UWC FEES WILL FALL MOVEMENT INTELLIGENCE REPORT PART 1. FREE EDUCATION NOW OR NEVER!

Released on South Africa’s Human Rights Day, 21st March 2016

Introduction

Student protests for free education are no different from service delivery protests that characterises South Africa’s failing state. Free Education is a promise that must be kept, just like free housing, and the return of the land. These are the promises of the ANC that must be kept. A promise is a promise. Students want Free Education as promised by the ANC. People living in shacks want free housing as promised by the ANC. People want land as promised by the ANC. 21 years of democracy should have been enough for the ANC to fulfill these promises. There will be relentless protest action, until all these promises are met; it is inevitable, and evident before our eyes, that these protests will never end until all these promises have been met.

This report is an attempt to document the 2015/16-student rebellion as it unfolded at the University of Western Cape. It is not a mainstream research report, or commentary, nor a journalistic account of what happened on each day of the students’ protest but more of a high-level intelligence report of the UWC Fees Will Fall Movement. The report tells the story from the students’ perspective and glorifies the national Fees Must Fall students’ movement as a timely effort in the history of our democracy, against the backdrop of political contradictions such as corruption that has evidently swayed the attention of former liberation fighters from self-sell service to the people, to self-interests, and luxurious living against the backdrop of appalling poverty levels amongst the majority of black communities in many parts of the country.

This report is a gentle reminder to the ANC government of the power of young people to make progressive change. It is a gentle reminder that “the future belongs to us” (Mzwakhu Mbuli, 1986, The Day Shall Dawn). After reading this report, the ANC government of looters should cease to take for granted the intellect of the Fees Must Fall Movement. Furthermore, this report is a firm statement to erstwhile politicians such as Dr Blade Nzimande, that as young people of this country, we can no longer breathe under the leadership of current politicians who care less about the futures of younger generations, but themselves, cronies, and families. We will forever remain disgusted by wasteful expenditures of our politicians and government officials best manifested in the Zuma administration of looters, sycophants and mafias in bed with the ANC. The looting of state coffers by sycophants is completely unacceptable given the poverty levels in our country. As students we argue that there is enough taxpayers money to fund Free Education. Right wing economists know this very well, but will never admit that Free Education is possible because they stand to benefit from the capitalist system that continues to fail our black communities, the poorest of the poor in townships of the Cape Flats, rural communities, rural towns, urban slums, and former homelands throughout the country. The fact is, our current government is failing to use the state in benefit of the people; instead the state has turned against its own people, through institutionalized violence, especially directed to those who take it to the street in protest for better service delivery. Free Education is service delivery, as this report will show.

This report is divided into 8 chapters as follows:

Chapter 1: “Narrow conceptions of violence: student rebellion lenses” challenges narrow conceptions of violence in the context of emancipatory politics, which strongly condemns ongoing police brutality in South Africa, against the backdrop of human rights enshrined in the constitution of the Republic of South Africa. This chapter shows some images of institutionalized violence which is manifested in police brutality – some of the pictures are extremely gruesome, and have been excluded from this report for ethical reasons, but available on request, and consent of the victims of police brutality.

Chapter 2: “Criminalization of student protest action” connects the struggles of students to popular dissent in the country at large such as the infamous Marikana mineworker strike action for example, and municipal service delivery protests, including the killing of Andries Tatane by the state police in 2011. Andries Tatane will forever be our hero because he openly challenged the government of the ANC, and paid the high price for it, death.

Chapter 3: “Politics of victimization, humiliation and paranoia”, draws the attention of the reader to what seems like authoritarian practices of the South African state in its attempts to dampen popular dissent by targeting key individuals (or so-called ring leaders) or those who appear as key allies to protestors in general, and student protestors in particular.

Chapter 4: “Eviction of students from on-campus residences: The politics of racialised geographies” is an attempt to lay bare the racial underpinnings of the eviction of students from UWC residence in November – December 2015. This chapter takes the reader through some history of racialised socio-spatial engineering of the past racist regimes, and how such narrow thinking has been a painful residue or hangover inherited from apartheid, and how it shaped conceptions against the UWC Fees Will Fall Movement.

Chapter 5: “SASCO, ANC & Politics of independence in the (black) student movement” is an attempt to lay bare the political contradictions of SASCO, and how that student movement has been co-opted by the ANC. We argue that there is no SASCO, but the ANC, and we explain why we strongly believe so.

Chapter 6: “Militarisation of UWC by state and private security forces” uses UWC as a lens to raise questions about the nature of our state, and the nature of our democracy in the age of surveillance of activists by our paranoid state.

Chapter 7: “The politics of containment: Anti-student rebellion negotiations”, takes the reader through the negotiation processes that occurred between UWC Fees Will Fall Movement and UWC Management from November – December 2015. In a nutshell, this chapter argues that such negotiations were merely attempts of containment of the UWC Fees Will Fall Movement by UWC Management.

Chapter 8: Workers’ struggle against outsourcing at UWC: “The beginning of the end”, takes the reader through the efforts of UWC workers’ struggle for the end of outsourcing, which coincided with the 2015/16 student rebellion in that university. This chapter explains how these efforts reached a deadlock when it became apparent that there are strong allegations of (undeclared) self-interest, and collusion (if not corruption) between some members of UWC management and the outsourced companies at UWC. Chapter 8 concludes with a proposal for investigative journalism to probe into these allegations of undeclared conflict of interests and collusion between some UWC personnel in the upper echelons of the university, and outsourced companies which have “shareholding” links implicating some of the most influential political leaders of the ANC, such as Cyril Ramaphosa. Chapter 8 makes it vividly clear that the dynamics that unfolded at the Marikana massacre were invoked at UWC, it terms of very similar political contradictions that are laid bare by this chapter in particular.

Please click link to download full report: Student Rebellion Counter Narrative UWC_Final Draft_ 21 March 2016

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BLF SUPPORTS STUDENTS CONTINUING WITH PROTESTS AND REJECTS BOTH THE SRC MEETING WITH BLADE NZIMANDE AND THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING

 

IMG-20160112-WA0008On Thursday 14 January 2016, Minister Blade Nzimande met with the Student Representative Council’s (SRC’s) from across academic institutions nationally in Kempton Park, Johannesburg. This came after President Jacob Zuma almost robotically announced a Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education Funding.

Since the beginning of the student protests for Free Education, historically black universities and the popular #FeesMustFall campaign, students have been clear on what is needed: Free Education. Hence calling a meeting with a select group, SRC’s who have been rejected by the students and therefore have no legitimacy, is opportunistic and seeks to crush a genuine desire that all should be allowed to learn.

It is an obvious and outdated strategy by the anti-black ANC government to setup a commission, which we know only serves to lull those who demand a basic human right into some kind of inactivity. Having a Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education Funding further enforces that education must be commodified for it to be any good, a lie that goes directly against the demand for Free Socialist Black Centred Education.

The neglect of the students and their basic human rights is seen at a number of levels. Since the ANC government became the operators of the anti-black system they have had 22 years to think and strategise, that’s not considering the 100+ years of planning they should have done. It is now time for action.

The meetings by Minister Blade Nzimande with SRC’s ignored the position taken by students, “Nothing About Us, Without Us!” The announcement of this commission undermines the holistic work done by students around education and further ignores the fact that it is impossible to have a decolonised University in a colonised country, hence the demand for Fees Must Fall is equally the demand for Land!

BLF stands with the students, Nothing About Us, Without Us!

BLF rejects the SRC’s as they are part of the ANC government’s anti-black machine operators maintaining a white-supremacist order. BLF further rejects the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education Funding as a ploy to supress the students, and buy time to safeguard the ANC’s political ambition for the 2016 local elections.

BLF calls on students from across the country to:

1) continue to isolate sell-outs – SRC, PYA, SASCO, Nehawu and any ANC aligned movements

2) shutdown campuses until the demand for Free Socialist Black Centred Education is met

3) occupy anti-black state institutions such as The Union Buildings, Parliament of South Africa as well as Luthuli House

BLF implores all black people to remember that we cannot decolonise a university in a colonised country, and so the call for Free Socialist Black Centred Education is the call for Land.
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL COORDINATING COMMITTEE OF THE BLACK FIRST LAND FIRST MOVEMENT

15 January 2016

Contact Details

Black First Land First Mail: blackfirstlandfirst@­gmail.com

Zanele Lwana
(National Spokesperson)
Cell: +27 79 486 9087 Mail: zanelelwana@gmail.co­m

Lindsay Maasdorp
(National Spokesperson)
Cell: +27 79 915 2957
Mail: lgmaasdorp@hotmail.c­om

VUKA DARKIE SPECIAL EDITION – BLACK FIRST LAND FIRST: THE STRUGGLE FOR FREE SOCIALIST BLACK CENTERED EDUCATION CONTINUES

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BLACK FIRST LAND FIRST: THE STRUGGLE FOR FREE SOCIALIST BLACK CENTERED EDUCATION CONTINUES

BLF applauds those who continue to play their part in the student struggle for Free Education, recognising the courageous work done in 2015, including the continual planning over what was meant to be a “festive period”. The principled position taken by the #FeesMustFall movement who rejects the idea of “Business as Normal, in an Abnormal Society”, is exemplary and speaks to the desire for black liberation from an anti-black, white-supremacist society.

APPLYING SANKOFA WISDOM WE LOOK BACK AND LEARN FROM KEY MOMENTS IN THE 2015 #FEESMUSTFALL STRUGGLE:

Unprincipled Unity is No Unity at All! – At the beginning of the #FeesMustFall struggle, BLF warned that an unprincipled unity with ANC via PYA, SASCO and other affiliates is no unity. Later, the #FeesMustFall movement was hijacked by the ANC, where they tried to dilute the radical politics of the movement, which saw it splintering and in need of rebuilding.

Why call unity with ANC aligned organisations unprincipled? Because it is the ANC that makes laws that exclude blacks, it’s ANC laws that legalise outsourcing and it’s the ANC government that killed workers in Marikana.

We call on #FeesMustFall to take a principled Black First position, recognising that the decolonisation project must essentially be rooted in Black Struggle. Furthermore, we warn against the liberalising of the movement, which is a product of unprincipled unity.

CONCERNING VIOLENCE –

We live in a violent state that sees black people as animals. The brutality by police on the UWC, TUT and CPUT students, when these notably black students refused to continue as if the struggle for liberation could simply be postponed, showed us the disdain for black life. Worse still, when these students defended themselves by using anti-black structures to counter institutionalised racism, they were rendered barbaric. We must be clear that violence is the only end toward social change, and to condemn the use of violence for liberation is to be anti-black. Impossible to have a Decolonised Institution in a Colonised Country – All institutions form part of society and has the purpose of serving the ends of society. These colonial institutions of learning thus serve only to promote an anti-black society and to groom black people to be machine operators of an anti-black system that safeguards land theft. We ask, what is education without land? Frantz Fanon says –

“For a colonized people the most essential value, because it’s the most concrete, is first and foremost the land: the land which will bring them bread and, above all, dignity.”

WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

The struggle for Free Socialist Black Centred Education must be rooted in the quest to take back the land.

We must continue to use the program of #FeesMustFall to build principled black unity that prepares us for the liberation of the black majority. We recognise that Black History has deployed us into these anti-black institutions to move the black struggle toward liberation. While participating in an anti-black educational system, our analysis of oppression must assist us in the fight for liberation.

We must continue the struggle to End Outsourcing Now! – we reject the slave wages paid to our parents, the postponement of insourcing, and the continual refusal to allow worker rights. We must continue to demand that our parents earn a Living Wage, enjoy the full benefits at the institutions they work in, and are seen as co-leaders with the students of the institutions they make up. Without students and workers there will be no institution.

We are the institution, we must decide its future!

The Worker and Student Alliance is thus imperative. There is only one black struggle!

We are principally united Black First. The struggle for #FeesMustFall and the struggle to #EndOutourcingNow is a struggle for liberation, and exists in the context of reclaiming the land that was stolen, the land that brings justice!

BLF recognises that the utterances of Chris Hart and Penny Sparrow have far reaching ideological implications for the consolidation of the white power structure to further its anti-black project in all aspects of the black condition including education and most importantly land. To this end –  BLF maintains its demand for the “criminalisation of racism with the provision that blacks can’t be racist” and urges that the rallying call for #FeesMustFall incorporates the complete liquidation of racism.

“NO BUSINESS AS NORMAL, IN AN ABNORMAL SOCIETY”

1) Free Registration – No student should pay for education and all unemployed persons should register to learn
2) Free Education – No student should pay for education, including all human requirements to participate in education (housing, food etc)
3) End Outsourcing Now – In-source all workers, pay living wage with full employee benefits
4) Criminalise racism with provision that “Blacks can’t be racist”
5) Shut down all campus’ nationwide – No campus should be allowed to function if they refuse Free Socialist Black Centred Education and to Insource Workers, paying them a Living Wage, extending full employee benefits and recognising Students and Workers as the highest decision makers.
6) Occupy institutions of governance – Parliament of South Africa, Union Buildings as well as Lethuli House
7) Shutdown SONA – 7pm, Thursday, 11 February 2016

LET’S TAKE BACK THE LAND FOR FREE SOCIALIST BLACK CENTERED EDUCATION!

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BLF CONTACT DETAILS

Black First Land First Mail: blackfirstlandfirst@gmail.com

Zanele Lwana

Cell: +27 79 486 9087

Mail: zanelelwana@gmail.com

Lindsay Maasdorp

Cell: +27 79 915 2957

Mail: lgmaasdorp@hotmail.com

 

Face book page: Black First Land First

Twitter: @black1stland1st

Blog: http://www.black1stland1st.wordpress.com

 

BLF APPLAUDS THE RESILIENCE OF THE WITS #FeesMustFall MOVEMENT IN THE WAKE OF ANC BRUTALITY

 

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On the 11th January 2016 the WITS #FEESMUSTFALL took up their revolutionary duty by occupying Solomon Mahlangu House (Senate House). After spending much of the summer rebuilding the WITS FMF movement that the PYA (the youth movement of ANC alliance) tried to destroy, WITS FMF successfully put a stop to the commencement of registration, which was then postponed until Thursday, 14th of January 2016. The success of WITS FMF now sees the same sell-out PYA which leads WITS SRC, trying to take credit for the FMF campaign and re-enter the WITS FMF movement. PYA members entered a mass gathering on Monday evening and asking to be allowed back into the movement claiming to be “students first” before ANC members. Yet after much debate PYA left the gathering, stating “we need to speak to our mother body (ANC) before agreeing”. A few hours later at 6am, 12th of January 2016, WITS FMF received eviction letters  written and signed by Deputy VC Tewana Coupe (not a court order as they have stated in media) to vacate the premises within 5min. Followed by approx 60 private security personnel storming through the university assaulting students and then police being seen both inside and at strategic entrances to the academic institution.

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How can Deputy VC Tewana Coupe on behalf of WITS management evict students from an academic institution? It speaks to the hypocrisy of the academic institution leaders and the state crisis academia finds itself in. The struggle for Free Socialist Black Centred Education reveals that the white-centric com-modified education creates no capacity to think beyond whether students are paying, or whether students can learn through the struggle experiences they are engaged in. The revolutionary process means that the contestation for new ideas lives out in the confrontation of sell-out student leaders, police, and private security as the actors of ANC abuse.
BLF has repeatedly declared that “Unprincipled Unity is No Unity At All”, and here again we see the full machinery of the ANC to make true on their promise to crush movements who simply want the basic right to education. The ANC utilising their youth (PYA), academic student structures (SRC), private security and police trying to ensure that the commodification of the black child stays intact.

As BLF we want to place a firm warning to the movement that the ANC government in protection of white-monopoly capital is not to be trusted. That there is no difference between the Police, Private Security, WITS SRC and PYA, they are all machine operators of the ANC anti-black project which defends the anti-black white-supremacist order.

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BLF calls on WITS FMF to remain principally united, rejecting anti-black WITS SRC, PYA and any movement or body that seeks to undermine the struggle for black liberation.

 

BLF rejects the idea that police and private security can enter academic institutions as a means to solve a political crisis.

 

BLF views the students and workers as the highest decision makers and thus rejects the notion that WITS management can simply tell students to leave and then call police and private security onto campus.

 

ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL COORDINATING COMMITTEE OF THE BLACK FIRST LAND FIRST MOVEMENT

 

12 January 2016

 

Contact Details

 

Black First Land First Mail: blackfirstlandfirst@gmail.com

 

Zanele Lwana

(National Spokesperson)

Cell: +27 79 486 9087

Mail: zanelelwana@gmail.com

 

Lindsay Maasdorp

(National Spokesperson)

Cell: +27 79 915 2957

Mail: lgmaasdorp@hotmail.com

 

A PEOPLE’S MANIFESTO

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We promise the politicians nothing! We demand that they deliver everything! All the political parties have now published their manifestoes; the empty ritual they buy our votes with. We say 17 years of elections without change are enough. Now we make our own manifesto:

We, the people of South Africa, hereby legislate a new law, titled “POLITICIANS AND PUBLIC SERVANTS: USE PUBLIC SERVICES”. This law compels all politicians, from the president to the local councilor, and all public servants, from the Director General to the sweeper and their families to use public utilities: Starting with the following:

  1. Hospitals.
  2. Schools.
  3. Transport.
  4. Housing! (The same standard house given to citizens must be used by all politicians and public servants)
  5. A living wage for all!
  6. Land belong to the people

Our politicians and public servants have neglected public services for far too long because they know they can take their families to the private sector. We say, what’s good for you is good for us. Equality for all, for real!

Our hospitals are falling apart; doctors and nurses are overworked and underpaid. By and large our public hospitals are places of death.  Simply put, no one is safe in our public hospitals. Our leaders, politicians, senior public servants and their families use private hospitals and that is why they don’t care about public hospitals which are used by the poor.

Our public schools are in bad condition, teachers are underpaid and the government is not investing in their training with the result that after 12 years of schooling most children from public schools can’t read, write or count.  This leads to a high unemployment rate amongst the youth who are trapped in hopelessness. Politicians and senior civil servants take their children to private schools.  This explains why public schools are not a priority for them.

Our public transport system is appalling. Every morning and night our people are packed into taxis, buses and trains like sardines. The queues are long and the fares are high. Our leaders, the rich and senior civil servants have big subsidies to get private transport. Some of our ministers can buy cars worth millions with tax payers’ money.

The townships are generally badly serviced. The houses are small and millions are forced to live in shacks. The RDP houses built by our black government are worse than the matchbox houses built during apartheid. Our leaders live in mansions, while the people are forced to live in rat-infested townships.

A living wage, the ANC and DA parties have legislated starvation minimum wages for our people. Farm workers earn a shocking R105 a day. Our government kills workers when they demand a living wage as in Marikana but cabinet ministers and members of parliament give themselves millions in salaries.

Land For 20 years of the ANC has delivered only 8% of land to black. It would take 100s of years to buy back our land.  Why are we buying our land back? We demand that all the land be nationalised without compensation and be equitably redistributed amongst the people.

We hereby commit ourselves to struggle to realize this legislation to hold public representatives and servants accountable to the people!

Together let’s make this law a reality.

This campaign is undertaken in the memory of Andries Tatane who was killed by our government for demanding quality services for all!

Issued by the September National Imbizo (SNI).

 

 

THE THOMAS SANKARA OATH FOR POLITICIANS AND PUBLIC SERVANTS  

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I the undersigned, hereby voluntarily, without any personal or business interest, have chosen out of my free will and without prejudice to serve the public as an elected representative of the people /  an employee in the public sector.

I understand that the most important principle and  my duty  is to  serve the public through providing  high quality services to all persons alike and that this necessarily entails performing the duties of my office conscientiously and to the best of my ability!

This OATH is undertaken in the spirit of Thomas Sankara who set a shining example of how the public service must serve the people and not politicians or public servants.

I also understand that mutual respect between the State and its citizens is key to realizing true equality and I therefore, as a politician/public servant, do hereby commit myself to engage in prior consultation with the public to determine their needs so as to ensure that public services which are provided respond to the real needs of the people.

At no point shall I involve the police or any repressive arm of the state in dealing with matters related to the provision of public services to the people. It is not a crime for people to demand that the State provide public services to all its citizens in equal measure. The people are not criminals!

I commit myself to help build and promote an efficient public service system that ensures the real and legal dignity and equality of all. As a practical indication of my acknowledgement that the only way to ensure that the services that I provide are of an acceptable standard, I hereby undertake to use the services that the public sector provides to the people.  What is good for me is good for the people!

I THEREFORE declare that it is a criminal offence to use private services for myself, my family and my dependents, including but not limited to: education, healthcare, housing and transport. I’m committed to public service therefore; I use the services I provide.

 

DATED THIS   DAY OF

 

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DEPONENT

 

THE IDEOLOGICAL STRUGGLE TO KEEP SYRIZA ON THE SOCIALIST PATH

Parliamentary elections in GreeceSYRIZA came to power after proving considerable traction with the Greek masses on the basis mainly of it’s election promises to respond fully to the peoples needs. It’s anti imperialist, anti capitalist, anti austerity and pro socialist vision as reflected in its election manifest  suggests how SYRIZA intended to respond to the people’s needs once it took office. At that point of taking power the country had already experienced in excess of five years of austerity and it was characterized by all the ills of capitalist imperialism being a high level of unemployment, extreme poverty and general social upheaval. After signing the February 2015 austerity agreement with the “troika” (the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) the country was consequently subjected to structural adjustment plans (SAPS) that plunged it into deeper debt.  Subsequent to paying creditors over €13 billion since signing the agreement in February, Greece was unable to make further debt repayments and consequently begged the “troika” for  further financial relief. However the Tsipras  Government did not meet the expectations of the “troika” who required it to employ tighter SAPS on an already insanely pauperized population. It was consequently also unable to pay the  IMF the £1.6 billion that was due in June 2015.

SYRIZA is now confronted with addressing this question: How can it remain in power without compromising its Marxist principles? Post the national elections five months ago, the SYRIZA leadership, via its approach to austerity signaled a shift to a more “moderate” approach on addressing people’s needs. To this end the commitment to building society along socialist lines had to be postponed so as to deal with the “immediate crisis” (crisis of capitalism) that the country was experiencing. We saw this with the February agreement when the SYRIZA government reached a compromise with the “troika” that effectively via austerity involved the restructuring of the Greek economy. In this context the Left Platform within SYRIZA, which is made up mainly of the Internationalist Workers Left (DEA), Kokkino and the Anti-capitalist Political Group (APO), has consistently called for a return to the election promises of SYRIZA. The party’s declaration of principles and the political document concluded at its 2013 Congress are exposed to both radical left and conservative right interpretations. It indicates, for example, the renegotiation of loan agreements with the “troika” so as to cancel most of the debt instead of repudiating the debt entirely. It also indicates no desire to leave the Eurozone, but that it must prepare itself for any possibility.

It must be stated that the Left Platform’s unrelenting struggle to radicalize the political program of SYRIZA flowing from the party’s congress resolutions bore it’s revolutionary fruit when Greece voted NO to austerity in the referendum held on July 5, 2015. The future of Greece now depends very much on the continued commitment of the Left Platform within SYRIZA to keep the Party on it’s revolutionary path to a truly socialist society.

The September National Imbizo (SNI) now re-issues two statements of Sotiris Martalis and Antonis Davanellos who are members of the Internationalist Workers Left (DEA), the Left Platform as well as the Central Committee of SYRIZA. These statements were also attached to the article “Greece says no to austerity and yes to solidarity” published in the Socialist Worker website on July 6, 2015:

“Sotiris Martalis

EVERY ONE OF you knows the news, but I want to have the pleasure of telling you again. With all of the ballots counted, the “no” vote has won with 61.3 percent of the vote.

The second thing I can tell you is that in Syntagma Square, there is a huge demonstration taking place right now against austerity and in celebration of the “no” vote. At the same time, in the opposite camp, the conservatives have asked for the resignation of the former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras as head of the New Democracy party. Meanwhile, a meeting has been called of leaders of all the governments in Europe because Europe faces a crisis.

This was a hard struggle. They used everything against us. They closed the banks. They canceled bank cards. Every day in the news, for hours and hours, they would show pictures of lines of people out of banks. They spread fear, promising that tomorrow, you will have no money. Tomorrow, you will have no medicine. Tomorrow, you will have no pension.

The European governments and media also helped to spread the terror. They changed the question of the referendum from “yes or no on the austerity agreement” to “yes or no on the eurozone.”

They tried everything. And against all this, the people succeeded.

We have come a long way, but we have a very long way still to go. Our goal–socialism–is a long way off. This was the second victory in the battle, but the war is not over. We must continue the war. We have many problems in front of us, and we must work to overcome them.

How did we get to this point? The first victory came with the election of January 25, which created a huge disruption for the ruling class and its austerity program. They tried all through these months to reverse the result of the election. But today’s vote showed that the opposition was deep, and that people want to continue this fight.

What was the basis for these victories for SYRIZA? One was the party’s promise to stop austerity. But the leadership of SYRIZA said to the people that there would be an easy way to accomplish this. They said they would be able to stop austerity by negotiating with the lenders. They said that because the right’s program has reached a dead end and is destroying Greek society, we could make an agreement with the lenders that will be a win-win agreement–one where both sides will benefit.

But from the beginning, the Left Platform in SYRIZA said that this promise was false. From the beginning, we said there must be a hard challenge to the lenders.

In February, the leaders of the government made an agreement that was a serious mistake. They said that we would pay all the debt, and do so on time. And for this, the promise was that the lenders would release some funds for the bailout. But in the five months since then, nothing has gone to Greece. On the contrary, they have taken 17 billion euros from Greece–7 billion euros since the victory of SYRIZA in January.

And still, the leadership of SYRIZA retreated further and went back to the lenders with a proposal that was unacceptable to the people inside and outside the party that supported it. Their proposal accepted the privatizations, increased the value-added sales tax and so on.

The Red Network stated its disagreements with this proposal. We said openly and publicly that we would not vote for this kind of agreement, either in the Central Committee of the party or inside the parliament. We organized with other forces to make this statement at public meetings. And other forces of the Left Platform said the same thing, at least with respect to the vote in the Central Committee.

Tsipras was caught in the crossfire. On one side was the lenders, who want to smash this government in order to show Sinn Fein and Podemos and every other force of resistance in Europe that there is no alternative–that this is what happens if you challenge austerity.

But on the other side was the left of SYRIZA. We said we would not vote for this agreement, and Tsipras knew that the government would fall.

How will Tsipras act now that the referendum is over? His main line was that we needed a “no” vote so that he will have the democratic demand of our people to go back to negotiations in a stronger position. Our campaign for a “no” vote was different. In the unions, in the branches of SYRIZA, in the communities and everywhere, we said simply that a vote for “no” was a vote to stop austerity, to stop the privatizations, to stop the layoffs and to increase the wages of the people.

These are very different positions. And this is the problem we will face in the coming days. I can think of 20 scenarios of how this might play out, but the point is not to guess about them.

The important point is that the left is in a much stronger position going into the next steps of the struggle.

I want to finish on a personal note.

These have been disastrous times for people like us in Greece. They have cut salaries by 35 percent. The cost of taxes has increased by eight times–not by 8 percent, or 80 percent, but eight times. There are 1.5 million people who are unemployed, which is 30 percent of the working class. And in addition to that, there are 800,000 people who are working, but they haven’t been paid in weeks or months.

There is so much misery. But at the same time, I am happy. We are making history in Greece. We are living history now. These are chances that revolutionaries do not always get even in their whole lifetimes. And I have seen it twice in my life–once after we overthrew the dictatorship in Greece, and now we have a chance to overthrow austerity.

You are fighting in very difficult conditions here. We know that you are in the heart of the capitalist system, but you must know that at the same time, we fight for you and with you, and we have gained a great deal of support from your organization.

And so I will close with the words that have been chants in Greece: SYRIZA, Podemos, venceremos! Oxi, oxi, oxi!

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Antonis Davenellos

Dear comrades, we are living in a historic moment in Greece. As we write this message, we don’t know the result of the referendum. We don’t know whether we will suffer a major defeat or we will achieve a huge political victory, against mighty enemies.

As all the leaders of the European Union have said, the referendum in Greece is a choice between accepting and rejecting austerity policies. That is why the neoliberal leaderships all around Europe are weighing in decisively in favor of a “yes” vote.

They are openly blackmailing and threatening the population of Greece with economic strangulation. Their stated goal is to overthrow the government of SYRIZA, the first government in modern European history that is led by a party to the left of social democracy.

Inside the country, the referendum has created a clear class and political divide. On the side of the “yes” vote are the capitalists, the rich, the upper middle class that still has savings in the banks. Politically, they are supported by an alliance of the right wing, the social democrats and the “post-political” center-left Potami party. Most importantly, they are supported by the mass media and the constant blackmail of employers who are campaigning actively in favor of a “yes” vote.

On the side of the “no” vote are the workers, the popular classes, the poor. Politically, they are supported mostly by SYRIZA and–thank god–ANTARSYA, which had the courage to overcome sectarianism and take a clear stand in favor of a “no” vote.

The Communist Party, in this incredibly polarized situation, chose the road of abstentionism. They advocated a spoiled ballot, neither yes nor no! They are giving a better chance of victory to the worst enemies of our class. They will pay a price, both in elections and on the streets, in the years to come.

We state again that we don’t know whether we will win or lose. What we do know is that we fought, we are fighting, and we will continue to fight. That is why we believe that the left in Greece will remain strong and continue the struggle.

Many people, even among the international left, believed that SYRIZA was like a star falling from the sky in the middle of the night–that it would shine for a while before it disappeared forever. Underestimating the harsh difficulties we were facing, they preferred to provide us with predictions, rather than solidarity: SYRIZA will be a betrayer in the future, SYRIZA will be a betrayer right now, SYRIZA has already betrayed us. Together with thousands of activists of the left in Greece, we have proved them wrong.

Today, all around Europe, our class is facing a major assault, one of historic importance. This is what neoliberalism is about–a war unleashed by our enemies, a war that until now they are winning.

In Greece, the workers’ resistance escalated to such a point that it caused a political break. It gave rise to an anti-austerity party, SYRIZA and brought it to power in government.

We are aware that we are the “advanced guard” unit of the European left that has reached the enemy lines and is facing the ferocity of the enemy forces. As a unit that is leading the charge, it is possible that we might be defeated–that we might suffer major casualties. But we will have paved the way for our brothers and sisters who are coming after us–in Ireland, in Spain, in Portugal.

We will hold on as long as we can until the major battalions of our class arrive at the battlefield–the left in France and Italy. And then we shall win.

Forgive us for the warlike tone of this message. But this is how we are experiencing the situation in Greece right now. We are facing a merciless political and class war, and we are under heavy enemy fire.

We understood SYRIZA and related to it in this open way from the beginning, with our most important criterion being the escalation of class struggle and the political struggle. This never meant that we underestimated–or even worse, collaborated with–the retreats of SYRIZA’s leadership. We could easily provide you with a long list of persistent and difficult conflicts with the leadership of SYRIZA.

But for us, the important thing was that we had built the left wing of SYRIZA systematically and in an organized manner. This left can raise its voice on the front lines when it agrees with the party’s policy, but it can also prevent compromises and unacceptable retreats when it disagrees. Today, everyone, from Angela Merkel to the Greek mass media–knows that they cannot make plans for Greece without taking into account the strength of a genuinely radical left current inside SYRIZA.

This is why we are standing before you with pride, because we know that we have done our duty. And that is why our organization is stronger and healthier than ever.

Dear comrades, we know that you are fighting for the same goals we fight for, and in this struggle, you are facing the mightiest enemy on the planet. The best help you can give us is to keep up this struggle. With one additional goal: Defend and strengthen the International Socialist Organization. You are providing an example–as we do and as other comrades all over the planet do–that in the most different situations, the insistence on the building of revolutionary socialist organization is an indispensable part of the more general plan for the political victory of our class.

And in this struggle, you should know, dear comrades, that on the other side of the seas, in a small country called Greece, a large and active left will continue, under all circumstances, to fight for you, too.”

We Are The One’s We Have Been Waiting For

Issued By September National Imbizo

South Africa

9 July 2015