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Nelson Mandela, in his own words

By staff

Fight Back News Service is circulating some quotes from the icon of the South African anti-apartheid movement. The following quotes are from Mandela’s 1990 speech at a Johannesburg rally to re-launch the South African Communist Party. Nelson Mandela: The ANC [African National Congress] is not a Communist Party. But as a defender of democracy, it has fought and will continue to fight for the right of the Communist Party to exist. As a movement for national liberation, the ANC has no mandate to espouse a Marxist ideology. But as a democratic movement, as a Parliament of the people of our country, the ANC has defended and will continue to defend the right of any South African to adhere to the Marxist ideology if that is their wish.

To us as a democratic movement, the lesson of our history is very clear. It is what the peoples of Europe learnt during the turbulent decade of the 1930s, when fascism began its assault on democracy by launching a violent offensive against the Communists.

It is the same lesson that the people of the United States learnt during the decade of the nineteen fifties, when the forces of Macarthyism launched an assault aimed at undermining the democratic heritage of the American people, by conducting a virulent offensive against Communist and left opinion.

Theologians of the German Church understood these processes very well when they said the Christian Church did nothing when the Nazis attacked the Communists. And again the Church did nothing when the Nazis turned their brutal attention to the Socialists. And when the Nazis turned against Christian men and women of conscience, the Church found that there was nobody to defend it.

This is a mistake the ANC never made, because we understood that the banning of the Communist Party in 1950, was but a prelude to the suppression of all democratic opinion in our country. This is a lesson that those within the National Party, who consider themselves to be Democrats, need to learn very quickly.

Mandela: We are here today to participate with you in the public launch of the Communist Party, 40 years after it was banned. We do this because during the nearly 70 years of its existence, the Communist Party has distinguished itself as an ally in the common struggle to end the racial oppression and exploitation of the black masses of our country. It has fought side by side with the ANC for the common objective of the National Liberation of people, without seeking to impose its views on our movement.

Mandela: Because we have an urgent task to attain our emancipation, we insist that the talks must go on. Our freedom should not be postponed or denied simply because some people have a secret agenda to sustain an anti-democratic crusade against Communist opinion.

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