As we say farewell to one of our own, we must reassert the ethos of service to our disinherited popular masses. We must reject the cults of personalities and unproductive factionalism that are leading our revolution adrift.
Comrade Sindiso Magaqa, the leader of the Economic Freedom in our Life Time Revolution in South Africa and Africa, has fallen, and yet the symbolic importance of the Secretary-General that exceeded his physical persona in life will unavoidably continue to function long after his death.
Magaqa had the spirit of passion in his conviction, which is necessary to move the world out of its current suffering. For those among us who strive for solidarity, freedom from alienation and to create and live for humanity as a whole, rooted in eternal love for our people, Magaqa’s death has left a hole as gaping as that in Kimberley in our hearts.
“Departing from us, comrade Lenin enjoined us to hold high and guard the purity of the great title of member of the party, we vow to you, comrade Lenin, and we shall fulfil your behest with honour,” wrote Stalin. I had the same words when I was told that one of our own, Comrade Magaqa, was no more.
Magaqa had inculcated in himself the very values of the youth of our country that saw them placing themselves in the front line of our people’s struggle for freedom, subjecting and aligning their interests as youth to and with those of our people as a whole. He was a social facilitator, very principled, and a serious lobbyist of our time. All comrades who come from the youth movement will know what I’m talking about. He was part of the youth of our country and OR Tambo’s young lions who led a spirited campaign and became the lifeblood of our heroic struggles. A loyal member of the ANC.
He always subjected and submitted himself to the processes and principles of his organisation, the ANC. He did this with the knowledge that, despite growing pains and what seems like never-ending confusion, the ANC remains the only vehicle through which we can effect positive change in our communities.
It was the late Comrade President Oliver Tambo in 1981 at the funeral of Joe Gqabi who reminded us: “The future is bright. The end is glorious; it is peaceful. But the intervening period is dark, bitter and finds its glory in the act of struggle.” In line with the words of President Tambo, Comrade Sindiso is part of this glory because his life has been exclusively one of struggle for his people, for mankind.
He understood that the abolition of the colonial-apartheid system of governance and its attended institutions did not resolve the conflict between the social democratic idea, as expressed in the National Democratic Revolution, and the reality of largely racialised social divisions. A great deal of work remains to be done. There still remains an urgent need to achieve an estate of equal citizenship for the historically marginalised black, particularly African, people, not just in theory but as a matter of socio-economic fact. As we pay tribute to this gallant fighter today this process of social democratisation, though advanced, largely because of deliberate policies of the ANC, remains incomplete.
We have no need for a litany of statistics for the purposes of this intervention. The plain fact is that black Africans are vastly and proportionally over-represented among those who suffer the maladies and afflictions of social marginality in South Africa, however this is measured. African communities are among the most miserable, violent, and despairing places in this land of fabulous wealth. The prisons are overflowing with young African black men, rates of infection with HIV and other chronic diseases are unacceptably and terrifyingly high in poor African communities, African communities experience lower life expectancies, higher infant mortality rates, lower levels of academic achievement, higher poverty rates, and greater unemployment.
Thus, it is mind-boggling that in the midst of an acute socio-economic emergency, the party of that imminent son of our revolution, Tambo, should be bound hand and foot by unproductive factional intrigues. The factional fractures have become unbridgeable ideological chasms. On the one hand, a faction much maligned by the white-owned media and the chattering classes, distinguished by its callous incompetence and a lackadaisical attitude towards public finances, has sloppily and belatedly donned itself with “revolutionary” garments. On the other hand, we have a faction of cynical snake-oil salesmen who are wont on insisting that the National Democratic Revolution as a governing ethos can have no other function than to serve and safeguard the interests and economic-cultural domination of white monopoly capital, which they insist, astonishingly, is a figment of our imagination.
The net effect of these factional contrivances has been the incremental socio-cultural civic excommunication of the oldest liberation movement on the African continent. There has been a marked demoralisation on the constituent elements of the National Democratic Revolution as expressed in the worrisome results of the 2016 local government elections.
As we say farewell to one of our own, we must reassert the ethos of service to our disinherited popular masses. We must reject cults of personalities and unproductive factionalism that are leading our revolution adrift. We must categorically and boldly assert that white monopoly capital is the enemy of a sovereign people, and adopt policies that unflinchingly challenge power of the finance-industrial resource white complex. Equally, we must send an unequivocal message to the contemptuous philistine section that we lost our best sons and daughters in the struggle to liberate this country. We will therefore not mortgage the inheritance of our forebears for defiled pieces of silver!
During the course of the current struggle Sandiso Magaqa became to me and other comrades a source of great wisdom and sanity. Consistent with his calm demeanour and gentle personality, we always knew that in the cause of confusion, conflict and contending views, he would always be among the few to calm the noise and ensure sanity prevailed. He was indeed a rare breed.
I met Comrade Sindiso many years ago while he was still serving in the ANCYL and ANC structures in Umzimkhulu. Comrades will remember the famous Umzimkhulu Eastern Cape Youth League Congress that Comrade Magaqa led with song. From that time he always displayed strong leadership capabilities.
It was with a great sense of honour that we later served in the same National Executive Committee of the ANCYL. Without a doubt, that is the generation that signalled a turning point in the body politic of our country. When we collectively faced persecution as a result of the views we collectively held, Comrade Sindiso was unrelenting but remained committed to our generational mission of Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime, a mission he died pursuing.
He understood that the primary role of the ANC, as the steward of civic cohesion, insurer of geopolitical integrity, guarantor of social progress, and a depository of historic experience, is to direct society’s gaze to the verita effettuale (effective truth) of national redemption, commonly known as the National Democratic Revolution. This task must be undertaken with revolutionary moral clarity and energy.
Magaqa had a true sense of service to his people. He did not outsource his historic responsibility to corporate profiteers. He understood the saying that rapacious capital is not in the business of nation building. The importance of Magaqa in the history of the post-colonial world is monumental because he won the real battle of putting the national question of our economy on the country’s agenda against imperialist domination.
Lala ngoxolo Dzanibe, Nqolo, Gabongapheli, Mahlambahlaletsheni Ngobeswel’ Ithawula. Your name and work will endure and transcend generations to come. Farewell to our El Commandante. We will forever salute this outstanding revolutionary, young lion, and make the call like Che Guevara, Hasta La Victoria Siempre. DM
Andile Lungisa, PEC ANC Eastern Cape Province and former Deputy President ANCYL