Was Apartheid anything more than a policy of separate development? Explain your answer with reference to economic, political and social issues

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 Was Apartheid anything more than a policy of separate development? Explain your answer with reference to economic, political and social issues.

The basic definition of Apartheid is ‘separateness’. As will be shown below through a discussion on economic, political and social issues, separate development was the principal aim of Apartheid. However underlying this aim was a fear by the minority white population of black domination. (L5: conceptual awareness)  This found expression in the 1948 National Party election slogan, ‘the black fear’ or ‘swart gevaar’. This ‘fear’ will be seen to influence the policies and laws implemented during the years 1948-1960 (only 12 years covered: not to 1994 where evidence against separate development is found.) which impacted on the economic, political and social aspects of South African life. (L1:features of apartheid)

Although Apartheid as a policy came into existence in 1948 when the National Party (NP) won the election, the white South African minority government had been following a policy of separate development from the days of Cecil John Rhodes, mining magnate and one-time Prime Minister (PM) of the Cape Colony , who died in 1902. (L5: wider context of apartheid) The original idea behind separate development had been to assist the white mine owners increase their profits by housing their black workers on the premises where they could control their social activities more carefully. (L3: understanding of economic policy) Jan Smuts, Deputy Prime Minister 1910-1919 and PM 1919-1924, 1939-1945, explained that he saw separate development as necessary to allow each culture to develop at its own pace, but all would come together to assist the economic development of the country as a whole for all. (L3: social, cultural) This was obviously an ideal, but as the cultures had already started to mix, it would be very difficult to implement and turn the clock back. Nevertheless before 1948 Acts such as the Native Land Act 1913 and Native (Urban Areas) Act 1923 were introduced by the Botha and Smuts governments to separate the population by insisting that blacks move into specially allocated areas or reserves. (L1/2 features of apartheid) These areas were often too small for the number of people they had to hold and were to later form the basis of Verwoed’s ‘Homelands’. An underlying economic reason for moving blacks into these areas had been to try and ease the life of the ‘bywoner’ or ‘poor white farmer’ who often resided on a relative’s farm as farmhand or manager. (L3: economic)

DF Malan became PM in 1948 and it was under his initial leadership and later that of JG Strijdom and Hendrik Verwoed that the policy of separate development reached its peak in all aspects of life – economic, political and social. Malan’s early actions revolved around social segregation and in this regard he included the Cape Coloureds who, until 1948, he had supported because of their white blood. (start of L4: psychology of architects) In 1949 Malan’s government passed the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act which made marriage between two people of different races illegal. The reason behind this act was to preserve and safeguard the white population which would allow them to form a national identity. (L4) To ensure that this Act was upheld, other Acts had to be introduced which categorised people into the various races. (L3: detailed understanding of policy) The Registration of Population Act 1950 was just such an Act which allocated the population to various races based on their appearance, assisted by amongst others the ‘pencil’ and ‘shoulder’ tests, and general acceptance. Another way to maintain the social segregation and ‘safeguard’ the white population was the introduction of the Education Act 1953. (L1/2) This Act was introduced by Verwoed who was Minister of Native Affairs under Malan. Its purpose, as expressed in the Eiselen Report 1951, was to remove the education of blacks from the missionaries who were believed to be destroying black culture by westernising them. The role of black education as seen by Verwoed, was to prepare the black man for his role in society. (L4: psychology of architect)

Other acts introduced to maintain this ‘social apartheid’ included the Separate Amenities Act 1953 which gave each community its own facilities such as beaches, train carriages, shop entrances and parks. This act followed on from the Group Areas Act of 1950 which assigned each race to its own area within urban areas. (L1/2) On its passing through Parliament, TE Donges, a Cabinet Minister, noted ‘It is the price we have to pay in order to achieve certainty as to the future environment of our homes and places of business.’ He later continued that ‘it is the sacrifice we will have to make in order to bring about conditions most favourable for inter-racial harmony.’ As seen by these two statements the idea of preserving and safeguarding the white minority race through segregation was again the main idea. However, the NP in implementing these laws always found a way to express the reasons in such a way as to show how it would benefit those who were not white. (L4)

The social apartheid Acts which had been introduced were also a means to support the economic acts introduced. (L3) The purpose behind Acts such as the Industrial Conciliation Act 1956 was to reserve or protect jobs for whites. It was felt necessary to reserve certain jobs for whites only in an attempt to resolve the poor white problem which had been steadily growing as more and more whites failed as farmers. The Act mainly affected the mines where more skilled jobs were kept for whites. Other implications of the Act were that all black lift attendants in Johannesburg lost their jobs and blacks were no longer allowed to hire themselves out as builders, plasterers or painters in white areas. This Act was a step on from the Group Areas Act 1950 and various other acts introduced before 1948 which limited businesses owned by people of colour to specific areas. This had been done to prevent competition, particularly between white and Indian businesses where Indian businessmen were more successful than whites. (L4)

The final aspect of Apartheid or separateness were the political Acts which were introduced. When the Union of South Africa had been formed in 1910, blacks, Cape Coloureds and Indians were denied the vote in all the provinces except for the Cape where there was a ‘qualified’ vote. This meant that providing a person met certain qualifications they could vote regardless of race. In 1936 when JBM Hertzog was PM, blacks were removed from the Cape voters roll. Coloureds however, still had the vote. To remove them from the Common voters roll a 2/3 Parliamentary majority had to be obtained. It was in 1956 under JG Strijdom that the 2/3 majority was eventually obtained to remove the Coloureds’ voting rights. The 1956 Act which was backdated to 1951 had been wrangled through Parliament as a result of Strijdom increasing the Senate as well as the number of Supreme Court judges to ensure the bill was passed. With the Separate Representation of Voters Act 1951 having been passed in 1956, whites had been totally segregated from the other races within South Africa by law; whites now had complete say in the running of their country. (L4)

The above discussion shows that South Africa followed a policy of separate development in the social, economic and political arenas. The underlying reasons for this policy were to protect and safeguard the small white population from the large black population which included Indians and Coloureds. (L4) With all the above laws that were implemented, arguments and reasons were put forward to show how the various races in South Africa would benefit from being denied rights they previously had enjoyed. (L3)

By 1959 South Africa’s reputation internationally was suffering because of the policy of Apartheid. To change this perception, Verwoed announced that South Africa would now be following a policy of Self-determination and freedom. The previous policy which he described as ‘baasskap’ or ‘white supremacy’ was to be abandoned. To this end, Verwoed retained all previous laws introduced under Apartheid, many of which he had personally orchestrated and introduced the Bantustans. He justified its implementation as follows: ‘This is not what we would have liked to see. It is a form of fragmentation which we would not have liked if we were able to avoid it. (L4) In the light of the pressure being exerted on South Africa, there is no doubt that eventually this will have to be done, thereby buying for the white man his freedom and the right to retain domination in what is his own country.’ What Verwoed did here, was in effect lay the blame for separate development or ‘Grand Apartheid’ at the door of the international community by implying that white South Africans had been happy to work together with the other races, but now all races would have to have their own areas where they could be free to do what they wanted. People of other races entering into the separate areas would be subject to laws which protected the rights of those to whom the territory belonged, for example whites were not allowed to own businesses in Bantustan areas. Here again it can be seen that Apartheid or separation was being continued which still protected and safeguarded the white man. (L4)

In response to the question ‘Was Apartheid anything more than a policy of separate development?’ one would have to answer ‘yes, Apartheid was more than separate development.’ This is because the underlying reason for the separate development was to protect the white, ensuring he had the best of everything in terms of work, land and opportunities and that his race would be preserved in southern-most tip of Africa.


Essay can only get Level 3 (15/20) because it discusses only part of the time. Despite covering Level 4, it cannot reach that level because it limits the years covered.

From the standard mark scheme to achieve Level 4, this essay needed:

  • a selection of wide range or precisely selected material - partly met

  • explicit understanding of demands of question - met  [making links at the end of paragraphs is a good way to ensure you meet this criteria]

  • provides a consistently analytical approach - met

  • judgement will be explicit - met - but may be limited - yes, due to years covered.

To get Level 5, this essay would need to -

  • put in context of Afrikaner history. The essay to do this but needed more especially regarding the English-Afrikaaner split.

  • show appropriate conceptual awareness - partly met due to limited years discussed

  • offer independent and effectively sustained judgement - partly met due to limited years discussed

  • appropriate to full demands of question - partly met due to limited years discussed

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