THE RAPING OF HISTORY – REJOINDER TO PALLO JORDAN’S ‘ON A CENTURY OF MOVEMENT’

Sobukwe addressing delegates at the inagural congress of PAC

If I were to compare Dr Pallo Jordan‘s article headlined, “On a century of movement” in the Mail & Guardian of December 23 with the growth and development of a baby, then it is born and walks and skips the intermediary stage of crawling. How can an erudite person who hails from South Africa write about a century of South Africa’s struggle for liberation without mentioning the PAC and POQO, the forerunners of APLA, and the 21 March 1960 Sharpeville and Langa anti-pass campaigns organised by the PAC and followed by the shooting of peaceful demonstrators, and jump to write about the Black Consciousness Movement and the 1976 uprising? I think even members of the BCM itself would be bamboozled.

How can Dr Pallo Jordan fail to mention an organisation that forced the Apartheid government to proscribe both the PAC and ANC in April 1960 if he is serious at all and expect to be taken seriously? How can Pallo Jordan not mention an organisation that forced the Apartheid government to institute a commission in 1962 headed by Justice H. Snyman to look into POQO activities? The Snyman Report of 25 June 1963 revealed that POQO intended to violently overthrow the government in 1963 in order to create an African socialist state representing Black South Africans. Snyman observed that, in view of the existing law, the state had to prove connection between POQO and the banned PAC, and he suggested retrospective legislation. Minister of Justice B J Vorster subsequently created a retroactive 90-day detention law, the General Law Amendment Act (no. 37 of 1963), declaring “reactionary organisations existing since 7 April 1960 unlawful”. This was because of POQO, the military wing of the PAC and forerunners of APLA and not because of MK and the ANC.

How can Pallo Jordan fail to mention the PAC and POQO in our struggle history going back a hundred years? It is because he wants to conceal the fact that the much-vaunted ANC has, after all, not contributed in our struggle for liberation more than the PAC did as purported by the ANC and the media locally and internationally. Just a week before the publication of Pallo Jordan’s article under discussion, the ANC-led government honoured 134 political prisoners who were hanged between 1961 and 1989 at the Pretoria Central Prison. More than 100 of those executed were members of POQO but President Jacob Zuma failed in his speech to mention that more than 100 of those executed were POQO members, let alone to acknowledge the presence of POQO among those executed political prisoners. Jordan, Zuma and many in the ANC are guilty of intellectual dishonesty and falsification and distortion of history.

There is also inconsistency and confusion in ANC policy positions. The ANC has honoured POQO members whom Nelson Mandela described in his book Long Walk to Freedom as terrorists. Another inconsistency and confusing can be found in the late Oliver Tambo‘s book Preparing for Power, publised in 1987 with a foreword by Nelson Mandela and Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom. In his book Tambo wrote that the ANC was not interested in unity with the PAC. However, in Long Walk to Freedom, published in 1994 Mandela wrote that it was the PAC that was not interested in unity. However, Unity Movement leader the late IB Tabata wrote in his book Imperialist Conspiracy in Africa, published in 1974 that unity between the PAC and ANC was blocked by the SACP. In the early 1990’s around 1992 Stephen Ellis and Tsepo Sechaba wrote in their book Comrades Against Apartheid: The ANC & SACP in Exile that the SACP controlled the ANC and that Joe Slovo was rabidly anti African nationalism which explains why the SACP blocked unity between the PAC and ANC.

If ANC leaders such as Dr Pallo Jordan are so confused as to present such a partisan and garbled version of South Africa’s history of the liberation struggle, what is posterity going to learn about our history? Are the likes of Pallo Jordan reliable sources to transmit our history of the liberation struggle to posterity? Readers should read David James Smith’s Young Mandela and compare its contents to what Mandela wrote in his Long Walk to Freedom. The truth lies somewhere in between. Long Walk to Freedom is replete with self-praise while Young Mandela does not praise Mandela nor the ANC.

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