When Blade Nzimande was reported as having said the EFF should be killed, we dismissed him as an opportunistic intellectual dwarf with no sensible ideological and political programme to confront our party.
What we did not do was reveal what he truly is. As will be seen from his political life, Nzimande is an opportunist who was a staff rider of the liberation movement, using empty and often-confusing rhetoric.
Bonginkosi Blade Nzimande was born in 1958 to an African who had migrated economically from Mozambique. Like me he is a descendant of Xitsonga/Shangaan-speaking migrants from Mozambique, only that I am a descendant of migrants who relocated in the early 17th century to the political territory called South Africa from 1910.
There is no trace of Nzimande’s involvement in the Struggle, despite his being 18 when the youth rose in Soweto and other parts of South Africa against apartheid.
The socio-economic conditions that led to the xenophobic attacks on mainly Mozambican migrants are a direct consequence of the incompetence of a government that Nzimande praises and deceitfully refers to as “progressive”. If there were adequate jobs, houses, sanitation, water, and access to education for all, xenophobic attacks on our blood brothers from all parts of Africa would not happen.
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Coming back to the mysterious political life of Nzimande, we should state the obvious, that repression ignited the moral obligation of all progressive youth to confront the apartheid regime as they had nothing to lose but their chains. Most of the youth who confronted the regime in 1976 and joined Umkhonto we Sizwe and the African People’s Liberation Army (Apla) were aged between 12 and 17. Where was Nzimande?
Many activists from KwaZulu-Natal and those in institutions of higher learning, including Steve Biko, were at the height of their political activism in the South African Students’ Organisation. Where was Nzimande?
Solomon Mahlangu was two years older than Nzimande, and did not have the opportunity for tertiary education, but understood, more than Nzimande, that the major struggle was against the repressive apartheid regime, and that public administration and industrial psychology in a sick society had to come after liberation or be infused in the Struggle. Where was Nzimande?
In 1976, Nzimande was accepted at the University of Zululand to study public administration. It is patently evident that the public administration he was studying was to prepare him to administer the Bantustans, not a post-apartheid South Africa, because in his consciousness and conscience there was nothing wrong with the apartheid society and administration. What was the curriculum content of public administration at a Bantustan university, which saw nothing wrong with apartheid laws and order?
After 1976, all youth activism increased dramatically. All townships and towns had youth congresses. The biggest affiliates of the United Democratic Front, launched in 1983 when Nzimande was 25, were youth formations. Where was Nzimande?
In 1986, there were more than 600 youth congresses, mobilising behind the banner of people’s liberation and the Freedom Charter. Where was Nzimande? The South African Youth Congress went to its national conference in 1987 in a secret location to fight for the freedom of all South Africans. Where was Nzimande?
From 1976, particularly after the Soweto massacre of defenceless youth on June 16, thousands of youth left the country to join MK and Apla. Was Blade Nzimande part of the June 16 detachment? No!
The youth of Nzimande’s generation sacrificed their lives, dropped out of school, left their parents and homes to fight against the regime, but where was he? For someone who was at university, studying social sciences, there is no way that he was not aware of the political turmoil, yet he was not part of the Struggle.
In any class war, there cannot be neutrality. Even remaining silent and uninterested is the assumption of a position.
Perhaps we should state that the only political activism recorded of Nzimande was that he took part in a hunger strike at the University of Zululand – for tastier food. He recurrently recalls this “revolutionary” strike because he was one of those who protested against the leaders of the strike who said even the newly offered food did not taste good. In 2015, students at institutions he is supposed to lead as minister of higher education are not fighting for tastier food – they are fighting for basic food because they go to lectures with empty stomachs and do not even have money to buy books.
The absence of Nzimande from the Struggle does not define him alone, but almost the entire leadership of the SACP, such as national chairman Senzeni Zokwana, deputy national chairman Thulas Nxesi, deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin and treasurer Joyce Moloi.
This explains why the SACP’s central committee’s faces glow in admiration when second deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila, a novice MK soldier who went to the camps in the late 1980s, speaks about his less than three years’ military experience and how he was named “Rush Phakisa”.
When all signs were pointing to the end of apartheid and the possible political takeover by the dominant ANC, Nzimande acted as if he were a true revolutionary and communist. Staff riding is real in liberation movements. Nzimande joined the ANC in 1991 (after Nelson Mandela was released from prison), because his consciousness and political awareness meant he should be a member of another organisation, founded as a cultural organisation.
The disastrous assimilation of Communist Party cadres into the neo-liberal project and agenda in the mid-1990s opened space for his election as general secretary of the SACP, a calamity that has reduced the party to a faction in the ANC fighting only to join the gravy train of the degenerating ANC. The differences between the ANC and SACP under Nzimande have not been based on ideological and political questions, but on the formula that counts the number of quasi-communists who should be deployed to positions of power.
This explains why, after its special national conference, the major political issue on the agenda of the SACP was that the EFF, a Marxist-Leninist political movement, should be killed. How on earth can an organisation whose name suggests it is involved in a class struggle say that a movement of the working class should be killed? Charlatans almost always confuse ideological opponents with the real enemy.
The SACP lacks the experience, depth and ideological capacity to identify the enemy. We articulated this at the 2009 SACP special conference in exposing the party’s ideological directionless under Nzimande. If they knew, they would understand that the enemy of progress is white monopoly capital, which is using the governing alliance as an instrument to exploit the class a communist party is supposed to represent.
Of course, those dining at his table will rush to defend him and say Nzimande has been elected SACP general secretary unopposed since 1998. Unfortunately, history produces electoral disasters. Like Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, Gwede Mantashe and many others, Nzimande is an electoral disaster and history will prove us right.
The EFF will not be killed by electoral disasters. It will live for ever and will legitimately take over political power, capture the state and deliver economic freedom for all. The hashtag is #WhereWasNzimande?
* By Floyd Shivambu, Floyd Shivambu is deputy president of the EFF.
** Independent Media.