OURS IS BASICALLY A STRUGGLE AGAINST COLONIALISM
We have repeatedly stated that our liberation struggle is a struggle against colonialism. Some amongst us may dismiss this as an outdated approach. They are quick to say that the current government uses colonialism and apartheid as excuses for its obvious failures to deliver on their election promises. They say the real problem of the government is corruption and the plundering of public resources and not the legacy of colonialism as those in power would have us believe. Some within this group are born after 1994 and believe that they know nothing about apartheid and colonialism. Their view is that the government should stop blaming everything on the past and deliver on the promises made.
The sophisticated ones may even argue that most Afrikan countries were freed from colonial rule in the 1960s. They can point that South Africa cut its colonial ties with Britain on May 31, 1961, when it left the Commonwealth, a group of British colonies with ties to their colonial master.
The point that is being advanced is that the government should get on with its business of governing, deliver better life to the people and stop hiding behind the colonial past.
But this would be a shallow analysis. Colonialism has survived for decades largely because of its impressive ability to mutate and adjust to different circumstances. The earliest form of colonialism was slavery. During slavery, the colonial countries that needed free labour to build and develop their countries would send slave hunters to Afrika. It is here on the Afrikan continent that the slave traders would apply their evil modus operandi where they would work with some Afrikans who would be the foot soldiers of the slave trade by hunting down other Afrikans and then hand them over to the European and American slave traders for agreed benefits such as textiles, exotic drinks, iron ware and even firearms.
For the slave trade to succeed, the slave traders worked with some Afrikans on the Afrikan continent who were effective tools for capturing their fellow Afrikan brothers and sisters and sold them to the invading slave captors.
The colonialist countries did not only require slaves, but they also required natural resources that were found in the colonies. In order to exploit the resources and take them to their home countries, the colonialists established colonies. Once colonies were established, colonial governments followed. In its well-orchestrated plan to plunder wealth and natural resources in different parts of the world, a small island country, England, colonised many countries in Afrika and even in Asia.
In the colonies, there has always been a dispute between the coloniser and the colonised, between the land thief and those whose land was dispossessed. The colonial governments were sustained by brute force. But this did not stop the colonised from fighting to restore their ownership of land and the control of their wealth. In the colonial era, the coloniser was of a different colour. He was a European but always had some Afrikan puppets working with him.
Over a period of time, the architects of colonialism realised that it was not sustainable to continue with the colonial project by using brute force to suppress the aspirations of the majority. In some parts of the world, the colonised were gaining power through their armed struggle. In order to protect the system of colonialism, the architects of colonialism concocted a plan to keep the system going. They pulled back and allowed a section of the indigenous people to become the rulers in the colonies, ushering in a new era of neo-colonialism.
Unlike colonial regimes that are oppressive and suppressive in nature, neo-colonial regimes are democratic and enjoy legitimacy and the masses of the people would have voted for them. The neo-colonial regimes are led by the indigenous people and shake-off the appearance of being a colonial power. Because they are voted for by the majority, they appear like they are working for the national interest and not for the colonial masters of yesteryear. This is the secret recipe for neo-colonialism. Unlike in colonialism, where the enemy is foreign and white, under neo-colonialism, the rulers, who are Black and indigenous, advance the interests of the colonisers. The new rulers are selected by the colonisers from within the revolutionary movement.
This explains why AZAPO, with its radical stance on the issue of land repossession and wealth redistribution, has never enjoyed financial support from those with colonial ties.
Colonialism is dynamic. When the system realises that it is under threat, it mutates. First it would co-opt elements of the revolutionary intelligentsia by giving them shares in some of the major international corporates and transform them into active defenders of the system. The neo-colonial system is so alert to its survival instincts that it would even prescribe the new leaders of the ruling parties by giving them financial support and project them as credible leaders of the people.
Those leaders who refuse to be agents of neo-colonialism, such as Patrice Lumumba and Thomas Sankara, are permanently removed from the surface of the earth. But puppets of neo-colonialism and imperialism, such as Mobutu Sese Seko, are supported by the colonial masters despite lack of popularity among their people.
The hard fact is that the colonial architecture has been firmly established centuries ago. It is like a railway track used to ferry minerals from our country’s mines to the ports where they are shipped to Europe and America. The driver of the goods train may be changed, but the destination is the same.
This is why a country like Switzerland that produces no cocoa is a leader in the manufacturing of chocolates. Israel leads in the diamond industry, but it has no single diamond mine.
The colonial infrastructure does not end there. It has financial tools that keep the colonies poor and indebted to the colonial powers. These tools include the manipulation of the currency and institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. While the gold reserves are in South Africa and other Afrikan countries, South Africans should part with R18 to get one US dollar. Angolans have to buy one US Dollar for more than 500 Angolan Kwanzas. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they have to exchange more than 2000 Congolose Francs for one US dollar.
This is how South Africa, and Afrika in general, is kept poor and indebted to the colonial powers. Our resources are not used to address poverty and hunger in our country but are shipped out of the continent for the benefit of the colonial powers.
International corporates from the colonial powers come to the continent and set up their businesses such as Coca-Cola, KFC, MacDonald, Nike, BMW, Nissan, Shell, BP and many others to mop up the little resources that remain with us after the big plunder operations.
And then we are surprised when we have youth unemployment of 70 percent?
When AZAPO says our liberation struggle has been aborted, it is because AZAPO appreciates that the system of colonialism that keeps our people without land and in poverty has been given a face-lift, but it was never dismantled. AZAPO’s mission is to dismantle to colonial architecture of the entire political and economic system.
LAND REMAINS OUR ULTIMATE PRIZE
Lately there have been increasing whispers that AZAPO should repackage its message in order to remain relevant to potential voters.
We are told that the message of land repossession does not appeal to the majority of people who are more responsive to their “bread and butter” issues such as jobs, houses, electricity and water.
We are told that the reason other parties have been more successful to get voters’ support is because they are able to talk to issues that affect ordinary voters and that their message is not about “pie in the sky” issues such as land and the ownership of natural resources such as mines.
The drivers of this propaganda narrative have even convinced some amongst us that people really do not need land but that they need jobs and houses. What nonsense? If they need houses, where will these houses be built? In space?
What we are witnessing is the power of tools of indoctrination at the disposal of the ruling class. In order to render our struggle for land irrelevant, and reduce it to a civil rights movement, the beneficiaries of the land conquest, assisted by their ice-boys, have waged a psychological warfare on the people to show them that Black people not only do they not need land but also that they are unable to use it for commercial purposes even when they are allocated the land.
Through their media, they publish reports of projects that collapsed after they were given to Black people who get the land through the land reform program of the State. In these reports, they show how huge tracts of land that were commercially viable are now lying fallow, resulting in job losses of thousands of farm workers.
But that is not the entire story. These reports will not tell you that Afrikan people were successful farmers before their land was taken away from them by the European settlers. It is not reported that Afrikan farmers had their livestock taken away from them and in some instances forced to reduce their livestock to less than five cows. They were also forced off the most fertile land which was then allocated to members of the white tribe.
There was a deliberate program to alienate the Afrikan from the land as the white tribe needed the Afrikans to leave their land and go and work on the mines in the reef.
Fast forward to post democratic order. Under the land reform program, commercial farms were cut up into small pieces of land and allocated to hundreds of people. Those who were settled on the farms were not given any support to continue farming on the land. Worse still, they were just set up for failure in that they were given too small pieces of land that could not be commercially viable. Farming thrives on economies of scale.
The plan to keep land under white ownership and control succeeded. It is common to hear some of us questioning the wisdom of repossessing the land. They argue that this will threaten food security and jobs. What is the solution? Keep the land in white hands. They know how to use the land. Look at them. They are feeding the country and even helping the country earn foreign currency through their exports.
The same argument applies to mines. Leave mines to the big mining houses. It does not matter that these mines are foreign owned but they are giving our people the much needed employment. Those making this argument quickly add that if you are unable to run a small municipality in Idutywa, how can you run a complicated operation such as a mine.
They argue that corruption and inefficiency will collapse the mine, leading to massive unemployment. They can also point at how VBS was looted of billions. They can also point at corruption at ESKOM, Transnet, PRASA, Denel and many other failing institutions that are being mismanaged by the State.
But it is the historic mission of AZAPO to explode the myth that Black people cannot run anything properly. Black people should first be baptised in Black Consciousness philosophy that will remind them that they are not inferior to anybody and that they are just as capable.
We have history to show that we have used the land to our benefit. We should never accept the propaganda that the current status is the best deal for Black people. We want our land back. Period.