How ANC pursued the liberation Struggle
CHARLES Nqakula’s new book – The People’s War: Reflections of an ANC Cadre, underscores how the ANC viewed the anti-apartheid movement as a war fought by all sectors of society.
The book is an insight into the multifaceted nature of how the liberation Struggle was pursued by the ANC through the eyes of one of its lesser known but long-serving cadres.
This multifaceted approach to fighting a repressive regime is perfectly encapsulated by Nqakula’s former comrade and colleague in journalism, Thami Mazwai, who features prominently in the book.
Mazwai, who had a distinguished career in journalism spanning more than two decades, told The Star he joined the Union of Black Journalists (UBJ) and its successor, the Writers Association of South Africa (Wasa) – both formed at the height of Black Consciousness in the 1970s – because the struggle for black liberation had to be present in various societal sectors.
“The UBJ and the Writers Association of South Africa were a phalanx of blackled organisations that were resisting oppression. All of us, in our own way, were interpreting the Struggle in terms of our respective professions,” Mazwai explained.
“As journalists, I believe we took the correct decision because – in journalism – any story has got its own context. And every journalist should have a world view. So, the reigning world view at the time was that there was nothing wrong with apartheid – the ANC and PAC were known as terrorist organisations. And, we had to correct that context.”
Nqakula’s book reveals how he spent a few years exiled in Lesotho, where he chaired the Regional Politico-Military Committee (RPMC).
The RPMCs were charged with co-ordinating political and military activities in their areas of responsibility.
As a chairperson, Nqakula writes in his book how he would “persuade” young activists from South Africa crossing into the Mountain Kingdom to pursue tertiary education in order to make them well-rounded cadres.
One of these cadres was Ndyebo Nase, who Nqakula wanted to incorporate in the ANC’s intelligence structures but “was keen for Nase to enrol at the National University of Lesotho to complete his tertiary education while doing intelligence work for the ANC”.
Interestingly, Nase told The Star he was not really keen on school when he first arrived in Lesotho in January 1985, as he had already dropped out of the University of Fort Hare and the former Transkei University.
“But later on, I realised how the leadership of the ANC was looking ahead in terms of what capacities the country would require in the long term, which is why I continued with my studies.”
He began studying at the National University of Lesotho in August 1985, graduating with a BA degree majoring in mathematics and econometrics and travelled to the US to read for his masters.
The apartheid regime, according to the book, imposed an economic blockade on Lesotho in January 1986, the aim of which was to “foment hostility against Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan’s government and cause instability”.
Indeed, on January 20, 1986 , the head of the Lesotho Defence Force, Major-General Metsing Lekhanya, toppled Jonathan’s government in a military coup.
However, Nase said the dangers attendant on the apartheid government’s interference and raids on neighbouring states sheltering ANC activists did not faze him because “it was all about the cause – like a religious calling”.
His views were echoed by Mazwai, who said UBJ-aligned black journalists had to form a new movement – Wasa – in 1977 after the banning of all Black Consciousness movements following the killing of Steve Bikoin order to continue fighting the regime through exposing its oppression, regardless of the danger.
“We were all in the liberation Struggle and we knew that some of us would be asked to pay the ultimate price, which Steve Biko did.
“So, what would happen to me was secondary. What was important was that I must not be a sell-out.”
What was important was that I must not be a sell-out