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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 2, No. 6, 2 April 2003

In this Issue:


Red Alert

We will never allow Chris Hani to die

By: Blade Nzimande, SACP General Secretary

On 10 April next week, it will exactly be 10 years since the cowardly assassination of our former General Secretary, Cde Martin Thembisile Hani, popularly known as Chris. Two right wingers, we are convinced as part of a bigger plot, gunned down Cde Chris at his home in Dawn Park, near Boksburg.

This anniversary coincides with other important anniversaries for our Party and our people. April 2003 also mark the tenth anniversaries on the passing away of those giants of our struggle, Cdes Oliver Tambo and Elias Motsoaledi. It is also the 30th anniversary of the 1973 workers' strikes. Most significantly for our Party it is the 50th anniversary of the reconstitution of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) underground, after its dissolution and banning in 1950, and re-emerged as the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1953. On the latter anniversary one can't help noticing how cruel history can sometimes be. As we proudly celebrate 50 years of the reconstitution of the SACP in 1953 and its steady growth and strength, the National Party, which had thought it had destroyed our Party and communist ideas in 1950, is now instead facing extinction. One is tempted to adapt the old adage to describe this contrast and historical irony:


The SACP, working together with the ANC, COSATU and SANCO will hold more than 30 events across the length and breadth of our country to remember and honour Hani as a hero of all our people. The main national event will be the rally on 13 April 2003, in Umtata, at the University of Transkei's stadium.

Hani's legacy

What is Hani's legacy that we seek to honour and remember? Our message is simple - we must never allow Chris Hani to die. He fought poverty and job losses. He fought for national liberation, people's power and socialism. Let us build and strengthen the power and influence of poor and working people. Workers and the poor need a strong ANC, SACP and COSATU.

As we remember Chris Hani, we must remind ourselves of the kinds of leaders and cadres we need in South Africa today. We want leaders who are accountable to our people. We want a government that responds to the needs of our people. We want local government councillors who report back and listen to the problems of our people. This is the tradition of the ANC that Hani lived and died for. That is why Hani was an ANC cadre, leader and a communist.

In all these ways we will make Chris Hani's dream of a strong SACP, a strong alliance and a socialist South Africa possible. In this way Chris will live in us through our current struggles and the struggle for socialism in our country"

For Hani socialism was not big words or concepts. In his own words, "Socialism is not about big concepts and heavy theory. Socialism is about decent shelter for those who are homeless. It is about water for those who have no safe drinking water. It is about health care, it is about a life of dignity for the old. It is about overcoming the huge divide between urban and rural areas. It is about education for all our people. Socialism is about rolling back the tyranny of the market. As long as the economy is dominated by an un-elected, privileged few, the case for socialism will exist." Born in rural poverty, Chris Hani never forgot his roots. He was a leader who listened to the homeless, the jobless, the landless, to women no less than men. He had confidence and trust in ordinary people, and so they, in turn, had confidence and trust in him!

When he was elected to the mammoth task to lead the SACP, he proved himself a committed communist. Today he would be in Guguletu calling for housing, tomorrow in the mines calling for an end to retrenchments, dismissals and for workers to be paid a living wage. As if that was not enough, two days later he would be in Venda calling for health improvement and later march with teachers and students for quality public education.

The Chris Hani 10th Anniversary Memorial Month

This Friday, the 10th Anniversary Chris Hani Memorial Month will be launched through the SACP's Chris Hani Poverty Eradication Trail at Hani's home village in Sabalele, Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape. Through the Chris Hani Poverty Eradication Trail we will be focusing on taking forward the campaign of registration for social grants as part of the theme of "United Action to Push back the Frontiers of Poverty" through the mobilisation of volunteers - The Red October Brigades. This takes forward the ANC's January 8 statement, government's campaign on expanded social security and the SACP's 2002 Red October campaign.

On 10 April, the national, Gauteng Provincial and East Rand District leadership of the ANC, SACP,. COSATU and SANCO will visit and hold a memorial service at Hani's grave in Boksburg.

The Chris Hani Institute

One of the highlights of the Chris Hani Month will be the launch of the Chris Hani Worker Leadership Development Institute (Chris Hani Institute) The Institute will be launched through the Inaugural Chris Hani Lecture on 15 April at the COSATU Central Committee. There could be no better place to launch such an important and path breaking initiative than in front of the more than 200 COSATU delegates that will be gathered at this Central Committee, underlining the ownership of the Institute by the workers of our country.

At its 7th Congress held in September 2000, COSATU took a resolution to establish such an Institute, as an autonomous working class think-tank and "academy to provide education and training for selected youth, stewards and officials." COSATU had identified the urgent need in the current period, for cadre development in order to deepen class consciousness, to build organisation, to build the capacity of trade unionists and shop stewards to engage and to develop a layer of intellectual representatives of the working class.

One of the key features of apartheid South Africa was that almost all the foundations that were in existence largely served and were controlled by the rich and professional classes, with minimal focus on the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people. Since 1990, with the exception of institutions like the Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko Foundations, South Africa has seen an emergence of even more foundations and think-tanks primarily focused on the interests of the better off, including racially or ethnically defined interests. The strengthening of democracy in South Africa principally rests in the promotion and betterment of the overwhelming majority of its people - who are predominantly black, African, working class and poor. Other than government, major institutions of society - business, media, cultural institutions - still largely serve a white, male rich and middle class society, to the extent that the interests of the working class and poor are relegated to the bottom.

It is also in the realm of ideas and communication that there is hardly any systematic advocacy of the interests of the working class and the poor in broader society. Most experts are either drawn from the ranks of the better off or they tend to advocate for the interests of the better off. Yet the battle of ideas is intensifying around the kind of South Africa we want to build.

The establishment of such an Institute is an important dimension in this battle of ideas, and it would definitely contribute towards enhancing the voice, ideas and aspirations of the working class and the poor through engaging in the public domain and engaging other major institutions of South African society. For COSATU and the SACP this voice is concretely about engaging strategically in order to advance the interests of the working class and promoting socialist ideas and debate.

The life and memory of Chris Hani has become one of the major symbols for the aspirations of the working class and the poor in South Africa. His life, sacrifices, dedication and example captured a person whose entire life was dedicated to the service of ordinary working people and the poor. Whilst South Africa has many heroes and heroines who lived and died for similar aspirations, but Chris Hani was murdered on the eve of the beginnings of the realisation of the aspirations of the majority of South Africans. His assassination also directly led to the securing of 27 April 1994 as the date for the first ever democratic elections in South Africa. His memory lives fondly in the hearts and minds of millions of South African, particularly the working class and the poor. This Institute would serve to institutionalise his memory, but most importantly, as a monument to the aspirations of the ordinary working people and the poor in South Africa.

One of the many outstanding qualities of comrade Chris Hani was his ability to make revolutionary and socialist ideas accessible to workers and the poor. Therefore an important aim of the institute would be to continue this legacy, by researching and developing progressive and socialist alternatives, making socialist ideas accessible, promoting and popularising democratic and socialist alternatives. In addition it will equip shop stewards, trade union officials, community activists, women worker leaders and the children of the working class and the poor with the knowledge and the confidence to take the struggle for democracy and socialism to their communities, their workplaces, public spaces, the media, government - essentially all of society.

It will be an institute guided in its work by the reality that South Africa seeks to resolve three interrelated contradictions - class, national and gender - not in isolation from, but in relationship to each other. It will seek to deliberately influence SA's transition in the interests of overwhelming majority - study the transition and develop alternatives beyond the terrain of capitalism. We need to create space for revolutionaries to reflect on alternatives, to envision the real possibilities for change. Too often we are caught up with responding to neo-liberal policy proposals and trying to find ways to ameliorate their effects on workers. While reforms may be necessary in any revolution, it is critical to continuously create space to think outside of the bounds of capitalism, so that reforms do not become the end point.

It is also our hope that the Institute will seek to train, equip women worker leaders as a very important dimension of confronting and seeking to address the gender contradication in our society. Even the minimal educational opportunities available to women worker leaders, they are mainly in the mould of neo-liberal training and education.

It will strive to serve and promote the social, economic, political, ideological and cultural interests of the working class and the poor. In doing this it will also embark on strategic studies, policy analysis and advocacy on policies and working class driven programmes for socio-economic transformation. It should also embark on activities aimed at improving opportunities for meaningful economic empowerment of the working class and the poor through promoting the economic and developmental interests, social and political awareness of these sectors of society, including literacy and other working class and community education activities

The institute will also network and link up with relevant similar organisations sharing similar goals in South Africa and globally, with particular emphasis on the African continent and the South in general. To this end the Institute will soon be signing a historic Memorandum of Understanding and undertaking joint projects with the German-based Rosa Luxembourg Foundation linked to the German Party of Democratic Socialism. The projects will be announced at the launch of the Institute.

That the Institute is a joint initiative of the SACP and COSATU, does not mean that it will be an extension nor a mouthpiece of these organisations. Instead it will be an autonomous institution, free to critically reflect on policies and programmes of the SACP, COSATU and other working class formations. It will also embark on its own independent programmes and projects and seek to forge links with other similar bodies.

In our conception, the Institute will not seek to replace or compete with other existing specialised institutions and NGOs serving the interests of the working class in their respective specialisations, like Ditsela, NALEDI, NIEP, CEPD, etc. Instead it will seek to co-operate, relate to and harness work done in such bodies towards the overall strategic interests of the working class.

The Chris Hani Memorial Seminar

As part of the 10th anniversary commemoration the SACP will convene hold a Chris Hani Memorial Seminar, which will be replicated in all the provinces, to reflect on the life, struggles and sacrifices of Cde Chris. It will be held under the theme of "Chris Hani - an embodiment of the relationship between the national democratic revolution and socialism. The aim of the seminar will be to take forward internal alliance debates around the concrete linkages between the NDR and socialism under current conditions, as our conception of a transition to socialism in South Africa. The seminar will also critically reflect on the content of the national, class and gender contradictions in the current period. This will form part of our ongoing contribution to deepen debates and engagement in our alliance, and to have no-holds barred debate on some of the critical questions facing the South African revolution. This is what Chris stood for and this is what we must continue to do to celebrate the life and times of this hero of our revolution.

We miss you Tshonyane!

The War on Iraq and its broader strategic implications -- Unipolarity isn't what is used to be  

The ANC and ANC-led government have taken clear, correct and principled positions on the US (and UK) flouting of the United Nations system, on the need for the destruction of ALL weapons of mass destruction, on the critical need for multi-lateralism and peace, and the connection of all of the above to the challenges of development. The ANC-alliance has also mobilised popular support in marches, meetings and services against the war and for peace. The SACP has supported the ANC and ANC-led government's leading role in all of the above.

Increasingly, within the alliance, there has also been a deepening refinement of the analysis of the role and trajectory of US imperialism. We have noted that the deepening unilateralism and militarisation trends under George Bush Jr are, at once, both a new development and in continuity with tendencies at play in the past decade (and, indeed, throughout the history of imperialism). George Bush Sr's 1991 Gulf War invasion was a largely unilateralist intervention, but at a time in which the international inter-state system, and the popular anti-war movements were off-balance following the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Increasing US unilateralism and militarism was a feature of the following years (Yugoslavia, Central Asia, Palestine) and, during the Clinton years, the US's refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol, the Landmine Treaty and the International War Crimes Treaty, as well as its effective boycotting of the World Conference Against Racism.

However, this time round, with the invasion of Iraq, the heightened drift to unilateralism and the evocation of the right to a "preventive war" has met with unprecedented levels of opposition. Contradictions have opened up within the EU, within NATO, between the US and Germany and France (and also, importantly, Russia and China). Contradictions within the British Labour Party have sharpened, and there are unprecedented levels of popular mobilisation around the world - Japan, Italy, France, the entire Arab world. Relatively vulnerable third world countries (Angola, Cameroon, Mexico, Chile) have stood their diplomatic ground in the face of US blandishments and threats. Even within the US there is very sizeable opposition to the war.

For most of the 1990s, the struggle against US-dominated "globalisation" was led by disparate, social movement and NGO "anti-globalisation" forces, and by fundamentalist reaction in parts of the world. Over the last months a much wider "broad front" of global forces has emerged - including many governments, political parties, and social movements. While the unity and likely durability of this "front" should not be overstated, it IS indeed united behind very important basic principles - an opposition to US-imposed international unilateralism, a commitment to global peace, and (in however vague a manner) a call for development.

The global electronic media monopoly enjoyed by CNN in 1991 has been broken, including by Third World based networks, not least in the Arab world.

In short, while the US is indeed the only super (hyper?) power in what is an essentially unipolar world, unipolarity is not what it once was, or seemed to be, barely a decade back. Standing against US unipolarity is not another super-power but a range of forces.

What are the tasks of progressive forces in this situation?

"the illusion that the liberal card should, or could, be played "honestly" by all and then things would get better must be dispensed with. The US cannot give up the asymmetric practice of liberalism, since this is the only way that it can compensate for its deficiencies. American "prosperity" comes at the price of others' stagnation. (Samir Amin, "Confronting the Empire", p.4)

As we have noted above, the ANC-led government and the ANC itself have played a leading, a principled and consistent and extremely progressive role, both within our country and internationally. The SACP has, correctly, supported these positions, and we have sought to work closely with the SA government and ANC to consolidate their leadership on the war.

The SACP has a special responsibility in the coming weeks and months to ensure that, as an Alliance and as a country, we draw not just conjunctural lessons from current events, but that we help underline the systemic features of what is happening, in order to consolidate a more effective strategic way forward.

The US-led war and its global reverberations are, in fact, both an additional cause, and further evidence of the inability of the leading developed economies of the North to act as a locomotive of global growth and development. What is dramatically uncovered in the war is the utter futility of the myth of neo-liberal, US-led global growth and development - the dominant ideological myth of the past decade.

As Samir Amin points out very well ("Confronting the Empire"), far from being a locomotive of growth and development, the US economy is extraordinarily parasitic, and the parasitism has been accentuated through the past decade of unipolarity. In 1989 the US trade deficit stood at a whopping $100 billion. By 2000 it had grown to $450 billion. The US now even has a trade deficit in high technology goods. These facts are underpinned by systemic problems within the US - its increasing slipping back in terms of labour productivity, a consequence of a poor educational system, and the general cutting back on public spending. The "growth miracle" in the Clinton years was fed by expenditure based on growing social inequalities (and even on Enron style fraud).

The parasitism of the US economy can only be sustained by high levels of capital flows from the rest of the world. To support its high indebtedness and high consumption levels, the US increasingly relies on extra-economic coercion (notwithstanding all of the rhetoric about "free market" principles). Indeed, virtually the only area in which the US has a comparative advantage is in the armaments sector (where it has 60% of world trade), a sector that operates outside of the rules of the market.

The war in Iraq (and Afghanistan, and Palestine, and…where next?), a war for which Bush has just asked Congress for an additional $75 billion, needs to be understood, systemically, against this background. The world is being asked/coerced into supporting, not just an unjust and illegal war, but to prop up parasitic US consumption and economic "growth". Leading capitalist circles, including in countries opposing the war (Germany, France) are complicit in propping up this parasitism, seeing in the alternative (a challenge to US economic and political hegemony) a threat to the whole system. Nonetheless, the intra-imperialist contradictions have sharpened, and not just because of the war, but because increasingly the EU, Japan, Russia and China are being forced to choose between their own economic growth and the imperatives of a persisting and costly parasitic US dominance.

NEPAD and the war against Iraq

Addressing a joint World Council of Churches, All Africa Conference of Churches and SA Council of Churches, President Mbeki (March 24, 2003) predicted that the war in Iraq and post-war reconstruction in West Asia would push NEPAD down the world agenda. While this would certainly draw away resources that might have gone into NEPAD, comrade Mbeki said: "In another sense it may be a good thing that others around the world put Africa on the backburner. We will have to rely on ourselves, our own resources and efforts."

The SACP certainly agrees with comrade Mbeki that greater emphasis on African self-reliance, and more stress on intra-African (and South-South partnerships), as opposed to inordinate emphasis on a partnership with the developed North, will be a necessary and positive shift. We need to support this perspective and seek to consolidate it as a long-term strategic perspective, and not just a conjunctural response to the war and its immediate aftermath.

Indeed, even before the war in Iraq, the SACP had been underlining this point. In our SACP Programme, adopted at our July 2002 Congress we noted:

"While seeking to leverage foreign investment - we must increasingly mobilise African resources (including, critically, public sector resources), and use these to kick-start strategic growth and development programmes. In short, the "partnership" must be less about "good African" behaviour in exchange for "generous" international investment - and more about a collective global endeavour to ensure good and equitable governance, and a collective investment endeavour in which investment opportunities are provided as a result of African-initiated and, as much as possible, African-resourced programmes. The idea of "partnership" must not be reduced to an Africa/developed North partnership - we need to put a great deal of emphasis on intra-African partnerships, and also on South-South partnerships."

Of course, all of this needs to be properly understood. We are explicitly NOT saying that we should, or even could, forego the pursuit of foreign investment, some export driven growth, and other engagements with global markets. However, these engagements need to be given their due weight - an excessive reliance on alignment with the interests of global capital, in the expectation that the economies of the North will play the role of growth locomotive, will be self-defeating.

We need to remember, however, that a progressive critique of neo-liberalism and of the systemic features of global capitalism, enjoyed some support within the wider alliance in late 1997 and early 1998, at the height of the Asian "contagion" and Russian "melt-down". However, when these "regionalised" crises abated, the very correct and progressive positions were dropped off. We cannot allow this to happen once more.


Open letter to Communist and Workers Parties from the Communist Party of the USA  

Dear comrades,

The present moment holds the gravest dangers for a world challenged by the most aggressive, rapacious segment of U.S. imperialism, represented by the administration of George W. Bush, now poised to attack Iraq in defiance of the world's great peace majority.

Since its inception, this administration has pursued unilateral actions to build still further a war machine that has already outstripped the rest of the world combined. It has scrapped any international agreement that hinders it in further tightening its strategic grasp and its control of energy resources around the globe, and assuring ever greater profits for the U.S. transnational corporate sector.

But hope that a very different world can be won springs from the unprecedented and ever-growing global resistance to the Bush administration's drive for perpetual war. We may never know how many millions poured into the streets on every continent, in the great February 15 urpsurge. The drumbeat continues with actions big and small. A spectrum of class and social forces is coming together in broad all-people's coalitions. Strongly rooted in the working class, these formations increasingly reach into the middle strata and and even segments of ruling circles in many countries.

The worldwide communist and workers party movement is fully engaged in building these all people's coalitions, which alone are the bulwark against the most dangerous imperialism ever. Our parties have much to learn from each other about this mobilizing process.

The broad anti war movements have also played a key role, along with economic considerations and interimperialist rivalries, in the unprecedented resistance by UN Security Council members including France, Germany and Russia, joined by China. While the positions of bourgeois governments can shift quickly under the impact of perceived national interests and pressure from Washington, their opposition to the U.S. war drive against Iraq provides a clue to the scope of forces that can be drawn into the anti-war movement.

The Bush administration's drive for perpetual war -- now focusing on Iraq and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea but global in its outlook -- will unleash harrowing human and environmental consequences, imperiling struggles everywhere for economic and social justice, freedom and democracy. Peoples the world over, including the USA, will suffer diversion of precious resources to war as well as environmental destruction and widespread devastation. This drive for domination takes place in the context of a worsening worldwide economic crisis whose already devastating effects will be greatly multiplied by war.

The CPUSA believes it is greatly in the interest of the broad anti war struggle, and indeed of humanity's very future, that our parties exchange views and experiences on this great process of coalition building which seeks to dam the torrent unleashed by U.S. imperialism's most dangerous elements.

With warm comradely regards, National Committee, Communist Party USA March 19, 2003
Communist Party USA 235 W. 23rd St., New York, NY 10011 USA * (212) 989-4994 * cpusa@cpusa.org
International Department: 3940 High St., Oakland, CA 94619 * (510) 336-0617 * cpusainternat@mindspring.com


Umsebenzi Online 12 – Special Edition in honour of Chris Hani

The 12th edition of Umsebenzi Online will be published as Special Chris Hani Memorial Edition on 10 April 2003.

This will be in honour of the 10th Anniversary of the murder of the late SACP General Secretary, Chris Martin Thembisile Hani, who was murdered on 10 April 1993.

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