The Freedom Struggle in South Africa
by Franz J. T. Lee
The following two articles have been published in the August and September issues of the London monthly magazine, „Africa and the World”, as a contribution to the present urgent discussion on the possibilities and requirements of a united liberation struggle in Southern Africa.
The discussion centres around four topics:
(a) Unity within each territory.
(b) A strategy between the freedom-fighting movements and the independent African states.
(c) A plan for actual transition to majority rule.
(d) A theoretical and practical plan for societies envisaged after liberation.
As far as possible I tried to give an objective-real and subjective-intended analysis of the liberatory movements, in line with she latency-tendency of the present development. I tried to base my arguments and criticism on the experience of the various movements which have marched and are still marching across the South African revolutionary platform, and have used as much as possible documents, books and pamphlets of the Unity Movement, but the various opinions and views which I have expressed do not necessarily coincide with the official standpoint of the Unity Movement at this stage.
In general, the tendency today is toward unity, but the present cannot be artificially demarcated from the immediate past which determines it, and thus I have attempted to give a historical background of the development of the liberation movement from ca. 1900 till today. In my second article I tried to review the struggle: Imperialism vs Verwoerd Fascism, and the struggle of these two against the oppressed masses, further, the national and international role of the liberals, that unity must be based on principles (for obvious reasons I did not state which principles, but from the contents of both articles it becomes clear which I meant), also, the negative role of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU), and finally, that the Unity Movement has always stood, and stands for a principled united strategic struggle.
It remains to be remarked that it is of immediate importance for all those organisations actually engaged in the armed struggle or which have the same objectives and principles, to unite with each other and formulate a common progressive strategy.
The liberation struggles in the Republic of South Africa, South West Africa, Basutoland, Swaziland, Bechuanaland, in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea, in Rhodesia and the Congo, all, must be seen and treated as different fronts of one and the same freedom struggle.
Franz J. T. Lee
Frankfort on the Main
1st January, 1966.
Franz Lee is a South African now studying in West Germany. His youth was spent in the Transkei reserve among african peasant workers. He attended a mission primary school and worked for white farms and in factories to finance his education. He is now on a German special scholar-ship to Tübingen University. He is representative in Europe of APDUSA.
It is pertinent to remember that the Boers and the British were rivals in the military conquest and economic exploitation of southern Africa. They represented two different economies, which in various respects had diametrically opposite interests: feudalist and capitalist respectively. With the discovery of gold and diamonds during the second half of the 19th century, industrialism developed by leaps and bounds. Within half-a-century South Africa passed through a phase which took nearly three centuries in Europe.
Gold and Diamonds
In The Contemporary Review, J. A. Hobson wrote: “Gold and diamonds, two commodities of small intrinsic utility and of highly-concentrated market value „keep“ South Africa. The diamond mines of Kimberley, rapidly developing from 1869 towards a now fixed output of about £ 4,000,000 per annum, and the gold mines of the Witwatersrand, discovered only 13 years ago and already yielding at the rate of about £ 20,000,000 per annum, occupy a place of supreme economic importance in a country feebly developed in agriculture and in other industries, and sparsely peopled with some threequarters of a million white inhabitants.“
Within a short period of time, diamond mining crystallised into a well-organised absolute monopoly – De Beers Company. Soon, with the help of rich international financiers, this monopoly controlled the whole gold mining industry too. By 1891, the newly formed Chamber of Mines was most active and fastened its supremacy upon the industrial development in South Africa.
Nosipho Majeke, in her book „The Role of the Missionaries in Conquest“, introduces the next phase in South Africa as follows: „The military defeat of the Africans was followed by their political enslavement, thus completing the purpose for which the people had been conquered and their land confiscated. We have said that the establishment of British supremacy meant the establishment of the new economic system, of capitalism. The discovery of gold and diamonds had opened up vast possibilities of development in commerce and industry. This demanded an ever-increasing supply of cheap black labour for the mines, the farms and the towns.” (My emphasis!).
„In other words, African labour was to be exploited in order to build up the South African State, but the black man was not to be allowed to share in the fruits of the civilisation he was building.” (A Society of Young Africa Publication, Cape Town, p. 131).
Towards the turn of the century, British imperialism dropped all pretence of respecting the Boers and Africans; capitalist development developed a unified economy. The two Boer Wars followed. The English won, but in their long-sighted alertness immediately realised that the bearded descendants of the Voortrekkers would be supervisors over the millions of potential black workers, which are to be channelled out of the reserves, and guardians of British invest-ments and interests in South Africa. Thus they rehabilitated them.
With the Act of Union, 1910, the Boers acquired political equality with the British, as co-rulers in this El Dorado. They set about stripping the black masses of every vestige of political liberty. To ensure that the Boers supported the British, the constituencies were weighted in their favour.
But British imperialism took the precaution of counter-balancing this political power, far in excess of Boer economic Power, by granting the Africans in the Cape Province a limited vote. The whole economy hung upon the mining industry - controlled by the Chamber of Mines - and the employment of cheap black labour.
Then the first world war intervened. A small section of the Boers revolted, but they were crushed. The majority of the rich farmers already realised what it means to belong to an economy attached to world capitalism. They invested their surplus capital in industrial concerns. This interlocking of Boer and British capital found its political expression in the marriage of Dutch feudalism and British imperialism: the coalition government of Smuts and Hertzog.
A secret society, the Broederbond, came into existence; its main supporters were led by Dr. D. F. Malan, who did not join this coalition, and were devoted to bringing into existence a Boer Republic „for a thousand years“, ruled by the elect - the „chosen people“.
Now let us briefly analyse South African society at this time. On the one hand we have the White Bloc. In it a small section has concentrated State power into its hands; also its concomitants: the law courts, the police and the military. It bolsters up the myth of a master race, a Herrenvolk, a Caliban, who has to supervise and direct the inferior black race, the descendants of Cham, the human filth from Pandora’s box. This is the first line of demarcation: the white superior race versus the coloured inferior race.
The ruling class has subdivisions in itself. Between white worker and white employer there is a class division, obscured by the racial division. There is a three-corned conflict between the Boer farmer, the industrialist and the all-powerful mine magnate.
Finally, there is the artificial division between the „Voortrekker, Calvinist, Afrikaander“ and the „smoothtongued, liberal-minded English gentleman.“ The belief that if a new party gains power in South Africa, then the situation will change, can only be accepted „with a grain of salt“. No matter which Herrenvolk party gets into power, the fundamental status quo of racial oppression and economic exploitation remains unchanged.
The white worker has a very peculiar position in the South African multiracial society. Historically he should be on the side of the oppressed but, like his counterpart in ancient Rome, he scorns manual labour as being beneath his dignity and prefers to live from the crumbs falling from his master’s table and on the profits gained by the sweated labour of the millions of toiling African masses who carry the whole economy on their backs.
Isaac B. Tabata, in his book „The Awakening of a People“, explains this as follows: „The white worker rejects anything less than the whitecollar job, which he guards as his exclusive prerogative by the divine right of his birth and for which he receives a wage out of all proportion to its value. ...The white worker lives on the back of the voteless, oppressed black masses. That is why the white worker . . . supports the plans of the Herrenvolk. That is why he is willing to join the White Bloc.“ (An All African Convention Publication, Johannesburg, 1950, p. 3).
Between the various sections of the White Bloc there existed some emotionalism - but this was only important when seen as a social phenomenon - an excrescence of a broader pathological racial emotionalism between white and black.
This factor seals the two blocs from each other and at the same time camouflages the real class struggle. It has become a monster, a Frankenstein, a Dracula, destined to consume the whole society unless some radical socio-politico-economic change comes about in South Africa very soon.
Tabata stresses: „The real cleavage is one of class, not one of colour. …But in the conditions pertaining in South Africa, the clearest class divisions have been obscured. ...The result has been that the (African) workers have found it difficult to know who are their allies and who are their real enemies.“ (ibid, p. 5) .
However, due to a nearly successful policy of divide and rule and this racial emotionalism, the non-whites themselves have become permeated. They use this venomous nectar from the Herrenvolk cup amongst themselves, causing disunity, dissension and chaos, nationally and internationally.
All the non-whites suffer fundamentally the same disabilities - they have no political rights, no real citizenship, no progressive education, no land. Yet strangely enough, until very late in the 1950s, they regarded themselves as separate entities. In reality, they were just serving their masters in different capacities, starved in different degrees, and died at different rates.
Each group, whether Xhosu, Zulu, Fingo or Sotho, found something by which to regard itself superior to the other. Each organisation, whether ANC, ICU or PAC, etc., found some basis on which to lead a specific group of the oppressed to freedom.
Still late in the 1950s we have an African National Congress, a South African Indian Congress, a White Congress of Democrats, a South African Coloured People’s Congress, etc. Organisations like a „Unity Movement“, or a „National Liberation Front“, or an „All-African Convention“, could only develop among the most conscious, revolutionary sections of the oppressed, and naturally, at a slow but sure tempo. It is noteworthy that exactly the oppressed have guarded these artificial divisions with an almost religious zeal for decades. Today only, the oppressed begin to realise that they belong to a „Commonwealth of Poverty“.
Let us return to the historical development. Between 1900 and 1935 the whole mode of living of the Africans had changed radically. Money-economy replaced barter. Labour on the farms, in the towns and mines replaced cattle-tending and tilling of communal soil.
Human relations changed. The tribal relationships and organisation were destroyed. The fist organisations of the Africans - in the struggle for political liberty - were formed at the turn of the century.
In the northern provinces organisations like „Imbunda ya Manyama“ or „Ingqungquthela ye Zizwe“ were formed. These were not organisations in the modern sense. Each was centred around a particular outstanding personality who attracted attention. They were of a federal nature, federating various tribes. Tribal antagonisms again split these organisations apart.
In 1912 the first African National Congress (ANC) was founded as a protest against the formation of the Union, and the robbing of further land. Tabata relates: „It was the first important organisation to be built on the model of European organisations, with an individual basis of membership. It was, moreover, to unite all Africans in the four provinces of the Union. . . . But, though in form the Congress had broken with the past, this did not mean that it had completely shed the tribalist outlook. It could not be otherwise, for an organisation is the product of its time. Nevertheless, the ANC was a progressive step.“ (ibid. p. 9).
In 1919 the Africans formed the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU). It was intended to be a trade union. But the Africans had no experience in trade unionism. In the final analysis, the ICU was neither a trade union nor a political organisation. But it organised a successful strike, involving 8,000 Cape Town dock workers. This event gave the Africans courage.
For the first time they realised the effectiveness of the Herrenvolk slogan, ex unitate vires! By 1926 the ICU had a membership of over 100,000. But due to rivalry, opportunism, careerism, racialism and bureaucracy, both organisations of the people disintegrated in the next decade.
By 1935, at the time of the Hertzog-Smuts coalition, only the hopeful names of these organisations still rang in the ears of the oppressed. By now Boer and English capital were so intertwined that the British did not need the African vote in the Cape Province as a safeguard any more - due to the three infamous „Hertzog Bills“ the Africans lost practically all political rights and most of the remaining land on which they still lived.
These laws stirred the oppressed nation. The various scattered organisations sent delegates to Bloemfontein to hold a conference: 500 delegates discussed the situation and formed the All-African Convention. Never before, and never hereafter, was the oppressed so united as at this time. Tabata explains this as follows: „The All-African Convention (AAC) has been dynamically bound up with this process of awakening. Its ideas, its policy and programme are an expression of new ideas and a new outlook foreshadowing the nature of the struggles to come. We are at the threshold of a great movement . . . it marks the beginning of a new epoch where for the first time our struggle is guided by a set of principles . . . where our approach to every problem is guided. . . . Victory, is not just around the corner. It will be a long and protracted struggle“. (ibid. p. 159).
This United Front came as a great shock to the White Government. It made use of every propaganda device at its command to smash the threat to their Utopia.
Before we analyse how this United Front was cracked, and how the liberatory movement among the oppressed has been split into two diametrically opposite tendencies, led by the Unity-Movement on the one hand and the NEW ANC on the other hand until the end of the 1950s, let us first scrutinise the role of the liberals in South Africa and the formation of the Communist Party of South Africa.
In his booklet „Combat Liberalism“, Mao Tse-tung wrote in September, 1937: „But liberalism forsakes ideological struggle and stands for unprincipled peace, thus giving rise to a decadent, philistine working style and causing the political degeneration of certain units and individuals in the Party and the revolutionary organisations. ... As to the origin of liberalism, ideological, political and organisational, it is the selfishness of the petty bourgeoisie which puts personal interests first and the interests of the revolution second. ...Liberalism is an expression of opportunism and in fundamental conflict with Marxism.“ (Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1960, pp. 1 and 4f).
Very accurately liberalism in South Africa has also been described in these sentences. It may help to visualise the political structure as a pyramid. The masses constitute the broad base, above them are the intellectuals, and above that again the liberals, while the government leaders constitute the top.
a) The Relationship of the Liberals and the African Leaders
Ever since the military conquest of South Africa, the liberals have played a decisive role in subjugating the African masses. Majeke describes this as follows: „Briefly stated, liberalism with its ideas of liberty and equality, supplied the ideological weapons with which the English middle-class in the 17th century and the French middleclass in the 18th century, threw off the shackles of feudalism and established capitalism. This freedom and equality ... turned out to be valid only for the man of property . . . not for the worker. Likewise the ‘emancipation’ of the colonial slave, together with christianising him, had nothing to do with his liberation, but on the contrary, his enslavement.“ (The Role of the Missionaries in Conquest, p. 4).
This is the womb of the so-called „liberals“ and „humanitarians“ in South Africa. The liberals, in fact agents of British imperialism, were warmheartedly embraced as friends and champions of liberty in the struggle for liberty. Historically, the explanation is very simple: the Dutch represented a backward, outdated and reactionary system of society; the English, in comparison to Dutch feudalism, represented the forces of progress. Small wonder that the halfconscious African leaders became confused by their sweet-tongued slogans of „liberty, fraternity and equality.“ The African did not understand that the liberal acted not out of goodwill towards the „noble savage“, but due to pure objective circumstances.
The liberals had to become the spokesmen of the Africans - the intermediaries between the nonwhite masses and the ruling class.
Thus when the Africans took their first political steps, they looked for guidance from the liberals and to petition the good-hearted White Queen - Victoria - to tranquillise their grievances. They did not realise that they were asking for more opium and strychnine in their Socratic cup. They thus failed to place the liberal where he belongs - in the ranks of the ruling class. He „oils the machinery of oppression“.
b) The Relationship of the Liberals and the Rest of the Ruling Class
Today, still, the liberals are conscious of their role in society. Sometimes they protest loudly against the apartheid government, nationally and internationally, but they never go so far as to endanger the interests of the ruling class as a whole. Their economic gains determine their political outlook. They are agreed with the rest of the Herrenvolk on one point: the exploitation of the toiling black masses, as the producers of their wealth.
The interests of the two camps in South Africa are irreconcilable; there is no golden middle way. Thus, in spite of all their good deeds, suffering and personal losses, the liberals are sacrificing themselves on the altar of imperialism - the remaining pioneers reap the fruits of this self-interest.
c) The Relationship of the African Intellectuals to the African Masses
The social position of the non-white intellectual has been very precarious for a long time. Due to education, some gained privileges. With a pettybourgeois mentality, they cling to these illusionary benefits. Further, the intellectuals depend on government employment, worsening their position. These factors have a profound influence on the behaviour and mode of thinking of the non-white intellectual. But they can never play an independent role - they are wedged in between the oppressed and the ruling classes. They must either attach themselves to the one camp or the other.
d) The Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA)
Established on July 29, 1921, the CPSA can be said to have been the first Marxist-Leninist Party on the African Continent. It was chiefly based on the International Socialist League, and then already worked in close co-operation with the ANC and the liberal bourgeoisie. Tabata states its tactics as follows: „It has long been the CP line either to control or to kill an organisation. It cannot tolerate a movement or organisation which is not dominated by itself.“ (The Awakening of a People, p. 127).
In its revolutionary organ, Liberation, the NLF of South Africa has criticised the CPSA in the following manner: „Its strategy has been to try to upset the security of the State to such an extent as to bring about mass reprisals resulting in international intervention - in the form of UNO. In other words, it has almost deliberately cut itself off from the masses and is advocating petty terrorism which is objectively not directly linked with a mass movement.“
Now, it is not in my interest, or that of the South African oppressed nation, to take past in sophistry where antagonistic organisations are concerned, or to attack various individual leaders. I am purely concerned with the objective revolutionary process and the role of the various organisations in this tendency, whether negative or positive, to the deepest aspirations of the oppressed masses.
And when I criticise objectively and constructively an organisation, then it is only as a serious warning, lest a catastrophe may follow. In 1936 and thereafter such a catastrophe did take place.
The non-whites who joined the CPSA in the 1920s and 1930s filled in the membership forms without having the slightest idea of what scientific, revolutionary socialism or communism really is. The conscious element in the party - the intellectual leadership - was drawn from the white petty-bourgeois intellectual liberal section of society. They formulated the politics of the Party.
How susceptible this section was to ruling class ideas we need not tarry at. In practice, in every political crisis, the CPSA has failed. Thus in 1936 and thereafter, due to government counter-action, whole organisations, among them the NEW ANC and the CPSA, broke away from the United Front. They joined and supported dummy institutions and took the road of „collaboration“ and opportunism, with the government and international imperialism. Thus came the first crack in the United Front, which had inspired the high hopes of an oppressed nation, after 300 years of tyranny and subjugation.
From now onwards we have two tendencies in the liberatory non-white movement: (a) The one on the path of orthodox Marxism, thus scientific revolutionary socialism, and (b) the other on the road of „Western bourgeois-democracy, neo-colonialism, and all its manifold concomitants.“
The first trend resulted in the AAC developing a 10-point programme, whose minimum demands are a complete real bourgeois democracy, and a policy of „non-collaboration with neocolonialist or imperialist organisations having the political boycott as its weapon.
New organisations under the banner of the AAC came into existence for all sections of the oppressed population – the Unity Movement (UM), Society of Young Africa (SOYA), Cape Peninsula Students’ Union (CPSU), African People’s Democratic Union of Southern Africa (APDUSA) - from the latter the National Liberation Front of South Africa (NLF) branched - and other peasant and civic bodies.
In 1943, at the Unity-Movement Conference, where 150 organisations were represented, the ANC and the Indian Congress were also invited to join. For several years the Executive of the UM has reserved seats for the ANC to unite. A special conference was held by the UM on July 8, 1944, for the Indian Congress to unite - but all in vain.
From now onwards these organisations have preferred to seek their allies among the liberal national and international bourgeoisie. Today still, their membership among the peasants and workers is negligible - in spite of Sharpeville and other great uprisings.
A scientific social and ideological analysis of reality they never had, and thus due to the dialectical oscillation of theory and practice, they have damaged the liberatory movement for more than furthering it.
This is seen in toto, and does not forbid us to value the bravery and self-sacrifice of thousands of Pan-Africanist Congress, ANC or CPSA leaders and members today rotting and languishing in the Herrenvolk gaols. But our present leaders should learn from experience and avoid such catastrophic results in the very near future.
In 1905, at Kliptown, Johannesburg, the Congress Alliance was formed and they adopted a „Freedom Charter“ as their programme - in fact, this is a very bad form of plagiarism and watering-down of the „ 10-point Programme“. The maximum demands of it are nothing else than a „Western bourgeois-democracy“ and we know that this term has lost all meaning and effectiveness today. The „free world“ has also lost all interest in establishing a bourgeois-democracy in an exrevolutionary colonial country - due to the danger of more Cubas, Vietnams and Dominicas.
In 1959, the Pan-Africanist Congress of South Africa (PAC) branched off from this Alliance. In a memorandum published on February 12, 1964, we gather the following information about this tendency: „(The members of this organisation) accept the basis of African Nationalism and Pan-Africanism. . . . Politically we aim at ‘government of the Africans, by the Africans, for the Africans’. . . . Internationally we pursue a Policy of Positive neutrality, allying ourselves neither to East or West, to neither of the existing blocs . . . (we are committed) to . . . the establishment of a nonracial Africanist Socialist Democracy.“ All this sounds very good - but one should just avoid speaking about the „Class Struggle“, then you have full support in the „racial struggle“.
Thus, in conclusion, the only movement which has given the class struggle in South Africa primary importance is the Unity Movement led by Isaac B. Tabata. Supporters of this tendency have grown by leaps and bounds. Examples are published in the following numbers of the Paris Revolutionary Socialist Weekly World Outlook, Vol. 2, No. 37 (October 30, 1964), and Vol. 2, No. 40 (November, 20):
„The last six months have seen the All-African Convention grow by leaps and bounds. In addition to the village committees all over the Transkei, it has now won over the MAKULUSPAN, numerically the biggest organisation in all South Africa.
„We have been penetrating also into the towns, where for the first time African, Coloured and Indian workers and intellectuals are joining as individuals the new organisation the APDUSA, which has captured the imagination of the oppressed. . . .
„(The) policy of the older leaders was the source of the incapacity of the ANC to extend itself into a real national organisation dynamically connected with the masses of the oppressed, whose aspirations they claim to express. To this day they have no roots amongst the peasants anywhere in the country, though the peasantry comprise by far the greatest majority of the oppressed in South Africa. . . .
„The explanation for the policy of the ANC clearly lies to its attachment to the liberal bourgeoisie. ... It is this reliance on the goodwill of the representatives of imperialism that dictated their repeated declarations that theirs was a non-violent struggle - even as late as the Sharpeville days of 1960. In fact it was precisely on this issue of such attachments that the youth in the African National Congress broke away in 1959 to form the Pan Africanist Congress. Their stated reason for the breakaway was that the ANC was too much under the control of the whites. . . .
„Throughout the country - in the villages, the factories, the farms, the mines and the kitchens of South Africa - the oppressed and exploited workers and peasants have rallied to the clarion call of APDUSA. . . . One of the delegates from the Northern Transvaal reported as follows: (a) That Fita Khomo identified itself completely with APDUSA; (b) that 5,000 membership cards were required by the Central Executive of Fita Khomo to rally and enroll their followers into APDUSA. . . . Now the fascist regime has decided to send an army to Pondoland in the Transkei in order, they hope, to clean up the area of APDUSA, which has been growing into a force.“
Thus in spite of „bantustans,“ „separate development“, etc., the nationalist petit bourgeois fascist government, which has been in power ever since 1948, cannot hold the historical development back. The 4,000,000 peasants in the reserves, the 3,500,000 peasants working on the Boer farms, and the 4,000,000 working and living in the towns, are striving to fulfil their historic objective, no power on earth can hold them back in their march to freedom.
The peasantry has still a peasant mentality, the town workers, especially the Coloured labourers, have already a proletarian outlook - but APDUSA is striving hard to unite this agrarian and proletarian revolution, developing it dialectically to a higher plane - a permanent socialist revolution.
The oppressed nation is waiting for a spark - a well-organised way out. Due to past experiences they will not embark on useless adventures, like another pass campaign or isolated Pondoland revolt. The oppressed nation has not really challenged the Herrenvolk government seriously as yet. The past wave of sabotage was just calculated as an embarrassment to the Verwoerd government - none of these acts were initiated by the socialist forces in South Africa.
Of course, victory depends much on the external balance of forces also. International imperialism can no longer maintain a colonial revolution within the boundaries and control of bourgeois democracy. Popular revolutions by their inner dialectical logic have the tendency today to become socialist revolutions. The peoples of the „Third World“ want socialism; they strive for democracy. And as we know democracy without socialism, or vice versa, are simply vacuum-empty phrases.
Further, comrades in the highly capitalised countries can play a vital role in furthering the socialist revolution in South Africa; contrariwise, comrades in South Africa or exile South African freedom fighters can play an invaluable role in advancing the revolutionary movement in the imperialist countries, by pursuing their own struggle at home, and keeping in contact with revolutionary socialists everywhere.
Finally, something about the realities of South African politics:
(a) The peasantry in South Africa has a long, almost unbroken (and not only since 1948) tradition of heroic struggle against the Herrenvolk. They have always resorted to „violence“ and were brutally oppressed. The Pan-Africanist and African National Congresses line, mutatis mutandis, is that only after Sharpeville „violence“ was necessary. How anachronistic and anti-historic!
(b) The influence of the abovementioned organisations (PAC and ANC) on the peasantry has always been minimal. Until today the AAC , NEUM and APDUSA have been the closest to the peasantry.
(c) The South African revolution will be carried forward on the broad back of the peasantry - 4,000,000 living in the reserves, and 3,500,000 working on the rich Boer farms. Not, of course, forgetting the close alliance with the 4,000,000 workers in the towns.
(d) This same peasantry, which for decades have been steeled in the struggle for freedom, will not run second to their counterparts in China, Cuba, Vietnam, etc.
(e) Finally, the attitude towards the peasantry, at the heart of which is the policy on the Land Question, is a major difference between the ANC/ PAC/ CPSA and the Unity Movement.
All these explanations and criticism must be seen in the objective revolutionary process in South Africa, and not as an attack against individual organisations.
FRANZ J. T. LEE,
Representative in Europe of APDUSA.
Frankfurt am Main 1.
Is A United Liberation Movement Possible ?
Franz John Tennyson Lee
The excellent article of Mr. Douglas G. Rogers in the August issue of Africa and the World - “Southern Africa Needs a Plan for Liberation“ has encouraged us to publish these objective-real facts, in order to give the world public a better understanding of the realities in Southern Africa.
Being members of the Unity Movement of South Africa, we shall chiefly concentrate on the development in this area, in the hope that the freedom fighters in the other colonial areas of Southern Africa will make their constructive and critical contributions.
Already in his „Letter to Nelson Mandela“, on June 11, 1948, Isaac B. Tabata stated the following on „The Problem of the Organisational Unity“ in Southern Africa:
„. . . Let me state from the outset that I do not support the idea of organising the people for the sake of organisation. People can be organised for good or evil ... it is absolutely necessary for every individual to ask himself the question: what purpose does this or that organisation serve? . . . What is of paramount importance is the Programme and principles of the organisations. To put it another way: it is not the subjective good-will of the leaders that matters, but the objective function of the organisation, what effect it has on society. In other words, the question to ask is: whose interests does the organisation serve objectively?“
This is the only correct approach to the discussion of a united front for the purpose of liberation of the oppressed masses in Southern Africa, by the present existing organisations!
Further, such a united front must have principles. Tabata wrote: „Principles are the backbone of any movement. To put it another way: any organisation which is not founded on the rock of principles is a prey to every wind that blows. It was the failure to recognise this important fact that was primarily responsible for the fall of so many of our organisations in the past. We have had large organisations which were at first hailed with enthusiasm. But they have vanished away, leaving no trace behind.“ (ibid.)
Now a review of the general situation in South Africa. Verwoerdian fascism today still, has its roots deep in feudalism. It cannot grasp the complications of the development of the present world monopoly system. Thus it collides with internal finance capital. This is the battle in South Africa which receives so much publicity today.
Imperialism dreams that Africa „till this side of eternity“ will remain in the orbit of capitalism, provided that same stooges, Matanzimas and Tshombes will be given a share in the management of their countries.
Thus today these imperialist countries (with the exception of Portugal) have the apercu of granting political independence to their „childcolonies“, controlling them with heavy investments and „economic aid“.
Further, it is in the interest of international trade (finance capital) to develop backward African, Asian or Latin American States to a profitable degree of economic advancement. Such steps go against the grain of the Verwoerdians.
Thus Verwoerd struck back with Sharpeville with a ferocity that left the imperialist world aghast. He outmanoeuvred the liberals in South Africa and outlawed the Congress Movement. He banned, banished, house-arrested, gaoled, hanged and murdered the liberals and the blacks. He broke the rules of the game. He turned members of his own class against him.
Defeated at home, the liberals sought the aid of the international financiers. In their retreat they covered themselves in a mantle of laurels. They are represented as champions of liberty in South Africa. Thus they seem to have the sympathy of the world behind them today. In the African States they are even welcomed with glory, as „martyrs“ in the cause of freedom.
In this way they are laying the basis of another conspiracy on an international scale against the real liberatory movement in Southern Africa. They are canvassing for the support of the political independent States in Africa without revealing their true colours and aims.
They very carefully hide the tremendous struggle of the peasantry in Verwoerd’s reserves. They do not explain why a permanent state of emergency has been existing there ever since 1960.
In Gaol or Hiding
Thousands of peasants are kept in gaol - and the world knows nothing about them. Many are banished to scrub and arid areas without food like, e.g., Frenchdale, where Peasants have been starving for 17 years.
Thousands have been hiding in the forests and mountains of Pondoland for five years, where they are starving and dying. Thousands have fled to the British Protectorates (which are supposed to be free today) where, when they belong to the Unity Movement, liberal organisations, like „Defence and Aid“, refuse to help them in any possible way. These policies abroad are the logical continuation of their policies in South Africa.
With the aid of the world imperialist press they have succeeded in presenting to the outside world only their disciples (black and white) as leaders of the real nationalist movement in South Africa. We need not mention these - as our article is not directed against individuals but against the objective functions of the liberals and the Congress movement.
Thus the „Committee of Nine“, an organisation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) has refused to recognise the numerically biggest organisation in South Africa - the Unity Movement.
Thus in December, 1963, a delegation of the All African Convention (AAC) and the Unity Movement (UM) - Isaac B. Tabata, the leader, Jane Gool, the chairman of the Working Committee of the UM, and N. Honono, the president of the AAC - appeared before the Committee of Nine in Dar-es-Salaam. They represented a memorandum, outlining the complex situation in South Africa, stating the programme and policy of the Unity Movement. On this basis they made a request for such assistance as would reinforce the struggle against neocolonialism and for real freedom in Southern Africa.
After a month they received a letter from the permanent secretary of the Liberation Committee, informing them that the Committee had decided to withhold recognition and assistance to the Unity Movement.
A big pile of organisational evidence - the constitution of the UM, minutes of numerous conferences, pamphlets, leaflets and books - was sent, to convince the Committee, but all in vain. The Chairman, Mr. Jaja Wachuku, replied: „Your organisations and their activities do not fall within the purview of mandate of the Committee of Nine. This Committee is for decolonisation.“ The meaning of this statement was not explained.
The delegation attended the next session of the Committee held from June 3 to 10, 1964. They were refused a hearing, In a new memorandum to the Committee in 1965 the delegation stated : „In South Africa, when people speak of ‘The Movement’, they are referring to those organisations which are federated under the All African Convention and the Unity Movement. The fact remains that these organisations constitute the main stream of the liberatory struggle in the country.“
Long before there was a Committee of Nine or even an Organisation of African Unity to demand unity among the groups in each country fighting for freedom, the leadership in South Africa had already established the machinery for such unity.
Unity was the very essence of the new political outlook born during the second world war out of the worldwide ferment among the oppressed peoples to throw off the yoke of imperialism. The leadership in South Africa saw the unity of the oppressed in their own country as the first step towards a sustained struggle for the overthrow of Herrenvolkism and imperialism, not only in South Africa but the continent of Africa.
It is ironical, then, that the very organisation which based itself on unity and which for 20 years has been in the forefront of a principled struggle, is precisely the organisation that is rejected by the Organisation of African Unity. It is equally ironical that those organisations in South Africa which broke away from unity are the ones that receive recognition and financial assistance from it.
It seems that the Unity Movement, which is pledged to a struggle not only to get rid of political tutelage but also the economic stranglehold of imperialism in its country, cannot receive assistance from the Committee of Nine. It further seems that such a struggle does not fall in the realm of „decolonisation“.
In Angola something similar has happened. Certain African States do not allow the unrecognised organisations to transport their army, arms and ammunition to the field of battle, across their territories. Tragically we have the comical situation where an organisation has to plead with the Committee of Nine for permission to fight for liberation against its imperialist oppressor.
In Swaziland, the main party, the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress Party (NNLCP), was refused recognition and assistance by the Committee of Nine. This is the organisation which led the famous „strike“ that brought the British army all the way from Kenya and Aden to suppress the population. The Swaziland Democratic Party, built by the White Liberal Party of South Africa and Oppenheimer, are becoming more and more favoured by the Committee of Nine instead.
When the delegate of the NNLCP appeared before the Committee of Nine last December to ask for assistance, Mr. Jaja Wachuku told him: „If you want assistance from the Committee, your Party must contest the coming elections“. Thus Mr. Wachuku succeeded in half an hour in achieving what the British Tory Government could not bring about in months of negotiation.
The opportunistic behaviour of the leaders of the NNLCP, following the advice of the Committee of Nine, brought havoc and confusion to the Swazis. The Committee did not give the Party a penny to run its campaign in June. The money arrived on June 10 and the elections were on June 23 - thus it was impossible for the Party to convince the population of the rightness of its volte-face.
Instead, the Committee has given assistance in time to an insignificant party, led by Mr. Nquku, who collaborated with the Swaziland Democratic Party. This is really a spectacle to see that the money voted by the African States for liberation is advanced for the interests of imperialism, as represented by the Oppenheimer sponsored group.
The Verwoerd-backed Party won all the seats in the elections. Thus Verwoerd has practically taken over Swaziland, and the back door to the liberatory fighters in South Africa is closed.
The struggle of the Unity Movement is NOT merely „a struggle to remove Verwoerd as a first step towards freedom“. Quite truly, the immediate objective is the national struggle, one man, one vote - which we cannot stop now. It is the conquest of political power. But here we do not stop! Thus, in conclusion, it is a matter of deep concern to the peoples of Southern Africa (and Africa) to know what exactly are the policy and programme of the Committee of Nine, and how it proposes to set about the task of „decolonisation“.
Either we have to revise this Committee, or establish a new one. We have to formulate a clear and positive strategy to counter the imperialist schemes. Else we become unconscious agents of imperialism. At present we have made an application to the Excellencies and the Heads of African States, and the Council of Foreign Ministers, to reconsider our case, and make it possible to grant our organisations the financial assistance necessary for the oppressed people of South Africa to carry on the struggle for liberation.
Only when we are recognised can we sit at the „Round Table“ to discuss about a „United Front“ or a plan for the liberation of Southern Africa. This we can do in the Committee of Nine OR at a conference of ALL the liberatory organisations in Southern Africa.