The actual question around legacy is larger than Mandela himself. Its the question of the legacy of the African National Congress (ANC) and its role in current day Azania? That's a much broader question, but for today, we'll focus more specifically on this same question of legacy as it relates to Mandela. We can't pretend that this piece can pose as an exhaustive contribution to this debate. Hopefully, this piece can serve to contribute to the discussion surrounding the iconic image of Mandela, promoted overwhelmingly by capitalism (much the same way this system dominates the image and messaging around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr) compared to the actual work that Mandela carried out.
Full disclosure is that since we are Pan-Africanists, that obviously means (for those with an understanding of the history of African liberation movements, ideologies, and tendencies) we are operating in a different lane from the multi-racial ANC that Mandela championed. Still, since we are revolutionaries, we understand the steps necessary to lay the foundation for building revolutionary movements. Mass work is required and that work is centered around raising people's consciousness. That's why the moment you run into these so-called "activists" out here criticizing any efforts to work with people they or you don't agree with, you should know instantly that those people aren't trying to build revolutionary movements. Usually, they aren't trying to build anything. For us, there is still vast potential for many ANC members to decide to abandon their lane and come over to ours. We have to believe that because we know history. The Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania, (PAC) the clearest on the ground manifestation in Azania to everything we subscribe to and believe, itself emerged out of the ANC in the 1957 Congress of African Peoples where the PAC was created after an ideological split from the ANC. The Azanian People's Organization (AZAPO) also falls within the same framework for Pan-Africanists worldwide that the PAC represents. So, our point is we don't see the ANC as the enemy. We may see their ideas and policies as reactionary, but we know the difference between reactionary and counter-revolutionary. There is a major and significant difference that cannot be dismissed and ignored. If you don't know that difference, you must figure it out before you talk further around issues like this because otherwise, all you do is contribute confusion. We don't see the ANC as our enemy and we don't see Mandela as our enemy. We do have critiques of the pathway Mandela and the ANC chose to pursue as it relates to Azania's future.
There's much that can be said, but we'll start by talking about the last years of apartheid, specifically the period of 1990 to 1994. Mandela was released in 1990. And, his release was the direct result of revolutionary forces and their work in that region of the world. In fact, Mandela's release from prison was a direct consequence (requirement), along with the independence of Namibia, of the hundreds of thousands of Cuban troops - the force fighting alongside Angolans, Mozambiqans, etc., against apartheid supporting forces that sought to subjugate that entire portion of Africa. In other words, in order for the Cubans to leave, Mandela had to be released and Namibia received its independence. During this time, there were fierce and hurried negotiations taking place between the ANC and the racist apartheid government, which was closely backed by the U.S. and zionist Israel. We know the results of the negotiated issued indicated above, but what we don't know is what other agreements the ANC made with those dominant forces of worldwide imperialism?
Despite whatever sentimental attachments people have to Mandela, no one can reasonably deny that backroom deals were made beyond what has been mentioned here. How else can you explain, as Khalid Muhammad so clearly articulated on the Phil Donahue show in 1994, "how a Black man is imprisoned for 27 years and turns around and becomes president of the same country?"
Unfortunately, there is much stronger evidence of this cooperation. The government the ANC transitioned into in Azania was a government where the tiny white minority viciously, violently, and systematically controlled all of the vast wealth of that country while the millions of Africans (About 80% of the country's population) controlled less than 5% of that country's wealth. What did newly installed President Mandela and the ANC actually believe would benefit the masses of Africans in a society where a supposed transition of power took place where the multi-national capitalist corporations - from Debeers, the European entity that controls diamond mining and production, to all of the major automobile manufacturers - remained all of their wealth, control, and influence on policy in the country when their influence clearly is the dominant force that keeps Africans subjugated, disorganized, and oppressed? Why did Mandela agree to a system in 1994 that eliminated the racial policy of apartheid while keeping intact the brutal economic oppression that system had cultivated for hundreds of years? That is a critical question because another element of these agreements we know about is the ANC agreed to suspend armed struggle against the white settler regime and that armed resistance was the movement's most powerful leverage against the system. The other major strength of the movement was the international anti-apartheid movement which clearly lost its legs after Mandela became president and the actual legalized system of apartheid was superficially taken down in 1994.
Once Mandela was in place as president and the ANC was the governing party in 1994 we have the last 25 years to reflect on what that has meant for the majority of Africans in Azania. Not only have conditions for those masses not improved e.g. poverty, lack of healthcare, lack of jobs, quality of life, everything, but there is ample evidence that Mandela's new position as the "face of Africa" served to create other challenges that did not benefit the masses of African people. Somehow, Mandela became the spokesperson for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Africa. He traveled around to various countries meeting with the leadership, helping convince them to accept IMF terms. He was instrumental in doing this in Malawi, Mozambique, and other nations. Malawi, is a clear case of the gangsterism of the IMF/World Bank that Mandela helped instill. That country has maintained one of the highest percentages of HIV/AIDs rates in the world where roughly four out of 10 people are positive for HIV. Malawi was spending an average of $15.00 per person USD on HIV/AIDs medications, a heavy burden for the country, but nowhere near enough to meet the challenges required for the health of the people there. Still, with the imposition of IMF/World Bank structural adjustment loans in Malawi in the 90s, a major hydroelectric plant was constructed in Malawi with IMF funds and today, 25 years later, there isn't one tangible benefit that plant has contributed to the daily lives of Malawi's people. During that 25 year period, the Malawan government has paid an average of $30 USD to service this IMF/World Bank loan, more than twice what that government has paid for HIV/AIDs medications that have been sorely needed by the populace. This is the type of "deal" Mandela helped broker for Malawi and many other countries, particularly in Southern Africa. In Angola, the country where the bulk of those Cubans troops fought alongside Angolans so courageously to help create the leverage that got Mandela released, he helped consolidate the IMF/World Bank structural adjustment loan that created for infrastructure for capitalist corporations in Angola which again did very little to help everyday Angolans. Meanwhile, the social programs implemented by the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) back in the 70s and 80s, when it had a focus on building socialism (being heavily influenced by the African Party of the Independence of Guinea Bissau - PAIGC and before that the Democratic Party of Guinea - PDG), such as education designed to eliminate violent forced castrations against women, saw sharp declines. The government, pressured by the influence of imperialist organizations like the IMF/World Bank, moved away from its people first socialist practices, and having limited resources to service these corporate heavy loans, diverted resources to these loans. By the 2000s, education on forced castrations had all but ceased in rural Angola and this unfortunate practice was again, widely practiced among the populace.
In our humble view, an objective observation of Mandela's legacy since becoming president of Azania was to reduce the militancy against imperialism throughout Africa, specifically Southern Africa, most especially within Azania. The culture and practice of the so-called "truth and reconciliation committees" a slap in the face to Africa, reflects the heavily slanted thrust towards protecting the interests of the settler white minorities while ignoring the interests of the masses of Africans. That last sentence is the classic definition of neo-colonialism. Its very difficult for me to see Mandela's post-apartheid contributions to Azania as anything other than neo-colonialist.
In the early 60s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) helped the apartheid regime locate, capture, and imprison Mandela and Mangoliso Sobukwe - the leader of the PAC. At that time when CIA Director George H.W. Bush played such a significant role in helping capture both freedom fighters, Mandela and Sobukwe were each considered major leaders of the movement for freedom and justice in that country. Today, everyone knows Mandela while no one outside of us Pan-Africanists knows Sobukwe. This just seems so symbolic of the strategy that made Mandela iconic while ignoring the needs of our people and our movement for justice in Azania. And, the problem is that isn't just the case for Azania. Its the same song and strategy that keeps us subjugated everywhere. Again, none of what is written here is to attempt to smear Mandela. We just state history and ask people to piece it together yourselves. There is an argument about the weakness of political education within the ANC and I would suggest this deficiency is a major reason for this disconnect.
There are plenty of good people who still believe that we can accomplish our freedom through peaceful negotiations with the enemies of humanity. Many of you reading this plan to vote for the representatives of the capitalist political parties and you are decent people for the most part, hopefully. Maybe this was Mandela's challenge. We don't know. What we do know is we have to discuss these types of issues so we can figure out how to stop continuing to fall into this same trap. Twenty five years later, the legacy of Mandela has to conclude that imperialism is still winning in Azania and everywhere else and Mandela unfortunately did quite a bit to contribute to that reality.