Motjha Palong & The relationship between communities, a Motjha Palong proponent and PYA structures
UNEDITED VIEWS By Themba Zondo
“Our revolution is not a public speaking tournament. Our revolution is not a battle of fine phrases. Our revolution is not simply for spouting slogans that are no more than signals used by manipulators trying to use them as code words, as a foil for their own display. Our revolution is, and should continue to be, a collective effort of revolutionaries to transform reality, to improve the concrete situation of the masses of our country”1
It is June 2021, exactly 45 years ago when a group of young people organised themselves in efforts to cripple the education system and ultimately bring an end to apartheid South Africa. The Soweto Uprising, as it’ll be known, became the turning point in the history of South African struggle for equality, human rights and dignity for the native Africans in particular.
This uprising was a well-orchestrated and thought-out (bar the number of unforeseen casualties) necessity in the lives of black youths disgruntled with their lived daily reality made worse by the introduction of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at schools. In popular culture their battle is seen as a fight against a language, but deeper analysis tells us
1 Women’s Liberation & the African Freedom Struggle
that theirs was something far ahead of what they themselves thought to be possible, i.e. the transforming of society, well at least the beginning of it.
The class of 76’, as these revolutionaries that took part in this uprising will forever be known, led by Tsietsi Mashinini, Murphy Morobe, Seth Mazibuko and many others, have somewhat a lot in common with the class of 2021 – equally bewildered by their lived democratic reality and lessons should be drawn from the events of June 1976 and their implications within the greater scheme of things in the continuous struggle for total emancipation of black people in general and Africans in particular.
The uprising of the class of 2021, known as Motjha Palong, has to note a few interlinked aspects of their immediate tasks.
According to a discussion/conceptualisation document published in January 2021, Motjha Palong is “a strategic practical ideal, it is not an event. An ideal that notes at all material times the fluidity of communities it has been adopted within, and works tirelessly to align progressive youths with the objectives of its programme.”
In simpler terms, it is the radical systemic socio-polit-economic transformation of societal norms, i.e. an overhauling of day to day structures of power. A similarity with the class of 76’ can be drawn here in that Motjha Palong isn’t limited to an event that is supposedly set to take place on Election Day, but rather transcends through to be a societal game changer/ turning point in the lives of South Africans.
Motjha Palong Proponent
“The revolution needs a contingent of cadres who are equal to their political tasks, with regard to their number and quality as well as to their composition, a contingent of cadres capable of fulfilling to the highest degree the requirements of the political tasks in each period”
For the well execution of the Motjha Palong programme, we need a type of comrade that genuinely understands the essence of said programme. A comrade that actively takes part in the shaping not only of the idea (theoretically) but also of the actual work needed done in various sectors (programmatically).
This modern day up rise needs a contingent of comrades that are well versed in a number of skills and are conversant in historic trajectory of the South African society and understand/accept the logical revolutionary conclusion sought by the Motjha Palong call.
2 Motjha Palong Discussion Document
3 Some Present tasks, Le Duan
We need cadres that are deeply rooted in the Congress culture, and have taken the necessary time and effort to understand the basic characterisation of our struggle as having National, Democratic and Revolutionary (NDR) aspects. A Revolutionary to carry Motjha Palong forward should be educated and be taught in the mass-based political school of thought, s/he must value democratic centralism, embracing collective decision making and should at all times espouse Ubuntu and be guided by Batho Pele principles.
A sharply analytical cadre reading situations and interpreting them as they are and not as they appear is critical in the advancement of Motjha Palong. This attribute is highly important in these fast paced information driven times. Clear minded individuals would prove to be precious commodities in the life of Motjha Palong both in the theoretic sense and programmatically. They should act as anchors when contemporary opinion blows from side to side seeking to dilute and/or render Motjha Palong irrelevant and in extension derail the NDR.
A Motjha Palong proponent is extremely militant in thought and reasoning while being disciplined and diligent in the proactive execution of tasks. This priceless dynamism has been lacking, almost non-existent, in the congress movement (Mass Democratic Movement) since the dawn of democracy and as a result the class of 2021 suffer unproductivity leading to a stubbornly stagnant GDP, an ever growing Gini coefficient and thus an unsurprisingly an unemployment rate of 74%. Militancy carried out in the interest of youths and community at large is measured and is precise in meeting challenges given rise as a result of poverty, inequality and unemployment. Misguided militancy in the name of “radicalism” and pseudo exuberance of youth should at all times be guarded against, identified and exposed as nothing but opportunistic efforts for one’s self endorsement. Discipline and diligence are among the characteristics of a proponent listed in the conceptualisation document; on these aforementioned characteristics we dare not compromise as their implication may be the expansion or breaking point of Motjha Palong.
Unwavering on matters related to principle and morality, a Motjha Palong proponent is firmly fixed on the objectives determined in the conceptualisation document. Firm as s/he may be, s/he maintains fluidity when challenges come about requiring creative spontaneous action. Reaching the heights of his/her wits’, a Motjha Palong proponent is never one to shy away from digging deep in exploring solutions to societal ills.
Youth Led Communities?
Communities are an expression of a collection of households and all complexities as well contradictions that exists within them. It is often said that the house hold is the basic unit in any given society; I would argue that that’s not the case, and that individuals are indeed the building blocks of society. We have already examined the type of individual deemed suitable to lead a community- a Motjha Palong cadre- now let us explore the various sectors of society presided over by that highly distinguishable and capable youth.
A class of 2021 cadre needs to be able to accurately locate his/her strengths and/or weaknesses in relation to the centres of power that govern our day to day lives. Surely, there exists among us many comrades with multiple rich portfolios in terms of skills and knowledge; the task of communities, i.e. masses, is thus to select the best young people within each terrain of struggle to lead its transformation.
What is a terrain of struggle? These are, in simple terms, the many sectors within a community that make up society as we know it. Education is a terrain of struggle, the business sector is another terrain, public transport, policing, health, political organisations, administrative & political offices from municipalities right up to national governments are some of the many terrains a Motjha Palong cadre needs to advance the NDR.
Once a Motjha Palong cadre with the highlighted traits comes to the fore, it becomes the community’s responsibility to nature and allows that particular individual to thrive in any given sector. The masses within a community/sector need also to familiarise themselves with the work that would be carried out by the selected individuals. In other words, the masses need to collectively understand the mandate and essence of Motjha Palong as a programme towards social upward mobility.
It is thus very important for the masses to educate themselves in relation to Motjha Palong. This is so because when every individual understands the concept it becomes easy to develop programmes specific to a sectors in order to drive transformation as a collective unit with the “proponent” (Motjha Palong cadre) being the most advanced in that sector/community.
A conscious community empowers itself to play an oversight role to those deployed by them, it is conversant with the basic running of a sector to which their Motjha is deployed. It understands the strategic call for “freedom in our lifetime” and accepts Motjha Palong as an advanced level or turning point to the realisation of this objective.
A wise community does not shun away generational mix in its advancement of the NDR. It notes the presence of highly progressive individuals within all age groups and harnesses their collective brilliance in the interest of transformed sectors giving rise to poverty alleviation, job creation and cultural advancement.
Having noted the above, it is perhaps important to admit that age cannot be a barometer of leadership qualities or the lack thereof. Yet history teaches us that it is mostly YOUNG people at the forefront of many social revolutions. Most recently, and often overlooked, are the situations in Britain and the USA; where young people in majority elected to sway the course of those nations in unexpected trajectories, i.e. Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.
The Motjha Palong document also sites modern-day examples where young people took the lead in agitating for change. Other more notable cases and individuals are:
Thomas Sankara- led a revolution in Upper Volta in 1983 and became the 1st president of Burkina Faso aged 33.
Muammar Gaddafi- initiated and led coup that deposed imperial powers aged 27 and later became president of Libya at 35.
Patrice Lumumba- 1st prime minister of the DRC aged 35.
Fidel Castro- became a prime minister of Cuba aged 29 after the overthrow of the Batista dictatorship.
Pixley Ka Isaka Seme and Sol Plaatje- only 32 & 37 years of age respectively when they and other (older) comrades formed the South African Native National Congress.
Young people are not just leading revolutions via military pursuits and/or political terrains, there are more young people in various other sites of struggle where young people stand head above shoulder against their much more senior counterparts, examples include, but not limited to:
Malala Yousafzai- at 24 years of age this year, she is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate and humanitarian striving for girl’s education and equality.
Mark Zuckerberg- at age 20 he founded Facebook Inc., the largest social media company holding WhatsApp & Instagram within its portfolio; he is today the 5th richest person in the world at the age of 37.
Marie Curie- having done most of her ground breaking research on X-rays within her 30s, she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields. She was the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris.
These are just a few examples that a conscious community needs to look at in search for their own young persons within various sectors in the interest of social mobility.
A conducive society wherein community members are aware of their immediate needs and are not threatened by the valour of youth will ultimately produce a Motjha Palong cadre it needs in whatever sector. Individuals may be building blocks of the community but if surrounded by a collectively destructive, unproductive and generally anti-revolutionary community that particular community is set for doom.
Progressive Youth Alliance & tasks ahead
“Just as the combat strength of a cavalry unit or the resistance of an infantry battalion differs in substance from the sum total of the individual strength of each cavalryman or each separate combatant, the sum total of the mechanical strength of each separate worker also differs from the mechanical strength created when they work in co-ordination and at the same time in the same indivisible work… The problem is not only to increase individual productivity, but also to use cooperative methods to create a new production force that operates as a single, collective force.”4
It is unimaginable for Motjha Palong, as a programme, to reach its full potential without a living, well organised and programmatic Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA). PYA Components, i.e. ANC Youth League, South African Students Congress, Youth Communist League of South Africa, Congress of South African Students; need to come out of their corners (fashioned along factional alignments within the tri-partied alliance) in waging the battle Motjha Palong has called on them to wage.
Each component needs to discover elements within their own mandates that need to be infused with the energy and relevant activity required to speed up transformation. Once individual components grapple with the question of Motjha Palong, resolve to heed the call and move to execution, it will be highly important, and will prove to be revolutionary for all of them to work together, in a collective effort to bring change in relevant sectors.
With COSAS and SASCO having a serving similar a strata of society, they need to come together to draw a joint programme in order to galvanise and contextualise Motjha Palong along their immediate needs. A transformed curriculum, biased towards self-actualisation based on African value systems is a no brainer. These key components must be at the forefront of the long overdue, highly urgent, skills revolution.
The YCLSA needs to draw on the strategic Youth Desks in progressive trade unions/federations in order to shape up that site of struggle, narrow down the focus of their joint programmes to speak to issues directly affecting the working class, i.e. profit 4 Capital Vol 2, Karl Marx
maximisation. A constant need to conscientise young people to the very basic of societal contradictions should be the primary task of the YCLSA; more so leading programmatic efforts to bring antagonistic power relations to yield.
To mobilise the youth and bring to the fore general issues they faced by youths (and society in general) in whatever sector is widely recognised as the task of the ANCYL. This should still be the case when advocating for Motjha Palong, only this time a sharper, deeper and urgent voice needs to be heard from this quarter. The National question (of Motjha Palong) needs to be critically looked at and resolved on by a new 21st century cadre armed with the retrospection of past experience and prosperity driven policies.
The entire youth social strata: in professional positions, artistic, running artisanal businesses, unemployed, in sporting & cultural clubs, at churches, “educated” or otherwise must come together in noting that an appointment with the future needs to realised. Youths must organise themselves in order to ruffle the status quo in the interest of upward mobility for the entire native South African (blacks in general, Africans in particular) community.
A dialectic relationship
Learning from the class of ’76, it becomes clear that the organisation of conscious community members- in this case students- working towards a collective objective leads to progressive transition as opposed to fragmented, isolated and unorganised action. A sufficiently mobilised and conscious society breeds just about the right type (theoretically & programmatically) of cadre who goes on to build progressive organisations.
There is a necessary relationship in society whose weaknesses have left us poorer in the context of the 27 years into a “democratic” dispensation, a relationship that had been missing/misplaced prior to June ’76 only to be exploited/revived by the brave youths of the day (16 June 1976), a relationship we, Motjha Palong proponents, need to reconcile with.
We dare not act purely out of circumstances, but rather by convictions.
HASTA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE!
Themba Zondo is an ANC Youth League WTT coordinator Fezi Ngubentombi branch in the Fezile Dabi Region. He writes in his capacity as a full-time revolutionary and in honouring the memory of cde Boniswa Maphanzi