Does Sasco belong in alliance and opposition of the ANC?

I PARTICIPATED in a series of interesting talks in Cape Town last weekend. In all these meetings two questions confronted us. One was why democracy doesn't work for the majority of the black poor, secondly, what is the alternative?

I PARTICIPATED in a series of interesting talks in Cape Town last weekend. In all these meetings two questions confronted us. One was why democracy doesn't work for the majority of the black poor, secondly, what is the alternative?

The Friday night talk at UCT medical school was dominated by members of the ANC-aligned Sasco. It was interesting to see how they negotiate the impossible terrain of firstly acknowledging that black students are experiencing challenges as a result of neglect by the government and then defending the government at the same time. They even had to march to Parliament to demand "Free Education".

Sasco had difficulty explaining why they need to march against their comrades and alliance partners. It makes you wonder why they could not just have asked for a meeting with the ANC in Luthuli House and explained the need for free education.

These days to defend the ANC requires a combination of hypocrisy and irrational stubbornness. The one guy stood up to speak against a lack of service delivery and threatened protest action. It was unbelievable, really, to notice that the same guy was wearing a T-shirt with a portrait of President Jacob Zuma.

This doublespeak was again clear in the Freedom Day statement by Sasco president Mbulelo Mandlana, who said: "We have secured a democracy that gives the rich the right to rule the roost in our political and economic terrain."

He then called for students and society not to celebrate Freedom Day but instead to strategise to fight the black and white bourgeoisies.

It is the ANC that has "secured" a democracy that serves the rich. Furthermore, it is not a secret that the ANC has chosen capitalism. Does this mean Sasco is both in alliance and in opposition of the ANC at the same time?

The same goes to the kind of radical rhetoric coming from ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema speaking as if the ANC is not in power or as if the ANCYL is no part of the governing party. When he calls for nationalisation he speaks as if government doesn't already have authority over our mineral rights.

How does Malema demand nationalisation when existing state-owned enterprises are not serving the people?

The meetings in Gugulethu and Khayelitsha confirmed clearly a trend that the ANC supporters are no longer able to provide a rational convincing defence for the failures of their government in an open public debate. So when Zuma says after two decades the ANC government will not be able to blame apartheid for alack of transformation he is a bit optimistic. Already the people are saying the ANC has failed them.

What is also fascinating about the discussions is that there is a lot of soul- searching and impatience from younger people. They are not seduced into blind admiration of the liberation movement and its great achievements. They want to see change in their lives not long stories of Robben Island, exile and struggle.

One even asked impatiently why, if South Africa is so rich in mineral resources, are blacks so poor but they have a black government?

lMngxitama is the author of Blacks Can't be Racist

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