By Thobani Zikalala & Sipho Ntombela
Black people have been made to be accustomed to poverty. We have been living in a state of sub-human existence since the arrival of white settlers in the Cape in 1652. Black people suffered extreme poverty and derision during the periods of land dispossession, Bantustans, apartheid and even in the “new dispensation” they are in the same state of misery. It has become unrealistic for us to demand what we should be getting without even begging for it. All of our lives we only know suffering, we end up thinking we deserve the shacks in squatter camps which leak during rainy seasons and are scorching hot in summer.
Throughout history, there has never been a point where black people were humanized. Since slavery and colonialism, we have never undergone a process of, as Steve Biko would say, pumping life into the black body. That’s the reason why it will always be unrealistic for blacks to imagine themselves outside of the chains we were told are ‘normal part of life for your kind’!
South Africa is a country which is known for its rich mineral resources, ranging from gold, coal, platinum, diamonds and so on. It is a country with an estimated mineral resources worth of R20,3 trillion – yes, underneath this soil there is over R20 trillion of wealth. The disturbing thing is obviously how the ownership or participation patterns in this economy are formed. White people own the mining industry and only a select few privileged blacks have been allowed to penetrate it. So it’s clear that South Africa is not a poor country, it is just that the wealth of this country is not shared equally and this is the cause of black poverty.
Black First Land First (BLF) has committed itself to ensure:
• Land will be given to whoever needs it.
• Full employment, if not, training for all unemployed citizens and if the government fails to employ them, a R5000 monthly allowance must be paid by the state until the state employs them.
• The living wage of R12 500 should be the minimum wage for every employed citizen.
• R5000 pension for the elderly.
• R2000 child support grant.
• Full employment for graduates, if not, the basic average income of that specific field should be paid by the state until it employs every graduate.
When BLF recently released a poster with a brief summary of these demands, some called these demands unrealistic. On the contrary they are very realistic and possible. BLF is forcing the nation to imagine a new possibility – a Black socialist state where every citizen benefits directly from the proceeds of the country’s wealth. We bare reference to Libya, a country where every citizen received equal dividends to the oil proceeds directly to their bank accounts, a country with free healthcare & electricity, no Interest on loans because the banks were state-owned. In Libya, all unemployed graduates got paid the average payment for that specific profession. They got land for Libyans who wished to farm accompanied with full support and free education. Libya did all of this precisely because the state (as custodian of the people) had control of its land, economy and mineral resources.
What BLF demands is something that has been done before and could be done here in South Africa, only if the land (mines, caves, seas, resorts, plaza’s, estates) is expropriated without compensation and the basic tenets of radical economic transformation (nationalization of the South African Reserve Bank, implementation of the Mining Charter, State Bank, 90% local content, free decolonized education) are achieved.
BLF is not a political party, it is a revolutionary movement. As such, the corrupt, dishonest and ever deceitful ways of politicians can never see through these primary demands BLF makes. We calls for a Sankarist leadership ethos – what is good for the masses is good for the leaders/politicians and public servants. BLF seeks to make it law for Members of Parliament (MPs) and all public servants to use public schools, public clinics and public hospitals. We believe that no MP or public servant should earn more than three times the minimum wage. No public servant should fly business class while the masses use economy class. BLF advocates for an extreme reduction of the benefits MPs get, that includes the car allowances, free flights, phone, tablet & laptop allowances, and the housing allowance. BLF envisions a people-orientated leadership which is anti-corruption and motivated by Thomas Sankara.
South Africa is not poor! Black people are excluded from the economy. Black people have nothing of their own in their country, the settlers have rendered themselves as landlords and us as tenants.
The only solution is to #TakeBLFToParliament!
Thobani Zikalala is the Provincial Spokesperson of BLF in KZN & Sipho Ntombela is the Chairperson of BLF UKZN Howard College branch.