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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Role of Diefenbaker, Macmillan and Verwoerd in the Withdrawal of South Africa from the Commonwealth
Author:Wood, J.R.T.
Periodical:Journal of Contemporary African Studies
Geographic terms:English-speaking Africa
South Africa
Politics and Government
international relations
Abstract:John Diefenbaker, Canada's Prime Minister between 1957 and 1963, has been portrayed as the main catalyst in the departure of the Union of South Africa from the Commonwealth in 1961. Indeed, had he cooperated with Sir Robert Menzies, the Australian Prime Minister, he might perhaps have persuaded the Afro-Asians not to oppose South Africa's continued membership. But the then British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, could have exerted an equally powerful influence; and moreover, on his part, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd, the South African Prime Minister, could have been less intransigent. It was Verwoerd who, on March 15, 1961, finally made the decision to withdraw South Africa from membership at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in London. In doing so, he was avoiding responsibility for a split in the Commonwealth, and probably also bowing to the inevitable, before that Conference - or a subsequent one - expelled South Africa. Ref.