“Prisoners are not free to negotiate with their jailers,” these were the words of the then second President and founding member of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania, Zeph Mothopeng, referring to ANC leader Nelson Mandela who has been holding secret negotiations with Apartheid leaders for many years.

Tomorrow the media will be abuzz with the 24th anniversary of the release of Mr. Mandela from Victor Verster prison. Many people are still not aware of the extent and magnitude of the damage the secret deals Mandela clinched with Apartheid authorities and imperialists caused to the hoi polloi.

Former Robben Islanders relate stories of Mandela being taken at night from Robben Island in the 1970’s and brought back in the early hours of the morning. Apparently when Apartheid authorities realized that the intermittent disappearance of Mandela from Robben Island raised eyebrows, they finally moved him to Pollsmor prison and finally to Victor Verster prison.

What engendered from these secret negotiations was a colossal fraud in the form of the outcomes of Codesa. Azapo boycotted Codesa but the PAC was exhorted by some leaders of the frontline states to join in the Codesa talks after Mr. Mothopeng had passed on. However, Mandela and De Klerk had already sealed the secret deal. The PAC was not going to change anything and it didn’t. Everything was cast in stone.

It is public knowledge that MI6 and CIA officers facilitated the secret negotiations between Mandela and FW De Klerk. As a representative of the minorities and assisted by the imperialists, De Klerk wrung far reaching concessions from Mandela.

The PAC founding President, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe said, “Real democracy can come only when Africans by themselves formulate policies and programmes and decide on the method of struggle without interference from the minorities who arrogantly appropriate to themselves the right to plan and think for the Africans”. These profound words of wisdom were ignored and we are now back to square one. We are witnessing the marginalized citizens of this country rejecting the elections as a vehicle that can be trusted to change their lives for the better. Some petrol-bombed the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) voting stations and burned IEC papers while others prevented other citizens from registering to vote. They have lost faith in the voting system and electoral process in just 20 years, something that took Canadians more than a century and the Americans two centuries to realise that elections were a charade. They have realized that the IEC is an extension and a poodle of the ANC.

In the mid-1980’s when I lived in Canada, the Canadians had been voting for about 125 years, their neighbours in the US for 200 years and whites in this country had been voting for about 70 years but this voting never brought about change in the lives of the wretched of these countries. Voter apathy in Canada and the US is prevalent because politically conscious people in those countries have realized that voting does not bring about change. It is a farce, a gimmick.

When street protests are becoming ubiquitous, the ANC government is now craning its neck to look for the causes of these protests from unlikely sources – the third force. There is no need for ANC leaders to crane their necks to look for the causes of the protests elsewhere. The genesis of the causes of the protests is the secret deals Mandela and the ANC clinched with Apartheid leaders and imperialists coupled with the policy position adopted from the inception of the ANC government in 1994.

Zeph Mothopeng advised that this country’s constitution must be drafted by a constituent assembly. Mandela and the ANC rejected Mothopeng’s advice because they knew that they had already cut a deal with the devil. Mothopeng was right. As a country founded anew, South Africa should have had its constitution drafted by a constituent assembly and ratified through a referendum.

The racist Nationalist Party government held a referendum for white people when they were only 12 years in power in 1960 because they respect their constituencies. The whites-only government also held a referendum in the early 1990’s but the ANC government has not held a referendum in the 20 years that it has been in power because the ANC leadership doesn’t respect the African people.

The PAC and Azapo should spearhead an initiative that should call for the redrafting of the new constitution that is based on the wishes of the African people and not on the whims of the African elite, minorities and imperialists. This country needs a constitution that is not going to allow political parties to be controlled by donors like we have recently witnessed with the leader of Agang SA, Dr Mampela Ramphele, and the DA’s Helen Zille with donors forcing the two to merge their political parties. The ANC is also beholden to donors. This country’s constitution should give the central and primary role to the citizens of this country where political party funding is going to be regulated and parties required to disclose their funders. The constitution should also have a provision to limit spending by political parties.

Azapo was courageous to boycott the Mandela-De Klerk farcical negotiations and Azapo should follow through on its initial courageous stance of non-collaboration with the oppressors and their fellow travellers cheek by jowl with the PAC.

By Sam Ditshego
The writer is a Senior Researcher at the Pan Africanist Research Institute (PARI).