59 Electoral Defeat Again (1929)
From Reconciliation Part 7 of Grey Steel by H.C. Armstrong

HARDLY had the bitterness roused by the controversy over the Flag died down before the new elections in 1929 were at hand and the parties began to prepare for the fight. Smuts was convinced that he could stage a come-back. He prepared a programme, but so dull and ordinary that it roused no enthusiasm even amongst his own supporters.

Hertzog, however, understood the tactics of political warfare far better. He concentrated on Smuts personally. He knew that it was easier for the voters to hate a man than to hate a programme. He pointed out that he had a cabinet of young men, while Smuts kept to the older men, and he invited the young men to stand by him and so take their chance. He had brought prosperity to the country, while Smuts had brought bankruptcy. He attacked the love which Smuts was always showing for England. Uniting South Africa! Smuts did not know what the phrase meant. "The national unity outlined by General Smuts," he said, "is unity obtained by allowing the British lion to devour the Afrikander lamb. . . . General Smuts has always been an enemy to national unity in a South African national spirit." It was no better for the English in South Africa, he said, than for the Dutch, and he appealed to the English to join him as well.

But his master blow he kept until the election was close. Smuts had made a speech on a Great African State which contained a number of loosely worded phrases. Hertzog leapt at these. "General Smuts and the English Imperialists behind him," he announced, "plan to establish a black dominion in which South Africa will be no more than the white spot on the tail. . . . South Africa will be one small section of a great Kaffir state." Together with Tieiman Roos he issued a manifesto denouncing Smuts as "the apostle of a Great Kaffir state from the Cape to the Sudan with equality between white men and black men," and calling on all white men in South Mrica to rise and hound Smuts out and to stand firm and protect their wives and their homes and their families from the hordes of the black men.

The manifesto issued by Hertzog and Tielman Roos was a lie. Smuts had never been the "apostle of a Kaffir state" nor favoured equality between white man and black men," but the mass of the voters did not know that, and the whole country, and especially the Dutch farmers, turned out in angry indignation and voted against Smuts. Hertzog was returned with a majority, but the Labour Party was wiped out. Creswell remained in the Cabinet to represent four Labour members in the House. Tielman Roos resigned. He was ill with severe kidney-trouble. The doctors had warned him that he had probably only three years to live, and he must rest and be quiet. He went as a judge to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

Once again Smuts, defeated, went out into the Wilderness of Opposition.

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