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The end product of Nehawu strike is certainly not one they can be proud of

The worse thing that can happen to an organisation which claims to stand for the interests of the downtrodden, is to have a programme that leads to the confrontation with the very people it says it represents.

When you cannot have a programme that people themselves can clearly identify, drive and own, then you stand the risk of alienating them. If people simply respond to your programme out of fear, then it means your programme will be destroyed in your absence.

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A programme meant to liberate people from whatever bondage, ought to ultimately be owned, protected and driven by the people themselves. It is the beneficiaries of such programmes who have to consciously advance such programmes, even in the absence of those who initiated them.

In the struggle for liberation, we learnt some lessons about contradictions. You can have a very good programme which may actually turn out to be fatal. You can be correct and yet be very wrong.

It takes a leader with clear vision and analytical understanding to execute a successful programme. Sometimes, it is even worthwhile to suspend temporarily or even semi-permanently a programme that does not fit into the prevailing material conditions.

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If one looks at the recent Nehawu strike, the end product is certainly not one the organisation can be proud of, irrespective of the current brave posture its leaders are even struggling to exhibit.

It is not a comfortable feeling to be reminded a black child died because the doctor was prevented by Nehawu from saving that precious life.

The course of the labour standoff with the employer may well be a correct one. But the consequences or results flowing therefrom have, no doubt, defeated the very noble objectives it was meant to realise.

The material conditions were simply not conducive, or no-one in the leadership was interested in navigating such consequences in a way that would achieve the objectives and still protect the people from the consequences.

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It was not about the people who may be collateral damage. But the interest was for the self…

We are now going for the national elections next year. It will be the selfsame Nehawu members who have now become members of the community, most of whom are by extension members of the ANC, or even leaders at whatever level, who are expected to campaign for the ANC.

They will be going door-to-door, asking the very people whose rights they have violated, to vote for the ANC.

Just how does a member of Nehawu, with a clear conscience, even master the courage of entering the home of a family who just gave birth to a baby who was born with defects which could have been avoided, but caused by lack of proper medical care as a result of the strike they were in the forefront of? It really beats all logic.

In the end, people will ultimately master the courage to decide who are their true representatives and leaders and will accordingly make decisions that will make their lives a bit more bearable.

ALSO READ: Nehawu suspends strike after reaching agreement with govt

That will be the time when they will be in a position when they would no longer have leaders imposed on them, but shall have elected the type of leaders who respect them.

They will also have the right to even recall a leader who is taking them for granted. That is when they begin to experience and understand what true freedom feels and looks like.

-Monama is an independent commentator and a former Azapo leader

from The Citizen https://www.citizen.co.za/news/opinion/end-product-nehawu-strike-nothing-be-proud-of/

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