Blade Nzimande is a freedom fighter and the veteran of the liberation struggle – Alex Mashilo

Alex Mashilo

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Red Alert: Cde Blade Nzimande comes from the groundwork of the liberation struggle

Far from the so-called disastrous assimilation of SACP cadres into the neo-liberal project as Floyd Shivambu would like people to believe, it was the SACP which characterised the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (Gear) economic strategy and the political agenda that dictated it as ‘the 1996 Class Project’. It was Blade Nzimande himself who profiled the new word into the English language, “tenderpreneur” – a word which well describes Shivambu, his president Julius Malema and all those trying to hi-jack the South African revolution in order to enrich themselves using revolutionary sounding rhetoric devoid of any revolutionary essence, to mask their greed.

As Karl Marx once said, “in private life one differentiates between what a man thinks and says of himself and what he really is and does, so in historical struggles one must distinguish still more the phrases and fancies of parties from their real organism and their real interests, their conception of themselves from their reality”. The EFF is a reactionary tendency opposed to the national democratic revolution – the South African road to socialism, and is led by Johnny-come-latelies whose well-known trade mark is counter-revolutionary disruptions and insults.

Most of its leadership were in fact not born during the liberation struggle, a few started their political engagement after 1994 when the apartheid regime was dislodged and most only started just now in the 2000s. This in itself is not a problem as an increasing number of young people come into politics. The problem is resistance to learning as typified by Malema. His widely reported pathetic matriculation failures show that he obtained GG in woodworking and H in mathematics – both standard grade!

Leading society to achieve prosperity is surely more complex than that. As Vladimir Lenin once said, the youth must learn! They need exemplary leaders, not charlatans who never worked anywhere but owe the receiver of revenue R16 million like Malema. According to the Public Protector’s report titled ‘On the Point of Tenders’, Malema through his Ratanang Family Trust and shareholding in Guilder Investment was clearly implicated and improperly benefited from corrupt, fraudulent and unlawful tender conduct.

His deputy has asked: “Where was Nzimande in the Struggle?”

Dr Blade Nzimande’s involvement in the struggle can be delineated into two periods, before and after Shivambu and Malema were born. In his humble way Nzimande has a proud history of contribution in our liberation struggle in four major areas – student, community and trade union struggles and as a progressive academic activist who was a combatant in the battle of ideas.

Nzimande’s participation cannot be understood by someone who does not understand the four main historical pillars of our struggle – mass mobilisation, underground organisation, international solidarity and the armed struggle.

It is absolute garbage to allege or imply that following the 1976 student uprising all students left the country except for Nzimade, who is then accused of having remained the lone student. It is absurd to allege that apartheid was fought by those who went to exile only. It is equally hogwash to allege that students who attended their education during the entire period of colonial and apartheid oppression did so in order to serve the regime simply because apartheid controlled the forms of government that prevailed and industry was controlled by whites only. It is wrong to suggest that the reason why President Nelson Mandela studied law during that period is because he wanted to implement the laws of colonial and apartheid oppression as Shivambu wants us to believe the same rubbish about Nzimande being a student.

From 1976 as the first year student at the University of Zululand throughout his university education Nzimande participated in all the major student struggles at that institution. This including, the struggle against the installation of Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi as the chancellor and the major struggles in response to the massacre of students by the apartheid regime on June 16. These activities led to the closure of the university, for the remainder of 1976.

In the 1980s Nzimande became active in a range of fronts of struggle, including in the building of self-defence units against the apartheid sponsored Inkatha violence at both KwaDambuza and Umlazi. As an academic activist, both at universities of Zululand and Natal, he worked with a network of NGOs and served in the board of the SA Labour Bulletin, in support of building the trade union movement both before and after the formation of COSATU. He actively worked in support of major trade union struggles at the time, like the legendary Sarmcol struggle by mid-1990s in KZN midlands.

In the late 1980s into the 1990s, Nzimande worked, under the leadership of Harry Gwala, amongst other things defending communities from apartheid violence and rebuilding ANC structures after unbanning. In fact Nzimande spent a good part of his life fighting against the IFP and counter-revolutionary violence and was never its member at any stage.

He started working with the ANC in 1986 and was later recruited by Mzala Nxumalo in SACP underground organisation early 1989. When the ANC and the SACP were unbanned, Nzimande was amongst those selected to serve in their interim structures because he was already working in their underground machinery – contrary to the lies peddled by Shivambu and his likes that Nzimande joined the ANC only in 1991. Nzimande was subsequently elected into the SACP Central Committee in 1991. He formed part of the negotiations held in the early 1990s that led to a settlement, paving the way for the elections that were held in 1994.

One of Nzimande’s most important contributions was as a progressive researcher, academic and a writer for the movement. He researched and wrote about violence in KZN, served in a number of education policy organisations in our movement from the late 1980s. This includes being Director of the Education Policy Unit set up at the directive of the ANC and the National Education Co-ordinating Committee from 1989. For the record, the SACP is working towards republishing this extensive work and the unpublished writings of other SACP leaders.

We have only briefly covered some of the most important points of Nzimande’s involvement with the struggle. In fact the number of year Nzimande served in the Central Committee of the SACP, 24, is more than the age of young people being fooled by Shivambu and his ilk in the EFF. For 17 years during that 24 years Nzimande served to this day as SACP General Secretary. Nzimande is a member of both the Party’s Politburo and ANC National Working Committee. He has been serving in the ANC National Executive Committee. All coming from the ground and rising through the ranks of these primary political formations of our alliance!

We could easily write far more. However we do not want to tell the story of our leadership at the behest the EFF tenderpreneurs. In addition, the history of our struggle is not a tender to be told and sometimes fabricated in order to serve narrow and selfish agendas.

The SACP strongly believes that the dangers of the EFF posture is the pursuit of an agenda to divide our revolutionary movement, similar to that of the apartheid regime, by trying to elevate certain terrains of struggle as better than others. This is what the apartheid regime and its supportive media tried very hard in the early 1990s – to pit those who were in exile against those who were struggling inside the country, between those who went to prison and those who did not, etc.

Similarly we must not fall into the trap of differentiating our revolutionary movement’s membership on the basis of where members came from. For instance there is absolutely nothing wrong in having former IFP members or any political party for that matter realigning to our movement. As a matter of fact, the ANC won KZN mainly because it managed to win over thousands of IFP members and voters to its side – the revolutionary side.

Floyd Shivambu not only turned a blind eye on the rich history of Nzimande’s contribution in the struggle. He further alleged that almost the entire SACP leadership was absent from the struggle. He mentioned a number of comrades including Jeremy Cronin, a struggle veteran who was arrested in 1976 for fighting against apartheid and subsequently spent 7 years in prison. Cronin was released from prison perhaps around the same time Floyd was born.

The other leaders Floyd Shivambu mentioned, including SACP National Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson Senzeni Zokwana and Thulas Nxesi have a well-known, rich history in the workers’ struggle both in South Africa and internationally. And the Party’s National Treasurer Comrade Joyce Moloi is not a Jonny-come-lately either as opposed to the entire top echolons of the EFF’s dictatorship.

SACP leadership and membership includes comrades who received military training in the Soviet Union in order to fight apartheid long before Shivambu and his wannabe “commander-in-chief” Julius Malema were born.

Floyd Shivambu has talked of “electoral disasters”, referring to a number of senior ANC and SACP leaders. There is no electoral disaster in the ANC and SACP. An electoral disaster however occurred when the seeds of the EFF were laid in April 2008 when Malema was elected ANCYL president in a dirty display of private parts by some delegates and that congress collapsed.

When it was reconvened, another electoral disaster occurred. Floyd Shivambo, who never rose through the ranks of the ANCYL was parachuted to its NEC. Floyd is a notorious electoral disaster that was rejected by SASCO. He was elected to the National Committee of the Young Communist League but after realising that he was an electoral disaster the Young Reds expelled him long before the ANC dealt with him and his so-called “commander-in-chief”. The lies peddled by Floyd and cheered by ignorance are actually driven by his bitterness from all this. This agenda coincided with preparations for the appearance of Julius Malema in court on Monday, 3 August 2015 over charges of corruption!

It is important for our cadres to continue to expose the opportunism and self-enrichment agenda of the EFF tenderpreneurs, and close ranks to drive a second, more radical phase of our revolution. As our Special National Congress said, communist cadres must be in the forefront to unite the working class, our communities, and our movement.

By Alex Mashilo, Alex Mashilo is SACP Spokesperson

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