The Recent resumption of popular protest signals a new phase in South Africa's internal opposition, characterised notably by the rising political engagement of black labour unions and their federations. Membership in these unions has reached over a million workers, reflecting the dramatic expansion of South Africa's industrial manufacturing sector in the last 20 years. With severe restrictions placed on the leading national and local political organisations since 1985, the unions have developed beyond their initially narrow concerns for their members into the forefront of opposition to established economic and political order. As a result, class consciousness and working-class organisation have increasingly been combined with, and taken precedence over, previous conceptions of opposition based on racial and national identity. This development has exacerbated both remaining ideological divisions and pressures for united action within the union movement.
* Visiting Research Fellow at the Community Agency for Social Enquiry, Johannesburg. Address in the United States: 25 Indian Road, New York, N.Y. 10034. The interview material in this article has been drawn from Anthony W. Marx, ‘The Lessons of Struggle: South African internal opposition, 1969 to 1988’, Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Politics, Princeton University, New Jersey, 1990, and the author wishes to acknowledge generous financial support from the Center for International Studies of Princeton University and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.