ANC Youth League members protest outside Absa Bank in Ballito. (Amanda Khoza, News24)
Young people should be probing why the ANC finds it acceptable to use 1994 as a yardstick with which to measure progress, writes Ntando Sindane.
With May 8 in sight, it is apt
that we have a light-hearted discussion with young people of South Africa who
insist that they are going to vote for the ANC. These are young people from
different class backgrounds; from unemployed back youths of our country’s
townships, to the ones on various middle-class university campuses.
All these young people,
notwithstanding the various class realities, are conjoined in their unequivocal
support for the ANC. Even the ones who claim higher consciousness or portray
themselves as woke youth activists, come out strongly to put their weight
firmly behind the ANC.
Of this ilk, notable names
that come to my mind include Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, Mcebo Dlamini and Chumani
Maxwele. These are young people who shot up to fame in the aftermath of 2015/16
'fees must fall' student protest. Educated in the country’s leading
universities and with relative “struggle credentials” one could reasonably
argue that these young activists represent the future leaders of South Africa.
What sayest thou when the
future of South Africa firmly supports the ANC?
There are a thousand
inferences that could be teased out from this question, but for the purposes of
this engagement I shall limit it to two possibilities: (1) these young people
are neck-deep into the cesspool of colonial logic and reasoning; and (2) they
suffer from the chronic yet soft bigotry of low expectations.
Colonial logic says, "Give
a black man/woman anything, and he/she will mess it up. Black man is not good
enough to handle his own affairs, imagine what would happen if you allow him to
run his own country!" This is the reasoning that continued to
mischievously justify apartheid long after South Africa’s independence from British
colonial rule. Steve Biko observed that one of the inherent attitudes of white
liberals, is that they always want to provide “guidance” to the black folk. They
immerse themselves in black movements, masquerading as ones in solidarity with
the struggle of black people, but their main purpose is to police how black
people respond to oppression.
Biko draws from Fanon’s
assertion that to whiteness, the black body remains a perpetual infant.
contemporarily, the EFF's Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (in his PhD thesis titled, "Permanent
juniority: black youth politics in the Vaal under late colonisation") explains
that apartheid colonialism practically affected both Fanon’s and Biko’s
observations, by entrenching a state of permanent juniority in the youth of
South Africa. The essence of colonial reasoning, remains the benign driver
behind prevailing neo-colonialism and coloniality that supervenes Africa and
the rest of the global South today.
The 1994 democratic
breakthrough, presents South Africa with a new opportunity to have a majority
government. To put it bluntly, the government of the ANC is a majority government,
voted for by a black majority. The government of the ANC is supposedly a representative
of the black body’s pride, skill and prowess, post-independence. However,
contrary to revolutionary expectations, it continues to validate the racist
colonial idea about black people.
the country in a downward spiral
With the benefit of 25 years
post 1994, it is commonplace to assert that ANC continues to lead this country in
a downward spiral. The senseless butchering of black bodies in Marikana, the
Life Esidimeni massacre, rampant growth in crime rates, massive joblessness,
the consistent rise of the price of fuel, extremely poor service delivery and other
socio-economic inequalities, are just some of the examples of how the ANC has
validated the silly colonial reasoning that when given a country to govern, the
black body will burn it to ashes.
The black body, according to
this racist logic, in a permanent state of juniority, cannot think deeply about
challenges facing society and is incapable of planning for the future.
More pointedly, cities don't
fall out of the sky and do not automatically form themselves through some
long-drawn and uncontrolled process of migration, urbanisation or industrialisation.
All major cities of the world were planned for, and designed by the respective
governments of the countries within which those cities are situated.
Establishing a city from scratch requires inter alia a government with
extremely incredible foresight, political will and a high level of technical
Cities, once fully functional,
become drivers of economic growth, through job creation, knowledge production,
tourism and many other factors. A country that is serious about creating
sustainable economic growth for the future, should already be investing in
plans to establish new cities.
fish swimming in a jungle
This is of course too much to
expect from the ANC. They can barely establish a mere university from scratch,
hence asking for a city from an ANC government would be wanting to ask a fish
to swim in the jungle. The ANC is out of ideas and this is largely characterised
by its lack of depth in responding to complex societal questions.
Even in the National Development
Plan (NDP), you hardly note any workable or substantively implementable plan of
action. For instance, the NDP states that 70% of all academic staff in
universities should be holding PhDs by the end of the year 2030. To this end,
government splashes billions of rands every year in NRF funding and towards
university bursaries for PhD candidates, but that's where it ends.
There is no substantive and
comprehensive plan to deal with other historical bottlenecks and obstacles in
doctoral studies that lead to a low throughput, especially among black
academics. The money that is set aside to realise the goals envisaged by the
NDP gets lost in corruption, either through a NSFAS system that is riddled with
structural ineptitudes or brazen corruption or endless tender fraud that is administered
by greedy and untouchable university councils.
The example of cities and
universities is just a tip of the iceberg. Upon closer inspection, one will be
distraught to note that the ANC doesn’t have a single comprehensive plan or
solution to any challenge facing our society. Recently, this reality has gotten
so worse, such that the ANC that always claims to be “a leader of society” has
been seen copying and pasting EFF policies word-for-word.
From Parliament, to Nasrec,
and even to election strategies; it has become a norm that once EFF leader,
Julius Malema will addresses a rally, then a few weeks later ANC president,
Cyril Ramaphosa, regurgitates Malema's sentiments word for word. This is a
trend that started with EFF’s policy on land, nationalisation, mass industrialisation
and others, then proceeded on copying even the simplest of things, such as
Twitter campaign methods and/or hashtags.
people should not be satisfied with 'bare minimum'
I insist, that there isn't any
self-respecting, upright and conscious young black person who will vote for the
ANC on May 8. Pardon the older generation, who lived through apartheid; whose
present experience is that of a paradise. To them, free RDP houses, social
grants, no fee schools, the continuously bulging black middle class and other banal
things such as the abolition of racial segregation in public facilities symbolise
an arrival to the proverbial Canaan, but for young people all of these things [should]
present a bare-minimum.
Young people should be probing
why the ANC finds it acceptable to use 1994 as a yardstick with which to
measure progress. It should be trite that the National Party government was a
crime against humanity, and a government that expressly excluded the black
majority. Wanting to therefore use National Party standards to measure your own
progress, is to willingly stoop to the lowest of the low.
historically, young people should always expect better, strive for better and
be better. This is a fact that was authenticated by the youth of Tehran
University in Iran in 1979, who after the revolution and the overthrow of the
Shah were achieved, took it upon themselves to further ransack the American
embassy, hold it hostage, and demand for the return of all Iranian money stolen
by the erstwhile regime.
This is but one example, of
how young people elsewhere in the world have pushed much further for freedom to
be realised in its truest sense. The complacent black youth, that continues to
vote for an ANC of pensioners, should perhaps be reminded that Steve Biko was
merely 30 years old when he was murdered; Anton Muziwakhe Lembede was 33 years
old when he died and Fidel Castro was 27 years old when the July 26th
movement was formed. Yet in their youth they championed the struggles of the
people, without adhering to colonial logic or embracing low expectations.
All these former fees must
fall activists, and young people generally, who vote and campaign for the ANC
should be named and shamed for who they really are; sell-outs, colonial
subjects and persons with low expectations for themselves and their country.
- Ntando "Chairman" Sindane is
a postgraduate student at Unisa's department of mercantile law. He writes in
his ideological capacity.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. ener is a specialist reporter for News24.
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