Mass action is the next step in accountability

2015-02-23 06:00

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Our country has been in a crisis of racialised inequality and poverty for more than three centuries now.

Since the establishment of Euro-colonial rule, black people have not known freedom in as far as access to the means of subsistence – water, sanitation, houses and food – is concerned.

The democratic pact delivered by the liberation movement has also not succeeded in transforming Euro-colonial patterns of life and ownership, key among which is access to land, both residential and agricultural.

The liberation movement that delivered political gains, such as the right to vote as well as the rights to freedom of speech, thought and ­assembly, has, through macroeconomic policies rooted in free market fundamentalism, deepened the racial character of the economy.

Our people remain beggars and hobos in their own land.

The ANC has kept white monopoly capital in economic power and protects its superexploitation of local black labour and mineral ­resources.

As a result, the ANC has become a cancer in our society that is slowly eating away at the democratic gains of 1994.

It is this cancer that deployed police to Marikana, to brutally murder and massacre the 34 mine workers who were asking for a better wage. It is this cancer that killed people in Mothutlung when they protested for water.

The ANC has also failed dismally to address the corruption that characterises its rule of the country. The epitome of this corruption is ­allowing its president to build himself and his family a home in which there is a private clinic – when many ordinary citizens lack access to ­basic healthcare right outside his doorstep in Nkandla.

They have protected a man who used millions of rands that should have been spent on public resources to build himself a swimming pool, cattle kraal, tuck shop and chicken run – dubbed a security upgrade.

We have seen the downfall of institutions of public accountability, including the disbandment of the Scorpions, the SA Revenue Service being used as a tool against political opponents, the undoing of the National Prosecuting Authority and the Hawks, as well as public attacks on the office of the Public Protector.

President Jacob Zuma during the debate on his state of the nation address during a joint sitting in Parliament this week. Picture: Lerato Maduna

Which brings us to Parliament.

Parliament has been ineffectual against the cancer that is paralysing all institutions. Here, a robust and uncompromising voice of ­accountability is rising and gaining real public confidence.

Unable to shut down the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) through the rules or through argument, the ANC has again opted to use police force, which resulted in EFF MPs being physically assaulted – all for wanting the president to be accountable.

It does not help to talk about the timing and manner of questioning the president, because the EFF demonstrated that Parliament can ­interrupt the state of the nation address (Sona) and demand accountability from Number 1.

It is critical that the focus remain on holding the president and his Cabinet accountable.

Why does the EFF fight so much for accountability? It is because the state is all we have to democratically resolve the problems inherited from colonial rule.

The state, with all its weaknesses, is the democratic apparatus that can ­inclusively lead a radical programme of land ­redistribution and economic freedom.

However, anything the state does can be harmful if those who lead us cannot be held accountable, particularly when they use public resources for their personal gain.

The events of this year’s Sona must, therefore, not be read in isolation of how the government of the day has generally become cancerous to society. They must not be read in isolation of how public dissent is dealt with by the ANC.

We know that in the townships, when people protest for water, government sends the police. When people protest for shelter, government sends the police. When people protest for toilets, government sends the police.

Similarly, when someone asks a critical question in Parliament, instead of providing the answer, the ANC government calls the police to forcibly remove MPs from the House.

For the EFF, Thursday was the beginning of a long journey of robust and uncompromising demand for accountability that will spread across the country.

We are still educating society, making it debate and question power – with us. In the process of such an interrogation of power and the demand to hold it accountable, our people gain confidence and the willingness to be active participants in the political discourse of Parliament.

They gain political consciousness, which we will translate into revolutionary action through mass participation.

We will link everything we do inside Parliament to a programme of mass action outside of it.

The National Assembly will have to debate many of the critical policies and questions, with masses of our people waiting outside Parliament and legislatures for an outcome favourable to the will of the people.

This is the only way to remedy our colonial contradictions and the terrible cancer that paralyses this country’s institutions and people.

It is the only programme that will lead to economic freedom in our lifetime.

Malema is leader of the EFF

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