Extract from a speech made at Koffiefontein on 11 August 1967

The Prime Minister's Koffiefontein speech is very well-known and in a certain sense also an interesting speech. Adv. Vorster took this opportunity to reply to numerous questions which were in the air, thus throwing welcome light on various matters which were not always seen in perspective. He referred inter alia to the UNO and South West Africa; the rumours of an impending split in the National Party, the necessity for implementing the outward policy, and in conclusion to irresponsible and unreliable newspaper reporting. As far as the latter was concerned. Adv. Vorster told his audience that he was considering the introduction of special legislation aimed at checking irresponsible and erroneous reporting.

Mr. Chairman, on Sunday it will be eleven months since I assumed the task of leading the National Party. 1 In the course of those eleven months I have very often had the opportunity to state my standpoint on all the questions about South Africa and its problems; and just before Parliament was prorogued, during a series of meetings, I stated our standpoint on such matters as the USA, South West Africa, developments in Africa and our attitude towards them, the world outside and the UNO. This afternoon I do not intend saying any more about that matter since I have put my standpoint very clearly. It is not necessary to repeat it here today. But this morning something happened in respect of the UNO and you will permit me to say a few words about it right at the start of my speech this afternoon. 2 You all know the story of the committee; the committee of 11 who are to govern South West Africa. They met - and that in itself is a significant political event. They met and were addressed by U Thant, the Secretary-General. They now have 11 months in which to liberate South West and in that 11 months' time they say there will be a different president every month. South West is going to make world history; it is going to have 11 presidents without ever becoming inde­pendent. But I am not concerned about that foolish lot now. I am concerned about U Thant who after all is still the Secretary-General of the UNO. On the last occasion he said that the world community was facing an explosive situation. I want to agree most heartily with him, but has not the time arrived for U Thant to ask himself why the world is facing that explosive situation? Has not the time arrived for him to ask himself who is responsible for it, and has not the time arrived for him to ask himself exactly what role he himself played in that situation? But then he went on to say that it was this committee's task to check increasing racial enmity in Southern Africa. We listen to the radio and we read the newspaper, and let me say at once that I know of very few places that are safer and more peaceful at this moment than this very Southern Africa.

But let me tell U Thant right now that this is the sheerest nonsense I have ever heard from anyone, even from a Secretary-General of the UNO. I object to it most vehemently. Either U Thant does not know what he is talking about or his is misleading the world. And whichever it is, it simply does not suit the man who holds the position of Secretary-General of a world organisation. I know South West Africa and I know South Africa. I spent three weeks' leave making a thorough study of the situation in South West. Not only is South West no threat at all to world peace, but it is a model of peacefulness and stability, and if U Thant and his fellows do not know that, then I wonder what exactly they do know. I want to state it very clearly here now, so that there can be no misunderstanding about it. On behalf of the Government, on behalf of South Africa, on behalf of all inhabitants of whatever colour, I reject these efforts by the UNO to stir up trouble where there is none, to cause explosions where there is peace at present.

I want to state very clearly that South Africa will not allow that peace to be disrupted by any committee or any organisation.

In recent months I have had opportunities to speak at length on world affairs to the Nationalists and the people of South Africa. To­day, on this occasion, I want to confine myself for a moment to ourselves. Then I want to state at once right at the outset: I have come across people recently who have been under the impression that our struggle ended 5 - 6 years ago when we became a Republic. I want to tell you today that a Republic can only be established and flourish when the various language groups and the various population groups co-existing inside the borders of that Republic have reached an under­standing. The establishment of the Republic also requires us to ensure as far as possible that especially in the next few years ahead South Africa will be as independent economically as possible. The establishment of the Republic demands the acceptance by all colour groups of the policy of separate development; it will be influenced by the world outside, a hostile world, a misleading world, people who are so hostile, people who are so misled that we shall have to ward them off in all kinds of ways in the times ahead. But we shall not only have to ward them off, we shall also have to inform them; and that is why I have made an appeal in the past few months for us to move outwards, for us to go out and state our standpoint, because only by doing so can we help to ward them off. It also requires us to guard at all times against the communist threat. It requires in particular that my department, the Department of Police, at all times be alert to people whose aims are subversive and terrorists whose instructions are to help bring about South Africa's downfall.

Far more important to me than the acquisition of the Republic are its establishment and further development, which might not be as exciting but are certainly more important. For that we need all the national strength we can muster. For that we need inter alia good relations between Afrikaans and English-speaking South Africa, and I want to tell you today after eleven months of government that I believe that relations between Afrikaans and English-speaking people have never before been as good as they are today. And that is good, since both language groups have found a home in the National Party; and when I say that, I want to eliminate a misunderstanding at once. Some­times it does not seem to me to be a misunderstanding; then it simply appears to be malice, that people set themselves the task of making the statement that when we say that Afrikaans and English-speaking people can stand and fight on an equal footing in the National Party it could mean a watering-down of one's own language and cultural standpoint or that it involves relinquishing principles. No one has ever said that and no one has ever asked for that. This means not only that there is no watering-down and that no principles are relinquished, but it decidedly also does not mean the surrender of that traditionally conservative standpoint which the National Party has always held. And I am using the word "conservative" and shall return to it later. Lately words have been given meanings which they do not normally have.

The National Party has always been conservative in outlook. To be conservative has never to the National Party meant to stand still, to be conservative in that sense of the word; has never meant stagnation to it because those changes that have come about in South Africa have been brought about by the National Party. The National Party has not been a party that stood still, but has always been on the march. It is the National Party which not only brought about the changes, but has been able to meet every new situation because its principles pre-eminently make it possible for it to master every situation. And I am pleased that my friend, Uncle Jim, said the same here this afternoon; not only do we live in a changing world, but we live in a world that has already changed. It is the task of the National Party and it is my task as leader, to lead this country in that changed world, and I shall do so no matter how many layabouts criticise it. And I believe that when I do that, I have the full support of the National Party, not only behind me, as Uncle Jim said, but indeed all around me, because we are all involved in this struggle. It is not only I or the leaders of the National Party who should move outwards, it is all of us who should move out­wards. But as regards the people who make insinuations about it: did I not state emphatically at Oudtshoorn that as far as co-operation with the world outside is concerned, the world should understand one thing very clearly and that is they must take us as we are. If they do not want to take us as we are, they need not take us at all.

Co-operation in that sphere, movement outwards, does not mean that you expose yourself to being swallowed up by liberalists; still less that you expose to destruction Afrikaans, which is my language and happens to be the language of most of you here today. People who adopt that line know neither our history nor the reality of the situation. They do not know what it is all about.

We should establish ourselves not only as I said a moment ago, but we should also establish the Republic so that we shall be able to with­stand all the economic onslaughts made against it. Let us ask ourselves the simple question today: What is warding off our enemies today? There are many examples we could put forward, there are many reasons we could advance, but I want to tell you that one of the things warning them off is the knowledge that the Whites of South Africa are standing together. Because it is not only the Afrikaner nation, not only the survival of the White man which is at stake.

A second reason is the knowledge that the policy of separate de­velopment is not the policy of the National Party only. It is not only the Nationalists or the Whites of South Africa who accept this policy. I have had ample proof of this in these 11 months that I have been in this position. I also experienced it anew in South West recently. The fact is that the policy of separate development has become the nation's policy. It has become South Africa's policy, it has become the policy of White and non-White in South Africa.

That is why we have the peace and quiet and order in South Africa in contrast to what is happening in other countries of the world. One does not even want to mention names on this occasion. Just in passing I want to express the hope that our friends in the USA will find a solution to their problems. It would be a pity if the leader of the Western world could not find a solution to this delicate problem. The peace and the quiet and order we have in South Africa today is not due to this or that penalty or coercive measure; it is due to the fact that the realisation has dawned on the masses of every colour group in South Africa that separate development is not only a policy working in favour of the White, but that it is equally to the benefit of the non-White. And I am not afraid of the future, whatever happens in other parts of the world, be­cause I know that not only in principle but also in practice we have found the solution to the race problems in South Africa. I know as surely as we are here together today that South Africa will serve to show the world how race problems ought to be solved.

But there is a third reason why we have managed to ward people off, and that is that the world is aware of the fact that we shall fight for what is ours. That as small as we are, we are well equipped should any nation in Africa or outside want to act so foolishly as to come and lay claim to what is rightfully ours. Let me tell the world, tell them anew at this stage, that the spirit our people had in the past is still as strong today as it always was. No one will with impunity take what is ours, and that includes South West Africa.

But, fourthly, there is another reason, namely that in spite of its hostility, the outside world fortunately realises that we cannot be subverted from within, because we have eradicated the Communists and subversive elements in South Africa; and whoever wants to stick his neck out in future will be dealt with in the same way.

But fifthly, and this is important, we have seen this in abundance in the past. We warded people off because they realised that South Africa is so sound in the economic sphere and is so independent economically that it is in a position to withstand the onslaughts of sanctions or siege or boycott. That has always been our standpoint and our pride, so one is grateful to be able to take note that South Africa happens to have com­bated economic problems more successfully than most other countries. When I say that I say it in the realisation that I know the cost of living question is troublesome; we all know it. Then it must also be borne in mind that it is a fact that the more prosperous a country becomes, the higher its standard of living becomes. And it is undeniably true that there is a relationship between the cost of living on the one hand and the standard of living on the other.

Then one also has to take into consideration that statistics indicate that while there was an increase in the cost of living of 2,1 per cent per year from 1960 onwards, there was on the other hand an increase in wages of 5,4 per cent per year from the same date. In other words, in spite of all you know about the rising cost of living and the difficulties this entails for some, you know that this is the one side of the scale but that the other side of the scale also has to be considered, namely that there was a greater increase in wages than there was in the cost of living. I know and I find nowadays that there are fewer complaints in this regard among many of our people, for our people are realistic enough to know that nobody in present-day South Africa is worse off than he was 10 years ago; that in fact, all things considered, nobody has to make do with less than he had to live on 10 years ago or 5 or more years ago. Today I want to ask you to bear in mind, especially in the times ahead, that our problem is to maintain the balance between growth on the one hand and stability on the other. I want to tell you, and you must see it in this light, and you will also realise this, that most of the economic problems confronting us today are specifically due to the excess of growth, the excess of confidence and the rapid rate of development there has been in South Africa, that this in fact endangers our stability. How­ever paradoxical it might sound, it is and remains a fact that there was an excess of confidence in South Africa's potential. One is grateful for that, but it brings its problems, problems of services, of communication, of providing roads; it brings problems in respect of shortages of goods, luxury and otherwise. And from the nature of the case, the higher the level of development - and there are few nations whose level of de­velopment is as high as ours - the greater and higher become the needs. Each one of us can just take a look at our own home to see this, and this in turn results in each one charging more for his goods and those who do not provide goods, charging more for their services. You know that spiral as well as I do. In addition there is the fact that as a developing country South Africa is very susceptible to events in the outside world, that things we have nothing to do with can influence our economy. It is not we who waged war in the Middle East, it is not we who blockaded the Suez, 3 but all those things which took place involuntarily brought about an increase of 2 ½ per cent in sea freight and that will in turn influence the South African economy. Therefore each of us has a duty, and I want to make a very urgent appeal to each of us to co-operate in curbing that spiral. It is not the task of the government alone. It is true, the government has a very positive duty, often an unpopular duty to fulfil - and I want to give you the assurance that where it is in any way practicable, the government is doing everything in its power to curb that spiral - and as regards those commodities over which the govern­ment has a say, it will only in cases of the extremest urgency allow any increases in future. In passing I should just like to mention one commodity to you. I am aware of the tremendous pressure exerted, before I became Prime Minister and now as well, to permit certain price increases. These price increases were refused, including an increase in the price of bread. This will crop up again one of these days. But because it is a staple food, the government is resolved, whatever the circumstances, notwithstanding that pressure at all times and not yield to the demands.

I say it is not only the government that has a duty in this regard; it is the businessman, the worker, the producer - each one of us. Therefore I want to make an urgent appeal on this occasion to those who determine prices to take into consideration the situation in South Africa and the world. On the other hand I also want to make an urgent appeal to the workers that wage demands should be made with the greatest circum­spection in the days ahead. The businessman, the company, the farmer and the worker, all of us have an interest in seeing that South Africa's stability is not endangered or undermined. Should we endanger South Africa's stability, we would easily fall prey to those who seek our down­fall.

The National Party is not blind to the hardships of our people. It has never been so. It is not unaware of the things that are troublesome. It is constantly giving attention to them. It is aware of the fact that new times set new demands; that is why it not only lent assistance running into millions to the farmers in times of drought, but it already decided under my predecessor to appoint a thorough-going commission of inquiry which is still engaged in its investigations to place agriculture on a firm footing. That is why my colleague, Minister Fouche, appointed his comprehensive Water Commission. That is why the Cabinet in­structed Minister Maree 4 to give more attention than ever before to the nation's housing. And now I am aware of the fact that from time to time reproaches are levelled in respect of this matter and without boring you with lengthy statistics I just want to mention in passing that only in the last five years no fewer than 98 400 dwelling units have been made available to our people by the government and the private sector. In other words, if you take three per family, it means that 295 000 people were provided with new dwelling units. In that regard the government has made available no less than R78-million - only since 1964 - for houses in respect of Whites only, and since it came to power in 1948 it has made available more than R300-million to relieve the position. We realise that we are a growing nation; therefore everything will be done in the times ahead to provide the necessary housing for our people. And we are not concerned with only those problems.

For some time it has been clear to the government that our whole economic structure has changed in recent years, and that is why we considered it thoroughly and have asked ourselves from time to time whether the taxation system we have at present, which has been with us for years, is still suitable in these changed circumstances. There are many of us who doubt it, and therefore the government decided that an announcement would be made shortly by the Minister of Finance that a penetrating investigation should be made into whether the taxation system we have in South Africa is indeed the best system one can have. Whether the principles it embodies still hold good in the present times; whether the anomalies people complain about, sometimes justly, cannot be eliminated. I do not want you to deduce from that that we want to abolish taxes. I know there are political parties who say they will do it. Who will have to provide the money then, I simply do not know, but the question is - and it will receive the attention of the best qualified persons in that sphere - whether the way we are doing it is indeed the best way.

On 13 September 1966 Adv. Vorster succeeded Dr. H. F. Verwoerd as Prime Minister.

The Council of 11 was established by the General Assembly on 19 May 1967 for the pur­pose of "administering" South West until the territory became independent, hopefully in 1968. The UNO's South-West Council consisted of the delegates from Chile, Columbia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey, the United Arab Republic, Yugoslavia and Guiana. The Secretary-General, U Thant, addressed the Council on 10 August 1967 and said that the work of the Council was very important since it presented a chance to check the increasing racial enmity in Southern Africa. Cf. Die Transvaler, 11.8.1967.

In the Arab world an appeal has increasingly been made under the leadership of President Nasser for a "holy war" against the state of Israel. A war known as the Six-Day War broke out on 5 June 1967. Dr. H. Muller, the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the following in the Senate on 6 June 1967: "In the meantime, South Africa is again required, for the third time in a period of less than 30 years, to help solve traffic problems which have arisen because the Suez Canal is involved in and, according to the latest reports, has been closed as a result of this war. It can, of course, bring about enormous additional responsibilities for our facilities, but we will do everything possible, as my colleague, the hon. Minister of Transport, has already said, to face the difficulties which may arise in this respect." Cf. Senate Debates, 25.4.1967- 15.6.1967, cols. 3747-8. See also Times, 7.6.1967; Die Volksblad, 5.6.1967; Die Transvaler; 6.6.1967 and Pretoria News, 7.6.1967.

Mr. W. A. Maree was Minister of Community Development, Public Works and Welfare and Pensions.

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