Harry Snitcher 1, Unite Against Segregation! Condemn the C.A.C. [1943]

South Africa’s Radical Tradition: A documentary history, Volume two 1943 – 1964. 

Edited by Alison Drew.

Part one

Harry Snitcher 1, Unite Against Segregation! Condemn the C.A.C. [1943]

Document 1

In spite many leading representatives of the Coloured and Malay people, the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Lawrence, has declared that the Government will carry out its proposal of appointing a Coloured People's Council, to be "the only body recognized by the Government to express the views of the Coloured community." Mr Lawrence says this step has been taken only after consultation with "leading lured community".

Who are leaders, and why the secrecy about this "consultation"? If the so-called leaders do really represent Coloured opinion, they should at least have found what the view of the great mass of non- Europeans is on the matter. Why did they not call a representative conference to work out proposals to place Government?

In spite of the statement by the President of the A.P.O. that his Executive supports the Lawrence Commission, the great majority of members of the A.P.O. are opposed to it. This is shown by solutions passed recently by numbers of branches.

This is a matter of great importance to the masses of the Coloured people. No Executive committee has the right to decide the fate of the people without consulting them. The voice of the people must be heard.

The Communist Party considers this issue must be approached in the light of statements that have been made in recent years by the heads of Government. Our Party's standard by which we judge this action is in the first place an uncompromising opposition to all forms of segregation. We are of the opinion that the setting up of such a Council is essentially a big step towards the segregation of the Coloured community which has been foreshadowed in the statements of Government spokesmen.

SEGREGATION

Why do we think this? Why do we say this Council is a segregation measure?

In the first place, Mr. Lawrence has stated that the Government is carrying out the policy laid down by General Hertzog in 1938 regarding the Coloured community.

This policy was one of residential and social segregation and political discrimination.

General Smuts, in the House of Assembly, has repeated that it is the Government's policy to segregate the Coloured into separate residential areas.

When statements such as these are linked up with the colour bar clauses in the Factories Act that was passed two years ago, with the undemocratic and unjust discrimination against African and Coloured soldiers in the army, and with the main­tenance of Colour discrimination in education and social legislation generally, the Communist Party can come to only one conclusion, which is that the Government is carrying out, and determined to carry out, a policy of segregation.

It is necessary the people of South Africa should be made to understand the dangers that lie in this scheme of a separate Council.

It introduces the principle of communal representation, i.e., that the political system of this country should be organized along purely racial lines. This is absolutely a violation of every principle of democracy, and is in essence a Fascist conception.

THE ACCEPTANCE OF THIS PROPOSAL, IN OUR OPINION, WILL OPEN THE WAY TO A DIRECT ATTACK ON THE EXISTING POLITI­CAL RIGHTS OF THE COLOUREDS; THEY WILL BE THREATENED WITH THE LOSS OP THEIR FRANCHISE, JUST AS THE AFRICANS LOST THEIR VOTE AFTER THE NATIVE AFFAIRS COMMISSION HAD BEEN SET UP.

It is all the more regrettable that the Government should come forward to-day with a proposal of this kind, which expresses the Fascist ideas against which the country is mobilized. This will have the effect of undermining the morale of the non-Europeans and their enthusiasm for the war. They have proved their willingness to sacrifice their lives in this struggle for human liberty against Fascism and its bestial forms of racial oppression and intolerance.

IS THE ONLY REWARD FOR THEIR COURAGE AND SELF-SACRIFICE TO BE THE APPOINTMENT OF A COLOURED ADVISORY COUNCIL?

SEPARATE REPRESENTATION

The coloured people do not want separate representation nor will it be in their interests.

What they want is political rights, decent wages, the right to work, better housing, compulsory education, equal pay and allowances for their soldiers and dependants.

These are things they have asked for, which authorities of different kinds have stated over and over again the Coloured people require. The Government can give them these things.

It is our job to see it does so, instead of Continuing the policy of appeasing the Malans, Pirows, Louws, and Van Rensburgs? 2

The Communist Party has on all occasions declared its uncompromising opposition to mist measures, and will throw all its energies into a struggle against this toe achievement of the positive demands of the non-European peoples. Racial harmony in South Africa can exist only if the non-Europeans are given those are denied them to-day.

The Communist Party will co-operate with all bodies and persons who are fighting for these things, and it calls upon all non-Europeans in the Cape, as well as progressive minded people of all other races, to join in a united and determined struggle against the Lawrence Segregation Scheme.

We welcome those steps which have already 'been taken by non-European organizations to carry out a united struggle against this scheme.

Democratic Rights for All!

At a conference of the Cape District Branch of the Communist Party, held at Cape Town on March 14, the following resolutions were adopted:

RESOLUTIONS

“The Conference views with alarm the recent statements by General J.C. Smuts and Lawrence, declaring the Government's support of a policy of social, political and residential segregation. It calls for the immediate withdrawal of these statements as contrary to the Atlantic Charter and the democratic principles for which the, non-European soldiers have been asked to sacrifice themselves in the war. “ The Conference unreservedly condemns the establishment of the Cape Coloured at Commission as a measure designed to facilitate further segregation of the Coloured and Malay peoples. It draws attention to the fact that the Government arbitrarily appoints the members of the Commission and not democratically elected by the Coloured and Malay communities, and that the Commission has no administrative or executive powers whatever, but is purely advisory. It calls upon the Coloured and Malay peoples and all progressive sections of the population to wage a struggle against the Commission, and urges every non-European to boycott the Commission by refusing to accept appointment as a member."

The Communist Party reiterates its demand for democratic rights for the non-Europeans. Victory over Fascism can be secured only if all sections of the people are allowed their full part in the great struggle for human freedom. The Government must act NOW.

Issued by the Communist Party of South Africa, Cape District Committee, P.O. Box Cape Town.

Last updated : 10-Aug-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 13-Oct-2014