[Marxism] Activists blast ANC leaders as 'Bantustan puppets'

glparramatta glparramatta at greenleft.org.au
Thu Aug 30 01:46:35 MDT 2007

Posted on the Debate List (South Africa) ...

Headline news on front page of today's Daily Dispatch...
This sort of coverage for the left is probably unprecedented here.


Activists blast ANC leaders as 'Bantustan puppets' 

Students told government is 'bowing to whims of the West' 


VETERAN architects of the country's liberation struggle yesterday berated
the ANC government for acting like "puppets" of the former Bantustan state. 
The political and literary icons speaking at a Fort Hare University seminar
roundly condemned the state's capitalist bent and its "puppet" status to
Britain and the US. 

Guest speaker and novelist Livingstone Mqotsi criticised government leaders
for fawning over Western powers and pandering to their whims. 
"The government is being used in the same way that the puppets of Bantustan
were being used yesterday," said Mqotsi, author of House Of Bondage and
former executive member of the Cape African Teachers' Association. 
The amazing show of dissent during the gathering occurred at the same
institution which produced many of the country's current leaders and
anti-apartheid activists, none more famous than former president Nelson
Poet and activist Professor Dennis Brutus fuelled the discontent when he
labelled the country's new elite "Bantustanis". 
Brutus, who worked in the same chain gang with Mandela on Robben Island,
roused the students by referring to a recent article in which he described
South Africa as a "typically Bantustan state". 

The country met three conditions to qualify as such an entity: 
l "You set up a bunch of leaders who become your political stooges; 
l You have large reserves of cheap labour; and 
l You create your own elite who are beneficiaries of the system." 
After whoops of appreciation from the audience, Brutus continued by saying
that the majority of South Africans were living under worse conditions than
those experienced during apartheid. 
"The whole process of transformation is meaningless," he said. 
Outspoken East London doctor Costa Gazi, sitting in the audience, said
government leaders deserved to be removed. 

"Our government is acting like a Bantustan government because they are
protecting the rights of the privileged." 
High on the agenda was what the panelists claimed was a lack of action by
the state in transferring land into the hands of ordinary South Africans. 
This, coupled with claims of tardy transformation in the country's education
system, generated hearty applause. 

Apart from Mqotsi, other guest panelists at the seminar, organised by the
university's National Heritage and Cultural Studies Centre and dubbed
"Conversations Across Generations", included brothers Sastri and Mda Mda,
Richard Canca and Pumi Giyose, liberation stalwarts who all hail from the
Eastern Cape. 

Mda Mda, speaking on the history of annexed land in South Africa, said "the
question of land has not yet been solved". 
Giyose said only three percent of land had been bought by the government and
transferred into black hands. 
"That Parliament was made by us. It has failed. We must make another
Parliament," thundered Giyose. 
Students took their lead from the panelists and waded in, raising concerns
about education. 

Student Representative Council president Nomsa Mazwai said real issues, like
changing the content of the curriculum, were constantly overlooked by focus
on perennial problems, such as student finance, that remain unresolved. 
"So often we get tricked and fight a war we shouldn't be fighting," she

Another student lamented what she called a gap between the education white
people are afforded and that given to blacks. "The system does not work for
black people. I don't think it ever will," she said. 
Mqotsi said there was "no desire to change the system in a fundamental way".
The type of system needed was "education for rebels" where pupils and
students were encouraged to debate and think independently.

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