Mbhazima Shilowa: Nelson Mandela was no sell-out

Mbhazima Shilowa says those who say Mandela was a 'sell-out' must watch some of his debates, including Mandela's first-ever pre-election debate with FW de Klerk on April 14 1994.
Mbhazima Shilowa says those who say Mandela was a 'sell-out' must watch some of his debates, including Mandela's first-ever pre-election debate with FW de Klerk on April 14 1994.
Image: Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images

Former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa has shut down the growing number of people on social media expressing the opinion that Nelson Mandela was a "sell-out."

Tuesday marked 30 years since the former president was released from prison, after the unbanning of political organisations such as the ANC, PAC and SACP.

Over the years many, including prominent politicians, have suggested that Mandela sold out during the negotiations to end apartheid, saying that he granted black South Africans political freedom but failed to do so economically, as blacks still live in poverty and misery.

In a series of tweets, Shilowa said those who speak of Mandela having sold out were never with him in an engagement with the National Party and IFP.

“They don’t know how close we were to a civil war. It’s not what you could do but what the other side could do to destabilise the country,” said Shilowa.

"[The People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola] MPLA and [The Mozambique Liberation Front] Frelimo had to negotiate with [The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola] Unita and [The Mozambican National Resistance] Renamo in the end, after many lives had been lost.”

Recalling the day before the 1994 elections, Shilowa said bombs exploded around and near the ANC offices.

“In fact, many died after Mandela’s release and the unbanning of the ANC, all aimed at derailing the negotiations process.”

Shilowa called on those who said Mandela was a sell-out to watch some of his debates, including Mandela's first-ever pre-election debate with FW de Klerk on April 14 1994.

“It would help to watch Madiba dressing down FW both at Codesa 1 and in election debate. Or when the NP and business with some in the ANC sought to impose the lockout in the construction,” Shilowa said.

“When IFP and [King Goodwill] Zwelithini marched [to] Cato Shell House, he called for its defence.

“And during the commission, he said 'I gave the order to defend it, including shooting if necessary'. That’s not the actions of a sell-out, at least to me.”

Shilowa said the comrades who were with Mandela led him as president of the country.

“Codesa only paved the way for the elections, the interim constitution and the dismantling of the bantustans. The final constitution is a framework for social and economic transformation.

“It is up to the government of the day, with people taking mass action, to realise it,” he said.

Shilowa ended the thread by saying: “You do not win on the table what you couldn’t win in battle.

“We all said it’s a beachhead but not yet Uhuru.”


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