South Africa is a vital strategic position for the western powers, both as a key sea route for shipping with the east, as a gateway for extraction of raw materials, and the expansion of goods and services into the rest of the African continent. South Africa upholds western values and has developed an economic infrastructure over years that is consonant with US and European standards. These vested interests are also protected by a minority white population that make up eight percent of the sixty million population figures. Whites are descendants of foreign invaders – mainly the Dutch and the British – who colonized land from indigenous Africans through an Act of Union of 1909 made by British parliament. It claimed 87% of the verdant land and made Africans ‘pariahs in the land of their forebears.’
They used divide and rule tactics to segregate the dispossessed along tribal lines and set up colonial chiefs who were compliant with the oppressive system. South Africa became the undeclared dominion of the British. They introduced the apartheid system, kept the Bantustans system inherited from the British, and had racism in the statute books. They unleashed a reign of terror against the African people. It was one of the worst forms of indignity, degradation, and suffering ever known to humanity.
Efforts to bring about change were made by a Black elite from 1912, going cap in hand to protest and represent the people’s objections to colonial rule. These representations resulted in further humiliations, with trusteeships of whites used to listen to these concerns. In other words, Black people were not seen or heard because they were invisible. Only their cheap labour was required in what inexplicably became a white man’s land. Militants in the African National Congress Youth League sponsored a congress resolution in 1949 called the Programme of Action. It stated that Africa is the Black man’s continent and South Africa was an indivisible part of the continent and Africans are one people. Any leader of the African people must come out of their own loins, and a powerful movement must be built to roll out and focus on the task of delivering national liberation.
Imperialism is the enemy of all oppressed people. Over the years the programme was subverted and undermined. It had been obliterated from the history records and made to appear non-existent. Articulate spokespersons, such as Robert Sobukwe, Zephania Mothopeng, John Nyathi Pokela and others had been repressed and denied the right to breathe by opposition forces who took a militant stand against their revolutionary Pan Africanism and its anti-imperialist mission. In 1955 a multiracial counter-revolutionary strategy was set up, with the ANC used to lead the Congress Alliance. The Congress Alliance believed that South Africa belonged to four nations, the Whites, Coloureds, Indians and Blacks. They dispelled the Black Republic thesis of the Communist International. This movement was fortified by anti-apartheid groups, whose intentions were to preserve white privilege and downplay the material, intellectual and spiritual needs of indigenous people. In 1994 this group negotiated the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) settlement and formed the multiracial elite ruling present day South Africa.
The new dispensation offers democratic participation in the affairs of the country, with the human rights and basic freedoms due in a constitutional democracy. However, the territorial rights of the African majority were not guaranteed. Constitutional democracy in South Africa is built on the legal foundations that deeply mirrored colonial laws. Since its inception, the African people have made peaceful resistance against this sham independence and its false promises of peace and harmony. Although Western powers waxed lyrical about achieving peace in South Africa the Codesa outcomes made in effect legitimised settler colonialism and deepened minority rule in the country.
Despite having black faces in the corridors of power, a legacy of colonialism is poverty, disease and poor education. This has been inflicted on the majority of African people. The settler minority still control the economy and with the backing of the British, German, French and the Scandinavian countries. The European Union sees itself in the leadership of a multiracial political elite in South Africa. It has captured the judiciary and the executive authority, and parliament has passed legislation lobbied and drafted by Canadian and Australian policymakers.
The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania is hardened by adversity. Being borne of the 1949 Programme of Action, the PAC has in principle steadily worked on achieving the objectives to free the Azanian masses from shackles of settler-colonialism and the exploitation of capitalism. Settler-colonialism is more complex to resolve, such as in the cases of Zimbabwe, Namibia and even Kenya, its core intent is to preserve white domination. The PAC strives for a borderless continent and a united African Nation, from Cape to Cairo and Morocco to Madagascar, with a single unitary government. In its pursuit of these liberation objectives, the PAC has expressed the aspirations of the Azanian masses and has articulated their fight to bring about true national liberation.
The Azanian Tendency, which includes the Black Consciousness Movement, has no option but to articulate the Second National Liberation Struggle. The purpose is to continue on the ideas of the founders of the PAC as constituted in 1959, the aim being a free and independent Azania – a Black man ’s country. Racism must be ended and exploitation of South Africa’s human and natural resources for the benefit of a foreign entities must be ended, and an Africanist Socialist Democracy established.
By Jaki Seroke, Pan Africanist Congress of Azania
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