What do the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) stand for? How do they propose to nationalize mines, banks, and land? Is Julius Malema, the founder of the EFF, equipped to legislate or to lead? These tough questions are asked in The Coming Revolution: Julius Malema and the Fight for Economic Freedom. Malema is tackled on his tax woes and on the "tenderpreneur" label by Janet Smith, an executive editor of the Star. Smith asks Malema to explain, contextualize, and motivate his political agenda and the genesis of the new party. Hard-hitting and informative, The Coming Revolution disrupts the dominant South African political narrative.
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About the Author
Janet Smith is an executive editor of the Star and a special writer for the publishing group Independent Newspapers, concentrating on sociopolitical stories, essays, and profiles. She is the author or coauthor of three award-winning young adult books. Floyd Shivambu is a political activist and revolutionary. He was a spokesperson for the ANC Youth League and a member of its National Executive and Working Committees. He is currently a commissar responsible for policy, research, and political education in South Africa’s political party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Dali Mpofu is the former CEO of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and is affiliated with the EFF.
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The Coming Revolution
Julius Malema and the Fight for Economic Freedom
By Floyd Shivambu
Jacana Media (Pty) LtdCopyright © 2014 Economic Freedom Fighters
All rights reserved.
WHERE DO WE COME FROM?
Political and ideological reflections on the struggle for economic freedom
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) as a revolutionary movement engaged in the struggle for economic liberation has its roots in the struggles of the working class, those who do not own the means of production, inclusive of the unemployed, underemployed and the poor in South Africa. Any political formation or individual who believes that they hold the copyright to the struggle for economic emancipation is disingenuous, disrespectful and misleading, and also misreads the dynamic and dialectical nature and character of political struggles. The struggle for economic freedom in our lifetime predates the formation of EFF as a movement that seeks to fight for the economic emancipation of the oppressed people of South Africa, the African continent and the world.
The struggle for economic freedom is a political struggle, the primary mission of which is to ensure that all the people of South Africa equitably share in the natural and economic resources of our country. In the contemporary context, this means that all people should have access to adequate basic services such as shelter, food, security, healthcare and, importantly, quality educational opportunities to harness and enhance their livelihoods. This is a struggle that should be located within the reality of centuries of colonial conquest, which culminated in previously held African land merged into a whites-only Union of South Africa in 1910. Consequently the black majority, and Africans in particular, are an economically conquered people.
While political conquest and subjugation has been partially lifted through the inclusive political processes that began with South Africa's first democratic election on 27 April 1994, the vast majority of the people are still trapped in that same economic subjugation and domination that defined the pre-1994 period. Now that South Africa is celebrating the 20th anniversary of political emancipation, we can safely observe that the 1994 election produced only relative political freedom; and that economic freedom has not been won. This is despite the struggle for emancipation in South Africa being primarily the struggle against land dispossession, and the struggle for an equal share in the natural and economic resources of South Africa.
Many generations of South Africans have fought the struggle against land and resource dispossession. Some battles were won but the war for economic emancipation rages on. Those who won the struggle for political emancipation officially in 1994 sometimes believe that the struggle for our freedom is over, and that we are in a state of A Luta Dis-Continua! This notion is misleading and will reverse the gains of political freedom because, as Kwame Nkrumah, the founding father of Africa's emancipation, said, 'political freedom without economic freedom is meaningless'.
In the following paragraphs, we illustrate how the struggle for economic freedom pre-dated the birth of EFF and correctly took organisational form when the National Assembly on 'What is to be Done' resolved on 26 and 27 July 2013 in Soweto that this struggle requires a militant, radical and determined organisational form. The reason provided by the delegates to the National Assembly was that if this drive was not organised, the struggle for economic freedom would dwindle into insignificance.
In his address at the official launch of EFF in Marikana on 13 October 2013, the Commander-in-Chief (CiC), Julius Malema, stated that we are not the founders of the struggle for economic freedom, but that we are taking the baton from generations of freedom fighters that came before us. In the address, the Commander-in-Chief paid tribute to those early freedom fighters:
"We salute HINTSA, SHAKA, MOSHOESHOE, SEKHUKHUNE, NGHUNGHUNYANI, MAKHADO (TSHILWAVHUSIKU), MAKHAZA, DINGAAN, BAMBATHA and their generation. We salute JOHN DUBE, SEFAKO MAKGATHO, J.T. GUMEDE, REVEREND MAHABANE, JOHN TENGO JABAVU, PIXLEY KA ISAKA SEME, Z.K. MATTHEWS.
We salute Mxolisi Majombozi, William Nkomo, Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Robert Resha, Winnie Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, Robert Sobukwe AND THEIR GENERATION.
We salute Chris Hani, Thami Zulu, Lawrence Phokanoka, and those who suffered and were killed in the hands of the ANC in the camps for questioning leadership and its lack of urgency to confront the establishment. We salute Steve Biko, Solomon Mahlangu, Monty Motloung, Hector Pieterson, Mbuyisa Makhubu, Tsietsi Mashinini, Ongkopotse Tiro, Andrew Zondo, and Peter Mokaba.
These are the people who represent generations of Freedom Fighters, who fought and won some battles, but still have not won the war.
Winning the battle for political power does not mean that we have won the war to equally share in the country's wealth. In the war for economic freedom, the black majority and Africans in particular are still a conquered nation."
The CiC was paying tribute to earlier generations who fought battles in the war, a war fought for the restitution of South African land to the rightful owners, the people of South Africa. Over the years this struggle took many forms: the wars of resistance, the formation of political parties in the early 20th century, mass protests, military struggle, the rendering of the apartheid state ungovernable, and apartheid machinery unworkable. The aim was always to restore the dignity of the people of South Africa.
There are liberal interpretations of what economic freedom means and what the struggle for economic freedom is. Our interpretation and definition calls for total ownership, control and maximisation of natural and economic resources by the previously oppressed, colonised, conquered and exploited majority, which will ensure sustainable livelihoods with access to quality education and all other basic services.
Economic freedom results when the people's rights and freedom enable them to decide how to allocate their own economic resources for the development and upliftment of their own lives. The goal of economic emancipation means the development of the productive forces through massive sustainable industrial development and expansion. The goal is to place South Africa on the cutting edge of technological production and innovation, industrial expansion, growth and development of science and technology, which would seek to improve the living conditions of our people. A key goal of economic freedom is the sustainable delivery of food security to all South Africans, Africans and people of the world. The goal is to create sustainable jobs for all people in South Africa, southern Africa and the African continent as a whole.
As we have argued, for South Africa to achieve all these noble aspirations, the imbalances of the past need redress. Central amongst the things that are the sine qua non of a sustainable developmental vision and programme for South Africa is equal redistribution of land. Land ownership in South Africa is terribly skewed. The ownership and control of arable land in South Africa is not only a black and white issue (which it vividly appears to be), but a class reality where less than 2% of the white population are in ownership and control of vast tracts of South Africa's land. In South Africa we still have millions of white South Africans who do not own land, because the lion's share is in the hands of a few white individuals. Without equitable access to land, we cannot and will not be able to develop and advance the South African economy. Even for technological expansion and innovation we need land.
In order to understand the context within which the EFF is the organisation it is today, the following key political and then ideological reflections need to be addressed:
a) Economic freedom struggle in the ANC
b) Great march for economic freedom
c) Marikana as a turning point
d) What is to be done?
e) EFF as a political party and movement
f) Ideological questions and developments
g) EFF approach to alliances
h) The significance of the red beret
This will help to locate the struggle for economic freedom in our lifetime and clarify the confusion, misinformation and misunderstandings that pervade various sections of society. Some ANC and ANC Youth League members claim that the struggle for economic freedom as championed by the EFF is in fact their struggle. They claim copyright to the struggle for economic freedom in the same way that sections of working-class formations claim exclusive rights to the struggle for socialism.
It should be said at the outset, like Karl Marx did, that the reflections here do not arise out of a mere sentimental or visceral attachment to the working class and the poor, but arise out of a thorough understanding of the South African political economy and history. And any person free from private interest, class prejudices and bias would necessarily reach the same conclusions if they thoroughly study South African history, Marxism-Leninism, and the political economy.
Economic freedom struggle in the ANC
"There was greater consensus in the commission on the nationalisation of mines and other strategic sectors of the economy."
It is understandable that many people associate the struggle for economic freedom with the ANC Youth League leadership collective as elected at its 23rd National Congress in 2008 under the leadership of Julius Malema. After all, it was on that platform that the most vigorous campaign for economic freedom in our lifetime emerged. When we were still in the ANC Youth League, we appreciated that the struggle for economic freedom was not just a struggle for the ANC Youth League and the ex-liberation movement ANC, but involved many other activists who were not members of the ANC or any of its allied formations.
We understood economic freedom fighters to be all people who were fighting for an equal share in the economy of South Africa. We understood economic freedom fighters to be the informal settlement dwellers, workers, communities and activists who would challenge the system every day with the aim of benefiting from the country's natural and economic resources. Comrade Julius Malema was referred to as the Commander-in-Chief of Economic Freedom Fighters when we were still in the leadership of the ANC Youth League because we understood the struggle for economic freedom to be a struggle that involved all people, beyond the organisational confines of the ANC Youth League.
That Comrade Julius Malema is the Commander-in-Chief for the Economic Freedom Fighters recognises that the generation of which he is at the forefront is actively and fully engaged in a mission to realise economic freedom in our lifetime. Various generations that came before us had their struggle representatives: the Mandela generation where Mandela was a Volunteer in Chief in the Defiance Campaign in the early 1950s, the Steve Biko generation which occupied the political space after liberation movements were banned, the Tsietsi Mashinini generation that led the 1976 students' uprising in Soweto, the Solomon Mahlangu generation that physically confronted the apartheid regime in commemoration of the 1976 generation, and the Peter Mokaba generation that rendered apartheid unworkable and its machinery ungovernable in the 1980s.
These generations and many others played their role through various eras in the struggle for total freedom and emancipation. The recognition of the people who were at the forefront of these struggles does not preclude recognition and acknowledgement of other people in other organisations, communities and geographies who played a role in the struggle; it is an affirmation that their participation in the struggle was significant. The generation of economic freedom fighters under the leadership of Comrade Julius Malema deserves to be counted in history because this is a generation that will lead and take the struggle to its logical conclusion: attainment of economic freedom in our lifetime.
It was on the platform of the ANC Youth League that the struggle for economic freedom took practical and coherent shape and content. This does not mean that the ANC Youth League holds exclusive rights to the struggle for economic freedom, yet for contemporary historical reflections it is important to clarify what happened at that historical juncture. Reflecting on the ANC Youth League platform is not an exercise in nostalgia on our part, and does not mean that we miss or yearn for the ANC Youth League. The ANC Youth League has, after all, been captured by a corrupt ANC faction and has been mutated into a lapdog, waiting for its master's next instruction.
This is not ahistorical because, at formation, the ANC Youth League was a platform where militant and radical youth such as Nelson Mandela, Mxolisi Majombozi, William Nkomo, Walter Sisulu, Robert Sobukwe, and A.P. Mda proclaimed Freedom in Our Lifetime and fought on that platform to radicalise the ANC-led national liberation movement. There have been times where the ANC Youth League was turned into a formation of toothless young lions, particularly under its erstwhile careerist president Malusi Gigaba, whose slogans were seizing the opportunities of democracy when, in fact, opportunity and democracy were non-existent.
Inspired by the founding generation, the ANC Youth League's 23rd National Congress leadership, elected in 2008, made its first public call for the nationalisation of mines as a key demand in the struggle for economic freedom. In a political school convened in June/July 2009 to prepare the leadership structures of the ANC Youth League for many battles ahead, the then ANC Youth League president Julius Malema said:
We should particularly emphasise and remind ourselves that "no government [and, we add, no leadership of a liberation movement] can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people".
At this moment in time, when the imperialist forces are realising and accepting the failure of capitalism, we should ask whether the time has not arrived for the government of South Africa under the ANC to make sure that the State owns the Mines and Banks as called for in the Freedom Charter.
The Freedom Charter unites us in recognition of the fact that for genuine liberation, "the mineral wealth beneath the soil, monopoly industry and banks should be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole".
The truth is that the main vehicle to transform and better the living conditions of our people is through the transfer of wealth from the few to the majority, and we should do that with determination.
We have to accept that the implementation of the Freedom Charter will not please everyone. Our responsibility and obligation is to please the majority of our people, so we should not be worried that there will be problems when the Freedom Charter is implemented. It should be implemented.
This was inspired by the ANC Youth League's 23rd National Congress resolution in 2008, which says:
The State should control and be in ownership of strategic sectors of the South African economy, including the extraction, production and trade of petroleum and mineral resources, metals, iron ore, steel, coal, water, marine resources and land.
Thus the struggle for economic freedom was placed firmly on the agenda, drawing massive public attention, both in condemnation and sympathy. As part of the struggle for economic freedom in our lifetime, our generation of ANC Youth League leaders took many practical steps and engaged in revolutionary programmes in order to expose the many myths, fallacies and half-truths that have formed the basis of faulty content on class, ideology and political discourse since 1994.
The call for nationalisation of mines was a clarion call for economic freedom and was squarely located within the struggle for fundamental change in property relations in South Africa. The observation was that there seems to be no fundamental change in the economic conditions among the poorest 50% of South Africa and the government is recurrently failing to create jobs and deal with unemployment. The inability to address unemployment was mainly due to the fact that the post-1994 government was not in control and ownership of the strategic sectors of the economy.
Despite the freedom that South Africans are supposed to celebrate every 27 April, the youth still face brutal conditions, high levels of unemployment, lack of access to quality education, poverty and hopelessness. We knew that something was wrong with the manner in which South Africa's foundation was aligned since 1994 because the structural levels of unemployment and poverty lay in the fact that there were unequal property relations that resembled the apartheid property relations.
South Africa's wealth and economic resources still remain in the hands of those who owned them before 1994, and the land remains in their control. We know that South Africa is one of the richest territories in the world in respect of mineral wealth. We know that instead of improving the livelihoods of our people, the mineral wealth in South Africa was a major cause of environmental degradation, underemployment (creation of the working poor), impoverishment, and the reduction of life-expectancy among mineworkers. This inspired the call to ensure that all benefit from the country's mineral and natural resources.
Excerpted from The Coming Revolution by Floyd Shivambu. Copyright © 2014 Economic Freedom Fighters. Excerpted by permission of Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd.
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Table of Contents
ContentsForeword Dali Mpofu,
Introduction Floyd Shivambu,
Where do we come from? Political and ideological reflections on the struggle for economic freedom Floyd Shivambu,
Interview with Julius Malema Janet Smith,