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The ANC and Zanu-PF: From struggle heroes to enemies of freedom

In 1963 Bram Fischer stood before a court and said “the defence … will show that the ANC is a broad national movement, embracing all classes of Africans within its ranks, and having the aim of achieving equal political rights for all South Africans”. Fischer was the lead defence counsel in the well-known Rivonia Trial where Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 1965 Fischer was charged with furthering communism and conspiracy to overthrow the government. In 1966 he gave his seminal “What I did was right” speech from the dock in Pretoria, where he said: “When the laws themselves become immoral and require the citizen to take part in an organised system of oppression – if only by his silence or apathy – then I believe that a higher duty arises. This compels one to refuse to recognise such laws.”

The African National Congress, its aides and associates witnessed first-hand the unfathomable agony of oppression. ANC members and leaders (most of who are now in government) endured torture, prison sentences and saw their friends and cadres fall in numbers fighting for freedom. One expects that the ANC would possess the foresight to see instances of oppression being dressed up as law.

Yet the media reports that the ANC, a “revolutionary party” and home to struggle heroes like Nelson Mandela, has reiterated its unconditional support for Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF in the upcoming elections.

ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza boldly declared that: “Zanu-PF has been governing Zimbabwe since 1980 and we feel they have gained the necessary experience and wealth of knowledge over that time to benefit the people of that country and govern again … the people of Zimbabwe will decide who governs them, but if called on to assist, we won’t hesitate in coming to their assistance to ensure they are successful.”

The ANC’s position surfaced in 2011 when party general secretary Gwede Mantashe expressed the ANC’s commitment to assist Zanu-PF with election materials and strategies. Amid criticism that support for Zanu-PF compromises the political process and legitimises Mugabe’s violent grip to power, the ANC has sought to rely on its historical ties with Zanu-PF.

Zanu-PF’s Mugabe has been in power since 1980 and his rule has been marred by violence and human-rights abuses. The scourge of violence includes the infamous Gukurahundi; the violation of human rights during the land-reform project and the election violence in 2007-2008 which saw opposition’s representatives being captured and assaulted by police. Over a million Zimbabweans scattered all over southern Africa to escape violence and economic collapse.

International human-rights organisations have persistently decried serious human-rights abuses in Zimbabwe. Human Rights Watch says that “more than four years after Zimbabwe’s 2008 presidential election … [N]either the Zanu-PF-controlled security forces nor others responsible for torture and killings during the 2008 election have been brought to justice. This, combined with the lack of progress on institutional and legal reforms, means that many Zimbabweans fear a renewed cycle of violence in 2013, when elections are due to take place”.

Further “since December 2012, the Zanu-PF-controlled police have carried out an apparent campaign of politically motivated abuses against civil-society activists and organisations.”

The arrest of leading human-rights lawyer and activist Beatrice Mtetwa is a stark example of the situation on the ground in Zimbabwe. Mtetwa was arrested for allegedly “shouting at police” who were conducting a search at a house of one of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s aides. Mtetwa’s sin was attempting to assist her client by demanding that the police produce a warrant. A magistrate denied her bail on the grounds that “… commotion and shouting can hinder the police in carrying out their investigations accordingly”.

This is notwithstanding Section 50(4) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act which obliges police “upon demand of any person whose rights in respect of any search or article seized under the warrant have been affected, hand to him a copy of the warrant”. Section 34(2) provides the same in relation to arrests.

Why then does the ANC slap its power behind a violent oppressive regime? The answer is twofold.

Firstly the ANC’s principles have changed. It is no longer a bulwark for freedom and human rights. The ANC has lost foundational values and currently drifts in any direction the winds of power blow.

An organisation cannot be gauged by its subscribing members but by the values that shape its membership. In this respect the ANC has become a sandcastle, without any firm foundation of values. The rot in values explains how President Jacob Zuma could do a sudden double back from his position in 2008 when he said “in Africa we have some political leaders who refuse to bow out and try to change the constitution to accommodate themselves as in neighbouring Zimbabwe”.

Like all “revolutionary governments” the ANC seeks to protect a myopic construction of future interests. The ANC supports Mugabe only to appease some asinine leftists who exalt Mugabe because of the corrupted indigenisation project.

The ANC’s support for a tyrant interferes with the peace project in Zimbabwe. The ANC retorts to criticism by drawing a farcical distinction between the party and the government. In South Africa the executive, which speaks on behalf of and represents the state, is represented almost exclusively by members of the ruling party, thus the distinction between the state, the government and the party is artificial. ANC policies invariably become government policy.

The question then is if the ANC is willing to openly support a tyrant to appease a constituency, how far would it got to hold on to power in South Africa?



  1. The Naked Worker The Naked Worker 23 March 2013

    Good analysis.

    “Firstly, the ANC’s principles have changed. It is no longer a bulwark for freedom and human rights. The ANC has lost foundational values and currently drifts in any direction in which winds of power blow.”

    Those who call for the current ANC leadership to be changed are not anti-ANC, all they want is justice, principaled, honest, accountable and transparent government.

  2. Dave Harris Dave Harris 23 March 2013

    Its exactly your tribal mindset that’s the scourge of Africa. In your previous blogs you demand that Europeans leave Africa, now you insinuate that the ANC, the very party that gave you your freedom 19 years ago, is now the “enemy of freedom”!!!

    Zimbabwe’s stability impacts SA’s stability as well. Calling President Zuma’s values rotten or accusing the ANC of supporting tyrants is shameful and reveals your ignorance of world affairs. Maybe you should return to that dream you so enthusiastically described in your previous blog, where you will undoubtedly achieve more satisfaction! ;-)

  3. Paul Whelan Paul Whelan 23 March 2013

    The puzzle is not that the ANC supports ZANU: that has obviously been fixed ANC policy over the past two decades of ‘democracy’. The puzzle is why blatantly reveal the bias now, when the new constitution everyone’s been working for is at least supposed to usher in a (more) democratic dispensation in Zim? Why give the game away through a public statement by Keith Khoza?

    The answer, of course, is that the ANC absolutely cannot afford for Mr Mugabe’s party to lose: such a fall would point to the ANC’s own loss of power one day. But to voice the bias so publicly shows just how urgent it has become for the ANC to reassure the old guard that nothing has changed, that ‘liberation’ politics still rules ok. No ‘regime change’ in southern Africa. Nothing must move on. That really would upset the apple cart.

    When assessing foreign policy, always look to the imperatives back home. They’re the key to it all.

  4. Ouch Ouch 24 March 2013

    Harris, a popular movement aligned with freedom seeking people world-wide, the ANC brought SA freedom. As a party, the ANC has become self-serving throught the power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely rule of the universe.

  5. Momma Cyndi Momma Cyndi 24 March 2013

    This support of Mugabe is a relatively new thing. Zanu and the ANC were never very good friends. It was Zapu and, specifically, Nkomo who was friendly with the ANC (hence the selling out of the ANC camp locations just after 1980).

    If the ‘liberating’ party loses its power in Zim then the people of SA may realise that the sky won’t fall in if the ‘liberating’ party loses power in SA. That is not something the ANC wants shown. There are also a few little things like the money laundering and DRC mines that they now share but, I think, the main reason is that they were ‘liberators’. Possibly also the reason that the ANC hijacks every single thing that happened in SA during apartheid so they can brainwash the population into believing that the ANC was the sole reason for the fall of apartheid.

    Mugabe is as mad as a march hare. He has not run the country for decades (I doubt he has the faculties to run a bath these days). Scratch a little deeper into who really holds the reigns in Zim and the (financial) connection between the parties will become clearer

  6. Hobo Harry Hobo Harry 24 March 2013

    Robert Mugabe is a front for vested financial interests. He fronts for his police chiefs, cabinet members and army generals who feather their nests with mining and other business interests. They keep him in power, he is very useful to them and gets to share the spoils.

    Jacob Zuma also fronts for families like the Gupta’s, and why is Shaik Shabir out of jail?

    So much for struggle credentials.

    Struggle credentials gets the masses to vote for frontmen who pull the wool over the eyes.

    The masses need to wake up, they are nothing more than voting cannon fodder.

  7. Reducto Reducto 24 March 2013

    Harris, it is incredibly naive to believe that political parties remain static and committed to their founding values. That is anything but the case with the ANC in its current manifestation. Your retort to legitimate criticism of a party in the present can’t be to tell someone “but they gave you freedom!”

    How about actually engaging with what Brad has said?

  8. bernpm bernpm 24 March 2013

    @Ouch: ‘the ANC brought SA freedom. ” Not really. They were handed freedom by thee NP as advised/dictated by the 3 big U’s: UN,US and UK.

    Hence the fact that they are slowly moving to dictatorship, previously restricted to the party, slowly moving to include the whole country.

    If apathy kept apartheid alive, then apathy will make the ANC succeed in its drive.

  9. Heinrich Heinrich 24 March 2013

    One can argue that it was never the intention of the ANC to bring freedom to South Africa, but merely to gain access to the power and wealth of the country for their own purposes. This is certainly as it turned out. See how many ANC billionaires have been created over the past 20 years and how the gap between rich and poor has grown.

    Robert Mugabe is one of the richest men in Africa, while his people are of the poorest. This proves one thing : Zanu PF and ANC leaders are not interested in the welfare of their nations or of their countries. Their interest is only in personal and Party power and wealth.

  10. Dillon Dillon 24 March 2013

    @DaveHarris you clearly did not understand the analogy of “Little Europe” which i thought was rather obvious. What is more obvious is that the ANC that HELPED liberate SA from Apartheid rule is clearly not the ANC in goverment today. A liberation movement seldom makes for an effective ruling party in a democracy. Therefore, if one was liberated by a movement which subsequently takes power and one then turns one’s back on said movement, it would be perfectly understandable.

    I fail to see why you are attacking the author here.

  11. Tofolux Tofolux 25 March 2013

    I would appeal to Brad to give us the context in which the SG of ANC made these pronouncements and I personally would be at pains to quote anything reported in the newspaper and take that as truth even though any sobre-minded person would surely out the question of hearsay. I however dont have a problem with that statement and allow me to make my point. It is the 10yr anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. We now know that much of the so-called evidence led by the Bush administration and Blair were lies. The whole world was effectively lied to this with the assistance of the ”in-bedded” media. We of course know what happened journalists who demanded the truth. The effect of this collusion has damaged the reputation of media so badly it is a shame. However it was our Madiba who accused Bush and Blair of shenanigans and of course this opened the way for sobre-minded persons to think more clearly. Of course everyone is shocked at the turn of events in Iraq today and yet we sit on our laurels watching untold damage being inflicted. The total population of Zim today stands over 12.5mill. We also know that the intnl world refused to recognise Rhodesia as an independent country and this forced Ian Smith minority govt to democracy. Zim gained its independence in 1980 only. Pre election we know that tribal wars were horrific. It is also fact that PW Botha and Ian Smith unleashed huge atrocities with their preferred partner, on the Zimbabweans.

  12. MrK MrK 25 March 2013

    I agree with the following article:

    (Sunday Mail) MDC-T’s dossier of shame
    Sunday, 17 March 2013 00:00

    ” Political observers and diplomats from the region who have gone through the dossier told The Sunday Mail that the document entitled “Violence and Deterioration of the Political Situation,” which is being circulated in the region by the MDC-T’s secretary for international relations, Mr Jameson Timba, is just a futile attempt by the British-sponsored party to attack the process of voting because the party has nothing to offer during the forthcoming harmonised elections. ”

    The fact is that no one in their right mind would buy the MDC’s neoliberal economic policies – austerity, deregulation, privatisation. And of course the turning back of land reform and indigenisation.

    So what they have left, is to sing the ‘human rights’ song. Right down to calling their members, like present education minister David Coltart (BSAP, PATU) ‘human rights lawyers’.

    They haven’t gone as far as the neoliberal MMD in Zambia, which has hired a Chatham House connected lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, to do their singing to the international gallery.

    And that is the most telling – with their allegations, the MDC are trying to get the elections declared ‘not free and fair’, long before they are held.

    And that is fundamentally…

  13. Tofolux Tofolux 25 March 2013

    cont/.. It must be conceded that since independence, Zim became more stable this despite the Pretoria and British covert campaigns against the govt. The effects of these hav had a huge effect on Zimbabwe and SA and Botswana today has the most influx of their ppl into our countries. We also know this influx has had a huge impact on the safety & security of SA’ns. The issues we miss is the impact of employment, service delivery, health and our social fabric etc. We know that a particular rival union today is led by a Zimbabwean. We also know that the killings of mineworkers prior to Marikana were systematic and yet today we are yet to see one blogger who raises ANY questions abt this in particualr. We also know some non-SAns have imposed themselves into our politics,our social discourse and clearly this is a major problem for social cohesion becos of duality and their negotiated citizenship of the ”80’s. ANC understands ALL the issues of stability eg Madiba’s understanding of what Bush and Blair was doing in Iraq and the consequences we see today of a supposed religious war in Middle-East today and the Israel-Palestinian conflict. SA or Botswana as colonialist countries cannot take in any more illegal persons and this is borne out by the current issues our urbanisation, housing, health etc. I fail understand this laissez-faire approach and single-minded thinking of some. They have an attitude of a minimalist govt and yet when they are threatened they ask ”where is…

  14. The Creator The Creator 25 March 2013

    Why does the ANC support the proposed introduction of a democratic constitution in Zimbabwe, and why did it support the introduction of a government of national unity to end the violence which killed scores of people after a disputed election? Ah me, it cannot possibly be because the ANC supports democracy and doesn’t like violence, can it?

    Meanwhile, in unrelated news, the West supported the introduction of a government of national unity to end the violence which killed hundreds of people after a disputed election in Kenya, and supported the introduction of a democratic constitution there. But that’s because the West supports democracy and doesn’t like violence, that’s obvious.

    In other words, four (Western) legs good, two (African) legs bad.

    In additional words, the ANC’s support for peace in Zimbabwe has been one of the very, very few admirable elements in Zuma’s foreign policy, but because it contradicts the appalling claptrap that the West comes up with, we’re supposed to oppose it regardless.

  15. Conrad Tarupiwa Conrad Tarupiwa 25 March 2013

    its very simple. if zanupf goes, next in line will be the anc. What has happened in Zimbabae is definately coming to South Africa – its just a question of time. The day ANC will work up with no political relevance, it will be forced in like manner to pander to emmotional politicking in order to win votes. Land. mines, economic empowerment of previously disempowered people will surface with a thud. it is only logical for political sirvival that the anc supports zanupf.

  16. john patson john patson 25 March 2013

    Could not the present support not be down to the simple fact that the present head of the ANC, (in his early 60s) looks at the present head of ZANU-PF, (in his mid 80s) and thinks “I could do that!”
    It will be so much better than dealing with squabbling wives and children asking for money in some fever-ridden gilded hellhole for the next 20 years.

  17. Policat Policat 25 March 2013

    The ANC’s relationship with Mugabe is well known, SA election observers having giving a thumbs up after previous dubious elections.
    But what can you expect from a rapidly metamorphosing oligarchy and eventual oppressive dictatorship eager to transform this country into another third world nightmare.

  18. Impedimenta Impedimenta 25 March 2013

    It is good to see these concerns in print and open for debate. Dave Harris appears to have scanned this and previous blogs with too little time for comprehension. I am hopeful he will redo his homework and give us a meaningful insight.

  19. Fed Up Fed Up 26 March 2013

    Zanu-PF and the ANC sitting on a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G. Birds of the same feather flock together…I mean. Do we expect any clever decisions to come from the current leadership of the ANC?? Were they not the one’s who claimed that they’ll rule until Jesus comes back. Mugabe will rule until death comes knocking. And they all lived happy ever after..Case closed unless of course we majority of the people in SA actually wake up,smell the coffee and take action and not vote for dictators!! Just sayin’

  20. MrK MrK 27 March 2013

    More sanctimonious, Rhodesian drivel. There is no end of this kind of literature (Don’t Let’s Not Go To The Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, by Alexandra Fuller and her racist, child molesting, alcoholic parents; Mukiwa, A White Boy In Africa; The Flame Trees Of Thika: Memories Of An African Childhood; Rainbow’s End: A Memoir of Childhood, War and an African Farm; etc.).

    What they all have in common, is that not one of them challenges the system itself, or questions the presumptions about their superiority or the rightness of their exploitation of a people and a country.

    The story is boringly familiar. First everything was wonderful, and then the bad guerillas came and everything changed. The End.

    Despite the navel gazing, there is no contemplation or understanding that perhaps things weren’t so great for everyone. That the guerillas were not merely ‘communist inspired’, but that they were actually the people who were thrown of their land and wanted it back. Or that African people may want more out of life than ‘a square deal’ (as Ben Freeth calls it in Mugabe And The White African), and may actually want to get paid more for their work than a roof, food and ‘pocket money’. Which in Mugabe And The White African, apparently doesn’t provide enough money for blankets.

    Oh and by the way, those ‘farms’ mentioned, aren’t really farms, they’re giant estates most of which isn’t in use.

  21. Paul Whelan Paul Whelan 27 March 2013

    The ANC supports ‘democracy’ in Zim, as in SA, as long as ‘democracy’ means the parties of liberation staying in power till Jesus comes again. Others think differently.

  22. Echoes of Zimbabwe Echoes of Zimbabwe 27 March 2013

    Zuma sends more troops the Central African Republic (CAR) to protect South African interests after 13 SA troops killed. Mugabe sent troops to the Congo to protect his cabals mining and finacial interests.

    The CAR has 4 million people and two resources, diamonds and agriculture, and the SA troops were supposed to be protecting their ruthless dictator who was milking the system.

    Diamonds are a man’s best friend? :-) (South African interests??) :=)

  23. Echoes of Zimbabwe Echoes of Zimbabwe 27 March 2013

    MrK. Are those giant estates previously owned by whites now more productive than before Zanu PF chased the ‘wit okes’ off and gave the Zanu PF cadres the land so they would vote for Zanu PF?

    I am all for land redisrtibution (provide jobs and food security), but not stealing land to buy votes and cause starvation and destroy the economy.

  24. Jonas barbarossa Jonas barbarossa 28 March 2013

    Thanks for the enlightenment. Well written, well thought-out, coherent and thought-provoking.

  25. Maseku Maseku 29 March 2013

    There is not a word in this article about tribalism. The moronic ‘Dave Harris’ accuses the writer of a ‘tribal mindset’, probably because he is not a Zulu. This shows the level that ANC propaganda has sunk to – accusing others of the latest current trend in the ANC, which is now a thoroughly tribalist, tribal organisation, and which has the narrowest and crudest form of identity based arguments (or attacks). Truly though, even the ANC could get a better propagandist than this ignoramus.

  26. Charlotte Charlotte 31 March 2013

    Charlotte #
    @ Brad. So well expressed!… “the ANC has become a sandcastle, without any firm foundation of values … Like all “revolutionary governments” the ANC seeks to protect a myopic construction ….
    if the ANC is willing to openly support a tyrant to appease a constituency, how far would it go to hold on to power in South Africa?”

    Of course, Zanu PF is no longer a liberation movement. Neither is the ANC.
    They hang onto the word ‘liberation’ because it ennobles their purported ‘cause’ and enables them to go on hoodwinking those apathetic enough to let themselves be blinded and duped even with the measure of government graft corruption, dishonesty and inefficiency.
    The present ANC is not the one envisaged, fought for and implemented by Nelson Mandela (an equal opportunity, non-racist society). Still bearing the same banner, it is now patently corrupt, inept and interested only in its own self-enrichment. The ANC acronym has been hijacked for its own political expediency and duplicity.

    The Zuma-led ANC now stands for ‘Arrogance, Nepotism, Corruption’
    or simply put: ‘A National Calamity.’

  27. ConCision ConCision 31 March 2013

    The Loyal ‘We’
    What Will Be –
    If It’s Left To Be

    With the degree
    Of irrationality
    And gullibility
    (Deceptively labelled ‘loyalty’)
    For the thievery
    And inabililty
    Of the ANC

    Feel free
    To live in poverty
    Or preferably, flee
    When ‘we’ become

  28. Sipho Dlamini Sipho Dlamini 1 April 2013

    The ANC’s avowed support for ZANU-PF does not necessarily mean support for criminal act, otherwisw Zuma’s constant ‘crossing of Swords’ with Mugabe in his facilitation of the Agreement was just not real. We know it was, we also know that a report tabled by the SADC Team amongst them Lindiwe Zulu, was a hot meeting and they kept on calling Zuma all kinds and sort of names. We know too that Mugabe wished Zuma looses in Mangaung and Marikane was their sequel to that but as we know, Zuma proved once more to prevail. So separate Political support and Rule of Law, Peace and Fairness in Citizen’s Rights. ZANU Youth a week or two back, were calling ZUMA many ‘names’ and that he is being used by the West. SADC will call the shorts and those must supported by us all.

    I must say that Politically, Tsvangirai, is not a ‘better’ candidate from the SADC perspective.Not even as a neighbour for all countries around Zimbabwe.Zuma knows that, but has to play by the rules, which is what he is doing. You rather have a reformed ZANU that the current MDC Leadership.

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