Friday, 27 July 2012


Violence against women and girls continues unabated in every continent, country and culture. It takes a devastating toll on women’s lives, on their families, and on society as a whole. Most societies prohibit such violence — yet the reality is that too often, it is covered up or tacitly condoned.”

Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General


A few years ago something happened that changed the way I viewed the world. A woman whom I knew was raped in my township of Meadowlands zone 8 in Soweto. Although she was older than me and thus, we were never really acquainted, I had seen her around the neighbourhood frequently and knew her only by sight. I also knew that she was openly lesbian. She was raped by a group of men who wanted to “cure” her of her homosexuality. This woman, whom I had never seen committing any acts of crime or doing anything that could be considered harmful to the community, was brutally violated by a group of men who also lived in our neighbourhood. After they had committed the savage act, they proceeded to assault her, leaving her lying in a pool of her own blood, where she was discovered later by members of the community, who found her unconscious.

It was not so much the act that shocked me, though that in it would have shocked anyone into paralysis. What hit me hard was the reaction of the zone 8 Meadowlands community to this inhuman act. Most people down-played the ruthless actions of the rapists and to a great extent, legitimised them. It was whispered in corners – by elders of the community – that the woman had “asked for it” because her actions were “undermining” men, with whom she was allegedly attempting to be equal. Some even went as far as to insinuate that indeed, the rape would “remind” her that she is a woman and thus, “cleanse” her of the disease that was afflicting her. The disease, according to them, was homosexuality. Apparently, it was a disease for two women to love each other. Apparently, loving another woman rated in the same level as having tumours in your cervix or leucocytes.


I was reminded of this story by another, more tragic one which took place only a few weeks ago in our beloved country. A young man from Kuruman in the Northern Cape province, Thapelo Makutle suffered a fate more diabolical. His body was found under a blanket with his throat cut and tongue removed and parts of his genitals had been cut off and placed in his mouth. According to reports, Makutle was killed over an argument as to whether he was transsexual or gay. By definition, a transsexual is a “person born with the physical characteristics of one sex who emotionally and psychologically feels that they belong to the opposite sex”. This is different to a gay person in that gay people, also known as homosexuals, are persons who are attracted to people of their same sex. This means men who are sexually attracted to other men and women to other women.

Another story that came back to my mind, which for almost a year I have refused to accept could have happened in our beloved country, is the one of yet another young Black girl whose life was brutally brought to an end for her sexual orientation. Noxolo Nogwaza, a 24 year old lesbian, was found lying in an alley in Kwa-Thema (Gauteng province) at about on the 24th of April 2011. Noxolo’s head was completely deformed. Both of her eyes were removed out of the sockets. Her head underwent so much blunt trauma that her brain matter had spilt out onto the ground. Her jaw was butchered so severely that her teeth were found scattered all around her dead body. Her face, once resembling an ebony sculptured beauty was crushed beyond recognition. Witnesses said that an empty beer bottle and a used condom were shoved up inside her genitals. Parts of the rest of her body had been stabbed with broken glass and when some of it was seen protruding from her dead flesh. A large pavement brick that is believed to have been used to crash her head was found by her side, covered in her blood.

Zoliswa Nkonyana was a 19 year old lesbian living in the Western Cape. One night while she was walking home from a local tavern in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, six men beat her to death with a golf club because she of nothing other than the fact that she was lesbian. Her father, who knew and accepted his daughter’s sexuality, witnessed her being killed. But in a township where to stand up against injustice is to sign your own death wish, he was too afraid for his own life to stop the killing of his own flesh and blood.

In 2008, yet another Black lesbian was viciously murdered in the same area where Noxolo had met her death. On a cold April morning, the body of Eudy Simelane, former star of South Afrika's acclaimed Banyana Banyana national female football squad, was found in a creek in a park located in Kwa-Thema. Simelane had been gang-raped and brutally beaten before being stabbed 25 times in the face, chest and legs. She too, like Noxolo, was found lying in a pool of her own blood. Simelane was an activist and equality rights campaigner and one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in Kwa Thema. When asked why they had beaten her up so viciously, the men who attacked her said that she was “fighting us back like a man”.

Madoe Mafubedu was a 16 year old who was repeatedly raped and stabbed until she died.

On a Sunday morning, the 7th of July 2007, two other Black women lost their lives in this war against lesbians. Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Masooa were found murdered next to a dumpsite in Meadowlands, the township where I was born and raised. Sigasa was found with her hands tied with her underpants and her ankles tied with her shoelaces, with three bullet holes in her head and three in her collarbone. According to some reports, they were tortured before being executed by the cruel murderers.

Other openly lesbian women who suffered the same brutality a few years ago in the Western Cape province include Luleka Makiwane. Makiwane was viciously raped by her cousin a few years before she died. She was a virgin. She contracted Cryptococci meningitis, a result of her HIV infection and died of AIDS in 2005 as a result of that rape.

In the Eastern Cape, yet another case of corrective rape that ought to have been engraved in our collective minds happened. A 24 year old lesbian named Nomsa Bizana was gang raped by five men at a party in Mthatha. Nomsa had been lured to the party by a “friend” who it later turned out had plotted with the five men to rape her friend as a way of “curing” her of homosexuality. Like the other women I have mentioned, Nomsa died. She died of complications as a direct result of the heinous assault.

There have also been many survivors, if they may even be called that, for how does anyone be called a survivor when their humanness has been killed? There is no such thing as a rape survivor; there is only a raped man and a raped woman. And one can even argue that rape is worse than murder, because with rape, even as you die inside, you still have to go through the motions of being alive.

A few months ago, a 13 year old girl was violently raped in the township of Atteridgeville in Pretoria, for coming out about her sexuality. A Cape Town Black lesbian, Millicent Gaika (pictured), also suffered the same fate. Returning from a night with her friends, the woman was raped for a gruelling five hours by a man who kept saying to her: “I know you are a lesbian. You are not a man, you think you are, but I am going to show you, you are a woman. I am going to make you pregnant…” But it was not the first time that Millicent was subjected to this brutality. In 2002, she had been gang-raped by four men for the same reasons.

The stories that I have quoted, shocking though they may be, are only the tip of an iceberg. There are many others like this. Black lesbians are being raped in our townships on a daily basis and we continue to debate and discuss every other issue except this one. It is herculean a task to even raise this matter because most people, even comrades who are supposed to have undergone a process of mental decolonisation and emancipation, are dismissive of the question of homosexuality and like the men who violate these women, believe that homosexuality. Unlike these monsters who take this a step further by “curing” lesbians, male comrades opt to simply turn a blind eye to this cruel injustice, refusing to label it for what it really is: a hate crime.


Our country is facing many challenges that are born out of the legacy of colonialism and of apartheid. These problems are all products of the three great contradictions of class, race and the gender questions. While the majority of our people are victims of the first two, the latter is one that is designed to afflict mainly Black women (in particular those in rural areas and those who are lesbians). There is no argument that gay men, transvestites and other members of the populace are also victims of this issue. However, the reality of the situation is that those most at risk are Black women. Black lesbian women are thus the most wretched of the earth, for they suffer the triple oppression of classism, racism and sexism, but on the latter, the brutality is more pronounced.

The native majority of our country was dispossessed of its land and resources by a settler minority that appropriated itself ownership and control of our people’s sources of wealth (minerals and land). This resulted in the birth of apartheid, which, though only made a formal policy in 1948, had long been practised by the settler minority. The segregation, dehumanisation and killing of natives became characteristics of this policy. In 1994 this narrative closed its chapter when the country became a democratic republic. There is no debating that constructs of apartheid continue to be present; because for as long as the bulk of the country’s wealth remains in the hands of a few, the structural inequalities persist. So Black women, on top of being heirs to the throne of these inequalities and subjects of subjugation as a result of their pigmentation, are also heirs to the thorny throne of humiliation, more so if they are lesbians. Shocking though it may sound, the government of the Republic of South Africa is doing very little to address the humiliation that is experienced by lesbians.

The response from the government to the cases reported by homosexual women and the cases where these women have been killed is appalling to say the least. Only 1 in every 4 of the reported cases goes to court and even then, just over 4% of the cases result in the conviction of the perpetrator. Mathematically, that means more than 92% of the perpetrators of the rapes and murders go free. (A study conducted by Action Aid and published in March 2009 reported that between 1998 and 2003, at least 31 cases of corrective rape were reported. Of these 31, only 1 resulted in a conviction). The report goes on to say:

It’s also worth noting that the law on hate crime is narrowly interpreted by the courts as only applying on the basis of race and gender. If they take it into account at all, judges will only consider sexual orientation as an aggravating factor when sentencing. They will not take it into account as part of the evidence. What this means practically is that the National Prosecuting Authority and the police do not record hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation or collect evidence on this aspect of the case. Few or no resources are put into tackling this kind of crime.” (HATE CRIMES, THE RISE OF CORRECTIVE RAPE IN SOUTH AFRICA)

 It cannot be correct that as a society we do not bring this issue into our discourse. Those of us, who claim to be agents of positive change and those who want to gear their energies towards the development of South Afrika and indeed, the Afrikan continent, have a responsibility to force this discussion into our national discourse so that the stigmatisation of Black lesbians in our communities ceases to find expression. As students who have the privilege of being pioneers of a better South Afrika, the task of massifying these debates and debunking myths that are designed to oppress lies in our hands.

 I conclude this paper with a quote from a great revolutionary, former president of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara, who said:

“The emancipation of women is not an act of charity, the result of a humanitarian or compassionate attitude. The liberation of women is a fundamental necessity for the Revolution, the guarantee of its continuity and the precondition for its victory. The main objective of the Revolution is to destroy the system of exploitation and build a new society which releases the potentialities of human beings... This is the context within which women`s emancipation arises”

Malaika Wa Azania

Student number: g12m1506

1st year BSS (Geological Sciences)

Member of the South African Students Congress (SASCO)

Cell phone number: 076 538 1557 or 079 421 4315

Thursday, 19 July 2012


"A soldier without revolutionary theory is nothing but a potential murderer." - Thomas Isidore Sankara (former leader of Burkina Faso)


The African National Congress (ANC) is celebrating its centenary this year. The ANC, which was launched on the 8th of January 1912 in Bloemfontein in the Free State province, has been the ruling party since South Afrika had its first democratic elections eighteen years ago. The formation of the ANC in 1912 was by no means an accident of history. It was a continuation of the anti-colonial struggle of the oppressed people of South Afrika which had began with the birth of colonialism in the Afrikan continent. It was a logical development of a history defined by centuries of colonial imposition and constitutionalised segragation of the native majority.

On the 31st of May 1910, the South Afrikan Act of Union was ratified by the South Afrikan Parliament after it had been passed by the British House of Commons the year before. This Act was based on a Colour Bar Clause, which basically excluded Black people from being eligible to become members of Parliament and thus, consolidated White hegemony within the system. This Act had significant ramifications for the natives of this land, because it meant that the South Afrikan Parliament would have no Black representative in whatever decisions it would make on the future of this country and thus, there would be no Black voice to legally and constitutionally address problems affecting the natives. But even prior to the ratification of the SA Act of Union, the natives of this land had already been suffering brutality in the hands of the settler minority, as witnessed prior to the events that would lead to the Battle of Isandlwana in 1879 and less than half a century later, the Bambatha Rebellion of 1906. All these events in history created conditions and grounds for the formation of an organised convergence of the oppressed and colonised natives of South Afrika and it was on the 8th of January 1912 that a logical conclusion was arrived at: the formation of a movement that would seek to represent all Black people in a quest to defeat constructs of their oppression.

Since the formation of the ANC in 1912, our country has undergone various stages and phases of struggle and as a result, while the ANC has not changed its orientation in terms of its aims and objectives, its posture has taken on a different shape and form in order to enable it to respond to the different stages and phases of the struggle itself. A brief illustration of this can be highlighted in terms of what posture the ANC has taken since the three most important turning points in our struggle against colonial oppression: the 1950s, the 1960s and the late 1980s.

During the 1940s, the ANC had assumed a posture largely influenced by a philosophy of resistance similar to Gandhiism. This philosophy of non-violence and passive resistance, was embraced by those within and outside the ANC who held a belief that it was possible to negotiate for the rights of the oppressed with the system. But others within and outside the ANC, in particular the Communists, were not in support of this particular method of struggle as they argued (and correctly so, as history would later prove) that this method would bear no fruit. Proving true the concerns of this latter faction, the Afrikan continent found itself swept with a tidal wave of political activity in the 1940s, a wave which would, a decade later, result in the independence of Ghana (the first Afrikan country to gain independence), of Tunisia and of numerous other countries. This wave was driven by young people, many of them active in trade unions which had grown exponentially over the years, who were militant and radical both in thought and in deed. Thus, in 1944 in the city of Johannesburg, the ANC Youth League was formed, led by the fiercely militant and dynamic Anton Mziwakhe Lembede as president. As a result of the formation of the ANCYL, the ANC's resistance philosophy was forced to change, to adapt to the radicalism of its youth component, which was clearly highlighted through its Program of Action as adopted in 1949, which, following the YL's motto of "Afrika's Cause Must Triumph", raised a stinging point aimed at the White minority who, a year previously in 1948, had made apartheid a formal policy, that:
"We believe that the national liberation of Afrikans will be achieved by Afrikans themselves. We reject foreign leadership of Afrika..."
This defined the first turning point of our struggle; the politicisation of youth, guided by principles of pan Afrikanism.

In the 1950s, the ANC as the most notable liberation movement in the country, continued in its quest to reason with the gatekeepers of the oppressive system of apartheid, going as far as to, in the Freedom Charter adopted in 1955, call for the unity of all races and the equal distribution of the land and all resources that were in the hands of the White settler minority (this had been as a result of the 1913 Land Act, through which the White minority was appropriated 90 percent of land while the native majority was forced to share the remaining 10 percent).
This semi passive posture of the ANC was spun on its axis in the 1960 when the Nationalist government put a straw on the camel that would finally break the camel's back. This straw was the Sharpeville/Langa massacre, an event that would result in the deaths of innocent people and the arrests of many key leaders of various political organisations, including the Pan Afrikanist Congress of Azania which was under the leadership of Robert Sobukwe. With many leaders arrested and the brutality of the state having reached boiling point, all political organisations and national liberation movements, including the ANC, were forced to go underground. But that marked not the end, but the beginning of the struggle, for in 1960, first the PAC's armed wing, Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA) and then later in 1961 the ANC's uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), entered into an armed struggle with the Nationalist government that would last for almost 30 years. This marked a serious and perhaps the most important turning point in our liberation struggle.

The last major turning point that shaped the ANC's posture, philosophically and otherwise, happened in the late 1980s and early 1990s, after the abandonment of the armed struggle in favour of negotiations. When the ANC realised the impracticality of continuing with the armed struggle (and many who have not studied the history of the world during this particular period of the late 1980s will have no appreciation of the fact that continuing an armed struggle was not sustainable), taking into consideration the serious ramifications of the collapse of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics in 1989, it opted for a negotiated settlement with the hope that it could realise the objectives set out in the Freedom Charter that it had been adopted in 1955 prior to the armed struggle. This proved possible when, in 1994, the ANC emerged victorious when the Republic of South Afrika had its first democratic elections. With two-thirds majority win, the ANC looked set to finally bring to a logical conclusion its historical mission of uniting Afrikans and obliterating constructs of White hegemony and oppression.


The ANC is today, a 100 years old, making it the oldest liberation movement in the Afrikan continent. But what is it that has sustained the ANC beyond the liberation struggle era, where its relevance was most pronounced? What is it that has made the ANC emerge out of an abyss that claimed the lives of other political formations and national liberation movements such as the PAC and the Azanian People's Organisation (AZAPO), which had been just as instrumental in the fight against apartheid and whose ideological outlook remains relevant and most necessary?
This is where the Facebook debate enters.

While other former national liberation movements in South Afrika and indeed in the entire Afrikan continent have been thrown into the dustbins of history, the ANC has remained alive. And while it cannot be argued that the ANC itself is currently finding itself in a very difficult position wherein its own relevance has come under harsh scrutiny, we must note and appreciate that the factors that have led to the deterioration of the ANC are informed more by the actions of its leadership more than by the extrinsic material conditions that are prevailing on the Afrikan continent; conditions related to the posture of politics, the current challenges as it relates to the geopolitical and socio-economical milieu. It is not these ideological issues that are informing the slow death of the ANC but rather, issues relating to maladministration, misappropriation of resources, tenderpreneurism, careerism and all other components of corruption. As such, it is not the relevance of the ANC that we ought to question, but the effectiveness of it under these conditions which are of its own creation.

The ANC is sustained by two things: its history and its versatility. By this I mean that the ANC is kept alive by the glorious legacy of its history and its uncontested barometer of won struggles. It cannot be denied, even by the most reactionary of people, that the ANC has made a lot of revolutionary gains in its years of struggle. But this alone cannot be the only thing keeping the ANC alive, because if it was, other liberation movements, in particular the PAC that is identified with some of the most important victories of our struggle and even seen to be the best and most capable embodiment of the Afrikan agenda, would not be in the comatose state that they find themselves in. The second thing that sustains the ANC is its versatility, its ability to adapt to whatever prevailing material conditions it finds itself in. In a debate I had with my father, comrade and loyal member of the ANC, Mike Maile, at home one evening in 2011, I asked him why inspite of its state of decay, internally and otherwise, the ANC still enjoys so much support. His response was very powerful:
"Malaika, the ANC has perfected something that all other former national liberation movements are failing to master, and that is the ability to read the material conditions in a way that will enable them to respond in the most appropriate manner..."
In simple terms, the ANC is able to read the prevailing material conditions correctly and thus, is able to respond to them accordingly. It does not immerse itself in dogmatic approach to any issue, be it the issue of electioneering, of mobilising, of organising or anything else. This is why the ANC remains in touch with the people: it speaks to their issues in a language that they understand.

Understanding this history of the ANC's response to different material conditions historically and presently is important, because it informs my argument that Facebook can be used to strengthen a political organisation and student movement in a way that will ensure its sustainability and renewed relevance.


While social media in its entirety has the potential to assist political organisations and student movements to achieve certain objectives that inform their existence, I want to focus mainly on Facebook, which is one of the biggest social network utilities in South Afrika and in the rest of the world. According to Digital Statistics SA, there are currently no less than 10.7 million active Facebook accounts in South Afrika. According to the most recent census as conducted by the South Afrikan government late last year, there are approximately 52 million people living in South Afrika. That means 20.6 percent of the population, only 4.4 percent short of a whole quarter, is active on Facebook. (I've not included other social networks such as Twitter, MySpace and others that also enjoy a large active user number). This figure is not to be taken for granted, because if you want to break it down into geographical measurements, it means that all the users of Facebook in South Afrika can replace the population of Cuba, which stands at 11.2 million according to latest statistics released by the Department of State Web Site of the United Snakes of AmeriKKKa.

Yet, despite this great number of people being on Facebook, we have not seen much progressive programmes or mass actions being sparked as a result of its usage, and this begs the question of: Why can a country as historically conservative as Tunisia have an uprising in which people were mobilised and organised on Facebook and yet a country as historically militant as South Afrika fail to do the same since both countries are faced with the same challenges of lack of service delivery, unemployment, corruption in government and a food other forms of oppressions?

The answer to this question lies, perhaps, in the phases of struggle in which both these countries find themselves. Tunisia is a country whose history and politics (recent and otherwise) is characterised by decades of dictatorship, censorship and voyeurism. Currently, its biggest struggle is to decentralise power and resources. South Afrika, on the other hand, is a country whose politics are characterised by corruption, careerism, patronage and political clientellism. Its greatest challenge currently is to break free from chains of economic bondage, hence its objective in the new dispensation is to obtain economic freedom. As a result of these different phases of a struggle, the players in the two different phases will differ. In South Afrika, the roleplayers that are driving (or sinking) the struggle are careerists, opportunists and proponents of corruption. For such people to continue existing and occupying spaces of power, they need to resort to what I call depoliticised politics, which are politics that lack political substance but are sustained by personalisation. This personalisation involves character assassination, slander, grandstanding and all other methods that are designed to weaken dissent. As a result, the political language is itself slanderous, malicious and lacking in substance. All this is then expressed on all platforms of communication; from congresses where commissions have ceased to be important, to press statements that represent factional agendas and of course, to social networks where the populace converges to communicate. It is for this reason that Facebook is used for all things nefarious; things that do not build, but destroy organisations.

We have witnessed, particularly in the recent past, how Facebook has become the greatest vehicle for the promotion of ill-discipline and destructive factionalism in many political parties and particularly in student movements, all of which I've followed over the last 2 years for my own personal reasons. It was through this observation that one noticed that these political formations use Facebook to:

1) Insult fellow comrades

Facebook is used by comrades to settle scores and to spew vitriol at one another when dissent arises even on the most trivial of views. When comrades don't agree on issues, insulting one another has become the most used method of retaliation. Debate has been obliterated from discourse.

2) Spread malicious rumours about fellow comrades that could be damaging to their reputations

Facebook has been used to tarnish the images of many comrades by their fellow comrades with whom a common struggle objective is shared. It has become a norm for comrades to decampaign one another by fabricating false stories and spreading them where they know they'll impact, on Facebook.

3) Create groups where even the most reserved of members of an organisation can be brave enough to say all sorts of destructive things about an organisation; things that they would not say in organisational gatherings such as AGMs, BGMs or congresses

4) Strengthen factions
Facebook has been used as ammunition reserved for factional wars. Comrades converge on the social network to plot the downfall of other comrades that is informed by nothing but personal vendettas and squabbles that are not informed by ideology.

5) Breach security

It has become normal for comrades to post status updates about internal matters of an organisation while inside a congress or meeting venue. This one is a cancer that WILL destroy many organisations. Comrades have gotten into a dangerous habbit of updating statuses about even the most confidential of organisational matters. You'll find people updating details about closed sessions of a congress on Facebook. Many of us who are not members of those organisation are made aware of financial reports of organisations, of details about NEC meetings and of internal challenges existing within organisations that only leadership ought to know. And the efficiency and speed in which such information is nationalised is certainly very frightening.
If certain NEC members fight in what is meant to be a private NEC meeting, the whole world know it within a few minutes because some member within the NEC will have decided to update about such a matter and thus, undermine the organisation and its leaders.


It is not inherent that Facebook or social media will be used for the issues that have been outlined above. With its potential power, it can be used to redirect energies to more progressive and positive things that will build and strengthen the organisation.
Below are ten positive usages of Facebook that if applied, can go a long way in strengthening political organisations and student movements:

1) Create groups where all members of an organisation converge to discuss their organisational matters

2) Create pages to announce upcoming events

3) Create reminders about important events of organisations so that members do not forget to attend

4) Share notes of political literature with comrades of your organisation so that you capacitate one another and thus, build a strong think-tank for the organisation

5) Avail press statements to members of the organisation and the public

6) Hold discussions and debates with members of your organisation about topical issues and important news of the day and in that way, sharpen each other's views

7) Publicise campaigns that your organisation has taken up and in that way, mobilise the support of the common masses

8) Network. There are many influential people on Facebook, from politicians to business people. You can connect with them and then grow a strong professional relationship outside Facebook. You'll then be better placed to get funding or other kinds of assistance from these people.

9) Investigate potential responses. For example: if an organisation wants to launch a campaign and it's not sure how its members and the general public will react, it can start a debate around the matter without letting the public in on its tactic. From the response it can make strategic decisions that are likely to enjoy support or abandon those that are likely to be received with hostility

10) Lobby


While it can be used effectively to communicate and to drive positive agendas, Facebook must never be mistaken as a sole tool for mobilisation and organising. It remains one part of a greater chromatin network that political organisations and student movements need to use in order to sustain their politics and maintain their relevance. There is no other solution to making a change than to going where it matters most: on the ground. It is there where all the ideas that are produced can be tested, and there where the people are.

Social media or networks must be exploited by political organisations and student movements to massify their voice. But to rely on Facebook without going down to the ground, to rely on Facebook without engaging in mass protests, in pickets, in physical political schools and in contact debate, is not the solution. We must learn from the Tunisians to use social media to network and to do some minor mobilisation, which we must then use to go out into our spaces and organise the people, without whom there can be no uprising, no revolts and no revolution.


Just as the ANC is able to read material conditions correctly and respond to them accordingly, those who understand the power and importance of social media will respond with renewed positivity so that they strengthen their organisations rather than continue to fragment them as we witness today. If political parties and student movements don't attend to this issue of the misuse of Facebook urgently, they run the risk of sending their organisations into the dustbin of history.

Aluta continua!
Meli, F. 1988. "HISTORY OF THE ANC: SOUTH AFRICA BELONGS TO US". Southern Afrika: Zimbabwe Publishing House

Malaika Wa Azania
Minister of Land Affairs 2033

Cellphone number: 076 538 1557 or 079 421 4315

Email address: or


It's not "Goodbye" to comrade Wandile Mkhize, but "See you later"

I am one of those people who is not emotional about death. In my view, not only is death inevitable, it is also necessary to the evolution of society and the cycle of life. Without death there would be no life and without life, there would be nothingness. I have felt the sadness of losing a loved one. Thirteen years ago my uncle was gunned down as he was in the process of disarming security guards at the Dobsonville Shopping Complex. His brain matter was splattered all over the dustry streets of Messi Park, his head riddled with multiple bullets that were intended to end his life. As he lay in hospital fighting for his life, I watched as my family fell apart. And then a nurse, at that time I thought she was heartless, suggested that the life-machine that was keeping him alive be switched off because he was clinically dead and would not survive the head wounds. My family didn't agree to this, of course, but shortly after the nurse made this suggestion, Godfrey Motsamai Mahlatsi took his last breath and departed this earth. A girl of 8 at the time, my devastation knew no limits. Following that, I learned to deal with death much better, to understand it, to welcome it and to make sense of it. I simply concluded that just as science teaches us that what goes up must come down, life ought to teach us that what is born must also die. I was this rational and calm about death until this morning when I was informed about the death of comrade Wandile Mkhize.

I am not going to claim that the comrade and I were the best of friends. On the contrary. We agreed on very little and more often than not, were engaged in bitter political debates that would often tither on the brink of the personal. At one point, while chatting on inbox about a disagreement we had just had on his wall, I boldly told him that I don't like him much. And it was true. I did not like the comrade much, but I respected him immensely. I respected him because he was one of very few comrades I know who would always keep a level head about engagements even when insults would have been justified. Never, not even when I openly and arrogantly disrespected him, did the comrade resort to insults or petty means of engagements. He always treated my views with respect. Even when they contradicated his own, he would salvage the good in them and point it out, even if it was just to say that the argument was posed intelligently, flawed though its substance may be. That is who Wandile Mkhize was to me: an older comrade who engaged me rationally, whom I did not necessarily like much, but whose opinion mattered to me because of the potential to help me grow intellectually.

As indicated, the death of this comrade, in particular its nature, has shaken me to the very core. The reasons why a young man had to meet his end in such a violent manner might never be fully understood. However, what is fully understood is that a young man died. He was gunned down. He was killed. He was murdered. He was butchered by some thug(s) who have very little respect for human life. Some thug(s) who did not pause for a minute to think about what his/their actions would do to the Mkhize family, the Mass Democratic Movement family and the Afrikan family to whom comrade Wandile pledged his loyalty and dedicated his ideas. At no point between the aiming of the pistol and the pulling of the trigger did the thug(s) pause to think that this continent is in dire need of critical thinkers of comrade Wandile's calibre, and that only such thinkers hold the key to the true emancipation of the continent that finds itself in an abyss characterised by poverty, destitution, disease and economic bondage. No. This person(s) had one motive and that was to make comrade Wandile a statistic. This brutality alone is not what shocks me, for I have lived long enough in this apathetic and desensitised country to know that evil lurks in every corner. It is not the coldness of the murder that has me shaking in fear and trembling with fright as I watch the sun rise on the horizon. It is the implications of it that is threatening to paralyse me. It is the meaning of this diabolical crime that is suffocating the air out of my lungs.

Whether comrade Mkhize died for his views or was involved in some kind of dealings is yet to be determined. But whatever the issue, it seems plausible that the motive has elements of being political. This is in no way a dismisal of the possibility that the hit could have been for personal reasons that have nothing to do with his political life. But that possibility, in the face of the involvement of this comrade in political activities and the current political climate of the country, is as improbable as the possibility that there can be a megaquake in the country today. And so it leaves us with one feasible conclusion, that comrade Wandile's death was politically motivated. If so, there are severe implications for this country: (a) we have enetered into an epoch where guns have replaced dialogue (b) young people will no longer be interested in pursuing the political struggle which has the potential to claim their lives (c) those already in that struggle are at risk (d) to dissent is to invite death.


If comrade Wandi died for his views, then that means we've created an intolerant society where violence is accepted as a tool of rehabilitation, a method of punishment and a rule of engagement. This means that when we fail to convince other comrades with substance, we can justify pulling the trigger on their heads. And if this is the reality, if guns have replaced debate, it is not too much of an exageration to say that some day, we'll be entering congresses with guns and other types of weapons. When we don't agree with views, we'll just shoot each other, because that is how we communicate as a society.


Not since the dawn of a democratic dispensation has our country been this strongly gripped by depoliticisation. Our youth, once drivers of our liberation struggle vehicle, have become agents of pop culture, crass materialism and anti-politicisation. In this age, political consciousness is at its lowest and we are eternally grateful when young people show an eagerness to be involved in the current struggle, to make a stand and have a voice. So when young people, already skeptical about being involved in active politics, hear of comrades Sbu and now comrade Wandile, who were both gunned down like animals, what are they supposed to think but that the political arena is an abbatoir where human life is nothing? And these young people, why would they want to join politics when the political arena has become a platform for the donation of one's life? We must now accept that our youth will not join this struggle, because in the end, no-one wants to die like these comrades are dying. Not when life is an alternative.


As the news of comrade Wandile's death sunk in, I couldn't help but think of all my comrades who are actively involved in politics, both within and outside the congress movement. My bestfriends, Liyanda Maphanga, Mafika Mndebele, Phindile sisters in arms, Nombulelo Nyathela, Palesa Mphamo, Whitney Mokitimi, Samukelisiwe brothers in arms, Mlondi Mkhize, Awethu Amandla Zumana, Lazola Ndamase, Vusi Oldman Mahlangu...all these people who mean so much to me. I can't help but think about whether or not they are safe. The fear that continues to grip me is paralysing. The thought that they too are players in the same arena that has just claimed comrade Wandile is a reality that I cannot ignore, hard as I try to. And so if he, so young and only a few hours ago so alive, could be eliminated in an instant, what makes it impossible that they might suffer the same fate? Nothing does, especially when one takes into consideration the radicalism of some of their views and the influential positions that some of them occupy in our society. It is not impossible that my friends, my comrades, my pillars of strength, could one day be Wandile Mkhize, because that is how diabolical our politics have become. They are not only dirty, they are also deadly.


Political intolerance and greed, two separate parts of the same seven-headed dragon that is feasting on the political arena of occupied Azania. We have become so intolerant as a society that to differ in views is now synonymous to being mortal enemies. Throughout the years, genuine cadres of the struggle have perished for nothing other than the firm stance they took in the defence of their own convictions. They have met their demise for no other reason than that they had views that someone in the high echelons of power (and even the lower levels) didn't agree with and that alone became enough reason to force them to face their own mortality. And we have also seen the death of many a comrade for reasons related to material benefit and the accumulation of wealth that has overcome the accumulation of strength to fight for equality for all. Whether it is for tenders or for positions of leadership, we have witnessed many a times comrades being eliminated so that others can feast alone or assume positions at all cost. Such has become the standard norm in our society, so common that to be principled has become a revolutionary act as opposed to being a revolutionary's requirement. How we descended into this kind of abyss is a matter that we must still interogate, at another time when the country is not in such a heavy state of mourning.

The death of comrade Wandile is a blow to this country, to its children and to their children. We can only hope that those who are responsible are confronted with justice in its most raw form, that they are made to face the reality of an orange jumpsuit and an over-crowded prison cell. In another world, I'd even add that they ought to face the reality of the electric chair or the guillotine. But the true law-abiding citizen that he was, I doubt that comrade Mkhize would support such a view, not even for those who ended his young life.

We have a responsibility to remember comrade Wandile Mkhize's contributions to society. More than that, we have a responsibility to make this country a better place for his child(ren), who have lost a father, but can still be given a better world to grow up in.

Comrade Wandile, since you have now joined them in that other world, halla at Sobukwe, Biko, Hani, Tambo, Tiro and mama Sisulu for us. Tell them that siyazwakala nathi some day and sifun'umrhabulo mas'fika daar!

Malaika Wa Azania
Minister of Land Affairs 2033