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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 17. July 18th, 1973

Hart's Position

Hart's Position

Mr B.B. Thompson,

Chairman, A.D.S.A.T. 10 Cambridge St. Ashburton

Dear Mr Thompson,


Thank you for your letter of 2 July concerning my attitude to Uganda's participation in the 1974 Commonwealth Games.

You make the point in your letter that 'Last December General Amin of Uganda announced that in future only black African Ugandan citizens would be eligible for selection for Ugandan national sports teams, and that in future, no Asians, not even Ugandan citizens would qualify for selection.'

This statement has absolutely no basis in fact what-so-ever. I would ask you where your information came from, but there is no need for I too read the advertisement in The Christchurch Star' (29 June 1973) from which you quote.

I have written to the Editor of the Christchurch Star lodging the strongest possible protest over the inclusion of the advertisement in the paper. My objections were based on the belief that no newspaper should print advertisements on contentious political issues which contain in them blatant errors of fact, for the result can only be to mislead members of the general public. Some people will believe anything they read. In this instance, you certainly have.

I looked carefully through several New Zealand papers for the month of December 1972. Nowhere could I find an announcement which in any way measured up to the one mentioned in the advertisement and quoted in your letter. Given the wide amount of publicity in the New Zealand press that General Amin was receiving at that time, and bearing in mind how closely such a statement, were it ever made, would have related to the Springbok rugby tour controversy. I cannot believe that such a statement by General Amin could have gone unreported.

However, I decided to check further. I contacted Dr Ruth Butterworth, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Auckland and an acknowledged expert on African politics, and asked her as to the validity of the statement. She informed me that since December 1972, there have been at least two international sporting fixtures held on the African continent to which Ugandan teams have been sent.

In both instances these teams have had both African and Asian Ugandans in them.

Given the situation, I do not consider that H.A.R.T. has either cause or justification to press for Uganda's expulsion from the Commonwealth Games.

I am not denying that there is racial discrimination in Uganda, but it would be a serious error to equate what is happening in Uganda with what is happening in South Africa. Racist Amin's appeal certainly is, but the difference between his kind of scapegoating, and the institutionalised racism of the South African Government is still to be measured in light years.

I have taken the liberty of including with this letter an article written by Dr Butterworth on the Ugandan situation. This article first appeared in Hart News (Vol 1. No 9, November 1972).

I was surprised to read that not only are you anxious 'to see that the Ugandan visit to New Zealand is cancelled unless multi-racial trials are held,' but that in addition to this, you would be prepared to assist H.A.R.T. with organising demonstrations should such a visit eventuate.

Your organisation claims to be against what it terms political interference in sport. On a number of occasions you made it quite clear that you were in favour of the springboks rugby tour, irrespective of the methods used to select that team. I therefore find it inexplicable that you should be pushing for the expulsion of Uganda from the Commonwealth Games. Is this not the same sort of political interference that you opposed appropos the springbok rugby tour?

I note that you say 'ADSAT is concerned to see that one law is not made for racially selected South African teams, and another for racially selected (sic) Ugandan teams.' If this is the reason for your brusque volte face, then one can only be surprised at the weakness of your resolution. What campaign worthy of its beliefs scraps principles on which it was based after the first defeat? Certainly none that I would wish to be associated with.

An explanation consistent with both this volte face and with the tenor of many of your public statements would be that ADSAT quite simply is a pro-apartheid organisation with the ancillary lack of knowledge about and concern for African ruled states.

I must state that H.A.R.T. could not and would not prevent you from demonstrating against Uganda's participation in the Commonwealth Games, but certainly, in such an endeavour, you would not have our support. On the other hand, H.A.R.T. will do all possible to inform people as to the essential differences between the Ugandan and South African situations.

One of the reasons why an organisation such as yours was able to gain some small measure of support was because of your ability to capitalise on an almost universal ignorance concerning the dynamics and the realities of African politics. In the New Zealand community at, large there seems to be little realisation as to what African politics are all about. Looking at Africa through European eyes, making European value judgements about what is taking place on the African continent is a widespread New Zealand malaise.

I am therefore hopeful that as people become more aware of what African politics are all about, the appeal that your organisation has in some quarters will diminish, for I remain convinced that organisations such as ADSAT can only exist in an atmosphere of ignorance.

I am sending copies of this letter to both the Prime Minister the Rt. Hon N.E. Kirk, and to the Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, Mr R.S. Scott. Like yourself, I have made the contents of this letter available to the news media.

Yours sincerely,

Trevor Richards,

National Chairman.