In the PAC, February is celebrated as Sobukwe month. During the same month, the president of the Republic of South Africa, at present Jacob Zuma, also gives a ‘State of the Nation Address’ and this year it will be delivered today (12 February 2015). It is against this background that one must ask how Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe would appraise the state of the nation, were he alive today?
More than half-a-century ago, Sobukwe, as captured in Article H (titled “No Longer with the Ranks of the Liberation Movement”) of the 1959 Pan Africanist Manifesto of which he played a critical part in its drafting, held the view that “Following the ‘Capture’ of a portion of the black leadership of South Africa by a section of the leadership of the white ruling class, the masses of our people are in extreme danger of being deceived into losing sight of the objectives of our struggle. This captured black leadership claims to be fighting for freedom when in truth it is fighting to perpetuate the tutelage of the African people. It is tooth and nail against the Africans gaining effective control of their own country. It is fighting for the maintenance of the status quo. It is fighting for the ‘constitutional guarantees’ or ‘national rights’ for our alien nationals. It has completely abandoned the objective of freedom. It has joined the ranks of the reactionary forces. It is no longer within the ranks of the liberation movement.”
Books and articles have been written on how the leadership of the ANC has sold out the African people for a mess of pottage. Political and economic power are inseparable and must reside among the people, however, the African people have none of that. They have been duped, bamboozled into believing they have these powers. The African people have indeed been deceived into losing sight of the objectives of our struggle. It was none other than the world acclaimed Nelson Mandela who, in order to placate the white ruling class and their imperialist backers, in the early 1990’s told the African people “not to have unrealistic expectations”. Further, the property clause in Section 25 of the South African Constitution guarantees the white ruling class its ill-gotten property. As predicted more than fifty years ago, the assertion that the ANC fought for the maintenance of the status quo has been vindicated. This fact that the ANC has joined the ranks of the reactionary forces holds true in that it was the ANC government under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma that voted in favour of United Nations Security Council resolution 1973 which eventuated in the toppling of the government of Muammar Gaddafi and his ultimate lynching and assassination.
The political and corporate elites dominate our society through the support of the people and the people have not realized this. The people are participants in their own oppression. As other commentators have said, under this system of governance, the social power of the masses is on loan, rented by the ruling elite and political parties. The people’s right to manage their political and economic lives has been usurped and they have been turned into spectators and have accepted this bourgeois political and economic system. The people’s power resides in party functionaries, career politicians and state bureaucrats. The parliamentary model affords people limited power to politics, as it is elitist in form and content. Parliament is a gimmick where competing factions are vying for power. Governments are elected in elections manipulated by misinformation, corporate media bias and large sums of money. The power brokers allow the people the illusion of freedom by giving them the right to vote since power does not reside with parliamentary assemblies.
The two main centers of power that must be challenged are the banks, financial institutions and the corporate world. That’s where economic power is concentrated and where economic decisions are made. The second is the state apparatus. This is where decisive political force is concentrated and exercised by people drawn from and loyal to the dominant classes. It is true that voting allows people to replace one political party by another but it does not allow for the removal of the corporate and political elites who maintain economic and political power. Corruption is part of this elitist political and capitalist system and to expect no corruption in such a system is like expecting a bird to fly without wings and legs. The Issues raised herein will not feature in tomorrow’s state of the nation address nor from any other political party other than the Pan Africanist Congress of (PAC) Azania. Let us remember Sobukwe.
By Sam Ditshego
The writer is a senior researcher at the Pan Africanist Research Institute (PARI).