South African Black Nationalist movement – the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania has appealed to the government to honour one of its fallen anti-apartheid hero Robert Sobukwe by declaring December 5 a public holiday.
The movement said the motive for the appeal is to revitalise and revivify the immeasurable contributions and impacts Sobukwe made towards the liberation of the country from the shackles of the white masters.
PAC spokesperson Kenneth Mokgatlhe added that it’s time the government honoured the likes of Sobukwe from other political parties who also played major roles in the struggle days.
Mokgatlhe maintained that former president Nelson Mandela shouldn’t be the only ANC icon that must be honoured on December 5; stating that other icons should also be given spots on this day.
“We are worried that not honouring Sobukwe will seem as if his contribution towards the liberation of this country was less important.
This day should not be about one man [Mandela]. It should be officiated as a public holiday and called Sobukwe day. Robert Sobukwe was a visionary and not a prophet of doom,” Mokgatlhe asserted.
Robert Sobukwe was born on 5 December 1924 and died on 27 February 1978. He was the founder of the Pan Africanist Congress – which is a breakaway faction of the African National Congress.
He was arrested and sentenced on May 4, 1960 for three years for mobilising blacks to protest and demand the repeal of pass laws on March 21, 1960.
At the end of his three year sentence, the apartheid government enacted a General Law Amendment Act. The Act included the Sobukwe Clause – which empowered the minister of justice to extend the detention of any political prisoner indefinitely.
Subsequently, Sobukwe was transferred to Robben Island, where he remained for an additional six years.
The PAC was formally launched on 6 April 1959 at Orlando Communal Hall in Soweto. The Africanist group’s exit from the ANC followed its objection to the substitution of the 1949 Programme of Action with the Freedom Charter.
The Africanist movement has been plagued by infighting and has faced numerous changes of leadership since its transition to a political party.
In May 2013, the PAC expelled its leader Letlapa Mphahlele for poor quality leadership, financial mismanagement and allegedly attempting to cause division in the party.