Extract from a speech by the Honourable the Prime Minister during the Cape National Party Congress at East London on 3 September 1975

On this occasion the Prime Minister dealt with the policy of separate development in a particularly effective way. Adv. Vorster also referred to a few of the problems confronting South Africa. He considered it necessary to emphasise again that the peoples of South West Africa must decide their own future. As far as Rhodesia was concerned. South Africa had done everything in its power to bring about peace and an easing of tensions. The co-operation of various African leaders was obtained in these efforts. The withdrawal of the South African Police from Rhodesia also enjoyed attention. In conclusion the Prime Minister asserted that law and order would at all times be maintained in South Africa.

For the past nine years 1 it has been my privilege to meet leaders of other nations, including coloured nations, and I have respected them as leaders of their own people in their own right, and obviously this should be the case since these leaders stand on platforms, and they came forward to stand on those platforms as a result of the policy of the National Party and the opportunities created by my predecessors. They built those platforms from which the leaders of the colour groups can speak in South Africa today. And do you know, if you compare the situation in South Africa with that of other peoples that had to wrench themselves free in Africa and in other parts of the world, then it becomes more and more remarkable to you that in the rest of the world people had to fight to obtain the position the non-White leaders have here in South Africa. In South Africa we led them to that position and we made it possible for them to reach it. But what is more, they could go and stand on those platforms with the retention of everything that is their own. We never tried, as the rest of the world tried, to take away what belonged to them, or to belittle what was theirs. On the contrary, we went out of our way to encourage and stimulate in them a pride in and a love for their own. And in the long run you will see that these two things will carry far more weight than people attach to them in the normal course of events. And what we achieved - and I have given this thorough consideration because our times require every leader to be fully answerable for the policy he sets, since that policy can be decisive for the future of his country and his people, more so today than ever before. And from the nature of the case I gave it more thorough consideration than one would normally do and I want to say with conviction this evening that these things would not have been possible if the policy of the National Party was not a policy of separate development. Without that policy it would have been impossible to come as far as we have done by now. A policy which, where possible and necessary, gives everyone his own facilities and opportunities so that he can realise him­self in his own milieu and can at all times be himself. It is a policy which recognises variety and wants to do justice to all the different people, because it is their right, their inalienable right to be themselves. A policy which recognises that in the public interest there has to be contact, a policy which recognises the fact that although in general one has to create separate facilities wherever possible, there are times and occasions when people should get together and share certain things. You will know as well as I that this requires sound judgment, deep consideration and indeed wise statesmanship from all of us and this does not entail inter alia that the variety is destroyed or has become unnecessary or redundant as some people like to argue. And it decidedly does not mean either that because you believe in that variety and want to preserve it, you cannot create a peaceful society here in South Africa and Southern Africa or cannot make yourself acceptable in the world outside. The world outside consists of distinctive groups and peoples. That is not an alien concept and I believe that since we have now developed the policy to its third phase, namely that of multi-nationalism, we can indeed make it acceptable to the world. Not, and now you must understand me very well, not that we want to or should govern South Africa as so-called world opinion dictates; we can and wish to govern South Africa at all times just for itself and for the welfare of its people. We do not want to govern South Africa to oblige other people and other nations and other critics; we want to govern South Africa according to the mandate we have received from the voters of South Africa in one election after another. And I want to repeat it very clearly this evening. If it has to be a choice between acceptance by so-called world opinion and South Africa, then there is no choice whatsoever. We do not foist our policy upon others. We have many things we export or wish to export from South Africa, but we have always said that our policy is our own and it is not an export product as far as South Africa is concerned. Secondly, we - and therein lies a great deal of the success South Africa is achieving - we have never interfered in the domestic affairs of others and we do not intend doing so in future either. But in the third place, we have throughout the years held the view that policy differences do not preclude co-operation and the normalisation of relations. Therefore it may never be considered necessary and I personally have never considered it necessary, to be evasive when I came into contact with leaders of other nations or with prominent people from other countries; I have never found it necessary to be evasive about the National Party and its policy. That is why I have always been able, when asked about it or when people discussed it with me, to state the policy of the National Party boldly. And I am aware of the fact that the policy designed for us in South Africa is alien to the major part of the world because they are not familiar with our circumstances and because the same circumstances do not prevail in their countries. I have experienced personally and so have you that many people cannot understand our policy because circumstances differ. In many instances one meets people to whom our policy is quite unacceptable but fortunately, whereas Gen. Smuts referred to the fact that the situation in 1946, 1947 and 1948 was so emotionally charged 2 that one could not appeal to people's reason - and we experienced our­selves throughout the years that people lived in such an emotional haze that they did not want to give one a hearing - I am grateful to be able to say this evening that there are more and more signs that this emotional condition is passing; that there are an increasing number of people who want to and are prepared to give one a hearing. However unaccept­able your policy might be to them, however strange it might be to them, they will put you to one test and according to that test you will stand or fall; and they are going to watch carefully whether you are fair in following your policy through to its minutest consequences. I want to say to you now, for this is the lesson I have learnt recently, that whether your policy is unacceptable or incomprehensible to them, if you can convince people that, given your situation, your historical background and the problems you have in South Africa, you do indeed sincerely believe that it is the only policy you can apply and uphold in South Africa to preserve peace and order and promote development, you will find that the world is more and more prepared to give you a hearing - even if it does not agree, it will give you credit that your intentions are honourable and sincere and it will be prepared to give you a chance to see whether that policy can succeed in practice.

What is the alternative if you are not honourable or if you cannot convince the world of the sincerity of your standpoint? Your policy will be considered to be one of suppression, racial prejudice and exploitation. Then you will for a time be able to hold your own by force but even­tually you will fall in dishonour. That is why I told you that I had to renew my faith, and find clarity and certainty in my heart, that the National Party is on the right road. And I tell you this evening I do not doubt in the least that the moral foundation of our policy is sound, and that this cannot be doubted. And furthermore, because this policy of ours can always be reduced to the idea of separate peoples and groups - that idea that was and will be the guarantee of the preservation of separate identities and the upholding of that inalienable right - therefore, because we saw the future in this way, my predecessor 3 stated repeatedly that as our policy gains acceptance and as it is applied in practice, those things in South Africa which can be described as purely discriminatory will disappear. That vision of the late Dr. Verwoerd is at present being realised in South Africa. So what is happening today was foreseen by the Party and its leaders past and present. It is not a new policy; circumstances did not force it on us - it is not that we were seized by a sudden fervour of enlightenment, as the English newspaper editors are so keen to tell their readers. When we speak man to man to Coloured leaders, when we give Black peoples independence in the fullest sense of the word, when we give Coloured and Indian leaders a say in common councils and matters, and enable them to manage the affairs of their own people, we do so because it is we who led them and brought them to that stage; and that we can and should do so is logical, right and moral according to our own policy. If you realise that, you realise on the one hand how foolish it is to speak of selling out the Whites and on the other hand you realise how futile, dangerous and deceitful it is to play around with the concept of power-sharing which you cannot and are not prepared to apply in practice; and which will only engender frustration, which will create the greatest possible chaos in South Africa. When you weigh those alternatives against each other you realise, however strange it might sound to others, however unacceptable it might be to others at first sight, that you indeed have a case to put to the world. Of course, that does not mean the communist world because you cannot put any case to them; and of course, it will not be to the emotionally prejudiced world; but one can indeed turn to the world that is prepared to listen to reason and is seeking genuine detente among peoples and nations. And I am pleased to be able to tell you this evening that there are such nations and there are such leaders at present, and the present circumstances will bring forth more leaders and peoples of this kind.

The economic realities of the present are playing their role and will play an ever increasing role as time goes on; and something else I have noticed to be on the increase lately is the revival of patriotism among peoples and nations. There was a time when it was anathema, when it was old-fashioned, when everyone had to be united and boundaries had to be erased. Today I am increasingly detecting a new patriotism among peoples and nations, and that augurs well for the future. But another thing - and it surprises one that there are people here in South Africa and outside who can make light of this matter - if war should break out today, it would be bloody and devastating; most people realise that. 4 Here in South Africa it is apparently those who know for certain that they will not be called upon to fight, who are fanning the flames. But it is also clear to you that every country's problems are increasing all the time so that countries simply no longer have or can afford the time to concern themselves exclusively with the affairs of other countries. Their own demand too much attention. All these factors play a role, all these things are creating a climate which will benefit South Africa in the days ahead. But I want to say, and I am very grateful - deeply, intensely grateful - that I can stand here and say it. In my travels I encountered an unexpected amount of respect for South Africa and its integrity. Wherever I turned, I found this respect as well as respect for its honesty and its achievements. We are a small nation, and I say this with the greatest reverence in the world, our good Creator knew what problems were in store for us and that is why He gave us certain qualities and capabilities, for one is never tested beyond one's endurance. I believe, Mr. Chairman - because what I have told you is true - that we shall in future find more willingness outside to give South Africa a hearing and with that, please understand me well, no one must run off and say I said there will not be problems. On the contrary, specifically because we are succeeding, we should expect those that seek our downfall, and there are many, to lay more obstacles on our path; should expect our enemies to do all they can to discredit us and make life difficult for us. But that is not important to me because we have been used to that in the past. What is more important to me is that after nine years I detect an in­creasing willingness to give South Africa a hearing, that there is a greater measure of acceptance that South Africa means what it says when it says it is seeking peace and, what is more, the world believes that South Africa is sincere when it says so since the world knows South Africa is not seeking peace out of fear or weakness; and that is why it atta­ches more value to our peace offensive than it would otherwise have done. As I said, that we have problems is obvious. One of the problems facing us is the question of South West Africa, about which people have been arguing with us since the time of Gen. Smuts. 5

On the one hand there is the story that we are selling out the Whites of South West. I wonder how many times Albert Hertzog 6 has sold them by now, because at each meeting he holds we are selling, and the selling never ends. I say on the one hand there is the silly story that we are selling out the Whites; on the other hand there is the ridiculous story that we are suppressing the peoples of South West and that we are keeping them under our thumb against their will. The truth of the matter is that South Africa's standpoint has throughout the years been - and we formulated it very clearly in the South West Africa Survey of 1967 -that the peoples of South West will decide their own future, 7 that it will not be South Africa that orders them to do this or that, but that they themselves will decide their future. And if South Africa says that it is not going to interfere, it has the moral right to say to the rest of the world and the UNO as well: "You will not prescribe to these people either, 8 they will decide themselves." And to those people who like to tell this story, or others who may have reservations about it, is it not remarkable that the initiative in progress at present - and I do not want to say very much about it this evening; for obvious reasons there is a time to speak up and there is a time to remain silent, for especially about certain delicate matters there are too many people who say too much too often. You know the story about Van der Merwe from the Nuwerus area; you know it has been scientifically proven that the people of Nuwerus have the best teeth in South Africa as a result of the water they drink there. One day he fell into a pit and the water rose up and he shouted, and his friends heard him and came along and said to him, "Van der Merwe, we will throw down a rope; tie it around yourself and we will pull you up." And he said, "I cannot - I have broken both my arms." Then they replied, "But you come from Nuwerus, so there is only one hope before the water rises any further: bite onto the rope and we will pull you up by the teeth". So he bit fast and they pulled him up and just as his head popped up one of his friends said, "Gosh, Van der Merwe, but you really do have strong teeth," and he said "Yes". I have very often wished to drive this story home to some people but I repeat, in respect of these people who have reservations about this standpoint or what is happening in South Africa now, 9 is it not remarkable that it is specifically the Whites who took the initiative in this regard? The Whites were not driven into this situation; they took the lead and the initiative and what is happening there accords with the policy of the National Party. So I want to repeat clearly that as far as the National Government is concerned, it is leaving it to the peoples of South West to decide their own future, but until such time as they have done so it is the National Party and this Government that are responsible 10 for maintaining law and order in South West, and we shall do so. And if there are agitators and others who think they can create a second Angola in South West they must go and think again. The Government will under no circumstances tolerate it.

As far as Rhodesia is concerned, it is neither the time nor the place to elaborate on this topic. Everyone knows what South Africa did. South Africa made known its desire not only to promote and seek peace in Southern Africa, but to assist as a good neighbour in obtaining peace as far as it is possible to do so. In those efforts South Africa obtained the co-operation of the President of Zambia," as well as the President of Botswana, 12 Mozambique 13 and Tanzania, 14 and I must state his evening that I got the honest impression, after my talks with the President of Zambia, 15 that he was as sincere as South Africa in his desire for peace in Southern Africa. I went there to meet the President of Zambia and just as in the other cases where my path has led recently, I want to tell you that I was received with the greatest courtesy and hospitality. South Africa, and you must simply take this from me, South Africa did not interfere or prescribe to anyone in this delicate matter. No doubt you also noticed that South Africa only appeared on the scene as a helpful friend after Prime Minister Smith had negotiated and consulted with the ANC. 16 Without forcing or prescribing to anyone, South Africa merely made a goodwill gesture to bring about peace and an easing of tensions in Southern Africa. One expected setbacks when one embarked on this exercise, 17 one was familiar with the turbulence that had gone before. Setbacks came, setbacks will keep coming, but my overall impression right now is that the chances of success are greater than those of failure in the efforts to achieve peace and normal relations in Southern Africa. And I give you the assurance that my colleagues and I will continue in the way we have done up to now to seek peace and normalise relations.

I must take this opportunity to set one matter straight and that is the question of the recall of the police from Rhodesia. 18 I dealt with that matter from the start. Together with my colleagues I decided to send the police to Rhodesia and they went there in the first instance not to join in Rhodesia's struggle but to intercept terrorists, PAC 19 and ANC terrorists, who were on their way to South Africa. That was the original reason for their going. There was never any intention of the SAP becoming involved in a domestic struggle in Rhodesia or in any other country. And throughout the years, when we were asked: When will the SAP return, we replied in Parliament, in public and in private that they would return as and when the South African Government was con­vinced that there was no more necessity for South Africa to remain there, seen from a security point of view as far as terrorists were concerned. That time has now arrived and it must not bee seen - and I shall find it regrettable if it is seen here or in any other place where it matters - as a question of leaving Rhodesia or anyone else in the lurch. People who make light of this matter should bear in mind that as a good neighbour we knew our duty for ten years, and in future we shall also know our duty towards our neighbours, as well as towards South Africa to whom we owe our first allegiance.

I know there are problems ahead of us. I know, as I tried to sketch for you, that there is a change of climate in the offing, but I also know that our enemies will intensify their attack as and when they can. I also know that both from inside and outside they will try to undermine us; I am aware of certain subversive actions certain people have in mind. I want to repeat the Government's standpoint categorically. Since 1961 and 1962 we have stated very clearly and proved in practice, that we will maintain law and order here in South Africa. And without referring to anyone in particular, I want it to be very clearly understood, for I am stating a general principle and not referring to any persons in any way: if people play with fire they must expect to get burnt. In my time, when I had that specific responsibility, in my capacity as Minister of Justice, 20 I placed certain laws on the statute book in South Africa on the instruction of my colleagues. Those laws make it obligatory for the SAP to investigate subversion and, apart from this obligation it imposes on the police, gives them the right to detain people for certain periods until they have com­pleted their investigations. No amount of writing by any newspaper, no amount of speaking or agitation by any person, will make this Government renounce its duty of investigating such acts of subversion as long as it is necessary to do so. It stands to reason that in any civilised country of the world one wants to bring people to court as soon as possible and that has always been my endeavour, both when I was the Minister in charge and afterwards, and it will always in future be our endeavour to do so, but you must remember that people engaged in this kind of activity have sometimes put months and years into planning their actions and one cannot expect where this is the case to be able, as in the normal process of the law, to charge people within 48 hours. I want to say again very clearly, as I said in the days when I myself had that responsibility: when it comes to the security of the State, this Government is not prepared to take risks.

Adv. B. J. Vorster succeeded Dr. H. F. Verwoerd as Prime Minister on 13 September 1966.

Gen. J. C. Smuts in 1946 addressed a request to the UNO to incorporate South West Africa in the Union. The majority of South West Africa's inhabitants, indigenous peoples included, were in favour of this step. The request failed, however, mainly on account of the emotional attack of Mrs. Pandit, India's representative at the UNO, on South Africa's domestic policy. Cf. G. M. Cockram, Vorster's Foreign Policy, Pretoria, 1970, p. 20 and P. Giniewski, Die Stryd om Suidwes-Afrika, Cape Town, 1966, p. 35.

Dr. H . F. Verwoerd was Prime Minister of South Africa from 3 September 1958 until 6 September 1966.

Cf. the Prime Minister's speech in the Senate on 23 October 1974.

See foot-note 2.

Dr . Albert Hertzog is leader of the Herstigte National Party.

Cf. the Prime Minister's speech to the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut in Windhoek on 20.5.1975.

Ibid.

In September 1975 delegates of South West Africa's eleven population groups met for the first time in the Turnhalle in Windhoek to decide on the constitutional future of this territory. Cf. Die Suidwester, 23.9.1975; Daily Dispatch, 24.9.1975; The Star, 23,9.1975.

In 1920 South West Africa was placed under the administration of South Africa as a C-class mandate of the League of Nations. South West Africa was to be governed in trust for the welfare of its inhabitants. Cf. C. F. J. Muller, ed.. Five Hundred Years - A History of South Africa, Pretoria, 1973, p. 403 and G. Schwarzenberger, Power Politics, New York, 1964, p. 470.

Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda.

Sir Seretse Khama.

Mr. Samora Moises Machel.

Mr. Julius Kambarage Nyerere.

In August 1975 this historic meeting took place between Adv. Vorster and President Kaunda. The meeting formed part of the Rhodesian Bridge Conference. Cf. Die Burger, 30.8.1975; Sunday Tribune, 31.8.1975 and Rand Daily Mail, 20.8.1975.

ANC - African National Congress.

Cf. the Prime Minister's speech in the Senate on 23 October 1974.

Cf. the SABC's Review of Current Affairs, 10.3.1975.

PAC - Pan African Congress.

Adv. Vorster was Minister of Justice, Police and Prisons until he succeeded Dr. H. Verwoerd on 13 September 1966.