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

Subscribe to

Umsebenzi Online

Alternatively visit this group.

Subscribe to

Communist University

Alternatively visit this group.

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


PO Box 1027,
Johannesburg 2000,
South Africa

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

The latest Umsebenzi Online

Why the assassin must not be granted parole
Read more

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

Umsebenzi Online

Red Alert: Build working class power, build a strong, united ANC

Blade Nzimande, General Secretary

The ANC's mid-term National General Council is upon us. This is indeed a very important gathering of our movement, coming as it does as we move deeper into the second decade of our freedom. The SACP appreciates that we have been invited to participate actively in the NGC. It is an opportunity for frank and open reflection on our collective strengths, weaknesses and on the challenges facing our entire movement (including allied formations). There must be no holy cows. As a contribution to the process, we have brought out this special edition of Umsebenzi Online.

In this edition we publish an analysis of the challenges facing our movement. We also publish SACP discussion notes on two of the ANC NGC documents. Our interventions are direct and frank, and we trust that that they will contribute to a comradely debate at the NGC and beyond.

In our discussion papers we deal with a wide range of general issues. But the forthcoming NGC also takes place against the immediate background of the withdrawal from office of the second most senior office-bearer in government and in the ANC, cde Jacob Zuma. Cde Zuma will now be formally charged with corruption. Whatever our views on these developments, it is obvious that they pose a very serious challenge for our movement, and they will need to be managed in a unifying, non-factionalist manner. We must all approach the forthcoming NGC with a solid commitment to deepen the unity of our movement. It is a conjuncture that calls for soberness, political clarity and a struggle against all forms of pettiness.

It is important to ensure that we do not lose sight of the core strategic challenges facing our revolution at this juncture. As we enter the second decade of our freedom, the working class is embarking on a major mobilization drive and struggles to contest the current, brutal capitalist accumulation path that still grinds on in our country. It is a trajectory that has shed over a million jobs, without creating nearly sufficient new jobs. This last week COSATU - our ally and largest trade union federation in our country - launched its jobs and poverty campaign, with nationwide pickets in shopping malls, protesting the failure by the major clothing retailers to source their products locally. This is to be followed by a national stayaway and marches in the major centres of our country from Monday 27 June 2005.

In previous editions of Umsebenzi Online we have pledged our full support to this action, which is scheduled to roll-on for the next nine months. On our side we have started mobilization of all our Party structures to ensure that this rolling mass action is a success. The NGC must itself reflect upon the key issues that are being raised by the trade union movement.

The NGC also takes place against the backdrop of the forthcoming G8 Summit. We are already being lectured to by some in the financial media, we are being told that we should do all the "right" things to ensure that the G8 countries "reward" us with investments. There are ideological forces in our country, like the DA, whose entire political programme is premised on genuflecting to the G8. Whether it is the developments around cde Zuma or worker rights, these forces do not give our local challenges their own value and dignity - they are all conceptualized as useful sacrifices to the G8, tokens of our compliance. These forces do not look at their own country with the eyes of South Africans, but always through the lens of messrs. Standard and Poor. Of course, we have been here before. In the latter part of the 1990s, we were told that getting the macro-economic "fundamentals" would be richly rewarded with huge flows of foreign investment. We are still waiting.

We are not arguing that we can somehow insulate ourselves entirely from global realities. But to seek to meekly and uncritically ingratiate ourselves with imperialism, without simultaneously seeking to mobilize our own domestic resources, using the domestic political balance of forces favourable to the national democratic bloc of forces, will simply take us back to where we have been over the last 11 years. We are pleased that government's recent policy thrust is now much more towards this more balanced approach. A critical challenge of the NGC, therefore, is (as we note in one of the papers published here) to mobilize the "collective power of millions of workers and rural and urban poor, whose collective strength has defeated the most obdurate and entrenched of colonial systems in Africa".

For our part as the SACP we will strive to contribute towards building a strong ANC and a strong Alliance, based on advancing the interests of the workers and the poor as a basis for advancing the rest of society. We will contribute to this by escalating our own mass mobilization around our major campaigns on land, the financial sector and the building of co-operatives. It is absolutely clear, as our Special Congress in April noted, that further decisive advances in our national democratic revolution can only be made through the intensified mobilization of the key motive forces of the national democratic revolution. We believe this should be one of the key tasks for the NGC, building a campaigning ANC rooted in the mass of the people on the ground, the key motive forces of the revolution. 


SACP Discussion Documents on the ANC' s NGC   

The challenge of building a strong, united ANC - rooted in its revolutionary values and traditions

For the SACP to play its socialist vanguard role we need a progressive, mass-based ANC. We need an ANC that is capable of leading its alliance and our society in the ongoing struggle to advance and defend the national democratic revolution. For nearly 80 years this has been the Communist Party's strategy for socialism in South Africa. Since the democratic breakthrough of 1994, we have reaffirmed this strategic perspective at all of our national congresses. We are committed to building a powerful, pro-worker and pro-poor ANC and ANC-led alliance.

This strategy remains entirely relevant. Let no-one doubt the depth of persisting popular support for the ANC. The 70% victory the ANC scored in last year's elections was not a fluke. Let no-one doubt the many progressive gains that have been spearheaded in 11 years by an ANC-led government. Let us also salute the inspiring and tireless role our government has played in advancing the cause of peace and democracy in our continent.

However, it would be na? to believe that all is well within the ANC. We say this as ANC cadres ourselves, not as critics looking in from the outside. The state of affairs within our ANC brings no joy, nor do we imagine that the SACP is somehow immune to the problems afflicting the ANC. Indeed, because of its central role within government and within our society, problems within the ANC have a major impact upon us all.

These problems are a matter of public knowledge. They are endlessly discussed throughout ANC ranks. They include organisational, ideological and moral challenges.

Organisational problems
The organisational symptoms of a serious internal problem include:

ANC provincial, regional and branch structures that are often dysfunctional and preoccupied with factional divisions. Some ANC provinces have had to postpone their conferences several times. Others have held conferences that are divided down the middle into two or more rival factions with competing and mutually excluding electoral lists. These factions tend to be based on networks of personalised patronage, often with little discernible ideological difference between them.

While ANC structures are often relatively vibrant during electoral campaigns, they are otherwise more or less dormant when it comes to on-the-ground activism. The month-to-month preoccupation of branch structures is typically competition for local government tenders, or the annual effort to quorate. This is also reflected by inability of the ANC to lead sustained mass campaigns outside of election campaigns, and failure to meaningfully participate in Alliance campaigns.

Structures are often controlled by gate-keepers, and the majority of ANC branches appear to be deliberately contained to marginally more than the 100-member constitutional minimum requirement. This is partly to facilitate achieving an annual quorum - 51 members are easier to assemble than several hundreds. But 100-member branches are also easier to control and manipulate.

Ideological stagnation According to media reports, President Mbeki recently told an ANC NEC meeting that the ANC had become "de-ideologised". We agree with this appraisal.

To be fair, this "de-ideologisation" should be appreciated partly in the context of the difficult global period in which the ANC came to power. By the early 1990s, the Soviet socialist and most third world post-independence national democratic models had either collapsed or were in full retreat. As for an alternative social democratic centre-left model, the leading exponents were exploring a vacuous "third way".

Apart from these international realities, our "de-ideologisation" has also related to the challenge of governing. With the international left in disarray, there has been an understandable (but problematic) tendency to become narrowly technocratic, and to rely on external consultants, many of them located within or trained by North-based think-tanks.

Technical competence is obviously essential for good governance, but the language of technocrats, of "international best practice", and of "bench-marking" is never going to be the ideological glue that holds together the cadres of a broad, mass-based ANC. For this reason, accompanying the language of technocrats there has been the continued evocation of a vocabulary derived from the ANC's revolutionary past ("strategy and tactics", "balance of forces", "working class leadership").

The ideological discourse of the ANC over the last decade has, as a result, tended to be an uncomfortable blend of GEAR-speak and of traditional Morogoro-era ANC concepts. But the latter have tended to be hollowed-out words, reduced, at best, to so-called "tools of analysis", and always ultimately subordinate to techno-speak. Instead of a robust strategic interrogation of the current global realities, of the contemporary systemic features of capitalism and the renewal of a radical, third-world national democratic project, we have words that are no longer anchored in their original meanings.

Motive forces?
This tendency to evoke hollowed-out concepts is plain to see, for instance, in the concept of "motive forces of the revolution". The concept derives from the Marxist tradition, and has been used to refer to the core revolutionary forces in a given situation - described both in class and, where appropriate, national terms. A motive force is, as the words suggest, a social force that has both capacity and interest to drive a revolutionary process to its fullest conclusion. The motive forces have always been distinguished from a wider range of social strata and groups that are actually or potentially "friendly" forces, allies that can be won over in varying degrees to the side of the revolution, without themselves having the capacity to drive the revolution.

In the 1950s, for instance, white democrats as a social category were seen as friendly forces, but never remotely as a motive force in their own right. Likewise, in the 1980s we understood those defying conscription in South Africa, or solidarity movements in Europe, to be "friendly" forces.

However, since 1997 the ANC has been defining all classes, strata and groups that "stand to gain" from the NDR as "motive forces". Material self-interest rather than revolutionary capacity has become the defining feature. Worse still, in practice, the individual, self-righteous appetites of certain strata are sanctioned as "motive forces". This amounts to a 21st century South African re-make of Adam Smith's liberal notion of individual self-interest on the market-place contributing inexorably to the greater good of all. Emerging black capitalists, white democrats, black intellectuals, all and sundry are now defined as "motive forces". If you bear in mind that one of our core election slogans is "A Better Life for All", then theoretically EVERYONE is a motive force, since everyone stands to benefit!

This is not just a debate about words. If all and sundry are motive forces, then your organisational and mobilisational strategies will lack clear focus and strategic purpose. And this, unfortunately, is exactly what has transpired in practice. There is a problematic symbiosis, then, between the organisational problems of the ANC noted above, and the de-ideologisation of the last decade.

NGC Papers
The "de-ideologisation" of the ANC is also evidenced in the uneven quality of the NGC discussion papers (two of which are discussed elsewhere in this issue of Umsebenzi). The problem is even more evident in the "missing paper" of the NGC. For more than four years an ANC NEC task group has been busy with an "Organisational Design" proposal. The discussion paper from the work of this group was to have formed a key part of the NGC. But no final version of the paper has emerged.

The task group appears to have based its approach on a study of social democratic parties in Europe and Australia. In these parties, the pursuit of a "third way" has gone hand in hand with a major organisational overhaul. Trade union movements (the founding nucleus of these parties) have been marginalized. The parties have "modernised" themselves to appeal to "middle strata". There is an increasing focus on narrow electoral politics with all of the paraphernalia of US-style electioneering. The party apparatus is now centred around a "branded" leader, whose face is better known than the party's policies. Spin-doctors and image consultants displace constituency organisers and localised democratic activity.

We can debate the virtues of this organisational make-over in the UK or Germany. But to imagine that the social terrain in South Africa is remotely similar is to be hopelessly out of touch with our own challenges, and with the actual mass popularity and strengths of the ANC.

Moral challenges
This combination of organisational and ideological weaknesses is reinforced by (and is contributing to) a loss of moral focus within our movement. Senior ANC comrades have recently (and correctly) said we are running close to a defining moment in the life of our movement and country. There are warning signs of corruption taking an irreversible hold. It is imperative that we move quickly and without fear or favour to tackle this problem. We agree wholeheartedly.

But the abuse of public office is not just confined to illegal financial dealings. Such abuse is also the deployment of state power to settle factional scores, or to suppress democratic debate. The problem of corruption needs also to be located within a broader family of activities. It may, for instance, not be "technically illegal" for yesterday's senior government official or councillor or municipal manager to be today's multi-million rand beneficiary of the sale of public resources in the very sector in which he or she was active just months before. But to condone this kind of personal accumulation is to condone an attitude towards public service and resources that is remote from the values of our liberation movement. If senior public servants or leading ANC officials are allowed to behave in this way, then our attempts to foster an ethos of batho pele (people first) in the lower ranks of the public service will ring hollow.

Together, let us build a strong and united ANC The problems and challenges confronting our movement are serious indeed. But we do not believe that these challenges are insuperable.

On the organisational front, we must rebuild grass-roots branches of the ANC (and the SACP) that are involved in the daily struggles of our people. Civic politics must displace the politics of competing elites. We need to ask whether our new ANC branch demarcation in which there is one ANC branch to each municipal ward is not part of the problem. The everyday concerns of our communities - jobs, housing, community safety, education - must be the bread-and-butter of our branches, not tenders and lists. Re-building popular power on the ground is the only antidote to the politics of professional politicians - the politics of gate-keeping, careerism, and patronage networks.

On the ideological front, we must not cling like fundamentalists to a repertoire of holy words, incanting a mantra that increasingly sounds like a foreign language. But nor, in the name of some "modernising" pragmatism, must we ever abandon what we fundamentally are: a radical, third world national liberation movement anchored in the townships, squatter camps and rural villages of our country. The socialist and the national democratic projects both certainly require ideological renewal - but renewal is not the same thing as pragmatic abandonment sprinkled with ritual incantations borrowed from the past.

On the moral front, we must deal with the challenge of corruption with determination. The struggle against corruption is a class struggle. Corruption, both in its illegal and "technically legal" variants, is the door through which the bourgeoisie (both established and emergent) will hijack our national liberation struggle. But corruption is extremely difficult to fight in a climate of factionalism, bureaucratic intolerance, and patronage networking. Everyone starts to protect "their own", and everyone holds an ace up their sleeves against everyone else.

Things have not yet got this bad. But the warning signs are all about us. The SACP calls on its own cadres, and indeed all the cadres and supporters of the ANC - let us together build a strong ANC, unified around a progressive programmatic vision, and rooted in the struggles of our people on the ground.



Development and Underdevelopment

The NGC economics document ("Development and underdevelopment") re-affirms the key advance made in government economic policy in the last two years. It underlines the necessity for an active development state to address the challenges of unemployment, low growth, and investment.

However, beyond this promising opening, the document proceeds in a severely skewed fashion. It bases its argument on the example of what it calls the "three successful development programmes" in the period "since the Second World War". It lists these three as the Marshall Plan; the East Asian Tigers; and the European Union integration programme.

All of these are important case-studies that we should consider. However, other very significant developmental programmes are simply not mentioned - China, Cuba (not just in the period 1959-1990, but also its remarkable ability to defend and sustain its social development programme after 1990), and third world countries that have pursued more socially redistributive and less growth oriented policies, like Costa Rica and Sri Lanka. There are also more localised but inspiring development programmes under left governments - in the Indian states of Kerala and West Bengal, or key cities in Brazil, for instance.

We are not suggesting that South Africa should or could simply copy China, Cuba or Kerala. But then nor should we imagine that we should or could simply copy South Korea or Taiwan. However, the particular selection made by the NGC document (and the suggestion that these are the ONLY successful development programmes of the last 50 years) results in serious oversights.

The three examples used by the NGC document lend themselves to a core assumption - namely, that overcoming "underdevelopment" requires "the necessary political will on the part of the wealthy and industrialised nations of the world" (par.8). In other words, rather than appreciating that global underdevelopment is essentially the consequence of imperialist accumulation, i.e. of the "wealthy and industrialised nations", the NGC document is turning to these very nations in expectation of generosity!

However, as the NGC document itself understands, the three examples it uses are not actually very relevant to our own situation. Marshall Aid (the major flow of US capital into war-devastated Europe) was driven by the need to bolster a capitalist-oriented Western Europe as a "counter-balance" to a vastly extended post-1945 Soviet bloc, and the need, in this context, to counter indigenous left and communist forces in countries like Italy and France. Similarly, the East Asian development path was facilitated by US-led capital investment and by favourable market access to the US for these countries in the context of acute Cold War struggle in East Asia. The "success" stories were all front-line states in this Cold War struggle - Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia. As for the present EU integration programme, it is a programme designed to strengthen the EU, to broaden its own internal market.

Ironically, the NGC document provides a rebuttal of what seems to be the basis of its own argument:

" freed of any challenge equivalent to the perceived threat posed by 'communism'? the developed countries are ready to argue against substantial resource transfers to the poor, on the basis that their constituencies suffer from `donor fatigue' and that, in any case, they have a responsibility to address the serious challenge of poverty within their own societies." (par.38)

But if these views are largely correct (and they surely are), then why has the document devoted so much space to three developmental examples that are now considerably irrelevant to our situation and times? Why has it chosen to ignore completely other examples of developmental paths that did NOT rely on major flows of capital and resources from the major capitalist economies?

The NGC document has set up its attempt to deal with South Africa's development challenges on very shaky grounds. The result is that its approach to South African challenges is exceedingly limited, and it falls considerably behind the many government-led programmes that are actually being rolled out to confront underdevelopment.

In particular, it approaches our economy from a narrowly macro-economic perspective - essentially assuming that the economy can be reduced to "two factors of production" - "capital" and "labour". It then reduces the developmental challenge to the "reduction of the cost of capital", and the "reduction of the cost of labour". Almost entirely absent from this perspective is a myriad of real economy issues. In this way, the paper takes a major step backwards from the government position that has explicitly begun to emphasise the importance of micro-economic transformation measures as central to our growth and development strategy.

On "lowering the cost of capital", the paper has very little substantial to say - presumably still hoping against hope for major flows of foreign capital. And so, with the recommendations on "lowering the cost of capital" being insubstantial, the paper then turns to "lowering the costs of labour". And it is here that we finally get concrete recommendations. Unfortunately, the recommendations overwhelmingly represent an attack on existing worker rights - low cost labour export processing zones, a dual labour market for young entrants, waiving certain labour legislation for companies that employ less than 200 workers (up from the current ceiling of 50), etc.

The ANC's economic and transformation committee held a workshop on labour market regulation in April. The workshop report argues that the proposals advanced by the NGC document are inappropriate and unworkable in many respects. It notes that:

" there is no empirical evidence to suggest that labour market regulation poses the most severe impediment to job creation.." in SA. (p.2)
" the recent wave of retrenchments in exchange-rate sensitive sectors (such as mining and clothing) has not been significantly impeded by labour market regulations. Given that these are also sectors characterised by highly organised unions and employer associations, where labour market regulations are easily enforced, the claim that labour market regulations prevent businesses from firing and thereby constrain employment growth is yet to be demonstrated." (p.3)
"Anecdotal evidence is sometimes presented to suggest that small businesses find the labour laws to be burdensome and an administrative nightmare. Yet survey evidence also exists that points to other factors, such as proximity to the market place and access to capital, as being far more significant in inhibiting the capacity of small businesses to expand employment." (p.5)
"The suggestion that blanket exemptions for small businesses be extended to any firm employing less than 200 workers would, in practice, mean abandoning of our labour relations framework as a whole since the vast majority of firms fall below this cut-off point?perverse incentives would also be created?large companies employing many hundreds of people might register as a collection of small firms?" (p.6)
The workshop report also notes that the major inflexibilities in our labour market are not existing worker rights and regulations but external impediments - weak public transport services, expensive and/or inaccessible communications infrastructure, and insufficient labour market information to enable learners and workers to make effective decisions on education, etc. (see p.3)

It is unfortunate that the NGC economics document is weak in both its overall conceptualisation and in the specific recommendations it makes. The document should not, however, be allowed to distract us from the rich and broad-based discussion within our alliance on industrial policy, on job retention and creation, on sustainable livelihoods and communities, and much more.



National Question - or National Answer?

The NGC discussion paper on "The National Question" is, unfortunately, weak. It is not because there is anything in the document with which we strongly disagree. But it lacks a clear focus, it lumps all kinds of things together - some not even necessarily related to the national question. Essentially the paper is informed by a managerialist and civil rights perspective. It approaches nationality issues (religion, culture, language) as "rights" that we should all enjoy - but whose enjoyment inevitably creates problems that have somehow to be "managed".

In setting up the discussion in this way, the NGC paper misses the central point about the ANC and the national democratic revolution it is leading. When, in 1912, the founders of the ANC convened in Bloemfontein, they were not asking a question so much as providing an ANSWER.

The 1910 Union settlement between Boers and Brits established a new national entity, the Union of South Africa, but excluded the great majority from effective citizenship. The launch of the ANC was a direct response to this new reality. The founders of the ANC realised that the marginalisation of the majority would persist so long as they allowed their own ethnic/tribal identities to prevail over a sense of a shared African identity. When they spoke of the "demon of racism", the founders of the ANC were not referring to the terrible colonial oppression inflicted upon them by white settlers, they were referring to the "demon within" - tribal identities that reinforced, and were in turn reinforced by, the colonial agenda of divide and rule.

That was then, but what about now?

Four national challenges There are four fundamental national challenges in the present:

1. The most important is the persisting reality of racialised impoverishment. Despite major progress since 1994, the defining feature of our society remains grinding black poverty, unemployment and inequality.

2. The second and related challenge on the national front is the persistence of racialised power and privilege. We are trying to advance our national democratic revolution on a terrain in which very significant economic, cultural and social power is still wielded by a white minority. This power is not a neutral fact, it is power that is used actively to defend and advance minority (and class) privileges. We see this on the party political terrain, at the community level, and in the economy. In particular, a "free market" ideology has become the ideological refuge of these minority and patriarchal interests. The market disguises (but reproduces) racialised and gendered power. In the apartheid period we had administratively regulated segregation. Now we have market-regulated integration - but the results for millions of workers and poor remain depressingly similar. This is the class and gender content of the national question that the paper is disturbingly silent about - perhaps another reflection of the "de-ideologisation" of our movement that we talk about in a separate paper in this edition.

3. Given the first two challenges, a third national challenge is the danger that national and/or ethnic mobilisation will be appropriated opportunistically from within the mass of the oppressed, or even by elites within our national liberation movement. This is an area dealt with by the NGC paper, but largely disconnected from the first two. This kind of appropriation of the national issue might take the form of a rabid anti-whiteism, or of demagogic attacks against people of Indian origin, or of xenophobia directed against non-South African Africans, or of ethnic or regional mobilisation - to advance the sectoral interests of one or another elite grouping. All of these versions of demagogic nationalism divert energies and mobilisation away from the systemic issues, away from national democratic transformation, towards short-cuts to grab a slice of the action.

4. The fourth dimension of the national question (and one upon which the NGC paper is entirely silent) relates to the persisting reproduction, at the global (and domestic) level, of poles of development and underdevelopment. Global inequality, and particularly the marginalisation of sub-Saharan Africa, has deepened over the last decade. Colonial dispossession and apartheid in SA were never stand-alone realities, they were always integral components of a world geo-political and economic system. These global and domestic developmental realities tend to reproduce the very same coloinial and apartheid 'national types' of inequalities. Our national democratic revolution has, therefore, always been strategically directed at resolving not just our internal challenges, but also in forging the capacity for a degree of national self-determination in the face of an unjust global order. The very global integration of our country into the current imperialist global order - that sometimes is uncritically celebrated within our movement - undermines our national sovereignty and capacity to pursue a developmental path beneficial to the majority of our people. In short, the global is also the national.

Four national answers If these are the challenges, what are the answers? The answers also have a NATIONAL character.

1. As the ANC developed, it became increasingly aware that it was not just a question of a progressive and enlightened group of Africans representing the excluded majority. The national question would never be resolved through representative politics alone. It was important to actively organise and mobilise millions of South Africans. And this is the first, the core, national answer. Our struggle is anchored in the motive force of millions of oppressed South Africans - identifying themselves (helping them to identify themselves) as blacks in general and Africans in particular. It is a struggle that organises and mobilises on the basis of the anger, the sense of injustice and on the aspirations of these millions who have been oppressed and who continue to suffer the legacy of this oppression. But our national answer is not just a politics of grievance, it is also a project based on the national capacity, resourcefulness and collective power (amandla ngawethu) of millions of workers and rural and urban poor, whose collective strength has defeated the most obdurate and entrenched of colonial systems in Africa. And it is this collective capacity that is the bed-rock of our ongoing national democratic revolution - as we still well know when, for instance, it comes to fighting elections. The NGC paper diverts us from this core issue, and in so doing it contributes to the organisational and strategic shortcomings that prevail in our movement.

2. But one of the hallmarks of the ANC, from the beginning, has been the open-ended character of the nationalism it has sought to build. When the founders of the ANC gathered in Bloemfontein in 1912, they did not only emphasise questions of origin: "Who are you? Where do you come from?". They further asked, "Where are we going collectively?" They realised that in order to become Africans they needed a collective organisation, capable of forging a common identity. Identity wasn't given, it was something that had to be organised and struggled for. The national issue in South Africa should be approached, in the first place, as a project - a strategic answer - and not as a troublesome problem that never seems to go away. This open-ended and progressive approach to African-ness in the earliest traditions of the ANC helps to explain the deeply embedded traditions of non-racialism in our movement. It also underlines the continuity of tradition in President Mbeki's celebrated "I am an African" speech, extending the definition of African to all of South Africa's inhabitants. These two dimensions of the word "African" (the one more specific, the other more embracing) need to be understood dialectically. Our nationalism is rooted in an African reality, and the affirmation of blacks in general and Africans in particular as a key motive force of our revolution. This assertion is based on the class, socio-economic and political realities of our society, and not on the notion that individual blacks or Africans are somehow better than anyone else. At the same time African-ness is not a closed or pre-ordained reality, all South Africans are called upon to become African, that is to identify actively with the struggle of the great majority of workers and poor in our country. Identity is less about what you see in the mirror, and more about with whom and with what you identify.

3. The national answer is also about active nation building. This embraces both a symbolic and a material dimension. The symbolic dimensions are obvious and important - encouraging a common identification with unifying symbols, a flag, an anthem, and national institutions like parliament or a soccer team. But if the symbolic is not buttressed by material transformation of our society, then it is liable to degenerate into superficiality, or a shallow rainbowism. For instance changing of names from colonial/apartheid to African names is symbolically very important. But a name change on its own does not transform the spatial realities of impoverished townships, on the one hand, and of green suburbs populated largely (although no longer exclusively) by whites. Nation building is centrally about building national infrastructure, overcoming the polarised reality of development and underdevelopment.

4. However, if we are to advance our national democratic project, we have also to address the international realities of a unipolar, unjust world order. National unity, a common patriotism are absolutely critical bulwarks against external threats and destabilisation projects. The ANC's solid 70% electoral support needs to be appreciated and consolidated in this context. It is also for this reason that part of the re-ideologisation of the ANC and its developmental perspectives must be grounded on a critique of neo-liberalism as our main strategic enemy and a struggle for just alternatives. The mobilisation of the key motive force of the national democratic revolution - the workers and the poor - is central in this task.

There is much more, of course, that needs to be said on all of these issues. However, our main objective in this short intervention has been to place the national question squarely within the context of a national democratic REVOLUTIONARY project. We hope that the debate and resolutions at the NGC will carry this discussion forward.