Since it is Nelson R Mandela birthday today 18 July 2012, it is only befitting to write a letter to him as he and the world celebrates his birthday. This is an open letter to Mandela.
Dear Former President Nelson Mandela,
I was only about 5 years old when were released from prison. I come from a poor background as a black child and I was raised by my grandmother. In 1994 South Africa had its first democratic elections; I remember people around me including my grandma were excited to vote for you and the ANC government. Sadly my grandma passed away before she could vote in beginning of April in 1994.
I understand that you had meetings between 1985-1990 with P. W. Botha to have a negotiated settlement. Revered late ANC President, Oliver Reginald Tambo, referring to your meetings with the colonial-apartheid regime in the crucial 1980s, said “Prisoners can’t negotiate their freedom”.
I have read that according to aged ANC veterans, Tambo seemed disturbed about senior members of the leadership including you, 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.
In 1990 before you were released from prison you assured your supporters that the nationalisation of mines, banks and minerals were on the cards. That belief had formed the core doctrine of the ANC and was enshrined in a document known as The Freedom Charter.
"The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people; the mineral wealth beneath the soil; the banks and monopoly industries shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole; all other industries and trade shall be controlled to assist the well-being of the people," the charter states.
It later emerged that you and other ANC leaders were busily creatively re-interpreting the “Freedom Charter’s” commitment to nationalisation in order to comfort the monopoly white capitalists.
The nature of the sell out
When you negotiated with the Nationalist had intended to oversee a settlement which guarantees the maintenance of a white capitalist South Africa and of the profits extracted from the exploited black masses, and leaves power firmly in the hands of the white capitalists for the foreseeable future. As De Klerk has insisted “I do not intend to negotiate myself out of power”. On the contrary, negotiations were intended to prevent the victory of the black masses. De Klerk had laid a trap for the blacks into which they were being led by you. Any so-called 'deal' made with devils MUST, by default, go wrong! Truth be told; you were out-negotiated by the Nationalists.
Failed transfer of power during negotiations
The negotiations focused on two aspects: one was political, the other economic. When you were negotiating with the Nationalists you choose to separate political and economic power. That was your biggest mistake and betrayal to black people. The transfer of ownership of wealth and land is at the heart of a transfer of power. Hence it was clearly stipulated in the Freedom Charter. But you chose to ignore that.
During the negotiations everyone was watching the political negotiations. You were too concerned that if the political negotiations didn’t go well there would be mass protest. People were not interested in the economic negotiations and when the economic negotiators would report back, people thought it was technical; no one was interested. (Lack of education) You should have known better. This is where we missed our freedom completely and you sold it to the Nationalists.
Failed economic negotiations and state ownership of the Reserve Bank
Mr Former President, your mandate from the people was to ensure that the values of the Freedom Charter were implemented including nationalisation of country’s assets. Instead of nationalising the mines you were meeting regularly with Harry Oppenheimer, former chairman of the mining giants Anglo-American and De Beers, the economic symbols of apartheid rule.
Shortly after the 1994 election, you even submitted the ANC’s economic program to Oppenheimer for approval and made several key revisions to address his concerns, as well as those of other top industrialists. Shame on you for selling out of minerals and land to the imperialists.
The outcomes of those meetings were that you could have the political power but the gold and diamonds would remain in the hands of the individuals that controlled it before. Have you forgotten what the Freedom Charter had said??
One of the most revealing aspects of the economic transition was the ownership of the Reserve Bank of South Africa. Arguably the most powerful institution in the country, its fate was explained by Durban businessman Vishnu Padaychee; asked to draft a document for the negotiating team on the on the pro’s and con’s of having an autonomous central bank, run with total autonomy from the elected government. Padayachee could not believe what he was hearing. He and his team drafted and submitted the document with a clear policy of not allowing the Reserve Bank to be autonomous.
He was later told by the negotiating team that, “We had to give that one up”.
The bank is privately owned and today has some 650 shareholders. Why did you let go of the Reserve Bank and let the imperialist whites take control of it Mandela?
During the negotiations you agreed that not only would the Reserve Bank be run as an autonomous entity within the South African state, with its independence enshrined in the SA constitution, but it would be headed by the same man who ran it under apartheid, Chris Stals. Another Apartheid era figure, finance minister Derek Keyes, also retained his position in the new administration. Mandela how could you allow the people who oppressed us to be in charge of the Reserve Bank?
Padayachee lamented that with the loss of the Reserve Bank, “everything would be lost in terms of economic transformation”. This is indeed true; everything was lost when YOU handed over the Reserve Bank!!!!! One of the Freedom Charter pledges is the redistribution of land; this became highly constrained with a new clause in the constitution which protected all private property.
Failed rainbow-nation coated myth
You have been preaching this rainbow-nation myth to the world that does not exist but only exists in your head. Reconciliation has meant nothing but black people `forgiving’ whites for 300+ years of dispossession, humiliation and suffering. I experience pain every time a white South African - at the shop; in a bar; on the Talk Radio 702 or online forums - says that “We need to forget the past, get over it.” It is like they are saying to us `forget your pain’. And that from someone who benefited at your expense! We have suffered racial abuse and our abusers are among us.
You and Desmond Tutu’s rainbow myth glossed over this pain - much to the relief of whites. Whites fail to acknowledge our pain and suffering - and their position as beneficiaries of our pain. But you were overly concerned with not rocking the boat as far as whites were concerned. That is why you are the subject of a personality cult in the white community than the black community.
Whites in this country believe that you are the only honourable black person while the rest of us blacks are corrupt, criminals, rapists, drunkards and uneducated buffoons.
The FREE & FAIR environment post-94 is another rainbow-coated myth. Black people are not free (unless you describe freedom as being able to vote and not having to carry ID’s 24/7). We are not FREE and very little is fair! All thanks to you Mandela.
The current state
Are you aware that blacks remain landless, underfed, houseless, under- employed, badly represented in senior managerial positions? The state of healthcare and education for black people remains as it was, if not worse than, under apartheid.
Vestiges of apartheid and colonial economic patterns, ownership and control remain intact despite the attainment of political freedom by you. Are you aware that political freedom without economic emancipation is meaningless?
The unemployment crisis is also defined along racial lines due to the fact that in the third quarter of 2010, 29.80% of blacks were officially unemployed, compared with 22.30% of coloureds, 8.60% of Asians and only 5.10% of whites. About 12 million of the population lives on less than R2.50 per day, whilst 16 million South Africans receive social grants.
In terms of racial distribution of per capita income, African and coloured income levels in 2008 were still only 13% and 22% respectively of white per capita income, compared to 10.9% and 19.3% in 1993. The income gap for Indians has narrowed, with Indian per capita income in 2008 standing at 60% of those of whites as against 42% in 1993.
In 1995, median per capita expenditure among Africans was R333 a month compared to whites at R3 443 a month. In 2008, median expenditure per capita for Africans was R454 a month compared to whites at R5 668 a month. Source: [Leibbrandt, M. et al. (2010), "Trends in South African Income Distribution and Poverty since the Fall of Apartheid"]
The economy has failed to create jobs at the pace necessary to reduce extremely high unemployment, and the education system has failed to ensure that equalised public spending on schooling translates into improved education for poor black children.
The democracy has not brought what was promised, you as former president of the ANC and of the country is responsible for that misdirection.
Mr Former President what you have done for black people is that you have laid the final brick by selling out on the struggle to achieve your dream of political victory. Your dream which has become our worst nightmare as black people.
You sold us as black nation for a “Noble Peace Prize” and that is the reason for the service delivery demonstration and the lack of service delivery. Our Constitution hailed as the best in the world favours the Caucasians while it oppresses the Africans. Thanks for nothing Mandela. You understood the Kempton Park negotiations as a sell-out solution to rescue white capital and for the few in power, and that such a democracy would continue the suffering of the black majority.
I have a problem with people giving “Messianic status to Madiba” like a black Jesus when we all know that you have failed the black nation.
When I started out this letter I told you about my grandma who died before she could vote for you. Well, I am glad that she never voted for you as she would have voted for a traitor. What you have done is simply continued where the apartheid government left us off and dug the holes of poverty and oppression deeper.
Before you leave this earth I would like you to take responsibility and apologise for your actions and what you did to black people. You sold our land to the imperialists, if you fail to apologise before you die it simply means you are an accomplice to them.
When you eventually die and meet the likes of Dr Hendrink Verwoerd and P.W. Botha may you have good time with them and laugh at how blacks continue to suffer. I have nothing but hatred for what you have done to us.
Signing out from the deep dark hell hole of continued oppression you put us in.