to parliament --> easier for minorities to get positions of power 
  • Tricameral parliment est (Indian, White and Coloured) --> Symbolic shift 
  • Triggered a split of verkamptes into a new conservative party - NP's new biggest opposition 
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