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November - December 1999

 

Contents
THE BOLESHEVIK REVOLUTION & RED OCTOBER 
STOP iGOLI2002! 
Local Government Development and People's Power 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR 
How They "Got Rid of "The Working Class

CUBA - US RELATIONS 
A Lesson in Real Democracy! 
LABOUR BRIEFS 
THE STRUGGLE FOR CONTROL OF KWAZULU NATAL 
INTERNATIONAL NEWS
POETRY 
READER'S FORUM 
READER'S FORUM 
Grappling with Unemployment 
READER'S FORUM 
THE TRIPARTITE ALLIANCE SHOULD BE ALIVE AND KICKING
RED OCTOBER AROUND SOUTH AFRICA 
 

THE BOLESHEVIK REVOLUTION & RED OCTOBER 
Taking the Lessons Forward 

Following, are excerpts from the address given by SACP General Secretary Blade Nzimande to the 82nd Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution Rally in Cape Town (7th November).

We are gathered on a very important day in the history of working class struggles in the 20th Century. We are celebrating the 82nd anniversary of the Great October socialist revolution - the first truly workers' and people's uprising against exploitation, oppression and capitalism. Despite what our detractors say, this event still represents the aspirations of millions of people world wide who would like to see the establishment of a humane, just, equitable society free from exploitation, hunger, illiteracy and oppression. As the South African Communist Party we say that despite the setbacks in the former socialist countries, the Bolshevik revolution and its subsequent evolution and history stands as one of the most monumental achievements of humanity in trying to defeat capitalist barbarism.

Our Red October Campaign
We are also marking the celebration of the climax of our Red October campaign which we launched in order to increase the membership of the SACP, in particular to recruit amongst organised workers and start a process of establishing industrial/workplace structures of the SACP. In addition our campaign was aimed at strengthening the structures of the SACP at all levels throughout the whole country. During this campaign our message has reached thousands of workers and rural people throughout the country.

By any criteria, our Red October campaign has been successful in taking the message of the SACP to thousands of workers: of building people's power to deepen our democracy; of building worker power for democracy and socialism; of tackling the scourge of HIV/AIDS; of defending and extending the public sector; and of fighting women's oppression in the workplace and the home.

Capitalist ideologues and enemies of the working people tell us that the Bolshevik revolution of November 7 1917 was a human disaster and went against the grain of what they say are inherent selfish tendencies of humanity. Yet the very crisis of capitalism and the poverty it has brought about globally remains evidence to the fact that capitalism can be no solution to problems facing humanity. The Bolshevik revolution and the socialist experiments of this century has also taught us a number of lessons which still remain relevant. Some of these lessons have become even more relevant in our current situation.

The first and most important lesson is that a people united, led by the most progressive sectors of society - the working class - are capable of changing their own conditions for the better by challenging an oppressive and exploitative system like capitalism. It is a lesson in that capitalism is not as invincible as its ideologues always want to tell us. It is for this reason that we are undertaking a systematic party building campaign to firmly root the SACP amongst organised workers and the poor.

The second, and perhaps, most important lesson is that it is possible for humanity to provide free education for all, free health care for all, comprehensive social welfare, full employment and cheap and accessible public transport. These were achieved by many socialist countries, which goes to show that it is a system based on greed and private profit that is unable to meet these basic needs of the people, and not the fault of human nature as we are told.

Thirdly, the 20th Century socialist experiment also taught us an important lesson - that the state is the only institution that is capable of leading an all-round development offensive aimed at meeting the needs of ordinary people. In particular it is a state that is underpinned by working class and people's power that can best address the conditions of the working people and the poor. The private sector, by whatever criteria, can never meet the needs of the people, since it is a system based on making profits for the few at the expense of the majority. It is for this reason that we are convinced as the SACP that selling off state assets to the private sector as a means to meet people's needs is doomed to fail.

Large-scale privatisation that has been foisted by the IMF and World Bank on developing countries over the past 15-20 years have failed dismally. Yet we are told the reason why such measures have been a failure is because we do not have enough  privatisation and liberalisation. In other words it is a situation of blaming the victim.

The lessons of the Bolshevik revolution and South Africa's transition to democracy.

One important significance of the Bolshevik revolution and what it sought to achieve, is underlined by the very struggles that we are engaged in South Africa today. Whilst we have made significant advances in addressing the basic needs of ordinary people - provision of clean drinking water, electricity, classrooms, clinics and telephone connections, progressive labour laws - these advances are daily threatened by the capitalist character of South African society. As we extend progressive labour laws to workers, hundreds of thousands of workers are losing their jobs, thus not benefiting from these progressive laws. These job losses are essentially throwing workers and their families into poverty.

What this means essentially is that the biggest threat to South Africa's democracy is capitalism itself. What the government gives with one hand, the capitalists take with both hands! As we seek to strengthen the capacity of the state to deliver better services, the private sector is encroaching and seeking the privatisation of the very key state assets responsible for delivery of some of these basic services. As we seek to build houses for the poor, the capitalist banks have washed their hands of providing finances for low cost housing. It was precisely these kinds of conditions that the Bolshevik revolution fought against and overthrew, underlining the fact that there can be no democracy in a capitalist society. This is an issue that we have not looked at squarely in this country, and it is the responsibility of the working class and the poor to expose the lie that capitalism provides the best environment for democracy.

For us as the SACP, democracy is not only limited to the vote, important as this is and has been in our democracy. Democracy at its core is about the democratic redistribution of economic resources in order to fight poverty, hunger and illiteracy.
Capitalism is simply undemocratic. The wealth is produced collectively by millions of people but appropriated privately by a few individuals. A continuation and strengthening of capitalism in our country will simply undermine the sustainability of whatever progress is made to meet the needs of our people. This is a fact that we should not be uncomfortable to point out, because it is the truth. Capitalism widens the very poverty whose increase will always remain a threat to our democracy. It is for this reason that what the Bolshevik revolution intended to achieve was both political and economic democracy. One without the other is meaningless!

The working class and the fruits of South Africa's democracy
It is precisely due to the capitalist character of South African society that the fruits of workers own struggles are being claimed and appropriated by a small elite. For example, there is a disturbing tendency today which tends to regard organised workers as an obstacle to the economic development of South African society. Instead workers are being castigated as an elite that is only narrowly concerned with their interests. Yet such accusations are never made against the real elite which is concerned with their selfish interests - the capitalist class. It is rather unfortunate that these voices are sometimes heard even within some of the ranks of the democratic movement. There are those today who are saying it is not necessary to negotiate with, and take workers along, in the transformation of our municipalities. It is as if workers are a nuisance to an otherwise sensible transformatory approach. The dangers of such an approach is that it plays right into the agenda of white bosses, who in any case are going to be the primary beneficiaries of any private sector driven transformation process. The intensifying ideological attack on workers is premised on this approach and its associated assumptions.

The SACP would like to make it clear that there can be no democracy and genuine transformation in this country without the central involvement of the working class. There can be no transformation that excludes and marginalises the working class. There can be democracy that tries to seize the victory of the working class and the poor - a democratic South Africa - to benefit only a few. It is precisely because of these lurking dangers that the Bolshevik revolution still holds important lessons for us - to build the political and economic power of the working class and the poor. It is also in this context that we had launched our Red October campaign.

Build People's Power, Build Socialism Now
It is for all these reasons, and in the true spirit of the Bolshevik revolution that the SACP calls upon the working class to play a leading role in building organs of people's power where we work, where we live and where we study. The only sure way to build the political power of the working class and the people as a whole is to go out and build strong developmental committees, crime policing forums with a particular focus on fighting rape and violence against women. It is for this reason that the SACP is calling upon all communities and workers to mobilise and build structures specifically targeted at fighting rape and crime against women, including exposing the perpetrators of such crimes. It is also important that we all build and participate in the running of our democratic school-governing bodies. These steps and structures are the true foundations of people's power, which the Bolshevik's soviets provide a shining example.

As part of our Red October campaign we also called upon our people to put more effort in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This pandemic perhaps threatens all else that we need to achieve. We call on all party structures to prepare to participate actively in taking this campaign forward on December 1 - which is World's Aids Day. Let every communist distribute a condom or two that day and ensure that wherever you are, you participate daily, and not just on such day, in HIV/AIDS campaigns.

But in order for these campaigns to be effective we need to simultaneous continue to wage the struggle against United States and other pharmaceuticals for cheaper drugs generally. In the spirit of the Bolshevik revolution and our Red October Campaign let us expose that the real cause of poverty in the world still remains US-led imperialism. It is this imperialism that the Bolsheviks fought against, and it is this imperialism that we must continue to challenge in order to bring about a just, equitable world order. Let us also recommit ourselves to strengthen international working class solidarity as the true foundation upon which all national struggles will be able to overcome oppression, exploitation, poverty and disease.

Long live the spirit of the Bolshevik revolution long live! Socialism is the future, build it now!
 

STOP iGOLI2002! 
LOCAL GOVERNMENT DEVELOPMENT AND PEOPLE'S POWER

The battle around iGOLI2002, the plan by the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council (GJMC) to privatise and corporatise public assets and institutions, is heating up. There has been fierce debate in the public press, a mass march by municipal workers on the GJMC and the declaration of a labour dispute. Below, we offer excerpts from the SACP Johannesburg Central branch newsletter "Umbiko WamaKominisi" on iGOLI2002 and its potential implications for local government development and the delivery of basic, affordable services.

On 25th February 1999, the GJTMC publicly announced the iGOLI2002 plan as a plan that would "make the city work" by dealing with the financial crisis facing Johannesburg. According to the press release issued, the plan is designed to "address the three main challenges facing the city - transforming structures, dealing with the financial crisis and ensuring service delivery". Indeed, iGOLI2002 will change the work, function, powers, priorities and role of the city council.
 

The basics of the plan
The plan sets out a "new institutional structure" that will "guide the entire transformation process in Greater Johannesburg". The proposed new structure is made up of 5 sections:

1. Creation of utilities to run and administer water and sanitation, electricity and waste management.
2. Creation of agencies for roads, storm-water, parks and cemeteries.
3. Privatisation and sale of council assets - including Metro Gas, Rand Airport, portions of council-owned land, the Fresh Produce Market and the sports stadiums. These assets will be sold by the city council to the private sector.
4. Corporatisation of council functions so that they work on a commercial basis - includes the Zoo, Civic Theatre, Bus Company, Housing Company, Property and Projects Company and the Newtown Development Agency. This means that these functions would prioritise commercial profits first before provision and extension of services to all communities.
5. Changing the way GJTMC is administered - The basic functions for the proposed GJTMC administrative structure are to regulate, form policy and manage the "contractual arrangements" of the city council with the new utilities, agencies and privatised assets. The city council will now become a "client" receiving services from "contractors" who control the new utilities, agencies, commercialised and privatised assets.

An undemocratic and top-down approach
iGOLI2002 is the product of an internal city council process led by private consultants hired at great cost.  The South African Municipal Workers' Union (SAMWU) opposes iGOLI2002. SAMWU and the SACP in Johannesburg Central have asked the city council to stop iGOLI2002 until all City Council workers, their unions and community organisations have been fully involved. Even democratically elected councilors were not involved. The City Council however, continues to implement iGOLI2002.

Instead the council has publicly attacked SAMWU's criticism of iGOLI2002 with statements such as "We cannot delay the implementation of the plan on the basis of some political dogma which has nothing to do with the financial and institutional problems facing the council" (reported in the South African Press Association on 09 April 1999).

iGOLI2002 goes against several agreements between the council and employees.  In June 1997, the Local Government Bargaining Council agreed that local government services must be provided by the public sector.  The Municipal Services Framework Agreement (signed in December 1998 by the unions and the South African Local Government Association) says that the provision of local government services by the private sector must only be a last option, and only after unions, communities and all other stakeholders have been properly involved.

These agreements are clearly against the privatisation of local government services and promote the consultation of workers and residents by the city council. The city council has openly violated these agreements.
 

iGOLI2002 will not meet the needs of the people
Creating the kinds of utilities and agencies envisaged in iGOLI2002 will not lead to better and more services for poor people living in townships and informal settlements.

The creation of utilities for the delivery of basic services will be based on the separation of commercial and non-commercial functions. iGOLI2002 states that the creation of utilities rests on the need for "commercial imperatives", whereby departments can be run as "businesses", with "private sector skills" and a "performance-based work culture" being implemented. By turning the new utilities into business entities, they will, according to the plan, be able to "have their own corporate balance sheets ...raise capital funding" and "ensure corporate independence", thus making the delivery of basic services financially dependent on private financial institutions.

Compared to the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) and broad ANC/ Alliance objectives, iGOLI2002 separates policy from delivery and regulatory functions. According to iGOLI2002, the delivery of basic services by such utilities will depend on monetary incentives -i.e. collection of rates etc. iGOLI 2002 relies on "additional and enhanced" revenue collection as the basis for implementing cross-subsidisation and
expansion of delivery. In other words, services will not be delivered and improved to poor communities until the utilities make enough profits.

The establishment of agencies is 'internal outsourcing'. iGOLI2002 sees the agencies as "mock internal companies" acting as "contractors", with a Director controlling "the assets and operations of the business". Services will be delivered to the "client" (i.e. the Council), that will own the assets. This is a separation of public ownership from the day-to-day management and running of an agency which must deliver basic services.

Privatisation of public assets will remove power from the people
iGOLI2002 assumes that the public assets marked for wholesale privatisation are "non-core", without any real reasons given as to why this is the case. For example, the Fresh Produce Market is described as "not central to council's business and poorly managed", and therefore needs to be privatised.

Why privatise an asset that brings in much-needed capital to the Council?  Why not keep the asset as a public enterprise and restructure it to increase efficiency, delivery and public control?  Would the private sector be interested in such assets in they did not think they were money makers?

Commercialising city council functions will not solve all the problems
The plan to corporatise several public entities such as the Bus Company and Housing Company is based on an approach that assumes a "commercial focus" is in the best interests of both the public sector and the people in need of such services. What effect will commercialisation have on prices and the availability of services? The iGOLI2002 plan does not address this question.

iGOLI2002 goes against a developmental agenda
It is clear from the discussion above that iGOLI2002 undermines the needs of poor people. The RDP, 1997 ANC Conference resolutions, COSATU and SACP policy promote democratic local government  that meets the needs of poor people. iGOLI2002 seeks to create a local government that merely oversees the commercialisation of basic service delivery. It is much more of a financial plan than a developmental one. iGOLI2002 does not address racial, class and gender inequalities affecting local government services.

The financial and institutional crisis being experienced by the GJMC is taking place throughout the country. This is mainly caused by the big cuts in inter-govermmental grants (from national government to lower levels) since the introduction of GEAR in 1996. As has been the case in Greater Johannesburg, the crises are blamed on everything from the legacy of apartheid to the poor and working class not paying rates. The logic behind the GEAR macro-economic strategy is to reduce the budget deficit at all costs and seeking help in the private sector. This logic is being forced on local government service delivery. iGOLI 2002 is part of that logic.

Building People's Power - What is to be Done?
The ideological framework of iGOLI2002 must be constantly contested. The neo-liberal notion that private sector management and operation is more cost-effective, organisationally efficient and better able to 'produce the goods', than a progressive restructuring and expansion of the public sector must be challenged. This must be done both within the Alliance and in public. We cannot allow our political vision to be sidelined as "dogma" or as a "pipe-dream". The ideas that inform iGOLI2002 are no more 'realistic' and 'pragmatic' than are the ideas that informed the forcible construction
of economic apartheid.

Communists, workers, community organisations, trade unions and poor people understand a local government which meets all the needs of the people cannot just be put in place immediately. However, we are enjoined by the RDP, the Constitution and, most importantly, by workers and the poor to struggle for the right to basic needs and services.

 The SACP Johannesburg Central Branch calls on the GJMC to fund a progressive and participative consultative forum to replace iGOLI2002. This is not a call to 'start all over again', but rather for progressive intellectuals and 'consultants' within, and linked to, the Alliance, to take their rightful place in driving transformation. There are numerous practical examples in other progressive municipalities (e.g. Porto Alegre in Brazil and local governance in Cuba) that can be shared and potentially reproduced through the existence of this new forum.

The SACP in Johannesburg and in Gauteng needs to bring together all SACP structures in the province and the district to provide the political perspectives on iGOLI2002 and map out the way forward on the plan and local government transformation. This will help SACP activists to develop the political capacity to take forward struggles in their various municipalities. The SACP in Johannesburg and Gauteng must also inform and share our perspectives other SACP structures in other provinces and at national level. iGOLI2002 is not merely a 'Johannesburg issue', but represents what will be felt across the country at local level. SACP activists and branches must actively support the SAMWU campaign and engage in pro-active mass action to stop, and roll-back, iGOLI2002.

iGOLI2002 is a huge challenge for progressive forces iGOLI2002 represents a fundamental political and organisational challenge to the SACP, COSATU, SAMWU, the ANC and SANCO. As the leading political force of the working class and the poor, it is important that the SACP leads the fight for a strategic vision and practical policies that speak directly to the interests of these classes. These policies are contained in our Party Programme (and are reinforced by the Freedom Charter and the RDP). If we hesitate and fail to lead, then we are surely no better than all of those we so regularly condemn.

BUILD PEOPLE'S POWER - BUILD SOCIALISM NOW!
 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR


Comrade Editor,

I am a regular reader of Umsebenzi and a non-party member. I do however employ Marxist- Leninist analytical tools when I analyse issues and I share the vision of the SACP for the future of our country.

What compelled me to write this letter is the misery of capitalism. In our province, the Northern Cape, there is a small semi-desert and poverty stricken town called Prieska. A British multinational firm, Cape Plc, used to mine asbestos in the area for decades until 1979 when it closed down as the truth was beginning to emerge about the danger of asbestos to the environment and to human health.

For well over 3 000 ex-workers, past and present residents of the town, the closure of the mine was merely the beginning of misery unleashed on them by direct exposure to asbestos and the drinking of contaminated water and breathing of contaminated air. When pressure mounted on Cape Plc, its directors simply closed the mine and made no effort to rehabilitate the immediate environment and to ensure that the deserted open- cast mine posed no further threat to the inhabitants of the town.

Many ex-workers of the mine have already died of asbestos related illness like Mesothelioma. Presently well over 3 000 people are ill due to exposure to asbestos. As the catalogue of apartheid abuses continues to be exposed it is not surprising to learn that many of the present asbestos victims were child labourers at the mine during the apartheid years.

The workers at the mine were never given gloves or any protective clothes. Instead Cape Plc used to dump asbestos in the play grounds of the local school to soften the surface, Neither the roads or the yards of local houses escaped this seemingly harmless and wonderfully soft and fine asbestos dust.

The tragedy however is that it took residents longer to realise that they were literally all being slowly poisoned. It took the demise of apartheid before their cries for help and compensation were heard by the media, South Africans and the world. The victims and their legal representative have been engaged in a legal battle for compensation with Cape Plc for over two years.

They recently lost a challenge in the London High Court against Cape Plc, in which they were asking the court to have their civil claim against Cape Plc to be heard in a British court as it would be virtually impossible to enforce the verdict of a South African court on a British-based firm which longer has assets in South Africa. The legal channels have not been exhausted and the victims are appealing to the House of Lords, the highest Court of Appeal in Britain.

Whether they ultimately succeed or not in their bid to have their civil claim heard in a British Court, remains to be seen. The challenge however, is for the working class of the world in particular, the workers and their representative organs - the trade unions, socialist parties, patriotic environmental movements and nationalist movements and community service organisations to ensure that communities like those of Prieska and in other parts of the developing world are actively supported both in words and practise.

This must be done for two reasons. Firstly to ensure that unscrupulous multinationals account for the mess they have left behind in many parts of developing countries. Secondly to ensure that those who are contemplating a repeat of these same evil practices, think hard before they do so.

It will be interesting to know what other readers of Umsebenzi think of this matter.

Comrade Sipho Mbaqa
Kimberely
 

CUBA - US RELATIONS 
A LESSON IN REAL DEMOCRACY!

The ongoing blockade of Cuba by the United States has entered a new phase. But this time, it is the Cubans who are on the offensive, effectively isolating the US government's increasingly out-of-touch and ideologically inspired blockade, as well as attacking the very essence of the so-called democracy that supposedly exists in the US. Below, we reprint excerpts of an address given by Cuban student leader, HASSAN PEREZ at the 54th United Nations General Assembly (taken from the Granma International Digital Edition)

I am a student of history who, like the other comrades present at this morning session, has the privilege of representing the people of Cuba in this 54th session. Moreover, I have the honor of being one of the 601 deputies who, in open and entirely free elections, were elected with the participation of the people; and the honor of presiding over the Federation of University Students, an organization founded in 1922 and which has 70,000 members in 47 centers of higher education.

You will therefore understand that in my speech, I will not be playing word games or hiding behind diplomatic phrases in order to transmit my ideas. I am going to state the truth, in a bare and direct manner. As I see it.

I have listened, with shock and indignation, to how the history of a people can be crudely distorted and manipulated. If you would allow me a word of advice from the viewpoint of a young person who, like his people, possesses an infinite vocation for the truth, I would like to suggest to the gentlemen who defend the blockade that they re-register in one of the U.S. universities in order to obtain credits in contemporary history. After listening to what has been stated, I am convinced that they need it.

Once again, the unbridled and fleeting hysteria repeated throughout nine administrations has been brought into this hall. We have not heard one single word here that could refute the conclusive arguments, backed up by concrete truths and quotes from declassified U.S. documents, presented by the foreign minister of my country here today.

This world in which we live, full of inconceivable paradoxes, has witnessed how the United States, while failing to pay its dues to the United Nations, manipulates it daily. In the global tragedy humanity is enduring, those accusing Cuba have applied unilateral sanctions against 75 countries, and bombard and launch missiles against sovereign nations whenever they feel like it.

In the case of Cuba, the illegitimacy of the blockade has been recognized by the UN General Assembly on seven consecutive occasions as a totally illegal act. That vote has become the international community's unquestionable testament of rejection of that policy, a rejection which is similarly reflected in the growing demand by large sectors of U.S. society to lift the blockade, as well as for a radical change in the U.S. government's attitude to Cuba.

The fact that the country- my country- is moving ahead, is indicated by the 6% growth rate during the first six months of this year. The infant mortality rate in Cuba stands at six per 1000 live births. Cuba has health and educational levels comparable with the most developed countries and even in the hardest moments not a single child, woman, elderly or disabled person has been abandoned, is even more revealing of our truth. These realities give the most absolute lie to the U.S. government's allegations.

Could the U.S. government say the same in relation to its dirty war against Cuba with its thousands of victims, in relation to the hundreds of planned attacks on our political leaders, in relation to a blockade which not only violates international law and attempts to impose extraterritorial laws approved in Washington on the rest of the world, but which is a proven act of genocide against the Cuban people? Could it be that in its attempts at justifying the unjustifiable, the U.S. delegation has revealed to us its government's intentions in relation to any country that refuses to bow down to its designs within the new and utterly unprincipled order it is trying to design?

The United States talks of promoting people-to-people contact. In the case of human rights, it is outrageous that the most formidable violators that the world has ever seen should speak in those terms. The United States has the largest prison population on the planet and a differentiated racial standard in the application of the death penalty and other penal sentences. This is the country of police brutality, of the commercialization of politics, of the repression of immigrants. In this city and in the rest of the country, institutionalized corruption is referred to as "soft money," and those who govern it want us to believe that multimillionaires and the homeless have equal rights. That is totally laughable. Here the infant mortality rate in the black population is double that of the white.

Those who present themselves as the universal champions of democracy are forgetting that they have gained their political positions on minority percentages of the population. They have done this by converting electoral campaigns into one of the most prosperous and juicy businesses there is these days, with hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for each term. How many medicines, computers, foodstuffs for our schools, hospitals for the Cuban population and the rest of the Third World could be acquired with that money?

The Cuban people have understood how to build a society where the exercise of an everyday and genuine democracy has become our principal emblem. Democracy is understood as the government of the people, and for us means exercising the mandate of 11 million Cubans. Can the US representative comprehend that the Cuban Parliament is made up of students, artists, campesinos, athletes, academics, scientists and doctors, who make a daily effort to represent our people without receiving one single cent. Such a panorama is inconceivable for the many persons who annually fatten their private accounts.

How can one accuse, of human rights violations and of being undemocratic, a country that has trained thousands of professionals from underdeveloped countries in its classrooms? A country which has sent tens of thousands of its young people to Africa and Latin America to contribute to eradicating illiteracy, or to save countless human lives? We think that as long as there exists one iota of common sense, the country which should be judged is the one where one million individuals live in the subway tunnels, where 43 million citizens lack medical insurance, where 17 million women have suffered sexual assault and where there are thousands of mentally ill people in prison.

We are not only charging those who have assaulted us throughout these years, but on behalf of the many people in this world who have the courage of free and independent peoples. We are also accusing the country that has intervened in the Americas with its Marines on over 40 occasions and that has backed military dictatorships that killed thousands of human beings. We are accusing the country responsible for the death of four million human beings in Viet Nam, the country which, since its establishment as a nation, exterminated populations that had been living in those regions for hundreds of years.

If humanity was capable of condemning the fascist criminals responsible for the loss of more than 50 million human beings' lives at Nuremberg, it is likewise capable of condemning the authors of these aberrations.

HOW THEY "GOT RID OF" THE WORKING CLASS

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe, the world has witnessed one of the most rapid and barbaric attempts to enforce a capitalist political economy and culture on an entire group of nations and peoples. Below, we reprint an article by VACLAV VERTELAR from the Czech Communist newspaper, Halo Noviny that gives a sense of what this "transformation" has meant for workers and the majority of people in the Czech Republic.

Much has changed here during the ten years of building capitalism through a right-wing policy of "transformation" which has plunged the country into its present deep economic, social, political and also moral crisis. Recently, the now German-owned Czech daily Lidove Noviny ran a series of articles under the title "Ten years of capitalism: some have gained and others are suffering". There was certainly an attempt to be objective, but the use of statistical averages led to the conclusion that in the last ten years living standards have risen, since the population's purchasing power has grown by 3.3%.

In 1989 average monthly pay was 3,170 Czech crowns (Czk). According to the Czech Statistical Office, in the first quarter of this year it was 10,971 Czk (about $R1900 at today's exchange rate), 3.46 times higher. In the last ten years retail prices have risen by 3.5 times. This means that average real pay is at the same level as in 1989, but this is very misleading. The average conceals vast differences in income.

Most of the population lives on wages and salaries. About 85% of working Czechs are full-time employees. The remaining 15% include businesspeople, practitioners of various trades and members of cooperatives who do not receive a wage or salary. Included in this category of "employees" are general managers of banks on monthly salaries of several hundred thousand crowns, managing directors (whose average monthly salary in 1997, according to a recent survey, was 58,000 Czk - about R10 000), other managers on an average monthly salary of 150,000 Czk (about R26 000), including judges and senior civil servants.

Many of the latter, like MPs, have high second incomes as directors or members of the supervisory boards of joint-stock companies. New members of these boards at Telecom,  for example, will each receive a million crowns per year. At the other end of the spectrum of "employees" are workers in the textile and clothing industries, cleaners and others, who earn around 5-6,000 Czk per month (R800 - R1000), with newly-qualified doctors, teachers, scientists, nurses and others not much better off.

The term "employees", therefore, includes people with incomes running into tens of thousands and millions of crowns.

The class approach to employment statistics was "abolished" several years ago. Instead of employees being classified as manual workers, technicians and administrative staff and operating and service staff, they are all now lumped together into the one category of "employees". This of course makes further analysis impossible. However, it is clear that, under capitalism in the Czech Republic today, it is the manual workers who are suffering most.

For example, in some cases the nominal wages of formerly "privileged" workers in heavy industry and miners have not even doubled, let alone trebled, in the past ten years. Their real wages, taking inflation into account, have therefore fallen significantly. And so the new statistical classification also has a practical political and propagandist purpose: workers have "disappeared" into the category of "employees" and become statistically well-off.

Given all this, as well as the growing army of unemployed, I am not at all surprised that many Czechs do not and cannot see honest work as their salvation. It rarely leads to "affluence". So they bet and gamble instead. Recently, for example, the National Lottery offered prizes running into tens of millions of crowns. As I write, in the first three days of this week Czechs have staked bets totalling more than 100 million crowns - four times as much as usual. This is another aspect of the climate in the Czech
Republic today.
 

LABOUR BRIEFS

ZIMBABWE - NEW, LABOUR-BACKED POLITICAL PARTY LAUNCHED

A new political party - the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - to challenge Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF in next year's general elections was launched in September. The MDC's main leadership and membership core comes from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU).

At the news conference announcing the launch, ZCTU president, Gibson Sibanda, laid out the basis for the formation of the MDC: "Zimbabwe faces its worst economic and social crisis since independence. We have seen growing corruption involving top Government officials, new oppressive policies and weak excuses for Government's failures. This crisis
needs powerful leadership from Government," said Sibanda.

Since the launch, the usual mixture of legal threats and political intimidation has followed from the Mugabe regime. Mugabe, who continues to rule with an arrogant and powerful iron fist, has led Zimababwe into it's worst economic and political mess since independence in 1980. Hyper inflation, mass poverty and the increasing militarisation of government and society have led Zimbabwe to the brink of a massive social, political and economic crisis.

New MDC leader and former ZCTU Secretary-General, Morgan Tsavangirai, is confident that the MDC will defeat Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party: 'One of the fundamental issues confronting this country is not the party but the democratisation of institutions. Free and fair elections are not possible in Zimbabwe, when people like President Mugabe are still in power". The MDC has called for serious constitutional reforms, withdrawal of Zimbabwean troops from the conflict in the DRC and the ending of government intimidation and violence against critics and opponents.

COLOMBIA - GENERAL STRIKE SHAKES UP U.S. - BACKED GOVERNMENT

A massive general strike took place in September, demanding an end to Colombian President Andres Pastrana's economic policies of austerity and privatisations. The strike was called by Colombia's labor unions, unorganized workers as well as peasant, community and student organisations and succeeded in mobilising over 20 million in active and solidarity support.

Besides calling for an end to privatisations, the strikers demanded a moratorium on payment of the Columbia's massive and crippling foreign debt. There were also calls for the government to scrap a proposed public-sector wage freeze and reject a proposed year-2000 cut in the social spending budget (the IMF is demanding these measures in exchange for a $3 billion loan to the Columbian government).

The strike, which lasted several days, was declared a victory by the organisers. Union leader Tarciso Mora declared that "the Colombian people and workers have won." The government agreed to establish a working group to negotiate all of the workers' demands--including their demands regarding economic policy. The government also agreed to unconditionally release all  protesters arrested during the strike, and pledged not to
retaliate against public-sector strikers.

This resurgence in the Colombian mass struggle comes despite a wave of right-wing violence aimed at the people's movement. On the first night of the strike, right- wing paramilitary death squads murdered at least 20 peasants in the town of Yolombo  - part of the ongoing violence against opponents of the oligarchy that runs the country and those that support the main guerilla force (FARC-EP) fighting the government.

(** Thanks to Workers' Weekly World for information**)

RUSSIA - BLOODY TAKEOVER OF WORKER-CONTROLLED FACTORY

In scenes reminiscent of the pre-1917 Russian revolution, Russian security men opened fire on workers occupying a paper and pulp factory, owned by a British-registered company, outside St Petersburg (Leningrad) earlier this year. Several workers were beaten and two seriously wounded.

The security unit known as Taifun, which is part of the Justice Ministry, was trying to enforce a court order returning the factory,taken over and run by workers since 1998, to private control. Workers and administrators at the plant say that 30armed members of Taifun stormed the factory at 2am, beating guards placed there by the workers. They were then counter-attacked by a crowd of some 600 paper workers who had come from their homes in the town of Vyborg, about 100 miles west of St Petersburg.

The security men then took seven of theworkers hostage and retreated to the factory canteen which they barricaded. The workers for their part took hostage Alexander Sabadash, a representative of Altsem, a company registered in Britain and Switzerland,

A state commission has now been set up to consider the future ownership of the plant. The workers challenge the legality of its original privatisation and want the plant returned to state ownership. This incident mirrors many similar ones across Russia over the last year, where unpaid and poverty-stricken workers have begun to take control of factories, mines and run-downs state enterprises.

(**Thanks to the Independent for information**)

ZAMBIA - STATE 'GIVES AWAY' COPPER MINES TO ANGLO AMERICAN

The proposed sale of the vast majority of the state-owned Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) assets to the South African corporate giant, Anglo American for US$90 million (R545 million), has been labeled a "give-away" by the political opposition and labour unions.

Under an agreement signed last month Anglo American will pay US$30 million in cash to ZCCM to acquire the Konkola group of mines. These include the Konkola Deep Mine project, the Nchanga copper mines and the Nampundwe pyrite mine. The outstanding US $60 million will be paid out over three years. To put the sale amount into perspective, one mining analyst estimated that the current potential value of Nchanga mine alone is estimated at more than US$500 million.

The deal marks a return to the colonial days, when Anglo had monopoly ownership of all Zambia's copper mines until they were nationalised under the former government of Kenneth Kaunda. It also signifies a high-water mark in the ongoing privatisation programme undertaken by the present Chiluba government, that has seen over 200 state entities sold off to mostly foreign-owned corporations.

THE STRUGGLE FOR CONTROL OF KWAZULU NATAL 

In light of the recent killings in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, and the cowardly murder of Prince Cyril Zulu, Imbali branch member NOSIMO NKOSI, surveys the past and present role of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), and argues that the Alliance must step up the struggle to isolate and politically defeat the IFP in its strongholds - the hostels and rural areas.

The history of control of KZN dates back to the pre-1994 era and it is nothing other than the struggle over the African working class and rural mass sections of the province's population. For many years, the IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi used the ethnic card to lure Zulus to his bantustan and what was known as Inkatha Yenkululeko Yesizwe. As a strategy of countering efforts by the ANC in the urban areas, he made sure to entrench the IFP in the hostels, appealing to Zulu ethnicism. Of course, the rural areas were his prime targets, but the base for his counter-revolutionary activities remained predominately in the hostels, outside of KZN's rural hinterland.

In the late 1980s and early 90s, his moves to take over all the hostels were intensified with the major goal being to move into the townships. This wave of IFP activity, met with the full might of our mass democratic movement and the IFP was driven away in some hostels that it claimed. Hostels like Glebe, Esikhawini, SJ Smith and Wema fell into the hands of the democratic forces. This presented the IFP with a terrible dilemma, and forced the IFP to resort to activities that would reclaim these hostels.

The post-1994 era (with a new, ANC-led democratic government in power), put pressure on the IFP to either adapt to a new dispensation or slide into the political wasteland. The IFP tried to pursue the old methods of open violence, accompanied by bold statements of resistance from u-Mangosuthu. The ANC responded carefully to this, and with the peace package offered, the IFP found itself having no other option other than to accept peace efforts or be seen as a party solely committed to violence. There were two considerations that the IFP must have made before accepting to negotiate peace.

Since its primary objective was to topple and dismantle the ANC (particularly since the ANC has communists in its ranks), it was not possible to use the so called black-on-black violence strategy to elevate the IFP. Under the new conditions the IFP had to consider a two pronged approach - to publicly be seen working together with the ANC to consolidate peace in KwaZulu Natal whilst, behind the scenes, killing ANC members with the hope that the ANC would lose its patience with the peace efforts.

The other consideration was what can be called double standardising - i.e., peace for the senior leadership and violence for the people on the ground. This meant that the IFP had to convince its warlords and firebrands to be careful about their public statements, whilst at the same time not informing their lower structures about the peace process. This would then help to keep their strongholds away from the ANC and ensure that there were still no-go areas. Indeed, the culture of no-go areas helps sustain the IFP's terror strategy and keep people under IFP control, captives. The IFP knew perfectly well that with their senior leadership appearing in the media talking peace, it would earn the organisation respect from opinion makers, donors and the international community, whilst the majority of its members do not have access to the media and little capacity to comprehend what their leaders mean.

In actual fact, what this means is that the IFP has not abandoned violence, nor does it consider it inappropriate. It engaged in peace efforts for convenience, and besides, it had no choice. For the ANC, it is important to emphasise peace as this suffocates the IFP. However, the ANC should always bear in mind that it is dealing with a Savimbi. The IFP plan now seems to be to begin a renewed onslaught on those hostels that are not IFP-controlled, with the hope of driving out the ANC. This is done by targeting prominent ANC members dwelling in hostels so as to fuel intra-hostel violence in order to regain IFP presence and control.

But the intention of targeting hostels is based on an attempt at reversing the setbacks and collapse of UWUSA, simultaneously taking the battle straight to COSATU. The IFP calculates that the majoritiy of workers are from hostels and that these workers are members of COSATU, and therefore allied to the ANC and SACP. This gives the IFP sleepless nights and it fears that these hostel workers might transmit the ANC\SACP politics to rural strongholds of the IFP. In real terms it is the struggle for the control of the working class.

This struggle means that the SACP and COSATU must actually lead it, and move from a defence of our hostels to seizing hostels that are IFP controlled, as well as in the rural areas where the vast of the working class is found. This struggle needs the moulding of an army of revolutionaries, an army that will defeat the IFP at its roots. Indeed, we need an army that will struggle insatiably until democracy is a reality to workers in hostels and rural areas.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS 

BURMA - MILITARY JUNTA CONTINUES SPREE OF DETENTION, TORTURE AND MURDER

The fascist military junta in Burma, representing what is possibly the most repressive and reactionary regime in the world today, has not let up in its ongoing campaign to systematically destroy any opposition to its barbaric rule. Recent reports from the exiled National Council of Union Burma (NCUB), indicate that the military junta has increased its use of slave labour in order to build a gas pipeline financed by western corporations,  has stepped-up its arrest and torture of pro-democracy activists and has streamlined its heroin-growing operations, the proceeds of which are used to finance the military and its general's lavish lifestyles.

According to the World Association of Newspapers, the Burmese junta recently arrested over 27 journalists from the "Kye Mon" newspaper for describing one of the junta leaders, Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt, as "the world-famous crook". Subsequently, many were tortured and two of the journalists died as a result. Seven journalists remain in prison, joining thousands of others who are languishing in Burma's hell-holes for merely exercising basic human rights.

Despite these events and increased international calls for the complete isolation of the fascist junta, western countries continue to do good business with military junta (as well as to receive most of the heroin grown in Burma) and Burma has been confirmed as a participant in the 2000 Olympics in Australia. Most disturbing, developing countries such as South Africa continue to expand trade and political relations with a government that rivals the apartheid regime in its brutality and illegitimacy.

COLUMBIA - CIA HIRING MERCENARIES TO FIGHT GUERILLAS

According to progressive press reports in Brazil, a secret operation by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is being conducted to recruit pilots and reserve military in Brazil to fight against the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC - EP). Journalists have secured this information from one of the recruited pilots.

Candidates for the "mission" are expected to be experienced in "high-risk" activities. The pay for each mission ranges between US$10,000 and US$20,000. Evidently, the contracts do not include life insurance, and the families of contracted individuals must promise not to file any sort of indemnity claim, nor attempt to reclaim the body in case of death.

The pilot explained that a large portion of those recruited/contracted participated in the civil war in Angola, between 1992 and 1994. They are also people who fought in Nicaragua and El Salvador, against the rebel groups of those countries, during the 1980s.

(**Thanks to Pulsar News Service for information**)

EASTERN EUROPE - MAJORITY REGRET CHANGE IN POLITICAL SYSTEM

A recent survey into attitudes concerning the political changes following the collapse of the Eastern-block in 1989 shows that almost two-thirds of those questioned in eight countries are dissatisfied with the political change.

The survey involved personal questioning of 1000 adults in each of the following eight countries: Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Russia. According to the results:

  • 23% of Hungarians were satisfied regarding the change of system, while 66% were disappointed. The remaining 11 percent had not expected positive changes.
  • In Bulgaria and Romania the ratios were 24% - 65% and 22% - 69% respectively
  • In Ukraine only 4% were satisfied, while 76% were dissatisfied
  • In Russia the ratio was 20% - 59%
  • In Poland the results showed a ration of 26% - 61%
  • In the Czech Republic the figures stood at 17% satisfied and 72%

  •  

POETRY

The sands will rise
The heavens will part
The power will be unleashed
To the working masses of the world
To the workers of the world
To secure peoples' freedom from want
>From hunger and ignorance
I am a communist

You have seen me before
You have beard about me
Many many years ago
I refused to die
The death of imperialism
And you made me live
Amongst the voiceless I emerged
I am a communist

I belong to the working class
Marxism and Leninism are my principles
In Marx I have learned Mathematics
Common plus unity equals community
I worked with communities
I am a communist
My basic principle is unity
Unity that benefits human beings
In unity there is power
A power the world has never known
To any nation I give freedom to choose destiny
Self-determination is their greatest asset
I am a communist

I am a communist
Fundamental to that - Choice is peace
The true freedom
Yes! I am a communist

My road is democracy
My vision is socialism
Dictatorship of the proletariat I uphold
I have opened new ways of making history
I have given power to make decisions
Decisions that affect reality
I am a communist

I destroy bourgeois states
Through democratic centralism
I have built organisations
Equal development is the only choice
>From a planned economy
That led to social and economic development
I am a communist

I am the vanguard of the workers
Revolutionary - I have created new structures
To give the world a new face
I am the office of the mind
I transform human consciousness
I have eliminated profit from man's psychology
Material interest is high treason
Faith in markets is executed
In capitalism I have no trust
I am a communist

I am a communist
Where there is war - I create peace
In peaceful societies there is wealth
I am the one who helped you to achieve freedom
>From the East, I came
In Cuba I am rooted
In Africa I am admired
Internationalism is my pillar
Freedom the nation's greatest asset
Independence the world's demand
Democracy is a right
Equality a world's demand
Love is human
I am a communist
Yes! I am a communist!

Matserane Wa-Mapena

READER'S FORUM

Recently, an article appeared in the Mail & Guardian newspaper entitled "Its time for the SACP to step out of the ANC's shadow". Here, SACP member in Botshabelo, PHELS PARKIES takes the opportunity to respond to what he considers a misdirected article.

It is imperative to understand correctly the context of our revolution. The National liberation movement, led by the ANC, with the vanguard Party of the poor working class, is the struggle that combined many mass democratic contingents in the history of our revolution. The main context of this revolution was to over throw the apartheid regime and establish a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist society.

Anti-imperialism is the very context of our revolution. Communism stand for the rights of the workers and the oppressed people, against all forms of exploitation. Communism also stands for freedom , democracy and social progress. These accomplishments are ignored in the article. The article fails to understand the revolution and its processes. It is pure self-deception to argue that the SACP should relegate its leadership of the working class (on a socialist programme) and to argue that the aspirations of the working class are subordinate as is claimed in the article. The revolutionary struggle to end white domination should not be seen in isolation to the strong conviction of human dignity and social progress throughout our country. It is for this reason that the SACP fervently asserts the consolidation of the NDR, which is the direct road to socialism.

It is the belief of the SACP that the capacity to struggle for, and elements of, socialism will continue to develop on the terrain of capitalism while at the same time constantly struggling against the monopoly domination and policies of the most reactionary circles of imperialism. The very poor working class stand to gain more from the ending of national domination than any other class among the oppressed. Indeed, the concept of stages in the struggle is not unusual - struggle goes through stages. The same applies to any revolutionary struggle that would not be complete without social emancipation. Therefore it is advisable for the author of the article not to treat our revolutionary theory 'stageism' as things-in- themselves, but as steps in the development of socialism.

The article also fails to dissect the causes and effect of unemployment, but refers to these as the consequences of our revolutionary approach. The approach to national problems should be seen in unity with international ones. This is one of the points the article misses. It is self-evident that most of the cynics want to see the breaking of this revolutionary alliance. Communists are being challenged by these cynics about the relevance of socialist ideas and its prospects in different institutions (i.e., tertiary institutions).

We are not convinced by all vices of imperialism and its illusions. The working class and the toiling masses tend to be the victims of all the vicissitudes of imperialism. It is for this reason that the SACP still believes that the revolutionary alliance is still the main weapon for social transformation in the country. As the Party, we are aware that monopoly capitalism continues to reach its moribund stage and we will utilise the existing contradictions to the fullest and for the expediency of the poor working class - through the provision of social delivery and the rolling back of the capitalist market. The three alliance components are independent formations with their respective policies. Each has an independent role to play in this phase of our revolution.

The SACP's role is more and more relevant than before - to represent its class within the Alliance, a role that the article represents as a hiding behind the ANC. The SACP is still committed to fight against all tendencies outside, and within, the Alliance and against workerist approaches. The article does not recognise the role played by the communists, even within the labour movement. Even more so, the vanguard role of the Party is even less understood by the author - he talks about the vanguard but fails to define it. The arguments are thus uninformed.

The SACP is the organisation with policies and programmes. As the Party, we cannot he swayed by emotions from irrational cynics, our policies are determined by the objective realities for the advancement of working class struggle. The character of SACP is different from the ANC's and will never  be the same. It would be worth advising the author that it is not the SACP's perennial dream to wage struggle against the ANC. It is also not our intention to petrify the working class and toiling masses, but to advance working class struggle against imperialist domination together with ANC and COSATU. It is not prudent to advocate the breaking of the Alliance, but purely opportunistic and self deceptive.

Only history will absolve the SACP and have the last word.

READER'S FORUM 
Grappling with Unemployment

Against the background of what the SACP has called "a jobs loss bloodbath", SACP Northern Cape member VUYISILE MAKI, offers some brief perspectives on how to grapple with  the serious problem of unemployment.

Reports and statistics indicate that there are more than 40% of working age people who are unemployed in South Africa. However, unemployment doesn't necessarily affect every South African equally. Some jobs have been created over the last several years, but over twice as many have been lost. Therefore, job creation must be high on the agenda. Specific measures to deal wit this problem have been clearly spelt out in the October Job Summit.

The Challenges:

  • A lack of funding v\s national debt
  • Government bureaucratic procedures
  • A Youth unemployment fund should be explored
  • Unrealistic labour market requirements should be reviewed

What needs to done?

  • The current high levels of overtime should be discouraged, and those overtime working hours should be translated into new, full-time employment as a contribution to the RDP
  • There should be a 40 hour working week for all workers - i.e., four days per week without loss of pay
  • Early retirement on full pay should be offered to all workers at the age of 55
  • Government and the private sector must commit themselves to these processes

These proposals are not that revolutionary. The transitional period to democracy has given rise to its own problems. The inflow of investors into the country has not addressed the questions of jobs. Some investors have pulled back precisely because they want to exploit the working class and make more profits. This state of affairs threatens to undermine the hard-won gains of our national democratic project.  

READER'S FORUM 
THE TRIPARTITE ALLIANCE SHOULD BE ALIVE AND KICKING

Below, Food & Allied Workers Union (FAWU) Economics Co-ordinator, KATISHI MASEMOLA, offers his personal perspectives on the debate around the Alliance, particularly as they relate to the relationship between the ANC and COSATU.

There is a wish by some in politics and elsewhere to see a split, and the collapse of the alliance between the African National Congress (ANC), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). These elements could be described and identified in two categories. On the one hand is a group on the extreme left and on the other a group of centre-right neo-liberals.

The extreme left believes that the continuation of the alliance will arrest a rapid movement towards socialism. It calls for COSATU to withdraw from the alliance and contribute to the formation of a new political party, referred to by some as a Workers Party. The centre-right holds the belief that the continuation of the alliance stands in the way of the rapid evolution of market-friendly economics, labour and other policies. They call on the ANC to break away from the alliance in order to 'freely' pursue such policies. The realisation of these wishes is potentially dangerous and it is necessary for political activists who believe in the ANC-led tripartite alliance to 'shoot this down' and ensure that it remains wishful thinking.

It is for COSATU to accept that the ANC is a leading partner in this alliance. This is particularly true given that the ANC is considered a working class biased movement with a track record of being an anti- imperialist liberation movement. This co-exists with the view that the SACP remains a political vanguard of the working class with regard to its vision for socialism. The ANC is, albeit working class in its bias, a 'broad church' of various class forces and interest groups. Therefore, the ANC should be a platform on which COSATU's cadres and leaders should to assert the hegemony of working class ideas.

Equally COSATU should understand that the tripartite alliance is not a homogeneous entity but a terrain to contest policies, tactics and other issues relating to the liberation agenda of the national democratic revolution. It is for this reason that COSATU should argue for the development and adoption of an alliance programme covering areas in which the partners see eye to eye.

In the same breath COSATU should urge the alliance to debate issues of difference with the view to achieving agreement. COSATU and the other partners should have a common understanding of what the national democratic revolution is about. It is about addressing gender inequalities, race imbalances and income/wealth disparities. The inequalities should be addressed in their total relationship to each other. An emphasis on one set of inequalities may leave the other two unattended or inadequately attended to.

It is the nature of the approach and method utilised in addressing these inequalities that will determine the form and content of the democratic system that the alliance should deepen, and the development programme it should pursue. A democratic system which allows participation by, and give audience to, rural African women masses and a development programme that reaches and empowers women.

It is only the tripartite alliance, which is qualified to drive the NDR towards its ultimate goal of reducing, and hopefully closing, the gap between poverty-stricken rural African woman and 'filthy' rich urban white men. This should be the perspective used to contextualise, analyse, interpret and take forward  the 'two nations in one country' address by President Thabo Mbeki.

Clearly, COSATU needs a strong alliance as the benefits of remaining in this alliance outweigh the cost, if any, of its demise. Policy differences are largely in the areas of social and economic policies and primarily on "growth, employment and redistribution strategy's macro-economic strategy and its essential elements such as fiscal, monetary and trade policies and privatisation. Policy or tactical differences between alliance partners should feature prominently in regular alliance meetings, as these differences have the potential of off -setting the realisation of this strategic objective.

Given the above, a key challenge for COSATU and its affiliates is to avoid undermining the ANC government, and consequently the democratic breakthrough represented by the 1994 and 1999 elections. At the same time, it is a key challenge for COSATU to avoid compromising membership in its dealings with the ANC government on collective bargaining or any other issue. The best approach to confront these challenges lies in the following:

  • COSATU needs to be a strong and independent labour movement that will raise its viewpoints and represents its course withbour legislation;
  • With COSATUout fear or favour;
  • COSATU needs a strong ANC government in order to achieve some of its objectives - for example, the current fairly progressive la's vision of socialism, it needs a strong SACP to lead the working class to a socialist dispensation.

These are the reasons for the alliance to continue and for COSATU's continued participation in the alliance. These reasons are compelling and convincing.

It is in this perspective that COSATU ought to contextualise the dispute between its public sector affiliates and government. The dispute is a collective bargaining matter although characterised in some cases by political undertones such as government's fiscal strategy, which informs its wage offer. This fiscal strategy is an essential cornerstone of government's macro-economic strategy (GEAR), which COSATU rejects. Public sector unions therefore, with the solidarity of other COSATU affiliates, should relentlessly pursue this struggle without fear or favour.

This dispute is therefore, not a compelling reason to call for the split of the alliance. This dispute does not amount to a crisis in the alliance. In fact this dispute serves as a wake-up call to the alliance partners, particularly the ANC. The ANC needs to speedily conclude a comprehensive programme that will inform government's strategy (for example, the size of the public service and government wage policy vis-a-vis social delivery) and the modus operandi of the alliance in driving the NDR.

RED OCTOBER AROUND SOUTH AFRICA

As most members and supporters of the SACP know, we have recently completed RED OCTOBER, a month-long programme of targeted recruitment, strengthening of Party structures, raising the profile of the Party and important issues amongst workers and building of worker industrial units. In this contribution, SACP National Organiser, SOLLY MAPAILA, provides a consolidated view of how RED OCTOBER was implemented throughout each of the provinces in the country.

Western Cape Province

The province had a very targeted and focused approach to the campaign, with Central Committee members deployed to the province playing an important and active role. While a full report is yet to be supplied, the following gives an indication of some of the province's achievements:

  • Preliminary projections indicate that a total of 359 new members were recruited or signed up.
  • The relationship with COSATU was considerably strengthened due to the campaign and there is much room for taking forward the establishment of industrial units as a result
  • A very successful rally commemorating the Great October Revolution of 1917 was addressed by the General Secretary and received good media coverage from radios and the print media.

Gauteng Province

The campaign in Gauteng was very uneven, but was bolstered substantially by the active deployment of the General Secretary, who visited and addressed several meetings of workers in the townships and at places of work. The general participation of SACP structures was mixed. While the general involvement of the provincial leadership was disappointing, those areas where there is a strong Party presence exhibited an active involvement.

Several structures were revived and there was a noticeable increase in signed-up membership. The foundations for the establishment of several work-place/ industrial units were laid, and with Gauteng's proximity to the main components  of South Africa's organised working class, this bodes well for future organisation and work. Nonetheless, there will be the need for all Party members and supporters to ensure that the existing structures are revived and strengthened further in order for the huge potential of Gauteng to be realised.

Northern Province

Unfortunately, the campaign in the Northern Province never really got off the gorund. While there was some activity together with COSATU in the province, the core of the campaign was not implemented. In this regard, the main problem with the province was poor planning and not developing its own programme pro-actively. The involvement of the provincial leadership was extremely disappointing, which raises a general question around the political deployment of Party leaders who are most often committed somewhere else.

KwaZulu Natal Province

The province started the campaign by mobilising a strong team of volunteers to do Party-building work. While specific numbers have yet to be calculated, an extensive programme was adopted that yielded a sizeable increase in recruited membership and a more visible SACP profile in the province. The province managed to formally launch one district and several branches, as well as reviving some of the those branches that had fallen into inactivity. Several workshops were also held in various areas of the province. Weaknesses identified include the lack of consistent report-back mechanisms and problems with adhering to specific time-tables and programmes adopted.

North West Province

The province did exceedingly well in implementing the campaign programme. Activities were divided up into those at a province-wide level and those that were to be carried out by the districts and branches. Planning structures were established for each activity and the leadership of the province supported by districts and branches participated actively  throughout the programme.

Besides holding a major rally in commemoration of the Great October Revolution of 1917, that was addressed by SACP National Chairperson Charles Nqakula, the province managed to establish several work-place/industrial units, launch at least two new branches and revive many of those that had become inactive.  While there were weaknesses around the mobilisation of volunteer, the positive aspects, such as good planning, positive relationships with unions and a spirit of collectivism made the campaign an overall success.

Mpumalanga Province

There was very little in the way of a campaign in this province. Despite the many attempts by national SACP officials to get the campaign off the ground, there was very little sense that a systematic programme was either adopted and/or implemented. Maybe not surprisingly, but certainly ironically, the SACP in the province continues to grow unguided. Debit orders continue to flow in from individual comrades as well as membership application forms.

Eastern Cape Province

If the campaign report from the province is anything to go by, then it is clear that the SACP in the Eastern Cape is well on its way to a substantial revival and strengthening. The new provincial organiser has brought new energy and guidance, although there remains a problem with the collective work amongst the provincial leadership. The following were statistics provide a picture of the achievements of the campaign in the province:

  • Nine industrial units were established
  • Three branches were launched - Somerset East, Port Alfred one in a Hospital
  • One district was launched  - the Mbuyi Ngwenda District
  • 166 new members were signed up
  • 122 debit orders were signed
  • Over 2200 people were reached in meetings

The Free State Province

The campaign proved successful in most parts of the province. There was positive involvement by the provincial leadership and the campaign went a long way to re-establishing a collective work ethic and to re-invigorating party activists in the province. While there still remain several weaknesses in regards to the revival of existing structures across the province, the results achieved during the campaign should lay a solid foundation for the future of the SACP. The following figures show the results of the work done:

  • 80 new members were signed up
  • 79 debit orders were signed and collected
  • Close to 1000 people were reached in meetings
  • Importantly, two co-operative ventures were established for two rural communities in Lukhoff and Eskorevier

Northern Cape Province

The campaign in this huge, but sparsely inhabited province, has gone a long way to ensuring that the SACP can now formally launch as a provincial structure.  While there remains much work to be done in co-ordinating a province-wide political and organisational programme as well as ensuring full involvement by leadership, the campaign succeeded in reviving several structures, launching at least 2 new branches and accelerating the debit order campaign. There was also good media coverage of the campaign. The province's campaign achieved:

  • 154 new members were signed up
  • Over 500 people were reached in meetings

The SACP is Moving Forward!

Despite the numerous problems encountered during the campaign (for example,  lack of funds, a shortage of material, a lack of preparation and poor involvement by leadership), the work done and the results achieved so far are inspiring, with much promise for the future.

Overall, there were 153 reported Red October activities throughout the country, pulling-in over 10 000 people in meetings and discussion sessions on building the Party. Close to 500 new members were signed-up and several hundred debit order signed. The SACP managed to establish varied relationships with workers, the Chiefs in the North West, HIV/AIDS activists and established 5 industrial Party units and 11 interim units plus launching two new Districts. This is no mean feat, and gives the SACP a good foundation for achieving further growth and progress.

The Red October Campaign was more than a recruitment and propaganda exercise. The SACP interacted with the thousands of workers and more space has been opened to politically conscientise and organise these workers. Most importantly though, we carried a positive message of hope to the workers - a message that the struggle for socialism is alive and well and that material, social and cultural conditions can be changed. 

Socialism is the future! Build it now!

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