By Andile Mngxitama
Given the latest missive by Pastor Xola Skosana we are left wondering if the man of God has left Christ to assume the role of the Messiah himself? He desires to rescue Black First Land First (BLF) from what he sees as blunders through a proposed Council of Black Consciousness Sages. One can’t help but think that the good Reverend sees himself sitting at the head of the table surrounded by his twelve disciples dispensing pearls of wisdom to lost vassals that need saving from themselves. The condescending tone of the father speaking down to his wayward children belies the polite tone of arrogance that presents itself as advice from a friend.
Essentially Skosana is a man concerned about himself. He could have simply, without playing this pious game, said that he doesn’t agree with the BLF campaign and that all those people who have knowledge of the fact that he knows some of us must not associate him with the campaign, period. His loud protestations are off course unnecessary given the fact that Skosana is not a member of BLF. But then he has a reputation he is concerned about, just in case someone would say he is guilty for having shared activities with BLF on previous occasions. He feels pressured to make it clear that he is not supporting the BLF campaign – just in case. This is a sad case of self-absorption. BLF has not sought permission or endorsement from Skosana. Why does he feel pressured to disassociate himself from a campaign he is not part of? To be clear, we are black. We don’t have reputations to worry about. We, as BLF, understand very well that being black means that one is marked by a “general dishonor” irrespective of what one does or says.
Skosana’s Council is a proposal of the deluded. It assumes a golden era of Pan Afrikanist and Black Consciousness Movements only marred by one renegade group that must be brought under control and guidance. The truth is actually devastating if you have paid attention in the last 20 years or so. The BCM and Pan Afrikanist formations have lost the influence and respect they once had in society. We are starting from the beginning with great pain and with little strides. One must honestly wonder where these Sages, who will populate Skosana’s Council, will come from. The same practically defunct formations? These are the people who Skosana says must give BLF wisdom. We need a better grasp of reality if we hope to make progress.
In one of the more exciting polemics amongst white thinkers, Slavoj Zizek accuses Noam Chomsky of lacking theory and thereby getting everything wrong including the facts. This charge seems apt to our man of the cloth. If we pay a little attention to Skosana’s way of reasoning we can see that in fact there is a method that guides his thinking which is devoid of theory. At best it can be seen as opportunism. He has abandoned or has a rather liberal grasp the function of ideology. To this end he says, “(s)o the debate shouldn’t be at the level of ideology but at the level of tactics and strategy, at the level of gains and losses”. This is the crux of his method.
We need to remind the good Pastor that ideology/theory is not something you take a look at from a distance and then put away like a set of binoculars. Ideology is not a just a general guide. It essentially tells you how you must get to where you are going to and how you must arrive there. It also helps you not to lose your vision in the journey. In fact, I have argued recently at the Black August Think Fest that the main source of the perilous state of the Azania School is the disjuncture between ideology and tactics. Dropping or suspending your ideology to make tactical gains is called opportunism. Didn’t the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) say that they have to “suspend ideology” and go into coalition with the racist DA? When you suspend ideology you become a politician.
Lets see where opportunism takes the Pastor to. He derides BLF for; “loading a barrage of attacks on the outgoing Public Protector, Thuli Madontsela”. Had he come to advice the BLF that, “ … the campaign won’t gunner sympathy because she is first a woman and Black, whether or not in our eyes she is a non-white.” See, for him the issue is not principle but popularity. For Skosana demanding that Thuli Madonsela investigate white corruption is tantamount to a “barrage of attacks”. But his advice is “don’t go against the grain” but rather seek to profit from the popularity of Thuli by not questioning and demanding from her. We need to “gunner sympathy” not clarity and develop a fighting principled movement. The good Reverend has nothing to say about the R26 billion stolen by whites. He doesn’t perceive a situation where principled sympathy may arise out of a principled battle. Nor does he see that already BLF has raised critical awareness and consciousness about the blatant white impunity.
There is something that Skosana needs to appreciate. BLF is guided by its ideology and theory which are Black Consciousness and Pan Afrikansim. We go wherever our theory takes us irrespective of consequences. We are prepared to pay for our beliefs.
Skosana says, “(s)ure a principled case can be made for this campaign [Hands Off Zuma – Economic Liberation now], both from a BC and Pan Africanist standpoint, no one can dispute that”. He further augments this move with, “(o)ur struggle is fundamentally from a standpoint of being Black, it is waged strictly for Black people, against all forces”. He says BLF is correct to defend Zuma against white assault. But he then begs BLF not to do so because its “tactically and strategically” not profitable. Listen to him in his own words:
“My view is that BLF stance is ideologically right, Zuma and all blacks people under attack by white power must be protected as a matter of principle, regime change by imperial forces should be exposed and resisted, the fight for our total liberation must be taken to whites all the time”.
Consequently one must now wonder, why then is Skosana opposed to the campaign?
The explanation is to be found in his opportunism which he has now elevated into a method of thinking and doing. One looks in vain for the logical leap from that principled position to this:
“I differ though on the approach BLF opted for. Zuma is too much of a liability”.
Skosana says that BC and Pan Afrikanism burden us with the task of defending any black person that comes under white attack. He agrees with BLF that indeed Zuma is under such attack. But the man of God says that this black person doesn’t deserve our defense because it will cost us. In fact he says that it has already cost us by tarnishing the reputation of the black block which is guilty by association with the BLF just like how BLF is guilty by association with Zuma.
Our response to Skosana is – look at us, we are not ashamed to come to the defense of any black person who is under attack from whites. We are not even ashamed to be associated with them. Any black person under the whip of the slave master is us! That dear Pastor includes Jacob Zuma. We have already paid for defending blacks that we don’t like nor agree with. Recently, I was talking at a public meeting and a white man decided to insult Hlaudi Motsoeneng in my presence. I instinctively jumped to the defense of Hlaudi. That’s what my black consciousness teaches me. Unlike you Sir, we don’t have the luxury of choosing which black is more deserving of our defense. We do not have reputations and friendships to lose at the expense of our ugly task to defending any black person. Our BC compels us to do so. We are slaves to our beliefs. We can’t be anything but BC all the time.
We stand accused of having “…raptured much needed relationships in the already fragile student body politics such as Fees Must Fall etc and further distanced BLF away from the critical voice of Radical Black Feminism.” If these student bodies and black feminist voices including the Kilombo feel ashamed of our stance to defend Zuma against white attack, then we are happy because we now know they were never our comrades – we just don’t believe in the same things. We have a sacred duty to elaborate being Steve Biko’s mission and we simply don’t know what they are about. We must then go further and say, from this attitude we can expect lynching in the Kilombo itself when we arrive with Jacob Zuma rescued from the plantation. For us – the real runaway slaves – there is no safe space, not even the Kilombo will have us. We must keep moving and fighting and persuading and defending!
The twisted logic is that since Zuma is a liability, there is no point in even engaging with BLF’s call for Zuma to leave the plantation and come home. Let’s decode this “liability”. its just like “sympathy” in the Madonsela case, its about not losing face and friends, its about caring for ones popularity more than once beliefs. Its called “strategy and tactics” apparently and is really about selling ones soul to keep hypocritical friends. The white owed media has established a narrative and image we dare not go against. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s exactly what we are going against!
The altering of the main contradiction in SA, so as to create a justification for the EFF to go into a coalition with the DA, was firstly to suspend ideology. A way of thinking that Skosana agrees with. BLF is opposed to any suspension of ideology because that opens the flood gates of opportunism. But the second and most important alteration is the argument that, “(i)t is our interest in the BC and Pan Africanist socialist block anyway that Zuma and the ANC must fall for us to be able to deal effectively with white power”. This is EFF thinking, its alien entirely to BC – the idea that we must defeat the ANC so that we can “be able to effectively deal with white power”. This is two stagism on steroids and has no bearing to reality. From this position one is just a step away from saying things like; “(w)hites maybe able to do this job for us without us aiding them as the EFF has done”. I don’t think the Reverend is thinking straight here. Surely the pressure to distance himself from the BLF campaign is now having a toll on the man of the cloth. Pastor Skosana knows better than many of us that whites have never done anything for us. Why would they do the job of bringing the ANC down for us? Since when have whites done anything from which we blacks have benefitted? This is a lapse in judgement directly linked to opportunism.
When Skosana says, “(t)here must be no collaboration with whites on matters pertaining to our liberation from white supremacy”, he is trying to cover his tracks just after saying they can do the job for us. The Pastor must decide where he stands on non-collaboration. One is implicated by choosing to do nothing when one of us is under attack. That’s collaboration enough. Let it be clear to all, whites have an agenda to bring down the ANC. In fact they are using factions to do so. But rest assured its got nothing to do with our interests. In fact it’s against us all as blacks. Whites are ruthless and consistent. See how today they are encouraging the destruction of Mandela’s legacy. They have elevated him too high, now they are labouring to bring him down. They have used him, now they are abusing him.
The idea of getting rid of the ANC so as to get even with white power is very strange. It’s the perfect way to create a new set of body guards. But this idea has gone as far as saying, “in order to get to the master there must be collaboration between the revolutionaries and the master against the body guard”. Claiming this logic, the EFF has gone into a coalition with the DA and to this end had given power to whites in the City of Joburg, Tshwane and Mandela Bay. This is like saying one can go into coalition with PW Botha to defeat Mathanzima. We as BLF don’t believe that such a collaboration can advance the course of the struggle. But theoretically, under certain circumstances one can go into a tactical agreement with the bodyguard against the master because fundamentally (as in the current arrangement) it is not good even for the bodyguard. But if we follow Skosana and the EFF we end up with notions of collaboration with the master against the bodyguard. This is the consequence of suspending ideology.
We shall leave for another day the claim about how Azapo’s 1994 boycott of the elections is responsible for the resurgence of BC. Lets deal with a factual distortion or misreading through selective application. From Skosana’s attempted rescue of Azapo on account of its position on 1994 we end up with his claim that; “(t)echnically, all those who voted in 1994 killed Andries Tatane, killed Marikana mine workers, supported the commoditization of education and all the evils that have befallen South Africa in the last 22 years.” I’m sure the Pastor has forgotten that the mother-body of Pasma, the PAC, voted in 1994. Is he saying that the PAC must take responsibility for Tatane and Marikana by the mere act of voting in 1994? But Skosana forgets that his Azapo actually went into the system just four years later – in 1999 Azapo participated in elections. This was long before Tatane and Marikana. What happens now to his earlier claim? But it gets worse – Azapo was invited and accepted a Ministerial role. It served the ANC neo-colonial anti black government. This is what we meant by, “if one has no theory one tends to even get the facts wrong”.
Lets conclude with a note on blunders. The so-called blunder we are supposed to have committed by going into the EFF, is a blunder we are happy to commit again under similar circumstances. We don’t regret our political decisions. We acted on the basis of the information and analysis applicable at the time. We want to make a revolution and therefore gravitate towards revolutionary rupture. We don’t have reputations to worry about. We only are true to our beliefs. As soon as our beliefs had no more room inside EFF we left or were kicked out. We have done the work we set ourselves to. We introduced ideas to a layer of fighting young people which some still struggle to realize. On our part, we learnt from a mass movement and emerged better organizers. Yes, its a blunder if one is invested in a particular image of oneself. The blunder of demanding that R26 billion be accounted for is slowly shifting the narrative towards white corruption. Similarly whilst there may be social media spats about the #HandsOffZumaEconomicLiberationNow campaign, on the ground the masses of our people have received our message with great enthusiasm. BLF is helping the ordinary people to understand imperialism and to tower above politics into a Black Agenda. We are in a good place.
No! We shall not be subjecting ourselves to any pompous councils to drive egoistical agendas. We are not ashamed to demand Hands Off Zuma we want Economic Liberation Now!
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