By: Reggy Nyandeni
ON Saturday 30 May 2009 the Pan Africanist Youth Congress (PAYCO) hosted a milestone Annual Lecture dubbed “Mayihlome”.The lecture took place at Hotel 224 in the City of Tshwane, attended mostly by PAC leaders and activists from across the country. The youth attended the lecture in big numbers.
Matome Mashao got the honour to deliver this first lecture. A former leader of students and youths organizations of the PAC, Mashao has also been a member of the PAC National Executive Committee (NEC) since the mid nineteen nineties. Recently in 2006 he served as head of PAC’s Legal and Constutional Affairs department in the NEC before PAC president Letlapa Mphahlele’s alleged unconstitutional invoking of rule by decree which attracted widespread criticism in the party.
Mashao’s lecture focused on principal challenges, with ideological emphasis, facing the PAC, post national liberation struggle. “The current set of circumstances, more and more, challenge us to tell and live this pan Africanist story from another perspective – a perspective of class”, said Mashao.
Mashao urged that the party must wage a class struggle saying “We must adopt and live the class perspective of pan Africanism. Now that we have united successfully and deposed foreign governments, we must now adopt a class struggle as the dominant form of our struggle. If pan Africanism is to survive, it must now expose underlying class contradictions, and champion the interests of the poor working and unemployed class”
“This class is ready; all they require is a revolutionary party to lead them”, Mashao continued.
He criticized the perpetual insistence on what he calls “a nation perspective of pan Africanism” and asked “Who exactly must unite with whom? The kind of unity that would emerge from this perspective analysis would be cosmetic unity. It would be unity of the borders, unity in form and disunity in substance? We submit that even the unity of Africans envisaged by pan Africanism can only truly and openly take place from a class perspective. Unity is unity when it is so both in form, purpose and content”,
He argued further that “The oneness of Africa cannot be true and possible, underpinned by a partnership of socialists and had core capitalists”.
When he concluded the lecture he received a thunderous applause when he asserted “So indeed, I can now truly claim that I am a modern pan Africanist, a class conscious one and a committed socialist”.
Other speakers preceding the lecture included PAYCO President, Hulisani Mmbara and the liberation struggle veteran leader, Phillip Kgosana.
In his welcoming address, Mmbara told guests that “the PAC must set out to become government soon and its political leadership, policy making and administrative layers must start organising and conducting itself as such”.
“If we want to govern, we must get ready to govern” added Mmbara.
This declaration shows striking optimism given the fact that during the last general elections, just over a month ago, on 22 April under president Mphahlele, contrary to what many considered a nutty ambitious projection to poll 20% of the votes by Mphahlele, the PAC only managed to gain a mere 48530 votes as opposed to more than 113512 votes garnered in 2004 elections under the presidency of Dr. Motsoko Pheko.
Kgosana a well known veteran leader of the organisation and a leader of the historic 30 000 strong march in Cape Town, also spoke during the lecture about the heydays of the PAC. He told guests that Sobukwe lead the PAC when he was young at the age of 36.
“Are you saying we do not have a 36 years old in PAYCO who can lead the PAC?” quizzed Kgosana to a thunderous applause.
“You hold the key to the solution of the PAC “urged Kgosana.
Kgosana himself, then a regional secretary of the PAC in the Western Cape, was in his early twenties and a student at the University of Cape Town when he led this historic march following the Sharpeville-Langa massacres on 21 March 1960 during the anti-pass campaign led by the PAC.
Judging by the political maturity, commitment, emerging vision and ideological clarity shown by the youth during this lecture the PAC can still turn its waning fortunes around.