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In 1993 all apartheid laws were brought to an end, and in 1994 the first all-inclusive democratic election took place, seeing a true end to white minority rule. There were many factors responsible for this, including international pressure. In 1962 sanctions were recommended by the UN. However, South Africa possessed many natural resources which were needed by the international community, such as gold and manganese. This meant that leading countries such as France and the US were unwilling to support sanctions as they would be detrimental to their economic stability.

Token sanctions were introduced on exports, but ultimately South Africa was rich enough to ignore them and the 1962 recommendation was largely disregarded. In the 1980’s things reached a head with gang warfare, international condemnation and a rapidly declining economy. This was the result of growing unrest amongst South Africans. In 1985 Oliver Tambo, leader of the ANC, made a broadcast ordering members to make the black townships ungovernable. Things became so bad President Botha declared a state of emergency, greatly increasing the police’s powers. Rioting was rife, and the violence was broadcast all over the world.

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For the first time ordinary people overseas could see the full extent of black oppression. In response to the violence, people began to demand sanctions, and overseas investments began to withdraw. Those which did not withdraw voluntarily were boycotted until they were forced to do so. Famous examples included Pepsi, IBM and Barclays’ Bank. Both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan tried to sway the general will against sanctions on the grounds that the ANC was a communist organisation, and to promote the spread of communism would be as bad as encouraging oppression.

But despite opposition, both the US congress and the common market introduced restrictions regarding South Africa in 1986. Internal opposition to apartheid welcomed the sanctions, and had been calling for them for some time. When archbishop of Capetown Desmond Tutu was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, he said in his acceptance speech, “I call upon the international community to apply punitive sanctions to this {the South African} government”. The Rand, the South African currency, dropped alarmingly in value and a major crisis was only averted by a secret deal put together by international bankers.

Apartheid was suffering economically because it worked on the principle that the majority of the population could be educated only to a minimal level and do unskilled, menial jobs. This was just not feasible in a technological age, and this realisation led to a relaxation of apartheid laws concerning education and employment. White business leaders, conscious of the steps needed to preserve their This relaxation of laws showed that apartheid was beginning to fail.

In 1985 President Botha made his famous ‘Rubicon’ speech, promising change to the regime. It was an acknowledgement of the need to reform apartheid to bring harmony to South Africa. Some of this promised change was realised in 1986 when the passbook laws were abolished. In 1989 Botha met with Mandela. This was important because it showed the apartheid state recognised the need to work together to solve the problems in South Africa. Another form of international pressure that took place was sporting sanctions.

In 1968 Basil d’Oliveira, a south-African born cricketer for the England cricket team, was refused entry into South Africa. This sparked a wave of protest, which led to a British boycott of South African cricket teams. Other countries followed Britain’s example, and South Africa found itself banned from the Olympic games, international cricket and international rugby. Although sporting sanctions could not do any real harm to the economy, south Africans were sport-mad and the international isolation imposed on them was seen as the fault of the Apartheid State.

This made apartheid unpopular and support began to wane. Without the support of the white population, Apartheid could not sustain itself. Therefore sporting sanctions contributed to the end of white minority rule. Sanction were not the only factor which contributed to bringing apartheid to an end. The resistance of the people would have ended the regime one way or another, but without their instigation South Africa’s future may well have been resolved differently.

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