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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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By Ido Lekota | Mar 25, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THE ink on the ruling by magistrate Collen Collis in the Equality Court on Julius Malema's public utterances has probably not dried but the ANC Youth League leader is at it again.

THE ink on the ruling by magistrate Collen Collis in the Equality Court on Julius Malema's public utterances has probably not dried but the ANC Youth League leader is at it again.

Having found Malema guilty of hate speech for his utterances about a woman who had laid a rape charge against President Jacob Zuma, Collis warned: "Mr Malema, being a man of vast political influence, be wary of turning into a man that often speaks but never talks."

On Monday, Malema "spoke" and accused the Pan Africanist Congress of having "hijacked" the March 21 1960 Sharpeville anti-pass campaign, which led to the apartheid police killing 69 and injuring scores of protesters.

He went on to say that the memory of Sharpeville belongs to the ANC alone. Malema also urged his audience to learn the "correct" history which will show that the anti-pass campaign belonged to the ANC.

One historical fact is that the ANC did have an anti-pass campaign programme. In fact, as early as 1918, organisations aligned to the ANC - including the Bantu Women's League - were involved in protests against the hated dompas, which the apartheid regime used to control the lives of black people, especially in the urban areas.

In 1956, the women aligned to the ANC marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the carrying of the hated dompas.

And indeed in 1959 the ANC came up with a resolution to embark on a an anti-pass protest. The protest was to take place on March 31 1960. The PAC, whose leaders, including Robert Sobukwe, had broken away from the ANC in 1959, decided to take up the same campaign on March 21.

It is this train of events that leads Malema to claim that the PAC has "hijacked" the ANC's anti-pass campaign.

As far as Malema is concerned, the ANC had copyright to how the people of this country should protest against the evil pass laws that the apartheid regime had imposed on them.

The reality is that after the breakaway by the Africanists, there was competition between the ANC and the PAC to win the support of the people. This is the essence of multiparty politics.

The fact that the PAC could lead such a march in the Vaal Triangle and at Langa in Cape Town was due to the fact that the newly formed party had managed to develop support bases in those areas.

As a leader, Malema must acknowledge the fact that people came out in support of the PAC march because they saw that campaign as one way they could show their resistance to the evil and brutal apartheid system.

They lost their lives for standing up and saying "enough is enough and, led by the PAC leadership, we are standing up against the apartheid government to reclaim our human dignity".

To now claim that the memory of this gallant action by the oppressed masses belongs only to the ANC is symptomatic of a leader who has no sense of history.

In his book, The Democratic Moment, author Xolela Mangcu describes a leader with a sense of history as someone "with a cultivated sensibility about community experience".

On the other hand, a leader without a sense of history is one who wants to change the world as he wishes and not be alive to the experiences of his people.

By claiming this experience for the ANC, Malema is turning those who lost their lives in the Sharpeville massacre from being historical actors determining their future, into mere passive pawns who, as Mangcu argues, "can be claimed by whoever is now in charge".

Malema's claim of the Sharpeville memory solely for the ANC smacks of authoritarianism and tyranny. Some key features of authoritarianism are political intolerance and the shooting down of political opponents.

Tyrants, on the other hand, are custodians of their own interests and will do anything, including (in this case) undermining the collective memory of those they claim to represent.

Malema must heed the words of Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on March 21 in Sharpeville when he said: "Common ownership of history is the basis of nation-building and must never be undermined by any interest group based on the subjectivity of race, religion, creed or ideology."


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