"South Africa - Time of Challenge” - Report, on behalf of the Secretariat, to the Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party, October 1973
Events in the last nine months have confirmed the broad lines of the report adopted by the last Plenary Session of our Central Committee.
In that report we noted that the special contradictions and stresses inherent in the White supremacy system were being aggravated. This was reflected not only by signs of conflict between various elements of the ruling classes over problems of how best to safeguard the racialist-colonialist structure, but even more significantly by expressions of renewed militancy and upsurge amongst all sections of our oppressed and exploited people.
Even then there were a number of encouraging signs that the liberation movement was recovering from the setbacks which followed heightened repressive measures in the post-1960 period. This tendency has been strengthened, and shows itself in the spread of the strike movement, growing opposition to rural resettlement schemes, a marked spirit of resistance amongst the students and working youth, and the increasing search by militants for yet more effective measures and organisational forms to advance the liberation struggle.
The scale of recent industrial action by workers is even more impressive when we recall that in 1970, for example, the total number of Africans who went on strike in 17 stoppages was only 665. This was the pattern for ten years up to 1973 when in the first four months alone scores of strikes involved over 100,000 Black workers.
The recent action by Black miners crushed in one case by batons and in another by the murder of 12 workers, is evidence of renewed stirrings amongst this most exploited section of the working class.
Student militancy continued to grow despite arrests, jailings and unending harassment of the student leaders. This year's mass actions at the Coloured University of the Western Cape and at Fort Hare in which the student bodies refused to bow to authority, follows on earlier actions of Black students at most of the ethnic universities.
There have been further examples of whole communities refusing to carry out removals and resettlement orders, some of which have had to be enforced by armed police contingents.
Amongst the Coloured and Indian people there have been more signs of growing identification with the African people. Solidarity with their African brothers by Indian workers during the recent strikes and the rejection by Coloured political figures, especially in the Labour Party, of Government attempts to steer them away from cooperation with their fellow Blacks, are amongst the many indications which reflect a further growth of all-Black unity.
Externally, the Vorster regime's campaign for 'dialogue' and its attempts to overcome its isolation from Black Africa have been sharply rebuked, as witness the UN General Assembly demonstration in October when every African State (with the exception of Malawi) walked out on Muller's speech. Even the Leabua Jonathan Government of Lesotho is impelled to take up a belated but welcome stand for independence from domination by Pretoria.
The action by SWAPO guerrillas and its impressive political activity inside Namibia has shaken the Government. Last year's successful industrial action by the Namibian working class, the impressive resistance to the implementation of the Bantustan programme and the growth of mass SWAPO organisation within the territory are amongst the signs of the continued development of a more favourable situation for the liberation forces. Although the white regime continues to exercise its open racial dictatorship in Namibia, it is from time to time forced to have regard to the Territory's special international position.
In Zimbabwe, the successful and sustained activity of the ZANU and ZAPU guerrillas is creating a new crisis for the Smith regime and its main prop - South Africa.
Above all, the impressive strides by the forces of FRELIMO in Mozambique, bringing the liberation force closer and closer to the White man's main fortress, create serious concern for the Vorster-Smith-Caetano trinity of reaction.
In Guinea-Bissau the recent declaration of independence and the creation of a people's government which has already been recognised by scores of countries throughout the world, is a major blow against the white alliance.
Outside Africa, too, the world-wide solidarity movement is scoring advances in its efforts to mobilise world opinion and action against the racist regime. The regime has failed to make any significant breaches in the wall of isolation which surrounds it in the world of sport. Of special significance is the recent Geneva trade union conference representing 186 million workers. The decisions of this conference provide an impressive basis for world-wide workers' action against apartheid. It united for the first time in many years all the main detachments of the trade union movement, unanimously denounced apartheid and race discrimination as a crime against humanity and called for a whole series of practical measures to be taken by governments, trade unions and employers to boycott racist South Africa and render financial, moral and material support to the workers and people of South Africa "through their authentic trade unions and political organisations".
In general, there can be no doubt that the situation in our country contains within it the seeds of an even more fundamental sharpening of the confrontation between the people and white supremacy. The crisis of apartheid is growing and, more than at any time in the last decade, conditions are ripening which hold out possibilities of major advance. The fact that wider sections of the people are now beginning to show a greater readiness to speak out and to act, is in part due to an absolute and relative deterioration in their living conditions, and the unbroken example of the activity of our liberation movement. But it is also significantly connected with a deepening of the conflicts and stresses in the socio-economic structure itself. This structure shares with world imperialism, of which it is an integral part, an inability to overcome the ever-recurring financial and economic crises inherent in the capitalist mode of production. At the same time it suffers from special contradictions which flow from its internal racialist-colonialist character.
Although the basic framework of white rule in South Africa has, broadly speaking, remained unaltered, it is the duty of our movement to examine more closely the important developments that have taken place particularly in the last decade which have a significant bearing on the struggle for revolutionary change.
In the first place, apartheid as understood by some of the post-1948 Nationalist ideologists, has demonstrably broken down. If there ever existed a genuine intention to create a White South Africa which is geographically and economically independent of Black labour, the inexorable laws of economic development have destroyed the fantasies of the apartheid "idealists." The statistical picture tells a clear story.
The percentage of Black labour employed in secondary industry has increased steadily and spectacularly from 57.6 per cent of the work force in 1936 to 66.5 per cent in 1951 and 70.3 per cent in 1967.
The trend continues. Between 1971 and 1972, the rate of increase of Africans employed in manufacturing industry was twice that of the whites, and in the railways five times as much. The same pattern shows itself in the mining industry and repeats itself in almost every sphere of urban and rural employment. On the white farms Africans constitute 82.7 per cent of the labour force (most of the balance being Coloured and Indian), whereas between 1936 and 1967 the number of white farmers decreased from 132,000 to 90,000.
The planned reduction of Black presence in White areas was to be accompanied by the creation of job opportunities in and near the so-called Bantu homelands by a process of industrial decentralisation. The efforts in this direction have produced results which can only be described as farcical. In the "border" regions, a grand total of 78,451 jobs were created for Africans in the eleven and a half years from June 1960 to December 1972. Inside the homelands themselves, the figures are even more pathetic. According to the Government-supporting Afrikaanse Handels-instituut, only 8,000 new jobs have been created in all the Bantustans in the last ten years. This led it to conclude (rather late in the day) "that this meant the Bantustans were not going to be able to siphon off enough Black people to make white South Africa meaningfully white in any political sense". The scale of the deception reaches monstrous proportions when we recall that the Government's Tomlinson Commission recommended that even a minimal implementation of true apartheid would have required the creation of 500,000 new jobs during this period.
Even in the central public services, Blacks now outnumber whites.
Government estimates show that during the period 1947 to 1967 there has been an increase of 156 per cent in the number of Africans in white areas and the latest census shows that in a city like Johannesburg, the African population has increased at more than twice the rate of the white population increase during the period 1960-1970.
The attempts to keep Africans out of skilled and semi-skilled jobs was continuously being undermined by the economic processes. It was universally recognised that the device of job reservation had substantially failed. The Divisional Inspector of Labour for Johannesburg claimed earlier this year that "employers don't even apply for exemptions any more. They employ non-whites regardless. As a labour department official of 40 years' standing, I say job reservation is a dead letter."
Crisis of Apartheid and Recent "Reforms"
The traditional labour structure in South Africa was, in its earlier period, based almost completely on migratory labour, all of which has had direct or indirect links with the reserves. Such a shifting labour force was not only more easily dealt with but its connection with the reserves provided the excuse for below-
minimum wage levels. The routine argument of every employers' organisation before Labour Commissions and Wage Boards was that the "Native's" cash wage packet was not his sole source of income but was supplemented and subsidised by landholding in the reserves.
Apartheid emerged as a special ideology in the late forties when the influx of Africans into the urban areas and its developing industries had received a new spurt in the post-war economic growth. This fact did not in itself create a new situation for a ruling class which has always flourished on the maximum exploitation of Black labour. But the increasing dependence of the system on a growing Black work force which is permanently urban-based and more and more cut off from the land, posed new problems; and the ideology of apartheid was seen as the prime instrument for overcoming them.
Like any other ideology, apartheid is the expression of a class political policy. It reflects the interests of capitalist rule, and we must be especially on our guard to separate the rhetoric from the substance. There were no doubt a few in the enemy camp who genuinely dreamt of achieving a "white" economy in the "white" State, eventually free of its dependence on Black labour. But the real driving force of apartheid is economic. The capitalist class is ever seeking to intensify exploitation and at the same time to keep the Black workers in check. As the character of the African working class has changed, so new mechanisms had to be sought to maintain the cheap labour system. Apartheid in this sense was a continuation of, and a break with, the past. Its primary objective was to strengthen and perpetuate the policy of white domination over the whole of South Africa. It contained a special flavour because changes in the economic structure demanded new mechanisms to further this aim.
The permanent urbanisation of a Black proletariat no longer having economic links with the countryside called for fresh measures. This aspect was put very crisply by the Minister of Mines in 1948 when he told Parliament:
"There should be a migratory labour policy, not only as it is on the mines, but in the country generally....This is exactly the policy which has been proposed by this side of the House in regard to Native labour required for secondary industries."
In the first place new steps were needed to cope with the growing challenge and potential revolutionary capacity of an urban proletariat more and more cut off from the land. The answer which apartheid gave was to go in for a more intensive and naked form of political repression against the Black political opposition. Events have further exposed the liberal illusion that economic growth would, by a slow evolutionary process, force the white State to make meaningful political concessions. Indeed economic growth in the last twenty years has been accompanied by more naked repression and by a narrowing rather than a widening of political and social rights. Secondly, apartheid attempted to stop and reverse the process of permanent Black urbanisation and to create conditions in which the reserves could more effectively be used both as reserve pools of labour, and as a means of transforming the urban proletariat once again into a semi-migratory work force with direct or indirect economic links in the reserves. The fiction that every Black urban worker had a "citizenship" in a homeland, was designed to create acceptance that even those born in the urban areas (the vast majority) were there as "foreigners" at the pleasure of the white man and could expect no political rights. The Government tried to reduce the number of Africans in the towns whilst keeping them integrated into the white economy by encouraging industrialists to move their factories to the borders of the homelands.
In fact, as shown above, there has been a growth rather than a decrease of the Black population in the towns and in all spheres of industry, and a pathetic level of economic development in and around the reserves. The crisis of apartheid is, in important respects, connected with the system's substantial failure to turn the clock back by the use of these new devices. It has not succeeded (despite a stepping up of political terror) in removing the growing political threat to its survival. In every sphere of life, the white State has become more and not less dependent on a permanently urban-based Black proletariat which is once again beginning to show its teeth. The new efforts to give substance to the Bantustans and various so-called "reforms" in the urban areas reflect the pressures on, and the weakness of, the regime. It tries to divert the growing pressures in the towns and to take more effective measures to obtain Black collaboration in holding on to the reins of power. It strives to handle the crisis which it has created in the reserves.
The population in the reserves has risen to seven million with a population density of 46 per sq. km. compared to 13 per sq. km. for the rest of the country, including cities and towns. The increase in population is partly the result of the implementation of resettlement policies, affecting people mainly from the "White" farms and those in rural "Black spots". In the period 1967 to 1970, reliable estimates by the Institute of Race Relations show that 1.6 million Africans were dumped into the reserves, of whom 1.2 million were squatters and labour tenants in rural areas or occupying so-called rural "Black spots". It is significant that the rate of "repatriation" from the urban areas has been comparatively smaller and has in fact slowed down. Of the 1.6 million sent to the "homelands" between 1960 and 1970, 400,000 were endorsed out of urban areas. In the shorter period, 1957 to 1963, the total was close to 530,000. The homelands "consolidation" plan envisages the resettlement of a further 363,000 people from rural "Black spots" in Natal and the Transvaal. The homelands, observes a South African columnist, "are in fact degenerating into labour reservoirs for the systematic exploitation by white industrialists or farmers". There are now many areas with massive unemployment which are being reserved for particular types of employment recruitment. An example is one area in Bophuthatswana which is closed to labour officers from the white towns and has been reserved for farm labour recruiters only.
The reserves have for long been grossly overcrowded. In 1956, the Tomlinson Commission stated that they could at best support a maximum of 2.3 million people. It is an enormity to uproot about 13 per cent of the African population from elsewhere and dump them there. The traditional subsistence economy into which these people are received is already unable to sustain life even at its lowest level. Studies in the Ciskei in the late 1960s show that one-third of families had no arable land at all. In the Transkei, 95 per cent of families have much less than the 4.3 hectares of land officials regard as the minimum necessary to make a living in the Umtata district. In all the homelands unemployment, land and cattle shortages, starvation, regular famines, horrifying levels of infant mortality, etc. are creating conditions of crisis proportions. These discarded people will be on permanent standby to meet the labour need of white farms and industry. It is migrant labour of a new sort with the bulk of this reserve army of unemployed having no visible means of subsistence until they are conscripted by a recruiting officer. This is the reality for the overwhelming majority of people in the Bantustans.
Despite the apparent advantages which such conditions have for an economy based on the maximum exploitation of Black labour, there is a noticeable recognition that urgent measures are necessary to defuse the explosive potential which it contains. This explains the new energy which has been shown in the last three years in the direction of pushing ahead with the political aspects of the Bantustan programme. There is a growing recognition too that the trend in the towns towards Black permanence in industry and of a work force no longer having a real connection with the reserves, has proved to be irreversible. The recent spate of so-called "reforms" and talk of "reforms" are partly the response to growing pressure from the people, and partly an attempt to preserve the ruling class in its present position of dominance in the light of these realities. In a rare moment of candour, the Minister of Bantu Administration warned recently that in regard to White-Black relations "it is one minute to midnight."
Reforms in Urban Areas
Industrial action by the Black working class has resulted in nominal wage rises in industry and on the mines. In fact the workers have not even been compensated for the dramatic fall in their real income as a result of inflation rates which are amongst the worst in the world. J. J. Cloete, senior economist for Barclays Bank, stated that "inflation has reached a breakneck 10-13 per cent a year and...it may now be totally out of hand".
In the mines where the real income of the average Black miner was no higher in 1972 than in 1911, the average 22 per cent rise in income still means that the Black miner earns less than R 21 per month. The meanness of the increase is underlined by the fact that in 1972 the increase in mine profits alone was more than double the total Black wage bill. Natal Consolidated Industrial Investment, a major part of the infamous Frame group, recorded a 70 per cent rise on profits in 1972 while at the same time, despite minor wage rises, it continues to pay its Black workers starvation wages.
The massive pay gap between white and Black labour continues to widen. The white working class - one of the main supporters of white rule - uses its political influence and sectional trade union organisation to maintain and extend its share from the exploitation of Black workers. Shortage of skilled and semi-skilled labour, which interfered with the expansion of the economy as a whole and threatened to create havoc in important sectors of industry, resulted in all-round pressure particularly by employers for the admission of Blacks into certain levels of skills previously monopolised by white workers. Steps are now being taken for the controlled influx of Africans into some areas of skilled and semi-skilled operations. The resistance of the white workers to this is being broken down not by working class solidarity but by open bribery, ranging from life-time guarantees of existing white jobs to hard cash on a scale which once again makes so-called African advancement pale into insignificance. On the mines, for example, the latest wage agreement with the 7,000 white artisans gives them an immediate rise of R100 per month in exchange for allowing Africans to do certain artisan tasks under their supervision. This rise alone is five times the average monthly earnings of the Black miner, even after the recent increases.
The enormous potential of the industrial strength of the Black proletariat which showed itself in this year's industrial actions, is even more impressive when it is remembered that it was carried out at a time when formal trade union organisation is at an extremely low level because of Government repression of all trade union rights for Blacks. This lesson was not lost on South Africa's regime and some of the "reforms" which have been introduced are clearly designed to pre-empt the natural growth of Black trade union organisation. There is an adjustment in the make-up of the existing Works Committees which will leave them as powerless and as vulnerable as they ever were to employer and official pressures. The legislation to "legalise" African strikes has been described by a commentator as "a symbolic concession to the muscle-power of the awakening giant in our midst."
The pretence that the new labour laws represent a measure of "liberalisation" is a gross deception. The absolute prohibition against strikes still applies to vast categories of workers including those employed by local authorities, in "essential" services (light, power, water, sanitation, passenger transportation), farming, domestic service, Government and Provincial Administration, railways, and coal and gold mining. This total prohibition can be extended by the Minister at any time to all industries concerned with the supply, distribution and conveying of perishable foodstuffs, or with the supply of petrol and other fuels to local authorities or "others engaged in providing essential services". For the rest, the conditions under which a strike becomes legal are so circuitous and complex that for all practical purposes the so-called "right to strike" is utterly meaningless. There is a built-in device by which strikes are in any case prohibited if the Minister refers the dispute to the Wage Board for investigation which, in practice, could prevent a single legal strike in any dispute whatsoever. Unified strike action in more than one factory is made impossible by other provisions which involve a cooling off period after the dispute has not been resolved by a specific Works Committee. We do not doubt the Government's claim when introducing the legislation that it was designed to prevent even further the growth of African trade unions.
The white argument that Africans in the towns were "sojourners" and "superfluous appendages" was always a crude rationalisation for a policy which squeezed what it could from African labour but kept it completely rightless and voiceless politically and industrially and dumped it into the wasteland of the reserves when it became too old or sick to be profitable. The mechanisms for this policy are being centralised and strengthened in the shape of further "reforms".
Consolidated Bantu Administration areas have been created in various parts of the country within which labour mobility will be far easier. The effect will be that the size of the pass areas have been increased and Africans residing in some towns will no longer need special permission to take jobs in a limited number of others which fall within the wider area. The usual tight control over the movement of labour will be slightly relaxed. Within each of these areas labour mobility will now be in the hands of centralised Government boards and no longer fall under the local authorities, some of whom the Government has been accusing of a lack of vigour in implementing the pass laws.
Although presented as a "reform" and as an easing of the pass laws, its true meaning can already be seen by a statement of the chairman of the East Rand Bantu Administration Board, Kalie van der Merwe, that one of the greatest aims of the Boards is that economically inactive Africans "will in time disappear from White South Africa". He mentioned the figure of 300,000 who will be affected within his Board's jurisdiction alone.
Against this background the increasing talk of removing some of the irritating effects of so-called "petty apartheid" and the claim by Jansen, the Deputy Minister of Bantu Administration, that he would try to make the lot of Black urban dwellers "as happy as possible" and that "we should get away from the idea of the homelands as dumping grounds for people we don't want in South Africa", is of minor importance. It does, however, highlight a recognition by some of the more astute observers in the enemy camp that urgent gestures are necessary to cover up the real processes at work, because more than ever before the previous rationalisations are wearing thin.
In some areas, like sport, the threat of international isolation led to minor concessions which leave the substance of colour domination unchanged.
Our Attitude to Reforms
In general, we know that everything the white State gives with one hand it will try to take away with the other. At the same time, the fact that the regime is forced to make concessions, however minor, and to go in for complex deceptions which pretend to meet some of the basic demands, is evidence of a ferment within the system reflecting an intensification of its contradictions.
How then should our revolutionary movement approach the limited "reforms" we have described and those which the regime may be forced to make in the future in an attempt to overcome these contradictions and to preserve itself? We have always been and will always be in the forefront of the struggle for better all-round conditions, because we believe that the struggle for these, properly directed and related to long-term aims of power to the people, is an indispensable school for the creation of revolutionary consciousness. We. therefore, distinguish between reforms such as a rise in wages which are won by the struggle of the people, and manoeuvres like the new strike law which are aimed at entrenching class exploitation and race rule.
On the whole, the measures which have been taken recently reflect the responses of the ruling class in a situation in which it is trying to contain an awakening people and to find new ways of overcoming the insoluble contradictions and stresses of capitalist-race rule in South Africa and, more specifically, the failure of some of its recent policies.
From the point of view of the people, even the small successes such as the recent meagre wage rises create rising expectations and have given them new experience of the potential of united action on a much bigger scale. The forced retreat by the Government on the question of certain levels of skilled work for Blacks provides a spur for greater achievement in this field and highlights still further in the minds of the African workers the iniquitous wage gap between them and the whites who previously carried out the same work. The new deceptive Labour Bill places more firmly on the agenda the urgent need to struggle for real trade union rights and the right to strike. Although it was never the regime's intention, the speeding up of the Bantustan programme has put on the agenda as never before the whole question of real political power and national liberation.
It is in this sense that some of the reforms which have been won and other adjustments which are being made by the regime in an attempt to overcome the insoluble contradictions of apartheid, are opening up new possibilities of mass mobilisation. Whether these opportunities are used depends upon the leadership efforts of our whole movement. Spontaneity is not enough. History teaches that, left to themselves without advanced revolutionary leadership, the masses can more easily be deceived and led into the traps of reformism and unprincipled compromises. And in no field is the danger so great as in the area of the Bantustans.
It is in the area of the Bantustans that the regime has pushed ahead in the recent period with a renewed vigour. It has done so to meet the untenable position which has been created by the developments we have described both in the urban areas and in the reserves. Above all, it is anxious to create ethnic administrations in which so-called 'traditional' Black leaders will help it to institutionalise the break-up of nation-wide African consciousness, to consolidate the White man's claim over the greater and richest parts of South Africa, and to make easier the transformation of the reserves into more manageable sources of cheap migrant Black labour with the Black administrations acting as more effective middle men.
We have previously analysed some of the contradictions which have emerged in this Government attempt to gain Black collaboration for its new attempts to hide the real mechanisms of white rule. There have been, furthermore, recent examples of verbal confrontations between some of the Bantustan chiefs and the Government on land questions, consolidation demands, demands for greater local powers, and so on. Although embarrassed by some of these disputes, it is clear that to meet its internal needs and to show a better face to the outside world, the racist regime is prepared to take some calculated risks, because it considers that, on balance, the outcome will help rather than obstruct white domination.
Already evidence is accumulating which has dangerous implications for our whole liberation movement. Amongst those who are involved in the workings of the Bantustan system there are men of different calibre and commitment. Some are out and out collaborators of the "Uncle Tom" variety. For others it means a better job and more possibilities of personal advancement. A few see their participation as giving them opportunities of squeezing a few concessions for their people within the limited Government framework. But, objectively speaking, what they share in common is that the logic of their position enables the Government to use them in order to further its more basic purposes. As we shall see later, even some of the more militant sounding demands are rooted in the Bantustan framework and, therefore, in the long run reinforce it.
In this sense the motives of each individual Bantustan leader have little relevance. However radical and sincere the Bantustan leaders might be, they are in fact (with whatever reservations) helping to work the system. At best their participation can only be justified if they make clear, by what they say and what they do, that their participation is designed to utterly destroy the Bantustans and to support the struggle for majority Black rule over the whole of our country.
It is true that some of them are forced from time to time to echo the basic aspirations of the people by paying tribute to the idea of a united South Africa on the basis of equality. Even Matanzima said recently that the only eventual answer is "one man, one vote" with representation for all races in a central parliament. But he saw the homelands as being "a meaningful share of political power" which must precede the larger aim. This is a dangerous illusion. The white regime with its 300 years' experience of manipulating Black administrations will not so easily be outwitted in a Bantustan-type political game whose rules it controls. The package which it is offering is overwhelmingly to its advantage and the actual record of the Bantustan administrations shows this.
The Transkei Minister of Justice, George Matanzima, helps to spread the master-race ideological rubbish when he says: "I am a strong believer in racial purity," and promises to invoke the Immorality Act in the Transkei against Coloureds and whites. Kaizer Matanzima claims that "the separation of the races is here to stay", and states that "the only way to racial harmony was through a policy of separation of the races on equal and parallel lines" - once again parroting the apartheid ideologists.
In the election manifesto of his Ciskei National Independence Party, Lennox Sebe, the new Chief Minister of the Ciskei, proclaimed his support for the broad principles of separate development and chieftainship as the corner-stone of the homeland's political system. He recently went on record as opposing the release of political prisoners and the return of political refugees who left the country because it "would only create a great deal of unrest."
In the Transkei Legislative Assembly, Kaizer Matanzima introduced a motion of sympathy (which was carried unanimously) with the relatives of the four African policemen who died in a guerrilla ambush in the Caprivi Strip and stated that "the men who died in the Caprivi had died for the highest ideal--the defence of their country".
An acceptance of the reality that the Bantustans will be little more than labour pools is made clear in the conditions set out by Lucas Mangope, the Chief Minister of Bophuthatswana, for independence, These "conditions" included a "fixed" agreement on the sale of labour which he said would be his homeland's "main export for the foreseeable future".
In the financial journals and in the city pages of newspapers a campaign has been launched in the name of all the Bantustan chiefs for private investment in the homelands. The campaign does not hide the fact that it advises profit-hungry investors to grab the opportunities of making super-profits from the "problem-free labour resources". South Africa's existing riches (all of which are outside the homelands) are capable of providing a decent life for everybody. But almost all the Bantustan administrations implicitly accept responsibility for those dumped in their areas. The minimal and distorted development in the reserves will no doubt give the Government further justification for their use as receiving depots for stand-by Black labour.
Relatively sharp confrontations have been publicised between the Bantustans and the Government on questions of boundaries and land-consolidation. The Transkei, for example, is laying a claim to a portion of Lesotho as well as a small number of areas and towns in 'white' South Africa. The Gazankulu claim includes portions of two other homelands, Venda and Lebowa. The Government has made clear that "there is no question of a division of land between White and Black in South Africa, not now and not in the future", and reiterated that no further land would be granted than had been agreed to by the 1936 legislation. At the same time, for land claims for Africans to be based on so-called "natural boundaries" for the Xhosas and Zulus, etc., amounts to an acceptance of the white man's invention that the Xhosas and Zulus have "natural areas" and have not the same rights to Johannesburg and Pretoria as they have to Richards Bay and Queenstown. Also, there can be nothing but pleasure in Vorster's ranks at the sight of the homelands already beginning to make claims on each other, and to argue about which ethnic group has a better claim to some of the crumbs.
Internationally, the white State not only stoops to using some of the points of friction between it and the Bantustan leaders to lend credibility to the Bantustans as "independent" entities, but in addition it is strengthened substantially by the approach of many of the Bantustan administrations on questions such as foreign investment, both in the Bantustans and in the rest of South Africa. South Africa's Minister of Finance claimed in the House of Assembly (April 17, 1972) that not only does South Africa need foreign investments for quicker growth "but also because of the contacts which such investments bring to South Africa." The recent advertising campaign in which Bantustan chiefs, amongst others, lent themselves to appeals for investment in South Africa, is an integral part of a concerted effort by South Africa to undermine the growing world lobby for its isolation. The justification that "I am forced to do something immediately for my starving, unemployed people" has no substance if what is being done is to help in the long run to rescue and entrench a system which survives and grows on the misery of the Black people, Whether designed or not, the external activities of some of the more respected leaders have had this effect.
Earlier this year, the Johannesburg Star (February 17, 1973) stated in connection with a visit by Chief Buthelezi to the United States: "The official custodians of President Nixon's policies on South Africa at the State Department could ask for no more. Chief Buthelezi is the most effective weapon they have yet found against their critics on the left who are trying to steer the United States in the wake of the United Nations on South African questions.
The United States Director of the South African Foundation, Mr. John Chettle, recently paid a visit to South Africa and stated: "At no time since I have been in the United States has South Africa's position in this country been more powerful. There is no doubt that the Chief's (Buthelezi) articulate defence of peaceful change in South Africa has been most influential in sabotaging the efforts of extremist American anti-apartheid groups."
It is of some importance to reflect on Chief Buthelezi's role because, of all the Bantustan leaders, he shows that opportunism, even if perhaps well-intentioned, plays into the hands of the enemy.
He has on more than one occasion condemned the basic policy of our liberation movement to prepare for armed struggle as an essential part of an all-round challenge to the racist State. Recently he criticised the World Council of Churches' decision to give aid to the guerrilla movements in Africa because it "has made things very difficult for the Church in my country" and also because he found it difficult "to embrace the Old Testament Law of an eye for an eye and at the same time embrace the Christian teachings of love and forgiveness". He went on to say that apart from his Christian beliefs, he could not "possibly support any line of action that can only result in my people being mowed down as cannon fodder."
A recent memorandum on the pass laws submitted by the KwaZulu leaders included the proposal for the setting up of an immigration department between KwaZulu and the rest of the country and a system of visitor's permits which would not give the holder the right to seek employment. Here, too, there is a concession to one of apartheid's most important platforms: that a Zulu's right to live and work outside KwaZulu is a privilege and not a right.
To deal with an outbreak of faction fighting in the Msinga area, KwaZulu asked for (and was enthusiastically granted) the extension of the notorious 90-day detention law to be applied to this area.
Addressing the last TUCSA Conference, Buthelezi stated that KwaZulu would "encourage the formation of Works Committees because trade union rights were not possible at present".
To Vorster's statement that the homelands would be able to get foreign aid "under proper conditions", Buthelezi said "it proves his bona fides - he is obviously genuine about wanting to see us get off the ground economically".
There is little reason to doubt that in the case of Buthelezi (as distinct from a few others) such approaches do not emerge because of an acceptance of white supremacy or a belief in the separation of the African people. He has often enough repeated in militant and strong language a loathing for apartheid and support for a united South Africa which belongs to all its people. But in practice his approach to some very vital questions is connected with an inability to see beyond the present correlation of forces; he lacks faith in the power of the African people properly mobilised and led. He sees social change as being brought about slowly by the manoeuvrings of elite groups using only the weapons the enemy provides, and not by activity which includes mass mobilisation, legal and illegal forms of struggle combined with the build-up of the armed potential of the people.
This is why KwaZulu makes proposals for the easing of pass laws incorporating acceptance "for the present" that a Zulu cannot seek employment in a "white" area as of right. This is why, instead of calling on the working class to reject the Works Committees and to struggle for trade union rights (at a time, by the way, when in the wake of the mighty workers' actions, the enemy is in a state of confusion on this question and is being forced to make gestures), KwaZulu encourages the formation of the Government Works Committees "because trade union rights are not possible at present." And this is why imperialist investors and white capital are urged to flood into the country and the homelands, without properly considering their long--term effect of strengthening white rule and the economic relationships which are at its foundation. It is a philosophy of despair; and it could not have been more crisply put than by Buthelezi himself when he said, in connection with the Works Committees, that "we are powerless and feel we should use what is available at present."
We have devoted some space to Buthelezi not because we overestimate the role of one individual, but because it helps to illustrate a number of fundamental points both for our movement as a whole and for the people.
Unity of the oppressed Black people is a fundamental pre-condition for liberation. There can be no compromise with a policy which serves to turn the clock back and divides the people once again along ethnic lines. Change in our country depends upon the mobilisation and action of our oppressed people with the Black working class as its most advanced instrument: it cannot be brought about by those who hold office at the pleasure of the white state. Their limited horizons lead them to confuse their own impotence with that of the people, and to spread despair, timidity and unprincipled compromise.
Our movement has never in principle refused to use "what is available at present" in order to fight for immediate improvements in the life of the people and as platforms to advance their long-term aims. But such activity must not be allowed to divert the people from the struggle for fundamental change. On the whole, especially in the context of the growing mood of militancy and resistance, the record of the Bantustans shows that to a greater or lesser degree each one of them is playing a harmful and diversionary role. They will continue to do so unless the people led by their movements take a hand - as they did in Namibia, where the Ovambos almost unanimously and contemptuously rejected the Bantustan proposals in the recent elections when only 1.6 per cent of the total electorate voted.
What, then, in practice, should our approach be to the Bantustans and to some of the other unrepresentative institutions?
1. We must reject totally the ideology which sees the Bantustans as enclaves of independence from which further advances can be made.
2. We must without fear or favour expose those actions of the Bantustan leaders which, wittingly or unwittingly, help the enemy, and we must stimulate mass opposition to such policies and to those who put then forward. At the same time, we must remember that the main perpetrator of this latest version of oppression is the white regime and not the Bantustan Chiefs. The emphasis of our attack must, therefore, be against the regime.
3. The people must be mobilised to completely reject the Bantustan solution. There are those who say that in all cases the answer is a complete boycott of elections. Boycott and "absolute non-collaboration" obviously has its place in the case of unrepresentative institutions such as the Bantustans, and the Namibian events have shown a magnificent application of this tactic. Its successful implementation depends, however, on the level of understanding and organisation which exists at the particular time in the particular area, not just amongst the militants but, more importantly, amongst the people as a whole. The fight to destroy the Bantustans calls for the use of flexible tactics.
4. Where the specific situation requires the participation of militants in Bantustan elections, it must be on the basis of a complete rejection of the institution and, with the support of the people, to use the platform and office to destroy the Bantustans. The defeatist approach that "we are forced to bow to unilateral decrees" is a cry of despair of those who negate the role of the people.
5. We consider that it is necessary to undertake legal activity and, in appropriate conditions, to use every platform, even those provided by the enemy, if we can thereby advance the struggle. For obvious reasons it is not always wise for participants in legal activity to use their public voice to align themselves openly with the underground or its policy of preparing for physical resistance. Whilst, therefore, silence on these questions may be justified, open rejection and condemnation of the policy of the revolutionary movement is not.
6. The Bantustan leaders understandably lack a revolutionary ideology and at a certain level have become prisoners of the limited framework in which they exist. Many of them are, however, susceptible to their people's mood and pressures and could be influenced by them to resist Government attempts at complete manipulation. Already some of them are beginning to feel the almost complete impotence of their position and are sensing the hostility of their people. The Chief Executive of Gazankulu, Professor Hudson Ntswansisi, recently declared: "On the one hand, we are not taken seriously by the Government, and so, on the other, we are rejected by our own people because we are ineffective." Militants must, therefore, make use of the limited confrontations between the Bantustan leaders and the Government to inject into the debate the real answers and to mobilise people's action in support of them.
7. The Coloured Persons' Representative Council and the South African Indian Council are instruments specifically created for the effective implementation of apartheid in the control and management of the affairs of the Coloured and Indian communities. These dummy institutions, not unlike the Bantustans, are designed to give the semblance of gradual devolution of power into the hands of the people concerned, so that each community is given only the hope but not the substance of being directly involved in the direction of public affairs. The purpose of the Government in setting up these sham institutions is to ensure the cooperation of the Coloured and Indian members who serve on these bodies in the enforcement of the policy of separate development, and to put a stop to the growing unity of the Black people in their struggle against the apartheid system which deprives them of their dignity and rights as citizens.
It is the clear duty of the Coloured and Indian people to reject and destroy these fraudulent institutions. The Coloured Labour Party made correct use of the elections for the Coloured Persons' Representative Council by rallying the Coloured voters on the platform of total rejection of apartheid and for full and equal rights for all South Africans. It has recently called for the abolition of the CRC during the last session.
With regard to the Indian community, the Government is wooing it to accept the South African Indian Council which at the moment consists of 25 members, all appointed by the Government. There is now a move to enlarge it to 30 members, 15 of whom will be elected through a system of electoral colleges with a voters' list of 600 out of a total population of 650,000. It is clear that this, the most unrepresentative of all the sham institutions, does not provide any opportunity for the people to use the elections to express their opposition to apartheid. The only way they can do this is by the outright rejection of the South African Indian Council by non-participation and non-collaboration. The recent declaration of the Natal Indian Congress that its members are free to join the South African Indian Council is in conflict with its avowed policy of total rejection of the Council, and can only help to nullify the purpose for which the Congress was revived as a fighting body in the struggle of the Black people against apartheid oppression and for freedom.
Revolutionary Nationalism and Black Consciousness
The main aim of the present stage of our struggle is the winning of majority rule over the whole of South Africa. This means nothing less than the total liberation of the African people and with them the other oppressed national groups.
Our Party is a Marxist-Leninist party which uphold the principles of the unity of the working class throughout the world, without regard to race or colour. We reject the narrow ideology of bourgeois nationalism which divides the workers and can lead to harmful concepts of chauvinism and racialism.
There is no conflict between this, our outlook, and our unqualified support for the progressive elements present in the nationalism of an oppressed people struggling for its national freedom. We have consistently upheld the efforts of the ANC to build up and assert the rights of the African nation in our country; we have worked hard and long to achieve the fighting unity of the African, Coloured and Indian people against white domination.
From this point of view we warmly welcome the assertion of national identity, pride and confidence implicit in the overall concept of "Black Consciousness". It is a fully justified and healthy response to the insulting arrogance of the white supremacists. The current spread of Black Consciousness is a contribution to the "psychological liberation" of the African people. It is essentially a part of the prolonged struggle which was proclaimed by the African National Congress in 1912, and which has always received the fullest support of our Party.
To see the struggle in these terms is not to endorse the false formulation by Ranwedzi Nengwekulu, a student protagonist of Black Consciousness, that the struggle in South Africa is "not a political but a racial one."
It must be recognised that the term in itself does not express a coherent programme, still less an ideology. Within the ranks of those who express this slogan, in addition to determined and honest patriots there may be found those who would seek to achieve merely the advancement of privileged strata while leaving the masses where they were before: to displace the Black working class from the leading role which it has rightly assumed in generations of bitter struggle; or to submerge the emerging African nation with its own languages, culture and traditions, into an amorphous movement whose identity is based merely on skin colour.
We must especially be on our guard against those inside and outside our movement who jump on to the bandwagon of Black Consciousness for their own ulterior purposes, whether it be for their business advancement or as a cover for political careerism. We must reject the attempts by those who would use the emotional sounding content of Black Consciousness in order to isolate the different Black communities from one another and as a means of dividing the national liberation movement. And the ideology of Black Consciousness must not become the basis for the introduction of a crude form of anti-whitism which diverts the attack from the main target -
the white State - and concentrates its energies and passions against white groups like NUSAS , some of which can at the very least be neutralised in the struggle against extreme reaction.
The Black People's Convention, which claims its inspiration from the Black Consciousness ideology, no doubt has attracted some genuinely patriotic elements. But it also contains elements particularly at the top level, who for example, when they had the choice between organisations like the ANC and the white Liberal Party, chose the latter and were amongst the white liberals' most committed supporters. Apart from its adherence to the vague formulations about Black Consciousness, the Black People's Convention has not yet made clear on what programme of action it hopes to gain the support of the people, nor how it sees its role in relation to the existing national liberation front.
The Black Workers' Alliance or the Black Allied Workers' Union, an offshoot of the Black People's Convention, projects itself as a substitute for the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) which, in the trade union field, bore the brunt of the post-sixties repressions, and which has in the recent period made special efforts to regroup itself.
In its short history, the Black Workers' Alliance has already shown two faces. On the one hand, it emphasises the truism (which SACTU has always stood for) that Black trade union organisation must assert itself as an independent force in the context of a situation in which the official trade union movement is dominated and controlled by the white workers who, at the moment, constitute one of the mainstays of reaction. On the other hand, unlike SACTU, its militant-sounding appeals to Black Consciousness are combined with a reformist approach to the role of Black trade unions. Soon after its formation, it declared in a statement that it intends to win the respect of the employers and the Government by increasing Black workers` productivity; and it attempted to set at rest Government fears by stating that it would not wish to "hold the economy of the country to ransom by organising illegal strikes, and making unreasonable demands for political reasons". The same approach emerged from a recent appeal for financial help made by D. Koka, the leader of the Black Allied Workers' Union and previously associated with the white Liberal Party, to a West German organisation. In the appeal, Koka stated that Ford Motor Company was already helping his organisation with donations of transport, and went on to repeat the claim that his organisation "is still quite healthy - even from the Government point of view" which tolerates the organisation because "we do our own thing - and do not confront the Government."
Every African trade union comes into conflict with the white State and its laws at every stage of its work. No true trade union movement amongst the oppressed can, therefore, isolate itself from the struggle for political rights without betraying the interests of its members.
Paying lip service to Black nationalism is not the same as advancing the true national cause and can, in some cases, become a camouflage for harmful approaches in the actual struggle. No doubt many who have stated their adherence to Black Consciousness whether in the student movement or in these two new organisations, do so as a counter to the Government-inspired efforts to divide the Black people, as an honest reaction to the diluting influence of white liberal "do-gooders". and also as part of a search for additional organisational forms to advance the cause of the oppressed people. Such elements can and must be won over to the common programme of the liberation alliance. But at the same time where these organisations act against the policies and programmes of our liberation alliance, or project themselves as alternatives to bodies like the SACTU, they must be opposed and, if possible, diverted from such a path.
It is now ten years since Rivonia when the regime succeeded in inflicting heavy blows against our liberation front. The weakening of the people's organisations understandably resulted in a period during which the initiative appeared to be with the enemy.
The consistent political activity of our movement in the years since Rivonia has played an important role in helping to create these more favourable conditions of struggle. Our refusal to lie down in the face of the post-60s repression has helped to inspire the spirit of growing resistance, which inevitably expresses itself in both spontaneous and planned acts of resistance and organisational initiatives, not all of which are linked directly with existing organisation. It was our national liberation front, headed by the ANC, which was the first to demonstrate its defiance of the enemy's repressive apparatus by engaging it in open battle, and by continuously spreading the message of resistance at a time when the mass resistance movement was at a low ebb.
The recent upsurge of mass activity and the initiatives which have been taken to re-establish organised platforms of opposition to white rule, open up new possibilities of raising the struggle to a higher level, at a time when the contradictions and stresses of the apartheid system are growing.
The struggle ahead will still be a protracted and a difficult one. Despite its growing difficulties the enemy is still very much in the saddle. To succeed in our task of dislodging it calls for the utmost effort and even more effective planning by the whole movement.
We remain more than ever convinced that the white minority will not surrender its control of the State without a violent struggle. In the forefront of our tasks, therefore, stands the urgent need to create conditions in which organised physical resistance will begin to play a bigger and bigger part. But this task requires more than just exhortation and more than just technical preparation and the activities of professional armed cadres. It calls for the simultaneous intensification of mass struggles in the course of which the people will feel their strength and gain more and more confidence in their capacity to meet and challenge the enemy on his own ground. In a general way, it is correct to say that our people have never and will never resign themselves to the violent subjugation which has been their lot. They will unquestionably be prepared to accept the sacrifices involved in a strategy which includes a revolutionary armed struggle. But this mood will only take root on a mass scale when the people become convinced from their own experience, and from the organised activity of the armed wing of our movement, that it is not only necessary but possible to defeat the enemy by a strategy which includes armed activity.
In this connection it is becoming more and more urgent for advanced cadres and groups to undertake organised actions which will demonstrate a capacity to answer the enemy in kind; actions which must be related to the issues most affecting the people, so that they increasingly experience the connection between their day-to-day mass struggles and the possibility of transforming it increasingly into mass resistance and ultimately into a nation-wide armed challenge.
Developments during 1973 clothe with greater urgency the need to implement more fully the tasks which were set out by our Central Committee in the report adopted by its last Plenary Session. This report provided guidelines for action to the different strata of our people which still remain valid.
Now more than at any other time, it is ripe for the workers to press ahead with the creation of nation-wide trade unions free of white patronage, to reject the Government-created Works Committees, to create their own factory committees free of employer and Government domination, and to use their collective strength to gain full trade union rights and better conditions. Of prime importance is the struggle for the right to strike which the workers must act on in defiance of the strangulating "no-strike" provisions of the new labour law. SACTU, as the most progressive, experienced and genuinely working class trade union centre, must be strengthened and must place itself at the head of the struggle in the factories for better conditions and trade union organisation. A renewed organisational drive is needed to organise the millions of Black workers on the white farms.
The SACTU has always upheld the unity of all workers, irrespective of race or colour. Its aim is to have all workers in an industry in one union. However, as is well known, industrial legislation in South Africa prohibits integrated trade unions. The choice for the African worker is either independent trade unions or none at all. An attempt is being made by the TUCSA to establish African unions under the tutelage of white unions. The workers must be put on their guard against these attempts to control and emasculate African trade unions. Already Black workers (mainly Indian and Coloured) make up 54 per cent of TUCSA's membership but full control remains in the hands of the politically privileged white trade unionists. Theoretically, the Coloured and Indian workers have had the same rights as whites under South Africa's industrial legislation since 1924. But where their trade unions have been attached to white trade unions or co-ordinating bodies, they have always remained in a subordinate position. The campaign must be intensified to organise the masses of African workers into unions free of control by the Government, the employers or the white trade union establishment.
The successful workers' actions of the last year and the failure of some of the Government's previous labour policies have injected an element of confusion and division between the Government, certain sections of industry and the white working class. This division (although not fundamental), and even some of the limited concessions which the Government and the employers have been forced to make, provide a further basis for a breakthrough by the African workers on a broad front, relying on their own strength.
In the countryside, mass population shifting must be resisted and the enemy must be more and more prevented from implementing its resettlement and Bantustan policies. Majority rule over the whole of South Africa must be the uncompromising demand both in the towns and in the homelands.
The working and student youth must be further mobilised and organised in their restless urge for the complete liberation of the Black people; and the trend for closer collaboration between the youth and the workers and those on the land should be strengthened. The youth have a special role to play in helping to elaborate and to spread the policies and programmes of the liberation front.
The key to the successful advance in the struggle, and to the exploitation of the more favourable conditions which are developing, is in the hands of the liberation alliance headed by the African National Congress. The strengthening of its underground machinery at leadership and other levels remains a priority, as does the establishment of the effective clandestine links between the underground and all organised centres of opposition in town and country. It is necessary for the underground to sharpen its propaganda weapons and to ensure that the message and guideline of the liberation alliance reaches all sections of our people with increasing frequency. People at all levels should be encouraged to take their own initiatives to create clandestine groups, under proper conspiratorial conditions which will ensure their survival.
We must rebuff tendencies towards anti-Communism which make their appearance from time to time. The whole experience of South Africa has shown the destructive effect of such ideas, sedulously spread by the oppressors, within the ranks of the workers and the liberation movements. They wrecked the ICU in the twenties and gravely undermined the ANC in the early thirties.
Not only South African but also world history has shown that Marxism-Leninism is the only correct revolutionary theory for countries in all stages of historical development. Our Party as the party of the most advanced class, and the propagandist of Marxism, has proved its indispensable role, both as an independent organisation and as an integral part of the national liberation movement.
Our Party has done much under difficult conditions to defend its principles and maintain its organisation. Our considerable activities in the propaganda field include the regular publication of our illegal journal Inkululeko-Freedom and the regular distribution of an illegal edition of the African Communist, as well as a variety of Marxist classics suitably prepared for underground conditions and in some instances translated into African languages. An illegal edition of the history of our Party, Fifty Fighting Years has also reached the people in every part of our country. We salute in particular our comrades operating in the underground in South Africa who are making an immeasurable contribution to the struggle.
During the period ahead we must redouble our efforts to strengthen our units, to extend our educational and propaganda work and to build the strength and influence of our South African Communist Party. Together with the national liberation front as a whole, let us move forward to intensified mass resistance and the stepping-up of preparation for armed struggle.