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Umsebenzi – August 2000

Contents

NEWS
Lessons from Zimbabwe
SACP 79th Annivesary
Asbestos victims' right to claim compensation
LETTERS
TRIBUTES
To Max Madlingozi
To I.C. Meer
WORKERS NEWS
Employer locked up - SACTWU
The rich block government aid to flood victims,
COSATU Gender Conference
Land claimants demand talks with Pres Mbeki
W.Cape taxi violence
Water companies in England coming to SA
50th Annivesary - Suppression of Communism Act
HIV/AIDS
March for access to HIV/AIDS drugs
HIV/AIDS infection rates in SA Countries
DEBATES AND OPINIONS
Fewer, worse jobs - latest jobs data
Dangers of current path on inflation - COSATU
Don't pay twice for apartheid - letter to Pres Mbeki
Diamonds - imperialists' best friend
INTERNATIONAL NEWS
International Communist meeting
US Senators call for to sanctions
AKEL appeals for solidarity against Turkish
Elian is back home
Iraqi repression of Communists
Indian workers against liberalisation plans
Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party wins election
Last statement of Shaka Sankofa - death penalty
Italy says no to the NATO Summit
Okinawan people oppose US military bases
International solidarity with Fiji
Message to G7 Leaders meeting in Okinawa Japan
Jubilee 2000 SA outraged at G-7 debt plans
AFRICA NEWS
Press freedom in Swaziland
NIGERIA: Hundreds die in pipeline disaster
I-oli ibulala abantu mihla le e-Nigeria
POETRY
POLITICAL EDUCATION SERIES
The role of trade unions
SPORT
VODACOM's "Social Conscience"?
The 2006 Soccer World Cup Bid

Lessons from Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean elections have come and gone, but the fundamental issues facing the Zimbabwean revolution and its people remain. Key amongst these are the overcoming of the colonial legacy, addressing the national and gender questions, and economic transformation - at the centre of which is the land question. Cutting across these issues is the challenge and urgency to rebuild the liberation movement rooted amongst the mass of the people of Zimbabwe.

As our neighbour, developments in Zimbabwe have social, economic and political implications for South Africa, and indeed the Southern African region as a whole. Our own movement needs to learn appropriate lessons in a situation where 20 years ago the liberation movement enjoyed the support of more than 80% of the people, but now only enjoys the support of only slightly over half of those people.

We need a correct understanding of Zimbabwe

The developments in Zimbabwe are too important to be approached from cliches and conspiratorial theories, no matter how plausible and comforting these may be. The entire South African and imperialist media throughout the world approached the question from the standpoint of demonising Mugabe as a dictator and defining the primary challenge as that of democracy, understood as a need to have a strong opposition. Here one sees the uncritical celebration of the MDC as the saviour of Zimbabwean democracy and its people. In these sections of the media the land issue did not matter and was simply reduced to an election gimmick by ZANU-PF and the question of poverty and economic misery facing the Zimbabwean people hardly featured at all. This approach would not even be deserving mention were it not for the unfortunate reality of the extent and dominance of (neo) liberal and racist media in the analysis of the Zimbabwean situation.

The other approach and analysis of Zimbabwe is that of seeing current developments as purely an expression of counter-revolution hatched everywhere - in the Western capitals, the non-governmental media and the offices of the opposition forces in Zimbabwe. Whilst we should not discount the presence of counter-revolutionary activity, but it would be completely wrong to approach the question purely from this standpoint. It is as if we haven’t witnessed the painful collapse of Eastern Bloc countries as a result of yes, imperialist-backed counter-revolution, but also internal weaknesses and serious errors by the parties in power. Unfortunately this crude position is also finding echo within the ranks of our own movement, thus completely ignoring ZANU-PF policies that hurt the working class and the poor over the years, the bureaucratisation of the party, and consequently the growing distance between it and the mass of the people.

The current developments in Zimbabwe, particularly the election results, are an expression of three interrelated realities, viz. the colonial legacy and its contemporary political expression, the effects of the structural adjustment programme of the 1990’s, and the bureaucratisation of ZANU-PF. The intractable nature of the colonial legacy, principally expresses through a combination of the persistence of economic inequalities and the grossly unequal distribution of land. This legacy continues to express itself politically through sections of the white Zimbabwean population opposed to redistribution of land and seeking to roll back whatever modest gains made since independence. This bloc of essentially counter-revolutionary ‘Rhodesian’ elements are backed by imperialism, mainly the UK and elements connected to sections of South Africa’s white opposition. The colonial legacy is also expressed in the arrogant refusal of the UK over the years - the former colonial power - to honour one of the main agreements in the Lancaster House settlement, payment for the redistribution of land. Instead all indications showed that the British government has chosen to support any expression of opposition in Zimbabwe, including the MDC, to the point of introducing a new condition for release of funds for land distribution, that ZANU-PF must work with the MDC, whatever that means.

Economic Structural Adjustment Programmes in Zimbabwe

The second and major factor in the current Zimbabwean situation, which has been completely ignored in all major commentaries, is that of the effects of the structural adjustment programme imposed by the World Bank as from 1991, but also implemented by ZANU PF with very little resistance, until very recently. The uncritical implementation of the structural adjustment programme was as a result of the consolidation of the power of a small and aspirant indigenous capitalist and bureacratic bourgeoisie, which had become dependent on the post-colonial state, and had hoped to benefit from the privatisation of state assets under this programme. The effects of the structural adjustment programme under the hegemony of this class is perhaps the single most important explanation for the erosion of the power and influence of ZANU-PF amongst the people, and therefore requires some detailed attention.

The first ten years of Zimbabwean independence (1980-1990) had witnessed some major advances and improvement in the social conditions of the majority of the working and poor people. For instance there was massive expansion of social services, in particular in the spheres of health and education. For example, according to research done by the Southern African Regional Institute for Policy Studies (SARIPS) based in Harare, health recurrent expenditure rose from Z$8,19 in 1979/80 to Z$18,17 in 1990/91 in real per capita terms. Real per capita recurrent expenditure on primary education grew from Z$10,61 to Z$28,70 during the same period. Primary education during this period was made free and compulsory, thus becoming accessible to millions of children from poor and rural families. During this period infant mortality rate declined from 88 to 61 per 1000 births, and immunisation coverage increased from 25% to more than 85% of the children. Levels of literacy also improved dramatically during this period.

As from 1991, the Zimbabwean government adopted, at the instigation of the World Bank, a severe five-year structural adjustment programme. This programme principally entailed a severe cutback on social spending, privatisation of state enterprises, liberalisation of the economy, a radical reduction of government deficit from 10 to 5% of the Gross Domestic Product, removal of food and other subsidies in particular for the poor, reduction of the civil service by 25% through retrenchments and freezing of posts, devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar, and orienting the economy towards exports at the expense of domestic demand.

Like virtually all neo-liberal economic restructuring in the developing world, a promise was made that certain benefits will flow from such restructuring. These promises included the usual ones: an increase in foreign direct investment by at least 20% of the GDP per year, generate more foreign exchange, job creation and an economic growth of 5% per year. None of these materialised, instead the economic and social situation in Zimbabwe declined rapidly in the 1990’s, almost eroding all the gains made during the first 10 years of independence. Even worse was that this programme, like all such neo-liberal restructuring, was driven bureaucratically without the involvement of the mass of the people and their organisations, including trade unions, which are usually treated with suspicion as a nuisance that might block such “necessary” restructuring.

After 1990/91 secondary school enrolment started to decline, with a decline by 7,5% in 1992. Real heath expenditure fell to below the 1983 levels, and education spending dramatically falling to 32% below its 1990/91 peak, and malnutrition rates amongst children increased by 13% in 1992 over 1991. Inflation rose from 23% in 1991 to 46% by December 1998, with the interest rate nearly 50%. Manufacturing output fell from 129.9 in 1992 to 116.9 in 1996, and real wages fell by 10% in 1992 over 1991, with more than 17 000 workers in the manufacturing sector being retrenched between 1991 and 1996. Real wages actually fell by 33% between 1990 and 1997.

Between 1991 and 1995 the private and public sectors had retrenched 25 510 and 20 000 workers respectively. During the same period about 300 000 school-leavers joined the labour market each year. Even more serious was the rise of food prices between 1981 and 1999. The net effect was rising poverty, to the extent that according to the 1998 Zimbabwe Human Development Report, it was estimated that 61% of Zimbabwean households were poor, and of these 45% were ‘very poor’.

Of course it can be argued that the Zimbabwean budget deficit was too high at 10% and was not sustainable. But to ask of the government to cut it by half within 5 years - a religious and fundamentalist requirement by the IMF and World Bank irrespective of the nature and scale of social inequalities - was bound to lead to serious socio-economic decline. Indeed this situation was also exercebated by the drought in 1991/2, but the government was in no position to even modestly respond to this within the tight monetary and fiscal targets it had set itself.

The most cynical and scandalous dimension of this economic restructuring was that the IMF and the World Bank were in 1995 trumpeting the Zimbabwean adjustment programme as a success to be emulated by other countries. In addition, the Zimbabwean experience shows that neo-liberal economic restructuring has left the colonial economic legacy intact, in particular the grossly unequal distribution of land and other economic resources. After this structural adjustment programme, 5000 mostly white farmers in a population of about 12 million are still holding 60% of prime arable land, half of which is not being utilised!

The most important lesson to learn out of this is that much as the imposition of this programme was principally from the World Bank, but when the destructive effects began to be felt, these institutions and the imperialist media blamed the crisis on Mugabe and the government. To them the problem was no longer the colonial legacy and the structural adjustment programme, but the lack of a viable opposition in Zimbabwe. Another important lesson out of this is that neo-liberal economic restructuring does not alter the economic balance in favour of the working people and the poor, but benefits the same forces who benefitted under colonialism and a small stratum of indigenous entrants. In spite of such economic restructuring, the national grievance of the Zimbabwean people - the land - remains.

It was principally as a result of this growing impoverishment of the Zimbabwean people that began to alienate the mass of the people from ZANU-PF and government, and saw the emergence of food riots and strikes by the trade union movement in the mid-to-late 1990s. It is of course true that counter-revolution does exploit such grievances by the people, but the creation of these conditions needs to be looked at not only from externally but also from within the political behaviour and economic programme of the liberation movement itself.

Shifting class allegiances in ZANU-PF

After its landslide 1980 election victory, Mugabe’s ZANU quite rapidly began to change character. The upper echelons formed the political elite in the post-independence government. The second-layer leadership became officers and NCOs in the new army. Thousands of rank and file combatants were demobilised and returned to their remote peasant farms. From there they could hardly influence the ongoing evolution of post-independence affairs. Urban students and trade unions had been supportive but largely marginal in the struggle. In the early years after independence they were organised as tame appendages of the ruling party.

These developments were unfortunately similar to those that have characterised many former liberation movements on our continent. After ascendancy to political power, the class alliances within the liberation movement shift from the pre-independence alliance between the working class, the peasantry and progressive sections of the petty bourgeoisie to a new alliance between these (formerly) progressive elements of the petty bourgeoisie and sections of local and international capital. This is usually brought about by the marginalisation of the working class and the peasantry in the post-independence reconstruction programmes. Without participation of the masses, the petty bourgeoisie, now in control of state institutions and within the context of the domination of imperialism, seeks to advance its interests in accumulation into an alliance with sections of local and international capital. The end result of these developments has always been the continuation of the economic structure of the colonial era, albeit under new circumstances, thus sacrificing the interests of working class, the peasantry and the poor.

The growing bureaucratisation of ZANU-PF, as a result of similar processes, left it vulnerable to external pressure. In the late 1980s and through the 1990s Mugabe was unable to resist pressures from the World Bank and the IMF, and was forced to implement harsh structural adjustment programmes. Growing hardship amongst the urban masses saw the once tame ZCTU pursuing a more militant in the 1990s. The election results basically shows that ZANU-PF has lost the support of the organised working class, the urban masses, and the former ZAPU support in Matebeleland.

Zimbabwe’s Economic Structural Adjustment Programme

(implemented since 1991)

Objective Measures to achieve the objectives
To register an economic growth of 5% per year • Give tax incentives to the productive sectors of the economy
To register an increase in foreign investment in the productive sector by at least 20% of GDP per year
  • Relax other controls on the economy
  • Increase investment in productive sectors such as agriculture, mining and manufacturing, together with supporting infrastructure in transport, electricity and communication
  • Sign international agreements securing investment and guaranteering foreign investors’ rights to take their profits out of Zimbabwe
To generate more foreign exchange through increased exports
  • Devaluation of the local currency make locally produced commodities competitive on the foreign market
  • Liberalising exchange control so that exporters can keep a share of all foreign currency they earn for their use
  • Trade liberalisation which allows for the relaxation of import controls, thereby enabling exporters to modernise their productive equipment
  • The establishment of export processing zones, where goods can be brought in and out of the country without being subjected to duty and tax regulations
  • Decontrolling of wages in order to do away with minimum regulations and allow collective bargaining process between employers and workers. This is designed to make the productive costs ‘more competitive’
  • Eliminating price controls in order to encourage the producers
To reduce government budget deficit progressively from its 1990 level of 10% of GDP to 5% by 1995
  • Eliminating subsidies to state-owned enterprises in order to encourage them to become more profitable by charging economic prices, reducing costs and selling their shares to private companies
  • Cost recovery in the social sector through the re-inroduction of school fees at primary education and an increase of fees at secondary education and health institutions, except for those earning less than R66 per month
  • Reduction in defence spending, but only when there is peace and tranquility in the country
  • Reducing the size of the civil service by 25% through freezing all non-essential posts and the rationalisation of all non-essential service in order to avoid duplication of service and overstaffing
  • Remove subsidies by 1995, except for exceptional cases for the benefit of specific groups
  • Introduce more reforms in order to improve the commercialisation and privatisation process leading to profit orientation of state-owned enterprises
To generate employment opportunities in order to absorb the existing unemployed, those expected to be retrenched following economic restructuring and the school leavers who annually entered the labour market
  • Sound economic growth coupled with the ability to promote exports and lure foreign investment would generate more employment opportunities in the country Objective Measures to achieve the objectives

 Commodity by Price (%) and Year in Zimbabwe

COMMODITY 1981 1998 (APRIL) 1999 (JANUARY)
Bread 0.25 6.59 8.80
Flour (2kg) 0.66 21.45 31.30
Maize-Meal (5kg) 0.41 15.39 47.50
Milk (500 ml) 0.16 4.39 5.30
       
Both these tables were sourced from “Social Policy in an Economy under Stress - the case of Zimbabwe”, edited by Allast Mwanza.

Where to?

However, the electoral performance of the MDC does not in itself mean that it is inherently a progressive organisation better able to advance the historic goals of the national liberation movement. It would however be reckless not to realise that within the ranks of MDC are to be found progressive workers and former liberation fighters and a mass genuinely disgruntled. But at the same time the MDC is also backed by conservative forces whose mission is to roll back the national liberation movement, and might be positioning themselves to implement the World Bank programme better than ZANU-PF. This is partly illustrated by the fact that the MDC has no clear programme on the key issues facing the Zimbabwean revolution.

The challenge of the Zimbabwean people is to rebuild the liberation movement, root it amongst the mass of the people, and return to a path of pursuing the original demands of the people - land, economic transformation and the struggle for socialism. It is this programme that the SACP, and indeed our movement as a whole, should be supporting and seeking to strengthen.


The SACP celebrates 79 years

(Founded 29 to 31 July 1921)

During the weekend of 29 July 2000, the South African Communist Party celebrated 79 years of unbroken struggle for national liberation, people’s power and socialism.

This 79 years represents SACP contributions to the building the ANC, COSATU, progressive unions and social movements in the struggle against apartheid, and currently around the transformation of South African society. Through these struggles we have also rooted the ideas and vision of socialism in our country.

But this 79th anniversary is not only about our history. We celebrate our 79th anniversary against the backdrop of major advances in our society over the last six years, but also against the backdrop of a jobs crisis, persisting mass poverty, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and a society that remains amongst the most unequal in the world.)

Economic challenges

The SACP argues that much greater emphasis needs to be placed on the mobilisation and co-ordination of budgetary, parastatal and domestic private capital for a more concerted infra-structural development approach led by a strong national democratic state which intervenes in the economy.

Running through all of the SACP’s positions on the economy, is a commitment to strengthen, democratise and extend the public sector to enable the state to drive a developmental agenda at national, provincial and local levels. Therefore, the SACP sees no need for downsizing, outsourcing, privatisation and the reduction of labour standards in the public sector.

  • Restructuring of the financial sector

For some time, the SACP has been warning about the continued monopolisation and concentration of financial resources and power in South Africa. We are literally allowing banks and the financial sector in this country to get away with murder.

Many poor people are denied access to credit, through the credit bureau and policies of South African banks.

Therefore, the SACP calls for a public campaign to put pressure for fundamental transformation of South African financial institutions.

  • Local government elections

An overwhelming ANC victory in the 2000 local government elections remains the most viable option to advance, consolidate and deepen the national democratic revolution. For the SACP this also means finding ways and means to lay the basis for building people’s power and the eventual transition to socialism. We therefore call on all communities, workers and all our people to register an overwhelming victory for the ANC in the coming local government elections.


Asbestos victims win right to use British courts to claim compensation

On 20 July, the British House of Lords ruled to allow South African mineworkers and communities, suffering from asbestosis and related diseases, to claim compensation in British courts from Cape PLC.

For too long, Cape PLC mined asbestos in South Africa without any regard for the well-being of their workers, the environment and people’s health. At last, justified and legitimate struggles by workers and communities, are paying off.

In looking for profits, the company ignored the dangerous effects of asbestos once inhaled. Many workers worked under unsafe conditions in Cape PLC mines and there are still heaps of asbestosis dust in the mine settlements and surrounding areas.

Cape PLC closed its mines and relocated to Britain leaving people to die slowly. Every weekend at least one victim of asbestosis is buried in the Northern Province.

The case was supported by the South African government and the provincial governments of the Northern Cape and the Northern Province. The meeting between legal representatives of the South African asbestosis victims and major shareholders of Cape PLC to discuss an out of court settlement had been very promising Cape PLC, Northern Cape MEC Thabo Makweya said after the ruling.

“We can no longer allow transnational companies to exploit workers and destroy lives and the environment with impunity. Capitalist globalisation cannot go unchallenged without forcing transnational corporations to account for their actions and take due regard for people’s lives and the environment.”, said an SACP statement in response to the ruling. “We also congratulate the SACP in the Northern Province and the National Union of Mineworkers for their unflinching support of these workers and communities.”, concluded the SACP statement.


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LETTERS

Dear Editor

I would like to thank you for your informing website it really make us to understand more on what is happening in the world today. But I would also like you to re-open the office of the Party in Pietermaritzburg. We would like to be effective and participate in what is happening. Keep well. Aluta Continua!

Chris Mbude,
University of Natal- Pietermaritzburg


Dear editor

Communism becomes relevant day by day. When I look the suffering endured by working class and the poor I conclude that we must stop Capitalism now not in any other day. The South African Communist Party must critically look at organising the rural poor and lead all initiatives around developing a comprehensive rural development strategy. People are becoming despondent day by day.

Another area of intervention is around civil rights education. If we leave this to any jack and jill...

Viva Socialism viva Socialism !!

Alex Pongolo,
Guguletu


Dear editor

Once again, revolutionary greetings. I would like to draw the attention of cdes to one of the crucial aspect of the South African economy - that is fishing. There are emerging school of thoughts around this issue. One school of thought says that fishing as an economic activity is in a process of decline due to the fact that it has been over monopolise by big cooperate local and internationally and as a result there has been overfishing. The second one is related to the first. It says that we must find ways of maximising fishing if we want it to be relevant. This implies that we must defect from traditional ways of processing fish and think of other products out of fish. The third one says let us forget about fish as an economic activity and take up tourism as an alternative to fishing. What do you think? Where do we locate fishing sector? Do we locate it as amongst the most viable economic sectors in the SA economy?

Let us talk about this

Alex Pongolo,
Guguletu


Dear Editor

I adhere to SOCIALISM and I very much think that to some of us is no longer an ideology, but a RELIGION. I am not a member of the Party, but I belong to the Black Consciousness Movement of Azania. Moreover, I really could identify within similarities with the Party and the BCMA.

SOCIALISM CANNOT COME OVERNIGHT;
IT IS THE FUTURE,
LET US START BUILDING IT NOW!
VIVA SOCIALISM VIVA.

Vuyisile, Mafikeng,
North West Province


Dear Editor

I am an Irish Canadian and a long time supporter of the Communist Party of Canada, the Irish workers party, the Official IRA and, SINN FEIN. Even though I am only 14, I have read Das Kapital by Karl Marx and found it inspiring. Any way I am very impressed that so soon after the cruel apartheid regime such a left wing party has been so well organised. Any way I am a big supporter of Castro’s actions to defend Angola in the 1970s. I am curious if your party takes over in South Africa will it go for peaceful relations with the MPLA and CUBA.

Anonymous
from Canada


Dear Editor

My comment is this - why don’t you provide a full website on Chris Hani so we can know more about our late leader and comrade and other leaders.

Anonymous
from SACP website


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TRIBUTES

-

Tribute to Max Madlingozi

By Zwelinzima Vavi,

COSATU General Secretary. Comrade Madlingozi passed away in June.

COSATU is very sad to hear of the death of comrade Max Madlingozi. Comrade Max was a key activist and a great asset to our movement.

He was a trade unionist and had been active in the African National Congress since the 1970’s. As a former organiser of the South African Allied Workers’ Union (SAAWU), he was one of the founders of Nehawu. He was one of the earlier organisers in the union and went on to be elected Provincial Secretary in the Eastern Cape (1990-1993).

In 1994 he served in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature and was appointed Deputy Speaker from 1996-1999. At the time of his death he was the chairperson of the standing committee of Health.

He is survived by his wife, Eugenia (herself a Nehawu activist) and four children. Comrade Max will be remembered for his hard work and dedication to the struggle of the working class and for the emancipation of the poor and the oppressed. He made a great contribution to the mass democratic movement and will be sorely missed by all his comrades.

We would like to convey our deepest sympathy to the family, friends and comrades of comrade Max. We share your sorrow and wish you strength in these difficult times.


Tribute to I.C. Meer

This tribute was written by Dennis Brutus, and passed as a resolution by the SA Reparations Conference Planning Committee in May 2000

We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Comrade I.C. Meer on May 1, 2000. Comrade Meer was a stalwart in the struggle for freedom and justice in South Africa for many years.

We express our condolences and profound sympathy to his family and especially to Comrade Professor Fatima Meer, Patron of Jubilee 2000 South Africa, who only this past week delivered in Johannesburg a powerful keynote address to the Pre-Conference Workshop of the South African Reparations Conference Planning Committee. Both Comrade I.C. Meer and Comrade Fatima Meer have long records as activists, and we mourn the passing of Comrade I.C. Meer.


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WORKERS NEWS

Employer locked up - an injury to SACTWU sends employers to jail!

By Patrick Shabalala, the Deputy General Secretary of SACTWU

On 07 June 2000, a clothing employer, Anand Govender of Snap Clothing CC was arrested and taken to Westville Prison where he will served a 15 day jail-term for contempt of the Labour Court. His sentence was a result of his refusal to follow the labour laws of the new South Africa.

Govender is not unique. He is merely the first. There are a number of other employers in the clothing industry who seek to evade their obligation to pay Bargaining Council levies (as in the present case), wage rates and to extend to their workers the basic rights and protections of the Labour Relations Act of 1995, Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1997 and Employment Equity Act of 1998.

Some employers even deny that their workers are “employees” but describe them as “independent contractors”. One particular employers’ organisation, COFESA, has been involved in this; preying on the ignorance of some employers and the greed and opportunism of others.

There is also a political aspect to this strategy of evading the jurisdiction of the Labour Relations Act because, in this way, employers can try to get rid of trade unions. They are then free to run nothing more than sweatshops in which workers are vulnerable to instant dismissal, unsafe working conditions and near slave wages.

COFESA has the audacity to dress up these kinds of arrangements as “free enterprise”. SACTWU is processing applications through the CCMA which cover thousands of workers who have been dismissed by COFESA factories. We will ensure compliance with every single court order in our favour, even if it means proceeding against the factory owner in his individual capacity.

As the arrest of Govender must show, the strategy of evasion will get employers no where. The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union takes no particular joy in the arrest and committal to jail of an employer in the clothing industry today.

We are glad to have the support in our campaign from legitimate employer’s organisations. Responsible employers in the industry have agreed to minimum standards.

SACTWU again calls upon all employers to return to the Bargaining Council and to register their workers. 33 new cases against employers have been processed and the net is tightening. We also appeal to consumers only to do business with companies who observe our labour laws. We will be circulating a list of companies who have COFESA links to members of the public shortly. We appeal to all those employers who have left the Bargaining Council to rectify matters before it is too late. Eventually you will be caught.

An Injury to SACTWU May Send You To Jail.


Communists working hard in the Northern Cape

By Solly Mapaila, the SACP National Organiser

After long struggles, the Northern Cape SACP Province is going for its first Provincial Congress on 19-20 August 2000, its first provincial congress since the SACP was un-banned in 1990.

As part of preparations, the province is implementing a wide ranging programme, which includes building branches and districts and meetings with unions.

Kimberley District

Two more branches were launched since the process was started with a revival of the Harry Gwala branch. The Moses Kotane branch held its Annual General Meeting on 22 July 2000. The Kimberley District Congress will be held on 5-6 August 2000. The work in this district is led by Comrade Godfrey Oliphant, a Central Committee member and ANC MP.

Kuruman district

The district has an interim committee, which involves comrades from the mining units and branches. They have three strong and active branches. Barkley West, Sishen, Postmansburg and Danielschuil branches held their AGMs on the weekend of 22 July 2000. Following this, the district congress will be held on the first weekend of August 2000.

Upington/Namaqualand district

This remains the weakest district in the province. It has two launched branches - Namaqualand and Springbok - and one functional unit in Upington. Comrades Oliphant and Maruping Lekwene will now be deployed in this district. There is great potential to revive several collapsed branches in the area. The problems are finances, the vastness of the district and the long distance from Kimberley, which is the base of the provincial office and resources.

De Aar district

The district has three active branches - De Aar, Hanover and Victoria West - and two active units in Colesberg and Prieska. The units will use the 79th SACP anniversary weekend (29 July) to launch into branches.

The Northern Cape is ripe for strong SACP presence

Despite massive difficulties, the province is ready for the SACP and the provincial congress. After the Congress, the challenge will be to sustain SACP structures through worker recruitment, political education, campaigns and working with unions. The work done in the past few months is a solid basis for the long term strengthening of the SACP in the Northern Cape.


The rich in Kyalami block government aid to flood victims,

writes Lenin of the SACP Alexandra branch

When national government tried to help flood victims from the Alexandra township, white middle class residents in Kyalami took court action to stop this. They ignored all other considerations but not their selfish interests.

On 7 July 2000 the Pretoria High Court gave an interdict against government plans to settle 200 families that were displaced by floods in February on government land.

The 200 affected families lived in Alexandra. The floods destroyed their houses and they got temporary accommodation from the Rhema Church in Randburg. In the meantime government identified a piece of land within the Leeuwkop Prison near Sandton for temporary accommodation. According to government’s plan, the families would also continue to receive electricity, water and sanitation, until permanent houses have been built.

Sadly, after 100 of the shelters were completed and ready for occupation by the displaced families, the residents of Kyalami went to court against this. They argued that the temporary shelters would result in ‘air pollution, water pollution, adverse impact on property values, stress on normal family life and carries the risk of crime’. In other words, the Kyalami residents were saying ‘the poor have no right to a decent and tolerable life!’ To them, poor black people mean ‘these things that bring dirt and smell’. The white middle class of Kyalami spends money and time decorating their gardens whilst they pay nothing to their domestic workers, most of whom actually live in Alexandra. They do not care for human beings that will be suffering from cold this winter.

Even worse, and despite the constitution, a conservative judge in the Pretoria Court saw it fit not to dismiss the action by the Kyalami residents. This points to the need to change our court system in favour of the working class. “These capitalist courts only serve the rich. The poor get punished in these courts every day”, was how many members of the SACP Alexandria branch reacted to this news.

“Clearly, this cannot be allowed to continue. Otherwise we will have a only the rich and powerful will decide how the rest of us live. We need strong government action against this”, said Thembinkosi Lehloesa, who worked in the Command Centre which assisted the flood victims.

The SACP in Alexandra will work with community organisations to support the affected families.


COSATU Gender Conference

The COSATU 4th National Gender Conference met from 05 to 07 July 2000. Nobantu Mayekiso, the NEHAWU Gender Coordinator reports.

The conference discussed issues which we hinder the development of women, who experience oppression on the political, social and economic fronts.

On HIV/AIDS, the congress discussed the impact of HIV/AIDS on Africa as a whole, and on sustainable development.

On job losses and casualisation, the conference called for the revision of macro- economic policy. The resolution calls for the extension of social to reduce women’s unpaid labour and reduce household poverty. A rigid adherence to budget deficit targets cannot be justified in the face of extreme poverty endured by black women.

Conference also discussed strategies to organise vulnerable and casual workers, who are predominantly women.

On gender policy, the Conference discussed a Gender Policy and recommended its adoption by the COSATU National Congress in September. The policy aims to increase the participation of women in leadership and in all union activities and to develop gender awareness and promotion of gender equality amongst all union members.

On building a National Women’s Movement, the Conference highlighted the need to promote activism and unity amongst working class and poor women, and other progressive forces.

The challenge will be how COSATU, its affiliates, women and men in COSATU implement and take forward the work of the Conference.


SACP Calls For Banks To Play A Developmental Role In Society

The SACP welcomed the decision by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel to refuse the merger between the Stanbic and Nedcor banks. In the immediate period, this merger would have led to at least 10 000 job losses, as estimated by SASBO (the banking union).

For some time, the SACP has been warning about the continued monopolisation and concentration of financial resources and power in South Africa. This deepens socio-economic inequalities and undermines the fundamental transformation of our economy.

The Minister’s decision is an opportunity for Stanbic, Nedcor and all other banks to consider their priorities in line with the country’s developmental objectives (job retention, job creation and housing being the main areas). Currently, South African bank s are driven and controlled by interests and logic of private capital. Evidence presented to the parliamentary hearings on the role of banks confirms the following:

  • Many poor people are denied access to credit, and thereby an opportunity at a better life, by South African banks
  • South African banks generally provide little or no finance for low cost housing, SMMEs and job creation. Instead South African banks finance luxury consumption expenditure by the rich and not the basic needs of our people.

It was in this context that the recent SACP Strategy Conference called for a public campaign for the fundamental transformation of South African financial institutions and the long-term establishment of a new public sector driven banking system aimed at ad dressing the needs and interests of the poor. To this end, the SACP will work with unions, social movements and government.


Land claimants demand talks with President Mbeki

From SAPA

Pretoria - During May, a group of disgruntled land claimants from Northern Province, the southern Cape and Karoo demanded a meeting with President Thabo Mbeki to discuss their grievances.

“Nationally, very few communities have gained access to land through restitution,” the Northern Province Land Rights Coalition and the South Cape and Karoo Land Claims Forum said in a memorandum delivered to the president’s office in the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

“Only two land claims have been settled in the Northern Province despite thousands having been lodged.” The Department of Land Affairs’ statistics hid the fact that most of the claims settled were for urban areas and were done by cash compensation, the organisations said. “There is still confusion regarding redistribution projects and no direction on tenure reform in communal areas. Even long-term farm dwellers continue to face evictions and insecurity as a low class of tenants on another person’s land.”

For the rural poor, land rights were the key to secure homes, jobs, food and a meaningful social and cultural life, the memorandum said. “There can be no full enjoyment of human rights without land rights.”

The organisations said they had raised their concerns with the Department of Land Affairs and the Commission for the Restitution of Land Rights, with no positive results.

These included a transformation of the current inequitable pattern of land ownership, and giving the rural poor secure homes, opportunities for production and lives of dignity. “There must be speedy delivery in land restitution that restores land to the rightful owners.”

The Land Claims Commission must improve communication by responding to claimants’ requests for information and keeping them informed abut the status of their claims.

“The government must provide an adequate budget to ensure restoration of land and use this budget to benefit land claimants, not to enrich the current owners.”

The government must meet its constitutional obligations to give people in communal areas and on farms a right to secure tenure or land ownership on the land they occupied, the memorandum said. “State land must be released immediately for the use of the rural poor. The Department of Agriculture should stop leasing land to better-off white farmers.”

The organisations also demanded that landowners be forced to allow burials of long-term residents on farms.


To keep jobs workers ‘must improve skills’

From SAPA

Durban — South Africa cannot stand apart from the international trend of globalisation, despite the fact that this process is leading to increased job losses in the country.

Labour Department director-general Rams Ramashia said South African workers should instead look at how they could improve their skills to remain employable.

He was addressing about 300 delegates at the 13th Annual Labour Law Conference at the International Convention Centre here held from 19 to 21 July 2000.

The two-day conference looked at several issues pertaining to the labour field in South Africa, including labour laws and Aids in the workplace.

Ramashia told the delegates workers worldwide were becoming more diversified and this was bad news for low-skilled workers in developing countries.

He added that, while the government had an urgent challenge to create employment, workers had to ensure they stayed employed.


Western Cape taxi violence - a threat to public transport

By Gwebs Qonde, SACP Western Cape Provincial Secretary

Stop the ongoing attacks on bus commuters and Golden Arrow bus drivers! Enough is enough! No more deaths! This is how most commuters feel in Khayelitsha.

The decision of Golden Arrows workers to stop driving into Khayelitsha until they are assured of safety and protection was correct. Every worker must have the right to work in a safe environment. And in the case of public transport, it is the responsibility of the various tiers of government, together with the employers, to ensure that a safe environment exists. The application of regulations and law enforcement are the vehicles for ensuring such safety.

Safe transport is also the right of every passenger. They too have become the victims of a situation caused by poor transport planning and regulation. SATAWU called on the national government and on the Western Cape provincial government to take urgent steps to stop the attacks on Golden Arrow bus drivers. “We are not interested in hearing any more lame-duck blaming between tiers of government.” the SATAWU press statement said. “The provincial MEC for transport in particular must either take a lead or be fired and replaced by someone who is prepared to take control of the situation.” continued the SATAWU press statement.

Several stakeholders called on the Ministers of Transport, Safety and Security and the Police Commissioner to do the following: -

  • To close the ranks of the taxi operators in the affected areas until normality is achieved.
  • To withdraw permits of those found to be associated with violence and those who are operating illegally.
  • To ensure that law enforcement is effectively stepped up until the situation returns to normal, including the deployment of sufficient military and police forces.
  • To step up investigations into the three murders and other related crimes with a view to arresting and convicting those responsible.
  • To urgently facilitate further negotiations with a view to provide meaningful long- term solutions.

But not enough action has been taken on the above. It is for these reasons that the COSATU Western Cape suggestion of a 24-hour strike in support of the Golden Arrow workers and victimised commuters is correct. COSATU has welcomed the proposal to appoint an independent mediator to settle the dispute involving taxi operators and the Golden Arrow bus company in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. COSATU’s Western Cape Regional Secretary, Evan Abrahamse, says the federation will back any move to start negotiations, which should be as inclusive as possible, and will support any measures resulting from these talks which lead to a lasting peace.

Also media reporting of this situation has made as if there is a conflict between two parties. Bus workers have never attacked taxi owners or drivers.


Westelike Kaap violence

How op met die aangaan van aanvalle op voetvangers en Golden Arrow bus bestuurder genoeg is genoeg! Nie meer dode! Dit is hoe die meeste van die voetvangers voel in Khayelitsha.

Die keuse van Golden Arrows se werekers is om nie meer in Khayelitsha te ry nie tot hulle die veiligheid en beskerming verseker is, is wat alles oor gaan.

Veilige vervoer is ook die reg van elke passasier. Hulle het ook die dagoffers bekom van ‘n situasie veroorsaak deur slegte vervoer beplanning en regulasies. SATAWU beroep die nasionale regering end die Wes Kaap se Provinsiale regering om drungende stappe te neem om die geveld die Golden Arrow bus bestuurders tot stil stand te bring. “Ons is nie meer geintereseerd om te luister na die verskommings en blamerlings van die regering. SATAWU se die provinsiale MEC vir vervoer moet of ‘n groot stap vorentoe neem of moet bedank en vervang word deur iemand wie bereik is om beheer oor die omstandig hede te neem.

Die media berigte wat voorgee dat daar konflik is tussen bus bestuurders en taxi eianaars is okkk misleidend. Bus bestuurders het nooit taxi eienaars of bestuurders aangeval nie.


The leakiest water companies in England coming to South Africa

By David Hall, the Director of the Research Unit of the Public Services International (an international federation of public service trade unions, to which SAMWU, NEHAWU, POPCRU and SADTU are affiliated). The research unit is based at the University of Greenwich in London.

Only two water companies in England missed their leakage targets in 1998-99: Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water; and South East Water. Why is this of any interest to South Africans? Because the two water privatisation deals pushed through so far in South Africa involve Biwater - at Nelspruit - and SAUR - at Dolphin Coast. And Biwater’s water subsidiary in the UK is Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water, while SAUR owns South East Water.

The following is extracted from the latest annual report of the UK water regulator OFWAT drafted by the Director General of Water Services, Ian Byatt.

In 1997 the Director General announced his intention to set annual leakage targets for all companies, with the first set of targets set that year for 1998-99. All but two companies, Bournemouth & West Hampshire Water and South East Water, met or beat these targets and the industry has reduced leakage by 11% since 1997.

Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water missed its target. Its failure to meet the target was mainly due to problems with its input meters, which meant that it had been under-recording the quantity of water put into supply.

As a result the company is now required to report on a quarterly basis to ensure that its 1999-2000 target is met.

The situation in South East Water has arisen after OFWAT identified significant errors in the company’s data. As a result, it appears that it has also failed to meet its leakage target, but the company has so far been unable to provide OFWAT with a sufficiently robust water balance for either 1997-98 or 1998-99. OFWAT has launched an investigation into the company’s failure to adequately monitor its supply and demand for water. The company will also be required to report on a quarterly basis.


SA Parliament marks the 50th anniversary of the Suppression Of Communism Act

On 20 June, the South African parliament passed an important motion marking the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Suppression of Communism Act by the apartheid parliament. This Act was not only used to persecute communists, it was also used against all those who fought apartheid. This led to many communists and non-communists alike facing increased repression and risks to their lives and well being.

Amongst these was Comrade Braam Fischer, an Afrikaner who was especially hated by apartheid for being a communist and a fighter for justice. Up to this day, apartheid has ensured that we still have not found his ashes for burying with his family.

Forty years after banning us, the apartheid regime was forced to concede that it could never uproot communist organisation and ideas from the soil of South Africa. The motion passed by the South African parliament today emphasises that - never again should South Africa tolerate the persecution of individuals for their ideological beliefs.

Ironically, exactly 50 years since we were banned, the SACP is growing stronger and part of the democratic government, whilst the National Party (which led the apartheid government which banned us) is the one that is actually dying.

As the SACP, we are proud of our record and contribution in the struggle against apartheid and current struggles for the transformation of society. The red flag continues to fly even higher and socialism remains a popular and just cause.


Suppressie van Kommunisme

Op 20 Junie het die Suid Afrikaanse Parlement ‘n belangrike mosie om die 50ste herdenking van die apartheidse regering geslaag. Die wet was destyds nie net gebruik om kommuniste uit te rooi en maar was ook gebruik as wapen teen aldiegehene wie teen apartheid geveg het. Die gevolge daarvan teen baie kommuniste sowel as nie - kommuniste as ook ‘n geveelde risiko teen oor die levens en geestelikke gesondheid van die regter vir vryheid en reg.

Onder hierdie diegene was Comrade Braam Fischer, ‘n Afrikaner wie veral deur die apartheidse regering gehaat was weens sy kommunistiese beginsells en sy standpunt teenoor apartheid (deur dat hy ‘n verweglo vir vryheid en reg was). Tot vandag het die apartheidse regering verseker dat ons nog nie sy as vir begrawing met sy familie, gevind het nie.

Veertig jaar het nodat die apartheidse regering ons verban het was die regime verplig om te erken dat dit nooit kommunistiese organisasie en ideologie kan uitrooi van die baard van Suid Afrika. Die mosie wat aanvaar en geslaag was deur die Suid Afrikaanse parlement vandag beindruk en beklemtoon dat nooit en nooit ooit moet Suid Afrika die “persecution” van individue vir hulle eie ideologiese sienings sienings toelaat nie.

Die ironie van die saakk is dat, presies 50 jaer nadat ons verban was is die SACP besig om sterker te groei as deel van ‘n demokratiese regering, tewlyd die Nasionale Party (wat verantwoordelik was vir die apartheidse regering se verbanning va ons) eintlik die party is wat beorg is om te sterf.

As die SACP, is ons trots van onse rekord en deelneeming in die stryd teen apartheid en die hidige stryd vir die transformasie van onse gemeenskap. Die rooi vlag vlie nog hoer en sal voortgaan om sosialism ‘n gewilde en regte heuse te maak.


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COMING EVENTS

National Women’s Day Celebrations - 09 August
SACP Northern Cape Congress - 19 and 20 August
NUMSA Congress - 20 to 24 August
COSATU Congress - 18 to 21 September
SACP National Political School - 17 to 20 August
SAMWU Congress - 23 to 25 August
SANGOCO NGO week - 21 to 29 September

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Books launched at the Workers Library and Museum

During July 2000, the Workers Bookshop (a project by the Workers’ Library and Museum) launched eight new books which were discussed by, amongst others, Meshack Khosa, Patrick Bond and Dennis Brutus.

The books launched were: -

  • An RDP Policy Audit, edited by Meshack Khosa and Patrick Bond (1999)
  • Spaces of Hope, by David Harvey (2000)
  • Infrastructure Mandate for Change, edited by Meshack Khosa (1999)
  • Elite Transition: from apartheid to neo-liberalism in South Africa, by Patrick Bond (2000)
  • Socialist Register 2000: necessary and unnecessary utopias, edited by Leo Panitch and Colin Leys (2000)
  • Empowerment through Service Delivery, edited by Meshack Khosa (2000)
  • African Sociology: towards a critical perspective, by Bernard Makhosezwe Magubane (2000)
  • Cities of Gold, Townships of Coal: essays on South Africa’s new urban crisis, by Patrick Bond (2000)

The Workers’ Bookshop is situated at the corner of Jeppe and Bezuidenhout streets, Newtown, Johannesburg. Contact the Bookshop at 011-838-5672 or Error! Bookmark not defined.

The book launch was sponsored by Phambili Agencies, Merlin Press, the Human Sciences Research Council, Socialist Register and the Wits University Municipal Services Project.

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HIV/AIDS

 Thousands march for access to HIV/AIDS drugs

By Promise Mthembu, KwaZulu Natal Coordinator of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)

In May 1998 Gugu Dlamini was stoned to death in Durban for revealing that she was HIV positive. On 09 July 5000 people, many wearing “HIV Positive” T-shirts gathered at the Durban city hall to demand equitable access to HIV/AIDS treatment. The march castigated the drug companies for making huge profits from the AIDS crisis.

The march was organised by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) - a rapidly growing organisation which strong support in the trade union movement. It was lead by, amongst others, Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane and ANC Women´s League President Winnie Mandela. The streets of Durban were full of singing, dancing, laughter, warm solidarity and hope. Gugu Dlamini had been vindicated and the demand for access to HIV/AIDS treatment had been turned into the single biggest issue confronting the 13th International AIDS Conference.

The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Peter Pilot concluded that: “This conference has made it irreversible - prevention and care are combined.”

But only 20 000 of the millions of Africans living with AIDS are receiving treatment. The rest will probably be dead within two to three years.

But South Africans are still drinking bleach in a desperate attempt to self medicate and wandering from hospital to hospital in a fruitless search from help from the state. Nevirapine, which costs R24 a dose, could prevent 5000 babies a month from being infected with HIV but there is no treatment for the 1 in 4 15-24 year old South African women who are HIV positive.

 In response to the pressure a group of 5 drug companies offered to cut prices by 85% but the MSF likened the gesture to “an elephant giving birth to a mouse.” MSF believes that the answer does not lie with donations or price cuts from drug companies but rather with the Brazilian approach of quality generics. Countries which can't afford high prices can either manufacture their own generics or import them from producing countries. This could result in the cost of a year's anti-retroviral treatment being cut from the $2 250 which it would cost with the 85% discount to a mere $200 a year. This is not a pipe dream. The polio vaccine is sold for several dollars in the US and just a few cents in the developing world.

If the Minister of Health does not provide Nevirapine to pregnant women the TAC will consider a using the law demanding the constitutional right to treatment. TAC has also served notice that it will take legal action against Pfizer to seek a compulsory license to allow South African companies to produce cheaper copies of fluconazole.


'AIDS drugs for pregnant women´,

Nelson Mandela

By Smiso Nkwanyana, SACP KwaZulu Natal Provincial Secretary. Comrade Smiso Nkwanyana represented the SACP in the International Conference on Access to HIV/AIDS Drugs in the Developing World, which was held in the Durban City Hall.

Former President Nelson Mandela called for a stepped-up government fight against mother-to-child transmission of the AIDS virus.

"We need bold initiatives to prevent new infections among young people, and large-scale actions to prevent mother-to-child transmission", Mandela told thousands of cheering delegates at the closing of the 13th International AIDS Conference, which was held in Durban.

South Africa does not yet provide medication to reduce the chance of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.

Comrade Mandela called for unity in action against HIV/AIDS. He said everyone should concentrate on fighting the disease that already infects 24 million Africans and is predicted to claim the lives of millions more in the coming years.

"In the face of the grave threat posed by HIV/AIDS, we have to rise above our differences and combine our efforts to save our people. History will judge us harshly if we fail to do so now, and right now," he said.

The delegates gave Mandela's speech a standing ovation. Conference chairman Hoosen Coovadia called it "music to our ears".

Comrade Mandela called on the South African government to treat the opportunistic infections that prey on AIDS sufferers, care for affected children and work to dispel the paralyzing stigma that surrounds AIDS.

"Stigma and discrimination can be stopped, new infections can be prevented and the capacity of families and communities to care for people living with HIV and AIDS can be enhanced. The challenge is to move from rhetoric to action, and action on an unprecedented scale.", concluded Comrade Mandela.

Adult HIV/AIDS infection rates in Southern African countries

Botswana - 35.80%
Swaziland - 25.25%
Zimbabwe - 25.06%
Lesotho - 23.57%
Zambia - 19.95%
South Africa - 19.94%
Namibia - 19.54%
Malawi - 15.96%

From the UNAIDS report released in June 2000


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