Document 29 - Kenneth Hendrickse, "The Opposition in Congress", The Citizen 3, 3, 4 March 1958
WHAT EVERY INTELLIGENT DEMOCRAT HAS BEEN EXPECTING HAS HAPPENED. AN OPPOSITION GROUPING HAS PRECIPITATED OUT IN THE “MULTI RACIAL" CONGRESS MOVEMENT. THEIR BULLETIN "ANALYSIS" IS SHARPLY CRITICAL OP THE CONGRESS PATRONS WHO DOMINATE THE CONGRESS MOVEMENT.
Here, however, I wish less to add my voice to their criticisms than to deal with some of the oppositionists themselves.
BLIND TO CONGRESS RACIALISM
On the question of the elections their attitude is largely correct: they reject both separate representation and the "minority" parliament. While their support of the demand for a boycott of all the elections to the bogus parliament is implicit, they do not, however, come out forthrightly in support of it.
Their demand that the whole people be organised “across the length and breadth of South Africa” is also an obviously correct demand. But they imagine, however, that it is into the Congress movement that the whole people can be organised and united. Leaving aside now the implicit sectarianism of this approach their major fault is that they are completely blind to the Congress movement's racialism.
The Congress "alliance" is made up of various "racial" organisations in which people are divided according to the way they have been "racially" classified by the oppressive South African ruling class, that is, as so-called "Africans", "Coloureds", "Indians" and “Whites”. And unless this matter is dealt with first the oppositionists' attack on the Congress regime will remain superficial and therefore meaningless. It is multi-racialism - a gratuitous concession apartheid - which is at the root of all other evils in Congress.
PARTRONS DOMINATE "ALLIANCE"
Multi-racialism like Non-Europeanism serves only one purpose: to conserve and entrench the apartheid consciousness of the people with its concommitant feelings of “racial” inferiority and superiority corresponding to the position accorded them on the scale of “racial status”. And it is precisely the multi-racialism of Congress which enables the “Whites only” Congress of Democrats to dominate the Congress “racial” alliance and to subordinate its struggle against oppression to the interests of "sympathetic”, “White” patronage. For as long as the people are organised according to their acceptance of an inferior "racial" or more correctly aparte socio-political status they will tend to look for leadership not to those who have the right ideas and the courage of their convictions but to the "sympathetic" patrons who enjoy a superior aparte status.
The people in South Africa will be united in non-racial, democratic, anti-apartheid political, labour, district and cultural organisations according to their level of political consciousness and understanding, not in racial organisations according to their "race" classification. Where there is any acceptance, whatsoever, of apartheid, colour bar or segregation whether voluntary or enforced there can only be division and paralysing weakness. The people cannot be united in the multi-racial Congress "alliance".
THE "CLASS APPROACH"
The oppositionists in Congress suffer from another serious blind spot. Because they feel themselves socialists whose "only goal" is the "break down of exploitation" the Colour Bar in their eyes tends to become just one of those irritating tertiary phenomena which the South African proletariat will simply brush away in their march towards a new and glorious Socialist South Africa. But the reality of the situation is that the South African worker is not even in a position to accomplish the comparatively simple and immediate task: the shaking off of the Colour Bar yoke from his shoulders!
Our oppositionists friends in Congress pride themselves on their "class approach". But a class approach is a scientific method of analysing social problems and phenomÂena: an interpretive instrument and guide to action not a magic wand which enables one to escape the obligations of immediate historic tasks.
Everything else in South Africa, today, must be subordinated to the task of transÂforming the consciousness of the whole nation from a racialist acceptance of apartheid consciousness to a democratic non-racial South African national consciousness. For the task before the people is the total abolition of the Colour Bar. It is South Africa's burning need. She requires it for her further economic, social, political and cultural development.
Those who belittle the struggle of the Colour Bar or give it a position of secondary historical importance because they are "socialists" are making a very serious mistake. This attitude inevitably aids the reaction.
As to ANALYSIS’s attitude to the Liberals, the Multi-racial Conference and the Congress "United Fronts", its wrong approach to these questions is at root the opposiÂtionists' failure to grasp the idea that I have put forward in this article: Namely, that the total elimination of the Colour Bar is an inescapable historic task if we are to create the conditions for a modem social struggle in modem South Africa.