Comment by Ashley Nyiko Mabasa on “The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation by Stuart Hall”

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Introduction

Race, ethnicity and the national question are significant concepts for the understanding of the ongoing resistance against and for the social formation. Race, ethnicity and nationality – these concepts continue to be relevant to contemporary South Africa. This review will critically examine Stuart Hall’s seminal book in 2017, “The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity and Nation.” Race in countries such as South Africa and United States continues to be eminent issue – other scholars such as Stuart Hall argue that race bears floating signifiers driven by discursive formation.  This review argues that race is not scientific concept but social construct similar to other social constructs such as, gender, class or what Judith Butler calls hetre-normative sexuality– couched on socio-historical culture. This review further argues the conceptualisation of ethnicity by Stuart Hall and shows the junction between race and ethnicity. Moreover, this review furthers Stuart Hall’s approach on the national question. This review will show how Stuart Hall’s aforementioned approach relates to South Africa’s social formation.  In this case, the review acknowledges that South Africa continues to battle with resolving issues of race, ethnicity and the national question.

Theoretical conception of race and South Africa’s experience

The point of departure is that, race is not dissimilar to language which is fundamental to culture. Hence, Hall sees race as a cultural and historical manifestation rooted in cultural difference which is not per se linked with genetic, physiological or biological difference. Here, there is acknowledgement that race is commonly conceived as physical, phenotypic differences which make racial groups socially, intellectually and emotionally distinct but that is not correct as race is a discursive construct – a sliding signifier.

In addition, viewing race on basis of physical traits overlooks its basis on cultural and socio-historical grounds. In this line Appiah cited by Hall (page, 40) that Appiah contends that

“substituting a sociohistorical conception of race for biological conception of race for biological one…is simply to bury the biological conception below the surface, not to transcend it”

The Appiah posits race as the discursive formation that makes sense in the social relationship and this social relationship it is driven by the regime of truth. In another words, the regime of truth it is similar to discourse which formulates the social constructs.  For example, race cannot be considered in a vacuum by “itself” because “itself” is biological traits without genealogy of social-cultural history.  In this case, Hall explains how in the 18th century the physical and cultural differences between peoples lead to the construction of the discourse of black primitive barbarian nations in opposition to mature white civilized ones as a way to accommodate both “us” and “them” in a single human group whilst previous construct relegated them to a different species which is inferior. In that way, Hall further contends that while this idea of some races as ‘other” is fixed, it is also a sliding signifier because it means many different things to many people.

Europeans imagining race based on the physical features and deducing that racial differences explained social and cultural differences was a useful tool for them because race as a discourse was a social construction through which people could be categorised and socio-cultural messages about those people could be reproduced so– a sliding signifier. Furthermore, race has different purposes and therefore different meanings in different contexts. For example, Greeinstein concurs with Hall by arguing that race has differed between societies and over time – in South Africa or Southern USA the viewing of the race, what constitutes blackness and whiteness in particular, is not the same as these two distinctive societies social and political systems have been evolving. In other words, Hall argues that, the meaning of race is not fixed and instead changes within the given context.

In addition, Hall states that during conception of race as “other” is fixed, is grounded in the sliding signifier because entails that many things to different many people. Put differently, Hall argues that for many years’ scholars have contended race as a cultural construct not as in the premise of biology because even though historically science or pseudo-scientific theories were used as a service of imperialism to put forward some genetic basis to define race. For example apartheid system in South Africa was used define and marginalise black people on the basis that black people are inferior and white are superior. Or under the world war two in Germany where Nazi fascists used pseudo-scientific theory to justify injustices and holocaust.

Furthermore, according to Hall race was given a biological meaning based on physical appearances deductions were made about genetic differences between race groups. By giving racialisation a genetic basis, white supremacists were able to construct rigid racial hierarchies in which the social and economic oppression of those characterised as being of an inferior race were justified – Apartheid was such a hierarchy. For example, Williams and Satgar have shown the manner in which apartheid system which was founded on the basis of race and the race to justify black discrimination such as the Apartheid colour bar which has been reproduced in South Africa’s post-apartheid. They both assert that despite the end of apartheid, patterns of racial oppression have continued in contemporary South Africa through capitalism that has eroded and reproduced forms of racial inequalities. In the same vein, Greenstein  has shown that apartheid government falsely discredited the fact that race was being as a social and political tool.

Ethnicity and globalisation

Race has being framed as biological differences – black and white whilst ethnicity is more complex cultural identity. In this context, Hall has argued that ethnicity it is broad and it is more subsuming term than race. In the same breath, ethnicity is packaged in cultural differences such as shared “languages, traditions, religious beliefs, customs and rituals that bind together particular groups” (page 83).  Put differently, ethnicity is the sense of being attached to a place and community over generations, in Hall’s cemented the fact that ethnicity is built on historically and culturally with the sense of origin – “kith and kin” or “blood and soil” (page 17).

In South Africa ethnicity was used by apartheid system to divide and rule the natives. As Mamdani has shown, the apartheid government formulated bifurcated-state in which they entrusted chiefs and indonas with authority to govern different ethnicities in order to minimize revolt during apartheid. Ethnicity is embedded in the institution of national and cultural origin. Hall has shown that ethnicity hybrid of ethnicity by diaspora societie – he calls it ethnocization of racial taxonomies. For example, black people in America have adopted ethicize national description such as African -American including the black Carribean and Asian migrant communities in Britain called themselves “black British.”

In addition, the rapidly increasing of ethnicization it is as the result of mass migrations that start globally in 1900s.  Hall pointed out that the Black British identification is the hybrid ethnicity in which British diasporas have created themselves as new subjects.  However, Caribbean and Asian ethnicities in Britain or Africans in United States are united because they share the historical roots. Other thinkers have argued that mass migration poses a threat to ethnicities. In addition to the creation of the new subject ethnicity – Black-British identification show another threat to the fixed notion of race and notion of duality between white and black in Britain because some can be both Black and British. This made Hall  invoke the racist slogan which entails how some racists responded to the Black-British moniker point it: “There Aint’t No Black in the Union Jack” (page 153).

Another threat of ethnicity is globalisation which means the compression of time and space – this follows by the disruption of the settler borders and integration of different national frontiers. Indeed, ethnicity it is tied by cultural identity, thus cultural theorists characterising modernity as the late modernity contend that there is potent trend toward global independence which is leading to breakdown of all strong identities. For example Mcdonald in South Africa has managed to become glo-calised – making their production to reflect cultural needs of South African people.

Theoretical conception of Nation in South Africa

Nation is simply the question of belonging and citizenship; however, in this case nation focuses on ethnicity and cultural diffferences. Hall borrows from “Janus-like” nature of national identity in 1994 as mutually increasingly open and hybrid and closed and fundamentalist. Here Hall use Benedict Anderson’s analogy that there is a “imagined community,” in which Hall  clearly argues doesn’t exist and therefore that the nation does not exist, it exist in myth. Moreover, Hall  further contended that:

We should think of national cultures, then, as discursive-like in their mode of constructing collective identitiy. Organised around the national signifier, whose function is to represent difference-as-unity, to make all constituent element present as identity…” (page 141)

Furthermore, Hall has expressed the fact that British and English are often used interchangeably these terms operate as a “closed, unitary, homogeneous, essentialist, and originary” term (page 157). Notwithstanding, the discursive power relations between the English and Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish this is packaged in the so-called United Kingdom.

In relation South Africa, the national question has been ongoing debate as South Africa is multi-racial and multi-ethnicity nation. In simple terms, national question is largely the question of belonging. This is led Hall into argue against a fixed conception of migration as loss and of the disporic experience as the nation deprived of one’s authentic identity. Because discursive formation not only denies the process of continuous identification but also omit the complexity of ethnocization or hybrid of different ethnicities. However, during 1960s, under apartheid most part of Venda and Gazankulu, there was a new identity appearing amongst Vendas and the Vatsongas called “Venture” this was signifying the mixture of Venda and Shangaan languages and cultures.

In addition, Hall logically reached conclusion by believing that identification that asks “not who we are but who we can become” (page 174). This shows that nation same as race and ethnicity are social constructs. Hence, for instead, South Africa’s homeland institutionalised nations within black people and deprive them of citizenship but subjects of traditional authorities. Similarly, to the diasporas which comprises of cultural formations which cuts across and interrupt the settled shape of race which Hall call ethnos.

Conclusion

This review has attempted to critically discuss Stuart Hall conceptualisation of race, ethnicity and nation. Race is a social construct marked by the cultural differences which is not linked with genetic difference. In other words, if one knows other people biological trait does not mean one know their cultural history. Though, what makes black people united is the social history of slavery. While ethnicity it is also the share of cultural, language and customs, however, ethnicity has been disrupted by globalisation since it is not independent of time and space. One can be Indian originating at India can find their customs in Britain such as food. This review also argued that nation which is about the cultural belonging and origin.

Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

Wits SRC Secretary General

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Review By Ashley Nyiko Mabasa of “Critique of Black Reasonby Achille Mbembe”

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 “Self-consciousness is, to begin with, simple being-forself, self-equal through the exclusion from itself of everything else. For it, its essence and absolute object is ‘ I ‘; and in this immediacy, or in this [mere] being, of its being-for-self, it is an individual. What is ‘other’ for it is an unessential, negatively characterized object” (Hegel, 1977: 113-114).

Hegel in the above quote addresses the question of personhood as being comprised of the conscious and rational being and the other as the object that cannot be recognised – this other can be regarded as the black person. Hegel’s dialectics deals with how one is recognised by the other and recognises the other. Achile Mbembe’s seminal book “Critique of Black Reason” 2017 deals with how black people have been negatively characterised as the other and how they can define blackness through positive traits instead. This review will show how Mbembe offers a new theoretical perspective in the social sciences. This review affirms Mbembe’s argument that black people cannot change history but they can decide how they shape their own identity against negative definitions of blackness which have been historically dominant. This review will also show the key elements which can be drawn from Mbembe’s argument and linked with the author’s ontological experiences. In this case, I will draw from the notion of blackness as the concept that signifies the other, inferiority and defined as the problem.

Mbembe like Karl Marx in volume one of Das Kapital has shown that in order to study commodity, it is important to first look at appearance of the commodity and delve into essence and revisit appearance again with the knowledge of essence of study – this would be proven to be scientific study of commodity in Marx’s terms. This is not dissimilar to Mbembe’s study of black reasoning which is divided into two dimensions – looking at black people from the outside (appearance) and asking questions of personhood, “what makes people, people?”. On the other hand, theories of perspectives derive from inside (essence) of black spirits trying to ask, “Who are we as black people” and what does it entail to be black in our own ontological experience and global experience.

As mentioned earlier what constitutes personhood in Hegelian is being a self-reflective, self-possessed, rationally and self-motivated being. The aforementioned traits that constitute personhood relate to inside spirits. Hence, Mbembe alludes that everything begins with external identification, “I am black” is the outwards form of identification that is based on the internal question we ask ourselves, which includes inside spirits– “who am I, then?”. However, in a country such as South Africa black people’s identity was shaped largely by colonialism and the Apartheid system. For example, colonialism marginalized black people and defined them as inferior compare to the white race and as the lowest race in the racial hierarchies. Furthermore, many thinkers have argued that racial subjugation of black people in South Africa was a mechanism to acquire cheap labour by the white state.

In addition, Mbembe contends that black identity is the way of clarifying ourselves and positioning ourselves in relation to other people. In the same breath, black is a descriptive word and it is meant to invoke particular meanings. Mbembe further argues that blackness, due to its association to race and black identity with historical progression, is not neutral term. In this case, the notion of blackness historically carries weight onto it because of its association with this historical progression of suffering, slavery, colonialism, apartheid and oppression. In defining black identity, it is defining with relationship of slavery, colonialism and apartheid. In regards to my ontological experience, my ethnic group, race and culture were marginalised by colonialism and apartheid and continue to be marginalised in South Africa as a result of colonialism and the Apartheid system.

Furthermore, my culture and ethnicity have been manipulated to suit the industrial colonial capitalism and apartheid system. In this case, my ethnic group, the Shangaani people, have over the years migrated to different countries in Southern Africa – such as Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa. However, the languages and dialectics of the Shangaani people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa (the Vatsonga people) are different, meaning they have social and cultural differences and varied political dynamics. The aforementioned differences between Shangaani groups as well as their identities were largely shaped by the colonial regimes under which they lived in different countries. Similarly, black is the name given by somebody else to black people as Mbembe argues. Put differently, blackness is external to black people – black people did not invite the notion that they are black and therefore they are different, blackness was imposed upon them in the same way tribal distinctions were imposed large ethic groups.

Mbembe, in borrowing from W E Du Bois’s theory of “double consciousness” , has noted that black people have to continuously keep it in mind that there is a way other people perceive them and they cannot free themselves from this gaze because the way people perceive them has consequences. This does not only bring psychological consequences but also individual consciousness. For example, Mbembe has contended that black people are defined as a problem and Du Bois questions how it feels to be defined as a problem as a person. Furthermore, Mbembe is clear that one cannot change history but can decide how to shape their identity against negative labels. Mbembe  believes that blackness can be turned into a positive identity that is associated with positive traits by black people themselves.

Using notion of blackness as the positive proposition come out following the analysis that notion of blackness has historically carried as continuous insults and other demeaning stereotypes imposed on black people by white supremacist discourses. Hence, Mbembe argues that blackness was used both as mechanism for objectification and degradation. He further argues that, contrary to this, strength can be drawn from notion of blackness. For instance, the South Africa’s government through its Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and Affirmative Action has offered some black people strength from receiving financial support from the state because of the historical marginalisation the faced under the colonial state and apartheid state.[1] Mbembe acknowledges that colour black has no meaning and exist only in reference to power that invited it to infrastructure that supports it and contrast it with other colours. As Mbembe (page 155) argues that:

The Black Man could not become an authentic human, that is, a human like all others, capable of doing what all humans have the right to do and exercising the kind of authority intrinsic to any human worthy of the name over themselves, others and nature

Moreover, Mbembe contends that blackness always stands in a relationship with power and is capable of transforming it. Mbembe draws from Marcus Garvey and Aimé Fernand David Césaire with aim of turning the notion of blackness into the subject of an essential positive conversation. Revolutionary black intellectuals such as Garvey and Césaire used the notion of blackness as the subject of conversation that developed an empowering discourse, politics and debate about the meaning of black – which was given to the other. Mbembe clearly, believes and illustrates that blackness can be utilised as mechanism of opposing oppression and as a device of emancipation.

Furthermore, following Mbembe’s argument of using blackness as liberation and following my own ontological experiences. For example, in 2015 I was part of the black students who initiated the #FeesMustFall movement following the University of Witwatersrand proposal to increase fees by 11per cent. My experience as black student was understood in relation to other many black students who cannot afford fees and the mostly black students confronted with financial exclusion. In the same breath, I was part of the largely black student leadership which mobilised and organised students to fight for free education and perceived this as the mechanism that would give institutional access to education to the many black students ascending from poor background.  Looking at my subjective experience at the liberal and cosmopolitan University of Witwatersrand – I am alienated from my culture, language, and society because of the curriculum whose content focuses on American and European modernist theory.

Mbembe acknowledges that slavery was used as way of oppressing the other – which has inherited black colour. For example, the plantation was the main institution of the slavery which was aimed at weakening the capacity of slavery to guarantee their social reproduction occurs in a way that they will never unite and revolt. However, revolt was possible in the 1791-1804 slave revolution in Saint Domingue which defeated the French arms and establish the first black state. Here, the Haitian revolution affirms Mbembe’s argument that the notion of blackness as oppressive mechanism can be used as a vehicle for unification and liberation.

According to Trouillot the Haitian revolution “challenged the ontological and political assumptions of the most radical writers of the Enlightenment” (page 108). Similar to Mbembe  he uses his blackness as liberation by challenging modernist epistemology of the West – by producing a new episteme on the account of his experience as the “other” or black and challenges the scientific racism which posits the other as not intellectual. Indeed, Mbembe  offers new theoretical way of understanding social, political and cultural dynamics of the subaltern. Using blackness as tool of liberation has capacity to produce new knowledge from perspectives of those who are oppressed and marginalized because they are black.

However, Mbembe notes that slavery as a system of brutality has somatic dimension referring to the body with an intention to immobilize the body of black people and eventually attack their nervous systems and take away the capacity of its victim to create symbolic power. For example, he argues that the body of black people has locked itself in an inferiority complex while the body of white locked itself in superiority complex. Mbembe presented us with questions of the future – which was always central to resistance against slavery. Furthermore, Mbembe asserted that slaves tried to create a future of their own independence and formulated themselves as a free subjects seeking to create new identity.

In addition, according to Mbembe Garvey attempted to offer positive perspectives on blackness, on identity and legacy of slavery that will liberate people and embrace unity – and give birth to a new kind of human or humanity. Mbembe, drawing from Garvey, argues that a new identity was to be formed on the basis of fragmented experience of slavery that was going to create new type of identity, not going back to the past. Hence, Garvey argued that identity was important and established his campaign and movement called “Back to Africa.” Of course, Mbembe provided the argument that the notion of Africa remains mythical and abstract. In Garvey’s arguement Africa was deemed as a place which was the name of the promise of the reversal of history of oppression and slavery. In this Mbembe highlighted the marginalized black activist and scholars which challenges metanarratives scholars.

Another black revolutionary scholar Mbembe invoked is Aimé Césaire the founder of the theoretical intellectual movement called the Negritude[2] Movement. The Negritude movement stressed that black people are surely different from white people, not only physically but intellectually. Given the fact that black people have much of natural relationship with the world which is organic. Césaire pointed out that black respect and understand ecological issues by not destroying their nature. However, Mbembe argues that this relationship was a double-edged sword – because while Césaire praises black people for being part of environment and co-exist in harmony with ecology, Mbembe counters Césaire’s assertion, arguing that living in harmony with nature could have caused black civilisations to not pursue scientific and technological endeavours. In this regard is Mbembe means that black pre-colonial black civilisations were historically not educated and lacked aspiration to develop science due to their disinterest in controlling nature. Some might build on the perspective to argue that historically, black civilisations have been respecting nature to their detriment.

However, as highlighted earlier the Hegelian dialectics of personhood, Mbembe further extends the argument by contending that there are many varieties of human beings and that we have in our own way and European have their way. In this regards, there is no universal model of humanity and progress of humanity offered by Europe. In this case Europe represent their model of humanity we our model of humanity. Mbembe borrowing from Fanon explicitly argued that white colonisers internalise domination – colonialism and racism have violated the colonised bodies and for colonised to heal themselves, they need humanity.

In addition, for Fanon violence is one of the mechanisms of liberation because was initiated to undermine colonial rule and give black people[3] the sense of agency which was taken by colonial regime. However, Mbembe opposes Fanon’s view by arguing that violence provides people with the sense of initiative but create psychological injuries – has its own psychological consequences. However, Mbembe’s rejection of Fanon’s violence as self-emancipation against colonised have its own consequences. Here, Mbembe does not offer new theoretical framework to achieve liberation without violence. Looking at my ontological experience, during #FeesMustFall I and many other students witnessed and experienced brutalisation and violence from the police as a response to student protests and this experience resulted in psychological trauma for many.

This review has shown the manner in which Mbembe’s argument on blackness as two distinctive dimensions – one as dehumanized being and the other dimension which show that blackness can be used to form a positive being. Hence, he reiterates that black people have no power over changing the history but have power to shape their identity in the future. The review draws from ontological experience of the author of this review and argues that indeed black people can shape the future of their identity – the participation in #FeesMustFall was to fight for decolonized education that focus in on the recurring of African orientation content and resistance against Euro-American modernity hegemony.

Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

Wits SRC General Secretary and YCLSA Wits Branch Secretary

 

References

Hegel, 1977. Hegel Phenomenology of Spirit. London: Oxford University Press.

Marx, 1867. Das Capital volume I

Mamdani, 1996. Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late. Princeton: Princeton University Press

Masondo, D., 2010. Zuma Economic Empowerment. s.l.:City Press.

Mbembe, A., 2017. Critique of Black Reason. Johannesburg: Wits Press

Trouillot, M., 1995. Silencing the Past. s.l.:USA-Beacon.

 

[1] However, David Masondo have argued that Black Economic Empowerment does not bring meaning transformation of black people as it is narrow and serve most political connected elites.

[2] Meaning blackness

[3] Referring to those colonised such as South Africans, Zimbabweans, and black people of Mozambique etc.

Accommodation for students not for profit

Last week, on the afternoon of 27 September 2018, Wits University students mobilised and organised themselves to march towards the City of Johannesburg Municipality to hand a memorandum to Mayor Herman Mashaba demanding that the municipality does not increase rates, to avoid a rise in student accommodation costs.

The struggle for affordable accommodation is ongoing against renter-capitalists who seek to turn universities into profit-making machinery. Accommodation is supposed to be affordable; however, capitalism’s rentiers take advantage of the scarcity of accommodation for students and charge high prices, such as in the case of South Point and Student Digz in Braamfontein for University of Johannesburg and Wits students.

This struggle for affordable accommodation renders the introduction of free education meaningless. It is clear that free education is a historic victory for students. It was not achieved for free, but through students’ massive protests against the government with some serious consequences — some student activists are facing jail and others, such as Khaya Cekeshe, remain in jail.

In addition, the struggle for affordable accommodation is intrinsically linked with other social movements such as the Reclaim the City movement in Cape Town, which advocates for public land to be developed and used for affordable housing. This struggle is not dissimilar to the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement struggle, which is fighting for the government to use the land to address the housing crisis in that country. In this case, in 2015 the Joao Pinheiro Foundation reported that there was a housing deficit of 6.2 million houses in Brazil – meaning 6.2 million family units did not have housing.

The student accommodation crisis needs to be addressed or the government will be confronted with a massive protest that can threaten its legitimacy, as #FeesMustFall 2015 and 2016 did. Government’s symbolic legitimacy depends on people’s satisfaction with government performance. The student cry for affordable accommodation should be a priority. Accommodation is an essential need for students and people in general, as The Freedom Charter alluded to in 1955:

There Shall be Houses, Security, and Comfort! All people shall have the right to live where they choose, be decently housed, and to bring up their families in comfort and security; Unused housing space to be made available to the people; Rent and prices shall be lowered, food plentiful and no-one shall go hungry; A preventive health scheme shall be run by the state…”

This year marks 63 years since The Freedom Charter was adopted. It explicitly outlined that rent and purchase prices for land and housing shall be lowered. However, students in our universities sleep in libraries, go to classes hungry and are faced with highly priced accommodation.

All of the aforementioned challenges benefit the rentier capitalists. For example, being a student at Wits University, staying at The Wits Junction accommodation, a student expected to pay the deposit of R13,000 and the rounded-off accommodation price a year ranges from R55,000 to R65,000 for 10 months. Private accommodation such as South Point buildings, which is 40 percent owned by the Unemployment Insurance Fund through the Public Investment Corporation, charges very high prices:

Johannesburg South Point KSI Braamfontein 2018 Prices:

Rent pm

Rent pa (10 months)

Single room

R 4,375.00

R 43,750.00

2 Sharing

R 3,525.00

R 35,250.00

3 Sharing

R 3,200.00

R 32,000.00

South Africa is a country with inequality, poverty and unemployment. All those problems mostly affect black people. Eddie Webster, David Francis and Imraan Valodia reported that:

“The richest 10% owns 95% of South Africa’s wealth which are products of an economic and social system that continues to produce inequalities.”

Student from backgrounds of poverty, with parents faced with unemployment and low income, cannot afford accommodation and they are likely to drop-out.

South Africa’s education system is supposed to be a vehicle to reduce inequality and elevate people from poverty. The government needs to provide students with affordable accommodation that will make the schooling environment conducive.

This correlates with the government’s commitment to making an environment conducive for investors to the point that it subsidises the automotive industry to the tune of R23-billion. Numerous subsidies and bailouts of industry prove that government has the capacity and will to subsidise sectors of the economy it deems essential to economic development.

The government needs to buy buildings near universities and TVETs and renovate those buildings to provide affordable student and varsity workers’ accommodation. This accommodation will not be driven solely by profit-making but it will boost the ANC’s 54th National Conference resolution of building the national democratic society characterised by the developmental state.

The envisaged developmental state must increase the population’s access to education because in the 21st century ideas and knowledge will drive economic growth. The vision of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is centred around technological education in which countries with a low quality of education will likely be spectators due to lack of innovation, production of ideas, and democratisation of knowledge.

The accommodation crisis will never be resolved by universities alone — national and local government have to play their part. For instance, student numbers at the urban-located Wits University have increased drastically from about 19,000 in 1999 to about 37,000 today. The then Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, said in 2012 that government would be unable to solve the shortage os 200,000 university beds.

The Higher Education and Training Department’s September 2011 report on the ministerial committee for the review of the provision of student housing at South African universities suggested that given the dire shortage of suitable student accommodation, a public-private partnership model recommended that:

  • Given the dire shortage of suitable student accommodation, public-private partnerships in the form of student villages, particularly in the metropolitan areas, should be explored further;

  • Mechanisms designed to foster and enhance co-operation between all stakeholders involved in the provision of student housing and accommodation need to be established, under the auspices of the department.

  • An investigation into universities’ use of reserves for priorities such as student housing should be undertaken.

  • A “wealth tax” mechanism should be explored as a way of increasing residence access to disadvantaged students.

The government must address the accommodation crisis. Great sacrifices were made to establish a people’s state. In the same breath; students will not get affordable accommodation without a fight — students have to mobilise and organise themselves. The protest by Wits University students on 27 September was only the beginning.

In response to student protests, our government must establish a solidarity economy and green universities. For example, Stephen Devereux of the National Research Foundation told the National Colloquium on Access to Food for students that more than 30% of students are food insecure. Building green universitites will mean that our universities will start installing renewable energy that can result in universities spending less on electricity, which would mean more funds available for affordable accommodation.

Making student accommodation affordable and conducive will greatly contribute to reducing university dropouts and failure rates. If the environment for learning is conducive our country will begin to produce knowledge, to be innovative and be a participant in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Inversely, lack of a comforting environment for learning and for producing ideas contributes to the underdevelopment of our country.

Providing affordable accommodation for students will contribute to former president Nelson Mandela’s dream of seeing the downtrodden using education as a vehicle for upward mobility. As he asserted:

Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”

The government and private sector need to play their joint role of providing feasible student accommodation. The Wits University students protest “Land is Accommodation” is a revolutionary cause, along with movements such as Reclaim the City in Cape Town. This struggle is the struggle to protect the poor and working class’s safety and dignity.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2018-10-01-the-ongoing-struggle-for-affordable-accommodation-renders-free-education-meaningless/

Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

Wits University Students Representative Council (SRC) Secretary

Comment by Ashley Nyiko Mabasa “The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation by Stuart Hall”

 

Image result for fateful of race, ethnicity and nation

 

 

Introduction

Race, ethnicity and the national question are significant concepts for the understanding of the ongoing resistance against and for the social formation. Race, ethnicity and nationality – these concepts continue to be relevant to contemporary South Africa. This review will critically examine Stuart Hall’s seminal book in 2017, “The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity and Nation.” Race in countries such as South Africa and United States continues to be eminent issue – other scholars such as Stuart Hall argue that race bears floating signifiers driven by discursive formation.  This review argues that race is not scientific concept but social construct similar to other social constructs such as, gender, class or what Judith Butler calls hetre-normative sexuality– couched on socio-historical culture. This review further argues the conceptualisation of ethnicity by Stuart Hall and shows the junction between race and ethnicity. Moreover, this review furthers Stuart Hall’s approach on the national question. This review will show how Stuart Hall’s aforementioned approach relates to South Africa’s social formation.  In this case, the review acknowledges that South Africa continues to battle with resolving issues of race, ethnicity and the national question.

Theoretical conception of race and South Africa’s experience

The point of departure is that, race is not dissimilar to language which is fundamental to culture. Hence, Hall sees race as a cultural and historical manifestation rooted in cultural difference which is not per se linked with genetic, physiological or biological difference. Here, there is acknowledgement that race is commonly conceived as physical, phenotypic differences which make racial groups socially, intellectually and emotionally distinct but that is not correct as race is a discursive construct – a sliding signifier.

In addition, viewing race on basis of physical traits overlooks its basis on cultural and socio-historical grounds. In this line Appiah cited by Hall (page, 40) that Appiah contends that

“substituting a sociohistorical conception of race for biological conception of race for biological one…is simply to bury the biological conception below the surface, not to transcend it”

The Appiah posits race as the discursive formation that makes sense in the social relationship and this social relationship it is driven by the regime of truth. In another words, the regime of truth it is similar to discourse which formulates the social constructs.  For example, race cannot be considered in a vacuum by “itself” because “itself” is biological traits without genealogy of social-cultural history.  In this case, Hall explains how in the 18th century the physical and cultural differences between peoples lead to the construction of the discourse of black primitive barbarian nations in opposition to mature white civilized ones as a way to accommodate both “us” and “them” in a single human group whilst previous construct relegated them to a different species which is inferior. In that way, Hall further contends that while this idea of some races as ‘other” is fixed, it is also a sliding signifier because it means many different things to many people.

Europeans imagining race based on the physical features and deducing that racial differences explained social and cultural differences was a useful tool for them because race as a discourse was a social construction through which people could be categorised and socio-cultural messages about those people could be reproduced so– a sliding signifier. Furthermore, race has different purposes and therefore different meanings in different contexts. For example, Greeinstein concurs with Hall by arguing that race has differed between societies and over time – in South Africa or Southern USA the viewing of the race, what constitutes blackness and whiteness in particular, is not the same as these two distinctive societies social and political systems have been evolving. In other words, Hall argues that, the meaning of race is not fixed and instead changes within the given context.

In addition, Hall states that during conception of race as “other” is fixed, is grounded in the sliding signifier because entails that many things to different many people. Put differently, Hall argues that for many years’ scholars have contended race as a cultural construct not as in the premise of biology because even though historically science or pseudo-scientific theories were used as a service of imperialism to put forward some genetic basis to define race. For example apartheid system in South Africa was used define and marginalise black people on the basis that black people are inferior and white are superior. Or under the world war two in Germany where Nazi fascists used pseudo-scientific theory to justify injustices and holocaust.

Furthermore, according to Hall race was given a biological meaning based on physical appearances deductions were made about genetic differences between race groups. By giving racialisation a genetic basis, white supremacists were able to construct rigid racial hierarchies in which the social and economic oppression of those characterised as being of an inferior race were justified – Apartheid was such a hierarchy. For example, Williams and Satgar have shown the manner in which apartheid system which was founded on the basis of race and the race to justify black discrimination such as the Apartheid colour bar which has been reproduced in South Africa’s post-apartheid. They both assert that despite the end of apartheid, patterns of racial oppression have continued in contemporary South Africa through capitalism that has eroded and reproduced forms of racial inequalities. In the same vein, Greenstein  has shown that apartheid government falsely discredited the fact that race was being as a social and political tool.

 

Ethnicity and globalisation

Race has being framed as biological differences – black and white whilst ethnicity is more complex cultural identity. In this context, Hall has argued that ethnicity it is broad and it is more subsuming term than race. In the same breath, ethnicity is packaged in cultural differences such as shared “languages, traditions, religious beliefs, customs and rituals that bind together particular groups” (page 83).  Put differently, ethnicity is the sense of being attached to a place and community over generations, in Hall’s cemented the fact that ethnicity is built on historically and culturally with the sense of origin – “kith and kin” or “blood and soil” (page 17).

In South Africa ethnicity was used by apartheid system to divide and rule the natives. As Mamdani has shown, the apartheid government formulated bifurcated-state in which they entrusted chiefs and indonas with authority to govern different ethnicities in order to minimize revolt during apartheid. Ethnicity is embedded in the institution of national and cultural origin. Hall has shown that ethnicity hybrid of ethnicity by diaspora societie – he calls it ethnocization of racial taxonomies. For example, black people in America have adopted ethicize national description such as African -American including the black Carribean and Asian migrant communities in Britain called themselves “black British.”

In addition, the rapidly increasing of ethnicization it is as the result of mass migrations that start globally in 1900s.  Hall pointed out that the Black British identification is the hybrid ethnicity in which British diasporas have created themselves as new subjects.  However, Caribbean and Asian ethnicities in Britain or Africans in United States are united because they share the historical roots. Other thinkers have argued that mass migration poses a threat to ethnicities. In addition to the creation of the new subject ethnicity – Black-British identification show another threat to the fixed notion of race and notion of duality between white and black in Britain because some can be both Black and British. This made Hall  invoke the racist slogan which entails how some racists responded to the Black-British moniker point it: “There Aint’t No Black in the Union Jack” (page 153).

Another threat of ethnicity is globalisation which means the compression of time and space – this follows by the disruption of the settler borders and integration of different national frontiers. Indeed, ethnicity it is tied by cultural identity, thus cultural theorists characterising modernity as the late modernity contend that there is potent trend toward global independence which is leading to breakdown of all strong identities. For example Mcdonald in South Africa has managed to become glo-calised – making their production to reflect cultural needs of South African people.

Theoretical conception of Nation in South Africa

Nation is simply the question of belonging and citizenship; however, in this case nation focuses on ethnicity and cultural diffferences. Hall borrows from “Janus-like” nature of national identity in 1994 as mutually increasingly open and hybrid and closed and fundamentalist. Here Hall use Benedict Anderson’s analogy that there is a “imagined community,” in which Hall  clearly argues doesn’t exist and therefore that the nation does not exist, it exist in myth. Moreover, Hall  further contended that:

We should think of national cultures, then, as discursive-like in their mode of constructing collective identitiy. Organised around the national signifier, whose function is to represent difference-as-unity, to make all constituent element present as identity…” (page 141)

Furthermore, Hall has expressed the fact that British and English are often used interchangeably these terms operate as a “closed, unitary, homogeneous, essentialist, and originary” term (page 157). Notwithstanding, the discursive power relations between the English and Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish this is packaged in the so-called United Kingdom.

In relation South Africa, the national question has been ongoing debate as South Africa is multi-racial and multi-ethnicity nation. In simple terms, national question is largely the question of belonging. This is led Hall into argue against a fixed conception of migration as loss and of the disporic experience as the nation deprived of one’s authentic identity. Because discursive formation not only denies the process of continuous identification but also omit the complexity of ethnocization or hybrid of different ethnicities. However, during 1960s, under apartheid most part of Venda and Gazankulu, there was a new identity appearing amongst Vendas and the Vatsongas called “Venture” this was signifying the mixture of Venda and Shangaan languages and cultures.

 

In addition, Hall logically reached conclusion by believing that identification that asks “not who we are but who we can become” (page 174). This shows that nation same as race and ethnicity are social constructs. Hence, for instead, South Africa’s homeland institutionalised nations within black people and deprive them of citizenship but subjects of traditional authorities. Similarly, to the diasporas which comprises of cultural formations which cuts across and interrupt the settled shape of race which Hall call ethnos.

Conclusion

This review has attempted to critically discuss Stuart Hall conceptualisation of race, ethnicity and nation. Race is a social construct marked by the cultural differences which is not linked with genetic difference. In other words, if one knows other people biological trait does not mean one know their cultural history. Though, what makes black people united is the social history of slavery. While ethnicity it is also the share of cultural, language and customs, however, ethnicity has been disrupted by globalisation since it is not independent of time and space. One can be Indian originating at India can find their customs in Britain such as food. This review also argued that nation which is about the cultural belonging and origin.

Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

Wits SRC General Secretary

Why the DA’s offering is not critical to resolving South Africa challenges: A Response to Mmusi Maimane

 

South Africa is currently confronted with complex questions to resolve – the questions of race, class, xenophobia and ethnic resurgence.  With political nuance at the heart of these questions, Democratic Alliance is not a solution either the Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF). These issues need to be treated with ideological and organisational diligence due to their complexity; they are not for the provocateurs and populists such as Julius Malema and Mmusi Maimane.

The former President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumha in his seminal book titled Class Struggle in Africa 1970, invoked the debate on race and class. The dual analysis of class and race was not new at the time as the Bandung Conference of 1955, in which 29 countries from Asia and Africa convened, attempted to resolve the same issue. Nkrumah succinctly pointed out that the problem with most African countries is racist-capitalist economic structure.

In his article published at Daily Maverick on 28 August 2018, Mmusi Maimane argues that DA is a solution for South Africa’s problems of inequality. However, Mmusi neglected to annunciate the terms class and racism in his article, not to mention that he believes that in South Africa peace can be ushered without resolving the issue of economic property ownership. It is disillusioned to propose that in a country where much of the wealth is packaged within land, mineral resources  and agricultural produce it is possible to rectify inequality without fair redistribution of these resources to the deprived majority.

One has to commend the ANC for attempting to unite South Africans and hold different ethnicities together under a national identity since the democratic dispensation. Meanwhile, white conservatives like Helen Zille continue to obliviously defend the crime of colonisation whilst Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu attempt to tear our envisaged national democratic society with their race reductionist and narrow nativism comments – such as the recent claim that majority of Indians are racists. Here, DA and EFF are in the same category – trying to divide South Africans to a gain votes in 2019 national elections.  Both the political parties fail to articulate a clear strategic and tactical vision on how we build a better South Africa packaged in non-racism, non-sexist and equitable democratic society.

The repeated cases of DA Western Premier Helen Zille praising colonisation as a vehicle which helped South Africa to civilise is repugnant. It is fundamentally false to claim that all South Africans continue to benefit from colonialism, because colonialism as a system was not created for the benefit of the colonised Africans – it was resource extraction project. The minimal infrastructure developed in colonised nations such as South Africa was either needed for the extraction of resources or created for the benefit of the settler colonial capitalists who oversaw the plundering. For instance, Cecil John Rhodes did not donate the land that the University of Cape Town was built on with the intention that black students would one day attend that institution, in fact the imperialist would roll in his grave at the knowledge that such a thing was happening.

Helen Zille is continuing the tradition of European modernity and renaissance theology of trying to justify colonisation and stealing of African mineral resources by metropolitan states such as British, Belgium, and Portugal coloniser as civilisation process. Mmusi Maimane could not decisively address the question of colonisation raised by his predecessor in DA and the legacy of apartheid racism today.

It is undeniable, that racism continues to exist side by side with inequality in South Africa and has imbedded itself within structures of South Africa’s economy. Conversely, Mmusi Maimane simply argued that he desires to do what has never been done in South Africa – to unite South Africans along their race. It is troubling that he does not mention the racialised class system’s roll in South African racial conflict. As he contends:

“I have a different vision, one I am willing to fight for no matter how unpopular, and no matter how much resistance I face. For me, South Africas road to unity and prosperity lies in bringing together people of all races to right the wrongs of the past while simultaneously building a thriving, growing, diverse country for all. I am not oblivious to the enormity of the task; indeed, we are trying to do what has never been done in South Africa’s history. That is, bring together a fractured, divided society on the basis of shared values.”

It is troubling that Mmusi Maimane believes that he can unite South Africans of all races to rally behind the objectives of building united society based on neo-liberalism. This is a fallacy; his vision completely fails to recognise that the biggest divider in our society is the economic inequality between the black and the white population.

At this point the ANC has attempted to radically deal with inequality adversities since the democratic transition establishment of the social transfers, providing free health care, free primary and elementary school with feeding scheme and recently introduced the free high education in the university. I can attest as the beneficiary of the aforementioned state social intervention. But still South Africa is still divided along class and race.

The DA should admit that does not have a vision to confront the issue of race and its bedrock of class in our society and they are incapable of solving such race and class. South Africa racism has found itself entrench behind ownership patterns, in the case of land, it was only 2% of the white families owning about 80% of the land in South Africa. This further displays itself in the inequality patterns, black South Africans earn on the average of about R2600 a month contrary to their white counterparts who earn an average income of about R11 700 a month (According 2016 statistic South Africa figures). This further goes to the inappropriate numbers of high institution graduates, in this case between 2002 to 2017, black Africans who graduated in 2002 were 2,9% of the total graduates and 2017 they were a mere 3,4%  whilst white graduates in 2002 were 15,5% and 2017 18,0% of the total graduates. Surely, these numbers are hiding complexity behind them and the complexity is that race and class continue to be the real problem in South Africa.

Mmusi Maimane does not have a vision to deal with the racialised inequalities because liberal democrats who take neo-liberal economic positions always think dialogue can be panacea for our complex problems of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The reality is that in a society such as South Africa racism will never end without dismantling the capitalism and replacing it with democratic socialism. As under apartheid, black people continue experience double-exploitation on the basis of class and colour of their skin.  This was not only condition existing in South Africa it exists in Caribbean, USA, Latin America, and Brazil etc.

Therefore, DA’s visions of building united South Africa at the centre of neo-liberal economy cannot close the gap of racialised inequality and eradicate poverty. The only strategic framework that can end racism is by building a socialist economy. In this case, DA has to face reality and concur with Ghana revolutionary struggle icon Kwame Nkrumah when he succinctly contends:

“A non-racial society can only be achieved by socialists’ revolutionary action of the masses. It will never come as a gift from the minority ruling class. For it is impossible to separate race relations from the capitalist class relationships in which they have roots

He further argue that: “It is only the ending of capitalism, colonialism, imperialism and neo-colonialism and the attainment of world communism that can provide the conditions under which the race question can finally be abolished and eliminated.”

This is not irrelevant to contemporary South Africa, a society which the former President Thabo Mbeki characterised as having two nations, one nation rich and white and the other nation black and poor. So it is wrong of Mmusi Maimane to say that the ideology of the National Democratic Revolution is not an answer to South Africa’s challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. It is clear that race and class are intertwined in our society – one can not address the former without addressing the latter. This is the duality which most democratic liberals such as Mmusi Maimane fail to understand – they want to address the social racism without addressing racialised inequality and poverty. Under a post-colonial capitalist society such as South Africa and the Brazil, the working class will remain overwhelmingly black because the overwhelming majority of South Africans are black.

The DA fails to acknowledge that, even though, the political white supremacy has  been ended in 1994, the large portion of the structures  of racial capitalism continue to be in place, with it, the concentration of the large economic power and privilege is still in the hands of very few white people. Indeed, Mmusi Maimane hesitantly agrees that race from apartheid to today remains the biggest network to access opportunities in South Africa, especially in private sector like Banks. It is clear that if the DA ever ascends to power, the transformation process will remain stagnant as long as the economic power and wealth that is accumulated through the racial structure remain unchanged. Today white people still control 90% of South African wealth. For example, Rupert’s Remgro, with different companies under Remgro group they have shares in more than seven of the top 25 JSE-listed companies.

In attempt to problamatise state capture, Mmusi Maimane’s critique considers the phenomenon at face-value and shows a lack of understanding regarding the nature of the capitalist society and the state. The capitalist society is one where the state depends on the collection of tax revenue to function and to provide services such as social grants, paying public servants and executing service delivery. At this point, the state must make the environment conducive for businesses to invest in South Africa to create jobs. Acquiring investment comes with conditions from private sector and conditions on policies of the state this can happen through World Economic Forum meeting or BRICS summits. It is clear that if the state fails to acquire investment to create jobs the unemployment will increase and that could lead to electoral loss for the governing party.

Mmusi Maimane failed to critically engage with the ANC’s strategic and tactic framework and its emancipation vision. In this case, the ANC 54th National Congress last year December 2017 has resolved in building the Developmental State, for industrialisation through active industrial policy such as Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) by Department of Trade and Industry while at the same time implementing policies to redistribute social income to promote education and achieve other social goals, like South Korea and Singapore. The ANC objectives of developmental state are as follows:

  • Enhance and Speed up economic growth, National Development Plan (NDP).
  • Build capacity for growth and development, advance local products and revive local manufacturing.
  • Advance state policy such as IPAP.
  • Build the state capacity to be able to authoritatively, credible and legitimately discipline the capital through building state institution to monitor clear coordination of state policies and extend powers of Competition Commission Act 89 of 1998 powers.

The party that Mmusi Maimane is leading even opposed to the expropriation of land without compensation, including the currently tabled motion in parliament of amending the Bank Act of 1990 to create a state bank and allow it to compete with main stream commercial banks. The state bank that can assist poor people, predominately black people from rural areas and township because will not be driven by narrow motive of profit interest. Still, DA member of the Finance Committee Gwen Ngwenya opposed this motion arguing that:

We think this is incredibly reckless especially when you mentioning things like extending vehicle finance to really what we are talking about as the poorest of the poor because when you are talking about the unbanked, you are talking about those people which private sector banks clearly with their risk profile, have seen that they would not be able to extend credit services to…”

It is clear that the DA does not have a clear vision to help poor people – its mandate is to maintain the status quo of inequality. Surely, if Mmusi Maimane believes the DA is the future he would be concerned with the monopoly of the main stream financial institutions that are untransformed. For instance, it is not right that about 80% of the deposit, credits, and loans for businesses, cars and houses are still concentrated into only the “big-four” banks, FNB, Abasa, Standard Bank and Nedbank. Clearly, there is need for state bank to dismantle this white monopoly capital in the financial sector.

The DA is not the future for many South Africans and Mmusi Maimane is wrong to think that DA can solve South Africa’s complex challenges. The ANC government has tried and continues to try to resolve South Africa’s burning challenges such as unemployment, poverty and inequality. Since the democratic dispensation, the black middle class numerical is slowly surpassing the white middle class and with the social welfare initiatives from government such as social grant and free education our society is progressing – and that is the only paragon that can unite South Africans. I have to attest that I am the huge beneficiary of the ANC government social transfers including free primary and second school education with feeding schemes, social grants and NSFAS funding. Mmusi Maimane must face the reality that the neo-liberal DA is not critical to the future of South Africa.

Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

YCLSA Wits Branch Secretary

 

 

 

 

Assessing the NDR in the 21st Century: In case of BRICS, Environment and Re-Configuration of the Alliance

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By: Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

The African National Congress [ANC] as a liberation movement has attempted to ideologically re-position since the democratic breakthrough in 1950s and 1960s. The clearest advancement of the National Democratic Society appeared to be the foundation of the ANC-envisaged society based on non-sexism, non-racialism and democracy. The battle for ideological influence over the ANC will not cease to exist as long as the ANC is viewed as the “leader of the society” and “liberation movement.” The phenomenon of the ANC attempting to ideologically position itself is not a new one – it resonates with the 1960s and 1970s debate of the national question, national democracy and class struggle. There is an urgent need for a critical assessment of the National Democratic Revolution in the 21stCentury, with different contending debates within the primacy of the National Democratic Revolution itself on the issue of democracy and the existence of the state.

Most of the discourse on the National Democratic Revolution is derived on the historicisation of South African oppressed people and their institutions of ethnicity. In assessing the National Democratic Revolution in the post-apartheid struggle, it is critical to discuss the failures of Leninist politics in the Global South countries but Leninist politics have not entirely failed the struggle of the working class and that needs to be acknowledged. It is important for Leninists to incorporate the ecological question as a means to negating the capitalist means of production. Economical Marxists argue that capitalism is dependent on the extracting of production – what Rose Luxemburg in his 1913 seminal work “Accumulation of the Capital” referred to as “the extra-economy”.

Assessing the National Democratic Revolutions a necessary resurgence

“The immediate interests of the overwhelming majority of the South African people lie in the carrying out of fundamental change: a National Democratic Revolution which will overthrow the colonial state and establish a united, democratic and non-racial South Africa. The main content of this revolution is the national liberation of African people in particular, and the black people general” (SACP, 1989).

The quote above by the South African Communist Party (SACP) shows the SACP’s fundamental conceptualisation and assessment of the National Democratic Revolution in 1989, at the eve of our democratic breakthrough. The National Democratic Revolution as a political programme needs to be assessed in order to fit into the new discussions on the current ecological crisis and dealing with the legacy of apartheid. The debates regarding the class struggle and racial oppression were intertwined in the idea of national liberation that was proposed by the national democratic revolution.

The important exposition of the theory of National Democratic Revolution in the SACP can be attributed to their influence to the experiences of the Soviet Union and revolutionary theories prevailing from Marxism-Leninism. Therefore, in assessing the National Democratic Revolution in the 21st century it is also vital to draw the genealogy of the National Democratic Revolution since 1920s Comintern in Soviet Union.

In addition, 1920s Comintern debate about the inter- and intra-class struggle was centred on the formation of alliance between the anti-fascists national movement and socialist movement in fulfilment of the national democracy. Put differently, the 1920s debate has been about the struggle for national liberation and socialism. In the same vein, National Democratic Revolution genealogy ascended as a strategy of the Comintern to deal with colonial and social formation in which productive forces and the racial and gendered proletariat were very small. This strategy was sustained in formation of the government of national unity in South Africa and in Italy during the post-war struggle against fascists’ government.

However, in 1960 Moscow  meeting of 81 communist and worker parties – declaration included the National Democratic Revolution for the first time was category of ex-colonial countries which could be identified as engaged in a non-capitalist path of development in opposition to imperialism  towards national autonomy “doctrinal basis and justification” for growing links between Soviet Union and ex-colonial world – national bourgeoisie aligned to national working class in struggle for national democracy against imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism.[1]

Essentially, the national democratic revolution, encompasses the two-stage theory which argue for the struggle of democratic national state as a transitory stage towards socialism and communism [short-term=National Democracy; long-term=socialist republic – 1984 constitution of SACP]. The struggle national democracy as embraced by National Democratic Revolution an immediate goal and socialism was the longer term objective in which different classes unit behind the Freedom Charter for the struggle for socialism. In a Marxists and Lenin lenses, socialism as a transitional phase between capitalism and communism – the relations of production are progressively develop or transform for instance more socialized forms of production where the means of production are appropriated for the social good over the private individual interest, after which their ownership passes into the hands of the direct producers themselves. The National Democracy is an additional phase imposed on this structure.

Assessing the National Democratic Revolution within sub-imperialists: BRICS

Another task of the National Democratic Revolution is the struggle against the imperialist regime. The formation of imperialism appears as the result of concentration and centralisation of the capital or the in Marxists abstract called the organic composition in the interest of the foreign capital to form monopoly capitalism. In assessing the National Democratic Revolution discussion, the NDR seeks to undermine the imperialism, because imperialism is dependent on the workers and instruments of labour with machines for the realisation of profit. Therefore, the national oppression was intended for global accumulation with the cheap labour, and the envisaged struggle of National Democratic Revolution is anti-capitalists in a nature that undermines the conducive conditions of the global accumulations.

 The recent emergence of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) can be considered an intrinsic rejection of the global capital accumulation by United State, Europe and Japan. Does the emergence of BRICS place the National Democratic Revolution into question? Because the NDR undermine the imperialism which Lenin argues is the highest form of capitalism, but BRICS gave birth to forging the alliance between imperialists and sub-imperialists countries. According to Marxist Dependency Theory school of thought, defined the sub-imperialist country like South Africa, India and Brazil as:

hierarchical level of the world system and at the same time as a stage of dependent capitalism (its highest stage) out of which some socio-economic formations are transformed into links in the imperialists chain without leaving the condition of economic dependency.”[2]

In assessing the National Democratic Revolution in the 21st century, the relative autonomy of the South African as sub-imperialists state must be guarded. For example is plausible that South African Communists Party with different civic organisation and Congress of South Africa Trade Union protested against allegedly Nuclear Deal which was between imperialists Russia and sub-imperialists South Africa government. As a consequence, the relationship between the imperialists’ countries and sub-imperialists within BRICS seek to promote the international division of labour dependence. Because sub-imperialists countries such as South Africa depend on the productive capital of imperialists countries in terms of manufacturing whilst imperialists countries extract sub-imperialists natural resources for the purposes of raw material.

In relation to BRICS and the National Democratic Revolution, the NDR argues for socialisation of the means and relations of production. In other words, using Freedom Charter to which is not socialist itself but provides a basis for “an uninterrupted advance to socialism” this will result in socialization of means and relations of production. The purpose of socialization of relations and means of production it is to develop the productive forces. However, the National Democratic Revolution seeks to root-out the global capital accumulation which was on the basis of racial oppression. In this case, BRICS insists on the internationalization of the capital and internationalization as its aim to place BRICS nations at the centre of global politics and economics and because of financialisation, ecological and globalization.

In an attempt to deal with the Colonization of Special Type (CST), the CST thesis was supported by materialistic interpretation of the two-stage theory. This was inspired by Lenin’s[3] work on the essential need to advancing a multi-class national democratic struggle—commonly referred to as the national democratic revolution. This first stage was necessary for developing capitalism, which created ‘class demarcation’ perfect for advancing political contestation required for the ultimate transition to socialism.[4] Conversely, in the transitional stage to socialism from the national democracy in 1994, BRICS emerged. BRICS does not have a strategy to break with the global capitalist dynamics and creation of a new economic and political organization. Surely, BRICS undermines the local subject of the revolution as ought to internationalize capital ownership with assistance of local bourgeoisie.

The radical left discourse is that BRICS is an alternative to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organization. In this case, BRICS have interests in Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. The National Democratic Revolution commitment for the transition to the socialism and eventually communism mode of production it is deferred by emergence of BRICS with sub-imperialists countries. Brazil interest in African minerals are growing, Patronas one of the Brazil biggest companies is present in 28 countries, investing USS$1.9 billion in coal, oil and natural gas in Nigeria in 2005.[5] Another case involving Brazil is that currently Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) is planning to finance Eletrobras in Mozambique with US$6 billion for the construction of hydroelectric. Another take over African country is that Vele second largest mine in the world which is owned by Brazil recently signed a US$1 billion deal to build railway in Malawi to transport coal to Mozambique. The reality is that Mozambique is exploited by the sub-imperialists BRICS countries not the Western Countries.

Furthermore, Russian companies are also scattered around Africa; in fact, Baruti Amisi contended that BRICS resemble the 1885 Barlin conference which decided on “Scramble for Africa” and this is repeated by state owned companies and bourgeoisie of BRICS countries.  Russia’s Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) such as Renova Campany has recently concluded a deal with South African government. South African Lonmin Campany, which is the third largest platinum producer in the world, may also have interest to Revona.[6] Another speculated moved is that Russian Campanies such as RusAl, Norilsk Nickel, Alrosa and Renova plan to invest about US$5 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years.

The African National Congress driven by the National Democratic Revolution in 1985 at Kabwe Conference at their Nature of the Ruling Class[7] discussion document classified the ruling class as enemy of the revolution. The ruling class composed as the white monopoly capital in South Africa with the ownership of mines such as De Beers, South African Breweries (SAB), Anglo-America, Old Mutual, Sanlam, etc.[8] Today they ruling might not be entirely the Western and Local Afrikaneers but ascend from the South of BRICS countries. In assessing the National Democratic Revolution, how do we move to socialism state while sustaining the interest of BRICS countries? Because we know that South Africa is just a gateway into Africa through energy or financial corporations.[9]

Assessing the National Democratic Revolution and Just transition

 

  An overwhelming majority of our people are working class and poor. They do not have the capital that private companies command to become Independent Power Producers (IPPs).  The development of public and social ownership in renewable energy production, in addition to ensuring that procurement is above board, remains strategically necessary and central to a just transition. If public ownership in renewable energy is not advanced and deepened directly under Eskom, it surely has to be taken forward equally decisively under a new public entity dedicated to renewable energy production. Proper management of the renewable energy transition in the context of an appropriate transitional energy mix, and having regard to the imperative of employment creation and the necessity of avoiding job losses is absolutely important as part and parcel of a just transition” [10]              

 

The above quote signifies South African Communist Party’s position in the South Africa’s energy policy. The eco-socialism has given us the alternative route on how the capitalism will be negated by socialism. It is plausible that the SACP has developed the ecological approach towards South Africa’s energy production. In the Central Committee (CC), the SACP resolved for social ownership of the renewable energy. South Africa’s government in 2010 drafted the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) arguing that was to shift South Africa’s dependence on coal energy to mix-energy by 2030. The Integrated Resource Plan intended that South Africa must shift from 85% to 65% of coal energy dependence.

In addition, National Democratic Revolution it is absence of ecologically or environment issue. The global economic accumulation it is dependent on the coal energy defined by Mineral Energy Complex (MEC). Historically, the Mineral Energy Complex has been dominated by the primary sector in the premise of mining industry. Put differently, mines require a massive amount of energy. The energy requirement of the mines is power-driven by electricity.[11] By the same vein, the functionality of the mining industry in South Africa it is determinant to the electrical produced, which at the same time requires the mining of coal to fuel power station.

Basically, the MEC perpetuates extractivism – extractivism is the exploitation of the natural resources and turns them to the mineral resources such as production of electricity. In that sense, Eskom produces high volume of electricity through burning of coal, which at the end is concentrated in the mining sector. For example deploying, Vaal Triangle as major centre of MEC[12]. It is central because is one of the largest mega-project that generates electricity through coal for the Eskom and at the same time uses large quantity of electricity for their production.

Extractivism is caused largely by Mineral Energy Complex that is linked to the production of electricity via coal-energy in South Africa. In her seminal paper “Its Deadly Impacts and Struggles Towards A Post-Extractivist Future” Samantha Hargreaves argues that MEC or generating of electricity is linked with extractivism in numerous ways. And this extractivism is facilitated by the state in a sense that all energy mega-projects are joint owned between the state and private sector. For example the Secunda (successor of the Vaal Triangle) focused on energy and chemicals, Richard Bay focused aluminium smelting and coal exports, Seldanha (Steel) etc. In these sites private sector and state they extract and refine coal. Eskom which is the state-own enterprise purchase coal from the earlier mentioned energy plants.

Using Ecological Marxist approach, multinational corporations can attributed to the degradation of the environment. Classical Marxists have been arguing that capitalism gravediggers are the development of the productive forces and relations of production that will lead to the consciousness of the proletariat dictatorship that will overthrow the capitalists system. In other words, at the certain stage of the development of material productive forces will converge into conflict existing social relations of production this will led to socialism. However, the Ecological Marxists approach is to argue that capitalist mode of production also created nature as its gravedigger contending that depletion of fossil fuels that drives industrialization, climate change and destruction of eco-systems, desertification etc.

Assessing the National Democratic Revolution, in fighting for national sovereignty South Africa, government must build socially owned renewable energy. The socially owned renewable will give the working class, cooperatives, municipality and community ownership of the energy. Socially owned renewable energy enhances the democratic ownership in the energy sector. The socially owned renewable energy as advanced by SACP will boost the National Democratic Revolution that it is striving to advance its own (South Africa’s) democratic project with being bullied by powerful external forces such as World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization.

Toward Re-configuration of the alliance: ANC and SACP

 

The cynical have always suggested that the communists are using us. But who is to say we are not using them”[13]

The ANC as the contested terrain at the centre of the alliance, which had at many different periods attempted to ideologically re-position itself. The ANC Youth League and Communists Party of South Africa (CPSA) conflict in the 1940s and 1950s significantly shows that there is internal and external ideological in the ANC. It was Joe Matthews in 1951 that emerged to successfully re-position the ideology in the premise of the ANCYL. Joe Matthews explicitly linked the South African struggle to a broader international struggle against the United States the ‘indirect enemy.’ Surely, the ANCYL conceived that Africans were exploited under the mode of production articulated as capitalism in the form of fascism. Therefore, the support for communist countries would culminate the support against racism and can be translated into a support for decolonisation which differentiates the ANC from the Western Countries.

In contrast, the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) in the 1940s emphasised the primacy of class struggle and the danger of nationalism obliterating the class oppression. In other words, the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) ideology with the ANC are not contradictory, however, one can argue that the contradictions are within the working class and the peasants. This happened, merely because the peasants were not in the category of the class formation. In this case, the ANC in alliance with the SACP enforced to represent the class and national oppression, as Africans suffered dual oppression, economic exploitation as workers and labourers and oppression and humiliation as the nation. But currently, there is polarisation of the working class itself based on ethnicity, gender and nationality. For example the ethnic resurgence between Vatsonga and Vavenda people at Malamulele for the municipality.

Scholars and activists have at different times conceptualised an alliance of the ANC and the SACP, some have reached a conclusion that the ANC is a capitalist organisation whereas the SACP is a socialist/left party and to confluent the two is impossible. Thus, the former represents the overwhelming majority of the working class, unemployed, rural based masses and the poor masses and the latter represents the category of the working class. Indeed, the foundation of this alliance was built on the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter aimed at building a broad alliance across classes and races at a national level. However, the Freedom Charter continues to be contested and interpreted differently within the Congress alliance; against the wishes of a group of Africanists (claiming that the document was foreign to African nationalism as it was socialist such as Pan-Africanist Congress).

Let’s pause and explain the role of the SACP, the Party seeks to address the immediate needs and enforce the momentary interest of the working class and equally mobilise for the revolution to overthrow the capitalist system and its replacement by socialist mode of production guided by the national democratic revolution. In the same circle, the SACP in alliance with the ANC engaged in the political programme called the NDR which is the revolution with various phases—one of the significant phases was the struggle to overthrow the colonialism and the apartheid system.

At the centre of reconfiguring the alliance, the role of the SACP is not to turn the ANC into a socialist party, but to engage in the struggle for socialism at the same time enforcing the immediate aims of the people. The struggle to overthrow capitalism cannot be separated from the struggle of the NDR. This is to say that, the SACP engaged in the class struggle without divorcing the immediate aims and enforcing the momentary interest of the working class. The ANC and SACP alliance seeks to address the national question and the people’s suffering from gender domination, poverty, unemployment and the inequality. In other words, the SACP as the revolutionary leftist cannot ignore people’s sufferings merely because it is pursuing a distant struggle for the socialist reality.

The internal configuration of the alliance must start internal within the tripartite alliance in a fight for realisation of the National Democratic Society. The national democratic society envisaged in the National Democratic Society characterised with non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. The South African Communist in resolving to contest the state and popular power in its 14th National Congress has eluded that:

That the 2007 12th National Congress of the SACP resolved that, while “the SACP is not, nor will it become, a narrowly electoralist formation”, “the SACP must contest elections within the context of a re-configured Alliance.” The resolution left open different modalities under which the SACP might contest elections – either on an ANC ticket but within a reconfigured Alliance, or, in the context of a re-configured Alliance, under the banner of the SACP but with a view to post-election coalitions with the ANC”[14]

This entails that the SACP is prepared to contest 2019, however, in “context of a re-configured Alliance.” In other words, depending on re-configuration of the alliance, given that the alliance is re-configured. Surely, the re-configuration of the alliance means that the post-elections the deployment to government must reflect the power relations of the alliance. It worth repeating this notion of reconfiguration of the alliance, it entails that the decisions of deployment to state must mirror the alliance, because the SACP, COSATU and SANCO campaign for the ANC to win the elections with the aim of governing the state and advancing the National Democratic Revolution.

However, it is important that the alliance to be re-configured. The alliance must be the highest taking decision body of the Mass Democratic Movement in order to advance the National Democratic Revolution. Ideally, the alliance must decide from the municipality deployment to the ministerial deployment in order to assure that there is accountability within the state and best capable cadres are deployed across the Mass Democratic Movement. This will ensure that the ANC does not lose the site of the political programmes, the National Democratic Revolution and Freedom Charter. Moreover, the policy of the government must also be re-configured, the alliance must be the centre of government therefore policies must ascend from alliance discussions.

Finally, the role of the SACP is not to change the ANC into a socialist movement, but to cater the class consciousness and for the overarching of the neo-liberal and realism ideology with the radical left perspective. The SACP and the ANC tasked themselves to mobilise the motive forces in order to overthrow the capitalist system and install socialism for the development of the productive forces.

 However, the SACP had contended that the motive force must be led by the working class of the national democratic revolution – acknowledging the fact that the working class cannot be categorised as the motive forces by virtue of working class classification. The motive force is defined by class conscious and the responsibilities. The tasks and the responsibilities of being the motive force must be won on the ground and through engaging solid struggles. The SACP developed Medium Term Vision [MTV] in order to build the working class as the motive force and remoulding the working class as a result of deepening the national democratic revolution.

Ashley Nyiko Mabasa is Wits YCLSA Shimi Matlala Branch Secretary

                                                   LET ENGAGE COMRADES!

[1] Lenin – Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism1, 1968 in Connor, JE (ed) – hzn&n. on Eblibics and Involution (New York: Pegasus)p. 47

[2] Luce Mathia “Sub-imperialism, the highest stage of dependent capitalism”

[3] Lenin, 1917: The State and Revolution.

[4] Neocosmos 1993: 17-18

[5] Amisi, Bond, Kamidza, Maguwu and Peek 2015: “BRICS, Anti-Capitalists Critique”

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] ANC, 1985 “Nature of the Ruling Class” Page

[9] Amnsi Bond, Kamidza, Maguwu and Peek 2015: “BRICS, Anti-Capitalists Critique.”

[10] SACP, 2018 Central Committee Statement.

[12] Fine and Rustomjee 1996

[13] Nelson Mandela , ‘Long Walk to Freedom’  1995; 139

[14] The SACP “14th National Congress, declarations and resolutions” 2017, Page 51

Toward Building Local Economy, Rhetoric aside

Image result for mec lebogang maile township economy

 

By Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

The ANC government has been turning a blind eye to the revitalisation of the township economy for the longest time. Our township economy continues to reflect the legacy of the apartheid, where cheap black labour is reserved for the industrial sector in the cities – initially in the mining sector and in now also in the rector.
Globalised capitalism and local monopoly capitalism is entrenched in the townships. This is best represented by shopping malls. It is ironic that with our high inequality, poverty and unemployment our country also has a higher number of shopping centres than the United Kingdom, our country has about 1 750 shopping centre while the much wealthier United Kingdom has about 1000.

Our country has no control over how global capitalism impacts the lives of our citizens. Capitalism has been entrenched in South Africa since 1980s when apartheid government introduced its neo-liberal policies. In 1996 the ANC government, through a class project by former Trade and Industry Minister Trevor Munuel, reached agreement with World Trade Organisation (WTO) that the WTO must regulate our tariffs imports from Europe and the US.  Unlike other global South countries South Africa voluntarily adopted this structural adjustment policy of trade liberation and financialisation of our market. Former president Thabo Mbeki justified this decision by arguing that he adopted a neo-liberalism economic framework to settle the country’s international debt.

The government, in an unholy trinity with the WTO and World Bank, reached an agreement which resulted in the deindustrialisation of South Africa’s local economy and the cementing of the global market’s hegemonic power to determine South Africa’s maize and breads prices. Noting that the apartheid government used to have Maize Boards whereby they regulated maize prices without global forces. Today the South African maize price is determined global forces in Chicago.

Our government’s agreement with the WTO subsequently led to key sectors deindustrialising such as textiles, clothing and electronics. This can also be attributed to delay of the economic transformation of townships since the 1994 democratic breakthrough. Our dilapidated townships continue reflect the reality of life for the black working class and the poor. They exist in the permanent vacation of consuming without producing anything due to lack of employment and industrialisation.

However, the Gauteng government led by young and vibrant ANC leaders came to the fore with a progressive plan to revitalise the township economy. It is plausible that the Gauteng government through the MEC for Economic Development, Lebogang Maile, initiated the revitalization of the township economies project. The township economy emerged as the direct response to poverty, inequality and unemployment. Let’s acknowledge the fact that Gauteng’s provincial government interventions into township economy came as an attempt to address consequences of capitalism entrenched by the Thabo Mbeki administration.

The Gauteng township economy project seeks to build inclusive economy and alleviate poverty and inequality in Gauteng.  Since the inception of this project, Gauteng government has been playing significant role in building township economy. Today, Gauteng has 14 registered co-operative banking institutions serving over 16,000 member-owners, with over R100 million in savings and R150 million in assets. This is a commendable intervention to deal with the negative impacts of neo-liberalism economy.

Revival of Township Economy Stokvels

Stokvels have long existed in South Africa. Their origin can be traced to the colonial and apartheid regimes which marginalised black South Africans and excluded them from the mainstream economy. The fact of the matter is that stokvels appeared in the black communities so that black people could survive the economic and social oppression imposed on them by the apartheid system and buttressed by racial, class and gender exploitation.

Conversely, the first component of Stokvel was the Bantu Burial Society formed in 1932. Our ANC government must unbundle the economy, by bringing Stokvels and burial societies into the mainstream economy. This will automatically revitalise the township economy. The township economy must be revived by boosting the stokvels, and then those participating in stokvels must also purchase the locally produced products.

In the post-apartheid, stokvels are considered informal organisations by the banking sector, although they are governed by a set of rules and principles through their members. These capitalist driven stereotypes behind stokvels continue to exist in our townships and rural areas in order to downplay township economy.

The stokvels have and continue to keep the finances of black people, especially the striving working class, afloat because they create social economy where black people can collectively save their money and buy each other groceries at the certain time of the year or pay out money invested to members instead. Stokvels contribute to the economy of our country. Our government must begin to assess the ways in which they can penetrate the Stokvel industry and grow it to eventually be incorporated into the mainstream economy. Over the years Stokvels in our country have been growing phenomenally.

Stokvels also seriously contribute to community development and local economic growth in several ways: such as the creation of employment and micro businesses. In other words, stokvels strongly contribute to the promotion of financial capital, social capital and social cohesion. On the other hand, they also significantly serve the market—they are reported contribute about R45 billion to the economy. Our government must fully capitalise on and invest in township economies to eradicate poverty.

A Black Economy that benefits white monopoly capitalism

It is estimated that there are 800 000 stokvel groups with 11 million individual members. Gauteng standing at 24% of the people engaging in stokvels . Gauteng has the largest townships in South Africa the combination of Soweto, Tembisa and Katlehong has almost 2 million people.

The Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor Annual Survey embarked on the task of contacting black Africa households about their investments. In 2016 they reveal the fact that the Stokvel sector’s economic estimated economic share has increased to R49 billion in savings and 8% of them, which is about R8.8 billion, were formed for buying groceries.

Again, the Old Mutual Annual Survey Report in 2016 further showed that usage of Stokvels in South Africa by black households has increased from 50% in 2010 to 59% in 2016. As a consequence, there are different types of Stokvels. Topping the list of types of stokvels that black household members belonged to in 2016 were the Burial Stokvel at 34%, followed by the Grocery Stokvels at 18%. At the same time, these stokvels and burial societies consume global products such as groceries produced by multinational companies.

The ANC government, in line with their 54th National Elective Conference, adopted the Radical-Socio Economic Transformation. The revitalization of the township economy is very important and Stokvels and burial societies are central to boosting this development. The ANC must also revitalise the township economy in order to solidify transformation of the economy for black people.

Dismantling the apartheid-capitalists legal framework

Consequently, our government must revisit the Friendly Society Act of 1956 and Bank Act of 1990. This was the strategic framework put together by the apartheid and capitalism relations government because they wanted burial societies to work in a way which would benefit the apartheid financial institutions such as banks. Burial societies are supposed to open an account with a bank and they were not allowed to accumulate money without banking it. As well, the Bank Act recognises stokvels within a legal entity, and place limits to the maximum level of deposits for a Stokvel to R9.99 million.

The ANC government must adopt the bottom-up approach in dealing with economic transformation. If it is serious about the call for radical economic transformation they must start by amending Friendly Society Act of 1956 and Bank Act of 1990. This will allow small scale burial societies to open accounts with banks. Currently, many burial societies open bank accounts as cooperatives and some keep their money under mattresses – a seemingly comical idea but a real consequence of structural economic exclusion.

Still today these financial Acts benefit only big banks such as FNB, Standard Bank, Absa etc. The state must attempt to eradicate these laws which work in favour of monopoly capitalism through forcing burial societies to work with banks and giving banks the ability to put a restriction of amount of money stokvels accounts can hold. Our government must continue to buffer the Cooperative Act of 2005 and amend the National Credit Act of 2006 because this Act puts limits on the interest rates for loans, which currently stand at 32% per annum. As it currently stands, the phenomena of Stokvels are considered informal financial structures (the majority of them) and impossible to apply the National Credit Act to these stokvels. Our government must clearly scrutinise these laws in order to make them work in favour of the stokvels directly and the broader township economies as a consequence.

There is no clear Act which governs the stokvels but they are regulated by National of Skovel Association of South Africa and the apartheid Bank Act of 1990. This is troubling because, post the-apartheid regime, our government has not paid enough attention in the development of stokvels. National Stokvel Association of South Africa is the mobilising group of stokvels and it is only authorised by the Reserve Bank. I have argued several times that stokvels must have a direct legislation outside of National Stokvel Association of South Africa that will allow them to have a strong legal basis to function.

SACP and FSCC

In 2004 the South African Communist Party (SACP) made a critical call to the Financial Sector Campaign Coalition (FSCC) and SAFOBS. These are entities created to enhance the regulation of burial societies mostly in the townships. The General Secretary of the SACP Blade Nzimande, in his address on 16 October 2004 at Johannesburg City Hall, called upon SAFOBS and FSCC to ensure that burial societies can deal with banks on the basis of the needs and interests of members of burial societies and not based on profits for banks.

The SACP since its launch of the  FSCC in 2000 has been placing pressure on the South Africa’s financial institutions to be in considerate of the poor and the working class. The SACP campaigned against the banks exploiting the poor and called for our government to transform the financial sector. In a call for transformation of the South Africa financial sector SACP called for the following:

“Creation of a co-operative banking sector, in which the savings of the working class are decided by the working class itself and be used to address the developmental needs of our people. For example, in a country like Cyprus, co-operative banks, which are legislated in law, provide for housing, infrastructure and loans to ordinary people at rates below the lending rates of commercial banks. There is no reason why we should not be saying the time has come now for the workers’ to reclaim their stokvel money , insurance investments and their provident funds to be used for the benefit of the people themselves” [1]

The SACP must revive and intensify the FSCC and the call for our government to establish the state bank that will only focus on township economy. This bank must solely focus on stokvels and burial societies. It must push our government to assess the cooperative, because 85% of cooperatives funded by state failed while our government has already spent around R1billion on cooperatives.

Build a state bank to boost the local economy

Our government must strategically boost the township economy by boosting stokvels. This can happen in a variety of ways, the first leading back to the perpetual debate that our government must establish a state bank. Studying the economic development of Britain, one will see that British government was controlling their banks. This is not dissimilar to the National Party 1989 resolution to nationalise the reserve bank and the ANC elective conference 2017 resolutions that the party must further take a steps to nationalise South Africa’s reserve bank.

Clearly, with a state bank and the nationalisation of the reserve bank, our people can afford to make their banking transactions cheaper contrary to the status quo where in 2004 Standard Bank alone was taking, through bank charges, about 6 cents for every deposit made by each member of more than 50 000 members. This comes to close R300 000 per month. It is troubling that in post-apartheid black South people continue to be financial enslaved by banks.

The Post Office through the Postbank, a state financial institution, holds a higher ratio of stokvel accounts than any other bank except Nedbank. The government must revive the Post Office and boost township economy by encouraging the stokvels and burial societies to bank with them. However, the Post-Office must be treated as the workers and community bank. The Post-Office must not be involved in the mainstream speculative markets of the financial sector. A good example of this is the Northern Province of Italy, which did not engage in financial markets, hence the 2008 bubble burst did not affect Northern Province of Italy.

Practical fight capitalism system

Surely there is a need for a combat strategy to replace the capitalist model, especially in the financial sector and agricultural sector. And it is fundamentally essential for the land issue to be resolved in line with rebuilding the South African manufacturing sector. So that most of the food purchased by South Africans can be manufactured or processed in our country. The ANC, during its watershed 2017 elective conference, resolved for the expropriation of land without compensation. As former Chinese President Mao Zedong pointed that “a revolution is not the same as inviting people to dinner.” If the ANC is serious about Radical Socio-Economic Transformation, then they must use the Industrial Development and Corporation (IDC) and Land Bank to strongly fund black farms. Local food production must be supported to boost our food security and reclaim our food sovereignty from global North countries. Legislature needs to be developed create strong cooperatives.

Let’s pause and check the facts, grocery stokvels contributes a lot to our economy. For example, Shoprite (69.9%), Pick ‘n Pay (49.2%) and Spar (32.9%) are the three main retail outlets used by individuals for their grocery purchases. When it comes to shopping for the stokvel, this varies slightly with the top 3 outlets being independent wholesalers (23.3%), Shoprite (20.7%) and Spar (10.6%).  If these groceries are purchased locally the township economy, for instance in retail consumer cooperatives, these can rapidly revitalise our township economic. Therefore, the consumer cooperative appears more significant to the sale and supply of the local food to the Stokvel members. Given that the primary challenge faced by stokvels is the lack of transport; our government must supplement the members of Stokvels buying at local cooperatives with transport to deliver.

Our society is confronted with enormous social and economic challenges which can partially be resolved by revitalise the township economy through boosting stokvels and burial societies. Our nation needs an urgent solution to address three oppressions; poverty, unemployment and inequality. Again, boosting stokvels and burial societies can help to deal with some of these challenges. Stokvels will then start prioritising the township based shops and consumer cooperatives retails as their primary supplier for groceries.

Finally, the ANC government must critically attempt to assist black people to revitalise their local economies by helping them to integrate the local economy into the mainstream economy. This might also improve their living conditions and create job opportunities. Ultimately, our government will be minimizing social and economic problems such as inequality, unemployment and poverty among black people.

Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

YCLSA Shimi Matlala Wits Secretary