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Urban Futures: Selling the Soul of Jozi and Wits

Comment by Mark Weinberg, SANGOCO Media Officer (SANGOCO stands for the South African NGO Coalition).

For thousands of Johannesburg residents the week of 10 to 14 July was not like any other. They searched for jobs that do not exist, struggled to find food to feed their families, and battled to find resources to pay for increasingly unaffordable basic services.

At the same time, academics, councillors and bureaucrats discussed the future of Johannesburg in-between cocktail parties. Delegates from overseas joined local policy-makers were hosted by the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council and the University of the Witwatersrand. The conference was called ‘Urban Futures’, and claimed to provide creative solutions to problems of urban populations in the 21st century.

Many activists were disturbed by the exclusiveness of the conference and its programme. The R400 registration fee for local delegates prevented ordinary local residents from participating in the conference and bringing their ideas and experiences.

The communities of Johannesburg were not represented in the programme. What was the political agenda behind the Urban Futures conference? However much Wits 2001 and iGoli 2002 are resisted, Urban Futures, promised to ‘Rocket you into iGoli 2002’ - throwing people’s needs and ideas aside.

Rather, we should have community participation to discuss the future of our cities and universities.

Fewer, worse jobs: Interpreting the latest jobs data

By Fiona Tregenna, a researcher at the COSATU parliamentary office and SACP member.

Dudu Hadebe does domestic work for her cousin’s family once a week and receives food and transport money in return. Hennie Abrahams stands on Adderley Street showing cars where to park and hoping for some small change in return. Andile Madikane, a retrenched mineworker, grows vegetables at his Eastern Cape home and last week he brought some extra vegetables to the nearby town to hawk. Are these people employed? And can such activities ever be a substitute for quality, stable formal sector jobs?

According to the latest figures from Statistics South Africa, these answer to the first question is yes. And too many reporters seem to have concluded that the answer to the second must then also be yes.

Yet clearly, it makes more sense to call these activities disguised unemployment. They do not generate an income that will support an individual, much less a family; they will hardly enhance economic growth in the long run; and they have little prospects for improving skills or raising productivity.

This is how the Press reported the findings of the 1998 October Household Survey (OHS), published recently by Statistics South Africa:

Between October 1996 and October 1998, the total number of “employed” people remained basically stable, at 9.3 to 9.4 million.

Formal sector jobs (excluding agriculture and a few other activities) declined from 5.2 to 4.9 million, while informal employment rose by about the same amount, to 1.3 million, and agricultural employment grew from 0.8 to 0.9 million. In addition, a residual category of formal sector employment has declined by over 100 000.

The unemployment rate (unemployed as a percentage of the economically active population) increased steadily from 19.3% in 1996 to 21% in 1997 to 25.2% in 1998 under the narrow definition, and from 33% in 1996 to 36% in 1997 to 38% in 1998 under the “expanded” definition. Figures for the economically active do not include people who are not available for work such as housewives, students, retired people, and the disabled.

A million more unemployed

Ultimately, the figures confirm the massive unemployment crisis facing South Africa. The OHS finds that the number of people who are not working but are able to work and willing to start within a week of being interviewed (the “expanded” definition of unemployment) rose by more than a million in two years alone, from 1996 to 1998! Even using the narrow definition of unemployment (excluding people who have not actively sought work in the four weeks prior to being interviewed), the ranks of the unemployed still swelled by just under a million people over the period. This is put down largely to new entrants to the labour market, as though this is not “real” unemployment. The available evidence suggests that the situation has worsened further since 1996.

And unemployment discriminates heavily by race and gender. Unemployment for Africans is highest and is growing fastest. Non-urban African women face an unemployment rate of 60%, compared to 6% for white urban men.

People turn to survival strategies

Since there is virtually no safety net for the unemployed in South Africa, when workers lose real jobs they and their families cannot afford to sit at home and wait for equivalent work. Instead, they must engage in any income-generating activity they can find, however oppressive or poorly paid. The OHS does not distinguish between survival activities born of desperation, which do not even pay enough to subsist on, and other kinds of informal employment which could actually help alleviate poverty or serve as a bridge to decent employment.

While income figures for the 1998 OHS have not been released, in past years the survey included people with monthly incomes as low as R10 as being “employed.” It is obvious that these types of “jobs” do nothing to alleviate poverty or raise productivity. It will be important for Statistics South Africa to release income figures from the OHS, which would be revealing both in terms of the lowest incomes earned by those counted as “employed”, as well as in terms of assessing changes in the aggregate real income of workers.

Some technical problems

Accurate, timely, and relevant data is crucial to understanding developmental challenges and to formulating and evaluating policy. The OHS plays an important role in providing an understanding of broad social trends. But the results are not fully comparable year on year, however, because the sampling methods and questions vary every year, and some questions (for instance, on what constitutes “employment”) leave considerable discretion to the enumerator and the subject. As a result of these problems, the OHS has been marked by wild swings in findings between years. That makes it hard to draw robust conclusions from the comparison of the 1996 and 1998 surveys. The use by Statistics South Africa of the narrow definition is also dubious and could form part of a political agenda to minimise the definition of unemployment.

The massive inconsistencies point to some difficulties with reaching very strong conclusions about employment shifts outside the formal sector. Obvious incongruities emerge in the findings on agricultural and domestic work.

The survey suggests agricultural employment grew 30% from 1997 to 1998, after declining 5% in the previous year - and earlier Household Surveys suggest a decline of 600 000 in the previous four years. There does not seem to be any obvious economic reason for this jump, and it is difficult to reconcile it with the widely reported large-scale job losses over the past few years. This discrepancy might arise from definitional problems - “agriculture” could include anything from maintaining a market garden to full-time farm work; and could also reflect sampling differences, since a minor shift in the sample to include more rural households could greatly increase the agricultural work.

In terms of domestic workers, the survey found that from 1996 to 1997, employment of domestic workers dropped by 72 000, then grew by 80 000 in the following year. That means that the number of domestic workers fluctuated by 20% in these two years, falling 10 per cent in one year only to rise 12% the next. Again, there is no obvious economic reason for this massive swing, which could well reflect definitional problems.

Unemployment crisis confirmed, strong solutions needed

COSATU has pointed to a number of causes of the jobs haemorrhage of the past few years, including the capital strike and particularly lack of productive investment by business, excessively tight monetary policy, rapid tariff reductions, and fiscal austerity. Our recent mass action campaign - supported not only by millions or organised workers but also by the masses of unemployed - drew attention to these problems and demanded changes. Accurate and credible statistics have an important role to play in analysing situation and pointing to policy priorities. While we may have problems with the detail, the latest figures released by Statistics South Africa only confirm the extent of the crisis and the urgent need for solutions.

COSATU points to dangers of current path on inflation

COSATU Press Statement issued in May

Current press reports suggest that the Reserve Bank will likely raise interest rates in an attempt to reach the inflation target set earlier this year at 3 to 6 per cent.

This is precisely the reason that COSATU rejected inflation targeting in its present form. We said that the danger of targets would be inflexibility: that external shocks would be met by drastic measures to slow the domestic economy, in order to meet targets that had become irrelevant due to unexpected changes in circumstances. It makes more sense to institute periodic reviews of the targets than to stick to them irrespective of changing conditions.

Certainly inflationary pressures have built up. But these pressures do not arise because of a booming economy. Far from it: at 0,9 per cent growth in the last quarter, production per South African actually declined at an annual rate of over 1 per cent. Rather, price rises arise because

  • the floods pushed up food prices, which particularly harms working people on low incomes. Inflation for households earning under R2500 a year is already running at between 6 and 7 per cent.
  • devaluation increases the prices of imports, including fuel.

In these circumstances, trying to stick to the original inflation targets risks imposing disproportionate economic and social burdens on working people. Raising the interest rate to reduce inflation aims explicitly to undercut the economic expansion. That will not raise productivity in agriculture, and in the long run does not build an attractive environment for foreign investors. Instead, it will add to job losses, worsen poverty and cause immense hardship. With unemployment already at 38 per cent, these are costs our country cannot afford.

A more appropriate strategy would take a longer-term perspective, weighing carefully the costs of a few points more inflation against the hardship imposed by higher interest rates, leading in turn to declining investment, job losses and deepening poverty. Such a strategy would, as Governor Mboweni of the Reserve Bank implies, aim rather to restructure the economy to raise productivity and make it less vulnerable to external shocks. Above all, we need to reverse the current investment strike, which in the past two years has seen a 6-per-cent decline, in real terms, in private investment.

COSATU has called for an inclusive discussion of all economic policies, in order to develop more appropriate and broadly supported strategies for social and economic development. The imposition of inflation targets, and their defence through admittedly unproductive and irrational interest-rate hikes, should be halted until those discussions have reached finality

Don’t Pay Twice for Apartheid

President Thabo Mbeki was in Copenhagen, Denmark in early June. A group made up of Jubilee 2000 Denmark and the former anti-apartheid organisation, Southern Africa Contact (Denmark), held a picket outside the South African embassy in Copenhagen. The letter below was handed over to President Mbeki.

Dear Mr. President Thabo Mbeki

South Africa has come far since apartheid was abolished. For generations, black people suffered under this regime. Now the people are forced to pay back the very loans that financed the Apartheid Regime and its wars throughout Southern Africa.

To service the debt from apartheid, South Africa pays 18 billion Rand every year. This is the example set to the rest of the financial world about the “risks” involved in financing crimes against humanity! We campaigned for sanctions against the apartheid regime, and financial sanctions were adopted by Denmark and many other countries as well as the United Nations, but still the sanctions busting banks are rewarded for their reckless loans to the old regime. The money, which they extort from the South African budgets for health services, education, housing and job creation, should not be separated from the needs of the South African people. That money should be used to reconstruct and develop the living conditions of the poor. The people paid dearly under the apartheid regime and are now forced to pay once more for apartheid. So please: DON’T PAY TWICE FOR APARTHEID!

Instead of talking of debt repayment, we should all recognise that the people of South Africa have a moral right to receive compensation for the injustice of Apartheid just like Jews received from Germany after the abolition of the Nazi Regime.

To demand cancellation of the debt does not reduce the financial credibility of South Africa. The financial credibility of Poland and Egypt was not reduced after their debt cancellation but sparked of a period of development for their populations. The best long-term investment in stability is that the South African people experience improvements after apartheid.

Paying back the Apartheid Debt is also a shortsighted policy in another way. It rules out the possibility that corporations and foreign financial investors can be limited to operations within frameworks of justice and democracy. As Southern Africa moves towards greater stability in the future, a part of the process must be to stop rewarding those who paid for a destabilised region in the past. Consolidation of democracy is also to make war and genocide unprofitable. Mr. President, this was our common programme two decades ago. We hope that you will do what you can to further that struggle.

South Africa’s resources should benefit the South African people and not be wasted on paying the odious apartheid debt.

Morten Nielsen, Chairman, SOUTHERN AFRICA CONTACT

Diamonds are an imperialists’ best friend

By Brian Denny, from the Morning Star (newspaper of the Communist Party of Britain)

The image of a western diamond dealer in Angola declaring, without a hint of irony, that war “was good for business” on British TV screens last year has come back to haunt the industry.

Increasingly, the shadowy world trade in so-called “conflict diamonds” is being seen as the root cause of bloody wars across Africa as well as the motive of foreign intervention.

Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, all suffering the devastating effects of long-running wars, are also among the continent’s biggest diamond producers.

Exports of diamonds from Sierra Leone amount to over R500 million a year while precious stones from Congo and Angola amount to over R3000 million and over R5000 million respectively.

These simple facts have led to a chorus of calls for controls on the lucrative and highly centralised diamond trade.

South African diamond giant De Beers, which controls 70 per cent of the world trade in rough diamonds, has been hit hard by claims that a vicious scramble for gems has led to untold human misery across the mineral-rich African continent.

Global Witness and the New York-based Human Rights Watch have both charged that the firm has bought Angolan diamonds from areas controlled by former US-backed right wing UNITA rebels fighting the Luanda government.

The fighting in Angola has killed nearly a million people, created an immense humanitarian crisis, forced hundreds of thousands from their homes and driven many more into exile.

Global Witness has estimated that UNITA has sold as much as R40 billion from diamond deposits under its control allowing it to buy arms, fuel and food.

Another farcical example of the deadly trade is the spectre of Ugandan and Rwandan forces, initially sent into the Congo to overthrow President Laurent Kabila, are fighting it out over control of the diamond-producing town of Kisangani - the inspiration of Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness.

This mounting body of evidence has forced De Beers to make a rather sickly appeal to the world’s most powerful nation to protect it’s rights.

“De Beers is deeply concerned about anything that could damage the image of diamonds as a symbol of love, beauty and purity,” the Oppenheimer family-run firm said in written testimony to the US House Committee on International Relations last month.

Despite these efforts, growing international protests mean that the trade is now faced with the prospect of conflict diamonds suffering a consumer boycott by those who can afford them.

A study of the war in Sierra Leone by the NGO Partnership Africa Canada said: “The point of war may not actually have been to win it, but to engage in profitable crime under cover of warfare.”

This fact would also go a long way to explain the original “scramble for Africa” by the west, including Britain, and sheds some light on it’s motives of London’s intervention in the internal affairs of Sierra Leone today.

In the new scramble for the world’s resources, including oil, gas and water, it seems that diamonds are an imperialists’ best friend.



SACP attends international communist meeting

At the end of June 2000, the SACP, together with 60 Communist and Workers’ Parties from 47 countries, took part in an international conference of communist, socialist, workers and left parties hosted by the Communist Party of Greece in Athens. The SACP General Secretary, Blade Nzimande, represented the SACP at this conference.

During the three days of the conference there were rich debates and on various topics. The main issue addressed at the conference was the experiences of communists in building alliances and co-operation with other forces.

The conference came out with a consensus about the usefulness and the necessity of such meetings among Communist and Workers’ Parties. Many speakers referred to the need for continuing and intensifying such meetings.

Many of the participants also referred to the need for initiatives for convening international meetings with specific topics as well as regional meetings (America, Africa, Asia, Europe).

Many speakers stressed the need for international coordination the particular contribution of communists to the struggle of trade union movements and organisations focusing on capitalist restructuring and the attack against labour rights and gains. The conference underlined serious concern for the growing bans, persecutions and discriminations against communist parties, communists and, generally, against those resisting capitalist barbarity and imperialist interventions.

Communist Information Bulletin

In the meeting, the first issue of the “Information Bulletin”, in which each Communist and Workers’ Party can publish its documents, was made available. At the same time, the first positive results from the operation of the Rapid Information Centre through Internet, under the name of SOLIDNET.ORG were presented.

SACP statement to the conference

For its part, the SACP made the following points to this conference.

Poverty in the world is deepening and the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. Capitalism is no solution to the problems facing humanity.

We need strong national democratic states. Privatisation and liberalisation of economies are only serving to deepen unemployment and poverty worldwide.

We must dynamically and critically go back to Marxism-Leninism, studying, learning, developing the method, analysis and revolutionary spirit of Marxism-Leninism.

We need common international action

The SACP supports real and concrete internationalism and the key to achieving this must be common action which must be gradually and democratically harnessed towards our goal of socialism.

Therefore the SACP calls upon socialist forces in the world to consider the following as concrete expressions of working class internationalism: -

  • Support the Communist Party of Nepal hosted Conference on Socialism in the 21st Century planned for November 2000
  • Making every World AIDS Day, a day of international action for access to affordable drugs, in conjunction with the growing international campaign for access to affordable drugs
  • Use International Women’s Day to highlight the struggle for transformation of gender relations and target countries, institutions and governments which perpetuate gender oppression
  • Tracking, monitoring, targeting of and action against privatisation

“The conference noted that capitalism is meeting with more opposition from workers, environmental activists, women and poor and working people of the world”, said Nzimande.

“To win a better life for all, the conference supported the call for unity in action between all left, socialist and people’s movements”, concluded Nzimande.

US Senators call for end to sanctions

From Associated Press

Ending a week long visit (in July) to Cuba and a 10-hour meeting with President Fidel Castro, Senators Max Baucus, Daniel Akaka, and Pat Roberts, called for the end of the US economic blockade of Cuba and improved relations between the two countries.

Sen. Akaka, meanwhile, expressed interest in increased educational exchanges between the two countries that would allow American students to visit Cuba and Cuban students to visit the United States. “Cooperation in education could create a dialogue,” he said.

All three support growing moves in Congress to eliminate restrictions on sales of food and medicine to the Caribbean island. Senator Roberts said he supported increased cooperation by the two countries on issues of mutual concern.

But while calling for the lifting of the embargo for the benefit of both countries, Roberts concurred with Baucus and Akaka that Cuba must be willing to do its part by initiating market reforms that will make American trade with Cuba viable and grant freedom of expression to its citizens. He said, “Free trade must involve sales to individuals and realistic financing.”

AKEL appeals for solidarity against Turkish repression

This statement was issued Comrade Demetris Christofias, General Secretary of AKEL, the Progressive Party of Working People of Cyprus, on 14 July 2000

According to press information, Mr. Denktash’s occupation regime (the government of Turkey) has arrested the editor of the Turkish Cypriot newspaper “AVRUPA” along with other journalists of the same newspaper on the accusation of alleged spying in favour of foreign interests. It is not the first time that the occupation regime uses force against Sener Levent and his colleagues.

Sener Levent and “AVRUPA” represent a free voice in the occupied areas that expresses the real consciousness of the Turkish Cypriots. His arrest by the occupation regime constitutes an act of revenge and an attempt to silence this free voice, which stigmatizes the occupation regime and denounces Denktash’s plans to partition the island and, in essence, to annex the occupied areas to Turkey. This is a favourite method with the Denktash regime, rendering the capacity of an agent to any progressive voice, which he considers annoying in the Turkish Cypriot community.

We condemn and denounce unreservedly these undemocratic methods of the occupation regime. The civilized world and the international and regional organizations that defend human rights cannot remain idle before these plans. We appeal to you to react against this violation of democratic and human rights and demand the immediate release of all AVRUPA journalists and the dropping of charges against them.

Protest and solidarity messages

Protests can be sent to the Turkish Embassy in South Africa:

tel - 012 342 6053 and fax - 012 342 6052

Solidarity messages can be sent to AVRUPA avrupa@ebim.com.tr

Elian is back home!

BY RAISA PAGES (Granma International staff writer) “HOLD me tight,” said Elian’s paternal grandfather, hugging him when he came off the airplane. The child received affection and kisses from all those who had missed him during his extended absence.

Moments before the arrival of the two chartered jet planes at the Jose Marti Airport in the island’s capital, there was calm on the runway. Nothing indicated that the most awaited news in the world was about to happen there. In the terrace of Terminal One, where a hundred reporters from the national and international press were waiting, impatience could be sensed in the continuous ringing of cellular telephones, in the cameras looking for the best position.

Shortly after 7:00 p.m., more than 900 children from the Marcelo Salado School in Cardenas began to walk towards the runway, Cuban flags in their hands, guided by their teachers. They were the first to sight the plane, with the registration number N800LL, when it was still in the air. They began to wave flags and neckerchiefs, yelling: “Elian! Elian!”

Taller and slimmer than when he left Cuba, Elian descended from the plane in the arms of his father, followed by Juan Miguel’s wife Nersi and Elian’s baby brother Hianny.

He was passed from person to person, recognizing the scent of those with whom he had only communicated by telephone for seven months. His grandmothers, Mariela and Raquel, laughed and cried, reunited with their grandson, in a setting very different to the one they witnessed in Miami last January 21.

The child was missing two of his top baby teeth, as if to announce he was no longer the same. The reception in the airport was brief. Juan Miguel, his two sons and wife left in a simple car.

Along the way to the provisional lodging in the capital’s Playa municipality, people spontaneously ran to greet the family caravan, jumping over puddles that the rain had left in the streets.

Elian’s teacher, Agueda Fleitas, responsible for continuing studies during the boy’s stay in the United States, announced that the little boy was prepared to begin the second grade next fall at his school in Cardenas.

After his arrival, he moved about back and forth, turning in circles, playing, making gestures. He held hands with several of his little school friends, with whom he had shared the last months of his stay in the United States, and began to dance in a circle.

Some people wonder if Elian can be a normal child again, after the two shipwrecks-one at sea, the other on dry land, as Gabriel Garcia Marquez described the kidnapping in Miami.

Those who, calling themselves close family, converted the child into a factory for money and dirty politics against Cuba, wore expressions of rage when they knew of Elian’s return to Cuba. But although in the United States they harassed the minor, converting him into a news item, the shipwrecked boy, the blessed one-here on the island, Elian will be a child, just that.

Iraqi repression of Communists continues

Repression against the Worker Communist Party of Iraq (WCPI) in Iraqi Kurdistan has escalated. Forces of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by Jalal Talabani have killed six members of the WCPI and wounded others. The lives of other comrades are in danger. Thirty WCPI comrades have been taken prisoner.

Urgent action is required from progressive forces around the world to put pressure on the PUK. The WCPI calls on international organisations to support this in order to achieve the following:

  • The PUK to call off its repressive forces, identify and punish the murderers;
  • Free all WCPI members taken prisoner;
  • The PUK to cease its attempts to eliminate the political and civil rights of the WCPI and other political parties;
  • The PUK to give up its warmongering approach, and revert to political ways of solving any disputes among the people in Iraqi Kurdistan, and
  • Respect for human freedom and basic rights.

Send protests to Jalal Talabani, President - Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) c/o PUK United Kingdom, London, Fax: 44 171 8400630
Please send copies of protests to the WCPI - shemal1@ihug.com.au

Millions of Indian workers strike against liberalisation plans

From Agence France Presse

On 11 May, the day after the South African general strike, millions of Indian workers went on strike disrupting businesses and transport links in a protest against the Hindu nationalist government’s march towards financial liberalisation. K. L. Mehendra of the powerful All India Trade Union Congress said 20 million employees boycotted work and said the strike totally disrupted the financial sector, with Indian and foreign banks shutting down for the day.

“The strike was total in the states of Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Tripura and Kerala and partially successful in other states,” Mehendra said as the daylong strike ended.

“In the financial sector including banking and insurance the strike was total throughout the country and the stoppage was particularly successful in the coal-belt and industrial units.” The communist-backed Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said the strike even paralysed India’s agriculture sector.

“The manner in which workers responded and even the labour force from agricultural, small and other unorganised sectors joined the strike showed a national opinion was being created against economic policies of the government,” CITU president E. Balanandan said.

“The strike was aimed against the surrender of the country’s economic sovereignty before the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund,” he said.

“The overwhelming response to the strike only showed the depth of the crisis the workers find themselves in, and the intensity at which they want to oppose such retrograde policies,” CITU leader Madhukar Pandhe added. India’s four main communist parties, 12 other political groups, 55 industry federations and six trade unions took part in the nationwide protest.

Air and rail links were hit in West Bengal state. Truck transport ground to a halt in several other states. A police spokesman in the West Bengal capital Calcutta said: “Trains have been stranded in several stations because the protestors are squatting on the tracks.” In New Delhi, strikers briefly held up traffic at an arterial crossing near the downtown ITO business district till police arrested them.

Attendance at bank and insurance companies in the capital was almost nil. The demonstrators were also protesting against a recent government decision to hike the prices of cooking gas and kerosene and to cut subsidies. New Delhi is trying to rein in a massive fiscal deficit expected to reach 5.6 percent of the gross domestic product in the year to March, exceeding the government target of four percent.

Doraiswami Raja, a leader of the Communist Party of India, said there were rural issues as well. “The government has not done anything for farmers. Impoverished farmers are committing suicide due to crop failure and staggering debts. We want land re-distribution,” he said.

Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party wins election

From Workers World News Service, article by John Catalinotto

The Mongolian People´s Revolutionary Party swept back into office in that landlocked Asian country´s national election July 2, winning 72 of 76 seats contested in parliament. It had only held 26 seats in the outgoing parliament.

The MPRP is the party that led Mongolia during the period from 1921 to 1990, when it was closely allied economically and politically with the Soviet Union. It held onto office there until 1996. Though Mongolia's economy was based on raising livestock—with more livestock than people-the country had been run on socialist principles for seven decades.

The counter-revolution that overturned socialist governments in Eastern Europe and the USSR also opened up Mongolia to capitalist penetration. The MPRP went along with the early pro-capitalist changes, but tried to install them slowly. It lost the 1996 elections.

A new reform government meaning an outright pro-imperialist puppet regime let the International Monetary Fund dictate Mongolia's development and cut all social programmes.

The combination of savage capitalism” and two years of severe winters and drought killed 2 million head of livestock and threw large sections of Mongolia's 2.4 million people into abject poverty. Under the old pro-socialist government, the herders could get aid. Under capitalism, they faced starvation. An overwhelming majority voted to reject the pro-capitalist reforms.

Immediately after its sweep, the MPRP promised free education for orphans and children of poor herder families. The Morphs leader, Nambariin Enkhbayar, said,

Mongolians are realizing these magic words like `privatisation´ don't bring a better quality of life automatically.´´ He indicated he would seek to renegotiate the terms of IMF aid to Mongolia. Enkhbayar gave notice the MPRP would roll back the industrial privatisation program that was a centerpiece of the outgoing government.

Last Statement of Shaka Sankofa - end the racist death penalty!

These were the last words of Shaka Sanfoka (aka Gary Graham -which the US media insist on calling him despite his wishes and in the face of his brutal death at the hands of the racist American death machine). He was hanged in Texas, US at the end of June 2000.

I would like to say that I did not kill Bobby Lambert. That I'm an innocent black man that is being murdered. This is a lynching that is happening in America tonight. There's overwhelming and compelling evidence of my defence that has never been heard in any court of America. What is happening here is an outrage for any civilised country to anybody anywhere to look at what's happening here is wrong.

I thank all of the people that have rallied to my cause. They've been standing in support of me. Who have finished with me.

I say to Mr. Lambert's family, I did not kill Bobby Lambert. You are pursuing the execution of an innocent man.

I want to express my sincere thanks to all of yell. We must continue to move forward and do everything we can to outlaw legal lynching in America.

We must continue to stay strong all around the world, and people must come together to stop the systematic killing of poor and innocent black people. We must continue to stand together in unity and to demand a moratorium on all executions. We must not let this murder/lynching be forgotten tonight, my brothers. We must take it to the nation. We must keep our faith. We must go forward. We recognise that many leaders have died. Malcom X, Martin Luther King, and others who stood up for what was right. They stood up for what was just. We must, you must brothers, that's why I have called you today. You must carry on that condition. What is here is just a lynching that is taking place. But they're going to keep on lynching us for the next 100 years, if you do not carry on that tradition, and that period of resistance. We will prevail. We may lose this battle, but we will win the war. This death, this lynching will be avenged. It will be avenged, it must be avenged. The people must avenge this murder. So my brothers, all of yell stay strong, continue to move forward.

Know that I love all of you. I love the people, I love all of you for your blessing, strength, for your courage, for your dignity, the way you have come here tonight, and the way you have protested and kept this nation together. Keep moving forward, my brothers. Slavery couldn't stop us. The lynching couldn't stop us in the south. This lynching will not stop us tonight. We will go forward. Our destiny in this country is freedom and liberation. We will gain our freedom and liberation by any means necessary. By any means necessary, we keep marching forward.

I love you, Mr. Jackson. Bianca, make sure that the state does not get my body. Make sure that we get my name as Shaka Sankofa. My name is not Gary Graham. Make sure that it is properly presented on my grave. Shaka Sankofa.

I died fighting for what I believe in. I died fighting for what was just and what was right. I did not kill Bobby Lambert, and the truth is going to come out. It will be brought out.

I want you to take this thing off into international court, Mr. Robert Mohammed and all yell. I want you, I want to get my family and take this down to international court and file a law suit. Get all the video tapes of all the beatings. They have beat me up in the back. They have beat me up at the unit over there. Get all the video tapes supporting that law suit. And make the public exposed to the genocide and this brutality world, and let the world see what is really happening here behind closed doors. Let the world see the barbarity and injustice of what is really happening here. You must get those video tapes. You must make it exposed, this injustice, to the world. You must continue to demand a moratorium on all executions. We must move forward Minister Robert Mohammed.

Ashanti Chimurenga, I love you for standing with me, my sister. You are a strong warrior queen. You will continue to be strong in everything that you do. Believe in yourself, you must hold your head up, in the spirit of Winnie Mandela, in the spirit of Nelson Mandela. Yell must move forward. We will stop this lynching.

Reverend Jesse Jackson know that this murder, this lynching will not be forgotten. I love you, too, my brother. This is genocide in America. This is what happens to black people when they stand up and protest for what is right and just. We refuse to compromise, we refuse to surrender the dignity for what we know is right. But we will move on, we have been strong in the past. We will continue to be strong as a people. You can kill a revolutionary, but you cannot stop the revolution. The revolution will go on. The people will carry the revolution on. You are the people that must carry that revolutionary on, in order to liberate our children from this genocide and for what is happening here in America tonight. What has happened for the last 100 or so years in America. This is the part of the genocide, that we as black people have endured in America. But we shall overcome, we will continue with this. We will continue, we will gain our freedom and liberation, by any means necessary. Stay strong. They cannot kill us. We will move forward.

To my sons, to my daughters, all of you. I love all of you. You have been wonderful. Keep your heads up. Keep moving forward. Keep united. Maintain the love and unity in the community.

And know that victory is assured. Victory for the people will be assured. We will gain our freedom and liberation in this country. We will gain it and we will do it by any means necessary. We will keep marching. March on black people. Keep your heads high. March on. All ya'll leaders. March on. Take your message to the people. Preach the moratorium for all executions. We're gonna stop, we are going to end the death penalty in this country. We are going to end it all across this world. Push forward people. And know that what ya'll are doing is right. What ya'll are doing is just. This is nothing more than pure and simple murder. This is what is happening tonight in America. Nothing more than state sanctioned murders, state sanctioned lynching, right here in America, and right here tonight. This is what is happening my brothers. Nothing less. They know I'm innocent. They've got the facts to prove it. They know I'm innocent. But they cannot acknowledge my innocence, because to do so would be to publicly admit their guilt. This is something these racist people will never do. We must remember brothers, this is what we're faced with. You must take this endeavor forward. You must stay strong. You must continue to hold your heads up, and to be there. And I love you, too, my brother. All of you who are standing with me in solidarity. We will prevail. We will keep marching. Keep marching black people, black power. Keep marching black people, black power. Keep marching black people.

They are killing me tonight. They are murdering me tonight.

Italy says no to the NATO Summit

Sourced from People´s World, newspaper of the Communist Party of Canada.

On the 24 and 25 May, NATO held a summit meeting in Florence (Italy), a city with a gold medal for its resistance against the Nazis in World War 2. This meeting was met by a massive demonstration, which was endorsed by more than 50 organisations in Italy and across Europe. These included the Italian Communist Refoundation Party.

In this meeting, the NATO Alliance defined its strategies with regards to various areas of the world (the Balkans and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa), the reorganisation in a more explicitly offensive way of its military apparatus, and its expansion to the East.

On of the mobilisation leaflets for the massive demonstration defined NATO as "The NATO military alliance continues to be an instrument of aggression against national sovereignty and of interference in the internal political affairs of member states. It is as a constant threat to peace and is transforming its role and its military apparatus to adapt itself to the growing requirements of capitalist domination"

"For these reasons there is a connection between the struggles against wars of aggression, against the presence of NATO´s military bases, against militarism, and against the embargoes, with the struggles in the North and South of the world which are rising up against the sanctuaries of capitalism (WTO, IMF, World Bank), against temporary labor and "flexibility" against exploitation and poverty, for social and citizenship rights, for the right to a decent life and future, for the liberation of peoples", concluded the joint leaflet.

Okinawan people oppose US military bases

By Hiroshi Suda of the Japan Peace Committee

The G8 Summit Meeting was held in Okinawa, Japan, 21-23 July, 2000. Okinawa is a stronghold of U.S. military strategy with huge military bases. Okinawa is the only place in the world where the U.S. deploys Marine Corps outside its territory. The Marine Corps situated in front of Korean Peninsular and China are forces with a task of advance attack to other nations. Thus Okinawa is made an important stronghold of the U.S. Forces in Asia and the Pacific.

Utilising this opportunity of the G8 Summit, the Japan Peace Committee mobilised public opinion and action about the reality of Okinawa almost occupied by U.S. military forces and suffering from burden of huge U.S. bases. At the same time, the Committee called call upon all peace movements and peace-loving people of the world to express and to strengthen solidarity with the movements of Okinawan people and to pressurise Japan and U.S. government for the reduction and withdrawal of these bases.

International solidarity with Fiji

Press release by the World Federation of Trade Unions

At the 88th session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva (June 2000), the Workers Group of the ILO, representing trade unions from all parts of the world and all international, regional and national trade union centres, condemned the actions of terrorist groups in Fiji and their use of arms and hostages to force the overthrow of the democratically-elected government and constitution of the country.

Following weeks of international protests, the terrorists have now lifted their siege of Parliament and have released the hostages, including Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry. However, the lawful and constitutional authority the elected Parliament and Government remains overthrown.

The democratic rights of citizens upheld in the country s constitution have been annulled. The new rulers those who organised the terrorist coup and the groups which condoned the acts of terrorism - have declared that 44 per cent of Fiji s citizens who come from a different ethnic background shall have no political rights at all.

The terrorist coup has thus reversed the political and social advance of the people of Fiji. Peace and security of all citizens are imperiled.

Expressing its complete solidarity with the trade union movement and all democratic forces in Fiji, the World Federation of Trade Unions calls for the immediate restoration of democracy and constitutional government, which will uphold the basic human rights of all citizens. The WFTU calls upon trade unions in all countries to actively support the struggle of the Fijian people for their democratic rights and for the return of the constitutional government.

Message to G7 Leaders meeting (21 July) in Okinawa, Japan

from the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development

At their summit last year the leaders of the world's richest nations coined the Cologne Debt Initiative (CDI) in which they promised to cancel US$100 billion debt owed by the poorest countries. The CDI has not brought any relief to the 4,5 billion women and men suffering from debt domination in the South. Poverty, inequality and marginalisation continue to bedevil the developing countries, particularly sub-Saharan African countries that are yet to recover from slavery, colonialism and economic exploitation.

We view with suspicion this G7 initiative because it is not fast, deep or broad enough "debt relief" but a ploy to keep governments in the South from defaulting. The Cologne initiative deals with less than 2 percent of the total nominal debt stock of the South; it is therefore confined to a small group of countries. The initiative thus ignores the vast majority of the poor and marginalised.

As part of Jubilee South, we join the international movement for debt cancellation to demand the following from the G7 leaders meeting in Okinawa:

  1. Total and unconditional debt cancellation in addition to the $100 billion promised in Cologne to redress injustices and squarely address the issue of odious, illegitimate and onerous debt
  2. De-linking of all debt cancellation initiatives to any conditionalities
  3. Full reparations by creditors for the human, social, environmental damage caused by their loans, Structural Adjustment Programmes and other unjust economic policies
  4. Transformation of the neo-liberal market led global economy to a people driven and centered economic order where all basic fundamental human rights are respected
  5. Civil society participation and intervention in economic policy making in general and debt related policies in particular

We will not relent in our demands for the creation of a socially, economically and ecologically just global order.

Jubilee 2000 SA outraged at G-7 debt plans


Jubilee 2000 SA said it was outraged at the Group of Seven’s (G-7) announcement on debt at their summit in Okinawa in Japan last week. “The G-7 have attempted to rehash old pledges that have failed, effectively imposing further conditions on the promises of limited debt cancellation that have yet to be delivered a year after they were made in Cologne,” Jubilee 2000 SA secretary Neville Gabriel said.

“We have every reason to believe that these are yet more empty promises. We are astonished that the G-7 have ignored global public opinion by reversing debt cancellation processes. They are effectively sentencing 19 000 African children a day to death by debt”.

He said 19 000 children died each day in sub-Saharan Africa due to preventable diseases and the region was spending four times more on servicing debt than on health and education combined. Gabriel also criticised the G-7 countries for not having plans to cancel debt for countries that were affected by military conflicts. “(This) is hypocritical because arms exported predominantly from G-7 countries are used in the conflicts they refer to,” he said.

“No attention has been given to cancellation of odious debts, debts of post-conflict countries, and countries affected by severe natural disasters - all of which are relevant to southern Africa.”

The G-7 leaders had admitted the need to speed up debt relief for the world’s poorest countries, but said military conflicts in some nations were blocking progress.

They had also admitted that only nine countries had so far qualified for cancellation of their debt on the strength of a year-old promise to write off $100bn owed by the poorest 41 nations.

Gabriel said the summit cost R5,25bn, the amount required to cancel the debt payments of Rwanda, Zambia, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Benin, Haiti, Guyana and Laos for one year.

“As the G-7 assess their own economies as moving ‘towards more balanced and sustainable patterns of growth’, they have yet again failed to act to reverse the growing impoverishment in developing countries and global inequality.”



Press freedom in Swaziland

From the Committee to Protect Journalists and International Freedom of Expression Exchange

There are deep concerns about the state of freedom of the press in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Over the past nine months, media workers in Swaziland have experienced serious attacks on their right to freely report on matters in the Kingdom, consequently undermining the right of Swazi citizens to receive and impart information as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In a case earlier this year, several dozen media workers in Swaziland were forced out of their profession. On February 17, over 80 journalists lost their jobs as a result of the abrupt closure of the Swazi Observer Group of papers; today most of these journalists remain without work or compensation. According to our research, the media group´s management closed down operation of the paper in retaliation for the refusal by some editorial staff to reveal sources for two December 1999 articles on Swazi police activities. The closure of the Swazi Observer Group of papers, we believe, is part of a campaign aimed at rooting out critical or dissenting voices in Swaziland.

We also are concerned by the actions against journalists by traditional authorities. Traditional chiefs in Swaziland have on more than one occasion summoned and castigated journalists, or warned them against reporting on matters of legitimate public interest, particularly those pertaining to the Monarchy.

These issues are compounded by the fact that a 1973 royal decree suspended Swaziland's Constitution, leaving the country without legal protections for freedom of the press. A constitutional review process is underway, but the media have been banned from reporting on its proceedings.

NIGERIA: Hundreds die in pipeline disaster

From the Green Left Weekly

More than 300 villagers were killed on July 10 in Adeje, near Warri, in Nigeria's Niger Delta region, in a oil pipeline explosion. It was the latest in a string of disasters in the oil-rich region. In May, 27 residents of nearby Okwadjeba village died in a similar explosion. In the worst incident, more than 1000 people were incinerated in Jesse in October 1998 as they collected fuel from a punctured petrol pipeline.

Eyewitness accounts said that most of the victims of the Adeje explosion were school children collecting leaking petrol in pans and buckets.

There were fears of further disaster following reports on July 12 that youths had returned to the scene of the accident to scoop more fuel from the pipeline, used to ferry refined petroleum products from Warri to northern Nigeria. Though the fire sparked by the explosion at Adeje had been put out, another fire was reported to have ignited along a pipeline route at the neighbouring village of Ugbomro.

Like the Jesse disaster, establishment press, radio and TV reporters have branded the victims at Adeje "vandals"," scavengers" and "saboteurs". Without evidence, the press and the Nigerian government have claimed that the pipe had been deliberately punctured. The underlying implication is that the victims deserved to die.

The real "vandals" and "saboteurs" in southern Nigeria are the giant multinational oil conglomerates, their Nigerian business collaborators and the pro-Western regime that rules Nigeria. Around US$12 billion worth of oil flows out of wells in southern communities - mostly to the United States for heating oil- and fills the bank accounts of Western oil companies, the deep pockets of the corrupt Nigerian elite and the vaults of the International Monetary Fund and Western banks.

However, the people of the Niger Delta remain desperately poor and the region undeveloped. Basic services like education, health care, running water and paved roads are non-existent or neglected. It is little wonder that people take enormous risks to collect leaking petrol that they are unable to afford to buy.

Nigeria's oil has made members of the elite billionaires. Part of this massive wealth has come from deliberately running down oil facilities, skimping on maintenance and making shoddy repairs.

Delta Governor James Ibori described the explosion as an "avoidable holocaust". "There is technology today that can monitor these pipelines so that in case of any break or cut on the line, it would simultaneously indicate at the control room and then you switch off the product supply to the affected pipelines", the Pan African News Agency reported Ibori as telling officials of the Pipeline Products Marketing Company. The company's executive director of operations, Matthew Omang, confirmed the existence of such devices and said the company planned to install them "in future".

The claim that the leak that led to the latest catastrophe, and all those that have devastated the fisheries and agriculture in the Niger Delta region, are the results of sabotage by local people is an attempt to hide the real source of the devastation: negligence and deliberate neglect of oil facilities, and the failure to enforce environmental regulations and standards, so that the Nigerian elite and the Western oil companies can hoard more loot.


I-oli ibulala abantu mihla le e-Nigeria

Ngomhla we-10 kweyeThupha, kuye kwasweleka abantu abangamakhulu amathathu kwintlekele yokudubula kwemibhobho ethutha i-oli kwilali yase-Adeje, eNiger Delta, ekwiphondo elisemazantsi e-Nigeria. Le ntlekele yenye kudederhu lweentlekele esele ziqhelekile kwelo lizwe lityebe ngamathanga e-oli ephantsi komhlaba.

Kweka-Canzibe, kwasweleka abantu abangamashumi amabini anesixhenxe kwilali yase-Okwadjeba kugqabhuko dubulo olukwafanayo nolu lwase-Adeje. NgeyeDwarha ngonyaka ka1998 kuye kwasweleka iwaka lonke labantu kwilali yase-Jese.

Amaziko eendaba ase-Nigeria atyhola ulutsha nabahlali abangenangqesho ngezi zehlo. Batyholwa ngokonakalisa imibhobho ethutha i-oli ngeenjongo zokuyiba ukuze bayithengise. Ezi zityholo azinabungqina bubambekayo. Kodwa into emanyukunyezi nezingileyo kwezi zityholo kukuba abo baswelekileyo bafumane isohlwayo esi siso.

Kodwa ke awona matutu nabonakalisi eNigeria yimizi-mveliso ye-oli, namahlakani ayo akurhulumente noo-ngxowa-nkulu base-Nigeria. I-oli exabisa phantse ne-R72 billion ithuthwa mihla le kwi-Niger Delta isiwa eMelika. Le mali iya kwezinkampani ze-oli nakwipokotho zoohlohlesakhe abakurhulumente noo-somashishini base-Nigeria. Kodwa abahlali nabemi base-Niger Delta basahlupheka. Akukho zikolo zicacileyo. Iindlela zezomhlaba, yaye zimbi. Amanzi asakhiwa emilanjeni, yaye namaziko empilo awaphuhlanga. Ngamanye amagama, intywenka yemali evezwa yi-oli yase-Nigeria iya kwigcuntswana, endaweni yokuba isetyenziselwe ukuphuculwa kobomi babantu abahluphekayo base-Nigeria. Nabo ke obona bututu!

Inkulumbuso yeliphondo lichaphazelekayo, u-James Iborri uchaza ezintlekele ze-oli njengamashwa angabom. Bakhona omashini bezimini abakwazi ukuthintela ezintlekele. Kodwa iinkampani ze-oli azibasebenzisi aba-mashini kuba zingafuni kuchitha mali kwabamashini.

Ukutyhola abemi nolutsha kufana nokubeka ingca kulityalwe ngendima yezinkampani namahlakani azo ase-Nigeria ezidibene nawo ngobuqhophololo nokungaxabisi ukuphucula ubomi babantu abahluphekayo base-Nigeria.




What are we?

By Thobile Maso, SAMWU Eastern Cape

We are born complete but unfinished
We are constantly catching up with ourselves
We have arrived in an open imperfect world
We do not have a ready made world

That is what we are

We have no given relation with the world
We produce tools to modify our physical environment
To bend nature to our will
We cannot exist apart from society
We are part of the whole

That is what we are

There is no human meaning without activity
To sustain our ongoing biography of life
As co-producers of the world
Human existence is an ongoing act of balance

That is what we are

Culture is a totality of human products
You and I together we can make a difference
If you want to know
You and I together we can shape and change the world


Flying into Midrand

{For students at the University of Durban-Westville}

By Dennis Brutus

Still undulant curves shadow our horizons
delicacy of pastel shades clutch at heartstrings
but disgust sours saliva, rancids breath;
how have our hopes been betrayed
what newer outrages scar our landscapes
what student blood puddles our dust tracks;
time for fresh resolves, challenges,
time for new confrontations.

Food for thought

Dambudzo Marechera on why he was not an “African writer”

I think I am the doppelganger whom, until
I appeared, African Literature had not yet met.
And it is in this sense I would question anyone calling me
an African writer. Either you are a writer
or you are not. If you write for a specific
nation or a specific race, then *#%^ you.
In other words, the direct international
experience of every single living entity is, for
me the inspiration to write. But at the same
time, I am aware of my vulnerability
that I am only me - and of my mortality;
and that’s why it seems to me a waste
of time to waste anybody’s life
in regulations, in ordering them ...

Dambudzo Marechera was born in Zimbabwe in 1952. He died in 1987.

For every woman and man

(author unknown)

For every woman who is tired of acting weak when she knows she is strong;
There is a man who is tired of appearing strong when he feels vulnerable.

For every woman who is tired of acting dumb;
There is a man who is burdened with the responsibility of ‘knowing everything’.

For every women who is tired of being called an ‘emotional female’;
There is a man who is denied the right to weep and be gentle.

For every woman who is called unfeminine when she competes;
There is a man for whom competition is the only way to prove he is masculine.

For every woman who is tired of being a sex object;
There is a man who must worry about his potency.

For every woman who feels ‘tied down’ by her children;
There is a man who is denied the full pleasure of parenthood.

For every woman who is denied meaningful employment and equal pay;
There is a man who must bear the financial responsibility for another human being.

For every woman who was not taught the intricacies of an automobile;
There is a man who was not taught the satisfaction of cooking.

For every woman who takes a step towards her own liberation;
There is a man who finds that the way to freedom has been made a little easier.



The role of trade unions

by GWEDE MANTASHE, NUM General Secretary and SACP Politburo member

This question cannot be answered in a straight forward way. It would first be critical to understand the development of social classes in society. We should then understand the concept of exploitation. We can then analyse the contradictions between two antagonistic classes in society. Trade Unions become an intervention to deal with contradictions.

In the stage of communalism, life was communal. People shared everything. People shared resources as a community. There was no exploitation of one by the other. There was surplus generated, but it was shared and allowed for time to rest. There was, therefore, no need for unions as there was no struggle of one class against the other. There was no private ownership.

Those who had abilities to hunt and collect fruit developed the idea of slaves. The slaves had to collect wood and other necessities of a household for a meal. Classes emerged, slave owners and slaves. Critical was not to know that they are slaves. The issue was doing something about it. Slave revolts were a revolution. The collective approach, group revolts were critical for breaking the slave system. United and collectively.

This developed into the feudal system where feudal lords own land. Serfs had to work the Lord’s land and dedicate a day to their own land and pay a tenth to the feudal lord. This unfair system was challenged. The French revolution was an important revolution to break this system. A rapture accured.

Out of this system emerged owners of the means of production and production and marketing of products. This was the beginning of capitalism.

Central to the development of classes in society was the production of the means of life, food, clothing and shelter. The way in which people produce and exchange their means of life is the MODE OF PRODUCTION. This mode of production determines the character of all social activities and institutions.

As the social development of society evolved, social production was perfected. The forces of production and the relations of production. Forces of production consist of the instruments of production and people, with their production experience and skills used in operating the machines.

In the process of production people enter into social relations. In social production the means of production become the property of individuals or a group of people. Mutual relationship is regulated in the form of contracts. The relations of production obtaining in a particular society constitute the ECONOMIC STRUCTURE of that society.


Exploitation refers to the appropriation and distribution of products among members of society.

It is the form of ownership, and the nature of property relations which determines the form of appropriation. In this process, only part of the total labour is used by a working person himself/herself, to produce their own requirements. The producers produce surplus over and above their own essential requirements. The surplus is appropriated by non-producers by virtue of their ownership, of some form of property.

EXPLOITATION, therefore, means that only part of their total labour is used by them for themselves. The rest is taken and used by others.

Unions are an intervention to deal with exploitation. They are a manifestation of classes and class struggles.

In “A GREAT BEGINNING” Lenin defines classes as follows:-

“Classes are large groups of people which differ from each other by the place they occupy in a historically definite system of social production, by their relation to the means of production, by their role in the social organisation of labour and consequently by the dimensions of social wealth that they obtain and their method of acquiring their share of it. Classes are groups of people one of which may appropriate the labour of another, owing to the different places they occupy in the definite system of social economy”.

With classes arise class antagonisms. Class antagonisms translate into class struggle. The Communist manifesto captures this perfectly:- “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle”.

Trade Union are a vehicle through which workers are brought together to challenge exploitation as a united force. They are managers of class contradictions.

Trade Unions are reformist in content:

Short-term demands

Cushioning antagonist conflicts

In the process Trade Unions can protect the interest of their class enemy, capital, by default.

The role of Trade Unions can therefore, be defined in terms of fighting for a fair share in the wealth they generate. This is in the form of better wages and better condition under which they work. This brings then into direct confrontation with the capitalist class. The capitalist class seeks to maximise profits. In that way, when wealth has been generated, they want to ever increase their share. It is this contradiction that is inherent in the production relations. A union is a collective effort by workers to tilt the balance of forces to their favour in this antagonistic relationship.

The State, as the overall manager of this contradiction, determines the rules of engagement. They impose orderliness in the process. We must remember that the State is an instrument of coercion, an instrument in the hand of a class in power, an instrument to subject one class to the authority of another class. It emerges from within society and imposes itself as above society. In developing the rules of engagement and in imposing the state of orderliness it gives more power and authority to a particular class.

In a capitalist society state intervention is always in favour of capital. It will always impose penalties on the working class to force it to behave in a particular way. Trade Union tends to play a role of managing the orderliness. They ensure that the working class complies with the rules of law. In that way, trade unions manage the contradictions.

Revolutionary or reformist description of trade union in terms of how they manage these contradictions. If the focus is on compliance, the trade unions are reformists. If the emphasis is on finding ways of engaging capital and tilt the balance of forces trade unions area revolutionary.

Revolutionary trade unions will always see themselves as part of the broader working class. Their struggles in the workplace will be linked to broader working class struggles in society. The broader theme of fighting against “POVERTY IGNORANCE AND DISEASE” must always inform the strategy of trade unions. When unions confront retrenchments they must always contextualise retrenchments in terms of socio-economic implications, greater poverty, hardships brought about to individual families, less chances to access education and health for family members.

When we deal with ABET programme we must always locate this within the fight against illiteracy and thus a fight against ignorance. We must always position ABET within the broader strategy for further training and further skilling of workers. Skilling of workers should always be linked to higher earnings.

The GLOBAL nature of capitalism imposes the challenges that the working class should globalise its struggles. Capital is driven by greed. Greed translates itself into exploitation. It is following the factors of production where they are cheapest. Labour is one factor that is decisive. It is exploited everywhere. It is pitted against each other region by region, nation state by nation state. The mobility of capital distributes the sophistication in exploiting the working class. Destruction of quality jobs and replacing them with inferior jobs in the form of casual work, part-time work, flexitime, outsourcing/contracting out, captures the perfection of exploitation. The process of perfecting exploitation is experimental in various countries. Where labour is least organised the results are quicker. Where labour is organised a sophisticated product is introduced, having been tested somewhere.

All these strategies keep the working class in its back foot. International Solidarity is the answer. The essence of international solidarity is finding solutions to globalised working class problems. The working class gives itself this task because it is convinced that a solution is possible. This assumption is based on the wise words of Karl Marx:-

“Mankind sets itself only such tasks as it can solve, since the task itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation”.

Socialism is the solution to the problem of exploitation. Huge inequalities in society, capitalism producing trillionaires and abject poverty at the same time are the material conditions for socialism. As trade unions, the organised workers, are an advanced detachment of the working class? Our responsibility is one of producing cadres of the working class, not just shop stewards.

This brings us back to where we started. That society is about the contest of ideas. It is this content of ideas that constitutes ideology. It is the ideology that ends up being dominant in society that determines the direction of society. The class whose ideology dominates hegemonise society. The working class is always fighting for hegemony of society. Trade Unions do not always take working class positions. Sometimes they outrightly protect the interest of the Capitalist Class and only tinker with certain aspects and only fight for co-existence. The objective of overthrowing the bourgeoisie class is sometimes seen as being very remote. Our interventions can change this.



VODACOM’s “Social Conscience”?

Hepwell Moyikwa and Kim Jurgensen ask questions about the recent Vodacom sponsorship of Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.

Cell phone giant, Vodacom, recently announced a five-year contract, which involves a R200 million donation to the South African Football Association over a five-year period. The two major clubs in South Africa, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs will directly benefit from this deal receiving 10 percent of the whole amount on an annual basis for a period of five years. The money is intended to kickstart the development of soccer in the country among the 232 clubs playing under the auspices of the SA Football Association.

This raises a number of issues for football in South Africa.

Is this a socially responsible investment?

The reason why big businesses such as Vodacom give money to organisations is because they want to sell themselves as socially responsible. They want us to believe their business is not just about making profits, but that they dedicate money to community development projects as well. The question is, is this money best spent on soccer?

Of course, it could be argued that this money could have gone to other priorities like literacy and HIV/AIDS programmes. Plausible as this mightbe, but as a society we should not neglect other areas of development like sport, which can have a socially beneficial effect that can impact positively on education and HIV/AIDS awareness in turn.

Of course, there is an argument which says sport is an important part of working class lives and we should be committed to building talented players. Soccer is a particular favourite amongst working class people around the world. Do we really want to condemn South African soccer to second rate clubs, which cannot really compete with the South American, and European clubs, or do we owe it to the millions of soccer fans in the country to develop our teams to first class standards. Chances are many workers would argue that a cash injection into the soccer industry in South Africa is exactly what we need. It is important to bring our clubs up to world standards, and also to stop the exodus of talented players to overseas clubs which pay so much better and are therefore much more attractive as career opportunities. It is also important that we address the perception that money for sports development programmes is always pumped into so-called “white sports” such as cricket and rugby.

Will this donation build soccer in South Africa? Or are we creating mega-clubs at the expense of broad soccer development?

And remember too that one of the most serious problems of South African soccer is that a preponderance of wealth, support and popularity revolves round two clubs, namely Chiefs and Pirates. If the money was donated to struggling teams, it would be a different issue. But there is already such a gap between the clubs at the top of the league and those at the bottom. Pouring more money into the stronger clubs only seems to exacerbate the problem. The donation is also centred on two Johannesburg teams. Development administrators must start looking at other poorer areas of the country to build programmes in. To maintain the status quo wherein football is based essentially on one city, is just as bad as building 2 clubs at the expense of all the others.

Moreover, with the donation comes yet another competition, the Vodacom Challenge. In a season, which is already jam-packed, there just doesn’t seem to be any logic in introducing yet another competition. The entire scheme seems to be more about boosting the profile of Vodacom and not really at all about developing up and coming soccer players. If anything, this programme is likely to have more damage on South African football as it widens the inequalities of the league sides rather than building the weaker teams.

As socialists, we cannot ignore the importance of sport in the lives of working class people. This is one of the few affordable pleasures poor people have, and surely part of transforming our society is about making sport as professional and skilled as possible. We also believe business has a moral obligation to invest money in social programmes that will benefit communities. Sport is definitely one such area. Effective development programmes will allow previously disadvantaged people opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. So, as a principle, we support business initiatives to invest in upliftment programmes. However, we have no real reason to believe the Vodacom millions are being invested in the best area. It seems this is just a rather unsubtle advertising gimmick, which in itself will not benefit the game of football.

The 2006 Soccer World Cup Bid reflect the interests of Imperialism

The SACP is deeply disappointed at the announcement by FIFA that the 2006 World Cup bid will not be hosted by an African country. We share the anger and shock of every African. Again our continent has been ignored in favour of the rich and industrialised countries of the North.

The result of this bid once more demonstrates the continued dominance of the North over the South and the need to fundamentally transform the international political and economic set-ups in favour of developing countries and their peoples. The result demonstrates the stranglehold of imperialism over every aspect of life in the world, including sports and culture.

If the 2006 World Cup was to be hosted by an African country, it would have been a useful opportunity for accelerated infra-structural development and a contribution to the fight against joblessness and poverty.

As the SACP, we call on all Africans and people in developing countries to unite and actively fight for a better world which is in favour of the poor and working people of the South. It cannot be business as usual.

The SACP congratulates Danny Jordaan, SAFA, the entire bid committee, the South African government and the people of South Africa as a whole for their unity and support of the bid.



Where to contact the SACP

Head Office
7th floor, COSATU House
1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein, 2017
P.O. Box 1027, Johannesburg, 2000
Tel: 011 339 3621
Fax: 011 339 4244
Email: sacp1@wn.apc.org.za
Website: www.sacp.org.za
NUM Office, Smuts Park Building
Eddie Street, Witbank, 1035
Tel: 013 656 2045
Fax: 013 690 1286
Email: sacpmp@icon.co.za
Eastern Cape
1st floor, King Theatre,
Macleans; Square
King Williams; Town, 5601
Tel: 043 643 4288
Fax: 043 642 2673
Email: sacpec@icon.co.za
Northern Cape
Room 29, Potgieter Building
17 Market Street
Kimberley, 8300
Tel: 053 831 4866
Fax: 053 831 4866
Email: sacpnc@icon.co.za
Free State
Room 3, 1st floor, Moses Kotane Building
44 Fichardt Street, Bloemfontein, 9300
Tel - 082 690 8474
Email: sacpfs@icon.co.za
Northern Province
Room 22, 1st floor, Mimosa Building
58 Market Street, Pietersburg, 0699
Tel: 015 291 3672
Fax: 015 291 3609
Email: sacpnp@icon.co.za
16th floor, Kine Centre
141 Commissioner Street,
Johannesburg, 2000
Tel: 011 331 9617
Fax: 011 331 2871
Email: sacpgt@icon.co.za
North West Province
2nd floor, Jacobs Building
Corner Kerk and Boom Streets,
Klerksdorp, 2570
Tel: 018 462 1395
Fax: 018 462 6996
Email: sacpnw@icon.co.za
KwaZulu Natal
4th floor, Founders House, Parry Road,
Durban, 4000
Tel: 031 301 3806/3763
Fax: 031 301 5470
Email: sacpkzn@icon.co.za
Western Cape
2nd floor, Community House
41 Salt River Road, Salt River
Tel: 021 448 7908
Fax: 021 47 7167
Email: sacpwc@icon..co.za