Press Release - 4 April 2011
Firstly more about the photograph which can be called ‘Architects of Apartheid’. It is a large Cabinet Photograph of the Joint Session of Parliament 1936 (Native Bills) Cape Town, 1936. Bottom border has the original signatures of J. C. Smuts, J. B. M. Hertzog, R. Stuttaford, D. F. Malan, Patrick Duncan, A. P. J. Fourie, C. Clarkson, Denys Reitz, N. C. Havenga, C. F. Stallard, W. B. Madeley, Jan H. Hofmeyr, O. Pirow, A. Grobler and one other. Size 55 by 69cm. The photograph is of incredible clarity - every senator and MP's face is clearly visible. This extremely historic photograph is appropriately framed behind museum glass in cut-out mount
A joint sitting of both houses of parliament was scheduled for February 1936. A two thirds majority was needed to abolish the entrenched clause concerning Native representation in the Lower House.
Hertzog was Prime Minister, Jan Smuts his deputy. The fact that in all this Smuts’ voice is remarkably silent shows a human tendency to postpone action over matters which are a little unpleasant. He had decided that it was better to support separate representation for Cape Natives rather than risk the abolition of the Cape Native franchise. Nevertheless he did not like it and had voted against it previously. He stated in parliament “Of course I could have died in the last ditch so to say, I could have said, I fight to the bitter end for the Cape Native Franchise but what would have been the result? It would not have been I who died, but the Natives metaphorically speaking.” He was pleased that after years of wrangling this vote would bring about a settlement, not ideal, but containing “the elements of justice and fair play and fruitfulness for the future which I can ask my fellow men of black colour to accept and to work on as a basis for their advancement in the years to come.”
On the 6th April 1936, the day the discussion of the third reading of this Bill would take place, Jan Hofmeyr decided to oppose Hertzog and Smuts. Hofmeyr stated “I appreciate the Prime Minister’s sincere desire to further the best interests of white men and black men in this country... But... I can do no other than oppose it and I must do so regardless of what the political consequences for myself might be.” The Bill once passed would result in the setting aside of the entrenched Cape Native Vote and its re-entrenchment by placing Cape Natives on a separate voters’ roll. Hofmeyr stated that this gave “to the Natives an inferior, (and) qualified citizenship which has the marks of inferiority in clause after clause of this Bill and which bears the added stigma that whatever may be the advance of the Native in civilization and education, to all intents and purposes he is limited for all time to three members (white) in a House of 153. That surely is a qualified, and inferior citizenship...”
Hofmeyr continued by warning Parliament that “By this Bill we are sowing the seeds of a far greater potential conflict than is being done by anything in existence today... This Bill says that even the most educated Native shall never have political equality with even the least educated and least cultured White or Coloured man. This Bill says to these educated Natives: ‘There is no room for you....’ But we drive them back in hostility and disgruntlement and do not let us forget this, that all that this Bill is doing for those educated Natives is to make them the leaders of their own people, in disaffection and revolt.”
Hofmeyr’s speech fell on deaf ears. The Rand Daily Mail editorial of 8.4.1936 stated that “The making of such a speech in such an atmosphere was an exhibition of intellectual and moral integrity that has probably not been excelled in South Africa in our time.”
When the final vote was taken after midnight on 7th April Hertzog secured a majority of 169 votes with 11 against, out of the combined total of 190 Members of Parliament and Senators. In this joint sitting of Parliament he required 127 votes to change this entrenched clause in the constitution concerning the Cape Native Vote. Instead he received 42 more than he required. When the count was announced, unprecedented cheering broke out (defying the rules of Parliamentary etiquette) acknowledging Hertzog’s achievement, the climax and the crown of this life’s work.
The eleven who voted against the Bill were J. H. Hofmeyr (Minister of the Interior), Senator F. S. Malan, Morris Alexander of Cape Town (Castle), R. J. Du Toit of Maitland, J. M. Chalmers of Rondebosch and A. J. MacCallum of Woodstock, all of the United Party; and Colonel C. F. Stallard of Roodepoort, R. M. Christopher of East London North, J. G. Derbyshire of Durban (Greyville), J. S. Marwick of Illovo and C. W. Coulter of Cape Town (Gardens), these five being the entire Dominion Party.
This, the Natives Act of 1936, which was supposed to lay honourable foundations for the future in the minds of those who voted in favour, was repealed in 1960. It was replaced by an Act which abolished altogether the representation of Natives in the South African Parliament. In 1956 the Coloureds were placed on a separate voters’ roll with representation by four white MP’s.
This separate Coloured representation was itself also abolished in the course of time, after the establishment of a Coloured Affairs Department. And so the process would continue, all set in motion by the vote taken on that fateful day, 7th April, 1936. The resultant change to the Constitution gave the Nationalist Party free reign in their treatment of Black people from 1948. Black people no longer had a meaningful voice in Parliament.
This photograph, the most important in South African history, with its historic signatures, as Lot 3, is expected to realise R140,000 to R160,000 on the 19th April 2011 auction to be held at at Stephan Welz & Co. (Pty) Ltd, Rosebank.