Statement at Press ConfererRe on Coming General Election, by Dr. A. B. Xuma, April 5, 1948 

The coming General Election for white South Africa for the election of Europeans only and voted for by a white electorate, in the main emphasises the anomalous idea of democracy in South Africa. Judged by world standards there is no democracy in South Africa. The authority of the state is vested in an oligarchy—a despotic colour oligarchy—a white oligarchy which has established the aristocracy of the white colour of the skin as the emblem of supremacy. Their philosophy and the basis of their national policy in race and colour relations is that white is might and white is right. Put in the language of the former South African republics in their Grondwet, "There shall be no equality between black and white either in Church or in State". This expression is not a mere "wish being mother to the thought". It is a fait accompli—an accomplished fact. It is practice; it is the bedrock of the South African native policy in Church and in State. The Apartheid policy of the Nationalist Party is nothing new and should be nothing surprising to any honest and serious student of colour relations. It is a mere elaboration, a natural and logical growth of the Union Native Policy with improvements and progressiveness by proposing the inclusion of Indians and Coloured people. It is, perhaps, to plagiarise the Union Prime Minister, General Smuts, a "Holism" in Union Non-European affairs.

There is evidence abundant that all concerned realise that we are living in a changing world under changing circumstances. The world outlook and world thought has been affected by silent revolution associated with the recent war. The Non-Whites or Non-Europeans in South Africa like other peoples have not escaped the influence of this world revolution of thought, ideas and outlook. They served "King and Country" during the war and are now thursting [sic] for progress and advancement as well as an opportunity to live as free men and to develop according to their God-given abilities and capacities without lack or hindrance. Ruling white South Africa, however, is not at all prepared to give equality of opportunity to Non-Europeans. There may be some small measures of relief, but no release. For themselves and their children they (the Europeans) look forward to a future of progress but for Non-Europeans they look backward. They want to divide the Non-Europeans into separate controllable and exploitable entities thus unwittingly limiting the Non-European's potential contribution nationally in the hope that such a policy will help maintain "Western Civilisation" or "White Supremacy" whatever that means. They would rather commit this national economic suicide since the educational and economic restric­tions and disabilities imposed upon the majority of Non-Whites at present undermine national efficiency and the productivity of the country. The national income is thus reduced and progress of the country retarded socially, educationally economically and politically in proportion to the degree equality of opportunity is denied Non-Europeans in all spheres of national activity.

To mention just a few points of illustration, Africans are debarred from skilled employment and may not be apprenticed. They are not recognised as employees under the Industrial Conciliation Act—the Charter of White workers in South Africa. Their trade unions therefore, are denied statutory recognition under the industrial act. Only a third of African children can be admitted into overcrowded Mission schools. But for this laudable effort of Mission bodies there would hardly be any education for Africans while education for Whites in all its aspects is a State responsibility. Education for Non-Europeans, especially Africans, is not a State responsibility, it is only subsidised by the State to a limited extent.

Mention was made before about the queer coming General Election. Attention of those concerned must be drawn to just a few anomalies to remove the camouflage of South Africa being called a democracy. A new House of As­sembly—the law-making chamber of South Africa—is to be elected but only the Whites or Europeans have a full franchise. Even the few Coloured people and Indians who will participate in the Cape Province have a loaded franchise. They must meet an educational, property and/or income qualification. The Euro­pean does not need such a qualification. He or she must be 21 years of age or over and must have a white skin entitling him or her to be recognized as of European descent and therefore a citizen.

During this election not a single African is entitled to participate not even under the loaded franchise. Eight million Africans are supposed to have three European members to represent them in a house of 150 representatives for 2 million Europeans. They have four European senators as representatives as against 40 senators for Europeans. Some of those senators are supposed to represent between one million and four million Africans each. This appears more like misrepresentation than representation. This arrangement was forced upon the African population, it was not a wilful surrender of their citizenship rights for something else. They rejected the proposal which nevertheless became law because the European Parliament needed it in order to establish "White Supremacy".

South African minds in colour relations have watertight multi-compartmented minds with outlooks not of principal but of expediency. For instance Mr. H.G. Lawrence, Minister of the Interior and Justice, in commenting on Apartheid is reported as saying: "I know of [no] greater betrayal of any community than is contained in this policy." I do not believe any decent people will rectify and approve a document and policy which consists not only of a betrayal but is a grave injustice to a section of the people which had served South Africa faithfully and well in peace and in war.

"A betrayal and great injustice" had been made to the Africans in the 1936 Acts and to the Indians in the Asiatic Act in 1946. These communities have served South Africa faithfully and well in peace and war. A betrayal and injustice are habits that crop up when one would like to act decently. Fed on them in African and Indian affairs, the Coloured section is in immediate danger and in fact certain white minorities might be next. No country can busy itself in trying to establish four grades of citizenship without resorting to practices which can hardly be looked upon as fair, just and honest.

Having accomplished political and residential apartheid between Europeans and Africans, the Asiatic Act in 1946 extended the same policy to the Indians in South Africa. The Apartheid-report including the Coloured people is a logical suggestion of a growing colour policy. Here the Nationalist Apartheid-report introduces nothing new. They are merely playing the part of Doctor Rosenberg in Hitler's Germany who philosophised in justification of the policy that already existed.

The existence of political Apartheid or segregation between Europeans and Africans in the past twelve years has widened the gap between Africans and Europeans. It has suggested increasing clash instead of community of interests. The handful of so-called "Native Representatives" have found themselves constantly opposed to the views of the majority of Parliament because most of the legislation in Parliament is either intended to exclude Africans from certain benefits or to deprive them of certain benefits or freedoms. This situation has created an apparent clash of interest and consequent deterioration of race relations between Europeans and Africans.

The passing of the Asiatic Act in 1946 has merely aggravated a worsening situation and added dimension if not more cause to the tension in colour relations. Apply Apartheid to the Coloureds and the vicious circle is complete.

Apartheid, segregation or separation—call it what you may—on a colour basis is political fraud. Any of these words is a mere euphemism for exploitation. Trusteeship as used in South African politics is another abused word. The so-called trustee, the European Government, is self-appointed and administers the estate in their (the Europeans) own interest and not that of the so-called ward. He has appropriated three quarters of the land, all political, educational and economic advantages for himself. The so-called ward—the Non-European is thus deprived of full facilities and incentives to progress. In fact, the whole policy of administration is intended to assure everlasting trusteeship and perpetual wardship. A ward that never grows.

General Smuts, speaking in Kimberley the other day is reported as saying, "South Africa is considered to be one of the best governed countries in the world." This the Right Honourable Prime Minister might accept as an expedient because to him South Africa has a population of eleven million during the war when the country requires the services of all to die in defence of South Africa, and only a little over two million white citizens when peacetime enjoyment of privileges prevails. I say any other people who will accept such a statement as was made by General Smuts can only say so if they do not know the treatment of the Non-Europeans in South Africa. They may only know South Africa through General Smuts and his agents. He seems to be one man at home and another abroad. Perhaps the recent distinguished American visitors composed of publishers and journalists fit the description. They met General Smuts, Mr. Lawrence and perhaps other Government dignitaries. They were in the country about 8 or 10 days not travelling through it but flying over it. Perhaps the nearest to Africans was with riksha boys. Notwithstanding this when they gave their impression of South African colour relations, one wondered which South Africa they spoke of.
I have great sympathy with these distinguished visitors. I presume they were a charming lot of men. They made perfect guests for their host although they seem to have shown innocence, honest lack of correct information of local race relations in their farewell interviews.

The African National Congress at its last annual conference voted for the reelection of the retiring members of the Native Representative Council as far as possible not because we thought the Council a useful body. We did so to enable the Government to meet most of the same men whom the Government deliberately side-stepped in 1947 by not calling the statutory meeting of the Council because these men had twice adjourned in 1947 in protest against the Government's discriminatory legislation and demanded the abolition of such legislation. In doing this they were carrying out and supporting the policy of the African National Congress. We wanted them to hold this Government machinery from being captured by collaborators. We admire them and con­gratulate them for their stand and solidarity. We expect them to use this machinery in the cause of national freedom and full citizenship. I have been asked as to what guarantee I had that they will be loyal to the implications of the resolution of the African National Congress. My answer is, I have none. I however, have faith and confidence in their course of responsibility and loyalty to our cause and ideal. Their own stand since August 1947 is indisputable evidence of such responsibility and sincerity. Any change of attitude on their part will be a betrayal of the peoples' cause and a surrender of their principle if they abandon their resolution.

In conclusion, I may state that soothing phrases and paternal advise from those who would urge us to bear our oppression a little longer by saying "Rome was not built in a day" make no impression on thinking Non-Europeans. They know what they want and more than that, they know that the present policy is not in the best interest for South Africa, and future generations of both colours will not thank us for it.

Good feeling, mutual respect and cooperation is impossible of attainment in South Africa until we return to the old Cape principle of a common voters role. All the other systems that are in operation or are projected by the ruling class will only aggravate the present tense situation.

Even the Fagan Commission report is a truly typical South African political and legalistic document which recognises the facts of the situation but avoids recommending the obvious remedy. It merely wants to palliate with the system within the framework of policy. It lacks the detached, scientific, social approach which alone would be constructive.

The Union Parliament and Governments of the future must be made truly representative of the whole population. Members of Parliament must be rendered responsible and responsive to all the sections and colours alike. The authority of the State must be exercised in the interest of all and not for the powerful white minority. This can only come about if a common franchise is established for all.

Indians, Coloured and Africans must play their full part in the interest of future generations of white and black in South Africa, to save South Africa from committing national suicide. They must realise that democratic rights are not a free gift. They are to be earned. They must organise their respective communities for this campaign for right and justice. They must not fight Europeans or Whites. They must fight the policy of discrimination and differentiation.

All men and women of goodwill of all races in South Africa must organise public opinion in order to attain common citizenship for all races and to put in the language of the Charter of the United Nations to establish in South Africa "respect for human rights and fundamental freedom for all without dis­tinction as to race, sex, language or religion."