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RED ALERT
An intellectual will not be surprised when others respond to his opinions about them - A comradely reply to Onkgopotse JJ Tabane
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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 12, No. 38, 24 October 2013

In this Issue:

   

Red Alert

Response to Irvin Jim and Zwalinzima Vavi by Phatse Justice Piitso

Unless we learn to apply all the methods of struggle, We may suffer grave and sometimes even decisive defeat.
Vladimir Lenin, ‘Left wing communism: an infantile disorder

Last week we responded to the controversial statements uttered by the General Secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) Cde Irvin Jim, during the memorial "lecture” dedicated to the memories and times of our most outstanding revolutionary leader of the South African working class and the late General Secretary of our party, Cde Joe Slovo, at Queenstown local of the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) in the Eastern Cape.

During the memorial lecture, either consciously or unconsciously, Cde Irvin Jim made the following most factional and divisive theoretical distortions about the historic role of our party in our national democratic revolution:

"COSATU raised the alarm over the mass migration into parliament, provincial legislatures and councils of leaders of the SACP in general and more specifically of the General Secretary of the SACP into government. We knew then, as it has been confirmed now, that this migration was going to weaken the SACP, destroy its independence from the government, and render it quite irrelevant to the struggles of the working class.

We have since seen how the SACP is now unable to take proper Marxist and communist positions on the goings on in government, and over the clearly right wing neoliberal NDP.

Rather than making the Alliance the Strategic Political Centre of the Liberation Movement, we are all being invited to join the leadership ranks of the ANC if we must influence the ANC to govern in the interests of the working class"

In his work ‘Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder’ Lenin elaborates on the ideas of Marx and Engels around the important question of the strategy and tactics of a proletarian party. 

Based on the historic experience of Bolshevism in Russia and on the struggle of revolutionary workers in other countries, he developed a comprehensive theory of strategy and tactics and contributed to the science of conducting the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat.

Lenin warned of a phenomenon of left wing Communism attempting to plunge revolutionary parties along the path of sectarianism and adventurism. He warned of left wing communists rejecting the participation of communists in the work of trade unions controlled by social democrats, demanding the boycott of bourgeois parliaments, and advancing the slogan of no compromise.

In this work he is elaborating in detail the strategic approach taken by the Bolsheviks to participate in the conservative Duma, parliament. He indicates that experience has shown that the participation was not only useful, but indispensable to the party of the revolutionary proletariat in that particular conjuncture.

He brought to the fore the most strategic question that the tactics of the party should be based on a strictly objective consideration of the balance of class forces and a scientific analysis of the concrete material conditions. Lenin emphasizes that Communist parties should learn to win victories without being reckless. He points out that ideological conquest of the vanguard of the proletariat is in itself not the only qualitative step for the victory of the revolution:

"Victory cannot be won with a vanguard alone. To throw only the vanguard into the decisive battle, before the entire class, before the broad masses have taken up a position either of direct support for the vanguard, or at least of sympathetic neutrality toward it while having precluded support for the enemy, would be not merely foolish but criminal"

He further says that:

"To carry on a war for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie, a war which is a hundred times more difficult, protracted and complex than the most stubborn of ordinary wars between states, and to renounce in advance any change of a tack, or any utilization of a conflict of interests (even if temporary) among one’s enemies, or any conciliation or compromise with possible allies (even if they are temporary, unstable, vacillating, or conditional allies) is ridiculous in the extreme"

Lenin warned of left wing communists disrupting communist parties and preventing them from being closer to the masses of our people.  In his criticism he emphasizes that the rejection of party discipline is tantamount to completely disarming the proletariat in the interest of the bourgeoisie.

Lenin is advising Communists to find, without sacrificing their principles, a form of compromise that would not hamper them in carrying on an ideological and political struggle but that would allow them to maintain their revolutionary tactics and organization.

Today we repeat ourselves again that an infantile disorder, reckless adventurism is a most dangerous tendency in the course of any revolutionary processes. To combat this tendency we need to reaffirm that the leading role of our party in the whole of the revolutionary processes for radical socio economic transformation of our society, is a historic necessity.

Our most important task is to ensure that we demystify the hypothesis that individuals are the makers of history. The theory of our national democratic revolution teaches us that it is not the individuals but the masses of our people who are the makers of history. 

There is no individual whose footprints are bigger than that of the revolution itself.  The personality cult syndrome has over the years of the struggle undermined the foundations of genuine revolutions led by the masses of our people.

There is no one from our own ranks who is bigger than our revolutionary Alliance led by our national liberation movement, the ANC. It is only those who are on the side of the enemy of our revolution, who may think that without their individual role, our revolution will be incomplete.

Such individuals may even dream that without their leadership role, the people of our country will not vote for the ANC in the forthcoming national general elections. What they do not understand is that there is no magnetic power which can withhold the forward march of the revolutionary struggles of our people into the future.

Reading through the political input presented by Cde Irvin Jim at the memorial lecture again, one discovers the gravity of the theoretical distortions in each and every sentence he uttered. What is clear is that in the vocabulary of our Marxist-Leninist theory, there are no theoretical concepts such as revolutionary communists or the so called practising communists. 

You do not have to announce yourself to be a revolutionary communist, you do not have to announce yourself to be a practising communist, nor to wear the red colours of our party to qualify. You do not have to shout the repeated slogans about the establishment of a socialist republic irrespective of the concrete material conditions.

For Lenin, the starting point of any social revolution rests on the fundamentals of a revolutionary theory and a revolutionary working class party. 

In his definition of the significance of a revolutionary theory and organization, he would always say:

"in its struggle for power, the proletariat has no any other weapon but the organization, the proletariat can, and inevitably will become an invincible force only through its ideological unification on the principle of Marxism being reinforced by the material unity of organization.

The only guarantee that the revolutionary organization of the working class will not  lose sight of the strategic objective of socialism or lose its identity as an independent party, is its adherence to and reliance upon Marxism. The vanguard role can only be fulfilled by a party guided by the most advanced theory"

He would further express the following profound theoretical formulation on the inseparability of national liberation struggle and the struggle for the world socialist revolution:

"Whereas formerly, before the beginning of the epoch of world revolution the movement for national liberation was part of the general democratic movement, now, after the victory of the Soviet revolution in Russia and the beginning of the epoch of the world revolution, the movement for national liberation is part of the world proletariat revolution.

Whoever wants to reach socialism by any path than that of political democracy, will inevitably arrive at conclusions that are absurd and reactionary both in economic and political sense.

Between the democratic and socialist stages of the revolution in the new epoch, there is no barrier and time interval that revolutionaries should take into account"

Contrary to the concerted attempts by some of the individual leaders from within our ranks to distort the character and theory of our national democratic revolution, our revolutionary Alliance is still consistent to the traditions of the Communist International. 

I am equally not surprised by the insinuations from the suspended General Secretary of Cosatu Cde Zwelinzima Vavi (published by the Business Day, BDLlive, 29 October 2013) 1 during his special interview with the Financial Times that our revolutionary Alliance has since 1996 functioned as a vote catching machine. 

I am convinced that both Cde Zwelinzima Vavi and Irvin Jim do not comprehend the main, fundamental task of a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party of the working class in a national democratic revolution. We cannot confine the meaning of class struggle to the immediate struggles to socialism.

What they do not understand is the indispensable role of the vanguard party of the working class in the present phase of our revolutionary struggles within the South African context. It is not correct to think that the relationship between our party and other classes and strata in society should be defined first and foremost on the basis and conditions, of accepting socialism as the only future to humanity.

Our conceptualisation of the present phase of our transition requires the correct scientific understanding of the relationship between national oppression and exploitation. Our failure to understand the class content of the national struggle and the national content of the class struggle can be an impediment to both our national democratic revolution and our struggle into our socialist future.

During his address to the second All Russian Congress of the Communist organization of the people of the East, Lenin said:

"the struggle against capital in advanced industrial countries would combine with the struggle of the oppressed nations. The task of a Communist is to carry the message of liberation to every country in a language the people understand"

The theoretical debate about the role of the vanguard party and the struggle for national liberation is as old as during the presidium of the Second International on colonial policies. During the presidium of the Second Congress of the Third International held in 1920, Vladimir Lenin, reporting on behalf of the members of the special commission on national and colonial question, presented the following thesis:

"We come to the conclusion that the bourgeoisie democratic parties of the oppressed nationalities are of various kinds. Some of them have adopted reformist tactics and adapt themselves to the political regime existing in their countries and harmonize their activities with the interest of the regimes of the ruling countries. Of course we shall not give support to such parties, Communist should support the national revolutionary movements, but only when they are really revolutionary"

After intense debates during the Commission, the concept national revolutionary was substituted for bourgeois democratic. The essence was that Communists should support liberation movements in the colonies only when they are genuinely revolutionary and when their exponents do not hinder the work of educating and organising in a revolutionary spirit of the peasantry and the masses of the exploited. 

A decision was further taken that if conducive conditions do not exist, the communist in those countries must fight the reformist bourgeoisie, to whom the heroes of the Second International belong.

During the Sixth Congress of the Third Comintern held in 1928, the Communist party of South Africa was persuaded to adopt the slogan for the creation of an independent native South African Republic with equal rights for all races. 

The Comintern characterized South Africa as a British dominion of a colonial type.  The analysis was derived from the realities that the development of the relations of capitalist production had led to British imperialism carrying the economic exploitation of our country with the participation of the white bourgeoisie of South Africa.

A special resolution of Comintern on the approach of our party to the African National Congress was as follows:

"The party should pay particular attention to the embryonic national organizations such as the African National Congress. The party, whilst retaining its full independence, should participate in these organizations, should seek to broaden and extent their activity. 

Our aim should be to transform the African National Congress into a fighting revolutionary organization against white bourgeoisie and the British imperialism. The development of a national revolutionary movement of the toilers of South Africa against the white bourgeoisie and British imperialism constitute one of the major tasks of the communist party of South Africa

In his address to the Congress of the League Against Imperialism held in Brussels in 1927, the President of the ANC Cde Josiah Gumede had to say:

"I am happy to say that there are communists in South Africa. It is my experience that the communist party is the only party that stands behind us and from which we can expect something"

Arriving from Moscow in 1928 President Josiah Gumede had to express the following profound words:

"I have seen the new world to come, where it has already began, I have seen the new Jerusalem"

In his political address to the 1930 congress of the ANC, President Gumede had to say the following:

"Soviet Russia was the only real friend of all the subjected races and urged the congress to demand a South African native Republic with equal rights for all and free from foreign and local domination"

President Gumede was voted out of the leadership position for his revolutionary understanding of the important role of the party in the struggles for the liberation of our country against imperialism and colonialism of a special type.  

This rich history of the character and theory of our national democratic revolution rebukes the unsubstantiated historical facts that the SACP today is no more the party of our late General Secretary, Cde Joe Slovo. Our party is still playing its vanguard role as the leading political force of the South African working class. 

Our revolutionary Alliance has a task to realise the objectives of our national democratic revolution, whose main content is the national liberation of the African people in particular and the black people in general. Our Alliance is in the forefront of the struggle of our people for radical socio-economic transformation of our society.

The tendency by the suspended General Secretary of Cosatu, Cde Zwelinzima Vavi, to blame our revolutionary movement for the challenges which are not of our own making is counter-revolutionary. We cannot blame the ANC led government for the deepening world economic crisis. We cannot blame the ANC led government for the declining economic production, slowing growth rates, rising prices and living standards, mass unemployment and poverty which has become a worldwide phenomenon.

Therefore our revolutionary Alliance cannot be reduced to a pen and a paper as Cde Zwelinzima Vavi seeks to suggest in his special interview with the Financial Times. Our Alliance was founded out of the common struggles led by the people of our country. Our Alliance is a living organism of our people.

Lenin says that the indispensable conditions of the victory of a democratic revolution is the establishment of a revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry.

The dictatorship of the proletariat in its class essence is determined by the fact that it represents the political domination of the working people in a society in whose economic basis has not yet been overcome.

Phatse Justice Piitso is the former Ambassador to the Republic of Cuba and the former Provincial Secretary of the SACP and writes this article on his personal capacity.

1. http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/politics/2013/10/29/alliance-resolutions-were-never-met-says-vavi

 

Unity and discipline, not tribalism

By Cde Els Themba1

"...man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real condition of life and his relations with his kind"
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, ‘The Communist Manifesto’, 1848

Modern life, which is capitalist life, confronts us time and again with fundamental problems, and makes us face "with sober senses”, matters that we would prefer think that we have dealt with, long ago.

One of these is the problem of unity, and trade union unity in particular. When this unity is threatened, we must face the problem and deal with it, "with sober senses” indeed, but also with deliberate speed.

COSATU has always stood for one industry, one union, one country, one federation, and it has been COSATU, since 1985, that has shaped what is now called, in our mass media, "the South African labour relations system”.

It has been, in the first place, COSATU’s organisational discipline, and not the law, that has prevented self-destructive splitting and poaching from destroying our trade union movement in South Africa.

COSATU has also helped to shape the law. Consequently, all workers have a right to form trade unions, under South Africa’s constitution. This is a right that we have fought for, and we still support it.

But the same law that guarantees the right to form unions, by that same fact gives workers a right to split unions. In a South African trade union, an angry minority can walk away from discipline and the majority, and form its own, smaller, rejectionist union. Or, it can join another union.

Unions can poach members from other unions. The law does not stop them from doing so. On the contrary, the law sustains poaching as a "human right”.

The "right” to split does not exist in the national, electoral democracy. There, the losers must submit to the winners. Walking away would mean leaving the country. It is not a practical option.

But trade unions and other mass democratic organisations have to rely on their own free will to stay together, based on the belief that an injury to one is an injury to all, and that if we cannot stay organised and together, we will starve.

We have once again come face to face with this "real condition of life”. We must maintain "sober senses” and hold fast to what has kept us safe for so many years: unity.

As Cde Thulas Nxesi said at the SADTU NGC, "We forget this simple truth at our peril”.

The threat of poaching by General Unions, both inside and outside of the COSATU federation, is real.

In the North West there is AMCU, and there are others like AMCU. One of them has started in the East Rand, based on undisciplined elements who were formerly in SADTU’s ranks. This is a bitter thing to face, but we must face it, and out-organise it. We must out-organise the splitters!

This behaviour is a menace to trade unionism in South Africa. If we are not able to contain it, and to turn it around, then the possibility exists for endless fragmentation of trade unions, and so for a successful divide-and-rule regime from the employers’ point of view.

Discipline

Discipline is the mother of victory. We always used to say so, and it is still true.

There are processes, laid down in our disciplinary codes, and the constitutions that govern them. These processes will only be upheld by ourselves. We cannot be undermining our own constitutional due process with special pleading, as if some individuals are naturally better than others, or are exempt for whatever spurious reasons may be given.

The current processes that are going on, involving the General Secretary of COSATU, and the President of SADTU, are initiated by a majority in both cases. That is, a majority of the COSATU CEC and of the SADTU NEC, respectively, who have that constitutional power. They are not to be called "factional” processes.

Nor can they be called frivolous actions. These are sober, serious processes that have to be worked through. There will be a life for everyone after they are completed. So long as they are respected, our constitutions guarantee that. We are all anxious for these comrades. Nobody has a monopoly on concern.

But undermining policy at will, inconsistency, arbitrary calls for reinstatement, and calls for the over-ruling of proper processes: Any of these things can destroy our organisations, up to and including the federation itself.

Trade unionists know that they stand or fall by the proper conduct of their business. No one can be above, or beyond the law. None of us can be a law unto himself, or herself. We must await, with discipline, the outcomes of the processes that are under way.

Tribalism

Along with all of this, we are obliged to face, once again with "sober senses”, the unwelcome and almost unbelievable re-emergence of tribalism in South Africa; almost unbelievable, because only last year we were celebrating the centenary of the ANC.

The ANC was founded in 1912, partly, and explicitly, to get rid of this "demon” as Pixley Ka-Isaka Seme called it when he wrote, in October 1911, while preparing for the ANC launch, which was to come just over two months later:

"The demon of racialism, the aberrations of the Xhosa-Fingo feud, the animosity that exists between the Zulus and the Tsongas, between the Basuthos and every other Native must be buried and forgotten; it has shed among us sufficient blood! We are one people."

Look well on your history. See the inheritance passed from the Zulu Chief Luthuli, our first Nobel Peace Prize winner (in the days when that prize meant something) to the Xhosa O R Tambo who preserved the inheritance so well, and who, as a Christian, maintained unity in action with Moses Kotane, and all the communists.

This is our proud legacy: Unity in action. Not tribalism.

If you think that your national group owns our revolution, then you are mistaken.

Whatever we have, it was got by unity in action. That is, by the very opposite of tribal supremacy. And this continues to be the case.

See the world today. Look at what divide-and-rule has done to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, to mention only a few. Terrible slaughter continues to happen in all of those countries, based on sectarianism of race, and of religion, instigated, aided and abetted by the Imperialists.

Those are the same Imperialists who oppressed us in the past, and can do so again, if we let them divide us.

Look hard at what an orgy of tribalism and tribal slaughter did to Kenya, in the last previous national elections before the last national elections. See how the problem lingers on, and continues to cause problems for the whole continent.

South Africa, which has provided the African Union with its leader in the person of Cde Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is a bearer of the non-tribal, non-racial principle for the whole continent. This is how much is at stake.

Yet there are comrades who would identify with Zwelinzima Vavi and Thobile Ntola as Xhosas, and fight for them on that basis.

Just think for a moment about what it means for these comrades. Because if you think that the identity of their leadership is tribal, then you are deeply insulting Cdes Vavi and Ntola. They never said that they were General Secretary or President for the Xhosas.

Both of them are still in office, by the way. Neither can be reinstated, because neither has been removed.

Did Cdes Vavi and Ntola say to Xhosas, that because of them, it was "your turn to eat”? No, they did not say any such thing, and they will never say such things. O R Tambo never said such things, Chief Luthuli never said such things and Moses Kotane certainly never said such things.

Everything in this country depends upon not going back to the separation that was the historical problem that we fought against in the liberation struggle.

Divide-and-rule is still our biggest danger.

Let us maintain our unity, maintain our organisations, and the principles upon which they are founded; complete all due processes according to our constitutions and our laws; and keep a solid wall between ourselves and tribalism, comrades.

Footnote

1. Els Themba is Chairperson of South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) in North West Province. This is an edited version of the address Cde Els made to SADTU North West Provincial General Council, one week prior to SADTU’s National General Council (NGC) that took place in Kempton Park from 25th to 17th October 2013.

Among other things, the NGC duly declared: "SADTU must condemn all signs of tribalism that seems to accompany those in COSATU who have employed magnanimous enthusiasm to protect the General Secretary of COSATU.

"SADTU as a matter of urgency condemns all signs of tribalism that undermine unity and leaders in the organisation"

 

Keynote address by Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Nzimande at the launch of the University of Mpumalanga

By Dr Blade Nzimande, 31st October 2013

I am immensely proud today to be part of this launch of the University of Mpumalanga. This launch foregrounds a number of important policy and programme developments by our Government, led by the African National Congress, a movement committed to bringing about fundamental transformation in our country and radically improve the conditions of living of the overwhelming majority of our people, including the provision of high quality and relevant education.

Our presence as the Department of Higher Education and Training and as government expresses our commitment to expanding our system of higher education. A recent review indicated that only about 20.7 per cent of all applicants to universities - including UNISA - were placed in 2010.1 It is clear there is significant demand for higher education in our country.

Our aim is to meet the National Development Plan goal of increasing higher education participation from 17.9% to 30% by 2030. This we will do in the spirit of our many other educational achievements since 1994. Since the dawn of democracy we have encouraged social cohesion and diversity in what was a racially and ethnically divided system at all levels, including higher education.  We have invested massively in university infrastructure since 2007, and are committed to a further R6 billion over the 2012 to 2014 Medium Term Expenditure Framework. The establishment of the University of Mpumalanga will require a further investment of approximately R 10.4 billion over the next ten years.

We also wish to state that this new university will also benefit from all the programmes of government in support for a transformed and inclusive higher education of our country. For example government has committed about R7bn for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to assist poor but academically capable students. This scheme has since its establishment in the early 1990s supported more than 1.4 million poor students. This is one of the single biggest achievements by the ANC-led government. NSFAS will indeed be extended to the two new universities, the Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape and the University of Mpumalanga.

Therefore as government we will continue to transform education aggressively.   The establishment of this university is but one indication that we are determined to bring education to all the people.

We should also be clear why we are making huge investments like this in higher education. Higher education institutions contribute to national development in four main ways:

Universities play a crucial role in preparing students for the labour market through teaching, learning and professional development. They facilitate the acquisition of high-level skills. As a comprehensive institution, the University of Mpumalanga will provide teaching and learning opportunities through general and technology-focused undergraduate programmes through diploma and bachelor entry qualifications, and strong post-graduate programmes in niche areas.

Universities provide leadership through research and knowledge creation in critical areas of national development. This will be crucial for the University of Mpumalanga whose researchers we expect to engage in areas such as provision of rural infrastructure, agriculture, food security, tourism development, health and well-being, education and environmental management.

A university is embedded in the cultural and economic life of the community. This interconnectedness enables the university to enrich student experience by engaging curriculum and research with the social environment and offering practical opportunities for students to prepare for the world they will enter. We therefore expect no Ivory Towers here but rather an institution accessible to all, particularly the rural communities of Mpumalanga, where some of this university’s research will be done. It is from these communities as well as from across the country that it will draw its students. Therefore, there should be engagement at all levels of the institution.

Universities are important in the reproduction and transformation of society. At the University of Mpumalanga learning and culture should embody democracy and social justice, whilst contributing to transformation, growth and development of the economy. The university must contribute to creating a non-racial and non-sexist egalitarian society underpinned by human dignity, the rule of law, a democratic ethos and human rights.

Universities in South Africa must also play a critical role in the achievement of the national development objectives of our country. This university dare not seek to use the notion of institutional autonomy - something we all support - in order to place itself above and separate from the overall development needs of our country.

How do we ensure that the University of Mpumalanga fulfils these expectations? My Department’s Green Paper for Post School Education and Training cautions that expansion must go with quality: "This requires a well-functioning quality assurance system, but more importantly it requires well-functioning institutions and support systems"

Developing the University of Mpumalanga will require time, balancing rapid delivery and sustainable growth. Implementation of the university is planned incrementally over a 10-year period until it reaches its planned student compliment of 18,000

The University of Mpumalanga rests on three pillars: 

  1. The 10-year development plan for the university. This will be a 21st Century higher education institution embodying the vision and values of the Development Framework. 
  2. The university’s governance structure. This occasion provides an opportunity to introduce the Interim Council, responsible for steering this fledging institution towards growth and sustainability. I am publicly endorsing the Interim Council, signalling strongly from Government that it requires the unstinting support of national, provincial and local stakeholders in the public and private sectors.
  3. The university’s identity and character. The launch provides an opportunity to introduce the public to the university’s envisaged programmes; its vision and values; and its expression of the aspirations of the people and place where it is situated. This identity will be encoded in the logo and brand of the University of Mpumalanga.

We are committed to expanding our higher education system, numerically but also through a range of specialised programmes. Future students should choose to study at the University of Mpumalanga for its unique programmes. The initial academic footprint for 2014 must provide the basis for the development of long-term niche programmes.

Mpumalanga is one of South Africa’s most productive agricultural regions. The initial focus on agriculture should gradually be expanded to include programmes specialising in natural resource management, nature conservation, plant and animal sciences, forestry and wood sciences, technology and wild life management.

The services sector contributes close to 60% of provincial Gross Domestic Product. The tourism sector is especially important in this region. Infrastructure upgrades and the refurbishment of nature reserves will stimulate demand for skills in hospitality management. This will be addressed by the University of Mpumalanga.

I am particularly pleased with the envisaged Foundation Phase teacher development programme at the Siyabuswa Campus. The revival of the former Ndebele College of Education at Siyabuswa as part of the University of Mpumalanga provides an opportunity to develop a new generation of teachers some of whom will be recruited from rural areas. They will be educated to teach in the provincial indigenous African languages. It is envisaged that teaching and learning will be supported and complemented by a Centre for African Language Teaching (CALT). This multi-disciplinary research centre will play a pivotal role in building the research agenda and strengthening research capacity with specific emphasis on researching developments in the use of African languages in teaching and learning.

It is envisaged that the Siyabuswa campus will expand to include intermediate phase teacher education as well as becoming a centre for continuing teacher development offering programmes to teachers across the province. Another impressive aspect is the development of a teaching school next to the campus, in partnership with Mpumalanga Department of Education and the University of Johannesburg.  This will enable teachers to integrate practical teaching into their curriculum from the onset.

These are the academic foundations, but this university may expand into other areas such as engineering specialising in industrial and manufacturing, agricultural, chemical and computer systems engineering; health sciences and related clinical sciences; management, economics and finance fields with areas of specialisation in logistics management and local government.

Institutional establishment has been given a major boost with the appointment of the Interim Council under the leadership of Dr Mabunda. Dr Mabunda, I am pleased to say, has firm roots in this region and will be able to steer the university between the demands placed on a national institution and meeting local needs. The Interim Council has taken the first steps towards establishing a Strategic Management Team to undertake the day-to-day operations of the university within the determined framework.

This new University will draw its academic staff from South Africa, the region and other countries of the world. Remember that this University will be sandwiched between two important regional universities, the University of Swaziland in Mbabane and Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo. Academic and research collaboration between these three institutions should be encouraged. These two universities housed us during apartheid times. Communist Party member Ruth First was Director of Research and Training at Eduardo Mondlane University when she was killed in 1982 by an apartheid regime letter bomb. South African students and academics were welcomed at the University of Swaziland. These are the ties that bind us to these two great institutions of Southern Africa.

Lastly, I would like to extend our warmest gratitude to many institutions and people who have been instrumental in ensuring that we reach this historic milestone. The Provincial Executive Committee, under Premier David Mabuza, has made sure of our success in establishing the first university in this province - The University of Mpumalanga - siyabonga kakhulu ngokusixhasa emizameni yethu yokwakha lenyuvesi.

Dr. Mabunda and other members of the Interim Council: we want to thank you profoundly for the outstanding work you have done in ensuring that this project takes off. As the Department of Higher Education and Training, we will continue to support you as you grow this institution from strength to strength.

The National Institute of Higher Education - Mpumalanga has been a key partner in recognising the need for a university in the province and has provided practical support to ensure its establishment. Its role in the revitalisation of the Siyabuswa Campus, in partnership with the Mpumalanga Department of Education, the University of Johannesburg and the Department of Higher Education and Training, is appreciated.

The University of Johannesburg has been behind the building of key aspects of the academic programme for the new university. It has provided intellectual leadership in the development of the hospitality programme, the foundation phase teacher education programme, the teaching school and the Centre for African Languages teaching.

The University of Pretoria for partnering with the new university and supporting the implementation of the agricultural sciences programme. We are confident that your support will provide the University of Mpumalanga with the intellectual capital that will enable it to excel in this and other related academic fields.

We would also like to thank The European Union for their R24 million financial support for the Foundation Phase Teacher Education Programme. We value the partnership with the European Union and look forward to similar collaboration in the future. We would also like to thank Elma Philanthropies for supporting the business plan for the Siyabuswa Campus and committing to R10 million in seed funding for the establishment of the Centre for African Languages Teaching.

Most importantly I would like to thank our President, Jacob Zuma for his unstinting support in this whole task of the establishment of the two new universities in our country. The President has been passionately supporting and encouraging us at every turn, and without this we would not be where we are today. I must also thank Deputy Minister, Mr Mduduzi Manana, Director General, Mr Gwebs Qonde and his senior management team in the department for all the hard work they have put in driving this project. Indeed we must also thank all the major stakeholders in this province for their support. We now proudly say that all we can do now is just to take off to higher levels in the establishment of this university.

I would also like to thank the Shongwe family, who submitted a claim for this land, for not objecting to the proposed development of the University of Mpumalanga. You have demonstrated your Africaness and the spirit of Ubuntu by allowing us to build a university to educate generations of our people on this land.  Your gesture is noble and symbolic and comes when we are commemorating the centenary of the Land Act of 1913 which dispossessed people like yourselves.

Ngiyabonga

1. See Sarua, (2012). Profile of Higher Education in Southern Africa. Volume 2: National Perspectives. Available: http://www.sarua.org/files/publications/SARUA%20leadership%20Dialogue%20Series/SARUA%20Profiles%20of%20HE%20Vol%202.pdf. Accessed on 22 October 2013.  Pg. 78.

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