Dr. A.L. Geyer as Suid-Afrika se hoë kommissaris in die Verenigde Koninkryk (1950-1954)

Heiberg, Jacobus Petrus (2001-12)

Dissertation (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Dr. A.L. Geyer's appointment in June 1950 as the Union's new High Commissioner to London was largely due to the political objectives of the then government. He was confronted by a number of related challenges, i.e. the furthering of the existing multifaceted South-African-British relations, the promotion of the apartheid policy and convincing the Union's critics as to the merits of the above policy. Geyer, a loyal Afrikaner and staunch republican, experienced soon after arrival that the policy of apartheid and the Union Government's insistence on the transfer of the High Commission territories were placing the existing diplomatic relations under considerable strain. To Geyer's frustration the Union Government failed to realise that the application of the apartheid policy 'was affecting South Africa's foreign relations detrimentally. The effect of the Union's domestic policies was therefore prohibiting any possibility of the transfer of the British-controlled neighbouring territories. Geyer was thus faced with maintaining a delicate balance between white-centred aspirations in South Africa, championing South Africa's interests overseas and his own evolving perspective that the application of the apartheid policy was not going to be acceptable to the outside world. Geyer was also well aware that the Cold War would contribute substantially to the constitutional liberation of the former British colonies in Africa, which in turn would affect the composition of the Commonwealth and South Africa's future membership. He therefore took Union politicians to task for actions that were geared to satisfy short-term party-political expectations, without taking into account both the national and international ramifications of such actions. Geyer did not differ fundamentally with the principles and objectives of apartheid; however, he was no stereotyped Afrikaner who simply supported apartheid without any questioning. In his public appearances he emphasised the historical, cultural and sociopolitical motivation for apartheid, the practical embodiment of the policy and the rights and role of the whites in South Africa. He portrayed apartheid as a political model that envisages equal, but separate development for all races that would ensure the peaceful co- existence of a multi-racial community. Geyer continuously emphasised that only visible and positive results emanating from the application of apartheid, would guarantee acceptance of the policy and also secure the future of the white population in South Africa. Geyer was therefore very critical of the government's inability to give meaningful content to the policy of apartheid. Geyer's biggest personal disappointment was the inability of his mentor and friend, Dr. D.F. Malan, to rise above the role of the party politician in becoming a competent Minister of Foreign Affairs and as Prime Minister, a statesman of international stature.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Politieke oogmerke het daartoe gelei dat die Unieregering vir dr. A.L. Geyer in Junie 1950 na Londen gestuur het as die Unie se nuwe Hoë Kommissaris. Hy is deur verwante uitdagings gekonfronteer, naamlik om die veelvlakkige Suid-Afrikaans-Britse betrekkinge uit te bou, om die apartheidsbeleid te bevorder en om die kritici van die Unieregering te oortuig dat daar geregverdigde meriete in die beleid is. Geyer, 'n lojale en republikeinsgesinde Afrikaner, het na sy aankoms ervaar dat die Unieregering se apartheidsbeleid en die volgehoue aandrang om die oordrag van die Hoë Kommissariaatgebiede, toenemende diplomatieke spanning tussen die lande veroorsaak het. Tot Geyer se frustrasie kon die Unieregering nie insien dat die toepassing van die apartheidsbeleid direkte invloed uitoefen op Suid-Afrika se buitelande betrekkinge nie, wat weer die oordrag van die Brits-beheerde gebiede onmoontlik gemaak het. Geyer moes gevolglik 'n delikate balans handhaaf tussen die blanksentriese verwagtinge in die Unie, die bevordering van Suid-Afrika se belange in die buiteland en sy groterwordende perspektief dat die toepassing van die apartheid nie vir die buitewêreld aanvaarbaar is nie. Geyer was ook terdeë daarvan bewus dat die Koue Oorlog, die grondwetlike ontvoogding van Brittanje se Afrika-kolonies sou verhaas, wat weer beduidende implikasies vir die samestelling van die Statebond en die Unie se voortgesette lidmaatskap ingehou het. Hy het Unie-politici dus gewaarsku teen optredes wat daarop toegespits was om korttermyn partypolitieke verwagtinge te bevredig, sonder om die nasionale en ook internasionale implikasies van die uitsprake te verreken. Geyer het geen fundamentele verskille met die beginsels en oogmerke van apartheid gehad nie, maar terselfdertyd was hy ook nie 'n stereotipe Afrikaner en naprater van apartheid nie. In sy optredes het hy deurentyd die historiese, kulturele en sosio-politieke beweegredes vir apartheid, die beliggaming van die beleid en die blanke se aanspraak op en rol in Suid-Afrika beklemtoon. Apartheid is voorgehou as 'n politieke model wat ten doel het om deur middel van gelykwaardige, maar afsonderlike ontwikkeling die ruimte te skep vir die vreedsame voortbestaan van 'n veelrassige gemeenskap. Geyer het groot erns daarvan gemaak om te beklemtoon dat die aanvaarding van die apartheidsbeleid en die blanke se voortbestaan in Suid-Afrika nou verbind word aan die positiewe en sigbare gevolge van die toepassing van apartheid. Geyer het dit dan ook nodig gevind om kritiek uit te spreek oor die regering se klaarblyklike onvermoë om daadwerklike inhoud aan positiewe apartheid te gee. Die grootste persoonlike teleurstelling wat Geyer egter beleef het, was sy ontnugtering dat sy mentor en vriend, dr. D.F. Malan, nie sy rol as partypolitikus kon ontgroei en ontwikkel in 'n bekwame minister van Buitelandse Sake en 'n Eerste Minister wat 'n staatsman van internasionale statuur is nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/52244
This item appears in the following collections: