No exit? Emigration policy and the consolidation of apartheid
© 2016 The Editorial Board of the Journal of Southern African Studies. Emigration policy in post-1948 South Africa functioned as both a tool of oppression and a safety valve, at once a mechanism to punish Apartheid’s staunchest political opponents and a mechanism for dissipating white opposition to National Party policies. This article examines the National Party’s policy toward emigration in the 1950s and 1960s, exploring the role of travel documents in the evolving National Party strategy for maintaining, and even extending, its control over internal political opponents. At no point, however, could the Minister of the Interior simply impose his will without facing innovative challenges to the law. Anti-apartheid figures repeatedly sought to test emigration provisions in the courts and nullify their effects. The Government developed its emigration policy by deciding individual applications on a case-by-case basis, rather than articulating ‘coherent’ public guidelines. It further believed that citizens did not have a right to a passport and that travellers constituted ‘quasi-diplomats’. This formulation, along with the requirement that black South Africans provide a substantial deposit before travelling abroad, speaks to the apartheid Government’s complex notions of racially based citizenship.
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