THE issue of nationalisation of mines and taking back of land without compensation has been the subject of bickering and political points-scoring. Current leaders from the opposition (DA and Freedom Front Plus), aligned organisations (Cosatu and SACP) and ruling party component (ANC Youth League) have been on each other’s cases for what some call failure of courage, while some are accusing others of populism and opportunism.
The current state of affairs (unemployment, poverty, lack of quality education and collapsing healthcare) that we find ourselves in tells us, the ordinary South Africans, that the timing cannot be better than now. The issues of mineral resources and land ownership are some of the most critical to any struggle for freedom and self determination of any nation, this is a fact.
Some of us grew up listening to politicians like Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Zephania Mothopeng, Govan Mbeki and many other respected leaders of our revolution. The two issues of nationalisation and land restitution have always been at the forefront of the agenda for freedom and economic emancipation.
During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s in the political classes we attended, these two issues were always emphasised as critical to freedom and economic emancipation. In ANC, PAC, Azapo and SACP political documents and policies you find these two issues regarded as critical.
The question that comes to my mind now after having followed the current bickering is: when did things change after we got political freedom? The last time I remember the issue of land and mineral resources was at the core of even the world renowned ANC political document, The Freedom Charter.
ANCYL president Julius Malema has pronounced on these issues on behalf of the ANCYL as part of their conference resolution. In Polokwane, the ANC pronounced on these issues as part of their resolutions.
The PAC had long pronounced on these issues in many of its conference resolutions. The SACP too has pronounced on these issues.
Now that it is being raised again by the ANCYL, it becomes a problem and panic buttons are pushed from all corners. The first people to press the panic buttons are those who have benefitted and continue to benefit from the land and economic armed robbery by the Bothas, Malans, Verwoerds and De Klerks of that time.
The most surprising, if not shocking is the fact that you even hear the panic buttons pressed within the leadership of the alliance, ANC, SACP and Cosatu.
This issue does not need a political scientist or a professor of philosophy to understand. People came from wherever they came from, massacred our forefathers, took the land and ownership of mineral resources, and subjected our forefathers to institutionalised slavery in mines and on farms.
Who is fooling who here? Here is a simple example: you take my house with force, then when I want to take it back you start panicking and saying I am a demagogue and a populist.
It is as simple as that. The fact that you decided to paint, extend or renovate my house during the time you called it yours is not my problem – we did not agree for you to take it in the first place.
What is being raised by the ANCYL is spot on – please note that I am saying ANCYL not Malema.
The question we are supposed to ask or start dealing with is: how do we implement this bold resolution, because it is inevitable? We need to look at issues that led to failure of the process of nationalisation and the taking back of land in other countries, and learn from those, while we design the process to suit the South African context.
We want what belongs to us back, what is so bad about that?
The ANC and the SACP as a vanguard for the poor and the working class with Cosatu must start serious discussions with the Youth League on how to implement these two issues. We do not need a bickering or political points-scoring on an issue as important as this one.
What they must always remember is they do not have all the time in the world to do it.
To those who are panicking because the five farms their forefathers left them or the diamond and gold they have been digging from stolen mines will soon be taken away, I am sorry – this is the reality they need to start accepting.
I challenge those within the ANC, SACP and Cosatu, DA, Freedom Front Plus and PAC to comment, give perspective or criticise.
Mthubanzi Mniki, Central, Port Elizabeth