26 January 2008

Once And For All

Here, linked below, are the fifth and sixth of the nine Polokwane Resolutions, made by the 52nd National Conference of the African National Congress (ANC) in December, 2007.

The resolution on Rural Development seems to be well regarded by some of the people in the field. The resolution mentions FAWU, the 65-year old pioneer trade union, and rightly so, as part of any solution to the problems of rural South Africa. Yet the resolution itself indicates that these solutions are not a simple matter of prescription.

Among other things, the resolution on Rural Development says: “Black economic empowerment and the deracialisation of agricultural ownership is a necessary but insufficient condition for the realisation of our transformation goals in rural South Africa.” In that case, what would be sufficient? The Communist University would like to hear from all you scholars out there about this. Is it agrarian (farming) reform that rural South Africa needs? Or would that be insufficient, unless wider and more comprehensive economic reforms are instituted, that will begin to eradicate the difference between town and country, permanently?

The Resolution on State and Governance includes decisions on the electoral system, floor-crossing, the single public service, and the transformation of the judiciary. It also marks down several other matters for continuing attention and later final resolution. These include the future of the Provinces; the lowering of the minimum voting age; anti-“javelin” rules; and the possibility of a Women’s Ministry (i.e. the question of specialisation/ghettoisation versus mainstreaming).

The Resolution on State and Governance also includes the following useful and quotable sentence: “The use of force during public demonstrations and mass protests resulting in such unacceptable actions as violent assaults against the people, intimidation in various forms, looting and destruction of property should be unequivocally condemned.”

ANC Today has been running a series of digests of the Polokwane Resolutions, which we have carried as they have come out. Part III of this series is linked below. It discusses the State and Governance resolution.

When we listed the “Coming Event” at Wits University from 28-31 January 2008 we called it “
Conference at Wits University Origins Centre”. The full advertised title is “Paradoxes of the Postcolonial Public Sphere: South African Democracy at the Crossroads”. We know this now, because a full-colour, 36-page, A4-landscape, heavy-paper stapled booklet about it has arrived today, free with the Weekender newspaper.

It is hard to assess the meaning and purpose of this event. The brochure (and its electronic equivalent) are done in a faux-punk collage style that was quite difficult to reduce to a simple chronological programme, but we have done that for you (
click here to see it). The brochure acknowledges three sponsors: Atlantic Philanthropies, the Origins Centre, and the Goethe Institute. Apart from that, we are left to speculate about the purpose, based on the personalities listed in the brochure, and the eclectic, post-modern rag-bag of ideological material scattered through the brochure.

It seems to be about public discourse, and what one wants to say at first is this: that the Communist University has been in the public sphere for nearly five years, and we are at home there, and even quite well known there by this time, and particularly so in Braamfontein, the part of Johannesburg that we share with the another university, Wits. Yet this thing of theirs does not touch us or invite us, let alone involve us in its planning. It looks rather like the Mail & Guardian’s “Thought Leader” blog-kennel in this respect. We would expect that if we approached the organisers they would say, like those other “Though Leaders”: hacks are not required; we are non-political; you are attached to the Communist Party; we (although at Wits and well funded) are “alternative”; you are Stalinist. So, David Bullard is invited there, and has permission to insult SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande in print, in the programme, but Comrade Blade himself will not be invited.

Therefore, like so many liberals before them, the organisers of this event are not really concerned about the public sphere at all, but more with splitting the public sphere into two, if they only could (but they cannot). They would prefer a public sphere of their own, a well-funded anti-communist one; and perhaps, or perhaps not, they would allow another, rubbish-bin rabotchy-class skorokoro spaza public sphere where the communists might be permitted to exist in the dark, and occasionally to be patronised by the larnie sellouts, when they feel like a bit of slumming.

If you go to this event you will sit through the presentations of the privileged platform speakers. When it comes time for contributions from the floor, the imposed chairperson will announce that unfortunately, the programme is running late. You may be able to blurt out a few angry words of protest, but that will be all. This event is for celebrating celebrities. It is for anointing the acceptable. It is not critical. It’s a bore.

We have to defend ourselves and our intellectual concerns. That is our job here. Yet we are constantly reminded that there are those who pay with their lives, every day, within the racist capitalist system, in those parts where the battle of ideas is waged with material deprivations, exclusions, and even with rifles. Please click on the link to COSATU GS Zwelinzima Vavi’s short and powerful speech at the funeral of the four people killed by the young white sniper in Skielik. It arrived while the above was being written.

We would point out that the Skielik sniper was not even born in 1988 when Barend Strydom killed 8 black people and wounded 16 with a rifle in a in Pretoria Square. When the negotiations came along, Afrikaners insisted on an amnesty for Strydom. So South Africa’s last white President, F W de Klerk (picture) gave Strydom a presidential pardon in 1992. Thus, in the name of “reconciliation” dragons’ teeth were sown. Those dragons’ teeth, sprouting in Swartruggens and who knows where else, must be rooted up now, once and for all.


Post a Comment

Post a Comment