The significance of March 21, 1960, in the history of the liberation struggle is often played down to the level of raising worldwide sympathy for victims of apartheid and to commemorate the Sharpeville-Langa massacre. For the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) it represented and still represents the beginning of the end of settler colonialism through a roll-out of the Positive Action Campaigns, until final victory, in terms of which the African people were urged to take their destiny into their own hands.

Positive action was a phrase, akin to mass action, that would lead to a groundswell of defiant activities which forms an insurrection until the apartheid system was brought to its knees. The pass book was a badge of slavery for Africans to carry around their necks as a daily reminder that they were temporary in white South Africa. The powers that be panicked and shot peaceful demonstrators who demanded to be arrested without bail, without defense, and without fine.

The PAC achieved a small victory, because the struggle for liberation was never the same again since the heroic events of Sharpeville-Langa massacres. It had become international. In 1976 and in 1984, the people-powered struggle continued to gain popularity until the collapse of the political structures of apartheid and settler-colonial government.

It is now a challenge for the PAC to take the struggle to its logical conclusion resulting in the amelioration of the living conditions of the African people. The current internal contradictions in the PAC are not life and death struggles which require violent harm of limb and soul. Inner party struggles often take different forms if they are not principled and based on ideological or political theory disagreements. They have the tendency to become reactionary. At this stage the differences in the PAC revolve around democratic procedures and crooked ways by dark forces to take control of the PAC and betray its historical mission.

The Mphahlele doctrine of leadership is shallow and naive, bordering on a strange but maddened method to liquidate what makes the PAC tick. He has alienated the revolutionary forces inside the PAC and systematically stolen the PAC from its spiritual owners and its members. This in itself is reactionary. Anyone who holds a different opinion from that of his lackeys is expelled. He has placed goons ahead of reason, and he turned the PAC into a strange organization. And he is quite about all these self defeating stances.

In real terms, the purported leaders have no locus standi in the PAC. The 2008 Alice congress has been declared null and void by the court ruling of the Western Cape High Court on 23 April 2008, and again on 4 September 2009 when an appeal was dismissed. The PAC therefore has no leadership that is duly elected by a congress – the highest decision making body. The tsotsi element is at play trying to disrupt the democratic processes to restore discipline and build a united revolutionary force led by the PAC as decided upon at a convention held in Cape /town on 27-28 November2009.

The PAC is the African people. It must reclaim its role as a true vanguard of the Azanian masses. It has gone through a lot of battering but often raised itself from the ashes to spark fires of enthusiasm to its members and followers. This time around it will rise again and it will triumph!

By Jaki Seroke


  1. Well put, Izwe lethu! Africanists have had over years of colonial-imperialist hegemony to compromise ideologically. In the 1960s it was apologists of imperialism who excused Boer police brutality as being sparked by “panic”. The massacres were cold-blooded, premeditated, planned, ruthlessly executed. Same pattern in Langa. A similar situation where Boers “panicked” was in Cape Town on March 30, 1960. Real panic here. 70,000 PAC men in the city centre where White families live. Hence Police Chief Terreblanche fell on his knees, salaamed and asked God for a miracle. He defied orders from the Defence Minster to shoot us. White panic led to negotiations. White racism and Christian bigotry, not panic, sparked the massacre of kafirs. My point is that Afrikanists must avoid colonial apologetics like “panicked” to cold-blooded. I was in Langa that day of March 21 1960. Afrikanists must unite and develop a Forum (maybe we have it already). We need to refine language,facts of history. We must be ruthless in our criticism before we take positions. Thank you for the good work. Where can I get photos of PAC Mammoth March of March 30, 1960 to Cape Town?

  2. It is refreshing to know that there are are people who concern about the current status of our revolutionary movement.

    I would propose that we should urgently organise a national consultative conference of PAC members with a view of reclaiming back our movement.

  3. I noted that in “the Significance of the Positive Action Campaign and Way Forward” the PAC is mentioned as the only organisation that was banned. Mayihlome perhaps agrees with Kwame Nkrumah that only the PAC was banned and that the ANC was bundled together with the PAC. In fact, prior to the ban, white parliamentarians were calling for the banning of the PAC only, not the ANC because they believed the ANC was “more responsible than the PAC”. Some whites pointed out that by banning only the PAC might arouse suspicion against the ANC and endear the PAC to the masses. It was then agreed to ban both organisations. This explains the genesis of the 21 March 1960 anti-pass campaign. I am not impressed that the ANC had planned anti-pass campaign for 31 March 1960 because in February 1958 Potlako Leballo told Cotact magazine that he and his Africanist group will call for a strike a few days before the white election. He said “we Africanist leaders are not afraid of going to jail and do not worry about legalisms like many of the present Conpress (ANC) leaders – if we, the people will carry on with action”. The Africanists did not want to postpone the African people’s confrontation with the settler colonial regime thus prolonging oppression.

Comments are closed.