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If the ANC does what the Apartheid government did to you

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If the ANC does what the Apartheid government did to you

The famous quote often attributed to Nelson Mandela has once again come to prominence following the ANC’s 2024 election loss, but did Mandela actually say it?

The quote, “If the ANC does to you what the Apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the Apartheid government” which was supposedly said by Mandela at the Congress of South African Trade Unions’ (COSATU) special conference in 1993, has once again resurfaced following the ANC’s 41% loss in the South Africa’s 2024 national and provincial elections.

Despite the quote being often attributed to Mandela, it would seem he said something a tad different, albeit the same in spirit, according to COSATU’s own report of the address by Mandela, found in South African Communist Party’s The African Communist journal.

In the journal’s third quarter publication in 1993, it appears the proper quote by Nelson Mandela was: “You must support the African National Congress (ANC) only so far as it delivers the goods, if the ANC government does not deliver the goods, you must do to it what you have done to the apartheid regime.”

According to the write-up by The African Communist the quote from Mandela came from unprepared remarks and this segment of his remarks were met with “prolonged applause and shouts of buwa, buwa (say it, say it).

While there is no video of this famous moment of Mandela’s address, what can be gleaned from a different COSATU event, the 5th National Congress a year later suggests that Mandela took the same approach of dressing down those who hold power, saying the problems of hunger and unemployment faced by many South Africans are yours (COSATU) to solve, “don’t look at your own special interests or just the interests of your union.”

Watch the short video below for more.