Monday, December 09, 2013

Mandela - His Political Legacy

Today 23 years down the line, Mandela who was born in the Transkei, in the Easter Cape passed away at the ripe old age of 95 after battling a lung infection  and the world is mourning him.

Because Mandela had been incarcerated for 27 years in Robben Island many people feared that he was going to segregate politically and economically the white settlers in South Africa after becoming president. But this was never going to be.

During the Rivonia Trial in 1962, Mandela had strongly defended his political principles against the apartheid regime on the basis of fighting for the creation  of a non-racial and multi-ethnic state.

And when Mandela was released from 27 years imprisonment at Robben Island he knew beforehand the struggle for self-government (liberation struggle) was no longer conceived as a racial or cultural struggle between blacks and whites (Africans and Europeans).

Under the yoke of colonialism had all become politically independent. Even the foreboding racial ideology of apartheid had been done away with by President De Klerk.

This the political ideals he had so bravely struggled to achieve was proffered to him on a silver platter so to say.

Throughout the period he was in office, Mandela preached and advocated political reconciliation between black and white people of South Africa. Desmond Tutu was appointed for this task. When Mandela was released from Robben Island he paid a courtesy call to Kenneth Kaunda in 1990. It was unfortunate for President Kaunda to have received an historic visit from Mandela when the concept of African nationalism had lost favour with the people. In 1990 Kaunda’s political and economic principles had frustrated many ordinary Zambians. The visit of Mandela was a timely homage to the souls of Zambians, Mozambiqans and others who had perished [in a] regime that was supported by the Western nations and Israel [..] that are today extolling the highest tributes in the wake of his death.

A year after Mandela came out of prison Kaunda suspended the Emergency Powers Act that had been in place since 1973 paving the way to the introduction of multi-party politics. In 1991 the first ever multi-party election took place and President Kaunda suffered a humiliating defeat from Frederick Chiluba, In Malawi, the introduction of multi-party politics saw the exit of the dictator Kamuza Banda. Multi-party elections took place in Angola, Mozambique, Uganda, Kenya and Namibia. The demise of single party political regimes in Southern Africa was a consequence of the decline of Soviet-style “communism” in Eastern [Europe] initiated by the Russian President Gorbachov.

The dawn of multi-party[ism] led to the emergence of ethnic and tribal antagonism between contending political parties. In South Africa there developed a political schism between Inkarta led by Buthelezi in Natal (a Ngoni homeland) and the broad policies of the ANC.  When Mandela retired from the presidency - after serving only a single term - he was succeeded by Mbeki who became embroiled in the politic of Zimbabwe where President Robert  Mugabe had started to confiscate white owned land. Mbeki was handed a vote of confidence by the ANC and was succeeded by Peresident Nelson Zuma.

In South Africa the majority Africans are still poor in contrast to the minority white population. Youth unemployment, illiteracy, and income inequalities exist and racial animosity between African and white settlers has not been completely eradicated.

We in the World Socialist Movement have appreciated one thing from Nelson Mandela  - his sincere political devotion to the ideals of a non-racial and multi-ethnic and intellectual convictions....

Kephas Mulenga 

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