Statement of dissolution of the South African Coloured People’s Congress, by Barney Desai and Cardiff Marney, London, March 1966 (abridged)

For 13 proud years of its existence on the South African political scene the Coloured People's Congress has struggled with uncompromising militancy and grim determination against white supremacy. Our Congress was estab­lished to develop the political consciousness of the 1.7 million people of so-called mixed race, to combat racialism amongst them and to link their struggle with the general movement for democracy of the oppressed as a whole. It has always been our belief that the destiny of the coloured Africans is indissolubly bound up with the oppressed black Africans and that there should finally be a unified organisation, cutting across race lines, represent­ing all the enslaved masses of our country. . . .

It has previously been widely held that sectional organisations represent­ing exclusive group interests of the different "races" were the best vehicles to weld all the oppressed masses into the national liberatory fold. Historical differences and administrative convenience or difficulties were the reasons advanced by those who wished to develop the race organisations as units of the broader movement. Joint struggles against white tyranny and imperialist exploitation, it was contended, would bring about unity at the lowest level and in turn generate moves towards a unified mass organisation. This was the aim of the Congress Alliance, which was a confederation of racial organisations: the African National Congress (a mass organisation of black Africans); the South African Indian Congress (the movement of Africans of Indian descent); the South African Coloured People's Congress (for coloured Africans); the Congress of Democrats (representing the white Africans) and the non-racial South African Congress of Trade Unions.

Noteworthy as this experiment was, it failed. It multiplied racialism and entrenched it in the sectional organisations. It led to a monumental betrayal of the best interests of the enslaved masses. Our Congress now feel duty bound to reveal to the people that when, in 1962, the CPC proposed to the African National Congress (as the major mass organisation in the Alliance) that it should open its doors for all the oppressed groups and that in return the Coloured People's Congress would dissolve, the proposal was flatly rejected and the ANC leadership unashamedly announced that it could no longer meet with the other Congresses for joint consultation as was the practice in the past.

Since that time ANC leadership have used the fiction of a Congress Alliance as a matter of political expediency. Nonetheless, the CPC has over the past three years patiently reasoned with the ANC leadership, pointing out that their sectional stand presented a grave danger to the best interests of our struggle and helped to strengthen racialism. . . . Not only have we been rebuffed in our efforts but we have had to witness the external leadership of the ANC conduct a campaign of slander and disruption against the CPC leadership.

In a recent statement the ANC leadership made the remarkable assertion that they alone as black Africans, can take decisions on behalf of the African people. This is nothing less than inverted Verwoerdian reasoning. As if the Khoi-Khoi (Hottentots) and the Batwa ("Bushmen") tribes as the forebears of the Cape Coloured people were not Africans who were virtually extermi­nated in the first battles against the European invaders of South Africa 300 years ago. ...

Months of careful and considered deliberations together with the accumulated experience of our past associations have convinced the Coloured People's Congress that a decisive break must be made with the past. We will nevertheless warmly cherish our comradeship with the rank and file of the African National Congress who, we are sure, will discover and deal with the treachery of their leadership who are now champions of multi-racialism and reformism. This is the time for boldness and foresight. Convinced that our actions represent a watershed in South African politics and that they must have the greatest influence on the future development of our common struggle, we therefore solemnly:

(1) Declare that the South African Coloured People's Congress is dis­solved;

(2) Recognise the revolutionary character of the Pan Africanist Congress, and announce our acceptance of their comradely invitation to join the PAC as Africans and equals, dedicating ourselves to building up one nation and wage a single struggle against the common enemy of white supremacy and its foreign backers who have made our country their looting ground.

(3) Call on South African Coloureds and Indians numbering two and a half million enslaved people to follow our example by becoming members of the dynamic Pan Africanist Congress, and for all time bury their racial tags.

(4) Brand those who would continue sectional and racialist activity as enemies and traitors to the cause of our liberation; and

(5) Affirm our determination to uphold the noble ideal of a non-racial socialist democracy in our beloved country.

Issued on behalf of the South African Coloured People's Congress by:

Barney Desai, President, S. A. Coloured Peoples Congress; Former Chairman, Transvaal Indian Youth Congress; Former Executive Member, Transvaal Indian Congress; Former Councillor of the City of Cape Town. Cardiff Marney, Chairman, S. A. Coloured People's Congress; Former Secretary, Cape Town Municipal Workers' Union.

Support South African History Online

Donate and Make African History Matter

South African History Online is a non profit organisation. We depend on public support to build our website into the most comprehensive educational resource and encyclopaedia on African history.

Your support will help us to build and maintain partnerships with educational institutions in order to strengthen teaching, research and free access to our content.