Saturday, 5 May 2012

What we need to learn from the working-class of Venezuela by Malaika wa Azania

by Malaika Wa Azania on Monday, March 28, 2011 at 4:07am ·
Yesterday,i attended the debate on the upcoming Local Government elections.It took place at the auditorium of the University of Johannesburg (Kingsway Campus) and in the panel,we had representatives from: the Pan Afrikanist Congress of Azania (PAC),Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP),the Democratic Alliance (DA) as well as the ruling party,the Afrikan National Congress (ANC).Two vital question were posed to the panelists:
1. What factors create/contribute to service delivery protests?
2. What is your party doing about this problem?

All the parties were able to answer the first question,and in summary,identified the following factors as epicentres of service delivery protests:
> lack of access to basic services
> the high level of unemployment
> rising food prices
> corruption in the government
> lack of participation by communities in municipality and provincial engagements
> disgruntled due to an unimproving status quo
These points are all correct.Stagflation is undoubtedly a problem that is manifesting itself in already dejected communities,and this is creating a time-bomb controlled by the masses.

The second question didn't receive the same articulate explanations as the first,simply because all the parties that were present there,knew that they had failed dismally to account to their constituencies and to provide tangible evidence of their accomplishments 17 years into the new dispensation.The statement by Minister Collins Chabane (ANC) that his party had "built houses and improved the lives of many South Afrikans post-apartheid" is laughable,when one considers the colossal gap between the haves and the have-nots,a gap that has earned South Afrika the number 1 spot (according to the United Nations) on the list of the most unequal societies in the world.This is,indeed,a tragic state of affairs.

For me,the most troubling point derived from the debate and,ofcourse,observations and synthesis of the societal conditions in the past two decades,is that contrary to popular belief,NONE of the political parties that are currently registered with the IEC have the political will to radically transform our society.Politics of power and politics of the stomach have substituted politics of the people.It is now a battle for positions rather than the battle for "a better life for all" as promised to us post 1994.

The actions (or lack thereof) of the government that is characterised by affluent lifestyles while the masses can barely make ends meet,has created a new war: the people vs the state.
This war is merciless,but it is undeniably necessary if we're to make progress.The people of SA must realise that the men and women sitting in parliament will NEVER drive a revolution,and so,the onus is on them to create the society that they envisage.And it is possible through mass mobilisation and organising.

Often when we want to emphasise the power of the people,we quote examples that people can't relate to,due to their age in history.A classical example of masses exercising power over oppressive authority is the French Revolution,where the monarchy was shaken to its very foundation.Unfortunately,this happened in 1789.
We can quote the October Revolution in Russian,but it happened in so there's a sense that these are "ancient struggles" that don't make sense in the 21st century and so,we shall reflect on a recent development.

On 11 April 2002 the Venezuelan ruling class and the CIA staged a coup,which ousted the democratically elected president Hugo Chavez.Subsequently the pro-Chavez army and the MASSES lead a campaign that reinstated Chavez as the President of Venezuela.
Like true Socialists,the Chavez government continues with its pro-working class and the poor programme.It is delivering basic services and land reform to the poor.The government is also building local democracy in the factors and communities.

There are 3 things that we must learn from the Venezuelan masses:

1. The power that the people have over any government,democratically elected or otherwise.

2. The understanding that the wealthy may have the resources,but the working class has the capacity.

3. Organising is key.

What have you learned?

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