Let The YCLSA Repackage and Revive the Freedom Charter: For students and the Youth
By Ashley Nyiko Mabasa
The Freedom Charter happen to be the political programme which undermines both the capitalists and imperialists. This Charter came about following the congress of the people, mobilized and organized by the ANC. In 1953 at the Queenstown Conference of the ANC, the National Executive Committee was instructed to organize a mass assembly of delegates elected by diverse people of all races in every town, farm, factory and mine. This organization of the people became known as the congress of the people, whose primary objective was to work towards drawing up the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter remains the most revolutionary political program for the Young Communist League of South Africa and South African Communist Party (SACP)
In addition, this political program envisaged a society that seeks to be transformed beyond its colonial and apartheid formation. The logical conclusion of this document is that the revolution cannot be deferred but that the revolution offers the constant changing of our society.
The material condition always evolves, as Karl Marx said, that our material being determines our consciousness, not that our consciousness determines our material being. At this point, we live in a constantly changing world and the history of this continuous changing world is shaped by the bourgeoisie reactionary ideas in the advancement of the capitalism system.
In 1955, in the Kliptown square people from different races, Whites, Indians, Coloured and Black African people met and drafted the Freedom Charter. This was a turning point for the people of South Africa. However, as the Charter was not drafted by the ANC alone. The ANC adopted the Freedom Charter the year after was drafted. The ANC adopted this Charter as its policy document in 1956 as Professor Z K Matthews, then the acting President after Chief Luthuli was banned:
"I shall therefore not say anything about it (Freedom Charter) at this stage except to remind you that the Freedom Charter was drawn up not by the African National Congress but by the Congress of the people, and it is therefore necessary for you to ratify the Freedom Charter and to make it part, if you so desire, of the policy of the African National Congress."
The Freedom Charter is part of the revolutionary political programmes which posed a threat to the monopoly capitalism and imperialism, because they paved a way for the national democratic revolution. They aimed at restoring the land and wealth of the country to the people, and guaranteed democracy, freedom and equal rights and opportunities for all. The Charter must not be viewed as an end-product of our revolution, because it will not smash capitalism and replace it with socialism. The destination of the revolution is replacing capitalist modes of production with the socialism and eventually, once abundance has fulfiled with a full-fledged communism mode of production.
In addition, the Freedom Charter must be viewed historically and contemporarily as the political programme that seeks to address people’s transitional demands (immediate demands), such as structural racism defined by the dominant ownership of the economy and professions by the white minority and imperialist agents, who use metaphysics iideological approach to advance false-consciousness in the site of education and capitalism. We acknowledge the fact that South Africa is still tied to the chains of colonialism, which continues to hold the rest of African continent in the imperialist subjection and the epistemic production.
The Freedom Charter and our daily struggle
In the task of fulfilling the National Democratic Revolution, the Freedom Charter remains the fundamental political programme to deal with this country’s contradictions, such as the formation of elites and racial stratification in our economy. This includes the fact that white people dominate our economy and the working class is demobilized by poverty. Historically, the interclass struggle has prevailed. The intra-class struggle surfaced in the face of dealing with the national liberalism and racial economic structure of society. Consequently, students, middle stratum, youth and other oppressed people must struggle to fulfil the Freedom Charter. The working class must be at the front of the revolution. As Slovo has declared that it "faces a total racist bar against their entry into political and economic preserves of the privileged white minority." Surely, students and this middle stratum are capable of marching side by side with the workers and the downtrodden rural in the national democratic revolution?
The Freedom Charter continues to be relevant strategic task for the realization of the NDR for non-sexist, non-racial, democratic and prosperous South Africa. Why the Charter is important? The Charter seek to boost our revolution, in responding to the question of nation and the economy. In relation to the national question, the Charter asserts that "our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by the government founded on injustice and inequality." Dialectically, the Charter focuses in an unambiguously national relationship between those who are national oppressed (the black) and national oppressors (the whites).
The preamble of the Charter that; South Africa belongs to white and Black, and there is no government that can justly claim the authority unless it is based in the will of the people. As the class struggle and the critique of the political economy which happen to take place in explanatory of framework of historical materialism. The Charter attempts to correct the colonial and apartheid formations of South Africa; both economic and political. As Marx, in the Communist Manifesto, exposed the link between colonialism and capitalism and the evil exploitation of colonial people that involves the robbing of black people of their raw materials and the obliteration of their religious, education and cultural personalities in the name of civilization.
The Young Communist League (YCLSA) in confronting the struggle.
The imperialism and bourgeois rule our country in a number of ways - through using intellectual hegemony, by inflicting their ideologies and using state apparatuses, such as police force. As Mza Nxumalo noted that "The real aim of the imperialism in the ideological field is to mislead our people, to cause the split in our ranks." For example, education is part of societal superstructure, because the education system happens to be structured to feed the capitalism mode of production. This speaks to the question of knowledge production; especially to those who produce the academic autonomy and who determine the university curriculum. These happen to be the extension of the false-consciousness and doctrine. This continuously estranges our students from their revolutionary consciousness and their ability to undermine the capitalist mode of production.
In respect of the Freedom Charter, it is important to note that the Charter is not as Jeremiah’s Book of Lamentations (as Cde Mzala said). It is a political programme, which seeks solutions to the inequality in South Africa, by creating a single inclusive state not a pluralist state. The Young Communist League must revive the Freedom Charter. Indeed, South Africa democratic breakthrough must be treated as being aimed at achieving national liberation and self-determination. It was vitally important for the Charter to be crafted to fight for the freedom so that black people can be allowed to vote, as Mzala argued that "our immediate aim is to win the objectives of the national revolution expressed in the Freedom Charter, more particularly to achieve the national emancipation of Black people and destroy the political and economic power of the racist ruling class." Surely, Black people are politically emancipated because they are in control of the means of administration. The SACP in "The Second Transition; Going back to the roots" acknowledged that our government have managed to dismantle the apartheid administration. The Young Communist League must spearhead making the Charter’s full implementation to realise economic emancipation.
The YCLSA, as the pillar of our revolution, must guard against the revolution in the institution of high learning. Meaning that the YCLSA must infuse the revolutionary consciousness of the students and staff in order to destroy the capitalist system itself in the Universities and bring them into agreement with the demands of the Freedom Charter. The YCLSA students must revive the Charter and use the Charter as the recruiting thought its constituency base for the addressing of the immediate demand such as the clause 8 which urges that "the doors of learning and of culture shall be open." Education as the instrument of national integration and redistribution of social opportunities. The YCLSA, in the institutions of high learning, must recruit the progressive young professionals, such as young lecturers, to advance our scientific theory of Marxism in the classroom.
The revolution does not fall from the tree like an apple, the revolution need the socialist consciousness. As Engels said "socialism is a science and it must be conceived as such." The socialist consciousness will deliver us to the land of peace and free education, as Mzala contended that ‘To bring socialist consciousness to the working class is not a task performed once in some meeting of zealous university students; it is, most obviously, a painstaking task for serious working class organisers." Just as revolutionary impulses are not inborn characteristics of the students or workers. Therefore, it is not enough to establish the YCLSA branch in the liberal universities, such as University of Witwatersrand, without consistently using political education for socialist consciousness - by infusing Marxism and Leninism to keep the revolution going.
Finally, acknowledging the fact that the students do not have the capacity to lead the revolution. First the students do not have a direct link with the production of our society, for example the Universities can be shut-down, but the production of the society will continue. In that case the bourgeoisie will continue to exploit surplus value from the workers’ labour and the working class will continue to sell their labour for survival. Marx noted that development takes place through the unity and struggle of opposite. Therefore, the students must lean to the revolutionary struggle of the locomotive forces of history - the working class. The YCLSA students must revive the Freedom Charter, as the uniting doctrine for the dismantling of the status quo, the white dominant ownership of the economy. They must eventually mobilise the social forces in the institutions of high learning to fight against the capitalism mode of production and automatically end triple contractions, unemployment, poverty and inequality.
* Ashley Nyiko Mabasa is the YCLSA Shimi Matlala University of the Witwatersrand Branch secretary