CAPITALISM HAS A CORROSIVE EFFECT ON OUR REVOLUTIONARY CHARACTER
Ordinarily, our approach is that AZAPO’s election campaign should focus on its manifesto and how the custodians of the legacy of Steve Biko would restore the dignity of the Black person after centuries of dehumanising colonialism, racism, capitalism and apartheid. But we can never escape the reality of our time – the ruling party needs to be rescued from further destroying our country.
For the record, this is not an anti-ANC rant. What we are trying to show through this article is that any system needs checks and balances to ensure its effectiveness. We have also come to accept that monopoly power breeds arrogance and creates room for the abuse of power as the incumbents have no fear of losing power. Democracy works best when there is no security of tenure for the incumbents.
We have seen across the globe many revolutionary parties who used their overwhelming majority to turn on their people and stole from the people, undermining democracy and economic development, resulting in hunger and the total collapse of basic services such as water and electricity.
It was the honorary President of AZAPO Cde Mosibudi Mangena who coined the phrase: “Political obesity kills.” He was appealing to the country to double their efforts to create a strong opposition not because the ANC is a bad movement but because power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Some of the central figures who are fingered in corruption and theft of public funds have impressive revolutionary CVs. Some of these people spent up to ten years on Robben Island and spent years in exile. At the time that they sacrificed their families and personal growth, there were no tenders, there were no government positions or positions in the cabinet. These people were driven by the desire to free the country and their people. For their commitment to freedom, they were guaranteed arrest and worse, death. But they were prepared to die for the people.
Fast forward to 1994 when democracy was ushered in. Some of our finest revolutionaries tasted power and it changed them forever. As revolutionaries, we never fully appreciated the corrosive effects of capitalism on the soul and revolutionary character of some of us. Many of those with closer proximity to power became victims of corruption and worked with private business to loot State resources.
The pursuit for wealth by rapacious politicians has become the new goal in neo-colonial South Africa. As the competition for the accumulation of resources became more intense, it also turned ugly and bloody. Comrades have started to use lethal force on each other. Dozens of political leaders, mainly from the ruling party, have been assassinated. Sadly, many of our people are fighting over crumbs while the real wealth remains concentrated in white hands. White owned companies continue to get billions of Rands worth of tenders from the State without making news headlines.
The political space has been hijacked. Many of the leaders who are campaigning for votes have demonstrated that they just want to use the votes as a ladder to access power so that they can continue their looting of the State. So dominant is this group that the ruling party has decided to leave politicians who have been fingered in corruption and wrong-doing on its election list of candidates.
Despite comments by political commentators that the ruling party is showing the electorate the middle finger, the ANC has decided to ignore these calls. There are at least two possible reasons for the attitude of the ruling party to field questionable candidates. The first possible reason could be sheer arrogance. Some within the ruling party have openly said that the voters do not care about corruption and that this was an issue for the “clever blacks” who are a tiny minority. It is the same attitude displayed by a ZANU-PF leader who once declared: “Our people love ZANU-PF. Even if you field a donkey and attach the ZANU-PF sticker on its head, the ZANU branded donkey will win the election against an MDC candidate.”
The ruling party seems to be saying, “we know that so and so is corrupt, but we are keeping her on our list. What are you going to do? You have to vote for this person because she is an ANC candidate.”
The second reason could be that so many people in the ruling party have “smaller-nyana skeletons” that if you were to try to disqualify candidates on the basis of them being fingered in corruption or wrong-doing, you may struggle to compile the list. So, the party opted to hide behind the courts and said while these candidates are fingered in various commissions to probe corruption, they are yet to be convicted in a court of law. This is a legal argument and but certainly not a moral and ethical argument.
But the ruling party has calculated that the voters will still vote for them despite fielding compromised candidates.
The simple truth is that we cannot rely on the goodwill of those in power to do the right thing. Those who are in office have to realise that if they steal and get involved in corruption, the electorate would act against them. This is why every patriot should search his or her conscience and answer the question – how can I use my vote to defend democracy and fight the monopoly of power that breeds arrogance and sheer disrespect for the voters?
People get a government they deserve.
Not everything that glitters is gold. As former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe once said, sometimes copper can be mistaken for gold. It can rust.
Revolutionary credentials of yesteryear are not to be the qualifications to guarantee integrity and ethical leadership. It is time that we use our votes to hold leaders accountable. If politicians know that this is how we vote, they will begin to treat the voters with respect.
We must use our votes to reduce the corrosive effects of capitalism on the political leaders.
GODUKA GUERILLA: A TRIBUTE TO CDE ADVOCATE KABELO LENGANE
Political activist and human rights lawyer Adv Kabelo Lengane (56) breathed his last on 17 March 2019 at his house in Bryanston, Johannesburg. It was such an ambush to all Azanians that many of us stopped what we were doing and rushed to his house with the hope that we would be told it was a different Kabelo who died.
Lengane was the inaugural President of the Azanian Students Movement (AZASM), which was founded in 1983 as a replacement to AZASO that defected to the ANC in 1981. As if to suggest that AZASO was ideologically stillborn, AZASM was formed by AZAPO to restore the Black Consciousness link between Biko’s SASO and the BCM post the 1977 banning. The historical irony was that AZASM was launched in Pietermaritzburg, which was where AZASO was also launched.
Lengane, to whom intellect and eloquence came naturally, had in 1982 enrolled for a law degree at the University of the North, which was better known as Turfloop. This was the same university where Steve Biko’s SASO was formally launched as the pioneer organisation of the Black Consciousness Movement in 1969. BC student activists at Turfloop were quick to close the AZASO void by operating under a loose arrangement that was referred to as the AZAPO Student Wing under the leadership of Chairperson Mutle Phasha.
The financial difficulties, exclusions and expulsions meant that black students at university were not very young. First-year students, or freshers, were generally not allowed to speak at meetings. Lengane’s portable frame made him look like a strayed school boy. But he defied the odds by bravely and sensibly speaking at the various students’ gatherings. Intellect and eloquence came naturally to Lengane.
By the time AZASM was to be launched, Lengane had lifted his hand so high that it was clear that nobody else could be politically and ideologically trusted to restore and nurture that betrayed ideological nexus between the black students and the BCM better than the principled and tenacious Lengane. He was elected as the inaugural President of AZASM, which comprehensively covered both tertiary and high school levels at the time.
During the height of political intolerance in the years 1985 and 1986, Lengane was bound to expose himself to intimidation and physical attack. The attacks followed him to his Soweto home in Moletsane where he lived in the neighbourhood of AZAPO President Ishmael Mkhabela. Lengane defended the Movement of Biko with his mind, body and soul.
It was not enough that the Orlando West house of his elder brother Jefferson was set alight by political rivals, their father Thabo Jacob Lengane was kidnapped on 20 October 1986 and was found murdered the following night with a bullet wound in his head.
Once harassment on his life became too real to ignore, Lengane skipped the country to join the exiled BCMA and its military wing AZANLA. He went to Zimbabwe via Botswana. He was joined by his brother Jefferson and Sessi Baloyi who would later become his wife and a colleague as advocates in the law profession.
His deceptively lean body and agility impressed his Commanders to select him to join the AZANLA Unit that went for advanced military training in Libya. He was with fellow soldiers Eugene Zabala, George Biya, Xolisile Mnyaka, Buti Saudi, Dorset Musi, Tiragalo Mogale and others. He acquitted himself well under the rigorous training of the Arabs.
Those who knew Lengane would tell you that there were no dull moments in the presence of the humorous gentleman. His humour once caught up with him when he was instructed to assemble and disassemble the General-Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). He playfully mimicked an American accent while he was efficiently executing his task. The Libyan military instructors severely punished him by forcing him to get into the water, roll in the sand and run with a 15kg GPMG around the military training field. He took the punishment well and joked about it among his fellow soldiers.
He was one of the shining lights in the legal profession where black advocates have had to conduct protests against lack of transformation and underrepresentation. He was particularly vocal against the lack of briefings of black advocates by State institutions and black politicians. A case in point was the 2015 silicosis case where black workers were suing white mining companies. Except for two instructing attorneys, all the 32 advocates were white. Lengane protested against the representation of Black Pain by white lawyers that were supposed to fight the cause, which was white mining companies.
Great human beings like Lengane never die. They live for eternity through their rich contributions.
IT IS SHARPEVILLE DAY!
As part of our collective struggle against forgetting or using memory as a weapon to paraphrase legendary poet Don Matera, this week the country commemorated Sharpeville Day.
Those who wish to re-write history have decided to refer to the Sharpeville massacre as Human Rights Day. As AZAPO, we will continue to refer to March 21 as Sharpeville Day. This is critical to ensure that future generations are not robbed of the real story of how the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), under the stewardship of one of the leading African intellectuals and revolutionaries Professor Mangaliso Sobukwe, organised peaceful protest marches throughout the country in 1960.
The anti-pass protests were supposed to be peaceful. Men were urged to hand themselves over at the nearest police stations and challenge the police to arrest them for refusing to carry the passes. What started as a peaceful march turned into a massacre when apartheid security forces opened fire on unarmed civilians, murdering 69 people and leaving almost 200 people wounded.
The post-apartheid government decided to declare March 21 Human Rights Day and proclaimed the day as a public holiday. There was the usual fanfare by politicians urging people to celebrate human rights. But if you are living in grinding poverty, without proper shelter, without a job and without any prospect of getting employment, what is there to celebrate? Sadly, this is a story of millions of South Africans whose biggest challenge every day is hunger.
Millions of people have no basic needs such as water. We are told that eight out of 10 South Africans have access to electricity. But what we are not told is that because many of them are unemployed, they have electricity infrastructure in their homes but not electric power because they are too poor to afford paying for it.
The right to vote, or the right to free speech is meaningless if basic needs to survive have not been met. And as we approach the May 8 elections, people might use their voting power to vote for change.
To print and read the pdf version, please click here ⇒ AZAPO Voice Volume 2 Issue Number 12
For all comments and inputs, please click here, we thank you in advance.
ONE AZANIA ! ONE NATION !