845A.2547/6–2750: Telegram

The Chargé in South Africa (Connelly) to the Secretary of State

top secret

82. Capetown series. Deptel 66 Capetown series June 14.1 Embdes 133 Capetown series June 232 which left here by Cairo courier June 26 due Department about July 7, replies Department’s instruction 10, April 17, and states:

No postwar security survey Union’s manganese industry made and none contemplated.
As South African Ambassador Washington not yet reported his April 5 talk with Department officials, secretary for EA Forsyth requested written note, to which I replied my instruction did not provide for such communication and I would consult Department.
Despatch under reference includes draft such note.
While Forsyth merely said when informed our willingness furnish data on US experience in security techniques that such information would be of help to Union officials engaged these problems, he remarked in later talk he had mentioned whole matter to Prime Minister.
Embassy considers greatest threat subversive activity lies in field labor. No recognized native trade unions in mining industry but must be some illegal groups strength of which and Communist influence therein unknown. What might be taken for Communism among natives is often to great extent native discontent at and protest against authorities repressive measures. Sole Communist MP3 who will lose seat under recently passed anti-Communist act, says of 10,000 Communist adherents during war peak days, only 1,500 paid dues. He states native apathy plus growing spirit African nationalism, which refuses trust any white leadership, prevents sizeable increase number [Page 1828] Communist followers at this time. South African CP last week announced dissolution view anti-Communist act,4 but since only CP program offers non-European hope equality and redress wrongs its attractiveness apparent and danger spread Communist influence among mine workers, although now relatively unimportant, remains.
Extent present industrial security measures practiced manganese industry unknown, but assume only usual safety precautions in force.

Embassy requests instructions whether note be handed Forsyth and whether Embassy minerals attaché visit manganese area to report on present conditions.5

  1. Not printed. It requested a reply to instruction 10, April 17, to Capetown, p. 1823.
  2. Not printed. The substance of the despatch is presented in the telegram printed here. Enclosed with the despatch was a memorandum of May 22 by William O. Vandenburg, Minerals Attaché at the Embassy in South Africa, on the problems of manganese procurement from South Africa. (845A.2547/6–2350)
  3. Sam Kahn, described in despatch 133, June 23, from Capetown, as “the only Communist member of Parliament, and undoubtedly a member of the South African Communist Party’s Politbureau.” According to the despatch, Kahn’s remarks referred to here were made during a confidential conversation in the presence of an Embassy officer.
  4. Regarding the dissolution of the South African Communist Party on June 20 and the entry into force of the South African Act for the Suppression of Communism on June 26, see also despatch 166, October 3, from Pretoria, p. 1834.
  5. Telegram 10, July 21, to Pretoria, authorized the Embassy to transmit a formal communication to External Affairs Secretary Forsyth and also authorized Embassy Minerals Attaché Vandenburg to visit South African manganese producing areas, if it were possible for him to do so without arousing South African officials, in order to report on the current situation there (845A.2547/7–1050).