P. S. Aiyar, Leo R. Gopaul and 45 other Indians in Durban sent a 'manifesto' to the Prime Minister in March 1927. The document argued that the settlement reached at Cape Town had not 'touched the root cause of the virus of anti-Asiaticism' in the country nor had it affected the 'burdensome and oppressive legislation' that pound down its victims. Source: Natal Mercury, 24 March 1927.
We, the undersigned representative Indians, take this opportunity to state for public information that the general approval given to the Indian settlement by a small group of men who style themselves the South African Indian Congress, which held their meeting on the 12th and 13th instant at Johannesburg, should not be considered a true reflection of the Indian public feeling for reasons stated below:
- The alleged South African Indian Congress is not a representative institution of the varying interests, and since representation on the central body is confined only to members of the Natal Indian Congress, British Indian Association and Cape British Indian Council, the total membership of these constituent bodies put together [does not exceed] a handful of Indians compared with the population. Indeed, it would be injurious to public interests to accept the opinion of a body, composed as it is of such a microscopic number practical purposes in life, as the true voice of the Indian community in South Africa. As the acting president, Mr. Godfrey, confessed in his presidential speech, that this Congress represents only certain trade interests, the mere fact of these trade interests in their avidity for self-preservation having approved of a settlement on the basic principle of repatriation of the bulk of the toiling masses, is a manifest proof that the alleged South African Indian Congress is obviously not a representative organ of the public opinion of the Indian community in general.
- The main reasons that prompt us to object to this settlement are that neither the Indian nor Union Governments ascertained the opinion of the Indian community in a manner that would have authenticity behind it, and so on principle the bulk of the educated and permanently settled Indian population object to a settlement imposed on them without their consent and knowledge.
- We hold that not only on principle, but also on account of the complexity of this problem, we object to this settlement which Dr. Malan declared is not binding on either parties, and place on record our keen resentment at the autocratic manner in which the fortunes of ours and our children are being disposed of by both the Indian and Union Governments.
- Respecting the affirmation by Rev. C. F. Andrews that there has been a change of heart on the part of the Union Government and European citizens, we repudiate the foundation for such a notion, in view of the fact that the settlement has not touched the root cause of the virus of anti-Asiaticism in this country and neither has it touched the burdensome and oppressive Legislation that grinds down its victims.
- It is a patent fact that the root causes are clashing of economic and racial interests and trade jealousy on the part of both. It is difficult to visualise how repatriation of the bulk of the toiling mass of Indians, who are not trade competitors, would facilitate the solution of this problem under the terms of settlement! But the mere fact of the so-called South African Indian Congress having acquiesced in the settlement, because the solution does not affect the immediate interests of its constituents, should not be construed as acquiesces therein by the Indian community in general, and should a plebiscite be taken, it would be rejected with indignation by the majority of Indians.
- We, therefore, on behalf of the enlightened Indian public, and on behalf of the permanently settled Indians in this country, disagree with the settlement, and declare that the alleged South African Indian Congress has no title or claim, to represent that the Indian community in general have accepted the settlement — a settlement which confers no benefit on them.
- In conclusion, we venture to submit our considered opinion that the Minister of the Interior should convene a convention of the various Indian interests in the country and endeavour to find a leading solution of the problem in a sincere and friendly spirit. By so doing he would find that the bulk of the enlightened settlers who have made this country their home would heartily co-operate in any endeavour that has for its object the advancement this country on right lines.
- But should the European public opinion and the Government, notwithstanding this protest, persist in their policy that affords no opportunity for out expansion and progress, then we are of the opinion that the bulk of the Indians would be forced to continue their agitation against the action of both Indian and Union Governments, whose confirmation of this admittedly one-sided and unjust settlement does not necessarily absolve them from their tremendous responsibility for the well-being and progressive development of the settled Indian population in South Africa.