VOTERS SHOULD SPEAK THROUGH THEIR VOTE
The violence, looting and destruction of property and infrastructure in Mahikeng last week were unfortunate. Like in the other Provinces, there is no doubt that there is poor service delivery and corruption in the North West. The people are justified to take to the streets and protest against corruption and lack of service delivery.
AZAPO cadres joined the protests with the objective of giving direction to the masses to not lose focus of the targets of the protest action, which were mainly poor service delivery and the call for Premier Supra Mahumapelo to step down. Public property should not have been objects upon which the residents vented their anger because those properties are at the service of the people.
AZAPO North West Provincial Chairperson Dr Thabo Bapela made it clear in the radio interviews that it would not advance the struggles of the people to burn public buildings like schools and clinics. He expressed disappointment at the insensitivity of the ruling ANC to the cries of the people by keeping and defending a Premier they know full well that he is to no good.
What has become clear is that the voter must wake up and punish corrupt politicians and political parties with the vote.
AZAPO condemns in the strongest terms possible the trigger-happy police that shot 17-year old Kitlano Leeuw with live ammunition as reported in the various news outlets. It became clear that the ruling party inherited the apartheid structures and attitude when the police shot with rubber bullets Anna who was weeping over the lifeless body of her son.
AZAPO wants to reiterate its demand for the scrap-ping of the provincial legislatures and provincial governments as they are mere expensive gatekeepers that unnecessarily prolong the service delivery chain. AZAPO will not rest until these redundant structures are abolished.
The abolishing of the Provincial Governments should go with the scrapping of the existing electoral system and its replacement with a more people-centred system that will allow voters to elect and recall public representatives at all levels.
When the voters in a municipality and/or the province are not satisfied with the level of service they receive from their directly elected public representative(s), the Municipal Electoral Officer (MEO) at local level or Provincial Electoral Officer (PEO) at provincial level and the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) at National level should facilitate the initiation of a Referendum to determine if the affected public representative (e.g. Councillor, Mayor, MPL or MP) should be recalled.
AZAPO will engage on a community outreach programme to obtain feedback on the modalities with regard to the implementation of the Referendum. The issues to consider are the frequency of the Referendum, the process to determine the threshold in a ward, municipality or national level for the initiation of that Referendum.
AZAPO believes that the recycling or redeployment of failed and corrupt Public Representative in the Municipalities, Provincial Legislature, National Council of Provinces and National Assembly reveals the uncaring attitude of the political parties to the development of our people.
The unfolding protests are a vindication of AZAPO’s long-held position that too many levels of governments and duplication of departments and functions do not add any value to the life of an ordinary citizen. The duplicated departments and functions are de-signed to create employment for the cadres of the ruling party and the relatives of the corrupt politicians. Unfortunately, this unnecessary duplication consumes human and financial resources that could have been deployed elsewhere to benefit ordinary citizens.
AZAPO IS THE TRUTH
This Saturday, April 28, the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO) will celebrate its 40th anniversary. AZAPO was formed in 1978, a year after the apartheid regime banned 18 Black Consciousness organisations, including the BC flagbearer of the time, the Black People’s Convention (BPC). AZAPO is the un-questionable heir of the legacy of BPC and SASO, the BCM pioneer organisation that was founded 50 years ago.
AZAPO remains a Liberation Movement. AZAPO’s historical mission – the liberation of Black people from any form of colonial rule; the restoration of land to Black people; the restoration of Black people’s dignity; the restoration of the economy back to the ownership and control of Black people and the end of all forms of political oppression, economic exploitation and social degradation – is still to be fulfilled.
AZAPO is continuing with the struggle waged by our forebears such as Hintsa, Makana, Cetshwayo, Dingane, Sekhukhune, Makhado and many others who did their best to try to resist the invasion of our Azania by European settlers. They lost the war and Black people were dispossessed of their land.
Some critics might ask why do we insist on calling AZAPO a Liberation Movement after April 27 1994. They may say that 1994 ushered in democracy and freedom. They are partly right. We now live in a Constitutional Democracy. We indeed have political freedom. But liberation is not just about the right of people to vote. Real freedom is economic. Real freedom is ownership of the land. As we speak, Black people still do not have their land back. Freedom without land back is not complete. Freedom without economic power is actually meaningless. Black people have become the powerless majority.
Amilcar Cabral teaches us that “national liberation takes place when, and only when, national productive forces are completely free of all kinds of foreign domination”. We know that our instruments to create wealth, and that wealth itself, is still largely owned and controlled by foreigners and white people.
On the other hand, political charlatans have questioned the relevance of AZAPO. They have asked if AZAPO can be a real alternative to the ruling party. Let us put the record straight. AZAPO can never be an alternative to any other party. AZAPO is the truth. There is no alternative to the truth. The truth is the truth.
In 1994 when everybody was trapped in the election euphoria, AZAPO warned that the 1994 project was not initiated by Black people, and that the white minority regime had concocted a sophisticated plan to give fake freedom to the Black majority by allowing them to have the vote but without the transfer of land and economic power to Black people. In essence, 1994 was a project that aborted the Azanian Revolution.
AZAPO was accused of being party-spoilers when we warned Black people not to participate in those sham elections of 1994 in that they would not deliver the real liberation that our people had been fighting for since the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck and his Dutch settlers way back in 1652.
AZAPO is the voice of Black people. AZAPO stands for self-determination. We believe that Black people are their own liberators. We are of the view that freedom is so sacred that it cannot be outsourced.
AZAPO is the custodian of Black Consciousness and Steve Biko. The weapon of BC asserts that Black people need to become their own liberators and chart their own destiny without any reference to other people.
WE NEED TO HONOUR BLACK LIFE
Imagine the following: Grown up men and women walk into a hospital ward. But this is not just any ward, it is a ward of infants, most of whom were born prematurely. These adults then forcefully evict nurses who were looking after these innocent yet vulnerable babies from the ward, insisting that nobody should be allowed to look after these infants. A scene from a horror movie, right? Not at all. This is what happened in a North West hospital when health workers went on a strike to demand better working conditions.
As a party that champions the interest of the Black working class, AZAPO supports workers in their struggle for better pay and better working conditions. However, the total disregard for human life, especially for such vulnerable babies cannot go unchallenged.
What kind of a parent threatens a life of an innocent baby? What justification does anyone has to embark on an action that will result in the death of a baby? The crude display of total disrespect of human life undermines the genuine struggle of the workers for better working conditions.
There is a revolutionary need for political activists to conduct self-introspection. When some protest actions are embarked on, some political elements derail the direction of these politically necessary activities. They therefore end up being destructive. They litter the streets; they vandalise shops; they loot anything that they can lay their hands on, including fruits and vegetables sold by the down-trodden elderly women who work as hawkers.
As AZAPO, we are of the view that some of our people have internalised the dehumanising tendencies that were meted out to them by the apartheid regime. Of-ten, the apartheid system treated Black people as sub-humans, and Black people developed an unconscious lack of respect for black life. That is why it is so easy for some among us to murder another Black person simply because we want her cellphone.
It has become common for people who refuse to join the strike or the proposed protest action to become victims of violence perpetrated by the strikers. Some have even been killed for refusing to join the strike.
Our call as AZAPO is that black people should embrace the values of the Black Consciousness philosophy. If they do that, they will love themselves and their people. They will develop such an undying love for each other that it would be unthinkable for any of them to want to threaten an innocent Black baby.
Unless our people embrace BC, we will continue to be a threat to ourselves and our babies.
BLACK WORKERS ARE ENTITLED TO A NATIONAL LIVING WAGE
South Africa is known to be amongst the top three most unequal countries in the world. It is a country characterised mostly by a high rate of poverty, inequality and unemployment. The main reasons for poverty and inequality are lack of access to resources such as land, education and employment opportunities.
Accordingly, and as an organisation of Black people, AZAPO joined the workers march organised by SAFTU on 25 April 2018 in the various Provinces. The workers march rejected the slave National Mini-mum Wage imposed by the ANC-led government.
Statistics South Africa’s Report on Poverty Trends in South Africa between 2006 and 2015 revealed an in-crease in poverty levels:
“When applying the upper-bound poverty line (R992 per person per month (pppm) in 2015 prices), we see that more than one out of every two South Africans were poor in 2015, with the poverty headcount increasing to 55,5% from a series low of 53,2% in 2011. This translates into over 30,4 million South Africans living in poverty in 2015.”
A disconcerting picture painted by this Report is the significant disparity in poverty levels between population groups and gender. Black females, children (17 years and younger), people from rural areas and those with no education are the victims in the on-going struggle against poverty. Without any exceptions, the people hard-hit by poverty are invariably Black people regardless of gender. While the proportion of other population groups is decreasing, Blacks people’s poverty gaps continue to increase above the national poverty gap based on the lower-bound poverty line (LBPL) in 2011 and 2015.
The national unemployment figure of over 26.7% (Quarterly Labour Report Survey, Quarter 4 of 2017) adds insult to the injury of poverty and inequality. This figure rises up to a shocking 36% when people who have given up on looking for employment opportunities are included. Youth unemployment rate of ages 25-34 sits at a staggering figure of 33.4%. An expanded unemployment rate in this category sits at 42.8%. This simply means young men and women aged between 25 and 34 years have given up on looking for work and are idling in the streets. This type of a situation can only contribute to a huge undesirable pool that has limitless potential in breeding all sorts of social ills.
It is disheartening to further note that of those who are employed, over 51% live on less than R1 036 per month. Sadly, it is the majority of these adversely affected people who have voted the government into power and continue to keep it there.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) makes provision in Article 3 of Minimum Wage Fixing Convention of 1970 Number 131, that the elements to be taken into consideration in determining the level of minimum wages shall include the needs of workers and their families, and economic factors.
AZAPO subscribes to and embraces the concept of National Minimum Wages as one of the tools to eliminate the scourges of poverty and inequality. However, AZAPO believes that any discussion on National Mini-mum Wage must take place within the context of the abject poverty, extreme inequalities and the high unemployment rate faced by the majority of Black families. Once AZAPO takes that line, our language changes from National Minimum Wage to the National Living Wage.
Current studies by independent market researchers and analysts demonstrate that the average pay of executives in all the JSE-listed companies is more than R1 093,00 per hour on the lower quartile and over R3 000.00 per hour on the upper quartile. This information is available in the Executive Directors: Practices and Remuneration Trends Report, PWC, 9th edition, July 2017, South Africa.
On the flipside, more than 50% of Azanian workers earn below R3 400.00 per month – an insult, humiliation and a day light exploitation of workers.
The Cabinet’s approval of the National Minimum Wage Bill heralds a blanket minimum payment structure of R11.00 per hour for employees of Extended Public Works Programmes; R15.00 per hour for domestic workers; R18 per hour for farmer workers and R20.00 per hour for other workers. For the latter category the wages translate into R3500.00 per month for a 40 hour working week.
There is little hope that a National Living Wage can ever be implemented by the ANC-led government that is responsible for the Marikana Massacre of 16 August 2012, which claimed the lives of innocent workers whose sin was to demand a mere wage of R72.00 per hour.
AZAPO calls for a decent wage for workers. We firmly believe that land distribution to the rightful owners and labour market activities in agriculture, construction, manufacturing and mining are paramount to the total eradication of poverty and the restoration of the dignity of the indigenous owners of the land. We further reiterate our historic position that education remains fundamental in addressing poverty, inequality and unemployment.
Please click this link to download and print in pdf version AZAPO Voice Volume 1 Issue 9