Both the HoR and HoD were characterised by impotence and incompetence. Examples include one NPP MP voting to support military conscription for Indian youth because he could not read Afrikaans, the language in which the bill was presented; in another instance an NPP minister signed a bill favouring the Group Areas Act because he wanted to leave the chamber, which remained locked until the bill was signed (Desai, 1996).

Rajbansi proved to be a corrupt politician: although long accused of maladministration, accepting bribes and other misdemeanours, he was protected by PW Botha. When the NPP lost its majority in the HoD, a select committee instituted a probe, and Botha was forced to appoint a commission of inquiry into Rajbansi’s affairs. The report described him as ‘a mean-minded bully who uses ruthless tactics to deal with anyone who dared to stand up to him’, and found: that he had defeated the ends of justice when he suppressed information damaging to him; that he had fraudulently acquired a butchery at a state-subsidised rental; that he had misused his office to improperly grant the rights to service stations to his friends; among others. Rajbansi was fired from the Cabinet, the Ministers’ Council and removed as leader of the HoD in December 1988.

While both the HoR and HoD opposed (and on one occasion staged a walkout to demonstrate their rejection) of the Group Areas Act, the Labour Party opposed the application by an Indian person to be reclassified as ‘Coloured’.

When Hendrickse led a group of Coloured representative to the Whites-only beach, he incurred the wrath of the President, PW Botha, and was made to apologise for his bravado.

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