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A Response to Steve Lebelo

By Mandla Mbuyisa

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial convenor of the Black First Land First (BLF) movement Thobani Zikalala usually says, “People are not obliged to comment on everything”, and today I dedicate these words to Malesela Steve Lebelo. In the South African politics, recycling has become a norm – where people take serious platforms and say nothing; this is a sign of intellectual laziness – and it is our responsibility as revolutionaries to ensure that this is responded to.

Here, I seek to deal with Lebelo’s article titled “The cannibalising of Biko’s thinking simply cannot go unchallenged.” According to Lebelo, the main purpose of his article is to try and deal with the contradictions within modern Black Consciousness (BC) philosophy. He argues that BLF national convenor, Andile Mngxitama has assumed a monopoly of BC philosophy today in South Africa – using it to further his own personal agendas.

As I read through his article, I was left with two basic questions: What is the thesis of this article? What exactly is Lebelo differing with and how?

In BLF we have a principle called “peace amongst blacks” which is a result of BC teachings. This principle teaches us that our main enemy is white settler colonialism and that we must never fight or seek to destroy other black people. On the other hand, white settler neo-colonialism has its own principle called “divide and rule” which it uses to destroy the black nation. The divide and rule principle made (and continues to make) it easy for blacks to hate each other and fight each other instead of fighting against the settlers (white people) who stole and continue to steal from us while bouncing around arrogantly after looting. As a movement we believe that Africa is at war with itself because it lacks BC and does not practice the principle of “peace amongst blacks.”

In his article Lebelo says, “the deluded Andile Mngxitama and Mzwandile Manyi argue that by defending Jacob Zuma and the Guptas they are striking a blow for BC against white monopoly capital. This is a fallacy of epic proportions, a gross misreading of BC philosophy, driven by nefarious intentions.” It seems Lebelo fails to understand that currently in South Africa, there is an onslaught from white supremacy and imperialism. This imperialist agenda translates to the white constructed agenda that says #ZumaMustGo which argues that President Jacob Zuma is no longer fit to be the president of the country because of his “corrupt” ways. It is only BLF which has come with a clear position against imperialism that says #HandsOffZuma #EconomicLiberationNow.

This position must be understood correctly. This position is at first instance a BC position – one that says a black person is under attack from white people so we have a duty to defend them.

Since the 1994 negotiated settlement, white people in this country have never protested as a group, but we saw them last year in December protesting – and their basic demand was that #ZumaMustGo. As black people – we must ask ourselves what does this mean?

The call for Zuma to go has largely been influenced and inspired by opposition parties in parliament. One party in particular, the black and so-called “socialist” Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), has come out guns blazing against Zuma, even saying they will work with anyone who believes that #ZumaMustGo, even if it means working with white racist organisations such as the Democratic Alliance (DA) and AfriForum. In that instance we must then ask ourselves, “what do we do when whites attack blacks?” BC teaches us that we move quickly to protect the black person from white racist attack.

BLF is not going to be used in service of a white imperialist agenda. We will not be told by white people how to resolve issues with our black leaders – whether they are good or bad. We will not assist white people to lynch President Zuma because of white interests. It is us as black people who have a bone to pick with President Zuma not white people.

However, we also know that South Africa is a neo-colonial state which is managed by the African National Congress (ANC) via its marginal political power. Since 1994, white supremacy has been managed and guarded by the ANC rule because the ANC runs a state which has monopoly over violence. Mngxitama further says “1994 has created an additional problem for black people called the ANC,” a party which is the bodyguard of white capital. This means that we have to deal with the ANC because its blocks us from fighting whiteness. But the question is how?

We cannot speak about decolonization and not speak about the ANC because the ANC has to be destroyed, and the only way to destroy the ANC is by exposing the ANC for what it is. The first thing we must do as a revolutionary duty is to show black people who support the ANC, what it is. Black people must be won over from the ANC to the side of the revolution. As Mngxitama advices, “we cannot allow the recreation of many ANC’s,” such as the militant ANC in red called the EFF.

(A Power FM interview between Steve Lebelo and Andile Mngxitama)

“The responsibility of BC today is to make visible the invisible hand of white monopoly capital,” says Andile Mngxitama.

The question of state capture today is posed as if South Africa has been free from capture by white forces. We know that the South African state has never been free from white rule and domination – from 1652 till now. That’s why we must always change the narrative from SA being captured by Zuma and the Guptas to it be captured by the real capturers – white capitalists like the Ruperts and the Oppenheimers. As a revolutionary force we must always expose lies.

BLF is an anti-imperialist movement and at all times we struggle to ensure that imperialism is crippled – hence we take the conversation further than ‘state capture’, but to an imperialist question. We believe that South Africa is under attack and under threat from the imperialist regime change agenda – and this is not an abstract guesswork but a reality after the Brazil coup. Zuma is also under attack because of BRICS and other things he has done to antagonise white capital.

Lebelo must go read and analyse the intellectual documents explaining our position on Zuma, using an anti-imperialism analysis. We borrow from Mao Zedong’s analysis on how to combat imperialism and the first thing he teaches us is that fighting imperialism is only progressive if at the same time it advances the national liberation struggle of the oppressed people. That’s why after saying #HandsOffZuma we say #EconomicLiberationNow.

In a Black Opinion article titled “On hands off Zuma and tactics against imperialism – interview with my uncle” Mngxitama shares how his uncle reminds us of Mao and how he fought imperialism in China and how Mao went into an “anti-Japanese imperialism” front with Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang which was as reactionary as the ANC. He further tells us that Mao and his communist party had been involved in an armed struggle against Chiang Kai-shek for national liberation against the 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.

BLF is as clear as Mao – 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.

This kind of thinking requires serious reading and analysing and we suggest that Lebelo deal with his intellectual laziness, along with those who believe that there was an imperialist coup in Brazil under the pretext of fighting against corruption, but when it comes to South Africa they are pro-imperialist. Can that be possible?

Mao outlines that “when the revolutionary situation changes, revolutionary tactics and methods of leadership must change accordingly”.

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