Number. 39, 2nd Quarter 2013

Editorial Comment

The future is youthful, the future is revolutionary!

The struggle for a better society spans generations, with each generation called upon by the demands or challenges of its age to carry out its 'generational mandate'.

The catastrophic 1913 Native Land Act was a final nail in the coffin that buried our economic independence and freedom. The then Secretary General of the ANC, Sol Plaatjie captured the impact of this piece of legislation succinctly when he said ‘Awaking on Friday morning, June 20, 1913, the South African Native found himself, not actually a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth'.

The codification of this robbery amongst others thrusted the generations of youth of 1944; 1976 and 1980's to correctly identified the challenges and tasks they had to confront.

Once again our youth are faced with the obligation to identify the challenges and tasks they confront.

Propelled by the basic human urge to be free, these generations of young men and women rose to the occasion and led the way in a disciplined and dedicated manner.

Today as we look back at that era we can, with hindsight, confidently say that those generations ably responded to the imperatives of their time. Indeed we can, aided by the vantage of history, state that those generations defined for themselves lifes purpose and set about fulfilling it.

Unity, vision and adherence to principles were the mortar and bricks that built those generations into the mighty force that helped to bring us the freedom we enjoy today.

Each succeeding generation faces the responsibility carefully to study its political, social and economic conditions, accordingly to set its own agenda, so that it can contribute to a better human condition. Our current generation of young people owes it to history to protect and champion the ideals of social justice, an abiding culture of human rights, and a humane, just and equitable social order.

However, this is not possible outside the organization. Our point of departure must be the renewal and rebuilding of our movement, the African National Congress.

Today we must work double hard to restore the culture and traditions that earned this movement pride amongst the majority of this country.

What are the characteristics required of the present generation to measure up to the challenges faced by our democratic order? Importantly, how does the current generation ensure continued contribution to the systematic national effort to undo the pervasive social reality spawned by apartheid?

As young people today we must commit ourselves to the following amongst others:

We salute those among the youth who are playing an important role, in the different sectors of our society, to contribute to the progressive transformation of our society and the country.

Together, through what we do practically, we must communicate the message to the youth of our country that we mean it when we say the future belongs to them. This must be a better future of hope and not a future of despair.

A century of the notorious 1913 Land Act

The Natives' Land Act, which stripped the South African people of their birthright, was the foundation on which the edifice of apartheid was to be built. It will therefore not be possible to eradicate the legacy of apartheid without implementing effective land redistribution and reform, writes Kgolane Alfred Rudolph Phala.

It is now a century since the passing of the diabolical Natives' Land Act by the Union Parliament in 1913. The objects of the Act were, "to make further provision as to the purchase and leasing of land by natives and other persons in the several parts of the Union and for other purposes in connection with the ownership and occupation of land by natives and other persons." The Act was intended to legalise and legitimise into statute the massive land robbery starting with settler colonialism itself and the wars of resistance and dispossession.

For a period of 250 years the indigenous African people had been fighting spear in hand against mounted gunmen over land, cattle and freedom. The notorious Act was intended to make law what had already been done by blood, death and sweat. The Act ensured that Africans lost ownership and control of their ancestral land to white settlers. It was intended to confirm what had been achieved with the defeat of the wars of resistance and dispossession. The Act was the cornerstone of separate development.

In its submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1996, the ANC said that, "it is necessary to emphasise that formal apartheid was preceded by a sustained period of dispossession, denial and subordination. The process of colonial conquest in South Africa lasted for over two centuries; from the destruction of Khoisan communities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, through the bloody century of warfare in the present day Eastern Cape Province, to the military defeats further north in the late nineteenth century. Modern South Africa was built on the foundations of conquered territories, captive peoples, scorched earth and shattered sovereignties."(ANC 1996: 21)

"From the time of the first white settlement, established by the Dutch East India Company over 300 years ago, the pattern was set for the ruthless exploitation of the black people of our country, the seizure of their lands and the enforced harnessing of their labour power. The Dutch made war on the Khoi people of the Cape, whom they contemptuously called ‘Hottentots', and rejected their appeals for peace and friendship. The San people, the so-called ‘bushmen', were all but exterminated. Slaves were imported from Malaya and elsewhere. White settlers gradually penetrated into the interior. They drove the indigenous people from the best farm lands and seized their cattle. They subdued them by armed conquest and forced them into their service - at first through direct slavery, later through a harsh system of pass laws and taxation." (SACP 1989: 13) This is how the land, cattle and freedom of the indigenous people was taken.

"Prior to colonial conquest, the indigenous peoples had developed their own independent culture and civilisation. They mined and smelted iron, copper and other metals and fashioned them into useful implements. Their system of extensive agriculture and livestock breeding was well-suited to the type of country and tools at their disposal. Private property in land was unknown, food and shelter were freely shared, even with strangers. But when the colonists began their ceaseless acts of armed aggression, the African people resisted bravely to defend their cattle and their land from robbery and their people from enslavement. They took up the spear against the bullets of the invader with his horses and wagons."(SACP 1989: 13-14) These are the historical roots and origins of colonialism of a special type, apartheid and the notorious 1913 Land Act.


The Act was intended to legalise the land robbery that had been taking place in the country for a period of more than two centuries. Such dastardly robbery started with the systematic extermination of the Khoikhoi and San who had peopled the Cape for millennia. The white settlers initially related and battered with them, but they mistook their hospitality and ubuntu for cowardice and weakness. They attacked and decimated them with horrible brutality and inhumanity. They took their land and livestock, and turned most into vagrants and slaves.

Such bloody land and cattle robbery continued in the wars of resistance and dispossession against the AmaXhosa under Sandile, Makana, Cungwa, Hintsa, Ngqika, Sirhili, Ndlambe and Maqoma, and proceeded against the Basotho of King Moshoshoe, the Bataung under Moletsane, the Batlokwa under Sekonyela and Chieftainess Mmanthatisi. Such bloodthirsty and trigger-happy scorched-earth land robbery proceeded against the AmaZulu under Dingane, Mpande, Cetshwayo and Dinizulu, and continued against the Batswana under Sekgoma (Bamangoato), Sechele (Bakwena), Gaseitsiwe (Bangwaketse) and Mogale Mogale (Bapo). It continued against the AmaNdebele under Mzilikasi and Musi and the Bapedi under Sekwati and Sekhukhune.

After the discoveries of diamond in Griqualand-West in 1867 and subsequently of gold on the Reef in 1886, the wars of resistance and dispossession became even bloodier and more brutal. This could be seen in the war fought thereafter against AmaNdebele under Mokopane, Bahananwa under Mmaleboho, Bahlalerwa under Makgoba, AmaShangane under Ngungunyane and VhaVenda under Silwavusikhu Mphephu Ramabulana Makhado. The last such war was fought in the Nkandla forests against Chief Bambatha Ka Zondi in 1906. The 1913 Land Act was directly intended to legalise this massive land and cattle robbery that started with colonisation itself.

As evident from the above, "the greatest impact on the evolution of the South African nation-state was made by European colonial settlement. On the one hand, colonialism interrupted internally-driven advancement of indigenous South Africa communities along the ladder of human development. It resulted in the subjugation of the African population, including the Khoi and the San who were subjected to genocidical campaigns, as well as Indian communities and slaves from Southeast Asia and other areas. On the other hand, the advanced industrial base of the colonial powers which made such subjugation possible, introduced into the South Africa geographic entity the application of advanced forms of economic production and trade."(ANC 2007: 3)

The other objective of the Land Act was to declare the indigenous African people landless. The original inhabitants of the land who settled on it centuries before the European settlers could set foot on its shores - evident in the Mapungubwe and Mapela ruins and the BaPhalaborwa, Musina, Makgane and Gauteng mines - were rendered landless by the stroke of a pen. The original owners of the land for centuries were now landless people in their own country. Through this Act, 87% of the land was in the hands of the settler-colonialists.

Another objective of the Act was to legalise settler colonialism. Through this Act the settler colonialist was now the ‘rightful' and legal owner of the land acquired by force of arms, and the blood and death of the original owners. As the ANC's Morogoro Strategy and Tactics document articulates, "the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa was essentially an anti-colonial struggle. Beginning in 1652, Dutch and British colonialists waged wars of conquest against the indigenous population, to usurp their land and its riches and to establish an outpost which would act as a source of natural resources, as a terrain of expansion and settlement, and as a market for their goods. Great Britain finally established its colonial authority over the full extent of South Africa at the end of the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. African communities from the Cape to the Limpopo waged heroic resistance to colonial occupation. Despite being outgunned, they showed rare stoicism in many battles spanning over two and half centuries. However, their resistance was fragmented among and within various ethnic groups, and it could not stand the tide of superior armed force backed by a developed economic and political base of the imperial powers. The defeat of the Bambatha Rebellion in 1906 marked the end of the wars of resistance. Most of the white settlers resolved to make this country their home and, in their world view, an ‘independent' extension of the colonial metropolis. This found formal expression in the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910, when Britain ceded political power to the white settler minority."(ANC 1969: 48) These are the historical political and economic roots of the 1913 Land Act.

The Land Act was a cornerstone in the establishment of South Africa as a colony of a special type. "In the oppression, dispossession and exploitation of blacks, British imperialism and Afrikaner nationalism found common ground. This was the basis for the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910. In that year South Africa was established as a political entity with a centralised state power. These new national structures were based on the effects of centuries of colonial conquest and dispossession. They reproduced, in changed forms, the essential features of colonial domination that had existed before the Union of South Africa. The 1913 Land Act, confirming land ownership for the African majority to a tiny arid proportion of the country, legally entrenched and intensified the results of centuries of colonial land dispossession."(SACP 1989: 13-14) The Act was critical in the consolidation of colonialism of a special type within the territory of the Union of South Africa.

The 1913 Land Act was itself a worthy successor to a dastardly notorious piece of legislation passed in 1894 referred to as the Glen Grey Act. This ancestor of the Land Act removed all the communal land rights that the indigenous Africans had from time immemorial. It introduced individual tenure, which limited the original rights that the people had to the land and forced many off their land. The 1913 Act was therefore an intensification in removing the rights of Africans to their land and rendering them landless and property-less sojourners in the land of their forefathers.


The 1913 Land Act had a number of both intended and unintended consequences. The formation of the ANC in 1912 was itself partly a consequences of the 1913 Land Act which was already being debated as a Bill in 1911. The formation of the ANC was therefore also a response to the proposed seizure of 87% of the indigenous land. The early African intellectuals, religious leaders and chiefs who met in Bloemfontein on 8 January 1912 were well aware of the impending Act that was to declare them landless in the land of their forefathers. "The Act which was rushed through Parliament under these circumstances was to have far-reaching effects, not only on economic development and the evolution of native policy, but also on the ideology of African nationalism as expressed by the National Congress."(Walshe 1970: 44) Sol Plaatje captured the mood of the period well: "Awakening on Friday morning, June 20, 1913, the South African native found himself, not actually a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth." However, even without the promulgation of the Act the process of forming a Native National Congress for the entire territory of the Union of South Africa was on from as early as 1909. With and without the Land Act a National Native Congress was going to be formed in 1911, 1912 or 1913.

The Land Act was also the basis of a plethora of subsequent segregatory, divisive, exploitative and oppressive legislation. Once you had the Land Act in place you could now promulgate legislation to support and further implement it. That legislation included the Natives Urban Areas Act of 1923, which allowed local authorities to regulate and control the so-called influx of Africans from the reserves into the urban centres. This Act was further tightened by the Black Urban Areas Consolidation Act of 1945. The Industrial Conciliation Act of 1924 prohibited the registration of black trade unions. Black trade unions were emerging robustly with the Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union (ICU) at the zenith of its power. The Immorality Act of 1927 banned sexual relations between whites and blacks, which prohibition was extended to coloureds and Asians in 1950. This Act was further tightened and extended through the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1950.

The 1913 Land Act was itself tightened by the 1936 Native Trust and Land Act, which declared rural areas settled by the Africans in reserves as trust land. It initiated a process of betterment schemes and cattle culling mechanisms in African rural areas. It regulated evictions of the so-called undesirable Africans on so-called white-owned land.

The Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act of 1946 and the Coloured Persons Settlement Act of 1946 were designed to deny Indian and coloured people land and settlement rights. The Group Areas Act of 1950 consolidated these Acts and ensured that there was a racial geography in the settlement and residential areas. White settlements would be near job opportunities in towns and cities, while African townships and coloured and Indian locations would be designated farther away from mines, factories and town centres. Blacks would not be allowed to buy property or stay in white designated areas.

The Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act of 1951, which severely dealt with the blacks who came to settle in towns, was a legal descendant of the 1913 Land Act. The continuous process of proletarianisation of landless Africans led to unstoppable urbanisation. These Africans came to settle in the environs of the urban centres no longer as migrants but as dwellers. There was massive overcrowding. Conditions were inhuman and despicable. Sofasonke Mpanza was a leader of the squatter movement that forcefully settled homeless Africans on land. He was a brave and fearless fighter. His work forced the white municipal councils to provide houses and accommodation to the urban squatters. Selope Thema also bought land for the homeless in Springs, which location is still called Kwa-Thema.

The Bantu Authorities Act of 1951 initiated the establishment of bantustans in the reserves by introducing the tribal, regional and territorial authorities system, a forerunner of the bantustans. The epic rural resistance of Ga-Matlala, Witzieshoek, Zeerust, Pondoland, Zululand, Thembuland and Sekhukhuneland were partly a response to this descendant of the Land Act.

The strangely title Natives Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents Act of 1952 extended the existing pass system and further tightened it to compel all Africans above 16 years of age to carry a pass at all times. It criminalised the non possession of a pass, regulated the movement of Africans and declared urban areas lily-white. The pass system was intensified even further through the Native Laws Amendment Act of 1952. Forced removals of black settlements from areas regarded as ‘black spots' in white areas and suitable only for white settlement were enforced through the Black Resettlement Act of 1954. This Act was to lead to the subsequent forced removals in District Six, Sophiatown and Cato Manor.

The Transkei Constitution Act of 1963 was designed to give the first bantustan so-called independence. This was to be succeeded in subsequent years by the Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei acts of a similar kind. There was also the establishment of so-called self-governing bantu territories in Lebowa, Gazankulu, Qwaqwa, KaNgwane, KwaNdebele and KwaZulu, which had their own pseudo-parliaments and miniature replicas of laws and cabinets. The intention was to create dummy toy-telephones in the reserves based on the 1913 Land Act and particularly to stem the tide of urban movement by Africans from the rural areas. The implementation of the Bantu Authorities Act was further consolidated through the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act of 1970, the Bantu Homeland Constitution Act of 1971, Self-governing Territories Constitution Act of 1971 and the Black Affairs Administration Act of 1971. All these laws were designed to make Africans citizens of their own rural reserves, not of the Republic of South Africa. There was also the aborted attempt to establish black urban town councils. The 1913 Land Act laid a basis for this balkanisation of the country, handing the most and best land to white settlers and giving the arid and smallest parts of the country to the indigenous Africans. It was a foundation stone on which all other subsequent legislation dealing with land was based.

These various pieces of legislation were a direct response to the resistance struggles of the black people. Each law responded to the particular content and context of the freedom struggle and its intensity. Whether it was the anti-pass campaigns, the urban squatter movement, the rural uprisings, the anti-forced removals, strikes, boycotts, marches, demonstrations and stay-aways, the regime responded with even more ferocious legislation to stem the tide of the struggle.

Almost all the early freedom songs were about the land, such as Thina sizwe isemnyama sikhalela izwe lakithi elathathwa ngabamhlophe maba uyeke umhlaba wethu (We the black nation are fighting for our land which has been taken by the whites, let them leave our land); Sikhalela izwe lakithi lona elathathwa ngamagalanjane, uMzulu-Mxhosa-Mosotho hlanganani(We are crying for our land taken by the treacherous people, Mzulu, Mxhosa, Mosotho let's unite); iAfrika mayibuye (Let Africa return); and iAfrika izwelethu (Africa is our land.)

The apartheid system, which got solid backing in the 1948 whites-only general election, was another effort to stem the tide of the struggle. Legislation passed after 1948 further entrenched the Africans' loss of 87% of the land and consolidated its ownership, possession and control in the hands of the white settler minority.


In 2013 we must look back at the hundred years since this Act was passed, particularly on the land restitution and redistribution work of the new democratic government since 1994. The centenary of the Land Act must give the country and nation an opportunity to look back at progress already achieved and work that still needs to be done in this regard. The centenary must be used to spur the country and nation to redouble efforts to undo the damage done by the 1913 Land Act. The 1955 Freedom Charter proclaimed: "The land shall be shared among those who work it. Restrictions of land ownership on racial basis shall be ended, and all the land re-divided amongst those who work it to banish famine and land hunger; The state shall help the peasants with implements, seed, tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the tillers; Freedom of movement shall be guaranteed to all who work on the land; All shall have the right to occupy land wherever they choose; and People shall not be robbed of their cattle, and forced labour and farm prisons shall be abolished."(Freedom Charter 1955) How far are we from this dream? What progress have we made towards its attainment?

In 1994, the new democratic government passed the Restitution of Land Rights Act. One of the most progressive pieces of legislation is the Extension of Security of Tenure Act, which took into account the tenure of blacks on white-owned land. President Jacob Zuma articulated the matter on the occasion of the ANC's 101st anniversary rally as follows: "As outlined, the year 2013 marks the centenary of the 1913 Land Act. In 1994, we inherited this highly inequitable distribution of land ownership. Eighty seven percent of commercial arable land was owned by white farmers and businesses and 13 percent of arid land was in the hands of the African majority. We state categorically that the Land Act marked the beginning of all problems we face today, such as landlessness, poverty and inequality. Land was taken away from the African people in order to turn them into a cheap reservoir of labour. Overnight, people who had land and cattle suddenly had nothing, and lost their self-reliance, dignity and independence. This historical injustice must be addressed in order to complete our freedom."

"At the 52nd National Conference in Polokwane we committed ourselves to transfer thirty percent of the 82 million hectares of agricultural land which was white-owned in 1994 to black people by 2014. The ANC government is unlikely to meet this target given the slow pace of land reform. We have directed our government to urgently speed up the process through a variety of measures. The implementation of these measures will take into account the principles contained in the constitution in relation to land expropriation. We will replace the principle of ‘wiling buyer, wiling seller', which has not sufficiently addressed the problem, with the ‘just and equitable' principle when expropriating land for land reform purposes. In addition to what government has already done to implement land restitution programmes, our government will re-open the lodgement for claims and provide for the exception to the 1913 cut-off date to accommodate historical landmarks, heritage sites and descendants of the Khoi and San who lost their land long before 1913. The amendment to our laws will take effect this year. There will be special programmes to remember the injustices perpetrated under the 1913 Land Act. We appeal for cooperation between those needing land and those who need to release land, both assisted by government, so that we can meet the targets we have set for distribution and restitution."(ANC 2013) The struggle to give back stolen land must be intensified and victory must be made certain. The government, NGOs, political parties and society as a whole must work together to achieve the objectives articulated in the Freedom Charter.

This centenary must help to spur everyone to ensure that the next century is of a truly non-racial, non-sexist, united, democratic and prosperous South Africa. The task that must be done with all urgency demanded, is to redouble all efforts to reverse the legacy of this notorious piece of legislation. The ANC made this point abundantly clear in its 2013 January 8th statement: "We meet 100 years since the promulgation of the 1913 Land Act, which dramatically robbed the indigenous people of our country of 87 percent of their land, and turned them into pariahs and wanderers in the land of their birth."(ANC 2013) A non-racial South Africa must be able to fully undo the damage done by the notorious 1913 Land Act through its land restitution and redistribution policies and programmes. That work is not done until the landless have land, the homeless have homes, the destitute have shelter and land-hunger is banished forever. That is the work that must be done. The centenary of the Land Act has added the necessary urgency to that work.


ANC 1955. Freedom Charter, as adopted at the Congress of the People in Kliptown, June 1955.
ANC 2013. January 8th Statement of the National Executive Committee.
ANC 1969. Strategy and Tactics, as adopted at Morogoro Conference. p48.
ANC 2007. Strategy and Tactics, as amended and adopted at the 52nd National Conference in Polokwane. p3.
ANC 1996. Submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. p21.
Plaatje ST 1916. Native life in South Africa, London, PS King. p21.
SACP 1962. Road to South African Freedom. 6th Congress Programme.
SACP 1989. The Path to Power. 7th Congress Party Programme. p13-14.
Natives' Land Act of 1913. Assented to by Govenor-General on 16 June 1913. Gazette Extraordinary no 380. 19 June 1913.
The Thinker 2013. Evolution of freedom songs. January 2013. p43-45.
Walshe 1970. The Rise of African nationalism in South Africa. London. p44.

The beginning of a century of hope

The centenary of the 1913 Natives Land Act is not exactly an occasion for celebration, but it does bring our task into sharper focus, writes Gugile Nkwinti.

A year after he helped found the African National Congress in 1912, its first secretary general, Sol Plaatje, was confronted with the 1913 Natives' Land Act. He couldn't believe it. "If anyone had told us at the beginning of 1913, that a majority of members of the Union Parliament were capable of passing a law like the Natives' Land Act, whose object is to prevent the Natives from ever rising above the position of servants to the whites, we would have regarded that person as a fit subject for the lunatic asylum," he wrote.

In an attempt to reverse this "lunacy", Plaatje led an ANC delegation to England to engage its Parliament. He was rebuffed. This degrading Act became law, and remained law for 78 years. It dislocated black South Africans from the lands of their forefathers, and opened the floodgates for the apartheid legislation that followed. The dispossessed and their descendants were left landless and marginalised. The lives of millions were ruined, and the act caused such horrendous damage that 19 years of democratic medicine have been insufficient to affect a cure.

Yes, over 30 million have benefited from our democracy. Yet today, with some 12 million rural people, nearly a quarter of the population, continuing to live with poverty and its accompanying ills, our job is far from over.

The convalescence and redevelopment of these marginalised millions, and the redistribution of land on a fairer basis, has been declared one of five national priorities. Apart from humanitarian considerations, no country can hope to succeed in the commercial competition between nations while a quarter of its players are not taking part in the game. From this point of view, as Sol Plaatje suggested, the introduction of the 1913 Act was an act of madness.

In May 2009, the mandate of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform was formulated, guided by the Freedom Charter and the discussions and resolutions emerging from the ANC's 52nd National Conference in Polokwane, where it was decided that "rural development is a central pillar of our struggle against unemployment, poverty and inequality". The conference said that: "High levels of rural poverty and inequality inhibit the growth of our economy and undermine our efforts to ensure that growth is more equitably shared amongst our people".

On the land question, there was a call to accelerate equitable distribution of land, review the adequacy of post settlement support in all land reform programmes, and place the management and control of state land under one department. To give effect to this, the department was conceptualised. Its flagship plan is the Comprehensive Rural Development Plan (CRDP), which serves as the overarching policy framework for rural development and land reform. Its objective is social cohesion and development, which the strategy of agrarian transformation was put in place to achieve.

The CRDP is designed to motivate, energise, inspire, train and equip individuals and rural communities across the nation through three phases. The first is meeting basic human needs; the second is enterprise development, and the third is the development of agro-industries and access to credit. Effective new ideas are emerging on a daily basis. Following successes on ‘pilot sites' a process of cross-pollination and full roll-out is developing.

Land reform is an integral part of this programme. Land, and claims for restitution for the descendants of those dispossessed by the 1913 Act and other apartheid legislation, has featured in the national agenda since the advent of democracy.

During his State of the Nation Address in February this year, President Jacob Zuma announced the re-opening of the lodgement of land claims for those who could not, or did not, claim during the first window of opportunity. This announcement has two aspects, the first being the reopening of the lodgement process itself; and the second, the creation of exceptions to the 1913 cut-off date for claims, specifically for heritage sites, historic landmarks and opportunities for the descendants of the Khoi and San to claim.

One of the lessons that emerged from the first land claims process was that a number of people purported either to have no knowledge of the procedure or to be unable to understand the required process. To prevent a repetition of this, we will now print an explanatory manual entitled "The Citizens Manual for Land Claims", which will be published in all 11 official languages, and distributed throughout the country by the National Rural Youth Service Corps.

The department has been implementing this youth service programme since 2010. It is a flagship programme for youth development, graduating young people into agents of change for rural communities. The programme serves as the catalyst for rural development, transforming the lives of rural youth, and empowering them to develop rural areas.

This is a glimpse of activities in the department, activities which are very numerous, complex, and, I believe, imperative. Yet more South Africans should be involved.

To achieve this, we need to ask how we elevate the living conditions of the rural poor into a priority space in the average South African urban mindset? The answer lies in the centenary of the 1913 Natives' Land Act.

This is the opportunity to focus South Africa's attention on the plight of the rural poor. This is an occasion to call for a national commitment to cure this blight. This is not the end of a century of misery, but the beginning of a century of dedication to one another. This is not the end of the long walk to freedom, since none of us is free while any one of us remains chained to inequality and injustice. The walk continues, the road get steeper, the prize is national success.

Accordingly, although we observe the centenary occasion with due dignity and respect, we will also use the occasion to call on every South African to pledge to end maltreatment in rural communities and to commit to ending the humiliation of rural people, and the installation of dignity and achievement.

This is a worthy national cause, which all South Africans are duty-bound to honour. Apart from anything else, we owe it to Sol Plaatje.

How appropriate then that as the first act of a new century of hope, that South Africa's democratic Parliament should choose to have a special debate; the one that Sol Plaatje had hoped would take place 100 years ago. It signals the start of a new century; one that will aim to finally and permanently overturn all the unfairness and prejudice that Sol Plaatje devoted his life to opposing.

* Gugile Nkwinti is an ANC National Executive Committee member and Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform.

Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance

As it celebrates the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, Africa is well placed to develop innovative solutions to the challenges it faces. It has the means to invent and reinvent models of equitable growth and sustainable development that will ensure a harmonious future for the generations to come, writes Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

The African Union Summit of July 2012 adopted the theme for 2013 as Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance. This coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity and the African Union and the theme therefore also frames the yearlong anniversary celebrations.

This paper on the theme is a discussion paper, an aid for ongoing inputs, debates and discussions. It acknowledges that Pan Africanism and African Renaissance as a paradigm has rich historical, cultural, regional, gendered, thematic and sectoral dimensions, which are and continue to be the product of vibrant debate, inputs, praxis and research by all sectors of African society and the Diaspora.

The widespread discussions on Pan Africanism and African Renaissance must assist towards the promotion of African narratives of its history (achievements and challenges); the assessment of Africa's present state, capacities, opportunities and threats; and to develop an African agenda for the next fifty years.

Major themes of Pan Africanism and African Renaissance

Pan Africanism (encapsulating an African Renaissance) is the most comprehensive, ambitious and enduring philosophy and praxis developed and embraced by Africans and people of African descent. In its historical sense, Pan Africanism is the movement of African people against slavery, colonialism and racism, and for freedom, self-determination, equality and independence. It sought to achieve this through unity in action and the solidarity of African people and the Diaspora.

Historians thus trace the evolution of Pan Africanism back to the need for unity in the struggles against slavery, colonialism and racial discrimination, or even further back to the pre-colonial and ancient eras of great African civilisations that emerged through political and economic unity and consolidation to facilitate trade, wealth creation and common defence.

Pan Africanism and African Renaissance draw attention to the African contribution to humanity over the centuries and to the growing body of historical, archaeological, and anthropological evidence of the great civilisations of Egypt, the Nok and the Ashanti; the Empires of the Shongai, Mali and Monomotapa; the Royal Houses of Nubia, d'Oyo, Benin, Kongo, Kanem-Bornu and Dahomey; Abyssinia, and Mapungubwe, to mention a few. This body of evidence also highlights the contributions of Africa to human knowledge, to metallurgy, medicine and mathematics, to the creative arts and astronomy, to agriculture and architecture, to gender equality and governance and a host of other areas of human endeavour.

The ideals of an African Renaissance, a rebirth and regeneration, that draws on the past and on Africa's contribution to humanity, was articulated by Pixley ka Isaka Seme in 1906:

"The regeneration of Africa means that a new and unique civilisation is soon to be added to the world. The African is not a proletarian in the world of science and art. (S)he has precious creations of his own, of ivory, of copper and of gold, fine, plated willow-ware and weapons of superior workmanship. Civilisation resembles an organic being in its development - it is born, it perishes, and it can propagate itself. More particularly, it resembles a plant, it takes root in the teeming earth, and when the seeds fall in other soils new varieties sprout up. The most essential departure of this new civilisation is that it shall be thoroughly spiritual and humanistic - indeed a regeneration moral and eternal!

Pan Africanism and African Renaissance reproduce the rich diversity of different regions of the continent, expressed in over one thousand languages, different religions, ways of life and its many, many cultures. This unity in diversity, which forms a key part of the African collective identity, along with the involvement of Africa's people in their own emancipation and reclaiming African history and indigenous knowledge, are central to African confidence in its renaissance.

The unity in diversity of Africa also includes the Diaspora, recognising the impact of the slave trade on the continent's history, the proclamation of the first black republic in Haiti in 1804 and the contributions that African descendants and immigrants in the Diaspora made towards the Pan Africanist struggles. Among the initiatives that united Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora around the decolonisation project was the convening of the first Pan African Conference in London in 1900, followed by the convening of seven more congresses, with the last in Kampala in 1994. The congresses, according to founder and organiser WEB Du Bois "kept an idea alive; we have held a great ideal, we have established a continuity and some day when unity and cooperation come, the importance of these early steps will be recognised."

Pan Africanism and African Renaissance therefore incorporate the call for unity in action and the destiny of the African people on the continent and in the Diaspora. It seeks to achieve the liberation of African people and the continent from slavery, racial discrimination, colonialism and neo-colonialism through the political, social and economic integration and unity in action of the continent. At its core Pan Africanism is premised on the conviction that Africa's people together with the African diaspora share not only a common history, but a common destiny.

A further theme of Pan Africanism and African Renaissance is the link between political, social and economic liberation, and the emancipation of women. Scholars and activists have noted the scarcity in accounts of the evolution of Pan Africanism of references to women's contributions. As one writer notes: "One has to look wide and deep to find the women."

And yet in Africa's ancient civilisations across the continent women have played an important role, with reference to such names as Queen Ann Nzinga of Angola, Makeda the Queen of Sheba in Ethiopia, Queen Alyssa of the Carthaginian Empire, Pharaoh Hatshepsut of Egypt, Nehanda of Zimbabwe, YaaAsantewa of the Ashanti Empire, Amina of the Zazzau, Queen Dahia Al-Kahina of Mauretania in Algeria, Manthatisi of the Batlokoa, Buktu of Mali, and many, many other women that held responsibilities in our ancient civilisations. In a similar vein, women, side by side with men, fought and organised in the anti-slavery, anti-colonial and national liberation movements in every corner of the continent and the Diaspora. Thus, increasingly the struggle for emancipation also came to mean the struggle for emancipation from the second class position women occupied under different forms and expressions of patriarchy.

It was therefore not surprising that the Pan African Women's Organisation (PAWO) was founded in 1962, a year before the formation of the OAU. PAWO's founding objectives - like that of women's sections of liberation and anti-colonial movements across the continent - included the mobilisation of women side-by-side with their menfolk in the anti-colonial struggles and the struggles for women's emancipation.

The link between the struggle for emancipation of the continent and the emancipation of women has been recognised across the length and breadth of the continent, as these quotes illustrate:

"The emancipation of women is not an act charity, or the result of a humanitarian or compassionate attitude. The liberation of women is a fundamental necessity for the revolution, the guarantee of its continuity and the precondition for its victory." Samora Machel, 1973.

"We must understand how the struggle of the Burkinabè woman is part of a worldwide struggle of all women and, beyond that, part of the struggle for the full rehabilitation of our continent. Thus, women's emancipation is at the heart of the question of humanity itself, here and everywhere. The question is thus universal in character." Thomas Sankara, 1987.

The African Charter on Human and People's Rights, adopted in 1981, noted that the OAU Charter stipulates that "freedom, equality, justice and dignity are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African peoples" and therefore in Article 18 calls on all states to "ensure the elimination of every discrimination against women". The struggles of women and this strand of Pan Africanism thus laid the basis for the comprehensive position of the African Union on gender.

Youth and students too formed an important voice within the Pan Africanist movement, as active participants in the liberation and anti-colonial movements, contributing their energy, creativity and innovation. The Pan African Youth Movement was formed in Conakry, Guinea on 26 April 1962 to create a platform to rally African youth behind the cause of African liberation. The All African Student's Union was formed in 1972 in Accra, Ghana. Frantz Fanon is often quoted in reference to the energy and sense of destiny of African youth and students, when he said that each generation must discover its mission, which it must either fulfil or betray.

The approach to Pan Africanism over the centuries took different forms, but shared a common notion of a united or politically and economically integrated continent with its own institutions. The varied strands of Pan Africanism converged into the founding of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963. When the OAU was established on 25 May 1963, one of its primary objectives was to fast-track the total liberation of Africa from colonialism and all forms of discrimination, including apartheid. The OAU equally aimed at promoting unity, integration and solidarity among African states, as a means of securing Africa's long-term economic and political future. The objectives were stated in Article II of the founding OAU Charter as: (i) to promote the unity and solidarity of the African States; (ii) to coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa; (iii) to defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity and independence; (iv) to eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa; and (v) to promote international cooperation, having due regard to the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To achieve these goals, member states pledged to harmonise their policies in the fields of political and diplomatic cooperation; economic cooperation, including transport and communication; educational and cultural cooperation; health, sanitation, and nutritional cooperation; scientific and technical cooperation; and cooperation for defence and security.

Finally, Pan Africanism and African Renaissance are also underpinned by key value approaches which emerged in practise and struggle. These include the emphasis on solidarity, self-reliance and the unalienable right to self-determination. These values found expression during the decolonisation and national liberation struggles, in key continental documents such as the OAU Charter, the Lagos Plan of Action and the Abuja Treaty, in Africa's interactions with the world, and indeed in the Constitutive Act of the African Union.

The OAU's achievements and challenges

Pan Africanism and African Renaissance reflect the historical and contemporary roots of the continent: its ancient history of the rise and fall of great civilisations, its modern history of slavery, colonialism and apartheid and its resistance to these evils. With the formation of the OAU in 1963, Pan Africanism crystallised in the mission to rid the continent of colonialism; in the liberation and anti-colonial movements; in independence and the construction of its modern nation-states; and in the building of a Pan Africanism premised on solidarity, and on political, social and economic emancipation and integration.

Many historians referred to the form that the OAU took in 1963 as the product of a compromise between what was then known as the Casablanca and the Monrovial groups, established as a "Pan African framework for the promotion of cooperation among African states and the total liberation of the continent from colonial rule."

"For the Member States of the OAU, comprising of all independent African States, there was no dispute about the desirability - even the inevitability - of African unity. What was in question was the modality for realising it, the speed with which is should be achieved and the form that it should take. The OAU model was an attempt to blend commitment to ideals of unity with functionalist pragmatism, which involved a limited ceding of sovereignty. It was hoped that this would lead in the final analysis to a much deeper ceding of sovereignty.

"In the meantime, regional economic cooperation and integration arrangements and a host of institutional mechanisms were established. Unfortunately, African governments took multiple, overlapping memberships in these mechanisms. Many of the institutions set up defined functionalist ends. A few others had a broader remit as inter-governmental organisations of sovereign states performing a sub-regional role similar to the continental one played by the OAU. Significantly, whatever form they took, all the sub-regional cooperation and integration efforts were conceived as part of the broad movement towards the eventual unification of the African continent." (from Chapter 1, Report of the High Level Panel of the Audit of the African Union, December 2007)

How the OAU then went about to achieve its objectives, and the impact of the activities of the Union during the first few decades, has been a subject of both praise and critique. On the one hand, there is widespread recognition of the pivotal contribution of the OAU to the process of decolonisation of the continent; through its Liberation Committee lending support to anti-colonial and national liberation movements, and ensuring that on the international stage Africa's position on the remaining vestiges of colonialism was made abundantly clear. Its track record on working to create a better life for the people of the continent, on building effective, democratic and inclusive nation-states, on defending the sovereignty of the continent and member states, and on uniting Africa, however remains a matter of fierce disagreement.

The OAU evolved within a particular context: at a continental level, the consolidation and establishment of newly independent states, with a focus on indigenisation of societal institutions, nation-formation and development. It had to contend with colonial boundaries and infrastructure, and social and economic development patterns which bore little semblance to the internal logic of the continent as it had evolved over thousands of years. These conditions were therefore far from conducive towards setting the continent on the road to true sovereignty and a better life for all its citizens. The challenges facing post-independence Africa and its member states at the formation of the OAU were therefore immense.

At a global level, the OAU was founded in the context of a bipolar world with the escalation of the Cold War. In 1961, two years before the formation of the OAU, eleven African countries were part of the founding 25 countries that formed the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Thus, the founding charter of the OAU, cognisant of the dangers of neo-colonialism, reaffirmed non-alignment as one of its principles, alongside the principles of sovereignty and self-determination and became an observer in the NAM. Despite the non-alignment stance, the Cold War presented a major threat to African unity, with the continent as a major battle ground for the two contending superpowers, contributing to civil strife and conflicts.

The 1960s and 70s saw the intensification of the decolonisation process, with more than 20 countries gaining independence during these two decades. The issue confronting the new (and old) independent African states, given the myriad development challenges they faced, was whether state-formation, nation-building and development would be achieved as individual countries or collectively. Thus, what did Pan Africanism mean in practice?

The end of the 1970s saw a greater focus on the economic aspects of Pan Africanism, and the emergence of a strong platform for the economic integration. In 1976, a decision was taken to establish the African Economic Community and the Kinshasa Declaration of the same year laid down formal principles, objectives and strategies for the establishment of the community.

At the 1979 Monrovia Ordinary Session of the OAU, African states, recognising that the effect of unfulfilled promises of global development strategies had been more sharply felt in Africa than in the other continents of the world, adopted guidelines and measures for national and collective self-reliance in economic and social development for the establishment of a new international economic order. The Lagos Plan of Action (1980-2000) was a plan to implement the vision of the Monrovia Declaration, a bold and courageous collective effort to evolve a strategic Africa-led response to the complex development challenges facing the continent. It was a commitment to a path of united action, underpinned by a revamped agenda of economic integration, and was unanimously agreed upon, complete with a phased timeframe and agreed implementation milestones. Elements of the framework and action plan were later carried forward and included in the writing of the Abuja Treaty that came into force in 1994.

Shortly thereafter, the World Bank issued the Berg Report, which "was the diametric opposite to the (Lagos) Plan and the Final Act. It located the source of the economic crisis faced by African countries exclusively in domestic policy and political sources, blaming state interventionism and the attended distorted markets for the difficulties African countries were experiencing." [Olukoshi 2009]

The policy prescript arising from this analysis forced African states into structural adjustment that saw the rolling back of the developmental role of the state, especially with regards to agricultural, industrial and social development, cutting down on social expenditure, while at the same time having to deal with the heavy external debt burden. Within the structural adjustment framework, regional cooperation and integration was not a priority for the Bretton Woods institutions, and in fact was regarded as wasteful and undesirable. The 1980s and its era of structural adjustment programmes was therefore not only a destructive period for the developmental agenda of member countries, but also put a brake on integration initiatives.

The end of the 1980s saw the acceleration of what is now known as globalisation, with its revolution in information and communication technologies and the expansion and power of multinational corporations, ushering in the era of trade and financial liberalisation. This also coincided with end of the Cold War and the marginalisation of Africa in the globalised context.

The 1990s witnessed the resurgence of the African integration and unity agenda. With Namibian independence followed by the end of apartheid in 1994, the decolonisation project that formed a core mandate of the OAU was largely achieved. At a global level, the end of the Cold War also meant geopolitical changes that provided new opportunities and challenges for the continent. The process of globalisation saw greater liberalisation, but also a drive towards regionalisation as a means for countries to mitigate some of the negative effects of global competition and as a means to increase their collective capacities and bargaining powers. The Rwandan genocide of 1994 and the inaction of the world strengthened African resolve to put in place continental peace and security instruments to prevent the recurrence of such grave circumstances, and spurred the inclusion of a commitment to ‘non-indifference' in the AU Constitutive Act.

There was therefore increasingly a drive for the OAU to embolden its focus on social and economic transformation, towards the resolution of other conflicts on the continent, and with a renewed push towards unity and integration, so as to reverse underdevelopment and marginalisation in the world, ever-mindful of Nkrumah's words that Africa must unite or perish.

This process thus saw a reflection on the institutional mandate and capacity of the OAU, and whether in its current form it was able to take the continent to a new level. The 4th Extraordinary Summit of the OAU Assembly, convened in Sirte, Libya in 1999, decided to hold another extraordinary session to "…discuss ways and means of making the OAU effective, to keep pace with political and economic developments taking place in the world and the preparation required of Africa within the context of globalisation, so as to preserve its social, economic and political potentials."

The Sirte Summit again saw a robust debate on the approach to integration and Pan Africanism, but reached consensus on the need for Africa to embark on a transformation towards stronger unity. The summit adopted the Sirte Declaration, which approved the transformation of the OAU into the African Union in 1999, and the acceleration of the implementation of the Abuja Treaty, reinforcing the role of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as pillars of the prospective Union. In addition, the Declaration tasked the OAU Chairperson to follow up the issue of Africa's external debt and to convene the already established African Ministerial Conference on Security Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDA) to resolve conflicts in the continent.

Birth of the AU in a changing global order

The African Union therefore emerged as a conscious design to give new impetus to African integration and unity, towards resolving conflicts on the continent, a development agenda through adoption of NEPAD and the development of an institutional architecture that could support the continental programme. In addition, the approach was founded on greater participation by member states and RECs, the creation of the Pan African Parliament, emphasis on the need for involvement of civil society and popular participation in the project of African unity and integration.

Thus the first decade of the AU saw the decision to establish various technical committees, leading to the development of Africa-wide policy frames covering a range of socio-economic and political themes and sectors, with continental policy harmonisation and codification as a central focus. Over the first AU decade, initially starting with the debt reduction and write-off drive, but expanding to Africa's positions on trade, emerging issues such as climate change to more generally Africa's position in the world, the Union facilitated common continental positions, gaining recognition as the premier representative voice of Africa.

In addition, the first decade of the AU also saw the evolution of its Peace and Security Architecture (PSA), with its emphasis on African solutions for African problems. The PSA - although still a work in progress - provides the continent with the infrastructure and capacity to coordinate its collective approaches and responses and to engage with the rest of the world on conflicts on the continent. Although this process during the decade has had some notable achievements, there have also been setbacks and weaknesses, specifically with regard to preventing new conflicts by addressing underlying issues of exclusion and the challenges of post-conflict reconstruction.

The birth of the African Union was articulated as a process of working towards an African Renaissance, recalling the concept used by Booker T Washington at the turn of the previous century, which was subsequently broadened in conceptual terms to mean the exploration of alternative paths to achieving economic transformation and political unity as well as the attainment of a rebirth in the African world.

In more recent times, African Renaissance has become associated with African people (both men and women) and nations overcoming their challenges, thus achieving political, social, cultural, scientific and economic renewal.

In this context, the establishment of a just, inclusive and equitable continental and global order that can be achieved by striving to end violence, all forms of discrimination and poverty has been underscored. At the centre of this is the need for Africans to take pride in their rich and diverse heritage and culture and use this as a foundation for building a better future for the citizens of the continent. In 2013 it is important to popularise these ideas and enable all citizens to engage in robust debate and in action so as to contribute to the current and future development of the continent.

Lessons of African unity after 50 years

The continued existence and growth of the African Union, its organs and policy framework, despite setbacks and challenges, is testimony to the enduring appeal of Pan Africanism and the commitment of African peoples and states over successive generations. We must therefore celebrate this achievement and claim it as a significant milestone for the continent.

We should however reflect on the lessons from the first 50 years of the organisation to prepare for the future. Some of these lessons are:

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary, a stock-taking of continental achievements and key milestones needs to be recorded, enriched, debated and shared with the continent and the world at large.

An era of renaissance and a continent on the rise

Fifty years after the founding of the OAU, Africa is a continent on the rise. Progress on the political, integration and developmental agenda over the last 15 years has seen the continent posting some of the world's fastest economic growth rates. Six of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. There are endless opportunities for Africa to translate its abundant natural resource endowment into broad economic development. Africa's rich natural resources and other endowments, including its human resources, are therefore critical components in the industrial and agricultural developmental processes that should drive economic growth, industrialisation, trade and social transformation.

Africa also has a growing, vibrant, resourceful and youthful population, who are being equipped with critical skills that would be necessary to drive Africa's transformation. The ICT revolution has been embraced by Africans, particularly the youth, which has spurred innovative approaches to information, micro-finance and the mobilisation of rural producers via the mobile telephone. The rapid expansion of Africa's middle class is bound to spur developments in a range of areas, including the growth of aggregate demand, the private sector and the knowledge economy.

The continent has institutionalised peace and stability, good governance and accountability in many countries through the African Governance and Peace Architectures. By 2012, 33 countries had participated in the African Peer Review Mechanism. Close to 90% of countries in Africa have enjoyed sustained peace and stability during the decade, and continue to do so. At the same time, the continent is continually strengthening its capacity to deal with conflicts.

Indeed the start of new millennium has seen the reawakening of discourse and action on African development and continental renewal. While this has been more prominently articulated by a new corps of African leaders, this development also reflects a new consciousness among Africa's intellectuals and other sectors of civil society. The common continental objective is to define a trajectory for Africa to extricate itself from the status of developmental laggard.

The core priorities of such an agenda include: development of human resources through health, education and investment in science, technology and innovation; consistent and inclusive democracy; modernisation of African productive forces to aid its industrialisation and revolutionise agriculture and agro-processing to ensure food security; integration including through infrastructure development, free movement of people and goods to grow intra-African trade and investment; and the empowerment and participation of women and youth.

Like the founders of the OAU 50 years ago, we therefore say that today we look to the future calmly, confidently and courageously. This includes being mindful of the challenges we face, such as: ensuring a sustainable, transformational and inclusive growth trajectory; maintaining peace and preventing conflicts; and implementing the programmes which we decided are critical to Africa's development.

Africa and other regions of the world

We do know that during the 1960s, at the time of the establishment of the OAU, there was great optimism that the continent would perform well. Several African countries were on par or had higher GDP rates than their counterparts in Asia. The GDP per capita of Ghana and South Korea were the same in 1960.

Until 1975, the fastest growing developing country was Gabon. Botswana's growth rate exceeded that of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Thailand. Thirty years ago, China was poorer than Malawi. Despite this potential, Africa was unable to complete the transformation journey that Asia has to a large degree traversed.

This begs the question how Africa today compares with economic development in other developing regions of the world. A few comparative trends are worth mentioning:

These figures are important indicators as to how the Asian region managed their economic and development turnaround. It indicates that it is indeed possible for Africa to eradicate poverty and achieve prosperity within five decades.  

Towards an African Agenda for 2063

Africa's vision for the next 50 years, as captured in the Constitutive Act of the Union - "An integrated prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena" - presents a continent-wide consensus on where we should be heading to over the next five decades. Based on this vision, Africa aspires to become a new global growth pole; through the implementation of decisions on an African Economic Community with robust intra-African industrialisation, trade and investment, and with countries graduating into robust, inclusive and diverse middle-income economies, having eradicated poverty, achieved significant standards of living and levels of equality.

The AU Summit in July 2012 committed the continent towards the development of a long-term Africa-wide agenda that will ensure that we achieve this vision during the next few decades. The AU Commission, together with its continental strategic partners, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Development Bank (ADB), are cooperating on the development of an African Agenda 2063, with a view towards widespread inputs from member states, the RECs, civil society, all sectors on the continent and the Diaspora.

The exercise of developing an AU-wide Agenda 2063 is of historical importance, building on the experiences of such continental plans as the Lagos Plan of Action, the Abuja Treaty and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). It should galvanise and energise all sectors by providing a new drive for Africa's rapid and sustained development. It is an opportunity to provide an inclusive platform for stakeholder engagement, with special regard to the marginalised groups of women, youth and people living with disabilities, in the firm belief that this will be pivotal to the realisation of a better future for the majority of the continent's people.

The discussions on Africa today and Agenda 2063 should consider the positive and negative macro trends that are likely to impact on whether Africa will reach its goal by 2063. These include peace and stability, quality of leadership, state capabilities, higher rates of economic growth and improvements of quality of lives of African citizens and growing activism among Africa's intellectuals, media, women and youth, civil society and the middle strata. There are also negative forces, such as the resurgence of conflicts around identity and resource issues; unequal distribution of national resources; violations of human rights; democratic elections without political and social inclusion; the political economic of growth that is neither inclusive nor leading to industrialisation and economic transformation; rising inequality and social exclusion; and the issue of advocacy of Africa's position in the world.

In addition to these internal trends, there are global trends that are relevant to the discussion, among others the shift from West to East in terms of economic power, and the re-coupling and decoupling of global economic relationships including Africa's with other regions. A second global trend is the emphasis on democracy and human rights. The global negatives include the current financial crisis and the inability of the West to tame their markets and stabilise their polities; blatant interventionism in the world and in Africa; and the role of new economic actors in Africa.

The discussions on Agenda 2063 should therefore not only take account of the above trends, but also the impact of key drivers on African development and some of the projections for the continent and the world. These include the shift of economic power from West to East (and other emerging economies) while elements of unipolarity remain; the migration and mobility of production and how Africa can benefit and make use of this trend; the potential of major investment in Africa in infrastructure for driving an industrial revolution on the continent; the impact of the demographic dividend, the status of women's empowerment, a growing middle class and thus the exponential growth in aggregate demand; and the potential for technology to enable Africa to leapfrog development.

What then is to be done? The positive trends and the challenges call for an even more determined approach towards the vision of an integrated, people-centered Africa at peace with itself and taking it rightful place in the world.

Africa has policy frameworks and strategies in a wide range of areas. The challenge is to speed up implementation of those in a manner that foster integration and unity. This should include integrated and determined action in the following clusters of areas:

In evolving the African Agenda for the next 50 years, we must also be mindful of the statement by the High Level Panel on the Audit of the African Union (2007) that "there is no gainsaying that Africa is in dire need of accelerated continental transformation and integration" and the panel's recommendations on principal benchmarks for African unity and integration. These benchmarks were identified as:

Finally, a critical element of the positive trajectory of the last decade was the assertion of Africa's agenda on a global scale. The advocacy movement in this regard brought together governments, business, workers, women, youth and other sectors of the population. As elaborated in the NEPAD documents and AU resolutions, Africa's growth and development is in fact in the interest of all of humanity. Strategically packaged and coherently communicated, this message can in fact be embraced by the global community. Inversely, a slackening of such self-assertion can lead to a gradual global de-prioritisation of Africa's interests.

The African agenda must be articulated in a manner that recognises: (a) that the continent must take charge of and lead its own development, including finding the resources to kick start and sustain this development; (b) none of us on the continent can thrive as islands of prosperity; (c) that real progress requires a renewed commitment to integration and to the pooling of the sovereignty of nation-states in the context of regional integration; and (d) using Africa's comparative advantages to define terms of partnership with others rather than merely responding to outside agendas.

Africa is well placed to develop innovative solutions to the challenges it faces. Africa has its own genius, own shared values and resources, be they human or natural, to invent and reinvent models of equitable growth and sustainable development that will ensure a harmonious future for the generations to come.


The celebration of 50 years of the existence of OAU/AU and the theme "Pan Africanism and African Renaissance" provides the continent with a rare occasion to reflect not only on achievements and prospects, but also the challenges still facing the continent with respect to integration and socio-economic development.

The anniversary and theme should be used to build our vision of a People's Union, with dynamic interaction between the Union and its organs and the African citizenry and sectors. To this end, the participatory framework includes targeted stakeholder consultation. It will also require a dedicated communication strategy and focal points with members states, the RECs and civil society.

The African Union therefore calls on historians; workers in all sectors; economists, entrepreneurs and environmental activists; children, youth, the elderly and people of all ages and abilities; men and women; the diaspora and civil society; urban, peri-urban and rural inhabitants; trade unions, trade, professional and business associations; all classes and social strata; the religious communities; cultural workers and activists; intellectuals and academia; development and gender activists; grassroots and community movements; specialists in all fields and all Africans and peoples of African descent wherever they are to contribute to this critical debate with a view towards sustaining the vision and praxis of Pan Africanism and Renaissance throughout all segments of African society.


African Union (2002) Constitutive Act of the African Union, 2002
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Boosting Intra-African Trade: Issues Affecting Intra-African Trade, Proposed Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade and Framework for Fast Tracking of a Continental Free Trade Area, AUC/UNECA, January 2012
ECA (2012). Reflections on Africa's Development. Essays in Honour of Abdoulie Janneh. Addis Ababa: ECA.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
High Level Panel on the Audit of the African Union, 18 December 2007.
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** Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

The historical roots and evolution of the Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance

Unity has evaded Africa for half a century because the continent's organs have never managed to effectively integrate the Africa's regional economic communities into their programmes, writes Kassim M Khamis.

The African unity agenda has gone through three main stages since 1963. These are the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the African Economic Community (AEC) and now the African Union (AU).

Due to the difficult circumstances in which it was established, the OAU had weak Charter and ended up concentrating mainly on political issues - particularly fighting colonialism and consolidating member states' independence. There was no consensus among the member states on how to pursue the African unity agenda, whether by a unitary system or through regional groupings. The groupings were kept away, and even instructed not to pursue any political agenda by the first meeting of the Council of Ministers held in Dakar, Senegal in August 1963.

By the mid-1970s, economic issues were pressing and member states agreed to establish the AEC between 1976 and 2000. By then, they had settled on working to attain continental unity through regional groupings and subsequently decided on the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as the pillars of the AEC. The community was to have stronger legal instrument, treaty with some supranational powers; stronger organs with peoples' representation, such as the Pan African Parliament; a sound financial backing by an African Payments Union; a clear programme of work, comprising six stages, developed from the Lagos Plan of Action and its Final Act; and a robust continental institutional framework. In the process, a number of activities were to be carried out to facilitate the AEC's institutionalisation. They included preparation of protocols to complement the AEC Treaty (the Abuja Treaty), reviewing the OAU Charter to harmonise legal instruments, restructuring the OAU General Secretariat, inauguration of the Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC), devising budget and resource mobilisation plans, and identification and strengthening of the RECs both financially and administratively.

Unfortunately, the community faced many challenges and could not be realised as planned. On one hand, it took about 15 years just to get the treaty drafted. It was finally signed in June 1991, in Abuja, Nigeria. From 1976 the OAU was just formulating new blueprints that included the Monrovia Strategy of 1979, the Lagos Plan of Action and its Final Act of 1980 that formed the basis on which the treaty was drafted.

On the other hand, the community process also faced many other challenges that prevented its realisation. The main reason for the failure was simply the inappropriate execution of the community's implementation strategy.

Firstly, RECs were not adequately involved in the whole process - from the drafting of the Abuja Treaty to its implementation. They had, ultimately, to be attached to the community by a specific protocol that had its own defects, such as the lack of linking policy organs of the OAU/AEC to those of RECs. As a consequence, the protocol emerged as a mere cooperation agreement at the secretariat level of the OAU/AEC, African Development Bank, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa  and Regional Economic Communities. Therefore, RECs remained loosely connected to the OAU/AEC.

Secondly, there was misunderstanding on the relationship between the OAU and the community, the result of which the two institutions existed concurrently in a confusing way, as the AEC, with a superior treaty, was attached in a subordinate manner to the weak OAU and its Charter, sharing the same organs, budget, etc., but tending to operate differently.

Thirdly, and in view of the above, many programmes could not be accordingly executed. For example, the OAU Charter could not be reviewed, and organs like the Pan African Parliament and the Court of Justice could not be created, denying the African people representation in the continental affairs. Moreover, the drafting of the related protocols and the six stages laid down in the Abuja Treaty were unsuccessful.

Thus, by September 1999, just a year before the targeted time for the AEC to have been in place, there were difficulties in the creation of the community; while the OAU had become outdated and too weak to take Africa into the 21st Century. In the circumstances and in an effort to get out of the confusion, the African Union was created.

The idea to transform the OAU into the AU was spearheaded by the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. He had already led the creation of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) in February 1998, but later became impressed by the position taken by the African leaders, meeting in their 34th session in June 1998 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on the sanctions imposed on his country. During that summit African leaders called on the UN Security Council to lift the sanctions imposed on Libya, indicating that they would no longer comply with Security Council resolutions 748 (1992) and 883 (1993) on the issue. The sanctions had been imposed following Libya's reluctance to hand over for trial in the United States of America or United Kingdom two citizens who had implicated in the Pan Am bombing incident over Lockerbie, Scotland, preferring a neutral ground.

Consequently, when the Libyan leader proposed the transformation of the OAU, the situation was already ripe for change; and after some consultations, African leaders reached an agreement to transform the OAU into the AU.

Now, following the confusion that had emanated from the concurrent existence of the OAU and the AEC and the agreement reached in Sirte, Libya in September 1999, the AU was to be a merger of the OAU and the AEC into a single institution, the AU, under a single legal document, the Constitutive Act, into which RECs would be consolidated under one hierarchy and a single overall continental framework. This is in accordance with the three main instruments that established the AU, namely, the Sirte Declaration, the Constitutive Act of the African Union and the Decision on the African Union [EAHG/DECL.1 (V)] that formally put in place the AU. Consequently, the final objective and plan was to establish the AU as a new institution integrating both the OAU and the AEC, leading ultimately to the United States of Africa, as clarified by the fifth ordinary session of the Executive Council and confirmed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in July 2005. The AU was to ensure the realisation of the free trade area, the customs union, and the common market - objectives of the OAU and AEC - at both regional and continental levels under its auspices and in an accelerated way.

Unfortunately, the establishment of the AU did not proceed according to the strategy agreed by the African leaders in those three fundamental legal documents. Once again, RECs were not adequately involved despite the fact that the Sirte Declaration called for the consolidation of RECs within the AU; Article 33 of the Constitutive Act ordered the same by the devolution of all OAU/AEC's assets to the AU; and the Decision on the African Union stressed the execution of the process in conformity with Article 33 of the Act. This was in addition to the fact that the Protocol on relations between the AEC and RECs, however imperfect, had called under its Article 7(2e) for the Committee on Coordination to determine the implementation of the OAU's decisions on the Abuja Treaty, which were equally binding on RECs according to Article 10(2) of the Treaty. However, the Committee on Coordination was not convened, leaving the RECs sidelined in the process.

Yet, it is now encouraging to note that efforts are being made to put the African Union strategy on its proper course. The AU policy organs have already decided on the preparation of an African Union Strategic Plan to be jointly drafted by all AU organs, including RECs. Equally important, the current AU Commission's leadership has shown its determination to bring RECs and the people onboard; and that process has already started by consultations with RECs to chart the way forward.

On the 50th anniversary of the OAU, the following recommendations are advanced for consideration:

** Kassim M. Khamis is a political analyst with the AU Panel of the Wise and author of the book ‘Promoting the African Union'.

Young people and the Spirit of Pan Africanism

Africa needs youth that are ambitious, innovative and courageous, and that continue the struggle for the total liberation of Africa started by our forefathers by fighting for equality, freedom and justice, writes Carlos Lopez.

The spirit of Pan Africanism is a spirit of inclusiveness, togetherness and unity. As we celebrate 50 years of Pan Africanist history, there is every reason why we should include the young people of the continent. I am indeed happy to realise that some of the youth with us today will be there in fifty years time to tell the story of May 2013.

Kwame Nkrumah at the age of 37 was deeply involved in the planning and organization of the 1945 Pan African Congress in Manchester. Abdul Gamel Nasser, was a colonel in the Egyptian army at the age of 35 and became president at the age of 38. Modibo Keita at the age of 28, founded the L'oeil de Kénédougou, a magazine critical of colonial rule that led to his imprisonment for three weeks in 1946 at the Prison de la Santé in Paris. Frantz Fanon at age 2, wrote his first book, Black Skin, White Masks, an analysis of the negative psychological effects of colonial subjugation upon black people. Nelson Mandela was a founding member of the African National Congress Youth League at age 26 and was elected youth league president five years later. At age 26, Amilcar Cabral had founded several student movements dedicated to opposing the rule of Portugal and promoting the cause of liberation of Portuguese colonies in Africa. When he died at the age of 46, he had achieved more than many people do in three lifetimes. Indeed, when Patrice Lumumba was assassinated at the age of only 37, he was already Prime Minister of the Congo having previously led a long struggle to liberate his beloved nation.

In their time, these actors were a source of inspiration, not only for Africans. Their ideas and contributions continue to be a source of inspiration for us today. They were great mobilisers, builders, purveyors and believers in the ideals of pan-Africanism. By comparison, our youth of today are still struggling to make their mark and to have their voices heard in all spheres of governance and influence. Indeed the current median age of African leaders is three times the median age of the African population.

We can nevertheless also safely assert that Africa's youth have made an impact on the democratic evolution of the continent. I am not talking only about their role in the so-called Arab Spring, which by the way is a misnomer. Spring is not applicable to Africa and it was not only in North Africa that the youth played a role in stopping undemocratic practices at national level. Youth were also central to resisting a sit-tight President in Niger and to the general mobilisation that resulted in the changes in Senegal. Despite these seemingly great achievements, it is sad to note that even though young Africans are more literate than their parents, they are more unemployed with current education levels lagging behind that of China and India.

The key message however is that the energy of Africa's youth, and their frustration with current conditions, has to be channeled through right policies. Africa's youth are its future and the most important contributors to its structural transformation. Going forward, Africa, already the youngest continent, will also have the largest labour force in the world. By 2050, over a quarter of the world's labour force will be African.

The year 2012 marked the 300th anniversary of the birth of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, considered one of the most original philosophers of the Enlightenment. His seminal work on the Social Contract gives us a starting place as he considered the possibility of balancing the relationship between man and nature. Rousseau also looked at creating a society based on the principles of equality, freedom and participatory governance. Indeed the idea of a social contract, which he originally postulated from the theory of family solidarity and togetherness, is thought of by some as the core constituents of sustainable development. This concept of sustainable development has now become the last incarnation of the continuous struggle to balance the relationship between humans and nature.

The world has reached a point where we need an intergenerational social contract that not only seeks to continue the sustainable development agenda but also looks at it in the new dimension of a demographic imbalance; a young Africa versus an aging world. This is why a debate on the youth in Africa is so relevant. This issue is not only critical to Africa but to the world's continuous development as a whole.

Given this background, our collective challenge is how to use Africa's youth potential to build a prosperous and peaceful continent. It would require that we create mechanisms to give more space to our youth. The older generation did not wait for space to be created for them, but rather took it.

Don't tell them there are no jobs. The example of Asia's growth tells us otherwise. Don't tell them they cannot do science. India's growth shows that a developing country can train its youth to build a strong science and engineering base. Don't tell them not to dream. The growth of IT innovations in Africa shows our capabilities in the face of hardship.

Don't tell them not to grow. The business acumen of young entrepreneurs like AshishThakkar, Africa's youngest billionaire, shows that it is possible. Don't tell them not to ask questions. Indeed that is the only way they can provide the answers we need for the next fifty years.

We want a youth that are ambitious, innovative and courageous, righting wrong, and speaking truth to power. We want a youth that continues the struggle for the total liberation of Africa started by our forefathers by fighting for equality, freedom and justice.

In the past Africa's 52 million Facebook users, most of whom are youth, show clearly that they are up to date and well equipped to function effectively as part of the information and communications revolution. I have also very recently developed a social media presence and am getting used to the lingo such as ‘posting', ‘liking' and ‘friending' on my Facebook page. I especially like the word ‘LOL' which means ‘laugh out loud'. Indeed, while I listen to and enjoy the work of Angelique Kidjo, Salif Keita and Hugh Masekela, I do appreciate that P-Square and Sauti Sol have more resonance with our youth. I assure you however that those of us of the older generation can also gyrate to the music generated by young Africans. After all, we all have rhythm!!

** Dr Carlos Lopez is Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa. This is an extract from a speech delivered to the AU/ECA Intergenerational Dialogue on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the OAU/AU, 24 May 2013, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In pursuit of unity and cohesion

Unity and cohesion cannot be achieved in a revolutionary organisation unless cadres have an opportunity to freely express and constructively engage on differing views, writes Thando Ntlemeza.

One of the prominent quotations attributed to British Labour Party leader Arthur Henderson reads: "The forces that are driving mankind toward unity and peace are deep-seated and powerful. They are material and natural…"

Yet history shows that negative forces and tendencies which perpetuate disunity among the people and their institutions have been defining features of human relations in many parts of the world. Some people claim that this remains a reality. Roxanne Lalonde confirms this when she says: "The political and social climate that prevails in the world today emphasises difference, disunity, and destruction rather than the qualities of unity and productive and constructive energy that are required to sustain human societies."1

People who converged at the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955 made a similar observation about the situation in South Africa at the time; hence they decided to commit themselves to developing a unity-promoting programme behind which they would unite all South Africans. This programme was consolidated into the Freedom Charter, a document that would guide the liberation struggle for many decades. The values of unity enshrined in the Freedom Charter also find expression in the Constitution and thus form the foundation of our constitutional democracy. Like the patriots who converged on Kliptown to unite people under the theme ‘South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white', we must unite all South Africans in building the non-racial, non-sexist, united, democratic and prosperous society envisaged in the Freedom Charter. To unite people behind this vision, we need a united organisation.

Historicising search for unity

A mission to unite South Africa's people and build an inclusive society based on civilising human values was developed by our forebears - heroes and heroines of the struggle - who fought not because it was fashionable to do so or because they sought to attain material benefits for themselves, their families and friends. Instead, they joined the struggle to build an inclusive and civilised society, because they were not prepared to accept a governing arrangement that was premised on the exclusion and oppression of the black majority. In essence, these freedom fighters struggled for the eradication of the racial discrimination and oppression that prevented the majority of South Africans from climbing the political and economic ladder.

During the struggle against racial discrimination and oppression, the ANC attracted many freedom fighters into its ranks because it symbolised a unifying force and a collective voice against the evil perpetrated by colonial and apartheid forces. It was guided by a collective belief that a high degree of political understanding would be achieved when political organisations fighting against the system of apartheid colonialism forged stronger ties between themselves and the ordinary people.2 Hence, it rallied all democratic forces opposed to the system of oppression and exploitation behind a common vision and the programme of action which resulted in the demise of the apartheid regime in 1994.

Projecting an image of a united and cohesive organisation does not necessarily mean that ANC members are blind to internal contradictions. Nor does it mean that they are hell-bent on hiding challenges facing the organisation. In fact, they know that contradictions are part of the underlying reality of any organisation.3 Literature and practical experience show that these contradictions cannot be resolved by purging some members. Instead, contradictions can be resolved through a more intense struggle within the organisation that takes the form of robust engagements.4 This is an angle from which debate on unity and cohesion should be approached. In other words, unity-debate ought to be used as a platform for the organisation to devise ways to resolve internal contradictions with a view to unifying members and structures as a mechanical approach may not necessarily yield sustainable unity.

Why was the ANC formed?

The ANC was formed to unite African people in a powerful and effective instrument that would be used to secure their own liberation from all forms of discrimination and national oppression.5 Over the years, the ANC evolved into an organisation that embraces and champions values of non-racialism and non-sexism. It remains the task of this organisation to mobilise all the people in society who objectively stand to gain from the victory of national democratic revolution.6

The task of uniting the people and building a united and cohesive society falls on the ANC as an organisation formed to unite people in a fight against national oppression and exploitation. It united with the people's organisations through tactical and strategic alliances and cooperation arrangements. At all times, policy cohesion and organisational unity were the starting point. The constructive manner in which leaders and members of the organisation engaged each other entrenched unity and cohesion in the organisation. As a result, ours developed into a formidable force capable of leading the struggle for fundamental change in society.

Dialectics of organisational life

The basis for development of an organisation is an interaction between different components of an organisation.7 This interaction is inevitable in associations and institutions of human beings because by their nature human beings are unique and view things differently because of their different interests, traditions, experiences and understanding of issues.8 This is so even when human beings are members of the same organisation. However, human beings may interact only to the extent that they form part of the same whole in which each is as necessary and imperative as another. Dialectically speaking, any change is a consequence of interaction between parts of the same whole. In organisations and society, human beings are at the centre of interactions which cause change; hence Holz states that: "…human beings are not the helpless objects of a fatalistic historical process, but are always the active subjects of history..."9

Indeed, human beings are agents of change in organisations and society. So, why is the issue of dialectics brought into the discussion on unity and cohesion of the organisation? Well, the point of departure should be to ask a further question: What is dialectics? Responding to this very question, Sciabarra tells us that: "Dialectics is the art of context-keeping. It counsels us to study the object of our inquiry from a variety of perspectives and levels of generality, so as to gain a more comprehensive picture…"10

For purposes of discussing unity and cohesion, it is the ANC which is an object of inquiry. One of the revolutionary thinkers of contemporary times, Mao Zedong, said some people think that once people join an organisation they become saints with no differences or misunderstandings on the issues because of their mistaken belief that all organisations are monolithic and for that reason there is no need for any talks about unifying members and leaders of the same organisation.11

Contradictions occur everywhere in nature, like the forces of attraction and repulsion inside an atom.12 Organisations are no exception because frank and robust engagements within the organisation show that forces of attraction and repulsion inside the organisation are very much at play. Dialectical materialism teaches us that organisations reflect contradictions of a societal environment in which they exist and operate. On this, Sciabarra says: "Society is not some ineffable organism; it is a complex nexus of interrelated institutions and processes, of conscious, purposeful, interacting individuals - and the unintended consequences they generate."

Sciabarra draws our attention to the nature of societal dynamics which play themselves out in organisations. All revolutionaries are supposed to know this reality. Revolutionary theory which is an approximation of reality serving as a guide to action requires all revolutionary organisations to adopt this approach which according to Mao Zedong, "means being analytical about everything, acknowledging that human beings all make mistakes and not negating a person completely just because he has made mistakes."13

Mao Zedong reminds us that there is no human being who is infallible: "Lenin once said that there is no single person [anywhere] in the world who does not make mistakes."14 This means that making mistakes is part of human nature. Therefore, human nature dictates that even revolutionary leaders may make mistakes; hence a revolutionary organisation "…needs patient and prolonged training of leaders through the many twists and turns, the victories and setbacks..."15

However, repeated and stubborn mistakes of some members which bring the organisation into disrepute may be sufficient grounds for the organisation to act against the culprits.16 Be that as it may, dialectically opposing ideas and views are to be expected in ideological and policy engagements in a revolutionary organisation. Hence, advocates of mistaken ideas and views need not be negated. Instead of negating a person for expressing certain ideas and views, Mao Zedong says: "[we must] …wage a struggle to rid him of his wrong ideas [and] proceed from good intentions to help him correct his mistakes."17

What Mao Zedong emphasises is that any mistaken views advocated by members of a revolutionary organisation must be corrected through means commensurate with building members as it cannot be the task of a revolutionary organisation to destroy some of its members or leaders. However, mistaken ideas and views should not be confused with opposing views - which may enrich the organisation with multiplicity of views.18

Like all other social objects, organisations are (to a large extent) shaped by diverse views expressed within the organisation which views are (in many cases) manifestations of the internal contradictions.19 This means that identity, growth and development of an organisation largely depend on the internal interactions in organisations. Central in intra-organisational interactions is exchanging of ideas and views among members of the same organisation.

At the 60th anniversary of the South African Communist Party in 1981, ANC President Oliver Tambo (by extrapolation) distinguished diametrical opposites from dialectical opposites. In particular, he emphasised that, unlike diametrical opposites, dialectical opposites are mutually reinforcing imperatives of the struggle, thereby reaffirming a long-held view that struggle and unity of the opposites are the fundamental concepts of dialectics.20 Once people view an organisation from this angle, they would know and understand that only when constituent parts of the same whole are active and fully functional can unity and harmony within that whole be achieved.21

Relationships between constituent parts of the same whole are not always without challenges and complications. In the case of revolutionary movements, this relationship can be viewed as contradictory. This may be the case because, while leaders are supposed to lead the organisation and its members, members must ensure that leaders provide correct leadership to the organisation and its members. It is members who resolve those contradictions in the structures that cannot be resolved by the leaders.22

Given the dialectical nature of a relationship between members and leaders of a revolutionary organisation, failures on the part of leaders may also be attributed to the members. This may be the case because members have a collective responsibility to ensure proper functioning of the organisation. Only when they discharge this responsibility will members be able to determine if those at the helm are still on track. In fact, under normal circumstances leaders who are revolutionary in outlook would voluntarily subject themselves to performance appraisals geared towards ensuring that the centre is strong. Revolutionary theory tells us that if the organisational centre does not hold, many centres will emerge and cause confusion, information gaps and tensions which may fertilise the ground for factionalism to develop, grow and intoxicate members at all levels of the organisation.

Factionalism requires members to be more loyal to the factions than to the organisation.23 Hence leaders and members of factions are even prepared to act in a manner that threatens existence of the organisation they claim to cherish. Faction loyalists do not believe that revolution can be entrusted in the hands of the people who are not members of their factions. This means that factionalism produces members who regard themselves as ‘super revolutionaries' who are ordained to influence the direction of the organisation, even if their approaches have a potential of pulling the organisation to the bottomless abyss of self-destruction, thereby leaving the organisation exposed and vulnerable. Failure to decisively act against factionalism within the ranks of the organisation will pose a serious challenge to democratic centralism - a fundamental principle that is supposed to enhance the unity and cohesion of a revolutionary organisation. While it happens to be one of the forms of centralism, the principle of democratic centralism is different from other forms.

On the principle of democratic centralism

Democratic centralism is often associated with revolutionary organisations. This principle guides processes of decision making. While decisions in these organisations can be influenced or taken at different levels, the principle of democratic centralism guides that process. In terms of this principle, decisions of higher structures bind all constituent and ancillary structures of the organisation. In other words, all component structures, including those which may have held contrary views on the matter, must accept decisions of higher structures.

Some commentators argue that a rule which requires lower structures of an organisation to accept decisions of higher structures leads to lopsidedness and over-centralisation - which stifle expression of views and suppress dissent. 24 With due respect, this argument cannot be accepted. This is so because instead of taking democratic centralism comprehensively this argument overemphasises the centralizing aspect, whereas if taken together aspects embodied make the principle more democratic.25

Some people associate the principle of democratic centralism with "command and control structure". This view is very much mistaken. Democratic centralism embodies collective will and purpose - not commandism.26 In other words, this principle includes ‘freedom of discussion' and ‘unity of action'. The democratic aspect of the principle embodies freedom of members of the organisation to raise and discuss matters of policy and direction.27 The principle does not provide room for the use of coercive measures to settle ideological and policy issues as these issues are resolved through discussions and persuasion, instead of compulsion and intimidation. In fact, coercive measures are not only ineffective but are harmful to peaceful coexistence in the organisation.28

While democratic centralism may be beneficial to an organisation, excessive centralism must never be embraced and practiced in any organisation that claims to be democratic in outlook and orientation. Cautioning against excessive centralism, Slaughter says: "Any premature attempt to resolve the internal crisis, based on excessive centralism and factionalism, will have serious consequences for the revolutionary party."29

A correct balance between democracy and centralism is needed.30 The relationship between the two tends to change with changing objective conditions. As our organisation operates under legal and democratic conditions at the current political juncture, a pendulum must necessarily swing towards freedom to discuss political and socio-economic issues within structures of the organisation with a view to create a common understanding of the issues.31

Primacy of discussion in an organisation

In a revolutionary organisation, constructive engagement should be encouraged within the context of promoting internal democracy because only through open engagement will members be able to raise and analyse challenges of the time and devise measures that are necessary to address the challenges. When internal debate is neither allowed nor tolerated; some members may find platforms outside the formal structures and processes to express their own views. Once this happens, the unity and cohesion of the organisation will suffer most.

While a mechanical approach to unity may be explored as an option, unity discussions remain an ideal approach to unifying members and structures of the organisation. Through robust and constructive debate, human beings influence each other. This equally applies to members of the ANC. At all times, members and leaders of an organisation with a revolutionary outlook should be inspired by Voltaire who, in the spirit of promoting discussion and debate, once said "I disagree strongly with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Hence, our organisation must create a conducive environment for its members to raise their political views, albeit within the parameters of organisational discipline, something which may also assist to expose those who do not follow party political line. In this regard, we may be inspired by Lenin who was firm and sharp in defending the party political line and organisational discipline. However, Lenin did not defend the party line because of any personal ambition or dictatorial habits on his part. Instead, Lenin was determined to prevent his revolutionary organisation from being over-run by irregular troops of the revolution.32 For that matter, the party line must never be confused with views which do not signify ideological and policy positions of the organisation as history shows that some sacrifice the principle for their political survival.

What is to be done?

In pursuing unity and cohesion within our organisation, we do not envisage a monolithic organisation. Instead, we seek to salvage the multi-class character of the movement because we know and understand that in any broad movement such as the ANC differences are to be expected.33 Dialectics tells us that all human organisations and institutions reflect conflictual and harmonious relations in society. Despite this, ANC members must always be guided by values and principles upon which the organisation was founded - but without overlooking development of these values and principles with evolution and development of society.

While objective conditions in society may contribute to shaping the character and approach of the organisation to political and socio-economic issues, we know and understand that it is primarily the internal contradictions as well as the struggle to resolve such contradictions which determine the outlook and orientation of an organisation.34 Coherence and cohesion at ideological, political and policy levels remain imperative for the organisational outlook and orientation. For this reason, we must engage in what Amilcar Cabral referred to as ‘the struggle against our own weaknesses'35 with a view to transforming all the antagonistic contradictions that are manifest in the organisation into a diversified internal organisational strength and power - something which the ANC mastered over the years of its existence and struggle.

Challenges of the current phase of the revolution demand that political, technical and strategic capacities of the ANC be further developed with a view to strengthening the organisation to be able to manage and resolve contradictions that are manifest within the organisation and in society. Political education and training of ANC members remains crucial at all levels of the organisation as the strength of a revolutionary movement depends on quality and conduct of the members and leaders. This means that the key obstacle to the revolution may be a lack of cadres within a leading organisation in society who remain focused and committed to advancing the interests of the country and its people, instead of using the organisation to attain material benefits for themselves, their families and friends.

A revolutionary movement which lacks the breed of cadres described by the late Govan Mbeki36 as the people who are willing and prepared to sacrifice personal interest for the public good will be weak and thus incapable of mobilising all the people in the country behind the vision and the efforts to effect democratic and socio-economic transformation in the current phase of the revolution. Put differently, "…our revolution will only succeed if the movement continuously produces a contingent of cadres who are conscious, competent, committed, disciplined and conscientious."37

Because of this belief and understanding, our organisation has decided to dedicate the next decade to the task of developing a contingent of ‘conscious, competent, committed, disciplined and conscientious'38 cadres who (according to Lenin) are supposed to be tribunes of the people in challenging and uprooting social injustices wherever they manifest themselves.39 With this breed of cadres, our organisation will be able to resist any developments in society that may threaten to undermine its capacity to lead the process of fundamental social change.40

* Thando Ntlemeza is a member of the ANC Eric Moscow Lusaseni Branch, Dullah Omar Region and a member of the Western Cape PEC Political Education Subcommittee.


1 Roxanne Lalonde "Unity in Diversity: Acceptance and Integration in an Era of Intolerance and Fragmentation" (1994, April)
2 Nelson Mandela "Towards Democratic Unity", 24 September 1953
3 Andrew Narr "Dialectics: The philosophy of Struggle", June 2009 at p. 5
4 Andrew Narr " at p. 3
5 Constitution of the ANC, 1919
6 ANC Strategy and Tactics, 2007, at para 125
7 A. Spirkin, "Contradiction and Harmony" in Dialectical Materialism,
8 Hans Heinz Holz "Ten theses of Marxist-Leninist theory"in Nature, society and thought, Vol. 5, No. 3, 1992
9 Ibid.
10 Chris Matthew Sciabarra "Dialectics and liberty" The Freedom: Ideas on Liberty (September 2005) at 35
11 Selected works of Mao Tse-tung "A dialectical approach to inner-party unity", (November 18, 1957)
12 Andrew Narr at p.1
13 Selected works of Mao Tse-tung "A dialectical approach to inner-party unity", (Nov 18, 1957)
14 Ibid.
15 Micheal Velli (1972) Manual for Revolutionary Leaders at 41.
16 See Thando Ntlemeza "Choosing the best leaders to capacitate and legitimize the ANC" The Thinker, Issue 47, 56 - 58 at 57
17 Mao Tse-tung
18 See Thando Ntlemeza "Two centres of power is an illusion" Hlomelang Vol. 1 No. 15 (August 2005) at 5
19 MacGill and Parry "Unity of Opposites: A dialectical principle" in Science and Society Vol. 12 No.4 (Fall, 19480 pp 418 - 444 at 418
20 Mao-Tse-tung
21 Roxanne Lalonde (supra)
22 Micheal Velli (1972) Manual for Revolutionary Leaders at 41
23 Document titled "Conduct of a new cadre", 2000
24 Prakash Karat "On Democratic Centralism" The Marxist XXVI 1, January - March 2010 at p.10 -11
25 Ibid.
26 Ibid at p.9-10
28 Thando Ntlemeza "Finding a common ground in the midst of political exchanges" Umrabulo 32, 2010 at p.82
29 Cliff Slaughter "What is revolutionary leadership?" Labour Review Vo. 5 No.3 October-November 1960 at pp 93 - 96 and 105 - 111.
30 Ibid.
31 Ibid.
32 Cliff Slaughter
33 Thando Ntlemeza "Now is not the time to go it alone" Umrabulo 30 at 72
34 Andrew Narr at p.4
35 Address to the First Tri-continental Conference of the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America, January 1966
36 Govan Mbeki, The struggle for liberation on South Africa
37 Resolutions of the 53rd National Conference of the ANC, December 2012, at page 4, para 7.
38 Ibid.
39 Alex Snowdon "The Case for revolutionary organisation" 25 May 2011
40 See ANC NEC Bulletin, November 2005 at p.2

Letter to the Editor

The dignity of Umkhonto we Sizwe

It is necessary to clarify how MK veterans are identified and honoured, writes Hlaedi Khau.

It was in June 1961, after a long and anxious assessment of the South African situation, when Nelson Mandela realised an immediate need for a tactical change in the ANC's non-violent approach to the brutally violent apartheid regime to a violent form of political struggle, and initiated the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe.

I am prompted to sharply write this article and raise critical questions in memory of the fallen martyrs of our struggle for liberation, including Oliver Tambo, Joe Slovo, Chris Hani, Raymond Mhlaba and Joe Modise. These comrades were among the first commanders of MK.

Praise and honour must also be given in remembrance of Curnick Ndlovu, Looksmart Ngudle, Fred Carneson, Washington Bongco, Vuyisile Mini, Jack Hodgson, Ahmed Kathrada, Arthur Goldreich, Dennis Goldberg, MP Naicker, Ronnie Kasrils and many more comrades of the same status whom I fell short of mentioning.

It is in respect and memory of all this comrades that I felt very itchy to put pen to paper in provocation of serious discussions and frank questions on the issue of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA).

On Freedom Day this year I was attending a wedding ceremony of a son of the soil, an activist and committed ANC member in Kathorus, Ekurhuleni. It was a wedding of a real comrade whereby the tradition of a white flag that is normally hanged either on the gate or on top of the house to indicate the wedding as an occasion was replaced with a big ANC flag. I even jokingly asked if I was at the ANC rally or wedding because comrades were singing revolutionary songs and slogans.

While I was enjoying such a kind of wedding, some comrades between the age of 40 and 45 arrived wearing the MK veteran's black honourable jackets. Apparently they were from a function where they were honoured as MK veterans.

It was shocking to see some of those comrades with non-existent struggle credentials wearing the honourable MK veteran's jacket, when even comrades who are well known and have operated internally and in exile under the guidance and instructions of the MK - and whom I doubt would themselves qualify as MK veterans - are not recognised.

Many people like me began to raise questions about this situation. Alongside the question of what is the meaning of a "veteran", there was a feeling that we are beginning to lose and dilute our military and revolutionary history and undermine those who paid with their lives for us to be where we are. I believe we need to purify our history before it is too late. There are serious questions that need to be answered:

  1. How does one qualify to be complemented as an MK veteran?
  2. Who approves the appointment or nomination?
  3. Does age count or not?
  4. What is the role of the national structure or MK commanders in verifying that the correct cadres are recognised appropriately?

The sensitive issue attached to this practice is the confusion that is deliberately being created as there are ex-MK members' pensions involved. If we are not careful, this money will end up in wrong hands and the appropriate people may end up being prejudiced. One felt that this subject and this matter needed to be raised for the benefit of the dignity of those who fought hard for this democracy, to avoid the Sesotho saying "lefa la dithotho le jewa ke ba bohlale".

However one will appreciate a political education on this matter should I have demonstrated lack of information or ignorance.

Hlaedi Khau is an ANC member and former NUMSA official.