endum shows that despite all the misery and suffering, the majority of Whites want more apartheid. And that is what Dr. Verwoerd, a shrewd mass psychologist (his docttorate subject was psychology), offered them when he asked them to approve of his plan for a republic.
The single shouted word, "Lumumba," probably earned the Republicans more votes than any other slogan in their extensive campaign, according to Stanley Uys, special correspondent for the Christian Science Montor. At one Johannesburg polling station, Republicans brandished Liberal Party posters showing a white hand clasping a black hand. They asked: "Do you want South Africa to be ruled by these Kaffir-lovers?"
It should be stressed that not all White South Africans supported the Republic: Verwoerd's majority was only about 52 per cent. Most of those who rejected Verwoerd's republic plans were English speaking people; a few were Afrikaners.
The anti-republicans rejected Verwoerd's appeal for "White unity" to strengthen him in his "struggle" against the non-Whites; they refused to be stampeded by Nationalist propaganda that a second Congo situation would develop if concessions were made to the non-Whites. But the greatest fear of the anti-republicans was that the Nationalists would carry out threats, made by their extremist spokesmen, to discriminate against the English-speaking people in the new republic.
Nevertheless, Verwoerd's regime has been strengthened by the referendum; his followers are triumphant; they want action. Which leads to the question: What happens after the republic is launched next year?
Verwoerd and his government will have to face threats at home and abroad. Their greatest problem will concern South Africa's relations with the British Commonwealth.
When South Africa becomes a republic it will automatically lost its status as a member of the Commonwealth. In offering the electorate a republic Verwoerd promised that South Africa would be readmitted to the Commonwealth as a republic, on the same basis that Ghana and India were. He did this to assure the voters that South Africa would not lose the trade benefits it enjoys through the tariff concessions accorded to all Commonwealth countries.
Readmission to the Commonwealth "club" requires the unanimous consent of all the members. Ghana, India, and the other Afro-Asian members of the "club," however, will almost certainly refuse to allow South Africa to rejoin. Ghana, along with various other countries, is already boycotting South Africa goods in an attempt to get the Nationalists to change their policies and accord rights to the non-Whites. This boycott has not had much effect on the economy of South Africa; the few who have lost their jobs have been non-Whites. But loss of Commonwealth trade preferences would plunge South Africa into a depression, hitting not only the Black workers, but also the White wool and fruit farmers who thrive today as a result of Commonwealth membership.
British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan undoubtedly wants South Africa to remain inside the Commonwealth--Tory supporters in England have a great stake in the South African gold industry, and their investment should, at all costs, be protected.
If South Africa is thrown into the economic wilderness by a refusal of the Afro-Asian states to allow her to remain inside the Common wealth, it would also lose the protection now guaranteed in the defense pacts with Britain and other Commonwealth countries.
South Africa would become the target for any alliance of independent Black states which might seek to liberate the Africans in the new republic and at the same time find grounds for closer unity. It is unlikely that a task force composed of Ghanian, Nigerian or Indian troops would ever invade South Africa, but the mere existence of a liberatory movement up north would cause panic among the Whites.
If any African state did attempt to intervene in South Africa, the White Republic could not expect support from the Western nations, including Britain and the United States, which have already condemned apartheid in official statements and want to retain the friendship of the Afro-Asian states which now hold the balance of power in the United Nations.
At home, Verwoerd's troubles have already started. In Natal, the "Jingo" Province, the republic was rejected by more than 70 per cent of the voters, the majority of whom are English-speaking and regard Britain as "home." There have been cries of "secession" in the province since the result of the referendum has been announced.
Verwoerd also has to silence the British Press which was described by a leading government supporter at the height of the referendum campaign as "the last bastion" which the Nationalists had to overcome to gain complete control over South Africa.
At the time of this writing, four White, anti-government journalists are in jail, or facing charges, for criticizing the government's handling of the state of emergency which succeeded the death of 68 Africans at Sharpeville in March. Lewis Nkosi, an African reporter who should be at Harvard on an Associate Nieman Fellowship, is having trouble obtaining a passport to leave South Africa. He will be lucky to get here.
The principal offense of the English newspapers in the eyes of the Nationalists is their relentless exposure of the unsavory facts of apartheid rule. They are conservative when compared with newspapers here and in England; their policies are directed toward achieving reforms within constitutional framework; they criticize all forms of violence, whether it is perpetrated by the White authorities or by the African demonstrators.
Once the Nationalists have silenced the English Press they will be able to draw a smokescreen over any future riots and disturbances. The outside world relies to a large extent on the ability of reporters employed by the English Press for stories about conditions in South Africa.
The White Government must hope of the Cold War to become colder, and for the Congo muddle to become more uncertain, so that world attention is directed away from South Africa.
The government hopes, too, that the United Nations will lose prestige and power because a dangerous (to Verwoerd) precedent of U.N. intervention has been established in the Congo.
At home, the republican government will have to do its best to prevent the outbreak of another Sharpeville. After 68 African demonstrators had been killed and nearly 200 wounded by police fire at Sharpeville township near Johannesburg last March, condemnation of South Africa's racial policies came from many nations, including the United States.
Events have moved with unexpected rapidity in South Africa this year.
British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan set the ball rolling. After politely inspecting mines, factories, and "model" Black townships, he made his celebrated "winds of change" speech to an astounded White Parliament in Cape Town. He made it clear that Great Britain could no longer remain silent about apartheid, and condemned it vigorously.
This led to cries that Britain had deserted White South Africa to curry favor with the emergent Black states of Africa. Verwoerd said that only a republic could solve the problems facing the Whites, and speeded up his plans to hold the referendum.
Then, in March, came the shootings at Sharpeville.
The Pan-African Congress, a splinter group of Chief Albert Luthuli's leading African National Congress, decided to test its strength among African workers by calling for the massive demonstration against the "pass laws," the symbol of White rule.
When news of the shooting reached Africans in other urban areas, spontaneous demonstrations were staged in protest against the police action. Several men and women fled from South Africa because they feared arrest.
For a few giddy days, the terrified White authorities suspended the "pass" laws to placate angry African people. Some observers felt that a revolution would succeed. But by force of arms the pass laws were reintroduced; African workers were persuaded to return to work.
There followed a period of rethinking among the Whites. Some supporters of apartheid called for a "new deal" and a drastic revision of discriminatory legislation. Verwoerd's position as leader of the Nationalist Party was said to be weakening.
But three bullets from a pistol aimed by a wealthy White framer-businessman ended all that. David Pratt's attempt on Verwoerd's life consolidated Nationalist Afrikanerdom because Verwoerd became a martyr, prepared to sacrifice his life in his crusade for apartheid and White rule.
Sharpeville marks the turning point in South Africa's history. It shows that the extremist Pan Africanist Congress has successfully challenged the position of moderate Chief Albert Luthuli as leader of the Black political forces.
Luthuli, who is aging, may get the Nobel Peace prize in recognition of his patient non-violent leadership against apartheid. But, in the republican days that lie ahead, his appeals for calm and reason are likely to be ignored by the majority of Africans.
Verwoerd must struggle on, now that he is committed to carry apartheid to its conclusion. He must try to keep the two great. White sections--Afrikaners and Englishmen--together. He must try to get South Africa readmitted to the Commonwealth as a racist republic. He must meet the challenge of economic, and perhaps, a physical intervention from the Black states of Africa.
Even with the help of Sabre jets, armored cars, and sten guns, the White Government cannot keep the Black majority down forever.
It has found that no matter how many non-White leaders are imprisoned and banished, new leaders appear, and there are usually men and women who are more extreme, violent, and unyielding in their demands for equal political and economic rights for their people.
It is merely a question of time now before the pot, which has been blackened with much burning, will boil over