(Extracts from an exclusive article published in Ebony. Reproduced with permission.)
...The solution to the South African problem will call for radical reforms, some of them of a really revolutionary nature. The basic reform will be in the form of the government. At present, there is a government by whites only. This should be replaced by a government which is truly a government of all the people, for the people, and by the people. This can only be so in a state where all adults - regardless of race, colour or belief - are voters. Nothing but such a democratic form of government, based on the parliamentary system, will satisfy.
There is much inequality at the present moment. The whites being a quarter of the population, possess 87 per cent of the country`s land in freehold. On the other hand, Africans, who form three quarters of the population, were allocated by legislation only 13 per cent of the land - some of it poor land. Of this land, 99 per cent is trust land (government land), only about I per cent or less is held by Africans in freehold. In trust land, Africans are Virtually state tenants. This is the land that the government of South Africa speaks of as the "homeland for Africans", and we are supposed to be satisfied with these so-called "homelands" forever. It is in these areas where we are promised a sham self-government which does not link us in any way with Parliament, but leaves us directly under the government to follow an unwanted course - apartheid.
All Union legislation on land, in so far as non-whites are concerned, has been in the direction of depriving them of democratic land rights, depriving them of some of the land they hold, or drastically reducing it. This is the effect of the Group Areas Act and the Native Resettlement Act, only to mention a few of the recent land acts designed for this purpose.
Government policy and practice deprive Africans of land rights completely in urban areas. They live in townships as tenants in municipal houses. A few are allowed to build their own houses on rented municipal land for a period of only 30 years, subject to good behaviour. Africans are regarded as mere sojourners in urban areas.
A good number of Africans, nearly as many as those in reserves, are labour tenants on white farms, where generally they are allotted a small garden plot and a right to graze a few head of cattle.
The law provides that the labour tenant gives service to the master for nine months with no wages, this being in lieu of the plot of land, and limited grazing rights. Most farmers on their own pay these workers between 1 and 2 a month. It is not legally obligatory for farmers to pay cash wages. In times of pressure of work, as in reaping time, the farmer generally calls upon the whole family to work for no pay.
The vast majority of Africans are poor. Seventy per cent of them, according to statistics, live below the bread line...
To meet this man-made inequality will demand what will appear to whites in South Africa to be revolutionary changes. Some form of a system such as is found in Great Britain and Sweden might meet the case. The land will be re-distributed and allocated to those who have to live and make their living on the land. Land will be held in freehold by individual farmers and peasants. This will not preclude some land being held by the state for renting to individuals, and for state experimental farms.
There will be no indiscriminate purchase of land from individual to individual without the sanction of the government. This will largely be done to stop speculation on land, which is the basic heritage of the people.
The present so-called African reserves, which are very much depressed areas, mainly as a result of the policies of past governments, will need special attention as all other special depressed areas. In those reserves, not only is the land eroded through overcrowding, and so unproductive, but the people themselves have
become much depressed and poor. The burden of the government would be to rehabilitate both the land and the people...
Commerce, Industry and Mines
People not engaged in farming will be encouraged to carry on private enterprises, commerce and industry. These enterprises will be under government control as now, and probably stricter. Supertax on all high incomes will be levied on a higher percentage than now to meet the needs of uplifting the oppressed of former days.
It is inevitable that nationalization and control - even on a larger scale than now - would be carried out by the government of the day after freedom, if justice is to be done to all, and the state enabled to carry out effectively its uplift work. Already in South Africa there are state-controlled undertakings such as the post office and allied services; telephones; telegrams, radio, the railways and transport generally.
There are presently other undertakings that might be described as joint state and private endeavours. Examples of these are the reserve bank, electricity supply commission, iron and steel production, oil, and organizations such as the industrial corporation, the council for scientific and industrial research.
State control will be extended to cover the nationalization of some sectors of what at present is private enterprise. It will embrace specifically monopoly industries, the mines and banks, but excluding such institutions as building societies.
I would not like to close all private enterprise, just as I attack monopoly industries, and not all industries...
In the context of South Africa, these would be radical reforms and will require to be explained and the electorate given time to think on them and give its endorsement or otherwise. The aim will be to build this welfare state in a spirit of cooperation. The human rights as declared by the United Nations will be entrenched in the state constitution.
Trade Union Rights
The bulk of the people will naturally be workers in state-owned undertakings and in private enterprise. They will enjoy unqualified trade union rights with a charter for workers laying down minimum wages and conditions of service.
Needless to say, in this non-racial state, there will be no discrimination on grounds of colour or race. Merit will be the qualifying factor. Obviously, such legislation as job reservation (in which non-whites are discriminated against and denied the right to be in more lucrative forms of occupation), and all discriminatory laws, will fall by the wayside.
Justice demands that at the beginning, until parity is reached, greater assistance will have to be given to non-whites if they are to qualify for higher occupations. This must be done without unduly reducing standards...
Workers shall have the right to strike, for even if strikes might be costly and wasteful, it gives the individual a greater security if he knows he has the right, and it makes him feel a partner in the undertaking.
Generally, there will be planned social and economic development to increase employment and raise standards of living all round. This is the best guarantee against fears and prejudices arising from a sense of economic insecurity.
Measures like influx control will go. This is a part of the pass system in South Africa, which is used to regulate labour into any industrial area in so far as Africans are concerned. No African may go to work or remain in any urban or industrial area without the permission of both the state and municipal officers concerned under this law. Freedom of movement within and without the country for legitimate reasons will not be interfered with as at present. Immigration will not be limited to whites from outside the country as is the case now.
Greater latitude will be allowed to immigrants - both black and white - from other parts of Africa.
Non-racial democratic government
In the context of our South African situation, only a Republican form of government will meet the broad needs of the majority. I would like to see it as part of a larger unit, the commonwealth of Nations, a child of the British colonial empire. This will not preclude the Union from forming other alliances or unities in Africa or outside. It is reasonable to expect that there will be regional groupings formed in Africa, and maybe in some period, these would form a Federation of African States.
Franchise rights will be extended to all adults. All citizens will be known as "South Africans", and in that broad context will be "Africans". To me, the expression, "Africa for Africans" is valid in a nonracial democracy, only if it covers all, regardless of colour or race, who qualify as citizens of some country in Africa.
The government, mainly through education - directly and indirectly - will discourage the attitude of thinking and acting in racial categories, as racialism, and all forms of discrimination shall be outlawed. The question of reserving rights for minorities in a nonracial democracy should not arise. It will be sufficient if human rights for all are entrenched in the constitution.
The main thing is that the government and the people should be democratic to the core. It is relatively unimportant who is in the government. I am not opposed to the present government because it is white. I am only opposed to it because it is undemocratic and repressive. I do not cherish such expressions as "the all-black government", "the African majority". I like to speak about "a democratic majority", which should be a non-racial majority, and so could be multi-racial or not.
My idea is a non-racial government consisting of the best men - merit rather than colour counting. The political parties in the country should also reflect the multi-racial nature of the country. Parties, basically, should arise from a community of interests, rather than from a similarity of colour. If the electorate puts on a one-colour government that should be accidental, and not purposeful. Appeals to racialism at elections will be an offence in law.
In the development that has taken place in countries that have become free, such as India, Nigeria and others, the people have put into the government their tried man of stature, and there has been no question of lowering standards of government, and so the question of "swamping" the whites in South Africa does not arise. It is merely a bogey, or an excuse by certain whites to perpetuate their domination over us.
An elector does not have to know the intricacies of a modern state. All he is called upon to do is to judge broadly the best man for the needs of the state at a particular period.
The position in South Africa is such that a white hobo in the street and an 18-year-old youth is equated politically - if not in all respects - as being above a non-white educated person. What a ridiculous disparity.
I stress that the question of "colour" and "swamping" will not be relevant in the South Africa I think of - a South Africa that is a nonracial democracy. No doubt, initially, as a result of the unfortunate historical developments which stressed divisions into colour and with the state having previously legislated racially, people have become colour conscious. This might not be wiped off in one day. People should not be blamed in the beginning for thinking in racial categories, but this will be discouraged by law and by a process of re-education in all spheres and avenues of life. State policies and practices should not take account of those who persist to think and act on the basis of racialism.
I stress, all discriminatory laws will be removed from the statute book and civil liberties extended to all without qualification. As stated earlier, fundamental human rights will be guaranteed by the constitution. Individual freedom will be fully respected, and will be basic.
Within the orbit of my state, the individual will remain cardinal, for "the state exists for the individual", and not "the individual for the state". I realize that a state such as I visualize - a democratic social welfare state - cannot be born in one day. But it will be the paramount task of the government to bring it about and advance it without crippling industry, commerce, farming and education.
In any nation and community in modern times, housing has become an important concern of the state. Speculation and exploitation on housing as well as on land will not be tolerated. Individuals will be assisted and encouraged by loans to have their own houses on their freehold sites or on rented municipal sites. Municipal housing schemes with liberal aid from the central government will be encouraged for those who do not wish to establish their own houses. Rents will definitely be strictly controlled. The practice of individuals building houses to rent out will be frowned upon. Renting will be gradually eliminated and, in the interim, strictly controlled.
Education for the needs of the people and the state has ever been the concern of man in whatever state of development he might be. Even the primitive man had an education which fitted him for the society of his day. In a state, all people should have the same education according to their talent. This should be more so in modern states, when requirements of life are complex, and the struggle for living very intense. Education provides a common language, creates common attitudes and norms for citizens. It is an important unifying factor in building national consciousness and pride - a healthy community spirit.
An education not meeting these demands of society is not worth the name. It is clear that in the South Africa I visualize - a non-racial democratic South Africa - there can be no question of a different system of education for the different racial groups in the country. It would only be in the lower classes - say up to fourth year of school - and never beyond the eighth year of school, where mother tongue instruction will predominate. From the sixth year of school, instruction should begin to be in both, in the vernacular and English, assuming it has been agreed that English is the lingua franca of the country.
The position of non-whites in education under Nationalist rule is tragic. It is based on differentiation of colour and race. Non-white education - especially Bantu education - has become poor in content and finance. This monstrosity of Bantu education and Indian education will have to go. In fact, the aim of Bantu education as stated by Dr(Prime Minister Hendrik) Verwoerd, is to give the African "an education to fit him for his station in life". This means an inferior education for the African, for apartheid assigns him an inferior status in the country. The lowering of standards in Bantu education will be seen in the fact that it is the aim of the government that instruction in African schools should be in the vernacular at least up to matriculation.
Education will be free and compulsory for all to the primary stage at first, and later up to matriculation. Substantial aid will be given to universities with a generous system for bursaries and loans to students. No child of ability would be denied higher education because of lack of finance on his part. In technical and trade schools education will be free. These will he state schools. At the discretion of the government, trade and technical schools, subject to government control and supervision, may be established as private schools. State schools of higher education will be established to supplement independent schools...
Only multi-racial schools of all stages will be entertained. What differentiation there might be, would be in lower classes where mother tongue instruction would predominate up to the fourth year, but certainly not beyond the sixth year. Multi-racial schools will be demanded by the need to develop common patriotism and national solidarity. Religious schools, which must be on a multi-racial pattern, will not be disallowed, but on the secular academic plane must follow the state syllabi and be subject to government inspection.
A word more about Bantu education to show up its evil intent. According to the Nationalist party government, Bantu education is a direct burden on the African community, and thus, the poorest section of the South African community. State aid to Bantu education is pegged indefinitely to 6.5 million per year, Africans being expected, by direct and indirect taxation and by other means of raising money, to meet the heavier burden of their education. This is the most crippling way of financing education, a fast expanding service, more so with the African community who are not only the poorest section, but are overwhelmingly illiterate. Of those who enter school, hardly three per cent remain beyond the eighth year of school. This is so for black children, when for white children education is free up to the age of about 16.
The difficulty of financing Bantu education may be seen in a dilemma which African parents were forced to face some two or three years ago. Previous to the Nationalist government taking full control of African education, African children enjoyed a school feeding scheme in common with children of other races, although the scheme in African schools received a lower subsidization. When African education came under Nationalist government control, attempts were made to abolish the school feeding scheme in African schools. African parents then found themselves, at the suggestion of the government, faced with the choice of either continuing with school feeding, which was pitifully small in any case, or having more schools.
The government suggested that the money for school feeding should help in building more schools. The choice was between hungry stomachs and more schools. The parents overwhelmingly
decided on children going hungry, but getting some education. What a cruel choice! They reckoned it more important that a child should have something in the head rather than in its stomach. This ended school feeding in Bantu schools, but white children still enjoy a liberal feeding scheme...
The tragic position is that Africans suffer more carrying the burden of an education they do not want. They groan under the heavy burden of financing it. When the history of my people comes to be written, surely this will be recorded as one of the most memorable examples of self-sacrifice for self-help. Consider: A white child fed for 6d. per day. An African child previously fed for 3d. a day and now nothing. What a cruel disparity!
Work for peace and friendship in the world
The world is now a neighbourhood, although, unfortunately, people are not sufficiently neighbourly. We suffer at the present time from an over stress of nationalism. Each such ultra-nationalist group seeks domination over others. I would like to see a South Africa that takes a serious interest in establishing peace and friendship in the world and not merely paying lip service to these important needs of man.
My South Africa will encourage the harnessing of science and technology to every day uses of man, rather than for his destruction. It will seek to play a prominent part in bringing about the banning of nuclear warfare and in working for some degree of disarmament. The present is a most unsafe world for small nations such as South Africa. But the combined influence of all small nations can make the big nations see the futility of spending their money on armaments. Nations that engage in the armaments race should be boycotted - if at all possible. The world must not just be made safe for democracy; it must be made safe for human beings. The human being at present lives in constant terror. He is virtually being raised for cannon fodder.
To encourage a healthy relationship between nations and people, I would like to see a South Africa that develops itself to the highest level and shares for the benefit of mankind as a whole apart from its neighbours in Africa and in the world any special knowledge and skills it acquires. I would vigorously guard against bringing about an isolated and selfish South Africa, for this would result in a dwarfed South Africa. To secure efficient and wider cooperation, I would encourage regional groupings in Africa. This might bring about a United States of Africa.
In the world scene, my South Africa will support the United Nations and its agencies fully, and will encourage foreign investment, subject to her own interests of course. World investors will be told where they stand, so that they can invest freely, with the full knowledge of the limits set for private enterprise and the relevant methods of control.