ANC & "Stalinism"

Louis R Godena louisgodena at
Wed May 29 16:50:51 MDT 1996

After reading the posts from Louis P, Hugh, Adam, et al., I went and dug out
my gargantuan collection
of ANC documents,  c1960 through 1991, including the monthly Sechaba,
published since the mid-
1960s.   Sechaba, it turns out, like many of the ANC publications, had a
line very similar to that
of the South African Communist Party (SACP).   The struggle against
apartheid is paramount;
socialism, while frequently discussed on a theoretical level, is reserved
for some distant, yet
un-named future.

This was a tactical decision.   The building of the anti-apartheid movement,
especially in the west,  meant deliberately soft pedaling any overt
references to socialism.   Communism
is never mentioned, though Lenin and the "friendship" of the eastern bloc,
especially the German
Democratic Republic, figures prominently throughout most of the period up to

Reading through issue after issue of Sechaba, the close relationship between
the ANC
and the SACP is striking.    For example, of the nearly one hundred
obituaries (usually
appearing on the final page of Sechaba) of that period,  fully 85 mention
the deceased's
membership in the "Communist Party."    Of the 50 or so executive councl
members of the ANC, fully 35
were known to hold joint membership in the SACP.   ANC documents are full of
references to
and quotes from Lenin.    Much of the vernacular is clearly marxist-leninist.

I now see the ANC of that period as somehow suffering from the crisis of
confidence in socialism
and how to bring that about in a nation like South Africa that suffused the
ranks of the leadership of
the SACP.   When Chris Hani came to the US in 1990, it was my good fortune
to be employed as his
bodyguard (all that beer-drinking and TV watching paid off).   He often
spoke of the "dual ideology" of
the ANC (he had been commander of Umkhonto We Sizwe) and the SACP (he was,
at the time, shortly
to assume the top post from Joe Slovo).   Many in the Party, he told me, no
longer saw socialism as a
feasible avenue for South Africa; "racial justice" and some sort of "welfare
provision" for the poor
would be difficult to achieve in any case.   Chris Hani was, I believe,
deeply disturbed by this trend, and,
also, the edging out of Party militants like Harry Gwala from central roles.

After Hani's death in 1993,Party "moderates" came to the fore and
effectively purged
many of the most militant SACPers fromregional leadership posts.   By that
the apotheoisis of the "socialism is defeated" camp, Slovo's Has Socialism
had thoroughly demoralized SACP supporters abroad.   It is a tragic legacy.

The situation in South Africa is difficult and complex.   It has been made
more so by the loss
of the SACP of the core of its creed.   Its leadership does not know whether
to remain
Communists, or, alternatively, to frankly accept the dictates of world
capitalism and
become social democrats.   They cannot, it is clear, be both.

                                                                 Louis Godena

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