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In 1894, long before the infamous Afrikaans word foretold “separate development” for the majority people of South Africa, an Englishman, Cecil John Rhodes, oversaw the Glen Grey Act in what was then the Cape Colony. This was designed to force blacks from agriculture into an army of cheap labour, principally for the mining of newly discovered gold and other precious minerals. As a result of this social Darwinism, Rhodes’s De Beers companyquickly developed into a world monopoly, making him fabulously rich. In keeping with liberalism in Britain and the United States, he was celebrated as a philanthropist supporting high-minded causes.

Today, the Rhodes scholarship at Oxford University is prized among liberal elites. Successful Rhodes scholars must demonstrate “moral force of character” and “sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship”. The former president Bill Clinton is one; General Wesley Clark, who led the Nato attack on Yugoslavia, is another. The wall known as apartheid was built for the benefit of the few, not least the most ambitious of the bourgeoisie.

Transmission line

This was something of a taboo during the years of racial apartheid. South Africans of British descent could indulge their contempt for the Boers, while providing the façades behind which an inhumane system guaranteed privileges based on race and, more importantly, on class.

The new black elite in South Africa, whose numbers and influence had been growing steadily during the latter racial apartheid years, understood the part they would play following “liberation”. The “historic mission” of such elites, wrote Frantz Fanon in The Wretch ed of the Earth, “has nothing to do with transforming the nation; it consists, prosaically, of being the transmission line between the nation and a capitalism rampant though camouflaged”.

This applied to leading figures in the African National Congress (ANC), such as Cyril Rama – phosa, head of the National Union of Mine – workers, now a corporate multimillionaire, who negotiated a power-sharing “deal” with the regime of F W de Klerk and Nelson Mandela himself, whose devotion to a “historic compromise” ensured that freedom for the majority from poverty and inequity was a freedom too far. This became clear as early as 1985, when a group of South African industrialists led by Gavin Relly, chairman of the Anglo American mining company, met prominent ANC officials in Zambia and both sides agreed, in effect, that racial apartheid would be replaced by economic apartheid, known as the “free market”.

Secret meetings subsequently took place in a stately home in England, Mells Park House, at which a future president of liberated South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, supped malt whisky with the heads of corporations that had shored up racial apartheid. The British giant Consolidated Gold Fields supplied the venue and the whisky. The aim was to divide the “moderates” – the likes of Mbeki and Mandela – from an increasingly revolutionary multitude in the townships who evoked memories of uprisings following the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 and at Soweto in 1976, without ANC help.

Once Mandela was released from prison in 1990, the ANC’s “unbreakable promise” to take over monopoly capital was seldom heard again. On his triumphant tour of the US that summer, Mandela said in New York: “The ANC will reintroduce the market to South Africa.” When I interviewed Mandela in 1997 – he was then president – and reminded him of the unbreakable promise, I was told in no uncertain terms: “The policy of the ANC is privatisation.”

Enveloped in the hot air of corporate-speak, the Mandela and Mbeki governments took their cues from the World Bank and the IMF. While the gap between the majority living beneath tin roofs without running water and the newly wealthy black elite in their gated estates became a chasm, the finance minister Trevor Manuel was lauded in Washington for his “macroeconomic achievements”. South Africa, noted George Soros in 2001, had been delivered into “the hands of international capital”.

South Africa Communist Party President address COSATU congress in a critical moment

This Congress meets in the shadow of an intensified offensive against the working class in SA. It is an offensive directed primarily against the best organized detachment of our working class – this federation, this COSATU, especially the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and all these affiliates. The intensified offensive is born partly out of desperation on the part of our class enemies. Capitalism continues to be enmeshed in a deep-seated crisis. Everywhere global capitalism seeks to defend its profits and its power by displacing the impact of its crisis onto the workers, the poor, and the Third World. It violently foments civil war and destabilization of countries with an anti-imperialist track-record. It embarks on mass retrenchments, casualization, budget cuts and suffocating austerity measures at home and abroad. To carry through this butchery, global capitalism everywhere seeks to defeat the organized working class – a powerful barrier to its anti-popular strategies.

Here in SA we are no strangers to this offensive. Here, too, the anti-union offensive has intensified and grown more desperate in recent months. It is an offensive also supported by sections of imperialism. We have even seen the DA attempting to out-Malema Malema by leading a march on the COSATU head-quarters with a rag-tag army of suburbanites and desperate and misguided township youth.

This middle-class flirtation with anarchy is partly the result of the all-round capitalist crisis, in which it is also deeply affected. Much as the working class is bearing most of the brunt of this crisis, the middle classes are now also increasingly feeling the pinch. Unlike some of the middle classes in other parts of the world who have joined workers in protest against neo-liberal capitalism, our middle class, especially its white sections, has turned its venom against the ANC government, including racist attitudes rearing their ugly head anew, especially through the internet.

Equally, small and often elitist sections of the black middle class which also feels the economic hardship are working with some of their white counterparts to blame government, even for their own failures to make use of narrow BEE to accumulate wealth. In fact the common ideological platform for both sections of the white and black middle classes is that of the so-called lack of leadership in society. This is no honest debate but a rightist putsch and an ideological fad, aimed at discrediting the ANC and its government. It must be treated and dismissed as such.

But desperation by the elites is also rooted in the fact that since at least 2007 and the defeat of the 1996 class project, we have an ANC ruling party that (however unevenly) is committed to our tripartite alliance, and an ANC-led government that has abandoned (however unevenly) neo-liberalism, privatization, anti-communism, and anti-worker positions. Of course this progress within the ANC itself, and within government is not something to be taken for granted. It is contested space – and WE MUST, comrades, CONTEST it.

Because of these positive developments, increasingly the anti-union offensive in our country has been left to opposition parties in Parliament, to renegades expelled from our own ranks, to demagogues and opportunists of all stripes, supported by big money and broadcast through the megaphone of the mainstream media.

But if this intensified anti-union offensive stems partly from desperation in the face of the capitalist crisis, it is also an offensive that, from time to time, becomes emboldened by our own divisions and factionalism, by our own distractions, by our own neglect of our core tasks of organizing in the work-place and in our communities, by our own failures to deal decisively with corruption, tender-preneuring and business-unionism. Comrades, it is imperative that we close ranks. It is essential that we face up to this offensive as a united and disciplined COSATU, as a united Alliance, as a Liberation Movement strengthening, but also strengthened by a democratic state.

Learning appropriate lessons from Marikana

All of the above is the immediate context against which we need to understand the Marikana tragedy. In the space of a decade, the platinum sector has gone from boom to near-bust as a result of the global capitalist crisis and particularly the stagnation in Europe (the major importer of our platinum.

For years the mining houses – and particularly the platinum mining houses – have sought to break the back of NUM. Who can forget the late 1990s and the rule of terror that prevailed as a result of the so-called Five Madoda and their pseudo-trade union “Workers Mouthpiece”? We ask: who can forget? And yet so many in our country, unfortunately including some former COSATU leaders, DO forget. In that reign of terror in the Rustenburg region, vigilante thugs associated with the pseudo-union murdered 34 NUM shop-stewards.

What we also DO know for sure is that through the years of the platinum boom, impressive investments were made on the platinum belt. And yet, through this boom, virtually nothing was done for the living conditions of the work-force.

We failed these workers and their families. We failed to leverage effective social responsibility requirements out of the mining houses. We were too focused on using the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Act to enforce BEE shareholding.

Another negative reality, born of abject desperation, began to take root in many of these squalid shanty towns around the platinum mines. The Five Madoda and their “Workers Mouthpiece” infiltrated the informal settlements – and used coercion and patronage to gain control over shebeens, prostitution, minibus operations, shack-lordism, and the muti and mashonisa businesses. These lumpen-patriarchal networks exerted a reign of terror over many settlements, in the same way as similar networks are doing now.

What is to be done?

The SACP fully supports government`s crackdown on the illegal carrying of weapons, on intimidation and on incitement to violence. The ring-leaders must be dealt with and separated from the mass of misled strikers (many of whom are not actually employees of Lonmin or even workers). Those possessed of mysterious wealth, who have never worked a day in their lives, those who were recently anti-unionisation in the army, those who are now happily inciting others to kill and be killed must be dealt with. We also require a thorough investigation into where their funding is coming from, whether locally or internationally. Any formal structures of the ANC that are collaborating with the so-called Friends of the Youth League must themselves face suspension from our movement. We have given opportunism far too much space and tolerance. Together as an Alliance and with our local structures, together with government agencies, we need to help to restore basic norms of safety and security into the lives of our mining communities.

The SACP also fully supports the establishment of the Independent Judicial Commission of Inquiry. We must leave the detailed investigation into the events leading up to August 16, the day itself, and the violence in the ensuing days to the Commission. Without interfering, we must ensure that it is thorough and unbiased in its work. Any wrong-doing by the police must be uncovered. At the same time, it is absolutely important that the Inquiry hears evidence from the communities and contextualizes its understanding of the immediate events. The SACP is working with our structures in these mining settlements to take evidence and sworn affidavits. We know that NUM is doing likewise, and we urge the ANC and other COSATU affiliates, where relevant, to ensure that the Commission is presented with a broad and objective picture of the situation.

Finally, we must reject the apartheid and racist notion that what is happening in Marikana is inter-union rivalry, as if the NUM and pseudo union, AMCU were the same thing.

Back to basics: workplace organization to roll back neo-liberal restructuring

This important gathering is also taking place against the background of intensified attacks on the national democratic revolution, including attempts to try and present our movement as being at sea and not knowing what is to be done to deepen the national democratic revolution. We however need to state from the onset that if we focus most of our energies at this congress lamenting about the challenges we face instead of focusing on what is to be done, we would have wasted this very important opportunity. Analysis, yes, lamenting no!

The current global capitalist crisis has seen the intensification of attempts to increase the rate of profit of capitalism at the direct expense of the working class. With the increasing casualization and labour ‘brokering` of workers in South Africa, today less and less workers for instance have access to provident fund and medical aid. The impact and implications of this reality are enormous. For instance this means that the burden of looking after the health of labour brokered workers becomes the sole responsibility of workers themselves without any employer contribution. Similarly, lack of access to provident fund means an additional burden on the state when these workers retire. This means that both workers and the state are increasingly and directly subsidizing the profits of the bourgeoisie.

The impact of this massive restructuring of the workplace has also placed in danger the existence of significant sections of the trade union movement itself. In fact the growth of the trade union movement over the last decade years has been more in the public than the private sector, as COSATU`s own statistics show.

The trade union federations in our country, especially our ally, COSATU, must develop a comprehensive campaign to strengthen the trade union movement in the workplace.

In tackling the challenges facing the workplace we also need to ask some serious questions about the state of the trade union movement in South African today, including its strategies to confront the huge restructuring of the workplace undertaken by the capitalist class over the last one and a half decade. Could it also be that our reaction to attempts to relegate the role of the trade union movement by the 1996 class project to workplace issues unintentionally led to bending the stick too much in the opposite direction; that is, focusing on broader political struggles at the expense of workplace organization? Could it also be that good trade union organization has declined, in the same way as mass organization has taken a knock after 1994?

There is also an emerging threat for our progressive trade union movement, where there is collusion between business unionism, elements bought by bosses and tenderpreneurs whose goal is to divide and weaken the trade union movement as part of capturing these unions and turning them into sweetheart unions. The most aggressive of this tendency is to be found in the current offensive directed against the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Way back at our Special Congress in 2009 we warned against an emerging new tendency within our movement, which is anti-working class, anti-communist and even having proto-fascist features. We further warned against being confused and fooled by a call for nationalization whose aim was to bail out a section of mining BEE in a crisis. We further said none within our ranks must by any means flirt with this tendency. Today we are being proven right, as it is this same tendency that is in the forefront of trying to destroy the NUM, with the intention to divide and weaken COSATU as a whole. This is a tendency whose goal is to accumulate by all means, and whose mission has been to capture our movement for purposes of self-enrichment and accumulation. It is a tendency, we are convinced now as the SACP that is backed by powerful imperialist interests who are threatened by the prospects of a leftward shift in our movement. These are thieves who will stop at nothing to pillage the resources of the state, and are prepared to even sell our country to the highest imperialist bidder. It is a tendency that must be defeated, and only a united and better organized working class can do so!

Once more the SACP calls upon this Congress to come out unambiguously against this tendency. No amount of political sophistry or big-sounding English should justify anyone from within our ranks justifying working with these demagogues. There must be no ‘ifs` or ‘buts` in our attitude towards the new tendency. The struggle of the working class is not for sale!!! Instead we are calling for the federation to close ranks, isolate and defeat this tendency.

The SACP`s position is that the struggle for decent work must incorporate a variety of dimensions and not simply be reduced to wages, important as this is. The struggle for decent work must involve the campaign for a living wage, a decent social wage and transformed workplaces free of racism, patriarchy and managerial unilateralism.

The anti-majoritarian liberal offensive and necessity to build a working-class led mass movement

As the SACP we have consistently been raising the need to defeat the anti-majoritarian liberal offensive. Its agenda is that of undermining black majority rule using all manner of methods, including attempts to capture institutions supporting our democracy and its intensified attacks on the working class. Of late it is becoming vocal against what it sees as the danger of big unions and big government, and essentially calling for the weakening of the labour movement in general, and COSATU in particular. It is seeking to place the blame of unemployment on the employed, and especially organized workers. We are told, the basis for inequality in our society is no longer race, nor the class inequalities between the bourgeoisie and the working class, but the basis now is between the employed and unemployed!!

The SACP has consistently raised this matter, and again warning that none within our ranks should be confused by this liberal agenda and be tempted to form alliances blindly. Liberals, as has always been their history, cherry pick the battles they want to wage, and sometimes opportunistically want to be seen as friends of the working class. They will stand up against e-tolling in Gauteng, not because they really care about the working class, but in opposition to the ANC government, and yet be completely silent about the fact that the DA has tolled Chapman`s Peak in Cape Town and seeks to build more physical structures there! They will take the ANC government to court over textbooks in Limpopo, but not go to court when the DA is unilaterally closing schools in the Western Cape.

Whilst liberals will form a new NGO on a variety of matters where they oppose government, they have formed no NGO to fight against the brutality against farmworkers; nor are there new NGOs formed to fight the scourge of labour brokers by liberals. They opportunistically seek alliances with the working class in order to advance elite interests, embarrass the ANC government, but tell the working class to go jump when it comes to challenging established capitalist interests.

Whilst we accept that COSATU may form tactical alliances with various formations at different points in time, caution must always be taken against who are our real friends. We are also concerned about the tone of the political report on some of these matters. Strongly implied in the report is a more critical stance towards the Alliance, and uncritical praise and elevation of tactical alliances with a whole variety of other forces. This is, we believe an incorrect posture by COSATU.

The more recent ideological offensive against our movement and revolution is that of a charge that there is an absence of leadership in society and an attempt to project our movement as being at sea, not knowing what to do. Here we see a very clear convergence between the liberal offensive and what we have characterized as the new tendency. Our leadership and movement is not being judged on progress made in terms of commitments made for instance around our five priorities, but through a targeted attack on the movement as a whole, especially COSATU and the ANC, with a particular focus on the President of the ANC and the republic, Cde Jacob Zuma. The print media is actually at the centre and forefront of this offensive.

It is our considered view as the SACP that the principal task of the working class at the present moment is that of building a working class led people`s mass movement to drive transformation on all fronts. Whilst NGOs are important at no stage should they become a substitute for the people`s voice. For that matter not all NGOs are progressive, and many are captured by particular class interests, not least those of their often (imperialist) donors.

But, of course, not all NGOs are retrogressive either. We, the Alliance as a whole, need to actively engage in this terrain of “civil society” and contribute to the building of a progressive NGO movement as part of revitalizing the Mass Democratic Movement to be led by the working class.

The question of a working class-led people`s movement assumes even more importance in the light of the Marikana and related experiences. Organization of mineworkers has to be accompanied by the progressive organization of adjacent mining communities in order to defeat warlordism and shacklordism that are often exploited to weaken and destroy working class organization in the workplace.

Building on our advances to address the triple challenges of our revolution

At our 13th Congress we said if the aim of our Special National Congress in December 2009 was to assist our broad movement to understand the global capitalist crisis, the reasons for the persistence of structural unemployment and racialised poverty and inequality, and the challenges facing our movement since Polokwane, the 13th Congress focused on what is to be done to consolidate, defend and advance our revolution.

One of the primary challenges of our revolution now and in the coming period is that of translating the many important policy breakthroughs made over the past four-to-five years into palpable changes that must transform our current semi-colonial economic growth path for the progressive benefit of the overwhelming majority of the workers and the poor.

It is very important to remember that being part of the Alliance as working class formations, it is our responsibility to protect, defend and deepen the unity of our Alliance. Part of this responsibility and revolutionary duty is that we cannot choose to sometimes step aside and behave as if we are outside our Alliance and revolution, and have the luxury to lament or criticize as outsiders, often encouraged by the media. To choose to act as if we are outside the Alliance when things get tough, and to seek to prioritise media recognition is nothing but rank opportunism; and such behavior does not belong to the ranks of the working class. Problems or disagreements amongst ourselves as Allies, which are inevitable anyway, cannot be subject of press conferences or tweeter messages, but need to be tackled within the structures of our Alliance and through principled bilateral engagements.

At no stage should we celebrate the difficulties facing any of our Alliance partners. We simply cannot elevate tactical alliances with other social formations (no matter how important we think they may be) above our Alliance.

Of course it is absolutely essential that our working class formations must jealously guard their independence. But such independence must serve to assert the working class as the principal motive force of our revolution, as the foundation of the unity of our Alliance, and not as an oppositionist or opportunist element within our Alliance.

Nevertheless whatever challenges we face must never make us lose sight of the advances we have made since our democratic breakthrough in 1994, and those especially made since Polokwane. A correct approach for revolutionaries is not to lament about these problems or use them in a populist fashion for short-term political gain. The challenge of true revolutionaries is to recognize advances we have made and seek to build on these in order to address existing challenges.

In particular, since the ANC Polokwane conference, we have seen some important policy breakthroughs and other achievements that we dare not lose sight of. Amongst these are the following:

  • The development of an overarching industrial policy, within the context of proposals for a new growth path. This new policy emphasizes the need to beneficiate our mineral wealth, rebuild the manufacturing sector as part of the industrialization of our economy and take job creation to higher levels. The key challenge is to align our macro economic policies to these objectives.
  • A clear move away from emphasis on privatization of the early 2000s to a commitment to a more active role by the state in economic development.
  • A clear commitment by the ANC and government to move away from the ‘willing seller, willing buyer` model of land reform, to a more radical redistribution of land, including expropriation as provided for in our constitution.
  • The major state-led investment in infrastructure as announced by the President in the 2012 State of the Nation address responds to a call that has long been made by the working class for more investment in infrastructure. The key task of the working class is to ensure that monies invested in infrastructure are not stolen by tenderpreneurs who want a quick buck out of shoddy work. It is also important that we mobilise to demand that all companies that win major infrastructure projects from government must not use labour brokers and must also be committed to the training and skilling of workers.
  • Since Polokwane, government is now embarking on a pilot for the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) a long standing call by the SACP in particular when we launched our campaign on health for all around 2004-5. But one of the biggest achievements by this Zuma-led administration is that life expectancy of our population has gone up, largely due to the provision of ARVs to our people and the slowing down of mother to child transmission of HIV. This is one of the biggest achievements we have made and is a far cry from the disastrous path of AIDS denialism that was with us prior to 2007!!
  • The ANC and our Alliance has now prioritized education as an apex priority of the five priorities. Government has already embarked on important measures to improve access to education for the poor. For instance, now more than 60% of our schools are no-fee schools, and more than 8 millions students benefit from the school nutrition scheme. In addition, FET college education has now become free for students who come from poor families if they are study occupation related programmes – a first in the history of our country!

Another crucially important development in the lead up to this Congress has been the ANC`s National Policy Conference. The most significant commitment made by that conference was that the principal challenge of our revolution is that of earnestly effecting a second radical phase of our transition, principally but not exclusively by focusing on a radical restructuring of our economy. Some of the contradictions notwithstanding, this is a significant opportunity for the working class to make further impact on the national democratic revolution and, for us, as our most direct route to socialism.

A critical challenge of the second phase of our transition is that of building a developmental state, with a public service that is capable of driving transformation. In this respect we must use the fact that in the public service we have a multi-year bargaining agreement to reflect on the role of progressive public sector unions in building such a developmental state.

All the above constitutes the immediate terrain upon which the working class must act as the principal motive force of the national democratic revolution and the struggle for socialism. This is taking responsibility for the NDR!

 

During its long liberation struggle, South African organisations were known by initials like ANC, PAC, AZAPO, COSATU etc. It was a well-known alphabet of activism.

In today’s South Africa, nearly 20 years after the arrival of a multi-racial democracy, there are three letters that are not as well known but central to understanding the conflicts that continue to swirl here from the recent massacre of 34 striking miners by police to almost daily protests against poor service delivery and outrage against growing corruption: PUI.

PUI stands for Poverty, Unemployment and Inequality, all social phenomena that are growing and some say worse today than when Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa’s president.

To assess the feelings of South Africans, surveyors from the Gallup Poll organisation put this question to a carefully selected sample in February and March of this year: “Now I am going to read you a lot of issues the Government of South Africa could address in the next twelve months. Please tell me which is the most important.”  The questions dealt with corruption, education, healthcare and the economy.

Fifty one per cent of the respondents put “Create New Jobs” at the top of their list.

Notes Gallup: “Currently, 28 per cent of South Africans overall say it is a good time to find a job in their community, while 69 per cent say it is a bad time. Those job opportunities that do exist are disproportionately concentrated in the cities, so that South Africans living in urban areas are almost twice as likely as those living in small towns or rural areas to say it is a good time to find a job – 40 per cent vs. 22 per cent, respectively. Correspondingly, the richest 20 per cent of South Africans are about twice as likely as the remaining 80 per cent to perceive job opportunities as good in the city or area where they live.”

The issue of jobs is of course a global challenge with unemployed and underemployed workers clamouring for job creation in every country. But, in South Africa, where workers fought so hard against a racial system of apartheid, many now find themselves stuck in an economic one.

An Afrikaner intellectual, Solomon Johannes (Sampie) Terreblanche is emerging as the country’s leading and hardest-hitting analyst of growing and worsening inequality and poverty that impacts as many as 50 per cent of all black South Africans.

Unlike others who are just critical of the African National Congress government, he offers a structural and global analysis showing that the political transition that took place here in the early 90s was not accompanied by a social and economic transformation.

He explains how these inequalities have their roots in a long history of colonialism, segregation and apartheid.

His new book Lost in Transformation (KMM Review Publishing) goes in to how what he calls the Mining Energy Complex (MEC) subverted the demands for fundamental reform through secret deal making behind the scenes of the negotiations for a new order.

He then ties what happened locally to the growth of an international American-driven neo-liberal global economic agenda that limited local sovereignty and policy options.

Terreblanche is a serious researcher, not a conspiracy theorist, but followers of Noam Chomsky and many critics of the economic strategies of the World Bank and the IMF will find a great deal to learn from his incisive analysis.

“The PUI problem that was bequeathed to the ANC government by the apartheid regime in 1994 was already almost unsolvable,” he writes.

“The ANC has proclaimed repeatedly that addressing the PUI problem is its highest priority. But this is true only in the rhetorical sense of the word. The policy measures implemented by the government over the past 1 years have given strong preference to black elite formation and to promoting the interests of local and foreign corporations while it has shamelessly neglected the impoverished black majority.”

This is the deeper background to the conflicts now surfacing in this country which are far more economic than political. When you hear about more uprisings and confrontation, think PUI – and what must be done about it.

The tragic events in the Marikana mine, in South Africa, which outcome resulted in the death of many miners, unionists and policemen, are serious and have an unquestionable political importance.

For what they objectively represent, but also by the symbolic and political power they acquired within a country, historically marked by the apartheid violence. Violence which took place, and specially the police action, cannot but offer an expressive condemnation by forces, as the PCP, have a common cause , with the workers struggle, the defence of their rights and have always been side by side with that people’s struggle against social and racial oppression and by the achievement and deepening of the democratic and national revolution, initiated with the over throwing of the apartheid. But this unquestionable condemnation and solidarity expression to workers of the millionaire mine extraction industry ought not to, nor cannot, ignore these events real causes and the political situation evolution in South Africa and of their social and political forces.

Upon two decades on the South African people’s and the ANC’s victory, the major reason for all these events resides in the maintenance of a situation which, in multiple aspects, can be considered as “social apartheid”. Although the existence of some positive evolutions, serious problems persist, inherited from the racial segregation system, such as unemployment ( which in strict sense achieves about 25% of the population and in latu sensu around 40%) ; poverty ; high employment rate in the so-called “informal economy” ( around 40% of the employment) and, moreover, a huge inequality in the wealth and land reallocation , which carries on a very strong racial component.

Policies carried out by the ANC, in order to correct the asymmetries in wealth distribution, access to employment and land, together with the participation in the economic activity, although with the best of intentions, did not resolve these problems in the essential, and one of the features of the evolution since 1994, was the emergence of a new powerful black bourgeoisie, which in many cases, assumes the role of the “visible face” of the colonial powers great economic groups, which influence the South African state apparatus and , during the Mbeki “era” won importance within the ANC, introducing interior contradictions and amid one of the main pillars of the tripartite alliance: the powerful COSATU, the class trade-union, of which the NUM, the miner union, is affiliated, its next month’s congress will precede the ANC congress in December, and during which, the ANC’s current leadership( headed by Jacob Zuma) and policy will be discussed, and which, in many aspects broke off , although not totally, with the policies proceeded unto 2009.

In the light the complex and explosive South African situation; the contradictions and the clarification processes in progress amid the ANC and the COSATU; some South African workers strata black population frustration regarding the ANC; the mining industry international companies action. in the attempt to dynamite the collective contract agreements, instigate divisions among the workers’ movement and finance populist trade-unions, such as the AMCU ( that some identify as holding a tribal nature and for several times, were accused of arising violence among workers), one ought to analyse the Marikana events. Events which, stand on a real frustration and revolt basis of over-exploited workers, suggest to observe the presupposition of the social and political orchestration in order to open up space for populism and “smash” the tripartite alliance via the COSATU debility, an important strategy for whom had in mind to jeopardize or subject the developments amid the ANC. Events which, once again prove, the major role of the workers’ class in societies and political evolution, and advise never to forget imperialism’s action which, as proved in Zimbabwe’s recent history, always attempted to create and profit from difficulties and mistakes in order to defer the African decolonizing history.

Over the last decade, around the world, China has been buying up mountains and mines, agricultural land, and oil fields at an extraordinary rate. In 2007, a Chinese company bought the mineral rights to two billion tons of copper in a Peruvian mountain for U.S. $3 billion. This was relatively small change; in 2008 the same company spent $14 billion on a stake in Australia’s aluminum industry. Since 2005, China has engaged in nearly 500 direct foreign investments and large contracts, valued at U.S. $505 billion–roughly one billion U.S. dollars per week.

These investments ensure China an upper hand in future struggles over resources. Finite and rapidly depleting supplies of land, water, minerals, and fossil fuels cannot match rising demand, driven by a growing world population, rapidly increasing global wealth, and urbanization. This fundamental supply-demand imbalance will lead to higher commodity prices and an increased risk of resource-driven conflict. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, commodity prices increased 150 percent. And since 1990, at least twenty-four civil wars and violent conflicts have had their origins in commodities. Many more conflicts are likely in the coming decades.

Yet China seems to be alone in adopting a multilateral commodities strategy, relying on trade, investment, resource swaps, and financial transfers to gain resource control. In 2010, China pledged to lay $12 billion worth of railway lines in Argentina, helping to sweeten relations with that country and facilitate export of minerals. In 2009, China loaned Russian oil companies $25 billion in exchange for a twenty-year supply of oil, at 300 thousand barrels per day. These deals benefit both China and its resource-rich hosts

By contrast, many other national governments have adopted a unilateral approach to resource acquisition and control, using a mix of military force to gain access to resources abroad and taxation and export bans to prevent control of domestic resources. In April, Argentina nationalized a majority stake in the energy company YPF, formerly a major subsidiary of the Spanish company Respol, after the discovery of new major natural gas deposits off its coast. Heavy-handed policies to exert control over local resources and commodity prices are not limited to the developing world. In March, Australia introduced a 30 percent tax on iron and coal mining profits, in an effort to grab cash from a local resource boon. Such policies are ultimately inefficient, hamper global production, exacerbate shortages, and force commodity prices even higher.

The predilection of the United States and her allies for military incursions into resource-rich regions such as Iraq, for example, almost always disrupts production and forces commodity prices higher. Political uncertainty can add a risk premium of $10 or more to the price of a barrel of oil.

Despite the serious risks that come with possible global commodity shortages, no unified international body exists to address these challenges. In the absence of such an entity, China’s multilateral approach to the commodity problem is sensible. Ultimately, if the world doesn’t take larger steps to address the imbalance between resource supply and demand, we face higher prices, scarcity, and more resource conflict.

Winners invariably believe that they are entitled to rewrite the past from the vantage point of history’s vindication, but official histories are always challenged by the ‘losers’.

With the approach of the 25th anniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, the controversy over who won this pivotal engagement in southern African history is being revisited. It is as if the battle has been rejoined as protagonists from both sides of the conflict press their claims as victors.

I was young then but I was against Apartheid and I supported, then and now all the peoples fighting against oppression. To me, Cuito Cuanavale was a great defeat of UNITA and the racist South Africa.

Book review

O primeiro dos artigos que abre esta coletânea, integrado na parte sobre Política, inicia-se com uma referência ao processo singular que deu origem aos Estados Africanos e ao facto de estes terem sido impostos de “fora” e relaciona três temas: Estado, Descentralização e Cidadania. O seu autor, João Óscar Monteiro, coloca no título do seu capítulo a questão que lhe sugere esta complexa relação–“Equação possível ou imperativa”–e que guia a sua reflexão. Reflectindo na formação e evolução dos Estados africanos, o autor centra-se, posteriormente, nas formas através das quais o processo de descentralização está a ser conduzido, afirmando que embora o conceito de descentralização tenha uma conotação favorável, actualmente “fez parte da panóplia crítica dos poderes excessivos do Estado” (p. 25) sendo também “gerador de receios de fragmentação” (p. 26). Lembra-nos que a descentralização também está identificada com autarcização e que o grau de descentralização é geralmente quantificado através do ritmo de criação de autarquias. O autor crítica o facto de esse processo ser imposto de cima para baixo (“iniciado pelo Governo e negociado em sede parlamentar” (p. 27) e pergunta se não seria possível dar “mais relevo à vontade popular” e fazer resultar a criação das autarquias da capacidade dos cidadãos se organizarem a nível local e “tomarem conta dos seus assuntos” (p. 27). Por outro lado, o autor afirma que existe a tendência de se considerar que apenas a descentralização autárquica é descentralização quando, segundo ele, existe também em Moçambique uma “descentralização administrativa participada” (p. 29) no caso em que as leis consagram o papel das comunidades na gestão dos seus recursos. O autor enumera no final do seu artigo os principais desafios que o processo de descentralização enfrenta em Moçambique.

O conjunto de desafios colocados por este autor contêm–como muitos dos desafios que ao longo deste livro são colocados por vários autores–um conjunto de premissas que necessitam de ser ultrapassados para que os desafios colocados o possam deixar de ser. Essas desejáveis mudanças passam por ver a realidade (neste caso concreto a descentralização) sobre outros prismas (como um processo que vai “para além de mudanças entre escalões administrativos,” p. 33), ultrapassando diversos obstáculos e receios (como sejam o ver a descentralização como fragmentação) e incapacidades (dos diferentes órgãos governamentais provinciais e distritais) e ainda o desafio de saber sé possível vencer a “mentalidade dirigista” (p. 34).

O segundo artigo intitulado “’Transformações sem mudanças?’ Os conselhos municipais e os desafios da institucionalização democrática em Moçambique”, da autoria de Salvador Cadete Forquilha e Aslak Orre, coloca dois importantes desafios relacionados, igualmente, com a descentralização politica e com os poderes e as formas de governação local em Moçambique. No primeiro dos desafios, os autores abordam os processos de inclusão políticos a nível local e a representatividade dos conselhos locais e, no segundo desafio, equacionam as possibilidades de estes órgãos de poder locais, os “conselhos locais”, se tornarem em órgãos efectivos de governação local. Na sua conclusão, os autores resumem as principais constatações a que a sua análise sobre a “institucionalização democrática de Moçambique” a partir das “dinâmicas e logicas de funcionamento dos espaços de participação criados no âmbito do processo de democratização” ao nível dos distritos (p. 36), chega e afirmam que, embora o processo de democratização iniciado nos anos de 1990 tenha implicado a existência de novas instituições, estas não trouxeram mudanças significativas pois a “estruturação do campo politico … conduziu à constituição de um sistema de partido dominante, cristalizado numa cada vez mais captura do Estado pelo partido do poder” (p. 51) que domina as instituições politicas a nível distrital e que os conselhos locais têm um papel marginal nas decisões de nível local não sendo instrumentos políticos participativos e inclusivos.

A segunda parte desta coletânea, designada Economia, inclui cinco artigos que equacionam questões relacionadas com as diferentes opções económicas que se colocam a Moçambique. A essas opções não são alheios interesses e dependências externas e interesses instalados de diferentes grupos sociais.

Esta parte inicia-se com uma análise de Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco, sobre a questão da mobilização dos recursos domésticos e as formas através das quais essa mobilização pode ser feita, apresentando, o autor, o debate que tal tem gerado em Moçambique, as motivações que o impulsionam e as questões que levanta. O autor apresenta seis grandes questões/motivações: a substituição da ajuda externa; a redução da interferência politica; o aumento da receita e mudança da estrutura fiscal; a eliminação de benefícios fiscais redundantes; o que fazer com os recursos naturais; e, por último, aborda os perigos e desafios do endividamento público. Conclui que “do ponto de vista da construção de uma economia diversificada e articulada a tributação do capital parece ser a melhor opção para mobilizar recursos domésticos” (p.122). No entanto, o autor, ao interrogar-se sobre as razões que explicam a não opção por esta via, refere que estas se predem com o facto de a “função principal do Estado moçambicano na fase actual” ser o de “facilitar o processo de acumulação de capital das classes capitalistas emergentes … na completa dependência das dinâmicas e interesses do capital multinacional, através da expropriação e controle dos recursos naturais a baixo custo para o capital” (p. 123). Por último refere que “o debate sobre opções de financiamento do Estado é também sobre opções e padrões e reprodução social” (p. 128). Se o segundo artigo desta parte reforça a ideia que o aumento das receitas do Estado deve ser feito por via da tributação dos rendimentos do capital (em especial das grandes empresas que gozam de benefícios fiscais), o terceiro artigo levanta a possibilidade de esse financiamento poder vir a ser feito através do endividamento e reflecte sobre os diferentes tipos de endividamento possíveis.

O último artigo que se insere nesta segunda parte do livro é da autoria de Zaque Sande e foi publicado a título póstumo (o livro é-lhe dedicado). Este artigo aborda a polémica questão dos “7 milhões” e coloca dois desafios. No primeiro, o autor, refere que importa relacionar o impacto dos “7 milhões” com o alargamento, a diversificação e expansão da base produtiva local na estratégia de investimento público e privado e na estratégia de expansão do sistema financeiro em Moçambique (p. 223), e no segundo desafio refere que esta a iniciativa “precisa de gerar uma base de dados de informação de forma a permitir análises detalhadas” (p. 224).

Ana Benard. Review of de Brito, Luís; Castel-Branco, Carlos Nuno; Chichava, Sérgio, eds., Desafios para Moçambique. H-Luso-Africa, H-Net Reviews. August, 2012.

 

Remember when ANC was a terrorist organization under US view, or PLO or Arafat or FARC (this one is a terrorist group yet)…

When the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attacked and killed 24 Turkish soldiers in October 2011, the violence made headlines around the world. But it also highlighted the very different approach the Turkish media takes when it comes to covering highly politicised stories.

The administration of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, is often cited as proof that an Islamic government can exist within a democratic framework. Yet, when it comes to freedom of the press, the Erdogan government has a lamentable reputation – and it is growing worse.

It is not just about article 301, the ambiguous and controversial law that outlaws criticism of “Turkishness”. Nor is the criticism limited to the number of Turkish journalists behind bars.

In Turkey, there is a tacit obligation that the media follow the government’s wish for the PKK to be referred to as ‘terrorists’. However, global media outlets are not so easily dictated to, and Reuters found itself in the firing line when it continued to refer to the PKK as ‘rebels’.

This Union is completely shocked that murder charges have been laid against the 270 people who were arrested on August 12th in Marikana, during the massacre of 34 workers who were killed by the police. It is not just this Union and our Federation COSATU that is alarmed and shocked by this turn of events, but also respected constitutional lawyers. Pierre de Vos, a respected constitutional lawyer based at the University of Cape Town has called the development bizarre and shocking and a flagrant abuse of the criminal justice system.

To use ‘common purpose’ law in this case is also deeply provocative and insulting. This is legislation that was internationally condemned when it was used to collectively silence and condemn anti-apartheid activists, and to criminalise all those who were fighting for democracy in South Africa.

These developments are deeply worrying and all concerned citizens must ask a very basic question; the most recent comments from the Minister of Justice, seeking an explanation of this situation makes the question even more pressing, and that is ‘What is happening in the State?’

On the one hand we have seven days of official morning declared by the President, a high level governmental and judicial enquiry, the payment from the public fiscus of funeral expenses to the families of those who were killed, government intervention to stop the dismissal of those still on strike, and serious attempts via the Minister of Labour to establish the basis for a peace accord towards a negotiated settlement.

On the other hand, there is the bizarre and legally indefensible application of the common purpose laws, accompanied by the abuse of prisoners basic human and legal rights, strong evidence emerging that many of those who were killed by police were shot while retreating (and out of view of the media), and corroborated reports of the illegal and heartless mistreatment of those arrested, including the denial of medical treatment.

South Africa and the world was shocked at the gunning down of 34 workers, but are now completely perplexed to hear that those who were shot at by the police, and who fled for their lives, have been charged with the murderous actions they so luckily escaped. The reputation of our beloved country is being tarnished. Decisive action is now required from our leadership. This tragic and confused legal approach to the Marikana crisis is simply making matters far worse.

Now is the time for honest, open and firm leadership. Those who are currently directing the legal case against the 270 must be changed immediately. The murder charges must be withdrawn pending the outcome of the Judicial Enquiry. Bail facilities must be fast-tracked to allow those who have been traumatised by this experience to return to their families, to grieve the neighbours and fellow workers they have lost, and to visit those who are still in hospital receiving treatment. Communities must be allowed to return to some degree of normality.

Efforts to secure a peace accord must be given utmost priority as must efforts at finding an acceptable negotiated settlement between all concerned parties to allow for a return to work. These constructive measures require a calm and stable environment if they are to succeed. At present they are being critically disabled by those who seem hell bent on exacting vengeance above all else. This is unacceptable.

In addition, the Judicial Enquiry must speedily start its work and report within a time frame that reassures the public. All those with evidence to submit, must be ready, and resist the temptation to derail progress. All those who are seeking to exploit this crisis for their own self-serving interests must be persuaded by an overwhelming popular acclaim, to curtail their ambitions, for the common good.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in the Eastern Cape Province held a successful bilateral meeting on the 28 August 2012 in East London. (…)

The bilateral meeting observed a moment of silence for those who lost their lives, their family members, colleagues and their parents in Lonmin Marikana Platinum Mine during strike, the ten school children who lost during a road accident in Kwazulu Natal and Professor Neville Alexander, may their souls rest in peace.

The bilateral welcomed the announcement by President Jacob Zuma on the commission of enquiry that will lead in clarifying the role of various players in the incident and to putting the Marikana issue at rest. However we believe that Lonmin management must take a greater responsibility of those who lost their parents and family members in the Marikana tragedy, having noted that most of them emerge from the Eastern Cape. Our view is that the Lonmin must commit to building homes for these families and taking care of their children`s education.

Both the federation and the party condemn the opportunistic elements that are prepared to literally walk over dead bodies to score political points. This is the desperation lumpen bourgeoisie whom are prepared to bring about the lumpenisation of the under-class for their new accumulation path.(…)

The brutal bourgeoisie mode of production continues to face an unending structural crisis. This mode of production has over a period of time failed to respond to the needs of the people throughout the globe. This crisis has forced the bourgeoisie to plant mercenaries in other countries that are anti-imperialist as an attempt to rescue this structural crisis of this atrocious system.

The bilateral meeting condemns the invasion and the killings of people of Syria, particularly by United States of America. The people of Syria must not be compromised in an attempt to rescue a crumbling capitalist system, this has proven to fail in Libya no matter how many people were killed but capitalism was never rescued.

We draw strength from the international communists who continue to work towards total destruction of the brutal capitalist system. The international left forces must unite and consolidate a program that will bring about an end to the inhumane capitalist mode of production.

The working class throughout the globe has been forced to carry the scars and injuries of this dwindling ruthless system of production. In South Africa the unemployment, poverty and inequality remain structural and deep rooted; in the 18 years of democracy the property relations remain unchanged except the co-option of few black people.(…)

Our ANC alliance led government must strengthen the BRICS as an alternative economic bloc to the brutal so called western super power

We have noted that even though we have seen changes in the leadership and policy directions of our movement post 2007 and also have come out with progressive policies propositions in the ANC NGC but we seem to be trapped in undeclared age of hope as the working class, when it comes to implementation of such policies. We have all agreed that there should be radical policy directions for the benefit of the working class but we have seen less in implementation. We have been celebrating few momenta joys and not the long term solutions for the working class. This has made it easy for the new tendency and the emerging lumpen bourgeoisie to rent the under-class for their self-accumulation as the poor becomes more vulnerable.

The meeting much-admired COSATU for having successful and most united provincial congress, with the challenges facing the alliance components the unity shown by both the national congress of the SACP and the provincial congress of COSATU cannot be taken for granted. The meeting further wished both COSATU and the ANC successful and united national congresses, which should be seen as platforms to deepen and defend our shared program; the National Democratic Revolution (NDR).

The alliance is facing a strategic threat from the neo-liberal some from the former members and leaders of the movement, some from the neo-liberal social movements and the DA led opposition. Our alliance continues to be undermined through courts and now the new string of the so-called artist whom in the name of art have deemed it fit to cartoon our leadership. Our alliance is also undermined and attacked by the neo-liberals as portraying our leadership as the most corrupt and most immoral, when the reality is that this neo-liberal offense is meant to weaken the alliance and consolidate political power for the DA consortium led opposition and the new emerging lumped bourgeoisie.

The unity of the ANC, SACP and COSATU alliance is of all paramount importance if we are to change the plight of the poor of our province. It is important for the alliance to be viewed as the political center and therefore programmatic relations must be enforced, if we are to attain the objectives of the NDR.

There is strong need of the alliance components to develop a program in relation to resolving challenges facing the movement throughout the province. Our alliance must never cease to be the beacon of hope to the striving masses of this land; it must be a beacon of hope because of its programs that responds to the need and aspirations of the workers and the poor.

The unity of SACP & COSATU in the province and the country at large is of paramount importance. The ANC cannot be able to assert itself without the alliance; it will not be able to lead this NDR without this alliance. It is therefore important to take greater responsibility of the NDR as our shared program and most importantly for the SACP and COSATU the struggle of building a socialist South Africa for and with the workers and the poor.

On the Provincial Government:

The bilateral raised its concern on the poor administration displayed by the some departments in the province, in particular the Department of Health: wherein we have witnessed the lack of security of the nurses, non-payment of workers, loss of medicines, etc. We strongly believe that drastic actions must be taken within the department to remedy the situation and those found responsible must face the full might of the law. This has to be resolved as a matter of urgency as this has a potential of compromising the lives of the poor and can also compromise a solid ground for the National Health Insurance (NHI).

The bilateral applauded the significant progress made in the Department of Education following the misunderstanding when it comes to an issue of section 100b between the Provincial Government and the National Government. We of the firm view that more involvement of all in the society to assist in the department is imperative as education is the societal matter.

We are calling upon our Provincial Government to rollout a massive infrastructure projects as promised in the State of The Province Address by our Premier Ms. Noxolo Kiviet and a comprehensive industrial strategy to curb unemployment. There is a dire need of inclusive Rural and agrarian reform strategy as the means for massive food production and combating unemployment.

The meeting also noted with great apprehension the deteriorating situation of most of the municipalities in the province. In Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality there has been no Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for more than three years and there has also been consistent infighting within the municipality. In the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality there has been no City Manager and vacant Executive Directors` posts for more than three years. In Mnquma Local Municipality there has been no progress owing to the divisions and infighting within the municipality.

If the issues that are raised above are not resolved as a matter of urgency with high velocity service delivery and emancipation of people will be highly compromised as they severely impact on the service delivery.

We reasserted to wage a relentless war against corruption in and out of government; corruption continues to deny people of our province and the country at large their right to services. The government tenders have for over a period of time proven to be most role-players in the scourge of corruption. It is our belief that those who are working or deployed politically in the state must not do business with the state, to declare that you do business with the state is not enough, people must choose between being business people and genuine public servants.

COSATU and the SACP recommit these two working class formations to working together, shoulder to shoulder in rooting out corruption. We will have campaigns to this end, in making sure that we root out corruption in favour of free basic services for all.