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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 278

Paragraph Numbers 66 to 74

Volume 5

Chapter 7

Subsection 10

Contexts of political motives

66 What were the political motives? While apartheid, rooted in colonialism, may be the primary context for the struggle, two other, wider, contexts combined to produce the particularly volatile mix in South Africa.

The cold war context

67 The first was the international climate of cold war, in particular the virulent form of anti-Communism and anti-Marxism that took root after the 1948 election victory of the NP. According to former Minister of Law and Order Adriaan Vlok at the Commission hearing of 14 October 1997:

The mother organisations of the liberation movements, the ANC-PAC, were seen with justification as fronts and tools of the Marxist-Communist threat against the country … I believed and still believe that if the forces of Communism and Marxism since the 1950s were allowed to take over South Africa, our country would today be destroyed, impoverished and a backward country with an atheist communist ideology as the government policy … I saw it as part of my duty to fight against such thoughts, programmes or initiatives and to ensure that these objectives were not successful.

68 Not only leaders but countless foot-soldiers were fed on a diet of this sort of propaganda over a long period. In the same testimony, Mr Vlok says clearly:

We actually still referred to them as the enemy in those days; the enemy was doing this that and the other.
The anti-colonial context

69 The second wider context was the anti-colonial resistance movement in Africa, particularly in the neighbouring territories of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola and Mozambique. This occurred over the same period and became deeply entangled with the South African struggle. Although the liberation movement was dominated by the non-racialism of the ANC and anti-racism of other movements such as Black Consciousness, some organisations interpreted it as a struggle against whites. Mr Ntobeki Peni, a member of the Pan Africanist Students’ Organisation (PASO) who was involved in the murder of Ms Amy Biehl in Gugulethu in August 1993, expressed it thus:

These speeches were closed with the slogan “one settler, one bullet”. I understood this slogan to apply to every white person who came into the line of fire during an APLA operation, or an operation to support APLA, or where we, as PASO members were to assist in making the country ungovernable.

70 While both the ANC and the PAC made it clear in their political submissions that their primary motives were in response to the apartheid regime, it is also clear in their joint campaign and their alliance with others in the front-line states, together with their involvement in organisations such as the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organisation for African Unity, that the local struggle was part of the wider anti-colonial movement in Africa. The PAC submission stated:

When the Organisation of African Unity was formed in May 1963, it gave support to armed struggle through its Liberation Committee based in Dar-es-Salaam. Many countries in Europe and Asia channelled their aid to our people through the OAU Liberation Committee.

71 The ANC submission quite succinctly identifies anti-colonialism as the central political motive:

At the root of South Africa’s conflict was the system of colonial subjugation. Like other colonial countries, South Africa was victim to the rapacious licence of an era that defined might as right, an epoch of international morality that justified dispossession and turned owner into thief, victim into aggressor, and humble host into ungodly infidel.

72 Further on, the ANC submission states:

Thus ranged against one another, in intensifying conflict, were the oppressor and the oppressed, the owners of wealth of the country and the dispossessed, the rightless and the privileged. The ANC was a product of this history and this conflict, not their creator.

73 The issues surrounding resistance to colonial domination in South Africa were further complicated by the perception on the part of many of the dominant political forces that the Afrikaner population, too, had been injured by attempts at colonial subjugation by the British. This perspective was carefully laid out in the political party submission of the Freedom Front. Describing the effects of the discovery of South Africa’s mineral wealth, General Constand Viljoen states:

It invited the greedy attentions of colonialist powers, particularly Great Britain who in its imperialistic drive soon had second thoughts on its endorsement of the independence of existing Boer republics … The result was war and trauma of a sort that have in a way not yet been resolved.
For it conditioned the white tribe of Africa – the Afrikaners – to consolidate in a nation around the dangerous sentiments of a collective sense of injustice, discrimination and deprivation.

74 In the first Freedom Front submission, General Viljoen suggests:

We may have redirected our quarrel with the British to our compatriots in South Africa.
 
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