The lessons from the Zuma years!!!

South Africa is said to be at crossroads, for lack of a better expression. This is due to what has been termed the Zuma years, which many of the President’s detractors consider to be the worst years of this country’s young democracy. Whereas there is no consensus on such a view, what is indisputable is that President Zuma’s tenure has exposed to us the facade that this democracy is and has been. On one side of the divide are those who claim that JZ has shown the limitations, blindspots and frailties of this democracy given how he is said to have either captured or paralysed key state institutions. This take reminds me of words of a friend of mine, who once argued that systems and institutions are not guarantors of democracies, they are mere enablers, whom if left at the hands of the vagaries of those in power, can be very dangerous.

 

For me, what the Zuma years have shown and taught me is that human beings, in pursuit of their subjective ends can and will subvert and undermine key democratic principles they’ve sworn to abide by and uphold. Jacob Zuma detractors have throughout his tenure and more so in the last two years, gone out of their way to unconstitutionally unseat him, going as far as trying to get the courts encroach the separation of powers doctrine, if only they may remove the church. From a deliberately bias media reporting on the current administration, court applications to law experts distorting the key principle of innocent until proven guilty. The latter being demonstrated by a well revered constitutional law expert’s piece saying the public has no moral obligation to regard any public representative accused of wrongdoing, as innocent until proven guilty. That instead, they should charge them as guilty through the court of public opinion, even if this opinion has been shaped and arrived at through the use of biased media manipulation and persuasion.

 

What Jacob Zuma’s detractors seem to miss or oblivious to is how their conduct not only undermines democracy but sets a precedent that’ll be hard to stop. The great G.K Chesterton once remarked: “Men who begin to fight the Church for the sake of freedom and humanity end by flinging away freedom and humanity if only they may fight the Church.” And this observation is evident in the current SA politics of power contestation, where those who want to remove JZ are willing to fling away the same principle they swear they’re removing him in their name. The constitutionalists are hellbent on wrecking the last semblance of constitutional legitimacy this colonial cesspool seems to have. With democrats like this, who needs the Guptas?

 

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“Blaming our people is the hallmark of South Africa’s Post-94 Tragedy: Not much wit in Dr Mangena’s dim view of our people.”

Italian Marxist theoretician and politician Antonio Gramsci argued that for the left-wing to usurp power within a Capitalist state, it must first defy and disrupt the prevailing common sense. This common sense is arrived at through what Gramsci calls manufactured consent. That is, one sphere of a Capitalist state, named the civil society produces ideas and beliefs through media and various means to exert the hegemony of the Capitalist state and the ruling class. These ideas and beliefs help cultivate this ‘consent’.  Karl Marx also stressed how the system of Capitalism is reinforced by the dominance of the ideas and values of the ruling class. These are the cultivators of the common sense that prevails in society.

 

South Africa as a nation state that developed through the development of Capitalism post the Anglo-Boer War, together with the Rhodesian Grey Act, legitimized the genocidal dispossession of the indigenous people of their land. It now 23 years post-apartheid, finds itself entangled in the contestation of power by various bourgeoisie classes, which still majorly reflects the white demographic of the South African society. The prevailing common sense has  white wealth as a given and normal whereas anything else implies corruption and absurdity.

At the very heart of this contestation is the allegations that the South African Executive is run at the behest of the Gupta Family and this, according to those with these allegations, inhibits the state’s ability to lead and service the public. These allegations, given the hegemony of those in control of where common sense is manufactured, that is the media, have now settled within the daily thinking of South Africans as truth. The Gupta family are used as a smokescreen to hide the fact that the Economy of the country remains largely in white hands and there has been no significant move towards restoring it back to its rightful owners. The allegations of the so-called State Capture which saw some sections of the Civil Society like the South African Council of Churches immerse themselves in political issues, has become the handmaiden of white monopoly capital in South Africa.

 

Recently, Dr Mosibudi Mangena, the former President of AZAPO and a proponent of Black Consciousness penned a piece titled: Maybe South Africans are dim. As a suggestion that the continuing problems afflicting this land are largely due to the inaction of ordinary people, especially with the regard to the allegations about the Gupta’s undue influence over President Jacob Zuma. For me, this view is not only mistaken but is also ahistorical. The piece firstly provides a revisionist take on the chief and dominant contradiction in this land, by reducing it to bad governance and corruption, not the fact that indigenous people of this land remain largely and wholly landless. It perpetuates the false narrative that the 1994 framework serves our people and there are rogue elements that undermines this and if South Africans are serious about protecting it, they’ll take action and throw these bandits in jail.

 

The second erroneous presumption of Dr Mangena’s view is, it misses the basic tenet of Black Consciousness, which is to make the Black man [woman] come into themself. This process of awakening is akin to what Cesaire calls ‘invention of new souls of Men’. Something that South Africans did not and have not gone through. And this is because International Capital in cahoots with the local one, went about elevating the ANC as the legitimate leader of society and the South African struggle, thus propelled the common sense of the ’94 ‘miracle’ as a breakthrough and a new start. South Africans have since imbibed this logic and  according to its common sense hence their inability to realise in Fanon’s words that ‘everything depends on them, that if we stagnate the fault is theirs, and that if we progress, they too are responsible, that there is no demiurge, no illustrious man taking responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people and the magic lies in their hands alone.’ For the people of South Africa to take action, correct action that corresponds to the historical moment the land is experiencing and in light of their history, political commissars such as Dr Mangena and parties they belong to, should undertake the responsibility of politically educating the people with the correct political education.

In peddling the narrative of rogue elements endangering the sovereignty and democratic institutions of South Africa, who by the way, are neither in the service nor tailored for our people, Dr Mangena sets himself in collision course with correct interpretation of the history of the SA struggle. His views, to be precise, are not furnished in the Black Radical  Thought politics, instead they’re littered with Anglospheric  neoliberal rationale of democracy, inspite of its track record to fail Blacks the world over. Therefore, I hereby invite Dr Mangena to find his BC and use it to the service of our people. As certainly what we read in his piece, is something foreign to those brought up in the radical tradition of Black Thought.

The pervasive power of Whiteness: Zille vs Masixole!!

Frantz Fanon in his seminal speech delivered before the First Congress of Negro Writers and Artists in Paris in September 1956, avers that “Racism is not the whole but the most visible, the most day-to-day and, not to mince matters, the crudest element of a given structure…This precise cultural element, however, has not become encysted. Racism has not managed to harden. It has had to renew itself, to adapt itself, to change its appearance. It has had to undergo the fate of the cultural whole that informed it.” This means that racism never dies, rather it reinvents itself and continues insidiously. This is true for post-1994 South Africa, where the ushering of a democratic dispensation, the drafting of a new Constitution and introduction of a Bill of Rights were meant to represent a break from the country’s wretched past of Apartheid. However, these have failed to adequately address and destroy the continuation of racism and the legacy of Apartheid. Whereas, the new dispensation sought to end “certain definite abuses: forced labour, corporal punishment, inequality of salaries, limitation of political rights, etc.”, it has however failed dismally due to in part, the incompetence and lack of decisiveness informed by ideological deficiency of those who came to power in 1994. The socio-economic reality of Black people has continued unabated; as they remain landless, poor and victims of racism.

 

The decision of the African National Congress leadership to foster reconciliation through a Truth and Reconciliation Commission instead of enforcing restoration and restitution through a Land and Economic Justice Commission, allowed racism and its beneficiaries to get away with their crimes and instead reinvent themselves while continuing to benefit from their ill-gotten gains. The Constitution and Bill of Rights have become weapons for White racists to continue undermining the plight of Blacks. They continue to spew their bigotry under the guise of Freedom of Speech.

 

One Helen Zille is one such racist. She has consistently used public platforms to degrade, undermine and throw scorn at the genuine struggles Black people face. Her latest racist vitriol comes through her article in the Daily Maverick titled, From the Inside: The ‘silent majority’ needs to find its voice. This article seem to have been prompted by lack of DASO’s participation (a Democratic Alliance student wing) in the recently held University of Cape Town’s Student Representative Council elections, which saw the result turn out as follows: EFF students 6 seats; Pan-Africanist Student Movement 5; SASCO 1; “Independents” 3. For Zille, the results are lack credibility because 1. DASO did not participate 2. Masixole Mlandu, (whom Zille frames as  violent, uncivilized, a ringleader of a marauding gang and a face of the Fallism that either belongs in a dungeon or expelled from the University) won though the PASMA ticket. This, to her, is a sign of a departure from “the legacy of Nelson Mandela or our Bill of Rights”, who she conveniently fails to mention they have both largely buttresed the system of Apartheid and allowed for a continuation of the status quo. Zille accuses Masixole Mlandu, (who is seen as a proper representation of the plight and struggles of Blacks in this land) and his politics, of totalitarianism and equates them to Nazism. Mlandu and other fallists are called “deeply intolerant, closed-minded and unprincipled ideologues”. This, implies that, for their politics to be regarded as progressive, Fallists ought to conform to the supra-rational comforts of the far-right and neo-liberals whites of South Africa like Zille. The real reason behind this indictment of the Fallists by Zille, being that, in embracing righteous anger, consistent and inspired by Black Consciousness as articulated and espoused by brilliant Black thinkers like Steve Biko and Frantz Fanon, the Fallists have reopened the book on the sellout ‘historical compromises’ of CODESA and the 1994 ‘miracle’. The Fallists irk Zille because they are reopening the dialogue on the pain of loss (landless), isolation(disenfranchisement) and oppression that Zille and DASO’s seek to airbrush through their selective reading of Nelson Mandela’s legacy and convenient appreciation of democracy without restitution and reparations. As far as Zille is concerned, for Fallists to be thesis of open enquiry, they should be tolerant of white arrogance and violence disguised as open dialogue and freedoms of speech and expression. To refuse this, according to the Madam, is to be opposed to the “truth that is central to the pervasive “race shaming”” she claims “has become the primary tool of South Africa’s emerging totalitarians (read Fallists), who drive their distortions and deceits”.

 

This latest injunction by Zille is one of many ways that racism in South Africa rears its head and calls for the urgency to uproot it while we can. Even though she uses the chances our democracy has afforded her, mala fide, her actions must act as a reminder to that the ‘historical compromises’ of pre-94 disadvantaged the victims of Zille’s kinfolk and thus require a decolonization project so massive that a Fanonian prophesy of “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first” becomes not just a truism but a reality, one that Masixole Mlandu represents aptly.

Thabo Mbeki’s bizzare logic!

South Africa finds itself at crossroads, where the country’s destiny can be shaped by the leadership that takes over the ruling party and the direction it takes. The African National Congress as a ruling party, finds itself immersed in a protracted internal battle, that has seen even former leaders get themselves involved in these factional battles under the auspices of providing their analysis as seen my former President Thabo Mbeki’s Monday letters. Our erstwhile statesman recently penned down an opinion piece where he weighs in on the obligation of Members of Parliament, especially in light of the tabled Motion of No Confidence on President Jacob Zuma. The timing of the view, is not only suspicious but the implicitly expressed opinion by the former President, reveal to what an extent, the struggle for power in the ruling party is willing to go. To have a former Party and state President express their view on their successor is unprecedented. It is a sign that, 2007 Polokwane Conference never died with memory.

 

Pres Mbeki, argues in his piece, whose view, was later ‘clarified’ by his foundation’s CEO, Max Boqwana, that in essence, the MPs are not obliged to vote in accordance to the directives of the parties that deploy them. This, he does by citing the obligations and oath taken by MPs upon their entrance in parliament. He further draws an imaginary dichotomy between the members of society that vote a party into power and the will of this electorate as expressed by their votes in the leadership of the party they voted. To Mbeki, MPs of Parliament are not voted in by their parties but the electorate, who according to his logic, are not the same people that voted for the said parties. He applies a logic bereft of the knowledge of the mechanism and complexities involved in how a Proportiobal Representation-system’s national assembly is constituted.

 

Mbeki deliberately but tacitly implies and lifts the prerogative of MPs to defy party directives under the auspices of their deployment not being through the will of their party, instead it being through the will of the electorate, whom according to him, are not the same people that bestow the power to deploy, on the same party he arguess MPs do not represent. The erstwhile leader asks the question: ‘Is it possible that there might be particular circumstances‚ and particular issues‚ when I consider that the interests of the Party and those of the people coincide‚ and what actions should I take in this context?’ Taken at face value, the above question seems apt and harmless, however at its essence is the suggestion that the interests of the party that is voted into power through a popular vote by the people, are not mutually inclusive to the interests of the same people. Except only through coincidence.

 

Another interesting argument brought forth by the former President, is the assertion that the will of the electorate ought to be homogenous, which throws scorn on the beauty of diversity multiparty democracy brings. By trying to reconcile the obligations of MPs outside the will of the party that deploys them through the power bestowed on it by the electorate, President Mbeki is at pains to justify his implicit urging of potential renegade ANC’s MPs to vote in defiance to the party directive, so long their defiance is in the interests of this imaginary electorate, different from the one that bestowed power on the said party and its leadership.

 

President Mbeki, a product of the African National Congress, whose political education was steeped and driven by the principles of Democratic Centralism, vaciliates between amnesia and muteness. The former statesman neglects the constitutional structuring of a party that made him, abandons its principles of Democratic centralism, that stipulates that political decisions reached by the party (through its democratically elected bodies) are binding upon all members of the party. He seems to suggest a dichotomy between the party and its electorate. He strangely forgets that the ruling party has furnished itself on the people of this land and that in fact, the spirit embodied by the people and party members guides the conduct and posture taken by the party.

 

One last interesting aspect of Mbeki’s argument is his undefined use of the term, people. They are presented here by him as an abstract entity or phenomenon, whose reality is not steeped in the concrete reality. The people, to borrow from the great Guinea-Bissau’s revolutionary son, Amilcar Cabral, the people are seen in light of their history, are defined according to the historical moment in which the land is experiencing, and want what corresponds to the fundamental necessity of the history of our land. As it stands the ruling party through its President, has began echoing sentiments of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania and Robert Sobukwe et al. To expropriate land without compensation, to radically transform the economy in the interests of the people.

 

All the above make Thabo Mbeki’s view both bizzare and misplaced. It is evident that his view is shrouded with hypocrisy and a greater wish to perpetuate the misery of our people at the hands of White Monopoly Capital. After all, this is a man who had a tow-thirds majority yet did nothing to represent the interests of the people and show his newly found love for them and their interests.

The Politics of Ayanda Mabhulu!

Ayanda Mabulu’s latest portrait tittled ‘Economy of Rape’ has caused a stir in the country, with people divided on its meaning and whether it is appropriate or not. For the benefit of those who are yet to see it, Mabhulu’s latest work depicts President Jacob Zuma engaged in sexual intercourse with the late former President Nelson Mandela. Some argue that the artwork is both abhorrent and disrespectful of the dignity of the two statesmen. Whereas others find it valgur. Mabhulu to his defence, argues that the allegory of rape is to demonstrate the ruling party’s exploitation of the country’s resources at the expense of what he refers to as “peasants” or the Black working class. Even though the painting appears to be a depiction of a consensual sexual intercourse between the two statesmen. He further asserts that the painting is a visual device through which the shifting narratives between Mandela’s rainbow tinted ANC and Zuma’s ANC are explored. The last entry suggests that there is in fact a shifting narrative between the former and latter’s ANCs respectively, whereas nothing could be further from the truth. For 23 years, the ANC in power,(including Mandela’s) have served white, private capital to the detriment of the masses Mabhulu now claims the current ANC exploits.

 

To Mabhulu(who also argues that President Zuma is a rapist), the ANC’s safeguarding of the white wealth makes it the oppressors. To this end, Andile Mngxitama argues that Ayanda Mabhulu “is trapped inside white praise”is, that  “he imagines his world and rage through anti black modalities so well perfected by the west(read whites) over centuries.” To Mngxitama, Mabhulu’s outrage and depiction of Jacob Zuma as a rapist of the Black masses, conceals white culpability to the condition of Black people. Frantz Fanon in his seminal work, The Wretched of The Earth asserts that the ‘it is the settler who has brought the native into existence and who perpetuates his existence. The settler owes the fact of his very existence, that is to say, his property, to the colonial system.’ There is no doubt here that white monopoly capital is the architect of the misery Black people find themselves in. Hence Mabhulu’s art obfuscates this narrative but instead reinvokes the narrative that the panacea to our problems as Blacks in this land is the ANC government and not the private white capital in the form of the Rupert and Oppenheimer families together with their party, the Democratic Alliance.

 

To this end, Mngxitama declares that Mabhulu is just a victim of white washing, therefore requires Black Consciousness. It is this philosophy of Blackness that will rescue Mabhulu and help him refocus his rage to the actual perpetrators of the crimes afflicting Black people. Mabhulu’s, like many Black people immersed in the obsession to remove Jacob Zuma from power, lack of BC has them fighting on behalf of the enemy whereas it gets away with murder. The narrative that Blackness is a problem is re-inscribed by the continuation to characterize the incumbent President as the chief problem afflicting this country. Mabhulu in essence has the right ammunition, he merely lacks the skills to provide a proper diagnosis due to bad political education he received under the mythical rainbow nation discourse.

Another narrative peddled by those captivated by this painting, is that Jacob Zuma is portrayed as messing up Mandela’s legacy, which suggests that this is a legacy worthy of praise and pride. It ignores the factual reality of how this Mandela legacy is a product of white capital in an attempt to derail the struggle for independence. To speak of a Mandela legacy is to speak of lack of white accountability with regard to centuries of exploitation of Black labour and mineral resources. The said legacy is a better representation of where Blacks are and always have been since the dawn of the so-called democracy. If Jacob Zuma is messing it, this then calls for this apt observation from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung:  “Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent.” It means President Zuma messing of the legacy is an opportunity to redress all injustices concealed by the Mandela Legacy, so loved and defended by the beneficiaries of colonial crimes.

#anccaptureofFeesMustFall

In his Notes towards the Definition of Culture, T.S. Eliot remarked that “there are moments when the only choice is between heresy and non-belief – i.e., when the only way to keep a religion alive is to perform a sectarian split.” This observation is important in contextualising the veneration of Nompendulo Mkhatshwa and the placement of the ANC-aligned PYA at the centre of the #FeesMustFall Movement for purposes of producing a narrative of the ANC as a leader in popular people’s struggles. Somewhere else http://www.culture-review.co.za/culture-fees-distortion I argued that the narrative of the #FeesMustFall as Wits student-bred and driven, was not accidental, it was to exceptionalise it for purposes of isolating it from the overall struggles of our people. The ANC is the political party in power, therefore the challenge to scraping of University fees by students was largely seen as a questioning of the ANC’s moral authority as a “leader” of the people, therefore its legitimacy. 21 years into democracy, the younger generation has challenged the ANC government’s hegemony in ways it never imagined. Hence the #FeesMustFall presented not only a threat to this commoditized education but the legitimacy of the ANC government.

But what makes the #FeesMustFall a threat as far as the ANC-led government is concerned? The end of political apartheid in 1994 in itself, created the impossibility of political imagination beyond the “rainbow nation” and an ANC-led government. The ANC as the self-proclaimed arch-heroes of the ’94-miracle has scripted a narrative that presents it as a progressive liberation movement in governance, thus responsible of numerous “gains” achieved in the past 21 years. However, the past few years have seen a political imagination marked by and steeped into Steven Bantu Biko’s enduring legacy of black dignity, land ownership and a values system reflective of the aspirations of the majority of the black people in this land. So the #FeesMustFall at the backdrop of another Black Consciousness-inspired movements, #RhodesMustFall at the University of Cape Town, Black Student Movement at the university currently known as Rhodes University and #OpenStellenbosch, is and has been a direct descendent of Biko’s enduring legacy. It has dared to not simply demand an immediate ceasing of perpetual increment of tuition fees, but the total scrapping thereof, meaning a facilitation of a free, quality and socialist education, together with the unconditional ending of outsourced labour in our universities. These demands, stand contrary to the ANC-led government’s interests: privatized education, exploitation of black labour through labour brokers and to have majority of our society, especially the youth, disfranchised and in the periphery.

It is for this reason that the ANC, as it did to hijack the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania’s (PAC) Anti-Pass Campaign, which led to the Sharpeville-Langa Massacres [through having Albert Luthuli burn his dompass in front of the media, when thousands had already done so and Robert Sobukwe et al, had surrendered themselves to the police], sort to hijack the concrete and correct continuation of the #FeesMustFall struggle. Faced with prospects of a dwindling hegemony and eventual descend from power, the ANC needed a new ‘heresy’, presented in this moment by the Wits chapter of the #FeesMustFall. Nompendulo Mkhatswa’s with her ANC-branded head-wraps, Mcebo Dlamini and Shaeera Kalla etc. with the help of media veneration, provided the ANC with the much needed game-changing moment, which gave the impression that the #FeesMustFall Movement was fighting an abstract system, not the ANC government. After all, how can a movement ‘led’ by the PYA, fight against its own mother body?

This decisive moment at the height of the #FeesMustFallMovement was the sectarian split that kept the ANC alive, because when the students marched to Luthuli House, even the ANC endorsed the action of students and went on to urge its members to ‘support’ and ‘join’ the calls of fees to fall. At the forefront of this sectarian split was Nompendulo, Mcebo and Shaeera, there to pacify the students from recognising that their enemy is the ANC-led government, which oversees the perpetuation of a commoditised education system that disproportionally affects them. It must be noted though, that Mcebo, Nompendulo and Shaeera did not want students to marh to Luthuli House, but they were out voted by the masses of students. It was there at Luthuli House that Mcebo in particular sucked up to the ruling party’s Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, claiming how this is the ANC he knows, one that comes to the people and humbles itself; this is all while, Vuyani Pambo of the EFFSC was remonstrating that he (Gwede) must sit down on the floor like Adam Habib had a week earlier, and listen to them. Nevertheless, a day after President Zuma had announced the 0% fee increment, the Wits chapter of #FeesMustFall Movement convened to take stock and interrogate the announcement and thereby chart a way forward. As history has now noted, the less than 100 progressive beauties of #FeesMustFall rejected the Presidency’s announcement and vowed to continue the #shutdown until their demands had been addressed and met, especially the ending of outsourcing at Wits. These students who continued the university shutdown were met with police brutality, but eventually won and insourcing was announced It is at this point, even though unbeknown to many and despite the Luthuli House blemish by the PYA-affiliated trio of a former, current and incoming SRC Presidents, that the #FeesMustFall was about to be sacrificed at the altar of patronage and partisan loyalty, by the self-same trio of Presidents. On Sunday, after there had been a subsequent meeting to the one on Saturday, which gloriously affirmed the continuity of the revolutionary #shutdown, the #FeesMustFall became aware of a secret meeting between the PYA and the three Presidents. Upon gate-crashing this meeting, it was discovered that the agenda of the said gathering was the derailing of the #FeesMustFall and amongst other things were undeclared amounts of R40 000. The two Presidents startled and embarrassed failed to sum up a reasonable explanation of what was taking place. Not only this, they had failed to declare beforehand the planning of such meeting, its agenda and its implications on the ongoing #shutdown as led by the #FeesMustFall Movement. To compound the fact that this was a capture of the movement, on Monday the three Presidents were nowhere to be seen as students and workers continued their #shutdown, the SRC was further implicated in a secret agreement with the Wits Management and the PYA distanced itself from the #shutdown, thus peddling the false notion that the #FeesMustFall was without the “people” and their support. Wits academic- Dr Kelly Gillespie writes about this secret meeting and describes it as “the ANC sent its delegates to convince the ANC-aligned students to close down the bigger demands that the student movement was articulating, demands which showed the ANC up for not having met its 1994 election promise of “Free Quality Education for All”.

It has now emerged that young Nompendulo is working as a researcher at Luthuli House, further raising her commitment in achieving the mandate of the #FeesMustFall. Some have fairly questioned what is wrong with her working there and it is not like people never knew that she was ANC. However, for those of us acquainted and immersed in a continuous struggle for our eventual liberation from all forms of oppression including their present manifestations in a form of financial exclusion and outsourcing of labour. We take cue from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung’s encouragement to stand for an active ideological struggle. Nompendulo et al, as members of the ANC and her in particular, as its employee, lack the ethical legitimacy and moral authority to wage a genuine ideological struggle against an administration she is beholden to. It is tantamount to having white liberals representing blacks and fighting apartheid when they continued to unduly benefit from their association to it.  The ANC is the party in power and has failed dismally to use its majority to put the power it has, at the service of the people. It remains largely the party Sobukwe et al left en masse to form the PAC, the same party IB Tabata questioned whose interests did it serve objectively, meaning a party that has always only been interested in the sort of integration decried by Biko. An integration where use each other as rungs up a ladder while majority disproportionally poor. Of-course as in during the fight against apartheid, the ANC has been good at imposing heroes, case in point, Nelson Mandela, it has done the same with Nompendulo. While at the height of the #FeesMustFall Movement in the eyes of the media, Nompendulo was a perpetual feature with her striking pose, seeming to will on the masses to continue the fight. She now remains the media favourite, albeit now in a puffed, make-upped posture, as evidenced by the latest Destiny Magazine’s December issue cover, titled “The Year of the Student”. The masses, all those represented by the #FeesMustFall because they are, according to the historical moment in which the land is experiencing and want what corresponds to the fundamental necessity of the history of our land, have had a leader imposed on them, one they unequivocally rejected upon discovering she was sacrificing them at the altar of patronage and partisan-loyalty.

Thanks to her and Mcebo’s antics, the movement almost got derailed and the ANC’s hegemony remains significant, but unfortunately for them, students all over the country are starting to question the ANC and their ANC aligned SRCs.

On Student Activism at CUT

There is a need to try and resolve a dominant
contradiction(partisan pettiness) that is and has been alive and evident for quite sometime now; secondly, this necessity is not an affirmation of the logic that students are indeed apolitical and abhor political activism (and this means exactly activism not some pseudo-militancy and demagoguery disguised as radicalism lacking consciousness and fostering thereof). In fact, this is but an indication that some section of the student community is indeed apolitical, and that it is however, not the real reasons for the diminishing student participation in both student activism and governance.
Essentially, when one draws a complete picture of student activism and the state it is in, which directly impacts on student governance and thus students’ wellbeing, one discovers that:

1. There is a coding (implicitly or blatantly) of
student activism as “terrorism” by the University and its officials; the tendency to “demonize” (by suppression, intimidation and indoctrination) any form political activism and agitation (this is also evident in the manner the academic stuff treatsand regards the SRC and student leaders in general).
2. There is a lack of political education and
heightening of students’ consciousness by
students’ political formations,
3. There is lack of clearly defined objectives and strategies by students.
4. There is no unity and even cohesive,
consistent solidarity within the student
community.

A space has been created deliberately and
consciously by the University, to isolate and
eventually discard political consciousness and activism as important aspects of students’ existence in and their socialization as members of the academic community and the academic project. Politics have come to mean exactly what they were under apartheid, “terrorism”, and this is affirmed by the recent court order.

Political activists within the student community have failed to grasp this reality and conceive methods and ways to overcome it, instead has resorted to badmouthing each other thus perpetuating divisions within. The student community is complacent at best and ignorant at worst, of the reality of their environment and the status quo of student activism and governance, their only voice within a University.

Student activists as leaders of the student
community, as called upon by their incumbency and standing within this community, should quicken to dialectically approach this situation and ensure that they vigorously stop the rot and overturn the state of affairs. This should start by them firstly overcoming their petty differences, and finding common ground regardless of their affiliations and personal feelings towards each other; secondly identifying and agreeing on common objectives, thirdly devising a common programme of action in achieving the set objectives and fourthly accelerating political education and fostering of consciousness; remembering as Frantz Fanon said: “…[P]olitical education means opening up the mind, awakening the mind, and introducing it to the world. It is as Cesaire said “To invent the souls of men.” To politicise the masses is not and cannot be to make a political speech. It means driving home to the masses that everything depends on them, that if we stagnate the fault is theirs, and that if we progress, they too are responsible, that there is no demiurge, no illustrious man taking responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people and the magic lies in their hands alone.” I believe once some of these can be done, we can go a long way in ensuring that a University is indeed a terrain of deliberative democracy and students’ grievances can be addressed better.