House of Assembly: Vol106 - WEDNESDAY 1 FEBRUARY 1961
Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at 2.20 p.m.
First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion for second reading,—Constitution Bill, to be resumed.
[Debate on motion by the Prime Minister, upon which amendments had been moved by Sir de Villiers Graaff and by Dr. Steytler, adjourned on 31 January, resumed.]
Mr. Speaker, after the comprehensive speech of the hon. the Prime Minister, we all sat back in great expectation to listen to the reply of the Leader of the Opposition. But I wonder, in all the time I have had the privilege of being a member of this House, whether this House has ever been so disappointed as it was with his speech. He did not take the trouble directly to reply to what was said by the hon. the Prime Minister. After a few generalities, and afer having moved his amendment, he continued with a speech which obviously had been prepared beforehand, and he stuck to it consistently without making any use of the Prime Minister’s speech for purposes of debate, as is the usual practice. The most important point in his speech, in my opinion, was his statement that he did not accept the result of the referendum. Sir, the referendum was held with the expressed object of obtaining the opinion of the people on these very matters referred to by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition. But even after the people gave their decision he still maintains that he does not accept that decision. If he refuses to accept the decision of the people, there must be some higher authority whose decision he will in fact accept, but he did not tell us what that authority is which he regards as higher than the people themselves.
He also went further and discussed at length the attitude which the other countries of the Commonwealth will presumably adopt in London. I think it is shameful for him, but also for South Africa, that a country like Pakistan is prepared to say beforehand that it is prepared to support South Africa’s standpoint, but the Leader of the South African Opposition is not prepared to do so. I know he is always telling us that the English language newspapers in South Africa are not his, nor do I intend to suggest that they are party organs, but they are in fact the newspapers which support him and which are accepted here as permanent supporters of that party on all the main points of difference between us. But on this point they are deserting him one after another. He stands alone, he and his party, of no importance in this country and not respected overseas, but he continues with that un-South African standpoint.
We also had the hon. member for Green Point (Maj. van der Byl). Well, it is a long time since we saw such a Rip van Winkel in this House. He made a speech which should have been made long before the referendum, and which he probably also made then, the same speech which, to my knowledge, was made in this House as long as almost 13 years ago. At that time it became known as the “lie and rot” story. One of the members said at that time: What will become of us; what will happen to our products; to whom can we sell them if Britain does not buy them? That was a long time ago but Rip van Winkel now comes to this House, in this year of grace, and makes the same type of speech. What he has lost sight of is that there are countries outside the Commonwealth—Ireland and Burma—who also enjoy the same preferences which the countries inside the Commonwealth enjoy. But he tells us and the British public that we ought not to enjoy the preferences which those countries outside the British Commonwealth enjoy.
Mr. Speaker, then we had the hon. member for Sunnyside (Mr. Horak). That hon. member made an admission here which I found very surprising. This is not an absolutely correct summary of what he said, but he said straight out that the youth of South Africa were Nationalists. He said that straight out without any qualifications. I thank him for that and the youth of the country also thank him. That is a sign of the soundness of our youth. I repeat that I do not agree with him completely on that. Certain election results strengthen my view—that of Queenstown for example—not to a very great extent, but nevertheless in principle. Then he went further and he described those voters, who were responsible for the crushing defeat which the Opposition suffered, as “immature voters ”. We gave the vote to the eighteen-year-olds at that time here in Parliament. We had a full discussion on the age at which a person had the necessary mental ability to become a voter. We agreed then— I mention this merely in passing—that various countries differ completely on what that age ought to be. Yet he still calls them “immature voters ”. He, himself, admitted that it may perhaps, somewhere in the future, be fitting to give the vote to those voters, those “irresponsible, immature people ”, but then, of course, the question immediately arises: If an eighteen-year-old is incapable in 1951 of exercising the vote, by what process does he become capable in, say 1961, to do so? I will not take that any further.
Now I want to deal with the hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell), that peculiar mixture of patriotism and localism, two qualities which are continually at war with one another and in continual confused conflict in him. They are still at war within him. He retains for himself the right of veto for Natal. He also said that the Prime Minister had no right to speak on behalf of the Afrikaners. I have seldom heard such a statement in this House and I want to ask the hon. member for South Coast this: If the Prime Minister does not have the right to speak on behalf of the Afrikaners who has the right to do so? He immediately assumed that right unto himself. He said that as many Afrikaners voted for him as for us. I do not say that Afrikaners did not vote for him. There are Afrikaners in his party; there are Afrikaners in every party in this House. But if he assumes that right unto himself, I am equally entitled, with equal justification and to the same degree, to say that English-speaking people voted for the republic. He cannot deny that; that is so. We know that happened in every constituency. We are proud of it and those English-speaking people are proud of it.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member accepts this democratic system, this system of holding a referendum, of total enfranchisement. He says it is a good system, but a good system for Britain. He has no quarrel with that. The same system which has already operated in Britain for so many years is too good for South Africa, according to him. It should not operate in Africa. Africa is still too young for it; not sufficiently mature; not quite up to it. He accused the Government of following a policy of fragmentation in Natal, as he called it, a policy of breaking and splitting Natal. He must be very careful. There are portions of Natal which have not always been part of Natal. He made no objection when those portions were added to Natal. I am referring to Vryheid and Utrecht, and he is fully aware of that. There are other portions as well. But the peculiar thing is that when he, as Leader in Natal, does not get his way, he is quite prepared to upset the whole structure of Union, and then he still has the temerity to call himself a good South African citizen.
There are others as well.
Yes, there are, but I am only dealing with him at the moment. He was the person who came with the “Natal stand “come what may, we in Natal are going our own way ”, he shouted to everyone who was prepared to listen and everyone who was not prepared to listen; his attitude has not changed. He preaches resistance and “apartheid” for Natal. It is remarkable to see that he does accept a certain form of apartheid. I do not think he gave those thoughts of his serious consideration otherwise he would not have spoken like that. On the other hand I have a strong suspicion that he did consider them seriously because in this respect he does not address himself so much to us; he does not address himself to the Union of South Africa, but he addresses himself specifically to Natal. He has raised spirits in Natal which he can no longer exercise and now he has to do everything in his power to put out the veld fires which he has started. I may be wrong, but I think that this whole act of his is merely an attempt to re-establish himself in Natal. This agitation on his part reminds me of the man who acquired a big balloon. He blew it up and it grew bigger and bigger. He and those around him viewed it with admiration. He then released it and it went up into the air. It went higher and higher until it could go no higher and ultimately they lost sight of it. I do not take him and this whole “Natal stand” too seriously. Ultimately we shall lose sight of them completely. It will not be the first time in our history that that has happened and the result will be precisely what it was previously in those other cases.
The hon. member for Queenstown (Dr. Steytler) is not here at the moment, but there are enough of his followers. He pleads for a federal system straight out. He goes much further than the United Party, but in principle they are alike. He wants to divide the Union into its former provinces as they were at that time. He forgets, however, that that question has already been raised. That was very pertinently put in 1910 and all the provinces of South Africa accepted Union. Union was established in spite of all the attacks that were launched against it. The result of the referendum is further confirmation, if any were needed, and the attitude of the Progressive Party proves that republicanism is no longer a barrier between Afrikaans-speaking and English-speaking people in South Africa, and I trust the hon. member for South Coast took due note of that. The Progressive Party is nothing but a radical party, although they call themselves by another name. There are English-speaking South Africans in the Progressive Party who, through their leader, now tell the country that they too are republicans, that they accept the result of the referendum and that they will abide by it. That is a great step forward as far as that is concerned. As in the past we again have the position to-day that republicans and anti-republicans in South Africa are no longer divided along the old traditional lines. We have had that before. During the time of the old Transvaal and Orange Free State republics we had people of different races who were staunch republicans and who remained republicans to the very end. The Transvaal had its Dutchmen and the Orange Free State its Englishmen and especially its Scotsmen. I mention this merely as an historical fact because I want to emphasize that there is no reason why any South African, irrespective of his descent, should not be a good republican, as some of them were in the past. The hon. member for Queenstown is in favour of a republic, but from his attitude it is clear to South Africa that the republic he wants is not a White republic, but a Black republic. He can try to camouflage that as much as he wants. The road he is following and the policy of his party as far as the vote is concerned, must lead to it, more especially in this century of universal education, that the people who are registered in the republic as voters will inevitably in the long run form an overwhelming non-White majority. The hon. member is a republican but he is not a republican in the sense that he wants to have a White republic. He merely wants a republic; he is not concerned about its colour; he is not concerned about the future of South Africa as far as that is concerned, he goes his own way. But he is not going his own way alone. He is a Don Quixote.
And Harry is Sancho Panza.
Yes, he has a Sancho Panza, but it is not the hon. member for Salt River (Mr. Lawrence) who sits next to him, it is the hon. member for Zululand (Mr. R. A. F. Swart). Wherever the hon. member for Queenstown went, the hon. member for Zululand followed him and even went further. He pleaded directly and straight out for an inflexible constitution. Also in that party, Sir, you find that most of the members descend from countries which have open, flexible constitutions. Why do they suddenly ask for an inflexible constitution? There can only be one reason. They do not trust their fellow-citizens, they want it to be firm. That, Sir, is perhaps due, to judge from the attitude of the hon. member for Zululand, to a guilty conscience. The hon. member knows that at that time it was necessary, in Section 137, a section which is being retained, to entrench the Afrikaans language, or the Dutch language as it was at that time, in a simplified form. Now, the whole position has changed. Now the English-speaking South Africans come and ask for an entrenchment—which they are getting—to safeguard their English language. I fully agree with that. I want to safeguard their language but they cannot blame me if I thank them for the compliment which they pay me by showing so clearly that they are afraid that the insignificant Afrikaans language, which until recently was still the subject of ridicule, has become so strong to-day that they find it necessary to entrench their own language rights.
Hon. members opposite want to break down the entire structure of Union. They want to re-divide it into its former sections, those sections it consisted of before we acquired the statesmanship and wisdom in 1910 in this country to put an end to that division.
Apart from what has already been said here, I want to say a few words in general. The attempt which is being made, and to which I have already referred, to strengthen provincial authority in the Union of South Africa flows from a lack of self-confidence and I appeal to hon. members opposite to get rid of that feeling of inferiority and to come along with us on a basis of union in order to develop this country of ours, this state of ours, as far as it is humanly possible to do so. Because this joint effort of theirs, this effort on the part of the United Party and the Progressive Party to prevent this development is a futile effort. South Africa is moving in that direction and those who do not come along will simply be trampled under foot. Let that be a warning to them. Nothing can stop it. We can go back into history as far as we wish, as far as the days of George Grey. We know what he tried to do in those days. Then we had the “closer union” movement. And there we have an interesting incident, Sir. While he was travelling in the Eastern Province and pleading for “closer union” an English-speaking South African said something which, to me, was the first real South African word which came from an English-speaking person. I am referring to the incident in Grahamstown when Merriman said to Froude, to his face, “That is interference, interference from abroad ”, when the latter pleaded for closer co-operation between the various sections in South Africa. The keyword is “abroad ”. That was the first occasion on which an English-speaking South African had referred to England as “abroad ”. That was not said by an Afrikaans-speaking person; it was said by John X. Merriman. Just before this later “closer-union” movement we had Milner’s kindergarten. We know how they struggled to attain this union which must now be broken down, according to certain sections of the Opposition. Then we had the war and after the Second War of Independence something happened which had never happened before. Within eight years a very strong movement came into existence to unite the former enemies into one state, into a union, and that movement was successful. The Progressive Party want to undo that and they are supported to a certain extent by the United Party. Everything that was achieved must be broken down; we have to put our entire development into reverse gear and move backwards. Mr. Speaker, that will not happen. This nation, with all its sub-divisions, is more united than any political party in South Africa is inclined to admit. Our present provincial councils are the historical remains of an earlier system. They have no power, no initial power; the only power they have is the power vested in them by a higher authority. Union legislation overrides provincial legislation. That is a recognized principle. Nothing new in that respect is being introduced into this constitution. It is one of the old sections which has been taken over from the 1910 Act. It is very simple, very clear, there is no possibility of misunderstanding. I am referring to the present Clause 87, which reads as follows—
It cannot be expressed in clearer language, but in spite of that very clearly worded clause, it is repeated in various other clauses so that there can be no doubt as to the supremacy of the Union Parliament.
Entrenchments are foreign to the constitution of a Unitarian state. Entrenchments were born from Federalism in order to guarantee the federal rights of its component parts. We have made exceptions—there is one very big exception which I have already mentioned — and indications elsewhere, but in spirit we are Unitarian. There is no doubt about that. No one has ever doubted that and any attempt to destroy that fundamental principle in the Union of South Africa will be futile. Mr. Speaker, this entrenchment in regard to language rights is merely symbolic. I personally do not believe that it is of any practical value to-day, because the English-speaking section of South Africa realize fully that Afrikaans is essential to them and the Afrikaans-speaking section realize fully that English is essential for them in this country of ours. However, I am pleased that it is being retained. It has its symbolic value. I wonder, however, whether the time has not arrived—and this applies to you personally, Mr. Speaker, and to this House —that members should be allowed to change from one official language to the other. That may give rise to technical difficulties, especially as far as Hansard is concerned, etc., but those difficulties are not insurmountable and I think that that will greatly encourage bilingualism. You may be surprised that this hint—I will not say “request ”—comes from me, because you know that I am not a great protagonist of bilingualism, for the simple reason that I do not believe it is possible for anyone to be 100 per cent bilingual. Bilingualism often results in that person not knowing either language properly, and it often happens that the more languages a person knows the more defective is his knowledge of any of them. It is nevertheless useful; it is very useful to up in this country with the composition which we have here and which we simply have to accept. A State is not stationary, Sir; it progresses. We find that in all states. But what I hope and wish for, Sir, is that the position of Union which has obtained in the past, will continue in the future and I am convinced that it will in spite of what the hon. member for South Coast says. I do not attach any importance to his threats whatsoever. We have evolution in South Africa without revolution, and he knows it. “We have learned how to grow up without blowing up ”, in spite of what Natal says by way of the hon. member for South Coast. We are growing up, Sir, and the time has arrived for Natal to grow up as well. It will not benefit us to stand in a corner like a child and to sulk and to say: “I won't play any more” and to kick the marbles about because we cannot have our way. Natal is part of the Union and it will remain part of the Union, in spite of certain voices which are raised in Natal. We are part and parcel of the British system of government. You know, Sir, there was a time when we did not want to be, and it was a very great concession on our part which I am afraid is still not sufficiently appreciated, to sacrifice our principle of government and to adopt that of our English fellow-citizens. To-day we feel at home in. it, but it was not easy for us at that time, and it did not come about without sacrifices and opposition. We are doing it for the sake of unity and for the sake of the future of our whole nation. What thanks do we get for it? We get the kind of speech which we had yesterday from the hon. member for Natal (South Coast). Let him study his conscience and think seriously about whether he is giving the correct lead, and if he is not I can tell him that the youth of South Africa is on the march. They are not concerned about the petty differences which existed in the past. They are on the march and if anyone is unwilling to contribute to that unity voluntarily, they will simply go on marching and trample upon those who oppose it.
I desire to move the following further amendment—
- (a) excluded the registered Coloured voters from participating in the referendum for a republic;
- (b) has failed to consult the majority of the South African population about the proposed fundamental changes in the Constitution, with a view to obtaining national unity;
- (c) has failed to entrench in the legislation the franchise rights enjoyed by the Coloured voters of the Cape as originally provided for in the Act of Union; and
- (d) is unable to guarantee that the proposed republic will remain within the Commonwealth which is the earnest desire of the vast majority of the population of this country.”
My colleagues and I have given this Bill our careful consideration and we have come to the considered conclusion that the Government has left us with no alternative but to vote against this Bill. The amendment which I have just moved sets out the basic reasons which have motivated this decision. In the course of my address this afternoon, I hope to be able to expand on those reasons. I want to say that I am sure that the hon. the Prime Minister himself, in all conscience, could not reasonably have expected us to adopt any other course and could not reasonably have expected us to vote for the measure presently before the House.
Mr. Speaker, the preamble to this Bill refers to the fact that it is appropriate to give effect to the wishes of the majority of the voters who voted in the referendum held in this country on 5 October 1960. The blatant fact remains, Sir, that a section of the electorate, of the lawful electorate of this country, a section of the registered voters on the legal voters' rolls of this country who my colleagues and I represent in this House, were specifically excluded from voting in that referendum or having any say whatsoever in the destiny of their own country. This section of our electorate were thus denied by the Government the opportunity of recording their votes in favour of or against the republican form of government which the hon. the Prime Minister and his colleagues now seek to foist upon this country. Mr. Speaker, in the circumstances therefore how can my colleagues and I conscientiously vote for a change in the Constitution when our constituents were deprived of the basic and legal right of having some say as to whether that change in the Constitution should come about or not? At the time when this House was giving consideration to the proposed referendum, we on these benches pleaded with the Government that the right should be granted to the registered Coloured voters to have their say in that referendum. We pleaded for everyone on the voters’ roll at the time, everyone who was entitled to have a vote in the affairs of this country, to have an opportunity to vote in that referendum. We pleaded that no section of the electorate should be excluded. We contended that there was no legal and certainly no moral justification for excluding these duly registered voters from participating in this referendum and having some say in the destiny of their own country. I said in the course of that debate that the registered Coloured voters were just as much entitled to have a say in the proposed reconstitution of their country as the hon. the Prime Minister himself. This, after all, is their country just as much as it is the hon. Prime Minister’s or mine. I say again what I have said on so many occassions in this House that these Coloured people have this as their only country, they have no other home. The Government, however, in its wisdom, if such it can be called, denied them that right. We were told by the numerous spokesmen on the other side at the time—unfortunately through circumstances beyond his control the hon. the Prime Minister was not here in person—that the republican issue was one which had to be determined by the White people of South Africa and that the Coloured voters would not be allowed to have any say in the matter. They drew all sorts of red herrings across the trail, giving various reasons as to why they should be excluded, but no reason was given which had any legal or moral justification whatsoever. There was no moral or legal justification for excluding the Coloured registered voters from participating in that referendum. In the circumstances therefore I ask the hon. the Prime Minister: How can it reasonably be expected of my colleagues and myself to vote in favour of this republican form of government about which our constituents were denied the right of having any say whatsoever. The Government by its own action has left us with no alternative in this most important matter. Whatever our individual views in regard to the proposed republic may be—and I want to say that many of the people we represent favour a form of republic, with certain safeguards—but whatever our individual views are, we feel that we should be failing in our duty to the people that we represent in this House if we were to vote for this Bill in its present form and at the present time.
This Bill introduces a basic and most important and racial change in the Constitution of the Union of South Africa, a change which may determine almost for all time the future of this country. This Bill which seeks to convert our country into a republic may have the most serious repercussions for South Africa, including the great possibility of our being excluded from remaining a member of the Commonwealth. How can we willingly agree to such a change, without the voters whom we represent having had some opportunity of expressing their views on this very important matter? Speaking as an individual and having listened to the hon. the Prime Minister very attentively and to the speech made yesterday by the hon. Minister of Finance, I want to say that I can appreciate most sincerely the sentimental attitude of many members of the Nationalist Party and others towards the ideal of attaining a republic for South Africa. I appreciate that this was a goal which has been reached after a long and bitter struggle. I personally have the greatest appreciation and respect for those men, many of them great men, many of them already passed away, who dedicated their lives towards attaining this goal which we now see within the grasp of Afrikanerdom. But what I cannot appreciate is the fact that a section of our registered voters was denied the opportunity of having their say in the proposed reconstruction of this country.
Then why not support the Bill?
I am trying to explain to the hon. member why I cannot support the Bill. Mr. Speaker, in the preamble to this Bill mention is made of the fact that “it is expedient to ensure the preservation of peace and good order and the promotion and protection of the interests of all its inhabitants ”. This is a laudable provision, Mr. Speaker, but to me it seems most incongruous to include a provision of this character in the preamble “the desire to promote the interests of all our inhabitants” when we know that as a result of the decision of this Government in this very matter eleven-fourteenths of the inhabitants of the Union were never consulted and never had the slightest say in the matter.
While therefore I can appreciate the sentimental attitude of a large section of our people towards the establishment of a republic, I cannot for a single moment forgive the tremendous blunder that was made by the Government in specifically excluding a section of our registered voters from participation in the referendum. On 29 June 1959, the hon. the Prime Minister speaking in this House on the subject of a republic for South Africa, said—
The hon. the Prime Minister in subsequent statements reiterated this very laudable sentiment. I want to ask him does he seriously think that he is likely to attain this mutual friendship between our various population groups in South Africa by having completely ignored eleven-fourteenths of our total population, which consists of the groups whose friendship he now seeks? I think the hon. the Prime Minister will appreciate, or if he does not now, will in time appreciate, that by slighting the entire non-White groups in South Africa, the hon. the Prime Minister is not going to receive what he set out to receive to attain—the mutual friendship of the various population groups.
I want, however, to confine myself particularly to the Coloured people we represent and who were denied the right of having any say in this referendum. Mr. Speaker, here was a case of the Government not just excluding and ignoring one of the population groups to which the hon. the Prime Minister referred in the statement I have just read, but excluding a section of the registered voters of South Africa from exercising their basic and legal rights. Does the hon. the Prime Minister seriously think that this action is likely to bring about the good relations in our proposed republic that he seeks? But the matter does not rest there. We know, and the world knows by this time, how the Government blundered in its decision to exclude this section of registered voters from participating in the referendum, but I want to ask the hon. the Prime Minister: Has he or any member of his Government done anything since the referendum to remedy that unfortunate situation? The hon. the Prime Minister has had a good deal to say in this House and outside the House about his earnest desire to attain national unity in South Africa. I listened attentively the day before yesterday to the hon. the Prime Minister’s dissertation on the national unity that he expects. The hon. the Prime Minister quite rightly excluded political unity in this country for valid reasons advanced by him. Basically it is that by reason of the policies of the Nationalist Party there cannot be any political unity. But I want to say en passant that in present world conditions it is a thousand pities that it is not possible to achieve political unity, it is a thousand pities that this country should be so divided on racial issues.
In what democratic country do you get that?
In every other democracy in the civilized world where political parties exist there are divisions, but those divisions take place not on racial lines but on economic lines. And it is a pity that South Africa cannot follow a similar course and that our whole country should be torn asunder by those racial issues. It is a pity that we do not follow the example of other countries, and if we have to have divisions, let them be on economic issues, because the division on racial issues has unfortunately brought this country to the unfortunate position which it as present holds in the world.
What about the Congo?
For heaven’s sake don’t let us compare our country with the Congo. I am trying to avoid this country becoming a second Congo. But I agree with the hon. the Prime Minister that as long as these divisions on racial lines exist, political unity cannot be achieved. But what about national unity? What about the national unity that the hon. the Prime Minister so eloquently pleaded for in this House, and which was pleaded for also yesterday by the hon. Minister of Finance, who likewise made a stirring appeal for national unity in this country? What about national unity? Surely in order to obtain national unity in South Africa, the hon. the Prime Minister could have taken steps since the referendum to meet the various groups in this country, to have said some words of encouragement to them, to hold out some hope to them as far as their future in this country is concerned, in order to eliminate the fears and frustration which exist in the minds of the non-European population groups. Has the hon. the Prime Minister or any of his colleagues in the Cabinet taken any such steps? No, Sir. In the interest of national unity surely it would have been a statesmanlike thing for the hon. Prime Minister to have done that, so as to put at rest the fears that exist in the minds of our various population groups. We know that the Government has secured a comparatively small majority of the White electorate in favour of a republic. In its desire to achieve national unity in this country, would it not have been good policy to consult those who were excluded from participating in the referendum about the proposed republic? There need not have been any loss of prestige as a result of any such action. The Government could have invited the leaders of all groups to a national convention where discussions could have taken place around a table, with the full knowledge of the fact that the majority of the White people in South Africa were in favour of a republic. The hon. the Prime Minister could have put at ease the qualms that exist in the minds of these various population groups in South Africa. In that way far greater national unity could have been obtained than by proceeding with this Bill, totally disregarding the wishes and desires of the non-White groups in this country. The hon. the Prime Minister has missed a glorious opportunity of attaining that national unity in regard to all sections of our population in South Africa. Great South Africans in the past, men like the late General Smuts and the late General Hertzog, deemed it necessary at different times to consult the non-White population in this country in the interest of obtaining national unity and in the interest of retaining racial peace. General Smuts and General Hertzog lost no prestige by doing that. In previous debates it has already been pointed out how before General Smuts went to UNO to stake our claim for the incorporation of South West Africa, he, a world figure, obtained the views of leaders of Native tribes in South West Africa so as to enable him to put their views before UNO. We know how in 1936 the late General Hertzog before introducing his legislation in this House dealing with the Native population of South Africa, consulted with a section of the Native copulation in this country and was able to tell this House the views that he had obtained from those people. But in this important reconstruction of our Constitution, in this radical change of the future of South Africa, our present Prime Minister has not considered it necessary to consult with the leaders of eleven-fourteenths of the population of this country. I want to ask the hon. the Prime Minister: Under present world circumstances are we right and justified, in the interests of our country, to ignore these racial groups, these groups which were denied the democratic right of having any say whatsoever in this referendum? South Africa to-day is indicted, rightly or wrongly—I do not want to enter into the merits or demerits of it —before the conscience of the world by reason of our racial policies. The Coloured people are one of the few human groups under present world conditions which we can draw to us as allies. We may not be able to do it with the Native population in this country. It may be too late. But the Coloured people form one of the few human groups whom we can draw to us as an ally. They have remained loyal to our government institutions, they have stood by the forces of law and order despite great pressure which we know was exercised upon them by other sections of the community. The Coloured people remained loyal to the force of law and order. The history of the Coloured people of South Africa has shown that they have at all times stood by the White man of this country. Here we are legislating for the South African Republic. What more glorious opportunity for the hon. the Prime Minister of showing a human approach to our Coloured people and drawing them closer to us as allies than by consulting them with regard to this republic and, as my amendment envisages, restoring to them in the form of some entrenchment the franchise rights which they enjoyed for over 100 years until they were taken away by the Government without any moral or legal justification. Does the hon. the Prime Minister really think that the manner in which our Coloured people have been entirely ignored in this matter is going to create better relations between the White and the Coloured people? The ignominious way in which the Coloured people have been treated in this matter, a matter which so vitally affects their country, will to my mind exacerbate feelings rather than improve relations between them and us.
I have dealt so far with two of the aspects of the amendment I have moved. But there are additional grounds on which I feel I cannot support the Bill at the present time. The Government have obtained a majority from the White people in this country in the referendum. This indicates that the majority of our White people —a comparatively small majority—favours a republican constitution. But that surely does not mean that the Government must press on with this republican legislation at the present time! Surely it cannot mean more than that a majority of the White people of South Africa have intimated to the Government that they are in favour of a republic. The decision as to when effect should be given to that recommendation is a decision which must rest with the Government. The responsibility for giving effect to that decision, the timing thereof, is a responsibility of the Government. I cannot understand how the Government can press this issue at this particular moment in the history of South Africa. South Africa at the moment, whether we like it or not, is under a cloud. Every action taken by this Government, right actions or wrong actions, is support. Our Government and our policies have been condemned, and we have to face it, throughout the whole of the civilized world. We know that we are short of investment capital in this country, we are losing immigrants faster than we are gaining them, we have been indicted over the South West Africa issue before the World International Court, we have made no contact whatsoever and are hardly on speaking terms with the majority of the states which have been created on the African Continent. In the face of all these difficulties, in this present anti-South African climate, the hon. the Prime Minister presses on with the republican issue. During the first reading of this Bill I said to my hon. friends on that side of the House— and to the hon. gentleman who has just interrupted me—that there is no necessity for the Government to proceed with the Bill at the present juncture. We know that it is the earnest desire of every one of the majority of the White population of this country, including the vast majority of the hon. members sitting on that side of the House, that South Africa should remain a member of the Commonwealth. The hon. the Prime Minister, and practically every one of the Government spokesmen have said so. I ask them, therefore, in all seriousness, how dare we take a chance at this critical time in our history on this all-important matter? Is it not sheer recklessnes on our part to go forward with the reconstitution of our country at the present moment, when really no one is pressing for it except a very small extremist element in the Nationalist Party? I said to the hon. the Prime Minister during the first reading, is it so essential that this new republic shall be established by 31 May this year? Who has asked for it except a very small extremist element in the Nationalist Party?
The majority of the people.
I say that as far as the vast majority of the people of South Africa are concerned there was no demand for it. They have expressed the desire that there should be a change in the Constitution. But the responsibility as to when that should take place is the responsibility of the Government. My point is that with all this anti-South African climate that exists to-day it is suicidal on the part of the Government to go ahead with this policy at this stage.
Mr. Speaker, whether the republic comes this year or next year or the year thereafter, it is our bounden duty to ensure, in the interests of South Africa, that we remain a member of the Commonwealth. This, to my mind, is the paramount issue involved in this matter. It is the wish of the vast majority of the people of South Africa that we should remain a member of the Commonwealth. Not only is it the wish of the vast majority of the people of this country—of the White, and certainly of the non-White people—but it is also the earnest wish and desire of those people who have invested their money in South Africa, and who are still willing to invest their money in South Africa. Let us examine for a very brief moment what some of these investors say in regard to our proposed republic. I am quoting views that have been expressed by leading bankers and investors in America. I am excluding England for the time being and dealing only with America. These are people who were asked their views about the republic in South Africa. One of the leading men says this—
I repeat, this is one of the big investors with tremendous investments in South Africa. He said “our confidence in the Union as a field for investment would be shattered if South Africa either left the Commonwealth of her own accord or was kicked out by the other members”.
Who said that?
I do not think it is in the interests of the country that his name should be disclosed, but the hon. member can see it here.
Another one said—
And yet another financier said this—
Their view is that South Africa’s political and economic ties with Britain and with the Commonwealth is one of the country’s greatest assets. Another banker says this—
I will leave that there. Yet another one says this—
Mr. Speaker, I say that it is the general view of the vast majority of the European population in this country, and the view of almost the entire non-European population of this country that if we have a republic, that republic should remain within the Commonwealth. In the face of that consensus of opinion, is there any urgency for this Bill? Are we justified taking a risk in the matter? I suggested at the first reading, and I repeat now, that the hon. the Prime Minister should go to the Prime Ministers’ Conference in London as he intends doing. He should go there personally and not through any emissary. There he should explore, as only he can explore, the prospects of our remaining in the Commonwealth. And in the light of the information which he obtains at that Conference we should then proceed to give consideration to the reconstitution of South Africa and of our South African structure. But for us to proceed with this Bill without safeguarding the future of South Africa is, I feel, possibly the most disastrous step which South Africa could take.
For all these reasons, therefore, I now move the amendment which I read out in the early part of my address.
Mr. Speaker, I second the amendment, but at the same time I wan to tell the House that it is not a pleasant task for me to do so. However, in the circumstances it is the only way in which the Coloured people can register their protest against the attitude of the Government, an attitude which deprived them of the right to take part in the referendum. During the discussions we had in this House at that time various reasons were advanced why the Coloured people should not take part in the referendum. I gathered that the most important reason was that the Coloured people would come in between and in the long run would become the arbitrator between the two White sections of the country—between the United Party and the Nationalist Party. It was maintained that the Coloureds would once again become a political football, with its accompanying evils. Theoretically there may be some ground for this argument, but in practice we know that the Coloureds are totally divided on this issue. There is no unanimity amongst them on this issue and they would not automatically have been in favour of it, neither would they unanimously have been against it. But what we should remember, however, is the fact that the Coloured people are the true South Africans. That is the race which had its origin in this country. They have no other home; they have nowhere to go. They had their origin in this country and I feel that that is one of the most important reasons why they should be considered when such an important constitutional question is decided upon. We so often hear hon. members say inside this House and outside, and it was also said during the course of the debate on the referendum, that the Coloured people are still too attached to Queen Victoria. Mr. Speaker, that is something of the past. The people who say that are talking about the past. That is no longer the position. Those people were still children then, but they have grown up since, they are mature.
We have expressed our regret that this has happened; but the future lies ahead and I am one of those unfortunate people who are always optimistic. I am sorry that the people I represent were not considered, but seeing that it has been accepted that we should have a republic in this country, I want to say unequivocally, Sir, that you will get the wholehearted co-operation from the Coloured population. They will co-operate in trying to make a success of the republic. Just as in the past they will in future always stand by us and emulate the White section of the community. They are not going to ruin themselves, they will not rise up in opposition, as hon. members have done in this House, those hon. members who say that they refuse to acknowledge the republic and that they will not want anything to do with it.
But while something new is in the offing and something new is awaiting them in the future, there are certain things which the Coloureds expect from the republic. The most important of these and which ought to flow from the new set-up, is greater goodwill, particularly on the part of the White section towards the Coloureds. When I talk about “greater goodwill ”, I exclude a great number of hon. members of this House, because they are well disposed towards the Coloured people. When I talk about a lack of goodwill, I cannot do otherwise but think of what a minister of religion said recently at Alberton. It is a great, great pity that such things should happen, particularly now. It does not do us any good. I am very sorry that a prominent person saw fit to say something like that, and I must register my protest. If we want the Coloured people to face the future with us cheerfully, which we hope they will do, I want to point out that there is something which is a source of great concern to them and that is the question of membership of the Commonwealth. Every one of us in this House is in favour of that, and so are the Coloured people. All of us want to remain within the Commonwealth and it is therefore unnecessary for me to continue that argument. I take it that with the assistance of the Government and with the assistance of the Opposition on the one hand, and the goodwill of the other members of the Commonwealth on the other hand, we shall remain within it. I personally have no doubt about that and if that happens the people who I represent will be very happy.
I now want to deal with matters which are of very great importance to the Coloured people, I know when I sit down the hon. the Deputy Minister of the Interior will rise and I should like him to assure me on these issues, so that we and the Coloured people may Know that we have his assurance. Possibly the Prime Minister will then also give attention to it. We should like to see these things materialize in the proposed republic. The first is something on which this House cannot decide, but we can exercise our influence. There should be compulsory education in our schools for Coloured children. That is something which is essential and it should be introduced. There should be better housing facilities for the Coloureds. I am sure we will get that. Another matter which causes Coloured people great concern is the question of job reservation. Will it not be possible in the new republic to abolish job reservation between White and Coloured? The Coloured man and the White man should be protected against the Native but we should abolish job reservation as far as the two other sections of the population are concerned. Mr. Speaker, we should like to see the Coloured community economically independent in the new republic and we have so often had the assurance—also from the hon. the Prime Minister—that the Government will go out of its way to bring that about. I hope it will not remain at words. That gets us nowhere; we cannot live on words. We should very much like to have something tangible, and I know that with the new spirit which will prevail in the new set-up, we are entitled to expect that. But we also expect it to happen in the very near future.
Then I come to something else which greatly affects our people, something which is directly dealt with in this Bill. It is a matter which I have repeatedly raised in this House, and it is the manner in which Coloured voters are registered. I am sorry to have to raise this …
Order! I think the hon. member should raise that on another occasion.
I hope I will have another opportunity to rub it in, Sir. What is true, however, and what I think I should mention here—it is directly concerned with the Bill before us at the moment—is the representation of the Coloured people in this House. In this connection I want to ask that the idea expressed by hon. members opposite, namely that Coloureds will never represent their own people in this House, be abandoned. Why should it be “never ”? Why not rather “in future, some day, but not to-day ”? They do not ask that to happen immediately …
I am still here! They do not want to be here immediately. When the Coloured is able to do the same for his people that I am doing in the same poor way, the time will be ripe for him to come. That, however, will not be soon. I should very much like that prospect to be held out to them. Do not say: “Yes, the Nationalist Party Congress may one day decide to do so.” Hold it out as a prospect. That is an ideal which they are striving for. I do not want to take up more time of the House. I merely wanted to express a few ideas as to why I say that although the Coloured people were bitterly disappointed because they were not allowed to take part in the referendum, they expect the few points which I have raised, to be attended to and rectified, and if they can have the assurance that that will be done for them under the republic, they will cheerfully accept that republic.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member who has just sat down has painted an amusing picture to us of a man who looks for excuses for not doing what his conscience tells him to do. Because the hon. member is a republican and he welcomes the Republic. But now he has to find reasons for voting against the very thing that he welcomes, for voting against his true principles. I just want to say that if he remains very much longer in the political company in which he now finds himself, he will find that he will often have to vote against his conscience and very often also against his better knowledge. But he did say one thing which can be a lesson to some hon. members in this House, and that is that the Coloured community in South Africa is going to accept the Republic and that they are goipg to co-operate to make a success of it. I hope the hon. member for South Coast, Mr. Mitchell, paid attention to that. I think that should serve as an example to him and, not to everybody in Natal but to a certain number of people in Natal. I shall come back later on again to the hon. member for South Coast.
The Leader of the Opposition says in his amendment that this legislation fails to guarantee the basic rights which will promote national unity in South Africa. And in the course of the referendum struggle he and his party’s supporters went round the country and warned the English-speaking people that their language would be in danger if we won the referendum and made South Africa a republic. That was one of the main arguments that they used to deter people from voting according to their conscience. What they set in motion was a campaign of intimidation, and in pursuance of that, he now wants the rights of the English language and, I assume—although they do not say so—also the rights of the Afrikaans language to be entrenched in our Constitution. Mr. Speaker, how are rights really entrenched? Are they entrenched in legal provisions, in an Act or in the Constitution? There never has been an Act or a Constitution of any country which it has not been possible to change. It is changed either by legislation or by evolution or by revolution. But there is one entrenchment for a language in South Africa, and this applies to both languages. It is by far the best entrenchment and the only safe entrenchment. That entrenchment is to be found in the will of the people to maintain their language. That is where the entrenchment lies. Speaking as an Afrikaans-speaking person I know that that is the truth. When I look at the history of my own language and compare it with the history of English in South Africa. I know that the will of the people to uphold their language is a much more potent force than any legislation. We have our Afrikaans language here. It is a modern language with a grammar and a vocabulary which, to a certain extent, has only taken shape and received recognition in the last half-century or rather in the last quarter of a century. But how has it been possible for that language to maintain itself here? Because it has been backed by the will of the people. My language is not a world language; it is a language which is spoken by scarcely two million people in the whole world. It is not an international language or a language with centuries of literature and culture behind it. It is true that we have a growing, young Afrikaans literature, but it is still young, and it is not comparable with the cultural and literary treasures of England, France and Germany, to mention only three. But we are going to maintain our language here because we love it, because it has been the instrument through which we have been able to give expression to our most profound thoughts, because it is our own and because it has formed part of our everyday life, of our whole existence. If we have been able to maintain it, Mr. Speaker, then it is going to be much easier to maintain English in South Africa in the future without any entrenchment if we have the will to do so. I am quite convinced that the will to maintain it will not be lacking. English is not spoken by a few million people, it is spoken by millions and millions of people. In the Western world there is not a single language which is spoken by more people than English. English is a language with a beautiful literature which dates back to the Middle Ages. It is the language of commerce in the world and it is also beginning to oust French as the diplomatic language. Mr. Speaker, let me just explain, in case my English-speaking friends do not understand this, that we Afrikaners appreciate the fact that through the medium of English we are able to become familiar with English literature and the culture behind it. To me it has been of very great value to drink at the fountains of English literature and in so doing to learn something also about other literatures of the world. If the English-speaking people in South Africa do not have the will to maintain English here, I want to give them this assurance that we Afrikaans-speaking people will see that English is maintained together with Afrikaans as our two official languages. That is why I say: do not let us talk here about legal entrenchments. In the long run legal entrenchments do not mean as much as the will of a nation to maintain itself. If the will is there, English will always be maintained in South Africa through the will of the English-speaking section and through the support they will get from the Afrikaans-speaking section.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday we listened here to what I can only describe as a shocking speech —that of the hon. member for South Coast. A good deal has been said about it but there are still a few things that I want to say in that connection. I just want to remind hon. members of a few of the things that the hon. member said. He said inter alia—
He went on to say—
I should like to know, because it is very important, whether that is the policy of the United Party. Yesterday evening at a meeting in Sea Point the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. S. J. M. Steyn), according to a newspaper report, indicated that that was so. He stated that what the member for South Coast had said was correct. But this is a new way of conducting politics and I think we are entitled to know from the Leader of the Opposition whether he agrees with the statement made by the hon. member for South Coast. Is that the way in which they are going to accept the republic? With bitter opposition for all time? I think he should tell us that. Apparently he does not even want to listen now to my remarks, and I think we are entitled and the electorate and this House are entitled to hear from him whether he agrees with this; whether he shares the views of the hon. member for South Coast who is apparently supported by the hon. member for Yeoville. He has the opportunity to say so now, but he sits there like a sphinx pretending that he does not hear what is going on. Perhaps he is one of those people who do not like to hear things which they find embarrassing. But he will have to reply to this, even if it is embarrassing, and he will have to give a definite reply, not a reply which consists of a lot of meaningless words but a reply which will leave the people of South Africa under no illusions as to his attitude towards the words of the hon. member for South Coast. The hon. member for South Coast said that he was speaking on behalf of Natal and that Natal had never been so united, apparently behind him, in the past 25 years, as it is to-day. Sir, he has no right to say that. He speaks on behalf of a handful of wild people who have been stirred up by his speeches, people whom he has scared and whom he himself has joined in running away and whose flight he is now unable to check. He does not even speak on behalf of the English-speaking people of Natal. According to this morning’s newspaper Mr. Leo Boyd has already said that he does not agree with that type of thing. The Progressives in Natal have already dissociated themselves from his words and his methods. He is always so fond of talking about democracy. Is that the speech of a democrat? He accuses the Government of being an autocratic and dictatorial Government. Are his words those of a democrat? There is one thing that he must understand and that is that the essence of democracy is not only to accept a thing when you are in the majority but to accept it also when you are in the minority.
As you did during the war.
His speech here is a refutation of what democracy actually means. What does he want? Natal is to make her own laws. He is going to grasp the first opportunity for them to make their own laws. How are they going to make their own laws? He hints that he is going to strive for Natal’s secession from the Republic of South Africa. I can attach no other meaning to his words.
He stated very clearly that Natal would remain in the Union.
No, I have his speech here and he spoke very clearly.
You were not listening.
He is going to seek the first opportunity to make his own laws and the only way in which he can do that is to secede from the Union. But if he secedes from the Union, what will happen then? The first thing that will happen is that he will have a visit from Mr. MacLeod and he will probably get Mr. Fenner Brockway as a new Natalian. The hon. member for Pinetown (Mr. Hopewell) made a very sensible speech shortly after the referendum on an occasion when the hon. member for South Coast should have spoken but was unable to do so, and he warned these wild supporters of the hon. member for South Coast about the consequences of their actions. He said: “If we carry on as you want us to do, we are going to become a Crown Colony and thereafter a Black state in Natal, and Natal will also be a republic then but she will be an Indian-Zulu republic and not a White republic. The people of Natal must fully realize that the safety of the White man in Natal depends on her remaining an integral part of the Union.” Must this sort of talk become part of our politics now, this sort of talk from a man who scared the people and who himself became frightened of them later on and who is now running away with them? Mr. Speaker, I am not going to say that the hon. member is non compos mentis—for two reasons. The first is that you would not allow me to say so, and the second reason is that I do not think he is still entirely compos mentis. [Laughter.] But what I do say is that he is non compos republica. It is said that the gods first make mad those whom they would destroy. All I can say is that it seems to me, as far as the hon. member for South Coast is concerned, that the gods are doing the preparatory work with a view to his destruction. [Laughter.]
Sir, we made an attempt by means of the referendum to obtain a greater measure of national unity in South Africa than we have had in the past. The hon. the Prime Minister has given a definition here of national unity as he sees it—and I think it is a very good definition—and that is a basic awareness of being one nation. We made an honest attempt to obtain a greater measure of national unity in South Africa than we have had in the past. That was our attitude throughout the referendum campaign. We did not have national unity in the past. There were good reasons for it. Some of those reasons were perhaps historical, but the Crown could never be that binding power that is necessary to give people the realization of being one nation. I do not want to go into the reasons for that, but history has shown that the Crown was no binding factor. Hon. members on the other side have stood up and tried to cast doubt upon our attempts to obtain unity, but they suggest that with a republic we will come no nearer to national unity than we were before we became a republic. I still believe that we can get unity in South Africa. I have worked for it in the past and I am going to work for it in the future, with hope and faith, in spite of what hon. members on the other side say. In order to have national unity in this country we must not have what we have at the present time, namely two languages and two peoples; what we must have is two languages and two cultures which make up one nation. Do not tell me that is impossible because history has shown that it is possible. It has happened in Switzerland where there are as many as four languages and four cultures. It has happened in Finland where there are two languages and two cultures which are very far removed from each other. If they were able to do so there is no reason why we should not succeed if we have the will to do so. But in that case we must have one common loyalty and we must not have symbols or anything else which cause us to deviate from that common loyalty. We had those symbols in the past. The symbols which should help to bring about unity must be symbols of one’s own country, and we hope to have those symbols in the republic. There must be an absolute acceptance of the language and cultural rights of both sections. We as Afrikaans-speaking people are willing to pledge our word that we fully recognize the language and cultural rights of the English-speaking section, and that if necessary we will help to protect their language and culture in South Africa, but in that case they should do the same thing in respect of our young language and our young culture. We should try to make our history our common heritage. The trouble here has been that we have had two histories. We have the history of the Afrikaans-speaking people who were the first to come here and who in many ways made the most dramatic history here, but we also have the important contribution that was made by the English, particularly after 1820. I am only afraid that they themselves do not make enough of their history. When I visited Fort Beaufort and Alice and those parts for the first time, I realized that these places were full of history. Some historical event or other was associated with each of these towns. The people were not making enough of that fact but they too made a great contribution. We all have our heroes. Our Afrikaner children have no greater hero than Danie Theron. He was a spy in the war when his people fought against the British. I suppose the English-speaking youth have no greater hero than Dick King, who became a hero in his people’s efforts against mine. Sir, we should set about things in such a way that Danie Theron is regarded not as the heritage of the Afrikaners and Dick King as the heritage of the English-speaking section but so that those two can be our common heritage, and then we shall have national unity. Through national unity we should be able to co-operate on the fundamental questions which affect South Africa. I do not want to go into any details in that connection. The Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister have dealt with this, but we cannot overlook the fact that South Africa and the White man in Africa are being threatened from the North, and that is one of the main reasons why we should obtain national unity so that we can put up a united front against our enemies. But if we want to obtain national unity then some other changes are also necessary, the one being that we must prove in our political life that we treat each other with personal respect. We can differ as much as we like on matters of principle, but we should at least admit the bona fides of our opponent and admit that he has the right to adopt that attitude, even if we do not agree with him. We must not continually question the honesty of each other’s intentions. We must not say to the people in South Africa, “Yes, those people give their word, but can you accept their word?” Is that the way to obtain unity? We shall only obtain unity when we say: “That is his opinion and we are willing to believe that he honestly holds that opinion.” But if we continually go about saying that our opponents are a lot of crooks whose word we cannot accept, then we do not deserve to obtain unity. If we want unity then Natal must prove that she understands and accepts the duties as well as the privileges of democracy, and she must be prepared to accept decisions —and not only when she is in the majority.
The hon. the Leader of the Opposition has read somewhere that it is the duty of an Opposition to oppose and he has been able to see nothing but that, with the result that no matter what the Government does he opposes it.
I learnt it from the Opposition during the period from 1939 to 1948.
When the Government comes forward with proposals, he feels obliged to oppose them, and to him it is not a question of right or wrong. He has departed from his basic standpoint in connection with these matters to such an extent that he is even willing to make the wrong speech if the wrong speech is placed in his hands. He then asks himself not whether it is right or wrong, but he asks himself, “What have I been told to say?” The hon. the Leader of the Opposition had an opportunity at the referendum and subsequently to distinguish himself as a statesman rather than a politician. Because of his attitude at the referendum and subsequently he did not, unfortunately for South Africa, succeed in doing so. He was afraid of the points at issue in the referendum, in which the electorate had to decide whether or not South Africa was to become a republic, and he clouded the issue by introducing all sorts of other matters. It then suddenly became a Verwoerd republic. In any event, he views the monarchy to-day as a Verwoerd monarchy, so what is the difference? He visualized a republic outside of the Commonwealth and then he and his people did their best in the course of their speeches to ensure that we would not remain inside the Commonwealth. He was then against any kind of republic. When that made no impression he began to sow suspicion. He said that the English-speaking section would lose their language rights, that the Nationalists’ word of honour meant nothing. The people were intimidated; they were made to fear for their own pockets, as the hon. member for Green Point (Maj. van der Byl) did again yesterday. They were made to fear for their freedom; they were made to fear for their lives. I think it was the Leader of the Opposition who came along with this priceless story that if we became a republic, who would prevent the Russians from sending over a missile to destroy Cape Town? I can imagine the people at Russian Headquarters coming together, in a world war, and saying: “What about that missile for Cape Town?” And then one of them would say: “No, no, no, that is a monarchy; wait until it becomes a republic, then we shall destroy it.” The hon. Leader of the Opposition, if I may describe it that way, said something there that was political madness. The poor Natalians were frightened to such an extent by the hon. member for South Coast that they are still running and the Leader of the Opposition subsequently had to go to Natal to calm them down, and when he could not succeed in doing so, he simply left the country temporarily. Can we build up national unity in that way? There will have to be a change of spirit. Why did he not say, “the electorate has now given its verdict and I will co-operate to build up this republic so that we can enter the republic in peace and with greater hope”? He said that he wanted to co-operate, but all he does is to come along with a number of unacceptable proposals, which he knows have to be rejected, so that he can have some excuse to oppose the republic. Does he believe that all these entrenchments that he talks about really have something to do with the republic? There are no fewer or no more entrenchments to-day than there have been in the past 60 years, but this is simply an attempt to save his face and to give him some reason for voting against the republic in order to satisfy the wild men in his party. Sir, I do not hold it against him. His party, as far as constitutional development is concerned, has always been an obscurantist party. Even in the very first days after Union when General Smuts stated at De Wildt that he stood for a policy of “South Africa first” he was put out of the Cabinet. When we fought for the right of neutrality, his party always refused to accept it. When we fought for the right of secession they opposed it. When we wanted our own citizenship, they did not want it. When we wanted our own flag and National Anthem and sought to establish the sovereignty of Parliament they opposed it. They were the obscurantist party who refused to go along with the people in that natural evolution. Even when we introduced decimalization we had the same story, despite th fact that an hon. member of that party was the father of decimalization. But at the last moment they decided that it was the duty of the Opposition to oppose. We must stop being negative. To obtain national unity they must adopt a positive standpoint in connection with the natural development of South Africa. These things which I have mentioned here and which have been accepted by everybody, must also be accepted in spirit by them. There must be an end—and everybody wants an end—to this constitutional struggle that is taking place to-day. If we create a new spirit and accept each other’s bona fides in politics, and if we think more of our joint contribution to our history and less about our historical grievances, if we do not carry our internal disputes to countries abroad, if we make our diverse history and culture our joint possession, and if we look ahead instead of getting stuck in the mud of our past, then we shall be able to make a success of this republic.
Mr. Speaker, the greater part of what we have just heard from the Minister of Lands was devoted to the recurrent theme of racial unity. I agree with him, and everyone else in the House does, and I will come back to that subject a little later, but as a means of obtaining racial unity he laid down certain things that ought to be done. The first was that we should maintain the tone of public life and accept each other’s sincerity even if we do not agree. He followed that up by a completely vicious attack on the Leader of the Opposition, questioning his entire sincerity in the way he handled this debate. He then proceeded to make a list of the alleged deficiencies of this party. I do not know whether he thought that was a contribution towards racial unity or not, because for every alleged sin on this side I can easily produce two or three on that side of the House. But what will that help in considering the question before us now? I cannot help feeling that if the Minister devoted his great parliamentary abilities a little more to serious debate and resisted the temptation to be flippant a little more, he would be much more effective and useful in this House.
The Minister also asked this side of the House whether the speech of the hon. member for South Coast yesterday represented the policy of the United Party. Well, I think a great deal more has been read into that statement made by the hon. member for South Coast than one is entitled to read. But the leader of the party made a statement to the Government Press on the subject immediately afterwards, which I think makes it perfectly clear what the policy of this party is, and if it is read in conjunction with what the hon. member for South Coast said then the thing will be seen in its proper proportions. I may add that that statement by the leader of the party was made with the concurrence and the approval of the hon. member for South Coast.
Now the suggestion has been made that the amendment moved by this side of the House represents a flat repudiation of the result of the referendum. I want to emphasize that it is nothing of the sort. There are different opinions about the way the referendum was held and the things that were done, and if one wanted to one could have a long and acrimonious discussion on that subject, but how will that help us? The referendum was held, we took part in it, and we cannot ignore the result of it. Sir, I am a monarchist and I am therefore anti-republic. With my tradition and upbringing it would be strange if I were not. Personally, I have no leanings whatever towards a republic, and I do not believe that in any respect it affects the question of whether I am a good South African or not. I must say that the referendum has not altered my feelings on the subject one whit. What has happened since the referendum has strengthened my belief that the mere declaration of a republic, or the passing of this Bill, will contribute nothing whatever towards national unity. When the Chief Whip of the Nationalist Party last year in an inspired moment declared in this House that when we have a republic the plagues and the problems he spoke about would disappear like mist before the morning sun, he was indulging in some wishful thinking. It seems to me that on this occasion wishful thinking will not help us at all. What we have to do is some very hard thinking and possibly some hard acting if we are going to resolve the problems facing us. Having said that and made it clear that I am not a republican, I want to say emphatically also that in considering this Bill and its implications it is my duty as a South African to set my personal sentiments and prejudices aside in considering it. I think it is the duty of all of us as far as it is humanly possible —and perhaps some of us are more human than others—to examine this question objectively and to remember that the paramount question is “What is best for the country?”—not “What do I personally want or what would I personally like to see?”
Sir, the hon. the Prime Minister amongst other distinctions is, I understand, a professional psychologist. I wonder if he has ever studied the psychology of the British people. Perhaps he does not think it is worth while, but I think it would be a pity if he has not done so because if he had done it and understood their psychology, I think his approach as far as the English-speaking people are concerned, would have been somewhat different. Sir, the people of British stock are not republican in sentiment or tradition or inclination, but they are a people who are law-abiding, to a degree. They are political realists. They have never in all their long history been afraid of political experiment or of rational compromise. Take the United Kingdom over the last 15 years. The creation of a welfare state in those small islands with fifty-odd million people in them was in some ways a far greater revolution than anything we are trying to do in this Bill, but it has taken place peacefully with discussion, with adjustment and with compromise, and it is generally accepted, and to-day most people have forgotten what a profound revolution it brought about in the lives of most people. I am quite sure that the vast majority of people of British stock in this country, if they were convinced that it was for the good of their country, would be prepared to subordinate their personal inclinations and to co-operate in creating a stable and a generally acceptable foundation to build on for the future, and it is the future that we have to think of. The hon. the Minister of Finance asked us yesterday, quite rightly, not to talk about the past. But, Sir, when you are estimating possibilities and prospects for the future you cannot help but consider your experiences in the past. I believe that the general approach of the people of British stock in this country under present circumstances would be “we don’t want a republic, but if we have to have one, let us do our best to see that it is a good one ”. That is a perfectly realistic and reasonable approach, and that is the spirit in which the hon. member for South Coast went to Pretoria. That was what he was after when he went to Pretoria, so do not think that I am different from my hon. friend, because I am not.
You are quite right.
Requests were made to the Prime Minister for certain safeguards, guarantees and entrenchments in the new constitution-safeguards to set at rest the fears that a large number of people had that various basic rights and principles might not be adequately protected. It is not relevant to the issue whether their fears were entirely well grounded, or whether they were without foundation or not; the fact remains that they were well and sincerely held by a large number of people in this country. Those people—and I am one of them—believe that the existing Act of Union over the course of years has shown grave weaknesses and defects and that if we are going to have a new constitution, this is the proper time to remedy them.
The sacred constitution that we have heard about so much.
If the hon. the Minister had been attending to what has been going on for the last ten years he would have known that consistently for many years there has been a strong body of opinion in this House and outside it demanding a drastic reform of the Act of Union to provide more safeguards for people. Sir, we cannot see that this present Bill does anything to set those fears at rest or to create conditions calculated to pro-more racial unity. There are good grounds for those fears. I do not want to emulate the Minister of Lands and go back in great detail, but I must say that speeches like those of the hon. the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs and the Commissioner-General for the. Transkei do nothing to suggest that the coming of a republic is going to bring about any improvements in race relations in this country. There is legislation foreshadowed, which we all know about, which very clearly indicates encroachments on what we believe to be basic rights. The hon. the Prime Minister last year, in announcing what kind of republic it was going to be, quite frankly said that only a few months before that, in 1959, the Nationalist Party in the Transvaal would not have accepted this constitution, and he thereby gave the impression that they had accepted it firstly because they did not think they could win the referendum otherwise, and secondly and more important perhaps, because the Prime Minister told them to do so and in addition to that the Prime Minister in the course of this debate has made much of the sacrifices that have been made by his party in order to make possible the establishment of the republic. But, Sir, how long are those sacrifices going to be continued to be made; how soon are they going to change their minds? How soon is it going to become the dead hand of the past? The hon. member for Smithfield (Mr. J. J. Fouché. Jnr.) asked us to speak honestly in this debate, and I am trying to do so. There is no question about it that I as an old Member of Parliament have heard promises, assurances and undertakings given time after time in this House by members of the Government and by members on the other side, and it is also true that not one of those promises or undertakings has ever been honoured, so the Prime Minister cannot just laugh it away that when we say that when he gives undertakings to us, we know that he, like all of us, is a transient figure in the public life of this country and that the time has come—and this is the opportune time—when the various promises and undertakings which have been made from one side of the House or the other, should be placed in some form which cannot be repudiated at the will of a chance majority in this House. The Prime Minister summarily rejected all these requests. Either they were undesirable or unnecessary. But, Sir, there is another point. We have seen so many democratic parliamentary republics become nothing but dictatorships. We have Ghana, we have Egypt, the Sudan, Pakistan and others which I am not going to mention because I do not want to hurt their feelings. But just imagine, if instead of having a placatory, friendly, co-operative, patient gentleman as Prime Minister, as I have no doubt the Prime Minister considers himself, if instead of that we had an autocratic, arrogant, intolerant, hasty and ambitious man with, at the back of him, a dumb and servile parliamentary party, surely Mr. Speaker, you can see how easy it would be under the new republic to relapse into the same kind of dictatorship that so many more of these parliamentary republics have done.
But that could happen in a monarchy and you know it.
The hon. the Minister says that that could be done under the present constitution. To reply to him colloquially, I would say “You’re telling me!”
You have demolished your own argument.
As it is, what is the position with which we are faced to-day? A small majority of the White voters have voted “yes” in favour of a republic. The non-Europeans have not been considered or consulted, but we all know that most of them are opposed to it. I ask you, Sir, is that really a secure foundation for a revolutionary change? The Prime Minister’s predecessors never thought so, as has been said in this debate. They were most emphatic that in order to have a stable republic which would endure, the great majority of the White voters must be in favour of it. And what is the Prime Minister going to get? I am sure he is not going to get what he wants. Under this legislation he is going to get a republic with nearly half the European electorate, and most of the non-Europeans, sullenly submitting to an authority they do not like and, what is even more important, in the establishment of which they have had no hand. In other words, he is going to have a sectional minority republic and not a national one. I agree with my hon. friend, the member for Peninsula (Mr. Bloomberg): What an opportunity the Prime Minister is missing! His objective, if he has any elements of statesmanship, which I am sure he has, should be surely to have a Bill passed, dealing with this subject, as nearly as possible unanimously, and without serious division, instead of one forced through this House by an entirely unrepresentative parliamentary majority. In other words, at the very outset the hon. the Prime Minister, by the way he is handling this matter, is alienating the great majority of South African citizens of all races and colour. If the Prime Minister has that objective—and surely he must have—of getting legislation through this House as nearly unanimously as possible, what should he do? It seems to me that in calling on the country to accept the referendum results, he should have announced right away his readiness to consult and to co-operate in order to make it work. The hon. member for Potchefstroom (Dr. J. H. Steyn) talks about the minority trying to dictate to the majority. That is not the case at all. It is not a question of the minority or the majority dictating. We say that in this particular case particularly there should be no dictation from anybody on this matter if agreement is to be reached. Having made that call, surely the Prime Minister should have initiated consultations and negotiations with the leaders of the people in order to try to bring about some basis upon which legislation could be passed in this House as nearly unanimously as possible.
Reference has been made to the 1910 Convention. Sir, look back at it. There you had a varied collection of men of all races and all points of view, fresh from a fratricidal war—victors and vanquished—and you might have thought it was a super human task to put them into one room and hope to get them to agree. They succeeded, and they succeeded only because they were animated by one determination, that there should be one country in South Africa and that there should be a basis for a future South African people. If their work has not succeeded as well as they hoped it is our fault not theirs. It is the fault of everyone of us, of all sections and all races. We have made mistakes. The hon. the Minister of Lands talks about racial unity and so does the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister. In fact, on all sides of the House we are all going round in circles telling each other that racial unity is essential and that is about all we do, floating around like gold fish in a bowl, gaping at each other, and talking about racial unity. If racial unity means anything, surely the time has come for the initiative to come from the Government, for the Government to give some concrete proof and to create some concrete machinery whereby visible acts could be done which would give people the understanding and knowledge that there really was an intention to find racial unity in laying the foundations for the new era into which we are moving. Given the same determination, I can see no reason why another National Convention should not succeed again. I think it is the only way, but of course, the initiative would have to come from the Government. This Bill, Sir, is no small thing. It is not just a Bill we are putting through Parliament. As you, Mr. Speaker, said it is possibly the most important thing we have ever had to do in the Parliament of this country. It is as pregnant with possibilities for future good or future ill as the 1910 Convention itself. But it must be handled in a big way, if we are going to do justice to a very big subject. And unfortunately what different approach we have at the present time—a Select Committee. We all know that a Select Committee is a political affair. A Select Committee is totally circumscribed in what it is going to discuss and who it can have on it as members, and I say again to the hon. the Prime Minister with all the earnestness at my command that I think he is missing a tremendous opportunity, and it is a tragedy for South Africa that he is doing so. I believe that probably the great majority of Nationalists, including members on the other side of the House, in achieving their goal of a republic, earnestly and sincerely desires to make this an opportunity for bringing the races together in real harmony. I believe that and I share that with them, and if I can make no impression on the Prime Minister, who is of course the person who one would wish to impress if one could, I want to say to all my Nationalist friends on the other side, that speaking personally but reflecting, I believe, the attitude of the majority of the people I represent, we are not republicans; you must not expect us to be republicans at the present time, but if on the basis of the referendum result you are willing to summon a National Convention or something similar to that in consultation with us, a convention to work out, with the same spirit of determination as the 1910 Convention, a republican constitution which will command the respect and the approval of the vast majority of our people, you would find an immediate and a generous response from my people.
Who do you suggest should be represented at the convention?
I thought somebody might ask that question. My reply is this: I think debating the question from one side of the House to the other will get us no further. I think the great thing for the Government is to accept that as a possible way and then proceed to consult with the various leaders of the community, including the leaders of the political parties …
Do you include the non-Europeans too?
I do not want to lay down any conditions. Personally I believe that sooner or later such a convention would have to take into consideration the position of the non-Europeans, but I do not want to elaborate on that at the moment, because we would then get mixed up in the matter of details. At this stage, in the name of our country, I only want to beg my hon. friends opposite who sincerely want racial fellowship not to throw away this chance of finding common ground for the future.
Mr. Speaker, I do not want to say much about the Commonwealth question. It is common cause in this House that whatever happens we all want to remain in the Commonwealth and that being so probably the less we say about it the better. I do not know what is going to happen, but of course, if the Prime Minister were to take the course which I have suggested, then he would go to London in March, and take part in the very important discussions, discussions affecting subjects which may be of much more importance to this country than the establishment of a republic; he would get to know his colleagues there; he would have private talks with them, but he would not raise the republican issue at this meeting of the Prime Ministers at all. But meanwhile he would devote his energies— and everybody knows what his energies amount to—to achieving the greatest possible means of support and then at a later date he would go to London and take with him delegates from that convention to support him in his mission. As it is, by his utterances at present, by telling the world that his party is making a great sacrifice in agreeing to remain in the Commonwealth at all, he is giving the impression that he going to London rather trailing his coat, and I must say, while I do not wish to be contentious, that his announcement that he was going to take Mr. Louw with him as adviser, fills me with foreboding. Sir, the Minister of External Affairs with his unbroken record of diplomatic defeats and his uncanny knack of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and in the wrong place, is not the right person to take along. I cannot imagine a worse adviser for the Prime Minister to take with him to London.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, after having for months and months stumped this country telling the whole of the electorate that the Prime Minister’s visit to London would only be a conventional formality, the Minister of Finance surprised us all by saying that the Prime Minister was going over to London to battle on a very sticky wicket. I do not know whether that is true or not. I hope it is not, but if it is, if there is one man who in no time will make that wicket completely unplayable, it is the hon. the Minister of External Affairs. The Prime Minister has some much better people to take with him and for one, having listened to the Minister of Defence last night, I think he certainly should go. He put up a very sound, reasoned convincing case, principally based on his own Department, as to why we should be allowed to remain in the Commonwealth. I think the Minister of Defence should go along if the Prime Minister needs any assistance.
Mr. Speaker, I come back to where I started. The question is what is best for the country? I have said what I think and I am sure this Bill is not the way to handle this great and important question. It is not the way to enlist the support of people who are not sentimentally pro-republican, and I do not believe that as it stands it is going to do anything to bring people closer together. I think it is going to perpetuate all the old sickening quarrels and squabbles of which we are all tired, and it is going to exacerbate them as well, if we are not very careful, and therefore I hope very much that what I have said may induce the Prime Minister and his friends on the other side, to take another look at this question. They have expressed the hope that they will get the support of all sections of the community. I ask them to think again and to realize that it is possible to get the support of all sections of the community if instead of dictating to them, they will only make the first advance and ask them to cooperate in building a future in which we can all take part and of which we can truly be proud.
I would like to say at once that to a very great extent I appreciate the sentiments of the hon. member who has just sat down and I am sure that he honestly desires that there should be a greater measure of co-operation between republicans and anti-republicans now that the establishment of the republic is about to become an accomplished fact. The hon member says that what he wants is not— as the hon. member for Potchefstroom (Dr. J. H. Steyn) put it—a dictatorship by the minority; it is not his wish that the opponents of the republic should dictate to us. All that he pleads for is a different kind of approach, namely, that the hon. the Prime Minister should have asked the hon. the Leader of the Opposition to come and discuss matters with him; that the republicans should have said to the anti-republicans: Come and talk to us in an effort to obtain the greatest possible measure of unanimity. Mr. Speaker, let me say immediately that if anything like that were possible, if co-operation could come about on this basis, and if we could enter the republic with the greatest measure of unanimity between those who were in favour of a republic and those who were against it, it certainly would have been a very good thing. But unfortunately we are not living in the sort of circumstances in which anything like that is possible. As you will remember, we have already tried it. Last year, when the establishment of a republic was discussed in this House, the hon. the Prime Minister very clearly asked the hon. the Leader of the Opposition: “If we want to establish a republic with which you would be satisfied in all respects, a republic within the Commonwealth and with a constitution which would satisfy you, would you then be in favour of a republic?” And his reply to that was blunt and unshakable: “No, I am against a republic in any form under all circumstances.” While that decision by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition still stands, we simply cannot under those circumstances seek co-operation in the way held to us here by the hon. member for Constantia as an ideal.
I just want to refer to that in passing. I come first to the hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell). I hope that he will return because it is important that he should be here. I would also like the hon. member for Constantia to be present, because I want to address a few words to him concerning his statement that the statement by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition of yesterday evening and the statement by the hon. member for South Coast are not really in conflict.
Why did you not send a message to him before you began speaking?
As Leader of the United Party in Natal, the hon. member for South Coast should have known that I, as the Leader of the National Party in Natal, would speak on those matters in which he has the greater interest, and he was here when I began speaking. In any case I shall be glad if the hon. the Whip will inform the hon. member for South Coast that I should like him to be here.
I want to start by referring to the fact that the hon. member for Constantia in the course of his speech here stated his standpoint as follows: “We do not want a republic, but if we must have it, we must make the best of it.” That is a standpoint which I can appreciate.
No, I did not say that. I said that we must do our best to make it a good republic. That is not quite the same thing. You are misquoting me.
Very well then, the hon. member said “Let us do our best to make it a good one.” But he also added the words: “If we must have it.” That to a great extent coincides with what the hon. the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday evening in the statement to which the hon. member for Constantia referred. I think I must read it out here so that we can have it clearly on the record. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition said (Translation)—
We assume that he was referring there to the guarantees which they want to have written into the constitution. He says that they can try to have them written in now, or that they can introduce them later, I agree with them; they are entitled to try to do so. He also said—
And now comes the important point—
The hon. member for Constantia has told us here to-day that the statement by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition is the official policy of the Opposition Party, and as such we will accept it as an acknowledgment by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition that once the republic has come about it will not be undone again by efforts of the United Party. I hope that I understood the hon. member correctly. I hope that is what he means. If words have any meaning that is what it must mean. I repeat what he said:“Even though we admit that the republic cannot be disestablished once it has been established.” If that is the position we shall be very thankful, because if that is going to be the policy of the United Party, then we know that a bitter struggle which has been waged for years will be ended in South Africa. But now the hon. member for Constantia has said that that is precisely what the hon. member for South Coast also said. It is a pity that the hon. member for South Coast is not here yet, because I think it is very important that he himself should hear what he said because if we have to test it in the light of what the hon. member for Constantia now says his speech really means then we must have clarity. The hon. member for South Coast said: “I speak for Natal.” Later on again he said: “I speak for my province.” But, Sir, the newspapers throughout the country, the newspapers in Natal, did not say after that speech that he was saying that on behalf of Natal. The newspapers said:“Natal puzzled by Mitchell.” Those are the headlines in to-day’s newspapers. Moreover, the newspaper which is really regarded as the mouthpiece of the United Party in Natal, the Natal Daily News, in a leading article this morning said that one could understand why the hon. member for South Coast felt annoyed and frustrated under the circumstances, but that that feeling on the part of the hon. member for South Coast by no means justified some of the phrases which he used in his speech, phrases which the newspaper describes as ambiguous or meaningless or capable of being misunderstood. “And,” the leading article went on to say,“phrases which will in no way promote the cause of the anti-Nationalists in Natal ”. That is the standpoint adopted in the leading article of the Natal Daily News, which has always been regarded as the mouthpiece of the United Party of Natal. It repudiates the Leader of the United Party in Natal and tells the world clearly that the Leader of the United Party in Natal (Mr. Mitchell) was not speaking on behalf of Natal. Actually it amounts to saying that the hon. member for South Coast talked a lot of nonsense here. But let us see what the hon. member for South Coast did say and compare it with what is now said to be the official standpoint of the United Party. I do not know whether the hon. member for South Coast is available …
He will be coming in a moment.
It must be remembered, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member for Constantia said that their standpoint was that they did not like a republic, that they did not want it, but that if they must have it they would have to make the best of it. But that is not what the hon. member for South Coast said. He said this—
That is in direct conflict with what the hon. member for Constantia said. It is also in direct conflict with what the Union Leader of the United Party said in his statement yesterday evening, when he said that once the republic had been established it could not be disestablished again. But the hon. member for South Coast says that he rejects the republic and will have no part in it. It must be remembered that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition said:“Although we admit that the republic cannot be disestablished once it has been established.” The hon. member for South Coast says:“We do not propose to live permanently under it.” But perhaps the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, who is looking at me now, wants to suggest that I am quoting that out of its context. I shall read out the whole sentence—
If words have any meaning at all, this sentence means exactly the opposite of what the hon. the Leader of the Opposition said in his statement.
He accepts my statement.
If the hon. member for South Coast says that he agrees with the statement of the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, that means simply that the speech by the hon. member for South Coast yesterday can only be described in the way in which Mr. Donald Shave described it before when he stated that they were “sick and tired of Mr. Mitchell’s political platitudes”.
I want to go further and ask the hon. the Leader of the Opposition whether he approves of what the hon. member for South Coast said. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition has told us that the hon. member for South Coast agrees with the statement made by him (the hon. the Leader of the Opposition) that the republic cannot be disestablished once it has come into being. I now ask the hon. the Leader of the Opposition whether he agrees with the standpoint of the hon. member for South Coast that “we do not propose to live permanently under it?” I hope that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition will help us so that we can obtain clarity.
Make your speech; you will be answered.
After all, we want to know where we stand, and I would very much like the hon. the Leader of the Opposition to answer personally, because this is of great importance. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition should remember that we in Natal live under difficult circumstances. We have a small group of Whites there and a large non-White majority consisting of two different races, two non-White groups who outnumber the Whites, and this kind of incitement which has been going on for quite some time now by the hon. member for South Coast among the Whites of Natal, and these wild stories which are being spread—I shall come in a moment to a few more which he used in his speech yesterday—are causing discord in the ranks of the Whites in Natal. If he is really in earnest in saying that we must build up a united nation in South Africa I appeal to the hon. the Leader of the United Party—whether we agree at the moment on constitutional principles or other matters or whether we do not—to realize that our actions must be such that at least our people will know where they stand and that in our political life we must avoid statements such as this statement by the hon. member for South Coast. Therefore I now ask him very frankly to help us and to tell us in Natal that he does not agree with these words used by the hon. member for South Coast: “We do not propose to live permanently under it.”
Let me go further. The hon. member for South Coast said:“I speak for Natal. We do not accept the republic in Natal. We do not propose to live permanently under it.” In other words, Natal does not propose to remain permanently under the republic. Is that what was meant by the hon. member for South Coast, who is now present? The hon. member nods affirmatively. He says that is correct. Just a few sentences later he said:“We will seek the first opportunity to make our own laws.” What does he mean by that? Does he mean that Natal will seek an opportunity as speedily as possible to make its own laws? It is necessary for us to know this, because the hon. the Leader of the Opposition now says that once the republic is in existence it will remain. But the hon. member for South Coast tells us that Natal will not live under the republic, that Natal will make its own laws. What does that mean? Does it mean anything at all, or are these just “political platitudes”? I do not know whether I can take this any further. It seems to me that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition and the hon. member for South Coast now refuse to accept responsibility for their own words, for the words of the Leader of the United Party in Natal.
Then I should like to deal with a few other points in connection with the speech made yesterday by the hon. member for South Coast. Before he made his dramatic statement he mentioned a number of reasons why he would not accept the result of the referendum and why Natal would not accept the republic. One of the reasons was that he did not believe that the referendum result constituted a mandate from the people, and as one of his examples he spoke of “the disgraceful elements”. In this connection he suggested that a majority in favour of the republic was obtained through “disgraceful” conduct on the part of republicans. This disgraceful conduct, was, inter alia, that old people—pensioners—were allegedly intimidated, that they were threatened that if they did not vote in favour of the republic they would lose their pensions. I challenge the hon. member for South Coast across the floor of this House to name one single case of that kind, because he knows as well as I do that such conduct would be contrary to the Electoral Law, a crime under that Act. I would like to ask him whether he reported one single case of this kind to the police.
He is waiting until he has his own police!
Is there any truth in what the hon. member said here? Because if it is the truth, he should have reported it to the police. Or was that just another “political platitude”? But the other thing he mentioned was that in the case of Railway employees they were permitted to vote by post in the referendum, and he put this in such a way as to insinuate that this was one of the “disgraceful” aspects of the referendum. In saying that does he want to suggest that the outcome of the referendum was “cooked”? Why else does he mention it? In other words, he wants to suggest that something underhand was done. In his speech here now he suggested that it was terribly wrong to allow those railway men to vote by post. But last year when this provision was passed by Parliament, neither he nor any member of his party raised a single objection to it. And after all no railwayman who voted by post voted twice. Postal voting did not result in more votes being cast. The only thing that the hon. member could possibly have insinuated therefore was that there was interference with postal votes. In other words, the hon. member contends that because those persons voted by post, they perhaps voted in a way in which they would not have voted otherwise.
You are the last person to talk about that.
Will the hon. member for Durban (Point) tell me what he means by that?
I said that the hon. the Minister was the last person to talk about a knowledge of the law governing postal votes. He is fully acquainted with the law governing postal votes.
No, the hon. member must withdraw what he said.
I shall come to that particular matter to which the hon. member has just referred. But if there was one single case of irregularity in connection with postal votes, why did they not hand the matter over to the police and institute legal proceedings? But if the hon. member talks about disgraceful conduct on the part of the protagonists of the republic, I think I am entitled to remind him of his conduct and that of his party and particularly of the way in which he and his party conducted the referendum campaign. I am referring now to the interdict for which he and his party in Natal applied against me personally. I do not want to go into the merits of this matter. It is well known that an Order of Court was sought against me on the strength of certain statements made by a woman, statements which contained allegations about certain irregularities which I had allegedly committed, all of which, with the exception of one, she later withdrew in a subsequent statement, and even the one remaining allegation was extensively amended by her in comparison with her original statement. I do not propose to say anything else in that regard; it is not necessary nor is it necessary to point out that eventually the application was withdrawn by the applicant, the referendum agent of the United Party, and that they offered to pay all the costs. But I just want to refer to the method that they used to raise this matter. This woman on whose affidavit the case really began, voted by post on Wednesday, 28 September. According to information at my disposal the anti-republican agent, Mr. Henderson, who made this application had all the information which he needed for an application in his possession on Thursday, 29 September, but he only made his application to the Court on Saturday, I October, after 2 o’clock in the afternoon. I contend that he did so in order to obtain publicity in the Sunday newspapers, because all the Sunday newspapers came out with banner headlines on their front pages in such a way that it cast a direct reflection on me as Minister and as leader of the National Party in Natal. But I go further and say that the copy of the Order of Court, of the interdict, which is normally served on the respondent in every case, was never served on me by those who were responsible for doing so. In other words, if I had waited for them I would never have known about the case and about the Order. On Tuesday, 4 October, when the case was heard in Court, the copy which should have been served on me was still lying in the Court at Pietermaritzburg. In other words, they relied upon my hearing about the case through the newspapers and upon the fact that I would hear about it for the first time on Sunday morning when the Sunday newspapers appeared. The original Order stipulated that I could anticipate the return day provided I gave 48 hours’ notice to the Court and to the applicants. That means that if I had seen this for the first time in the newspapers on Sunday and if I had then had to prepare the necessary documents, it would have been altogether impossible for me to give the necessary notice before Sunday evening at the very earliest, in other words, it would then have been altogether impossible to expose the truth before referendum day. But for the fact that it so happened that a newspaper reporter asked me at Alberton, where I was addressing a meeting, whether I had heard of this and whether I could comment on it, I would not have known about it before about Sunday afternoon. That is why I was able to prepare the necessary documents by working right through Saturday night and by giving notice on Sunday that I should like the case to be heard on Tuesday. But that is still not the end of it. The case was due to start on Tuesday, 4 October, at 10 o’clock in the morning. That fact had been known to the applicant and his attorneys from Sunday morning. But when the Court had to sit we received a message to the effect that they were not yet ready with their replying affidavit; they did not have a typist who could type Afrikaans to type the affidavit by Mrs. Petersen, an affidavit which they had in their possession fom Sunday and which they had not been able to have typed. The result was that the hearing of this matter in Court was delayed. These attempts were all made in an endeavour to ensure that election day would arrive with this cloud, with this charge, hanging over my head, not over my head as an individual but over my head as a Minister of the National Party Government and as leader of the republicans in Natal. That is the way in which they conducted the referendum in Natal. And the hon. member for South Coast must not come and tell me now that it was the responsibility of Mr. Henderson, the anti-republican agent, because he and his party rewarded Mr. Henderson for it by electing him as a member of the Senate.
But I want to point out another method that they followed, and this is something of which there has also been some evidence in this debate. They naturally tried to drag in every conceivable thing in an attempt to obtain votes against the republic, and one of the stories which the hon. member for South Coast used in Natal particularly more than any other, is the story of the dangers of the Bantustan homelands policy to Natalians, and yesterday in this debate he used the following words—
Do you deny that?
Of course I deny it, and I shall now give the hon. member the figures. But in the first place the Bill we are now dealing with has nothing to do with this, as the hon. member for South Coast should know. This Bill which is before the House will not change that position one iota. The hon. member knows that but nonetheless he comes along and tells the world that this Constitution Bill will “… bring about the fragmentation of Natal and the dispersal of its White people ”. In other words, he is inciting (I can describe it in no other way) the Whites of Natal against the constitution of the republic. And that is not true, because this Bill does not even contain any reference to that matter. But let me go further. The establishment of the republic or the Bantu homelands policy does not mean—and this has been said repeatedly and the hon. member for South Coast should know it—that more land will be allocated to the Bantu in Natal than they were promised under the 1936 Act. What are the facts? The total area of Natal is 10,153,000 morgen and the total area of the Bantu territories, if they are given all the land which was promised to them under the 1936 Act will be only 3,833,000 morgen. In other words, the Bantu in Natal will inhabit only slightly more than one-third of the area of the Province of Natal. The hon. member for South Coast knows that, and yet he says here and in Natal that the republic will mean that the Whites in Natal will retain only one-sixth of their province for occupation. And all these things are also known to the hon. member for Durban (Point) (Mr. Raw).
May I ask the hon. the Minister a question? Is he prepared to say that the Government will allocate no land in Natal except that which falls under the 1936 Act?
No land than the land which is presently occupied by the Bantu plus what the 1936 Act allocated to them.
Nothing more, and that has been stated repeatedly by the present Prime Minister. by the Minister of Bantu Administration and by myself. The hon. member ought to know that, but in spite of that he and the hon. member for South Coast go about in Natal spreading scare stories so that, like Don Quixote of days gone by, they can charge windmills and play the role of strong men who supposedly want to save the White man in Natal.
Then I want to come to another argument used by the hon. member. He says that they do not accept the result of the referendum because too few English-speaking people voted in favour of the republic, and then he quotes what the late Advocate Strydom allegedly said to him on a certain occasion. He quoted the words here as though they were the actual words used by the late Advocate Strydom—
Mr. Speaker, I knew the late Advocate Strydom intimately for many, many years. I discussed this matter with him not once, like the hon. member for South Coast, but many times, and I want to say specifically that the words which the hon. member for South Coast attributes to the late Advocate Strydom were never used by him and that that was never his attitude. The hon. member for South Coast says that the late Advocate Strydom said:“Only when we have got an adequate majority among the English-speaking people.” He never said that and I challenge the hon. member for South Coast to prove the contrary. The late Advocate Strydom’s standpoint was that enough English-speaking people should be converted to the republican idea in order to give the republicans an adequate majority. That was his standpoint throughout and nothing else. I contend that the hon. member for South Coast in saying this was placing words in the mouth of a person who is no longer with us to defend himself, words which that person never uttered, and I think that is the most despicable thing that one can do.
Now I come to the question as to the number of English-speaking persons who allegedly voted in favour of the republic. I do not know how many voted in favour of the republic, nor do I know how many Afrikaans-speaking people voted against the republic. But I think it was the hon. the Leader of the Opposition who told us that one-third of the Afrikaans-speaking section voted against the republic. Very well, let us accept that as correct. If that is so, it means that one-third of the English-speaking people voted in favour of the republic. I have worked it out carefully. It amounts to this that if one-third of the Afrikaans-speaking people voted against the republic, then 200,000 English-speaking people voted in favour of the republic. Let the hon. the Leader of the Opposition tell us now whether he stands by his figures or not. I accept that this is only guesswork, but if we accept his figures it means that one-third of the English-speaking people voted in favour of a republic in South Africa. But to me that is of no great importance. What is far more important to me is the state of mind of the English-speaking people themselves. And so far as that is concerned I contend on the strength of my contacts with the English-speaking people of Natal that the position is this, that although the majority, an overwhelming majority, of the English-speaking people voted against the republic, they did so in the first place because they felt that they did not want to help in bringing about the republic. They felt that helping to bring the republic into being would be an act which could be interpreted as disloyalty to Her Majesty the Queen, and that they did not want to do under any circumstances. One of the people who cross-examined me most at my meetings came to me after a meeting and said, as quite a number of others also did:“Look, Mr. Maree, you must remember that we are normally obliged to oppose the republic, and we are doing so with all the power at our command. But if the republic is established, you can look forward to the greatest measure of co-operation from us and we shall help to make a success of it.” There are hundreds of thousands of these people. That is the approach we ask for, because they understand, just as we understand, that if we want to make the republic the true home of all Whites in South Africa, then the republic must represent the ways of life, the traditions, and the cultures of all sections of the White population. Then the English-speaking person, with his language, culture, and rights, must feel just as much at home within the republic as we do. We as Afrikaans-speaking people cannot see to it alone that those things which are dear to the English-speaking people are made part and parcel of the republic. We can see to it that what we hold dear is made part and parcel of it. It is only they themselves who can actually and effectively carry their philosophy of life into the republic in life and spirit, and that they can only do if they accept the republic. They can only do it in the spirit mentioned by the hon. member for Constantia and that is that if the republic must come, then we shall help to make the best of it that it can be. In that spirit we accept their co-operation and we are prepared to forget that they voted against it. But then the hon. member for South Coast must not come along with such irresponsible talk as he did yesterday, and I sincerely hope that the English-speaking section of Natal will accept the standpoint adopted by the majority of them and will continue to build on it—the standpoint of the hon. member for Pinetown (Mr. Hopewell) who, in a speech shortly after the referendum, adopted the clear standpoint that the only way to act against the Nationalists was to refrain from telling all kinds of wild stories but to defeat them at the ballot box. That was his standpoint and we have no quarrel with it. Let them act in that way, but let them act within the republic as though they regard the republic as their home, just as we regard it, and not in the spirit of the hon. member for South Coast when he says:“We shall not live under it permanently.” Because if we do adopt that attitude it can only cause the greatest difficulties. But I want to give you the assurance, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member for South Coast was not speaking on behalf of Natal. He was only speaking for himself, for Colonel Martin, for Mr. Donald Shave, and possibly for Mr. Selby and a few others. But he was not speaking on behalf of the great majority even of the English-speaking people of Natal, and after yesterday’s performance he will never speak on their behalf again.
There is one statement which was made by the hon. the Minister of Bantu Education that I cannot possibly allow to pass. He made a serious reflection on a very hon. gentleman, a member of the Other Place, Senator Henderson, when he made the insinuation that it was because of the way that he had conducted this legal case that he had been rewarded by being put into the Senate. I fling those words back in the Minister’s teeth. I challenge him to make those insinuations outside of this House and allow that hon. gentleman to clear his name before the Courts of this land. I say that if the Minister has a grain of courage he will do that, or he will stand up and apologize for that most unwarranted insitutation. I ask him if, in a debate of this nature, that is the sort of thing that will bring unity to a country such as South Africa. I do not propose to deal with the matter any further. The hon. Senator is well able to defend himself, and he will do so. But a very heavy responsibility rests upon this hon. Minister. I do hope that if he himself is not going to repair the damage done the hon. the Prime Minister will show how earnest he is when he talks about unity, by insisting that this hon. Minister must make amends for the statement he made here today. I will leave the matter there. And it is not necessary for me to deal with the remainder of what the hon. the Minister said. The points which he raised have been fully dealt with by my hon. Leader and there is no need to carry them further.
I wish now to come back to the serious question which is before this country. I want to say immediately that I am one who has always believed that, irrespective of what the political differences may be, it is essential that the Whites of South Africa should find the way to national unity, because it is only through that unity that we will be able to find a solution to the tremendously difficult problems with which we as a small European minority on the tip of a Continent, are faced. On that Continent we Whites make up 1½ per cent of the total population, and it is only through learning to stand together as a nation, irrespective of our political differences that we will learn the way towards finding the solutions to these tremendous problems which are the deep concern of us all. I want to say, quite bluntly, that I opposed this republic. I believed, and I believe to-day that it would be better in the interests of South Africa, and it would lead more rapidly to the bringing about of national unity in South Africa if we did not have this republic. I put it as my honest opinion, and I want to say why I believe that, and why I believe it is in the interests of the Union. We are a small country, and even within that small country there are other countries which are not under the Government of the Union. I refer to the Protectorates. I believe that the creation of a republic in South Africa will make it immeasurably more difficult for us to find a way of including those Protectorates within the South African State. I believe it is an essential long range programme, from every point of view, that they should be included. I believe that what we want is not a smaller South Africa with certain of the areas of the Union transformed into what will eventually be independent Native states. I believe that we need something bigger. I believe it is essential that we should maintain the mandate over South West Africa and that one day, perhaps, when we have reached a solution to some of our problems, with the consent of those concerned it may be possible to include that territory within the Union. If that can be done then, quite obviously, we will have something approaching a United States of Southern Africa; an area of great natural resources which could one day become one of the important powers of the world.
Mr. Speaker, I go further. I believe that the association of South Africa with the foundation members of the Commonwealth—Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand— was an association which was of immense value to South Africa. And I believe it would have been better for South Africa to maintain that association as it existed. It is obviously a closer association than there will be when the republic has been established in this country. And I believe that that closer association is in our interests. Even Britain, the strongest of the members, is not the world power which she was, with overwhelming strength. Each of those countries standing alone cuts very little ice in the world of today from the defence point of view. But those countries standing together, closer bound as we were, together formed one of the great powers of the world. And I believe it would have been better to have maintained it so.
We are going to maintain it.
Yes, but we are going to maintain it in a different form. I am prepared to argue that with the hon. member, but at the moment I am putting forward the reasons why I opposed the republic and why I believe that it was better for us to maintain the situation as it existed.
That close association has been of the most immense value to South Africa. I fear that at some time in the future we might possibly lose our Commonwealth preferences, too, which have been of such immense value to South Africa. I hope we shall retain them, but I believe we are endangering them. I believe we are endangering our membership of that Commonwealth, much as I hoped it could be possible for us, now that there is common agreement in this country for the first time that we should maintain that association with the Commonwealth, although in another form. What has happened is that through this act this Government—and I am not trying to make a political point, in fact I am glad that they have accepted our standpoint in this matter. This has been one of the principal bones of contention between this side of the House and that side of the House throughout the years, and it has only been for a matter of some six months that the Nationalist Party has officially stood for the maintenance of this position. I am glad it is so. I am glad that that point of difference has been eliminated. But think how much unnecessary quarreling and arguing could have been avoided if, for the lat 20 years, it had been the common view of gentlemen opposite and those of us on this side of the House that we should maintain that close association with the Commonwealth countries.
I said that years ago.
The hon. gentleman may have said that years ago, but he did not, and I understand he does not now speak for the Nationalist Party. So I must naturally take the word of the hon. the Prime Minister, himself.
I want to say that the hon. the Prime Minister, in his approach to this question of the referendum campaign, in the initial stages, certainly did little to calm the fears of many in South Africa who were concerned. I must, however, say that his speech the other day was one of the most conciliatory I have heard from Nationalist politicians, and I appreciate it. The hon. the Prime Minister and others are now saying “Why do you not accept this majority which we obtained?” Sir, it was the hon. the Prime Minister himself who set the lead to the Nationalist Party and made it quite clear that he was not prepared to abide by a defeat, however great that defeat may be. He said, at Sea Point “If we fail we shall have to try other means”. Can the hon. the Prime Minister imagine what effect that had on the sentiments of those of us who believe that it is essential that we should maintain our position; who were being asked to accept the majority when the other side is not prepared to accept a majority against them, even for a period of years. I say that was a wrong approach to the problem. I hope the hon. gentleman is going to live it down. I say he did a disservice to South Africa when he made that statement, and I regret that it should have been made.
W now have the question of the establishment of this republic. I hope that even at this late, hour the hon. the Prime Minister is going to think again. I believe that it is in the highest interests of this country that before this legislation passes any further stages in this House, our Commonwealth membership should have been settled. The precedents which exists for the establishment of a republic make it perfectly clear that it is not necessary that the legislation should have reached a more advanced stage than it has reached at the present time. That is quite unnecessary. I hope that the hon. the Prime Minister is going to think deeply about the suggestion which was put to him across the floor of the House by the hon. member for Constantia (Mr. Waterson), and I would like to associate myself with that suggestion. I believe that if the republic is inevitable the best way of establishing that republic in the interests of all concerned, is that its constitution should be worked out, not in debate nor in the Select Committee, but on the same basis as our present constitution was worked out in 1910; on the basis of a national agreement. I am convinced that a constitution which has been arrived at in that way should prove to be a lasting constitution, as I had always hoped our 1910 Constitution would prove to be a lasting constitution. But that, clearly, is not to be.
I believe that an effort of that sort would have taken us somewhere. Very recently I was told by a man who was a young boy aged six at the time that Union was being celebrated in 1910, that he was brought by his father to the celebrations in Cape Town. I am quoting this because it showed what the spirit of that time was and what am impact it made on men’s minds. This boy saw this word “Union” appearing in various places, and he said “Dad, what does Union mean?” His father turned to him and said this “The big men have got together. They are going to build a nation”.
So I say to the hon. the Prime Minister, even if South Africa has failed, although we have made progress over the years, surely the best way to ensure that we shall build a nation is so to handle the question of the establishment of the constitution of the republic that it shall not be a political solution imposed on one side of this House by the Government majority, but on the basis that it is a negotiated solution in which there has at least been a fair opportunity, in an atmosphere far better than the political atmosphere of debate in this House, where there can be give and take. And perhaps something can be worked out which would be lasting and which would be the common heritage of us all. I believe it can only be done in the way the hon. member for Constantia suggested this afternoon.
If you will not co-operate here what is there to show that you will co-operate in a convention. Do you think Mitchell will co-operate?
Sir, the hon. the Minister for Transport is not being fair. There is a difference between a debate on the second reading of a Bill which, in the opinion of the Opposition has been brought before this House at the wrong time; there is a big difference between that and what we suggest. There is a big difference when even the future constitutional position of the Union as a member of the Commonwealth is in doubt. Surely the time to have sat down as South Africans to do something for South Africa is when we know we are remaining in the Commonwealth; when there is no doubt on that point. Surely that would mean that we a-e not debating the matter before the nation but, as in the case of the National Convention, meeting and discussing behind closed doors in a real and sincere effort to reach agreement which will be lasting, and then to provide what would perhaps be a basis on which national unity may be much more easily attained than on any other basis of which I can think.
A multi-racial conference?
Hon. gentlemen opposite are trying to drag red herrings across the trail. I am not dealing with that question at all. The person who would determine the composition of such a convention would be the Prime Minister himself. But I would like to say this to the hon. gentleman: I have no doubt that if we are to achieve the best for South Africa in years which lie ahead, then, although I am one of those who is determined that the White man shall preserve for himself a lasting position in this country. I am nevertheless convinced that we can only achieve that provided we are able to carry the non-European peoples of this country with us. And I say that in the final result I am convinced that it will be proved that in order that they should be carried with us there must at least be consultation with them on questions which affect them as vitally as they affect us.
We are dealing—and I think the hon. the Prime Minister himself described it as such— with one of the most important pieces of legislation ever to come before this House. Hopes have been expressed by speakers on the Government side—by the hon. the Minister of Lands, for instance,—that we are going to get somewhere with this. The difficulty I have had in connection with all these constitutional problems in this country is that one after another has arisen; I believed the problem has been solved only to find it shows itself in another way. I refer to the passing of the Status Act way back in 1934. At that time certain of the Nationalist Parties in South Africa were republican parties, others were not. I believed that the passing of that Status Bill had settled our constitutional question. How much more simple it would have been, and how much better it would have been for South Africa if we South Africans had all been able to accept the sort of thing that has just been accepted in Canada as a solution of this very problem with which we are concerned to-day. During its last session of Parliament Canada passed a Bill, and in one sentence which I think is a masterpiece of simplicity, they have declared their position and all Canadians are content with it. They passed a Bill to establish the sovereignty of Canada. The operative clause of that Bill is as follows—“Canada is hereby declared to be a sovereign nation ”, With that all Canadians are content. But of course, in this country, although I had believed that the question was solved years ago, the Government side was not content. They had to find some means of achieving power, and I believe it was for that reason that this republican question was raised. But they have achieved power and they have got a majority, for a republic.
One of the reasons above all others why I believe that the working out of the constitution should be on the basis that was suggested by the hon. member for Constantia, is the fact that this referendum showed that the South African people are almost equally divided. If the Coloureds in the Cape had been given the vote, and if the persons who were overseas and unable to vote—and they should, of course, have been given the vote—the figures would have been almost equal in this referendum contest.
Were there no Nationalists overseas?
Obviously there would have been a few Nationalists amongst them, but I think it is generally conceded that the overwhelming majority of the people who were away were not persons who would have supported the Nationalist Party. But that is not a very important point. Even if one takes the actual figures cast in the referendum, it shows this nation rent asunder upon a vital constitutional problem. When that is so then there is every reason why we should attempt to see if we cannot achieve something better along the basis of agreement instead of the imposition of its will by the governing party. I have no doubt that if the hon. the Prime Minister has his way and this Bill goes to a Select Committee after the second reading, then certain minor and comparatively un-important amendments will be conceded. I hope that an important matter such as that raised by the hon. member for Johannesburg (North) (Mr. Plewman) for instance, will be put right. But overwhelmingly, that constitution will have been the creation of one half of the South African people—and I am referring to the Whites only. How much better if it could rest upon a broader basis. How much more likely that it would be lasting if it rested upon that broader basis.
I have been glad to hear during this debate, from hon. members on the Government side, kindly sentiments expressed towards the English-speaking people. I would like to say to the hon. the Minister of Lands that I believe he is right when he says that one of the causes of the disunity which has existed in South Africa is that the contribution of the English-speaking people to South Africa is almost entirely unknown to a big proportion of the Afrikaans-speaking people. Unfortunately—and as an English-speaking person I say it with a sense of shame—it is largely unknown to a big proportion of the English-speaking people themselves. I should like to give an example. It was only after my mother's death that once again through reading her papers I was reminded of a fact which I had known as a boy but which I had completely forgotten. That fact was that my original ancestor in this country had been killed in the year 1822 in the Eastern Province, in the struggle between White and Black. I had forgotten that, and it is the forgetting of those things which has had such a tremendous effect. We have somehow found the way to stress the things which divide and forget the things which unite us. For instance, I wonder how many hon. members on the Government side of the House know of the first battle of the Tugela. We all know about the second battle, but how many know about the first battle where English speaking people from Durban sped to the North to helo the Voortrekkers after the murder of Piet Retief, and themselves fell in the struggle against the Zulus on the Tugela River?
Mr. Speaker, these are the things we are inclined to forget. How many people in this country realize—and I say this with the very greatest of respect for the contribution that the Afrikaans-speaking people of South Africa made to the building up of this country and the sacrifices they have made—how many people realize that for every Afrikaner who fell in the struggle between White and Black in this country, at least six English-speaking people lie buried in the soil of South Africa? We are inclined to forget these things, and we are inclined to forget a good deal else. In the economic building up of this country, I think I can claim for the people from whom I have sprung that they have played as big a part as any other.
Why do you make that point now? Nobody disagrees. I
You tell it to your people sometime.
I am glad that the hon. the Minister of Defence says he agrees. I know he is one of those persons who does mention these things. But I wonder how many other hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House can put their hands on their hearts and say that they have ever, on a public or a political occasion, paid some tribute to the contribution of the English speaking to the building up of South Africa?
I have, and I do.
I accept that, and I hope it will be others. [Interjections.]
Order, order! Now that the hon. member has made that important point I hope he will come back to the Bill.
Yes, Sir. I have made the point and I thank you for allowing me the latitude you had.
I come back merely to stress the point which I have already stressed. I do not think there is any need to carry it any further, but I say it for the sake of emphasis. I believe that the hon. the Prime Minister has a tremendous opportunity of making a real contribution to national unity in South Africa. If he wishes to make that contribution, the way that I suggest to him is the way which was put to him this afternoon by the hon. member for Constantia. He has said to us that he is sincere in his declaration that he would like to see national unity. The way has been pointed out to him. He has to make a decision, and he is the only person who can make it. If he is really in earnest about national unity in South Africa then it is my hope that he will do the least that I think we are entitled to ask him to do: He intends to see to it that South Africa becomes a republic: what I ask of him is this. In the constitution of that republic, before the matter is taken a stage further in this House, he should at least make an effort to see whether it is not possible to ensure that that constitution is a constitution which is worked out by negotiation and is freely accented by all the European people of South Africa. If he does that, irrespective of what may have been said; if that gesture were made I believe the hon. the Prime Minister will really have made a contribution to national unity.
Finally I would say this, that if that step were taken, it is my earnest hope the Prime Minister will take a step which, on his own showing, in a reply he gave to me to a question a few days ago—if he takes that step I hope he will take the further step that when such a convention takes place the non-Euro-Dean people of this country will have been fully consulted so that they, too, may consider themselves to be consenting parties to the South African State as it will be. If the Prime Minister will do that then he will convince me of his sincerity. But I fear that he will take the path which the Nationalist Party has, unfortunately, so often taken in the past; the path of saying: “The power rests in our hands, we are going to put this through, you can lump it or leave it.”
Mr. Speaker, before I say anything, particularly in regard to South West Africa, I should like to reply briefly to a few statements made by the hon. member for Springs (Mr. Tucker). The hon. member for Springs apparently got the idea about a Convention from the hon. member for Constantia (Mr. Waterson). I want to say that a Convention is only convened when there is no Parliament. Where there is a parliament and it is representative of your provinces and the nation, a Convention is absolutely redundant. For example, I cannot see how we can have a Convention which is more representative of the people of South Africa than this Parliament. The hon. member also expressed the fear that when we are a republic we shall no longer have the close co-operation in the Commonwealth which we had previously. I want to say this to him. There are other republican countries that are members of the Commonwealth and they have close contact and work in close co-operation in the Commonwealth. Why cannot that happen in the case of South Africa, or does the party of that hon. member suffer from an inferior complex?
The hon. member also referred to an idea expressed by the Prime Minister at Sea Point when he said that if we lost the referendum, we would continue with our endeavours to establish a republic. The hon. member for Springs is apparently under the impression that that greatly influenced the electorate of South Africa. I do not deny that but what I do want to say is that we did not employ the reprehensible methods which the United Party employed during the referendum campaign. Here I have an issue of one of the official publications of the United Party and I just want to read the heading. This is what will happen to South Africa if we become a republic, according to them. It is the Suid-Wes-Afrikaner of 4 October 1960 and it says this: “Black hordes will swoop down on women and children under a republic.” That was said by one of the leaders of the United Party in South West Africa. Adv. M. J. Kritzinger. But in spite of this threat the majority of the electorate in South West Africa voted for a republic.
Having listened to the speeches during the past few days, it seems that members of the Opposition are of the opinion that we are committing a great crime in trying to establish a republic. This intention of ours has been attacked in the strongest language and you would think, Sir, that we were moving heaven and earth and that South Africa would shortly disintegrate. I want hon. members to look beyond South Africa for a moment. They are slightly out of step; they are somewhat off course; they are out of fashion and if they continue in that way they will eventually be out of this House. When you study the other nations of the world, you find this interesting fact, that where the first republic was established some 20 centuries ago, only 5 per cent of people of the world belong to monarchies to-day. The only monarchies to-day are Britain with its 50,000,000 people and then you have the people of the Commonwealth countries, Denmark with her 4,000,000, Greece with her 5,000,000, Holland with her 11,000,000, Norway with her 3,500,000 and Sweden with her 7,000,000. It is, therefore, a very small percentage of the population of the world which falls under monarchies and it is peculiar to note that all those nations who still have monarchies are the old decrepit nations of the world, nations which played an important role centuries ago but which are today on the decline. I have in mind, for example, the glorious roles played by countries such as Holland, Norway and Greece and the role played by Britain all those countries, however, are on the decline because we are living in a period in which world history is made and where the political development of nations is based on republican forms of government. The word republic is derived from the Latin words res publicae, matters concerning the nation, and that is in actual fact the spirit of the modern concept of government that the people themselves should have a part in it. Where we are dealing in this modern century with nations which have their origin in colonial countries we find a definite pattern of political development. The pattern is this that where such a new nation such new state came into being as a colony, the first political division we find is between the old imperialist idea and the new nationalism which is centred in that colony. As long as a country is still engaged in that struggle, it is immature. That is the stage of childhood, because the citizen who is born in the new fatherland simply cannot understand why his father or his grandfather is so attached to his original fatherland, and something like fraternal discord develops between them. Such a political division in a country usually gives rise to a bitter struggle, but when you reach the next stage of political maturity, a stage where everyone is national minded and everyone puts South Africa or Brritian first, as the case may be, your political division is automatically on a higher plain. It is then no longer concerned with matters in respect of which it is necessary to jump at each other’s throats; then it becomes a question of method only. That is the political division which we should strive for in South Africa. We should not fight with one another simply because the one is still attached to his “home” and the other to his own hearth; everyone should say: South Africa is my only fatherland, we differ only on the question of the method of government.
It is interesting to note that all the leading countries of the world are republics to-day. Think of America, France and Egypt for example; countries which are all making history in the next century. They are all republics. There are many cases where monarchies have changed into republics, but I have never as yet heard of a case where a republic has turned back into a monarchy, because that would be a retrogressive step. A spirit of republicanism permeates the whole world. Particularly now that we have a great number of intermarriages between members of Royal families and commoners, monarchies are dying out. I think of what the English author, H. G. Wells, wrote in the Socialist Leader (1946). He wrote: Half a century ago I was the only republican. Now the whole world is turning republican. I predict that within the next 100 years not a single monarchy will remain.
But even within the ranks of the United Party there are people who are strong republicans. Unfortunately the monarchists in that party are busy leading the leader from behind, but they are also leading him backwards. The hon. member for Hillbrow (Dr. Steenkamp) who is conspicuous by his absence, for example, made the following interesting statement. It appeared in the Argus of 4 May 1957 and read as follows:
Is that not a spontaneous admission that there are republicans within the ranks of that party? But to-day they are muzzled. We have various members over there. We have the hon. member for Pretoria (Rissik) (Mr. de Kock). He is a republican but he dare not say so, because if he does he will die by the party sword. Article 2 of their programme of principles leaves a special loophole for people within the ranks of the party to make propaganda for a republic. The interesting fact is that repeated efforts have been made by a section of that party to delete that article, but the other section of the party has always been so strong that they have not succeeded and that republican article still stands to-day.
The word “Republic” does not appear there.
The hon. member for Wolmaransstad (Mr. G. P. van den Berg) made a very interesting statement the other day. The United Party wanted the non-Whites to take part in the referendum and he asked them this: Assuming 90 per cent of the Whites had voted in favour of the Republic but the non-Whites had voted against it, and that had resulted in a majority in favour of a monarchy, what would the United Party have done? Would they have carried out the will of the 90 per cent Whites or that of the non-Whites? I know what the reply of the hon. member for Queenstown (Dr. Steytler) will be. His reply will be that if the Bantu had come to a decision and the majority of them were against a republic, he too would be against a republic. He is at least honest, but what does the United Party say? You can only adduce from the remarks they make what their attitude would have been, Sir, I notice that the Leader of the United Party in South West Africa said the following according to the Suid-wes Afrikaner of 18 March 1960—
In other words, the Leader of the United Party in South West Africa was convinced that the non-Whites would vote against a republic, and he was prepared to accept that majority even if the Whites of South West Africa and of the Union voted in favour of a republic. It is interesting to note that that is the attitude of the United Party namely that it does not matter what the White people want in South Africa, the question is what do the non-Whites want and to give way to them; but what the White people desire is of no consequence whatsoever.
South West Africa made an important contribution to the referendum and South West Africa carried a specific responsibility in this important matter concerning the political future of South Africa. As far as we are concerned a republic in South Africa does not only symbolize our attainment of real freedom, but to us it also holds out the prospect of unity; firstly, unity not only between the various racial groups in South Africa and South West Africa, but to us it is also indicative of unity within the Union. We have a large German-speaking community in South West Africa, nearly 22 per cent. They have never been pro-monarchists. They have always been republicans and it has always been difficult for them to accept the fact that they were governed by or had to subject themselves to a monarchy a monarchy which meant nothing to them. We also have the very big Afrikaans-speaking community of nearly 70 per cent who are pro-republican. We also have a 8 per cent English-speaking section, people who have been living there for a long time and who regard South West Africa as their only fatherland. That was why South West Africa regarded it as an honour to participate in the referendum and to commemorate the result in favour of the referendum. We in South West Africa have always held the view that if the English-speaking section were allowed to bring its monarchy to South Africa, the German-speaking section should also be allowed to bring their Kaiser and the Turks their Sultan and what Babel-like confusion would not have followed if every national group had the right to introduce his symbol of loyalty in this country. That is why we regard the establishment of a republic in South Africa as creating something which can be loved equally by everyone. The republic can be equally holy to the German-speaking, the English-speaking and the Afrikaans-speaking person and if we are all republicans we can all reach out our hands to each other, something which has been impossible in the past.
The establishment of a republic has another great meaning for us in South West Africa. We regarded the decisive victory attained in the referendum as a demonstration to the world outside that South West Africa and the Union were one country, one nation, indivisible from one another. Had the United Party not conducted this referendum on a political basis, I can assure you, Sir, the result would have been even greater in our favour. But because the United Party advised their followers to vote on a political basis, they blinded those followers. The United Party focused their attention on the small things in order to blind them to the major issues. It is of great importance to South West Africa that it can form part of this republic because as the position was in the past we had lived under the sword of uncertainty. The world did not realize that it was our desire to become part of the Union, and the White man in South West Africa carries such heavy responsibilities that it is impossible for him to continue as in the past. It is impossible for us to develop the country the way we wish to develop it, and because we cannot do so, we cannot discharge our obligations toward the non-White people; we as their guardians cannot help them to develop in every respect as we should like them to develop. That is why we in South West Africa trust that, with the establishment of a republic in South Africa, of which we will form part, we will get closer to our fellow-citizens in the Union; that will continue to develop and that nothing will be placed in our way, so that the unity which we envisage will be attained all the sooner.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member who has just resumed his seat tried to make political capital by referring to this particular clause in our constitution, but I want to tell him that the word “Republic” is not mentioned anywhere. If he had done his homework better he would have known that this party at its Union congresses declared itself in regard to a change in the form of Government as long ago as 1954, when the merits of whether South Africa should become a republic or retain the present form of government were fully discussed, and it was decided as a matter of policy that it would not be in the interests of South Africa to change the form of government. That is the factual position, and as the hon. member has not been the only one to refer to this clause, I hope that other members who may hope to do so, will state the position correctly.
Will you then explain what that clause really means?
The hon. member for Somerset East (Mr. Vosloo) put a similar question to me at a public meeting in his constituency and on that occasion I took the full opportunity to explain to the hon. gentleman precisely what it means, and I am surpised that he now puts the same question across the floor of the House.
Answer me now, seeing that you could not reply then.
The hon. member who has just sat down referred to the tremendous benefits that South West Africa will obtain as a mandated territory of the republic, and he referred to the position of the non-White minorities there. Let me tell him that if the Prime Minister in the referendum had taken the opportunity of in some measure at least consulting the Coloured voters of the country, the impressions created abroad and at UN would certainly have been far more favourable to South Africa.
But I have risen to deal with a particular speech that was made in this debate, one of the most important speeches that have come from the Government benches. I refer to the speech of the hon. the Minister of Finance, whose observations have completely been ignored by speakers on the Government benches, and I wonder why. I want to deal with that speech in detail because the Minister of Finance said he did not want to deal with debating points, but with fundamentals, the fundamentals of national unity. Having made his position quite clear with respect to a republic in South Africa he then proceeded to deal with these fundamentals, which he claimed were vital for the future of our country as a united nation. But to whom was the Minister of Finance talking? Was he talking to the Opposition or to members on Government benches? Sir, the Minister of Finance did not only have us in these benches in his thoughts, or the back-benchers of the Government. I think he was talking to the hon. the Prime Minister. He placed his thoughts before the Prime Minister, and it is therefore necessary that we should test the observations made by the hon. the Minister. I think that what we should also do is to test the observations of the Minister of Finance against the sincerity of the remarks made by the Prime Minister when introducing this measure to the House. I think it is necessary to do so. Let me say immediately that I do not wish to throw doubt on the sincerity of the Minister of Finance when he made that speech. I am prepared to accept that he was sincere in presenting his five fundamentals for national unity, his charter of hope for national unity. The Minister of Finance is one of the political leaders of his party, the leader in the Cape. The points of agreement he was seeking, these fundamentals are also points of political difference between the parties, and not only between the parties but apparently, on consideration of what the Minister of Finance had to say in regard to his programme for national unity, points of difference between him and the Prime Minister. [Interjections.] Hon. members laugh, but I will illustrate point by point—and I have the permission of the Minister of Finance to use his Hansard—where the Minister of Finance disagrees with the Prime Minister. To illustrate the difference in approach between the speech of the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister, the latter was at great pains to emphasize the sacrifices made by one part of our nation, the Afrikaans-speaking section. I want to be quite fair to the Prime Minister. He said this, and I quote his words as I noted them—
Then the Prime Minister proceeded to outline the sacrifices. The first was the type of republic. He said that the fact that he and his party were prepared to accept a republic with a parliamentary system of government was a sacrifice.
Hon. members say it is nonsense, but I challenge them to show me where I am misrepresenting. Sacrifice No. 2 was the type of President. In other words, it was a sacrifice that the type of President is not one who will be elected by the people, or the type of President elected on the principle of the old republics, but he will be a President elected by Parliament, who will have no executive authority but will merely be the nominal Head of State.
Business suspended at 6.30 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, when business was suspended, I had stated that I was going to direct my remarks to the speech made by the hon. the Minister of Finance. Those remarks by the hon. the Minister of Finance were, in my view. Sir, not directed so much to this side of the House as to the hon. the Prime Minister. I had reached the point, Sir, where the hon. the Minister of Finance was dealing with the sacrifices referred to by the hon. the Prime Minister when he introduced this measure a couple of days ago. Let me quote the precise words of the hon. the Prime Minister to the House. In dealing with this question of the various sacrifices that he alleged the Afrikaans-speaking section of our community had made in the cause of achieving a republic, the hon. gentleman said this—
He goes on—
Then the hon. the Prime Minister dealt with the five sacrifices, great sacrifices as he termed them, namely (1) the type of republic, (2) the type of President—not an executive elected by the people but one determined by this House; (3) that the flag of our country remains as it is at present. Let me add, Sir, a flag hallowed by the blood of South Africans who died under it, not accepted in the tradition of our country and such to be honoured by our country, because when it was first set up it was a matter of political dispute. Sacrifice (4): Parliamentary ceremonial and (5) membership of the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister then went on to say this—
Heartburning to accept a flag, Mr. Speaker! A flag hallowed by the blood of South Africans.“It is hard for some of us to sacrifice these ideals” he said. The other great sacrifice which the hon. the Prime Mininster described as a “further price”, was too great a price to pay for national unity, the price of having an English-speaking member in his Cabinet. That was too great a price; too great a sacrifice. What I think. Sir. I as a South African, may not disturb the Prime Minister at all. What I think on these benches or what hon. members on this side think, may be of no concern or worry to the hon. the Prime Minister …
Tell us what you think about the hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell).
Mr. Speaker, I am not classified in one of the compartments of the Prime Minister's mind as an Afrikaner nor am I classified in the mind of the Prime Minister as an English-speaking South African who can become a member of the Nationalist Party. Therefore, Sir, my views are of no consequence whatsoever to the Prime Minister. What we collectively may think on these benches, as the official Opposition, may disturb him not at all, but I want to ask the Prime Minister with respect, Sir, whether he pays any attention to anything which any of his Ministers say in this House? I have noticed that the speech of the hon. the Minister of Finance has not received the slightest recognition from any hon. member on the Government benches. Let me remind the Prime Minister, Sir, of what the Minister of Finance had to say in the course of this debate. The Minister of Finance had this to say about the sacrifices referred to by the Prime Minister—
And what are we concerned with here, Mr. Speaker? We are dealing with the form of government, a constitution, for our country as a republic. Let me say to the hon. the Prime Minister that I share the same feelings as those expressed by the Minister of Finance. I share the same feeling of unreality when I listen to the Prime Minister. Has it ever occurred to the hon. the Prime Minister that there are thousands of citizens, thousands of good South Africans, no matter whether English-speaking or Afrikaans-speaking, who have considered themselves as nothing but true South Africans with only one love and loyalty, viz. their fatherland South Africa. As ridiculous it is to the Minister of Finance to talk about greater love for fatherland and about sacrifices, on an occasion such as this, as ridiculous is it to me. Let me say to the Prime Minister that I am certainly not prepared to be a “jabroer” to his way of thinking in respect of this matter. According to his speech, the hon. the Prime Minister considers that the English-speaking South Africans suffer from a certain impediment. Let me quote his words—
Has it ever occurred to the hon. gentleman, Sir, that there are many true South Africans who may think that the hon. the Prime Minister himself has a psychological impediment which prevents him from seeing South African people as they really are? May be that impediment as the hon. the Minister of Finance thinks, is prompted by his own background in respect of his own feelings and his own political philosophy.
Let me discuss with the hon. the Prime Minister the fundamentals for national unity laid down by the hon. the Minister of Finance. He has outlined them to us, Sir, and let me say that I am prepared to accept the sincerity of the fundamentals which the hon. the Minister of Finance laid down, as being the basis of true national unity. What I want to know and what I believe the country wants to know, however, and what I think hon. members on the Government benches want to know, is whether the hon. the Prime Minister himself accepts those fundamentals outlined by the Minister of Finance. You see, Mr. Speaker, it is important for us to know this because the Minister of Finance tried to lift the question of national unity out of the political arena. But let me say this that the questions the Prime Minister raised here were undoubtedly questions for party political consideration. I want to ask the Prime Minister in all sincerity whether he concurs that these fundamentals that were laid down by the Minister of Finance should be lifted out of the party political arena? What was the first fundamental laid down by the Minister? He said he considered that the retention of our membership of the Commonwealth was an issue that should not be made a point for party political differences. Sir, my Leader, before, during and after the referendum and in this debate has stressed that fact that an issue vital to the security of our country, should not be dragged into the party political arena. In this amendment of ours to the motion of the Prime Minister for the second reading of this Bill, we ask for precisely the same thing. We have now again heard from the hon. the Minister of Finance that it is a question that should be above party politics in the national interests. I would like to know, with respect, from the hon. the Prime Minister whether he agrees with that. Does he agree with this contention of the Minister of Finance that this issue should be lifted out of the political arena and that it should be beyond party politics? The hon. the Prime Minister does not show me the courtesy of acknowledging me. But if he does, and I take it that he probably supports those views, how does he reconcile that with the views that he has expressed in this House that one of the reasons he asks for a republic and for membership, is because he wishes to make a gesture to the so-called English-speaking sentiment in our country. He gives it as a political reason, as a concession, as a sacrifice to the so-called English-speaking sentiment here. The hon. Minister of Finance does not say that; he says that it should be a question beyond party politics. The hon. the Prime Minister makes a political concession out of it.
The hon. gentleman is going to bat for South Africa overseas on this issue, but I want to suggest to him, if I may take the homily of the Minister of Finance a little bit further, that before he goes in to bat he considers his tactics and as far as I am concerned the best tactic before he makes that journey, will be to drop this matter in Parliament until we have the assurance we want to have in the interests of our country.
There is the second point, the second fundamental, the Charter of Hope for national unity, outlined by the Minister of Finance. He said that all wished to preserve South Africa’s economic security. He said this—
Those were the words of a man who holds the most responsible position to ensure the economic security of our country. May I ask the hon. the Prime Minister whether he agrees with those sentiments? I ask again, Sir: Does the Prime Minister agree with the sentiment that our economic security should be placed above party politics? Well, Sir, I assume he does because I cannot imagine the Prime Minister denying his own Minister of Finance in this respect. Then I want to ask the Prime Minister this: Why did he make our economic security during the referendum campaign a matter of party political dispute?
You did that.
Why did the hon. the Prime Minister make himself guilty of sabotaging the confidence of overseas investors in the economic security of our country? It was the Prime Minister, Sir, who at Groblersdal said that organized industry and commerce in our country were sabotaging the economy of South Africa for political ends in their opposition to a republic.
Where do you get that?
When the Prime Minister of a country gets up and says to the world at large that organized commerce and industry is prepared for political ends to sabotage the economy of that country, what is the impression left with overseas investors? But the Prime Minister went even further at Groblersdal. He told his audience that they must not listen to English-speaking business leaders because they were only intent upon sabotaging the republic, they must trust only Afrikaans-speaking businessmen. If there is any doubt as to the truth of what I am saying, I would refer hon. members to the report which appeared in the Transvaler of 4 July 1960 of the Prime Minister’s speech in which he accused the businessmen of South Africa as follows, according to this report—
And is that how you translate “certain businessmen”?
I wonder, Sir, if the hon. the Prime Minister realizes the damage done overseas to the prestige of South African industry in the eyes of the overseas investor. I wonder, Sir, if what the hon. the Minister of Finance had to say—and I will quote his words in a moment—were intended as warning to the Prime Minister. I regret that the hon. the Minister is not here because I would like to ask him when he outlined this idea, whether it was intended as a warning to the Prime Minister that he should drop his idea of placing our future economic stability in an ideological strait-jacket with his visions of industries on the borders of Bantustans. Was that what he meant when he said that we should not rock the boat of economic security. Time does not permit me to deal in detail with one or two of the other points raised by the Minister of Finance. However, I want to stop for a minute at his fifth point, namely, the Charter of Hope for national unity in South Africa, when he has asked what we could do to create the right climate for national unit. He said that there should be no recriminations or reproaches. It seems to me, Sir, that it is a little late in the day to come with such a homily. If the form of government was so vital to national unity, may I ask where at any time was an approach made to the official Opposition by the Prime Minister to consider the future form of government of our country. Every vital issue, if the Prime Minister considered it advisable in order to make some political capital out of it, has been turned into a matter of party political dispute. The Minister emphasized the necessity for absolute sincerity in approaching this issue of the change of our form of government. If the Prime Minister was sincere in wishing to make the proposed constitution an act to be referred for all time by all our people, irrespective of their race or colour, he would have attempted to find a measure of agreement or at least obtained the views of the other sections or the views of the other members of his own party. The acid test as to the sincerity of the Prime Minister in the views which he expressed when he introduced this debate—and he should answer this when he replies to the debate—is this: Will the hon. the Prime Minister declare solemnly, when he replies, that he will bind his party not to disturb those essentials as will be written by this Parliament into the Bill before us now for a constitution for the South African republic? Will the Prime Minister give us a solemn declaration on behalf of his party that he will bind himself to those provisions? I have in mind. Sir. the sacrifice referred to by the Prime Minister in regard to the flag itself. The Prime Minister said that it was a sacrifice for them to accept the flag in its present form. But we in South Africa want to know whether we will be given a solemn pledge that the flag, bought by the blood of South Africans, will remain undisturbed for future generations to revere.
The hon. the Prime Minister in dealing with the preamble to this Bill before us declared himself dissatisfied with that preamble. He said it was not dynamic enough; it did not indicate the new set-up that we were going to have of national unity; it was somewhat colourless; it meant very little to too many people. Sir, let me tell hon. members on those benches that in this Bill that is before them, the hon. the Prime Minister, in introducing it, has even ignored the wishes of his own party members. What my Leader has asked for in the way of guarantees is denied in that preamble; the Bill denies what his own Republican Congress called for when it met in Bloemfontein in August of last year, a Congress specially called to determine the new outline of the proposed republic. What did that resolution moved by the hon. the Minister for Finance, ask for? It asked for certain facts to be written into this constitution, guarantees, brakes. Let me quote to the hon. the Prime Minister and to hon. members who may have conveniently forgotten the terms of this resolution which bind them as National Party members to their party congress. [Interjections.] Yes, it was moved by the hon. the Minister of Finance. I see the hon. Minister of Transport is laughing, but he was there; he knows of it. The resolution asked the following—
It was proposed by the Minister of Finance at their Republican Congress at Bloemfontein. It may have been seconded by the hon. the Minister of Transport, I am not sure.
Where is that in this Bill, Mr. Speaker? Where is it anywhere in this preamble? I would like the hon. the Prime Minister to state in his reply why the request of his own Congress was not inscribed in this Bill for the new South African constitution? It was carried unanimously. It states that the freedom and the rights of all citizens will be respected so that the world will know what the basis of the new South African State is; a State where there will be a place in the sun for all men, irrespective of their colour or race; a State which will be a living example to the world and where men of varying race and colour can co-operate for the common good of our country.
Finally, Sir, I wish to turn my thoughts to the imminent dangers which face us in Africa. The Minister of Finance dealt with this question albeit a bit briefly. The Minister of Finance was greatly disturbed about the trend of events in Africa. He issued a word of warning to us. He said—
I agree with him, Sir. Was the Minister talking to us or to the hon. the Prime Minister? This side of the House is fully aware of the great dangers which beset our country north of the Limpopo. But we will not alleviate that danger by creating the impression in the minds of millions of non-Whites in the emergent non-White States in Africa, that the republic which we are going to have will be a republic of racial oppression. That, Sir, will not protect us against the dangers that threaten us in Africa. Surely, Sir, the road which we are now walking will lead to the very dangers of which the hon. the Minister of Finance is afraid. He would not lightly have given a warning of the nature which he did. Must I ask again, Sir, were these words intended as a warning to us or as a warning to the hon. the Prime Minister to depart from the ideological road which he has followed over the past two years? The Minister talks about frittering away the last few precious moments left to us. He obviously does not see a permanent solution to our problems in the ideological ideas of the Prime Minister. Why did he not go further and lay down the essential points for national unity, the most essential factor if we are to survive as a White race in this country? There should be a measure of co-operation on the ground of preserving the White man and treating the non-White races of our country with fairness and honesty so that they can also have their place in the sun.
Mr. Speaker, my time has practically expired. May I conclude with this and I direct it particularly as a South African to the hon. the Prime Minister. The hon. the Minister of Finance quoted a little verse to us towards the end of his speech. May I be permitted to quote to the Prime Minister another poet. May be the Prime Minister has never heard these words. I say to the hon. the Prime Minister in the words of a poet of long ago—
Let me say to the hon. the Prime Minister: I do not need a republic of his ideology or of his making to make me a better South African.
Mr. Speaker, I should like to open my contribution to this debate with the words which the hon. member who has just sat down used to close his speech, i.e. the words of Sir Walter Scott, the famous poet. As hon. members have said during the debate this afternoon, there are many Afrikaans-speaking people who have the greatest regard for the literature of English and other languages and appreciate fully that we originate from overseas countries. In the literature of those languages we see reflected the soul of the peonies from which we originate. A preat philosopher once said:“A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up to a life beyond life.” I want to open my contribution to this serious debate with these words. It will be to the benefit of all of us not to break our links, nor to lose touch with the countries of our origin, with the culture, with the civilization and the philosophy of life which have been built up in the countries of our origin. It will be to the benefit of us all if we can apply that principle as a united people in our fatherland.
Mr. Speaker, it is strange that it is precisely we on this side who have so often had to remind our hon. friends opposite of these important words by Sir Walter Scott—
We on this side of the House feel that this Bill which is now before us represents the fulfilment and the spirit of this dictum of Sir Walter Scott, because we want to root the soul of every Afrikaner—Afrikaansand English-speaking—in the soil of South Africa. We want to ask every son and daughter:“Breathes there a man with a soul so dead, who never to himself has said, this is my own native land.”
Now, Mr. Speaker, against that background, the background formed by these words with which the hon. member concluded his speech so movingly, we have had a refrain during this debate, as we have had throughout the years I have been in this Parliament, to the effect that we should not ask in the first instance what is in the interests of South Africa, but that we should always ask first what the world outside will think of us and what they will say about us. That is the essential difference between hon. members opposite and us on these benches.
I do not want to take the submission I have made any further. In addition to the premise that we in South Africa want to root ourselves in our own soil, hon. members have repeatedly referred to the fact that we wish to develop a nation along our own lines as a White community. Hon. members opposite have opposed that principle ever since it was asked for the first time in the political history of South Africa that we should at all times put South Africa first. It took years before hon. members opposite accepted that principle. The hon. member who has just sat down spoke here with great feeling, and I respect that feeling. I respect a man who adopts a standpoint in the light of his own convictions. We are all entitled to our own opinions. We all have the right to have an opinion and to tell one another what our opinions are and this is the place where we should do so. The hon. member who has just sat down has spoken of “a flag coloured with the blood of the sons of South Africa”. I respect a man who went to fight on the basis of his convictions. I respect an Afrikaner such as Christiaan de Wet who in the light of his convictions faced death in order to make South Africa a republic. I have just as much respect for them. When the Flag Act which provided for the flag which everyone respects so greatly, was introduced, a bitter struggle arose in this Parliament. Long years of struggle elapsed before we could hoist that flag which we all love so greatly to-day throughout South Africa as the symbol of South Africa’s own nationhood. It took years before hon. members opposite accepted it.
There are many other things which I could mention, but they have already been mentioned and I shall not repeat what has been said. But, Mr. Speaker, it is strange that many of the things which we on this side of the House have advocated have eventually been adopted and that they are eventually not only adopted but embraced by Opposition members as being their own property. Allow me to tell them to-day that as long as they accept them, even if it is only two or three years later, we are not dissatisfied. We are thankful that they accept these things, as they have accepted the flag, the flag which the hon. member now loves so greatly.
I want to turn to the second point the hon. member has made. Why has he put the matter in this way? The Prime Minister rose and explained his whole attitude in very clear terms, in English and in Afrikaans. He made it clear that there were people who were asking him and this side of the House: Why do you not prove your good faith by accepting an English-speaking person as a member of your Cabinet? That is the question which the hon. member has asked. [Interjections.] The question has now been put once again. The Prime Minister has been accused of refusing to accept an English-speaking person as a member of his Cabinet.
On a point of explanation, Mr. Speaker, I asked whether the hon. the Prime Minister did not regard it as right that for the sake of national unity he should take an English-speaking person into his Cabinet.
I am in a most friendly mood. That is exactly what the hon. member said, but the implication of his remark is that if the hon. the Prime Minister is prepared to make other sacrifices, why is he not prepared for the sake of national unity to make this sacrifice as well. The implication is that he does not want an English-speaking person as a member of his Cabinet simply because such a person is English-speaking; that he is not prepared to make that sacrifice. I emphatically refute that implication and every right-minded person will do so as well. The Prime Minister has given a very clear and frank explanation. He has asked how he can find such a member for his Cabinet. He can do so in one or two ways. He must either accept a coalition government, in which case he would have to take members of another party into his Cabinet, or he would have to have a pact government in which case he would take other people into his Cabinet. Under the present parliamentary system he must take people into his Cabinet who belong to his party. He then said: There are no English-speaking people here whom I can take into my Cabinet. He also pointed out how embittered hon. members and the Press outside were when one English-speaking person—and I am referring to the Springbok Frank Waring—dared publicly to support the National Party. Then such a person is attacked with the utmost venom and bitterness.
Why has he not been appointed to the Senate?
That hon. member is one of those who has been the most guilty in this regard. I now go further and I want to say this. The hon. the Prime Minister went further and said that if it was imperative that he should give evidence of his good faith towards the English-speaking people, to take an English-speaking person into the Cabinet, does the same requirement not apply to the Opposition as well? Why have they over the years never appointed an English-speaking person as leader of their party?
It makes no difference to us.
Why have they had so little regard for the English-speaking people of South Africa that ever since the earliest days, ever since Gen. Botha, they have never made an English-speaking person leader of their party? They have had capable people.
We recognize no difference.
I repeat it and I ask hon. members to note the psychological aspect: If we must show our good faith by taking an English-speaking person into the Cabinet, why have they at no time since 1910 appointed a capable English-speaking person as leader of their party?
The hon. member has referred to “unreality”. He created the impression that we were being unrealistic. I want to give the hon. member credit for the fact that when he accused us of”unreality”, the “reality” became so clear that it was quite obvious to me that he was merely running away and dragging a branch behind, as the bushvelders say, in an attempt to cover up the dispute which arose last night and which came to light to-day as a result of the statement by the hon. member for South Coast. He wanted to cover their retreat from that statement and to pretend that a difference of opinion exists between the hon. the Minister of Finance and the hon. the Prime Minister. Allow me to say now that he used a dry branch which failed to cover up their tracks and for a long time to come he and the United Party will see these tracks stretching across the desert of South Africa in which they will spend many long years. We have been faced with this problem in the case of the Opposition for all these years. We had irrefutable proof of it this afternoon when the hon. member for South Coast rose and said:“We reject the republic” while the hon. the Leader of the Opposition who sat next to him made a solemn statement and said:“We accept the mandate”—that is the difficulty we have had with the Opposition over all these years. And then the Leader of the Opposition also says:“In reality we agree.” Has our political life in South Africa descended to that level? Where will we end with such a state of affairs? Here we have two statements by two leaders of the same party who sit practically next to one another, and the one says “I reject the republic” and the other says:“I accept the mandate” given by the referendum. Then they rise with a simpering smile and say:“Do you now see how we agree with one another?”. This is turning our political life into a farce. In this regard, I just want to say this, and then I shall be finished with the hon. member for Turffontein. He has said in general terms:“There should be a place in the sun for all men, no matter of what colour or race.” This is a general proposition, but he is co-operating with people who have further defined that proposition. The hon. member for Queenstown also says that there should be a place in the sun for everyone, irrespective of race and colour, and the hon. member for Queenstown says so with all honesty and clarity. He also says that by this he means that he will give everyone equal franchise rights on a basis of education, on a basis of civilization. He and his party state that quite clearly. But the hon. the Leader of the Opposition (Sir de Villiers Graaff) plays with the issue just as he did during the referendum. He comes here and says that the Coloureds should have been allowed to vote at the referendum. If it is then his attitude that the Coloureds should have been allowed to vote at the referendum, then I want to ask him whether he will go further and state that, in accordance with the legislation of his previous leader, Gen. Smuts, the Indians should also have been allowed to vote at the referendum? I want to ask the hon. member for South Coast, the United Party leader in Natal, whether he will support the contention that the Indians should also have voted at the referendum? And may I ask the hon. member for Florida (Mr. H. G. Swart) what he thinks about that suggestion? He and I come from the same place and we are sons of the same town, and he is the Free State leader of his party and I am the Free State leader of my party. He held a Natal seat in the Senate and he is now here in the House of Assembly. Does he agree with the contention that because the Indians were given the franchise under the old United Party Government, that franchise should also be restored? Is this one of the things which they want to write into the new constitution of South Africa?
Mr. Speaker, I have now been a member of this House for nearly 25 years. Adv. Strauss came here with me as a young man in 1932. Since then I have participated in many debates in this House, and I cannot think of any matter which has been discussed during those nearly 25 years which has been of such importance to South Africa and her future as this constitution which we are now discussing. This matter affects all aspects of our political life, and we as members of the House of Assembly and of the Senate represent the personification of our political life. Because this legislation affects all aspects of our political life, it affects the future of our people and our fatherland in the fullest sense of the word. All hon. members will surely agree with that. In this regard we are surely on common ground. I now want to add that it not only affects our political development, but our very existence as well, our very future, because it embodies two essential requirements for our national development. In the first place it deals with our relationships with the world. What we do or do not do here will determine the future relationship between South Africa and the outside world. In the second place, it will not only determine our relationship with the outside world, but also the mutual relationships between all the population groups in our country both for to-day and the future. And because I regard this as such a serious matter which affects our relationships with the world and our mutual relationships in South Africa, I am glad that an appeal was made from the Chair at the beginning of this debate that this debate should be held in a calm atmosphere, and atmosphere of deliberation which I believe befits us all and is essential at this hour of decision for our people. This applies to all sides of the House.
As far as the National Party is concerned, this question of establishing a republic in South Africa is not something new. Over the years we have made it unequivocally clear in our programme of principles that this is our policy and we have unambiguously advocated it over all these years. Over the years we have always heard the refrain.“Oh, this question of a republic is something which they are holding out to you in order to catch your votes; they will never get as far as establishing the republic.” There are hon. members sitting here, such as the hon. member for Bloemfontein, who have sat with me over the years and who have observed the proceedings of Parliament objectively, and they can confirm that we have heard that argument all through these years.
Before going any further, I want to express my appreciation of the way in which the hon. the Prime Minister has handled this matter ever since he first raised it in this Parliament. He has dealt with the question of South Africa becoming a republic not in a spirit of bitterness, not in a spirit of antagonism, but in a spirit of genuine love for South Africa. I have once again read the speech which he made last year, and in this speech I find the same calm approach, the same appeal to us to discuss at least this matter in an atmosphere which is worthy of its importance. When he introduced the Bill, the hon. member for Kensington (Mr. Moore) listened to him attentively. He does not agree with the hon. the Prime Minister. He has taken his stand against the republic, but everyone in this House has the highest respect for the way in which the hon. the Prime Minister has approached this matter. The way in which he has done so has earned him the respect of members of this House, of South Africa and of the world, and it will earn the respect to an even greater extent of the historians who will write the history of South Africa. I just want to discuss his attitude because much has been said about attitudes. Hon. members have repeatedly discussed the attitude of this side of the House and of hon. members opposite. Even our attitude towards national unity has become a bone of discord. Hon. members have asked who are the people who are really striving for “national unity” in South Africa. To show what the attitude of this side of the House and of the Prime Minister is, I want to read again what the hon. the Prime Minister said on 20 January last year when he raised the question of our becoming a republic for the first time. He said—
A year ago he gave South Africa notice that this had now become a matter of practical politics, and he gave notice to South Africa to the outside world and to everyone who supports or opposes this ideal, and he said it was now a matter of practical politics. He went on to say—
I ask every member of this House personally to-night with all the earnestness at my disposal: Is there one single member of Parliament who does not agree that it is right for a Prime Minister to say and to do this;“It is my intention on this occasion to ask for the confidence of the people of South Africa.” No one can object to this submission. Otherwise he cannot say he is a democrat who believes in government by the people. The hon. the Prime Minister went further—
Why did hon. members not object at that time? Why, now that the referendum has been won, are they objecting to-day to what the Prime Minister announced a year ago, namely that he was going to ask for the confidence of the people by way of a referendum, by a method of voting which South Africa had never used before, where everyone would vote in every constituency, and then the result would show what the voters of South Africa wanted. But a year ago he was already saying that he was also going to ask for the confidence of this Parliament. The people have given their confidence by an overwhelming majority.
The hon. member for South Coast has said here: Just look at Natal’s achievement. Natal wiped out the combined republican majorities of the Transvaal, the Cape and South West Africa, and he then argued that because Natal had done that, we should now do what Natal wants.
That was the implication of his words, because otherwise why did he mention it? If that is what he meant, then I want to tell him as a Free Stater that the Free State overshadowed all the others with its majority so that we had a final majority in South Africa as a whole of 75,000 in favour of a republic. What right does Natal then have to say that we should listen to it? The hon. the Prime Minister went further on 20 January last year and stated specifically—
Here then was a great opportunity for all parties to say whether or not they were going to participate in the referendum. Seeing that the hon. member for South Coast now rejects the result of the referendum and does not want to abide by it, and seeing that he wants to make his own laws, I ask him why he did not adopt this attitude before the referendum. Why did he take part in the referendum? Why did he not say that Natal did not want anything to do with it?
I did say so.
I want to be fair to the hon. member for South Coast. He admits that he said Natal should not participate, but they did not want to listen to him because Natal did participate. Allow me to tell the hon. member very courteously that they do not want to listen to him to-day either. They will not reject the republic; they will form part of the Republic of South Africa, and if he wants to continue as Leader of the United Party in Natal, he will also have to form part of the republic, and if he wishes to be loyal to his leader and to the attitude which has been adopted in various quarters, he will also have to be loyal to the republic.
I now want to analyse the position. During this debate hon. members have repeatedly put this question, a question which has already been discussed for years: Who of the hon. members sitting here, those who sit on this side of the House, or those who sit opposite, are really the people who are striving for “national unity”. We have already been discussing this matter of national unity for all the years that I have sat in this House. I now want to say this: The people who speak of “national unity” should at least know what “unity” is because if they do not know what “unity” is, what can they tell us about “national unity”? And look at their position to-day. When the debate began, hon. members opposite were divided into four groups, the United Party, the Progressive Party, the Coloured Representatives and the Independents. But I am now leaving the Independents on one side. Despite the Inttemess they have experienced, the Coloured Representatives are still united because they have moved the same amendment and adopted the same attitude. As regards the Progressive Party, we on this side differ fundamentally from their policy. But we now have an additional division, namely the division between the Leader of the Opposition and the United Party leader of Natal. The one group accepts the republic and the other does not. That has been proved beyond all doubt this afternoon and the hon. the Leader of the Opposition must not start feeling uneasy. He is jointly responsible for this position because he expected that they would win the referendum, and the hon. member for Natal (South Coast) also expected that they would win. They did not expect to lose and now they are arguing about the matter because they have lost, and because they do not agree in this regard. I now say that the apostles of national unity should at least be able to maintain unity in their own ranks. If they cannot maintain a greater degree of unity in their own ranks, it is surely impossible for them to bring about national unity. But the Opposition have failed in that respect during this debate.
We now turn to the policy of the United Party. In 1953 their party discussed this matter of a republic. At that time the hon. member for Rondebosch (Sir de Villiers Graaff) was not yet leader of the United Party. At a congress in Natal the question of a republic was discussed, and this was the reply of the then Leader, Mr. Strauss—
But if that is so what does it matter to the hon. member whether we are inside or outside the Commonwealth? After all he is going to fight it in any case. What right does he then have to say that he is going to fight it in every respect, whether the republic is inside or outside the Commonwealth? He is opposed in principle to the republic and he is fighting it. Now that he has opposed the establishment of a republic, he wants to dictate to those of us who support the republic what the proposed republic should look like. Seeing that he is opposed to the republic under all circumstances, what right does he have to do that? What moral right does the hon. member have to do so? But on that same occasion, another Natalian, Mr. Heaton Nicholls, put this question to Mr. Strauss—
And here is the reply as recorded in the Star—
“And so say all of us.” Seeing that this has been their policy since 1953 and seeing that they have not changed their constitution one iota, what right do they now have to adopt such a lofty moral attitude in this House? In 1953, in accordance with this same provision in their constitution they said—
This, they said, was the policy of the United Party, but the republican clause in their constitution remained unchanged. What have they now done? They have actually had the temerity to move amendments in this House and say that they are opposed to a republic and are going to remain so opposed but that they now lay down conditions after the referendum just as they did prior to the referendum. The condition they laid down prior to the referendum was:“First tell us that you will remain a member of the Commonwealth.” This was prior to the referendum and I would have expected the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, if he wished to approach the matter absolutely objectively from the point of view of South Africa’s interests, to have said what he is saying to-day before the referendum. The hon. the Prime Minister stated prior to the referendum that we would ask to remain in the Commonwealth. Did the hon. the Leader of the Opposition also state prior to the referendum that his party would join us in asking that whatever the result may be, we should remain in the Commonwealth?
Did you never read the speeches?
I read the hon. member’s speeches, but there must have been an error in the Press report of his meetings. I did not read on one single occasion that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, who feels so strongly about this matter now that the referendum is over, told the public of South Africa before the referendum: We are now going to vote on this matter, but we must not differ on one point. Whether we are monarchy or a republic, it is our common desire to remain in the commonwealth. I never heard that he had said that.
Then you were probably asleep.
If I perhaps did not see the report in which he said that, I want to ask whether the hon. member for Natal (South Coast) said that. No, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition will not get away with such untenable arguments.
On 22 March 1960, when this matter was discussed, the Leader of the Opposition rose and levelled this accusation at this side of the House: I believe that in your heart of hearts your aim is eventually to have a republic outside the Commonwealth.
The Prime Minister admits it.
The Leader of the Opposition said that he believed that in their heart of hearts the National Party aimed at eventually having a republic which would be outside the Commonwealth. He said that for that reason they would continue the struggle to maintain the present constitutional position in the Union of South Africa. But how does one reconcile that with the admission the hon. the Leader of the Opposition has made this afternoon and with their policy on this point which has remained unchanged since 1953, namely that it does not matter what form the republic takes, whether it be inside or outside the Commonwealth, they are opposed to it? How can a responsible man in South Africa reconcile these two principles?
When we are considering such important matters affecting the future of our country, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition should at least be consistent and he should not try to please everyone in the hope of possibly catching a few votes here and there. He has now moved his amendment containing certain conditions. The one relates to the matter I have now discussed, and the other is that there should be certain other guarantees. [Time limit.]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister of Education covered a rather wide field in the course of his speech. He touched on a number of subjects, and I feel it would be rather difficult to comment on all of them. There was, however, one passage on which I would like to make a brief comment. The hon. the Minuter devoted part of his speech to the question of national unity. Now I would say that it is not the question of national unity that is so important—it is the question of national harmony; not unity, but harmony. That is the fundamental question affecting us in South Africa. In that connection I should like to say at the outset that I agree wholeheartedly with the opinion expressed earlier to-day by the hon. member for Constantia (Mr. Waterson) when he was describing the attitude of the average English-sneaking South African to the republican question and when he said that despite the feelings which the average English-speaking person has with regard to the republic and despite his sentiments in favour of the monarchy, the average English-speaking person was willing to give up a very great deal for the sake of racial harmony. I agree with that wholeheartedly. In other words, now that the republic is being enacted, now that we are obviously going to have it in South Africa, what the average English-speaking person wants to do is to get the best deal that he can in the interest of racial harmony. For that he is willing to concede quite a lot.
I agree with that. I personally came to that conclusion more than 20 years ago, and in that connection I want to recall an exchange of views which I had 20 years ago with a very distinguished South African, the late Dr. Otto du Plessis, who sat in this House for some years and later became Administrator of the Cape and whose unfortunate death, I feel, has robbed South Africa of a distinguished servant. As I say, some 20 years ago I was engaged in an exchange of views on the question of a republic with the late Dr. Otto du Plessis, and I think that that exchange of views has a bearing on the situation here to-day because it confirmed what the hon. member for Constantia said and what other speakers have said in the course of this debate. This exchange of view was originated as a result of an argument which was current at the time with regard to a contention put forward by many speakers of the Nationalist Party in those days. The argument then was that if South Africa became a republic— it was one of the strongest arguments in favour of a republic—it would mean the end of racial discord. This was a powerful argument which was voiced from many a platform. I took leave to doubt the soundness of that argument. I had great doubt whether in fact changing to a republic would alter the situation and bring racial harmony in South Africa, because among other things I felt then, and I feel even more so now, that the big over-riding question was the question of race relation. It seemed to me that unless the coming of a republic was linked with the problem of bringing about better race relations generally, then the desired harmony would not come about.
I had expressed views to that effect, and we entered into an argument on that point, and arising from that we decided to see whether it would not be possible for Dr. du Plessis as an avowed republican and Nationalist, and I as an avowed monarchist to reach a compromise whereby both sides could agree upon a republic. That was the basis of the exchange of views which took place. The first point was one on which we were both agreed, upon which there was no argument. We both felt that if there was to be a republic it must be a truly democratic one. The next point upon which we had to agree was that in order to bring about such a change there would have to be compromises. There would have to be a yielding of standpoints from both sides, and not from just one. It was on that point that we had to try and reach some sort of agreement. In the end we did reach a compromise.
The compromise that we reached was that I from my side would yield the form of government. I would be prepared to yield my preference for a monarchial form of government and accept the republican form of government which was something very dear to the traditions of the Afrikaner. And Dr. du Plessis was willing to yield, on his side, that the republic would be within the Commonwealth. So we had these three points: That it should be a democratic republic; that it should be within the Commonwealth and that it would be a republican constitution. And now I want to say this: The hon. the Prime Minister has told us quite frankly that there was a time when the Nationalist Party was not prepared to yield to the plea for adherence to the Commonwealth. Apparently that was their attitude at the time of our discussions, when the Nationalist Party had hardened its heart in relation to the question of Commonwealth membership. We then announced this agreement publicly, and it caused a stir at the time and evoked a good deal of comment. I very much regret that, unfortunately, Dr. du Plessis was repudiated and the Nationalist Party made it quite clear that it was not prepared to concede membership of the Commonwealth, and the situation was left at that.
Mr. Speaker, I think that it took a lot of courage on the part of Dr. du Plessis to have made that compromise, and I pay tribute to him for it now. The years passed by, and when the hon. the Prime Minister made his speech in this House this week in introducing this motion, I could not help thinking what a pity it was that that speech was not made 20 years ago. Because the speech that the hon. the Prime Minister made was the essence of precisely the kind of settlement that Dr. du Plessis and I had discussed publicly 20 years ago. Had a declaration of that kind come from a Prime Minister in those days, vested with the power which this Prime Minister has to control a situation, then I believe that the course of history in our country might have been altered. Indeed, had such a declaration come from a leader of the Nationalist Party of those days, I feel that we would not be faced with the situation with which we are faced to-day, and that the course of South African history would have been altered.
Now we have to come to the present day. Since that time 20 years ago a new dimension has entered into the situation—a third dimension—and that is what makes the situation so difficult to-day. The new dimension is the fundamental problem which hangs over the whole political situation and over everything in South Africa to-day, the problem of White-Black relations. That is the “third dimension” that has come into the picture since we had those discussions 20 years ago. We have had apartheid—or at least we have had the formulation and adoption of apartheid. We have had the declaration by the hon. the Prime Minister in regard to what is popularly known as the Bantustan concept. We have had developments in Africa. We have had the “winds of change”. And we have this situation to-day where the problem of White-Black relations has become so terribly urgent that not one of us in this House can say what the situation is likely to be in our own land in five years’ time. That is the third dimension which has become a vital overriding problem as we discuss this Bill before us to-day.
There is another factor as well, and I want to touch upon this with the greatest of diffidence. I hope that my hon. friends on the Government side of the House will not misunderstand me and will not take amiss what I am now going to say. I say this in a spirit of honesty and not with the desire to hurt anybody. I say that the other unfortunate element that has entered into the situation is one of mistrust. In the last 20 years—indeed, in the last ten years—we have unfortunately had a breaking of pledges. We had the breaking of pledges that were made, for example, to the Coloured people of South Africa. They were clear pledges. They have been debated in this House. They were clear and definite undertakings given by former Prime Ministers and other people speaking in the name of South Africa. But they have not been kept. Unfortunately that has introduced this element of mistrust.
Mr. Speaker, I have mentioned this for a specific reason and not because I wish to hurt the feelings of anybody. I wish, to-day, to be constructive. I mention this point because I want to put it to the hon. the Prime Minister that he has to do something to cancel out the element of distrust which bedevils the situation in South Africa to-day. And I am going to suggest to him something that he might do to bring about in South Africa a feeling that if the hon. the Prime Minister makes pledges to us to-day. those pledges will be carried out. And I think it is necessary that that should be done because, you see, Sir, the hon. the Prime Minister has made pledges; he has made tremendously important pledges in the speech in which he introduced this Bill. I want to say that as far as I was concerned it was a very interesting speech and in many ways, I think, a moderate speech. It was a speech which has given many of us a great deal to think about. But it is not good enough just to make a speech. The hon. the Prime Minister has made undertakings to South Africa, important undertakings. But many people in this House, and no doubt many people outside will weigh the worth of those undertakings. It is essential, if the hon. the Prime Minister is to achieve any effect from his words, that there should be a feeling of trust behind them. I say, that in order to create such trust the Prime Minister must give us some practical demonstration at this stage to back up what he has said to-day, as a kind of earnest that he really means what he was saying.
Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say this. When I spoke about pledges that had been broken I think it necessary to give some clarity. I want to be fair. The hon. the Prime Minister was a member of a Government which broke pledges, but, certainly, he was not Prime Minister at the time, and I do not know of any instance in which he, as Prime Minister, has given an undertaking that he has not kept. I am prepared, on that basis, to believe that the hon. the Prime Minister means to keep his undertakings. But he does need to give us some practical demonstration. I want to suggest to him a very simple one that would not be difficult. One does not want to be wild and extravagant. I know of the hon. the Prime Minister’s political situation and I am aware of his difficulties. I want to suggest to him that he could make a very simple and practical demonstration, as a beginning which I hope will be followed by other practical demonstrations. I put this suggestion to the hon. the Prime Minister in complete sincerity, and I hope he will consider it. Let me give this as an example. There is a great deal of concern in South Africa at the moment in regard to the proposed Education Bill—to quote only one instance. Here, I believe, is the opportunity to do something which is not beyond the power of the Prime Minister. I do not know whether he appreciates how deep is the concern that is mounting throughout the country in connection with this question of education, and concern at this measure which is likely to come before the House in due course. I want to say to the Prime Minister that if he would give an undertaking—and carry it out—to withdraw that Bill; hot to introduce it but to refer the whole question of education in South Africa to a representative commission which is well balanced, comprising people of both shades of opinion, of prominent educationalists, that would be an earnest to South Africa. A body of that kind should be free to issue an unbiased and genuine report upon the educational set-up in South Africa. We should then be given time to consider the reports of such a body. That, I think, would be a solid gesture to our country at this juncture.
I have suggested an action the Prime Minister might take in regard to the Education Bill, but there are other things that could be done. Icould go on here and list actions, a kind of process of détente if the hon. the Prime Minister understands my meaning. I can think of half a dozen concessions which he might make. I will not call them retreats from policy, but some concrete acts where the hon. the Prime Minister shows he is not a granite wall, that he is prepared to compromise and he is prepared to take account of the feelings of a great many people in South Africa. In trying to think of some practical gesture I have suggested this one, but there are others that might be made. And I say to the hon. the Prime Minister, at this time, at this moment when he is piloting through this House a change of so fundamental a character in our country, can he not make a gesture? Can he not do something practical and positive to show South Africa that he really does want to get together with the people of South Africa, not simply to go it alone and rigidly to follow the policies which he believes to be right, but at least to listen to the other side and do something practical to show that he is willing to co-operate with the other side. It is not beyond the powers of the hon. the Prime Minister to think up such a gesture. I have made the suggestion and I now leave it to him to think on. I say that if he were to make a positive gesture of that kind at this juncture it would have a tremendous affect upon the public.
The hon. the Prime Minister has told us that big concessions have been made from both sides over this republican issue. I am prepared to accept that. I am prepared to accent that from his side it may be a concession to abandon the principle of staying outside the Commonwealth. In the historical sense that is so, and I am not going to make the debating point that there are tremendous and positive advantages to be derived from being in the Commonwealth. On his basis I take that as a concession. I take it, also, that the Constitution we are to have, which is the same Constitution that we had before, may well be a concession from the Nationalist point of view. We are not happy about this Constitution because in the past it has been possible under it to do so many things of which we disapprove. However, I do accept that he has made concessions. But he is asking the most tremendous concession from the other side too. From his side I do not think it is enough. I think he must do something more now, something practical along the lines I have suggested.
Mr. Speaker, I want to conclude by pointing out that so far as we are concerned—and I speak for the party in this corner of the House—we have been absolutely consistent in our attitude with regard to this Bill, and in the attitude that we have taken up in this House. It may be asked of me why, after what I have said this evening, after the exchange of views with the late Dr. du Plessis, why am I standing up in this House to-day and opposing the Republican Bill? The question may be asked whether that is not perhaps in-consistency. I want to say this: Throughout the whole of this referendum campaign we took up the attitude, very, very clearly and positively, that as far as we were concerned we did not mind whether a person had republican sentiments or monarchial sentiments. He could have either. That did not worry us. We said so from platform after platform. We respected those sentiments completely. But what troubled us, and why we called upon the voting public of South Africa to oppose the referendum was that, firstly, this was the wrong time to bring about a change in our constitution and, secondly, because the constitution which was proposed did not meet the needs of this great over-riding consideration I have mentioned, namely the need to bring about a better state of affairs between White and Black in South Africa. In the constitution as proposed by the hon. the Prime Minister, although it is virtually a continuation of the existing constitution, we complain that there is not inherent in it the machinery to bring about White-Black harmony. That was one of the major reasons why we opposed the measure. I do not need to read out the amendment moved by the hon. Leader of the Progressive Party. It is absolutely consistent with that attitude. Those are the reasons why we have opposed the measure. They are understandable to everybody, and any charge of inconsistency is completely rebutted by the facts.
I sit down with this final appeal. We must not debate this vitally important measure under any delusions. You yourself, Sir, said at the outset that this was perhaps the most important Bill that had come before the house. But we must not be under any delusion that, important as this measure is, something very much more important will continue to hang over South Africa. That vitally important fact is the question of White-Black relations, intimately bound up with this measure. I say that unless that question is solved, the republic which this Bill is going to introduce is doomed. It is doomed from the outset. The fate of this republic will unquestionably hang upon White-Black relations, and the sooner people of wisdom, people who are prepared to forget past antagonisms and look squarely at this problem; the sooner they get together—people of all colours—to try to solve this vital problem, the better will it be not only for this republic but the better for South Africa.
Mr. Speaker, as a newcomer to this House I find it really an extraordinary experience to participate in a debate which deals with the realization of the ideal which for the past half-century has been cherished in the hearts of the people of this country. It was a particularly outstanding experience to be able to listen to the introductory speech made by the hon. the Prime Minister, based on the fundamental policy standpoint that the time and the interests of our country demand from us that we give expression to these already long-slumbering tendencies in the bosom of our people. And the question arose in my mind, after hearing this speech which is worthy of being judged among the best in the world, what the reaction would be, after this four-day debate, on our hon. Leader, particularly after our listening to the arguments advanced by the Opposition; the logic which emerges from it and the proof of reverence towards a fatherland which they also like to call their own. In the second instance, the question also arose in my mind: Would it, humanly speaking, be wrong for our Prime Minister to rise again during any stage of the debate and put the case to this House that, if these are to be the proofs of goodwill, piety and loyalty towards a country and its people, whether he should not then be called upon after the second reading to refer this whole matter to a Select Committee, to go into the concessions, as we were very clearly told, which were made to the other section of the population in this country; or whether he will be forced in future to build on the standpoint and the support of his own party and his own Government and to take into consideration the Afrikaans sentiment as the main basis in the new deal, and to refer to the Select Committee matters like the flag question, the ceremonial of this House, etc. It must indeed be a trial to a person in his position, and with the responsibility he holds, in the face of the provocation and the manifestations of it which we have witnessed in this House hitherto, to be able to control himself and to concentrate on higher values. Evidently this has not yet filtered through into the minds of the people opposite who have launched a mock battle, a mock battle based on attitudes adopted in regard to the Commonwealth connection, racial harmony and co-operation, and morality in regard to race relations.
Mr. Speaker, I must say that the whole matter also has its humorous aspect. When watching the scenes which occurred on the opposite side of the House when the hero of the South Coast (Mr. Mitchell) was taken to task by the hon. member for Newcastle, the hon. the Minister of Bantu Education, I could not help but think of a little blue monkey in the bushveld. If one aims at it, and it realizes what is going on, then all it can do is just turn its head and sit at an angle. In the same way the hon. member for Green Point (Maj. van der Byl) reminded me, when he told his story about sour grapes and rotten apples, of a lamb led to slaughter. The attitude was adopted, inter alia, by the hon. member for South Coast, that his party had never been as united as it is to-day, as the result of the fact that this Bill has been introduced. The allegation was also made that we live in an atmosphere lacking in realism, and I must tell you, Sir, that I personally am inclined to share that view. I have here two cuttings which prove the direct opposite of what the hon. member for South Coast tried to allege. The one emanates from the Pretoria News and was written by Mr. John Wiley, the member of the Provincial Council for Simonstown. He said the following on 12 April 1960—
Mr. Speaker, until this evening I must honestly admit that there has been no evidence of an attempt emanating from that part of the House to seek points of agreement with the Nationalist Party. This is a wish and a standpoint adopted by an official representative of that party. With how many voices do they then speak? One gains the impression that one is dealing here with a four-stream policy in that party as well. One stream is represented by the group which says that they want to oppose everything without knowing why. I must say we had an example of that from the Coloured representative for Boland (Mr. G. S. P. le Roux), who frankly admitted that he found it a very difficult task. Intellectually and rationally he has no real grounds. He admitted that, but he must do it, and he has not yet convinced us why. I continue with the quotation—
This is a new note, and something which, in the circumstances in which our hon. the Prime Minister finds himself, might perhaps give him encouragement, as it gives encouragement to all of us when we look to the future—
This is a new message and a new spirit which we appreciate and on which we can justifiably build in the future. I have here a further example which also comes from a United Party member in the Provincial Council of Natal. He is Mr. A. N. Ingle, the United Party member for Umvoti.
What is the date?
It appeared in the Vaderland of September 1952—
And what follows is significant—
Where did he say that?
It was at Bloemfontein. I wonder to whom he addressed this last remark? Mr. Speaker, the point has been made here that we shall have problems in connection with our membership of the Commonwealth, in regard to the possible material results of it, results which might possibly endanger the preservation of the White civilization in our country. All these things have been pointed out. But I would like to put this question to the Opposition, whether in the recent past and since we started the fight for the republic, they became the teachers of their kindred spirits and partners behind the line, with whom they now so keenly seek to associate themselves. I have here a few extracts which indicate that in so far as the senior and the White members of the Commonwealth are concerned it really amounts to an insult, and a failure to recognize their goodwill to render a service to South Africa and to White civilization. The attitude revealed by the Opposition during the past four days amounts to a failure to recognize their goodwill. This is not a wrong inference or an unjustifiable allegation which I am now making. I want to refer to the following few statements. The first emanates from the Sunday Times of October 1960 and it is a statement made by Lord Hinchingbrooke—
Mr. Speaker, this is guidance received by the Opposition in South Africa from leaders whom they allege are not well disposed towards us and who will play a practical and active part in expelling us from the Commonwealth. I ask this question: Is it moral and fair, and is it ethically correct to adopt such a standpoint whilst these people give us these proofs of their goodwill and good faith? These are proofs we get from a co-bearer of Western civilization and from the ranks of the senior member of the Commonwealth.
According to the Vaderland of 11 February 1960 a Canadian Minister issues the following warning—
We who shed crocodile tears about the benefits and the guarantee of the Commonwealth are quite prepared, through our faulty behaviour towards our partners who stand for its maintenance, as revealed during the past four days, to further that process—
Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting reference to the morality of the wolf in sheep’s clothing, of which we find so many examples here these days. The next one comes from the Cape Argus of 29 January 1960. Mr. Diefenbaker, the Prime Minister of Canada, according to this report, made the following statement—
That was with reference to a motion that sanctions should be applied against South Africa and that Canada should exert itself to get South Africa expelled from the Commonwealth.
So we can continue, Sir, giving examples of this type of thing. The last and most interesting one emanates from the Prime Minister of Great Britain himself. It appeared in a report in the Sunday Times of 23 October 1960 and reads as follows—
Here we have the leader of the Commonwealth who privately but consciously and actively exerts himself to retain South Africa as a member of the Commonwealth, and he has the privilege and the honour to be honoured and supported by an Opposition in South Africa which sees fit to think differently about this matter. Personally, I regard it as a very doubtful honour shown the British Prime Minister by the Opposition in South Africa. Are we honest, then, when we speak about the values of Western civilization and its maintenance in South Africa, the future of South Africa and the possible assistance and support it can lend to the Commonwealth? Amongst all this we get these inconsequential and illogical courses of action. The question arises whether, after having produced all this proof, one can or dare attach any value to the standpoints interpreted here by hon. members opposite because they contradict from A to Z the basic course of development in connection with this great and important matter. Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you this: We are dealing here with a development which affects the Afrikaner sentiments, and as against that we have an attempt which, in my humble opinion, represents nothing else but absolute and blind hatred of the Afrikaner. That is the unexpressed basic standpoint adopted by that side of the House. If attempts had been made subtly—whether expressed in words or not—to hit at this side of the House, then it has become time for us to take up the gauntlet. We are honourable, developed and adult people. We are dealing here with the realization of an ideal for which, as I said a moment ago, we have been waiting for 50 years. I want to remind the House that it was approximately 50 years ago when the Afrikaner in this country stood before an open grave, an open grave at Vereeniging, where he saw the highest symbol of his country as an independent state being hauled down and being replaced by a foreign symbol. When he left the battlefield and went back to his farm and visited his cattle kraal, he found it empty—only the bones of animals which had been stabbed with bayonets. When he went to his home he found it burnt down, and he had only memories left of those dear ones which he had lost in this battle for independence. Spiritually and materially he was broken. We asked for no protective measures; we did not ask for charity but depended on our faith and a feeling of self-confidence. We did not foster any sickly sentiment, but realized that a nation has to save itself. We advanced honourably and with respect in that spirit to where we are to-day. If you want a message of honour and chivalry, you need not go beyond the borders of your fatherland— you have it in the history of this nation, as fine and noble as can be imagined. We were moral and honourable; we respected the value and force of the British tradition—the strongest in the world. We have great respect for their literature and their political history and the constitutional benefits they gave to their own people and to the rest of the world. But, Sir, we expect the Briton and the Englishman in South Africa to regard the contribution made by another section of the population to the development of the country with the same measure of recognition and respect. The basis of co-operation is honesty—rational and intellectual honesty, and not bluff and scaremongering. The basis of honesty was suggested by the hon. the Prime Minister: Leadership through the complete union of the heart and the intellect, unprejudiced, objective and not subjective, and taking into consideration the interests of all the groups concerned.
Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding all the predictions of catastrophes which might overtake us, and notwithstanding the sentimental lectures given here about the so-called racial oppression, I want to tell you this: My personal conviction is that the racial policy of the Nationalist Party carries a message not only for South Africa but also for the whole world. The racial policy of this Government is the greatest political thought in this sphere to have emerged during this century, and the next century will prove it. I have an absolute and unshakable confidence in it. Recently I had the privilege of discussing it with a group of prominent Americans, and after we had questioned and cross-questioned one another, one of this group of seven got up and said: “Sir, I must admit that we have no solution. There are many temporary measures which can be adopted, but we do not have the solution and if you can prove to the world that your policy is practicable you have a message for the whole of the West and you will know that the whole of the West will stand by you.” I want to tell the hon. the Prime Minister this on the eve of his departure overseas: We have that confidence in him and in our people that we will produce this proof and render this service to all racial groups in South Africa under the new deal of the republic. We extend our best wishes to him.
Mr. Speaker, it falls to my lot to deal with the speeches of the last three pro-republican speakers: the hon. member who has just sat down; the hon. member on my left, the hon. member for Parktown (Mr. Cope) who spoke before him; and the hon. Minister of Education, Arts and Science. I wish, briefly to deal with the main points which they raised before I proceed to the issues I want to bring forward.
The hon. member who just sat down, appears to be competing with the hon. Minister for External Affairs in the Press-cutting race, but I am afraid that the hon. member for Vanderbijlpark (Dr. de Wet) is still a length or two ahead.
Will you deal with the speech of the hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell)?
I will deliver my speech in my own way and I need no assistance from the hon. member for Vanderbijlpark who is now trying to protect his friend. I wish to refer to one of the cuttings upon which the hon. member who has just sat down, has based quite a large part of his argument. He referred to a certain Mr. A. N. Ingle and a speech made by that gentleman in 1952 but he failed to tell this House that the same gentleman left the United Party and joined the Nationalist Party, and then was an independent, and that the speech to which he referred took place in a debating society where members were not expressing their personal convictions. That fact was published by Mr. Ingle about one week later. He did not tell these facts to the House.
Have members of the United Party then two consciences: one for a debating society and one for this House?
I think the hon. member should refer that question to his colleague, the hon. member for Vereeniging (Mr. B. Coetzee) or to his other colleague, the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Dr. Jonker). They can give him a simple answer, or so for that matter, can the hon. members of the Progressive Party here on my left. They would be able to give him the answer. But, Mr. Speaker, the tragedy of the speech to which we have just been listening, is the fact that it is necessary now to bring this debate back from 60 years ago, to bring it back from the emotionalism and the bitterness, the things which divide and which hurt and which this member used as a basis for his emotional appeal to this House in direct contravention of the appeal made by the hon. the Prime Minister and in contravention of every appeal made by every responsible member, that this issue should be debated on its merits. Instead, that hon. member chose to go back to the open graves of 1900 and 1902. He went back to the open graves and spoke of the burnt homes and of the plunder and destruction which took place. Is that the spirit in which we are to have a republic and is that the answer to the pledges that this republic is to be the start of a new thinking in South Africa? No, Mr. Speaker, no new thinking is in the mind of that member; nor in the minds of hundreds of thousands of others upon whose support the hon. the Prime Minister is dependent for his power. The thinking which lives 60 years ago and which fails to bring itself back into the second half of the 20th century, still prevails. Against that background of bitterness and emotionalism, it is not necessary to pay more attention to the arguments of that hon. member.
I now want to deal very briefly with the hon. member for Parktown (Mr. Cope). He asked for pledges from the hon. the Prime Minister. I think that ought to be rather a sore point with him, as well as on the other side of the House—pledges made to the people of South Africa, a pledge made that if I resign from the United Party I will resign my seat; pledges made that I will fight the republic. And now? Where is the opposition to the republic? These brave anti-republicans—where are they? But what is even worse from that speech is the fact that the hon. member himself disclosed—nobody but himself—that 20 years ago—in 1941—when most of us on this side of the House were in the field serving our country in time of war, he was accepting the principle of a republic in debate with a senior member of the Nationalist Party! That was 20 years agoat a time of turmoil, at a time of danger and strife to South Africa and while his fellow men were serving their country. Then he could say “I have no objection to a republic”. I think that admission in itself excuse me from dealing any further with the arguments of that hon. member.
I want now to refer to the speech made by the hon. the Minister for Education, Arts and Science, who started with a rather “arty” quotation. But unfortunately he did not give it all to the House because I think that he recognized that the portion omitted from that quotation referred to the Cabinet and to the Nationalist Government and therefore it might have been embarrassing had he quoted it in full. He quoted from Areapagetica by Milton, page 13, the following words: “A good book is the precious life blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured for a life beyond life.” But what he left out, Mr. Speaker, was the fact that this quotation came from a defence of the freedom of the Press. The whole object of this essay by Milton was to defend the right of men to write and to read what they wished in the interests of freedom, one of the freedoms, one of the rights we asked to be entrenched in this constitution and which his own Prime Minister has rejected and has refused to entrench. The full quotation reads: “Who kills a man, kills a reasonable creature, God’s image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God as it were.” This next part now refers to the Government—
How true it is that many a man is a burden to the earth, but why did the hon. the Minister leave that out? Why did he not tell his colleague, the Minister of the Interior, that we “should be wary as to what persecution we raised against the living labour of public men, the persecution of a narrow and intolerant censorship, the suffocation of the freedom of the right to write and to read what you will”. That is the quotation which the hon. the Minister of Education, Arts and Science, chose to refer to in his speech tonight. I think he should choose more carefully.
His second quotation was perhaps even more unfortunate. He chose to requote the words used by my colleague, the hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant). Again he left out a part of that quotation. He spoke of “this is my own, my native land” but he forgot to tell this House that “if such there be, go mark him well” because the free people of the world, not only of this country but of the whole world, had occasion in the years between 1939 and 1945 to go and mark him well who did not recognize that “this was my own, my native land who was not prepared to give to that native land the service and the sacrifice which was demanded of him. Yet, the hon. the Minister says that he respects the right of every person to have his own opinion but only as long as that opinion agrees with his own. He went on to say that we had criticized the Government because it did not have an English-speaking member in the Cabinet and he asked “What of the United Party?” I will tell him about the United Party—two things about the United Party. One is that we do not ask a man the language he speaks when we judge the quality of his services to South Africa; we do not test a man’s patriotism by his home language but we test it by the quality of his service and devotion to South Africa. We do not test our leaders by their tongues but by their value and service to their country. We do not require to test and to divide our people into camps, because in the United Party we are not camped into racial groups. But what is more, there is a second answer and that is that the United Party has always had as its leader a born South African, with the blood and spirit of South Africa in his heart, his veins and mind. We are proud of our leaders and there is no need to point a finger to this side of the House when it comes to leadership.
The other points raised by the hon. the Minister I will deal with in the course of what I now wish to say. I want to start with the question which he raised of the mandate. He accused my hon. leader of accepting that the Government had a mandate to establish the republic. That is not so, Mr. Speaker. My hon. leader has never accepted that this Government has a mandate. The hon. member for Queenstown (Dr. Steytler) and the Progressive Party accept that but we disagree with the Progressive Party; we disagree that the Prime Minister and the Nationalist Party have a mandate to establish a republic. That fact I will now establish by calling a witness whom, I think, even members on the Government side will accept. I need not deal with the United Party’s mandate to oppose the measure now before the House. That matter has been dealt with. In my own constituency over 11,000 people gave me a mandate to say “No” to the republic and that mandate was not one with the life-span of one day, it was not a mandate which expired on 6 October but it was a mandate to me to represent them—as it was to every member on this side of the House—and their views when this measure came before Parliament. What is more, in the seat of the hon. member for Queenstown, more than 100 people more said “No” to the republic than elected him as member for the United Party And what about Zululand, Mr. Speaker? What about the hon. member for Zululand (Mr. R. A. F. Swart) to whom a republic in any shape or form was repugnant? But today he accepts a mandate for the Government to introduce a republic. The witness to whom I referred, is the hon. the Minister of Finance. He said the following last year when the Referendum Bill was before the House. On 22 April he said—
He said quite clearly that the referendum would not determine whether there was to be a republic but that it would have to determine whether there was a sufficient majority not only to establish, but also to maintain, a republic. He went on to say that they were getting advice from the electorate:
He went on to say that Parliament would then have to decide the issue. He used as a basis for his argument the fact that the Cape Coloured people were to be denied a vote. He said that did not matter because the referendum did not mean a thing; the referendum was not binding and it was not to be final. He said a decision had to be taken by this Parliament and then the representatives of the Coloureds would have an opportunity to vote upon it. He devoted two columns of Hansard to proving that the referendum was not the deciding factor. Therefore, now that this measure has come before this House, it is our duty, a duty laid upon us in the words of the Hon. the Minister of Finance to debate this measure on its merits irrespective of what the referendum may have shown. What is confused in the minds of members opposite is this: They do not appreciate the difference between recognition or acceptance and support. There is a basic difference. We accept the fact that there is a Nationalist Party Government. That is a fact. We comply with the laws passed by that Government but that does not mean that we support the Government or that we agree with all the laws. But we abide by those laws although at the same time we are opposed to them and we retain the right to withdraw or amend them when we come into power. The Government can force this measure on South Africa and if it does so, it will be accepted as the law of the land and as such the people of South Africa will abide by that law but it will not be accepted, if forced upon us, in the hearts of the people. If we are forced by the power and pressure of the Government, then we may accept the legality of this law but it will not be accepted in the minds and the spirit of tens of thousands of South Africans. What then will it achieve? Let us try to answer that question quite clearly. I say that this Bill if it becomes law, will be complied with but what will it have achieved? What will it have contributed to the unity which so many people believe it will achieve? That is the tragedy of this issue, the tragedy that this Government because of its blind and blundering obsession with its own power, is not prepared to recognize the difference between compliance and support. The price of that obsession is the fact that there will be many tens of thousands in South Africa who will not in their hearts accept what is being forced upon them. It may well be, and possibly it is so, that, unlike another man in history, this may be their last territorial claim. It is quite easy to prove it if it is. There was and still is a golden opportunity to prove if that is so, that this is the last territorial claim.
There are two groups of people opposed to the republic: those who opposed it because of a deep and implacable sentimental opposition and many thousands of others—of whom I am one—who opposed it because we believe that it is not in the interests of South Africa and that the gamble with the destiny of this country was not worth the prize. There are many of us who believe that it is utter folly to hand the future of South Africa’s Commonwealth membership over to states who were openly hostile to us. There are those who believe that a republic will do nothing but divide and hurt and yet it should have been manna from heaven that from both those groups who opposed the republic, there came a golden opportunity to the Prime Minister. The door was opened for him to find a basis, a basis which required only the acceptance of two things: the entrenchment of basic rights and the guarantee of our Commonwealth membership before we proceeded. On that basis he could easily have taken the people of South Africa along with him. We who are opposed to a republic, would not have become republicans, we would not have started to love a republic all of a sudden, but I believe that if the Prime Minister was a statesman instead of a politician, he would have taken the people of South Africa along with him in this gamble upon which he is determined to embark.
How do you intend to entrench?
My hon. leader dealt with that. It is a matter of good faith and an entrenchment accepted by all the people of South Africa will be a moral obligation upon every decent Government which follows. But I am not dealing with that to-night. The Government refused even to consider this issue. If the hon. the Minister of Transport will give us an undertaking that they will consider such entrenchments and will ask that this debate will be adjourned so that we can put positive proposals to the Government for consideration, then he will have done a statesmanlike thing for South Africa. Will the hon. the Minister give the assurance that they will accept certain entrenchments if we can produce the machinery for entrenching them? What is the use of spending hours on detail and procedure which has been rejected in advance, here in a bicameral sitting, where we know that it cannot be done. It has been rejected in advance. The rejection has come, loud and clear but why? Why could not those basic freedoms, freedom of religion, freedom of the Press, basic provincial rights, and equality of the languages, not be entrenched in this constitution? Why if the Government is sincere in its protestations, if it believes in these fundamental freedoms, will it not entrench them? It has only itself to blame if the people question why the Government refuses to entrench these basic issues.
Why did you not entrench them when you were in power?
We believed that we were dealing with honourable people upon whom a moral obligation was binding but we were proved wrong by this Government. This great opportunity offered to the Prime Minister has been cast aside. Let me put it this way. In certain countries marriages are arranged by the parents, by arrangement, and the bride and bridegroom have no say in those marriages. It is the parents who arrange the marriage but it is the bride and bridegroom who determine whether the marriage will work or not. So we find here that a republic is being arranged without any consideration having been given as to whether the bride and bridegroom are going to make it work or not. One could take that analogy further but the responsibility rests on the Prime Minister whether he is going to follow this oriental way of making a marriage, a way which refuses to recognize the desires or needs of those concerned.
We have been asked for sacrifices. We have made sacrifices for South Africa. We have been asked for loyalty. We have shown loyalty to South Africa. The Minister of Finance said the Prime Minister was going to bat on a sticky wicket. Who was it who turned the hosepipe on to that wicket? Who was it who crumbled the wicket if it was not he himself and his colleagues? Who was it who declared the innings of the Union of South Africa closed and forced us to go and bat again on a crumbling pitch? We did not declare the innings of South Africa; it was this Government with its republic which made that declaration. This Government is prepared to use pretty words but there is an opportunity for them to translate those words into practice, an opportunity which it can still grasp tonight by stating that it is prepared to negotiate, to create something out of this measure, something acceptable to the vast mass of the people.
At 10.25 p.m., the business under consideration was interrupted by Mr. Speaker in accordance with Standing Order No. 26 (1), and the debate was adjourned until 2 February.
The House adjourned at