Q&A with Andile Mngxitama


Andile Mngxitama: EFF member and the member of Parliament

Andile Mngxitama: EFF member and the member of Parliament    Photo: Tendai Dube

Andile Mngxitama, Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) MP holds an MA in sociology from Wits and has published the first four essays in the New Frank Talk series, a journal of critical essays. Mngxitama is also a columnist for the Sowetan and City Press

What do you think of the current education crisis tertiary institutions are facing?
Here when students say ‘we want free education’, which is a fundamental right, what comes is violence from the police, arrests and intimidation. It shows that this state is anti-black, and totally incapable of listening to the needs of black people, it reproduces the apartheid logic. We should be paying students to keep them at university.

How do you suggest the situation be resolved?
In Bolivia, they pay poor families in rural areas to keep their children in school. that’s what we should be doing.
We should be grateful that our students – after 12 years of kak education – somehow qualify to go to an institution of higher learning. They should be rewarded, not punished.

How did we get to this situation?
In South Africa to get a matric exemption, it’s like we celebrate. In white society, a child is born, they will end in university and it’s not a mystery – it’s a given, but for us, because we have to overcome so many hurdles to actually get a matric exemption or to get university entrance, it’s a huge thing. It is achieving a lot against massive odds and then you get punished in the end.

What are the EFF’s plans to combat the education crisis?
The problem is that the 12 years students spend at school in South Africa, black public schools, are f**cked, it doesn’t prepare them for anything.
So what you do is you bring all the Zimbabweans with O – levels into SA schools and make all our teachers write the basic test – they will fail.
Zimbabwe must become our center for educating. Those teachers who fail have two options, they can get a package and go home or they can get reeducated and we send them to Zimbabwe. Let’s not create a difficult life for ourselves, bring all the Zimbabweans and spread them in rural schools…You just give them a two weeks crash course on methodology.

“The Mngxitama ABCs to solve the education crisis.”
Our teachers are underprepared, uneducated, untrained, unmotivated and they can’t do their basic job, but if we inject this new process then I think that within five years we can get back lot of South Africans into the system who are able to teach. We must build schools also and put real money into those things.
At a university level, not a single student must apply for a bursary. As a student you literally walk up to your university and if you qualify they should take you.
And they can say beforehand that Wits is a pro-poor school therefore we will take sixty percent of all new intakes from bursary students, so I already know what is my bill which I then present to government, to say these are the number of needy students that we have taken. They must make the registration illegal, that thing is evil, once you’re in you must be in until you finish.

Mngxitama: ANC has failed the ideals of Steve Biko

The African National Congress (ANC) has succeeded in making black people accept that they’re third class citizens, said EFF’s (Economic Freedom Fighters) Andile Mngxitama, at Wits yesterday.

Mngxitama was speaking at the first in a series of lectures that commemorates the life of Black consciousness leader Steve Biko.

Speaking about the ideals of the Black consciousness movement to an audience of about 100 people, Mngitama said “[The] ANC has destroyed the capacity of blacks to take themselves seriously”.

“No sane person can defend the ANC … at least [give] a rational defence, at least [give] a pro black defence.” Mngxitama said that in South Africa people black people have to fight for RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme) housing even though they should be entitled to these homes. He said many South Africans are not aware of their entitlements as citizens because of the ANC.

Mngxitama said the problem with the ruling party is that its policies are inherently “anti-black”  He argued that Black consciousness as an ideal runs counter to non-racialism as the latter does not recognise “the black situation”. He said even the Freedom Charter, which was written by the ANC in 1955, is suspending black thought because its ideals do not empower black people.

Responding to recent incidents involving his party in parliament, Mngxitama said that “parliament is not a place of truth” and said that radical movements like the EFF are meant to turn places like parliament upside down.

Mandela’s legacy in question

Representatives of several political parties came together on Friday to debate the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

Representatives of several political parties came together on Friday to debate the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

“Don’t blame Mandela because black people are lazy”.  The president of the Wits Debating Union (WDU), Jamie Mighti, said he was willing to be unpopular and tell fellow black students this “inconvenient truth”.

Mighti was speaking at a debate held by the WDU about former president Nelson Mandela’s legacy focused on whether Mandela sold black people out in the name of peace and reconciliation.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) representatives Hon M A Mncwango and  Bonginkosi Dhlamini, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Makashule Gana and Andile Mngxitama of the Economic Freedom Fighters or EFF also formed part of the debating panel.

[pullquote align=”right”]”Mandela cut deals with white people at the expense of black people.”[/pullquote]

The IFP, DA and WDU all argued that Mandela did not sell black people out but rather “chose peace over justice” so the country could move forward.

This is in light of Mandela’s decision to protect the private property rights of the wealthy, who were still mainly white.

Mandela was also criticised for his decision to keep South Africa a capitalist state.

Public figures such as his former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, have publicly called him a “sell out” for choosing to have black and white people live and work together on what they have called the “stolen” land of black Africans.

Gana of the DA said it was important to consider history and context when looking at what Mandela did for South Africa: “Many other African states were collapsing and skilled people were leaving these countries with no skills transfer … He was driven by that fact and the Freedom Charter, which stated that South Africa belongs to all who live in it.”

Mngxitama was the only panelist who disagreed with the stateman’s approach to building a new South Africa: “Mandela cut deals with white people at the expense of black people. That is his unique contribution, that’s his legacy.”

The activist-turned-politician was met with a room full of applause and cheers when he said the EFF planned to “take the land and he economy back.”

He also said that under their (EFF) rule, all members of parliament would be forced to use public hospitals and take their children to public schools – “then they’ll be sure to make Baragwanath a quality hospital”, he said, to which the crowd responded with more applause and screaming.

[pullquote]”Don’t try party like a white kid. He’s going to leave you behind because he’s 12 years ahead of you.”[/pullquote]

Mighti said he was alarmed by the approach of “the Andiles and Malemas of this world”. He urged fellow students to forgive and forget about the apartheid regime and focus on being better students to ensure a more promising future. “What Andile says makes for good slogans, but it doesn’t make for a good supper”.

He said more black students needed to be in the library and “not at Puma [Social Club].

Don’t try party like a white kid. He’s going to leave you behind because he’s 12 years ahead of you. He had a good education, you have catching up to do.”

A student, who chose not to be named,  shouted at Mighti: “You insult us as blacks and yet you are black. This is what the system wanted.” He argued that the 24 hour libraries on main campus are used by black students, objecting to his claim that black students don’t put in as much work as their white mates.

He said white students were able to do better because they had resources like Apple iPads, computers with internet access and cars, which made their learning simpler.

Mighti ended his address by saying to black students “look in the mirror and ask yourself why you are not the top student in your class. There’s too much ‘instagraming’ and ‘facebooking’ going on”.

The debate ended without final remarks from Mngxitama as he was “summoned” to Soweto to join the EFF’s National Assembly.

The debate, which was held at FNB 101 last night, was aimed at addressing what the WDU has called “ongoing conversations” among young people.

Another debate will be held next week Friday as part of the WDU’s “Responsible Reconcilliation” Series. Next week’s topic is Socio-Economic Integration.