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RED ALERT
Reconfiguration from below: SACP takes responsibility, builds democratic popular power, contests elections in Metsimaholo
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Issue 151 - Second Quarter 1999

Contents

Editorial Notes

June 2 Elections, a platform to accelerate transformation
Proposed IMF gold sales, a favour to the 3rd World? 

Local Government

Public-Private Partnerships: the challenges for local government by Yunus Carrim and Ncumisa Kondlo 

Debate - Do we need a Young Communist League?

Youth for socialism and socialism for youth by Sizwe Shezi
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Youth for socialism - absolutely yes, but how? by Ben Molapo

Document

 Building and consolidating the political conciousness of the working class. Political Report of the National Secretariat, February, 1999 

International

Globalised capitalist crisis by Haroon Aziz
Yugoslavia, NATO's criminal bombing 

Letter

 Reform or Revolution? - A response to Kader Asmal by Shane Moran

June 2 Elections - A platform to accelerate transformation

The ANC-alliance performance is all the more noteworthy in that it marks an improvement on the 1994 "liberation" election score of 62,6 percent. Common wisdom in the local and international media held that, after 5 years in government, the ANC would suffer some electoral slippage, as the aura of the liberation struggle began to wane, and as the constraints and difficulties of governing translated into a growing popular disillusionment. These predictions have been confounded.

The ANC result was built, essentially, on continued support from its huge African base amongst workers, and the urban and rural poor. In his victory speech, President-elect, comrade Thabo Mbeki, referred appropriately to a mandate from the "poorest of the poor". But there were also very significant swings towards the ANC from minority communities - notably Coloured and Indian voters. The Northern Cape province, in which the majority of voters are Afrikaans-speaking Coloured people, moved from being a marginal ANC province in 1994 (ANC 49,7 percent and NP 40,5 percent), to a clear-cut ANC majority - 64,5 percent. The ANC, while still not attaining a 50 percent majority in the Western Cape, has emerged in that province as the largest party (42 percent to the NP's 38,2 percent). This contrasts with the 1994 result in which the ANC received 33 percent, and the NP 53,2 percent. In this province, too, the swing to the ANC was propelled by Coloured rural poor voters.

The ANC has emerged with strong majorities in 7 of the 9 provinces, including a much improved 66,67 percent (compared to 57,6 percent in 1994) in the Gauteng province, the economic power-centre of the country. Only in the Western Cape and in KwaZulu-Natal provinces does the ANC not have a 50 percent plus majority. In KZN, Gatsha Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party obtained 42 percent of the vote, to the ANC's 39 percent (compared with the IFP's 50,3 percent and the ANC's 32,2 percent in 1994).

What is especially pleasing is the fact that the ANC fought the election with a manifesto that focused on accelerated change, that re-affirmed the Reconstruction and Development Programme - emphasising anti-neoliberal perspectives, of connecting social and economic development to growth, and emphasising the priority for growth based on infrastructural development. The ANC manifesto, which was debated and drafted with its alliance partners, also admitted that there were major challenges that required urgent and sustained measures - notably the crisis of unemployment.

The SACP played an active role in the ANC election campaign, both in releasing significant numbers of Party cadres to work in key election structures at all levels of the ANC, and in its own right. The Party CC identified several key strategic objectives for the campaign - an overwhelming ANC victory; a substantive election manifesto, based on the RDP and reflecting important policy progress made by the alliance in the past 12 months; and the consolidation of ANC and SACP grass-roots structures. The Party targeted the working class, the rural poor and students and intellectuals, seeking to persuade them to turn out in large numbers to vote ANC. It is clear that these strategic objectives have been substantially achieved.

Apart from general ANC-led campaigning, the SACP assumed responsibility for playing the leading role in the organisation of countrywide Chris Hani commemoration rallies in early April. Over 40 rallies and mass meetings were held all over the country, and included two of the largest rallies of the entire election campaign. On May 20, the SACP (working closely with ANC and COSATU structures) organised a countrywide "Red Thursday" industrial areas election blitz. Scores of factory meetings were held in canteens and at factory gates. Extensive pamphleteering was conducted, with a special focus on work-places not organised by COSATU affiliates, with the objective of reaching unorganised workers. Over 400,000 workers were reached on Red Thursday alone, but SACP factory meetings, shop steward workshops and factory blitzes were also held before and after this particular day as well.

Regrouping in opposition ranks

Apart from the ANC landslide, the election was notable for the regrouping that took place in opposition party ranks. The former official opposition party, the NP, was relegated to fourth position, and was displaced by the Democratic Party as official opposition. The IFP retained its third place with a diminished percentage. The NP plunged from its 1994 20,4 percent result, to 6,87 percent of the national vote. By contrast, the Democratic Party moved from a mere 1,7 percent in 1994 to 9,55 percent in these elections. The IFP dropped from 10,5 percent to 8,59 percent. As most commentators have noted, the DP's improvement was essentially at the expense of the NP (and of other right-wing white parties, like the Freedom Front). The DP fought an unabashed campaign of appealing to the fears and disgruntlement of whites, with its election slogan being, "Fight Back". Overall, the pool of voters voting for opposition parties declined, and the DP's relative success needs to be understood in the light of all of this.

However, the DP's relative success will certainly have some impact. With 38 seats, the DP will use parliament to advance a more shrill and, to a degree, more articulate neo-liberal ideological platform. The extent to which this DP platform and its MPs (mostly English-speaking white professionals - lawyers and ex-journalists) will be able to effectively represent what is now a largely Afrikaans-speaking, white working class constituency recently weaned from Van Schalkwyk's National Party and General Constand Viljoen's Freedom Front, remains to be seen. In augmenting its vote, the DP has taken itself and its largely white constituency into another cul de sac, liberal in form, but racist in essence.

Challenges ahead

The ANC landslide victory was the product of an extremely effective campaign that enabled the ANC and its alliance partners to re-connect much more dynamically with our mass constituency. However, we should not forget that in mid-1998 our own internal polling showed that firm support for the ANC had dropped off very significantly, and that there were high levels of popular disgruntlement and a sense of popular alienation. Government was often perceived to be remote and uncaring. The reversal of this situation was accomplished by a return to our mass base, work that had been somewhat neglected in the first four years after the 1994 elections. The ANC's December 1997 Mafikeng Conference, the October 1998 Alliance Summit, and the preparedness of the ANC government to listen to popular concerns, and to concede that many problems still persisted, were all significant ingredients in the major turn-around.

However, we cannot afford, as an alliance, to let matters drift once more for four years, waking up only on the eve of the next elections. While mass mobilisational and organisational work will not necessarily be sustained at the same levels of intensity, we must guard against a dangerous drop-off in our mass work. We need to ensure that there are effective and sustainable programmes of action.

The strategic challenge

Underpinning all of these considerations is the broader concern. Over the first five years we have succeeded in building a legal, constitutional and institutional framework for our programme of ongoing national democratic revolution. We have also propelled major socio-economic transformations in many sectors - bringing water, electrification, housing, health-care and education to millions of the poorest of the poor. Advances of this kind, against the grain of "market demand", have required political determination and a preparedness to use the resources of state power.

However, five years down the line, South Africa still remains one of the most unequal societies in the world, coming marginally after Brazil and Guatemala, according to the Gini co-efficient measurement. Today, almost half (45,7 percent) of South Africans (95 percent of them blacks) live in poverty

This persisting and dramatic structural inequality evokes the question of the principal strategic contradiction in our society as identified by our Party programme. According to our programme, the principle strategic contradiction in our society lies within the general camp of those forces committed to some kind of post-apartheid change, between:

  • those forces aligned around the project of a thorough-going National Democratic Revolution;
  • and those forces bent on changing the strategic terrain through limited change, limited structural adjustments in order better to consolidate minority (in this case class rather than race minority) power and privilege - by returning South African capitalism to profitability, and by more thoroughly integrating the South African economy into imperialist dominated global capital accumulation.

In many respects, the last 5 years within SA have been marked by a strategic convergence between all forces committed to some kind of post-apartheid change in our country (ranging from the US State Department, big capital inside SA, through to the liberation movement). This strategic convergence has been useful (indeed crucial), in that it has given us breathing space to consolidate the victory over apartheid, and to isolate the most reactionary forces completely opposed to even limited democratisation and deracialisation.

But the convergence - variously represented as "the rainbow nation" idea, a "winning nation" project, a win-win scenario, or SA's "return to the family of nations" - has disguised the more fundamental strategic challenge, the principal strategic contradiction of our situation. We have not been wrong to co-operate with all forces for change, nor will we be wrong to continue to do so - however, the key strategic issue is which agenda within that transitional convergence wins out:

  • the agenda of limited change, the agenda of a partial deracialisation of class power, privilege and wealth, leaving poverty racialised;
  • or the agenda of thorough-going transformation ?

Assessing the impact of our transformation programmes

These concerns must be the yardstick against which we measure many realities, and in the first place, the success and sustainability of our various transformation programmes. We are justly proud of our achievements in terms of electricity, water, housing, and the beginnings of transformation in health and education. But to what extent are these being undermined, or constrained, by the principal contradiction, and by the capacity of big capital to relativise and peripheralise our achievements?

This concern relates to a couple of dimensions:

  • While we have made millions of electricity connections and reached millions of people with water - what about affordability? How many disconnections have there also been? How sustainable are our mass provision programmes without major changes in terms of support to the poor, or cross subsidisation?
  • Directly related to this - it is common cause that we have a serious problem at the level of local government. This is often attributed to "laziness" or a "lack of skills" among those deployed to this level of governance. While these limitations might, or might not, be true, the more profound issue is to what extent are these problems the symptoms of an impossible situation into which local government has often been thrust? At national and provincial levels we roll out electricity, water, etc, but it is to the local level that the much harder task (and perhaps impossible task) is left - of recovering costs from the poor and unemployed. It is only by changing the balance of forces nationally, and therefore the whole approach to sustaining RDP infrastructural development, that much of what we are doing will have any strategic impact. This relates to the struggle to increasingly decommodify (and not commodify) basic needs.

According to SAMWU, "50 percent or more of water schemes are not working properly because of poor management and poor maintenance. That means at least 1,5 million people are not getting regular supplies of clean water." (Sunday World, May 9 1999). Mvula Trust and the Department of Water Affairs contest these figures, but concede that "there are serious problems...they happen in all countries when a lot of water-supply systems are put in place."

To what extent are these and other programmes - education transformation, health, housing, land reform - altering the balance of forces, or simply patching up the worst, while confirming the underlying inequalities of our society? To what extent is change shadowed by the crisis of unaffordability at the one end, and by two-tierism at the other? As we advance with health transformation, so the private health sector grows, accumulating resources and professional skills. This is a sector accessible, basically, to the rich and those with access to medical aid. But according to a CASE survey, 72 percent of South Africans do not belong to a medical aid or health insurance. (CASE June 1998 study commissioned by HRC). According to Fair Share, "private spending on health care per person is four times that of spending in the public sector (R2500 versus R641).

Likewise, to what extent are we building, unwittingly, a two-tier education system? While black students have more legal access to former white universities than ever before, in 1999 there are actually fewer black students overall in tertiary education than a few years ago, and the historically disadvantaged campuses are stuck in crisis and confusion. There is also a possible looming crisis in teaching in public schools - in 1998 there was a shortage of 600 secondary teachers, almost double the figure forecast in the 1995 National Teacher Education Audit. By next year the shortage may well be almost double the 4064 forecast. The Durban College of Education had room for 100 students last year, but found only 60 suitable candidates, and the JCE enrolled 265, instead of 300. At Wits the number of students enrolling for education courses has halved since 1994; at UNISA they dropped 20 percent; and at Durban-Westville, only 50 students applied this year compared to 300 in 1994/5. Some academic experts are predicting a teacher shortage crisis by 2003 (see Sunday Times May 9 1999). All of this is likely to impact upon the progressive transformation of education.

Similar concerns about "two tierism" apply to the labour market - there have been major and impressive reforms in the labour market. But at the same time there have been mass retrenchments from key sectors, and a rapid process of casualisation, contracting out, etc, that often operates below and beyond the reach of the newly entrenched rights. While the statistics for job losses and job creation are somewhat unclear and disputed, what no-one denies is that massive jobs losses have occurred in the core sectors of the economy, while job creation has often been in the less formal and more scattered sectors - tourism, housing construction. According to Statistics South Africa almost 500, 000 jobs have been lost since 1994. In 1998 the annual job loss was around 180,000. The 1998 figure represents a 3 percent annual job loss. The 1998 figure includes some 90,000 mine-workers, and 37,000 public sector workers.

While job creation in sectors like tourism and micro businesses may well be more sustainable, and the "only way to go", the fact is that the pattern of job losses and job creation has clearly weakened the mass capacity of the organised working class, and impacts directly on the class balance of forces.

While there have been important popular victories and a major process of change has been under way in our country over the last 5 years, it is not so clear whether these changes have strengthened the popular forces more than the key strategic opponent. Unless we are prepared to be honest and self-critical, the danger is that changes will be unstrategic (change but not transformation), confined to marginally improving the lot of an impoverished majority, while actually entrenching the power and privileges of a partially de-racialised elite. This outcome will, in the longer term, result also in the rolling back of the marginal improvements themselves. We should not argue that momentum towards this outcome is unambiguously the dominant trend in the present, but unless it is consciously and strategically countered it will become that. The overwhelming ANC alliance election victory, and a massive popular mandate to accelerate change, present us with the opportunity to more boldly and strategically advance the agenda of national democratic transformation.

In practical terms, this means many things. The SACP needs to deepen and consolidate its presence within the working class. We need to build on the experience of Red Thursday, and seek more systematically to establish a regular Party presence in industrial areas - carrying out strategic blitzes, for instance, around transformation issues. We need to use this campaigning work as a central programmatic task for our emerging SACP industrial units. Communist cadres need also to play an active role in sustaining ANC organisational work, ensuring that the activist, grass-roots networks built up during the election campaign are not forgotten and lost.

With opposition propaganda suggesting that a two-thirds ANC majority will lead to a "de facto one-party state" we need to ensure that parties like the DP do not win the mantle of the "public's ears and eyes". This means, amongst other things, ensuring that the legislatures, which are dominated by the ANC, play an active and popular role. We need to ensure in the coming year, before the next round of local government elections, that major priority is placed on restructuring and transforming this crucial layer of governance. Fresh impetus must be given to the resolutions of last year's Presidential Job Summit. In particular, the resolution to hold industrial sector summits. The SACP believes that, while focusing on job creation, these summits need to be used to develop strategic industrial policy. These are just some of the priorities that lie ahead. Above all, in everything that we do, we must ensure that the popular forces are organised, and remain active and empowered.


Proposed IMF gold sales, a favour to the 3rd World?

Now, however, there is an acknowledgement that something has to be done to relieve the debt burden on the most heavily indebted countries. The proposal is to sell IMF gold reserves. The revenues from this sale will be used to help relieve debt. But is this really going to help? What implications does it have for South Africa?

To answer these questions some brief background is needed. The debt burden on many Third World countries, and especially on most African countries, has long since become unpayable. In most societies, the law provides for individuals or businesses with insupportable debt to be declared "bankrupt". This gives them the chance to start again on a clean state. The grand-children and great-grandchildren of a bankrupt are not forced to go on paying for the debt.

But in the global finance system presided over by the IMF, impoverished Third World countries have not been allowed to start again. Through the 1980s and 90s vicious structural adjustment programmes have bled indebted countries dry, undermining social and economic recovery. Generation upon generation is being forced to pay for debts of the 1970s.

Ethiopia's debt in 1996 was $10 billion, which for developed countries is a relatively small sum. (According to the Africa Policy Information Centre in Washington, Europe spent $11 billion on ice-cream in the same year!). But the debt was almost thirteen times what Ethiopia earned in exports in that year. Just to service the debt, Ethiopia spent 45 percent of its export earning. This is simply not sustainable.

33 of the 41 most indebted countries of the world are in Africa. In our continent, it is only South Africa that is presently able to spend more on health care than on debt service. For most African countries the entire annual health budget is less than R70 per person. No wonder, the All Africa Conference of Churches, grouping more than 150 denominations from around the continent, calls the African debt burden "a new form of slavery as vicious as the slave trade."

What are the origins of the debt? There are many reasons for the debt, but the most important was that, in the early 1970s, Western private banks suddenly found themselves awash with so-called "petro-dollars" - vast profits made in that period by some oil producing states. These profits were then invested in private banks. The private banks greedy to make money from money lent abundant amounts to poor Third World governments. This lending was often also motivated by Cold War considerations, to keep corrupt governments in the South in power, and loyal to the West.

By the late 1970s and early 80s it had become clear that many loans were unpayable. A number of private banks in the West were in trouble. When there are profits to be made, capitalists call for privatisation. But when their own miscalculations back-fire, they look to the nationalisation (or in this case, the transnationalisation) of debt. The IMF and World Bank, which had fallen into the background in the 1960s, were revamped and charged with squeezing debt repayments out of impoverished Third World countries.

For two decades, the post-independence social and economic gains of African societies have been rolled back by barbaric structural adjustment programmes, designed to strip poor countries bare, in an effort to recover debt. Levels of impoverishment have become so severe in many countries, that, by 1996, even the IMF had come to recognise a new approach was required.

A new HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) initiative was put in place. The initiative was important, recognising for the first time that the crisis could not be resolved simply by postponing payments ("rescheduling"). The Western powers acknowledged that some debt would have to be cancelled, and they even agreed that this could be as much as 80 percent.

So far, so good. But how would debt relief be implemented? Would the private Western banks carry some of the pain for their own unwise lending? We are always told the huge profits made by capitalists are justified because they take "risks". But when the risks back-fire, they seem quickly to forget this line of argument!

In the last few months, the IMF has begun to explore a sale of some of its gold reserves as a mechanism for relieving the debt on the most indebted countries. A figure of 5 million, and perhaps even of 10 million fine ounces of gold has been mentioned.

As South Africans, we should certainly support debt relief. But if the gold sale approach goes ahead, once again it will be poor countries that will be forced to act as shock-absorbers. The gold price has been at historic lows. Last year, 90,000 miners were retrenched in South Africa. These are workers not just from our country, but from Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, and other neighbouring countries. Each mine-worker typically supports half a dozen and more family members. A major gold sale of IMF reserves will certainly impact upon marginal mines in our country. Devastating retrenchments may occur.

The South African government has expressed its concerns in Washington about this proposal. We welcome our government's vigilance on this matter, but we would like to see an even firmer stand against IMF gold sales. We call on all countries in our region, and progressive forces world-wide, to oppose this cynical short-cut by the IMF.

It was not the gold-miners of Southern Africa who received Western loans, and it was certainly not they who unwisely lent the money in the first place. Gold-miners, and their already impoverished communities, must not now be made to pay for the IMF's supposedly "generous" debt relief.


Public-Private partnerships: the challenges for local government

Public-Private Partnerships - are they a disguised form of privatisation, or can they be an alternative to privatisation? This is the central question posed by Yunus Carrim and Ncumisa Kondlo. Both are SACP PB members, and both are ANC MPs in the National Assembly serving on its Constitutional Affairs Portfolio Committee.

" In current South African circumstances, the transfer of ownership is not an option for core municipal services, particularly water, electricity and solid waste collection and disposal. Given the central role that these services play in meeting the material, social and economic needs of communities, it is undesirable that ownership of associated infrastructure and assets is removed from the public sphere." (White Paper on Local Government, March 1988, pp.100-1)

" The private sector must not be regarded as a panacea to all the problems confronting local authorities, but must play a complementary role to the role of the municipality. Where the private sector is involved in the delivery of services it must be in a way which does not erode the capacity of the municipality to carry out its developmental role" (Framework for Restructuring of Municipal Service Provision, p 11)

Following the 1995-6 local government elections, previously racially constituted local authorities have been united into single municipalities. These new municipalities are responsible for much larger populations and areas - but without the funds to cater for this. In fact, at least half of the current municipalities are simply not financially viable. In terms of the new Constitution and legislation, moreover, these municipalities have been allocated additional responsibilities to meet the basic needs of people - but this has not been accompanied by the necessary funds, giving rise to the problem of "unfunded mandates". The municipalities are confronted with massive backlogs in services and infrastructure. The government estimates that at least R90 billion is required to attend to this.

Over the past decade, government has been financially squeezed. Public revenue has been declining. More recently, there has been an improvement in the collection of revenue - but the full potential for this is far from being realised. At local government level, the financial crisis is accentuated by the failure of people to pay for municipal services.

Besides the desperate shortage of funds, the municipalities, the government argues, just do not have the capacity to deliver the services to the people. There is an acute lack of management skills, technological expertise and appropriate service-orientation. The local government bureaucracy is bloated, inefficient, and not geared towards delivery to the mass of the people. For the most part, the old white-dominated administrations simply absorbed the administrations of the black local authorities, and there has not been fundamental transformation of the administration to suit the needs of the new local government system. Transformation is painfully slow. Services have to be delivered urgently.

The government has turned to the private sector to play a major role in service delivery. This takes various forms - from short-term, tightly-controlled contracting of a select service, or even a specific aspect of a service, to outright privatisation, including the sale of assets. A variety of Municipal Service Partnerships (MSPs) involving municipalities and outside agencies is being encouraged. These include public-public partnerships, partnerships with CBOs and NGOs, and public-private partnerships. The Department of Constitutional Development (DCD) is currently working on a regulatory framework for MSPs. The main emphasis is on PPPs. It is felt that the private sector will bring much-needed financial investment in infrastructure; managerial skills; technical expertise; new technology; and cost-saving, efficient and effective approaches to service delivery that also provide better quality and greater choice for people.

This approach to the private sector is also linked to changing conceptions of the role of the state in general. The state is seen increasingly as an enabler and facilitator and not a deliverer of services. Consistent with this is the notion that the role of local government is not to do everything but to make sure that everything is done. Mario Cuomo, Governor of New York is often quoted to the effect that "it is not the government's obligation to provide services, but to see to it that they're delivered". Apparently, Nicholas Ridley, the former British Conservative Party's Secretary of State for the Environment, said that the perfect local authority is one in which the councillors meet once a year to let the contracts for its services and then go home! So local government changes from a service provider to a contract monitor!

Of course, there is a strong thrust in this direction. But the implementation of PPPs does not inevitably reinforce this approach. Certainly, drawing the private sector into the delivery of municipal services does not necessarily mean a weakening of local government or the abdication of its responsibilities to the people. In fact, appropriately done, it can serve to strengthen local government and enhance its credibility.

PPPs different from privatisation

PPPs are different from privatisation - though in practice they can become the same. Those opposed to PPPs often argue that they are a form of privatisation or a precusor to privatisation. But PPPs need not be identified in this way. They can in practice be an alternative to privatisation in conditions where the public sector is not able to deliver.

Whereas privatisation entails the selling off of state assets, in PPPs the state retains ownership of assets but allows the private sector to manage and use them to deliver services and fulfill other functions usually carried out by the state - in this case the municipal state. The private sector has to invest capital, infrastructure and technology, and contribute to building the capacity of a municipality over a 20-30 year period. At the end of this period, a municipality can retain the assets invested by the private sector and take over the delivery of the services and carrying out of the other functions again. Basically, a PPP is a contractual agreement between a municipality and a private sector provider to deliver municipal services for a particular period.

In the case of PPPs, the municipality remains accountable for the services to the public and is suceptible to political pressure around it. In the case of privatisation, the relationship is usually solely between the consumers of services and the private sector providers.

Services that are privatised are subject fundamentally to market forces. Privatisation represents the "rolling back of the state". Importantly, services rendered through PPPs can be subject to substantial regulation. Municipalities can regulate tariffs, minimum standards and quality of services, and such issues as staff conditions and community consultation. There can even be limits on profit margins for the private sector agencies. If private sector providers fail to meet these conditions penalties can be imposed and the contract rescinded.

Ultimately the issue is not whether the private sector must be involved in municipal partnerships, but on what terms. PPPs have to be implemented in a way that enhances the developmental role of government.

Extent of PPPs

PPPs are relatively new in South Africa. The Department of Constitutional Development (DCD) has recently established the MIIU (Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit) to assist municipalities to enter into PPPs on favourable terms. There are several pilot projects underway. These are spread around the country and take different forms. Examples of PPPs are Queenstown which has a 25 year contract for water and sanitation, Benoni which has a contract on fire and emergency services, Richards Bay with its "Taxi City" development, and Springs which has a partnership on bus services. Other PPPs being implemented or in the pipeline include water and sanitation in Port Elizabeth, East London, Stutterheim and Fort Beaufort, and emergency services in Pretoria.

It is the 30 year water and sanitation PPPs for Nelspruit and the Dolphin Coast that have aroused the most controversy. The Nelspruit municipality argues that it needs R250m to meet the water and sanitation needs of its residents but has an entire capital budget of only R30m. SAMWU and COSATU objected to the PPP on the grounds of lack of adequate consultation, the municipality's failure to explore other options, the terms on which the PPP was being proposed, and questions of corruption surrounding the multi-national private sector provider, Biwater. They pointed out that at least 60% of Nelspruit's residents earn less than R600 a month and feared that the PPP will inevitably mean reduced cross-subsidisation and an increase in tariffs. Following mass action and threats of a general stayaway, the government, SALGA (South African Local Government Association) and the unions entered into negotiations and finalised an agreement on a framework for the restructuring of municipal service delivery.

Difficulties with PPPs

Most of our newly established municipalities do not have access to the considerable skills required to design appropriate contracts for PPPs. On the other hand, private sector providers, particularly multi-national companies, have considerable experience and expertise in PPPs and are favourably positioned to enter into contracts that primarily serve their own interests. To monitor the implementation of the contracts also calls for specialized skills - and municipalities are severely disadvantaged in this respect. Yet monitoring of the contracts is crucial, and key to the successful implementation of PPPs. So it is vital that there is considerable investment in providing municipalities with the skills to effectively monitor the contracts.

Particularly difficult is ensuring that tariff increases are controlled and job losses avoided. These issues have to be addressed clearly in the contracts and in other ways, including the regulatory framework for MSPs.

A key justification for PPPs is that through the engagement of the private sector the capacity of municipalities will be developed. But given the private sectors orientation to profits, will this happen in practice? Determined efforts will have to be made to ensure this. Municipalities will also have to guard against inheriting expensive systems from the private sector providers at the end of the contract which they do not have the capacity to manage.

Municipalities will also have to ensure that the private sector does not indulge in "cherry-picking" of services - choosing to get involved in established services that cater mainly for the well-to-do and have the prospects of high profits, at the expense of extending services to those in need. At one level, PPPs also suit the private sector as it means municipalities bear some of the risks of new investments - which is a further cause for municipalities to be alert in their relationship with the private sector providers.

PPPs open up space for corruption, and the bribery of councillors and officials. This has certainly been the experience in many countries. The forming of cartels to avoid competition is another problem. In the Phillipines, the British water company Biwater has been charged with corruption. In 1997 the French audit court also commented on corrupt practices in the French private sector water companies.

One of the arguments for drawing the private sector into municipal services is that it will reduce costs and increase efficiency through encouraging greater competition. But the result has often been not greater competition but concentration. A few companies tend to monopolize a service - so instead of a government momopoly, a private monopoly emerges.

Many of the services provided by municipalities are in a sense constitutional rights. There are concerns about whether it is appropriate that these services be subject to a profit motive and be run by private sector organisations more responsible to shareholders than to citizens. It is even debatable whether it is constitutional to delegate the power to manage these services and levy and collect tariffs to outside agencies.

Municipalities have to guard against citizens being reduced to consumers and clients. One commentator observes that with PPPs, service users can be treated largely as "consumers" whose needs are assessed purely in terms of paying individuals rather than as collective groups whose needs may be unequal and contradictory. Performance indicators can be adopted which give greater priority to narrow efficiency and "value for money" criteria rather than to effectiveness of service delivery and meeting social needs. He observes that underlying the terms "user", "consumer", "client" and "citizen" are very different conceptions of social relationships, and the increasing use of commercial categories implies a shift in the discourse of local government from self-government and the political sphere to a commercial function. A "citizen" implies the possession of civil and constitutional rights, while a "customer" implies a temporal contractual relationship. A customer would expect a purely commercial transaction, a citizen participation in the design of services and in the form of their delivery.

While there have been significant successes in PPP projects elsewhere in the world, there have also been dismal failures. There is a need to more carefully consolidate the lessons of these experiences, particularly those in developing countries. The overriding cause of the failures has been the failure of the private sector to deliver on what it was contracted to. Even with the success stories, it has usually been enormously difficult to get the private sector to play the role it agreed to and fulfill its obligations. It would be very foolish not to be on guard as we launch into PPPs in this country.

PPPs to Advance Social Goals

There are obviously many difficulties with PPPs. But these can be addressed. Appropriately implemented and, crucially, as part of an overall strategy for service delivery and growth and development, PPPs have enormous potential to advance the developmental role of local government and progressive social goals.

In the first place though, it is vital that the capacity of local government to deliver services and fulfill its developmental role is considerably strengthened. Local government, after all, has been described as the "hands and feet" of the RDP. The pending Municipal Systems Bill will be important in contributing to strengthening municipalities in this regard . The revamping of the local government training system, the move towards performance-based contracts for senior management, a code of conduct for the administration, and various other developments are also vital in this respect. The restructuring of the administration must serve to strengthen the capacity of municipalities. SAMWU's "turnaround" strategy and proposals for workplace restructuring to enhance in-house capacity to deliver must be explored further.

There also needs to be a major review of local government funding to ensure that this important sphere of government is given access to more funds within the obvious financial constraints.

PPPs are of course only one form of MSPs. It is important that municipalities pursue public-public partnerships, and partnerships with CBOs and NGOs. The White Paper on Local Government stresses that each municipality has to find "an appropriate mix of service delivery options to suit its own needs". But not enough is being done to encourage partnerships other than PPPs. The government and DCD should be doing much more to empower municipalities to enter into partnerships other than PPPs. PPPs, moreover, have to be linked with other service delivery options in a coherent manner and constitute part of the IDP (Integrated Development Plan) of a municipality.

PPPs should be implemented in a way that contributes to the inter-linked goals of economic growth and social redistribution.

In deciding on a PPP, it is vital that from the very outset there is the fullest consultation with all the relevant stakeholders.

Municipalities have to be empowered with the skills to draft PPP contracts and monitor their implementation. The extent to which the MIIU is serving to do this needs to be carefully evaluated. Other means of empowering municipalities also need to be explored.

The implementation of PPPs has to be consistent with the needs of affirmative action and contribute to the emergence of Black entrepreneurs.

Many of these issues are addressed in the "Framework for Restructuring of Municipal Service Provision" negotiated between the government, SALGA and COSATU. The framework sets out principles of service delivery, the need for public sector delivery, the need for private sector involvement and the process of restructuring of service provision. In an introduction to the Framework, SALGA chairperson, Councillor Colin Matjila, summarises the Framework: "It puts emphasis on building the capacity of municipalities as the preferred providers of services and allows for private sector participation in municipal service delivery if the municipality lacks the capacity to provide services on its own." There is agreement that the preferred method for service delivery is through the public sector - but where an alternative service provider can do better, it will be engaged. Exactly what criteria will be used to decide whether the alternate service provider would do better needs to be clarified further. Presumably this can be done through the Sectoral Forum established in terms of the Framework. The Sectoral Forum is based on the principles of the National Framework Agreement and includes representatives of the government, SALGA and the unions.

The Framework is fairly advanced and comprehensive. It understands basic needs to be defined in terms of the RDP and the Constitution. The Framework notes: "Whatever appropriate means chosen by a municipality to deliver services, the ability of the municipality to achieve its social objectives must be strengthened. Private sector involvement, if properly regulated and managed, can assist municipalities to bring in greater investment and coverage, and better quality services". The Framework deals, among other issues, with the need for lifeline tariffs, limits on tariff increases, standards of services, regulation of profit margins, monitoring of contracts, dispute resolution mechanisms, penalties for failure to fulfill obligations, transparency of financial records and information, social reinvestment and regular reporting to municipalities. The Framework has enormous potential. It must be implemented appropriately. It must also be developed further and influence the final regulatory framework for MSPs that is currently being worked on by DCD.

Need to Clarify SACP Approach

The essential argument of this paper is that, while the public sector is the preferred service provider, it is clear that municipalities alone cannot meet the basic needs of our people. A variety of MSPs is necessary. PPPs should be seen as one of several different forms of MSPs. PPPs, moreover, should be implemented through the maximum consultation of all the relevant stakeholders as an alternative to privatisation, and as part of an overall strategy for service delivery. There are certainly no guarantees that PPPs will be implemented in this way. To ensure that they are, it is necessary to guard against the pitfalls that accompany them and to build on their progressive potential. The Framework Agreement provides a good basis for this - and should be implemented appropriately.

The SACP needs, in our view, to discuss and develop an approach along these lines. Debates around PPPs impinge on the nature of the South African state - and given our preoccupation with the notion of a "developmental" state, we need to be clearer about PPPs. Also a significant number of councillors are members of the SACP and need greater direction. Municipal workers are being considerably affected by PPPs. SAMWU and COSATU have been engaged in mass pressure and negotiations around PPPs. The SACP has been silent on the matter. This silence must be silenced. We need a voice on PPPs.


"Youth for Socialism and Socialism for the Youth": A position paper for the re-establishment of a SACP Young Communist League (YCL)

Sizwe Sizwe Shezi

"We communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man's own labour, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity, and independence... You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition of whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society... Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriation" (Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto)

In this era of intensifying capitalist globalisation and the dominance of the ideology of neo-liberalism we are being asked to forget about the very basics of the nature of capitalist society as captured by Marx and Engels above. This quotation also firmly reminds us of the ultimate goal of communists - a vision that we dare not lose sight of! Keeping the vision alive and understanding the basic reasons for the continued failure of capitalism to meet the needs of the overwhelming majority of the people of the globe should be the basis on which the SACP should revive the Young Communist League. This quote should also be a message to the youth of our country, that unless our struggle is a socialist one, for the abolition of the capitalist order, indeed the majority of our youth has no future other than that of misery and poverty.

Of course, the struggle for socialism is not an abstract struggle emanating simply from a vision, but it must derive from the concrete conditions prevailing at particular times in any country. It must also be rooted and connected to the major struggles of the day in any society. That is why Marx and Engels in the Manifesto, again sharply remind us of the connection between concrete conditions and struggles and their connection to a socialist future: "In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things. In all these movements they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time" (ibid)

We are citing the above quotations in order to situate the argument of this paper as to the need for the establishment of an SACP Young Communist League (YCL) in the current period. The question might as well be asked as to why only at this juncture are some of the young communists in South Africa thinking about re-establishing the YCL. Firstly, let us state upfront that the argument for the re-establishment of a YCL is not informed by an oppositional or competitive stance toward the ANC Youth League (YL). Instead the mobilisation, organisation and education of young communists and socialists can significantly contribute to the very strengthening of the ANCYL itself. Secondly, the proposal for the re-establishment of the YCL is not informed by what some of our detractors would say is a dissatisfaction of young communists with the political direction of the ANCYL. Young communists, just like all communists in South Africa, know that whatever difficulties might be there in our allied formations, communists should be in the forefront of trying to tackle those difficulties, rather than flee to other formations.

The first and most important reason for the re-establishment of the YCL is to ensure the organisation of communist youth in an era when the youth is being particularly targeted by neo-liberalism to abandon seeking an alternative to capitalism. This is closely related to the second task that faces any communist party today, to ensure that socialist ideas and organisation are continually refined and reproduced for the survival of the struggle of the working class and its ideas. In short, it is by providing a political home for the communist youth to organise and educate themselves in Marxism-Leninism, within the framework of the SACP policies that conditions are created for the strengthening of the Communist Party itself.

The argument for the re-establishment of the YCL is also informed by the manner in which the Party has over the years come to understand the role of the youth in the National Democratic Revolution (NDR). For instance as far back as 1923, the South African Young Communist League was among the first organisations to call upon young men to refuse to join the South African Defence Force at the time of its inception in 1924. The YCL at the time said:

"Early in 1924 you will be called upon to register your names for the Defence Force. For what purpose will the Defence Force be used when once it comes into being? It will be used for the suppression of the working class and the maintenance of the capitalist class in its position on the backs of the workers. We have only to point out to what happened in 1913,1914 and 1922. The members of the Defence Force will be used to shoot down their striking fathers, brothers and comrades" (August 11, 1923 in South African Communists Speak, 1981, p.73)

Already at that time the YCL had also clearly defined some of the key tasks of mobilising the youth and had adopted a resolution to the effect that, "The main task of the YCL of South Africa is the organisation of the native youth". (Ibid, p.74). Much more significant in these early statements of the South African YCL was the understanding of the place of the youth in both the national and class struggles, and how the (white) youth had been used to wage wars on behalf of exploiters, imperialists, colonialists and oppressors. Already at this time the YCL was also defining the significant and leading role that had to be played by black youth in the unfolding South African revolution.

Again, in the wake of the 1976 student uprisings, the Political Report adopted by the Central Committee in 1977 correctly identified the significance and tasks of the youth at the time:

"The crucial role of the revolutionary student and working youth was also highlighted during the recent events. They are turning in increasing numbers to our liberation alliance and to its armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe. More and more of them are moving closer to the ideas of scientific socialism and towards a more mature grasp of the close relationship between the national and class struggle in our conditions. It is our duty to build upon this rising consciousness amongst the youth and to spread an even deeper understanding of the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. It is the duty of our liberation movement as a whole to give the mass movements which have arisen amongst the youth ... a clear revolutionary political and organisational content". (The African Communist, Third Quarter, 70, 1977, p.47 - emphases in original).

There are a number of important messages contained in this political report about the need for the SACP to focus its attention increasingly on the youth. Firstly, the Central Committee understood the complementarity of the role of both the ANC and the SACP in mobilisation and education of revolutionary youth. Within this complementarity of roles, it is the task of the Party in particular to educate this revolutionary youth in Marxism-Leninism. Indeed the Party made an enormous contribution in developing sections of this youth in Marxism-Leninism. Secondly, the main message from this statement, which the Black Consciousness Movement failed to grasp at the time was that the youth is not simply a homogeneous category, but that it comes from different class backgrounds, with the majority coming from the working class. But, at the same time, it is a distinct social force that can play a decisive role in both the national and class struggles.

Much more importantly, the task of drawing the youth, particularly black youth, into Marxism-Leninism has not become less important with the democratic breakthrough of April 1994. If anything, it has become even more urgent. In fact the call for the re-establishment of the YCL after the unbanning of the SACP was already made by the Natal Midlands Region at the 9th Party Congress in 1991. We argue here that it is even more important in this period of post-1994 South Africa for the SACP together with the ANC to mobilise the youth in general, and for a YCL to organise socialist youth in particular. As pointed out earlier the global dominance of the ideology of neo-liberalism is leading to a situation where the youth is told that their only future is to make it within the capitalist market and division of labour. The late Cde Mbuyi Ngwenda, the General Secretary of NUMSA, best captured this neo-liberal thrust, also aimed at the youth in general:

"By identifying globalisation as the only possible model for development, rather than a particular model based on certain social relations and social constructs, 'globalisation' expands beyond the economic into the ideological as the 'only option'. It acts as the ultimate conservative ideology. Additional justification is redundant, any challenges irrelevant. What progressives are left with are lamentations about corporate power and hand wringing over our collective victimisation" (African Communist, Fourth Quarter, 148, 1997, p.34 - emphases added)

All this is then accompanied by an endless ideological barrage in the press and electronic media, in schools and universities for youth to seek their future in capitalism. Role models upon role models of 'successful' businessmen and women, fat cats, and so on, are thrown upon the youth. Of course what all this conveniently ignores is that millions of youth in the world today languish in poverty and unemployment, never to reach even the queues to becoming tomorrow's fat cats! Whilst it is inevitable that some youth will make a breakthrough, it is an option open to only a tiny minority, part of a 30%-70% solution. This alone serves to underline the importance of mobilising the youth behind socialism, as the only future that can give them decent livelihoods on a sustainable basis. It also serves to underline the need to mobilise the youth into a counter-hegemonic bloc led by the working class, and for socialism. It is only a YCL that can act as the organ to mobilise the youth behind socialism.

Furthermore, there is a growing, if not fashionable, tendency to say that with the 1994 democratic breakthrough, the youth must divorce itself from politics and concentrate on education and improvement of their job opportunities. Whilst no-one can question the fact that the youth must make full use of opportunities provided by the 1994 democratic breakthrough, these appeals to the youth are more often than not as ideologically neutral as they are claimed to be. The very conditions under which young people can be educated or advance themselves are subject to contestation, and therefore various ideological interpretations. These appeals sometimes tend to share the same assumptions as neo-liberalism's triumphalist claims of 'an end of history or ideology'. It is as if the 1994 democratic breakthrough marks the end of ideology and struggles about what kind of society South Africa should be.

The deepening and sharpening of ideological differences and struggles over the nature of post-apartheid society marks the current period in South Africa. Attempts to place youth struggles in opposition to youth advancement is to ask for the depoliticisation of the youth and, much more seriously, marks an attempt to turn the youth into spectators in the very creation of their own future. It is ultimately in a society not only free of national oppression, but also free from women's oppression and class exploitation that the general advancement of the youth on a sustainable basis will be realised.

It is within the above context, based on the understanding that the youth is the future and the future is youth that the importance of re-establishing a YCL lies.

Youth in the national democratic revolution

The key challenge for the whole of our movement is to mobilise the youth to defend, deepen and advance the national democratic revolution. It is to advance the national democratic revolution under the hegemonic leadership of the working class and the mass of the people of our country who have been oppressed under apartheid. However defending and deepening the NDR should not just be a slogan thrown around anyhow, but should consist of a concrete programme to involve our youth in this all-important task. It will have to be within this context that the tasks of a YCL will have to be defined in the current conjuncture.

No one can question or challenge the role of the youth in the national democratic revolution in South Africa. Whether as students, unemployed youth or workers, South African youth has played a very key role in the defeat of apartheid and the establishment of a democratic South Africa. At the same time it must not be forgotten that it was the white youth which was called upon to take up arms in defence of apartheid, just as it was the overwhelming black, and working class youth which took up the struggle, including armed struggle, against the apartheid regime. Similarly, it was the youth that has been called upon in KwaZulu-Natal, since the early 1980's to provide the IFP's counter-revolutionary stormtroopers. Just as it was the youth which also defended the revolution in the urban and rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal. In other words, it is the youth that in almost all societies gets called upon either to defend the existing order or to destroy it.

Given the class and national content of South Africa's colonialism of a special type and the national democratic revolution, the black and working class youth placed itself firmly behind the national liberation movement. It was the African National Congress Youth League, under the leadership of Mandela, Tambo and Sisulu, which adopted the 'Programme of Action' in 1949 that changed the face of South Africa's national liberation struggle forever. It was also the 1976 student uprisings that laid the basis for the mass uprisings of the 1980s that broke the back of apartheid's repressive machinery. It was also the youth that was at the core of township struggles against apartheid in the 1980s.

In some political quarters, the role of the youth in our revolution has over the last 25 years led to some erroneous and childish conclusions about its political role and significance. In the 1970s, particularly just prior to, and after, the 1976 student uprisings, the Black Consciousness Movement tended to treat the youth, particularly the student sector of the youth, as the vanguard of the national liberation struggle. This led to an overemphasis on black youth as the leader of the struggle at the expense of organising around the leading role of the working class in the national liberation struggle. Black consciousness also failed to recognise the particular role of working class youth in the struggles of the 1970s.

The role of the youth in general, and a YCL in particular, in the national democratic revolution in the current conjuncture should be firmly located within the context sketched out in the 1997 SACP Central Committee Discussion Document. This document, amongst other things, states that the broad liberation movement, of which we are a part, is made up of a "fairly disparate range of forces, classes and strata, at the heart of which is the ANC. These are the forces bent on carrying forward a national democratic project, and opposed (in varying degrees) to the legacy of backwardness, underdevelopment and oppression we are inheriting". The document contin"these national democratic forces represent complex, quite dynamic, shifting realities, which are liable to coalesce around two distinct versions of the national democratic project... On the one hand, there are those forces that are liable to conceive of the ND transformation project as a project to 'modernise' the South African economy ... to normalise South Africa's dispensati, and generally to stabilise and surpass the present crisis within a new capitalist order in our country..." The document further points out that,

"Around this version of ND transformation is a potential, new ruling bloc in formation, dominated by the bourgeoisie - including, in practice, both major fractions of the old (white) bourgeoisie and new, emergent capitalist fractions. The latter fractions, while they may take the lead in this process, will conceal their dependency on the former ('modernising' white fraction of the bourgeoisie) with a great deal of rhetoric about the 'need for a patriotic bourgeoisie'..." (African Communist, 1st Quarter, No.146, pp.5-6)

On the other hand there is a second trajectory of the NDR which, the document argues, we need to propagate, advance and defend. "This second potential trajectory is one in which the social weight, interests and concerns of the working class as a whole, and the broader rural and urban poor, are hegemonic" (ibid, p.8). What this document highlights are the deepening contestations, both inside and outside the broad movement, around the nature and direction of the NDR, thus requiring maximum vigilance from the liberation movement as a whole, and our Party in particular. A YCL therefore needs to be absolutely clear not only about the need to defend and deepen the NDR, but also about which class forces should be hegemonic in order for a working class-led NDR to be effectively defended and deepened.

No doubt the youth is paramount in the struggles around the character and direction of the national democratic revolution in the current period. For those forces wanting to hijack the NDR to serve the interests of a new capitalist bloc coalition, the youth is an important social base through which to secure a capitalist South Africa. The most blatant example of attempts to win over the youth, and indeed the ANC as a whole, into a rightist, capitalist agenda are best represented by the latest series of articles by Peter Mokaba, the former president of the ANC Youth League, shortly before the ANC's National 50th Conference. Such interventions are but one illustration of the deepening contestations over the political orientation of the youth in our country. Peter Mokaba's articles even attempt, through a sleight of hand, to re-interpret the Freedom Charter as a capitalist document. This is an opportunistic attempt at appropriating a document that has come to symbolise the struggles, sacrifices and aspirations of South Africa's working class, not least the mass of our youth, to serve an agenda that does not advance the interests of the overwhelming majority of our youth.

The contestations highlighted above emphasise the importance of understanding the role of the youth in the national democratic revolution against the background of its very social composition and relationship to the class forces in wider society. Our starting point in this regard should be that:

"Young people reflect the views, interests and ... orientations of the classes they represent; yet social origins do not automatically and irrevocably determine their world outlook and political stand, since they are influenced by a great variety of socio-economic, political and ideological factors and social forces that seek understanding and support among the younger generation... Marxism-Leninism regards the youth movement as a social force in connection with the working class struggle and the objective of radically transforming society (A Dictionary of Scientific Communism, p.286)

In South Africa, like many developing countries with a colonial legacy, the main contradictions characterising such societies are those of class, race and gender, democracy and development in their intersection and articulation. The political outlook of the different sections of youth tends to reflect these contradictions, without being reducible to them. Over and above these class, racial and gender divisions and disparities within the youth; there are other sectors that make up the youth. These would be made up of employed youth, unemployed youth, students, religious youth, etc. However one cannot draw such neat distinctions, since there are in many instances overlaps between these sectors. But it is important for a YCL to understand these class and sectoral distinctions within our youth in order to approach its tasks much more strategically. It is also from the perspective of such class, race, gender and sectoral distinctions that the YCL should approach its task of defending and deepening the NDR.

The tasks of a Young Communist League

In 1920, three years after the victory of the Bolsheviks in Russia, Lenin made the following call to the youth of Russia at the time

"...Every young person who regards himself a Communist and who clearly understands that, by joining the (Young) Communist League, ...has pledged himself to help the Party build communism and to help the whole younger generation create a communist society" (Lenin, 1920)

He further defined the tasks of the Young Communist League in that period by challenging them that:

"The Young Communist League will justify its name as the League of a young communist generation only when every step in its teaching, training, and education is linked up with the participation in the common struggle of all working people against the exploiters... Only by working side by side with the workers and peasants can one become a genuine Communist"

Although he was referring to the tasks of the youth, particularly the students, after the defeat of tsarism and capitalism and the victory of the socialist forces, this call is also appropriate in our South African circumstances at the present point in time. Lenin himself further understood the specific location of the youth and its role in the context of the historical period within which it finds itself. He argued that since each new generation is moulded under specific conditions, the youth of necessity has to advance "to socialism in a different way, by other paths, in other forms, in other circumstances than their fathers" (Lenin, 1923)

The point emphasised by Lenin above is that each historical epoch in the struggle of the working class and the working people as a whole poses its own unique challenges depending on the history of each country, and the challenges facing the country at that time. It is therefore within this context that the youth in South Africa today is generally faced with the task of defining for itself the kind of future that it wants to have, whether a capitalist or socialist South Africa. The manner in which this choice is made, and the path to be followed, depends not merely on the voluntaristic choices of the youth, but on a correct assessment of the key challenges facing the national democratic revolution and its trajectory in South Africa.

a. Building a solid organisation to organise, mobilise and educate young communists and socialists

The most important task of a YCL would be to provide a political home for young communists and socialists to be able to organise and educate themselves. The key tasks in this regard would be to educate its members in Marxism-Leninism as well as enrich it within the context of our own conditions in South Africa. This should however be done within the broad framework of the SACP's policy framework and strategic objectives. For instance, it is important for the young communists to understand that the debates about the economic policies for a democratic South Africa are essentially about how to meet the basic needs of the majority of the people of our country in a context where South Africa still remains a capitalist society and the bulk of the wealth is still in a few hands. This is important in that economistic arguments tend to obscure the fact that the core of the problem about social delivery in our country is capitalism itself, much as the colonial and racial character of this capitalism presents its own unique problems in our country. The key question therefore is how, using Marxism-Leninism as a guide, do we advance the goals of the RDP in a context where local and global capital dominates, whilst simultaneously challenging this national and global capitalist order.

Much more importantly, however, learning Marxism-Leninism should not be restricted to sloganising and throwing around quotations from the Marxist-Leninist classics. But it should mean the assimilation and enrichment of Marxist-Leninist theory in our concrete conditions and within the context of deepening the national democratic revolution. The difference between young communists and any other sector of our youth should be that their starting point is an understanding of the relationship between the class and national struggles in the present period, and particularly the articulation of these struggles with the struggles for the emancipation of women.

The primary focus of a YCL should be to recruit young workers, particularly young women workers. One of the biggest weaknesses of the SACP at the present time is the poor representation of women at all levels of the organisation. It is women workers in particular who stand to gain most from the most thorough deepening of the NDR and a transition to socialism. A YCL has a unique role to play in terms of attracting, mobilising and educating young women workers.

The strength of the SACP generally, and a YCL in particular, should lie in the extent to which it is overwhelmingly made up of workers as the backbone of communist organisation. This also means that one of the priorities of a YCL should be to build SACP industrial branches in order to ensure that it is closer to the workers in general, and young workers in particular. Such an approach should be based on the understanding that organised workers are the backbone of any organisation that stands for the interests of the working class as a whole. This is because the industrial proletariat, whilst not constituting the totality of the working class, is the leading detachment and best organised layer of the working class. Such a focus will directly contribute towards strengthening the SACP itself inside the ranks of employed and organised workers.

Industrial branches of the SACP should not replace the union structures in the various workplaces. Instead such structures should be clearly understood as political structures that assist workers in understanding and relating factory struggles to the broader political struggles of the working class as a whole. Such industrial branches cannot be involved in negotiations with management nor interfere in union structures or activities. YCL members can only participate in union activities as elected representatives of unions in their particular workplaces, and accountable only to their union structures in such cases. The activities of industrial branches should largely be restricted to political education and supporting the struggles and campaigns of the workers in the various workplaces.

b. Building a strong SACP

Unless a YCL understands that one of its major tasks is to build a strong SACP, it will be lost in the details of organising youth without relating this to the overall task of building and strengthening the SACP as the political vanguard of the working class. Without a strong SACP there can be no transition to socialism in our country. However, it should be understood that a strong SACP does not mean a mass party, but a tight, compact and disciplined force for socialism reliant mainly on advanced cadres who do not only understand Marxism-Leninism but are able to apply it concretely in our concrete conditions in South Africa. Concentrating exclusively on building a YCL without at the same time ensuring a strong SACP as a whole would be to weaken the YCL itself.

The political relationship between the SACP and a YCL should be broadly reflected in the structural relationship of the two formations. A YCL should be a component structure of the SACP and not be independent of it. It should operate within the framework and policies of the SACP. For instance the decisions of the Central Committee should be binding on all the structures of a YCL. However a YCL should have the necessary autonomy to be able to take its own decisions and embark on its own programmes and campaigns as long as these are within the framework of the overall policies of the SACP. Such campaigns, programmes and decisions should be autonomously arrived at by the structures of a YCL, without interference from the SACP structures as such.

c. Building a strong revolutionary student movement

The education terrain is one of the most important arenas for organising youth. But at the same time it is important to openly state that student organisation in South Africa at the present time is generally very weak if in fact not in a crisis. The Congress of South African Students (COSAS), for instance, has collapsed in many parts of the country and hardly exists in many, many high schools of our country. Similarly SASCO has over the last few years experienced a serious decline in many campuses of our country and is beset with many problems. To recognise this is not to negatively criticise these organisations or their leadership, but to make an honest assessment that serves to underline some of the most important tasks facing socialist students.

The weaknesses in student organisation derive from a number of factors, some of which still await fuller analysis. But briefly, the first reason for such weaknesses derive from the fact that there is a lack of clarity as to the tasks of a revolutionary student movement in post-1994 South Africa. This lack of clarity derives from a number of dilemmas that face the progressive student movement. One of the major dilemmas is that of being caught between an ANC-led democratic government and generally reactionary administrations on the other, particularly in the higher education sector. The question, therefore, becomes how does one engage in struggles to engage and displace reactionary administrations without at the same time being seen to be taking an oppositional stance to the government. Or conversely, how does the revolutionary student movement support and strengthen the transformatory thrust of government without at the same time protecting reactionary administrations.

These dilemmas precisely arise out of lack of clarity and precision about what is meant by 'transformation'. In the case of high schools, this question should be closely related to the building of democratic governing bodies and development of school policies that are in line with our goals of people's education for people's power. Since the passing of legislation creating the new governing bodies there has generally been poor or uneven participation of students, in the case of high schools, both in the process of forming and running these governing bodies. In the case of tertiary institutions the focus has tended to be exclusively on transformation of governing bodies with little or no interventions in areas of curriculum transformation and building student-worker-academic alliances for transformation. Hence the general frustration about the inability of broad transformation forums to impact on councils and senates.

There is no doubt that without strong student organisations on the education front many of the transformation goals of the democratic movement will not be realised. This area therefore is of strategic importance and significance to the tasks facing socialist students. It is an area that requires specific attention.

However a YCL should resist the temptation of wanting to replace itself for weak COSAS or SASCO branches. A YCL should strive to properly understand the need to build a strong COSAS and SASCO representing the broadest possible range of students. It is incorrect for instance for the ANC Youth League or a YCL to try and replace these structures as representatives of students in schools or campuses. A YCL should not be tempted to take short cuts to organisation. Replacing a SASCO or COSAS branch in an institution with an ANCYL or YCL structure is no solution to hard and painstaking work of building broad-based student organisations. This, of course, does not mean that a YCL should not strive to establish branches in all campuses. Nor should it not strive to influence the direction of structures such as COSAS and SASCO through its members directly participating in these structures. But the wisdom of replacing broad-based student organisation with strictly party political structures is not an answer to weak student organisation. It is also not the best vehicle through which to mobilise and unite the broadest range of students.

In advancing the above argument does not mean that student organisations should be apolitical or neutral. But it is a question of how best to reach and rebuild revolutionary student organisation in the present period.

A related and critical task of a YCL with regard to the student movement is to fight against the two tendencies found in the ranks of the student movement: ultra-leftist and rightist tendencies. Ultra-leftism is the tendency to equate transformation struggles to oppositional stances even when the latter is unnecessary and counter-productive. Rightist tendencies are those that want to divorce students from engaging in transformatory struggles, thus demobilising students from participating in the daily activities of what goes on in their schools or campuses. Rightist tendencies and ideology emphasise learning to the total exclusion of student participation in the transformation processes

d. Building the ANC Youth League

One of the key tasks of a YCL would be to contribute towards building a strong ANC YL. This is because, the ANC, as the leader of the Alliance and at the head of the NDR should be strengthened by all means. The ANC YL is the formation that is best placed to unite the broadest range of youth behind a programme of transformation and deepening democracy in our country. A YCL should not stand in opposition to the ANC YL, but should rather complement the efforts of the ANCYL to mobilise the youth behind the NDR. In playing this role members of the YCL should ensure that they do not regard themselves as a faction or clique inside the ANCYL but should strive to serve the goals of this body in a non-sectarian and disciplined manner as individual members of this organisation. They should, as individuals subject themselves to the policies and discipline of the ANCYL.

At the same time, however, young communists in the ANCYL should not shy away from advancing the national democratic revolution in a manner that strengthens the hegemony of working class ideas inside the ANC YL itself. As communists we should not be shy to state that we stand for an ANC that upholds its traditions of being biased towards the working class. This should be done in a democratic manner within the democratic processes inside the ANC YL without by any way undermining the integrity and decisions of the ANCYL. As communists we should openly state the fact that we are not just building any kind of an ANC, but we are building and strengthening an ANC that maintains a working class bias. This is our reason for being in the ANC and also for having an alliance with the ANC. Such a stance does not mean that communists are blind to the fact that as leader of government the ANC now has to relate to a wide range of class forces, including the bourgeoisie. But this should not detract from our commitment to an ANC upholding its long-standing traditions of working class bias. To say so does not mean, as our detractors would like to argue, that communists act as a check or left conscience of the ANC. As communists we are not outside the ANC or watchdogs, but we are fully part of the ANC as a broad movement. Furthermore, to state this fact and preference does not mean that communists are saying the ANC is or has shifted to the right. Rather it is a commitment to contributing towards maintaining the very tradition that the ANC itself strives to uphold.

e. Organising unemployed youth

Another concrete task of a YCL should be to recruit from within the ranks of the unemployed youth. This is a very important sector of South African society, which currently experiences enormous difficulties in finding employment or in some instances also unable to continue with their studies. One of the critical tasks of the SACP is to unite the working class as a whole, which is made up of not only employed workers but unemployed workers as well. A YCL can play a very important and direct role in this all-important political task of the SACP and to ensure that unemployed youth is not left to its own devices. Already within the structures of the SACP there is a significant percentage of membership, which is drawn from the ranks of the unemployed youth. A YCL should build on this.

One important task flowing out of organising amongst the ranks of unemployed youth is to campaign for the establishment of facilities for further education, in order for as many of this youth to improve its educational opportunities to ensure better prospects for meaningful employment. A YCL, working together with the ANCYL, can also play an important role in concretely beginning to identify projects along the lines of co-operatives for such youth. In fact, a YCL will have to begin to seriously debate and begin experiments on this question of co-operatives as a means of developing alternative forms of economic activity based on principles other than capitalist ownership. Co-operatives are one form of economic activity that has not been adequately explored in the current period. The labour movement, for instance, has some experiences in this regard, and it is well worth for a YCL to spend a lot of its activities exploring the question of co-operatives.

On the character of a YCL

The broad character of a YCL should reflect that of the SACP. However, this should not be replicated in a carbon copy or mechanical form. The first and most important feature of a YCL, just like the SACP, is that it should not be a mass organisation. Rather it should be made up of the most dedicated and disciplined of youth cadres. It should not go for a mass recruitment drive, but should rather go for targeted and balanced recruitment taking into account the class, gender and racial bias reflecting the broader South African society. Of course it would be na?ve to think that were such a body to be established, it would indeed attract a large number of youth who, in one way or the other identify themselves with the cause of socialism. Therefore a fine balance should be maintained between a too restrictive recruitment drive and an open, mass type approach. The SACP, soon after its unbanning, effectively became a mass party, thus creating a lot of problems by attracting a whole range of members who were not fit to belong to a disciplined, committed communist party. Some of those who joined the Party, joined it because they saw it as a platform to make it into the ANC structures or to fight personal battles with members or structures of the ANC. We do not need such elements in the SACP.

The most important challenge for a YCL would be to establish tight and functioning branches whose primary task would be to learn and enrich Marxism-Leninism; organise in the various sectors where youth is located; and take an active part in support of the struggles of the workers and the working class as a whole.

In short the YCL should be structured as a component of a vanguard party, without making the mistake to think that the youth is the vanguard of the working class struggles. It is only the working class that can lead the overall struggles for the most thorough transformation of our society and to lead the battles for a transition to socialism.

Conclusion and way forward

As a conclusion and a way forward it is hoped that young communists and socialists will discuss this paper throughout the SACP structures, in particular. In the process of discussing this paper it is also important to engage the structures of the ANC YL, not to seek permission to form a YCL, but in order to take the ANC YL on board. Such engagement is important so that our detractors and enemy agents do not exploit such a discussion to sow divisions amongst revolutionary youth. This paper is also written as a contribution to the implementation of the resolution of the 10th Party Congress on the question of a YCL or a youth desk.

Socialism is the future, Build it now!

Youth for Socialism and Socialism for the Youth!

It is hoped young communist
will discuss this paper 


Youth for socialism - absolutely yes, but how? 

A reply to Comrade Shezi

Ben Molapo

I agree with almost all of what cde Sizwe Shezi writes in his article, "Youth for Socialism and Socialism for the Youth". His arguments about the significance of the youth sector in general, and in the post-1994 period in particular, are spot on. He is right to underline the need to face the challenge of a massive neo-liberal ideological assault upon young people.

I also agree completely with him that any communist engagement with the youth sector must be located within the political context of advancing, deepening and defending the national democratic revolution. This means that he is equally correct to affirm that any communist initiative in the youth sector should, in part, be designed to strengthen (and not weaken) the ANC Youth League, SASCO, COSAS, and other progressive formations.

There is much more in the general line of his argument, and in the detail, with which I concur. There are also many other things that we would need to research and understand better about the youth sector to develop an effective communist practice.

Is there a changing social stratification among the youth? To what extent is the relatively rapid development of a new "deracialised" elite impacting on the unity of black youth? Can we speak of a distinct post-1994 youth culture - a "kwaito" generation? Are these cultural manifestations positive or negative? Are they confined to a narrow sector of the youth, or do they influence a very wide range of young people in our country? Do the post-1994 changes impact differently on young men and young women, on urban and rural youth, and what of different racial dynamics? What are we to make of the statistics on youth and voter registration (only 45 perecent of 18 to 20-year olds have registered), and what clues will the June 2 elections give us about the political orientation of the youth? What impact is the HIV/Aids epidemic having on young people? To what extent have new policies and institutions --the Youth Commission, the proposals of youth service and youth brigades, new structures of schools governance, and university transformation committees - positively developed youth participation in development?

In short, there is much that I agree with in Shezi's paper, and there is much more that we need, as communists, to debate and research in regard to the youth. But at the end of the day, I do not think that all of what Shezi has written, and what remains still to be tackled, amounts to a convincing case for the launching of a Young Communist League at this point in time. Let me be very clear, for me the question of whether we launch a YCL is not a matter of principle, but a practical question.

The practicality of a YCL at this point in time should be considered from at least two angles - the present character and recent history of the SACP itself; and the related question of resources.

Recent history of the SACP

Comrade Shezi writes: "The SACP soon after its unbanning, effectively became a mass party, thus creating a lot of problems by attracting a whole range of members who were not fit to belong to a disciplined, committed communist party". Cde Shezi may be right about this, but his emphasis, it seems to me, misses the main challenges that were facing the Party at the time of its unbanning.

I do not want to get into an argument here about a mass or vanguard party. Clearly in the early 1990s the Party did battle to transform a huge, enthusiastic (and uneven) intake of new members into an effective organisation. But for me this particular challenge needs to be located in the context of a potentially much more serious set of problems. In the early 1990s the Party emerged from 40 years of illegality, with two or three thousand mainly exile members. It was an emergence that coincided with a double reality, the SACP was more popular at home than it had perhaps ever been in its history, while at the same time, the Soviet bloc was collapsing internationally.

In 1990 around half of the SACP's Central Committee quietly resigned from the Party. In the following years, probably more than two-thirds of the Party's former exile membership (the ones who presumably once were "fit to belong to a disciplined, committed communist party") failed to play any active role in the rebuilding of the SACP. There were, of course, outstanding exceptions, beginning with Chris Hani and Joe Slovo. But, as a generalisation, I think I am not wrong to say the lion's share of rebuilding the Party in the 1990s has been played by comrades of the UDF and COSATU generation, who joined the Party underground in the late 1980s, or only after the unbanning in 1990.

I am raising these matters here, not to get into a political and moral debate with those who left the Party. My point is that the way in which the Party was rebuilt in the 1990s, and who were the majority of the re-builders, are directly relevant to the debate about the Party and the youth sector. The SACP of the 1990s is a relatively young party, in its leadership and membership. To us South Africans this may not be so obvious, but when in the 1990s international delegations have come to our Party congresses, the youthfulness of our own delegates is one of the first things they remark upon. Our international comrades are, usually, not critical of this reality, they are even a little envious. The age profile of many other communist parties is often very different.

Of course, the relatively young age profile of the SACP is also related to other realities, apart from the strong liquidationist trend amongst many of our former, exiled members in the 1990s. South Africa is a Third World country with a typically young population, and our era of militant anti-apartheid struggles is just behind us.

For several reasons, then, young people have built the SACP in the 1990s, and many young people lead our Party today. This is, of course, a source of huge potential for the long-term. But it raises questions about the relevance, and even feasibility, of launching and sustaining a YCL at this point.

The need for a youth focus

Of course, the fact that a large proportion of the Party's membership and even leadership is relatively young does not guarantee that focused programmatic attention will be given to youth issues. Cde Shezi mentions a number of areas of critical concern to the youth - education and unemployment, in particular. We could add the HIV/Aids epidemic, and cultural and moral issues. To address key youth concerns cde Shezi recommends, in particular, programmatic work on the education front, the building of communist industrial units, and the targeted recruiting of young workers (and especially young women workers).

But these are all also to be found in the programme of action of the SACP itself. We have made good progress in the last period in some areas, and not so good in others. Will the formation of a YCL dramatically improve our results in this work? Will dispersing our efforts increase our capacity?

I believe that the SACP has survived and consolidated itself through a difficult decade. We have re-affirmed our Marxism-Leninism, while, at the same time, renewing the socialist project in a changed global and domestic situation. We have, as a Party, dramatically deepened our ideological influence and cadre presence within the trade union movement. Our active presence in the ranks of organised workers is, qualitatively and quantitatively, greater than at any time in the past four decades, at least.

Our problems and key limitations are not ideological nor are they about popularity, but relate rather to resources.

The resource challenge

During five months of the election campaign, the SACP has been able to employ nearly 40 district level organisers (admittedly, with very basic activist stipends). Sadly, most of these employments will not be sustainable beyond the elections. With the important exception of these election district organisers, the Party has built itself as an organised, independent formation with fewer than 30 full-timers nationally over the last 9 years. In most provinces, we are only able to employ one full-timer. We are extremely proud of what we have achieved with such a small full-time staff - reinforced, of course, by thousands of volunteer Party activists.

The SACP is beginning to turn the corner in regard to resources. The debit order campaign has enabled the Party, more or less, to sustain employment for its full-timers out of the monthly contributions of debit order signers. Many contributions are of R10 or R12 monthly from migrant mine workers, and the fact that we are building self-sustainability in this kind of way is, again, a matter of pride. The COSATU congress resolution to help to sustain the Party is another significant development.

But it is important to be sober about these realities, before we too easily talk about launching additional formations, like a YCL. Otherwise, we might repeat some of our experience of the early 1990s, of launching and creating much excitement, only to find that we cannot materially sustain the project.

But the resource question is not just a matter of finances. Perhaps an even more serious challenge is that of cadre resources. Many of our programmes are slowed down by too few comrades stretched in too many directions. This is a broad South African problem, related to the tremendous fluidity of the huge transition process under-way in our country. As a liberation movement, we have had to deploy tens of thousands of comrades into every sector of our society - the new police and army, the civil service, legislatures at the national, provincial and local council level, the public broadcaster, statutory bodies, local development forums, SRCs and school governance bodies, and the list goes on and on.

Yes, I agree, all of this means that we must ensure that we continually reproduce cadres, that we ensure that thousands and thousands more are taken through effective political and organisational training. But can we really do this by launching a YCL, when many of our existing formations, including the ANC itself, are often depleted and destabilised by the transition itself?

I am not convinced that a YCL can be justified in these circumstances. My objections to a YCL are, I repeat, not ideological, but practical.

An SACP Youth Desk

But cde Shezi, and the many comrades who agree with him, are absolutely right that the SACP must give more focused and more organisational attention to the youth of our country. We cannot take the young profile of our Party for granted. We cannot be sure that we will always so easily recruit from the ranks of young people without putting in dedicated attention and programmes.

I believe that the SACP's 10th Congress resolution to move towards the establishment of a national Youth Desk must be implemented as soon as possible. Such a desk should focus on three key areas - the development of an SACP policy capacity in regard to youth; programmes of action that address themselves to youth concerns and which sustain the SACP's public profile in this sector; and, above all, the ongoing and systematic recruiting and ideological development of young communists, not least young women communists.

Of course, as with many other things, communist youth work cannot be left to a "national desk" alone. Youth desks should be replicated in the provinces - already there is some experience in this regard. But, at the end of the day, all SACP structures, down to the branch level, should be systematically seized with youth questions. In elections to branch, district, provincial and national levels, young communists must consistently be affirmed, taking their rightful place with more seasoned comrades.

I hope that cde Shezi, and other readers, will see in these notes a friendly contribution to the debate about how best the SACP should take forward its revolutionary socialist work amongst the youth of our country. I hope, above all, that we will not delay this work while we continue, as we must, an ongoing debate on how best to organise ourselves for this work. Let us make a determined beginning with an SACP Youth Desk. Let us base further debate on experience we learn from concrete programmes of communist youth action.


Building and Consolidating the Political Consciouness of the working class

Political Report to the 3rd Central Committee of the 10th Congress (6-7 February 1999)

Introduction

We are gathered at this 3rd Central Committee in the year of the second democratic elections in our country. The ANC, in its January 8 1999 Statement has correctly characterised this year as the Year of Mass Mobilisation for the Renewal of the Democratic Mandate. It is indeed around this task that this Central Committee must prepare for. However, as a political party of the working class, we should be gearing ourselves for mass mobilisation of the working class for a massive ANC victory. The mobilisation of the working class does not merely mean mobilising a mass of individual  workers or the unemployed, but specifically to mobilise them as a class that carries with it a historical responsibility of carrying the democratic revolution through to its end. This means that in the election campaign we carry a specifically working class message.

However, it would be irresponsible to limit the question of mobilisation of the working class only to the election campaign. This is an-going task for the SACP, and it is for this reason that we propose that we declare 1999 as "The Year for Building and Consolidating the Political Consciousness of the Working Class". Such a focus will enable us to use 1999 to earnestly begin the implementation of our 10th Congress PartyProgramme and Resolutions. Building the political confidence of the working class as a class is a crucial component of building people's power, a task that is directly linked to our vision and goal of socialism. This is a task that the SACP should focus upon systematically and intensively during 1999.

Building the political consciousness of the working class

Building the political consciousness of the working class specifically means conscientising the workers to relate their day-to-day struggles to the strategic objectives of the National Democratic Revolution as well as to our struggle against capitalism. It means mobilising the workers to think beyond work-place struggles, but to begin to understand their historical responsibility as the motive force of the National Democratic Revolution as well as the leading class in the struggle for socialism. We have not as yet focused our attention as the Party on the concrete tasks to be carried out in order to bring about this political consciousness and make it a living material force amongst the masses of working people. It is this perspective and approach that should guide and inform all our work this year and beyond. This will help us to concretely define what is meant by the working class as the main motive force of the NDR, thus enabling us to concretely assess whether as the NDR unfolds the working class is indeed playing a leading and increasingly hegemonic role

The fact that it has been the African working class that has borne the brunt of colonialism of a special type, building the political consciousness of the working class means paying particular attention to the political needs of the African working class. But at the same time building the political consciousness of the African working class should be premised on, and aim at forging the unity of the working class as a whole

Similarly within the African working class itself it is the female component of this class that has been, and continues to be, the most disadvantaged and exploited. Building the political confidence of the working class as a class should be founded on the struggle for the transformation of gender relations, both within the working class itself and wider society. This serves to underline our very approach to the consolidation and deepening of the NDR, that the fundamental tasks of this revolution is the simultaneous tackling of the gender, class and racial legacies in our society.

Our approach and participation in the election campaign should be guided by this perspective. As outlined above, it means mobilising the working class to vote for the ANC as the best vehicle to advance its interests in the current period. This also means placing the very interests and aspirations of the working class at the centre of the election campaign itself, the manifesto and the programme of the post-1999 government.

In addition, the SACP'S election programme should consciously incorporate strengthening our Party structures at all levels, particularly at branch and district levels. Particular attention will have to be paid to building industrial units, working closely with COSATU and affiliates' locals .

This year we should systematically intensify our political education programme. A key component of this programme should be the holding of a national political school for our key cadres from provinces, as well as holding of party schools at district level. In addition we should continue our work of holding joint party schools with COSATU affiliates. We should aim to deliberately raise the influence of Marxism-Leninism amongst the rank and file of our Party and the unions.

A key component of building the political confidence of the working class is to embark on concrete campaigns within the framework of our Party Programme. To this end it would be necessary for Party structures at all levels to focus their attention on building mass participatory structures at local level, in particular development committees, community policing forums and building and strengthening school governing bodies. In this task, the empowerment of women in particular is of utmost importance, as it is women who suffer most from lack of development, crime and are the ones who are directly responsible for the schooling of the children

Reinvigorating theoretical debates within the Party and the movement as a whole

One of our l0thParty Congress resolutions mandated this Central Committee to pay attention to and nuttier elaborate on various aspects of our theoretical framework, particularly:

  • the dialectic between reform and revolution
  • gender exploitation and reproductive labour
  • the relationship between state and capital in the present post-apartheid context
  • how to appropriately engage with globalisation
  • working class approach to the environment and sustainable development

As the Party we had done some work, albeit unevenly, on all these issues prior to, and in preparation for, our 10th Party Congress. It is therefore imperative that this Central Committee instructs all our CC Commissions to immediately prepare discussion papers on all these issues, and for these to be discussed at a National Strategy Workshop as proposed and approved by the last Central Committee.

It is however important to add to these issues a full debate in this Central Committee of the very important question of the National Democratic Revolution and the transformation of property relations. This is a question that has been centrally posed by the Alliance discussion document on State, Property Relations and Transformation. This question is indeed of fundamental importance to us as communists, and is at the heart of the link between the NOR and socialism. With the deepening class contestations over the character and nature of a post-apartheid South Africa, we cannot postpone a very direct and open debate on this question both within and outside the ranks of our Party.

As a further elaboration of the importance of this question, it is well-worth reminding ourselves of one of the key challenges that Marx and Engels set for the communist and working class movements in the Communist Manifesto: "... Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things. In all these movements they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time"

The Alliance discussion document poses this question in the following way:

"In the final analysis, one of the basic objectives of the NDR is to transform property relations: to redefine the relationship that individuals, sectors and groups have to capital. The NDR does not aim to reshape property relations in the most fundamental way of creating a classless society where there are no exploiters and exploited. It does not seek to eliminate capital and capitalism. However, by definition, the NDR must see to the deracialisation of ownership, accumulation and allocation of capital; and it should do this in a manner that benefits the poor". Two immediate questions come to fore in relation to this assertion: Firstly, is this characterisation of the place of property relations in the NDR consistent with our conception of the NDR as simultaneously laying the foundation for socialism? A related question is whether it is inherent in any NDR not to fundamentally reshape property relations or is this how we would like to characterise the NDR in South Afiica?

It is indeed true that the NDR is not a socialist revolution. Much as it is true that the immediate goals of the NDR are not to create a classless society, but this should not be asserted in a manner that excludes the development of our struggle towards such a society. Democratic revolutions in other countries (Russia China,Cuba, Vietnam, to cite some of the examples) proceeded to become socialist revolutions. Indeed the ANC itself is not a socialist organisation nor is it necessarily struggling for socialism.'But at the same time the ANC is not necessarily nor inherently anti-socialist. A further question that arises here is whether this characterisation of the property question in the NDR doesn't rule out the possibility of the fundamental reshaping of property relations. If it does, why should it necessarily be so, particularly if the direction of the NDR is always determined by the forces that are hegemonic within that revolution? As a matter of fact not a single socialist revolution started as such, but mostly started as NDRs.

It is argued here that these questions are at the centre of our entire approach to the NDR, particularly in this transition period. For instance is it correct to argue that the property question in the NDR is about the deracialisation of ownership, accumulation and allocation of capital? Also, is it possible to deracialise capital in a manner that benefits the poor without a progressive fundamental transformation of the property relations?

It is also incorrect to pose the question of deracialisation without simultaneously engaging the class and gender content of such deracialisation.As we had always asserted, colonialism of a special type was not merely a racial system of oppression, but was fundamentally a variant of bourgeois rule. CST was premised on, and continously reproduced, the super- exploitation of particularly the African working class. Without the struggle for deracialisation being led by the very social forces that were most racially oppressed - the African working class and the landless rural masses and the poor - it will only benefit the petty bourgeoisie within the black majority. In short there can be no true and sustainable deracialisation without simultaneously seeking to fudamentally reshape the property relations. The fact that this might not be on the immediate agenda does not mean that we should lose sight of the link between a fudamental transformation of property relations and the resolution of the national question.

The main content of the NDR has always been the liberation of the African people in particular and the black people in general. This content has always been understood as fundamentally meaning that it is the most oppressed and exploited classes within the African and black communities that should be the motive forces of our revolution. To emphasise the unity of the African people does not mean suppression of the class realities even within that African community. Just as pointing out the reality of class differences within the African community is not a threat to African unity, but instead it is the very platform on which to build such African unity.

The only conclusion that can be made out of the above arguments and observations is that whilst it is true that the immediate goal of the NDR is not the fundamental reshaping of the property relations, this is not necessarily true for all times. It is not inconceivable nor undesirable that a deepening NDR can, and should, at a later stage directly pose the question of the fundamental reshaping of the property relations as a necessary condition for taking it forward to its completion. It is therefore of utmost importance that we do not generalise the immediate tasks of our revolution as being the character of the revolution as a whole and at all times. Just as it would be dangerous and adventurist to prematurely pose the medium-term objectives as the immediate goals of the revolution. Therefore the most critical question of our revolution is not whether the fundamental reshaping of the property relations is a goal of the NDR or not. Rather, it is the question of when, and under what class leadership, do conditions mature enough for this to be posed as an immediate goal of the revolution.

What these questions, as well as other theoretical issues posed by our Congress point to is the need for a reinvigoration of theoretical work within the Party and the broader liberation movement. It is imperative that we consciously, and on an on-going basis elaborate further and refine our theoretical understanding of our conditions. This in itself will enrich Marxism-Leninism from the standpoint of our own conditions and path to socialism.

Much more significantly, the invigoration of theoretical debates on crucial questions facing our Party and the revolution as a whole should be part of our overall focus in building and consolidating the political consciousness of the working class. This will further ground our theory in South African conditions, whilst not ignoring the lessons from other struggles.

It is a fact that it is our Party that is uniquely placed to creatively and pro-actively lead the process of theoretical debate. This is because Marxism-Leninism still remains the most advanced theory for understanding and advancing the National Democratic Revolution. Such debates should not only be limited to inner-party discussions, but should indeed be initiated much more vigorously in the entire national liberation movement.

On the question of the relationship between the ANC and the IFP

The question of the relationship between the ANC and the IFP has unfortunately become more the subject of media speculation than of any substantive discussion within the Alliance. This has created an incredibly unhealthy situation whereby a matter of such fundamental importance in our strategic and tactical considerations in defending and deepening the NDR is being debated more outside than inside the leading organs of the Alliance. Even inside the Alliance itself there is an unacceptable unevenness in the level of discussion and understanding of such a crucial question.

It is not a problem as such that in the course of discussion and debate on matters that are ordinarily regarded as of a sensitive nature, that some structures will tend to discuss such matters much more deeply before others get an opportunity to debate them. However in this case this matter has gone on for too long given its strategic significance without any substantive discussions in the Alliance or the Party. It is for this reason that the Secretariat has considered it of vital importance to open this matter for a thorough discussion in this Central Committee

The aim of this discussion is two-fold: Firstly, for this Central Committee to share information and exchange views on the developing relationship between the ANC and the IFP. Secondly, to debate the very principle of ANC-IFP co-operation within the context of defending and deepening the NOR. The keyquestion however that faces the movement as a whole is what specific goals do we want to achieve by establishing what particular kind of relationship with the IFP? As part of answering this question the movement also needs to undertake a serious analysis of the very internal dynamics within the IFP itself as well as the changing political context within which these are unfolding. Such analysis is necessary in defining for ourselves the nature of the relationship that is possible and desirable to develop with an organisation like the IFP

As the SACP we have correctly asserted that the democratic breakthrough has marked the strategic defeat of colonialism of a special type and a serious blow to those forces who have benefited from this system in the past. Amongst some of the significant developments has been the removal of the white minority regime from power; the almost complete wiping out of most of the bantustan oligarchies and bicameral forces that were an extension and a key part of the apartheid regime itself; the partial dislocation of armed white right-wing forces from the state security apparatuses, thus undermining their capacity to use these structures to wage war against our people. These are indeed major advances in the NDR and create a completely new situation within which the movement can advance its goals.

However, it would be incorrect to assume that despite these serious blows to the key components of the old apartheid ruling bloc, therefore these forces have been completely defeated. It is for this reason that we have characterised this period as marking a democratic breakthrough : a major advance, but not a completion of the tasks of the transition to democracy in South Afi

The democratic breakthrough has seriously dislocated an organisation like the IFP in the following ways:

The dislocation of the apartheid regime from power has undermined the IFP'S capacity to wage violence against the liberation movent on a sustainable basis as before. Whilst it would be a big error to think that the capacity of the IFP to wage violence has been destroyed, the new situation has nevertheless posed some serious political dilemmas within the organisation

The major dilemma has been that of choosing to continue to wage war against the new ANC government under conditions where there is no longer military support from the apartheid regime. Or for the IFP to seek to transform itself into a normal political organisation which would contest power through peacefiJl democratic means

Each of these options present problems for the IFP. To pursue war in the absence of the support from the apartheid regime could prove to be suicidal at a later stage, despite the destabilisation that this can cause. In other words it runs the risk of not only being defeated militarily but possibly be dislodged as a major force in the political arena. On the other hand the IFP does not have the experience of democratic organisation and persuasion, but has largely relied on coercion to maintain its social and political base. It therefore runs a risk of being outclassed by an ANC that has a long tradition of mass and democratic organisation. It is therefore faced with a situation of "Stay the same and be damned or transform and still be damned"

Underpinning this dilemma is the fact that the social base of the IFP has not only been buttressed through violence but also through a coercive system of traditional leadership. The deepening of democracy, accompanied by transformation of relations in the countryside, is a direct threat to this social base. It is for this reason that whilst the IFP has been claiming to be a democratic organisation, it is at the same time hanging onto the system of traditional leadership for dear life. If it is to be a democratic organisation in a democratising society, it has to accept mass- based democratic rule. But to accept and embrace such' democratic rule is to undermine its social base which has been built not only on traditional leadership, but on a particularly authoritarian system of traditional leadership that does not accommodate even a semblance of democracy.

It is these dilemmas that have deepened the crisis inside the IFP; a crisis which in itself further deepens these dilemmas. The IFP can be said to be made up of broadly two factions. The first one is the "modernising" faction which has a goal of transforming the IFP into a democratic organisation, whose only survival is by adapting to the emerging democratic order by also democratising itself. This faction has largely been made up of intellectuals, including petty traders whose interests might be better served by a democratising society and the attendant opporbulities for advancement.

The other faction is made up of neo-feudal warlords. This faction has for a long time been made up of chiefs, 12induna warlords and white reactionary elements, some of whom have a track record of working closely with the apartheid state security apparatuses. It is this faction that has relied on violence and coercion and has been the dominant and more powerful faction within the IFP for a very long time. It is because of the power of this faction that the modernising faction has always been marginalised.

However with the deepening crisis brought about by the removal of the white apartheid regime from power, there are emerging tensions within the neo-feudal reactionary faction itself. This division largely manifests itself in a racial polarisation between the African warlords and chiefs, on the one hand, and the white reactionary elements. The chiefs and izinduna want to consolidate their own position as they are being threatened by the emerging democratisation of South African society, thus creating a mistrust with the white reactionary sections who have always been close to Buthelezi and highly influential.

Perhaps the most critical factor in the IFP is Buthelezi himself. The dilemmas posed by the transition are perhaps even more acutely felt by Buthelezi, whose own political future and role is at stake. The shift in the IFP'S approach to the ANC has also, if not more, to do with Buthelezi's own political inclinations and ambitions and need to maintain some form of power in a South Africa ruled by the ANC and without the apartheid regime and its bantustan tentacles. It is perhaps this shift or reconsideration on the part of Buthelezi that provides the potential for weakening the grip of the neo-feudal and reactionary bloc within the IFP.

It is a well-known fact that the core of the neo-feudal and reactionary bloc in the IFP is the most threatened by the improvement of relations between the ANC and the IFP. For the neo-feudal elements this might mean being swamped by an ANC-led democratic process thus threatening the institution of chieftaincy, and for the white reactionary elements, minimising the chances of destabilising the ANC and the government it leads.

Therefore the IFP is a counter-revolutionary organisation in crisis, seeking new ways to adapt to a democratic South Africa. It is important to understand this fact, given the tendency to assume that just because the rank and file support of the IFP is black working class and the poor, therefore it shares the same goals and aspirations as the ANC. This is simply wrong. As it has been aptly observed before, the sociological profile of an army tells us very little about its goals and objectives. The IFP might share the same constituency with the ANC, but it still remains an anti-working class and undemocratic organisation.

In the light of the above it is indeed of strategic importance that our movement should intensify the peace efforts and seek to isolate the IFP from the white right-wing forces and other reactionary elements of the old apartheid ruling bloc. Indeed the peace processes itself is inner deepening the tensions within the IFP itself.

It is of course true that the IFP has for a long time been heavily infiltrated by agents of the old apartheid state security forces. But it was more than an infiltration. Instead there was willing collaboration on the part of the IFP leadership with the apartheid regime itself. It is therefore incorrect to attempt to portray the IFP as merely having been a victim of infiltration and manipulation. It was more than this, as there was a conscious alliance between the oligarchic leadership of the IFP and the white minority apartheid regime

If the IFP was merely a victim of infiltration, why did the ANC continue to wage a genuinely revolutionary struggle despite many attempts at infiltration. If infiltration more or less leads to collaboration, then the ANC itself should have long collaborated with the apartheid regime given the number of spies that were infiltrated into the ANC by the former apartheid regime. The crucial difference between the ANC and the IFP in this regard is that the former was a genuine liberation movement and the latter willing collaborators with the apartheid forces.

This point is made in order to underscore the importance of a correct understanding of the IFP. It is better for us to seek co-operation with the IFP on the basis of a correct understanding of the character and dilemmas facing the organisation rather than to attempt to rewrite history and absolve the IFP from its counter-revolutionary role as an attempt to bring it closer to us.

The above point perhaps relate to the most critical questions that we should be discussing. What are our main objectives of engaging with the IFP? The primary goal is to try and bring about peace particularly in the KZN province within the context of defending and deepening our democracy. The aim is not to form an alliance with the IFP nor to merge with it. Neither is the aim merely to give a senior position to Buthelezi. If the IFP were to be drawn into a post-election government, this must be done against the background of clarity on our strategic objectives in doing this.

It is important that these issues be discussed throughout the Party and movement as a whole, in order to ensure that we, as a movement, move together in terms of the strategic and tactical considerations in relation to the IFP. This issue must be widely opened for discussion within the Alliance. It is in any case the mass of our people who are the ultimate defenders of our gains, without abandoning our responsibility as leadership to guide our people.

In engaging with the IFP it is also important to analyse and understand the balance of forces in the current period so that we do not underestimate the capacity of the IFP to destabilise our democracy nor overestimate its capacity to continue to do this. As a movement we should also not project an idea that we need the IFP more than it needs us. In fact an accommodation with the ANC may be the only respectable way for the IFP to resolve some of its dilemmas. But at the same time it will seek to use these peace processes to entrench its own social base, particularly the chiefs and the province of KZN.

Southern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa - recent developments

Just two or three years ago, those struggling against an intemational trend of "Afro-pessimism" were able to point to some significant developments, suggesting a reversal of our continent's seeming downward spiral of economic marginalisation, military coups, inter-ethnic conflict, gross human rights violations and a general failure to develop.

Among the positive signs pointed to were:

  • The belief that the ending of the Cold War was now beginning to create conditions for peace in key regions, not least Angola where the Lusaka Protocol was signed in 1994
  • Multi-party elections in formerly conflict-ridden societies - Mozambique and South Afiica being the leading examples; '
  • Relative political stabilisation in Rwanda and Uganda
  • The ending of the bulwark of reaction in our entire region - the Mobutu regime in Zaire; an ending that came rapidly and with relatively little bloodshed; and,
  • In the previous two years, net economic growth of a few percentage points for the continent overall, with economies like Ghana Uganda and Mauritius being held up (by some) as examples of the merits of neo-liberal structural adjustments.

Whatever the partial illusions or superficialities of at least some of these claims, sadly the past 18 months have seen a significant reversal. The reversal is, of course, not total. In South Africa we have consolidated the democratisation process. In Nigeria (of which more below) there is a distinct improvement in the situation, with the release of political prisoners and an electoral process that is now well under-way.

However, the general trend in the past 18 months has been in the other direction. Among the negative developments have been:

  • A senseless border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea;
  • The continued war in Sudan;
  • Civil wars in Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone;

And, most notably from a South African point of view:

  • The conflict in the DRC, in which no fewer than 6 external countries have become directly involved militarily; and
  • The return of full-scale military conflict in Angola.

Nor are these open conflicts the only worrying signs. In our own sub-region, the constitutional impasse remains in Zambia (although the more explosive events in the DRC and Angola have diverted attention for the moment); and in Swaziland. In Lesotho the fragility of a political process dominated by competing party (and traditional and military) elites was evident in the dangerous drift of affairs until the SADC intervention of last year. In Zimbabwe, the ruling party zig-zags from populist demagogy in the face of mass protest at growing impoverisation, to authoritarian intolerance of social movements, to a more or less supine implementation of IA4F enforced adjustments. In the absence of broad-based popular support, the ruling party is seemingly powerless to defend a progressive agenda in the face of external pressures. The absence of a vibrant democracy seems also to be leading to an unstable rigidity which could snap in unpredictable ways, in the face of mounting pressures. Increasing military involvement in politics cannot be ruled out. Even in Namibia which remains substantially stable, the Angolan and DRC conflicts are impacting, and the Caprivi secessionists are, in all probability, closely aligned with UMTA.

Why the reverses?

Clearly we are dealing with complex processes, and many varying specifics. We should avoid, as the SACP, falling into simplistic explanations, typical of much commentary about our continent - all conflicts being explained as "tribal conflict", or the result of a'third world backwardness".

Nevertheless, there are some trends that we should note:

  • The bureaucratisation of once relatively dynamic liberation movements - ZANU PF is, perhaps, the most obvious regional example, but some of the problems within A4PLA are another. State bureaucratic power tends to displace mass-based political work, and a politico-military elite increasingly dominates the party. Corruption linked to the abuse of bureaucratic power also increasingly manifests itself In Angola between 40 and 50% of oil revenues simply do not appear in the national budget. It is important to insist that, in both cases - but in differing degrees - these tendencies are not uncontested within the respective movements. Both movements are capable of patriotic and anti-imperialist stands, but their capacity to lead a progressive politics has been restricted by, amongst other things, their own intemal bureaucratisation, and by the neo-liberal economic policies that tend to implement.
  • In other cases, stagnation and under-development is directly related to the persisting domination of politics by neo-colonial "traditional" (Swaziland) or "traditional" plus petty-bourgeois elites (Lesotho), that are incapable of and unwilling to lead a process of transformation and development.
  • Above all, however, the reverses of the last two years need to be directly (but not only) attributed to the deepening global capitalist crisis we have discussed in previous CCS. Two decades of enforced structural adjustment have not strengthened our continent, or our sub-region. Those extolling unprotected globalisation (which is what the SAPS have been about) held up visions of accelerated export-led growth. With the onset of the crisis, weakened economies, in which the manufacturing base has been all but eroded, and in which the public sector is sold off have found themselves defenceless and more marginalised than ever.

African renaissance?

Rather than rendering the struggle for an African renaissance irrelevant, all that has been noted above underlines the imperative of a regional, sub-Saharan and indeed collective continental struggle against the imperialist plundering and marginalisation of Africa. But it also underlines how complex such a struggle is.

GDP growth without transformation and social development will not sustain a Renaissance. Many "nation states" in our continent are little more than a jigsaw of economic enclaves. Multinational companies are happy to support whatever armed militia is able to secure this or that oil, or mineral enclave, and have little interest in revenues making their way into a wider, nation building infrastructural project. While we should, in principle, welcome multi-party electoral dispensations, these are, too often, mere form without content. In many African countries there are few, if any, real policy choices available (in the absence of a powerful national movement), because policy is effectively imposed by foreign financial institutions. In these circumstances, multi-party politics quickly deteriorates into competing (often ethnic) elites seeking to gain some hand-hold over parts of the state to extract rent for themselves. This kind of electoral politics (like enclave militia politics) is a politics that leaves the great mass of people outside of decision-making, and hence is a politics that is flail, and unstable.

We should not be disheartened by the challenges facing our continent - as someone has noted, the Italian Renaissance itself was not a smooth evolutionary process. It was characterised by enormous turmoil, contradictions and instability. In the other hand, however, we should not deceive ourselves that the presence of turmoil, contradictions and instability are, in themselves, a guarantee of an impending Renaissance!

Exporting the South African transitional model?

I As South Africans we are justifiably proud of our own negotiated transition to democracy. In relating to our continent, we need, however, to guard against a too mechanical export of our "model".

In the last two months, for instance, the Angolan peace accord - the Lusaka Protocol of1994 - has finally and ignominiously unraveled. The Protocol was signed at a time when UNITA (which had lost the 1992 elections) was coming under increasing military pressure from FAA (government) forces, and there was a prospect it would be forced out of its North Eastern diamond rich bases.

The Protocol called for

  • the demilitarisation of UNITA and the merging of UNITA forces into the army; and
  • the extension of government sovereignty to all parts of Angola.

In exchange for these measures, the MPLA government would settle for a GNU arrangement in cabinet.

In practice, Savimbi simply used the Protocol to obtain a breathing space, which he has used very successfully to embark on a massive re-arming and supply exercise. The bulk of UNITA forces have remained under arms. UNITA territory has not come under sovereign government administration. Savimbi himself has refused to move to Luanda. Against the background of UNITA defiance, the UN in July 1998 finally attempted some punitive measures - a freezing of UNITA officials' bank accounts, and a ban on trade in diamonds from UNITA controlled areas (these were in addition to an earlier closing of UNITA international offices). In practice, these measures were difficult to enforce, and they appear to have had little impact.

In December 1998 the MPLA government lost patience with the whole process and launched military actions against UNITA bases. MPLA encountered stiffer resistance than expected, with UNITA counter-attacking by laying siege to the two key Central Highlands towns of Kuito and Huambo, and, more worryingly, by probing into the north-west, towards the oil producing centres, around Soyo. UMTA has Sting surface to air missiles, some 60 advanced tanks, and G5 artillery.

All of these developments underline that the Angolan situation in 1994, and the South African situation in 1990 were qualitatively different in important respects. While both situations exhibited a partially stale-mated balance of forces between two distinct power blocs:

  • In the South Afiican situation this was a relative stalemate on the terrain of a single, integrated and relatively developed capitalist economy.
  • In Angola, the two relatively stalemated power blocs are located in distinct geographical areas, each resourced by exlractive enclave economic activities (oil and diamonds). It is calculated, for instance, that UNITA earns 5500 million (about R3 billion) a year from diamonds.'
  • The South Afiican situation compelled both sides to pursue certain power sharing, and integrative strategies - in Angola this is a less compelling pressure. Crudely, Savimbi calculates whether becoming a Vice President in Luanda is moredesirable than continuing to have a monopoly over 5500 million a year. He has had little ambivalence about his choice.
  • Given our own social realities, we were able to engage in a negotiated transition without over-reliance on intemational supervision. In the Angola the reverse has been the case. Implementation of the Lusaka Protocol has had to rely on UN supervision.
  • Sadly, as the MPLA government is right to observe, the UN mission in Angola has lacked will and determination. In Iraq, the Iraqi government is alleged to not be cooperating sufficiently with a UN inspections team, and twice in the last years, massive air-strikes are launched. In Angola not only does UNITA fail to co-operate with a UN monitored peace process, but it actually shoots down twoUN aircraft! The UN (and US/UK response) is muted to say the least.
  • Finally, this relates to another Angola specific reality. While, in the last 8 years, liberation movements like Frelimo and the ANC have not been subject to ongoing and aggressive hostility from the US, many believe that MPLA continues to be marked out for special hostility from powerful forces within the US, possibly at variance with the Clinton administration. In particular, the CIA is suspected to have its own relatively autonomous anti-MPLA agenda - the Angolan liberation movement has never been forgiven for the role it played in the late 1970s and 80s.

The question we need to ask ourselves is: have we as South Alricans, with the best of intentions, unwittingly contributed to fostering a "peace process" that was doomed to failure from the start? Did we sufficiently understand the different dynamics operating in Angola compared to our own reality? Have we tended to treat MPLA and UNITA as two equally culpable forces - sending a very disturbing message to MPLA and thereby strengthening those elements within the movement least inclined to careful strategic approaches? How do we now make a useful contribution?

In the very different reality of Nigeria, we need, also, to be vigilant that we do not underestimate the specifics of that society. The accession to power of Gen Abubaker, following the death of Gen Abacha in June 1998, has brought important changes - the release of most political prisoners, a greater climate of freedom for social movements, and, now, an electoral process. All of this is to be welcomed, and South Afiica's own diplomacy, its reaching out to Abubaker, its engagement with the process, has clearly played a significant role in these developments.

However, in the oil-producing Delta region, a low intensity war, military rule and an effective state of emergency still prevail. The multi-party electoral process continues to be dominated by wealthy region/ethnic elites, and the transition package to civilian rule does not envisage a constitutional reform process, nor the transformation of government institutions - above all, the army. Multi-party elections are not new to Nigeria, in the past, they have been displaced by military coups. We need to do whatever we can, as South Africans, to ensure that the positive developments presently under-way, do not prove to be unstable and temporary. Amongst other things, this involves ensuring that we do not, too simplistically, equate the South Alrican multi-party democratic dispensation which has its own social, political and economic underpinnings, with the very different realities of Nigeria.

In the course of1999 the SACP needs to continue monitoring developments in sub-Saharan Africa and within our sub-region. We need to engage, as we have been, with a wide range of political forces from our continent. Above all, within the context of our own Alliance, we need to actively contribute to the ongoing debate on how, as South Africans, we foster peace, democracy and development within the continent.


Globalised Capitalist Crisis

Haroon Aziz

The manifestations of the crisis of capitalism in East Asia and Brazil in the last half of 1998 were symptoms of a general capitalist crisis that has become globalised and wide-spread. The immediate symptoms were manifested in the difficulties in maintaining price stability and containing money-supply and inflation, in relation to the total value of goods and services actually produced.

The axis of the crisis is the US dollar (USD), around which all other domestic and imperialist currencies rotate. Of the total 1997 world foreign exchange reserves, 84,4% were held in six imperialist currencies, with the USD having the major share of 57,1% and the Deutschmark the second largest share of 12,8%. In 1996, according to JP Morgan, a US bank, 29 OECD countries with only 20% of world population enjoyed an output value of 80,5% in exchange rate.

The difficulties cohere around managing exchange rate regimes in a context in which the IMF compels countries to allow for the unhindered flow of capital around the globe by relaxing exchange controls. One of the problems which monopoly capital is facing is that while capitalism has evolved to higher levels of globalisation, through technological advances, it has to contend with three main but different exchange rate regimes, instead of a single one. Presently there are, at least, three different types - unified, fixed, and floating. They do not complement but contradict one another. Of the IMF member countries, 35,7% use the fixed regime, 55% use the floating regime, and 9,3% use other regimes (including unified).

In terms of IMF guidelines, "A member... should refrain from introducing restrictions for balance of payments purposes on current account transactions...and should endeavour progressively to remove such restrictions of this kind." An exchange rate regime is a mechanism used to set the value of a domestic currency against foreign currencies, in order to stabilise transactions between and amongst different countries. It serves to stabilise the prices, not only of different currencies, but also the prices of domestic and foreign goods and services. Because of the classical crisis of the anarchy of production arising out of production for the sake of profiteering, capitalism is perpetually faced with the threefold problem of achieving real and not artificial growth, stabilising prices, and ensuring high levels of employment. Because of these aims it has to contain money-supply and inflation and from time to time these two economic phenomena break beyond containment and threaten growth, prices, and employment. The threat stirs social unrest and the capitalist system itself is challenged by the popular masses. The symptoms are laden with the anarchy of overproduction.

The current global pattern of ownership is that, of the total world GDP of US$25-trillion 72% is owned by the G-7 countries and 28% by the remaining 231 countries and 17 colonies. Within this pattern, 400 billionaires own 50% of the wealth. The centre of the perpetual crisis of overproduction is the G-7 bloc and the symptoms appear on the periphery of capitalism. The G-7 bloc overaccumulates the major portion of wealth, and exports its perpetual crisis to the periphery. The overaccumulation of capital through productive inactivity and stagnation reproduces itself as overproduction at the centre and as underdevelopment on the periphery. The poorest of the poor, living on the periphery, bear the inhuman social consequences of this appalling wealth/poverty contradiction.

Overproduction

Overproduction takes two forms. The first is the overproduction of commodities (with a tendency to have supply in excess of demand destroyed in order to increase values, prices, and profits). And secondly, there is the overproduction of money (which lacks the tendency to be destroyed because money itself is the store of values, prices, and profits).

The Second World War helped the USD to establish itself as the dominant imperialist currency when in 1944 the price of gold was fixed at US$35 an ounce and the standard set for the creation of money and the control of inflation. One of the purposes of the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement was to supervise a fixed exchange rate regime.

Twenty-seven years later, in 1971, there was a "dollar overhang" which resulted in all the currencies which were pegged to the USD being valued at higher parities than the USD itself, non-US goods were more competitive in price than US goods, and large-scale unemployment in the US resulted. On Aug 15, 1971 President Nixon broke the impasse by introducing tough economic measures. He imposed a 10% surcharge on all dutiable imports and suspended the convertibility of the USD into gold. These measures forced the other currencies to be unpegged from the USD and prevented a run on US gold reserves. These measures created employment in US and structural unemployment in the economies of the countries which were oriented to produce for the US market. The USD was effectively devalued by 10% but has since become overvalued by, at least, 20% and is long overdue for a correction. Because of the real threat of chaos in the global economy there is resistance to a devaluation.

In 1973, as a result of the Yom Kippur War waged by Israel against its Arab neighbours, the Arabs quadrupled the price of oil. Consequently, there were more USDs outside the US than in the US itself. Recession bit into the economies of all major capitalist countries. A year later a combination of recession and the explosion of USDs outside the US resulted in a new phenomenon, stagflation - a combination of a stagnant economy and hyperinflation.

In February 1973 Japan suspended its support for the USD and closed its exchange market because of the continuing flood of USDs. Through negotiations the yen and other imperialist currencies were unpegged and values theoretically revised at higher parities. The catch was that, although the price of gold was increased from $35 to $42,2 an ounce, the gold values of the other imperialist currencies were not increased. This increase did not stop the overflow of USDs and in March 1973 the other countries eventually abandoned the dollar standard and adopted the floating exchange rate regime.

In the 1980s Japan increased its money-supply which was unrelated to the total value of goods and services actually produced and established itself as a new centre of imperialism. It kept inflation low by manipulating downwards the gap between money-supply and the total value of goods and services actually produced. In East Asia it became not only the largest economy but also the largest supplier of credit, investments, and exports, and the second largest economy to the US economy. Its money-supply and stock market peaked in 1990. Its banks were exposed to 77-trillion yen in bad debts, of which 65-trillion yen were supposed to have been written off. The banks were in a Catch-22 situation. They could neither recall loans nor risk deepening the recession. The government set aside 60-trillion yen to rescue the banks. While it is clear that currently the Japanese economy is stagnant, what is not clear is the real rate of inflation under the internal debt mountain of 77-trillion yen. It is likely that the Japanese economy is now faced with stagflation which if not contained can undermine the entire globalised system of capitalism.

Contrary to IMF prescriptions, Long-Term Credit Bank successfully called on the Japanese government to nationalise it. Japan is immune to IMF prescriptions and, therefore, not subject to its structural adjustment programme. The IMF dismisses the Japanese crisis as a mere banking crisis, unrelated to the anarchy of overproduction.

Mexico and East Asia

The East Asian manifestations are partly a deflection from, and a globalisation of, the crisis in Mexico which, having relaxed its exchange controls while maintaining a fixed exchange rate regime, was exposed to speculative investments and an internal pressure on its foreign reserves. When the Mexican economy was in crisis in 1995, a US-led consortium rescued, not the Mexican economy, but the speculators whose exposure totaled US$50-billion. The rescue encouraged the speculators to move into East Asia where the interest rates and returns on stock market speculations were high and attractive. Speculators had mastered the art of either increasing or decreasing the value of foreign and domestic currencies and stock market prices. Across the globe US$1,5-trillion suddenly flowed in speculation, investing when driven by greed and disinvesting when driven by fear. George Soros, the master manipulator of currency and stock market values through hedge funds, now arrogantly demands a guaranteed rate of exchange for his USDs, as a lesson to be learnt from the Mexican and East Asian crises. Through hedge funds speculators sell off domestic currencies and force interest rates up and force prices down and sell shares short.

Speculators use large hedge funds. One of them is Long-Term Capital Management, based in the US. Its net assets are valued at US$400-bn. As a result of the East Asian crisis, the speculators who were supposed to have taken risks were rescued to the amount of US$3,5bn by a group of banks. Not the economies and nations of East Asia but the speculators themselves were rescued. The national economic problems get compounded into an international time-bomb and the real solution gets postponed indefinitely. Normal business risks get negated. Speculative and non-productive capital is guaranteed.

In the 1970s and 1980s it was finance capital itself which facilitated the formation of transnational companies (TNCs) and put at their disposal capital for productive and not speculative employment. From this resulted transfers of technology and expertise, an efficient deepening of stock and bond markets, and the quick mobility of foreign capital. Market forces, centrally controlled by TNC decision-makers, located in G-7 countries, proved to be an efficient means of globally allocating resources productively. There is an obverse side to these results --- capitalist crises spread quickly across the globe, the losses are calculated in billions of USDs, the primary cause of the crises is the private and not public sector, and an absence of global institutions and regulations.

The hegemony of speculative capital

While in the 1970s and 1980s finance capital was hegemonic within monopoly capital, in the 1990s an increasingly speculative sector within the wider domain of finance capital asserted itself as dominant.. As an example, 4200 US financial institutions have a financial base of US$300bn, but they have the power to borrow over US$1-trillion for speculation. Between 1990 and 1995, world commodity production and exports increased by 33% and 50%, respectively, but the exchange volume in the financial markets increased by 230%. In other words, the money in global circulation bore no real correlation to the value of goods and services actually produced and distributed. The financial markets were dominated by speculative capital.

Speculators have underestimated exchange rate risks. Hence, their willingness to speculate, particularly, in the now somewhat toothless Asian Tiger countries, which were until recently held as models of development. Their economies were geared for the production and export of war-related electronic equipment for assembly into military technologies in the G-7 countries. The production of electronic equipment for civilian use was an off-shoot of the production for military use. Since the Second World War the production of military goods became the source of generating the greatest accumulation of capital. The Asian Tiger countries were chosen as sites of production because of the presence of cheap labour, the suppression of trade union and political activities, their willingness to implement IMF prescriptions, and the absence of restrictions on the dumping of toxic waste.

Hong Kong and the other "tigers"

The Hong Kong case is interesting. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which is ultimately controlled by the PRC government, had its financial and stock markets invaded by speculators, it cushioned itself from the East Asian crisis by proactive intervention. To counter the negative effects of hedge funds the government became a buyer of first resort, made a profit of HK$28bn and helped to increase the Hang Seng index by 50% from its summer lows. The government now institutionally owns stock market shares through the Exchange Fund Investment. Hong Kong manages a unified exchange rate currency, in terms of which it creates currency in exchange for a specific amount of USDs. At all times the dollar value of all currency outstanding is equal to dollar reserves. Hong Kong retains the option of terminating its currency board, changing the pegged rate, or introducing central bank features. This is an explanation why Hong Kong, which was also considered to be an Asian Tiger, has survived the East Asian crisis better than most.

Under the unified regime if payments due from abroad exceed the actual dollar income the quantity of currency decreases and automatically increases pressure to reduce foreign payments and to increase the actual income from abroad. This regime by itself enforces the discipline of external transactions.

The manifestations of the crisis in Thailand first appeared in the financial sector. It unsuccessfully tried to deregulate this sector in which the Bangkok International Banking Facility lent hard currency to unqualified borrowers. It persistently suffered a very large external deficit and its domestic currency, the baht, was overvalued against imperialist currencies.

Thailand like the other toothless Asian Tigers managed a fixed exchange rate regime. Unlike Hong Kong, Argentina, and Panama, the Bank of Thailand did not reduce money-supply but drew on its dollar reserves or borrowed dollars to finance the budget deficit. It temporarily evaded the discipline of external transactions. This regime, while it covers deficits on the short-term, on the long-term it has a cumulative effect on the deficits and eventually results in a devaluation of the domestic currency.

Japan with its domination of East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand had a free inflow of hard currencies and its own currency, the yen, functioned as an imperialist currency. It adopted the floating exchange rate regime, under which the rates are determined by private transactions and the central bank does not theoretically intervene. There are two types of floating: clean and dirty. Under clean floating the government does not intervene. Under dirty floating like in Japan, Britain, the US, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries the central bank does intervene to influence exchange rates. Under this regime there is no internal pressure on foreign reserves because exchange rates are adjusted daily. The Japanese crisis assumes a great magnitude because of the imperialist proportions of its economy.

Brazilian jitters

Prior to the IMF-led US$41,5bn rescue package, as a pre-emptive measure, announced on November 13, 1998, Brazil, the largest economy in Latin America, repulsed two speculative attacks on its currency, the real, and faced two major financial crises. In November 1997, at the time of the Thailand crisis, and in September 1998, at the time of the Russian crisis, it took dubious measures to defend its currency in the face of two major financial problems. Internally, its pension scheme deficit equalled two-thirds of the total budget deficit as a result of the pension privilege enjoyed by its elite public sector workers who could take retirement at the age of 54 years. About 3-million of them received more in pensions than 16,6-million private sector workers. Externally, its reserves fell by US$30bn in 2 months. Although, like Thailand, it managed a fixed exchange rate regime, it could no longer draw on its exhausted foreign reserves to defend the lower rate of its currency against the USD. Although a devaluation was imminent it had to be avoided. A devaluation would have had consequences worse than those which followed in the aftermath of the devaluation of Thailand's currency. An economic disaster would have engulfed the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean countries, compounded by the artificial solution of the 1995 Mexican crisis. Both the Brazilian and Mexican economies are due for a "dollarisation", which means that they will be combined in a monetary union with the US and Canada. Both economies are oriented to produce for the US and Canadian markets.

The IMF - an anachronism

At the very core of the problem is the IMF itself, it has outlived its main purpose, namely, to manage a fixed exchange rate regime. It is overtaken by other exchange rate regimes. It has failed to create an exchange rate regime which meets the needs of highly globalised economies. It sits with an overaccumulation of capital, which is managed by a bureaucracy which lazily functions for eight hours a day in a globalised economy, which is vibrant twenty-four hours a day. Its bureaucracy, drawn from academia, has appropriated to itself the right to prescribe to nation-states and undermine their sovereignty. It is totally insensitive to human needs.

There are many obstacles to a globalisation of a single exchange rate regime; some of which are competing national interests, unequal access to global capital markets, the unhindered movement of speculative capital in and out of developing financial markets, and the deregulation and buttressing of financial markets in favour of G-7 countries. Underpinning these obstacles are the pattern of ownership, and the control of distribution, of global wealth in favour of G-7 countries.

Capitalist institutions are now moving away from rules-based to standards-based systems, eg., accounting and auditing, bank supervision, bankruptcy procedures, corporate governance, and securities regulations. These systems are basically flawed because they are products of G-7 thinking, which excludes all the other countries to which they are applied.

>From 1992 to 1998 the daily exchange volume in the global foreign exchange market increased from US$1-trillion to US$1,5-trillion. On this basis, it is projected that by the year 2000 the annual exchange volume will reach US$375-trillion while annual trade volume will reach only US$7-trillion. There is an explosive global disjuncture between goods and services actually produced and the amount of money in circulation.

The first major lesson from the East Asian crisis is to reform, restructure, and democratise the IMF. There are other lessons to be learnt, some of which are -- not to follow IMF prescriptions, to keep all developing economies oriented to produce for domestic demands within an appropriate set of macro-economic policies, the governments of developing countries should invest in foreign markets to increase their foreign reserves, lock hedge funds in the currency and stock markets for a period of five years, after which they may be withdrawn in tranches, and restrict hedge funds to B-class shares on the stock market. Governments need to be more active in their interventions in managing their exchange rate regimes. Developing countries need to create an exchange rate regime to suit their own needs. There also need to be the creation of regional monetary unions, greater use of barter and contra-trade, and developing countries need to exploit the "tax overhang" in developed countries to their own advantage.



International - Yugoslavia

NATO's criminal bombing

For over two months NATO war-planes and missiles have been bombarding Yugoslavia. Thousands of civilians have been killed, many of them children, and thousands more civilians have been injured. A passenger train was hit in the Grdelica Gorge, a refugee convoy was bombed, a bus on a bridge was decimated, Serbian television journalists have been deliberately targeted, and the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was gutted in a missile attack.

The US-led NATO attacks have deliberately disrupted health services, water supplies, and food production. Housing, hospitals, schools, historic monuments, churches, and works of art have been destroyed. Yugoslavia is being bombed back into the stone age.

These attacks are in gross violation of the Geneva Protocols on the conduct of war. The NATO war has also deliberately by-passed the United Nations and the UN Security Council, in flagrant violation of international law. The SACP has joined with President Mandela, the South African government, and progressive forces world-wide in condemning this terror bombing.

Condemning NATO bombing does not mean uncritical support for Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic. Indeed, the SACP and many progressive forces world-wide, including within Yugoslavia itself, have consistently condemned the ethnic politics of Milosevic, and others in the former Yugoslavia. It was precisely NATO powers like the US and Germany that, in 1991-92, fanned the flames of ethnic separatism in the Balkan region, in order to dismantle a once relatively viable (and peaceful) socialist society. For 45 years after World War II, the many nationalities that made up Yugoslavia lived together in peace. In the civil and ethnicised wars that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia, there was much bloodshed and human rights violations on all sides. The biggest single act of "ethnic cleansing" in the mid-1990s was the forced removal of 600,000 Serbs from the Krajina region of Croatia (a former Yugoslav republic) by the US-trained and armed Croatian military in 1995. Some 55,000 of these displaced Serbs were resettled in Kosovo, and are now once more among the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the NATO bombing and conflict in Kosovo.

The criminal NATO bombings do not excuse the politics of Milosevic. The SACP is deeply concerned about the plight of Albanian Kosovars, and about all the peoples of former Yugoslavia. However, rather than surgically ending "ethnic cleansing" policies in Kosovo, the NATO bombing has triggered one of the largest flows of refugees in the region. Another precipitating factor has been the support given by the US to the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) - a terrorist, right-wing secessionist movement, funded in part, (as evidence is increasingly showing) by a drugs trade channeled through Albania and Kosovo.

Opion manipulation

There is growing public opposition and outrage at the NATO bombing in Western Europe and the United States. But this opposition has to assert itself in the teeth of considerable media disinformation.

For instance, President Mandela's condemnation of the bombing both here in South Africa, and during his May visit to Russia, Eastern Europe and China, was not covered by CNN or the BBC.

The major Western broadcasters, and politicians like UK prime minister Tony Blair claim that polls show that NATO actions enjoy "overwhelming public support". But the questions that the pollsters ask are completely slanted. They ask questions like "Do you support Milosevic's policies?" "Do you support action taken against ethnic cleansing?" The idea that bombing is the only possible way of expressing concern at the plight Albanian Kosovars is deliberately and misleadingly cultivated.

As in the case of Iraq and Libya, a key component of the US/NATO disinformation campaign is the demonisation of a single individual. In the words of one US State Department official "the demonisation of Milosevic is necessary to maintain air attacks". (San Francisco Chronicle, March 30, 1999). Serbs are being punished, we are told, because of the sins of a single man - President Slobodan Milosevic. In reality, US/NATO bombs are falling on all Yugoslavs - Serbians, Montenegrins, Albanians, Hungarians, Romanis and other peoples. Indeed, there is some evidence to suggest that, far from being an "accident", the NATO missile attack on the Chinese embassy was based on a CIA belief that Milosevic and his wife were sleeping in the embassy.

The demonisation of Milosevic is typical of the puerile political grasp of NATO leaders of the situation on the ground. What is more, the argument that Milosevic "refused to negotiate" is also not true. In February at "peace talks" in France, the US government presented the Yugoslav government with a three-point ultimatum - 1) Kosovo must be granted autonomy; 2) NATO must be allowed to station 30,000 ground troops in Yugoslavia to ensure autonomy; and 3) A NATO-conducted referendum for Kosovo's independence would take place within three years. The Yugoslav government agreed to the first condition, but rejected the other two, saying they were a gross violation of national sovereignty.

Real goal

As the bombing of Yugoslavia extends into a third month, the propaganda claim that it is a "human rights" mission is exposed more and more clearly for its hypocrisy.

Indeed, the bombing has failed in every one of its stated objectives. Before the NATO bombing there were tens of thousands of refugees displaced by fighting in Kosovo. Now there are close to 1,5 million. Before the bombing there had been some 2000 civilian deaths in Kosovo, since the bombing there has been an equal number and of ("sorry, this was collateral damage") civilian deaths, and the number is rising. Damage to Yugoslavia is R300 billions and mounting.

The real US/NATO strategic objective is to assert NATO and US military supremacy across the globe, to defy the UN, and specifically to splinter Yugoslavia into even smaller pieces. The region is strategic, at the cross-roads between Western Europe and the oil-rich Middle East and Caspian Basin. Western backed ethnic civil wars and ethnic balkanisation have already ensured US military domination in the former Yugoslav republics of Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia, and US military domination has also been effectively extended to Hungary and Albania. In the region, only a diminished Yugoslavia, still with a significant military capacity, had not been subdued into complete submission.

The Kosovo situation was a pretext for the achievement of this broader strategic goal. The NATO intervention is deeply concerning for the entire world. It reflects a particular vision of how the global system should be shaped in the coming millennium. The fact that the NATO intervention is meeting with increasing condemnation is important. Every effort must be made to ensure a return to a rule governed global system under the supervision of the United Nations.


Letter

Reform or Revolution? - a response to Kadar Asmal

Lucky Montana's transfiguration of Thabo Mbeki as Lenin certainly provides evidence of what Dale McKinley calls "the general state of ideological confusion" on the left (The African Communist, no. 150). So too does Professor Kadar Asmal's thoughtful commemorative address at the launch of the third edition of Bunting's Moses Kotane, contained in the same issue.

Noting that Marx warned against insurrectionary delirium and saw good things in capitalism, Professor Asmal argues against ultra-leftist puritanism and concludes: "So we must ask ourselves whether, in surly critiques of globalisation, in passive resort to phrases like `neo-liberalism' we are not abdicating our responsibility to do more than whinge."

Marx, of course, saw good things in colonialism too - like railways and the undermining of "rural idiocy". Presumably Professor Asmal would not advocate coming to terms with either colonialism or any of its persisting surrogates. Is accommodationism within the terms of capitalism capable of jettisoning its most unpalatable manifestations? Professor Asmal appears to believe it is. "Neo-liberalism" is the crude slogan that denotes this crude and ahistorical abstraction of a benign capitalism cleansed of its complicity with the slaughter-bench of history.

In addition Professor Asmal makes an implicit claim for the necessary connection between political equality (achieved via the 1994 elections) and social equality - a distinction that Marx and Engels addressed on a number of occasions.

In the 1886 preface to the English translation of Capital, Engels sharpened the critique of Kant's legalistic conception of formal equality, which is often the goal of political revolution. He also noted that social revolution and real political progress in terms of liberty and equity might indeed be accomplished by peaceful and legal means. However, after electoral victory the stakeholders in capitalism will surely try to appropriate those aiming at real transformation with appeals to common interest and unity.

Faced with a tenacious and resourceful "pro-slavery" rebellion the struggle must be taken up within a democratic polity more open than its predecessors to intervention. This rules out both the smug capitulation to the imperatives of capital and the precipitous surrender of the advances of democratic struggle before those forces ready and waiting, close by, to reoccupy the terrain.

Although Marx and Engels supported reformist endeavours (the English Ten Hours Bill, and those of the German Democratic Party) and valued their progressive potential, what they questioned was the ability of reforms to live up to the ideals of their proponents.

As Marx put it in his 1850 Address of the Central Committee of the Communist League to its Members in Germany: "But they [the German workers] will accompany the greatest part of their final victory for themselves through self-enlightenment as to their class interests, by taking their own independent party attitude as early as possible, and by not permitting themselves to be fooled as to the necessity for the independent organisation of the party of the proletariat by the hypocritical phrases of the democratic petty bourgeoisie. Their battle-cry must always be, `The Permanent Revolution!'"

The appeal to the bourgeois form of universal equal rights can be reformulated as a means for the proletarians to arrive at unity. But "this appeal to their right is only a means of making them take shape as `they', as a revolutionary, united, mass" (The German Ideology); it is not an end in itself, nor a necessary springboard to social equity.

While acknowledging the gains achieved by bourgeois revolutions and liberal reformism, Marx invoked the potential to break through the nightmare of the tradition of dead generations that haunt revolutionary transformations with the prospect of grotesque repetitions. Rather than set the agenda, the past can serve to "exalt the new struggles...to recover the spirit of the revolution, rather than to set its ghost walking again" (The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte). If revolution is to realise its ideals it must do so on its own terms because the institutions of bourgeois democracy will be transfigured rather than reformed according to the new meaning given to those ideals by the revolutionary change in context.

In the Preface to the 1872 German edition of the Manifesto Marx and Engels drew from the fate of the Paris Commune the lesson that "the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made State machinery, and wield it for its own purposes". This contrasts with Engels' subsequent view of the republic as the ready-for-use political form for the future role of the proletariat, an evolutionary rather than revolutionary interpretation consonant with the democratic advances of the German SPD.

Spectres of revolution are meticulously exorcised in the current reformist South African context. But, as Professor Asmal suggests, the difference between collaboration and comradeship may well depend on which tradition we choose to remember and profess.

From Shane Moran, Durban

reviews the global economic crisis that sharpened in the second half of 1998. He considers the background of the crisis, and points to important lessons that have to be learnt. agrees with Sizwe Shezi that the SACP needs to take political work amongst youth more seriously. But he disagrees that this means that a Young Communist League should now be launched. , SACP Provincial Deputy Chair, KZN, argues that the time has come to re-establish a YCL. The paper is designed to foster discussion and debate, and is the personal contribution of the author. There is a saying that if you owe your bank a small amount of money, it's your problem. But if you owe it a huge amount, it's the bank's problem. Until very recently the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank did not want to recognise the truth of this maxim. With 66,36 percent of the vote, the ANC-led alliance has won an overwhelming election victory in the second ever democratic elections in South Africa. The June 2 elections were characterised by, amongst other things, an exceptionally high voter turn-out (over 87 percent of registered voters), an ANC land-slide, and the trouncing of the old apartheid governing party, the National Party (now called the "New" National Party).

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