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