The EFF National People’s Assembly an inspiration of hope: Siyaqhuba!
The Economic Freedom Fighters held its 1st National People’s Assembly between the 13th and 16th of December 2014 in Bloemfontein, Free State Province. Despite what doomsayers predicted and wished for, the 1st NPA of the EFF was a tremendous success, and everything that happened in as part of the official programme was qualitatively superior. Elected delegates from ward based branches, leaders of regions and provinces of the EFF converged in what became the most successful socialist gathering in the Southern hemisphere to discuss and adopt a programme of action towards economic emancipation in South Africa and the African continent.
The EFF 1st National People’s Assembly is represents another milestone in the many which doomsayers, and the less sophisticated analyses predict of the EFF. The EFF is not like the political parties that have existed before, and the sooner society appreciates this reality, the better. We represent a generation of freedom fighters who as Fanon made the clarion call, have discovered its mission and will fulfil such a mission. That we have discovered a mission is beyond dispute, and the reality is that we will fulfil such a mission.
A larger part of the NPA was opened to the media, because we were not engaged in some elite roundtable discussions on what should constitute our programmes towards economic freedom. In all the deliberations and policy making process that ensued, delegates from branches spoke about the EFF as a Government in Waiting, and not so much about the EFF as an opposition political party. EFF Members have internalised the fact that the EFF will be government of South Africa, hence their determined, cogent and informed propositions and ultimately resolutions on how we will best run South Africa as an economically liberated zone.
The People’s Assembly appreciated that for the EFF to take over political power, we should begin to engage in necessary struggles which will lead to the economic emancipation of the majority. The People’s Assembly also emphasised that some of the cardinal pillars that drive our movements should never be postponed because an illusion that we will be handed political and therefore economic power to emancipate our people on a silver platter should never be created. This informed the resolutions that were taken concerning the nature and content of struggle the EFF should engage in the immediate as part of building an economic emancipation movement.
Part of these programmes is radical land redistribution, which will unapologetically mean that the EFF will support, participate in and lead programmes which will allocate land to the landless masses of our people, outside the current framework of the South African government. The essence of this approach and struggle is born out of the fact that the approach of the ruling party on land redistribution does not and will never work. The ruling party only managed to buy 7% of the stolen land from white settlers since 1994, and as a result, the recently released land audit points to the fact that 79% of South Africa’s land is still under the ownership and control of white settlers and their descendants.
Another important and turning point resolution adopted by the 1st National People’s Assembly is a political and ideological determination to direct the war for economic emancipation to the real enemy for economic emancipation, which is indisputably white monopoly capital. South Africa is currently the protests capital of the world, and almost all these protests are directed at government at the local sphere, resulting in burning of local public infrastructure and Local government Councillors’ houses. The EFF 1st NPA said that we should now direct the war to the Mines, and huge conglomerates and corporations that are robbing South Africa of potential wealth.
Whilst we will engage in and support protests to local municipalities that are inherently useless under the ANC and DA governments, we will also lead massive and militant protests to the Mines to demand provision of healthcare facilities, sanitation, roads, schools, bursaries, and even food for all the surrounding communities from the Mines and other corporations. All Mines, particularly the ones with black economic shareholders should re-direct the resources they use to buy black people to the communities around them. As things stand, mining communities are the poorest and most vulnerable to diseases such as Tuberculosis, and there is no dispute that such is linked directly to the mining activities which enrich few individuals. This will come to an end when the EFF begins cogent and militant programmes around the Mines. Protesters have been burning and disrupting wrong houses and infrastructure and through building proper consciousness, the EFF will unapologetically redirect the struggle towards the primary enemy of our struggle.
Of course reformists and reactionary elements will proclaim this form of struggle as unlawful and unconstitutional, forgetting that the struggle for economic emancipation and economic emancipation itself cannot be contained within the current legalities, which in all fairness are illegitimate. Many of these reactionaries forget that it was illegal under apartheid for political freedom fighters to enter into buses and toilets reserved for whites only, but they did so in the fight for political freedom. Many reactionaries forget that it was illegal for blacks who are more than 80% of South Africa to vote in elections, but political freedom fighters undermined such laws and declared successive whites only elections as illegitimate. Many reactionaries forget that it was illegal for workers to strike and demand their rights, but workers did so in the struggle for political freedom.
We therefore will as the EFF unapologetically lead struggles for radical and faster land redistribution. Because what we currently have is illegal and illegitimate. We therefore will as the EFF lead struggles that demand an equitable share from the Mines because what is currently happening might be permissible by the laws of this country, but is morally and logically illegal. It is morally, logically and economically illegal that few individuals own huge tracts of land while majority of our people are landless. It is economically illegal that Mines make billions in profits, while the immediate mining communities do not have access to water, sanitation, houses, healthcare and other basic services. This will come to an end, and those who do not believe, better do so now because we will fight to the victorious end.
This obviously needs an organisationally and ideologically stable organisation and more than anything, the EFF 1st National People’s Assembly settled this question. In his political report to the People’s Assembly, the Commander in Chief Julius Malema said, “The EFF is a movement in a class struggle and appreciates its Congress, black conscious, pan Africanist and most importantly the internationalist and socialist character of the EFF in the struggle for economic freedom in a neo-colonial South Africa and Africa. There is no need to fragment the organisation along those lines. We are uniting Chris Hani, Robert Sobukwe, Steve Biko, and Che Guevara in the struggle for economic freedom and we shall overcome”.
This affirms the clarity and cogency of the ideological posture of our movement, the Economic Freedom Fighters and we explain it as follows:
a) The Congress character of the EFF is one that appreciates the non-racialist content of our struggle signified by the election of two Commissars which apartheid South Africa would have classified Indian into the top 6 positions of the EFF, and a reasonable number of those classified as coloured into the Central Command Team. Narrow ideologues, even those who proclaim non-racialism would have never understood and permitted this development. This does not in any way tie the EFF to reactionary Nationalists who believe that economic emancipation will happen through creation of a black bourgeoisie.
b) The Black-consciousness character is one that appreciates that while our people were exploited as a class, they were also made to believe through various streams of subjugation and ideological work that as Africans they are inferior, and the struggle for economic freedom seek to liberate the inferiority consciousness which had been inflicted upon black people’s lives over centuries. Like Steve Biko, the EFF is "looking forward to a non-racial, just and egalitarian society in which colour, creed, and race shall form no point of reference”.
c) The pan Africanist character of the EFF is cogently expressed in one of the 7 cardinal pillars in the EFF Founding Manifesto, which basically asserts and affirms the position that the economic emancipation and development of South Africa’s economy is inextricably intertwined with the economic and political unity and development of the entire African continent.
d) The EFF’s socialist and internationalist character is expressed in the ideological and logical conviction that ours is a class struggle against capitalism and imperialism, and should be guided and underpinned by the principles of international socialist solidarity and common struggles of the exploited masses of the world.
It is important to highlight the fact that the entire liberation struggle in South Africa had fragmented these streams into irreconcilable ideological differences, which meant that each stream had to have its own political party. The EFF as the last bearer of the baton towards the economic emancipation finish line has been able through its 1st National People’s Assembly to unite all progressive forces and is on its way towards victory of and for the people and generations to come. The delegates to the 1st EFF National People’s Assembly represented more than 500 000 members and proclaimed in unanimity that victory is certain, and we should never retreat.
The unity the EFF consolidated in its 1st National People’s Assembly is unity of purpose, and not unity of egomaniacs and self-proclaimed messiahs, whose revolutionary conscience tells them that a revolutionary programme can only succeed if they are its supreme ideological and political leaders, and cannot be part of the collective even when requested to do so by the majority. The EFF embraced, internalised and hoisted the principles of internal organisational democracy, which will hold the organisation together until victory. Doomsayers will prophesy doom, yet doom will never define the Economic Freedom Fighters. Our Movement is here to stay. Siyaqhuba!
Floyd Shivambu is Deputy President of the Economic Freedom Fighters.