845A.411/3–2152: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Union of South Africa (Gallman) to the Department of State1


39. Re Embtel 37, March 20.3 Tense atmosphere in Capetown following govt’s reaction to appeal court decision. Govts implication that it will try by parliamentary means reverse appeal court ruling has given rise to uneasy rumors. This afternoon leader of opposition tried to move that House immediately debate Prime Min’s statement of [Page 906] yesterday4 as matter of urgent public importance. Pro-govt speaker ruled not matter of urgency and debate must await introduction govt proposals which may not be made until after recess month hence. Ineffectiveness of opposition leadership concern to followers. Rumors that torch commando5 meetings will result in clashes with Nationalists6 and veiled allegations that govt may covertly provoke native riots Apr 6 to show country that courts shld not interfere with Apartheid program reflect disturbed atmosphere here. Opposition speakers claimed in parliament today that country is afraid of what govt may do. Full background appeal court case in Emb despatch 370, Dec 10, 1951 and ref therein.7

  1. This telegram was repeated to Pretoria for Col. John J. Davis, Army Attaché at Pretoria.
  2. The Embassy Chancery was maintained at Capetown during sessions of the Union Parliament; otherwise it was located at Pretoria.
  3. Not printed. The telegram reported the Appeal Court decision concerning the Separate Representation of Voters Act. (845A.411/3–2052)
  4. On Mar. 21, 1952, the Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, Dr. Daniel F. Malan, announced his intention to introduce legislation to place the sovereignty of the Union Parliament beyond doubt and thereby negate the Appeal Court’s decision. (Telegram 40, from Capetown, Mar. 22, 1952; 845A.411/3–2252)
  5. Reference is to the Torch Commando Movement, originally called the War Veterans’ Action Committee, formed among exservicemen, all of European origin, during 1951 to protest the Separate Representation of Voters Act.
  6. Reference is to members of the National Party of South Africa, which constituted the majority party since 1948 and which was headed by Dr. Malan.
  7. Not printed. (845A.411/12–1051)