Extract from a speech made in the House of Assembly on 4 February 1974 in reply to a motion of no confidence in the Government by the Leader of the Opposition

The beginning of 1974 was characterised by confusion and uncertainly in international relations. There was the Watergate scandal in which President Nixon of the USA was involved and which had an effect on the entire West; the uncertain and liquid political situation in Great Britain; the tension in Spain which resulted from the assassination of the Premier, Admiral Louis Carrero Blanco; the ever increasing problems and confron­tation Portugal experienced in its African territories. The attacks of terrorists increased in intensity and the guarding of the Republic's borders continued to enjoy more specialised attention. Against this background Adv. Vorster made this very important speech in the House of Assembly. He referred to the economic and political stability in the Republic which could indeed be considered unique in the world of today. In order to maintain and guarantee peace and prosperity in the Republic, the Prime Minister requested a further mandate from the people. He announced a general election for 24 April 1974.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition mentioned the economic position in South Africa. He put many questions in that regard. In particular he deplored the fate of our ordinary people. None of us would for a moment deny, or have ever tried to deny, that inflation affects us all, some countries more than others. Let us consider the position in South Africa. It is true that there is inflation in South Africa. But - and the ordinary voter in South Africa today realizes this only too well, and that is why one has such a calm and peaceful situation here in South Africa - as far as the ordinary man is concerned, his wage and his salary have more than kept pace with the increase in the cost of living which has occurred. On the contrary, it is an accepted fact, and not one of the hon. members opposite can deny it, that the cost of living has shown a downward trend since the third quarter of last year. It has shown a downward trend owing to the improved agricultural prospects in South Africa, for which all of us are very deeply grateful to Providence, which made this possible. Everyone agrees, as the figures also show, that the ordinary salary and wage earner is 1,5% better off in real terms after all the factors men­tioned by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition have been taken into account. That is what the figures show. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition is aware that our growth rate last year was 4%, in spite of the fact that our agricultural growth was absolutely zero and was un­able to make any contribution. He is aware that the growth rate this year will be 6%. He is aware that we do have inflation, but that we have nation here which does not exist in other countries. Other countries complain of the fact that they have an almost total absence of growth. We do in fact have inflation, but we have growth with which we are able to temper it. There are few countries in the world that can boast of this. One notices among the people with whom one comes into contact that there are few countries that have the economic stability which South Africa enjoys; that there are few monetary units which are as strong as the rand; that there are few countries that offer the invest­ment possibilities that South Africa offers; and that there are few countries that are in the privileged position South Africa is in, where we have to raise our oil prices as a result of increased purchases, but where, with the exception of the United States of America, South Africa's oil prices are still the lowest in the world in spite of that increase. Surely that goes to show that this Government has done everything which was necessary in this connection. Surely that goes to show that there should be special appreciation in this regard, as even its opponents have to admit in leading articles.

I feel myself called upon to say a few words about the federation idea in general and particularly with reference to the speeches made recently by the Chief of the Zulus and the declaration which Mr. Schwarz says he signed with the full approval of the hon. the Leader of the Opposition. 1 As far as Chief Buthelezi is concerned, I want to say at once that he is only one of eight chiefs. I regret the fact, because it could easily be misunderstood in the outside world, that some people and some news­papers adopt the attitude that he is the only Bantu leader in South Africa. As far as I am concerned, I want to make it very clear that I have respect for him in his capacity as leader of the Zulus. However, I have as much respect for the other leaders of the other Bantu peoples in South Africa. I want to go further - I am not doing him any injustice when I say this - by pointing out that some of the other Bantu leaders probably have more experience of public life than Chief Buthelezi has. Furthermore, I think that some of them are probably more careful when making statements.

This federation idea which emanated from the Chief and which caused so much excitement in the Press of the hon. the Leader of the Opposition and even other Press groups, came from speeches which the Chief made in Cape Town and East London. 2 For the sake of the record, I am compelled to rectify immediately here certain statements made by the Chief. On page two of the speech which he made in Cape Town, lie stated:

"When slavery was abolished in the Cape in 1836 the slave-owners resented this interference with their way of life and migrated northwards. They were still convinced that there could only be one place for their former slaves and any other men of colour and that was in a subordinate position. This was the beginning of Afrikaner Nationalism in South Africa."

I find it a pity that the Chief has distorted historical facts in this extent and has presented this distorted image to the outside world. It was not even necessary to do so for the sake of his arguments. Why he did so, only he would know.

In addition, the standpoint adopted by the Chief was that of federation. He spelled it out far more clearly in East London than he did in Cape Town. The people who are so infatuated with this idea of federa­tion would do well to take some cognizance of the Chief's standpoint on this matter. He states:

"We might be attracted by the direct democracy of the Swiss cantons as illustrated by the Swiss procedure known as a 'referen­dum'. This is an institution of native Swiss growth. It is an arrangement whereby no alterations or amendments that the Swiss citizens think of importance can come into force till it has been sanctioned by a majority of citizens actually voting upon it, so that a change in the constitution referred to the people for sanction cannot come into force unless it is approved both by a majority of citizens voting in the whole federal state and by a ma­jority in a majority of cantons. An ordinary law passed by the fed­eral assembly comes into force without a referendum unless a ref­erendum is demanded by not less than 30 000 citizens. A referen­dum is thus a nation's veto."

The matter which people are so infatuated with here, which now has to serve as a basis for consultation, is that one should, to mention one example - I am also going to mention other examples - adopt the Swiss system and that a final decision is then taken by a majority of the voters and a majority of the cantons. If one then gives further consideration to what was visualized by the Chief, one finds that it is a serious matter. One should note further - and I give the Chief credit for his honesty in this regard - that he suggested a solution but that he made no secret of that that solution was merely a temporary one. He stated it

"This will satisfy most aspirations of Blacks for the foreseeable future."

On another occasion lie went on to point out again how this was merely temporary for a few generations. But then he stated what he really wanted to see in South Africa:

"Three types of states could be envisaged in a federal republic or commonwealth: states in which the interests of some African ethnic groups are paramount; states in which the interests of White people are paramount; special or federal areas which are not national in character or in which no particular group interests are designated."

He then went on to state what in his opinion the extent of the Transkei should be; he covered a wide area right down to the Fish River and other rivers. He then came to Natal and, as far as Natal was concerned, lie stated: The entire present-day Natal, and if that could not happen, the Natal of 1874, but preferably he entire Natal of today. Again I want to make my standpoint very clear: How far are hon. members on that side, who are so precipitately adopting a course leading to federation, prepared to go in this regard? What powers do they wish to subordinate to such a federal unit? I am stating my standpoint very clearly. I am not in favour of such a federation. I am not in favour of such constitutional proposals as are being made here. On the contrary, when federation is discussed, it is very clear that there are many leaders who talk about federation but who do not in any way touch upon the essence of federation or really mean it that way. For Chief Mangope 3 is far closer to the mark and adopts a far better approach when he sees the matter this way; he also spoke here in Cape Town at the same time, and said:

''In brief outline, I would welcome the establishment and gradual strengthening of the following federal ties: First and foremost, an economic federation as the most effective safeguard for peace and good neighbourliness: the European Economic Community is a fine example of its peace-promoting effect."

And then he went on to say:

"(b) a security federation which will serve as a formidable bulwark against aggression, terrorism and infiltration, and

(c) an educational and cultural federation could achieve much in promoting not only higher training standards but also the best spirit of good neighbourliness."

You see in that that the approach adopted by Chief Mangope is not in any way that of a political federation. I want to make a very serious appeal to South Africa and its people now to reject once and for all this idea of a political federation as the most pernicious idea there could be for South Africa. If one toys with the idea of a political federa­tion in South Africa, one must bear one's history in mind. There have been many great moments in our political history, but I think that if a person were to ask you today to mention to him the three great moments in the political history of South Africa, the first would be the standpoint adopted by Gen. Hertzog of "South Africa first"; 4 the second great moment would be the standpoint of Dr. Malan and the National Party that there should be republican independence in South Africa; 5 and the third is the standpoint of the National Party that independent Black states should be established. 6 There should be no doubt for South Africa and its people - no matter to what extent the hon. members frighten people - that this is and remains the policy of South Africa; it is the only valid policy at which South Africa should build.

Why do I say that it is the only policy which can be adopted in South Africa? Let us now consider the future. If the standpoint one adopts is that of federation, as the hon. the Leader is now doing, and if one is honest, it goes without saying that every nation and every state that wishes to join that federation will have to give up a certain, defined portion of its sovereignty. If one does not give up any sovereignty, then there cannot, of course, be any question of federation, and then we are not talking about the same thing. I now want the hon. the Leader to answer the following questions - for I want to proceed on the assumption that he is honest when he says that he wants to join such a federation - in respect of the Whites of South Africa: What portion of their sovereignty over themselves is he prepared to give up in the federation?

What interests of mine and of my people and of his and his people is he going to subordinate to that federal government? For, Sir, if one is not honest, one would of course be creating the utmost friction; one would be creating the greatest discord ever experienced in the politics of South Africa. To tell the truth, I do not think there will be any person who will be able to keep in check what will result from that if one is not honest with that policy. Therefore, when hon. members adopt that approach, I want to ask them in all earnestness not to toy with this idea simply for the sake of political gain. If they come forward with this idea they should be in earnest about it, and then they should tell the people of South Africa precisely what they would be letting themselves in for if they supported them at the next election. Then they should tell them precisely what obligations would be imposed on them. Then they should tell them precisely what their rights in that connection would be. I, on my part, have made it very clear that I reject federation because I am not prepared, in respect of the Whites, of whom the hon. member and I are the leaders, to subordinate any part of their sovereignty to any other people or nation.

It has nothing to do with "baasskap"; it has to do only with self-respect in the sense that I alone want to govern my own people, and I am not prepared to share my sovereignty with any other people, White or Black, friendly or hostile. Do we understand one another now? In that regard I am in no way prepared to share my sovereignty over my people in any respect. It has nothing to do with enmity; it has nothing to do with "baasskap"; it has nothing to do with anything of that nature. It is the right which Britain has; it is the right which any independent country in the world has.

If one considers South Africa and rejects the federal idea, as I categorically do, it is very clear to one that, geographically. South Africa and other countries are so situated that they lend themselves to the inevitable establishment of a bloc, a power bloc, and, what is more, that this would be in the interests of all these countries. But it would be a bloc of independent states; not only would it be a bloc of independent states, but politically and constitutionally no one state would in any respect be subordinate to another. It would be a bloc of states in which it would not be possible to dictate to any state what it should do domestically, and in which no state could be swallowed up or dominated. I am in favour of such a bloc only and that is what I shall endeavour to accomplish.

But a condition for the establishment of such a bloc has to be that there should be independent states which have to enter into that agreement, and they have to do so on the strength of their independence, on the strength of their sovereignty. In other words, I foresee - and Chief Lucas Mangope and I share this standpoint - that an economic power bloc will be established, and in principle we already have it in Southern Africa today. I believe that a power bloc will have to be established against communism. I believe that a power bloc of freely associated states will have to be established in which each nation will be able to realize its aspirations in its own state.

The place which the Indians and the Coloureds will occupy, is precisely the same - because you copied it from us - as the place you now say the Indians and the Coloureds will occupy in your federation plan. The only difference is that it was this side of the House that visualized that kind of state when you ridiculed it. Take a look at your own literature and you will see that you are now writing as if it were your discovery, in exactly the same way as you are now writing as if it were your discovery that there should be dialogue in South Africa, whereas it is the National Party which, over the years, has been conducting the necessary dialogue with all the Bantu leaders and governments in South Africa. Politically not one of them may be subordinate to another. There will in fact be economic inter-dependence, and this will exist at all times; this will be the most powerful tie binding those states. I want to make it very clear that it would be foolish to try to finalize this matter now. The simple reason for this is that the climate at present is not such that it would be possible to do this. I cannot imagine a successful power bloc in this context in which Rhodesia does not play its part. I cannot imagine a power bloc in which Malawi, Botswana, Swaziland, and so on, do not play a part. What is more, other states around us which have to play a part in that bloc, have not yet become independent. While areas such as Bophuthatswana, KwaZulu, the Transkei, the Ciskei and all the others are not yet independent, it goes without saying that such a power bloc cannot be established. That is the stand­point of the National Party in that connection.

Finally, this motion of no confidence and the South Africa of today should be seen against the background of the world in which we are living today. One is very grateful, because the position in the world is so fluid, that one has the knowledge - I do not claim the credit for this for the Government -that South Africa is in a far better position than many other countries to face this uncertain future. In the times which lie ahead a country which is able to feed its people from its own resources will have a very great advantage. We are in that position today and I believe will continue to be so in the foreseeable future. We are in the fortunate position that we have the coal which makes us only 20% dependent on oil as a source of energy, in contrast with many other countries which are up to 80% dependent on it. We are in this favour­able position that we have gold. Everyone is aware of the standpoint the South African Government has adopted over the years. I want to pay tribute to the Government and to my colleague for what has been accomplished in this regard. We are in the favourable position of being able to supply the necessary ore to developed countries in the years which lie ahead. It is with great piety and gratitude that I say that we are in the fortunate position that moral standards still have some meaning in this country. For that reason one is grateful that one can think of South Africa as economically strong, that one can rejoice in the fine agricultural year which is imminent for South Africa, that it is with pride that one can tell the world at large about the political stability which exists in South Africa, and that one can refer to the political and constitutional tranquillity which is to be found here in South Africa. But if one considers the world at large, it is a fact that the position is very fluid. A very influential person, a person who has occupied a position in public life for 31 years, told me the other day that never during that whole period of 31 years had he seen the world in as fluid a position. Everyone of us sitting here knows that one cannot say today what is going to happen tomorrow. One need not argue about that. One is not only aware of the fluid position which exists in the world, but as far as South Africa is concerned, one is also aware of the perilous situa­tion which could arise for South Africa, and the hon. the Leader of the Opposition also referred to that this afternoon. I need not argue the fact with hon. members this afternoon that the ultimate aim of the com­munist and leftist powers is not Rhodesia, Mozambique or Angola - their ultimate aim is South Africa. The ultimate aim is what can be taken from South African soil. But what is perhaps even more important to them is the control over the Cape sea route in the event of another conventional war. They have made no secret of the fact, whether in their majority in the UN or at other meetings or conferences they held on this matter, that South Africa has to be brought to its knees and that a take-over has to take place. Indeed it is with that object that terrorists are being sent in against our neighbouring states, with the object of eventually reaching South Africa through those neighbouring states. We do not dispute this point with one another, for all of us know that it is quite true.

But not only are we faced with this perilous world in so far as this onslaught is concerned; we are also faced with a fluidity in the inter­national, economic and monetary front which is disquieting, to say the least, a fluidity which is so extreme that from time to time the world's best financial experts meet, only to inform us when the meeting is over that they were unable to find any solution to pressing economic problems such as inflation. That is the state of the world in which we are living.

But as far as South Africa is concerned - you and I both have to take cognizance of this - there are forces within and outside South Africa that want to force changes on South Africa by means of extra-parliamentary actions, forces which out of frustration, because there are things which in their view cannot be done in the parliamentary sphere, want to do things which neither the Opposition nor the Government ever intend doing and never will do, and there are more and more organizations abroad that are gaining acceptance with organizations and people in South Africa that adopt the attitude that, if changes cannot be effected across the floor of this House, they should be forced on Parliament from outside. One is aware of all these thin occupying the position I do can fail to take into account the that the picture one has before one every day is a deteriorating picture as far as the international position is concerned. There are few, if any, leaders who have spoken recently and held out the prospect of an improvement in international affairs, in spite of peace that is concluded here and agreements which are entered into there. In spite of the spirit of detente abroad in the world today, everyone agrees that the world position in future is going to become more and more difficult. Because this is so I find that it goes without saying - I have experience of this because I have occupied this position for the past seven years - that the person on whom the responsibility rests, and the Government that has to bear that responsibility and has to undertake the day to day administration of the country, must in future, in this dangerous world, keep an eye on the facts as they visualize them. I am convinced that the next three to five years, if not the next two to five years, will be of decisive importance to the continued existence of South Africa and its people. Because this is so and because it is necessary for a government to know not only that it enjoys the confidence of its people, but also that its hands are free for any eventuality which may crop up in any sphere tomorrow or the day after. I have taken upon myself the responsibility - because it is my prerogative - feeling free to ask the voters of South Africa whether they want my friend opposite to lead South Africa during that phase, or whether they want to entrust the government of South Africa to me, the National Party and my colleagues on this side. Under those circumstances and in the light of the fluidity of the position, I feel myself at liberty to go to the people, and therefore a proclamation will be issued on 28 February calling an election on 24 April.

I shall put my case to the electorate, and in particular I shall say to them that I shall endeavour anew to maintain peace and order in South Africa, as we have been doing for the past 26 years. I want to tell the hon. the Leader of the Opposition that he can do everything in his power to gull the voters into believing that the security of the State cannot be entrusted to us. The hon. the Leader will achieve nothing in this respect, for when the record of this side of the House is compared with that of the Opposition, it speaks too loudly for any person to ignore. I shall say to the electorate of South Africa that the policy of my party, in contrast to the policy of the hon. members on the opposite side of the House, gives them the guarantee that they will be able to retain their identity at all times. That applies to every nation in South Africa. I have no doubt at all that I can say to the electorate that my policy of co-operation in general, with all the nations in the outside world and here in South Africa, will be continued, for we have, in past years, been implementing it, and it has already produced results. 7 But most important of all to my way of thinking is that I will be at liberty to say to the voters of South Africa that the National Party guarantees them sovereignty over their own country and their own people regardless of what may happen in future, regardless of what problems we may find confronting us in future, and regardless of the disputes to which this may give rise. Sovereignty over their own country and their own people will not be shared by anyone, but will be exercised by the people who are represented in this Parliament, and this will be done in so far as their own people are concerned. I grant the same right, namely to exercise sovereignty over their own people, to every other nation, because it is their right.

During the weekend of 4-6 January 1974 Mr. Harry Schwarz, leader of the United Party in the Transvaal, and the Zulu leader. Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, signed an agreement. On the basis of five principles they declare their "faith in a South Africa offering equal opportunities, happiness, security and peace to all its peoples." Cf. Die Burger, 7.1.1974, Hoofstad, 7.1.1974 and Die Volksblad, 7.1.1974.

Chief Buthelezi advocated a group of states in which the interests of the Whites paramount, a second group in which the interests of the Bantu ethnic groups were paramount and a third group with a multinational character in which no group's interests could be regarded as paramount. Cf. Die Oosterlig, 18.1.1974, and Rand Daily Mail, 17.1.1974.

Chief Lucas Mangope is Chief Minister of Bophuthatswana. His National Party won a resounding victory in the first general election for the homeland's Legislative Assembly. Cf. Die Transraler, 19.10.1972 and The S.A. Financial Gazette, 27.4.1973.

Cf. Gen. J. B. M. Hertzog's De Wildt speech in P. J. Nienaber, (ed.) Gedenkboek vir Generaal J.B.M. Hertzog, pp. 256-76.

Cf. Dr. D. F. Malan's famous Malmesbury speech, 31 August 1918, in S. W. V. J. J. Scholtz, comps. Glo in u Volk - D. F. Malan as Redenaar, pp. 19-36.

Cf. here Dr. H. F. Verwoerd's speech in the Senate on 3 September 1948, in A. (ed.) Verwoerd aan die Woord, pp. 1-16.

Since assuming office on 13 September 1966 Adv. Vorster has consistently endeavoured to make contact with the world outside. This contact was sought with not only Western powers but also African countries.

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