[Marxism] ANC govt terrified of music, says Hugh Masekela [?!?!]

glparramatta glparramatta at greenleft.org.au
Thu Aug 9 18:05:27 MDT 2007

To be blunt, Walter and Mikhail, this is just convoluted apologetics for 
the ANC government, a harsh neo-liberal capitalist regime that is now 
Washington's appointed major partner on the African continent. Worse 
still, in effect you choose to place yourselves -- and urge other 
socialists to place themselves -- on the side of the ANC government 
against the actions and criticisms of the very real and growing 
movements of the working class, poor communities, the AIDS sufferers 
WITHIN SOUTH AFRICA -- that are beginning to lay the basis for the 
building a genuine militant, hopefully socialist, alternative to the ANC 
capitalist regime.

Walter dismisses Masekela's criticism of the ANC regime, first with the 
insinuation that he may have has some unstated selfish or sinister 
motive (but Walter quickly admits he has absolutely no evidence upon 
which to base that speculation), and then secondly that Masekela resides 
outside South Africa, as if that invalidates his very accurate 
description of the ``new'' South Africa.

 From that tenuous reasoning, Walter (endorsed by Mikhail) then goes on 
and attempts to paint all criticism of the ANC on this list and the 
Marxism List as coming from ill informed ultras who do not understand 
the historical significance of the demise of narrow apartheid, 
announcing: ``I keep on being puzzled about why these radicals living 
thousands of miles away are on the perennial warpath against the African 
National Congress''.

The reason is precisely what Masekela states: ``Masekela accused the ANC 
and opposition parties of bringing an end to all-white rule through 
conniving in a `business deal' which entrenched the power of the elite, 
but left the bulk of the population in poverty. `We ended up with less 
than 2% of the economy, less than 5% of the land. We are a free but poor 
people,' he said.''

Who are all these supposed ``radicals living thousands of miles away'' 
who dominate these lists' discussion of Southern Africa? Since I am the 
main person posting items to the Green Left list on South Africa, I 
suppose that could include me. I do live thousands of miles away from 
South Africa, it's true. The problem is that the overwhelming number of 
posts I have made (and the GLW articles I have contributed) are either 
based on, by or about activists inside South Africa, expressing their 
criticisms of the capitalist ANC government's neoliberal policies or 
reporting on real struggles by the poor and working class inside South 
Africa, or about the very real debates inside the SACP and other groups 
about whether to part ways with the ANC-dominated alliance.

It is on that basis that I posted the comments by Hugh Masekela. 
Masekela's criticisms are significant in that he played an enormous 
cultural role in mobilising the anti-apartheid movement and in support 
of the ANC. He is not some disgruntled exile who can simply be dismissed 
as a bitter old grump. He travels to South Africa regularly and for him 
to now come out now and criticise the ANC has to be taken seriously. And 
it is being taken very seriously inside South Africa. It both reflects 
the reality of the dissention inside South Africa and also deep 
disappointment of many of those who fought for more than the 
construction of a non-racial capitalism.

Is Walter referring to the very informative posts and articles by 
Patrick Bond in Green Left Weekly and on the Marxism List? Patrick Bond 
is a dinky-di South African resident with a deep connection to 
grassroots struggles in South Africa, today and in the past. Is he 
referring to Dale McKinley's incisive analysis in Green Left Weekly and 
Links over the years? Sorry, Walter and Mikhail, he too is deeply 
imbedded withing the South African movement. Percy Ngonyama's occasional 
articles in Green Left Weekly? No, Percy is a young local South African 

Rather than falsely portraying opposition to the ANC as simply a handful 
of ultraleft outsiders who know nothing about the real situation inside 
South Africa, I suggest Walter and Mikhail attempt to acquaint 
themselves of the views of the activists and movements within South 
Africa. Search Green Left Weekly for those authors I've mentioned and 
read what they have to say about both the actual reality of ANC rule and 
the developing -- yes still embryonic -- opposition to the ANC's 
policies. I suggest you visit the excellent new Amandla 
(http://www.amandla.org.za/) website and read the many and rich debate 
articles there. Regularly visit http://www.pambazuka.org/ too. Likewise 
explore the Durban-based Centre for Civil Society at 
http://www.ukzn.ac.za/ccs/ Join the excellent South Africa-based Debate 
discussion list.

I would also suggest you seek out news on the activities of the 
Anti-Privatisation Forum in Johannesburg and the Treatment Action Group, 
and the anti-eviction, anti-water and electrcity cut-off movements in 
Johannesburg, Durban, cape Town and throughout the country.

Walter asks: ``And I don't know, and would be curious to know, how they 
think that publishing such complaints as these by Hugh Masakela are part 
of building some new and presumably more progressive or revolutionary 

Surely, the answer is simple for socialists. To become informed of the 
actual situation on the ground, and of the views and responses of the 
people most affected. And to offer SOLIDARITY to those attempting to 
fight their oppression and organise for a better society. Walter 
understands the importance of solidarity with the people of Cuba. It is 
a shame he does not extend that understanding to the movements of the 
poor and working class, and the left, in Southern Africa.


Walter Lippmann wrote:

>This is exactly what I think. Thanks for putting it so clearly and
>eloquently. No individual or political force should be exempt from
>criticism. There's no opinion which cannot be discussed, or action
>which cannot be evaluated. It's really a question of how it's done.
>My objection is to the evident campaign by some on the left today 
>for whom the ANC can never to anything right.
>That's what I was responding to when I saw posted the complaint by
>Hugh Masakela, a musician whose work I've always liked. I asked if
>there couldn't be SOMETHING else involved when he said he feared he
>couldn't get a gig in South Africa. I posted a comment by Pallo
>Jordan praising such artists as Hugh Masekela and others from the
>sixties. Considering how highly South Africa's Minister of Arts
>and Culture speaks of Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim
>and many others, it seems curious that he should complain that
>he can't perform in South Africa. Anyway, we haven't heard any 
>facts to substantiate what Masekela is quoted as claiming here.
>Walter Lippmann
>Los Angeles, California

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