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Essay about South Africa Under Apartheid: A Totalitarian State

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During the Apartheid Era, there emerged from South Africa cases of gross human rights abuse, racism, police brutality and general mistreatment of the non-white population. Excluding the fact that South Africa was never ruled by a dictator, it can be argued that some of these features were totalitarian and that South Africa was, to a certain extent, a totalitarian state under Apartheid. This discussion will analyse the totalitarian features that were apparent during Apartheid, and will be structured in the format of the characteristics of a totalitarian state1. Political, economic and social spheres will be dealt with, with the main focus being on racial purity, a “reign of terror” and education.

A totalitarian state involves many spheres being partly or wholly controlled by the state, and, often, the manipulation of the population to benefit the state. In South Africa, this was apparent for the non-white population – the state controlled and often manipulated them with various pieces of Apartheid legislation.

In the political sphere, South Africa could be seen to a certain extent as a totalitarian one-party state, as the Afrikaans National Party (NP) maintained power throughout Apartheid. Opposition parties (such as the ANC, PAC, SACP, and UDF in 1988) were banned according to the “Unlawful Organisations Act No 34 of 1960;”2 and in 1956, the “Separate Representation of Voters Amendment Act3” removed the right to vote from coloureds (blacks already had no voting rights), leaving only whites allowed to vote and therefore removing opposition.

Membership of the South African government could be regarded as “elite” (a totalitarian feature) as the government was predominantly Afrikaans with few English-speaking people and no...


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...show.php?include=docs/shopsteward/1995/ss0406-12.html. Accessed 3 April 2011
9. “Stephen Bantu Biko.” Taken from the SA History website: http://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/people/bios/biko-s.htm Accessed 3 April 2011
10. “Casspir Mk III.” Taken from the Army Guide website: http://www.army-guide.com/eng/product.php?prodID=4310&printmode=1 . Accessed 3 April 2011.
11. “Cosatu Ban: State Hopes to Smash Apartheid Resistance.” Taken from the DISA website: http://www.disa.ukzn.ac.za/index.php?option=com_displaydc&recordID=CoMay88.1727.0588.000.001.May1988.18 Accessed 3 April 2011.
12. Extract from a textbook, History for Standard 6–10 (Joubert and Britz 1975), popularly used during the Apartheid era in schools. Taken from a 2008 publication on Apartheid by Alta Engelbrecht - http://info.worldbank.org/etools/docs/library/232527/engelbrecht.pdf. Accessed 30th March 2011


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