Apartheid, the race-based system ended 25 years ago

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Black students face police forces during riots in Cape Town, in 1976. The election 25 years ago of South Africa’s first black president, the late Nelson Mandela, was a time of soaring hope for the country. (AFP)
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Francois Pienaar is congratulated by South African President Nelson Mandela after South Africa won the Rugby World Cup against New Zealand, in Johannesburg, in 1995. (AFP)
Updated 22 April 2019

Apartheid, the race-based system ended 25 years ago

  • Apartheid — an Afrikaans-language word meaning the state of apartness — became official government policy in 1948
  • It formalized a system of white-minority domination in place soon after European settlers started arriving on the southern tip of Africa more than 300 years before

PARIS: South Africa’s first all-race vote 25 years ago turned the page on an oppressive system of racial segregation called apartheid that for roughly 50 years privileged whites over blacks.
Here is a reminder.
Apartheid — an Afrikaans-language word meaning the state of “apartness” — became official government policy in 1948 when the conservative National Party took power.
It formalized a system of white-minority domination in place soon after European settlers started arriving on the southern tip of Africa more than 300 years before, most coming from The Netherlands and Britain.
Apartheid was built on laws that classified people as black, colored (mixed race), Indian or white.
The races were separated in every aspect including at school, work and hospitals, and where they could live and shop.
Jobs were reserved for certain races; marriage and sex across the color bar was forbidden; even beaches, buses and park benches were allotted according to skin color.
Whites — who made up less than 20 percent of the population — had ownership of more than 80 percent of the land. They controlled the economy, including the lucrative mining sector, and all political levers.
Blacks had no right to vote and were relegated to inferior jobs, education and services.
They were made to live in neglected townships on the outskirts of urban areas or in various disadvantaged ethnic-based homelands called “Bantustans.”
Until 1986 black South Africans were obliged to carry a passport-like document called a pass book which restricted their movements.
To maintain the system, the apartheid government imposed severe censorship and relied heavily on its security forces, with compulsory conscription for white males between 1967 and 1993.
The African National Congress (ANC) led the resistance to apartheid, first adopting non-violent tactics such as strikes, boycotts and civil disobedience campaigns.
Among the first major protests was a boycott of government buses in the Alexandra township in 1957.
In 1960 a march in Sharpeville against the hated pass books became a massacre when police opened fire on the crowd, killing 69 blacks.
In 1960 the government banned the ANC and other black opposition, and imposed a state of emergency. Underground and in exile, the ANC turned to armed struggle.
In 1964 one of its leaders, Nelson Mandela, was sentenced with others to life in prison for sabotage. He was behind bars for 27 years, becoming the world’s best-known political prisoner of the time and an icon of the anti-apartheid struggle.
The Sharpeville massacre brought world attention to the regime’s brutal repression, leading to the start of its international isolation.
South Africa was excluded from the Olympic Games, expelled from the United Nations, put under arms and trade embargoes.
Internationally renowned personalities became activists against apartheid, with a major rock concert at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1988 honoring Mandela.
It came as a shock when in 1990 President F.W. de Klerk, in power for just five months, announced the legalization of the black opposition.
Within days Mandela walked free after 27 years in jail; within a year and a half, apartheid was over, its discriminatory laws undone.
Its dismantling was celebrated with the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Mandela and de Klerk.
The transition to democracy was not without hurdles with white extremists violently resistant and rivalry between ANC militants and the Zulu party Inkhata breaking into deadly violence.
The first all-race elections were held in 1994 and black South Africans queued for hours to cast a vote for the first time in their lives.
The ANC won by a landslide and Mandela became the country’s first black president. Apartheid was over.

Future of talks unclear after Afghan security forces deaths

Updated 1 min 2 sec ago

Future of talks unclear after Afghan security forces deaths

  • Taliban claim responsibility for assault that killed 25

KABUL: Taliban guerrillas have killed up to 25 members of the Afghan security forces in the Ghazni province, officials said on Sunday.

It is the latest sign of an escalation in attacks by insurgents even as the fate of peace talks with the US remains unclear.

While members of the provincial council of Ghazni said that 25 local military staff on the payroll of the Defense Ministry died in the assault on Saturday in the Qarabagh district, the ministry put the losses at nine.

There were conflicting accounts about the nature of the attack.

A ministry spokesman in Kabul said that the incident may have been caused by a group of Taliban infiltrators or defectors. 

He said that an investigation had been launched to determine the exact cause of the incident.

Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, head of Ghazni’s provincial council, told Arab News that the insurgents had stormed the security forces’ posts when they were asleep. 

The Taliban also said that militants had staged attacks on the posts, putting deaths among the forces at 32.

“Our information suggests that 25 local military forces were killed in this attack; it is a big tragedy,” Faqiri said.

Ghazni lies on a strategic highway linking Kabul with the southern region and beyond and has been the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting since the start of the year between the Taliban and Afghan forces, backed by US-led troops.

In the face of rising Taliban attacks and as part of a move to stop forces being overstretched and instead serve as a mobile unit, the Defense Ministry established the local military force last year in some parts of the country.

The force is supposed to be composed of former and retired army officers and act as a local police force. Its creation has been controversial in Afghanistan because members can misuse their power in a tribally divided country.

The reported toll of the latest Taliban attack in Qarabagh is the highest in a single strike since Thursday when US special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, announced a pause in the talks with militants following the latter’s abortive massive assault on a US-run major base in Bagram.

Khalilzad expressed outrage about the attack.

The talks resumed last week after President Donald Trump paid a surprise visit to Bagram more than two weeks ago. Trump pushed for a resumption after calling off talks in September following the death of an American soldier in a Taliban attack in Kabul.

Trump has said that a truce is a must for the resumption of the talks, a key demand of President Ashraf Ghani who was left out of all rounds of the discussions.

However, Khalilzad and some other US officials have spoken about a reduction in violence.

Dr. Wais Wardak, an Afghan analyst based in the US, said that in a clear change of policy, Washington was pushing for a truce as a pre-condition.

“I think this time the peace negotiations with the Taliban are more challenging than the previous nine rounds,” he told Arab News.

“This time, a cease-fire or reduction of violence has become a priority for Washington and its European allies who want a clear and pragmatic commitment from the Taliban that they are serious about the peace process …”

Dr. Wardak added: “On the other hand, just like Khalilzad, the Taliban negotiators in Qatar are also under a different sort of pressure from those Taliban who see their interest in fighting rather than peace or diplomacy. Their logic is that fighting is the only means they have at their disposal and that’s how they can assert pressure on the NATO, Afghan government and the Afghan people, which could ultimately land them a better deal.”

The Taliban have rejected a truce in the past, arguing that the group will observe it only after US commits itself to a timetable for withdrawal from the country.

“The talks are in a state of limbo now. The rising of Taliban attacks may have more negative impact on the talks,” Taj Mohammed Ahmadzada, another analyst, said in Kabul.