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names

South West Africa People's Organisation

  • C0055
  • Corporate body
  • 1960 - present

The South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO) was founded in Windhoek, South West Africa (presently Namibia) on 19 April 1960 by Herman Toivo ja Toivo. The party was originally formed to advocated immediate Namibian independence from South Africa and became the country’s leading party following independence in 1990.

The SWA territory was entrusted by the League of Nations to South Africa under an administrative mandate after the First World War. After the Second World War, South Africa extended its apartheid policies to this territory and became a military occupier. After South Africa refused a United Nations order to withdraw from the trust territory in 1966, SWAPO turned to armed struggle.

SWAPO emerged as the sole liberation movement in the early 1960s because it had the support of the Ovambo, the largest ethnic group in Namibia. More a military organisation than a political one, SWAPO launched military operations against the South African government’s military positions. On 26 August 1966 the first major clash of the conflict took place, when a unit of the South African Police, supported by South African Air Force, exchanged fire with SWAPO forces. This date is generally regarded as the start of what became known in South Africa as the Border War.

Initially SWAPO suffered heavy losses against the South African Army but later SWAPO was backed by the Angolan ruling party, Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, the Soviet Union, the Norwegian government and the African National Congress. SWAPO used Angola as a base for guerrilla warfare on Namibian soil; operations were carried out by SWAPO’s guerrilla force, the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN). Beginning in 1978 South Africa made periodic retaliatory land and air strikes into Angola. Herman Toivo ja Toivo, the founder of SWAPO, was imprisoned in South Africa for a 20-year term in 1968 but was released in 1984. Nujoma returned to Namibia in September 1989.

In 1978 the UN recognized SWAPO as the sole representative of the people of Namibia. Both SWAPO and South Africa agreed to a UN plan for a cease-fire, withdrawal of South African troops, and free elections to be guaranteed by UN security forces. After years of diplomatic maneuvering, South Africa finally accepted a UN resolution to that effect in December 1988. Sporadic fighting continued. In 1989 Nujoma was elected president and SWAPO won a majority of the delegates selected by the country’s voters to write a constitution for an independent Namibia. The following year a new constitution was adopted and Nujoma took office and in the same year South Africa completely withdrew unconditionally from Namibia.

SWAPO continued to dominate the political scene into the 21st century, transforming itself from a liberation movement into a governing party. SWAPO won the first and second election five years later.

Committee for Freedom Mozambique, Angola, Guine

  • C0060
  • Corporate body
  • 1968-1975

The UK Committee for Freedom in Mozambique was formed in 1968 at the request of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), which had launched an armed national liberation struggle against Portuguese colonial rule in 1964. It expanded a year later to cover Angola and Guine-Bissau, where armed struggle was also under way, renaming itself as the Committee for Freedom in Mozambique, Angola and Guine (CFMAG).

CFMAG operated as a campaigning pressure group, aiming to build broad based political support for FRELIMO, the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the African Independence Party of Guine-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC). It worked with all political parties, the labour and student movements, churches, NGOs and many others. It had close relations with the Anti-Apartheid Movement, and encouraged a regional perspective for the future of Southern Africa. It organised visits by liberation movement representatives and various specific political and material aid campaigns, culminating in the End the Alliance Campaign of 1972/3.

Following the 25 April coup in Portugal in 1974 and the subsequent negotiations between the new Portuguese government and the liberation movements, the right of the colonies to full and immediate independence was acknowledged. CFMAG organised a victory party at St Pancras Town Hall on 25 June 1975, Mozambique's Independence Day, and closed down, its objectives achieved.

During the following phase the Mozambique, Angola & Guine Information Centre (MAGIC) was established with support from the independent governments to carry out educational and information work. Political solidarity work continued through first the Angola Solidarity Committeee and then the Mozambique-Angola Committee, with particular emphasis on supporting MPLA during its second war of liberation against the South African army.

Scottish Immigrant Labour Council

  • C0061
  • Corporate body

The Scottish Immigrant Labour Council worked with the Indian Workers Association, Pakistan Social and Cultural Society, shop stewards committees and Labour and Communist Party branches to challenge racist and fascist ideas and to build links between black and ethnic minority communities and the trade union and labour movement. They carried out campaigning against the growing trend of restrictive and racist immigration legislation, supported the struggles of Asian workers in Loughborough, Bradford and Grunwick and held International nights to celebrate the diversity of working class cultures.

International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa

  • C0062
  • Corporate body
  • 1960-1990

The International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa (IDAF) was an anti-apartheid organization that smuggled £100 million into South Africa for the defense of thousands of political activists and to provide aid for their families while they were in prison.

IDAF grew out of Christian Action (CA), an organization set up by John Collins aimed at relating Christianity to economic, social and political life, and that worked towards reconciliation with Germany and help for the starving people of Europe. In 1948 Collins was appointed Canon of St Paul's Cathedral in London. CA raised money raised money for the families and dependents of those sent to prison during the Defiance Campaign. In 1954 John went to South Africa where he saw apartheid and its effects for himself, and met activists and leaders in the liberation movements. In 1956, when 156 activists were arrested and charged with High Treason, Canon Collins sent £100 to Ambrose Reeves, Bishop of Johannesburg, asking him to brief the best available defense lawyers and pledging CA to raise the funds to pay legal expenses and care for the families of the Treason Trialists. Reeves, foreseeing further repression, suggested widening CA's terms of reference and so the British Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa (as it was originally called) was born. As repression in South Africa increased, Defence and Aid responded to ever more pressing political and legal defense needs.

The organization grew and began to receive international recognition and support, mainly from the Scandinavian countries and the United Nations. Several countries formed aid committees. IDAF went international in 1965, with branches in Britain, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Holland and India. On March 18, 1966, the then Mister of Justice Johannes Vorster banned the South African Defence and Aid Committee as an 'unlawful organization' under the Suppression of Communism Act but IDAF continued to send aid through secret channels. Over a period of 25 years, £100 million was smuggled into South Africa. The organization also had an extensive research and publication operation. Canon Collins died in 1982 and Horst Kleinschmidt was named Director of IDAF that same year, a position he held until the organization closed.

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