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so who wrote the Freedom Cheater?

By Don Makatile | Dec 22, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

OUR history shows that we have been a politically naive people. We have trusted the wrong people. We have bought fake goods from fake salesmen.

OUR history shows that we have been a politically naive people. We have trusted the wrong people. We have bought fake goods from fake salesmen.

This is how the irrepressible Motsoko Pheko opens his account on a subject now in vogue - the South African Communist Party's influence on the ruling ANC, which has seen nationalists turn against socialist comrades.

The turf war began when the ANC's youth formation, through their president Julius Malema, mooted the idea of nationalising the country's mines - and warned that anybody with designs on the party's leadership come 2012 had better be singing from the same hymn book.

The SACP's man inside Luthuli House, Gwede Mantashe, rushed to counter that Malema's call was tantamount to the proverbial closing of the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Mantashe and his ilk argue that the new Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act takes care of the official policy concerning the exploitation of the country's minerals - by giving 26percent of mining rights to the state.

A whole acrimonious debate then ensued about who read - or misread - the Freedom Charter - with Malema accusing his protagonists of merely talking semantics.

Lately, the letters pages of this very newspaper have been teeming with views from commentators who feel the marriage of convenience between the ANC and SACP has outlasted its usefulness.

Some are calling for the Reds to prove their mettle by going it alone at the polls.

In chapter two of his new book, The Hidden Side of South African Politics, erstwhile head of the Pan Africanist Congress Pheko says "the SACP has also been the cause of divisions within the African National Congress".

Is it any wonder that the kingmakers in the ANCYL have vowed they will ensure the mother body isn't taken over by socialists?

ANC NEC member Billy Masetlha could easily have been speaking for many when he said in a Mail & Guardian interview that a number of senior ANC leaders have expressed disquiet about the push by Cosatu and the SACP for a socialist agenda within the ANC.

In the interview, for which he was hauled over the coals, Masetlha singled out SACP boss Blade Nzimande as the main architect behind the Left's socialist agenda within the party, saying he found it strange that Nzimande had abandoned the SACP to join the cabinet - and was now trying hard to influence the direction of the ANC.

A few weeks later he'd pay dearly for this indiscretion - booed and heckled when he turned up at the SACP conference in Polokwane.

Says Pheko in his book: "The SACP was formed in 1921 by neo-liberal whites calling themselves 'communists'. These liberals undermined the land question.

"They denied the colonial nature of the African liberation struggle in South Africa. They also arrogated to themselves the role of being the 'brains' of the African liberation struggle."

Those who have followed the latest internecine spat will recall how Malema blasted SACP's number two Jeremy Cronin as the "white Messiah"!

Pheko further writes: "In the 1950s the SACP infiltrated the ANC of 1912, which was founded by Langalibalele John 'Mafukuzela' Dube, the African kings - and others such as Pixley ka Seme and Solly Plaatje . This led to the abandonment of the basic aims of the ANC as founded in 1912.

"The main aim of the ANC at that time was the equitable redistribution of land and its riches, including mineral wealth. The Native Land Act of 1913 robbed the indigenous African majority of 93percent of their land and its riches."

Pheko tells of how prior to 1955 - the date of the adoption of the Freedom Charter - the ANC had four basic freedom documents, before the confusion about South Africa belonging to all those who lived in it, set in.

Inside the tripartite alliance, the Freedom Charter, which Pheko refers to as the Freedom "Cheater", has been read differently, particularly regarding its stance on nationalisation.

In their fight, Mantashe has appealed to those he says quoted selectively from the Freedom Charter, not to get emotional and thereby mislead people.

Pheko has no kind words for the extent to which the SACP "brains" have had an adverse influence on the ANC.

His take on how he says the Freedom Charter was adopted makes for fascinating reading: "The Kliptown Conference which sat on 26 June 1955 was equally a strange one from two points of departure. That is the composition of delegates and running of the proceedings.

"At the beginning of the conference a number of the ANC Youth League and the Africanist-inclined members wanted credentials to be created in order to check the delegates as to the organisations and societies they represented.

This demand was rejected. It is alleged by many who attended the conference that many of the so-called delegates were ordinary people picked from bus stops."

Could it be any wonder that 54 years later, the ANCYL wants to reassert itself over the spirit and letter of the Freedom Charter and that the SACP sees it differently? Granted, history, as they say, has a strange way of repeating itself. But could it be we've really been sold fakes?


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