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“South Africa belongs to all who live in if, black and
– The Freedom Charter.

“All the Bantu have their permanent homes in the
reserves and their entry into other areas and into the urban areas is merely of
a temporary nature and for economic reasons. In other words they are admitted
as work-seekers, not as settlers.
– Dr. W. W. M. Eiselen, Secretary of the Department of Bantu Administration and
(Article in “Optima”, March 1959).

The two
statements quoted above contain diametrically opposite conceptions of this
country, its future and its destiny. Obviously they cannot be reconciled. They
have nothing in common, except that both of them look forward to a future state
of affairs rather than that which prevails at present. At present South Africa
does not “belong” – except in a moral sense – to all. 97 per cent. of
the country is legally owned by members (a handful of them at that) of the
dominant white minority. And at present by no means “all” Africans
have their “permanent homes” in the Reserves. Millions of Africans
were born and have their permanent homes In the towns and cities and elsewhere
outside the reserves, have never seen the reserves and have no desire to go

It is
necessary for the people of this country to choose between these two
alternative paths. It is assumed that readers of “Liberation” are
familiar with the detailed proposals contained in the Charter. Let us
therefore, as calmly and objectively as we can, study the alternatives
submitted by the Nationalist Party.


newspapers have christened the Nationalists’ plan as one for
“Bantustans”. The hybrid word is, in many ways, extremely misleading.
It relates to the partitioning of India, after the reluctant’ departure of the
British, and as a condition thereof, into two separate States, Hindustan and
Pakistan. There is no real parallel with the Nationalists’ proposals, for

India and Pakistan constitute
two completely separate and politically independent States,Muslims enjoy equal rights in
India; Hindus enjoy equal rights in Pakistan,Partition was submitted to and
approved by both parties, or at any rate fairly widespread and Influential
sections of each.

Government’s plans do not envisage the partitioning of this country into separate,
self-governing States. They do not envisage equal rights, or any rights at all,
for Africans outside the reserves. Partition has never been approved of by
Africans and never will be. For that matter it has never been really submitted
to or approved of by the Whites. The term “Bantustan” is therefore a
complete misnomer, and merely tends to help the Nationalists perpetrate a

Let us
examine each of these aspects in detail.

“Bantu Self-Government”

It is
typical of the Nationalists’ propaganda techniques that they describe their
measures in misleading titles, which convey the opposite of what the measures
contain. Verwoerd called his law greatly extending and intensifying the pass
laws the “Abolition of Passes” Act. Similarly, he has introduced into
the current Parliamentary session a measure called the “Promotion of Bantu
Self-Government Bill.” It starts off by decreeing the abolition of the
tiny token representation of Africans (by Whites) in Parliament and the Cape
Provincial Council.

It goes on
to provide for the division of the African population into eight “ethnic
units- (the so-called Bantustans.)(2) These units, It is declared, are to
undergo a “gradual development to self-government.”

measure was described by the Prime Minister, Dr. Verwoerd, as a “supremely
positive step” towards placing Africans “on the road to
self-government” (in his policy statement of January 27). Mr. De Wet Nel,
B.A.D. Minister, said the people in the reserves “would gradually be given
more powers to rule themselves.”

The White Paper

The scheme
is elaborated in a White Paper, tabled in the House of Assembly, to
“explain” the Bill. According to this document, immediate objects of
the Bill are:-

The recognition of the
so-called Bantu National Units and the appointment of
Commissioners-General whose task will be to give guidance and advice to
the units in order to promote their general development, with special
reference to the administrative field; The linking of Africans working
in urban areas with territorial authorities established under the Bantu
Authorities Act, by conferring powers on the Bantu Authorities to nominate
persons as their representatives in urban areas; The transfer to the Bantu
Territorial Authorities, at the appropriate time, of land In their areas
at present held by the Native Trust. The vesting in territorial
Bantu Authorities of legislative authority and the right to impose taxes,
and to undertake works and give guidance to subordinate authorities; The establishment of
territorial boards for the purpose of temporary liaison through
commissioners-general if during the transition period the administrative
structure in any area has not yet reached the stage where a territorial
authority has been established. The abolition of representation
In the highest – European governing bodies.

“Further Objects”

to the same White Paper the Bill has the following further objects:-

The creation of homogeneous
administrative areas for Africans by uniting the members of each so-called
national group In the national unit, concentrated in one coherent homeland
where possible; The education of Africans to a
sound understanding of the problems of soil conservation and agriculture
so that all rights over and responsibilities In respect of soil In African
areas may be assigned to them. This includes the gradual replacement of
European agricultural officers of all grades by qualified and competent
Africans; The systematic promotion of
diverse economy in the African areas, acceptable to Africans and to be
developed by them; The education of the African to
a sound understanding of the problems and aims of Bantu Education so that
by decentralisation of powers, responsibility for the different grades of
education may be vested in them; The training of Africans with a
view to effectively extending their own judicial system and their
education to a sound understanding of the common law with a view to
transferring to them responsibility for the administration of justice in
their areas; The gradual replacement of
European administrative officers by qualified and competent Africans; The exercise of legislative
powers by Africans in respect of their areas, at first on a limited scale,
but with every intention of gradually extending this power.

A Heavy Price

It will be
seen that the African people are asked to pay a very heavy price for this
so-called “self-government” in the Reserves. Urban Africans – the
workers, business men and professional men and women, who are the pride of our
people in their stubborn and victorious march towards modernisation and
progress – are to be treated as outcasts: not even “settlers” like
Dr. Verwoerd. Every vestige of rights and opportunities will be ruthlessly
destroyed. Everywhere outside the reserves an African will be tolerated only on
condition that it is for the convenience of the Whites.

There will
be forcible uprooting and mass removals of millions of people
(“homogeneous administrative areas” – see (a) under “Further
Objects” above.) The reserves, already intolerably overcrowded, will be
crammed with hundreds of thousands more people evicted by the Government.

In return
for all these hardships, in return for Africans abandoning their birthright as
citizens, pioneers and inhabitants of South Africa, the Government promises
them “self-government” in the tiny 13 per cent. that their greed and
miserliness “allocates” to us. But what sort of self-government is
this that is promised?

What Sort of Self-Government?

There are
two essential elements to self-government, as the term Is used and understood
all over the modern world . They are:

1. Democracy.
The organs of Government must be representative. That is to say they
must be the freely-chosen leaders and representatives Of the people, whose
mandate must be renewed at periodic democratic elections.

2. Sovereignty.
The Government thus chosen must be free to legislate and act as It deems fit on
behalf of the people, not subject to any limitations upon its powers by any
alien or internal authority.

neither of these two essentials are present in the Nationalist plan. The
“Bantu National Units” will be ruled in effect by the
Commissioners-General appointed by the Union Government, and administered by
the B.A.D. officials under his control. When the Government says it plans
gradually increasing self-government, it merely means that more powers in future
will be exercised by appointed councils of Chiefs and headmen. No provision is
made for elections. The Nationalists say that Chiefs, not elected legislatures,
are “the Bantu tradition.”

There was
a time when, like all peoples on earth, Africans conducted their simple
communities through Chiefs, advised by tribal councils and mass meetings of the
people. In those times the Chiefs were indeed representative governors.
Nowhere, however, have such institutions survived the complexities of modern
industrial civilisation. Moreover, in South Africa, we all know full well that
no Chief can retain his post unless he submits to Verwoerd, and many Chiefs who
sought the interest of their people be fore position and self -advancement
have, like President Lutuli, been deposed.

Thus, the
proposed Bantu Authorities will not be, in any sense of the term,
representative or democratic.

The point
is made with pride by the B.A.D. itself in an official publication:

councillors will perform their task without fear or prejudice, because they are
not elected by the majority of votes, and they will be able to lead their
people onwards … even though … it may demand hardships and sacrifice”(3)

A strange
paean to autocracy, from a department of a Government which claims to be

Tuesday 14 June 2011 11:21

There was a time when, like all peoples on earth, Africans conducted their simple communities through Chiefs, advised by tribal councils and mass meetings of the people

No Sovereignty

In spite
of all their precautions to see that their “Territorial Authorities”
– appointed by themselves, subject to dismissal by themselves, under constant
control by their Commissioners-General and their B.A.D. – never become
authentic voices of the people, the Nationalists are determined to see that
even these puppet bodies never enjoy any real power of sovereignty.

In his
notorious (and thoroughly dishonest) article in “Optima” Dr. Eiselen
draws a far-fetched comparison between the relations between the future
“Bantustans” and the Union Government, on the one hand; and those
between Britain and the self-governing Dominions on the other. He foresees:

“a co-operative
South African system based on the Commonwealth conception, with the Union
Government gradually changing its position from guardian and trustee to become
instead the senior member of a group of separate communities.”

appreciate the full hypocrisy of this statement, it must be remembered that Dr.
Eiselen is an official of a Nationalist Party Government, a member of a Party
which has built its fortune for the past half-century on its cry that it stands
for full and untrammeled sovereignty within the Commonwealth, that claims
credit for Hertzog’s achievements in winning the Statute of Westminster, which
proclaims such sovereignty, and which even now wants complete independence and
a Republic outside the Commonwealth.

It cannot
be claimed therefore that Eiselen and Verwoerd do not understand the nature of
a Commonwealth. or sovereignty or federation.

What are
we to think, then, in the same article, when Dr. Eiselen, comes right out into
the open, and declares:

utmost degree of autonomy in administrative matters which the Union Parliament
is likely to be prepared to concede to these areas will stop short of actual
surrender of sovereignty by the European trustee, and there is therefore no
prospect of a federal system with eventual equality among members taking the
place of the South African Commonwealth . . .”

There is
no sovereignty, then. No autonomy. No democracy. No self-government. Nothing
but a crude, empty fraud, to bluff the people at home and abroad, and to serve
as a pretext for heaping yet more hardships and injustices upon the African

The Economic Aspect

the talk about self-government for the reserves is a swindle. Economically, it
Is an absurdity.

The few
scattered African reserves in various parts of the Union, comprising about 13
per cent. of the least desirable land area, represent the last shreds of land
ownership left to the African people of their original ancestral home. After
the encroachments and depredations of generations of European land-sharks,
achieved by force and by cunning, and culminating the outrageous Land Acts from
1913 onwards, had turned the once free and independent Tswana, Sotho, Xhosa,
Zulu and other peasant farmers of this country into a nation of landless
outcasts and roving beggars, humble “work- seekers” on the mines and
the farms where yesterday they had been masters of the land, the new White
masters of the country generously “presented” the few miserable areas
that were left to remain as reservoirs and breeding -grounds for black labour.
These are the reserves.

It was
never claimed or remotely considered by the previous Governments of the Union
that these reserves could become economically self-sufficient ‘.national
homes” for 9,600,000 African people of this country. That final lunacy was
left to Dr. Verwoerd, Dr. Eiselen and the Nationalist Party.

facts are – as every reader who remembers M. Mbeki’s brilliant series of
articles on the Transkei in “Liberation” will be aware – that the
reserves are congested distressed areas, completely unable to sustain their
present populations. The majority of the adult mates are always away from home
working in the towns, mines or European-owned farms. The people are on the
verge of starvation.

The White
Paper speaks of teaching Africans soil conservation and agriculture and
replacing European Agricultural Officers by Africans. This is merely trifling
with the problem. The root problem of the reserves is .he intolerable
congestion which already exists. No amount of agricultural instruction will
ever enable 13 per cent. of the land to sustain 66 per cent of the population.

Industrial Development

Government is, of course, fully aware of this fact. They have no intention of
creating African areas which are genuinely self-supporting (and which could
therefore create a genuine possibility for self-government). If such areas were
indeed self-supporting, where would the Chamber of Mines and the Nationalist
farmers get their supplies of cheap labour?

In the
article to which I have already referred, Dr. Eiselen bluntly admits:

“in fact
not much more than a quarter of the community (on the reserves) can be farmers,
the others seeking their livelihood in industrial, commercial, professional or
administrative employment.”

Where are
they to find such employment? In the Reserves? To anyone who knows these
poverty-stricken areas, sadly lacking in modern communications, power-resources
and other needed facilities, the idea of industrial development seems
far-fetched indeed. The beggarly £500,000 voted to the so-called “Bantu
Investment Corporation” by Parliament is mere eyewash ,nd window-dressing:
it would not suffice to build a single decent road, railway line or power

“Rural Locations”

Government has already established a number of “rural locations”
townships in the reserves. The Eiselen article says a number more are planned:
he mentions a total of no less than 96. Since the residents will not farm, how
will they manage to keep alive, still less pay rent and taxes, and support the
traders, professional classes and civil servants whom the optimistic Eiselen
envisages as making a living there?

towns on the borders of the reserves have been designated as centres where
White capitalists can set up industries. Perhaps some will migrate, and thus
“export” their capital to sources of cheap labour and land.
Certainly, unlike the reserves (which are a monument to the callous
indifference of the Union Parliament to the needs of the non-voting African
tax-payers) these towns have power, water, transport, railways, etc. The Nationalist
Government, while it remains in office will probably subsidise capitalists who
migrate in this way. It is already doing so in various ways, thus creating
unemployment in the cities. But it is unlikely that any large-scale voluntary
movement will take place away from the big, established industrial centres,
with their well-developed facilities, available materials and markets.

Even if
many industries moved, or were forced to move, to the border areas around the
reserves it would not make one iota of difference to the economic viability of
the reserves themselves. The fundamental picture of the Union’s economy would
remain fundamentally the same as at present: a single integrated system based
upon the exploitation of African labour by White capitalists.

the “Bantustan” concept is just as big a swindle as it is


Thus we
find, if we really look into it that this grandiose “partition”
scheme, this “Supremely positive step” of Dr. Verwoerd, is – like all
apartheid schemes – merely a lot of high-sounding double-talk to conceal a
policy of ruthless oppression of the non-Whites and of buttressing the
unwarranted privileges of the White minority, especially the farming, mining
and financial circles.

Even if it
were not so, however; even if the schemes envisaged a genuine sharing-out of
the country on the basis of population figures, and a genuine transfer of power
to elected representatives of the people, it would remain fundamentally unjust
and dangerously unstable unless it were submitted to, accepted and endorsed by
all parties to the agreement. To think otherwise is to fly in the face of the
principle of self-determination, which ip upheld by all countries and confirmed
in the United Nations Charter, to which this country is pledged.

Now even
Dr. Eiselen recognises, to some extent, this difficulty. He pays lip-service to
the Atlantic Charter and appeals to “Western democracy.” He mentions
the argument that apartheid would only be acceptable “provided that the
parties concerned agreed to this of their own free will.” And then he most
dishonestly evades the whole issue. “There is no reason for ruling out
apartheid on the grounds that the vast majority of the population opposes
it,” he writes. “The Bantu as a whole do not demand
“integration, a single society. This is the ideal merely of a small

Even Dr.
Eiselen, however, has not got the audacity to claim that the African people
actually favour apartheid or partition.

Let us
state clearly the facts of the matter, with the greatest possible clarity and


Bloemfontein in 1956, under the auspices of the United African clergy, perhaps
the most widely-attended and representative gathering of African
representatives, of every shade of political opinion ever held, unanimously and
uncompromisingly rejected the Tomlinson Report, on which the Verwoerd plan is
based, and voted In favour of a single society.

Even in
the rural area&, where dwell the “good” (i.e., simple and
ignorant) “Bantu” of the Imagination of Dr. Verwoerd and Dr. Eiselen,
attempts to impose apartheid have met, time after time, with furious, often
violent resistance. Chief after Chief has been deposed or deported for
resisting “Bantu Authorities” plans. Those who, out of
shortsightedness, cowardice or corruption, have accepted these plans have
earned nothing but the cow tempt of their own people.

Serious Misstatements

It is a
pity that, On such a serious subject, and at such a crucial period, serious
misstatements should have been made by some people who purport to speak on
behalf of the Africans. For example, Mrs. Margaret Ballinger, the Liberal Party
M.P. is reported as saying in the Assembly “no confidence” debate on
March 2:

Africans have given their answer to this apartheid proposition, but of course,
no one ever listens to them. They have said: ‘It you want separation then let
us have it. Give us half of South Africa. Give us the Astern half of South
Africa. Give us some of the developed resources because we have helped to
develop them.” (S.A. Outlook, March 1959).

It is most
regrettable that Mrs. Ballinger should have made such a silly and irresponsible
statement, right towards, one fears, the end of a distinguished Parliamentary
career. For, in this instance she has put herself in the company of those who
do not listen to the Africans. No Africans of any standing have ever made the
proposals put forward by her.

leading organisation of the African people is the African National Congress.
Congress has repeatedly denounced apartheid. It has repeatedly endorsed the
Freedom Charter, which claims South Africa “for all its people.” It
is true that, occasionally individual Africans become so depressed and
desperate at Nationalist misrule that they tend to clutch at any straw, that
they tend to say: give us any little corner where we may be free to run our own
affairs; but Congress has always firmly rejected such momentary tendencies and
refused to barter our birthright, which is South Africa, for such illusory

Correcting “The World’

In The
World of April 4, 1959, Mr. Duma Nokwe, Secretary-General of the African
National Congress, was made to appear to support the division of the country
into African and European areas provided there is consultation. Under the
heading “What leading Africans think of the Bantustan Proposal” he Is
reported to have said: “The Congress view Is that if the Government
desires a division of the country, It should be done in consultation with the
African People.”

Mr. Nokwe
has denied making this statement. According to him he was asked by a reporter
of this paper for his comments on suggestions made by Professor du Plessis that
a federation of Bantustans be established. Mr. Nokwe totally rejected the plan
put forward by Professor du Plessis as unacceptable.

informed the reporter that the correct approach would be the extension of
franchise rights to Africans. Thereafter a National Convention of all the
people of South Africa could be summoned and numerous suggestions of the
democratic changes, that should be brought about, including the suggestions of
Professor du Plessis, could form the subject matter of the Convention. The
reporter was then referred to a statement released by the Congress setting out
its attitude In full on these proposals.

Let The People Speak!

indeed, Mr. Nokwe has put his finger on the spot. There is no need for Dr.
Eiselen, Mrs. Ballinger or The World to argue about “what the Africans
think” about the future of this country. Let the people speak for
themselves! Let us have a free vote and a free election of delegates to a national
convention, Irrespective of colour or nationality. Let the Nationalists submit
their plan, and the Congress its Charter. If Verwoerd and Elselen think the
Africans support their scheme they need not fear such a procedure. if they are
not prepared to submit to public opinion then let them stop parading and
pretending to the outside world that they are democrats, and talking revolting
nonsense about “Bantu self-government.”

Verwoerd may deceive the simple-minded Nationalist voters with his talk of
Bantustans, but he will not deceive anyone else, neither the African people,
nor the great world beyond the borders of this country. We have heard such talk
before, and we know what it really means.

everything else that has come from the Nationalist Government It spells nothing
but fresh hardships and sufferings to the masses of the people.

Sinister Design

Behind the
fine talk of ,self-government” is a sinister design.

abolition of African representation in Parliament and the Cape Provincial
Council shows that the real purpose of the scheme is not to concede autonomy to
Africans but to deprive them of all say in the government of the country in
exchange for a system of local Government controlled by a Minister who Is not
responsible to them but to a Parliament In which they have no voice. This Is
not autonomy but autocracy.

between the Minister and the Bantu Authorities will be maintained by five
Commissioners-General. These officials will act as the watchdogs of the
Minister to ensure that the “Authorities” strictly toe the line.
Their duty will be to ensure that these authorities should not become ‘he voice
of the African people but that of the Nationalist Government.

In terms
of the White Paper steps will be taken to “link’ Africans working in urban
areas with the territorial authorities established under the Bantu Authorities
Act conferring powers on these Authorities to nominate persons as their
representatives in urban areas. This means in effect that efforts will be made
to place Africans In the cities under the control of their tribal chiefs – a
retrograde step.

Nowhere in
the Bill or In the various Proclamations dealing with the creation of Bantu
Authorities is there provision for democratic elections by Africans falling
within the jurisdiction of the Authorities.

In the
light of these facts it Is sheer nonsense to talk of South Africa as being
about to take a “supremely positive step towards placing Africans on the
road to self-government- or of having given them more powers to rule
themselves. As Dr. Eiselen clearly pointed out In his article In
“Optima”, the establishment of the Bantustans will not in any way
affect white supremacy since even in such areas whites will stay supreme. The
Bantustans are not Intended to voice aspirations of the African people; they
are instruments for their subjection. Under the pretext of giving them
self-government the African people are being split up into tribal units in
order to retard their growth and development into full nationhood.

The Chief Target

The new
Bantu Bill and the new policy behind it will bear heavily on the peasants in
the reserves. But it Is not they who are the chief target of Verwoerd’s new

His new
measures are aimed, in the first place, at the millions of Africans in the
great cities of this country. the factory workers and intellectuals who have
raised the banner of freedom and democracy and human dignity, who have spoken
forth boldly the message that is shaking Imperialism to its foundations
throughout this great Continent of Africa.

Nationalists hate and fear that banner and that message. They will try to
destroy them, by striking with all their might at the standard bearers and
vanguard of the people, the working class.

Behind the
“self-government” talk lies a grim programme of mass evictions,
political persecution and police terror. It is the last desperate gamble of a
hated and doomed fascist autocracy – which, fortunately, Is soon due to make
its exit from the stage of history.


1. According to the 1951 census, trust land locations and
reserves accounted for only two and a half million out of a total African
population of, at that time, eight and a half million. A further two and a half
million, nearly, were on European-owned farms. The rest were mainly in urban
areas, with the Witwatersrand alone accounting for over a million Africans. (Official
Year Book 1956-57, p.718).

2. They are: North and South Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xosa
and Zulu.

3. “Bantu Authorities and Tribal Administration.” Issued by
the N.A.D. Information Service, Pretoria, 1958.