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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 15, No. 43, 24 November 2016

In this Issue:


Red Alert

Tip of the iceberg: Bank admits Nhlapo's house was sold for R100, but others were sold for R50 or R10

By Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation and Umsebenzi Online

The struggle to achieve transformation of the financial sector by the Financial Sector Campaign Coalition (FSCC) comprising of the South African Communist Party (SACP), Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation and a wide range of other supporting organisations continues.

The South African courts are poised to imprison a man for trespassing on the property owned by his mother before him and for which he has a letter saying that his bond was paid off in full. No, this was not something that happened under apartheid. It is something which is in process right now at the end of 2016.

Solomon Nhlapo, now in his 60s has lived in that house since 1965 with his mother Mary, who took out a 99-year lease in Dlamini 2, Soweto, in 1965. Twenty-one years later, in 1986, she took out a R22 000 loan with SA Perm (later acquired by Nedbank) to add some rooms to make space for her growing family. She dutifully paid the monthly instalments on her loan until she died in 1994, at which point Solomon took over the repayments.

In 1997, Solomon, who had been paying off the loan, paid a visit to his local Nedbank branch to find out the balance on the loan originally taken out with Perm. The bank refused to give him the information, as the bond was in his late mother's name. Solomon then informed the clerk that he was entitled, as executor of his mother's estate, to the information. The bank never gave him a complete account but sent him a letter saying that the bond was paid in full. From that time Solomon stopped making monthly payments.

Some years later, a man appeared at Solomon's door saying that he had bought the house and that Solomon Nhlapo must move out.

What had happened is this: Nedbank sold the house to its own subsidiary, Pyramed, for R51,000, which then sold it to a company called CC Trade 57 for R18,700, which then sold it to Company Unique Finance (CUF), which in turn sold it to another buyer for R350,000.

The name of CUF appears frequently in the bulk buying of houses at extremely low prices in the townships.

The sale of Solomon Nhlapo's house is full of irregularities; he was never served with a Section 129 notice in terms of the National Credit Act, where the creditor is notified in writing of default on a loan. Since the Section 129 notice is a precursor to legal action, Nhlapo was unable to mount a legal defence. He said he was never summonsed by the bank, and the eviction order purportedly issued against him was not signed by a judge.

On being summoned to court for eviction, Nhlapo was without legal representation, but he presented the letter from NedBank saying that he had paid off his loan to Judge Ronald Sunderland who refused even to look at it and then granted the eviction. Said Nhlapo "When I showed the house has been paid up, the judge refused to accept the proof before him."

Following that, Solomon Nhlapo approached the Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation led by Comrade King Sibiya. With the help of the Foundation an appeal has been made against the decision of Judge Sunderland on the grounds that the case had not been postponed so that Nhlapo could obtain pro bono legal counsel.

After the case had been publicised by the Umsebenzi Online and later by the investigative journalist Ciaran Ryan in the Mail and Guardian, NedBank called for negotiations. At first they tried to by-pass Lungelo Lethu, but in the end there was a meeting on 28 October 2016 with NedBank on the one side and Solomon Nhlapo backed by Lungelo Lethu on the other. At the meeting NedBank agreed both that the house had been sold for R100 and that they had issued the letter saying that the bond had been paid up in full. They agreed to try to solve the matter by negotiating with the new "owner" – the property being no longer in their possession and agreed that a meeting with the new "owner" would take place on 2 November 2016 and that the minutes of the meeting of 28 October 2016 would also be sent out on that date. The problem is widespread. "There are houses that have been sold for R50 and others for R10", said Sibiya.

King Sibiya has commented, "We have not received the minutes of the meeting of 28 October 2016 nor have we had any feedback over the meeting NedBank was supposed to have with the new 'owner'" on 2 November 2016.

At present, Solomon Nhlapo is still supposed to appear before a magistrates' court on a charge of trespassing on 30 November 2016. If found guilty he faces up to one year imprisonment. He is 65 years old. This is a common punishment in South Africa for elderly people when they are being deprived of their property.

King Sibiya (Mobile: 078 148 3526) is the Convenor of the Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation and Ian Beddowes (078 955 8278) is the Spokesperson of the Foundation.


Re-enforcing the practice of criticism and self criticism

By Cde Reneva Fourie

The South African Communist Party (SACP) is developing a "Ten-Ten Analysis" as part of preparing for its 14th National Congress in July 2017. In line with the revolutionary culture of criticism and self-criticism, and from stand point of the current situation, the Ten-Ten Analysis reflects on the past ten years with a view to chart a path for the next ten years.

The principle of criticism and self-criticism was an indispensable and permanent weapon in the arsenal of Bolshevism to strengthen Party organisation and increase its fighting capacity. This Marxist-Leninist tool was also applied by our national liberation movement, headed by the African National Congress (ANC), as part of organisational and cadre-development in the struggle against oppression.

The fight for a united, non-racial, non-sexist democratic South Africa occurred in conditions of severe repression. Being caught carried the high risk of death and at the very least, the risk of torture, detention and other human rights violations. The suspicious environment in which comrades operated also caused a constant threat to the revolution.  Amongst the objective factors that created suspicion were continuous disinformation campaigns by the enemy to play one comrade against the other, enhanced by the infiltration of spies who sought to divide and derail.  Tensions were further exacerbated by subjective factors such as the natural personal ambitions that power evoked as well as basic human error.  Very high levels of trust and unity were needed to ensure a focus of energy towards a specific purpose. To sustain organisation and promote unity and trust, attention was paid to building both the team and the individual through the practice of criticism and self-criticism.

The principle of criticism and self-criticism is the recognition and exposure, of contradictions, errors, or shortcomings that arise from objective or subjective factors in the course of social practice, in order to rectify them. It entailed a scientific, honest reflection on organisational mistakes as well as mistakes of individuals that negatively impacted on the organisation to understand why those occurred, how they could be avoided in future, and how to improve. It was never personal, as personal attacks were viewed as damaging to the organisation as well as individuals.

The main task of criticism was to point out political and organisational mistakes. It was an open platform for correcting deviation through the sharing of well-considered opinions, verified facts, and substantiated proposals tactfully, in order to effect positive changes.  This practice was done sincerely and constructively, with the intent to advance revolutionary growth and in addition to foster unity and trust, assisted to eliminate gossip and speculation.

The essence of the approach is captured by Lenin, who after the Bolsheviks had seized power in April-May 1920, wrote in his pamphlet "'Left-Wing' Communism, an Infantile Disorder":

"The attitude of a political party towards its own mistakes is one of the most important and surest ways of judging how serious the party is and how it in practice fulfils its obligations towards its class and the toiling masses. Frankly admitting a mistake, ascertaining the reasons for it, analysing the circumstances which gave rise to it, and thoroughly discussing the means of correcting it — that is the earmark of a serious party; that is the way it should perform its duties, that is the way it should educate and train the class, and then the masses" (Collected Works, Vol. XXV, p. 200).

The SACP re-enforces this practice of criticism and self-criticism in its Ten-Ten Analysis as a response to the challenges emanating from growing contradictions within class relations both inside and outside of our broader movement as we intensify our struggle towards a second radical phase of our transition. Conditions today are not much different to 1928, when Stalin wrote that self-criticism acquired special importance:

"Because the subversive activities of the class enemies of the Soviet Government, who are utilising our weaknesses, our errors, against the working class of our country, are more glaringly evident now than they were a year or two ago.

"Because we cannot and must not allow the lessons of the Shakhty affair and the 'procurement manoeuvres' of the capitalist elements in the countryside, coupled with our mistakes in planning, to go unheeded.

"If we want to strengthen the revolution and meet our enemies fully prepared, we must rid ourselves as quickly as possible of our errors and weaknesses, as disclosed by the Shakhty affair and the grain procurement difficulties.

"If we are tardy in this, we shall be facilitating the work of our enemies and aggravating our weaknesses and errors. But all this will be impossible if self criticism is not developed and stimulated, if the vast masses of the working class and peasantry are not drawn into the work of bringing to light and eliminating our weaknesses and errors."

The challenge resides in the extent to which the practice of criticism and self-criticism should be public. Some argue that publicly exposing our weaknesses makes us vulnerable whilst others believe that it is important to share the challenges of the revolution with the people at large and to involve the people in the process of self-correction. In the Ten-Ten Analysis the SACP adopts the latter approach within the framework of democratic centralism. In this regard the role of the media is important. While appreciating that mainstream media seeks to maintain the interest and advance the ideology of the dominant mode of production, the necessity for a lively and robust media must not be negated. The media needs to move beyond "learned" individual critical remarks to deeper criticism; and from deep criticism to drawing general conclusions that sincerely communicate achievements and provokes debate on how challenges could be overcome.

In conclusion, no political party or individual is free of errors. How those errors are corrected is what is important. The principle of criticism and self-criticism has enabled us to successfully navigate the challenges of the past. It must remain a practice that we carry into the future. By acknowledging and addressing mistakes and setbacks, we will become wiser and chart the way forward better. Lenin at the 11th Party Congress in March 1922 said:

"The proletariat is not afraid to admit that this or that thing has succeeded splendidly in its revolution, and this or that has not succeeded. All revolutionary parties which have hitherto perished, did so because they grew conceited, failed to see where their strength lay, and feared to speak of their weaknesses. But we shall not perish, for we do not fear to speak of our weaknesses and shall learn to overcome them" (Collected Works, Vol. XXVII, pp. 260-61).

  • Cde Reneva Fourie is SACP Head of Secretariat, full-time Central Committee members

Umsebenzi Online is an online voice of the South African working class