44th National Conference: Report of the National Executive Committee
18 December 1955
Sons and Daughters of Afrika!
We of the African National Congress meet once again to review South African and world events; our Congress policy of rights and progress for all the people of our country; our desire for world peace and friendship among the peoples of the world.
THE PEOPLE FIGHT TO BE FREE.
Apartheid is enslaving the people of South Africa today but in the great world outside race discrimination and colonialism are being replaced by human brotherhood and the independence of nations. Countries which less than one decade ago were the subjects of colonial powers have thrown off their bonds and asserted their right to take part in international affairs as complete equals. In the last ten years the maps have had to be re-drawn, the face of the world has changed, the people of great parts of Asia have risen to their feet, and now the freedom struggle is spreading to our own continent, Africa. Centuries of colonial oppression have been ended for many millions and for millions more the struggle for liberation is reaching new heights. We do not doubt that within our lifetimes the millions still oppressed throughout the world will govern themselves freely.
The road to freedom is no easy one. Savage wars have been unleashed against the peoples of Kenya, Malaya and Vietnam, savage campaigns of annihilation against the peoples of French Africa, by those seeking to stamp out the peoples` freedom movements. The colonialists strive to prevent the floodlight of world enquiry being focussed on what happens in their colonies; they seek to deny the United Nations the right to discuss their policies and to actively safeguard those liberties enshrined in the U.N. Charter and the Declaration of Human Rights.
The deprivation of human liberties; policies of genocide or mass extermination against a subject people; the denial of rights to a people because of their colour; these evils are not the domestic concern of ruling nations: they are the affair of all peoples. Even from those colonies in Africa where the people have been kept in the most dire subjection, denied rights of assembly and organisation and cut off from contact with the outside world, the demands for self-government, for independence and for freedom are ringing out.
Colonialism will be overthrown. It will take longer in some countries than others. Nowhere will freedom come about independently of the peoples` struggles, and everywhere the colonial and master powers will fight bitterly to retain their possessions. But everywhere the peoples` movements are growing, developing, maturing; new militant forms of struggle are being adopted; a new determination is growing among the people; a brotherhood and a confidence for freedom are being forged and the day to liberation draws nearer.
BANDUNG MARKED A NEW ERA.
This was the great significance of the Bandung Conference held in Indonesia in April of this year. The conference of 29 Asian and African powers represented the new era of colonial liberation and was therefore one of the most important events of our time. There entered into the world arena a great new force for freedom and for peace. The resurgent peoples of Asia and Africa who for centuries experienced the bitterness of colonial oppression will not rest until all are liberated from this evil. So the conference at Bandung pledged to fight until the last remains of colonialism have been wiped from the face of the earth. The conference deplored the policies of racial segregation and discrimination which form the basis of government and human relations in large regions of the still exploited world - including our own country, South Africa. It proposed economic and cultural co-operation between the Asian and African people, and demanded increased representation for the people of these two continents in the United Nations.
With the greatest enthusiasm, we greet the achievements of the Bandung Conference which will inspire colonial people everywhere to redouble their efforts for freedom.
We greet with enthusiasm the decision to convene yet another Afro-Asian conference next year in Cairo.
The coming together of the Asian and African powers is a great force in the world not only for freedom but also for peace, and none should feel the need for peace more deeply than the colonial people who have seen so many wars fought against them in their own lands to rob them of their country`s natural wealth and of their liberty. National rights and independence are not secure in a world at war; and peace is needed for the people to advance and prosper. All mankind needs the ending of the cold war that divides the world into two hostile armed camps and prevents the development of trade, of economic and cultural exchange.
The pessimism of those who once used to say that war is inevitable has been confounded by the great victories for peace won recently by the peace-loving people of the world. Concrete steps towards peace and the easing of world tension were taken at top level meetings of the Big Powers. The pressure of the people brought to a stop the colonial wars in Korea and Vietnam.
The people see the choice clearly as one of co-existence: all nations, governments and systems learning to live together in one world - or of no existence: a war of atomic horror weapons which threatens to wipe out mankind. The people made their pressure felt and forced their governments to negotiate around the conference table. Great steps have been taken to preserve the peace but the dangers of war can only be averted while the people remain vigilant and organise and fight for peace. War is an opportunity and the means to colonial powers to invade new territories, to swell their profits from the armaments industry and the pillage of subject countries.
The colonial peoples need liberation, freedom, independence. But eve who fight for freedom fight also for peace that our children may grow up in a world of prosperity and international friendship.
At Bandung where Africa and Asia took their stand so firmly for world peace and freedom were present Moses Kotane and Maulvi Cachalia. In the great Bandung Assembly our voice was heard, and Kotane spoke there for the real aspirations of the South African people, as he had done for many years at home.
SOUTH AFRICAN RACIALISM DENOUNCED BY THE WORLD.
At the United Nations, by contrast, the South African government representatives have withdrawn from this session of UN O rather than face the criticism and denunciation of the world. But running away from criticism does not defeat the critics and serves only to condemn the South African government and isolate it from world opinion. South Africa cannot evade the judgement of the world: the judgement is against apartheid and discrimination and for equality and human rights.
The suggestion in the latest United Nations Report on South Africa, while still condemning the apartheid practices of our government, is that the application of apartheid is "slowing down", that the operation of this policy is characterised by "gradualism`` and "flexibility". The events of the past year alone do not bear out this theory, nor do the experiences of those who are the chief victims of the apartheid policy: the Non-White people.
Above all, this approach misses so sadly the real purpose of the apartheid policy of the Nationalists. Under cover of the airy talk of complete territorial apartheid, of the endless discussions by the Dutch Reformed Church Ministers and the SABRA professors, one bout after another of oppressive, discriminatory legislation is being inflicted on the people. While its long term aims are theorised about in the press and the debating chambers, the people are already experiencing the disasters of apartheid. The repression of the state has never been so severe, both the attacks on the political movements and on the rights of the individual and the family; and these attacks have never been directed against such large numbers of the people as they are today. What are these if not the results of apartheid? The talk may be of "separate homes for the Africans in the Reserves", of "their own cities", rights in "their own areas" and "separate development"; but these plans are an apartheid pipe dream, an illusion, and the actuality of apartheid today is the denial of all rights to those millions living and working in the towns and poverty-stricken rural areas.
This is exactly the purpose of the apartheid theory: to inflict discriminatory laws on the Non-White people under the guise of letting them develop one day in their own areas. It may well be recognised that the facts of history work against this illusion of apartheid and that it is a political and economic impossibility, but meanwhile none should fail to see that the Nationalists are today whittling away our rights, sacrificing us on the altar of apartheid, and reducing the people to a state of semi-slavery.
If ever there was a year when apartheid played havoc with the rights of the people, it is the period under review.
The forcible removal by army and police of the people of Johannesburg`s Western Areas to Meadowlands; the plans of the Minister of Native Affairs, Dr. Verwoerd, to move the entire African population of the Western Cape Province; the enforcement of the Bantu Education System; the packing of the Senate by Nats. in preparation for the removal of the Coloured voters from the common roll; the implementation of the Population Registration Act; the re-classification of Coloureds; the alteration of the judiciary to suit the interests of the Nats.; the enforcement of the Bantu Authorities Act; the continuation of exiles and bannings of leaders; the ruthless raids on people`s meetings, private offices and private homes and even religious institutions; the introduction of ethnic grouping; and the creation of slums under the site-and-service scheme; the application of the Group Areas Act with the sole purpose of economically ruining the non-Europeans - the Indians in particular; the shameless pass and beer raids, persecution of people under the pass laws and finally the threat of the extension of pass laws to women by January next year.
Here in South Africa none can be in doubt as to the growing ruthlessness of the Nationalists and their determination, to use the words of the Prime Minister, to pursue their policies "relentlessly".
THE REAL OPPOSITION.
The relentless pursuance of Nationalist policies, instead of serving t stiffen the Opposition of the United Party has helped to dismember it. Instead of presenting to the electorate an alternative to Nationalist Party policies, the United Party offers a copy of these policies, a slightly milder version. "To get into power again the United Party must get more votes, and these votes can only come from the moderate Afrikaners," said Sir De Villiers Graaff, chairman of the Cape United Party, in November. "The moderate Nationalists must be made to feel that there is a place for them in the United Party." Here is a simple telling admission of the policies of capitulation followed by the United Party, policies which have led many former United Party supporters to abandon the fainthearted policies of the Official Opposition and to seek more principled opposition to the Nationalists in such protest movements as the Covenant Movement and the campaigns of the Black Sash women. The will to fight the Senate Act and other dictatorial measures is stirring many European voters who have turned to mass protest movements in an attempt to revive and revitalise the opposition. But so long as it is not recognised that the only real bulwark, the only firm defence against dictatorship and fascism is the will of the Non-White people for democracy, all opposition politics of White voters alone will continue to be shadow play, unreal and ineffective.
More votes, yes, that is the issue. Not winning Nationalist votes to the side of the United Party, but extending the vote to all the people.
"No government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people," says the Freedom Charter.
"The People Shall Govern.
Every man and woman shall have the right to vote for and to stand as candidate for all bodies which make laws. All people shall be entitled to take part in the administration of the country."
This is the only way to defeat the police state, this is the only way forward.
FORWARD WITH THE FREEDOM CHARTER.
The great road forward is lit by the Freedom Charter, adopted at the Congress of the People at Kliptown on June 25 and 26.
Which of us who heard the idea of the Congress of the People first proposed at our Queenstown Conference by Professor Matthews foresaw that it would be such a brilliant success? History was made at Kliptown in June of this year. The Freedom Charter was not just another political document, the Congress of the People just another conference. The Freedom Charter is the sum total of our aspirations, but more: it is the road to the new life. It is the uniting creed of all the people struggling for democracy and for their rights; the mirror of the future South Africa. The defeat of the Nationalists and the course of the Congress movement depends on every fighter for freedom grasping fully the meaning and significance, and the purpose of the Freedom Charter.
The Charter is no patchwork collection of demands, no jumble of reforms. The ten clauses of the Charter cover all aspects of the lives of the people. The Charter exposes the fraud of racialism and of minority government. It demands equal rights before the law, work and security for all, the opening of the doors of learning and culture for all. It demands that our brothers in the Protectorates shall be free to decide for themselves their own future; it proclaims the oneness of our aims for peace and friendship with our brothers in Africa and elsewhere in the world.
This is the pattern of the new South Africa which must make a complete break with the present unjust system.
The Freedom Charter has opened up a new chapter in the struggle of our people. Hitherto we have struggled sometimes together, sometimes separately against pass laws, and Group Areas, against low wages, against Bantu Education and removal schemes. With the adoption of the Charter all struggles become part of one: the struggle for the aims of the Charter.
THE CHARTER: OUR GUIDE AND ORGANISER.
It is not enough to have adopted the Freedom Charter. It must not become a document framed and hanging on the wall. The Charter can and must be the inspiration of the people in their freedom fight: it must be their organiser.
Every signature won to the Charter is an adherent to our cause and a fighter for the Congress movement. Every local battle fought around some local grievance but related to the overall demands of the Charter is another battle won in the peoples` understanding of how political campaigns will win the new South Africa and help to bring final victory against the Nationalists nearer.
One million signatures for the Freedom Charter: 450,000 in the Transvaal; 350,000 in the Cape; 150,000 in Natal; and 50,000 in the Free State. If we take the Freedom Charter among the people to organise and teach and activise them, this can be the training of a mighty Congress force that will replace what is old, rotten and unjust with the new, the vital, the just.
The Nationalists seek to return us to the days of tribalism, to make the chiefs the "bossboys", the "indunas" the policemen of apartheid; to divide the tribes from one another; to teach our children not only to believe in the natural inferiority of the African people but also that the children of the different tribes should not play with one another. The Africans who ride to the Verwoerd indabas in black cars are the agitators, said the Minister of Native Affairs, and for mortal fear of the so-called agitators who preach the unity of the African people, who demand not Bungas and Bantu Authorities but full and equal franchise, who organise in trade unions and strike for higher wages, the Native Affairs Department has organised a vast army of civil servants at work in every corner of the countryside trying to wean the Africans from their political organisation into hostile tribal units under the NAD.
This is a diabolical scheme to confine us to the kraal and the eroded soil. Bantu Authorities and Bantu Education are presented as the salvation of the African people, but we know them to be our doom. Yet in many areas where Congress is not strong organisationally and where the N. A. D. stuffs the ears of the people with fairy tales of so-called positive apartheid the Verwoerd propaganda is gaining some ground. To deny this is to close our eyes to the truth of what is happening in some areas.
How answer the lies of the apartheid propagandists? How fight the apartheid theories? By telling them the truth of the government`s intentions, giving the people the alternative and taking the Freedom Charter to them. We have an unassailable case; it has only to be put to the people and hundreds of thousands in the Reserves and on the Trust Farms will reject apartheid, and fling it from them, and will take the Freedom Charter into their homes and their daily lives.
We are confident in the justice of our cause, but we must not let this confidence blunt the edge of our energy and persistence in carrying the work of Congress among the people.
Often Congress lets burning grievances of the people and local issues go by without offering the positive lead of our organisation. We must face the fact that in the Freedom Charter campaign for the collection of one million signatures not enough energy, drive and direction has been shown. The campaign has been too slow in getting under way. No campaign is merely a routine task, least of all the collection of signatures for the Freedom Charter. The people will not sign with enthusiasm if they think signing consists merely in making a mark on a piece of paper. But if we present the Charter to them as we understand it: the organiser and inspiration of the people in a united political struggle, the signatures will flow in. The Charter cannot be explained just by words. It must be related to struggle, it must be illustrated by life itself. In every campaign we undertake against passes for women, against Bantu Education, against the classification of the Coloured people, against ethnic grouping and the Bantu Authorities, against site-and-service and bad transport, the overall demands of the Freedom Charter must be related to the peoples` needs.
The Congress who gave birth to the Freedom Charter must not merely meet together from time to time in a joint meeting. To give the Charter the drive and inspiration it needs, the Congresses must forge a mighty alliance in action for the Freedom Charter and there common plans must be hammered out, all the events in our political life discussed and related to the Charter so that it takes on its real meaning for the people as the road forward.
STRUGGLE AGAINST PASSES.
The pass laws are one of the most burning grievances of the people. The Africans know the passes as their badge of slavery. The passing of the Population Registration Act means the extension of pass laws to other sections of our community and to the African women in particular. The Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents Act is just part of this. Under this law all Africans irrespective of sex over the age of 16 are obliged to carry the composite pass known as the Reference Book. It is under this law that the Minister intends forcing our women to carry Reference Books from January, 1956. The African National Congress has time and again rejected the passes by whatever name they are called. We reject the pass system under the Population Registration Act as well as under the Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents Act.
We who know the suffering the pass laws have brought to us over the decades will not tolerate the extension of this hated system to our womenfolk. We warn the government: making women carry passes will be like tramping on the tail of a puff adder.
The pass laws humiliate and terrorise us at every turn. Influx control keeps man and wife apart; endorsement out of the urban areas breaks up our families and make our children orphans. Our young boys grow up in terror of the sight of the roving pick-up van and the shouts for passes. The labour bureaus force us to accept work on the farms; our youth are denied a future.
Must our women also be herded into the police cells, detained in a lockup because they have forgotten a piece of paper while their children are motherless at home? Must our wives too work out 14 and 21 days of hard labour because some detail had not been entered in their identification books?
This is what the pass laws will bring to our women.
We must fight the extension of these laws to African women with every breath in our bodies.
Yet we must show that passes for African women are just another aspect of apartheid, and therefore our struggle against passes is part of the total fight against apartheid. It is a burning issue, yet not an issue that stands alone. We must join the battle against passes with all the other freedom battles we wage.
We accordingly suggest that the National Consultative Committee working under the directives and supervision of the National Executive Committee of the Congress movement jointly or individually should be given authority to launch a planned campaign in order to mobilise all sections of the people against the Population Registration Act and the Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents Act in whatever shape or form. We are confident that they will find the legitimate form of resistance.
THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST BANTU EDUCATION.
The campaign against Bantu Education has many lessons for Congress work in all spheres.
The 42nd Annual Conference of the ANC held in Durban last year decided as a means of fighting and opposing Bantu Education, that African children should be withdrawn from Bantu Schools for an indefinite period as from the 1st April, 1955, and further called for a boycott of Bantu Education school committees and boards.
In January, 1955, instructions were issued by the National Secretariat, giving directives to Provinces for the holding of a series of meetings and assemblies, the appointment of various local committees and the submission of regular reports on the progress of the campaign which was planned to culminate in the mass withdrawal of children on the 1st April, 1955.
When the National Executive met in Durban in March, 1955, to consider reports on the progress of the campaign in the various centres, no such reports were available and there was no evidence that the country would be ready for the withdrawal on the 1st April. In the circumstances your Executive decided to postpone the withdrawal to a date which would be announced later. The resolution of the National Executive adopted at this meeting also called for the formation of a National Council of Education consisting of representatives of all organisations opposed to Bantu Education.
In pursuance of the decision of the Executive, the Secretariat convened a conference of various organisations at Port Elizabeth in April, 1955, at which conference the principle of establishing an educational council was approved. Such a council was duly established and is known as the African Education Movement, with its headquarters in Johannesburg.
On the 1st April, 1955, some areas, which were ready for withdrawal on that date, staged protest withdrawals and the children stayed away from Bantu Education schools in spite of Dr. Verwoerd`s threats to exclude such children permanently from his schools.
Since the decision of the Annual Conference of December, 1954, the campaign against Bantu Education has been conducted with varying degrees of intensity in different centres. On the Reef and in the Eastern Cape, these areas where mass withdrawals have taken place, children withdrawn have in the main been absorbed into cultural clubs established for the purpose by the African Education Movement. Your Executive wishes to pay special tribute to the magnificent service being rendered by the organisers of the cultural clubs, who are working under what are in some cases extremely difficult conditions and in the face of persistent police interference.
There can be no doubt that the struggle against Bantu Education was one of the most important campaigns embarked upon during the period under review. Nor can there be any doubt that its enforcement revealed the united hostility of the vast majority of the people against this tyrannical measure. Persons and organisations of varying shades of opinion joined together in their vehement condemnation of Bantu Education. The few disgruntled, self-seeking vultures who are conducting campaigns to popularise Bantu Education have exposed themselves as traitors to the people.
Whilst on the one hand the fight against Bantu Education has served to expose the treacherous intentions of the authors of this inhuman scheme, it has on the other hand revealed difficulties and mistakes which must be examined and considered by this conference if ultimate victory is to be the reward for our present struggle.
Firstly, education is essentially a slow process whose mass effects may take generations to become noticeable. An evil system of education therefore cannot be effectively attacked by means of sensational, dramatic campaigns of short duration, except where such campaigns flow systematically from, and are part of a steady, deep-rooted and enduring campaign, planned and conducted on the clear understanding that it involves a long and bitter struggle.
For a sustained campaign of this kind an efficient organisational machinery is absolutely essential; and if, because of organisational weaknesses the fight against Bantu Education has fallen short of our expectations, the reason is that Provincial and local branches paid little, if any, attention to the Executive Report adopted by the last Annual Conference. It is impossible to over-emphasise the fact that where there is no organisational machinery, any struggle must ultimately perish.
Secondly, it appears that undue emphasis was laid on the provision of alternative education as a condition precedent to children being withdrawn from Bantu Education schools. This emphasis lent considerable weight to the argument advanced as an apology for retreating from the struggle, namely, that "Bantu Education is better than no education.`` In the absence of adequate literature and propaganda material through which the people could be made to develop the proper approach to the struggle against Bantu Education, it has not been easy to neutralise and destroy the pro-Bantu Education propaganda disseminated from Pretoria and broadcast through the agency of paid employees of the Native Affairs Department. These difficulties point unmistakably to the urgent need for a Congress bulletin or newspaper, to reinforce, and widen the field at present covered by such newspapers and bulletins as "New Age", "Fighting Talk", and "Liberation."
Thirdly, your Executive was embarrassed in this campaign, as it was in other respects, by the fact that membership subscriptions and special levies due to the Head Office were not forwarded to the appropriate treasury, except in very isolated instances. In the result your Executive was unable to do all that was necessary to guide, direct and control the development of the campaign in all its phases, and so prevent it from breaking up into what may have appeared to be sporadic, unrelated and ineffectual small incidents in various parts of the country. The chronic lack of adequate funds to enable the Head Office to perform its proper functions is a question of organisation which we have mentioned earlier in this report.
Fourthly, there seems to have been failure on the part of our organisers to realise that Bantu Education is intended and calculated to undermine the entire liberatory struggle and is therefore an open target and should be the object of persistent attack in any meeting or assembly of freedom-loving people. To this extent the campaign against Bantu Education should not be handled in isolation from other campaigns as if it were something which has its own beginning and its own end.
We must learn that it is one thing to wish to see a complete national withdrawal of all children from Bantu Education schools. It is another thing to achieve this; organisational preparedness does not happen over-night. It is the result of steady, even slow, patient, persistent work and we must face the fact that Congress branches everywhere had not and still have not put in this necessary spade-work.
There is no doubt about the long-term aim which is to prevent the functioning of Bantu Education by a boycott. But talk of permanent boycott in the isolated areas where the people are carrying out this slogan will eventually end in the disillusionment and dropping of morale if the campaign remains isolated and localised. We must beware of creating the false impression that by isolated local boycotts the Bantu Education Act can be defeated. The struggle is a long one and the people must see this campaign as all others, as a stage on the road to victory. Impatience will not bring victory nearer of its own. If the people do not all follow us, we must educate them to the point when they will. The total boycott will not be "proclaimed" by a certain date chosen on the calendar, but it will develop from local actions that spread, that join up and grow nationally. At the same time we must not deceive ourselves or the people into believing that in the immediate future we can, with our own resources, substitute a national education system. We have no state budget behind us. The average parent who follows our local call in the belief that his child will be given adequate alternative education will become disillusioned with the Congress if such education is not provided. He must act therefore out of political conviction, and he must be made aware of the sacrifice this campaign, as well as others for freedom, will entail.
Whatever difficulties have been revealed, in this campaign, however, the people have shown their rejection of Bantu Education, their readiness to fight it, and the correctness of the resolution of the last Annual Conference is beyond challenge. The fight against Bantu Education must go on. We must build steadily, carrying the people with us, exposing the wickedness of the new Bantu Education syllabus and the way the children are to be indoctrinated, achieving the boycott of the school boards and committees, adapting the form of protest to the state of preparedness in the area and the local conditions there.
WESTERN AREAS REMOVAL SCHEME.
In the field of resistance to apartheid we were faced with the removal of the Western Areas in Johannesburg from the very beginning of the year when the government was forced to change its tactics in the face of strong opposition to their plans. Early in the morning of the 9th February, the military trucks and more than 2000 police with military force standing by, were used in the forcible removal of the people. A state of emergency was declared for twenty days in Johannesburg and Roodepoort and a great indignation was aroused amongst the residents of the area. Thanks to the guidance of the ANC leadership, a blood-bath was avoided which the government had intended to bring about by its provocative action. Despite the forces, out of 150 families, 40 families refused to go to Meadowlands. Great credit is due to the Sophiatown people and our beloved volunteers who remained calm whilst struggling against the evil forces at the same time. Isitwalandwe Trevor Huddleston right through the day was amongst the people and participating in the "resistance".
Although certain concessions were extracted and the government`s task made difficult, we must admit that there were, however, mistakes committed and a great confusion created, the failure to indicate what type of action was to be taken and the creation of an impression in the propaganda campaign that the removal could have been stopped even in the face of military operation, in other words, the failure to indicate clearly that by not moving was meant that the people would not on their own free will move and also the failure to recognise that the appeal to landlords could not be exactly the same as the one to the tenants. The tenants were in need of better houses, especially those who lived under bad conditions, and the minimum unity between the two groups was not achieved. To call the campaign a failure, whilst recognising mistakes made, would be going to the other extreme.
ORGANISING THE PEASANTS.
The peasants and farm labourers in the countryside are amongst the most oppressed of our people. Hungry for land, denied security, harassed by the squatter`s act and cast adrift with their families when ejected from land they have tilled and reaped but cannot call their own, these people cry out for organisation and a lead on the issues which beset them.
The Congress of the People showed clearly that the great gap in our organisation is on the farms and in the Reserves.
We pass resolutions on the need to organise the peasantry, but fail to follow them up. The question of organising the peasants must be tackled with resolve and energy.
We greet the formation of the new peasants` movement, the Sebata Kgomo. Congress pledges all aid in the organising of the peasants and the people of the countryside and in the coming year must devote detailed attention to this task.
Strengthening the Trade Unions.
In South Africa the racial divisions of our society are reflected in the state of the trade union movement. Whilst in most countries the working people, irrespective of race or colour, unite in trade unions against the exploitation of the employing class, in South Africa the working class has been divided on colour lines. The fundamental principle of the unity of all workers against their common enemy - economic misery - has been diverted by the colour and race divisions of our country.
This is the factor chiefly responsible for the unhealthy development of South Africa`s trade union movement. These divisions have been the obstacle to the growth of a united front of all workers against the inroads being made on their rights. The division of the workers` organisations into watertight racial compartments has left them in a state of relative helplessness.
It is for these reasons that we welcome warmly the formation of the South African Congress of Trade Unions, a federal trade union body which will co-ordinate the activities of all workers, without consideration of their race or colour. This bold step ushers in a new era in the development of our trade union movement.
This new movement depends for its growth on the ANC building it in the residential areas, speaking about it in all our meetings and getting our members to be its organisers in the factories, on the farms, in the gold mine compounds, in the men`s and women`s hostels, in the vineyards and in the sugar plantations of Natal. We are called not only to assist the existing unions, as Chief Luthuli said last year, but also to assist in the establishment of new trade unions. It was the ANC which brought into existence the once militant Mine Workers` Union. This must come to life again. Farm labourers unions must be established to attend to the labourers` grievances and many other unions need the assistance from the African National Congress. Two [years] ago we made a demand of a minimum wage of one pound a day but that only remained on the paper. Something more positive is now required. We must see to it that the government does not freely play about with the workers` rights.
A strong trade union movement will mean a strong Congress movement, and the message of both the trade unions and the factories must be carried into every factory and workshop in the land.
THE WOMEN`S LEAGUE OF THE CONGRESS.
The women of the liberation movement have played an increasingly active and inspired role in the struggles of the past year.
This conference salutes the courageous and historic protest of the 1600 women who took their demands to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in October.
The women have been active on those major issues that most keenly affect them: Bantu Education, the threat of passes for women, the home, the children. the family.
They have administered to us all a lesson on how the peoples` daily needs can become the kernel of a united protest campaign so that even those not previously active in political affairs, feel compelled to join in.
The realities of apartheid under the Nationalists are being brought home to the women daily and their bitterness against site-and-service, Bantu Education, lack of schools and social services, is today rapidly reaching boiling point.
The Women`s League has grown rapidly. Our women are proving themselves brave and undaunted politicians. Yet the women need special attention and training to assist them to become leaders of the people. The Women`s League is not just an auxiliary to the African National Congress, and we know that we cannot win liberation or build a strong movement without the participation of the women.
We must therefore make it possible for women to play their part in the liberation movement by regarding them as equals, and helping to emancipate them in the home, even relieving them of their many family and household burdens so that women may be given an opportunity of being politically active. The men in the Congress movement must fight constantly in every possible way those outmoded customs which make women inferior and by personal example must demonstrate their belief in the equality of all human beings, of both sexes.
Through the Federation of South African Women, the Women`s Section of the Congress has taken part in militant actions with women of all races. This co-operation should be furthered and both the ANC Women`s League and the Federation strengthened by affiliation of the Women`s League to the Federation.
The Youth everywhere has always been in the vanguard in every struggle of a people. This was realised by the ANC when it resolved in 1943 to create an African Youth movement for the purpose of attending to the youth problems and a recruiting ground for the Liberation movement from which will arise the future leaders.
The African National Congress Youth League was thus formed as an auxiliary body to the African National Congress to undertake the above tasks. But although it has had its influence in the struggle yet it has not become a mass movement embracing all sections of our youth, workers, peasants, and intellectuals, in spite of the fact that it has been in existence now for ten years. Its relation with the ALEC. is far from satisfactory. This conference must give this matter its consideration. The youth must be directed to pay attention not only to the political, but more especially to the cultural, social and educational needs of our youth. Our youth must be properly guided and given necessary assistance. We highly appreciate the efforts of the ANCYL in the fight against Bantu Education, which was their special task during the period under review.
During the past year the Executive and the country were shocked by the sudden and severe illness of our President-General, Chief Luthuli. Thanks to the skill and care of the staff of McCord`s Zulu Hospital, the President-General regained his health though he is still not completely recovered. The thoughts of the African people were with Chief Luthuli all through his illness and it is with joy that we welcome him back among us again, where he continues to inspire and guide our organisation with his wisdom and foresight. Chief Luthuli is not just the President of the African National Congress but is a symbol of unity whose leadership and ability is recognised and accepted by all sections - a man who cannot basically be replaced. Professor Z. K. Matthews, Deputy President-General, acted for Chief Luthuli during his illness.
The Executive considered and approved the suggestion for the National Action Council to establish a title and award in our movement. "Isitwalandwe" is accepted as the highest award in our movement. It was further agreed that this award be bestowed on Chief Luthuli, the President-General of the African National Congress, Dr. Y. M. Dadoo, former President of the South African Indian Congress, and Father Huddleston, an Anglican Missionary whose unqualified association with the Congress movement and selfless devotion to the struggle earned him a high position in the South African society among all sections. These are the first three men to receive this highest award. It will also be given to the deserving cases in the near future. Your Executive recommends that people who received this title should also be accepted into position of Congress leadership [as] honorary members of the President-General`s Special Council.
EXECUTIVE MEETINGS AND COMPOSITION.
Your Executive during the period under review held five Executive meetings, three Joint Executive meetings and eight Working Committee meetings. This list of Executive members elected in 1952 and those who have been co-opted due to banning orders and failure of some others, is marked Annexure C. Mr. Maseko`s and Mr. Vundla`s names were removed from the members list on grounds of expulsion.
DEPORTATIONS AND BANS.
Among the peoples` leaders exiled from their homes during the year were Korea Monare, now confined in Vryburg, and Mrs. Silinga, deported from the Western Cape Province to the Transkei.
A number of Congress leaders have been banned from gatherings and prohibited from taking part in the work of the Congress.
The Bulletin has at last been created as the most indispensable method of bringing about co-ordination and consolidation of our organisation. This Bulletin is also introduced as a prelude to the coming into being of a Newspaper.
CO-ORDINATING MACHINERY WITHIN THE CONGRESS.
Since the Defiance Campaign which was conducted by the ANC and the SAIC, a unity of all democrats has grown and the scope of alliance has now embraced the four main sections of our community. This has been clearly demonstrated in the campaign for the great Congress of the People from which has come the Freedom Charter which must serve as a basis for unity - an acid test of our alliance.
As a result of which your Executive considered the advisability of the establishment of a permanent co-ordinating machinery of the African National Congress and its allies in view of the growing unity amongst all the people who are struggling against the oppression and white domination. As this involves the change of policy from that based on ad hoc committees of the past, your Executive now recommends that this principle be accepted and that all joint activities be conducted through this machinery subject to supervision by the National Executive only.
PROBLEMS AND TASKS OF ORGANISATION.
During the year your Executive examined the organisational machinery of Congress and it was felt that in order to end the present lack of co-ordination and co-operation between the National and Provincial offices on the one hand and between the Branches on the other, the suggested scheme of centralisation be implemented by taking practical steps to bring about close and direct contact between the National head of flee and its branches - provincial, regional and local branches. This could be done without in any way usurping the provincial rights to guide, supervise, and co-ordinate the work of its branches just as the provinces guide and supervise the branches without taking away the right of the region of co-ordinating the work of the branches. Any constitution of the ANC must of necessity take this into account.
It is clear that we have not been successful in getting both the provincial organisations and the branches to make a serious effort to remedy the weaknesses in the organisation. Efforts to raise the political and ideological level and to stimulate an interest in theory have not yet made any appreciable headway in our organisation. We can do no more here than refer the conference to our last year`s organisational plan:
It was further decided to recommend for consideration the principle of full-time Congress workers - the employment of officials and organisers in the national and provincial levels at present.
The National Executive Committee is to all intents and purposes isolated from the general stream of activities of the Congress as a result of not being kept in touch with day-to-day activities (developments) in the provinces.
The failure of the provinces in submitting reports and in implementing directives gives cause for perturbation. Can it be due to the weakness of organisation or are there other potent factors responsible for this?
Until we are sufficiently alive to our great task of raising our political propaganda and the organisational level of our members, until we have more than just mere sentiment and emotion for our cause, we will find it difficult to make headway. The weaknesses continue to exist because the people are politically backward. It must be appreciated that political and organisational problems are interwoven and are due to lack of unified theory, ideology. We should end this vicious circle by getting our people to discuss these problems from the lowest organs of the organisation to the highest; we must discourage all unprincipled discussions and unpolitical tendencies; we must teach ourselves to practice self-criticism and destroy individualism and conceit; we must tackle all the small issues affecting the people and pay attention to individual grievances of our members. We must study the literature which is now becoming abundant in the liberatory movement.
The national liberation movement has not yet succeeded in the organisational field in moving out of the domain of mass meetings and this type of public agitation. Mass gatherings and large public activities of Congress are important, but so is house-to-house work, the building of small local branches, the close contact with members and supporters, and their continual education in the aims and policies of the Congress movement. This is the true art of leadership; to have the branch and the local unit of Congress who issues directives, who acts on his own, who gives commands and does not consult and work within Congress democratic machinery, is a hindrance not an aid to our progress.
Congress branches and members have shown lack of discipline on some occasions.
In the Congress of the People campaign, although the African National Congress was responsible for the creation of the Congress of the People, many of its leaders and many of its branches showed a complete lack of activity as if some of them regretted the birth of this great and noble idea.
Congress propaganda has also been found wanting in the past year. If Congress material had reached the Transkei and the Ciskei as it should have done, the Bungas there would never have been taken in by the Bantu Authorities Act. Congress policy must be heard on every issue of concern to the people. The people are hungry to read, and in the coming year Congress must produce small booklets and leaflets, must use what bulletins and publications it can to carry its policy on the hundred and one vital problems confronting the people.
The problem of finance requires the immediate attention of the organisation. An organisation like the ANC cannot hope to execute the tasks that face it without sound financial resources. A machinery for the efficient raising and management of funds must be immediately set up. Owing to shortage of money, head of lice has experienced great set-backs in carrying out the work of administration. The problem of finance is inextricably bound up with that of organisation.
The in-coming Executive should set itself the task of raising an amount of ?15,000 during its term in office. This can be done.
The information from the Provinces has either been not adequate or has not reached this office, or has reached it late - although efforts have been made to communicate with the Provinces in time. As a result of this regrettable state of affairs the Provincial secretaries have been requested to submit supplementary reports dealing in particular with regional and branch activities and reflecting especially the following:
1. Organisational problems in the branches.
2. Numbers of branches and membership - total - Provinces.
3. Financial position of the Provinces.
4. Local and Provincial issues tackled.
We would, however, be failing in our duty if we did not express our high appreciation of the efforts made in the carrying out of our major campaigns during this period.
In the Anti-Removal campaign, in the Western Areas, the Anti-Bantu Education campaign, the campaign for the Congress of the People, there are regions and branches which distinguished themselves as a result of which they have emerged strong.
In conclusion, friends, we thank all those who made it their duty to put personal business aside in order to serve the nation during the period under review. We further call upon them in the coming year and upon all true patriots, all democrats, all lovers of freedom to resolve once more that South Africa shall become a free land, free from Nationalist tyranny and become a happy place for all to live in, during our lifetime.
O. R. Tambo