Hero Worship of Mandela Blinds Conrad Mbewe

I appreciate a lot of what Conrad Mbewe has to say about a wide range of topics. That’s why I was interested to hear what he has to say about Mandela now that the African leader has passed. Mbewe is an African Reformed Baptist pastor whose theological views are generally in line with mine. Because of this and the fact that he ministers in Africa, I was curious to see what he might have to say about the late Mandela.

You can read Mbewe’s article on Mandela here. I take no issue with the theology detailed in the article. However, Mbewe asks a question that I would like to answer. He says, “While many have hailed Mandela as perhaps the greatest African leader, others have dismissed him as a terrorist and communist. How, can one explain this?” Mbewe then goes on to explain that Mandela’s involvement in guerilla warfare was complicated and that it is unfair to label him as a terrorist because of the complexity of the situation. He then fails to even address the issue of Mandela’s communism.

How can one explain why some people have dismissed Mandela as a terrorist and a communist? I am not familiar enough with his violent activities, but it is quite easy to conclude that Mandela was a communist. Allow me to explain.

The Freedom Charter was the statement of core principles of the South African Congress Alliance, which consisted of the African National Congress (ANC) and its allies. Mandela held numerous positions in the ANC: ANCYL secretary (1948); ANCYL president (1950); ANC Transvaal president (1952); deputy national president (1952) and ANC president (1991). The Freedom Charter was officially adopted at the Congress of the People on June 26, 1955. You can read through the entire charter on the ANC website, but allow me to highlight some statements for you and explain how it reveals the ANC’s and Mandela’s communism.

The charter states:

That South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people.

At the time this was written, the land within South Africa actually belonged to specific people. In order for the land to be given to the “people,” the state would have to forcibly take the land from those who owned it.

The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people.

At the time this was written, all the wealth within South Africa was owned by specific people. Some had very little. Some had much. Regardless, it all belonged to someone. The charter denied people the right to their own wealth.

The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole.

At the time this was written, all the mineral wealth and banks were owned by specific people. The charter denied people the right to their own property.

Restrictions of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended, and all the land re-divided amongst those who work it to banish famine and land hunger.

The charter took all the land from those who owned it and gave that stolen land to whomever had been hired to work on the land.

All shall have the right to occupy land wherever they choose.

According to this, the charter completely abolished the right of land ownership.

The state shall recognize the right and duty of all to work, and to draw full unemployment benefits.

Under the charter, everyone was to have the responsibility to work, even if that work was simply the collection of unemployment benefits.

There shall be a forty-hour working week, a national minimum wage, paid annual leave, and sick leave for all workers, and maternity leave on full pay for all working mothers.

All employers were required by the state to adopt these specific terms. Under the charter, a free market of labor simply would not exist. The labor market would be completely controlled by the state.

Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children; Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit.

I find it fascinating that education would be both free and compulsory. That seems like a bit of a contradiction. In order for education to be free, all the teachers, administrators, and curriculum writers would have to volunteer their time. Since we know that would never happen, from where would the money come to pay for education? Furthermore, can you imagine the children of a free society being forced to attend government schools?

All people shall have the right to live where they choose, be decently housed, and to bring up their families in comfort and security. Unused housing space to be made available to the people. Rent and prices shall be lowered, food plentiful and no-one shall go hungry. Free medical care and hospitalization shall be provided for all, with special care for mothers and young children. The aged, the orphans, the disabled and the sick shall be cared for by the state.

In where other than a communist society do people have the right to “be decently housed”? In where else than a communist society can the state confiscate unused property and make it available to “the people”? In where other than a communist society can the state tell landlords how much they can charge for rent and food producers how much they can charge for their produce? Where other than in a communist society does the state provide “free” healthcare for all and are the aged, orphans, disabled, and sick “cared for” by the state?

Anyone who is not blind can see that the Freedom Charter, the African National Congress, and Nelson Mandela are all communist. Unfortunately, Mbewe is blind. He is blinded by his hero worship of Mandela. In Mbewe’s own words, “For the cause for which [Mandela] lived, i.e. the freedom of all the people of his country, it is difficult to find someone else alive today who can be a better icon. Facts are very stubborn things. The best we can do is to admit them. Mandela was an African liberator par excellence!” Maybe Mbewe is talking about a different Mandela; but the ideals laid out in the Freedom Charter don’t sound very liberating to me. It is fascinating to me that Mbewe could describe as a liberator anyone who would steal all property and wealth and require all children to attend government indoctrination centers. Based upon what is written in the Freedom Charter, I think it would be more accurate to describe Mandela as a communist.

So, why is this important? Why have I taken the time to answer Mbewe’s question? It is important because God tells us that people have a right to their own property and wealth when he says, “You shall not steal” (Ex 20:15; NASB). God tells us that it is wrong to look at what your neighbor has and desire to take it for yourself when he says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Ex 20:17). Confiscating the wealth and property of another person, even if it is done with and through the power of the state, is contrary to God’s character, and people who dedicate their lives to ideals that are contrary to God’s character should never be praised as liberators by Reformed ministers.

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