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South Africa: Divide And

South Africa: Divide And image South Africa: Divide And image
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Internews South África has never seen anything like it-three antiapartheid general strikes, involving as many as 250,000 black yorkers, have paralyzed industry in Johannesburg in the last two months. Black students from Soweto have broken out of their ghetto and surged through the streets of downtown Johannesburg, shouting black power slogans and smashing store windows. Hundreds of people of mixed race (officially classified in South África as "coloreds") have battled pólice on fashionable Adderly Street in the heart of Cape Town. Angry black workers in the industrial city of Port Elizabeth- the Detroit of South Africatried to storm an auto assembly plant and retreated only when pólice reinforcements arrived and opened fire. Dozens of government-run liquor stores, schools, pólice stations, and administration buildings have been burned in more than 70 ghettos across the country since the June 16 black student uprising and pólice massacre in Soweto. Generally, the Vorster regime has responded the only way it has ever known how: with pólice repression, buckshot, tear gas, dogs, and mass arrests. At least 376 people- nearly all black-have been killed. That is the official government body count. Some black sources indícate that the actual death toll may be much higher- with as many as a thousand killed. The pólice reportedly take bodies away in trucks for secret burial, according to The Christian Science Monitor. Many black demonstrators are "missing"- that is, their families do not know whether they have been arrested, gone underground, or been shot and killed by the pólice. The anti-apartheid Christian Institute of Johannesburg reported Sept. 21 that more than 5,000 people have been arrested since Soweto and that another 300 or more special prisoners are being detained without trial under the notorious Terrorism and Internal Security Act. The 300 detainees include black ministers, school principáis, lawyers, teachers, women's leaders, reporters and student militants. They include such stalwarts as Winnie Mándela- a South African Coretta Scott King - who is married to jailed African National Congress president Nelson Mándela and is known and respected throughout the,country. The incarceration of these leaders represents a systematic attempt to arrest the en tire above-, ground leadership of the black move ment and thereby halt the protest campaign. Unable to halt the movement with bullets and arrests, the South African government has stepped up its efforts to divide and conquer the black population of 18 million. The most farreaching government strategy to separate and weaken the black majority is the so-called bantustan policy. Under the bantustan plan, all black South Africans would be categorized by ethnic group and assigned to a "homeland" or bantustan. The black majority would be compelled to live on 13% of the country 's land, while 87% is reserved for the white minority of about 4 million. The "homelands" are like Native American reservations in this country- mostly barren, desolate and isolated. They lack natura] resources, ports and industrial facilities. The white govemment says , that 1 1 of these bantustans will become "independent" beginning with the Transkei on Oct. 26. Blacks assigned to the Transkei- the Xhosa people-will lose their South African citizenship. They will have no rights when they enter white South África. As Michiel Botha, minister in charge of "bantu" affairs, recently explained to an appreciative white audience near Durban, blacks are not members of the "white nation" and never will be. Botha stressed that under the bantustan program blacks will be allowed in white areas only "to sell their labor and for nothing else." In the meantime, the government has sought to divide urban blacks and to isolate black student radicáis from black workers." The South African economy is absolutely dependent on what Forbes magazine- the U.S. business journal- calis "dirt cheap" black labor: the same slave labor that has attracted GM, Ford, Chrysler, IBM, and more than 300 other U.S. multinational corporations (total U.S. investment: $2 billion). Gold mining, coal mining, diamond and uranium mining, construction, food processing, manual work and all menial jobs are performed by blacks. In short, South Africa's economy- which has created one of the highest standards of living in the world for the white minority -is based on the exploitation of black labor and is completely vulnerable to a black general strike. For this reason, the goyernment has concentrated its efforts on trying to disrupt the black strike movement. The most widely reported effort was the pólice and employer-instigated Zulu vigilante attack on black strikers and Soweto resident. Officially, the govemment still denies that pólice encouraged the vigilante violence that erupted during the second general strike against Johannesburg in last August, but there is ampie evidence that the white authorities coordinated and provoked it. Pólice Minister Kruger announced that the "backlash" would have a positive impact by encouraging "law-abiding" blacks. Black reporters in Soweto said that pólice not only welcomed the vigilantes, but coached them and egged them on. Nat Serache, a black reporter for the Rand Daily Mail, wrote that he hid in a coal bin outside the allmale hostel on the edge of Soweto where the Zulu migrant workers lived. Serache reported that he heard a pólice officer instructing the Zulu vigilantes not to attack government property, but to concéntrate on assaulting black strikers and student demonstrators. Serache quoted the policeman as saying, "If you damage houses, you will forcé us (the pólice) to take action against you. You have been ordered to kill only troublemakers. " Soon after Serache's expose appeared in print, he was arrested. The New York Times on Aug. 27 ran a photograph of arrried Zulú vigilantes heading for Soweto in a convoy of trucks to try to break the student-led general strike. The South African government would not say who had provided the trucks, but Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, leader of the Zulú bantustan and not known for his radicalism, told reporters that it was the pólice. Buthelezi also charged that "a group of heavily-armed men wearing red boots similar to those worn by the pólice" had passed out marijuana to the Zulus and told them to "killall." The police-instigated Zulú violence resulted in the deaths of some 26 blacks and the wounding of more tlian a hundred. Pleased by that performance, the pólice reportedly began tryingto form the Zulus into quasiofficial vigilante patrols. However, the poliee efforts have so far failed. During the last general strike, Sept. 13-16, there was no vigilante activity. Black reporters on the scène attributed the lack of violence to an educational effort carried out by black students I fe jj ■ I #' 1 1 yj7 TwT" E3E??T!13ï among the Zulú workers. The vast majority of Zulus in Soweto- more than half a million of them-have supported the strikes. Only the Zulu migrant laborers who live in the government-run hostels had feared the strikes and been prey to pólice interference. In addition to repression and the classic divide-and-conquer tactic, the Vorster regime is trying to strengthen its ties with the United States. In the past, the massive U.S. support for South África had been kept discreetly quiet. No longer. Vorster is now Kissinger's ally-in public -where the whole world can see. Together, they are trying to stop the guerrilla wars in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) and Namibia (Southwest África) and vevent what Kissinger calis the "radicalization" of South África. They want to stabilize the región and buy time for South África by replacing the white-minority regime in Rhodeski with a proWestern, neo-colonialist black regime. In an interview with a New York Times correspondent, the imprisoned founder of the South African Students Organization, Steven Biko, called tor Kissinger to issue an ultimatum to South África to abandon apartheid or face a complete U.S. economie boycott. Chief Buthelezi told Kissinger he was "deeply suspicious" of his talks with Vorster. "Vorster is leading South Africa into a bloody confrontation," Buthelezi warned, adding that "for all practical purposes, time has run out for South África." But Kissinger, apparently, was not listening. i 9 ï3 TnfKlWiWC'ïl í"WrWfnKiMi74?ll BmmT wiTí # TTTp B7