To enjoy the full Mail & Guardian online experience: please upgrade your browser
23 May 2016 00:00
On housing, the Black Agenda proposes that townships be eradicated through various interventions. (David Harrison)
On a cold rainy day in Soweto, the Black First Land First (BLF) movement was formally launched. The May 14 conference
was attended by more than a thousand delegates from across the country under
the theme “Black Agenda for Black Liberation”.
The meeting was addressed by a
range of speakers including Pastor Xola Skhosana, of the Way of Life Kilombo in
Khayelitsha, and veteran social and women’s liberation activist Bev Ditsie, who
both emphasised the point that democracy didn’t liberate black people.
The main objective of the conference
was to adopt the Black Agenda, the policy statement of the BLF.
important and innovative proposals, including how to undertake a land revolution.
The problems of South Africa are all traceable back to land dispossession,
which began in 1652 with the arrival of white settlers.
BLF rests on two philosophical
pillars: Pan-Africanism, honouring the contributions of Robert Sobukwe, and
Black Consciousness as espoused by Steve Biko – hence its policy excludes white
people from membership just as Biko’s Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) did.
According to this reading, the 1994 democratic process changed nothing for
black people. It merely inaugurated a new veneer for the colonial white
supremacist reality with new managers who happen to be black.
The Black Agenda outlines how to decolonise
education in the long-term. To resolve the education crisis, including the low
quality education for black children in townships, squatter camps and villages,
the Black Agenda proposes – in a five-year period – the use of Zimbabweans with
minimum qualification of O and A levels to co-teach with South African teachers
in subjects such as English, physics and maths. In terms of its long term
goals, the Black Agenda suggests total decolonisation of education and closing
of the gap between manual and mental labour. Grade 12 learners under the Black
Agenda shall be skilled enough to produce food and build houses among other
On housing, the Black Agenda
proposes that townships be eradicated through various interventions including
decongestions, demolitions and upgrading. The problem relating to the over-housing
enjoyed by whites must be solved through
taxation of “extra rooms” or, failing that, subdivision of houses for black
occupation. A radical proposal is to establish new settlements based on the
community centre concept. These centres shall operate as a “one stop shop” for
government services and community needs, including services such as child care,
laundry, canteens, libraries, clinics, theatres, computer labs and gyms. In
this way, the burden of domestic work and child rearing shall be lifted from
the shoulders of women. This is consistent with the African idiom that “it
takes a village to raise a child”.
On health, the Black Agenda recognises
that the main source of ill health is the food people eat, which is produced by
the food industry that controls the medical industry. This cycle of disease and
profits has to be broken if people are to be healthier. The key to this process
is food sovereignty, which means people know and are in control of what they
eat. Furthermore, alternative and indigenous knowledge systems must be used to
improve the healthcare system. The Black Agenda notes that as long as
healthcare is driven by profits, there is no possibility of developing healthy
Marijuana is given a prominent
place in the Agenda, as a plant with medicinal possibilities as well as for
industrialisation and cultural reproduction. There is a warning that the
decriminalisation of the herb is only likely to happen after rights to it have
been secured by white monopoly capital. The Black Agenda notes that in the United
States more than 24 states have already legalised marijuana for medicinal uses
and more than four states have done so for recreational use. The Black Agenda
asserts that the only reason the herb has not been decriminalised in South
Africa is because of “colonial stupidity”.
The conference adopted a further
range of resolutions including that BLF shall participate in the coming local government
elections. It noted that bourgeois elections will not bring change but that
such participation must be undertaken to enhance revolutionary mobilisation.
The approach to electoral politics is described as the notion of using politics
to end politics. This resolution was intensely debated and was resolved by a vote
of 40% against participation in the elections and 60% in favour of
participation. This indicates that there is a strong anti-participation element
The conference took a tough stance
on the cancerous US chicken imported into South Africa. It was resolved that an
official warning be sent to all the outlets that sell the chicken, warning them
to remove the poison from the shelves. Failure to heed this warning shall
trigger direct action, which may include operation “take out cancer chicken”.
As part of the Buy Black campaign, which was also endorsed, the conference
encouraged black people to raise their own chickens and replace the chicken
from the US.
The conference noted that banks,
the media and the government are in alliance to perpetrate enslavement of the
people through the unjust money system run by the banks. This alliance has
seen, for instance, the unjustified attack on such self-help schemes as MMM
with the hope of collapsing them. BLF will join hands with those fighting
against the freezing of accounts of people by banks because of their alleged
participation in MMM (it has been described as a “pyramid scheme”).
Furthermore, the poor must be allowed to seek alternative self-help mechanisms
for financial independence. The conference further noted how government bails
out banks and other private sectors each time they go under because of bad
practices. Why not bail out the poor?
The conference also resolved to support the establishment of a black
bank, which must operate on a different system than that of the current
exploitative banking system.
A resolution on anti-imperialism
noted that the media is captured by imperialism and the opposition parties are
part of the imperialist regime change strategy. This strategy seeks to
re-establish the hegemony of white capital over the economy and in particular
to destroy the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) process.
This explains the coup in Brazil and the calls for a coup by representatives of
white capital such as Johann Rupert in South Africa. The main political propaganda
strategy of the regime for South Africa is to paint President Jacob Zuma and
the Gupta family as the enemy so that attention is shifted form white capital
and imperialism. The slogans Zuma Must Fall and Gupta Must Go are designed to
give legitimacy to the campaign, just like the campaign in Brazil.
BLF also took on a mandate to
engage in processes of widespread consultation to bring together, under the
Azanian Front, all existing Black Consciousness and pan-Africanist formations –
the emphasis being black unity against white supremacy and white monopoly
capital, the primary contradiction that must be resolved in South Africa, at
the core of which is land return.
Create Account | Lost Your Password?