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RED ALERT
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Umsebenzi Online


Volume 11, No. 45, 6 December 2012

In this Issue:

 

Red Alert

A Key Challenge for Mangaung - consolidating a progressive, developmental mineral resources policy

By Jeremy Cronin, SACP 1st Deputy General Secretary

In the media the ANC’s forthcoming Mangaung National Conference is about little more than leadership elections. Leadership elections are, of course, important. The SACP trusts that the ANC will emerge stronger and more unified. But unity needs to be forged not just around leadership collectives, but also and especially around a progressive policy package.

A key component of such a policy package is a much more decisive mineral resources policy. SA is sitting on top of the most abundant mineral resources in the world (if you exclude oil and gas). But for more than a century, the manner in which our minerals have been exploited has been a curse for most – producing enormous wealth and power for a few, but a skewed growth path and dire under-development for the majority.

The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act marked an important step forward, proclaiming that the minerals in the ground were not private property but the heritage of all South Africans to be held in custodianship by government. This was an important move, but its full potential is far from being carried forward decisively.

This is where the ANC-commissioned “State Intervention in the Mining Sector” (SIMS) document becomes absolutely critical. The SIMS document shifts the debate away from sloganeering and posturing. It is an extensively researched and lengthy document – partly for this reason, and partly because of the cacophony surrounding the debate on mining, its key proposals have often got lost. As the SACP we believe that it is absolutely crucial that the ANC’s Mangaung conference revisits and adopts the broad principles of the SIMS document proposals – for this reason we summarise below the ELEVEN KEY PILLARS of the SIMS strategy.

Pillar One: The key strategic objective of state intervention into the mineral sector

In the first place it is important to clarify what our overall STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE is in bringing state intervention to bear on the sector. For SIMS, correctly, our key objective should be to maximise the developmental impact of minerals through labour absorbing growth, by capturing resource rents and investing in long-term physical infrastructure, skills development, and industrialisation through backward and forward linkages. To do this, we need to locate the mining sector at the heart of our growth and development strategy. Minerals are our strongest comparative advantage, our only natural resource sector that is exceptional in global terms.

(Note that SIMS does NOT see state intervention in this sector to be primarily about facilitating BEE ownership – this, unfortunately, has often been the dominant reality in the recent past. Nor is state intervention about pursuing some arbitrary passive state ownership quota for its own sake – as if a 60% state ownership were necessarily more “progressive” than a 20% stake.)

Pillar Two: Setting up a state mining corporation (SMC)

However, strategic state ownership IS important. There is a general agreement within the ANC and in government that we should set up a STATE MINING CORPORATION. SIMS proposes that this State Mining Corporation should initially be capitalised by transferring appropriate capacity and state mineral holdings from, for instance, the IDC in particular (including its stakes in SASOL Mining, AMSA, Impala, Merafe, etc.), as well as mineral holdings in the Central Energy Fund, and elsewhere in the public sector.

But what is the purpose of a State Mining Corporation?

Pillar Three - The core mandate of the State Mining Corporation

The State Mining Corporation should focus on strategic minerals (in partnership with other investors if necessary) in order to supply these minerals into the domestic market at competitive or “utility” prices. For example, coal for our power stations, or iron ore and manganese for local steel manufacturing cannot be priced (as they often are at present) as if they had been imported from half-way around the world.

Pillar Four - The State Mining Corporation’s ownership model

Several countries use a combination of state and pension schemes to control key mining companies (eg. Brazil with Vale and Petrobras). In SA there are already many examples where both the public sector and trade union pension funds have significant holdings in major mining companies. However, the trade union pension holdings are generally managed by private sector fund managers – giving little scope for direct strategic influence by unions. SIMS proposes that trade unions should pool their mineral holdings with the state’s holdings in a Special Purpose Vehicle, which could then exercise a significant strategic influence on mining companies.

Pillar Five - What about Broad-Based BEE and a State Owned Mining Company?

At present, there is no alignment between B-BBEE in mining and the idea of public ownership. But, as the SIMS document notes, “state holdings are ultimately owned by the people and arguably constitute the most Broad-Based BEE holdings possible.” We couldn’t agree more – in fact there is nothing arguable about it. Currently the Mining Charter calls for a 26% B-B BEE shareholding in all mining operations. The SIMS document proposes instead that the Mining Charter be amended so that the target could be 30% for a combined state and B-B BEE stake. The state holdings would include IDC, PIC, SMC, Eskom and other public sector investments in mining. This might well lower the percentage BEE stake, but it would certainly increase the strategic role of the public sector and of a truly broad-based empowerment approach.

Pillar Six - How to locate the governance of mining assets

The SIMS document notes that almost all states that have managed to leverage long-term sustainable industrialisation and development out of their mineral assets have NOT had a stand-alone government mining department. Norway, for instance, has a Directorate of Mines and a Geological Survey entity within their Department of Trade and Industry.  To overcome the long-standing “dis-articulation” in SA, in which the mining sector has reigned supreme over the rest of the economy, the SIMS document recommends the idea of an economic “super-ministry”, housing mining along with economic development and trade and industry.  We are not sure how time-consuming and practical such institutional restructuring would be here in SA at this point. However, the underlying point is valid. We need to institutionally integrate the Mineral Resources Department much more effectively within an overall economic governance capacity and discipline.

Pillar Seven - An innovative approach to granting mineral rights for known deposits – auctioning

Here the SIMS document makes a relatively innovative proposal.  Extracting a natural resource on a sizeable industrial scale typically costs hundreds of billions of rands. For this reason states (even socialist states like Cuba) require private investors for part or even all of the operational investments. But how does the state still ensure that the public gets the best deal possible?

In the case of proven oil and gas deposits, it has become common internationally for states to arrange a public tender (or auction) for the right to extract. With a well-designed tender, bidders compete on the tax rate they are prepared to pay, and on contractual commitments they make to linkages (both in the local sourcing of inputs into their mining operation and in the pricing of mining outputs for local beneficiation, for instance). They also compete on investment commitments into training, research and development.

Here in SA, we have begun to use public tendering in these ways with, for instance, our major procurement of rolling stock for Metrorail – but we are NOT doing this with our massive mineral resources. And yet SA is fairly well geologically surveyed, and therefore the private mining corporations have a good idea of the value of the resources in the ground.  In other words, in many cases, there is no major risk in terms of known deposits to investors opening up a new mine. It is imperative that we now strongly consider public tendering (or auctioning) of mining rights with well-structured requirements to get best long-term and sustainable value.

Sadly the horse has already bolted in many cases - a large number of “new order” mining rights have been given away. As the SIMS document notes: “Unfortunately, although the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act transferred ownership of minerals [in the ground] to the nation, the known unexploited deposits were subsequently given away for nothing (…on a ‘first-in-first-assessed’ basis) with no attempt at maximising the development impact and job creation.”

For this reason, SIMS also recommends retrospective action through:

Pillar Eight - A Presidentially-appointed Mineral Rights Audit Commission

In line with the MPRDA, SA has undergone a massive conversion from “old order rights” (i.e. where private mining companies “owned” the minerals in the ground) to “new order rights” (where the minerals belong to all South Africans and are held in custodianship by the state). However, the process of conversion was fraught with major irregularities.

In many cases, private mining companies were sitting passively on top of “old order” known mineral deposits. They were simply keeping out competition without actively mining. This was especially the case with most of the Bushveld platinum mineral group and chromium. In Brazil, when private rights are not actively mined they are lapsed and auctioned. This was not done in SA when we converted from old to new order rights.

According to SIMS: “The wholesale handing out of our nation’s known unexploited mineral assets (old order dormant rights), probably cost SA several hundred thousand jobs…In order to reclaim at least some of the people’s mineral assets that were recklessly given away, our President needs to establish a Presidential Mineral Rights Audit Commission to carry out a forensic audit on the granting of all New Order Rights…”

Pillar Nine - What about lesser known mineralised areas?

SIMS argues correctly that where less is known about mineral deposits these should be reserved for the State Mining Company and a publicly-owned Central Geological Survey. These public entities should then develop such areas for either public tender (as proposed above) or state mining once the value of the resource is better known.

Pillar Ten: A Resource Rent Tax (RRT)

A Resource Rent Tax (RRT) – also known as a “super-profits” tax, or a “windfall profits” tax - is a central pillar of the SIMS package.

Currently, mining operations are taxed through Mineral Royalties on production (turnover, revenue, or sales). Mineral royalties are a blunt instrument for the mining sector because they fail to take into account the diverse conditions of different operations with different grades of ore and different costs. They therefore often increase the cut-off point at which mining becomes uneconomic, sterilising mineral assets and losing jobs in the process. But Royalties also miss out on the massive revenue potential to the state in times of mineral boom.

So what is a Resource Rent Tax? It is a tax on the difference between the extraction costs of a mineral, plus a “normal” return, on the one hand, and exceptional (or super, windfall) profits on the other hand. SIMS argues: “it is proposed that we introduce a resource rent tax that only triggers in once the investor has made a reasonable return, consequently such a tax would not deter investors, particularly for marginal deposits or deposits with average returns.”

However, once returns exceed average or “normal” returns, a RRT could be set at a reasonably high rate – SIMS proposes 50% on these super-profits.

Pillar Eleven - A Sovereign Wealth Fund

However, it is not just a question of capturing these huge potential rents for the state, it is also critical that they are re-invested to maximise long-term development, including for future generations after the mineral resource is exhausted.

In line with the New Growth Plan, SIMS proposes that we should establish a “sovereign wealth fund” using the revenue captured through the RRT. Although SA has massive mineral reserves, mining extracts a non-renewable resource. Sooner or later the resource is exhausted, mining jobs are lost, and, without investment and development, mining centres become ghost towns. This is why countries that have successfully leveraged their mineral resources for long-term sustainable development have often used mining revenues to set up a ring-fenced “sovereign wealth fund”.

A sovereign wealth fund can also be used to counter the dangers of “Dutch Disease” – a chronic challenge in economies dependent, like our own, on mineral exports. Basically, the “Dutch Disease” is triggered by a mineral boom. The boom results in the value of the local currency appreciating. This makes manufactured exports uncompetitive. And so you get a vicious cycle – instead of a mineral boom fuelling industrialisation, it undermines it. To counter this “disease” a sovereign wealth fund can be used to “off-shore” savings, investing outside of the country.

SIMS recommends three funding windows for a South African Sovereign Wealth Fund:

  • A fiscal stabilisation fund to reduce revenue instability in times of mineral price falls;
  • A regional development fund to invest in Southern African infrastructure to promote regional trade and industrialisation – in this way “off-shoring” some of the Resource Revenue to counter the “Dutch Disease” risk; and
  • A minerals development fund – to invest in discovery and development of new mineral assets, in management of mineral assets, in industrial zones beneficiating minerals, as well as in mineral related skills and technology development.

There are many other important proposals in the SIMS document – but we believe that these 11 pillars are critical to developing a coherent and decisive strategic approach to our massive mineral resources. The ANC’s Mangaung Conference presents us with a critical opportunity to consolidate this package of proposals, without which a radical second phase of the NDR will be a pipe-dream.

 

Remarks on events following our statement on Former Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson

Immediately following the sad news of the passing away of former Chief Justice, Arthur Chaskalson, on Saturday December 1, the SACP issued a statement saluting this outstanding South African. In the statement the SACP said that Chaskalson had served in the SACP underground in the 1960s and that he had also been part of the SACP team at the CODESA multi-party negotiations. This statement has led to an outburst of Cold War, reds-under-beds recidivism in the usual quarters, notably the internet site, Politicsweb.

We have since been contacted by Chaskalson’s close, long-standing colleague, Advocate George Bizos. Bizos has informed us that in the mid-1960s, Advocate Bram Fischer (whom no-one disputes WAS an underground SACP member) advised both Bizos and Chaskalson not to become involved in the underground structures of our movement. According to Bizos, Fischer felt that the legal role the two were playing and their ability to provide support to detainees, prisoners and their families should not be compromised. We have, of course, no reason to doubt what Bizos has now told us.

The SACP statement on Saturday about Chaskalson’s role in the 1960s was based on information provided to us by, amongst others, the late cde Joe Slovo. It is possible that we misunderstood what was meant when Slovo, more than once, proudly said that “Arthur Chaskalson worked with us in the 1960s”.

As to Chaskalson’s involvement in CODESA, we can confirm that Chaskalson began his participation in the multi-party negotiations process as a member of the SACP team – he did so both diligently and willingly. This did not mean that he was a card-carrying Party member.

The SACP is immensely proud of our association with Arthur Chaskalson, and we are proud of the outstanding democratic Constitution that he played such a large role in helping to develop and consolidate. In late January this year, Chaskalson delivered an important talk to a law workshop at UCT in which he actively debunked the notion that our 1996 Constitution was somehow an impediment to radical transformation, as if it were a narrow 19th century liberal document designed simply to limit the state and protect private property. He correctly traced the origins of our Constitution to the traditions of the liberation struggle, including the 1955 Freedom Charter and the 1989 Harare Declaration.

In asserting pride in our historic association with both Chaskalson and the values of our 1996 democratic Constitution, the SACP is, of course, not claiming any kind of private ownership over either the former Chief Justice or the Constitution. But we are, certainly, seeking to debunk the myth advanced by a whole host of conservative, latter-day “democrats” who are seeking to dumb-down our Constitution by actively drawing a veil over the hard-won struggle values embedded within it. 

 

Media’s interpretation of its independence - do we need to bring back this debate?

(This article was submitted to Politcsweb but was never published)

By Njabulo Duma

Does media; print media in particular, have to be so negative and attacking on everything in order to prove their "independence"?

I must admit that I (like many others) know very little about journalism as a subject but day and night my life continues to be affected by the output of journalism through daily news.

I am a beneficiary of the history of this country and some sections of this history have it that during the epoch of apartheid, the strength of liberation struggle relied on, amongst other things, two specific things: common enemy and media. The common enemy was the terrible apartheid system that was hell-bent on oppressing certain sections of the society (black people) based on race and creed and this history states that the liberation movement was united against this "enemy". The media of course assisted this process by, amongst other things, unearthing and spreading these acts of humiliation and discrimination that this section of the society continued to be subjected to. This media role assisted in drawing uproar from all the corners of the world. Certain sections of this history further state that powerful media houses then were owned by white people but ironically had few black journalists employed (those are Mojalefa Moseki`s of this noble land and many others). Some black and white journalists assisted in unearthing these humiliating acts of the apartheid system which further mobilized the people against this "enemy".

It is common knowledge that after the liberation struggle was won, there was very little (if anything) to continue to fight for. But would it happen that those who were involved in the struggle (freedom fighters) still "literally" had weapons in their hands and their minds were still in a state of liberation struggle? Even as they proceeded to the Union Buildings (to run the country) after the victory of the April 1994 elections, they still remained freedom fighters, "literally" caring all whatever they used to fight for our freedom with, in their hands? Perhaps this may be a debate for another day. Could they govern and administer the country with all that in their hands and liberation-war state of mind? Especially when not many of them had been trained governors and administrators. Interestingly the leadership of this country became stable after 1994, proving all the "prophets of lies", who had predicted downfall of the country under the black government, wrong.

Given the above, would it be wrong to think that during the early days of our democracy, media (like many of our elders who were also figuring out how to govern the country) were still trying to figure out how it is like to work in a democratic state? Effectively this meant that not only our government was still accumulating experience in the governance and administration of the country, media too were still accumulating experience in terms of how to conduct its affairs in a democratic state. The difference is that governors and administrators change every 5 years but journalists remain the same.

Is corruption really at these worrying levels for the first time or it is just media being too much experienced now to "skillfully" uncover such acts (at the risk of sounding mad) than they were during 1994 and shortly after that? Even the watchdogs and oversight initiatives (Scopa, parliamentary oversight committees, active citizenry, active opposition, etc.) were still not very clued up about uncovering and reporting on governance deficiency in the running of our noble country.

It is common knowledge that Corruption Perception Index (amongst many measures) is "largely" based on people`s perceptions which in turn are based on their consumption of media reports. Don`t get me wrong, I am not for once, contesting the existence of the "cancerous scourge" of corruption in our country or discounting the seriousness of same, it exists and it needs to be dealt with as such. However, does it need to be presented in such an "unbalanced" manner? I have always wondered why if any act of wrongdoing has been uncovered, the manner of reporting is "there is too much corruption in government". Why is there no "there are good checks and balances in our governance system to be able to uncover such unwarranted acts". I appreciate that such acts should never have existed in the first place, but is it not helpful to balance both sides?

It saddens me to see our liberation movement being blackmailed by media under the name of "media independence", effectively the society being subjected into "negative reporting" under the name of the same "media independence" so much. What is this "media independence"? I am tempted to declare that perhaps the African National Congress`s (ANC) common enemy this time around is not the Democratic Alliance (DA) or COPE, but it is the "media`s interpretation of its independence".

It is not clear how "independence" of media was defined then, but I know that it can`t be what the media houses "portray it to be" this time around. It is a pity because the extent of rot (corruption) in the private sector (where the dominance of a particular race - white is common) is reportedly equally worrying (Transparency International) but not reported as such by these media houses. Is the media`s idea to interprete its "independence" supposed to be in a way that portrays a particular race as incompetent in governance?

It further saddens me that I have to wake up everyday with negative reporting. I am not convinced that only bad news constitute "news" in terms of this country`s definition of "media independence". I fail to believe that it is only "bad news" available for reporting in this country everyday. I fail to believe that being pessimistic and attacking on every initiative undertaken in this country to create better life for all constitutes "media independence". I personally have witnessed for a considerable amount of time, deliberate acts of "bad news reporting" in my own noble country. The recent case in point was the president`s "new package of addressing economic uncertainties in the country". This package consisted of a few initiatives, one of which was the "idea of freezing salaries" of senior corporate athletes. Again "media independence" informed media houses to omit all the other elements of the package and only "report on salary freeze", which even the manner of reporting suggested that the idea was "absolute madness". All what is positive is "thrown into the inside pages on small articles", the only positive that enjoy the status of front pages consists of a "but" just so that the negative is emphasised.

Are we not being robbed of information so that we can make up our own minds? Is it not then a clear agenda on the side of media houses to create a state of "doom" in the land of our forefathers? The questioning of the credibility of the figures of the Census enjoyed the front pages more that the content of the census report itself. The "perceived" fights in the ruling party are enjoying more front pages than the content of its policies by which South Africans will be affected. These are just amongst many approaches as per South African "media independence".

The "media independence" is media that is "free from overarching interference" particularly from the state. Now in South African terms, is "media independence" the fact that everyday the society must be subjected to negative reporting, even if there is something positive to report on? Is "media independence" in South African terms the fact that everyday the society must loose confidence in its own country? Is "media independence" in South African terms the fact that government`s achievements as it runs this country must be consistently and consciously shot down? Who am I to tell media what to report on? I also know that media must amass profits, but should this be at the expense of hope of the South African people? I fail to believe that the state of affairs is as bad as "media independence" in South African terms has it. Don`t get me wrong, I know things are bad, but are they at the level the society is made to believe?

The ANC`s opposition is "media`s interpretation of its independence". When the ANC proposed a "Media Appeals Tribunal" (perhaps some of my queries would have enjoyed the status of the sitting of this structure) it was shot down as a "threat to the independence of the media". There were reports that were attributed to the former CEO of the GCIS in terms of where he had proposed a "state`s publication that would report on the successes of this noble land", such a proposal was also reportedly shot down. I don`t want to dwell into the details of these initiatives and how they were going to help this situation, but something in me says that these initiatives appreciated the fact that the opposition to the ANC is "media`s interpretation of its independence" and that "media independence" in South Africa is about "bad news", respectively.

I have witnessed of late, the standard of reporting deteriorating to its lowest levels just because there has to be a link with "Mangaung" (City Press, Sowetan and Business Day are but a few). What this does is that we do not only find ourselves having to deal with negative reports everyday and the fact that our country is judged based on these negative reports, but also some of the media houses have continued to utilise their own platforms to consciously and deliberately be negative and attack other people (Sowetan amongst others). I am certainly not dealing with the "quality of reporting" or "quality of journalism" or lack thereof, in this instance, I will gladly leave that to those affected by it. Without sounding absolute in my opinion, let me contribute in terms of what I think needs to happen:

  • Media Change in Attitude

Journalism has to do with "inform, educate and entertain", not to always attack people and criticize "all the time" even when it`s not necessary. It is also not to be selective on reporting and only tell us what it thinks will meet the requirements of a fat bottom line at the end of the year, at the expense of quality information, it is equally not to speculate and lie while trying to break news, etc. So the first solution is for the media itself to change its attitude in reporting (I am saying this because in my view, the problem is with attitude more than anything).

  • Media Transformation

I am not suggesting that media is not transformed but something in me does not want to believe that if transformation (ownership, employment, and preferential procurement) is existent, we could continue to face such a negative reporting all the time and continuous attacks on every initiative that government does in its course of duty. If media does not want to transform, the governing party has enough rich people it can unleash to buy these media houses and transform them. Of course this can be done only once corruption has been dealt with and all other worries have been settled. At least it would be expected that the new owners would be "progressive" in their reporting. And I am also not underscoring the role media play in uncovering these acts of wrong. What are transformation credentials of the big four Media Houses (Avusa, Independent Newspaper, Media 24 and Caxton); and

  • Launch government`s own publication

I am not aware of any obligation for the government to continue advertising on these "forever negative" media houses. If they don`t want to change attitude, the government must launch its own "media house" and channel all the advertising revenues there. It can further transform this concept into being another revenue stream for it so that it can further provide more houses to the "more hopeful" people of this noble land (assume corruption will be dealt with already).

So the ANC must begin to realize that its opposition is less about the political parties (they too know that they can not match it) but more about "media`s interpretation of its independence". Furthermore, the ANC must realise that it has continued to subject itself to the blackmail where anything it does (even a mere debate about the transformation of the media and the way they handle themselves) has been presented as a "threat to media`s independence". This gives the opposition parties a platform upon which to present themselves as the "champions and custodians of righteousness".

NB: I am not into the "Politics of Media". I will gladly leave that to the politicians. I am merely pleading with Media to be balanced in their approach to reporting.

Is it time to bring back this debate?

Njabulo Duma is a Young South African citizen.

 

Our movement cannot be led by a lame duck President

By Phatse Justice Piitso

In the coming two weeks the eyes of the world will be descending into the city of Mangaung to witness one of the most historic and a rare moment that will forever occupy the front pages of the chapters of the history books of our national liberation movement. The leader of our national democratic revolution and our revolutionary alliance, the African National Congress, will be holding its 53th elective national conference at the same historic site where it was founded hundred years ago.

Our national conference will afford the people of our country and the whole world with an opportunity to reflect critically on the weaknesses and achievements of our national liberation movement over the past century and how to renew our struggles for the improvement of the living conditions of our people into the next century.

The conference will be a platform for the entire progressive movement of the world to celebrate the victorious achievements of the struggles of our people against the forces of imperialism and colonialism. Our 53th elective national conference will indeed be the highest form of the expression of the international working class solidarity and the determination of the suffering people of the world to triumph over the system of human oppression and exploitation.

Over and again our national conference will be a culmination to celebrate the hundred years anniversary of the unbroken record of rich history of glorious struggles led by our national liberation movement. Over the hundred years of its existence our movement has proven itself to be a genuine and true representative of the wishes and aspirations of the overwhelming majority of the people of our country. The celebration of the hundred years of the existence of our glorious movement is indeed a living testimony that the working class is the only reliable force capable of taking forward any revolution to its eventual conclusion.

We celebrate these milestone achievements of the people of the former colonial state of a special type during the time when the poor people of the world are traversing the most difficult epoch in the history of the working class struggles. The suffering people of the world are occupying the forefront trenches of our struggles for their own liberation under the most hostile and complex world socio economic circumstances dominated by the capitalist accumulation regime.

The collapse of the soviet block and the subsequent consolidation of the unipolar economic relations have dramatically changed the balance of forces in the whole world. This eventual setback of the sudden collapse of the world communist movement compelled the working class to navigate itself under conditions of an aggressive post cold war transitional period perpetuated by the military industrial complex.

Our analysis of the prevailing international and domestic balance of forces asserts our exposition that capitalism is in perpetual crisis and therefore unable to resolve the insurmountable socio economic challenges confronting humanity. The escalating economic recession in the Eurozone and the subsequent challenges posed by the climate change is an undisputed reality that the capitalist mode of production is incapable of resolving the contradictions facing the people of the world.

The phenomenal crisis of the world capitalist economy has plunged the working class into the deep ends of the acrimonious conditions of poverty, disease and underdevelopment. Our people have to contend with the realities that we can not resolve the contradictions of the class, race and gender inequalities bequeathing our society in isolation from the concrete material conditions defining the present world balance of forces.

In other words we have to understand that there is an inextricable relationship between the century old challenges imposed by apartheid colonialism on our people and the general socio economic crisis facing the entire people of the world. The struggles of the people of our country are about the freedom of the people of the world and the struggles of the people of the world are about the freedom of our own people.

It will equally be important that we use the opportunity of the forthcoming national conference to reflect deeply into the balance of forces and the extent to which they impact on the posture of our national democratic revolution. The overwhelming reality is that we are confronted by a tendency of a low intensity counter revolutionary activities from both within and outside the ranks of our revolutionary alliance.

Our national democratic revolution is under constant counter revolutionary thread posed by the remnants of the former apartheid colonial state and equally from some elements from within our own ranks both working in collaboration with the international monopoly capital.  It is from this background that our people should understand the cause and effect of the offensive onslaught mounted by the DA, and some of these elements from within our own ranks against our national liberation movement.

The symbiotic relationship between these forces of counter-revolution is to undermine our collective effort to liberate our people from the socio economic bondage of the apartheid colonialism. Their underlying strategy is to protect and maintain the economic privileges the white minority accumulated over the period of the three and half centuries of super exploitation by imperialism and colonial powers at the expense of the vast majority of our people.

The unity and cohesion of our national democratic revolution is also threatened by the growing tendency from within our ranks that seek to erode the fundamental principles, culture and traditions of our national liberation movement. We are observing a growing phenomenon by some individual members of the ANC who are determined to define themselves outside the parameters of the constitutional prerogatives of our liberation movement.

Rigorous and systematic political education is therefore the only precondition to produce the caliber of particular cadres we require capable of taking forward the complex demands of the tasks of our national democratic revolution. We have to achieve this important work in order to enable our movement to respond adequately to the new fronts of battles we have to wage under the new improved conditions presented by our democratic dispensation. It will therefore be in the best interest of our movement and the future of our people to unearth the kind of a new caliber of cadres who will lead our struggles under the conditions of the present complex world order.

One of the most critical questions our forthcoming conference has to resolve is our correct theoretical understanding of the fundamental principles of inner party democracy and democratic centralism. The essence of these basic revolutionary principles of inner party democracy and democratic centralism is about the unity and cohesion of our movement and our national democratic revolution.

These are indeed the foremost revolutionary principles that have over the years of our glorious struggles become the cornerstones of the unity of our people and our movement against the repressive racist apartheid regime. Over the years it has been the responsibility of our collective leadership to foster the understanding of our people on the underlying relationship of the basic principles of collective leadership, inner party democracy and discipline and also the principle of criticism and self-criticism.

On the 7th of September 1937 the founder of the Chinese communist party and the leader of the liberation struggles Chairman Mao Tse Tung had to say the following profound words:

" We stand for active ideological struggle because it is the weapon for ensuring unity within the Party and the revolutionary organizations in the interest of our fight. Every Communist and revolutionary should take up this weapon.

But liberalism rejects ideological struggle and stands for unprincipled peace, thus giving rise to a decadent, philistine attitude and bringing about political degeneration in certain units and individuals in the Party and the revolutionary organizations.

Liberalism manifests itself in various ways.

To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance, a fellow townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organization and the individual are harmed. This is one type of liberalism.

To indulge in irresponsible criticism in private instead of actively putting forward one`s suggestions to the organization. To say nothing to people to their faces but to gossip behind their backs, or to say nothing at a meeting but to gossip afterwards. To show no regard at all for the principles of collective life but to follow one`s own inclination. This is a second type.

To let things drift if they do not affect one personally; to say as little as possible while knowing perfectly well what is wrong, to be worldly wise and play safe and seek only to avoid blame. This is a third type.

Not to obey orders but to give pride of place to one`s own opinions. To demand special consideration from the organization but to reject its discipline. This is a fourth type.

To indulge in personal attacks, pick quarrels, vent personal spite or seek revenge instead of entering into an argument and struggling against incorrect views for the sake of unity or progress or getting the work done properly. This is a fifth type.

To hear incorrect views without rebutting them and even to hear counter-revolutionary remarks without reporting them, but instead to take them calmly as if nothing had happened. This is a sixth type.

To be among the masses and fail to conduct propaganda and agitation or speak at meetings or conduct investigations and inquiries among them, and instead to be indifferent to them and show no concern for their well-being, forgetting that one is a Communist and behaving as if one were an ordinary non-Communist. This is a seventh type.

To see someone harming the interests of the masses and yet not feel indignant, or dissuade or stop him or reason with him, but to allow him to continue. This is an eighth type.

To work half-heartedly without a definite plan or direction; to work perfunctorily and muddle along -- "So long as one remains a monk, one goes on tolling the bell." This is a ninth type.

To regard oneself as having rendered great service to the revolution to pride oneself on being a veteran, to disdain minor assignments while being quite unequal to major tasks, to be slipshod in work and slack in study. This is a tenth type.”

Again Chairman Mao had to say the following about the principles of democratic centralism and inner party discipline “ Democratic centralism recognises the different levels of political consciousness that exist in the revolutionary party and identifies those outstanding individuals with exceptional ability whose talents, experience and capabilities match the demands of particular periods in the development of the party.

Such ‘professional’ revolutionaries also impart the necessary stability and continuity which is essential to the success of the party. At the same time, democratic centralism is aimed at ensuring that leaders remain accountable to the collective decisions of the party as a whole.

Democratic centralism is the fundamental principle that enables the party of the proletariat to function in a coordinated and disciplined manner. It is the weapon that the revolutionary party uses against the attempts of the class enemy. With its entrenched, highly centralised, ideological and political apparatus to confuse and disrupt the revolutionary forces".

It is against this background of the understanding of the core principles of democratic centralism and inner party democracy that we consider reversing the decision of the resolution taken during the Polokwane conference to erode the powers of the President of the movement. Our understanding is that the Polokwane intervention to remove the powers of the President of the movement was a temporary measure to respond to a particular political circumstances, of a growing dissatisfaction by the membership of our movement against the abuse of state power to settle political scores.

The prevailing political circumstances of a growing phenomenon of anarchy and tendency to undermine our collective effort of building on the unity and cohesion of our movement can be attributed to our tactical maneuver to strip the powers of our President. It will not be in the best interest of our national democratic revolution to have a lame duck President under the prevailing conditions of the most hostile and complex international and domestic balance of forces.

The political repercussion of the decision we took to erode the powers of the President of the movement has come to haunt us today. The enemy of our national democratic revolution from both within and outside the ranks of our movement has turned to abuse the very same tactical maneuver to undermine and denigrate the office and therefore the image of the President of our movement and our Republic.

One of the most important characteristics that distinguish members of the ANC from the rest is their ability to adhere themselves to our fundamental principles of collective leadership. The character of the ANC as a liberation movement over the years has been defined by its tenacity to adhere itself to our fundamental principle of democratic centralism.

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

 

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