About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.


A massive strike begins in Durban.

Under a delimitation carried out to take effect at the next elections the number of seats in the House of Assembly is increased from 166 to 171 generally of benefit to the ruling National Party.

Wave of massive strikes in Natal.

Venda and Gazankulu proclaimed a self-governing territories.

Aliens Control Act No 40:

Exempted Indians from the need to obtain permits for travel between provinces. However, in terms of provincial legislation, Indians were not allowed to stay in the Orange Free State and parts of northern Natal for more than a brief period unless prior permission had been obtained (Dugard 1978: 73).

Repealed by s 60 of the Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act No 108 of 1991.

Black Labour Relations Regulation Amendment Act 70:

This Act was passed in response to a wave of strikes in 1972 and 1973 (Bendix 1989: 302) and included a limited right to strike. Previously black workers had been completely prohibited from striking.

Repealed by s 63 of the Labour Relation Amendment Act No 57 of 1981.

Gazankulu proclaimed a self-governing territory.

January - February 1973

Durban was swept by a wave of spontaneous strikes by black workers, which prompted reserved acknowledgment from industry, and attracted worldwide publicity. Though none of the black organisations could claim credit for the strikes, nonetheless they demonstrated the potential for successful industrial action, and set many black radicals into considering the possibility of forming a student-worker alliance.

1 January 1973

Gazankulu: Education Act No 7:

Commenced: 1 January 1974

12 January 1973

A notice providing for compulsory education for Indians is gazetted.

18 January 1973

The Kwazulu government issues a document signed by all six Executive Councillors inviting the South African government to test its consolidation plan for the homeland by holding a referendum among all race groups in Natal and Kwazulu.

19 January 1973

Prime Minister Vorster, confirms that the government has not been Earl consulted over Rhodesia's closure of its border with Zambia, but that the government will assist in opposing terrorism.

23 January 1973

The Prime Minister announces that a first-ever multi-racial commission will investigate the political and socio-economic future of the Coloured community.

24 January 1973

Premier Vorster, decrees that in the future the 'homelands' will be allowed to accept direct foreign financial aid.

25 January 1973

South Africa:Signs a treaty with the Federal Republic of Germany on double taxation.

27 January 1973

Chief Matanzima of the Transkei suggests that a federation between blacks and whites would save South Africa from destruction.

February - April 1973

The government's reaction to the strikes is a revision of wage levels for unskilled workers; training facilities for blacks; an improvement of communication between black labour and employers.

Widespread industrial unrest among black workers is experienced. The underlying cause is identified as the fact that black workers have assumed increasing importance in the country's economy, yet they are denied the right to strike or bargain collectively and their trade union is not officially recognized.

1 February 1973

The government grants internal self-government to two further 'homelands', namely to Venda and Gazankulu territories.

12 February 1973

South Africa:Signs multilateral treaty and operating agreement relating to the Intelsat.

19 February 1973

Unrest among black workers over wage improvement continues. Police arrest 244 African workers, of whom 169 are subsequently charged.

20 February 1973

The Minister of Labour announces instructions to the Wage Board to revise certain determinations applying to unskilled labourers in major centres. Minimum wages rise by over thirty per cent.

21 February 1973

The first general elections to the Ciskei's Legislative Assembly are held in the territory's nine districts. There are no political parties; the candidates are elected to the twenty elective seats in their individual capacity, the remaining thirty seats are filled by Chiefs appointed ex officio.

27 February 1973

The Commission of Inquiry, appointed by the Prime Minister, to investigate the activities of four organizations, among them the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) submits a detailed interim report on NUSAS to the Assembly, recommending action against eight NUSAS leaders. The Commission, under the chairmanship of AL. Schlebush, comprises five other National Party MPs and four opposition United Party MPs. The approval of the report by its four UP members is widely criticized.

On the same day banning orders under the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950 are served on eight NUSAS leaders. On the following day violent student clashes take place in Johannesburg.

March 1973

Early March:The Portuguese Foreign Minister, Dr. Rul Patricio, pays a five-day official visit to South Africa. He declares, on 6 March 1973, that there are no plans for a military alliance between Portugal, South Africa and Rhodesia.

As if to acknowledge that the blacks had won a round in the Durban strikes, the government launched its first major offensive against the BCM (Black Consciousness Movement). The government, which initially had tolerated the movement because it seemed to fit in with 'separate development' ideology, began to clamp down on Black Consciousness: Steve Biko, Barney Pityana, and six other SASO (South African Students' Organisation) and BPC (Black People's Convention) leaders, even those who came forward to take leadership positions were also banned. However, by this time it was apparent that it was too late to stop the spread of the BCM (Black Consciousness Movement); alternatively it produced martyrs for the black cause.

2 March 1973

It is announced in Johannesburg that restriction orders have been issued against six leaders of the South African Students Organization (SASO) and against two men closely associated with the Black People's Convention (BPC).

3 March 1973

South Africa:Signs multilateral treaty on international trade in endangered species of wild flora and fauna.

4 March 1973

In the British House of Commons the Trade and Industry Sub-Committee of the Select Committee on Expenditure proposes an inquiry 'To investigate how far wages and conditions of employment of African workers employed by British companies in South Africa represent a factor affecting investment prospects, export performance, and the reputation abroad of British industry'. The proposal is accepted.

8 March 1973

The Minister of Justice defends the banning orders on eight black leaders on the grounds that he is preventing acts of terrorism worse than any previously experienced. The opposition queries why, in such a case, the leaders are not taken to court.

The Prime Minister, B.J. Vorster, officially opens the South African Navy's R15m. Maritime Operational and Communications Headquarters at Silvermine, near Simonstown.

12 March 1973

In the wake of strikes in Natal in February, The Guardian publishes a documented report on the low wages paid to black workers in South Africa by companies with British connections.

14 March 1973

The Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) asks the national Olympic committees of Belgium, Great Britain, Japan, the Netherlands and West Germany, to do everything in their power to prevent members of their respective countries from participating in the Pretoria Games from 23 March to 7 April 1973.

20 March 1973

Sports Minister, Dr. P. Koornhof, says the government will not allow organizations inside or outside the country to disrupt the South African games.

Evidence of guerrilla training in the Soviet Union and Tanzania is given in the trial of six people, on nineteen charges under the Terrorism Act, appearing before Justice Boshoff in Pretoria.

21 March 1973

The banning orders on NUSAS leaders are discussed by the Principals of four English language universities with the Prime Minister, who is unsympathetic. Extra-Parliamentary action to bring about change in the form of government in South Africa will not be tolerated.

21 March 1973

Black Laws Amendment Act No 7:

Designed to speed up the planning for partial consolidation of homelands. The 1927 Black Administration Act was amended so that 'a removal order might be served on a Bantu Community as well as on a tribe or portion thereof' (Horrell 1978: 205). If a tribe refused to move, and Parliament approved the plan, the tribe was unable to appeal to Parliament.

Commenced: 21 March 1973

Repealed by the Abolition of Influx Control Act No 68 of 1986.

27 March 1973

A major detailed Administration statement is made by the United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, David Newsom, to the African Sub-Committee of the House of Representatives, chaired by Congressman Charles Diggs concerning American business involvement in South Africa. It stresses that peaceful change in South Africa can be fostered if American firms promote better conditions for blacks.

29 March 1973

The British government publishes in Trade and Industry, guidelines for British companies operating in South Africa.

3 April 1973

Chief Kaiser Matanzima (Transkei) calls for a federation of white and black states in South Africa. His party stands for a policy of separation of races on an equal and parallel basis, rejecting racial discrimination and white dominance.

9 April 1973

The International Commission of Jurists condemns the bannings of black leaders.

The New Zealand Prime Minister announces that the invitation to an all-white South African rugby team had to be withdrawn because of its racial selection.

9 April - 14 April 1973

International Conference of Experts for Support of Victims of Colonialism and Apartheid in Southern Africa, Oslo.

International Conference of Experts for Support of Victims of Colonialism and Apartheid in Southern Africa, Oslo.

10 April 1973

Minister of Defence, P.W. Botha, defines South Africa's defence policy in a White Paper tabled in the House of Assembly. While primarily defensive, the policy must also include a significant retaliatory capability.

11 April 1973

Forty members are elected to Lebowa's Legislative Assembly, the remaining sixty seats being allocated to nominated chiefs. Cedric Phatudi becomes is Chief Minister.

14 April 1973

The Bophuthatswana government rejects the South African government's consolidation proposals and, in return, claims large portions of North Western and Western Transvaal and sizeable areas of the Northern Cape and the Free State.

Signs multilateral treaty on the issue of telegraph and telephone regulations.

20 April 1973

The South African Police Force stationed in the Caprivi Strip, bordering Zambia, suffer casualties in clashes with 'terrorists'.

24 April 1973

The ambush and killing of policemen by Zambian based terrorists is reported from the Caprivi Strip. Zambia denies that it harbours freedom fighters'.

25 April 1973

Prime Minister Vorster, confirms in the House of Assembly that the blacks would receive all the land provided for in the 1936 Native Trust and Land Act.

The Schlebusb Commission of Inquiry issues its third interim report, focusing on the Wilgespruit Fellowship Centre, an institution stated to be working towards radical social and political change and employing procedures counter to accepted religion and religious practice. The Prime Minister gives its controlling body, the South African Council of Churches (SACC) three weeks to clear it up.

27 April 1973

Details of the government's final consolidation proposals for the 'homelands' involving land in the provinces of Natal and Transvaal are given at a press conference by the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development, M.C. Botha. They are tabled in Parliament and approved on.

29 April 1973

The Prime Minister indicates that the 'homelands' will be perfectly free to form a federation among themselves, once they have achieved hill independence. However he is not prepared to share the sovereignty of the white people with any other national group.

4 May 1973

The Minister for Bantu Administration and Development hands over the symbols of authority to the Kwazulu Legislative Authority.

12 May 1973

A Bill prohibiting demonstrations near the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town is passed with the support of the opposition United Party.

15 May - 11 July 1973

The British Trade and Industry Sub-Committe holds eighteen public sittings; twenty eight companies give oral evidence, 100 others written evidence. Most state they have given unscheduled wage increases to black workers in the period before and during the House of Commons inquiry.

16 May 1973

The Minister of Justice banns all protest meetings in the centre of Cape Town, following student protests. Several arrests are made.

18 May 1973

Signs multilateral treaty on the issue of the simplification and harmonization of customs procedures.

21 May 1973

The Bantu Labour Relations Regulation Amendment Bill is read for the first time in the House of Assembly. It creates more effective machinery for communication between employers and African workers and gives the Minister of Labour wide powers to stimulate improvements in working conditions. Africans are given a more direct role in wage negotiations.

24 May 1973

In connection with the uranium enrichment programme, disclosed by the Prime Minister in July 1970, his announced in the House of Assembly that the government has decided to make funds available for preparatory work for establishing a full-scale prototype plant for the economic enrichment of uranium.

25 May 1973

Final land consolidation proposals for Bophuthatswana are announced. They involve moving more than 120,000 Tswana people from their present lands.

26 May 1973

A comprehensive policy statement on South Africa's new multi-national sports concessions is made by Sports Minister Dr. P. Koornhof in the House of Assembly. Separate participation will be maintained at club, provincial and national levels. Mixed competition will be only at international level.

6 June 1973

Resettlement of 363,000 Africans is expected to result. Gatsha Buthelezi protests over the limited concessions and threatens non-cooperation.

15 June - 16 June 1973

International Trade Union Conference against Apartheid - organised by the Workers' Group of the ILO Governing Body, in cooperation with the UN Special Committee against Apartheid, at Palais des Nations, Geneva.

International Trade Union Conference against Apartheid - organised by the Workers' Group of the ILO Governing Body, in cooperation with the UN Special Committee against Apartheid, Palais des Nations, Geneva.

20 June 1973

Prison sentences ranging from five to fifteen years are imposed by Justice W.G. Boshoff in Pretoria on six defendants convicted under the Terrorism Act. They are found guilty of various charges including conspiring in South Africa, the Soviet Union, Somalia and Britian with the ANC, to overthrow the South African government by force and preparing for violent revolution.

The Minister of Defence denies that South African troops are supporting Portuguese armed forces in Mozambique, as alleged by FREL1MO.

July - September 1973

'Homeland' leaders Chief Buthelezi, Professor Ntsanwisi, and TM. Molahlawa warn the South African government of worsening race relations.

4 July 1973

The Bantu Labour Regulations Amendment Bill becomes operative. The conditions under which Africans - for the first time - have the legal right to strike, the procedures to be followed, and the exclusion from it of certain essential services categories of workers are laid down.

20 July 1973

The Minister of Coloured Affairs announces that the government has decided to appoint a judicial commission to investigate student grievances and conduct at the University of the Western Cape, closed between 11 June and 15 July 1973, following various demands and protests.

28 July 1973

The Deputy Minister of Bantu Administration and Education, Punt Janson, invites guidance in humanizing the pass laws and influx control measures by which African mobility is regulated, in the interests of the communities.

30 July 1973

The former Minister of the Interior, Theo Gerdener, announces details of his scheme for a new political organization whose aim will be to work for two separate states in South Africa, one for Africans and the other for White, Indian and Coloured peoples with equality for all.

August 1973

Banning orders continue. Passports are refused, or withdrawn.

1 August 1973

A High Court is established in Umtata, capital of the Transkei. The first Chief Justice sworn in is a white South African.

7 August 1973

Students strike at the University of Fort Hare. The Students Organization (SASO) is held responsible for the agitation. Further violence erupts on the campus on 28 August 1973.

15 August - 16 August 1973

Elections are held in Venda. Traditionalist Chief Patrick R. Mphephu is returned to power despite electoral victory for the opposition Vendaland Independent People's Party, additional seats being filled by nominated headmen.

24 August 1973

South Africa:Signs treaty with Lesotho relating to the establishment of an office for a Lesotho government labour representative in South Africa.

South Africa:Signs boundary treaty with Botswana.

24 August 1973

Legal Aid Act No 2:

Provided legal aid for blacks, which was absent in the South African setting.

Commenced: 24 August 1973

25 August 1973

The Prime Minister warns the opposition parties, the United Party and Progressive Party, that his government may have to end interference by whites in the political affairs of Africans and vice-versa. He is particularly opposed to representatives of black and Coloured communities being invited to speak at their congresses which can only heighten friction between racial groups.

29 August 1973

Signs treaty with Brazil regarding the exemption from customs duties to consuls and consulates of both states.

September 1973

The Premier of West German Schleswig-Holstein says during a visit to South Africa that more German entrepreneurs should be attracted to the 'homelands'.

11 September 1973

Eleven rioting miners are shot by police and twenty-seven injured at the Western Deep Levels mine, Carltonville in a confrontation arising from a pay dispute. The incident arouses international concern.

13 September 1973

Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, the Chief Councillor, announces that the South African government has agreed that members of the Kwazulu Executive Council should be allowed to possess firearms.

20 September 1973

The United States House of Representatives Judiciary Sub-Committee opens an inquiry into the South African operations of 320 American firms, with a view to determining whether they follow fair employment practices.

24 September 1973

Gazankulu: Social Pensions Act No 7:

Commenced: 24 September 1976

25 September 1973

The New Zealand government announces that it terminates all tariff preferences previous granted to South Africa, as from 1 January 1974.

October 1973

A plan is launched by the government and leading blacks, for the formation of twenty-two councils to represent the country's 6,000,000 urban Africans.

3 October 1973

Prime Minister Vorster indicates that there is nothing to prevent employers taking the necessary steps to bring about improvements in the productive use of black labour. The government will not obstruct changes in the country's traditional work patterns.

5 October 1973

The Minister of Labour exercises his power under the Bantu Labour Relations Regulation Bill to order minimum wage increases of between fifty and ninety per cent for a large proportion of the more than 100,000 Africans employed in the civil engineering and road-making industries in main urban areas.

The United Nations General Assembly rejects South Africa's credentials. The Assembly President rules, however, that the measure does not affect the delegations right to participate, and the Prime Minister affirms South Africa's intention to remain in the United Nations despite mounting opposition.

A State Presidential Proclamation, widening powers of the Group Areas Act, is published in a bid to prevent multi-racial matches at Pietermaritzburg's Aurora Cricket Club.

7 October - 20 October 1973

A delegation of British Trade Union leaders carry out an intensive programme of visits and talks, investigating trade union conditions and meeting the Prime Minister and several other government ministers. Their leader, Victor Feather, President of the European Trade Union Confederation, outlines a six point plan for industrial prosperity and black workers advancement. The government rejects it.

12 October 1973

The Minister of Labour says that the government will neither abolish job reservation nor recognize black trade unions.

16 October 1973

Signs treaty with Spain for the prevention of double taxation on income derived from the operation of ships or aircraft in international traffic.

16 October - 17 October 1973

Elections are held in Gazankulu. Professor Hudson Ntsanwisi is unanimously re-elected leader of the Gazankulu Legislative Assembly.

19 October 1973

KwaZulu: Medium of Instruction and Language Act No 5:

Commenced: 19 October 1973

21 October 1973

It is reported that the government has banned twenty black leaders of black organizations, including the South African Students' Organization (SASO), the Black People's Convention (BPC) the Black Community Programme (BCP), the Black Allied Workers' Union and the Black Workers' Project. Members of the South African Black Scholars' Association (SABSA) are interrogated security police.

24 October 1973

In the elections the Transkei National Independence Party wins twenty-five seats, the Democratic Party ten, Independents eight. Another sixty-four Assembly seats are filled by chiefs appointed ex officio by the government.

27 October 1973

The Carltonville inquests exonerates the police from any blame for the shootings at the Western Deep Levels on 11 September 1973, in which eleven black miners were killed and which caused an international outcry.

8 November 1973

A meeting convened by Chief Lucas Mangope, Chief Minister of Bophuthatswana, held in Umtata in camera and attended by eight 'homeland' leaders to work out a common approach to the. government, lay emphasis on the concept of one black nation. Resolutions are passed for the establishment of a black bank, abolition of influx control and consolidation of 'homelands' into single units.

9 November 1973

At its Biennial Congress in Bloemfontein the United Party adopts a new six-point declaration of principles, and ratifies a new federal plan committed to a federal constitution.

9 November - 11 November 1973

The Progressive Party supports the idea of a federation of autonomous states in Southern Africa.

16 November 1973

Dr. Beyers Naudé, Director of the Christian Institute is found guilty by a Pretoria regional court of refusing to testify before the Schlebusch Commission, because its hearings were held in secret.

17 November 1973

The Democratic Party officially comes into being at a one-day conference in Johannesburg attended by some 200 delegates from the four provinces. Theo Gerdener is unanimously elected leader of the party.

28 November 1973

An Arab oil embargo against South Africa, brings the prospects of rationing and the extension of conservation measures.

30 November 1973

The United Nations General Assembly adopts, by ninety one votes to four, the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. To become international law its ratification by twenty countries is still required.

30 November 1973

International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid approved by the General Assembly [Resolution 3068(XXVIII)].

30 November 1973

International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid approved by the General Assembly [Resolution 3068(XXVIII)].

4 December 1973

Following the placing of an embargo on the supply of oil to South Africa from Arab countries, the Prime Minister announces restricted trading hours, but states that petrol rationing is not as yet being introduced.

7 December 1973

Further bannings are gazetted, including that of the former leader of the South African Indian Congress, Yusuf Cachalia who has already spent twenty years under restriction.

11 December 1973

Land consolidation proposals for the Transkei and Ciskei are announced, involving black acquisition of Port St Johns and Indwe.

14 December 1973

The United Nations adopts a resolution declaring that the South African government has no right to represent the people of that country and that representation should instead be vested in the African national liberation movements.

14 December 1973

The General Assembly declared that the South African regime has "no right to represent the people of South Africa" and that the liberation movements recognised by the OAU are "the authentic representatives of the overwhelming majority of the South African people". [Resolution 3151 G (XXVIII)]

15 December 1973

The British Trade Union Congress (TUC) publishes a report on black labour conditions. Among the major recommendations it advocates is the organization of black workers into trade unions.

19 December 1973

South Africa;Signs International Sugar Agreement.

24 December 1973

Signs agreement with Botswana relating to the establishment of a Botswana government labour representative in South Africa.

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