International opposition to apartheid led to sanctions against South Africa. In 1963 the United Nations and many African countries imposed sanctions. An arms embargo was also imposed on South Africa. This had little impact on the country’s economy.

Public calls in Europe and the United States for disinvestments in South Africa, after the Soweto uprising in 1976, led to the withdrawal of a number of private companies by the early 1980s. The Commonwealth imposed some sanctions in 1985 after P. W. Botha, in his ‘Rubicon’ address, had refused to make meaningful political reforms. However, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was opposed to sanctions, and those imposed by the Commonwealth were relatively ineffective. Sanctions imposed by the United States, including a ban on investment in South Africa and the stopping of air flights, were more severe, and the rand fell sharply in value.

The external resistance movements, such as the African National Congress (ANC) and *Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), supported sanctions, as did the United Democratic Front (UDF) within the country. Mangosutho Buthelezi and the Inkatha Freedom Party, on the other hand, gained much support from the local business community by their claims that sanctions caused unemployment and hurt blacks in South Africa as much, or more, than whites.

All sanctions against South Africa were lifted during the transitional phase towards democracy between 1990 and 1994.

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