Speaking to 5,000 anti-republicans in Cape Town, Sept 13 - with only three weeks to go before polling in the referendum on whether South Africa shall become a republic - Opposition leader Sir De Villiers Graaff urged urban voters to make a great effort at the polls.
Speaking to 5,000 anti-republicans in Cape Town, Sept 13 - with only three weeks to go before polling in the referendum on whether South Africa shall become a republic - Opposition leader Sir De Villiers Graaff urged urban voters to make a great effort at the polls. He rejected Prime Minister Verwoerd's proposals outright and put forward a "South African manifesto" in the place of the Nationalists' republican plans.
Cheered wildly by one of Cape Town's biggest audiences packing the City Hall and overflowing into the streets. Sir De Villiers Graaff said the issue was not simply whether there should be a republic, but also whether South Africa would remain in the Commonwealth. Australia's Premier Menzies had backed the view that Commonwealth unanimity would be necessary for a South African republic to remain in the family of nations. The Nationalists were so "blind, so stupid and so bigoted that they do not really care whether South Africa stays in the Commonwealth or not". They had put the republic first - and unity second. What they needed was a change of heart, not a republic.
In his manifesto, Sir De Villiers Graaff called for national unity based on a positive attitude of understanding and friendship; the developing among non-Europeans of a sense of belonging to South Africa; and the consolidation of existing friendships with other nations, in view of the cold war and ever-increasing isolation threatening South Africa, by restoring confidence aboard through moving in a more enlightened direction than the Nationalists had done.
Later, a motion of confidence in Sir De Villiers Graaff as leader of the United Party and the "future Prime Minister of South Africa" was overwhelmingly passed by his supporters, many of whom displayed placards reading "Nee" - No to the Republic.