Every revolution has its own Bruno Mtolos, traitors of the time

2015-04-16 16:36

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It is not a secret that the current generation of Economic Freedom Fighters is inspired by the freedom fighters of the early 1940s in the ANC-led liberation movement who, during the formation of the ANC Youth League, proclaimed “freedom in our lifetime”.

This generation of freedom fighters is indisputably the most outstanding generation of freedom fighters in South Africa, and possibly Africa and the world’s political history.

The early 1940s generation included giant figures such as Mxolisi Majombozi, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, AP Mda, Robert Sobukwe, Congress Mbatha, Robert Resha, Anton Lembede and William Nkomo.

The outstanding features of this generation were:

» Ideological clarity in that they were able to give proper meaning to the struggle for national liberation and gave a clearer context and meaning of what is meant by African nationalism,

» Fearlessness and militancy, in that in everything they did, the resounding fearlessness was unparalleled as this is the generation that dared the apartheid regime through utter defiance of petty segregationist laws; and

» Unity in that, for many years, this generation understood and accepted that they carried a generational mission of “freedom in our lifetime”, literally meaning that they were determined to attain political freedom before they died.

The subjective contributions of Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Robert Sobukwe, and Nelson Mandela led to the defiance campaign, the Sharpeville and Langa uprisings, the Rivonia Trial, and massive internal solidarity programmes carried out by the world against apartheid. This, of course, is in recognition of the reality that, although objective conditions allow for revolutions to occur, the subjective revolutionary determination and will of those leading the revolution is also necessary to make the revolution occur.

Che Guevara said: “The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.” Like the current generation of economic freedom fighters, this was a generation that refused to fail.

Of course, the route towards freedom was not easy and was threatened by many developments: the life imprisonment of the freedom fighters and banishment/isolation of Sobukwe, depriving the Pan Africanist Congress of the necessary ideological and political guidance he could have provided.

The major disruption was the Rivonia Trial and its possibilities, as it could have culminated in either life imprisonment or the execution of these political giants.

During the trial, the whole world was persuaded that the ultimate sentence would be capital punishment, because the apartheid machinery was brutal and upping the gear in suppressing dissenting voices.

To secure the conviction of the Rivonia Triallists, the state needed evidence from the inside operations of the MK. Someone who came in handy was Bruno Mtolo, who was part of the Natal Regional Command.

Mtolo was an activist from KwaZulu-Natal and appeared more committed and determined than the rest of the freedom fighters in KwaZulu-Natal. He was considered one of the most outstanding cadres and fighters for liberation, and dedicated his life to the struggle for political freedom in our lifetime.

His generation never thought nor believed that he would ever define himself outside the struggles for the liberation of the people.

Despite these outstanding revolutionary qualities, Mtolo had his own subjective challenges and weaknesses, including his relationship with alcohol and personal financial problems.

This aspect of his life, like is the case with many freedom fighters across the African continent, had massive potential to undermine and trivialise his commitment to the struggle.

Mtolo was one of the founding members of Umkhonto weSizwe and was among the most trusted because he displayed a degree of commitment to the struggle for freedom in the lifetime of his generation of freedom fighters.

However, he sold out and testified against his comrades when they were arrested and indicted by the apartheid regime for treason, in what came to be known as the Rivonia Trial.

Mtolo also led a public campaign that undermined the leadership of the struggle for freedom in our lifetime.

In the Rivonia Trial and the interviews he gave afterwards, Mtolo’s complaint was that leaders of the struggle for freedom had clean and better houses, dressed in proper clothes, had cars, and had money to pay bail when arrested.

Because of these petty and aside complaints, Mtolo saw it fit to work for the apartheid regime and testified in the trial.

Were it not for massive international campaigns against the execution of political leaders, Mtolo would have secured the triallists’ execution by the racist, brutal apartheid regime.

If Bruno Mtolo had his way, Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu’s journey to freedom would have been terminated and told by the apartheid historians. These would possibly say that there once were disrupters who wanted to overthrow the government and were executed for challenging white and racist dominance of the black majority.

Society should know that there are traitors in all potentially successful revolutions.

This is also mentioned to illustrate that in certain historical conjunctures there are political beings who seem to narrowly believe that revolution means that revolutionaries should live in squalor and have nothing to self-sustain.

The notion that Economic Freedom Fighters and socialists should live in squalor should be dismissed with contempt and disdain.

Here is Mtolo, who lived on borrowed money and was reportedly always under the influence of affordable alcohol, but was never revolutionary. There are still such characters in our politics today, who liken untidiness and squalor with being revolutionary.

Of course conspicuous consumption and ostentation should never be encouraged among the leadership of Economic Freedom Fighters, yet stability is essential for all economic freedom fighters and the people of South Africa to fight for the emancipation of the people of the country, Africa and the world.

This informs the commitment of the EFF to create sustainable conditions for all our ground forces and activists and will do so for all, as and when we grow.

With relatively minute resources available from Parliamentary and Electoral Commission allocations, the EFF expends a substantial component of our resources providing strategic and necessary support to regional and provincial chairpersons and secretaries who are unemployed.

All members of the EFF in Parliament and provincial legislatures contribute a certain percentage of their salaries to the work of the organisation and remain with necessary resources to travel and contribute to organisational growth and development.

It is not a secret that the resources provided to members of Parliament are used for the necessary political work in various constituencies with the aim of growing the organisation.

Without structured support, often leaders of regions, provinces and national leaders fail to attend meetings and perform the necessary tasks.

Bruno Mtolos will never be in a position to understand this basic principle because of lack of ideological and political foresight.

It is essential that those with full-time responsibilities for the organisation are stable.

The first EFF national people’s assembly adopted resolutions to support cooperatives in order to guarantee consistent income for ordinary people – our members and leaders of the EFF at a local level.

The commitment from the assembly was that, because we are not yet the government and couldn’t implement a substantial component of our economic transformation resolutions, we should develop and support cooperatives that would economically empower ordinary people on the ground and capacitate our branches to perform their functions in a consistent and well-resourced fashion.

Bruno Mtolos would not understand this because of a lack of ideological foresight.

We have our own Bruno Mtolos, who see nothing wrong in delegitimising the EFF and its leaders in public discourse, causing divisions in the movement. This should never serve to discourage our determination to fight, it should instead inspire us to fight with determination, with an understanding that all revolutions have their own traitors.

Like Bruno Mtolo, the reactionaries of our time will be devoured by history and thrown into its dustbin, remembered as those who tried to derail and defocus the struggle for economic freedom.

If fighters believe that the struggle for economic freedom can be carried though and on a different platform, they are at liberty to do so and we will never be recalcitrant that they are fighting from a different platform.

There was a conspicuous sushi-eating Maverick in the EFF initial stages and he founded an ethnic-based political party, targeted at coloured people. As the EFF, we carried on.

Internal destabilisation and disinformation in the EFF is totally inappropriate and reactionary, and something that will never succeed. It amounts to joining hands with our primary enemy (white monopoly capital) and their representatives (ANC and Democratic Alliance), and should therefore be treated as such. The remedy is the application of decisive and revolutionary code of conduct, and that is exactly what the EFF did in the recent past.

» Floyd Shivambu is deputy president of the Economic Freedom Fighters.

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