During the rise of the Roman empire (31 BC to 79 AD) a Roman emperor Augustus appointed a trusted general by the name Agrippa who was in charge of making sure that a strategy is developed to make Rome a great city to be reckoned worldwide, he used these three pillars as a focus point (I. Economy, ii. social cohesion/Religion/Cultural traditions and iii. Politics). He got some of the most prolific and bright young men, he separated them from their families and built a school of thought for them, they didn’t have to work or worry about anything as the state provided for them, their role was to be equipped with the “know-how”, an in-depth study in the three pillars as identified above by the emperor and his general. The plan was a 500-year plan which gave birth to policies put in place by Augustus who later went on to write “I found Rome as clay and left it as marble”.

“Rome was not built in one day” it didn’t mean only the physical buildings of Rome, but the systems used to make it a great city also, the economic policies e.t.c, it now brings me to a point I want to discuss with the reader, we find ourselves today with this pandemic novel coronavirus or COVID-19 which is directly threatening our existence and livelihoods but the big question we should ask ourselves is, can our Economic / Social and political policies, withstand harsh times as these?

One wise man said “the success or impact of a particular event or circumstance is judged after the event or circumstance” yes we only going to get the true impact and assessment of this lockdown and its implication after the lockdown or after the virus is contained but we can in the meantime look at how better prepared we are and/or not, as a country.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic induced market instability and lockdown will have the following outcomes to the economy of most countries: Sharp rise in unemployment; Stress on supply chains; Decrease in government income; Reduced consumer activity and a collapse of the hospitality industry. It is likely that we will suffer the fore mentioned points as a country and might take a bit longer than developed countries to find our feet again, yet we remain positive.

Post-apartheid we only took over the government seats and not the power to make policies to benefit the masses of our people, this lockdown has so far exposed this, our economic policies have failed to put the majority of our poor people first, yes we knew this all along but the lockdown has proven that our government hands are tied by the very policies which were made long ago by the apartheid catalysts.

The halt on social events, movements and mass gatherings have its advantages and disadvantages but the smell of hunger in our streets is too overpowering to can even begin contending with the positives such as: family time restored, parents-children bonding session and passing down of valuable cultural tales during story time.

“Every person has a brain and in every brain is a mind, every mind has a mind-set, every mind-set has a shaper”- Tudor Bismark. Is SASCO a mindset shaper in politics?

With Karl Marx a strategy/concept/philosophy of communism is developed, Marxism-Leninism as a political philosophy was developed by thinkers and those who saw academic excellence as the key to open perceptivity, as early as the times of Hammurabi, Xenophon, Aristotle, Martin Luther to Karl Marx and down to Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, all embraced the art of strategy and planning ahead of time, they all were radical in their approach but their radicalism emanated from believing in an outright political or social plan, SASCO has identified itself as a Marxist-Leninist organization and using the tools of Marxism-Leninism to view and analyze politics holistically, it is only a precedence for its leaders to adopt the art of learning and open thinking, a school of thinkers. During the lockdown as a gallant student movement (SASCO) needs to re-evaluate the level of thinkers produced by the organization and their input towards the struggle. In one way or the other, as an organization, we deal with institutions shaping the thinking pattern of our young people and we directly deal with the shaping of young leaders, a tantamount task to that of lecturers and teachers.

Alice A Baily writes in her book “Serving Humanity” published in 1972 while it was still unfashionable for women to freely dress as they like, “In years to come, if you want to sell anything, put a half naked woman next to it”, today it’s a reality what she wrote 48 years ago. The reason we see so much failed ideas and attempts in the today political space, leaders want immediate gratification, instant prosperity and materialism yet putting long term planning aside.

As I conclude I would like to say this might be a dark time for the world but in every crisis there is an opportunity, the lockdown has given us a time to retreat, take a pause and reflect, ask questions that will lead us to evaluate and introspect. Vladimir Lenin in the October 1920 address on “the task of the youth leagues” said “Young communists must always learn, learn and learn”, this is proven to be an effective tool as Che Guevara always carried a Karl Marx book, even when he helped the Castro brothers to Over-throw Batista and take hold of Cuba, learn, learn and learn.

Doctor H. Ndebele is the Provincial Convener of SASCO in the North West. He writes in his personal capacity.

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