Daniel Francois Malan

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Daniel Francois Malan

The Afrikaner pastor and journalist Daniel Francois Malan (1874-1959) was the fourth prime minister of South Africa. His advocacy of segregation made him the symbol of white South Africa's defiance of world condemnation of his country's racial policies.

Daniel Malan was born near Riebeeck West on May 22, 1874. He graduated in theology from Stellenbosch and obtained a doctorate in philosophy from Utrecht. On his return home he served for a while as a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church and involved himself in work to solve the poor-white problem. A dour champion of the Afrikaner's cause, he was one of the leaders of the second movement to place Afrikaans on a footing of equality with English.

James Hertzog had founded the National party in 1914. The following year Malan was appointed editor of its daily, Die Burger. He campaigned vigorously in its columns for Afrikaner political unity and entered Parliament in 1918. He became leader of the Cape nationalists and was appointed to Hertzog's first Cabinet in 1924. The depression forced Hertzog and Jan Christiaan Smuts into a coalition in 1933. Malan regarded this as a betrayal of nationalist Afrikanerdom. He broke with Hertzog and formed a "purified" National party. In World War II Malan opposed South Africa's participation. His relations with the Nazis were a subject of inquiry after the war.

It is impossible to give a balanced picture of a South African political leader without referring to his views on the race question. Malan's rule was an era of transition from the paternalistic segregation of his predecessors in office to what has been described as the efficient inhumanity of the apartheid ideologues.

In 1947 the National party appointed a committee to draw up a program for the 1948 general elections. Its recommendations were published as a pamphlet in which apartheid was formally stated to be the party's policy. Its main points included the preservation of white supremacy, separation of the races, and retribalization of the Africans. It was this policy which brought the National party to power in May 1948.

African reactions to Malan's rule were without precedent in the history of South Africa. Chief Albert Luthuli, a known moderate who was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his advocacy of nonviolence, started speaking publicly of "new methods of struggle." The militants demanded "direct action." Violence, in which black and white were killed and wounded, erupted in the main industrial areas between 1948 and 1954. Laws were passed disenfranchising the Africans and tightening segregation in the ownership of land. In 1952 the Africans launched a campaign for the defiance of unjust laws, and more than 8,000 people went to jail. Luthuli was deposed for his support of the campaign.

Crises erupted in the colored, Indian, and white communities. Differences on the constitution developed in the white community, and former servicemen formed the Torch Commando to oppose Malanism. India severed diplomatic relations with South Africa in 1954.

Malan opposed what he regarded as the haste with which the colonial powers were freeing Africa. When Kwame Nkrumah took his seat in the Council of Ministers, Malan protested that this would have unfortunate consequences for the British Commonwealth. He pressed—unsuccessfully—for the incorporation of Basutoland, Bechuanaland, and Swaziland.

Malan resigned as leader of the National party toward the end of 1954 and died on Feb. 7, 1959.

Further Reading

The reports of the debates in South Africa's Parliament from 1918 to 1954 constitute the most reliable references on Malan available to the reader of English. Considerable information on Malan may be found in Edward Callan, Albert John Luthuli and the South African Race Conflict (1962); Brian Bunting, The Rise of the South African Reich (1964); and C. F. J. Muller, ed., 500 Years: A History of South Africa (1969). Recommended for historical background is Eric A. Walker, A History of Southern Africa (1928; 3d ed. 1962). □

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Daniel Francois Malan

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