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Construction not Conscription
SAHA T-shirt archive, photographed for Common, curated by Khanya Mashabela for Common, 6 May–26 July 2023. Image courtesy of A4 Arts Foundation.
Title Construction not Conscription Date 1980s Type Archival garment
Associated organisations End Conscription Campaign (ECC)
Dimensions 67 x 72 cm

WORKING FOR A JUST PEACE Construction not Conscription (front)
WORKING FOR A JUST PEACE Construction not Conscription (back)

In the 1980s, the Defence Minister, Magnus Malan, said: "The End Conscription Campaign (ECC) is a direct enemy of the SADF (South African Defence Force). It's disgraceful that the SADF, but especially the country's young people, the pride of the nation, should be subjected to the ECC's propaganda, suspicion-sowing and misinformation." Malan went on to declare the ECC, "Just as much an enemy of the Defence Force as the African National Congress."

The ECC, founded in 1983, became the first white organisation in over 20 years to be outlawed by the apartheid regime. More than 100 objectors were detained, many of whom went into hiding. Their offices and homes were tear-gassed and firebombed, cars and motorbikes had their brake cables cut, and wheel nuts were loosened and tyres overinflated; other ECC members were beaten and some targeted for assassination.

The ECC ultimately prevented the state from enforcing conscription and formed divisions in the broader white community.