South African Students Congress

Issue 3, Vol 7: 22 June 2015

In this issue:

Ntakuseni RazwiedaniThe tactic of the Student Movement within the Ever-changing student population

By Ntakuseni Razwiedani

As we celebrate youth month we should not only remember past youth generations that relentlessly fought the apartheid regime, but also reflect on the socio-economic evolution of Africans in general and blacks in particular. The emergence of the black middle class has tilted the general socio-economic position of black people in South Africa. This has changed the character of the student populace in institutions of higher education mainly because this middle class stems from institutions of higher learning.

We should question the rise of movements like Rhodes Must Fall which do not have a clear political identity. Though comrades of SASCO are active in some of these movements we should question why SASCO is not in the forefront of such broad mobilization. These emerging issue based movements character is composed of students from different classes, race, religion and ideological perspectives to some extent.  These movement have in the main raised issue's SASCO has long raised and advanced   in various forums and structures. This must be an indicator that we have raised the level of consciousness within our institutions. This can also indicate that students are not apathetic as we sometimes think. Students want to be active in addressing issues that affect them.

Having declared ourselves in the 18th National Congress as a Marxist and Leninist student movement, does this mean we are a monolithic party?  The Strategic Perspective on Transformation (SPOT) asserts that we should work amongst and with students, student's organizations both academic and non-academic staff their unions and associations.

As Marx remarked There is no doubt that during the further course of the revolution in Germany, the petty‐bourgeois democrats will for the moment acquire a predominant influence. The question is, therefore, what is to be the attitude of the proletariat, and in particular of the League towards them," The student movement should use all means to achieve revolutionary change. The working‐class tactics in alliance with the bourgeois democrats should be to force the democrats to make inroads into as many areas of the existing social order as possible," and constantly to drive the proposals of the democrats to their logical extreme".   Our tactic should be one that gives us access to all sections within our institutions so that we drive our strategic objectives and ensure hegemony of SASCO.

The hammer and the sickle emblem of the communist party is a symbol of class alliance, then the proletarian workers and peasants. Even in our journey to National Liberation our struggle was characterised by what Lenin in the congress of the communist international on the Colonial and National Question said:

We have discussed whether it would be right or wrong, in principle and in theory, to state that the Communist International and the Communist parties must support the bourgeois‐democratic movement in backward countries. As a result of our discussion, we have arrived at the unanimous decision to speak of the national‐revolutionary movement rather than of the 'bourgeois‐democratic' movement. It is beyond doubt that any national movement can only be a bourgeois‐democratic movement, since the overwhelming mass of the population in the backward countries consist of peasants who represent bourgeois‐capitalist relationships."

This national revolutionary movement should be of democratic class alliance with anti-colonial, anti-Imperialist elements of the national bourgeoisie in colonial countries. Class alliance is essential for the isolation and defeat of the oppressor, so as to deny the oppressor the comfort of support, and to prevent the oppressor from isolating and defeating the working class.

The student movement must adjust in the change through mobilization tactics so it appeals to the majority of sections in institutions which are important for class alliance. All the weaknesses in mobilization within the student movement and youth movement in general is because of our failure to some extent of not adjusting to the students as people develop. Though the fundamental challenges of young people haven't changed as they are material, we still have to attract students to our movement so that we then create campus consciousness to advance our revolutionary agenda. Other forms of organizing become important, as they determine the output.

Are we as a movement creating relationships with the church organizations as we always done historically? Are we having relationships with progressive staff members, so we easily advance the interest of students? Are we doing our campus work of addressing students challenges academic and non academic on a daily basis? Are we recruiting members to the movement and doing the necessary politicization of members?   Do our members understand the organization and can they represent it accordingly? Are we building cadres who understand our revolution?

As Lenin Stated "Never in history has any class achieved political power without having political leaders capable of organizing a movement and leading it". These are the fundamental questions we should ask ourselves so that we are able to respond accordingly to these changes within the student populace. Only when basic work of the organization is executed in all our structures as guided by documents of the movement, we will be able to respond to this dynamic constituency in institutions.

The revolutionary agenda of the National Democratic Revolution of the creation of a non sexist, non-racial, equal and prosperous National Democratic Society in South Africa remains the end we seek to create. The attainment of such a time requires us to mobilize the majority of our people so we drive the change. The unity of the Progressive Youth Alliance remains an anchor of the creation of alliances within our institutions. For example the unity of the PYA in Wits for instance has created an appropriate foundation of the creation of alliances with other student and staff organizations. The branch does have relations with Academic and Non Academic staff. Probably that's the reason the student movement has enjoyed hegemony consistently and manage to keep up to the changing student populace. This does happen in some other institutions around the country even in their different circumstances. 

The unity of students and the movement in general is the strength needed by the movement to realise our historic mission. Majority of our slogans as the student movement have always emphasized unity. As our emblem states Unity for democracy in action". As our SPOT document concludes with BUILD STUDENT UNITY FOR BATTLES AHEAD! FORWARD TO DEMOCRACY IN EDUCATION . This are deliberate reiterations to members of the movement on the importance of unity.

Students First! SASCO to the front!

Matla! Maanda!

Ntakuseni Razwiedani is the former Provincial Chairperson of SASCO in the Free State

References

  • SASCO'S Strategic Perspective on Transformation 5th Series
  • Report of the Commission on the National and the Colonial Questions. Delivered by V. I. Lenin at the Second Congress of the Communist International on July 26, 1920.
  • Karl Marx and Frederick Engels Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League; London, March 1850
  • African National Congress, Morogoro, 1969; Strategy and Tactics of the African National Congress

Nonceba Mhlauli"Youth is a spark which can either burn or lighten the country", it is said.

By Nonceba Mhlauli

South Africa's population is largely made up of young people; those who are below the age of 35 years constitute about 66% of the total population. With over 54 million South Africans, 18.5% are between the ages 10-19; and 24% are aged 15-24 (StatSA, 2014).

The Population Reference Bureau estimates youth (age 10 to 24) to represent 25% of the world population in 2013 and 32% of the population in the least developed countries (PRB, 2013). Beyond 2015, the civil society campaign pushing for a new Millennium Development Goals (MDG) framework estimates that 87% of the population in developing countries is under 25 (Beyond 2015, 2013). These numbers support the argument for the need to involve youth in the struggle for social change.

In addition to representing a significant part of the population, young people tend to be more exposed to bribery and therefore particularly vulnerable to corruption, as they are involved in almost every aspect of society – as students, pupils, workers, customers and citizens, (Transparency International 2009).

According to Transparency International's (TI) Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) 2013, 27% of people under the age of 30 paid a bribe in that last 12 months worldwide. Some country results demonstrate the vulnerability of youth to corruption in specific country contexts, such as in Indonesia (44% of youth for 34% of adults), Argentina (20% of youth for 11% of adults) or Bangladesh (47% of youth for 37% of adults).

Against this backdrop, youth can play a pivotal role in the fight against corruption. They tend to be more open to wide-scale socio-political transformation and have less vested interested in maintaining the status quo (Transparency International 2009). Young people are an integral element for the success of a cultural change in attitudes and behaviour towards corruption and in the shaping of the values of tomorrow, since they represent the future of their countries.

While every citizen has to play an effective role in the fight against corruption, the youth, by virtue of their very nature and in their own self-interest as young people, should go the extra mile in the fight against corruption.

The immediate question becomes where does one begin? In order for us to root out corruption, we must have a conceptual frame work of what we mean when speaking about corruption.

According to Hyslop, (2005:4), even though corruption is something which is hard to define, the the salient feature would seem to be that corruption necessarily involves illegal or unprocedural activity. The National Planning Commission Diagnostic Report, defines corruption as the misuse of an official position for personal gain, (2010: 26). Hyslop however continues in stating that corruption must involve the breach of laws or administrative rules governing the allocation of public resources for purposes of political or economic gain, or in order to gain coercive power over individuals or groups, (2005:4).

An action is corrupt in so far as it transgresses particular laws or regulations. Whether we think those laws or rules are politically or morally correct is irrelevant to whether or not an action can be considered corrupt. However heinous a particular action by state officials, we cannot technically consider it corrupt if it is taken according to due legal and administrative process. (Hyslop, 2005: 4).

Depending on one's position in society and affiliation and ideological orientation, young people's perception of corruption varies in South Africa. Some believe the current ANC government is extremely corrupt, other believe the private sector is more corrupt and the perception of government corruption is ill-informed and other believe that corruption is an issue of race and class. Regardless of these varies views, what is evident is that there seems to be a general consensus amongst South African youth and the general population that corruption is a problem in South Africa.

The 2014 Corruption Perception Index which measures perceived levels of corruption with the first country being the least corrupt and the 178th being the most corrupt, ranks South Africa 67th out 175 countries.

Even though the perceived corruption in South Africa is higher than the actual proven cases of corruption, one still has to ask the question as to why corruption occurs in the first place. 

According to the World Bank (1999), corruption refers to private wealth seeking behaviour by officials representing the state and the public authority, or the misuse of public goods by public officials for private gains; whilst in the private sector, corruption is associated with the payment of bribes to circumvent laid-down procedures. Thus, corruption is prevalent in situations in which people in positions of trust have monopoly to use their discretion in executing their roles with less accountability to their superiors or stakeholders to the extent of abusing the monopoly for their private gains. While corruption is a global problem, the impact is felt more in poor and underdeveloped countries, where corruption results in the diversion of public resources into private hands to the detriment of the poor.

In the case of South Africa where unemployment is highest amongst the youth, corruption has a detrimental effect especially on the youth. The youth is particularly affected by the distribution of jobs and government tenders along political and/factional and sometimes even racial lines.

To this end, young people are drawn into corrupt activities and contribute to the maintenance of the status quo. To the extent that many young people in South Africa are currently deeply involved in corrupt activities.

A study done by the Institute of Security Studies (2015) indicate that young South Africans are increasingly conscious of fraud and corruption and the negative impact it has on their future. However, for some young South Africans the perception has been created that a job in government means access to lucrative business and an 'easy way' to make money.

The latest 2014 National Victims of Crime Survey (NVCS) results show that the number of households who have been asked by a government or public official to pay a bribe (money, a favour or a present) for a service that he/she was legally required to perform, has more than doubled since 2012 at 4% to 10% in 2014. The results in the 2014 NVCS also show that a large majority (43%) of households believe that it is pointless for them to report instances of corruption because 'nobody will care'.

So what is to be done?  The role of youth in the fight against corruption should happen at two levels.  One, at their personal level and secondly, their professional level.

As the youth, it is up to us to look up for the role models and derive inspiration and keep their heads high.  We should have higher ideals in life which goes beyond the self-centered boundary and the precinct of the narrow mind.  The higher the goal, the greater the potency in action and fruitful results rather than those of lower ideals towards accumulation of wealth and indulgence in earthly pleasure.  This is the first and foremost step the youth has to take in the fight against corruption at their personal level. This process is intrinsically linked to consciousness and the importance of having a socially conscious youth.

As young people, we must now allow ourselves to become money making machines at the detriment of the social wellbeing of our society. We must become leaders through right action. We must start to see the importance of human values and human good over and above material gain at all cost even when it is an the expense of the poor.

Once the youth of South Africa recognize corruption as a weed to be destroyed from our midst and show themselves as determined to fight it and not be passive, we can, indeed, hope for a good future for the country.

Nonceba Mhlauli is a member of the National Executive Committee of SASCO and the NEC Communications Coordinator

References:

Khulezweni Sbu ShwalaXenophobia, Afro-phobia is inseparable to the South African capitalist accumulation path: Capitalism is the biggest enemy for Africans

By Khulezweni Sbu Shwala

"Capitalism is a system bereft with crisis" Karl Marx was (and still is) dialectically, historically and materially correct as the brutal system of capitalism is obsessed with private profits accumulation, as opposed to profits accumulation for social needs of men and society.

The sadist lies spread by capitalism that socialism failed do not mean capitalism has passed.

Capitalism has failed. The post 2008 economic & social scenario, the global capitalist crisis of over-accumulation, the South African xenophobic and afro-phobic attacks are the series of the failure of capitalism. The working class and the poor, which are predominantly black in general and African in particular, due to its subordination in the mainstream economy become victims that bear the brunt of capitalism, and the consequent xenophobic and afro-phobic attacks.

This article is to contribute to the insight of a critique of capitalism and xenophobic and afro-phobic attacks in South Africa.

The post-1994 scenario and the black

Capitalism is a system that is already born through Colonialism of a Special Type in South Africa. This is a system over the years that was buttressed by apartheid state power and the consequent geographic and spatial development and under-development for the majority blacks in South Africa, particularly the Africans.

The 1994 democratic breakthrough and its scenario has still left the working class and the poor, still the victims of poverty, inequality and unemployment, and still poor! There are reasonable measures and advances in developing working class and poor communities and lives as led by the ANC led Alliance. However, as in any capitalist state, economic bondage is in the shoulders of the working class and the poor.

There is still underdevelopment leading to crisis challenges of racism, sexism, inequality, poverty, community social upheavals (the so called public service/underdevelopment protests), xenophobic and afro-phobic attacks, crime etc. These are not Godly-Created phenomena in the black communities, where the majority working class and the poor is located, these are the crisis of a system that has obsession for private profits for a few dominantly white bourgeoisie.

The post-1994 scenario still places the South African working class and the poor in the narrow end of development, social and economic emancipation. These predominantly black victims are located in the rural areas, townships, in the hostels, in towns (most being in the urban periphery and in slums). This is where the social ills of war-lordism, criminality, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, drug dealing, prostitution etc. are the order of the day.

Xenophobic and Afro-phobic attacks are economic related

Marx was correct to say the basic contradiction in capitalist societies lies between labor and capital. It is an incontrovertible truth that the occurrence of the xenophobic and afro-phobic attacks takes place where the working class and the poor is located.

These are normally the fights over selling of cheap labor in the non-professional work place sold by the downtrodden and desperate foreign African nationals, these are the fights of competition in the so called second economies particularly the spaza shops in the black townships.

The attacks are not delinked from a fight of survival that is daily waged by the working class and the poor. These are the fights amongst what Marx referred to as the lumpen proletariat, the de-classed strata of the working class and the poor.

The stifling attacks by Africans to Africans reflect the crisis of the capitalist system in Africa. The challenges in the South African economic base and the resultant class antagonisms lead to ethnically fabricated fights among African people. But the reality is that these are the fights over a bread that is not enough for the African worker, peasant, intellectual, student, dweller etc.

Capitalism is a system that has failed Africa and her people. "The imperialist are trying to keep the knowledge of Communism from the African people. But they cannot succeed" 2. It is why more and more people have argued that African to African attacks are 'Afro-phobic' and not xenophobic as Capital wishes to state.

The call for the unity of the African working class and the poor is a need that is required more than ever in history. Socialist perspectives need to be instilled for consciousness of the working African people, these are the perspectives to counter the barbarism and its resultant effects of capitalism.

African working class and the poor: Unite against Capitalism!

Khulezweni Sbu Shwala is SASCO KZN Political Commissar and YCLSA Riot Makomanisi Mkhwanazi District Spokesperson

Reference:

  • Karl Marx, Capital
  • African Communist, October 1959