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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
90PRETORIA2455
1990-02-09 16:01:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Pretoria
Cable title:  

THE BEAT GOES ON: MASS PROTEST ACTIONS PROLIFERATE

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  SF 
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P 091601Z FEB 90
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8874
INFO AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN
AMCONSUL DURBAN
AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG
AMEMBASSY LUSAKA
AMEMBASSY HARARE
AMEMBASSY LONDON
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 02455 

CAPE TOWN ALSO FOR EMBASSY

E.O. 12356: DECL:OADR
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SF
SUBJECT: THE BEAT GOES ON: MASS PROTEST ACTIONS PROLIFERATE

REF: (A) PRETORIA 1985, (B) JOHANNESBURG 156,
(C) PRETORIA 1310, (D) PRETORIA 1311

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 02455

CAPE TOWN ALSO FOR EMBASSY

E.O. 12356: DECL:OADR
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SF
SUBJECT: THE BEAT GOES ON: MASS PROTEST ACTIONS PROLIFERATE

REF: (A) PRETORIA 1985, (B) JOHANNESBURG 156,
(C) PRETORIA 1310, (D) PRETORIA 1311


1. (C) - ENTIRE TEXT

--------------
SUMMARY
--------------


2. THE LEVEL OF PROTEST ACTION CONTINUES TO RISE IN THE
WAKE OF PRESIDENT DE KLERK'S FEBRUARY 2 PARLIAMENTARY
SPEECH. A GROWING NUMBER OF BLACK COMMUNITIES HAVE
ORGANIZED RALLIES AROUND LOCAL ISSUES, WHILE THE REBEL
CRICKET TOUR AND THE UNBANNING OF ORGANIZATIONS HAVE
PROVIDE A NEW FOCUS OF ACTIVITY. MOST DEMONSTRATIONS
CARRY A PALPABLE RISK OF CONFRONTATION AND VIOLENCE
BETWEEN POLICE AND PROTESTERS, OR BETWEEN PARTICIPATING
ANTI-APARTHEID FACTIONS. THIS TENSION PREVAILS AT THE
VERY TIME PRETORIA IS UNDER PRESSURE TO RELEASE MANDELA
(SURE TO ROCKET BLACK ENTHUSIASM) AND REMOVE THE STATE OF
EMERGENCY IN FULL.

END SUMMARY


3. IN THE PRETORIA-JOHANNESBURG AREA ALONE, AT LEAST 5
RALLIES TOOK PLACE WITHIN THE PAST WEEK. THIS DOES NOT
COUNT THE PROTEST ACTIONS SURROUNDING THE REBEL BRITISH
CRICKET TOUR WHICH IS ATTRACTING ALMOST DAILY PROTESTS.

--------------
ALEXANDRA
--------------


4. IN PERHAPS THE LARGEST EVER DEMONSTRATION IN ALEXANDRA
(NORTHERN JOHANNESBURG), AN ESTIMATED 50,000 RESIDENTS LED
BY THE ALEXANDRA CIVIC ORGANIZATION MARCHED ON FEBRUARY 3
FROM THE LOCAL STADIUM TO THE CITY COUNCIL OFFICES AND THE
POLICE STATION TO PRESENT PETITIONS. EVEN BEFORE WINNIE
MANDELA APPEARED ON THE SCENE, THE DEMONSTRATION HAD
BECOME VOCIFEROUSLY AN ANC UNBANNING CELEBRATION. THE
POLICE MAINTAINED A LOW PROFILE.

--------------
ATTERIDGEVILLE
--------------


5. THE ATTERIDGEVILLE-SAULSVILLE RESIDENTS ORGANIZATION
(ASRO) SPONSORED AND DIRECTED A SIMILAR EXERCISE IN MASS
MOBILIZATION THE NEXT DAY (FEBRUARY 4) OUTSIDE PRETORIA.
SOME 60-80,000 RESIDENTS JOINED THE MARCH TO LOCAL
GOVERNMENT OFFICES WHERE A PETITION WAS DELIVERED GIVING
THE CITY COUNCILLORS ONE MONTH TO ADDRESS A MYRIAD OF
TOWNSHIP GRIEVANCES (RENT INCREASES, EVICTIONS,
MISAPPROPRIATION OF FUNDS, ETC.).


6. AGAIN, ANC SYMPATHIZERS DOMINATED THE GATHERING; ONLY
ANC, SACP, UDF, COSATU, AND SWAPO BANNERS WERE IN
EVIDENCE. PARTICIPANTS WHO APPEARED WITH T-SHIRTS BEARING

AZAPO (BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS) OR PAM/PAC (AFRICANIST) LOGOS
WERE SUMMARILY TOLD TO REVERSE THE SHIRT OR GO HOME.


7. POLICE AT TIMES SEEMED TO BE TRYING TO PROVOKE A
CONFLICT AS THEIR VEHICLES SPED RECKLESSLY THROUGH THE
THRONGS OF PROTESTERS FOR NO APPARENT REASON. THE PEOPLE,
WHO HAD BEEN WARNED AGAINST SUCH PROVOCATIONS BY COMMUNITY
LEADERS RETREATED TO NEARBY YARDS TO AVOID INJURY.

--------------
TEMBISA
--------------


8. VIOLENCE ERUPTED IN TEMBISA (OUTSIDE JOHANNESBURG)
DURING A FEBRUARY 5 PROTEST CALLED BY LOCAL MASS
DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT LEADERS. A PETITION DELIVERED TO
LOCAL AUTHORITIES CALLED FOR AN END TO THE STATE OF
EMERGENCY AND RESTRICTION ORDERS ON 20 TEMBISA ACTIVISTS,
LOWER RENTAL RATES, AND THE RESIGNATION OF THREE SECONDARY
SCHOOL PRINCIPALS. APPARENTLY, YOUNG DEMONSTRATORS
ATTACKED NON-PARTICIPANTS IN THE ANNOUNCED STAYAWAY, WHICH
BROUGHT RETALIATORY POLICE ACTION. SEVEN PEOPLE WERE
SERIOUSLY INJURED BY POLICE TEARGAS CANISTERS AND
BIRDSHOT.

--------------
GARANKUWA
--------------


9. ABOUT 70,000 PEOPLE ON FEBRUARY 7 MARCHED TO LOCAL
GOVERNMENT OFFICES IN GARANKUWA, SOME 30 MILES NORTHWEST
OF PRETORIA INSIDE BOPHUTHATSWANA. THE PETITION LODGED BY
COMMUNITY LEADERS FOCUSED AGAIN ON LOCAL GRIEVANCES (E.G.,
HIGH RENT AND SERVICES BILLS), BUT ALSO CALLED FOR THE
RESIGNATION OF BOPHUTHATSWANA PRESIDENT MANGOPE'S
GOVERNMENT AND THE REINCORPORATION OF THE "INDEPENDENT"
HOMELAND INTO SOUTH AFRICA.


10. AGAIN, CHARTERIST-ORIENTED GROUPS PROVIDED THE BULK
OF MARCHERS, THOUGH A FEW STEVE BIKO (BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS)
POSTERS COULD BE SEEN HELD HIGH. THE BOPHUTHATSWANA
POLICE, TOO, WERE PLAYING A FAMILIAR ROLE, TRYING
(UNSUCCESSFULLY) TO SEAL OFF THE PROTEST ROUTE. IN
FRUSTRATION NEAR THE END OF A LONG DAY, SEVERAL GROUPS OF
POLICE FIRED TEAR GAS AND BIRDSHOT INTO THE DISPERSING
CROWD, HARMING AT LEAST A DOZEN PEOPLE. AT ANOTHER POINT
A POLICE VEHICLE SPED INTO A GROUP KILLING ONE PERSON, AND
SERIOUSLY INJURING SEVERAL OTHERS. DESPITE THESE POLICE
ACTIONS, THE DEMONSTRATION REMAINED GENERALLY PEACEFUL.

--------------
SOWETO CELEBRATION OF ANC UNBANNING
--------------


11. EMBASSY HAS BEEN INVITED TO ATTEND THE UDF-AFFILIATED
SOUTH AFRICAN YOUTH CONGRESS (SAYCO) RALLY IN SOWETO ON
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11 TO CELEBRATE THE ANC'S UNBANNING. WE
SUSPECT OTHER LOCATIONS WILL HAVE SIMILAR RALLIES IN THE
DAYS AHEAD, BUILDING TO A CRESCENDO FOR MANDELA'S RELEASE.

--------------
COMMENT: STEADY AS SHE GOES
--------------


12. THE TOWNSHIP MOBILIZATION TACTICS ADOPTED BY THE
CHARTERIST-LED OPPOSITION ARE DESIGNED TO MAINTAIN
PRESSURE ON THE SAG IN THIS PERIOD OF NASCENT DIALOGUE.
THESE ACTIONS HOLD SIGNIFICANT RISKS FOR VIOLENT
CONFRONTATION EITHER WITH THE AUTHORITIES OR, CONCEIVABLY,
WITHIN THE RANKS OF THE ANTI-APARTHEID MOVEMENT. SUCH A
VIOLENT OUTBREAK, DEPENDING ON ITS SCALE, COULD DELAY THE
SAG'S TIMETABLE FOR TAKING ADDITIONAL STEPS TOWARD
NEGOTIATION, LIKE THE RELEASE OF MANDELA AND THE LIFTING
OF THE STATE OF EMERGENCY. YET, THESE MAY BE THE VERY
MEASURES REQUIRED TO GET "TALKS ABOUT TALKS" OFF THE
GROUND. WHILE THE OPPOSITION PONDERS ITS RESPONSE TO DE
KLERK'S BREATH-TAKING PARLIAMENTARY SPEECH (SEPTEL), WE
WONDER IF THE SAG ALSO FEELS THE SQUEEZE. END COMMENT

SWING



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