Document Sample

                Article Written by Mzala on the Occasion
          of the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Freedom Charter

Criticism of the Freedom Charter has lately been coming from a
Committee calling itself the 'National Forum' and launched by certain
individuals in South Africa as an organisational opposition to the United
Democratic Front (UDF). At its founding conference, the National
Forum adopted a number of resolutions as well as a 'Manifesto of the
Azanian People,' which is meant to be an alternative document to the
Freedom Charter. As reported by the Rand Daily Mail of the 13th June,

      ... A separate bid for unity has been started by the National
      Forum Committee, made up largely of Black
      Consciousness groups ... The National Forum, according
      to Mr Mkhabela of Azapo, is not an organisation but only a
      committee intended to facilitate joint discussions among
      black groups.

At the end of this National Forum Conference (there have been others
ever since to ratify the 'Manifesto') the conference adopted the
"Manifesto of the Azanian People" (which we shall hereafter refer to as
the Azanian Manifesto), identifying 'racial capitalism' as the real enemy
of the oppressed people of South Africa, and pledging to work~for the
establishment of an 'anti-racist, socialist Republic.' Readers of the
South African press will remember how even the Pace magazine issue
of September, 1983 (a magazine that does very well in promoting
showbiz but which dismally fails to give one a good political portrait of
South Africa) commented about the 'historic' significance of the
adoption of this Azanian Manifesto

'The oppressed people now have two documents setting out what the
struggle is all about; the Charter on the one hand, and the Manifesto
which follows the- Black Consciousness line, on the other.'

One cannot help marvelling at the inability of this magazine to
comprehend the significance of the Freedom Charter in the history of

South Africa. After 30 years of the adoption of our Freedom Charter, it
is timely to examine its relevance in South Africa, and equally to
examine some aspects of its latest critics and to evaluate the worth of
their 'alternative' Azanian Manifesto.

Congress of the People

If the Pace magazine (which announced the adoption of this 'Manifesto'
with an air of historical importance) imagines that the Congress of the
People that adopted the Freedom Charter in 1955 was something
similar to the National Forum Conference that was held in
Hammanskraal from Saturday the 11th to Sunday the 12th June 1983,
then it needs to research the historical facts thoroughly, and correct its
distorted vision of history.

What were the circumstances, conditions, preparations and level of
mass participation in the adoption of the Freedom Charter as different
from the adoption of the Azanian Manifesto?

During the 1953 Queenstown Conference of the African National
Congress the National Executive Committee was instructed to make
immediate preparations for the organisation of a mass assembly of
delegates elected by people of all races in every town, village' farm,
factory, mine and kraal — to be known as the Congress of the People,
whose tasks should be to work out a Freedom Charter for all the
people and groups of the country.

According to a document entitled, Congress of the People that was
annexed to the report of the National Executive Committee at the
Tongati Conference of March 21st 1954 (where Chief Luthuli was
banned and banished):

      'The South African people's movement can be proud of its
      record of unbroken struggle for rights and liberty, but never
      before have the mass of South African citizens been
      summoned together to proclaim their desire and
      aspirations in a single declaration — a Charter of
      Freedom. The drawing up and adopting of such a charter
      of freedom is the purpose for which the Congress of the

      People has been called. Never in South African history
      have the ordinary people of this country been enabled to
      take part in deciding their own fate and future. Elections
      have been restricted to a small minority of the population;
      franchise rights, particularly in recent times, have been
      threatened and curtailed. There is a need to hear the voice
      of the ordinary citizen of this land, proclaiming to the world
      his demands for freedom.'

Indeed, the Congress of the People finally became the biggest single
gathering of representatives of the people's grievances ever known in
South Africa. How was this Congress of the People organised?

The Country Made Aware

Firstly, the whole country was made aware of the coming Congress of
the People, and various organisers were given the task to imbue the
masses of the oppressed people with the feeling of the tremendous
importance of such a gathering. A zealous campaign of printed
propaganda was launched, side by side with hundreds of meetings and
house-to-house canvasses, as well as group discussions. The main
purpose of this activity was to get the people to speak for themselves,
and to state what changes must be made in South Africa if they are to
enjoy freedom. Let us speak together of Freedom', said one popular
leaflet 'and of the happiness that can come to men and women if they
live in a land that is free. Let us speak together of Freedom. And of
how to get it for ourselves, and for our children. Let the voice of all the
people be heard. And let the demands of all the people for the things
that will make us free be recorded. Let the demands be gathered
together in a great Charter of Freedom.'

The leaflet called on all who loved liberty to pledge their lives to win the
freedom that would be set out in the Freedom Charter

Every demand made by the people at these gatherings, however small
the matter, was recorded and collected for consideration by the
Congress of the People for inclusion in the Freedom Charter. In this
way, the Freedom Charter became, not only in principle but also in
actuality, the charter of the people, the content of which has its source

in their homes, in the factories, mines and rural reserves. The task of
the organisers of the Congress of the People (who were called
Freedom Volunteers) was not to write the demands on behalf of the
people, as the Azanian Manifesto was manufactured in Hammanskraal,
but to collect them and to enlighten the people on the radical changes
that such a campaign could make in the South African situation. By
sneering at the Freedom Charter and calling it an ANC or even a
Kliptown, document, some people forget that the Charter was in fact,
produced not by the ANC but by the people of South Africa. The ANC
only adopted this Charter as its policy document as advised in a
Presidential address by Professor Z K Matthews, then acting on behalf
of Chief Luthuli, who was banned and confined to the Lower Tugela
district: 'I shall therefore not say anything about it (the Freedom
Charter) at this stage except to remind you that the Freedom Charter
was drawn up not by the African National Congress but by the
Congress of the People, and it is therefore necessary for you to ratify
the Freedom Charter and to make it part, if you so desire, of the policy
of the African National Congress.'

Delegates to the Congress of the People subsequently came from all
the four comers of our country. They came on foot, in buses, in trains
— yes the whole trip to Kliptown near Johannesburg took place in an
atmosphere a great political demonstration. Freedom processions
greeted delegates in every town they passed through. As the call of the
National Action Council had said:

      'Where possible, Freedom Trains should be arranged to
      carry delegates but where funds are not available for this,
      delegates should band together on a Freedom March,
      even though it may take some days for them to reach the

Our people gathered together in Kliptown to speak of freedom. Of the
total of 2 884 delegates, 721 were women. There were 2 186 African
delegates 320 Indian delegates, 230 Coloured delegates, as well as
112 Whites. Hundreds of delegates were prevented from coming by the
action of the police 'There were several wonderful things about the
Congress of the People, said Professor Z K Matthews, 'the first is the

fact that it was held at all. Here for the first time was a Congress which
brought together people drawn from all sections of the population to
consider and give expression to their vision of the South Africa of the
future. The sponsoring organisations issue a challenge to any other
group of organisations including the Nationalist Party to convene a
similar conference and whether they could evoke an equal or better
response from the people of South Africa.'

It was not the National Forum Conference, but instead the founding of
the United Democratic Front, that evoked in the decade of the Eighties
a response from the people of South Africa that was equal to the
Congress of the People in 1955. As Ukusa reported (Vol. 2, No. 40,

      'The meeting on August 20th to launch the United
      Democratic Front (UDF) is being described as a day of
      unity. Over I5 000 people from all over the country and all
      races came together under the banner of the UDF in
      Rockford, Cape Town, to reject the Government's new
      apartheid policies. A national executive of the UDF was
      elected from amongst 2 000 delegates representing
      community, worker, student, religious, sporting and
      political organisations. The delegates represented
      hundreds of organisations from Natal, Transvaal, Eastern
      Cape, Western Cape, Orange Free State and the Border

      Was it not Karl Marx who wrote in The Eighteenth
      Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte that all facts and personages
      of great importance in world history occur, as it were,
      twice? Indeed, even in South Africa, the dead of the
      Congress of the People rose up again — as Marx correctly
      had remarked in the same work:
      'the tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a
      nightmare on the brain of the living. And just when they
      seem engaged in revolutionising themselves and things, in
      creating something that has never yet existed, precisely in
      such periods of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure

      up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from
      them names, battle cries and costumes in order to present
      the new scene of world history in this time-honoured
      disguise and this borrowed language.'

Thus Dr Allan Boesak donned the mask of Professor Z K Matthews, for
although the former could freely express himself on the recent
conditions that prevail in our country and the necessity for change, his
language was always translated back into the gathering in Kliptown, for
in great historical events the new perform the tasks of the time in the
costumes and traditions of all dead generations.

On the other hand, no sooner had the National Forum Conference
been announced to the press, than it was rejected by four
organisations that had been tricked into participation in it. This rejection
of the National Forum came about immediately the participants started
criticising the Freedom Charter and calling it all manner of derogatory
names, even suggesting to the delegates that it was an antique piece
ready to be deposited in a museum.The article in Pace magazine spelt
this out clearly (pp.24-25):

      '... Since 1958 (sic) the Freedom Charter has generally
      been regarded in black politics as the 'Constitution of the
      People' although there has always been a measure of
      dissent ... but this changed dramatically when in the
      fashion of the Congress of the People, the National Forum
      Committee called all the oppressed people to a meeting in
      Hammanskraal ... There have been documents before, but
      none ever caused as much of a storm and threatened to
      widen the gap between two political schools of thought
      among blacks as the Manifesto is doing ... Even the rift
      between the student organisation Azasm on the one hand
      and Azaso and Cosas on the other, seemed to widen
      further as they were forced to take sides. Cosas and
      Azaso declared their commitment to the Charter while
      Azasm stood for the Manifesto. In fact, organisations which
      support the Manifesto do not even regard the Charter as

      an alternative. As far as they are concerned, it is already in
      the archives and not worth a debate.'

This criticism of the Freedom Charter at this Conference (as already
pointed out) led to the South African Allied Workers' Union (Saawu),
the General and Allied Workers' Union (Gawu), the Congress of South
African Students (Cosas) and the Azanian Students' Organisation
(Azaso) dissociating themselves from the National Forum and issuing
to the press the following statement, which was printed in The Sowetan
of the 24th June, 1983:

      'We reiterate our uncompromising commitment to the
      historic Freedom Charter as the only democratic document
      drafted in the history of the liberation struggle. The Charter
      stands out from all other alternatives for change in South
      Africa, not only because of the manner in which it came
      into being, but also because of the demands reflected in it.
      It can therefore, never be substituted without the will of the
      majority. Any attempt by an individual or group to discredit
      or undermine it can only be seen as an act of betrayal of
      the aspirations of all the people of South Africa.

It is noteworthy that the National Executive Committee of the African
National Congress saw the need to address the people of South Africa
and to warn against this anti-Freedom Charter trend, which poses as a
super-revolutionary and 'socialist' phenomenon. In the June 26th
statement of the same year, the NEC said:

'We further call on the struggling people of our country to be vigilant in
the face of the determined efforts of those who, while posing as
socialists, champions of the working class and defenders of Black
pride, seek to divide the people and divert them from the pursuit of the
goals enshrined in the Freedom Charter. Through their activities, these
elements show hatred for the Charter and for mass united action, no
less virulent than that displayed by the Pretoria regime.'

The organisers of the National Forum Conference will most probably
tell us that they were organising a forum for discussion and to create
unity of the oppressed people against the Botha Constitution and the

Koornhof Genocide Bills. There is not the slightest doubt that any
attempt at unifying the oppressed people for a determined struggle
against the fraudulent constitution and death bills is a good thing. No
one is arguing against the fact that the building of unity is and remains
the paramount task for all politically conscious South Africans
irrespective of their ideological persuasion. But the banner of 'Unity'
must not be a false signboard; the cry for unity must not be made to
conceal disuniting activities and intentions, which, it is hoped, the
masses of our people will not be able to see.

At the height of the efforts to form a united front of lovers of freedom
and democracy to oppose the Botha constitutional fraud, when the
masses of our people were rallying around the Freedom Charter, when
everyone was moved by the desire to preserve people's unity against
oppression and to demonstrate the political strength and the moral
prestige of our freedom struggle in the formation of the United
Democratic Front — at this very time, the National Forum Committee
suddenly, without the slightest apparent need, called for a conference
to adopt some 'Manifesto of the Azanian People.' Can such an effort be
called unity?

As for the critics of the Freedom Charter, for them to flout the decisions
of a truly representative historic Congress of the People, which drew up
the Freedom Charter, and equally to disregard the overwhelming
democratic opinion of the mass movement at present taking shape in
South Africa, for them to dissociate themselves from those solemn
demands for people's democracy, is to advocate, at best, opportunism
and, at worst, functionalism.

The Freedom Charter, e' Uniting Force

The Freedom Charter is a statement of aims, it is a definition of the
goals of our liberation movement, it is the sum total of our national
democratic aspirations and the new democratic life that we need. On
the basis of the Freedom Charter are founded the corner-stones of our
principles of freedom and democracy. The Freedom Charter attempts,
as Chief Albert Luthuli said in his biography, Let My People Go:

'To give flesh and blood meaning in the South African setting, to such
words as democracy, freedom, liberty. If the Charter is examined it will
be seen that freedom means the opening up of the opportunity to all
South Africans to live full and abundant lives in terms of country,
community and individual.'

The defeat of the racist regime of South Africa depends on every
fighter for freedom grasping fully the meaning, significance and
purpose of the Freedom Charter. The Charter is no patchwork
collection of utopian demands, it is no jumble of reforms clothed in
socialist rhetoric, but a uniting force of all the people struggling for
democracy and for their national rights; it is therefore a mirror of a
South Africa yet to be won. Its ten clauses expose our national
oppression by a racist autocracy and our national exploitation by
foreign imperialist interests. Since its adoption in 1955, the Freedom
Charter has crystallised the ideological trend of the progressive
movements in South Africa.

It is a revolutionary document indeed because its implementation is
impossible without the complete dismantling of the whole State of white
supremacy and the political and economic foundation on which it is
founded. Approached in a proper spirit, the Freedom Charter is indeed
a uniting creed for those who want liberation in South Africa. It is with
this reason in mind that Nelson Mandela wrote in an article, Freedom in
Our Lifetime in Liberation of June 1956:

      'Few people will deny, therefore, that the adoption of the
      Charter is an event of major political significance in the life
      of this country ... Never before has any document or
      conference been so widely acclaimed and discussed by
      the democratic movement in South Africa. Never before
      has any document or conference constituted such a
      serious and formidable challenge to the racial and anti-
      popular policies of the country. For the first time in the
      history of our country the democratic forces, irrespective of
      race, ideological conviction, party affiliation or religious
      belief have renounced and discarded racialism in all its

      ramifications, clearly defined their aims and objects and
      united in a common programme of action.'

Yet for the advocates of the Azanian Manifesto this political stand of
the Freedom Charter is not revolutionary enough, for they, as the
masters of the theory of socialism, want to bring about a socialist
workers' republic in 'Azania'! Says the general secretary of Azapo in the
October issue of Drum magazine:

      'The problem with the Charter seems to be that it is co-
      optable by the capitalist structure. The Manifesto of the
      Azanian people is socialist. The Charterists have a block ...
      they get into a dead end street.'

Yes, it is true, as we shall demonstrate in greater detail later, unlike the
Azanian Manifesto (which pretends to be socialist), the Freedom
Charter is not a socialist document but a national democratic
document. The Freedom Charter is based on the historic realities of our
country, and one of those realities is that all black people, workers and
non-workers, are nationally oppressed and are consequently involved
in a national democratic revolution. The Freedom Charter thus asserts
the necessity for the creation of a people's government as a principled
alternative to racist apartheid rule.

Political struggle is not a game of rag dolls. What appear to be rag dolls
to our anti-Freedom Charterists are actually people, men and women
struggling against Pass Laws, Group Areas, Bantu Education, land
dispossession, fascist brutality, low wages, super-exploitation, and so
on; in short, fighting for national freedom and democracy. To ignore
this, to favour only the production of slogans that correspond more with
one's fancy than concrete reality, would be childish playing at politics,
and irresponsibility.

Perhaps the protagonists of the Azanian Manifesto are sincere
socialists and not 'ideologically lost political bandits' as Zinzi Mandela
called them — however, their probable sincerity is not the point. We
know of a lot of socialists in South Africa who have great respect for
our Freedom Charter, and equally (if not more than anybody else) who
fight for its realisation. The point is, why do the 'socialist' gentlemen of

Azania scorn a democratic programme for a people's republic? Why do
they (for the sake of socialism) want to skip the national democratic
revolution, skipping the political interests of the people as a whole?

The real essence of the present phase of our revolution is not the
winning of socialism but, as the Freedom Charter reflects, the winning
of people's democracy, a true republic with power to the people, all the
people! The drafters of the Azanian Manifesto fail to see the
revolutionary significance of this step, that is, the significance of the
struggle for true national independence and self-determination.

The Ideological Struggle

Imperialism maintains itself in power today not only through force but
also by ideological manipulation. The real aim of imperialism in the
ideological field is to mislead our people, to cause a split in our ranks,
to attempt to diffuse our people's revolutionary zeal into an impotent
quest for reforms. Not unusually, quasi-leaders are groomed,
miseducated and let loose to carry out these plans.

In view of this it would be ridiculous to ignore the fact that those who
oppose the Freedom Charter become toys in the hands of imperialism.

Everything must be done to enlighten our people, to equip them with
tools to understand the line of march and thereby consolidate our
democratic ranks. The imperialists, quite obviously, hate our Freedom
Charter, and would love to see the South African people opt for a less
revolutionary document, some kind of reforms or even, for that matter,
one document that looks super-revolutionary in form but which is
reactionary in essence.

In view of this ideological offensive against our national democratic
movement and its attempts to discredit the Freedom Charter, it
becomes imperative to ask the question: are there ideological trends in
the national liberation movement? The answer is: Yes. Those of us
who have experienced factionalism during the long years of our
struggle against oppression have also found that the oppressors
always try to foment splits in the national liberation movement on
ideological and other grounds — using as their main instrument racial

prejudice, chauvinism, tribalism or anti-communism. The question of
ideological struggle is therefore not an abstract one, nor of purely
academic interest. It is inseparably linked with the national liberation
struggle, and is in keeping with the day-to-day historical demands of
our revolution.

ANC Position Must Be Defined

Even in South Africa, where national oppression seems to dictate to all
oppressed people the inevitable need to unite and agree on what to
fight for there are always remarkably different ideological trends. And
our movement owes its present shape and position to the bitter
struggle it has fought over the years (even within itself) for ideological
clarity against narrow national opportunism, liberalism, ultra-left
Trotskyist childishness, and so on. Our real life and actual history has
meant exactly this ideological struggle.

Chief Luthuli said, in a special Presidential message at the end of
1955: 'Faced as we are with the battle for freedom it seems a wise
stand to say that the African National Congress should not dissipate its
energies by indulging in internal ideological feuds — a fight on 'isms.' It
is not practical and logical, however, to expect Congress to be
colourless ideologically. She must in some way define or re-define her
stand ...'

A struggle against a trend, therefore, which our entire movement
recognises as an ideological trend contrary to the interests of genuine
liberation, may imply superseding considerations of unity at all costs.
And the history of our revolution has shown that the struggle for unity
cannot be conducted at all costs, even at the cost of losing sight of the
sacred goals we are striving for, at the cost of diverting from genuine
emancipation. We take our orientation in this political sea, not by the
ships sailing with us on the sea, but by a proven guide, a 'Northern
Star,' an ideological lighthouse built on an historic foundation and
developed within the strategy of the world revolutionary process. Unity,
yes, but for the struggle against the colonial system of white
supremacy, not for the establishment of ideological peace with

Theory of Revolution

The strength of our ideological creed must therefore not only be in its
unifying force, but also in its ability to withstand the test of factionalism
and ideological opposition. Today when we look back at the political
history of the ANC and its allies, it becomes quite obvious that our
movement could not have preserved (let alone developed) itself as the
vanguard organisation In the South African revolution had it not upheld
the principle of ideological clarity and formed a single front in the
political, economic and ideological struggle against settler colonialism
and imperialism. The leading place of our movement derives also from
our vigilant attention to the ideological aspect of the revolutionary
movement of the oppressed masses. Without revolutionary theory
there can be no revolutionary movement. To defend such a theory,
which to the best of our knowledge we consider to be true, against
unfounded attacks and attempts to corrupt it is not to imply that we are
an enemy of all criticism. We are defending unity against the disrupters
of unity, we are defending the theory of revolution that has been
historically proven.

The Struggle Against Opportunism

It is this political and ideological cohesion of our democratic movement
which makes us stand as the leaders of all others, a position which is
inconceivable without an irreconcilable struggle against political
opportunism. The democratic movement that is developing in South
Africa, inspired by the Freedom Charter, will retain and further develop
its militant unity by also opposing opportunist ideological trends and
correcting political mistakes at the level of the theory of our revolution,
whether these are committed with good or ill intentions.

'Socialism' is undoubtedly the most fashionable slogan at the present
period, for even our liberal 'friends,' and narrow nationalists,
understand that it is the position one adopts to socialism, generally
speaking, that differentiates a progressive from a reactionary in all
countries. But it is very important (for our theoretically-grounded
organisers) to give to our people a concrete understanding of the
course our revolution will follow, that is, the stages it will necessarily

pass through. It is such an understanding, based on the theory of the
South African revolution, that will make it clear that the political
situation in South Africa does not by any means make the question of
the socialist revolution the immediate task of the struggle. It will make
clear, instead, that our immediate aim is to win the objectives of the
national revolution expressed in the Freedom Charter, more particularly
to achieve the national emancipation of the Black people and to destroy
the political and economic power of the racist ruling class.

Anti-Communist Hysteria

There must be some strange mechanism in the thinking of the
imperialists which makes them believe that once they have described
something as 'Communist' then all members of the human race will
want to run away from it. The racists of South Africa have always
thought like this. When, in 1956, the Pretoria government arrested 156
of our leaders and charged them with high treason, arguing that the
Freedom Charter was a document inspired by Moscow, they hoped
they would scare the masses of our people from the Freedom Charter.
The masses, being oppressed by imperialism and racism, never moved
in the hoped-for direction; on the contrary, they are irresistibly attracted
by the Freedom Charter and almost everything that our enemies hate.
In the end, the Treason Trial failed to diagnose Communism in the
Freedom Charter.

Opportunism in South Africa has equally tried to call the Freedom
Charter a 'Communist' document inspired by Moscow. It was the
Liberal Party in the Fifties, typical of opportunism, which joined the
racist government in opposing the Freedom Charter, and saw behind it
a Communist plot. This party's anti-Communism found its extreme
exponent in Jordan Ngubane, a journalist who finally broke with the
ANC in late 1955 and became a leading member of the Liberal Party.
The Freedom Charter's ultimate aim, claimed Ngubane, was 'to
condition the African people for the purpose of accepting communism
via the back door,' (An African Explains Apartheid, New York, 1963,
p.99). He further charged that the Communists supported a deliberately
vague document in order to accustom Africans to the idea of
nationalisation. In a strange revelation of how liberalism and narrow

nationalism ends itself embracing Pretoria's hatred of Communism
Ngubane further wrote in his book (p. 179) that 'the African's and
Afrikaner's hatred of Communism on this plane is so intense that an
alignment between the two is no longer as remote an eventuality as
events might suggest.'

Similarly, the PAC factionalists proclaimed that the Freedom Charter
was a Communist document, in this way virtually joining the Pretoria
government in proclaiming the moral justification for the Suppression of
Communism Act of 1950. And, as we all know, in terms of this South
African legislation and judicial interpretation, a Communist is anybody
who opposes apartheid, whether this is done in the form of a sermon
from the church pulpit, a funeral oration at the graveside or anti-
apartheid campaigning in the cultural field.

It is Apartheid that Robs our People

By diverting the attention of the oppressed masses from apartheid to
their manufactured version of Communism, giving it a distorted
meaning to suit their intentions, the racists and their ideological allies
equally play the game of the imperialists; except that they never score
goals in the hearts and minds of our people. Our people know that it is
not Communism but apartheid that deprives them of their most
elementary human rights; that it is not Communism but apartheid that
robs them of their right to take part in the administration of their own
country, that it is not Communism but apartheid that deprives them of a
fair share of the wealth they produce, that it is not Communism but
apartheid that deprives them of the right to live together with their
families wherever they might choose, and live as human beings.

The Communist bogey has never deterred our people from upholding
the principles of the Freedom Charter and the democratic movement
led by the ANC and its allies. Contemporary events show irrefutably
that, slowly but surely, our politically conscious people are marching
with the banner of the Freedom Charter held high — holding high the
banner of people's democracy. Such a people's movement is invincible!
Such a people cannot be deceived! Such a people cannot be stopped
in their tracks by some 'inspired by Moscow' scare gimmicks.

Why on earth do our enemies and opponents imagine that they are the
only ones who know what Communism really is? Why do they think
they are the only ones who store Marxist-Leninist literature on the
bookshelves? Why do they imagine that the people of South Africa do
not know what the SACP is and what it stands for? Do our enemies
and the opportunists alike imagine that the members of the ANC do not
understand the basis of the alliance with the South African Communist

The Two Pillars of our Revolution

The Pretoria regime might have banned the SACP, but its history is
well known by our people. Communist leaders such as Moses Kotane,
J B Marks and Moses Mabhida have always been admired by our
people. And the members of the ANC fully understand why both the
ANC and the SACP are two hands of the same body, why they are two
pillars of our revolution.

The South African Communist Party is the party of the working class,
the disciplined and advanced party that has no interests separate from
those of the working people. The Communist Party, basing itself on the
science of Marxism-Leninism, inevitably works for a united front of
national liberation. It staves to unite all sections and classes of
oppressed and democratic people for a national democratic revolution
(without making all such classes and peoples necessarily its members),
to destroy white domination. It fights, like the ANC, to restore the land
and wealth of the country to the people, and guarantee democracy,
freedom and equality of rights and opportunities to all. From its
founding conference in 1921, the Communist Party has demanded and
fought for complete freedom and equality for the blacks, and has led
the workers and oppressed people in numerous struggles against the
Pass Laws and unemployment, against fascism at home and abroad.
Such is the South African Communist Party as known by us members
of the African National Congress and all honest patriots in South Africa.
Members of the Party are not Russians or mysterious Kremlin agents
as they have been slandered by imperialism and hated by the narrow
nationalists; they are politically committed men and women in the thick
of the South African revolution, who have worked hard to help build the

ANC, the trade union movement and other people's organisations. As
said the Statement of the National Executive of the ANC on the
expulsion of the Group of Eight:

      'Let it be made abundantly clear that the policies of
      racialism and anticommunism have been and still are
      diametrically opposed to the policies, traditions and
      practices of the African National Congress of South Africa.
      Pieces of legislation of the racist regime of South Africa,
      like the 'Suppression of Communism Act' were not only
      vigorously opposed by the ANC in 1950, but... never in any
      way deterred or changed the policy of the ANC regarding
      communism or its communist members and leaders. There
      certainly will never be an endorsement of the
      "suppression" of Communists within the ANC.'

The Manifesto of the Azanian People identifies 'racial capitalism' as the
enemy of the South African people. It states:

      'Our struggle for national liberation is directed against the
      system of racial capitalism which holds the people of
      Azania in bondage for the benefit of the small minority of
      white capitalists and their allies, the white working class
      and the reactionary sections of the Black middle class. The
      struggle against apartheid is no more than a point of
      departure for our liberation efforts. Apartheid will be
      eradicated with the system of racial capitalism. The
      working class, inspired by revolutionary consciousness, is
      the driving force of our struggle. They alone can end the
      system as it stands today, because they alone have
      nothing at all to lose. They have a world to gain in a
      democratic, anti-racist and socialist Azania ...'

What does this mean? The following second resolution of the National
Forum Conference will probably give more light:

      'That this National Forum notes that:
      1. The struggle waged by the toiling masses is nationalist
      in character and socialist in content; ...'

A nationalist struggle and the socialist struggle are not one and the
same thing, and they do not belong to the same historical period. The
two represent two distinct categories of the revolution.

Nations in the Making

In history, it was the bourgeoisie that first fought and led the struggles
for national consolidation against feudal seclusive principalities.
Impelled by the developing productive forces, which also engendered
corresponding bourgeois relations of production, the bourgeoisie
brought together different nationalities into single nations around a
common economic life. Nationalism, strictly speaking, has always been
an ideological echo of this nation-formation process. Nations include
both the national bourgeoisie and the working class of that nation. The
latter, however, is exploited by the bourgeoisie of its own nation, and
therefore struggles against this exploitation. It is in the course of this
class struggle (led by a working class Party) that the working class of
all nations learn of their common fate as a class. Proletarian
internationalism, and not nationalism, therefore, is firmly connected
with socialism and the irreconcilable struggle of the working class
against all the bourgeoisie.

Scientific socialists actually teach the working class that their enemies
are the bourgeoisie, including their own national bourgeoisie. National
oppression, in fact, greatly hampers the solidarity action of the workers
of the oppressed and oppressor nations, who otherwise should be
struggling against their common exploiters, namely the capitalists.
During the era of imperialism as well, the nation-formation process
continues, but under conditions of the external economic and
colonising forces, hence the national liberation phenomenon is the
political struggle for self-determination of these young (often called
developing) nations.

So, to talk of a nationalist struggle implies, most logically, a struggle
that may be against imperialism, fascism or racism, as the case may
be. But to proceed and say that the same nationalist struggle is also
socialist in content is to make real confusion.

The reality is that the chief content of the present phase of our
revolution is the national liberation of the black people. It is actually
impossible for South Africa to advance to socialism before the national
liberation of the black oppressed nation.

The drafters of the resolution of the National Forum and the Azanian
Manifesto were unable to distinguish a national democratic revolution
from a socialist revolution. And to talk blindly of an 'anti-capitalist'
struggle at this phase demonstrates an incapacity to understand the
urgent political question in South Africa, that of national liberation. To
deny this in favour of abstract socialism is only a vain attempt to appear

Socialist Consciousness

Have the National Forum gentlemen taught the toiling masses in South
Africa about socialism? How then has the National Forum ascertained
that our people are no longer fighting for national liberation, but for
socialism now?

Socialism is a science and it must be conceived as such (said Engels
repeatedly). To bring socialist consciousness to the working class is not
a task performed once in some meeting of zealous university students;
it is, most obviously, a painstaking task for serious working class
organisers. It is therefore not enough to devote one's efforts to learning
by heart all socialist slogans and then call oneself a socialist, or,
equally, not enough to imagine that the 'toiling masses' should in all
probability be struggling for a 'socialist content' by now, and not for
national freedom.

The South African Communist Party, whose members are striving not
only for national liberation but finally for the destruction of the capitalist
system itself, also agree with the demands of the Freedom Charter, for
they are quite aware that the black working class needs freedom from
national oppression. Led by the ANC in alliance with the SACP, our
people demand nothing less than complete transfer of political power to
the people, which implies the immediate overthrow of racist autocracy,
of the colonial state of national domination and its replacement by a
state of the whole people.

A People's Assembly

To establish such a people's democratic republic in South Africa, it is
absolutely necessary that the political sovereignty be vested in a
revolutionary people's assembly, a constituent body of people's
representatives elected directly on the basis of universal and equal
suffrage, an assembly that shall have supreme authority and power to
form a new constitution for South Africa. It is in pursuance of this
political goal, one which cannot come about unless our democratic
revolution has achieved complete victory over the apartheid regime,
that our revolution is aiming at political seizure of power by the people.

A people's assembly that can have the power to create a new
constitution for South Africa, and not merely to fit itself into a
constitutional arrangement manufactured by the oppressor and the
exploiter, can only be an outcome of a victorious mass insurrection, a
conquering political and military force of the armed masses led by the
African National Congress and the People's Army, Umkhonto we
Sizwe. It is this kind of assembly alone, born of a revolutionary victory
by the whole people, that is capable of achieving the aims of the
Freedom Charter and subsequently of defending the new state of
people's democracy against racist and imperialist counter-revolution.

We need to emphasise that those who do not rely on the armed
masses in their political struggle will always seek to come to terms with
the racist regime, with its proposed constitutions, and such people will
not accomplish the aims of the Freedom Charter, even if they most
sincerely desire to. Arguing in favour of establishing this new national
order in tsarist Russia, as a necessary step before socialist revolution,
a new order that would really express the will of the whole people,
Lenin pointed out in The Two Tactics:

      'The absence of unity on questions of socialism and in the
      struggle for socialism does not preclude singleness of will
      for a republic. To forget this would be tantamount to
      forgetting the logical and historic difference between a
      democratic revolution and a socialist revolution. To forget
      this would be tantamount to forgetting the character of the

      democratic revolution as one of the whole people: if it is 'of
      the whole people' that means that there is 'singleness of
      will' precisely in so far as this revolution meets the needs
      and requirements of the whole people ... The time will
      come when the struggle against Russian autocracy will
      end, and the period of democratic revolution will have
      passed in Russia; it will then be ridiculous even to speak of
      'singleness of will' of the proletariat and the peasantry,
      about a democratic dictatorship, etc. When that time
      comes we shall deal directly with the question of the
      socialist dictatorship of the proletariat and speak of it in
      greater detail. At present the party of the advanced class
      cannot but strive most energetically for the democratic
      revolution's decisive victory over tsarism.'

The anti-Freedom Charterists, however, tell us in their 'Manifesto' that
the toiling masses are already struggling for socialism. The 'masses' of
the National Forum, let us not forget, want socialism here and now,
they are tired of waiting, that those struggling for a national democratic
revolution and the demands enshrined in the Freedom Charter are only
wasting their time.

A Common Will to be Free

The moment will come when the struggle against racist supremacy will
end, and the period of the national democratic revolution will have
passed in South Africa. Within the bounds of this national democratic
revolution, however, there is a basis for all oppressed classes and
strata having a common will; the Freedom Charter is such a common
political will to be free.

Where does this common will for national liberation come from? Is the
question of national liberation merely our fancy, or some kind of tactical
choice among a number of strategic options? No, it is no fancy, it is no
tactical choice — it derives from the historical fact that South Africa has
not yet broken the chains of colonialism which held the African
continent in subjection. The struggle of the rest of Africa, and that of
South Africa included, is one and indivisible. South Africa is not some

extension of Europe or America, but is part of the African continent,
with its history of struggle against colonialism. In their fight against
apartheid settler colonialism, our people are fighting to complete the
African revolution.

From the time of the first white settlement, established by the Dutch
East India Company more than 300 years ago, a pattern of colonial rule
was initiated for the national oppression of the black people, which has
never ended till today. During the wars of dispossession, the colonial
forces drove the indigenous population from the best lands, and seized
their cattle. They subdued them by armed conquest, and forced them
into their service. The 1910 establishment of the Union of South Africa
by British imperialism and the Afrikaner settler community was based
on this dispossession and oppression of the African people, and was
designed to deprive them of independence and freedom. Rather than
making South Africa an independent state for the black majority, this
constitutional arrangement reinforced and perpetuated their colonial

The Position of the Whites

What is the position of the whites? As the oppressor nation they enjoy
privileges in South Africa. They monopolise nearly all political,
economic, educational and social opportunities. What makes this
structure unique and adds to its complexity is that the oppressor nation
is not, as in a typical colonial relationship, situated in a geographically
distinct mother country, but is settled within its border. The roots of the
oppressor nation have been embedded in our country for more than
three centuries, which makes the oppressor people alien only in the
historic sense of origin.

The formation of the African National Congress in 1912 was the
organisational manifestation of the urge of the oppressed nation to form
an independent national state in the whole of South Africa, a matter
that had been the privilege of the whites alone. It is the form and not
the essence of colonialism in South Africa that is of a special type, so
that we therefore have our own version of the situation in which the
Portuguese or the British nation is oppressing the black nation. Colonial

peoples are nations, too, in the sense that the world is divided into
oppressed and oppressor nations and the former are not allowed the
chance to develop all the characteristics or properties nations showed
in their classical evolution in Europe under the bourgeoisie (hence the
non-applicability of the 'nation' definition as given by Stalin). In so far as
the colonial peoples possess this right to self-determination, that is, to
political separation from colonial national rule (which may not
necessarily imply geographical secession), there is the colonised
nation's right to independence.

This characterization provides the theoretical foundation for the
conclusion that the main content of the immediate struggle for change
in South Africa is the national liberation of the black people. This
means there exists an objective 'singleness of will' for the black people,
irrespective of their class affiliation, to be free from this colonialism of a
special type. National freedom in South Africa is not only in the
interests of the black workers, but also of the black middle strata.

Apartheid colour bar determines the limits of the economic position of
people in this stratum, in spite of whatever improvements they can
have. In their daily life they come up against all the humiliations meted
out to the black man. Unlike its counterparts in apartheid-free capitalist
economies, the black middle stratum in South Africa, in the words of
Slovo, 'faces a total racist bar against their entry into higher political
and economic preserves of the privileged white minority.' This black
middle stratum is quite capable of marching side by side with the
workers and rural toilers in the national democratic revolution.

The Charter and the National Question

Does the Freedom Charter, by asserting the unity of the blacks and
whites in the struggle for democracy in South Africa, and further
claiming that South Africa belongs to all its people, black and white,
deny the existence of the oppressor-oppressed relationship in our
country? Does it equate the oppressor's interests with those of the
oppressed? Are we equating 'the horse and the rider, as the Pan-
Africanist Congress says?

There is nothing to suggest that the Freedom Charter denies the
national contradiction in South Africa, the contradiction between the
racist regime of national oppression and the oppressed black people.
The Freedom Charter nowhere pretends that blacks are not oppressed
and are therefore enjoying equal rights with their white countrymen.

The Preamble of the Freedom Charter first rejects the racist premise of
the South African constitutional life, and recognises that the real South
Africa is inhabited by all who live in it and consequently belongs, not to
one section of the inhabitants. but to all of them. It then proceeds
immediately to challenge the authority of a government founded on
national oppression, by asserting that in South Africa there is a 'horse
and rider' situation, and that 'our people have been robbed of their
birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded
on injustice and inequality.' In this way, the Freedom Charter, in
approaching the national question in South Africa, focuses
unambiguously and accurately on the national relationship between
oppressor and oppressed.

In other words, the Charter does not underestimate the urge of the
oppressed black people towards the formation of a truly independent
national state in South Africa, and their need to exercise the right to
self-determination. The Freedom Charter, from every angle, asserts the
right of the black people to political self-determination just as it is
exercised by the white people, so that every man and woman shall
have the right to vote for and stand as a candidate for all bodies which
make laws.

But then the Freedom Charter is not like Jeremiah's Book of
Lamentations, it is a political document that seeks solutions to the
national oppression and inequality in South Africa; if it only mourned or
interpreted our plight, and failed to suggest change and the manner of
change that should be, it would cease to be a revolutionary document.
The Freedom Charter proposes the solution of the national question in
South Africa by the creation of a single South African nation, at present
in the process of birth.

A Free Country, A Free People

We stand for a free South Africa, we maintain, for a free people who
will enjoy equal rights whatever their colour, race or creed. It is for that
reason that we are opposed to the narrow nationalism which would
seek to create a caste society. The words, 'South Africa belongs to all
who live in it, black and white,' embody the principle that all people can
live in South Africa whatever their colour, and that this is their right that
will be defended constitutionally, not a mere privilege or favour
extended to one section by another. The future constitutional law in
South Africa shall guarantee and defend the right of all peoples that
inhabit South Africa, irrespective of the colour of their skin, to South
African citizenship, and such citizens shall live in equality and
democracy. Our future constitution shall ensure that, unlike what it is
today, South Africa shall not be a country divided unto itself and
dominated by a particular national group. And those in our country who
desire the ideals of genuine freedom, not chauvinist cocoons, will
inevitably rally round the banner of the Freedom Charter. We must
develop a revolutionary perspective of democracy that is
uncompromisingly hostile to narrow nationalism.

While not a socialist document, the Freedom Charter nonetheless has
these two dimensions: the present and the future. It neither loses touch
with present realities — the robbery of our birthright — nor does it
ignore future conditions, when present circumstances shall have been
changed, when the two nations shall have fused and merged through
the revolution into a single South African nation. While championing the
cause of the oppressed black people, the Freedom Charter equally
strives to create a single nation on South African soil, the most logical
development in an economy that has reached the capitalist level of

These two distinct but closely interconnected dimensions of the
Freedom Charter correspond to the historical fluidity of the South
African situation. For this reason it would be incorrect to argue that the
Freedom Charter cannot transcend the year l955, and to deny its
relevance in the future, during the consummation of the national
democratic phase of our revolution. This is clearly so, because the
democratic demands it makes have not yet been attained.

United Democratic Movement

The Freedom Charter lays a revolutionary basis for a united democratic
movement of all forces opposed to oppression, irrespective of racial
affiliation. In this way the enemy is correctly defined, not as white
people, but as a system of white supremacy and national domination;
similarly, revolutionaries do not have to include the likes of Matanzima,
Mangope or Mphephu, even if their pigment is blacker than coal. We
sincerely question the honesty of a nationalist who claims that he
strives to create a non-racial South Africa whilst showing an intolerant
attitude to non-black revolutionaries. We question, even more, the
sincerity of a socialist who creates a Chinese Wall between members
of the proletarian class, thereby prettifying apartheid. With the same
perception, one of the greatest black American leaders, Henry Winston,

      'Obviously, the go-it-alone neo-Pan Africanist skin strategy
      is but the reverse side of the white ruling class strategy in
      this country. The neo-Pan Africanist strategy objectively
      reinforces that of the monopolists, helps them retain power
      through manipulation of their twin weapons of racism and
      anti-Communism. While the ruling class promotes racist
      separatism for whites, the black skin strategists are busy
      working the other side of the street by advocating
      separatism for black people.' (Strategy for a Black Agenda,
      New York, 1973)

'Our new 'socialist' teachers of 'Azania' should have known in drafting
their Manifesto that by simply leaving the question of the position of the
white workers at the level of 'allies of the capitalists,' and further to
maintain in their arguments that there is no place even for the serious
democratic whites within the liberation organisations, they are travelling
on the skin strategic path mentioned by Henry Winston. This is an even
worse crime for people claiming to be socialists. The socialists that we
are acquainted with are the kind that heed the words of Lenin, who
once advised the Jewish proletariat that:

      'We must act as a single and centralised militant
      organisation, have behind us the whole of the proletariat,
      without distinction of language and personality, a
      proletariat whose unity is cemented by the continual joint
      solution of problems of theory and practice, of tactics and
      organisation; and we must not set up organisations that
      would march separately, each going on its own track; we
      must not weaken the force of our offensive by breaking
      into numerous independent political parties; we must not
      introduce estrangement and isolation and then have to
      heal an artificially implanted disease with the aid of these
      notorious 'federation' plasters.' (Collected Works, Vol.6,

The other aspect of the national question that has led the National
Forum to reject the Freedom Charter is the clause of the Charter that
says, 'All national groups shall have equal rights.' In a 'theoretical'
paper oscillating between narrow Black Consciousness and left-wing
Marxist rhetoric, Dr Neville Alexander (who was obviously the chief
theoretician of the National Forum Conference, since his paper was
adopted into the Manifesto with precisely his formulations) told the
Conference that they should reject this formulation of the Freedom
Charter, since it is based on the concept of race, and a more
revolutionary position would be one that 'opposes the perpetuation of
the ideology and theory of race.' Proceeding from this theoretical
premise, the National Forum has found worthy targets in the Natal and
Transvaal Indian Congresses for 'their perpetuation of this four nation
or race theory.'

Nosizwe's Fertile Imagination

The title of Nosizwe's book, One Azania, One Nation, has become the
rallying slogan of the ideological trend that opposes the Freedom
Charter. It is stated on page 97 of this book:

      'It is immediately obvious that this idea of four 'national
      groups' has persisted from the pre-war caste
      interpretations of the national question which were shared,

      from different theoretical points of view, by liberals, many
      marxists and petty-bourgeois reformists.'

He calls this clause of the Freedom Charter 'the unambiguously liberal
bourgeois formulations of the national question in South Africa.' (p.
100) and, further down the page, says 'the uncomfortably close parallel
between Bantustan theory and the essentially pluralist theory of the
Congress movement and the SACP, together with mounting criticism
both inside and outside these organisations, has led in recent times to
soul-searching and reassessment which may still prove to be of great
significance to the whole liberation movement in South Africa.'

On page 103, he brings forth the following judgment:

      'All in all, however, it does not appear that the Congress
      contributions to the continuing discussion on the national
      question have taken the matter much further on the
      theoretical level, and the patent confusions concerning
      concepts such as national groups, national minorities,
      racial groups, nationalities, bear this out clearly.'

What particularly annoys Nosizwe about this 'national groups' theory of
the Freedom Charter is that:

      'They (the ANC and SACP) really do perceive of the
      colour-caste groups, the four so-called 'racial' groups of
      South Africa, as nations or national groups who are
      nationally oppressed like overseas colonials. That national
      oppression can conceivably have a different meaning is
      not properly understood. It is understood in part, because
      the consistency breaks down at the fundamental point
      concerning the right of nations to self-determination.'

There is probably no other theoretical question in the history of our
liberation movement that has received as much attention as the
national question. True, the initial positions might not have been those
that are held today, but long before the existence of the Nationalist
Party of the Boers and their Bantustan theory, long before their

Population Registration Act, and even long before the Unity Movement
came up with the theory that South Africa has one nation, the South
African liberation movement worked out and adopted a systematic
theoretical position on the national question in South Africa based on a
concrete historical perspective, a history that is not only ignored by
Nosizwe's One Azania, One Nation, but also which when he is forced
to admit it, he dismisses from the point of view of revolutionism and
places next to the liberals and the petty-bourgeois reformists.

All National Groups Shall Have Equal Rights

Today both the ANC and the SACP recognise the existence of two
nations in South Africa, the oppressed and oppressor nations, and to
us it is from this division (one which forms the essence of imperialism)
that our definition of the right of nations to self-determination follows.

This means liberation of the oppressed from national and colonial
domination, and assertion of their national right to independence. The
demand for the self-determination of the oppressed black people
implies, not racial domination by blacks over whites, but, on the
contrary, the creation of a non-racial democratic national state that
develops on African soil, which then, for historical reasons, can only be
overwhelmingly black (hence the correctness of the slogan of the
'Black Republic.')

This means that a victorious people's democratic revolution in South
Africa will necessarily establish majority rule and, consequently, the
correction of the colonial injustice whereby the black majority was
made subject to the white minority. Again, this demand for self-
determination does not mean the division of South Africa into black and
white states, but is only an expression of the need for national freedom,
an inevitable demand under national oppression.

And when our Freedom Charter says All National Groups Shall Have
Equal Rights, the Charter is giving a reply to the present racist policies
of the apartheid regime, which has created social differentiation
between whites, coloureds, Indians and Africans.

These groups at present differ in economic and even political
privileges. In spite of the new Botha constitutional gymnastics, there
are enshrined in the laws of South Africa a host of insulting provisions
directed at the dignity of the black people and the humanity of the
oppressed masses. In a free South Africa, as far as this clause of the
Freedom Charter is concerned, a racist who shouts, 'Coolie', 'Hotnot' or
'Kaffir' shall be brought before revolutionary justice charged with
violating human dignity.

When the Congress movement talked about national groups, it was not
referring to nations, hence the principle of self-determination is not
applied to these groups in the Charter. Nations, we know, came about
only at a certain stage of productive development, whether such
development was inherently dynamic or was imposed from without by
colonialism; and nations, we know, are, as Lenin said, 'an inevitable
product, an inevitable form, in the bourgeois epoch of social

But what Nosizwe's learning in Marxism -has forgotten to tell him is that
apart from nations proper, there exist what are called 'nationalities' or
what the Freedom Charter calls 'national groups', and these are by no
means the same as nations.

The Land Question

What were the policies of the National Forum Conference on the land
question? Here is how the conference addressed itself to the question:

      'And further noting that:

      1. The usage of the land shall not be to the benefit of
      Azanians only but for the benefit of all Africa, the Third
      World and the international community as a whole.'

Such was the formulation of Resolution Two on the land question. This
approach obviously sounds more evangelical than political. Does this
suggest that South African land shall be free for use by everybody?
Who are these people in Africa, the 'Third World' and the international
community as a whole, who shall benefit from the usage of our land?

In the past and present history of South Africa, we have witnessed
imperialist interests from foreign countries benefiting from our land.
Obviously the socialist countries, because they do not have
transnational companies exploiting the lands of other peoples, have not
desired, and do not desire, to exploit our wealth. Imperialists, however,
do! The South African rural toilers have been deprived of land
ownership by a racist government, and yet the National Forum is telling
them now that the usage of the land that should actually come back to
them shall benefit the international community as a whole! And our
rural masses are supposed to agree to that, to a resolution on their own
land, made by some intellectual gentry without consultation with them,
made behind their backs? Our rural people shall have nothing to do
with this fuming of South African land into a garden of Eden for the
international community as a whole.

How to Distribute the Land?

The land question is a very sensitive issue, one that needs to be
approached with sober attitudes. The indigenous people of South
Africa have fought bitter wars of resistance lasting hundreds of years
because they were deprived of the land. Today in our country all the
land is controlled and used as a monopoly by the white minority. The
African people have always maintained their right to the land as a
traditional birthright of which they have been robbed. In fact, the ANC
slogan, Mayibuye i'Africa! is precisely this demand for the return of the
African land to its indigenous inhabitants.

The white minority has no right to be land barons while we work for
them as serfs. This is why the Freedom Charter says that The land
shall be shared among those who work it.' If the present land barons
and absentee landlords want to remain on the land, our Freedom
Charter rules that it shall be a condition that they should, like others, till
it. In practical terms, this means that the task facing our struggle on this
question is to take this land away from exclusive white control, and to
divide it among farmers who do not exploit the labour of others, but
who shall work co-operatively to produce wealth from the soil. It is the
landless peasants who till this land, and therefore it needs to be
distributed among them.

Since the Freedom Charter is a statement of aims, it does not go into
real depth as to what form this distribution of the land will assume. If
our national democratic revolution is not aborted, if it does not miscarry,
but finally ends as the revolutionary political power of the working class
and the peasantry (the people), and if the leading working class is
definitely to put its imprint on it, then we have no reason to believe that
the land shall be distributed to individual capitalist farmers. We have
reason to believe, instead, that land shall be distributed in such a way
that collective farms are created to exist side by side with state farms to
banish famine and land hunger.

And certainly this is very far from the assertion that the use of our land
shall be for the benefit of the international community as a whole. A
revolutionary democrat, one who understands the exact position in
history and society that a victorious national democratic revolution
occupies, will reject the contention that the re-division of our land will
take us back to the era of individual landowners who will then step into
the shoes of the departed land barons. A revolutionary democrat
understands that, in resolving the land question, the peasantry is acting
in close unity with its leading ally, the working class.

      In The Two Tactics, Lenin argued:

      'Without thereby becoming socialist or ceasing to be petty-
      bourgeois, the peasantry is capable of becoming a
      wholehearted and radical adherent of the democratic
      revolution. The peasantry will inevitably become such if
      only the course of the revolutionary events, which brings it
      enlightenment, is not prematurely cut short by the
      treachery of the bourgeoisie and the defeat of the
      proletariat. Subject to this condition the peasantry will
      inevitably become a bulwark of the revolution and the
      republic, for only a completely victorious revolution can
      give the peasantry everything in the sphere of agrarian
      reforms — everything that the peasants desire, dream of,
      and truly need in order to emerge from the mire of semi-
      serfdom, from the gloom of oppression and servitude, in
      order to improve their living conditions, as much as they

      can be improved within the system of commodity

And the more enlightened the rural toilers become, the more
consistently and resolutely will they stand for a complete democratic
revolution; for, unlike the bourgeoisie in South Africa, they have nothing
to fear from the people's revolution, but, on the contrary, stand to gain
from it.

Let Our People Discuss the Charter

We, the upholders of the Freedom Charter, understand very well that
no programme, no constitution, is immutable for all time. Conditions
change, and so do attitudes. Even the most seemingly sacred or
absolute principles or policies should be held constantly under review,
endorsed if found still to be correct, altered or scrapped if found to be
out of date.

Let our people discuss the Freedom Charter to check its relevance to
the conditions of today, let those patriots who disagree with this clause,
or that, voice their views in discussion. This is fine. Our liberation
movement is not a church, it must never be measured by the criterion
of some fantastic and infallible ideal, but should always be regarded as
a practical movement of ordinary people. The Freedom Charter was
drawn up by such ordinary people. But even those who might differ with
this clause or that, must realise what the Freedom Charter actually is,
from an historical point of view. Whoever differs with it should at least
acknowledge that it is indeed a product of the people's democratic
demands in the South African context, and that equally, developments
from it have a corresponding historical magnitude.

We defend, fight and die for, the ideals enshrined in the Freedom
Charter, not because it is an all-time document, but because it is a
revolutionary guide to a life free of misery and oppression. It is the
demands of the people, that have yet to be won. These are the kind of
ideals which most nations achieve, ideals for which men and women
stubbornly and heroically resist torture in detention and gruelling lives
in exile, ideals for which our martyred dead stood firm and unflinching
to the last minute of their lives. Such ideals cannot be taken lightly.

Such ideals need to be d~d from malicious slanders and ill-conceived
political theories.


Shared By: