Tell the truth, Derby-Lewis!
Red caps and T-shirts thickly sprinkled the crowd in Benoni Town Hall on June 23rd, and a right-wing block in the audience was quiet. Clive Derby-Lewis and Janusz Waluz, murderers of Chris Hani, had come to the TRC, with their amnesty application, on "political grounds."
The SACP members and their supporters rose to their feet at every adjournment, and held up their placards. They sang: "Derby-Lewis, you will die in jail if you don't tell the truth. Who told you to kill our comrades?"
That's what we want to know: who told them to kill Chris Hani? By what human chain of allies and supporters did a gun stolen from an army arsenal get into their hands? We need to find out as much as possible about right-wing networks, before Derby-Lewis and Waluz are cross-examined. We need to be sure that they are telling the full truth, as the TRC stipulates.
Some of the demonstrators' placards read, "With Hani's killers free, society is not safe." It's a principle of justice that dangerous criminals should be kept in custody to protect society. Derby-Lewis and Waluz have shown they are dangerous. They haven't said they regret what they did; they don't have to, to get amnesty. According to counsel for Mrs Hani and the SACP, they are still using "immoderate language" in referring to Hani.
If freed, they may well kill again, especially if they have a shadowy network of supporters still in place. Do more people have to die before these murderers are finally put away?
The court postponed the hearing, because of another mysterious circumstance.
Applicants' legal representatives are required to present exact copies of their documents to the court and to the opposition. Amazingly, it turned out in court that the bundles of documents presented weren't copies of each other at all. Arrangement, pagination, even content, were different; something that would have caused much confusion when cross- examination began. It's difficult to imagine how a legal firm could be capable of such a mistake.
Employment Standards Bill
A Basic floor of rights for workers
Employers don't want the new Employment Standards Bill. Through sixteen months of negotiation, business has delayed the passage of the Bill through NEDLAC, by disputing certain clauses proposed by COSATU.
COSATU is now avoiding further deadlock by calling for the NEDLAC report to be finalised, and submitting the Bill to Parliament, as it now stands. The SACP supports this move.
The Labour Relations Act of 1996 extended workers' legal rights to all areas of work, but its powers are limited, because at present there is very little law protecting workers'.
The Employment Standards Bill is intended to fill the gap, to provide what COSATU calls, "a floor of basic conditions of employment for all workers, including the unorganised and the vulnerable."
The SACP will support the Bill through Parliament. If Parliament passes it, some minimum standards - a "floor" - will then be in place.
There are still matters in dispute between COSATU and government. The first four are: maternity leave, working hours, extra pay for Sunday work, and a lower threshold age for child labour.
The crucial one is about "downward variations" in standards. This is the key question, because it makes the whole "floor" unsafe.
As the Bill stands, the Minister of Labour will be empowered to set aside any clause in the law, in consultation with the employers or the Employment Standards Commission, and will not have to negotiate with the unions. These are wide powers.
COSATU wants a firm law. It is not opposed to "upward variations" of standards in favour of the workers, but thinks "downward variations" should be decided in consultation with the unions. The necessary forums are already provided for in the Labour Relations Act.
Both the SACP and COSATU reject business attempts to instal a dual labour market, where some workers will have rights, while others will have no protection. Above all, we must not allow the employers to block the passage of the Bill.
The negotiations between COSATU and government must continue in parliament.
COSATU plans further industrial action, to send "a clear message to business that we are serious about our demands." On August 4th, from 10.00 to 11.00 hours, there will be an hour's stoppage for all workers. This will be followed by 24-hour strikes in specific regions, at intervals from August 4th to 21st.
GOODBYE, COMRADE, AND GOOD LUCK!
The Central Committee meeting on June 7th and 8th was chaired, for the last time, by Comrade Raymond Mhlaba, who has been National Chairman of the SACP since the National Congress in 1995.
A veteran of the early MK and of the Rivonia Trial, Comrade Mhlaba spent the years 1964- 1990 in gaol. From 1994 till this year, he was Premier of the Eastern Cape. He will now be taking up the role of High Commissioner to Uganda.
The CC wished our comrade well in his new and very important posting.
Deputy Chairperson Comrade Blade Nzimande will now serve as Acting Chairperson of the SACP until our National Congress in April 1998.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Mobuto Seseke's hour of reckoning has finally come. For three decades he has run the former Zaire as his personal fiefdom, with mismanagement and institutionalised corruption.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is rich in minerals. Now, the nation has been reduced to penury, while Mabuto, the Washington zombie, has grown rich.
The people's general, Laurent Kabile, and his revolutionary alliance, deserve our full support in their efforts to reconstruct the country.
We salute all those, including the late ANC President, Oliver Tambo, who contributed to the Congo Revolution.
Current Rumbu SACP Harry Gwala Branch Khayelitsha
Centaral Committee Meeting Critical arears and Strategic Decisions
This is a summary of the statement issued by the Central Committee after its meeting on June 7th and 8th.
- Government's Macro-Economic Policy Framework - GEAR
When GEAR was first unveiled in June 1996, the SACP CC reacted cautiously but constructively. We were unhappy with the closed technocratic process behind GEAR, and especially unhappy with the declaration that the policy was "non-negotiable". However, while voicing these concerns, we indicated a preparedness to engage constructively with GEAR. We believed that we needed to give the SACP a chance to understand and debate the proposals. We also believed that the proposals should be tested in practice.
One year on, there are signs that GEAR is failing to deliver. Growth is slowing down and will be below the envisaged 2,9% for the year. The very centrality of growth to GEAR calls the overall policy assumptions into question.
Even more seriously, it is clear that far from producing a modest growth in jobs, one year of GEAR sees jobs down by an estimated 1,3%.
The SACP is convinced that a thorough-going review of macro-economic policy is essential. Too much emphasis has been placed on creating an "investor-friendly climate" and hoping that the market will do the rest. It is not working, and it will not work.
Instead, the SACP proposes:
- Placing a coherent industrial policy at the centre of economic policy-making, and ensuring that macro-economic frameworks are subservient to an industrial policy, not vice versa.
- Greater emphasis on effective and more progressive taxation, targeting business. The often- repeated claim that "South Africa is one of the most heavily taxed societies" is simply wrong.
- Halting the unmandated drift into privatisation for its own sake. Certain
ministries are plunging ahead unilaterally with privatisation in the belief
that this will "send the right signal" to the markets. Once more,
we need to clarify our industrial policy before we dismantle the public
The Central Committee was briefed in detail by Minister Valli Moosa on recent developments, particularly in Bushbuckridge, and on the general background to these "border" disputes.
The Central Committee believes that emphasis must be shifted away from inter-provincial border disputes, which are typically fanned by the competing electoral and career concerns of political elites (often within our own movement), towards developmental questions. Often, the issue is an old bantustan border, whose purpose in the first place was to divide a "third world" township from a "white" town. Imaginative solutions must be found to this problem so that provincial boundaries do not block municipal level redistribution.
- International matters - Democratic Republic of Congo/Zaire, West Sahara and arms sales to Turkey
We saluted the positive role played by the South African government in the Democratic Republic of Congo/Zaire, enabling Africans to locate themselves at the centre of mediation efforts within our continent, and frustrating any temptation by French troops (or US troops) to intervene militarily into Zaire.
Sadly, this has not been matched by a similar effort in the occupation of the West Sahara by Morocco. As a result the US has for the moment successfully installed itself as the key mediator there. We call for activism by South Africa on the matter, and for South Africa to recognise the Democratic Republic of Sahara, as promised over one and a half years ago.
The Central Committee expressed concern at the lifting of the moratorium on arms sales to Turkey. This government announcement coincided with a renewed, genocidal offensive by Turkish troops against the Kurdish people in Turkey and in neighbouring Iraq. We are also concerned about the occupation of large parts of Cyprus by Turkish forces.
It's a matter of Red Stars and Thumbs Down
to the Potchefstrom Regional Court for handing down a long-overdue prison sentence of six years to that blustering right-wing fool, Eugene Terreblanche. Although Red Star thinks that Terreblanche deserves a much longer stay behind bars, we are glad that Terreblanche will be able to experience the new South Africa from a different angle. Who knows, maybe this little taste of people’s justice will turn him into a model citizen?
THREE THUMBS DOWN to the Democratic Party (DP) and the South African Chamber of Business (SACOB) for their elitist and anti-democratic efforts to oppose a redistribution of resources within the Greater Johannesburg Metro. While seeking to portray themselves as the champions of the “people” and “good government”, in reality, they are championing the cause of a small, wealthy constituency who want to entrench socio-economic inequalities in the name of “free enterprise”, so–called “equity” and privatisation. Red Star wishes to remind the DP and it’s big business allies that they can no longer have it both ways. Our new democracy means much more than milking the political space provided by the new dispensation – it means that a small minority can no longer hold the wishes and demands of the majority hostage to their narrow, self-serving agenda.
TWO THUMBS DOWN to the Ministry of Finance for pushing ahead with GEAR’s ‘relaxation’ of exchange controls despite the severe lack of productive investment by domestic capital and ongoing divestment of South Africa’s wealth. No less a source than capitalist economists themselves are predicting an outflow of capital that could reach R16 billion in the first six months after such ‘relaxation’. Red Star wants to ask the Ministry what kind of re- distribution it thinks it is engaged in?
ONE THUMB DOWN to our favourite South African oligopoly, Anglo-American, for boasting about its “pleasing year” in which it increased earnings (i.e. profits) by 23%, whilst constantly whinging about labour costs and ‘inflexibility’ of the economy. While workers experience mass retrenchments and ‘tightening of the belt’, Anglo has accumulated a record R46 billion balance sheet (cash pile), which it no doubt intends to spend on ‘international investments’. In the face of such uninhibited capitalist greed and arrogance, Red Star thinks its time to bring nationalisation back onto the agenda!
Free State Welkom District Party School
Greater Johannesburg is not the only district to have organised its own Party school, as was reported in the April issue of Umsebenzi. Vuyani Jabuza, district secretary in Welkom, reports on activities there, which have included a party school.
Without any assistance from head office or provincial office, the Welkom District held a Party school on 1st and 2nd March 1997. It covered topics like challenges facing our party, trade unionism, historical materialism, and basics of Marxism-Leninism, and was well attended, even by some local leaders of COSATU and its giant affiliate, the NUM.
As a result, the District became influential in the preparation of a lekgotla on local government, which was held on March 8th by the Alliance locally.
The Welkom District which successfully organised two events in honour of Comrade Chris Hani. On April 10th, we showed a video on his life, and, on April 12th, we held a memorial service, addressed by Comrade Kay Moonsamy, our National Treasurer, who surprised many comrades by talking less about money, but much about Comrade Chris and the SACP.
However, the district is facing a serious problem of retrenchment of mine workers with the closure of some shafts, because of so-called dilapidated ore. This will affect about 26 000 mine workers, who form a large part of our membership.
SACP Organises pensioners in Chiawelo
The Chiawelo Branch Executive Committee reports:
After three years of democracy in our country, we communists feel the struggle is far from over. We are now faced with the social challenge of lifting the living standards of our people, especially the disadvantaged and the destitute.
As communists, we interact with the community, and engage ourselves in issues which affect us and our parents, the pensioners. When they encounter problems, they approach us for help, and we try our best to help them. If we can't help them, we invite ministers or MECs to address their plight.
When the Minister of Welfare and Population Development visited Vuwani Secondary School last December, and, in January, we co-ordinated another visit by Comrade Geraldine, together with MECs, Comrades Ignatius Jacobs and Sicelo Shiceka, On both occasions, the pensioners were overjoyed, ululated, and praised the SACP as the party which has the interests of the poor at heart.
We later received a letter of congratulation from Comrade Geraldine, for having organised the pensioners.
The fact that we have party members among the pensioners helps us a lot. They support us in big numbers.
We also command support among local businessmen, who help us with donations for our big events. When we had our AGM in March, a local bakery donated 200 loaves of bread.
We make sure that we take the lead in fighting for social transformation and transparency in local government, and we always engage ourselves in current issues which affect the people. We believe that if we fail the people - and that includes the pensioners - we fail the nation.
No short cut to peace SACP statement on KZN Amnesty Proposals
The ANC provincial structures in KwaZulu-Natal have put forward a proposal for special amnesty provisions, to be granted at secret hearings in that province. The SACP, at both provincial and national levels, has opposed the idea. What follows is part of a statement issued by SACP Head Office on June 11th.
The idea of a "special ANC/IFP amnesty"for KZN suffers from many serious flaws. It fails to locate the conflict in KZN within a wider national context. It makes the conflict between the ANC and IFP a special category. Other provinces and other political parties will natually wonder why they should be excluded from special provisions, including in camera hearings, and changed amnesty cut-off dates.
From the side of the ANC-led alliance, we have backed the TRC process, which is now beginning to bear fruit, both in terms of reconciliation, and, critically, in revealing truth. To suggest a parallel process runs the danger of undermining all that has so far been achieved on this front.
As for the vague offer of a "very senior national position " to IFP leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, we are mystified. We were under the impression that Buthelezi currently occupied a very senior national position. If the leader of the IFP is left with the idea that misbehavious and threats will be rewarded with ever greater promotions, heavens knows where this will end.
We are also surprised that offers of this kind, which are national in character and have long- term implications, are made in public before the matter has been discussed by the National Executive Committee of the ANC itself, nor its alliance partners.
Peace cannot be consolidated by way of short-cuts, nor by undermining the democratic dispensation we are hoping to build. We are suree that our comrades in the ANC KZN Provincial Executive Committee are sincere in their proposal. However, its broader implications have not been thought through adequately.
Unmasking the new economic-speak
In recent years, many words and phrases, describing specific processes of capitalism, have entered our vocabulary. In the next few issues, Umsebenzi will look at some of these terms.
The term, ‘globalisation’ has been adopted recently by the media, by politicians, and within the Left. What is it supposed to mean?
It is supposed to refer to a number of changes that have become trademarks of the current world economy. These include:
- More of the world is being drawn into the ‘global’ market.
- World trade is increasing.
- Capital is circulating more freely around the world.
- Capital is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few multinational corporations.
- Finance dominates industry. That is, investment is less and less made directly into a specific industry; instead, shares are bought and sold on stock exchanges.
- Production is increasingly dominated by new technology: machines and computers.
- The economic role of the state is ‘rolled back’, and replaced by the private sector. Privatisation of public services and other state-owned property is part of this.
Certainly, these features are major trends in today's world economy, but do they represent a fundamental shift in capitalism? Is ‘globalisation’ anything different from what the Left used to call ‘imperialism’?
It is important for us to answer these questions, as the word ‘globalisation’ most often comes across as implying a neutral economic and political world process, in which every country is a ‘competitor’ in search of ‘efficiency’ and ‘growth’. We are told that because of ‘globalisation’ we must adapt our economy to become ‘competitive players’ on the world market.
A closer look over economic trends this century shows things are not as different as we thought. New, ‘globalised’ trade, for example: the proportion of world production exported to foreign markets is not significantly larger than it was in 1913. As for the supposed increase in international investment: most of this is in the form of speculative ‘playing’ on the stock markets - the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, for instance.
The real truth behind ‘globalisation’ is rather different from what we have been led to believe. Yes, capital is more mobile, and yes, multinational corporations are moving towards a monopoly of the world market. However, these facts remain:
- Instead of ‘freely circulating global capital’, the reality is that most of this capital is privately owned, or directly controlled, by a handful of capitalists, mostly based in the wealthy imperialist countries. They, and only they, are ‘free’ to choose where the capital is invested.
They choose areas that will yield the highest profits. This means that, to be ‘competitive’, national industries must keep wages low, spend as little as possible in improving working conditions, skimp on safety.
When more countries are drawn into the ‘world market’ it means in practice that more developing countries are being exploited.
- ‘Rolling back’ the role of the state doesn't mean the state is withering away. National states remain as strong as ever, with ‘globalisation’ representing a struggle in which capitalists and their states seek to protect themselves within their national markets, while trying to get more access to the world market.
- Multinationals, and governments of developing countries are making choices that serve to disempower those who are opposed to globalisation. We believe that GEAR is an example of this.
(Next month, we will try to unmask another confusing term: ‘neo-liberalism’.)
HOW THEY VOTED …and the Left keeps winning
Mongolia In the presidential elections held in Mongolia in early June, the Chairman of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party, N. Bagabandi, described by rightist opponents as a ‘hard-line Communist’, won hands down with over 60% of the vote. Less than two years after the election of a USA-backed ‘free market’ prime minister, the voters of Mongolia (85% turnout) have given a clear, democratic verdict on the fruits of capitalism!
Sri Lanka In municipal elections held in March, the People’s Alliance (PA), made up of several progressive parties including the Sri Lankan Freedom Party and the Communist Party of Sri Lanka, won an overwhelming majority. Of the 238 Councils on the ballot, the PA won 194 against the conservative United National Party’s -UNP 43 (in 1991 the UNP held 191 Councils. It is hoped that the victory of the Left will hasten an end to the civil war, which has ravaged the country’s social and economic fabric over the last decade.
Nepal In May, Nepal held its second local government elections since the advent of democracy in 1990. Results in the 40 districts being polled show that the Communist Party of Nepal emerged with 75% of the vote. This, in spite of widespread election violence carried out by the conservative opposition party, Nepali Congress. The landslide victory of the Communists, in a country where 60% of the population is illiterate and over 50% live under the poverty level, is only surprising to the bourgeois press who, of course, gave it no coverage!
Genocide of the Kurdish people
Conspiracy of Silence
The mainstream media and politicians, both in South Africa and internationally, have all but ignored Turkey’s ongoing genocidal campaign against the Kurds. It is a ‘conspiracy of silence’ that must be broken, writes Greek socialist comrade A.E. Ionian.
For almost 80 years there has been a conspiracy of silence over the genocide of the Kurdish nation. Amongst others, those mainly responsible for complicity in this silence include most Western countries and the colonialist regimes of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. From time to time, this silence breaks when it suits the interests of the core capitalist countries. However, besides a few international human rights groups and progressive political organisations, which have courageously cried out against the genocide, the silence has been deafening.
The Western media gives little or no coverage to this tragedy, preferring instead to focus on the soap opera antics of the British royal family. The situation has become more difficult by the restrictions forced on the press inside Turkey where the jails are full of brave journalists. In South Africa, the little information that does surface on the Kurdish freedom struggle comes in distorted drops, gleaned from the Western media itself.
For example, how many people across the globe know that between 1989-1996 tens of thousands of Kurds have been killed by the Turkish military; that over 3000 Kurdish villages in Turkey have been razed to the ground in the last several years?; that from 1994 –1996 over 35 000 Kurds were detained for daring to publicly identify themselves as Kurds?; or that over 3 million refugees are now scattered around Turkey, having been forced to leave their homes as part of Turkey’s ‘final solution’ to the Kurdish ‘problem’? Instead of the truth, we are fed a steady diet of ‘news’ that portrays the “Kurdish problem’ as one which only involves Kurds in Iraq. Whenever Western politicians and the media focus on the Kurds they only seem capable of seeing with one eye – the Kurds in Iraq – while consciously ignoring the suffering and oppression of the majority of Kurds (over 22 million) in Turkey. While certain Kurdish groups in Iraq are now portrayed as heroic ‘freedom fighters’ against Saddam Hussein, the Kurds fighting for freedom in Turkey are dubbed ‘terrorists and secessionists’.
For the many South Africans who are aware of Turkey’s genocide, the government’s 1995 decision to halt all arms sales to Turkey was welcomed. However, the recent decision by the government to lift the arms moratorium on Turkey, for ‘political reasons’, does not bode well for either the Kurds or for a progressive and principled South African foreign policy.
The so-called ‘pragmatism’ underlying such a reversal of policy only serves to give comfort to the fascist Turkish military, even if that it not the intention. It is ironic that Turkey, a country that played a major sanctions-busting role to assist the former apartheid regime and which now illegally occupies half of Cyprus, is being ‘rewarded’ by the South African government. Turkey has clearly shown that it is a champion of genocide, with a long history of attempted extermination and/or ‘Turkish’ assimilation of Greeks, Armenians and Syrians. Any support for Turkey’s genocidal policies, including silence, in the name of ‘national interests’ can only encourage the world’s worst violater of human rights. It is truly audacious of the Western and other governments to preach human rights, justice, peace and freedom when these values are selectively applied, and in the case of the Kurds, not at all.
Despite the selective silence of the mainstream media, there are enough revelations by those in solidarity with the Kurds to construct the truth from the labyrinth of half-truths and disinformation.