"Three Doctors' Pact"

9 March 1947

"Joint Declaration of Cooperation" by Dr. A. B. Xuma, President of the African National Congress, Dr. G.M. Naicker, President of the Natal Indian Congress, and Dr. Y.M. Dadoo, President of the Transvaal Indian Congress, March 9, 1947

This Joint Meeting between the representatives of the African National Congress and the Natal and Transvaal Indian Congresses, having fully realised the urgency of cooperation between the non-European peoples and other democratic forces for the attainment of basic human rights and full citizenship for all sections of the South African people, has resolved that a Joint Declaration of Cooperation is imperative for the working out of a practical basis of cooperation between the national organisations of the Non-European peoples.

This Joint Meeting declares its sincerest conviction that for the future progress, goodwill, good race relations, and for the building of a united, greater and free South Africa, full franchise rights must be extended to all sections of the South African people, and to this end this Joint Meeting pledges the fullest cooperation between the African and Indian peoples and appeals to all democratic and freedom-loving citizens of South Africa to support fully and cooperate in this struggle for:

  1. Full franchise
  2. Equal economic and industrial rights and opportunities and the recognition of African trade unions under the Industrial Conciliation Act
  3. The removal of all land restrictions against non-Europeans and the provision of adequate housing facilities for all non-Europeans
  4. The extension of free and compulsory education to non-Europeans
  5. Guaranteeing freedom of movement and the abolition of Pass Laws against the African people and the provincial barriers against Indians
  6. And the removal of all discriminatory and oppressive legislations from the Union's statute book.

This Joint Meeting is therefore of the opinion that for the attainment of these objects it is urgently necessary that a vigorous campaign be immediately launched and that every effort be made to compel the Union Government to implement the United Nations' decisions and to treat the Non-European peoples in South Africa in conformity with nhe principles of the United Nations Charter.

This Joint Meeting further resolves to meet from time to time to implement this Declaration and to take active steps in proceeding with the campaign.


MARCH 11, 1947 (From: Passive Resister, Johannesburg, March 14, 1947 )

(Dr. Naicker and Dr. Dadoo, Presidents of Natal and Transvaal Indian Congresses, visited India in March 1947 to consult Indian leaders on the South African situation and to attend the Asian Relations Conference. They issued the following joint statement to the South African people on the eve of their departure from Johannesburg on March 11, 1947.)

We carry with us the goodwill and the good wishes of the entire Indian community and the non-European peoples, and the progressive elements among the Europeans to the people of India.

We are leaving the shores of South Africa at a critical and decisive phase in her history. The Smuts Government has shown a bankruptcy in leadership in dealing with the acute post-war problems which confront both the white and non-white populations. The acute housing shortage has created a crying scandal. Thousands of homeless people amongst the Africans are forced to live in squatters' hell in sack shanties.

Fostering race antagonism

Instead of giving a strong lead on the decision of the United Nations, the Smuts Government is guilty of not only permitting but fostering race antagonism. This antagonism has begun to express itself in the boycott of Indian traders and the open propaganda of our vulgarly fascist bodies.

General Smuts is attempting to cover up the criminal failure of his Government to deal with the colour and post-war problems by riveting the attention of the people an the pomp and glamour of the Royal tour.

But this will be a temporary affair, and when the curtain goes down on the Royal visit, the chaos and confusion existing in South Africa will be exposed to the public gaze. Under the guise of the Royal visit, reactionaries in the Indian community are being rendered every assistance by the Union Government, with the sole purpose of attempting to divide the Indian people.

The Indian people must beware of this trap. We appeal to them to stand fast. Do not heed the counsel of despair. Render full support to the Passive Resistance Movement. Join up as volunteers. Help financially. History has entrusted you with the important task of being in the vanguard of the battle for democracy in South Africa.

Historic meeting

The historic joint meeting last Sunday between representatives of the African National Congress, representing the African people of South Africa, the Natal Indian Congress and the Transvaal Indian Congress, and the Joint Declaration ensuing therefrom, have paved the way for greater and closer cooperation between the African and the Indian people.

We hope that ere long the Coloured community too will come in, into this great movement.

On to Freedom

We appeal to the non-European people to come forward on the road to freedom. We appeal to all true democrats and men of goodwill in the European community to throw in their lot wholeheartedly on the side of progress. They can either through the extension of democratic rights to all South Africans go forward in step with the world democratic forces to a greater and happier South Africa and towards world peace or else allow the fascist forces in the country to lead us into racial antagonism, a totalitarian regime and war.

The battle for democracy is on!

On to Freedom!

Au Revoir.


JUNE 1947 (From: The Passive Resister, Johannesburg, June 12, 1947)

A year ago we began our unequal struggle against the arrogant racialist Government for democratic rights almost alone. A glorious chapter in the history of the Indian people has been written by the heroic sacrifices, massive enthusiasm and invincible spirit of our men and women from all walks of life. Today we are happy in the thought that in our struggle, which is the spearhead of the battle for fundamental human rights in the Continent of Africa, we have with us the United Nations, Great India, Greater Asia, and the progressive people of the world.

Here, in South Africa, we have as allies the oppressed African and Coloured masses with a band of courageous breed of men and women of the ruling class solidly behind us. Together we march for freedom. If the Indian people show the same indomitable spirit, the cold-blooded courage and the enthusiasm they have shown in the last twelve months then liberty is assured and victory is ours.


JUNE 1, 1947 (This was the first annual conference of the Natal Indian Congress under a new constitution adopted in December 1946.)

My dear Brothers and Sisters and Friends,

It gives me a sense of very deep pleasure to be back among you again, back in time for this Conference, the first to be held under our new democratic constitution.

I know that most of you would wish me to give you a full account of my experiences in India but I cannot do that tonight. I must leave such a talk to a later date. However, I wish to give you the main political conclusions that Dr. Dadoo and I have drawn from our tour. India approves of our struggle, and is against any form of surrender or talk of surrender. Every political party in India pledges us its full support. We were inspired not only by India's great leaders and national organisations to continue unswervingly along our path, but also by the fighting spirit of the masses of India, who everywhere greeted us with spontaneous enthusiasm and encouraged us to fight with increased vigour. Whatever internal differences may exist in India we found that the people and leaders were unanimous about their compatriots in South Africa.

Gandhiji told us that the Satyagrahis of South Africa should know that they have India behind them in their struggle for preserving the self-respect of Indians in South Africa.

Jinnah, after he had been given an outline of the position, said: "I believe and wholeheartedly sympathise in their struggle for a righteous cause. We have done all we could to help the Indians in South Africa and we wish we could do more to help them."

We were also fortunate enough to be able to have discussions with representatives from almost every country in Asia, and one and all assured us of their keen interest and active support.

Both India and the Asian leaders recognised that we in South Africa were not only fighting for our just rights but also to preserve the national honour and dignity of all Indians and Asians; and Dr. Dadoo and I know that we spoke in your name when we made it clear to all that we would not flinch whatever the trials that fate may have in store for us.

When South Africa first insulted Asians and accorded them a lower status here, the Asian countries were weak, divided and oppressed by imperialism.

We were quick to notice a fundamental change in Asia. Despite temporary difficulties the old Asia is dead for all time and a mighty India and resurgent Asia is arising which will allow no country to trifle with her sons and daughters in other countries. Little does puny South Africa realise the rapidly growing strength of the mighty forces whose anger she is provoking. The whole Asian world is aglow with the determination never to submit meekly to race domination or imperialist exploitation.

What do we Indians ask in South Africa?

We are not here to make extravagant demands or to seek any privileges that are not our due. We are citizens of this country. We are taxed in the usual way. All we ask is to be given in return those rights which belong to all citizens in a democratic State. We are not foreigners. We are South Africans of Indian descent, in the same way as others are South Africans of English, European, or African descent. Nearly all of us were born in this country. Our fathers came here in the 1860's and after at the express desire of the then Government of Natal on the promise of rights "not a whit inferior" to those of the white man.

We do not accept the theory that just because our skin is darker than that of Europeans we should get inferior treatment, and should be relegated to the position of "drawers of water and hewers of wood". The world has just emerged from the greatest crisis of humanity in its fight against Nazism and Fascism, the supreme embodiments of the "herrenvolk ideology". Recognising that such ideas are bound to lead to further wars the nations of the world assembled at San Francisco, in framing the Charter of the United Nations, resolved categorically to ban racialism from the world, and all the members of the United Nations subscribed to the Charter prohibiting discrimination based on colour, race or creed.

South Africa in signing the Charter accepted the proviso and thus in effect agreed to the abolition of its colour bar policies. Notwithstanding her solemn world obligations, notwithstanding her repeated agreements with India, not only did she refuse to frame a programme for the gradual elimination of all such legislation but on the contrary introduced the "Ghetto" Act, thereby depriving the Indian community of fundamental human rights and imposing a policy of segregation.

The United Nations, after a careful and full examination of South Africa's conduct, decided by a two- thirds majority that South Africa and India should meet so as to bring the treatment of Indians in this country in accord with the United Nations Charter and in consonance with agreements between the two countries. In other words, the United Nations implicitly ruled that South Africa had violated the Charter, but that she be given an opportunity to remedy the situation.

We, the Indian people, stand by the UN's decision as the judgment of the highest tribunal in the world. We realise that the world is not only concerned about our treatment but that it recognised that in South Africa's treatment of its non-Europeans generally were hidden the seeds of vast international conflicts. Just as the peoples of the world had refused to tolerate the racialist ideas of Hitler, so the United Nations had agreed not to allow South Africa to menace world peace.

Can South Africa defy United Nations? We think not.

It would be wrong, of course, to give the impression that we demand our liberty by the sweep of the pen. That is not so. What we ask is first the unconditional repeal of the Ghetto Act. Secondly, a programme of progressive removal of all the laws that place Indians in an inferior position.

Why Should South Africa Refuse to Grant us our Rights?

South Africa is a member of the World Parliament where she works with delegates of all nations including Indians, Asians, and other non-Europeans. She has never objected to this arrangement and has not demanded that in the interests of "White Civilisation", non-white countries should be debarred from membership because their overwhelming number will swampthe United Nations and finally force the world to follow an "Eastern policy." Then why should she not apply the same principles in this country and allow non-Europeans free and equal representation? If South African soldiers did not object to fighting side by side with Indians and other Asians to overthrow Nazism, why should South African citizens object to working together with all the inhabitants of this country to defeat the real enemy - poverty, hunger, unemployment, lack of housing, disease, crime and so on.

We reject all arguments based on the inability of Indians to have the same culture, understanding and standard of living as the Europeans. Such arguments are specious, untruthful and unscientific, and are based completely on the refuted Nazi ideology. We can thus come to only one conclusion - that the Government is not anxious to deal fairly in the matter but for its own purposes, namely, those of protecting European vested interests, it is prepared to allow South Africa to degenerate into the undesirable position that Germany finds herself in today.

There is no justifiable reason at all for one community to try to live on the exploitation of other communities. South Africa is a large country with a small population and vast resources. There is plenty of room for all, wealth for all and work for all provided we do away with artificial barriers and give every person the opportunities of full self-development and the right of equal participation in the building up of South Africa's vast potential.

Once the standard of living of all South Africa's populations is raised, and with the removal of the fears of unemployment, together with the supplying of adequate food and housing, racialism will disappear. But if the process is reversed and if our common problems and dangers are forgotten, to be replaced by an orgy of race baiting and race hatred, then this country will be dragged towards an abyss; and not the least to suffer will be the Europeans themselves as they can never hope to enjoy the fruits of democracy by allowing non-Europeans to live in poverty and disease.

The colour bar is recognized by thinking men and women in South Africa of all colours to be the greatest barrier to industrial and agricultural development, in the same way as slavery was to America in the middle of the last century. Our policy, therefore, far from being impractical, is the only real and lasting solution if South Africa is to avoid a devastating economic and political crisis in the near future.

Nor is our policy in any way anti-European. We know that the fundamental interests of both Europeans and Indians (and other peoples) of this country are the same. We stand for friendship with the European community, but such friendship can only be won on the basis of equal status for all - not on the basis of race inequalities.

Smuts Government and the United Nations Decision

After the United Nations decision the Passive Resistance Council decided to continue passive resistance in token form in order to give the Government an opportunity of translating it into reality.

We regret to note that the Government has failed to observe a proper sense of responsibility following the last Assembly of the United Nations and has encouraged the belief among the electorate that its decisions may be ignored with impunity. The reactionaries immediately went ahead with attempts to terrorise the Indian community and the Government itself connived at the boycott of Indian traders, hoping thus to force the merchant class into panic. But it has only succeeded in driving the leaders of appeasement out of their hiding places. It must also be admitted that due entirely to the Government's refusal to reveal the true implications of the United Nations resolution to the Europeans there has been a deterioration in relations between the two communities.

There can be no doubt, however, that the Prime Minister is greatly troubled by the thought of the next meeting of the United Nations General Assembly and is not as comforted as he was by his "powerful friends."

It is clear that the South African Government desires a Round Table Conference with India, but only in the hope that some compromsie agreement can be arrived at.

Realising that your Congress would not collaborate in destroying the aspirations of the Indian people, the Government has inspired the formation of a "Natal Indian Organisation" in the time-honoured imperialist tradition of divide and rule. The indecent haste with which General Smuts has recognised this organisation reveals the ineptitude of his tactics. Aptly has Sir Syed Reza Ali castigated it as an "unholy alliance" between a small section of "big Indian money in the Union and General Smuts."

The representative voice of the Indian people of Natal, however, is to be found in no other place than in this, the largest Assembly of accredited delegates of the province's Indian community. It is always available to the Prime Minister and in his need he should seek it, if he sincerely desires an understanding with our people. He must be warned that the substitutes sought elsewhere are valueless.


To summarise: We stand for a Round Table Conference to be held within the framework of the United Nations resolution. We are not anti-European. We are the friends of all the peoples of this country.

We expect that the Ghetto Act will be unconditionally withdrawn, and that steps will be taken to remove the other disabilities against us.

We stand also for the removal of disabilities imposed on the Africans and all other races amongst us and at all times we shall assist them in their struggle.

We stand for non-European cooperation as the best means of waging a struggle for the full implementation of the rights of all peoples of South Africa. We regard the signing of our agreement with Dr. Xuma as a historic development in the cooperation of our two peoples.

All of India is perhaps more pleased with this achievement than with all our other steps to date. Just as we shall never rest till we are freed so shall we work till all the non-Europeans get equal treatment.

To all who think that we are not strong enough to continue the struggle we say: With 8,000,000 out of 10,000,000 organised in a determined struggle, supported by India and Asia, and the rest of the peace-loving peoples of the world, we must win, just as all the countries of Europe and Asia raising aloft the proud banner of freedom and revealing an unconquerable spirit are winning through to independence.


August 28, 1947(From: Passive Resister, Johannesburg,)

Joint statement by Dr. G. M. Naicker and Dr. Y. M. Dadoo, Presidents of the Natal and Transvaal and Indian Congresses, on the correspondence between General Smuts and Pandit Nehru, Prime Ministers of the Union of South Africa and India, August 1947

We, the Presidents of the Natal and Transvaal Congresses, representing the overwhelming majority of the Indian community in both provinces, welcome and fully support the stand taken by Pandit Nehru on behalf of South African Indians on the question of negotiations between India and South Africa.

We have implicit faith in both the Governments of India and Pakistan to champion our cause vigorously and adopt firm measures to obtain justice and democratic rights for South African Indians in conformity with the principles of the United Nations Charter.

We reluctantly but justifiably deplore the attitude adopted by General Smuts in his letter of June 18 to Pandit Nehru. It is a deliberate misstatement of facts on the part of Smuts, who had full knowledge of the true position, to state: "Groups representing all classes of Indians are dissatisfied with the conduct of the affairs by the Natal Congress, whose leadership was under an ideological influence of which they disapproved and whose approach they consider harmful to Indian interests."

These are the facts:

  1. The Natal Indian Congress can boast a membership of 35,000 out of a total of 228,000 Indians in Natal. The officials are elected at properly constituted public meetings and enjoy the fullest confidence of the overwhelming mass of Indians in Natal. These facts have been demonstrated at dozens of mass meetings attended by as many as 10,000 to l2,000 Indians who wholeheartedly endorsed the policy of Congress.
  2. The struggle for democratic rights has never been influenced by ideological conceptions. The battle is waging against the racialist tendencies of the Government which denies Indians who are South African nationals: (a) the rights of citizenship; (b) freedom of movement; (e) freedom of residence; (d) freedom to purchase land; and (e) equality of opportunity in the economic and educational spheres.

The "group representing all classes" referred to by the Prime Minister is no other than a handful of discredited individuals styling themselves the Natal Indian Organisation. This so-called organisation, which claims to represent the views of the Indian people, came into being at a secret meeting a few months ago, behind closed doors guarded by officers of the C.I.D. supplied by the Government. This handful of disgruntled individuals danced to the tune of the Prime Minister and indulged in flirtations with him while delicate correspondence affecting the future of Indians was going on between the two Governments.

In Parliament, Smuts frankly admitted that he did not know how many Indians this "group representing all classes" represented.

In the Transvaal, where there is a population of 37,000 Indians, the Transvaal Indian Congress is the only organisation representing all sections of the Indians. Its officials, like those of the Natal Congress, are democratically elected at mass meetings attended by 10,000 out of the total of 37,000 persons, and the present policy enjoys the wholehearted support of the mass of the Indians. The leadership amongst Transvaal Indians remains unchallenged.

Yet Smuts has the impertinence to tell the Government of India that his obstinacy in refusing to hold discussions on the basis of the United Nations decision is backed by a considerable volume of responsible Indian opinion in South Africa.

We challenge this statement.

In his long career as a South African statesman, Smuts has stooped on many occasions to methods far from honourable, but his latest action in using the very name of the people concerned in support of his attempt to evade the decision of the World Assembly will remain the grossest misrepresentation ever made by the Prime Minister of a country.


December ll, 1947(From: Passive Resister, Johannesburg)

Joint statement by Dr. Dadoo, President of Transvaal Passive Resistance Council, and Dr. G. M. Naicker, President of Natal Passive Resistance Council, issued after a meeting of the Joint Passive Resistance Council in December 1947

The Joint Passive Resistance Council of the Natal and Transvaal Indian Congresses, having given careful consideration to the present political situation affecting the Indian people of South Africa is of the view that a restatement of the position is necessary in the light of recent developments.

Since the advent of the Indians in this country the first positive struggle to stem the tide of unjust and anti-Indian racial laws was the Passive Resistance Campaign of the 1906-1914 period under Mahatma Gandhi.

The intervening period of 32 years has been characterised by a futile policy of hat-in-hand negotiations in defence of the fast-dwindling rights of the Indian people; a policy which has enabled the Union Government to introduce measure after measure of racially discriminatory legislation culminating in the nationally ruinous "Ghetto Act" now strangulating Indian economic life, social progress and political aspirations.

Last year saw the beginning of the second Passive Resistance struggle.

For the last 17 months the Indian people of South Africa have waged with success a historic and heroic campaign. At the Gale Street plot they demonstrated their unalterable opposition to the Ghetto Act. The Union Government gaoled nearly 2,000 men and women. Hooliganism, wholesale arrests, harsh terms of imprisonment and organised boycott of Indian traders failed to crush the spirit and will of the Indian people. The policy of repression has not availed the Government. In its dilemma the Government has now resorted to non-arrest tactics. At Gale Street, Passive Resistance has won a victory.

United Nations decision inviolate

The intransigent attitude of the South African Government has compelled India to sever diplomatic relations, to apply economic sanctions and to indict South Africa before the United Nations.

Last year the United Nations condemned South Africa's racial policies. She was asked to report to the 1947 session the steps taken to obviate the complaint. South Africa did not implement the decision.

That decision remains inviolate until upset by another two-thirds majority. This year the Assembly's decision, as expressed in the Indian resolution, though carried by a 31 votes to 19 majority, lacks the force of a binding decision, owing to a procedural technicality; it nevertheless constitutes a majority opinion of the United Nations. It called upon South Africa to convene a Round Table Conference between itself and the Governments of India and Pakistan. The Union Government must, therefore, note :

  1. That world opinion has not changed. As in the 1946 session, the 1947 session of the United Nations General Assembly has exposed it to universal condemnation. Not one delegate was found who could defend racial persecution in South Africa.
  2. That the most practical method by which measures may be inaugurated that could lead to a solution of the conflict remains a Round Table Conference between the Governments of India, Pakistan and South Africa.
  3. That the responsibility for convening such a conference now rests upon South Africa. Failure to discharge this responsibility may not only lead to more emphatic action by the next Assembly of the United Nations but possibly invite measures even earlier by the 31 nations who voted for the resolution, and more particularly by the Asian peoples.

No rest

On the international plane and within South Africa, the struggle has made tremendous advances.

The non-European peoples of South Africa have seen demonstrated the significance of non-violent resistance against the power and influence of a State based on white supremacy. But the Ghetto Act remains on the statute books of South Africa. Final victory has yet to be won.

There can be no rest for the Indian people. Our faith and confidence in the courage and determination of the people remains as strong as ever. We shall occupy the Gale Street.

We shall occupy other areas. We shall adopt other methods of struggle. We shall continue to resist till our goal is reached.

SPEECH IN 1947(1)

...Delegates from 32 countries of Asia sat shoulder to shoulder to participate in the historic conference which was a momentous demonstration of the unity of Asia's freedom-loving people...

The wholehearted response to the invitation of India from all the people of resurgent Asia and the unqualified success of the Conference was the manifestation of the indomitable urge for freedom, culture, unity and strength. It was a challenge to dying and tottering imperialism. It was a friendly but firm warning to the warmongering imperialists that the people of mighty Asia are awake and are not only not going to tolerate any form of exploitation in Asia, but they are going to extend their strong arm of help wherever there is a struggle for democracy and justice...

Whether it was the women's movement, the status of women, labour problems, racial problems, agricultural reconstruction, industrial development, or transition from colonial to national economy, when any item on the agenda was discussed the delegates went straight to the root of the problem which, when unearthed in each case, was found to be imperialism. And they decided unanimously that as a prerequisite to progress this decaying root must be pulled out and hurled into the dust bin of history...

We took the opportunity of meeting and discussing our problems and struggle with delegates of Tibet, Nepal and Soviet Socialist Asiatic Republics from the North, delegates from China and Malaya from the East, delegates from Ceylon in the South and delegates from Egypt, Iran and Arab League in the West, with delegates fresh from the trenches, the battle-scarred patriots of Indonesia and Vietnam. This is a reminder to us that Freedom must be won and cannot come as a gift.

The enthusiastic way in which they listened to our problems and those of other oppressed countries and their inspiring message and the promise of renewed support for our cause was at first embarrassing. And in the words of His Excellency Azzam Pasha, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, "The Arab League needs no thanks for the part they have played in supporting the Indians` case at the United Nations. The Arab League will always support any struggle for just and democratic rights as the Arab League stands for human brotherhood, democracy, justice and peace."

During our short stay in our Motherland we travelled extensively from West to East and South to North. We met and discussed our problems with the people of British India, people of the states, with the princes, with leaders of trade unions, members of the Interim Government, Pandit Nehru, Mahatmaji, Jinnah, leaders of the Communist Party and the Chamber of Commerce, with industrialists, students and the All India Women's Conference... In our ears still ring their determined and passionate promise to give us all possible help in our unequal battle for fundamental rights...

Our struggle - not merely a struggle for fundamental rights of the Indian minority in South Africa but a spearhead of the struggle of the oppressed people against the establishment of this Master plan...

A year ago we assembled here and took a solemn pledge to sacrifice and suffer for our freedom. Then we were alone. India was under the heel of imperialism.

Today we are assembled to renew our pledge and we can do so with greater determination and courage - for we have India on the verge of complete freedom and with a promise of the 32 Asiatic countries, the USSR and the rest of the progressive world to support our just struggle. We have since translated the growing desire for unity among the various sections of the oppressed people here into reality.

Today we have to pledge with cold-blooded courage and determination that we will rather stand on our legs and fight and die if need be than grovel on our knees and live for the crumbs that may fall to us. There can only be one answer that you can give and that is:




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