Recently, there have been talks of Mandela having sold-out the struggle. Whether these allegations are true or not remains a subjective matter.
But, it is worth reflecting on the period between Mandela’s release from Victor Verster Prison in 1990 and the democratic elections in 1994. Racial and tribal antagonism ran high and eventually spewed over into violence.
Moreover, this period was marred with uncertainty about the present and the future. This uncertainty resulted in white flight and capital flight. So, responsible leadership had to be exercised by both parties and personalities in order to put post-apartheid South Africa towards a road of recovery.
This recovery was difficult because it not only included the collapsing economy of apartheid South Africa under international sanctions, but it also had to respond to the racial demographic imbalances reflected in the economy.
Because of 500 years of racial discrimination, the material RDP was to be supplemented with an “RDP of the soul”. Indeed, 500 years of indoctrination in a belief of the superior and inferior race did have profound results.
Today, most native Africans of South Africa still believe that “sehlare sa moSotho ke Lekgowa” (the medicine of a black person is a white person), a lousy metaphor but common and deeply entrenched in black communities. So it goes that both De Klerk and Mandela had to sit down and negotiate, each representing his “people”.
But both men and their parties did not have an easy task. On the one hand, the whites demanded guarantees that their human and property rights are protected. In essence, that their way of life was not threatened in any manner or form.
On the other hand, the blacks demanded their human rights too but property rights were not on the table because they did not own property. Within the world of the simple minded people, this is where the Mandela sell-out tendency begun.
The De Klerk sell-out tendency started when he denied the “superior” Afrikaner race their continuation of the racist regime. Certainly, the behaviour of the AWB and later the Boeremag is testimony of the De Klerk sell-out tendency.
Mathematically, the whites got a better deal out of the negotiation since they got both human rights and property rights and blacks only had human rights. But this over simplification is not entirely correct.
The whites particularly the Afrikaner were sold a dummy. Despite them owing land, they are not the dominant economic force in South Africa. Moreover, the global condemnation of the apartheid regime and its subsequent negotiated end bruised their ego and pride.
They’re a proud people but their pride was dealt a heavy blow. Probably, in the eyes of certain Afrikaners De Klerk is still a sell-out. Besides, some things are priceless and pride is one of those priceless things to the self-loving Afrikaner.
Today, some continue to claim that Nelson Mandela sold-out. They say that he was out smarted and out negotiated at CODESA and in other private meetings. Besides, he only got human rights and what are human rights if you can’t eat, drink and sleep properly.
Speaking at the death of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels observed that “a man has to eat, drink and sleep before it can engage in arts, politics etc.”
Of course, there are many factors that led to a negotiated settlements, and just like the nature of information within organisations, some will remain in public and other in the private sphere depending on its value/importance for the survival of that organisation.
If we believe in the notion of the sell-out, then the fact remains that both white and black South Africans have their own sell-outs. Fortunately, we can all appreciate that South Africa has made enormous developments, both material and intangible, since 1994.
In conclusion, those who believe in the opinion of the sell-out are ignorant, spineless, shallow-minded, short-sighted, politically and economically uneducated, lazy, and self-hating people. An opinion will always remain a phantasm because of its subjective nature. So, please leave the old men alone. Instead of criticising, roll up your sleeves and contribute to a better life for all South Africans through the 2nd phase of the transition.
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