Manifesto of the African Democratic Party, September 26, 1943


1.—At some time or other in the life of every nation an occasion arises when the conditions of life impose upon all the members of the group, a duty and an obligation to make a supreme effort to remove barriers and to improve their lot so as to enjoy a greater measure of happiness and freedom.
2.—Wars are outstanding examples of such occasions, unhappily attended by much misery and loss of life, for which reason, wars are an evil, and whenever and wherever they occur, they signify the failure to secure a settlement through the method of peaceful negotiation and by the spirit of give and take which is as necessary in our national and international relations as in our private lives.
3.—The present world war is at once evidence of the conflict of interests that could not be solved by peaceful methods and of the will to seek and to find a new way of life to happiness and freedom.
4.—The conflagration that has engulfed the continents and oceans of our earth in war has stirred in the hearts of men the world over, a deep desire for the ways of peace and happiness, and the masses of unprivileged humanity everywhere look to men of vision, learning and authority for a clear picture of that post-war world which will end their misery and set their feet on the paths of peace and progress.
5.—The African people share in this hope of a better post-war world. Their faith is engendered by the statements of international statesmen abroad (e.g., The Atlantic Charter), and by the forceful pronouncements of high-placed men in the Government (e.g.. The anti-segregation speech delivered by General Smuts at the Institute of Race Relations Conference in 1942).
6.—Moreover the African people realise that the measure of their share and place in the new and reconstituted post-war society depends, the legislature being such as it is, largely on the readiness of European public opinion to concede what it conceives to be the legitimate claims of the African people. It must be recognised, however, that the vested interests of the ruling class will ever be limiting factors in determining the rights that should be granted to the African people.
7.—Two factors are vital in creating that readiness of European public opinion to grant democratic rights to the African people:—
(a) The first is the enlistment of that growing and powerful minority of progres­sive minded, justice-loving, and far-sighted European element who un­fettered by colour and race prejudice, recognise that their good and that of the African people constitutes one indivisible whole. Of this class there are a good few. They are the leaven and the foundation of the happier and more prosperous South Africa of the future.
(b) The second factor is the preparedness of the African people to claim, to seize, and to use the rights which are inherently theirs and to which they are progressively entitled.
8.—In our opinion no solid advance can be made in the betterment of the conditions of the African people without the joint operation of these two factors, which are both complementary and supplementary.
9.—Of the injunctions to African leaders and their people not to alienate the sympathy of their European friends there is no lack, both in official quarters as well as in ordinary public life. There is happily evidence of the existence of an increasing volume of European opinion sympathetic to African aspirations, and there is further evidence that that body of opinion is in part organised, e.g., The Institute of Race Relations, Joint Councils, The Christian Council, the Friends of Africa, etc. The impact of these institutions and of the men and women of the liberal school has indeed resulted in the slight alleviation of the lot of the African people, but has hardly effected any material change in the political and economic system under which they live.
10.—Weakness has lain all too long in the comparative unpreparedness of the African people to pull their weight in the struggle for national liberation. Far too long the fear to antagonise European sympathisers, the desire to curry favour with the ruling class have withheld African leaders from doing their work. They have failed to realise that the unity of the masses is the first pre­paredness for the task to claim, to seize and to use, the opportunities that make for freedom and happiness.
11.—We believe, above all, in the method of peaceful negotiation by leaders whose influence derives from the mass support of their followers and, as a last resort, we believe in the weapon of mass passive resistance.
12.—For years now we have recognised the African National Congress as the organisation around which all African people of whatever class or de­nomination should rally. We pledged our fullest support to its leaders and its programme.
13.—There is unhappily in the ranks of Congress to-day disorganisation, political stagnation and general inaction. The leaders quarrel while the people die.
14.—Our times call for Unity, Organisation and Action. Further delay and inaction are inexcusable and criminal. The signs of the times bode ill for non-Europeans of this country; the Pretoria Riot, the threatened removal of Alexandra Township, the failure to raise the pay of African soldiers, the continued applica­tion of harsh and oppressive laws, the curtailment of the rights of Indians and Coloured people, the reaffirmation of the policy of Segregation by the Minister of Native Affairs, all portend a new post-war world in which the rights of the masses will be studiously ignored and violated.
15.—The need for a dynamic organisation, expressive of the spirit of the times and designed to remobilise African opinion to meet this imminent danger is, therefore, a matter of the utmost urgency and importance.


16.—Existing African organisations are characterised by general indecision and inactivity. This hesitancy arises not so much from divergent views on political objectives as from fundamental differences among the leaders on the "modus operand!" by which our political ends can be achieved.
17.—Two courses of action seem to present themselves:— (a) The Method of Revolt whereby the masses decide to use force in order to effect the necessary changes in the government of the country. This method is on the whole ruled out by the African people as grossly im­practical .
(b) The Policy of Appeasement. This school of thought believes that the problems of our race relations and the disabilities of the African people can only be removed by the logical presentation of facts, the persistent and courteous pleading of the down-trodden and by invoking the sympathy and the sense of justice of the ruling classes. This method of approach requires the leadership of the intelligentsia, which is often detached from the masses and fails to arouse and to enlist their interest. The policy of appeasement is the one in general use to-day in African politics. This explains the existing cleavage between African leaders and the masses. This policy is frequently and erroneously called the policy of moderation. It has the fullest support of the majority of Europeans in this country and has the special blessing of the government.
18.—In our opinion these lines of action represent two extremes and none of them can be effective in our complex South Africa. The fact that African leadership while wedded to the policy of appeasement has nevertheless called the masses to action, accounts for that lack of response, that indecision and helplessness, that sense of frustration which characterise African political organisations to-day. We cannot keep in the same political fold, the violent revolutionary and the spineless appeaser.
19.—It seems to us that the right modus operandi is a synthesis of these two extremes, whereby we shall harness the forces of reason in establishing the just claims of the African people while simultaneously exerting the necessary pressure in the right quarter through the quiet and orderly demonstrations of the masses and, where necessary, through the employment by the masses of the method of passive resistance. That rightly conceived is the Policy of Mod­eration, because it provides that happy and effective via media between Bloody Fight and Cheap Talk, and establishes that bond of contact between the leaders and the led, which galvanises the whole organisation into wholesome and effective action.
20.—This synthetic method is now generally recognised the world over as the Method of Peaceful Revolution—it is the method of the STRIKE used as the weapon of TRADE UNIONS throughout the world—it is the method of MASS PROTESTS and MASS DEMONSTRATIONS such as brought victory to the residents of Alexandra Township in their recent Bus dispute. This method requires for its success intelligent and disciplined leadership and the undivided loyalty and co-operation of the masses. It is not unaccompanied by sacrifices and hardships.


21.—An African political organisation which strives to liberate the masses by the employment of this method does not exist. We believe that such an organisation is eminently necessary and that its emergence would be symptomatic of the quickened political consciousness of the African people born of the critical circumstances in which they live.
22.—Such an organisation is the AFRICAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY, which we propose to launch forthwith, as a political organisation with a definite programme and a definite method of action. We repeat that the African De­mocratic Party differs from other African political organisations not in the ends for which it strives, but in the method by which it hopes to attain its goal. Its programme deals with immediate and pressing claims, and its methods are militant and their execution depends on the masses.


23.—The African Democratic Party believes that basically the so-called "Native Problem" is an economic problem that is complicated by social and racial issues, and that inasmuch as South Africa can only have one industrial economy for Black and White, the policy of industrial, territorial and political segregation is incompatible with the fullest economic development of the country and repugnant to the principles of liberty and justice.
24.—The African Democratic Party realises that the role of the African in South African industry is at present that of Labour and that the policy of the country is designed to render the African people a cheap mobile and unskilled labour force for the use of the mining and farming industries. This policy imposes intolerable hardships upon the African people and is economically, indefensible.
25.—The African Democratic Party believes it incumbent upon the African people to oppose this policy of economic enslavement, as much for the greater prosperity and well-being of all sections of the South African population as for their own good.
26.—The African Democratic Party believes that this struggle for economic emancipation involves:—
(a) The removal of the present restrictions on the acquisition of LAND by the African people and the distribution of the land on a more just and equitable basis between all sections of the population.
(b) A LIVING WAGE to be paid to all labourers both in the towns and in the country. For this purpose the African Democratic Party believes that the formation of African Trade Unions be encouraged in both town and country and that the fullest recognition under the Industrial Conciliation Act be accorded them. The Party regards a living wage as the best insurance against malnutrition and many forms of Social Insecurity.
(c) The provision of adequate EDUCATIONAL facilities for the acquisition of skill and literacy in order that the African should pull his weight in creating and increasing the national income and so that he may the more fully enjoy the fruits and benefits of civilization.
(d) The abolition of the INDUSTRIAL COLOUR BAR and all restrictions which place colour and class above merit and ability. To this end the African should be allowed to attain to whatever rank his ability and talent qualify him.
(e) FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT—the right to come and go.  This means the abolition of the Pass System in all its forms.
27.—The African Democratic Party is fully aware that there can be no settlement of the entire economic problem while the bulk of the population representing the African people remains unrepresented and in effect voiceless in the councils of the state. The Native Representation Act does not give any real representation to the African people. Accordingly the African Democratic Party believes that the struggle for economic emancipation must proceed at the same time as the struggle for a share of the political power now exclusively wielded by 20 per cent of the total population. This implies not only direct representation in the Councils of the State, but also a share in the more responsible ranks of administration.


28.—Fundamentally, the African Democratic Party stands for the granting of DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS TO THE AFRICAN PEOPLE. In that sense it stands for Liberty, Justice and Economic Security.
29.—The party has not come to usurp the place and function of any existing organisation: it has not come to destroy but to fulfil. Within the framework of its constitution it seeks and welcomes the co-operation of persons and other • organisations which are working in a like direction and for the same ends.
30.—FREEDOM comes to men as they deserve it. They deserve it when they WORK for it, PRAY for it and SACRIFICE for it. The watchwords of the African Democratic Party therefore are:—