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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 16, No. 01, 11 January 2017

In this Issue:


Red Alert

Active expression of solidarity with the people of Western Sahara

By Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo

Pic 1 SACP General Secretary Cde Blade Nzimande (Third from Left), on his right SACP 2nd Deputy General Secretary Solly Mapaila (Pic: By Umsebenzi Online)

SACP General Secretary Comrade Blade Nzimande led a delegation of the Party welcoming to a bilateral session in Johannesburg on Saturday, 7 January, a delegation from Western Sahara led by the President of the Saharawi Republic and Secretary-General of the Polisario Front, His Excellency Comrade Brahim Ghali. Western Sahara was declared by the United Nations (UN) in 1960 as a non-self-governing territory in a declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples, President Ghali briefed the meeting. This consisted in recognising the Saharawi people's inalienable right to self-determination and independence, he said. He underlined a decades-long ongoing problem that they are faced with. Western Sahara's independence was interrupted drastically when Morocco, contrary to its earlier commitment to the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination, invaded the country on 31 October 1975 in violation of the charters and resolutions of the UN and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), said President Ghali.

Pic 2 President of the Saharawi Republic and Secretary-General of the Polisario Front Brahim Ghali (Third from left) (Pic: By Umsebenzi Online)

Western Sahara is rich with mineral and marine resources, among others phosphate reserves and fishing waters. Through its occupation Morocco is exploiting the resources belonging to the Saharawi people. Last month the European Court of Justice ruled that European Union's agreements and treaties with Morocco cannot apply to Western Sahara. This reaffirmed Saharawi people's right to self-determination and independence, said President Ghali.

Another problem facing Western Sahara, according to the SACP's international outlook, is imperialism. This is highlighted at least by the failure of the UN to resolve the situation for more than half-a-century after it declared Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory. This clearly shows that there is support to Morocco from the imperialist states that control the untransformed UN Security Council. The core of the UN Security Council is made up by five permanent members including three Western imperialist states inclusive of the United States and France. France is still wielding massive influence on its former colonies on the African continent. This along with the United States' and other imperialist machinations contribute greatly to the persisting problems facing African continental unity.

It is inconceivable that Morocco's bid to form part of the African Union, while in contradiction it is colonising another African country - thus disrupting continental unity - is not reliant on the divisive neo-colonial and imperialist French influence. The meeting discussed this concern, one of the bullying instruments that were used pre-1994 to push for apartheid South Africa to be admitted to the OAU. The problem persists and poses a threat to the African Union, which replaced the OAU, and to African continental independence and democratic transformation and development. Should Morocco's bid to form part of the African Union while it is colonising another African country become successful it would undermine the UN, OAU and AU resolutions and declarations on the independence and the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. The meeting expressed serious concern about this threat to Africa.

The SACP pledged its solidarity with the people of Western Sahara. Comrade Blade Nzimande said the Party will intensify its Western Sahara solidarity campaign and that it was important that this became a wider programme of the Tripartite Alliance and related mass democratic organisations. Cosatu President Sidumo Dlamini who also attended the meeting, in his capacities as SACP Central Committee member and Cosatu President, concurred. He further advised that the Cosatu organising unit, which was represented at the meeting, will follow up on the commitment and ensure that it is implemented in active expression of solidarity with the people of Western Sahara.

  • Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo is SACP Head of Communications and Spokesperson and reports on the meeting as an Umsebenzi Online correspondent who attended it.

Let's not destroy but build on the massive progress we achieved in post-school education and other basic services

By Mosheshe Mvalo

At least since 2009, especially with the influence of the Alliance, we have seen a wide range of transformative programmes being implemented in the form of various progressive interventions, including but not limited to the New Growth Path, Industrial Policy Action Plan, Strategic Infrastructure Development Programme and accelerated access to basic and post-school education training.  The Minister of Higher Education and Training Comrade Dr Blade Nzimande is scheduled to brief the media tomorrow, 12 January on the sector's state of readiness and options available to young people seeking opportunities for post-school education and training in 2017 in the context of the recently released national senior certificate results and the ANC-led government's continuous efforts to expand access. The briefing will take place at 8:30am at the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), Tshedimosetso House, 1035 Frances Baard Street, Hatfield, Tshwane.  

We can attest that every moment in history is both a point of arrival and departure.  Similarly, the post-Polokwane political discourse has set a milestone in the history of our national democratic revolution and the struggle for socialism. The recent Statistics South Africa Community Survey results released on 30 June 2016 underlines improvement in various indicators of service delivery, in particular since the 52nd National Conference of the ANC held in Polokwane:

Post School Education and Training:

There has been an increase in the number of people who completed a bachelor's degree, from 410 686 in 1996 to 1.2 million in 2016.

Within the 55-64 years age group, the number of bachelor's degree holders is fivefold what it was in 1996, having increased from 33 549 to 171 424 in 2016.

The number of people aged 25-34 years old with bachelor's degrees has doubled over the 20-year period between 1996 and 2016, from 157 154 in 1996 to 343 116 in 2016.

The number of persons who attained a bachelor's degree in the 45-54 years age group has quadrupled to 282 314 in 2016 from 69 797 in 1996.

Educational attainment has improved across all age groups, increasing to 331 169 in 2016 from 124 748 in 1996 among people within the 35-44 years age group.

The people who have completed secondary school education more than tripled between 1996 and 2016 from 3.5 million to 11.9 million.

Access to other basic services:

The number of households with access to piped water has increased from 13.2 million in 2011 to 15.2 million in 2016 and the number of households accessing water from taps within their yards has increased significantly from 3.9 million in 2011 to 5.1 million in 2016 and that of households accessing water from inside their dwelling, with the number of households increasing from 6.7 million in 2011 to 7.5 million in 2016.

Access to electricity for lighting has increased by 32.2 percent from 58.1 percent in 1996 to 90.3 percent in 2016.

Households with no access to a toilet facility have declined to 2.4 percent in 2016, from 5.2 percent in 2011. A majority of households (49.5%) has access to a toilet facility within their yard. In contrast, 45.6 percent of households use a toilet located within their dwelling.

Whereas only 4.9 percent uses a toilet facility located outside their yard. Of the 16.9 million households in South Africa, about 10.3 million (60.6%) have access to a flush toilet connected to a sewerage system. This represents an increase of about 3.6 percent from 2011 when 57 percent of households had access to this kind of toilets.  

There is consensus that much more needs to be done to deal with the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. It does not follow nevertheless that the outcomes of the last local government elections held in August 2016, in the main, were influenced by service delivery related issues. I therefore argue that leadership related issues were the dominant cause of the electoral decline.

  • Mosheshe Mvalo, SACP member, Centurion, Tshwane.

A call for the most advanced and resolute revolutionary leadership

By Mosheshe Mvalo

As we navigate towards the SACP's 14th National Congress and the ANC's 54th National Conference scheduled to take place in July and December respectively it is clear that amongst others we need a leadership that will not only earn respect within - particularly with respect to the ANC given the leadership challenges that it is facing - but across the spectrum of the Alliance and our society.  As Che Guevara has said, a revolutionary leader must "combine an impassioned spirit with a cold mind and make painful decisions without flinching". As he further said, a "revolutionary leader must act out of love: our vanguard revolutionaries must idealise love for the people, for the most hallowed causes, and make it one and indivisible…revolutionary leaders must have a large dose of humanity, a large dose of a sense of justice and truth to avoid falling into dogmatic extremes…"

Che called for a revolutionary cadre who must be the best, the fullest, the most complete but above all a human being who places priority on human life and collective societal needs rather than private or personal interests. The revolutionary cadre who lives and resonates with the masses; a leader who articulates the unformulated wishes of the masses; a tireless leader who gives all to his or her people - a self-sacrificing worker who gives up his or her hours of rest, his or her tranquillity, his or her family or his or her life for the revolution but who is never a stranger to the warmth of human contact.

There is no doubt that in our Alliance we have leaders in abundance, whose interest is not to accumulate organisational power as their means to get into business transactions. The SACP, at least, has sufficient level of unity and coherence. The main problem of unity within our Alliance at present is concentrated in the ANC, which must, in its 54th National Conference seek to unite itself as the basis to unite the Alliance and all the motive forces of our national project for revolutionary democratic transformation. In its statement on the Occasion of 105th Anniversary of the ANC on 8 January 2017 ANC National Executive Committee acknowledged that "the ANC emerged from the Morogoro Conference much stronger and more united".

The final arbiter is us, ANC members in good standing who are not captured by factions and private corporate interests. The 54th National Conference of the ANC has no other option but to ensure that it replicates our long standing revolutionary values of sacrifice, selflessness, revolutionary volunteerism, discipline, dedication, integrity, honesty, unity and vehemently rejects, trembles and condemns anything associated with factionalism, corruption, patronage and greed. This is the time to demonstrate that we are principled ANC members and do what is required of such a calibre of ANC members who have taken an ANC oath to heart.

  • Mosheshe Mvalo, SACP member, Centurion, Tshwane.

We need a principled and uniting leadership in pursuit of the second, more radical democratic transformation of South Africa

By Mosheshe Mvalo

EL Comandante Comrade Fidel Castro, former President and founding First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba who passed away last November once stated that the essential quality of a revolutionary is to know how to interpret reality. He was referring to an April 1958 strike, conceding that they were unable to interpret the situation more accurately at that time and thus suffered a catastrophe. The process towards, including, the 14th SACP National Congress and the 54th National Conference of the ANC scheduled to take place in July and December respectively affords the alliance an opportunity to analyse domestic material conditions, but without losing sight of international balance forces. We should emerge from the two policy meetings of our Alliance much stronger, more united and capable of confronting the challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty, as well as their constitutive factors and driving forces.

Che Guevara said that the cadres of our Party must be the first in study, first in work, first in revolutionary enthusiasm, first in sacrifice. At all times they must be better, purer and more humane. Perhaps you will agree with me, with the movement of 105 years, the ANC, that this is not too much to ask for the collective leadership of the ANC and the Alliance.

The major policy gatherings scheduled to take place in our Alliance this year should be an epitome of unity. This would require the ANC and the Alliance to politically ‘detoxify' of any tendencies that seek to undermine and divide them. In fact such tendencies are counter-revolutionary and should be equated with political felony.

Former President Nelson Mandela said that in the course of history the ANC survived countless storms and earned eminence partly because of the sterling quality of its membership, and partly because each member regarded themselves as the principal guardian of that unity. All discussions, contributions and criticisms were generally balanced and constructive. Above all they were invariably subjected to the over-riding principle of maximum unity. To lose sight of this basic principle is to sell our birth-right, to betray those who paid the highest price for the ANC to flourish and triumph. Perhaps, you will also agree with me, that the unity of the ANC is the pre-condition of the unity of the alliance and naturally this gives rise to a united South Africa. Infections affecting unity in the ANC are contagious to the Alliance. Indeed those who do not subscribe to this thesis of the unity of the ANC and the Alliance do not belong to our revolutionary movement.

The ANC's 53rd National Conference held in Mangaung in 2012 amongst others acknowledged that the memory of our forebears who worked tirelessly and relentlessly to build the ANC into a powerful instrument of liberation in the hands of our people, pervaded our open and honest debates, conducted in the spirit of convincing others and allowing ourselves to be convinced. There is no doubt, therefore, as we approach this policy year, if we are to continue with our revolutionary trajectory of building a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa as enunciated in the Freedom Charter, we need an ANC that is heading the alliance by its deeds - not otherwise. There is no better period in our struggle, than today, that we need this dynamic, active and vibrant ANC with ideological and political clarity and maximum unity to organisationally drive the national democratic revolution - the shortest route to socialism.

The Mangaung Conference agreed that we must continue to learn from the experiences of the past 100 years. Indeed, a liberation movement of 105 years has a lot to share and learn from both its successes, failures and challenges. For this to take place we need an open, frank and robust non-factional engagement.

Mangaung observations remain relevant. The ANC has survived due to amongst others its deep roots and connection with the people; vibrant internal democracy and collective leadership; readiness and willingness of its members to make sacrifices in pursuit of the cause of the people as a whole; readiness to acknowledge its weaknesses and decisively address them in order to escalate and accelerate the people's struggle.

In his farewell speech President O.R. Tambo stated that "we did not tear ourselves apart because of lack of progress at time, we were always ready to accept our mistakes and correct them, above all we succeeded to foster and defend the unity of our people in general…" Comrade Jeremy Cronin brought about a similar analogy when he stated that "through its 90 years of struggle, the Communist Party has done great things and made mistakes, the point as Lenin put it, is not to expect never to make mistakes but to learn collectively from them and above all, to correct them as quick as possible. An organisation of activism requires engagement, even when not everything is clear cut, even if victory is not guaranteed…"

Indeed the centrality of the alliance is at the heart of our revolutionary project as South Africa. This cannot be held in abeyance or suspended as some with factional interests especially during ANC list conferences begin to question the relevance of the Alliance simply to pursue their narrow private accumulation interests. Our Alliance is a revolutionary one. It is not a factional alliance. Our great leaders, in each and every available opportunity have narrated the kind of the alliance especially the SACP has developed with the ANC. In February 1990 Mandela had this to say about the alliance: "I salute the South African Communist Party for its consistent and determined contribution to the struggle for a democratic government in South Africa. Our alliance is built on the unshakable foundation of our united struggle for a non-racial democracy…"

Alliance partners are not prodigal entities of our revolution. They have nothing else but revolutionary interests both in terms of the form and content of our struggle. This must be clearly understood as it is not a factional interest. As ANC-headed Alliance partners, we shall not despair nor get tired in our quest to forge the unity of our revolutionary alliance, so that collectively we can drive our revolutionary programme. We take wisdom from EL Comandante Comrade Fidel Castro when he said "Good athletes do not know what tiredness is. They do not know what discouragement is. Good athletes only know what victory is". As the Alliance we will never retire in influencing the form and content of our revolution.

As we approach 2017 as a policy year in our Alliance, once again, it is not too much to ask when we say we need inspiration from the organisational leadership of the ANC, tried and tested, a collective leadership that fully understands the national democratic revolution, a leadership that is committed to the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, prosperous and united South Africa; an organisational leadership that is committed to building the ANC and the Alliance as the overall political centre to drive our revolutionary project; a leadership that understands the centrality of the ANC's mass work and its multi-class character; a leadership that is committed in honouring, promoting and respecting intra-alliance protocols and mutual respect; a leadership that is committed to implementing ANC and joint Alliance policies and programmes. We need an organisational leadership that is representative of the ANC as multi-class organisation biased to the working class and poor, a leadership collective that is incorruptible and refuses to be captured by private corporate interests.

The ANC has been accused of being soft in fighting, amongst others, biggest threats of our revolution such as corruption, ill-discipline and nepotism. The 54th ANC National Conference must ensure that the leadership that will emerge at this conference is free from factionalism and that it will be firm in fighting ill-discipline, corruption, nepotism, tenderpreneurship, patronage, ethnicity, incompetency and focusing at all material times on improving the lives of our people, especially the working class and poor. We have seen in the recent past structures of the ANC, including its leagues being dissolved or disbanded, mostly close to elective conferences or local government elections or general elections or some members being subjected to suspicious disciplinary processes. These factional tendencies do not belong to the ANC and our movement as a whole.

It is my conviction that in the main the outcomes of the last local government elections held in August 2016 have less to do with the ANC-led government service delivery performance, but with the problems of leadership, its posture, texture, and conduct, amongst others.

  • Mosheshe Mvalo, SACP member, Centurion, Tshwane

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