AZAPO Voice Volume 2 Issue Number 28


Not many people attach much importance to what it took to bring about the 1994 democracy in South Africa.

Those who do not want to go a distance in thinking simply think democracy came about because Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in jail. They are grateful to him, and to him alone, for bringing about the democratic change by being in jail all those years.

Some are oblivious to the political struggles that took place in Azania, and just thank God for delivering the democratic change.

Of course, the 1994 democratic change is the least of what the demands of the Azanian Revolution entailed. The reconquest of our land and total liberation is what we expected.

Even so, the 1994 democratic change came about at the cost of spilling of the blood of Black people. It took the loss of lives of millions of Black people to bring about even the little we achieved in 1994.

For hundreds of years our forebears waged Land Wars (frontier wars) where they faced enemy guns with spears. When they were defeated, they were made slaves, while our Black women took an extra bullet of being raped by the enemy.

In the modern times Black people were reduced to labourers at best, and the jobless and prisoners at worst. If they were not killed in the countless massacres during the struggle, they were hanged in prisons.

When 1994 came, Blacks thought the reward for their sufferings had arrived. They were wrong.

But they were less prepared for the fact that they were to continue the struggle under their own democratically elected government where they continued to die under killings like the Marikana Massacre.

They were not ready for the brutal reality that there would be other Bikos like Andries Tatane, Bazooka Radebe and Mambush Noki under democracy.

When you thought that matchbox houses and shacks were an apartheid phenomenon that was the design of white racism, shacks and RDP structures have actually mushroomed and multiplied under democracy.

The liberation promise has virtually come to zero if you consider the hardships that Black people are subjected to.

The liberation promise has gone up in smoke with the ever-rising unemployment, which has now increased to 38.5%, which amounts more than 10 million unemployed people. Meanwhile, the ESKOM net losses have reached R20.7 billion. This is contributing to the debilitating impact on the expected but elusive economic growth. The little revenue that Eskom generates falls short of paying the interest on the existing debt bill, which just keeps on spiralling out of control.

The way things stand, all indications are that President Ramaphosa will be rushing to the IMF cap in hand for the enslaving loans. This will be influenced by the country’s inability to pay its debts.

Rating agency Fitch has downgraded the country’s economic outlook from stable to negative on the back of the low economic growth and ESKOM bailouts by government. They have kept the long term foreign and local currency one notch above junk status.

What does all this mean for Black people? Depression.

This social depression expresses itself in the dysfunctionality of many Black families, which are supposed to be responsible for bringing up our children from whom tomorrow’s leaders are expected to come from. The Black community is doomed at this rate.

Many Black parents have resorted to the abuse of alcohol, while their children drop out of school and resort to abusing drugs that are splashed by the drug lords in the townships.

Like many of the Black families, many of the townships schools are also dysfunctional. Drugs and alcohol find their way into the classroom. Gangsters use the school yard as their battlefield.

Both teachers and learners find themselves falling victim to the complete collapse of discipline in the schooling system. A few teachers have been killed by their learners.

The church is not what it used to be. It has been invaded by leaders who see it as a profit-making institution. The meagre earnings of poor parents are robbed by these crook faith leaders in the name of the Lord.

It is the sad story of a depressed Black community.

“It becomes more necessary to see the truth as it is if you realise that the only vehicle for change are these people who have lost their personality. The first step therefore is to make the black man come to himself; to pump back life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth.” Steve Biko

Media reports show that the notorious necklace that was invented to deal with political rivals has now been adopted to barbarically kill suspected criminals that harass and terrorise the Black community.

The residents know that they are not supposed to take the law into their hands. But they say they do this because the police are not doing their job of pouncing on the drug lords and gangsters.

Service delivery protests are on the increase. The politicians are looting the State resources that were supposed to fund the delivery of services.

This is nothing but evidence of the diminishing levels of Black Consciousness in our communities. People armed with Black Consciousness would choose to use their frustration as the energy to rise and direct their fight to the real source of their plight.

That plight is landlessness and absence of liberation as a result of empty promises. The Azanian Masses must realise that the struggle continues. Black people need to come together in all spheres of life and reflect on what needs to be done.


Capitalism is a barbaric system. Yes, really. Just to remove any doubt about this assertion, a news report last week revealed that Naspers CEO Bob Van Dijk earned R1.6 billion in the last financial year. If the figure is too big and confusing, let us simplify it. Assuming that Van Dijk worked five days a week, like many other people, for each day worked, he earned R6.67 million a day.

With earnings of R6.67 million a day, Van Dijk can afford to pay the annual salary of the President of the Republic with his earnings of just one day and still keep more than R3 million change. The current annual earnings of the President of South Africa is R3.6 million.

Just to put things in proper perspective, Naspers is the mother company of various entities including Multichoice and many other companies based in various countries. A few weeks ago, Multichoice announced that it would be cutting about 2000 jobs, to cut rising costs and improve efficiency. The majority of the workers targeted for retrenchments are low skilled workers, many of whom earn less than R8000 a month.

It is difficult to understand how people who work for the same company can earn so different salaries. But that is the nature of the beast called capitalism. It is a system that thrives on promoting inequality.

What makes Van Dijk’s earnings to be in bitter taste for many working class people is the fact that the economy of the country is shedding jobs. This week, Stats SA released its report that stated that narrow unemployment rate has risen to 29%, the highest this figure has been for more than 10 years.  This is a crisis, especially considering that the actual rate of unemployment is much higher and stands at 38.5%. In fact, if we consider that more than 50% of those employed are under-employed and spend as much as 70% of their earnings on transport to go to work, the situation is even more dire.

“Thus in South Africa it is very expensive to be poor. It is the poor people who stay furthest from town and therefore have to spend more money on transport to come and work for white people” Steve Biko

Under the current economic system, the government can do virtually nothing to regulate executive pay. The government can also not force the private sector to create and maintain jobs. However, the government can help reduce the unemployment bloodbath by doing a few things. One of these would be to protect the local producers of chicken against the dumping of cheap chicken from abroad. The government can also impose higher tariffs on cheap Chinese imports in the textile sector. But more importantly, the government can actively support local manufacturers and boost exports, taking advantage of the weaker rand.

But for now, all we get from the ruling party, with regard to the unemployment crisis, after a meeting of its National Executive Committee is an expression of a “grave concern.” What a pity!


One of the most crucial aspects of Black Consciousness is its potency to attack mental slavery or mental oppression. As Bantu Biko said, in one of his seminal writings: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

Indeed, mental slavery has been our biggest downfall as a people throughout history. During slavery, a few dozens of European slave hunters would arrive at an Afrikan country for their evil mission of catching slaves. Before they start with their mission of hunting down slaves, they would get some Afrikans to be part of their mission. Instead of all Afrikans resisting and fighting back the slave-hunters, some of the Afrikan people would join the hunters and become part and parcel of the slave-hunting machinery.

It was the same scenario during colonialism. European colonialism would have had very limited success had it not been for the co-operation of other Afrikans who worked with the colonisers against their fellow Afrikan people.

All that the European colonisers had to do was to select some Afrikans and indoctrinate them with European “values” through education and religion. Once the Afrikans got “civilised” they saw themselves as the extension of the European colonial project. It was the Mozambican liberation hero Samora Machel who observed that some Afrikans were proud that they were colonised by the French while others boasted that they were colonised by the English.

In occupied Azania, traditional leaders who resisted colonialism and apartheid were dethroned and were replaced with apartheid stooges who supported the colonialists. The cardinal point is that had the colonialists not secured the collaboration of some Afrikans, colonialism would have been impossible.

The script is basically the same under neo-colonial setup like in the present day Zuid Afrika. A section of the liberation movement gets co-opted into the ruling structure that enforced and defended colonialism. The system co-opts a section of the oppressed, gives them crumbs falling from the table of the super-rich, mainly white class, so that they can defend the system and become its ambassadors.

“So as a prelude whites must be made to realise that they are only human, not superior. Same with Blacks. They must be made to realise that they are also human, not inferior.” Steve Biko

In a neo-colonial arrangement, it would not be white people who would be lecturing the masses about the dangers of getting the land back to Black people. No. It would be “educated” Afrikans who would be warning us against going the Zimbabwe route. They would tell us never to temper with the Reserve Bank or to make any radical policy shift because the country would be downgraded, and we would scare away foreign investors.

As AZAPO, we should always remember that the struggle has always been waged, in part, against those who look like us but who advance the interests of the colonisers. We have the responsibility to spread BC, the potent pill against mental slavery.

Only the mentally liberated Black leaders can be trusted with the mission of advancing the interests of Black people in general. And when that happens, the agenda of the government will change. Issues of grinding poverty in rural areas, poor education in Black areas, high rates of crime in Black areas and lack of basic services such as water and electricity for the majority of the people will dominate government agenda. At the moment, this is not the case. Currently, the fight is over the crumbs falling from the table of white monopoly capital.

To print and read the pdf version, please click hereAZAPO Voice Volume 2 Issue Number 28
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