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The big clampdown

The 24th February 1988 will always be remembered as the day the government turned its back on peace. On that day the government “restricted” 17 organisations. All of these organisations, which were working in a legal and peaceful way, can no longer carry on with their work.

The government also put some restrictions on Cosatu, the trade union body with over 800 000 members. Cosatu can still organise workers – but it now cannot do anything that is “political”.

But the government did not only hit organisations. They also banned 18 people. Mrs Albertina Sisulu and Archie Gumede, who are both presidents of the UDF, were on the list. They can no longer go to meetings or talk to newspapers. Here is a list of all the organisations that were restricted:

UNITED DEMOCRATIC FRONT (UDF) The UDF was born at Mitchell’s Plain in Cape Town on 20 August 1983. It was started to fight the government’s plans to divide the people by giving the Indians and “coloured” people their own parliaments. After the Vaal uprising in 1984, the UDF changed direction. It began to help the people with their day to day struggles in the townships and the countryside. Today the UDF has over 800 member organisations from all corners of the country. Over one million people belong to these organisations. Since its birth, the government has “stomped” heavily on the UDF. Thousands of its members have been detained. Two UDF leaders, Popo Molefe and Terror Lekota, are now being charged with treason in the Delmas Treason Trial, together with 19 other people. At the trial the government is trying to prove that the UDF was working hand in hand with the ANC and the SACP.

AZANIAN PEOPLE’S ORGANISATION (AZAPO) AZAPO was started in 1978 after many organisations were banned on 19 October 1977 – a day that is remembered as “Black Wednesday”. Some of AZAPO’s aims are to organise black workers and to fight for an end to apartheid. It is the biggest of the Black Consciousness organisations. It believes that black people must fight apartheid in their own organisations under black leadership. AZAPO does not support the Freedom Charter. It supports the Azanian’s Peoples Manifesto that was written in Hammanskraal in 1983.

SOUTH AFRICAN YOUTH CONGRESS (SAYCO) SAYCO was launched secretly in March 1987. It is the largest member organisation of the UDF, with over 600 000 members. SAYCO has worked closely with community organisations and trade unions.SAYCO has got the support of many youth organisations in the country. It supports the Freedom Charter and its motto is: “Freedom or Death – Victory is Certain.”

SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL STUDENT CONGRESS (SANSCO) SANSCO is a student organisation with members in universities and other places of higher learning. It was known as AZASO when it started , but changed its name to Sansco last year. It is also a member of the UDF.

CAPE YOUTH CONGRESS (CAYCO) CAYCO was started in 1983 to unite the youth in the Cape. It also helped to start the UDF. Many of it’s leaders are in detention and some of its members were killed by witdoeke’ vigilantes in Crossroads.

DETAINEES’ PARENTS SUPPORT COMMITTEE (DPSC) The DPSC was started in 1981 to give advice to people whose friends and relatives were in detention. It then started to help detainees themselves. It helped to arrange visits for detainees, as well as sending them parcels of food and clothing.

SOWETO YOUTH CONGRESS (SOYCO) SOYCO was born in June 1983 at Dube in Soweto. It has got a large following in the Soweto townships. SOYCO has taken part in many political campaigns of the UDF. It also helped to start SAYCO.

NATIONAL EDUCATION CRISIS COMMITTEE (NECC) The NECC was born in 1986 to help students in their struggle for a better education. It brought parents and teachers together to help students in their struggle. It was the NECC that called on the youth to return to schools after a long boycott in 1986. The NECC has tried taking students’ problems to the Department of Education and Training (DET) – but it did not help. Some of its leaders, like Vusi Khanyile, are in detention.

AZANIAN YOUTH ORGANISATION (AZAYO AZAYO is the youth wing of Azapo. It was started last year and worked closely with the Azanian Student Movement (AZASM).

NATIONAL EDUCATION UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA (NEUSA) NEUSA is a union of teachers and is a supporter of the UDF. Many of its members came from the teachers’ union ATASA. It has taken part in many of UDF’s campaigns. NEUSA was growing fast until it was banned.

VAAL CIVIC ASSOCIATION (VCA) The VCA was started in September 1983 to fight for better conditions in the Vaal townships of Sebokeng, Bophelong, Boipatong Evaton and Sharpeville. Many of its members were detained after the Vaal uprising in September 1984. Some VCA members are now being charged in the Delmas Treason Trial.

CRADOCK RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION (CRADORA) CRADORA was started to fight against high rents in Cradock. It was also one of the first organisations to start street committees. CRADORA lost three of its leaders – Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata and Sparrow Mkhonto – when they were murdered in June 1985. Their killers were never found.

PORT ELIZABETH BLACK CIVIC ASSOCIATION (PEBCO) PEBCO was born in October 1979. It is one of the oldest community organisations in South Africa. Thozamile Botha was it’s first president. He was fired from his job a few weeks after PEBCO began. Thousands of workers went on strike to support him. PEBCO got stronger after Henry Fazzie, Edgar Ngoyi and Sipho Hashe returned from Robben Island. It has fought and won many battles.

WESTERN CAPE CIVIC ASSOCIATION (WCCA) This organisation fought against the government’s plan to move people from Crossroads to Khayelitsha in Ciskei. It helped people who did not want to go to Khayelitsha to get permits to stay in the Western Cape. WCCA will also be remembered for It’s fight against the community councils.

SOWETO CIVIC ASSOCIATION (SCA) The SCA was started in 1979. In 1983 it led a boycott of council elections. In June 1986 it joined the rent boycott. Many of its leaders, like Isaac Mogase and Amos Masondo, have now been in detention for over a year.

RELEASE MANDELA COMMITTEE (RMC) The RMC began in Natal in 1983. It has been fighting for the release of all political prisoners and the unbanning of banned organisations. In the past few months, it started a campaign for the release of Harry Gwala, who is very ill. One of its most well known leaders is Aubrey Mokoena, who has been detained many times.

DETAINEES SUPPORT COMMITTEE (DESCOM) DESCOM is a committee of all organisations that help detainees. It is a member of the UDF.

* Most of this information comes from an article in the Weekly Mail.


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