In the Free State province of South Afrika the local government has officially inaugurated two statues dedicated to the communist and anti-imperialist fighters against colonialism in Afrika and the world. Oliver Tambo, the former president of the ANC between 1967 and 1991, engaged in direct, hostile opposition to the colonial apartheid regime in conjunction with comrades Joe Slovo and Nelson Mandela with Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). He presided over the ANC during its most revolutionary period, overseeing its transition from a semi-legal party to a radical anti-imperialist organization fighting for the liberation of colonized South Afrikans. Alongside his statue, the local government also chose to erect a statue dedicated to Fidel Castro, the communist revolutionary leader of Cuba, who brazenly took up the struggle of colonized Afrikan peoples in their struggle against european and colonial governments throughout the continent.
However, while the statues were ordered to be constructed by lawmakers loyal to the ANC, we are forced to grapple with who the legacy of these two figures belong to. Rather, who will continue to define the struggle that is in continuity with that waged by these brave revolutionaries? Will it be the ANC, choked with corruption and still beholden to political norms that stretch back to the apartheid regime, or will it be bright, young revolutionaries? The current ANC, resting precariously under the leadership of Jacob Zuma, the president of South Afrika, has done little to nothing to solve the historic social ills caused by apartheid in the economy, and certainly has made little to no progress on the supposedly “socialist” platform it once stood. South Afrikan mines are still predominantly owned by western capitalists, employing and super-exploiting the miners who toil in them. This is not only true of the mines, but of the farms, factories and all other houses of productive capital in the country. Further, the persisting a0partheid-like conditions have been demonstrated by the virtually stagnant income rates among Black South Afrikans in comparison to their white and Asian counterparts.
The ANC leadership, despite their best efforts to renew the image of “liberators” in South Afrika, have contributed only to the continuation of a de facto apartheid through the consolidation of capitalism that they have overseen. Those who honor the real legacy of those like Castro and Tambo in their practice are the comrades of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who have dedicated themselves to the liberation of South Afrika and the establishment of real socialism in its place. While they may not currently control their public legacy, it is revolutionaries like those in the EFF who have taken up their program and will steal the future from reactionaries. They have already built a reputation of shifting the course of history in step with those who came before them, originally splitting from the ANC Youth League in much the same way the original ANC Youth League rebelled against the party’s bourgeois leadership in the 1940s. To those of the original, rebellious youth league, the propositions of the EFF would hardly appear radical. In fact, they would seem familiar!
Of course, this is radical and revolutionary. It is perceived as such because the ANC has long been corrupted to their highest offices with reactionaries and beneficiaries of european and amerikan imperialism in South Afrika. The EFF, with their comrades in the trade unions and on the streets, are a danger to the ANC’s power because they propose to bring about the kind of change choked down by the bourgeois leadership of the party. That is why Julius Malema was expelled from the Youth League to begin with, and why the EFF has pulled from the ranks of the party more than half a million comrades ready to renew the struggle for socialism and national liberation in South Afrika. While the ANC may utilize figures such as Castro and Tambo to shore up their leadership, evoking the spirit that they have long departed from, it is those like the EFF, integrated with the oppressed masses of the country, who will command and define the legacy of those men in South Afrika. Because they do not just evoke the spirit of this revolutionary past, but revive and advance it toward Communism with the purpose and energy of a genuine mass movement.