French explorer Le Valliant in his writings Voyage de M. Le Valliant dans l’Intérieur de l’Afrique par Le Cap de Bonne Espérance in 1790 wrote of the Nguni people, “the Caffers are in general harmless and peaceful, but being continuously pillaged, harassed, nay often murdered by the whites, they are obliged to take up arms in their own defence”.
This was 138 years after Jan Van Riebeeck moored in the Cape on 6 April 1652.
Africans were used for slave labour, their girl children abducted and turned into concubines by the British and the Dutch. The pillaging Le Valliant wrote about did not begin with the death knell of the 1913 Land Act – Africans had been robbed of their cattle, children, land and other possessions mainly because of their kind and ubuntu spirit. Africans took in many whites when their boats ran to ground in the Indian Ocean and Cape Colony line.
The British called our land “British Kaffraria”.
The past time activity was to raid African settlements for wealth, livestock and our women. Male slaves were also abducted in military precision raids. Our land was grabbed and possessed by force or trickery. Africans suffered genocides in the hands of whites in South Africa.
In 1833 whites decided to abolish slavery in South Africa with 35 000 slaves freed in the Cape Colony alone. These were Africans who had become the property of whites, equal to donkeys.
On November 10, 1886, Umhlangaso Faku writing for the Paramount Chief of the independent nation of AmaMpondo wrote to Czar Alexander III in Russia seeking protection from: “The English government wants to take away our country”.
By the time the 1913 Land Act became law, Africans were already brutalised. This act disowned Africans of their property, their land, forcing Africans to pay a poll tax, which made the little subsistence farming they could perform impossible. This poll tax was designed to punish those who wanted to be self-sustaining, forcing them to be mine labourers.
Though they called Africans Caffers or Kaffirs (non-believers) – our forefathers believed in a Supreme Being, AmaZulu called him uMvelinqanga, the Khoi called him Utika and AmaXhosa called him Uhlanga. This did not matter as colonisation wiped off our knowledge systems and destroyed our information gathering turning us into mute tools of hard labour.
This is a part of the mosaic that brought about the establishment of the African National Congress (ANC) in Bloemfontein in 1912 where for the first time all tribes gathered under one roof to say: “Africans must unite”.
The ANC was formed to end black servitude and white domination. This ideological genesis remains acutely relevant today as it did in the 1800’s when Chief Sandile became one of the first political prisoners on Robben Island.
Other than political power being restored and shared with our erstwhile political oppressors, African humiliation continue to persists, getting more entrenched psychologically, physically, structurally, culturally, religiously and so forth. We see this in the squalor our African families continue to live under be it in the building I visited in Johannesburg called Cape York or at New Cross Roads – our people are suffering even though their government continues to pour in massive resources in an unmatched global standard to alleviate their plight whose source is the aforementioned brutality and inhumanity against them.
The type of a leadership collective the ANC thus needs and should demand is one that completely and fully understands this history. It is a leadership collective that understands the plight of our poor – a leadership that has not personally, either by design or circumstance, found himself or herself holding this history in rhetorical form. The nature and character of men and women of the ANC must be equal to the task to forego personal wealth ambitions and serve the people against a very formidable moneyed class. It is a leadership that must push back against the developing political veto power the minority is establishing through our courts system.
The National Executive Committee of the ANC should not have compromising conflicts of interests. We as Congress should be weary of a potential of having comrades turned corporate lobbyists at the highest decision making bodies of both the party and government. If indeed Congress is still rooted on the poor, it must not be primarily led by the moneyed class, the corporate corridors cadre. Congress must be led in the main by cadres dedicated to the service of our people.
We must accept that the NEC of the ANC discusses what the corporate types call, “price sensitive” information. When a company director, in particular from the economic ruling class, is a participant in policy discussion that may affect his business’ profitability, we must ask what does his fiduciary duty demands he puts first.
The leadership collective should be in touch with our realities and fully recognise that Congress buried “hamba kahle” politics when OR Tambo crossed the Limpopo River in 1961. Inequality is ravaging our people. Unemployment has made our people paupers. We must not fail to locate the issues over the economic doctrine we employ and the “hamba kahle” politics. Radical Economic Freedom is non-negotiable. Congress has no time to waste time. The destruction of our people’s lives is not giving us time.
The leadership to emerge in December 2017 has to commit to a new social contract with our people and restore what was raided and forcefully taken from them since 1652. It is leadership that understands that it is crucial and urgent that we decolonise religious beliefs so that the Khoi can remember their Utika. The new social contract must commit to decolonisation of culture and education to stop our children from learning what our enemies think of us. A new social contract should be alive to truth that the “harmless and peaceful’”people remain landless, humiliated and economically oppressed 365 years and counting.
The new social contract Congress should demand is that this generation maintains the people’s Congress alive for another 100 years. The skulduggery that has manifested itself must be arrested through honest analysis and reflection. However, we must never let our guard down over enemy tactics to cause internal strife within Congress.
Congress leadership should never design itself to the myth of South African exceptionalism in the continent. South Africa is not a city on the hill of the continent that seeks to expand its reach and enterprise. The leadership collective must be alive to the unity and defence of the continent. Congress must be alive to its existence as Africa’s congress as such continues to reignite further developments towards complete African emancipation from financial colonisation.
We must not have a conflict between what we stand for and what we do.
We must understand that the second phase of the transition will not be met with benevolence. The not so secret club that runs South Africa’s capitalist system has already started mounting a direct war in our engagement with it to transform the economy for the good of South Africa.
From our ideological perspective, we must never be fooled by those who today deny that we long ago identified capitalist theory as having private competition for rapid development. In this understanding we also identified South African capitalism as monopolistic, rent seeking and a fat cat sausage machine.
It is a leadership that accepts that the ANC may be in office but not in power that should emerge in December 2017 to lead a direct revolution for total power to the people. The new social contract should take the economy more serious than ever before. We should accept that the ANC spent most of the past 23 years trying to win and cultivate the goodwill of the wealthy white South Africa with dismal failure.
We must remember that in 1994, unemployment was at 24 percent with a less educated black population. Today we have unemployment at 27% with a highly educated black population. This tells us the activities of the past 23 years have not understood the changing world, the nature and politics of South Africa’s capital. We have had to draw up legislation to force capital to include the majority in ownership and human resources. This points to an opposing capital class that remains not interested in having the majority included in the ownership of the economy.
Though what I write of is not exhaustive, it is the sort that the masses seek first and foremost – an honest ANC. We must insist on a leadership collective that firmly and irrevocably sees transformation and redistribution as essential to growth, and that growth first will not help transformation of the economy but worsen the plight of our people. It is on the understanding that a worker gets a wage and the boss gets surplus capital and profits – the wage can be as little as requiring the state to adopt minimum wage laws to protect its people.
Leadership Renewal means having leadership that has the moral character to lead a complex socio-economic structure as South Africa. The leadership must be clear that the masses are knocking at the economic door and their patience has thinned out. These masses must be the principal agency for radical economic transformation; we must go back to mass mobilisation of our people to lead the ANC.