By Mandla Mbuyisa and Mlungisi Ngubane
‘‘I want to go a little deeper in this discussion because it is time we killed this false political coalition between blacks and whites.’’-Steve Bantubonke Biko
Andile Mngxitama’s letter to his former comrades (EFF) comes after the Local Government Elections, in which the EFF is said to be holding the piece to complete the puzzle – that is to say EFF has the power to ensure that the majority of black people lives are improved by taking a radical step ‘to end politics, using politics’ as Sankara would say. The EFF has posed as a Sankarist movement. Recalling the first days of the EFF when it was introduced to parliament a lot of people used to say they were the ‘new kids on the block – Sankara’s kids who refused to eat expensive food provided by parliament at the expense of tax payers’ money. We saw the feet of these new ‘kids’ outside and inside parliament – Leninist style. We saw this in the the march led from Alexander to Sandton (dubbed ‘from hell to heaven’) by the then MP of the EFF now the National Convenor of the Black First Land First Movement Andile Mngxitama and the black ‘radical pastor’ Xola Skosana mounted pressure on the MP’s to use cheaper state apparatus i.e. (cars, public hospitals, public schools for their children). The EFF was the only vocal movement that exposed the habits adopted by the ANC and the holy un-corruptible DA as well as the other small opposition parties in that they were not prepared to utilize the substandard services that the government was giving the people.
The EFF from its birth was mouthful on the Thomas Sankara OATH, which speaks a language of the (black) people first. The interview of Andile Mngxitama, before the September National Imbizo (SNI) joined the EFF, had placed on the table that for SNI to join EFF it must first adopt the document called the People’s Manifesto (PM), which reads:
‘‘We promise the politicians nothing! We demand that they deliver everything!’’
The PM, besides capturing the Sankarist leadership ethos, also points to what Steve Biko calls the quest for a true humanity. Politicians have no power. In this context, the PM armed the EFF with a mechanism capable of elaborating a totally responsive state and to this end offered a preview of what the ‘the government in waiting’ would do upon taking power. It also suggests the EFF as being a radical vanguard movement with a revolutionary program.
The most radical step that the EFF can take is to firstly take the advice of Biko that the fight is not merely against the government, but also against the entire system. Therefore the grudges which have nothing to do with the people – being the grudges between the EFF leadership and Jacob Zuma – must not be an opium of the people. The EFF President, Julius Malema, normally makes reference to Biko and Sobukwe in his addresses and other public engagements but to what extent is his party willing to put both of these leaders ideological perspectives (Black Consciousness and Pan Afrikanism) to practise? is it going to end as merely being rhetoric? To this end an enquiry into the actual politics guiding the EFF is necessary.
Back to Mngxitama’s letter. The EFF failed to respond to the letter, even its chief ideologue Floyd Shivambu failed to do so. However, one fellow from WASP tried to respond to the letter but he failed because he is a race denialist, a Marxist reductionist for whom class not race is the determinant of the struggle. The spirit of his letter is best described as ‘left wing opposition infantile disorder’. It denies the EFF’s imperialist links whilst dramatizing those of the ANC. It assumes that the EFF is a revolutionary movement without providing any evidence for this. It makes contradictory claims that the masses are turning away from the ANC and at the same turning towards reaction because there is no left alternative. This left wing fellow has nothing to say to the 16 million working class people who continue to vote for the ANC and 2 million who have voted for the EFF. And for him because the ANC is reactionary no demands must be made on it and to this end the working class shall magically through experience gain radical consciousness. The main flaw of the infantile left wing disorder is to assume that there is a difference between the ANC and EFF. Secondly, he fails to see how the demands on both the EFF and the ANC that Mngxitama has made contributes to raising a radical imagination and at the same time exposes both the ANC and the EFF as parties of reaction. The open letter is not based on assuming that either the ANC or the EFF are progressive. In fact the letter calls them to the path of revolutionary service and courage. The class warrior of WASP has nothing to say about how to use the current electoral impasse and weaknesses of the ANC to advance a radical agenda. Also, he doesn’t say why (by his logic) is it wrong to trade votes for LAND return?? Lenin long time ago advised that the infantile left wing opposition is essentially reactionary and has nothing to offer the shrugging people under oppression.
Now it seems as if the EFF did not understand Mngxitama’s suggestion that it must not form a coalition with the racist DA which depends on the market forces dictating the creation of jobs and wants to focus on skills development and reviewing BEE. The DA has not moved and will never move from its liberal, race-less and ahistorical economics which serves white power and maintains the current economic patterns that exclude black people. Mngxitama suggested that the EFF form a coalition with the ANC for these 2 reasons:
1. The ANC is the ruling party which has the legislative majority, and
2. The ANC has the power to change national policy
This is not to say that the EFF by forming a coalition with the ANC would have been begging the ruling party but it would instead have been pushing it to do what is correct because from 1912 they have been failing. In this regard Guevara tells us that ‘revolution is not an apple that falls from a tree, you have to make it fall’’ – the EFF does not understand this basic truth! The EFF stood to lose nothing by forming a coalition with the ANC because their coalition was going to be principled. Now the EFF has lost everything. It has evidently sold out black people by forming a coalition with the DA as is the case in Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay. The EFF has been captured by what Masixole Mlandu calls “nyaope politics” that in turn makes them think that they can solve black people’s problem using a bilateral approach involving both black and white. And Biko has already warned us that such an approach erroneously suggests integration (not as an end goal) but as a means.
The wisdom of Kwame Toure that “(t)he duty of the conscious is to make the unconscious, conscious” strikes at the face of those who have claimed to understand Black Consciousness and Pan Afrikanism yet their practice suggests otherwise. The response to Mngxitama’s letter has failed to engage the content. It suggests a chronological ‘blackout’, a sense of blatant historical amnesia. Some people have been constantly asking absurd questions such as, why did Mngxitama write an open letter? Why didn’t he engage the EFF directly? These are the same people who claim to read and grasp the Marxist-Leninist-Fanonian school of thought (that EFF claims to adhere to). They also insinuate that Mngxitama is lying and to this end cite Carbral saying, “hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures…”
It’s fascinating to witnesses such ideological and historical amnesia. Needless to say that history informs our present; the present informs our future. We look back to Biko when he penned the article, “Fragmentation of the Black Resistance”, which seeks to warn people like Gatsha Buthelezi and Matanzima on ‘working within the system’. It must be remembered that the BCM had no interest in assuming a position of claiming only unproductive land as these Bantustan leaders did, but all the land. This approach was in line with Kwame Toure’s wisdom. The article in point in which he (Biko) argues that these apartheid homeland institutions have swallowed too many who would be useful in a meaningful programme, speaks directly to what he saw as a need to rally for black solidarity. The article goes on to suggest that the accusation of collaboration with the system by virtue of our silence is justified. This just speaks to the lesson of
Julius Malema, Andile Mngxitama, Black Consciousness, Steve Biko, EFF, Economic Freedom Fighters, Local Government Elections, Thomas Sankara, Sankara Oath, Xola Skosana, Lenin, September National Imbizo, SNI, Peoples Manifesto, Robert Sobukwe, Pan Afrikanism, Marxism, WASP, Floyd Shivambu, ANC, DA, Coalition, Franz Fanon, Gatsha Buthelezi, Kwame Toure, Malcom X,
when he said “there comes a time when silence on its own becomes betrayal”.
To make more historic reference of this nature – Aton Lembede and the Congress Youth League (now ANCYL) did give ideological direction to the ANC (before the adoption of the Freedom Charter). Sobukwe, after his departure from the ANC, called for an anti-pass march. To this end he did the revolutionary thing by inviting the ANC but the then ANC President shunned the call. The said ANC President later wanted to bask in the sunlight but Sobukwe without hesitation wrote a letter discarding his actions. We look to Biko and we defeat fear as he puts it to us that, “(w)e must resist all attempts at the fragmentation of our resistance” and “(w)e must never deny history just to suit our dead bodies”. It must be remembered that Biko himself died attempting to unite these resistance parties.
The historic and ideological background above suggests a logical conclusion. A harsh lesson for us, the oppressed, is that if we turn a blind eye to our reality we might suffer another blow resulting in a ‘freedom’ that is false. It is Fanon who made a bold call to revolution when he said that we must end the world as we know it. The question is, by ‘voting’ DA are we ending the world as we know it or are we maintaining the system?
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