Memorandum submitted by the ANC to the UN`s Special Committee on the Policies of Apartheid of the Government of the Republic of SA
10 July 1963
Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Members of the Committee,
On behalf of the African National Congress and the oppressed and fighting people of South Africa we wish to express our appreciation to your committee for giving our organisation an opportunity to appear before you.
Our organisation, the African National Congress, is the oldest and largest national organisation of the African people of South Africa with an unimpeachable record of struggle for the freedom of our people. It was founded in 1912, shortly after the adoption of the colour bar constitution of 1910, to be the expression of African Nationhood and mouthpiece of the oppressed people and their instrument for their national emancipation. The African National Congress did its utmost to gain redress for the grievances of our people by legal, constitutional and peaceful means. Twice we went to White Hall, at a time when the British Government still had powers to disallow certain legislation in South Africa. We failed to get redress.
Hence progressively our organisation decided to rely on the resources and determination of our people. Mass movements against White domination and race discrimination developed and grew, reaching a high peak after the Second World War and particularly after the return to power of the Nazi-inspired Nationalist Party of South Africa. With fearlessness and courage we launched boycotts, protest demonstrations, strikes, passive resistance - but all in vain. The South African Government, instead of meeting the legitimate demands of our people for freedom, replied by whittling away the last remaining vestiges of civil rights in our country, by persecuting the leaders of our people, by making one repressive law after another, by banning passive resistance and preparing for civil war.
In 1960, our organisation was declared illegal. But we decided to defy the ban and to operate underground.
To us this is an historic occasion and one which reflects the tremendous changes which have taken place in the world and in the political outlook of this world organisation. In the past our people`s views could only reach the United Nations Organisation through written memoranda. We felt a deep sense of injustice that those who robbed us of our land and its wealth, who were withholding basic human rights from our people and who subjected us to the most intolerable oppression and humiliation were the ones who were given the right to be heard in the forums of this organisation. Our appearance here today inspires our people with the hope that this world organisation is on the verge of taking radical and unprecedented action to assist us in our struggle to wipe away the scourge of discrimination and apartheid from our country.
We have read the interim report of this distinguished committee which was adopted on the 6th May 1963. In our view it is an excellent document and there is very little to add to the latest information so ably and comprehensively dealt with in the report. We would like to underline the aspects referring to the explosiveness and urgency of the situation which is developing in our country. We do so because we are convinced that that is the crux of the matter.
Since its inception the United Nations Organisation has considered the situation in South Africa at almost every session of the General Assembly, and on several occasions in the Security Council. This Organisation has condemned the racial policies of the South African Government in stronger terms each year with the view to getting the Government to abandon its policy of White domination. Our organisation and our people wish to thank the United Nations Organisation for its efforts this far. However in spite of the growing condemnation of its policies and the intensified struggle of our people, the South African Government has contemptuously ignored all demands to revert to the path of sanity. And has instead stubbornly intensified its hated apartheid policies to the extent that today the situation has deteriorated that our country is on the brink of catastrophe and widespread civil strife.
In our view the situation in South Africa requires immediate action by members of this Organisation - any further delay will serve to increase the dimensions and the disaster of the impending civil strife in our country.
The White minority Government, ignoring the demands of our people and in complete defiance of world opinion, has now established a fully-fledged fascist state where the rule of law has been substituted by the gun and the baton. Peaceful acts of protest have been rendered illegal and punishable by long terms of imprisonment or death. Large groups of people are being uprooted in the most ruthless and provocative fashion. Thousands of people have been flung into gaol for demanding ordinary human rights. Some of the families of the leaders are held as hostages. Nevertheless these terrorist measures have failed to quell the struggle of the people under the leadership of the underground African National Congress. As a counter to the determination of our people, the Whites are now frantically arming themselves to the teeth. Violent repression is mounting. A civil war hysteria is being whipped up among the Whites. In this grim situation our people are determined to achieve their goal whatever the cost may be. They are prepared to meet armed repression with armed revolt.
In the impending civil strife in our country, certain Western Powers are deeply involved. They have already taken sides by shamelessly giving support and aid to the White racist Government, in the form of finance, arms, military training and technicians.
In our view these Western Powers have deliberately entered the arena of violent conflict in South Africa on the side of those who are trying to bludgeon our people into submission and to drown the country in blood. In this connection we would like to endorse the statement made by His Excellency the Vice-President of Tanganyika, Mr. R. M. Kawawa in his opening address to the Committee of the Organisation of African Unity in Dar es Salaam on the 25th of June 1963. Referring to the "unholy trinity" of South Africa, Portugal and the Central African Federation, he said:
"I said this unholy trinity has powerful friends and allies, who are these friends? I am told these friends and allies are the countries constituting the European Economic Community led by the United States and Great Britain. The last mentioned countries are the greatest friends of our enemies."
This is a culmination of the consistent pattern of conduct by these powers who have tried for many years in this very Organisation to shield the White racialists from criticism and to undermine and sabotage all efforts to secure effective international action against the White minority Government of South Africa. It is from this standpoint that we must try to understand the blatantly arrogant and defiant attitude of the White minority Government of South Africa.
In pursuance of their selfish interests these powers have deliberately fostered the illusion that the White Government in South Africa could be made to abandon its policies through gentle persuasion. But characteristic of their dishonesty, outside the forums of this Organisation, they did nothing even to carry out this method. They have craftily adopted certain strategems in this Organisation to make it merely a talking shop or a moralising institution. One of the ways in which they do this is to make loud denunciations of racialism and apartheid but end up by opposing any suggestion to assist in removing this scourge. Our test of honesty and seriousness of purpose is that there should be consistency in utterances and that action should be consistent with those utterances. Anything else is just shamefaced hypocrisy.
Dr. Verwoerd is so confident of and understands his Western allies so well that speaking on the possibility of United States military aid to African countries, he said in the House of Assembly in May 1962:
"How on earth can people say such things? Nobody considers that France or Britain will give such support. Why then the insult to the United States that it would indeed be receptive to such intentions? It must be borne in mind that, in spite of the fact that there are differences regarding our colour policy there are also vast plains of friendship and cooperation. Not only is there economic cooperation but this is also apparent in the sphere of research which at the moment holds the attention of the world namely in connection with satellites and related space objects. I do not allow myself to be told that the strategists of the United States will adopt the attitude that South Africa can nevertheless be thrown to the wolves or be swallowed up in the fluctuating ideological streams which, inspired partly by communism, flow across Africa, rather than accept her as being by nature, a safe and sure and permanent friend."
The question posed by the situation in South Africa is very clear. It is whether these powers continue to support the racialist wolves in our country as their "sure and permanent friend" or assist in destroying a system which daily constitutes an insult to all the people who are not White.
The racist Government of Dr. Verwoerd consistently boasts that it is the bulwark of the Whites, of Western democracy and also the reliable ally of these powers in Africa against what they call communists who to them are all those who are opposed to racialism, White domination and colonialism. This boast is intended to give morale to the White supporters of racialism and to spur them on to commit further outrages against our people.
Some of these powers state that their relationship with Dr. Verwoerd`s Government is one of trade and business only. Human memory is surely not so short that we cannot recall that whose who manufactured the gas ovens for Hitler`s death factories tried to cry innocently "business is business". Members of this Organisation should not allow themselves to be persuaded into believing that what is now taking place in South Africa between these powers is merely a question of business. Britain, France, Belgium, West Germany and the United States of America are supplying Dr. Verwoerd`s Government with the wherewithal to maintain its regime and to crush the liberation struggle. They are behaving in this way because they have a huge stake in the economy of the country.
Britain has invested about 1,000 million pounds. Other countries like France, West Germany and Switzerland control twenty percent of the country`s foreign investments. The U.S.A. has invested 700 million dollars which is 17 percent of the foreign investments. The extent to which these countries have been committed to support Verwoerd`s apartheid and racialism is nowhere more frankly admitted than in a publication by British manufacturers entitled "The British Stake in South Africa", issued in 1962.
In the preface to the book it is stated that:
"It is also intended to emphasise the damage that could befall the people of Great Britain if the demands from certain quarters for a trade boycott were satisfied."
The booklet opens with the following significant statement:
"The British stake in South Africa is immense."
And, further, the booklet says:
"Yet even these outward size by no means reveal the full extent of the British footing in the Republic."
The booklet goes on:
"There is hardly an industry in which there is not some money subscribed by British firms, members of the public and to a smaller extent the British Government. In mining our stake is nearly three hundred million pounds. In manufacturing it exceeds two hundred and forty-three million. In wholesaling and retaining it is a hundred and twenty-five million pounds. In insurance, it is more than twenty-one million pounds.
"Of all individual countries in which we hold private direct investment, South Africa last year was the one from which we drew the biggest returns."
The reason, of course, why investments in South Africa yielded such high returns is because of the ruthless system of exploitation, of cheap and forced labour to which the Africans are subjected. White domination guarantees the perpetuation of this system and the high returns. Is it not clear therefore that the pouring in of arms into South Africa is intended to defend and perpetuate these high returns?
One of the hypocritical arguments of some of these powers who want to protect their lucrative investments from economic sanctions and to perpetuate their interests in the country, is that the African people will suffer most. We would like to expose this ridiculous argument. The whole history of our country under White domination demonstrates that our people have suffered more brutal oppression and exploitation in direct proportion to the economic prosperity of the country. Let us consider this in relation to political rights. In the mid-nineteenth century when South Africa was a poor agricultural country, in the Cape Province the Africans were accepted on the common voters roll on the same qualifications as the Whites. After the discovery of gold and diamonds and with the growth of economic prosperity, African political rights were frozen by the constitution of 1910. No further extensions of franchise rights were made. With the development of the secondary industry, during the first World War and when it started to flourish in the nineteen thirties the right to vote was extended to White women. Almost simultaneously in 1936 the few Africans who remained on the common roll were removed from it by what is popularly known as the Hertzog Bills. The Africans were given three White representatives to be elected on a communal basis in a White Parliament of 155. South African economy continued to prosper, secondary industry developed rapidly and one would have supposed that the political conditions of Africans would improve but at the very time when South Africa was becoming most prosperous and had become an industrial giant in Africa, Dr. Verwoerd and his Government not only removed the Coloured people (people of mixed descent) from the common roll and at the same time extended the vote to White eighteen-year-old youngsters. From the political point of view therefore the economic prosperity of South Africa growing as it does on the foundations of racialism has meant a diminishing of political rights for the African people and other Non-Whites and a concentration of political power in the hands of the Whites.
One need hardly mention that the diminishing of political rights has been accompanied by the most ruthless suppression of political activity. This is not only confined to the question of political rights but economic and educational opportunities have also been whittled away in direct proportion to economic prosperity. To illustrate this, when secondary industry developed, African women were freely employed as machinists in factories, and African men were employed amongst other things as liftmen. But as industry developed and flourished, a job reservation law was introduced whose purpose was to exclude African women from skilled and semi-skilled work of the type they were doing as machinists. Today even jobs in lifts are reserved for Whites only. This is no accident. White domination is based on the greed of the Whites and with the growth of prosperity in the country that greed grows proportionately.
White supremacy means privileges, rights and luxury for the Whites, exploitation, poverty and suffering for the Non-Whites. The more wealth there is the more the Whites appropriate it to themselves.
The truth of the matter is that the people who will suffer are those who have got an immense stake in the economy of the country and who are making fabulous profits through the maintenance of White supremacy. Let us give a few instances of these profits.
The Anglo-American Corporation Limited, a company with vast mining interests, has a capital of seven and three quarter million pounds but in 1961, its profits were 8.4 million pounds. The Union Corporation has one and a quarter million pounds as capital and in 1961 alone, its profits were five times its capital - 6.4 million pounds. It is interesting to note that the chairman of this corporation is Sir Charles Hambro of Hambro`s Bank who is also a director of the Bank of England. Not a single African is a shareholder of these companies.
Even if, however, there is a certain amount of suffering among the Non-Whites caused by economic sanctions this would be short-lived, self-imposed and with the purpose of wiping off this immoral system once and for all.
Britain, France, Belgium and West Germany are pouring money and arms into South Africa which will be used against the African people. In addition certain elements in Britain and France are collaborating with the White racialists in our country to convert the country into an arsenal by building armament factories. The 78 million pounds per annum which Mr. Verwoerd`s Government is spending to fortify his obnoxious regime goes to swell the coffers in these countries.
Certain countries, particularly the United States of America, want to hide behind the excuse that the arms which they supply to South Africa are purely for defence purposes and not for use in the implementation of apartheid and in the maintenance of police and internal security. We reject this explanation.
It is well known that in March 1961, the Minister of Defence of South Africa, declared that South Africa must prepare for internal trouble in the same way as the major powers are continually preparing for war. And later the same Minister admitted that the basic strategy of his Government was:
"The maintenance of peace and order internally is the main requirement of any operation against aggression."
Internal security and what is referred to as defence are completely integrated. This is illustrated by the fact that the police force forms part of the defence force. As the Minister of Defence stated:
"As with the defence force, the police must be equipped with the most modern equipment to crush any threat to internal security."
A demonstration that the building up of the military force of the country is purely in the interests of maintaining White domination is the fact that only Whites are being armed. If this was a genuine question of defence of the country, surely it is not expected that the Africans should be completely exposed to this mythical aggression and left unarmed.
Apart from the fact that this pouring in of arms into South Africa seriously affects the balance of military forces on the continent of Africa and so constitutes a menace to the security of African states, it also equips South Africa to resist the United Nations Organisation`s resolutions in so far as South West Africa is concerned. In July 1961, when the nine-man United Nations South West Africa Committee planned to visit South West Africa, according to press reports at the time men and helicopters of the South African defence force were deployed along the South West Africa-Bechuanaland border forcibly to prevent their entry. The Johannesburg Sunday Times of March 11th, 1962, carried the headline: "Hot reception awaits United Nations Committee". And it went on to allege that Nationalist Party officials were privately boasting of military plans to meet the committee.
Effective action against South Africa requires a new spirit and a new attitude towards South Africa and her supporters. It is a spirit which was so precisely expressed by Mr. R. M. Kawawa, the Vice-President of Tanganyika, in the speech already referred to when he said: "We must warn here that in the coming struggle we are not going to compromise. One is either for us or against us. There is no half way. In this question there can be no room for neutrality or non-alignment."
In this connection we welcome the lead and mood of the African States which was demonstrated at the recent Summit Conference held at Addis Ababa and should particularly like to express our appreciation of the action taken under the leadership of the African states at the recent I.L.O. Conference.
We believe that the following steps are urgent and vital in the struggle against apartheid and white racialism in South Africa:
1. The immediate and rigid implementation of the resolutions of the Seventeenth Session of the United Nations [General Assembly] by all countries without exception.
2. We demand that those countries already referred to in this text as having involved themselves on the side of our oppressors be called upon to withdraw forthwith from the arena of conflict in our country and that they should be specifically indicted in the forums of this Organisation.
3. As a first step in the process of securing those bodies and organisations which deliberately flout the decision of this Organisation by giving support and aid to the White racists in South Africa, we propose that a blacklist of companies such as De Beers Limited, African Explosives and Chemical Industries and others which collaborate with the South African Government in the manufacture of ammunition in the country should be compiled. Members of this Organisation should be called upon to sever relations with these companies.
4. We express our deep disgust with the conduct of an Afro-Asian nation, the Japanese Government, which has accepted the humiliating concessions of having its citizens classified white in South Africa for selfish trading purposes and has arrogantly flouted the decisions of the United Nations. We call upon the United Nations to urge Japan to put an end to this trade.
5. Some small amount of trade has also been conducted between South Africa and some of the Socialist countries. We urge the United Nations to call upon these countries to cut off even this negligible trade.
It is our conviction that whenever men of decency, of conscience and morality assemble, whether it be the international councils of nations, or sports fields or in the halls of culture, the racist monster of South Africa and those who represent it should be snubbed and excluded. It must be treated as a political leper because it sallies and infects all those who associate with it. More specifically, and as a lead to the whole world, the white racist Government of South Africa should be expelled from the United Nations Organisation forthwith.
Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the committee,
Our organisation and our people are confident that if the racists of our country are completely isolated and deprived of the spiritual and material support which they receive from the international trade and intercourse, white domination will be like a tree without roots which can then be easily uprooted by the storm of our people.
Finally, Mr. Chairman and Your Excellencies, permit us through you to thank sincerely all those states in Africa, Asia and other parts of the world who have responded positively to our appeals for assistance and support. Our thanks also go to all those public organizations and trade union movements in Europe and America which have supported our cause.
We call upon the United Nations to demand the immediate release of all political prisoners languishing in South African gaols; to demand a lifting of the banning orders in terms of which many opponents of the Verwoerd Government have been either confined to certain areas or placed under house arrest; to demand freedom of all those who have been placed in concentration camps or banished to remote parts of South Africa.