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Evolution of South Africa's racial policies under National Party rule

Although South African government policy has been one of white dominance over blacks since 1910, when the Union of South Africa was formed, it was in 1948, when the National Party came to power, that a program of rigid racial separation was instituted. The word chosen by the National Party for its policies of strict racial segregation was ``apartheid'' or ``apartness.'' The word comes from Afrikaans, the language spoken by the descendents of the original Dutch settlers of the region.

Apartheid has been based on five tenets: (1) racial classification; (2) behavioral restrictions applying to such things as marriage, public meetings, travel, and political expression; (3) segregated education; (4) segregated living areas; and (5) white control of the economy. In recent years there has been a less rigid application of some of these principles.

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Key developments in the history of apartheid include: 1949 Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act: forbids marriage between a European and a non-European. 1950 Immorality Act: forbids interracial sex.

Population Registration Act: assigns people to racial groups -- Colored (people of mixed race descent), white, black, and Indian.

Group Areas Act: racially segregates cities and towns.

Internal Security Act: introduces ``banning'' -- severe restriction of individual's personal freedom to travel, speak, work. At worst banning amounts to house arrest. 1952 Black Abolition of Passes and Coordination of Documents Act: renames passes as ``reference books''. All African men and women over age 16 required to be fin- gerprinted and furnished with reference book containing individual's identity card and employment information. 1953 Bantu Education Act: allows for governmental control of black education; weakens mission schools, previously a major source of quality black education. 1956 The Riotous Assemblies Act: with 1974 amendment, allows for control of meetings, public or private, of two or more persons. 1950s-1960s Homelands policy: sometimes called ``grand apartheid''. It involves moving blackAfricans not needed as labor in urban areas and often by force, into a tribal homeland where they can exercise self-rule. Blacks are assigned citizenship in a homeland. When that homeland is designated independent all blacks connected with it lose South African citizenship.

Homelands policy sets aside 13 percent of the land for blacks who constitute 70 percent of the population. 1959 Extension of University Education Act: restricts universities which may enroll blacks. 1960 The Unlawful Organizations Act: allows supression of organizations that espouse policies deemed harmful to the state.

African National Congress and the Pan-Africanist Congress, two black political groups, are banned. 1961 Nation removes itself from British Commonwealth because of mounting criticism of its racial policies. 1963-1976 Various acts allow arrested individuals to be held for specified periods up to indefinite detention. 1964 Nelson Mandela, African National Congress president, jailed for life. 1967 The Terrorism Act: gives government wide powers of arrest and detention in cases of acts against the state. 1968 The Prohibition of Political Interference Act: bans multiracial politics. 1976 The Soweto uprising, sparked by education issues, leaves 575 dead.

Transkei is first homeland to be designated independent. No one else recognizes new ``nation''. 1977 Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko dies in police custody. 1979 Black trade unions given legal status. 1983 New Constitution adopted. It establishes tricameral Parliament for whites, Coloreds, Indians, but not blacks. Parliament had been only for whites. 1985 Mixed Marriages Act repealed. Section of Immorality Act barring sexual relations between individuals of different races scrapped.

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Government scraps Colored labor preference area in western part of Cape Province. Previously Coloreds were hired first over blacks; blacks can now compete more fairly for jobs. Government promises freehold property rights to blacks who now have 99-year leaseholds.

Government accepts in principle that urban blacks are permanent feature of South Africa. Many racial restrictions in the social and sporting spheres have been lifted.

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