South Africa Repeals Major Apartheid Law : Reform: The Separate Amenities Act was used to segregate facilities ranging from restaurants to libraries.
Parliament on Tuesday repealed a major apartheid law used for decades to segregate South Africa’s public facilities ranging from restaurants to libraries to buses.
The repeal of the Separate Amenities Act was the latest in a series of reforms by President Frederik W. de Klerk since he came to power last year. The changes have angered conservative whites, who oppose the idea of sharing power with the black majority.
The Separate Amenities Act was passed in 1953 and gave governments and privately owned enterprises the right to reserve facilities such as parks, hotels, swimming pools, toilets and recreation centers for whites only.
Tony Leon, an anti-apartheid member of Parliament who voted to scrap the measure, said 37 years of segregated facilities have given the country a “disfigured human landscape.”
Jan Hoon of the pro-apartheid Conservative Party opposed repeal of the measure, saying it is another step down the road to black rule.
In major cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, public facilities have been integrated for years. But in hundreds of smaller towns and villages, there have been no public facilities for blacks or vastly inferior segregated ones.
The Separate Amenities Act does not affect neighborhoods and schools, the main institutions still segregated under the government’s apartheid laws.
In Parliament in Cape Town, De Klerk’s ruling National Party and the anti-apartheid Democratic Party outvoted the Conservative Party to scrap the law, 105 to 38. The mixed-race and Indian chambers of Parliament voted unanimously for repeal. The country’s 28 million blacks have no voice in national affairs.
De Klerk promised in February to scrap the Separate Amenities Act. He says he wants to end racial discrimination and negotiate a new constitution that will bring blacks into the national government.
However, he opposes a one-man, one-vote, majority-rule system, saying it would replace white domination with black domination. The president envisions a mechanism that would give whites veto power on major policy decisions.
De Klerk has promised that next year the government will amend the Group Areas Act that segregates neighborhoods by race. He opposes full repeal of the measure and appears to favor a system that would allow some neighborhoods to be integrated and others to remain segregated.
The government has given no indication that it plans to integrate public schools, although many private schools are multiracial.
Since taking office in September, De Klerk has legalized dozens of black opposition groups, permitted peaceful protests, freed scores of political prisoners, suspended the death penalty and ended segregation on beaches and in hospitals.
Meanwhile, police offered a $19,000 reward Tuesday for the arrest of a right-wing leader who released a videotape in which he declared war on the government and vowed to overthrow De Klerk.
Piet Rudolph, deputy leader of the extreme right-wing Boer State Party, was sought by police in connection with a 20-minute videotape mailed to a radio station and a newspaper in Johannesburg.
“There is no time to plan a counterrevolution. It is now open war,” Rudolph said in the videotape, in which he was surrounded by four masked men armed with machine guns. “We will use every means at our disposal to fight the De Klerk government, the overthrow of which is the highest priority to us.”
President Frederik W. de Klerk, committed to the dismantling of apartheid, has promised to amend next year the Group Areas Act that segregates neighborhoods by race. He appears to favor a system that would allow some neighborhoods to be integrated and others to remain segregated. Talks between the government and anti-apartheid leaders will deal with this question as well as segregated schools, laws reserving most land for whites, official classification of people by race and the lack of a voice for blacks in national affairs.
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