Flag and Symbol
Media & Artwork
Conferences, Congresses and Anniversaries
Leadership Structures
African Communist PDF Archive
African Communist Digital Archive
Bua Komanisi
Eastern Cape Bulletin
Umsebenzi Online
Umsebenzi Online Articles
Voice of the Proletariat - Northern Cape Publication
Feedback Form
Google Groups

Subscribe to

Umsebenzi Online

Alternatively visit this group.

Subscribe to

Communist University

Alternatively visit this group.

Contact us
Tel:  +27 11 3393621
Fax: +27 11 3394244
+27 11 3396880


PO Box 1027,
Johannesburg 2000,
South Africa

The latest Umsebenzi Click here to view the Latest Umsebenzi. [PDF]

The latest Umsebenzi Online

Why the assassin must not be granted parole
Read more

The latest African Communist Click here to view the Latest African Communist. [PDF]


For us as the SACP the signifiance of this victory lies in the fact that it is through an ANC led-government that more spaces can be created to further advance the interests of the working class and struggles for worker-friendly policies.

The overwhelming victory of the ANC in the second democratic election, winning 66% of the vote nationally, with an outright majority in 7 provinces, is another historic moment in the consolidation of the gains of the 1994 democratic breakthrough. The ANC result was built on continued support from its huge African base amongst workers, the urban and the rural poor. But there were also very significant gains made by the ANC from the Coloured and Indian communities. This victory underlines the confidence, and hope, that the mass of our people have in the ANC government. 

Especially significant and pleasing is that the ANC fought the election with a manifesto that focused on accelerated change and re-affirmed the RDP against neo-liberal perspectives, which tend to separate growth and development. This manifesto - which was debated and drafted with the Alliance - is also very frank and open about the major challenges still lying ahead. Most importantly is a firm commitment to acceleration of change 

For us as the SACP the significance of this victory lies in the fact that it is through an ANC-led government that more spaces could be created to further advance the interests of the working class and struggles for worker-friendly policies. The victory underlines the correctness of the SACP's focus on mobilising the working class and all socialists to vote for the ANC. 

Even more than during the 1994 elections, in this year's elections we specifically mobilised SACP structures to target the working class and socialists in the election campaign. We specifically took a leading role in organising more than 40 Chris Hani commemorations throughout the country in April. We also participated in the May Day Rallies, as well as organised a highly successful "Red Thursday" on 20 May 1999 - through which we reached more than 400 000 workers. In addition we instructed all communists to become ANC election organisers to ensure an ANC victory. The response of the workers underlined their confidence and expectations from an ANC-led government. 

A Peoples Government

Most importantly, the second democratic election marks the transition to majority rule. It is also for this reason that for working class forces majority rule should not merely be restricted to mean that a party that wins the election forms government. This is a formalistic and very liberal conception of majority rule. Majority rule should mean a government oriented towards the overwhelming majority of our people - the most numerous being the working class and the poor - as the true basis upon which a lasting democracy can be built. Most importantly a government that tackles socio-economic inequalities as the very basis upon which to consolidate our democracy, based on the understanding that there can be no political democracy if there is no economic justice. 

However, much as this electoral victory creates space to further shift the balance of forces in favour of the working class, the landless rural masses and the poor, this will not happen on its own. This is because the very direction and content of South Africa's revolution is heavily contested. On the one hand there are those forces that stand for the most thorough transformation of South African society, and, on the other hand, those forces that seek limited changes and the creation of a non-racial capitalist South Africa catering mainly for an elite. This therefore means that the election results are both a victory and a challenge to the revolutionary forces in our country. 

State and People's Power

The first challenge is to ensure that the very forces that voted for the ANC - notably the working class, the urban and rural poor - need to be mobilised to be at the centre of the transformation process itself. This makes our slogan of building people's power even more relevant during this period. For the SACP it means building the political confidence and capacity of the working class to play a leading role in the transformation struggles at all levels of society. It means giving concrete class content to the very process of accelerating change as a basis for tackling the racial and gendered legacy of apartheid. 

Even more important this means that we need to immerse ourselves in the very struggle to build on the social gains made over the last five years, not as watchdogs but as part of very forces that constitute the political bloc that is in power. In particular we need to concretely take forward the one major lesson of the last five years, that it has not been privatised entities or the privatisation processes that have brought about water, electricity, housing and clinics to millions of our people. Instead it has been an aggressive state-led developmental programme that has brought about these improvements, underpinned by participation of our people through ANC and SACP branches, trade union structures and community development committees. 

Advances of this kind have required political determination and a preparedness to use state power. Where privatisation has occurred we have only witnessed a one-way process of job losses and unaffordable services to the majority of our communities. This requires the intensification of the struggle to develop the capacity of the state in social delivery and fight against any tendency towards a market-driven development process. This struggle needs to be reinforced by an intensified and sustained ideological critique of economic fundamentalism of privatisation and liberalisation. The very achievements of the last five years are in themselves a devastating critique of this economic dogma. 

Another key challenge is to ensure that accelerated social change does not simultaneously create a two-tier system that could in the medium-term undermine the sustainability of social delivery to the majority of our people. For instance, provision of more water, electricity and housing could be undermined by the inability of many people to pay for these services as a result of persisting structural inequalities rooted in the capitalist character of our society. Similar dangers lurk in the labour market, where there have been major progressive reforms but at the same time massive retrenchments. This points to the need to spread the understanding that it is in fact capitalism that constitutes one of the biggest threats to our fledgling democracy. That social advances being made continue to be threatened by the dominance of the profit motive and the fact that the bulk of the wealth of this country still remains in private hands. It is this principal contradiction that has to be strategically confronted in the very struggle to accelerate change. 

Building the Party

In practical terms, this means that the SACP needs to deepen and consolidate its presence within the working class. We need to build on the experience of Red Thursday, and deepen the presence of the Party in industrial areas, carrying out blitzes and establishing workplace structures. This should form the core of our programmatic activities directed at tackling day to day issues facing workers within our overall strategic goal of laying foundations for socialism. We need to directly take up the key question of jobs, focusing on job creation, fighting retrenchments, seeking worker-friendly labour market reforms as well as holding of sectoral job summits within the overall framework of a coherent industrial strategy. 

At the same time the Party needs to strengthen its presence amongst the rural masses, and struggle for a sustained programme of rural transformation oriented towards the landless rural masses. We must build on the experience we have already acquired through the presence of Party structures in a number of rural areas of our country. We should build on the momentum of the election to consolidate our structures in order to osition the SACP to play an effective role in the acceleration of change. Communist cadres need also to play an active role in sustaining ANC organisational work, ensuring that activist, grass-roots networks built up during the election campaign are strengthened into lasting organisational presence. 

Letter to the Editor

Dear Comrade Editor, 

I have been with the communist movement all my life, and even the collapse of the socialist states in Eastern Europe did not irritate me. I adhere to our Marxist-Leninist ideology as from the first day. But that does not mean that I am not willing to learn how to improve our chances in the political struggle. 

I would like to know more about the SACP by corresponding with SACP comrades. I would appreciate if you put my request and address in Umsebenzi. 

Looking forward to hearing from South Africa. 
For international solidarity, 

Wolfgang Kaiser
Altenburg Str. 29
81243 Munchen

Readers Forum

Let us not lose sight of our Liberation Struggle 

In our Nov-Dec 1998 issue, Umsebenzi reader, Vuyisile Make, contributed a controversial Forum piece entitled 'A New Perspective on Racism". Here, SACP and NEHAWU member, THANDILE GULWA, offers a spirited response. 

I believe and understand that we have been engaged for years in fighting racial oppression. What we need to remember, is that there were many white comrades amongst us, with whom we managed to fight together and share our experiences. Those very same whites helped us to understand our situation and grapple with the issue of human and civil rights. 

Along the way, they were committed towards fighting racial oppression, in some cases, even more vigorously than those who were oppressed. I am trying to shift the thinking of the young comrade on race, as an issue that still needs to be debated. We need to look beyond colour and focus on the real enemy that continues to divide our communities into beggars and givers. There are white hikers who receive the same treatment (Ed's note -as described in Make's letter) from our black brothers. Maybe I am also a victim of getting a lift from my black brother in the back of his car! 

What has gone wrong? - We need to carry the blame of white people who are more 'white' than others. After we achieved our freedom, we then began to own the struggle and failed to recruit across colour and class lines. This failure has had a negative impact on the change we are preaching, rather than practising. A total change of attitude will be a product of constructive engagement, which will ultimately lead to such tendencies diminishing, and then vanishing. 

We should be engaging most unorganised whites at our work places, and when we meet them in churches, we must share with them how Jesus waged a struggle against domination of the poor by the rich, unjust laws and crime. We then need to talk about what we can do to create human unity - one of the messages of Jesus. If we fail in this, racism will continue in other forms. We need to fight the virus that results in racism, and the only people who have the medication for this are communists. 

I would not like to see a communist putting his/her hands over their heads, screaming for help from God to come and cure racism. We must be looking for solutions: to make sure that education continues and to invite communities to talk about racism. You will be amazed to find that many whites have long outgrown the colour issue. The only thing is, as much as they have changed attitude, they are unable to change the colour of their skin. The problem is not with colour. As much as christianity sounds good, it has also been a tool used to divide whites from blacks, men from women, old from young and protect government from the anger of citizens. 

Most whites were raised with the notion that blacks are strangers to them, that they need not share dignity with us. It is thus our duty to strive and change this thinking for the better. 

Reader's Forum

Parliamentary vs Extra-Parliamentary Engagements in Taking Forward the NDR

SACP member and Communication Workers' Union Organiser in the Northern Province, RAKOLOTA MAHLARE MOSES, takes up the challenge of our transformational agenda in the wake of the recent elections. 

Parliamentary Engagement 
Since the formation of the ANC and subsequent emergence of working class organizations, there have been many discussions concerning parliamentary and extra-parliamentary engagement. In these discussions it became evident that earlier assertions - of parliamentary politics, especially in bourgeois democracies, being reactionary at best and at worst counter-revolutionary - don't really hold. 

Those assertions were revisited, and we have come to an understanding that parliamentary engagement coupled with constructive usage of other organs of state power can be used for the leverage of the liberation struggles and for a socialist project too. In the last five years, the ANC-led democratic movement proved, through the 'delivery' of social services, that parliamentary involvement and effective participation therein can be a tool for fundamental transformation. 

Extra-Parliamentary Engagement
This approach can in the main, especially in the South African context, be used where the democratic movement has not won an overwhelming majority. The cases in point will be the Western Cape and KZN. This type of engagement would strengthen the 'hand' of our own deployees in those "opposition-dominated " legislatures as well as the efforts of national departments in ensuring "a better life for all" in those provinces. 

At another level it may well be critical that we revitalize alliance structures at all levels, and at the same time build their capacity in relation to policy debates and formulation. The past five years have actually been characterised by antagonistic policy debates within and between the alliance partners. And this poses a potential danger for the diversion of the alliance focus from the real areas of extra-parliamentary engagement. 

Intensification of our Struggle for Socialism
The question that we should ask ourselves as socialists and communists in the democratic movement is - how do we engage in a 'struggle' for our ideological hegemony in the alliance? 
One would agree with the CC resolution which identified political and ideological work (particularly amongst the organised working class under the banner of COSATU ) as the areas on which more effort should be focussed. The second and equally important element is to strengthen our organisational work. 

All this would ensure that the political consciousness of the working class and the allied classes and strata is developed to its fullest potential for a socialist offensive along side, and together with, the broad ANC-led movement. 

I would like to particularly encourage our legislators not to take advantage of any lack of capacity in policy engagements to pass unpopular policies. Rather, to enhance the development and implementation of capacity building programmes that gives rise to a dynamic interaction processes within, and between, alliance formations at all levels. 

Red Star Column

 - to the overwhelming majority of South Africans, who voted the ANC-led Alliance back into power and refused to succumb to the reactionary and negative politics of the "opposition". Despite the ups and downs of the last five years, combined with the incessant attacks from those in positions of economic power, the ANC-led Alliance presented South Africans with a message of hope that struck the right chord. Red Star trusts that the massive vote of confidence given to the ANC-led Alliance is now followed by the swift implementation of RDP-inspired policies, which speak directly to the interests of those same workers and poor who have given the ANC-led Alliance such a strong mandate. 

 - to Comrade Madiba, for serving the people of South Africa and the world (as President of the country and the ANC) with humility, commitment and principle. In a political life spanning the greater part of this century, Madiba has lived his life as a beacon of hope and humanity, in a country and world ravaged by the cynicism and inhumanity of racism and capitalist exploitation. Red Star celebrates his immense contribution as a leader and as a disciplined member of the liberation movement, and wishes Madiba a well-deserved "retirement". 

2 thumbs down - to the British government, the IMF and other greedy imperialists, for their moves to sell off gold reserves in an opportunistic attempt to provide "debt relief". Not only will such moves make little impact on any real debt relief, but it is clear they will further devastate the lives of tens of thousands of mine workers and their families. The rich capitalist countries and their global financial institutions must stop playing their silly, but tragic games with people's lives. Cancel all debts! 

1 thumb down - to the Independent Group of newspapers (owners of The Star, Sunday independent, Natal Witness, Cape Argus, amongst others), for their conscious misrepresentation of people's attitudes towards socialism in their country-wide,"Reality Check" survey. Despite the results of the survey showing that the majority of South Africans support a host of socialist economic measures, the Independent Group chose to deliberately present these findings as a "rejection of socialism". While we expect the Group, as a private corporation, to push a capitalist agenda, we certainly should not accept it manipulative and disingenuous attempts to twist the truth. 

  Political Education

The National Democratic Revolution (Part 2) 

Our Vision of Socialism

The Alliance has been given a fresh mandate as a result of the overwhelming electoral victory of the ANC. The vast majority of South Africans have sent a clear message - they want a thorough-going transformation of economic and social relations, not some tinkering with the status quo. We therefore face the critical challenge of translating our vision of socialism within an unfolding NDR into a practical agenda for transformation. In other words, we have been enjoined to give real content to our slogan - BUILD PEOPLE"S POWER, BUILD SOCIALISM NOW! 

What is socialism?
Socialism is a transitional social system between capitalism (and other systems based on class oppression and exploitation) and a fully classless, communist society. The socialist transition may well be of long duration. The transition may also be marked by contradictions, stagnation and major reverses. History is never a smooth process, nor does it have a guaranteed outcome. 

Socialism requires working class hegemony, and it is characterised by four core features: 

  • Democracy
  • Equality
  • Freedom, and The socialisation of the predominant part of the economy. 

Each of these core features is important, and they are all interrelated and interdependent. 

Socialism stands for the radical deepening and extension of democracy into all spheres of society. Socialism is not about the abolition of those aspects of political democracy (one person one vote, regular multi-party elections, a bill of rights, a justiciable constitution, and independent judiciary, etc.) which are sometimes (and inaccurately) referred to as "bourgeois" democracy. In South Africa, we have fought long and hard for the realisation of these basic democratic rights. It was popular struggle that achieved the democratic breakthrough of April 1994. Democracy was not bestowed from above by the bourgeoisie. We shall fight to defend these gains, and we are not seeking to abolish them in the name of some higher socialist "model" of democracy. But these democratic achievements will be largely formal if we do not move beyond the April 1994 breakthrough to a broad advance and deepening of democracy in every sphere of our society, to embrace a wide range of representative, participatory and direct democracy institutions and practices. This, inevitably, will carry us into conflict with the capitalist class. 

Socialism is also about equality. We seek to abolish the huge differences in income, wealth, power and opportunity that characterise capitalist societies. In espousing egalitarianism we are not arguing for a mechanical, and enforced "grey" uniformity between all individuals - as our opponents like to claim. We do not ignore that under socialism there will be a division of labour, and that a managerial function, for instance, will still have to be performed. Nor do we ignore the relative uniqueness of all individuals. People have different skills, aptitudes, tastes, aspirations, cultures and sexual preferences. It is capitalist inequality, marginalisation and commoditisation that stifle people's individuality. 

Thorough-going democracy and egalitarianism are also the basis of freedom. Advocates of capitalism talk a great deal about "free choice" and "individualism". But capitalism, with its immiseration of the overwhelming majority, greatly diminishes their real-life choices and opportunities. Socialism is about increasing, not decreasing, the individual and collective choices available to the majority of people. Socialism is about freedom from poverty and hunger, freedom from indignity and illiteracy, from the fear of joblessness, and the depredations of class, gender, race and ethnic oppression. 

Fourthly, and critically, socialism is about the socialisation of the predominant part of the economy. This is an essential condition for the achievement of thorough-going democracy, substantial equality and the expansion of freedom. This conviction is central to our strategic outlook. In the past, we tended to see socialism as nationalisation plus state planning. Socialisation of the economy is a much broader and qualitatively richer concept. It shifts the emphasis away from a simplistic concentration only on the legal forms of ownership, towards emphasising the real empowerment of working people. This empowerment of workers must include the increasing control over the powers of possession - that is, expanding workers' real ability to impact on work-place decisions, for instance on the organisation and management of the production process, product development, etc. And, increasing worker control over the social powers of economic ownership - that is increasing workers' power over decisions around the allocation of social surplus - investment policies, national budgetary priorities, etc. 

Clearly, legal ownership forms are one (but not the only) factor in achieving socialisation. Socialisation of the economy needs to embrace a wide range of social ownership forms, including: 

  • A predominant and varied public sector, with enterprises owned and managed by the central state, by provincial and municipal authorities. These public sector enterprises would need to be subject to various forms of democratic control, including the scrutiny of trade union, work-place forums, parliamentary committees, consumer councils, and the media. 
  • A significant and growing co-operative sector.
  • The active use of social capital - for instance, worker-controlled pension and provident funds. 

There will also be a private sector under socialism, mainly made up of small and medium enterprises, with an important role to play, notably, in the provision of goods and services. 

Planning and markets in a socialist economy
Modern capitalist economies cannot function without significant levels of government planning and coordination. Under socialism, with a predominant socialised sector, the possibilities of a much more effective and rational planning will be possible. The socialist government will set targets for key sectors of the economy - notably infrastructure and public utilities - and will plan for the provision of training, education and other services. Planning will be subject to a variety of democratic processes, including negotiation. It will also be subject to regular assessment and adjustments. 

Markets will continue to have an important regulating and distributive function in a socialised economy, but they will not have the ultimate say. Significant areas of society will need to be wholly or substantially decommodified (that is, substantially removed from the market-place). Such areas would include much of health-care, education, public housing, posts, communications, urban public transport, water, electricity, and significant sectors of culture. This does not mean that services, for instance, will not have to be paid for (directly or indirectly through taxation, for instance). It does mean that their price and distribution will not be determined by sheer market forces. 

Socialism is the future
A socialist democracy is a society in which 

  • The socialised sector of the economy is predominant,
  • Democratic, rational planning is increasingly possible,
  • A democratic culture and practices reach deeply into every sphere of social life; and in which
  • There is a substantial equality in income, wealth, power and opportunities for all its citizens, and thus a growing freedom for all. 

Such societies, and only such societies, will be able to face up adequately to the enormous challenges of the new millennium. Critical among these challenges is the growing vulnerability of the earth's environment. Without the planned, rational, equitable and sustainable use of our globe's resources, the physical survival of humanity itself is at risk. It is a socialist democracy and not the casino economy of capitalism that can lay the only effective basis for addressing challenges of this kind. 

Building Blocks for Socialism Now!

Socialism for the SACP and COSATU is not just a vision, an ideal located in some distant future of which we can only dream. We seek actively to build capacity for socialism, momentum towards socialism, and elements of socialism, here and now. This is why we say: Build Socialism Now! But what, in practice, does this mean? There are several dimensions: 

  • Advancing, deepening and defending the NDR - building people's power is not a separate task from the struggle for socialism in the present. Building people's power builds capacity and momentum for, and elements of socialism.
  • Rolling back the market - the decommodification of basic needs - health-care, education, housing, the environment, culture and information should not primarily be commodities. The SACP is committed to struggle against the overbearing supremacy of the market which seeks to turn everything into a commodity, and all of us into simple buyers and sellers. We must struggle for the decommodification of increasing spheres of society. 
  • Transforming the market - the decommodification of key areas of our society does not mean abolishing the market altogether, but rather the rolling back of its empire. Insofar as markets continue to be an important regulator of distribution, we must also engage with them. Markets are not some "neutral" reality, and there is no such thing as a "free market". Present markets reflect the accumulated class power of capitalists. We need to intervene with collective social power on the market to challenge and transform the power relations at play within it. Struggles to transform market power relations include:  

    ~ developing an active labour market - strengthening the power of trade unions, skills training and adult basic education. These are all measures which change, to some extent, the terms on which workers confront capitalists on the labour market. 
    ~ the effective use of state subsidies, tendering policies, regulatory controls, and the use, on the market, of public sector corporations to transform and democratise markets. 
    ~ the establishment of effective consumer negotiating forums and watch-dog bodies, and the re-introduction of more effective Rent Boards. 

    * Socialising the ownership function - we have already noted the several ways in which the ownership function must be socialised: 
    ~ building a strong public sector in the context of fostering a national democratic, development state; 
    ~ fostering an extensive co-operative sector; 
    ~ assuming much more effective strategic worker control over social capital (like pension and provident funds) 

* Socialising the management function - again, in other sections, we have elaborated on this. Socialising the management function includes: 
~ in the public sector struggling against bureaucratic, but also new public management/neo-liberal managerialism, and ensuring that we develop a public sector managerial ethos that is attuned to our political and developmental agenda. 
~ in the private sector ensuring that the monopoly of management is not one-sidedly dominated by profit-seeking objectives. The effective use of work-place forums, and safety-committees are among the ways in which the management function can be socialised from the bottom up. 

The struggle to build socialism now is, in short, deeply connected to the struggle to empower working class and popular forces. Neither national liberation nor socialism are events that are delivered to the people. They are, rather, ongoing processes of popular and working class self-emancipation. 

Build People's Power!
Build Socialism Now!

Organising Update

Successful Party Activities and Challenges Ahead

In our effort to keep readers abreast of the organising activities and plans of the Party, Umsebenzi will offer occasional 'ORGANISING UPDATES". In this issue, our newly appointed National Organiser, SOLLY MAPAILA, gives a perspective on the SACP's Red Thursday and Chris Hani events and outlines some of the organisational challenges that lie ahead. 

The Red Thursday and the Chris Hani commemoration events were perhaps the most outstanding identifiable events organised by the Party during the recent elections campaign. These events saw many Party activists and supporters publicly declaring their aspirations for socialism. The events proved that the SACP has the ability to put organisational muscle behind any campaign. The Red flag was flown, with the dignity it deserves, and the response from the general public and workers in particular was heartening. At the forefront of the success of these events were the many volunteers - who contributed greatly to the necessary ground-work and excitement surrounding the events. 

Communists came out in large numbers to support both events, proudly hoisting the red flag high and singing their revolutionary songs of solidarity with pride and conviction. These are the new cadres of our Party - workers, professionals, youth and unemployed masses. They braved the wet conditions and the chilly weather to reach out to people, in particular the workers, to express commonality and solidarity. 

Organisational suggestions
The success of these important events, besides contributing to the overwhelming victory of the ANC-led Alliance, should energise all cadres for the struggles that lie ahead. It is in this spirit, that the following organisational guidelines are offered: 

  • All provinces to convene not less than two political schools per annum. From the beginning of November to year-end, we hope to see more political schools organised. Political induction should be conducted in all structures. A subsequent monitoring mechanism should be devised to evaluate the future impact thereof. 
  • The organisational administration is by itself an act of revolutionary duty and therefore can not be seen in isolation from the primary objective of building socialism. Thus our administration is an important political work which should not be divorced from being integrated into the whole revolutionary socialist project. Thus, some skills development and empowerment programmes should be attempted to boost our current efforts.
  • The current rate of growth of the Party, particularly in rural areas, necessitates that we begin the demarcation of some districts into better manageable structures - to be more efficient and serviceable, without infringing on constitutional stipulations.
  • Provinces should begin to look seriously into the idea of establishing complete organising departments. As time goes on, we can duplicate this at district level - perhaps with full-time organisers at those levels.
  • We need to show creativity in raising funds for self sufficiency. We should stop relying on other "samaritans" to assist us.
  • There should be a continuous and introspective evaluation of our performance at all levels of the organisation. This will assist us in detecting problems earlier, and be able to regularly monitor performance 
  • We need aggressive methods to distribute our media, as demand increases. As the Party gets closer to the workers and the rural poor, we will need a revolutionary media that serves to conscientise, not only the reader, but the ordinary people who read our messages. Putting on our t-shirts is one fulfillment of such duties. 
  • The Party Programme must be sustained, without falling into being too event orientated. The Party's presence must be felt - its activities based on the daily aspirations of the people, as we represent them on bread and butter issues and play a more civic role. 

The debit order campaign
We would like to suggest that a special day(s) in the month of July be set aside as a special Debit Order day (s). This is in addition to July being declared - DEBIT ORDER MONTH. 

The debit order campaign (alias the "Party war of emancipation against financial chains"), is being waged on all fronts by spirited Party activists. This is the life and blood of the Party and comrades must understand that. The campaign has so far been very successful, and it has demonstrated our ability to achieve specific goals that we set. We are quite enthralled by the response of people, who continue to fill in the debit order forms. Party cadres must continue the good work begun by the District Organisers, with the longer-term aim of having full-time organisers at every level of the Party. 

Consolidating the agenda for socialism
The building blocks to construct socialism should be part of a process that is visible. These should be translated into visible campaigns, touching on the daily lives of our people. We must not be shy to be among the poor when they cry for shelter and delivery of services. Perhaps more often and openly, we need to publicly pronounce on our intentions, and the means, to build socialism. Let the Party be the buzzword of social consciousness, of concern for the poor and the working class in particular. Let it be the voice of progress. All of this is possible if Party activists grasp the challenges facing the country and are at the forefront of struggles to eradicate illiteracy, engage young people in youth service programmes initiated by government (the youth brigades), fight crime and HIV/AIDS and job creation programmes. 

The most important shorter-term task is, perhaps, what we have emphasised all along - the need for an intensified political education compulsory to all members of the Party, including leaders. We must remember that leadership is not ceremonial attendance of meetings or events but active participation in collective planning and execution of tasks with other comrades. This is primarily what separates us from the rest of ordinary activists and makes us communists, our attitude to work and willingness to do mass work at ground level. 

A Peoples Public Sector
Transforming legislatures into tribunes of the people 

Umsebenzi introduces a new, irregular column entitled "A People's Public Sector" that will focus on activities and challenges at all levels of the public sector. We hope that Party cadres who are in the public sector will contribute their experiences and perspectives, and make this column an important source of information and debate for all readers. Here, SACP Deputy General Secretary and National MP, JEREMY CRONIN, argues that the ANC-alliance election landslide of June 2 must now be used as a platform to speed transformation. One critical area must be the legislatures - the National Assembly, National Council of Provinces, and Provincial Legislatures. 

In the National Assembly (NA) there are three new realities: 

  • The ANC has an even bigger majority - two-thirds, in fact, with the presence of the Minority Front delegate in the ANC caucus;
  • A fragmentation of opposition parties, there are now 13 parties represented in the NA, and there is little unity among the various right opposition parties;
  • A new official opposition in the shape of the Democratic Party, taking over much of the constituency of the National Party and Freedom Front, but with ambitions to engage parliament in a more robust oppositionist manner. 

Taken together, these new factors might serve as a temptation for the ANC-alliance to use parliament as a battering ram to drive through government policy - especially when faced with a shrill, arrogant, neo-liberal DP. The battering ram temptation must be avoided. In general, the idea that elected legislatures are simply rubber stamps for the executive is wrong. But, also, specifically, one reason for the growth of a party like the DP is that, in certain quarters, it has successfully presented itself as the "leading overseer", as "the most robust checker and balancer" of government, supposedly speaking "on behalf of the broad public". 

The ANC-alliance must ensure that the role of oversight and of checking and balancing is not hijacked like this. In fact, it is we who have set in place a range of democratic institutions to assist, but also to regulate and oversee government - the Constitution, the Constitutional Court, the Public Protecter, the Human Rights, Youth, and Gender Equality Commissions, the Special Investigative Unit, and much more. There are also our own mass and community based formations, and our commitment to fostering an active and free media. 

The multi-party legislatures must be understood in this context. Parliament is not government (although we sometimes loosely refer to it like that). Parliaments are, or should be, institutions standing on the threshold between government and civil society. 

The national parliament in South Africa, and most of the provincial parliaments, are overwhelmingly ANC parliaments, and the alliance needs to work to ensure that these legislatures deepen their role as fearless public forums, as people's tribunes. 

What does that mean practically? Important challenges include: 

  • Progress in opening up the work of parliament to popular formations. COSATU, in the past five years, has developed an effective parliamentary office and presence. This experience must be extended and consolidated, through empowering CBOs, mass democratic formations and ordinary citizens to have greater information on and access to parliament. Parliament must not be accessible only to well-endowed business lobbies alone. 
  • Related to the above, there needs to be greater use of public hearings. In the final session of the last parliament, very successful public hearings were held into banking practices, and the ways in which low income earners were largely excluded from access to banks. The hearings mobilised a broad front of progressive perspectives. This kind of experience needs to be taken forward. 
  • Enhancing the constituency work of MPs and MPLs. Before the next elections, some thought will have to be given to the possibility of partly revising our electoral system. COSATU, for instance, has proposed that we move to a mix between proportional representation and constitutional representation - at present we operate a one hundred percent PR system. 

The progressive ongoing transformation of legislatures is part and parcel of the broader national democratic revolution. This particular challenge confronts those elected on June 2, but also all of us. 

The Environment
Toxic Waste: The Politics of Dumping 

As communists, we must admit that we have been guilty of paying scant attention to the key area of environmental sustainability. We are all too aware of the human and social destruction caused by capitalist globalisation. However, we have been slow to recognise, and act on, the massive environmental destruction that has resulted from capitalism's "free market" pursuit of profit and resources. Environmentally sustainable development is not feasible in a world dominated by capitalism. We must therefore, intensify the struggle for a safe, people-friendly and sustainable environment. In this context, Umsebenzi asked RICHARD SHERMAN, from the Group for Environmental Monitoring (GEM), to discuss the key issue of toxic waste. 

In the aftermath of huge toxic disasters such as those witnessed in the developed world in the 1980's, many northern governments responded by adopting costly regulations for the disposal of hazardous wastes. To avoid these regulations in their home countries, many waste generators opted for a much cheaper and easier way to dispose of their hazardous waste. They simply exported their waste to other countries. The recipient countries were mostly in the developing world, where there are less stringent environmental legislation and compliance. In 1991, an internal memo of then World Bank Chief Economist Lawrence Summers was leaked to the world press. In the memo, Summers states that: 

  • " the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to the fact that ... under-populated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted." 

This approach was to become a key strategy for northern industry in their efforts to avoid the costs of reducing dangerous pollution. 

The developed world produces over 300 million metric tons of hazardous waste each year. Considering that there is no safe hazardous waste disposal method yet invented, the problem arises when companies have to dispose of their waste. If it is dumped in landfills or storage pits, poisons inevitably leak out and contaminate underground water tables and impact on air quality, or if it is burned it leaves a toxic residue and emits hazardous gases. Since 1986, more than 1 000 attempts to export waste all over the globe have been documented. The classes of wastes range from sewage sludge to medical waste to radioactive to industrial incinerator ash to banned and outdated pesticides. Toxic waste deals have resulted in the dumping of thousand of tons of hazardous waste in places as diverse as Koko, Nigeria, Cato Ridge, South Africa, Beirut, Lebanon and Bangkok, Thailand. 

In such cases, waste dealers have confronted developing countries with hard choices. For example: Guinea Bissau was offered four times the country's GNP (twice its external debt) in exchange for accepting 15 million metric tons of foreign industrial waste. While Guinea Bissau refused the offer, the example highlights the unfair position facing developing countries - that of having to make a difficult choice between poison and poverty. In other examples northern industries have simply relocated to developing countries and established local industries to import and process waste for the developed world. The temptation and the quick fix economic nature of the international waste trade proved too much for the National Party government temptations. At the Thor Chemicals factory, outside Cato Ridge in KwaZulu Natal, three warehouses stand full of drums of toxic mercury waste. The waste was imported in the 1980's by the apartheid government and originates mainly from the USA, but also from Britain, Singapore and Indonesia. More than 2 500 drums of mercury waste was shipped to Thor Chemicals between 1991 and 1994. Outside the plant is a toxic dam containing 2 500 tons of contaminated sludge. Research has indicated that the levels of mercury found in the Umgeni River about 50 km from Thor, are 1000 times higher than the World Health Organisation's standards. 

The international waste trade also reflects the social and economic imbalance between importer and exporter. Since there is a very close correlation between income levels (read consumption levels) and pollution levels, it is not surprising to discover that those who've been making the mess are also those who have been making the money. The production of hazardous waste and their ultimate fate is but one symptom of an inherently unjust system both locally and globally, which results in the privileged being able to accumulate excess goods, squander resources and displace the pollution problems on those who can least afford them. If these wastes are too dangerous to dump in highly industrialised countries, certainly they must be too dangerous to dump in the developing world, where in most cases governments lack the adequate capacity to ensure effective environmental monitoring, protective equipment, emergency response and health care. 

Within this context, it has been difficult to get the developed world to agree on controlling their waste exports. After a series of notorious "toxic cargoes" from industrialized countries drew public attention to the dumping of hazardous wastes in developing and East European countries, a unique coalition of developing countries, environmental groups and European countries succeeded in achieving agreement on ban on the waste trade. The BASEL Convention entered into force in May 1992 and now has 123 signatories. Once ratified by 62 member states, it will go into force and will become international law. Of significant importance to South Africa, is the recognition that environmentally sound waste management is an important part of the Convention and forms the very basis of the waste export ban. However, the overarching objective of the BASEL Convention is to reduce the generation of hazardous wastes to a minimum . This is undoubtedly the most effective way of protecting human health and the environment. 

In the age of globalisation, trade issues, especially those regulated under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), are gaining greater precedent over social and human agendas . This will ultimately lead to a situation whereby people and the environment will be regarded as commodities that are bought and sold by the rich and powerful. In the final analysis, the ultimate market incentive remains unchanged - profit. Those who stand to gain from exploiting loopholes and the weakness of international agreements, have no motive to abandon their markets and technologies. Some northern governments and business organisations are still trying to overturn, circumvent or undermine the full implementation of the BASEL Ban. The short-term profits from hazardous waste generating activities depend on the possibility of avoiding the disposal costs by exporting them. As long as the generators of hazardous waste are not being held responsible for their waste, they will never reduce its generation. They persist in turning a blind eye on the very causes of the hazardous waste crisis: their very own production technologies that generate hazardous waste. The same is true for local industries, government and consumers. 

It is difficult to assess just how much hazardous waste is imported into SA, or how much is produced here, and what happens to it? The lucrative nature of the waste market, combined with ineffective legislation and insufficient human resources to control the movement of hazardous wastes, makes it easy for illegal operators to exploit the system. Historically, South Africa was absent from the African front line which forged a strong wall of resistance in the 1980's, and in fact led the world in calling for a global ban on the waste trade. It is now time that South Africa takes a role in showing the world that developing countries can meet their people's basic needs with out poisoning the air, water and workplace. 

(*Sources: Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, Greenpeace International, BASEL Action Network) 


Activists Halt Dangerous Toxic Waste Incineration

Mozambican environmental and community activists have succeeded in halting a controversial Danish-funded project to burn obsolete pesticides at a cement factory in Matola, just outside the capital of Maputo. 

In developed countries, toxic waste incineration is considered dangerous because, even under optimum safety conditions, cancer-causing compounds (dioxin and furans) are released into the air and into the food chain, while the surrounding population risks contamination. 

As news of the project appeared in the local press, a pressure group of green activists and residents sprang up to fight it. They called for an independent environmental study, which was carried out earlier this year. The study criticised Danida for not considering less risky and less polluting options to incineration. The study also criticised the place chosen to store the pesticides the site was contaminated by previous hazardous storage, was not de-contaminated, and sits in the middle of houses, shops and factories. Toxic leakage could filter into water pipes and the underground water table. Many of the drums used to store the toxic waste leak and are unlabelled, some have exploded with heat and, because of poor security, neighbours can obtain drums to carry water. 

The Mozambican Ministry for environmental coordination (MICOA) has agreed to a second study and to have its results discussed in public meetings in Matola and Maputo. Its position is that Mozambique needs to develop a national capacity to deal with toxic waste. On 15 May, about 60 community leaders, church people and neighbours debated a plan of action, from setting up neighborhood committees to street demonstrations. 

The project is on hold until the ministry makes a decision. 


The Rich Man's Burden
Take up the Rich Man's burden-- 
Send forth the best ye breed 
To sell your captives products 
regardless of their need; 
To wait, in heavy harness, 
on bosses far away-- 
So that your corporate masters 
can save on workers' pay.  Take up the Rich Man's burden-- 
In patience to disguise, 
To veil the threat of terror 
With media that lies 
By double-speak and symbol, 
To serve your Bosses' gain, 
To seek your Masters' profit 
And cause your captives pain. 

Take up the Rich Man's burden-- 
The savage Wars of Peace-- 
Kill, maim, explode, and torture, 
to make the violence cease; 
And when your goal is nearest 
(the growth of markets sought) 
Watch unemployed consumers 
bring all your hopes to naught. 

Take up the Rich Man's burden-- 
No iron rule of kings, 
But rule of Corporations 
that Globalism brings. 
Their ports ye shall not enter, 
Their rugs ye shall not tread, 
Go, serve them for your living, 
Go, serve them 'til you're dead. 

Take up the Rich Man's burden, 
and reap his old reward-- 
Employment for the boring, 
TV shows for the bored-- 
The cry of other nations, 
on whom you force your plight 
Of quiet desperation 
With military might. 

Take up the Rich Man's burden-- 
Ye dare not hope for more-- 
Don't challenge ye the system 
That churns for greed and war. 
By all ye will or whisper, 
By all ye leave or do, 
Stay silent, sullen peoples, 
You've got your jobs to do. 

Take up the Rich Man's burden! 
Do not think for yourself! 
Obey the Bosses' orders-- 
Half devil and half elf! 
Work for the Rich Man's profit 
Die for the Rich Man's war; 
Take up the Rich Man's Burden 
And stay forever poor. 

Left Laughs

News Flash from the White House!!

Washington D.C. , USA: President Clinton announced today an all-out bombing offensive against England will begin in two weeks, unless a peace accord is ratified by England and its break-away province Northern Ireland. "Using the fine logic we crafted in the Kosovo intervention, we have decided to add, incrementally, to the list of peace initiatives around the world", he said in a prepared statement. 

A background briefing indicated that on a weekly schedule, the Clinton administration would intervene in the following areas: 

Week one - bombing of England to free Northern Ireland 
Week two - bombing of Ankara, Baghdad and Tehran to free the Kurds 
Week three - bombing of several random African countries to stop 'ethnic cleansing' 
Week four - bombing of both Istanbul and Athens to solve the Cyprus problem 
Week five - bombing of Guatemala City to free the indigenous Indian population 
Week six - bombing of Madrid to free the Basque country 
Week seven - bombing of Jakarta to free East Timor 
Week eight - bombing of Canberra to free Aboriginal people 
Week nine - bombing of Washington D.C. to free the Confederate of Southern states, held captive for 139 years 

"This schedule will do until we can come up with others", said Madelaine Albright, US Secretary of State. 
She did not respond when asked when the bombing of Beijing in order to free Tibet would occur. 

THE QPSAT (Quick Political Scholastic Aptitude Test) 

This test consists of one (1) multiple choice question (so you better get it right). Here's a list of the countries that the US has bombed since the end of World War II:   

China (1945-46) Vietnam (1961-73)
Korea (1950-53) Cambodia (1969-70
China (1950-53) Guatemala (1967-69)
Guatemala (1954) Grenada (1983)
Indonesia (1958)Libya (1986)
Cuba (1959-60) El Salvador (1980s)
Guatemala (1960)Nicaragua (1980s)
Congo (1964) Panama (1989)
Peru (1965) Iraq (1991-present)
Laos (1964-73) Sudan (1998)
Afghanistan (1998) Yugoslavia (ongoing) 

Question: In how many of these instances did a democratic government respectful of human rights, occur as a direct result? Choose one of the following: 

a) 0 
b) zero 
c) none 
d) not a one 
e) zip 

Global Politics 

The need to Transform the United Nations (UN)    

A picture says a thousand words", and no more so than with this picture of Yugoslavian children holding a recovered US/NATO bomb casing. It is truly does say it all - an arrogant and dehumanising imperlialism for all to see. Not content with their campaign to bomb a soveregin state back into the stone-age, the United States of Imperialism wants to strip all sense of huminity from its victims. This is the real face of the "free market" democracy, "human rights" concerns and capitalist globalisation that is ravaging our globe!

One of the imperatives to emerge from the imperialist war against Yugoslavia is the need to transform the UN writes DALE T. McKINLEY. Not only has the UN failed to enforce its own resolutions and represent the interests of the vast majority of nations, but is in danger of becoming a limp tool of a US-led imperialism. Sidelined to political posturing while powerful member states consistently violate its Charter and Mission, the UN seems to have become preoccupied with facilitating the interests of international corporate capital under the pretext of concern for "democracy and human rights". 

The United Nations (UN) has, in recent years, undergone a certain transformation. However, it is not the kind of transformation that progressive nations and social forces have been struggling for over the past few decades. Instead of an international organisation committed to peace, economic justice across nations, social and cultural inclusivity and redressing the increasing imbalances in the ownership and distribution of wealth, the UN is fast becoming the "NGO wing" of international corporate capital, seemingly helpless in the face of big-power political manipulation. 

It is clear that the leadership of the UN has already decided that the world needs a heavy dose of capitalist neo-liberalism. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has openly called for a partnership to be forged between the UN and global business. Such a call has been rationalised by the need to deal with the huge backlash against economic globalization that is sweeping the globe. Annan has made it clear that international corporate capital needs to work with the UN to find ways to operate in a "responsible manner" in the developing world. Speaking to corporate leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland earlier this year, Annan stated: "Unless [human rights, labor rights and environmental] values are really seen to be taking hold, I fear we may find it increasingly difficult to make a persuasive case for the open global market". 

Confirming the ideological bent of the "new" UN, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Secretary General, Maria Cattaui, announced in a speech to South African business in May, that the ICC and the UN Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) were working on investment guidelines for several African countries. These "guidelines" would provide assistance to investment promotion agencies and government officials responsible for investment. Cattaui went on to advocate the need for a (widely discredited) Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), especially since it was "in the interests of the developing world". Indeed, the ICC and the UN have resolved to form "partnerships" so that they can "work jointly to expand economic opportunities, especially in countries which may face marginalization." No hidden agenda here! 

As if this were not enough to convince the most optimistic advocates of support for the UN, newly released documents reveal proposals for the establishment a Global Sustainable Development Facility (GSDF), run through the offices of the UN Development Programme. According to political economists Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman, the GSDF is a "fuzzily defined program that seeks to promote corporate investment in sustainable projects in the world's poorest countries. The goal, according to UN officials, is to capture the 'positives' of multinational corporations (technology, resources, expertise) and to help promote experimental, innovative, replicable projects that integrate marginalized populations into the global economy. UN officials say they hope to see the GSDF function as a kind of consulting firm" to international corporate capital. 

Mokhiber and Weissman go on to point out that the GSDF "has picked shockingly poor corporate candidates for its partnership efforts. Most notable is Rio Tinto, a UK-based mining giant which has compiled a stunning record of violating the very human rights, labor and environmental principles the GSDF is designed to promote. Other dubious corporate partners in the GSDF program include Dow Chemical, Citibank and Asea-Brown Boveri, a Swiss-Swedish company which is helping to build some of the most controversial large dams in the world." 

This "new", corporate-friendly UN is a distant cry from the kind of United Nations that many Third World countries were struggling for in the 1970s and 1980s. Then, the UN was a battleground for the establishment of a New International Economic Order that sought to economically empower developing countries and transfer technology from international corporate capital. If it wasn't before, it is now clear that this battle has been lost. 

We now witness the barbarities of capitalist globalisation being further facilitated by the very international organisation ostensibly designed to pursue political equality and economic justice among nations. The complete impotence of the UN in the midst of the criminal US-NATO aggression against the sovereign state of Yugoslavia unfortunately, confirms that the UN now stands as a potential enemy of the vast majority of the world's population in the developing nations. 

It is time for all progressives to face up to this fact and begin to struggle, once again, for ownership of a truly United Nations. As Mokhiber and Weissman state, "for the UN, the goal should not be partnership (with international corporate capital and US imperialism), but independence. Its crucial role should be to help counteract the immense power of 
multinationals in an increasingly globalized and corporatized economy -- one that is creating unparalleled material wealth but is systematically pushing billions of people into economic despair.
 International News Briefs

Capitalist profiteering from the destruction of Yugoslavia

  • Corporate and financial capital is making a killing (literally) on Yugoslavia. As the bombs have rained down on the people and infrastructure of the Balkans, the main centre of capitalist speculation, the Dow Jones stock exchange in the USA has skyrocketed - jumping nearly 10% since the beginning of the year. Likewise, corporate profits, which had been expected to decline or stagnate in the first half of this year, have increased 18% for the largest 100 US corporations overt his same period. A statement from the Business Council (a body representing the top executives of monopoly capital) captured the buoyant mood: " This is really the best of times... I don't think anyone (here) has seen better times." 
  • The US military-industrial complex has seen its order books filled, in direct proportion to the ever-increasing destruction of Yugoslavia. As if this were not enough, the US Congress recently passed an 'emergency appropriation" of US$13 billion to pay for the imperialist war, most all of which will find its way into the coffers of the US corporate world. And the cherry on top of the cake - most of this public money will be taken from the budgets of Social Security and other public monies designated for education, health, poverty and hunger programmes.! 

    The Israeli elections - what next?

    In the recent Israeli elections, Ehud Barak of the Labour Party succeded in ousting the right-wing incumbent, Binyamin Netanyahu by a fairly wide margin of votes. At the same time, there were major gains for the centre-right religious Shas party and smaller gains for other minor parties representing a wide range of social forces in Israeli society. Many left observers, while welcoming the defeat of Netanyahu, have pointed out that Barak's victory will not necessarily guarantee progress on the key issue of Palestianian statehood. They point out that the two main priorities for Barak and his new coalition government, which includes the Shas party, will be: i) pulling the Israeli army out of the mess in south Lebanon (leaving Syria to "clean up") and; ii) rebuilding a national concensus in Israel (by trying to bring the disparate domestic social forces together). The potential price for this approach is acceptance of the three "No's" - no to the dismantling of Israeli settlements, no to Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem and no to a withdrawal to pre-1967 cease-fire lines. It remains to be seen exactly how Barak will go about balancing the various demands from within, and outside Israel. Even more central, will be the response of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and other Arab states in the region. The volatile politics of the Middle East is not about to disappear. 

    Is there a "hidden agenda" behind the Ethiopia-Eritrea war?

    Most mainstream media reports of the ongoing war between Ethiopia and Eritrea have described the battles as a "border war" over disputed territory. However, mounting evidence now suggests that the continuation of the war is more the result of a Tigrayan ethno-regionalism - the attempt of a small component of the multi-ethnic Ethiopian state to assert itself, at the expense of both Eritrea and other nationalities in Ethiopia itself. After overthrowing the Mengistu regime in 1991, the Eritreans and Tigrayans (in the form of the EPLF and TPLF respectively) went their separate ways - the EPLF setting up the new Eritrean state and the TPLF taking over power in Addis Ababa. But, the TPLF, which now dominates the Ethiopian state, proceeded to publish a new "political map" of Tigray that incorporated some of the territories over which the two states are now at war, including access to the sea through the only route available - Eritrea. Reports now indicate that the dominant Tigrayans are using a pan-Ethiopian discourse to mobilise hundreds of thousands of peasants and poorly trained soldiers in an attempt to achieve this "hidden agenda" - with devastating human and ecological consequences.

Global and Regional Neo-liberalism:

The Silent Tragedy in Zambia 

As South Africa grapples with an increasingly arrogant imperialism and domestic capital that demand 'liberalisation' and an unfettered 'free market', serious political choices will have to be made. We would do well to pay close attention to what has happened in our northern neighbour - Zambia - in order to see the consequences of making the wrong choices. In the first of a 2-part series, the exiled General Secretary of the Zambian Democratic Congress, AZWELL BANDA, details the "silent" tradegy taking place in Zambia. 

The social tragedy
Bwalya Mulenga has some good news to smile about. He has heard that the ANC led Alliance has won, convincingly, the elections in South Africa. His heart warms up. Memories of the good old days when Zambia was home to revolutionary movements in the region floods his mind. He recalls how Africa and the anti-imperialist world respected Zambia and its leader - Kenneth Kaunda. "So," he muses to himself, "Maybe Tabo Mbeki and the ANC can do something for the poor people of this region. After all, Kaunda used to say Africa would never be free - socially and economically - for as long as our brothers and sisters on the African continent in general and South Africa in particular continued to suffer under the yolk of colonialism and apartheid." 

Suddenly, something dangerous and long dead in him is stirred -hope. 

Mulenga has been out of employment for four years now. He was "retrenched" from one of the state owned enterprises. The enterprise - ZCBC - a consumer retail outlet, had branches throughout the country and employed more than 30 000 workers. It closed down because no investor bought it. Some 70% of state enterprises, after 1991 when Mr. Chiluba took over from Kaunda, went the same way. Mulenga's wife finally succumbed to death last year, after struggling against the AIDS virus and grinding poverty for four years. This year, two of his children have died in the cholera outbreak which has claimed more than 9 000 lives in the past five months (official estimates). One child, a University of   Zambia fourth year law student, has gone out to look for piecework. His last child, seven-year-old Chilufya, even in her sleep shows the entire classic signs and symptoms of acute malnutrition. Mulenga will never understand how she has survived this last cholera epidemic. She spends most of her days sleeping as her school was forced to close because it had no water. Hunger of course ensures that she no longer can play with her friends. 

The landlord has given Mulenga the seventh "last warning" before forced eviction this year. The first three occasions Mulenga was spared because he was in mounring. On the earlier four occasions, he swapped what little propoerty the family still had for part payment of rent. Now they have nothing. Besides his two surviving children, Mulenga's household includes seven other relatives who have fled poverty from his village, and four members of his wife's family who never went back home after the burial of Mulenga'' wife. These days Mulenga no longer wonders how his household survives. That is a luxury very few Zambians enjoy today. 

Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP)
After ten years of fanatical pursuance of the IMF/World Bank/Donor imposed SAP, Zambia is now an excellent candidate for entry into the club of very poor, heavily indebted nations on earth. These nations are now immorally classified by the IMF and World Bank as Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC). This dishonorable status, ironically, can only be achieved when, among other conditions, a country consistently, and with religious zeal, adheres to the conditionalities imposed by the SAP for a period of not less than seven years. Afterwards, such a nation is assumed to have joined the world of "free market" nations. This neo-liberal economic fundamentalism which preaches the doctrine of greed as a holy virtue, free market forces as "God's will" on earth, competition as commandment, and the pure pursuit of profit as the sole route to national salvation has successfully created conditions for genocide in Zambia. 

In the region today, Zambia has the most privatised, liberalised, deregulated and decontrolled free market economy. Yet, it continues to receive very insignificant levels of real direct foreign investment. 

Zambia may appear not to be a fit candidate for genocide. A critical look at the socio-economic crisis in Zambia today proves beyond doubt why Zambia is ripe for genocide. 

Mr. Chiluba's response to the social, economic and political crises generated by his own reckless fundamentalist adherence to neo-liberalism are frightening. The Republican Constitution remains amended to ensure that his greatest political threat (real or perceived), Dr Kaunda, cannot stand in any presidential elections. In 1997 police almost killed Kaunda in an apparent assassination attempt on his life. A few weeks ago, the Zambian High Court finally performed the impossible - they declared Kaunda a stateless man, effectively saying he is not a Zambian. There is a vicious dispute over the voters' register in Zambia. Apart from Mr. Chiluba's party, there is national consensus that the process of preparing new election registers in 1996 was tailored to guarantee Mr.Chiluba permanent electoral victories. Registration for the alliance of progressive parties has been denied. 

These political maneuvers, combined with the loss of credibility in the plethora of petty-bourgeois politicians and political institutions of the day have generated dangerous levels of political apathy among Zambian people. The last local government elections prove this point.A climate of fear and intimidation haunts the independent media, progressive opposition and civil society organisations. In Zambia, even in Chiluba's own party no one doubts Chiluba's viciousness. This was amply demonstrated after the botched military coup attempt in 1997. Ruthlessly, opposition politicians were detained and severely tortured. 

Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is in severe dole drums. It is split in the middle between the pro-Chiluba sycophants and those seeking to "de-link" labour from Chiluba. Chiluba continues to buy top union leaders to his side. Workers have never before in independent Zambia been so demoralized. A legal battle is raging for the presidency of the ZCTU in the High Court of Zambia. 

Under 27 years of the Kaunda era, Zambia attained a very high level of national unity and cohesion never achieved elsewhere on the African continent. Chiluba has sqaundered all of that. He now solidly relies on his Northern and Luapula province "ethnic base" for loyalty and support. It is estimated thatmore than 80% of key and strategic political and economic power is in the hands of his "ethnic comrades". Zambians are grumbling. This fact has led to heightened calls - particularly from the Western Province - for secession. 

Strange forms and high levels of hunger and poverty continue to feed a social crisis that threatens to explode at any time. Mulenga's story is the nature of life for more than 80% of Zambia's population. Zambia has never really been rich. But the nature, levels and intensity of poverty are new phenomena. If these are not genocidal signs, one wonders what led to the genocide in Rwanda? 

Zambians are unanimous on the question of the historical roots of the country's indebtedness. Kaunda borrowed heavily to finance infrastructure and social spending. Between 1971-1986, the fall in copper prices (Zambia has been a mono-economy heavily dependant on copper production - a colonial legacy) and sharp rise in oil prices wiped out the country's internal revenue base. In order to finance massive infrastructure and social development programmes, funds had to be secured form outside the country. Hence the formal entry into the world of perpetual indebtedness to Western imperialism and its institutions. 

Mr. Chiluba however, is borrowing heavily to finance the further entrenchment of the country into poverty and indebtedness. There is little or no meaningful social investment. Sadly, the country continues to pay-back monies borrowed in order to borrow to finance a debt it cannot liquidate. In the last 10 years the external debt has been stuck at US$7billion. 

Copper mines
Zambia has been a copper producing mono-economy since independence. A disaster is looming in the Copper Belt Province of Zambia where the privatisation programme of the mines has been disasterously managed. Strikes have become the order of the day. Several mines have been closed. No serious long-term investor has emerged to buy the key mines. Total collapse of the key remaining mines is imminent. Almost all the sold mines have been disposed of, at ridiculously low prices. Corruption has been the order of the day during the privatization process. 

The net result of all these neo-liberal adventures in Zambia have been massive unemployment, poverty, sharp increase in violent crimes and prostitution, disorganization and disorientation of the labour movement, new forms of rural poverty and destitution, political apathy, national demoralization and the birth of a tiny parasitic urban political elite around Mr. Chiluba. 

Social legacy of SAP
Zambia has now become a classic example of how best to let the IMF/World Bank/Donor driven neo-liberal macroeconomic prescriptions ruin a Third World country. After 10 years of unholy worship and pursuit of neo-liberal macroeconomic reforms, the IMF, World Bank, the so-called Donor Community and even Mr. Chiluba have looked at the product of their handiwork and said, "SAP DOES NOT WORK!" 

Imperialism accused Kaunda of sabotaging SAP because of his half-hearted approach to the neo-liberal macro economic reforms. Therefore, there is no reason why Chiluba has failed. He has been a very faithful disciple of SAP. And the country is in ruins. Zambia is poised on the verge of a social upheaval, which will most certainly have far reaching repercussions for this region. 

Some interesting statistics about Zambia today illustrates this neo-liberal human disaster

  • In 1990, 27 to 30 Zambian Kwacha (Zambia's local currency) were equivalent to 1 US dollar. Today, you need between 2500 and 2800 to buy 1 US dollar (if you can find it).
  • In 1990, the unemployment rate stood roughly at 30% of the employable population. Today, this has shot upwards of 69%.
  • In 1990, Zambia's total national debt stood at about US7 billion dollars. 10 years down the line, this debt which has consistently been more than twice Zambia's GDP is almost constant, notwithstanding massive borrowing to repay it.
  • From around 54 years in the mid 80's, life expectance in Zambia today is around 34 years. Infant and child mortality rates have fallen to below 70% of the early achievements of the 80's. 
  • With a literacy rate of well over 85% in the 80's, this has fast dropped to around 55%. School attendance rates have fallen, with the girl-child being the greater victim. With the collapse of the formal employment sector, many women and girls have been thrown into the streets - into the so called unregulated informal sector selling small quantities of imported goods such as fruits, toys, plastic plates and in the evenings their bodies.
  • Massive job losses due to the collapse of the public sector under the onslaught of the privatization programme have blasted a trail of child prostitution, malnutrition and labour in Zambia. Falling state allocations to public health infrastructure has led to growing numbers of deaths at home, as sick unemployed people cannot afford the "cost sharing" arrangements now in place in clinics and hospitals in Zambia. 

In the meantime, the small clique of Zambia's ruling elite who surrounds Mr.Chiluba will be seen flying into South Africa's clinics, usually at the cost of the state.