Time to advance beyond political freedom

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Reflections on freedom day: Buti Manamela

On 27 April 1994 our country held the first ever non-racial elections. This elections served as a stepping stone towards creation of a truly non-racial, non-sexiest, democratic and prosperous country where there will be equal opportunities for all. To majority of the Black people in general and Africans in particular the 1994 elections set a stage for the resolutions of more than three centuries abnormalities imposed on our people by the system of apartheid colonialism.

Since 1994 a lot have been done to set on motion systems designed to maximize the participation of our people in governance of their country. The Municipal Integrated Development Plans( IDP) meetings, Cabinet Imbizos, etc. are amongst mechanisms implemented by the democratic government to ensure full participation of our people in determining their own destiny. Our country is thus amongst the community of nations with strong political and administrative systems that support our democracy.

On top public participation structures, our country also boost independent judiciary and Chapter nine institutions developed to safe-guard the interest of our people against the abuse of power by powerful groupings, hence our country earned respect for establishing a democratic system that is amongst the best in the world.

It is however important to understand that the struggle for freedom was not merely about the establishing system for a vote for a citizen. Protracted struggles of our people against colonialism and apartheid were primarily against dispossession of land and wealth of our people by the settler community. It is within this logic that freedom means nothing to our people if it cannot facilitate the return of land and national wealth to the ownership of our people as a whole. This in essence means the development of new country based on the will and needs of our people.

The democratic government has done a lot of for the people of our country. Working hand in hand with our people, the democratic forces have recorded new and commendable progress in areas of social development. Today, no kid can be out of school because parents are unable to afford school fees. Our government is currently providing fee free education to all quintile 1-3 schools. Our grannies are also benefiting from the social welfare scheme (through SASSA). Free primary healthcare is available to the poor and higher education has been made more accessible to all including African females. In essence, we have developed a very good social security system.

Despite notable progress, it is important that we address the fundamentals of the system of colonialism in order to truly liberate ourselves from three centuries plus of that system. The system of colonialism what first and foremost the system of class rule fiercely expressed through race. To put it otherwise, the fundamental form of oppression in the country has always been class oppression (i.e. oppression of labour by capitalist) whilst the dominant form has been race. In essence, minority white, disposed indigenous people of their belongings and started a psychological warfare to teach their own offspring’s and that of the oppressed that a black man is sub-human and can only perform duties of a civilized human under the watchful eye of the white master. In essence, the South African capitalist most of production represented primitive accumulation in its earliest form. This sought of accumulation was strengthened by the ruling white political elites of the time.

What must full liberation entail?

The total liberation of our people means fundamental break from the previous day socio-economic disorder. It represent people having access to land for both residential and productive purposes. It represent the ability of professional classes and strata to enter trade and professions of their choices without having to sell their labour to a capitalist at a rate determined by the buyer.

As earlier indicated, the system of apartheid colonialism was a fundamentally a class system, strengthened through racial and gender connotations. Freedom therefore would be void if it does not fundamentally change the status quo into, a non-racial, non-sexiest country where prosperity is shared amongst all our people. It could be fool-hardy to believe that by masses of our people can live on slogans and exercising political rights of without any improvement on their lives and with little opportunities for their offspring.

Total liberation of our people therefore mean that they should be able to change their own conditions and better their future without being reliant on the messiah. It means collective and communal ownership of strategic sectors of the economy in order to improve their own conditions. In essence, this means that placing the future of humanity in the hands of humanity.

Full liberation means that as a country and its people, we should make friendship with all people of the world without subjecting our autonomy and sovereignty to the will of powerful nations and their ruling classes.  It must of course be noted that political freedom (right to vote) and basic human rights represent progress for the poor and the working class. Such rights must be protected against all cost, without neglecting the fundamental question: Who determines our share in the wealth of our nation?

Freedom means choosing our own path, travelling it without fear that it might bring miseries upon our nation if it offend the powerful elites. Freedom must enable the entire nation to share one destiny and work towards it. The road will not be easy, it will be a thorny upward slope but in unity we will prevail.
Victory always!

Buti Manamela is a member of the SACP central committee, ANC PEC and Deputy Minister of Planning,  Monitoring and Evaluation.

 

 

Most Read