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OPINION: Bolekaja! Why The EFF Should Debate The BLF

Mbe Mbhele

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is undoubtedly an organization of intellectuals. At least in a country where intelligence is measured by the number of degrees that one has, the EFF is leading in flaunting its intelligentsia.

But (un)fortunately genuine intelligence requires much more than performance, it requires grappling with ideas to solve both abstract and simple problems in society. How are problems solved? It is usually through deliberation and debate as has become the culture in South Africa. I personally do not rule out violence as another effective and intellectually grounded way to solve problems especially for a people whose entire experience is that of violence. I digress, young literary giant Unathi Slasha familiarized me with the term ‘bolekaja’. The term directly means come down, let’s fight! It is mostly used in literary circles where two writers are disagreeing and the only way to solve the disagreement is to debate and critique each other’s works until the other taps out or is knocked out.

The BLF whether it acknowledges this or not has styled itself as a critic to the EFF both in policy and in ideology, although some of their positions may be similar. In the same way that the EFF is to the ANC. It was therefore not a surprise when Andile Mngxitama the president of the BLF called the Commander in Chief of the EFF Julius Malema to a public debate. One could have easily expected that Malema was not going to respond to this call since the CIC is known for not debating people who are not a ‘threat’ to him. He dismissed Lindiwe Mazibuko of the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the past. What made Andile think that he was going to agree to debate him? Perhaps Andile thought the intellectuals of EFF would be excited to participate in a festival of ideas. Alas, his hopes were crushed when his call fell on deaf ears or is it a fearful heart. Everyone knows that Mngxitama does not come to play. He is in any case the foremost thinker of black consciousness in South Africa. His corpus of writings on black consciousness and its development is unmatched. So you don’t debate him wearing pyjamas and maybe fighters know this. What is strange though is that the EFF has proven numerous times that it is not inherently averse to debate. It participated in the Daily Maverick talk which took the form of a debate, it participated in the pre-election debate organized by eNCA and the leaders of EFF are always debating on twitter and facebook. Why refuse to debate the BLF? Is it because there is no incentive in debating a stokvel as the BLF is labelled by most fighters? This might be true but it is not a legitimate enough reason to reject engagement and debate.

However way you decide to look at it both the EFF and the BLF are part of the tradition of black radical thought. Despite the other arguing that the other is a puppet of Renwick and the other a puppet of the Guptas, both organizations claim to exist for the total emancipation of black people. It is not strange for two movements in the same tradition to engage in rigorous debate and conversation for the greater good of the people. Remember the Martin Luther King and the Malcom X debate or the Le Roi Jones and James Baldwin debate? There are many other examples like this. The refusal to debate can mean two paradoxical positions, extreme arrogance or lack of confidence in ones ideas. What this paradox shows though, through nuance, is that there is already a debate happening between the BLF and the EFF. Maybe the debate has not taken formality yet but the mere invitation and disagreement on primary positions constitutes debate in itself. This is to say that the BLF has already initiated the debate. Silence by the EFF already speaks volume.

(Un)fortunately the EFF did respond but all the responses do not speak to what the BLF is indicting the fighters with. The comments I recall in response to Mngxitama by Malema were that the oke is broke and just wants to get some cash. The deputy president Floyd Shivambu responded by commenting on how unkempt, jealous and half-drunk he always is. General members of the EFF also respond in slurs, likening the BLF to a stokvel or saying that the children of Biko (as the BLF is known in some circles) are drunk on curry and Nyaope. These slurs and insults do not assist where the BLF is making arguments that question the very basis of the ideological position of the EFF. The BLF has continuously questioned the EFF’s commitment to its cardinal pillars. The BLF also attacked the EFF’s apparent alignment with liberals by prioritizing the issue of corruption and footnoting that of land even though at the top of the EFF’s cardinal pillars is land expropriation without compensation. The BLF criticized the decision of the EFF to vote with the DA and questioned the overall ideological lens of the EFF. Children of the Red Sea (as the EFF is known in some circles) have not come out to deny and fully prove that these attacks are untrue and completely hogwash. Maybe the ‘stokvel’ does not deserve a response because it is too small but we know very well that the size of a movement does not legitimize its ideas. The ANC is the biggest organization in South Africa but they have proven that they are not necessarily committed to advancing the interests of black people at all costs. Fighters must write, respond and expose the bankruptcy and gupterism/zumarism of the BLF, less they forget that they have posed as an intellectual movement so this should not be difficult. The likes of my comrade Tshepo Goba, Anele Nzimande, Naledi Chirwa, Vuyani Pambo and not to mention Dr Ndlozi are revered as amongst the sharpest brains in the EFF and this must be demonstrated through polemics. If not Ncedisa Mpemnyama, Zanele Lwana and Athi Joja must keep on convincing the people and exposing the inadequacies of the EFF until the commanders come out. What they believe to be meaningless noise will eventually turn into music. The BLF will become jazz and we know how the people are attracted to jazz.

Ardono implores that movements must necessarily immerse themselves deeply in policy, implementation of resolutions and administration but they must also be independent of it and focus on ideology. No one needs to highlight the importance of ideology to an organization that calls itself a Marxist, Lennist and Fanonian organization. It is important that revolutionary movements are always guided by ideology and this guidance happens through reading, writing, critique and debate. You do not just say the word and ideology appears. One can even argue that the pitfalls of the ANC were the failure to cultivate and read the problematic of South Africa through a proper ideological lens post-1994. A movement that improvises about the problems of the people is a potential threat to the very people it claims to serve because it is unable to grasp the fact that material conditions hinge on ideology. This is to say, ideology is not just some useless mental exercise but social order itself depends on it. This is not some intellectual musterbation as some fighters have labelled it but the BLF is questioning a very important facet of the EFF. What should fighters do? I suggest Bolekaja! Come down and fight so that this little family quarrel is resolved. Once the quarrel has been resolved maybe the two movements can play their respective roles towards the complete emancipation of black people instead of bickering at each other. Nx.

Mbe Mbhele is a student at Wits. An author of an anthology of short stories titled Crazy Father and Other Very Short Lies and a struggling poet. 

Twitter @mbembhele

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  1. Morning to the other part of the world,and afternoon and evening to others.
    The thing that I have realised with us Blacks,is that we like to be loved and accepted by other nations,and other people,even though we are not entirely happy with the situation we find ourselves in.
    Dr Chinweizu says,”BLACK PEOPLE ARE THE BIGGEST STUMBLING BLOCK TO THEIR OWN LIBERATION.WE ARE HUMANE TO THE WORLD AND YET TRAITORS WHEN IT COMES TO ONE ANOTHER.IT IS MADNESS.”

    We are busy bushing JULIUS MALEMA on debating Andile,but they are both claiming to be fighting to liberate the Black Nation.
    WHAT GOOD WILL DEBATING EACH OTHER DO TO THE BLACK NATION?
    INSTEAD OF DEBATING EACH OTHER,TRYING TO SHOW THE WORLD THAT WHO IS THE BETTER THINKER BETWEEN THE TWO,WE NEED TO COME UP WITH THE SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEMS THAT ARE FACING THE BLACK NATION.WE NEED TO PUT OUR HEADS TOGETHER,JULIUS,ANDILE,AZAPO,PAC,AND ALL THE BLACK PEOPLE,AND COME OUT WITH THE SOLUTIONS BY THE BLACKS,FOR THE BLACKS.

    MY BROTHER,GENERAL TUMELO”LADEN” says,”IT IS PAINFUL THAT TWO MEN ARE FIGHTING FOR A BELT,YET THEY DON’T HAVE TROUSERS,”

    MALCOLM X says,”HELP AFRIKA IN ITS STRUGGLE TO FREE ITSELF FROM WESTERN DOMINATION.NO MATTER WHERE THE BLACK MAN IS,HE WILL NEVER BE RESPECTED UNTIL AFRIKA IS A WORLD POWER.”

    It is said,”FOOLS TAKE THE KNIFE AND STAB PEOPLE IN THE BACK.THE WISE TAKE THE KNIFE,CUT THE CORD,AND SET THEMSELVES FREE FROM THE FOOLS.”

    For the past 24 years we have been debating,but the life of a Black Person is getting worse everyday.
    The enemy that our ancestors were fighting against,is still the same enemy,and the land that was forcefully taken away from us,of which our ancestors were fighting so hard to keep,is still in the hands of the enemy,but we are busy asking or calling for a debate against each other.
    Are we going to get our land back through debating each other?

    Dr Kwame Nkrumah says,”SO LONG AS WE REMAIN APART,REGIONALLY,OR TERRITORIALLY,WE SHALL REMAIN AT THE MERCY OF COLONIALISM AND IMPERIALISM.”

    So now instead of coming up together as the Black Nation,we are busy dividing ourselves further by these debates of which they wont yield any results.
    Let’s not forget that it was the ANC YOUTH LEAGUE BY THEN,LED BY JULIUS MALEMA,that reignited the Land Expropriation without compensation fire,of which the then President,Mr Jacob Zuma,was not interested in singing that song,or even just to listen to it.
    Julius Malema,and the ANCYL opted for KGALIMA MOTLANTE to take over as the ANC PRESIDENT because ZUMA was not interested in the LAND EXPROPRIATION WITHOUT COMPENSATION SONG..
    THAT LED TO JULIUS BEING EXPELLED FROM THE ANC,AND THE YOUTH LEAGUE BEING DISSOLVED.
    BUT TODAY ZUMA IS BEING HAILED AS THE CHAMPION OF RET AND LAND EXPROPRIATION.AND AGAIN EFF TRIED TO GIVE ZUMA THEIR SEATS IN PARLIAMENT SO THAT THE ANC CAN HAVE THE 2/3 MAJORITY TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION,BUT ZUMA AND THE ANC REFUSED.

    MAHATMA GANDHI SAYS,”MANY PEOPLE,ESPECIALLY IGNORANT PEOPLE,WANT TO PUNISH YOU FOR SPEAKING THE TRUTH,FOR BEING CORRECT,FOR BEING YOU.NEVER APOLOGISE FOR BEING CORRECT,OR FOR BEING YEARS AHEAD OF YOUR TIME.
    IF YOU ARE RIGHT AND YOU KNOW IT,SPEAK YOUR MIND.EVEN IF YOU ARE A MINORITY OF ONE,THE TRUTH IS STILL THE TRUTH.”

    Truth once seen,can never be unseen,because the mind once expanded by true knowledge,cannot return to its original smaller size.
    What I’m seeing here is that by debating we are trying to PLEASE THE WHITE MAN,BY SAYING I THINK BETTER THAN THIS OTHER BLACK PERSON.

    FOR THOSE WHO HAVE THE MOVIE,DJANGO,TRY TO WATCH IT,AND IN THAT MOVIE,THERE ARE TWO CHARACTERS,”DJANGO AND STEVEN.”IT’S EITHER ANDILE IS DJANGO OR STEVEN,,,OR JULIUS IS DJANGO OR STEVEN.BOTH OF THOSE CHARACTERS ARE BLACK,BUT NON OF THEM IS FIGHTING FOR THE LIBERATION OF A BLACK PERSON.

    If you remember very well,the T-SHIRTS OF THE THEN ANCYL,WERE WRITTEN,”ECONOMIC FREEDOM IN OUR LIFETIME.ASIJIKI.”

    IF ANY OF MY POST MAKE ANYBODY FEEL A CERTAIN WAY,GOOD.THAT IS WHY I POSTED IT.

    Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe says,”LET ME PLEAD WITH YOU,LOVERS OF MY AFRIKA,TO CARRY WITH YOU INTO THE WORLD,THE VISION OF A NEW AFRIKA.”He further says,”THE PHILOSOPHY OF AFRIKANISM HOLDS OUT THE HOPE OF A GENUINE DEMOCRACY BEYOND THE STORMY SEA OF STRUGGLE..”

    THE ENEMY OF THE BLACK AFRIKANS IS NOT ANOTHER BLACK PERSON,BUT THE WHITE SETTLERS WHOSE INTENTIONS ARE TO LOOT,ENSLAVE,AND IMPOVERISH US.
    AFRIKA IS RICH,AND ITS CHILDRENS ARE POOR,AND DYING OF STARVATION.

    IN CLOSING,ROBERT SOBUKWE SAYS,”HERE IS A TREE ROOTED IN AFRIKAN SOIL,NOURISHED WITH WATERS FROM THE RIVERS OF AFRIKA.COME AND SIT UNDER ITS SHADE AND BECOME WITH US,THE LEAVES OF THE BRANCH,AND THE BRANCHES OF THE SAME TREE.”

    AFRIKANS UNITE OR PERISH.

    Like

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