Our system has not liberated workers from poverty
COSATU is in government through its alliance with the ANC. The majority of workers on strike are members of Cosatu. It would cost government just over R5 billion to satisfy the reasonable demands of workers. We spent more than R120 billion on the World Cup.
The same Cosatu will be telling the same suffering workers to vote for the same ANC next elections.
Who is fooling who here?
I want to write about Potchefstroom today. Last weekend I found myself in the company of three of my childhood friends talking about growing up on a farm in Potchefstroom.
On reflection, we didn't do too badly for ourselves, considering the fact of our depressing background.
The one guy is an accounting officer for a film production company and another is one of only two blacks in a specialised area in the army. OK, I'm a lousy scribe but Hezekiel Sepeng, the former king of 800m, was also in our midst.
Our parents were slaves on the same farm.
The four of us spoke for hours about the horrors of farm life as we know it. We agreed democracy had not liberated farm-workers.
Those of our contemporaries who were not lucky enough to escape are either farm-workers like our parents, or they have been evicted to the outskirts of Ikageng township and have become squatters there. Poverty is the order of the day.
All those squatters are competent farmers who know everything about producing food; from cultivating the land to raising chickens and packing agricultural produce for the market. They are landless farmers.
At one point we started talking about the size of land owned by the white farmer family that our parents worked for. The land they own runs into hundreds of kilometres, most of it is not used, but they wouldn't share it with those who worked for next to nothing to make them super wealthy.
What has changed on farms around Potchefstroom is that white farmers have left the AWB and joined the ANC. The AWB has basically dressed itself up in ANC clothing.
I was brought to Black Consciousness thinking by the late Simphiwe "Basie" Gugushe, the bravest and perhaps best revolutionary fighter to come from the township of Ikageng. He was a fearless leader whose story is still to be told. He led Cosas in the township in the mid-80s, this landed him on Robben Island with his close friend "Boy" Majola.
Basie and Boy went into Robben Island as Charterists but returned Black Consciousness adherents. Basie was assassinated for his politics but because he comes from the "wrong side" of the liberation movement he is strategically forgotten.
One of the things Basie taught us in our teens, echoing Tsietsi Mashinini and Khotso Seatlholo whom he met on the Island, was that "The people first! Then only the individual." Now the mantra seems to be: eat first, screw the people!
- New Frank Talk will host a discussion on the black condition in Ikageng at Victor's, next to Phaladi school, on Saturday at 2pm. The talk is dedicated to the memory of Basie Gugushe.