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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 10, No. 25, 20 December 2011

In this Issue:

Dear Umsebenzi Online Reader

The SACP takes this opportunity to wish all South Africans a happy festive season and a prosperous new year. In particular we wish the workers of our country a well deserved break from the grinding and greedy capitalist machine. The year 2012 is indeed a historic year in the history of our people as a whole as the country and the entire world marks the 100th Anniversary of the formation of our allied organization, the ANC.

The tripartite alliance partners will all hold their elective conferences next year. Indeed 2012 will be a year of test of character of our ability to unite our people in action. The SACP, in the wake of this anniversary, further commits itself to safeguarding the unity of our Alliance and it's various components.

As part of growing our on-line publication since 2002, we are proud to announce that next year there will be the following changes in Umsebenzi Online:

  1. The publication day of Umsebenzi Online will now change to Thursdays.
  2. The Red Alert, which is the prime opinion piece written by the Secretariat and CC members, will continue to be published on a first and third Thursday of the month.
  3. On alternative Thursdays we will now introduce Umsebenzi Online which will carry news analysis, a media watch and opinions from readers.
  4. Our section on media watch will also include assessing articles in the media were we will give awards in three categories, namely red card for extremely bias articles, yellow card for articles that are good and a bouquet of red roses for excellent coverage on issues.

We hope these changes will improve the quality and depth of coverage, thus repositioning it as a prime source of left-wing analysis of contemporary South African and global developments.

The SACP calls upon all South Africans to enjoy responsibly, drive carefully, and expose reckless driving especially in our public transport system and fully co-operate with law enforcement agencies over the festive season. Let us also take forward the campaign to save our environment and intensify the struggle against the destruction of our planet by insatiable capitalist greed!



Red Alert

South African Communist Party Message of Support and Solidarity on the 50th anniverary of Umkhonto We Sizwe, 16 December 2011

Blade Nzimande, General Secretary

Today, on this important and historic day, the SACP lowers its Red Flag in honour of all the MK cadres who laid down their lives in the fight against the criminal apartheid regime in order for our country to become liberated. As South African communists we also wish to honour all those former MK cadres in our midst who led by example in their self-less dedication in the struggle to liberate our country.

On this day the SACP also salutes the different generations of MK combatants, young and old, from the members of the High Command of MK in the early 1960s, through to the 1976 detachment, as well as the combatants at the height of our mass struggles in the 1980s.This day could not have come at a better time on the eve of the centenary of the ANC, and during the 90th anniversary of the SACP!

There is no better way to honour the role of MK than by intensifying the struggle to mobilize all of ou rpeople to implement the five priorities of our movement – job creation, access to education and health, rural development and the fight against crime and corruption. In so doing we should, like the MK combatants, be prepared to selflessly serve our people without expectations of any personal gain for ourselves as leaders and cadres of our movement.

Today there is no better way of honouring the role and contribution of MK cadres than to intensify the struggle against corruption, tenderpeneurship, misguided militancy and ill-discipline. On this day, we call upon our movement as a whole to deal decisively with ill-discipline, recklessness, populism and corruption. MK cadres understood that one of the best weapons we could have handed over to the enemy in order to defeat us was ill-discipline and reckless militancy. Let us root out all these foreign tendencies within our ranks in order to safeguard the legacy of Umkhonto WeSizwe.

It is also proper for us to honour the thousands of communists who fought in the ranks of the MK and played a heroic role throughout the existence of this glorious army. On this day we remember Moses Kotane, Yusuf Dadoo, Govan Mbeki, Ruth First, Raymond Mhlaba,Joe Slovo, Chris Hani, Linda Jabane, Mzala Nxumalo, as well as the many women communists who played a sterling role in the prosecution of the armed struggle. We are proud that communists fought bravely side by side with all other MK combatants from the ranks of the ANC. MK, in its own way, played an important role in cementing the unity of our Alliance in struggle and in the trenches.

Communists were amongst the first to join the ranks of MK when our liberation movement embarked on armed struggle. We proudly recall the words of Joe Slovo when he reminded us about the role communists played in the formation and evolution of MK:

"To constitute the High Command the ANC appointed Mandela and the Party appointed me. We were instructed by both bodies to make recommendations about the balance of members of the High Command, which we did and it was endorsed".

Therefore on this day, we, as South African communists, pledge our continued commitment to continue the fight, side by side with all our comrades and compatriots in the struggle for the eradication of poverty, gender inequality and class exploitation. Just like we did in our participation in the armed struggle, we shall spare no effort in our complete dedication to the reconstruction and development of our country ,and to fight all foreign tendencies of selfish accumulation and ill discipline both inside and outside the ranks of our movement. This will be our own communist way of honouring the memory of all MK cadres.

The armed struggle, especially between 1961 and 1990, was one of the key four pillars of our struggle to defeat apartheid – mass struggle, the underground, the armed struggle and the international isolation of the apartheid regime. The armed propaganda of MK played a crucial role in galvanizing our people to intensify the struggle on all fronts and terrains, including the mobilization of international solidarity in support of our just struggle for liberation.

MK combatants often represented most of the disciplined cadres of our movement, who expected nothing in return for their sacrifices, but were even prepared to lay down their lives so that our country could be free. It is therefore our duty as cadres of the movement to preserve the legacy of our MK combatants, honour their memory and safeguard all the values that informed their actions.

On this day it is also important to honour all those who participated in the international anti-apartheid movement. In particular we would like to recognize the generous military and other support we received from the former Soviet Union and the international communist movement in our struggle against the apartheid regime.

The SACP also calls upon our movement and government to urgently attend to the needs of the surviving MK cadres, especially those who are still living under conditions of abject poverty. It is important that we look after our cadres, and not be distracted by liberals, the likes of the DA and our enemies and detractors, who never lifted a finger in the struggle against apartheid, but many of whom were beneficiaries of the racist apartheid order. For this reason we welcome the establishment of the Department of Military Veterans in 2009 to address the many needs of our former military combatants.

To all our departed MK cadres we say, your blood was not shed in vain, as today we are indeed a liberated country! The SACP will forever treasure your memory.


Editorial Note

The SACP welcomes the change of mind by the Public Protector and her refusal to accede to the request by the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) to investigate government’s reasons in support of the Protection of State Information Bill. The SACP had already raised some of these matters in public and we had intended to publish our full statement on this matter in this edition of Umsebenzi Online. For the public record, we publish our full statement and opinion on the role of the Public Protector especially in relation to the PoSIB currently before parliament:

The Public Protector and the Rule of Law

In the constitutional negotiations at Codesa, the ANC and its allies insisted on a variety of measures and institutions supporting our democracy, one of which was the establishment of the office of the Public Protector. The SACP fully supports and respects the independence of this institution, and that it must conduct its work thoroughly, independently and without fear or favour, but within the prescripts of our regime of rights and the rule of law as contained in our Constitution. In addition, the SACP fully supports the role of the institution of the Public Protector as one of our key state organs in the fight against all forms of corruption, 'tenderpreneurship' and abuse of public office for personal gain or self-enrichment.

The SACP is however deeply concerned by what appears to be serious deviations by some of the recent actions of the Public Protector; actions that run the risk of demeaning the stature of this important institution. It is our view that as citizens of a democracy we must at all times be vigilant that institutions supporting our democracy must act in a manner that is within the framework of the law and the Constitution and also respect other organs of state and their respective constitutional responsibilities.

The SACP has once before raised concerns about the manner in which the Public Protector tends to conduct her investigations through the media, in a manner that seriously runs the risk of violating the rights of individuals and compromise the integrity of this important office. It must also be borne in mind that all our institutions supporting democracy are above the individual incumbents at any particular time. Therefore it is incumbent upon any holder of such office to defend and protect the independence and integrity of these institutions.

Firstly, it is improper for the Public Protector to reactively announce in the middle of a radio interview, for the first time, new investigations about individuals, no matter how legitimate the concerns of the Public Protector may have been. Secondly, the ANC Chief Whip is absolutely correct to warn the Public Protector not to dabble into legislative processes that are still before Parliament. Such processes are an exclusive domain of Parliament as a sovereign body tasked with the responsibility of processing and passing legislation.

In our Constitution the national legislative function is exclusively the sphere of parliament and parliament alone! Any legal reviews of such legislation for its constitutionality is also the exclusive preserve of the Constitutional Court and can only be done after passage of such legislation. Our Constitution is absolutely clear on these matters:

"In the Republic the legislative authority of the national sphere of government is vested in Parliament...

"When exercising its legislative authority; Parliament is bound only by the Constitution, and must act in accordance with, and within the limits of, the Constitution"

It is therefore improper and irregular for the Public Protector to begin to pronounce herself on legislation that is legitimately still under consideration by Parliament, and outside the prescriptions set by Parliament for legislative purposes. Just like the Public Protector has no right to investigate whether any of its members have, either in the house or before any of its committees, misled Parliament. This is governed by internal parliamentary rules and the Public Protector has no such authority in law.

But even more serious is for the Public Protector to take a view in support of one partisan stance on a legislative matter, without any fair or due process followed to arrive at such. Requirements of fairness and due process, well established in our law, require of any institution supporting our democracy, fairness, impartiality and transparency in the conduct of their work. For instance the Constitution, prescribes that, amongst other things, Chapter 9 institutions, of which the Public Protector is one, "are independent, and subject only to the Constitution and the law, and they must be impartial and must exercise their powers and perform their functions without fear, favour or prejudice". Specifically in relation to the Public Protector the Constitution prescribes that "The Public Protector must be accessible to all persons and communities".

A serious question that arises from the above is whether the Public Protector is acting impartially and without prejudice when she formulates a view about legislation that is before parliament, as is the case with the Protection of State Information Bill, without stating what processes she has followed to arrive at such a view? How accessible and impartial will she be when in future she may have to deal with issues that may be legitimately raised by 'persons' and 'communities' that hold a different view to those opposing the PoSIB? For all intents and purposes the Public Protector is already prejudiced against those supporting this Bill, thus potentially compromising the impartiality of this office.

The SACP is also of the view that for the Public Protector to act as a representative or interlocutor for parties that might have problems with legislation before parliament is outside the mandate of her office. The Constitution clearly states that the primary function of the Public Protector is investigative and not a mediator, representative or intelocutor on behalf of any grouping. The Constitution says "The Public Protector has the power, as regulated by national legislation.. to investigate any conduct of state affairs or in the public administration in any sphere of government, that is alleged or suspected to be improper or to result in any impropriety or prejudice". Nowhere does she have authority to act as a representative of particular groupings before Parliament. Such intelocution is also completely unnecessary as any individual or group has the right to appear directly before parliamentary committees without any mediation by anyone.

Even if one were to concede that the Public Protector has a right to take a view about any legislation before parliament, this must at least be preceded by a fair and open transparent process, and for her to listen to all sides before making up her mind. We are not aware of any such process on the part of the Public Protector to reach out to all sides of the PoSIB debate. In fact by her own admission, she has met with, and has been successfully lobbied by, only one side to the debate.

By so doing the Public Protector risks being beholden to partisan views and political agendas and not listen to or be 'accessible to all persons and communities'. This is completely inconsistent with, if not in violation of, the requirements of the law and our constitution. Such a posture may completely destroy the confidence our people have in our democratic institutions. Our country, as the constitution prescribes, requires a Public Protector not a Partisan Protector!

In the interests of safeguarding our Constitution and the integrity of all institutions supporting our democracy, perhaps the time has come now for the Public Protector to transparently inform and engage, without prejudice, the South African public about the modus operandi of this office.