Minutes of the ANC Annual Conference, December 15-17, 1940

11 a.m. DEVOTIONAL OPENING AND NATIONAL SERVICE

A Telegram was read from the Senior Chaplain Revd. A. S. Mtimkulu apolo­gising for his absence and asking the Revd. J. A. Calata to act for him. This was accepted by the Conference and the National Service was conducted by the Revd. J. A. Calata.

3 p.m. OFFICIAL OPENING

A letter was read from Revd. Z. R. Mahabane, President General, apologising for his inability to be present at the official opening and giving full authority to the Speaker, Mr. T. M. Mapikela, M.R.C. and the Secretary General to take charge of the proceedings of the Conference till he came. Conference agreed and elected Revd. J. A. Calata Temporary President General.

Mr. Mapikela apologised for the Mayor Mr. Sutton who was unable to attend to open the conference through illness, he then called upon the Police Sergeant in charge of the Location to welcome the Conference.

The Sergeant in opening the Conference expressed appreciation to the loyal assistance given to the Government and local officials by members of the Con­gress and wished the Conference success in its deliberations in Bloemfontein.

The thanks of the conference were expressed by the Speaker and Acting President.

PRELIMINARIES:
Press Secretary: Mr. S. Mac. Lepolesa was elected.
Interpreter: Mr. B. E. Mnyobo was elected.
Official Language: Mr. S. M. Bennet Ncwana seconded by Mr. J. Malangabi moved: That only African Languages such as Xhosa, Sesutho, Zulu, or Sechuana be used at this Conference and that European Languages be used only when it is necessary and then as secondary languages.

Mr. S. Oliphant seconded by Mr. J. L. Lobe re moved as an amendment that the procedure for discussion shall follow the usual tradition of this house which allows freedom to individuals to use the language best understandable to him and the Conference.

A long discussion followed, the speaker supporting the original motion. The Acting President ruled that the matter await the arrival of the President-General Revd. Mahabane.

CREDENTIALS of the delegates were scrutinised by Messrs S. Oliphant and Mr. S. Mac. Lepolesa and the quorum of 25 members having been found present the Speaker declared the Conference duly constituted.
The following were then elected as the Resolutions Committee upon whom would devolve the question of submitting findings on a resolution from the Cape African Congress asking for the final settlement of the Western Province and C.A.C. dispute:
Revd. Z. R. Mahabane, Revd. J. A. Calata, Messrs. Champion, Malangabi, Gula, Baloyi, Marks, Kotane, Ncwana, Oliphant, Thubisi, Lepolesa, Lobere, with power to add to the number. The Committee to meet in the Board Room at 8 p.m. Conference adjourned at 5:45 p.m.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 16th:

9:30 a.m. Conference resumed.
Revd. J. A. Calata reported the previous day's proceedings and handed over to President General Mahabane.
President General introduced Professor Jabavu the President of the All Afri­can Convention and called upon him to address the conference.
Professor Jabavu in a few remarks said that every black man desired to see the success of the Congress conference.
President General thanked Professor Jabavu on behalf of the Conference.
President General then introduced Advocate Molteno M.P. for Cape Western Circle.
The President General moved a vote of condolence to Dr. A. Abdurahman's family for their bereavement through the death of Dr. Abdurahman-carried.
The conference rose in silence.
The Native Commissioner for Bloemfontein then addressed the conference. He dealt at length with the war situation. He was interrupted by members of the conference when he spoke of the unswerving loyalty of the Congress to the Government.
Mr. Z. K. Matthews of Fort Hare moved the vote of thanks and explained to the Native Commissioner that the interruption to his remarks were not due to disloyalty to the Government on part of the members but that they did not want the officials to interpret African loyalty as allowing the Government to carry on its repressive policy as before.

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF AFRICAN WOMEN:

Resolved that Mr. Baloyi and Mr. Lobere send greetings of the African National Congress to the National Council of African Women also sitting in Bloemfontein at the same time as the Congress.

The Bishop of Bloemfontein, Dr. Howe-Browne then addressed the Congress. He spoke on the progress the Africans had rapidly made and exhorted them to adopt the Festina lente policy in their undertakings.
Dr. A. B. Xuma thanked the Bishop on behalf of the conference and stressed the importance of the fact that if Europeans regarded Africans as a child race which had still to grow they must remember that one of the duties of the parents to children was to remove all obstacles in the way in order to hasten the development and progress of the child.

Votes of Condolence were passed to the Barolong Tribe on the death of Chief P. J. Moroka and Chief's. Moroka the conference rising in the usual way.
Conference adjourned at 12:30 p.m.
Conference resumed at 2:30 p.m.
Mrs. Nothandile Kuse conveyed the greetings from the National Council of African Women.
Miss Palmer replied on behalf of the Conference and stressed the need for closer co-operation between the two bodies.

3:00 p.m. PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS.

This was read in English by the President General. Copy of the Address is attached to these minutes.
Mr. S. Oliphant seconded by Mr. P. Phahlane, Sergeant at arms, moved the acceptance—agreed.
Mr. Nkomo seconded by Mr. J. B. Marks moved the vote of thanks—Agreed. Advocate Molteno M. P. Western Circle, Cape, then addressed the Congress. He first gave apologies for Senator Rheinallt-Jones whom he expected to arrive on Tuesday, and for Senator Malcomess and Mrs. Ballinger who could not attend. He gave a very inspiring address in which he explained how and why they decided to support General Smuts on the War issue. That did not commit the representatives to supporting the Government policy on Native Affairs. They were not satisfied that the African should not be given something to fight for. They wished to see much more social equality and much more economic equali­ty after this war.
Mr. Champion seconded by Revd. E. E. Mahabane moved a vote of thanks-Carried.

LANDS:

Mr. A. W. Champion, Secretary for Lands and Locations read a very interest­ing paper giving account of his stewardship. This was accepted by the Conference.

PROVINCIAL REPORTS:

The Cape African Congress report was read by Mr. J. 0. Sitela ofCradock.
The O. F. S. Report was ready by Mr. J. Nkoane.
The Western Province report was read by Mr. S. Oliphant.
No reports came from Transvaal and Natal.

EXECUTIVE REPORTS:

The Secretary General read the Executive Report.
The Treasurer General read the Financial Statement.
Both reports were accepted. Copies of same are attached to these minutes.

6:30 p.m. ELECTION OF THE PRESIDENT-GENERAL:

Mr. R. G. Baloyi seconded by Mr. J. Malangabi moved the name of Dr. A. B. Xuma, M.D. etc.
Mr. A. Thubisi seconded by Mr. P. Phahlane moved the name of Revd. Z. R. Mahabane, the retiring President.
The Secretary General was asked to state whether both candidates' names had been submitted to him according to the constitution. He replied in the affirmative in the case of Dr. Xuma's name only but that it lay with the conference to accept further nominations.
Both names were then put. Voting was by ballot. Dr. Xuma-21, Revd. Mahabane-20. Dr. Xuma was declared elected. Revd. Z. R. Mahabane then addressed the conference promising his support and wishing Dr. Xuma success.
Dr. A. B. Xuma thanked the conference for electing him. He spoke on the urgent need of organisation then ended up by a confession of his creed: “ I believe that an African is a human being. I believe that he should have the same rights politically, educationally, and economically as every one else, and believ­ing that every man and every woman should work hard so as to make this belief a reality I call upon every African to be up and doing and we shall have a place in South Africa." Applause.
Conference adjourned at 7:15 p.m.
9:00 p.m. A Reception concert and Dance was held in honour of the delegates.

TUESDAY 9:30 a.m. Conference resumed.

In the absence of the Speaker Mr. T. M. Mapikela the Reverend Z. R. Mahabane took the chair and the conference discussed the resolutions presented by the Resolutions committee and passed the following:

1/40 THE WAR:

This conference re-affirms the resolution passed by the Joint Executive Com­mittees of the African National Congress and the All African Convention on the 7th July 1940-the resolution reads as follows: [see document 61, below].

2/40 MILITARY RATES OF PAY:

This conference views with great concern the attitude of military authorities in discriminating among the military rates of pay for African and Coloured war recruits.

3/40 SUBVERSIVE CONDUCT-TRADE UNIONS:

This conference disagrees and strongly opposes the view that it is wrong for Non-Europeans to pay attention to their economic and political grievances during the war. It asserts that Non-European demands for democratic rights and trade union organisations cannot be separated from the world-wide struggle for freedom and social justice.
Conference views with dissatisfaction the absence of a clear definition by the Government, of the words "subversive conduct". It therefore urges that a clear definition of these words be made and guarantees be given that the organisation of Africans into trade unions, the organising of campaigns for increased allow­ances for dependents of Non-European soldiers and for economic, political and social advancement will not be regarded as subversive or in conflict with the Government's war policy.

4/40 CONDITIONS OF SERVICE:

In view of the fact that Africans have been called to make this supreme sacrifice for the prosecution of the war, this Congress respectfully requests the Government to explain why conditions of service for Africans on active service are not placed under the same category as those of other sections of the popula­tion of this country who are also on active service.

5/40 CAPE AFRICAN CONGRESS & WESTERN PROVINCE A.N.C.:

This 29th conference of the African National Congress held at Bloemfontein on 15th to 16th December 1940, having reviewed the differences of the adher­ents of the A.N.C. in the Western Province takes this opportunity to appeal to the loyalty of the community at large to accept the decision of this conference, namely, "One Province for the Cape Province as a whole."

6/40 LODGERS' PERMITS:

This conference resolves that Lodgers' fees and lodgers' permits must be abolished because,
(a) they disorganise and disrupt family life and family discipline;
(b) they impose further direct taxation on the head of the family as boys and girls of 18 years of age who are under these regulations prohibited to live with their parents are still minors and juveniles. Congress therefore instructs its branches and other affiliated bodies to work for the abolition of such regulations.

7/40 AFRICAN WAGES:

Whereas the attention of Congress has been drawn to the fact that representa­tions made by Africans for increase and stabilisation of their wage levels have in many places met with no response, the African National Congress respectfully requests the Minister of Labour to instruct the Wage Board to visit not the larger centres of labour only, but also the smaller centres and there make or give effect to the wage determination in all spheres of employment.

8/40 REDUCTION OF CATTLE:

That the African National Congress respectfully requests the Government to leave the question of the provisions of the Cattle Improvement Act to the discretion of the chief or headman and his people who may, if they so desire request the application thereof in that particular area or locality.

9/40 NATIVE SERVICE CONTRACTS:

The African National Congress respectfully requests the Government to re­move the illogical and anomalous provisions contained in the Masters and Ser­vants Acts whereby a contract made and entered into by the father becomes binding on all members of his family including those who have been tacitly emancipated by the Government by reason of their being taxpayers.

10/40 SOCIAL SERVICES:

In view of the incontestable fact that very serious and urgent social problems have arisen amongst the African urban population, the African National Congress should create a separate portfolio for Social Welfare; the holder thereof will investigate and report on the Welfare of children, the blind, physically handi­capped (cripples), aged and infirm persons, and other matters handled by the Government Department of Social Welfare.

11/40 MEMBERSHIP CARD:

This conference re-affirms the previous resolution that there should be a uniform membership card for all the Provinces of the Congress. To curtail print­ing expenses this conference favours the issue of membership cards whose dura­tion will be for a least three years.

12/40 AFRICAN ORGANISATIONS:

That this Conference of the A.N.C. realising that the Political situation calls for a united effort on the part of the African people recommends the advisability of appointing a Joint committee of the A.N.C. and the A.A.C. to consider the relationship of these two bodies.

13/40 NYANGA AND AFRICAN DINGAKA ASSOCIATIONS:

This conference approves of the aims of the Nyanga association as presented in the Memorandum before it and recommends
1. the deletion of section 4. (d) and substituting the following "To claim the African inherent right of practising in his own methods the art and call of Medical Science."
2. The creation of an African Medicinal Fraternity and the Registration of same.
The conference resolves to reconsider the whole Memorandum from African Dingaka Association in conjunction with that from the Bantu Nyanga Association at the next conference.
Revd. Z. R. Mahabane reported on the Conference of the National Child Welfare Association which he attended on invitation.
The President General then nominated his cabinet as follows:
The Governor of the House of Chiefs: Chief G. S. Kama The Speaker: Mr. R. V. Selope Thema M.R.C. Senior Chaplain: Revd. Z. R. Mahabane Secretary General: Revd. J. A. Calata Treasurer General: Cr. R. G. Baloyi Secretary for Chiefs: Dr. P. Ka I. Seme, B.A., L.L.D. Secretary for Law: Lionel Mtimkulu Secretary for Labour: E. T. Mofutsanyana Secretary for Lands and Locations: A.W.G. Champion Secretary for Education: Prof. Z. K. Matthews, M.A. Assistant Secretary General: To be appointed later. Deputy Speaker: S. Mac. Lepolesa Serjeant at arms: Peter Pahlana Asst. Serjeant at Arms: James Mpinda Mr. S. Oliphant seconded by Mr. W. F. Nkomo B.Sc., moved the election of the nominated cabinet. Agreed unanimously.
Resolved: That the President and Cabinet should elect Representatives for the Mendi Memorial Scholarship Association. Resolved: That the following form a Committee to revise the Constitution:
President-General Dr. Xuma (Convenor)
Secretary General J. A. Calata
S. Oliphant
J. Malangabi
L. Mtimkulu
Prof. Z. K. Matthews
Rev. Z. R. Mahabane

VENUE OF NEXT CONFERENCE:

Mr. S. M. Bennet Ncwana moved and Mr. J. Malangabi seconded that the next conference be held at Bloemfontein—Carried.

MOTIONS OF THANKS:

To Revd. Z. R. Mahabane for the successful way in which he piloted the Congress during his three years of Presidency.
To Mr. T. M. Mapikela for the able manner in which he performed the onerous duties of a Speaker for the last 28 years of the life of the African National Congress.
To Mr. Nkoane, Mrs. Mohlakoana and other members of the working Com­mittee of the Bloemfontein Branch for the able manner in which they had dis­charged their duties.

The President General made a few remarks and the conference closed at 11 p.m.