We must heed call for economic freedom

15 February 2011 - 10:22
By The Bullet Bite, with Eric Miyeni

THIS is the biggest political push since former president Nelson Mandela said: "Let's pick up arms"

There are many iconic moments in the history of the ANC. The first happened on January 8 1912 of course, when the movement was formed.

The idea was to triumph without emulating the brutal barbarity of the enemy, to fight discrimination peacefully. To never be violent.

Given this premise, another important ideological event in that organisation's history must be when Madiba's ANC Youth League decided in 1961 that it was time to leave peaceful resistance behind and pick up arms. Apartheid, the ANC Youth League argued then, would never fall without locking horns with an armed ANC.

It took over 30 years from the time the ANC adopted this thinking, but the movement finally triumphed over apartheid.

I heard ANC Youth League president Julius Malema mention on radio that Madiba's generation said "Freedom in our lifetime", and achieved that goal and that they, as today's youth, are saying, "Economic freedom in our lifetime".

When I met him some time after hearing this, I asked Malema what the next generation of the youth was to do once the economic struggle had been won. He answered, simply, that their challenge would be to sustain that economic victory.

This concept of fighting for and sustaining economic freedom, this idea of calling ANC Youth League members "Economic freedom fighters" is the single most important South African political push since Mandela urged the ANC to pick up arms.

This calling of the country to economic arms makes Malema the most important leader of our time because freedom without economic means is meaningless.

We, who care for all South African citizens, must individually and collectively heed this economic war call.

Make no mistake. It's a tough war. There are no easily attainable weapons to fight it with. Those that are the strongest and most important, like publicity and money, are mostly in enemy hands. Through these, many bombs have been dropped on us.

One of the most brutal bombings we've endured, for example, is the idea of the "black diamond", which was bandied about to create the impression that blacks are making loads of money when in fact we've never been poorer.

The other is the plethora of lies that say our mines are in decline and therefore not of value, or that nobody would invest in them if we owned them, meaning that the debate on nationalisation is aimed at a dead or dying industry when this is not the case.

Most white South Africans are fully engaged in entrenching themselves as the moneyed elite.

Every South African should be fully engaged in fighting poverty. The most important weapon here is you. Start today. Be an economic freedom fighter in whatever way you can.

A good salvo in this fight would be to fund a comprehensive annual study into what South African "pink diamonds" earn, where they get their money, and how they spend it.

Exposing the true depth of white South African wealth is key to showing a few truths, like the fact that blacks aren't taking jobs from whites.