Friday, December 6, 2013

What Mandela Did

Nelson Mandela passed on Thursday 12/5 and there is no doubt that he was a brave and courageous man who endured many hardships. For him to come through it with a forgiving and understanding heart is a testament to his (and our) humanity. What is written below is not meant to disparage Nelson Mandela. It is rather meant to show what he and many African leaders as well as other leaders around the world have to face and the choices they are urged to make. This also gives insight as to why men like Nelson Mandela are hailed and paraded around as heroes while men like Patrice Lumumba, Samory Toure and Muhammad Ahmad Al Mahdi are either rarely mentioned or forgotten. The media's job is to get us caught up in feelings and emotions, but below is the endgame.

Nelson Mandela had meetings between 1985-1990 with P. W. Botha to have a negotiated settlement. Revered late ANC President, Oliver Reginald Tambo, referring to the meetings with the colonial-apartheid regime in the crucial 1980s, said “Prisoners can’t negotiate their freedom”. According to aged ANC veterans, Tambo was disturbed about senior members of the leadership including [Mandela], who could have compromised the organisation. He seemed to question whom to trust. This, according to those veterans, eventually led to Tambo’s first stroke.

 In 1990 before he was released from prison Mandela assured his supporters that the nationalisation of mines, banks and minerals was on the table. That belief had formed the core doctrine of the ANC and was enshrined in a document known as The Freedom Charter. "The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people; the mineral wealth beneath the soil; the banks and monopoly industries shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole; all other industries and trade shall be controlled to assist the well-being of the people," the charter states.

It later emerged that Mandela and other ANC leaders were busily creatively re-interpreting the “Freedom Charter’s” commitment to nationalisation in order to comfort the monopoly white capitalists.

The nature of the sell out 

Mandela negotiated with the Nationalists [European Afrikaners] to oversee a settlement which guarantees the maintenance of a white capitalist South Africa and of the profits extracted from the exploited black masses, and leaves power firmly in the hands of the white capitalists for the foreseeable future. As De Klerk has insisted “I do not intend to negotiate myself out of power”. On the contrary, negotiations were intended to prevent the victory of the black masses.

Failed transfer of power during negotiations

 The negotiations focused on two aspects: one was political, the other economic. When Mandela, negotiated with the Nationalists, he accepted the separation of political and economic power. That was the big mistake and the betrayal to black people. The transfer of ownership of wealth and land is at the heart of a transfer of power. Hence it was clearly stipulated in the Freedom Charter. But Mandela had to ignore that.

 Failed economic negotiations and state ownership of the Reserve Bank 

Mandela's mandate from the people was to ensure that the values of the Freedom Charter were implemented including nationalisation of country’s assets. Instead of nationalising the mines Mandela was meeting regularly with Harry Oppenheimer, former chairman of the mining giants Anglo-American and De Beers, the economic symbols of apartheid rule. Shortly after the 1994 election, Mandela even submitted the ANC’s economic program to Oppenheimer for approval and made several key revisions to address his concerns, as well as those of other top industrialists. Mandela sold out the minerals and land to the imperialists.

The outcomes of those meetings were that Mandela could have the political power but the gold and diamonds would remain in the hands of the individuals that controlled it before. One of the most revealing aspects of the economic transition was the ownership of the Reserve Bank of South Africa. Arguably the most powerful institution in the country, its fate was explained by Durban businessman Vishnu Padaychee; asked to draft a document for the negotiating team on the on the pro’s and con’s of having an autonomous central bank, run with total autonomy from the elected government. Padayachee could not believe what he was hearing. He and his team drafted and submitted the document with a clear policy of not allowing the Reserve Bank to be autonomous. He was later told by the negotiating team that, “We had to give that one up”.

The bank is privately owned and today has some 650 shareholders. During the negotiations Mandela agreed that not only would the Reserve Bank be run as an autonomous entity within the South African state, with its independence enshrined in the SA constitution, but it would be headed by the same man who ran it under apartheid, Chris Stals. Another Apartheid era figure, finance minister Derek Keyes, also retained his position in the new administration. Padayachee lamented that with the loss of the Reserve Bank, “everything would be lost in terms of economic transformation”. One of the Freedom Charter pledges is the redistribution of land; this became highly constrained with a new clause in the constitution which protected all private property.

 Letter From a South African Youth 

"Reconciliation has meant nothing but black people `forgiving’ whites for 300+ years of dispossession, humiliation and suffering. I experience pain every time a white South African - at the shop; in a bar; on the Talk Radio 702 or online forums - says that “We need to forget the past, get over it.” It is like they are saying to us `forget your pain’. And that from someone who benefited at your expense! We have suffered racial abuse and our abusers are among us. You and Desmond Tutu’s rainbow myth glossed over
this pain - much to the relief of whites. Whites fail to acknowledge our pain and suffering - and their position as beneficiaries of our pain. But you were overly concerned with not rocking the boat as far as whites were concerned. That is why you are the subject of a personality cult in the white community moreso than the black community. Whites in this country believe that you are the only honourable black person while the rest of us blacks are corrupt, criminals, rapists, drunkards and uneducated buffoons. You sold us as black nation for a “Noble Peace Prize” and that is the reason for the service delivery demonstration and the lack of service delivery. Our Constitution hailed as the best in the world favours the Caucasians while it oppresses the Africans. Thanks for nothing Mandela. Before you leave this earth I would like you to take responsibility and apologise for your actions and what you did to black people. You sold our land to the imperialists, if you fail to apologise before you die it simply means you are an accomplice to them. "
 ~ Letter from a South African Youth

 Blacks remain landless, underfed, houseless, under- employed, badly represented in senior managerial positions. The state of healthcare and education for black people remains as it was, if not worse than, under apartheid. Vestiges of apartheid and colonial economic patterns, ownership and control remain intact despite the attainment of political freedom by Mandela. The unemployment crisis is also defined along racial lines due to the fact that in the third quarter of 2010, 29.80% of blacks were officially unemployed, compared with 5.10% of whites.

*When Nelson Mandela was released from prison in February 1990, President George Bush personally telephoned the black South African leader to tell him that all Americans were "rejoicing at your release". This was the same Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for almost 28 years because the CIA tipped off South African authorities as to where they could find him. The CIA and National Security Agency collaborated closely with the South African intelligence service, providing information about Mandela's African National Congress.