[News] Nelson Mandela’s Long Death

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 18 18:09:57 EST 2013


    Nelson Mandela’s Long Death

      by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Wed, 12/18/2013

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.

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.”

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 
<http://www.atimes.com/atimes/World/WOR-01-121213.html>_ 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 at BlackAgendaReport.com/ 
<mailto:Glen.Ford at BlackAgendaReport.com>_/./

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