Globalisation & HIV&Aids
Arms Deal - The SACP position
The Debt Debate -Confusion heaped on confusion
Letter to the Editor
International News Briefs
Ongoing crisis in Russia
Kurdish leader arrested in Italy
Message from the Central Committee
Left Laugh - Is it a Joke or Not?
Blade Nzimande's Address to COSATU Congress, September 18, 1997
Reader's Forum - Prespective on Racism
Tracking the Globalisation Agenda
Red Star Column
Programme of action of the SACP
Building people's power for people's education - Strategic Challenges in the transformation of education
Political Education- Understanding Globlisation
Our Party and broader movement have not placed the AIDS epidemic at the centre of our efforts to develop and reconstruct South Africa. More specifically, we need to highlight the underlying social and economic inequalities that feed it and publicly struggle for measures that will begin to address fundamentally the root causes of the AIDS epidemic. As part of its ongoing educational initiatives, the SACP National Political Education Secretariat held a seminar on "Globalisation & Aids" in late October. The seminar was addressed by MARK HEYWOOD, of the Aids Legal Project. Below is an edited, point-by-point version of the input.
Ten years ago, HIV infection rates among both South African whites and Africans were similar. Today, the figures show that in KZN, 28% of Africans are infected, while there is less than a 1% infection rate among whites. The only explanation for such a divergence must be sought in terms of the wealth gap and general socio-economic inequality.
The connection between the spread of HIV/AIDS and social and economic well being can be demonstrated by noting that, in the United States, deaths due to AIDS dropped by 47% last year. In comparison, of the 34 million people infected with HIV/AIDS globally, 90% are in the developing world. The latest break-down of documented global infection rates shows that there are:
- 22,5 million HIV/AIDS cases in sub-Saharan Africa
- 4 million HIV/AIDS cases in India
- 1,5 million HIV/AIDS cases in Latin America
- 1 million HIV/AIDS cases in North America
- 500,000 HIV/AIDS cases in Europe
Overall, Africa carries between 60-70% of all documented AIDS cases and it is expected that within the next five years Asia will have similar levels of AIDS cases. In 1998 alone, over 2 million Africans died from AIDS.
The direct connection between the spread of HIV/AIDS and the neo-liberal 'free market" policies of capitalist globalisation can also be shown by the explosion of HIV/AIDS cases in Eastern Europe over the last 2-3 years. Research shows a direct correlation between the collapse of the "Communist Bloc", the introduction of IMF-World Bank macro-economic policies and the subsequent rise of the epidemic.
As a general rule, the lack of autonomy that accompanies poverty is a major contributor to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Again, research indicates that some of the social determinants for high HIV infection rates are: inequality of income distribution; Gross National Product (GNP) per capita; and the levels of gender inequality (females are twice as likely to be infected as males).
Responses to the epidemic on a global scale have been determined predominately by the priorities of the rich, industrialised countries. For example, the kinds of treatment available in the West are not applicable in most of the developing world. The vast majority of investment into vaccine development has been designed to deal with strains that are prevalent in North America and Europe but are ineffective on strains that are found in most other parts of the world.
Policies that are advocated by the World Bank/IMF, such as structural adjustment, contribute to social instability and thereby contribute to the AIDS epidemic.
Likewise, the role of transnational corporations, such as mining corporations, in creating the conditions for the spread of AIDS as well as in its prevention, have been ignored. Tied to this is the weakening of the role of the state (as the result of neo-liberal prescriptions) in instituting social and economic reforms that would have a positive impact on combating poverty and thus furthering the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Here in South Africa, the AIDS epidemic is rapidly spreading. The government's approach has, so far, been predominately focused on prevention rather than treatment, when both elements need to be combined to have a positive, long-term effect. The SACP and all progressive formations therefore have a central role to play, both within our own structures and in campaigning for an inclusive, pro-active HIV/AIDS policy nationally. Such campaigns must recognise that awareness does not necessarily change behaviour and therefore, need to combine an approach that rewards disclosure and participation with a legitimisation of socio-economic demands underlying the disease and its spread. In this way, progressive formations can begin to define the HIV/AIDS agenda in a way that combats the disease and fundamentally addresses the poverty that fuels it.
In mid-November, after an extensive defence policy review process, government announced a R29-million arms purchasing package. The announcement touched off a major public debate in our country. As usual the commercial press did its best to suggest that there were serious tensions between the government and the SACP on the arms deal announcement.
So what are the facts?
In the first place, the SACP position is that both the defence force and the local arms industry need to be transformed, democratised and subjected to ongoing and critical public scrutiny and oversight. Any complacency about either the SANDF or the arms industry must be vigilantly avoided.
It was for this reason that the SACP publicly associated itself with the Ceasefire Campaign and other progressive NGOs in their condemnation of the November Dexsa Exposition in Pretoria. This international arms exhibition, hosted by Armscor and
Denel, was organised under the slogan: "Excellence through Experience".
- It is simply unacceptable that arms procurers and manufacturers from the apartheid era - which is what both Armscor and Denel are - should boast about "experience". This experience is the mass destabilisation of our Southern African region over some 20 years, resulting in millions of deaths;
- the military suppression of the majority of South Africans and the overall militarisation of our society; and
- a whole pattern of international sanctions busting, that resulted in money-laundering, the breaking of laws in foreign countries, theft and bribery to acquire technology, and a general ethos of corruption. Much of the corruption afflicting our society in the present can be traced back to this "experience".
The SACP has, and will in the future, speak out very quickly when we detect the slightest hint of forgetfulness about this past from those that were active components of the apartheid machinery. However anxious Armscor or Denel might be to sell weapons, we cannot allow them to do this at the price of drawing a veil over decades of the most brutal oppression.
But do we need an arms industry, and why are we purchasing R29 billion of weapons?
There are not easy answers to these questions. When it comes to budgetary expenses we must not, for instance, think that matters are always a simple question of addition or subtraction. In one sense, R29 billion on arms could be spent on schools or health-care. But if our society is completely destabilised by counter-revolutionary forces, or by regional wars, then there will be little effective schooling or health-care in any case.
We should not lose sight of the important role the SANDF has played this year in Richmond. If it were not for a significant deployment of SANDF forces into Richmond, the very dangerous cycle of deliberate destabilisation may have continued and spilled over into larger parts of KwaZulu-Natal. The danger has not passed.
Nor can we lose sight of the fact that our region has become considerably more unstable, just in the last 18 months. There are troubles in northern Namibia.
There is ongoing UNITA destabilisation of Angola and a military offensive against UNITA is mounting in that country. In the DRC we have the most serious armed conflict in a decade in our continent. It involves troops from half a dozen foreign countries, pitted against each other. Political instability in other countries of the region is also endemic and possibly growing - Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland. We have also had the recent experience of a serious melt-down in Lesotho. Hopefully that situation has now been reversed.
In short, we live in a country where counter-revolutionary forces with an armed capacity have been marginalised but not eliminated. We live in a region in which there are serious uncertainties. There is a need for an effective defensive capacity within our country, and for a peace-keeping capacity beyond our borders.
These are sad facts, but facts. What of the arms industry?
We inherited a substantial arms industry from the apartheid past. It was an industry that was built up with massive subsidies from the regime. Clearly, we no longer need or can afford such a large industry whose strategic purpose was the defence of the minority regime, and the destabilisation of our region, in the context of an international arms boycott.
The industry needs to be transformed and scaled-down. As much as possible, the skills, technology and capacity need to be converted to civilian and infrastructural development capacity.
However, insofar as we need armed forces, we also need some arms manufacturing and servicing capacity. It is also not easy simply to convert an arms industry to civilian purposes. There are tens of thousands of jobs involved.
For all of these reasons, the SACP accepts that there is an arms industry in South Africa, and that there will be one for many years to come. However, in dealing with this reality it is crucial not to uncritically accept the arguments that this industry likes to put forward:
- We are told that the arms industry, and the counter-trade agreements built into the R29 billion arms package, "create jobs". These claims may be partly true, but they must be subjected to close scrutiny. Generally, the arms industry is not an effective mass creator of jobs. It is a high-tech industry, typically employing a few highly skilled technicians. International studies show that rand for invested rand, arms manufacturing is usually not a high job creator.
- We are told that arms manufacturing can be an important foreign currency earner. It is true that South Africa needs foreign currency, and that we have been able to sell G5 and G6 artillery to states in the Gulf, earning dollars in the process.
However, again we should not exaggerate. In the post-Cold War era, the world is awash with weaponry, and it is very hard to make sales. The Rooivalk attack helicopter, for instance, built at vast expense to South African taxpayers, has yet to find a foreign buyer. We also need to be very careful about how much foreign currency our local arms industry actually spends, long before it sells anything. Much of the technology is not locally produced, and has to be bought with foreign currency.
- We are also told that an arms industry can have many important civilian spin-offs. That technologies developed for weapons can be used for civilian purposes. This may be the case, the development of computer technology was partly driven (in the developed economies) by military research. However, this applies much less to a technology weak country like South Africa, and it seems to be a long detour. The civilian needs in our country are clear - housing, public transport, water, etc. They hardly need an Armscor for their redress.
Yes, we need armed forces, and yes we have an arms industry that will be with us for years to come. Both need to be constantly transformed, democratised and subject to ongoing political and public scrutiny. Above all, they need to be justified in terms of the actual strategic challenges facing our country, and not on the immoral basis of their apartheid "experience", or on the basis of spurious claims about job creation and export-led economic growth potential.
There has been much debate over the issue of South Africa's debt recently, accompanied by a parallel debate, centred around 'third world' debt in general. Below is the SACP's broad response to these debates.
Twenty-one percent of government expenditure goes to service the interest bill on government's debt. These interest payments are the second largest item of expenditure in our budget. No wonder that for the past two-and-a-half years there has been a rumbling debate in South Africa around this debt.
A number of NGOs, including progressive church formations like the SA Council of Churches, have been campaigning for the writing-off of this debt, which they regard as an "odious apartheid" debt.
Recently this campaign acquired fresh impetus with the launch in Cape Town of Jubilee 2000, as part of an international campaign for the debts of poor third world countries to be cancelled in the "jubilee year" of 2000. The SACP has expressed its general support for the ideals of the Jubilee 2000 campaign. Its goals are in line with our own 10th Congress resolution to campaign for the cancellation of debt of the poorest countries in the world, including those like Mozambique in our own region.
But where does the South African debt stand in relation to all of this?
Faced with the Jubilee 2000 call, Maria Ramos, director general of Finance, was quoted as saying that it was "nonsensical", and that South Africa had "no debt to write off". Ramos explained further that: "It is a fallacy...foreign debt only accounts for 4,9 percent of government debt and most of it was accumulated after the current government took office."
The SACP believes that it is not helpful for the director-general who is, after all, a PUBLIC servant, to arrogantly dismiss the concerns of progressive NGOs. Words like "nonsensical" are not helpful. However, as far as we know the facts that Ramos advances are correct. (It would still be useful to know what part of the foreign debt was incurred before 1994, what it was lent for, and who are the lending agencies who were prepared to keep the apartheid regime afloat. While the figures involved might be relatively small, we are still possibly talking about many millions of rand).
The trouble with the Jubilee 2000 focus on the cancellation of the apartheid debt is that South Africa's debt situation is different from most heavily indebted third world countries. International financial sanctions against the apartheid regime in the 1980s, have resulted in our inherited debt being largely an internal debt.
"It is money we owe to our own citizens", Finance Minister, comrade Trevor Manuel has argued. Some 40 percent of our debt is held by the Public Investment Commission (PIC) - an investment fund to accumulate resources for public sector pensions. South African insurance firms hold 21 percent of the debt; nominee companies 18 percent; banks 7 percent; and the SA Reserve Bank 5 percent.
As can be seen, large parts of the government debt may well be owed to South African citizens (although not to all South Africans!). Debt cancellation or a holiday on interest payments could have a serious impact on our economy.
It is for this reason that the SACP has felt that the key emphasis when approaching the debt needs to be, not on cancellation, but on two other areas:
- Bringing down the exceptionally high interest rates in our country. Our actual government debt is 55 percent of our country's gross domestic product (GDP) which, as comrade Trevor Manuel notes, "compares favourably with most developing and industrialised countries". The problem is the high interest rates, which government like the rest of us must pay on money borrowed. For the last 5 years the SACP has argued that our high interest rates are, partly, the result of an ultra-conservative Reserve Bank that is focused narrowly on inflation.
- The management and restructuring of the civil service pension fund. As noted above, the major proportion of government debt (40%) is held by the Public Investment Commission. The PIC was set up by the old regime in 1993 - partly because it was concerned that an incoming ANC government would not honour pension payments to white civil service pensioners.
The PIC fund replaced the former pay-as-you-go approach to civil service pension payments. The pay-as-you-go approach draws funds for pensions from current pension fund contributions by existing civil servants. The PIC approach is to pre-fund pensions by building up a fund of money (which is invested on the stock exchange). It is this pre-funded approach which constitutes 40 percent of government debt - because government borrowed billions of rands to set it up.
Why can't we return to the pay-as-you-go approach that applied for many decades, up till 1993?
- Ramos and Manuel argue that it is prudent to have a pre-funded approach, especially if the number of contributing civil servants is likely to decline. (The whole debate is obviously linked to plans to drastically slash civil service employment).
- But even if this is the case, why do civil service pensions have to be pre-funded to the current 70-80 percent level? (This means that the existing fund would be able to pay for 70-80 percent of the entire projected payout for existing pensioners and existing civil servants if they were to lose their jobs). Do we really need this level of prudence? Can we at least not bring down the pre-funded level - let us say to 50 percent, or less? This would still give a very substantial safety margin, and it would massively reduce government debt.
At the Alliance Summit (October 24 -25) it was agreed that the whole approach to the PIC would be reconsidered. It is disappointing, in the light of this Summit resolution, that the Finance Ministry pursues a debate with Jubilee 2000 around debt renunciation, and ignores the more substantial question of restructuring the civil service pension fund.
SOCIALIST BOOKS FOR PARTY CADRES
Dear SACP comrades,
Books for South Africa, a Project of International Socialist Renewal will soon be shipping books from North America to SACP regions, districts, and branches. Many North American political activists have extensive libraries of Marxist writings and other politically relevant books that they would like to share with others.
We will ship these books at an inexpensive cost, by sea, to South Africa. Each shipment will take approximately three months to arrive. At the suggestion of the SACP Head Office, the books will first be shipped to those regions with scarcer resources. Hopefully, as we build more donations of books, we can ship books directly to Districts and Branches. We hope you will enjoy reading and using these books!
In international solidarity,
Committees of Correspondence
Ongoing crisis in Russia
As the harsh Russian winter begins to set it, it seems as though the equally harsh socio-economic conditions that have hit ordinary Russians are also set to continue for some time. The new centre-left Cabinet of Prime Minister, Yevgeny Primakov, is seeking to challenge the crisis generated by nearly a decade of neo-liberal policies by way of important measures - including plans to nationalise many of the failed banks, lower taxes, pay workers on time and attract foreign investment.
However, there is little indication that the plan will have much of a shorter-term impact, so deep is the crisis. Projections show that the economy is expected to contract by 6% in 1999 and inflation to rise to 79%. Failed Russian banks have saddled the government with a R40 billion debt to foreign creditors and Primakov has appealed to the IMF to release further loans in order to re-pay already existing debts. Meanwhile, there are reports of increasing starvation in the north of Russia, lack of basic necessities to millions and massive joblessness across the country. Strikes and demonstrations by workers and ordinary Russians continue.
Kurdish leader arrested in Italy
Abdullah Ocalan, the general secretary of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was arrested by Italian police in Rome, upon his clandestine arrival there, on 12th November. His arrest followed his flight from Syria (where the PKK has several rear bases) and an unsuccessful application for political asylum in Russia. The PKK has been fighting for Kurdish self-determination, predominately against the fascist Turkish state, since 1984. The Turkish government, backed by the United States, has demanded Ocalan's immediate extradition to Turkey, where he will face certain death. However, the Italian government has, for now, placed him under house arrest, while a political battle rages in Italy as to how to proceed. Many progressive organisations and political parties from around the world have rallied to Ocalan's defence, demanding he be granted political asylum in Italy and for the Turkish state to halt its genocidal war against the Kurdish population.
Indonesia - more of the same Indonesian Prime Minister, J. Habibie's attempts to prolong the dictatorial powers of the military that existed under the Suharto regime, has seen intensified opposition from mass organisations. More than 15 people died and 300 seriously injured when the military, under the direct orders of Army Chief Wiranto, shot into crowds of peaceful demonstrators in Jakarta on 13th November. The demonstrators, comprising hundreds of thousands of students, workers and urban poor, were marching to protest the fraudulent sitting of 'parliament', designed to give the Habibie-Wiranto military regime unchecked powers.
Their basic demands include an end to any role for the military in politics, rejection of the 'fraudulent parliament' and the formation of a transitional government to organise free elections. The solidarity between students, workers and the urban poor, combined with increased organisation and militancy, represents a real threat to the regime, as well as moderate opposition figures that are increasingly "out of step with the people's demands".
The Central Committee of the SACP met in Johannesburg on the 31st October and 1st November. The main items on the agenda of the CC were: the SACP'S reaction to the final report of the TRC; the emerging economic consensus within the Tripartite Alliance; the Jobs Summit; and the SACP'S programme of action.
Based on a first reading of the TRC'S five volume final report, the Central Committee welcomed what is an extensive and generally very considered report. In particular, the CC welcomes the TRC perspective that the national liberation movement in South Africa was involved in a just war. The distinction between a just struggle and unjust means (that were sometimes regrettably used by the movement of which we are part) is appropriate.
All of the unjust means attributed to the ANC-led alliance by the TRC report are indeed factual realities that the alliance, itself has admitted and investigated.
By contrast, the TRC report finds that human rights violations were not accidental to the policies and strategies of the apartheid regime. Systematic, extensive and persistent violations were integral to the policies and strategies of the regime. We welcome this finding.
The CC also expressed especial satisfaction with the focused and thoughtful attention given by the TRC to the complicity of business in apartheid violations. The relevant chapter makes important findings, and advances some constructive practical suggestions.
It is regrettable that a generally outstanding report should have been overshadowed by an entirely peripheral matter - namely the ANC's court action aimed to compel the TRC to consult effectively with it prior to publication. While it is possible to question the tactical wisdom of the ANC's move (especially in the light of the subsequent events), the SACP fully accepts the constructive intentions of the ANC when making the application. The ANC was, indeed, treated shabbily in the final weeks by certain leading TRC officials.
To portray the ANC court action as "tyranny" or as an attempt to "gag" the TRC is ridiculous.
Tyrants silence their critics, they do not pursue matters through the courts. The ANC graciously accepted the court's verdict on the matter. Sadly, the Chairperson of the TRC, Archbishop Tutu, who has played an outstanding role in the TRC process, did not help matters with ill-considered hyperbole in days following the ANC's application.
Even more objectionable has been some of the media reporting. Across its front-page on Friday October 30, The Star had a headline "The villains of the dark years". The headline was accompanied by photographs and pen-pictures of the villains. Included with PW Botha, Wouter Basson, Craig Williamson and Eugene De Kock is deputy minister of defence, Ronnie Kasrils. According to the report Kasrils is "among those who committed abuses in ANC camps". But Kasrils was not even mentioned in the TRC Report! While The Star has since apologised for its blunder, the mistake exemplifies the way in which many commentators have approached the TRC report with a pre-packaged "villains on all sides" agenda. Besides apologising, we trust that The Star will take a long hard look at itself.
The Central Committee discussed in some depth the policy documents emerging from the Alliance Summit of 24-25th October. The CC noted that the Alliance Summit had characterised the current global economic crisis as being rooted in a classical capitalist over-accumulation crisis, which extends back over the last quarter of a century. The present crisis is neither narrowly regional in character ("Asian contagion" or "Russian flu"), nor of short-term duration, although its present acute symptoms may be surpassed for a time. The CC supports the Alliance perspective that major economies, which are at the root of the present crisis, are once more dumping the problem on to the developing world.
The acuteness of the present crisis has finally punctured the bubble of the neo-liberal, Washington Consensus. For the past years the SACP has consistently attacked this paradigm, not least for its arrogant assumption that a one-size-fits-all, macro-economic mantra was the answer to everything.
The SACP also welcomes the much greater convergence within the Alliance on what must constitute an appropriate macro-economic policy. We welcome, amongst other things, the commitment to reconsider the funding of the Civil Service Pension Fund, and effective monetary and fiscal policy.
The Job Summit was an important mile-stone. It helped to focus economic debate upon the real economy, and particularly on critical areas like industrial strategy, infrastructural development, new housing initiatives and training. The Job Summit also successfully avoided the agenda of those who hoped to use it to bash the unions, and to focus narrowly on labour market "flexibility".
Programme of Action
The CC discussed and approved a programme of action (see pages 5-6). The key emphasis of this programme will be the active organisational support that the SACP will give to the ANC's election campaign. The SACP will focus on the working class vote, and will underline the anti-worker policies of all of the main opposition parties.
We here at Umsebenzi are never ones to underestimate the stupidity of US Imperialism. So, when we received this 'joke' we were not quite sure if it was a real story or not. We leave it up to our readers to decide for themselves.
U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT TO HOLD ENEMY AUDITIONS
WASHINGTON, DC - Taking steps to fill the void that has plagued the American military-industrial complex since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced Tuesday that the U.S. will hold enemy auditions next week.
Slated to begin Nov. 26, the auditions will take place at the Pentagon. More than 40 nations are expected to vie for the role of U.S. adversary, including Iran, India, Afghanistan, China, North Korea and Sudan. "Over the past seven years, the State Department, working closely with the CIA, Congress and the president, has made efforts to establish a long term state of hostility with a foreign power of consequence," Albright said. "Unfortunately, these efforts have proven unfruitful. If we are to find a new Evil Empire, we must start taking a more proactive approach." Though auditions are not until next week, Albright said the State Department has already received a number of impressive preliminary proposals.
"We met with the Syrian representative yesterday, and he promised that Syria would house terrorist enemies of the U.S. and stockpile chemical weapons near the Israeli border," Albright said. "We've also gotten an unexpectedly strong proposal from the Kazakhstani delegation, which says they have four of Russia's missing nuclear missiles and will use them against the U.S. unless we release 450 Kazakhstani Muslim extremists currently held in Western prisons. That was certainly a pleasant surprise."
The decision to hold enemy auditions was made during an Oct. 16 meeting at the Pentagon attended by a number of top military-industrial-complex officials, including Albright, Defense Secretary William Cohen, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defence Corporation, Lockheed Martin, CEO Thomas Reuthven.
"Everyone was of the opinion that an enemy was needed -- and fast," said Reuthven, whose company has laid off 14,000 employees since the end of the Cold War. "Nobody wins when there's peace." General Electric CEO Jack Welch, who was also at the meeting, agreed. "Our profits are down 43 percent from 10 years ago. We sold more tritium hydrogen-bomb ICBM/MIRV triggers in 1988 than in the last six years combined," he said. "Something had to be done."
Once the auditions conclude, Albright said, the State Department will spend a week evaluating the proposals before announcing its choice on Dec. 9. The new U.S. enemy will be formally anointed in a special treaty-breaking ceremony, in which President Clinton and the leader of the rival nation will sever diplomatic ties with the ceremonial burning of 1,000 doves.
Since the end of the Cold War, potential new U.S. enemies have emerged several times, but in each instance, hopes were inevitably dashed by peace. Most promising among the candidates was Iraq, which briefly went to war against the U.S., but a truce was declared before a deep and lasting enmity could take root.
Tuesday's announcement was hailed by leaders of numerous U.S.institutions, including the motion-picture industry, whose action films have suffered from the absence of a global antagonist. "Hopefully, there will be an enemy soon," Paramount Pictures vice-president of development Mort Glazer said. "During the past few years, in the absence of a Soviet Union or a Nazi Germany, Hollywood has been forced to pit American heroes against uncompelling enemies like the IRA. A R900 million-grossing film like Rambo or Top Gun is simply not possible in today's climate of global d'etente."
The lack of a clearly identifiable foreign nemesis has taken a toll on the American populace, as well: In the years since the fall of the Soviet Union, Americans have been forced to find other outlets for their deepest insecurities and fears. "Without an outward threat like the USSR, Americans have had to channel their anxieties about life into a wide range of other, less concrete things, including space aliens, drinking water, sexuality and our own government," psychotherapist Dr. Eli Wasserbaum said. "If a new national enemy is not found soon, the trend will only worsen."
Speaking to reporters, another corporate CEO, Richard Klingbell of McDonnell Douglas said the State Department should have foreseen the possibility of peace and taken steps to avoid it years ago. "For decades, we took Soviet aggression and the arms race for granted,"
Klingbell said. "We failed to realize that one day it might all come to an end. We failed to sow the seeds of future foreign discord, for our children's sake.
Thankfully, though, we're finally setting things straight. We're finally remembering that to make it in this world, you've got to have enemies."
Comrade President, Comrade General Secretary, international guests, and delegates, this is indeed a very important gathering of therefore necessitates that we seriously use this gathering to reflect on achievements, future
1.The democratic breakthrough and the role of the labour movement in the transition
1.1 Since the democratic breakthrough of April 1994, significant advances have been made by the broad liberation movement towards the total liberation of South Africa from an apartheid-colonial society, to a democratic society
1.2 Since this breakthrough, the following are some of the major advances made during the last 3 and a half years:
The formal end to white minority rule The adoption of a broadly progressive constitution Advances in delivery in the areas of social needs like health, education, water and land redistribution The progressive disintegration of the old apartheid ruling bloc, marked by, amongst other things, the crisis that is faced by virtually all the opposition parties
1.3 A critical component of this victory over apartheid has been the struggles and sacrifices made by the organised labour movement, particularly COSATU
1.4 Therefore, the democratic breakthrough is a victory for organised workers
who have the deepest interest in the deepening and consolidation of this phase
of the National Democratic Revolution.
2.The character of the transition and the disintegration of the old apartheid ruling bloc
2.1 The crisis being currently experienced by the opposition parties is first and foremost an expression of the disintegration of the old apartheid ruling bloc.
2.2 The departure of Roelf Meyer and the resignation of FW de Klerk from the National Party mark the deepest crisis within this party of apartheid and racism.
Of course Roelf Meyer's departure does not mean a new opposition to the NP, but renewed attempts to try and dislocate the ANC and its Allies
2.3 The National Party is faced with an irreconcilable dilemma. On the one hand, it has to consolidate and retain its white Afrikaner base, whilst, on the other hand, it has to reach out to the majority of the black people of this country. It is impossible to reconcile the two, as the NP has to choose between being a party of the white privileged elite, or to abandon its racial character altogether if it is to be part of the emerging democratic order in South Africa
2.4 The IFP - that arch-enemy of the working class and progress in South Africa - is also faced with a similar dilemma. It is caught between being, on the one hand, a neo-feudal, rural based, bantustan, tribal party or being a modern, democratic party based on the principles of an open electoral democracy
2.5 The defeat of the apartheid regime has deprived the IFP of its main line of support, thus forcing it to rely even more on narrow tribalistic support in order to survive in a democratic South Africa. The white right-wing has also been dealt a severe blow with the transition to democracy in our country. The demand for a volkstaat from these forces is nothing but an attempt to secure the white privileges accumulated under apartheid
2.6 The white right wing hopes that by demanding a secluded volkstaat, they can still retain their own racist and exclusive haven for sections of white Afrikaners through which they can maintain their privileged positions.
2.7 However, the crisis in the ranks of the opposition does not necessarily and automatically translate into our own strengths. Nor do the current weaknesses mean that the threat of counter-revolution has completely receded
2.8 There still is a very real threat of counter-revolution, whereby elements of the old order might still want to undermine the emerging democratic order. The gains of our revolution cannot be said to be irreversible. Therefore there is a call for vigilance and the mass mobilisation of our people to defend the gains made by the national democratic revolution thus far. Organised workers have an important role to play, as they stand to benefit most from the consolidation and deepening of the National Democratic Revolution
2.9 Current attempts at alliances by the opposition forces is nothing but an attempt by the old ruling bloc to reconstitute and reposition itself to undermine the transformation process.
3.Threats to the National Democratic Revolution
3.1 The new global world order, after the end of the Cold War, is not necessarily conducive to the consolidation of the NDR
3.2 Globalisation, as characterised by the dominance of the capitalist system throughout the whole world, is based on the intensification of capitalist exploitation, and particularly the widening of the gulf between developed and developing countries
3.3 However, we should avoid two major mistakes when approaching globalisation. The one error is that of a right-wing, neo-liberal type, whereby the current global order is taken as a given within which developing countries have to fit themselves. That is, for South Africa, as a developing country, to simply become a "municipality" in this "global village".
3.4 The other mistake is that of an ultra-leftist kind. That is for us to merely act as if there is no international capitalist system that is dominant in the world today.
3.5 Our task therefore is to recognise the dominance of the capitalist market worldwide, whilst at the same developing strategies and alliances to challenge the unjust and inequitable world order. This requires that we defend our national sovereignty and forge strategic alliances with other developing countries, in order to bring about a just and equitable world order.
3.6 However, the threat to the NDR does not only come from without, it could possibly come from within. The fact that the post-1994 situation is marked, amongst other things, by the swelling of the ranks of the middle and capitalist class - necessary as this is during the current phase - means that there is a very real possibility for sections of the previously oppressed to pursue the idea of a non-racial capitalist order, where a small section of the black people become part of the capitalist class.
3.7 The fact that thousands of our cadres have moved into positions of responsibility in government drastically swells the ranks of the black middle class. This development is to be welcomed although it does pose its own potential dangers and a basis for the pursuance of a narrow, elitist path.
3.8 Such a scenario could lead to the development of a 30%-70% solution, whereby thirty percent of the population is benefiting from a new capitalist order, and 70% remain outside
3.9 Such a scenario would not be sustainable, since the majority of the people will still be subjected to the same conditions as under apartheid, thus creating a very unstable political order
4.Class struggles in South Africa's transition to democracy
4.1 All the above point to the intensification of class struggle during this period.
4.2 The present struggles are essentially about shaping the nature and character of post-apartheid society and the post-apartheid state.
4.3 The struggles during the writing of the new constitution, the lock-out clause, the LRA, and the current Basic Conditions of Employment Bill, are essentially about whether a post-apartheid South Africa will be a society or state where the interests of the bourgeoisie are dominant, or be a society where the working class and its allies will be the dominant, if not the hegemonic force.
4.4 The capitalist class is trying by all means to use its economic power to shape the nature of a post-apartheid South Africa. Some of the key elements of the struggle by the capitalist class, together with anti-worker and anti-working class elements, include the following:
4.4.1 Demonisation of organised workers and their characterisation as a "labour aristocracy". We are yet to be convinced that the generally lowly paid workers of this country can ever be regarded as a labour aristocracy. Only yesterday, white workers were described as a labour aristocracy, now today the very same black workers that we all understood as being subjected to super-exploitation are referred to as a labour aristocracy!
4.4.2 This attack on organised workers also take the form of presenting mass struggles by this section of the working class for the betterment of its employment conditions as being "counter-revolutionary" or "unpatriotic". Those who see this current phase of our struggle as an opportunity to get rich quickly under a legitimate government are threatened by the organised power of employed workers.
Their demonisation of legitimate workers' struggle as "counter-revolutionary" is a cover for their own interests in exploitation of the black working class in order to get wealthy as soon as possible.
4.4.3 It is interesting to note that those who call for organised workers to make sacrifices, under the guise of "patriotism", are not at the same time calling for the capitalist class to make sacrifices as well. The SACP completely rejects the notion that it is only organised workers who must make sacrifices for the reconstruction and development of our country
4.4.4 The call for only organised workers to make sacrifices, without calling for the same from white monopoly capital, is essentially a reactionary call for the maintenance of the super-exploitation of the black working class.
4.4.5 Business has not by any means demonstrated how they intend facilitating the reconstruction and development of our country. Instead business argues that the intensification of capital accumulation will translate into the improvement of the conditions of the workers. This is a lie we must not accept.
4.4.6 A further attack on organised workers is that struggles against business are being projected as being anti-government. To argue that a general strike against capital is a strike against the democratic government is a deliberate distortion in order to continue to subject employed workers to the conditions to which they have been subjected under apartheid colonialism and its capitalist system.
4.4.7 Another attack on organised workers is the charge that employed workers are acting against the interests of the working class as a whole, particularly the unemployed workers. We are now being lectured that employed workers do not constitute the entirety of the working class. Both the SACP and COSATU understand this very well, and we do not need to be lectured to on this! We particularly do not need to be lectured to by those forces whose agenda is opposed to that of the working class. But organised workers are the leading detachment of the working class and have the organisational capacity and strength to lead the grassroots struggles of the working class
4.4.8 We are, however, yet to be told by those who argue this point as to how their actions are advancing the interests of the working class as a whole. In other words, the struggles of organised workers is being counterposed to that of the working class, without at the same time having any programme or commitment by the capitalist class to create more jobs. This argument, therefore, amounts to calling upon organised workers not to fight for the betterment of their employment conditions whilst at the same time unemployment increases.
4.5 The realisation of the goals of reconstruction and development is not going to come about through low-wages, but through the payment of decent wages and the establishment of decent conditions of employment as a key component of improving overall productivity and meeting the basic needs of the majority of the people of our country.
4.6 However, by stating this position we are not by any means suggesting that organised and employed workers should be insensitive to the position of the rest of the working class. If there are any sacrifices to be made, they must come from both sides, labour and capital. The SACP challenges business to demonstrate to us what plans they have to create jobs and invest in socially productive sectors in order to realise the upliftment of the immense majority of our people
4.7 At the core of these struggles and bursting out much more forcefully is the attempt to consolidate a post-apartheid South Africa as a capitalist country. It is important that organised workers and the working class as whole, understand this reality so that our struggles to advance the interests of organised workers in the present period should be understood as part of a broader struggle against capitalism and the laying of the foundations for a socialist South Africa.
4.8 A key component of attempts to consolidate South Africa as a capitalist society is the massive push by capital for the privatisation of state assets. As the SACP we are firmly of the view that private capital can never be able to address the basic needs of the majority of the people, even less so in a country like ours.
4.9 There is no evidence whatsoever that private capital can address the scale of needs, inequalities and poverty characteristic of developing countries. Therefore, we should resist privatisation as a strategy for meeting the basic needs of our people
4.10 Our call, and that of the Alliance as a whole, is for a strong, interventionist state and, where necessary, for such a state to strengthen and transform existing parastatals or, where necessary, to create new ones in order to achieve the goals of the RDP. We do not want a neutral or a regulatory state, but a national democratic and developmental state. The question is not whether to privatise or not, but how best to meet the needs of our people during a phase where capital seems powerful and dominant.
4.11 The SACP is also concerned that the seemingly wholesale plunge by many local authorities into privatisation of the provision of many key social services is not being carefully thought through. The Alliance needs to review, as a matter of urgency, what is going on at this level
4.12 Similarly, the struggles around the basic conditions of employment are about whether we should be creating the type of conditions of employment conducive to a highly productive, decently paid workforce or about colonial-type working conditions to entrench cheap labour.
4.13 The SACP recognises the fact that Basic Conditions of Employment Bill has many progressive elements, and is on the whole a progressive measure, in that it will mark a massive improvement of working conditions to millions of workers in the most exploited and backward sectors of our economy, like security services and large sections of the transport industry. However, what business wants is to roll back some of the gains made by organised workers in the various sectors.
4.14 On GEAR: The SACP's last central committee, after a year of reflection, discussion and debate, as well as interaction with Alliance partners, came out in opposition to GEAR. The Central Committee made the point that this kind of macro-economic framework is not conducive to the implementation of the RDP.
4.15 The Central Committee further noted that after one year, GEAR has led to the cut of the budget deficit in a manner that could seriously hamper social delivery. GEAR had predicted a 1.6% growth in jobs, but instead there has been a shrinkage/job loss of 1,3%
4.16 Some of the leading proponents of GEAR have told us that it is on target, but this raises the question of what are the hard or soft target of GEAR.
4.17 So where do we go from here? Surely we cannot as an Alliance spend another year on the macro-economic debate. We believe that the last Alliance summit, and President's own remarks that no policy is cast in stone, sets us on a new path to find one another on this question.
4.18 The SACP therefore calls for the development of an industrial strategy aimed at identifying key industrial sectors for development. This must simultaneously address the basic needs of our people and create jobs. It is only within this context that we must develop a macro-economic model that underpins and strengthens such a developmental strategy. There is no example in this century of a developing country, or even a developed country for that matter, emerging from the ruins of war, from economic collapse or colonialism, achieving economic revival led by the capitalist market. Instead, such revivals have been led by a state-driven industrial strategy.
4.19 An industrial strategy should be premised upon the central RDP assumption that there can be no sustainable economic growth that is not centred on addressing the development needs of our country. Any macro-economic strategy therefore should be aimed at reinforcing such a job-creating industrial strategy, rather than the other way round.
4.20 The forces which are embarking on this intense attack on organised workers are the same forces who are trying by all means to undermine the tripartite alliance.
5.The Tripartite Alliance
5.1 The recent Alliance Summit was marked by a renewed commitment from all the allies to the continuation and strengthening of the Alliance. This is a correct stance
5.2 However, much more significant about this recent summit is that there are no sacred cows in terms of policy being pursued by government or any Alliance partner during this period.
5.3 The view of the SACP is that this summit, much as there are still a lot of issues to be thrashed out together, has put us in a qualitatively new situation where key policy measures have to be taken jointly by the Alliance.
5.4 Whilst key differences remain around areas like Gear, this renewed commitment not only to the Alliance but to tackling problems and key policy issues together, puts the Alliance on a very firm footing in the right direction. Indeed, key policy issues and measures need to be jointly discussed, thrashed out and adopted by the Alliance
5.5 Those who want to see the Alliance breaking up, either for political or opportunistic reasons, are going to be disappointed.
5.6 The reason why these forces want the working class and its organs to be separated from the ANC is because they ultimately want to weaken both the ANC and this government, thus frustrating the consolidation and deepening of the NDR.
5.7 Those in the ranks of the Alliance who are calling for the break-up of the Alliance are playing right into the hands of our enemies.
5.8 Furthermore, the ANC is a broad movement that belongs to us all. The ANC equally belongs to the working class, organised workers and communists just as it belongs to all other democrats who believe in the deepening and consolidation of the NDR. As workers, as the working class, as communists, we have all sacrificed to build the ANC and the realisation of the 1994 democratic breakthrough.
5.9 Tensions within the Alliance should not lead to calls for its break-up, but rather focus us on how we should strengthen it, including making the voice of the workers stronger within the ANC itself.
5.10 This matter raises another related question that this Congress should debate. This is the question of what role does COSATU itself want to play as members of the ANC. Should COSATU leaders stand for election in ANC Constitutional Structures? Some of the affiliates point out that COSATU's independence might be compromised. But at the same time the ANC needs to be taken seriously as our movement, even more so by workers and worker leaders, and how to have a workers' voice inside the ANC itself. The SACP urges COSATU to seriously debate this question
6.Socialism is as relevant as ever
6.1 Both our detractors and anti-socialist, anti-communist elements are now asking us what we are talking about when we talk about socialism. We are being asked to define socialism, as if these forces do not know what we are talking about
6.2 There are also serious attempts to discredit the September Commission report by either describing it as anti-ANC or for being vague about what it means by socialism.
6.3 The charge that we are no longer understood about what we mean by socialism is nothing but convenient political amnesia, that is, to forget conveniently what socialism means. It is also a convenient ploy to say to us there is no alternative to capitalism
6.4 In fact, some of those who pretend not to know what socialism means have not participated in the very rich post-Soviet Union debates about the renewal of socialism, but are rather stuck in the textbook Stalinist socialism
6.5 There has been a very rich debate about socialist renewal, starting with Comrade Joe Slovo's "Has Socialism Failed". The September Commission report itself also engages us in a very creative way about the paths to socialism, including the creation of social capital and the building of a truly socialised economy where mass formations play a leading role in economic control and reconstruction
6.6 Perhaps let us remind those doubters what we mean by socialism. Firstly, we mean the end to the ownership of the wealth of the country by a few monopoly capitalists, and for the key sectors of the economy to be in the hands of the actual producers, the workers
6.7 Secondly, by socialism we mean the end to the exploitation of the working class by a minority capitalist class. Socialism means an effective redistribution of a country's resources under the custodianship of the working class and a state led by the working class itself
6.8 The fact that Eastern-European socialism failed, does not mean that socialism has failed. Rather it calls upon us socialists worldwide, and particularly in South Africa, to learn from those errors without departing from our goal of bringing capitalism to an end.
6.9 Capitalism has also failed dismally. It has not managed to address the needs of the overwhelming majority of the people, and even more so in the developing world.
6.10 In order to attain this goal, the SACP is of the view that the struggle for socialism starts during this present period, not in some future. The consolidation of the NDR should lay the basis for a transition to socialism. Hence the SACP's slogan "Socialism is the future, build it now".
6.11 Much more importantly, comrades, the achievement of socialism is not going to come about through endless theoretical debates in the centre pages of the Sunday Times or the SABC - important as it is to debate on these platforms - but through concrete struggles by the working class and its allies to bring about this reality.
6.12 Therefore our task is to go out and do agitational work amongst organised workers, the working class and the mass of our people. The consolidation of the NDR in favour of the working class and the bringing about of socialism depends on the balance of forces and the acceptance of socialism by the mass of the people on the ground. It is an organisational task. Socialism will not come about by us trying to endlessly convince those who cannot be convinced.
6.13 This therefore calls for the organised workers to resolve once and for all to build the SACP as the political weapon of the working class. Organised workers cannot, on their own, take the struggle against the bosses to its logical political conclusion the defeat of capitalism unless organised and united as a political force, together with the rest of the working class.
6.14 This further calls for a creative SACP/trade union co-operation as we have seen with political education activities between the Party and some of the trade unions. This, however, needs to be strengthened and deepened.
6.15 Much more importantly, all of us are faced with the need for fundraising and self-sufficiency. Union investments are important in this regard, but these should not merely be seen as fundraising efforts, but a strategic intervention in the economy, as well as the creation of social capital for the working class. These should also be used to strengthen and resource independent working class organisations, not least to assist in building a strong labour movement and the SACP as the political vanguard of the working class.
6.16 We therefore also throw out a challenge to you all comrades. Let us support the SACP's all-important 10th Party Congress next year, if the SACP is to effectively play its role as the political vanguard of the working class.
6.17 Furthermore, this means that we need to renew our efforts to build a single, independent and socialist labour federation in our country.
6.18 These are some of the tasks that face us in this conference and beyond.
" Other men will overcome this gray and bitter moment where betrayal threatens to impose itself. Continue knowing, all of you, that much sooner than later, the great avenues will open through which will pass free men in order to construct a better society... These are my last words having the certainty that this sacrifice has not been in vain. I am certain that, at least, there will be a moral sanction which will punish felony, cowardice and betrayal"
September 11th 1973 - Salvador Allende, President of Chile, addressing the nation on radio from the Presidential Palace, moments before he was murdered by the fascist military forces of General Pinochet.
Racism remains a central part of social, political and economic relations in our country. It is the foundation, and the means to rid ourselves, of such racism that continues to be at the centre of debate within our broad liberation movement. Here, Northern Cape SACP activist, VUYISILE MAKI, offers a controversial perspective. (Editor's note - Umsebenzi encourages readers to respond to this article)
Several weeks ago I witnessed something that was disturbing. It was on a Sunday morning and I was on my way to buy newspapers in town. As I approached the main road I saw a young African women standing next to the road, apparently waiting for a ride. I passed and greeted her. She responded in Afrikaans. On my way back from buying the newspapers I passed the young women again. A few seconds later I heard a bakkie approaching and saw the bakkie stop next to where the woman was standing.
The driver was a white male, and noone else was in the vehicle. Although I could not hear what was being said, I saw the young women speak to the man. He responded and then the woman jumped into the back of the bakkie.
I stood there for half an hour asking myself a number of questions. If that young woman had been white, Indian or coloured, would the man have offered her a front seat? The answer is a very simple yes. Whites generally behave like that, they are anti-black and that's how they were brought up anyway. We should not be shocked when I say most whites still behave like those notorious prison warders. Blacks are the 'prison inmates' and that's how blacks and whites relate - prison warders and inmates.
Who can deny this is true for blacks in the Kalahari region and elsewhere in South Africa? Racism is still rife. No matter how high Africans rise to the occasion, they never lose consciousness of the invisible bars that hem them in prison.
It is this white mob which are at the cutting edge of racial hatred. They do not want blacks as neighbours, but only as hired hands to do their dirty work and clean up their mess and children etc. It is not difficult for me to believe that whites are selfish and you don't need a microscope to see that they are devils. Enough experience has convinced me, but, of course, not all whites are devils.
They claim to be Christians but I wonder if they really know what it means to be Christian? Do they know what Christian values and practices are? Morally, most whites are not clean. Christianity encompasses all colours and races. Whites need to be told and educated about Christianity, not what they were taught 100 years ago. Christianity is one of the religions that that erases the race problem from society. It removes the white from the minds of white-skinned people. If whites could accept the oneness of God, then perhaps they too, could accept in reality, the oneness of humankind and cease to measure, hinder and harm others in terms of their difference of colour.
Whites should learn the true nature of faith, the essence of which is the brotherhood of humankind, irrespective of race, colour or creed, and total submission to the will of God. I am interested to know what is being preached and what message is conveyed by white churches. They should start shedding some of their racist views, attitudes and practices that they still uphold. I am not racist, and I am not saying the entire white population are racist. Whites should strive to live the life of true Christians.
The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI)
Earlier this year, Umsebenzi offered South African readers one of the first glimpses of the MAI. We argued then that this attempt to institutionalise capitalist globalisation presented a grave danger, and if not stopped, would cement the enslavement of the majority of the world's population. Here, we provide an 'update' on what has happened with the MAI and why the need to struggle for its abolishment is greater than ever.
There's been something missing from the highly publicised hand wringing over the continued crisis of global capitalism. Amidst all the explanations for what has gone wrong and for what can be done to get things back 'in order', little attention has been paid to the fate of probably the most important effort to institutionalise global capitalist rule - the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI).
Ostensibly arising out of the need to put into place guidelines on international investments to secure the confidence of investors, the MAI is nothing more than a crude attempt to implement a set of global rules that would limit the rights and ability of government's to regulate foreign investors and corporations. In its present form, the MAI would savage any pro-active role for governments (particularly those in the 'developing world') to affect economic development in favour of the majority, institute progressive environmental and labour standards, and retain and develop domestic industries.
Way back in 1995, long before the latest throes of capitalist crises, talks on the MAI were started in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Renato Ruggerio, Director General of the WTO, had the foresight to describe the talks as an attempt to write the "constitution of a single world economy". He was not far off the mark. Unfortunately, for Ruggerio and the western industrialised powers pushing for the MAI's quick adoption, the talks became bogged down. They were subsequently shifted to the more amenable terrain of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), made up of the 29 wealthiest countries in the world, and dominated by the capitalist 'democracies' of the West.
Fast forward to 1998. The economies of the so-called 'tigers' of Asia and Latin America are being reduced to a whimper, bringing untold misery to entire populations. Rampant capitalist speculation is out of control, threatening to unravel the carefully laid-out plans for a secure 'global order' that will ignite a new wave of prosperity. Most importantly for the dominant political and economic powers in the West though, their own economies are in danger of being overwhelmed by the resultant shock waves.
What to do?
Forget the string of rationalisations emanating from the bourgeois intelligentsia for a kinder, gentler capitalism. The real message coming out of this mess is, in the words of World Bank President James Wolfensohn, the need for a "new financial architecture". This would involve setting up new multilateral institutions in order to ensure "better coordination between national and international authorities" and to look into the "efficacy of measures taken by national governments". In other words, the MAI in everything but name. Or, put metaphorically, if the patients don't like the medicine then increase the dose and change the taste.
Indeed, over the last few months negotiations to implement the MAI, led by the U.S. government, were placed on the 'fast track' in the OECD - for good reason. The MAI's laissez-faire deregulatory agenda covers trade in currency, stocks and bonds as well as the ownership of land and natural resources. The MAI would also allow corporate capital to by-pass, and instigate legal proceedings against, any progressive developmental measures implemented by various states, that would interfere with their "legitimate" pursuit of business. These would include environmental regulations, human rights legislation, legal requirements for job creation and protection, public health measures and social clauses in public contracts.
Fortunately for the majority of the world's population, the MAI has been temporarily derailed. Helped along by the unrestrained arrogance of its main proponent - the U.S. government - and the understandable reluctance of less powerful western nations to forfeit aspects of their sovereignty, the MAI has, for how, succumbed to the valiant efforts of a multinational coalition of progressive NGOs, political parties, social movements and intellectuals. But, moves are already afoot that would see MAI negotiations transferred back to the WTO where the U.S. government, no doubt, feels it could now place greater pressure on developing nations to sign up.
Far from signalling the "end of history", this latest attempt to breathe new life into an ailing global capitalism, only serves to confirm the reality of the cyclical nature of capitalist crises - what goes around, comes around. Despite this welcome setback, the MAI remains a serious threat. If instituted, by whatever means, the MAI will effectively hold national and local development hostage to the 'free market' dictates of transnational corporations and the governments that support them. In effect, globalised capital will constitute a 'new' global government and the MAI will provide it with the legal framework within which to undermine national and local sovereignty.
to the Spanish High Court and the thousands who suffered under the dictatorship of Chilean General Pinochet, for having the integrity and courage to pursue the international prosecution of this ageing fascist for crimes against humanity. Because of these efforts, Pinochet was arrested while he was visiting Britain to receive medical treatment, purchase more armaments and say thanks to his right-wing British benefactors. While the final fate of the General is still to be determined, the case has opened the eyes of the world to the horrendous crimes committed by Pinochet and exposed those Western countries that provided the means to subjugate millions of Chileans for over 17 years. Red Star agrees with the sentiments expressed by women political prisoners in Chile when they stated:
"We do not know where the General will end up. As far as we are concerned, he can die. For now, we will rejoice in his despair, we will rejoice in the discomfort being felt by the General, the Army and the right-wing..."
to Minister of Health, comrade Nkosazana Zuma, for her unrelenting battle against the capitalist greed of pharmaceutical and medical aid corporations and their political allies (such as the Democratic Party), to provide the majority of South Africans with decent, affordable health care. Through their continuous, and failed, attempts to halt cde Zuma's progressive policies, these reactionaries have only further exposed the agenda of corporate capital as being in direct opposition to the interests of the masses. Likewise, cde Zuma's courageous and successful battle, shows that it is possible to struggle for, and implement, progressive alternatives to the barbarism of capitalist globalisation.
4 Thumbs Down to the Director General in the Finance Department, Maria Ramos, for her arrogant and dismissive attitude towards those campaigning for the issue of the SA debt to be taken seriously (see page). It is clear that Ramos has yet to learn that the citation of statistics, accompanied by tough-sounding words, does not substitute for real political debate. There are real political and economic issues surrounding the debt problem that seriously affect real people. But then again, Red Star understands that Ramos and many of her cohorts at the Finance Department seem to revel in their roles as the government's new 'technocratic managers'. Wake up and smell the debt Maria!
3 Thumbs Down to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court in the United States, for denying framed political prisoner, activist and writer, Mumia Abu-Jamal, his appeal for a new trial. This latest violation of Mumia's civil and human rights opens the way for his death warrant to be signed by the state governor. Such a move, which has only been delayed due to massive public opposition, would legalise the politically and racially-inspired frame-up to murder a man who has done nothing more than struggle against the oppressive capitalist system so ingrained in the so-called 'democracy' of the United States. Here at Red Star we still take internationalism seriously. All progressives must raise their voices loud and clear in defence of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Silence is the voice of complicity!
OF ACTION OF THE SACP
(as adopted by the 10th Congress)
From Theory To Practice
Build Peoples Power! Build Socialism Now!
Since the 9th Congress of the SACP there has been a distinct ideological consolidation and strategic coherence evolving in the SACP. Activists and leaders have increasingly wrestled with our 9th congress call to Deepen, Defend and Advance the Democratic Breakthrough, on one hand whilst on the other hand we have been grappling with the concrete meaning of our strategic slogan : Socialism is the Future, Build it Now! By 1997 the Central Committee adopted a programme of action to consolidate this socialist perspective in practise. The present Programme of Action is a development on the 1997 one and should be read and implemented in conjunction with it.
Since then, grounding our activities have thrown up experience, obstacles and challenges for reflection. Confronting this, at our 10th Congress, through the challenge of building peoples power and socialism we have continued our firm commitment to build a vibrant, dynamic and active Communist Party.
2. Build A Strong SACP!
The SACP has been and still is committed to building a strong ANC, COSATU and broad democratic movement in South Africa. While doing this, we will constantly strive to balance self development, as an independent political formation, while discharging our collective responsibilities within this movement.
At the same time, the 10th Congress of the SACP realised that building of the party and it's organisational form could not happen at the level of theoretical abstractions that locked us in a pre-occupation with mass versus vanguard. There was an overwhelming realisation that these weakness largely constituted an internal threat that was extremely self destructive and limiting on the political effectiveness of the party. Hence, the following challenges and organisational tasks have been identified for immediate, systematic and bold implementation.
These are as follows :
- Consolidating cadreship development - this is envisaged through intensified ongoing party political education work at every level of the party as well as a compulsory induction programme of all new members. Central Committee members deployed in provinces should also serve as political education resource for those provinces. Part of political education must be focussed at building women cadres.
- Every province to appoint a full-time political education officer - for whom resources have to mobilised. Furthermore there has to be a political education committee together with a common replicated programme at all three levels of the party.
- A Full time Provincial Office Bearer - although it is imperative for the provincial leadership, particularly office bearers, to have political responsibility for the day to day operations of the Party , it is necessary to encourage at least one full time office bearer who could have overall political authority and oversight over provincial activities;
- Reorientation of Provincial Councils - to ensure that quite regularly provincial council meeting focuses on organisational building through 'district and branch program assessments' as well as governance issues. The latter must allow for a sharing of information, strategic decision making, intra provincial connections on common issues, where necessary, that ensures that party impacts decisively on policymaking processes within government;
- Tighter Co-ordination on Gender issues - Gender structures must be established at every level, and there should also be tighter co-ordination of gender activities through out the party, particularly through provincial participation in the national gender forum; This should ease communication and improve co-operation between the head office and the provinces.
- Internal expansion of the Party - to ensure organisational capacity to implement the party programme. This amounts to establishing a host of departments and new internal structures like a "youth desk", policy department, international department, political education and organising unit as well as a media and culture department
- Widening the use of computer based technology and systems - to facilitate political efficiency and capacity that ensures proper recording of membership, levy and fee collection, channels of communication with head office and the wider organisational structures of the party and international solidarity forces;
- Targeted recruitment - aimed at intellectuals, worker leaders and shop stewards, community leaders and women. Furthermore, to strengthen the working class base of the party, there should be joint organising teams with Cosatu, geared at implementing Cosatu's 1997 congress resolution of building the party amongst workers. This joint team should monitor the implementation of the resolution.
There should also be systematic servicing of lapsed membership and key activists. Formally, and informally, comrades should be tasked to do this and not leave things to chance.
However, all of this cannot be realised without party building being linked directly to programme implementation and Communist political activity. The party has to grow out of, and from, struggles and more fundamentally a leap from theory to practice. Thus:
3. The Challenge of Building Worker and popular power - where we work and where we live
3.1 Worker power for socialism - where we work
The SACP has a special responsibility to work closely with the organised formations of the working class. This is the stratum of the working class that has traditions, numbers and capacity to play a leading strategic role in the struggle to consolidate the NDR and build socialism. The SACP'S work on this front must be directed to developing the class confidence, the political, strategic and leadership skills of workers. We must ensure that organised workers do not allow themselves to be confined to a narrow workerism, to narrow oppositionist and sectoral politics. They have to embrace a practice and strategy of transformative unionism.
To carry out this task the SACP must:
- establish industrial units - capable of conducting systematic socialist ideological work in major industrial localities through amongst other initiatives, like Umsebenzi, African Communist discussion groups etc
- greatly extend our joint program of political education with our trade union allies
- jointly convene socialist forums
- encourage worker plans, that draws on the knowledge, experience and skills of workers to ensure production is geared around meeting basic needs rather than profits. This means worker plans must put forward alternatives for their enterprises and industries.
- emphasize the strategic objective of worker participation, control and ownership;
- the new LRA opens the possibility of democratisation of the management function, which presents challenges that communist and workers must critical engage with.
In working class struggles, and in legislative and other policy making process directly affecting workers and in the world of labour, the SACP must always uphold a longer term vision of the transformation and democratisation of the economy.
The SACP must seek to defend and advance those measures that increase the power of workers over the production process, that enhances self management, that weakens ownership and managerial monopoly exerted by the capitalist class.
The SACP must also, always, seek to unite working people, underline their common strategic interests, across the divides of race, ethnicity, gender, and, in the case of thousands migrant workers, country of origin.
3.2 Building people's power for socialism - where we live
Working closely with our allies - the ANC, COSATU locals, other MDM, CBOs and progressive NGOs - the SACP must constantly seek to build the capacity of working class and poor communities, to enable them to become active participants in their own ongoing liberation. This means we have to immerse ourselves in developmental, democratization and transformational struggles. These include :
Socialising provincial and local government - by ensuring popular participation in policymaking, budgeting, legislative drafting and development planning. This can be further enhanced by tightening the connection between comrades engaged in governance, like local councillors, with community based formations. In addition the party needs to draw on its international links with Communists in other parts of the world that have experience with local and provincial government, to enhance capacity;
Popular involvement and leadership of Community Institutions - by the SACP and the alliance leading and mobilising communities to ensure popular participation and guidance of the - CPFs, Hospital Boards, Water Committees, Schools Governance, LDFs, structures dealing with the disabled, etc. It is particular important to note that CPFs are potentially important tools to empower communities to fight crime and to democratise police services. Similar possibilities of democratising education can also be found in the provisions related to school governance.
Community Based Campaigns - which enhance community solidarity, collective identities and co-operative styles of life. Such campaigns could include brigades to clean grave yards, particularly in rural communities, providing protection for pensioners and cleaning of schools and streets, house building, savings clubs, places of safety for abused women and children, networks of support and development for the disabled. We need to embark on the implementation and the popularisation of the national crime prevention strategy, on its objectives, its essence and content, with special emphasis on registration as police reservists, participation in community policing forums, fighting to put an end to domestic violence, child molestation, abuse and women battering.
Building an alternative economic front - which should harness social movements, hawkers, burial societies, stokvels, worker provident funds, the unemployed, landless rural poor, the disabled and small and medium enterprises to build new economic relations. This should centre around collectively developing strategies for local economic development, building a co-operative movement and confronting the banks around 'bad' debts, as well as the establishment of people's budget forums at a local level. Such people's budget forums must set up local development priorities, which could also empower communities to understand the constraints and possibilities of budgeting. The party should also facilitate the establishment of mechanisms for interacting with financial institutions to access finances, e.g. loans, credits and promote progressive solutions to debts.
Locally based literacy and education initiatives - that utilises schools and other community resources to create a culture of adult learning, whilst also encouraging a culture of learning as well as popular involvement in broad education issues.
Campaigns to defend and sustain the environment - the SACP must be at the forefront of struggles to expose, and struggle against, the plundering and abuse of the environment by capital, as well as to protect the environment from individual and communities. In rural areas it should initiate campaigns that prevent soil erosion and alternative uses of energy and resources. We should also engage in struggles to limit smog in urban areas and campaign for heavy penalties on polluters and target youth to develop environmental awareness. We should also engage in struggles to protect indigenous knowledge, to oppose toxic waste dumping and to ensure health, safety and environmental protection on the farms, and in mines and factories.
Developing a culture of a Communist presence - these should take the form of constant pamphleteering, selling of party literature, street talks and debates, as well community-focused communist activity.
Build a rural popular movement- Communists must also pay close attention to the needs and aspiration of working people in the rural areas and on farms. Working together with NGOs in this sector we must ensure that a popular rural movement is created.
4. Building the alliance
4.1 Elections support for the ANC
This 10th SACP Congress resolved that only the alliance led by the ANC is capable of transforming this country in a progressive direction. Precisely because of this understanding, all communists in our country shall mobilise for a decisive ANC victory. We call upon all our provincial structures to develop election structures that immediately involve themselves in the overall election effort.
4.2 Consolidating a working alliance
The party should work hard to ensure that the alliance works nationally, provincially and locally. It is critical that together, as an alliance, we assume civic like activities, to ensure that we maintain a dynamic relation with the people. As an alliance we should hold regular co-ordinating meetings, as well periodic summits to evaluate the direction and scope of transformation.
Importantly, we should, as an alliance, constantly interface on issues of governance and engage with comrades who are deployed in government.
5. Building Socialism where we live - our region, our continent, our world
As South African communists we live and work not just in our townships and factories and mines - we live in a particular region (southern Africa), and in a continent (Africa) that have been devastated by colonialism, imperialism, neo-liberalism, apartheid and cold war proxy conflicts. We must approach our socialist tasks as South African Communists with a clear understanding of the world in which we live.
As the SACP we must assume responsibility for popularising and involving millions of our people in:
- The struggle for regional reconstruction and development
- For an African Renaissance that is based on principled anti-imperialism, and genuine democratisation and development as well as the promotion of the interests of the working class and the poor in our continent
We must therefore:
- Be active in solidarity campaigns for those fighting against anti-democratic regimes in our region and continent,
- Struggle to cancel the debt of the poorest African countries, and for effective debt relief for others,
- Be active in the struggle against xenophobia, and for progressive immigration policies
- Broaden our regional and African solidarity to include the Third World more generally.
In the third part of our "Understanding the Basics of Our Struggle" series, Umsebenzi tries to get to grips with the latest phase of imperialism - globalisation. The confusion surrounding this term is misplaced. Globalisation is nothing more, and nothing less, than the "new" phase of capitalist relations on a global scale. A clear understanding of its main features allows us to argue, and struggle, for practical alternatives that will not only undermine the basis for globalisation, but will begin to move us towards socialism.
From around 1973 we have seen another major phase of imperialism. All of the features of imperialism we noted in our last edition have been intensified in these last 25 years. We have seen that in the last quarter of the 19th century it was a crisis of over-accumulation that led to the first major phase of imperialism. Much the same happened in the mid-1970s. Production slowed down in the major capitalist countries. The oil price shot up, and the Middle East oil-producing countries made billions of dollars they could not invest productively. They put the money into European banks. The Western banks were awash with billions of "petro-dollars". This was the immediate backdrop to a new round of intensified capitalist globalisation.
The main features of this new phase of globalisation are:
- a global casino economy, dominated by trillions of speculative dollars being traded every day; this has been helped by
- major technology advances in information and communications - the computer revolution, cell phones, the Internet, satellite TV, CNN etc.
- the growth of Transnational Corporations (TNCs)
In the earlier period of imperialism, the main capitalist firms were huge Multi-national Corporations. These were corporations with their main productive base located in an imperialist home-market - in the United States or Britain, Germany, Japan etc. While headquartered in countries like these, they drew their raw materials from major operations in the Third World. This is why they had a multi-national character.
Over the last 25 years, increasingly, the imperialist economy has been dominated by TNCs. More and more, production itself is organised transnationally. For instance, a shoe will be designed in Italy. The design will be downloaded on a computer to three other production centres. The soles will be produced in Indonesia, the uppers in Mexico, and the two will be stitched together, perhaps, in South Korea.
According to the United Nations Development Programme, 50 of the world's 100 richest "economies" are no longer countries, but TNCs. Five hundred TNCs now account for 30% of the world's total output. The monopolisation of the economy, noted by Lenin 80 years ago, has been massively intensified.
This huge historical process, going on in our times, has resulted in deepening inequality, oppression and human misery. While the richest countries in the world have become richer, most of the world has become poorer. The African continent has been increasingly marginalised in the world economy. In the 1950s, Africa had a mere 3% of world trade. By 1995 it was down to a miserable 1%. Even in the richest countries, there have been growing inequalities in these last 25 years. In the US the ratio between the wages of blue-collar workers and top management was 1:41 in 1975. In 1994 it had widened to 1:189.
The increasing global power of financial capital is another obvious feature of our times. Over the last 25 years, many of the gains of post-independence Africa have been rolled back. In a sense, Africa has been re-colonised by the imperialist powers. But this re-colonisation has been carried out not so much by imperialist armies. It has been international bankers (using the IMF and the World Bank), manipulating the debt problem, who have undermined the independence of many countries on our continent.
What can we do about globalisation?
As Fidel Castro said recently: "We can condemn globalisation and we can condemn gravity. But it is more useful to devise concrete strategies to deal with both realities."
1. What is happening and what we are told - a big difference The first strategy we must develop is to distinguish what is actually happening from what we are told is happening. Like gravity, globalisation is a real process. The technological advances, the growing economic integration of the world - these are realities. But around these realities, neo-liberals weave many mythologies. We are told that:
- the world is now a "global free market" - to benefit from this, a developing country like South Africa must "free its market" through privatisation, deregulation and flexible labour;
- we must all become "competitive", and that
- an "export-led" economy that focuses on "growth" at any cost will, in the long-run, produce social and developmental gains.
It is easy to demonstrate that there is much mythology in this neo-liberal advice:
- the world is not a "global free market". When South Africa tries to buy pharmaceuticals at the lowest price, we are told by powerful US pharmaceutical companies that we cannot buy from Denmark or India, we have to buy the same medicines at a higher price direct from the US.
- while we are told to "free" our economy, the major imperialist powers are certainly not doing this themselves. For instance, European Union agricultural products are subsidised by 50%, compared to our 15%
- we are told to be "competitive". But when we succeed in producing highly competitive steel, and we export it to the US, we are told that we are being "unfair", that we are "dumping" products on the US market, and undermining US steel producers
- while the developed countries have spent decades building up their infrastructure, their education, their skills - in Africa we are told that we must get on with "trade" and forget about "aid". We are told that we must focus on export-led growth at any cost, and that "other things" like reconstruction and development "will follow" later. In fact, no society has succeeded in developing itself and its economy without massive investments in internal development
Having criticised the neo-liberal myths, our second main strategy must be to :
2. Globalise solidarity
Progressive working class and socialist forces have never run away from capitalism's tendency to extend its operations worldwide. Rather than retreat, our agenda must be to advance an alternative view of globalisation. Having uncovered the neo-liberal myths of "globalisation", we must seek to set a new global strategy.
The injustice and growing misery caused by capitalist globalisation means that we are not alone in seeking to pose a different global agenda.
- the increasing trans-nationalisation of capitalist corporations creates conditions for greater international worker solidarity. Workers in the West are no longer cushioned. There is mass unemployment in the EU, for instance. The prospects of First World and Third World worker solidarity have greatly improved;
- the instability brought about by the vast flows of speculative finance capital is a matter of concern to many capitalists and leading governments. The recent "Asian" financial collapse threatens capitalism internationally. While the agenda of these forces will be different to our own, their problems create much wider space for exploring alternatives, for calling for greater regulation, etc.
- the obvious failures of the IMF and the World Bank in Africa, also create space for advancing more progressive agendas - that include debt cancellation, developmental aid and not just trade, and the need for regional and continental solidarity
There is one more interesting fact to note. Many of the technical advances brought about by globalisation are also available to progressive forces. In seeking to build global solidarity, we must exploit to the maximum the new possibilities offered by Internet, e-mail, instant information on distant struggles, etc.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto. In it, they noted how capitalism always does two things - it deepens oppression, but it creates the material conditions for greater international solidarity at the same time. This insight is more valid than ever.
people's power for people's education:
Strategic Challenges in the transformation of education
Cde President, Willie Madisha, Cde General Secretary, Thulase Nxesi, the leadership of COSATU and its affiliates present here, Alliance leadership, the national, provincial and local leaderships of SADTU, international guests, comrade delegates. The SACP is indeed deeply honoured to have been invited to come and address your National Congress today. We took this invitation very seriously, because we believe that SADTU is one of the most important and strategically placed unions in the struggle to defend, consolidate and deepen the National Democratic Revolution.
As the SACP we firmly believe that without a strong and dynamic SADTU our struggles to transform education would be severely hampered. SADTU represents a very important sector of the working class as a whole. It is that sector of the working class whose primary function in society is the production and reproduction of ideas. This question of ideas, as a matter of interest, has been raised very sharply by Cde Fidel Castro in his speech at the Hector Peterson memorial in Soweto last Saturday. The essence of his message was that in any struggle, the question of ideas, is one of the most critical dimensions of any struggle.
Teachers are indeed at the cutting edge of the struggle for the production of particular ideas over others. Indeed ideas are not only, nor primarily produced, in the education sphere. But there is no doubt that the education sphere is an important site and instrument for producing and circulating ideas.
Cde President, I notice that the theme of your Congress talks about quality education. This is a very important theme. However we also need to ask the question as to what kind of ideas should inform what we call quality education. Quality education should not only be about efficiency in teaching and learning, but it should also be about what ideas underpin what we teach and learn. Quality education should produce and reproduce ideas of social equality, justice, and ideas that challenge exploitation and oppression of whatever form. I might as well ask a rhetorical question: Are the ideas contained in what many of you teach in business economics, economics or history ideas against poverty, against oppression and indeed against capitalist exploitation? My guess is that it is no.
It is for this reason that my address to you today is about politics: the politics of the national democratic revolution and within that the politics of educational transformation. I would open by contextualising educational transformation within the current global/international context; followed by our own national political context and then attempt to identify some key strategic challenges in education and the role of a union like SADTU.
1. Globalisation and its impact on educational provision The phenomenon of globalisation, simply put, reflects the dominance of transnational private corporations in the current world economic order. These transnational corporations have influenced governments of the developed world and multi-national institutions to design a set of economic rules that favour the intensified accumulation of capital and profits throughout the whole globe. Most of these transnationals are located in the rich countries of Europe and North America.
The dominant ideas of globalisation are known as neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism essentially argues that there is no other route to addressing problems facing humanity other than through the system of capitalism - private accumulation of profits. Neo-liberal prescriptions for poor countries to catch up with rich countries, they must open their economies - deregulation - and liberalise them so that the market forces can operate freely. Furthermore neo-liberalism argues that it is the private sector that is best placed to provide for the needs of the people, thus calling for the privatisation of practically all productive activities and delivery services to the people. Arising out of this the state is therefore seen as an obstacle to the development of society, and therefore it must be rolled back in order to allow for the market to operate freely. The role of the state is reduced to a creator and guarantor of conditions for the full operation of the market.
The current global economic crisis is a very grim reminder to all of us that the idea of neo-liberalism is a lie and that capitalism can never address the needs of humanity. It is a false idea whose only promise is to the rich and their surrogates in the developing world. The current economic crisis - as characterised by collapse of stock-exchanges throughout the world, rising interest rates, massive unemployment - is in essence a crisis of capitalism. It is also a crisis of neo-liberalism. The capitalist market can never deliver to the poor, but is an instrument for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. What is even more frightening is that the current crisis is even threatening to roll back the very significant initiatives of black business, let alone the small and medium enterprise sector. This goes to show that capitalism is not capable of empowering people, particularly those who have been excluded for such a long time.
The current global economic order and its present crisis is having a devastating effect on developing countries and the poor. Its impact on educational provision has been two-fold. Firstly, neo-liberal pressure has led to these countries cutting drastically on social spending, including education. One has to look at countries like Zimbabwe and Tanzania, which had invested a lot of financial resources in education immediately after independence. All these gains have been seriously eroded. Even worse, in the case of Zimbabwe, with failure of its structural adjustment programme in 1995, the IMF was still pressuring the country that the reason why there was a failure is because Zimbabwe hadn't privatised enough. So this reminds me of castor oil. The more you spit it out, the more your mother says take more.
The second impact of neo-liberalism on education is that the very ideas that are taught at schools and universities reflect this dominant thinking. It is for this reason that you as educators need to question very seriously what you teach. I believe that Curriculum 2005 provides just such an opportunity to engage in a new type of educational practice: an education against exploitation, and education for social and economic justice. This is in fact one of the key strategic challenges facing us in education in general and SADTU in particular. The question is whether SADTU is ready to embark on this battle for alternative ideas in the education sphere and as part of engaging capitalist globalisation. I believe that you should use this Congress not only to debate this question but to come up with a clear programme of action in this regard. As part of such a programme of action is how the question of globalisation itself should be analysed and analysed by your membership, not as some distant external phenomenon, but as something that impacts daily in your own struggles and activities. Therefore, Cde President, the struggle for a quality education should centrally involve critical engagement with globalisation and a challenge to the ideas of neo-liberalism.
I hope that it now becomes clearer as to why parties like the NP and DP oppose all major education legislation in our country. The pretend as if they fight for the rights of school governing bodies, when in fact they want to use such school governing bodies to roll back the role of the state in education. The Grove Court challenge was in essence opposing the redeployment of teachers, in the name of protecting the powers of governing bodies, so that the current racially skewed distribution of teachers remains untouched.
1. People's power and key strategic challenges facing educational transformation in South Africa
The 10th Congress of the SACP adopted the slogan: "Build People's Power, Build Socialism now!" We believe that this slogan captures the key strategic challenge for all the democratic forces in our country, and in particular those forces that stand for socialism. This slogan is a call to action to the working class, guiding it to approach the question of building people's power now from the standpoint of our strategic objective to build socialism in South Africa.
It is also not a just a co-incidence that the January 8 statement of the ANC had also focused on this question of building people's power in order to consolidate the National Democratic Revolution. One might as well ask why is it that this concept of people's power, once more comes to take centre-stage in the thinking of our movement at this point in time. As you might well know comrades, ideas do not just arise out of people's head, but are usually a reflection of the stage at which our struggle is. Some of the reasons why this concept is coming to dominate our movement include the following:
- With our experiences in government over the last four years, we are sensing a danger of a bureaucratically-driven as opposed to a people-driven transformation process
- Secondly, this arises out of the fact that holding state power, incomplete as it is, is inadequate unless rooted in the power of the mass of the people on the ground
- The best defenders of a revolution are the mass of the people on the ground. In other words when we are talking about people's power, we are talking about the dialectical combination of state and mass power. The SACP Congress identified the question of building people's power as a key objective in the overall struggle to deepen, defend and consolidate the NDR.
2.1 What is people's power?
But what do we mean by "people's power" Cde George Mashamba wrote in 1988: "The concept of people's power is not equivalent to that of political power. It is that and more... People's power is people's sovereignty not only in parliamentary politics, but in educational, economic and cultural spheres, i.e. in the practical control of public affairs in the economy, education and culture". As the SACP we believe that this is the correct understanding of people's power. What this means is that the political struggle for the total transfer of power to the people, is always related to the struggle for control in each specific sphere of social life.
For the SACP the building of people's power in itself should lay the foundations for a transition to socialism. There can be no true people's power in a capitalist society, since people's power is not only limited to formal political institutions, but to the economic sphere as well. Under capitalism, it is only the minority which is wealthy that benefits from the economy. The majority of the people are left hungry, impoverished and used as a means to make profits.
Therefore our struggle for a people-centred democracy should simultaneously and progressively challenge the capitalist system itself. Denial of the reality that there can be no full democracy under capitalism represents the most unprincipled and opportunistic betrayal of the interests of the working class.
In the education sphere building people's power means that we should as a matter of strategic priority throw our full weight in building active, dynamic and democratic governing bodies throughout the education system. We should not forget that it was through our struggles and sacrifices that we fought for the kinds of governing bodies that are for instance now legislated in the Schools Act. The fact that ex-Model C schools want to use the powers of school governing bodies to maintain the white character of these schools should tempt us into denuding governing bodies of their powers. Rather we should devise strategies to transform those very governing bodies in ex-Model C schools. Also where we feel that the powers of governing bodies to recommend the appointment of teachers threaten centralised collective bargaining, we should not be tempted to strip these governing bodies of powers. Rather we should strike the correct balance between centralised bargaining, which must be protected at all costs, and at the same time give governing bodies a say in the appointment of teachers. This is what I believe the Employment of Educators' Bill has done.
2.2 Fighting the scourge of careerism and patronage and being exemplary
Building people's power in education also means a strong SADTU, but much more importantly strong structures at school level. I hope that this Congress will address the question of strong and dynamic site committees with adequate support from organisers and regional committees. You might even want to consider smaller branches so that they are able to service and be closer to the site committees.
Much more importantly building people's power in broader society means that our organisations must be exemplary in this regard. One of the scourges we must fight against is that of careerism and patronage. There is now a tendency for some comrades not to think through their heads but to think through their stomachs in order to secure senior positions for themselves. They form cliques and secret cabals within organisations in order to dispense favours and strengthen their own individual positions. This threat is becoming more serious in the broader liberation movement as we now also have cabinet, MECs and councillor positions. If there is one phenomenon that threatens to kill democracy in our organisations it is careerism and patronage. These trends must be strongly condemned and exposed. But one sure way of dealing with these is to build strong and fearless organisation where comrades are accountable and not do things in an individualistic manner. In fact careerism and patronage leads to corruption and decay of organisation. We must fight these two scourges with all the power we have, wherever they arise and in any part of the broad liberation movement.
2.3 Key strategic challenges in educational transformation
a. I think we should openly admit here that since the democratic breakthrough of April 1994, we have not managed to sustain a broad democratic front in education.
The democratic movement has the best policies in education, but is in the area of participation as a movement in the implementation of these policies where we have been lacking. As a result there is a creeping tendency within our own ranks to want to wait and see what government does and then merely react. This is not healthy and is a sign of lack of co-ordination within the Tripartite Alliance and the broad democratic movement . SADTU is very strategically placed to play a critical role in rebuilding a strong mass democratic movement in education. We must also admit that over the last two years we are beginning to lose the strategic initiative in education, thus finding ourselves on the defensive from attacks by reactionary forces. Much more seriously we have been acting in a fragmented and not unified manner. There can be no people's power in the education sphere without a strong mass democratic movement. I hope that you will discuss this question at this Congress, particularly the role that SADTU should play.
b. From within the above to commonly and openly debate the key strategic and tactical challenges in education. One of the urgent tasks is to turn the education system around and take it out of its apartheid rut. But this requires maximum vigilance, commitment and sacrifice. We must not make the mistake that commitment and sacrifice was only needed in the era of the struggle against the apartheid regime. Perhaps we need more of that now than ever before. We have made a lot of positive advances in education, despite the problems that still need to be addressed. Government has developed a comprehensive set of legislation and policies, now it is our time to fulfill our side of the deal by making these a reality on the ground.
c. Building the policy capacity of the democratic movement. It is very important that we should enhance our policy capacity so that we are able to effectively ensure people's participation in the process of governance and transformation. It is important that we do not allow our policy units to collapse as this will severely affect our capacity to engage.
d. Perhaps much more importantly is to consciously develop a cadreship within the education sphere. Many of our cadres are now playing an important role in government, but this has weakened the democratic movement significantly. We therefore need to pay particular attention to the systematic training and development of an education cadreship, able to relate educational transformation to the tasks of defending the deepening the NDR
3. Specific challenges facing SADTU
I would like to conclude my address by perhaps venturing into areas where I believe we need to frank and honest. My point of departure is still that without a strong and unified SADTU there can be no democratic transformation of our education system. But in order to realise this we need to honestly address some of the weakness and clarify some key strategic questions
a. One of the key challenges facing any component of the democratic movement, particularly unions, is the question of how to advance the interests of one's members without at the same time undermining the democratic government. Conversely how does a union like SADTU strengthen this democratic government without becoming a sweetheart union, thus sacrificing the legitimate interests of its members. This is a critical and strategic balance that we must maintain. However, the anchor to attaining such a balance is to continuously struggle for a transformation process increasingly biased towards the working class. Such a bias can only be maintained if the working class builds itself into a force for socialism and at the head of the democratic revolution.
b. SADTU to take a much more visible and consistent role in the COLTS. This is in fact one of the key challenge facing SADTU now. SADTU will have to overcome the image that it is only interested in salaries and working conditions and not taking a leading role in COLTS. This Congress will have to come out with a very clear programme and campaigns in this regard
c. SADTU also needs to expose those teachers who lack discipline and do not do their work. It is a fact that within your membership there are teachers who still do far less and are simply not teaching. Such teachers are in fact a threat to our revolution, as failure to transform education is to let down millions of our people. Let us flush these teachers, not only out of our unions but out of the education system. They do not deserve to be teachers, and they destroy the image of the union and the teaching profession.
d. Need to undertake systematic cadre development and political education. Unless site stewards are politically trained to understand the key strategic questions of the day, SADTU will be weakened and thus the entire movement for the transformation of education. The SACP is very keen undertake joint political schools with SADTU throughout the provinces. In fact why don't we commit ourselves to running political schools in all provinces within the next 6 months, and within a further 12 months to have all these replicated throughout the lower structures of SADTU.
e. As part of the political education process we would seek co-operation with SADTU to build SACP branches in line with the COSATU resolution of building SACP industrial branches
f. A key challenge is that of strengthening the Tripartite Alliance. We must avoid ultra-left recklessness of wanting to break the Alliance, just as we should avoid its opposite - a rightist opportunist ploy to bleed the Alliance to death through sidelining of the SACP and later COSATU.
Comrade President, I would like to end by giving a comradely and communist warning to you and your delegates here. There is currently an intensified attack on communist and left forces in this country. Some of it comes from the old anti-Communist forces of the apartheid era. But much more seriously there is also a much more disguised and cynical attack on our Party. This comes in a sophisticated guise on what we mean about socialism and an attempt to project us as an irresponsible communist talk-shop. You must know that an attack on the SACP is in essence an attack on workers as well. Failure by workers to build, defend and make this Communist Party their own, will ultimately lead to the demise of organised workers themselves. As the SACP we say to you today, here we are, and as communists we are sons and daughters of South Africa's working class and we represent nothing else other than your political interests. We have been in the trenches with the South African people as a whole in the struggle against apartheid. We shall continue, no matter what the cost, to be in the trenches with you in the struggle for democracy and socialism. We shall not deviate an inch from this commitment, under any circumstances.
With these words the SACP wishes you very successful deliberations in your Congress
General Secretary, SACP
7 September 1998