Nelson Mandela: Apostle of peace and non-violence

Lalit Shastri

Year 2018 marks 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth.

In February 1990 the South African racist regime was left with no option but to free Mandela, a giant of a leader, living legend and symbol of the revolutionary struggle for a non-racial, democratic South Africa.

With the announcement of the release of Mandela, who had remained a prisoner of apartheid and had spent 27 years of incarceration in the fascist goal, a new chapter was opened in the long and bitter struggle by the majority of South African population against apartheid, racism, exploitation, cruelty and terror.

Mandela’s release was treated as a major victory of the South African people, who had rallied around the African National Congress – the nationalist party that derived its main strength from Mandela.

From prison, Mandela had led a a brave and courageous struggle against dehumanisation of the masses of South Africa. His release had opened up the new road to a non-racial South Africa. The then South African president De Klerk, who had ordered Mandela’s release and the racist ruling circles had done no favour to Mandela or the struggling masses. In fact the decision to release him was a direct culmination of the mass struggle and and the armed fight by the black majority that rallied around the ANC and was having full support of the international community. In fact, international pressure had its own role in putting pressure on De Klerk to open the prison gates.

A few months before his release, in October 1989, the ANC had warned the South African Government that it should unconditionally release , Mandela and hundreds of fighters who had been imprisoned for taking part in the struggle to end the ban on all people’s organisations. Of these demands, only on two major counts, the racist South African regime had paid any heed and it had responded by lifting the ban on ANC to prepare the stage for the release of Mandela.

In this way De Klerk had succeeded in creating an atmosphere of high expectations and intentions to arm the apologists of the South African regime to stave off more sanctions and the growing isolation of the regime. In this way, De Klerk could also defuse militancy and defiance of the majority through direct offensive that was witnessed on the roads of Pretoria and other parts of South AFrica soon after Mandela’s release. the continuing mass detentions, assassination of trade union leaders and harassment of sections of the mass democratic movement betrayed the regimes true intentions.

In the euphoria of Mandela’s release, apartheid continued to be in its place while scores of those fighting against apartheid continued to languish in jails. in those circumstances apartheid in all its manifestations remained in place.

The 1989 Tricameral elections in South Africa will be remembered nor fir the reverses suffered by the National Party but for the strikes , boycotts and the barricades,besides the fact that the South African people had voted for freedom, democracy and non-racialism. Even De Klerk, in his inaugural speech at that point of time had said that no white minority regime possessed either the will or the capacity to bring about fundamental changes in South Africa.

In this backdrop, the anti-people policies of the South African racist regime did not last long.

Mandela was released from prison on 11 February 1990 and was separated in 1992 from his wife Winnie Mandela, a South African anti-apartheid activist and politician who had served on the ANC’s National Executive Committee and headed its Women’s League. She was accused of exerting a “reign of terror”, and was “at the centre of an orgy of violence in Soweto.

South Africa has traveled a long road since the release of Mandela from prison in 1990. Recently South Africa was rocked by news about the Gupta family, that was counted among the richest in South Africa. The controversial family of the Guptas was more infamous than famous for its close ties with former President of South Africa Jacob Zuma and his family. The family was charged for racketeering, money laundering,and benefiting from the proceeds of unlawful activities, and acquiring, possessing or using the proceeds of unlawful activities in terms of the Prevention of Organized Crime Act (No. 121 of 1998); and submitting false, or untrue, tax returns in terms of the Tax Administration Act (No. 28 of 2011). The Gupta empire blew up with Zuma’s exit from presidency in February 2018.

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