At the beginning of October 1936 the all African Convention held its conference of the Transvaal section, and once again as in the July and December conferences the fatal weakness of the convention was displayed: it has no programme. The leader “blow off steam” as Professor Jabavu cheerfully puts it, once again; the African people are once again urged to "unite." But when it is asked: "to unite in order to do what? ‘there is no answer forthcoming.
Our delegate, Comrade C. B. I. Dladla pointed out to the Conference that the attempt on the part of the Cape native voters to keep their names on the common role by appealing to the imperialist courts was doomed to inevitable failure; to advocate a struggle by "peaceful" and "constitutional" methods was to take a path that could only lead to ultimate disillusion and despair on the part of the African masses. He urged a boycott of the Representation Council, and in its place a genuine and serious representation of Africans through delegates elected on the basis of popular mass voting.
If Africans once cherished the hope that the day would come when the Cape Native Franchise would be extended to all Africans in the Union, that hope is now dead. Far from increasing the influence of the African vote in the Union parliament; that vote has been cut down, hedged around, rendered worthless. The door has been slammed in the face of African aspirations to ultimate political equality with Europeans in the Union, slammed and bolted and barred.
In the face of this fact, the political task of the all African Convention becomes imperative: it must set up a separate independent Parliament, a council of delegates elected on the basis of universal adult suffrage. A campaign must be inaugurated to bring to the consciousness of the masses of voteless, rightless Africans the necessity for a constituent Assembly to express their needs, their national unity, and their revolt against their present slave status.
A manifesto must be issued, a new Voters' Roll compiled containing the names of all applicants who possess the necessary qualifications to vote, the same qualifications that Europeans must possess to have their names entered on the present Voters' Roll of the Union Parliament. On the basis of the new voters' Roll, parties can be invited to nominate their candidates for electoral districts, polling booths can be set up, and an election carried out, if possible on the same day as the General Elections for the Union Parliament in 1937.
The Union Parliament is a mock parliament, since it represents only a small fraction of the population of this country. A rightless majority is being taxed and legislated for by the representatives of a minority. It is the task of the African people to transform this mockery into a real Parliament by the creation of a body of their fellow citizens properly elected by ballot and given mandates to speak on behalf of the masses of the people.
These were the ideas, this was the plan of action set forth by comrade Dladla in his speech to the conference, and he urged the delegates present to give definite instructions to its Executive Committee to make a start with a political campaign to compile the Voters' Roll.
But the "leaders" were panic-stricken at the idea that leadership implied more than merely collecting fees and passing pious resolutions. They flinched at the suggestion that they would be required to leave the safe paths of court action, to stop "blowing off steam" and to utilise that steam in the locomotive of a practical, positive programme that would draw the masses our of apathy, despair and slavery into the path of militant struggle for their rights.
The Stalinists (so-called "Communists") rushed to the aid of the "leaders," and ridiculed this programme, the first serious call to the Convention to take action, as the "Mock Parliament." They defended the "leaders" against the criticism that had been justly levelled against them of failing to produce any programme whatsoever and so leading the Convention to inevitable collapse. Thanks to this timely aid from the co-called "Communists" the leading group was able to shelve Comrade Dladla's resolution. Now it can settle down once more to its quiet slumbers and its pleasant dreams of defeating Imperialism in the Law Court of Imperialism.
But the most militant section of delegates, deeply impressed with the proposal of commencing the struggle for equal rights for all races by a campaign for representation, deeply disappointed by the failure of the Convention to point a path, have formed a National Committee to go in more detail into the proposal. In the formation of this Left Wing we see new hopes for the All African Convention, new hopes for the exploited and oppressed African masses.