June 16 Commemorations
In memory of the martyrs of the June 16, 1976 Soweto Uprising, the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania, the Pan Africanist Youth Congress (PAYCO) and the rest of its component structures insist that this day is “FOREVER JUNE 16”.
That is the case because this part of our history was written with the blood of the innocent, freedom loving, sons and daughters of Africa. Thus, the PAC has not, does not and will never celebrate this day but instead would commemorate and regard it as one of the heroic days in the struggle calendar. It is consistent with the African culture that any tragedy is mourned, commemorated and not celebrated.
All these years of claims and counter-claims about June 16, there is a reality that has been deliberately ignored by the powers that be. This reality is the longest political trial in South Africa — the Bethal 18 secret trial in which the Lion of Azania, Zephania Mothopeng, was accused number one.
The trial was held secret so as not to give any publicity to the activities of the PAC. It was a declared policy of the racist regime to isolate the PAC with the aim of crushing it.
The Lion of Azania together with the other 17 PAC members were charged for conspiring and influencing the students’ mass action in Soweto 1976. Uncle Zeph was sentenced to 30 years in prison and was sent to Robben Island.
Among the 18 trialists were fellow comrades John Ganya, Mark Shinners, Hamilton Keke, Alfred Neshaineshai, Julius Landingwe, Zolile Ndindwa, Moffat Zungu, Michael Khala, Goodwell Nyathi, Temba Hlatshwayo, Molatlegi Tlhale, Rodney Tsoletsane and Daniel Matsobane.
Four others were tortured to death while in police detention. These were Dr. Naboth Ntshuntsha, Daniel Malinga, Arthur Khoza and Bonaventura Malaza.
In the Supreme Court of South Africa – Local Division, Judge Curlewis found for the apartheid regime’s prosecution in 1979 that the PAC played a leading role in the Soweto Uprising. Evidence before Judge Curlewis showed that the PAC organized and fixed the date of the Soweto Uprising.
A young student witness told the court that Zeph Mothopeng had said at a meeting in May 1976 that riots were being planned which would result in a countrywide revolution. School children would start by stoning and burning government buildings according to a June 9, 1978 issue of the Rand Daily Mail.
June 16 was not just a mere protest by students but a well planned revolutionary action by the people listed above and many others. The PAC in Robben Island took a stand that all those that are released must identify a common issue that will unite Africanist masses against the apartheid regime.
We want to reassure the nation that the PAC history will never be destroyed but only be delayed. However, we the youth of the PAC say that the martyrs who fell on June 16 would never have sat back in this current quagmire that this country finds itself on.
Currently the unemployment rate is sitting at 42 percent with 70 percent of the unemployed being youth. The HIV/AIDS epidemic that is destroying our country and continent, education morass, poverty, high inflation rate — the list is endless.
We call upon the youth to come and join, support the PAC in a quest to salvage the African masses in this neo-liberal economic and social crisis in this country. The question is, who is currently governing this country and what are they doing on this current crisis.
Youth Development Agency
The PAC youth says all these government youth structures like Umsobomvu Youth Fund, Youth Commission and the Youth Councils are just mere structures that only focus on producing youth with corrupt tendencies, vulgar materialist display and also act as employment agencies for the African National Congress (ANC) youth, but not for the benefit and uplifment of the poor African youth in general. We therefore call for a regime change in government where youth will be given a say on the future.
In 1994, Mr. Nelson Mandela and his ANC said the doors of learning shall be open to all, but currently that is not the case. The education in this country is only for the privileged as it is a sold commodity. Hence the historic demand of the Pan Africanist for a free education from crèche to tertiary education remains the ultimate solution.
At the same time we wish to put on record the argument that merger of tertiary institutions headed by the former Minster of Education Prof Kader Asmal has proven to be a dismal failure and has neither given a clear strategic direction to the “merged” institution nor addressed the all important question of transformation of the education system.
It is for this reason that Pan Africanist youth formations, namely PAYCO and PASMA, intend to follow up the former minster to engage and prove to him that the arrogance with which he undertook the “merger” of institution was uncalled for. This is meant to teach the lesson of how leaders should conduct themselves when they are elected in government and to ensure that stepping out office won’t absolve anyone form the blunders and mess that they created.
The current xeno-Afrophobia
The Pan Africanist Congress and its youth structures want to put it clear that this is not xenophiobia but only xeno-Afrophobia as these attacks are directed to only other African nationals. The intervention by government to create camps is the worst phenomenon as these camps are a total disaster when it comes to health, safety and education. Our African brothers and sisters do not deserve this kind of treatment as we believe that if it were people from Europe, the government would have organized five-star accommodation for them.
We want to call upon the South Africans who are involved in these acts to redirect their energies to the enemy, which are the multi-nationals, the government that is pushing a neo-liberal economic agenda. Somalians, Nigerians, Ethopians, Zimbabweans, etc. never colonized us and we don’t know why the missiles are directed at them.
The fact of the matter is, the current governing political party embraced neo-liberal policies that are not a solution to the toiling masses of Azania and these are just come backs from the negotiated settlements of the pre-1994 era.
From now on, in honoring the heroic martyrs of June 16, we will be mobilizing all the African people to direct their struggles on the basis of the principle.