This year marks 70 years since the signing of the historic Joint Declaration of Cooperation. Commonly referred to as ‘The Three Doctors’ Pact’, the agreement was signed on the 9th March 1947 by Dr Monty Naicker, Dr Yusuf Dadoo, and the then leader of the ANC, Dr Alfred Xuma. The Joint Meeting, which was attended by members of the ANC, the Transvaal Indian Congress, and the Natal Indian Congress (NIC), was a response to the government’s attempts to divide and alienate the different non-European groups through it’s various oppressive, racially divisive laws that gave different rights to different persons depending on which racial group they belonged to.
Just prior to the signing of the Joint Declaration The Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act of 1946 was adopted by the government in an attempt to impose a wage labour on Indian growers. Leaders of the various anti-apartheid bodies resisted the new measure, along with the long list of other acts by the government aimed at oppressing non-European citizens, and the Three Doctors Pact was signed as a way of strengthening their opposition to such measures by joining forces.
The alliance, which saw groups of different races joining hands, was a non-racial one in the true sense. In the words of Mr MD Naidoo, a member of the NIC, “it should be emphasised once again that …… links being forged between the African National Congress, the APU and the Indian Congresses does not mean that an anti-White movement is being launched. The non-European people ……. would welcome the friendship and assistance of democratic Europeans. It requires to be emphasised also that this coordination does not mean a submergence of identity or a loss of independence”.
Today the Pact is seen as the precursor to the Freedom Charter that was signed in 1955, and ultimately the Constitution that came into effect in 1997. The Three Doctors Pact appealed to all democratic acitizens of South Africa to support fully and co-operate in the struggle for:
- Full franchise
- Equal economic and industrial rights and opportunities and the recognition of African trade unions under the Industrial Conciliation Act
- The removal of all land restrictions against non-Europeans and the provision of adequate housing facilities for all non-Europeans
- The extension of free and compulsory education to non-Europeans
- Guaranteeing freedom of movement and the abolition of Pass Laws against the African people and the Provincial Barriers against Indians
- And the removal of all discriminatory and oppressive legislation from the Union’s Statute-Book
The Dr Monty Naicker Memorial can be found on Dr Monty Naicker Street in Durban and forms part of the Liberation Heritage Route
Images courtesy of sahistory.org.za