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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

The economic boycott

After the conference, the leaders set about preparing lists of products of Nationalist-controlled firms which would be boycotted as from 26 June-"Freedom Day".17 This caused considerable concern amongst certain firms who suspected or were told that their names were being considered for inclusion. One of these was the Langeberg Co-Operative Ltd., one of the largest canning firms in the Union with extensive membership amongst Western Province farmers. The directors wrote to the A.N.C. denying that the firm was Nationalist-controlled. The political views of members were irrelevant, they said, and no member of the Board was a Member of Parliament. It was reported18 that after the Co-Operative had agreed to make certain concessions to its Non-White staff, for example in regard to the recognition of their trade unions, its name was removed from the A.N.C.'s list.

At a subsequent conference held in Johannesburg on 30 May, the A.N.C. decided upon an immediate ban on buying potatoes as a protest against the alleged illtreatment of African workers on certain farms19 For a time this boycott was comparatively effective-stocks of potatoes piled up in the markets. It began to break down towards the middle of August, and soon afterwards was called off.

Preliminary lists of four concerns and 24 brands of goods to be boycotted were circulated early in June, each A.N.C. branch accepting individual responsibility for instituting the boycott. This was to prevent the firms concerned from obtaining a Supreme Court interdict restraining the A.N.C. from distributing the lists, as had been done during 1957 by the manufacturers of certain brands of cigarettes and tobacco which the Congress group then decided to boycott.

The A.N.C. called upon its members to observe June 26 as a day of self-denial, and to commence the boycott on that day.

Unknown persons attempted to confuse the Africans by distributing duplicated leaflets carrying the imprint "Issued by the A.N.C." which called upon the people to cease buying mealies, mcalic-mcal, flour, biscuits, meat and beans as well as potatoes. The A.N.C. condemned this as a dishonest hoax. At the same time a rumour was widely spread that the A.N.C. was planning violence against the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers: on behalf of the A.N.C., Mr. Alfred Nzo denied this categorically.

At a national conference held during July, the A.N.C. Women's League, in sympathy with the African women of Durban, called upon the men to cease patronizing municipal bccrhalls20

No information about the effects of the economic boycott has been made public.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.