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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 14, No. 40, 8 October 2015

In this Issue:

Red Alert

ANC NGC must be alive to the imperialist attack on South Africa and its internal support

BY Alex Mashilo And Ian Beddowes

Of all the ANC NGC discussion documents the paper on international relations has been severely attacked by those who support or want to perpetuate the imperialist strangle-hold of our economy. Not only has the document been attacked by Tim Cohen, the editor of the Financial Mail, it has also been attacked by the liberal-fascists of the United States. They are unhappy that China's economic might - it is the world's second largest economy by GDP and the largest by both manufacturing and exports - is outside their control.

Imperialists do not want to see South Africa develop a strong economy independent of their control - which is why they are hell-bent on destabilising the BRICS initiative as a whole and all BRICS countries individually. The "Chinese Wall" is well-fortified against imperialist intrigue - which why the imperialist West has a serious problem with countries developing strong relations with China.

In some countries, Western imperialism has effected its policy of undemocratic regime change simply because the governments of those countries were establishing strong relations with China. Africa has been the worst affected.

South Africa's strengthening relations with China are similarly disconcerting to the imperialists and hence they have a serious problem also with the anti-imperialist tone of the ANC NGC international relations discussion document. Despite its weaknesses in terms of a lack of a revolutionary way forward on a number of issues, nevertheless the document is articulated in strongly anti-imperialist language.

The ANC must remain unapologetically anti-imperialist. It must deepen its work to achieve the transformation of the entire post-World War II United Nations' international regime, including its financial and security council architecture. The world must become a better place. The world needs a just and democratic world order as opposed to domination by a few!

For instance the recent utterances by the United States President Barack Obama when addressing the United Nations General Assembly must be condemned in strongest terms. Obama divided the world into weak and strong countries and said strong countries must take charge of the world's direction and destination. He also made military threats and declared the strongest army in the world may carry out those treats. This is fascism clothed in liberal "democratic" terms.

Recently also, the International Criminal Court announced that it will refer South Africa to the United Nations Security Council if it finds that the country did not comply with that court's rules on the issue of the controversial Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. We hold brief by the way.

At the centre of the United Nations Security Council, however, are three out of five permanent member states which are not signatories to the same rules. This, including, the United States. Which is why there was no issue with al-Bashir visiting that imperialist country and even addressing the United Nations General Assembly. What type of justice is pursued by this "International Court of Criminals"?

Cde Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo is SACP Spokesperson and writes in his capacity as a Full-time Professional Revolutionary
Cde Ian Beddowes is the General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Communist League and writes in his personal capacity.


Financial Mail editor’s criticism of the ANC NGC discussion document on international relations is vague and plays in the hands of imperialism 

By Sikhumbuzo Thomo

For the leading component of our national liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC) to convene a National General Council (NGC) as an important mid-point between its national conferences and introduce the policy documents on most important issues is nothing new. This is the same course of struggle that has led to the demise of apartheid. It is a continued advancement of the struggle towards its logical conclusion.

Our approach to international relations has always been based on ANC policies from branch level up, rather than work by some drafters in backrooms. This is the same principle that underpinned the development of ANC’s major policies.

As far back as 1969 the imperialist United States strategy was linked to its National Security Study Memorandum 39 on Southern Africa under the tutelage of Henry Kissinger. This memorandum, as seen in the quoted text that follows, was very instructive regarding the strategy:

“For the foreseeable future South Africa will be able to maintain    internal stability and effectively counter insurgent activity. The whites are here to stay and the only way that constructive change can come about is through them. There is no hope for the blacks to gain political rights they seek through violence, which will only lead to chaos and increase opportunities for the Communists. We can through selective relaxation of our stance toward the white regime encourage some modifications of their current racial and colonial policies. At the same time, we would take diplomatic steps to convince the black states of their area and that their current liberation majority rule aspirations in the South are not attainable by violence and that their only hope for a peaceful and prosperous future lies in the closer relations with the white dominated states.”

The memorandum went on to dismiss the liberation movements of Southern Africa as “ineffective and not realistic or supportive alternatives to continued colonial rule”. It precluded any possibility of the victory by these movements and questioned the depth and permanence of their resolve. Tim Cohen, the editor of the Financial Mail, does the same to this day (Financial Mail, 27 August 2015).

Cohen’s narrative is embedded in, and reminds us of the ideas that have been propagated by the United States and its satellites, the United Kingdom, Germany (West), France, Spain, Portugal, as opposed to the shifting international balance of forces and the emergence of alternatives such as the BRICS collective of countries. The Yankee imperialist nexus not only called for the isolation of our liberation movement, but also brought pressure to bear on neighbouring countries in Africa to co-operate with the apartheid regime that colonised our people. Imperialist states were thus seeking to protect their interests in Africa by using the apartheid regime as a de facto hegemonandpolicemen in our continent.

South Africa’s international relations and co-operation policy since 1994 seems to continue to be confusing many. A good measure of this confusion arises from the desire of each interested group that our democracy should subscribe to their misguided view of the world. Cohen and his market speculators who regard their financial dictatorship as democracy are no different. 

The ANC was not simply a victorious guerrilla movement which suddenly emerged from the bush to be confronted and confused by the challenges of governance and international relations. Most of the leadership in the ANC and its allies spent many years on the international stage harnessing support for its struggle against apartheid. It would seem Cohen has a view that the ANC today and our country’s involvement and partnership with the People’s Republic of China is surrogate in nature. Not true.

Cde Sikhumbuzo Thomo is a member of the ANC and the SACP, and writes in his personal capacity


Legislative provinces: The compromise of nation building and the principle of one united nation, one set of democratic laws 

ANC NGC debates 2015

By Chris ‘che’ Matlhako

Speculations regarding discussions at the upcoming ANC National General Council (NGC) have reached fever pitch. Various interests have gone to the media to sell their view-points. Others are trying to pre-empt the debates, the resolutions and the final outcomes, all upfront. If recent media reportage is anything to go by, the ANC NGC could become a watershed event in many respects. It could usher in a raft of progressive proposals in the context of the declared second, more radical phase of our country’s democratic transformation.

Debates on the NGC have allowed various sectors, including the media and “commentators”, to assert certain debates and topics, some of which – for one reason or another – have fallen by the wayside.

What is certain is that the recently released NGC discussion documents have sparked wide-spread debates. This augers well for discussions at the NGC. In this piece we look at the issue of:

The number and configuration of provinces

The ANC-led liberation alliance has not seriously taken up this issue since it was opened  more than a decade ago: in the run up to the 51st ANC National Conference, Stellenbosch 2002 and the 52nd ANC National Conference, Polokwane 2007.

The debate has stimulated heated perspectives and highlighted both convergences and divergences of political and ideological viewpoints.

The viewpoints on scrapping, retaining, and/or reducing the number of provinces are supported by a cross section of the political and ideological opposites spanning the political divide.

The review of provinces should be seen in the context of the shared historical perspective of a unitary democratic developmental state among alliance partners, the compromises and outcome of the 1990s negotiated settlement and the more than ten years of practical experiences since 1994.

The rationale is seen and understood to mean different things, not least the ANC’s historical unitary perspective of government and of course allegations based on subjective views about “absolute” power. However, the experience of successive ANC electoral commitments and implementation yields huge divergences. The pace of delivery has not matched that support due to among others the systemic problems and of institutions of governance, including the challenges of economic management.

This matter is also shaped by the direct outcomes of the subjective problems borne out of some unintended consequences and the shortcomings of the nation-building project itself.

The concept of rationalisation of the number of provinces, emanates from a belief that this will improve effecting governance. For different reasons both Gauteng and the Northern Cape are seen as candidates for the rationalisation process. KwaZulu-Natal was previously also coined as a candidate.

The debate is also aimed at ensuring effective mechanisms to ensure faster and decisive social delivery and management of social and economic administration. It has fuelled the basis for the examination of the lived experience of governance since 1994.

This debate has in the recent period been mediated by the conception of an ‘interventionist development state’. Former Minister of Local and Provincial Government Sydney Mufamadi wrote; “this process is to assess the state’s capacity for stable, coherent governance and developmental decision-making. It includes considerations such as decentralisation and devolution of government, administrative, reform and the distribution of power and functions across the three spheres of government.”

The ANC NGC 2015 discussion document – the chapter on Legislatures and Governance makes the following points:

“despite the significant success in configuring the new state, there are still contested issues requiring review and finality, including,

a.     Functionality of intergovernmental system;
b.     Provinces: Review of Provinces
c.     Powers and functions of different spheres and the impact on effective service delivery
d.     Inter-departmental Coordination: its effectiveness and if we have too many departments
e.     Mandates which are overlapping and fragmented”

Furthermore, it is noted:

“the implementation of major transformative policies around reconfiguration of the state has, in some cases, not been as speedily as mandated”.

The problems of the existing provincial governance structures are compounded by the challenges of the dispersal and related logistical co-ordination of power. This includes the relationship between the existing three spheres of government (i.e. national, provincial ad local) and equally important the constitution itself.

At the time federalist features were included in our governance system as a compromise by the ANC-led liberation alliance, the anti-liberation forces, conceived that this will dilute the “absolute” power of the ANC. In essence they were hoping that they would dilute the power of democratic majority rule at national level by maintaining some regional enclaves – the result of the geography of colonial and apartheid oppression and its patterns of racial and ethnic organisation of political power. 

Kadar Asmal wrote: “it could be therefore be argued that the Democratic Party, as the lineal successor to the Progressive Party, has been the only consistent supporter of some form federalism. The revival of the concept aortas in recent years among those who desired to protect minorities and who supported limited government”.

It should be added that the political parties with a history of ethnic and therefore regional strongholds based on Bantustans, violence and other things associated with the absence of democracy, parties such as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), favoured a federalist model.

Further, some of the anti-liberation forces conceived the federalist political features of provinces to be part of a broader “checks-and-balances” to ensure that the ANC does not have “absolute” power.

The division of the ex-Cape Province not just into Eastern Cape but also the Western Cape and Northern Cape (some parts going to the North West) sought to consolidate the so-called minorities’ support into the anti-liberation forces. It was “calculated” that the two would be governed by the anti-liberation forces and would ultimately act as bulwarks against the “dominant” or “big government” at the national level. It is through some of these mis/calculations that the Northern Cape Province, which many anticipate will be sacrificed in the scrapping and/or reduction of provinces, is perceived.

Though there are no clear cut candidates for the proposed rationalising effort, the Northern Cape and Gauteng seem to be early candidates for redrawing of provincial boundaries. The Gauteng provincial government however, in 2012 pre-empted any thought of considering scrapping and/or a reduction which would impact on it when it argued that “there is no one size fits all”.

The Northern Cape, which in its formative years was regarded as a ‘Cinderella’ province, and narrowly won by the ANC, managed during the gubernatorial of Manne Dipico to shed the image and won the first sets of provincial elections, increasing the electoral support for the ANC in the process. But thereafter, the province has for all intents and purposes experienced a steady decline in social, economic and political terms. The internal dynamics in the ANC characterised by factionalism and narrow regionalism have had a huge impact on the electoral vote and voter confidence in the governing party.

The Northern Cape is also said to be on the verge of delivering a hung parliament and/or going over to an opposition coalition. The electoral gains by the so-called Congress of the People (Cope) and “Economic Freedom Fighters” have led the DA to believe that they together stand a better chance of winning not only the Northern Cape but Gauteng as well. Interestingly, the now disbanded Independent Democrats (ID) of Patricia de Lille was unable to make much progress in the Northern Cape and the DA latched onto that vote and swallowed the ID, making it the official opposition in the provincial legislature.

The DA-held Western Cape has acted as a de facto opposition in its dealings with ANC-led national government and thus, playing out the dynamic of federalist versus unitary paradigm which characterised the constitution-making process and subsequent outcomes. In KwaZulu-Natal, the IFP tried to hold on to power through a campaign of terrible violence and intimidation. The widespread violence was meant to hold off contenders as it created “no-go zones”.

Over the years the DA has systematically targeted the fall of the ANC to advance its power’s spaces. It has targeted the metropolitan cities where cracks in the ANC have begun appearing with signs of the voter appeal that declined in the last elections. These have historically been difficult areas to win over, due a number of factors, not least the fact that middle and other strata of society are essentially shifting allegiances consistent with their characteristic vacillations and are not religiously tied to a particular voting pattern. The DA and other opposition parties are vying to win over suspect areas where the ANC electoral support has declined in the last elections, in particular, the big metropolitan municipalities.

The debate on the efficacy of the provinces and current system of provincial governance is timely for a number of reasons, not least the review of the systemic inhibiting factors that have held our democratic transition back in its attempts to advance the course of transformation.

There might have been a huge progress scored in the realm of constitutional changes, what still lacks way behind is the country’s ability to realise the expectations and aspirations of the majority to address inequality, poverty and marginalisation, including unemployment. The system of governance plays a crucial role in ensuring that government performs optimally and as such should be geared towards meeting these challenges.

There is a need to factor in the perspective ‘interventionist development state’ able to play the role expected of it. The East Asia experience of a ‘developmental state’ (though with some distortions) was interventionist in a real way and contributed towards higher levels of growth for those economies.

South Africa has both the basis and material conditions for building an ‘interventionist democratic developmental state’ to ensure a fairer society, equality and uplift scores of millions of those still trapped in poverty and on the fringes of society. Attached to this task would to be a relook at the local level of governance and develop appropriate powers properly locating the role of national planning.

The rationalisation of provinces is but one part of the processes needed to find proper adjustment towards enhanced service delivery and effective system of governance in our country. This must also include an assessment on metropolitan areas, in particular in Gauteng – which consist of three metropolitan areas with back-to-back boundaries. The place and role of the nation’s capital is another dimension that must be considered, i.e. creating a supra municipality with direct links with the national government given its nature and geography as the nation’s capital.

The Gauteng City Region which envisages wall-to-wall metros will have significant implications for a range of factors in the entire corporate governance system, not least the equitable share and its key variables. In this context exploring the designation of Tshwane – the nation’s capital as special administrative area (wherein, through a popular vote, the mayor and councillors will be elected) also begs the question and deeper reflection.

The rethink of provinces must look at the compromises of the 1990s’ negotiations in order to enhance the transformation project towards a South Africa that is defined in the Freedom Charter.

Provinces, rather than legislative powers that subject South African to different regulations, must become administrative centres of governance for purposes of localised co-ordination with common legislation and regulations applying to all South Africans and sectors decided democratically by Parliament and the national government – similarly, which must set a national policy direction.

Cde Chris ‘Che’ Matlhako is SACP Central Committee member and Secretary for International Affairs, and writes in personal capacity


Farewell Comrade Jorge Risquite Valdes, Commander of the Cuban Revolution

By Justice Piitso

Few days ago we received the devastating news that destiny has imposed itself on one of the greatest political genius of our times Comrade Jorge Risquite Valdes. We received the sad news that this great heroic revolutionary of our century has departed the land of the living. 

We take the opportunity of this rare moment to convey our deepest words of condolences to his family, friends and relatives. We take this rare moment to express our profound words of condolences to the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution Cde Fidel Castro, the Secretary of the Communist party of Cuba, President Raul Castro and the entire people of the Republic of Cuba. 

We have indeed lost a colossal of our struggle whose contribution to our historic mission of the emancipation of humanity will forever remain immeasurable. The world has lost an outstanding revolutionary and one of the greatest internationalists of our epoch.

There is no a task so difficult than to engrave the epitaph of such an extraordinary son of man produced by the struggles of the world working class movement. His greatest feats to humanity was his contribution to our common struggle for freedom and equality. 

In memory of this true son of our motherland, a true apostle of the Cuban revolution, we decorate his monument with the epitaph from the words of the famous Roman Philosopher Lucretius when he says:

“…rest assured that we have nothing to fear in death. One who no longer is cannot suffer or differ in any way from one who has never been born, when this life has been usurped by death the immortal.
The old is always thrust aside to make way for the new, and one thing must be build out of the wreck of the other.
Bygone generations have taken your road and those to come will take it no less. So one thing will never cease to spring from another. To none is life given on freehold to all on lease. 
This is the mirror that nature holds up to us, in which we may see time that shall be after we are dead.” 

We pay tribute to an all-round cadre, a father, a true revolutionary, a true communist, a devoted teacher of Marxist Leninism, a Commander of a rebel army, and a revered leader of our struggle for the liberation of mankind. We pay tribute to a heroic leader of the struggle to of the working class. 

Comrade Jorge Risquite was an outstanding apostle of human solidarity and internationalism. He leaves the generations of man to come with a torch full of flames to illuminate the future. 

The leadership of the Cuban revolution appreciates the historical necessity that solidarity with the people of the African continent is the only noble gesture to pay their debt to humanity. The historical understanding is that the continent of Africa is far from Cuba in geography but not in blood. 

Over centuries the great imperialist superpowers subjected millions of the African people to vicious forms of slavery and genocide. The slave people were forced to work in the production of sugar, coffee, mineral extraction of copper, and degrading work as domestic servants of the master and the family. 

The essence is that the heroic slave people contributed immensely to the construction of the economies of the countries of the American hemisphere. The reason why the Cuban revolution saw it imperative to pay back the debt to the African continent, by joining the struggle of our people against imperialism and colonialism. 

In 1964 the leadership of the Cuban revolution sent Ernesto Che Guevara to the African continent to foster relationships with our liberation movement. His tour of the continent covered countries such as Egypt, Algeria, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Congo Brazzaville and Benin. 

Thereafter two contingents of Cuban combatants for the first time in history touched the soil of their ancestral continent. The one was led by Che Guevara in the Congo Leopoldville (Kinshasa) and the other one was led by Jorge Risquite Valdes in the Congo Brazzaville. 

In the Congo Kinshasa the contingents of Che fought alongside the Lumumba guerrilla fighters under the leadership of Laurel Kabila and the one led by Risquite joined the revolutionary forces in Congo Brazzaville to defend the progressive government of Massemba Debat against the forces of imperialism. 

It was through the remarkable contribution of the Cuban revolution that the consolidation of the unity of the liberation movement saw the victory of the struggle of our people against imperialism and colonialism. The forces of counter revolution became a living testimony to the thunder of the Cuban revolution.

The contribution of the Cuban revolution ensured that many of the African territories are liberated from the yoke of imperialism and colonialism. The heroic battle of Cuito Cuanavale saw the liberation of the people of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Angola, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and South Africa. 

Comrade Risquite played an indispensable political leadership role during the negotiations of the transition for the independence of Namibia and subsequently our own country, South Africa. He indeed humbled himself to the common struggle of our people for liberation. 

Those of us who were fortunate to be the students of his political classes will forever cherish his great teachings of the theory of Marxist Leninism. His understanding was that like any other science, Marxist Leninism is a science that must be read and taught to others. 

He understood our revolutionary scientific theory not as a dogma but an ideological weapon for the transformation of society. He was always opposed to opportunism which seeks to distort our scientific theory to whitewash modern capitalism.

He always taught us that the unity of the working class movement on the basis of Marxism Leninism is a necessary condition for the victory of our struggle. That the unity of the working class movement constitute a supreme duty of every revolutionary.

He was convinced by the ideological preposition that man who looked for a superhuman being in the fantastic reality of heaven and found nothing there but the reflection of himself, will no longer be disposed to find but the semblance of himself, only in a human being, where he seeks and must seek his true reality.

In other words the scientific revolutionary theory of Marxism Leninism bases its conclusions on a profound analysis of reality. It provides a genuine theoretical foundation for the working class revolutionary struggle.

Farewell to the great apostle of the revolutionary struggle for the liberation of humanity. The generations of man to follow will walk the marks of your footprints.

Rest in peace 

Cde Phatse Justice Piitso is the former Ambassador to Cuba and the former provincial secretary of the SACP writing this article on his personal capacity