Why Dlamini-Zuma can’t win (a Business Day column from March 2013 that still holds true)

Seniority in the ANC will only get you so far

Business Day, 1 March 2013

The idea of “seniority” plays an elusive but important role in the internal politics of the African National Congress (ANC). Its meaning is neither defined in the ANC’s constitution nor debated at the movement’s elective conferences. But it shapes decisions about who exercises power and it influences the outcomes of ANC elections.

Seniority is not merely a matter of which office one holds. Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe has been stripped of ANC offices but he nevertheless retains a reservoir of seniority.

Seniority is plainly not a direct reflection of age (although it is difficult to acquire this property if you are young). Most ageing ANC cadres lack seniority; they are instead described as “veterans” or, worse still, as “stalwarts”. Such cadres serve on integrity rather than tender committees and can be safely ignored.

The young acquire seniority only if their patrons die – most famously when Oliver Tambo’s aura was bequeathed to his bag carrier, Thabo Mbeki. The young pipe smoker acquired even more of the property by virtue of the status of his father.

Aristocrats such as Nelson Mandela enjoy an initial seniority advantage. Representatives of the workers, such as Gwede Mantashe, can reach the highest offices in the movement, but they can never accumulate a sufficient quotient of this precious commodity to become ANC president.

In the Mbeki era seniority was associated with exile and with Robben Island. Trade unionists and United Democratic Front leaders were inherently junior to their illustrious exile liberators. Whites and Indians obviously cannot become senior no matter what offices they hold (but they can become “dedicated cadres of the movement” instead, which is a reward in itself).

Men are inherently senior to women (of course) but this is no longer an absolute barrier. A woman can acquire seniority from her family (for example in the Sisulu dynasty) or through marriage.

The latest beneficiary of this magical property is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. “Dlamini-Zuma is as intelligent as she is charming”, an international diplomat remarked at a recent function in Cape Town. “The trouble is that she isn’t very charming.”

It is rumoured that Mathews Phosa, former treasurer general of the ANC, has been assigned a new role working with Dlamini-Zuma. One former minister likened this deployment to animal cruelty; another to the “promotion” of disgraced Soviet politicians to run nuclear power stations in Siberia. It will certainly give pause to future challengers to Zuma’s authority.

Dlamini-Zuma’s record as a minister of health and foreign affairs was lamentable. But despite her personal and political limitations she has acquired a bucket full of seniority over the years.

Her decision to run as Mbeki’s deputy at Polokwane gained her seniority credits.

Her miraculous post-Polokwane rehabilitation has seen her acquire still more. A few months after her arrival as minister at home affairs, it was declared that she had “turned around” the department. Her previous personal relationship with Zuma represents an additional source of seniority.

At Mangaung she came top in the national executive committee elections as a result of concerted lobbying.

Now she has acquired a massive new draught of seniority as a result of her rise to the chair of the African Union Commission.

Dlamini-Zuma may be intellectually and temperamentally unsuited to this demanding role. But her backers in KwaZulu-Natal evidently believe it will provide her with the gravitas that she will need if she is to be parachuted into the ANC presidency in 2017.

This judgment is probably mistaken for two reasons. First, she will flop as AU Commission chair. Second, seniority remains a somewhat haphazard amalgamation of racism, nepotism and cronyism. It is therefore only a secondary value of the ANC, alongside such middle ranking ideals as the quest for human freedom, the search for mining licenses, and the identification of shopping opportunities. It cannot successfully be used to trump the movement’s foundational commitment to reject tribalism.

Butler teaches politics at the University of Cape Town

A quasi-Marxist survey of SA history from Thabo Mbeki (1978)

Thabo Mbeki 1978

The Historical Injustice


Transcribed: for marxists.org by Pallo Jordan;

This speech was delivered by Thabo Mbeki, member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC, at a seminar held in Ottawa, Canada, from February 19 to 22, 1978. It was published in Sechaba, March 1979 issue, with a view to generating a discussion on the important issues raised in the article.


Modern political science recognises the fact that social systems are founded on definite historical origins.

If the saying ‘out of nothing nothing comes’ is true, then it must follow that the future is formed and derives its first impulse in the womb of the present.

All societies therefore necessarily bear the imprint, the birth-marks of their own past. Whether to a greater or lesser extent must depend on a whole concatenation of factors, both internal and external to each particular society.

The latter consideration has often led many observers of the process of social development to over-emphasise the particularity of each society, to deny that this social development is in any way reducible to a science founded on observable facts, a science which has general laws, definitions and categories.

In this way, the relative is credited with the features of the absolute. Each society is thus presented as unique, its birth and development products of accidental collisions and inter-connections and therefore incapable of scientific prediction and cognition.

We consider that this position constitutes a dereliction of intellectual duty. Those of us who claim to be revolutionaries obviously cannot proceed in this manner. Indeed we must resist all attempts to persuade us that our future lies in the hands of an ungovernable fate. For the imperative of our epoch has charged us with the task of transforming ourselves from the status of objects of history to that of masters of history.

We must, by liberating ourselves, make our own history. Such a process by its nature imposes on the activist the necessity to plan and therefore requires the ability to measure cause and effect; the necessity to strike in correct directions and hence the requirement to distinguish between essence and phenomenon; the necessity to move millions of people as one man to actual’ victory and consequently the development of the skill of combining the necessary and the possible.

All this becomes attainable if we have succeeded to discover the regularities of social development, if we have studied our own society critically and in depth to discover the interconnections, the dynamic links that knit together and give direction to what might at first appear to be a chaos of facts, incidents and personalities thrown up by this particular society. For, to repeat, out of nothing, nothing comes.

Therefore to eliminate the speculative element as much as possible when talking about the policies of a new South Africa, it is necessary to examine the principal’ feature of the predecessor of that future reality, namely, present-day South Africa.

But again, a penetrating understanding of our country today requires also that we look at its past. We hasten to assure you that we shall not drown you in a plethora of historical detail.

Rise of Capitalism and Colonial Expansion

The first category of social science that we want to use tonight is that of class. To understand South Africa we must appreciate the fact and fix it firmly in our minds that here we are dealing with a class society.

In South Africa the capitalists, the bourgeoisie are the dominant class. Therefore the state, other forms of social organisation and the “official” ideas are conditioned by this one fact of the supremacy of the bourgeoisie. It would be therefore true to say that in its essential features South Africa conforms to other societies where this class feature is dominant.

Yet a cursory comparative glance around the world would seem to suggest that such a statement is hardly of any use in helping us to understand the seemingly unique reality of apartheid South Africa. More and perhaps better explanation is called for. We return therefore to the category, a class society, as well as step back into history.

The landing of the employees of the Dutch East India Company at the Cape of Good Hope 326 years ago, in 1652, represented in embryo the emergence of class society in our country. And that class society was bourgeois society in its infancy.

The settlers of 1652 were brought to South Africa by the dictates of that brutal period of the birth of the capitalist class which has been characterised as the stage of the primitive accumulation of capital`.

Of this stage Marx wrote: “The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in the mines of the aboriginal’ population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black skins, signalled the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation.” [1]

“The transformation of the individualised and scattered means of production into socially concentrated ones, of the pigmy property of the many into the huge property of the few, the expropriation of the great mass of the people from the soil, from the means of subsistence and from the means of labour, this fearful and painful expropriation of the mass of the people forms the prelude to the history of capital. It comprises a series — of forcible methods… The expropriation of the immediate producers was accomplished with merciless vandalism, and under the stimulus of passions the most infamous, the most sordid, the pettiest, the most meanly odious,” so wrote Marx. [2]

Such indeed was the slave trade; (such also incidentally the eviction of the Scottish Highland peasants many of whom came to settle here in Canada — vandalism of the most merciless kind.) Such indeed was the expropriation of the African peasantry.

It should therefore come as no surprise that six years after the arrival of the Dutch settlers, in 1658, the first group of slaves arrived in the Cape Colony.

In 1806, when England seized the Cape Colony from Holland by force of arms, there were 30,000 slaves in the Colony as against 26,000 settlers. There were also another 20,000 “free Coloured, Nama and in white employ…” [3]

Equally, it should come as no surprise that these 20,000 African wage-earners had been compelled into this position by the process, described by Marx and other historians of the period, of the “expropriation of the great mass of the people from the soil, from the means of subsistence and from the means of labour…”

Described as “free” in relation to the 30,000 slaves in the Colony, they were also “free” in so far as they had been liberated by force of arms, disease and starvation from their status as independent producers with their own hunting, grazing and arable land, their livestock and their working implements.

Calvin’s Doctrine distorted

Nowhere is this clearer than in the fate that befell Calvinist theology. Tawney has said that: “Calvinism was an active and radical force…(Its adherents were) disposed neither to idealise the patriarchal virtues of the peasant community, nor to regard with suspicion the mere fact of capitalist enterprise in commerce and finance… Calvinism was largely an urban movement… (Its teachings were directed primarily) to the classes engaged in trade and industry, who formed the most modern and progressive elements in the life of the age…” [6]

Writing of a British Governor-General in India, Marx says: “His favourites received contracts under conditions whereby they, cleverer than the alchemists, made gold out of nothing. Great fortunes sprang up like mushrooms in a day; primitive accumulation went on without the advance of a shilling.” [4]

And there we have the reason why Europe carried out this early accumulation at home and abroad with such merciless enthusiasm and passion — because the process assured men of property stupendous and immediate profit. Brought up in this European hothouse of rapine, the settlers in South Africa could not but continue this process in their colony. The result was that when England abolished the slave trade in 1834, ‘nearly two centuries after the arrival of the first batch of slaves, the descendants of the original colonists rebelled against this decision.

Judging themselves too weak to reimpose slavery by arms, the Boers resolved to take themselves out of the area of British jurisdiction. Thus began the so-called Great Trek of the Boers into the interior of our country.

Of course, all along, the Boers were determined that again they would have to seize our land and livestock and enslave our people.

We see therefore that the methods and practices of primitive accumulation which represented a transitional phase in the development of capital in Europe, assumed permanence in the South African economy and life-style of the Boers. They acquired a fixity characteristic of feudal society, legitimised by the use of force and sanctified by a supposedly Calvinist Christianity.

The South African settlers of 1652 had themselves been the expropriated of Europe. But, as in America, here in Canada, in Australia and elsewhere, after a little while, they were able to re-establish themselves as independent producers, acquiring land in the manner we have described, on the basis of the expropriation of our people, despite the most fierce resistance of the indigenous people.

It was exactly the blissful regaining of their status as masters of their own house, their re-emergence as independent producers, that froze the Boer community at a particular moment of historic time and thereby guaranteed their regression.

Thrown up by the birth of a higher social system, they reverted precisely to that natural economy which capital was so vengefully breaking up. But capital had already taught them that in the pursuit of a better life, everything, including murder, was permissible and legitimate.

A natural economy presupposes the absence of accumulation, “consisting of the petty dealings of peasants and craftsmen in the small market town, where industry is carried on for the subsistence of the household and the consumption of wealth follows hard upon the production of it, and where commerce and finance are occasional incidents, rather than the forces which keep the whole system in motion.” [5]. Thus it is the direct opposite of a capitalist economy even when the latter is at its primitive stage of accumulation.

When they reverted to a patriarchal economy, the Boers therefore abandoned all that was dynamic and revolutionary in the formation of bourgeois society and transmuted the rest into something stultified and reactionary.

The Boers had brought this Calvinism with them from Holland and were joined later by the Calvinist French Huguenots. But when they grafted this eminently bourgeois theology onto their patriarchal economy, they in fact transformed its content into a species of Lutheranism, which was essentially a theological school which sought to idealise feudalism and save it from destruction by the capitalist mode of production which was springing up all around it.

From Calvinism the Boer took the doctrine of predestination and perverted it.

For Calvin, the chosen of God were those who survived the jungle of capitalist enterprise in industry and trade and emerged as successful men of business, without regard to race or nationality.

In the patriarchal economy this was transmuted to read: the chosen of God are those who are white. For his part Luther had said: “An earthly kingdom cannot exist without inequality of persons. Some must be free, others serfs, some rulers, others subjects.” [7]. Racism, today so much part of South African reality, constituted a justification, an attempt to rationalise, to make acceptable the enslavement and expropriation of the black people by the white.

In Boer society and in the end among almost all the Whites, racism as an ideology, squired the attributes of a psychological fixation, with the characteristic of fixated behaviour that an ineluctably irrational perception of a particular set of relationships coexists with and distorts the perception of all other sets of relationships. In the circumstance that, in any case, ideological formations bear a complex rather than a simple relationship with the material world, generating a momentum which carries them beyond the material conditions that created them, we could expect that this racism would in time present itself as an autonomous force, God-given or nature-given, as an incontrovertible condition of human existence.

To go back to Calvin, where his theology had sanctified individualism to detach the bourgeoisie from the narrow and rigid world of feudalism and thrown him, unhampered by old prejudices, Into the world market, the Boers sang praises to a stultified individualism even narrower than that of the feudal epoch, an individualism which drew its strength from the economic self sufficiency of each Boer family, the isolation of the homesteads one from another and the isolation of a whole community from the rest of the world; an individualism which became truly itself and complete only to the extent that it despised and set itself in contrast to everything that was black: an individualism therefore which was and is characterised by a rapid racism.

British Involvement

British capital subdued this petrified and arrogant individualism during the Anglo-Boer War. In 1910 Boer and Briton entered into a social contract in which the Briton undertook to help ease the Boer out of the Dark Ages while promising to respect his traditions. For his part, the Boer pledged’ not to resist the advance and domination of British capital.

Between them, Boer and Briton agreed that they would share political power and, finally, that the indigenous African population would not be party to this contract but would be kept under the domination and at the disposal of the signatories, to be used by them in whatever manner they saw fit.

There were therefore written into this agreement, the so-called Act of Union of 1910, the continuation of the methods and practices of exploitation characteristic of primitive accumulation of capital which had remained fossilised in the Boer economy but which British capital had outgrown, certainly in Britain.

Why did the British ruling class, having won the war against the Volksraad, thus regress?

One reason of course is that we; are ere dealing with the post 1885 Berlin Conference period. It could therefore be argued that the predominant colonialist practices and attitudes of the time made natural and inevitable that the British ruling class would do in South Africa what it was doing in other colonies.

Yet this explanation would not be complete. For Britain had maintained an uninterrupted colonial hold on South Africa, to one extent or another, since 1806.

The decisive point to bring to the fore is that British capital, throughout the 100 years before 1910, had itself, in South Africa, clung tenaciously to the methods and practices of primitive accumulation.

Thus while in 1807 the British administration prohibited the importation of slaves into the Cape Colony, in 1909 it introduced a vagrancy Act directed at the Khoi people. [8].

Under this law, all Khoi people not in the employ of a white person were declared vagrants. Vagrancy was made an offence. To prove that one was not a vagrant one had to produce a pass. To get the pass you had to enter into a written labour contract with a white employer.

This measure was introduced to meet the labour short-fall created by the non-importation of slaves. It was therefore used to drive those Khoi people who still maintained an independent existence, off the land, to turn them into permanent wage earners and to create the means to direct this labour where it was needed.

In the end, it was the British armies which defeated the African people, the British who drove us off our lands, broke up the natural economy and social systems of the indigenous people. It was they who imposed taxes on the African peasants and, starting with the Masters and Servant’s’ Act of 1856, laid down the labour laws which govern the black worker in South Africa today.

In Europe, the economic freedom of the worker to hire himself out freely to the highest bidder, which came with and was part of the bourgeois revolution was of course connected with, accompanied and enhanced by the political freedom of the worker to represent themselves in matters of state through the vote, itself an integral part of the victory of the bourgeoisie over feudal society.

In South Africa this was not to be. Here, the capitalist inherited the rights of the feudal lord and appropriated to himself the right to determine where, when, at what price and under what conditions the African shall sell his labour power to the capitalist. He also appropriated to himself the right to decide “what is good for the native.”

It is therefore clear that British capital in South Africa differed from the Boer patriarchal economy with relation to primitive accumulation in two major respects.

The first of these was that it outgrew chattel slavery and therefore abolished it: the second, that, as capital, its aim continued to be that of greater and greater accumulation, through the pursuit of maximum profit.

It was therefore inevitable that British capital would be all that more thorough in the expropriation of the African peasant, all that more brutal in the exploitation of African labour, more scientific and less wasteful.

The historic compromise between the British bourgeoisie and the Boer peasantry represented hence not an historical aberration but the continued pursuit of maximum profit in conditions of absolute freedom for capital to pursue its inherent purposes.

British capital had at other times and in other circumstances made other compromises. One of the most important of these was undoubtedly that made with the British working class.

In its struggle against its feudal predecessors, the British bourgeoisie had called upon and received the support of the working people. It therefore had to take cognisance of the fact that its political victory did not belong to it alone.

It further took note of the fact that the denial of political freedoms to its ally while claiming them as a natural right for itself, posed the danger that these working masses would pass beyond the struggle against the feudal lords and take on the bourgeoisie itself.

While convincing the workers of the sacredness of private property. especially its own, bourgeois property, it nevertheless conceded them their political democracy. Thereby and mainly because of this concession, it destroyed the possibility for capital to continue using primitive methods of accumulation within Britain.

Capital in South Africa never had to contend with such a situation. Historically, it owes the working class nothing and has therefore conceded to it nothing, (excepting of course the white workers, about whom later.)

It is clear that during its war with the so-called Boer republics, the British ruling class consciously avoided putting itself in a state of indebtedness to the black people. For instance, in January 1901, Lord Milner, the British High Commissioner “told a Coloured deputation… that he could not accept their offer to take up arms against the republican forces.” [9]. The same thing happened when another Boer rebellion had to be put down in 1914.

That the bourgeoisie was aware that the denial of democratic rights to the workers was in the interests of capitalism was evident when indentured labour was imported from China after the Anglo-Boer war.

Then, the mine-bosses stated that “a big body of enfranchised white workers ‘would simply hold the Government of the country in the hollow of their hand’ and ‘more or less dictate not only on the question of wages, but also on political questions.” [10]

Translating the advantages of black worker disenfranchisement into cash, the Chamber of Mines stated in its 1910 Annual Report that it “viewed the native purely as a machine, requiring a certain amount of fuel” It decreed accordingly that the diet of the African miners living in the mine compounds should be determine in Arms of the formula “the minimum amount of food which will give them maximum amount of work.” [11]

Of the bourgeois countries, South Africa is unique to the extent that profit maximisation is the overt, unhidden and principal objective of state policy, and can therefore be regarded with respect to this characteristic as an almost perfect model of capitalism, cleansed of everything that is superfluous its essential characterisation; a model which displays to all, in their true nakedness, the inner motive forces of this social system and its fundamental inter-connections.

The position that black people occupy in this model can be defined as follows:

they are the producers of wealth;

they produce this wealth not for their own benefit but for its appropriation by the white population; and,

they are permitted to consume part of this wealth but only in that proportion which will “give the maximum amount of work” on a continuing basis.

This may sound harsh and anti-human but it characterises “pure capitalism.” Let us see for instance what Marcuse in his studies of Max Weber had to say: “The ‘formally most rational’ mode of capital accounting is the one into which man and his ‘purposes’ enter only as variables in the calculation of the chances of gain and profit. In this formal rationality, mathematimisation is carried to the point of the calculus with the real negation of life itself…”[12]

If this sounds too abstract, the white South African Member of Parliament G.F. Froneman translates it into the concrete when he says: “(within white society, Africans) are only supplying a commodity, the commodity of labour…It is labour we w importing (into the white areas) and not labourers as individuals…” [13]

Froneman went on to say that the numbers of Africans to be found in the so-called white areas therefore make no difference to the composition of Society — society with a capital S — precisely because the African is not an individual, comparable to a white individual.

Rather, he is the repository of the commodity labour power, which can and must be quantified in a profit and loss account to the point of the very “negation of life itself.” In that very real sense the African therefore belongs to the category of commodities to an equal extent as gold, diamonds and any other commodity you care to mention, to be bought and sold. hoarded and even destroyed depending exclusively on the state of the market.

The denial of the humanity of the Slav’ which occurred during the period of primitive accumulation of capital is therefore repeated here but at a higher and more rational level.

That rationality demands that to ensure maximum profit that portion of the national wealth which accrues to the black people as consume” should be kept at the barest minimum.

Consequently, the real wages of the African mined are today lower than they were in 1911. [14]. Note also the almost total absence of social security benefits for the African people. To provide these benefits would be to increase the cost of reproduction of the producer and conversely to decrease capital’s show of the national cake.

It might be argued that our thesis might begin to collapse when we tackle the question of the white worked.

Appearance would have it that in maintaining a white labour aristocracy, capital is behaving in a most irrational fashion, that capital itself has become so impregnated with racial prejudice that it cannot seek to extract maximum profit from a white worker.

Yet we must bear in mind that the capitalist class does not view itself solely as the appropriator of wealth in contradistinction to our being the producers.

The capitalist class is also heavily burdened with matters of state administration. It has taken on itself the task of ruling our country. As early as November 1899, Lord Milner had said: “The ultimate end (of British policy) is a self-governing white Community, supported by well treated and justly governed black labour from Cape Town to Zambesi (sic).” [15].

A principal pre-occupation of this self-governing community must therefore be to ensure that the “justly-treated and well-governed” do not one day rise up and transform themselves also into a self-governing community.

From the very beginning,British capital knew that it had to face this possibility and that if it fought without any allies; it would lose in such a confrontation.

The historic compromise of 1910 has therefore this significance that in granting the vanquished Boer equal political and social status with the British victor, it imposed on both the duty to defend the status quo against especially those whom that status quo defined as the dominated.

The capitalist class, to whom everything has a cash value, has never considered moral incentives as very dependable. As part of the arrangement, it therefore decided that material incentives must play a prominent part.

It consequently bought out the whole white population. It offered a price to the white workers and the Afrikaner farmers in exchange for an undertaking that they would shed their blood in defence of capital.

Both worker and farmer, like Faustus, took the devil’s offering and, like Faustus, they will have to pay on the appointed day.

The workers took the offering in monthly cash grants and reserved jobs. The farmers took their share by having black labour, including and especially prison labour directed to the farms. They also took it in the form of huge subsidies and loans to help them maintain a “civilised standard of living.”

The indebtedness of these farmers to the profit-making bourgeois in 1966 was equal to $1.25 billion, amounting to nearly 12 per cent of the gross national product.[16]

In 1947 a commission of the Dutch Reformed Church included in its report the prophetic words: “In the country, one feels dependent on God; in the towns on men, such as one’s employer.” [17]

In the struggle that marks the growing onslaught of the black producers on the society of the parasites, the white worker will have to pay for that dependence on the employer-industrialist, the white farmer for that dependence on the employer-creditor.

The God of Calvin is a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate him: the God of Capital will after all have his pound of flesh!

Engels wrote in 1895 that: “When Bismarck found himself compelled to introduce (universal) franchise as the only means of interesting the mass of the people in 0a plans, our workers immediately took it in earnest and sent August Bebel to the first constituent Reichstag. And from that day on, they have used the franchise in a way which has paid them a thousandfold and has sewed as a model to the workers of all countries. The franchise has been… transformed by them from a means of deception, which it was before, into an instrument of emancipation…And so it happened that the bourgeoisie and the government came to be much more afraid of the legal than the illegal action of the workers’ party, of the result of elections than those of rebellion.”

Engels continues: “Of course, our… comrades do not thereby, in the least renounce their right to revolution. The right to revolution is, after all, the only really ‘historical right’, the only right on which all modern states without exception rest…” [18]

Yet it came to pass that in large measure the working class of western Europe and North America did in fact for some time anyway renounce its right to revolution.

Some of the mass parties of the workers became parties of Order and Reform. And to the extent that bourgeois Law and Order was the basis on which the proletariat founded its trade unions and secured for itself higher wages, better working conditions and the right to strike, this was an inevitable outcome.

That bourgeois Law and Order also gave the proletariat the right to form its own political party and the right to install that party in power, all within the legal framework of bourgeois democracy.

In the work from which we have just quoted Engels says: “The irony of world history turns everything upside down. The Parties (of the property owning class) … are perishing under the legal conditions created by themselves. They cry despairingly…legality is the death of us; whereas we, under this legality, get firm muscles and rosy cheeks and look like life eternal… (There) is nothing left for them to do but themselves break through this fatal legality.” [19]

The condition of the black workers of South Africa, the place in society allocated to us by the capitalist class, demands that we must assert our right to revolution.

Capital in its South African mould turns things right side up again. We are perishing under the legal conditions created by the bourgeoisie whereas they, under this legality, get firm muscles and rosy cheeks and look like life eternal. We have no choice but to break down this fatal legality.

For the burden of our argument has been exactly this that in the totality of the social relations that describe the apartheid system, we have a place only and exclusively in so far as we are “the ragged trousered philanthropists” — the exploited producers. We are otherwise the outsiders, the excluded — on our own continent, in our country!

In this context, take the Bantustan programme. In its objectives stated by the creators of this policy, the black producers will have the right to be complete human beings only in these areas which have been set aside as our so-called homelands.

Otherwise, when we enter so called white South Africa, we have the following dramatis personae: “He who (is the) money-owner…strides in front as capitalist; the possessor of labour power follows as his labourer. The one with an air of importance, smirking, intent on business; the other, timid and holding back, like one who is bringing his own hide to market and has nothing to expect but — a hiding.” [20]

The Bantustan policy is therefore not a deus ex machina, a contrived and inartistic solution of a difficulty in the drama of South African life. Rather, it is but the legal codification, the pure representation in juridical form, of the centuries-old socio-economic reality of the alienation of the black producer from the society which he daily produces and reproduces.

At the level of abstraction, there are two alternatives out of this condition -available to the black workers.

One of these is to cut the umbilical cord that ties us to bourgeois South Africa, for us to cease to be producers on somebody else’s account. What would then happen?

We could then join the demi-monde of the thieves and murderers, the pimps and prostitutes and, by becoming true and complete outcasts, recast ourselves in the parasitic model of our bourgeois progenitor, outside the bounds of bourgeois legality. Such an alternative is obviously absurd.

The racist regime is on the other hand pushing us into the Bantustans. This constitutes a death sentence for thousands of our people. For South Africa’s land policy, of which the Bantustans are the historical outcome, is founded precisely on the land dispossession of the African people which ensures that hunger compels us to bang our own hides to market.

The second, and in fact, the only historically justifiable and inevitable alternative is that we cling very firmly to our position as producers, that we hoist the bourgeoisie with its own petard.

The irony of the South African situation is that exactly because capital permits us to enter the city, to pass through the sacred portals of a white church, and set foot in the even more sacred sanctuary of madame’s bedroom, but only as workers, capital thereby indicates to us daily that it is in fact our labour that makes the city to live, that gives voice to the predikant, the preacher and provides-the necessary conditions for procreation.

Since then we are, in a very real sense, the creators of society, what remains for us is to insist and ensure that that society is made in our image and that we have dominion over it.

In as much as the producer and the parasite who feeds on the producer represent antithetical forces, the one working, the other idle; the one wanting to escape the obligation of the nurse-maid and the other striving to ensure that he is for ever the fed, in as much therefore must a South Africa over which we have dominion be the antithesis of a present-day South Africa.

The Freedom Charter

That free South Africa must therefore redefine the black producer or rather, since we the people shall govern, since we shall have through our own struggle, placed ourselves in the position of makers of history and policy and no longer objects, we shall redefine our own position as follows:

we are the producers of wealth;

we produce this wealth for our own benefit to be appropriated by us the producers;

the aim of this production shall be the satisfaction, at an increasing level, of the material and spiritual needs of the people;

we shall so order the rest of society and social activity, in education and culture in the legal sphere, on military questions, in our international relations, et cetera, to conform to these goals.

In my view, this redefinition contains within it the theoretical basis of the Freedom Charter, the political programme of the African National Congress adopted in 1956.

It should be of some interest to point out that this programme was written exclusively on the basis of demands submitted by thousands upon thousands of ordinary workers, peasants, businessmen, intellectuals and other professional people, the youth and women of all nationalities of South Africa.

It is a measure of their maturity that these masses should have so clearly understood the fundamental direction of their aspirations. It is a demonstration in practice of how much the bourgeoisie, by refusing to temper its greed, did ultimately teach us to identify our true interests without any equivocation.

Whenever we stand up and say “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people…,” [21], we always meet with three different reactions.

There are those, naturally who agree with us. There are those who howl in derision: these are the white supremacists who are confident of the everlasting power of the repressive force of apartheid South Africa.

But perhaps more important, there are those, themselves the offspring of the black producers of our country together with their sympathisers, who, in anger, throw at us the epithet, traitor!

Yet this is what a free South Africa will be like. For as the masses themselves long discovered, the antithesis to white supremacy, exclusiveness and arrogance is not a black version of the same practice.

In the physical world, black might indeed be the opposite of white. But in the world of social systems, social theory and practice have as much to do with skin pigmentation as has the birth of children with the stork. To connect the two is to invent a fable with the conscious or unconscious purpose of hiding reality.

The act of negating the theory and practice of white apartheid racism, the revolutionary position, is exactly to take the issue of colour, race, national and sex differentiation out of the sphere of rational human thinking and behaviour, and thereby expose all colour, race, nation and sex prejudice as irrational.

Our own rational practical social activity, rational in the sense of being anti-racist and non-racist, constitutes such a negation; it constitutes the social impetus and guarantee of the withering away of this irrationality.

Consider the circumstances in which we might position “black capitalism” as the antithesis to “white capitalism.” Fortunately, Fanon has already warned us that one of the results of imperialist domination is that in the colonial middle class “the dynamic pioneer aspect, the characteristics of the inventor and the discoverer of new worlds which are found in all national bourgeoisies are lamentably absent.”

“In its beginnings, the national bourgeoisie of the colonial countries identifies itself with the decadence of the bourgeoisie of the west. We need not think that it is jumping ahead; it is in fact beginning at the end. It is already senile before it has come to know the petulance, the fearlessness, or the will to succeed of youth.” [22]

Thus black capitalism instead of being the antithesis is rather confirmation of parasitism with no redeeming features whatsoever, without any extenuating circumstances to excuse its existence. If you want to see a living example, go to the Transkei.

Even more, by thus expelling racism to the realm of the irrational by our own practice we would help to deny those who want to exploit and oppress others, including our very selves, the possibility of finding justification for their actions in such prejudices.

We particularly, who are the products ‘of exemplary capitalist exploitation, must remember that when German capital found opportunity, especially during the 2nd World War, to revert to primitive forms of accumulation, under the stimulation of passions the most infamous, the most sordid, the pettiest, the most meanly odious, lilt used exactly these prejudices literally to enslave and slaughter millions of people.

We must remember that the exploitation of the so-called gastarbeiter in Western Europe today is founded, in part, on contempt for their nationality: that in the United States and Northern Ireland the black and Irish worker respectively are oppressed and exploited on the basis of colour and national prejudice.

The charge of traitor might stick if we were to advance a programme of equality between black and white while there remained between these two communities the relations of exploiter and exploited.

But we have already said that our victory presupposes the abolition of parasitism and the re-integration of the idle rich as productive members of society as well as our writing off the debt of the white worker and farmer so that they can start again afresh, as equals with other producers, in law and in every other respect, without the heavy weight of blood money in their pockets and on their consciences.

The Freedom Charter itself says that “the national wealth of our country, the heritage of all South Africans, shall be restored to the people.” It also goes on to say “all the land (shall be) redivided among those who work it to banish famine and hunger.” [23]

We believe sincerely that it is only in conditions of such an equality as is underpinned by these provisions that we shall each be able to discover and unfold our true individuality, reacquire the right to be human, and thereby create the conditions for the creative realisation of the considerable talent of our people, both black and white, which today is so firmly stifled by the suffocating purposes of a small exploiting and oppressive minority.

To transcend the status of mere producer to that of human being, capital has taught us by negative example that we must guarantee ourselves the right to work and to social security, good housing and health services, education, culture, pride and joy in the multiplicity of languages and progressive national traditions among ourselves and among the people of Africa and the world.

We must therefore preface our own system of accounting with the provision that our rational calculations must serve to enlarge human life and not to negate it.

We have therefore to strive to banish war and the use or threat of force in the settlement of international disputes. We must work to abolish the use of rear against individuals and communities as an instrument of policy, and therefore uphold and fight for the right of all peoples to true self-determination, for friendship and mutually advantageous co-operation among the peoples of the world.

We are convinced that in this way we would restore our country to its rightful position in the world as a steadfast friend and ally of all who struggle for peace, democracy and social progress, and not the repugnant predator that she is today.

In 1953, one of our outstanding leaders, Nelson Mandela wrote: “To talk of democratic and constitutional means (to achieve liberation) can only have a basis in reality for those who enjoy democratic and constitutional rights…We cannot win one single victory…without overcoming a desperate resistance on the part of the Government…(Therefore) no organisation whose interests are identical with those of the toiling masses will advocate conciliation to win its demands.” [24]

This is a call to revolution. This revolution is necessary, as Marx and Engels once said: “not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew.” [25]

We have tried to covey to you our own view, as scientifically as possible, of our past, our present and our national democratic future and the organic connection between these.

Let us leave you with a few more words from Nelson Mandela: “In South Africa, where the entire population is almost split into two hostile camps…and where recent political events have made the struggle between oppressor and oppressed even more acute, there can be no middle course. The fault of the Liberals…is to attempt to strike just such a course. They believe in criticising and condemning the Government for its reactionary policies but they are afraid to identify themselves with the people and to assume the task of mobilising that social force capable of lifting the struggle to higher levels…The real question is: in the general struggle for political rights can the oppressed people count on the Liberal Party as an ally.”[26]

That question posed 25 years ago has reached a broader audience today, including this audience; can the oppressed people count on you as allies?

Footnotes


1. Karl Marx: Capital, Vol.1, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1965. p.751.

2. ibid. p.762.

3. H.J. and R.E. Simons: Class and Colour in South Africa; 1850-1950, Penguin Books, England 1969, p.11.

4. Karl Marx: op. cit. pp.752-3.

5. R.H. Tawney: Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, Mentor Books, New York, 1958, p.91.

6. ibid. p.91 ff.

7. ibid. p.84

8. Edward Roux: Time Longer than Rope, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison 1966, p.27.

9. Simons: op. cit. p.63.

10. ibid. p.82.

11. ibid. p.84.

12. Herbert Marcuse: Negations, Beacon Press, Boston, 1969. p.211.

13. Alex La Gums (Ed): Apartheid, International Publishers, New York, 1971, p.47.

14. See: Francis Wilson: Labour in the South African Gold Mines, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1972 and Hans Kramer: in Asia. Africa, Latin America, Special Issue 1. 1976, Berlin.

15. Monica Wilson and Leonard Thompson (Eds): The Oxford History of South Africa, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1971. p.330.

16. ibid. p.167.

17. ibid. p.203.

18. Frederick Engels: Introduction to Marx’s Class Struggles in France in On Historical Materialism, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1972. pp.264 & 269.

19. ibid. p.270.

20. Karl Marx: op. cit. p.176.

21. African National Congress: Forward to Freedom, Morogoro, 1969.

22. Frantz Fanon: The Wretched of the Earth, Grove Press Inc., New York. 1968. p.153.

23. African National Congress: op. cit.

24. Nelson Mandela: No Easy Walk to Freedom, Basic Books Inc., New York, 1965. p.34.

25. Marx and Engels: The German Ideology, International Publishers, New York, 1970, p.95.

26. Nelson Mandela: op. cit. p.33-34.


PIC capture is not about the Guptas alone

As I noted more than two years ago, the tapping of public sector pensions to “recapitalise” parastatals — notably Eskom — was debated and apparently approved in principle by the ANC’s economic transformation committee (ETC) in May 2015.

Since the Mbeki era, proponents of competition in a regulated wholesale electricity market have proposed a clear separation between power generation — which could be in part private — and a transmission grid available to all players. This would allow the sale of some power stations to private investors.

ETC head Enoch Godongwana instead proposed bringing “equity partners” on board without breaking up the parastatal.

Supposedly because “privatisation” is unpalatable to “the left”, this could not be done because partnerships with private pension funds are off limits as a form of “privatisation”.

In reality, of course, no private pension fund will invest in Eskom — not without fundamental changes to how it operates, which the ANC lacks the stomach to bring about.

This is the real reason why PIC (and the GEPF money it manages) have sole access to this unique investment opportunity!

It is true that a further decline in Eskom poses a catastrophic threat to the interests of the PIC’s clients and to the value of the pension and insurance policies those clients protect. (And to everything else in this country.) But throwing money at unreformed parastatals will not avert such a catastrophe.

 

The PIC has also slowly established precedents for “political investing” in companies that offer no, or vanishingly little, prospect of returns. By throwing money into marginal platinum miner Lonmin, for example, it has hinted at a future in which public-sector pension funds will be used to buy out ailing but “politically connected” companies, so dumping their environmental and labour legacies onto retired public sector workers.

Eskom is a much bigger sinkhole, of course, but PIC is already getting sucked towards it.

So is this a problem caused by the Guptas and their friends in the Zuma faction?

Not really. Most of the ETC are anti-Zuma. And one important advocate in the wider movement is the hugely influential ANC Gauteng chair Paul Mashatile, who last year went on a tour to quietly promote just this course of action. He is pretty certain to be on the Ramaphosa/Mantashe slate as treasurer general.

 

What kind of president would Ramaphosa be?

This is an excerpt from a Huffington Post piece on CR, written by Liesl Pretorius on 17 August 2017.

Who is Cyril Ramaphosa?

Professor Anthony Butler of the University of Cape Town, who wrote a biography of Cyril Ramaphosa, says he’s not sure if he “ever really got to the bottom of” who Ramaphosa is. We asked him …

1. If someone only knows Ramaphosa as deputy president, who would you say he is, based on your research for the book?

… I think when he was younger he was one of those people who had an immediate charisma and compelling effect on people around him. I think he was someone who got what he wanted and who was always charming and I think to some degree that was moderated by his genuine religious commitment when he was young. I think that religion was a very important force in his early political career until maybe some way to university or perhaps even a bit later, 1976. Ideologically since moving across that boundary between liberation theology and black consciousness after university, I think he has never really settled on any firm ideological position. So I spoke to people who were really committed Marxists including one of his close friends who worked for the Stasi in East Germany and who remained a communist after the fall of the Soviet Union … who insisted that Ramaphosa was pulling the wool over the eyes of business people and his liberal friends and that deep down he was a committed socialist. And if he was to rise to power, he would immediately move left and surprise everybody. But I also talked to business people who said exactly the opposite — that Cyril was pulling the wool over the eyes of his leftist supporters. I think his closest friends were quite conservative. Particularly James Motlatsi … his fellow creator of the mine workers’ union and I think that perhaps Cyril is in fact a conservative. And perhaps a pragmatic conservative who pushes soft social-democratic possibilities, but very cautiously.

But he’s able to speak to quite different audiences in a way that convinces them that he’s one of them …

Cyril has friends of all different kinds and he keeps them apart, so he will meet with his old friends from the University of the North on one day of the year … he’ll meet with his old white business palls and play golf with them and invite people in groups to his farm. And he will entertain quite, very different kinds of people apart from one another. And each of those different groups of people believes that Cyril is one of them or is sympathetic towards them. And he’s maintained that really over his whole life. To a degree that suggests it’s a big part of his personality — that he’s not able or willing to commit himself to any particular — not just ideological position — but any particular group of friends … What kind of person is he? He’s also quite capable of being an intimidating person but the face that he presents to the world is most usually charming and he’s effective at charming almost anybody that he wants to charm … The other thing about him is … he’s very energetic, persistent, determined, hard to stop when he sets his mind on something and unflappable …

2. If it’s hard to stop him when he puts his mind to something, why did he leave politics for business when he came up against competition?

He came up against something much bigger than that … The consultations that [former president Nelson] Mandela went through were very unlikely to favour Ramaphosa. [Thabo] Mbeki was the ascendant man in the ANC and I think Ramaphosa saw that Mandela was not going to back him. But at the same time I think he felt that he deserved it. I think he was genuinely angry, and not just Ramaphosa. There was a sentiment among people in the trade union movement that the exiles had come back, they were arrogant … and that they expected to take over … Mbeki really represented that expectation of the exiles. I think Ramaphosa and the people around him were very resentful … He is and always has been deeply ambitious. And then he was essentially told by Mandela to leave … Dr Motlana, Mandela’s physician … told me he was present at the meeting where Cyril was told to leave and he reported Mandela as saying that you’re young enough to come back in 10 years.

And you can see that one of Ramaphosa’s weaknesses was that he had a narrow power base … Also, he was very young and in some respects a newcomer to the ANC.

So, I don’t think he had much choice. He could have fought it out but he would have lost …

3. What kind of a leader do you think he would be if he is successful in the leadership race?

… I suppose we can look at the past. And it’s clear that he … is somebody who is able to sustain concentration, to negotiate for long periods of time; to operate in different spheres simultaneously. So, he [has] a lot of skills that you need to be a president. He also has … developed a sophisticated grasp of financial-legal issues … I think maybe most important is [that his experience as] a constitutional negotiator indicated that he could manage a large and sophisticated team in complex and sustained negotiations. That’s another unusual skill. People who have worked with him in business have often complained that he moves between micromanaging — the one thing that always sticks in my head is how he insisted on choosing the clothes that the staff wore on his farm — so, very minute attention to detail but at the same time … failing to be sufficiently decisive, interestingly particularly in pursuit of his own interests. He didn’t want to be seen to be pursuing his own interests … But he took some very strong decisions about how Shanduka would operate. In particular, he had an overwhelmingly black executive management team that he placed trust in. Unlike many other BEE barons whose businesses were run by white executives … So Cyril was always determined that his businesses should be black businesses and in fact that’s one of the areas in which he showed real determination that progress should be made rapidly, not just in his own business, but he believes in BEE … The other thing about him as a president, I think, is not just that he’s rich, which may help in providing insulation against temptation but he’s also … a principled person. So, I don’t think we want to exaggerate this — in that politics and business require a degree of flexibility and negotiation of ethical quandaries that don’t have simple solutions — but … he thinks too much of himself to act unethically just to make money. And he also doesn’t care … who’s his friend, I don’t think. He’s never tried to build a constituency of sycophants and he wouldn’t begin to do that. So, I think there are quite a lot of strengths. The problems I think are that at some point the decisions of presidents have to become ideological in one sense or another. If you’re going to be a successful president, you have to impart some sense of direction to your administration and it remains unclear what he believes in. So, he believes in finding solutions. A classic example is the minimum wage negotiations … He demonstrated his mastery of a certain kind of politics. Most politicians would not have been able to come out with a [solution] that was both reasonably rational but also protected his own interests quite successfully.

But on the other hand, it wouldn’t be good for the country if the whole presidency was a negotiation of that kind, because there are a large number of hard decisions that need to be taken and pushed through …

And in order to do that, you would have to have a clear idea of what your project is …

The full article is here http://projects.huffingtonpost.co.za/articles/cyril-ramaphosa-can-mr-nice-be-a-decisive-president/?utm_hp_ref=za-homepage

 

The personality of Nelson Mandela, Part 2

When WMC actually existed, Mandela saw through it and condemned it.

Nelson Mandela on Anglo American Corporation in 1953:

“The Oppenheimers sometimes presented their companies as enemies of apartheid. Ernest and Harry each served as opposition members of parliament protesting against the evils of segregation. At the same time, Anglo was at heart a mining house, whose profits were built out of the exploitation of migrant workers from across the southern African subcontinent. In reality, Anglo mines were just as cruel in their operation as those of supposedly less salubrious mining houses, serving up the same fare of tuberculosis, crippling injury and racist brutality … Nelson Mandela captured the bitterness that Anglo’s seeming hypocrisy provoked very well in this 1953 comment: ‘Rather than attempt the costly, dubious and dangerous task of crushing the non-European mass movement by force, [the Oppenheimers] would seek to divert it with fine words and promises and divide it by giving concessions and bribes to a privileged minority.’

(From Anthony Butler, Cyril Ramaphosa, 2007, p.122.)

The personality of Nelson Mandela, Part 1

There is an interesting tale that illuminates something of the character of Nelson Mandela and his close friend Mac Maharaj. Together with Cyril Ramaphosa, they were the key ANC figures in the negotiation of SA’s new constitutional settlement.

When Mac was a prisoner on Robben Island, Mandela took him under his wing and determined, in the manner of the Island, that he should be inducted into the wisdom of the ANC. Every day during a rest period, the two men would break from work in the quarry and sit down together among the rocks. Mandela would place himself on a large boulder, and Maharaj would occupy a far smaller rock nearby. The older man would talk about his philosophy of politics and offer up his famous homespun wisdom, advising Maharaj, for example, that the Afrikaner is best talked to in Afrikaans – only if you learn his language will he listen to what you have to say.

Mac eventually tired of sitting always on the smaller stone. One day, when the time came for them to break from work, he ran as fast as he could to their meeting place and planted himself on the larger boulder. A few minutes later Mandela arrived, only to find Mac sitting in his place. He observed the small rock, his face quite expressionless. With an almost imperceptible turning of his head, he scanned the area for another place to sit. Without comment, he then walked over to where Maharaj was sitting, and stood over him. He began to talk in the normal way and remained on his feet for the whole session. The next day, a resigned Mac took up his usual place on the smaller stone.

(From Anthony Butler, Cyril Ramaphosa, 2007).

Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, 1949

ACT

To prohibit marriages between Europeans and non-Europeans, and to provide for matters incidental thereto.

________________________________________

(English text signed by the Governor-General.)

(Assented to 1st July, 1949.)

________________________________________

BE IT ENACTED by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, the Senate and the House of Assembly of the Union of South Africa, as follows:―

1. (1) As from the date of commencement of this Act a marriage between a European and a non-European may not be solemnized, and any such marriage solemnized in contravention of the provisions of this section shall be void and of no effect: Provided that— (a) any such marriage shall be deemed to be valid, if— (i) it has been solemnized in good faith by a marriage officer, and neither of the parties concerned, or any other person in collusion with one or the other of them, has made any false statement relating to the said marriage amounting to a contravention of section four; and (ii) any party to such marriage professing to be a European or a non-European, as the case may be, is in appearance obviously what he professes to be, or is able to show, in the case of a party professing to be a European, that he habitually consorts with Europeans as a European, or in the case of a party professing to be a non-European, that he habitually consorts with non-Europeans as a non-European; (b) where any such marriage has been solemnized in good faith by a marriage officer, any children born or conceived of such marriage before it has been declared by a competent court to be invalid, shall be deemed to be legitimate. (2) If any male person who is domiciled in the Union enters into a marriage outside the Union which cannot be solemnized in the Union in terms of sub-section (1), then such marriage shall be void and of no effect in the Union.

2. Any marriage officer who knowingly performs a marriage ceremony between a European and a non-European shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds.

3. Any person who is in appearance obviously a European or a non-European, as the case may be, shall for the purposes of this Act be deemed to be such, unless and until the contrary is proved.

4. Any person who makes a false statement to a marriage officer, relating to the question whether any party seeking to have his marriage solemnized by such marriage officer is a European or a non-European, knowing such statement to be false, shall be guilty of an offence and liable to the penalties prescribed by law for the crime of perjury.

5. This Act shall be called the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, 1949.

Tradition and the Top 6

What is this strange thing called the “top six” of the ANC? An historical accident of relatively recent creation, it is not mentioned at all in the movement’s constitution.

For most of the ANC’s history, there have been at most three key national positions: president, treasurer and secretary-general.

The deputy presidency was introduced only in 1958 as part of an exercise in ethnic, regional and generational rebalancing. Two years later, after the banning of the ANC, the exile movement was run by its deputy president, OR Tambo. While Tambo also became “acting president” in 1967, he retained the office of deputy president until 1985, when a still incarcerated Nelson Mandela was “elected” to this position.

The prominent position of secretary-general has changed just as much over the years. Walter Sisulu and Tambo held the office in succession in the 1950s before later ascending to the deputy presidency and presidency, respectively.

In 1991, Cyril Ramaphosa defeated both the incumbent Alfred Nzo, and Jacob Zuma, for the position. Kgalema Motlanthe and then Gwede Mantashe succeeded him, creating a new “tradition”: an unbroken succession of former National Union of Mineworkers leaders in the post. The position of national chairman was created only in 1991. The office has no obvious function other than as a parking space for those with long-term ambitions, but it nonetheless carries prestige and expresses “seniority”.

The treasurer-general post has become more important as “donations” have become the lifeblood of a spendthrift movement. Incumbents Mathews Phosa and Zweli Mkhize have had a higher profile, and greater ambition, than their predecessors.

Can the past of the top six tell us anything about the likely future of the current incumbents? Under Mandela, the presidency rose in status, in part because of the exile movement’s elaboration of a “Mandela myth”. The linkage of the position to the state presidency thereafter allowed the incumbent to combine state and party mechanisms of control. This means all eyes are now on this big prize.

The deputy presidency, by contrast, is important primarily as an ostensible stepping stone to the presidency. Thabo Mbeki followed this route, becoming ANC deputy president in 1994 and ANC president in 1997. But Mandela arguably only succeeded to the presidency in 1991 because Tambo was ill.

Walter Sisulu, the deputy elected in 1991, did not go on to become president. He was elevated to the position to stop a battle between the real contenders for presidential power: Mbeki and Chris Hani.

Jacob Zuma was probably elected deputy only because Mbeki believed he could destroy him before he could rise to the very top. Zuma may have made the same fatal misjudgment when he selected his deputy, Ramaphosa, at the Mangaung conference in 2012.

If Ramaphosa seizes the presidency in December, the “stepping stone” status of the deputy presidency will become firmly established.

Little wonder, then, that Mpumalanga chairman David Mabuza and NEC grandee Lindiwe Sisulu, among others, are fiercely jostling for this position: they hope it will take them to the very pinnacle of power five or 10 years hence.

Scrupulous historians will argue that none of this can ever prove the obvious falsehood that the deputy president of the ANC always rises to the presidency, or that such a trajectory is “an ANC tradition”. At the current historical conjuncture, however, the history of the ANC is far easier to change than its future.

• Butler teaches public policy at the University of Cape Town.

A year later, part 2: My response to Dr Lushaba’s “open letter”

I responded to Dr Lushaba’s letter on 10 September 2016. Dr Lushaba’s letter has since been posted on the Internet but my reply has not. I am therefore posting it here for reference purposes. It addresses some of the inaccurate claims made by Dr Lushaba in his open letter about the composition of the student body, the curriculum, and employment equity, as well as requesting that Dr Lushaba correct a fabricated quotation.

Anthony Butler

7 September 2017

 

 

10 September 2016

Dear Dr Lushaba

I have decided to respond briefly to your ‘open letter’. Some of the issues you touch on will have to be dealt with collectively in our department meetings. Others can only be discussed in a meeting between the two of us. However, there are several matters of interpretation and clarification that I would like to address, in order to limit confusion on the part of our students, potential applicants, and other external stakeholders.

Curriculum issues

The Department of Political Studies started introducing a new and integrated undergraduate Major in Politics and Governance in January 2016, in place of the three previous Majors in Politics, International Relations, and Public Policy and Administration. All new students admitted since January 2016 now follow the new Major. This was the result of decisions taken during a departmental review in 2014, which identified several weaknesses with the existing Majors.

This Major includes a new emphasis on African and South African Politics. Our first year courses, and POL2038F Comparative Politics, have always drawn heavily on African cases, and this continues to be true. In 2017, we will introduce POL2043S South African Politics. (In the past, SA Politics was only available to a minority of our students taking the old Politics Major.)

In the third year, alongside POL3029F Politics of Africa and the Global South, we are introducing POL3046S South African Political Thought. POL3030F Conflict in World Politics draws heavily on African materials. POL3037F Policy and Administration and POL3038S Urban Politics and Administration focus on governance issues in South Africa.

There is also a new focus on African and South African politics at postgraduate level. Starting in January 2017, the Honours programme in Politics will change its structure. It was previously centred on the discipline of Political Science (as practiced in North America) with a compulsory course, POL4012F, in Comparative Politics.

In January 2016, I proposed the creation of a new programme in African Politics. However, a working group, comprising Dr Thiven Reddy, Dr Zwelethu Jolobe, Dr Lauren Paremoer and Dr Lwazi Lushaba, recommended against this option on a variety of grounds, and in favour of a reorientation of the existing Politics programme.

Early in 2016, the Faculty’s Graduate Programmes Committee approved the addition of a new alternate core course, POL4050S Contemporary Debates in African Politics, to the politics programme. As you know, the course was designed by — and will be taught by – Dr Lwazi Lushaba. You indicated that it would include the following themes:

  • Macro Approaches to the Study of Modern African Politics
  • Colonialism in Africa: An Epoch or an Episode
  • The Post-Colonial State: Its Character and Problems
  • Nationalism(s) and Postcolonial Transformation
  • Politics of Economic Reform (SAP) in the 80’s and 90’s
  • Civil Society and Democratization Debates
  • Ethnic Plurality and the Federal Solution in Africa
  • Contested Citizenship and National Cohesion in Africa
  • Africa in the Modern Ideological Sciences of Man
  • Methodological Questions for the Study of African Politics

At Master’s level, students on the Politics programme will still be encouraged to take courses in data analysis but these will no longer be compulsory. This reflects our commitment to a wide range of approaches to the study of political phenomena. Students will be encouraged to take courses in Global Political Thought (convenor Dr Thiven Reddy), Comparative Politics (convenor Dr Zwelethu Jolobe) and South African Politics (convenor Prof Anthony Butler), among others.

Our other programmes, in IR, transformative justice, and public policy, increasingly have an African and/or South African focus. In International Relations Honours, for example, one key element of the core course is the study of African innovations in IR theory. Our public policy programmes focus on key policy challenges in SA. I am not able to comment in a fully informed way about all of these fields: for further information about our specializations, potential applicants should contact the programme convenors:

  • Politics programmes: Dr Thiven Reddy
  • International Relations programmes: A/Prof John Akokpari
  • Justice and Transformation programmes: Dr Helen Scanlon
  • Public Policy and Administration programmes: Dr Vinothan Naidoo

The overall postgraduate convenor is Dr Zwelethu Jolobe.

Employment equity

Although change in academic departments is sometimes slow, our department has been undergoing quite rapid generational change. One welcome outcome of this process has been the increasing representation of black South Africans and women among the academic staff. We fully expect this trend to continue and we are very active in searching for the best candidates to fill our vacancies while also advancing employment equity.

Staff Employment Equity Profile (2017-)

Full time academic staff (gender)

Male 8
Female 5

Full time academic staff (employment equity category)

Black 3
Col 1
Indian 2
White 4
Other** 3

**Non-SA citizens: 1 from Ghana, 2 from the UK

Postgraduate Recruitment

One response to your letter has been some concern that the department does not encourage applications from black South Africans. The Department collects data on the self-attributed race of the South African citizens admitted to our postgraduate programmes. This data is used for planning purposes and for monitoring the impact of our admissions policies. There has been a significant increase in the number of our postgraduate students who are Black South Africans in recent years, especially at Honours level. We are committed to making further progress in this direction, and especially at Master’s and PhD levels.

Equity category Level of enrolment 2016 Number of students
Black Hons 16
  Master’s 5
  Total Black 21
Coloured Hons 4
  Master’s 9
  Total Coloured 13
Indian Hons 1
  Master’s 2
  Total Indian 3
White Hons 13
  Master’s 10
  Total White 23
Undeclared* Hons 6
Master’s 7
Total Undeclared 13

*The category “undeclared” includes students who did not identify a racial group.

Earlier this year we established a plan further to increase the numbers of Black, Coloured and Indian students at Master’s as well as at Honours level, and to ensure that they thrive in our programmes. All staff members will this year participate in admission decisions in the programmes in which they teach. They will work together to identify students with potential and to support them once they are admitted.

Departmental governance

You identified in your letter what you believe is an unsatisfactory governance system in the Department, and an undemocratic leadership style on the part of the Head of Department. There may well be merit in these claims, although I believe HoDs face more constraints – budgetary, administrative, and legal — than their colleagues often realize.

As you know, my three-year term as HoD comes to an end in December 2016, and I am not putting my name forward for a second term. As I said when I took up the position in 2014, a three-year term is more than long enough for any incumbent. The process for deciding upon a new Head of Department is built upon consultation and consensus and it will undertaken by the faculty in the normal way.

The appointment of a new HoD will, I am sure, bring fresh energy, ideas, and leadership. It will also provide an excellent opportunity for the Department to discuss together how decisions should be taken under the new Head of Department and how the longer term strategic priorities of the department should be collectively identified and realized.

Requested correction

There is one passage in your open letter where I would like to ask for a correction.

In my email to you, I stated that, “I have received complaints from students and parents who believed the POL1005S lecture on 15 August was ‘disrupted’. They were confused about the purpose of the proceedings. They were uncertain about the educational value of the singing.”

You transcribed this as follows:

“[T]he HoD claims in his letter to be writing me because he had received complaints from ‘students and parents who believed the POL 1005S lecture on 15 August was “disrupted”’. They were confused about the purpose of the proceedings. They were uncertain about the educational value of the singing and stomping of feet (italics mine)’.”

I am not concerned here with how this error (the insertion of “stomping of feet (italics mine)” entered your narrative. However, the invention makes me deeply uneasy and I would be grateful if you could correct it in any versions of your letter posted on the Internet.

Towards the future

I know we all have the interests of our students at heart and I believe the Department as a whole has an immensely promising future. It is great privilege to spend time with such talented colleagues, and I am sure that we will all continue to work well together in the years ahead.

Yours sincerely

Prof Anthony Butler

Head of the Department of the Political Studies

UCT

10 September 2016

 

 

 

 

 

A year later: an open letter from Dr Lwazi Lushaba to Anthony Butler

This is the content of an open letter to me from Dr Lwazi Lushaba a year ago, on 30 August 2016.

 

Who am I? I am of those whose skin colour is evidence of their moral depravity, cultural decrepitly, and sexual permissiveness. I am of those on whose brown bodies modern rational knowledge has inscribed marks of inferiority, intellectual incapability and lack in all its forms. An Open letter to Professor Anthony Butler: HOD Politics Department.

In the afternoon of the 24th August 2016, the HoD of Politics at UCT addressed to me a letter, whose contents we shall in a moment discourse about. He opens the letter with the following salutation; Dear Lwazi. He could as well have written; Dear Dr. Lwazi Lushaba. It would not have made any difference. For, I cannot say with certainty what I, in his modern imaginary, represent. Accordingly, I have permitted myself the liberty of leading him to the abyss wherein dwells the shattered fragments of my being so he may recognise me for what and who I am. I am of those whose skin colour makes them objects of scorn and disregard. I am one with the black children of Masiphumelele, Imizamo Yethu, Gugulethu, and other black slums who with their tender bare black bodies play all day long in stagnant pools of discarded bathing water, urine, menstrual blood, vomit of drunken black souls, and perhaps discharge from a backyard abortion performed on a body too young to bear life. I am one with those in this country who grow up certain that success is destined to elude them because they are black. For us it remains dark even though the day should have started.

We are of a race that has no knowledge to offer modern South Africa. Our forms of cognising, modes of being-in-the-world, our weltanschauungen cannot be admitted to credence. They fall outside the bounds of modern disciplinary knowledges. More precisely our forms of knowledge are incomprehensible to the ideological sciences of man. Because we epitomise unreason and irrationality and perhaps all things in-human for centuries our physical presence in institutions of knowledge production like UCT was decreed undesirable by whiteness. As such today we find ourselves in institutions of higher learning whose material, cultural, aesthetic, symbolic and intellectual production are pointed in a direction away from us. Worse still we bear the burden of calling these – ‘our institutions’ – while fully aware that these institutions despise us. It matters not that we give all our productive lives as black people cleaning them, cleaning their toilets, securing them, serving them coffee and tending to their gardens – their hatred of black people remains firm.

Because all those who are black in this country make it possible for me to say ‘I am’, my success as an individual black person means nothing when they continue to be excluded from post-graduate studies at UCT, when they continue to wallow in poverty and ignorance, when their souls remain crushed under the weight of whiteness. Until they succeed until we succeed together only then can I claim to be successful. For I have no possibility of attaining any form of self-consciousness and self-recognition away from them. The white world cannot offer me recognition – in fact it cannot recognise me – for as Fanon tells us the ontology of a black person is impossible in the modern necessarily racist world. I must then always when you see me be who black people are. In that way you shall know me for who I am. I am of those who because of their race were denied access to universities in the land of their birth. I am of those who precisely because of centuries of exclusion are today condescendingly described as lazy, incapable of successfully pursuing post-graduate studies. The monstrosity of the pain we as black people in this land have been made to go through by white people impels me to weep, every time I reminisce about it. Pain even when it is past, leaves the same marks on the individual when recalled, tell us that Senegalese savant Miriama Ba. I shall now consider myself, those who make my being possible, and those who can lay claim neither to dignity nor honour knowable even if as fleeting and evanescent.

For the benefit of the reader, I shall now summarise what happened in the said lecture of the 15th August 2016, which supposedly triggered the HoD’s letter to me. In the week prior to the 15th I had diligently taken students through the compound thematic of colonialism, coloniality and decolonisation. Later in the week of the 15th I was to take students through Political Culture and Political Socialisation. I had reasoned, in my black mind that one of the defining features of South Africa’s political culture is the culture of protest. So in order to breathe life to these themes, viz. culture of political protest and decolonisation, I decided to invite #RMF activists to class. They enlightened us through political songs of protest and in turn gave political speeches on the how #RMF begun, on what decolonising the university means to/for them, mapped for us how the protest last year unfolded, told us of their experience of state violence, criminalisation and suspension by the university. These were not secondary accounts from a lecturer who has never been part of the historic student protest at UCT. Rather they came from key #RMF dramatis personae. I found them revealing – of course I also encountered new struggle songs, which revealed a complex that was at once of political meaning making as well as making of a collective black political subject of emancipation. The activists were nothing but walking archives of the struggle to both Africanise and decolonise knowledge in a supposedly South African university in 2015. Their speeches made vivid their genuine love for themselves, for black people and for the country. History at an appropriate moment shall thank them most profoundly for their selflessness and sacred love for the land. It bears stating that, I had earlier been approached by Anthropology students taking my course for assistance regarding a task they had. They had been asked to write a project on the #RMF. One cannot say how beneficial that class was to them – only they can. I do however remain convinced that I had in no small measure contributed to making their process of learning far more enlightening – if not exciting.

I have been long. Accordingly, I plead for the reader’s indulgence as I now turn to the HoD’s letter whose essence can be summed in the three following claims. Firstly, the letters opens by asserting that the HoD is writing ‘as promised in follow up to our conversation…’ Since we are both enlightened enough, I implore the HoD to be candid and earnest enough to acknowledge that there was never a conversation between us. He called me into his office – like he had done on the 6th of June 2016, when he behind a closed door threatened to write me off from my first year teaching responsibilities – to instil in me fear of whiteness, fear of his bureaucratic and/or Occidental Authority. In any conversation two human beings exchange views and ideas and where they disagree grope towards a workable arrangement. On that occasion, as it was on the 6th of June, I did not see two colleagues, one senior another junior, conversing as people who both have views that equally matter. What I saw was Prospero communing with Caliban. But we must not be astounded by this turn of events for we had learnt long ago from Chabani Manganyi that blacks and whites in South Africa “talk down and up to each other…what seems to do the talking in the white person is the master and what does the responding in the black man is the servant. In practical terms this has meant that white people always experience themselves as communicating instructions…the black person has tended to communicate an apology not for any conceivable palpable reason. One instructs, the other apologises”. I had admittedly become accustomed to this behaviour in departmental meetings where every of my suggestions and viewpoints are rudely and dismissively suppressed by the HoD using his position as chair.

Secondly, the HoD claims in his letter to be writing me because he had received complaints from “students and parents who believed the POL 1005S lecture on 15 August was ‘disrupted’. They were confused about the purpose of the proceedings. They were uncertain about the educational value of the singing and stomping of feet” (italics mine). There are a few points to ponder here. For the students concerned wouldn’t it have made sense for them to ask their lecturer who was present in class throughout what exactly was happening? As for the so-called parents, I challenge the HOD to bring to a departmental meeting evidence of parents indeed complaining about what a lecturer employed by the university had decided to be an appropriate learning material for the day. At that point, we shall be sure to inquire whether parents of all races have the same access to the HOD. Do all parents of all races and social status, parents from Makhaza, e Cofimvamba, e Ngangelizwe, eMfuleni, etc., also get to contact the HOD and express their feelings? When does it become necessary to balance the views of those white parents privileged enough to live in the same white suburbs and belong to the same social circles with the HOD against those of black parents who lack the necessary cultural capital to interact with a white HOD, at that moment we dare not fail to ask the question.

Earlier, I made the point that our forms of cognising, our modes of being, our cultures, our songs, and our heritage as black people do not constitute knowledge. They are bereft of any educational value – they disrupt learning. Such is true that even those who do not know our struggle songs of protest can conclude on their meaninglessness. Because they are songs of black people, the culturally decrepit they hold no educational value.

Thirdly, the HoD insinuates that in the lecture of the 15th August, I was involved in political mobilisation rather than lecturing. And therefore did not perform my duties as expected. Why did he not ask me what I was doing rather than reach a predetermined conclusion? I may be an object of anthropological curiosity but surely after five degrees, I can speak for myself. But there is a larger issue at play here and for it to become comprehensible, I want to re-read very closely the last line of the said letter; “Please feel free to consult the convenor or me in future if you need to talk through what might or might not be appropriate in a lecture”. Re-reading this, I concluded that, I must be a super qualified field Negro or garden boy who unsure of his competencies, at every turn runs to the Master’s office, hands clasped together and dirty cap crumpled in those hands, to seek approval for every method to be used in tending to the plants in the Master’s garden.

But here is the larger and more fundamental question I want to foreground; when and for whom does the university preserve autonomy for deciding what is the appropriate material for the classroom? Have we not heard, one too many times, universities when called upon by government to transform their curriculum, respond by asserting that the classroom material is to be determined solely by those appointed to teach? Academic freedom, institutional and classroom autonomy are signposts under which this argument is made. One then suspects, if this particular case is to be an indicator that it is only when white lecturers are concerned that classroom autonomy is considered sacrosanct. The right to decide what material and how that material is to be taught, I have long thought belongs to all those who teach in South African universities black and white. The HoD may wish to tell me that I have for long laboured under an illusion!

When the university employed me, I assumed that it had confidence in my exceptional teaching abilities, including an ability to decipher what constitutes an appropriate material for the classroom. If however the department employed me as a diversity candidate, who brings nothing else but his skin colour so that transformation requirements may be met, it omitted to make that clear to me. The consequence of that elision is that, I on the other hand, took it as my responsibility to the country to bring into the classroom not just my skin colour but new knowledges hitherto not part of the learning experience, new unconventional forms of teaching which do not exteriorise knowledge from the knower. Decolonised teaching – if you wish. And for that, students in the said course POL1005S have unequivocally expressed their excitement and appreciation. I offered to them with the earnestness of heart, with every sense of commitment and responsibility a learning experience that will remain etched in their memories for years to come – they tell me. May I, then like all other academics, despite my being a young black lecturer in a white institution be trusted to have the requisite emotional and intellectual maturity called for in a learning environment? If that is allowed, it will mean that, I have the autonomy to decide what to teach and how to teach it. The political naivety on my part for which I am ready to bear full responsibility is not to have anticipated the question; could decolonising knowledge and decolonised teaching hope for automatic approval from a university (and those who preserve its institutional culture) whose institutional culture is colonial?

Hopefully the reader has been patient enough for we needed to get this far for us to rid the HOD’s letter of its verisimilitude. Read carefully the letter styles itself into a warning letter. However once its bureaucratic pretences are unmasked the letter it becomes transparently obvious is intended to weaken my resolve, to defeat my spirit, to whip me into line – to instil in me fear of whiteness – Occidental Authority if you prefer. It is intended to make manifest the insidious power of whiteness – ultimately to silence me. When read against the backdrop of the encounter of the 6th of June 2016, the dismissive suppression of every viewpoint I volunteer at departmental meetings, it is meant to implant in me like repeated abuse does in a victim of domestic violence, self-doubt. Could there be something wrong with my views, my intellectual orientation and perhaps offending with my political mien that warrants the bullying – I am expected to question myself? Could the victimization be warranted? Or could it be of my own invitation? These subtle manoeuvres it is hoped will in the ultimate erode my self-confidence, it is hoped that by these tactics, I shall be corralled to submission. As such the HoD’s letter must be considered for what it is; an affront, an attempt to bully me in my own country. But together with and alongside other self-respecting blacks, I long came to a conclusion that I can no longer keep the silence. I owe it to myself, to fellow black people and to the country to speak out against anti-black racism. Duty and responsibility calls me forth as a citizen of the land to speak in its defence. Consequences be damned!!! To be black in the Politics Department at UCT is already a heavy burden. I can no longer carry it alone in silence. Why you may ask – because racism of the worst kind prevails in the department. I have no other word to characterise the following state of affairs – about which I have refused to keep quiet. Consider this for reality in a country that has been independent for over twenty years – in a country where black people constitute 86% of the population. Between, 2010-2014, the department has graduated only two (2) black South Africans at MA level. In the year 2015, 97% of black applicants were denied entrance to the Masters programme. In the year 2016, 64% of black applicants were denied admission into the Masters programme. In 2016, 67% of these black South African applicants were from UCT itself. To-date there is not a single black South African enrolled for a Masters degree in the department.

Thus the real impetus for the letter of warning from the HoD is not the lecture of the 15th August. It lies elsewhere – in my disagreement with him at departmental meetings about the above state of affairs. A fact he has refused to reconcile himself to, is that for me raising with every sense of firmness my discomfiture about this state of affairs does constitute performance. Rather it is an act responsibility and service to my country. Responsibility calls on those of us who love the land, those of us who love ourselves and love fellow black people to have audacity to insist on a department and an institution that does not despise black success.

A related question I have been raising at departmental meetings, that is the source of my problems is the following; if UCT is not producing the next generation of black South African academics – who will or who bears the responsibility to? Institutions that are sustained through the public purse, like UCT, ought not they to respond to obvious societal exigencies – one of which is the lack of black South African intellectuals. Or has this exclusion become a way of carving out the task of thinking and intellectual production as an exclusive white preserve? So each time an academic appointment is to be made we hear white voices in unison proclaim – there are no black South Africans applying!!! What these voices conveniently sidestep is a corollary question; where are these academics to come from? South Africa as a consequence is a country with twenty three universities but in twenty two years of independence has failed to train just fifty black South African political scientists – a number just enough to teach in these institutions!!! What a country!!!!

I ask at this instance fellow black academics to ponder with me the following question: if we as black South Africans continue to be absent or to be exceptions in these departments, who will write about us as they know us? Who will write our history – the history of the land? Who will write the story of Hintsa? Who will teach university students how to write stories and literary works in our indigenous languages? Who will undertake the necessary and creative task of thinking from our cultures? Better put who will transform our cultures into a legitimate philosophical locus of enunciation? Who will write about the black miners we lost in Marikana, not as the working class but as black people whose crime was to be black in a country that is anti-black. Who will write a befitting biography of Brenda Fasie, of Mkabayi ka Jama, of Mgcineni ‘mambush’ Noki? Who will teach about the writings of Don Mattera. Who write about the gumboots dance black miners perform(ed) each time they come to the surface from twelve hours of entombment, in order to re-humanise themselves? Who will analyse not from a western philosophical locus the cultural and political repertoire in the songs of Bra Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa, Victor Ntoni, Zim Ngqawana, Mankunku Ngozi, Ringo Madlingozi, Stompie Mavi, etc. Who will write the social and cultural histories of our clans? Who will teach about the politics, life and times of Gerard Sekoto? Who will write about our cultural practices not as anthropological curiosities, not as anachronisms or unvanquished remnants of the past erupting on to the continuing present of progress?

I am inclined at this juncture to ask; who then should society call to account between myself and a white HoD who has presided over this racist exclusion of black people (and their knowledges) in their own country? Surely it has to be me because we live in a country where injustice seems less disturbing to the public conscience when suffered by black people.

The second key source of tension between myself and the HoD is about the kind of intellectual citizens we are called upon to produce. Formulated into a question the challenge is: what is the responsibility of political science in a recently decolonised country? Coming face to face with the question; what is the ethical responsibility of political science will I have argued elsewhere allow the discipline acknowledge its complicity in the dehumanisation of black people in South Africa. It will allow the discipline attend to the modernist sensibilities that led practitioners in the field to justify apartheid as a democracy of one form or the other. Perhaps it will also allow the discipline ask what is the life of these sensibilities today?

Proceeding from the above the department can then attend to the corollary question of whether its responsibility is to produce bourgeois social science professionals armed with disciplinary qualifications and with an a historical, presentist, technicist and hence anti-intellectual orientation as a bonus. Surely these professional social scientists sell in the liberal market. However that does not negate the question; are these qualified professional social scientists sufficiently equipped to help society reason through and resolve the many problems that afflict black communities and the country at large? The answer has to be an emphatic NO! The education we offer to them does not have value in and of itself. The value of the education we offer to them is realisable only as a commodity, which enables them in turn consume other commodities. In simpler language professionalization of political studies at UCT is the bane of the problem. It is precisely this professionalization that enables the Political Science dept at UCT to sit comfortably with a curriculum that allows students to go through the discipline from first year right up to M.A. level without a course on the Politics of Gender, Race/Racism, without a course on the Politics of Difference. University of Cape Town is an African university – I suppose – but it does not offer a single course in African Politics at an undergrad level. That is why we produce students who are ‘highly qualified’ but know nothing about their continent. Is this not a clear statement about which knowledges matter?

These in earnest are reasons for my disagreement with the HoD. The warning letter does not make sense outside of these. I should not consider them insurmountable. There is nothing so startling that it cannot be faced by human beings. But it will require that there be a realisation by the HoD and white academics generally that individual success does not make sense to us black academics if those from whom we have emerge cannot from kwa Dukuza (la kwafela khona Inkosi u Shaka), kwa Ndokwenza, e Giyani, e Madadeni, kwa Nongoma, e Gcuwa, e Ngcobo, e Alexander, e Dipsloot, e Thembisa, e Lusikisiki, e Bizana, walk into the politics department with ease and make a success of their lives – be appointed tutors and teaching assistants like the white students who fly in from other climes or glide in, in their cars from the white suburbs of Cape Town.

As I rest my pen allow me to make clear the following:

– One to resolve this disagreement is a matter not for law because if we are not to delegitimize law, we should exempt it from the need to give an opinion on problems in which so many political considerations are at issue.

– Two, departmental meetings in Political Studies must cease being choreographed non-events where like a British overlord the HoD comes to make his announcements for a good part of the hour and then non-issues like who has to go to Spar to buy milk and coffee for the department are discussed at length. When serious issues about post-grad admissions, course/teaching allocations, VZS visiting scholars, etc are to be discussed and decisions taken about them we are then told the hour allotted to the meeting has run out. This has institutionalised a culture in the department where crucial decisions are not democratically arrived at in departmental meetings but made behind the closed door of the HOD’s office.

– Three, to resolve this impasse I suggest the department holds a public debate and/or closed workshop facilitated by a reputable scholar so the department may emerge from it with a roadmap agreed upon by all, which will allow it become a department of political studies in South Africa that mirrors society and is conscious of the responsibilities it owes to those who sustain it with their taxes.

– Four, I wish to declare unequivocally that in so far as the HoD’s letter is meant to bully me in my own country it means nothing to me. Further, I declare for those who still possess in them conscientious minds that I have done nothing wrong but instead have been and will continue to be of service to my country driven by my unconditional love for black people.

Lwazi Siyabonga Lushaba, PhD.

‘I am sure of Allah’s favour on us’