Flight or fight!– a call to PAC members

By: Taban Matibe

An explosive document penned by an unnamed author is doing the rounds within the PAC, calling on members to ask critical questions and take a definitive stand to rejuvenate the party. The author also launches a scathing attack on the current leadership of the party, sending a clear signal that the tide has turned full circle against the incumbent.

Mayihlome News posts the full text below:

FLIGHT OR FIGHT –
KEY QUESTIONS FOR REVOLUTIONARY PAN AFRICANISTS

This discussion document is a frank and forthright approach to handling the internal contradictions of the PAC and its component structures. We should ask ourselves, why is it that the legacy of our patriotic heroes – Mzwakhe Lembede, A.P Mda, John Nyati Pokela, Zeph Mothopeng, Mangaliso Sobukwe, Barney Desai, Steve Biko, David Sibeko, Vusi Make, Edwin Makoti, Elias Ntloedibe, Sabelo Phama, and a host of others – has been taken over, betrayed and turned into what it was never intended to be and never could have been.

At this stage, in June 2009, the PAC is undoubtedly a lame-duck institution without any bearings. But the PAC belongs to its members and followers, in successive generations, and it belongs to the people of Azania. It is also fighting a protracted struggle – to build a united government of socialist democratic republics in Africa. The demoralizing effect of negative publicity and the poor conduct of leadership in the attempts to revitalize the PAC have had a knock down effect widely.

We find that Party cadres feel that they must make a choice – to fight or to flee? We need to know what it is we are fighting to preserve, and what it is we are running away from. Let us make an informed choice.

I. BETRAYAL OF THE AFRICAN REVOLUTION

 

Let’s make it unequivocally clear from the outset: Letlapa Mphahlele and his cohorts no longer have the moral and political authority to hold the reins of leadership in the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. Since the 2006 congress in Phuthaditshaba, when they assumed positions and control in high office, this clique has unashamedly snuffed out whatever little chance we have had to resuscitate the PAC internally and reposition the Party to lead the Azanian revolution.

It is unfortunate but true that they failed to add up the sums and see the bigger picture. They had their sight blinded in the dust of petty squabbles, vendettas, nit-pickings, and sometimes their sheer thick-headedness did the job for them. They had their snouts in the trough. In political structures associated with the struggle, there is an emerging industry of Paid-As-You-Go carreerists that pays handsomely for going into public office. The carreerists will do anything to be members of parliament, of the provincial legislatures, and of the local municipalities. That is why we have experienced floor crossing and instant political parties. Letlapa Mphahlele’s clique has seemingly bought into this notion. They cynically use demagoguery to pose as genuine Pan Africanists but in reality sabotage its aims.

They could not just let go of their narrow-minded, self-seeking machinations and, in the march of time, they exposed their political bankruptcy. Their know-it-all attitude has thrown the Party membership and followers into disarray and have further alienated the PAC from the masses.

At this stage, after the worse than poor performance in the April 2009 national elections, it is no longer necessary to spell out in an indictment the counts of wrong doings, ill conceived campaign strategies, and the deliberate sabotage they have wilfully committed to shame and embarrass the Party. Mphahlele and his mobster friends obstinately refused to pare down their excesses in their handling of inner party contradictions and struggles, choosing instead to employ a method of low intensity ‘organized disorganization’ to turn the PAC and its component structures into a laughing stock of its political rivals.

Concerned senior cadres who pointed out the possibility of a hidden hand and embedded entryism (that is, infiltration by revisionists and agent provocateurs) in our ranks, to cause wreckage from within, feel that their point of view is now vindicated. Perhaps this is way too paranoid and taking the matter rather too far. Wider vistas create a better view, closer to home.

Since the ban was uplifted in 1990, the PAC was always at the tail end of every major political event. The PAC displayed political immaturity and committed grave errors in its choice and style of leadership, and even in its decision-making processes. We allowed anarchists within our ranks to do as they please; we gave consent to a take-over by characters who have previously betrayed the struggle and allowed them to occupy leading positions; and, as if this was not enough, we threw younger cadres with great leadership potential into the deep end without providing adequate preparation and guidance. More than that, in the new political dispensation, we failed to regroup and re-determine the evolution of the Africanist school of thought and provide political analysis and strategies to build the PAC for the future. We should have known better. The revolution cleans itself and regenerates its programmes, with genuine leaders and cadres as its tools. Things do not just happen by themselves and on their own. Proper preparation prevents poor performance.

Mphahlele is therefore a Frankenstein monster of our own making. When he defied the political and military order, from both the APLA High command and the Military Commission, to cease guerrilla activities and comply with the new political dispensation, the PAC turned a blind eye and did not take measures to correct his misguided perspective. The political leadership had erred in the way it handled this matter in the first place, but this did not justify Mphahlele’s adventure and opportunism which led to the fatalities and the imprisonment of some detachments of the APLA forces. To date, we have never censured him and pointed out his grave mistakes.

We have to ask the critical question – Who groomed him? Who checked and monitored his rehabilitation. His diabolical conduct, his blinkered self-preservation (he is holding on to the leadership to avoid facing possible criminal charges by the National Prosecution Authority), and his despotic behavior has now become a major liability to the PAC. To compound the sin, he has surrounded himself with dubious characters, and some relics of the bantustan system, and he has created a buffer of the tsotsi element to protect himself from the PAC.

What seems to be at play is the ‘odious debt’ and illegitimate loans received from dark characters, used as ’round tripping’ extortion platforms to hold whoever takes the number one leadership position in the Party to ransom. According to the records from the sham congress held in 2008 at Fort Hare, Alice, almost R4 million is owed to these dark characters. They call the shots – they pick and choose on whom they would use as a front to lead and destabilize the Party. He who pays the piper calls the music.

The method used by these serpents is to first own the souls of some of our ‘aggrieved’ comrades, who have had a good reputation prior to 1994. They then hold them up as alternative and credible runners for top office, then corrupt the inner workings of the PAC by setting up bogus branches, thereby bringing in a new army of mercenaries to do the dirty work of purging out our best cadres – until the Party is rendered useless and reactionary in the eyes of the public. These ‘leadership’ comrades are like puppets on the string.

We need only to check very closely the cause and effect of the decisions and campaigns they run inside the PAC to draw an inference that a sabotage pattern is at play here.

The important lesson to note is that it is completely wrong for us to bet on ideologically ill prepared and ill equipped ‘donkeys’ to pull forward the carriage of the African revolution. Jokingly, A.P Mda once said that the basic political outlook of revolutionary Pan Africanism was so clear, and stated in such biblical simplicity, that even a donkey could grasp and advance its cause.

Well, in the past decade or so, we have collectively come to make an ass of the PAC as we dropped the guards of political vigilance, the practice of critical review, and the summing up of our experiences, such that this ‘donkey’ image is coming back to haunt us.

Our undoing is our own extraordinary docility – under the illusion that being submissive and compliant will lead to unity and stability in the PAC – and the mistaken belief that there is nothing we can do, as if it were bad weather, to reverse the downward spiral. The great Osagyefo, Kwame Nkrumah, has noted on numerous occasions, that ‘Pan Africanism cannot be built and sustained without revolutionary Pan Africanists.’

II. PAN AFRICANISTS MUST DIP THEIR BUCKETS

 

We must learn to tell it like it is. To join the PAC is to carry the mantle of Africa’s history on your shoulders, and to consciously serve the cause of the African people to regain their dignity and improve the quality of their lives. Our members must strive to become partisans who forego the comforts and pleasures of a sedentary lifestyle, to work for the noble cause of placing Africa proudly on the pedestals of human civilization. We are called to be selfless; to be upright in character and to be honest; to become men and women of integrity; to be courageous and have no fear; and to passionately demonstrate our love for mother Africa (where we have a sense of belonging) and her people.

No time for tomfoolery, no skullduggery, and certainly nothing whatsoever to do with chicanery. In our liberation movement, there is no place for soldiers of fortune. The PAC is not a safe haven for thugs and criminal elements, and for those who seek to turn it into a den of iniquity. The moral ethics of the PAC are very clear and unambiguous.

Unlike other groupings in the liberation movement, the PAC has consistently refused to take bribes in exchange of support to push the interests of imperial super-powers. We stand for the national interests of the African people. Any financial, material and political support with strings attached is totally unacceptable. Many attempts have been made from imperial centres, but they all failed to buy the leadership of the PAC. It was not by accident that the founders of the PAC adopted the motto of service, suffering and sacrifice. In an analogy to illustrate the poem of the PAC, Sobukwe pointed to the fable of the jackal that roamed free in the open jungle and survived out of its own wits, and the domesticated watch-dog, with a collar mark around its neck, and restrictions of thought and movement, in a God given land now usurped by the master. The jackal was free but the dog was in chains.

The PAC was built with the expressed intentions to act as a revolutionary vanguard and a true custodian of the aspirations of the African people. We do not have to go any further to understand why the PAC itself is a self-cleansing organization. We must dip our buckets where we are. Unlike the lost sailors who were roaming the seas for long without fresh water and asked those on land to help them. The answer was – dip your buckets, the Mississippi River is fresh water; dip your buckets where you are.

John Pokela, then PAC chairman, said that ‘the PAC is the African people and the African people were the PAC’. The role of the PAC must be understood in these terms. This concept, he elaborated, is based on the view that history and change is made by the mass of the people, as opposed to the view that it is made by a few gifted or particularly powerful individuals. A disciplined vanguard acquires the standpoint and the living experience of the people, summing up their aspirations in a way that is in essence comprehensible and a basis for action, and then take this ‘political theory’ back to the masses so that it becomes once more their own, and they act upon it of their own free will. Such is the basis of true social leadership that the PAC needs to fulfill.

The Basic Documents – emphasis on basic, because these starting points expressed in biblical simplicity must be clearly understood by all our members and improved upon to avoid being led astray by charlatans – teach us to develop healthy and sound personal habits; to acquire knowledge at all times; to hold a high sense of responsibility and discipline; to spread the ideas of our cause wherever the masses are; to chop off the ugly head of factionalism without ceremony; to criticize wrong-doing in the Party and to accept to be the subject of criticism, because no man or woman in the Party enjoys a privileged position as if they are demi-gods; and, accept to act on the decisions arrived at out of the process of democratic centralism; and to accept the collective leadership of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania.

III. THE BAD STYLES OF POLITICAL WORK

 

If our political legacy is well understood and we unanimously agree that the political programmes we are pursuing should be based on the concept of the mass line, what then makes us falter so much? Why do we come back to same position – of anarchy let loose, and the centre not being able to hold? What stops the internal democracy from flourishing and making the PAC a trustworthy organization?

Leading cadres in the PAC must improve their style of work and eliminate bad tendencies. We must discuss these issues as part of self-criticism.

We must desist from the temptation to turn our cadres into bureaucrats. This is typified by those who think that holding office in the branch committee or region or national executive committee gives them the right to issue orders and that all others are in their command. Some of them put on superior airs and do not want to participate in well rounded discussions where their own views and social habits will be questioned.

They operate like hirelings and often lay down the law which must be obeyed without questions, as if this comes from higher up from the authority in the peak of the mountains. Our officials and cadres must recognize that they are ordinary workers of the Party who have an important work to do, and, due to their greater experience and understanding, they must set an example by their hard work among the masses. They must be seen to be honestly and diligently carrying out the tasks set out by the PAC and they must foster the spirit of initiative by taking a leading part in organising the masses to solve their own problems.

It is not a crime to consult and inform those around you about the nature of the problem you are all facing, and to arrive at a collective resolution to attend to it. It is also not wrong to admit your own personal limitations even if your efforts could be trusted to carry out the task. In this instance if you do not have the gift of the garb it is wrong to be sent ill prepared to address a mass meeting. Like everything else, we must take the appropriate steps to learn and prepare for tasks lying ahead.

Commandism, and the bad style of surrounding our leadership with visible throngs of bodyguards, makes the PAC a para-military structure. It turns our cadres into slave-drivers and repels the masses from participating in the work of the PAC. If bureaucracy is allowed to exist, it will cut the leadership off from the masses with whom we should be working.

The leadership at branch, regional and national level, must not practice sectarianism as a style of work. We cannot allow the PAC to reduce itself into a tiny sect, or a cult of self-important believers in a mystic higher order. The dangers are that we would be isolating ourselves from the masses and keeping them out from our affairs. The obverse side to it is that we then want to canvass support from the masses when we do not understand their various viewpoints and outlooks.

The PAC must strive to find common ground – where our major interests are the same – with people of differing social positions and political views, and on that basis give leadership. We must improve the cooperation between our cadres and non-PAC intellectuals, non-government organizations, public administrators, and mass organizations of women / youth / business sectors/civil bodies / labor unions / etc. We must cultivate sound relationships with non-PAC personalities and attend their functions, and show solidarity with their efforts to achieve progress.

Political sectarianism sends out meta-messages of arrogance and pompous authority, which will in all likelihoods be rejected. You will be seen to be playing with the lives and futures of the masses if you make the presumption of knowing all the answers to dynamic difficulties they are facing, when you are known to have no clue what they feel and think. It is important to be one with the masses.

Subjectivism is a style of work that is more in the realm of political pathology and is underscored by excuses that the masses are ‘misguided’, ‘reactionary’, and ‘ill-informed’. This is typified by those who make decisions and take action without making a full study of the facts. We need not only know the current physical situation based on the demographics and other mechanical information, but also the state of the people’s thinking at the given period. We need to be abreast with the objective conditions, all the time. Our policies must find political resonance with people, and the policies must be understood to be in favour of the political, material and spiritual interests of the masses.

The rectification campaign to correct the wrong assumptions and the bad style of work in the leadership of the PAC must be increased to a higher level.

We must continually form our strategies for growth and development from a systemic perspective. An organization that operates a smooth internal system often carries out its aims and objectives, and it can measure itself. A system is a whole whose various elements ‘hang together’ because they affect each other continually, and operate with a common purpose. The quality of work of one member or cell or branch affects the quality of the next, in a reinforcing loop which affect the quality of work of the PAC as a whole. The leadership structures must monitor the feedback processes of the entire operations, and observe and guide the clarity of purpose in all actions.

Our members are our best asset, and are key success factors to the operations of the PAC. We will suffer stunted growth if we do not educate new members to grasp political theory and revolutionary work. Each member must have a clear task that they must dutifully carry out.

The organizational machinery of the Party must be run in clear and well understood terms, and with continued education to improve the administration system. A strong back office of support staff for the PAC must be established at once. Dedicated professionals must be groomed and employed to handle technical divisions, and systems upgraded to suit the times. For instance, a call centre unit for mass communication, and an internet communication technology section, and a research and archive section. An independent comptroller who reports to congress, to supervise and check that the internal finances of the PAC are governed with the exactness of professional accountants.

We must have the tenacity of a Bolshevik and the efficiency of an American. What must be done this day must be boldly done today. We must conduct our affairs like business. Sloppy work and lazy ‘broerskap’ must be eliminated.

The content and form of our political message must reach the intended audience and win them over to our side. Whether this is through oratory at public gatherings, propaganda leaflets and banners, the mass media, performance arts, or the promotion of sub-cultures, we should consciously improve the quality of the message and present it in an outstanding manner so that it can be appreciated and supported. This also means we must be proficient in the languages and symbols of the people.

IV. DARE TO STRUGGLE AND BUILD A PEOPLE’S PAC

 

First things first. We have confined the discussion to the internal problems and possible solutions of the PAC. Except where necessary, we have avoided to mention in chapter and verse the details of the previous blunders by the leadership and effect these have had on the members and followers. The Party has had a beating like no other. The PAC is nevertheless a tough survivor of severe hardships. We believe that the PAC was made of sterner stuff. The discussion must first centre around the PAC and its resilience under these circumstances. Firstly, the internal contradictions – which are not life and death contradictions – must be reasonably sorted out so that the party building process must earnestly begin. Sepedi says, ‘Ntlu lerole ga e tswale kgosi’.

We insist that the problems are not with the PAC’s basic ideological position. Pan Africanism is dynamic and is all encompassing like an omnibus. We have not arrived at its destination yet. We are sure that even in the new world order of globalization, the PAC’s revolutionary thought and action has a significant role to play.

We are also not addressing the position the PAC ought to take in formulating policy framework and the contest for power with the ruling party. This is a matter for discussion at some other time. Our weapon is blunt and useless right now. Do we allow it to rust even further or do we renew and reinvigorate it to serve the masses? There is a looming upheaval of discontent from all sectors of the people. Very clearly, the Azanian masses are in ferment and about to revolt against the erroneous governing policies. The PAC should keep its finger on the pulse and lead the people. Only when it is ready internally can any hope be raised for this eventuality.

Some Africanists are bamboozled by the modern challenges faced by South Africa and domination without its frills and trappings of Western influence in Southern Africa. They see the destruction of the fabric of Zimbabwe’s national economy and political infrastructure as an indication that it is virtue to toe the line, and follow the road led by the western powers.

We challenge them to be daring and to struggle with every fibre of their being to build the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania.