The Lusaka Forum On A Peaceful Transition To A Non-Racial, Democratic South Africa

January 18, 1990
2 mins read




TOPIC:- The Lusaka Forum On A Peaceful Transition To A Non-Racial, Democratic South Africa.

This week, the ANC Seven, leaders of the African National Congress, released recently from a life imprisonment, and long-time fighters against apartheid in South Africa, have been visiting the external wing of the ANC, based in Lusaka, Zambia.

The meeting represents the first such broad-based consultations within the African National Congress, since it was banned in 1960. It was also a dramatic illustration of how far the anti-apartheid struggle has gone, since the Rivonia Trial of 1963, which led to the decimation of the underground structures of the ANC, and the subsequent imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Dennis Goldberg, amongst others.

The meeting in Lusaka should be a definitive departure point in the whole process of dismantling apartheid, and the creation of a non-racial, unitary, and democratic State, in South Africa. But all indications point to heated debates and frank analysis, on the route to a peaceful solution of the protracted crisis of apartheid.

The immediate backdrop to the Lusaka meeting are quite interesting in their dialectical colouration. In the first place, it must be noted that as a result of the nationwide mobilisation of forces, which culminated in the creation of the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM), the South African ruling class could not continue to rule in the old way.

As a result, a number of interesting changes have been initiated by President F.W. DeKlerke, in order, precisely, to forestall an almost inevitable revolutionary upheaval, which certainly would jeopardise the whole edifice of white privileges and power.It is within this context that the regime has released the ANC leaders visiting Lusaka this week, and has tacitly allowed the increasingly high profile of the ANC, within the country. The series of meetings being held with Nelson Mandela, by Ministers and President of South Africa, are also a part of this new process.

We might note with interest that on arrival in Lusaka, Walter Sisulu pointed out that the ANC must work out a thorough-going strategy to negotiate the handing over of power from the minority regime, in a democratic State, during this decade. A position shared by Joe Slovo, the only white member of ANC’s National Executive.


It would seem that the feelers for peaceful dialogue are in contradiction to the very militant speech which the National Executive Committee sent out to the South African people, on the occasion of the 78th anniversary of the ANC  on January 8th. That message had underlined the need to step up the armed struggle, in order to liquidate the apartheid system.

For long term observers of the strategies of the ANC however, we can discern the two positions as a dialectical whole, which forms the hammer and anvil, within which the apartheid monster is being systematically crushed.There is no doubt however, that the Lusaka meeting must provide new tactical, and perhaps, even strategic shifts, in the thinking of the cadres of the National Liberation Movement. The International situation is one that has been very conducive to a peaceful resolution of regional problems.

In the case of South Africa, the pertinent questions would seem to be, how to transfer power peacefully, in order to fulfill the age-old yearnings of the majority of the people, as encapsulated in the Freedom Charter? Can the National Liberation Movement trust the apartheid regime, to hand-off all the privileges which have accrued to the White minority, without being seen to be betraying the hopes of the people?

In Lusaka, in the next few days, the ANC must fall back upon its 78 years of experience, to come up with answers to questions that will change the whole set up of South Africa and the International situation, this decade.


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