Misunderstanding The ANC

2016-05-25 09:33

Many pseudo-ANC-experts and sociologists have written to argue that the removal of Julius Malema and his trusted lieutenant Floyd Shivambu from the ANC proved that the ANC is no longer the same and has lost its way. Mainly the criticism is directed at ANC president Jacob Zuma as devouring wayward ANC members. Although this is indeed historically inaccurate and lazy an analysis, it still get bounded in books and printed in various mainstream press matter of factly. Many opine that the ANC has lost its way and it is no longer the same. Of course the ANC can not be the same as it evolves and has to evolve. The ANC is not an armed resistance organisation or before that a freedom movement. It is daft to compare the ANC of then to now with the world having dramatically changed.

In decades under Oliver Tambo’s presidency of the ANC, many factions rose to take the highway. Many rose to course chaos within the ANC demanding their way. Many were removed and many tried to establish their own movements. All these members of the ANC were complaining about the way and manner Tambo managed the ANC. Many tried to have the ANC disbanded too. The ANC has seen it all from internal corruption during its banning to transigency and rebels. In truth, a vibrant organisation with many ideas and egos is expected to experience natural turbulences and attrition.

The ANC under president Albert Luthuli’s stewardship went between two fires from the apartheid government suppression and with the ANCYL flexing its muscle over policy. ANCYL leaders including Nelson Mandela were elected to senior positions with Mandela being Luthuli’s deputy and Oliver Tambo secretary. In its 46th National Conference in Durban in 1958, chairs shifted as Tambo was elected deputy president to 3rd term president Luthuli with Duma Nokwe becoming secretary general. At this period the ANC’s ultra nationalist faction left the party to form the PAC.

Led by Potlako Leballo and Robert Sobukwe, the ultra nationalists faction of the ANCYL emerged inspired by Nkwame Nkrumah’s Pan-Africanist politics. Much like Floyd Shivambu and Julius Malema’s EFF, Leballo and Sobukwe took leaf from ANCYL ‘1949 programme of action’, EFF took from 2014 ANCYL’s ‘economic freedom in our life time’. Prior to Malema’s ANCYL presidency, Fikile Mbalula presidency had aggressively campaigned for the ANC to have what he termed a “generational mix” in ranking leadership, re-inventing the ANC’s period from 1944 where top leadership started having youths like Mandela, Tambo, Nokwe and others. Mbalula did not choose the highway as Sobukwe in 1959 and Malema 2014 did.

The PAC founders whilst in the ANC saw the 1955 Freedom Charter as white influenced betrayal. They argued that the charter was sub-serving to whites instead pushed for a nationalist doctrine - ‘Africa for Africans’.

The ANC called for South Africa to be seen differently to other African nations - “belonging to all who lived in it”, arguing that South Africa had ‘unique racial demographical situation’. Although the EFF has aligned with the PAC in ideological framework, quasi-adopting most policies the PAC stood for, it however curiously sees itself as charter defenders. EFF logo theme follows that of the PAC’s African map and a lone star representing a United State of Africa – although the PAC was careful not to appear having designs for South Africa’s dominance, the EFF’s south to north fist appear symbolizing South African dominance over the continent.

In early 1960 most of the ANC leaders were on treason trial with Luthuli banned. The ANC secretly planned to launch a national anti-passbook protest for the 31 March 1960. On 18 March, Sobukwe with his one year-old PAC announced a similar ANC conceived protest inviting liberation movements to join. Through Duma Nokwe the ANC declined to join calling the PAC’s plan “ill and hastily planned”.

On 21 March in Sharpeville, 69 unarmed and peaceful black marchers were killed by mainly white policemen, 3 others died in Kwa-Langa in Cape Town. In response the ANC’s own 31 March anti-passbook protest was changed to individuals symbolic action with Luthuli burning his passbook followed by Mandela and others. Sobukwe called this “evidence of ANC’s rank opportunism” and went on to lambast the ANC in enmity filled language that Malema similarly uses. Animosity and angry politics destroyed the unity of the oppressed people and prolonged apartheid.

Like the short-lived COPE after it, antagonism and anger politics led to PAC’s disintegration. The EFF if it doesn't realize it has reached its peak of collecting AZAPO and PAC members through ANC confrontation politics mostly palatable to former PAC members, it too will run out of steam soon and die a harsh death. By enlarge South Africans like politicians who are peaceful and peace making. As ANC history repeats itself, complete unity is ever so illusive.

In history, EFF is our modern PAC, the PAC which promoted anarchy during the negotiations to democracy in the 1990s. The PAC which coursed chaos during negotiations, boycotting them and continuing with the armed struggle up till the death of Amy Beihl in Cape Town and the unfortunate mass murder of church goers in St James Church also in Cape Town, Kenilworth. The PAC led then by Patricia De Lille and the likes of former Deputy Chief Justice Digkang Moseneke murdered 58 innocent whites inside the church. The two personalities have since become the favourite amongst white liberals. At the time of the massacre, the PAC called the ANC and Nelson Mandela traitors. De Lille is now leading the white liberal party the DA in the Western Cape a mere two decades after her group bombing of liberal whites in a church in Cape Town. Their deep hatred for the ANC means they are able to forgive and forget, making De Lille their mayor and leader as long as she is against the ANC.

Likewise, with his chaotic and angry politics, white liberals see Malema as a tool. The tool of weakening the ANC’s stature in the eyes of the black majority. It is not hoped that Malema would then rise to lead the country but that his bidding is for the white controlled DA to be seen as the only viable alternative after the Malema project is complete.

Bo Mbindwane, on twitter @mbindwane

(parts of the opinion were published in Mbindwane column on The Citizen Newspaper.)

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