Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Trauma of a raped body: the agony that lingers on

Though she doesn't walk around with"Right Of Access Reserved" sign, 36 year-old Nozuko had always thought she held 100% ownership to her precious body. Though she didn't have a house or vehicle to her name, she was convinced she was a sole owner to her body until one fateful Friday evening when she was accosted by two armed men while walking home after 10 hours of manual labour from the factory where she works. One of the men pointed her with a gun and dragged her into the back seat of the double-cab bakkie.

The bakkie sped off too quickly for anyone to hear her cry for help. She was driven 15km outside the city and in her plea fro mercy, Nozuko offered the abductors R400 cash and a smart-phone she had in her purse. The two men were not ready to bargain for anything- it was her body they wanted.

For the first time in 36 years strangers had taken ownership of Nozuko's body. She suffered bruises to her face, neck, back and wrists while desperately trying to fight off the men who ultimately over-powered her. The thought of imminent death crossed her mind and the mother of two immediately gave up the fight. Her body suddenly became an open buffet for two strangers who laid her bare in the back seat of a double-cab bakkie. They each took three turns raping her while drinking a thick dark liquid at intervals.

After the three hour ordeal, the men drove away leaving Nozuko in the veld with her body bruised, bleeding and violated. She gathered strength to drag her battered body to the high-way and started hitch-hiking. A woman driver noticed a woman with torn clothes and gave her a lift. She drove Nozuko to the nearest police station where she gave account of the violence her body went through.

After giving account of the violence meted out to her, her body was again taken over by another batch of strangers in blue uniform. Nozuko's body had suddenly become a crime scene. Five counts of crime had been committed on her body namely Pointing Of Firearm, Kidnapping, Assault GBH, Indecent Assault and Rape. A police docket was opened and case number issued for body.

Nozuko had to take off her clothes for a police photographer to take pictures of her bruised body. She wasn't allowed to wipe blood stains off her body to avoid tampering with evidence. She had to open her legs to a strange medical practitioner wearing latex gloves. The medical practitioner inserted fingers in her vagina feeling for foreign particles and took semen samples for laboratory tests. A male investigating officer told Nozuko to avail her body for further investigation and evidence gathering should a need arise.

As if the trauma wasn't already unbearable, another stranger prescribed a 28 days post-exposure prophylaxis treatment to prevent possible HIV infection. She was told which disinfectant liquid to apply to her body. The precious body Nozuko used to share intimately with her husband Vusi had become a public entity.

When the matter finally went to court, Nozuko's body became a subject of public discourse. Leading media outlets and social media reported about the level of violence she endured. Her body was a matter of judicial rigmarole between the prosecution and defense. Legal-Aid appointed an attorney with Nozuko's tax money to represent the same rapists who had devoured her body.

Nozuko is a devoted Christian who grew up considering her body as a temple of God. The married wife found herself at religious cross-roads. She was no longer sure if her body remained God's temple or had been expropriated by the devil. In a court-room chock-a-block with strangers, a male prosecutor flaunted pictures of Nozuko's battered body as exhibit 1,2 &3. The defense attorney tried to establish if Nozuko wasn't a willing participant in the sex-orgy with men she had never met before.

The attorney paid with her tax money enquired if she had swallowed semen of the 2nd accused who had ejaculated into her mouth. At this stage Nozuko went through flashbacks of that fateful Friday night. She begrudgingly told the court how her body went into a state of shock after she was subjected to six rounds of dry sex in three hours - something she had never experienced in her nine years of marriage. Her body went numb when she locked eyes with her husband sitting in the front row of public gallery. Then the sound of her agonizing scream suddenly reverberated throughout the courtroom.

To Nozuko, it's immaterial if the rapists are sentenced to 18 years or not. What matters is that she will continue to feed these two perverts with her tax money for the duration of their incarceration at Leeuwkop prison.They will go through a series of rehabilitation programmes and be eligible for parole after faking good behaviour in prison. For this law abiding and tax-paying citizen - panic has become a recurring theme of her life whenever she sees two men walking or driving together.

Nozuko's ordeal begs a cocktail of questions: what recourse will her body have after suffering such a harrowing violence? Will her body get "parole" from stigma and public humiliation? Will the tax man give Nozuko a tax rebate to compensate her injuries sustained? While jurists argue about what is in the best interest of justice, do they even bother asking what is in the best interest of her body? While rapists are sentenced to 18 years each, will Nozuko's lingering agony also vanish after 18 years? Will 18 years sentence make her forget the nausea she felt when a stranger ejaculated into her mouth?

From where Nozuko stands - there can never be a befitting justice for the violence her body went through. No custodial sentence will restore her bedroom intimacy with her husband Vusi. No degree of trauma counselling will stop those morning gossips at Bree taxi rank whenever people see her. Nozuko is the reason women should think twice before crying rape just to settle a score or extort money from men. Rape is the worst form of violence against a woman's body - it's a subliminal life sentence against a woman's body.

No woman derives masochistic delight from rape.It's a worst form of violence which no woman can wear as a badge of honour. If men can't pamper women's bodies - at least let them not hurt them.For many Nozuko's out there, the best way to protect women from the ordeal of rape, is for men to zip up and not rape at all. #TheTotalShutdown

Friday, 15 June 2018

June 16 uprising: the missing woman's face

Since that cold Wednesday morning on June 16,1976 the retrospective analysis around this epoch-making day had always adopted a patriarchal posture despite women's conspicuous presence in the protest. Names such as Tsietsi Mashini, Hector Pieterson, Mbuyisa Makhubu and Khotso Seatlholo have become indelibly synonymous with this day. Direct and extended role played by women like Sibongile Mkhabela, Sophie Tema, and Winnie Mandela has not been adequately chronicled to provide a balanced view.

Students under the auspices of Soweto Students Representative Council (SSRC) had embarked on a protest march against imposition of Afrikaans language as medium of instruction. The enforcer of this language policy was Deputy Minister of Bantu Administration & Education Andries Treurnicht who later became President of Conservative Party.

On that fateful day, multitudes of peaceful students marched from schools like Morris Isaacson and Naledi High en route to Orlando Stadium. They were intercepted by police who opened fire on them leaving many injured and 176 was the official figure of those who died. Many more were arrested while others went into exile.

As Thomas Sankara said " Women hold up the other half of the sky," I shall therefore give the well-deserved prominence to the role played by women in 16 June 1976. First on my radar is Sibongile Mkhabela who was a student at Naledi High and the only female executive member in SSRC. She was also Secretary General of South African Students Movement who at one stage sat around the same political table with Black Consciousness Movement leader Steve Biko.

She was a well-percolated leader who took the bull by the horns. She was the only female who stood trial for sedition in what was called Soweto 11. She was found guilty and sentenced to three years imprisonment at  Robben Island of female political prisoners (Kroonstad prison). Mkhabela is currently CEO of Nelson Mandela Children's fund and a recipient of the National Order of Luthuli. She's testament that women were not just cosmetic paraphernalia to 1976 student uprising.

Baby Penelope Tyawa was a rebellious female student who marched and threw stones at the police on June 16, 1976. She went on to become a founding member of Congress Of South African Students and her activism led to her prolonged detention at John Vorster Square and Protea police station. In her adult life, Tyawa got appointed as Acting Secretary of South African Parliament.

Another woman who cannot be confined to the periphery of 16 June narrative is former Rand Daily Mail reporter Sophie Tema who had gone to Soweto to cover students' protest march. She's the woman who risked torture and detention when she assumed  the role of a paramedic by ordering her driver to stop the car and take injured Hector Pieterson to Phefeni clinic. Pieterson had been shot by police at corner of Moema and Vilakazi streets in Orlando West. Tema allowed Mbuyisa Makhubu, Pieterson and his sister into the her official Volkswagen beetle en route to the clinic. She abandoned her official duty and ran on foot to the clinic where Pietrson was certified dead on arrival. Tema went on to become one of the pioneer journalists for City Press Newspaper.

Antoinette Sithole, a sister to Hector Pieterson is the female student dressed in a dungaree seen running alongside to Makhubu carrying her injured brother in the iconic picture taken by Sam Nzima. She too was not just a cheerleader to the uprising - she was an activist in her own right. The discourse around the iconic June 16 picture is fixated on Makhubu running with injured Pieterson in his arms. It's as if Sithole photo-bombed the picture when in fact she was there as part of stone throwing brigade that resisted Afrikaans. Sithole now works at Hector Pieterson museum.

Mamphela Ramphele's role can never be trivialised in perpertuity. This is a woman who smuggled banned literature to student leaders like Mashinini and Seatlholo thereby propelling their revolutionary consciosness to a higher-voltage which culminated in a revolt against Afrikaans.She was subsequently detained under Section 10 of Terrorism Act and later banished to Tickeyline village in Tzaneen. In 2000 she was one of the four Managing Directors at World Bank. In 2013, Ramphele established a political party called Agang SA and was a presidential candidate in South Africa's 2014 general election.

16 June archive can never be comprehensive until a face of a gallant woman is annexed to it. Winnie Mandela is the woman whose face provides a texture of feminine temerity to a series of events that unfolded during the uprising. She literally pulled arrested students out of police Khwela-khwelas in an act of brazen defiance. She saved many students who could have otherwise "jumped" from 10th floor of John Vorster Square police station. In collaboration with Dr Nthato Motlana, she established Soweto Parents Association for parents whose children were injured, imprisoned or killed. Winnie ensured safe exit out of South Africa for students who sought military training in exile.

She was the social worker who counselled parents and students through traumatic experiences of the day. A year later, apartheid government banished her to Brandfort where she served eight years under house arrest. Winnie later became President of ruling ANC's Women's league.

This is but a synopsis of women who held the sharp end of the dagger during 16 June 1976 uprising. There are still many women whose stories of bravery have not been documented. There are mothers who opened their doors to students who were chased around by apartheid police and female nurses who saved lives of injured students. Like Sankara, I can hear the roar of women's silence in an endeavour to reclaim their rightful stake in June 16 narrative.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Winnie Mandela: the untold story

She's a mother who never got to raise her own two daughters, but went on to raise the whole nation. She's a freedom fighter who was vilified by the very freedom she fought for. She's the one who raised her right fist against apartheid lethal machinery and shouted Amandla!! She's the fearless woman who spoke truth to power, both to her foes and peers with the same oomph. She's Nomzamo Winnifred Zanyiwe Madikizela-Mandela.

This is an opinion piece that seeks to tell the untold story of MaNgutshana as she was affectionately known to her clan. This is a conscious decision to immortalise this larger than life icon. It is my assertion that Winnie Mandela continues to live amongst us in differents facets. She hasn't died - she has multiplied.

Born in 1936 in Bizana (Pondoland) to Madikizela family, Nomzamo qualified as the first black social worker in 1955 and worked at Africa's largest Baragwanath hospital. Her first shot at romance was with Barney Sampson. She was offered scholarship to advance her studies in USA, but declined the offer choosing to remain in Soweto with her people. To MaNgutshana, solidarity with down-trodden black masses took priority over self-aggrandisement.

Soon after her marriage with anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela, she was incarcerated in solitary confinement while pregnant and was subjected to most inhumane treatment. When her husband was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island in 1964, she was not broken - she remained resolute and took her resistance against apartheid regime to a higher voltage. She endured persistent imprisonment, torture and character assassination. While Nelson was moaning for long trousers at Robben Island, Winnie was eating insect infected food at Johanesburg No.4 prison.

This is a woman for whom privacy was a rare privilege. Security branch members constantly barged into her bedroom in the middle of the night, dragging her to a van in her pyjamas leaving her two young daughters unattended. In 1973 Winnie met a banned comrade and photographer Peter Magubane and was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment at Kroonstad female prison (Free State) where she served six months only.

After the epoch-making Soweto uprising in 1976 of which she was a catalyst, she established Soweto Parents Association with Dr Nthato Motlana for parents whose children were imprisoned, injured and exiled. In 1977 Zenani and Zinziswa's mother was banished to a dusty Free State town of Brandfort 50km north of apartheid government's Judicial capital Bloemfontein. Just before her arrival at house No. 802, the police spread the word that the house was going to be occupied by a dangerous terrorist woman and advised locals not to make contact with her.

Winnie arrived in Brandfort and became the first black woman who drove a Volkswagen Beetle. She confronted white store owner of the only clothing store to allow black patrons to use same fitting rooms as their white counterparts. She took cognisance of the graphic poverty the locals were living under and helped them establish a clinic, orphan and juvenile care-centre and a creche. These are things government couldn't provide to black township dwellers.

While under house arrest, Winnie continued to command Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) underground operatives and smuggle new recruits into exile. Despite being under the radar of security surveillance, she continued to receive armaments from international fraternal organisations and waged war against white racists regime. She and her daughter Zinziswa continued to participate in the activities of Operation Hunger established by Drs Selma Browde and Nthato Motlana to advance the welfare of poor black masses. Needless to say, Operation Hunger was a precursor to the current SASSA that provides for 17million vulnerable members of society.

Thomas Sankara must have had Winnie in mind when he said "The revolution and women's liberation go together. We do not talk of women's emancipation as an act of charity or out of surge of human compassion. It is a basic necessity for the revolution to triumph. Women hold up the other half of the sky."

She dissuaded her husband Nelson against conceding to an early release in 1982 with the proviso that he would be banished to rural Transkei. Upon lifting of Brandfort banishment order in 1986, Winnie returned to Orlando West (Soweto) and established Mandela Football Club which was to operate as MK's clandestine unit reinforcing the underground network. PW Botha's administration infiltrated the football club and rendered it a spy network working against her.

Chief spy Jerry Richardson masquerading as soccer coach slaughtered 14 year-old activist from Parys Stompie Seipei and pinned his murder on Winnie. Consequently, the mass democratic movement under the banner of UDF led by Murphy Morobe, Vali Moosa, Popo Molefe and Terror Lekota distanced itself from the liberation icon. These were her own comrades who had bought into the toxic narrative that Winnie was a murderer.

In mid 80s apartheid regime recognised her unparalleled radicalism and orchestrated a vilification campaign against Winnie to paint a portrait of her as immoral and barbaric. When men and women had run away to New York, London and Moscow the unrelenting Winnie stayed put and literally went face-to-face with apartheid regime. When it was illegal to declare support for a banned ANC, she was the only living soul who defied the regime and did the opposite.

In February 1990 when Nelson was released from prison, she immediately implored Transkei military ruler General Bantu Holomisa to arrange security personnel for the anti-apartheid activist. "Bantu we can't leave uTata's protection into the hands of security agents paid by the enemy" she said. When Codesa negotiations began Winnie advised Nelson to exercise caution as Boers had a tendency to negotiate mala fide and pleaded with him not to trust them.

The world must be told  that as comrades made exodus to suburbs and her estranged husband relocated to a leafy suburb of Houghton, Winnie remained grounded in Orlando West amongst her people. "I can't bear the thought of waking up next to the enemy, " she retorted. In March 1995 Winnie was fired from her position as Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture hardly ten months into office. Yes, she was fired by the same President she helped put into power. She was fired by the same man who woke up to beacon and egg breakfast at Victor Verster prison while she was carrying liberation struggle on her shoulders.

Let the world be told that at the height of the revolution and while Winnie was comforting families of 47 people massacred in Boipatong, her husband accompanied the enemy FW De Klerk to Norway to receive Noble Peace Prize. This is the same woman whose house was bombed in Brandfort in 1985 and another one bombed in Soweto in 1988, yet some she called comrades expected her to be romantic with a vicious regime.

Winnie was  summoned to appear before Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997 a few weeks before she was to contest ANC Deputy Presidency at Mafikeng conference in December. She was vilified in full view of the world and political careerists didn't want to associate with her. Her own comrade Sydney Mufamadi who was police minister, had asked former apartheid Police Commissioner George Fivaz to re-open murder case against Winnie and dig any possible dirt on her. Winnie's own comrades were using state apparatus to annihilate her and ultimately erase her legacy from the face of history.

Winnie was conferred Honorary Life-time Presidency of Cosas by then President Lebogang Maile. She stood in loco parentis for former ANCYL President when the latter was harassed by Disciplinary Committee led by Derek Hanekom acting on instruction from Gwede Mantashe and Jacob Zuma. She offered Malema a shoulder to cry on, but today the same people who persecuted Malema are the ones extending olive branch to him.

Despite South Africa having 26 universities, Winnie only received Honorary PhD from Nigerian university and Makerere university in Uganda. While women like Helen Joseph, Rachel Simons and Ruth Mompati were bestowed the highest ANC honour of Isithwalandwe, Winnie was deliberately left out. She was a victim of apartheid persecution and ANC conservative patriarchy.

When Nelson was in prison, she took care of his ailing mother until she passed away. Sadly, when her former husband passed away she was denied inheritance of the Qunu family home built on her own land. Winnie was an ardent Methodist church worshiper who only married once - ironically to a man who got married three times. Yes she was no Angel, neither was she a villain. She was a freedom fighter who got a raw deal.

The world must know that Winnie Mandela was a microcosm of black liberation struggle. Our tribulations are indelibly etched on her back. She was a metaphorical expression of an injured lioness that got up to defend her own cubs and continued the fight nonetheless. She was the first black female President we were robbed of.  She was the greatest female revolutionary Africa had ever seen. She was the biblical Moses who never enjoyed the milk and honey she had ushered. In her belly resided fire, her eyes sparkled with love and her voice inspired hope for land expropriation
Aaah!! Nobandla.

Friday, 6 April 2018

No traces of fascism in Malema's character

"South African political arena has gone through an explosion of volcanic proportions with the advent of a new unorthodox player called Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)." This is how most political analysts described EFF led by Commander-In-Chief Julius Malema in 2013. Some went further to describe EFF as a game-changer extraordinare.

Throughout his political activism, Malema was described by peers and foes alike as the rabble-rouser. This is the character he consistently manifested during his time as Cosas and ANC Youth League President respectively.

In a bizzare turn of events, political analysts and journalists started labeling Malema as a fascist leader presiding over a political party that smacks of fascism. The labeling came soon after Malema had tabled a motion of land expropriation without compensation in parliament in January 2018. He went further to announce EFF's intention to table motion of no confidence against Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip.

This is the same Trollip who is chairperson of Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal Council which rejected EFF's land expropriation motion. The political stalemate between DA and EFF led to Julius Malema's re-branding as a "fascist" who thrives under monocracy.

In light of the above, I shall laconically re-trace etymological meaning and prominence of fascism and juxtapose it to Malema's characterisation as a fascist leader and determine if indeed the shoe fits him.

Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler

Interestingly, fascism is not an African concept. It's an ideology that emanates from Italy under Benito Mussolini who founded Partio Nazionale Fascista in 1921 and later perfected by Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. The basic tenets of fascism include inter alia, total control by government, conservative nationalism, suppression of democracy, reliance on war to attain global power and elimination of all opposition.

Needless to say Mussolini and Hitler are the world's most notorious fascits. Mussolini out-lawed labour strikes and eliminated all forms of opposition during his rule in Italy through a hit-squard called Black Shirts. On the other hand, the Fuhrer intensified censorship of the press and dissemination of information through Propaganda minister Josef Goebbels. He promulgated the German nation as Die Herrenvolk (Superior race) that ruled over inferior races.

Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe

By virtue of Malema's Africannes, those analysts who wouldn't want to be viewed as racists, found it prudent to compare the Seshego born rabble-rouser to two of Africa's notorious dictators Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe. In the course of their analysis, others went further to modify Malema's labeling as a street-wise "neo-fascist." Idi Amin was Ugandan dictator who usurped power through a military coup. After severance of diplomatic relations between Uganda and Britain in 1977, Amin  gave himself "CBE" (Conqueror of British Empire) title. The dictator further conferred Law PhD unto himself from Makerere university. Under Amin's reign of terror, more than 100 000 people were killed.

In their unrelenting crusade to re-brand leader of the red beret ground forces as anti-white and neo-fascist, political commentators caricatured EFF's Commander-In-Chief  as a young version of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. This is the same Mugabe who entered into an unholy pact with former oppressors and signed 1979 Lancaster Agreement in which he committed never to fiddle with land ownership patterns for first ten years of Zimbabwean independence.

Mugabe ordered wholesale land grabs in 1997 in which white farmers were violently dispossessed of their land through the use of machetes. In 2005 he introduced Operation Murambatsvina in which 700 000 urban residents were violently displaced. Mugabe stood idle when his wife Grace interfered with internal politics of ZANU-PF rendering the party chaotic.

Incoherent comparisons

After meticulous perusal of comparisons above, I'm pleased to announce that the revered political analysts got their analytical wires crossed when it came to Malema's characterisation and labeling.In contrast to Mussolini, Malema can safely be classified as the champion of the working class given the role he played in the aftermath of 2012 Marikana massacre in which 34 mineworkers were killed by the police. The man affectionately known as Juju, intervened in many cases of abused labourers and has always advocated for the right to strike.

Unlike Hitler who ordered the Holocaust in Nazi Germany in which 6million Jews were murdered between 1941 and 1945 and Mugabe who ordered 1983 Gukurahundi in which 20 000 Matebele civilians were massacred, EFF's Commander-In-Chief has never called for anyone to be killed. Contrary to Mugabe's modus operandi, Malema has called for land expropriation through a constitutional provision which includes public hearings. He has never allowed his wife Mantwa to meddle into the party's affairs.

At variance with Amin, Malema obtained an undergraduate degree from Unisa and is currently studying towards his Masters at Wits University. Malema didn't ascend to power by force - he was democratically elected the party's leader and bestowed the title Commander-In-Chief by EFF membership.

Who is Julius Malema?

Julius Malema is a political interlocutor South Africa never anticipated. He is one who thrives on speaking truth to power. He's a charismatic leader whose voice finds resonance in the hearts of those who linger in the periphery of mainstream economy.

He is a constitutionalist whose party took former President Jacob Zuma to highest court in the land compelling him to pay back R7.8m he unduly benefited from taxpayers subsequent to security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead. Juju subscribes to prescripts of constitutional accountability, hence EFF went to court to enforce powers of Public Protector's office as a Chapter 9 institution.

Malema's EFF Student Command boasts 13 Presidents in higher education institutions who were democratically elected by would-be academics. While Mugabe took 17 years before implementing land reforms in Zimbabwe, Malema displayed strength of character by tabling motion of land expropriation without compensation in February 2018 and persuading majority of parties to support his motion through superior logic. He was rather inspired by pragmatism, as opposed to populism when he pushed for realization of EFF's first cardinal pillar which centres around land expropriation. EFF leader is not Mugabe's young version - he won't kowtow to dictates of former oppressor on how and when should the land be reclaimed.

In 2015 Commander-In-Chief led red beret forces to deliver a memorandum to Johannesburg Stock Exchange in protest against white monopoly capital. Malema never instigated for genocide of white JSE CEOs. Juju's call for Trollip to be removed from mayorship did not harbour racist undertones. In 2016 Malema encouraged EFF councillors to vote for a white DA mayor Michael Holenstein in Mogale City. Malema is not a black supremacist, neither is he a neo-fascist. He doesn't go around brandishing Nazi Swastika like some white South African farmers. Malema is all for media freedom - he's always available for media interviews.

Contrary to Mussolini, Hitler and Amin, Commander-In-Chief believes in opposition politics. His party is an official opposition in Limpopo and North-west provinces. If he was a power-preneur as portrayed by commentators, he could have been an Executive Mayor either in Tshwane or Johannesburg. He cannot be characterised as a racist or dictator. He is subject to consensus decision making in Braamfontein, therefore an assertion that a European system like fascism could be perfected by someone from Seshego Zone:1, doesn't fall within the realm of logical probabilities.

Malema is a sui generis political leader in whose veins chutzpah flows with relative ease. He is one who doesn't conform to vanilla-flavoured South African politics. In conclusion, it gives me great pleasure to report that Juju doesn't possess attributes that shape a dictator or a fascist leader. Let it be documented that no discernible traces of fascism could be found in Malema's  political character. Juju is redress of historical land ownership patterns personified.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Liberation history distorted to favour tame ANC

It is often said that history is a subjective matter
that is viewed through the lens of the author. This is particularly true about how history has been written to caricature African National Congress (ANC) as a militant liberation movement which forced apartheid government into a corner and heralded the liberation of the oppressed masses signed and sealed.

In this opinion piece, I will not attempt to re-write history, but chronicle some epoch-making events undertaken by Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), its military wing Poqo (Apla) and gallant leaders like Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, Jafta Masemola, and Zephania Mothopeng.

History as we know it has sought to trivialise the role played by PAC in South African liberation struggle and relegate Poqo's guerrilla warfare to echelons of obscurity. It's a known fact that PAC broke away from ANC in 1959 after accusing the latter of selling out on the land question subsequent to the adoption of Freedom Charter in 1955.

The Africanist bloc within ANC ranks which included Robert Sobukwe,Peter Molotsi,Zephania Mothopeng and Elliot Mfaxa were at variance with Freedom Charter's preamble which declared "South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white." PAC entered into the anti-apartheid activism with a Pan Africanist ideology propelled by radical political pragmatism as opposed to ANC's champagne activism.

At the epicentre of the revolution in 1960, ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli was awarded Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent stance against white supremacy. Paradoxically, apartheid parliament enacted a special " Sobukwe Clause" in 1963 to prolong PAC President's solitary incarceration on Robben Island. Undoubtedly, Luthuli had established himself as an innocuous activist against apartheid while the regime considered Sobukwe as persona non grata.

On March 21 1960, hardly a year after its establishment PAC conducted anti-pass protests around the country which gained momentum in Sharpeville where 69 protestors were brutally killed by the police. On that fateful day, Robert Sobukwe had marched from his home in Mofolo to Orlando police station without carrying a pass-book and dared the police to arrest him.

Not to be out-shined, Nelson Mandela burnt his pass-book seven days later in the comfort of his house and invited journalists to capture the moment. At its December conference in 1946, ANC had resolved to embark on a rigorous anti-pass campaign and call for abolition of pass laws. On the other hand, hardly a year into existence PAC launched a watershed anti-pass campaign in March 1960.

Sobukwe had invited ANC to join the march but, Luthuli declined the invitation saying the march was ill-prepared and would therefore fail. By implication, ANC was still not ready to implement a resolution it had adopted 14 years earlier.

After two years of existence, PAC established a military wing called Poqo, later Azanian People's Liberation Army (Apla) in September 1961. ANC only followed with formation of Umkhonto Wesizwe (MK) three months after Poqo's formation. It's worth noting that ANC only established a military wing 49 years into existence.

While MK was still a fledgelling idea, Poqo had already executed few attacks against apartheid establishments including Paarl police station. Between 1962-1968 there were more Poqo combatants sent to the gallows than MK cadres.

Contrary to popular belief, PAC members Jafta Masemola, Phillemon Tefu, John Nkosi and Ike Mthimunye were the first political prisoners sentenced to life on Robben Island in 1962, not ANC's Rivonia Trialists who were sentenced in 1964. Jafta Kgalabi Masemola was the longest serving prisoner on Robben Island, not Nelson Mandela as history purports.

Another historical omission is the fact that Mothopeng was elected PAC President by Central Committee in Tanzania in 1986 while serving a treason sentence on Robben Island. This is the risk ANC couldn't take with Mandela while still serving prison sentence. What history does not highlight is that it was PAC which had the youngest political prisoner on Robben Island.

PAC's student organisation (Pasma) member Dikgang Moseneke was sentenced to 15 years on the island when he was a 15 year-old learner doing Std8. Towards late 80s and early 90s, Apla ground forces under stewardship of Victor Gqweta nom de guerre Sabelo Phama carried more lethal attacks against apartheid establishments than their Umkhonto Wesizwe counterparts.

Apla still has a plethora of its combatants languishing in prison while MK cadres are cabinet ministers and tenderpreneurs. History doesn't tell us that when Nelson Mandela had already committed to negotiating with Nationalist Party President FW De Klerk, PAC President Zephania Mothopeng refused to recognise De Klerk's administration as legitimate. In the run-up to 1994 deemocratic election PAC's  campaign message was " Land first, All shall follow" while ANC  said "Better life for all."

One day when history is captured accurately, we shall know that Nelson Mandela was not the longest serving political prisoner, but it was PAC's Kenny Motsamai followed by Jafta Masemola.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

ANCWL : a cosmetic face of patriarchy

Marching downtown Pretoria in 1956, 20 000 women from all walks of life armed with their pass-books, chanted Wathinda Abafazi, wathind' imbokodo, uzakufa wena Strijdom (You strike a woman, you strike a rock-you will die Strijdom).

Those were domestic workers, farm labourers and factory workers who converged under the auspices of Federation of South African Women in a protest march to Union Buildings to present a petition to Prime Minister JG Strijdom.

Conspicuous by their presence were African National Congress Women's League (ANCWL) members like Albertina Sisulu, Amina Cachalia, Bertha Gxowa and Caroline Motsoaledi.

Back then, women from within ANC ranks had one another's back and would stand in solidarity with others  across the country whenever any form of injustice was dispensed to the voiceless and vulnerable women.

They were united by common tribulations of marginalisation, victimisation and empoverishment that defined the course of women in the 1950s leading up to 1990s. That platoon of gallant women was metaphorically called imbokodos(grinding rocks) for their unrelenting resolve in the face of terror and patriarchy.

Sadly the same cannot be said about the current crop of ANCWL members. They have mastered the art of selective solidarity in matters that involve injustice against women. The post-democratic ANCWL members are patriarchs masquerading  in a black skirt with a green blouse. A case in point was when former Deputy President Jacob Zuma was facing rape charges against Fezeka "Khwezi" Khuzwayo.

A league that purports to champion women's interests, shunned the victim and stood in solidarity with a male perpetrator. Khwezi who grew up within ANC structures, was vilified by the same platoon of women that was supposed to offer a shoulder to cry on. Instead of a comforting mother's touch, Khwezi was pejoratively tormented by death threats. The modern-day mbokodos chose a patriarch over one of their own. Poor Khwezi was tossed and shoved around while a patriarch giggled "hee..he..he."

When Minister of Performance and Evaluation in the office of the President, Jeff Radebe admitted to soliciting nude pictures from junior female staff member at Union Buidings, ANCWL opted for silence in the midst of public consternation. They never even bothered to find out how the staff member's state of mind was. The patriarch was cocooned against public outcry and that was all that mattered.

ANC women cheered on when patriarchy vilified the only female Public Protector South Africa had ever seen. Thuli Madonsela was affronted and her life threatened while ANCWL opted for silence in the face of vilification against a woman. The same league that should have provided refuge for Public Protector, gave her a cold shoulder instead.

In the recent ANC National Policy Conference, ANCWL beefed up their delegation with six men because men are very analytical while women are too emotional as ANCWL President Bathabile Dlamini alluded. This is all the more proof that ANCWL is a breeding ground for patriarchy. Consistent with their patriarchal posture - women's league supports Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for ANC Presidency. This is the same woman who was married to current ANC and South African President who happens to be the worst patriarch who commands Union Buildings.

They advisedly ostracised Baleka Mbete who is the highest ranking female member at Luthuli House as ANC National Chairperson. Mbete is the same woman who acted as Acting President when former President Thabo Mbeki was unceremoniously re-called from office in 2008. She holds a record of having served as Speaker of Parliament under Mbeki and Zuma respectively.

Like true patriarchs in a black skirt with a green blouse, ANCWL vouched for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who commands close proximity to patriarchy (Jacob Zuma).

In a bizzare turn of events, ANCWL came out guns blazing in solidarity with Higher- Education Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana who was caught on camera assaulting women at a night-club. Contrary to class of 1956 that marched to Union Buildings in exasperation, Dlamini and her acolytes never called for Manana's expulsion form public office.

The pseudo mbokodos blamed the female victims for provoking the "Honourable Member" and said Manana didn't do anything out of the ordinary. I am therefore justified to assert that ANCWL is impervious to harrowing cries of rape victims. They are never turbo-charged to stand by victims of gender-based violence.

ANCWL is an elite stokvel of women who get handsomely rewarded for keeping women's cries on silent-mode.Theirs is to give a cosmetic face to patriarchy while women and young girls are scarred for life. It's therefore my conclusion that Bathabile Dlamini is not a feminist - she is a microcosm of everything that doesn't make sense at Luthuli House, a cosmetic proxy of patriarchy in a black skirt.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

We've been sold freedom without benefits

27 April 1994 was characterised by euphoria of black people in long queues to cast their votes for the first time. They had been disenfranchised for all their lives and were exhilarated by the realisation of the principle of " One man, one vote."

 It was at this time that Sarafina's hit song "Freedom is coming tomorrow" found resonance in black townships.

Little did they know they were queuing up for a product with factory fault - freedom without benefits. Nithi sixole kanjani (how are we supposed to find peace) when our freedom begins and ends at the ballot box?

As South Africa celebrates April as freedom month - let me say without any measure of ambiguity that freedom is not liberation. I hold an iconoclastic view that South Africa is a "society" of free classified individuals therefore, not a liberated nation.

Suffice it to say, the freedom that dawned on 27 April 1994 was only academic. It was devoid of benefits as it failed to free the oppressed masses from the malaise of hunger, landlessness and unemployment. Econo-political matrix of the new dispensation failed to give freedom a discernible expression in the lives of mine workers, shack dwellers and farm labourers.

Nithi sixole kanjani when sate employees don't qualify for mortgage bonds and are not illegible for state subsidised houses?

From 1994 ANC has concocted a cocktail of economic policies that failed to radically transform lives of ordinary South Africans. First there was Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) which was aborted in 1996 with the advent of Growth Employment And Redistribution. In 2005 we were introduced to Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGISA) which made way for New Growth Plan (NGP) in 2010.

Then came National Development Plan (NDP) amid much fanfare in 2013. Looking from a black man's eye view, however majestic these policies were, they were never realistic. They fell short of incubating emerging township entrepreneurs into full-scale industrialists. RDP failed to reconstruct the spatial patterns so as to herald black people into economic heartlands. Black masses are still condemned to the periphery of the economy in sync with tectonics of apartheid spatial planning.

GEAR also failed to redistribute state land into the hands of people for industrialisation, agagrarian economy and urbanisation. On the other hand, ASGISA could not accelerate growth of township economy and massive introduction of black women into mainstream economy. Considering all these chronicled failures to build an inclusive growth conducive for capital flow and cash fluidity, I have a feeling NDP is also on the high-way to nowhere.

23 years later, black people are still recipients of freedom without benefits. The freedom that Robert Sobukwe and Chris Hani went to prison and died for respectively, still doesn't allow for free higher-education. The same freedom that Ruth Mompati was exiled for, doesn't make free sanitary towels part of the education system to keep a girl child at school.

Nithi sixole kanjani when a destitute woman who cast her vote in 1994 is now a mother to a 23 year-old unemployed graduate? How are we supposed to find peace when the ruling ANC is oblivious to Amilcar Cabral's clarion call "Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, things in anyone's head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better  and in peace, to see their lives go forward to guarantee the future of their children."

The trivial gains of South African freedom are not commensurate with sacrifices made to attain it. People didn't fight for the right to vote, yet still go to bed hungry. They didn't fight against unfair labour practice only to be leased out to abusive employers in the name of outsourcing. The ability to shout " Viva Mandela" without being arrested is not freedom. For past 23 years we've been at the receiving end of liberal reform packaged as freedom. Nithi sixole kanjani when the economy of Africa's most industrialised country is in the hands of the minority while the majority are mere spectators?