From the book: Passive Resistance 1946 - A Selection of Documents compiled by E.S. Reddy & Fatima Meer


Albert Christopher promises return of Old Guard

"Despite what the young leaders may say, the old men Indian community who have borne the brunt of the resistance against anti-Asiatic measures will again take over the leadership of the struggle said Mr. A. Christopher when he spoke at the Maritzburg Indian Parliament last week.

"A similar call was made on Mr. Churchill, the late Mr. Roosevelt and Generalissimo Stalin. They were all comparatively young men who took over leadership in the time of their countries' need said.

Transvaal Wrangling

While the Indian Community is facing a crisis, the people in the Transvaal are still wrangling over internal issues.

A mass meeting has been arranged for this Sunday to discuss a vote of no confidence in the present Executive Committee of the Transvaal Indian Congress.

Commenting on this, Mr. A.B. Moosa, an ex-secretary of the Natal Indian Congress, said that it was a tragic spectacle that men of the calibre of Dr Dadoo should be wasting valuable time quarreling over domestic issues when the whole economic life of community was being threatened by the Asiatic Tenure Bill.

"Dr Dadoo" , Mr. Moosa said, "could do a great serviced to the people by turning his attention to the important and big issue, and can suspend internal hostilities which will, if the Bill becomes law, matter very little this way or that."

"Those Liberals" — Who and What are They?

"The group of liberal Indians who are supposed to oppose the struggle of the Natal Indian Congress against the Ghetto Act, and who were splashed in the daily press, most probably exist only in imagination of the daily press and that of Senator Clarkson, who is hard put to secure the collaboration of Indians on the Land Tenure

Mr. A.I. Meer, a Joint Secretary of the Natal Indian Congress, made this comment when he referred to a report in a Durban daily that there was a group of liberal Indians who were opposed to the struggle launched against the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian presentation Bill by the NIC.

Mr. Meer explained that far-fetched statements were being made in the daily press that responsible and influential Indians were prepared to served on the Land Tenure Board and co-operate in the Administration of the Act, because the Government had to create an atmosphere which it might be possible to secure the co-operation of a few opportune Indians who might find a salary of £1 500 tempting. All the reports referring to the possibility and willingness of some Indians losers on the Board contained no names.

"This is very queer," Mr. Meer said. "If people did exist, it" there is no earthly reason as to why they should cover their identity. This makes me believe rather that a very subtle campaign has bed launched by the Government, in collaboration with the pro-Government press, to prepare the ground so that the Government might be able to induce a few quislings to co-operate in the administration of the Act."

"The very vagueness of the reports and the absence of real body matter make one think that the Government is now trying, with the assistance of all organs available, to split the community. It seems rather interesting that the daily press has all of a sudden becomes so solicitous about the welfare of the Indian workers and the masse when, in the past, the same press ignored news about legitimate demands made by Indian workers. This is the first time that the Indian worker — or for that matter, any worker — has found a champion" the daily press of the province."

"There may be," Mr. Meer said, "a few Indians who might" attracted not only by the salary offered, but also by the value of the position — comparatively unique in the Indian community and definitely get the highest salaried Government position which a non-European can get in this country — but I doubt whether they will be foolish enough to offer their services in view of the temper of the Indian people and the fact that both India and the progressive people in English have promised all help to the Indian cause in South Africa.

"If these people are willing to serve, then they should come out into the open."

SAIC and PRC representatives in conflict at UNO

The South African Indians in New York, representatives of the South African Indian Congress and the Passive Resistance Council, are not a happy lot, though they are all living in the same hotel —

The Commandore. Vilification still proceeds and reports have reached The Leader that there is "no truck" between the two groups.

Mr. Sorabjee Rustomjee — it is stated — had spared no effort inputting him in a commanding position. Coming direct from jail and having been associated with the Passive Resistance struggle had got him the ear of the Indian Delegation.

Mr. A.I. Kajee, as one who has borne the brunt of the attack on the Union Indians since 1926, was made to appear as a person ever ready to compromise and therefore incompetent to speak on the issue.

The fight for recognition has been going on for some time but the position at the moment has now been equalised. Both parties have been consulted by the delegation from India; the SAIC representatives in fact, have been preparing several memoranda at the request of India. At first it was not an easy task for there was a lot of explaining to be done to counteract the effect of cables that were sent to Mr. Nehru.

"We bluntly asked Mrs. Pandit," according to a New York message from Mr. Pather, "as to what the Delegation's prejudice was against- us the SAIC delegates. She denied there was any. I told her that Nehru had received hundreds of cables from South Africa against us” .

"She denied this too. She was surprised that the stand of the car SAIC against the Tenure Act was uncompromising and that in regard to policy, there was no difference of opinion in South Africa and that recently, personalities had played a great part in Indian politics. I told her that for the last 25 years every speech, resolution and memorandum was either drafted by S.R. Naidoo, Christopher, Kajee or myself and too long have those who sent out cables to India, ridden backs."

"Mrs. Pandit was eventually taken up with our stand and asked for our fullest co-operation."

Mr. Pather's concluding comment is to deplore this "cat and dog fight more powerful could we have been had we not broken off he added.

NIC officials refuse to speak on PRC Platform

In Maritzburg, the Natal Indian Congress, which is the percent body of the Passive Resistance Council, fell out on the issue who should have convened the meeting on Monday evening to welcome the UN decision. Mr. S.B. Mungal said that the officials of the Maritzburg branch of the NIC had been invited to speak at the meeting but ha declined, contending that the NIC and not the PRC should have convened it. Despite pleas from Headquarters, the Branch Congress officials were adamant. Addressing a crowd of about 500 in the VDS Hall Monday evening, Mr. S.B. Mungal said that the officials of the Maritzburg Branch of the NIC were invited to speak at this meeting, but had declined the invitation, contending that they, and not Passive Resistance Council, should have convened the meeting.

Mr. Mungal then read a telegram from Headquarters of NIC which pleaded for co-operation.