Monday, July 23, 2012

Esethu Hasane Defends the Mandela Legacy

Nelson Mandela is not a Blacks Sellout

2012-07-19 20:19

On Nelson Mandela’s birthday 18 July an article was posted on the News24 Opinions section; the article was an open letter to Nelson Mandela asking him to apologise for selling Blacks out to Whites.

There seems to be a lot of socio-economic challenges both past and the present that he blames Mandela for. And I and I am sure with millions of other South Africans disagree with him. Nelson Mandela never sold Blacks out.

The letter stresses on two highlighted issues: one political and the other economic as “YOUNGSTER” puts it. He argues that Nelson Mandela sold Blacks out during the Negotiations that took place in 1985-1990.

Firstly, I must go through the negotiation process. The first and early contact that Nelson Mandela made with the National Party was in 19985 with Kobie Coetsee. On these meetings no real progress was made they just laid the foundation for the future negotiations that took place in 1990-1993.

I therefore fail to understand how in these meetings Nelson Mandela sold blacks out; then, he was still imprisoned along with other political activists. Those meetings then were about the National Party trying to maintain peace in the South Africa that was going through and outbreak of violence. At some point Nelson Mandela was offered release to go and stay in Transkie if he renounces violence.

In 1985 President P.W. Botha offered Mandela his freedom on condition that he 'unconditionally rejected violence as a political weapon. Mandela indeed spurned the offer, releasing a statement via his daughter Zindzi saying "What freedom am I being offered while the organisation of the people remains banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts"

As we all know, the doctrine of the ANC is based on the Freedom Charter. YoungSter quotes the Freedom Charter document: “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,"

This section of the Freedom Charter only became highly debated between 1990 and 1993. Youngster argues that Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders “creatively interpreted” this second to suit the White Men; that nationalisation was in order to comfort the white monopoly capitals.

I then again fail to understand this, Youngster then was 5 years old; He accuses the then leaders of the ANC who drafted and knew what the Freedom Charter meant of re-interpreting it; which means re-writing it to suit and to comfort Whites.

If it was to youngster, all the country’s resources, all the companies and all farms controlled by whites should have been taken from Whites to blacks because the freedom Charter states so. He fails to understand that things do not work in that way; He ignores the case study of our neighbour Zimbabwe and how some other African countries failed at doing that.


In 1960 after Congo gained independence, a coalition government led by Prime Minister Lumumba and President Joseph Kasa-Vubu was formed. Instead of Congo enjoying its independence and freedom it quickly landed itself into an autocratic form of rule. Encouraged by Belgium political violence between 1960 and 1965 erupted. In 1965 Mobuto seized power and things went from bad to worse.

Under the time of state emergency Mobutu Mobuto Mobutu assumed sweeping, almost absolute, powers. Parliament was reduced to a rubber-stamp, before being abolished altogether though it was later revived. The number of provinces was reduced, and their autonomy curtailed, resulting in a highly centralized state. 1967 marked the debut of the Popular Movement of the Revolution which until 1990 was the nation's only legal political party.

Membership became obligatory for all citizens. Among the themes advanced by the MPR in its doctrine, the Manifesto of N'Sele, was nationalism, revolution, and authenticity. Revolution was described as a "truly national revolution, essentially pragmatic," which called for "the repudiation of both capitalism and communism." One of the MPR's slogans was "Neither left nor right," to which would be added "nor even center" in later years.

He (Mobuto) initially nationalized foreign-owned firms and forced European investors out of the country. In many cases he handed the management of these firms to relatives and close associates who stole the companies' assets. This all led to his downfall and the starvation of the “blacks” he was set out to save or in other cult name “father”.

Going Back to YoungSter

What then youngster says is that South African could have taken the Congo Route. Disregard the dynamics of the economy. Still he blames Madiba for not Nationalising mines and the reserve bank. Did youngter think of who was to control these mines if they were to be nationalised? And how these profits were to be shared?

We don’t live in an ideal world, the economy is globally linked. Investors will never want to invest in a country which its resources are controlled by politicians. If SA did take control and nationalised everything, those leaders could have committed economic suicide that even Youngster would have never been able to seat in front of PC connected to the internet and write in such proper academic manner (Well not the content of his letter but his style of writing).

It’s after 1990 with the CODESA first stage negotiations that we can look at how Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders really to me ensured that our future as black South Africans will never be like the situation under apartheid. Not only that, but they also ensured that South Africa does not erupt into a civil war or lands itself into a Zimbabwe/Congo situation.

I may mention that CODESA did not only have two participants the ANC and the NP but the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Democratic Party, the South African Communist Party, the South African Indian Congress, the Coloured Labour Party, the Indian National People's Party and Solidarity Party, and the leaders of the nominally independent bantustans of Transkei, Ciskei, Bophuthatswana and Venda were also on those negotiations.

Following the collapse of CODESA II, bilateral negotiations between the ANC and the NP became the main negotiation channel. Two key negotiators were Cyril Ramaphosa of the ANC, and Roelf Meyer of the National Party, who formed a close friendship.

It was Joe Slovo, leader of the South African Communist Party, who in 1992 proposed the breakthrough "sunset clause" for a coalition government for the five years following a democratic election, including guarantees and concessions to all sides.

Pressing issues at this point included minority rights, decisions on a unitary or federal state, property rights, and indemnity from prosecution for politically motivated crimes.

How is it then that Nelson Mandela managed to sell blacks out to whites with so many actors involved?

To my understanding, the negotiations were no one man’s job. They were a collective action between many actors. Political and economic actors.

Youngster also does not like the fact that Mandela made contact with mine owners and made sure that they are involved in the policy making process. This is another Congo’s Mobuto tactic; making big decisions about the country without consulting the key-actors. This only became disastrous for Congo.

A book can be written on why Madiba never sold us Blacks out; there is also too much I want to say but now I can only say a little. I will quote Thabo Mbeki on his letter addressed to Jacob Zuma after his removal in office.

In the context of the global struggle for the release of political prisoners in our country, our movement took a deliberate decision to profile Nelson Mandela as the representative personality of these prisoners, and therefore to use his personal political biography, including the persecution of his then wife, Winnie Mandela, dramatically to present to the world and the South African community the brutality of the apartheid.

Unlike him Youngster , I wasn’t 5 years when Nelson Mandela was released; I was born a year later. But as a South African citizen I have taken it upon myself to be informed and make voice out sound opinions based on facts not hearsay.

We can not blame Madiba for the failed education, social, economic and political policies that the ANC now makes. The man has done his duty. He managed to keep our South Africa peaceful; he along with many actors defeated the apartheid government. They did their part; Instead of us blaming them for the past, we must focus on the future and stop posting provocative things that are not good for our country on News publications.

By: Esethu Hasane

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