Lovemore Ranga Mataire The Reader
There were mixed reactions when President Mugabe recently said South Africa needed to embark on a second liberation struggle as the country was fundamentally and economically still under white control.
It is not a contestable fact the attainment of political independence by South Africa in 1994 has so far failed to transform the skewed economic disparities between blacks and whites. The economic disparity has created fertile ground for the birth of the Economic Freedom Fighters party led by former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.
Of course, a minority black South Africans have climbed up the economic ladder, joining the coveted league of millionaires as a result of the ruling ANC’s interventionist economic initiatives. However, the figure of those who have meaningfully harvested the fruits of independence is still a far cry from expectation given the majority who are still on the fringes of mainstream economic activity.
“Apartheid: The Facts”, a book published almost 14 years before South Africa got its independence, illuminates on a number of disparities that the ANC government has struggled to redress. The book, published by the International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa in co-operation with the United Nations Centre Against Apartheid, gives a comprehensive picture of the racially skewed system and clearly shows how very little has changed in the so-called Rainbow Nation.
The book is handy in that it gives a historical background of South Africa leading to the colonial conquest by the Dutch, successive wars of resistance by indigenous Africans and the slow advances of the marauding invaders into the interior including the intervention of the British. Africans were mercilessly butchered by superior weaponry and ended up being taken as slaves or just cheap labour.
The establishment of apartheid was thus a protracted process but its effects were far-reaching in inflicting what afrocentricists would want to call “mentacide” on some indigenous inhabitants of the Rainbow Nation. But their forefathers had fought gallantly against the invaders and were more enlightened in understanding the immoral nature of the white man’s conduct.
Describing the resistance of the Khoi Khoi that the Dutch first encountered on the extreme southwest of what is now South Africa during the 17th century, the leader of an expedition which in 1962 established a colonial presence at the Cape, Jan Van Riebeeck says:
“(The Khoi Khoi) strongly insisted that we had been appropriating more and more of their land, which had been theirs and all these centuries, and on which they had been accustomed to let their cattle graze, etc. They asked if they would be allowed to do such a thing supposing they went to Holland and they added: It would be of little consequence if you people stayed here at the fort, but you come right into the interior and select the best land for yourselves…”.
The colonial conquest and mineral discoveries resulted in whites owning most of the land and the mineral wealth of the country, together with the total control of African labour. This is the reality that informs President Mugabe when he calls for a second revolution in correcting glaring historical imbalances that founding president Nelson Mandela chose to ignore.
The scale of dispossession of those who originally inhabited the country is partly evident in the laws by which land has been apportioned. Both the Native Land Act of 1913 and the Native Trust and Land Act of 1936 designated 13,7 percent of the land area of the country for Africans, who form 80 percent of the population.
The land apportioned to black Africans consisted of many fragments scattered throughout the country. It was subdivided, in terms of the Promotion of Self-Government Act of 1959, into ten groups of land areas, the Bantustan areas.
If Solomon Mahlangu, the first political offender to be hanged, was to wake up today, he would be most unhappy with the way things have panned out in a new independent South Africa.
Faced with the hangman’s noose, Solomon Mahlangu is said to have uttered to his mother who had visited in prison that; “My blood will nourish the tree which will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them and that they must continue the struggle. Do not worry about me but about those who are suffering.”