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Vol. 9 No. 3: 23-29 May 2014

 

Notes on Africa Day 2014 by the Editor- Bandile Masuku

Notes on Africa Day 2014 by the Editor
AFRICA DAY: Is Africa's rebirth on track?
On Sunday 25 May 2014, the African continent will observe 'Africa day' as it has done so for more than half a century. It is this day that Africa and her people set aside as a recurring moment of reflecting on the progress that both the continent and its people have made in achieving their set objectives of social and political transformation. The conference of African leaders and organizations that decided on the observation of this day stated that the purpose of this observance was to mark an "onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the People of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation". >>> More

Viewpoint by Zuko Godlimpi

Viewpoint by Zuko Godlimpi
TOWARDS THE 25TH NATIONAL CONGRESS: let's not falsify our organisational discourse
In about 4 months time the ANCYL will head to its 25th National Congress. Consistent with the tradition of all congresses, the 25th National Congress is charged with the task of imagining and bringing to life a set of strategic tasks that should be at the core of the ANCYL's intervention in South Africa's daily political discourse. Of course it is common cause that this 'imagination' of strategic political tasks has to be shaped by a set of objective historical and momentary circumstances. What then must be this objective framework within which the 25th National Congress should be understood?
In historical terms, there are two most decisive events that weigh over this coming congress.>>> More

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Notes on Africa Day 2014 by the Editor

Notes on Africa Day 2014 by the Editor- Bandile Masuku

AFRICA DAY: Is Africa's rebirth on track?

On Sunday 25 May 2014, the African continent will observe 'Africa day' as it has done so for more than half a century. It is this day that Africa and her people set aside as a recurring moment of reflecting on the progress that both the continent and its people have made in achieving their set objectives of social and political transformation. The conference of African leaders and organizations that decided on the observation of this day stated that the purpose of this observance was to mark an "onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the People of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation".

Thus, with respect to the above cited purpose of Africa day, we are charged with the responsibility to constantly use this day to reflect on how far we have gone in achieving the liberation of Africa and her people from colonial domination and exploitation. This also implies the need to place Africa on a progressive route towards reconstruction and development, peace and stability, unity and cohesion amongst all its people and countries. Can we say therefore, today, that Africa is free from foreign domination and exploitation or that we are on a progressive route towards her renaissance?

Just as we mark Africa day it will be exactly 41 days since the abduction of more than 200 girls at a school in Nigeria by an extremist political outfit, Boko Haram. The pronounced intention behind this abduction is to trade them as slaves in the human trafficking market. Behind the cloak of Islam, this extremist outfit posits that they will convert these girls to obedient Muslims who will serve as wives to willing polygamous men around the globe. This is an unfortunate equivocation of acts of terror with religion, perpetuating the false narrative that Islam in itself is a religion of terror as opposed to peace and justice.

At the same time, the leaders of this extremist political movement have suggested that they will release these innocent girls on condition that the Nigerian government releases political prisoners belonging to this group who were arrested for similar acts of terror. In the context of this reasoning, innocent girls have been held against their will as human bargaining chips in a political stand-off they have no part in playing. Thus the reality emerges that in Africa we still live side by side with political groupings whose sense of humanity is so low to the extent that women in particular are viewed as nothing but instruments of war through which military advantage of one sort or another could be asserted. The Congo, the Sudan and other war-torn regions are replete with continuing examples of this infliction of terror and pain on women through rape, displacement and mutilations of various sorts in the course of war between political and economic factions.

This dehumanization of African women and their stunted position in our society undermines the progressive development of the human spirit and it waters down the forward movement of the liberation of Africa from the perverse conditions of general human degradation. Thus the abduction of these girls firmly asserts itself against the drive of Africa towards a situation of freedom from human exploitation both for wealth accumulation and other forms of gratification.

As tragic as the situation of the abducted girls in itself is, it has also revealed a greater tragedy about Africa's leadership. It is not difficult to imagine that the generation of Africa's leadership that spoke of the "the determination of the People of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation" understood that this freedom will be achieved through a combination of political, economic, solidarity, human, social and military capital. So as the #BringBackOurGirls solidarity campaign strengthened and widened in Africa and across the globe, buzzing through various platforms of social media and traditional media, the political response of African states and African political institutions like the African Union has been sub-standard.

An Africa-driven 'African renaissance'; with the central dictum of 'African solutions to African problems', assumes that there is a commitment to the creation of capable political institutions to achieve this goal. The African Union is supposedly this institution of Pan-African action towards the achievement of the objective of Africa's rebirth. In the context of establishing peace, security and political stability the African Union is supposed to harness and coordinate Africa's disparate political, economic and military muscle and direct it towards each area of need.

With respect to the Nigerian situation, a combined military and intelligence effort of African States to search and driving out of Boko Haram would have been commendable. This would simultaneously bring to life the very essence of 'African solutions to African problems' and insulate Africa from the imperialist agenda of the west which uses every humanitarian crisis as an opportunity to loot Africa's responses that are very much needed for Africa's prosperity. We have seen the United States closing in on Nigeria, stating that they will intervene in that situation even without the consent of the Nigerian government. We have seen the shocking decision to hold a summit on this crisis in Paris, France, under the supervision of the French government and not in Nigeria or Addis Ababa under the auspices of the AU.

The situation of the Nigerian girls has proven that we are significantly weak with regards the building of Africa's capacity to provide 'African solutions to Africa's problems' and that small extremist outfits like Boko Haram can destabilize and dehumanize Africa without fear of a committed pan-African response. The Pan-African solidarity campaign demonstrated by the people of the continent in response to the situation of these Nigerian girls has proven to be far superior to the capacity of African political leadership to forge a Pan-African intervention strategy.

As we mark 'Africa Day' in the next two days, we will do so without the certainty that African women and girls are free from exploitation. We do so without any belief that anyone who inflicts terror on the people of the continent shall be met with a befitting response by Africa's leadership. We will only observe Africa day with another reminder that Africa's renaissance is impossible without a capable leadership to see it through. Thus, the "onward progress of the liberation movement... and... the determination of the People of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation" seem to be let down by the lack of decisive leadership committed to the realization of the African dream: The African Renaissance.

(Bandile Masuku is a member of the National Task Team of the ANC Youth League and its National Spokesperson but writes here on his capacity as the Editor of HLOMELANG. This is an Editor's Note)

Viewpoint by Zuko Godlimpi

Viewpoint by Zuko Godlimpi

TOWARDS THE 25TH NATIONAL CONGRESS: let's not falsify our organisational discourse

In about 4 months' time the ANCYL will head to its 25th National Congress. Consistent with the tradition of all congresses, the 25th National Congress is charged with the task of imagining and bringing to life a set of strategic tasks that should be at the core of the ANCYL's intervention in South Africa's daily political discourse. Of course it is common cause that this 'imagination' of strategic political tasks has to be shaped by a set of objective historical and momentary circumstances. What then must be this objective framework within which the 25th National Congress should be understood?

In historical terms, there are two most decisive events that weigh over this coming congress. Firstly, it is the first congress after the historic adoption of our generational mission, Economic Freedom in our lifetime, and its related broad policy perspectives. Secondly, it is the first ANCYL Congress following the inordinate decision of the ANC NEC to dissolve the ANCYL NEC and replace it with a task team. It is the interplay of these two major occurrences that will set the complex mandate of the 25th National Congress.

The complexity of this mandate arises in the context of the need for us to establish a common understanding of the historical factors that led particularly to the dissolution of the then NEC. Over the period since the disbandment, a great number of perspectives have played themselves out in various platforms (social media taking the lead) offering explanations for that decision. Amongst these has been an unfortunate equivocation of the disbandment of the then ANCYL NEC with a punted jettisoning of the generational mission: 'Economic Freedom in our lifetime'.

What this equivocation has achieved is to falsify our political discourse and has forced us to debate strategic questions in an unproductive manner. It would be a blunder on our part to present the expulsion of some leading figures at the time of the adoption of that clarion call as well as the ultimate disbandment of the then NEC to mean that the strategic perspectives of the 24th National Congress were themselves withered away.

The ANCYL national task team has labored a great deal to grab the bull by the horns in an attempt to quell the bull's fury throughout the period of organisational rebuilding. The chief consideration has obviously been how to best achieve organisational stability and coherence whilst at the same time setting conditions for progressive political reflections about the situation of our organization. Naturally this meant that great focus has been placed on the organisational question as an exigency, with a diminished profiling of the 24th National Congress resolutions. This shift in focus could not have been avoided considering the historically unique situation the ANCYL finds itself in.

However, the recognition of the historical appositeness of the 24th National Congress political strategy should remain central to all our reasoning. The strategic perspectives of that congress have achieved a significant shift in our country's public discourse and have succeeded in overthrowing some old taboos like the consideration of ownership of economic assets as it had come to be since the fall of the Soviet Union 25 years ago.

As an existential fact, the ANCYL's primary relevance is determined by the extent to which it can be an institutional source of political and ideological renewal within the ANC; sustaining a radical trend of strategic interventions on the part of the movement consistent with the objective demands of each emergent historical epoch. It is charged with the function of always seeking to understand the most decisive social contradictions of each period in history and to radicalize the ANC's approach in dealing with those questions. In large measure, the 24th National Congress achieved this function and none of us can work to reverse this progress and still claim to be revolutionary.

In the context of this, what we should carry to the 25th National Congress is the consideration of a few things. Firstly, we need to consider the best possible political means through which the ANCYL should reclaim its strategic place in shaping public discourse around these radical notions of economic transformation. This is of utmost importance in light of the emergence of various political outfits that are fashioning themselves as the custodians of the generational mission of 'Economic Freedom in our lifetime'.

In this regard the congress needs to engage the question of how best can we reassert our hegemony in driving public discourse within the context of a changed political environment. Of crucial importance is the rise of anti-ANC parties (EFF and the mooted United Front) that organize themselves around radical notions of social change deriving largely from our 24th National Congress resolutions.

Secondly, and related to the above, the congress needs to reflect on the impact of the 24th National Congress perspectives on the overall policy direction of the ANC. This is particularly in relation to the need for us to measure the qualitative impact the ANCYL had on the policy outcomes of the 53rd ANC national conference. For instance, having sat under the theme "Unity in Action towards Socio-Economic Freedom" the ANC came out of Mangaung with the notion of 'radical economic transformation'. There can be no doubt that both of these themes were influenced by our clarion call for "Economic Freedom in our lifetime" and the radical economic perspectives underpinning it.

Arising from these reflections will be the ability on our part to gauge our impact on the direction of the movement's thinking and strategize on the set of things that we should do post the congress in order to maximize our influence in the policy discourse within the ANC. The real objective of the ANCYL is obviously to push for the ANC to ultimately adopt the overall programme of economic freedom in our lifetime and the radical policy specifications attached to it.

Of course the 25th National Congress has a myriad of other political and organisational tasks that in must pursue. However, it is important for us not to plunge ourselves into false discourses related to the strategic political perspectives of the ANCYL. The simply needs to build more cohesion and coherence in ideological and intellectual terms amongst members of the organization, particularly with regards the need to forge a common understanding of what needs to be done in order for us to achieve the objective of economic freedom in our lifetime.

(Zuko Godlimpi is a member of the ANCYL Branch in Ward 4, Mbizana Sub-Region in the Alfred Nzo Region)

The contents and views expressed in HLOMELANG do not necessarily reflect the policies and positions of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL).