320/11–2051: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Union of South Africa (Gallman)1 to the Secretary of State


141. Members my staff and I had occasion at luncheon today to talk with number Cabinet Mins about developments at GA.

I spoke in turn with Havenga,2 Sauer3 and Naude.4 All three said that action of Trusteeship Comite in agreeing receive Herero petitions on So West Afr came as complete surprise to govt.5 All three expressed concern about action. Havenga stressed particularly that govt was unprepared for this and characterized situation as “very serious.” I found that he was not inclined to say more. Sauer emphasized that So African Govt was trying very hard to coop with West. Actions, such as taken by Trusteeship Comite, however, aroused public opinion very much. That made govts position very difficult. Govt now was faced among other things with difficult problem placating public opinion. Naude said he felt govt shld avoid any extreme action at this time so as not to call any more attn to the Trusteeship Comite action than absolutely necessary.

Host at luncheon was Malga, political correspondent of Die Burger, who returned only last week from three months visit to States. Malga is close personal friend of Prime Min and is generally very well informed. Malga expressed opinion to me that while govt was “very resentful” of action taken by Trusteeship Comite he did not think so extreme a step as withdrawal from UNO was now contemplated.

Robert Jones, counselor in charge FonOff polit section, told Connelly and Robertson6 yesterday Comite 4 action outside its competence [Page 696]and cld only be dealt with by GA. He said if GA approves this resolution wld establish dangerous precedent. Here he cited a similar possible GA irresponsible action resolution demanding withdrawal Brit troops from Suez.

Sole7 FonOff UN expert emphasized to us no legal basis for Comite 4 action since GA not Comite 4 set up ad hoc comite which was instructed operate along League mandate comite procedure requiring petitions be submitted through administrating power for later transmittal with its comments to mandate comite. Hence matter is properly one only GA can consider, not Comite 4.

Webber, editor govt mouthpiece Die Burger told Sweeney8 govt took a serious view of US abstention.9 He claimed Cabinet considered ordering Donges10 to leave Comite and return to Union, but did not consider leaving UN.11 Cabinet, according to Webber felt that it had been unwise in committing Union wholeheartedly to West defense effort because US now thought it can count on Union and cld afford placate other powers. Webber believes solution SWA problem is outright incorporation of territory into Union.

Sent Dept 141, rptd Paris (for USDel).

  1. Gallman’s appointment as Ambassador was effective August 22.
  2. N. C. Havenga, Minister of Finance.
  3. P. O. Sauer, Minister of Transport.
  4. J. F. T. Naude, Minister of Posts and Telegraphs.
  5. See editorial note, p. 699.
  6. David A. Robertson, First Secretary of Embassy.
  7. D. B. Sole.
  8. Joseph H. Sweeney, Attaché of Embassy in the Union of South Africa.
  9. Regarding the U.S. abstention, see editorial note, p. 699.
  10. Dr. T. E. Donges, South African Delegate in the Fourth Committee, was also Chairman of the Delegation of the Union of South Africa to the General Assembly. He was Minister of Interior in the Union Government.
  11. In a letter of November 24 to Luis Padilla Nervo, President of the General Assembly, Donges set forth at some length the reasons for South African opposition to the Fourth Committee’s action of November 16, and why the Union Government considered that action illegal. The letter concluded with a notification of South Africa’s temporary withdrawal from the Fourth Committee and a request for a “review of the constitutionality of the resolution in question by the General Assembly.” (GA (VI), Annexes, agenda item 38) Padilla Nervo in replying in a letter of November 29 said he could “find no valid basis for following the course of action you propose.” (Ibid.)