THE FREEDOM CHARTER A CAUSE TO CELEBRATE?
On Friday South Africa commemorated the sixtieth anniversary of the Freedom Charter which was adopted by 2844 delegates at a gathering named the Congress of the People in the veld at Kliptown, near Soweto in Johannesburg on 26 June 1955.
The document collated the views of thousands of people and drafted at the instigation of ZK Mathews the Cape leader of the ANC it was drawn up by an umbrella committee comprising of members the ANC, the SAIC, SACTU, and the Coloured People’s Congress as well the communist Congress of Democrats and was called the National Action Congress later known as the Congress Alliance..
Although now appropriated by the ANC as being theirs the charter was actually adopted at a gathering of the Congress Alliance of which the ANC was a component part. In actual fact it was only officially incorporated into ANC policy a year later.
In many aspects the Charter is a moderate document trying to give meaning to words such as democracy, liberty and freedom. However, the strong influence of the communist Congress of Democrats caused the inclusion of distinct socialist doctrines of Nationalisation and abolition of private ownership.
With the exception of the outdated and impractical economic sections of the document it can be regarded as articulating a non racial vision for the country as encapsulated in the preamble “that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white”, all principles incorporated into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The major problem is that when it suits them the ANC try to elevate the Freedom Charter above the Constitution, the highest law in the land, whereas the Freedom Charter is a policy document with no legal standing. When it suits the government they undermine its principles and spirit in the name of transformation.
The Charter consists of a preamble and ten clauses intended as a guideline to a successful and democratic country. These are discussed below.
1. The People Shall Govern:
This clause has in the main been implemented but warning lights are now beginning to flash with the recent appointment of Mr.Vuma Mashinini, as the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Mashinini is a close comrade of President Zuma and has been employed in the Presidency since May 2010, earning well over R1 million a year.
A sub clause proclaims that “All people shall be entitled to take part in the administration of the country”. It is common knowledge that there are thousands of vacant posts in state departments and parastatals that are vacant because if filled by suitably qualified people will upset the racial quotas of the entity. Minority groups are being discriminated against in the name of transformation resulting in service delivery suffering.
- All National Groups Shall have Equal Rights:
The constitution prescribes that the ‘racial and gender composition should be broadly reflected in the judiciary, state institutions supporting democracy and the public administration’ the ANC has misinterpreted this to implement racial quotas. At the ANC1997 party conference in Mafikeng the party adopted a resolution empowering the ANC national executive committee to appoint ‘party cadres’ to ‘key centres of power’ a violation of the charter’s sub clause which state that “There shall be equal status in the bodies of state, in the courts and in the schools for all national groups and races”.
Another sub clause under this section proclaims “All people shall have equal right to use their own language and to develop their own folk culture and customs” is disregarded when statues are defaced and removed and non offensive names that are changed without due regard to everybody’s feelings.
Another sub clause that states “All people shall have equal right to use their own languages and to develop their own folk culture and customs” is ignored. The ANC tries to interfere in the language policy of schools with little or no consultation.
3. The People Shall Share in the Country`s Wealth:
Fortunately, the government has not implemented the clearly socialist promises with much vigour. Imagine the chaos that would arise if the sub clause “The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole”. The state of Eskom and other entities such as SAA and the Post Office that are run and managed under government control with ‘deployed cadres’ in senior management positions illustrate what chaos there would be in our economy.
The South African banking system is highly regarded as being well managed and regulated. Imagine the chaos if they were nationalised. The international rating agencies would have classified them in the ‘junk status’ league. No international banks would operate in the country for fear of nationalisation.
The best solution for the government to ‘share the Country’s wealth’ lies in implementing the National Development Plan that the party adopted. Unfortunately they only play lip service to this policy because their tripartite alliance partners are fundamentally opposed to it.
If implemented it would certainly go a long way to reducing unemployment and eliminating poverty and would give effect to the sub clause that “All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions”.
4. The Land shall be shared Among Those Who Work It:
After twenty one years in power the government land distribution programme is in complete disarray. They want to limit farm sizes, eliminate foreign ownership of farm land. However, many farmers who want to sell their farms are either ignored or have their offers lost in bureaucracy and never processed. Implementation of this will ensure that SA is not self reliant to provide food for all the population.
Yet again many emerging farmers are allocated land and not given any training or start up capital. They are in fact set up for failure.
5. All shall be Equal before the Law:
A noble sentiment but certainly not practiced by the current ANC government. There are increasing signs of the government threatening to infringe on the independence of the judiciary.
We have just this week seen the government ignore an order of a full bench of the Gauteng North High Court regarding the Al-Bashir case. In parliament Ms Lindiwe Siszulu last week stated that “this government will never prosecute a sitting president” in other words no matter what crime he commits President Zuma is above the law!
- All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights:
The right to information is a fundamental human right but this government, as the apartheid government did, threatens to create a press tribunal, to clamp down on journalists and NGO’s that receive foreign funding. Knowledge is power and the government does not want the voters to know of their shortcomings and corrupt activities.
- There Shall be Work and Security:
With unemployment currently at 35.6% work and security is a myth. South Africa needs an annual economic growth rate of 8%, a business-friendly before fairness and justice and unemployment will be achieved.
South Africa can only succeed if the National Development Plan is implemented in its entirety and government does not only ‘cherry pick’ the clauses that its allies want to implement.
8. The Doors of Learning and Culture shall be opened!
Yes, there are schools but their conditions are horrendous. 3 544 schools do not have electricity, a further 804 schools have an unreliable electricity source, 2402 schools have no water supply, with a further 2611 schools have an unreliable water supply and 913 do not have any ablution facilities while 11 450 schools are still using pit latrine toilets.
The standard of education has also declined dramatically with many matriculants being unemployable because of their low standard of literacy and numeracy. The matric pass rates may have increased but with a pass rate of only 33% for individual subjects little wonder that a matric certificate is no longer enough.
For those wanting tertiary education the government again fall foul of the charter which states that “education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit”. Our tertiary institutions remain over crowded and scholarships are awarded on a quota basis, merit plays a minor role. Little wonder many of our brightest and best students migrate to obtain a degree.
- There Shall be Houses, Security and Comfort:
The government embraced this clause with gusto promising millions of RDP houses. This mission also fell flat with tenders again being awarded to contractors who were either unable or unwilling to build according to the specifications and had to be reaired and in many cases rebuilt – wasting millions of rands.
With a R264million security upgrade I think that only President Zuma can feel safe in his house. All other South African live in fear of the lives and possessins.
- There Shall be Peace and Friendship:
This clause was meant to form the basis of South African foreign policy. However, when we befriend and protect vicious dictators and thugs like Robert Mugabe and Omar Al-Bashir we can hardly be said to be at peace with the people of Africa and the world.
Looked at in its entirety the ANC has not got “a good story to tell” about the Freedom Charter.
Until next time,
This newsletter is published by Clive Hatch former Leader of the Opposition in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature and former DA Provincial Leader. These views are my personal views and do not represent those of any other person or organisation.