KENNETH MOKGATLHE: Steve Biko's name shouldn't be used by the corrupt in the ANC
On 12 September of every year, we remember and commemorate the life of Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) leader, Steve Bantu Biko, who was murdered by the apartheid regime in detention in 1977.
With no doubt, Biko is a towering figure of the liberation movement. His name shares the same respect as those of Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, and many others around the world. To many, he is the greatest philosopher South Africa ever birthed in the 20th century.
It has become fashionable to use Biko’s name in order to convince people to support a particular cause, whether they be appropriate causes or not.
We are seeing the sudden emergence of such tendencies within the governing party, especially by a notorious faction who support RET (Radical Economic Transformation). This faction prefers pulling the race card to seek public sympathy and attention.
According to this “militant” gang, they are advocating for a change in the elite economy of our country, which has not really transformed since 1994. They often quote Biko in a bid to strengthen their argument, such as the claim by people like Ace Magashule that he is fighting for black people, when we know the opposite is true.
Jacob Zuma, a senior proponent of this RET, was the president of South Africa and that of his party, the ANC, for nine years. Why did they find it difficult to pursue this policy during his tenure? It is obvious that he was too busy looking out for himself and his close allies, while they forgot about the black people whom they claim to represent.
Biko would not be happy to know Magashule - who is now facing a corruption case related to the R280 million Gupta Estina dairy farm scandal - is abusing his name. This man was the premier of the Free State province for almost 20 years, but failed to transform the lives of black people in that province.
“A black man should be more independent and depend on himself for his freedom and not take it for granted that someone would lead him to it. The blacks are tired of standing at the touchlines to witness a game that they should be playing. They want to do things for themselves and all by themselves,” Biko said.
As the nature of the struggle has changed since 1994, it means that the face of the oppressor has changed too. Colour does not matter anymore, for more than 26 years we have seen how black people (including those in the ANC) can be anti-black. Those who have a heightened or sufficient understanding of the political economy comprehend that the oppressor is no longer white. The oppressor is the ruling elite, and it does not matter what colour they are.
Denying people service delivery (including the most basic human need, that of water) should be enough to convince everyone that the ANC does not have a love for black people. Stealing money meant to help people, the majority of whom are black, should be enough to show how the ANC is neglecting black people.
Giving inferior education to black people is enough to demonstrate how the ANC does not care about this country. It is actually flabbergasting that innocent children continue to fall into pit toilets at school. Why do we still have pit toilets? To add salt to the wound, there are still schools in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, and North West provinces built from mud. How can this be normal to people who want to associate with Biko and what he believed in?
Biko would not take it easy to know those poor people, who happen to be black, support and defend people facing corruption charges such as Zuma, Magashule, Zandile Gumede, and the list goes on.
Biko taught us that the most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. By this, he meant that people like Zuma and Magashule understand that to keep their supporters, they should often use the politics of colour and claim that they are being “vilified and targetted” for pursuing a black agenda.
It could be justifiable to listen to Azapo or the PAC talking about Biko and his philosophy because they have never been in power. But it does not make sense to listen to Magashule or Zuma claiming to love black people when they are the ones who abused blacks when they had power.
Supporting Zuma, Magashule, and their cohorts is no different from giving a mad man an axe to destroy everyone he comes across. We should be very selfish with our support and only grant it to those who will change the fate of our being.
Young people should not be accomplices of corruption by supporting those who are at the receiving end of it. We should condemn every behaviour in society that seeks to demean black people and humanity at large.
We have ministers, MECs and councillors who are only qualified to be in those positions because they are black and are members of the ANC. We have seen how councillors have been unable to lead in their respective communities, failing dismally to sort out water crises, which are the cause of many community protests.
The failure of the ANC to lead the country and itself should not be equal to a belief that black people are incapable. We have many black people who can lead this country to become a better place than it is today.
Kenneth Mokgatlhe is an independent writer, social and political commentator. He holds a BA honours in political science from the University of Limpopo. A former PAC spokesperson, Mokgatlhe is currently studying teaching at the University of South Africa.