South African Students Congress

What Ronnie Kasrils and Nozizwe Madlala Routlege are:  A Disappointment of our Times

SASCO's Response to the So-Called "Vote No Campaign"

21 April 2014

South African Students are extremely disappointed and highly agitated by the recent call made by Uncle Ronnie, Mam Nozizwe and the rest, to mobilize South Africans against the ANC. We find this as not only reckless but profoundly adventurous and counter-revolutionary. We wish to make it clear from the onset that the students of this country will never be misled to abandon the National Democratic Revolution that we dedicated ourselves to.

We are disappointed because the last time we checked Uncle Ronnie and Mam Nozizwe were supposed to be tried and tested cadres of the movement. Uncle Ronnie remains one of the most senior veterans of uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK), SACP and the ANC. We have learnt to appreciate his commitment to the struggle and the discipline that MK cadres upheld during difficult times in the struggle. Mam Nozizwe has always been known to us as a committed Marxist feminist, a cadre of the ANC and the Party. We have known her to be a brave leader who at the face of the brutal apartheid regime dared to work for the underground structures of the ANC.

We labour to mention these credentials to illustrate our disillusionment and disappointment that cadres of such calibre could play to the hands of counter revolution. Being a founder member of MK Uncle Ronnie would be expected to display the highest form of discipline and commitment to struggle. We expect him to be an embodiment of the true values of a revolutionary; sadly he has chosen to do the direct opposite.

We want to make it clear that as SASCO we remain equally concerned about the economic trajectory of our country. We have consistently raised our discontent with neo-liberal macroeconomic policies pursued by the government since the introduction of GEAR in 1996 under the leadership of Uncle Ronnie, Mam Nozizwe and others. As early as in 1996 SASCO marched against Gear and warned against economic policies that maintain the structure of our economy and thus fail to redistribute wealth to the people and truly realize the vision of the Freedom Charter of an egalitarian economy. Without wanting to blow our own horn, as SASCO we have remained the most consistent left voice within the alliance, at most we felt the silence of 'communist' like uncle Ronnie and Mam Nozizwe within the ranks of the movement. We at some point were called and some continue to call us adventurous youth who are excited by Marxist ideology and do not understand the configurations and complexities of governance.

We did not walk away from the movement in 1996, we were told by amongst others Uncle Ronnie to contest space within our broad church movement. We were taught by them to engage and hegemonize our ideas, because it is only through the National Democratic Revolution that we can truly transform South Africa. We wish to make the point that when they were at the helm of government, Uncle Ronnie and them, presided over an economic path that failed to yield the much needed jobs in South Africa. Unlike them, we take responsibility for the failures of the movement; we don't stand on top of hills and point fingers at the movement.

On the issue of corruption that has been raised by Uncle Ronnie and the rest, we agree that corruption remains one of the issues that our country must confront. What worries us though is that the 'communists' in the name of Uncle Ronnie and the rest fall to the fudging of the media and opposition about corruption. We hear little class analysis of this phenomenon from them, they are blinded by headlines. We wish to remind Uncle Ronnie and the rest that the system of capitalism is corrupt in itself, and that is where our analysis should begin. It steals from the wage labourer through surplus value and inculcates values which promote greed and inequality. Seemingly in order to flirt with the liberal media, so that they can listen to their own sound bites, they have ignored the importance of exposing capitalism as the main culprit. They, like the media and opposition, wish to reduce corruption to one individual, Jacob Zuma. This is very convenient for their cause and exposes for all the truth of their 'conviction', to weaken the post Polokwane ANC.

The media and the DA do not begin today to call the ANC corrupt; they did the same during the Arms Deal scandal. What is interesting is that both Uncle Ronnie and Mam Nozizwe were once Deputy Ministers of Defence during the procurement of arms and in the term that succeeded, respectively. Arguable the biggest scandal to confront the ANC and government, both Uncle Ronnie and Mam Nozizwe were amongst those who in the defence line and others alleged they were rewarded with Minister Positions (we don't agree with this). Many within the movement were unhappy with how the movement dealt with this matter, yet they did not leave the movement. Today these comrades claim to be anti-corruption champions and voices of reason 'from within the ANC', this newly found conviction comes conveniently post their tenure in government and ANC leadership.

We as South African students are aggressively opposed to the opulence and greed that characterizes the whole Nkandla development. We view this as one of the devastating realities that characterize many projects that the state engages in at all levels, where public funds are splashed recklessly at the face of poverty and in equality in our country. We refuse to fall to the liberal trap of viewing Nkandla in isolation with the rot of corruption within the state and in the private sector. Nkandla is an amplified version of the price inflation that happen in the majority of tenders that government gives out in our municipalities and public institutions. We raised our concern with the construction of World Cup stadia and we were vindicated when it was exposed that the construction companies fixed prices, one of the worst corruption scandals in our country, which enjoyed little media attention. South African students view Nkandla as presenting an opportunity for our country to reflect not only on corruption that is confronting our country, but also more importantly of the oppressive system of capitalism that breeds this corruption and greed. We must not endeavour to isolate the President even though the Public Protector's report clearly finds no political involvement of the President on the Nkandla issue. We should be saying as a nation, beyond this point what is it that we need to do to ensure that similar events do not repeat themselves. We need to focus on ensuring that we make an example out of those who acted improperly in all of this, this is essentially the main point that Public Protector's report makes, which clearly the media, opposition and now Uncle Ronnie did not read. Nkandla is really a drop in the ocean of corruption happening in South Africa in both the public and private sector. We must deal with corruption holistically andhonestly, not for political point scoring, this will not help our country overcome this challenge.

Again we must remind Uncle Ronnie, that we as SASCO raised our concern and strong opposition to the use of public institutions to fight political battles. This we did in 2005 when comrade Ronnie was Minister of Intelligence and it became clear that intelligence was being used for internal ANC matters. It is interesting that Uncle Ronnie only realizes now that there is such abuse. We reaffirm our position on this matter and believe that this is also happening in our judiciary. In as much as we respect the rule of law we believe it is not class neutral and therefore not immune to interrogation. We have noted with concern the fact that our courts have been abused by the opposition and the broader liberal bloc in our country to fight the National Democratic Revolution.

It is against the principle of democratic centralism for Uncle Ronnie who having lost elections at the 2007 Polokwane Conference of the ANC, not to accept leadership and decide not to renew his membership. This is ill-discipline and is against all the revolutionary principles of the movement. It is clear that Uncle Ronnie has failed to accept Polokwane outcomes if in 2014 he still makes reference to this conference. If he continued to participate in his branch, members of the ANC could have re-elected him in subsequent conferences, many comrades who did not make it in Polokwane were elected in Mangaungfor instance. But we are taught in the movement that there is no one member who is entitled to be in leadership.

In as much as we completely respect the right of the said individuals, we believe it is equal to reversing the struggles of Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Joe Slovo, Chris Hani, Solomon Mahlangu, Ruth First, Helen Josephs, Lilian Ngoyi, Albertina Sisulu, Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela. These are the cadres that fought to advance the National Democratic Revolution to their death. In their honour we will work even harder to defend and advance the NDR and ensure that we mobilize all of society to defend their revolution. We will continue to raise our impatience with the slow pace of economic transformation, our opposition to corruption and inequality within the movement because we understand that we are part of this democratic movement which is the only hope for the working class of South Africa. To us, now is the time to strengthen the movement, a vehicle created through blood and sweat by our forbears, we will never betray their struggle, we will create a better life for all.

As students we are witness to the good story of South Africa's 20 year old democracy. Today we have more than nine hundred thousand students in universities. Further Education and Training collages have expanded opportunities for young people. In as much as we still struggle for Free Education, our government is spending more than R9.6 Billion in student loans and bursaries. Many of us are beneficiaries of NO-Fee Schools delivered by the ANC government. A number of us whilst in basic education benefited from the School Nutrition Scheme and scholar transport. We have seen our government build more schools for us and replace mud structures, we believe more still needs to be done. Our families have benefited from free housing and land over the past 20 years. We want our government to radically transform our economy and create employment opportunities for us. We want our government to fight crime and corruption. We want our government to develop our rural communities. We want our government to build a truly non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society, and we know only the ANC can deliver this.

What makes me us agitated is the fact that the acts of Uncle Ronnie and the rest is that they our former comrades are engaged in counter revolution. They are engaged in acts directly opposed to the National Democratic Revolution, they seek to reverse the gains of our revolution if not in full certainly in part. This has led us to revitalize our campaign and made us more vigilant of elements of counter revolution that seek to emerge in society. We will go door to door, class to class to all our students to educate them about the importance of voting for the African National Congress.

Issued by the NEC of SASCO

For more information contact

Ntuthuko Makhombothi (President): 0718752209
Luzuko Buku (Secretary General): 0718793258