Kliptown – The gathering drafted a program that carried the struggle forward for 40 years, leading to the African National Congress’ ascendancy to power in 1994. Known as the “communist” Freedom Charter, the document called for a transfer of power from the white minority to the African majority through democratic rule and the nationalization of land and natural resources.
Ons is bewus wat met Kliptown gebeur het – indien oningelig, lees maar alles oor mandela en sy inhegtenisname, “Black pimpernel” was sy ander naam, asook die res hoekom hulle vir jare in die tronk was. Of was hy regtig in ‘n tronk soos ons dit ken?
Die ANC se Vryheidsmanifes van 1955 en die “vervulling van die ANC se sogenaamde Grondwet” na 1994 getuig daarvan hoeveel vryheid daar is, hoeveel aanvalle, moorde, misdaad en korrupsie onder die manifes plaasvind.
The ANC liberation movement and Freedom Charter 1955 – compare this with the “Constitution of South Africa”
On the 26th of June in 1955, Kliptown, Johannesburg, the oppressed people of South Africa who were working under the title the Congress of the People drafted the Freedom Charter to light the path to freedom. The internationally renowned Freedom Charter is worth reciting to remind the democratic South Africa about the ideals of freedom.
Here goes the Freedom Charter:
We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know:
- That South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people;
- That our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality;
- That our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities;
- That only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief;
- And therefore, we, the people of South Africa, black and white together equals, countrymen and brothers adopt this Freedom Charter;
- And we pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes here set out have been won.
- Every man and woman shall have the right to vote for and to stand as a candidate for all bodies which make laws;
- All people shall be entitled to take part in the administration of the country;
- The rights of the people shall be the same, regardless of race, colour or sex;
- All bodies of minority rule, advisory boards, councils and authorities shall be replaced by democratic organs of self-government.
All National Groups Shall have Equal Rights!
- There shall be equal status in the bodies of state, in the courts and in the schools for all national groups and races;
- All people shall have equal right to use their own languages, and to develop their own folk culture and customs;
- All national groups shall be protected by law against insults to their race and national pride;
- The preaching and practice of national, race or colour discrimination and contempt shall be a punishable crime;
- All apartheid laws and practices shall be set aside.
The People Shall Share in the Country’s Wealth!
- The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people;
- The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole;
- All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people;
- All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions.
The Land Shall be Shared Among Those Who Work It!
- Restrictions of land ownership on a 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;
- People shall not be robbed of their cattle, and forced labour and farm prisons shall be abolished.
All Shall be Equal Before the Law!
- No-one shall be imprisoned, deported or restricted without a fair trial;
- No-one shall be condemned by the order of any Government official;
- The courts shall be representative of all the people;
- Imprisonment shall be only for serious crimes against the people, and shall aim at re-education, not vengeance;
- The police force and army shall be open to all on an equal basis and shall be the helpers and protectors of the people;
- All laws which discriminate on grounds of race, colour or belief shall be repealed.
All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights!
- The law shall guarantee to all their right to speak, to organise, to meet together, to publish, to preach, to worship and to educate their children;
- The privacy of the house from police raids shall be protected by law;
- All shall be free to travel without restriction from countryside to town, from province to province, and from South Africa abroad;
- Pass Laws, permits and all other laws restricting these freedoms shall be abolished.
There Shall be Work and Security!
- All who work shall be free to form trade unions, to elect their officers and to make wage agreements with their employers;
- The state shall recognise the right and duty of all to work, and to draw full unemployment benefits;
- Men and women of all races shall receive equal pay for equal work;
- There shall be a forty-hour working week, a national minimum wage, paid annual leave, and sick leave for all workers, and maternity leave on full pay for all working mothers;
- Miners, domestic workers, farm workers and civil servants shall have the same rights as all others who work;
- Child labour, compound labour, the tot system and contract labour shall be abolished.
The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened!
- The government shall discover, develop and encourage national talent for the enhancement of our cultural life;
- All the cultural treasures of mankind shall be open to all, by free exchange of books, ideas and contact with other lands;
- The aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace;
- Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children;
- Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit;
- Adult illiteracy shall be ended by a mass state education plan;
- Teachers shall have all the rights of other citizens;
- The colour bar in cultural life, in sport and in education shall be abolished.
There Shall be Houses, Security and Comfort!
- All people shall have the right to live where they choose, be decently housed, and to bring up their families in comfort and security;
- Unused housing space shall be made available to the people;
- Rent and prices shall be lowered, food plentiful and no-one shall go hungry;
- A preventive health scheme shall be run by the state;
- Free medical care and hospitalisation shall be provided for all, with special care for mothers and young children;
- Slums shall be demolished, and new suburbs built where all have transport, roads, lighting, playing fields, crèches and social centres;
- The aged, the orphans, the disabled and the sick shall be cared for by the state.
Rest, leisure and recreation shall be the right of all:
- Fenced locations and ghettoes shall be abolished, and laws which break up families shall be repealed.
There Shall be Peace and Friendship!
- South Africa shall be a fully independent state which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations;
- South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation – not war;
- Peace and friendship amongst all our people shall be secured by upholding the equal rights, opportunities and status of all;
- The people of the protectorates Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland shall be free to decide for themselves their own future;
- The right of all peoples of Africa to independence and self-government shall be recognised, and shall be the basis of close co-operation.
~ “ONGOING LIBERATIONS”
After 60 years – Na 60 jaar
Freedom Charter’s relevance today
Some 60 years later the Freedom Charter’s goals have not been completely realized. Although South Africa overthrew the political rule of apartheid, the national wealth of the country remains largely in the hands of the capitalist ruling class and their allies in the imperialist states.
A struggle for total liberation cannot be achieved without the construction of socialism, which would seize control of the mines, factories, land and infrastructure for the benefit of the African majority. Capitalist relations of production in South Africa have stalled any widespread efforts to enhance the country’s economic development.
High unemployment, low wages and a declining national currency have prompted a nationwide debate over the proper course for the country’s future. This debate has sparked political divisions within the ANC and COSATU, although the ruling party maintains a comfortable majority in the parliament and most provincial and local governmental structures.
Nonetheless, until the rule of capital is replaced by workers’ and farmers’ control of the economy, the problems of economic underdevelopment, exploitation of workers and xenophobia will continue. Drawing on the heroic historic traditions of the South African people, the movement toward revolutionary democracy and socialism can only be achieved through mass political education and relentless class struggle, in conjunction with the unity and consolidation of Africa as a whole.
Azikiwe participated in a program honoring the Freedom Charter’s 60th anniversary on June 26 in Providence, R.I. He analyzed historical developments leading up to the Freedom Charter’s adoption and its significance for today’s struggles in South Africa and the United States.
Events that took place on June 25-26, 1955, in Kliptown, South Africa, represented a turning point in the national liberation struggle in that apartheid-dominated state. Several thousand people met at the Congress of the People, which brought together a broad alliance of oppressed groups. Africans, Indians, “Coloured” (“mixed-race” people) and progressive whites reiterated their determination to end institutional racism and economic exploitation.
This event was held in the context of broad-based struggle against apartheid and settler-colonialism in South Africa and across the African continent. The African National Congress Youth League drafted a “program of action” in 1949, calling for mass dissent against the system of racist rule.
Women activists initiated anti-pass demonstrations in 1952, which expanded into a “Defiance Campaign Against Unjust Laws.” The Federation of South African Women was formed in 1954, bridging the gaps among the African, Indian, Colored and labor movements.
The Congress of the People and the Freedom Charter emboldened the South African masses to continue their struggle for total liberation. A year later, on Aug. 9, 1956, 20,000 women marched on the capital of Pretoria demanding the abolition of the dreaded pass laws and other forms of apartheid.
Fearing a more militant, organized movement paralleling other independence struggles taking place throughout Africa, the racist regime arrested 156 leaders of the Defiance Campaign in December 1956 and charged them with treason. A four-year trial failed to win convictions. However, state repression intensified.
Then police opened fire and killed 69 people in Sharpeville in 1960 when thousands were protesting the pass laws, with some burning pass books, outside a police station. The apartheid state then declared a state of emergency. The then-banned ANC and South African Communist Party opened up a campaign of sabotage against governmental infrastructure by late 1961.
The revolutionary movement’s leaders were driven underground; many left the country for neighboring states and countries abroad. It took another three decades to gain the release of political prisoners and the ANC’s ascendancy to power in 1994.
Commission report on Marikana massacre
The 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter was commemorated in South Africa during the same week that the Farlam Commission issued a 600-page report on the Marikana massacre of Aug. 16, 2012. These events illustrate the ongoing contradictions in the post-apartheid society and the role of the working class.
South African President Jacob Zuma announced the release of the Farlam Commission study on June 25. It criticized the role of the police in the massacre of 34 miners engaging in a work stoppage at the Lonmin Mining facilities in Marikana in the North West Province. The workers were demanding decent wages and living conditions and improved environmental conditions surrounding the mine belonging to Lonmin, a British-based platinum firm. The report also leveled criticism against the platinum company and mentioned that National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega could be subjected to a criminal investigation.
President Zuma also cited the National Union of Mineworkers, formerly the largest union in the country, for “not exercising proper control of its members.” Another rival labor organization, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, was challenging NUM, an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions and ally of the ruling ANC, for dominance among the workers. Since 2012, AMCU has gained a majority in representing the Lonmin workers in Marikana.
Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa, a co-founder of NUM and COSATU, was not held responsible for the incident. He is poised to become the next president of South Africa after Zuma exhausts his second and final term in 2019.
South Africa’s News24wire published an article on June 26, noting, “The ANC commemorated 60 years of the Freedom Charter on Friday (June 26), less than 24 hours after President Jacob Zuma released the final report on the shooting at Marikana. The event was held at the same site where the Charter was adopted on June 26, 1955, in Kliptown, Soweto.”
The article continues, “ANC members and supporters gathered in a white tent at Walter Sisulu Square to celebrate the anniversary with some of the party’s top officials and stalwarts. President Jacob Zuma received a rousing welcome from the party faithful, most dressed in ANC T-shirts, who waved and cheered.”
READ MORE / lees gerus meer