Oswald Pirow was an active and influential cabinet minister in the Hertzog administration in South Africa for more than a decade. Perhaps more than anyone else in office, Pirow shaped the new aggressive Union policies in external matters which stressed a ‘South Africa First’ ideology. Given a free hand by Hertzog, and as minister responsible for defence and transport, Pirow aimed to weaken the British connexion, enhance South Africa's image, and expand Union influence throughout ‘white’ Africa to the north. The agent charged to carry out these new policies was South African Airways, organized by Pirow in 1934 as Africa 's first national airline. As the Union 's ‘chosen instrument’, SAA was used by Pirow to challenge British paramountcy in the Rhodesias and East Africa, in direct conflict with Britain 's own struggling Imperial Airways. The rivalry was for routes and services, mail and passengers, and ultimately for prestige. By 1939, Pirow 's airline was established in operation from Kenya southward, and winning the struggle with its fleet of modern Junkers aircraft. Pirow was the promoter, the organizer and the hard bargainer with whom the British had to deal time and time again. For technical and financial reasons, Imperial Airways could seldom match Pirow 's ambitions, and on the eve of World War II, Pirow could claim great success for his air-minded policy. Only the coming of the war was to remove Pirow and his policy from the scene.