/ 10 July 2014

Letters to the editor: July 11 to 17 2014

Readers are divided over the political direction taken by Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters.
Readers are divided over the political direction taken by Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters.

EFF has united divided left

Imraan Buccus’s harsh criticism of the Economic Freedom Fighters’s (EFF’s) “authoritarian” leadership style was completely unjustified, especially from a political activist (” A democratic option needed for Malema-tarianism“).

First, let’s set the record straight: after several failed attempts at black consciousness (BC) unity talks, two of the most radical sections of the Black Consciousness Movement, the Black Consciousness Party and the September National Imbizo, signed a pact with the EFF, translating into dual membership. The Socialist Party of Azania is also understood to be keen on signing the same pact, leaving Azapo on the periphery of the left political landscape.

It is now an open secret that the Pan Africanist Congress is committed to establishing working relations with the EFF, and recently the parties shared political platforms as a gesture of unity.

This is very progressive, but some BC intellectuals remain sceptical. Yet the recent election results endorse the unity of the Black Consciousness Movement and the EFF as a viable alternative.

As an established academic, Buccus has at his disposal the means to convene a BC-aligned seminar where BC leaders such as Nkosi Molala, Azwi Tshitangano, Andile Mngxitama and Lybon Mabasa could give their perspectives. That would be a display of political maturity and responsibility.

Buccus assumes there is no justification for a constitutional amendment to implement radical policies such as land redistribution and nationalisation. Why are these two economic policies so contested?

There is merit in the argument that economic transformation can be implemented within the current constitutional dispensation but such an argument is superseded by a political-economy argument, which claims the South African capitalist economic system still racially segregates us, is super-exploitative and responsible for massive inequality in our country.

The reality is that the ruling party and the ruling class have put their self-serving interests above the interests of the poor black majority. The EFF’s accusation that the ruling party is anti-black is justifiable. The truth about how the South African ruling class, with the assistance of foreign superpowers, has manipulated our country’s politics and mechanised our pseudo-democracy is well documented.

The ruling party’s failures can be seen in its gross miscalculations when dealing with dissent, the Marikana massacre and the failure to regulate party funding. Because these failures are of the ANC’s own doing, who should take blame?

The ANC prides itself on respecting the Constitution but does not initiate constitutional measures without being pushed. Instead, the media investigates if leading members of the ANC are hiding something, and it turns out they are.

The challenge we are posing to radical intellectuals such as Buccus and what remains of Azapo is to try to avoid intellectual traps. They need to engage with the EFF policy framework, read the EFF manifesto, critique its political and socioeconomic standpoints and propose consolidated alternatives.

What is more urgent for all these radical intellectuals, however, is to critique how the struggle was betrayed, contributing to what is fast becoming a humanitarian crisis arising from unemployment and the abject poverty that is exacerbating racial inequality. – Phezukonke Ntetha, EFF member, KwaZulu-Natal

– Marxism-Leninism is the only political, economic and social mechanism that can transform the lives of many people in many different parts of the world.

It has been claimed by the EFF, with its ultra-leftist tendencies and pseudo-revolutionaries. But, using the lenses of Marxism-Leninism appropriately, one can see that Julius Malema is not a revolutionary leader. Sloganising socialism will not bring about its attainment.

The confused EFF claims to be a revolutionary movement but lacks the required features of such a formation. It lacks a true ideological identity and it imitates the distinctiveness of the ANC. Perhaps the EFF reads a different Marx and Lenin from the usual ones.

The EFF claims to be a vanguard of the working class and the poor, in the manner of the true representative of that, the South African Communist Party. The EFF’s aim is not to transform the lives of our people but to destabilise the tripartite alliance and fight personal battles against ANC leaders at the expense of the working class and the poor. – Bhekithemba Mbatha

–  Andile Mngxitama’s Letter from Parliament calls for a rejoinder.

It is no credit to Mngxitama’s formidable intellect that he chooses to defend the antics of his party, the EFF, in recent weeks: to wit, the flouting of the dress code – if we can call it that – of Parliament.

That puerile gesture is being reinforced by Mngxitama’s naive grandstanding about the land question.

It is easy to be seduced by the glib logic of the evils of colonialism and the rhetoric of land grabs by the poor and hungry masses. If the reality was that simple, we would not have Zimbabweans streaming into South Africa. (Incidentally, how much did Julius Malema’s farm add to the gross domestic product of this country?)

Mngxitama’s sense of irony seems to have deserted him when he writes: “It’s a well-known trick that thugs and hooligans hide behind suits to conduct their evil deeds.”

He has seemingly forgotten that not so long ago his party boss, Malema, and his bodyguards made several appearances in court dressed in expensive suits and red ties.

Those images bore eloquent testimony to the naked display of thuggery by Malema and his gang. Nothing they do in Parliament should surprise us. But what is surprising to me is that Mngxitama has also joined the red berets. – Harry Sewlall, Johannesburg  

I’ve learnt that Biko’s legacy goes beyond race and place
I have just finished reading Max du Preez’s prize-winning book, Rumours of Spring.

I discovered that South Africa is not Bosnia nor Rwanda, and that Nelson Mandela was made by this place, as was Moshoeshoe and I.

I learnt not to be oversensitive to being called a white racist pig, to be able to bear historical rage and to just be. And I learnt that South Africa is not Uganda or Zimbabwe, or any other sub-Saharan African country: 8.9% of the population are whites who call themselves African, even if no one else does – and nothing will change this.

I learnt that black consciousness and consciousness of whiteness are both about destroying master and slave mentalities, and about being able to live with pride and being able to live with oneself.

I learnt that the legacy of Steve Biko goes beyond race and place and time to something more universal; something more lasting and real than hate, and something more akin to ubuntu than shame. – Andrew Pringle, Tarkastad