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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 11, No. 40, 1 November 2012

In this Issue:


Red Alert

Rating agencies are not class neutral...

By Malesela Maleka

Recently we have had to put up with stories in both electronic and the print media that are meant to empower us, as citizens, to stand up against the "crisis of leadership". Most commentators, analysts and even leading politicians agree that there is a crisis facing our country - a crisis of poverty, unemployment and rising levels of inequality.

However there is a huge divergence among the role players when it comes to the true root causes of this crisis. What the press, commentators and others have told us is that the lack of leadership (political) in South Africa is responsible for this triple crisis we face.

We have no problem facing up to the agenda that these role players are agitating for. They have never believed in the leadership capabilities of the current ANC collective in any case and consequently they are not being honest in their evaluation. Our responsibility is to organize our people so that they can see this agenda for what it is: another attempt to stop the election of a particular candidate we are all told incessantly not to like, not to trust and that he cant lead, period.

This time around however the attempt is more sophisticated. It plays to people`s emotions and seeks to focus on the very real issues and problems on which we are all agreed are a challenge that requires to be tackled. While we are all agreed that things are tough, it is incorrect to blame a particular leader for the systemic challenges in the South African economy and society at large. Framed in such emotional terms this flawed narrative can appeal to ordinary folk who find themselves stranded in poverty.

But what concerns us here is the use of the downgrading of South Africa`s credit ratings by several ratings agencies, including Moody`s. This sub-narrative is being used to corroborate the main storyline about the crisis of leadership.

Let us recall that the same agency also downgraded South Africa in the run up to the 52nd ANC Conference in Polokwane. At that time the downgrade was used to tell the nation, and ANC members going to Polokwane, not to vote for a particular candidate. Same line, same agency, same papers, same ANC delegates. Why must they listen to it this time around?

The reason why this view will not gain traction among ANC delegates is because the news and comment feed we`ve been given has not been completely candid about the exact root cause of the problems confronting society. It has framed the news in such a way that the leadership of the ANC is seen as the scapegoat and not the actual system of Capitalism, which is undergoing one of its deepest and most prolonged crisis. Worldwide the result of the crisis has meant that more and more people are out of work, more and more people are getting poor while a tiny minority remains filthy rich. The structural deficiencies of our economy have not been properly elaborated on for people to understand the need for a radical structural shift in economic policy.

In narrowing the argument, mainly driven by an elitist irritation with the president the press has also failed to look at the credibility of rating agencies such as Moody`s, the very same agency which gave triple A ratings to the large American Banks who, by their reckless trading, were in fact at the root of the current financial crises faced by the capitalist economies of advanced countries. For example Moody`s gave Lehman Brothers a triple-A rating only a few months before the mortgage company collapsed.

The question of who is actually behind Moody`s has never been critically engaged with in our country or by the media generally. Warren Buffet`s Berkshire Hathaway, Fidelity, State Street, Blackrock and Morgan Stanley Investment are just a few of Moody`s shareholders. These are indeed the worlds biggest fund mangers that are using Moody`s to influence the market so as to increase their share value and profits. Their perceptions and views about South Africa are not class neutral or politically disinterested.

In reality they represent the crudest form of capital trying to use its muscle and its institutions that are so tightly linked to the system of global governance to dictate terms to liberation movements and government all in an effort to shape and influence respective economic policy adopted in countries such as SA.

So why should we now be persuaded to trust Moody`s? And why is there a complete blackout of the investigations in the US and in Europe into the role of rating agencies in plunging those economies into the abyss they find themselves in today? Rating agencies are nothing but the creation of a capitalist system that needed to concoct confidence in its financialisation project and fictitious growth of economies.

It is this inability to be critical when telling the South African story that should always lead us to reading the pessimistic messages with caution. It is this blindness to the reality of who and what Moody`s serves that shows the class leaning of our own media.

Our determination to radically transform the systemic features of the South African economy will never receive any positive feedback from Moody`s or other rating agencies. So let`s not lose focus!

Let us focus on mobilizing the working class and our people to focus on our five priorities and the struggle to transform the growth path that sharks like Moody`s have been profiting from.

Malesela Maleka is a member of the NC and NWC of the Young Communist League and SACP Spokesperson


An attack on the NUM is an attack on COSATU, and an attack on COSATU is an attack on the SACP

SACP solidarity message at the workers` rally in Rustenburg, 27 October 2012

By Blade Nzimande, General Secretary

I have been sent here by the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party. And why are we here today? We have in the first instance come to express and show our solidarity with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) which is under a huge counter-revolutionary attack especially in this platinum belt of South. Africa. Through this solidarity we are also protecting a decades long, close and joint relationship between South African communists and especially black mineworkers. In fact being here is also to defend our own work as communists in organizing mineworkers in our country. Long Live the memory of JB Marks, who was both the President of the African Mineworkers Union and Chairman of the Communist Party of South Africa in the 1940`s.

The SACP is also here today in expression of solidarity with the legitimate struggles of mineworkers for a living wage and a decent social wage. We have also come to express our solidarity with the families who have lost their loved ones through the tragic events at Marikana and in other nearby areas. We express our condolences to the families of all the workers who have died here, both before, during and after the events of 16 August 2012. As the SACP we reject one-sided emphasis on the workers who died in the hands of the police and exclude those killed by a counter-revolutionary and criminal element both before and after those who died in the hands of the police. All workers`s lives are equally important and we must not have selective emphasis in this regard.

We have also come here in solidarity with and in defense of our ally, COSATU. As the SACP we have been working on the ground in this area and we are very familiar with the challenges facing the NUM and COSATU here. We want to make it categorically clear that an attack on the NUM is an attack on COSATU, and an attack on COSATU is an attack on the SACP!

We also wish to take this opportunity to strongly condemn the behavior of the mining bosses, for they must take the blame for the super-exploitation of mineworkers; as well as for their attempts to divide and weaken the NUM. Some of the mining bosses are directly responsible for founding and funding the union AMCU as an attempt to build a sweetheart union that will replace the NUM.

The SACP also condemns the violence and criminality directed mainly at the NUM and we call upon the law enforcement agencies to do all they can to apprehend these perpetrators. We call upon our structures to form and strengthen community policing forums (CPFs). But in addition the SACP specifically calls for the formation of committees to defend mineworkers and mining communities, by working closely with the police to identify and apprehend the murderers and intimidators.

The SACP further condemns oMafikizolo (Johhnny come latelies) who call themselves socialists, and opportunistically trying to build their non-existent political organizations on the back of the blood of the workers of Marikana.

We must also condemn the political demagogues, some of whom expelled from our organisations, who are trying to exploit the circumstances of workers to try and revive their political fortunes. Any SACP member found working with these renegades and demagogues will be immediately expelled from the ranks of our Party. We also call upon our Alliance structures to do the same.

The SACP therefore calls upon workers in the mining industry not to be misled by all these opportunists and demagogues. They will always leave workers in the lurch as these have no interests in the welfare of workers as we have always pointed out. Instead we call upon mineworkers to join the NUM as the only genuine union that is best cable to represent the interests of mineworkers. If NUM members have problems with the union, yes they should certainly raise these for purposes of addressing them inside the union and not to walk away from the NUM.

The SACP calls upon COSATU and all it`s affiliates to close ranks and to ensure that none of us are fooled by the demagogues and opportunism.

Today, I have seen for myself extreme acts of provocation by these rank opportunists - burning NUM and COSATU t-shirts, seriously assaulting NUM members, trying to disrupt our activities today and even to physically try to attack our marchers. Indeed the police were correct to use rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse these elements. In my deployment in government I will indeed report to the Executive what I saw today and emphasize the need for particular attention to be paid into this area. I will watch very closely how the media report today`s events as I was also an eye witness!

I wish to conclude by thanking the COSATU members present here today for their discipline, restraint and refusal to be provoked. Indeed we are here dealing with a counter-revolutionary element which has absolutely nothing to lose. Remember, we have our unions to protect, our federation to defend, an Alliance to strengthen and a country to run!


I sense the sentiment of an heir apparent obsessed with the politics of the incumbency

By Justice Pitso

I refer myself to the lecture delivered by our former President of the ANC and the government of the republic of South Africa Cde Thabo Mbeki during the occasion to mark the centenary anniversary celebrations of our national liberation movement, at the university of Fort Hare in the province of the Eastern Cape. Our country and the people of the continent and the world are celebrating the hallmark achievements of the hundred years of the relentless struggles led by the African National Congress against the forces of imperialism and colonialism of a special type.

We are celebrating the titanic achievements and heroic struggles led by the oldest liberation movement in the continent and probably the whole world. We use the occasion of this rare moment to celebrate the glorious chapters and unbroken record of rich history of struggles led by our people for their own freedom and equality. We use the opportunity of the occasion of the celebration of the year of the centenary to cherish the heroism and the collective leadership that has over the years with unwavering determination steered the unity of our movement to this day.

We count ourselves on the milestone achievements of the years of insurmountable struggles waged by the people of our country and the continent against the forces of oppression and exploitation. The memories and heroic contribution of the sons and daughters of our motherland who sacrificed their own lives for the noble cause of the freedom and dignity of our people will forever inspire our future generations to come.

The historic mission of our national liberation movement since its foundation in 1912 has been to engage in the common struggles led by the world progressive movement to create a new world social order and more particularly to lead our struggles for the national liberation of the black people of our country in general and the African people in particular, against the vestige of oppression and exploitation by imperialism and apartheid colonialism.

Inspired by the scientific theoretical perspectives of the international working class movement, our national liberation movement has always being at the heart of the worldwide struggles of the working class solidarity and internationalism. Our movement over time comprehended the theoretical thrust that the struggles by the people of our country for national liberation has always being part of the struggles of the oppressed people of the world to emancipate themselves from the bondage of imperialism and colonial domination.

Therefore our world theoretical outlook is derived from our analysis of the balance of forces, of understanding the dialectical relationship between the class content of our national struggles and the national content of our class struggles. The internationalist character of our struggles against the oppression and the exploitation of the vast majority of the people of our country by the apartheid colonial system derive its premise from this perspective.

In 1928 the Comintern took a resolution to characterize South Africa as a British dominion of a special type. The resolution called for the establishment of a native republic with full and equal rights to all races. This profound theoretical perspective was as a result of the understanding that the South African nation did not only suffer from the capitalist exploitation and imperialist domination but also from racial discrimination.

On the impact of the exploitative capitalist relations on the South African society the resolution states"

"British capital continues to occupy the principal economic positions in the country and ... the South African bourgeoisie is equally interested in the merciless exploitation of the Negro population. On the basis of this growth of capitalism there is a growing tendency to expropriate the land of the Negroes and from a certain section of the White farming population. The South African bourgeoisie is endeavouring also by legislative means to create a cheap market of labour power and a reserve army."

The British imperialism occupied the principal commanding heights of our economy through its symbiotic relationship with the South African bourgeoisie. The point we are driving is that the division of the South African nation into the oppressed and the oppressor nations by the racist apartheid colonial regime hatched the character of the South African economy and therefore the form and content of our struggles to resolve our national, class and gender contradictions.

We equally appreciate the profound decision by the collective leadership of the national executive committee of the ANC to use the opportunity of the year of the centenary, to acknowledge the historic contribution by our heroes and heroines of our struggles, who over the years have been bestowed with the leadership responsibilities of being the Presidents of our movement. Their immeasurable contribution to the cause of the struggles for the liberation of our people will always be cherished by the generations of mankind to come.

Cde OR Tambo has been the most exemplary and loyal servant of our national liberation movement who led the struggles for the emancipation of our people with the greatest sense of humility. He represents the most distinguished generation of extraordinary and rare quality caliber of leaders our movement has ever produced in the period of the hundred years of its existence. Cde OR was indeed an embodiment of the true values, culture and traditions of our movement for national liberation.

More importantly Cde OR would have never attempted to refer the leadership of our movement as a moribund faction incapable of advancing the objectives of our national democratic revolution. He would have never attempted to cast aspersions on the collective wisdom of the elected leadership of our movement and therefore the people of our country. He would have immediately understand that the holier than thou attitude is the antithesis of the revolutionary ethos of our movement.

The Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin once said ` we must fight against the revolutionary phrase, we have to fight it, we absolutely must fight it, so that at some future time people will not say of us the bitter truth that a revolutionary phrase about revolutionary war ruined the revolution`.

He further said that ` such architects of counter-revolution are their own profound masters in the attempt to misrepresent the preface and theory of our party".

"Questions must be raised sharply and things given their proper names, the danger being that otherwise irreparable harm may be done to the party and the revolution".

The theoretical expression of the concept revolutionary phrasing refers to a tendency to repeat revolutionary slogans irrespective of their relevance to the concrete objective conditions in a particular given historic moment, of the turn of events in the cause of advancing the cause for the attainment of the objectives of our national democratic revolution. Such a tendency thrives by abusing platforms afforded by the movement to listen to it instead of the wishes and aspirations of the people they represent.

Cde Vladimir Lenin was making a clarion call to all revolutionaries and genuine members of his party to implore their collective effort to cease the phenomenal of opportunism and wave of revolutionary phrasing which at the time had the propensity to tear his party apart. Hundred years later after the clarion call by Cde Vladimir Lenin, the movement he so much dedicated his time to change its posture and character, His movement the ANC, is at the virtual verge of an extinction posed by the peril of the same syndrome.

In our memories of the recent times our movement has been confronted by a venomous tendency from within its own rank and file, of individual members elevating their individual voices to supersede and counterpose the collective decisions of our democratically elected leadership of our organization. Our task therefore is nothing else but to eradicate this pandemic penetrating the marrow of our movement at the velocity higher than that of our national democratic revolution itself.

Events of history have over the years proven that counter-revolution by its nature and character would not announce its arrival. But the instances of such an unparalleled determination by our former President to undermine the collective wisdom of the leadership of our movement during his lecture are an act of defiance and insubordination to the dictates of our constitution. It is a wake up alarm to all revolutionaries that the footsteps of those who serve the enemy of our national democratic revolution are nearing our doorsteps.

I personally have the utmost respect to our former President as amongst the best of our sons and daughters and the most outstanding revolutionary thinkers our movement has ever produced. But I feel at unease about his levels of misrepresentation of the truth about the state of our organization and the overall direction of our national democratic revolution. I sense the sentiments of an heir apparent obsessed with the politics of the incumbency.

The tasks of our national democratic revolution will require of him not to be an armchair revolutionary as he stands to be, but an all round revolutionary leader of our movement capable of demonstrating his leadership qualities at any given moment in the life of our organization. We will refuse any attempt to use the young generation of our country as a repository to erode the fundamental values and traditions that has guided our movement in its hundred years of its existence.

Cde President OR will have used the opportunity of the lecture to make our young people at the university of Fort Hare and elsewhere in the country comprehend the complexities of the hostile world socio economic circumstances and the extent of the negative impact they impose on our daily life.

Indeed the present hostile world balance of forces require our dedicated effort to nurture a caliber of young leaders of tomorrow capable of taking forward the tasks of our national democratic revolution into the next century. Our young generation needs to be embedded in the traditions of high organizational discipline, respect and determination to defend the unity and cohesion of their glorious movement and our people.

I am confident that Cde President OR would have inspired our young leaders of tomorrow of the university of Fort Hare to grasp the necessary tools of analysis to understand the cause and effect of the concrete material conditions in the rough edges of our vicinity. He would have nourished them with the necessary knowledge to make out of them responsible future leaders, who will devote themselves to preserve and protect our glorious movement, which has become a monument and reservoir of the history of liberation struggles in our country and the continent. The difficult moments of our times do not necessitate any one of us to instigate our young people to see it fashionable to throw all sorts of insults to the leadership of our movement, our people and their own future.

One of our fundamental revolutionary principles that distinguish our revolutionary movement from the rest is our noble tradition with regard to our strategic theoretical approach to leadership question. Thou we recognize the role of individuals in history; our leadership perspective is derived from the notion of the collective responsibility of the masses of our people as the makers of their own history. The reason why historical circumstances make it incumbent of us to give our unwavering support to all elected leaders of our movement, irrespective of our personal choice.

One of the most prominent representatives of the contemporary historical science in France, Jacques Manod would always say "Historians are too much in the habit of paying attention only to the brilliant, clamorous and ephemeral manifestations of human activity, to great events and great men, instead of depicting the great and slow changes of economic conditions and social institutions, which constitute the really interesting and intrallsient part of human development - the part which, to a certain extent, may be reduced to laws and subjected, to a certain extent, to exact analysis."

Indeed, important events and individuals are important precisely as signs and symbols of different moments of the aforesaid development. But most of the events that are called historical have the same relation to real history as the waves which rise up from the surface of the sea, gleam in the light for a moment and break on the sandy shore, leaving no trace behind them, have to the deep and constant motion of the tides."

I borrow the words of Jacques Manod because of their rich theoretical depth on the definition of the role of an individual in the making of history. Because if the ANC would have elevated the role of the individual than the masses of our people in the making of our history, surely we would not have made the substantial progress and achievements of our struggles for the attainment of the noble objectives of our national democratic revolution.

Throughout the hundred years of the rich history of our struggles led by our movement for national liberation, our collective leadership and the people of our country have always affirmed the strategic objectives of our national democratic revolution as the liberation of the black people in general and the African people in particular. Our historic mission has been and remains to be construction of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.

Our theoretical perspective has always been to relate the consequences of the world problems of poverty, disease and underdevelopment to the declarations of the Berlin conference of 1848. There have been always a dialectical interaction of the different historical moments our movement has to traverse over its hundred years of existence, to the daily concrete material conditions we from time to time find ourselves. It will therefore not be correct to relate ourselves to specific moments of the life of our national liberation movement without a proper historical context.

It will be imperative that our analysis appreciates many such factors like the challenges imposed by the three and half centuries legacy of imperialism on our people, the collapse of the Soviet bloc that ushered in the unipolar world realities, the subsequent triumphalism of the Washington consensus, the deepening global financial and economic crisis and how they accelerated the increased contradictions of the legacy of colonialism of a special type prevalent in our society.

We should however not hesitate to appreciate the magnitude and scale of the challenges and achievements our movement has to traverse, over the period of decades of struggles for the liberation of our people against oppression and exploitation by the forces of imperialism and colonialism. Our movement is building a solid foundation to advance the interests and wishes of our people into the next hundred years and beyond.

It is mind boggling of our former President Cde Thabo Mbeki to consciously distort our collective perspective on the analysis of our international and domestic balance of forces and the rate at which they impact on the current phase of our national democratic revolution.

The pace of our usage of revolutionary phrasing, of some of the ANC leaders dancing on the roof like a chorus of political analysts, of armchair critics and revolutionaries and the determination to breach the core values of our collective responsibility, if not properly attended, will collapse our national liberation movement into dustbins of political history.

There is a growing tendencies from amongst the sections of some of the disgruntled members of the ANC joining the voice of the opposition parties, especially the Democratic Alliance, to hold the leadership of our movement responsible for the unbearable hostile contradictions, of the socio economic challenges emanating from the three and half centuries of the legacy of imperialism and colonialism of a special type.

The underlying statement by our former President during his lecture was to present a false conspiracy theory that the present collective leadership of our movement lacks the necessary expertise and capabilities, to lead our movement and the people of our country, into the turbulences of the current phase of our national democratic revolution.

The conspiracy is to depict a picture of a movement in a pandemic state of a general crisis, of a movement in the hands of a particular caliber of a leadership incapable of taking forward the objectives of our NDR, and a movement at a virtual edge of a perpetual paralysis. Revolutionaries do not lead their own people into despair, but they are always the source of hope and inspiration.

On the contrary even if the challenges may be immense, with objective conditions posing particular challenges in the cause of our struggles to achieve the noble goals of our revolution, our determination to consolidate on the unity and cohesion of our movement and the people, will serve as a barometer to measure our commitment to change the living conditions of our people for the better.

With his enduring humility and unwavering attitude of hope expected out of any revolutionary, from his graveside, Cde President OR would have advice us to extent our hands to the generosity of the heroic people of Angola and the revolutionary leadership of the MPLA. The Angolan soil is the epicenter of the struggles for liberation of our continent and more particularly the Southern African region. We will always be inspired by their exemplary leadership to overcome and triumph over the forces of oppression and exploitation.

I am equally at unease and troubled by the distortions of the true historical facts about the people of Angola and their revolutionary leadership of the MPLA. The truth remains to be that the leadership of the MPLA has been able to turn a backward and typical third world African country into a modern economy within a short period of more or less ten years, after thirty years of aggression and civil war that destroyed the entire economic infrastructure of the country and the social life of its people.

The ANC is like the river Nile it has the capacity to cleanse itself

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