Today In History: Nelson Mandela Inaugurated

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10th May 1994: Nelson Mandela became the first president of a democratic South Africa, ending three hundred and forty-two (342) years of oppressive, brutal and unjust white rule.

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“Never, Never Again will this beautiful land experience the oppression of one by another,” he said at the inauguration ceremony which took place in the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

South Africa’s transition was to be described as a miracle – it was peaceful. The oppressor and the oppressed had sat across from each other and decided the way forward.

As history will now attest, this was one of the most unbalanced, unequal and unfair negotiated settlements,  central to which was the iconic figure of President Nelson Mandela. As we now know, there were a lot of behind-the-scenes manoeuvrings between corporates and their international partners which saw the ANC make many guarantees for whites in what was to be known as the Sunset Clauses.

Sampie Terreblanche’s most famous work “A History of Inequality in South Africa 1652-2002 refers to among others, the compromises made by the ANC, and the importance of regaining sovreign freedom. Terreblanche observes: “The ANC’s core leaders effectively sold its sovereign freedom to implement an independent and appropriate socio-economic policy for a mess of potage when it entered into several compromises with the corporate sector and its global partners. These unfortunate transactions must be retracted or renegotiated.”

When Mandela was released from prison on 11 February 1990, he said: The white monopoly of political power must be ended and we need a fundamental restructuring of our political and economic systems to address the inequalities of apartheid and create a genuine democratic South Africa” – and we know that it never happened.

 

3 Comments on "Today In History: Nelson Mandela Inaugurated"

  1. Jannie van der Merwe | May 10, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Reply

    Wow. I remember watching on tv that ceremony. It was beautiful. Now we need to focus on our economic empowerment. All of us.

  2. Rex Seemela | May 23, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Reply

    Dear PK
    I like to share this with comrade’s and to understand selfless of leaders like the old time.
    Our hard earned freedom when others choose to die for the nation and other sells it for nothing.

    This is Radical Economic Transformation.

    Nelson R. Mandela

    Statement During the Rivonia Trial (1964)

    Our fight is against real, and not imaginary, hardships, or to use the language of the State Prosecutor, “so-called hardships.” Basically, we fight against two features which are the hallmarks of African life in South Africa and which are entrenched by legislation which we seek to have repealed. These features are poverty and lack of human dignity, and we do not need Communists or so-called “agitators” to teach us about these things.

    South Africa is the richest country in Africa, and could be one of the richest countries in the world. But it is a land of extremes and remarkable contrasts. The Whites enjoy what may well be the highest standard of living in the world, whilst Africans live in poverty and misery. Forty percent of the Africans live in hopelessly overcrowded and, in some cases, drought-stricken reserves, where soil erosion and the overworking of the soil, make it impossible for them to live properly off the land. Thirty percent are laborers, labor tenants and squatters on White farms and work and live under conditions similar to those of the serfs of the Middle Ages. The other thirty percent live in towns where they have developed economic and social habits which bring them closer in many respects to White standards. Yet most Africans, even in this group, are impoverished by low incomes and high cost of living.

    The highest paid and the most prosperous section of urban African life is in Johannesburg. Yet their actual position is desperate. The latest figures were given on the 25th March, 1964, by Mr. Carr, Manager of the Johannesburg Non-European Affairs Department. The poverty datum line for the average African family in Johannesburg (according to Mr. Carr’s department) is R42.84 per month. He showed that the average monthly wage if R33.24 and that 46% of all African families in Johannesburg do not earn enough to keep them going.

    Poverty goes hand in hand with malnutrition and disease. The incidence of malnutrition and deficiency diseases is very high amongst Africans. Tuberculosis, pellagra, kwashiorkor, gastroenteritis and scurvy bring death and destruction of health. The incidence of infant mortality is one of the highest in the world. According to the Medical Officer of Health for Pretoria, tuberculosis kills forty people a day (almost all Africans), and in 1961 there were 58,491 new cases reported. These diseases not only destroy the vital organs of the body, but they result in retarded mental conditions and lack of initiative, and reduce powers of concentration. The secondary results of such conditions affect the whole community and the standard of work performed by African laborers.

    The complaint of Africans, however, is not only that they are poor and the Whites are rich, but that the laws which are made by the Whites are designed to preserve this situation. There are two ways to break out of poverty. The first is by formal education, and the second is by the worker acquiring a greater skill at his work and thus higher wages. As far as Africans are concerned, both these avenues of advancement are deliberately curtailed by legislation.

    The present Government has always sought to hamper Africans in their search for education. One of their early acts, after coming into power, was to stop subsidies for African school feeding. Many African children, who attended schools, depended on this supplement to their diet. This was a cruel act.

    There is compulsory education for all White children at virtually no cost to their parents, be they rich or poor. Similar facilities are not provided for the African children, though there are some who receive such assistance. African children, however, generally have to pay more for their schooling than Whites. According to figures quoted by the South African Institute of Race Relations in its 1963 journal, approximately 40% of African children in the age group between 7 to 14 do not attend school. For those who do attend school, the standards are vastly different from those afforded to White children. In 1960/61 the per capita Government spending on African students at State-aided schools was estimated at RI2.46. In the same years, the per capita spending on White children in the Cape Province (which are the only figures available to me) was R144.57. Although there are no figures available to me, it can be stated, without doubt, that the White children on whom R144.57 per head was being spent all came from wealthier homes than African children on whom R12.46 per head was being spent.

    The quality of education is also different. According to the Bantu Education Journal, only 5,660 African children in the whole of South Africa passed their J.C. in 1962, and in that year only 362 passed metric. This is presumably consistent with the policy of Bantu education about which the present Prime Minister said, during the debate on the Bantu Education Bill in 1953: –

    “When I have control of Native education, I will reform it so that Natives will be taught from childhood to realize that equality with Europeans is not for them … People who believe in equality are not desirable teachers for Natives. When my Department controls Native education it will know for what class of higher education a Native is fitted, and whether he will have a chance in life to use his knowledge.”

    The other main obstacle to the economic advancement of the African is the industrial color bar under which all the better jobs of industry are reserved for Whites only. Moreover, Africans who do obtain employment in the unskilled and semi-skilled occupations which are open to them, are not allowed to form Trade Unions which have recognition under the Industrial Conciliation Act. This means that strikes of African workers are illegal, and that they are denied the right of collective bargaining which is permitted to the better-paid White workers. The discrimination in the policy of successive South African Governments towards African workers is demonstrated by the so-called “civilized labor policy” under which sheltered unskilled Government jobs are found for those White workers who cannot make the grade in industry, at wages which far exceeded the earnings of the average African employee m industry.

    The Government often answers its critics by saying that Africans in South Africa are economically better off than the inhabitants of the other countries in Africa. I do not know whether this statement is true and doubt whether any comparison can be made without having regard to the cost of living index in such countries. But even if it is true, as far as the African people are concerned it is irrelevant. Our complaint is not that we are poor by comparison with people in other countries, but that we are poor by comparison with the White people in our own country, and that we are prevented by legislation from altering this imbalance.

    The lack of human dignity experienced by Africans is the direct result of the policy of White supremacy. White supremacy implies Black inferiority. Legislation designed to preserve White supremacy entrenches this notion. Menial tasks in South Africa are invariably performed by Africans. When anything has to be carried or cleaned, the White man will look around for an African to do it for him, whether the African is employed by him or not. Because of this sort of attitude, Whites tend to regard Africans as a separate breed. They do not look upon them as people with families of their own; they do not realize that they have emotions-that they fall in love like White people do; that they want to be with their wives and children like White people want to be with theirs; that they want to earn enough money to support their families properly, to feed and clothe them and send them to school. And what “house-boy” or “garden-boy” or laborer can ever hope to do this?

    Pass Laws, which to the Africans are among the most hated bits of legislation in South Africa, render any African liable to police surveillance at any time. I doubt whether there is a single African male in South Africa who has not at some stage had a brush with the police over his pass. Hundreds and thousands of Africans are thrown into gaol each year under pass laws. Even worse than this is the fact that pass laws keep husband and wife apart and lead to the breakdown family life.

    Poverty and the breakdown of family life have secondary effects. Children wander about the streets of the Townships because they have no schools to go to, or no money to enable them to go to school, or no parents at home to see that they go to school, because both parents (if there be two) have to work to keep the family alive. This leads to a breakdown in moral standards, to an alarming rise in illegitimacy and to growing violence which erupts, not only politically, but everywhere. Life in the townships is dangerous. There is not a day that goes by without somebody being stabbed or assaulted. And violence is carried out of the townships in the White living areas. People are afraid to walk alone in the streets after dark. Housebreakings and robberies are increasing, despite the fact that the death sentence can now be imposed for such offenses. Death sentences cannot cure the festering sore.

    Africans want to be paid a living wage. Africans want to perform work which they are capable of doing, and not work which the Government declares them to be capable of. Africans want to be allowed to live where they obtain work, and not be endorsed out of an area because they were not born there. Africans want to be allowed to own land in places where they work, and not to be obliged to live in rented houses which they can never call their own. Africans want to be part of the general population, and not confined to living in their own ghettos. African men want to have their wives and children to live with them where they work, and not be forced into an unnatural existence in men’s hostels. African women want to be with their menfolk and not be left permanently widowed in the reserves. Africans want to be allowed out after 11 o’clock at night and not to be confined to their rooms like little children. Africans want to be allowed to travel in their own country and to seek work where they want to and not where the Labor Bureau tells them to. Africans want a just share in the whole of South Africa; they want security and a stake in society.

    Above all, we want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent. I know this sounds revolutionary to the Whites in this country, because the majority of voters will be Africans. This makes the White man fear democracy.

    But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the only solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for all. It is not true that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial domination. Political division, based on color, is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one color group by another. The A.N.C. has spent half a century fighting against racialism. When it triumphs it will not change that policy. . .

    Source: Nelson R. Mandela, “Statement during the Rivonia Trial” (April 20, 1964)

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