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1 James Keir Hardie (1856-1915) was a Scottish miner who became a
trade unionist and journalist and, from 1892 to 1895 and 1900 to
1915, a Member of Parliament. From 1893 he was associated with the
Independent Labour Party in Britain, which opposed the British military
campaign against the Boers during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902.
This extract is taken from Hughes (n.d.: 131-2).
2 J. Connolly edited the National Union of Railway and Harbour Servants
newspaper and was Labour M.P. for Ladysmith in the Natal Parliament.
3 Archie Crawford (1883-1924) is described by the Simonses (1983:141)
as "labour's most notable maverick until Smuts had him deported
in 1914". Born in Scotland and a fitter by trade, Crawford came
to South
Africa as a soldier during the Anglo-Boer War, where he became a
trade union activist and a Labour councillor. He published the Voice
of Labour between 1908 and 1912. The 1914 general strike was catalysed
by the government's decision to retrench railway workers in the National
Union of Railway and Harbour Servants on Christmas Eve 1913. Martial
law was imposed from January to March 1914. Crawford was one of the
nine strike leaders abducted from jail by the government and deported
to Britain without trial on 30 January. In addition to Crawford,
the "deported nine" included: J. T. Bain. H. J. Poutsma,
R. B. Waterston, G. Mason. D. McKerrill, W. Livingstone, A. Watson
and W. H. Morgan. They were repatriated later that year. Crawford
subsequently built up the SAIF, which maintained a white labour policy,
and became Secretary of the SAIF in 1922. Hardie's reference to the "deported
nine" indicates that this account of his 1907 visit was written
well after that date.
4 The SALP was formed in 1910 out of a merger of several groups.
It combined an advocacy of white labour policies with a socialist
objective. Although modelled on the British Labour Party, trade unions
did not form an organic element within the SALP structure. Its electoral
popularity peaked in 1920 and thereafter declined. It formed the
Pact electoral alliance with the NP in 1924andfrom 1943 to 1958 formed
electoral pacts with the UP. In 1958 it lost all its Parliamentary
5 James Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937) was born in Scotland and became
a member of the British Independent Labour Party from 1894. He was
the first General Secretary of the Labour Representation Committee
(later the Labour Party). A prolific writer on socialist questions
and a critic of Britain's involvement in World War One, he was a
Labour M.P. from 1906 to 1918 and 1922 to 1931. He was Labour Prime
Minister from January to October 1924 and June 1929 to August 1931.
From August 1931 to 1935 he led a National Government opposed to
6 In 1906 Natal successfully suppressed what would be the last Zulu
military uprising, led by Chief Bambatha. The importation of indentured
Indian labour to work on Natal sugar plantations commenced in 1860
and ended in 1911, with the last contract worked out by 1916. Chinese
workers were imported on three-year contracts to perform unskilled
labour in South Africa's gold mines from 1904 to 1907. By 1910 the
last contract had expired and all workers repatriated. The Chinese
labour controversy was a major issue in British politics up to and
during the 1906 election. Opposition was both humanitarian and racist.
7 Frank A. W. Lucas, an advocate, sided with the SALP's anti-war
faction but did not join the ISL. He became Chair of the Wage Board
following the Pact Government's Wage Act of 1925.
8 Colonel Frederic H. P. Creswell was a staunch advocate of white
labour. He led the struggle against the importation of Chinese workers
and was arrested for his role in the 1914 strike. As leader of the
SALP, following his return from a campaign in South West Africa in
June 1915, he promoted the "See It "Through" policy,
calling for intensified backing for the war (see Bunting 1981:5-10).
At the SALP conference in August 1915. Creswell's pro-war resolution
carried, precipitating the formation of the ISL, first as a faction
of the SALP, and later as an independent body. Creswell later became
Minister of Labour in the Pact Government and promoted the "civilised
labour policies" which protected white labour.
9 William H. Andrews (1870-1950) emigrated to South Africa from England
in 1893 and organised for the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (later
Amalgamated Engineering Union). In 1902 he helped form the first
TLC. In 1909 he became the first Chair of the SALP and was elected
asM.P.inl912. During World War One he led the anti-war faction in
the SALP and chaired the ISL upon its secession from the SALP in
September 1915. With the formation of the CPSA, Andrews became its
Secretary and editor of The International and in November 1922 was
elected to the ECCI. He resigned as CPSA Secretary and became inactive
in Party affairs following its December 1924 resolution not to apply
for affiliation to the SALP.
He was Secretary of the SATUC and later the SATLC from 1925 to 1932.
He was formally expelled from the CPSA in September 1931 but reinstated
in 1938 and was Chairman of its Central Committee in the 1940s. For
his biography see Cope (1944) and Hirson (1993c) for a critical review.
10 For documents of the ISL sec Bunting (1981:11 -56).
11 In February 1920 black mineworkers struck against falling real
wages and the job colour bar. The all-white SAMWU called on its members
to scab and defend the colour bar. After the strike's defeat, the
state initiated a two-pronged strategy of control and reform. The
Native Areas Bill was enacted. The Joint Councils movement was aimed
at the black petite bourgeoisie. Mining companies began to discuss
plans for modifying the job colour bar for semi-skilled blacks as
a means to defuse the frustrations of this potential working-class
leadership stratum. In 1921 the Native Recruiting Corporation launched
Umteteli wa Buntu (Mouthpiece of the Bantu) with Chamber of Mines
backing. It opposed a colour bar in industry.
12 "Don't Scab" was reprinted in The International, 27
February 1920.
13 Manuel Lopes, co-founder of the Industrial Socialist League and
later Secretary of CPSA, was expelled from the Party for his opposition
to the Native Republic thesis. He later supported the SALP-NP Pact
electoral alliance and Joined the NP in July 1937.
14 Friedrich Ebert was a leading German Social Democratic. His prominence
symbolised the victory of cautious bureaucrats over the radical left
in the making of the Weimar Republic of 1919 to 1933. Kerensky headed
the Russian Government between the first and second revolutions in
1917. Labour politicians held office in Britain from May 1915 until
November 1918 as partners in the Coalition Government of Asquith
and Lloyd George. They had to deal with the challenge of radical
shop stewards organisations and endorsed Government responses which
could on occasions be repressive. George Barnes was General Secretary
of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers before World War One and
a Labour M.P. from 1906 to 1918. He served in the war-time coalition,
remained with Lloyd George after 1918 and broke with the Labour Party.
In contrast, Arthur Henderson, a trade unionist and originally a
Liberal, first became a Labour M.P. in 1903 and became Party General
Secretary in 1912. He was the senior Labour figure in the war-time
coalitions from May 1915 to August 1917. He quarrelled with Lloyd
George over the proposal for a peace conference in Stockholm, left
the Government and modernised the Labour Party organisation. He held
high office in the Labour Governments of 1924 and 1929 to 1931. The
left viewed him as a conservative bureaucrat; his supporters saw
him as the epitome of Labour's identity.
15 Sidney Percival Bunting (1873-1936) was born in England and came
to fight in the Anglo-Boer War Influenced by non-conformist ideas,
he joined the SALP in 1910 but withdrew in opposition to its pro-war
policy. He helped found the ISL and the CPSA and edited The International.
After his return from the
Comintern's Fourth Congress, he replaced Andrews as CPSA Secretary
and became Chair in 1924. He moved the Party away from its white
labour orientation towards the organisation of black workers. Initially
opposed to the Native Republic thesis, in 1928 he wrote Imperialism
and South Africa as a theoretical foundation for the thesis and organised
in Transkei under the slogan. He was expelled from the Party in 1931
along with Andrews and other leading activists. In 1933 he wrote
An African Prospect, and Appeal to Young Africa. East. West. Central
South. See Roux's biography (1993).
16 Between the Comintern's formation in 1919 and its Second Congress
in July 1920, international events provoked a reconsideration of
the policy on "the national and colonial question". As
socialist movements in advanced countries waned, the prospects of
an international working-class revolution looked increasingly remote.
Within the USSR, the national question had become more acute. The
Second Congress was attended by more representatives from colonial
regions than the year before. Thus at the Second Congress the main
questions concerned the evaluation of national liberation movements
as part of the world debate centred around Lenin and M. N. Roy from
India. Lenin argued that the Comintern should enter into temporary
alliances with bourgeois democratic movements in the colonies. Roy
emphasised the distinction between bourgeois democratic movements
and the mass actions of peasants and workers. A compromise position
was reached in which Lenin conceded that bourgeois democratic movements
could be either reformist or revolutionary and modified his earlier
idea of support for bourgeois democratic movements to support for
national revolutionary movements.
17 Tom Mann (1856-1941) was an English trade unionist, a member of
the Amalgamated Society of Engineers who was active in the mobilisations
of unskilled workers at the end of the 1880s. He was General Secretary
of the British ILP in the mid-1890s and spent several years working
in the socialist movement in Australia. He returned to Britain in
1910 as an advocate of syndicalism and was prominent in the pre-war
labour unrest. He subsequently joined the British Communist Party
and served increasingly as an elder statesman. He made three visits
to South Africa: in 1910, 1914 and 1922. The purpose of his last
trip was to help revive the labour movement after the crushing of
the Rand Revolt and to help campaign for the communication of sentences
imposed on its leaders.
18 The ICU was formed as a union of Cape Town dockworkers in 1919
under the leadership of Clements Kadalie. In the mid-1920s its focus
shifted from urban trade union protests to rural struggles against
proletarianisation. Tom Mann was invited to attend the ICU's 1923
conference; for his impressions see Mann (1923).
19 T. W. Thibedi, described by Roux (1993:116) as"... a genius
at getting people together, whether workers in a particular industry,
women, location residents, or whatever was needed at the moment",
was a veteran socialist from the days of the ISL and IWA, and had
worked closely with Bunting. He organised the CPSA night school in
the 1920s, the SAFNETU from 1929 to 1931 and the AMWU fifth annual
conference in January 1927, along with Gana Makabeni and E. J. Khaile.
Expelled from the CPSA in 1930, he formed the Communist League of
Africa in 1932 and produced one issue of Maraphanga.
Thibedi visited the Cornelia coal mines as an ICU shop steward and
published an article describing workers' conditions (see Documents
20 E. R. Roux (1903-66), a botanist by profession, was one of the
first South African-born white Communists. He helped establish the
YCL as a student and, with Willie Kalk, pushed it to recruit blacks.
He joined the CPSA in 1923 and was profoundly influenced by Bunting.
He was elected Vice-Chair in December
1924. Along with Bunting, he fought for greater interaction with
black workers. He attended the Sixth Comintern Congress in 1928 and
became a supporter of the Native Republic thesis despite initial
opposition. In the 1930s he became increasingly marginalised within
the Party and left in 1936. In 1944 he wrote a biography of Bunting,
and in 1948, Time Longer than Rope, the first major and still indispensable
study of the liberation struggle. He pioneered Easy English, a technique
for teaching English as a second language. From 1957 to 1963 he was
a member of the Liberal Party, and he was banned in 1964. For his
autobiography, see Roux (1972).
21 Clements Kadalie (c. 1896-1951) of Nyasaland founded the ICU in
Cape Town and was its national Secretary from 1921 to 1929, when
he resigned under criticism as it disintegrated. During the 1920s
he repeatedly tried to secure recognition for the ICU as a trade
union, and in 1927 attended an International Labour Office conference.
Despite his initial support of William Ballinger as an ICU advisor,
he soon broke from him. In March 1929 he formed the "Independent
ICU" but was unable to revive the ICU on a national scale. In
the 1930s he participated in political affairs as a member of the
ANC. He wrote his autobiography around 1946. A. W. G. Champion joined
the ICU in 1925 but was later suspended and in 1928 formed the ICU
vase Natal. Thomas Mbeki (c. 1900-'40s) was one of the first Africans
recruited to the YCL and became a leading organiser for the ICU in
the Transvaal. Following Kadalie's expulsions of Communists from
the ICU executive, Mbeki opted to stay with the ICU. Hirson (1993a:60)
notes that he may have been a police informer. Henry Daniel Tyamzashe
(b. 1880) became provincial secretary for the ICU in the Transvaal
and later worked with Kadalie in the Independent ICU.
22 In early 1927 Western mass intervention in China seemed a possibility.
See Deutscher (1959:316-38) for the positions of the Soviet and Chinese
Communists Parties.
23 H. Palliotte is no doubt Harry Pollitt, for many years General
Secretary of the British Communist Party. A boilermaker by trade,
Pollitt was widely admired outside the Party and seen as its authentic
working-class face. J. R. Campbell was a leading member of the British
Communist Party.
24 John Gomas (1901-79) joined the ANC. ISL and ICU in 1919. By 1923
he was a full-time ICU organiser, and in 1925 he joined the CPSA.
His political development shows several turning points. By the 1940s
he was alienated from the CPSA's orientation to white labour and
white parliamentary politics and was increasingly in agreement wit
Trotskyists, while attacking them for their practical inactivity.
In the late 1940s Gomas was removed from the CPSA hierarchy but despite
his declining role in the Party, he endorsed its electoral candidates
and remained a member until it disbanded in 1950. For his biography
see Musson 1989).
25 Cecil Frank Glass was a founding member of the CPSA who believed
in white labour's revolutionary potential. In February 1925 Glass
withdrew from the CPSA Central Executive and resigned from his position
as Party Treasurer as a result of its resolution in December 1924
not to apply for affiliation to the SALP. On 9 May 1925 he resigned
from the Party on the grounds that its policy had antagonised white
workers and led to the Party's isolation. Glass later contacted the
International Left Opposition. In 1930/31 he left South Africa and
became involved in Troskyist politics in China. In 1941 he left China
for the United States, where he joined the Socialist Workers' Party
and was a member of its National Committee from 1944 to 1963. See
Glass (1930) and Hirson (1988 and 1993c).
26 The CFLU was formed in 1913 to block encroachment by Transvaal-based
organisations. For a time, the CFLU was affiliated to the RILU. Its
constitution incorporated a commitment for equal treatment of workers
regardless of colour or race. In fact, the organisation was hostile
towards the ICU on the grounds that it was a political or racial
rather than trade union organisation. The SATUC was a product of
the attempt by the Pact Government, and particularly Creswell, to
enlist the unions' support. A conference held in Johannesburg in
March 1925 formed a federation initially called the South African
Association of Employees' Organisations. The agenda of the Right
was deflected by the fact that delegates chose W. H. Andrews as General
Secretary. The constitution of the new organisation admitted unions
with coloured and Indian members, and at the second conference in
April 1926, it was renamed the SATUC. It subsequently became the
27 This document was no doubt written while Roux was at the Sixth
Comintern Congress in Moscow (see Part Two). The last sentence was
added later.
28 Willie Kalk (1902-89), one of the first South African-born white
Communists, was a cabinet maker who joined the YCL and supported
the CPSA's turn to black labour in 1924. He maintained his Party
membership through the political convolutions of the 1930s, presenting
the "Party line" at Bunting's funeral. He served on the
national executive of the SATLC, represented the Leather Workers'
Union at the SATLC-convened United Front Conference in October 1936
and remained secretary of that union until 1953 when he was forced
to resign under the Suppression of Communism Act.
29 Roux is referring to the South African Federation of Non-European
Trade Unions which began in 1928 on the Witwatersrand and brought
together five organisations. The SAFNETU was a victim of state repression,
economic depression and factional fighting within the CPSA. The first
two constraints made organisation extremely difficult: Communist
squabbles resulted in the expulsion of key SAFNETU activists.
30 See Documents 13 and 14.
31 William G. Ballinger (1894-1974) came to South Africa in 1928
as an advisor to the ICU but was unable to prevent its disintegration
into hostile factions. In 1930/31 he represented the ICU at the Non-European
Conferences. He was a member of the Joint Council movement, and from
1948 to 1960 he was a Natives' Representative in Senate for the Transvaal
and Orange Free State. He helped found the Liberal Party but later
lost sympathy with it.
32 James Howard Pim (1862-1934) emigrated from Ireland in 1890 and
became a leading South African accountant. In 1903 Lord Milner appointed
him to the Johannesburg town council, and a few years later he was
elected deputy mayor of Johannesburg. His practice was hurt when
the Chamber of Mines withdrew their audits in 1906 because of his
opposition to the importation of Chinese labour. In 1910 he abandoned
politics for municipal affairs and community welfare and helped establish
the Joint Council movement and the SAIRR. J. D. Rheinallt Jones (1884-1953)
emigrated to South Africa from Wales in 1905 and became a leading
figure in the Joint Council movement and the SAIRR. From 1937 to
1942 he was a Natives' Representative in Senate for the Transvaal
and Orange Free State.
33 Edgar Harry Brookes, a distinguished academic and principal of
Adams College from 1933 to 1945, was active in the Joint Council
movement and from 1937 served fifteen years as a Natives' Representative
in Senate. He joined the Liberal Party in March 1962 after many of
its leaders had been detained and became its National Chairman. In
the 1970s he became critical of the Liberal Party from the standpoint
of traditional liberal individualism.
34 Labour Monthly, published in London, was a journal founded and
edited by R. Palme Dutt, a leading theoretician of the British Communist
35 Albert Nzula was a teacher who joined the CPSA in August 1928
after hearing Wolton speak at an outdoor rally. He was elected Assistant
Secretary at the CPSA's seventh conference in 1928/29 and became
Secretary of LAR. Later he attended the Lenin School and wrote for
The Negro Worker. He died in Moscow in 1933 in controversial circumstances.
In the early 1930s he argued for the primacy of the
agrarian question in South Africa, articulating a two-stage model of change which
followed that outlined by the Comintern at its Sixth Congress (Nzula et al. 1979).
36 Bunting is referring to E. S. "Solly" Sachs (1901-76). Born in Lithuania
and described by his brother. Bernard Sachs (1959:44-59) as a "Talmudist
and rebel", a political pragmatist who was "the perfect apparatus man" and
an admirer of Stalin's political realism. Solly Sachs was expelled from the CPSA
in September 1931. His life's work was the predominantly Afrikaner and female
Garment Workers' Union, to which he was elected Secretary in November 1928, and
the subject of his book. Rebels' Daughters (1957). He was forced to resign in
1952 under the Suppression of Communism Act and later went into exile in Britain


Here we see the first serious attempt by South African Communists
to relate the issues of national liberation and socialism. The
controversy is situated not just within the context of South Africa
but also within the broader international Communist debates about
colonialism. The complexities of the South African situation are
evident in the divisive impact of this new position upon the Party


Last updated : 31-Mar-2011

This article was produced by South African History Online on 31-Mar-2011

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