Article in Africa and the World”, No 5, February 1965


Franz Lee was born in 1938 of very poor „Coloured“ parents. His youth was spent among African peasant workers in the Transkei reserve, where he attended a primary Mission school, working occasionally on white farms and in factories to finance his studies. In 1959 he matriculated after a correspondence course, at the same time becoming active in the local liberation movements. He enrolled at the external university of South Africa, Pretoria, for a B.A.‑LL.B. degree in law and philosophy. In October, 1962, he was awarded a German special scholarship to the University of Tubingen where         he is at present studying for a Ph.D. in philosophy. He is an active member of the „South African Students’ Union in Germany“ which unites all South African students irrespective of race, colour, creed or organisational orientation or convictions.

From the publicity, one could con­clude that in the West no struggle of an oppressed people receives so much sympathy as the non‑white liberation movement in the Republic of South Africa.


The West German press, for example, is surprisingly unanimous in its condemnation of the barbaric „apartheid“ policy of the Afrikaander nationalists.


And yet the sympathy is nowhere so insincere as in this case. The press persistently conceals the consequences that would result from abolishment of the apartheid system. The racial discrimination policy is intended to secure more than the political predominance of the white „Herrenvolk“ ‑ the supporters and members of Verwoerd’s Nationalist party.



Economically Basic


It is the indispensable basis for the slave system of the white farmers and the phenomenal profits of mining and other foreign ‑ or English ‑ controlled industries. Only when this is understood does the question of liberating the nonwhite population in the police states of Malan, Strijdom and Verwoerd come into proper focus.


The liberation of the Africans in South Africa is impossible without liquidating the present economic system. Those who oppose apartheid without acknowledging the need for a radical transformation of the South African society commit a serious error unless their sympathy is feigned.


Nowhere is it as clear as in the Republic of South Africa that capitalism depends on the exploitation and oppression of the toiling masses. If we leave aside the white proletariat, which has been bought off by the Afrikaanders to support them in the elections, by wages second only to those of the United States, the secret of this capitalist system is revealed by a difference in skin colour.



75% Rural


Of the blacks (Africans), forming the overwhelming majority of the South African population, nearly 75 per cent live outside the cities, that is 8,250,000 out of 11,000,000. Official figures for October, 1964, were 11,915,000 Africans, 1,703,000 Coloureds, 520,000 Asians and 3,335,000 Whites in South Africa.


Of these again, 3,000,000 work practically under slave conditions on the white farms; while the rest, 5,250,000, must struggle to keep body and soul together in the so‑called Reserves and future „Bantustans“ (the present independent Transkei being the first) ‑ which comprise only 13.7 per cent of the total land area of South Africa.


According to the Land Act, 1913, and its Amendment, 1945, „no African is allowed to possess, buy, or sell land anywhere in South Africa“ (Art. 25, Sec. 6). The Africans can only stay on – and cultivate ‑ land in the reserves.


Thus 20 per cent of the population ‑ mainly Boer farmers ‑ own 86.3 per cent of the land. Still more accurately expressed: the total area of South Africa is 472,359 square miles; whites own 416,130 square miles, the remainder ‑ some 56,000 square miles ‑ comprise the „Bantu homelands“.


Even among the white farmers the land is not equally distributed, since 63 per cent possess 12 per cent of the total land area; 27 per cent Possess 32 per cent; and 10 per cent possess 56 per cent.


As the Africans in the reserves have no modern agricultural implement, their economic status grows worse year by year. The primitive methods of their forefathers were economically supportable when the Africans still had the whole of South Africa to themselves.



Wars of Dispossession


As a result of the ten „Wars of Dispossession“ ‑ so‑called Kaffir or Xhosa Wars (in South African and even international history books), ranging from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century ‑ the Africans were forced into the „Native Reserves“ of South Africa and the three „British Protectorates“ which, climatically and economically, are far from the best areas.


Thus pastoral farming and animaldrawn ploughs became uncompetitive. On top of this, heavy taxation was imposed on the Africans; the poll tax, for example, is raised whenever the demand for cheap labour increases. Other taxes are the „Union Tax“ and the „Bantu Authorities Tax“.


It was not only the ravenous expansionist drive of the whites that led to expulsion of the native peoples from their ancestral lands. A system was developed to force them to accept low‑paid jobs outside their „labour concentration camps“ the reserves (the Transkei, Zululand, Zeerust and Sokhukhuneland being the largest).


Dispossession transformed independent African farmers into „squatters“ ‑ having no legal title to land originally belonging to them ‑ tenants and migratory labourers on white farms; and drove others through hunger, poverty and heavy taxes to the industrial towns and mines in search of work.


The „Border Industries project“ of today intends shifting the Afrikaander industries nearer to the reserves, but the capitalist exploiting system and its compulsions remain fundamentally unchanged.


The social and judicial position of the African farm labourer is inconceivably bad. Working 60 hours and more a week, he often earns scarcely enough to clothe and feed himself in meagre fashion. He is legally subjugated to a system that parallels, if it does not surpass, slavery in brutality.



He Is Tied


The 1932 South African Law on Contract Labour, for example, provides that an African, living on the farm of his master, cannot leave unless he can produce an identification document signed by his employer.


He cannot take a new job unless he can produce a document, signed by his previous employer, stating that in the coming time he has no duties to perform and is thus discharged from work. The law further Provides that a labour service contract applies automatically to the Africans children between the ages of 10 and 18, without their approval. They are subject to punishment, including „flogging“.


The pass laws are chiefly designed to channel cheap labour to the mines, farms and industries. The pass, which is compulsory for all African men and women, town and country dwellers, from the age of 15, contains the following:

Section A. Name and address of the holder; the address of the Office of the Labour Bureau, Efflux and Influx control; and the registration number of the pass‑holder. (Every time the pass‑holder loses his job he has to go to this office. If he or she does not find a job within 21 days then the holder must leave the area.)


Section B. Signature and address of the employer and the date of starting work. (The employer must sign the pass once a month. He must also indicate the date of discharge after which a discharged worker can be arrested, even on his way to the Labour Bureau, and sentenced to a fine of £10 or two months’ imprisonment ‑ which means working gratis for the Boer farmers.)


Section C. This concerns the Union Tax (every year a married man must pay £2 5s.; and unmarried, £1 15s.).


Dr. Verwoerd’s Bantustans. The total area of South Africa is 472,359 miles. Whites own 416,130 square miles. The remainder ‑ some 56,000 square miles ‑ comprises the so‑called Bantu homelands. Yet, the African population totals 11,915,000 compared with 3,335,000 Whites. In fact, about 20 per cent of the population, mainly Boer farmers, own 86.3 per cent of the land. (This map is from „South Africa: Crisis for the West“, by Colin and Margaret Legum, reviewed on another page).


Section D. The Bantu Authorities Tax (the African chiefs charge certain taxes at will and are authorised by the government to punish those who refuse to pay them).


Section E. Special permit to be allowed out after 3 p.m. (In general, no African is allowed to be out or on the streets after 8 p.m. in white South Africa).


From the above it becomes quite clear that the pass system is designed to control and enslave the African. The result is that not only the Africans in the reserves but also the farm workers, if they succeed in getting away from their masters, swarm into the towns and mines for employment ‑ exactly in accordance with government plans.



Cheap Labour System


That the mass migration of cheap black labour to the industrial areas was not merely the result of the operation of laws of the labour market was confirmed at a government conference as early as 1897.


To keep the wage level desirably low, an essential for high profits, it was explained that „a constant and abundant supply of native workers is necessary“. Appropriate laws, high taxation of the peasants, and an ingenious recruiting system assure a constant flow of cheap African labour from the labour reservoirs.


For Africans ‑ not for whites ‑ it is a crime if he does not pay his taxes. Above the age of 18 years each African male must pay a minimum tax of 3.50 South African Rand (R), i.e., about £1 15s. sterling, per annum, whether he is employed or not.


The whites only pay tax when their income is R 600 (£300) or more per annum. In addition to the already mentioned taxes, an African has to pay local tax, tribal levies, levies to various Bantu authorities, a Bantu Education tax, grazing, dipping and ploughing fees.


In 1957 statistics showed that an African contribution of nearly £50,000,000 per annum in indirect taxation enters the government coffers ‑ this amount is again used to develop and apply the various apartheid schemes and paying government quislings enormous wages.


The poor people are taxed to further their own misery and oppression ‑ one of the most heinous crimes of the Herrenvolk government! Since 1936, some 400,000 blacks ‑ a quarter of them virtually imported from the territories under Portuguese ultra‑colonialism ‑ have been employed alongside 40,000 whites in the gold mines.


These Africans are hired as unskilled labourers ‑ being paid today nearly a similar wage as in the 19th century at the beginning of industrialism and mining in South Africa. Better positions at higher wages are forbidden by law. This is intended to preserve for whites, even as wage workers, their privileged position in society.


The Job Reservation Act (Clause 77 of the Industrial Conciliation Act, 1924 now newly amended in Determination No. 13 of May 9, 1963), reserves specific jobs in various industries exclusively for whites. The worst paid jobs, the hard dirty work, are left for the Africans.


Mr. J. N. le Roux, South African Minister of Agriculture, expressed the official view as follows: „We should not give the Natives an academic education. If we do this, we shall be burdened with a number of academically trained Europeans and non‑Europeans, and who is going to do the manual labour in the country? I am in thorough agreement with the view ... that to a great extent he (the Native) must be the labourer in this country.“ (Hansard, Volume 11, 1945).


The African, being a constant migrant worker, contracted as a rule for nine to 18 months at a stretch, is refused normal status by the white government as „labourer“ or „employer“. He is thus officially discriminated as a „tribal native“ (see Article 36 of the law of 1937).


The African lives virtually with one foot in his place of employment and the other in his reserve. In this way it is difficult for Africans to organise trade unions or to become experts in a specific field. Moreover, their whole family life is destroyed ‑ another of the sky‑screaming cruelties of the Herrenvolk !


And then one should remember that non‑whites (chiefly Africans) constitute 99 per cent of the unskilled workers in industry, 66 per cent of the semi‑skilled, and 17 per cent of the skilled workers. The main branches of the South African economy ‑ mining, industry and agriculture ‑ are dependent on African labour.


The abyss between the wages of the white and black workers has widened over the years, as the following table from the gold mining industry shows:





Year’s Income

Per head

(in $)



Year’s Income

Per head

(in $)





































(Annual Report of South African Department of Mines, 1953, Pretoria, pages 44, 50 and 56).


In nine out of 10 lectures held in various large towns of the Federal Republic of Germany, South African paid propagandists, like „Dr. von Lichtenfeid“ from Johannesburg, argued that Africans are paid far higher wages than in any other African state, hence the apartheid system is a necessity. They forget, of course, the difference of cost of living in the various African territories.


Also, in addition to the real evidence as shown in the above official government table, the average wage of an African worker in the manufacturing industry in 1946 was £159.1 per annum, as compared to £734.28 for a white employee in the same industry. In 1958 the corresponding figures were £ 173.25 against £915.89 respectively! That is a ratio of 5.28 to 1. In 1961, the ratio became 5.6 to 1.


Today a white mineworker earns 16 times more than his black „colleague“. Yet mining Profits exceeded £140 million in 1962. On most white farms an African earns nearly one‑twentieth of that which a white worker earns. I witnessed African farm labourers earning on the average £2 to £3 per month in 1962 in the border towns of the Transkei. Accommodation for the black masses, streaming into the towns and industrial areas, are unspeakable.



Urban Conditions


The recruited Africans are separated according to tribe and race. The migrant male workers live far from the white „suburbs“ in jail‑like barracks and locations.


Normally the women ‑ the „Kaffermeide“, „Aias“, or „Kaffernennies“ (kaffir‑maids) ‑ working in the „Baas“ (overlord) and „Nonna“ or „Missus“ ‘s kitchens and houses live in a single room in the back‑yards of the white settlements.


There are numerous examples in the South African history ‑ today still ‑ of poor African girls returning home to the reserves, expecting a „Coloured“ baby from some „manager“, „bank director“ or „secretary“ of some Minister ‑ facts that normally never reach the press (which is nothing unusual in our bourgeois society) ‑ but all signs of how strong the „colour bar“ of the Afrikaander nationalists is!


From these African townships situated miles from the central industrial areas ‑ the workers are transported daily to their jobs by means of buses, at fares they can scarcely pay. The big bus strike of Alexandra‑township in the fifties proved that raising the fares by one penny meant for the Africans sinking below the bread line.


(Various paragraphs missing in the Original…)



Below Hunger Line


(Paragraphs missing…)


In a Penguin Special ‑ Sanctions Against South Africa ‑ Oliver Tambo, the Deputy President‑General of the ANC of South Africa, writes:


„Apartheid keeps African labour cheap. It has to in the interests of the ‘people’ (the 3,335,000 whites). Cheap labour keeps Africans underfed. In the urban areas four out of every five families are starving. The rate is higher in the country areas. The result is that the African population is exposed to the ravages of diseases easily traceable to poverty. The average life expectancy of an African is 37 to 42 years. For whites it is 67 to 72 years, a difference of 30 years!



57% Die


„In breathless praise of the Government’s ‘showpiece’ hospital, Baragwanath, the Director of Information of the South African Embassy in London declares: ‘Every hour of the day and night a baby is born in the maternity ward.’ But out of every 100 African babies born, 57 die before they reach their fifth birthday. The rate for Whites is 5 per cent. The mass destruction of innocent babies is the work of apartheid.“ (Penguin Special, Edited by Ronald Segal, May, 1964, Page 23.)


Nobel Prize winner Albert John Luthuli, in his book „Let my People Go“, having the „Freedom Charter“ of the ANC as an appendix, states: „Whites in South Africa rank fourth in the world’s standard of living when 10 per cent of the Africans live below the bread line. Most of the rest are just above it.“ (Fontana paperback edition, Page 182).


In spite of the relatively progressive industrialisation of the country, there are no trade unions worthy of the name among the African workers.  A law passed in 1937 defined trade unions as „unions of employees“. Since African workers are denied the status of „employees“, no legal basis exists for the formation of recognised trade unions.


Only unregistered ‑ mostly whitecontrolled ‑ African workers’ unions exist. The African worker is forbidden by law to strike (see Law of 1953, No. 48, Article 18), hence these unions are useless in practice.


The enormous profits made at the expense of the exploited Africans are indicated by the following examples:


(1) From 1870 till the end of 1934, the South African diamond mining industry on an invested capital of £20,000.000 sterling, paid out more than £80,000,000 sterling in net dividends. In 1961 British investors in the mining industries altogether got £18,900,000 sterling as net dividends,


(2) The gold mining industry ‑ including the successful and unsuccessful companies  paid between 1886 and 1932 on an invested capital of £20,000,000 sterling more than £255,000,000 sterling to its shareholders as net dividends. After sixty years of exploitation, in 1945 the net dividend figure paid out reached £479,000,000 sterling. (Figures from Decision in Africa, W. A. Hunton, New York, 1960.)


Further, the dividend payments of the Orange Free State Goldmining companies rose from £1.5 million sterling in 1955 to £16.7 million sterling in 1959. (Figures from „AFRICA‑The Roots of Revolt“,  J. Woddis, 1962, Page 228).


(3) It has been calculated that American investments in South Africa brought a 27 per cent profit per annum.



„Magic Formula“


Clearly such gross and brutal exploitation can be maintained, in the long run, only if the oppressed population accept prevailing conditions as unchangeable or due to „God’s Will“ and if they are blocked from political recourse. The Afrikaander ruling class believe that they have found this magic formula in apartheid.


Under this policy, a „white“ parliament, representing 3,067,638 whites projects dividing and ruling 10,807,809 Africans, 1,488,267 Coloureds and 477,414 Asians (1960 census figures).


With the present socioeconomic conditions suffered by the Africans as an example of Herrenvolk’s strategy the Coloureds, Indians, Malays and Chinese can presage their own future situation. The present house arrests, detention and tortures have proved this already.


The latest oppressive laws  ‑the Sabotage Act, 1962, the „90‑Day No Trial Law“, and the Bantu General Law Amendment Act, both of 1963 plus those in process in 1964 – have worsened the situation and introduced a „reign of terror“.


At the same time revolutionary democratic and socialistic movements have gained ground, in spite of the setbacks of mass arrests, bannings and pressure underground. One of the most important ones is the National Liberation Front (NLF), of South Africa and South West Africa, a broad anti‑South Africa „United Front“, aimed at uniting all progressive organisations in Southern Africa and preparing for a militant national struggle to liquidate the Present Herrenvolk state.


There are big attempts to form a united front with ANC, PAC and the CPSA. Up to now, due to old rivalries and policies, there had been little success ‑ although such a step is very much desired, under a common midtant progressive policy!


Yet political power is still firm in the hands of Afrikaanerdom ‑ only a successful „Spartacus“ of the proletariat ‑ can dethrone ‘Verwoerd Vorster Muller’, the „triumvirate“ of the white Republic.


The Dutch Reformed Church is the Afrikaanders prayer for the success of the „chosen people“; the Broederbond is the underground organisation to keep everything strategically controlled; the Afrikaander universities and other institutions of „ChristianNational Education“ are the dedicated suppliers of Afrikaander nationalism; and the „Reddingsdaad“ is aimed at destroying the economic power of the English‑speaking group. All these organisations conspire to ensure that Political Power is based by social and economic control.


The white proletariat and the Boer farmers form the base of apartheid, they decide the destiny of South Africa today. In fact, they represent less than 40 per cent of the electorate and only a little more than 1,500,000 whites, out of a total population of over 17,000,000 today!


Yet the English‑speaking community sill controls 99 per cent of mining capital, 94 per cent of industrial capital, 88 per cent of finance capital and 75 per cent of commercial capital.




Foreign capital constitutes a large part of the investments in South Africa. These investments affect the attitude of the West toward the apartheid policy. Up to 1946 over £750,000,000 sterling had been invested in mining and government loans. By 1953 this figure had passed £1,250,000,000.





Who Owns It


In 1956, total foreign investments were estimated at £1,396,000,000 sterling. The British share was £865,600,000; USA £171,000,000; other sterling countries £69,800,000. Of Britain’s share, £556,100,000 was in direct investment, and £309.500,000 in portfolio investment. Mining accounted for £164,000,000 of the direct investment and £121,900,000 of the portfolio investment.


Hence Britain invested £285,900,000 sterling in mining alone ‑ which paid £18,900,000 in net dividends in 1961! Today Britain has invested over £1,000,000,000 in South Africa, hence her stake in the maintenance of capitalism in South Africa is clear, not quite so clear as her interest in the maintenance of apartheid. The economic boycott and sanctions will show the naked truth soon!


In the United States in 1955 the Department of Commerce encouraged American businessmen to invest in South African concerns. This encouragement was in reality superfluous. By 1955 the $50,000,000 direct private investment of 1943 had increased five times. The American state is eagerly supporting the Herrenvolk state with dollars and arms (see later).


By the end of 1955 the Exim and World Bank had invested not less than $330,000,000 in South African concerns, much more than in any other African country. In the last five years US investments have increased tremendously. No wonder that US officials ‑ like Senator Hickenlooper in 1953 after a trip through South Africa ‑ have considered South Africa a „reliable friend“.


Lately in the United Nations’ resolutions and those of other „special committees“, concerning diplomatic and trade relations, or sanctions and the banning of arms to South Africa, one can clearly see how England, America and France, together with some other capitalist countries, show their true colours ‑ tinted with African blood ‑ more and more!



Budget Increases


The South African military budget increased by £24.000,000 sterling in 1962, reaching £60,000,000. Another £20,000.000 were added in 1963. Between 1960‑1 and 1963‑4 the defence expenditure was quadrupled to £104,000,000 sterling.


By December, 1964, the Herrenvolk had 104,000 men for the army ready for action at any emergency, as compared to 9,000 in 1960. A Citizen Force and Commandos, consisting partially of white youths (male and female) over the age of 18 years, 15,000 armed white police, co‑ordinated with the army, and a Police Reserve, whose target is 50,000 ‑ partly of Coloureds and Indians, but not, of course, Africans ‑ are ready to assist should any national revolt break out.


Further, research into poison gas, tear gas, chemical bacteriological weaponry, rockets and nuclear weapons are made ‑ assisted especially by German scientists who have forgotten ‑ or helped in ‑ the gas chambers of Nazi Germany! They are busy building an Afrikaander „Third Reich“!



Britain’s Help


In the current three‑year period Britain is supplying South Africa with £90,000,000 sterling of military equipment. This is definitely not for international defence! In 1962, Imperial Chemical Industries contributed a capital investment of £10,000,000 sterling, plus its considerable technical assistance and knowledge, to build armament factories in South Africa.


The United States supplied aircraft and other important weapons. France furnished mirage jet fighters and air‑to ground missiles. La Carbone, a French armament concern, is setting up a firm in South Africa. Belgium granted Verwoerd licence rights to manufacture the FN automatic rifle, which is standard equipment for NATO troops! West Germany supplied 63 troop carriers. Switzerland authorised the delivery of anti‑aircraft guns, pistols, and ammunition to South Africa. The US Ford Motor Company has announced its intention of manufacturing automobile engines in South Africa. However, an engine is an engine be it for a car or a tank.


Thus most of the suppliers of arms and ammunition to South Africa have already secured their businesses right inside the country and can now proclaim aloud about banning arms to South Africa.


South Africa’s current military spending is greater than the combined military budgets of the poetically independent African states. Further, South Africa has 16 Mirage III Mach. 20 strike aircraft ‑ and hopes to get some more soon; about 24 Buccaneer Mk. II Mach. 12 naval strike craft; 32 American Sabres and 50 British‑built Vampire subsonic jet fighters; 8 Shackleton long‑range bombers and 6 Canberra subsonic light let bombers (B12 variants). Only the UAR can compete with this Air force. She has about 350 warplanes, including 50 MIG 21s (Mach. 2.0).


In the African navies, Egypt leads: 8,000 sailors man 6 frigates, 8 destroyers, 8 corvettes and 9 submarines. South Africa comes second with 3,000 men who maintain 8 frigates and 2 destroyers.


Further, the very effective poisonous gases ‑ used by the Nazis ‑ soman, sarin and tabun are manufactured in large quantities for future use in South Africa.


Foreign investments from the various countries of the „Free World“ contribute not only objectively but subjectively to maintaining and strengthening this regime of terror and fanaticism in the Republic of South Africa.


On the one hand they stabilise the South African industry, and on the other, new businesses are drawn into practising the same racial policies even if reluctantly, since they have to obey the galaxy of fascist laws.


The United Nations can avoid a massacre, guarantee reasonable economic interests for the West and ensure peace in Africa, if they sincerely consider the democratic aspirations of the black, yellow and other coloured and white people, for otherwise any intervention ‑ or none ‑ will end in a catastrophic massacre.


In the present state of affairs, perhaps, the only way to achieve this is by effective economic sanctions, especially by England, America, West Germany, France, Japan, Canada and Italy, on the part of the United Nations, which could break down the resistance of the Verwoerd regime and initiate a process of democratic change.