SAR, Vol 8, No 3-4, January-February 1993
Twenty years ago a group of us formed TCLPAC - the Toronto Committee for the Liberation of Portugal's African Colonies (later TCLSAC - the Toronto Committee for the Liberation of Southern Africa). Various publications sponsored by the committee over the years - ranging from books steeped in "analytical rigour," through pamphlets, newsletters and information bulletins, to virtually every form of agitational ephemera - culminated, some eight years ago, in the launching of Southern Africa Report . Now, on the occasion of the parent committee's twentieth anniversary, SAR returns the compliment, in the form of this special double-issue to mark TCLSAC's twentieth anniversary.
We've come, however, neither to bury TCLSAC nor even, in any very marked way, to praise it. Praise? Rather than embrace the dubious undertaking of self-congratulation (or even the often all too arch business of "self-criticism") we asked Richard Swift - a long-time activist on the Toronto scene and currently an editor of the New Internationalist - to profile the committee's history for us instead. Swift - "who is not now and never has been a member of TCLSAC" - challenged the editorial working group with some observations that hit uncomfortably close to home and triggered fascinating debates among us regarding his more controversial judgements. But we were pleased, in the end, to have a piece that spoke so eloquently beyond the immediacy of local circumstance to introduce tough questions about the strengths and weaknesses of solidarity work, past, present and future.
. . . and future? To repeat, we have no more intention of burying TCLSAC than of praising it. As will be apparent from recent numbers of this magazine, the committee has been seeking fresh ways - the establishment of a novel "South-South-North network" is an example - to redefine its activities so as to make them speak more directly to the challenges that right now confront both southern Africans and those Canadians who wish to work in solidarity with them. Indeed, as we have argued previously (notably in our March, 1992, issue on "The New Terms of Solidarity"), we feel that the situation may actually be even more propitious than it was during the hey-day of the anti-apartheid movement for forging lasting links between Canadians and southern Africans.
There is, for example, a much sharper sense of a common vulnerability to the arbitrary workings of the international market-place at both ends, south and north, of the solidarity equation, as well as a growing mutual awareness of the complexities implied in the world-wide debate about "democratization" and empowerment. We might even suggest that, whatever the other merits of his article, Swift is guilty in his concluding paragraphs of underestimating the potential saliency, the concrete and living reality, of such shared solidarity concerns. We look forward to a lively correspondence on such questions, in any case. Here we will merely draw readers' attention to a second related article in the present issue, one written by Bob Jeffcott of the Toronto-based Latin American Working Group. Jeffcott sketches, helpfully, the debates among Latin America-focussed support activists regarding the "new terms of solidarity" that might be relevant to redefining their own work in a post-Cold War epoch of unrestrained, capitalist-sponsored globalization. One struggle, many fronts? Certainly, in underscoring many parallels between LAWG's rethinking of its mandate and our own concerns, Jeffcott reinforces our sense as to how challenging - and yet how promising - the road ahead for solidarity work is likely to be.
* * *
So, members, don't get weary. Addressing a meeting of anti-apartheid activists several years ago in Washington, a prominent figure in the U. S. solidarity network looked wistfully around the crowded room and noted the host of familiar faces he saw. "I know many of you have been involved in this struggle a long time," he said, "and you're probably getting a bit frustrated and a bit tired. So I want you to do something for me. Please, everybody, stand up from your seats." The group, quizzically, struggled to its feet. "Now," he instructed, "everybody take a deep breath." As, a second later, we all exhaled, he interjected good-humouredly: "That's all the rest you're going to get!"
So much, then, for TCLSAC's twentieth anniversary: Swift's article - and an accompanying pictorial essay, designed to capture something of both the valour and the horror of the past twenty years of southern African history - is all the rest we're going to get. Other articles in this issue stand on more familiar ground - even if there are rather more of them in this double issue than usual. Most noteworthy, perhaps, is Linda Freeman's survey of Canadian policy towards southern Africa - an annual feature in these pages since SAR 's inception and in itself reason enough, some readers tell us, to hold onto a complete set of back issues. Freeman once again probes beneath the rhetoric - and the pregnant silences - emanating from Ottawa and what she reveals is no prettier a picture than in previous years. Our government, she suggests, is "trapped by past gestures" in a more progressive policy stance than it feels comfortable with and is eagerly looking for a way out of it.
Of course, even the most casual reader of the daily newspapers might, up to a point, grasp as much. Consider the bald juxtaposition, on successive days, of stories in many Canadian papers noting - day one - Mulroney's refusal to meet Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu and - day two - his amiable exchange (complete with photo opportunity) with the reprehensible Chief Gatsha Buthelezi (see p. 00, below). But Freeman - reporting on developments on numerous policy fronts - suggests many other good reasons for concerned Canadians to keep the pressure on our own government during the difficult transition process to a democratic future in South Africa.
Fortunately, the present issue also provides a wealth of material for the reader eager to keep up with the processes at work inside South Africa itself - not least a timely reminder from Gerry Maré regarding Buthelezi's own machinations in Kwazulu, where he continues his attempt to reduce the struggle for democratic advance in South Africa to a mere turf war. In addition, however, Janet Cherry brings more promising news from the Eastern Cape regarding political developments there, Tom Lodge reports on recent attempts by the ANC to come to terms with its own troubled past, Karl von Holdt concludes his reflections on the emergence, within the working class movement, of the project of "strategic unionism," and David MacDonald scrutinizes several books that seek to place environmental concerns more centrally on the agenda of a new South Africa. We are fortunate, too, to have a uniquely revealing African perspective on South Africa, in the form of an account by Tanzanian political scientist, Mohamed Halfani, of his recent trip as part of a Canadian-based study-team investigating urban issues in that country.
And more besides. Ann Griffin, Deputy Executive Director of the Washington-based TransAfrica, reflects on the challenges - and the opportunities - confronting the new Clinton administration as it seeks to define a southern African policy of its own; she launches what we hope will be a fresh series of articles on region-relevant developments in the U. S. by various observer/activists there. And Victoria Brittain reports on her first hand investigation of the recent Angolan election and its immediate aftermath, focussing on the way in which outside interests (South Africa, in particular) are arbitrarily moving the goalposts - from the requirement of democratic elections to the requirement of power sharing - in the continuing attempt to manipulate developments in that country. As she indicates, this is merely one further indication that people throughout the southern Africa region remain hostage to the as yet unrealized transition to a more democratic dispensation inside South Africa itself. On such regional fronts, too, there is clearly solidarity work that cries out to be done.
Our twentieth anniversary issue, then. Enjoy! - or if that doesn't strike you as being quite the right injunction to spring from an issue as full as this one is of sobering materials, try: get busy. We will be. You'd better reserve your copy of our thirtieth anniversary issue now!
- 30 -
Contents - Vol 8 No 3-4
"South Africa 1993"
Trapped in Past Gestures:
Canada and South Africa 1992 - 3
by Linda Freeman
TCL'd Pink: 20 Years of Solidarity - 9
by Richard Swift
The New Terms of Solidarity:
Lessons from Latin America - 14
by Bob Jeffcott
Spectres from the Camps:
The ANC's Commission of Enquiry - 19
by Tom Lodge
The Paradox of Poverty:
The Politics of Compromise in the Eastern Cape - 22
by Janet Cherry
Playing His Last Card? Buthelezi's Regional Option - 31
by Gerhard Maré
Strategic Unionism: The Debate - 36
by Karl von Holdt
When Democracy is Not Enough:
Denying Angola's Electoral Result - 41
by Victoria Brittain
Inside Apartheid: Memories of a Tanzanian Visitor - 47
by Mohamed Halfani
Waiting for Clinton - 51
by Anne Griffin
It's Not Easy Being Green:
Environmental Politics in South Africa - 54
by David McDonald
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s) and not do necessarily reflect the views of the AfricaFiles' editors and network members. They are included in our material as a reflection of a diversity of views and a variety of issues. Material written specifically for AfricaFiles may be edited for length, clarity or inaccuracies.