“South Africa Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Mandela’s Release from Robben Island Prison”

February 11, 2010 marked the twentieth anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release From Robben Island prison in Occupied Azania (South Africa). Nelson Mandela spent 27 years as a political prisoner in Robben Island for his participation in the anti-apartheid movement. He was only released when the neocolonial aspirations of the African National Congress (ANC), whose armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe Mandela helped to organize, became useful to white power.

Due to an international imperialist media campaign, many recognize Mandela’s ANC as the legitimate leadership of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and its vanguard towards development in South Africa today.

However, the most recent history of the ANC has stood for neocolonialism, particularly since the adoption of the so-called Freedom Charter in the 1950s. It proclaimed Africa to be the “birthright of blacks and whites alike.”

The ANC maintained this position while genuine pro-independence, anti-colonial organizations such as the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) under the leadership of giant Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, and organizations such as the Azanian People's Organization (AZAPO) demanded that African land be controlled by African people and that the foreign white invaders be permanently removed from our midst.

Mandela and the ANC’s liberal “white and black unite” stance clearly indicated its neocolonialist leaning. However, their demand for “equal” rights and co-existence between Africans and white people in Azania posed a serious threat to the Jim Crow-like social order of apartheid that benefited the white ruling class and general white population then. People who just wanted to live in dignitiy were often lynched and murdered just for taking an anti-apartheid stand.

Through apartheid, white people as a whole prospered through repression and exploitation of the African masses in Azania, the way they did in the Jim Crow South of the U.S.

Based on this relationship, white power stood adamantly opposed to any form of struggle for progress for any sector of the African population – which included Mandela.

By the 1980’s young Africans in particular were seeking more and more radical and militant means of achieving their aspirations for bread, peace and black power – even to the point of waging armed guerrilla struggle against the South African settler colonial State.

The imperialists have tried to claim Mandela’s release as some sort of evidence of South Africa’s commitment to a new “post racial” South Africa where all people have a chance at prosperity. However, we African Internationalists have always understood Mandela’s release and since then selection to presidency as a neocolonial strategy on the part of imperialism to maintain the status quo of South African society.

That is to say, through the implementation of white power in black face, in the form of Mandela and the ANC, the white ruling class is able to practice the same exploitative and oppressive policies it always has.  

Upon Mandela’s selection to office by the imperialists, during his inaugural speech, the first thing he instructed the people to do was to throw the guns they used in the anti-colonial resistance “into the sea.”  Mandela then proceeded to carry out a program of neocolonialism.

Under Mandela’s regime the average African worker made and continues to make less than $2 a day, lives in shacks and filthy, unsanitary buildings and experiences terror by the brutal armed police on our own land. At the same time, the majority of the wealth and useable land is still controlled by the same white people who occupied it during apartheid!

The Legacy of Nelson Mandela

The gloss has come off Nelson Mandela and it is critical to clothe him with these dismal statistics, which have grown worse since they were used last year. Now, South Africa has taken the crown of greatest wealth and inequality gap in the world from Brazil, which also has a majority African population.

It is pure hypocrisy to celebrate Mandela and moan at the poverty of the people: they are one and the same.  

Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma are the legacy of Mandela. They have the same pro-imperialist programs and the same servile vision in support of white settlers and imperialist corporations. The hosting of the World Cup will bring billions of dollars to white capitalists, and more police to contain African workers and further displacement of African workers off the land.

A July 2009 article on UhuruNews.com reported, (http://uhurunews.com/story?resource_name=south-africa-explodes):

“Since the ANC came into power beginning with Nelson Mandela there has been an ever-growing gap between the impoverished African majority, who have become 19 percent poorer, and the white settler minority that has grown 14 percent richer.

“White settlers continue to control 87 percent of our land while African workers are forced to live in the squalid shantytowns.

“The Committee of Inquiry into a Comprehensive Social Security System for South Africa found that about 55 percent of all South Africans live in poverty. The committee calculated that 60.8 percent of all persons in South Africa are living on less than 250 Rand (about 32 U.S. dollars) each per month, based on 1996 census data.

In 2002, the committee estimated that 11 million children between birth and 18 years are living in dire poverty in South Africa on less than 200 Rand per capita per month (about 25 U.S. dollars). The children are therefore living on less than half the minimal 400 Rand per capita per month required to meet their basic needs. A majority of children under nine years of age are facing near starvation.

According to the Human Sciences Research Council report from July 2004, ‘Limpopo and the Eastern Cape had the highest proportion of poor with 77 percent and 72 percent of their populations living below the poverty income line, respectively.

“The unemployment rate for black South Africans is 41.2 percent, among the worst in all of Africa. White South Africans have an unemployment rate of 5.1 percent, among the best in the developed world. Seventeen percent of South Africans of Indian descent are out of work, while 19.8 percent of the mixed-race or "colored" population is unemployed… Even more significant, in terms of hope for the future, 51.4 percent of youths aged 16 to 24 are unemployed. That means that once young people graduate or drop out of school, more than half of them are unable to find work. Many of these young people turn to black-market activities, such as the drug trade or prostitution, or support themselves through robbery and violent crime… The average black worker makes 12,000 rand per year ($1,525 U.S.). A white worker averages 65,400 rand ($8,270 U.S.).

“About 71 percent of white South Africans have at least a high school education. Only 22 percent of blacks have finished high school…Only 18 percent of black households have running water, while 87 percent of white households do. Ninety-five percent of white families have a telephone and 46 percent own a computer. For black families, 31 percent have a phone, and less than 2 percent have a computer.

“(Kallie Szczepanski, www.helium.com/items/1002622-poverty-and-inequality-in-south-africa.)”

These conditions continue to decline for the masses while the African petty bourgeoisie sell-outs have been immensely enriched.

ANC leader Thabo Mbeki, Mandela’s successor as president, continued Mandela’s attack on the African working class. Mbeki’s BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) was known by the masses as the Black Enrichment Elite because of its self-serving financial benefits to the African petty bourgeoisie at the expense of the workers.

This is what the ANC has achieved because the ANC went into power to rescue white rulers and their capitalist economy in the first place. The ANC represent the African petty bourgeoisie and what is called corruption is in reality a betrayal. BEE is designed to be a reward to this class as reward for their loyal services to imperialism.

The masses have not and will never sit by idly!

Although we have a proud and rich history of working with the PAC and its youth organization PAYCO, we would hope that they too would point out the neocolonial contradiction with the ANC.

Although we will struggle in the electoral arena, we understand that winning elections is not the ultimate answer. Nor is being better than the ANC in managing the capitalist economy of South Africa, but organizing the African workers for power, ending imperialism as a capitalist world system and unification of Africa under workers leadership.

South Africa is part and parcel of the International African Revolution. We are one African people, one nation although dispersed and separated by colonial borders, with the same destiny everywhere. Such a revolution can only be led by a single organization with a single leadership, single discipline and single philosophy which will transform Azania into a conscious Azanian front of the emerging single African revolution around the world. 

The response to these harsh colonial conditions by the masses has been resistance. During the last week of July 2009, African workers exploded in open rebellion in several cities of Occupied Azania. There promises to be more such resistance until the genuine interests of the African working class are fulfilled. Such a struggle can only be won under the leadership of a revolutionary organization that serves the selfish interests of the African working class and poor peasantry.

While the imperialists release people like Mandela from prison to lead our people away from revolution, genuine African revolutionary forces, political prisoners and prisoners of war such as Sundiata Acoli and Mumia Abu Jamal in the U.S., or the countless political prisoners from the PAC, continue to rot in prison. 

Call for the unity of workers from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and throughout Southern Africa to build the African Socialist International (ASI) for the Southern Africa region, which unite all workers and peasants in the region against ANC-led Southern African petty bourgeoisie.

We want land to peasants in Azania, Zimbabwe and throughout the region, and power in hands of workers in Zimbabwe, Azania, Mozambique, Namibia and throughout the region.

The African Socialist International is the revolutionary organization whose aim is uniting all African resistance under the leadership of the African working class aligned with the poor peasantry. The ASI, serving as the advanced detachment of the African working class, is the only organization in existence capable of leading the International African Revolution to its final conclusion – the seizure of power and the building of a united socialist Africa.

Join the African Socialist International!

No Compromise! No Surrender!


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