The obnoxious nature of the racist oppression endured by the Black people of South Africa at the hands of the White rulers, under the hated system of apartheid, united almost the entire human race against the racist regime. So, a time came when the National Party, under President F W De Klerk, decided that the future of the White population lay in reaching an accommodation with the Blacks. And De Klerk made his famous “Rubicon” speech, in which he announced that Nelson Mandela was to be released from prison after 27 years,.
And when Nelson Mandela, on his release, stated that he harboured no bitterness against the Whites, things began to move rapidly, and within four years, Mandela had been sworn in as South Africa’s first-ever Black President — the first-ever South African President to be elected under universal adult suffrage. Mr Mandela then formed a government, which reflected the “rainbow” nature of his nation; a nation in which the colour of the skin of a person no longer mattered.
But this was naive, for the White-supremacist National Party had used the power it had wielded over South Africa for 46 years to cement one section of the population, the White section (and, in particular, the “Afrikaner” element of the White population) into economic power and social privilege.
So, when Mandela’s Ministers went into their offices in 1994, they found that all the key people in the Ministries – the Principal Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries, the Personnel Officers and the Treasury officials – were all either Whites or Blacks put in their positions by the Whites to serve White interests. Thus, in terms of the expectations of the Black population, the accession of Blacks to “power” was a charade from the word go.
The White design to cling on to power – especially economic power – was enhanced by the fact that many of the ANC officials who took over political power were often returning exiles who had been forcibly alienated from South African society for many decades. Whilst eking out a living in other African countries, many had lost touch with home.
Some had felt genuinely despised by their hosts, who mistook them for people who had opted to take the “easy way” out by fleeing into exile, instead of “staying in South Africa to fight the White oppressors.”
Even the dedicated freedom fighters who had led disciplined lives in exile and who had often thought about programmes of action that they would implement if they ever got into power, found the going difficult once they went back home and found themselves at the top.
Their euphoria was used by the White-owned media to malign them and drive a wedge between them and their brothers and sisters who fought apartheid from within.
The ANC may have mounted campaigns to reconcile its disparate elements and to prepare them to play a role that superseded what the White power structure had envisaged for them. But if it did so, the results can barely be seen. The Whites did have a game plan, whereas the ANC did not. So, gradually, the ANC has become alienated from the Black populace. Many Blacks can’t help but wonder why, under an ANC Government, many Black townships and rural settlements are still denied amenities which the White population took for granted, namely, electricity, water, better schools and social centres, and cheaper transportation.
Those ANC Ministers who understood the feelings of the Black populace and tried to do something about the situation found themselves constantly wrestling with the White bureaucrats they were obliged to work with. The efforts of the bureaucrats were reinforced by international finance capital, which, under the leadership of the IMF, preached “financial prudence” to South Africa.
This was a code word for a dogma that ran as follows: “Don’t rock the boat! Don’t seek to expand the provision of social services in the townships and rural areas at too fast a pace, or you will incur a budget deficit.
And when you do, we won’t lend you any money, and you will end up like some of your African neighbours to the North, who can barely exist without aid from the international community.”
This has been a powerful message behind the scenes in South African politics since 1994, although the ANC has done little to counter it. However, the effects of the disconnect can be seen on such developments as the emergence of the Economic Freedom Fighters, led by the former ANC Youth leader, Julius Malema.
Malema should, normally, not be able to dent the ANC’s image. But the inability of the ANC to inspire enough confidence in the Black people that it will end unemployment and provide basic amenities to the Black populace, has diverted their hopes towards the EFF.
There is no doubt that it is the internal wrangles within the ANC that have given the impression that the organisation has no time – or, perhaps, inclination — to mount an educational programme to inform Black South Africans of the contribution made to their victory against White oppression by other African countries.
Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, spared no effort to help liberate South Africa from White oppression. When 69 people were shot dead by the apartheid police in March 1960, and the White rulers followed that murderous act with a nation-wide hunt for ANC and the PAC members, Dr Kwame Nkrumah sent an aircraft to Botswana (then Bechuanaland) to ferry to Ghana, any South African freedom fighters who managed to reach Botswana.. From then on, South Africa was at the top of the list of the concerns of Nkrumah’s “Bureau of African Affairs”.
Even when Nkrumah was overthrown, interest in South Africa did not cease to exist in Ghana. Hostels were provided to South African freedom fighters, and many in the media tried to to keep the people of Ghana accurately informed about what was going on in South Africa.
Nigeria too did its part for South Africa. I happened to be in Nigeria on a day that Nigeria was inaugurating its Committee Against Apartheid. The ceremony was chaired by Mr Sam Ikoku, the former Secretary of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group party, who had lived in exile in Ghana for some time. A single individual, Chief M K O Abiola, contributed 1 million Naira to the Committee’s work. And an order went out to Nigerian institutions to solicit financial contributions to the anti—apartheid cause.
Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi provided homes – and jobs – to thousands of South African refugees. At the United Nations, the African group repeatedly brought up the subject of apartheid as “a threat to world peace”. The UN was forced – against the wishes of the Western countries – to establish a permanent Committee Against Anti-Apartheid.
The White rulers of South Africa did not take these efforts lying down. They bombed localities in Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Zambia known to harbour South African refugees.
When Mozambique and Angola became independent and began to help the ANC to mount military attacks against South Africa, the South Africans retaliated by mounting “punitive expeditions” into the two countries, and arming and financing two terrorist organisations against them – RENAMO in Mozambique and UNITA in Angola.
It is believed that the apartheid regime engineered the air crash in which Mozambique’s first President, the heroic guerrilla leader, Samora Machel, was killed.
These sacrifices have not been adequately talked about — on radio and TV programmes and in the print media – to the Black people of South Africa by the ANC leadership. Hence the periodic outbreak (e.g. 2006, 2008 and 2015) of “xenophobic”’ attacks against Black Africans living in South Africa.
In fact, the new word applied to the current violence — which is reported to have claimed the lives of at least FIVE Ghanaians and many more of other African nationals — is “Afrophobia” (because xenophobia is a hatred against foreigners in general, whereas, in this case – irony of ironies – it is only Africans who have been singled out for hate attacks.)
The ANC has lost time in bringing the situation under control. Already, feeling in other African countries is reaching a fever pitch against South Africa.
If the situation is not rectified with a gigantic diplomatic effort, the mother of all ironies would occur when the South African Government, under the ANC, is made to face the same boycott of its companies in Africa (such as MTN and Shoprite) as was once applied to the companies that operated under the apartheid regime.