God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée of a Catholic priest

Chris Hani Memorandum – or history repeats itself

South Africa commemorated the life and death of Chris Hani recently.  Connected to his name is the so called Chris Hani Memorandum, which was written and signed by him and some of his comrades and addressed to the higher powers of the ANC at that time. Please take your time and read it – it gives you an inside in the ANC  at that time and how little has changed or has come back to haunt the organization today. Who is interested in learning more: the pocket biography of Hugh Macmillan: Chris Hani – published 2014 gives an interesting account of events around the life and death of Chris Hani and puts the narrative that the ANC is the sole savior of South Africa to rest.  The reading of the biography reaffirms that many different historical developments have brought South Africa to the point of 1994’s first free elections for all. But it also speaks of the many sacrifices ANC members endured to free the country. Like always in life, nothing is black and white but grey and only who humbly accepts this can harvest the lessons learned. Otherwise history repeats itself.
Coming back to the memorandum: the signatories were almost executed for criticizing the ANC – speaking up for what was right was in those times a life threatening  exercise. Otherwise the memo speaks for itself and needs no further comments.

We, as genuine revolutionaries, are moved by the rightening depths reached by the rot in the ANC and the disintegration of M.K. accompanying this rot and manifesting itself in the following way:
1. The ANC Leadership in Exile has created a machinery which has become an end in itself. It is completely divorced from the situation in South Africa. It is not in a position to give an account of the functioning branches inside the country. There has never been an attempt to send the Leadership inside since the Rivonia Arrests. There has been an over-concentration of people in offices – this has become a fully fledged activity in itself, for eg, you get a Director of Youth who maintains no liaison with the home front. There are other departments, such as the Treasury Department which is to all intents and purposes catering for activities outside, and whose functioning is only limited and known to a few people; the Department of the Secretary-General which has not furnished any reports on political activities in the various regions in the country; the Department of Publicity which is giving out propaganda geared only to external consumption. The quality of information is not revolutionary and is out of step with the existing political situation inside the country. Its material hardly gives a deep analysis of the prevalent situation inside. We strongly feel that time has come that the department should make every effort to reach the masses of our people by seeing to it that more and more of its revolutionary propaganda is written in the language of our people.
2. We are disturbed by the careerism of the ANC Leadership Abroad who have, in every sense, become professional politicians rather than professional revolutionaries. We have been forced to draw the conclusion that the payment of salaries to people working in offices is very detrimental to the revolutionary outlook is of those who receive such monies. It is without doubt that such payments corrupt cadres at any level and have the effect of making people perform their duties or fill offices because of money inducement rather than dedication to the cause – they become in effect merely salaried employees of the movement. It is high time that all members and cadres of the ANC, be they in M.K. or not, should receive equal treatment and be judged only on the basis of their dedication and sacrifice to the cause we serve. The principle of thorough selection of cadres should be on the basis of merit and such selection should never be delegated to an individual – this will prevent individuals owing allegiance to those who appoint them rather than to the Revolution.
3. The Leadership of the ANC abroad must be committed to a resolution and programme of going home to lead the struggle there, which resolution and programme must be seen to be implemented. Presently there is a Leadership vacuum as all the leaders are either locked up in Vorster’s prisons of are in exile. This has deprived the S.A. masses of leadership which is so vital at this crucial moment of our Revolution. A situation where our people, because of this vacuum will be deceived by opportunists of all shades is strongly developing. We feel that the number of leaders attending international conferences and other globetrotting activities should be cut down to a reasonable few and the remainder should work around the clock working on the home front.
4. There are certain symptoms which are very disturbing and dispiriting to genuine revolutionaries. These comprise the opening of mysterious business enterprises which to our knowledge have never been discussed by the leadership of the Organisation. For instance, in Lusaka a furniture industry is being run by the ANC. In Livingstone a bone factory whose original purpose was to provide cover for underground work in Botswana is now being used as a purely commercial undertaking. As a result of these enterprises more and more M.K. men are being diverted to them. And some of the people in charge of these enterprises are dubious characters with shady political backgrounds. We are therefore compelled to conclude that there is no serious drive to return home and carry on the struggle. This is disturbing because the very comrade, Thabo More, who is supposed to be planning, directing and leading the struggle in South Africa is fully involved in these enterprises. Now he has assumed complete responsibility for the running of these enterprises in collaboration with others and it is extremely doubtful that with his attention so divided he can do justice to the armed struggle in South Africa which should be his primary and absolute concern. The Leadership of the ANC can’t but be blamed for this state of affairs.
5. An equally disturbing situation is that M.K. is being run completely independently of the Political Organisation. The Political Leadership Abroad is not aware of the activities and plans of M.K. We therefore infer that M.K. is separate from the ANC; that there is conflict between the ANC and M.K.; that the ANC has lost control over M.K.; that there is no co-ordination between the ANC and the M.K. All this has brought about a situation where the ANC is run single-handed by the Commander-in-Chief who appoints and dismisses arbitrarily – as a result there is a tendency among members of the Headquarters to owe allegiance to the individual who appoints and dismisses them and it takes a genuine revolutionary to challenge him. We are compelled to blame the National Executive for this anomalous situation.
6. The Security Department is internally directed. It is doing nothing against the enemy. It has achieved nothing of military importance. The failure of the so-called Security Department has been shown by its inability to furnish the Organisation with the fate of our most dedicated comrades in Zimbabwe. Or how is it possible that so many comrades have been able to desert so successfully? In the prosecution of its internally directed activities the Security Department has become notorious. Those who serve in it have the central task of suppressing and persecuting dedicated cadres of M.K. who have nothing to lose by participating in the struggle except their chains. There is no Security Dept in our Organisation. For instance the arrest of Msomi and Matthews was inevitable as the fact of their presence in South Africa was common knowledge; as well as of comrades bound for home.This situation is tantamount to betrayal of comrades.In Morogoro Joseph Cotton, Shadrack Tladi and Boy Otto are openly flirting with the Peace Corps an international known C.I.A. Front, a counter-revolutionary and espionage organisation. The first two handle vital information as they are connected with the Radio transmission service relaying Organisation material. Boy Otto is moving between Zambia and Tanzania transporting M.K. personnel and war material. Most disturbing is that a comrade raised this matter with the Secretary-General and Chief of Security of the ANC, Duma Nokwe, who agreed that the matter of the above comrades flirting with the Peace Corps was true and that it should be furnished in writing, but no action was taken. This is very disturbing and discouraging to serious revolutionaries who know fully well that these three comrades are close to the leading figures of the ANC and M.K. For instance, Joseph Cotton is the son of Moses Kotane the Treasurer-General of the ANC and General Secretary of the S.A.C.P. Shadrack Tladi is relative of Thabo More who is C-in-C of M.K. and member of the National Executive of the ANC Abroad. This has made us and many other comrades conclude that there is nepotism in the ANC An equally perturbing fact is that Mrs V. Nokwe, the wife of the Secretary-General and Chief of Security of the ANC, Comrade D. Nokwe is presently working for Amiran Israel, an internationally known Israeli Intelligence Organisation operating under the cover of an Import-Export firm. This Amiran-Israel is a co-ordinating centre for Israeli Intelligence Services (Shinbet) in Southern Africa, Central Africa including Congo Brazzaville and Congo Kinshasa. Israel is a nest of imperialism which is actively sabotaging the National Liberation. Presently it has colonised parts of Arab territories and is maintaining close links with the most reactionary and fascist governments, such as South Africa and the revanchist Federal Government of Germany. We demand an explanation for this anomalous situation and we demand that we should cut links with the counter-revolutionary organisation forthwith and should there be any other links with the Israel, the ANC should sever them in the interests of our Revolution.
7. The tragedy of the Zimbabwe campaigns is the fact that we have been unable to analyse our operations so as to be able to assess and draw lessons that would make it possible for us to formulate a correct strategy and tactics vis-à-vis the enemy.
8. It is a cause for serious concern that comrades who have come back from the battle front have not been accorded a comradely reception and the fact that there has been no re-appraisal of their combat experience. We are shocked by the criminal neglect of our most dedicated comrades who have either fallen in battle, sentenced to death or serving long term imprisonment in Zimbabwe. These men are heroes who have performed their revolutionary tasks gallantly without flinching. How can we possibly keep quiet [about?] these valorous sons of South Africa? Is this not an indication of callousness and irresponsibility on the part of the leadership? The behaviour of the Secretary-General and Chief of Security of the ANC D. Nokwe and his attitude towards Comrade J.Mlenze,when we petitioned for a meeting, disturbed us greatly. For him to have said he did not know, did not recognise Mlenze is a height of indifference and cynicism and we are really very worried about it. Here is a comrade from the battle front, a Commander of a unit, and a Security Chief of a vital region, namely Transkei accorded this type of snub.
9. We are perturbed by the fact that certain members of M.K. are receiving payments from the External Mission, eg the C-in-c and the C.P.O. who as a matter of fact are getting allowances and the fact that the C-in-C has a posh and militarily irrelevant car at his disposal. The fact that these soldiers are paid has a very demoralising effect on the other revolutionaries.
10. Individual leaders keep cars and run them and this coupled with the fact that they receive salaries alias allowances is in every way building them up as a middle class in our revolutionary organisation and in M.K.
11. A strange and alarming trend is developing whereby secret trials and secret executions have been carried out. We are not against the execution and liquidation of traitors but we are against the veil of secrecy. We are having in mind the trials of Zola Zembe, Wellington Mbata, Phalanyane and Bopela. It is a shame that we should have been witnesses to the emergence of extremely reactionary methods of punishment in M.K. There have been instances when offenders in M.K. have been  dumped in dugouts filled with several drums of water without blankets or any other protective material for periods of up to about 22 days. The cases in point are those of Daphne Zwane,Tallman Ndlovu,Bob Zulu,Erends and Joseph Ndlovu. This type of punishment, among others, is, from any angle,criminal and inhuman, and must have been designed to break the physical and moral integrity of victims.
12. The ANC is the vanguard of the revolutionary struggle in South Africa and it is strange that its leaders have not been obliged to take the M.K. oath. We strongly feel that there is no difference between the leaders of the ANC and men of M.K. who are obliged to take the oath, for such an oath might have dealt with J. Radebe’s desertion and will definitely deal with any other leader harbouring right wing designs of sabotaging our revolution.
13. The development of the Revolution has necessitated a renewal and rejuvenation of those who are leading it. We must guard against the fossilization of the leadership as this is likely to hinder the progressive development of the Revolution. There has been a tendency to appoint people to the National Executive outside. We would like to know what is the yardstick for these appointments. After proper consultation with all the members of the ANC a method should be found of changing leadership and the fact that there have been no conferences involving all our members at home should not be used as an excuse for not renewing the leadership. We should not depend on mandates given at national conferences 10 or more years ago. We have been forced to conclude that a few individuals are monopolising posts in the Organisation. This has brought about a situation where members of the Planning Council are also members of the National Executive.
14. It is very alarming that double standards as regards to health of the members of the Organisation are maintained. Whenever leaders are sick arrangements are made for them to receive excellent medical attention without delay but this sort of concern is hardly shown to the rank and file of the movement. We maintain that all of us are important in so far as the Revolution is concerned and should thus be accorded the same treatment.
15. We consider the youth in M.K. as the most revolutionary. We strongly feel that we should be consulted on matters affecting the youth. For instance we must be informed about the revolutionary International Youth gatherings and we should be given priority in the sending of delegates. The farce of the Bulgaria ANC Youth delegation should never be repeated and those responsible should acknowledge the mistake they made. The Youth of South Africa is not located in London or in any European capital. We therefore take particular exception to the appointment of certain students as leaders of the ANC Youth. Thabo Mbeki who went to London on a scholarship sponsored by NUSAS is a leader of ANC bogus Youth Organisation. We are convinced that the ANC leadership in Exile is according better treatment and attention to the students. This attitude and practice has had a disastrous effect of diverting many would-be revolutionaries into the academic field. We feel that it is high time that the M.K. personnel which is in fact the core of our Revolution should be given the best treatment by virtue of having volunteered with their lives to give the supreme sacrifice for the Revolution. Another disturbing symptom is the glaring practice of nepotism where the leadership uses its position to promote their kith and kin and put them in positions where they will not be in any physical confrontation with the enemy. The sending of virtually all the sons of the leaders to universities in Europe is a sign that these people are being groomed for leadership positions after the M.K. cadres have overthrown the fascists. We have no doubt that these people will just wait in Europe and just come home when everything has been made secure and comfortable for them playing the typical role of the Bandas and others. As opposed to the treatment of the students, we find complete indifference and apathy to the heroes and martyrs of our Revolution who have fallen in South Africa and Zimbabwe. We have in mind the gallant sons of our country, who without doubt lay their lives in the struggle against imperialism. These include among many Patric (sic) Mosedi one time President of the ANCY.L. and former treason trialist, Benson Ntsele the tireless Commissar,the young cream of our country Sparks Moloi,Chris Mampuru,James Masimini and Andries Motsepe. We have not forgotten those who have defiantly and stubbornly refused to be frightened by the hangman’s noose in Rhodesia following the heroic example set by our murdered martyrs Vuyisile Mini, Zinakile Mkhaba, Diliza Khayingo, W. Bongco and others. These comrades are the dedicated Alfred Mninzi known to many of us as James Harmanus, Tamane known as Zami, the son of that great revolutionary and women’s leader Dora Tamane, the young Rhodes Msuthu Ngamlana known to us as Charles Mhambi and Tula Bophela.
16. We call for a full definition of the ANC-Z.A.P.U. alliance, its form and content. We demand that a serious and genuine effort should be made towards the intensification of ways and means of going home. This should be one actively involving the most dedicated members of M.K. and it should be on the basis of a correct strategy.
In conclusion all these problems must be resolved by a conference between the ANC Leadership and members of M.K. and not just handpicked individuals.

Signatories
M.T. Hani (Chris), W. Hempe, Z.R. Mbengwa (Jeqe), Tamana Gobozi (Mikza), Leonard Pitso,G. S. Mose (Mlenze), Ntabenkosi Fipaza (Mbali)

Filed under: Politics and Society, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

Thoughts of an unapologetic whitey on #SaveSouthAfrica

I am reading the opinion piece “Here’s why white people cannot demand solidarity” – posted somewhere on social media under the headline “who’s rally call and why is it anyhow?”. On the morning of Friday, 7th of April 2017, the day most serious South Africans try to rescue their country from greed, corruption, downgrading and incompetent politics while MK “Speer of the Nation” soldiers still try to play war in front of Luthuli House my thoughts go back where I am coming from and what I have learned so far living 20 years in South Africa:

First and foremost: I don’t want and I will not apologize for being born white and in Europe – nobody chooses his or her place of birth – and whatever system is in place is taken in the beginning, till reflection sets in, as a normal environment.
I grew up in the small little town of Bitburg – those knowing the history of the city know that Bitburg harbored one of the biggest US American airbases next to Ramstein. So for me – in my childhood I was aware that people have different skin colors – which not really mattered – but we knew: black people are rather richer people as the US Dollar was strong at that time.
When I entered adolescence – news from South Africa were made more and more available and I learned about a small tiny Archbishop in Cape Town and the call for a boycott of South African goods. Empathy for the “poor suppressed black people” far away grew by the day – and I remember still very vivid how we followed the call of activism and tried to convince the adults: “Don’t buy apples and other products from South Africa”. I am not sure about the checks and balances at the end – but those small little and also big activities against apartheid were at least as much as important to bring down the unjust system like the liberation struggle on the grounds of African soil. Nobody has the copyright of solely liberating South Africa.

Having the chance to work in South Africa – the new South Africa with all the dreams and yearnings of the so-called and so often praised rainbow nation – and the possibility to personally meet and talk with my heroes of youth, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the late President Nelson Mandela have been ever since highlights in life so far. Working in the fields of HIV in all different levels of society has grown my empathy and my understanding of the human race. I do reflect on where I am coming from, what advantages I have had in life so far – I see the dark and inhumane side of history in South Africa – but not only there: apartheid, colonialism, extortion, abuse of human rights – I acknowledge the role, Europeans have played and are still playing and I see the riches of African culture being often suppressed till today.

But I can only acknowledge and learn from the history and apply my learning’s with empathy  in the present time to create a future where mistakes of the past should be avoided. I can only continue to strengthen and communicate my firm believe that there is only one human race, that skin color does not matter for me and should not matter for anybody. As a Catholic priest being part of more than a billion faithful from all over the world I know what power lies in the faith of being just a brother or sister for each other under one divine mystery.

I also have learned from history, that liberation armies – look at South America or even Africa – need at least a generation to understand that they are not at war anymore but needed to transform in real political parties with understanding of what democracy means. So what we see in the ANC in the moment is history repeating itself because the cadres have not learned out of history and the poor will suffer again.

This is one of the reasons why I march today – reminding myself and others that we don’t have to go the same disastrous cycle if we learn of history. I do march today not because I want to have any privileges back or sustained or because I demand solidarity; it’s the other way around:
I give solidarity to those suffering the most: the poor, those who did not make it because of mistakes of politics, but also because of the greed, the corruption, the incompetence and the ignorance within our political system.
I march today for humanity, for the dream of those having given their lives in the struggle – millions of dreamers who either fought on the battle field or attended concerts to “free Mandela” or begged the people not to buy fruits from an inhumane system.
I march to keep going the dream of a just and non-racial society being able to see the pains of people and to be willing to start the process of healing guided by wise men and women in government, in churches and other institutions.

I march with empathy and solidarity for all and with all who share this dream knowing that there is a long way to real freedom, but if we walk together every day a little bit, we will reach it – a healed society becoming again the beacon of hope for a continent, which was long written off, but – and this is my firm believe – will be on the forefront of a renewed global village in the future – the cradle of mankind a living hope for all our brothers and sisters.

Filed under: Africa, chaplain, General, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Living in a junk state

I guess for those you knew the situation well enough, the downgrading of South Africa to “junk status” came at no surprise. A cabinet reshuffle at midnight, ministers axed not informed directly but learning it from the TV news does not indicate a rational and honest move of a president reflecting on his actions.
The knives are out – and once again history shows that a liberation army styled as a political party will fail the people ungraciously if the transformation of the structures which were needed during the struggle does not happen in time. The desperate attempts to quell the public dissent within the ruling party is witness to the unhappiness within and the tweets of government to stop civil society to voice their opinion adds a more comic note to the very serious situation.
South Africa can fall into the trap of inner conflict and anarchy if the stalemate between those who want to rectify the situation and those whose greed and / or ideology clouds their judgement is not resolved and decisions are made to get out from this road leading to nowhere.
It’s not only the president who has to go – all his cronies and blind followers from Gigaba to Mbalula, from Dlamini to Mtambi have to be relieved from their duties to rescue the situation. I think the most hurtful matter is that a black majority feels the disappointment that their own people failed them greatly. This generates automatically defenses which are not helpful in the situation and one should be reminded that worldwide liberation movements are bad politicians in the first and sometimes second generation.
The dream of the rainbow nation seems so far away for the time being, but not everything is lost. There are millions of people who are willing to work hard to change the situation and to make the peaceful transition in 1994 a permanent feature; radical economic transition will follow if radical does not mean corruption and entitlement but good school education, adequate university studies and the equal chance of everybody to develop entrepreneurial skills as well as the chance to climb the career ladder because of skills and not of skin color.  As much as one wishes for a quick transformation – if it should be sustainable it must be the result of hard work and not gifts and badly handled BEE.

Times like this call for all citizens to organize and assist government to develop a society. NGO’s play a vital part in this scenario and I hope and pray that HOPE Cape Town can play its role in this unruly times. Making sure that health service delivery is maintained on a dignified level may for some be not the first priority, but I believe that only the concert of all playing their particular part in times of uncertainty can bring a society through those times into a more stable period of living in the new South Africa.

Filed under: Africa, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

blessed, joyful or horrible?

Depending on whom you ask these days, the answer how 2017 will play out is answered differently. In the USA Democrats fear a horrible start of a Trump presidency, in South Africa, President Zuma is joyful that the ANC, celebrating birthday today, has the same impact as the birth of Jesus and those in Istanbul having survived the attack on the nightclub will feel blessed to luckily escape the bullets of the shooter. So it seems that situations determine the outlook of the year just started to come to life.
Reflecting on it, I am not sure this is the right way to look at it. Situations I often can not change, they way I react is the only option to turn the tide or to get through the year sane and with the joy and dignity it deserves. So yeah, the facts might be favorable or unfavorable from the outside but at the end it is me who decides on how to work with them or through them. Trump is a pain in the neck and his election has shown the limits of democracy when millions of disappointed citizen believe a self-absorbed womanizer and liar, but exactly those limitations will trigger the sense of resistance and finally goodness in many: the values of protecting the poor, supporting those who have to flee their home, to uphold constitutional rights  – we will see a wave of humanity balancing the ignorance of the elected ones. Whatever the perceived outlook is for somebody: the year 2017 will be as mixed, as challenging, as rewarding, as surprising like any other year before. Like in every year it will open and close doors unexpectedly, we will see people gone for good and for some of us, the door of this life will also close forever.

Who you are will determine how you manage and see the year in respective – the inner values, your stand in life, your rooting in life will at the end be the compass to navigate through all the challenges ahead. And the same goes for organizations: having build and building core values with consistency and dedication, knowing what you are good at and where to improve, having a plan and still being flexible enough to reevaluate, being adventurous while knowing your trade is the recipe for success – and this success is in the case of an NGO like HOPE Cape Town measured in the quantity of hope and love you where able to pass on to those in need of support and assistance. Every smile of a child feeling healthy and loved, every positive outlook of a struggling youngster mastering the years before adulthood will be a marker of this success; every baby born healthy and put into the arms of an exhausted mother after birth will contribute to how this year is playing out for people. Let’s take what we are faced with in 2017 and turn it as much as possible into a blessing for all concerned.

 

Filed under: HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What must fall – fees or the South African State?

Whole universities are pitted against one another – the “Wits option” vs the “UCT option”. Some academics are accused of being blindly supportive of “the innocent students” and parading their colours as the immaculate left; while others are seen as blindly securocrat, unreconstructed racists, or terminally bewildered.

So let’s (try to) agree on a modicum of common ground. Remarkably, there is a lot of it about. No-one can reasonably argue that universities are not underfunded. No-one can reasonably argue that the impact of underfunding has been transferred to fee increases, and that in turn, black (primarily African and coloured) students bear the burden. Given the failure of the post-apartheid economy to sufficiently redistribute wealth and the abject failure of trickle-down economics, “black debt” is a reality.

Let’s also accept that for many students, much of the academy is an alienating, overwhelmingly white, Eurocentric space and experience. Students arrive and are expected to meet imported norms, seminar room sarcasm, unknown customs, foreign authors, hard marking and plain hard slog of tertiary education, while being young and going through their own life transitions, and doing so in “othered” spaces, out of vernacular, and so on.

Let us also agree that virtually no university or further education college has genuinely grappled (institutionally, not at the level of the individual) with what it means to decolonise, beyond (at best) looking around quickly for some black/African authors. This is not true at school level, where many advances have been made – but these are islands in an ocean. Students swim in the ocean.

Let’s also accept the dangers of commodified knowledge and universities, and the fact that the system is slowly becoming a sausage machine for lawyers, accountants, MBAs and others deemed economically necessary for the economy. Those schools and faculties seen to add no “dollar value” are discriminated against locally and globally.

I say “let’s agree” because these issues have all been agreed to by both protesters and university management. There may be quibbles over the severity of this or that issue in this or that part of the sector, but the central issues are undisputed.

Divided we fall

So what divides us, and with such vehemence? For the immaculate left, it is ultimately a capitalist state that has no interest in the poor emerging from poverty; overlapping with black people in a society dominated by whiteliness; creating an unreconstructed racial capitalism that needs to be toppled. Students in this view lack agency, and are in every context victims of external forces. Every action is the response of victim to oppressor.

“Senior management” is seen to lead with security, follow up with more security, and have no interest in negotiation or compromise. Students just want a free, decolonised education in a transformed institution and are shot for daring to ask for it – and they remain innocent, brutalised “black bodies”.

For those who are not in this group, there is a basic commitment to teach, and to getting students to complete the academic year. They are disregarded as “liberals”, the ultimate South African insult. Security is regarded as a necessary evil – but since many academics have personally been assaulted and/or abused and/or disrupted, and many targeted for hiding students desperate to learn and/or shielding them from protesters, security seems a basic necessity. The pleas from students for support to finish the year have been incessant.

Returning to class

What is at fault with all these views is the assumption that if protesters win enough compromises – such as sector-wide agreement on free, quality, decolonised education and the need to plan, design and cost it so that it can be an implementable reality not a slogan (being self-evidently not swiftly realised) – they will return to class. And they will do so as victors. We know that the vast majority of non-protesters also want to be back in class – and a great many are there already. But this core assumption is wrong.

Students use shields belonging to private security during clashes with police at Wits University. Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

It is increasingly difficult to retreat from the notion that this is an incipient insurrection. While some protesters are undoubtedly idealistic and brave fighters for free quality education, the movement of 2015 has been colonised by political parties and anarchist movements in 2016. A movement without prominent leaders of 2015 has become leaderless in 2016.

Acts of bravery and camaraderie in 2015 have become acts of racist abuse and thuggish violence in 2016. Burning has replaced marching; destruction of university infrastructure is a key goal. This is no longer #FeesMustFall as we knew it – it has become #StateMustFall.

Universities are being used for testing the potential for broader insurrection –- if you can bring down universities you can bring down cities, if you can bring down cities, you can collapse and take control of the state. No compromise will get the core protesters back into class, or satisfy their academic or political mentors, because their goal is so much larger: state capture. It has allegedly been done once under democracy, so why not again?

Who is to blame?

Politics hates a vacuum, more than nature. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is morally compromised on every front. Seemingly all courts in the land are packed with lawyers attempting to stop good governance and allow uninterrupted bingeing at the trough. The brazen moves to cover various political derrieres are breathtaking – but create space for any other party to claim the moral high ground.

In 1976 during the Soweto youth uprising, protesting students were given political education by mainly the Black Consciousness Movement. Those students went into exile got their education from the liberation movement organisations, the ANC and the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC). Whether they were Africanist – closer to the PAC – or Charterist – aligned with the ANC – they were taught about the democratic state that had to be built and the principles on which it was to be built. Who now provides political education for protesting students?

The ANC is utterly compromised and cannot claim the moral authority to “lead”. The Democratic Alliance and ANC student wings, DASO and Sasco respectively, were loud in proclaiming their various Student Representative Council victories earlier in the year but have vanished from the scene. The prominence of Economic Freedom Fighters leaders – at national and student level – may or may not be relevant. So too the various incarnations of Black First Land First, pan-Africanist student movements and others. We are reduced to using student leaders of the 1980s as mediators, still on the faulty assumption that protesters want to return to class. They don’t. They are far more ambitious than that.

We have to call the bluff of those who keep moving the goalposts. Universities have agreed to free, quality, decolonised education in a transformed institution. Exam dates have been changed. Exam content is being modified to accommodate lost classes. But then the demands shift – we want this fully legislated now, or we won’t return to class. Or, we want amnesty for students suspended after due process regardless of what they did. Or, we want students arrested by police released. And so on and so on. These are patently not demands that the academy has the legal mandate to meet, even if we assume it had the will so to do.

If we do not call this for what it is, we face the danger of realising apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd’s dream – the man who advised us:

There is no place for [the Bantu] in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour … What is the use of teaching the Bantu child mathematics when it cannot use it in practice? That is quite absurd.

If, as seems likely, for the second year in a row, university students in South Africa are going to complete only part of their annual curriculum, and will be examined on only part of their curriculum, the result is that every subsequent year is divided between “catching up” on what was missed and squeezing a year of teaching into less time – we face the danger of ensuring that no student will receive even a quality colonised education (an oxymoron for some, of course). We are not educating our students to compete locally or globally. We are crippling them. They are being sacrificed for the few who see state capture as tantalisingly close.

Disclosure statement: David Everatt does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Filed under: Africa, General, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , ,

12th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 28th, 2017
33 days to go.

Ball of HOPE 2018

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 12th, 2018
7 months to go.

Blog Categories

Block Entries Calender

September 2017
S M T W T F S
« Aug    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Stefan Hippler Twitter Account

HOPE Cape Town Twitter Account

You can share this blog in many ways..

Bookmark and Share

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,019 other followers

Translation – Deutsch? Française? Espanol? …

The translation button is located on each single blog page, Copy the text, click the button and paste it for instant translation:
Website Translation Widget

or for the translation of the front page:

* Click for Translation

Copyright

© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

This not withstanding the following applies:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

%d bloggers like this: