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Umsebenzi – May 2000

Contents

WAR AGAINST POVERTY
EDITORIAL NOTES
The new Umsebenzi
Increase the distribution of Umsebenzi
Thetha msebenzi (future issues)
LETTERS
Eric Kitiki (Lefalane) and Zumani Saul (De Aar)
RED STAR COLUMN
TRIBUTE
Tribute to Gladys Marks
Pick up Cde Nzo's spear
Hamba Kahle Shoots
POVERTY FOCUS
Build Power for Eradication of Poverty
Short notes on Poverty in SA
GENDER
Introducing the Gender Column
Black women and poverty
LABOUR BEAT
iGoli 2002 will go with or without labour
Queenstown SACP calls for pay parity
Durban Metro tried to evict Chatsworth poor
POETRY
African Woman Identity - Thandiwe Gulwa
NEW YEAR
Happy new year messagess
REVOLUTIONARY HISTORY
The Internationale
WORKERS' BEAT
Victory for Cape Town hawkers
INTERNATIONAL NEWS
Don't let them murder Mumia
Revolution in Ecuador
Indian trade unions oppose Privatisation
INTERVIEW
Swazi youth fight for democracy

Intensify class battles for the war against poverty

(by Blade Nzimande, SACP General Secretary)

Build People´s Power for the Eradication of Poverty

The beginning of February 2000 signals the start of intensified struggles by organised workers against job losses and for job creation. The SACP has correctly adopted the programmatic theme of “Build People´s Power for the Eradication of Poverty” as its programme of action for 2000. This focus has correctly identified poverty as the single biggest threat to our democracy and the attainment of a better life for all. The foundations of poverty are essentially capitalist. The reproduction of poverty has been based on the national oppression of the black majority based on the subjugation of women and acute gender inequalities.

These intensified struggles by the workers are long overdue. Not only have workers been battered by the job loss bloodbath in our country over the last few years, but also they have been subject to intensified ideological attacks. The most sinister of these attacks has been an attempt to project the gains of organised workers (e.g. worker friendly labour laws) as the principal cause of unemployment and poverty. These attacks have also demonised organised workers as being responsible for the very same retrenchments they have been victims of. Even more sinister in these attacks have been attempts to project working class struggles as being directly at the expense of the poor.

The SACP rejects these neo-liberal ideological distortions with the contempt they deserve. The struggle against job losses is simultaneously a struggle against poverty, as the loss of a job means the loss of the only means of livelihood that the overwhelming majority of our people have. Therefore the struggle of the working class for job creation and against job losses is the same struggle as that of the urban and rural poor to make ends meet. And there can be no job creation without job retention and job security.

Defend jobs for the eradication of poverty and a better life for all!

The intensified ideological attacks should not hide one other important fact. The single biggest contributor to deepening poverty in our country is job losses! In any society where the majority of the people depend on jobs for income, a job loss means being thrown into hunger, disease and ignorance. It is not the labour laws of the democratic government that causes poverty, but it is the greed of the capitalist classes. It is not the struggles of the working class to defend its jobs that cause poverty, but it is retrenchments by the bosses. The claim that by reversing the gains made by workers by relaxing labour laws will create jobs, is yet another trick to subject workers to even more exploitation. There is no proof anywhere else in the world that flexible labour laws in themselves lead to job creation. In many instances the erosion of protection for workers lead to payment of slave wages and make the retrenchments of workers even easier.

Another form that this ideological attack against the working class is taking is that the struggles of the working class are by their very nature sectarian and not in the interests of the revolution as a whole or the economic development of our country. We need not remind these bourgeois apologists that the working class constitutes the overwhelming majority of the people of this country. To denounce the working class struggles as sectarian is nothing but a defence of the bosses and their greed. The interests of the bosses are in fact the most selfish and narrowest of interests that unashamedly aim to secure wealth for the few at the expense of the majority.

Defend jobs and build working class power!

Important as these struggles to fight job losses are, it is however important that the working class needs to extend these struggles beyond just defending jobs. These class battles must be turned into an offensive against capitalism itself and as building blocks for a bigger war against poverty. As long as workers limit their struggles to job losses, no matter what victories are in the short-term; those will be reversed for as long as capitalism remains intact in our country. It is in the nature of capitalism itself to shed more and more jobs as the bosses seek more profits.

It is also important to use these struggles as a basis for consolidating working class power throughout South African society. The only basis to deepen the national democratic revolution is a strong working class that is aware of its political role as the only force capable to taking forward the democratic revolution in favour of the mass of the people of our country. Opportunists and enemies of the working class will of course be quick to point out that these struggles are directed against the ANC and the democratic government. This should not surprise us as opportunism can only thrive through an attempt to weaken the working class as the only way to consolidate capitalist power.

These class battles by the workers are in fact the foundation upon which to strengthen the very democratic government brought about through the sacrifices and struggles by the working class and the poor. The deepening of the national democratic revolution has always been premised on a strong working class that does not hesitate to advance its class interests as the only way to ensure a people-driven and people-centred democracy. It is therefore important that the working class understand its own struggles as in the deepest interests of South Africa´s democracy.

Defend jobs for gender equality!

The job loss bloodbath has mostly affected women who occupy the most vulnerable jobs, and therefore the first victims of retrenchments. Therefore a struggle to defend workers´ jobs is a struggle for gender equality! It is also black, in particular African, workers – as a result of the apartheid legacy – who are also the most vulnerable to retrenchments. Therefore a struggle to defend workers´ jobs is a struggle against the legacy of national oppression and racism! Job losses weaken the economic and political capacity of the working class. Therefore the struggle against job losses is also a struggle to strengthen the black working class as the main motive force of the national democratic revolution! Therefore defending jobs and fighting for job creation and job security is the continuation of the struggle for national liberation.

It is for the above reasons that the SACP fully throws its weight behind these class battles. Unless the working class mobilises to defend jobs and fight against poverty, there is a very real danger that our democracy will be enjoyed only by a few at the expense of the overwhelming majority. It is for this reason that we must also seek to use these struggles to restore the revolutionary morality amongst our people. The unashamed stance by some within the ranks of the aspirant black capitalists that they are entitled to be filthy rich millionaires during this period, emphasises the need for massive working class mobilisation to prioritise the eradication of poverty over self-enrichment.

Therefore the political battle cry for these struggles should be the mobilisation and consolidation of working class power for the eradication of poverty. The SACP remains convinced that it is only the working class that will lay even stronger foundations for a better life for all. The working class should take direct political responsibility for its future, as the basis upon which to defend our pride as a nation and as a people.

Defend jobs for economic justice!
Defend jobs for job creation!
Defend jobs to deepen the national
democratic revolution!

EDITORIAL NOTES

The new Umsebenzi

As readers will notice, Umsebenzi has several new features. They are:

  • the Umsebenzi Gender Column
  • Umsebenzi Historical notes
  • The use of all South African languages in Umsebenzi
  • A revised labour beat (update of local working class struggles)
  • Notes on poverty, HIV/AIDS and rural transformation

These new features will highlight gender, poverty, HIV/AIDS and rural transformation as important issues for communists. Readers are asked to contribute to the above columns. Articles should have between 450 and 550 words and should written in two languages where possible.

Increase the distribution of Umsebenzi!

Umsebenzi comes out every second month. The next issue will come out for March/April 2000. We sell between 5000 and 7500 copies of Umsebenzi per issue. We want to produce Umsebenzi monthly and increase its distribution to 15 000 by December 2000. We call on readers, SACP branches, districts and provinces to contribute by doing the following:

l selling Umsebenzi to COSATU and affiliate local meetings, local ANC and civic branches, local libraries, community radio stations and local newspapers

l make one day a month an Umsebenzi selling day by setting up mobile shops in industrial areas during lunch hours, in taxi ranks, train stations and other public areas

Thetha msebenzi!

Form
Umsebenzi 
collectives!

This is the last issue of Umsebenzi which will be written in English only. Future issues of Umsebenzi will have articles and summaries of articles in other South African languages. Workers, SACP members form Umsebenzi collectives in workplaces and residential areas so that workers and the poor can reflect and write about their own experiences and struggles for Umsebenzi.

  

LETTERS

Dear Editor

As communists we need to discuss our role in the present parliament which includes neo-liberal parties and people's organisations. Some communists argue that communist participation in parliament confuses the working class and justifies the actions of a bourgeois democratic state to suppress the working class.

Other communists argue that communist presence in parliament is important to stop and oppose reactionary programmes.

The Communist Party must not stop fighting for socialism even for one day. This includes taking the socialist agenda and programme to the current parliament.

Eric Kitiki
ANCYL and SACP member, Lefalane


Dear Editor

Africa is probably the oldest continent. Africa is big and is a continent of ancient rocks, colonialism, civilisation, despair and hope.

President Mbeki has declared this century "the African century". Without the uopliftment of African masses, this concept will remain a dream. The success of democracy and working class mobilisation is also important. The integration of African economies to the world economy is also a big challenge. African countries must develop a common agenda so as to ensure that conditions are not dictated by western powers, the World Bank and the IMF.

What is the role of socialist forces, poor people's and working classs organisations indeveloping the concept of an African Rennaisance?

Thank you for considering my views

Zamani Saul
SACP member, De Aar

RED STAR COLUMN

Two thumbs down To the Cape Town City Council employee, Mr. Ivan Mongale for effectively banning a poster of the Treatment Action Campaign on 01 February 2000. The poster read: “President Mbeki – AZT/Nevirapine for Pregnant Women with HIV”. TAC approached the Council for permission to display the poster on lampposts for the opening of Parliament. The TAC was refused permission to display the poster until the “Presidency” had given permission because the President´s name is on the poster. This is a constitutional outrage and in reality a ban on political speech.

Three thumbs down To Western Cape Metrorail – for evicting hawkers in train stations in the Cape Metropole. This inhuman treatment of poor people, trying to scrape a living, smacks of racism and lack of concern for the poor.

Four thumbs down To the Financial Services Board – a recent decision of the appeal board of the FSB allows employers access to the actuarial surplus of a pension fund. This decision sets a dangerous precedent for all pension funds. The surplus on a fund should be for the benefit of the fund´s members, and no-one else. Any other approach will encourage grave irregularities, and may tempt unscrupulous employers to start raiding their workers´ piggy banks. We call on government to urgently review the Pension Fund Act to ensure that the funds of working people are not abused.

TRIBUTES

Tribute to Gladys Marks!

The SACP learnt with sadness about the passing away of Mrs Gladys Marks, the wife to the late Chairperson of our Party, Uncle JB Marks at Helen Joseph Hospital at 15h45 on 10 January 2000. The SACP expresses its deep felt condolences to the family of JB and Gladys Marks and we lower our flag to honour this stalwart who died at the age of 87.

The most painful part of the life of Mrs. Marks was the death of her husband, Uncle JB, in exile in Moscow on 1 August 1972. Till this day Uncle JB lies buried at the Novodevichye Cemetery in Moscow since 11 August 1972. We shared and continue to share the pain of Mrs. Gladys Marks and the family of having a loved one´s remains lying thousands of kilometres away. We are however comforted by the fact that at 1995 SACP Congress Mrs Marks was amongst the stalwarts who were officially honoured for their contribution and sacrifices to the liberation of our country and people.

The SACP says the name of Mrs. Marks, a great but humble woman, will also be remembered for her contribution and sacrifices. Our only comfort is that at least Mrs. Marks lived to see the fruits of the struggle that she and JB devoted their lives to. We say Hamba Kahle Mam´ Marks, siyohlala sikukhumbula. South African Communists and the people of our country will always keep fond memories of you.

Pick up Cde Nzo’s spear!

The South African Communist Party (SACP) is deeply saddened and shocked at the passing away of Comrade Alfred Nzo. He will go down in history as one of the giants of our struggle, having also been the longest serving Secretary-General of the African National Congress.

It was under comrade Nzo’s tenure as ANC Secretary-General, that the ANC faced some of its most difficult periods of struggle as an illegal organisation. One of his greatest achievements was to revive the ANC, both internally and internationally, as the prime national liberation movement in our country.

As the SACP, we also remember cde Nzo for the role he played in strengthening the cohesion of the Alliance during the difficult years in exile. He was a staunch believer that all Alliance components need to be strengthened, and he paid particular attention to nurturing the relationship between the ANC and the SACP.

We deeply honour this hero and wish to express our most sincere condolences to Mama Nzo and the family. As communists, we shall forever honour his memory.

Hamba Kahle Shoots!

Cde Shoots was an SACP member, a long time SACP administrator and provincial leader in KwaZulu Natal. Since 1997 he has been working as the CEO of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) in Pretoria.

Cde. Shoots Naidoo passed away on 27 January 2000. He died from a heart attack. Fellow communists and revolutionaries paid tribute to Shoots at a moving memorial service held in Pretoria on 02 February 2000.

The SACP dips its revolutionary banner in memory of this outstanding cadre of our revolution. The SACP expresses its deep felt condolences to the family of Shoots, his friends and comrades in Chatsworth.

BUILD PEOPLES POWER TO ERADICATE POVERTY

Year 2000 for Building People’s Power for the Eradication of Poverty

The SACP Central Committee meeting of December 1999 adopted the above as the theme and programme of the SACP for the year 2000. The political basis and main content of our year 200 programme is the defence and deepening of a working-class led national democratic revolution. Our approach is that of tackling class, racial and gender contradictions in South African society.

The SACP year 2000 programme is also underpinned by the building of people’s power, the foundation of which must be the consolidation of working class power. The SACP programme has five interrelated components to it that are directly related to the continuation of poverty in our country.

Jobs

Job losses are linked to deepening inequalities and increasing poverty. In its work, the SACP must link job retention and job creation to poverty eradication.

SACP job creation campaigns and strategies must focus on the following: – building of co-operatives – campaigning for the development of a comprehensive state-led industrial strategy – public infrastructural programmes at community level – mobilising for accessing funds through Umsobomvu and Ntsika Funds – campaigning for the implementation of the resolutions of the presidential jobs summit – and extension of mineral rights to communities located around mines and mine dumps.

The SACP must fully support intensified campaigns together with the trade union movement for job retention and security and a fight against retrenchments in all sectors. In these campaigns, the SACP must campaign to defend and extend the public sector as a leading agency in development, with a particular focus of strengthening parastatals as public instruments for development

Rural transformation

  • Mobilise around the government’s programme for land reform and land for productive use
  • Building of co-operatives, with each province identifying areas for pilots
  • Building of rural development committees, paying particular attention to women’s empowerment

Violence against women

  • Campaign against criminality and violence, with a particular focus on crimes against women and children
  • Intensified work in building Community Policing Forums (CPFs)
  • Specific high profile campaigns and events against rape, linking this to the programme of CPF’s
  • Use the women’s months to focus on rape and violence against women
  • Discussions and programmes with local schools on role models, debates, competitions, essays on violence against women
  • Forming local groups to monitor rape cases in local courts to ensure that bail is not granted
  • Linking up and forming men’s groups where issues of abuse, rape and violence are dealt with and encourage men to look at why violence against women happens

Campaigns on HIV/AIDS

  • HIV/AIDS awareness to be integrated into all our activities outlined above
  • Actively link up with NGOs and participate in their campaigns on HIV/AIDS
  • Highlight and struggle against discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS
  • Target schools, through the building and participation in school governing bodies, as a specific focus of our campaign
  • Focus and campaign around cheap and accessible drugs
  • Local Government transformation and elections
  • To link up and integrate with the ANC’s election campaign
  • Raise working class issues in the campaign, and seek a linkage between the elections and the acceleration of local government transformation
  • Focus on building people’s participation in local government transformation, focusing on building the capacity of local government to deliver services for people and not for profit ie. Rolling back the capitalist market in delivery of municipal services
  • Building of local development committees

Organisational implications of the Year 2000 programme

This programme must be used to build party structures, with a particular emphasis on building strong and functioning SACP branches and districts. It is important that Party building should not be treated as a separate component of our programmes and activities, but that these are integrally linked. In addition this programme must link with the Alliance programme and the building of Alliance structures. In order to attain this the following organisational programme should be embarked upon:

  1. Strengthening branch and district structures, and building the capacity of these to effectively drive our Year 2000 programme. Important in this is the operation of district offices by May 2000. 
  2. Intensification of recruitment amongst workers and the establishment of workplace units and branches. This task must be explicitly related to the challenge of building workplace democracy and challenge to management unilateralism 
  3. Intensification of political education, with a particular focus on district and branch leadership, and base this political education on our Year 2000 programme focus 
  4. Use the programme to intensify our debit order campaign with the aim of attaining financial self-sufficiency for the Party in year 2000

Implementation Strategy

Our implementation strategy includes the following:

  1. National and provincial budgets to be based on the implementation of this programme, together with fund-raising campaigns aimed at enhancing its implementation 
  2. Produce an SACP position paper on Poverty by end of February 2000, covering the following aspects: 
  1. An analysis of the class, race and gender foundations and dimensions of poverty in South Africa 
  2. Empirical information and data on the nature and extent of poverty in South Africa 
  3. The relationship between poverty and capitalism 
  4. A brief outline of the state of each of the components of the campaign and how they are related to or reinforced by poverty 
  1. Produce similar position papers on jobs, HIV/ AIDS, violence against women, local government transformation and rural transformation at regular intervals in the year. 
  2. The first Provincial Councils in Year 2000 to discuss the programme and develop an implementation strategy and plan for each province, and for each subsequent PC to evaluate progress and plan for the next stage of the programme 
  3. To hold bilateral discussions at national, provincial, district and branch levels during the first three months of Year 2000 with the ANC, COSATU, other MDM formations, progressive church organisations and NGOs to brief them about our programme and seek ways of their participation and/or support of this programme 
  4. All lower structures to provide monthly progress reports to higher structures on the implementation of the programme. 
  5. Provinces to develop an effective deployment strategy for leadership to participate effectively in the implementation of this programme on an on-going basis 8. Each province to set dates for the whole of Year 2000, by end of February 2000, for the holding of monthly District Councils to evaluate and plan for next stages of the programme, as well as discussions of regular party work.

Short notes on poverty in South Africa

(By Mazibuko K. Jara)

This is another new feature in Umsebenzi. In the next issues of Umsebenzi, we will cover other topics and statistics on poverty – the relation between poverty and capitalism, the relationship between the macro-economic policy and deepening inequalities, the eradication of poverty and the fight for socialism. Readers are encouraged to submit articles and notes on poverty and strategies to eradicate poverty.

Links between poverty, income and social services

Regular wage work is the most important source of income for all households. Remittances from working family members and social pension makes up most of the additional income for the poor/ultra poor.

Poverty is seriously exacerbated by inadequate services, poor housing and poor infrastructure and the absence of basic amenities results in ‘time poverty’, mostly borne by women.

Survival strategies typically involve community-based networks (mostly women) and co-operative ventures.

The extent of poverty – gender and race dimensions

Rural female households earn less, from the same income sources, as male-headed households. Almost 70% of female headed households are living in poverty, while 61% of children are living in poverty (70% of African children under the age of 16 are classified as living in poverty). On average women spend up to four hours per day securing water and wood.

By the 1990s only 8,5% of new entrants to the labour market found employment in the formal sector. The ‘poor’ (poorest 40%) have an expenditure level of less than R300 per month and ‘ultra-poor’ (poorest 20%) less than R178. Almost 53% of the South African population fall within category of poor and almost 29% in the category ‘ultra-poor’.

The gap between rich and poor has remained relatively constant over last three decades, despite significant increases in wealth for a small number of blacks. The majority of the population is now deeper in poverty than before.

There has been a 25% decline in the income share of the poorest 40% of households as opposed to a 4,1% increase in income share of top 10%

The gap between rich and poor is much higher than the gap between blacks and whites in terms of share of total expenditure. The poorest 40% makes up 6% of total expenditure, whereas the richest 20% of the population makes up 69% of total expenditure.

Of those categorised as poor almost 95% are Africans, 5% Coloured, 0,2% Indian and 0,1% white.

The general conditions of the poorest urban residents have not changed in the 1990s – long-term poverty levels appear to have increased. For example in Gauteng, the proportion of people living below the ‘minimum living level’ has increased from 20,8% in the early 1970s to 31,2% in the early 1990s. recent study of domestic workers in Sandton found average annual wage was a mere R4,776.

The Eastern Cape, KZN and Northern Province have the highest poverty shares of 24%, 21% and 18% respectively. Almost 75% of the poor live in the rural areas.

In the 1960s, 30% of the population failed to secure a formal sector job – by the 1990s this figure had risen to over 50% of the potential labour force.

In terms of housing 22,6% of all SA’s live in shacks/traditional dwellings, only 53,4% have electricity, only 58,9% have piped water, on 53% have a flush toilet/improved latrine and 23,7% used wood as main fuel source for cooking. These figures are much higher for the poorest 40% (e.g., only 27,5% have piped water and only 21,4% have electricity) and even worse when applied to the rural poor.

Over 36,4% of households are engaged in agricultural production for income as opposed to 5,3% in SMME’s. Over 37,4% are engaged in employment in the secondary labour market while 39,4% depend on claims against household members and 32,4% depend on claims against the state.

Adapted from “Poverty elimination,
employment creation and sustainable
livelihoods in SA” (A. Adelzadeh, et. al),
National Institute for Economic Policy, 1996 

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