Juju’s my man

2011-06-11 09:27

Perhaps I should mention from the outset that I am a voting delegate and that neither I nor members of our branch personally know ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema.

Equally, we have never been influenced by anyone outside our branch on our planning and leadership perspectives in relation to the upcoming 24th youth league’s congress.

In this short article, I will present the political basis for our principled and solid state of readiness to proverbially “shoot to kill” in defence of Julius Malema and the league.

To this end, I will highlight some of the current youth challenges and then argue how president Malema’s leadership qualities fit perfectly, like a plug in a socket, in terms of what is to be done.

It is 17 years after the hard-won 1994 democratic dispensation, but the reality is that the poor black majority are now worse off while the rich minority (usually white males) appear to have consolidated their wealth, which was “accumulated through dispossession”, as David Harvey noted.

No wonder then that one in 10 Africans are half-starved and one in four African children are undersized. About 45% of the total South African population lives on less than R13 a day.

Furthermore, consistent with the National Treasury document on Confronting Youth Unemploy­- ment, cited in the 24th ANCYL Discussion Document on Youth Development for Economic Freedom, the unemployed youth are normally less skilled and inexperienced, with nearly 80% having no formal or tertiary education, while two-thirds have never worked, putting a strain on the social security system.

Unemployment remains prevalent post-1994, with almost 24% of the workforce unemployed. The youth form the majority of the unemployed, with almost 70% loitering on the streets.

The post-1994 situation vindicates Frantz Fanon’s discovery that “you are rich because you are white and . . . you are poor because you are black”.

Ha-Joon Chang, the author of 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, refers to post-1994 South Africa as a “cappuccino society” by virtue of the fact that there is a group of poor black people at the bottom, a small layer of white froth above that and a sprinkling of cocoa (black elite) on the top.

To be fair, the ANC-led government has managed to score some victories, although much more still needs to be done.

To illustrate, more than 2.2 million houses have been built for the poor, giving shelter to almost 10 million people, six million households have gained access to clean water since 1994 and about five million have been electrified.

The majority of public schools have free tuition and school-feeding schemes.

A National Student Aids Financial Scheme has assisted a lot of us previously disadvantaged young people even though the majority of graduates remain unemployed.

How do Juju’s leadership qualities fit into all of this?

Juju understands the causal factors of all youth challenges and that our national democratic revolution is not an end in itself but a means to an end.

 And this end is a society free of exploitation of one man by another, consistent with the Freedom Charter and contrary to the one where the government executive is relegated to managing the interests of big business, as Marx and Engels warned.

In summary, I and my branch support Julius Malema because:

» The ANCYL has grown from 400 000 to 600 000 members since Malema took over and is now (in)famous. Almost every young person knows about the youth league. Whether they agree with the league or not is not important.

What is important is that they know the league exists.

» Juju strengthened the ANC through defending its leaders even when it was unpopular to do so.

» He sustained the legacy of the youth league as the preparatory school or a factory for fresh thinking in the ANC.

» He is not infallible, but he can pick himself up and move forward just like a soldier who stumbles and falls on the battle field, but never gives up fighting.

» He criticises constructively in that he identifies the source of the problem and proposes a way forward.

» He can swallow his pride and remain disciplined even when those we supported, when it was unfashionable to do so, ridicule him and turn against him just because they cannot control him.

» He is committed to a translation of political power into economic freedom in our lifetime.

» Finally, Juju is forever ready to defend the autonomy of the youth league, which is apparently misunderstood by most senior leaders of the ANC (but we forgive them since most of them have never been active ANCYL members, and have only read about the league in newspapers).

On the basis of the above, I reaffirm my support for Juju as an advocate for economic freedom in our lifetime.

Anything else amounts to a perpetuation of the legacy of colonial apartheid with populism and patronage being used to give us false hope as Fanon’s Pitfalls of National Consciousness once argued.

» ‘Guerrilla’ Zondi is Moses Mabhida’s ward 3 ANC branch secretary and is a voting delegate to the 24th national congress of the ANCYL. He writes in his personal capacity 

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