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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 14, No. 29, 3 August 2015

In this Issue:

Red Alert

Cde Blade Nzimande comes from the groundwork of the liberation struggle

By Alex Mashilo

Far from the so-called disastrous assimilation of SACP cadres into the neo-liberal project as Floyd Shivambu would like people to believe, it was the SACP which characterised the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (Gear) economic strategy and the political agenda that dictated it as 'the 1996 Class Project'. It was Blade Nzimande himself who profiled the new word into the English language, "tenderpreneur" - a word which well describes Shivambu, his president Julius Malema and all those trying to hi-jack the South African revolution in order to enrich themselves using revolutionary sounding rhetoric devoid of any revolutionary essence, to mask their greed.

As Karl Marx once said, "in private life one differentiates between what a man thinks and says of himself and what he really is and does, so in historical struggles one must distinguish still more the phrases and fancies of parties from their real organism and their real interests, their conception of themselves from their reality". The EFF is a reactionary tendency opposed to the national democratic revolution - the South African road to socialism, and is led by Johnny-come-latelies whose well-known trade mark is counter-revolutionary disruptions and insults.

Most of its leadership were in fact not born during the liberation struggle, a few started their political engagement after 1994 when the apartheid regime was dislodged and most only started just now in the 2000s. This in itself is not a problem as an increasing number of young people come into politics. The problem is resistance to learning as typified by Malema. His widely reported pathetic matriculation failures show that he obtained GG in woodworking and H in mathematics - both standard grade!

Leading society to achieve prosperity is surely more complex than that. As Vladimir Lenin once said, the youth must learn! They need exemplary leaders, not charlatans who never worked anywhere but owe the receiver of revenue R16 million like Malema. According to the Public Protector's report titled 'On the Point of Tenders', Malema through his Ratanang Family Trust and shareholding in Guilder Investment was clearly implicated and improperly benefited from corrupt, fraudulent and unlawful tender conduct. 

His deputy has asked: "Where was Nzimande in the Struggle?"

Dr Blade Nzimande's involvement in the struggle can be delineated into two periods, before and after Shivambu and Malema were born. In his humble way Nzimande has a proud history of contribution in our liberation struggle in four major areas - student, community and trade union struggles and as a progressive academic activist who was a combatant in the battle of ideas.

Nzimande's participation cannot be understood by someone who does not understand the four main historical pillars of our struggle - mass mobilisation, underground organisation, international solidarity and the armed struggle.

It is absolute garbage to allege or imply that following the 1976 student uprising all students left the country except for Nzimade, who is then accused of having remained the lone student. It is absurd to allege that apartheid was fought by those who went to exile only. It is equally hogwash to allege that students who attended their education during colonial and apartheid oppression did so in order to serve the regime - simply because apartheid controlled the forms of government that prevailed and industry was controlled by whites only. It is wrong to suggest that the reason why President Nelson Mandela studied law during that period is because he wanted to implement the laws of colonial and apartheid oppression as Shivambu wants us to believe the same rubbish about Nzimande being a student during that oppression.  

From 1976 as the first year student at the University of Zululand throughout his university education Nzimande participated in all the major student struggles at that institution. This including, the struggle against the installation of Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi as the chancellor and the major struggles in response to the massacre of students by the apartheid regime on June 16. These activities led to the closure of the university, for the remainder of 1976.

In the 1980s Nzimande became active in a range of fronts of struggle, including in the building of self-defence units against the apartheid sponsored Inkatha violence at both KwaDambuza and Umlazi. As an academic activist, both at universities of Zululand and Natal, he worked with a network of NGOs and served in the board of the SA Labour Bulletin, in support of building the trade union movement both before and after the formation of COSATU. He actively worked in support of major trade union struggles at the time, like the legendary Sarmcol struggle by mid-1990s in KZN midlands.

In the late 1980s into the 1990s, Nzimande worked, under the leadership of Harry Gwala, amongst other things defending communities from apartheid violence and rebuilding ANC structures after unbanning. In fact Nzimande spent a good part of his life fighting against the IFP and counter-revolutionary violence and was never its member at any stage.

He started working with the ANC in 1986 and was later recruited by Mzala Nxumalo in SACP underground organisation early 1989. When the ANC and the SACP were unbanned, Nzimande was amongst those selected to serve in their interim structures because he was already working in their underground machinery - contrary to the lies peddled by Shivambu and his likes that Nzimande joined the ANC only in 1991. Nzimande was subsequently elected into the SACP Central Committee in 1991. He formed part of the negotiations held in the early 1990s that led to a settlement, paving the way for the elections that were held in 1994.  

One of Nzimande's most important contributions was as a progressive researcher, academic and a writer for the movement. He researched and wrote about violence in KZN, served in a number of education policy organisations in our movement from the late 1980s. This includes being Director of the Education Policy Unit set up at the directive of the ANC and the National Education Co-ordinating Committee from 1989. For the record, the SACP is working towards republishing this extensive work and the unpublished writings of other SACP leaders.

We have only briefly covered some of the most important points of Nzimande's involvement with the struggle. In fact the number of years Nzimande served in the Central Committee of the SACP, 24, is more than the age of young people being fooled by Shivambu and his ilk in the EFF. For 17 years during that 24 years Nzimande served to this day as SACP General Secretary. Nzimande is a member of both the Party's Politburo and ANC National Working Committee. He has been serving in the ANC National Executive Committee. All coming from the ground and rising through the ranks of these primary political formations of our alliance!   

We could easily write far more. However we do not want to tell the story of our leadership at the behest of the EFF tenderpreneurs. In addition, the history of our struggle is not a tender to be told and sometimes fabricated in order to serve narrow and selfish agendas.

The SACP strongly believes that the dangers of the EFF posture is the pursuit of an agenda to divide our revolutionary movement, similar to that of the apartheid regime, by trying to elevate certain terrains of struggle as better than others. This is what the apartheid regime and its supportive media tried very hard in the early 1990s - to pit those who were in exile against those who were struggling inside the country, between those who went to prison and those who did not, etc.

Similarly we must not fall into the trap of differentiating our revolutionary movement's membership on the basis of where members came from. For instance there is absolutely nothing wrong in having former IFP members or any political party for that matter realigning to our movement. As a matter of fact, the ANC won KZN mainly because it managed to win over thousands of IFP members and voters to its side - the revolutionary side.

Floyd Shivambu not only turned a blind eye on the rich history of Nzimande's contribution in the struggle. He further alleged that almost the entire SACP leadership was absent from the struggle. He mentioned a number of comrades including Jeremy Cronin, a struggle veteran who was arrested in 1976 for fighting against apartheid and subsequently spent 7 years in prison. Cronin was released from prison perhaps around the same time as Floyd was born.

The other leaders Floyd Shivambu mentioned, including SACP National Chairperson and Deputy National Chairperson Senzeni Zokwana and Thulas Nxesi respectively have a well-known, rich history in the workers' struggle both in South Africa and internationally. And the Party's National Treasurer Comrade Joyce Moloi is not a Jonny-come-lately either as opposed to the entire top echolons of the EFF's dictatorship.

SACP leadership and membership includes comrades who received military training in the Soviet Union in order to fight apartheid long before Shivambu and his wannabe "commander-in-chief" Julius Malema were born.

Floyd Shivambu has talked of "electoral disasters", referring to a number of senior ANC and SACP leaders. There is no electoral disaster in the ANC and SACP. An electoral disaster however occurred when the seeds of the EFF were laid in April 2008 when Julius Malema was elected ANCYL president in a dirty display of private parts by some delegates and that congress collapsed.

When it was reconvened, another electoral disaster occurred. Floyd Shivambo, who never rose through the ranks of the ANCYL was parachuted to its NEC. Floyd is a notorious electoral disaster that was rejected by SASCO. He was elected to the National Committee of the Young Communist League but after realising that he was an electoral disaster the Young Reds expelled him long before the ANC dealt with him and his so-called "commander-in-chief". The lies peddled by Floyd and cheered by ignorance are actually driven by his bitterness from all this. This agenda coincided with preparations for the appearance of Julius Malema in court on Monday, 3 August 2015 over charges of corruption!  

It is important for our cadres to continue to expose the opportunism and self-enrichment agenda of the EFF tenderpreneurs, and close ranks to drive a second, more radical phase of our revolution. As our Special National Congress said, communist cadres must be in the forefront to unite the working class, our communities, and our movement!

#NzimandeWasInTheStruggle

* Alex Mashilo is SACP Spokesperson. A shortened version of this piece was published by the Sunday Independent on 2 August 2014.

 

“Rid yourself of your PHD mentality, Cde. Floyd”

By Dr Michael Sutcliffe

Soon after Cde Sbu Ndebele was released from Robben Island I remember him venturing forth on one aspect of the tragedy of apartheid: that African South Africans often adopted the PHD mentality when trying to demonstrate their intellectual prowess. Of course those PHDs were cdes who Put Him/Her Down (PHD) rather than engage substantively in advance of the National Democratic Revolution and the struggle for socialism.

Whilst I am not a member of the SACP and hold no brief to speak on behalf of Cde Blade Nzimande, I have known him and worked with him since 1984, probably around the time Cde Floyd was born. I remember distinctly the night Blade and I first met – at the Umlazi campus of the University of Zululand. I was a temporary lecturer in Geography and he was on the Psychology faculty. Blade was well known on that campus as one of the few outspoken progressives and that is why I sought him out.

Both of us taught adult part-time students, most of whom travelled each day up to 200 kilometres each way to study and ultimately get degrees. I still remember getting to campus that night, a night much the same as ones before and after where simply getting to the campus was a mission – roadblocks galore, the stench of teargas, and security forces everywhere. I always used the sight of the helicopters to work my way around the backroads, avoiding detection in getting to campus. As we worked then in the UDF and in the many formations of the liberation movement, we did not walk around announcing who we were and what we were doing, but we all accepted that each was working in their own way to undo the apartheid state, brick by brick, mortar shell by mortar shell.

But I remember my first meeting with Cde Blade because I confronted him and asked him if I could give a lecture in his course on what I saw as African schizophrenia, where Africans under apartheid had to adopt two personalities – one for when they engaged with whites and the other was the personality of who they really were. That trait still continues today – don’t we still hear rich people often saying that – “my maid thinks…..”.

Blade and I became comrades from then onwards. We worked together on UDF and ANC work, well before 1990. No-one paid R12 for membership cards then, but we all struggled hard together. We met comrades abroad as well and I could list the many leaders, some now having passed on and others alive, who would vouch for that. Blade was hugely articulate and engaged independently in ways not dissimilar to Cdes like Pallo Jordan.

We also engaged progressive academics together, holding meetings to encourage them to be part of our democratic future. For your edification, the Joint Academic Staff Association at the University of Natal was the only academic staff association in the whole of South Africa that was affiliated to the UDF. Blade drove and launched the only academic journal written in isiZulu, in a way not unlike Dr Dube’s newspaper Ilanga, showing us that we needed to move beyond our Anglocentric ways.

Blade became the mainstay of the Education Policy Unit started in the late 1980s and which laid the foundation for building a new educational order. We worked closely on the many Post Apartheid South Africa policy initiatives before 1990, all of which were initiated by our ANC leadership and which required us to meet clandestinely abroad.

In the 1980s Blade moved back home to Msunduzi and working under the leadership of Cde Harry Gwala and all our comrades there had to face the apartheid wars of the Edendale valley. Of course, later on we then had to focus on peace-making and reconstruction.

Floyd, I would be delighted to take you around some of those sites, to show you Mshayazafe and Inanda, Umlazi, SJ Smith and teach you about the many terrible things that happened when you were probably still in diapers. The “Saracen Republic” graffiti still stands at the entrance to Umlazi signifying what it was like when you were barely born. And in all of that Blade was there.

Don’t be so blinded by emotion that you focus on the men and not the ball. We all have many virtues and faults: after all I drink red wine and you drink imported whisky. But I do think we are all still committed to the continuing liberation of our country. We differ in ideas, methods and praxis, and that’s what we want to hear, for as Marx taught us all in his Thesis on Feuerbach: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it”.

#NzimandeWasInTheStruggle

Dr Michael Sutcliffe worked with Cde Blade Nzimande since 1984 in the liberation struggle. This piece was submitted to the Independent Media as one of the responses to Floyd Shivambu’s figment of imagination.

Umsebenzi Online is the online voice of the South African Working Class

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