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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 14, No. 32, 20 August 2015

In this Issue:

Red Alert

"Fighting tigers, smashing flies and hunting foxes, upgraded to Sky-net": intensify efforts against corruption

By Alex Mashilo

Well, if you wondered what the title of this Red Alert is all about, that is the Chinese government's programme to clamp down on corruption. By tigers it is meant senior officials above ministerial or provincial levels, including, senior officials and leaders of the governing party - the Chinese Communist Party's (CPC's) Central Committee and Politburo who are found to be corrupt. As well as their counterparts in the private sector.

Widely-known "tigers" are Zhou Yongkang - former member of Standing Committee of CPC Politburo; Xu Caihou - former Vice President of the Central Military Commission and Politburo member; Ling Jihua - former Minister of the General Office of CPC Central Committee. They were all investigated punished, according to the presentations we received as South African Communist Party (SACP) delegation during our cadre development and local economic development visit to China in June. As can be seen, the military is not excluded from this anti-corruption campaign. On 15 January, 16 general levels officers were investigated. On 2 March, 14.

By flies it is meant officials below the above-mentioned levels.

The names of those investigated are widely published in the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). The commission does not wait for allegations to conduct its work. At any time any official can be inspected for adherence to discipline. There is therefore a distinction between discipline inspection and investigation for wrongdoing. Discipline inspection is a proactive, preventive measure. Investigation for wrongdoing is a responsive instrument.

According to the presentations, between 6 December 2012 and 11 April 2014, 285 officials falling under the category "flies" were published on the CCDI website for their violation of Party discipline - which is stricter than the law, or for their violation of the law. On average, 4, 423 officials had their wrongdoings published on the CCDI website on an average of 14 people per week. And there are serious consequences resulting from this.

By foxes it is meant criminal suspects who flee to other countries. From July to December 2012, 680 foxes were hunted down. About 74 of them committed crimes involving hundreds of millions of yuan - Chinese currency. The hunt for foxes was upgraded to Sky-net. Under Sky-net, the hunt is carried out from the sky, if needs be from the space through any necessary intelligence methods and equipment.

On 4 August, the official Xinhua News Agency reported that Wu Fusheng (51) the chairman of a machine making company, China First Heavy Industries, committed suicide while under discipline inspection by the CCDI. He was reportedly found hanging in his office in Qiqihar city in the Heilongjiang province at about midnight on 2 August.

What can progressive and left political movements and governments learn from all this?

There is no doubt that we need our own "Fighting tigers, smashing flies and hunting foxes" in South Africa. The rest of the world's progressive and revolutionary movement too!

Alex Mashilo is SACP Spokesperson, and writes in his own capacity as Fulltime Professional Revolutionary.


Corruption is counterproductive, no doubt counterrevolutionary!

By Cde Chris Matlhako

Is corruption, in its widest meaning, perceived or real, the undoing of progressive or left governments' policy implementation? This is not a new debate. But seems to be gaining traction. In much of what we consider the progressive and left governments in the current period it warrants attention in order to develop appropriate solutions, both in the medium- and long-term. Despite, the contested narratives, particularly the myriad Western-oriented mainstream media, Bretton Woods institutions with their obvious and stated goal - read Western capitalism and democracy; and institutions such as Transparency International, progressives and left forces will do well to take the ramifications of corruption seriously, both in the private and public sectors and to set out clear policies to deal decisively with this scourge. Corruption is a class issue.

Corruption should, in the final analysis, be understood in its class manifestations. Corruption essentially entails siphoning off money and opportunities from the state and broadly in the economy, both private and public. It has the effect of weakening the capacity of the state and the economy. Therefore, it is in the best interest of progressive and left governments to up the ante in fighting corruption - with medium-term policy instruments - and ultimately entrench the trajectory of social transformation.

Recent upsurges and reportage of the entrenchment of corruption, particularly in progressive and left governments has once-more raised the spectre of crippling governance, diminishing popular confidence by the masses and generally and a degenerating political project. This has serious ramifications for an endearing left project. Some recent mass protests and mobilisation against progressive left governments in Latin America was carried out in the main on the basis of wide-spread allegations of endemic corruption.

It is generally agreed that perceived and real corruption have an impact on the legitimacy, or lack thereof, of a democratic state. Whereas others perceive corruption to originate from a sense of impunity derived from a negative evaluation of the state's ability to curb it, an efficient and trusted judiciary is central to curbing corruption, alongside other policy positions, such as witness protection, incentivised system to report corruption, agencies to fight corruption, etc.

Both here and elsewhere, corruption has been held up as a major impediment in an endeavour towards progressive policy implementation generally. The impact of corruption on the broader economy is indeed very huge and has negative consequences. In particular, for those seeking to bring about social transformation. Corruption in both the public and private sectors drains resources on a massive scale as 'dirty money' flows outwards to be, amongst others laundered by tax evaders, criminal networks and other corrupt elements.

"Governments in many countries are under siege as a direct result of scandals and their economic policies seem uncertain, while slowing world economic growth is adding to the difficulties", writes Frank Vogl, the author of Waging War on Corruption: Inside the Movement Fighting the Abuse of Power. Corruption is therefore a strategic enemy of the revolutionary process anywhere in the world, including South Africa. "Corruption in South Africa has grown and become a social problem"; former Finance and Current Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Pravin Gordhan once asserted. Thus, governments will also be judged, amongst others by the extent to which they make serious headway in dealing with corruption decisively. Generally, there has been movement in this direction in our country, but much still needs to be done to demonstrate an unmatched commitment in this regard.

If reportage in the major publications, particularly the mainstream, Western-orientated media and elsewhere is anything to go by, progressive and left governments, and those seeking to bring about fundamental change in their societies, are facing a daunting task going forward. Latin America, which is in the process of transition from a neoliberal agenda towards a progressive or left trajectory, is marred in huge scandals. In fact the progressive leaders of Argentina, Chile and Brazil are allegedly enveloped in one scandal or another.

Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner is besieged by allegations that she has vastly enriched herself while in office. She has also been accused of being involved in the murder of a prominent lawyer. However, a court recently cleared her of any wrongdoing. Chile's President Michelle Bachelet is under fire because her son has allegedly obtained major funding from enterprises involved in government deals. Brazil's corruption allegations have become widespread across region. They include a strategic state asset - Petrobras, the state-owned oil corporation. Petrobras, the largest state-owned corporation, it is believed, illustrates part of the broader problem in many Latin American countries (even elsewhere) of the close corrupt relationships between major enterprises, corporate executives, and powerful politicians and the political parties.

The same is true for democratic South Africa! A recent Western Cape High Court decision to order the "Democratic Alliance" (DA) to reverse the tender processes in awarding JK Structures a tender worth R113.5 million, illustrates the point of this nexus.

In India, the wide-spread acceptance of the 'black money' also presents huge challenges in the context of the fight against corruption and measures to be undertaken.

Much of the National Assembly's time in the recent period has been, in the main spent on trying to make sense of the different opinions regarding the Nkandla saga. The saga took on varying forms as the different political parties positioned themselves; and as glaring populists-antics politics were played out on its floor and beamed into millions of homes. This was also characterised by a pseudo-radical "Pay back the money" campaign as the real threat of real corruption was drowned out in the theatre of petty politicking.

It is said that 'corruption stonewalls growth in Latin America' and China's extensive crackdown on government corruption, which has already netted hundreds of thousands of officials, is now spilling over the country's borders. There are reports that China has already approached the US State Department with a view of seeking extradition of almost 15 notables to stand trial in China.

These and many other initiatives seem to suggest that we have not made significant progress in this regard. In particular, progressives and left government, which will, both objectively and subjectively, be closely scrutinised and tested with respect to their endeavours to deal with the scourge, and be expected to provide lasting policy solutions to this social menace. Indeed, there is perhaps none who does not rail against corruption and its baneful impact on any country's economy as well as its social fabric.

Corruption allows the ruling class and private interests to thrive, weakens the state and has serious implications for the economy. It is essentially a process of siphoning off money and keeping a large part of the economy outside of public scrutiny. It has been one of the most effective tools of ruling classes to; one, reduce income distribution to the minimum necessary level and; two, keep significant part of their capital 'private'. The phenomenon of 'black money' - untaxed income from under-the-table transactions in India, is particularly instructive in comprehending the implications this has. Unless a significant transformation of social and political power is effected in our societies, it would be impossible to make a dent in corruption as it has entrenched itself as one of the most important ways in which ruling classes effect accumulation of capital.

Cde Chris Matlhako is South African Communist Party Central Committee and Politburo member and serves in these capacities as full time Secretary for International Affairs.


Capitalist greed

By Walter Mothapo

"A party that is not confident in itself cannot win the confidence of the masses. Without a strong party leadership, having the power to act promptly and direct the activities of the members, a revolutionary party cannot exist", Vladimir Lenin,1908

Recently an unusual story broke in the media, especially TV. It was about a wealthy American dentist and part-time hunter who killed a much loved or should I say, celebrated lion in Zimbabwe National Park.


Pursuit for trophy hunting.

This indeed enraged animal rights groups both in the U.S. and Zimbabwe alike to an extent that there was a call for his extradition. The irony of the call is that all of a sudden there was united faith in a highly vilified Zimbabwean justice system. This single incident in itself, though not isolated, is a case in point of the destructive nature of capitalism.

This specific killing of a lion, I would argue, symbolises a classic example of crass materialism in practice and the vile nature of capitalist morality. The destruction of the environment, plunder of resources, cultural and political dominance by powerful countries are all threads of a modern day imperialism.

Forget about big political lexicon and extravagant theories. The simple analogy is that if the capitalist thesis prevails the communist antithesis would be a natural response. Communists would continue to assert and maintain the argument that capitalism does not have a human face in all its manifestations.

The illustration of the hunter as a protagonist in this capitalist episode of ego, selfishness and greed serves to warn the opponents and vociferous critics of the SACP, that for as long as the world is not a better, safer and egalitarian place to live in, there is no question about the relevance of Marxism. Our Marxism is not about dogma, sterile theory, revolutionary nostalgia or historical or cultural sentiment. Ours is a living philosophy that guides us in firmly responding to world's injustices.

The SACP's raison d'etre and objectives are made salient in our 10th Congress Discussion Document entitled "Our Marxism". The document asserts, among others, that "our belief is that the struggle for a socialist transition is not about a simple choice between reform or revolution, but a challenge to combine reform and revolution in a sustained mass based transformational struggle." I would like to contend that most of the discourses that ensue within the liberation movement miss this simple dialectics.

Whether we reflect on the National Democratic Revolution, National Development Plan, the Freedom Charter, the role of the judiciary, the media and even questioning in a bizarre way the relevance and role of each other's organisations, we often fail to link the notions of reform, transformation and revolution, as well as contextualising the role of the masses.

Let's take a lesson for an example from our revolutionary icon Nelson Mandela on his less talked about reflections on the Freedom Charter. Mandela says there are two things we should bear in mind when we execute the Freedom Charter. First we have to identify the social forces that propel it. Second we must 'educate, empower and mobilise those social forces to struggle for it". His point is that we can't ponder carrying out any radical policy or programme based on the Freedom Charter without 'consciountising' the masses about it so that they remain mobilised on its defence. But do we do that or propose alternatives to Mandela's perspective?

No, instead 'comrade experts' outperform each other on who is still loyal to the Freedom Charter and who can best implement it. This leads to a futile debate that does not in any way appeal or resonate with the wishes of the people.

Our Party cynics need to be reminded of the historical occurrence that happened as early as 1927 during the contestation between Josiah Gumede and Plexley ka Isaka Seme for ANC leadership along the nationalist and socialist ideological lines. That nearly split and weakened the formative organisation. The lesson learnt was that the medley of nationalist and socialist ideologies are the 'two wings that make the liberation movement to fly'. Hence the ANC even today recognises and even celebrate this ideological co-existence.

Now, we were asked by our adversaries paradoxically on the eve of the SACP's 94th anniversary to ignore history and thus turn a blind eye on our rich heritage and the institutional memory that provide compass and landscape to solve our current political challenges. Lest we are accused of existence only for historical significance. If we succumb to this proposition how different are we going to be from the DA, COPE and EFF to mention but a few who have no history and collective wisdom to show?

Those who question the relationship between the SACP and the ANC must tell us of any constitutional meeting of the ANC that resolved SACP members must no longer simultaneously join the ANC and vice-versa. And that when the long standing principle of dual membership continues how it then constitutes factionalism?

After all what is factionalism because we seem to coin everyone we disagree with as factionalists?

If lobbying for positions leads to open "horse-trading" taking place within the constitutional provisions of the movement and no underhand deals are made or money exchanged; how is that called factionalism?

Strangely Trevor Manuel's labelling of the Party as factional came after the recent Alliance Summit that heaped praise on the SACP as the most stable and factional-free component of the Alliance.

The ANC is often referred to as a 'broad church' or an 'omnibus' because it embraces all schools of progressive ideological thought. Granted, but it would be prudent to take a leaf from the ANC's 2011 January 08 statement that states: "Whilst others may change allegiances and their mission with shifting sands of illusion, the ANC remains consistent. We adapt to and move with the times, but our mission remains the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society. The ANC is the most consistent entity for transformation of our society". I reckon communists and non-communists alike need to heed to this profound call, lest they vacillate and think that they have arrived at the final destination of an omnibus like Manuel does.

It is crucial for us as members of the SACP not to get distracted in our revolutionary course by all the brouhaha emanating from the political doldrums. Our Marxism is about knowing on which side of the fence or the class divide we are. And this is an ongoing, multi-dimensional and protracted struggle. Happy 94th anniversary SACP!

Walter Mothapo is a member of the Provincial Executive Committee of the SACP in Limpopo, and writes in personal capacity.

Umsebenzi Online is the online voice of the South African Working Class