Chapter Four - The Years with the CPSA: 1925 - 1935

From the book: Johnny Gomas Voice of the working class: A political Biography by Doreen Musson

The existence of a large number of unskilled and unemployed "poor whites" posed a danger to the state and to the process of capital accumulation. It impressed upon the state and capitalists the need for co-optive strategies. The danger that white militancy might show solidarity with the black workers led the state to intervene instrumentally "to ensure the assignment of white rather than black agents to particular places in the division of labour", while it also created industrial relations apparatuses whose function was to "isolate and contain the struggles of the white earning classes".

The Pact government of 1924 not only pledged to protect the fledging industries, and intervene in the provision of infrastructural requirements for industry (Iscor was established for example and protective tariffs were instituted for a wide range of local products), but it aimed to neutralise white militancy and to gain support of all white classes in order to maintain its control over the black working class.

Mechanised production, as against artisanal skills, increasingly developed, with machines replacing those old craft skills, a process resisted by white artisans who now saw the unskilled black worker as an even greater threat. The emergence of machino-facture on a large scale accelerated the increase in the size of the black proletariat, with the white workers gradually assuming more and more supervisory roles, thus increasing their "structural insecurity". White workers were in direct competition with black workers. Caught between white capital and black labour, white workers tried to exclude blacks from certain places in the labour market by setting up colour bars to protect themselves against displacement in certain job categories, and establishing a standard wage in certain jobs, while many white trade unions, resisting "deskilling", produced strongly anti-black worker policies.

The Pact's Industrial Conciliation Act established machinery for the negotiation of labour disputes but excluded pass-bearing African men from its provisions; while the civilized Labour Policy was to ensure the alliance of the white classes to the state and capital. All these developments made cooperation between white and black workers very difficult. Increased proletarianization of the South African social formation did not logically assume a homogeneity of the under the working class as a political entity. Racial (and regional union antagonisms within the working class were deeply rooted in the historical conditions of the workers.

It was his incurable optimism and his determination to make CPSA the vanguard party which led Gomas largely to ignore the anti-black attitudes and social exclusivism of the white unions. He believed that sooner or later the white and black workers would be forced together by harsh capitalist development. In all his writings via the pages of Umsebenzi, he emphasised the temporary nature of the obstacles to class solidarity. This belief was not altogether naive next there were times when, objectively, the interest of white and black cone coincided. And what was more, as far as Gomas was concerned, no viable alternative to the CPSA was present at the time. But Gomas was in one respect fundamentally different from the Buntings and Roux's. As a class-conscious black worker, he added another dimension to the perception of the struggle by putting the black "The workers unreservedly at the centre of the stage. He rejected totally workers the view that the white workers were the main revolutionary force.

The CPSA, in his opinion, could only become a real (as opposed to a symbolic) people's party, a vanguard party, if led by blacks. The Black Republic Slogan contributed much to reinforce this view and undoubtedly helped to strengthen the confidence of blacks in the CPSA generally. At the CPSA conference in January 1929, Gomas apparently openly questioned the white leadership in the Party, a fact that seemed rather underplayed by Umsebenzi. By December 1930 blacks were in the majority on the executive of the CPSA. The new black executive had been preceded by an influx; of black members. Gomas brought in many black recruits, among whom Moses Kotane, future secretary-general of the CPSA was probably the most important. The years 1926 to 1929 saw goto travelling all over the country, recruiting for the Party, organising workers into trade unions and propagating the idea of a Black Republic. It was a journey fraught with hazards, threats, and police intimidation and physical attacks. For example, there was an incident when an African woman had been shot through the neck the Germiston location. This happened during a time of pro against unemployment and police persecution, just after the Nationalist Party victory (for the second time) in June 1929. The protest was part of the CPSA programme of opposing white supremacy and of recruiting for the Party. On a Sunday afternoon Gomas, Eddie Roux, Willy Kalk, Hilda Sacks, Dias Nthlomo Anna Spilcken went to hold a protest meeting outside the location after the superintendent had refused them permission to enter fight broke out amongst opponents of the superintendent opponents of the meeting. Gomas and Roux were beaten with sticks, the former until he was unconscious, while Dias Nthlomo goes away because "he was a good stone-thrower".

In the period after the watershed year of 1924, white trade unions under the Trade Union Congress rejected cooperation with black unions. One month after the expulsion of the CPSA members from the (CD, the first industrial unions for black workers were formed. Working from the offices of the CPSA, unions were formed in the laundry, baking, clothing, mattress and furniture industries. In 1928 these unions combined to form the non-European Trade Union Federation with a membership of 10 000. Although a separate federation of trade unions "mirrored the white workers' racial exclusivism and represented a significant departure from the communist ideal of inter-racial solidarity", it paved the way for the next period during which Gomas and other "nationalists" concentrated on the unity of blacks. It was the Civilized Labour Policy, Gomas stated, which further bedevilled relations between black and white workers. In an article, entitled "Civilized White Labour Policy: An Exposure" Gomas attempted to explain the nature of the policy, introduced by the Pact government in 1924 :

"The ruling class," he explained, was "... compelled to change their policy and outlook of retaining a 'white aristocracy of labour' in order to place the ruling class in a strategical position so as to perpetuate their system of exploitation and oppression. Faced with the economic crisis, with the black and white workers demanding work and the poor whites increasing to one third of the white population the government was compelled to adopt this policy. Since the white workers were strategically better off by enjoying a greater degree of democratic rights than non-Europeans, the government naturally saw that it was a better tactful policy to win over the white workers onto their side by securing them employment." This policy was, he said "... having the psychological effect on the white workers to increase their social prejudice, to make them think that they are superior to native and Coloured workers. That is how the COLOUR BAR, PREJUDICE and RACE HATRED are innoculated into the white workers, thus causing disunity in the ranks of black and white workers. "

In 1930 the Federation rid itself of the leadership of Weinbren and Thebedi. These two were pioneers in the black trade union movement in the late 'twenties. They were strong opponents of the Black Republic slogan, an opposition which eventually led to their expulsion from the CPSA. With them out of the Federation, the latter became the African Federation of Trade Unions (AFTU). The stated aims of AFTU were: a 48-hour working week and equality of opportunity for all irrespective of colour. It was also clearly formed in opposition to the Trade Union Congress (TUC). Under the wing of the CPSA, AFTU became a broad militant movement which played a significant role in the CPSA programme of "Direct Action" and in the propagation of the Black Republic slogan.

The Great Depression produced great problems for the Party. There was massive unemployment amongst all sections of the working class. According to the Department of Labour statistics, by September 1933, approximately 22 percent of all white and coloured males were officially registered as unemployed, while 30 percent of white families were classified as "poor" and one-sixth as "very poor". (Figures for African unemployment do not exist.) However, the Pact government had to ensure that the pernicious consequences of the tools crisis were softened for its supporters. The Civilized Labour Policy which was a result of white unemployment made sure that the blacks were hired last and thousands were sacked to make way for 'poor whites'. Harsh laws were also enacted to curb the struggle of the oppressed. The times called for sound leadership, solidarity and come mass action. But these qualities were sorely lacking in all the major organisations of the oppressed. The ANC found itself strangled by the conservative and sectarian leadership. At a meeting held in Cape Town in June 1930, a resolution was moved to bar CPSA members from speaking on the Congress platform. The rank and file objected, encouraging Gomas, who spoke from the floor, to remain on his feet. There could be no doubt about the courage and latent talents (as a public speaker) of Gomas. In passionate and convincing style, he captivated the audience, to the great annoyance of 'Professor Thaele and his associates who represented the conservative element in the ANC. "We like to hear Gomas speak," said one "Heard Gomas say that we should burn the passes and that we should fight against the slave laws. I see nothing wrong in to replied another. But Thaele had won: the resolution was passed.

Opting for 'active extremism' and for a Black Republic Gomas, Tonjeni, Leepile and Ndobe formed the Independent A tried to (I- ANC) and began organising workers from Worcester to Carnavon. In November 1930 the Manifesto of the I-ANC was issued, in the preamble the architects of the I-ANC protested against the repressive legislation aimed at the annihilation of the African -liberation movement..." and against the "good boy leadership" in the ANC which "has become a mere tool of the government, sabotaging the attempts of the masses to free themselves". It further stated that: Therefore, we the suffering masses, declare that the time has come for the formation of a militant African liberation movement which will not bow the knee to British and Boer imperialism, but will lead the oppressed slaves of Africa in earnest struggle against the Pirowcratic Government of South Africa and its obnoxious laws. For Gomas and other ANC radicals such as Tonjeni and Ndobe, a militant programme was needed to fight what Gomas called Thaelopirowism.

The programme of the I-ANC, having as its ultimate objective the liberation of the African people, pledged to assist all African trade unionism in its efforts to improve the conditions of the African workers and to fight unemployment and wage cuts. Further militant struggle was to be waged against the Government under the slogan of a Black Republic: "... by means of agitation and mass demonstrations and organisation aimed at securing a generation stoppage of work and civil disobedience..." This general striker to begin on Dingaan's Day, often referred to as African Liberation Day by organised blacks and whites. It had become a recognised occasion for counter-demonstrations by blacks to the usual 'Great trek' celebrations of the Afrikaners. It was decided that on this day tools would be downed and passes burnt as the first stage of the campaign of civil disobedience. The programme also demanded: return of the land to Africans, abolition of all colour bar and pass laws, equal voting rights for all men and women, the right of non-whites to sit in parliament, abolition of the Act of Union, free compulsory primary education for all children irrespective of colour, admission of all non-whites to all high schools and universities and the abolition of the white jury system. The ANC was supported by the CPSA. Indeed some of the founder members were CPSA members.

While Tonjeni and Ndobe were taking parts of the countryside by storm Gomas concentrated on the towns, particularly Cape Town. Together with Ray Alexander, he was organising the crayfish workers of Port Nolloth and the canning workers in Wellington. He '; and La Guma (who was re-instated on application) were involved in forming trade unions on a joint income of four pounds ten shillings a month probably paid for by the Party since "it is doubtful whether Gomas as secretary received a wage from the G.W.U.".

In conditions of widespread depression, the scope for economic achievements by trade unionism was limited. If this was so for the white unions, it was more so for black unions. The Party bravely tried to apply its Programme of Direct Action. The League of African Rights launched this programme and the action envisaged included a petition for civil rights and anti-pass demonstrations. Gomas hammered the programme home through the channels of the black unions, especially since the white unions under the TUC rejected any cooperation with black unions. March 6, 1931 was International Day of Struggle Against Unemployment, with the main CPSA slogans being; One Day Strike; Burn All Passes; Against Unemployment; For Land to the Africans; Against Native Bills; For a Black Republic. On this day, while a division of Parliament was in progress, Gomas and Roux staged a demonstration from the public gallery and pelted the members with leaflets. In the stunned silence that followed, Gomas in thunderous voice spat venom against the honourable members and their laws. No details of his speech have been recorded. Official records only refer to a "scuffle" in the house and the "need for some force". For the umpteenth time in his life, physical force had to be used to stop Gomas. Many years later, he, with wry humour, remembered that although he and H F Verwoerd shared a birth year and even though he had spoken in Parliament long before Verwoerd "came into politics", Verwoerd still became Prime Minister of South Africa before him.

Proceeding with the Programme of Direct Action, May Day saw an unprecedented "multi-racial demonstration" of persons shouting "We want bread, work or wages" and in a hand-to-hand fight between police and demonstrators at the Rand Club, four whites and two Africans were arrested, with Issy Diamond, one of the leaders of the unemployed, being sentenced to 12 months hard labourer. Encouraged by these examples of unity between black and white the CPSA declared countrywide strikes for August 1,1931 which did not materialise because, as Party members in Durban said, we must have arms. It is no use being killed without weapons." These CPSA strategies of 'direct action' have been subjected to much criticism and have been described as "suicidal". But for Gomas and his Party, mobilisation of 'the masses' was an important element and tactic of the struggle.

Militant action by Party members in the Cape persisted throughout stat the year. Through 1930 and 1931 Oswald Pirow, Minister of Justice" org used the legal powers at his command to decimate Party branches in the Western Cape, as well as in Durban. The strike of few in the coloured Garment Workers Union in Cape Town was one of the few relative successes of the Programme of Direct Action. The strike in was significant in a number of ways: it demonstrated attempts by the CPSA to transform itself into a fighting 'people's' revolutionary party, based on trade unions (also peasant organisations); it was also attempt by Gomas and his Party to forge national unity by cooperating with Transvaal unions (in this case the Garment Workers) which were then involved with strike action. The strike must also be seen as a high water mark of protest against the super-exploitation in the tailoring and clothing industry.

Attempts by persons such as Gomas and E S Sacks at forming a national garment workers union date to 1927 when Gomas became the main contact in Cape Town for the Transvaal Garment Workers Union. In a letter to Glass, Gomas was clearly concerned with "the present chaotic state of the tailoring industry" as well as with the need for a national body and the fact that "we are not leading ourself (sic)". A public meeting of tailoring and garment workers in February 1930 in Cape Town led to the formation of a rival body to the Garment Workers Union (an affiliate of the Cape Federation of Labour Unions) called the South African Garment Workers Union (SAGWU) with Gomas as part-time secretary at a salary of 10 pounds a month.

During the depression years the scope of trade unionism was limited and the possibility of building up a rival union of garment workers was nearly impossible. Attempts at national organisation were further bedevilled by a demonstration of the Transvaal Garment Workers outside the premises of a Johannesburg to which was reported in the press to have been prompted by a policy of the firm of "sending most of its orders to Cape Town to be made up by cheap coloured labour with the result that a large number of Joh'burg (sic) garment workers had been deprived of livelihood".

In typical fashion Gomas set out to admonish his colleagues since it was not"... for class-conscious workers or leaders of workers to stigmatise cheap labour as Coloured cheap labour, in particular when speaking to a European public who is already saturated with colour prejudice. The work is done in Cape Town by cheap unorganised labour.... kick against capitalism not against colour". In their reply the GWU (Transvaal) explained that they had been misreported and that the Cape Argus would be approached with regard to publishing the "correct version".

The most important obstacles to the growth of the SAGWU, Gomas reported, were the facts that many garment workers in Cape Town were either on short time or unemployed while manufacturers had not the least regard for wage determination: "Of course this state of affairs has been rendered possible by the lack of effective organisation among the workers." At the same time Gomas was acutely conscious of the lack of funds and other material resources in the building of trade unions in Cape Town and he was not slow to point out to his colleagues in the Transvaal that the garment workers in Cape Town were earning "approximately 100 to 200 percent lower than the Joh'burg workers...". He thus urged them to assist with the "campaign of organisation" which the SAGWU was to embark on by providing moral and financial assistance. The "campaign of organisation" was part of the Programme of Direct Action and included the strike in Roeland Street. The strike at the African Clothing Factory in Roeland Street was the first demonstration of what the CPSA called 'militant Red trade union' activity. The strike was fired by the refusal of the garment workers at the factory to accept a wage-cut of 10 shillings a week, as well as by the retrenchment of 28 workers. Strike action was called, starting in the last week of August 1931.

For Gomas it was essential "to organize strongly and to resist the systematical attack on ... conditions and to follow the lead of the Johannesburg workers". The day after the announcement of the retrenchments an "inciting leaflet" was issued by Gomas on behalf of the SAGWU, calling and urging on the workers to take strike action. A subsequent meeting was poorly attended "but the most qualified and experienced workers attended ... and expressed themselves very militantly. All the workers present joined the union and pledged themselves to do their utmost best to persuade the others to join up and prepare for a strike. A vigorous resolution has been passed, refuting all the arguments advanced by the bosses justifying the cut and threatening to prepare for action." During the next few days meetings were held at the factory during lunch times, with many workers joining SAGWU. A 'packed meeting' at the Fidelity Hall brought many more workers into the union. The Transvaal union honoured its promises to Gomas of assistance in the form of two officials and contributions to the strike fund which certainly contributed to the actual carrying out of the strike. The approximately 150 strikers (out of a workforce of about 350 at the factory) were having daily meetings which drew more support and members for the SAGWU. When scab labour was transported by car to the factory, the strikers adopted different tactics. From September 1 picket lines were set up. Tempers flared when scabs were escorts by policemen and there were scenes of stone-throwing. The strike lasted two weeks. The white Cape Garment Workers Union, an affiliate of the Cape Federation of Labour Unions, public denounced the strike as "unjustified in the time of depression". But the strike was a heroic struggle of the workers against the bosses, the Labour Department, the trade union bureaucrat; "misleaders" (a favourite term of Gomas for non-worker and reactionary leaders), and the police.

Four men - Gomas, Lazar Bach, Allie Salaam, Alie Safodien -an six women - Jane Maywan, Mary Goodman, Joey Spreeth, Grace Adams, Connie Stellenkamp and Deborah Alexander - were charged with public violence arising out of alleged stone-throwing episodes at the time of the strike.

Appearing in court before Mr. J H Hotson, Gomas was singled m for the sharp tongue of the magistrate after the chief state witness} Head Constable Scheepers, testified that: "Gomas appeared tote the leader ... and began throwing stones at one of the cars. The first stone Gomas threw hit a car as the people were getting out s broke the glass of the window." The constable further testified that when arrested, Gomas had eight stones in the pockets of his overcoat, which he must have brought with him since there were "no stones in the immediate vicinity".

Insisting on his right to speak in his defence, Gomas with typical fearlessness, did not spare police or court bureaucrat. Probably sensing the revolutionary frame of mind behind the fearlessness, Mr. Hotson rejected the evidence of Gomas in toto. "Then we come to the secretary of the strikers' organisation, John Gomas. I cannot believe anything he said in the witness box. One cannot pay attention to his evidence and I can pay less attention to his attempts to disparage Major Boston and the police". Gomas was fined'', pounds or 14 days hard labour; La Guma, 5 pounds or 7 days (ate the magistrate had likened him to a "captain deserting his sinking ship"); Safodien and Bach were each fined 4 pounds or 7 days and the women 2 pounds or 7 days. Mr. Hotson added that the workers "would be well advised to replace Gomas as secretary by so' reputable person". Gomas was then charged and found guilty perjury and sentenced to three months' hard labour. It meant another few months on a cold damp prison floor with a single blanket as cover. For Gomas these hardships were beginning to take their toll on his health. He contracted pleurisy while in prison and it was only the painstaking and determined efforts of Ray Alexander which finally persuaded him to accept a medical visit from Dr Abdurahman whom he despised as "that arch-lackey of the ruling class" and whom he initially refused to see. Abdurahman succeeded in having him transferred to Somerset Hospital where he recovered by the end of September 1932.

Gomas was a very disciplined activist and had, by now, a clear vision of the kind of world he wanted to create. For Gomas in the 1930s and 1940s trade unions remained by far the best "schools of war" for the working class. He saw significant revolutionary potential in trade union activity, but with certain provisos: trade unions had to function under the direction of a revolutionary party. This undoubtedly was one reason why he never deserted the CPSA. But being a worker himself, he also knew from practical experience that the primary function of trade unions was to improve wages and working conditions. Completely aware of the fact that competition among workers destroyed their strength and thus the working class, his keywords in his trade union organisation were always:

unity, collective action and militant leadership.

His tireless efforts to rid unions of divisive and reactionary "boss tool leaders who lull the workers to sleep and inactivity" became a crusade: "Do not depend on 'leaders', Conciliation Boards, Wage Boards, Industrial Councils, to fight your cause. Only through your own organised militant and active force can you protect your interests." One of his greater victories was certainly the defeat of Robert Stuart as secretary of the Tram and Bus Workers Union and 01 me Cape Federation of Labour Unions. "Trade Union Misleader Removed by Rank and File" and "Misleader Not Wanted" were epitaphs given by him to Stuart. Such victories, Gomas claimed, "would bring the day nearer when the workers will destroy the entire power of the capitalist slave drivers". His passionate belief in the revolutionary potential of the workers often led him to blame "the leadership" for all weaknesses and mistakes, while romanticising the working class. He fiercely and fearlessly denounced anything or anybody that seemed to contradict his philosophy. He used every opportunity to propagate his ideas, even if it meant responding to the statements and pronouncements of recognised reactionary persons or institutions. A case in point was his attack on the ultra-conservative Cape Town newspaper, The Sun. When the editor of the The Sun, Booker Lekay, who professed to be an advocate of Christian Communism, rejected the strike as a weapon and pleaded for peaceful negotiation between employers and workers since "the interests of each is the interest of all", Gomas set out to chastise him. "Our friend in his article expressed quite a number of jewel (sic), confusing and illogical reasonings which is characteristic of people who want to find a 'middle course' to the ill of capitalist society and who are unable to see as yet in operation the class war between the working class and capitalist exploiters". A person who wanted to be understood by the masses should express his/her demands clearly and precisely. It was Lekay's "middle course" that prevented him from doing so. "How can the workers see their way when the employers and the community are bundled together without defining the distinct and irreconcilable class interests of the employers and the workers?"

Gomas continued that it was "misleaders" such as Lekay who impeded the unity, clarity and success of the workers, who were laced with an "indivisible class united front". It was this nature of the class enemy that forced the working class to have more than one weapon in their armoury, according to Gomas. Apart from the strike, Gomas advocated, "constitutional methods must also be used the same way as the capitalists do". On this score, Gomas had in the mind Industrial Courts, Wage Boards, and even the "hateful system" of Separate Representation through which CPSA candidates could be voted into Parliament. "But above all, it must be understood that might is right' and not the other way about. This MIGHT lies outside the Parliament and not inside, as is proved all over the world." How this extra-parliamentary might could be applied, he did not spell out then. Instead, he threw in his weight behind the anti-fascist policy projected by the Comintern in the years 1933 - 35. For his Party fascism was the new enemy and was a danger to all in South Africa.

The triumph of Nazism in Germany, its brutality, racism and savagery struck a chord of protest among the oppressed in South Africa. At the same time Nazism brought to the surface much of the dormant racism among Afrikaner Nationalists. This was shown in the campaigns and slogans of, for example, the Greyshirts, a South African version of the German Nazi Party; while Hertzog, as prim minister, condemned an economic boycott of German goods. The organised response of the oppressed was mirrored in the ant fascist campaigns of the CPSA. The League Against Fascism and War was established in March 1934. It consisted of trade unionists-CPSA members, Labour Party members and the Friends of the Soviet Union. Black national organisations, for example the ANC and what was left of the ICL), continued their anti-CPSA position and were left out. The 'Rape of Ethiopia' brought a reinforced spirit of rebellion among many sections of the oppressed. In 1936 Italian soldiers attacked Abyssinia, one of the few countries in Africa that remained untouched by the 'scramble for colonies'. The atrocities committed by the fascist soldiers, which included the use of poll gases and the rape and murder of civilians, caused an international outcry.

At a CPSA mass meeting in 1935 in Cape Town a resolution against the Italian State and against the shipping of foodstuffs the Italian troops from South Africa was proposed by Gomas and passed unanimously. Gomas continued, calling upon the dockets to organise and to stop any shipment of food for the "... Italian robbers who are out for imperialist aggrandisement at the expense of the Abyssinian people". "Abyssinia," he said, "is the only independent African state still left and the imperialist robbers have agreed air themselves to divide it in order to be able to get out of their difficulties by imposing colonial super-exploitation on the Abyssinia masses ... Defend the Independence-of Abyssinia and fight for your own liberation'."

For Gomas and others, fascism was not new to blacks in South Africa, who had been living in concentration camps all their lives. In 1934 the National Party and the South African Party had formed an alliance after Smuts and the liberals had dropped their opposition to the Hertzog Bills (which in 1924 they had sworn to fight to the death in the defence of democracy!). This alliance committed itself to a civilized labour policy for white workers and to separate representation for blacks. It was this alliance which was the vehicle which helped transport the whites out of the depression, so that by 1940 the poor white problem had disappeared. For the Party, the logical response to this alliance was a counter-alliance between the other two parties in South Africa, namely the CPSA and the SALP. Although sceptical about such an alliance (he had always attacked and rejected the SALP) Gomas, who was openly committed to the CPSA and personally involved and active in it, echoed the Party line. He was one of the few of the old stalwarts left in the leadership of the Party and would not desert it. "Black and White Workers Driven to the Gutter", "White Workers, Wake Up" - this was how Gomas was pleading for black-white unity via the pages of Umsebenzi . The pleas fell on deaf ears and Gomas's idealism was severely knocked. Plagued by such serious internal problems within the Party, it also had to contend with an "outside" body, namely, the Comintern, which claimed to know what was best for all its affiliates.

In Wolton's absence, Lazar Bach and Joffe tried to maintain the "Bolshevist line" on the Politbureau of the Party, thus perpetuating the rift within the bureau. Thus the rift between the hardliners, i.e. those who accepted Comintern instructions unquestioningly, and the 'nationalists' i.e. those who believed that local conditions should determine strategies, did not stop with the departure of the Woltons. At the 7th Congress of the Comintern in 1935, another new line was offered: a People's Front Line. (This line is discussed more fully in Chapter 5.) Gomas, Kotane and Roux then sent an urgent telegram to Moscow, opposing the new instructions, which, they stated, would only exacerbate the divisions within the Party. They were instructed to follow and implement the new line. Gomas and Kotane then proposed a united front of black organisations in which the CPSA should not feature too prominently. Soon afterwards Kotane left for Moscow, leaving the task of forging black unity, reminiscent of the Black Republic slogan, to Gomas, who then teamed up with his old friend and comrade, James La Guma. We witness now an emergence and convergence of ideological forces which were to help shape the future (and the present) struggle of the oppressed, a process in which Gomas was to play a central role.

Johnny Gomas Voice of the working class