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No 153 First Quarter 2000

Published quarterly as a forum for Marxist-Leninist thought by the South African Communist Party


SACP Statement at the turn of the century
iGoli 2002 - The problems of managerialism

Year 2000 for Building People`s Power for the Eradication of Poverty

How the Poor Die:HIV / AIDS and Poverty in South Africa

DEBATE 1 - iGoli 2002
Article 1 SACP discussion document
Article 2 COSATU Briefing Statement

DEBATE 2 - Alliance discussion and programme for 2000
Missions and Tasks of the National Liberation Movement
The strategic role of the SACP in the current conjuncture
COSATU input to the debate on the role of the progressive trade union movement in the current conjuncture
Alliance Programme of Action for 2000
Improving the modus operandi in intra-alliance relations - SACP document

Fifty years of the People`s Republic of China - By Pallo Jordan

Morality is relevant to economic policy - by Jeremy Cronin

Local Demarcation and Traditional Leadership (TL)


SACP Statement at the turn of the century

The South African Communist Party wishes all South Africans, and working people around the world a happy new year, and a 21st century that will see equality, freedom and solidarity nurtured more thoroughly than they have been in the 20th century. As we end this decade and this century there are grounds for hope, but also for concern.

The democratic breakthrough in our own country, powered by the struggles of millions of ordinary people, continues to be a dynamic factor, not just within our country, but in our region, our continent, and indeed internationally. The aspirations kindled by our struggle must be kept in play, and the unity of the national liberation movement must be fostered. Within South Africa much still needs to be achieved. The racial bastions of power, privilege and wealth have been breached, but the deep inequality of our society remains, and new inequalities are developing. Structural unemployment persists, and as South Africa`s economy has, inevitably, become more exposed to global market forces, so the resolution of our unemployment crisis becomes more difficult.

Globally, the 1990s have ended on a note quite different from that on which they began. We have travelled, in the space of a decade, from an extreme of capitalist triumphalism, occasioned by the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the implosion of the old Soviet Union, to the WTO Seattle Round. While capitalism remains, by far, the hegemonic system internationally and within our country, its untrammelled domination is meeting with more and more opposition. It is an opposition that comes from those who are concerned with the profit-driven destruction of our environment, and from those who, perhaps out of religious conviction, are deeply concerned about the Zama Zama, casino, "free market" values pervading every domain of our lives. It is an opposition increasingly expressed by democratic governments in the South alarmed that, in this past decade, eighty countries have become poorer than at the beginning of the 1990s, despite all the promises about the new globalisation "free-way". And it is an opposition that comes from those millions around the world who have lost the prospect of ever having a decent job. For us, the most important lesson at the end of this decade and century is that capitalism is incapable of addressing even the most basic of needs for millions of ordinary people throughout the world. Instead all indications point to worsening poverty and disease as capitalist globalisation deepens.

Many of these forces struggling against capitalist barbarism may not see themselves as socialists, but as the SACP we believe that we are all fundamentally in the same trench. We sincerely hope that the coming century will see much greater moral and political unity between all forces and individuals who hold dear the basic values of human equality, freedom and solidarity.

In the light of all this the SACP is firmly of the view that the three most important challenges facing humanity in the coming period is the eradication of poverty and exploitation, the creation of mass-based and people-driven democracies as well as the fight against the Aids pandemic. We should use this historic moment of the dawning of a new decade and century as an opportunity to take forward these struggles, including the elimination of gender and racially based inequalities. In particular, the struggle to eradicate poverty on our continent, in order to make this century truly a century of the African working people and the poor.

In light of the above we dedicate this first issue of the African Communist in the new century to the following issues:-

  • SACP programme for the year 2000
  • Debate on iGoli 2002
  • Alliance debate and programme for 2000
  • HIV/AIDS, poverty and access to affordable treatment; and
  • A review of the Chinese revolution (this will be a series of three articles covered in three issues of the AC).
  • Sacp discussion on local government demarcation and traditional leadership.

The discussion document on traditional leadership is intended to start a serious discussion in the SACP and the national liberation movement on how we approach traditional leaders in the context of democracy, transformation and the building of socialism. We invite readers to contribute to this discussion. We also refer readers to three articles on this question which were published in the AC during the 1990s - articles by Eddy Maloka, Cassius Lubisi and Blade Nzimande. Comrade Mzala`s book "The Chief with a double agenda" remains valid on many issues about traditional leaders.

iGoli 2002 - The problems of managerialism

In February 1999, to much fan-fare, the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council announced the Igoli 2002 plan "to make the city work". The plan was packaged as a bold vision that would transform Johannesburg into a "world class city"... and this was to become the very first problem with the plan. The packaging greatly misrepresented the actual content. Far from being a broad developmental and transformation vision, the plan unveiled in February last year was, essentially, a three-year financial rescue programme linked to institutional re-design.

The original document never once mentions the historical legacy of racial oppression that has to be overcome. Instead it is rooted in a private sector, managerialist paradigm: "the challenge is to transform the current bureaucracy into a business approach" (p.6). The "case for change", it argues, "is based on two key problems a financial crisis and poor institutional design" - as if the most pressing reasons for change were not poverty and gross inequality (Johannesburg must be one of the most unequal cities in the world - containing pockets of excessive wealth, and deep poverty, cheek by jowl).

These managerialist origins, wrapped in exaggerated public relations hype, have continued to dog Igoli 2002. Its leading proponents, to the detriment of their own plan, persist in presenting every crisis measure as part of some bold, millennial vision - as they did recently when the GJMC announced its intention to sell its own building and then rent it back again. This is little more than a device to raise a loan, and should be presented and debated as such.

To begin, and then to persist, in these managerialist ways undercuts the necessity of grounding managerial decisions within a progressive political process. Managerial competence and financial probity are certainly essential, but they have to be informed by, and continuously assessed in terms of a strategic political vision of transformation. The argument that "we can`t do anything if we don`t have the resources" is certainly not wrong - but unless an effort is made to build a broad political consensus about what the "anything we intend to do" IS, there will be little commitment to accepting drastic rescue measures if they are, indeed, necessary. Indeed, not only is there a need for a broadly shared vision of where our cities are going, but, insofar as there are financial restraints, there needs to be a political discussion about the causes of such constraints.

In the absence of this, Igoli 2002 was placed on the defensive within the broader alliance from the beginning. Instead of mobilising and inspiring millions of Johannesburg residents, it has had to fall back on bureaucratic measures for enforcement, and on a private sector supported media, with its own agenda, for the hard-sell.

A second (and another typically managerialist) problem has been the tendency to confuse the inclusive elaboration of a vision for the city (within the ANC, the alliance, and broad popular movement) with labour relations bargaining. Insofar as the GJMC has consulted, it has too often been at the Bargaining Chamber. Clearly, there are matters that require employer-employee negotiations, but it is disingenuous to complain that "unions are not seeing the wider picture", when strategic political discussion is forced into a narrow (and often conflictual) labour relations mould. The alliance between the ANC and COSATU is, in the first place, a political alliance based on a shared strategic vision of national democratic revolution. To reduce this alliance to a management-employee relationship is a dangerous delusion. To surpass the current problems, requires political leadership from the ANC, the SACP, and, indeed, COSATU.

From the start the SACP, guided by the Party`s Gauteng Provincial Executive Committee, has sought to engage constructively but critically with the Igoli 2002 proposals. In the course of this engagement, some important progress has been made around the vision of transformation for the city. Plans to privatise the Fresh Produce Market have been stalled, for the moment, pending further discussion. There is an acceptance, in line with the SACP`s struggle to de-commodify basic needs, that a basic survival level of water will be supplied free to all households, on the basis of a stepped tariff system. There are also indications that, at the provincial level, some progress is being made to ensure that core utilities will not fall out of the public sector.

But the inept manner in which the whole process has been handled since February 1999 has caused real damage. Entrenched positions have been adopted, defensively. Defensivism has corroded traditions of debate within our movement. Discussion and consultation, in which the real pros and cons of different choices are honestly laid on the table, have often been displaced by management-style Microsoft Powerpoint overhead presentations ("transparencies instead of transparency"). The importance of mobilising our own mass forces gets displaced by institutional reform ("organograms instead of organisation"). Popular opposition to the plan is even worn like a badge for potential private sector investors to admire - "you see, we really mean business, we will see this thing through regardless". Toughness starts to become an end in itself, hawkers are bundled off Braamfontein pavements on the grounds that they are obstructing pedestrians (as if their survival did not depend on pedestrians), or on the grounds that they are selling "pirated goods". If they are selling pirated goods, then prosecute them for that, but the TV cameras showed lots of bananas and apples getting confiscated.

Hopefully, the worst of these managerialist excesses are now over. Hopefully, we can all learn lessons from the last year. It is in the spirit of keeping up a critical engagement with the transformation of South Africa`s largest city that this issue of the AC has devoted some space to the Igoli 2002 debate.


Year 2000 for Building People`s Power for the Eradication of Poverty

By Mazibuko K Jarra

The year 2000 will be marked by a number of important developments. First and foremost this is the year of the second democratic local government elections, and in essence, the establishment of a completely new system of local government. Secondly, organised workers intend to escalate campaigns against job losses and for job creation. The jobs campaign calls for the Party to prepare itself to deepen its roots in the working class and to provide political leadership by channeling these struggles in a direction that consolidates working class power in South African society. Thirdly, the year 2000 for the SACP is the year of implementing our own programme of building people`s power with a focus on the eradication of poverty.

Fourthly, at the end of May, the SACP will host a National Strategy Conference. This year`s Strategy Conference comes exactly mid-term since the 10th SACP Congress and this necessitates that it be used for organisational reflections and a focus on political aspects of the SACP`s strategy.

Fifthly, in July the ANC will have its mid-term National General Council. This Council will provide an important political opportunity for the movement to reflect on itself and the challenges facing our revolution. Later in the year COSATU will also be holding its 7th National Congress where it will have to refine its programme and strategy in the light of escalating attacks on the working class in general, both globally and locally, and organised workers in particular.

Intensifying class battles and deepening poverty and inequalities pose the need for strategic political leadership of the working class

All these will be taking place against the background of intensifying class struggles to shape the nature of South Africa`s post-apartheid state in both the political and economic spheres. As we seek to deepen our democracy, counter-revolutionary and other opposition forces also become restless.

For instance the creation of new and more democratic local government structures seems to pose a threat to those sections of the parasitic petty bourgeoisie that were highly dependent on the apartheid state for their own survival. The mobilisation of chiefs, principally by the IFP, in KZN and other parts of the country against the demarcation of the new municipalities is a case in point. Similarly, the passage of laws seeking to entrench our democracy and improve the participation of ordinary people is being vehemently opposed by organisations like the DP. These two developments capture the struggles around the deepening of our democracy and contestation around the nature of the democratic state post apartheid.

On the other hand there are signs that the economy might be turning around, but without any guarantees whatsoever whether this expected improvement will translate into any gains for the working people and the poor. South Africa is increasingly getting positive ratings from influential international global economic institutions as an emerging market. Do these signals point to some improvements in the performance of our economy? What opportunities would such a positive upswing in the economy provide for consolidating our democracy and addressing the needs of the majority of our people? How can such possible opportunities be used to consolidate working class power in South African society? Or will these be marked by a deepening capitalism that only provide a temporary relief that will soon further roll back the gains of the working class?

This context therefore poses a number of political challenges to the movement as a whole, in particular our Party. First of all, this period requires political clarity on the part of the democratic forces, and unity of purpose in terms of using these to deepen our democracy and strengthen people`s power. In particular these pose added responsibility onto our Party to provide strategic political leadership to the working class. In concrete terms this poses the question of how to strategically utilise this year`s Conferences and impending class battles to consolidate working class power. What kinds of issues should the SACP Strategy Conference, the ANC`s Council and COSATU Congress need to grapple with? What opportunities do these provide to consolidate people`s power in order to accelerate change?

These questions and many others will have to be answered against the background of the principal strategic contradiction and its particular manifestation in the current period. For instance, whilst the democratic breakthrough has brought major gains to the mass of ordinary working people and the poor in our country, there are simultaneously clear signals that inequalities are deepening in our country and the majority of our people still remain in the grip of poverty. For instance in February, the Mail and Guardian reported on a survey done by Wharton Economic Forecasting Associates indicating that it is only a small black elite that has benefited most from South Africa`s transition to democracy. According to this survey the proportion of black households in the top 10% of all South African households increased from 9% to 22%. The gap between this richest group and the poorest blacks during the 1990`s has widened dramatically. According to the same report, the richest blacks received and average 17% increase in income, whilst the poorest 40% of households actually suffered a fall in household income of around 21%.

Of course this reality has been a subject of both heated and disputed debate within the ranks of our Alliance itself. The one position states that we should not be alarmed by this as it is inevitable that with deracialisation of managerial and top echelons of our economy blacks are likely to accumulate more wealth, and this is also necessary. Furthermore this argument posits that it is better that there is a growth of a black bourgeoisie rather than the maintenance of the black/white income and wealth divide. There are of course a number of problems with such a stance. Firstly it is wrong to bury our heads in the sands and ignore the fact that whilst sections of the black community are accumulating wealth, not only are its poorest sections not making ends meet but the situation of the poorest is actually getting worse. Secondly, this position is informed by an erroneous assumption that the creation of a black capitalist class will somehow alleviate the situation of the poor black communities. Thirdly, those who have been raising the issue of the widening poverty gap within the previously oppressed have sometimes been accused of wanting to see, by default, the maintenance of the racial divide in wealth. This cannot be furthest from the truth. The critical question here is what is happening to the living standards of the majority of the people of our country.

This reality of deepening poverty amongst the poorest sections of our people is not assisted at all by the growing aggressive stance of sections of the new black elite (both in the public and private sectors). They arrogantly and unashamedly push for the creation of more black millionaires, as the core of black economic empowerment. For example, see Christine Qunta`s recent submission to Parliament on the Procurement Bill, on behalf of black business and black professionals. We have, by default or through omission, allowed both at an ideological and practical level, the concept of "black economic empowerment" to be appropriated by a small black elite to advance its own interests without due regard to the bigger challenge of eradication of poverty. This poses the question of whether we are not facing a very real danger that the democratic breakthrough runs the risk of being transformed to benefit only a small elite at the very expense of the majority of our people, in particular the working class. By the way, this democratic breakthrough is essentially a product of the struggles of the working class and the poor. Isn`t the assault on the working class one other practical expression of this danger? Is this also not an expression of what we earlier referred to as dangers of two-tierism and deepening of the capitalist character of our society? But much more importantly, how do socialists engage these contradictory tendencies (of both advances and potential roll backs) in our current situation? Isn`t it time that we seek to reflect politically, with sound empirical information, much more comprehensively than before, on our transition?

The SACP Programme for the year 2000

The SACP Central Committee meeting of December 1999 adopted "Building People`s Power for the eradication poverty" as the theme and programmatic focus of the SACP for the year 2000. This focus has correctly identified poverty as the single biggest threat to our democracy and the attainment of a better life for all. The foundations of poverty are essentially capitalist. The reproduction of poverty has been based on the national oppression of the black majority based on the subjugation of women and acute gender inequalities.

The political basis and main content of our year 200 programme is the defence and deepening of a working-class led national democratic revolution. The SACP year 2000 programme is also underpinned by the building of people`s power, the foundation of which must be the consolidation of working class power. In this regard, the SACP programme identifies jobs, rural transformation, violence against women and HIV/AIDS as key focus areas.

The SACP must fully support intensified campaigns together with the trade union movement for job retention and security and a fight against retrenchments in all sectors. Job losses contribute to poverty and deepening inequalities. In these campaigns, the SACP must campaign to defend and extend the public sector as a leading agency in development, with a particular focus of strengthening parastatals as public instruments for development. The SACP argues that the state can and must create jobs. Key in this are the building of co-operatives, the development of a comprehensive state-led industrial strategy, public works programmes and the implementation of the resolutions of the 1998 jobs summit. This assertion should not be misinterpreted as meaning that the state has indefinite capacity in job creation. Nor that it is only the state that should create jobs. In fact, a major offensive is needed to pressurise private to end its "investment strike" and invest in job creation.

Important as these struggles to fight job losses are, it is however important that the working class needs to extend these struggles beyond just defending jobs. These class battles must be turned into an offensive against capitalism itself and as building blocks for a bigger war against poverty. As long as workers limit their struggles to job losses, no matter what the victories are in the short-term; those will be reversed for as long as capitalism remains intact in our country.

Not only workers have been battered by the job loss bloodbath underway, but also this has been accompanied by intensified ideological attacks on the working class in general, and organised workers in particular. Indeed we expect that capitalist ideologues and their apologists will use this opportunity to intensify their attacks on the working class,particularly its organised sections.

These attacks are normally made in the name of fighting for the interests of the poor. The most sinister of these attacks has been an attempt to project the gains of organised workers (such as worker friendly labour laws) as the principal cause of unemployment and poverty. These attacks have also demonised organised workers as being responsible for the very same retrenchments they have been victims of. Even more sinister in these attacks have been attempts to project working class struggles as being directly at the expense of the poor.

The SACP rejects these neo-liberal ideological distortions with the contempt they deserve. The SACP re-affirms its view that a struggle against job losses is an integral component of the struggle against poverty. The struggle of the working class is therefore one and the same struggle as that of the rural and urban poor - a struggle for a better life for all. The struggle against job losses is simultaneously a struggle against poverty. And there can be no eradication of poverty and job creation without job retention and job security.

The intensified ideological attacks should not hide one other important fact. The single biggest contributor to deepening poverty in our country is job losses! It is not the labour laws of the democratic government that causes poverty, but it is the greed of the capitalist classes. It is not the struggles of the working class to defend its jobs that cause poverty, but it is retrenchments by the bosses. The claim that by reversing the gains made by workers by relaxing labour laws will create jobs, is yet another trick to subject workers to even more exploitation. There is no proof anywhere else in the world that flexible labour laws in themselves lead to job creation. In many instances the erosion of protection for workers lead to payment of slave wages and make the retrenchments of workers even easier.

Another form that this ideological attack against the working class is taking is that the struggles of the working class are by their very nature sectarian and not in the interests of the revolution as a whole or the economic development of our country. We need not remind these bourgeois apologists that the working class constitutes the overwhelming majority of the people of this country. To denounce the working class struggles as sectarian is nothing but a defence of the bosses and their greed. The interests of the bosses are in fact the most selfish and narrowest of interests that unashamedly aim to secure wealth for the few at the expense of the majority.

With regard to other aspects of the SACP year 2000 programme, the SACP must work to achieve the following: -

  • A successful campaign to save every single job and create new jobs through supporting the COSATU campaign and initiating projects to start worker and community controlled co-operatives
  • Developing a working class biased local government transformation strategy to meet the basic needs of poor people
  • A successful campaign to ensure a massive ANC victory in the coming local government elections. It is important that these elections are based on a transformative pro-working class vision and programme
  • Campaigning against violence against women through building Community Policing Forums, utilising women`s focus months and developing a socialist understanding of violence against women
  • Campaigning for accelerated rural transformation and land reform through building of co-operatives and rural development committees which will focus on rural women`s empowerment
  • Campaigning against discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and for affordable HIV/AIDS treatment
Budget 2000, economic transformation and the eradication of poverty

The April Central Committee meeting had a full debate on economic transformation and the implications of Budget 2000. The SACP welcomed Budget 2000 as a positive step to eradicate poverty. The SACP also emphasised the need for a people-led and people-driven budgeting process. In this regard, the SACP supports the COSATU and Jubilee 2000 call for a more participatory process by ordinary people and their organisations to shape and influence the country`s budget. The April Central Committee meeting will have a full debate on economic transformation and the implications of Budget 2000. This debate will also be taken up in our National Strategy Conference to be held at the end of May 2000. This discussion will also cover issues such as inflation targeting, the development of an industrial strategy, restructuring of state assets and public sector transformation.

This debate has already been taken up by several of our branches, districts and provinces.

Organisational implications and implementation strategy

This programme must be used to build party structures, with a particular emphasis on building strong and functioning SACP branches and districts. It is important that Party building should not be treated as a separate component of our programmes and activities, but that these are integrally linked.

In addition, this programme must link with the Alliance programme and the building of Alliance structures. In order to attain this SACP structures must work to achieve the following objectives:

  • Strengthening branch and district structures, and building the capacity of these to effectively drive our Year 2000 programme. Important in this is the operation of district offices by May 2000
  • Intensification of recruitment amongst workers and the establishment of workplace units and branches. This task must be explicitly related to the challenge of building workplace democracy and challenge to management unilateralism
  • Intensification of political education, with a particular focus on district and branch leadership, and base this political education on our Year 2000 programme focus
  • Use the programme to intensify our debit order campaign with the aim of attaining financial self-sufficiency for the Party in year 2000

The SACP believes that it is organised workers that have the collective numbers and strategic economic location, as well as the revolutionary organisational traditions to fundamentally transform our country. The SACP calls on fellow workers to help build industrial and work-place units of the Party. Let us strengthen work-place struggles around wages, working conditions and employment with working class politics. The struggle to defend and expand worker rights is linked to the ANC`s programme of democracy, and it is linked to the struggle for socialism. Workers need a strong SACP and the SACP needs revolutionary workers to fight for socialism. Through this programme, we are building a strong SACP, which is the leading political force of the South African working class.

Our implementation strategy must ensure that we do the following: -

  • address our financial self sufficiency
  • hold ongoing discussions at national, provincial, district and branch levels with the ANC, COSATU, other MDM formations, progressive church organisations and NGOs to brief them about our programme and seek ways of their participation and/or support of this programme
  • lower structures to provide monthly progress reports to higher structures on the implementation of the programme
  • an effective deployment strategy for leadership to participate effectively in the implementation of this programme on an on-going basis

In conclusion, our key political tasks in the year 2000 are: -

  • Mobilisation and consolidation of working class power for the eradication of poverty
  • A collective SACP effort to theorise the South African transition, pulling together the evolution of our strategic thinking and analysis of transition since 1990, focusing on class formation, gender relations and the national question in South Africa`s transition to democracy. This includes the key issues of poverty and black economic empowerment and our work with COSATU in building a socialist commission.
  • Understanding and defining the role of the state in the economy, including our approach to the restructuring of the state, including the debate on the features of a developmental state, and structural reforms we would like to see to deepen the national democratic revolution and lay foundations for socialism
  • Building a strong SACP within the context of building people`s power

Unless the working class mobilises to defend jobs and fight against poverty, there is a very real danger that our democracy will be enjoyed only by a few at the expense of the overwhelming majority. It is for this reason that we must also use the year 2000 to strengthen revolutionary morality amongst our people. The unashamed stance by some within the ranks of the aspirant black capitalists that they are entitled to be filthy rich millionaires during this period, emphasises the need for massive working class mobilisation to prioritise the eradication of poverty over self-enrichment.

The SACP remains convinced that it is only the working class that will lay even stronger foundations for a better life for all. The working class should take direct political responsibility for its future, as the basis upon which to defend our pride as a nation and as a people.


Memorandum for South African Human Rights Commission/Commission for
Gender Equality/National NGO Coalition Hearings on Poverty:
22 May 1998

How the Poor Die:
HIV/AIDS and Poverty in South Africa

By Mark Heywood

The AIDS Law Project is a non governmental organisation that specialises in promoting the legal and human rights of people with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The ALP offers legal advice and assistance to people with HIV or AIDS and engages in some public interest litigation. We are also extensively involved in policy formulation for the public and private sector on matters such as employment policy, health care and access to services. The work of the ALP has received recognition and support nationally and internationally. This submission is based upon conclusions drawn by staff members, supported by research, about the effect of poverty on HIV transmission and the contribution of HIV infection to poverty.

The vicious circle I: Poverty significantly increases risk of infection

The results of the Eighth National HIV Survey of Women Attending Antenatal Clinics of the Public Health Services in South Africa (1997) have led to estimates that there are 2,8 to 3 million people in South Africa living with HIV or AIDS - approximately eight per cent of the total population.Error! Bookmark not defined. To give an idea of the import of these figures it should be pointed out that it is more people infected than in the Caribbean, North & South America combined.

In two of South Africa`s nine provinces (KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga) extrapolations drawn from the survey suggest that more than 20% of the economically active age-group are living with HIV. In two more Provinces (Gauteng and the North West) infection rates are close to 20%. The Minister of Health publicly estimates that 1500 persons are being infected daily.Error! Bookmark not defined.

The size of the epidemic is a huge threat to life and the quality of life of people in South Africa.

The extent of the epidemic and the ongoing vulnerability of the population to HIV infection, like elsewhere in Africa,Error! Bookmark not defined. is directly related to issues of social equity, human rights and poverty. Hence, it is often said that `AIDS is a disease of poverty`. A recent publication of the World Bank confirms this and cites a background paper by Mead Over (Societal Determinants of Urban HIV Infection: An Exploratory Cross Country Regression Analysis", 1997) as evidence that:

"both low income and unequal distribution of income are strongly associated with high HIV infection rates. For the average developing country a $2000 increase in per capita income is associated with a reduction of about four percentage points in the HIV infection rate of urban adults. Reducing the index of inequality from 0.5 to 0.4, the difference in inequality between, for example, Honduras and Malawi, is associated with a reduction in the infection rate by about 3 percentage points. These findings suggest that rapid and fairly distributed economic growth will do much to slow the AIDS epidemic.

This statement cannot, however, be read as a justification for the Growth, Employment and Redistribution Strategy (GEAR), which is seeking economic growth and `stability` at the expense of jobs and is also very far from creating "fairly distributed" growth.

Poverty, Race and HIV

Poverty is unevenly distributed by race in South Africa. The vast majority of African people are poor compared with a small minority of white people.Error! Bookmark not defined. The vast majority of those infected are also poor and African. HIV infection, therefore, has a direct correlation with race.

Although the practice of analysing HIV prevalence by race group has been discontinued and is now only assessed according to age and geographical location, by 1994 there were already significant disparities of HIV infection between races.

A significant factor determining risk of HIV is the social conditions under which people live. In Africa HIV infection is primarily the result of sexual intercourse. Personal behaviour, which can be modified, is the ultimate determinant of risk of HIV infection. However sexual behaviour - and the significance people attach to the risk of infection with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) -- is influenced by a complex matrix of social factors.

One of the reasons for the failure of the government`s National AIDS prevention plan to date has been that amongst people most at risk the perceived dangers related to HIV infection are considered less pressing than the day to day threats and difficulties that face poor people. In the words of a Zimbabwean researcher "Bread and butter issues linked to day-to-day survival are more pressing for the majority of people and being HIV positive is for some just another burden in an endless struggle for survival.

It is believed that there is a high `AIDS awareness` among South Africans but that this has not resulted in behaviour modification. Again the reasons for this are directly linked with poverty and social conditions.

For example:

  • A researcher into mine workers` attitudes to HIV has found that "sex, with its associations of comfort and intimacy (even in the impersonal contact with commercial sex workers) serves as a comfort to workers in the face of fears and stresses. The stressful nature of miners` day to day lives forms a key aspect of the psychosocial context of HIV transmission on the mines.
  • Research has suggested that home ownership is a determinant of sexual behaviour that reduces the risk of HIV infection.Error! Bookmark not defined. "A home implies or promotes a family, the likelihood of a more permanent and loyal partner, a location within the context of a community, out and about less and living in a more secure and humane environment.
  • Living and working close to one`s family (as opposed travelling far from home to find employment) reduces risk;
  • Literacy and levels of educational attainment reduce risk;Error! Bookmark not defined.
  • Quick and effective treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) reduces the risk of HIV infection. Therefore access to health care influences risk; the poorer the access the higher the risk. In townships and particularly in rural areas there are insufficient clinics, and health care facilities are often short of drugs, or their staff are not properly trained to treat people for STDs.
  • Unemployment among youth between the ages of 16 and 30 is estimated to be 52% creating a huge marginalised population. According to one researcher "These marginalised young people are themselves at risk of contracting HIV, and overall the at risk population is steadily increasing rather than decreasing.

Particularly vulnerable to HIV are youth, women, migrant workers, log-haul truck drivers, men who have sex with men (whose need for information have been by-passed in a mainly heterosexual epidemic, in prisons etc) and sex-workers.

Gender, poverty and HIV

There are obvious gender dimensions to poverty and inequality, which also helps to explain women`s greater vulnerability to HIV.

  • The need to supplement income results in many women selling sex either as prostitutes or in a less formal sex-for-support relationship.Error! Bookmark not defined. Research conducted in mining areas has found many women who `sell sex` without regarding themselves as prostitutes per se. Alternatively, many women engage in commercial sex work as their sole source of income. This has led to very high rates of infection: in one area of Johannesburg an estimated 80% of sex workers who took part in a survey were found to have HIV.
  • Research into Female Migration and Prostitution in West Africa found that women entered prostitution "to earn enough to establish economic independence through a business or similar activity. Sadly, very few women succeed in this goal, and HIV means that often meager savings are consumed in health care." (Anarfi, 1995)
  • Inequality in employment and wages has reinforced women`s financial dependency on men which has reduced a woman`s power to insist on safer sexual practices.
  • Unemployment and inadequate education have an important gender dimension. Combined together, they make it difficult for girls and young women to be empowered and to have the necessary life skills. Poor socialisation is related to increased domestic violence and inadequate parenting, while we know that positive life skills are essential in HIV prevention and coping.
  • Domestic violence and rape have associations with poverty. Abused women and rape survivors also risk HIV infection. On the part of Welfare Services and the South African Police Service there are no policies to inform women of the risk of HIV transmission or to improve accessibility to prophylaxis which can reduce the risk of HIV infection as long as it is taken within hours of a rape.
  • Poor women are less able to access treatment for sexually transmitted diseases whose presence significantly increases the risk of HIV infection.
  • Access to confidential and voluntary HIV testing is very difficult away from major public hospitals. In addition, voluntary testing is not free and even a nominal fee of R50 is too expensive for many people.
  • Pregnant women infected with HIV are dependent on the public health service, where it exists, and are unable to access therapies (such as AZT) that dramatically reduce the risk of mother to child transmission of HIV. Consequently, most of the children who are born with HIV are born into already poor and over-burdened families.
  • It is known that breast feeding an infant is an activity that carries with it a substantial risk of HIV transmission. But women with HIV are unable to afford milk formula or they lack access to clean water and electricity that are necessary to prevent other infections in a new born infant.

Social conditions and the absence of progress around the realisation of socio-economic rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution are therefore at the heart of the AIDS epidemic. Inequality and poverty supports vulnerability. Those with the poorest health experiences the world over are generally those who come from the most disrupted social settings.

The vicious circle II: HIV infection compounds poverty

HIV infection leads directly to even greater poverty and inequality:

  • A larger amount of household income is spent on health care for adults and children who are ill because they are HIV infected or have AIDS.
  • Greater costs are incurred paying for burials.
  • Breadwinners and future breadwinners will die resulting in a loss of income to a family. The death of a breadwinner may also lead to loss of housing, medical benefits etc for remaining members of the family.
  • Some people may have to give up paid employment to look after other family members. This role will fall particularly on women, thereby reinforcing gender inequalities.
  • The reduced capacity of a household to secure a livelihood when its productive members are sick or have died will affect health and mortality of children and their educational attainment.
  • Industry will experience additional costs through having to train replacement employees and find ways to cope with a demoralised workforce. In some industries and areas of South Africa there are already signs of this. A large mine reports that 100 employees are dying of AIDS related illnesses every month. In industrial areas of KwaZulu Natal, such as Richards Bay, company managers comment about a marked increase in morbidity (illness) and mortality (death) amongst employees.
  • Educational attainment will suffer as children stay at home to care for an infected parent or other children, or suffer bereavements that affect performance at school.
  • "Extended" families will have to assume additional costs related to looking after orphans. One NGO, Children in Distress (CINDI), estimates that the epidemic will result in three million orphans over the next ten years. Unless proper plans are put in place the "orphan generation" will be characterised by poor socialization, insufficient education and hardship. This is hardly the human foundation on which to build the African Renaissance.

HIV also triggers a spiral of discrimination that contributes to poverty.

Because of the stigma attached to HIV infection the principle of confidentiality is supposed to operate in relation to information about a person`s HIV status in a health setting, in employment and in regard to commercial relationships such as an application for life insurance. In practice there is very little regard for confidentiality and privacy. The result is that already poor people face discrimination that makes it almost impossible to do anything to alleviate their poverty. The following examples should illustrate this:

  • Many employers screen job applicants for HIV, despite the unlawfulness of this practice. Examples include the SANDF, South African Airways, Liberty Life, employers of domestic workers. People found to have HIV are denied employment. There are indications that this practice may be gaining in currency.
  • People with HIV are prevented from making financial arrangements for their families by the fact that they are denied death and disability benefits as well as individual life cover. Sadly, people also experience great difficulty in obtaining home loans because of the bank`s practice of requiring life cover as surety for a bond.
  • People with HIV are denied health security by the drastic limitations and exclusions that are placed on cover for HIV related illness by a large number of private medical aid schemes. For example, the Johannesburg City Council Medical aid scheme (Jomed) limits cover for HIV/AIDS related illnesses to R100 per annum. The Nampak medical aid scheme excludes cover altogether.
  • Many people with HIV report that they are refused treatment in public hospitals or denied operations. In some public hospitals scarce resources mean that doctors have begun to `play God` with the lives of HIV infected patients: denying access to the intensive care unit if there is a person without HIV who needs attention, or refusing infants with HIV access to neo-natal facilities.

Human Development and Poverty indexes:

Poverty is fertile ground for HIV infection. The AIDS epidemic will fundamentally alter the fabric of South and Southern African society. The 1997 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report illustrates how.

The UNDP has developed two new indices of development. The Human Development Index (HDI) compares variables such as life expectancy, educational attainment and GDP. The Human Poverty Index (HPI) compares percentages of people expected to die before they are 40, illiteracy, economic provisioning and child malnutrition. These indices reveal dramatic declines in African countries that will be repeated in South Africa.

  • Of the 30 countries with declining HDIs, 12 are in Sub-Saharan Africa with the main reason being "falling life expectancy due to armed conflict and HIV/AIDS."
  • In 18 Sub-Saharan countries HIV/AIDS will reduce life expectancy by at least 10 years, and in 14 it will push child mortality up by at least 50 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • A study of 15 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa predicted a doubling in the number of orphans by 2005 - to 4.2 million.

The United Nations has described HIV/AIDS as a "new force of impoverishment in sub-Saharan Africa."Error! Bookmark not defined. Clearly if unchecked the UNDP`s prophesy that "AIDS will reverse poverty gains and set off a cascade of economic and social disintegration and impoverishment" will be fulfilled. AIDS will also impact significantly on human rights, law and South Africa`s achievements in science and culture.

What is Being Done: The Poverty of Policy

The link between AIDS and poverty seems not to be understood by politicians, trade unionists or the employees of government departments. Hence there is no serious attempt to consider AIDS as a factor that must be calculated in the planning or implementation of policy in every sector. AIDS is still regarded as the responsibility of the Department of Health.

In addition, the effect of many government and private sector policies and practices is to contribute to the AIDS epidemic and the harm suffered by people with HIV. This is the case both directly (policies of discrimination) and indirectly (consequences of economic policy, unemployment, lack of progress with housing delivery etc)

South Africa is a society totally unprepared for an AIDS epidemic and totally without the wherewithal to begin reduce the rate of new HIV infections. This is a gross omission in one of the countries worst affected by AIDS in the world.

People with HIV are marginalised and without access to dedicated services. Outside of what is offered by the non-profit sector (NGOs) there are no welfare services, no legal services or health services.

What should be done:

A political commitment to preventing HIV and managing an AIDS epidemic needs to be made visibly by the government and this commitment turned into transparent plans and actions.

The inter-Ministerial committee on AIDS, chaired by the Deputy President, needs to assume a much more visible presence and to dictate the actions that are required to manage the AIDS epidemic. For example it should:

  • Investigate the impact that AIDS will have on poverty, reconstruction and development in South Africa.
  • Insist that budgets, time-frames, monitoring mechanisms and personnel are attached to every departmental intervention.

The inter-Ministerial committee must also initiate definite steps to ensure that the sharing of this responsibility goes far beyond the public sector. At present the private sector is shirking its responsibility and is mainly involved in devising strategies that will protect its own interests rather than serve the national interest.

A representative National AIDS Council, drawn from the private, public and non-governmental sectors needs to be established. This council needs a dedicated secretariat, statutory powers to enforce implementation of strategies and a substantial budget.

There needs to be a re-assessment and calculation of the impact that the government`s present economic policy has on HIV/AIDS.

Finally, it has to be recognised that the longer it takes to make progress with the realisation of socio-economic rights (such as to a healthy environment, access to primary health care, housing) the more endemic poverty and AIDS will become in our society.

Drafted by Mark Heywood
The AIDS Law Project Centre for Applied Legal Studies,
University of the Witwatersrand,

Tel: 27 11 403 6918
Fax: 27 11 403 2341

All contents copyright Aids Law Project.


South African Communist Party Discussion Paper

Johannesburg`s Igoli 2002

A Case for Extending the Public Service

This document, with a focus on local government, is intended to contribute to the debate that will assist in
ensuring that we achieve our strategic objective of developing the National Democratic State. Such an
objective  must ensure that we strengthen the position of the working class, the poor, women and
the disabled in taking their rightful place in driving governments` developmental agenda.


Johannesburg is one of the most developed cities in Africa. It contributes more than any other conurbation to the national economy and fiscus. On the other hand, it represents the epitome of the legacy of apartheid, namely the huge gap between black and white, rich and poor, capitalist and working classes. Johannesburg has within it its boundaries several urbanities. On the one hand there are modern developed areas with infrastructure and systems designed to serve the white minority. On the other hand there are under-developed areas with decaying infrastructure, poor and low service delivery levels, and often no tax base. Johannesburg has therefore within it its boundaries the two nations President Mbeki has referred to, one with a lifestyle equivalent to a tropical Sweden and the other with a lifestyle equivalent to some of the poorest countries in the world.

This circumstance is essentially one of an escalating financial crisis with a developmental contradiction. The GJMC faces the task of having to increase service delivery, both in terms of quantity as well as quality, ensuring equity in terms of service provision, and creating the environment for the development necessary to transform this apartheid legacy. It must do this while simultaneously removing the duplication, inefficiency and poor institutional arrangements that are also a legacy of the apartheid era. In the context of this crisis and these challenges the Johannesburg Transitional Metropolitan Council adopted IGOLI 2002 in March 1999 as a plan to address a "financial crisis" and a "poor institutional design"1. The plan included the privatisation and sale of certain assets and restructuring of core functions of the municipality into internal and external corporate entities2.

Igoli 2002 negotiations are considered to have broken down between the city of Johannesburg Metropolitan Council and South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU), as well as (IMATU). There is agreement on the guarantee of central bargaining rights, a plan for skills training and development, negotiation on changes to the work organisation, and for remuneration levels to be equal or better than existing ones. There is disagreement on Johannesburg`s proposals for privatisation, corporatisation and job security.3 However, engagement with the GJMC by various parties has resulted in significant shifts from the original plan that addresses some of its identified weaknesses. These weaknesses include the lack of a developmental agenda, concerns about continuing council ownership of basic infrastructure, concerns about council control over the newly created entities, and about accountability to council on policy formulation and implementation by the same.4

Analysis of issues arising out of IGOLI 2002

In summary, the following key issues have emerged from the Gauteng SACP`s May 1999 IGOLI 2002 Critique, the SAMWU / Johannesburg Bargaining Council discussions and various Alliance meetings.

  • There was inadequate consultation in the development of the plan. The current impasse is a result of this weakness.
  • Implementation of the plan began before there was agreement with organised labour and the Alliance. This led to unnecessary tensions and contradictions.
  • The plan suffers from a lack of a developmental agenda.
  • The threat of future job losses and the erosion of job security have not been adequately dealt with by the plan.
  • The privatisation process is still not agreed to.
  • Corporatisation is still a controversial issue.
  • There has been a problematic conflation of the need for crisis intervention and of a broader long-term transformation agenda in the process of developing and implementing IGOLI 2002.
  • An unhealthy climate for continued transformation of local government has been created by the impasse.
  • A shared understanding of the challenges of creating a National Democratic State is obviously still lacking.

The Issue of IGOLI 2002 has placed a serious challenge on the SACP and the Alliance to develop an approach to local government transformation that advances our objective of building socialism now and achieving a national democratic state. The challenge presented by IGOLI 2002 could be repeated 235 times with the amalgamation of the 834 local authorities into 235 municipalities over the next year. It is therefore crucial to place the issues above within the context of this strategic perspective.

Addressing the current impasse at the Johannesburg City Council

The developmental perspective that has been inserted into IGOLI 2002 include the issue of de-commodification, such as in ensuring a basic supply of water and electricity at no cost to households.

In addition, the Party that could begin to unlock the current impasse suggests the following principles and decisions.

  • Broader and more meaningful consultation on the institutional reorganisation choices.
  • Implementation should be paced to ensure the parties to the current dispute could attempt to resolve their differences.
  • Privatisation of certain assets should be negotiated in terms of the current framework agreement. The emphasis should be on retaining key strategic assets and particularly those involved in the delivery of basic public goods and services.
  • The specifics of the difference of 5 years from labour and 3 years from Johannesburg should be the subject of a collective bargaining agreement. The proposals for restructuring and job security should not be a stumbling block to the transformation process.
  • The SACP in Gauteng has developed proposals for an approach to corporatisation that ensures that government is not only responsible for development but is able to drive development in a manner that expands the concept of the public service.

The disagreement over IGOLI 2002 is creating a climate that will negatively impact on local government transformation in general and on the fast approaching elections. It would not be in the best interests of attainment of the Alliances common goal of the NDR to create an impression of a split in our movement nor indifference by workers to an ANC election victory. It is therefor imperative that steps be taken to achieve a common understanding on local government transformation in general and IGOLI 2002 in particular. It is important that our party initiate a discussion in our movement of the challenges facing the creation of a national democratic state and the challenges facing our struggle at this period in our history.

Extending the public sector

The IGOLI 2002 Plan talks of the creation of a "world class city". Engagement with concepts such as these is essential to the development of the notion of extending the public sector. A world class city concept is based on the idea that the global environment is more central to the development of the city than a developmental environment driven by local inequalities and conditions. The key issues arising from the IGOLI 2002 plan is to ensure the following:

  • The strategic agenda of the NDR drives local government transformation. This can only be achieved through thorough engagement with the alliance, the broader democratic movement, and all the affected residents.
  • That the public sector, particularly local government, is an inheritance of the apartheid system and that creative approaches are need to improve and extend the public sector.

The basis for extending the public service can include alternate forms of management, organisation of service delivery and partnerships with the community and the private sector. These alternatives must build the developmental character of the state and ensure the extension of services to the citizens not only as consumers but also as contributors to the development of the service. It is imperative for management and the local administration to recognise that the knowledge of citizens and their ownership is essential to an effective and efficient service. The following issues need to be addressed through increased consultation and dialogue.


The Framework for Restructuring of Municipal Service Provision between SALGA and COSATU is a guide for privatisation and restructuring of the Councils` services and assets. In the case of IGOLI 2002 there have been deviations from the Framework Agreement. The SACP does not advocate or support privatisation, but where it occurs it should be in terms of the above principles.

Principles for Restructuring

The SACP places the following principles for the continued restructuring of the administration of service delivery:

  • Meaningful engagement and involvement between the council and all stakeholders, particularly workers affected by the restructuring
  • Collective political leadership of restructuring through the Alliance that manages the differences that must and will arise but should not be allowed to jeopardise the Alliance.
  • Councils must continue to be responsible for setting the agenda and program for development, for the delivery of the services including setting the tariffs.
  • Transformation must ensure the promotion of equity and redressing past inequities and injustices.
  • The citizens of the Councils are entitled to a service that meet the principles of "Batho Pele".

The following principles are proposed for the establishment of utilities or agencies:

The utility must strengthen a developmental agenda and be established to ensure the service is delivered to all

The utility must remain publicly owned and publicly managed with a public service ethos (public service ethos sees citizens as consumers, partners in development, entitled to service according to the principles of Batho Pele and ultimately to whom public sector management and workers account).

Council must set broad and strategic policy, developmental objectives, management performance mechanisms and goals, oversight of achievement of goals and targets, oversight of expenditure and revenue.

Democratic management such as work-place forums, co-determination, and increasing self-management must be promoted.

Core functions are not to be contracted out. Public-public and community-public partnerships are preferred where such partnerships are needed.

Community prioritisation, participation in planning, oversight of delivery, establishment of priorities and budgeting to be promoted.

Transparency of Financial, human resource and asset management and cross-subsidisation to be transparent.

Establishment of an association of utilities to enhance best practice to be ensured.

Profits to be returned to Council for cross-subsidisation of other services or reinvestment to increase service.

The creation of utilities or agencies should not undermine our hard-won labour rights, including centralised bargaining, job security and maintaining conditions of service.

Utilities to be established by statute and the Executive Mayor, Executive Committee or Council to appoint the board and chairperson

The composition of the board should be as follows:

  • Community representation
  • labour representation
  • Developmental specialists on finance, legal issues, etc

Council, executive committee or council representatives

Public participation to be guaranteed through an advisory or co-ordinating structure at local community level to provide a local developmental perspective.

The Igoli 2002 Plan states the problems and the its reason under the heading a " A Case for Change" that " the challenge is to transform the current bureaucracy into a business approach because the city is a `big business` a big business indeed, but the city has never been run as such" (p6).

The Igoli 2002 Plan states that "the salient features of the plan are:

  • A single metropolitan council for Greater Johannesburg (unicity)
  • The creation of utilities for water sanitation, electricity, and waste management (Programme A)
  • The creation of agencies for roads and stormwater, parks and cemeteries (Programme B)
  • The privatisation of Metro Gas, land, housing, the Fresh Produce Market, Rand Airport and stadium
  • The corporatisation of the zoo, the civic theatre, farms, housing company property and projects, urban and economic research and promotion of special projects such as the Newtown Development Authority
  • A core administration including community services, planning and development, corporate services and finance, infrastructure and corporate management, the creation of a metropolitan police force and a metropolitan transportation authority representing the `client side`. Centralised contractor for arts and culture, museums, sport and recreation and emergency services; and regional directors contracting for local community services (Programme E)
  • A financial plan (Programme F);
  • Special projects (Programme G) and a labour relations plan (Programme H).

Over 230 hours of negotiation within the Bargaining Council on three major issues, namely the deliver of services to address social needs, a labour relations plan and the IGOLI 2002 restructuring proposals. There is apparently agreement on the programme of action to deliver social needs. There is disagreement on the following labour relations issues:

  • Labour maintains the view that the plan is not to be implemented until after it has been negotiated with labour. Johannesburg holds the view that it is negotiating the plan to reach an agreement.
  • Labour holds the view that there should be a five-year employment guarantee while Johannesburg has given an offer of a three-year guarantee.
  • Labour holds the view that employees should be returned to the original structures should the new entities fail or are restructured. Johannesburg disagreed with this because it offered a three-year guarantee.
  • Labour holds the view that there should be ring fencing of council entities while Johannesburg holds the following view:
  • Water and Sanitation should be delivered by a council-owned utility with a limited period management contract;
  • Electricity should be delivered by a Distribution Utility as a step to a regional electricity distribution entity.3
  • Corporatise the services of
  • Roads and stormwater;
  • Johannesburg Zoo;
  • Metro Bus Company with a management contract;
  • Fresh Produce Market;
  • A ring-fenced parks and cemetery agency

N.B. Ring-fencing is a concept of separating the finances and management from other functions within the council.

The following is a tabulation of the IGOLI 2002 document as presented by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Council in March 1999, the view of a SACP critique of May 1999 and the current status of IGOLI 2002 plan and implementation.


IGOLI 2002 MAR 1999



  • Includes Fresh Produce Market,Johannesburg Stadium, Rand Airport and Gas Company
  • Suspension of privatisation of recreational facilities and Fresh Produce Market and Union proposals to be reviewed
  • Fresh Produce Market to be corporatised.
  • Johannesburg Stadium to be sold
  • Rand Airport and the Metro Gas Company have been sold
Development Agenda
  • IGOLI 2010 mentioned
  • Only backlogs mentioned
  • Essential to formulation of a Plan
  • Water 80% to 100%
  • Sanitation objective 80%
  • Electrification goal 98%
  • Access by road - 100%
  • 50% reduction in violent crime
- -
  • Decommodification essential
  • Water- First 6kl/ household/month free
  • Electricity - First 60kwh/household/month free
- -
  • Establish Steering Committee including Alliance to oversee transformation
  • Steering Committee established


COSATU - iGoli 2002

Briefing Statement

This statement is meant to inform COSATU affiliates on the current issues arising out the iGoli 2002 process. This includes areas we believe constitute serious problems for the restructuring of Johannesburg.


The iGoli 2002 approach to service provision and capital investment envisages an increase in private sector participation and the corporatisation of service provision. This is potentially a dangerous strategy, for in the short-term it concedes that existing management cannot be reformed, a conclusion that fails to incorporate the possibility -one proven across the world, as well as in Cape Town water supply- that workers and communities can enhance management of municipal assets and delivery. In the medium-term, such a strategy virtually always leads to job losses and consumer price increases that disproportionately hurt the poor. In the long-term, the failure to meet social needs associated with "public goods" and the drain of resources to (monopolistic) private sector suppliers represent very significant social costs.

Differences with the council include:

  • The separation of councillors from the day to day management through a board of directors and a CEO.
  • Whether there is council capacity to manage.
  • That individuals are only motivated through performance contracts.
  • That everything can be reduced to a contract between the council as the client and the contractor (the private sector, the utility, the agency, etc).
  • Privatisation
Problems with the content

The iGoli 2002 programme argued that various processes, (including privatisation, agencies, corporatisation, utilities, financial plans etc.), should be undertaken in order to address the problems faced by the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council. This programme essentially projects the State as being inherently inefficient and unable to deliver the much needed services to our people. Instead the Council takes an ideological position that the private sector is inherently efficient and professional.

iGoli 2002 proposes essential services such as water, electricity and refuse removal be corporatised and made private entities that are directly accountable to the CEO`s and the board which are completely independent from the Council. This effectively means that basic services are now privatised and will be run on business principles, central to which is the generation of profits at all costs. The council`s role will be reduced to that of a shareholder and its functions will be limited to regulating tariffs. In future, political accountability for service delivery will be taken away from elected representatives and service delivery will be reduced to a commercial relationship between private companies and individual residents. This is the core of the disagreement between COSATU and the Council.


There are mechanisms of raising the money to fund delivery programmes. Council could explore the following options:

  • Increasing payment rates to the municipality through:
  • Improving metering/billing systems (including establishing lines of accountability and public legitimacy);
  • Focusing more resources on non-payment (including arrears) by those who can afford to pay doing business or residing in wealthy areas.
  • Making use of current capacity that exists in the council;
  • By restructuring tariffs to achieve social justice through free lifeline, and
  • Development of humane means of limiting consumption for those who do not pay for services beyond their lifeline entitlement;
  • Increasing the inflow of tariff revenues
  • By establishing a steeply-rising block tariff (as in the example of Hermanus)

Increasing the inflow of property rates revenues

  • By raising rates with the dual objective of restructuring property investment patterns in Johannesburg consistent with compact-city principles, and raising revenue for Johannesburg.
  • Through a Henry George tax on land that is not fully utilised.

More creatively accessing provincial, national, and international funding opportunities:

  • By arguing convincingly that investment in human and social capital on an ongoing basis has important social, economic and environmental multipliers that will make Johannesburg a decent place to live;
  • Funding such as the equitable share grant and international donor aid would thereby link the increased subsidised consumption of water, electricity and other municipal services to specific social goals such as gender equity.

Council claims to have set aside R390 million for infrastructure spending this year. This estimate is unlikely to even make a short term difference to the poor state of service delivery as this capital comes from simply selling off assets for a once-off payment, or transferring money committed elsewhere to boost the amount reflected in the capital budget.

Allocations from central government to the GJMC have dropped from R450 million in real terms in 1994 to a paltry R24 million last year, whereas services need to be extended to millions more citizens.


Council has claimed that for the 2000/2001 financial year, R550 million will be available as committed capital for infrastructure spending. Yet the only indication as to where this will be spent has been council`s suggestion that they build thousands of put latrines in Johannesburg`s townships on top of the water table.

In the meantime, minor infrastructural problems continue to cause major financial losses. SAMWU`s suggestion that water workers be deployed to fix leaky township pipes was ignored. There is a need to introduce a package of lifeline services funded through steeply rising block tariffs (high users cross subsidise low users).

The list below constitutes a basis for further discussion:

  • 50l water per day per person
  • Flushtoilets
  • 1 kw/h per person per day; 20A connections, etc.
  • 25l bins for each household, collected once a week.

Other services cross-subsidised to ensure both affordability and access to the poor. Again the list is subject to further discussion:

  • The extension and direct involvement in social and rental accommodation. A strategy to link this to the appropriation of buildings as compensation for arrears;
  • Cheap and affordable distribution of land, with mechanism to prevent re-sale to the middle class; Accessibility through the expansion and upgrading of roads;
  • Cheap, accessible public transport (major component of workers costs);
  • Public health care; and
  • Cultural and recreational facilities.

COSATU will never give up the demand for free lifeline levels of service. It is nothing short of criminal that while officials earning millions of rands per year refuse to marginally increase the tariff of the rich, children die of easily curable diseases for the lack of running water and heating. The council agreed in principles that lifeline services were necessary but refused to set targets for these. Judging by the proposal to install put toilets, the council`s idea of a minimum service level is far below internationally accepted standards set by the World Health Organisation.

The following issues need to be carefully considered:

  • Ring-fence the operations of particular departments e.g. water or electricity. This will immediately amalgamate fragmented service delivery, and avoid "considerable duplication and complex arrangements;"
  • Devolve management authority and introduce new and more efficient systems, but efficiency should not displace democracy;
  • Place in the operation of these departments auxiliary functions such as fleet, IT, training and the collection of outstanding money, that are linked to the effective operation of the department;
  • The council set targets for the CEO, regulates and monitors.
  • The need to construct something new in order to avoid negative historic baggage. This could mean constructing new departments. How to ensure that departments compliment each other and create synergies and do not compete between themselves, narrowly focusing on their own targets. At what level should such integration or complimentarily occur. For example is this just at the level of planning or also on a day to day basis? Such questions give rise to further questions and debates: What activities, from a social point of view, would best fall under which department (we need to go beyond the narrow logic pursued in the iGoli 2002 plan which groups activities according to their ability to make a profit and pay their own way).
"Public good" benefits

By demonstrating, e.g., the public health benefit that people derive from having access to potable water (a benefit shared by society as a whole), and then establishing how the city of Johannesburg can directly benefit from provision of such public goods (and tax society accordingly to assure such benefits are sustainable).

iGoli2002 will not erase mismanagement

In 1996 SAMWU marched against the establishment of five current MLC`s, and in favour of a unicity. Since then, the inefficient bureaucracy of the MLC`s has wasted millions of rands that could have been used for service delivery.

SAMWU opposed council`s reliance on overdraft facilities at extremely high interest rates, urging instead that a system of rising block tariffs and cross subsidisation be put in place. This was ignored, as it is being ignored now, and the overdrafts have built up millions in debt.

The high number of unfilled posts across departments has led to inefficient, badly managed and financially wasteful services. In waste management, there are vacancy levels of 46% in management and 22% in skilled workers.

Communities must now pay for councils poor management, which is not going to be improved by transferring the problems to corporate entities.

iGoli 2002 and jobs

Notwithstanding the so-called guarantees around no increases to services and no retrenchments, international experience shows that once the honeymoon period is over, pursuit of profits will lead to massive tariff increases and retrenchments.

Throughout negotiations and the mediation process the Council refused to take into account that labour is a stakeholder in any restructuring processes. Council sought to reduce the role of labour to labour relations issues such as retrenchments, collective bargaining rights and job security. Whilst these matters are important to us, we see ourselves as also representing the aspirations of our unemployed family members who we support - the working class as a whole. This is the proud history of COSATU and we will refuse to be reduced to mere employees or just a gumboots-and-overalls union.

Problems with the process

The negotiations started in June 1999 and ran until August 1999 when a dispute was declared as a result of bad faith negotiations by council. The parties to the mediation process agreed on the following terms of references for the mediation:

  • discussions are without prejudice no public statements by parties during the process - all press queries to be handled by the mediator
  • seek an expedited process
  • that the agenda consists of the sale of 3 facilities and the restructuring of a further 10 services

The reason why there could be no bone fide negotiations was that the council consistently and frequently contravened the terms of reference (number 2 above) and kept on either issuing provocative statements or willy nilly going ahead with restructuring that was subject to mediation. This included the sale of Orlando Stadium, Metro Gas and Metro Centre, as well as calls for tenders for equity partners for water and electricity.

Furthermore, the council has been firm on the following issues which labour find highly problematic:

  • The existing management cannot be transformed or retrained and the private sector needs to be brought in (external ring-fencing)
  • The introduction of ethos derived from the private sector both in the field of delivery and the relationship with communities will help improve the city (client/contractor split)
  • The programme as it stands is not up for negotiations but for consultation and labour must simply get on board.
Way forward

The variety of problems outlined in this briefing document clearly indicates the need for a multi-pronged approach to unlock the current deadlock. All affiliates must urgently take up the task of informing and educating communities about the dangers of iGoli 2002. We must bear in mind this process has series implications for the rest of the country`s municipalities - which is going to impact on jobs and service delivery across South Africa! eThekwini 2002, iKapa 2002, and iPitoli 2002 will rear their heads in the next few months. The Jhb Lekgotla already made one presentation to the Cape Metro council a few months back. Until now, we have tended to allow the council to determine the agenda and the pace of negotiations.

The following steps need to be taken as a matter of urgency:

  • Engaging the public - This must include clarifying the public about our own position on iGoli 2002. The council has until now committed resources to ensuring that the public is broadly on board with its positions. This area is as important to us as it is to the council.
  • As such we must present our detailed positions on the following:


The debate around this area has been narrowed to a contest between the council model based on municipal business enterprises that seeks to introduce in all services such as water, electricity etc. some form of external ring-fencing. This includes registering under the Companies Act with a CEO that is accountable to a board of directors that are not councillors. The role of council becomes that of a regulator that is merely to look at tariff structures etc. We believe this will have the following unintended results - breakdown in public accountability commodification of services.

We have argued for an internal form of ring-fencing as this will ensure public accountability whilst allowing these services to raise the necessary capital and ensuring that some form of cross subsidisation across services is retained.


We have already indicated in earlier paragraphs the problems associated with both the ideology and the effects of privatisation. We however need to further clarify our position with regard to the assets that are being put up for sale, viz:

Metro Gas

This is a form of cheap energy that Johannesburg`s working class has traditionally been denied access to. The sale of Metro Gas is particularly short sighted. There is national legislation around energy, including gas as the energy of the future, to be tabled this year. Cape Town municipalities are investigating transforming old power stations into gas stations, using the cheap and plentiful gas from the Namibia Epupa project. There are similar initiatives underway in Mozambique, which in a few years time are sure to reap enormous profits for the consortium that purchased Metro Gas. Until then, the company will not risk anything as it is under no obligation to extend gas into the townships

Johannesburg Stadium

The key issue here is how recreational facilities are managed by the council. We need to develop mechanisms of using the stadiums to increase council revenue. The Johannesburg Stadium is a community asset that could also bring in a significant amount of funding if it only had a simple marketing plan

Rand Airport

Before it was sold, the airport was breaking even. Given the demarcation of local government, there are developmental possibilities here worth considerably more than the sale price. The airport is located in Germiston and the Germiston should have been given preferential status in buying into this asset.

All affiliates must take up the iGoli campaign!

There is a need to ensure that all affiliates are brought on board and become part of the broader campaign. We believe the struggle against iGoli 2002 needs to be taken up by all affiliates because it is related to other current problems which unions are facing. The roots of iGoli 2002, as is the case with many other struggles, lie in the macro economic framework (GEAR policy) which is based on fiscal constraint, slimming of the state and opening of doors to the private sector and profit-driven programmes. As long as we do not make these linkages, we weaken ourselves to the neo-liberal attack which is currently facing the working class. Privatisation is affecting almost every industry in our country. Most affiliates have clear programmes against privatisation as we have already seen the result - which is massive job losses!

Legislative framework

The finalisation of the legislative framework for local government restructuring is extremely important. We must ensure that the principles of transformation contained in the National Framework Agreement on Local Government Restructuring, find expression in various chapters of the Systems Bill, especially the chapter dealing with municipal services. Already the council has declared they want to influence this piece of legislation through iGoli 2002. The challenge to COSATU and the broader democratic movement is not only the iGoli 2002 plan. We need to prevent a neo-liberal legislative framework on municipal services from being promulgated. The implications for this are very clear. We need to include in our campaign the Nedlac agreement on negotiations of the Systems Bill, so as to create the necessary room for engagement, both at a political and parliamentary level. w


Missions and  Tasks of the National Liberation Movement

Input on the role of the African National Congress in the current phase to the meeting of Alliance officials, 10-11 December 1999

The strategic objective of the National Democratic Revolution and motive forces

The ANC Strategy and Tactics, amended at our 50th Conference, restated the strategic objective of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), as the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. This in essence means the liberation of Africans in particular and black people in general from political and economic bondage. It means uplifting the quality of life of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female.

We therefore continue to define the motive forces as Africans in particular and blacks in general and in class terms include the unemployed and landless rural masses, the unskilled and semi-skilled workers, professionals and small business operators. Furthermore, the immediate interests of the rising black bourgeoisie and the middle strata objectively coincide with that of the majority.

The Mission of the National Liberation Movement

The primary mission of the ANC as a national liberation movement remains the mobilisation of all the classes and strata that objectively stand to gain from the success of the cause for social change. Along with the poor and the rural masses, the working class stand to gain most from the successes of transformation. The ANC drives this mission by: -

  • Engaging in the critical tasks of organisation, education and mobilisation of these forces;
  • Channelling the energies of these forces towards this goal;
  • Identifying common interests
  • Uniting the motive forces and others in joint action;
  • Working amongst sectoral formations and joining with them both in sectoral and inter-sectoral campaigns to realise the aims of the NDR.

The ANC also seeks to win over to its side those who previously benefited from the system of apartheid and to persuade them that their long term security and comfort are closely tied with the security and comfort of society as a whole. The ANC is therefore not a leader of itself, nor just of its supporters, but it must lead South African society as a whole in the quest for a truly non-racial, non-sexist and democratic nation.

As the leading force in government, the ANC must continuously improve its capacity and skill to wield and transform the instruments of power. This includes: -

  • A systematic approach to parliament as the forum, to lay a detailed legal framework for transformation;
  • Creative employment of public representatives in organisational work;
  • A cadre policy to ensure that the ANC plays a leading role in all centres of power; and
  • A proper balance in its day-to-day activities between narrow organisational work and organisational tasks.
Character of the ANC

The ANC Constitution and Strategy and Tactics (1997) defines the character of the ANC as a non-racial and non-sexist national liberation movement, with a mass-based democratic structure which enables it to fulfil its historic mission. The ANC also contests elections as a registered political party, drawing its electoral support from all sections of South African society.

Our strategic objective, the motive forces and the character of the terrain in which we operate (mass work, parliament and government) are central in defining our organisational character.

Our Five Pillars

In this phase of transformation therefore, we seek to expand and deepen the power of democratic forces in all centres critical to the NDR, at the same time as we improve the people`s quality of life. Our efforts are founded on five basic pillars:

  1. To build and strengthen the ANC as a movement that leads the people in the task of social transformation;
  2. To deepen our democracy and culture of human rights and mobilise the people to take active part in changing their lives for the better;
  3. To strengthen the hold of the democratic movement on state power, and transform the state machinery to serve the cause of social change;
  4. To pursue economic growth, development and redistribution in such a way as to improve the people`s quality of life; and
  5. To work with progressive forces throughout the world to promote and defend our transformation, advance Africa`s renaissance and build a New World Order.
Our Programme of Action

Our 1999 Elections Manifesto and `Accelerating Change` document set out our broad vision for the next five years. Our broad objectives are spelt out as: -

  • Accelerating change;
  • Building partnerships with the people;
  • Building a new patriotism;
  • Work for a better Africa and world; and
  • Build a strong ANC (and Alliance).

Our programme of action, therefore, identifies a nu8mber of priority areas such as safety and security, economic growth and job creation, meeting basic needs and delivery to the poorest, education and training, transforming the state, nation building, and the governance and organisational tasks we need to perform in each of these areas.

Our programme to build the ANC as a movement capable of leading the process of transformation include: -

  • Campaigns: anti-crime, getting schools to work, HIV/AIDS and strengthening developmental local government;
  • Preparing for local government elections;
  • Strengthening our organisation and developing our cadreship;
  • Building effective partnerships with the Alliance, broad forces for transformation and communities; and
  • Strengthening dynamic inter-action and effective communication between ANC structures and governance.

The breakthrough of 1994 and the foundations laid in the first five years of democratic rule present the Alliance with opportunities to take this phase of the NDR to a higher plane. "Our history has shown that we (the Alliance) are a powerful force because our organisations are mutually reinforcing" (OR Tambo: 1981). 


  1. Strategy and Tactics and Constitution amended by the ANC 50th Conference, 1997
  2. Elections Manifesto, 1999
  3. State of the Nation address of President Mbeki to Parliament, 25 June 1999
  4. ANC shall never forego its Alliance with the SACP, cde. Alfred Nzo`s Message to the meeting convened to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the SACP, London. July 1986
  5. ANC Programme of Action, 1999/2000


The strategic role of the SACP in the current conjuncture

In broad terms, the SACP sees its present role to be guided by principles that have underpinned the strategic position of the Communist Party in South Africa throughout this past century:

  • To strive to be the political representative of the South African working class; and
  • To be a party of socialism.

In the post 1990, and post 1994 situation these strategic priorities have, of course, taken on some fresh challenges requiring new responses.

1. The political representative of the South African working class

Meeting this challenge requires, as it has in the past, a genuinely dialectical response that at once seeks to build independent class consciousness, confidence and organisation, while, at the same, continually connecting working people to broader struggles.

1.1 Fostering independent working class consciousness, confidence and organisation

1.1.1 The reality of a capitalist dominated national and global economy requires constant ideological, political and organisational work to build working class consciousness, confidence and organisational solidarity. The last 20 years of intensified capitalist globalisation involve as one defining characteristic the substantial restructuring of the working class itself - destroying jobs, creating new jobs (and even new working classes in marginalised societies), and, in many cases, changing the nature of work. The South African working class over the last 20 years, and indeed over the last 5 years, has been deeply affected by these developments. Without going into detail, the changing San working class is marked by chronic structural unemployment, the shedding of numerous unskilled and semi-skilled jobs with agriculture and mining being especially affected, growing feminisation of key sectors, and significant casualisation, contracting out, and other measures. As a party of the working class it is our duty to understand these processes better, to distinguish the inevitable from what is claimed to be inevitable but is simply a narrow capitalist agenda, to understand which battles can be won, and which require engaging with to inflect developments with as progressive a content as possible. All of this requires a working class movement, capable of advancing strategic and bold agendas, a movement that does not get caught always on the back foot, in defensive struggles.

1.1.2 Fostering independent working class consciousness also requires an ongoing ideological, cultural and moral struggle against the pervasive and dominant paradigm of our times - neo-liberalism. In our new San context it is clear how public discourse is constantly dominated by the values of neo-liberalism - on the economic front the media, for instance, are absolutely swallowed, in their assumptions, by the neo-liberal model. State restructuring is, for instance, simply assumed to be privatisation. On the moral front, the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), notwithstanding is other merits, is overwhelmed by a perpetrators/victims individual rights ethic that completely undercuts structural class oppression (and completely misunderstands collective liberation struggle). On the cultural front the arts in SA, as exemplified by the public broadcaster, continue to be overwhelmed by commercialised (and often US originated) assumptions and aesthetic models. On the political front, public discourse, again typified by the media, is dominated by narrow assumptions about multi-party electoral politics and leadership competitions. In all of this, the apartheid past, is tendentially, reduced to little more than a "market distortion", and liberation becomes "letting the market free".

1.1.3 Building working class consciousness also requires an ongoing struggle against particularistic and divisive ideologies that constantly threaten class unity - whether they be racial, ethnic, gendered, rooted in xenophobia, or prejudices based on skill differentials. In the new context, there are many possibilities of broadening working class unity, not least drawing in white and coloured working people into a closer unity with the majority of workers. We have not yet done sufficient work on this front.

1.1.4 Seeking to play the role of the party of the working class does not mean, incidentally, that the SACP should endorse uncritically each and every worker demand or worker action. Affirming the leading role of the working class is not the same thing as tailing behind each and every working class view. It should also be said that neither COSATU nor the Party represent "the working class" in some ex-officio manner. These last considerations link directly to the task of :

1.2 Ensuring that the working class does not isolate itself

1.2.1 While building independent working class confidence, consciousness and organisational capacity, it is imperative that the working class does not cut itself off from, but rather integrates itself into and plays a leading role in the national democratic revolution (NDR). The interests and struggles of SAn workers - job creation, economic growth and development, democracy and peace - are not separate from, indeed can only be advanced, deepened and defended, within the context of a broad multi-class, patriotic, NDR, to overcome the legacy of colonialism of a special type. In tackling the dangers of isolationism we obviously have to constantly deal with ideologies which, more or less spontaneously, occur within most militant working class movements - the ideologies of workerism, syndicalism and ultra-leftism. In the new conditions, these often assume the responsibility for governance, or for building the ANC, a tendency to see government or the ANC as a "friendly" (at best) management that we will meet across the table. We should add that these tendencies, while found as minority tendencies within COSATU, are also to be found within our own Party. Obviously, the challenges of 1.1 and 1.2 above underpin our strategic organisational commitment to fostering both independent working class formations, specifically (but not exclusively), COSATU and the Party itself; and the unity of our ANC-led national liberation movement alliance.

1.2.2 The working class movement, the Party and governance - the post 1994 situation has thrown up fresh challenges for the SACP, and on this front we believe that we are still often very much on a learning curve. Since 1994 the SACP has found itself in the privileged position where there are half a dozen or so SACP members who are in cabinet, where there are dozens of communist MECs, MPs, MPLs, and hundreds of councillors, where there are communists in senior positions in all sectors of the administration and security forces. While those in elected positions are there in their ANC capacity, the SACP can now hardly conduct itself as if it were a purely "extra-parliamentary" formation - in a sense, the SACP is in power. These new realities have thrown up important challenges for us:

  • There are situations in which prominent communist leaders find themselves on different sides of a dispute - e.g. the 1999 public service wage dispute - the SACP cannot run away from the challenge, nor can it substitute itself as a bargaining chamber, nor should it "take sides" - we have sought to play a constructive role, drawing attention to the broader questions of public sector restructuring and wage policy.
  • Is there an independent role for SACP members who are, for instance, MPs? The ANC deputy president at the 1999 Strategy Conference raised this question. Is there a case for allowing some MPs to speak directly as Party, to shift the debate leftwards, to rebut more robustly the continuos anti-communism of the opposition parties?
  • Should the SACP conduct itself differently in regard to ANC electoral lists? By and large, we have only exercised a negative veto, withdrawing some comrades from lists.

On most of these matters, there is debate and ongoing discussion within the Party, and we would appreciate the contributions of our alliance partners and our own structures to this debate.

1.2.3 The working class and the changing class composition of our movement and broader constituency - the post-1994 situation has seen the rapid improvement in career possibilities for tens of thousands of black professionals, young black graduates, and for full-time cadres of our movement. A small but significant grouping of black people, many from our own movement ranks, now occupy important positions within the broader SAn capitalist class. These developments are, essentially, long overdue and are part and parcel of the necessary transformation of our country. The SACP would be foolish to lament or adopt a moralising and condemning stance towards these changes, but we would be remiss in not noting the new challenges that they also present. Far from seeing the emergence of black middle strata or capitalist elements as inherently inimical to our socialist project, we need to engage with them. Indeed, if anything, the small emergent black capitalist grouping is more threatened by current capitalist structures than by a socialist transition. However, such a perspective is not necessarily going to be espoused spontaneously by them. The Party willingly and wittingly embraces the multi-class character of our ANC-led movement, but we all need to continually monitor the implications of growing class diversity, and of widening inequality amongst the black majority, and therefore within our natural constituency, and within our own movement.

2. A Party of Socialism

Through the 1990s, and in often difficult circumstances, the SACP has succeeded in affirming and consolidating itself as the pre-eminent political party of socialism in our country. The decade of the 1990s has presented specific challenges to a socialist or left project: -

  • the collapse of the Soviet bloc
  • the rolling back of social democracy between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s
  • the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of progressive national democratic third world struggles over the last two decades

Against this background, demoralisation and uncertainty have been inevitable dangers, and the SACP has sought through the 1990s to address these challenges, fundamentally in three inter-related ways:

2.1 We have sought to use the SACP as a collective forum in which to deal critically (self-critically) with the left legacies of the 20th century, and particularly with the communist legacy of which we have so much been a part. We have endeavoured, in collective debate, political education and discussion, to avoid the twin dangers of unreflective abandonment, and of an equally unreflective "nothing was wrong". Amongst other things, we have tried to "Africanise" our Party, not just in membership and leadership (a long achieved objective) but also more profoundly in ideological ways - e.g. are the styles of left wing organisations and ideological polemics inherited from turn-of-the-20th century Europe appropriate? Are there strengths in our own indigenous traditions of broad unity, of incorporation, of pluralism, that can be of value to socialist struggles internationally?

2.2 Sustaining an ongoing critique of capitalism - the flaws of "actually existing" socialism, and its virtual collapse - which we must not seek to evade - do not make a critique of capitalism invalid - on the contrary, it is more necessary than ever. We believe that, at the end of the 1990s not least in the wake of the 1998 global crisis and the 1999 WTO Seattle round, this conviction has a much wider resonance than it did just a few years back.

2.3 Through self-criticism, and the continuos elaboration of an anti-capitalist critique - to contribute domestically, continentally and internationally to a renewal of the socialist project.

The SACP through the 1990s, in identifying the challenge of confronting left demoralisation, has noted the twin dangers, in our specific conditions, of:

  • abandoning the socialist project to anti-ANC elements
  • of preserving the Party in a formalistic, "life-boat" mode. In this case, subjected to occasional emergency drills to see if it is "still the Party of Moses Kotane", and then left to hang suspended in what is otherwise irrelevance.

It is in seeking to confront the latter danger that we have, since 1995, begun to advance the slogan - "Socialism is the Future, Build it Now". Judging from some interventions made by ANC comrades at our 1999t Strategy Conference, it is important to underline that by "Build it Now", we do not imagine that we are about to construct a full-blooded socialist system in SA - this would be adventurist in the extreme. The slogan is intended to affirm the relevance of socialism in the present - we are not a fire escape ladder, but a Party actively engaged in all spheres of SAn life, seeking to build capacity for, momentum towards and, where possible, elements of socialism into daily life. E are doing this because of our longer-term commitment to a socialist South Africa, but also because we believe that socialist capacity, momentum and elements are the best way to advance, deepen and defend the NDR, right now.

2.4 Concrete programmes - in line with all of the above, the SACP has, in practice, sought to engage its forces independently and in conjunction with our partners in practical campaigns ranging from elections, to opposition to the IMF gold sales, to the TRC process, to unemployment. We have also begun to develop projects in line with our socialist vision - notably seeking to foster co-operatives, and to decommodify basic needs.

2.5 Building organisation - to take this kind of work forward, we have also sought to root our organisation amongst workers and rural and urban poor communities. The Party is currently seeking to more effectively establish workplace Party units.

2.6 International solidarity work - the Party has been reasonably active in international solidarity work - ranging from campaign focuses (Cuba, East Timor, the debt question), to fraternal networking (picking up the pieces of the former communist party networks, including in Africa), but also forging new links with a variety of left and progressive formations, and working closely with a range of international solidarity movements.

2.7 Helping to build allied formations - finally, in line with our view, that the Party cannot be strong if the ANC and COSATU are not strong, much of the work of our cadres has been taken up with helping to build the ANC and COSATU. The SACP has run numerous joint political education schools with COSATU and its affiliates, we have produced a joint education manual, and we have also done some similar work with ANC structures. We see our journals, AC and Umsebenzi, as forums not just for the Party, but as publications to promote debate and cadre development throughout our movement. The Party has also worked to help resolve factional and other problems in allied formations (e.g. recently in FAWU, along with the ANC and COSATU). w


Cosatu input to the debate on the role of the progressive
trade union movement in the current conjuncture

Note - this input is intended to provide an initial response to some concerns which have recently been raised on the role of COSATU in the transformation process. It does not attempt a comprehensive analysis of the role of progressive trade unions.

COSATU as a trade union

COSATU first and foremost is a revolutionary trade union movement, which has played, and will continue to play, a crucial historical role in the transformation of our country, as part of the broad liberation movement. Its capacity to fulfil this historical mission is not in contrast, but is linked, to its role as a body formed by employed workers to fight for the improvement of their wages and other conditions of work, and to improve the social and economic conditions which affect workers and their families. It has always been understood that the role of progressive trade unions in the struggle for social transformation is dialectically linked to the `bread and butter` struggles which trade unions of necessity engage in.

The primary objective of establishing COSATU on the 1st of December 1985, was that workers needed a shield to unite them for the purposes outlined in point one above.

Just line any trade union in the world, COSATU and in particular its affiliates shall continuously engage capital and the rest of the employers for the purpose of improving wages and conditions of employment for its members and the rest of the working people. In the current situation employers include the democratic government led by the ANC.

In numerous documents and policy positions, COSATU has repeatedly stated that if one day it compromises this position, it will just like TUSCA unions, find itself relegated to the dustbin of history. As part of this discussion we have brutally criticised ourselves whenever we saw the weakening of some of our organisational traditions and cultures that helped us to be the giant we are today. The most publicised document where we once again sought to make this self-criticism was the September Commission report. However this report was not about abandoning our historical character, but consolidating and taking forward this historical role in the context of the democratic transition.

This process of self-criticism was aimed at pressurising our leadership, cadres and members to improve the organisation we are building so that it can have the capacity to engage the bosses, as well as contribute to transformation.

Because we have an open approach to the question of organisation, COSATU is one the few organisations whose weaknesses are well known by its foes and friends alike. Those who wish to undermine us, however, conveniently omit to mention the organisation`s many strengths, and the contribution it has made to the transformation project.

This sometimes obscures the fact that COSATU remains the only well organised mass formation in the country today. This by no means suggests that we are satisfied we are satisfied with the level of organisation or service we provide to members. The reason we continuously analyse our strengths and weaknesses is precisely based on the need to continuously

The weaknesses referred to above have in the past been abused by the foes of the federation in an absolutely opportunistic manner to try to justify the logic of their criticism of the federation. We have, as part of this attempt to make COSATU irrelevant, heard of "brain drain" that is used conveniently to justify certain criticisms. We have heard of skewed analysis of the weaknesses to find reasons why COSATU should not be taken seriously. In the recent past or since the democratic breakthrough we have seen this criticism taking a new turn with COSATU being brandished as an elitist formation that seeks to gain the best for its members at the expense of millions of others who are worse off.

Some of this negativity masks real strengths characterising the organisation during the transition period. For example, focus on the so-called `brain drain` obscures the dynamic development of worker leadership during this period. It is a major strength for COSATU that the current leadership is virtually entirely composed of comrades who rose through the ranks. This development of organic intellectuals from the working class is an important asset for the organisation, and contributes to advancing worker control.

In the next paragraphs we seek to respond to some of the criticisms levelled at the Federation, hopefully not in a defensive manner, but rather to contextualise some of the policies the federation has pursued since its inception.

COSATU and a living wage campaign and struggles

COSATU adopted a policy of a living wage as a direct response to the poverty and slavery wages its members were subjected to at the shopfloor.

Throughout the life of the campaign and from the time it was launched in 1987, COSATU has sought to deliberately increase wages of workers as part of its overall strategy to address the high levels of poverty its members and the working class have been subjected to.

This COSATU did with the full understanding that each of its members supports between five and fifteen extended and unemployed members of their families. This is particularly so in the rural African communities.

It is a known fact that South Africa hardly has a social security net. Various studies have shown that rural communities rely on remittances from workers` wages. If wages were to be removed from the equation, there would be even more poverty in the working class communities. It is equally true that the government`s old age pension is a major source of income to many unemployed families.

COSATU and its Alliance partners have for many years advocated a high wage and high skill economy. This vision informed the RDP document. We argued for this position knowing very well that wages of workers play a critical role in addressing widespread poverty in South Africa. The National Skills Act is a deliberate intervention in line with this vision.

The 1996 census report revealed something known to all of us, that at least a quarter or 26% of employed workers falls in the category off the "working poor" as they earn as they earn less than R500 per month. According to the same report 62% of workers earn less than R1501 a month.

The large numbers of workers living in poverty, and the connection between this poverty and the plight of the unemployed, are two sides of the same coin. Those who attempt to counterpose the plight of the unemployed to that of improvement of workers` conditions, particularly in the business press, are either failing to understand this connection, or are deliberately obscuring it, to pursue a political agenda.

The above facts show the correctness of our position on living wage. COSATU should, based on these facts, intensify its living wage campaign instead of scaling it down.

In addition to the above logic we have pursued the living wage not just for economic reasons but as part and parcel of the struggles to transform class relations, as well as addressing racial oppression.

South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world. This is reflected by everything including levels of wage differentials between black and white, blue collar and technicians and between workers as a whole and management. The apartheid wage gap in the private sector stands at a staggering 100:1 between the CEO and lowest paid worker. As the direct result of democratic government policy, and wage policies advanced to progressive trade unions, the wage gap in the public service has been reduced to less than 20:1, and the minimum wage in the public sector has been increased to R1872.

Struggles to close the apartheid wage gap are part and parcel of the class struggle and the National Democratic Revolution. This is part of the ongoing class contradiction, and the capitalist bloc and their spokespersons will always try to present this as economism, building an elite, or opposition to the democratic government.

The living wage and the public service in the context of an ANC led government

The recent three days` strike by the COSATU public sector unions led into a debate on the role of the revolutionary and progressive trade unions. For the record let us emphasise the strike took place over three days staggered over a period of a month. The exception was SADTU Soweto branches who extended the strike for another week. In general, considerable restraint was exercised by COSATU affiliates, who also gave commendable leadership in this regard to other public sector unions.

Recently, one of the main criticisms of the Federation arises from the fact that the COSATU public sector unions sought to mobilise the rest of what is in the Alliance traditionally viewed as establishment staff associations bent on protecting privileges accumulated under apartheid. This Alliance position on many of the staff associations who participated in the one or two days of the general strike in the public service is correct. The political question that must be debated is - does mobilising and leading establishment public service staff associations on an agenda determined by COSATU constitute a counter-revolutionary strategy on the part of the Federation and its public sector unions?

An important reality being overlooked by these critics is that the historical alignment and racial divisions generated by apartheid are not static, but are subject to broader social processes generated by transformation. In this situation COSATU would be abrogating its leadership role if it failed to engage these other forces. Development of the NDR is tending to lead to realignment of class forces, and the reduction of historical racial divisions. It is therefore COSATU`s responsibility to engage the historically privileged sections of workers in struggle, and isolate the most reactionary elements.

COSATU and its public sector unions are not and have not taken a narrow wages position in the public sector. Yes as part of being a trade union COSATU public sector unions have sought to improve wages and conditions of employment of its members. The reason why the apartheid wage gap has been reduced in the public service is partly as a result of bitter struggles our unions fought even before we were certain that there would be a breakthrough in 1994. So yes, our unions have vigorously fought and sought to improve wages and conditions of work of their members.

COSATU and its public sector unions have also taken a broad transformative approach to the public service. They understood that the issues of wages and transformation of the public sector is one and the same struggle. There will always be criticism as to whether this was enough. That is another matter. We also agree that unions need to more actively involved in the transformation of the public sector.

For the record COSATU public sector unions demanded that a restructuring council be established parallel to the Public Sector Co-ordinating Bargaining Council back in 1994. This call was made when the balance of forces in the PSCBC was clearly in favour of established staff associations who sought to block and frustrate any attempts to restructure the public sector in a manner that would affect negatively their privileges.

It is the COSATU public sector unions that pushed the agreements on audit of numbers of the public sector workers, auditing of the service needs, redeployment of personnel to areas that are under serviced and away from areas that may be overstaffed, reskilling and retraining of public servants to deliver a better service to all our people.

It is the COSATU public sector unions that have from national and provincial congresses passed resolution after resolution urging members to expose corruption and to be whistle blowers. For this in some cases the members have suffered tremendously including being exposed to death. The case of NEHAWU members who had to be exiled from the Free State is the case in point.

It is them that have called for a new culture to be cultivated in the public service based on the need to improve service. It is POPCRU members who in their own spare time went to conduct anti-crime busting activities during the festive season of 1998. It is SADTU who in the context of the three teaching days lost as a result of legitimate struggles for a living wage called on its members to sacrifice their afternoons, weekends, and holidays in an operation to ensure a better pass rate in our schools in 1999.

So to present the COSATU public sector unions as only interested in their wages is not correct. The issue we should be discussing is whether these transformative activities by our members have been enough and have made significant impact in the light of the challenges we face. This includes corruption, greed and lack of culture of service on the part of some public service workers.

The issue is not whether involving public sector staff associations in a strike for a living wage is wrong but whether the strike could have been avoided taking into account its political implications. We remain convinced that the strike should have been avoided. COSATU unions cannot be apportioned with the blame for unwillingness to find a political solution to the causes underlying the strike.

An honest assessment is needed of the role of inappropriate strategies by government in creating the crisis in the public sector: constant demonisation of public sector workers; projection of spending on wages as wasteful and unproductive; frustration of agreements on skills audits and other transformation strategies negotiated with unions; the disastrous VSP approach, mechanical downsizing, etc.

COSATU a revolutionary trade union movement that is part of the liberation movement

From inception, COSATU declared through a resolution of its founding congress that struggles to uplift wages and conditions of employment cannot be secured without first addressing national oppression. We at the same congress affirmed that workers on their own would not be able to defeat this system of national oppression. We again through a resolution dedicated the federation and its members to alliances with progressive organisations fighting for the liberation of the majority.

At its first congress held in 1987, we again reaffirmed our founding congress resolution on the need to build alliances but sought to further clarify what we meant by progressive organisation. The 1987 congress resolution then described the federation and its members to alliances with progressive organisations fighting for the liberation of the majority.

This resolution sought to open a clear strategic alliance with the United Democratic Front and intensified discussion with the ANC and SACP, and SACTU leadership then in exile.

During the years between its inception and until the unbanning, COSATU and its alliance partners at the home front led a systematic onslaught against apartheid and national oppression. When the successive state of emergencies weakened most of our alliance partners we had to extend our political role and extend our limited resources.

This is the history that cannot be questioned. COSATU from inception saw itself as being part of the liberation movement. COSATU saw itself as being part of the congress movement. The overwhelming number of COSATU`s members and leaders are either ANC/SACP activists or sympathisers. The study COSATU conducted revealed that over 90% of its shop stewards supports the ANC. This is in result the result of a consistent and conscious campaign to popularise and develop the movement among workers.

It is on this basis that COSATU aims to ensure that the political power attained is consolidated and deepened. Our role is to defend this revolution through strategic interventions on the political front in collaboration with the Tripartite Alliance and the rest of the democratic forces.

It is on this basis that COSATU aims to ensure that the political power attained is consolidated and deepened. Our role is to defend this revolution through strategic interventions on the political front in collaboration with the Tripartite Alliance and the rest of the democratic forces.

This means that we should ensure that the Alliance as a whole, and the ANC as the leader of the NDR, actually leads this transformation. COSATU played a meaningful role in this direction in both national elections as well as the local government elections. We intend to do the same in the coming local government elections.

COSATU must ensure that the gains won on the political front are translated into a co-ordinated programme that will change the lives of the majority for the better.

Obviously COSATU does not have resources and capacity to have its fingers in each area of transformation. We have sought to focus on those strategic areas of intervention that will have a major impact on the lives of the working class.

COSATU believes that the framework outlined in the Freedom Charter, RDP, Alliance Partners` National Congresses and the manifesto is the broad vision we are all committed to. The disagreement comes both at the level of the detailed elaboration of policies, as well as the approach to implementation.

COSATU and the struggle for socialism

In 1987 COSATU committed itself to the struggle to attain socialism.

In the last Congress held in 1997, COSATU discussed this at length and decided that in partnership with the SACP it should launch a debate on the type of socialism we want to build.

As the result of this we have established a COSATU/SACP socialist commission to drive this debate and struggle.

Whilst we know that the ANC has not committed itself to socialism, we also know that it has not committed itself to strengthen capitalism.

Taking forward the NDR of necessity means challenging important elements of current capitalist relations in SA, which lock black people in general and workers in particular in social conditions which characterised their lives under apartheid - poverty, unemployment, and so on. This means that all components of the Alliance have a shared interest in challenging those elements of class domination which retard the prosecution of the NDR transformation agenda. w


Alliance Programme of Action 2000


"The relationship between the ANC and the SACP is not an accident of history, nor is it a natural or inevitable development. For, as we can see, similar relationships have not emerged in the course of liberation struggles in other parts of Africa. Ours is (therefore) not a paper alliance, created at conference tables and formalised through the signing of documents and representing only an agreement of leadership. Our alliance is a living organism that has grown out of struggle. We have built it out of our separate and common experiences."
President O.R. Tambo.

At the summit of the Alliance held late last year, we began the discussion document on the programme and organisational challenges in a similar way. It is an important quotation to restate at this time. Not least because the 1999 election campaign has articulated the point that it is through action and a common programme that the Alliance continues to evolve and grow.

It is also instructive for us to note at this time that the other programmatic areas identified for common action during the 1998 Summit have not translated into mass activities led by alliance components. It is important for us to consider why an election campaign does engage our membership in action and why other campaigns have not succeeded to the same extent. We shall reflect on that in regard to the way forward.

Principles informing a programme

The alliance continues to function on the basis of a common perspective of the imperatives of our National Democratic Revolution (NDR). The strategic objectives remain the building of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and united nation. In addition, we seek to build a prosperous South Africa, with prosperity conceived of as ensuring economic growth, redistribution and the narrowing of the gaps between rich and poor.

These objectives were given more concrete expression at the 50th National Conference of the ANC in the form of five pillars of struggle:

  • The mass pillar - building and strengthening the ANC and the Alliance as a movement that organises and leads the people n the task of social transformation;
  • The pillar that seeks to deepen democracy and the culture of human rights;
  • The third pillar involves state transformation;
  • The fourth pillar is about economic growth, development and redistribution; and
  • The fifth pillar involves international solidarity in order to defend our transformation, advance Africa`s renaissance and build a new world order.

The 1999 ANC election manifesto, born out of an Alliance process, gave popular expression to these five pillars. The five pillars are based on our approach of people-driven and people-centred development and the acceleration of change for a better life for all.

The Alliance functions on the basis of a "complete respect for the independence and integrity of the internal democratic processes of [all] organisations" (Joe Slovo, 1986)

Our common understanding is that in all we do, we have a conscious leaning towards the poorest of the poor.

At all moments in our pursuit of our agenda, we must assess the extent to which we are moving towards the attainment of our objectives.

The 1999 Elections

The overwhelming victory for the ANC in the election demonstrated a broad popular support for this vision, and gives us the mandate to drive it forward.

However, this victory is tempered by the fact that fewer people voted for the ANC this time around than in 1994. Rather than 12 million people, 10.6 million citizens voted for us. This decrease must be seen in the context of a changed electoral system, which demanded that only citizens (as opposed to permanent residents) could vote and only those on a new national common voters` roll could participate. However, the result still insists that we cannot be complacent.

The elections enabled our formations separately and collectively to re-establish a much more dynamic link with our mass base through our engagement in active campaigning, mobilising and organising.

It is imperative that we do not throw away all of the good work and experience that we have built up during the campaign period. Where we fail to maintain dynamic contact with our mass base, we create the space for other organisations to present themselves as the "authentic voice" of the people, abrogating to themselves the role of "popular oversight over government and the ruling party".

In addition, the expectation of the masses is that we will, as leading forces for change in South Africa, drive the manifesto programme forward with dedication and a sense of urgency. History demands that we take up this challenge.

As an alliance we functioned coherently and energetically during the campaign. Many factors contributed to that:

  • A clear campaign strategy developed jointly with distinct phases and a clear goal;
  • Implementing structures with tasks and action plans existed at each level of the Alliance; and
  • A separate budget was set aside to ensure implementation.

Campaigns in the coming period should be modelled on this experience.

Campaigns 2000

Alliance campaigns for 2000 are drawn from the Programme of Action as outlined by the ANC`s document, "Accelerating Change", from resolutions of COSATU`s Special Congress and the SACP`s Strategy Conference which seek to outline programmes for the implementation of the manifesto vision.

The action plan that is developed should centre around the imperatives of building the alliance at all levels and the broad forces for transformation, strengthening the dynamic interaction and effective communication between government and the Alliance and building on the dynamic contact between the ANC and the people revived during the election campaign.

Under the broad slogan "Together, fighting for change where we live" the Alliance should focus on five inter-related campaigns for the coming year. These campaigns must assist ANC and Alliance branches and locals to take up socio-economic and developmental concerns for the community.

  • Crime prevention
  • Job creation
  • Rural development
  • Local government elections and transformation

These campaigns should all be managed through the NET, PETs, RETs and LETs that must be established with Alliance participation in all campaigns and structures.

In relation to political direction, the NEC Elections Committee should meet monthly from the beginning of the year with COSATU and SACP representation. A suggestion is made that an Alliance Command Structure (or Political Centre) is also formed to begin functioning from the beginning of the year as a political working committee of the campaign programme. This structure would require to meet fortnightly.

The political structure should be duplicated at all levels of the alliance.

A strategic approach for the local government election campaign was developed at a national strategy workshop held in January 2000. This strategy conference deliberated on the following:

  • Implications of the new electoral system
  • Local democracy and the ANC`s vision of transformation and participation
  • Key towns
  • Results analysis
  • Research and message development
  • Campaign coherence for locally driven campaigning
  • Structures and time frames
  • Key tasks for the first and second six months of 2000
  • Resources required
  • Training needs
  • Local elections list process

The notion of Batho Pele (people first) should inform the perspective of the campaign. Batho Pele requires that management in the public service begin to change attitudes and that unions are conscious of their responsibilities to communities of efficient service delivery.

Alliance structures should heighten public awareness of their rights and responsibilities in monitoring, assessing and giving feedback in this regard.

Broadly, the HIV/AIDS campaign should focus on education (already taken off through the campaigns of the ANCYL and the ANCWL) and building partnerships with key stakeholders.

The job creation campaign broadly will look at the following:

  • Sectoral job summits in key sectors should ensure a more strategic and broad-based approach to restructuring. Social plans should minimise the impact of job losses on workers and communities and facilitate re-entry into the labour market. An Alliance process should forge broad consensus on these issues.
  • Planning and initial work on large-scale public works projects must start immediately, as called for by the Jobs Summit
  • Cabinet should create a high level position to champion employment issues
  • A high level Alliance team must spearhead a review of labour legislation, including legislation on miners and farm-workers, to ensure that it has the desired effects. The review should draw on in-depth research into the impact of labour laws, by sector, on incomes, employment, labour relations and poverty. The Labour Department should take the results of this review into account in implementing the Manifesto`s promise of legislation to require negotiations over retrenchment.
  • The review should point to strategies to strengthen the protection for the most vulnerable workers - farm, domestic and mine workers - without threatening jobs. In the next three-year, the Departments of Labour, Agriculture and Minerals and Energy Affairs should implement a strategy to mobilise employment and raise productivity in these sectors. Measures could include support for workers` organisation, much stronger training programmes, educating employers in the new labour relations system, expanding workers` housing, and determining appropriate minimum wages and conditions.
  • The review should define coherent policies on foreign labour. Lack of a strategy on this issue has caused social conflict and exploitation. Currently, half of all miners are foreign, as well as a substantial share of farm and domestic workers, and foreigners also form an important part of skilled labour in this country. An integrated programme must ensure labour rights for foreign labour and give our country access to adequate skills without undermining employment and training of citizens.
  • Linked to job creation is the implementation of a rural development strategy.
  • The development of an approach on co-operatives and the building of co-operative ventures must be fast-tracked.

The anti-crime campaign must look broadly at the effectiveness of community policing forums and the Alliance leading those at community level, the anti-gun legislation must be supported through effective communication of the issue on the ground and anti-crime initiatives as they relate specifically to women and children must be developed at an organisational level.


These broad campaign areas need to be developed into concrete action plans with clear plans and tasks for each level of the organisation. The Alliance secretariat must ensure that these plans are further fleshed out. w


Improving the modus operandi in intra-alliance relations

We have, in our alliance, a movement that has, in one form or another, weathered decades of struggle and oppression. Moreover, it is an alliance that did not just fall apart in 1990 or 1994 as had been widely predicted (or hoped for in powerful quarters). We have shown a capacity to fight and win elections together, scoring impressive majorities. Although we do not always give each other credit, each of our three formations, in their different ways are widely respected internationally. COSATU, for instance, whatever its weaknesses and challenges, is one of the most pro-active and creative progressive trade union movements anywhere in the world. In the recent Seattle Round, prominent alliance leaders collectively played a leading role, etc. etc. Despite all of this, and much more, these kinds of realities often all too easily get lost in the day to day political process here in South Africa. Why?

We should never under-estimate the external forces ranged against our alliance. All of those neo-liberal forces that are concerned about the ANC`s political, two-thirds dominance of SAn politics, know very well that with the present alignment of forces there is little prospect for the kind of restructuring of the political landscape of the kind that they wish. Think-tanks like the business-aligned Centre for Development and Enterprise openly admit this, and constantly speculate on, and work for a breaking up of the alliance. Most of these interventions appeal in flattering terms to "the more realistic" sentiments of the key ANC leadership. But we should have no illusions, while nominally critical of the SACP and COSATU, it is the ANC that is the real target.

This anti-alliance agenda is unceasingly taken up in much of the media - partly by intent, and partly out of an inability to think of politics in any other way than as parliamentary electoral politics, or sensational stories about factions and personalities. Within these paradigms the alliance is only relevant when it can be featured under a headline about "growing strains and tensions".

However, it must also be admitted that some of the media`s packaging of most ANC stories, for instance, as factional battles between personalities, who are either "in" or "out", has its counter-part in tendencies within our own ranks to reduce politics to the "politics of deployment" (as important as deployment issues might be).

Another factor, in our own behaviour, that has often reinforced the impression of an alliance beset with continuous tensions is the style in which we have conducted debates and discussion. It is to this that we wish now to turn to make some observations:

  • Questioning each other`s bona fides - debate and difference are an inevitable and, in principle, a healthy part of any democratic political organisation/movement/ alliance. Debate is essential for policy development and ideological dynamism, and it plays a critical role in cadre development. But intra-organisational, or intra-alliance debate that constantly calls into question the bona fides of others in one`s ranks is a recipe for disunity and factionalism. It is also a recipe for the intellectual stunting rather than development of one`s cadres - who, instead of being exposed to the traditions of rigorous debate, and to the inevitable complexities of strategic policy making, learn simply to parrot "them and us" labels.

Examples of labels that question the bona fides of comrades include - "neo-liberal", "sell-out", "ultra-left", "infantile left", etc. As the leadership of the Alliance we need to set an example of avoiding such terms, even while engaging in robust but constructive, comradely debate.

But we need to go further. We need to ask, in the spirit of cultivating the progressive culture of an African Renaissance, whether much of the style of political debate that we still use is not extremely Euro-centric (and, of course, patriarchal) - inherited from the traditions of a turn-of-the-century European left. While some of the worst excesses in the 20th century of this left cannot simplistically be attributed to styles of debate, surely these have played some role?

We need to be self-critical about these traditions, and we need to develop (or draw on existing) alternative traditions of debate and discussion which have a more inclusive and empathetic character. Specifically, as an alliance leadership we need to help our mass constituencies and our activist cadre to empathise with, to understand the diversity of legitimate views and concerns within our movement. It is the job of SACP leadership, even while criticising GEAR, to explain the rationale, the context and constraints that underpin government`s macro-economic policy (as we did during the election campaign). Conversely, GEAR proponents should empathise with the real concerns of those who, within the alliance, seek in a constructive way to raise alternatives.

  • The temptation of demagogic populism - related to the above, is the ever present danger of resorting to demagogic populism to "settle" an internal organisational/alliance debate. This kind of populism has both "right" and "left" variants. "Left" demagogic populism seeks to win cheap debating points by stirring up oppositionist grievances and disillusions. A "right-wing" example of demagogic populism would be the attempt to mobilise "parents" or "students" against teachers involved in a pay dispute. The recent public service pay dispute presented opportunities for both variants - it is heartening to note that at the leadership level (both of government COSATU unions) the temptation was avoided.

  • Keeping debate and critiques "within the fold"? - It is our view that there are many issues of national policy that will and must be debated within and across the alliance publicly (but in the style and spirit of the points noted above - of course!). A few years ago there was a debate about whether SA should have a "one" or "two China" policy. This is a matter of national public interest, and there is nothing wrong in debating it publicly and constructively. What is an appropriate budget deficit reduction target, or an appropriate inflation target in SA in the current conjuncture? Should we be fostering a black capitalist "class"? Again, these are matters of public interest, and we enhance the ideological development of our movement by encouraging constructive and comradely debate around these matters. If we fail to do this, moreover, such debates will be dominated by other forces.

There are, however, situations where debate and critiques should be handled "within the fold" - in particular, where we are dealing with individual behaviour, particular episodes, specific statements (real or alleged). etc. Of course, deciding in practice whether a given instance belongs to the domain of legitimate public debate, or should be handled within the fold may not always be so easy. But where we are dealing with what looks like individual indiscipline, or a public statement that is offensive to other parts of the alliance, we must, as far as possible and in the first instance, handle such matters within our formations, and at the appropriate level.

Eg. a statement (real or "quoted") by a PB member/SACP national official that fellow PB members find problematic should first be raised within PB ranks with the individual, and not opened up in a party branch meeting, for instance. Similarly, when interacting across organisations within our alliance, we should seek to handle matters at the appropriate level as much as possible - CEC or NWC to PB, etc. This might sound mechanical and impractical, but we should all endeavour, as much as possible to handle these kinds of issues as sensitively as possible.

Where we launch scathing individualised responses to fellow leadership (within our own organisations, or within allied organisations) in broader forums before raising them in appropriate ways we set an example that quickly cascades down the ranks of our formations. An open hunting season is declared on this or that individual.

Respecting multiple mandates - Although the question of diverse (and perhaps contradictory) mandates is often reduced to the question of those who are, for instance, both ANC NEC members and SACP officials, the fact is that we are all subject to complex mandates, in one way or another.

  • There are many cases where government mandates (under the pressures of time and the need to deliver) get ahead, out-pace adequate ANC decision-making;
  • There is a complex inter-play between provincial positions and national positions within all of our formations; and
  • Between legislative ANC caucuses and executive/administrative structures
  • Being president or deputy-president of the country is not precisely the same function as these positions within the ANC.

In noting these examples, we are not suggesting that there are dozens of different ANCs, for instance. Clearly, the ANC is a unitary organisation. But the fostering of its unity, not least in an era of governance, is a complex task that will see many creative tensions that we need to understand and effectively manage.

Where potential differences, or even contradictions, between mandates occur, care and sensitivity are required. In particular:

  • an individual making a statement, or delivering a political education input, etc, should endeavour to make quite clear on what mandate she/he is speaking or writing.
  • there must be respect and understanding, from others for different mandates, and for the independence of our different allied formations.

In particular, we are concerned that the "problem" of multiple mandates is evoked on occasion in an endeavour to bureaucratically silence comradely debate or difference. While sensitivity is required from all sides, we cannot use the "problem" of multiple mandates as a reason to suppress the discussion of legitimate perspectives and differences.

Not all differences are the same - Reviewing the past 5 years of intra-alliance interaction also highlights, we believe, the tendency not to distinguish between various kinds of differences. This results in one of two false moves -

  • a tendency to deny or skirt over actual differences, failing, even in our own discussions, to grapple with them honestly;
  • or, alternately, building minor differences into vast make-or-break issues.

There are, we believe, no essential strategic differences amongst us - although we might have different long-term visions. Our shared strategic vision is captured in the RDP, our elections manifesto, and our various strategic documents - all of which affirm the alliance.

In some areas, there may well be policy differences - it is important to understand what these might be, and to understand that a policy difference is not equivalent to a strategic difference.

Often, what appear to be policy differences, are, in fact, problems of process notably in the formulation of policy.

Then there are, of course, more specific issues and points of difference - a percentage wage increase, for instance.

Improving the modus operandi of our alliance requires an understanding of the differences among differences, not just at a leadership level, but ensuring that our broad constituency and the general public are able to appreciate these as well. It also requires categorising differences into those which, with further debate, we can resolve, and those which we might agree to disagree upon and then manage the consequences effectively. w


Fifty Years of the People`s Republic of China.

By Pallo Jordan

A Necessary Introduction.

The Chinese state was established under the Qin ( pronounced Chin, hence the name China) Dynasty in 221 BC. In Chinese the country has historically been referred to as Zhungkuo, meaning "The Middle Kingdom", a name the country retains even today.

China is the oldest continuous major world civilization, its recorded history dates back 3,500 years. After a brief period characterised by slavery, China became a feudal society, ruled by a centralized monarchy, personified by the Emperor. China`s emperors developed a system of bureaucratic control run by a highly trained civil service, the Mandarins or Mandarinate.

China`s agrarian economy was built on the backs of a rightless peasantry, who were the vassals of local feudal gentry, who in turn were the vassals of lords, who in turn were vassals of the Emperor. The system of feudal domination was reinforced by a state ideology, derived from the teachings of the philosopher Confucius, which held that the Chinese state was like a patriarchal family, with the Emperor as the patriarch, who in turn delegated his authority down to lords, the gentry and finally to men as family heads in each household. In terms of Confucian ideology, the status of women was like that of children in the household. Wives were utterly dominated by their husbands, and on their husbands deaths, their eldest sons.

A common written language helped to bridge the gaps among the country`s many local languages and dialects. China evolved as a multi-ethnic and multi-national political entity over many centuries, bound together by an imperial bureaucracy and the ruling dynasty.

China was twice conquered by neighbouring nomadic tribes, the Mongols, under Genghis Khan in the 13th century, and the Manchurians, who deposed the the native Ming dynasty and established the Qing (Ching or Manchu) dynasty with Beijing as its capital, in 1644. From the mid-19th century, western imperialists powers, led by Britain, through trade, war and diplomacy reduced China to a semi-colonial status. Britain imposed an opium trade on China despite imperial edicts prohibiting the addictive drug after of the First Opium War of 1840 which China lost. Subsequently, Britain, France, Russia and other Western powers, including the United States,forcibly occupied "concessions" and assumed special commercial privileges in various Chinese seaports. Hong Kong was ceded to Britain in 1842 under the Treaty of Nanking, and in 1898, when the Opium Wars finally ended, Britain extracted a 99-year lease on Hong Kong , which became its colony. A number of other unequal treaties were extorted from China by one western power after another. In 1895 Japan defeated China in war and joined the other imperialist powers in exploiting her.

Qing control weakened, and China suffered massive social strife, economic stagnation, and Western penetration. The Taiping rebellion (1851 -67) almost toppled the dynasty. The Western powers and Japan, wielding superior military technology, imposed more economic and political concessions. A rebellion by Chinese patriots in 1899 - the Boxer Rebellion - tried to expel the western powers but was crushed by a joint western expeditionary force.

Reformist Chinese intellectuals argued for the adoption of Western technology to strengthen the country but were repressed by the Qing emperors. In 1905 Dr Sun Yatsen, a Western educated medical doctor, founded the Koumintang (National Movement) supported by overseas Chinese and rich merchants and capitalists from the port cities to resist imperialism and to overthrow the Qing dynesty.

The Qing Dynasty was replaced by a republic in 1911, but its civilian government soon fell and was replaced by a warlord government led by a Manchurian general, Zhang Zolin. China disintegrated as a number of local warlords and military leaders carved out portions of the country to rule as their kingdoms.

In the 1920s, Sun Yat-sen established a revolutionary base in south China and set out to unite the fragmented nation. With Soviet assistance he created a national army with a view to waging a war to liberate China from the warlords and foreign imperialism.

The first major revolutionary breakthrough after Russia`s 1917 October Revolution occurred in China. After virtually two decades of revolutionary civil war, the People`s Republic of China was founded on 1st October 1949. In the eyes of many revolutionaries, that revolution acquired a prestige close to that enjoyed by the Russian Revolution. Not surprisingly the strategy and tactics the Communist Party of China (CPC) had employed to attain victory were placed on par with those of the Bolsheviks. The CPC however described theirs as a "People`s Republic", implying that though it was a post-capitalist social formation, it was not yet a socialist one.

The post capitalist states had to contend with an internal tension rooted in their empirical existence as nation states, which came into being despite the worst intentions of international imperialism. Theory reinforced their initial self-perception as the first bridgeheads of the international proletarian revolution. However the threat of the enemy at the gate, moreover an enemy who had more than once actually breached the defenses, loomed large in the consciousness of their leadership. Policy makers were invariably torn between two options: either to try to purchase time at the expense of the state`s revolutionary vocation, or to go over to the offensive by opening up a front in the enemy`s rear by assisting the revolutionary process in other countries.Though these options were often posed as alternatives, reality usually dictated a reconciliation between the two. Despite this, the interests of the state and the demands of the world revolution regularly collided giving rise to inter-state tensions - the Soviet-Yugoslavia schism in 1948; the Sino-Soviet dispute of the 1960s - and other splits within the Communist movement accompanied by mutual recriminations.

The Chinese revolution, like the Russian revolution before it, is a good example of the strengths and problems derived from the international solidarity of the Communist movement. There were moments during the 1930s when virtually every component of the international Communist movement became involved in the revolutionary effort in China. External support was of obvious assistance to the cause of the CPC. But, it was also the source of some of the worst reverses the CPC suffered, fuelling a deep distrust of the Comintern and the Soviet leadership who had come to dominate its councils and executive organs after 1930.

M.N. Roy`s mission to China in 1924 was the first amongst many undertaken by the Comintern. Each new effort, unfortunately, proved more disastrous than the previous one. A dogmatic lack of appreciation of Chinese realities among the Comintern emissaries - Roy, Michael Borodin, Heinz Neumann, Otto Braun (Li Teh), Pavel Mif - proved extremely costly. The strategic and tactical errors inspired by them led to the virtual destruction of the labour movement, particularly its Communist component, in the coastal cities, and compelled the CPC to rely on its bases in the countryside in order to survive.

Even in its rural base areas, the policy of self-reliance adopted by the Party leadership after the Zunyi conference (1935) notwithstanding, the Communist Party of China could still benefit from the solidarity of the international movement. A contingent of Indian doctors was attached to the Eighth Route Army after 1937; the Canadian surgeon, Norman Bethune, died while tending guerillas in north-western China; Agnes Smedley and her associates were vital links in the Communist underground operating in the Kuomintang controlled cities and towns of the coastline.

What Liu Shaoqi referred to as the "Signification of Marxism" in 1942 was both a reaction to past defeats and an attempt to creatively apply the universal principles of Marxism to the particular circumstances of Chinese Communism after the CPC had been driven out of the cities.

The CPC and the Yenan Tradition.

A number of writers have commented unfavourably about the rate of attrition in the parties comprising the international Communist movement between 1919 and the mid 1930`s; and the mid 1930`s and the mid `50s. Helmut Gruber, for example, points out that by 1928, almost without exception, the leadership core of every Communist Party in the world had undergone a drastic overhaul of its founding membership. Others have remarked that even the growth spurt of the 1930s, in response to the anti-fascist struggle, was answered by the massive ex-flux of the mid-1950s.

The CPC seems to have been the exception to this pattern. There is a remarkable continuity in the leading cadre of the CPC after 1921. Despite the hard fought internal party struggles, the losing side in such disputes was not victimised, let alone executed. Thus, for example, Li Li-san, the CPC leader associated with its post-1928 "left" policies, remained a leading member of the CPC until his death in the 1950s. Equally, Wang Ming and his associates, the proteges of the Comintern adviser Pavel Mif, retained their positions in the leadership after their policies were repudiated. With the exception of Zhang Kuotao, who left the CPC, then emigrated from China after his political rout, the CPC retained the services of ousted party leaders. The inner-party ethos of the CPC thus differed radically from that of the CPSU and the CPs of eastern Europe where political defeat was usually followed by imprisonment, at best, or physical demise, at worst.

Consequently among those who shared the platform at Tienanmien Square with Mao on 1 October 1949 were comrades who had been members of the CPC since its founding meeting in Shanghai; who had been in the mountains with Mao and Zhu during the 1920s; who were survivors of the Long March as well as the veterans of the urban underground. Steeled by decades of shared adversity, the CPC Mao led to victory seemed to have mastered the ability to differ sharply among themselves, yet unite around an agreed course of action. Deng Xiaoping and others who fell from grace during the 1950s, 60s and `70s lived to fight another day thanks to such traditions.

The CPC succeeded because it had successfully combined the various strands of revolt present in a disintegrating semi-colonial society. The military campaigns waged by the Communists coincided with and inspired a massive revolutionary tide in the Chinese countryside which swept away the ancient rural gentry. A ruling class that had held power for well nigh two millennia, severely battered by western and Japanese imperialism, was literally stripped of its power and compelled to concede defeat by the common people.

The emergent urban bourgeoisie, nationalist and comprador alike, had been unable and unwilling to harness the deeply felt anger of the peasantry against the gentry. Under the leadership of Zhiang Kai-shek`s Kuomintang, the Chinese bourgeoisie had tried to emulate its German and Japanese counterparts - i.e. to initiate a constrained "revolution from above", which would sanctify the rights of property while trying to devise a new ruling bloc through an amalgamation of the feudal and modern propertied classes. The Kuomintang project required an accommodation with western imperialism for its success, placing even greater limits on the ability of the urban bourgeoisie to mobilise nationalist hostility towards western encroachments on China`s sovereignty. In the face of Japanese aggression the Kuomintang proved incapable of formulating either an effective policy of national defence or marshalling the diplomatic isolation of Japan. It foolishly treated an indigenous Communist movement as its principal enemy, and thus surrendered the banner of patriotism to the Communists.

The Communist Party, representing a class with no stake in property-ownership, was able to rally nationalist sentiment among the middle strata and the class hostility of the rural poor and thus provide leadership to their revolt.

The Japanese invasion of China (1931) offered new opportunities to the Communist insurgents. Though they had been compelled to retreat deep into the hinterland in 1935, within four years the Communists had re-established themselves as an alternative centre of authority for the Chinese nation by demonstrably being the most consistent defenders of China`s national sovereignty while the Kuomintang dithered. It was the capacity of the Communists to merge defence of the nation with the social revolution in the countryside that enabled them to defeat the Kuomintang in 1949. According to Mao, the CPC confirmed that the social revolution was essential to the defence of China`s sovereignty.

The revolutionary base areas, where the CPC held sway, were more than mere pieces of land. They represented a form of territorialised dual power, in which the Communists proved not only their ability to govern but also to out-administer both the bourgeoisie and the old gentry. The truly subversive dimension of these activities was that they elevated the Communist cadreship, drawn from rural youth, radical scholars and urban workers to positions of authority and power.

The psycho-drama played out by the advancing Communist guerillas in the villages during the late 1940s - inciting the peasants to "speak their bitterness" and sometimes to "eat the landlords flesh" - exceeded symbolic expressions of the conquest of power. These were also rituals of de-legitimation, telling landlord and peasant, old gentry and commoner alike that the old ruling classes had lost the "mandate from heaven." That mandate had passed to those with the least status in the old society - the poor peasants, the women, young people, the rebellious scholars and the working class from the urban areas. This emergent revolutionary elite had earned its mandate by devising the strategy to address the aspirations of the rural poor, the middle peasants, the urban middle classes and other strata of the humiliated Chinese nation. The legitimacy of the Communist-led government that took office in Beijing in 1949 was not in doubt among the majority of Chinese. The Kuomintang`s flight to Taiwan was necessitated by military defeat but also because so few citizens accepted its authority.

The Class Character of the Chinese Revolution.

Karl Marx, in a little known article in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, made some suggestive comments about 19th century developments in China. The Taiping Rebellion during the mid-nineteenth century, unlike India`s First War of Independence ("the Indian Mutiny") which occurred around the same time, had a number of interesting features. A German missionary recently returned from China, Marx noted , was dismayed on encountering European socialists to hear the same egalitarian agitation he had heard conducted by the Taipings and their supporters in China . Amused by this turn of events, Marx remarked that classical Chinese dialectics bore the same relation to Chinese proto -communism as Hegelian dialectics to modern socialism. He went on to pose the question: considering that the latter (Hegelian dialectics) had given birth to Marxian socialism, was it not possible that the former (Classical Chinese dialectics) could also produce a variant of socialism independently of Europe?

The international Communist Movement, which grew out of the left-wing of the moribund Second International, was the first actual attempt to create an international in more than name. Unlike its predecessors, the Comintern reached out and indeed won the support of working class militants in all six continents. The best explanation for this achievement might be in Ho Chi Minh`s recounting of the Tours Congress of the French Socialist Party. Ho later recalled that at Tours he had inquired:

"Which International supports the struggles of the colonial peoples?"

The answer, "...the Third International, not the Second!" decided him in favour of the Comitern.

E.J. Hobsbawm once noted that the international Communist movement (in the broadest sense of that term) evolved as the coalescence between indigenous left political traditions/currents and the experience of the Bolshevik revolution. Marxism in China bears the hallmarks of a fusion between indigenous traditions of peasant radicalism, left-wing intellectual currents - Taoism being a case in point - and modern revolutionary practice, deriving directly from the Bolshevik experience. As the CPC leadership proudly announced on more than one occasion, it was the "salvoes of the October Revolution" that inspired Communism in China.

The Communist Party of China, like the SACP, was founded in July 1921. Its founding meeting was held in Shanghai and was attended by some twenty delegates, including a representative of the Comintern, Henricus Sneevliet. At the same time a number of Chinse students studying in western Europe, were drawn into Marxist study circles or were recruited into local Communist Parties. For example Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai, then students in France embraced Marxism and joined the newly founded Communist Party of France while employed in the outskirts of Paris.It was in that milieu that they were introduced to a Vietnamese patriot and active Communist, named Nguyen Ai Quoc, better known later in life as Ho Chi Minh. They also became active in the Socialist Youth League of China, a body of Chinese students and workers in western Europe.

From its inception the CPC was marked by a strong anti-tradionalist mood, reflective of the iconoclastic modernism then prevalent among China`s radical intelligentsia, Communist and non-Communist. Basing itself first in the coastal cities, then on the mines in the north and the interior, the CPC was able to inspire a number of stirring class struggles within the first few years of its existence. The largest of these was the Hong Kong stevedores strike in 1922.

In 1923 it entered an alliance with the Kuomintang (KMT- the National movement),then under the leadership of Sun Yat-sen, to wage a national struggle to free China from its semi-colonial status. CPC cadres distinguished themselves especially in the national army, led by Zhiang Kai-shek, and in the KMT`s department for peasant affairs. The KMT and CPC jointly launched the Northern Expedition, into the Yangzte River valley from their base in Canton. The advancing national army stimulated peasant risings and workers` strikes. In a number of instances the gates of cities were thrown open to it by working class leaders who had seized the city in anticipation of its arrival.

After Sun`s death in 1925, the right wing of the KMT became dominant within the movement. When the Northern Expedition reached Shanghai in 1927, Zhiang Kai-shek turned on the CPC. With the support of the underworld he massacred its members and supporters. (These events are retold in gruesome detail in Andre Malraux`s novel, "Man`s Fate" ). The Shanghai massacre marked not only the end of the alliance but also the commencement of the dismantling of the CPC`s urban working class base. Though pockets of underground units in the cities managed to survive the rightist repression that followed and the CPC was able to rally a few of the left wing elements in the KMT, when these too capitulated to Zhiang it was forced to rely on its own resources.

The rightists repression that descended on the CPC after 1927 was in large measure attributable to the policy thrust encouraged by the Comintern and its representatives in China. Chinese Marxists had characterised the revolution as bourgeois democratic and correctly designated the working class and the peasantry as the principal agents of that revolution. The Comintern, with little appreciation of the complex character of the various classes, dogmatically insisted that this implied that the CPC should submit to the leadership of the KMT as the political representative of the Chinese bourgeoisie. Zhiang Kaishek brutally demonstrated that the leading fraction of the bourgeoisie sought not merely the submission of the CPC, but its destruction and the crushing of any working class aspirations to power.

Roy and Borodin, the two representatives associated with this policy were recalled and Chen Duxiu, the founding leader of the CPC, was removed from office. After a few years in the political wilderness, Chen subsequently left the CPC and adhered to the Left Opposition led by Leon Trotsky.

The response of the Comintern to the disaster in Shanghai was to adopt a "left" opportunist line. Since the KMT had proved treacherous, the Comintern argued, the task of the CPC was to assume leadership of the national revolution, virtually to the exclusion of other class forces. The CPC thus established its own army, the Red Army, made up of those regiments of the national army it won over complimented by new units established under its own banner. Insurrectionary tactics, to seize control of key cities were an important dimension of this "left" strategy. Thus after 1928 Red Army units assisted and spurred on by representatives of the Comintern mounted one abortive urban insurrection after another. The most tragic of these was the Canton Commune of 1928, inspired by Heinz Neumann, a German military expert from the Comitern. After galvanising the Cantonese working class into an uprising, Neumann and his comrades established a "proletarian government" along the lines of the Paris Commune.

But the city was easily isolated from the surrounding countryside by the KMT`s forces. After about three days of street fighting on the barricades, the defenders of the Commune were defeated and literally thousands were then massacred by Zhiang Kaishek`s army. In related attempts, units of the Red Army tried to capture small towns and cities in the interior from without. Such attempts were even more disastrous. Apart from the trained fighters lost in the assaults, any urban working class and trade union activists suspected of supporting the CPC were ferreted out tortured, imprisoned or executed by the KMT. Li Lisan, a trade unionists who assumed leadership of the party with Comintern support, was held responsible for these failures and removed from office.

The CPC had established itself as a predominantly peasant based movement, with its own army, operating in the mountains between the Hunan and Kiangsi provinces in central China. Here it established a quasi-government, administering a number of counties under its military control. The sorrows of the CPC did not end with Li Lisan`s removal. Under the guidance of another Comintern representative, Pavel Mif, 28 graduates from the Lenin School in Moscow were foisted on the CPC as its leadership core. This group, led by Wang Ming, variously referred to as the "28 Bolsheviks" or "the Returned Students Faction" were later held responsible for the near destruction of the CPC`s rural bases in the Hunan-Kiangsi border region. Pursuing what they regarded as "bolshevik tactics" Wang Ming and his followers succeeded in isolating the CPC from crucial elements among the Chinese peasantry. Their military tactics played into the hands of the materially superior KMT forces, leading to the setbacks that compelled the CPC to undertake its Long March.

In 1935 CPC guerrillas were compelled to retreat even deeper into the interior by undertaking their famous Long March. On reaching Yanan, the CPC was able to regroup its forces and commence its slow but steady climb to power. From 1927 until 1949 the CPC was effectively cut off from the Chinese working class. Though it identified itself as "the party of the working class", if the truth be told, there were no organic links between the CPC and the Chinese working class. The CPC was its representative only in the sense that it assumed the mantle of custodian of the working class`s revolutionary vocation. It could be said that the CPC had substituted itself for the working class. Eight years after the founding of the PRC, a CPC census of its membership revealed that of its 12.7 million members, only 1.7 million were workers, while 8.5 million were peasants, 1.8 million were intellectuals and the remainder came from other strata.

The Communists in China attained power as a result of a peasant war, during which the CPC, founded and led by Marxist intellectuals, was able to give leadership to insurgent peasants and other class forces.

In terms of its official history, the CPC came to power in 1949 at the head of a bloc of four classes - the working class, the peasantry, the petit bourgeoisie and the patriotic bourgeoisie. The flag the new state adopted, a Red Flag, with a cluster of four golden stars, orbiting around a larger fifth star in the left hand upper corner, is the graphic representation of this arrangement - the four classes under the leadership of the Comminist Party. The political representatives of these allied class forces were granted a role in the government, in the National Peoples Congress (parliament) and in public life. Ekleven of the twenty five ministers appointed in 1949 were non-Communists, as were three of the six vice chairpersons of the PRC. Soong Ching-ling, Dr Sun Yat-sen`s widow and a leader of the Revolutionary Koumintang served as Deputy President of China from 1949 until her death.

The petit bourgeoisie and its intelligentsia as a stratum possessed of scarce skills was invariably granted a role in setting up an administration and in staffing the civil service. The cadres whom the CPC had built up and trained during the two decades of revolutionary civil war were also widely deployed, especially in those parts of that country that fell into the Communists` hands after 1947. The CPC was far less dependent on remnants of the old regime than the Bolsheviks in the 1920s.

The CPC was committed to the sweeping social transformation the revolution had promised. Victory offered the party the opportunity to unify mainland China for the first time in more than a century.The task facing the victorious Chinese Communists after 1949 was to translate the conquest of political power into meaningful developmental programmes that would stabilise China in the first instance then gradually bring her economy abreast of the developed countries while socially uplifting its ordinary citizens from centuries of grinding poverty .

It is against this backdrop that I want to examine the quality of life of the working classes and other working people in the People`s Republic of China between 1949 and 1999 w


Morality is relevant to economic policy

Review of the Southern African Catholic Bishops` Conference pastoral
statement, "Economic Justice in South Africa"

By Jeremy Cronin (SACP deputy general secretary and ANC MP)

Last year, US president Bill Clinton had some uncharitable advice for the Russian Duma (parliament) in the midst of an economic crisis in that country. "The laws of the international economy are like gravity," he warned, "you cannot defy them." Clinton had, of course, flown in an aeroplane to Moscow, suggesting that we are not quite as much the victims (even of gravity), as the president wished to imply.

But his message was clear. There is one global way of building an economy. It has nothing to do with human volition or responsibility - we can try defiance, but for that the "natural" laws of the world economy will punish us.

Clinton`s message is typical of the globally dominant approach to economic policy, and you will frequently find this Bad News gospel being spread in our country too. It is in this context that the urgent relevance of the Southern African Catholic Bishops` Conference pastoral statement, "Economic Justice in South Africa", should be understood and appreciated.

"We are told", the pastoral statement wryly notes, "that `capital is leaving the country` when what is really happening is that people with money are deciding to invest it overseas; we hear the `the market is worried` about interest rates when it is actually people who have money to invest, or who need to borrow money, who are worried"

This prevailing "market idolatry", as the Statement aptly calls it, removes human agency and morality from any discussion of the economy. But it is precisely economic justice that the Pastoral Statement insists on putting squarely back upon the agenda. Poverty, gross inequality, unemployment, greed, environmental degradation, economic discrimination against women - these are not unavoidable realities for which none of us has any responsibility.

The need to reaffirm these things is desperately urgent. Of course, we then need to begin to advance concrete programmes and policies that are both practical and guided by a vision of economic justice. It is here, I suspect, that the sceptics will smirk at the Pastoral Statement. "Worthy ideas", they will say (as they so often say to me of communist ideals), "but it is all hopelessly impractical."

Chapter 8 of the Statement ("What can be done?") begins to rebut this scepticism. It calls for a state that is prepared to intervene actively, especially where welfare and economic failure is concerned. It is critical of government`s Growth Employment and Redistribution macro-economic policy for being overly rigid in terms of some targets, budget deficit and inflation reduction, and completely silent on others. "No target was set for the redistribution of wealth, even though this is given prominence in the title of the programme." The chapter calls for a still more progressive tax regime, and for circumspection about privatisation (it can lead to higher costs for the poor and to job losses). It supports active legislative measures to redress past discrimination, and it calls on business to look more energetically at labour intensive investment. These are some of the important and constructive points the document makes. They may still be general pointers, but they certainly lay the basis for an ongoing public discussion of our economy.

There are issues with which I find myself in disagreement. Having, at one point, defined unemployment as an evil, at another point the Statement makes the unnecessary concession that "it is true that no economy is able to assure sustained full employment". This view falls into the "pessimistic inevitability" perspective so well critiqued earlier. Pre-capitalist societies had full employment. And, indeed, what is "work"? - the document could be more thoughtful about that vast and largely invisible domain of unpaid, reproductive work in modern societies - child rearing, the care for the old and sick, shopping. It is a domain of labour that is largely borne by women.

There are also moments when the document`s understandable concern not to be too "ideological" lands it in prevarication. At one point we are told that "of course the option for the poor is not an option against the rich". A few pages later we are reminded, correctly, that in South Africa, in particular, "the rich are rich because the poor are poor". Is it possible to reconcile these views?

But I am anticipating the public debate that, I hope, this important Pastoral Statement will help to provoke widely throughout our society.


Local Government Demarcation and Traditional Leadership (TL)

An SACP Discussion Document


Sections of the Traditional Leadership (TLs), particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, are vigorously opposing the re-drawing of municipal boundaries and the establishment of primary municipalities in Traditional Authority (TA) areas. As part of the discussion on how to respond to this, the recent KZN SACP PEC Bosberaad considered the issues raised here, and offer this paper for wider debate.

Nothing New in the TLs case.

All the issues currently being raised by the TLs have been raised before and have been responded to by the movement - CODESA, Multi-Party Negotiating Forum, Constitutional Assembly process, White Paper on Local Government, Demarcation Bill hearings, Municipal Structures Bill hearings. So there`s nothing new in their arguments. Basically there is a political agenda at issue here.

ANC and Alliance Policy

The framework for the current legislation is provided by the policies that emerged through the processes discussed in 2 above. The 1997 Mafeking Conference resolution is also relevant.

Wall-to-Wall Primary Municipalities

The TLs are opposed to primary municipalities in TA areas or they want TA authority areas themselves to be regarded as primary municipalities:

  • The Constitution requires primary local municipalities (category Bs) to be established throughout the country. To concede to the TLs demands will require a change to the Constitution.
  • Why should people from TA areas be excluded from the resources and development possibilities that primary municipalities can bring?
  • To constantly attack Mike Sutcliffe and the Demarcation Board is not helpful- they are merely implementing the Constitution and legislation.

Powers and Functions

It`s not true that the powers and functions of TLs will be automatically taken over by primary municipalities:

  • At his State of the Nation address to parliament, Comrade President Mbeki said: "Once again I would like to assure our traditional leaders.. that the demarcation process bears no relationship whatsoever to, and has no negative impact on, their role and power"
  • In practice, a municipality will exercise its powers and functions in a way that takes account of the role of TLs, given the valuable role they can play.
  • In terms of the Municipal Structures Act (MSA), municipalities have to give traditional leaders a say on matters affecting their areas.

Local Government and the Land Question

It`s not true that the demarcation will automatically mean that municipalities will take over communally-owned land under control of TLs:

  • The Demarcation Board is demarcating municipal administrative systems and not land.
  • Municipalities do not have legal ownership of the land.
  • The land question is being dealt with by the Department of Land and the national government, not municipalities.

However, there needs to be further discussion about how municipalities will relate to the land controlled by TLs, as land use-planning is a major function of municipalities.

  • In any case, to devise Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) consultation is necessary with widest range of stakeholders, and so TLs can have a significant say.

TA Areas and Rates

It`s not true that rates will be unilaterally applied to TA areas.

  • TA areas are communally owned - yet to apply rates property has to be privately owned.
  • To apply rates land has to be surveyed - and this will take very long.
  • The pending Property Rates Bill also makes provision for exempting those owning property and/or earning below a certain amount from paying rates.
  • Any application for rates will have to entail consultation with TLs.

Customary/Tribal Courts

It`s not true that the setting up of primary municipalities in TA areas will lead to the undermining of customary/tribal courts:

  • Municipalities do not have powers and functions dealing with customary law.
  • Matters related to customary law are dealt with by the Department of Justice and the national government.
  • Comrade President Mbeki has asked Comrade Penuell Maduna to write to the TLs to inform them that their powers in respect of customary law will not be eroded by the establishment of primary municipalities.

Customs and Traditions

It`s not true that the traditions and customs of people living in the TA areas will be undermined by the setting up of primary municipalities:

  • Municipalities do not have powers and functions to alter the customs and traditions of people.
  • If there is not significant development of the TA areas because they are excluded from being part of primary municipalities, people will gravitate to the cities anyway, thereby being exposed to a more "non-traditional" culture.

TL Representation on Municipal Councils

Unlike the present system, with the new model of local government to come into effect after the next local government elections, TLs will not have voting rights in the municipal councils and can constitute no more than 10% of the councillors. However:

  • On issues affecting TA areas, the MSA requires municipalities to consider the views of the relevant TLs.
  • The MSA provides some flexibility on TLs for MECs, after consulting the provincial Houses of TLs, to "regulate the participation of traditional leaders in the proceedings of a municipal council "and prescribe a role for the traditional leaders in the affairs of a municipality"

Loss of Power, Patronage and Resources

TLs are obviously worried that they will suffer a loss of power and capacity for patronage and access to resources. They are concerned about the loss of salaries and allowances as ex-officio members of municipal councils. Some of them are raising a whole series of wider issues about claims to land, the centrality of traditional leadership to the national question, a review of issues already fully addressed in the 1990-1996 negotiation process, and so on. There is a highly political agenda at issue in these claims.

  • Some of these losses are inevitable given the nature of our changing democracy, but others of the TLs` concerns can be addressed amicably.
  • There is a need to draw a distinction between some of the need of TLs and the people who live in these areas - the poor who live in these areas will have much to gain from the establishment of primary municipalities.
  • The broader issues raised need to be addressed through further political negotiations - and are not relevant to the immediate establishment of primary municipalities

Addressing the Concerns of TLs

  • Since 1994 much has been done to improve the position of TLs, including the establishment of the provincial and national Houses of TLs, rationalising and improving their salaries, and providing a broad national framework for their role. More is planned. There are Green and White Papers and legislation pending. The implementation of our rural development strategy is also important in this regard.
  • As the Tripartite Alliance we need to develop and fine-tune our approach to the role of TLs in our new national democracy - and it is within this context that we have to address the TLs concerns about municipalities.
  • Importantly, the concerns of TLs cannot be properly addressed outside of the context of the peace process and the coalition government in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • There are sensitive negotiations underway involving the Presidency, Comrade Sydney Mufamadi and the TLs. The Comrade President is also going to meet TLs around the country.
  • Obviously the approach of the Tripartite Alliance to the concerns of the TLs must take account of the progressive role that TLs can play in local government issues, the support they command in parts of the country, the need to ensure the success of the local government elections and the implementation of the new model of local government, and the sensitive ANC-IFP negotiations. But clearly there is no choice but to establish primary local authorities in TA areas.
  • For the SACP, beyond identifying with the overall approach of the Tripartite Alliance to TLs, we also need to develop a specifically class perspective on TLs. We need to begin a long-overdue discussion on this subject.