African National Congress (ANC)

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African National Congress Timeline 1930-1939

During this period the ANC cooperated with other organisations such as the APO and the NIC to fight increasing segregation imposed by the white minority government. A case in point was the Non European Convention in Kimberley and the All Africa Convention (AAC) in Bloemfontein. Far from being a united force for a significant part of the 1930s, the ANC was plagued by divisions and factionalism, evidenced by the frequency of change in its leadership. A split of the Cape branch of the ANC led to the formation of the Independent ANC. Pixley ka Seme succeeded Josiah Gumede as president general on 30 April 1930; Reverend R Mahabane replaced Gumede as President-General in 1937; and in 1940 Mahabane was replaced by AB Xuma. In the late 1930s the ANC began reorganising itself by revitalising its branches.  Significantly, the ICU declined and ceased to be the dominant force in the South African political landscape.     

1930
Africans are moved out of the south of Fietas, Johannesburg (between 17th and 24th Streets) to Orlando (the first township of Soweto), and Coloured and Tamil people move in.
Restrictions against the urbanisation of Black women are introduced. The official government reasons for this are to decrease prostitution and illegal brewing in urban areas.
Walter Sisulu later becomes secretary of the "Orlando Brotherly Society", a Xhosa organisation, which prompts an interest in tribal history and encourages economic independence from Whites.
T.D. Mweli Skota, the African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general and journalist, attends the Pan African Congress meeting. He urges the convocation to coordinate opposition to General Barry Hertzog’s efforts to influence the British African policy.
January, T.D. Mweli Skota, secretary-general of the ANC, presents his report where he described 1929 as the worst year because “All Provincial Congresses failed hopelessly not only by violating the Constitution, but also in disregarding the resolutions arrived at in the Convention.”
4 and 6 January, The second Non-European Conference takes place in Cape Town. Delegates debated among other issues the implications and ramifications of the tabled Riotous Assemblies Amendment Bill. To read extracts on the proceedings and resolutions click here.
30 April, At the ANC’s Annual Conference, Pixley ka Isaka Seme is elected president of the ANC by a vote of 39 to 14 and replaces J.T Gumede.  
The Transvaal African Congress (TAC) hosts anti-pass meetings in the Western Native Township.
19 May, White women over the age of 21 are given the right to vote. This increases the White share of the electorate from 90.7% to 95.5% and the weight of the Black vote is decreased from 3.1% to 1.4%.
21 May, The Riotous Assemblies (Amendment) Act No 19 is passed which authorises the Governor-General to prohibit the publication or other dissemination of any ‘documentary information calculated to engender feelings of hostility between the European inhabitants of the Union on the one hand and any other section of the inhabitants of the Union on the other hand’ (Dugard 1978: 177).
31 May, The ANC agrees to observe this day as a day of “humiliation, prayer and protest against the policy of domination and economic strangulation of the Bantu race and inaugurated by Europeans with the consummation of Union in 1910” (Walshe, 1970: 181).
June, Trade Unionist Clements Kadalie is banned from the Rand.
A Non-European Convention is held in Kimberley to protest against the pass laws and the Hertzog Bills. It is attended by more than 100 delegates representing the ANC, the African People’s Organisation (APO), the South African Indian Congress (SAIC), the Native Voters Association, the Bantu Union and religious and welfare societies from all over Southern Africa. Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman is elected as the chairperson.
27 June - 3 July, At the Conference of European and Bantu Christian Student Associations at Fort Hare, Dr. Alfred Bitini (A.B.) Xuma says in a speech to that he hopes that a possibility exists for inter-racial cooperation. Charlotte Maxeke also gives a speech entitled “Social Conditions Among Bantu Women and Girls”
July, Moses Mphahlele, the Transvaal African Congress (TAC) general secretary, advertises a dance in honour of The Mendi tragedy which featured The Dark Musician of Northern Transvaal and Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
September, General J.B.M Hertzog, at the Imperial Conference in London, asks for a South African voice in British Imperial policy in Africa.
November, There is a split in the ANC in the Cape and the Independent ANC (I-ANC) is formed, backed by the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA).
The CPSA holds a pass-burning demonstration in Johannesburg. However, this is not supported by the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) or the ANC.
30 November, An issue of the South African Worker carries an article by Moses Kotane in the form of a letter entitled “African Workers Criticise the Proposed Riotous Assemblies Act Amendment”
December, The inaugural conference of the I-ANC is held in Cape Town.
1931, Women are allowed to become affiliate members of the ANC. 
The ANC begins to experience problems with organising their structures.
T.D Mweli Skota publishes African Yearly Registered: An Illustrated National Biographical Dictionary (Who’s Who) of Black Folks in Africa.
The Bantu Press Ltd. is formed which publishes, amongst others, the Bantu World. This precipitates the closure of Abantu-Batho, (The People) a newspaper of the ANC.
The ANC sends a delegation to the Native Economic Commission (NEC).
The Parliament of the United Kingdom passes the Statute of Westminster which removes the last traces of Britain’s legal authority over its dominions, including South Africa. 
January, The Third Non-European Conference is held in Bloemfontein, where delegates vote to send a deputation to Europe. In addition, the conference condemned the Native Bills and the Coloured Persons’ Rights Bill. To read extracts of proceedings and resolutions click here.
27 June, The ANC publishes a statement in Umteteli wa Bantu calling for passive resistance against pass laws.   
July, Abantu-Batho (People) ceases publication as an ANC organ.
7 October, Desmond Mpilo Tutu, future Archbishop of Cape Town and Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Chairperson, is born in Klerksdorp, North West Province.
31 December, Dorothy Nomzansi Nyembe, future founder of the ANC Women’s League in Cato Manor, 1956 Treason Trialist and FEDSAW member, is born near Dundee in northern Natal.
1932
Pixley ka Isaka Seme outlines his reform scheme, desperately seeking to improve the financial matters of the congress. He revives the Upper House and puts it in complete control of the Congress’ monetary affairs.
The Supreme Court removes Pixley Seme's name from the Roll of attorneys.
Florence Mkhize, future member of the SACP, organiser in the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) and founder member of the UDF, is born in Natal.
Bram Fischer begins his studies at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.
March, Start of publication of Bantu World, a European-sponsored African newspaper.
The Native Service Contract Act is passed and increases penalties for law breakers and tightens restrictions on movement by African labourers outside the reserves.
25 April, Frene Noshir Ginwala, journalist, political activist and future Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa, is born.
May, Pixely ka Isaka Seme publishes a pamphlet entitled “The African National Congress – Is it Dead?” as a response to attacks on his leadership.
June, An attempt to apply curfew regulations to African women in the Transvaal sparks discussions of passive resistance against passes.
19 June, Sol Plaatje dies of pneumonia while on a trip to Johannesburg.
July, Professor D.D.T Jabavu publishes a pamphlet entitled “Native Disabilities in South Africa”
2 July, A Special Emergency Convention of the ANC is held in Kimberley after Pixley ka Isaka Seme is accused of ‘culpable intertia’. To read the report of the meeting click here.
November, A mass-based anti-protest meeting is held at the Cape Town City Hall by the ANC (WP) which is attended by approximately 1,755 people.
1933
Pixley ka Isaka Seme uses the votes of women to ensure his re-election as president of the ANC.
Albert Luthuli becomes President of the African Teachers' Association.
The National Council of African Women (NCAW) is established in Kimberley. It is an amalgamation of a number of small welfare groups, including the Bantu Women’s League (BWL). Charlotte Maxeke, who had headed the BWL, becomes the NCAW’s first president.
Dennis Goldberg, executive committee member of the Congress of Democrats and defendant in the Rivonia Trial, is born in Cape Town.
17 May, National elections take place in which the Hertzog/Smuts coalition wins. As a result a coalition government is formed with General J.B.M Hertzog as Prime Minister and General Jan Smuts as Deputy Prime Minister.
July, The fifth National European-Bantu Conference takes place. To read extracts of the proceedings and resolutions click here.
December, J.T Gumede chairs a conference in Durban aimed at re-unifying the various ICU splinter groups under the banner of a United ICU. Gumede is elected as president and Clements Kadalie as general secretary.
1934
The Status of the Union Act reaffirms the status of South Africa, initially put in place by the Statute of Westminster, as a 'sovereign independent state'.
The Slums Act is passed and “”¦was applied for demolition of various inner but dilapidated suburbs, notably on the Witwatersrand. (Parnell, 1998) The displaced African populations were largely rehoused in segregated mono-racial municipal housing estates on the urban periphery. The Slums Act was widely applied in the major metropolitan centre in order to impose racial segregation in a ‘non-racial’ manner.”  (Christopher, 1994: 36)
Bram Fischer returns to South African and begins his career as a member of the Johannesburg Bar.
26 May, Abdullah Mohamed Omar known as Dulla Omar, lawyer, politician member of the UDF and the first Minister of Justice after the fall of apartheid, is born in Observatory, Cape Town.
12 June, Mossa ‘Mosie’ Molla, political activist, Treason Trialist and ANC Chief Representative in India is born in Christiana, Transvaal.
8 October, Kader Asmal, future member of Parliament and Minister of Education in the new South Africa, is born in Stanger, Natal.
10 November, Pixley ka Isaka Seme publishes an article in Umteteli wa Bantu entitled “I Appeal to the African Nation”
28 November, Bertha Gxowa, one of the leaders of the 1956 Women’s Anti-Pass March, is born in Germiston.
5 December, The United Party is officially formed with General J.B.M Hertzog as leader and Prime Minister and General Jan Smuts as deputy leader.
1935
The Rural Dealers Licensing Ordinance of Natal is passed and refuses licenses to people whose properties have depreciated in value or whose licenses endangers the comfort and health of neighbours. 
The Transvaal Inter-Race Soccer Board is formed by Africans, Indians, and Coloureds. Subsequently, the Suzman Cup, the first official inter-racial tournament, is established.
Govan Mbeki joins the ANC.
Albert Luthuli is elected Chief by the people of Groutville Mission Reserve, and he subsequently leaves Adam's College.
Lionel E. Morrison, secretary of the Cape Town branch of the South African Coloured People’s Organisation (SACPO) and a Treason Trialist, is born.
27 April, Satyandranath (Mac) Maharaj, defendant in the mini-Rivonia Trial and member of the ANC’s executive committee in exile, is born in Newcastle, Natal.
May, The Joint Select Committee of Parliament table two measures: the Representation of Natives Bill and the Native Trust and the Land Bill.
Rev. Z. R. Mahabane’s national convention statement appears in the Bantu World
15-18 December, Five hundred delegates arrive for a convention of African organisations and register with the local committee at the office of Thomas. M. Mapikela, Chief Headman of all Bloemfontein locations. They meet at Community Hall, Bloemfontein. Under the chairmanship of Professor D.D.T Jabavu, delegates draft comprehensive resolutions on African grievances and resolve to constitute the All African Convention (AAC), an organised body that intends to promote African rights through boycotts. It is decided that the Convention should meet again in June, 1936.
1936
The government sets up a Commission of Inquiry into African education. The Commission points to problems with the system, but virtually nothing is done to improve the system.
Dr. Yusuf Dadoo returns to practice in South Africa after obtaining a medical degree in Edinburgh.
The AAC’s Executive Committee deputation led by Professor D. D. T Jabavu meets with Prime Minister J.B.M. Hertzog and other government officials in Cape Town to discuss acts tabled in Parliament in 1935. Prime Minister Hertzog refuses to allow postponement in the passing of some of the Bills and having some of the Act looked at again. The AAC deputation reaffirms its opposition to the Bills in the strongest possible manner; as it did in its meeting in December 1935.
Selby Msimang, Secretary General of the AAC expresses his view in a pamphlet entitled The Crisis. He argues that Parliament and White South Africans have disowned Africans of their belongings and flirted with their loyalty.
7 April, The Representation of Natives Bill is passed at the joint sitting of parliament. Eleven members of parliament, including J.H Hofmeyr, vote against the Bill with 169 in support. As part of the Act, African voters are removed from the common roll, while in the Cape qualified Africans are allowed to vote for three white ‘native representatives’. The Act also creates a Native Representative Council (NRC) with six White officials, four nominated and 12 elected Africans.
Professor D. D. T. Jabavu writes to Jan Hofmeyr thanking him for voting against the Bill.
May, The Native Trust and Land Act, No 18 becomes a law. This Act compliments the Representation of Natives Act of 1936 in that it allows for an extension of land that formed part of the reserves (as set out in the 1913 Land Act) from 7.3% to 13%. It also establishes the South African Native Trust, which became the Bantu Trust and then later the Development Trust. The Act forbade ‘Natives’ from owning and/or purchasing land outside the stipulated reserves.
26 September, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, lifetime opponent of apartheid and future President of the ANC Women’s League, is born in Bizana, Eastern Cape.
1937
Industrial Conciliation Act No 36 provides for the registration and regulation of trade unions and employers' organisations, the settlement of disputes between employers and employees, and the regulation of conditions of employment.
Black (Native) Laws Amendment Act No 46 prohibits acquisition of land in urban areas by Blacks from non-Blacks except with the Governor-General's consent (Horrell 1978: 3).  The Act also severely restricted the mobility of the Black population, and set a limit on "the size of the African urban population to the bare number needed for 'reasonable labour requirements' "(Simons & Simons 1969: 499).
Strict regulations are introduced regarding the urbanisation of women as part of influx control.
The twenty-fifth year of the ANC marks the beginning of a transitional period in African politics. The ANC begins slowly to revive while continuing to employ tactics of representation through resolutions, deputations and meetings.
Dr. A.B Xuma visits the United States of America where he marries Madie Hall, a social worker in Atlanta, Georgia.
An African Trade Union Co-ordinating Committee is formed with 12 unions. 

Selope Thema and Richard Baloyi, on behalf of the ANC, give evidence at the Enquiry Collection of Native Taxes.
1 February
Aliens Act No 1: Restricts and regulates the entry of certain aliens into the Union and regulated the right of any person to assume a surname.
22 February, JJ Pienaar and JH Grobler of the United Party introduce three Bills:
The Mixed Marriages Bill: This Bill aims to prohibit marriage between Asiatics, Europeans and Africans. It is not passed, but a Mixed Marriages Commission is later appointed.
The Provincial Legislative Powers Extension Bill: This Bill aims to refuse trading licenses to non-Europeans who employ White people.
The Transvaal Asiatic Land Bill: This Bill aims to deny right of owning property to any White woman married to a non-European.
18 September, Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, political activist and Minister of Communication, is born in Kroonstad, Orange Free State.
December, The ANC hosts its Jubilee Conference
13-15 December, The third AAC conference convenes in Bloemfontein with 130 delegates, representing 39 organisations. The delegates adopt a constitution calling for the affiliation of all African religious, educational, industrial, economic, political, commercial and social organisations within its ranks. A decision is also taken for the AAC to meet every three years. Dr. A. B. Xuma, Vice-President of the AAC, states that
“Anyone who will endeavour to wreck the principle of unity that gave birth to the All African Convention will be doing so for personal reasons and will be a traitor to Africa.” (Xuma in Tabata, 1974: 46)
Professor Z. K. Matthews favours the disenfranchising of all Africans in order to promote unity. Despite internal conflict, the AAC proclaims itself the voice of Africans. It devotes itself to act in unity in developing political and economic power.
1938
Albert Luthuli visits India as one of several delegates to the International Missionary Conference in Tambaram, Madras, India.
Representations made by the NRC result in African teachers in the Orange Free State having their unpaid allowances (which date back to 1932) restored.
15 November, Ronald (Ronnie) Kasrils, political activist, Minister of Intelligence and Member of Parliament in the new South Africa, is born in Yeoville, Johannesburg.
1939
Rev. James Calata tours the union in the hope that dormant ANC branches could be revived.
Govan Mbeki publishes Transkei in the Making a work of political analysis which is deeply critical of the system of local government in the Transkei.
Moses Kotane is elected Chairman of the Cape Town Central Branch of the ANC.
May, Moses Kotane is one of three delegates representing the Cape Western Province in a large deputation from the ANC and the Congress of Urban Advisory Boards which interviewed the Minister of Native Affairs around a large number of African grievances.
14 June, Assent is gained for the Aliens Registration Act No 26. This Act provides for the registration and control of aliens.
1 September, Germany invades Poland and the Second World War commences when Britain declares war on Germany on 3 September. The outbreak of war causes an internal split in the United Party as General J.B.M Hertzog wants to remain neutral. He eventually resigns as Prime Minister and rejoins the National Party (becomes the Reformed National Party) with D.F. Malan as his deputy.
4 September, General J.C. Smuts becomes Prime Minister of South Africa for the second time.
5 September, Parliament narrowly approves Prime Minister General Jan Smuts’ motion that South Africa should enter the Second World War on the side of Britain and the Allies.
6 September, The Union of South Africa declares war on Germany.
October, In an attempt to get the support of Africans for the South African war effort, the Union Government tones down its segregationist rhetoric and decides not to proceed with anti-Indian legislation during the Second World War. Following an informal understanding between H.G. Lawrence, the new Minister of the Interior, and Sir Benegal Rama Rau, the Indian Agent-General, the Union Government further indicates that an inquiry will be made to establish the extent of Indian penetration of de facto White areas, and that the cooperation of the Indian community was required to ensure that the status quo is maintained and that no new cases of penetration would take place.
16 October, Charlotte Maxeke dies in Johannesburg at the age of 65.

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Last updated : 12-Dec-2013

This article was produced for South African History Online on 02-Aug-2011