Exploring continental unity and economic progression at Moses Kotane Memorial Lecture

​The University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), congregated for the second annual Moses Kotane Memorial Lecture, held on Thursday, 10 October 2019 at Auckland Park Kingsway Campus, to celebrate an educator, a warrior and a freedom fighter. This is a man whose history should never be taken for granted.

moses kotane lecture

This year, UJ welcomed Prof Ibbo Mandaza, a politician, academic and businessman who is also the director of a local think-tank Sapes Trust as the guest speaker, providing a completely new cognitive method, philosophical attitude and ideal values for the future society.

In attendance was Mr Moses Kotanes’ family, distinguished dignitaries; the University’s Executive Leadership Group, members of Council, Central committee of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and students. Prof Chris Landsberg, SARCHi Chair, African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy was the programme director for the address.

Using the theme of the lecture, “The State of Africa, can it be reformed and transformed for economic growth and development?” as a departure point for his talk, Prof Mandaza delivered a powerful address to the pupils, staff and guests in attendance. He regaled some of his memories of Moses Kotane, but later turned to look at the reflection on the development and fissures in capitalism.

prof ibbo mandaza

“All this has a significant bearing on our subject this evening, namely the relationship between Pan-Africanism and/or its corollary of African nationalism and Black consciousness, the class question which has tended to be concealed behind the race issue, and the State which is caught up in the complex but no less capitalist interaction between the comprador bourgeoisie, within and outside the State, and international capital,” said Prof Mandaza.

Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, UJ pointed out in his welcoming remarks that Moses Kotane made all connections with the Soviet Union. “He was a man grounded in theory. Practice without theory is blind and theory without practice is inconsequential, he said. “Moses Kotane is a leader we must emulate and if he was alive, he would be a leader propelling ideas of Industry 4.0.”

“Our history is rich with stories that many of our struggle icons took to the graveyards because they couldn’t tell them. The gap has to be filled by our doctoral fellows in our libraries”.

From gender-based injustices to climate change, Prof Mandaza highlighted the predicament we find ourselves in, and how younger generations will need to find ways not only to acknowledge these problems but also, more importantly, find ways of effecting change for future generations.

“Democratic revolution has failed. We have 95 percent unemployment in Zimbabwe,” explained Prof Mandaza. “However, it is not enough that we should lament at the crisis we find ourselves in Post Liberation Southern Africa, not least when our class, the inheritors of state power, are so culpable as to be blind to the obvious causes of the current malaise.”

“We have to be courageous and honest in retracing our steps, including a solid analysis of the nature and content of the struggle itself, its class character, the political and socio-economic realities attendant to this transition, and the spectra of globalisation in this Post-Cold War era. Without a sound analysis of the crisis, there can be no hope of resolving it.”

Mr Joseph Kotane, son of the struggle icon expressed his gratitude for the honor bestowed on his father and declared that his father’s grave in Pella, North West is a National Heritage Site through the Moses Mauane Kotane Foundation, of which he is chairman.

In conclusion, Prof Mandaza emphasised the need to reform the State in the context of political and constitutional reform generally and re-envision the Pan-African Agenda in the context of increased and deeper regional and continental integration, which takes into account both the general Pan-African viewpoint for a continental unity but also examines the internal specificities of the different regions which could be utilised to implement meaningful integration.

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