Undermining the might of the South African Defence Force (SADF) was key to the work of the End Conscription Campaign (ECC). This section provides a history of military conscription in the South African armed forces and the anti-conscription movement.
The ECC was first proposed in 1983 as a mass peace movement to represent those who opposed forced military conscription, and to promote awareness of the dangerous influence of the SADF in an increasingly militarised South Africa.
The dedication of ECC members was most clearly seen in the frequency and variety of regional and national campaigns, five of which are described in this section, in the hopes of doing justice to the boundless commitment of their organizers.
ECC activities were multi-faceted in an attempt to stimulate discussion around war, conscription and apartheid’s injustices. The unique creative outpouring of anti-war sentiment inspired an energetic generation of anti-war artists and iconoclasts.
The ECC received ongoing support from an international network of Conscientious Objectors (COs) and anti-war movements, including those organisations established especially to support their cause, notably the Committee on South African War Resistance.
South Africa in the 1980s was characterized by mounting and often violent opposition to the Botha administration. In response, two States of Emergency were declared during this era, influencing the ideological and strategic direction of the ECC.
Within the context of violent resistance in the late 1980s, the ECC unbanned itself and became active in fostering successful negotiations between the SADF and ANC, as well as lobbying for an end to conscription.
In October 2009, the legacy of the ECC was commemorated across South Africa, revealing its ongoing relevance and the universality of its cause.
© SAHA 2021