As the Union Parliament prepares to assemble for its new session, the people of South Africa face the grim prospect of more fascist attacks from the Strijdom police state on their fast dwindling rights.
Our African womenfolk face the ghastly possibility of having to carry passes and suffer all the indignity and oppression of the pass system. Our Coloured people stand to lose their voting rights on the common roll and they, together with the Indian community will have to bear the main brunt of the further and more vigorous implementation of the Nazi ghetto law – the Group Areas Act. Our workers of all races and colours will be confronted with the sinister and foul implications of the new Industrial Conciliation Bill which is intended to destroy workers’ unity, strangulate their trade unions, rob them of their most cherished right – the right to strike – and to place them under the corroding influence of racialism.
In the face of this onslaught the people of our land must rally and stand firmly united in order to turn back the tide of apartheid tyranny.
One of the most important and indispensable weapons in all these struggles is New Age, the people’s paper. Without it the freedom struggle would be so much poorer.
It is, therefore impermissible that we should allow it to remain a four–pager when the needs of the time demand that New Age should be at least an eight-pager, if not bigger. New Age will become an eight–pager before the end of this month! It is our duty and our task to keep it up to eight pages for the duration of 1956.
We must make every effort to raise every single penny we can to support New Age.
We must set to work right now:
Act now! Donate and Collect! Help to keep New Age an eight-pager. Every penny for New Age is a penny well spent for freedom!
[Dr. DONGES’ recent attack on Mr. Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister, and on the South African Indian community, was strongly condemned by Dadoo in a letter of protest to the Minister of the Interior.]
As a South African of Indian origin I wish to lodge my strong protest against what appears to be a deliberate misrepresentation of facts in regard to Mr. Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister, and in regard to the South African Indian community which you deemed fit to make in a public speech at Mossel Bay.
You alleged that there was discrimination against the 'untouchables' in India. The fact of the matter is that the new Indian constitution guarantees full and equal rights to all its citizens and any discrimination against a person or group of persons is made a criminal offence punishable by law. The 'untouchables' of yesterday are citizens of today in the new Republic of India and are able to participate in the Government of the country, as cabinet ministers in the central and provincial governments as well as members of all the councils of the state. They, unlike the non-European people of South Africa, are fully and lawfully entitled to own and occupy land and property anywhere without discrimination.
It is true that customs die hard and there may be certain instances of some orthodox Indians resenting the acceptance of 'untouchables' on a basis of equality, but such an attitude is generally condemned and the offender is liable to criminal prosecution.
Your reference to 'the forced removal of seven million Moslems from India to Pakistan' in comparison with the forced removal of the African people from the Western Areas to Meadowlands is as irrelevant as it is mischievous, in view of the fact that the Indian migration with all its attendant tragic consequences was born out of great historical upheaval connected with the transfer of political power from British into Indian and Pakistan hands in 1947.
It is illogical to compare it with the well-calculated brutal plan of the Nationalist Government in forcibly removing peaceful African citizens from the Western Areas and robbing them of their legitimate right of ownership. The Indian people take strong exception to your remark that 'if it were true that Indians in South Africa were oppressed one would think they would be only too happy to escape from this oppression to the paradise in India.'
The fact that over 98% of South African Indians together with the rest of the non-European people are oppressed and humiliated on grounds of race and colour cannot be denied. Apartheid hangs like a heavy millstone round their necks. They are denied any say whatever in the affairs of state.
It would be indeed cowardly for South African Indians to run away from oppression. We, as good citizens and patriots, shall stay here and struggle together with all true lovers of democracy to halt the onward march of the Nationalist Government towards a police state and contribute our due share in transforming South Africa into a genuine democracy freed from all the evils of racial and colour discrimination – a country of which we all who inhabit it can truly be proud."
[This statement was issued by Dr. Dadoo following the proclamation of the first large group areas in the country. It appeared in Johannesburg on the eve of the all-in conference on group areas convened by the Transvaal Indian Congress for August 25 and 26.]
In time of crisis there are invariably timid, faint-hearted people who panic and, like a drowning man, clutch at any straw.
We, too have such people in our midst. The proclamation of group areas in the western suburbs has sent them running helter-skelter in all directions shouting: "Accept residential segregation," "Accept Lenasia," and in the words of a certain rich Indian landlord:
"We have no alternative but to accept Lenasia as a residential township and to trust that the Government will deal fairly and honestly with us in regard to the preservation of trading rights."
With the proclamation of group areas there is no doubt that our people face a very critical situation.
What are we to do? Accept the cowardly advice of those who say "accept residential segregation first and negotiate with the Government for the preservation of trading rights and means of livelihood?" Voluntarily and willingly go to Lenasia now?
This would be tantamount to presenting the Government with an accomplished fact. What more does it want! Once we have moved our homes from existing localities it will then be mere child’s play for the Strijdom Government to close down our shops, businesses and all legitimate avenues of making a decent and honourable living.
Those who hope to "negotiate with the Government for the preservation of trading rights" are living in a fool’s paradise. The aim of the Group Areas Act is clear for all to see. The report of the inter-departmental committees appointed by the Nationalist Government in 1948 which forms the basis of the Group Areas Act, states in clear and unambiguous language:
"The fundamental theme of the evidence throughout the years has been and still is repatriation or, failing which, compulsory segregation…"
Thus to hope for negotiation is an illusion. Harbouring such nebulous notions can only lead to vacillation and confusion among the people. It can only have the disastrous effect of weakening and disrupting the so far successful, united stand of the community against the Group Area Act.
Any weakening of our stand or any sign of panic on our part will serve as a source of encouragement to the Government to proclaim further group areas and press on with its policy of apartheid.
The critical situation calls for vigorous and energetic measures.
We must not go to Lenasia or any other group areas set aside for our people. We must forge a strong bond of solidarity between landlords and tenants in the common struggle for existence, by calling upon Indian landlords to cease charging goodwill money and exorbitant rents.
We must seek the co-operation of all men of goodwill and of all democratic organisations in forming local and regional vigilance committees for the purpose of defending the legitimate rights and opportunities of all sections of the people irrespective of race, colour or creed.
We must enlist the support of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry and trade union organisations in a mighty campaign to prevent the country’s economic progress and welfare being disrupted by the application of the Group Areas Act and the apartheid policy of the Government.
We must take our full and rightful place in the mounting campaign against every facet of apartheid throughout the country. What happens in a year or two years’ time will be determined by how effectively and courageously we discharge now the tasks enumerated above.