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Former President of the fiercely anti-imperialist Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) dies aged 88

He was a vigilant leader. He never sacrificed the fundamental objectives of the liberation struggle of his people on the polluted altar of appeasement and pseudo-diplomacy. At the heart of Makwetu's commitment to the struggle for freedom in South Africa was the land question, which remains unresolved to date.

We shall miss his charming smile. We shall miss his towering height – “uFafa” (the tall one), “uZikhali” (his clan name). We shall miss his frankness and bravery in matters of national importance affecting the land dispossessed people of Azania (South Africa). President Clarence Mlamli Makwetu served his people fearlessly even when it cost him imprisonment in various South African jails including Robben Island Prison , of course, banishment to areas where he had no means of livelihood, a job or self-employment.

But even in those circumstances Makwetu was a leader who never called a donkey a horse. He never referred to a spade as a big teaspoon. He never believed that jackals could look after the welfare and safety of sheep. He was a vigilant leader. He never sacrificed the fundamental objectives of the liberation struggle of his people on the polluted altar of appeasement and pseudo-diplomacy.  

He knew the colonial history of South Africa very well. He digested what the royal architects of Amalinde, Keiskamahoek, Sandile’s Kop, Thababosiu and  Isandlwana battles were defending. He embraced their cause with tenacity. He did not forget “the numerous wars and other battlefields where our forefathers fell before the bullets of the foreign invader,” as that revolutionary giant Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe put it.

When it came to the issue of land, Makwetu stood firmly on the side of African kings who were the first freedom fighters against colonialism in this country. He supported leaders such as Dr. John Dube, Sol Plaatje and Dr. Walter B. Rubusana who in their petition to King George V of England on 20 July 1914 demanded that the African people of this country “be put in possession of land in proportion to their numbers and on the same conditions as the white race.”

Liberation of a land dispossessed people without land and its riches is a gigantic colonial fraud. President Makwetu put his neck on the bloc when it came to fighting for land repossession. Land is the primary source of life. Land is life. Without land there is no life. Land is the primary means of production. Land is the basic asset of a nation.

Food does not grow in the sky. Houses are not built in the air. Gold, diamonds, platinum and other minerals are dug from the land. They are not situated in the air. Cattle, sheep, goats, etc, do not graze in the sky. Pastures are on the land as well as water. Even our graves are not in the clouds. Here in Africa they are in the land.

Without land there is only poverty and lack of resources to educate our children. We become a nation with no skills and professions to conduct our affairs competently, especially economically and technologically. Education liberates a nation. If we do not acquire knowledge we shall be an ignorant people who are victims of foreign vultures that see poor and ignorant nations as their carcass. 

President Makwetu was soaked in this reality and fact. He himself survived on a piece of land of his own when he found all doors for jobs shut against him. He and his wife Mama Mandisa and their two sons survived on producing their necessities of life from the land. They educated their two sons Chitintsaba and Chuma Qiqa out of what they produced from the land.

A nation without land is a dying nation that suffers perpetual humiliation of poverty, diseases and short life expectancy. African heroes like Makana, Langalibalele, Mpafana, Maqoma and Mahala a son of King Ndlambe and POQO forces were imprisoned on Robben Island for demanding the land of their forefathers.

I will shortly let President Makwetu speak for himself. This is part of his very important legacy to this country. But first let me remind what Prince Maqoma said in 1859 shortly before he was imprisoned on Robben Island until he died in 1873 aged 75 years. Maqoma told a British colonial soldier Colonel Wade:

“We are to have land again. It was bequeathed to our ancestors; to hold, nurture and make it productive for their progeny….You, [colonialists from Europe] came out of the sea to our land. Like a serpent you emerged from the water….Besides you had no tongue to speak to us. We waited to know why you had come. Instead we heard you are settling and taking possession of our land.

“But this is our land. You made us vanish, not exist. Our land is us. We are our land….From the sea you had no cattle. Now you have many cows and sheep….War you made to dispossess us….Blood you spilled, to take even more land. We cannot give up. We cannot rest. Without land we cannot be.”

President Clarence Mlamli Makwetu on land repossession

I think it is now time to hear this hero that has gone through the storms and fires of Sharpeville, Langa, Robben Island, POQO/APLA Azanian Peoples’ Liberation Army as commander-in-chief of the latter right up to the United Nations General Assembly where I hosted him to address this international body on numerous occasions.

This included his address to the Security Council during what was in this country called “black on black violence.” The apartheid colonialist regime had unleashed its reactionary violence on the African people on an unprecedented scale. This was in places such Sebokeng, Boipatong, Katlehong, Kwa-Zulu-Natal and Mthatha where family twin brothers were shot and killed in their sleep by the regime’s soldiers.

Anyway, on 28 May 1996 as Member of Parliament and President of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) Makwetu addressed the South African Parliament as follows:

“Madam Speaker,

The whole world says we have performed a miracle, but I say we need to perform even a bigger miracle….I am sure we support the President of this country when he goes around preaching peace. However, I am afraid that peace will be lost if we lie to one another…the reason I say this is because the wealth of this country is still in the hands of a few.”

On the 13 of June 1996 Mawetu told Parliament, “Eveybody needs a piece of land: Honourable Members, it cannot be assumed that everybody wants to be a commercial farmer, a small holder or even a rural dweller. All that can be assumed is that everybody needs a piece of land on which to live as a base for economic activity, whether agricultural or otherwise. Some may prefer to work on a farm, but with proper living wages and proper living conditions….Yet others, possibly the majority, may need a decent living space in an urban area. Our first task therefore is to ascertain the wishes of our people.

“It is these categories of our people that we have to talk to when we talk about the distribution of land. Yet, at present, the problem is whether we are in a position to distribute land. Added to our problems is the fact that close to one third of Azania is savnna.”

At this juncture an ANC Member of Parliament G.Q. Doidge interrupted Mr. Makwetu with a question: “Where is Azania?”

“It is the country bordering Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.”

He continued, “As I was saying, one third of this country is dry, arid and semi-desert…with limited agricultural capacity. This means that only a few of us should dream of becoming farmers one day. Worst still is the fact that the land we are talking about is at present monopolised by a section of the white population while the majority of the indigenous Africans are landless. It is this policy which the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania wants to change.”

Another member of parliament interrupted: “I thought we were all Africans.”

Mr. C.M. Makwetu:  “We would not be talking about a rainbow nation if we were all Africans.”  He continued, “In short PAC’s position on land matters is simply that land must be taken from whites, not because they are whites, but because they have an unfair share of the land. If we go back to the original position of the ANC Youth League as enunciated by A.P. Mda, we find this is what he said:

‘Africans were historically entitled to the ownership of Africa, and European invasion of the Continent does not remove this inalienable right….’

“We are raising these matters because the land question is fundamental to South Africa’s past, present and future. An entire history of colonial invasion and dispossession; of cheap labour and systematic economic exploitation…and apartheid has created a society in which fifty eight thousand white farmers own 12 times as much as more than 14 million rural poor people….”

On 8 July 1993 Makwetu told the South African Chamber of Commerce: “The PAC will not commit itself to a policy of buying back land that was illegally confiscated from the African people.” In April 2016, it is known that the ANC policy of “willing seller and willing buyer” is an unmitigated national disaster for Africans.

Even on the 86th anniversary of his birthday, two years ago, from his sickbed at his farm at Cofimvaba, President Makwetu told the Mail & Guardian newspaper, “We fought for freedom, but what did we Africans gain? We did not get the freedom we fought for. The country is at a standstill.”

Makwetu is the author of a recently published book, Azania Cheated. It has much to say about his life in the liberation struggle of this country from 1954. He was then 26 years old.

Makwetu could have been President of South Africa in 1994

History shows that Makwetu could have been the President of South Africa in 1994. All pre-election opinion polls of that period showed that Makwetu’s Pan Africanist Congress would win those elections.

(See The Star 29 April 1990, Sowetan 14 and 22 February 1990, Daily Magazine Zimbabwe 15 April 1993, Cape Argus 17 June 1993, Work and Progress Magazine 17 June 1993, Novositi 9th August 1990 in Moscow, Report by Dr Valdimer Tikhomirov Secretary of the Russian Academy of Sciences Africa Institute, South African Financial Times 11 April 1993, US Newsweek (USA) 23 April 1993, New Yorker 11 April 1993, Letter from South Africa: The SECRET REVOLUTION , New Yorker 11 and 14 New Yorker articles by  Allister Sparks and Letter From South Africa: SCRET REVOLUTION also by Allister Sparks 14 April 1994. See also The Hidden Side Of South African Politics Tokoloho Development Association ISBN 978-0620-44075-2Published in 1909)

Imperialist economic stakes are highest in South Africa. So the American government under Bill Clinton and Western European governments made sure that Makwetu would not emerge as the country’s President.

Clinton’s expert pollster Frank Geer and his image maker Stanley B. Greenberg were sent to apartheid South Africa to help the ANC in the 1994 elections. Greenburg has written, “The PAC was the only other Party with standing in the apartheid struggle and thus a majority of Africans viewed it favourably….The PAC advocated expropriation of white land without compensation.” (Dispatch From The War Room, Stanley B. Greenberg, pages 126-127).

Greenberger has put it also in writing that he and his colleague Geer changed the ANC slogan from “Now Is The Time” to “Better Life For All.” (Ibid page 128 )

In the event that the scheme to rig the 1994 elections failed as had been the case in Zimbabwe, there was Plan B in place: “United States troops in low-key manoeuvres in Botswana.”

This was a headline in The Herald newspaper of 20 May 1992 in Harare. It reported that diplomats were puzzled by the arrival of several American soldiers in Botswana. The American government was moving them “near the boiling pot that is South Africa.” This was to make sure no radical party took power there in April 1994.

President Makwetu later complained that the Western countries did not seem to want fairly contested elections, “preferring instead the ANC walkover. He listed the amount of dollars that the ANC had amassed from America and various other sums from industrialised countries into millions.”(Dan Mokonyana in his book, Big Sell Out, page 55, Nako Yarena, London 1994

After election on 1 May 1994, a senior official of the South African apartheid colonialist regime admitted that the April 1994 elections had been “embarrassing and flawed.” He indicated that de Klerk and Mandela agreed that the elections had to be declared “free and fair” because an alternative would have been a political disaster. “We simply could not afford this thing to go down the tube. It would serve no purpose to cry foul.”(The Times London, 1 May 1994)

The truth of rigged 1994 elections in South Africa was finally told by Richard Dawson, diplomatic editor of The Independent newspaper in London, published in an article, A report on South Africa’s fixing suppressed. He wrote:

“The report of the European monitors on South African elections eleven months ago was never published because it was highly critical of many aspects of the election. Publication was presented after it was decided not to rake over flawed elections.”(The Independent, 10 March 1995)

President Clarence Mlamli Makwetu was right when he told the South African Chamber of Commerce, “The PAC will not commit itself to a policy of buying back land that was illegally confiscated from the African people.” He was correct again when he declared, “We fought for freedom….But we did not get the freedom we fought for.”

“Fafa,” “Zikhali,” Farewell Son of the Soil. Go well, gallant Son of Africa. Rise in glory. You have spoken. Those who have ears have heard. You have walked the talk. You have met the challenge of your Brother in the Diaspora, Frantz Fanon, when said, “Each generation in its relative nebulosity must discover its mission and then fulfill it, or betray it.”

You discovered your mission and you have fulfilled it with distinction.                

Izwe Lethu!  iAfrika! Afrika is Ours!

* Dr. Motsoko Pheko is author of several books such as LAND IS MONEY AND POWER, APARTHEID: THE STORY OF A DISPOSSESSED PEOPLE, SOUTH AFRICA: BETRAYAL OF A COLONISED PEOPLE and THE HIDDEN SIDE OF SOUTH AFRICAN POLTICS. He is  former Member of the South African Parliament as well as former Representative of the victims of apartheid at the United Nations in New York as well as at the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.



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