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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 12, No. 43, 6 December 2013

In this Issue:

   

Red Alert

SACP statement on the passing away of Madiba

…the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love”:

Last night the millions of the people of South Africa, majority of whom the working class and poor, and the billions of the rest of the people the world over, lost a true revolutionary, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Tata Madiba. 

The South African Communist Party (SACP) joins the people of South Africa and the world in expressing its most sincere condolences to Ms Graca Machel and the entire Mandela family on the loss of what President Zuma correctly described as South Africa's greatest son, Comrade Mandela. We also wish to use this opportunity to express our solidarity with the African National Congress, an organisation that produced him and that he also served with distinction, as well as all his colleagues and comrades in our broader liberation movement. As Tata Madiba said: “It is not the kings and generals that make history but the masses of the people, the workers, the peasants…” 

The passing away of Cde Mandela marks an end to the life of one of the greatest revolutionaries of the 20th century, who fought for freedom and against all forms of oppression in both their countries and globally. As part of the masses that make history, Cde Mandela’s contribution in the struggle for freedom was located and steeled in the collective membership and leadership of our revolutionary national liberation movement as led by the ANC – for he was not an island. In Cde Mandela we had a brave and courageous soldier, patriot and internationalist who, to borrow from Che Guevara, was a true revolutionary guided by great feelings of love for his people, an outstanding feature of all genuine people’s revolutionaries.

At his arrest in August 1962, Nelson Mandela was not only a member of the then underground South African Communist Party, but was also a member of our Party’s Central Committee. To us as South African communists, Cde Mandela shall forever symbolise the monumental contribution of the SACP in our liberation struggle. The contribution of communists in the struggle to achieve the South African freedom has very few parallels in the history of our country. After his release from prison in 1990, Cde Madiba became a great and close friend of the communists till his last days.

The one major lesson we need to learn from Mandela and his generation of leaders was their commitment to principled unity within each of our Alliance formations as well as the unity of our Alliance as a whole and that of the entire mass democratic movement. Their generation struggled to build and cement the unity of our Alliance, and we therefore owe it to the memory of Cde Madiba to preserve the unity of our Alliance. Let those who do not understand the extent to which blood was spilt in pursuance of Alliance unity be reminded not to throw mud at the legacy and memory of the likes of  Madiba by being reckless and gambling with the unity of our Alliance. 

The SACP supported Madiba's championing of national reconciliation. But national reconciliation for him never meant avoiding tackling the class and other social inequalities in our society, as some would like to make us believe today. For Madiba, national reconciliation was a platform to pursue the objective of building a more egalitarian South African society free of the scourge of racism, patriarchy and gross inequalities. And true national reconciliation shall never be achieved in a society still characterized by the yawning gap of inequalities and capitalist exploitation.

In honour of this gallant fighter the SACP will intensify the struggle against all forms of inequality, including intensifying the struggle for socialism, as the only political and economic solution to the problems facing humanity.

For the SACP the passing away of Madiba must give all those South Africans who had not fully embraced a democratic South Africa, and who still in one way or the other hanker to the era of white domination, a second chance to come to terms with a democratic South Africa founded on the principle of majority rule.

We call upon all South Africans to emulate his example of selflessness, sacrifice, commitment and service to his people.

The SACP says Hamba kahle Mkhonto!

Issued by SACP

Contact:

Alex Mashilo - National Spokesperson
Mobile: 082 9200 308
Office: 011 339 3621
Email: alexmashilo.sacp@gmail.com

 

Reflections on the handling on Nkandla investigations

By Siyamkel’impi Sibaya and Mantwa Garebowe

Before and after the ANC’s 52nd and 53rd conferences there has been a heightened offensive against the ANC-led alliance from the liberals, reactionaries and counter-revolutionaries. The attacks have been directed at the core of our revolution, the transformation of our country into a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society. At the heart of this revolution, lies the goal to end class, racial and gendered inequalities, poverty and under-development of the majority imposed by colonial and apartheid capitalism which pioneered the development of white minority supremacists.

This attack comes, in the main, from our principal class enemy which is monopoly- and white monopoly-capital. There are some sections of the comprador and parasitic lava bourgeois found within our movement who have been co-opted into this agenda. The two are brought together in the exploitation of the masses of our people by narrow BEE dealings and the greed of private capital accumulation.

The comprador, parasitic and lava bourgeois functions mainly as the “political connections” and constitute one of the core sections of the new tendency. This section will strive by all means to be unequal to the masses of our people by fighting to capture as many tenders as their connections allow. Thus they don’t care about the people, their conditions of inequality, poverty and unemployment, but see the people as a vehicle to be exploited politically and economically.

A similar tendency has found its way and connections in the labour movement. This manifests itself in factional fights for leadership positions used to build relations with captains of industry and pursue business unionism, riding on workers’ collective power. Part of this link with control over worker funds, totalling multi-millions in subscriptions, agency shop fees, pension and provident funds, medical aid schemes, sick pay funds, union investment companies, etc., as well as service providers such as financial services administrators and financiers, including all sorts of loan sharks, banks, property developers and administrators, all other services that have to do with money in unions, and the corrupt use of procurement as it happens between certain corrupt elements in the public and private sectors.

All these are used as a resource base to dispense patronage and advance personal interests, particularly private appropriation and opulent lifestyles while exploiting the language of the masses to fight against our movement. Unless the leading formations of the working class stamp their authority, our movement will continuously suffer from incoherence and discord, and could lose sight of who the strategic enemy of the revolution is, given the manifestation of this enemy within.

Polokwane and Mangaung threatened these agendas.

The outcomes of Polokwane particularly the economic policy resolutions which states that “The changes we seek will not emerge spontaneously from the ‘invisible hand’ of the market”, and the Mangaung resolutions which were encored on a clarion call to ensure a radical phase of transition, have threatened this agenda. In particular, Mangaung leadership outcome dealt a blow to hidden ambitions that were coated with public announcements of not being interested.

Under these conditions where the various groupings that did not emerge started working to alter the balance of forces inside our movement, the state and society. Others started planning to weaken the elected leadership or impose their agenda, and if it all fails, then leave our movement under the guise that its leading formations have sold out. But if there is failure to gunner support, then retreat back in the movement to try and alter the balance of forces within for future possibilities. 

The strategic targets of the attacks are the SACP, followed by the ANC where focus is placed on the President, Cde Jacob Zuma. The attacks have for a while also been increasing against Cosatu, to the extent there is failure to win it for an oppositionist, ultra-left, workerist, “civil society”, and other agendas.

The handling of investigations by the Public Protector

The manner in which the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has been handling investigations is generally unpalatable. It is reminiscent of the former head of prosecuting authority Bulelani Ngcuka, particularly the media style of work. But worst, Madonsela has publicly associated the Office of the Public Protector with the DA by addressing its rally last year, 2012, in August. Since then it increasingly became difficult to distinguish between what the DA wants from what Madonsela is doing. She has since been committing serious errors, wittingly or unwittingly. The clumsily handling of investigations and reports in a manner that reflects possible biasness can only be ignored to our own peril.

Where investigations concerned the DA, Madonsela changed findings in favour of the DA, producing reports that are altered. This has been the case with the investigations into the Midvaal Local Municipality in Gauteng and the Western Cape provincial government. Where investigations relate to the ANC, Madonsela would be seen making comments about reports that are yet to be released, throwing negative hints, casting aspersions, and priming the public for negative reception, over and above the leaks of reports which has become frequent to certain media houses.

Madonsela’s investigation into the IEC Chairperson and the manner in which she handled the report serves as a stark warning how she might be thinking she is above the constitution. Her refusal to institute investigation into the leaks makes matters worse. Madonsela’s parallel investigation on the upgrades at the residence of the President bear no different mark, and cannot be divorced from the general attack directed against our movement.

Nkandla investigations and report

The Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI), which is a joint multi party committee composed of the ANC, the DA, COPE, IFP, FFP Plus and ID which qualify in terms of the results of the 2009 elections, has conducted work on Nkadla and considered an associated report. The JSCI’s report is accessible through internet via a website of a Western Cape based university.  When the JSCI report was published and tabled in parliament there was no objection on the accuracy of its contents in terms of the methodology of its investigations, its observations, its findings and its conclusions.

The events that preceded and unfolded around the security upgrades of President’s residence are as important as the contents of the report. It is thus important to properly grasp and understand the sequence of events regarding this matter in order to decode the covert and subtle yet obvious political agendas that have characterised the matter.

On 29 September 2012, City Press reported about the upgrading of the President’s residence at Nkandla. The paper claimed the project consumed R203 million in tax payers’ money. The DA immediately responded by calling on the Public Protector to institute investigations.

On 1 October 2012 the Ministry of Public Works responded, clarifying the matter, essentially stating that the department acted within the parameters of the law, in particular within the prescripts of the Ministerial Hand Book, and that the residence of the President are declared a National Key point, thus information regarding the upgrade could not be divulged since that had a potential to compromise the security of the president and his family.

In 11 November 2012 nine opposition parties endorsed a motion of no confidence in the President in terms of Section 102 (2) of the constitution.

On 16 November the president responded on the questions in parliament, and raised the following salient points:

  1. The house was built from the Family coffers.  He emphasised on the distinction between work on building the home and the security enhancement which was done on the existing property.
  2. The minister had established a task team to investigate and that the Auditor General would also investigate at an appropriate time.  
  3.  Should the investigations unearth acts of wrong doing of any kind, necessary actions would be taken. 
  4. The intention to upgrade the house was always part of the family plan but was delayed by violence in the province which saw their home being burnt twice. Once the violence was over they took a decision to extend the home with roundavels. 
  5. By the time the government arrived to do security upgrades they found constructors who were already on site. So government was to do security upgrades on the existing houses and not to build houses.
  6. Whoever wanted to raise the matter had to provide proof where the president had used the money.
  7. He had been convicted in the court of public opinion, and labelled the first class corrupt man.

During November 2012 the Department of Public Works, working with the Minister of Police and the Minister of State Security established a joint task team to probe matters concerning the security upgrades. The terms of reference of the task team included looking at the procedural integrity, over-pricing and general supply chain procedural issues.

During January 2013 the Department of Public Works made the findings on the investigations public. The Task Team  found that there were  irregularities in the procurement processes for the security upgrade, and recommended further investigations take place by the appropriate authorities – Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the Auditor-General. The Task Team also recommended that should there be any unlawful acts, then the law enforcement agencies should come in and the culprits must face the full might of the law.

On 20 June 2013 the Task Team report was tabled in Parliament and given its sensitive security content, the report was referred to the JSCI for consideration. On 31 July 2013 the report was presented to the JSCI. On 13 November 2013 the JSCI report came into public light.

These events are important to consider, in that they reveal the interests of parties in this matter and for an example show that the DA’s affinity with the courts has waned, and it not as strong as with the Public Protector. Their first call on the matter was on the investigation by the Public Protector. 

This will later explain the conduct of the Public Protector when she acted as if she had handlers to report to or some sections of society that she had to satisfy even at the cost of repeating the mistakes of acting like the Bulelani Ngcuka: conducting public trial against the President by way, among others, of using snippets of a report that is yet to be released to make statements that have the effect to cast aspersions against the President.

On 11 November 2012 about 9 opposition parties tabled a failed motion of no confidence against the President. These events happened with strong intensity towards Mangaung. On 18 November 2012 Times Live ran an article “EXPOSED: How Zuma got off the hook”. Both of these issues were taken to court by the DA. In both cases the Public Protector had no space to intervene and since the matters were already in courts. Surely this must have frustrated the right-wing.

In this context the so called Nkandla gate became the only salvation. Indeed the events leading to the squabble between Thuli Madonsela on the one hand and the Department of Public Works and the Security Cluster on the other demonstrate why the DA would see the Public Protector as the bridge in achieving their objectives to discredit the liberation movement. The salient findings and recommendations of the JSCI are important to take into account in this regard.

The JSCI findings and recommendations

In summary, the JSCI report finds that:

  1. In 2008 the Zuma Family engaged the services of an architect to design and produce plans since they intended to renovate their residence. Only in 2009 did the Department of Public Works become involved. This is in line with the statement presented by the President in parliament.
  2. On the basis of the involvement by the Department of Public Works, recommendations were made.  This includes the fact that the security upgrades were to be divided into two focus areas, viz: (a) the state owned land covering 5.1598 hectors and (b) the property of the president covering 3.832 hectors (p. 9). It is emphasised that the state owned property remained in the hands of the state and incorporates the majority of the recommended security features.
  3. The decision of the cabinet with regard to the security upgrades whether on the sitting president or deputy or former presidents and deputies did not place any limit on the amount to be spent for this purpose.
  4. There is no evidence that the Department of Public Works paid for the construction of the house of the President.
  5. A number of mentioned companies did not go through the security clearance process as required and this is despite the advice from intelligence.
  6. The JSCI met on numerous occasions to deliberate on the Nkandla report. At a committee meeting held on 28 August 2013 two DA members withdrew from the meeting. The reason given was that they were instructed by their parliamentary leader to do so.

The above, particularly point 2, clearly shows that the allegation that the President used state resources for his personal benefit are far-fetched. The President, as the finding shows, only owns 3.8 ha while the state owns 5.2 ha which shall remain the property of the state. It is also important to note from the report that 52%, the majority of the spending, went to the state owned property, and not the property that is owned by the President’s family.   

About the conduct of those serving in such a sensitive committee, the JSCI, there are rules which include the fact that no member of a security service may obey a manifestly illegal order and that neither the security services, nor any of their members, may, in the performance of their functions: (a) prejudice a political party interest that is legitimate in terms of the Constitution; or (b) further, in a partisan manner, any interest of a political party. The rules state that no person shall disclose any intelligence, information or document, the publication of which is restricted by law, and which is obtained by that person in the performance of his or her functions.

In this context a call must be made to have these members’ investigated to find out whether the instruction from their parliamentary leader was not based on violating the rules. The JSCI clearly finds that the instruction constituted political interference.

Parallel investigations

The JSCI report (p. 33, para. 11.1) expresses concern about parallel investigations and concludes as follows.

“…when a matter of public interest requires investigation, the conducting of parallel civil, criminal and even departmental investigations has regularly become the practice. The appropriateness of such parallel investigations on the same matter must be serious[sly] considered by Government, institutions and entities which have investigative powers or the authority to authorize such investigations. It heightens negative perceptions and can lead to a lack of confidence in the investigative body. This will be the case if entities involved in parallel investigations arrive at contradictory findings, conclusions or recommendations. There is also the further danger of seriously prejudicing or compromising criminal investigations or civil cases that may follow.” 

Earlier (i.e. on p. 32) the report correctly warns of the cost implications of parallel investigations: “…parallel investigations that emanated from the Nkandla property”… resulted in “unnecessary cost incurred…”

The report recommends that greater cooperation is required between all concerned. Institution and entities which have investigative powers or the authority to authorize such investigations should not be inappropriately motivated or influenced to launch … an investigation into a matter which has already been assigned to another entity.

These findings are very important and hit at the belly of Madonsela’s modus operandi as the Public Protector, although she is not mentioned directly on this point. What, except, “inappropriately motivated or influenced”, led to Thuli Madonsela to launch an investigation on Nkandla whereas the matter was not only either under investigations or has been investigated already?

Particularly the following must be noted from the report in relation to the above point.

It is clear that the investigations that have been conducted recommended that… “matters relating to the allocation of tenders and appointment of contractors should be referred to the Office of the Auditor General for full investigation in order to establish if there was any abuse of unlawful conduct” (JSCI, p. 35). The JSCI concurred with this recommendation (p. 35). “The JSCI furthermore” recommended “that if any criminal activity is identified by the investigation of the Auditor General then this should immediately be referred to SAPS and the SIU for further investigation. In addition, the committee “strongly” recommended “that it would be advisable to first wait for the finalization of the investigation of the AG before further referrals to the SAPS or SIU”. This also relates to the variations that exceed the threshold set by the treasury.

These recommendations reinforce the point we raised about Thuli Madonsela’s modus operandi. The above recommendations should show that the matter was receiving sufficient attention. In addition, referrals to the AG, SAPS and the SIU, of investigations and processing (through appropriate channels, i.e. prosecution and so on) of any wrongdoing discovered from the project clearly should show that the involvement (through parallel investigation) of any other entity through parallel investigation could only be“inappropriately motivated or influenced”.

Moreover, such involvement would be littered with either undermining of the AG, SAPS and the SIU or with an agenda to cast aspersions and manufacture mistrust in these institutions. Alternatively, but as a contradiction, it remains to be seen whether Thuli Madonsela’s report will not have similar recommendations for the AG, SAPS and the SIU to take over certain aspects of investigations. Should this be the case then the concern of parallel investigations constituting a wasteful expenditure will be confirmed. If not, the concern (see the preceding paragraphs) in relation to different findings and conclusions from parallel investigations will be confirmed.   

Conclusion

It is obvious the Office of the Public Protector under the stewardship of Thuli Madonsela has possibility veered into an instrument of political battles in collaboration with various forces that are opposed to the direction of our revolution. Dealing with Madonsela’s conduct of affairs from the standpoint of bureaucratic approaches without analysing political aspects will impose limitations on what is to be done.

Madonsela has been acting inconsistently. This is firmly rooted in the opposition politics that she has seemingly aligned with (e.g. attending a DA rally). It is therefore important to look into the assimilation of powers that are not provided for in the constitution as well as those that are “above” the constitution by the Office Public Protector. Strengthening the Office of the Public Protector means that it must be insulated from what the JSCI refers to as “inappropriate motivation and influences”. In particular, Madonsela must take responsibility and be held accountable for the media leaks. A process in this regard must be set in motion to protect the public, starting with those who are affected by the leaks.

All of these must not be delinked from a programme that is required to confront the broader political agenda that could possibly have captured the Office of the Public Protector.

Siyamkel’impi Sibaya and Mantwa Garebowe are members of the primary alliance political formations and affiliates of our progressive trade union movement, writing in their personal capacity.

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