Opinion

#RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall activist Chumani Maxwele defends his ANC membership

Rhodes Must Fall and #FeesMustFall activist Chumani Maxwele has come under fire for supporting the ruling African National Congress. Maxwele posted a series of pictures on his Facebook account over the weekend showing him on the ANC in KwaZulu Natal. Many expressed disappointment that a student activist associated with the decolonization moment could support a party such as the ANC perceived within the Black Consciousness bloc as a sell out movement for compromising justice, that is the return of land, at the altar of reconciliation and the preservation of white privilege during and after the 1994 negotiations. Responding to critics, Maxwele had this to say:

Chumani Maxwele

It was Prof Mangaliso Sobukwe who said ‘we do not know each other we will get to know each other in the struggle’. He said these words because the “radicals” started to claim that he was not a radical because he was a Wits Lecturer.

While we get to know each other in struggle, we must start to ask each other questions about our lives and not assume as to who is the other. Personally, I am not in the business of explaining who am I neither exhibiting who am I nor about making claims about my political ideology.

In 2003, I joined Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) a social movement that was fighting for treatment access for people who were living for with HIV and AIDS. And I was simultaneously an active Branch Executive Member of the African National Congress (ANCYL) and Branch member of the ANC.

In latter years, Abahlali baseMjondolo People’s Movement and I found myself in their protests notwithstanding my membership in the ANC.

Equally, Blackwash and September National Imbizo (SNI) were social movement that sought to raise issues that affected Black people in our state of nervous conditions and I so happen to support this social movement because of their Black Consciousness views in a country that Black people were increasingly being seen as non-beings in our native home.

In the African National Congress there has always been Black Consciousness members. Any fundamental contradictions to this effect is as a result of our living contradictions in the very struggle we are in.

When we started #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall at UCT we did so with a view that our collective state of Blackness – that is informed by a deep sense of nervous condition – will be at the centre of our struggle. From the very onset in our struggle we agreed that we will fight it as Black People first and foremost and thus not as members of political parties that we belong to.

I took this resolution very seriously because as Black students we have always been divided along the lines of party politics even if what we were fighting against was as a result of our Blackness. And we agreed that political badges must be put aside.

For this reason I have never abused my prominence in the these student movements to promote my political party, that is, the ANC. That is why I never wore ANC regalia throughout.

I have never been a nonpartisan but I have always appreciated the strategy of working in a nonpartisan spaces that sought to fight for against the oppression of Black people in our society.

It is this strategy of working in nonpartisan spaces that makes me appreciate working with all Black and White activists be it in the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), Black First Land First (BLF) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

I do not force my political views to others neither do I overtly promote righteousness of the ANC. Comrades make a mistake of assuming about my political party because I do not readily disagree with them in their anti-ANC attacks and they think that I agree with them but I just opt to listen to them and keep on working on the strategy of working in nonpartisan spaces in pursuit of Black people’s total emancipation.

My brothers Masixole Mlandu is in the PAC, Vuyani Pambo is in the EFF and Ncedisa Mpemnyama is in the BLF and we work together very well and there is no confusion about my active involvement in the ANC.

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