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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 11, No. 37, 11 October 2012

In this Issue:


Red Reader Corner

The Ice Melts Into Water

Arctic Ice Melt, Psychopathic Capitalism and the Corporate Media

By David Cromwell and David Edwards

This article first appeared on www.medialens.org on the 2nd October 2012

Last month, climate scientists announced that Arctic sea ice had shrunk to its smallest surface area since satellite observations began in 1979. An ice-free summer in the Arctic, once projected to be more than a century away, now looks possible just a few decades from now. Some scientists say it may happen within the next few years.

The loss is hugely significant because Arctic sea ice reflects most solar energy into space, helping to keep the Earth at a moderate temperature. But when the ice melts it reveals dark waters below, which absorb more than 90 per cent of the solar energy that hits them, leading to faster warming both locally and globally.

Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, warns that the Arctic may be ice-free in summer as soon as 2015. Such a massive loss would have a warming effect roughly equivalent to all human activity to date. In other words, a summer ice-free Arctic could double the rate of warming of the planet as a whole. No wonder that leading NASA climate scientist James Hansen says bluntly: 'We are in a planetary emergency.'

In a comprehensive blog piece on the Scientific American website, Ramez Naam points out that:

'The reality of changes to the Arctic has far outstripped most predictions. Only a few years ago, in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the bulk of models showed the Arctic ice cap surviving in summer until well past 2100. Now it's not clear that the ice will survive in summer past 2020. The level of sea ice we saw this September, in 2012, wasn't expected by the mean of IPCC models until 2065. The melting Arctic has outpaced the predictions of almost everyone - everyone except the few who were called alarmists.'

As well as global warming from carbon dioxide (CO2), there is the additional risk of warming from methane (CH4) being released into the atmosphere. Huge quantities of methane are locked up in land permafrost. But even vaster quantities exist as methane hydrates frozen below the shallow waters of the Arctic Ocean's continental shelves. Naam warns:

'If even 10% of the northern permafrost's buried carbon were released as methane, it would have a heating effect over the next decade equivalent to ten times all human greenhouse emissions to date, and over the next century equivalent to roughly four times all human greenhouse emissions to date.'

That's just the methane on land, trapped in the permafrost. If the methane hydrates buried on the Arctic continental shelves were to be released, that would have a warming effect equivalent to hundreds of times the total human carbon emissions to date.

Although Namm says 'we are probably not in danger of a methane time bomb going off any time soon', recent observations show that Arctic methane is being released into the atmosphere. And there is scientific controversy over how serious and how rapid this release is.

In summary, Naam points to a triple whammy effect:

  1. Warming from the greenhouse gases we are currently emitting.
  2. Warming from the loss of ice and permafrost in the Arctic, and the exposure of dark water and dark land below.
  3. Warming from the release of more carbon into the atmosphere as the permafrost and the Arctic sea floor methane begin to melt.

The situation is already dire. According to a new report commissioned by twenty governments, more than 100 million people will die by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change. Five million deaths already occur each year from air pollution, hunger and disease as a result of climate change and carbon-intensive economies. This death toll would likely rise to six million a year by 2030 if current patterns of fossil fuel use continue. More than 90 per cent of those deaths will occur in developing countries.

On a sane planet, action would have been taken long before now to limit the risk. But, as Greenpeace International head Kumi Naidoo notes, fossil fuel industries have been working hard to corrupt the political process:

'Why our governments don't take action? Because they have been captured by the same interests of the energy industry.'

As we noted in an alert last year, a Greenpeace study titled Who's Holding Us Back? reported:

'The corporations most responsible for contributing to climate change emissions and profiting from those activities are campaigning to increase their access to international negotiations and, at the same time, working to defeat progressive legislation on climate change and energy around the world.'

Greenpeace added:

'These polluting corporations often exert their influence behind the scenes, employing a variety of techniques, including using trade associations and think tanks as front groups; confusing the public through climate denial or advertising campaigns; making corporate political donations; as well as making use of the "revolving door" between public servants and carbon-intensive corporations.'

Unsurprisingly then, meaningful action on tackling climate change is nowhere on the political agenda.

Drilling To Oblivion

Around the same time that a record low in Arctic sea ice was being recorded, a new report from the UK's House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee urged a halt to all oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, at least 'until new safeguards are put in place.' Committee chair Joan Walley MP said:

'The shocking speed at which the Arctic sea ice is melting should be a wake-up call to the world that we need to phase out fossil fuels fast. Instead we are witnessing a reckless gold rush in this pristine wilderness as big companies and governments make a grab for the world's last untapped oil and gas reserves.'

Caroline Lewis, member of the committee, warned that 'the race to carve up the Arctic is accelerating faster than our regulatory or technical capacity to manage it.'

But the record of corporate capitalism shows that powerful industrial forces will do all they can to lobby governments to allow for continued economic exploitation of the planet's resources. According to the US Geological Survey, within the Arctic Circle there are some 90 billion barrels of oil - 13 per cent of the planet's undiscovered oil reserves - and 30 per cent of its undiscovered natural gas. The race for corporate profits is now on, with Shell already committed to a 'multi-year exploration program' in the Arctic.

The receding Arctic ice is a 'business opportunity' for those wishing to exploit newly available shipping routes. Cargo that now goes via the Panama Canal or the Suez Canal will, in many cases, have a shorter Arctic route, ensuring 'efficiency savings' for big business.

Companies are also licking their lips at the prospect at getting their hands on vast deposits of minerals as Greenland's ice cap recedes.

'For me, I wouldn't mind if the whole ice cap disappears,' said Ole Christiansen, the chief executive of NunamMinerals, Greenland's largest homegrown mining company, with his eyes on a proposed gold mining site up the fjord from Nuuk, Greenland's capital. 'As it melts, we're seeing new places with very attractive geology.'

A good example of the psychopathic mind-set at the heart of corporate capitalism. Science writer Peter Gleick responded incredulously on Twitter: '25 foot sea rise?' For that is indeed the catastrophic scale of global sea level rise that would occur with the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

The BBC Parks The Problem

The BBC's extremely poor and biased coverage of climate change continues to dismay seasoned observers. As Verity Payne and Freya Roberts noted on The Carbon Brief website, the corporation's 'fondness for pitting non-experts against each other over particularly complex areas of climate science reached surreal heights' in a recent BBC2 Newsnight segment on Arctic sea ice loss. The encounter between Conservative MP Peter Lilley and the Green Party's new leader Natalie Bennett eventually degenerated into an argument over the merits of locally-sourced food. Payne and Roberts concluded:

'It's hard to understand how, over a year after the BBC Trust reviewed the corporation's science coverage, paying particular attention to topics such as climate change, this is what we end up with.'

In fact, the BBC's awful performance is not that much of a mystery. The corporation has always been a reliable supporter of state and corporate power. But particularly since the fallout from reporting the government's 'sexing-up' of discredited claims about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction, when heads rolled at the BBC, the broadcaster has been at pains not to offend the government and allied interests. Its abysmal failure to inform the British public of the coalition's effective dismantling of the National Health Service is another key example.

According to former BBC correspondent and editor Mark Brayne, who was privy to internal editorial discussions in 2010, the BBC has 'explicitly parked climate change in the category "Done That Already, Nothing New to Say".' Brayne added:

'On climate change, that BBC journalistic urgency to be seen to be fair now means, after a period between Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth and the disaster of [the 2009 UN Climate Summit in] Copenhagen when global warming was everywhere in the output, that the Corporation has been bending over backwards to reflect the opposite, sceptical view.'

Consider the analogy of two men at a bar, says Brayne. One man claims that two plus two equals four, and the other that two plus two equals six. The BBC solution to this disagreement? 'Put them both on the Today Programme, and the answer clearly lies somewhere in the middle.'

The Today programme, BBC Radio 4's 'agenda-setting' morning programme, is a serial offender when it comes to irresponsible climate coverage. On July 13 this year, veteran interviewer John Humphrys interviewed Ralph Cicerone, president of the US National Academy of Sciences. Part of the interview went like this:

JH:  'But to say nearly every spot on the globe has warmed significantly over the past 30 years and indeed the entire planet is warming is different from saying it's going to continue to warm to such an extent that we have to spend vast and unimaginable amounts of money to protect ourselves against a catastrophe that many people, some distinguished scientists say, isn't actually proven.'

RC: 'Well of course the way you've worded it, it was quite strong; "vast and unimaginable sums of money", I don't think I've heard anybody make such a proposal.'

Moments later, Humphrys made the idiotic assertion that:

'You can't absolutely prove that CO2 in the atmosphere is responsible for global warming.'

As climate writers Christian Hunt and Ros Donald put it politely:

'If the Today programme brought this level of research and preparation to interviewing politicians, it probably wouldn't be taken particularly seriously.'

In fact, the standard of political debate on Today, as with the rest of BBC News, is on a similarly appalling level: routinely tilted towards state-corporate power, and all at public expense.

Meanwhile, BBC News happily chunters along issuing a stream of articles and broadcasts about Britain's 'dreadful weather' this year and how it has, for example, 'cost rural Britain £1bn' in lost income. But you would be hard pressed to find any links drawn between this and human-induced climate change.

Guarding The Mythology Of 'Feeble Response'

Greens like to flock to the Guardian almost as though it were the house paper of the environment movement. One recent Guardian editorial noted that: 'pessimists in the climate change community warn that within the next century global mean temperatures could rise by 6C. A fierce, sustained drought in the US, with 170 all-time US heat records broken in June alone, has already hurt world food stocks.'

These are important points. But given the observed rapid changes in the Arctic under global warming, the Guardian's pejorative use of 'pessimists' should probably be replaced with 'realists'. The Guardian continued:

'The global response to these signals of potential calamity has so far been feeble.'

This hugely understates the problem. But, even more damning, it diverts attention from root causes. As mentioned earlier, huge vested interests have mounted decades-long campaigns of disinformation, fierce lobbying and intimidation to subvert and bully governments into (a) avoiding what needs to be done in the face of climate chaos; and (b) providing tax breaks, subsidies and other measures to enhance rapacious corporate practices under the guise of boosting economic 'growth' and 'job creation' (newspeak terms for corporate profits).

Senior Guardian editorial staff seem unable to move beyond the same anodyne waffle they have been publishing for thirty years:

'Britain's "greenest government ever" has shown what it thinks of scientific evidence, by placing a homeopathic medicine enthusiast in charge of the National Health Service, and a reputed climate sceptic as environment secretary. The outlook is not promising.'

The Guardian has almost nothing to say about the deep-rooted changes required to redress the imbalance of power in society; or about its own role in pushing climate-damaging policies and practices. The Guardian is a corporate newspaper dependent on advertisers for around 70 per cent of its income. Put simply, like other corporate media, it is part of the problem.

Media Malpractice - Challenging The Decline In Coverage

In the US, climate blogger Joe Romm notes that the decline in corporate media climate coverage has been well documented, both in print and the evening news. Bill Blakemore of ABC News observes that a number of the climate scientists 'are perplexed by — and in some cases furious with — American news directors.' Blakemore elucidates:

'"Malpractice!" is typical of the charges this reporter has heard highly respected climate experts level — privately, off the record — at my professional colleagues over the past few years.

'Complaints include what seems to the scientists a willful omission of overwhelming evidence the new droughts and floods are worsened by man made global warming, and unquestioning repetition, gullible at best, of transparent anti-science propaganda credibly reported to be funded by fossil fuel interests and anti-regulation allies.'

Blakemore adds that he has spoken with climate scientists who 'agree with those, including NASA scientist James Hansen, who charge that fossil fuel CEOs are guilty of a "crime against humanity," given the calamity that unregulated greenhouse emissions are quickly bringing on.' With 100 million deaths from global warming predicted by 2030, the charge is no hyperbole. Indeed this surely represents the greatest crime in all human history. And yet governments and big business, shielded by the corporate media, are getting away with it.

It probably comes as no surprise that the worst US media offenders belong to the Murdoch stable. A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) shows that Fox News had been 'misleading' viewers about climate science in 93 per cent of primetime programmes that addressed the subject over a six-month period in 2012. Fox News hosts and guests 'mocked and disparaged statements from scientists and drowned out genuine scientific assertions with cherry-picked data and false claims.' The opinion pages of the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal performed slightly better: only 81 per cent of the examples studied were misleading, according to the UCS analysis. Similar surveys of the UK media are sorely needed. And, more to the point, action taken to challenge this corporate media complicity in history's premier crime.

We have to re-examine our assumptions about what might be most effective in changing things for the better. For years, left and green activists have argued that we should work with corporate media to reach a wider public. For a long time the argument may have seemed unassailable. But after decades of accelerating planetary devastation and rapidly declining democracy, the argument has weakened to the point of collapse. By a process of carefully rationed corporate 'inclusion', the honesty, vitality and truth of environmentalism have been corralled, contained, trivialised and stifled.

Corporate media 'inclusion' of dissent has deceived the public with the illusion of openness and change, while business-as-usual has taken us very far in the opposite direction. Ironically, meek 'cooperation' has handed influence and control to the very forces seeking to disempower dissent. And in the absence of serious left/green criticism, corporate media performance has actually deteriorated.

Why should progressives help this system sell the illusion that the corporate media offers a 'wide spectrum of views' when its biased output overwhelmingly and inevitably promotes Permanent War for resources and war on the planet? The corporate media must be confronted with the reality of what it is, and what it has done. It is vital that this be highlighted to the public it has been deceiving.

While the power of the internet remains relatively open, there is a brief window to free ourselves from the shackles of the corporate media and to build something honest, radical and publicly accountable. Climate crisis is already upon us, with much worse likely to come. The stakes almost literally could not be higher.


The Chávez victory will be felt far beyond Latin America

Popular support for Venezuela's revolution shows the growing space for genuine alternatives in the 21st century

Seumas Milne in Caracas writing for The Guardian, Tuesday 9 October 2012

The transformation of Latin America is one of the decisive changes reshaping the global order. The tide of progressive change that has swept the region over the last decade has brought a string of elected socialist and social-democratic governments to office that have redistributed wealth and power, rejected western neoliberal orthodoxy, and challenged imperial domination. In the process they have started to build the first truly independent South America for 500 years and demonstrated to the rest of the world that there are, after all, economic and social alternatives in the 21st century.

Central to that process has been Hugo Chávez and his Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela. It is Venezuela, sitting on the world's largest proven oil reserves, that has spearheaded the movement of radical change across Latin America and underwritten the regional integration that is key to its renaissance. By doing so, the endlessly vilified Venezuelan leader has earned the enmity of the US and its camp followers, as well as the social and racial elites that have called the shots in Latin America for hundreds of years.

So Chávez's remarkable presidential election victory on Sunday - in which he won 55% of the vote on an 81% turnout after 14 years in power - has a significance far beyond Venezuela, or even Latin America. The stakes were enormous: if his oligarch challenger Henrique Capriles had won, not only would the revolution have come to a juddering halt, triggering privatisations and the axing of social programmes. So would its essential support for continental integration, mass sponsorship of Cuban doctors across the hemisphere - as well as Chávez's plans to reduce oil dependence on the US market.

Western and Latin American media and corporate elites had convinced themselves that they were at last in with a shout, that this election was "too close to call", or even that a failing Venezuelan president, weakened by cancer, would at last be rejected by his own people. Outgoing World Bank president Robert Zoellick crowed that Chávez's days were "numbered", while Barclays let its excitement run away with itself by calling the election for Capriles.

It's all of a piece with the endlessly recycled Orwellian canard that Chávez is some kind ofa dictator and Venezuela a tyranny where elections are rigged and the media muzzled and prostrate. But as opposition leaders concede, Venezuela is by any rational standards a democracy, with exceptionally high levels of participation, its electoral process more fraud-proof than those in Britain or the US, and its media dominated by a vituperatively anti-government private sector. In reality, the greatest threat to Venezuelan democracy came in the form of the abortive US-backed coup of 2002.

Even senior western diplomats in Caracas roll their eyes at the absurdity of the anti-Chávez propaganda in the western media. And in the queues outside polling stations on Sunday, in the opposition stronghold of San Cristóbal near the Colombian border, Capriles voters told me: "This is a democracy." Several claimed that if Chávez won, it wouldn't be because of manipulation of the voting system but the "laziness" and "greed" of their Venezuelans - by which they seemed to mean the appeal of government social programmes.

Which gets to the heart of the reason so many got the Venezuelan election wrong. Despite claims that Latin America's progressive tide is exhausted, leftwing and centre-left governments continue to be re-elected - from Ecuador to Brazil and Bolivia to Argentina - because they have reduced poverty and inequality and taken control of energy resources to benefit the excluded majority.

That is what Chávez has been able to do on a grander scale, using Venezuela's oil income and publicly owned enterprises to slash poverty by half and extreme poverty by 70%, massively expanding access to health and education, sharply boosting the minimum wage and pension provision, halving unemployment, and giving slum communities direct control over social programmes.

To visit any rally or polling station during the election campaign was to be left in no doubt as to who Chávez represents: the poor, the non-white, the young, the disabled - in other words, the dispossessed majority who have again returned him to power. Euphoria at the result among the poor was palpable: in the foothills of the Andes on Monday groups of red-shirted hillside farmers chanted and waved flags at any passerby.

Of course there is also no shortage of government failures and weaknesses which the opposition was able to target: from runaway violent crime to corruption, lack of delivery and economic diversification, and over-dependence on one man's charismatic leadership. And the US-financed opposition campaign was a much more sophisticated affair than in the past. Capriles presented himself as "centre-left", despite his hard right background, and promised to maintain some Chavista social programmes.

But even so, the Venezuelan president ended up almost 11 points ahead. And the opposition's attempt to triangulate to the left only underlines the success of Chávez in changing Venezuela's society and political terms of trade. He has shown himself to be the most electorally successful radical left leader in history. His re-election now gives him the chance to ensure Venezuela's transformation is deep enough to survive him, to overcome the administration's failures and help entrench the process of change across the continent.

Venezuela's revolution doesn't offer a political model that can be directly transplanted elsewhere, not least because oil revenues allow it to target resources on the poor without seriously attacking the interests of the wealthy. But its innovative social programmes, experiments in direct democracy and success in bringing resources under public control offer lessons to anyone interested in social justice and new forms of socialist politics in the rest of the world.

For all their problems and weaknesses, Venezuela and its Latin American allies have demonstrated that it's no longer necessary to accept a failed economic model, as many social democrats in Europe still do. They have shown it's possible to be both genuinely progressive and popular. Cynicism and media-fuelled ignorance have prevented many who would naturally identify with Latin America's transformation from recognising its significance. But Chávez's re-election has now ensured that the process will continue - and that the space for 21st-century alternatives will grow.


Scenarios playing themselves in the lead up to Mangaung

By Walter Mothapo

The issue of leadership as linguists would say, is rather a paradoxical one. It may turn out be very easy and too difficult to deal with. It just depends on how we approach it.

The thin line is whether we put our personal or organisational interests first.

Three scenarios and lessons interplay themselves leading to Mangaung as follows:

The Marikana sangoma:

We are all awaiting with enthusiasm the results of the Commission of Enquiry into what happened in the Marikana tragedy. But legend puts one Sangoma in the mix. It is said that workers sought the services of a sangoma to strengthen them against management and any opposition to their wild cat strike, including confrontation with the policy. The sangoma applied a concoction of a lotion to their bodies and said "hey from now you guys are unconquerable, you will bite the bullet and any gun aimed at you will produce only water". The rest is history.

This is exactly the triumphant belief that some in the Youth League have. Some sections of the Youth League believe that come Mangaung, they possess a herb or mixture that turns commoners into queens and kings. They cite the historical role that the ANC Youth League played in the past elective conferences including Polokwane where their preferred leadership emerged victorious. But the jury is out on whether it was the ANC Youth league or branches of the ANC represented by delegates that decided on the new leadership in all these past elective conferences? As I recall deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe warned against this spirit of misguided youth triumphalism by saying "the youth must guard against intoxication by past victories".

Lesson One:  The primary motive forces of the National Democratic Revolution remains the working class, particularly organised workers. The youth are a layer that permeates all the strata that could be regarded as motive forces in the NDR. In their own the youth cannot define themselves as a class or a stratum and as the sole propellers of the revolution. In the words of Lenin the main pre-occupation of the youth must be to 'learn, learn and learn".

The Obama charm

Obama campaigned on the ticket of change. Promising an American electorate that once elected he would apply a silver bullet to all of America's problems. People voted for him with high hopes that once he steps in at the White House his charm and charisma would bring an end to their woes. But as his term draws to an end, reality dawns to them that no single president can undo the economic mess that America is in.

The Obama charm is the same disease that has inflicted those who are pushing for leadership overhaul in the ANC. They believe that once a new ANC president is elected he would end all the problems that the ANC is facing such as factionalism and patronage. As such they tend to live from Conference to Conference. Immediately they elect a new leader they go back to the drawing boards and pronounce on the next leader, to take over in the next elective Conference.

Lesson two: The noble principle of collective leadership still stands, in any revolutionary organisation it is not about an individual but collective wisdom.

Jesus Christ's Donkey

We read in the bible that after not appearing for a while in public and people asking themselves about his whereabouts; Jesus Christ got at the back of the donkey and rode to Jerusalem. Now based on this trip a joke is told that when he arrived people cheered and ululated. The donkey then mistaken the cheering to be its own and began jumping around and galloping in celebration of its sudden fame. It's only when Jesus Christ disembarked off the donkey and people rushed to mob him while others were looking for autographs that the donkey realised that the mistake it made; that it assumes it more was popular than Jesus Christ whereas it was just a means of transport. Now this is an error that a bunch of comrades commit. They tend to believe that they are more popular than the ANC.

Lesson three: No one can define themselves out of the organisation and take the mighty ANC together with its Alliance structures head on in a political boxing ring and win.


The SACP and COSATU congresses that took place this year have demonstrated how the ANC can solve this "leadership conundrum". That is if we if we understand that unity is an ideological weapon that shields the organisation from forces of reaction. Unity is also a political tool that enables the organisation to fulfill its revolutionary mission with less internal huddles.  The ANC as a leader of the Alliance cannot afford to wallow in leadership squabbles that will distract it from confronting the challenges of poverty, joblessness and inequality that still afflict the majority of the South African populace.

Walter Mothapo is a member of the Ike Maphotho Branch of the ANC in Polokwane and a member of the PEC of the SACP in Limpopo. These are his personal views.


Defending the collective leadership of our movement is about defending the future of our people

By Phatse Justice Piitso

The year of the centenary celebrations of the history of struggles led by our national liberation movement is coming to an end on a high political note. We are ending this most memorable year in the calendar of the glorious history of our liberation struggles with an elective national conference to be held at the same historic site of Mangaung, where our movement was founded in 1912.

The hundred years of rich history of struggles for the liberation of our people against the bondage of imperialism and colonialism of a special type, has been a demonstration that it is only through unity and cohesion that we can overcome and triumph over the forces of oppression and exploitation. We traverse this historic moment into the horizons of our new century of struggles confident that we will confront the unbearable socio economic contradictions imposed on our people by the three and half centuries of the legacy created by our historical past.

This important conference will be a platform for our people to give a critical analysis of the domestic and international balance of forces and the extent to which they impact on the character and posture of our national democratic revolution. It will indeed be an opportunity for our people to give a synopsis of the successes and challenges of the first century of the history of the existence of our national liberation movement and also how to take forward the immediate tasks of our national democratic revolution, of our struggles for the socio economic transformation of our society into the new century.

One of the fundamental constitutional tasks of the conference will be the election of a new collective leadership that will be entrusted with the responsibility to steer the movement, into the turbulences of our struggles for the emancipation of our people into the our second century. The mandate of the new collective leadership to be elected will be derived from the resolutions to be adopted by the deliberations of conference plenary.

We are making preparations for this important conference against the background of an offensive onslaught mounted by the enemy of our revolution projecting a false perception that our elective national conference will be a culmination of anarchy in the history of the hundred years of the existence of our movement. The truth remains to be that this coming conference is a litmus test that will be used as a barometer to measure the extent of the unity and cohesion of our national democratic revolution.

We therefore need to comprehend the obvious realities that we are traversing a difficult moment in the history of our struggles wherein counterrevolution and infantile disorder is at is determination to undermine the tremendous achievements of our national democratic revolution. Sinister forces from both within and outside the ranks of our movement and in collaboration with international monopoly capital, have proven themselves to be determined to destabilize the collective leadership of our movement and our country led by our President.

The enemy of our national democratic revolution is hellbent to single out  our President to be the one accountable for the massive historical imbalances of the challenges of poverty, disease and underdevelopment that have over the years of oppression and super exploitation by imperialism and colonialism of a special type, become the principal characteristic of the south African society.

It is therefore important that we understand the harsh realities of the socio economic contradictions we face, from the premise of our historical perspective. We cannot relate ourselves to the deep seated challenges of racial inequalities ravaging our society in isolation from the historical realities of the three and half century of the socio economic contradictions imposed by imperialism and colonialism of a special type.

In other words it is absolutely wrong of the insinuations from the sections of the media and some of the social movements in our country, to accuse the collective leadership of our movement for the socio and economic atrocities committed by our historical past. We need to understand the challenges of our transition from the point of view of the deep structural deficiencies of an economic framework that was over years designed to serve only a small section of our white population at the expense of the overwhelming majority of our black people.

Therefore we are obliged to apply a microscopic analysis of the balance of forces so as to expand our horizons into understanding the challenges of the global economy and how they exacerbate the slow pace of the transformation of our state and economy. We need to inspire our people to appreciate the realities that we are building a national democratic society out of nation in a transition to heal itself from the wounds of our historical past.

It is therefore indeed outrageous of the attempts by counter-revolution to gain ascendency into making our people assume that the demise of apartheid was the beginning of the socio economic problems bequeathing our society. It is for this reason that the people of our country should support the collective leadership of our movement under the stewardship of Cde Jacob Zuma, as the only caliber leadership capable of eroding the perceptions that the 1994 democratic breakthrough was a springboard that produced the sharp contradictions of doom and gloom.

We are therefore confident that our branches as they commence with the processes of nomination of candidates eligible to serve in the national executive committee of the ANC, will reaffirm and ensure that we give our President an opportunity to lead our people into our bright future.

Phatse Justice Piitso is a former ambassador to Cuba and the provincial secretary of the SACP in Limpopo writing this article on his personal capacity.