LETTER: Of the land, the Charter, race and class domination

2016-05-05 06:00

Not many people know that the Freedom Charter was drafted by White liberals of the Communist Party of South Africa.

It is a sell-out document to the African people because its betrays the struggle of the indigenous people by the ANC leaders.

Since April 1958, there exist two congresses, each claiming to be the direct heir and legitimate successor to the original congress which was founded in 1912 and which styled itself the South African Native National Congress.

According to its January 1958 constitution, the African National Congress (ANC) stands for the ‘creation of a united democratic South Africa on the principles outlined in the Freedom Charter’.

The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, according to its April 1959 constitution stands for the ‘establishment and maintenance of an Africanist Socialist democracy recognizing the primacy of the material and spiritual interest of the individual’.

For convenience’s sake, the use of the key word from these foundation documents will be adopted to describe the new and old congress.

Unless it is glaringly inconsistent with the context, the African National Congress will be referred to as the Charterist Congress, its adherents as the charterists, and its policy programme and philosophic outlook as Charterist. The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania will be designated the Africanist Congress, its member the Africanists and its policy, programme and philosophical outlook as Africanism.

The Native Congress died formal death in December, 1943, when its constitution was scrapped.

That lengthy constitution was its manifesto, and it spoke of the Native people. The manifestoes of its successor, the African Congress, were the 1943 African Claims and the 1949 Programme of Action.

These spoke of and for the African people. It died in 1953, with the birth of the (multi-racial) Congress Alliance, and was finally buried in December 1957, with the incorporation of the Charter into its new constitution.

The manifesto of the Charterist Congress, The Kliptown Charter of 1955, speak of and for the ‘people of South Africa, Black and white together’.

The Africanist Congress, in the 1959 Pan Africanist manifesto, speaks of and for the African people’ who it regards as ‘part of one African Nations’.

The Basic literature of each body, therefore provides the clue to its essential nature.

On the 2nd November 1958, The Transvaal Africanists severed all relations with the Charterist Congress.

“We are,” they declared, “launching out openly, as the custodians of the African National Congress policy, as it was formulated in 1912 and pursued up to the time of the Congress Alliance’’.

The editorial in the January 1959 issue of the Africanist, official organ of the Africanist Movement stated:

‘Our intention in these issues is to stress the inevitability of the step we have taken. Because of the ideological differences with the purveyors of the Kliptown Charter, it was inevitable that a struggle should rage within the ANC for leadership of that body.
But the grave error made by the Africanists was to think that the leadership could be ‘democratically removed’. Because it controls the machinery of Congress, this bureaucracy has so juggled with it that they were always assured of victory’.

The Charterists allege that the principal target of the Africanist attack upon them is their broad humanism, which claims equality but not domination for the African people’.

This statement itself bears out the main Africanist contention that the difference between the Charterists and themselves are mainly ideological. The Charterists have yet to understand that politics is a matter not of race or colour, but vital material and spiritual interests.

The crucial issues today is whether the interest of the five million Europeans throughout Africa must continue to dominate over those two hundred and eighty million Africans, or whether the reverse process should obtain. This is an issue that no social philosophy pretending to have a solution for Africa’s social problem can afford to gloss over.

Nationalism Demands that the interest of indigenous people should dominate over those of aliens, because the country belongs to the indigenous people.

Socialism demands that the interests of the workers should dominate over those of their employers, because their contribution to the creation of wealth is more significant than that of their bosses. Democracy demands that those of the majority should dominate over those of the minority, because they are a majority. Land first, everything else logically follows.

Nyameko Sinandile Khayelitsha


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