Put his example into practice!
This month marks the fourth anniversary of the assassination of our
former General Secretary, cde Thembisile Chris Hani. The SACP call on all
comrades to put his example of an unrelenting struggle for socialism into
practice through the implementation of our 1997 Programme of Action.
Four years after the death cde Chris was gunned down by right-wing assassins his fighting vision of a society free of exploitation still burns strongly in the hearts of all communists. Besides being respected and loved by millions here and abroad cde Chris was first and foremost a committed and disciplined communist.
He fought to build the SACP, to educate our cadre and to bring theory into practice. His example was also to show us that our struggle for socialism was a struggle to reclaim our human dignity,so brutally stripped away by capitalism. We must never lose sight of that human dignity as we struggle to transform our society and contest those who would sweep cde. Chris's legacy under the rug as they push us into a neo-liberal barbarism.
It was because of the strength of his example the cde Chris paid the ultimate revolutionary price. The SACP call for the full uncovering of the circumstances surrounding his murder. No stone should be left unturned in revealing all those who where involved and there can be no amnesty without such full disclosure.
As we celebrate the communist example of cde.Chris, the SACP calls on all cadres to initiate and lead activities at the local level which are in line with our 1997 Programme of Action. We must build elements of socialism now! There is no better way to honour our fallen comrade. Anyone who knew cde. Chris would know that he would have been at the forefront of such local struggles, making our socialist vision real to people.
Viva the communist example of comrade Chris Hani! Foward to a People's Socialism!
The 1997 Budget: A mixed bag
The 1997 Budget, recently unveiled by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, is best described as a mixed bag of macro-economic and financial guidelines.
On the positive side, the budget's provision for targeted tax relief for lower income earners is to be welcomed as is the significant increase in the housing budget. Likewise, the budgetary increases in public works, social welfare and pensions and justice and police show promising signs that the much-needed redistribution of public resources is beginning to take place.
On the negative side, the high roll-over figures from last year in departmental
budgets confirms that ineffective marshalling, within government, of public
resources continues to hold back redistributive opportunities. The large
portion of the budget that goes directly to provinces, where there is often
much less effective financial management and purposeful expenditure, is
of great concern. In our situation, we cannot afford the limitations and
barriers of a federal-style budget.
The 1997 Budget unfortunately confirms that our economy remains, to a large degree, hostage to powerful domestic and international forces of capital. We must not however, see this, and other forthcoming sectoral budgets, as annual balancing acts dependent on the economic prescriptions of such forces. Rather, the entire budgetary process must be seen and used actively as an instrument of ongoing transformation.
Ten per cent increase in water price
Who will carry the cost?
The Department of Water and Forestry has announced a 10% rise in
the cost of water, as a way of encouraging people to save it.
The shortage of water in South Africa can only get worse as the population grows, and as water is laid on to millions more homes. Water conservation is essential. The important question is: how do we prevent the price rise being passed on to the poor?
It is estimated that over 50% of water goes on agriculture and 8% on forestry. From the user's point of view, this is the cheapest water of all, for only the water that comes from the government water schemes is paid for at well below operating and maintaining supply. The rest of farm and forestry water comes absolutely free. It falls as rain, comes down in the rivers, is pumped up through boreholes.
Industry and the mines use about 12%. In towns and cities, this is metered and paid for, though often at a cheap rate, by special arrangement with the local authority.
Another 12% goes on private domestic use: this includes all private users, from people in informal settlements who pay cash for their water to an attendant at a standpipe, right up to the wealthy who use sprinklers all day on their private gardens.
One suggestion is that the first 50 litres (a RDP and World Health Organisation figure) per person per day should be free; enough to allow drinking, basic cooking and a little washing. This sounds simple and sensible, but there is disagreement.
National government can issue a certain amount of free water to local authorities, but can it dictate that this water should be passed on free to consumers? Some argue that this would infringe the local authority's constitutional right to autonomy. Others point out that the constitution gives all individuals, even the poorest, a right to this life-giving resource. The disagreement is over which constitutional right has priority.
Within the Department there is a struggle. Comrade Minister Kader Asmal and some of his advisors are keen on implementing a policy of cross-subsidisation. This would see a sliding scale of charges, based on consumption. The effect of this would be that big and rich consumers would subsidise the smaller and poorer ones. On the other hand, many old and conservative Department bureaucrats are actively opposing such a policy. The Department is also considering raising the price of irrigation water, at present lower than cost price, and pricing/charging on use of rivers/groundwater.
Other problems must be addressed. Plantations take up a lot of water from deep in the land round about; we need trees, but we must be careful where we plant them, in case we deplete springs and streams used by people nearby. Boreholes sunk by rich commercial farmers cause similar problems. Care should be taken over the use of river water, too, in case people downstream are deprived.
Our water reforms must be accompanied by intensive education in the use of water.
The Basics of Marxism Philosophy
by Dale T. McKinley
Umsebenzi begins a monthly column which will offer readers useful tools for political education. We want to reclaim the basics of our Communist vision as we struggle for socialism now!
Marx rejected the philosophical tradition of idealism, offering
a materialist philosophy instead. Marx argued that we must seek the scientific
explanation of things through combining the dialectical method of analysis
(i.e. seeing nothing as eternal and unchanging but rather as being in constant
relation with one another) with a materialist understanding of society
(i.e. seeing human history in social terms, as the struggle between classes).
From this basis, Marx argued that the development of human society had always been one of exploitation of the majority by the minority, of the labourers by the bosses. In addition, Marx & Engels showed that a major component of exploitation was that of patriarchy (i.e. the exploitation and domination of women by men). In the age of capitalism, the specific relationship between the labourers and the bosses takes on a concentrated form of the total expropriation of labour power by the capitalists who now privately own the means of production. Likewise, capitalism privatises the family, which leads to the domestic enslavement of women - women thus become doubly exploited. This entire process of exploitation and expropriation ,in turn, results in the alienation of the worker (i.e. he/she loses part of themselves in the process of selling their labour power - their value, their capacity to control their lives).
Capitalism, as such, thus represents the product of such a process as outlined above - in other words, its institutions, laws, etc. (themselves a result of material demands for progress) come to be viewed as objectively and eternally valid for all humanity - in other words, they come to constitute a specific ideology (ideas, laws, values, habits of life, etc.). Capitalism thus objectifies humans for specific economic and social purposes - it falsely seperates humanity from its own needs, from its ability to be fully free - and the proletariat class is affected the most since it owns nothing (in reality) but its labour power. Thus, within the dialectical materialist approach, we can understand that the main struggle under capitalist relations is that between the capital and labour - they are dialectically opposed.
In essence, what Marx and many other revolutionaries after him have told us is that capitalism de-humanises, and thus, at its base, a communist philosophy is also a humanist philosophy. Why? - because its shows us that the one thing that the capitalists are unable to take away from the workers is their humanity - it thus reamians the only universal human value. Communists struggle to reclaim humanity's dignity, its value.
The Red Star and Thumbs Down
(Umsebenzi begins a regular column from this month designed to single
out those people/events which we believe have been either very good or
very bad. Red stars
go to the good, thumbs down to the bad and occasionally we will single
out the mere ugly).
War mongers should not be priviledged
Haroon Aziz of the SACP Provincial Executive in KwaZulu-Natal, discusses the antagonism between feudalism and democracy in that province.
For national peace, there are three critical things to be done in KwaZulu-Natal:
To use the R4-billion local government budget, controlled by the ANC in the urban areas, to deliver benefits in housing, electricity, water, roads, and so on.
To capture political support in rural areas, where the contradiction between feudalism and democracy is most sharp.
Restore peace and stability in the rural areas, to make free and fair political activity possible.
In the struggle against feudalism, the alliance, as a force of democracy,
is weakened by several factors: by having too little influence in the House
of Traditional Leaders; by the fact that traditional leaders are paid by
the province; by the power struggle between the king and Buthelezi; by
the king's inadequate control over rural areas, and the fact that the ANC
doesn't have control of the KZN Land and Agricultural Ministry.
The antagonism between feudalism and democracy has given rise to three categories of people involved in violence: those who have profited from the illegal trade in arms; those who have risen to political prominence through violence; and those who have killed, particularly since May 10th, 1994, the cut-off date for general amnesty.
The question is, how to grant amnesty to those who have killed after the cut-off date?
The ANC position is that thee KZN violence is a special type, requiring a special amnesty for KZN warmongers. The SACP position is that the violence is not of a special type, and warmongers in the province should not be privileged.
Thje SACP analysis of violence in KZN is that it is part of a national and international counter-revolutionary strategy. There is collusion between the South African right wing and international fascism. In whatever province it manifests itself, the violence is rooted in the crisis of feudalism in South Africa.
The National Party represents white feudal interests. When in power, sandwiched between monopoly capitalism and popular democracy, it found itself in a crisis, which it tried to handle by creating apartheid. The IFP, representing black feudal interests, also found itself in crisis. Both parties resorted to fascism: for example, both had legal powers of arbitrary arrest and detention without trial, Gatsha Buthelezi was both Chief Minister and Minister of Police.
While still in power, the NP used its control of the SADF, SAP, state bueaucracy,and judiciary to undermine popular democracy. It used the IFP as a surrogate force.
The truth about third force activities is painfully emerging. These activities are an expression of the crisis of feudalism, the last kick of a dying horse.
There is no special type of violence which deserves any special treatment. How can a national legislation like the Truth and Reconcilation Act be amended to cater for the narrow provincial needs of KwaZulu-Natal?
SACP Pushes for Development in the KwaZulu-Natal
Representatives at the SACP Provincial Local Government Summit in KwaZulu-Natal,
Samson Phopi, SACP provincial secretary in the Northern Province reports
that Cuban doctors there have been praised for the successful operations
they have performed at Tshilidzini in the far north. One emergency operation,
designed to be temporary, kept a patient alive while being moved to a larger
hospital at GaRankuwa.
People in the rural areas are impressed with the doctors' "patience and politeness."
Report from Greater Johannesburg District
(Submitted by Cde. Thabo Maesela - District Secretary)
The Greater Johannesburg District is on the move!
Since the re-launch of our District in April last year we have managed to consolidate existing structures and move towards expansion. Ours is a fast growing district. This, in view of the recent spate of Branch Annual General Meetings which have included structures in Dobsonville, Chiawelo, Phiri, Alexandra and Palestine. Serious preparations are taking place in Pimville, Twalaville, Jabavu and many others. Established branches, such as Johannesburg Central and Diepkloof continue to work effectively in many areas.
The District is proud of holding a successful Party School which was wholly organised and run by the District (a first in our organisation unless proven otherwise). Topics covered included: the History of Marxism; the Basics of Marxism-Leninism; the Basics of Communist Organisation; Democratic Participation in the Transition; and Strategic Challenges facing our Party.
The School opened up many interesting debates in our District, amongst them, the concept of a patriotic bourgeoisie and the idea of a popular movement for transformation. Similarly, our regular District Councils have seen many different political discussions. Out of these has come our District's firm rejection of the GEAR macro-economic strategy as a programmatic way forward and we are presently studying the 1997 Budget on which we hope to publicly forward a District position.
The District Congress is scheduled for 26-27 April and we are looking to come with a Programme that will, by the end of the next term of office, ensure that Greater Johannesburg is the largest and most dynamic District in the country.
We believe this is possible because we believe Socialism is the Future - and we are busy building it now!
Sudan & Zaire
The return of National Democratic Alliances
The second part of Dale McKinley's article on two African countries in the spotlight.
The geopolitical map of Central Africa is being redrawn, and the people of the region are the new architects. The activities of national democratic formations in both Sudan and Zaire are rapidly consigning the old order to the 'dustbin of history.'
In Sudan, the authoritarian Islamic regime of Lt. General Omar al-Bashir
is losing the battle to maintain its undemocratic and iron-fisted rule.
Since 1989 this regime has waged war against its own people using regional
division, a state of emergency, suspension of the constitution, banning
political parties and public gatherings, shutting down the press and state-sponsored
mass murder. Additionally, the Bashir regime has strictly imposed Islamic
law - sharia - on a religiously and culturally divergent population. The
results have been devastating: a 13 year-old civil war; war-induced mass
famine and death; and the creation of millions of refugees.
A previously divided opposition is now coming together. The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), which has battled successive Islamic regimes since 1983 has joined forces with the broad-based National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which includes the Sudanese Communist Party, in a combined military and mass-based assault on Bashir's rule. The political programme of the SPLA-NDA alliance calls for a democratic, federated and secular Sudan. The alliance has agreed to a referendum to allow the people of the South to choose whether to remain part of a democratic, secular Sudan or secede.
Not too far away, in Zaire, a strikingly similar process is unfolding. Absolute corruption, combined with the political and economic prostitution of Mobuto's regime (which has lasted over 30 years), has forged a common struggle for freedom among opposition forces. Long-surviving opposition movements (such as Laurent Kabila's Party of the Popular Revolution) have joined forces with a broad range of groups to form the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire.
It is this alliance which now controls most of Eastern Zaire and which is rapidly sweeping aside the rotten remnants of Mobuto's army. Much like their counterparts in Sudan, the stated programme of the alliance is to combine liberation of territory with a resumption of popular mobilisations. The goal is to overthrow the Mobuto dictatorship, and in doing so to create a democratic state that breaks with the entrenched system of corruption and neo-colonialism.
The role played by South Africa (through the Organisation of African Unity and the Southern Africa Development Co-ordinating Conference), has been generally positive, if over cautious and lacking political content. The government of South Africa, itself mandated by a progressive national democratic alliance, must be expected to do more than merely act as a facilitator/mediator. A clear programme of political and material support for the democratic alliances in both Sudan and Zaire would contest the 'neutral and abstract' approach advocated by neo-liberals and acquisitive capitalists. A similar foreign policy programme is needed in relation to Swaziland, Western Sahara and Nigeria to name but a few African examples.
South Africa needs to consistently uphold the principle of international solidarity with progressive forces the world over. Many of these same progressive forces were at the forefront of supporting our anti-apartheid struggle despite the associated political, material and human costs. We owe them nothing less.
VIVA INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!
Fighting Words from Fidel Castro:
Capitalist Killers for Hire
Posing as corporate professionals providing 'security' and 'stabilisation',
South Africa's own private mercenary force, Executive Outcomes, is acting
as the bully boy of big business interests and corrupt and dictatorial
regimes. And, it is being allowed to operate freely from our country.
Executive Outcomes (EO) had its beginnings in 1989. A motely crew of oil and mineral business executives, English military officers and officers culled from the SADF's special forces set up what is now the world's most effective private army. Last year alone it had a turnover of over R150 million.
The rise of EO can be traced to two main causes: the socio-economic and political turmoil caused by imperialist, neo-colonial and apartheid destabilisation of much of the African continent; and the 'sanctions-busting' experience and networks gained by apartheid-era companies and so-called intelligence services. As a result, these hired killers have, in a very short time, become the advance detachment for corporate capital and reactionary regimes.
According to well placed sources, EO is part of a multinational investment company called Strategic Resources Corporation (SRC) whose interests include gold, diamonds, oil and off-shore 'management' services. The job of the mercenaries of EO is to make situations 'stable' and 'secure' for SRC's pursuit of investments and contracts for arms sales. It's a great business - at the same time that EO is helping 'stabilise' a country, its parent company, SRC, gets a nice slice of that country's resources.
EO's curriculum vitae looks like a who's who of African trouble spots and reactionary regimes. Its clients have included the governments of Angola, Zaire, Sierra Leone and Kenya and it has provided 'security' for private corporate interests in Sudan, Angola and Zaire's Shaba Province. EO has also gone outside of the continent, although its recent contract to 'secure' mineral-rich Bougainville for the unpopular regime in Papua New Guinea ended with the mercenaries being kicked out of the country.
It is a political embarrassment for our new democracy to be used as a base for the operations of a new breed of corporate killers. Surely, it is time for our government to take firm action against EO. The sooner the better.