Black First Land First recognises the students struggles happening across occupied Azania’s universities, and commends all those taking part in the struggle for worker and student rights.
We must though importantly acknowledge that unprincipled solidarity, is no solidarity at all!
The ANC government since 1994 has implemented neoliberal policies that has safeguarded white-supremacy, ensuring that academic institutions remain white constructs that perpetuate anti-black racism. Thus the two symbolic moments occurring at present, the workers strike at UCT and the students protest against fee increases at Wits, carry a deep sense of irony in that these two protests are headed by ANC protesting against the ANC.
At UCT, Nehawu (National Education Health & Allied Workers’ Union), part of the ANC alliance is heading the protest against labour broking and the unfair employment practices that undermines workers. At Wits, PYA (Progressive Youth Alliance), the youth wing of the ANC alliance is heading the protest against the increase in academic fees by 10.5% in 2016.
How can ANC protest against ANC?
The ANC cannot be both the protector of white supremacy safeguarding the anti-black racist capitalist state, and yet at the same time fight for the very black persons that they use these neoliberal policies to render as non-humans. The ANC cannot permit labour broking and fight against worker exploitation. The ANC cannot be pro education for all, yet raise academic fees.
In the same way, students cannot stand side-by-side in protest (with their very neighbour who they are hoping will defend them), yet some are bound by allegiance to the very political parties who put the students in this very inhumane position. We see political formations, student organisations, pseudo-leftist movements and other civic groups “come together”. How can these formations find solidarity, yet they principally disagree on real change in occupied Azania? Unless of course they actually do agree, and are pro neoliberalism, and the far reaching anti-black racist nature & impact of these policies that we are seeing. It is impossible to argue for free education, yet fight for a limited or in some cases no control of our countries land and resources. How will we fund the humanising of the black person, via free education and worker rights, when whites own and control our land and resources?
Worker and students rights; and fundamentally achieving a more human face for the black person cannot simply hinge on solidarity, when solidarity is unprincipled. What happens when Adam Habib announces only a 6% increase, or 4% increase, opposed to 10.5%? Will solidarity remain? What about the majority black persons that will stay without education because of an unprincipled approach to free education for all! In the same way, when Nehawu agrees that a small increase to worker salaries is acceptable because of internal ANC pressure, must worker rights then be reduced to economic returns? Even though it will be the same financial increase which will maintain these workers and their children as economic slaves within the anti-black racist capitalist system. Black students all over the country, like our parents, we, are foreigners in the country of our birth. At Fort Hare, over 1000 students won’t be able to write their exams because they are unable to pay their fees. A basic human right is infringed upon, yet there, the DA student movement who were elected to represent the students, remains silent.
All these political entities are the same in nature, this is why they can enjoy unprincipled solidarity. Within this anti-black racist capitalist system, the bodyguard of white-supremacy and the leader of black struggle is often the same entity, creating a pseudo fight. Is Habib the enemy? What power does he have to bring about change? Can he remove academic institution fees? In the same way that the EFF seeks to reduce corruption to Nkandla, students are now reducing the neoliberal political framework that protects white capital, to increases in tertiary fees. The reality is, just as EFF cannot reduce corruption to a normative black experience, when SA is a based on land theft and corruption; the students cannot ignore ANC’s neoliberal policies that render Habib incapacitated as part of the protection of white-supremacy.
We more than ever need a principled approach that defines worker and students struggles within the broader experience that defines occupied Azania. We cannot simply choose soft targets with no or very little power, and we definitely cannot stand in agreement with those who clearly perpetuate an anti-black racist agenda while safeguarding white-supremacy. Yes, we should demand that academic fees not be raised, yes we should demand a minimum wage for workers but we must push further, we must push for real change.
ANC government, and its education policy says that the poor must pay (it’s a national neo-liberal framework, which allows the universities to chase out poor students or increase fees as they wish, it’s not illegal, its part of the ANC policy). The same is true for outsourcing or privatisation of the labour services (relying on casualties, black right-less labour to clean and keep the lawns green). Four years or so ago we recall critical support for a SASCO sit in at Wits. They were protesting against labour-broking, but the truth is that the company which provided slave labour was owned by Tokyo Sexwale, the leader and comrade of the same SASCO which was protesting against casualization. There is a kind of conservative militancy which is aimed at making sure the revolutionary movement does not escalate to the real enemies of our people and those who make these anti-black laws. We need a principled struggle. Basically, the struggle at Wits led by SASCO was a fake struggle it was meant to rescue the neo-liberal ANC rule that permits the exclusion of black students. To oversimply demands without linking the analysis to the root cause is a sure way to an apolitical and directionless struggle and ultimately defeat.
Truth is our country is moving towards a revolutionary moment, students and the youth want real change, but the organisations and their leaders are reformist and are status quo bound. They will not lead any charge against neo-liberalism and anti-blackness. We need a principled position before we can have solidarity. The ANC alliance including all those who stand hand in hand with this bodyguard of white-supremacy must never be trusted. No economic increments for workers without worker rights; and no limited increase of fees for students, should be considered. We must fight for a more human face for all blacks, we must be black first! We implore all students to refuse being captured by the ANC led coalition that has one central goal, protect white power, while masquerading as the champion of the oppressed.
We must be principled! We must be black first! We must stand resolute and fight! Demand free education! Demand the banning of labour broking!
Black First! Land First!
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL COORDINATING COMMITTEE OF THE BLACK FIRST LAND FIRST MOVEMENT
16 October 2015
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