Friday, 4 April 2014

The people are not part of the political process

Ayanda Kota, Mail & Guardian

Elections should be a season of hope. Steve Biko declared that our fight was for an open society, a society in which the colour of a person's skin would not be a point of reference or departure, a society in which each person has one vote.

We have the vote, but the political parties do not represent the aspirations of the people. Millions of black people remain poor and oppressed. When we organise outside of the ANC we are violently repressed.

This election is not a season of hope. It is a season of deception, slander, gutter politics and lies. There are campaigns to encourage our people, and in particular young people, to vote. We are being told every day that voting is the way to express our hopes and to build a better society. Politicians are leaving the comfort of their fortresses and frequenting our townships. They all say that they are disgusted that we are still living below the poverty line in squalid conditions, with no water and electricity.

Those who claim to be so disgusted with how the people are living include the same ones that have been stealing from the people. There is the Nkandla chief who has made his own family rich while the rest of us remain poor. There is also Malema who dismantled a house of R4-million to build a mansion of R16-million.

Another feature of our politics is that it has become about messiahs. John Block tells us that walking with Zuma is like walking next to God. According to Andile Mngxitama, Julius Malema has become Mao'lema. Helen Zille has been given the name Nobantu (people's person).

In the Black Consciousness Movement we read a lot. Some of us started as teenagers. We read Frantz Fanon's warning about leaders who send the oppressed to their caves and tell them to leave politics to the professionals or the messiahs. We understood clearly that a radical politics is a democratic politics and that a democratic politics is one in which the oppressed participate in all decision-making.

The media also reduce us to spectators of politics rather than participants. We are reduced to those who must clap hands and cheer for our "leaders". At times the noise is so loud you can hardly hear them.

We are in the struggle to kill the idea that one kind of person is superior to another kind of person. But we also want to abolish the idea that politics is about choosing between Zuma, Zille and Malema.

The formation of the Black Consciousness Movement in this country was a realisation by black people that we could no longer stand and be spectators of the game we are supposed to be playing. This election season continues to demonstrate the relevance of Biko's teachings.

We are expected to cheer the politicians and the BEE millionaires as they play the game. If we want to play the game ourselves we end up like Andries Tatane, the Marikana martyrs or Nkululeko Gwala and Nqobile Nzuza of Cato Crest.

Today our generation has to encourage people not to accept the hardships that they are facing. We have to find a way to organise to confront oppression. Black consciousness is not about supporting one corrupt messiah against another corrupt one. It is about taking a side with the people.

After the murders of Tatane, the Marikana miners, Gwala and Nzuza, it is immoral to vote for Zuma. After Nkandla it is immoral to vote for Zuma. After Blikkiesdorp and Hangberg it is immoral to vote for Zille. After Malema and his friends plundered the ANC Youth League, the Limpopo government and the National Youth Development Agency, it is immoral to vote for him too.

Both the ANC and the DA are proponents of the kind of crony capitalism that always makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. They are both proponents of the youth wage subsidy, which is a false solution to unemployment. We need a subsidy for the people, not for capital.

The Economic Freedom Fighters say that they will nationalise the mines. But no one in their right mind can trust Malema to run the mines for the people.

We have to ask ourselves why we now have the vote but there is no one to vote for. Maybe the reason is that the political parties are all funded by elites and so they all work for elites. We need to change this system. All parties should receive the same funding from the state, and there should be no secret and private funding.

Elections should be an opportunity for the people to choose their representatives from among themselves. What we have today is a system whereby we can only choose which group of rich people, working for the big capitalists, we want to rule us.