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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 10, No. 3, 2 February 2011

In this Issue:


Red Alert

The Cuban Revolution in its 52nd anniversary: An inspiration to humanity

Blade Nzimande, General Secretary

On the eve of 31 December 2008, and into the 1st January 2009, I had the honour of being in Cuba representing the SACP, and celebrated, together with the heroic Cuban people, the 50th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban revolution over the US backed Batista dictatorship.

For the first time last week I visited Cuba in my deployment as Minister of Higher Education and Training, and this time got even a deeper insight into the achievements of the Cuban revolution in the field of higher education particular.

Indeed during this visit, sections of the print media, in blatant collaboration with the DA, and other elements aggrieved by the deepening relations between South Africa and Cuba, went on yet another offensive against both the SACP and the Department of Higher Education and Training, as if the latter two were the same. From late last year, using faceless, personally aggrieved sources and anti-communist sympathizers, the media concocted lies about my planned visit to Cuba. At the heart of these lies is an ideological agenda aimed at casting aspersions on the role of communists in government, but most significantly an attempt to try and rubbish the relations between South Africa and Cuba.

The Mail and Guardian went for the bait and, in the process, it has become the most useful tool of this anti-communist, reactionary propaganda against Cuba and the South African Communist Party, particularly its venomous and reactionary offensive to try and undermine the longstanding relationship between Cuba and South Africa.

For a long time now, the Mail and Guardian, posing as a progressive newspaper, is increasingly becoming marginal, and nothing more than a useful tool in the hands of the conservative liberals in their struggle to discredit the ANC-led alliance and our democracy, especially the role of the SACP in the struggle for the reconstruction and development of our country. It is for this reason that it is increasingly becoming irrelevant in the broader debates about the current and future direction in our country, and instead has become a newsletter for dinner table, cynical and oppositionist gossip by a minority (and often racialised) elite! So blinded is this tabloid by its (racialised) elitism that they even think some government ministers` overseas trips have to be approved by directors-general, instead of the President!

The SACP will however not be distracted by all these in its principled struggle towards a better life for the overwhelming majority of our people, the majority of whom do not even read or get disturbed by the `opinions` of mainstream print media. It is for this reason that we must continue to learn from countries like Cuba about alternative possibilities to advance a human development agenda liberated from the barbarism of capitalism and its media outlets.

Yes, the SACP is for media freedom, given its long history of struggle for a free media under apartheid colonialism. In the process we are proud that we produced some great journalists and writers, including Govan Mbeki, Brian Bunting, Ruth First, Alex la Guma, Mzala Nxumalo, to mention but a few. But surely media freedom does not mean freedom to fabricate lies and defame public figures!

The Cuban revolution will this year be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the defeat of the US sponsored `Bay of Pigs` counter-revolutionary invasion of a newly liberated Cuba, whose immediate aftermath led to the formal declaration of Cuba as socialist country. In other words, imperialist attempts to defeat a heroic people`s revolution against dictatorship produced its opposite, a socialist Cuba.

It is commitment to a socialist path that Cuba has achieved what many countries, including some of the developed capitalist countries have never achieved. At the victory of the Cuban revolution in 1959, there were only three universities, but by 2010 Cuba had 69 universities, with a university campus in all their municipalities. All this provided through free education from kindergaten to PhD qualifications in universities. During the same period, a population of only 11 million, has produced over one million university graduates.

One critical lesson from the Cuban revolution is the necessity for dedicated and focused investment on people through the rolling back of the capitalist market which tends to see education and training as a commodity rather than a social and developmental good!

Driven by values of solidarity the Cubans also played no small part in the defeat of the apartheid regime in Angola thus laying the foundation for the liberation of Namibia and South Africa. It is indeed a shame that some of South Africa`s liberals (by the way many of whom willingly served in the apartheid army and its war against the majority of South - and Southern - Africa`s people) have forgotten that some of the freedoms they enjoy today came from this supreme sacrifice by the Cuban people.

Cuba has, since 1994, trained hundreds of black South African doctors, many of whom are now serving our people in the deepest of rural areas where many of our South African trained doctors dare not go. In fact thousands of Cuban professionals, in a variety of fields, are to be found in some of the poorest countries of the world, in South Africa, in Venezuela, in Bolivia, in Ghana, Haiti, to name but just a few.

However, all the above achievements of the Cuban revolution, have not blinded the Cuban people from some of the weaknesses and shortcomings in their own revolution. It is because of this that Cuba is currently undergoing a programme of revitalization of its economy. Nevertheless the single biggest culprit for Cuba`s problems today is not its socialist path, but the illegal and criminal blockade by the United States against this small island of 11 million heroic people. Otherwise why would the US continue with this blockade if socialism in Cuba is inherently a failure? Why is the blockade not lifted in order to test whether Cuba`s socialism is inherently a failure? The answer is simple, without the blockade Cuba would have made even more advances for the benefit of its peoples!

Incidentally the above also begs the question as to why today there are people`s revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and of late Jordan? Some of these revolts in countries which for years have been backed by US imperialism, and paraded as models of successful experiments of neo-liberalism in the developing world, are in fact the conclusive proof that the neo-liberal idea has not only failed, but that it is in deep crisis! We shall however return to these developments in the forthcoming editions of Umsebenzi online, as we continue to reflect on why socialism is the only best alternative to the current barbarism of capitalism!

We dare South Africa`s capitalist print media to reprint this edition of Umsebenzi, in the interests of freedom of expression and a supposedly democratic South African media!


Contact Mhlekwa Nxumalo at 011-339 3621/2(office hours) or
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