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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 10, No.8, 13 April 2011

In this Issue:


Red Alert

Intensify the ideological offensive to consolidate working class power in society: The Chris Hani 2011 Memorial Lecture

By Blade Nzimande


On behalf of the SACP, I wish to express our profound thanks and appreciation to the Ekurhuleni Municipality for having initiated and institutionalized this annual lecture in honour and memory of the son of the soil, a man from Cofimvaba, a resident of Boksburg, a revolutionary and a communist till the end - Martin Thembisile ‘Chris` Hani, our late General Secretary and esteemed leader of the African National Congress.

It is our sincere hope that the Ekurhuleni Metro will continue to host this lecture, not only in memory of Chris Hani the man, but as part of the preservation of some of the dearest of the revolutionary values of our movement and the national liberation struggle as a whole.

Today I would like to focus this lecture on some of the dangers facing our revolution, and how Chris Hani, as far back as the 1960s had, in many ways, foreseen these dangers in the conduct of some within the ranks of the liberation movement at that time. I would like to talk about two principal tendencies that threaten to roll back, and, if given a chance, defeat our revolution and its objectives as fought for by, amongst others, Chris Hani. These are:

  1. The new tendency including tenderpreneurship and the general danger of business interests within our broad movement overrunning and defeating the revolution
  2. The anti-majoritarian liberal tendency

Although they differ somewhat in character and strategy, these tendencies have the potential to converge, as both have in common a hostility to our revolutionary congress traditions and the objective of consolidating elite accumulation.

Be like Chris Hani - confront and defeat the new tendency, tenderpreneurship and escalate the struggle against corruption

Let me begin by going back to a matter that has not received adequate attention within the ranks of our movement, yet it is a telling story about bravery, forthrightness, care and dedication to the movement and the revolution. This is a memorandum written by Chris Hani and six other comrades in the camps in exile to the leadership of the ANC in 1967.

Allow me to quote extensively from this memorandum:

"The ANC and its allies created Umkhonto as a new and indispensable weapon in the struggle for people`s power. Unlike the armed forces of the racist regime of South Africa, which we have vowed to crush and annihilate, and unlike other armies of imperialism, Umkhonto we Sizwe is a People`s Army organised and dedicated to waging a people`s war for the liberation of our country.

"There has never been an attempt o to send the leadership inside the country since the Rivonia arrests. There has been an overconcentration of people in offices - this has become a fully fledged activity in itself, for example, you get a Director of Youth who maintains no liaison with the home front. There are other departments such as the Treasury Department which is to all intents and purposes catering for activities outside, and whose functioning is limited and known only to a few individuals.

"We are perturbed by the careerism of the ANC leadership abroad who have, in every sense, become professional politicians rather than professional revolutionaries. We have been forced to draw the conclusion that the payment of salaries to people working in offices is very detrimental to the revolutionary outlook of those who receive such monies. It is without doubt that such payments corrupt cadres at any level and have the effect of making people perform their duties... because of money inducement rather than dedication to the cause.

"The leadership of the ANC abroad must be committed to a resolution and programme of going home to lead the struggle there, which resolution and programme must be seen to be implemented. Presently there is a leadership vacuum at home as all the leaders are either locked up in Vorster`s prisons or are in exile… A situation where our people, because of this vacuum, will be received by opportunists of all shades …

"There are certain symptoms which are very disturbing and dispiriting to genuine revolutionaries. These comprise the opening of mysterious business enterprises which to our knowledge have never been discussed by the membership of the organization. For instance, in Lusaka a furniture industry is being run by the ANC. In Livingstone a bone factory whose original purpose was to provide cover for underground work in Botswana, is now being used as a purely commercial undertaking. As a result of these enterprises more and more MK men are being diverted to them. And some of the people in charge of these enterprises are dubious characters with shady political backgrounds. We are therefore compelled to conclude that there is no serious drive to return home and carry on the struggle…

"It is very alarming that double standards as regards to the health of the members of the organization are maintained. Whenever leaders are sick arrangements are made for them to receive excellent medical attention without delay but this sort of concern is hardly shown to the rank and file of the movement. We maintain that all of us are important in so far as the revolution is concerned and should thus be accorded the same treatment.

" We consider the youth in MK as the most revolutionary. We strongly feel that we should be consulted on matters affecting the youth. For instance we must be informed about the revolutionary international youth gatherings and we should be given priority in the sending of delegates. The farce of the Bulgaria ANC Youth delegation should never be repeated and those responsible should acknowledge the mistake they made. The youth of South Africa is not located in London or in any other European capital. We therefore take particular exception to the appointment of certain students as leaders of the ANC Youth.

"Another disturbing symptom is the glaring practice of nepotism where the leadership uses its positions to promote their kith and kin and put them in positions where they will not be any physical confrontation with the enemy. The sending of virtually all the sons of the leaders to universities in Europe is a sign that these people are being groomed for leadership positions after the MK cadres have overthrown the fascists. We have no doubt that these people will wait in Europe and will just come home when everything has been made secure and comfortable for them, playing the typical role of the Bandas and others.

"In conclusion, all these problems must be resolved by a conference between the ANC leadership and members of MK, and not just handpicked individuals"

This memorandum to the leadership of the ANC by Cde Chris and other comrades, you will agree with me, was indeed very brave and forthright. Incidentally this led to the detention of Cde Chris in the camps of the ANC in exile, only to be later released at the instruction of senior leadership. This memorandum also speaks about all the evils that we still have to defeat today; business interests and political office, opportunism, patronage, and down right corrupt practices.

It was this memorandum that directly led to the convening of the historic Morogoro conference in 1969. Indeed there are a number of observations that one can make out of this memo. Perhaps the most important one is that in our own liberation movement there has always been a tenderpreneurial and elitist tendency, albeit initially very tiny - a reality in all broad liberation movements like ours - but most importantly this illustrates the triumph of the revolutionary morality of our movement over the politics of money, elitism and tenderpreneurship. Thanks to the existence and boldness of the likes of Chris Hani in our movement.

The single biggest threat facing our revolution today is the danger of tenderpreneurs encircling our movement like vultures to try and take over this glorious movement of Chris Hani, Oliver Tambo, Moses Kotane, Nelson Mandela, Dora Tamana, Ray Alexander, Mzala Nxumalo and many others, not to serve our people, but to enrich themselves at the direct expense of the overwhelming majority of our people. What we are seeing today is however not a new thing. But like Chris Hani and other principled revolutionaries did then, we must also call upon all true and genuine cadres of our movement to join hands to expose and defeat tenderpreneurs and the new tendency in our movement.

We must therefore use the forthcoming local government election to say no to this tendency (and other related tendencies), and, once and for all, reclaim our movement so that it remains true to the revolutionary traditions of Chris Hani.

In memory and in honour of Cde Chris Hani, we are calling upon all revolutionaries within the length and breadth of our movement - from the ranks of MKMVA, the ANC, the SACP, COSATU, SANCO, the ANC WL, ANC Youth League, the YCL , and from all progressive sections of our society to unite against tenderpreneurs and to defeat the scourge of corruption throughout all of society!

The above calls for an all-round intensification of our struggle against all forms of corruption, both inside and outside the ranks of our movement. We must mobilize the workers and our communities to expose this scourge wherever it occurs, and irrespective of who is involved.

The anti-majoritarian (neo) liberal offensive

The SACP has consistently been raising the matter of the growing arrogance and strident nature of the liberal offensive against the majoritarian character of our democracy. Not only is this offensive pushed by the likes of the DA, but its principal ideological platform and mouthpiece is South Africa`s mainstream print media. In reality South Africa`s print media is not only extremely negative in its criticism of government, the ANC and the Alliance, but has in essence taken the mantle of being THE opposition to the ruling party and government.

And this also serves to reinforce and legitimize the neo-liberal agenda whose ideological posture and confidence is currently in a severe crisis. In fact this liberal agenda is completely silent on the destruction brought onto the world globally and in individual countries by its crises. Instead it seeks to project the ANC, the government it leads, and its allies, as its main enemy and also seeks to undermine the position of the ANC as a ruling party; a position it has achieved through legitimate democratic elections.

Where the liberal opposition is unable to win elections, it seeks to undermine the credibility of the ruling party and the institutions it has created to advance democracy, and essentially to undermine, in the name of liberal democracy, the interests of the majority of our people, the workers and the poor of our country. It seeks to rule from the grave, and from the opposition benches!

This liberal offensive is in many ways also seeking to appropriate our hard won democracy to serve its agenda of undermining the majoritarian character of our democracy, underpinned by creating an impression of an (‘inherently`) corrupt ANC and government, in which our sole responsibility is to prove ourselves innocent, especially to some superior white ‘masters` (and racists), many of whom happen to sit in the opposition benches in parliament.

In fact, the essence of this liberal offensive, is not different from that of neo-liberalism, that of minimizing the role of the state in serving the interests of the workers and the poor. And in our case especially if it is a state aimed at addressing the interests of the black majority. At the heart of this liberal agenda, is the minimization of the role of the state to transform the conditions of the black majority, and instead seeks to redirect the state to protect the interests of the white capitalist class, of which the DA is its primary political representative!

In fact the (anti-majoritarian) liberal agenda seeks to defend, protect and advance the interests of the white capitalist class and the petty bourgeoisie, without explicitly saying so like during the era of the racist apartheid regime; and yet in a manner not different from white minority rule, but in conditions of black majority rule!

Without by any means sounding alarmist, it is interesting to note, at this early stage, some of the similarities between the current anti-majority liberal agenda in our country and the agenda that was pursued in Chile in the early 1970s that led to the unseating of the popularly elected Chilean President, Allende in 1973.

The key features of this (conservative) liberal agenda include:

  1. Delegitimising the capacity of government to act in the interests of all the people (read ‘elites`)
  2. To set state institutions against each other in a manner that undermines the integrity of government
  3. Use of individuals associated or previously associated with the ANC, but now projected as the ‘wise elders` of our democracy, and the true incarnations of the ANC traditions
  4. Projecting Mandela as separate, above and in contradiction to what the ANC stands for today
  5. Elevating in the media all the voices that are seen to be against government
  6. Moral compass defined from the standpoint of all those who are critical of government and the ANC
  7. Selecting and elevating some of the alliance leaders against the others; ‘angels` and ‘devils`; profiling the ‘angels` and condemning or simply minimal media coverage of the devils
  8. Selectively supporting or condemning organs of state depending on whether they have respectively found against or for government.
  9. Projecting the ANC as a racial organization against the minorities, and seeking to obscure the continued racism and racist acts against the workers and the poor of our country, by trying to project that racism is now that of blacks against minorities
  10. Trying to project the disgruntled voices of elites within the minority communities as if they represent the fears of the majority of workers and the poor in those minorities, thus using ethnic mobilisation against government.

At the heart of the liberal offensive is the objective of weakening the capacity of the state to act in the interests of the overwhelming majority of the workers and the poor. In any event the idea of a non-interventionist state is a liberal creation, ideologically perfected by neo-liberal ideology. In its earlier forms in South Africa it was advanced and legitimated on the basis that under apartheid there was nothing wrong with the capitalist system, the problem was the apartheid state distorted and perverted what was otherwise a good system of a supposedly ‘racially blind` free market system.

Every social class (or fractions of it) seeks state intervention to advance and protect its own class interests. It was for this reason for instance that Marx and Engels (and later Lenin) characterised the state, incidentally in both capitalist and socialist societies, as an instrument of class rule, albeit simultaneously contested in both societies. It is so precisely also because it is the highest concentration of political power in any society. But the manner in which each class seeks to influence or capture state power will obviously be determined by the balance of CLASS forces in each conjunctural or historical period

The advance of neoliberalism was not so much shaped by or brought about by minimalist state intervention. It was itself a product of massive state intervention by the right wing to roll back the interests of the working class and the poor (in the case of advanced capitalist countries, the welfare state; and in the case of most developing countries to drive a state led imposition of structural adjustment programmes). In all these instances there was state ‘activism` and intervention in favor of the global, and often, domestic capitalist classes or ruling elites

In addition such state intervention in favor of the capitalist or local ruling elites does not end with either the dismantling of the welfare state or the creation of the conditions to implement SAP`s, but the state continues to actively police or undertake further measures (like repression and destruction of the trade union movement, especially its progressive components) in order to ensure that the conditions for the reproduction of capitalist relations of production are strengthened

The question therefore is not so much whether the state intervenes or not, but on whose behalf it is intervening. There is always state intervention, just as there are ongoing class struggles in, and about and over, the state and the direction it is taking.

It is therefore incumbent upon the state, in our context, to intervene to drive a transformation agenda in favour of the workers and the poor. Our own Medium Term Vision seeks to achieve this, amongst others, through the building of working class hegemony in all key sites of power, including in the state.

Defend and Deepen the Unity of Working Class Formations

Cde Chris played a critical role in the building of the progressive trade union, through both his underground work and after the unbanning in 1990. He contributed immensely in cementing for instance the relationship between the SACP and COSATU. As we remember cde Hani, it is absolutely essential that we dare not allow this relationship to be fractured.

We have noted with disgust an escalating media campaign over the past few weeks which have sought to sow division, mistrust and pit the SACP and COSATU against each other. Reliant on anonymous sources, some allegedly coming from our organisations, this campaign has also sought to impose a fictitious succession battle on both organisations.

`These, the use of media to spread lies about the SACP and working class leaders, are the kind of tactics that are reminiscent of failed apartheid days when there was a concerted effort to isolate communists from the liberation movement and the rest of society. Clearly the campaign is aimed inflicting maximum damage and to create confusion within the ranks of the SACP and beyond in so far as the SACP`s role in society and its decisions are concerned. We warn the media not to be prone to abuse by people both inside and outside our movement in their endeavours to pursue their narrow class and political interests.

For our proud 90 years of existence the SACP has been committed to building the unity of COSATU and to strengthening it politically and organisationally.

Communists must, just like Cde Chris would have done, work tirelessly to defeat the peddling that we have seen escalating over the past weeks and defeat the agenda to weaken working class unity.

The ANC`s Polokwane Conference and its resolutions opened a huge space for the working class to advance its own interests in the current period.

It is therefore absolutely important that as part of the political, organizational and ideological tasks of the SACP and COSATU, we defeat both the new tendency in our movement and the liberal agenda as outlined above. Both the new tendency and the liberal agenda are deeply anti-communist and anti-working class, and therefore pose a danger to the unity of the working class movement in our country.

There is currently a huge offensive being waged by both the new tendency and liberals through the media, especially targeted at the SACP and some of its leaders, but whose key objective is our 2012 elective congresses, and with President Zuma being a particular target. This offensive is part of launching a premature and ill-disciplined campaign towards our 2012 Congresses.

It is, therefore, critical to properly understand this offensive for what it is. Whilst the new and liberal tendencies are not the same, their interests coincide around this particular offensive. At the heart of this offensive is an attempt to weaken and divide the Alliance and its components so that business and accumulation interests take centre stage in both our organizations and in broader society. It is an agenda that was thoroughly exposed and defeated at the ANC NGC last year.

The fundamental goal of both the new tendency and the liberal offensive is to seek to roll back the advances made in Polokwane. Just for these alone they must be defeated.

It is absolutely essential that our Alliance as a whole needs to close ranks and focus its attention on its joint programme of action, of which the election campaign is a priority component at the moment. But at the same time we need to expose these agendas for what they are, and intensify engagement of our constituencies not to be duped by this.

Forward to an overwhelming ANC electoral victory in the forthcoming local government elections

As the SACP we are actively in the field in support of an overwhelming ANC electoral victory in the May 18 local government elections. In taking up the ANC`s core electoral campaign theme ("Together we can build better communities") the SACP will be giving particular emphasis to the importance of people-driven local development.

Along with the ANC and the great majority of South Africans, the SACP acknowledges that there have been a great many positive gains in our country since 1994 - including the roll-out of local elective democracy for all. We also agree that much still remains to be done - especially dealing with persisting unemployment, poverty and deep-seated inequality.

We believe that one of the key things that we need to counter in this campaign relates directly to what I have already said about the anti-majoritarian liberal agenda that has a particularly strong voice in the commercial print media.

Day in and day out the capitalist bosses and their media spread a message of despair. It`s designed to make workers and the poor lose heart. Yes, there are many challenges - but the capitalists want people to lose trust in the value of the vote, to lose hope in democracy. They want the majority to lose confidence in the government they`ve voted for, and in the organizations they`ve built in struggle over many years.

They want to distract us from the super-profits they are making. They want us to forget it`s their apartheid capitalist economy that`s still creating the crises of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

They want to divide us. They want us to fight factional battles amongst ourselves. They want us to run after the scraps they toss to us in our villages, townships and squatter camps - while they continue to live off super-profits in their wealthy suburbs.

Above all, they want us to forget how we once defeated apartheid. It was worker power in factories, farms, mines and shops; it was popular power in our communities that rolled back white minority rule.

And now it`s worker and popular power, supporting and supported by a progressive government, that must continue the battle against joblessness, inequality, poverty and the scourge of corruption.

Accordingly, in the run-up to the forthcoming local elections, the SACP will be highlighting three critical tasks:

  • Strengthening local government;
  • Democratising local government; and
  • Connecting our community struggles to the wider struggle to change our entire society and its economy.


To strengthen local government, we need to put an end to outsourcing core municipal functions to tenderpreneurs, to profiteers and other vultures. We must build, not weaken, the capacity of local government. We must ensure sustained local skills development for municipal staff and departments.

To strengthen local governance, we also need to reinforce the role of the non-profit social economy sector in municipal services and municipal procurement - including through dedicated support to co-operatives, and other sustainable livelihood activities in our communities.

And we need to ensure every municipality develops a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy - corruption diverts public resources into private pockets; corruption is at the root of many factional squabbles; corruption plays into the hands of those who want to subvert democracy. Together, we must stamp out this scourge.


Democratising local government includes:

  • Involving communities in deciding on local development priorities. Councillors must be subject to these development priorities, including in rural areas.
  • Holding councillors to the legal requirement of convening ward meetings every three months. At these community meetings development priorities must be discussed and progress evaluated.

And, finally, in the election campaign the SACP will be highlighting the need to


Why must the working class and poor still be condemned to live in rural labour reserves, in squatter camps and dormitory townships? Why must working class communities be left with delivery scraps tossed into the same unequal spaces? Workers and the poor want to live where there is work, amenities and resources close to where they stay. They want to live in mixed-income and mixed-use communities. They want to end class apartheid in the geography of our countryside, towns and cities.

To change this persisting apartheid reality:

  • We must enforce the ANC`s Polokwane conference resolution for a moratorium on the sale of municipal (and other publicly-owned) land - unless the sale is in line with progressive Integrated Development Plans. The selling off of public property to private speculators and profit-driven "developers" must be stopped. If not, we will continue to have green suburbs for the rich and over-crowded dormitory townships for the poor.
  • We must connect our local integrated development plans to an overall new national growth path and industrial policy action plan - with a focus on job creation, decent work and sustainable livelihoods.