I followed proceedings of the late Andrew Mlangeni’s funeral. Two Issues struck me and I make these two comments, with humility and observance of cultural protocol under these circumstances.
Hearing the repeated mantra with the reference to the historical values of the ANC in terms of “corrupt free’ and ‘dedication to the service to the people”, I started doubting my knowledge of and acquaintance with the history of the ANC.
The concept of the “ROT” was introduced by MK comrades and the rank and file members of the ANC in the late 1960s and 1970s while in exile, especially during the post wonky joint MK and Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) Military Campaign in the then Southern Rhodesia. This constant reference to corruption in the ANC stems from there and has engulfed the ANC, especially its leadership.
Party funds were being squandered and party assets like arms being sold and the Party’s political and military leaders living a life better than that of leaders of independent African states – all at the expense of the rank and file and saying nothing about the oppressed African people in this country.
In one of his interviews in 1970, PAC’s founding President of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) Robert Sobukwe, shared the frustration of the members of the ANC Youth League as a result of the corruption of the leadership of the Mother Body and their “capture” by the rich Whites and Indians who were financing the operations of the ANC including financing the operations of their offices, paying rent, etc.
Sobukwe for instance, even alleged that when they, as members of the Youth Wing, complained about this to the then Secretary General of the Party Mhlonishwa Walter Sisulu, he, Sisulu, informed them that he and the Party leadership were powerless to do anything because of the role played by these members of the South African Communist Party who were rich whites and Indians. He even informed them, the members of the Youth League, that his, Sisulu, family’s businesses were experiencing serious financial problems and those were the people who were salvaging the situation. It must be remembered that these are the same individuals who wrote the so-called Freedom Charter and who formed MK in 1961.
I would like to point out though that most leaders of liberation movements in exile were corrupt in varying degrees, mostly determined by the amount of resources available that they could plunder. This plunder is further inherent in the administration of these leaders subsequent to their taking over power – Angola, Namibia, Guinea Bissau, etc.
The second area of interest to me was this official declaration for public consumption, as it was the case with Mandela, that UMUFI Mlangeni was a Communist. Why was this “fact” hidden from the local and international communities, so that the behaviour of all these leaders could have been put under various scrutiny? So were they all communists? Cynics might respond by saying: “Does It Matter, And Who Cares?”
It’s important that we know who is who in today’s zoo and yesterday’s zoo, and with what consequences? Those Who Do Know Their History Shall Be Repeatedly Hoodwinked And Fooled!
Professor Sipho Shabala is a stalwart of the PAC