Business School Alumni Club in South Africa Gives Award to Ardent Apartheid Advocate

The following article was written by Fran R. Schumer with dispatches from Martha Shirk, an American journalist in Durban, South Africa.

The Harvard Business School Club of South Africa has awarded South Africa's minister of finance, a leading proponent of apartheid policy, its "business-statesman of the year" designation.

Nico Diederichs, the 71-year-old financial expert who is credited with boosting South Africa's growth rate in recent years, is among the most ardent advocates of the National Party's hard-line white supremacy policy.

A spokesman for the Harvard Business School Club in South Africa, reached at his home in Johannesberg, told The Crimson the club honored Diederichs "purely for his economic policy."

"We don't know what his politics are and we are not interested," Rubuen R. Sive, president of the alumni club, said Friday.


Administrators at the Harvard Business School alumni office in Cambridge said the clubs operate independently and have no links other than purely formal ones with the Business School.

The alumni office in Cambridge forwards names of South African alumni to the Johannesberg club but has no jurisdiction over or involvement with the club's political and social functions, Eleanor Fitzpatrick, an administrator in the office, said yesterday.

An American journalist currently employed as a news reporter for the Durban Daily News, a newspaper near Johannesberg, relayed the following information in a May 1 letter to The Crimson:

Nico Diederichs has become known in the East African states as "the voice of apartheid" since an interview in October with a Kenyan journalist in which he said that South Africa was a "white man's country" and would remain so.

In a public interview Diederichs said, "South Africa is five per cent of the whole African continent. Is it too much to ask that five per cent of the African continent be given to white people who can also employ millions of black people and make their standards of living much higher than in other parts?"

Diederichs has called "the new type [of liberalism] which advocates that all nations and all people should be equal" one of the most serious threats to South Africa.

Diederichs became a member of the South African National Party in 1940 and rose to a prominent position in the party. He has been a member of Parliament since 1948 and minister of finance since 1958.