HLUMELO Biko urged South Africans to use their voices – and votes – to challenge the power of the ANC.
Biko, the son of murdered Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) activist Steve Biko and businesswoman Mamphela Ramphele was speaking at a Daily Dispatch/University of Fort Hare dialogue at the Steve Biko Centre in Ginsberg on Tuesday night.
Biko described his recent book, The Great African Society: A Plan for a Nation Gone Astray, to the packed house, and was joined by BCM activist Andile M-Afrika .
Biko criticised President Jacob Zuma, and made reference to his 2008 comment that the ANC “will rule until Jesus comes back”.
Biko said when government believed their power to be indefinite, they were less concerned about serving the people who voted for them and more concerned about appeasing party politicians
Biko said the majority of black South Africans were shut out from participating in the economy as a result of systemic problems in the education system.
“For us to live in an environment where we are free politically, but not free economically, I find untenable.”
Biko said his book sought to explore why South Africans had moved from the enthusiasm of 1994 to the state of disarray we face today.
“How did we move from being such optimistic, confident people in 1994 to where we are now? I explore what has happened since then in my book,” Biko said.
“We must question that bitterness we all feel,” Biko said.
Biko said young South Africans need to “put aside our fears” and, “with dignity”, challenge the government for its shortcomings.
M-Afrika, who authored a book in tribute to the late Steve Biko, praised Biko’s book for its nuanced take on the state of South Africa.
“[Biko’s book] is written for us by a thinker and a visionary who cannot afford to see another time passing by without seeing his people in serious reflection about themselves and the destiny of their children,” M-Afrika said.
M-Afrika also criticised the current government, and said it was “afraid” of thinking South Africans – this was met by murmurs of approval from the audience.
“Here we have a government that is very much afraid of people who are thinkers, people who can ask questions, people who can suggest solutions, people who are keen to use their knowledge and skills to advance society.
“So while the government is preoccupied with the things we are reading in the newspapers, we should start to do things for ourselves,” M-Afrika added. — firstname.lastname@example.org