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AZAPO Voice Volume 2 Issue Number 34

ERSTWHILE REVOLUTIONARIES ARE DROWNING IN THE CORROSIVE POWER OF THE SYSTEM

The Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO) is a revolutionary movement. Necessarily, its leaders are revolutionaries. Being a revolutionary is a huge responsibility because revolutionaries have to transform society and create a new world order. There is an ever-present threat to revolutionaries; the threat of assimilation by reactionary forces. When people join the revolutionary struggle as young people, they seldom appreciate the power of the system that they want to destroy. Often, some aspirant revolutionaries get corrupted in the cause of the revolutionary struggle and become defenders of the very system they sought to demolish.

In the context of our country, the current crop of revolutionaries took the struggle baton from freedom fighters who came before them. These people include towering figures such as Bantu Biko, Mangaliso Sobukwe, Mziwakhe Lembede, Muneri Madzunya, Cetshwayo, Makhado, Hintsa, Sekhukhune and many others who fought for our total liberation and the repossession of the land from European settlers.

It is crucially important for genuine revolutionaries to clearly articulate what they are fighting for as opposed to who they are fighting against. For while it may be easy to identify who the enemy of the people is, it may not be so obvious what is it that revolutionaries seek to replace the current order with. While we may differ in emphasis, the general thrust of the broad Liberation Movement was that the struggle was against colonialism, racism and land theft by European settlers. However, there was no sufficient expression of what kind of a system would replace the white settler-colonial rule. The broad consensus was that we would have democracy, which is the expression of the will of the majority of the people.

But as revolutionaries, or at least some of those who projected themselves as revolutionaries, we never fully appreciated the corrosive power of a system we wanted to destroy. Some liberals and conformists wanted to deracialise and democratise the system that was meant to oppress the poor and enrich the propertied class. For instance, these elements unfortunately believed that it was sufficient to appoint a Black Vice-Chancellor at the University of Witwatersrand without transforming Wits to advance the anti-colonial agenda. They believed it would be enough to replace the white cabinet of the National Party with a Black-dominated Cabinet of the ruling ANC. However, the Black-dominated Cabinet did not have its own agenda as different from the previous white Cabinet. The Cabinet of the post-apartheid government inherited the same benefits which the previous regime had designed for themselves – huge salaries and benefits and huge convoys of luxurious cars.

But that was not all. If the racist National Party was corrupt and abused Black people, the current government is continuing on the same script. Only this week, a hospital for mental patients was opened in Kimberley. The Northern Cape Premier, Dr Zamani Saul, who is also the ANC provincial chairperson, described the hospital as “a monument of corruption”. This is because the initial budget for the construction of the hospital was R280 million, but costs kept on rising until R1,8 billion was spent on its construction.

There is a water project in the Giyani area which started as a R92 million initiative. but the costs have escalated to more than R3 billion. Sadly, the project is still not completed and some estimate that R6,7 billion of taxpayers’ money would be spent on the project to ensure its completion.

These are just two examples of grand scale corruption. But it is an open secret that corruption is out of control in the country. Revelations at the Zondo Commission support this assertion. The Commission has heard of shocking abuse of funds by Crime Intelligence and some in the fourth estate. It is clear that yesteryear revolutionaries have been assimilated into the corrupt State machinery that preys on resources meant for the benefit of the people, especially the poor.

But if the former custodians of revolutionary morality have become modern day political tsotsis, as we have witnessed in the State Capture Commission, what will save our people? What will make AZAPO revolutionaries different? AZAPO revolutionaries respect Black people because they are graduates of the Biko political school of Black Consciousness. Furthermore, AZAPO believes that the people, and not just leaders, are the biggest guarantor of liberty and good governance.

But above all, AZAPO revolutionaries are cut from a different cloth. They do not want to be part of a system they are fighting to destroy. They have a new vision of a country that respects Black people and help restore their dignity by making Black people the masters of their own destiny, and not passive recipients of grants and goodwill from the State.


CHE GUEVARA REMEMBERED!

October 9 marked the 52nd anniversary of the death of socialist revolutionary icon, Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna, known across the world as Che Guevara.

Che was born to a rich family in Argentina on June 14, 1928. While studying to become a medical doctor at the University of Buenos Aires, Che was exposed to the suffering of the masses of poor people and quickly connected their lack of proper healthcare, poverty and economic oppression and exclusion to the system of capitalism and imperialism. He took a vow to fight the system and create a better world.

He completed his medical degree in 1953. He could have chosen a comfortable life of a qualified medical professional and to become an arm-chair revolutionary, but he chose to team up with other revolutionaries to advance the struggle to create a better world. It was while he was in Mexico that Che met exiled Cuban revolutionaries, including Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro. Che became a close confidante of Castro and played a crucial role in the Cuban revolution that ousted Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

After the socialist revolution in Cuba, Castro appointed Che to serve in his cabinet in which he was effectively the second in command. However, Che’s quest for freedom of people throughout the world saw him quitting the cabinet post in Cuba and going to train freedom fighters in Afrika. He went back to Latin America where he teamed up with freedom fighters in Bolivia and became part of the fighting machinery of a socialist-inspired movement that was fighting to overthrow the government of Bolivia. In a fierce battle with the Bolivian government forces, Che was wounded and captured on October 8, 1967. He was executed the following day, October 9, 1967. His captors cut off his hands as proof that they had murdered him and buried his body in an unmarked grave. Che’s remains were found in 1997 and were reburied in Cuba in a massive ceremony attended by his long-time comrade, Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Che remains an inspiration to revolutionaries throughout the world. He defied the logic of the capitalist system that promotes self-interests, essentially putting his life on the line to become a living sacrifice for the creation of a new world order which abhors the exploitation of one person by another. Although he was born in Argentina, he was prepared to fight for the freedom of the Cuban people and in other countries. For Che, the only condition for him to fight for you to help you end your oppression and exploitation was that you are human. He took the concept of human solidarity to the highest level, which is why he felt that he should leave Cuba and continue the struggle against imperialism in other countries. For him, the struggle was completely won if all humanity was free from the shackles of capitalism and imperialism.

Only if the average politicians of today, who are propelled by greed and rapacious appetite for wealth accumulation, can learn from the impressive and impeccable revolutionary life of Che, our country and indeed the world can become a better place.


TRUMP PLUNGING THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE KURDS IN TURMOIL

The way US President Donald Trump handles both domestic and international politics makes you think the man has taken leave of his senses. The less said about his exaggerated self-importance, the better.

After a call with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this past Sunday, Trump announced in a statement that he would pull out of Syria about 50 American special operations troops. Because these American troops had played a role in stopping Turkey forces from crossing the borders and attack the Kurdish militias it deems as terrorists, the general opinion was that there must have been an understanding between Erdogan and Trump that Turkey could now cross the borders and mount an onslaught against the Kurdish rebels.

What shocked many political pundits was that the Kurdish rebels have until now been the loyal allies of the US against the Syrian State and ISIL. For this purpose, the US emptied its resources into arming and training the Kurdish rebels that are located and running mainly a big patch of the north-eastern land of Syria. There are two more smaller patches in the middle and western parts of the strip of land on the Syria-Turkey border. Turkey is situated to the north of Syria as similarly as Zimbabwe is to South Africa.

Historically, the relations between Syria and Turkey had been strained. This followed the handing over by France of the Hatay region of Syria to Turkey in 1939. Hatay was under the control of France, which allowed a pseudo-referendum for the region to decide where it wanted to belong between Syria of which it was an organic part, and Turkey. The results favoured Turkey. This annexation of Syrian land and people by Turkey generated bad blood between the two countries.

The worst part was the chaos that was caused by the world superpowers after World War I. Before this war, the Kurds lived a nomadic life under the Ottoman Empire. The breakup of this Empire by the western powers deprived the Kurds of their freedom and dispersed them into newly formed nation-states like Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Armenia and others. Like they did with Israel, the western powers had promised the Kurds their own independent State or Kurdistan. There was no real or immediate economic stake in that promise. The western powers dropped the idea in a manner that betrayed the Kurds who had been hit by an identity crisis as a result of the forced dislocation and dispersal.

The Kurds, who are the biggest minority in Turkey at 20%, were the immediate threat to the Turkish powers. Kurdish nationalism sought to entrench itself in Turkey through the Kurdish Workers’ Party (KPP), which was founded in 1978 and based in Turkey and Iraq. The PKK has been waging armed struggle against Turkey since 1984. It first fought for an independent Kurdish State,  and have since toned that down to equal rights and autonomy.

Syria kind of housed and supported the Kurds in their struggle against Turkey. In the chaos created by the US in the region by invading and weakening Iraq in in 1991 and seeking to install regime change in Syria as from 2012, the Kurds found themselves ideologically and politically lost. Apart from the well-established and battle-hardened Peshmerga (means “those who face death”) militia of the Kurdistan regional Government and Iraqi Kurdistan, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which was the coming together of several Kurdish militias on Syrian soil, was formed in 2015 under the supervision of the US. The People’s Protection Units (YPG) is the military manifestation of the SDF.

While the Peshmerga were useful to the US in the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent kidnapping and assassination of Osama bin Laden, the SDF has since become useful to the US for the regime change project in Syria. Yet all these somewhat rival Kurdish militias are helpful to the US in the fight against ISIL and Al Qaeda. It is the funding and training of these anti-Turkey Kurdish militias that strained relations between Turkey and the US, which are both NATO members.

Syria and Russia’s strategy was to temporarily welcome the US-Kurdish militias alliance insofar as it was helpful in neutralising the ISIL. Yet the straining of US-Turkey relations made Turkey to fall on the side of Syria and Russia. On the other hand, Trump realises that the US is not winning in the conflict because the main objective was the installation of regime change in Syria. Russia successfully frustrated those US ambitions. Trump has now had a phone call which opened the way for Turkey to cross its borders and assault the Kurdish militias.

Turkey’s strategy is to drive the Kurdish militias away from the border and replace them with the 2 million Syrian immigrants as a buffer. Meanwhile, the Kurdish militias which have been used by the US have now been exposed to further turmoil and dislocation. Some people believe Trump is doing this to take the spotlight away from his impeachment that is in progress. But we believe the man is just not taking his medication.


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