OPINION | Is there a distinct difference between January 8 and SONA?

todayJanuary 12, 2024 99

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ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Saturday deliver the governing party’s January 8 statement, marking the party’s 112th anniversary.

As some South Africans and the party faithful await with bated breath to hear the contents of the speech – one wonders whether January the 8th statement is one and the same with the State of the Nation Address (SONA) post 1994, or could there be a desired optimal use to achieve complementarity between the two by Ramaphosa?

Internationally, the anti-apartheid movement, in solidarity with the struggle of the suffering majority, was established in London on June 26, 1959.

This was 11 years after the Nationalist Party (NP) took power to make apartheid an official government policy on May 26, 1948.

This is no suggestion that apartheid started in 1948 in South Africa as narrative fixers would have us believe.  Perish the thought that apartheid started with the NP takeover of the government in 1948 and that it was all because of Hendrik French Verwoerd. But that Verwoerd could be born in Amsterdam on 8 September 1901 to be assassinated in Cape Town as SA’s Prime Minister on 6 September 1966, is not less than a miracle to illustrate white life chances. That a black person born in Africa could become a Prime Minister in a European country is hardly a point for imagination.

The truth is apartheid thinking, planning, implementation, and predictable stratified impact on the targeted populations, to effect discriminatory divide and rule system, dates to 1760. This is when passes were introduced to control movements of slaves and ‘non-Whites’ or ‘non-Europeans between urban and rural areas by a ‘dompass’ initially in the Western Cape. This probably explains why the Western Cape is a code habitat where schemes for the entrenchment of white superiority are concocted to be home. Racism was in practice long before public amenities were branded for ease of enforcement by not so bright authority figures lording over black subordinates.

Steve Biko, whose assassination in police custody Helen Zille reported about while still a journalist at Rand Daily Mail, believed in the oneness of a nation and the singularity of a country finding expression in the slogan One Azania, One Nation. That DA leader, John Steenhuisen and Zille, are overseeing interests harbouring motives to carve out the Western Cape as the land of milk and honey for unrepentant whites, would not surprise Biko’s restless memory in the silent heart of the earth. It is a premonition that Biko had hoped would not eventuate as he believed that in a new political dispensation there would be no need for protection of minority rights as there would be no majority or minority but just people. Continued protection of minority rights is exactly the kind of democracy that the DA cherishes with black people in its ranks being of instrumental value for serviceability of white interests.

It was out of such derogatory schemes, initiated for the control of Africans in the Western Cape 264 years ago, that the DA currently hungers for, that the ‘dompas’ was introduced in 1760 for the comfort of white people who cannot just figure out how could they be simply deemed as human as the blacks that were by law and tradition oppressed before 1994?

The ‘dompas’ was introduced to mark out designated places for whites, by law, to control, patrol and regiment black lives and to control movements of people by way of precise indexing of designated victims and beneficiaries.

By powers vested on police, Africans were ordered to carry passes on them whenever they travelled. The pursuit of white privilege and balkanisation of the land by occupiers in 1760 smacks of same intent even when dressed in legalese and constitutionality in the year 2024. Spot the difference between 1760 and 2024 in this current thinking about the balkanisation of this beautiful land whose southmost tip the DA lusts for to believe carving out of the rest of the country is the right thing to do. This land gerrymandering on the part of the DA, on behalf of hard-to-rehabilitate whites, has disturbing resonance with the 1884-1885 Berlin conference for the scramble and partitioning of the African continent. This should rank as a priority agenda item for attention by the president in his forthcoming SONA scheduled for February 8.

Before 1994, the NP government had enjoyed the monopoly of illegitimate power and a voice to tell the world its side of the story to justify oppression. The NP was the author, teller, and the only author of SA’s political story.

As a representative of the entire oppressor camp, once the NP had spoken, the story was deemed to be complete to look any further. The SA story was encapsulated in the annual state of the Nation Address (SONA). SONA belonged to the NP.

Up to 1971 the world, in the universal sense of the word, had gotten used to hearing the one side of the SA story by way of the oppressor camp. No surprises there. That is typical of oppressive power to deem its voice as the beginning and end of the story in which to star itself and damn the rest.

In 1972, the world was made to wake up to the reality that there is more than one side to the SA story. This was when the banned ANC in exile launched its January 8 Statement to mark its 60th anniversary on January 8, 1972.

What followed were expectations of what came across as the annual ANC’s new year message.

The message was not in the offing from 1973 to 1978. The Issuing of January 8 statement resumed in 1979 under the theme “The Year of the Spear”.

From then on January 8 momentously became an annual anniversary event coupled with a message under a specific theme. Other than depending on the international media, and local ones for broadcasting its statements, the ANC’s Radio Freedom became the medium under stringent operations of airwaves to reach audiences within and outside SA borders.

With the ANC now armed with January 8, the NP no longer had the monopoly of broadcasting its own story in terms of SONA.

Whereas the NP had SONA, falling within two weeks of the month of February, the ANC’s preemptive tone setting counter came within the first week of the month in January. The oppressor camp lost being an unchallengeable voice to the SA story.

With the coming of April 1994, the NP lost what it had, and the ANC gained what it did not have. Prior to being the governing party, what the ANC did not have was SONA.

Since 1994, the ANC has had the benefit of both January 8 and SONA in its governing and communication arsenal for messaging purposes to the nation and the world.

Does the ANC use both, January 8, and SONA, for distinct purposes? Or does it deploy January 8 as the party’s tone-setting base for SONA to rise to the occasion of liberation imperatives? The year 2024 is yet to see the party’s fortunes turning for the better or worse. Written by Corporate Strategist, Writer and Freelance Journalist, Oupa Ngwenya.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the content belong to the author and not Y, its affiliates, or employees.


Written by: Lindiwe Mabena

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