They banned it because it gave a voice to the voteless majority. They banned it because it articulated the aspirations of millions of oppressed people. But the spirit of resistance it was born into remains deeply rooted in a tradition that refuses to die for as long as apartheid lives. And it will be naive in the extreme for this government to believe that banning the New Nation will resolve the crisis it is trapped in.
In fact it would be political folly to blame this crisis on the New Nation. Centuries of racist rule and exploitation have fuelled a tradition of resistance that is now blamed on the New Nation. But the apartheid government has, in true Nationalist tradition, stubbornly refused to recognise and resolve the contradictions that are inherent in their policy of racial superiority. Instead they have attacked everything that threatens them and their policies. That – apartheid is fatally flawed is a belief that only the suicidal will dare to question.
Only the likes of President PW Botha will go a step further and try to entrench it. And it is precisely this calibre of political leadership, that has intensified the contradictions and deepened the crisis. The government's claim that its failure to act against the New Nation would have meant the resurgence of growing "resistance, violence and disorderliness" reflects a political immaturity, which in itself represents this government's greatest dilemma. Resistance, it must be pointed out, is as old as apartheid.
If is hundreds of years older then the New Nation, which only served to reflect reality: the creation of apartheid. In fact the New Nation, in its current form, would have no place in atruly non- racial, democratic society. lronically, it is the existence of Botha's apartheid government that necessitates its existence. We have warned this government in the past that attempts to ban the reality only serve to project it more boldly.
The most recent example played itself out just a few days ago, on Sharpeville Day, March 21. It came just three weeks after the banning of 18 organisations and the restriction of 18 leaders around the country. Despite this attempt to paralyse the democratic movement, the will to resist was boldly demonstrated in a nationwide show of solidarity.
If there was any lesson for the government to learn, then it must be that the banning of the mass movement did nothing to immobilise it. And it is in this context that we should view its attempt to silence the voice of the democratic majority by banning the New Nation.
This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail.