Oliver Tambo en die kommunisme = Oliver Tambo and communism
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Oliver Tambo, who led the ANC/SACP alliance throughout the difficult struggle era, is often portrayed as a religious Christian who, not being a member of the SACP, allied himself only for pragmatic reasons with that party. This is the narrative spread by the alliance itself, but also by his biographer, Luli Callinicos and certain other historians. Tambo's political views with regard to communism have, however, never been independently investigated. This article seeks to fill in that lacune. Firstly, the general relationship between the ANC and the SACP is broadly analysed. The conclusion is that the SACP's ideological and political domination of the ANC grew through the years until Party members filled almost all leading positions by the 1980's. Tambo's public pronouncements during the exile years are then subjected to analysis. It is shown that Tambo tailored his message according to the audience he was addressing. When speaking to Western audiences, he spoke like a moderate social democrat. Before Third World audiences, he extolled the virtues of socialism. And in the presence of communist audiences, he sounded almost more communist than the Kremlin. In the conclusion, it is taken into account that his main task had to be to keep the fractious alliance together, and that the alliance was very dependent on the USSR and other communist powers, so that he could not very well stray too far from the beaten communist path. Nevertheless, it is shown that Tambo's political and socio-economic ideas differed formally only marginally from those of the SACP, although one gets the impression that his attitude towards communism was, to a certain extent, opportunistic.
- Faculty of Humanities