In this 60th anniversary year of the Freedom Charter, much contestation relates to who is the authentic bearer of the vision behind it. NUMSA and the EFF claim to be true to its meaning (assuming it has one meaning), specifically to its economic clauses. But it’s not quite as simple as all that.
The ANC, in contrast to the abovementioned parties – having been the prime initiator of the Congress of the People, which led to the adoption of the Freedom Charter in 1955 – claims primacy for itself. Its way of doing this is not so much by reading and interrogating the values and potential scope of the meanings of the charter as by using the methodology of a checklist, much as one does when buying groceries. It reads a clause, as it did in the latest January 8 statement, and then explains how the ANC purports to have realised it. There is no invitation for debate of the charter itself.
There is an assumption that the meaning of the charter is obvious and all we have to do is read it and interpret it “properly”. But there is nothing obvious about the meaning, or indeed…
Source : Daily Maverick