“Nie dieu nie maitre!” a slogan first coined and popularized by a French socialist by the name Louis Auguste Blanqui in 1880, which literally translates to “No Gods, No Masters” when he published a journal with the same title. These words reverberate at the backdrop of ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Joel Netshitenzhe’s article in Daily Maverick titled Defend Our Democracy: South Africa beware Ace Magashule’s RET faction will fight till the bitter end”.
Three issues stand out, a) the vicious attack by the right wing on Busisiwe Mkhwebane as Public Protector, b) the attitude of the ANC towards a party of the apartheid elite, the Democratic Alliance, c) the character of Netshitenzhe’s attack on radical economic transformation and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule constitute an organised bloc of right wingers inside the ANC who eat at the same palm of those who still hoard the land, banks, mines and all principal means of production in South Africa.
Firstly, in relation to the attack on Mkhwebane, Netshitenze writes that, “South Africans, including the mass of members of the ANC cannot allow the advances of 2017, and the constitutional order to be subverted. The campaign against this assault on our democracy should be intensified”.
Netshitenzhe already assumes a position with the rest of the article defending this opening line that from 2017 South Africa has advanced in some way.
What Netshitenzhe does not do is to state what these advances are at concrete level at least for the majority of South Africans swimming in poverty. What are these so-called advances to the ANC mass rank and file that is riddled by retrenchments, high unemployment and squalor?
Youth unemployment is at crisis levels. He cannot even argue for a basic return of youth activism in the form of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) to catalyze the renewal of the ANC, as it has been historically.
Netshitenzhe justifies the media mantra of state capture against those he leads with, that the problems in South Africa start and end with the Jacob Zuma presidency. He gives a misleading impression that 2017 marked an end to corruption. Interestingly, Netshitenzhe in his woeful description of these unmentioned advances, skillfully suggests that renewal is a moral question of leaders as opposed to a political and ideological injunction to liberate the poor with radical economic policies.
In his description, corporate corruption by companies like mining giant Glencore who still today owe Eskom billions for inflating the prices of a God given resource like coal, is not really an issue. ABSA, under Maria Ramos as Barclays CEO of Africa, admitted to the competition commission in 2017 to have rigged the rand. There is no radical critique by the so-called “policy guru” against private capital sins which engender structural poverty for the black majority. In fact, for the past 27 years he has been an ideological figurehead in the ANC against free education and everything that advances African people, particularly the working class.
When Mkhwebane dared to touch the untouchables by demanding ABSA to pay back the money, Netshitenzhe knew that the Public Protector’s net may also be approaching Nedbank, where he occupies a senior position. It is therefore in Netshitenzhe’s personal interest to see Mkhwebane out.
Netshitenzhe refers to “prima facie evidence of incompetence and wrongdoing”. Indeed there is prima facie evidence that Mkhwebane does not eat from the palm of white monopoly capital. The fact that Mkhwebane is the first Public Protector to record a clean audit in South Africa, and that her office has done over 40 000 service delivery reports, successfully changing lives of the ordinary people as a Chapter 9 institution, is conveniently ignored by Netshitenzhe.
He ideologically and strategically misleads in order to defend the convenient marriage with the racist Democratic Alliance. To Netshitenzhe, his fellow comrades, especially Magashule and Zuma, are like former leader of Mozambique’s guerilla movement Renamo, and Angolan military and revolutionary politician Jonas Savimbi, while DA leader John Steenhuisen and the party’s former leader, Helen Zille, are his “liberation allies”, even if for an opportunistic moment!
Secondly, in relation the ANC’s theory of the National Democratic Revolution NDR); it is anchored on liberating the historically oppressed with a finality of creating an egalitarian society. The DA is not just any political party, it is a political home of those racists who hoard the majority of the wealth of this country. The DA will never vote with the ANC to resolve the mass poverty of the people.
In other words, in the contending class forces for the resources of the country, the DA is very clear: never vote with the ANC, but Netshitenzhe makes the ANC to vote with the DA on strategic questions.
This is why the DA and Afri-Forum are united against BEE and Affirmative Action seeing these to be reverse racism. The class enemy of the NDR will never agree with the class interests of the “many ANC members” on whose behalf Netshitenzhe claims to speak. The people who owned the land under apartheid, banks, large industries, game reserves, mass media, mines, asset management companies still own them today, and have anchors inside the ANC in people who have chosen to trade their political credentials, such as Netshitenzhe.
In the document, “Advance to National Democracy: ANC Guidelines on Strategy and Tactics” the ANC states;
“The contradiction between the oppressed black majority and the white oppressor state is the most visible and dominant within South Africa. Conflict within our society derives from the system of oppression and exploitation. This contradiction cannot be resolved by the apartheid state reforming itself. Attempts by the ruling Nationalist Party to change its image and on that basis draw around itself a coalition offers primarily from the black community are aimed at blunting this contradiction on a platform of modified white domination”
It further says, “the sense of national grievance against oppression and the fight against exploitation constitute the driving force of the national democratic revolution. The liberation movement faces the challenge of harnessing these elements into a mighty force to sweep aside the apartheid state and create a united, non-racial and democratic society. Attempts by the regime and its allies to divert the masses from this reality, and to confine the terrain of debate and contest to areas conveniently defined by the champions of oppression and exploitation must be resisted”.
Thirdly therefore, there is no difference between the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, the Defend Our Democracy and its predecessor Save-SA. The minerals-energy-complex funded Netshitenzhe’s research institute, Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic reflection (MISTRA) and indeed, the DA. They are all defending common interests that are threatened by the RET programme. In the field of ideas, there are no gods, no gurus. We want our land back and no amount of forked-tongue speak from ruling class auxiliaries like Netshitenzhe will change that.
- Kamvelihle Goba is a student-youth activist. He holds a BA degree from the University of Johannesburg, and is a registered first year LLB student at Unisa.
OPINION: Kamvelihle Goba