Letter to Mandela

Author: Tabata I.B.



Unity Movement of South Africa


Tabata’s letter to Nelson Mandela, written in 1948, was first published in Zambia in 1965 under the auspices of the leadership of the Unity Movement of South Africa in exile. Aimed mainly at those in Africa who were sympathetic to the South African liberatory struggle, its purpose was to explain how the programme and ideology of the UMSA differed from other South African political organisations. Since then this letter has acquired a new relevance.

At present, the ANC-led Government of National Unity, under the presidency of Mandela, faces widespread and growing criticism for its failure to effect any meaningful change in the conditions of existence of the South African masses. Most of these criticisms rest on the underlying assumption that such a change is possible within the realms of the new political order that was born in 1994. Yet every new development brings into question not merely the willingness of the ANC and the entire new political regime to realise this goal, but whether it is possible simply by a suitable revision of governmental strategies.

The relevance of Tabata’s letter lies in its illustration of the importance of a principled political programme that is based on a fundamental understanding of the contending forces in society. It demonstrates clearly that the reasons for the failures of the ANC are not simply to be found in the present but in the political path that it chose many years ago. It teaches us that there is no clear path to real social liberation without a proper understanding of our history. Mandela, upon whose image the ANC relies so heavily, must share with its leadership the responsibilty of having led the masses into a blind alley.

This edition gives an exact transcript of the letter as originally published in 1965 and includes the text of the related letter from IB Tabata to AP Mda, written shortly after the letter to Mandela.

Pages: 12

Size: 150 KBs