South Africa’s Struggle For Liberation: The Intrigues

Published on 6th June 2018

The 1980’s was an interesting period in the South African struggle for liberation. Information was leaked that the ANC had planned to deal harshly with the PAC and Azapo in a “free” South Africa. For those who are not familiar with South African organisations that were involved in the struggle for liberation, Azapo is a Black Consciousness Movement formation.

During that time it was not widely known that the ANC had been holding secret talks with apartheid government officials, the Broederbond, South Africa’s spy agency and captains of industry. I use the phrase “not widely known” because PAC political prisoners on Robben Island such as Jafta Masemola and Zeph Mothopeng knew that Nelson Mandela was up to something because he would  be taken from Robben Island from time to time for long periods of time and brought back. When apartheid authorities realised that Mandela’s escapades raised eyebrows, they removed him permanently from Robben Island in 1981 and took him to Pollsmore Prison and eventually to Victor Verster Prison where he lived alone in the house that was previously occupied by the head of that prison with access to a cook, visitors, phone, fax and a television set.

Masemola was incarcerated on Robben Island before Mandela and his ANC comrades were jailed on Robben Island and knew a lot about all of them. That is what made him dangerous in the eyes of the apartheid government and its imperialist sponsors who brokered the secret negotiations between the apartheid government officials and the ANC. Masemola got in trouble with white prison officials and was locked up in solitary confinement.

The ANC spent the better part of its existence undermining the PAC after its founding in 1959 and the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) after its formation in the late 1960’s. When the UN honoured Sobukwe, the ANC staged a walkout. In his book, Preparing for Power: Oliver Tambo Speaks published in 1987, former ANC President Oliver Tambo wrote that the PAC was a separatist Black Nationalist organisation whose complete demise the ANC would welcome. He observed that the ANC was not interested to unite with an organisation like that. Yet in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela writes that the PAC was not interested in unity. One of them was not telling the truth. The title of Tambo’s book Preparing for Power is interesting considering that it was published in 1987 and in 1985 he appeared in a photo with Gavin Relly and Kenneth Kaunda during the time the ANC was engaged in secret talks alluded to in the foregoing paragraphs.

The undermining of the PAC continued in exile from 1960 to date. When members of the Black Consciousness Movement went to exile in the 1970’s, they also caught the wrath of the ANC. The first casualty of this intense loathing was Onkgopotse Tiro. His killers have not been brought to book. A former apartheid spy, Craig Williamson caused the death of Steve Biko in 1977 through information he gathered from the ANC he had infiltrated.

ANC leaders bad-mouthed the PAC and its leaders the same way they disparaged the BCM and its leaders. According to ANC leaders the PAC was a racist organisation that was a creation of the CIA. We now know that the CIA and the British spy agency MI6 facilitated the secret talks between the ANC and apartheid government officials and that MI6 had its presence in the ANC during the latter’s exile years. In his recently published book Spy: Uncovering Craig Williamson which I reviewed for the Sunday Independent a few months back, Jonathan Ancer reveals how ANC leaders such as Aziz Pahad, Mbeki, Maharaj and many others defended Craig Williamson before his cover was blown. They stopped labelling Biko a CIA agent after he was killed by the South Africa government because their allegations were ridiculous.

In 1998, the ANC’s publicity department headed by Pallo Jordan, Ronnie Mamoepa and others published a propaganda booklet titled The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania: A viable alternative or a flat spare-tyre? In this booklet, they disparaged the PAC. I responded to this booklet in the Sowetan. The ANC government continues to use state organs such as NIA to destroy the PAC from 1994. If they say the BCM was chauvinistic and racist, why did they honour Biko last year on Sharpeville Day? BCM members who joined the ANC after the 1976 uprisings were purged in addition to being subjected to Winnie Madikizela Mandela’s necklacing, a gruesome method of putting a petrol soaked tyre around a victim’s neck and setting it alight.

The ANC campaigned for about three decades for de-recognition of the PAC at the Organisation of African Unity and other multilateral organisations such as the UN, Non Aligned Movement and others and successfully blocked the recognition and membership of the Black Consciousness Movement of Azania from those multilateral organisations.

This shabby treatment of the PAC and BCM by the ANC was in preparation for setting the stage for selling out and not expecting to account for their treachery. It is the same situation as that of Europeans/whites dehumanising Africans in order to justify their enslavement and other forms oppression and discrimination.

There is a story the South African mainstream media downplayed and killed. It is the story of Nelson Mandela being labelled an MI6 agent whose association with the British spy agency is reported to go back to his attorney days. Has anybody wondered why during his 1962 tour of the African continent for drumming up support for the ANC, Mandela ended up in Britain when he had left the country clandestinely or illegally, according to the apartheid government statutes? Mandela left South Africa and voluntarily returned and got captured, something that infuriated Mr Govan Mbeki. This information is from David James Smith’s book Young Mandela which I reviewed for the Sowetan in 2010.

Two books, The Big Breach by Richard Tomlinson and MI6: Fifty Years of Special Operations by Stephen Dorril reveal that Mandela was an MI6 agent. Mandela came back but the South African government prevented Robert Sobukwe from leaving the country even on an exit permit the way they feared him. He was not easy meat like Mandela and his comrades in the ANC. He was formidable. For the apartheid government and his opponents, he was as impregnable. Sobukwe was so uncompromising in his fight against white supremacy, colonialism, imperialism and capitalism that to have expected him to compromise was like getting blood out of a stone.

The ANC and its leaders have a lot of explaining to do. They can’t pretend everything is hunky-dory without renouncing their statements and forswearing their treacherous past.

By Sam Ditshego

An independent researcher and member of PAC.


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