Nelson Mandela’s Long Death

Submitted by Glen Ford on Wed, 12/18/2013 - 16:36
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by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

As Nelson Mandela lay for nine months near death, the world got an education on his legacy – including the scope of the deal that he and his African National Congress comrades cut to abandon the Freedom Charter. Blacks got the vote, and little else, while whites held on to economic power. Imperialism got a new lease on life in Africa.

 

Nelson Mandela’s Long Death

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“A straight line could now be drawn connecting the ANC’s early Nineties pact with capital and the massacre of 34 striking Black miners at Marikana, in August, 2012.”

Had Nelson Mandela gone quickly to the grave when a lung infection recurred in March of this year, the world might not have experienced such a fantastic volume of political obituaries on his legacy. The nine-month deathwatch, culminating in an unprecedented send-off by nearly 100 heads of state, provided the space and time for a global examination of, not only the great man’s personal saga, but the tragic trajectory of the South African liberation struggle. Mandela’s long death became a wake, at which the body of his life’s work – and that of his comrades in the African National Congress (ANC) – was on display for collective view, commentary, and assessment.

When a dying Black man is lavished with praise by virtually all the imperial villains of the world, that is news, indeed. As corporate journalists wrote, and then rewrote, their obituaries for the still breathing Mandela, they revisited the critical period when a real revolutionary transformation was averted in South Africa through the miraculous ministrations of “Madiba.” For the first time, the “mainstream” media explored the terms of the deal that was struck to reconcile the demands of global capital and the white minority with the aspirations of the Black majority. Thus, a discussion that had previously been largely limited to the financial pages, on one hand, and left publications like this one, on the other, became far more general.

In the dimming twilight of Mandela’s life, the actual history of the “transition” to Black rule was illuminated for the larger public. A straight line could now be drawn connecting the ANC’s early Nineties pact with capital and the massacre of 34 striking Black miners at Marikana, in August, 2012. Foreign audiences could now understand how Cyril Ramaphosa, a former mine workers union leader, a deputy president of the ANC (and presidential contender), became a billionaire board member of the corporation that owns the Marikana mine. South Africa’s 2011 United Nations vote in favor of a no-fly zone over Libya, ultimately resulting in the murder of Muammar Gaddafi, a great supporter of the armed struggle against the white regime, makes perfect sense in the context of Mandela’s and the ANC’s capitulation to imperialism, two decades earlier.

”His living aura was a prophylactic against serious analysis of the ANC’s abandonment of the 1955 Freedom Charter.”

For non-South Africans, especially, Mandela was the personification of the ANC and the embodiment of the South African struggle. His living aura was a prophylactic against serious analysis of the ANC’s abandonment of the 1955 Freedom Charter, which called for redistribution of the country’s land and nationalization of the mines and banks. When death began to hover, this spring, Mandela’s aura was insufficient to limit the scope of the thousands of political obituaries that were being prepared for distribution.

Ronnie Kasrils, a former fighter in the ANC’s armed wing who became intelligence minister under Black rule and served as a high official in both the ANC and the South African Communist Party, broke the silence in June. “From 1991 to 1996 the battle for the ANC's soul got under way, and was eventually lost to corporate power,” he wrote in an article for the Guardian. “We were entrapped by the neoliberal economy – or, as some today cry out, we ‘sold our people down the river.’"

Kasrils, known as “Red Ronnie,” is white. Now that the “deal” is common knowledge, there are attempts to blame it on white communists – to absolve Mandela in much the same way as Black Obama apologists claim that his white advisors tricked or pressured their icon into pursuing anti-Black, reactionary policies. But the communists, who were multi-racial, and the ANC (also multi-racial) were thoroughly commingled in the South African leadership; they share responsibility for the betrayal of the revolution. “An ANC-Communist party leadership eager to assume political office (myself no less than others) readily accepted this devil's pact, only to be damned in the process,” said Kasrils. “It has bequeathed an economy so tied in to the neoliberal global formula and market fundamentalism that there is very little room to alleviate the plight of most of our people.”

”The communists and the ANC share responsibility for the betrayal of the revolution.”

On Democracy Now! last week, host Amy Goodman repeatedly tried to get Kasrils to acknowledge or admit that Nelson Mandela had been a member of the South African Communist Party’s Central Committee. Kasrils said he would have known if that had been the case, and accepts Mandela’s denial of membership. But Goodman’s pursuit of the matter avoids the central fact of Kasril’s testimony: that the leading figures in the commingled ANC, SACP and COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) all endorsed or acquiesced to the “sell-out.”

If the Nineties capitulation had been engineered by a small clique in the leadership, then one could blame the debacle on a few individuals. But the whole forward motion of the South African revolution was turned around, so that when John Pilger interviewed Mandela shortly after he assumed the presidency, he is told the course is irreversible. “…for this country, privatization is the fundamental policy,” said Mandela.

To make sure that the capitalist road was irreversible, the deal included the near-instant creation of a Black business class hopelessly tied to international capital – like Cyril Ramaphosa and other high ranking ANC members – which would provide the African social base for capital’s continued political dominance of the country. When South Africa rises up, once again – and it will – the poor will have to cut and hack their way through this new class of Black compradors. They, too, are Mandela’s children.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

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9 comments

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Submitted by scream2014 on Fri, 12/27/2013 - 23:16.

Heartbreaking analysis of the circumstances a few years after Mandela becamse president.  Includes interview w/Mandela.

http://elbramg.com

Capitalist Powers

Submitted by Nikolai on Thu, 12/19/2013 - 14:18.

"To make sure that the capitalist road was irreversible, the deal included the near-instant creation of a Black business class hopelessly tied to international capital – like Cyril Ramaphosa and other high ranking ANC members – which would provide the African social base for capital’s continued political dominance of the country."

The only way the capitalist/imperialsts powers would have accepted an official end to aparthid is exactly this - if South Africa became part of the international capital system, in which a particular class served to maintain SA's role in the global economic system and keep real progress stagnant.

Sad Failure/Parallel

Submitted by Spike on Thu, 12/19/2013 - 14:01.

Same exact dilemma faced by the Movement here in the USA.  Ending apartheid doesn't magically redistribute resources.

Extra sad that the ANC didn't spend enough time pondering our example.

At least MLK went down swinging.  Mandela is just sad.

Excellent observation, Glen, on the appearance of progress.

Submitted by RanRay9845 on Thu, 12/19/2013 - 02:35.

Mr Ford, this website has become for me, mandatory if I want the truth of what's happening today. I have a personal gauge for what will mean for me, real racial, human, and economic progress. It's this, when I agree with views that people like you and Ms Kimberley, and Bruce Davis, and others views here, I've also come to be educated by simply pursuing the sidebars of this website as well as the links, when I no longer have to preface a comment that I make with 'I'm a white man, and....' I began to do that when so often I'm met with resistance from people who think that from what my comment is, that I must be black, which means my views are less considered on their own merit than coming from a racial stereotype. Understand that I don't object to being thought to be black, I object to my views as being black and therefore in their minds either irrelevant, or ignorant, less astute than say a white person my accusers imagine.

It seems capital has so much power that it's going to be impossible to wrest the power needed for change from these psychopaths that have sought out a CEO position where profits is the only goal. When food is no longer what sustains people in their living, but as a commodity from which to scrape from the top of the overpriced food funds for CEO bonuses, it's gotta mean trouble. And that is just one aspect of the systemic cancer eroding lives and keeping most folks down, the Neoliberalism that puts a price on each and every human endeavour. Cable TV was supposed to be a big thing, no longer did companies sponsor shows and hold a captive audience to push snake oil to consumers, no, just pay a small monthly premium fee for the shows you wanted to watch. They even had to fill show slots with fillers as the programs were made to fit a commercial over the airwaves TV ad timeline. Cable ads for 'commercial free' viewing were done for a short time even. But like poor Mandela, those cable companies co-opted the real power of Congress and made a case that they were losing money(much of the physical cable had been installed by now), so Congress okayed rate increases; long story short, now and since mid 80s we pay a premium and are forced to have commercial TV ads on, and if they could they'd disable the sound Mute button, as many just turn off the sound while the noise of unwanted TV ads blast away(TV ads have the volume louder than the programs for a reason). It's great for cable profits as the rates never go down, but they go up and up[remember, the cable is physically in place so what is the cost of operation?] (phones were added and at first it was less costly for phones through cable, but soon no differences in cost or savings were realised.

The system is shamelessly out of date and even worse than the 'glorified feudal system' that is Capitalism. For whites to average 7 times the assets and wealth of people of color is just unconscionable, and many I tell don't even believe that is the case, or they find a way to justify it, and is that even possible?

Thanks, Glen, for this information on Mandela.

Video John Pilger "Apartheid Did Not Die"

Submitted by lindaj on Wed, 12/18/2013 - 18:11.

Heartbreaking analysis of the circumstances a few years after Mandela becamse president.  Includes interview w/Mandela.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRlh2nUWrzs

 

 

 

"Apartheid Did Not Die"

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