home Black Opinion, News Awaiting Trial and Waiting in Vain to Vote

Awaiting Trial and Waiting in Vain to Vote

By Lindsay Maasdorp

The Local Government Elections (LGE) are 3 days away and the rallies around the country have taken on magnanimous proportions. Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Mmusi Maimane stooped to an all time low when he promised a revolution through the vote and not the barrel of a gun. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has postered the country, promising flushing toilets and service delivery. All of this actually translate to  a revolution postponed. The kings of fooling the masses, the African National Congress (ANC), undoubtedly pulled off the most innovative final campaigning weekend ensuring live media feeds that would see them use 8 stadiums to coax the population.

Black First Land First (BLF) won’t be contesting this LGE, but will be supporting those candidates who form part of the Azanian school of thought (Black Consciousness & Pan-Afrikanism) and subscribe to both the Sankara Oath and the Sankara Local Government Manifesto. On Saturday 30 July 2016  Seth Mazibuko, on behalf of the Orlando Task Team (OTT), endorsed the Sankara Oath and by extension the Sankarist credo for LGE at the historic Orlando East Rugby Ground. The said rugby ground has become the site of sharp struggle as the residents continue to resist government appropriation of the land in service of white capital.   A significant aspect of Mazibuko’s living legacy is that he was one of those who led the June 16, 1976 Soweto Uprising and has continued to champion the needs of the community including leading the people in struggle against metered electricity and water, evictions, inadequate housing and landlessness. He is also involved in interventions to resolve family feuds in a restorative rather than a punitive way. 

As the BLF National Secretary of Student Affairs and one who is in cadreship with those who come from the Azanian school, where do I stand on this issue under consideration and who will I vote for?

The student movement loudly proclaimed “no free education, no vote” but we have subsequently seen student leaders migrate to their respective movements to campaign for elections. Others, like the PAC and PASMA, who have said “No Land No Vote” have done the same.

Lenin teaches us that parliamentary politics is a tactical position and not a matter of principle. So the question for me has mostly been informed by what will push us towards revolution. Well this has been the case up until I spent 7 days in the Pretoria Central Prison recently. Before that I was inclined to vote for the PAC. Notwithstanding the worrying notion that those elected into structures of governance have not used their positions as a medium to conscientise and urge the revolution forward. Sankara has all but been forgotten. Nevertheless my hope has been that perhaps we can develop a new kind of leadership the displays the servant leadership BLF envisages.

On final reflection, I have been thinking of what voting means to this country. A time that offers a false sense of hope and a rising lack of responsibility to the new society we need to create. I remember that even though this “democratic” dispensation lauds the vote, thousands of awaiting trial prisoners will not have the option to make their X. They have not had the option to participate in understanding the position of the political parties. Now on the day that this country ostensibly offers the opportunity to all to vote so as to make a difference in their future, those behind prison bars who have been denied real justice by the anti black system are left outside the electoral system.

I am not arguing for the vote as a means to change society, neither am I saying voting should not be done. This is merely an acknowledgment that a segment of this population who are encountering the full brutality of an anti-black judiciary, and whom I would argue are among the most needing of social change, have no opportunity to participate in what this country says is the most heightened form of changing ones life.

I raise the issue of the awaiting trial prisoners being denied the opportunity to participate in the electoral process, to bring awareness to the unfortunate anti black situation of these people who are in the first place denied of real justice and secondly silenced by being denied the right to vote. The awaiting trial prisoners of the Pretoria Central Prison have via their interaction with the BLF26 placed the plight of awaiting trial prisoners nationally on the revolutionary agenda.  The call in this respect is clear – end the unjust prison system, it’s the right thing to do! 

It is for the above reasons that I have decided to stand in solidarity with the awaiting trial prisoners, particularly those who I related to at the Pretoria Central Prison.  I will not be voting in this Local Government Election.

Lindsay Maasdorp is the National Secretary for Student Affairs of the Black First Land First Student Movement (BLF-SM)

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