NATURE VERSUS NURTURE: The Old And The New Within The Liberation Movements

PICTURE: Mail & Guardian

There is a cold war brewing within political organisations, the millennial and pre-millennial generations are at war over the scrambles of power, writes BUSIE KAHLA, VUSIE MBA and PEDRO MZILENI

The aforementioned battle mirrors battles which are at societal level because liberation organisations like the African National Congress (ANC) are not immune from whatever that happens in society. The aggregate of dynamics within any society are arguably played in the organisations. It is not a surprise that generational mix is amongst the popular concepts like economic freedom.

The concept of generational mix is usually misused for wrong political and personal ends and stripped of legitimacy. Go to Pan-Africanist Youth Congress (PAYCO), Young Communists League of South Africa (YCLSA) and other youth structures of political movements – you will hate the concept.

Classical theoreticians have evangelised with Marx that the old must die and give birth to the new.  At home, in the Republic of South Africa (RSA), the old is stubborn – it refuses to die whilst the new is contesting the space furiously. The elders (born between 1910 -1930) are most of the time referees in these battles because of the authority they still have.

Those who identify with both millennials and the oldies (dominated by 1940’s and 1950’s generation) are in a quagmire, they are caught in the firing line having to choose this or that side. The 1976 generation is a good example of this group. Millennials feel blamed for being born ‘late’ after the struggle and the oldies feel as if they are entitled to the organisational and state positions because of their past struggles against apartheid.

No, scientific evolution teaches us that the old should not totally diminish for the new generation to thrive. The new generation inherits its genotype from the old generation; hence the youth inherits some bad and good attributes from timers and old ladies emzabalazweni.

It is advisable that the new generation ceases to be ‘impatient’ and the old generation must stop intimidating the young for political ends under the guise of demanding respect. Relations between the old and the young should be defined by collaboration.

If these generations collaborate, there would be smooth processes of the transfer of power within and outside the organisations. Every generation should appreciate each generation; old people should accept that contemporary struggles in the epoch of the fourth industrial revolution are better waged by the youth and the youth should know that there is wisdom that can be sucked out of the old generation.

The advice of Franz Fanon that each generation must identify its mission should never be misconstrued to mean that prior generations are irrelevant. Remember that the generations prior this time were ceased primarily with a politically racial struggles and it can be argued that the current struggle is about economic freedom.

If, to borrow from the governing alliance, the national struggle is mechanically divorced from the gender and class struggles in the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), there is bound to be problematic instead of programmatic relations between generations. During the time of Julius Malema presidency of the youth wing of the ANC this situation played out.

Today we have offshoots that are vehemently opposing liberation movements. Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) of South Africa, for example, is led and dominated by the disgruntled former members of the ANC. The old generation, hiding behind big principles of organisational discipline, expelled the cream of the new generation that was posing a threat to its comfort and power. Of course, others will say that the situation was complex than it is made out to appear. Yes, but at the centre was the war of generations.

Liberation heroes are fast losing their relevance in many African countries, 2019 elections will therefore be a huge test to the ANC as no liberation organisation has governed democratically for more than three decades without experiencing serious internal strife and external rejection by the once budding society.

In SA, because the old guard is still dominant, ANC is the only leading political party in the top biggest parties that is led mainly by magogos and otamkhulu who agewise qualify for pension and who should take care of abazukulwana in their quest for economic freedom. The leader of the liberal blues (DA) and red berets (EFF) are both under forty years but Ramaphosa is at pension age.

It is always said that it is cold outside liberation movements, but it seems others have turned into eskimos or maybe they have found a way to make it hot because there are organisations formed against liberation organisations. Does one stay in an unkind environment or go outside and continue the struggle?

The old generation has defined liberation movements as the only vehicles to achieve revolutionary goals but some in the current generation have opted to oppose the liberation movements. The situation is worsened by identical phenotype of the former struggle heroes who are current villains to the youth.

Former president of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) is seen as a cruel dictator by the current generation which is not married to the bravery stories and hero-worshiping of the old guard.

These different perspectives indicate that there is a lot of work that needs to be done by both generations together to renovate the image of the liberation movements who should appreciate that opposition to government is very different from running government.

It therefore suffices that the technologically savvy generation should be governing with the baton peacefully passed to it by the oldies and give advice when necessary. The bearded Karl Marx asserted that each person should be given according to need and, in return, the person should contribute to society according to ability.

Ability to deal with contemporary challenges is possessed mainly by the youth who should use this ability as their contribution to the building of an egalitarian, developmental country. The old needs to be taken care of also, it is not only children who should receive care. Oldies should guide the young to build Africa – that is a collaboration we need.