Apartheid altered, not shattered
Majority rule, be it Swapo or ANC, however ﬂ awed is always preferable to racist minority. But unfortunately, the fact is apartheid did not end, it was altered but not shattered and this unfortunately happened right in front of the eyes of our black leaders.
Today I want to write about the twin forces that our great leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Andimba Toivo went to prison ﬁghting against, and they are Imperialism and White supremacy. It is often said history is written by the victors, but forgive if I for one beg to differ. While I don’t dispute that people claiming to be historians have been educated in the sport of praising the power they serve, I don’t doubt the effect of dominant their ideas that have been forced on people.
Everyday people, not academics or mass media, have the ﬁnal say in this thing we call history. While the wealth of the powerful continue to ﬁll the school curriculum the world over, the combined actions of ordinary people whom actions of the powerful affect are all too often ignored indeed, functionally so.
This induced historical ignorance serve the twin purpose of reinforcing the image of the powerful, paralysing those who dare to dream a different world is possible. Thankfully, people’s history, that is history taught from the perspective of everyday people of the world, has emerged to combat the dusty list of monarchs and their invasions. It is through the work of these historians that we found a more accurate picture of how our challenges to power have forced the power to bend, if not in some cases crack totally. The anti-colonial struggle of the so called Third-World and success in ending direct colonial rule in the decades immediately after following World War II, is one such process.
It was arguably the most signiﬁcant change in world affairs in the 20th century. Countless individuals gave up their lives, energies and bodily safety to end what was in many cases centuries of dictatorial, imperial rule. Western imperial power was however not broken these forces and the naked colonialism of pre-1945 was replaced by what Kwame Nkrumah called neo-colonialism.
One of the strangest sadistic twists of this asymmetric relationship was the fact that many countries that sent troops to ﬁght in the liberation of their colonisers from Nazi aggression were reinvaded by their former “comrades” when they demanded the same freedoms. For example, Kenya by Britain and Vietnam by France.
Somehow the ‘cheerleader’ of the empire has somehow continued this genocidal reign in some kind of similar in mission in the public imagination. It is in this context of cosmic slave violence that we must place South Africa’s quest and eventual success in defeating formal white supremacy, alias apartheid. It is also against this geo-neo colonial trend that we can examine what is left to do globally and in South Africa in particular. For those of us who believe in justice, the news is not always good.
Now there is no way I can talk about the defeat of apartheid without talking about individuals such as Mandela. I’m never one to engage taken in a public criticism of Mandela as it happened recently at Unam campus with some political science students where I had to really bring out my innermost feelings about the great man and his legacy. I do not enjoy criticizing Mandela not because of his larger than life legacy or not because I believe he cannot be criticised but it is just that one must be careful what you say talking about someone’s ﬁght or struggle while viewing it from the comfortable seats in our homes and ofﬁces.
As a black contemporary thinker, when I took part in the discussion and uttered views so students felt were the slightest hard on Mandela, to me I was simply pointing out the most basic of facts and it was not my presupposition that me too or anyone I know or close to me is capable of such an mammoth personal sacriﬁce, it was just my way of recognition of the reality that is there and is based on facts.
Before I get into it, let me rather what I call my personal pointing out of basic facts that I normally just discuss with those close to me private. For someone like me, as far as the Mandela legacy is concerned, the freedom charter has not been fulﬁlled. Some of you might remember that note Mandela wrote in 1990 restating his commitment to the nationalisation of certain sectors in the South African economy, most notably mining and banking, throughout his time he was nowhere near close to delivering that point.
To get the foggiest idea about what I’m saying here, let us began by taking a closer look at what actually was agreed during the ‘apartheid handover’. Among the agreements made one of the most important was that the South African central bank would become virtually an independent entity, unaccountable to the elected government and was to be run by the same man it was run under apartheid, Chris Stals. In that case if we recall correctly the apartheid ﬁnance minister also kept his position.
We shall also recall that huge pensions were also made out to former apartheid civil personnel, all this without a single corporation being forced to pay reparations to the victims of murders and other abuses carried out under apartheid to beneﬁt them. On top of this the debts incurred by the previous apartheid regime had to be surfaced, serviced by the then newly elected ANC government to the tune of US$4.5 Billion per annum.
Even more so sickening, the nearly elected black government agreed to pay back loans taken from international creditors by a white supremacist regime. Not to mention the plight of capital ﬂight and economic weapons welded by the international community, the ANC had to pay the debts on behalf of their oppressors. In addition, post-apartheid South Africa had to repay these debts of the apartheid regime at signiﬁcantly higher rates than post-Nazi Germany were asked to pay after World War II; Reﬂecting the general trend of unequal treatment of poor countries by international creditors.
Then we continue to ask the question that why to this day, whites who are just 10% of the South African population continue to control the overwhelming majority of land in South Africa and almost all the wealth extracted from it. Apartheid criminals such killers and rapists killers were not imprisoned, as should have been the case as done in other countries, but were rather invited to confess their crimes and walked free during the process of Truth and Reconciliation as we witnessed.
No justice whatsoever, as you can imagine. Now we can fool ourselves into thinking that South African getting its ﬁrst black president was the end of apartheid but truth is it was rather the shifting from a system that was unapologetically oppressive and racist, to one that is now, like the rest of the globe, unapologetically economically unjust. Needlessly to say, the biological product to South Africa and the world’s history, is still racist, if not explicitly but implicitly.
The achievement of political freedom, the process of Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the programs of afﬁrmative actions and the many shattered forms of black empowerment have all not ended apartheid but rather moved from one system to another, albeit the latest more covert in its operations. We can take the example of what is known as the single largest public execution in South Africa since the incident of Sharpeville Massacre, the 2012 Marakana miners’ incident in which the South African Police force opened ﬁ re on striking miner killing 34 and wounding 78.
The incident just ampliﬁ ed the message that black life is expandable in pursuit of white wealth! Lest I get misconstrued and misquoted especially by the crooked critics in this country, I want to state that the ending of political apartheid in countries like Namibia and South Africa is to be celebrated. Majority rule, be it Swapo or ANC, however ﬂ awed is always preferable to racist minority.
Both Swapo and ANC have made some positive strides that we know their racist predecessors wouldn’t have made such as refusing Britain’s overtures to help it invade Zimbabwe. The fact that the ANC is the only government to send arms and ammunition to democratically elected Lavalas party in party whilst their democracy was being destroyed by Haitian elites and their United States backers is something beyond remarkable in my book.
But unfortunately, the fact is apartheid did not end, it was altered but not shattered right in front of the eyes of black leaders. The public opinion on triumphalism that was attained the end of political apartheid along with the continued oppression has obvious historical parallels. The attainment of political freedom and its lack of compensation, restitution during reconciliation and the apartheid handover for the Afrikaans who suffered during the racist regime is appalling.
It is equal to British slave owners who were compensated for their loss of ‘property’ to the tune on 20 million when slavery was abolished. Black South Africans were given non-economic emancipation i.e. no compensation and no tools with which to build the fabric of a new life, as a result the majority continue to toil for the former oppressors.
The leaders accepted these conditions with almost no resistance whatsoever because for as long they and their families have access to something, to hell with the majority. One damning example how is how Absa (the Amalgamated Banks of South Africa) which controls some 40 per cent of South Africa’s domestic banking business receiving undeclared donations in excess of pounds 250m by South African Reserve Bank with Chris Stals at its head.
Stals was a member of a secret organisation called the Broderbund, the Afrikaner organisation set up in 1918 to maintain and preserve the Afrikaner nation’s dominance in an overwhelmingly non-Afrikaner society, continued to beneﬁt from this and there was a huge scandal about it. All these, in the presence of black leaders. With that said, I wait to see how my President, after hailing President Mugabe’s approach to the land issue, is going to deal with our land issue.