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On hands off Zuma and tactics against imperialism – interview with my uncle

By Andile Mngxitama

Yesterday, 1 October 2016, I did the mandatory trip to Bloemfontein to see my uncle who is incarcerated there. In my family there is always at least one of us in the white man’s jail at any given time. I’m not ashamed of this at all because I know what it means to be black in a racist society. Anyway, this uncle was in exile after the June 16, 1976 uprising. He then spent over 6 years in Robben Island. He was subsequently charged, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment but is appealing his conviction. He is a black consciousness adherent and the first Maoist I know. He is also my political mentor.

We spent an hour and half catching up on the political process in South Africa. His first question was direct –  “what’s this thing about hands off Zuma?”. I gathered that in prison news trickles in and no access to social media and internet means alternative views are blocked. So I explained the position of BLF from an anti imperialist perspective using Mao Zedong’s analysis and directives. I provided a factual scenario upon which an analysis could be developed. I explained that the threat of the anti BRICS imperialist regime change agenda is not an abstract postulation but a concrete fact after the Brazil coup. I saw his smiles. I then emphasized that if BLF is wrong on its analysis of the coup in Brazil then our position on the imperialist plot to remove President Zuma and replace him with a puppet of their choice would be equally wrong. He nodded. I then established the second factual point. I explained that Zuma has frightened white capital by appointing a Minister of Finance who was not pre-approved by the two families that control South Africa – the Oppenheimers and the Ruperts. He jumps in and says, “of course both Mandela and Mbeki consulted white capital on Treasury appointments”. I then provided the last demand of black consciousness. I said that once white capital and imperialism attacked Zuma it became our duty to defend him without stopping our legitimate battle against the neo colony.

He agreed but said that the best ideological explanation of BLF’s position is a Maoist take. The student then reclined as the master articulated. He told me that we need to go back to Mao in 1935 and his speech, “on tactics against Japanese imperialism”.
To this end he explained that if BLF’s analysis is factually correct on the anti BRICS imperialist moves and the intentions of white capital with regards to Zuma, then our position is the most progressive. He pointed out that fighting imperialism is only progressive if at the same time it advances the struggle of the oppressed at a national level. I then explained the minimum demands made by BLF to Zuma. He responded that BLF has moved beyond being bogged down by petty politics. But he insisted that to make progress BLF must win the masses and the progressive elements of the petty bourgeoisie such as the students and small scale black business because they are threatened by imperialism. He then laments the theoretical under-development of the Azanian school on imperialism.

He proceeded to explain in great detail how Mao went into an “anti-Japanese imperialism” front with Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang which in turn was as reactionary as the ANC. Mao and his Communist Party had been involved in an armed struggle against Chiang Kai-shek for national liberation against the national neo colonialists.  But when Japanese imperialism struck, Mao designed a front with his national enemy to fight imperialism without compromising the fight for national liberation. Mao was as clear as BLF is – land thieves and the running dogs of imperialism must be isolated, exposed and defeated together with imperialism as well as white settler monopoly capital which is an extension of imperialism.

As we parted ways he laughed and said, “BLF is more Maoist than Maoists “. I had an intellectually and ideologically fulfilling visit to prison. Late at night I read Mao’s 1935 speech. On the question of the “national united front”, he criticized his comrades who opposed the front for “closed-doorism” and a sense of hurriedness that existed in the party regarding the revolution. He puts the broad basis of a united front on this: “(w)hen the revolutionary situation changes, revolutionary tactics and methods of leadership must change accordingly”.

We are on course, #HandsOffZumaEconomicLiberationNow!


1. “On tactics against Japanese imperialism” by Mao Zedong. See link: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-1/mswv1_11.htm
2. “Why BLF Calls for Hands Off Zuma and demands Economic Liberation Now!” by Andile Mngxitama. See link: http://blackopinion.co.za/2016/09/05/blf-calls-hands-off-zuma-demands-economic-liberation-now/

Andile Mngxitama is the National Convener of Black First Land First

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