At the Emergency Meeting of the National Executive of the African National Congress held at Thaba 'Nchu on Sunday, May 21st 1950, the attitude of the A.N.C., to the Suppression of Communism Act (then called the Unlawful Organisations Bill) was discussed. It was agreed to launch a campaign for a National Day of Protest. It was suggested that on that day, to mark their general dissatisfaction with the position in this country the African people should refrain from going to work and regard that day as a Day of Mourning for all those Africans who lost their lives in the struggle for liberation. The actual date on which the Protest would be held would be announced in due course. The Secretary General was instructed to communicate with the leaders of the other National Organisations to establish a machinery for the implementation of this decision.
Following upon this resolution, and after consultation with leaders of other National Organisations, a National Day of Protest Coordinating Committee was set up with head-quarters in Johannesburg. The composition of the Committee was originally planned to consist of seven members from the African National Congress, and two representatives from each of the following organisations:—The South African Indian Congress, the African Peoples' Organisation, the Communist Party of South Africa and the Transvaal Council of Non-European Trade Unions. The Presidents of the A.N.C., the S.A.I.C., the A.P.O. and Chairman of the C.P. were to be ex-officio members of this Committee, making a total of nineteen members. Only the A.N.C., S.A.I.C. and the C.P. were actually represented on the Committee.
The African Peoples' Organisation passed the following resolutions:—
''That the A. P. 0. supports the proposed Day of Mourning with the following proviso, namely, that proper organisation be carried out and that we then assess our organisational strength and, to expedite this matter, a United Front be established on the following basis:
- Equal Rights for All.
- Against the Bills."
Furthermore, the A.P.O. felt that the precipitate manner in which the Day of Mourning was declared left the participating bodies very little time to build up their organisation and prepare their members for the Day of Protest. The Transvaal Council of Non-European Trade Unions supported the Protest morally. They sent no representatives to the Committee. The representation of the Communist Party of South Africa automatically lapsed when the Party dissolved.
On the 11th June 1950, the President-General, acting on the authority of the National Executive, and after consulting with the other National leaders, released a Press Statement declaring Monday June 26, 1950 a National Day of Protest and called upon the African People in their united millions to observe it as such by refraining from going to work on that Day, and appealed to all South Africans of all races to respond to the call of their leaders for the observance of this unique day in the history of South Africa. The Presidents of the S.A.I.C., and A.P.O. and Chairman of the C.P. pledged the wholehearted active support of their organisations to this call and appealed to the white voters and working class of South Africa to join the struggle for the defeat of these tyrannical measures and for the extension of democracy to all.
The head-quarters of the National Day of Protest Committee were at the offices of the A.N.C., Johannesburg. Messrs W.M. Sisulu and Y.A. Cachalia were elected Joint Secretaries. Mr. N.R.D. Mandela was placed in charge of the office. Members of the National Executive and other leading members of Congress were given specific duties. Dr. J.S. Moroka and Mr. O.R. Tambo visited Natal to assist in the implementation of this decision. Mr. Sisulu toured the Eastern Province concentrating in Port Elizabeth and East London. Mr. Gaur Radebe went to the O.F.S. Messrs C.S. Ramohanoe and E. Mofutsanyana also toured the Free State. Mr. D. Tloome toured the Western Transvaal and Kimberley. Mr. Moses Kotane was instructed to organise the Western Province.
Provincial, district, regional and local Coordinating Committees were established throughout the country.
Soon after the Emergency Meeting at Thaba 'Nchu, young men and women spontaneously came forward and freely placed their services at the disposal of the National Executive. Mr. Diliza Mji, a fourth year Medical Student at the University of the Witwatersrand, gave up his studies and devoted himself full-time to the campaign. Mr. Mji was sent down to Durban where he did outstanding service.
An amount of approximately £ 150 (One hundred and Fifty pounds) was spent by the A.N.C. before the N.D.P.C.C. took over. Out of this amount £ 25 (Twenty-five pounds) was paid to the N.D.P.C.C. as a contribution by the A.N.C. towards the funds of the Committee.
Asa result of the National Day of Protest a number of people were victimised especially in Durban where a large number of workers lost their jobs. The Committee had to assume the responsibility of maintaining these people. To meet this situation, a fund raising campaign has been launched with the aim of raising £30,000. I might mention that a big debt was incurred by the Committee in organising the campaign for a National Day of Protest and funds have to be raised to redeem this liability. With this end in view, a team of collectors has been sent out to various parts of the country to appeal for donations. An Entertainment Committee has been set up to raise funds by staging concerts, tea-parties, bazaars and similar functions.
A further report on the results of this fund raising campaign will be submitted in due course.
Having regard to the fact that the Committee had only two weeks to prepare, and in the face of intensive and relentless police intimidation, and after studying the reports from various parts of the country, I am perfectly satisfied that, as a political strike, Monday June 26, was an outstanding success. Full details regarding this fact are contained in the report of the National Day of Protest Coordinating Committee which is attached herein.
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