A great deal of false information was spread during June 2015 about the 60th anniversary of the “Freedom Charter” of the 1955 ANC. This was like asking the African people of this country to dance on the graves of their ancestors and spit on the bodies of their Kings who resisted colonialism with their blood to protect their land against colonialists.
Zephaniah Mothopeng a Pan Africanist leader who was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for leading the Soweto Uprising described this charter as “a notorious document of unknown origin.” It legitimised the land dispossession of the African people in South Africa (Azania).
A nation that neglects its history is bound to be cheated almost permanently by the forces of imperialism and colonialism and continue to be made a slave in its own country politically, economically, educationally, socially and technologically. History is current and has suicidal consequences for those who do not pay serious attention to it. History must be lived forward, but it can only be understood backward. A nation that buries its history buries itself.
That is why imperialist and neo-colonial forces always ask Africans “to forget the past” and concern themselves only with “the future.” They know that their colonial past often has a disconcerting tendency of bursting, uninvited and unwelcome into their present revealing their hidden colonial skeletons. These people want only the Eurocentric distorted history remembered so that Africans may be fooled for a long time to come. Have these forces not just commemorated the First World War they started in 1914 – one hundred years ago? But have they ever talked about the African holocaust or genocide? They want any harm that has been done to Africans to be “forgotten.” Africans must not allow this.
Land Dispossession of Africans Did Not Fall From The Sky
The present political and economic situation of the African people in South Africa did not fall from the sky. It happened as a result of the Berlin Conference when Belgium’s King Leopold reminded his fellow European colonialists, “We are here to see how we should divide among ourselves this magnificent African cake.” Seven European countries partitioned Africa among themselves. South Africa became a British colony as a result of this.
It is important to go into detail about this matter because the present generation of Africans who have been encouraged to bury their own history will never solve the political and economic problems of their country without reference to the stubborn facts of history which do not lie, no matter how colonial historians may lie about them.
The Statute of the British Parliament Chapter 9, An Act to Constitute the Union of South Africa stated: “Whereas it is desirable for the welfare and future progress of South Africa that the Several British Colonies therein should be united under one Government in a legislative union under the crown of Great Britain and Ireland; And Whereas, it is expedient to make provision for the Union of the Colonies of Cape of Good Hope, Natal, the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony on terms and conditions to which they have agreed by resolution of their respective Parliaments and to define the executive, legislative and judicial powers to be exercised in the Government of the Union; And whereas it is expedient to make provision for the establishment of provinces with powers of legislation and administration in local matters and in such other matters as may be especially reserved for Provincial legislation and administration; And whereas it is expedient to provide for the actual admission into the Union or transfer to the Union of such parts of South Africa as are not originally included therein: Be it therefore enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice of and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in the present Parliament as assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows: ……..Part I Preliminary….The Act may be cited as the South Africa Act 1909.”
The colonial parliaments of the Cape Colony, Natal, Orange River Colony [Orange Free State] and Transvaal were composed of European settlers only. Section 44 of the Union of South Africa Act 1909, made provision for the Qualifications of Members of the House of Assembly as follows:
“The qualifications of a member of the House of Assembly …. He must (c) be a British subject of European descent.”
At this time Africans were just a little over five million Africans. These were Xhosas, Zulus, Basotho, Batswana, Vhavenda, Bapedi,Tsonga, Swazis and Ndebele. Britain and its colonial settlers excluded these Africans. The Khoisan Africans were already exterminated by the colonial settlers (See Eric. A. Walker, A History Of Southern Africa page 118, Peter Dreyer, Martyrs And Fanatics page 63, Ernest Harsh, SOUTH AFRICA: White Rule Black Revolt page 181).
The main purpose for the formation of the Union of South Africa was of course, “to fight the native danger.” This is well documented by constitutional lawyers, Gilbert Dold and C.P. Joubert, in their book the British Commonwealth – The Development of Laws and Constitutions South Africa, page 33, Stevens & Sons Ltd, London. See also Fowler and Smith in their book, History for the Senior Certificate and Matriculation page 428.
What was the European population in South African in 1909? The figures were as follows: Cape Colony (167,546), Natal (34,784), Transvaal (106,493), and Orange Free State (41,014). Their Representatives in the Union of South Africa Colonial Parliament were: Cape Colony (51 Members), Natal (17 Members), Transvaal (36 Members), and Orange Free State (17 Members).
As soon as the colonial settlers were granted power by Britain to administer the Union of South Africa; they confirmed the worst fears of the African people. They embarked on turning the African country into a “white man’s country.” The Parliamentary Records of 1910 and 1911 for the colonial House of Assembly prove this point beyond reasonable doubt.
On 30th November 1910 , Colonel Sir A.Wooll-Sampson, M.P. for Braamfontein told the House of Assembly in Cape Town that to the best of his recollections during the recent election in the Transvaal the majority members declared themselves in the most positive terms, their determination to make this a Whiteman’s country….The time had come when honourable members had to carry out their promises to the electorate and assure South Africa that they were all in earnest when they said, “This shall be a Whiteman’s country.” M.H. De Waal (M.P.) for Wolmaranstad said that he agreed with the honourable member who had moved the amendment that it was time to cry ‘halt’ in regard to the question of mixed marriages because if they did not, instead of getting a white South Africa they would have a Creole[black] nation growing up.
Native Land Act 1913 – Land Dispossession of Africans
The settlers hurriedly demonstrated that they were not joking when they said they would make an African country a “European country.” The South African Parliament voted for the Native Land Act 1913 giving 93% of the African country to 349,837 colonial settlers and only 7% to over 5 million indigenous owners of the country. This compelled the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) which was formed in 1912 by African patriots and visionaries such Dr. Pixley ka Isaka Seme, a scholar, a Pan Africanist and lawyer by profession; to take a petition to King George V of England whose country had colonised the African country.
In July 1914 Sol Plaatje, John Dube, W.W. Rubusana and two other delegates delivered the petition to the English King. They demanded on behalf of the African people of this country and their Kings that “the natives [indigenous Africans] be put in possession of land in proportion to their numbers, and on the same conditions as the white race.” Their petition fell on the deaf ears of the English King. The British government had a programme of making South Africa an “Australia” in the heart of Africa. In fact not long after this, Britain referred to South Africa as a “Dominion” not a colony. It finally smuggled the African country into the League of Nations and later into the United Nations and paraded it as a “sovereign state.” South Africa is historically the only African country Britain just handed over to its settlers with impunity.
The Native Land Act 1913 was intended to turn Africans into a “supply of cheap native labour” for the gold mines and large farms now owned by those who had turned the African country and its riches into a “European” property at gun point.
Truth of Colonial Injustice Persisted
Although the British Government snubbed the African delegation on land dispossession in South Africa on their visit to King V; A London Daily Newspaper spilled the beans. It reported, “In carving out estates for themselves in Africa, the white races have shown little regard for the claims of the black people. They have appropriated his land and have taken away his economic power and freedom and have left him worse than they found him…the blacks compared with the whites are in proportion of four to one , but are in legal occupation of only one fifteenth of their LAND…the deputation of natives now in England has appealed to the imperial government for protection.”
Because the 1955 ANC Freedom Charter represent an unprecedented betrayal of people robbed of their country and dispossessed of their land and its riches, it is important to give indisputable evidence that when the 1955 ANC betrayed the African people on the land question; the truth and facts of political history in Azania (South Africa) were there. These facts, to this day all stand in clear contradiction and contrast to the notorious preamble of their “Freedom Charter.”
Honest Europeans exposed the colonial land robbery of the African people in South Africa long before so-called “Freedom Charter” twisted the facts of colonial dispossession of the African people, namely:
- An official of the British Anti-Slavery and Aborigines Protection Society declared, “Upon principles that cannot be strongly reprobated, and which want radical reformation, aborigines (indigenous people) have had wholesale robbery of territory committed upon them by the government and settlers have become receivers of stolen property…” (British Parliamentary Papers 1836 page 680);
- Thomas Fowell Brixton, a British philanthropist wrote, “My attention has been of late drawn to the wickedness of our proceedings as a [British] nation, towards the natives whose countries we seize….” Brixton had earlier said, “… the native inhabitants of any land have an inconvertible right to their soil…. Europeans have entered African countries uninvited, and when there, have acted as if they were undoubted lords of the soil…” (Aborigines Protection Society 1842 page 29);
- William Elis, a British humanitarian made reference to “especially seizing the land of the people whose country we colonise and the seizure, by force, expulsion and annihilation of its rightful possessors. It has been our custom to go to a country and because we are strong militarily than the inhabitants; to take and retain possession of their country to which they had the most inalienable right, upon no other principle that can ever be acted upon without insult and offence to the Almighty[God].” ;
- Sir Godfrey Lagden, the author THE BASUTOS (1909) VOLUME II, page 642 has admitted, “The active seizure, by force or guile of lands actually in possession of the Africans, was a political blunder of the first magnitude as well as an act of injustice.”;
- On the policy results of the Native Land Act 1913, W.P. Schreiner, who was one time the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony warned, “Any policy that aims at setting off a very vast majority of the inhabitants, and reserving for the use and occupation of a very small minority of the inhabitants the great majority of the land of the country, is a policy that economically must break somehow.”;
- G. Fichardt who was a member of the colonial parliament in Cape Town, logically and categorically simply proclaimed, “If we are to deal with the natives of this country, then according to population numbers we should give them, four-fifths of the country.” (see SOL PLAATJE – Native life in South Africa pages 339-340).
In November 2012, the population figures of South Africa were released as: Africans 79.2%, Whites and Coloureds each 8.9%, Asian 2.5% and “other” 0.5%.
Four Liberation Documents The 1955 ANC Sabotaged
The original ANC Youth League of the 1912 ANC was led by visionary and honest leaders such as Dr. Muziwakhe Antony Lembede and A.P. Mda. This Youth League produced Four Liberation Documents. They were endorsed and adopted by the 1912 ANC Presidents, Dr. Alfred B. Xuma, Dr. James Moroka and Chief Albert Luthuli.
These documents were as follows:
Africans Claims In South Africa and the Bill of Rights 1943, which stated inter alia, “We [Africans] demand the right to an equal share of the material resources of the country and we urge: That the present allocation of 13% of the land surface area to 8 million Africans against 2 million Europeans is unjust…and therefore, demand a fair distribution of just settlement of the LAND problem.”
Youth League Manifesto 1944 which declared inter alia, “The white race, possessing superior military power…has arrogated to itself the ownership of land and country. This meant that the African who owned the land before the advent of the Whites has been deprived of all security which may guarantee or ensure his leading free and unhampered life.”
The Congress Youth League Basic Document 1945, Proclaimed, “The African people in South Africa are oppressed in common with thousands and millions of oppressed colonial people in other parts of the world.”
Congress Youth League Programme of Action 1949 stated: “The fundamental principles of the Programme of Action of the African National Congress are inspired by the desire to achieve national freedom. By national freedom we mean freedom from white colonial domination and attainment of independence…. like all other people, African people claim the right to self-determination.”
The position postulated by these Four Liberation Documents was in accord with the Fifth Pan African Congress held in 1945 in Manchester. This Congress was attended by 90 delegates. Among these were Pan Africanist luminaries such as Kwame Nkrumah, Obefami Awolowo, Jomo Kenyatta, George Padmore and W.W.B. du Bois. The declaration of this historic Congress read: “We affirm the right of all colonised people to control their destiny. All colonised countries must be free from imperialist control, whether political or economical…the people whose countries are colonised must fight for these objectives, by all means at their disposal…the struggle for political power by colonised people is the first step towards and the necessary prerequisite to complete emancipation…Africans and subject people of the world unite.”
The 1912 ANC Constitution on Securing Land For Africans
The 1912 ANC constitution in its article 25 stated its objective as “the safe-guarding of the interests of the African people.” These are people who were dispossessed of their land through European colonialism. In fact, at its meeting held in Mngungundlovu on 22 October 1916, this Congress passed a resolution objecting to “the parcelling of land into private farms for Whites” and demanded that “land remain a permanent reserve for original owners [Africans].”
African Kings had themselves fought numerous wars of national resistance against colonialism to preserve land for their people. These Kings sent representatives to the founding of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC).In fact, Basutoland, Swaziland and Bechuanaland were represented by African royalty of the three countries. This was a serious affair –LAND Dispossession of all Africans. The delegates heard Dr. Pixley ka Isaka Seme when opening the inaugural conference of the South African Native National Congress on 8th January 1912 say, “Kings of the royal blood and gentlemen of our race, we have gathered here to consider and discuss a scheme my colleagues have decided to place before you….In the land of our birth, Africans are treated as hewers of wood and drawers of water. The whites have formed what is known as the Union of South Africa in which we have been excluded.” The name of the South African Native National Congress was changed into African National Congress in 1923.
Deviation from Anti-Colonial Struggle Of Land Dispossession
In June 1955, a national tragedy befell the colonised African people of Azania (South Africa). A leadership claiming to represent Africans in the name of the 1912 ANC spoke with two tongues. It hunted with the hunters but ran with the hare/rabbit and made sure the rabbit was not caught. 1955 ANC became a bat. It was a mouse during the day and a bird at night.
The preamble to what it called The Freedom Charter read: “We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know that South Africa belongs to all who live in it black and white….And therefore we, the people of South Africa black and white, together equals, countrymen and brothers adopt the Charter….” The consequences of this preamble were that the 1955 ANC had now changed the African anti- colonial struggle and land repossession into a mere civil rights movement. The new leadership with its white friends denounced opponents of this Freedom Cheater as “anti-white.” It was clear that the main purpose of the “Freedom Charter” was to derail the land question in South Africa.
Amidst insults and false accusations that opponents of the Freedom Cheater were “anti-whites,” Pan Africanists rejected this kind of “Freedom Charter.” Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe described it as “a colossal fraud ever perpetrated upon the oppressed, exploited and degraded people. It clearly bears the stamp of its origin. It is a product of the slave colonial mentality and colonialist orientation.” Before the opponents of the pro-colonial Freedom Charter formed the Pan Africanist Congress, they sent the alarm to the bamboozled colonised nation. It read: “Following the capture of a section of the Black leadership of South Africa by a section of the ruling white colonial class, the masses of our people are in extreme danger of losing the objectives of the national struggle. This captured 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 African gaining effective control of their land. These leaders consider our country and its wealth to belong to…the dispossessor and the indigenous victim. ”
Twenty years later, Steve Biko of the Black Consciousness Movement corroborated the PAC position. He wrote, “Above all, we Black people should keep in mind that South Africa is our country. The arrogance that makes the whites to travel all the way from Europe to come and balkanise our country and shift us around must be destroyed…whereas whites were guests to us on arrival in this country, they have now pushed us to 13% of the land and are acting as bad hosts in the rest of the country. This must be put right” (I Write What I Like Steve Biko).
Condemning the preamble to the Freedom Charter, an African professor of political science and economics wrote, “It was and is still untenable for a political organisation which considers itself, to be a liberation movement, to start sharing the robbed land of those it claims to represent before it had…recovered that land, and determined terms how that land should be used by those who have to live in the country when its indigenous people gained self-determination.”
Top 1912 ANC Leaders Did Not Know Who Wrote the “Charter”
Top leaders of the ANC did not know who wrote the “Freedom Charter” that prostituted their land and cheated the already colonially robbed Africans. Chief Albert Luthuli who was President of the 1912 ANC in 1955 wrote in his book, LET MY PEOPLE GO (1st edition): “The Freedom Charter is open to criticism….I can only speak vaguely about preparations that went before it….The result is that the declaration is UNEVEN.” Dr. Wilson Conco who was Chief Luthuli’s Deputy in the ANC in 1955 for a long time presided over the Kliptown gathering that produced the “Freedom Charter.” On his return to Durban to report to Chief Luthuli, he said he had seen the document for the first time at Kliptown. He did not know who had drafted it (An African Explains Apartheid by Jordan K. Ngubane page 154).
The preamble to the 1955 ANC Freedom Charter is a bundle of fake goods by fake sellers. Through the Native Land Act 1913 the colonialists seized the very asset which is central to the lives of the African people and made Africans in South Africa permanent paupers, subjected to a “third world economy” while the beneficiaries of colonialism enjoy a “first world economy” in a country they colonially have seized from its owners by military terrorism.
Sixty years after the 1955 ANC claimed to be a liberation movement through the Freedom Charter, there are “two nations” in the “New South Africa” sometimes called a “rainbow nation.” One nation is extremely rich and is made up of a European minority. The other nation is extremely poor. It has the shortest life expectancy and highest child mortality and is the massive 41 million indigenous Africans. Millions of Africans live in shacks not fit even for pigs. These shacks often burn or flood killing many of them. The Native Land Act 1913 has been entrenched in Section 25(7) of “New South Africa” Constitution.
Although, 60 years ago the 1955 ANC declared, that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it ….” The ANC has the policy of “Willing Seller and Willing Buyer.” This means buying land for Africans from European settlers who acquired it colonially. They are compensated. If indeed, as the 1955 ANC stated in its preamble of its Charter, “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white….equals, countrymen and brothers….” why are Africans landless and the poorest people in South Africa? Why is it that the land belongs to all who live in it, being bought the crumbs of land by the 1955 ANC Government, instead of spending this money on massive education of the African students?
The Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti, long disclosed that he needed R72 billion from the coffers of the state to buy land from those who acquired it colonially. One farmer is reputed to own farm land equal the size of Belgium or Maryland in America, or close home, the size of Lesotho. Nkwinti has admitted that whites are buying land three times faster than the 1955 ANC government. But for many years the ANC resisted in parliament the appeals of the Pan Africanist Congress and the Azanian Peoples Organisation to legislate against the sale of land to foreigners. The situation in South Africa, as the ANC mounts its propaganda to lull the African people into a sense of false security by celebrating their own colonial genocide; the country is running out of land to bury its departed citizens.
The ANC government is now persuading the affected communities to accept cremation, or to be buried on top of other people. This is in a country where by culture, Africans bury their dead in the land. And their country Azania (South Africa) is not only rich but is four times the size of Britain and Northern Ireland combined. Indeed, this African country is now like the one which Prophet Isaiah saw when wrote, “Your country is desolate….Your LAND, strangers devour in your presence” (Isaiah 1:7).
Anthony Sampson, the author of BLACK GOLD Tycoons, Revolutionaries And Apartheid, wrote the “Freedom Charter was depicted by the South African Government as Marxist though it is hardly more radical than the Labour Party Manifesto in Britain.” In fact while the colonialist apartheid regime outlawed all documents of the PAC, it never banned the Freedom Charter. In South Africa the land dispossessors love the preamble of the Freedom Cheater. They often quote it profusely because the preamble to this charter has legitimised the land dispossession of the African people. Anthony Sampson seems to be right when he further states, “The Freedom Charter sounds like a Psalm, rather than a policy.”
Who Wrote The Freedom Cheater?
Some authors of this notorious document, as Mothopeng put it, have been named as Rusty Beinstein, Joe Slovo, Benjamin Turok, Arthur Goldreich, Piet Byleveld and numerous other whites who claimed to be “cummunists.” Sobukwe called them quacks who misrepresented true communism. Slovo was chief commander of the military wing of the ANC until after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the martyred Chris Hani replaced him.
In 2009 Turok confirmed his own authorship of the Freedom Cheater. “I was not a typist of the economic clause of the Freedom Charter….As vice chairman of the Cape Provincial Acting Council and full organiser of the Congress of the People, I was invited to the meeting of the National Council of the Congress on the eve of the actual event. A draft Freedom Charter was put to the meeting for approval and I proposed and Billy Nair seconded the amended version which was adopted there and then. I had been asked previously to introduce the economic clause at the Congress.” The leaders of the minority white Communist Party of South Africa regarded themselves as the “the brains” of the South African revolution. The current Deputy President of the ANC recently referred to them at their recent Congress as “intellectual factory” of the struggle. But they have always been very hostile to the issue of the land dispossession of the Africans.
In 1984, General Sebastian Mabote, Chief Commander of the Mozambican Army speaking on behalf of President Samora Machel explained why the Mozambican government supported the Zimbabwe Freedom Fighters in Rhodesia but was not prepared to give the same assistance to the ANC. He explained, “The Zimbabwe guerrillas are fighting for self-determination, independence and liberty. In South Africa the ANC is carrying a fight for civil rights not an armed struggle for national liberation”(SOWETAN 10th March 1984).
- A. Pseudo-Communists Exposed at Sixth World Congress
The South African white pseudo-communists were exposed for what they really are at the Sixth World Congress of the Comintern (Communist International). This Congress observed that, “A characteristic feature of the colonial type of the country (South Africa) is almost complete landlessness of the African population. The Africans hold one eighth of the land, while seven eighths of the land has been expropriated by the European population” (Independent Black Republic Thesis of the Communist International 1928). The delegation of the White Communist Party of South Africa was composed of Sydney Bunting and his wife Rebecca. They were unhappy about the position of the Comintern. Sydney Bunting said, “Expressions like ‘South Africa is Black Country’ though correct as general statements, invite criticism by the working class and peasant minority.” It is not clear whether Bunting was ignorant of the situation in South Africa or was deliberately dishonest. The slogan of white workers at that time was “Workers of the World Unite and Keep South Africa White!”
Anyway, Harry Haywood, an African American who attended the Sixth World Congress of the Comintern has written, “Rebecca Bunting spoke in the Commission session. Addressing the land question she denied that the land [South Africa] belonged to the Africans in the first place. But that both Africans and Whites from Central Africa and Cape Town respectively forced the aboriginal Hottentots and Bushmen off their land. Thus there is no Native land question [in South Africa]”.
Haywood continues, “We listened with amazement and a laugh went through the audience.”(Black Bolshevik, Harry Haywood pages 237,271 and 272 Liberation Press Chicago, Illinois).
The ANC Freedom Charter is the mother of “property clause” in the constitution of South Africa. It has simply given a new name to the Native Land Act 1913 in Section 25(7) of the “New South Africa” constitution. Africans cannot claim land that was taken from them before 1913. This is land that was allocated to them in 1913 as “Native Reserves” later called Bantustans. Constitutionally, Africans can claim only land taken from “their” 13% through the Group Areas Act 1950. The Freedom Charter is a dummy that has no milk. It is “golden” furniture without a house to put it in. It is future fruits from a non- existing fruit tree. All the material needs of life are in the land. There can be no life without land. There can be no genuine liberation of a land dispossessed people without repossession of their land.
Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe of the “Sobukwe Clause” fame and Robben Island Imprisonment without even a mock trial, was right when he mentioned the role of African Kings in the liberation of this country for land repossession. This was on Heroes’ Day 31 July 1959. Addressing the land dispossessed nation which is today 80% of this country’s population, he said: “Sons and Daughters of Afrika, we are today going down the corridor of time renewing our acquaintance with the heroes of Africa’s past –those men and women who nourished the tree of African freedom with their blood, those Sons and Daughters of Afrika who died in order that we may be free in the land of our birth….
We are here to draw inspiration from the heroes of of Thababosiu, Isandlwana, Sandile’s Kop and numerous other battlefields where our forefathers fell before the bullets of the foreign invader.”
The history of Africans with European colonialism has been a history of robbery, robbery of land, robbery of African power and its riches. The ANC preamble to the “Freedom Charter” is in essence the Freedom Cheater.
By Dr. Motsoko Pheko
The writer is the author of books, amongst others, SOUTH AFRICA: BETRAYAL OF A COLONISED PEOPLE and HOW THE ANC FREEDOM CHARTER BETRAYED LAND DISPOSSESSED AFRICANS.