Jacob Zuma and the African National Congress

A few things about ANC and Jacob Zuma. The recent presidential victory of Zuma seems to indicate that ANC has stepped away somewhat from the politics of compromise with Imperialism. The Young Communist League, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and other formations have gotten behind him in a big way. This represents a departure from the legacy of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, who were more behind building a substantial black middle class rather than working on behalf of the masses.

Because, in recent times, the African National Congress has not lived up to its words. As a student activist in the anti-apartheid struggle, the organizations that I participated in typically brought in Azanian Peoples Organization (AZAPO) comrades or those from Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC-A). This was because the ANC had strong liberal support from the NAACP and the white left, for example, and the other groups became marginalized. Also, AZAPO and PAC-A had vibrant Pan Africanist politics. They discussed how they not only attacked apartheid infrastructure, they also fought SADF troops and armed boers on the ground. The ANC had a policy of not hitting “soft” targets, despite the massacres white nationalists perpetrated against the African community. Now when the apartheid system released Nelson Mandela from 27 years imprisonment on Robbin Island, he scrapped the long-time demands that ANC had promised to the African masses.

Mandela’s freedom was bought for a price. Mandela veered away from the Freedom Charter; he served up the masses to a neo-colonial State which became entrenched in Imperialism. Winnie Nomzamo Mandela, his wife, walked him out of prison and Nelson walked her into prison because her politics diverged drastically from the sell out brand that he had cultivated over many years, as AZAPO comrade Mongezi Sifika-Nkomo has stated.

Prior to Mandela’s release, a wave of killings swept South Africa. This time, it was political violence masquerading at a political level. Remember the necklace, a weapon used against police agents and informers? Well, the ANC adopted it to terrorize AZAPO and PAC-A veterans. The Pan Africanist line held by these groups was that the land belonged — not to ‘all who live on it’, as the ANC Freedom Charter states — to the African masses. These freedom fighting groups had declared that the black workers and peasants own the mines and all the land. This declaration jeopardized the ANC position.

So ANC declared war on their political allies. Shortly afterward, the boers used Inkatha Freedom Party to wage a successful war of attrition on the ANC. This brought the ANC and Mandela to the table on white power’s terms. Afterwards, Mandela’s presidency opened up opportunities for rich white mining operations such as Anglo-American and Rand to expand into the rest of Africa. South Africa paved the way for “post-racialism” and the US is somewhat tailing that model.

During this period, huge “gold rushes” sparked intense wars over their mineral rich deposits of diamonds in Sierra Leone and casseterite/coltan in Eastern Congo. The profiteering done on a large scale during those wars has not contributed towards raising the living standards of African people despite the individuals who apparently live like leeches on the backs of the struggling masses. This is a direct by-product of South African “post-racialism.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, constructed by Mandela in partnership with his apartheid bosses to allow racist butchers to escape extremely serious charges concerning their heinous abuse of humanitarian rights. The South African Defense Force had been implicated in genocidal crimes ranging from direct military support and assistance of Renamo and UNITA, two vicious counterrevolutionary formations, to atrocities carried out in the townships and refugee camps against noncombatants.

The documentation on these activities is extensive. SADF carried out assassinations on people like ANC leader Chris Hani. Their jamming equipment brought down the Soviet aircraft shuttling Mozambican President Samora Machel from peace talks in Nkomati, Tanzania, where Zimbabwean and Tanzanian leaders had proposed to Machel that they form a triple front to end the Renamo depredations in northern Mozambique. The South African government, not knowing the outcome of those talks, decided to kill Machel in a manner resembling an accident. These are some of the serious crimes that the SADF and its political leadership have escaped, even while the entire economic sector in South Africa continues to be dominated by international finance capital. Thabo Mbeki carried on the Mandela policy.

International finance used the SA Tarzan sector to push the family of economic apartheid’s long-time Malawian lackey, Hastings Banda, into top leadership positions in Zambia. The Bandas have helped set the stage for destabilizing Central and East Africa.

Now, today, tho, Jacob Zuma apparently represents a sincere break with the politics of collaboration. The ANC “subsystem”, as it has been called, is being dismantled for a more radicalized vision of what South Africa should be. And this is as it ought to be. While a number of black middle class forces sought to divide the ANC and form a breakaway formation, Zuma craftily held it together and expanded his base. He restored confidence in the ANC by strengthening its core values, and taking steps to move away from Imperialism. Various charges used to slander Zuma had been dismissed and discredited. This was a tactic to stop the trend towards collectivization, towards strengthening the unions, and towards building a revolutionary component inside South Africa.

Africans cannot be dispossessed on their own land; they cannot be forced to live on that 13% of land set aside from the period of colonial domination. The boers will have to sink or swim. Zuma seems to be bringing in a new day. Forward the Black Revolution in Southern Africa!