Abandoning freedom for a fairytale destination
2010-04-22, Issue 478
http://pambazuka. org/en/category/ features/ 63887
As South Africa prepares to celebrate Freedom Day on 27 April, Motsoko Pheko warns that the negotiated settlement that ended apartheid 16 years ago failed to take into consideration ‘the primary objectives for which the liberation struggle was fought’. The country’s constitution may be the best in the world, but isn’t it time it was amended on the fundamental issues that affect the majority poor, Pheko asks.
What are we celebrating this April 27? Some say we are celebrating democracy, the birth of a rainbow nation, the miracle of a negotiated settlement, the best constitution in the world which makes South Africa the only country in Africa that has legalised same-sex marriages, and the fifth in the whole world to do so.
Sixteen years of post-apartheid period, however, shows that the foundation upon which South Africa is built has dangerous cracks. The negotiated settlement was one-sided. The negotiations did not take into consideration the primary objectives for which the liberation struggle was fought. The fundamental interests of the majority 80 per cent were terribly compromised. The negotiators mistook the beginning of a long journey for arrival at the destination.
That is why the South African constitution has not been amended except when it was to move the people of Khutsong to North West and those of Matatiele to the Eastern Cape. It was amended also when the residents of Phiri, a poor community in Soweto opposed the installation of water metres that made water expensive and unaffordable for them. The South African constitution has never been amended on any fundamental issues that affect the majority poor.
The land policy of the ruling party is an unmitigated disaster. Land is the trophy over which the national liberation struggle was fought. Land is the national asset without which there can be no economic liberation of the majority poor. In South Africa, Africans are 80 per cent of the population, but they have 13 per cent of the land. This is as result of the Native Land Act 1913 that colonially legalised the land dispossession of the African people and created the ‘Native Reserves’ – the latter ‘Bantustans’ – as reservoir of cheap native labour for farms and mines. Section 25 of the South African constitution is now just another name for the Native Land Act 1913. It forbids any land claims by Africans before June 1913.
After the Native Land Act, the first secretary of the African National Congress, Solly Plaatje said, ‘What took place when Ministers and members (of the colonial parliament) met in caucus in Cape Town, they alone know, but we have the result in the Native Land Act 1913. At the beginning of May (1913), no one knew that the year would see the last territorial freedom for Africans… On June 19 the same year, the law had been enacted and was operating in every part of South Africa.’ Africans were dispossessed of so much land that the secretary of the ANC, Solly Plaatje, the ANC President, John Langalibalele Dube and three others went to Britain. On 14 July they presented a petition to King George V, the coloniser of the African country. These petitioners on behalf of the kings and people of this country said that they loved their country with a most intense love; that land had been taken away from them.
The petitioners said they ‘fully accepted the sovereignty of Great Britain and no other.’ One of the demands to King George V was ‘that the natives (Africans) should be put into possession of land in proportion to their numbers, and on the same conditions as the white race.’ This was nearly 100 years ago. But this has not happened. It was betrayed for the second time at the negotiations table in 1994 and swept under the carpet. This was despite the Africans Claims In South Africa and The Bill Of Rights that had been endorsed by ANC presidents such as Dr Alfred B Xuma, Dr James Moroka and Chief Albert Luthuli.
This freedom document adopted by the ANC in 1943 reads: ‘We demand the right to an equal share in all material resources of the country and urge; That the present 13% of the surface area to 8 million Africans as against 87% to 2 million Europeans is unjust…and therefore demand a fair redistribution of LAND.’
The liberation struggle of the African people in South Africa has consistently been one of equitable redistribution of land and its resources according to population numbers. But the ANC government opted to buy back African land on the willing seller, willing buyer principle. This has not worked in spite of billions of Rand spent on this exercise. The ANC government has now run out of money to buy land. The minister of land reform and rural development, Gugile Kwinti has admitted that he needs R72 billion to buy some land.
An African proverb says, ‘It is a fool who buys his own cattle.’ Buying land that was taken from the Africans colonially is unjust, barbaric and flouts the principles of international law against colonialism and apartheid. This kind of land policy failed in Zimbabwe with dire consequences. If an economic giant such as Britain could not buy enough land in Zimbabwe, what hope is there that the ANC government can settle the land question by buying it? This unjust land policy has obliged Dan Mokonyane, author of ‘The Big Sell Out’ to write, ‘This is just as the crude spectacle of a rapist who comes to the scene of the devastation of his nefarious act to demand payment for loss of his semen and exertion.’
What are we celebrating in South Africa this April 27? The former freedom fighters such as members of the Azanian Peoples’ Liberation Army (APLA) took up arms against apartheid. They are languishing in the prisons of ‘New South Africa’ for this. The United Nations declared apartheid a crime against humanity through the International Convention On The Suppression And Punishment Of The Crime Of Apartheid. Instead, it is former freedom fighters who been punished with imprisonment. The apartheid regime gave amnesty to over 3,500 of its own security forces and others in 1993. It shredded more than 44 metric tons of documents. In addition to this, the Truth And Reconciliation Commission granted amnesty to further perpetrators of apartheid.
April 27 this year gives this nation the opportunity to reflect on the journey to freedom that has been abandoned for a fairytale destination. Burning of tyres and blocking of roads all over the country is a signal that something must be corrected before it is too late.
In South Africa most unemployed people are Africans. The poorest people are Africans. People who live in squalid inhuman settlements are Africans. These inhuman shelters often burn or flood destroying lives and property. The least equipped hospitals and clinics are those that serve Africans. The worst or no roads are where Africans live. The least educated and skilled people in South Africa are Africans. People who have no money for education and are being educated in lowest numbers are Africans. People who have the shortest life expectancy are Africans. People with the highest child mortality are Africans. Yet billions of Rand are buying land and servicing the apartheid debt. The majority of 45 million Africans possess little or nothing. Their democracy is dispossession without repossession. The constitution of South Africa must be amended. There must be a just democratic constitution to create a developmental state that will lift the standard of living of all people and banish poverty and underdevelopment.
Professor Sampie Terreblanche hits the nail on the head in his book, ‘A History of Inequality in South Africa,1652–2002’ when he writes, ‘The ANC’s core leaders effectively sold its sovereign freedom to implement an independent and appropriate socio-economic policy for a mess pottage when it entered into several compromises with the corporate sector and its global partners. These unfortunate “transactions” must be retracted or re-negotiated.’
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Dr Motsoko Pheko is author of ‘The Hidden Side of South African Politics’ and several other books, and a former member of the South African parliament.
* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka. org.
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Mandela: The African hero stolen by the West?
Udo W. Froese
Sunday, April 25, 2010
OVER 20 years ago, on February 11 1990, South Africa’s retired president and Nobel Peace co-laureate, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, left the colonial-apartheid prison of “Victor Verster” outside Cape Town. South Africans and the West considered Mandela as the African messiah. The rest of Africa awaited the outcome from a distance, particularly as time went on and the country’s newfound “freedom” had not accommodated the black majority on its land and in its economy.Instead, it conveniently passed the buck, insisting that it would take a very long time to correct the wrongs. This means in real terms, it would take forever to accept African-South Africans on their own land, to assist them in their growth from historical victims of colonial apartheid “Bantu education” to modern-day participants in South Africa’s economic growth. Meanwhile, the 91-year-old international icon heads the arch-imperial- colonial “Rhodes Foundation”, now named the “Mandela-Rhodes Foundation”. His statues grace South Africa’s most affluent suburbs in the north of Johannesburg, Sandton, the posh Western Cape Prince’s wine hub, Franschhoek, and London’s Hyde Park.
A brief overview since
Since then, not much has happened in South Africa. It is a country with an internationally negotiated democracy, all the foreign-dictated trimmings and a liberal, un-African constitution, hailed as the “best in the world”, versus a centrally “colonial-apartheid” Caucasian-owned and controlled economy and its structured poverty for the people. The international West and its powerful “Bretton Woods institutions” hail South Africa’s economy as “on course, strong, stable and well done”. They define the discriminating structures as a “free market economy”. Whatever that really means . . . South Africa’s economy could at best be described as an exclusive, oligopolistic, cartelised, warehouse economy.
Organised criminal business cartels are allowed to operate without any shame, to the disadvantage of the poor majority as well as to the country’s economy. And, the owners of this economy are well known to manipulate the politics of the day. The country’s parastatals have also been exposed to what insider analysts observed as economic sabotage, in order to force privatisation.
Profits have always been firmly placed before humans. This means, the well-heeled are on the right side of the law. So much for the “rule of law” and an “independent judiciary” as preached by its owners. Historically endemic mass unemployment, abject poverty, chronic starvation, rampant HIV and Aids and way-above-average illiteracy for the majority of South Africans as well as reported crime levels exploited by an equally historic media propaganda campaign and thin infrastructure — shown off as the best in Africa — is a popular picture.
This created the perception that all that glitters south of the Limpopo River is well and worth it. Africans from all over the continent flock to this south. Former president Thabo Mbeki once defined the South African economy as “a country with two economies — one well-functional and owned by the well-to-do white minority and their minions and one poor one, suffered by the black majority”.The ANC has remained as “junior partner” of the local and global centralised economic structures.This has led to the vulnerability of the majority of the population and those who rush down south to escape the unrests and economic hardships in their countries. It so happens that most of them are black Africans. Naturally, this plays into the hands of those with hidden agendas. The people have become restless.
South Africa seems to be held hostage through low-key internal civil strife in the forms of “xenophobia”, “taxi strikes and wars”, countrywide violent “delivery protests” and hundreds of learners gurgling for the blood of some young local hip-hop star, who killed four schoolchildren and wounded two in a bad drag-racing accident in Soweto. To add insult to injury, the colonial-apartheid Caucasian Boers (white minorities and their paid-up minions) thoroughly exploit a perceived loophole in the constitution, that of “minority rights”. Their attacks on the ANC, its government and its structures as “reverse racists”, “corrupt black Africans, unfit for their positions they now hold, incapable of self-government, let alone governing the country” are strategic, race-based and vicious.
And, they win their days in the courts against popular historic war-songs of the ANC. This flies in the face of “national reconciliation”. They also self-righteously interfere in the basic human rights such as land in sovereign, independent neighbouring African countries, using South Africa’s judiciary.
Those unashamedly proud heirs of colonial apartheid formed a host of active institutions throughout the country. They have openly declared their war against everything African, claiming their “democratic rights to defend minority rights”. Hostile, foreign-owned and controlled media outlets — some having sold some of their shares to national trade union funds, thus masquerading as South African — have always been historically used to wage a propaganda war of attrition in unison with the imperial-colonial- apartheid political opposition against all democratic African liberation movements.
That same media propaganda campaign went all out to ridicule President Jacob Zuma and reduce him to a buffoon as if he is the Idi Amin of South Africa. Co-ordinated and structured campaigns of character assassinations of Winnie Mandela, Chris Hani, Namibia’s Sam Nujoma, Swaziland’s King Mswati III and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe are cases in point. The timing of the aforementioned is obvious. All of the above-mentioned is rolled out just before the global Fifa World Cup hosted by South Africa in June/July 2010. Global media focus is on South Africa.
To date, nothing has changed in sunny South Africa, but for some Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Africans (BBBEEA), sitting in boardrooms, being paraded as shareholders to maintain the old status quo. Africans have also been recruited into the newsrooms, thinking and writing exactly what their white predecessors wrote before them. They were created by foreign white capital and made to form the buffer between black and white.
Without a doubt, it is colonial and race-based and it is deliberately and intentionally undermining not only the ruling ANC, but the ruling Swapo party of Namibia, Mozambique’s Frelimo, the governing MPLA of Angola, Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe, as well as Swaziland’s King Mswati III and his government.There seems an all-out effort to achieve a “new” South Africa under “new” white rule by 2014, this time possibly accepted by South Africa’s angry, hungry and tired black majority, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), the African Union (AU), as well as the international West. Imagine, Germans would attempt to further Nazi doctrines and policies after the Nuremberg Trials in post WW2 Germany and the European Union (EU), enjoying foreign-funded and directed “civil society’s” propagandistic support?
A legacy deal
Senior researchers of South African history explain that a transformation in the ANC leadership took place from 1980. Many in the leadership had become over-compromised during talks with a host of imperial colonial apartheid representatives across the board, South Africa’s powerful foreign-owned and controlled industry as well as the international West during the “Cold War” era. It was transformed to a capitalist elite. The established senior advocate and anti-apartheid veteran, George Bizos, also known as Mandela’s attorney, said on national television in Johannesburg, the “SABC TV 2 Morning Life” programme in the morning of Thursday, February 11, 2010: “Nelson Mandela was the master of his own destiny, of his own life since 1985.”
While Mandela served his time in “Victor Verster” prison outside Cape Town, he had a chef who cooked for him; he had free access to his family and the outside world; house attendants; to newspapers, television and radio; flights to Pretoria to meet with then State President P. W. Botha, his Minister of Justice, Kobie Coetzee and the head of National Intelligence Services (NIS), Dr Niel Barnard, in order to discuss and negotiate.
In other words, Mandela had from 1985 to 1990 — five years before his release — to prepare for the historic leaving of prison. Revered late ANC president Oliver Reginald Tambo, referring to Nelson Mandela’s meetings with the colonial apartheid regime in the crucial 1980s, observed: “Prisoners can’t negotiate their freedom”.He added, saying: “While still in prison, terms and conditions would be laid down to accept and agree on a take-it-or-leave- it basis during talks with the regime.” Tambo remarked during his visit to the ANC camps in exile: “We are singing the same national anthem, raise the same flag and talk about our ANC.” According to aged ANC veterans, Tambo seemed disturbed about senior members of the leadership, who could have compromised the organisation. He seemed to question whom to trust. This, according to those veterans, eventually led to Tambo’s first stroke.
The final analysis
The terms “national reconciliation”, “free market economy”, “equality before the law”, “equal participation” and even “democracy” including the hailed neo-liberal “freedoms” remain an absolute cynical farce for as long as the imperial-colonial- apartheid beneficiaries, their economy, the banking cartel and organised crime structures dictate the terms and conditions for the aforementioned without any compromise, without any access to land and the economy.
To quote Mayer Amschel Rothschild, founder of the Rothschild global banking dynasty: “Give me control of a nation’s money supply, and I care not who makes its laws.”
For as long as Caucasian economic plunder-barons, the “former” colonial occupiers with all their minority groups, including Indians, insist on being African and in return, Africans remain kept as “hewers of wood” and “carriers of water” with a dysfunctional democracy, no access to their land and the economy, the black people of South Africa and Africa have simply been betrayed. National reconciliation and nation building remain propaganda.
Endemic moral, ethical and intellectual bankruptcy on the one hand and restless anger on the other seem to be the obvious result. This is reflected in the dealings of everyday life.
Udo Froese is a writer based in Johannesburg, South Africa.