The Erstwhile Pan Africanist Thami Ka Plaatjie

Thami Ka Plaatjie’s article in Sowetan of June 21, 2011 published under the headline, “Malema does not mince his words” reminds me of the words of the Pharaoh of African Studies the late Dr Cheikh Anta Diop during the time whites claimed that race determined the intelligence of a people. Diop responded that equating intelligence with race is like confusing rectal temperature with good health.

Ka Plaatjie claims that the recent ANCYL “conference affirmed its President Julius Malema as a critical voice of the youth in the current South African trajectory, secondly the conference confirmed Malema as the political and ideological heir of the mantle of Anton Lembede and AP Mda, thirdly Malema used the elective conference to lavishly display his nationalist ideological thrust and fourthly, he exposed his Pan African political and ideological outlook and fifthly, Malema has brought about a greater urgency to issues such as nationalization and land reform”.

Charterism and Africanism are irreconcilable. Malema wholeheartedly embraces the Freedom Charter which Mda and Sobukwe rejected and Lembede would not have accepted were he alive when it was adopted by the Charterists. The Freedom Charter says South Africa belongs to all those who live in it. This is a repudiation of the African people‘s anti-colonialist stance of ‘Africa for the Africans’. Africanism holds that Africa belongs to the Africans. The Freedom Charter speaks of the land that was taken but doesn’t say who took it and from whom. In the article, the former PAC Secretary General Thami ka Plaatjie styled Malema as a Pan Africanist and an heir to the political and ideological mantle of Anton Lembede and AP Mda. That is an insult to the memory of Lembede and Mda.

If Malema and the likes of Ka Plaatjie believe and accept that South Africa belongs to all those who live in it, the coloniser and the colonised, the dispossessor and the dispossessed, the oppressor and the oppressed, why then are they up in arms against those who have usurped the country’s resources, why are they against bourgeois reforms since “South Africa also belongs to the colonizers, dispossessors and oppressors”?

Ka Plaatjie went on to say, “Even an organization such as the PAC has never, since the unbanning of opposition parties, attracted so many African delegates and solidarity organizations as the league has done”. Is it a tacit admission that present and past PAC leaders (himself included as Secretary General of the PAC) failed the masses and the PAC?

As former Secretary General of the PAC and former PAC Gauteng Chairman, Ka Plaatjie is intellectually dishonest because he knows that Malema doesn’t speak on behalf of the Pan Africanist Youth Congress and Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania. PASMA is the leading student organization in many South African universities and tertiary institutions. I don’t even think Ka Plaatjie, being close to some Azapo leaders, can claim Malema speaks on behalf of the youth of Azapo and other Black Consciousness Movement formations. Ka Plaatjie pretends to be oblivious of the fact that there are countless young people in this country who have made it clear that Malema does not speak for them. He probably speaks for the disaffected and directionless youths.

Ka Plaatjie left the PAC about a year ago claiming that “the ANC was the only organization capable of bringing change” now he says Malema “has disturbed the quintessential politics of diplomacy with the former oppressors delaying fundamental reform and has publicly refused to let such thorny issues as the land redistribution die a slow death”.

It is an insult to the memory of Lembede and Mda to put them on the same pedestal as Malema let alone Robert Sobukwe whom Malema described as an “irresponsible” person “who led the people of Sharpeville to their deaths during the 21 March 1960 anti-pass demonstrations”. Mda and Lembede recognized and acknowledged the able leadership of Sobukwe. Mda even said Sobukwe took African Nationalism to a higher level than he and Lembede could.

Lembede was an original thinker and a philosopher, Mda an analyst and advisor. They and Sobukwe were respectful and humble. This can’t be said about Malema. Respect and humility are some of the traits of good leadership. Malema is just imbibing and regurgitating what he has been fed. He plays to the gallery; he is a demagogue, an imposter and a charlatan.

The media is hypocritical. When the PAC raised the critical question of land dispossession the media ignored them. At the advent of the policy of willing-buyer-willing-seller, the PAC warned that the policy was bound to fail and the PAC was the first to say that policy has failed, not Malema. It was the PAC which said it was going to expropriate land without compensation because whites didn’t buy it but took it by force, not Malema. The editorial in the Citizen of 21 June was correct to write that Malema didn’t break new ground on the land question but failed to mention that the land question was at the heart of the PAC’s ideological foundation and Ka Plaatjie knows that very well. The Sowetan editorial of that same day also failed to mention the PAC.

Ka Plaatjie knows that the PAC and not Malema are custodians of Pan Africanism and African Nationalism and we will not allow them to appropriate it to themselves.

The primary crisis in African life is the ‘cultural crisis’ i.e., a crisis in views and especially, values. This crisis is seen to manifest itself in our usually unconscious adoption of the western worldview and perspective and their attendant conceptual frameworks.

It is within these Eurocentric frameworks, in particular in the spiritual alienation they engender – with their core values of materialism, objectification, individualism and competition – that Afrocentricity locates the origins of human and social problems.

The Freedom Charter which was drafted by a white person and reflects the views and values of white people is a document which split the ANC and brought about the birth of the PAC. One can’t be an Africanist and a Charterist at the same time.

By Sam Ditshego
(The author is a member of the Pan Africanist Research Institute)

%d bloggers like this: