According to its January, 1958 constitution, the African National Congress (ANC) stands for the “creation of a united democratic South Africa on the principles outlined in the Freedom Charter”. The new body, the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), according to its April, 1959 constitution, stands for the “establishment and maintenance of an Africanist socialist democracy, recognizing the primacy of the material and spiritual interest of the individual”.

The campaign had failed in its objective of deposing the Nationalist Party and installing the United Party, and in that of making the African people “working class conscious”, so that they could be used as a nucleus for the working class struggle. It had, however, succeeded in crippling the ANC. The sacrifice of African nationalism on the altar of Charterism proved the last straw in the relationship between Charterists and the Africanists. Although on June 26th the Africanists were still members of the ANC, the movement was so crippled that it failed to issue a call for a stay-at-home. Following the success of the Africanists, and haunted by the ghost of the stay-at-home fiasco, the Charterists again failed to call for a national stoppage on June 26th of this year.

The Charterist movement now represents the interests of both the ruling class and the subject class, and finds itself therefore, neither fish, flesh, fowl nor good red herring. It reflects, in the words of Joe Matthews, “the aspirations of all those classes striving for democratic change.” That is why, Matthews continues, “it is ridiculous to describe the Freedom Charter as a socialist or a communist programme.”

Mr. Albert Luthuli, President General of the ANC has said: “All I ask for is a good government. What does it matter whether it is a black government or a white government? Let it be a white government as long as it is a good government and passes good laws.” All that the Charterists stand for is benevolent despotism, unmindful of the fact that self-government is more important than good government. Charterism is clearly the antithesis of freedom and independence.

In sharp contrast to the ex-chief’s statement, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, People’s Minister of Ghana, told the opening session of the All African People’s Conference in Accra that:

“This decade is the decade of African independence. We welcome into our midst peoples of all other nations who desire to live among us in peace and equality. But hey must respect us and our rights, our right as the majority to rule. That, as our Western friends have taught us to understand it, is the essence of democracy.”

The Africanists must be allowed to add: “But they must respect us and our rights, our right as the indigenous peoples, our right as the workers and peasants and rights as the majority to rule. These rights, as our Western friends have taught us to understand, constitute the essential elements of nationalism, socialism and democracy.”

The African people are determined to liberate themselves, and to establish and maintain an Africanist socialist democracy, which will recognize the primacy of the material and spiritual interests of the individual, and which will be, according to the Africanist manifesto, “original in conception, Africanist is orientation, socialist in content, democratic in form, and creative in purpose . a democracy in which man shall at long last find his true self and in which the human personality shall blossom to the full.”

By AP MDA – written in 1958