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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 11, No. 46, 13 December 2012

In this Issue:


Red Alert

Let`s not get pushed into opposing corners by those who don`t have the interests of our Alliance or our country at heart

By Jeremy Cronin, SACP 1st Deputy General Secretary

This past Sunday, 33 leading business-people published a call to action. They distanced themselves from the negative doomsayers, they committed to supporting the public sector in its programmes and in the fight against corruption, and they endorsed the National Development Plan (NDP). On Monday Cas Coovadia, MD of the Banking Association of SA, said the banking industry would be happy if the ANC adopted the NDP as the "critical vision" for the country. In principle, we should all be happy if leading sectors of business throw in their weight behind the NDP and contribute to building a broad national consensus on a more equitable, inclusive society.

I say "in principle". Over the past few weeks a campaign (underway for many months) has been unleashed not to unite our country, but to divide the ANC and its alliance on economic policy by dumbing down key policy documents and setting up false oppositions. With the ANC`s Mangaung national conference just days away, the campaign has reached a crescendo. I am not fingering the call to action by leading business-people - my problem is with the usual hangers-on, the neo-liberal media commissars.

Journalist Ethel Hazelhurst writing in Tuesday`s Business Report, for instance, tells us: "While business leaders have given a thumbs up to Planning Minister Trevor Manuel`s vision for the next 20 years, the implementation and the future of his National Development Plan (NDP) rests with the deeply divided delegates to the ANC elective conference in Mangaung...Manuel`s plan is only one of three launched over the past three years and it is not the one favoured by the SACP or alliance partner Cosatu. Patel`s approach [in the New Growth Path] and Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies` interventionist Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) are more to their taste" (December 11, 2012).

Tim Cohen in the Business Day (December 10, 2012) trots out the same and by now much repeated spin. The ANC`s "sheer size", he writes, "complicated by its alliance with the South African Communist Party and COSATU, means it is trying to incorporate too many points of view...the ANC can`t decide whether to back the rabid [i.e. bad] interventionism of Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, or the fine-grain [i.e. good] incrementalism of Planning Minister Trevor Manuel."

Hazelhurst, Cohen, and just about every other mainstream commentator along with the DA, are trying to bill the Mangaung policy debate as a simplistic punch-up - the "moderates" in the ANC vs. SACP/COSATU; the NDP vs. the NGP/IPAP; Manuel vs. Patel and Davies; " incrementalism" vs. "interventionism".

(Ironically, in the very same column Cohen goes on to attack the ANC`s alleged assumption that in economic policy "it all comes down to a binary decision...That`s how people thought in the 1960s..."!!)

Given their own rabid and retro binary prejudices, one doubts whether any of these commentators has ever bothered to do more than a rudimentary scan of the NGP or IPAP. But what about the National Development Plan itself, have they actually read it in all of its fine-grain? Or have they plucked out, with a very small pair of tweezers, a sentence or two, which they now hold triumphantly aloft like so many `Look-What-A-Good-Boy-Am-I` Jack Horners?

For the record, Cabinet collectively has endorsed all three policy documents - the NDP, the NGP and IPAP (now in its third iteration). There are strong and welcome convergences between all three (and other important policy positions - notably the infrastructure build programme). However, they are of course also different documents in their scope, objectives, time-frames and status. The Planning Commission that produced the NDP is not a government organ, for instance, and the NDP is intended to be a broad, society-wide vision. It is not that it is necessarily (as we shall see) less state interventionist than the NGP or IPAP, but it seeks to envision what ALL South Africans should contribute to a better SA by 2030. On the other hand, the NGP and IPAP are essentially government policy documents and their emphasis is likely therefore to be more (but not exclusively) on what government has to do.

Also for the record, the ANC in Parliament has endorsed the NDP, while the SACP has welcomed its broad vision, without necessarily agreeing with every detail. Conversely, and interestingly, COSATU was (at least initially) critical of "Patel`s" New Growth Path - joining some in business in attacking (and misunderstanding) the `remuneration restraint` proposal, amongst other things.

It is important to understand that none of these policy perspectives is presenting itself as "written in stone" (as GEAR was once notoriously proclaimed to be in 1996). None is monolithically all right, or all wrong - they are setting out broad (and let me emphasise converging) guide-lines for action. All will require ongoing evaluation, and amendments in the light of experience and the inevitable unpredictable twists and turns of reality itself.

It is beyond the scope of this intervention to deal in detail with one, still less all three of these documents. What follows is a brief argument of why at Mangaung the ANC must absolutely not take the bait of simplistically playing off the NGP (or IPAP) against the NDP. The actual NDP, as imperfect as it might be, needs to be defended against an "NDP" distorted beyond recognition by Hazelhurst, Cohen, the DA, Mamphela Ramphele, Ann Bernstein, and the rest of the tribe.

In the first place, in its general theoretical approach the NDP breaks with the neo-liberalism of the mainstream commentariat. It acknowledges important progress made post-1994 ("today`s SA looks very different from the one we left behind in 1994") - unlike the "worse-than-apartheid" misanthropy of a Ramphele or a DA (when it`s talking to a white constituency). At the same time (like the NGP), it acknowledges persisting problems, key of which are crisis levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty.

More importantly, unlike the neo-liberals (who blame everything on government distorting the market), it attributes these challenges substantially to a systemic legacy still embedded within our and society - like "skewed ownership and control: the corporate landscape...remains highly concentrated. This poses a barrier to business entry and expansion in key markets, which is critical to employment creation." (NDP, p.102) Another systemic and reproduced legacy feature constantly mentioned in the NDP is the "spatial misalignments whether in reference to urban/rural, or within urban areas and binding constraints posed by poor physical planning and network infrastructure" (NDP, p.102). Indeed, the NDP is particularly strong in analysing the spatial dysfunctionalities of our South African reality.

Even more importantly, the NDP constantly re-iterates the need for "strengthening the links between economic and social strategies", for "creating a virtuous cycle of growth and development", for simultaneously (an impossibility according to Ann Bernstein) "eliminating poverty" and "sharply reducing inequality". These mark important (if tacit) breaks with a trickle-down, growth-then-development paradigm that dominated the orientation of GEAR. Of course, such a virtuous cycle needs to be embedded in actual policy perspectives and proposals - and, indeed, there is much detail in the NDP that reinforces the linkages between sustainable inclusive growth and social development interventions - in health-care, education, public transport, human settlements, land reform, social grants, etc. There are times when, I think, the virtuous cycle between growth and development could have been better articulated in the NDP. For instance, while public works programmes are accorded an important place, they are seen as essentially stop-gap measures, rather than also programmes in which skills can be transferred and participants graduated into SMMEs, co-ops, or formal public sector employment. But there is nothing inherent in the logic of the NDP that prevents this kind of further elaboration.

What of the role of the state in the economy? Hazlehurst tells us that "Manuel`s plan...identifies the private sector as the main generator of jobs..." (as if "Patel`s" NGP or "Davies`" IPAP disagreed). Clearly, in the reality of SA, any inclusive, job-creating growth path requires close cooperation with a dominant private sector. But equally, given our deep legacy of structural distortions, such a growth path requires decisive intervention and leadership from the state. This is why the NDP constantly reiterates the importance of "strengthening government`s capacity to give leadership to economic development". Such leadership is not about amassing bureaucratic power for its own sake, and it will certainly involve cutting down on unnecessary red-tape in key areas noted by all three policy documents (for example, lightening the bureaucratic reporting burden on SMMEs).

But in many other areas the NDP is counselling firm, active (but capable), more (not less) state intervention into the economy. I don`t know if Cas Coovadia, for all his welcome enthusiasm for the NDP, got as far as pages 129 and 130? There the NGP notes that "it is concerning that SA`s banks do not extend sufficient credit to businesses, especially small, medium and micro enterprises...Several countries, most notably India, have specific quotas for credit to the business sector." (Hmm, now there`s an interesting idea - prescribed credit quotas imposed on private banks for SMMEs and coops...) But let me not be guilty of using a small pair of tweezers to extract a passing comment in the NDP.

The essential point is that at Mangaung let`s not get hoisted into the ring, and shunted into opposing corners in a boxing line-up that`s been arranged for us by those who do not have the interests of the ANC, our Alliance, or our country at heart.


Re-engineering Primary Health Care (PHC)

By Shiela Barsel, SACP 13th Congress CC and Politburo Member

The ANC Health Plan of 1994 indicates: "The PHC approach is the underlying philosophy for the restructuring of the health system".

In this country which boasts the world`s first heart transplant, children die of malnutrition, people die of TB and AIDS every day. The SACP believes that people more easily become ill when they do not have enough nourishment, live in dirty surroundings without basic housing and sanitation facilities, do not have basic education, work under safe conditions and are exposed to human and industrial waste. Pollution, unemployment and poverty are encouraged by capitalism in its pursuit of super profits.

There is widespread global evidence that PHC is effective and makes sense. There are case studies from a number of countries such as Brazil and Thailand with a long history of implementing PHC. The health outcomes in these countries have improved dramatically.

The PHC approach will include taking good quality comprehensive services to communities, emphasising the need for disease prevention, health promotion and community participation and placing the social determinants of disease in the centre of understanding what makes people ill.

Over the past 18 years the Primary Health Care (PHC) Approach has been theoretically the focal point of the health system. One of the reasons that it has not taken its rightful place is that the massive tsunami of HIV has diverted much energy, time and resources from focussing on PHC and improving health systems. However, since Polokwane the ANC government has become serious about making a difference to the lives of peoples - health is one of the key priorities of the election manifesto with PHC at the centre of a re-engineered health system.

What will the re-engineered PHC look like?

Ward-based teams

Ward based teams will operate in the communities but will be attached to the local clinics. The team will consist of a professional nurse as the team leader, a health promoter, an environmental health officer and 10 community health workers (CHWs), in each of the 10 555 wards in the country.

The team will be responsible for promotion of health, prevention of ill health, providing information and education to communities and household, environmental health, basic first aid and emergency interventions.

CHWs and other community based health workers are a vital element in PHC as they are the face of the health system in the communities and can play a key role provided that they are recognised as change agents. Their role is therefore not merely a transitional role, but they should become a permanent part of human resource planning and community health work. They are an essential link to community health committees (CHCs). An important strategy for SACP branches is to ensure that every facility must have a CHC not only to ensure that the needs of the people are taken seriously but to be a dynamic link to enhancing the role of CHWs.

Community health work is a key employment opportunity for women, especially those from poor communities. We must demand that they are incorporated into the public service and paid a decent wage as public service workers. The current arrangement of being employed by NGOs which are subsidised by provincial governments results in their being paid a stipend whilst NGOs act as labour brokers.

School health

School health is crucial for providing access to health care for pupils at schools and early child development (ECD) sites. In 2003 the Department of Health adopted a national policy on school health services. However, due to the rightsizing of the public sector and reduction in allocation to health services during this period, school health services have been poorly resourced within and between provinces. The re-introduction of school health services has begun with Departments of Education and Social Development working together. In the initial phase a nurse will be placed in quintiles 1 and 2 schools. The ultimate aim is to extend this service to all 29 000 schools in the country.

The focus will be on screening of all grades R and grades 1 and ensuring that all those that attend ECD and primary school are fully immunised. In secondary schools life skills programme will be strengthened with specific focus on sexual and reproductive health and the reduction of alcohol consumption.

District-based specialist teams

District-based specialist teams consisting of a gynaecologist, paediatrician, anaesthetist, family physician, advanced midwife and primary health care nurse will be placed in a hospital within each district. The basic functions of the specialist teams are to strengthen clinical services at PHC level as well as in district hospitals to ensure that essential equipment is available to support all clinical health workers and monitor health outcomes.

A hurdle which has been encountered is the shortage of qualified doctors and nurses -in particular the willingness of these specialists to work in rural areas.

The impact of outsourcing on the state of health services

Responding to complaints from people who use the services as well as from health workers themselves, the department undertook an audit of public health facilities - clinics, community health centres and district, regional, specialised and tertiary hospitals in all 9 provinces.

The core focus of the investigation was the 6 priority areas that will fast track improvement in health service delivery:

  1. values and attitudes of staff
  2. patient waiting times
  3. cleanliness of facilities
  4. patient safety and security
  5. infection prevention and control
  6. availability of critical medicines and supplies.

The results of the audit indicated that many of the facilities were in a deplorable state.

We must be careful to simply lay the reason for the condition of these institutions at the door of infrastructure deterioration.

The neo-liberal restructuring between 1996 and 2007 reduced the total size of the public service staff establishment. The work still had to be done, the facilities had to be maintained and cleaned, patients had to be fed, laundry had to be cleaned, patients and workers had to be protected.So the provincial governments used the services of labour brokers.

It is a myth that the private sector, and especially labour brokers, are efficient in delivering services in the public sector. Outsourced services are directly responsible for the majority of the deplorable state in the priority areas of the audit.

These outsourced workers are at the mercy of labour brokers working under conditions of super-exploitation. It is particularly the black working class who bear the brunt of this exploitation. It is a continuation of a long colonial and apartheid practice of cheap labour and "job reservation" which prevented blacks from doing certain jobs.

Outsourcing of these services has particularly affected those workers whose conditions of service changed from full-time employment with benefits to employment through labour brokers. This has happened to many cleaning, catering and security staff in the health sector.

When outsourced workers were employed as public sector workers at Salary Level 5 and below they did receive low wages, but the work was secure and with benefits. Workers doing the outsourced work are working the security of employment, wages have been reduced, benefits are denied, and workers are not covered by collective agreements that encourage fair labour practices. When tenders are awarded to new companies, the outsourced workers are either laid off or re-hired by the new companies at lower pay.

Outsourcing these workers also impacts on the quality of health service delivery. We have all read of these reports in the newspapers. The security of patients and staff working at various institutions has been severely compromised by the lack of protection from outsourced security guards resulting in some deaths and rapes. There are reports of increasing infections at hospitals due to lack of adequate infection control. There are reports of patients having to take their own food and linen to hospital due to shortages.

To keep many of these so-called "non-core" functions within the public service is to create a stable, healthy, safe and secure environment The Polokwane conference recognised this and called for the insourcing of services within the public sector. The Free State has made much progress in implementing this and there have been indications from other provinces (notably the Eastern Cape) that they will do the same.

Implementing the National Health Insurance - the encroachment of the private sector

South Africa has a highly developed private health sector. The medical aid administrators and private hospitals have positioned themselves internationally in Southern African countries (Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia) and in the United Kingdom, Switzerland and China.

What is the current involvement of the private sector in the health system?

  1. 1. The private for profit sector currently provides
    • health insurance which accounts for 44% of the health care expenditure and serves only 15% of the population
    • private health services at both general and specialist level which accounts for 47% of private health insurance funding
    • hospital-based care which accounts for 36% of private health insurance funding
    • medicines through, amongst others, retail pharmacies which accounts for 17% of private health insurance funding.
  2. The private non-profit sector provides home-based care services which are funded through the budget allocations at provincial and local level.
  3. There is a range of public private partnerships (PPPs), and these vary in combinations of design, build, finance and operate (including managed care). Our key concern is how these ppps impact on access of care. The trials of incorporating private patients in public facilities that have been undertaken by public tertiary hospitals Groote Schuur (Cape Town) and Charlotte Maxeke (Johannesburg) have shown to be constitutionally questionable in that access to care is stifled by allowing medical aid patients right of first access and preferential treatment with better facilities than the state patients. Leading proponents of deep involvement of the market system have suggested that the private sector expertise should be harnessed to allow for the contracting of private hospitals to manage state facilities. The Finance Minister has already stated that his department is exploring the need to "bring private sector management into public health delivery".
  4. Medicines are currently wholly manufactured in the private sector, although there are plans to create a state-owned enterprise which will manufacture Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients for HIV medicines. This would be a fundamental prerequisite to a workable NHI.
  5. Certain services such as the National Health Laboratory Services have been privatised through the establishment of agencies.

The private sector and the NHI

From the time of the publication of the NHI by the ANC task team, the private sector and some NGOs such as Section 27 have called for the strengthening and upgrading of the health system before the NHI is implemented.

We can see why the private sector has a vested interest in calling for the public sector to be improved before the NHI Fund is established. It is because their hospitals are in better condition than are those in the public sector and doctors and specialists are available when they are needed. This is because the vast amount of money which the medical aids take from us is used to pay private hospitals and private health professionals. We must remember that the private health services serve the rich.

The government published a policy paper on the proposed introduction of the NHI in August 2011. The policy paper was based on research and discussions carried out within the ANC over a period of four years. The White Paper has now been delayed for more than six months, and its publication does not appear to be on the horizon. Our concerns are that this delay is due to the rear-guard action being fought by the market to ensure that the private sector positions itself to capture a large share of the funding which will be made available through the fund. Allowing for this full scale incorporation into the NHI will ultimately militate against foregrounding the public sector in a future national health system.

What is to be done?

Universal access to care

It is important for the SACP to reflect on the importance of defending a people-centred NHI. The impact of the neo-liberal GEAR restructuring which occurred in South Africa between 1996 and 2009 only served to restore profitability for capital and to entrench the inherited colonial growth path. The remnants of GEAR has left Treasury policy very decisive in introducing far reaching policies, some of which seem to be intended to undermine the new shift in economic policy adopted by the ruling party ANC in 2007. In fact until September 2010, the future of the NHI was in doubt. The Treasury continued to pose itself as a stumbling block being adamant that the NHI is not affordable and has to be reviewed.

However, through pressure and research produced by progressive academics, this stance has been reversed with the Minister of Finance finally allocating money for the implementation of the NHI in September 2010.

Now some two years into the debate on the NHI, we have become almost totally preoccupied with the issue of strengthening the health system (as initially recommended by the private sector) while we discuss and debate the scope and structure of the NHI. We must guard against not correcting the imbalances which exist at present and which we have indicated in this Umsebenzi on Line. This balance of forces weighs in favour of the healthcare pirates and profiteers - the MARKET.

The private health sector spends R93.2 billion rand on 8.5 million medical aid members and dependents. The public sector spends R120 billion rand servicing the remaining 41.5 million people. Return on Investment of the leading hospital groups in recent years has been exponentially positive - whilst their beds are approximately at only a 70% capacity.

The SACP calls for all of this money to be pooled into one fund and be used to service all 51 million people through the same fund. If we ignore the present dispensation in private healthcare whilst focusing (almost) exclusively on putting building blocks in place to strengthen the health system we will perpetuate a healthcare divide when the NHI is finally in place in 14 years` time. The NHI fund must be piloted at the same time as the health system is strengthened.

A key task facing us is to fight against the introduction of ppps and to fight for an end to outsourcing of services which will undermine the public nature and destroy the ethos of public sector delivery of the health services as this expanded programme of hospital construction and revitalisation is carried out.

The SACP has called for the workplace struggles against labour broking to be intensified and these must be fought daily. We have stated that actions should include exposing, naming and shaming departments where labour brokers are used as well as naming and shaming beneficiaries of this practice, whether outside or inside our ranks, as well as those amongst us who benefit from this, either directly or indirectly through close family business interests.

In launching the 2012 Red October campaign, our General Secretary said

"The campaign for "Basic Services For All!" must be linked to COSATU`s Basic Wage Campaign. We must extend the concept of a "wage" to include the idea of a "social wage" - i.e. the provision of decent housing, water, sewerage and electricity connection, health and educational facilities, and safe, reliable and affordable public transport.....

"Our working class communities - urban, peri-urban and rural townships, informal settlements and villages are the key localities in which we must build (and re-build) working class unity and popular power. It is in these localities, in common struggles, that we can unite the employed, the under-employed and the unemployed. It is in these localities, that we must unite the youth, working parents, and pensioners; small business-people and the working class.......

"In particular, as we campaign in our communities, we will mobilise popular forces around the shocking environmental conditions within which the working class and poor are condemned to live. In doing so, we will work with an already existing reservoir of community activism and militancy on this front....

"We have deliberately chosen the theme "Basic Services For All!" because it draws attention to the imperative of campaigning work inside of our working class communities.....

"We should campaign for the eradication of the bucket system where it exists. Where water-borne sewerage is difficult to install, perhaps because of serious water constraints, then alternative sanitation methods (dry toilets) must be installed. These are often unpopular because local authorities fail to maintain these toilets. The struggle for proper maintenance and replacements is critical."

What Comrade Blade was talking about is the primary health care approach. The Red October campaign is a reflection of the importance of the re-engineering of primary health care.

Universal access to care is an uncompromising promise. We must ensure decisive leadership from the all of the alliance structures in guaranteeing the pace of this implementation for quality affordable health care financed through a single public fund and not allow an unending consensus approach.


The role of the church is to heal our society from the atrocities of the wounds of our historical past

By Phatse Justice Piitso

This week a conglomerates of antagonistic class forces from the ranks of some of the leadership of our business and church sector opposed to the noble cause of the objectives of our national democratic revolution have once again mounted a blistering attack against the collective leadership of our movement and more particularly the democratically elected President of our movement and our Republic Cde Jacob Zuma. This coalition of forces have once again accused the leadership of our movement and our democratic government for the massive challenges of socio economic inequalities from our deep seated hostile historical past. They have joined the chorus of those who are opposed to the noble cause of our national democratic revolution.

This unprincipled and inconsistent coalition of class forces from black business, church, pseudo intellectuals, opposition parties, together with international monopoly capital are threatening to mobilize our people, the motive forces of our national democratic revolution against their own national liberation movement. They want our people to hold our National liberation movement and its leadership, particularly our own President, responsible for the atrocities and the pandemic contradictions of poverty, disease and underdevelopment arising out of the centuries of oppression and exploitation by imperialism and apartheid colonial domination.

This veracious onslaught against our movement and its collective leadership is mounted few days just before the commencement of the proceedings of our elective national conference. The political significance of the Mangaung conference is that it heralds the end and the beginning of our struggles for the liberation of our country into the new century. This unbroken record absolves the ANC as the genuine representative of the wishes and aspirations of the people of our country.

The most painful episode to witness is the growing phenomenon that some of our church leaders are collaborating with the forces historically opposed to the strategic objectives of our national democratic revolution to reverse back the gains of our revolution. It is indeed worrisome that some of the leadership of our church can join the chorus of the enemies of our democracy to undermine the tremendous achievements the South African working class has attained in the past eighteen years of our democratic dispensation.

Throughout the history of our struggles for the liberation of our people the church has always constituted part of the progressive movement to dismantle the racist apartheid regime and therefore the creation of a foundation for the better future of our people. We therefore hope that the church will still contribute meaningfully during this difficult period of the transition from the apartheid regime to our new democratic future. Our understanding is that we are all committing ourselves to this noble cause mindful of the realities that it will not be an easy task to reconstruct our country from the shackles of the apartheid foundations.

The younger generation of today will always appreciate the significant role the church has contributed in our struggles against apartheid colonial oppression and exploitation. We are proud that it has always shared our theoretical perspective that the eradication of the apartheid colonial oppression and domination was a precondition for the freedom and dignity of our people. Its historic role has always been to contribute meaningfully to the process of nation building and formation.

We have always assumed that the church comprehend the historic character of our national liberation struggles. Together with our people it has always understood that the strategic objective of our national democratic revolution is the liberation of the black people in general and the Africans in particular from the bondage of imperialism and colonialism of a special type. That the immediate tasks of our National Democratic Revolution are the construction of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.

It is from this point of view that we are horrified by the complete distortions and misrepresentation of facts by some of the leaders of our church about the concrete objective realities confronting our society at the present conjectural period of our transition. It is indeed an act tantamount to counter revolution for some of the church leaders to drive a wedge between the church and our national liberation movement and therefore inflicting wounds of divisions in our society.

Events of history will prove those amongst our church leaders wrong for having involved themselves in counter revolutionary activities aimed at reversing the tremendous gains and the achievements of the unity and cohesion of our liberation movement and our revolution. It is actually an act in consistent to the culture and traditions of the South African society for the caliber of the church leaders who authored the letter join the chorus of the siren songs of the enemy of our revolution to undermine the collective effort of our national democratic revolution.

The essence of the divorce letter from the church is to cast aspersions on the capability of the collective leadership of our movement and our government under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma to steer forward the revolutionary process for the radical transformation of the socio economic landscapes of our society. They have joined the chorus of the siren songs of the former colonial powers depicting a false impression that the former oppressed people of the colonies cannot lead themselves as the architects of the own future.

It is for this obvious reason that some of the leadership of the church for their own selfish reasons have entangled themselves and therefore the entire church community into the perceived leadership wrangles and the internal democratic processes of the ANC as we knock at the doorsteps of the historic venue of our elective national conference. We thought that these group of church leaders will comprehend the historical analysis that imperialism and neo-colonialism will never forgive the sins committed by our movement and its leaders for having led the struggles of our people for their emancipation.

Dialectical materialism teaches us that for the qualitative revolutionary process to rapture the new have to born out of the old. In other words we are facing this difficult circumstances of our transition because the new is born out of the old. For a revolutionary process to occur the subjective factors have to supersede the objective factors. In other words the level of the consciousness of our people must be able to render the apparatus of the former oppressive state ungovernable and the former oppressive state must cease to have the capacity to unleash its apparatus to oppress the people and therefore maintain the status quo.

The essence of our dialectical thesis is that the collective effort of all forces for the qualitative change of the productive mode of our economy should be able usher themselves through this passage of power from our transition of the apartheid regime to the new democratic dispensation. For our national democratic revolution to take one step forward the motive forces of our revolution should be able to triumph over the forces of reaction determined to derail our noble cause of our national democratic revolution. One step forward two steps backward.

All what we want to emphasize is that the task of our church in the current phase of our transition is to heal our society from the wounds of the atrocities of our historical past. Its moral obligation is to harness the unity and cohesion of our people and our National democratic revolution. That it will be against the moral values of our society for any leader of any church to spearhead attempts to drive our people into the trappings of impartiality. Therefore the mammoth task confronting our church is to build on the foundations of the moral fabric of our society.

It is from this perspective that delegates representing our branches at our historic elective conference in Mangaung extrapolate the hostile balance of forces our movement and the people of our country find themselves having to traverse and therefore the cause and the effect of the continuous attempts by the antagonistic forces to demonize our movement and its leadership. In the history of our struggles imperialism has always rejected the collective efforts of the leadership of our movement and it will continue to do so.

The day in which imperialism sings the songs of praise to our movement and its leadership it will be a signal that our national democratic revolution is no more on the right cause. Therefore our President is the scapegoat of the vicious agenda of the former colonial powers to undermine our noble cause of improving the living conditions of the South African working class.

Our delegates should be awake to the fact that Mangaung is not just an ordinary conference but also an ideological battleground we have to wage against our class enemies. Our national democratic revolution is the highest form of class struggles to resolve the contradictions of our national, class and gender questions. Manguang is the ultimate battle under the hostile circumstances to restore the character and posture of our national liberation movement and equally the arena to restore the true values, culture and traditions that have over the years became synonymous to the noble objectives of our national democratic revolution.

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


The closure of schools in the Western Cape

By Mncedisi Nobala

On 06 December 2012, the South African Community Party (SACP) in the Boland District was invited to attend a prayer vigil organized by the SADTU region. The prayer vigil was attended by SADTU, ANC, COSATU, SGB, parents, staff and learners of the two schools to be closed in Paarl and Wellington. The prayer vigil was about the continued opposition of the closing of 20 schools by the Western Cape Education Department as effective as from January 2013. SADTU has been at the forefront of the campaign provincially since the decision was announced early this year. I was the speaker on behalf of the SACP in the Boland District.

The Western Cape Department of Education announced early this year that there is a possibility of closing 27 schools in the province. The people of the province were shocked by this announcement including SGB, staff, union, community and learners of the affected school because they were not consulted. The reasons forwarded by the Education Department included dwindling numbers of learners, multi grade teaching and inadequate infrastructure. The Department further said that leaners of the affected schools will be placed in other schools with better resources and transport will be provided for them.

Since the announcement of this decision SADTU has been leading campaigns of opposition on the basis that stakeholders were not consulted. The public hearings were conducted after pressure was put by unions, churches, parents, learners and other civil society groups. The closure of the schools was opposed in these public hearings but the department announced in October 2012 that 20 of the 27 schools will be closed at the end of this year. These public hearing was done just as a formality because of the pressure applied to the department.

It was the first time that I attended these meetings of opposing school closures. This prayer vigil was full with emotions where some children literally cried including the MC of the session. This made me realized the emotions invested by the communities of the affected by this decision. The perspective of the SACP in the province is that we support SADTU and other organizations in opposing the closures. Our argument is that the Department should have first consulted with all the stakeholders involved. The department should have explored other avenue and closing should have been the last measure. We believe that the reasons forwarded by the department do not necessitate the closure of the schools.

The closure of these schools and taking these learners to other schools will be result in overcrowding of learners as was the case in Grabouw early this year. This will result in the increase of the ratio of teacher/learner. Secondly, these learners will have to wake up two hours than usual to take buses to school. They will also have to come home two hours later and there will be no time for homework as they will be tired. Thirdly, the department must invest in human resources to deal with the multi grade teaching. The department must investigate the reasons for the dwindling numbers of learners because it might be because of poor standards of learner due to short of human resource. Fourthly, it is the responsibility of government to build and maintain infrastructure and therefore schools cannot be closed because the infrastructure is poorly maintained. There are still learners in this country who learn under mud schools but those schools are not closed because infrastructure is not up to standard.

The department is raising an old argument that these campaigns are politically motivated because the ANC government has closed more than 1000 schools where it governs. The SACP is saying that the difference between the ANC and DA is that the ANC did consult with the affected communities before closing these schools. Secondly we are saying that the department cannot close schools because the ANC has done that in other provinces. The DA has been leading campaigns in the Eastern Cape and Limpompo in the defence of children`s right to education. Why are they are not joining SADTU in this province if they are honest with their campaigns. Where are Lindiwe Mazibuko and Musi Maimane when these children are given bad Christmas gift by closing down schools? Where are the opposition parties led by Mr Lekota as the champion of the Constitution and the right to education is affected by these closures? Where are the Right to Know Campaign, Section 27 and many other organizations who were formed to defend the rights in the Constitution? There is a deafening silence from the likes of Mamphele Ramphele, Arch. Tutu and Freedom Under Law.

The deafening silence of the above organizations and individuals makes one to wonder whether their existence to oppose decisions taken by the ANC. There was deafening silence when the African children from the Eastern Cape were called refugees. I am more amaze when Human Settlement MEC (Bonginkosi Madikizela) and MPL member (Masizole Mnqasele) were silent when they are both from the Eastern Cape.

I challenge these organizations and individuals above to stand up and be consistence with their fight in defence of the Constitution. We cannot be silent when the future of this country is put at risk by closing down schools. This is happening in the province where the use drugs at schools is very high and my view is that the impact of this will result in the increase of learners dropping out of school. Let the people of the Western Cape stand up in the interest of the Black children`s future as they will be the most affected by this decision.

Mncedisi Nobala is the Deputy Chairperson of the ANC AB Xuma branch and the deputy secretary of the Boland District (Western Cape). I write in personal capacity.