352. National Intelligence Estimate0

NIE 73–60


The Problem

To re-examine the outlook for South Africa in the light of present racial tension.

[Page 754]


The recent wave of racial disturbances in the Union of South Africa has reinforced our view that in that country the years ahead will be characterized by increasing tension, culminating eventually—probably after considerable bloodshed—in the end of white domination. Nevertheless, we continue to believe that the white minority, with all the powers of a modern state at its disposal, and with a firm determination to use them, will be able to maintain its dominance for the next few years. (Para. 22)
Despite their number, the Africans are presently too weak and disorganized to mount a broad and sustained campaign of resistance in the face of the means of coercion available to the white community. Nevertheless, localized strikes, boycotts, and other manifestations, touched off by some specific grievances or incidents, will probably flare up more frequently over the next few years. The more activist non-white elements are likely to turn to terrorism. Africans outside the Union will probably find means of furnishing at least small amounts of arms and other material support to the Africans within the Union. (Paras. 11–15, 23)
Continuation of internal strife in this manner will further increase racial tensions in the community and magnify the difficulties of maintaining white dominance. It may provoke a number of Asian-African states—and perhaps others—to adopt economic sanctions against South Africa. It will lead to some local economic dislocations within the country, and will further reduce South Africa’s ability to attract the investment capital, both foreign and domestic, which is needed for the country’s continued prosperity. (Paras. 24–25)
At present the rather substantial structure of influence which the Communists had established within the leadership of the older non-white political movements in South Africa appears to have been hard hit by recent events. Since the development of a new apparatus will probably have to be started at the local level, it cannot be accomplished rapidly. The Communists will be hampered by the absence of reliable and numerous African cadres. Over the longer run, however, with their conspiratorial skills and their ability to get material support from the Bloc, Communists may come to exercise important influence within the protest movement in the Union. (Para. 16)
Although the white community generally supports the government’s efforts to stamp out African dissidence, recent events have aroused increased misgivings, even within the dominant Nationalist Party, as to the moral, economic, and international implications of the government’s apartheid policy. Within another year or two, the growth of this feeling will probably begin to force some easing of the government’s more onerous racial restrictions, but no comprehensive accommodation [Page 755] to non-white aspirations is likely. Probable government concessions are likely to have no more than a temporary calming effect, and probably will only stimulate pressure for further change. (Paras. 17–21)
Growing world disapproval of its racial policies will probably push South Africa into an increasingly isolated and controversial position in international affairs. There is at least an even chance that it will be forced out of the Commonwealth if it carries out its plans to become a republic. South Africa will almost certainly be a target in the UN for the growing number of Afro-Asian members, but it is unlikely to withdraw unless sanctions are voted against it. Given the vehemence of both Afro-Asian and South African feeling, the Western powers will find it increasingly difficult to avoid offending one side or the other. (Paras. 26–27)

[Here follow the “Discussion” portion of the estimate (paragraphs 7–27), with sections headed “Introduction,” “Non-White Pressures for Change,” “Reactions in the White Community,” “The Internal Outlook,” and “External Repercussions;” Annexes A, “The Union of South Africa,” and B, “Military and Security Forces;” and a map.]

  1. Source: Department of State, INRNIE Files. Secret. National Intellegence Estimates (NIEs) were interdepartmental reports drafted by officers from agencies represented on the Intelligence Advisory Committee (IAC), coordinated by the Office of National Estimates of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), approved by the IAC, and circulated to the President, the National Security Council, and other appropriate officers of cabinet level.

    A note on the cover sheet reads as follows:

    “Submitted by the Director of Central Intelligence. The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of this estimate: The Central Intellegence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and The Joint Staff.

    “Concurred in by the United States Intelligence Board on 19 July 1960. Concurring were the Director of Intelligence and Research, Department of State; the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army; the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Intelligence, Department of the Navy; the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, USAF; the Director for Intelligence, The Joint Staff; the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Special Operations; and the Director of the National Security Agency. The Atomic Energy Commission Representative to the USIB, and the Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, abstained, the subject being outside of their jurisdiction.”