home Andile's Column #BLF26 Political Education Prison Curriculum: Pretoria Central Maximum Security Prison

#BLF26 Political Education Prison Curriculum: Pretoria Central Maximum Security Prison

By BO Staff Writer

From discussions with BLF26 comrades during the prison visit on 19 – 24 July 2016. Also see previous discussions published in Black Opinion on theme 1 and 2 as well as engagements in the women’s section of the prison.

Theme 3: Amilcar Cabral

“Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children .”


The above adage by Cabral should serve as a guide to all aspects of organizing and mobilizing the masses into action and in general to all aspects of struggle. To this end the struggles of our people regarding land, decent housing, sanitation, free quality education, an end to outsourcing, clean running water etcetera must find resolution in a system that is responsive to their total needs.

Cabral’s political orientation and ideological perspective suggests that while “the people are not fighting for ideas or for things in anyone’s head”, their ideas are nonetheless an abstraction of life itself. To this end he was clear that without a revolutionary theory we can’t make a revolution. He said, “(i)f it is true that a revolution can fail even though it is based on perfectly conceived theories — nobody has yet made a successful revolution without a revolutionary theory.”

Cabral put a huge premium on political education. He called for a thorough appreciation of the imperialist enemy as well as an analysis of the anti-colonial struggle so as to appreciate the need to struggle for the total destruction of colonialism. He insisted that “(f)requent meetings must be held to explain to the population what is happening in the struggle, what the Party is endeavouring to do at any given moment, and what the criminal intentions of the enemy may be”.

He directed that the armed forces be politically trained. He was very clear in this respect:

“Hold frequent meetings. Demand serious political work from political commissars. Start political committees, formed by the political commissar and commander of each unit in the regular army”.

While other leaders of liberation struggles in Africa channeled the power of their fighting people into settlement with the neo colonial and neo liberal agenda of white power as soon as “independence” was attained, Cabral in Guinea Bissau, stressed “that the national liberation struggle is a revolution, and that it is not over at the moment when the flag is hoisted and the national anthem is played”. In this context he pointed out that “so long as imperialism is in existence, an independent African state must be a liberation movement in power, or it will not be independent”

On what it means to be a revolutionary

Members must “dedicate themselves seriously to study”. Furthermore they must “interest themselves in the things and problems of our daily life and struggle in their fundamental and essential aspect, and not simply in their appearance. Learn from life, learn from our people, learn from books, learn from the experience of others. Never stop learning”.

Cabral called for members to “take life seriously, conscious of their responsibilities, thoughtful about carrying them out, and with a comradeship based on work and duty done”.

In the same breathe he said, “(n)nothing of this is incompatible with the joy of living, or with love for life and its amusements, or with confidence in the future and in our work….”

He pointed out that revolutionary democracy must be adhered to “in every aspect of our Party life” and “(e)very responsible member must have the courage of his responsibilities, exacting from others a proper respect for his work and properly respecting the work of others”.

Cabral solidifies the constitution of a revolutionary with the following code of conduct:

“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories . .”


1. Amilcar Cabral, “Unity & Struggle”
2. Amilcar Cabral, “Tell no lies, Claim no easy victories…”. See link: https://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/cabral/1965/tnlcnev.htm

Theme 4: On the question of power

1. Does the ANC have political power, if not what does it have?


The ANC is the administrator of white power, it’s serves therefore as the body guard of white power.

Section 25 of the Constitution guarantees colonial property relations by providing for expropriation of land with compensation that is “just and equitable”. The Constitutional Court (CC) has already decided on the fact that “just and equitable” is compensation that is market related. To this end if the new Expropriation Bill is passed, the issue of compensation will be determined by the CC which in turn will follow its own precedent and reinforce the status quo. The SA Constitution, by not acknowledging the colonial theft of black land makes provision for expropriation of land with compensation and in so doing contains land repossession within the logic of the market. The Constitution is accordingly anti black.

2. Is the EFF capable of providing an alternative agenda that can counter the anti black
agenda of the ANC?


The EFF like the ANC has no political will to struggle for the total destruction of colonialism, neo colonialism and imperialism.

The EFF’s aspirations are limited to toppling President Zuma and having him replaced with someone favored by the pro imperialist London agenda and to thereby retain the legacy of the ANC being the anti black system of constitutional democracy. For the EFF, the problem is not the ANC, the problem is who leads the ANC.

Accordingly the EFF is building the ANC outside the ANC and hence stands in the way of our people attaining freedom.

2. How do we conceptualize the Leninist idea of the withering away of the state in the context of resolving both economic and political power at the same time?


Historical practice has indicated how bourgeois democratic revolution or even new democractic revolution (which is meant to bring political freedom) has found conclusion in state capitalism and the reversal of the gains of the revolution without any meaningful progress being made towards economic freedom.

Some basic understanding of Lenin’s “State and Revolution” is instructive in order to conceptualize the process of “the withering away of the state” in the context of the possibility of attaining both political and economic power at the same time.

In State and Revolution Lenin posed the following crucial question: Could the existing capitalist state be taken over and used to advance the interests of the downtrodden masses?

He argued that the existing capitalist state cannot be reformed, but must be overthrown
He saw the state as an organ of class rule, for the oppression of one class by another class. He envisioned the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the class struggle continuing under socialism until a state of equilibrium was reached at which point the political arm of the state will fall away ( whither away) while the administrative arm will necessarily continue.

Lenin’s vision of the dictatorship of the proletariat is based on Marx’s descriptions of the Paris Commune of 1871, when workers organised a new type of state based on elected officials who were paid a workers’ wage and recallable. This state will exercise a dictatorship over the former oppressors so as to prevent them from ever rising again as an aggressive force and taking over and a democracy over the former oppressed until the oppressed achieve real freedom.

The question of how to attain both political and economic power at the same time can only reach resolution via its location and elaboration within the actual process of the withering away of the state itself.

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