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

Volume 8, No. 6, 1 April 2009

In this Issue:


Red Alert

Do it for Chris Hani: Intensify communist electoral work towards an overwhelming ANC victory

Blade Nzimande, General Secretarys

Since the assassination of our late General Secretary, Cde Martin Thembisile 'Chris' Hani on 10 April 1993, the SACP declared April the 'Chris Hani Month' in honour and memory of this gallant son of the soil and a communist till the end. But this 16th anniversary is of particular significance.

We are commemorating the 16th anniversary of this dastardly act during the year in which we will be holding our fourth democratic elections since the historic 1994 democratic breakthrough. This is significant in that it was in the wake of his assassination that the stalemate in the negotiations was broken and the hand of the regime was forced to agree to set 27 April 1994 as the date of the first democratic elections. So it is even more appropriate that we dedicate the movement's electoral effort to the memory of this hero.

The 16th anniversary of the assassination of Cde Chris also coincides with the 40th anniversary of that historic ANC Conference, the Morogoro Conference, held in Tanzania in 1969. There are a number of significant aspects about this conference. It was the first ANC conference held in exile after the banning of the ANC in 1960. The conference also came in the wake of the very first serious experiences of attempted infiltration of Umkhonto WeSizwe (MK) guerillas into South Africa, through the Wankie-Sipolilo campaign in 1967.

If there is one individual who has been prominently associated with the events that immediately led to the convening of the Morogoro Conference, it was cde Chris Hani. Vladimir Shubin, in his book 'ANC: A View from Moscow' (the 2008 second revised edition), cites from excerpts (below) of a memorandum signed by cde Chris Hani and seven other commanders and commissars of MK sent to the leadership of the ANC. This memorandum, amongst others, spoke about the state of the movement as cde Chris and others saw it, including 'the frightening depth reached by the rot in the ANC and disintegration of MK accompanying this rot'.

The Memorandum also demanded of leadership to be 'committed to the resolution and programme of going home to lead the struggle there. (A) Leadership vacuum in South Africa could result in a situation where our people will be deceived by the opportunists of all shades'. It also called upon those leaders frequenting international conferences and 'other globe trotting activities' to reduce these 'to a reasonable few' so that 'the remainder should work round (the) clock… at the home front'.

Significantly, Shubin, citing from the memorandum, also refers to the complaints against differential treatment of cadres in exile, some being allowed to attend universities, having cars and salaries, whilst others were expected to be in the camps in the bush. The memorandum further complained about what Chris and the other signatories described as the building of a stratum of a middle class within the ANC.

Though Chris Hani was to pay hard for this, until cde Oliver Tambo intervened, including being excluded from attending the Morogoro conference, this memorandum is regarded in some of the ranks of the movement as the precursor to Morogoro. It is a testimony to cde Chris' bravery, forthrightly raising tough issues within the organization, and also perhaps a warning about the dangers of the bourgeoisification of the ANC; the dangers of the emergence of a 'class project', at odds with the mass and revolutionary character and overall objectives of the ANC.

A further significant aspect about this conference is that it undertook a thorough review of the state of our movement at the time, prospects and strategies for the armed struggle, strengths and weaknesses of the ANC, in exile and inside the country, as well as re-positioned the ANC to respond effectively to the workers and mass uprisings and struggles of the 1970s. Much more significant about the Morogoro Conference is that it decisively defined and located the ANC as a 'disciplined force of the left' and a critical component of the world-wide radical anti-imperialist movements.

The 40th anniversary comes in the wake of the Polokwane Conference which some of our comrades have dubbed 'Morogoro II' because of its decisive intervention in changing the course and direction of our movement post-1994. Never in the history of our Alliance post-1994 have we found ourselves more united in purpose as an Alliance than after the Polokwane Conference. For this we must honour the memory of Cde Chris as a living link between Morogoro and Polokwane.

The 16th anniversary of the assassination of our late General Secretary also coincides with that historic SACP document which contributed immensely in shaping the direction of the national liberation and class struggles in our country, the 'Native Republic Thesis'. The Native Republic Thesis was adopted by the 7th Annual Conference of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA), predecessor to the SACP, held from 29 December 1928 to 2nd January 1929.

Though this thesis was adopted by the Communist International in September 1928, the 7th Conference of the CPSA, after a heated debate, officially adopted it on 1 January 1929, as part of its Programme. To this end, that Party Programme said:
"Moreover, as a weapon in the overthrow of Imperialism, i.e. world capitalism in its last phase, and in its principal strongholds, the colonies, the Party devotes special attention to the national cause of the native people as such, not indeed in the sense of a campaign 'to drive the white man into the sea', but in the Leninist sense of underlining the prime importance of supporting movements for complete national liberation of colonial peoples, removing all the political and social disabilities which make up their enslavement….."

This programme continued to pose and answer the following question:

"Is this a departure from the strict class outlook? By no means. 'Labour solidarity' cannot mean ignoring race discrimination or subjection. Moreover modern capitalism typically treats colonial races, at any rate in Africa, as constituting, en bloc, reservoirs of labour. South African imperialism helotises the whole of the native people as a race as providing a national labour breeding and recruiting ground. Again unity postulates equality. If we are to achieve real labour unity we must first remove the greatest obstacle to it, viz, the unequal, subjected, enslaved status of the native workers and people. Hence race emancipation and class emancipation tend to coincide. Hence too the conception and realization of native rule merges into that of the Workers' and Peasants' Republic, non-imperialist, non-capitalist, non-racialist, classless and in effect Socialist".

Though the adoption of this thesis caused a lot of controversy within the Party then, leading to serious internal factionalist battles in the early 1930s, it was nevertheless a profound resolution and set the foundation for the Alliance as we have come to know it today. It is indeed this Alliance that the struggle of Cde Chris Hani embodied, and he lived and died as a cadre and leader of both the SACP and the ANC. As we celebrate his life, we are also celebrating the vision contained in the 'Native Republic Thesis'.

As we reflected in our last edition, we are in the middle of our election campaign in support of the ANC, and our people are positively responding in their millions to the message of the ANC as contained in the Manifesto. SACP cadres are also out in their numbers engaging our people in the townships, in the rural areas, in the informal settlements and in their various workplaces.

Cde Chris would have been very proud of the key commitments made in the ANC Manifesto. These are in line with some of the SACP mass campaigns he led in the early 1990s, notably our popular 'Triple H' campaign to fight hunger, homelessness and the struggle for health for all. The themes of rural development, land and agrarian reform, quality jobs, prioritization of health for all as contained in the ANC Manifesto are all integrally linked and an advancement of the 'Triple H' campaign.

From now onwards, during this month of April, we will deepen our electoral work in honour and in memory of Cde Chris, guided by our commitment - of which he was a prime example -that, 'Communists are the first to enter the battlefield, and the last to leave'!

The SACP wishes to thank and salute the Chris Hani family for always consenting and co-operating with us during this month of the commemoration of their father, husband and brother. The SACP is also happy about the fact that the Pretoria High Court recently denied convicted murderer Clive Derby-Lewis his latest attempt to be pardoned for his cowardly action. Let Walus and Derby-Lewis rot in jail, until they fully disclose all the circumstances under which Cde Hani was murdered!

We dare not fail the memory and the sacrifices of this gallant fighter. Communist cadres to the front, for an overwhelming ANC electoral victory, during this, the Chris Hani Month!



Debunking the Dalai Lama

Jeremy Cronin

This article was first published on The Times on 30 March 2009

We've had the dotcom bubble burst and the sub-prime loan bubble burst. The rumpus around the government's refusal of a visa to the Dalai Lama should serve to burst another bubble.

I'm not particularly referring to a prevailing view that the visa refusal has punctured South Africa's international reputation, which might well be the case in certain quarters. I'm referring to something more general, more insidious: the grand illusion of the 1990s of an ideologically free, transcendent set of universal values laid down by the International Monetary Fund, Amnesty International and the Nobel Prize committee.

Let me first concede that the government's handling of the Dalai Lama invitation has been clumsy. We were told the visa was declined because we didn't want the Dalai Lama's presence in South Africa to distract world attention from 2010 soccer World Cup preparations. The refusal has achieved exactly the opposite.

We were told that refusing the visa was our own decision. The next day, the Chinese ambassador said his country had raised the matter with our government. The two statements are not necessarily in contradiction, but where's the harm in saying our sovereign decision was informed by, among other things, China's concerns?

I can hear many readers saying: Outrageous! I might be inclined to agree. But how many of these scandalised voices are the same voices that spent the last decade telling us we couldn't do this or that because we'd scare off foreign investors (presumably those in New York and London and not those, who now have the serious money, in Shanghai)?

South Africa has been fortunate to have four Nobel peace laureates and we have felt a legitimate sense of collective pride in our winners. But let's not delude ourselves that these awards have somehow been free of ideological framing.

For instance, the joint award in 1993 of the peace prize to Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk assumed a problematic symmetry. It was a symmetry that implied South Africa had been involved in a "race war", the leaders of the two sides came together and, in a spirit of conciliation, delivered their respective and bellicose constituencies … and we've all lived happily ever after.

Which brings me to another Nobel laureate, Tenzin Gyatso, better known as the 14th Dalai Lama. I've heard a colleague, Health Minister Barbara Hogan, describe him as "a brave man who has fought for the liberation of his people". Others view him as an ascetic holy man.

In 1911, when China's last dynasty was overthrown, all Chinese officials were expelled from Tibet. The 13th Dalai Lama proclaimed what many Tibetans consider an independence declaration - though no one in the international community recognised Tibet at the time.

In the 1930s, the Chinese Communist Party, still embroiled in a protracted civil war, recognised in principle the right to Tibetan self-determination. In the late- 1940s, this principle seems to have been dropped quietly . In 1950, a year after victory, the People's Liberation Army overran Tibet's eastern province.

Tenzin Gyatso, who had by then become Dalai Lama, signed an agreement acknowledging China's sovereignty over Tibet. He made no attempt to rally the Tibetan people to defend their independence. The ruling elite was reassured by China's promise not to tamper with the theocratic political system underpinned by feudal oppression.

But the presence of Chinese troops in eastern Tibet fanned patriotic sentiments. These were exploited by landlords fearing that, sooner or later, the Chinese would implement land reform. The CIA air- dropped arms into Tibet and trained Tibetan irregulars.

In 1959, there was an uprising in the capital, Lhasa. It was brutally suppressed by the Chinese, with tens of thousands of deaths. The Dalai Lama had conveniently fled into India before the uprising, taking 60t of treasure with him. None of the major protagonists emerged with much glory from this episode.

The democratic credentials of the Dalai Lama, living in Indian exile for the past five decades, remain suspect. Without consulting Tibetans, he openly abandoned the demand for independence in 1987, a shift he first secretly communicated to Beijing in 1984. The autonomous region of Tibet is one of the poorest parts of China. Whether as a result of deliberate policy, or because of market forces, ethnic Chinese now outnumber Tibetans in the territory.

Three things at least are clear. One, there are serious, unresolved cultural and developmental challenges in Tibet. Two, there are sharply contested versions of how to resolve these challenges. And three, Tenzin Gyatso (aka the Dalai Lama) might be a fellow laureate, but he is no Albert Luthuli or Nelson Mandela.


SACP Statement on the decision not to grant Dalai Lama a Visa

The SACP fully appreciates and accepts the decision by the South African government not to grant a visa for the Dali Lama visit at this time. We stand by our government on this matter.

It is a well known fact that the month of March is a particularly sensitive period as it is associated with the Dalai Lama's putsch for cession of Tibet from China. This is fact is generally accepted and appreciated in diplomatic circles including in all major Western Countries. These countries themselves would have been extremely cautious to allow a visit by the Dalai Lama to their own capitals in this period.

It is therefore hypocritical for anyone including western leaders to condemn South Africa's stance during this period.

The SACP has noted some veiled attempts, exploiting the fact that South Africa is in an election period, to politicize the South African government stance on the issue of the Dalai Lama and compel the use of the 2010 World Cup Peace Conference to opportunistically support an anti-Chinese Tibetan separatist agenda.

We are opposed to this political sleight of hand to pressure our government into active interference in China's internal affairs and polarize millions of 2010 World Cup supporters along political lines, majority of whom, in more than 100 nations, support China's sovereignty over Tibet. The whole scheme smacks of hypocrisy and must be denounced.

We congratulate our government's vigilance and asserting the full responsibility to articulate an independent and sovereign position on foreign policy matters including reaffirming its complete support of the One-China-two systems policy.

We reiterate our principled support of and the need for the 2010 World Cup Peace Conference to proceed as planned, without succumbing to dangerous political experiments, tied to the interests of imperialism and its aggression, especially toward developing countries.