Mandela and the SACP December 19, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in International Politics, The Left.
Many thanks to Garibaldy for pointing to the following from the Telegraph, a report on supposed proof that Nelson Mandela joined the South African Communist Party at some point. It’s all a bit vague and the framing of the story is particularly notable with the headline which very cautiously is structured as follows ‘Nelson Mandela ‘proven’ to be a member of the Communist Party after decades of denial’.
…research by a British historian, Professor Stephen Ellis, has unearthed fresh evidence that during his early years as an activist, Mr Mandela did hold senior rank in the South African Communist Party, or SACP. He says Mr Mandela joined the SACP to enlist the help of the Communist superpowers for the ANC’s campaign of armed resistance to white rule.
The evidence consists of minutes from SACP meetings where Mandela appears to be a member. To be honest I wonder is this much of a surprise to anyone if accurate. The toleration, and more, of the apartheid regime by the West in the post-war period – and the history of sanctions and the resistance to same by the US and UK is telling – deeply constraining the terrain on which the ANC could operate and that the SACP played a far from ignoble role in the resistance to apartheid.
The very, some would say remarkably, close working and political relationship between the SCAP and the ANC which continues to this day (and is – by the way – not beyond criticism in many regards) would naturally generate a context within which it might make sense for Mandela to join, if only in name. And as he famously said “There will always be those who say that the Communists were using us. But who is to say that we were not using them?”.
And there’s links both to Ireland and the Eastern bloc.
His book also provides fresh detail on how the ANC’s military wing had bomb-making lessons from the IRA, and intelligence training from the East German Stasi, which it used to carry out brutal interrogations of suspected “spies” at secret prison camps.
And there’s more on the IRA connection.
In his book, Professor Ellis, who also authored a publication on the Liberian civil war, elaborates on other murky aspects of the ANC’s past. One is that bomb-making experts from the IRA trained the ANC at a secret base in Angola in the late 1970s, a link disclosed last year in the posthumous memoirs of Kader Asmal, a South African politician of Indian extraction who was exiled in Ireland. He was a member of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement, which, Prof Mr Ellis says, in turn had close links to the British and South African Communist parties.
The IRA tutoring, which was allegedly brokered partly through Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, led to the ANC fighters improving their bombing skills considerably, thanks to the expertise of what Mr Ellis describes as “the world’s most sophisticated urban guerrilla force”.
All very interesting I think many will agree. That said for an insight into a very particular world view check out the comments under the Telegraph piece. Depressing.