SAFTU INPUT DELIVERED BY GENERAL SECRETARY ZWELINZIMA VAVI TO THE 45TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MURDER OF STEVE BIKO
The family of OXhamela, Nokwindla, malambedlile abadla Ingusha zamabhulu bathi ziziduli zethafa, nkonjane emnyama ebhebhela phezulu ngokwahlukileyo kwezinye, Tyhopho! Ziyakhahlela impula zikalujaca – ezisebenzayo nezingasebenziyo – bhotani!
President of AZAPO, comrade Nelvis Qekema and the leadership of the AZAPO present today.
President of the PAC, comrade Mzwandile Nnyhontso and leadership of the PAC here present
Allied formations of AZAPO and communities of Ginsberg, Zwelitsha, our continent of Africa and the world over.
45 years ago, wicked white supremacists spewed their hatred on one of the shining stars of the Black Conscious Movement, a towering intellectual, an organizer par excellence, a thinker and colossal giant of the liberation struggle, Bantu Stephen Biko. Steve Biko inspired a generation and his philosophy continues to be a source and fountain of pride for black people across the globe.
The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) joins millions of those generations in marking the 45th anniversary of the brutal killing of Steve Biko. We salute his family and the movement for playing a key role in ensuring that his memory and ideas lives on 45 years after his death.
149 years ago, on the 09 September of 1873 another hero in the struggle against dispossession, land theft, uMaqoma kaNgqika, kaMlawu, kaRharhabe, kaPhalo was killed by Queen Victoria who is an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth who died at 96 years on the 08 September.
It is so disgusting to see some black leaders and other whites in black skins shedding tears for these brutal slave masters who killed millions of Africans over 400 years of colonialism and imperialism of Europe. Steve Biko should be spinning on his grave.
Biko was killed by the white minority regime for his ideals and determination to fight white supremacy – a system that not only believed white people were/are superior to black people but practiced this belief by enacting policies of segregation and separated development across the world. Having usurped our native lands violently, they settled and implemented their policies by actively subjugating our people, exploiting them and humiliated them on daily basis. Black people subsequently occupied the bottom of the pits economically and in the human development index.
These are the ideals Queen Elizabeth II, her predecessors, and the rest of the British and European ruling class perpetuated, defended, sustained and thrived upon. They developed Europe by pillaging other lands in Asia, Africa and America, and used this advantageous position of economic and military domination to carefully craft education tailored to rob the conquered nations confidence and keep them in perpetual complex of inferiority. Biko fought against these ideals and died for such a struggle.
Bantu Biko comrades established, broader Black Consciousness Movement, that closed the political vacuum that existed in the 1960s and opened new centers of organisation and revolts.
Coinciding with the global rise of radicalism during the early 1970s and the re-emergence of labour revolts inside the country, BCM educated and rallied masses of black people to battle in militant struggles against apartheid. This led to the revival of political organisation and grassroot mobilization to fight apartheid, culminating in the SOWETO Student uprising and later, the formation of BAWU, AZAPO, AZASM and other movements that emerged out of the traditions of Black Conscious Movement.
Black People’s Convention
One of the crucial developments during this period was the creation of the Black People’s Convention (BPC). This came out of Biko et al‘s realisation that student politics were limited and different stratas of the black community must be mobilised in the struggle against white supremacy. Through Black Peoples Convention, Biko et al rallied different black organisations of up to 145 at the time of the launch in 1972.
This development and the realisation of the limitations of the membership confined to students, has confronted many waves of organisations that genuinely seek to fight the prevailing system and order, including ourselves today.
Today we are confronted with the question of the fragmentation and compartmentalization of organisations and movements within the working class. During FeesMustFall, students fought virtually alone, and in spite of some solidarity rhetoric, missed the active support of organised labour even though their insourcing victories for low-paid university staff remain inspiring for us all. Community struggles for service delivery, which have earned this country the reputation as protest capital of the world, are also fighting without organised labour and student formations.
Learning from Biko and his generation of BCM towering activists, we are attempting to build a Working Class Movement to unite the marginalised and the exploited. We have realised that fragmentation of the working class only works to weaken the class to fight as a class for itself. In spite of gaining liberal democracy, we must now unite to fight the neoliberal austerity and the capitalist system that has kept the black majority in conditions of deprivation. Just as Biko recognised, our fight will not be over until we win access to quality education, quality healthcare, land, housing, services and state support to women and to restoring the planet’s health at a time of truly lethal capitalist and imperialist attacks.
The Working Class Summit (WCS) process is an attempt at creating a post-apartheid BCP, but there are differences. We have woven more off our base strength within working-class interests, having now clearly understood that the black aspirant bourgeoisie do not have interests of black people at heart, but instead, the interests of the bourgeois class. Likewise, the working class must organise for its interests with the ultimate aim of winning power. This of course is not a new discovery Because the BC Movement made the leap to more explicit class politics particularly in the second half of the 1970s. It’s from those foundations that AZAPO is a party of socialism.
Therefore, SAFTU and its allies in the working class are extending their arm and invitation to all BCM movements that recognize the centrality of the working class in the resolution of the capitalist crisis, to participate actively in the Working Class Movement, in uniting the working class, particularly the black working class in the struggle against neoliberalism and imperialism.