JUNE 16 UPRISINGS
The government has declared June to be Youth Month. The declaration was informed by the quest to honour the youth of Soweto, who in June of 1976 revolted against Bantu Education in particular and against the system of white settler-colonialism in general. But we know that the Black Consciousness Movement, which provided political leadership during that time, fuelled the fires to spread the uprisings throughout Azania.
AZAPO insists that June 16 should remain as June 16 Uprisings Day, and not the politically neutral Youth Day. It is of crucial importance that the generations to come should know about the June 16 Uprisings, a day that high school Black learners, some as young as 12 years, were engaged in a peaceful protest against being taught in Afrikaans. And the apartheid regime reacted with brute force, mowing down hundreds of defenceless and unarmed young people.
There are political reasons why the current government would like to essentially remove June 16 Uprisings from the national psyche and replace it with the politically amorphous Youth Day.
The June 16 Uprising was not a spontaneous act of rebellion as some would like us believe. The June 16 Uprising was a culmination of the radical mobilisation of the youth by Black Conscious-aligned organisations such as the South African Student Organisation (SASO), the Black People’s Convention (BPC) and the South African Students Movement (SASM). Led by young militants Tsietsi Mashinini and Khotso Seatlholo, the Soweto Students Representative Council (SSRC) that provided immediate leadership to the Black students was a direct formation of SASM.
But because history is written by the victors, there is a concerted effort by some in the ruling party to erase the contribution of the BCM in the liberation struggle in general, and in the Soweto rebellion in particular. It is an undeniable fact that in the mid-1970s there was no other component of the liberation movement that was active within the country apart from the BCM. That is why some of the 1976 student leaders that subsequently defected to the ANC reluctantly admit that they were active in SASM.
The June 16 Uprisings revived the exiled political movements – the ANC and the PAC. Thousands of young people were forced to flee the country in the aftermath of the uprisings, and many of them found themselves without any political home in exile because the BCM had no yet established strong formal organisations with the necessary capacity outside the country at the time. Many of those young people strayed into the ranks of MK and the APLA. After 1976, our country was never the same. There is no doubt that the 1976 generation was a huge catalyst for the final push to dislodge the white minority regime from power in 1994.
As AZAPO, our objection to the “Youth Day” mentality is based on its deliberate effort to depoliticise the Soweto Uprising. Music festivals and other festivities of joy have been organised for June 16 by the forces of doom. Our view is that June 16 should be a day that the nation remembers with dignity. It should be a day that the country reaffirms its vow to create a just and equal society in honour of our fallen heroes of Azania.
THE UNITED NATIONS SHOULD BE REFORMED
It is tempting to congratulate South Africa on its election to the Security Council of the United Nations. The election offers South Africa an opportunity to have a voice in the council that determines the direction of global politics.
But AZAPO cannot afford to allow the political correctness of the election to influence the suppression of the truth. We are not party-spoilers, because we are anyway not party-goers. The truth is that the UN needs to be reformed, and not just to allow presumably progressive countries such as South Africa to have their two years of glory as members of the Security Council.
The UN was formed after the Second World War after the community of nations realised that there was a need of some kind of an authority that would mediate global affairs between various countries. The UN was basically formed to help guarantee global peace. However, its foundation had a fundamental structural defect. 5 powerful countries – the United States of America, Britain, France, Russia and China – were given veto powers. This means that if the UN took a resolution on any matter, any of those countries can nullify that resolution using its veto powers.
For any resolution to be carried out, the 5 countries, that are permanent members of the Security Council, must agree. This hardly happens. The UN would pass resolutions, such as resolution 242 calling for the liberation of Palestine, but would not move to implement them because one member of the Security Council would use its veto powers to stop its implementation. This renders the UN powerless.
There will be a slaughter of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, but the best that the UN can do would be to issue a statement condemning the violence or ordering an investigation; or worse still, pleading on the warring factions to “exercise restraint”.
So, while the UN is a legitimate world body, it has no real powers to carry out its well-debated resolutions. That is why countries such as America and Britain act outside the UN and advance their interests under the guise of pursuing world peace. These two countries invaded Iraq and toppled its leader Saddam Hussein under the pretext that that country had Weapons of Mass Destruction. When it was later revealed that Iraq had no such weapons, none of the leaders or countries were held accountable.
The UN in its current form poses a threat to world peace. There is no doubt that the world requires a body like the UN but it should be reformed so that there is some democracy and fairness in the UN assembly. The first move to introduce democracy in the UN Assembly would be to remove the veto powers of the permanent members of the Security Council.
Until that is done, South Africa’s participation in the Security Council would be lending legitimacy on crimes that are committed by the imperialist America and its allies.
PUBLIC SECTOR STRIKE AVERTED
AZAPO welcomes the decision by the public servants to avert a strike in the public sector. For the record, AZAPO has always been on the side of the Black workers. After all, AZAPO is the legitimate voice of the working class in semi-occupied Azania.
Had the strike went ahead, public services would have been seriously disrupted. Hospitals and clinics would have been forced to shut down. Schools would have been forced to close down. Sadly, most of these public institutions serve the poor and the working class. The lives of the ruling elite and the rich white community would have continued without any disruptions. This is because the rich rely on the private sector for their health needs and education. So when the workers go on strike in the public sector, those who are responsible for creating conditions that force workers to down tools are least affected by the strike.
There can never be any debate on the correctness of the workers to get decent salaries. However, there is also a need to focus on the productivity levels of the public servants. There are reports that the public health care is collapsing. Similar reports have been made about the public education system. The criminal justice system is also failing ordinary people, hence the rise in the use of the private security firms by the citizens.
The effectiveness of the state to render public service is as strong as the efficiency of the public service. The public servants should consciously render quality service to kill the argument that quality service can only be attained if the service has been privatised.
We do need a strong state that can lead in the development of our people. But this can only happen when the public servants show commitment in their work. As AZAPO, we have maintained that only workers who are infused with the philosophy of Black Consciousness are well equipped to understand and appreciate the need of a black-led government to succeed. It is black people in general who bear the brunt of poor service delivery by the public servants.
While we welcome the fact that the strike has been averted, the bigger challenge is for the public servants to serve people with pride and efficiency. On the other hand, the government should show responsiveness and don’t wait for social disasters to erupt before they attend to the causative factors.
GUNS SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM SOCIETY
The fatal shooting of a 16-year-old schoolboy by his father in Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg, is proof that there is an urgent need for the removal of guns from civilians in our country. Even so, AZAPO conveys its condolences to the bereaved family.
However, it is a stated policy of AZAPO that guns should be removed from civilians and that only the security forces such as solders and the police should be armed. It is public record that AZAPO embarked on an overdrawn campaign addressing communities and the faith-based organisations about the need to rid our society of guns to the extent that in 2007 AZAPO’s then President Mosibudi Mangena handed over his licenced gun to the Polokwane Police Station.
Although the facts of the Ennerdale shooting are still to be fully ventilated in court, according to media reports, the father accidentally shot his son when he thought he was being hijacked outside the school premises where his son had been attending evening classes.
While it should be any father’s worst nightmare to accidentally shoot his own son, but it cannot be ignored that had the father not been armed with a firearm, his son would be alive today. However, we have to look at the shooting in the broader context of the extent of violence in our country. South Africa has become such a violent society that when someone is robbed of his car at gun-point and he is not harmed, the general response is that of collective relief: “at least they did not kill him”. Guns are used to kill people for little valuables such as cell-phones. In some of the worst cases, women and young girls are raped at gun-point.
As a society, South Africa has a violent past. At the height of apartheid repression, the state used violence against defenceless people who were merely expressing their desire to be free. There have been countless massacres committed in various parts of the country by apartheid security forces. Some of these include the Sharpeville Massacre and the Langa Massacre where people were mowed down for just protesting against the pass laws.
The blood-thirsty regime did not confine its police of violence within the country’s borders. They hunted down freedom fighters in Maseru, Matola and Gaborone, killing freedom fighters in their sleep. As a response, the people felt the need to arm themselves against the white settler-colonial state. It was generally acceptable for people to have access to guns because the state would not defend them. However, the militarisation of our society did not end with the dawn of democracy. Too many illegal guns are still in the hands of ordinary civilians, and often they are used on innocent people and not to defend the owners of the gun.
If we are to end the culture of violence, we have to make a serious effort to remove all guns from civilians. It should be the responsibility of the security forces to protect all of us from criminals. The fact that the ANC-led government has its own Marikana Massacre and the killing of a number of political activists such as Andries Tatane should not rubbish a call for a Gun-Free Society.
To read and print pdf version, please click this link AZAPO Voice Volume 1 Issue 16
ONE AZANIA ! ONE NATION !