Synopsis: In this feature Scott analyzes the South African election of 1953 where under the Nationalist Party's apartheid regime 10,000,000 of the country's black South Africans and minority groups such as Indian and "coloured" people were denied a vote.
Scott Sees Malan Win
This is another of Jack Scott's series of articles on life in Africa.
'Blacks Sure to Lose' In South Africa Poll
PRETORIA, South Africa. –A million and a half South Africans, less than one-tenth of the adult population of the Union, will go to the polls next Wednesday morning and while the issue is simple, only one fact is certain at this moment.
The blacks will lose, either way.
Here in Pretoria, the betting city in a betting nation, the bookmakers are confidently laying two to one that the country will return 78-year-old Prime Minister Daniel F. Malan and his Nationalist Party by a simple majority.
That simply means a continuation fo the ruthless savagery of a race policy that has reduced 10,000,000 "non-Europeans" to a hounded, rule-by-terror slavery.
The alternative, a victory by the United Party, let by J.G. N. Strauss, the 52-year-old protege of wartime Prime Minister Smuss, would be at best a hollow victory.
Strauss and his party barely pay lip service to the cause of freedom for the "non-European" –the 8,000,000 Africans, one million "coloured" and 300,000 East Indians who live in this sun-drenched green country under a degrading third-class citizenship.
Step Toward Violence
The deeply disturbing fact about this election–and the fact to be remembered in Canada–is that it can only mean another step toward the violence that comes inevitably wherever a great mass of people is kept in bondage by a few.
It will be a moderate step if Strauss wins, another enormous stride if Malan wins.
Like most of the outside correspondents from the United States and England who are here for the election I fancied Strauss challenging the home-brew Hitlerism of Malan. It took just one campaign speech to cure that naïveté.
Here in South Africa's administrative capital I listened to one of Strauss' key men, Dr. Louis Steenkamp.
"We whites manage a modern Western economy," he said, "and the non-Europeans are not able or asking to take it over. They know that the white man's ability and skill entitle him to the role of manager, artisan and ruler."
What is the United Party's solution for the fearful distortion of balance between the rulers and the ruled? Prizes for white babies, among other things.
"We will provide free vocational training for white youths to prepare them for leadership," said Dr. Steenkamp. "We will provide generous grants for the birth of all European children and encourage immigration of selected people. Within two generations we will have increased the white population by 7,000,000."
There are many diversionary issues–better housing, a higher price for gold in the world market, the suppression of an already-outlawed Communist Party.
But the one important issue–the choice was Dr. Malan's and it forced Strauss to fight on Malan's home grounds–is the Nationalist government's policy known as "apartheid" (pronounced "apart-hate").
Segregation in Squalor
"Apartheid" in a speech by Dr. Malan may sound like the parallel and orderly development of the European and non-European, each in his separate sphere.
In ugly reality it means the non-European segregated in unbelievable squalor, kept indoors by a curfew on penalty of lashes, denied the right to organize for a living wage, regulated like animals.
"The government will stand or fall on apartheid," Dr. Malan said last week. He asks the "volkswil" (the will of the people) in carrying it through to the bitter end.
He may well get it, too.
This week in Johannesburg, I talked to an organizer of Malan's Nationalist Party who had just returned, flushed with triumph, from a tour of the rural areas of the Transvaal. Out there on the platteland "apartheid" is no new story. The African-speaking farmers, mostly of Boer stock, rely on "cheap nigger labour" to carry on. They are solidly, stolidly Malan.
"Twenty years ago you could sway them out there and bring them to tears with stories of British imperialism," the organizer said, "Now they are interested in only one thing–color is the question. That is why we will win. We have a positive policy, the United Party has not."
In the cities, predominately English-speaking, the vote will be heavily United Party and, some experts say, perhaps enough to swing the tide.
Those who are of British heritage hate and fear Malan. While there are few who believe in equality for the native they know that "apartheid" is bringing ever nearer the day of the inevitable showdown.
Colour Issue Aids Malan in Election
'Worst Thing to Do'
Here is a Pretoria taxi driver speaking, the kind of thing you hear everywhere:
"The worst thing we can do is to encourage the blacks to join together. Malan's a bloody fool. As it is now the native hates the East Indian, the coloured people (i.e. of mixed blood) hates them all and as for the tribes themselves, why, they're at each other's bloody throats all the time. They're just children, y'see. But if Malan goes too far it might force them to organize. And then where'd we be?"
The English-speaking South African, still proud of his ties with the homeland, is also gloomily convinced that should Malan be re-elected he will make South Africa a republic within six months. Malan is something less than an internationalist. He recently spoke of the "slanderers and meddlers" in Russia, India and the United Nations, which is touching all bases. But most of all he hates the British.
Finally, there is more than passing evidence that with the "volkswil" in his Dutch pocket and five more years of power over the eleventh Union Parliament, the determined old man will take over the control of the courts.
In South Africa the courts are like a cool oasis in the desert, a straight path through the jungle. They speak still with integrity and impartiality and in the realm of law beyond prejudice. That is intolerable to the Nationalists. Their aim is to establish the sovereignty of a parliament that knows the taste of hate over that of pure justice.
Which, of course, is why this election is now taking place. The Malan government's attempt to remove the non-African "coloured" voters in Cape Province from the common electoral register failed. The act was rejected by the courts.
Native Wins in Court
When Malan countered with an act converting members of Parliament into a high court, superior to the Appeal Court on constitutional questions, that too, was heaved out. Malan decided then to go to the people.
To those who hate Malan, and hate him vocally, it was poetic justice that the Nationalist Party should be stung from the rear in the midst of their campaign by yet another reversal of the courts. Here is the story:
Some months ago a native by the name of George Lusu entered the "European" waiting room of the railway station in Cape Town, ignoring those all-too-familiar signs which divide the "blanket" from the "nie blanket."
This kind of passive defiance is frequent and invariably leads to a lurid government announcement (as was made in this case by Minister of Justice Swart) that the defiance groups are so thoroughly organized that "they could kill off the entire European population in one minute."
Lusu was told to move along by a constable. He refused. Later when a magistrate released him (on the beautifully logical grounds that the waiting rooms for the non-Europeans were inferior to those for the Europeans) Malan's attorney-general went to the Court of Appeal. The Cape Town magistrate was upheld. Lusu became something of a hero to his countrymen.
Malan reacted characteristically. If he were re-elected, he said, he would "not accept' this tampering with the "traditional apartheid in our railway stations."
"If the Nationalist Party wins the election," he warned with a baleful eye on the courts, "we shall rectify the matter without delay and in a way that will leave no court in doubt about the wish and intention of Parliament and the people."
No Mood for Alarm
The outsider would naturally think that Strauss and his United Party could take advantage of Malan's extreme racism and incipient fascism. It is cold political turkey that they cannot.
The swiftest way to kiss a vote goodbye in South Africa is to appear in the chill phrase of one Malan follower, "a nigger-lover."
There are many men in the United Party–and more in the tiny Labor Party which his running a slim six of the campaign's 296 candidates–who are honestly in favour of equality for the non-European. They keep this to themselves nowadays.
Earlier this week a Nationalist Party propaganda leaflet showed a picture of a coloured man and a white man striding happily arm-in-arm and labelled "The Labor Party." Many of the liberals in that group must have felt deeply the urge to shout out that this was, in fact, the case and that brotherhood was their aim. Instead, the party weakly called the tract "fantastic."
Again, the heavily-publicized and perhaps over-publicized veterans' group known as the Torch Commandos are quietly helping the United Party in its organization, but their fabled war hero leader, "sailor" Malan (a distant kin of the Prime Minister) has gone into the shadows.
Strauss, himself, while hysterically hailed by the English press for his campaign, is obviously behind the eight-ball because of Dr. Malan's political cunning in establishing color as the burning issue.
He speaks occasionally of a "national convention," which would include chiefs of the "more moderate" tribes, to discuss an improvement in relations, but his only consistent slogan has been "Vote for the Right to Vote Again."
And South Africans, enjoying the lovely sunshine of their early autumn weather, are in no mood for alarm, however real it may be.
Through a Window
Although Dr. Malan has cancelled all police leave until after the election, the cops have yet had to break up any of the political meetings, although several have been in the rowdy South African tradition, notably the meetings of the United Party.
In Cape Town the United Party's lone woman candidate, Miss Jackie De Villiers, escaped inelegantly through a window of the hall when under a barrage of tomatoes and ripe eggs thrown, so the story goes, by "Nationalist Party hooligans." Here in Pretoria another United Party aspirant, Etienne Malan (no relation to Dr. Malan) was hospitalized for stitches in his scalp when winged by a rock the size of a fist.
Otherwise, in the disappointed words of one reporter, the campaigns have been "very un-South African."
The general feeling now seems to be that South Africa would like to get the whole thing over. Business has fallen sharply off (one investment house claims that several big deals involving overseas capital are being held up pending the result) and out in the farm country at a place with the unlikely name OOgies, a Mr. Oom Botha is waiting impatiently to shave.
Mr. Botha, aged 73, a lifelong follower of General Smutz, resolved to let his beard grow in 1948 when the Nationalists came to power and to cut it off only when "that gang" had been evacuated.