Document 17 - Letter from E. R. Roux to W.G. Ballinger, 19 March 1929
53 Lensfield rd.
19 March 1929
Thanks very much for your letter and the report on Kadalie' resignation.
I do not think you have seriously altered the main conclusions of my article. Of course we all believe we are more virtuous than other people. In this matter of the I.C.U. and the Communists I think any unbiased observer would admit that the balance of virtue lies with the C.P. Kadalie's expulsion of the Communists is on a par with his other acts of treachery and opportunism. You have catalogued many of Kadalie's sins. Are you prepared to add this to the list? Now that Kadalie is out of the way, are you willing to agree to the re-admission of the Communists to the I.C.U.? Your answer to this question will decide whether we are justified in continuing to regard you as a right-winger or not.
The points on which the C.P. insists are: real trade union organisation; strike action not to be ruled out; and freedom of all workers to join the unions (i.e., the lifting of the ban on the Communists). If Howard Pim and Professor Brookes" are prepared to assist on this basis, we shall welcome whatever help they can give. But to allow Pim and company to obtain control of the Native trade union movement would be disastrous even from an I.L.P. point of view.
If, as you say, only a miracle can save the I.C.U., perhaps it would be worth while not waiting for the miracle. The Native Trade Union Federation is still young and comparatively weak but it has been established on sound lines and as far as I can judge at this distance is developing in a healthy manner. Why not start here? There is no nasty mess to be cleaned up first, as in the case of the I.C.U. I admit the tremendous difficulties attached to building a Native trade union and I know you have been having an awful time trying to put the I.C.U. house in order. My own idea is to start with a less ambitious programme, building up one trade union at a time and seeing that it functions as a trade union. This is what has happened in the case of the Laundry workers. Native tailors and other unions attached to the SANTUF. There is a tremendous lot of work to be done and very few people to do it. Personally I am prepared to work with anyone who is prepared to work with me on the lines set forth above and I think you will find that the CP itself will adopt a similar attitude. I should like to know more about your offer to the Native Federation. Not knowing any of the details I cannot express an opinion.
If you can convince me that you are not a right-winger according to my definition, I am prepared to write to the "Labour Monthly" withdrawing my statement to that effect.34
I hope to return to Africa some time this year. As for the road I visualise, I shall be very interested if not too happy, to travel along it.
E. R. Roux.