February 23, 2018

Kim Heller on the path to redemption in South Africa

Filed under: politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 1:54 pm

Screen Shot 2018-02-23 at 1.55.53 PM
first published here: http://www.ann7.com/ret-is-the-path-to-redemption/

December 10, 2017

KAY K LEMENEMENE – Only in Mzansi…

Filed under: literature,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 12:30 pm

Only in Mzansi bethuna. Today the sleepy township of Rocklands aka States, as in the USA. (States being a derogatory name bestowed on this dusty township of ours by those from even dustier townships because residents of Rocklands used to be known for liking things back in the day, especially American music and clothes. Hence the name States) today Rocklands woke up to the chilling news of a gruesome killing in the area. Naturally we all rushed to the scene – a mixture of curiosity and fear I suppose, otherwise why would so many people ruin their Sunday morning by going to view a dismembered body? I wondered upon seeing the crowd that had gathered there so early in the AM, even Tshepo aka the Drunken master was there already. Now Tshepo is famous for 2 things and 2 things only: 1) He never gets out of bed until well after noon each day, unless there is a function where alcohol flowed freely nearby, in which case he is the 1st to show up the next day. Mind you he is also 99,99% likely to have been the last person to leave the previous night or early morning depending on how well the booze flowed 2) He suffers from a chronic hangover. Not even his own mother can recall the last time Tshepo woke up and did not announce that he has a headache/s’tlama. Amazingly he too was up and already on the scene with a brown bottle in hand as is the norm with Rocklands people. The master as we have come to call him, was busy bumming ciggies off smokers and hustling others for ‘spare change’ as he calls it. As to how he came to the conclusion that coins on other people are ‘spare chnge’ we may never ever know. Gape only a few people have enough patience to spend more than 30 seconds talking to the master. Exactly for this reason I avoid him totally if I can and why I went to stand on the opposite side of the crowd far away from him & praying he doesn’t spot me.


And yes, sure enough there on the ground was the blood soaked body, the blood had completely dried up indicating the incident had taken place much earlier in the morning or sometime late last night…a 30-ish aged unknown male lay on the ground with a panga plunged in the back of his neck and his hands wrapped around its handle.

The police were there by the time I arrived. In all honesty I am not one for waking up before the sun rises, so I was still in dreamland when Pitso aka Express (as people call him behind his back) woke me up. I wasn’t sure of the veracity of the news he delivered when he came knocking on my door, admittedly I only came to the scene because I wanted to verify if my friend was telling the truth or lying. Pitso is not called Express for nothing, he has demonstrated an uncanny ability to spread neighbourhood gossip, fibs, real and fake news alike with unmatched consistency over the years. A skill that seems to elevate when he needs a favour, which inexplicably always involves lending him money or buying him alcohol. Anyhow.

Standing over the body were 4 policemen, detectives I would later learn. They seemed engaged in a heated debate regarding the case, so I went closer to try and make sense of what they were saying. The older of the 4 men – a certain detective sergent Gakabonasepe said – ‘this is a classic open and shut case. Gentlemen I am sure we can all agree that this is a suicide here’ – he said wiping dirt from his spectacles before returning them to their position on his face.

*I looked at the dead body in amazement, suicide njani exactly? Who stabs himself in the back of the head to commit suicide? How can such a senior looking cop deduce this to be a suicide? I quipped in total disbelief. I had hoped he would see things more clearly after he put his glasses back on but no such luck*

Another cop shook his head vehemently in disagreement with detective Gakabonasepe. Detective Nneteyababa, I knew him. Still shaking his head and pointing at the blood trail and an extra pair of footsteps around the body he said – “look here. See the blood trail moving away from the body? Most likely to be the killer’s blood. Forensics will have to take samples. No, this is not a suicide. It cannot be a suicide. Impossible. We have murder case here gentlemen. plain and simple. The killer must be found and be brought to book.”

Detective Nneteyababa is a bastard I knew from my days of selling counterfeit clothing and accessories, he is a no nonsense cop who doesn’t take kindly to any transgression of the laws of the state. I was to learn this the hard way when I tried to offer him a ‘parcel’. Got me 5 year suspended jail time for my troubles and a hefty fine that put my operation to bed instantly. I hated his guts, it had been many moons since our running but I discovered in this moment that I still detested his guts and his upright incorruptible work ethic. Funny enough I admired him for this at this particular moment in time though. Weird.

*personally I agreed with his views on the matter at hand. This was obviously a scene of a heartless murder not suicide as detective Gakabonasepe tried to convince his colleagues*

The debate between the law enforcement agents went on for about a good hour with the 4 men failing to find common ground. The debate was so consuming even the gathered crowd began to be divided, others holding the view that this was indeed a murder, pointing out the obvious signs to back up their claim. And the other half dead set against this notion, presenting opposing evidence to back up the suicide version. Some even going as far as saying ‘Rocklands is such a peaceful area murder is virtually unheard of in these parts, so no way can this be one. This death must be and is in fact indeed self inflicted. The other 2 detectives who had been part of the discussion were to later come up with a ‘solution’ a compromise of sorts – they proposed that this could very well be both a murder-suicide after all. They suggested that perhaps the victim tried to rob an innocent passerby and was overpowered (explaining the presence of the 2nd set of footprints at the scene) and that when cornered the dead victim-would be robber plunged his own panga in the back of his own neck to avoid capture or perhaps did so accidentally as he raised his hand to stab the innocent passerby. Now this was of course pure speculation and a version of events not supported by available evidence before us on the scene. But the 4 detectives agreed that this interpretation of the available evidence was plausible and not so unrealistic as to be ruled out entirely, they agreed among themselves that this was to be how the investigation was to be approached going forward – it will be investigated as a murder-suicide. That there was no evidence to support this compromise version did not matter, unity/common ground between policemen counted more than finding and capturing the killer or finding justice for the deceased or his family. Unity was determined to be more important than doing the right thing.

A large section of the gathered crowd seemed to agree with this version as well. Many people already passing it on to others as fact, Pitso leading the way naturally. Pretty soon most of the neighborhood was celebrating the death/execution of a dangerous panga wielding robber found dead in the street. I walked back home with a heavy heart. The community had once again opted to believe comforting lies over the bitter truth, that we have a killer or killers in our mist and the police, whose job is to enforce the law and bring those who break it to book, had chosen to put their own ‘unity’ before the interests of the community they have sworn to protect.

That bethuna is not just the story of Rockhood and one dead body with a panga in the back of its neck, this here is the reality we have to contend with in sunny Mzansi under the current leadership of the anc – Obvious wrongs are presented as right in pursuit of some undefined greater good and lies are passed on as facts to protect compromised “leaders”. In this version of events obvious good is tainted with fabrications and falsehoods to demonize virtuous leaders of society. In the meantime we the people are left to debate the nonsensical and entertain the absurd to avoid facing the obvious truth that we the people are dying, the country is being stolen by a kleptomaniac cabal.

They will be selecting leadership from their rank and file next week, I am not holding my breath these people are beyond saving. Their movement is corrupt to the core, rendering it incapable of making selfless decisions for the greater good of WE THE PEOPLE…

This is not a suicide or a suicide/murder…this is an obvious murder that demands a proper investigation to find the culprit, not a compromised solution to appease individuals at the expense of allowing a killer or killers get away with murder. We are led by incapable people who ordinarily wouldn’t and shouldn’t be trusted to lead crèche children to cross the road. Is it not the time to tell it like it is bethuna?

Originally posted on Facebook. Re-posted here with kind permission of the author.

December 5, 2017


Filed under: mphutlane wa bofelo,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 11:26 am


Ditsela National Educator Conference

This paper seeks to examine RET in the context of Southern Africa, with a particular emphasis of the current discourse on RET in South Africa, and to raise questions about the systemic, structural and institutional arrangements within which the RET discourse takes place in South Africa and therefore theoretical and practical issues and questions that the dominant RET trajectory has for the working-class agenda. To sketch the South African context, the paper provides a summary of the ruling party’s framing and\or location of the RET discourse and its outline of the objectives of RET. This is followed with critical questions for debate in relation the framework and objectives mentioned above. The paper then locates the discourse on RET in SA in the context of the historical roots of racial, class , gender and related oppression in South Africa, the continuities thereof in the current dispensation and the implications thereof for the transformation. It traces such roots to a dynamic intersection between capitalist accumulation, colonialism and racism and therefore posits the anti-thesis and synthesis as a radical project that simultaneously advance socialization, de-colonialization, democratization and put redistribution, redress, restitution , reparation and reconstruction at the centre of the political economy and social policy trajectory. Thus, the paper reframes the debate from talking about RET to talking about radical social, political and economic transformation in order to emphasize that the democratization of the polity and democratization of the economy are inseparable and intertwined and should be pursued simultaneously instead of being viewed as discrete processes to be pursued and achieved in a linear fashion or in stages

“To be radical is to go to the root of the matter. For man, however, the root is man himself.”
― Karl Marx

This education conference of Ditsela takes place on the occasion of the anniversary of two key moments in history from which we can glean critical lessons related to the theme of the conference and the topic of Radical Economic Transformation. This year marks 150 since Karl Marx wrote the seminal piece, Das Kapital: Kritek der Polischen Oekonomie (The Capital: Critique of Political Economy) and hundred years since the Great Proletariat Revolution of 1919. Marx’s Capital and the October Revolution are of particular relevance to today’s topic in so far as their provision of historical and dialectic materialism as scientific tools of analysis that exposed how the problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality , the cycles of booms and busts associated with capitalism and the series of financial crises the world has experience originate and are rooted in the intrinsic contradictions within the capitalist system and therefore that sustainable solutions to these has to be sought outside of the logic, values and structure of the capitalist system. Marxists and post-Marxists theorists have identified some of the factors intrinsic to the logic and structure of capitalism that account for the crisis as (1) the myth of the self-regulating market,(2) neoliberalism unbridled greed of accumulation, (3) crisis of over-accumulation and the crisis of over production and (4) the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.
The myth of the self-regulating market is dealt with extensively by Karl Polanyi in his book, The Great Transformation. Polanyi adequately explains how the economy is connected and subordinated to politics, religion and social relations and that the institutions and mechanisms of markerts self-regulation cannot exist without annihilating human and natural substance of society and turning labor, human beings into pure commodities. The notion of a self-regulating market is based on the idea of Capitalism as a system in which the market is allowed to own and control the use of property in accord with their own interests, and where the invisible hand of the pricing mechanism coordinates supply and demand in markets in a way that is automatically in the best interests of society. (Scott. 2006).
The doctrine of the invisible hand of the market is contradicted by the view of capitalism as socio-political system as well as economic system constituting of three levels, namely
(a) Markets which involves issues of patterns of ownership and control of the production, distribution and consumption of wealth and resources; and constitutes of an interaction between market factors (labor, land, capital, and technology), product markets- goods and services, firms and consumers.
(b) Institutional foundations – policy regime, regulators, social infrastructure and physical infrastructure, which is the domain of government.
(c) The political authority – that administers the system in the form of direct and indirect participation in the economy through administrative and entrepreneurial role such as operating SOE, appropriation, or buying, selling and growing of SOEs, and enforcing laws & regulations & regulations, maintaining infrastructure, passing new laws, issuing new regulation and building new infrastructure. (Scott. 2006: 3-13). Expatiating on the idea of capitalism as a three level system, Bruce R. Scott asserts that Ideology, culture and the political structure including civil society have a mayor influences upon how a democratic society works (Scott 2006:16), and stresses that:
…market frameworks are created through political processes and regulated through administrative agencies, neither of which is directly controlled by the economic actors themselves. In short, the point is that economics is intimately connected to political and administrative processes.

When we take economics out of this broader context we gain something in the clarity with which we can study how markets operate according to the laws of supply and demand, but we inevitably lose the perspective that market frameworks are societal constructs created and legitimated by legislatures and not by the economic actors themselves. (Scott 2006: 17-18). This understanding of capitalism as a sociopolitical and economic system is important in the light of the dominant tendency to frame the Radical Economic Transformation on the assumption that South Africa has achieved political transformation and now require to transit to economic transformation. This framing not only holds the dangers of presenting the democratization of the polity and the democratization of the economy as discrete projects that can be achieved separately and\or in a linear fashion, one leading to the other, it also holds the dangers of equating Radical Economic Transformation with merely de-racialising the ownership and control of the economy. The reality, however, is that the South African politics and polity has not been fully democratised into a participatory democratic state that provide people active participation in the design, implementation, monitoring and review of development programmes, social policy agenda and political economy trajectory of the country nor is it characterised by popular control of public institutions and worker-control of workplaces and other social institutions.
The democratic deficit created by the inadequacy of bourgeois liberal representative democracy is in your face in South Africa, and so is the growing political, social, economic and ideological distance between broader society and the social, economic and political elite. The undemocratic attributes, injustices and inequities of the economy and the undemocratic attributes, injustices and inequities of the political system are complementary and inseparable. The opulence, greed and insatiable accumulation proclivities of Monopoly Capital is prescribed, protected, abetted and entrenched by the constitutional, legal and policy framework laid down by the governing Black comprador bourgeois class. The social lifestyles and political and economic conduct of the Black social, political and corporate elite is prescribed by the standards of Big Capital. The democratic deficit in the politics is the function and creation of the democratic deficit in the economy and the democratic deficit in the economy is reflective of the democratic deficit in the politics. This perspective is useful in interrogating how working-class organizations position themselves in relating to the complex and tricky relationship between the state and the various fractions of capital. This question is important in Southern Africa where there seem to be a direct link between internal contradictions within the state and the territorial battles between the various segments of local, trans-national and global capital.
In Southern Africa there is an emerging pattern of the emergent Black capitalists and sections of the ruling Black comprador bourgeosie enlisting nationalist and anti-imperialist language and the transformation discourse to recruit the working-class on its side in its territorial war with other fractions of capital over who must turn nation’s wealth and state institutions and public resources into their private property the most. The paternalistic attitude of the regimes and regiments of capitalist globalization towards Africa and the domination of capitalist monopolies by White capitalists -courtesy of the legacies and continuities of apartheid-capitalism – create an enabling environment for the Black political and social elites to couch its ambitions to be the new capitalist bosses behind the transformation agenda. This often takes the form of framing the transformation agenda as the African agenda to veil class interests and class contradictions behind the curtain of nationalism. To what extent does this create possibilities for the transformation agenda to be residualizes into a de-racialisation agenda, thereby contributing to giving capital a new breath of life in the form of a non-racial face that allows it to thrive without racial fetters? To what extent is the transformation agenda constructed within the logic of the market? How vigilant and how much capacity, insight, power and influence does labour has to take the transformation discourse outside the logic and dictates of the regimes and regiments of capital?

In her book, The Accumulation of Capital, Rosa Luxemburg expounds on Marx’s ideas on expanded reproduction to explain how the capitalist system is locked the inescapable contradictions and inherent crises. Luxemburg argues: “Capital cannot accumulate without the aid of non-capitalist organizations, nor on the other hand, can it tolerate their continued existence side by side. Only the continuous and progressive disintegration of non-capitalist organizations makes accumulation of capital possible. “(Luxembourg 2003, 397)
One can’t agree more with Rosa Luxemburg on this observation. Capitalism needs labour to turn raw material into goods and services. Capitalism needs political and social institutional foundations to survive. But capitalism does not only deplete and degrades the environment in its quest for super profits. It depends on the suppression of labour interests, social demands and state power for unbridled accumulation of profits and private wealth. Therefore capitalist greed for accumulation results in the destruction of the very non-capital actors that are critical for its survival. In this sense, Capitalism digs its own grave. But capitalism cannot avoid the grave. It cannot free itself from its entrapment to crisis and to the generation of poverty, unemployment and inequalities without eroding its very logic and structure. Updating Luxembourg thesis on the Crisis of Over accumulation in the context of the 1980, Walden Bello describes the financial crisis of that period as
‘the intensification of one of the central crisis or contradictions of global capitalism: the crises of over-production, also known as over-accumulation or over-capacity. This is the tendency for capitalism to build up in the context of heightened inter-capitalist competition, tremendous productive capacity that outruns the population’s capacity to consume owing to income inequalities that limit popular purchasing power. The result is an erosion of profitability, leading to economic downspin” (Bello 2009)
Bello observes that Capitalism mooted out neoliberal restructuring, structural adjustments – extensive accumulation, rapid integration of semi-capitalist, non-capitalist and pre-capitalist areas in the global market economy, and financialization as gateways out of the crisis.
The problem with investing in financial sector operations is that it is tantamount to squeezing value out of already created value. It may create profit, yes, but it does not create new value — only industry, agricultural, trade, and services create new value. Because profit is not based on value that is created, investment operations become very volatile and prices of stocks, bonds, and other forms of investment can depart very radically from their real value — for instance, the stock of Internet startups may keep rising to heights unknown, driven mainly by upwardly spiraling financial valuations.
Profits then depend on taking advantage of upward price departures from the value of commodities, then selling before reality enforces a “correction,” that is a crash back to real values. The radical rise of prices of an asset far beyond real values is what is called the formation of a bubble. Profitability being dependent on speculative coups, it is not surprising that the finance sector lurches from one bubble to another, or from one speculative mania to another. Because it is driven by speculative mania, finance driven (Bello. 2009)
In their book, The Crisis in South Africa: Neoliberalism, Financialization and Uneven and Combined Development, Sam Ashman, Ben Fine, Susan Newman explain the devastating result of the financialization route in South Africa:
…in the context of South African production, financialization has produced a particular combination of short-term capital inflows (accompanied by rising consumer debt largely spent on luxury items) and a massive long-term outflow of capital as major ‘domestic’ corporations have chosen offshore listing and to internationalize their operations while concentrating within South Africa on core profitable MEC sectors. The result, even before the impact of the current crisis, was a jobless form of growth and the persistence of mass poverty for the majority alongside rising living standards for a small minority, including new black elites. (Ashman et al. 2011).
The fact that the internal contradiction within the logic and structure of capitalism are at the centre of the crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality is further amplified in the account of Combined and Uneven Development in South Africa provided by Ashman et al (2011).
South Africa is now, ‘officially’, the most unequal society in the world – though there seems to be a macabre rivalry with Brazil for this status. The poorest 20 per cent of South Africans receive 1.6 per cent of total income while the richest 20 per cent benefit from 70 per cent according to the South African Government’s Development Indicators 2009. In the most recent United Nation’s Human Development Index of ‘wellbeing’, South Africa fell one place to 129th out of 182. Before the global economic crisis, South Africa had one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. It now officially stands at 35.4 per cent or one third of the workforce. The continuing relevance of Marx’s notion that capital generates and draws upon a reserve army of labour is surely demonstrated by South Africa, though Marx could not have foreseen its members would struggle to survive in the context of the highest levels of HIV infection in the world. This helps explain why, according to the UN, average life expectancy for South Africans is just 51.5 years, even though South Africa is classified as a middle income economy. (Ashman et al 2011)

This description of the impact of neoliberalism and capitalist globalization in South Africa underscores Bello’s assertion that the recent financial crisis is not a crisis of the neoliberal capitalism but the crisis of capitalism itself. (Bello. 2009). One can go further to suggest that the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality are not the products of neoliberal capitalism but are an integral part of the logic and structure of capitalism; and in South Africa reflects how the Apartheid economy and its continuities in the current juncture could in many ways be described by the notion of uneven development in the sense of fast growth in one segment of the population or economy does not support development in the same society as a whole. This then is the context in which we have to engage with the Radical Economic Transformation discourse in Southern Africa.

ANC’s outline of the context and objectives of radical economic transformation
The African National Congress’s Discussion Document on Economic Transformation locates the discourse on RET in South Africa in its resolve at its 53rd National Conference at Mangaung in 2012 to pursue what it refers to as the second phase of the transition from apartheid colonialism to a national democratic society. According to the Mangaung resolution the focus the second phase of transition is effecting economic transformation and democratic consolidation in order to improve the quality of life of all South Africans and to promote nation-building and social cohesion and the means to attain this are promoting growth and development, increasing state-led infrastructure , focusing on using local content and local companies, and giving effect to the National Development Plan , the New Growth Path and the Industrial Policy Action Plan to stimulate growth, reindustrialization , transforming the mining sector , promoting youth employment, developmental state , maintain supportive macroeconomic policy framework – reconstruction, growth and development. It also locates RET within the minimum demands of the Freedom Charter. The discussion document presents the objectives of RET policy interventions as:

• Reducing unemployment and youth unemployment
• Returning land to our people and supporting land reform
• increasing Black ownership and control of the economy
• activating small business and cooperatives
• strengthening social justice and conditions for the poor and working class
• improving the employment impact on infrastructure projects
• reducing inequality and poverty
• Dismantling monopoly practices and structures
• Asserting South Africa’s interests in the global economy
• Improving integration into African economy
• Stimulating inclusive growth
Questions for the Trade union Movement and the Working-class:
Some of the critical questions that need serious engagement with insofar as the framework of RET as articulated by the ruling party are:
1. To what extent will the achievement of the objectives of RET be impacted upon by the current disarticulation between the social policy pronouncements that require significant social spending on housing, healthcare, education, social grants (etc) and an economic policy path that is locked in the Washington Consensus logic of reduced tariff rates, tax incentives to big capital, bail out to big capital in different disguises, trade liberalization, flexible labor, de-regulation and down-sizing of the public sector?
2. Many of the objectives of the RET outlined above were\are the pronounced objectives of Growth and Redistribution (GEAR), Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA) National Growth Path (NGP), Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), and National Development Plan (NDP). Thus far these policy programs that the discussion document use as a frame of reference for RET, have produced little in terms of significantly altering racial, class and gender based power and social relations accrued from the legacies and continuities of racial-capitalism. What is it in theoretic and practical terms will or need to be done differently for RET to lead in the direction of practical overhaul of the apartheid geography and the apartheid economy?
3. Is it possible for RET located within the framework of pursuit of the objectives of the NDP to lead to overhaul of the apartheid geography and the apartheid economy without paying serious attention to the problems and issues that organized labor and civil society have raised about the NDP? For instance, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU has accused the NDP of selectively drawing from certain government policies and programmes and ignoring others, ignoring or contradicting critical elements of the NGP/IPAP, which are supposed to be governments lead strategies over the medium term. This, Cosatu asserts creates confusion as to which policy prevails, and undermined the greater degree of co-ordination which was emerging through e.g. the infrastructure plan, and the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC). To what extent does locating RET within the rubric of NDP without addressing the concerns workers and the poor have raised about NDP holds the possibility of raising the policy confusion alluded to by Cosatu? In its critic of the NDP, National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) has argued that the NDP:
a) leaves intact the power relations of Colonialism of a Special Type
b) It is therefore a major rightwing deviation from the Freedom Charter and thus, it paves a path that derails a socialist-oriented NDR
c) Ideologically, it is firmly anchored in neo-liberalism and does not even represent a shadow of the revolutionary tradition of the national liberation movement
d) GEAR is indeed a living and growing document, it had 66 pages in 1996. It has now grown to 430 pages in the form of the NDP!
e) We have consistently argued that there are very strong parallels between the NDP and DA policy
f) Specifically we have argued that the NDP:
i) Does not have a plan on how to restructure the economy
ii) Does not have a plan on how to fundamentally transform ownership and control patterns of the economy
iii) Plans to roll-out infrastructure to further reinforce raw mineral export dependence and not broad-based industrial development
iv) Minimizes the role of the state in the economy
v) Seeks to de-regulate the labour market further and to further weaken working class power, and is thus thoroughly anti-working class in its outlook
vi) Operates within the neo-liberal macroeconomic framework and broadly, and thus offers no hope for fundamental social and economic transformation
The question that remains in this regard is: to what extent is there a match or mismatch between the goals of RET and the goals of NDP? What are workers and communities going to do to ensure that the conceptualization and implementation of RET addresses the issues and problems they have with elements of NDP and other macrocosmic policies of the current government? Related to this is the big question of the extent to which Radical Economic Transformation can be achieved without rolling back some of the critical aspects of the CODESA agreements.
The Namibian and Zimbabwean experience is instructive in this regard. Herbert Jauch provides this insightful account of the Namibian experience:
In its 1976 political programme, the South West African People’s (SWAPO) envisaged Radical economic transformation but did not implement it upon assuming power. In the run-up to independence in the late 1980s, negotiations with the Western Contact Group resulted in certain constitutional principles which included the protection of private property. Thus neither the land that was stolen through genocide nor the control of multinationals over mineral and fishing resources was even touched. As a result, colonial economic structures remained in place after independence and there was not even talk of the need for radical economic transformation amongst the political leadership. An arrangement (although sometimes uneasy) between the old and the new elite was reached and economic changes were limited to some modest reforms such as affirmative action measures and more bargaining rights for unions. Working class organisations failed to mount a systematic challenge to push for radical economic transformation. Critical left voices were either co-opted into government structures or remained in NGOs that were mostly donor-dependent. Trade unions’ militancy declined steadily over the years and despite some occasional radical positions on land and privatization, unions overall did not manage to push for radical economic transformation. This left working class interests stranded. A few years ago, Namibia’s second trade union federation, the Trade Union Congress of Namibia (TUCNA) developed its own policy proposals. This at least signaled an intention to tackle broader socio-economic issues and not be confined to a narrow collective bargaining agenda. (Jauch.2017)
In Zimbabwe a similar situation prevailed. Despite the socialist orientation of Zanu (PF) at the time it ascended to power, it became constrained by the Lancaster House Arrangement Like South Africa and Namibia, Zimbabwe had the advantage and opportunity to learn from African countries that received independence and received advises from statesmen from these countries. Based on Mozambique’s experience after it had chased the Portuguese out of the country and embarked on an intensive nationalization program, Samora Machel cautioned Zimbabwe against post-independence revolutionary zeal, and Julius Nyerere implored with President Robert Gabriel Mugabe to preserve the Jewel of Africa – referring to Zimbabwe’s relatively developed and diversified economy. (Chitambara et al 2011). The Mozambican experience that Machel implored Zimbabwe to learn from indicates the barriers that the economy dominated by beneficiaries of settler-colonialism and racial-capitalism hold for post-independent Southern African countries. It underscores the fact that Nyerere Should has qualified his plea to Zimbabwe to keep the jewel of Africa with a caution about the hollowness of hoping to leverage whatever positive elements of the inherited economy without addressing the realities of a disarticulated economy, characterised by a disharmony between its various parts and the existence of tiny enclaves of opulence and filthy riches alongside oceans of poverty and wretchedness. In this regard, it is instructive to examine the observation of Chitambara et al (2011) that:
….if Zimbabwe was a “jewel” at independence; it was certainly a flawed one. The inherited economy was based on the philosophy of white supremacy that resulted in the evolution of a relatively well-developed and modern formal sector, employing about one million people (a fifth of the labor force) , that existed alongside an undeveloped and backward rural economy , the home of 70 percent of the Black population. The ‘jewel’ was the ‘enclave’ part of the economy, which had been developed on the ruthless dispossession of the source of livelihood of the majority of the people, in particular their access to land, which forced them into wage employment. Movement across these structures was strictly controlled such that the prevailing relationship between them was an exploitative one. (Chitambara et al (2011).
The late Zambian economist, Guy Mhone has written extensively about enclavity, primitive accumulation, migration and rural marginalization and labor absorptive capacity in Southern Africa and how the economy characterised by enclavity thwarted and arrested possibilities of pro-poor development, and inclusive and shared growth Zambia.

In South Africa, many theorists have employed Trotsky’s thesis of Combined and Uneven Development to highlight the systemic and structural barriers created by the continuities of an enclave economy accruing from settler-colonial racial-capitalism. This highlights the importance of strategic policies simultaneously aimed, building the capacity of State Owned Enterprises, enhancing the efficacy Private Public Partnerships, facilitating active participation of indigenous people in the economy through skill development, business support and affirmative action programmes and transforming patterns of ownership and control of the economy through redistribution and redress programs and reconstruction and social policy programs aimed towards the overhaul of the socioeconomic and physical or geographic structures of racial segregation apartheid geography. Zimbabwe’s Transitional National Development Plan indicated some sense of learning from other African countries. It declared that in some countries in Africa growth and development was impeded by external and internal constraints that include inappropriate policies and strategies, misallocation of human and material resources building costly, unproductive and often unnecessary capacity. The Transitional National Development Plan went further to mention the results of suck skewed policies as uneven development, stagnation, and decline, leading to no significant and sustained improvement in the living standards of a people as a whole. (Chitambara et al (2011). However the constraints of Lancaster House agreement, the impositions of the IMF and the World Bank and lack of political will and courage to carve an alternative developmental path saw the Zimbabwe National Union -Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) government religiously implementing the Structural Adjustment Programmes, much to the disadvantage of the working-class and the poor. The rigorous adoption and implementation of Effective Structural Adjustment Programs (ESAP) in Zimbabwe once again proved that liberalization and financialization is not a panacea to underdevelopment.

The Zimbabwean government inherited the most developed financial sector in Southern Africa, with four commercial banks, two discount houses, three merchant banks, three building societies, three finance companies, the Post Office Savings Bank, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, a large number pension and provident funds, three development finance institutions, including Agricultural Finance Corporations established in 1924 to fund agricultural projects and two stockbroking firms. (Chitambara et al (2011). These highly segmented financial institutions were not changed in any fundamental way by the new government in the first decade of independence, making the financial services to remain exclusive of the majority of the population, available only to urbanites that constitute less than thirty percent of the population. (Chitambara et al (2011). Under the rubric of ESAP, Zimbabwe embarked on a rapid financialization project, based on the logic that a well-developed financial sector plays a casual and central role in promoting socioeconomic development and that financial development reduces income inequality and absolute poverty.
Based on the argument that excessive regulations and controls interfere with competition and make banks less efficient, more fragile and reduce industry’s access to finance, the Zimbabwean government adopted the liberalization of the interest regime and its transformation into a market-based framework as its strategy to mobilize savings. This strategy is in line with the theoretical underpinning of the financial sector reforms that emphasizes the link between interest rates and savings and postulates that liberalization will, amongst others, increase financial savings and improve the quality and quantity of investments and that increase in domestic interest rates relative to foreign rates will encourage capital flow thereby augmenting domestic savings, resulting in a large pool of loanable funds. (Chitambara et al (2011). The reforms introduced by Zimbabwe in this regard were
• relaxation of regulations pertaining entry of new financial institutions
• the government committed itself an exchange-rate policy that allowed Zimbabwean dollar to depreciate over time by the inflation differential between Zimbabwe and its major trading countries
• Zimbabwean residents and companies were allowed to open foreign-currency denominated accounts with authorized dealers in Zimbabwe
• foreigners were allowed to purchase shares in the Zimbabwean stock exchange subject to 25 per cent limit on a counter , with a single investor limited to 5 percent
• restrictions on access to domestic borrowings by foreigners was abolished
• in February 1995 Zimbabwe agreed to commit to article 8 of the IMF (Chitambara et al (2011).

Chitambara et al (2011) observes that financial liberalization not only deregulated interest rates but also facilitated the onset of the first stage of financial deepening – the emergence of new financial intermediaries and banks, with a number of banking institutions increasing by more than three folds by 1990, constituting fourteen commercial banks, four merchant banks, three finance houses, six discount houses and five building society. The fact that most of the new entrants in the financial sector were owned by indigenous Zimbabweans makes the banking sector one of the sectors in which economic empowerment of the indigenous was achieved smoothly. (Chitambara et al (2011). However, the most important question, which is critical, especially for South Africans – is did the well-developed and diversified, and relatively indigenized financial sector result in socioeconomic development? Did financial development contribute to the reduction of income inequality and absolute poverty? Did the economic empowerment of indigenous Zimbabweans translate into the broader empowerment of the indigenous people of Zimbabwe as a collective or to their social development and economic development?
An answer to this question is a big NO or as South Africans would say, for the underclasses and the majority of the population, it offered ‘dololo’ . This comes out very clear in this account by Chitambara et al (2011)
“The influx of new entrants into the financial sector resulted in intense competition for customers between the new indigenous Zimbabwean banks and the old, orthodox banks, mainly foreign owned. However, the community did not benefit much from this competition, as the pricing of banking products did not improve. Average lending rates increased from 12percent in 1990 to 34.7 percent in 1997, while interest on three-month deposits rose from 10.3 percent to 32.5 percent over the same period. In addition, when measured in terms of depth of products and services offered, the new banking institutions did not offer any innovative services, choosing to fight for space in the market for generic banking products, mainly deposit mobilization and lending to well established companies and individuals with high net worth. A lack of risk management skills and weak corporate governance structures limited the capacity of new institutions to develop new structures. As a result the banking sector continued to serve its prime clients, leaving the SMEs and other marginalised sections of the community without access to financial services. (Chitambara et al (2011).
This example of how the poor benefitted fokkol from financial reforms that took place within the framework of ESAP in the name of inclusive growth indicates how the roots of the financial doldrums in which Zimbabwe found itself can be found in the imposition of the neoliberal trajectory on Zimbabwe and the failure of its government to boldly the colonial, neo-colonial, racial and uneven nature of the economic structure head on right from the beginning. Instead of bold action the government resorted to using paying lip service to the land issue each election time. When it became clear that the workers and the poor are tired of slogans and flag independence, the government was forced to go the route of land redistribution, and indigenization, appropriated popular sentiments to project itself as an anti-colonial force in order to prop up its power. This happened at the time trade union movement was divided between a section that uncritically endorsed government agenda and a section that aligns itself with a liberal bourgeosie opposition that tremendously failed to align itself on the side of the masses, refused to support land repossession project. The MDC actually expelled –International Socialist Organization (ISO) member – Gwisai Munyaradzi – who was then MP on the MDC ticket – for pushing for MDC to support land redistribution agenda.

The absence of a strong, united and radical trade union movement and of a strong socialist movement left the radical transformation agenda in the hands of the ruling Zanu PF who mostly used it as a vote-catching mechanism and as a means of patronage and self-enrichment of the political and social elite associated with Zanu PF rather than as a break with capitalism or practical search for a socialist alternative. The questions in this regard are: will the trade union movement and broad working-class organizations in South Africa, choose the path of entrusting the government with the radical economic agenda uncritically, or the path of making its distrust of government to take an dismissive and absenteeist posture or that of a critical support of the government’s RET trajectory, exploiting positive aspects thereof to articulate a socialist alternative, exposing and combatting attempts by the social, political elites to eat in the name of transformation, and developing its own policy proposals and creating its own platforms and strategies to pursue this goal rather than relying solely on government efforts and platforms? What can we learn from Zimbabwe in terms of transforming the white-dominated financial sector in South Africa in a manner that benefits all South Africans rather than create a few elite who operates with the same profiteering logic of the white and\or foreign owned financial cartels? Related to this question is the question of the meaning of national liberation and class struggle in the South African context, specifically the extent to which formulating these as discrete questions that can be addressed in stages creates an ideological and political, philosophical and practical dilemmas, and to what extent locating the RET within this paradigm raise questions.
In this regard there is a need to for the working class to critically on the extent to which there is a need for critical review the notions such as national liberation, Colonialism of Special Types, the National Democratic Revolution and the Native Republic Thesis which have always featured heavily in the dominant traditions within the liberation movement insofar as characterization of the South African struggle is concerned. In his article, National Liberation: What significance, if any, for South Africa today? Leonard Gentle makes the point that though the land that is today still officially known as South Africa was a British colony up to the establishment of the South African state through the Act of the Union of 1910, the parties that negotiated settlement of 1994 were all South Africans unlike in Zimbabwe the Lancaster Agreement was between Britain and the liberation movements.

He therefore concludes that in South Africa ‘national liberation’ could not have meant the achievement of national independence from or secession from a colonial oppressor state in the strict sense of the word. In response to this problematique of how to characterise apartheid state the SACP coined the term Colonialism of a Special Type in the 1950s to describe the oppression of White minority rule as akin to colonialism, albeit with the colonizer not being a foreigner but an occupant. Such characterization amounted to regarding White South as settlers; a term later associated more with the Pan Africanist Congress that split from the ANC in 1955. From the 1960, partially because of the discomfort with the settler-colonial connotations and partly because of the influence of the two stage theory and the Black Republic thesis as propounded by the USRR, the SACP and ANC used the concept of National Democratic Revolution (NDR) to explain the character of the South African struggle. The gist of NDR was that the struggle is national in form but democratic in context. This meant that the struggle should be conducted in two stages, respectively aimed at the goals of the attainment of liberation from colonial racial oppression and the attainment of socialism. Flowing from this logic was the idea that the first stage that should lead to a Black Capitalist Republic shall be led by the Patriotic Front in the form of the African National Congress and the second that should lead to socialism shall be led by the South African Communist Party as the vanguard party. ( Gentle.2012). As late at 2010, the General Secretary of the SACP, comrade Blade Nzimande asserted that the objective of the NDR has always been understood as the defeat of repressive and colonial regimes to build people’s democracies under the leadership of the motive forces, mainly the oppressed and exploited. He also stressed that such revolution may not be able to proceed to socialism immediately in circumstances were the motive forces are not strong or conscious enough to drive socialist revolution or where other objective factors pose a limitation to transition to socialism.
This view is in harmony with the assertion of the ANC National Working Committee in 2009 that the NDR is called as such because its national and democratic tasks are aimed at dealing with the political and socio-economic manifestations of apartheid colonialism and that
While the motive forces strive to change the elements of the capitalist system in the interests of the NDR, they have to manage the capitalist system in line with the main elements of its own logic.
In its Second Transition document of 1912, the ANC further amplified its strategic mechanism of managing the capitalist system in the interest of the NDR by arguing that the NDR requires a black bourgeosie and should even appeal to sections of the white capital that are ‘patriotic”. Given the points raised in this paper about the need to locate a revolutionary transformative agenda outside the logic, structures and regimes and regiments of capitalism, what are the possibilities of the NDR located within the framework of creatively harnessing capitalism in the interest of democratization of the polity and economy transitioning into radical socio-economic transformation, let alone socialism?
What are the implications of pinning the hopes of the attainment of the objectives of the NDR and the possibilities of a second transition on liberal constitutionalism and creative management of capitalism? As Ari Sitas has observed, the dominant discourse within South Africa, particularly within the tripartite alliance is not only that the post-apartheid dispensation is an unfinished National Democratic Revolution or a national democracy in the making, but also that an electoral or insurrectionary alternative is premature. (Sitas. 2012). The second transition concept mooted by the ANC at its 2012 policy conference and subsequent policy positions as minor version of transition from the NDR Social Revolution is thin in details such as how it offers any substantial break with the political economy trajectory based on neoliberal macroeconomic and the residualisation of social policy to safety-net aimed? What implication does the idea that since the ANC can directly access, reach and influence the working-class, urban and rural poor through local councilors and local branches, it does not need the mediation of the civics, has on the strategy of communists and progressive trade unions building socialism now through the politics of encroachment and constructive criticism within the ruling party? (Sitas 2012). Gentle (2012) pose the following questions in relation to the NDR: “What does ‘national in form’ means? “Who is the South African nation? “What did the liberation movement mean “national liberation? Gentle (2012) correctly probes the notion of national liberation by a reminding us that in terms of the notion of ‘nation’ , only White people were considered as the South African nation in the 1910 and that only white people made the decision in 1961 that South Africa should become a republic outside the British Commonwealth. One can add that Black people were not included in the Ja\Nee vote that was intend to gauge whether the SA government of that time had the citizen’s nod to pursue the negotiated settlements. This is precisely because in terms of the apartheid lexicon and its systemic and institutional framework only White people as a collective were perceived to constitute the South African nation, with Black people as a collective perceived and portrayed as a collection of tribes. This the logic that informed the establishment of the Bantustan, urban townships sometimes segmented into Sotho section; Nguni section etc and what was then called Radio Bantu; with tribal segmented radio stations, e.g Radio Sesotho, Radio Zulu, etc. It is in response to this apartheid notion of South Africa as constituting of the White nation and a collection of tribal groups and the balkanization of the country along racial and tribal lines that the idea of a unitary democratic South Africa in which there is no whites or blacks, minorities or majorities but a single South African nation permeated the broader liberation movement. But to what extent can we say we have attained the nation-building part of the liberation project? Are there significant and noticeable steps toward dismantling and reconstructing the apartheid geography and antecedent structural and institutional arrangements beyond surface modification of the old society and renaming apartheid constructed institutions without doing away with their racial and tribal constructions?

Telling cases in this regard is how the housing and social infrastructure development programme of the post-1994 government has failed to challenge and reconstruct apartheid spatial arrangements and the how the ghost of the 1951 Bantu Authorities Act is being resurrected in the form of a Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act where the Chiefs enjoy more powers than they did in the Bantustan regimes of the Nationalist Party, ( Giyosi 2012) often at the expense of the rural poor, especially in places located in the former Transkei and former Ciskei area. Another case in point is how we have simply renamed Radio Sesotho, Radio Zulu, and Radio Xhosa etc to Lesedi f.m, Ukhosi FM, Umhlobo Wenene without transforming them into instruments of integration instead of tribally based institutions they essentially remain. The issues flagged raise the following questions: how far we are as country with the nation-building project? What are there contrarieties within this nation-building project? To what extent has South Africa learnt from other countries in Africa about the pitfalls of national consciousness that Fanon referred to? The questions about the meaning and relevance of national liberation and NDR in the current context are related to overall question about the class structure of South Africa: What does the revolutionary agenda entail? Who are the motive forces? What kind of alliances and solidarities need to be built and what are the challenges and threats contained in such alliances? In this regard, it may be useful for the broader left to grapple with the following questions posed by Gentle (2012):
….when did South Africa shift from being a British colony and become something else….what is that something else….and what was that “something else” before 1994? And more importantly, what is that something else today? What is the character of the bourgeosie? And what is the character of the working-class in South Africa? Is it simply a unified working class for which race does not matter? What about the middle class? Does South Africa today still replicate the old divisions for access to the social surplus generated by the working-class? What strategies and tactics should the underclasses employ to win their goals …and who is on the side of the under-classes and who is against them?
How should the trade union movement and the working-class frame RET?
Perhaps the best way for labour and working-class to answer the pertinent questions raised above is to locate RET within the historical-material roots and systemic and structural base of racial, class and gender oppression in Southern Africa and South Africa in particular. A critical examination of the roots of racial and class oppression in the global South and Southern Africa in particular reveals an intersection between capitalism (classism), colonialism (imperialism) and racism and racial segregation. In order to deal with the crisis of the exhaustion of natural resources and the conflict between capital interests and labor and social demands, Capitalism in the Nothern Hemisphere had to launch beyond geographic borders in search of raw resources and cheap labour.
Capitalist colonial expansionism then had to enlist racism as moral justification expansionism of the plunder of the lands and wealth of other people and the super exploitation of their labor through subjugation to subhuman working and living condition. The fact that colonialism and or imperialism conscripted racism as its moralizing doctrine logically resulted in colonial societies being based on structures of racial segregation. Emergent capitalism in Southern Africa enlisted the pre-existing structures of racial segregation established by racism to fend cheap labor for itself through the proleteriazation of the African people, using the mechanisms of the forced labor, In South Africa, the apartheid policies established by the National Party regime served to institutionalize the structures of racial segregation established by colonialism and expanded by racially-based capitalism. In his article on the South African political economy, Martin Legassick eloquently explains inextricable link between colonialism, capitalism and racism in the context of South Africa.
South Africa was formed through colonial conquest, by first the mercantile Dutch East India Company from the mid-seventeenth century followed by the British from the early nineteenth century. From that time on colonialism resulted in racism, slavery, attempted genocide, the expropriation of the land of indigenous people and the exploitation of their labour as forced labour. Here lie the roots of national oppression. Full-blooded capitalism developed late in South Africa in comparison with Europe and the United States. The real impact of capitalism came only with the discovery of gold and diamonds, in the mineral revolution at the end of the nineteenth century, as the world economy was undergoing the transition to imperialism. Diamond and gold mines required large amounts of cheap labour. They used the pre-existing structures of colonialism and racism and transformed them into structures of segregation to generate this supply as cheap black migrant labour, supervised by racially privileged white workers. The ideology and structures of segregation prepared the way for the ideology and structures of apartheid. Segregation and apartheid, therefore, served the interests of capitalism rather than merely the ideology of Afrikaner nationalism. (Legassick. Undated)
This account of the roots of national and class oppression indicates that the program of transformation in South Africa must effectively be that of de-colonialization, socialisation and the de-racialization and democratization of both the polity and the economy. While this implies that redistribution, redress\ restitution, reconstruction should be at the centre of social policy and economic policy, it also means that South Africa must honestly address the difficult question posed by the Fallism movement: how possible is it to achieve redistribution, redress\ restitution, reconstruction without brutally confronting the legacies, continuities and symbols of the structures of colonialism, white supremacism and patriarchy? The argument that the de-coloniality and intersectionality discourse presents before us is that de-racialising capital within the precincts of colonial and neo-colonial structures is as cosmetic as de-colonization without a break with capitalism, patriarchy and related forms of social division, social exclusion and social disenfranchisement ultimately amount to the ruling, corporate and social elites seating at the capitalist table eating on behalf of everybody, while the underclasses as a whole, Black people in particular, women and other marginalised sectors of society remain on the periphery, condemned to feasting on crumbs. It points to the fact that the task of the trade union movement and the working-class has to be pushing the RET discourse beyond pursuing shared growth to dislocating the edifices of colonialism, capitalism, racism ad patriarchy. Patrick Bond (cited in Legassick. Undated) pointed to the need for the transformation agenda to highlight this historic task of the working-class and their organization in his response Blade Nzimande’s passionate call for South Africa to go back to the RDP, to wealth redistribution, greater social spending, and heavy investment in infrastructure, together with policies that created long-term jobs and sustainable livelihoods for the majority. In a passionate plea made in to the Black Management Forum, , Nzimande correctly asserted that growth alone, even if it reached 6%, wouldn’t necessarily translate into jobs. Where there was such a “huge wealth gap”, even growth of 10% a year wouldn’t help people without structural change.
Bond responded that Nzimande is right, but he needs to spell out clearly that this involves a struggle to nationalize the commanding heights of the economy under workers’ control and management and that the strategy for inward-industrialisation to provide for the basic needs outlined in the RDP should lea inexorably to a strategy for workers’ power, workers’ control of the economy, and workers’ democracy. The argument raised by Patrick Bond point to the fact that for the working-class Radical Economic Transformation, or revolutionary social, political and economic transformation will be superficial if it does not amount to development of a strategy a strategy for workers’ power, workers’ control of the economy. In this regard, it may be useful to quote at length, Simon Clarke, whose book, Keynesianism, monetarism, and the crisis of the state, influenced Bond’s views expressed above:
“The necessity of socialism has never been more urgent. The objective conditions for a democratic socialist society have never been more fully developed. The concentration and centralization of capital has socialized production to an unprecedented degree. The computer, through which monetarism has been able to perfect the subordination of society to the alienated rule of money, provides the instrument that makes it possible to bring the complex apparatus of social production under democratic control. “There is no reason why socialism should not put itself back on the historical agenda, if only it can learn the lessons of its defeats. The fundamental lessons are three. First, the basis of socialism can only be the socialization of production. Only by bringing social production under social control can the contradictory tendencies of capitalist accumulation, that lead to the pauperization of growing masses of the world population, to the intensification of class struggle, to wars and to recurrent crises, be overcome. Second, socialism has to be internationalist. This is not dictated simply by the internationalization of capital, for the crisis is unleashing nationalist political and ideological forces that counter such internationalization. It is more fundamentally a political imperative. Nationalism is the supreme expression of the alienated form of the capitalist state, fetishing the ‘illusory community’ of the nation against the emerging unity of the ‘real community’ embodied in the collective organization of the working class. Third, socialism has to be democratic. This does not mean that socialism should confine itself within the limits of the formal democracy of the capitalist state. The experience of state socialism and social democracy alike shows that the attempt to build socialism from above, on the basis of the illusory community of the capitalist state and the formalism of its democratic processes, soon leads the state to confront the real community of the democratic organizations of the working class as a barrier to socialism. The socialization of production cannot be divorced from the question of the political forms of such socialization” (Clarke 1988)
The conclusions that can be drawn from the question raised in this paper with regard to (1) the conceptual and practical framework of RET, (2) the an analysis of the roots of national and class oppression in South Africa and (3) the historic the task of the working-class is that genuine radical economic transformation has to result in an overarching change in patterns of ownership of the land, the major means of production and the commanding heights of the economy. It has to entail a move from private ownership to public ownership and state control of the land, the major means of production and the commanding heights of the economy and the socialisation of essential services such as water, energy, health, education, and transport. It also has to entail doing away with a dis-embedded economy that is centred on the activities of private corporations and the state only without taking consideration of and capacitating other economic actors such as the family, homebased economic and business activities, economic and business activities that take place at the community level, in organizations, within the informal economy and in broader society. It has to take the form of re-embedding the economy in society and reinforcing the intersection between political democracy and economic democracy. It should be intertwined with the creation of democratic worker control of production and workplace democracy and community control of public institutions like schools, hospitals and clinics. True radical transformation of the economy has to facilitate cooperative, collaborative and communal processes and structures of production, distribution and consumption.
Radical economic transformation should go beyond economic reforms aimed at creating a Black capitalist industrialist class. It should go beyond simply de-racialising the upper layer of the capitalist structure but leaving the bottom structures the same, characterised by Black working-class suffering and White privilege. The way forward for labor and working-class organization with in relation to the RET discourse can be summarized with one slogan: Resist, Mobilize, Transform! Resist both the ploys of capital to arrest the moves towards economic transformation and the machinations of the Black capitalist and comprador bourgeoisie to turn RET into elitist project in which the rich and connected eat the nation’s wealth in the name of and on behalf of the masses. Mobilize to build the strength, power and capacity of the forces of socialist forces to fight and win battles at the shopfloor, at the boardrooms, on the street, in the parliament, etc. Unleash the force and power of the forces in all these platforms to push for systemic, structural and institutional transformation.

1. Mphutlane wa Bofelo teaches Political and Social Development at Workers’ College in Durban, KwaZulu –South Africa \Azania. The views expressed in the paper are not necessarily subscribed to by the Workers’ College.

2. DITSELA is the Development Institute for Training, Support and Education for Labour. It was established in 1996 by the main trade union federations in South Africa, to help build a strong trade union movement.

3. Karl Paul Polanyi (October 25, 1886 – April 23, 1964)[1] was an Austro-Hungarian economic historian, economic anthropologist, economic sociologist, political economist, historical sociologist and social philosopher. He is known for his opposition to traditional economic thought and for his book, The Great Transformation, which argued that the emergence of market-based societies in modern Europe was not inevitable but historically contingent. Polanyi is remembered today as the originator of substantivism, a cultural approach to economics, which emphasized the way economies are embedded in society and culture. This view ran counter to mainstream economics but is popular in anthropology, economic history, economic sociology and political science.

4. Rosa Luxemburg ( 5 March 1871– 15 January 1919) was a German-Polish-Jewish Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist, anti-war activist, and revolutionary socialist who became a naturalized German citizen. She was, successively, a member of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL), the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD), and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). She articulated a pointed criticism of both the Leninist and the more moderate social democratic schools of socialism, Luxemburg.

5. Walden Flores Bello (born November 11, 1945) is a Filipino academic who served as a member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines. He is a professor of sociology and public administration at the University of the Philippines Diliman, as well as executive director of Focus on the Global South. Socialist Worker described Bello as “one of the most articulate and prolific voices on the international left” and that “he has devoted most of his life to fighting imperialism and corporate globalization”. Bello was also a supporter of Hugo Chávez and was impressed by his opposition to the United States, stating after Chávez’s death that he was “a class act, one impossible to follow. Wherever you are right now, give ’em hell”

6. “Economic Transformation: Employment Creation, Economic Growth and Structural Change: Strengthening the programme of Radical Economic transformation.” ANC National Policy Conference Discussion Documents. http://www.anc.org.za/sites/default/files/National%20Policy%20Conference%202017%20Economic%20Transformation_1.pdf

7. The Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) agreed on the principles of power-sharing, protection of minority rights and guarantee of property rights as the corner-stones of the Government of National Unity. The National Party had entered the negotiation process saying these are the non-negotiable conditions upon which any future constitution of South Africa should be based. The property clause remains in the current constitution of South Africa.

8. Herbert Jauch has been with the labour movement in Southern Africa for over 20 years. He served as executive member of the Namibian National Teachers Union (NANTU) as well as on various committees of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW). Since 1995 Herbert worked as labour researcher, carrying out research projects for the Southern African Trade Union Co-ordination Council (SATUCC) as well as Namibian and South African trade unions. Herbert was instrumental in developing a labour diploma course for Namibian trade unions and served as director of the Labour Resource and Research Institute (LARRI) in Katutura, Windhoek from 1998 until 2007. He was LaRRI’s senior researcher until January 2010 and now works as freelance labour researcher and educator with various organisations in Southern Africa.

9. The Lancaster House Agreement, signed on 21 December 1979, allowed for the creation and recognition of the Republic of Zimbabwe, replacing the unrecognized state of Rhodesia created by Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965. The terms of the Agreement provided for Zimbabwe Rhodesia to temporarily revert to its former status as the Colony of Southern Rhodesia, thereby ending the rebellion caused by Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence. In addition to the terms, Robert Mugabe and his supporters were pressured into agreeing to wait ten years before instituting land reform. Both the British and American governments offered to compensate white citizens for any land sold so as to aid reconciliation (the “Willing buyer, Willing seller” principle), and a fund was established to operate from 1980 to 1990.

10. South African slang for ‘nothing’

11. Afrikaans word essentially meaning having nothing, being nothing, nothing left, literally “fuck all”

12. The International Socialist Organization (ISO) is a revolutionary socialist organization in that identifies with Trotskyism, Leninism, and the Marxist political tradition of “socialism from below.

13. Leonard Gentle is the former director of the International Labour and Research Information Group (ILRIG), an NGO that produces educational materials for activists in social movements and trade unions. He has been an anti-apartheid activist for many years and has worked as an organizer for the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (SACCAWU), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) and as an educator for the International Federation of Workers’ Educational Associations (IFWEA).

14. Ari Sitas is a South African sociologist, writer, dramatist and civic activist. His publications include Voices that reason, Black Mamba Rising: South African Worker Poets in Struggle, William Zungu: A Xmas Story, Slave Trades, and Towards a Postcolonial Sociology?

15. Ari Sitas is a South African sociologist, writer, dramatist and civic activist. His publications include Voices that reason, Black Mamba Rising: South African Worker Poets in Struggle, William Zungu: A Xmas Story, Slave Trades, and Towards a Postcolonial Sociology?

16. Patrick Bond (born 1961, Belfast, Northern Ireland) is professor of political economy at the University of the Witwatersrand Wits School of Governance. He was formerly associated with the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where he directed the Centre for Civil Society from 2004-2016. His research interests include political economy, environment, social policy, and geopolitics

17. Simon Clarke (born 26 March 1946) is a British sociologist specialising in social theory, political economy, labour relations, and the history of sociology. He has a particular interest in employment relations in China, Vietnam, and the former-Soviet nations. He is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Warwick.


Ashman, S, Fine B and Newman, S. 2011. The Crisis in South Africa: Neoliberalism, Financialization and Uneven and Combined Development. Socialist Register http://www.socialistregister.com/index.php/srv/article/view/14326#.WgAy8Y0UlYc

Bello, W. 2002. cited in Melissa Serrano and Edlira Xhafa. 2011. “The quest for alternatives beyond (Neo—liberal) Capitalism”, Working Paper no 14. International Labor Organization. (ILO): Geneva.
Clarke, Keynesianism, pp. 359-360 cited by Martin Legassick in South African political economy
Chitambara P, Kanyenze G, Kondo T, and Martens, J. 2011. Beyond the Enclave: Towards a Pro-Poor and Inclusive Development Strategy for Zimbabwe. Weaver Press: Harare
Herbert Jauch. Personal Conversations. 06\10\2017
Gentle.L. 2012. “National Liberation: What Significance, if any, for South Africa Today?” in Cornell, V. (ed).2012. National Liberation: Any Significance Today? Papers from the ILRIG April Conference. Ilrig: Cape Town.
Giyosi. MP. 2012. The Antimonies of National Liberation Movement Theory and Practice: the African National Congress 1910-1960” in Cornell, V (ed) 2012. National Liberation: Any Significance Today? Papers from the ILRIG April Conference. Ilrig: Cape Town.
Legassick. M. “South African political economy” undated. http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za/files/Legassick%20SA%20poli%20econ%20today.pdf
Luxemburg, R. 1913. The Accumulation of Capital. https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1913/accumulation-capital/index.htm

Polanyi, K. 1994. The Great Transformation. Beacon Press. Boston. http://inctpped.ie.ufrj.br/spiderweb/pdf_4/Great_Transformation.pdf

Scott, B. R. 2006. Bruce R. Scott, Chapter 2, Capitalism, Democracy and Development, June 27, 2006
Sitas. A. 2012. Where have all the stages gone? The Challenges of Working Class Fragmentation. in Cornel. V (ed) 2012. National Liberation: Any Significance for Today? Papers from the ILRIG April Conference. Ilrig: Cape Town.

August 8, 2017

Alain Badiou on being blind

Filed under: philosophy,politics — ABRAXAS @ 8:27 am

Any real movement, especially when its blind mission is to reopen History, maintains that what is merely visible should not be considered genuinely given; that one should know how to be blind to the self-evidence of representation so as to have confidence in what is happening, what is being said, here and now, about the Revolution and its implementaiton.

August 2, 2017

WOLE SOYINKA: Re-positioning Negritude

Filed under: literature,philosophy,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 1:07 pm


andile mngxitama – “is black speech hate speech?”

Filed under: andile mngxitama,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 10:43 am


July 24, 2017


Filed under: mphutlane wa bofelo,politics — ABRAXAS @ 10:34 am

Strini Moodley Memorial Lecture presented on 19 July 2017, Howard College Theatre, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN)

Respected leaders and members of the UKZN community, Umtapo Centre, the Steve Biko Transformative Educational Project and broader KZN civil society, I greet you in the name of the oneness, unity and fellowship of humanity: Sanibonani, Shalom, Namaste, Assalaam Alaykum, Kgotso ebe le lona. As frightened as I am by the word ‘memorial lecture’ and equally surprised when I saw the official invite to this event falsely accusing me of being a “lecturer”, I am greatly honored to be part of the speakers at this memorial lecture of comrade Strinivasa Raju Moodley – the man fondly known as Connection.


The Connection nickname symbolized Comrade Strini’s inclination to interact with and bring people together beyond social, political, cultural and geographic borders. A memorial is indeed a fitting tribute to a man whose political and cultural work was by and large against de-historicizing the many social, political and economic problems facing humanity. The symbolic and political significance of the concept of memorial in this context is also due to the fact that comrade Strini subscribed to the Black Consciousness philosophy, a philosophy that has articulated the relationship between memory and being very well. Indeed Black Consciousness – like other philosophical branches Africana Philosophy such as Pan Africanism , Black Existentialism , Black Existential Feminism and Critical Race Theory , stresses the importance of remembering , particularly critical interrogation of the past and its link to the present and the future as a political act, that has either liberating or oppressive consequences depending on the meaning that one attach to their place in history and their role in the making of history.

Black Consciousness has properly identified the impact of the colonialist project of denigration, disfiguring and mutilation of the histories and traditions of an oppressed people as denying people a sense of being and belonging and therefore denying them their humanity. The Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) – of which Strini was a co-founder in Azania – identifies the re-humanization of the oppressed people and their mental and physical liberation as the central aim of national and class struggles the world over and as the central focus of our struggle in Azania. The BCM articulates Black Self-realization, as the key mover of the agency of Black people as the most downtrodden of the exploited under-classes of Azania. It proposes Black Solidarity and Black Power as the most potent instruments to confront and challenge the structures of racial-capitalism that deny Black people their humanity, and advocates egalitarian socialist values and practices as the medium through which the humanity of all people – irrespective of the colour of their skin, their gender, their sexuality etc can be reclaimed.

Screen shot 2017-07-24 at 11.29.55 AM

This takes us to today’s theme. I must admit that the first challenge I had in deciding how to approach my talk was deciding on which of the two proposed topics to speak on:

1. How can the flames engulfing the country be extinguished?
2. Socialism and humanism are they two sides of the same coin?

My struggle with the topics was precisely because I found the two topics so intertwined that it would be difficult to talk about one without speaking to the other. I found the implied framing of socialism and humanism as discrete and separate ideals and goals problematic. I also struggled with the notion of extinguishing the flames.

What flames are we referring to? Are we referring to the flames of spontaneous, organic and organised resistance engulfing the country as exemplified by Rhodes Must Fall, Fees Must Fall, popular land repossessions actions and nationwide protests against the squeeze of the continuities of apartheid-capitalism and neoliberal policies on poor and working-class people’s lives? Or which flames are referring to? There are so many flames engulfing the country. The country is engulfed by the fires and flames of industrial pollution that endangers the lives of thousands of people particularly poor working-class communities such as the people of Durban South basin who for decades have endured the assault of air pollution, oil pollution, water, noise pollution and land degradation on their lives and wellbeing caused by the activities of SAPREF , Engen Refinery and several polluting industries ranging from waste water treatment works, numerous toxic waste landfill sites, a paper manufacturing plant and a multitude of chemical process industries, the people of Zamdela


in Sasolburg who for fifty years have been subjected to poor air quality as a result of high concentration of sulphur dioxide emissions and fine particulate matter courtesy of the Sasol Chemical Industry, and several communities in the country who almost three decades after democracy are still literally breathing raw sewerage? Azania is engulfed by socioeconomic violence unleashed on poor communities by neoliberal capitalist policies that churn unemployment, poverty and inequality. It is engulfed by rampant maladministration and corruption in the private and public sector. Azania is engulfed by the continuities of apartheid-capitalism and racial, class and gender disparities. Azania is engulfed by what for a lack of words I refer to as internecine wars between various fractions, appendages and outlets of capital in the scramble over who must turn the state into its private property and cash-cow the most. The various kinds of flames engulfing Azania are related to the flames engulfing other countries and other people all over the world. What I know, however, is that the Strinivasa Moodley we know, would be more interested in igniting and kindling to high voltage the flames of popular resistance and revolutionary war against social, political, economic, gender and environmental injustice. And to my understanding, Strini perceived Socialism as a scientific expression of humanist ideals.

This understanding influences me to use my poetic license and abuse the position of being the speaker to reformulate the my topic today as RECLAIM THE HUMANISM OF SOCIALISM TO EXTINGUISH THE FLAMES ENGULFING THE COUNTRY

Herbert Marcuse poignantly expresses the point that we make that Socialism is humanism when he states:

“In the Marxian conception, socialism is humanism in as much as it organizes the social division of labor, the “realm of necessity” so as to enable human beings to satisfy their social and individual needs without exploitation and with a minimum of toil and sacrifice. Social production, controlled by the “immediate producers,” would be deliberately directed toward this goal. With this rational organization of the realm of necessity, human beings would be free to develop themselves as “all-round individuals” beyond the realm of necessity, which would remain a world of want, of labor. But the qualitatively new organization of the realm of necessity, upon which the emergence of truly human relationships depends, in turn depends on the existence of a class for which the revolution of human relationships is a vital need. Socialism is humanism in the extent to which this need and goal pre-exist, i.e., socialism as humanism has its historical a priori within capitalist society. Those who constitute the human base of this society have no share in its exploitative interests and satisfactions; their vital needs transcend the inhuman existence of the whole toward the universal human needs which are still to be fulfilled. Because their very existence is the denial of freedom and humanity, they are free for their own liberation and for that of humanity. In this dialectic, the humanist content of socialism emerges, not as value but as need, not as moral goal and justification but as economic and political practice—as part of the basis itself of the material culture.” I would like to agree with Marcuse that Socialism and humanism in its radical sense are inseparable.

My view is that the political, social and economic crisis facing the world today has its roots in (1) the barbarism and injustices of market supremacism, racial supremacism and patriarchy, (2) the inadequacy of representative liberal democracy and social democracy, (3) the excesses of commandist communism and vanguardist Marxism, and (4) the failure of the dominant discourse to locate racism and patriarchy as much central to problems we face as capitalism. Therefore this crisis cannot be appropriately dealt with without appealing to the radical humanism of socialism. It equally cannot be adequately addressed without locating socialist and radical humanist thought in the quest for forms, expressions and organs of power beyond the state, the market and formal political parties. Most importantly, the rediscovery and resurgence of the humanist goal of Socialism or what Biko and the BCM refers to as the vision of an egalitarian socialist society that bestows a human face to the world will be just a matter of chasing shadows if socialist and leftist thought in general is not located to the specificities and peculiarities of the conditions and problems faced by Black people, women, the gay-lesbian-transgender –intersex and queer communities, refugees and immigrants, disabled people and other disempowered , powerless , silenced and marginalised people. It is clear that to rediscover and articulate the mission of the quest for a humanity, socialism has to disabuse and redeem itself from the myth that socialist ideals and practices begins with Karl Marx and Frederick Engels and ends with Vladmir Lenin (with Leon Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg said in hushed tones, Mao somehow tolerated, Antonio Gramsci somewhere in the background – Frantz Omar Fanon and CRL James as the bastard kids; IB Tabata , Archie Mafeje and Neville Alexandre too Black to be in the canons and Black socialist women completely left out.) Most importantly, socialism has to rid itself of the twin devils of statism and economism to explore participatory democratic politics and collaborative, cooperative, communal, social and sustainable modes of production and distribution of wealth and knowledge.

This means that we have do discard and bid goodbye to a predictive and commandist kind of socialism that not only claim to have all the answers but also claims that only a particular party and a particular inner-circle within this party possesses the spiritual powers to see the future, and therefore the rest of society must depend on the brains and eyes, guts and whims of this group of intellectual sangomas for its destiny and future. It is ludicrous to subscribe to the notion that one party can be the leader of society instead of its taking its cue from public demands, societal issues and the dynamics of time and place. It is absurd to portray one party as the vanguard of the working-class instead of the under-classes as the vanguard and a socialist party drawing from the daily experiences and struggles of the wretched of the earth. It is ridiculous for one political organization to impose itself as the sole authentic representative or torchbearer of a particular philosophy and to deny the plurality of voices and diversity of perspectives and slants within one philosophy, ideology or movement. As a matter of fact the very notion of which social force is the vehicle should be interrogated in a critical manner that avoids being essentialist about the questions of class, race and gender and also avoids being prescriptive and dogmatic on the agents and forms of struggle. As

Herbert Marcuse correctly asserts:

Socialist theory, no matter how true, can neither prescribe nor predict the future agents of a historical transformation which is more than ever before the specter that haunts the established societies. But socialist theory can show that this specter is the image of a vital need; it can develop and protect the consciousness of this need and thus lay the groundwork for the dissolution of the false unity in defense of the status quo.

Indeed Strini perceived Socialism, Radical Humanism, and Black Consciousness as the way out of the mayhem in which we find ourselves where children and women are unsafe in the streets, at home, in schools and at every space and wherein everyday there is one or other form of protest in demand of very basic necessities that should be a given in a normal society.

Strini understood that in the context of Azania any project aimed at re-humanizing the people who are at the intersection of the ravages of racial, class and gender oppression that does not have the insight of Black Consciousness, Black Feminism and Ecological perspectives and does not take into cognizance of all forms of social exclusion, marginalization and powerlessness is bound to fail. This comes out very clear in Strini’s input on the beginning of Umtapo where he clearly articulates a Radical Humanist and Socialist perspective on the notion of Peace Activism in our context. Strini mentions that

Umtapo was established in response to internecine violence in the community particularly internecine violence among political parties and that it was aimed towards an intervention programs that would make people to be in solidarity with one another to work together to address the root of the problem instead of fighting one another. (The Beginnings of Umtapo. Youtube.com). Explaining that in the context of all the wars and violence in Africa and the world peace has acquired a new meaning (ibid), Strini indicates states that:

“ …the whole notion of a peace activist is not different from the old days. In the old days we were freedom fighters. I think today every freedom fighter has to be peace activists. What is a peace activist? A peace activist is not a person who is only interested in the absence of war but is more concerned about the quality of life of every human being. A peace activist will be fighting for will be for development of the quality of life of every human being in the world. Not just in your own community, not just in your own family, not just in your own neighborhood, but the world over. That is what Umtapo sets out to do… to multiply themselves in the community. The way we want to go about with this is to establish a leadership institute that will be able to train young people to be leaders who are committed, accountable, incorruptible, who are able to have a keen awareness of their own self and their own history and are also able to mould and design new country, a new country that will have leaders who are gonna make it their role to eliminate violence, corruption and unemployment and all the things that have riddled the country, primarily the problem of poverty. (The Beginnings of Umtapo. Youtube.com)

Here Strini clearly articulates the idea that genuine struggle and achievement of peace lies in the struggle for and realisation of social, political, economic, gender and environmental justice and in the creation of an egalitarian society wherein all human beings have at their disposal the human, social, political, economic, cultural and environmental conditions required for their overall wellbeing or for meaningful human existence. He stresses:
• the importance of solidarity, self-realization and focusing on the roots rather than the symptoms;
• the role of activists as facilitators of individual and collective agency to mobilize collective action for social change;
• the need for committed, accountable and incorruptible leadership
• the vision of a development agenda that radically deals with the intersection of problems that is injurious to the welfare and wellbeing of people and the environment.

Strini’s emphasis of the importance of focusing on the roots rather than the symptoms of a problem is evocative of

0Jose Marti’s assertion that to be radical means to go to the roots. It is no wonder that within the BCM Strini was known as the irrepressible prophet of the revolution. At the personal level my most unforgettable memory of Strinivasa Moodley was of him workshopping us on Freirian pedagogy. I remember specifically his statement that has lived with me for all my life and that shape my social, cultural and political activism:

“The role of a facilitator is to kill himself\herself’

What I understood Strini to be saying was that the role of facilitators is not that of a gate-keepers of knowledge, power and resources nor is the task of facilitators to build an empire for themselves or to consolidate the establishment but rather to create a world in which their services is no longer required, a world in which knowledge production and education and active participation in social, economic, political and cultural life is not the preserve of the propertied and the elite.

That as activists, in any terrain – be it in academia, organised civil society, organised labor and in social and political movements etc – we should assume the role of facilitators rather than that of lecturers, teachers and leaders who know all the problems. What Strini is telling us is that we should see ours as the struggle against establishments, hierarchies, orthodoxies, dogmas and canons and rather than the the enterprise propping up the system that is based on various forms of social stratification, social disenfranchisement and social exclusion.

That our task is to smash the gated pedagogy that entrenches inequalities and commoditize education and other social services in the name of standards and the bottom-line. There is therefore no doubt that if comrade Strini was here he would be among those calling for expropriation of the expropriators, for socialisation of land and the major means of production, for equal redistribution of wealth, for the public control and social ownership of the commanding heights of the economy, for free and de-colonial education, for free, decent and habitable housing, free and quality public healthcare and quality and safe public transport, shouting at the top of his voice:

Rhodes Must Fall!
Fees Must Fall!
Outsourcing Must Fall!
Capital Must Fall!
Racism must Fall!
Patriarchy must fall!
South Africa must fall for Azania to rise!

The point we would like to make here is that Socialism and humanism, to be specific, radical humanism, are two cups of the same liter or rather socialism minus humanism is socialism minus its core. By humanism here we are not referring to many variants of utopian and liberal humanism. By now it should be common knowledge that Western humanism or liberal humanism has been exposed and rendered false in its promise of human freedom without altering the capitalist relations of productions that fosters unequal, inequitable and unjust power relations. Western humanism and liberal humanism has also been rendered a falsity by its failure to confront the structures of racism and patriarchy and has its indecisiveness in the face of the ecological disaster associated with unbridled accumulation.

The humanism of Marxism has been undermined by a rigidly statist and economistic paradigm characterised by vanguardism and burecratic centralism. The falseness of the democratic and humanist postures of former Stalinist, one-party and bureaucratic centralist communist regimes lies in the fact that they seek to become more humanistic by making arrangements with Western imperialism or by using the socialist lexicon to implement the neoliberal capitalist agenda. We can see this playing itself in Azania with the tendency by those in power to pay lip service to the concept of people’s power while propping up the power of capital and entrenching systemic, structural and institutional arrangements that create a form of democracy that is effectively an empire of the social, political and corporate elites. But for genuine socialists and communists there is not denying the fact that any liberatory project worth thje salt has to be based on the humanist notion that enslaved human beings must accomplish their own liberation and therefore on a frontal attack on all structures serves as barriers to human agency for liberation. Such an understanding implies that the task of socialists is to engage in a simultaneous process of cultivation of individual and collective agency and exposure and confrontation of the systemic, structural and institutional arrangements that constrict, suffocate and throttle human agency.

Herein lies the humanism of Socialism: The idea that human beings are makers of their own history and should be at the centre of all social, political, economic and cultural activities and processes that have an impact on their life and shape their destiny; and that all structures, systems and institution that deny human beings this should be fought and smashed by any means necessary. As Herbert Marcus observes, “the human reality is an “open” system: no theory, whether Marxist or other, can impose the solution…’I find myself in agreement with Herbert Marcus that the tasks of all who are activists and intellectuals, all those who are still free and able to think (and bold to act), is to develop the conscience and consciousness of enslaved human beings who must accomplish their own liberation…. to make them aware of what is going on, to prepare the precarious ground for the future alternatives. This Socialist humanist ideal fits like a hand-in-glove in the Black Consciousness idea that the oppressed people should be the agents, subjects and objects of their own liberation, it resonates with the motto of the disability movement in Azania, Nothing about us without us and with the maxim that has since been hijacked and commercialized as clothing label: for us by us. Indeed a true liberatory project is one that is by the people for themselves and the role and work of a revolutionary activist in this regard is summed up in the advice of Lao Tzu :

“Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say ‘We have done this ourselves.”

Some of the practical things we could do to deal with the flames engulfing the country and the globe are to:

1. Revitalizing anti-sectarian radical popular-education, civic education, worker-education, worker-culture and theater for social transformation, centering these on the organic struggles and campaigns of the labor, student, youth, women and community organizations and using them to strengthen initiatives such as Fees Must Fall, Outsourcing Must Fall, Anti-eviction campaigns and popular protest for housing and land.

2. Exploration and experimentation with or consolidation of existing grassroots-based community development programmes and solidarity economy initiatives that tap into the principles and practices of eco-socialism and sustainable living approaches

3. Identifying spaces within and outside of existing formal and informal education platforms and broader labor , civic and social movement platforms to explore and experiment with the ideals of a cooperative higher education and the building of a broader movement for transformation of public higher education from what Henry Giroux refers to as a “bordered” or “limited” enterprise to a “borderless,” socially and politically conscious sphere directed towards the project of democratization and borderless pedagogy that moves across different sites – from schools to the alternative media – as part of a broader attempt to construct a critical formative culture that enables people to reclaim their voices, speak out, exhibit moral outrage and create the social movements, tactics and public spheres that will reverse the growing tide of authoritarianism.

4. Explore the idea of bringing radical socialist and broader left groupings that are not beholden to the current neo-liberal state and capital around a National Socialist Forum that explores a common platform of action around issues of common agreement and common interests that could include, among others:

(a) A series of workshops, seminars and campaigns to advocate for human, political, social and economic development policies and programs that serve to radically democratize the society, the state and the economy and to move South Africa towards the nationalisation and socialization of the primary means of wealth, the commanding heights of the economy and essential social services.

(b) A national summit on land redistribution, agrarian reform, sustainable industrial development and social and economic transformation aimed at consolidating and linking current struggles and campaigns on these issues and developing a cogent policy and political program on them.

(c) An ongoing campaign and advocacy against gender-based violence that will include a series of Gender and Sexuality workshops and seminars at schools, universities, communities and workplaces as an educational initiative aimed at tackling the attitudes, practices and systemic and structural factors that account for the explosion of various forms of violence and oppression against women and children and against the GBTQI community.

(d) Campaign for a popular constituent assembly that will do away with the sellout constitution that came out of the fraudulent Codesa process
The radical humanist socialist approach we propose to tackling the issues must attack and complete breakaway with the dominant narratives promoted by racism, capital and patriarchy that seeks to portrays Black people, workers, women, the GLBTQI community, refugees and immigrants, homeless and landless people as a problem instead of as people faced with particular economic, social and psychological challenges and problems caused by racism, capitalism and patriarchy. As Biko correctly responded to the racist notion of the black problem, ‘there is no such thing as the ‘Black problem’ but that the problem is quite simply white anti-Black racism.’ We should offer the same answer to those who turn Black students and Black youth into a problem rather than as people faced by the problem. When Black youths in particular are assailed with social rhetoric that asks them not to make any reference to the apartheid past or its impact on their social realities and are encouraged to restrict their focus on seizing the abundant opportunities and spaces for self-development opened up by post-apartheid legal and constitutional framework. When Black youths are told that an enabling environment has been created for them through the bold of heroes and sheroes of the struggle, and theirs is the new struggle of pulling themselves up by their own bootstrings to occupy the spaces and seize the opportunities.

When Black youth are bombarded with the rhetoric that overemphasize individual effort and individual agency above collective agency aimed at structural change and social transformation such as “phanda, pusha, play” (Hustle, push and play), vukuzenzele” (wake up and do it for yourself), #uzoyitholakanjani uhlel’ekhoneni?” (How will you find it when you are sitting at the corner?” Socialist Humanism and BC will enable the poor black rural and township child bombarded with “uzoyitholakanjani uhlel’ekhoneni?”Occupy your space” to respond:

i am not at the corner
out of my own volition
it’s the only space
left for me to occupy
the hospital has no space
for a bed for my TB
my numeracy is too wanting
for me to know the safe number
for me to raise at a specific
time and place to a particular
person in the prison space
my mind is an occupied space
campus culture declared me a dropout
the arts architecture history lectures landed me in Venice
literature left me in London of bygone days
the curriculum spoke to me in a strange language
the fees kicked me out of the space
at home i wrestled with the rats in bed
fought with roaches for a place at the table
till the red ants evicted
my family from our shack-house
because we spoiled the value
of the house of mister mayor
i am not at the corner
out of my own volition
i put a table on the street corner
to sell potatoes and cigarettes
metro police came with guns and the law
to kick me out of the very corner
me and my buddies gathered
around the corner to wash
cars for some money for bread
the rich man came with fancy machines
produced papers the local government
& took away the corner and the clients
i relocated to another corner
only for municipality to ask
me to produce business license
i am not under the bridge
out of my own choice
i identified a good space
where i can stand guard
on people’s cars for R30 for the shelter
big business came up with elegant uniform
donkiepiel & superficial smiles

Indeed Socialist Humanism will arm the youths and students, the poor and the unemployed with the political consciousness to boldly declare that as long as the systemic , structural and institutional arrangements not only push them to the corner but also allow for the rich and propertied to even colonize the very corner they are quarantined to : sizohlala sizinyova ne government ..Until there is truly a government of the people by the people for the people!!!
Without any apology: Izwelethu I Afrika. I Afrika Izwelethu! One Azania: One People! One Nation: One Azania!

June 20, 2017


Please read this description of the student rebellion of 1968 with FeesMustFall in mind.


Hearing any participant or eyewitness of the rebellion of young people in Paris in May 1968 is an experience that puts our ability to judge things objectively to the test. In all the accounts I have heard there is one surprising note: the tone of the revolt, at once passionate and disinterested, as if action had been confused with representation: it was like a mutiny that turned into a Festival and a political discussion that turned into a ceremony; epic theater and at the same time public confession.

The secret of the fascination that this movement exercised on all those (including the spectators) who were present at its demonstrations lay in its attempt to unite politics, art, and eroticism. There was a fusion of private and collective passion, a continuous ebb and flow between the marvelous and the everyday, the lived act as an aesthetic representation, a conjunction of action and its celebration.
It was a true conversion: not only a change of ideas but of sensibility; more than a change of being, it was a return to being, a social and psychic revelation that for a few days broadened the limits of reality and extended the realm of the possible.

It was a return to the source, to the principle of principles: being oneself by being with everyone. It was a discovery of the power of language: my words are yours; speaking with you is speaking with myself.

It was a reappearance of everything (communion, transfiguration, the transformation of water into wine and of words into a body) that religions claim as their own though it is anterior to them and constitutes the other dimension of man, his other half and his lost kingdom – man perpetually expelled and torn away from time: in search of another time, a prohibited, inaccessible time: the present moment.
Not the eternity of religions but the incandescence of the instant: a consummation and an abolition of dates.
What is the other way to enter such a present? André Breton once spoke of the possibility of incoporating an extra-religious sense of the sacred, made up of the triangle of love, poetry, and rebellion, into modern life. This sacred cannot emerge from anything but the depths of a collective experience. Society must manifest it, incarnate it, live it, and thus live and consume itself. Revolt as the path to Illumination. Here and now: a leap to the other shore.

June 19, 2017

art and revolution

Filed under: art,philosophy,politics — ABRAXAS @ 11:08 pm

“There is no art that does not create a style and there is no style that does not eventually kill art. By injecting the idea of revolution into art, our era has created a plurality of styles and pseudostyles. This abundance turns into another abundance: that of styles that die aborning. Schools proliferate and propagate like mushrooms until their very abundance finally erases the differences between one tendency and another; movements live about as long as insects do, a few short hours; the aesthetic of novelty, surprise, and change turns into imitation, tedium, and repetition. What is left for us?”
Octavio Paz
Conjunctions and Disjunctions

June 15, 2017

an interview with Tsietsi Mashinini

Filed under: politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 6:31 am

the president of the Soweto Students Representative Council and a central leader of the mass student protests that began in Soweto in June 1976


Question: Could you tell us what life is like in Soweto?

Answer: I don’t know in what way I can portray the picture. But Soweto is the biggest Black township in South Africa. It has about 80,000 houses, which are inhabited by more than one million people. I came from a family of twelve kids. And my parents make it fourteen. We stayed in a four room house, and the rooms are about eight by ten. Very few houses have electricity. Of those with electricity, most of them belong to the in Soweto had wages just to keep them alive, and not to have any other needs a human being has. Bourgeoisie in Soweto. It is ghetto life all the way. Very few gas stoves around. There are lots of basic needs people cannot afford, because of very low wages. In fact, when a survey was done in 1974 it was found that 60 percent of people in Soweto had wages just to keep them alive, and not to have any other needs a human being has. You don’t own any property except your furniture. The house is not yours – it belongs to the Bantu Administration Board. You are in the urban areas for the purpose of either schooling or working. If you are not doing either of the two, you are sent to the Homelands. Soweto has very few recreational facilities. It has two cinemas, about six municipal halls, and scattered playgrounds here and there. It has almost 300 schools, from grade level Sub A through matriculation. There is no university in Soweto. If you want to go to university, you go to one of the tribal universities.


Q. You mentioned bourgeois layers in Soweto. Can you explain that further?

A. They are a very small percentage. In fact they have a special township, a place for the rich, called Dube. That is where you find most of the big houses and mansions. Most of the people who stay there are doctors, lawyers, and people who have got the best jobs in town. The rest of the people are labourers and drivers. They constitute 85 percent.


Q. Could you describe the conditions in the schools and the education system for Blacks in South Africa?

A. Besides having to buy everything you need at school, you pay high school fees. There are a number of bursaries that are granted on merit, but usually they are granted to students from rich families. The classes have almost eighty pupils in them. There are two or three on a desk even at high school. At primary school level you sit down on benches in rows with no desks at all. Our schools don’t have heaters. The school simply has a classroom, a blackboard, and the Department of Bantu Education provides the chalk and writing material for the blackboard. Everything else in the classroom is provided by the pupils. After April, the Bantu Education Constitution laid down that if you have not paid the fees you should be sent out from the school. If you don’t wear the proper school uniform every day, you are liable to expulsion. Teachers cane you for whatever offence, and each school has its own regulations. The school I came from, you enter at 7 a.m and school goes out at 5:30 p.m, with two breaks in between: one at ten o’clock for twenty minutes and a lunch break between one and two o’clock. You get punished for not having shoelaces, belts, ties, and buttons. And if you are a girl and you are wearing a tunic, you get punished if your buttons do not correspond to your tunic. In South Africa, the teaching is very impersonal and indifferent. It’s only in rare cases where you find the teacher with an interest in his students or pupils. Most of the time the teacher just comes in, gives you work, and goes out.


Q. Are all the teachers Black?

A. Yes, all Black. In my school there was a white teacher. He came this year and was not well received by the students. I understand there are almost eighty white teachers in high schools all over South Africa. This is supposed to project an image overseas that Blacks and whites are living quite happily, that we even have white teachers in Black schools. I don’t know how many times that teacher nearly got beaten up at school by students because of the bitterness the Black people have.


Q. Can you describe how the recent student protests developed around the Afrikaans language?

A. We don’t have much political education in South Africa and most of the material you read out here is banned in South Africa or it is for the whites only. So you come to realise that you know very little about the outside world except when Kissinger is going to Zurich. That, they announce. The local papers concentrate on local news. Newspaper reading has never been the interest of students for a very long period, because the newspapers were white. A South African high-school student because it was there that the eruption started, at high-school level around the South African Students Organization-cannot tell you that Transkei is another aspect of oppression because of this and this. But in some way or another, the student understands and indentifies all elements of oppression like this Afrikaans thing-that is, our education, which is simply to domesticate you to be a better tool for the white man for the white man when you go and join the working community.

Q. Until now all teaching was done in English?

A. Yes all the time.

Screen shot 2017-06-15 at 9.44.36 AM

Q. And now the proposal was to make all teaching in Afrikaans, or just some of it?

A. Every student is doing seven subjects, at least until high-school level: the two official languages, English and Afrikaans, your mother tongue, and four other subjects. This Afrikaans policy compelled you to do two of the subjects in Afrikaans and two in English. With the type of education we have and where you do not have much material to research on, students find difficulty in understanding the concepts involved in physics, biology, and geography. And now, if you do all these things in a language you are not conversant in, and the teacher has never been taught to teach in Afrikaans – Afrikaans has got very circles in society because everywhere the medium of English is used, except in official pamphlets where Afrikaans and English is used – and all the time for almost eleven years you have been taught through the medium of English, it is difficult to switch over. A number of junior secondary schools went on strike a then some went back. But there was one in particular, Phuti, which went on strike for six weeks and they would not go back until Afrikaans was scrapped as a medium of instruction. When any school was involved in an incident of some sort, the press built it up as another protest against the Afrikaans language. There was an incident at Naledi high school where security branch officers went to pick up a student for detention. When the go there, the students decide to beat up the security branch officers and burn their car. The press picked that up as another protest of Afrikaans medium of instruction and then it was the talk of the township. We were getting sick and tired because instead of oppression being gradually removed from us, the system was in fact implementing some of the thoughts of oppressing us. I realized that people were fed up with this sort of thing, but nobody had the guts to start anything. I decided that if we were to demonstrate it would have an effect because there has never been a demonstration before in Soweto. There were demonstrations some time before we were born or when we were little kids, like Sharpeville demonstration – of which we know very little because any material written material, about Sharpeville was banned. We heard that the students of the University of Witwatersrand had demonstrated. So I thought that if we could demonstrate it would be something out of the way. I was the president of the South African Student Movement [SASM] at my high school, Morris Isaacson. I called the students together, and on the Wednesday a week before June 16, we talked about it. I delivered the speech on the South African situation and got the students in a mood to do anything.
On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I gave them the briefing for the demonstration. On Saturday, we put a placard at the school gates saying: “Notice – no Security Branch allowed. Enter at risk of your skin.” Now the press put that up again as another protest against the Afrikaans issue. On Sunday there was a SASM meeting of all the students in Soweto. I went to the meeting and got a few chaps from the other schools to help me, and we decide to mobilize all the high schools and junior secondary schools. We did that on Monday and Tuesday, and then on Wednesday we went on the streets demonstrating. We were very peaceful all the time and there were just placards denouncing Afrikaans as another method of oppression. The idea was coverage on this junior secondary school, and there, myself and a number of other students had drawn up a memorandum to the effect that we Soweto students totally rejected Afrikaans as a medium of instruction and we were not going back until this was scrapped. We were converged already, and I still trying to tell, the students to settle downs so that we could address them properly, when the cops started shooting.


Q. How many students were involved on June 16?

A. The press put it at 10 000. I am not very good at estimating how many people were there, but I have seen what 10 000 people are. And if I was to compare that demonstration with others, I we had the biggest crowd on June 16. I think nearly all the students in central, north, east, and west Soweto were involved. Only the South was not involved.


Q. How were the workers strikes organized after the student protests?

A. After June 16 we realized that there were too many killings, we tried to get a method whereby we could hit the system, and reduce the casualties. As we did not have guns, our only weapon was to cripple the economy of the country, lies in Black hands. So the idea was to stop workers going to work. So we sent work to the parents, the workers. We requested that from such and such a date to such and such a date nobody should go to work. And that is how the workers came into it. They pledged solidarity with the student and stayed at home. We distributed pamphlets, and students were circulating them, that is how there organized. All the time they wanted to be involved in the struggle, but there was no concrete organization which could announce “Don’t go to work could work” could only be done through students.


Q. Are Black workers being organized on a large scale?

A. Yes I have seen of the underground work.

Q. The clash between some of the hostel workers and the other residents of Soweto what caused that?

A. Now, in the course of the struggle since the Black Consciousness Movement was established and even since Mandela time, the hostel dwellers were always overlooked as a sector of the community. Not much consciousness raising was done, so the system went to these people and told them to kill Black leaders. They gave them pictures of Black leaders, mine was included. They gave them numbers of houses to burn belonging to Black leaders. So, we knew about this, but we were not in a position to do anything. It was confirmed that the system had mobilized all the hostels and fortunate enough some of the hostels did not participate. Only one hostel did participate in the murder of Black people. Immediately afterwards, the Black community reorganized itself to pick the people who did not want to pledge themselves in solidarity with the Black students. But the hostel dwellers became aware of the fact that the system was just using them and so they pledged solidarity with the students. Now they are hitting very hard against the system. The only thing which will happen is that it won’t be reported what the hostel dwellers are doing against the system. It will only be reported what they are doing against the students.


Q. What was the Students Representative Council?

A. The SRC was formed after June 16 when we were planning the second demonstration for the release of the detainees, requested each school to send two representatives. We did not want the thing to appear as if it was organized by SASM, otherwise SASM would be declared a restricted organization. By even so, all members of SASM were detained and I’m the only one left of the national and regional executive councils.


Q. Have all the leaders of SASO and the Black People’s Convention been detained?

A. Yes, all of them. The SASO general student council was from July 5 to July 9. The national president was elected after the riots, was then detained in connection with the riots. Before the demonstrations Mongezi Stofile was an ordinary student, but after he was elected national president he was detained in connection with the riots.


Q. Do you have any connection with the ANC OR PAC?

A. I will tell you something. The ANC and PAC played their part in the South Africa struggle in the 1950s and 1960s. Right now there are ex-members of the ANC in the whole of South Africa. But they are not politically active, that is, have a concept of perpetuating the activity of the ANC or PAC political ideology. As far as the students in South Africa are concerned, the ANC and PAC are extinct internally. Externally we are aware they exist. Internally they are doing no work. There may be some underground work they are doing which we are not aware of, but as far as the struggle is concerned they are not doing anything.


Q. Do you think there is a different political outlook between the old movements, the ANC and PAC, and the Black Consciousness Movement?

A. Yes there is. There were a number of clashes between ANC and BCM leaders, because the ANC leaders did not want to recognise the BCM as a liberation movement.

Q. Why didn’t they want to recognise the BCM?

A. They did not want to understand why BCM was formed when ANC was the liberation movement. But ANC was banned inside the country, so a new liberation front had to come.


Q. Can you say something more about the BCM, its origins and links with similar movements elsewhere?

A. The BCM was formed in 1968. There were student councils in Natal, Orange Freestate, all over South Africa. They came together and formed SASO – that’s the mother body of SASM. SASO and SASM belong to the students, SASO at the university level and SASM at high school to lower primary level. Then there is the Black People’s Convention (BPC) with the Black community, the Black Allied Workers Union with the workers and the Union of Black Women federations which concerned themselves with different sectors of the community. Then ideology is the same: to make the Black man more conscious of the evil of the white man, elements of oppression, and so on. The ideology concerned is to peacefully bring about a change in the South African social aspect and to bring about total liberation of the Black man. The BCM, which is a very strong movement, gained momentum from 1972 until the death of Tiro, the person who established SASM in 1972 and was assassinated by a letter bomb in 1974 in Botswana. He was permanent organizer of SASM and was the first national president of SASM at the high school level. He was one of the Black leaders who died for the Black course.


Q. We have heard that the BCM is influenced by ideas from the American Black National Movement?

A. I am not sure. I myself have read very little material about the Black Power Movement in America. The students in South Africa do not identify Black Power the way it is identified in America. I don’t even know how it is identified in America. I believe that Black Power is the realization of the people of oppression. Immediately they realize they are oppressed they regroup themselves to fight against the system. As long as there is a Black person oppressed in South Africa, there will be Black movements which will result in the concept of Black Power – the eruption of the Black masses. Black Power is every Black person in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Q. To what extent have you involved sections of the Asians and Coloured populations?

A. The ideology of the BCM defines BLACKNESS as an attitude of mind, and not of the colour of the skin. So it makes provision for the Coloured and Indian population to be involved in the BCM. The Black man is any member of the South African community. The difference between the Coloureds, Indians and Blacks is that Blacks are not referred to as Blacks but Africans. If you want to differentiate between the three groups, one is African one is Indian, and one Coloured. They are all referred to as Blacks.


Q. What have you read in South Africa? Are books and pamphlets smuggled in which give people an idea as to what happens in the rest of Africa?

A. There are a number of books which are smuggled into the country. A lot of people possess banned material. You just do not lend it to people to read because that is where the offence is, by giving it to people, by circulating it. So if you have banned material you keep it to yourself. If the system picks you up and you are in possession of banned material, that is another offence. The first banned book I read was the Immorality Act, which is a story written by a judge about a white man who was in love with a Black woman. The next was this book by Nelson Mandela, No Easy Walk to Freedom. There are quite a number of copies in South Africa. Mostly what is not banned are SASO and SASM newsletters, but they are banned after a month or two. Since June 16, everything that was Black was banned even before it was released.

Q. What about Marxist books? Books by Marx and Lenin?

A. Not even in the libraries. I only learned what it was when I was in Botswana in exile, that the concept of Marxism is based on “each according to his abilities, each according to his needs “. Then I realized that this was exactly what we were fighting for in South Africa. If you ask the people what type of government they would like to have, a person cannot articulate in those terms but a person can tell you that those people in Dube are rich and other people in White City eat cow dung and this is obscene. That a person gets R 40 and the other person gets R 140 for the same kind of job per month. If these things could be equal people would live better. In such parables people will tell you exactly what they want: and when you come to analyse it all, they want Marxism. They have been oppressed and suppressed for so long they only want to leave in an equal society.


Q. How did developments in Mozambique and Angola affect the Blacks in South Africa?

A. It brought political awareness of the potential Black people carried in their hands. SASO tried to have a rally sometime before the independence of Mozambique and that rally was banned. Now, I was a political infant, and the question arose in my mind why was this rally banned? You turned to like everything the regime hates. They don’t like anything to do with Frelimo; then you are for Frelimo. When they were fighting Cubans and Angolans in Angola, then we were for those people they don’t like. The fact that they don’t like communism makes you think what communism is, and “no, I think I want this.” They are not aware that they are creating this type of thing. The system more or less made me what I am now because of their constant oppression. My character was built by the environment that I lived in. That is why I claim that I am not the only Tsietsi Mashinini – there are lots of other students who will become active because of what the system is doing to them.

Koketso “Tsietsi Mashinini” Poho

Q. Because of the level of repression since June 16, do you think that the South African regime will be able to crush this movement?

A. I think they will ban the BCM and claim that they are behind all this. But a new liberation front will come up. They are going to drive the people underground, because the people are going to be afraid to act the way the BCM has done. A lot of underground work is going to be done without the knowledge of the system. They will only see various acts of underground work, but they won’t know who is responsible. The system itself has created so many enemies. There were people who sympathized with the BCM, but did not want to have anything to do with politics for fear of detention. The system was raiding almost fifty homes a night after June 16, looking for that person or this person. So many people were killed or detained. So many people have grudges against the system that they are prepared to do anything against the system anytime. So many mothers have lost their children. So many fathers have lost their children. So many husbands have lost their wives. That is because of the system.
In fact, I would say that the system has done more to heighten consciousness than SASO, SASM, and BPC have managed in their history.

Q. Do you see the struggle continuing for ten years?

A. Ten years? Five!

Q. You don’t see the present as a short outburst?

A. I see the downfall of the system in five years.

Q. Do you think that it is possible for the regime to do what it did after Sharpeville and crush the movement?

A. They cannot. If they want to stop Black Power they have to put every Black person in detention. Because as long as there are Black people outside, the struggle will go on.

Q. Do you think it will be possible to organize a powerful, political organization underground in South Africa that could lead a struggle for power by the Blacks?

A. I think there is already a strong, underground liberation movement, the BPC.

Q. Not people from the ANC or PAC?

A. I understand that the ANC has its own underground liberation movement. But there cannot be one underground liberation movement. Because say fifty people are active in this liberation movement, these people cannot come out in public to say, “We are doing this.” So they are acting on their own. Their results will cause people to say, “Such and such has happened. Let’s try do it in such a way.” So there are going to be a lot of underground movements. And I see them as the people who, in fact, are going to start the revolution in South Africa. That is if the people in exile don’t start anything before them.


Q. What do you think of the Kissinger talks with Vorster?

A. We are aware of the role of Kissinger with his peace talks. The peace talks mean that Kissinger is representing the Western world in South Africa. The Western world has economic interests in South Africa. The Black masses are revolting against the racist regime. Kissinger has got to establish peace in South Africa such that their interests are not tampered with. The Black student is just beginning to realise his fight is not just against the racist regime, but that the racist regime has got its power resources in the whole of the Western world. And that is why they are rejecting people like Kissinger and so on.

Q. What attitude do you think the neighboring states should take towards the South African struggles?

A. If they could make military aid available to the South African struggle it would contribute a lot because that is the only language the people want to understand now. Armed struggle against the racist regime, that’s the only thing they see as possible to bring us total freedom. If you could look into the history of the struggle, you could see that all other means have been exhausted. The only thing left is armed struggle against the racist regime. When we protest in demonstrations, we are mad because we don’t have guns. When we try to negotiate, it is always said the government is still considering for indefinite period. And if anybody comes into leadership, they are detained for indefinite period. The racist regime created so many draconian laws to prove itself against the Blacks that if you obey the South African laws there would be political movement in South Africa.

Q. What about the credibility of Buthelezi and other chiefs?

A. They have much support from the hostel dwellers and people from their vicinities. But the Black students and Black parents in urban areas, where much of the Black population is, totally reject Homeland leaders because they are aware of the issue of Homelands and what it means.

Q. What do you think of the Bantustans?

A. Bantustans are supposed to be independent, but they cannot be independent when they are dependent on the racist regime. If the Bantustans have their own parliament, prime ministers and legislative assembly, the final word will always come from Pretoria. Whatever they want to do on a Homeland scale, the final word always comes from Pretoria.The Black people do not recognise any leader who is working within the system to try and bring about a change. All leaders of the government platform only speak that far and not further. Immediately they go over their limit, they are just sacked from their position. Homeland leaders and some new people are brought in. Pretoria is creating all the puppets – a dozen a day – because they are aware the political role these people could play to try and suppress the protests of the people. Now we do not recognise them, especially the students, who constitute a very powerful liberation front. As long as the students do not recognise the Homeland leaders, urban Bantu councilors, and so on, everybody within the government framework. Their independence shall be recognized by the regime only, not by the people.

Q. What message will you have for the people in Britain, France or the USA to help the struggle?

A. For one, by not recognizing the coming independence of Transkei which is just a political swindle as far as I am concerned, between Blacks and whites in South Africa. The people must understand that the racist regime is dependant entirely on Britain and other countries for arms and so on. And if they don’t support the racist regime it is entirely their duty to end to make sure that Britain cuts all ties with South Africa.


1. Afrikaans is the Dutch based language of the Boer section of the white population.
2. Migrant workers in the urban areas generally housed in barracks like hostels so as to isolate them
from the rest of the population.
3. Nelson Mandela a central leader of the African National Congress in the 1950s and early 1960s. He
is now serving a life sentence on Robben Island.
4. African national Congress and Pan Africanist Congress.
5. South Africa’s Black population is composed of 17.8 million Africans, 2.3 million Coloureds,
710 000 Indians. The Indians were originally brought to South Africa as indentured workers,
and the Coloured are descendents of the early White Settlers. Indians, Malay slaves, KhoiKhoi,
San, and other African people.
6. Frente de Libertcao de Mocabique (Mozambique Liberation Front).

June 5, 2017

Vito Laterza on white people

Filed under: 2002 - western4.33,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 7:11 pm


May 25, 2017

Spectres Are Haunting Europe

Filed under: film,politics — ABRAXAS @ 1:19 pm


May 20, 2017

Everybody Dies!

Filed under: film as subversive art,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 11:12 am


May 3, 2017



“The modern proletarian class does not carry out its struggle according to a plan set out in some book or theory; the modern workers’ struggle is a part of history, a part of social progress, and in the middle of history, in the middle of progress, in the middle of the fight, we learn how we must fight… That’s exactly what is laudable about it, that’s exactly why this colossal piece of culture, within the modern workers’ movement, is epoch-defining: that the great masses of the working people first forge from their own consciousness, from their own belief, and even from their own understanding the weapons of their own liberation.” – Rosa Luxembourg

This essay explores the principles and ideologies embedded in the Fallism or the Fallist Movement in relationship to the discourse on transformation in South Africa. It examines how the continuities between apartheid and post\neo-apartheid realities shape the political consciousness, ideological perspectives and activism of the Fallism generation. From this basis the essay explains the emergence of Fallism in South Africa through the logic and notion of historical experiences- historical consciousness, material conditions – social consciousness, structure – agency nexus. The essay further examines the interplay between spontaneity and organization in the context of Fallism, applying Rosa Luxemburg’s notion of the Dialectics of Spontaneity and Organization. It concludes by enlisting Walter Benjamin’s theory of Traditions of the Oppressed to argue that Fallism represents both continuity and discontinuity of the traditions of the historic liberation movements and emergent Social Movements in South Africa.

Journalist Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya asserts that the name Fallism is derived from the fact that the common thread in the campaigns and movements concerned is the call or demand that something or someone must fall. This essay concentrates on the Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall, with some reference to Outsourcing Must Fall Movements. The decision to focus on these ‘movements’ is influenced by the explicit interconnectness of the issues they deal with. The three movements\campaigns operate within a shared ‘socio-geographic’ community and site of struggle (Higher Education\ Campus) and all deal with issues directly and indirectly related to conditions and sense of alienation & de-humanization, marginalization & exclusion, discrimination & exploitation in a space in which the protagonists are subjected to a peripheral and subaltern existence. These sections of Fallism also have a shared opposition to neoliberal capitalist exploitation and ‘new imperialism’ and a devotion to the theme of de-commodification, de-coloniality, intersectionality, solidarity and anti-sectarianism in their struggles.

The Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall Movements are particularly overt in their non-partisan\ non-alignment stance in relation to political parties and social movements and in their declaration of their unifying philosophical and ideological frame of reference as Black Consciousness, Pan Africanism, Black Feminism and Queer politics. The campaign for the resignation of President JG Zuma pursued under the slogan ‘Zuma Must Fall’ is not included in this essay particularly because of its lack of the attributes shared by these three segments of Fallism. While the campaigns\movements that are the focus of this essay continue to exist as Rhodes Must Fall, Fees Must Fall and Outsourcing Must Fall, the Zuma Must Fall initiative seem to have found its home, expression, platform and movement in Save South Africa. In their intellectual\ ideological\political homilies, speechifying, and symbolisms the three ‘movements’ are explicit that the issues they raise are a mobilization platform and point of entry in their struggle against racism, classism, sexism, patriarchy, neoliberalism and new imperialism, and their struggle for de-commodification of labor and education, and for de-colonialisation at all levels of society and the state.

Implicit in their discourse is a critique of the kind of South Africa they don’t want and general articulation of the kind of Azania they dream of or at least the principles around which it should be constructed. One cannot say the same of the campaign for Jacob Zuma to step down as the president of South Africa. Beyond its key theme of protection of constitutionalism and the rule of law, it does not project any unifying philosophical and ideological worldview and vision of the social system it envisages. In his emphasis of the need for people struggling against injustice to start imagining how they will live afterwards, Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya raises the concern that he has never heard what those behind the Zuma Must Fall initiative think must happen thereafter. It is for the reasons outlined here, that the Zuma Must Fall is not included in this appraisal of the Fallist Movements. Thus, for the purpose of this essay Fallism shall refer to movements who use the strategy of focusing on one key symbol, issue or figure as a rallying and mobilizing point to advance an ideological and political program directed towards the fall of structures of oppression, exploitation, discrimination, disenfranchisement, exclusion, powerlessness, based on race, class, gender and other forms of social exclusion.

Rhodes Must Fall: Engaging the colonial legacy and the continuities of racial-capitalism in post\neo-apartheid SA

“We need history, but our need for it differs from that of the jaded idlers in the garden of knowledge.”- Nietzsche, On the Advantages and Disadvantages of History for Life

On March 9, 2015 students at University of Cape Town rose up in a protest against a statue at the University of Cape Town (UCT) that commemorates Cecil Rhodes. The protest movement grew bigger to focus on the wider issues represented by the alienating presence of the arch-imperialist’s statue at the university. The character of the movement is aptly captured by the UCT chapter’s definition of itself as “a collective movement of students and staff members mobilizing for direct action against the reality of institutional racism at the University of Cape Town.” The statue of Cecil John Rhodes was ultimately removed on 9 April 2015, following a vote of the UCT Council on 8 April 2015 but the RMF lives beyond the fall of the statue and has culminated into a wider movement to “decolonize” education across South Africa. The Rhodes Must Fall (RMF emerged as an expression of the discontent and rage of Black students and Black staff at University of Cape Town (UCT) in response to the alienating colonial architecture, euro-centric culture of the university and a fee structure that is completely hostile and unsympathetic to the realities and experiences of Black people. The collective experience of racial profiling, financial and academic exclusion and general alienation in a high education institution with Euro-centric ethos found motif in the struggle against the symbolic representation of the colonial legacy, i.e the statue of the arch-colonial racist – Cecil John Rhodes. However the issues that mobilized the movement are deeper and bigger that a protest against the statue. At the core of these issues is the history of the universities’ indifference to Black students feeling of being alienated by its euro-centric education practices and lilly-white culture, its downplaying of the students’ struggle with exorbitant fees and its apathetic response to incidents of rape and violence against women on campus. It is not a wonder that students in other universities immediately connected to the issues raised by the campaign that initially started at UCT and that within a short space of time Rhodes Must Fall became a movement, with participation by university students across the country. Raeesa Pather observes response from some UCT students to the Rhodes Must Fall movement has revealed the day-to-day racism that slips under the campus radar. The students she interviewed shared stories and experiences of white students referring to RMF students as “monkeys” and “kaffirs” or “savages” who “destroy everything they touch” on social media; and of black staff and students frequently reduced to tears by the racism they encounter from their peers. Recognition of the relationship between the valorization and denigration of the black body, the sexualization and objectification of the female body, the vulgarization and censure of the queer body and the commodification and exploitation of the body of the worker, and the ridicule and belittling of disabled bodies, led the activists of Rhodes Must Fall and later Fees Must Fall and Outsourcing Must Fall to intersectionality.

The practical reality of the connection between the social structures that oppress, exploits, de-humanizes and discriminates against Black people, women, the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender and Intersex (GLBTI) community, workers and disabled people raised awareness of the interconnection between racism, capitalism, patriarchy, homophobia, ableism etc. Black students’ reflections on and awareness of the broader social, political, economic and cultural environment that shape their marginal and peripheral existence at the lilly-white institution made them to ponder on the continuities between pre and post-1994 South Africa. Ironically, it is precisely the fact that a significant number of the current generation of students falls under the category of youths born after 1994 that raised their keen awareness of the continuities between the social and power relations under in the settler-colonial and racial-capitalist set-up and in the post\neo-colonial and liberal –capitalist dispensation. The Black students realization of the systemic, structural and institutional nature of these continuities made them recognize that the contrast between the born-free label given to them and their conditions and feeling of being un-free in the higher education and broader social environment is the result of the untransformed nature of the education system and the social system within which the education system functions.

True to the Marxian notion of the nexus between material realities and social conditions and historical and social consciousness, the harsh material reality of being the other in a university with a history of being a white university in a colonial town raised the Black students’ social and historical consciousness. On the other hand, the material and social reality of being beneficiaries of privilege accrued from social stratification based on race, class and gender made a sizable number of conscientious white students and academics find common cause with Black students in their struggle against neo-colonialism, while a significant number of white students and academics held on to the comforts and privilege and saw the Rhodes Must Fall Movement as an unnecessary disruption. The racist mindset of some of the White academics is reflected by an academic at one historically white university who rebuffed the concern that the dominance of texts by White Anglo-Saxon writers in books prescribed in the English literature department alienated Black students as simply a matter of Black students being lazy.

The students’ recognition of the complementarity between the education system and the socio-political-economic system is reflected in their deliberate adoption of Black Consciousness, Pan Africanism, Queer Politics and Black Feminism as their philosophical and ideological frame of reference and their articulation of the intersection between race, class and gender. This finds resonant expression in the assertion by Kealeboga Ramaru, a student in RMF student that: “When we say ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ we mean that patriarchy must fall, that white supremacy must fall, that all systematic oppression based on any power relations of difference must be destroyed at all costs”.

After the fall of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes the students continued to operate under the name Rhodes Must Fall, interpreting the name as symbolizing the fall of systematic oppression accrued from colonialism. The students’ observations that the two decades of transformation being the catchphrase at the centre of government policies and public discourse have brought no meaningful change realized that social, political, economic and educational structures are made un-transformable by the colonial and neo-colonial base, foundation, parameters, conventions and protocols upon which they are rooted. Therefore students moved away from a simple call for transformation to a call for the de-colonialisation of universities to create a campus environment, university culture and education practices that embracing rather than alienating of the reality of being black and female and working-class in the world.

This necessitates institutional codes and practices, epistemology and pedagogy rooted in the historical-material realities of South Africa instead of jettisoning and rebuffing the historical, cultural, social and political realities of South Africa and Africa. Thus, the immediate practical program of the movement constituted of three major practical demands \proposals, that is, (1)the university must hire more Black academics, (2) the university must stop outsourcing workers, and (3) the university must develop an Afro-centric curriculum. These demands are centered on the theme of de-coloniality but also express the idea of Black Solidarity and the principle of Black-Worker Students Solidarity which reflect the students’ awareness that their education issues are inseparable from broader societal issues and the specific experiences of the broader Black community and the working-class. In as far as organizational form and organizational culture is concerned Rhodes Must Fall from the inception asserted the principles students’ self-organization around common issues and collective activity involving all students organizations and students from various social and political backgrounds, without affiliation to a specific political party and without a rigid organizational structure or hierarchy. While committing to stay student-centric and non-partisan, the movement accepts support and advice of elders and activists from organized civil society, labor, social and political movements.

The organized student formations affiliated to political parties like Pan African Students Movement, EFF students and South African Students Congress (SASCO) are active in the movement. This raises concerns and challenges of struggles and contestations for political hegemony of the movement among the different political and ideological currents. This is also complicated by the diversity of the entire student body. The movement seeks to mediate this diversity through intersectional politics that are inclusive of all its members. The movement has therefore positioned itself as a place of all people in agreement with the themes and objectives of de-coloniality and intersectionality, including white people. However, the movement is clear and uncompromising that de-colonialisation of higher education institutions shall be led by Black students. The perception that universities like Rhodes and UCT are colonial fortresses also influences the students’ confrontational and non-trusting attitude towards university administration.

This attitude was expressed well by Kealeboga Ramuru’s on the occasion of the falling of the statue Cecil John Rhodes:

“We must at no point forget that management is our colonial administrators, and their removal of the statue is merely an attempt to placate us and be perceived as sympathetic….Our freedom cannot be given to us – we must take it.”

The movement is equally unapologetic choice of confrontational and transgressive methods and tactics. It offended the liberal sensitivities of many people with its defense of Chumani Maxwele’s poo protest , its exclusion of white students from certain for a and its defense of PASMA’s chanting of the “One settler, one bullet” slogan at the movements gatherings at UCT. Members of the Rhodes Must Fall defense of the slogan are that the slogan is a rallying call to protest and tackle colonialism at the universities.

Fees Must Fall & Outsourcing Must Fall: The Dialectics of Spontaneity and Organization

The principles of de-commodification, de-coloniality and intersectionality born out of Rhodes Must Fall were later adopted and updated by the Fees Must Fall Movement which emerged in mid-October 2015. The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation’s research-study report titled ‘#Hashtag: An analysis of the Fees Must Fall Movement at South African Universities’, found that the issues of decolonization and transformation were central themes promoted by those involved in the protests. This confirms the link between the philosophical and ideological framework of RMF and FMF as informed by the commonness of their political terrain and the practical realities that brought them into existence. Fees Must Fall began in mid-October 2015 in response to an increase in fees at South African universities. The students soon found common course with the workers at the university who are subjected to precarious labor in the form of casualization and outsourcing. The protests started at the University of Witwatersrand and spread to the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University. The protests received sympathy from various sections of South African society and elicited international solidarity. A Cape Town daily newspaper, The Cape Argus, invited student co-editors to edit the day’s edition of the newspaper. Articles were written, commissioned and edited by the students involved in FMF. On 23 October 2015, a group of around 200 students gathered at Trafalgar Square the United Kingdom in front of South Africa House to show support of protesting students in South Africa. On the morning of the same day university vice chancellors and student representatives met with President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria to negotiate a way forward. Whilst they were meeting, a large group of protesting students assembled outside the Union Buildings to await Zuma’s response. A small group turned violent, setting fire to a portable toilet and breaking down fences. The police responded with tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets. Another group of students called for restraint and discipline, stressing it was a peaceful protest. Later in the day, after about 3pm, President Zuma announced from within the Union Buildings that there would be no increase in university fees in 2015.

The announcement was welcomed by the students as a victory and brought a stop to the Fees Must Fall protests. The 2015 protests led to the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training. In 2016 the students resumed the protests in response to the announcement by the Minister of Higher Education of fee increases capped at 8% for 2017, with each institution given the freedom to decide by how much their tuition would increase. The 2016 protests saw the movement lose momentum, due to alleged sabotage by the Progressive Youth Alliance – which is aligned to the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and internal divisions. The alleged infiltration by PYA and the apparent difficulty experienced by Fees Must Fall Movement to deal with the tensions emanating out of contesting political and sectional interests and the relatively ad hoc nature of its programs have raised issues about the weaknesses of Fallism, particularly is spontaneous character and apparent aversion to conventional organizational arrangements.

An extensive research on the strengths and weaknesses, victories and successes Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall movements is required for a more objective appraisal of Fallism. A brief examination of these strength’s and weakness will suffice for this essay. In the main the key strength of Fallism is its insistence of non-partisan student-centered action, Black student leadership, student-worker-community solidarity and intersectionality. This helps to reignite the unity-in-action coalition-building, movement-building traditions of the 70s and 80s that facilitated for civic, labor, political and community organizations and people of all social backgrounds to work together against apartheid. The respect for diversity and plurality and keen awareness of the plight of excluded and discriminated sectors of society made RMF and FMF a place where the gender and sexuality issues and the feminist and queer voices found a platform more than ever before in the history of student struggles. Included in the strengths is the ability to elicit international solidarity, as was the case with the liberation movement in its struggle against apartheid-capitalism. Within a short period of time the call for de-colonizing universities had crossed the borders of South Africa, with progressives at Oxford University up in campaigns for the removal of the statue of Rhodes on their campus just after the protests have spread throughout South Africa. The brought public focuses – locally and globally – to concerns that have been there but waiting for vociferous articulation and vigorous action. The most important of these concerns is the reversals and replacement of multi-culturalism and sensitivity to the distinct needs and demands of historically oppressed and marginalised communities by rising fascism, market fundamentalism and empire politics. This particularly relate to the rampant “institutional racism” in the world and more insidious and crude in South Africa. Amit Chaudhuri’s definition of institutional racism as the resurrection of the colonial order, which was by no means managed exclusively by racist individuals, but by people who believed that a skewed system was normal is more relevant in the South African situation. The Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall movement amplified and exposed this conception of institutional or systemic or structural racism with exposure of how some of the institutions that pride themselves of centers of progressive liberal, social democratic and leftist traditions were reeking with racist attitudes and practices.

The movement forced the state and society to explore for underlying reasons behind question such as: why are there so few black professors in South Africa? Why are there so few Black African South African post-graduates at South African institutions? Why do Black students feel so alienated at universities and why are female students so unsafe at the universities? Why South African students have turned on their parents’ generation? Most importantly, the Fallist movements have helped South African’s to reflect on the extent to damages of overzealous obsession with reconciliation and nation-building without bold confrontation the structures that produces and entrench racism, classism, sexism and related forms of discrimination. It exposed the failures of the country to deal honestly and decisively with the issues of redress, restitution, restoration, reparation, redistribution and reconstruction as the sine quo non for genuine reconciliation and sustainable nation-building. It also highlighted the relationship between the dominant values within the institutions and broader society and the power and social relations that are shaped by skewed patterns of ownership and control of the economy. The immediate victories of these Fallist movements include:

• the fall of the statue of John Rhodes at UCT,
• the setting up of the commission,
• the government’s increase of the amount budgeted for higher education by R17-billion over 3 years,
• government’s commitment ton increase subsidies to universities by 10.9% a year,
• the increased the use of blended learning by South African universities to assist non-protesting students complete their courses,
• free education returned to the centre of policy debates in the country, with the then minister of Finance, Pravin Gordon pronouncing that on 25 August 2015 that that if corruption could be addressed, South Africa could afford to cover university fees for students from poor backgrounds,
• the theme of de-colonialization became more pronounced in the transformation discourse in South Africa
• the Outsourcing Must Fall campaign born out of the Fees Must Fall Movement put a spotlight on the plight of workers who are in precarious labour at universities and spread to other sectors in the economy where workers are subjected to precarious labor and unfavorable conditions of employment
• outsourcing Must Fall led to UCT announcing that hundreds of previously contracted will be insourced from July 2016
• at the University of Free State workers won a 100% pay rise as part of the in-sourcing agreement with management, with the Socialist Youth Movement (WASP’s youth wing) playing a leading role.

Another gain for the movement was the overwhelming support for its cause from civil society. The greatest weaknesses of the movement is the inability to keep the momentum of advocacy and activism for the overall de-colonialized for free and de-colonized education going beyond the protests in response to specific issues. After the fall of the statue the Rhodes Must Fall activities subsided and its voice in the public discourse faded somewhat. Similarly, the Fees Must Fall seems to be more active and vocal at the time of registration and protests against financial exclusion. Whatever work these organizations do in between the protests is not out there in the public domain. The loose character of the movement reduces its capacity to plan ahead for eventualities such as the arrests of its members and fight back. The lack of structure and codes of operation also reduces the capacity of the movement to defend its activities and independence in situations where established and resources organizations engage in acts aimed at deviating the agenda and program of the movement or hijacking it. The spontaneity of the movement’s its actions and its seeming aversion to organization and structure also denies it the ability to develop a protracted and sustained political program. It also means not all people who participate in its programs and activities are oriented or subscribe to its values such as non-discrimination and respect for diversity. This result to situations that it can’t effectively reign on those who act in contrast to its principles such as misogynist and homophobic elements who may be found in the student movement who may display these tendencies at the protests and rallies of the movement. The movements also seem to lack the capacity to protect its protests from infiltration and to reign on criminal elements and political agents deployed to take focus away from the essence and subject of their struggle. Some form of organizational structure with a leadership collective, foundational documents, program of action and code of practice would be helpful for the movement to avoid the situation whereby it is not in control of who can speak and act on its name and what the centre of authority is with regard to its activities and programs. A case in point is made of how, while the FMF insist on not having an organized leadership structure, the media ordained Nompendulo Mkatshwa the face of the 2015 Fees Must Fall, with t Destiny Magazine portraying her as the face of Fees Must Fall. Some people on twitter asked why the Magazine chose to portray Mkatshwa as the face of FMF ahead of Wits SRC president Shaeera Kalla who was effectively the one leading Mkatshwa and questioned not only why the magazine put a face to the movement but also why it specifically chose the picture in which Mkatshwa wore an ANC scarf. Destiny Magazine claimed that the magazine did ask Mkatshwa to wear a more “neutral” scarf, but she refused. It is difficult to dismiss the suggestion that Mkatshwa’s refusal to wear a more neutral scarf was a political decision and action aimed at providing mileage for SASCO and at showing that influence of the congress movement permeates everywhere in society. Similarly it is difficult not to find the decision of the media to refer to Mcebo Dlamini as the leader of the Fees Must Fall Movement as part of a ploy to impose a person from within the congress movement as the voice and face of Fees Must Fall. This imposition of Mkatshwa and Mcebo as the face and voice of FMF as well as the alleged hijack of the march that was meant to go to Luthuli House by PYA created tensions and division.

In the context of a loose movement it becomes more difficult to quell in a manner that does not polarize the movement. The divisions within student leadership somehow, weaken their case, throttle their fighting capacity and disarm them from engaging a protracted uninterrupted struggle for de-colonialisation. It makes it difficult for them to develop a common platform on which they can continuously engage in broader public discourse, bringing in their de-coloniality project to debates on economic freedom and related issues such as land redistribution and radical economic transformation. Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya articulates the problematic of focusing energies on immediate gains without reflecting on long-term institutional, policy, strategy and programmatic issues when he observes:

“I get the sense that most of the energy (of the Fallists) is spent on dealing with the present problem without adequately preparing for life after the problem has been solved, as if they do not believe their campaign will bear fruit……We only need to look to our recent past to see how struggles hinged on being opposed to something, but not necessarily pro another thing, end up.”

A Black Consciousness elder who works closely with the RMF mentions that the members of the movement say their rationale for not having a leadership structure is to avoid harassment. This reason is not plausible enough because whether a resistance to oppression and injustice takes a completely spontaneous nature, organized, unorganized or semi-organized forms, whether there is a leadership collective or not, the system will make attempts to crush it. The harassment of individuals is unavoidable, and so is infiltration and attempts to co-opt the movement of a section thereof. It is also important to note that the absence of a centrally coordinated program of action, the political education , mobilizing and activism initiatives become disjointed and open to capture by organizations or political forces that are dominant at a particular university. On the other hand the relatively loose and spontaneous character of the movement can be useful in protecting it from the hierarchical, authoritarian and dogmatic conventions that often stunts creativity and plurality of perspectives within traditional political parties and social movements. An awareness of the gaps and advantages in both spontaneity and organization could allow for a dynamic conversation between older activists who are schooled in the lore and tactics of organization and the younger generation with more inventive maneuvers and channels characteristic of current waves of popular uprisings. However the obstacle to this seems to be skepticism towards organization on the part of the Fallism and contempt for spontaneity on the part of the traditional left and radicals. While the Fallist movement seems to be overly sensitive of the shortfalls of organization and hierarchy\structure and overzealous in its faith in spontaneity, the old generation of activists seem to be overly dismissive of the potency of spontaneity and romantic of the uses of organization. This perception of a rigid dichotomy or separation between spontaneity and organization is not helpful. Perhaps the best way forward for the moment should be seeing spontaneity and organization as complimentary rather than incompatible.

This will allow for organic responses to immediate situations but also building organizational and leadership capacity and political and ideological development that allow the movement to make certain interventions that utilize the spontaneous actions to build capacity for sustained and protracted struggle. This approach is in line with Rosa Luxembourg argument that spontaneity and organization are not separable or separate activities, but different moments of one political process. Luxembourg defines “spontaneity” is a grass roots approach to organizing a party-oriented class struggle. Believing that spontaneity is the elementary moment from which the class struggle evolves to a higher level of organization, Luxembourg argued that one cannot exist without the other. She advocated that organization mediates spontaneity; and spontaneous struggles provide a momentum and environment for organization. This idea that organization must mediate spontaneous action becomes more important in the face current experiences of how the organic uprisings in the Middle-East and Northern Africa – so-called Arab Spring – either quickly dissipated or were captured by interests that had nothing to do with revolution precisely because of a lack on ideological agenda and political program. The manner in which the 2016 wave of Fees Must Fall protests were redirected by the PYA also highlights the need for organization to mediate spontaneity. On the other hand, the manner in which organizational arrangements and highly centralized hierarchical structures of authority and processes of decision-making are used in traditional political movements to put a squeeze on dissent and entrench gate-keeping and empire-building tendencies exemplifies the deficit of organization.

The many examples of how organizational traditions are sometimes at variance with current material realities and contemporary experiences of the people prove the theoretic correctness of Rosa Luxembourg’s proposition that organization should be informed by the daily struggles and immediate organic actions of the masses as they spontaneously engage with the issues facing them. A nuanced application of the Dialectic of Organization and Spontaneity, rooted to the dynamics of South Africa, could be useful for Fallism and conventional political, civic, social, community and labor organizations. It can enable them to explore and engage in a dynamic process of fusion of spontaneous action and anarchist traditions with organizations and deliberate planning. This would allow for spontaneous action to benefit from the insights and expertise of organization, and for organization to draw strength and build from the space and conditions created by spontaneous struggles.

Conclusions: Continuity and discontinuity of SA liberation struggle politics in Fallism

‘The continuum of history is the one of the oppressors. Whereas the idea [Vorstellung] of the continuum levels everything to the ground, the idea [Vorstellung] of the discontinuum is the foundation of real tradition.’ — Walter Benjamin

The Fallist anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles – and the language that developed out of the struggles – went beyond the class and gender perspectives of social and power relations. Fallism traced the roots of political oppression, economic exploitation and social denigration of Black people in South Africa to colonialism and imperialism.

Consequently it identified racism and white supremacism as the ideology employed in service of capitalism, colonialism and imperialism. Thus, Fallism re-ignited Pan Africanist, Black Consciousness and Black Feminist traditions and re-located the perspectives Du Bois, Garvey, Cessaire, Sengor and Lumumba; Nkrumah, Sobukwe; Cabral, Malcolm X, Kwame Toure (Stockely Carmichael) Biko, Sankara, , Ivan Van Sertima, Assata Shakur, Bella Hooks at the centre of current struggles and contemporary policy debates on transformation academia and broader society.

It also heightened students and youths students’ interest in and interaction with current Pan Africana philosophies and Black intellectual traditions such as the Afro-centricity of Molefi Kete Asante and Afro-Pessimism of Frank Wiltherson. Consequently, Fallism motivated students, youths and workers to fuse the language, culture and images of the liberation movement traditions and with contemporary modes and new chic & cheeky avenues and idiomatic expression of struggle. In so doing, Fallism simultaneously reclaims and appraises the traditions of struggle and messes up, unsettles, disrupts and discontinues these traditions to create forms of politics and activism that speaks to the turbulence and hurly-burly of the time\s and place\s and spaces they find themselves in. It plays James Brown’s “Shout it aloud: “I am Black & Proud!” and the BCM’s “Black is Beautiful” at high voltage to express the hope and ideal of Blackness freed of White Supremacism and Black inferiority\docility complex. At the same time it irrepressibly screams that “Blackness is an excrement of Whiteness” , “Blackness is death” in recognition of the wretchedness of Black bodies and desolation in an extremely anti-Black world where Blackness is not a mere cultural identity, but a position of accumulation and fungibility (Saidiya Hartman)….a condition—or relation—of ontological death.

To a mind that is longing and romantic about the past ways activism and the struggle at the expense of being cynical of everything in new ones, Fallism urinates on the graves of heroes. To a mind that is puffed-up and quixotic about the present modes of activism and forms of struggle at the price of making modernity, avant-gardism or newness the creator of everything, Fallism is the all-mighty new and fresh beginning. What we are referring to here are two extreme paradigms of engaging with a ‘new’ movement\moment like Fallism. On one extreme is the viewpoint of projecting a particular moment\movement as a momentous, earth-shattering tumultuous big moment of complete rupture that disrupts and ends histories and traditions and begin a brand-new new history and creates spanking new traditions. The problem with the romantic view of any particular movement\moment in history as the new big thing or as the end and beginning of history is that it buries the histories and traditions of the oppressed in the name of creating a new philosophy and culture of liberation. It therefore presents history and philosophy, and tradition and progress as binary opposites. This gives the so-called new person the pomposity that makes him to strut around like he is the first person to see the world as it is. It therefore denies the new movement the wisdom that philosophy derives from history and the sensitivity and discernment that progress develops from tradition. This is typified by the tendency to think of concepts such as de-coloniality, intersectionality, and anti-sectarianism and confrontational and transgressive politics as new inventions of Fallism, rather than principles and practices born out of the concrete and tangible historical and material realities within whose womb the agency, activism and struggle of the Fallist generation is born. This framework prohibits the old generation connection and intimacy to the language and struggle of the new generation and to dismiss it as the folly of the young.

It also disallows the young generation the perception and insight to realize how their idiomatic and practical expression of struggle is indebted to the history and traditions of the struggle of the old. On the other extreme is the framework that ascribes everything to tradition and therefore see the new movements\moments as simply a continuance of the old. This framework perceives the concepts and practices of new movements as simply versions and extensions of the old and therefore jettisons anything that tends to significantly vary from old ways as an aberration; a deviation that should be seen as an abomination. Neither of these perspectives is useful. One perceives tradition as “a great retarding force,” and one sees modernity as a destabilizing force. One sees organization as a great hindrance and the other perceives spontaneous action as an inoperable circuit. But in reality tradition and modernity, history and philosophy, organised action and spontaneous action feed from one another and can’t exist without the other. There is a dialectic interaction between the students’ historical memory \ historical consciousness (of the slave rebellions, anti-colonial struggles and liberation wars, of the battle of Isandlwana, the June 16, 1976 uprising, etc) and their objective experiences of marginalization \exclusion\discrimination.

Fallism should be seen as continuing as well as discontinuing the traditions of the Congress Movement, the Pan Africanist and Black Consciousness Movements, the Social Movements that emerged in the 90s in response to capitalist globalization and neo-liberalism, and the Black Consciousness inspired counter-hegemony and counter-culture movements like the Blackwash and September National Imbizo that preceded the Rhodes Must Fall, Fees Must Fall and Outsourcing Must Fall movements. This kind of understanding will allow the older generation of activists and segments of the historic liberation movement to appreciate the new movements as building on the legacies and traditions of struggle of their predecessors and responding creatively to current realities- discarding, updating and replacing modes of resistance and protest with new forms of rebellion and activism. Leigh-Ann Naidoo captured this well in her ‘Open Letter to Barney Pityana on the Rhodes Must Fall Movement’ in which she inter alia beseeched:

“If you would show solidarity and engage from the vantage point of being willing to listen and learn rather than knowing better than them, then you would be able to start seeing the amazingness of these young students – mostly undergraduates and honours students. They don’t have all the answers as they grapple with competing oppressions and urgent issues. They are working with concepts like ‘intersectionality’ that bring in to focus the multiple oppressions that occur in addition to the race/class lenses of the past. The movement and its public or popular education programme has created a space that has allowed for people with varying privileges and their corresponding blind spots, to be part of the conversation. This is radical dialogue, which I believe formed part of the legacy with which BC has left us……Biko and you would be impressed by the Black female voices and black transsexual voices in the conversation.

But you don’t have access to any of this because you choose to stand outside of the movement and last we heard from you, you were challenging Prof Pumla Gqola, who has been writing and thinking about radical BC, because you believed somehow that the idea of removing the statue was not well or deep enough thought through. Pumla has come to speak and listen at Azania House, why haven’t you? Is it perhaps because it may make your boardroom meetings with the powerful untenable? Or is it that you have been contorted by privilege and comfort? I am asking because I truly don’t know and would like to understand how so many of the people who fought and sacrificed to fight Apartheid and all its oppressions can stand by silently now and ignore the fact that while things have changed, a lot has morphed into something worse. Poverty and inequality under the ANC’s watch is getting worse, and there has been a rampant entrenchment of white privilege, even under a black government.”

Leigh-Ann Naidoo was essentially appealing for Pityana to see his SASO\BPC activist self in the young activists of Rhodes Must Fall and hear the voice of chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi’s protest against his (Pityana) radicalism of the 70s in his (Pitaya’s) critique of the confrontational and transgressive politics of the Fallists. Indeed the history of the liberation struggle in Azania is the history of the disruption of tradition to create or reclaim a tradition or rather the history of discontinuity and continuity. The South African Native Congress of 1912 disrupted the tradition of resistance to colonialism and imperialist invasions along tribal lines and introduced the mobilization of African people around African Nationalism. Under the new name of the African National Congress (ANC) and within the framework of the Freedom Charter it interrupted African Nationalism with its adoption of multi-racialism and non-racialism. The Pan Africanist Congress contested the multi\ non-racialism framework with its notion of the oneness of the human race and the centrality of the African experience and African people in the struggle against colonialism. The Black Consciousness Movement updated the PAC’s scientific explanation of race as a social construct and a function of the politics and the economy with the Anti-racism position and an explicit broad definition of Black to include all ‘people of colour.’ The ANC Youth League the ANC generation of the 50s and the Pan Africanist Congress respectively disrupted the old ANC tradition of petitions and deputation to international institutions and took the struggle into the realm of mass action with the 1949 Program of Action, the Defiance Campaigns and the Anti-Dompass demonstrations. The Poqo operations went beyond peaceful protest to armed resistance. The 1970s generation fueled by the fire of Black Consciousness moved beyond the traditions of protest to and resistance and rebellion and the 80s generation took the rebellion to the level of rendering apartheid South Africa ungovernable with peaceful and violent acts of civil disobedience, popular uprisings and armed insurrections. As Walter Benjamin observes, history is not based on a progressive flow of “homogeneous, empty time” directed to the future but on a disruptive constellation of the present and the past. The impact of the legacy of the past and the lessons we gain from the exercise of discerning what of the past is use-worthy material and what is garbage material implies that the past is not simply gone. In other words, the past cannot be fully historicized.

The point is not whether or not the struggling oppressed maintains or disrupts traditions in their quest to develop the culture of liberation and to demolish the structures and traditions of oppression. The points is how best the struggling oppressed update and improve the most liberatory traditions of their past and how they frees themselves from the most oppressive traditions of the past. It is precisely by opening themselves to an interrogation and interruption by the new generation of activists and movements that old generations of activists and movements can be assured of a revolutionary continuation of the best of their practices and a revolutionary discontinuation of the worst of their practices. There is a dialectic and complimentary relationship between the optimism of “Shout it aloud: “I am Black & Proud”; “Black is beautiful” and the pessimism of “Black life is death”; “Blackness is the excrement of Whiteness”. Understanding this dialectic is not only the function of how ‘the struggling, oppressed class relates to its oppressed past’ in order to know what ‘past is constitutive or destitute of tradition’. It is also the function of identifying which aspects of the tradition are oppressive and which possess liberatory ethos.

Walter Benjamin asserts that ‘The history of the oppressed is a discontinuum.’ – ‘The task of history is to get hold of the tradition of the oppressed.”. The argument we have presented in this essay is that history constitutes both continuity and discontinuity and that the past carries both oppressive and liberatory memories and practices. Consequently our position is the task of the oppressed is more to identify which tradition is inherently or potentially oppressive and which is inherently or potentially liberatory. Therefore we conclude that the task of the Fallists and other new emerging movements is to combat and discontinue the oppressive aspects of social and political traditions and to reclaim, update, preserve, continue and expand the liberatory elements of social and political traditions.

Screen shot 2017-05-03 at 8.13.15 PM

(Mphutlane wa Bofelo is an anti-establishment underground poet\essayist and popular-education and worker-education facilitator currently based in Durban in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province of South Africa)

. This essay expands on the view expressed by wa Bofelo in the keynote address at the Mandela Bay Book Festival on 17 March 2017 on the subject of ‘Black Consciousness Poetry and the Fees Must Fall Movement’
Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya. 2016. Fallists need future view too. The Mercury. 9 April 2016
Azania is the name first adopted by the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania and later endorsed by the Black Consciousness Movement and leftist Socialist formations like the African Peoples Democratic Union of South Africa (APDUSA), New Unity Movement (NEUM) and Workers Organization for Socialist Action (WOSA) as the name of a liberated South Africa. The literal translation of Azania is the land of the Black people. Citing Runoko Rashidi and Ivan van Sertima (editors), African Presence in Early Asia, Tenth Anniversary Edition, Transaction Press: New Brunswick: 1995, Black Consciousness stalwart and Maoist theorist, advocate Imrann Moosa asserts that the etymology of Azania to the Zanj Rebellion( 869 – 883 A.D.). The Zanj rebellion constituted of a series of small revolts that eventually culminated into a large rebellion that saw the 500 000 slaves sacking Basrah and setting up their own state, advancing to within seventy (70) miles of Baghdad itself. The Zanj built a city in the marshes known as al-Moktara (the Elect City) that was almost impregnable due to its watery location, and they also built a fortified town, al-Mani’a. They even minted their own currency. The Zanj thus took over the Caliphate and maintained a marooned state for some fifteen (15) years.
Rhodes Must Fall. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodes_Must_Fall (Accessed 9 April 2017)
Raeesa Patel. Rhodes Must Fall: The Movement after the statue. The Daily Vox. Monday, April 24, 2017 http://www.thedailyvox.co.za/rhodes-must-fall-the-movement-after-the-statue/ (Accessed 19 April 2017

On 10 March 2015, UCT student Chumani Maxwele flung the human waste on the statue of Rhodes, calling for the monument to be taken down. This led to scores of protesting students drenching the statue of Cecil John Rhodes in human excrement.
Langa, M. (ed) 2016. # An Analysis of Fees Must Fall Movement in the universities of South Africa. Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation: Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Rhodes Must Fall. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodes_Must_Fall (Accessed 19 April 2017)
Amit Chaudhuri. 2016. The Real meaning of Rhodes Must Fall. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/mar/16/the-real-meaning-of-rhodes-must-fall (Accessed 20 April 2017)

Vhahangwele Nemakonde. Is Nompendulo the face of Fees Must Fall? http://citizen.co.za/news/news-national/868535/is-nompendulo-the-face-of-fees-must-fall/ (Accessed on 28 April 2017)
Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya. 2016. Fallists need future view too. The Mercury. 9 March 2016
Luxemburgism – Dialectic of Spontaneity and Organisation http://www.liquisearch.com/luxemburgism/dialectic_of_spontaneity_and_organisation (Accessed 20 April 2017)
Luxemburgism – Dialectic of Spontaneity and Organisation http://www.liquisearch.com/luxemburgism/dialectic_of_spontaneity_and_organisation (Accessed 20 April 2017)

Afro-pessimism http://incognegro.org/afro_pessimism.html (Accessed 21 April 2017 )
The Daily Maverick, 14th April 2015
Walter Benjamin cited by Sami Khatib. 2015. Walter Benjamin and the “Tradition of the Oppressed”. http://anthropologicalmaterialism.hypotheses.org/2128 (Accessed 21 April 2017)


April 19, 2017

Black Consciousness Movement Rallying For Land Occupation

Filed under: politics — ABRAXAS @ 9:12 pm

Date : 27th April 2017
Time: 10h:00am
Venue: Freedom Primary School

We have a serious problem with overcrowding in black townships as the demand for housing has increased. This has resulted in some of the communities like Freedom Park, Eldorado Park, Orlando, Motsoaledi, Kliptown any many more communities accommodating the influx by letting out backyard space, hence there is overcrowding.

We are calling on all the landless people who some of them live in backyards, shacks and hostels or paying rents in various landlords to attend a land occupation rally in Freedom Park at Freedom Primary School. We believe unity of all the landless people in mass action to occupy the land can force the stubborn arm of the state to release land to the Black Majority. We believe land occupation is the legitimate means to flee poverty and unemployment. If the landless majority acts together in unity to occupy all the lands then real freedom for the Black Majority will be achieved.


April 10, 2017

Sarah Slingers victimized by Via’s in Greyton land rights conflict

Filed under: Greyton 7233,politics — ABRAXAS @ 12:55 pm


April 7, 2017

Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh on Free Education

Filed under: politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 9:22 am

March 29, 2017

Stephanus Muller & Willemien Froneman – Crisis? what crisis?

Filed under: music,politics,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 2:19 pm


February 3, 2017

Krishnamurti on revolution

Filed under: politics — ABRAXAS @ 10:30 am

The activity of revolution is riddled with contradictions and so can never liberate.
Commentaries on Living

January 15, 2017

ANGELO FICK quoted from Metalepsis in Black

Filed under: 2016 - Metalepsis in Black,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 12:31 pm

Screen shot 2017-01-15 at 12.30.31 PM

December 27, 2016

Filed under: philosophy,politics,signs of the times — ABRAXAS @ 9:57 am


November 27, 2016

a kliye message

Filed under: politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 11:00 am


October 21, 2016

can whites decolonise?

Filed under: politics — ABRAXAS @ 5:07 pm


on the white saviour complex

Filed under: 2015 - Decolonising WITS,politics — ABRAXAS @ 4:34 pm


skill all whites – is it hate speech?

Filed under: politics — ABRAXAS @ 12:30 pm


Next Page »