In 1955 the Congress of the People adopted the Freedom Charter, which was declared as a communist document by the National Party government. The Freedom Charter is the backbone of the South African Constitution which is the most progressive constitution in the world. This paper aims to determine whether or not the Freedom Charter is a communist document, by examining the history of the Freedom Charter and why the National Party considered it a communist document, defining communism, finding similarities between communist principles and the Freedom Charter. With these, this paper will aim to show that the Freedom Charter is or is not a communist document.
The Freedom Charter was the ...view middle of the document...
The Freedom Charter was aimed at building a united movement with a common vision. In the 1980s, many organizations including the United Democratic Front endorsed the document for its non-racial, democratic ideals (Sanders, 1989).
The Congress of the People had a sequel in the form of the marathon Treason Trial that lasted from December 1956 through to March 1961. In an attempt to intimidate the Congress Alliance and to neutralize its leadership, the police spent a year and a half after the Kliptown Congress collecting what it considered incriminating evidence and then on December 5, 1956, swooped down on homes all over South Africa, arresting 156 leaders and organizers of the movement on charges of high treason (Willcock, 2005). The prosecution charged that the freedom charter was a communist document, that the ANC planned the violent overthrow of the state, and that the plot was inspired by international communism (Suttner, 1985). These charges were ludicrous and were exposed as such in court proceedings. After a year, charges were withdrawn against 61 of the accused; as time passed, charges against others were dropped, and the remaining 30 accused were finally acquitted in March 1961 (Manamela, 2008). Although the state did succeed in disrupting the libratory movement in the late 1950s and neutralizing a large part of its leadership, it failed, however, to intimidate the movement (Manamela, 2008). This succeeded only in strengthening solidarity within the Congress Alliance, publicizing its cause internationally and elevating it in the eyes of the broad mass of the people (No Author).
Communism is a theoretical economic system characterized by the collective ownership of property and by the organization of labour for the common advantage of all members (Valach, 2009). Communism is also a system of governance in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people (Almond, 1983). The Freedom Charter aims to produce this sort of governance in the post-Apartheid Regime lead South Africa (Manamela, 2008). Thus it can be said that the Freedom Charter can be classified as a communist document.
The People Shall Share in the Country`s Wealth; The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people. The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole; All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people; All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions (Freedom Charter, 1955).
Communism is an economic and social system in which all or nearly all property and resources are collectively owned by a democratic, even handed society and not by individual citizens....