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Freedom Charter is Key to New Struggle for South Africa

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by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“Marikana was the great shock to the national consciousness, and Mandela’s death brought a final end to the pretense of social transformation.” In the transition from apartheid, the ruling African National Congress chose Black capitalism and neoliberalism. But, trade unionists plan to create a workers party that will fight for implementation of the Freedom Charter – and socialism.

 

Freedom Charter is Key to New Struggle for South Africa

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim calls for formation of a genuine workers party that will fight to fulfill the demands of the Freedom Charter.”

Nelson Mandela’s voice filled the hall at New York City’s historic Riverside Church, last Saturday. A film showed Mandela’s speech of July 26, 1991, in Matanzas, Cuba, the African National Congress deputy president’s first trip abroad since his release from imprisonment, the year before. “Our goals remain achievement of the demands of the Freedom Charter, and we will settle for nothing less than that,” said Mandela, with Fidel Castro standing nearby.

Mandela thanked the Cuban people for their heroic sacrifices in defeating the armed forces of the apartheid regime, at Cuito Cuanavale, Angola, in 1988. Twice more in the speech, Mandela mentioned the Freedom Charter, the ANC’s 1955 promise to the people. He cited the Charter’s rejection of “the racist state” that still ruled South Africa, and quoted the document’s declaration that “The people shall govern.” But the man who would assume the presidency of South Africa four years later made no mention of the Freedom Charter’s core economic demands: the redistribution of land and nationalization of the mines, heavy industry and banking – steps the Cubans had taken soon after the triumph of their revolution.

By the time he took the stage at Matanzas, Mandela and his African National Congress colleagues had already discarded the key elements of the Freedom Charter except those that called for a government elected by a common franchise. Ronnie Kasrils, a veteran of the ANC’s armed wing who joined the cabinet of the new ANC government in 1994, described “How the ANC's Faustian pact sold out South Africa's poorest” in an article published in The Guardian, in June of 2013. “From 1991 to 1996,” Kasrils wrote, “the battle for the ANC's soul got under way, and was eventually lost to corporate power: we were entrapped by the neoliberal economy – or, as some today cry out, we ‘sold our people down the river.’”

Mandela made no mention of the Freedom Charter’s core economic demands: the redistribution of land and nationalization of the mines, heavy industry and banking.”

While he still breathed, Mandela’s symbolic aura shielded the ANC from the harsh verdict of history. Then, in 2012, as “Madiba’s” health began to fail, police massacred 34 workers demanding higher wages at a platinum mine in Marikana – the worst state violence since the white regime’s slaughter of Black demonstrators at Sharpeville, in 1960. The ANC government was no less rabid than its white predecessor in denouncing the dead as the agents of their own destruction, for having broken away from the giant mineworkers union, a cornerstone of the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU), which is the third leg of the nation’s ruling triumvirate, along with the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Today, the once 300,000-strong mineworkers union has lost at least half its membership to more militant rivals. No wonder, since its founding secretary, Cyril Ramaphosa, went on to become a fabulously wealthy ($675 million, according to Forbes) member of the board of directors of the multinational corporation that the Marikana miners were striking against, and a high ranking official in the ruling African National Congress. Emails sent by Ramaphosa during the Marikana crisis indicate he encouraged the government to make an example of the strikers.

The National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA), now the biggest trade union, with 380,000 members, has announced it will not support the ANC in coming elections, and urges COSATU to leave the ruling alliance. Instead, NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim calls for formation of a genuine workers party that will fight to fulfill the demands of the Freedom Charter, and for “a new United Front that will coordinate struggles in the workplace and in communities, in a way similar to United Democratic Front of the 1980s” – the period when the ANC was banned and largely in exile.

It took Marikana and Mandela’s death to bring contradictions to a head.”

The metalworkers, backed by eight of COSATU’s 19 unions, are demanding a special congress to battle it out with ANC loyalists. NUMSA’s Irvin Jim derided ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, who pretended to act as a mediator in the COSATU dispute, as a man who “feigns ignorance of neoliberalism” and “talks about cushioning the working class, but he does not even mention what class force is responsible for the suffering of our class. This is because some of [his] colleagues in [the] top six of the ANC are capitalists.”

Capitalists like Cyril Ramaphosa, the most prominent beneficiary of BEE, Black Economic Empowerment, the ANC’s alternative to the socialist path set forth in the Freedom Charter. Not only did the ANC and the South African Communist Party choose the neoliberal path, in the critical first half of the 90s, they set the stage for creation of a Black capitalist class to be grafted onto existing corporate structures. The economic ruling class was, to a degree, racially integrated, while the ruling party, the ANC, was converted to capitalism. The revolution was defeated – or, rather, never begun – and everybody knew it, but it took Marikana and Mandela’s death to bring contradictions to a head.

In addition to the metalworkers, the nine dissident unions, who probably represent a majority of union members in South Africa, are: the Communication Workers' Union, Democratic Nurses Union of South Africa, the Food and Allied Workers' Union, Public and Allied Workers' Union of South Africa, South African Commercial and Catering Workers' Union, South African Football Players' Union, South African Municipal Workers' Union and the South African State and Allied Workers Union.

COSATU’s current leadership, which is all but inseparable from the ANC/SACP, refuses to call a special congress – despite the fact that COSATU’s constitution requires such a congress if demanded by one-third of affiliated unions. Instead, they threaten to suspend the metalworkers, which would almost surely split COSATU right down the middle. ANC leadership has long treated COSATU as a mere appendage to its rule, and would prefer a paralyzed union confederation to a politically independent one.

However, the arrogance of the new Black capitalists may prove their undoing. For many millions of South Africans, the psychologically break with the ANC has already happened. Marikana was the great shock to the national consciousness, and Mandela’s death brought a final end to the pretense of social transformation. South Africa sees itself much more clearly: the most unequal country in the world, in which the struggling poor are said to stage more demonstrations than any other nation on earth – out-protesting the Chinese! – confronting a killer police force that was never weaned from its apartheid mission, to suppress the Black lower classes.

It is also the South Africa where the Freedom Charter is a living memory, the socialist document that legitimized the ANC as the post-apartheid ruling party. Mandela was compelled to cite the Freedom Charter in Cuba, even as he and his colleagues were discarding it, at home.

The Freedom Charter is South Africa’s unfinished business. The ANC, having repudiated it, in word and deed, must now be forced to run against the Freedom Charter, through the formation of a workers party opposition. We will then likely see a split in the ANC, itself – which is necessary to allow the honest elements within its ranks to escape the institutional grasp of Black capitalists and opportunists.

The Freedom Charter has been dormant for a quarter century, during which time multinational capital has been reinforced by a Black comprador class, headquartered in the African National Congress. It is now impossible to defeat multinational capital’s grip on South Africa, without also confronting the party that claims to have “liberated” the country. Fortunately, the process is well underway.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

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The Real News Did a Recent Piece on this Topic

w Paul Jay interviewing Danny Schechter about his new book 'Madiba A to ZThe Many Faces of Nelson Mandela' [@ http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=11481 ]. In this interview Paul Jay quotes a white communist top ranking member of the ANC & a minister in Mandela's gov't, Ronnie Kasrils, who critiques the ANC [including himself] who in a piece last yr before Mandela's death but after the Marikana Massacre titled "How the ANC's Faustian Pact Sold Out South Africa's Poorest", where Kasrils says in the 1990s the ANC made a bad economic deal w global neo-liberal capitalism [IE: all the usual suspects IMF, World Bank, US & UK corps, etc]. These so-called 'negotiations' took place at Harry Oppenheimer's house [see @ www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jun/24/anc-faustian-pact-mandela-... ]. FYI: The Oppenheimers own the De-Beers Diamond Cartel, first established by that notorious British colonial imperialist Cecil Rhodes [as in Rhodesia & Rhodes 'scholar'], which controls most of the World's diamond [& to a lesser extent gold & platinum] supply, & which has made the Oppenhimers [British Jews] one of the World's richest & most powerful families [up there w the Rothschilds & the Rockefellers].  Needless to say their main supply of diamonds are from Africa, especially S.Africa, & the racist Apartheid system was a key factor in facilitating this [FYI the modern diamond trade has always been a bloody BIZ, it did NOT begin w the advent of Charles Taylor in Liberia & W.Africa]. 

Though I appreciate Danny Schechter's position on Mandela [a white 'liberal' from the US should be careful about critiquing an African 'icon' like Mandela], as he tried to explain what Mandela the ANC, COSATU & SACP were faced w in the early mid 1990s, the one thing I noted that was NOT mentioned at all in The Real News' interview was the effect & impact that the assassination of Chris Hani & the divorce of Winnie from Mandela [as she too was character assassinated] played in this scenario. It must be noted that Mandela's divorce from Winnie was Political not personal, as key members of the ANC pressured Mandela to cut Winnie loose. And it's noteworthy that during Mandela's recent passing, Winnie was barely mentioned, even as the lame-stream media showed that iconic photo of Mandela & Winnie walking hand in hand waving to the crowd cheering Mandela's release from imprisonment.

Another key factor in this scenario is the issue' of the ANC's [& many other African & 3rd World nations] over-reliance on the USSR [& China to a lesser extent] for support RE: their struggle against the forces of Apartheid. The ANC & many African & 3rd World liberation movements leaned too heavily toward & on the {ex}bastion(s) of Marxist-Leninist communism, the USSR, which was a non-African / non 3rd World European power [aka Russia]. So when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down & Russia effectively set-aside Marxist-Leninist communism, the ANC COSATU & SACP was left hi & dry. So they turned to so-called {neo}'Liberals' in the US & the EU for support. All these factors resulted in the ANC effectively dropping their commitment to the Freedom Charter & embraced neo-liberal capitalism. 

Frankly Russia & China [the ex bastions of communism] have effectively backed away from communism [though the Chinese still give lip-service to it- but the Russians have even dropped that pretense]. They're now actually out competing the bastions of capitalism, the US & the EU, at their own capitalist game. The current competition between Russia & China vis-avis the US & EU [= NATO], is over sovereignty, US NATO encroachment on Russia & China's traditional spheres of influence [IE: the current crisis in Ukraine] & access to resources & markets [which the US & NATO most often use WAR-Mongering Gangsterism to enforce & maintain]- NOT capitalism vs communism. The only real bastions of socialism left are [Castro’s] Cuba, [Chavez’s] Venezuela, [Morales’] Bolivia, & in Africa it was Khadaffi's Libya- but we saw what the O-Bomber regime's AFRICOM plus NATO did to Khadaffi.  

RE: Chris Hani_An Ex-ANC Afro-American Told Bro Jared Ball

[Dr Frank Wilderson's his name] That someone in the upper-ranks of the ANC had to give key info over to the Apartheid Regime to facilitate the hit on Chris Hani. He says that only 5 top members of the ANC knew Hani would let his security detail go home for that Easter holiday [even the security team did NOT know this in advance]- & that Mandela was one of those 5.  This does NOT mean that it was Mandela, but certainly someone near or in Mandela's inner ANC circle had to be involved [or the Apartheid Regime had a spy &/or 'bug' inside w access to info that the ANC's top ranks had]. 

The other noteworthy thing that Brother Wilderson said was RE: the so-called 'Truth' & Reconciliation Commission [TRC]. He says that few if any top white Apartheid regime folks participated in the TRC & that 80% of those 'coming clean' for the TRC were Black [& in general] Relatively Low-Level Employees &/or Collaborators of the Apartheid Regime [can we say ‘white-wash’ boys & girls]. Thus it seems Winnie Mandela was the TRC's main 'victim' of prominence!!! Hell the TRC even let the Apartheid linked white political party that was almost certainly behind Chris Hani's assassination off the hook!!!

See @ http://imixwhatilike.org/2014/01/20/frankwildersonandsouthafrica/   

"Though I appreciate Danny

"Though I appreciate Danny Schechter's position on Mandela [a white 'liberal' from the US should be careful about critiquing an African 'icon' like Mandela], . . ."

Schechter is "careful" in a lot of his critiques of left-leaning sacred cows.  I used to listen to his show on prn.fm but tired of his obvious hesitancy to remove both feet from the Democrat plantation.  He would often quote something from Jon Stewart's Daily Show.  Stewart would never give Schecter the time of day much less 5 minutes on his gatekeeping show.  Schechter also still mentions Jesse in a positive light.  I emailed him about this a couple of times and his response was a walk down memory lane of Jesse's "glory days" in the civil rights era.  He's not as bad as Amy G but he's been around long enough to realize it's time to stop pulling punches and call out the scared cows.

"stop pulling punches and call out the scared cows"

Danny Schechter's  job   is   to  NOT  call  out   the  sacred  cows.  Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz   won't  have  Schechter  on  the Daily  Show,  but  both are     gatekeeper  employees   spewing propaganda.

Mumia  Abu-Jamal  was   on point  with  the  quote:

"The major media like its racist projections is to be rejected not consumed for your very patronage gives it life"

Well put

that jon stewart is a class-A, A-1 asshole who proved himself this beyond any doubt when he joined his fellow media buzzards in the bad-mouthing frenzy against the late Helen Thomas, the only white house reporter in the past 50 yr who had a backbone, when Thomas rightfully excoriated vicious zionist israel for its ongoing terrorism of Palestinians.

 

 

SOUTH-AFRIKAN YOUTH/DIASPORA AFRIKANS MUST GO TO WAR!

MANDELA WAS A SELL-OUT LIKE OBAMA IN USA.  OUR CAUCASOID-ELITE ENEMIES PIT ZULU AGAINST XHOSA IN SOUTH-AFRIKA, SAME DIVIDE/CONQUER STRATEGY ALL ACROSS AFRIKA.

MANDELA WAS A VATICAN 'KNIGHT,' PLEDGED TO SERVE CAUCASOID-ELITE INTERESTS!

AS FOR CUITO CARNAVALE BATTLE IN ANGOLA IN 1988, AND CUBA, CAUCASOID-ELITE POWERS REALIZED THAT IT WAS BETTER TO LOSE THERE, AND TAKE APARTHEID GLOBAL! NO AFRIKAN RESISTANCE!  AFRIKAN CUBANS NOT FREE!  WE



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