Programme of the Nafional Liberation League ofS.A. as Revised and Adopfed af Firsf Congress, Cope Town, March 1937



Contrary to the generally accepted idea the Emancipation of Slaves
in 1834 did not bring freedom to the non-European peoples of South
Africa. It merely substitued the present day wage-slavery with
its scientific methods of intensified exploitation for the chattel
slavery ofthose by-gone days.16

Taking stock of the non-Europeans position in the body politic
one hundred years after, it is obvious that "emancipation" had
only made possible the imposition upon the non-European peoples
of South Africa of a form of servitude a hundred times more subtle,
deadly and dangerous than their ancestors of pre-emancipation days

Formerly the slave owner had an interest in keeping his "property" in
workable and consequently profitable condition. To-day the "free" labourer
is paid a miserable pittance in exchange for his labour and whether
this suffices for the maintenance of himself and his dependents
in ordinary comfort and decency is no concern ofanybody, much less
the master. One hundred years after his "emancipation" the
slave possesses only the "freedom" to starve.

When in 1834 the shackles of chattel slavery were struck from his
limbs, he stepped forward upon the path toward his rightful heritage
- freedom in the land of his birth.To-day he faces only disillusionment;
poverty and discrimination is his lot. The stifling atmosphere
ofthe pre-emancipation days still pervades his environment.

The modern slave finds that his oppressor does not intend to permit
him to rise to equality with his white fellow-workers. Laws bar
his access to the machine. Colour prejudice and poverty strangle
his aspirations to culture. His women-folk are subjected to economic
exploitation by day and sex exploitation by night; his children
herded in slums, prematurely aged, a prey to the germs of disease.

Pass Laws make it impossible to travel freely. Statutes give the
right to the white land-owner to flog his black servant without
recourse to the law courts. Taxed without representation in the
governing and administrative bodies of the country; denied recognition
of the right to organise into Trade Unions; systematically being
deprived of the franchise and other rights previously held in the
Cape; and a total denial of ordinary citizenship rights in the
other Provinces; as well as an intolerable burden of oppression
and exploitation which is daily being added to; is the lot of the

Without land, bread and equality of opportunity, there can be no
freedom. After a century, the non-Europeans must still fight for
that freedom which should rightly have been his since 1834.


Neither did the fusion of Anglo-Boer imperialism typified in the
Act of Union, 1910 bring freedom to the white people formerly oppressed
by British Imperialism. British Imperialism holds down the white
people of South Africa, denying them their national freedom and
hampering their movement for liberation with the assistance of
misleaders such as Smuts, Hertzog, Malan.

The white worker, natural ally of the non-European peoples in their
struggle for freedom from imperialism is corrupted and mislead
by certain Trade Union leaders who pledge the support ofthe white
working class to the imperialist regime with the assitance of a
system of bribes in the shape of occupations reserved for Europeans
only. (Colour Bar in Industry. The Civilized Labour Policy.)

Ample investigation into and ocular proof of the ever lowering
standard of the white working class demonstrates the impossibility
of more than a favoured few reaping any material advantage from
the operation of this policy. The vast majority of the white workers
have no prospect of national freedom or future, except the increasing
burden of militarism and the horrible sacrifices of war on behalf
of imperialism.

Just as the fate of the non-European peoples is inextricably bound
to that of the white working class, the white workers cannot strike
off the fetters of wage slavery from their necks unless they assist
in striking the shackles from the limbs of the non-Europeans.
Neither the white workers nor the non-Eurpean masses can achieve
real froedom unless they achieve complete solidarity in their fight
against their common enemy, the white capitalist-imperialist.

the non-European peoples and especially the non-European workers
to discard and overcome their prejudice against the white workers.
To realise that even if some of them have been corrupted by the
flesh pots of capitalism-imperialism and their own misleaders to
uphold the supremacy over and persecution ofthe non-European peoples,
they still remain as a class the inevitable ally ofthe non-European

calls upon the white workers to cut themselves loose decisively
from the policy of their ruling class toward the non-European peoples,
to disavow once and for all the attitude of white superiority which
has proven to be only a chain which binds them to the imperialist

Unless white labour wishes to be dragged down to the oppressed
and degraded position of the non-European toilers, unless it wishes
to have heaped upon itself the thousand and one persecutions which
plague labour with a black skin, unless it wishes to remain in
perpetual wage bondage and misery, let white labour extend its
arm of alliance and solidarity on every issue which faces it as
well as the non-European peoples.
As a preliminary to the sucessful struggle for national liberation
of the oppressed peoples of South Africa, it is imperative that
the understanding be firmly established that no one section can
be free while the other section - the vast majority - namely the
non-Europeans remain enslaved.

The struggle for national liberation therefor prescribes a unity
of all elements opposed to imperialism, having in mind always that
the interests and aspirations of the great majority, the non-Europeans
take precedence.

Both white and black anti-imperialists stand therefor squarely
before the alternative, either a determined fight for freedom,
or submision to further enslavement, degradation and poverty.

Resolutely facing the issue, THE NATIONAL LIBERATION LEAGUE OF
SOUTH AFRICA comes forward with a programme for the liberation
of the oppressed peoples.

Last updated : 31-Mar-2011

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

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