How ANC pur­sued the lib­er­a­tion Strug­gle

The Star Early Edition - - INSIDE - KHAYA KOKO khaya.koko@inl.co.za

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.”

@khayakoko88

What was im­por­tant was that I must not be a sell-out

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