- Analysis of the Freedom Charter as adopted at Morogoro, 1969
- The Freedom Charter in 2001
- Celebrating the implementation of the Freedom Charter - Jeff Radebe
- The bricks and mortar of a better life for all
- The people shall share in the country's wealth - Alec Erwin
- The doors of learning and culture shall be opened - Kader Asmal
- The key to building a winning nation
- A deeply spiritual document - Cedric Mayson
- Charterists: Youth identity in the 80s - Sandile Dikeni
- I was there at the Congress of the People
The Revolutionary Alliance
- Consolidate the revolutionary movement for faster change
- Common objectives of the Tripartite Alliance
- Trade unions in a democratic society - Gwede Mantashe
- Social emancipation and national liberation - Ngoako Ramatlhodi
- Through the eye of the needle - choosing the best cadres to lead transformation
Women's movement series: Part 2
- A movement for the transformation of gender relations - Thenjiwe Mtintso
- Transforming the State and Governance
- Good governance needs an effective Parliament - Firoz Cachalia
- Vietnam Congress - Mandla Nkomfe and Smiso Nkwanyana
- Zimbabwe and South Africa: Anatomy of a crisis revisited - Moeletsi Mbeki
- Much ado about Zimbabwe - Z. Pallo Jordan
The vision of the Freedom Charter for decades guided struggles against apartheid colonialism and forms the basis of our programme to transform South Africa into a non-racial, non-sexist, united democracy.
The main clauses of the Charter inspired and guided struggles at all levels and among all sectors - youth, students, the landless, workers, the homeless, unemployed, cultural workers and intellectuals. The consultative approach followed in the collection of the demands informed our people-driven and people-centred approach to change.
Forty-six years later, this vision of the Freedom Charter remains the common programme of the Tripartite Alliance. The Charter recognizes the symbiotic link between national oppression and South African capitalism. In its vision and programme for a national democracy, it therefore recognizes the centrality of the deracialisation of society, including the economy, land ownership, settlement patterns, the fundamental task of uplifting the conditions of the poor and providing opportunities for blacks and women in economic, social, educational, cultural and other spheres.
How we go about implementing this vision, is a matter which the Alliance is consistently seized with in our individual and joint programmes. The terrain in which we implement this vision has become much more complex. The Alliance since 1994 continues to grapple with the transformation challenges set out in the Freedom Charter: how do we ensure that people share in the country's wealth and the land or have houses security, work and comfort or how do we open the doors of learning and cultureto all?
The Alliance will meet in one of its annual summits in August this year, and will review progress and discuss the concrete issues of speeding up change to meet the vision of the Charter. These issues include accelerto ensure ating programmes against poverty, hunger and unemployment, health for all, meeting basic needs, redistribution and growth, developing human resources, safety and security and transforming the state as set out in the Reconstruction and Development Programme.
The discussion papers in this edition of Umrabulo are part of the preparations and debates towards this summit. Indeed, these are the issues that as a society we must pledge to ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes set out in the Freedom Charter have been won.
How do members take charge?
The countrywide realignment of ANC branches, which started at the beginning of this year, will see another stage of revolutionizing the ANC. The objective is to reinforce and strengthen the branches of the ANC as the primary units of the movement, through which members determine policies and programmes of the ANC.
The more than 3000 new ward-based branches are being build to become vanguards for change of their communities, driving local community development, the integration of communities and quality local democracy and participation. The new ward-based branches will ensure accountability of councilors and information flow between councils and communities. They must become stronger vehicles for community and sectoral mobilization, mass communication and the involvement of ANC members in the process of transformation at all levels.
For this to be effected, it will require the rejuvenation of political and social activism among ANC and Alliance members, in the spirit of service to the people and developing New Cadres. It will require building an organisational culture that suits the new conditions, on the firm foundations of our traditions and values that have preserved the ANC for nearly ninety years. Among these is the approach to electing leadership, which is discussed in the paper 'Through the eye of a needle' - how do we elect the best cadres that will lead the process of transformation. These are among the tasks that will enable us to implement the vision of the Freedom Charter.
Umrabulo Editorial Collective
Revolutionary programme of the African National Congress
An analysis of the Freedom Charter as adopted at the National
Conference, Morogoro, 1969
For over two hundred and fifty years the African people fought wars of
resistance against the European invaders in defence of their motherland -South
Africa. Despite their heroism, courage and tenacity our people were defeated on
the battlefield by the superior arms and organisation of the Europeans.
Although the conflicts and problems of South Africa have largely centred on
the relationships between the Africans and Europeans, they are not the only
peoples who form the South African population. The Coloured and Indian people
are, like the Africans, oppressed by the dominant European minority. The South
Africa of today is the product of the common labour of all its peoples. The
cities, industries, mines and agriculture of the country are the result of the
efforts of all its peoples. But the wealth is utilised by and for the interests
of the white minority only.
The African National Congress was formed in 1912 to unite the Africans as a
nation and to forge an instrument for their liberation. From the outset the
African National Congress asserted the right of the African people as the
indigenous owners of the country, entitled to determine its direction and
destiny. Simultaneously our forefathers recognised that the other groups in the
country - the Europeans, Indians and Coloureds - were historically part and
parcel of South Africa.
The ANC rejected the claims of the European settlers to domination, and
fought against all attempts to subjugate them in the land of their birth. But in
the face of the gravest injustices the ANC never once abandoned the principle
that all those who had their home in the country of the Africans, were welcome,
provided only that they accepted full and consistent equality and freedom for
all. In this the ANC was not merely bowing to history and reality but believed
that it was correct in principle to make this position clear. Over and over
again in the face of manifest inhumanity the ANC absolutely refused to be
provoked into abandoning its democratic principles. The ruling white minority
rejected the concepts of the ANC and to that extent the movement and the people
fought and will fight them.
Congress of the People
In the early fifties when the struggle for freedom was reaching new intensity
the need was seen for a clear statement of the future South Africa as the ANC
saw it. Thus was born the Congress of the People campaign. In this campaign the
African National Congress and its allies invited the whole of South Africa to
record their demands which would be incorporated in a common document called the
Freedom Charter. Literally millions of people participated in the campaign and
sent in their demands of the kind of South Africa they wished to live in. These
demands found final expression in the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter was
adopted at the Congress of the People representative of all the people of South
Africa which met at Kliptown, Johannesburg on June 25 and 26, 1955. The three
thousand delegates who gathered at Kliptown were workers, peasants,
intellectuals, women, youth and students of all races and colours. The Congress
was the climax of the campaign waged by the African National Congress, the South
African Indian Congress, the Coloured People's Organisation, the South African
Congress of Trade Unions and the Congress of Democrats. Subsequently all these
organisations adopted the Freedom Charter in their national conferences as their
official programme. Thus the Freedom Charter became the common programme
enshrining the hopes and aspirations of all the progressive people of South
From the moment the idea of the Congress of the People and the Freedom
Charter was mentioned the white Government of South Africa termed it "High
Treason". After the Congress of the People was held and the Charter
adopted, fresh threats were uttered by the government. Eventually 156 leaders of
the liberation movement were arrested on December 5, 1956, and charged with
plotting to overthrow the State and to replace it by a new one along the lines
laid down in the Charter. This long trial, which lasted four-and-a-half years,
resulted in the acquittal of all the accused. By that time the Freedom Charter
had become one of the most famous documents in the history of man's struggle for
The Charter was not the statement of this or that section of the population.
It was a declaration of all the people of South Africa. It was a simple, honest,
unpretentious document reflecting the desires and ideas of millions of common
people. Therein lay the power of its revolutionary message. And always it should
be borne in mind that both in its wording and intent the Charter projected the
view not of present-day South Africa but that of the country as it should and
will be after the victory of the revolution. Today the African National Congress
and its allies are engaged in an armed struggle for the overthrow of the racist
regime. In its place the ANC will establish a democratic State along the lines
indicated in the Freedom Charter. Although the Charter was adopted 14 years ago
its words remain as fresh and relevant as ever. Some who have forgotten its
actual terms or the kind of document it is, or, who detach this or that phrase
from the document taken as a whole, imagine that the conditions of armed
struggle somehow invalidate some provisions of the Charter. What we believe is
that the Charter may require elaboration of its revolutionary message. But what
is even more meaningful, it requires to be achieved and put into practice. This
cannot be done until State power has been seized from the fascist South African
government and transferred to the revolutionary forces led by the ANC.
The Preamble of the Freedom Charter
The first lines of the Charter declare that South Africa belongs to all who
live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority
unless it is based on the will of the people.
The expression "South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and
white" embodies the historical principle which has characterised the policy
of the African National Congress towards the peoples who have settled in the
country in the past centuries. The African people as the indigenous owners of
the country have accepted that all the people who have made South Africa and
helped build it up, are components of its multinational population, are and will
be in a democratic South Africa, one people inhabiting their common home. No
government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will, not just
of the whites, but of all the people of the country. The Freedom Charter thus
begins by an assertion of what is and has been a cardinal democratic principle
that all can live in South Africa whatever their origin, in equality and
democracy. That the South Africa of the future will not be a country divided
unto itself and dominated by a particular racial group. It will be the country
of all its inhabitants. It is the white people who in the past as now have
rejected this principle, leaving the people no alternative but to convince them
by the truth of revolutionary struggle. The preamble ends by calling on the
people, black and white, as equals, countrymen and brothers to pledge to strive
together sparing neither strength nor courage until the democratic changes set
out in the Freedom Charter had been won.
The preamble, couched in terms similar to many famous documents reflecting
man's aspiration for freedom, called for a new State resting on the will of the
people - a repudiation of the existing State and a call for revolution.
Hereunder we examine, briefly, each section of our Charter.
The People Shall Govern!
The Republican constitution of South Africa passed in 1961 is a monument to
racialism and despotism. In terms of this constitution supreme legislative
authority is vested in the white fascist State President, the House of Assembly
and the Senate. Only a white person can be elected State President.
The House of Assembly and the Senate consist exclusively of white
representatives elected by an exclusively white electorate. Therefore the power
to make laws in our country is a monopoly of the white minority. The same
applies to other organs of government such as the four provincial councils of
Natal, Cape, Orange Free State and Transvaal which are headed by a white
Administrator assisted by an all-white Executive Council. Organs of local
government such as District Councils, Municipal Councils, and boroughs are
manned entirely by white people. Such organs of local government as there are
for non-whites consist of the Transkei Legislative Council and an executive; the
Indian Council; the Coloured Council; urban Bantu authorities, Territorial
Authorities and other such bodies. These are all undemocratic institutions with
little or no power and serving merely as a sounding board for the white minority
The administration in South Africa is similarly manned at all significant
levels by white persons. A successful armed revolution will put an end to this
state of affairs.
The Parliament of South Africa will be wholly transformed into an Assembly of
the People. Every man and woman in our country shall have the right to vote for
and stand as a candidate for all offices and bodies which make laws.
The present administration will be smashed and broken up. In its place will
be created an administration in which all people irrespective of race, colour or
sex can take part.
The bodies of minority rule shall be abolished and in their place will be
established democratic organs of self-government in all the Provinces, districts
and towns of the country.
All National Groups Shall Have Equal Rights!
In South Africa not only does the system at present enforce discrimination
against individuals by reason of their colour or race but in addition some
national groups are privileged, as such, over others. At the moment the
Afrikaner national group is lording it over the rest of the population with the
English group playing second-fiddle to them. For all the non-white groups - the
Africans, Indians and the Coloureds the situation is one of humiliation and
oppression. As far as languages are concerned only Afrikaans and English have
official status in the bodies of State such as Parliament or Provincial
Councils, and in the courts, schools and the administration. The culture of the
African, Indian and Coloured people is barely tolerated. In fact everything is
done to smash and obliterate the genuine cultural heritage of our people. If
there is reference to culture by the oppressors it is for the purpose of using
it as an instrument to maintain our people in backwardness and ignorance.
Day in and day out white politicians and publicists are regaling the world
with their theories of national, colour and racial discrimination and contempt
for our people. Enshrined in the laws of South Africa are a host of insulting
provisions directed at the dignity and humanity of the oppressed people.
A democratic government of the people shall ensure that all national groups
have equal rights, as such, to achieve their destiny in a united South Africa.
There shall be equal status in the bodies of State, in the courts and in the
schools for the African, Indian, Coloured and whites as far as their national
rights are concerned. All people shall have equal right to use their own
languages, and to develop their own folk culture and customs; all national
groups shall be protected by laws against insults to their race or national
pride; the preaching and practice of national, racial or colour discrimination
and contempt shall be a punishable crime; and all laws and practices based on
apartheid or racial discrimination shall be set aside.
The People Shall Share in the Country's Wealth!
Today most of the wealth of South Africa is flowing into the coffers of a few
in the country and others in foreign lands. In addition the white minority as a
group have over the years enjoyed a complete monopoly of economic rights,
privileges and opportunities.
An ANC government shall restore the wealth of our country, the heritage of
all South Africans to the people as a whole. The mineral wealth beneath the
soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of
the people as a whole.
At the moment there are vast monopolies whose existence affects the
livelihood of large numbers of our people and whose ownership is in the hands of
Europeans only. It is necessary for monopolies which vitally affect the social
well-being of our people such as the mines, the sugar and wine industry to be
transferred to public ownership so that they can be used to uplift the life of
all the people. All other industry and trade which is not monopolistic shall be
allowed with controls to assist the well-being of the people.
All restriction on the right of the people to trade, to manufacture and to
enter all trades, crafts and professions shall be ended.
The Land Shall be Shared Among Those Who Work It!
The indigenous people of South Africa after a series of resistance wars
lasting hundreds of years were deprived of their land. Today in our country all
the land is controlled and used as a monopoly by the white minority. It is often
said that 87 percent of the land is "owned" by the whites and 13
percent by the Africans. In fact the land occupied by Africans and referred to
as "Reserves" is State land from which they can be removed at any time
but which for the time being the fascist government allows them to live on. The
Africans have always maintained their right to the country and the land as a
traditional birthright of which they have been robbed. The ANC slogan
"Mayibuye i-Afrika" was and is precisely a demand for the return of
the land of Africa to its indigenous inhabitants. At the same time the
liberation movement recognises that other oppressed people deprived of land live
in South Africa. The white people who now monopolise the land have made South
Africa their home and are historically part of the South African population and
as such entitled to land. This made it perfectly correct to demand that the land
be shared among those who work it. But who work the land? Who are the tillers?
The bulk of the land in our country is in the hands of land barons, absentee
landlords, big companies and State capitalist enterprises. The land must be
taken away from exclusively European control and from these groupings and
divided among the small farmers, peasants and landless of all races who do not
exploit the labour of others. Farmers will be prevented from holding land in
excess of a given area, fixed in accordance with the concrete situation in each
locality. Lands held in communal ownership shall be increased so that they can
afford a decent livelihood to the people and their ownership shall be
guaranteed. Land obtained from land barons and the monopolies shall be
distributed to the landless and land-poor. State land shall be used for the
benefit of all the people. Restrictions of land ownership on a racial basis
shall be ended and all lands shall be open to ownership and use to all people,
irrespective of race.
The State shall help farmers with implements, seeds tractors and dams to save
soil and assist the tillers. Freedom of movement shall be guaranteed to all who
work on the land. Instruments of control such as the 'Trek Pass', private gaols
on farms and force labour shall be abolished. The policy of robbing people of
their cattle in order to force them to seek work in order to pay taxes shall be
All shall be Equal before the Law!
In terms of such laws as the notorious Suppression of Communism Act; the
Native Administrative Act; the Riotous Assemblies Act; the Terrorism and
Sabotage Act and many other laws, our people suffer imprisonment, deportation
and restriction without fair trials. These laws shall be abolished. No one shall
suffer imprisonment, deportation or restriction without fair trial.
In our country petty government officials are invested with vast powers at
their discretion to condemn people. These powers shall be ended.
The courts of South Africa are manned by white officials, magistrates,
judges. As a result the courts serve as instruments of oppression. The
democratic state shall create courts representative of all the people. South
Africa has the highest proportion of prisoners of any state in the world. This
is because there are so many petty infringements to which a penalty of
imprisonment is attached. In a new South Africa, imprisonment shall only be for
serious crimes against the people, and shall aim at re-education, not vengeance.
It has been a standing policy of White governments in South Africa to prevent
Africans and non-whites from holding responsible positions in the police force.
The present police force and army are instruments of coercion to protect White
supremacy. Their whole aim is punitive and terroristic against the majority of
the population. It is the major aim of the armed revolution to destroy the
police force, army and other instruments of coercion of the present state. In a
democratic South Africa, the army and police shall be open to people of all
races. Already Umkhonto we Sizwe - the nucleus of our future people's army - is
an armed force working in the interests of the people drawn from the land for
their liberation. It consists of people drawn from all population groups in
All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights!
South Africa has numerous laws which limits or infringe the human rights of
the people. One need only mention the notorious Suppression of Communism Act;
proclamation 400 which imposes a state of emergency in the Transkei;
Proclamation of 1953 which bans meetings of more than ten Africans in scheduled
areas; the Native Laws Amendment Act which introduces racial discrimination in
churches and places of worship; the Bantu Education Act which makes education
without a government permit an offence - surely an offense unique in the world -
to educate without a permit!
All the above Acts and regulations will be swept away by a people's
government. The law shall guarantee to all their right to speak, organise, to
meet together, to publish, to preach, to worship and to educate their children.
The Pass laws of South Africa result in the arrest of an average of 1000
persons a day. These laws control and prohibit movement of our people in the
country. There are also laws which restrict movement from one province to
another. As part of their checking of the people numerous police raids are
organised during which homes are broken into at any time of the day or night.
Many laws give the police powers to enter people's homes without warrant and for
no apparent reason, except to terrorise them.
All this shall be abolished. The privacy of the home from police raids shall
be protected by law. All shall be free to travel without restrictions from
countryside to town, from province to province and from South Africa abroad.
Pass laws, permits and other laws restricting these freedoms shall be abolished.
There shall be Work and Security!
As with everything else, the rights of collective bargaining of workers in
South Africa have been twisted and warped by racial ideas and practices.
Africans do not have the right to form registered trade unions and are
prohibited from going on strike. Other workers are forced to belong to racially
divided unions. The government has the power to determine what jobs shall be
reserved for what racial groups. People of different races are paid differential
wage rates for the same work. Migratory labour is a chief feature of the South
African economy and leads to massive social upheaval and distress, particularly
In the Democratic State the ANC is determined to achieve, all who work shall
be free to form trade unions, to elect their officers and to make wage
agreements with their employers. The State shall recognize the right and duty of
all to work and to draw full unemployment benefits. Men and women of all races
shall receive equal pay for equal work. There shall be a forty hour working
week, a national minimum wage, paid annual leave, and sick leave for all workers
and maternity leave on full pay for all working mothers. Miners, domestic
workers, farm workers and civil servants shall have the same rights as all
others who work, to form trade unions and join political organizations. The use
of child labour, the housing of male workers in single men's compounds, the
system whereby workers on wine farms are paid tots of wine as part payment on
their wages, contract labour - all these pernicious practices shall be abolished
by a victorious revolutionary government.
The Doors of Learning and Culture shall be Opened
One of the biggest crimes of the system of White supremacy is the damage it
has done to the development of the people of South African in the fields of
learning and culture. On the one hand, the minds of White people have been
poisoned with all manner of unscientific and racist twaddle in their separate
schools, colleges and universities. There has been made available to them all
the worst forms of so-called Western culture. The best creations of art,
writing, the theatre and cinema which extol the unit of the human family and the
need for liberty are only made available in dribs and drabs, whilst the general
position is one of a cultural desert.
As far as the non-White people are concerned the picture is one of
deprivation all along the line. One has to think hard to discover whether or not
there is even a single theatre, drama school, ballet school, college of music to
which non-Whites are admitted in South Africa. In Cape Town there is some
ridiculously slight opening for Coloured people. Otherwise eighty percent of the
people of South Africa are by and large confined to patronizing the few cinemas
whose fare is the most inferior type of American cinema art. A vigilant
censorship system exist to ensure that these racially separate cinemas do not
show non-Whites anything that is considered bad for them by the authorities. It
is not only that non-Whites are virtually debarred from the cultural production
of mankind, but in addition everything has been done to prevent them developing
their own national cultures.
Publishing is strictly controlled. Apart from the most banal form of music,
the people are not encouraged or allowed to produce such music as enhances their
spirit. The languages of the people are not permitted to be developed by them in
their own way. Ignorant and officious White professors sit on education
committees as arbiters of African languages and books without consultation with
the people concerned. The grotesque spectacle is seen of the White government of
South Africa posing as a 'protector' of so-called Bantu culture and traditions
of which they know nothing. The arrogance of the fascists knows no bounds! They
apparently love African culture more than Africans themselves!
The truth is that they wish to preserve those aspects of the African
tradition which contain divisive tendencies likely to prevent the consolidation
of the African people as a nation. The forces represented in the present state,
after combating education of non-Whites over one hundred years, suddenly decided
to take over all education as a state responsibility. The result was the
introduction of a racially motivated ideological education; a lowering of
standards; the emergence of tribal colleges; and the intensification of racial
separation in university education. Science and technology are hardly taught to
non-Whites. The training of doctors and other medical personnel is derisory.
The Democratic State shall discover, develop and encourage national talent
for the enhancement of our cultural life; all cultural treasurers of mankind
shall be open to all by free exchange of books, ideas and contacts with other
lands. The aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and
their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace. Education shall
be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children. Higher education and
technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and
scholarships awarded on the basis of merit. Teachers shall have the rights of
other citizens to organise themselves and participate in political life. The
colour bar in cultural life, sport and education shall be abolished.
There shall be Houses, Security and Comfort!
Migratory labour and its concomitant of separation of families, social
problems and distress is one of the tragedies of South Africa. Residential
segregation is the order of the day throughout South Africa, with massive
shortage of and bad housing for non-Whites, and huge homes and flats most of
which are either empty or not fully used, for the White minority.
The infant mortality rate in our country is amongst the highest in the world,
and the life expectancy of Africans amongst the lowest. Medical services are
haphazard and costly.
The Democratic state established after the victory of the revolution shall
ensure the right of people to live where they choose, to be decently housed, and
to bring up their family in comfort and security. The vast unused housing space
in such areas as the flatlands of Hillbrow and Johannesburg shall be made
available to the people. Rent and prices shall be lowered, and adequate amounts
of food shall be made available to the people.
A preventative health scheme shall be run by the state. Free medical care and
hospitalisation shall be provided for all, with medical care for mothers and
Slums, which have to some extent been demolished in the nine major centres of
the country, shall be eliminated in the middle of towns and rural areas where
the majority of the people live. New suburbs shall be built where proper
facilities shall be provided for transport, lighting, playing fields, crches
and social centres.
The aged, the orphans, the disabled and the sick shall be cared for by the
State. Every person shall have the right to leisure, rest and recreation. Fenced
locations and racial ghettoes shall be abolished and laws which result in the
break-up of families shall be repealed.
There Shall be Peace and Friendship!
In the wake of the victorious revolution a Democratic People's Republic shall
be proclaimed in South Africa. This shall be a fully independent state which
respects the rights and sovereignty of nations. South Africa shall strive to
maintain world peace and the settlement of international conflicts by
negotiations - not war. Peace and friendship amongst all people shall be secured
by upholding the equal rights, opportunities and status of all.
The democratic state shall maintain close neighbourly relations with the
states of Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland in the place of the present veiled
threats and economic pressure applied against our brothers and sisters in these
states by White supremacy. Democratic South Africa shall take its place as a
member of the OAU and work to strengthen Pan-African unity in all fields. Our
country will actively support national liberations movements of the peoples of
the world against imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism. Diplomatic
relations will be established with all countries regardless of their social and
political systems on the principles of mutual respect of each other's
independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The economic and cultural
interests of those countries which sympathised with and support the struggle of
South Africa for freedom shall be respected.
The revolutionary struggle is in its infancy. It will be a long hard road. To
accomplish the glorious task of the revolution, maximum unity among all national
groups and revolutionary forces must be created and maintained. All South
African patriots whatever their race must take their place in the revolution
under the banner of the African National Congress.
Forward to revolution and the victory of the people's programme of
The Freedom Charter in 2001
Celebrating the implementation of the Freedom Charter
By Jeff Radebe
"We need both architect and bricklayer...
When the Congress of the people completed drafting the Freedom Charter in
1955, it gave South Africa's future generations an architectural design an
overarching model of the society and the government around which they were to
mobilise and pursue the objective of the national liberation struggle. It was
a design and model, which over the decades was to inspire and guide our
revolutionary activity at all conceivable levels of our political, military
and constitutional struggles.
The Freedom Charter, for the first time in our history, sketched out in
clear terms the central objective of the national democratic struggle. It
called for a South Africa which is united in its composition, democratic in
its character, non-racial in its political complexion and prosperous in its
Its provisions constituted a negation of any form of discrimination on the
basis of sex, colour, religion or creed. It captured in vivid terms the
composite will of the people.
Any form of construction, however, needs both the architect and the
bricklayer. It needs both the act of conception and that of building, the act
of designing and that of putting one brick upon the other.
If the Congress of the People in 1955 marked the maturity of conception of
the design of our future society, April 27th 1994 called upon all of us to
hone our skills in the act of bricklaying."
Extract from Speech by President Thabo Mbeki to the ANC National
Constitutional Conference. March 1995.
June 26 is traditionally celebrated in the ranks of the Congress
Alliance as SA Freedom Day. This is the day that we recall the adoption of the
Freedom Charter at the historic Congress of the People on a dusty soccer field
in Kliptown, in 1955. The Charter had grown out of concrete people's struggles;
it consolidated resistance to the stretching hand of apartheid; and it built on
earlier statements of policy such as the 1943 African Claims and the 1949
Programme of Action.
Since then, its core principles have resounded again and again
through slogans and speeches, from the 1969 Morogoro Conference's Revolutionary
Programme of the ANC, to the ANC's film Isithwalandwe: the Story of the Freedom
Charter, specially produced for the 'Year of the Charter' in 1980. The ANC's
1988 Constitutional Guidelines vigorously endorsed the Charter's views and these
were echoed in the 1989 Harare Declaration that paved the way for the
negotiation phase of the early 1990s. At its centre rests the fundamental call
for thorough reconstruction and development of South African society through the
national democratic revolution. What a free South Africa needed was a break from
the monopoly of white power and privilege.
The vision espoused by the Freedom Charter continues to inspire
millions of South Africans in their struggles for a better future. The Charter
captures the historic demands of the people of South Africa for a united,
non-racial, non-sexist democratic society. In its preamble, the Freedom Charter
states that "only a democratic state based on the will of the people can
secure to all their birthright without distinction of race, colour sex and
creed". The strategic objectives of the National Democratic Revolution are
defined in this historic document. The basic national demands in the Charter had
propelled struggles of workers, youth, students, women, and rural poor and other
popular-democratic forces during the mass uprisings of the 1980s and early
1990s. It was slogans such as "the doors of learning and culture shall be
opened" that featured prominently in the struggles of students for a better
education that will prepare them for a role in the future of their country.
When we look through our archives, we can draw out a number of
quotations and statements interpreting the Freedom Charter and assessing its
continuing relevance in South African politics. Speaking in London in May 1987
at the Business International Conference on Certainties and Uncertainties:
Strategic Options for International Companies, the late Oliver Tambo explained:
The Charter embodies the aspirations of our people and does not
prescribe the formulas for their realisation. In the context of its parameters,
we believe that the issues as to how the wealth of our country is redistributed
for the benefit of all our people, how the economy of our country is remoulded
in order that all South Africans may thrive and prosper, are of prime importance
and should find their solutions in the context of democracy. These are matters
requiring the participation of the people; issues to be settled by informed
debate and discussion in a democratic and sovereign parliament rather than
through street battles.
Today, 14 years after that speech, the struggles of the people
of South Africa have brought about a democratic order based on the sovereignty
of the people exercised through a Constitution and Bill of Rights that oversees
the actions of Parliament and Government. Ever since 1994, the ANC has been at
the forefront of all endeavors to build the legislative framework to put flesh
on the aspirations of our people. Justice for all and reconciliation of
differences between our people stand at the centre of this framework. The needs
of our people in each and every area of the Freedom Charter's ten clauses feed
debates and discussions, white papers and laws, motions and resolutions. Our
three-sphere system of government is designed primarily to accelerate the
delivery of services and infrastructure at the local level.
The RDP has built houses, provided jobs through community based
public works programmes in rural areas, has delivered telephone and
communication systems, electricity, roads and bridges, dams, water and
irrigation, schools, and clinics. Just as the Freedom Charter was developed
through mass participation, the distinctive features of service delivery and
provision of infrastructure through RDP programmes has been and continues to be
'people-driven' in the true spirit of the theme "Batho Pele".
The Freedom Charter also called for an end to exploitation and
for economic justice through instruments such as nationalisation and the
break-up of monopolies in the country and world. It essentially called for the
reorganization of the economy. Clauses such as " the people shall share in
the country's wealth" and "the land shall be shared amongst those who
work it" reflect both the experiences and the aspiration of the masses.
They also reflect a realisation that the sharing in the country's wealth is
intricately linked to the imperative for economic growth and development. For it
is only a growing economy- an economy that grows without undermining the need
for development - that can provide a basis for a better life for all.
It is against this background that the restructuring of
state-owned enterprises should be understood. The restructuring of state-owned
enterprises forms an integral part of the ANC's strategy for economic
transformation, which found its basis in the Freedom Charter. It is a policy
informed by the balanced economic policies of the ANC as adopted at various ANC
meetings such as the Ready to Govern Conference (1992), RDP Conference, Mafikeng
Conference (1997) and the recent NGC. A balanced perspective has always guided
the ANC in order to realise its objectives through combining growth and
The key objectives informing the restructuring of state-owned
enterprises are the following:
- Contributing to economic growth
- Employment creation
- Improved and affordable services to the people n
- Infrastructure development, and
- Human resources Development.
The intervention of the Government has been aimed at balancing
these multiple objectives and ensuring that state-owned enterprises contribute
to growth and development. Restructuring is a critical necessity in order to
realise the vision and spirit of the Freedom Charter. The call of the Freedom
Charter for economic justice and redistribution of resources within and between
societies is a critical aspect of this process. This is a vision that the
ANC-led progressive movement will never abandon.
The Policy Framework on the Restructuring of State-Owned
Enterprises is committed to a strong state, which plays a developmental role.
This is necessary in order to deal with the legacies of apartheid, widespread
poverty, and unemployment. SOEs in South Africa represent massive financial,
investment, labour, technology and infrastructure resources. Restructuring aims
to maximise the contribution that these state assets can make to development
through the integration of public, private and social capital and expertise.
Therefore, Government seeks to restructure SOEs in order to harness the
resources towards the development needs of the country.
The ANC's agenda for economic transformation has always been
guided by the vision of the Freedom Charter. The ANC recognises the important
role of the developmental state in order to achieve social transformation. Its
approach seeks to assess, on a case-by-case basis, the role played by the
various enterprises in economic development and the improvement of the quality
of life of the people. Therefore, it is inconsistent with the ANC's fundamental
policy to begin the discussion on whether or not an enterprise should be owned
by the state. The balanced approach of the ANC is reflected in various
resolutions adopted by conferences held in Mafikeng, and Bloemfontein and at
various moments such as during the development of "Ready to Govern",
Reconstruction and Development Programme, and very recently, the National
General Council. Therefore, the approach to the restructuring of state-owned
enterprises has its basis in resolutions of the ANC and the balanced manner in
which they seek to achieve progress and transformation. The notion that the
Government is on a "mindless rush to privatise state assets"
represents a lack of understanding of the nature of the restructuring programme
in South Africa and the multiple objectives it seeks to achieve.
Restructuring takes place in conditions different to those when
the Freedom Charter was drafted. The Freedom Charter emerged in the period of
the Bandung Conference and the struggles of the peoples of Africa, Asia and
Latin America for their freedom and right to self-determination, post-war
prosperity in West Europe, and the existence of the USSR and World Socialist
System. Therefore, the Freedom Charter has been influenced by these progressive
developments, whilst rooted in the struggle of the people of South Africa. The
influences of radical currents within and outside of South Africa are reflected
in clauses such as "the land shall be shared amongst those who work
it" and "the people shall share in the country's wealth".
The restructuring programme aims to achieve the economic
transformation as espoused in the Freedom Charter. However, it does this in the
context of capitalist domination and globalisation. This period has seen major
transformations in the political economy of the world, which have been
accompanied by extreme poverty, inequality, and unemployment and extreme
marginalisation of the poor. The restructuring of state-owned enterprises and
economic and social policy in general should assist in countering these negative
It is critical that the restructuring programme should advance
the transformation goals as outlined in the Freedom Charter. However, it is
important to acknowledge that this process takes place in a completely changed
world. Therefore, the commitment should be on the vision and spirit of the
Freedom Charter more than the letter of this historic document. Therefore, we
are taking the vision and agenda of the Freedom Charter "in circumstances
not chosen by ourselves". The South African revolutionary experience is
also a contribution to the renewal of the project for fundamental transformation
desperately needed as a guide by the struggling peoples of our world.
The restructuring of state-owned enterprises in South Africa and
the "prescripts" of the Freedom Charter should be looked at in this
context as we accelerate the process of economic transformation. The role that
the state has to play in the modern economy is itself a subject of constant
Although the Charter ends with the clarion call to "fight,
side by side, throughout our lives, until we have won our liberty", it
began with the statement that we "should spare nothing of our strength and
courage, until the democratic changes here set out have been won."
The Freedom Charter represents not just a checklist of things to
be done, but also a vision that drives today's Government in its work for
fundamental transformation of our society. For in our daily struggles, our
people recognise and understand clearly that political freedom provides the
space and tools to build the economic emancipation without which our people's
lives will remain but empty shells. So today, when democracy in our country is
strengthened day by day, where the benefits of this freedom dig deeper into the
soil of our political culture, we must not rest on our laurels - we must take up
the struggle against poverty, economic injustice and HIV/AIDS, with the same
resolute courage and strength that generations of freedom fighters have over
decades of struggle. Where we have made advances, we must consolidate these,
using them as bridgeheads to further victories. When our different formations
engage each other in various democratic and legitimate structures and
institutions, we must not fear the complexity of problems that still face us.
Instead, we must resolutely bore to the centre of the problem, identifying all
options, and then deciding on the best way forward in the full knowledge that
along the way we will make mistakes. But we will also learn from any mistakes we
make, taking confidence in the fact that our successes outnumber our weaknesses.
Today, as we re-read the Freedom Charter, we are still struck by
the simplicity of its language, its understanding of who our people are, and the
moral superiority of its poetry. It remains one of the important human rights
charters that stand alongside international documents and statements. It remains
a reminder of the unfinished business we have as the ANC and as a people. It
remains an inspiration to us all.
The bricks and mortar of a better life for all
When the delegates to the Congress of the People in 1955 said
all people shall have the right to live where they choose, be decently housed
and to bring up their families in comfort and security they effectively defined
the programme of the ANC into the 21st century.
The Congress of the People was the culmination of months of
consultation involving thousands of volunteers who crossed the country
collecting the demands of the people of South Africa. The Freedom Charter,
adopted at the Congress of the People, remains the basic guiding document of the
liberation movement in South Africa.
Central among the demands of the people was decent, affordable
housing built close to work opportunities, "where all have transport,
roads, lighting, playing fields, creches and social centres".
The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), adopted in
1994 as the ANC's plan for transformation, noted the lack of adequate housing in
urban townships and rural settlements had reached crisis proportions. In 1990
the urban housing backlog was conservatively estimated at 1.3 million units,
rising to three million units if hostels and rural areas were included. It
estimated this would increase by an additional 200,000 households each year.
In the first seven years of office, the ANC-led government
housed nearly five million people with 1.2 million houses built or under
construction. This has largely been achieved through the Housing Subsidy Scheme
which provides a housing subsidy of R16,000 to households earning less than
R3,500 a month. The scheme has provided beneficiary households with security of
tenure, and access to shelter, sanitation, water, roads, and other services such
as electricity and telecommunications.
The problem of informal settlements is also highlighted in the
Freedom Charter, which says "slums shall be demolished and new suburbs
built". The number and size of informal settlements in South Africa has
grown dramatically since the Congress of the People as a result of rapid
urbanisation and population growth, unemployment, unequal wealth distribution
and the scarcity of affordable land for low cost housing.
The government has responded with the informal settlement
upgrading programme to convert shacks to proper homes and provide adequate
infrastructure and services. Close to 232,000 households have so far been
beneficiaries of this programme in around 300 projects nationwide. In some
instances, informal settlements are situated on land that cannot be developed,
such as in flood plains, riversides and dumping grounds. This requires the
acquisition of new land and the relocation of communities from sometimes
potentially dangerous areas.
It is estimated the approximately R3bn which government spends
annually through its housing programme sustains 45,000 jobs in the building
industry. An additional 43,000 jobs are sustained indirectly in the building
materials and components markets.
While housing provision continues, a major challenge still
remains the location of new housing closer to employment opportunities and
economic and social services. The prohibitive cost of land in many areas has
undermined the viability of constructing affordable housing in central areas.
Spatial planning at local level needs to more effectively integrate communities
racially and economically to effectively undo the effects of apartheid planning.
This is being accompanied by an accelerated strategy for the release for
development of well-located state land.
The preventive health scheme envisaged in the Freedom Charter,
"with special care for mothers and young children", has taken shape
over the last seven years with the development of an integrated national health
system providing accessible health care services to all South Africans.
Focusing on the provision of primary health care, the new
district health system has been able to bring health services within easier
reach of about six million people by building 500 new clinics in largely
Health care is free to pregnant women and children under the age
of six years. Other programmes to promote women's health include safe
terminations of pregnancy, the development of guidelines on screening for
cervical cancer, training of forensic nurses to enhance capacity to deal with
rape victims, plans to improve access to contraceptive services and enquiry into
maternal deaths in childbirth.
Community service for medical students and the strategic use of
foreign doctor are among the programmes to address the problem of limited access
of rural and urban informal settlements to medical doctors. Government's efforts
to make health care more accessible to millions of poor South Africans includes
measures like generic substitution, compulsory licensing and parallel
importation to significantly lower the cost of medicines.
While the majority of South Africans in 1955 had ample
experience of poverty and poor access to health care, they could not have
foreseen how these problems would be exacerbated by the HIV/Aids epidemic. The
challenges for the health sector are now so much greater, requiring in addition
to socio-economic development and strengthening the health sector, the
development of strong preventive programme, aggressive treatment of
opportunistic infections and targeted and appropriate use of anti-retrovirals.
The HIV/Aids epidemic has demonstrated more clearly than anything else the
importance to health care of social and economic upliftment across society.
The Freedom Charter maintains the state needs to play a central
role in the protecting and caring for vulnerable groups in society, including
"the aged, the orphans, the disabled and the sick". This is at the
forefront of current work to develop a comprehensive social security system
which will address gaps in government's approach to issues of social inequality,
income poverty and food security.
Already government plays a substantial role in alleviating
poverty through social security and development programmes. It provides social
grants to over 3.5 million people, representing income support for a large
number of poor households. The number of caregivers who receive child support
grants continues to rise dramatically - more than 1.2 million by May. The
government is committed to reaching three million children by 2003.
Pilot projects have been established for unemployed women with
children under five years to provide economic and developmental opportunities.
They are targeted at women living in deep rural areas and previously
disadvantaged informal settlements. Other programmes focus on household food
security through the establishment of food production clusters in poor
communities, provision of social support structures in communities badly
affected by HIV/Aids and poverty, and broadening the skills base and promotion
of work opportunities for young people.
The people shall share in the country's wealth!
By Alec Erwin
The people shall share in the country's wealth! These stirring
and noble words are contained in the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter
established the centrality of equity, development and dignity in the economic
policy of the ANC and the Alliance. These themes are contained in the
Reconstruction and Development Programme drawn up 38 years later in preparation
for governance in a new democracy.
What can we gain from reflecting on this document 46 years
later? Have we been able in seven years of democracy to realise the letter and
spirit of the Freedom Charter? Could we have done this in the present context of
a global economy? Whether we have been true to the Freedom Charter has been
cause for many a debate.
The difference between the South Africa of apartheid and the
present democracy is fundamental. The context of the world economy then and now
is also structurally different. However, the economic inequality we confront
remains severe. How have we responded to this problem?
What was the context then? The report given the preceding year
(1954) to the National Executive Committee of the ANC provides a detailed
account of the context, both national and international. On the international
front the report applauds 'the victory of the Viet Minhs over the French and
Americans'. It records that 'brutal wars are still being waged in Malaya, Kenya,
Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco'. This is a time of intense anti-colonial struggle
- India and China were new independent powers. The USSR and China heralded a
real alternative to imperialism and capitalism. Nationalisation was being
implemented and the effects seemed dramatic. These events had to have had an
impact on the strategies of the time.
There is a basic political and humanitarian philosophy embedded
in the Charter. It seeks to remove injustice and poverty and to restore dignity
and material well-being in a society free of prejudice. It is a powerful
document made more so by the campaign to draw it up and adopt it in the face of
great oppression. These principles are abiding. The more directly economic
injunctions to action had to be subjected to much analysis and consideration in
the 1990s as we prepared for governance.
The Freedom Charter articulated the need for a mixed economy
with the key sectors of mining, banking and monopoly industry 'transferred to
the ownership of the people as a whole'. These injunctions are not precise
enough to know what the actual outcome would have been. However, the intent is
clear - the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy. As the
prospect of governing became more imminent this position was intensely debated.
A new formulation began to emerge and it was crystallised in the Ready to Govern
document in 1992 and the RDP in 1993. Section 4.2.5. of the RDP sets out the
approach that is based on the balance of evidence and allows for 'increasing the
public sector in strategic areas and reducing the public sector in certain
This does move away from the commanding heights formulation. The
change reflected a realistic analysis of the efficacy of this type of
nationalisation within the new balance of forces in the world economy. Many have
argued that this was a fundamental and unjustified change of policy from the
Freedom Charter. However, this viewpoint did not prevail at the time the crucial
decisions for action were made. We had to devise a policy position that we
thought was effective and achievable in the context. Since all major left
parties in government are moving in a similar policy direction, it is likely
that we assessed the balance of forces correctly. The position adopted from 1990
was not one of a total abandonment of state involvement in the economy but one
based on the balance of evidence in the achievement of an objective. The State
remains a powerful force in the economy but its instruments have to be extended
and modified. State ownership is not precluded provided it can achieve the
We have introduced laws that control industries and trade 'to
assist the well-being of the people'. These take the form of consumer and
competition law. These legal forms were not as developed then as they are now.
The concern with equity and the well-being of citizens remains as a basic policy
objective. The instruments to achieve these are different. Certainly, persons
now have the right to enter trades and economic activities, which was another
injunction of this section in the Charter.
'There shall be work and security'. Much has been done. There
are important areas we have not been able to implement, as we do not have the
resources or we have hesitated to enforce a change on a fragile economy. The
40-hour week, called for in the Charter, is subject to an assessment. Its impact
on the economy is unclear. A 40-hour week and a stagnant economy is not a
worthwhile combination. There are also fundamental changes taking place in the
On balance, where do we stand on the economic injunctions of the
Charter? We have changed the instruments to achieve the major objectives and we
have a better understanding of the time change takes. However, for a new
democracy in a very volatile world economy our success has been of sufficient
magnitude to make the prospects of alternatives seem risky.
The doors of learning and culture shall be opened to all
By Kader Asmal
The Freedom Charter's vision for education is contained mainly
in Clause 8, entitled The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened. This
vision, though, must be seen within the context of the Charter's overall vision
of a South Africa based on the principles of democracy, equality, justice,
inclusivity and non-discrimination.
When the Charter was adopted, the notorious Bantu Education
System had just been introduced. Separate institutions existed for different
racial groups were in the process of being established, with vast disparities in
the resources allocated to the different groupings. Most black children still
had no access to schooling. Justifying the inferior education for blacks,
Hendrick Verwoerd, then the Minister of Native Affairs, said that giving 'the
Bantu' the same education as a white person, 'misled him by showing him the
green pastures of European society in which he was not allowed to graze'.
Verwoerd limited financial allocations for African education and introduced pay
scales for African teachers which were lower than those of similarly qualified
In contrast to this oppressive reality, the Freedom Charter
offered a vision of free and compulsory schooling of high quality for all
children, with higher education and technical training available to all on the
basis of merit through the provision of state financial assistance. Adult
illiteracy would be ended through 'a mass state education plan.' All racial
discrimination in education, sports and culture would be abolished.
Teachers, the Charter says, should have the same rights of all
other citizens - reflecting existing restrictions on teachers, especially black
teachers - organising themselves and participating in political life. The state
would nurture national talent in all spheres of education and culture and
encourage the interaction of ideas with all humanity, as well as encouraging
values of patriotism, internationalism, liberty and peace. We have made
important progress in achieving the ideals of the Charter in education, although
much needs to be done to bring the vision to full fruition. Access to education
has been increased at all levels. Schooling has been made compulsory for all
children and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme is making it possible for
increasing numbers of poor students to attend higher education. Early childhood
and further education are being expanded and developed. Teachers now have strong
organisations which look after their members' interests and participate in the
development of education policy.
Racial segregation is no longer permitted and formerly
whites-only schools, colleges, technikons and universities now cater for all
population groups. The apartheid curriculum has been swept away and the advent
of Curriculum 2005 is introducing greater enlightenment to our classrooms,
encouraging critical thinking, creativity, multilingualism and democratic
values. Greater democracy has been introduced into the education system with the
establishment of elected governing bodies at all schools and the democratisation
of governance structures at further and higher education institutions.
Despite these and other achievements, though, it must be
acknowledged that major challenges still confront us. The scourge of mass
illiteracy remains with us, with nearly half of our adult population being
unable to read and write. The recent establishment of the South African National
Literacy Initiative seeks to redress this by mounting a large-scale assault on
Even though schooling has been made compulsory for all children,
we still have some way to go before it is genuinely free. While it is parents
who decide whether schools should charge fees, in practice nearly all schools do
charge fees as state funding is inadequate to provide them all with their needs.
The Norms and Standards for School Funding ensure that schools in poorer
communities get a greater share of state resources to help them raise their
standards of provision.
However, we need to recognise that the private resources (mainly
through school fees) available to schools in wealthier communities have ensured
that the gap between rich and the poor schools has not narrowed to the extent
anticipated and desired. The Ministry of Education is giving priority attention
to this matter.
The quality of education in many of our institutions still
remains a concern. The Higher Education Quality Committee as well as the whole
school evaluation and systemic evaluation initiatives for schooling are among
the measures put in place to undertake the task of the improving educational
The ANC and the government remain committed to the ideals of the
Freedom Charter, as demonstrated by the progress made so far. We will continue
to seek ways to overcome the remaining obstacles to bring about a genuinely
enabling and liberating education system for all our people.
The key to building a winning nation
Since the 1994 democratic elections, the ANC has been at the
head of tangible and far-reaching changes in South Africa's education system in
pursuit of the vision described in the Freedom Charter.
Two years ago, in his State of the Nation address, President
Thabo Mbeki said "education and training must constitute the decisive
driver in our efforts to build a winning nation". It is in this spirit that
the development of education and training has been placed at the centre of
government's transformation programme.
In 1994, the pre-democratic government was spending five times
as much per white learner than, for example, a black learner in the Transkei.
Since 1994, government has succeeded in reducing the differential between
provinces by more than 50 per cent. Nonetheless, there is still a long way to go
in achieving equity in the schooling system.
The government has been successful in bringing the number of
learners per educator down to an average of 34 nationally. The rationalisation
process has resulted in over 30,000 teachers being moved to new posts in schools
where they are most needed, without a single forced retrenchment. This has made
a dramatic difference in many poorer schools. The School Funding Norms and
Standards policy, which took effect in 1999, mandates a
"poverty-targeted" approach to budgeting for non-personnel expenditure
by the provinces. This means the poorest schools get, on average, seven times
more funding than the richest ones.
In 1996 the Department of Education undertook the first ever
school infrastructure survey. From that first survey to the most recent, in
- there has been a decline from 43 to 35 in the average number
- of students to a classroom;
- the per centage of students without access to proper toilet
- facilities declined from 55 per cent to 16 per cent. This translates into a
- decline from 6.6 million to 1.9 million students;
- schools without telephones has decreased from 59 to 34 per
- the per centage of schools without access to running water
- declined from 40 to 34 per cent; access to electricity has improved from 40
- to 53 per cent of all schools. The Eastern Cape has shown an increase of 25
- per cent;
- the number of schools with computers has increased from
- 2,241 to 6,481. In Gauteng, only 16 per cent of schools are now without
The backlog is still huge and the difference between rich and
poor schools within the public system still unacceptable. Under the Medium-Term
Expenditure Framework (MTEF) education is to receive R1.5 billion in additional
funds as a conditional grant for physical infrastructure. While three years ago
the department spent around R200 million on learner support material, this year
it will be spending just over R1 billion.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has
facilitated the entry of large numbers of students who would otherwise simply
not have been able to go to university or technikon. Since 1996 government's
contribution to the scheme has been over R2 billion to the benefit of well over
200,000 students. In this budget alone, R 450 million is earmarked for the NSFAS
with at least an additional R150 million recouped from loan repayments from past
Enrolment in schools has increased dramatically. Compared to
other developing countries, South Africa currently has one of the highest
enrolment rates for children of school-going age. Over twelve million students
are in school, representing more than 90 per cent of all children between the
ages of seven and fifteen years. Most of the gains have been among poor, African
and rural children. South Africa's participation rate for girls is among the
highest in the world. The matric pass rate for 2000 increased by 9 per cent, and
a further minimum of 5 per cent is expected in 2001, with improvements
particularly among the worst performing schools to which special attention is
being paid. This year the department will also target mathematics, science,
technology and history and ensure there are trainers on the ground from next
year for maths and science.
Much work still needs to be done to provide education to
learners in a safe and productive environment. To this end, the department has
made school effectiveness, school management and teacher professionalism one of
its chief priorities. It is also focusing on the review and streamlined
implementation of the new outcomes-based curriculum, Curriculum 2005. This
approach to education is aimed, to borrow the words of Prof Edward Said, at the
activation rather than the stuffing of minds.
Adopted in 1997, the government's policy on language in
education in says "being multilingual should be a defining characteristic
of being South African". This requires putting into place dual-medium
education and ensuring all South Africans, regardless of their mother tongues,
learn at least one other South African language well enough to be able to
communicate fluently and effectively in them.
Government is determined to "break the back" of
illiteracy in South Africa by 2004. There are about 6 million functionally
illiterate adults in the country. When the first national audit of public adult
learning centres was published in July 2000 there were 2,226 public adult
learning centres and 13,628 teachers. But there were only 271,701 students,
mainly at further education and training levels. Implementation of a strategic
plan to address this will begin in June 2001 in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal and
later during the year expanded to the 18 rural and urban development nodes
throughout the country.
Education is central to counteract HIV/AIDS. Most children enter
the education system HIV-negative; an unacceptable number leave school
HIV-positive, and many more become HIV-positive shortly after leaving. If the
education system were able to influence children's' ideas about sex and
relationships even before these start, it would play a key role in changing the
course of the epidemic.
The education department's response to HIV/AIDS has been
declared the "priority which underlies all priorities". This response
includes a number of key projects: HIV/AIDS within and across the curriculum;
workplace policies and programmes for all staff including educators; the
development of a national plan that aligns planning and management systems; and
the development of a system of responding to the needs of the ever increasing
numbers of orphans and learners in distress or with special needs due to
Introducing the education budget vote in parliament last week,
Education Minister Kader Asmal said his department was never satisfied: "If
we are to live up to the public claims of cherishing all the children of the
nation equally, then we must work in unity, with professionalism and with
passion to achieve this moral imperative."
A deeply spiritual document
By Cedric Mayson
During the years of the struggle it was illegal to produce or
possess copies of the Freedom Charter. At the Christian Institute offices in
Braamfontein (where Beyers Naude was Director) we had state-of-the-art
one-at-a-time rotary duplicators, and an early photocopy machine. With scissors
and paste we reduced the Freedom Charter to fit on to a single page of foolscap
paper, and after hours, when most of the staff had gone home, produced tens of
thousands of copies.
Out at his church in Kagiso, Rev Frank Chikane had an adult
literacy scheme which also used duplicators, and also ran after-hours production
lines for the Charter. As those illegal copies were circulated through the
country, no one knew they had been produced in secret by religious
The Freedom Charter is a deeply spiritual document. Every clause
of it can be supported by chapter and verse quotations from the Bible, the
Quoran, the Hindu Scriptures, and other holy books. It is rooted in the great
religious concepts revealed to humanity through the ages: justice, peace,
liberty, government, authority, land, 'brotherhood', opportunity, freedom.
Plenty of religious people attacked the Freedom Charter and in
doing so revealed the way in which so many of them were supporting fallacies of
faith, rather than the real thing. Two false religious positions in particular
were exposed by the Charter - and they must be spelt out again because these
heresies are still promoted by conservative right-wing forces today.
The first was that religion was only concerned with private
goodness, and with the progress of individual souls to heaven. In fact the
scriptures make clear that religion is concerned about the whole of human life,
about society, justice, loving our neighbour, the land, and the role of peoples
and cultures. Jesus proclaimed to the suffering people of his age that Gods
Ruling Power (the 'kingdom of God') was operating on Earth to redeem the poor
and oppressed and down-trodden, to bring a new birth to the rich and religious
traditionalists, and give light and life to the Scribes and Pharisees who were
the fundamentalists of his day.
It was not only a heavenly vision, but an earthly vision too.
The life of the human spirit cannot be separated from the human body, human
mind, and human community which make us all tick. Jesus was enforcing the vision
of the prophets both before and after him in all religions, and the same
insights appear constantly in the Freedom Charter.
The second fallacy was that the main focus and concern of
religion was to run churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues. Such people
sought to separate religion and God from government, politics, economics and
social responsibilities, and confine religion to promoting religious
institutions. It is a total nonsense, which can only be maintained by stuffing
the scriptures of the world into the shredder.
The spiritual realities within the human community which most of
us call the Spirit of God can never be confined within the walls and concepts of
religious structures. Even those who withdraw into a full time life of prayer
and contemplation do it for the glory and fulfilment of God in the whole of
creation - and that includes the visions spelt out in the Freedom Charter.
It was not a mistake that Fr Huddleston and other religious
personnel were at Kliptown in 1955. One of the great needs of today is for
religious people to study the Freedom Charter again and rediscover and
reinterpret its truths for the generation which is moving from liberation to
Under the old Supreme Court in Pretoria there were some large
holding cells where prisoners were kept when the Court above was having an
adjournment. The walls had originally been painted white, but over the years had
been covered with the most unusual graffiti. People had written up long lists of
those who had been tried for treason, from way back, with summaries of charges
and sentences and political slogans. There were two complete copies of the
Freedom Charter which people had known by heart and inscribed on those basement
walls, so that the foundations of the Supreme Court were quite literally set in
the Freedom Charter.
I spent a couple of weeks there in 1983 but it was impossible to
feel alone. All the great ones of the past had been there, and standing reading
the Freedom Charter under those circumstances was a deeply spiritual experience.
Treason? Utter nonsense! This is what humanity and God were all about.
It still is.
Charterists: youth identity in the '80s
By Sandile Dikeni
In the midst of the eighties I once walked into an identity
concept that surprised me as much as it scared the hell out of me. 'Charterist'
was the tag.
The scene was Nyanga East, a township on the Cape Flats. East,
as it is known, is one of those townships that in my opinion boasts some of the
most wondrous intellectual talents in the progressive democratic circles, but
plays second fiddle to Gugulethu and Langa for reasons that are hidden away in
the histories of these hellholes. Brain to brain, however, I still think of this
township and the quality of its activists as one big gem in the consciousness of
the young anti-apartheid activists in the eighties.
Nyanga East shares a close proximity to rough hellholes like
Philippi, Crossroads, KTC (which had a part called "Beirut") and
Nyanga Bush, just to mention a few scenarios that constituted a social nightmare
in the haphazard arrangement of urban settlement in the Cape. Needless to say,
many of the activists of the East were averse to the conditions of their
neighbours let alone their own miserable set up. At one point or another, many
of the activists in this township must have had some close shave with either the
witdoeke, a notorious cop called Barnard, or some of the vigilante forces in
what is called, for want of a better description, the taxi industry. But
certainly one of their most testing experiences was the criminal element in some
strangely organised phenomena called iNtsara.
How the Ntsara came to being is certainly a moot point. A vague
clue to the rise of this gang must have to do with the state of siege in the
eighties. One of the first things that happened with the repression on community
organisations in Cape Town was the rise of crime, especially amongst the youth.
IiNtsara epitomised that rise of crime. Another element was apathy.
Apathy was so great, it was a common sight to watch iiNtsara
marching in some disorganised way down some main road in Nyanga East brandishing
every kind of weapon imaginable. In one of these exhibitions of gang power, I
had the unpleasant opportunity to witness the false sense of authority that
gangsterism and mob psychology grants young people. This particular march was
led by a thug called uThyopho. Thyopho was a young boy, who earned his
flamboyancy by undressing himself to the waist and making extremely strange
noises and blood curdling ululations while he led his troop of nearly a hundred
or so 'skepsels' who felt absolutely untouchable. In this crazy spell, Tyhopho,
brandishing some quite dangerous looking dagger, would momentarily stop, throw
himself to the ground mutter some more of his strange words, and then roll to
the pavement and start sharpening his assegai to the absolute glee of his
Quite fascinated by this exhibition, I dared ask one of the
comrades, what is he saying? "Death to the Charterists" came the
reply. "Who were the charterists?" I ventured. It came out that
everyone of the youth who did not fall under the tag apathetic was viewed as a
charterist by the gang in Nyanga East! It was a fascinating revelation that said
much more about the Freedom Charter than Raymond Suttner could have thought.
Charterism more than a mere affiliation to a historic moment in
the 1950's had a greater attribute. It presented itself not merely as a
galvanising force for a conscious youth in a time of repression but also as an
identity for progressive youth. What was more fascinating was that the identity
was not an appropriated one but one given from outside the ambits of the
progressive youth workshop. But not only that, it was also accepted that the
Freedom Charter was the basis of a particular youth movement that stood outside
the framework of a despondency that forced the mainstream youth into the macabre
yet realistic ambit of crime as identity. This suggested that even the criminals
of the era of repression had a particular discourse about the Freedom Charter.
"Why was this?" I kept on wondering for sometime. My
own thinking was and still is the accessibility of the intellectual ideal
embedded in the Charter. The depth of meaning supplied by the Freedom Charter in
its popular form was such that it lent itself to debate by anyone in society.
With hindsight, I also mused the history of the document and the role that the
ANC Youth League of the fifties might have played in its construction and
As a tool of organisation the Freedom Charter challenged certain
sensitive points about being young in this country. While it poised itself as
document of great depth insofar as the broad ideals of a future society was
concerned it also made itself a popular document by providing a home for the
venturing mind of youth. Precisely because it avoided being a blue print it
presented itself as a point of controversy and therefore as a challenge to
straight thinking. This is the rallying point for the young intellectual. The
Charter became a sexy document because it gave scope for a much broader
discourse and debate as laid down in its ten points.
It was also made the more interesting by the existence of the
other two documents: the Azanian Manifesto and the Ten Point Programme of the
New Unity Movement.
The weakness of the two other documents was that they presented
foolproof arguments that allowed no further discourse because they searched for
perfection. Youth hates perfection. Conscious youth hates prescription. This
explains why Thyopho and some of the criminals were so irritated by the
Charterists. They needed a straightforward path from alienation and the ideals
of the Freedom Charter do not supply that quick fix.
It needs to be said however that Thyopho and co finally lost the
battle, because while the conscious youth were not gang material there was
nothing wrong with their self-defence mechanisms. In the name of the Freedom
Charter the gang was driven out of Nyanga East and those who remained became
Charterists. This was done without the assistance of Barnard, who died in a gun
battle later. Rumour also has it that Thyopho also left the world at the
knifepoint of another of his cronies.
Congress of the People - I was there
On the 25th anniversary of the Congress of the People, a
delegate to that historic occasion describes the work involved in its
preparation and the atmosphere and spirit of Kliptown, June 25-26 1955.
Reprinted from Sechaba -June 1980.
June 25 and 26 1955 are dates indelibly impressed on the minds
and hearts of every Congress member who was active at the time. They are the
dates of the Congress of the People, which was held at Kliptown to discuss and
finally adopt the historic Freedom Charter, which forms the basis of our policy
today. On those two days we witnessed the climax of months of effort on the part
of thousands of Congress men and women throughout the country striving for the
liberation of their country from the yoke of apartheid. In the Freedom Charter
they set out the details of the kind of South African society they wanted to see
when the day of liberation dawned.
The Congress of the People was brought about through the efforts
of Joint Congress Committees which were established throughout the country
comprising the African National Congress, the SA Indian Congress, Coloured
People's Organisation (later the SA Coloured People's Congress), and the
Congress of Democrats - whites who identified with the Congress movement. The SA
Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU), formed in March 1955, was not yet part of the
Joint Consultative Committee, though it passed a resolution of support for the
COP campaign at its founding congress and fully associated itself with the
Congress Alliance. The South African Communist Party, although reconstituted
since 1953, had not yet publicly declared its existence so that, although its
members were active in all the Congresses, it did not participate as a separate
Meetings to mobilise the people for the Congress of the People
and gather in their demands and wishes for incorporation in the Charter were
held everywhere - at factories at lunch-time, in the townships, villages and
suburbs in the evenings and over weekends. Many of our best speakers had already
been banned from attending meetings under the Suppression of Communism Act, so
in many places it was left to the second string to fill the gaps, and to do even
more because the number of people who could be active publicly was restricted by
the bannings. The slogan for the Congress of the People - "a delegate from
every town, every suburb, every village"-was what we had in mind, and it
was an ideal that came near to 100% fulfillment.
The meetings were held to elect delegates to the Congress and
also to put forward the demands of the people for incorporation in the Freedom
Charter itself. For this was a document which was intended to be our blueprint
for the future South Africa, and it was the aim and hope of all of us that the
people of South Africa would take the chance to help create their own future.
Day by day as the meetings were held and the resolutions began to roll in, it
was remarkable to see the similarity of the demands voiced on all sides although
not really surprising when one considers that the people everywhere suffered
from the same disabilities. The complaint everywhere was first and foremost
about the iniquitous pass laws, then about Bantu Education, forced removals,
high rents.... Everywhere the people knew that until they had the right to vote
they would never have the power to get what they wanted.
Money also had to be collected to send delegates up to the
Congress in Kliptown. Our comrades collected money in pennies, in shillings and
pounds, from audiences at meetings, from their neighbours, from people in buses
and trains. The sight of the dog-eared notes coming in from all over the Western
Cape, which was where I worked - hundreds of them brought in by our comrades
returning from meetings - was an assurance that our efforts were meeting with a
wholehearted response. And Head Office was besieged with bits of paper posted
from everywhere in the country setting out the demands of the people.
When the great day of the Congress of the People was upon us, we
set out on our journey to Kliptown, many of us travelling hundreds of miles,
wondering what was going to happen. For it was not as if we had been allowed to
campaign in peace. Every meeting was watched by the special branch, our
organisers were hounded and arrested, documents seized in raids.
Not all the people's elected delegates were able to reach the
congress. Cars and lorries were stopped, contingents held back on one or other
pretext until it was too late to continue their journey. Yet in spite of all the
harassment and interference, about 3,000 delegates pierced the police cordon and
arrived at Kliptown, just outside Johannesburg, where a patch of open ground had
been prepared to seat the huge throng. Just imagine the problems of organisation
- 3,000 delegates had to be fed and housed. But from every point of view the
Congress was an outstanding success. Politically, organisationally, emotionally,
it was truly representative of all the people in South Africa - not like that
mockery called Parliament in Cape Town! Our Congress of the People really
belonged to and spoke for the people of our country, reflecting their
aspirations and hopes, their determination and courage, their faith in the
future, their ability and inventiveness.
I believe now, as I did then, that the Freedom Charter is a
revolutionary document. It lays the foundation for the national democratic
revolution, stating in clear and simple terms the demands of the people -
demands which cannot be full-filled unless the whole apartheid structure of
South Africa as we know it today is overturned. There are some who say the
Freedom Charter is out of date because it is 25 years old. Of course nothing is
immutable. The Freedom Charter is not immutable, it can be changed if the people
want to change it. But Freedom is not out of date, and the people's demand for
freedom has not changed. On the contrary, it has gained in intensity, and led
the people to adopt new and more forceful methods to achieve their objective.
But that objective is still to destroy the apartheid state and build a new
society - and the Freedom Charter still tells us what kind of society we want to
see in South Africa. Its words ring as true today as when they were first
But what of the days of the Congress of the People itself, those
two days in 1955 when the first real parliament of South Africa was convened?
Perhaps one can best compare it to a festival - except that our business was
serious, and except for the presence of the special branch, peering at the
delegates through field glasses, taking notes of the speeches, and finally on
the second day surrounding the whole gathering with their uniformed police and
military men armed with stun guns while the name and address of every delegate
was taken down.
So why a festival? As one approached Kliptown (and I and others
had driven 1,000 miles to get there), one could see the streams of other
delegates arriving - some in cars, some in buses, others in carts or on foot,
many carrying banners and wearing colourful national dresses for a gala
At the fenced-in, open-air forum of the congress itself there
were banners displayed from all over South Africa - from Natal, East Cape, West
Cape and other places. And of course there were many delegates there without
display of any sort to protect themselves; they had in fact to pretend they were
not there at all. These delegates were mainly from the rural areas, liable to
victimisation from employers and police if their presence was discovered. But
despite all the intimidation and danger, they were there.
Before the congress started, groups of people were singing
freedom songs. When the police staged their invasion on the second day and the
delegates found themselves surrounded, the tension was so great that a spark
could have set off a conflagration. But it was Ida Mntwana who kept the crowd
peaceful by starting the singing of freedom songs from the platform. The buzz of
anger died down and the defiant songs of freedom filled the air. The people
continued with the business of the congress, and the clauses of the Freedom
Charter were discussed and adopted while the police were taking down names.
Meal times were an important feature. We had signs up "soup
with meat" and "soup without meat" to cater for the religious
scruples or preferences of the delegates. The police thought these signs had
some hidden political significance, and they were later handed in as evidence in
the treason trial which was the government's reply to the congress. During these
lunch-breaks, we met and mingled with delegates from other centres, and made
friendships and forged bonds which have endured to this day and will continue to
thrill us throughout our lifetime.
There were a lot of marvelous people at Congress of the People
and a lot of marvelous people worked to make it a success - ordinary men and
women who make South Africa such an exciting place to live in. But I think of
all the people with whom I worked for the Congress, perhaps the most impressive
was the late John Mtini. He was a member of the African National Congress,
almost 70 years old at that time, but young at heart, with the spirit,
enthusiasm and energy of someone 50 years his junior. He lived with his wife in
a tiny pondokkie in Elsie's River, near Cape Town. Despite ailing health, he
never spared himself. When the Congress called, he answered. Inspired by the
whole concept of the congress, he organised his whole area, and used to come
into the office with wads of £1 notes that he had collected to help cover the
cost of transport. He himself collected enough money to send 12 people to the
Congress. He used to bring in his money with a wonderful smile of satisfaction
on his face, thrilled at the response of the people.
The awards of Isitwalandwe, the speeches from the platform, the
general atmosphere, all contributed to make the weekend of the Congress of the
People a truly memorable one. People from all over South Africa had come
together, met one another, discussed their common problems, reached their
decisions, adopted the Freedom Charter. We had signposted the way to another and
better South Africa. The Congress of the People and the Freedom Charter
represented a shattering setback for the government - the time and effort they
put into the treason trial showed that. The people had demonstrated they would
never accept apartheid, would never submit, would resist repression, would
continue to fight for liberation until final victory was won and South Africa
was set free. The Freedom Charter has inspired the people in their struggles
throughout the past 25 years, and continues to inspire them.
The Revolutionary Alliance
Let us consolidate the revolutionary movement for faster
Extracts from a statement of the National Executive
29 September - 1 October 2000
The NEC, meeting for the first time after our historic National General Council,
in the wake of the National Conference against Racism and the 7th National
Congress of our Alliance partner COSATU, deliberated over a number of key
challenges and identified specific strategic tasks for advancing and deepening
The ANC cadres emerged from the NGC mindful of and equal to the
challenges posed by the new international situation, the advancement of the
African renaissance and the immense expectation from our people that we work
with them to speed up change and deepen the National Democratic Revolution in
A key programmatic task arising from the NGC therefore is how we
continue to develop, empower, affirm and expand this dedicated pool of cadres.
The ongoing political development of this cadreship must empower them to engage
in the debates and discussions of the challenges of economic and social
transformation, the transformation of the state and our society and changing the
international environment; in addition to their involvement in mass work and
campaigns, and their political work in sectoral formations and the Alliance.
The affirmation of our cadres is key to strengthening the
capacity of the movement to give leadership to the mass of our people in
communities and to our society as a whole. Without this dedicated army of
cadres, the movement will not be able to fulfill its historic mission of
transforming our country into a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic
The Revolutionary Alliance
The NEC reflected on the workings of the Alliance and grappled
with the difficulties facing the Revolutionary Alliance. These difficulties have
expressed themselves over the last period around macro economic policy, around
strategic questions such as the transformation of the public service and the
role of public service unions; the absence of joint mass alliance programmes
(besides election campaigns) and in the practice of Alliance partners,
increasingly debating matters central to the transformation of our country in
the media, rather than engaging with each other in a comradely manner and in
appropriate fora. The NEC in doing this introspection reflected on the
relationship between the ANC and each of our alliance partners.
Our alliance with the South African Communist Party is a
relationship cemented in the trenches of our struggle against Apartheid
colonialism. This Alliance has manifested itself in its organisational form over
the years in the practice of dual membership between the ANC and the SACP, with
communists often being seen as amongst the most dedicated and committed in
working to strengthen the liberation movement. This, and our ongoing engagements
on the strategic and political challenges facing us in our fight against the
common enemy represented by the Apartheid ruling bloc, enhanced our cohesiveness
as individual organisations, as well as a revolutionary alliance.
The NEC noted that this has changed since 1990, with the
revolutionary Alliance and its component members being faced with new
challenges. The ANC and SACP agree on the most central questions facing the
National Democratic Revolution in the current phase. We agree about the good
practice learnt from a history of dual and multiple membership within Alliance
However, over the last few years we have been faced with many
occasions when, instead of acting in the traditions of a revolutionary alliance
that has endured as much as ours, the clamour for a public assertion of autonomy
takes precedence over fundamental questions that unite us. The spirit of
political and ideological engagement, and the practice of consultations that
have characterised the Alliance have also somewhat dissipated.
The NEC discussed the evolution of the progressive trade union
movement in South Africa and the important role it has played in the struggle
for national liberation and against the super-exploitation of black and female
workers under Apartheid colonialism. It noted that trade unions, by their very
definition, tend to organise themselves to struggle for the improvement of the
working conditions of their members. They are therefore not inherently
progressive, especially in relation to wider issues of social justice. We
acknowledge the legitimacy of such a focus for the trade union movement. However
it cannot be seen as the sole focus of the ANC nor even a revolutionary trade
union movement with the responsibility to pursue the transformation of our
society in its entirety.
The national liberation movement and the party of the working
class (the SACP) have therefore played an important role in the evolution of the
progressive trade union movement in South Africa, towards it becoming a central
part of the liberation forces and the revolutionary Alliance. The ANC and the
SACP have achieved this over the decades through consistent and tireless
political work in the trade union movement and amongst the working class
Since the democratic breakthrough of 1994 we have achieved, not
only a decisive move away from white minority rule, but from the oppressive
labour relations that formed one of the cornerstones of apartheid colonialism.
The NEC reflected on the impact that the process of globalisation has had on
working people, the impact of changes in productive processes and the labour
market on workers and the poor, and in particular on trade union movements
across the globe.
The South African trade union movement, and COSATU in
particular, have to face not only these challenges confronted by their
counterparts in the world, but also changes brought about by the transformation
and restructuring of the economy, of building a democratic and developmental
state; whilst at the same time beginning to address the social deficit of
These changes have impacted on the union movement, manifested in
developments such as:
- The shrinking of the mining sector which historically
- employed a large percentage of the organised working class;
- The restructuring process in the manufacturing and retail
- sector and job losses in the formal sector, outsourcing and casualisation;
- The changes in the agricultural sector and the difficult
- process of protecting the rights and security of tenure of farm workers;
- The restructuring of the state owned enterprises;
- The growth of 'new economic sectors' such as information,
- communications and technology;
- The growth of public sector unions, who were harshly
- suppressed prior to 1990. Since then there has been a growth of public
- sector unions, and they are now the biggest component of the federation.
- This has caused tensions as to how these 'new unions' as employees of an ANC
- government and as part of the structures within the Alliance should interact
- with programmes designed to transform the public service and build a
- developmental state.
These are amongst the very complex challenges facing the union
movement and indeed the Alliance as a whole. These challenges are not merely
about 'trade union' or 'shop floor issues'. They are fundamental to the
strategic objectives of the NDR, of liberating Africans in particular and black
people in general from political and economic bondage; of uplifting the quality
of life of all South Africans, especially the poor.' (Strategy
and Tactics. 1997)
We therefore make a distinction between trade union
consciousness (in pursuit of real improvements in the working conditions of
their members) and political consciousness (participating in the national
liberation movement with other classes to resolve the national question and
giving leadership to community issues). An element of political consciousness is
class consciousness (an understanding of workers' place in society and the
alliances they form in pursuit of their long term objectives).
The reduction of political and class consciousness to the
mouthing of revolutionary-sounding phrases can lead to serious tactical errors.
For example, the silence of the COSATU 7th Congress Declaration on the issue of
racism, even insofar as it affects workers in the workplace, in the mines and on
farms; its silence on the role of capital in job losses and the low levels of
investment; the tendency in the pronouncements of some of the senior leadership
to seek media publicity at the expense of the ANC and government - all this
reflects a short-coming that requires urgent attention.
The ANC acknowledges that with the enormous challenges of coming
to grips with governance and the process of driving thorough-going
transformation, it has not paid sufficient attention to its responsibility
towards the trade union movement. This responsibility includes ongoing
engagement on the strategic questions facing the country, the union movement and
the Alliance in general; political work within this crucial component of the
Alliance and supporting the struggles of the millions of members of COSATU, who
are also ANC members.
As a result, a climate of misunderstanding may develop. This
climate can create space for ultra-left tendencies, which seek to alienate
workers from the national liberation movement and from the democratic government
that continues to be their best and only hope for a better life. It can also
provide space for a tendency inadvertently to want to define the secondary
contradictions among the forces of revolutionary change as the primary focus of
workers' struggles, at the expense of the strategic tasks facing the working
people in this phase of the NDR. Naturally, these tendencies will receive
encouragement and praise from forces opposed to the fundamental transformation
of South African society.
- The ANC should have ongoing bilateral meetings with the SACP
- to discuss roles in the current phase of the NDR, our common programme and
- relations between the party and the movement.
- We must develop political guidelines on the role of ANC
- cadres in mass formations for discussion in the movement and the Alliance.
- An Alliance Lekgotla, focusing on the theoretical,
- strategic, tactical and programmatic challenges facing the NDR, should
- follow 10-aside meetings.
- The ANC must regard the leadership of COSATU as leaders in
- the ANC, with access to the leadership of the movement to ensure mutually
- enriching interactions on the key questions facing our country.
- We must ensure that we regularly share information on
- government, international work and on our campaigns amongst ourselves.
- We must engage this leadership as part of our broader
- programme to affirm the cadreship of the movement and the Alliance, through
- our cadre and human resource development programme.
- The ANC must give human and organisational support to the
- endeavors of the trade union movement to service its members and to engage
- in the difficult challenges faced by various unions in the sectors where
- they operate.
- Engage the public sector unions, and the public service
- union in particular, as a movement and as government, on issues of the
- relationship between the unions and the democratic government and the
- strategic task of transforming the public service.
- Engage the whole of the trade union movement and workers in
- general around issues of social transformation, including the formulation of
- public policy, the transformation of the state and the implementation of
- political and socio-economic programmes to build a better life for all.
- Actively work to strengthen the trade union movement at all
- levels through participating in political education programmes, helping to
- build COSATU locals and assisting with organising of difficult sectors such
- as domestic and farm-workers and the unemployed.
- Encouraging our members to organise and join unions where
- they exist, including through the structures of the Youth and Women Leagues;
- and recruiting workers into ANC branches.
- Work with the federation to achieve the cherished objective
- of One Industry One Union and of One country One Federation.
Common objectives of the
[Contextual interpretation of ANC Strategy and Tactics]
Common objectives of the Tri-partite Alliance are defined by the
content of the NDR. How these objectives are pursued by each component is
dictated to, in the first instance, by the relationship between class and
national elements of the struggle in the current phase.
The environment in which the Allies operate also impacts on how
they relate to one another. This includes the national and international balance
of forces, and the fact of the position of the democratic movement in
Character of the NDR
The strategic objective of the NDR is the creation of a united,
non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. This means political liberation
of Africans in particular and black people in general, and uplifting the quality
of life of all South Africans, the majority of whom are African and female. It
means deracialisation of South African society in all its elements and the
reshaping of gender relations.
This requires the establishment of a democratic state, based on
a democratic constitution, in which formal expressions of democracy are backed
up by people-centred and people-driven programmes. The motive forces of the NDR
should build a democratic state, among others, by ensuring that all levers of
power are in the hands of the collective of forces that pay allegiance to, and
pursue the multifaceted provisions of the Constitution.
Because of the symbiotic link between South African capitalism
and national oppression, national democracy, to be meaningful, has to include
reconfiguration of property relations in a number of ways. Deracialisation of
society, including patterns of ownership of productive property and distribution
of wealth, means, among others, pouring massive resources into uplifting
conditions of the poor and providing opportunities for blacks in economic,
social, cultural and other spheres.
Such efforts require the pooling of resources in the hands of
the state, including the fiscus and parastatals, as well as social capital, to
attain the objective of reshaping property and social relations. However, the
NDR does not eliminate the basic antagonisms between capital and labour. There
will be decisive intervention to regulate the operation of market forces in the
interest especially of the poor and the disadvantaged; but the market remains a
critical element in the economic system.
The democratic state faces the challenge of managing these and
other social contradictions, as it seeks to reshape social relations to build a
better life for all. This includes creative management of the dynamic of
"unity and struggle" in our relations with private capital.
Motive forces and concepts of struggle
The basic contradictions within South African society threw up a
myriad of national and class forces as the motive forces of the NDR. These
forces are made up of Africans, coloured and Indian communities and democratic
whites. In class terms, these forces include the working class (employed and
unemployed), the rural masses, black professionals and black business-people.
South African capitalism gave birth to a collective of black
workers whose position in the socio-economic system, numbers, activism and
organisation placed them at the head of the struggle for freedom. The working
class therefore developed to win the confidence of the motive forces of change
because most of its interests coincide with those of the majority. In this
sense, among others, the class and national struggles find common expression.
How then is each of these struggles defined?
The national struggle is a political struggle for national
liberation. It brings together a variety of motive forces impelled by their own
self interest and the general national interest. Their objective socio-economic
conditions dictate that the quest for political freedom should be combined with
a challenge to colonial property relations.
The individual struggles of the various sectors for an
improvement in their conditions - in education, civic matters, at the factory
floor and elsewhere - do not in themselves constitute a national political
struggle for liberation. Rather, on their own, they could remain confined in the
realm of reformism. Historically, the intervention of advanced elements in
society brought to the fore the complex links between these issues and the
overarching imperative of national liberation.
The class struggle in its most advanced form, under capitalism,
is a political struggle for social emancipation. It brings together the working
people, led by the working class, ultimately to create a society in which there
is no exploitation, nor classes. Similarly, the actions of the working people to
improve their economic conditions do not on their own constitute a class
political struggle. The latter requires the intervention of advanced elements.
National and class struggle
The history of national and class struggle is one of mutual
influence between these elements. As the working class appreciated the link
between its class position and the property question, so did it infuse greater
progressiveness into the content of the national struggle. But the realisation
of the link between social conditions and the political system of colonialism
was a critical element in inculcating political consciousness at all among the
As such, to a large extent, national political consciousness was
a critical route to class political consciousness, on the part of the working
class. In practice, the immediacy of the national grievance means that the
working class exercises its struggle for social emancipation, in this phase,
within the context of the national struggle.
It is against this background that the ANC Morogoro Conference
asserted that the working class is the dynamic link between national liberation
and socialism. This assertion reflected both the acceptance on the part of the
ANC of the legitimacy and logic of the struggle for socialism and, consequently,
the extent to which progressive nationalism had permeated the ranks of the ANC.
Does it therefore mean that the ANC had adopted or could and
should adopt socialism as its ultimate objective? The answer is, no! The ANC was
and remains the embodiment of the collective of organised forces that seek to
resolve the national contradictions within South African society, at the same
time as it tackles relevant socio-economic relations. It is on this account, the
vanguard of the NDR, the leader of the Tripartite Alliance. It is in the
objective interest of the socialist movement, and the SACP as the vanguard of
this movement, that this should be the case. In the first instance, it seeks to
unite all the real and potential motive forces for a national democratic
revolution - and not to isolate itself in a cocoon of socialist purity.
Secondly, recognising the immediacy of the national question, it views the NDR
as the shortest route to socialism, in a continuum of struggle.
Leadership role of the working class
As such, a revolutionary working class is, both from the point
of view of its immediate and long-term interests, as well as its objective
position in the socio-economic system, meant to be the most active, dynamic and
far-sighted class in the national democratic struggle. This it does, not as a
class apart, but as part and at the head of, the motive forces of the NDR.
How should this manifest itself in the current phase? This
should express itself, among other things, in workers' day-to-day struggles, in
the mastery of the strategy and tactics of the national struggle, in its
appreciation of a given balance of forces and the course to follow in a
particular conjuncture, in its creative articulation of the interests of all the
motive forces and in its activism within the national liberation movement.
Yet in this phase, one of the critical questions we face is, if
the working class has to lead in the process of transformation, what is the
totality of the instruments available for this purpose? If it has to play a
leading role in the ANC, where is the ANC to be found?
These questions speak to the new conditions of struggle: in
addition to mass organisation and mobilisation, today we also have to utilise
state institutions, including Parliament. Working class activists also have to
be found at the coalface of these new instruments, besides their presence in
these institutions as public sector employees. This demands a delicate balancing
act between immediate interests and the broader interests of transformation.
What this means in the current phase is that these motive forces
of change, led by the working class, are required to be managers of a capitalist
system. They have to transform elements of a capitalist system in line with
objectives of the NDR, while managing the broader economic system in line with
the main elements of its own logic.
In other words, these motive forces face the challenge of
ensuring that private capital, both local and foreign, appreciates the
"capitalist integrity" of the current South African socio-economic
arrangement. For instance, they have to manage such issues as stabilising a
sharply depreciating currency, preventing and smoothing out volatility in the
financial markets, and dealing with complex matters of world commodity markets.
This will certainly include efforts to shift the national and
international balance of forces. But it also means, in the immediate sense,
engaging with the conjuncture as is, to ensure increased rates of investment by
private capital and a growing economy that creates jobs. Thus, to the extent
that the working class is the leader of the NDR, it also has to be the leader of
this complex and contradictory endeavour.
This requires a keen sense of the balance of forces, a nimble
foot in negotiating tactical detours, creative boldness in communicating
decisions and actions both to the broad membership and the public at large,
including the markets themselves! This is a challenge facing all the motive
forces, led by the working class.
In other words, working class leadership should manifest itself
in all spheres of the democratic movement's activities, within and outside of
the state. It should express itself throughout the value chain of
transformation, from policy formulation to its implementation. It should include
the capacity to manage the contradictions that should increasingly play
themselves out among the motive forces, as the black middle strata and aspirant
bourgeoisie accrue material and other benefits from national democratic
As the vanguard of the working class, the SACP strives to ensure
that this class - including its trade union formations - relates its narrow
sectoral interests to broader transformation. This challenge equally faces the
ANC, in the context of the NDR. Where challenges of transformation are complex
and do not lend themselves to linear progression, the temptation looms large for
the political movement to pander to sectoral instincts of given classes or
Minimum programme of the party of the working class and the
struggle for socialism
["Musings of an interested observer"]
A number of assumptions are made in the afore-going. These
include the fact that the ANC is not a socialist party, and that the Party does
not seek to transform the ANC into such a party. It is also assumed that the
revolutionary working class movement considers the NDR, as defined by the ANC,
as the expression of its minimum programme. It is further assumed that the
latter is the case, among others, because the working class took active part in
the formulation of the Strategy and Tactics of the NDR.
In the evolution of these positions of the ANC - the minimum
programme of the revolutionary working class movement - there was debate and
contestation. Such contestation reflected not so much working class positions
versus the rest; but it played itself out within and among the motive forces as
In this regard the central question that faced us in the
build-up to 1994, in the immediate aftermath of this period, and even now, is
one about a reading of the balance of forces, how to shift this balance, as well
as the challenge constantly to widen our revolutionary possibilities. And such
is the science and art of revolution that the limits of revolutionary action
cannot be weighed precisely on a scale; nor can serious revolutionaries indulge
in the recklessness of testing these limits merely to prove a point.
The SACP fights for the realisation of the programme of the ANC
- its own minimum programme - not out of opportunism so it could, in time,
subvert such a programme. Neither does it posit a "radical NDR" in
contrast to what the ANC pursues. Its cadres, and the broad working class take
part in, and are at the forefront of, defining this NDR within the ANC. Through
force of argument and concrete practice, the revolutionary working class seeks
to convince the other motive forces that their long-term interests are served by
an NDR that contains a strong social content.
The SACP should therefore negotiate the difficult route to
national democracy, with its twists and turns, as would all other revolutionary
forces, particularly the ANC. A failure to grasp this can lead to the temptation
to fiddle dangerously with the ever-present explosive material for intense class
confrontation, in a society such as ours with deep social fissures. It can also
lead to a mindset to relate to the fledgling democratic state as the main target
of "left" critique and action.
This would in fact represent a failure on the part of the
revolutionary working class to exercise leadership within the broader movement
for change. It would also be a failure to negotiate the smoothest possible
progression to socialism.
But, will there be a fissure among the motive forces, at the
stage when the quest for socialism becomes an immediate objective? It is
inevitable that there will be constriction in the concentric circles that define
the alliance of motive forces. The extent of this should partly be answered by
the question, what is socialism?
Socialism is defined by the Party as consisting of multi-party
democracy, consistent equality, individual and collective freedom and
socialisation of the means and relations of production. While the socialised
sector would predominate, with increased democratic rational planning, markets
will play an important regulating and distributive function. How does this
differ from the broad provisions of the Freedom Charter, the ultimate objective
of the NDR as defined by the ANC?
Perhaps in many fundamental waysÉ But inadequately answered,
this vagueness can inform an interpretation to the slogan, Build Socialism Now,
to mean, Build Radical National Democracy Now - that is, a radical NDR
contrasted with what the ANC 'has created today', in this period of transition!
This would then position the revolutionary working class movement as a radical
critic of the 'ANC's NDR', 'pure socialists with clean hands' rather than active
participants in the complex struggles in all spheres of engagement, including
the state. Such an approach would contrast sharply with a confident
revolutionary class that leads from the front, maintaining as wide a front of
the concentric circles as possible in advancing to socialism.
Yet, if socialism is understood to mean a system qualitatively
different from the NDR as broadly defined in the Freedom Charter, the questions
still remain: How will the array of motive forces of the NDR reconfigure
themselves as conditions for Socialist Revolution mature? How should this find
practical expression in day-to-day activities and pronouncements?
From the ranks of the motive forces, the black middle strata and
aspirant (as well as actual) bourgeoisie are not only among the most immediate
beneficiaries of transformation. Because of their social status, they are also
the most articulate and visible in public discourse. Combined with the reality
of the overall balance of forces and the challenge to negotiate many detours in
this period of transition, there always is a danger that this could have the
consequence of blunting the social content of the NDR. As such, both the ANC and
the SACP have to address the temptation among these strata to wallow in the
self-satisfaction of newly-acquired material gains.
Posed differently, these questions relate to the challenge
facing the working class to exercise leadership in the national liberation
movement, among others, by seeking to convince most of the motive forces of the
NDR that they would, objectively, benefit from democratic socialism. Broadly
speaking, creating a broad front that combines forces that recognise the
legitimacy of socialism, and passively and actively support it, is the challenge
of socialist struggles everywhere.
In lieu of a conclusion
Answers to these difficult questions demand that each component
of the Alliance should understand itself, regarding its role and profile in the
current period, and how it relates to the other Allies. Open and frank
engagement on these issues particularly between the ANC and the SACP, as the
political organisations at the head of the revolutionary movement, is critical.
This would also help resolve the problem of an amiable mien in
the interaction among the Allies, which often publicly reveals itself as
concealing deep-seated misunderstandings. Further, an appreciation of each
other's historical role will make it possible to define the division of labour
among the allies, given the wide array of forces and issues that we have to deal
with in pursuit of the common objective of the NDR.
Organisational questions, including the issue of the public
posture of the Allies, is somewhat complicated by the need for each component to
have an independent profile. However, a resolution of the issues of substance,
some of which are posed in this document, as well as such simple practices as
regular consultations based on mutual trust, should minimise unnecessary
Among the many challenges facing the NDR is the management of a
transition in which the classes and strata in political office are, strictly
speaking, not yet the ruling class. Further, the revolutionary movement has to
battle against ideological paradigms and practices that seek to undermine
fundamental social change through vicious campaigns and co-option. Yet, as
always, the possibilities for qualitative movement forward are open to the
revolutionary movement, because its strength derives from the mass of the people
who are keenly interested in, and committed to, thorough-going change.
The global situation presents many difficult challenges in the
conduct of the NDR. But contained within it is a growing mass movement for a
humane, just and equitable world order. The challenge of all democrats is how to
mobilise for mutual international solidarity, ensuring at every turn that the
struggle for a better life for all, assumes predominance and greater legitimacy
in the mainstream of world affairs.
Trade unions and a democratic society
By Gwede Mantashe
What is a trade union?
In any employment relationship a worker is individually weak in
relation to his/her partner in the employment contract, the employer. The
employer sees a worker as a tool of production, a tool of generating wealth for
the owner(s) of the means of production. It is always the employer's intention
to extract as much as possible from the worker and pay as little as possible in
return. It is this process that generates surplus value. Surplus value is
generated through exploitation of workers. Through exploitation, profits are
maximised. Greed for more and more profits translates into lower wages and
better conditions for employers.
When workers not only understand this situation, but experience
it, they begin to look for solutions. A trade union is the key solution to the
problem of unequal relations. It is an organisation of wage-earners seeking to
unite into a strong force that can effectively engage the employer. At the same
time, the union seeks to bring about order in the regulation of employment
relations. They create an institutional framework for engagement. In this way,
trade unions are an intervention in the inherent contradictions in employment
This informs us of the primary responsibility of any trade union
worth its salt, that of representing its members in day-to-day engagement with
employers. It must take up the day-to-day bread and butter issues of workers. It
is in this ability to make tangible gains for its members that a union retains
its membership. This reformist role of the trade unions is the lifeblood of any
working class revolution. It is these short-term tangible gains that keep the
working class mobilised.
The experience of what unity can achieve is also taken into
communities. Trade unionists become experienced activists who play a pivotal
role in the mobilisation of communities. This mobilisation, as it is the case in
the workplace, is around specific issues that negatively affect community life.
The birth of COSATU
COSATU is a product of worker struggles of the 1970s. This
background of unions that fought for recognition of black workers in general and
African workers in particular as "EMPLOYEES" gave the
"emergent" unions a particular character, one of fighting for the
rights of workers. The impact was huge, with the Wiehahn Commission being the
These unions as organised into CUSA or FOSATU occupied a vacuum
that was opened by the banning of the liberation movement and the impact of the
ban on SACTU. It is always important to see this re-emergence of the trade union
movement as part of the general revival of political activity and resistance in
the country, during the 70s. The students resistance movement and the emergence
of the Black Consciousness Movement were pieces of the same initiative.
The unity talks in the early eighties and the One Million
Signature campaign that culminated in the formation of the United Democratic
Front in 1983 was a consolidation of these efforts. The unity talks culminated
in the launch of COSATU in 1985. From its Inaugural Congress, COSATU saw itself
as part of the liberation movement. The resolutions of this Inaugural Congress
reflect this predominant view. The adoption of the Freedom Charter by COSATU and
many of its affiliates in 1987 removed all the doubts on COSATU identifying and
seeing itself as part of the Congress movement.
The command by the Commander in Chief of Umkhonto We Sizwe and
all progressive forces, comrade Oliver Tambo, of rendering South Africa
ungovernable and apartheid unworkable was carried by COSATU and the UDF working
very closely. COSATU has always been part of the liberation forces. It is for
this reason that COSATU was ready to be part of the revolutionary alliance after
the unbanning. COSATU was central in mobilising our people for the final push
that culminated in the 1994 breakthrough.
Trade unions in the democratic South Africa
COSATU has a justifiable claim that as part of the movement in
its own right and as a member of the Tripartite Alliance, it should be part of
taking the National Democratic Revolution forward. Our understanding is that the
NDR is about fundamental change. Any transformation programme should be about
that fundamental change. It is this claim that causes contradictions.
One of the Alliance partners, the ANC, sees the responsibility
to govern as the responsibility of the elected Government. COSATU accepts this
but insists that the government should be implementing the programme of the
Alliance. The concept of the political centre is based on the desire to involve
the Alliance partners in the policy formulation and monitoring implementation.
It is when this political centre cannot hold that contradictions
begin to emerge in the workings of the Alliance. In this situation, COSATU
reverts into playing its role as part of the broader civil society. It mobilises
its constituency; it raises awareness and consciousness. It criticises the
weaknesses and shortcomings in the implementation of the transformation
It is this vocal criticism of such shortcomings that is seen as
"being oppositionist". It is sometimes described as "narrow
sectarian interests". This description of the role of trade unions is
confusing on two counts:
- It seeks to redefine the role of trade unions as playing the
- role of 'LOYALISTS" who are apologetic of their primary role.
- It seeks to relegate workers' needs and interests to being
- narrow and sectarian.
This is in contrast to how the interests of other interested
groups like business are described. Society is organised into interest groups
that compete for national resources. Antagonism between the two primary classes,
the bourgeoisie and the working class, play themselves out in competition for
these scarce resources and the control thereof. Policy formulation is an
intervention in these contradictions. The policy framework tampers with the
balance of class forces. Organised labour, as the advanced detachment of the
working class, must lead the working class struggles. It must lead the working
class contest of ideas. A revolutionary working class part must provide the
overall working class leadership. The challenge is to translate this theory into
practice and thus interpret working class leadership into an earned position.
The general role of trade unions described above, is applicable
to all trade unions, including those operating in the public sector. Trade
unionism is a phenomenon of capitalism, for only in capitalist societies are
there free labour market conditions where the majority of workers are compelled
to sell their labour power to a minority who own the means of production.
Management of the relationship with unions determines the content of the
relationship. We must spend a lot of energy in this aspect of our relationship.
The State should be leading and be the most enlightened in this regard.
Social emancipation and national liberation
By Ngoako Ramthlodi
It is generally agreed that the fundamental question of the
South African Revolution is not what is the difference but what is the
relationship between national and social emancipation. While the two are not the
same, it is inconceivable, in the case of South Africa, to imagine true national
liberation without the deracialisation of property relations. A key element of
this must be the redistribution of the wealth of the country to the black
majority who are historic victims of apartheid.
Proceeding from the theory of a colonialism of a special type we
would argue that, in our case, national liberation is a pre-condition for any
social advance and emancipation. Our forebears expressed this same understanding
in adopting the "Black Republic" slogan in 1928. In other words,
deepening the NDR is equal to opening a direct path to socialism. Therefore the
urgent and fundamental task of those aspiring for socialism is to strengthen the
NDR and ensure its decisive victory.
This approach remains correct even in the post-1994 qualitative
breakthrough, given that the legacy of apartheid and colonialism remains our
daily reality. Accordingly, a tendency that bemoans the strengthening of the NDR
as delaying the attainment of social emancipation is in practice bordering on an
infantile disorder. Indeed, while such a tendency might sound revolutionary, if
in reality disarms and demobilises the revolutionary forces. In explaining the
slogan "Socialism is the future - Build it now", the Party itself
makes the same point in arguing for the strengthening of the socialist
tendencies within the NDR.
The ANC 1997 Strategy and Tactics correctly captures the
historic task when it says "the strategic objective of the NDR is the
creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. This, in
essence, means the liberation of Africans in particular and black people in
general from political and economic bondage. It means uplifting the quality of
life of all South Africans, the majority of whom are African and female."
From this strategic objective flow many strategic tasks which the last National
General Council identified.
The fulfillment of revolutionary tasks requires a programme of
action owned and led by the Alliance. The very nature of the strategic objective
and tasks demands the maximum mobilisation of all revolutionary and progressive
forces around this programme of action. The working class would play a leading
role in implementing such programme - in doing so it would also be acting in the
interests of other class forces, constituting the motive forces, and thereby win
their respect and loyalty.
The ANC National General Council clearly identifies these motive
forces as "the African majority and blacks in general and in class terms
include the unemployed and landless rural masses; unskilled and semi-skilled
workers, professionals, entrepreneurs and small business operators." This
also includes black women. In our context, the black bourgeoisie would, broadly
speaking, form part of the forces for change.
Leadership of Tripartite Alliance
The ANC has always assumed the leadership of the Alliance and it
has shown itself more than capable of discharging this historic mission. In the
context of a Colonialism of Special Type, this leadership of the ANC is
pre-ordained as the most suitable organisational form to lead non-racial and
multi-class motive forces of our revolution. Other organisational forms would
not be suitable for this role under our current conditions. This is the reason
why over the decades the entire Alliance have solidly rallied behind the ANC
In playing out this leadership, the ANC has an obligation and
duty to remain a political home for all with a clear bias towards the working
class. Again this does not depend on the wishes of individual leaders at any
given time. This duty arises out of the reality that the overwhelming majority
of the victims of apartheid and colonialism are black people who have been
dispossessed under colonialism.
Therefore, in prosecuting the struggle, the ANC must be seen to
reflect the objective interests of these motive forces.
Experience has shown that a weaker ANC means a weaker working
class, in the same way as a weaker working class means a weaker ANC. In the
underground there was both organisational and political cohesion within the
Alliance. At an organisational level all members of the Party and SACTU were
also members of the ANC. Within the ANC these members of the working class never
behaved like a cabal. They participated in all political programmes as would any
other ANC member. When they emerged in leadership positions it was on account of
their high levels of political maturity and discipline rather than as a result
of conspiracy within the Party.
This point is crucial for the smooth functioning of the
Alliance. Members of the Party in the ANC should be as true members of the ANC
as they are true members of the Party. This is correct because we have always
understood that the national liberation struggle is not just the form of
expression of the socialist struggle, but it has itself its own momentum and
specific historical tasks to perform.
Historically what has bound the Alliance together was the
revolutionary mission of liberating black people in general and Africans in
particular. The majority of these are members of the working class, the rural
poor and women. The unity of purpose of the Alliance thus arose out of the unity
of needs. Whatever tensions might have arisen would not be on the fundamentals,
but rather on tactics.
In terms of our strategy and tactics the strategic objective of
the NDR has not changed. We, therefore argue that what binds the Alliance
together remains the fundamental objective of liberating black people in general
and Africans in particular. However, as we engage in daily and practical
struggles different class forces will place emphasis on their core interests
within an overarching national question. This means that the working class
should assert its leadership role by incorporating into its programmes the true
aspirations of other sections of the motive forces, including the interests of
the emerging black bourgeoisie.
A strategy which promotes the interests of organised labour to
the exclusion of other elements of the motive forces would result in the
isolation of the working class. Similarly an approach which suggests that the
working class should support the national struggle without simultaneously
advancing its own interests would be counter-revolutionary. In this context, the
working class should not aim for quick and easy victories in the same way as it
should not fail to consolidate on the battles already won.
The correct approach is to prosecute the struggle in a way that
the primacy of the national struggle is maintained whilst at the same time its
social dimension is deepened. Major historic breakthroughs such as 1994 are
likely to destabilise this balance, at least, for the time being. The result may
be the sort of tensions we have experienced in recent times. We should therefore
accept that to some extent these tensions are inevitable, given the massive
changes in the terrain of struggle.
This brings to the fore the question as to how the ANC and the
Alliance should relate to the democratic state. A point should be made that the
so called democratic state is itself still being democratised. That is why one
of our fundamentals tasks is the transformation of the state. Following the
Mafikeng National Conference, the ANC shifted the focus of policy formulation
from the state back to Luthuli House. At least that is what our resolutions
were. In other words the state had to be used as the additional weapon in the
armoury of revolutionary forces. It was not envisaged that the state would be
used as the only weapon. The ANC should therefore have available at its disposal
the masses of our people in prosecuting the struggle. At times this might mean
controlled activities aimed at transforming the state. This might appear to be a
contradiction. However, the simple analogy out of the puzzle is that of a hunter
who sharpens the knife so that it can be sharper - he is not destroying the
knife by sharpening it.
The unbanning of the Alliance and the transformation of the
Party into a mass party are part of the new conditions demanding revolutionary
solutions from us. This has brought about one of the most fascinating and
extremely complex dimensions to our struggle.
The Role of COSATU
At the outset a point should be made that a trade union is not a
political party. Its primary role is to protect and to advance the interests of
its own members, namely workers, in their place of employment. Historically, our
struggle has attracted unions into active political struggles under the
leadership of both the ANC and the Party. It is therefore no accident that
leading trade unionists also held senior positions both in the Party and in the
ANC. This relationship played a major role in raising the consciousness of the
working class in our country. COSATU is a proud successor to the struggles of
earlier foundations, especially SACTU, which, in spite of limitations specific
to unions, was able to play a pivotal role in the national liberation struggle.
The interesting lesson we have learned in our own struggle is
that a trade union movement has been forced not to limit its struggles to the
shop floor. Our experience is that of combining economic and political struggles
on the shop floor. This begins to explain why COSATU remains part of the
Alliance post-1994. It may also explain why COSATU may be increasingly becoming
vocal on political issues, even though it publicly subordinates itself to the
vanguardship of the Party and the leadership of the ANC.
We do not think it would be correct to suggest the
depoliticisation of COSATU on the basis that the trade union is not a political
Party. What is required is for the ANC and the Party to intensify political work
amongst the COSATU membership. COSATU members would then be conscientised to see
their own work situation in the context of the broader struggle as led by the
On the other hand, we must accelerate the state transformation
to further consolidate the gains already made since 1994. Our senior managers in
the Public Service need political training in the ethos of a democratic state.
This would go a long way in mitigating the natural tension associated with shop
floor contradictions. Perhaps much more fundamentally, the political management
of the state should be based on a programme owned by the whole Alliance. This
may seem difficult, but it is achievable with a bit of honesty and hard work.
In agreeing to this common programme, we should not seek to take
away, the ability of COSATU to engage in legitimate strike actions. In such an
eventuality they would cease to be a trade union movement. However
differentiation between shop floor issues and political issues is being
suggested. With regard to political issues mass action should be an Alliance
driven process. Better still if such action is ANC led.
It is mainly the task of the ANC and the Party as the highest
organisational and ideological expression of the working class to consistently
provide leadership. The trade union movement on its own, because of its very
nature, cannot grasp this fact.
In this context it cannot be over-emphasized that our revolution
will best be served by a strong and independent COSATU, capable of defending the
interests of its own members. Such a COSATU would also, in line with the demands
of the NDR, understand and support the programmes of the Alliance as led by the
ANC. This political consciousness cannot be left to the leadership alone. To
that end the alliance has a responsibility to intensify political work among the
working people. This understanding would by and large define COSATU's
relationship with the democratic state.
An independent and credible COSATU which shares the Alliance
agenda and strategy and tactics for transformation is an indispensable part of
the future. It is correct that this independence should not express itself in
the form of a "permanent opposition" to the state. Similarly, we
cannot view each and every mass action as being necessarily negative.
The Role of the SACP
In 1848, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, in the Manifesto of the
Communist Party, explained their view of the role of the Communist Party
vis-a-vis the entire working class and the advantage of the Party over the
working class as a whole. They explained the importance of the Party remaining
part of the working class while at the same time being ahead of it as its
"The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand,
practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties
of every country, that section that pushes forward all others; on the one hand,
theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of
clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate
general results of the proletarian movement." É "They (Communists) do
not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mould
the proletarian movement."
It is enough that the working class is mobilised in such a way
that it understands its leading role in the revolutionary transformation of
society. It must pronounce itself and act in such a way that other social forces
objectively gaining from social transformation accept its leading role because
their own interests are taken care of by the working class led by the Party.
The Party, as the highest form of organisation of the working
class must represent the all-embracing interests of the working class as a whole
and not just the interests of the organised section of the working class but
those of the organised and unorganised; the employed and non-employed sections
of the working class. Short of this, it will sink to Economism and Narodism and
lose its leadership role. It will turn itself into a trade union movement which
is to take two steps backward.
The strategic task of the SACP is the mobilisation of the
genuine left democratic forces. It is to ensure that all progressive (potential
or actual) forces coalesce and unite in action to consolidate the NDR without
diluting the leadership role of the working class. It is to train and guide the
progressive trade union movement through its theoretical superiority. As to
whether the SACP is fulfilling this task needs honest critical self-examination.
In recent times we have witnessed public disagreements within
the Alliance. These are partly a reflection of the autonomy of Alliance
partners. In some of its documents the Party argues that, Òwe cannot, without
doing immense damage to the ANC and its influence, suppress the reality of
multiple mandates - we need, however, especially among allied formations, to
find ways to effectively manage this multiplicity.
In this context we are of the view that over-emphasis of
multiple mandates may at times lead to precisely the eventuality that the Party
fears, namely, "doing immense damage to the ANC and its influence".
Historically the Alliance has resolved this particular issue through internal
dialogue and debates. There is no reason why we should not encourage and work
towards this dialogue. Multiple mandates will best be resolved internally.
Through the eye of a needle?
Choosing the best cadres to lead transformation
A National Working Committee discussion document
Why should we discuss this issue?
1. As a movement for fundamental change, the ANC regularly has
to elect leaders at various levels who are equal to the challenge of each phase
of struggle. Such leaders should represent the motive forces of the struggle. To
become an ANC leader is not an entitlement. It should not be an easy process
attached merely to status. It should be informed first and foremost by the
desire and commitment to serve the people, and a track record appreciated by ANC
members and communities alike.
2 Those in leadership positions should unite and guide the
movement to be at the head of the process of change. They should lead the
movement in its mission to organise and inspire the masses to be their own
liberators. They should lead the task of governance with diligence. And,
together, they should reflect continuity of a revolutionary tradition and
renewal which sustains the movement in the long-term.
3 How do thousands of branches throughout the country ensure
that this happens in actual practice? How do we deal with individual ambition,
lobbying, promotion of friends and pursuit of selfish interests? How do we
ensure that electoral processes do not tear the movement apart? How do we
prevent attempts to use the movement as a step-ladder towards self-enrichment?
4 Besides, the door can be left open for corrupt individuals and
even enemies of change, to exploit the movement's internal democracy to sabotage
the struggle and create their own ANC. Further, those who fail in positions of
authority can use all kinds of excuses to cling to power, when the time for
change has come.
5 These are difficult questions. But the movement's membership
has to find the answers, so we together build and sustain the ANC as an agent
for change. To fully understand this challenge, let us first examine the
character of challenges in this phase of struggle.
What are the challenges we face at this stage?
6 According to the Strategy and Tactics document:
"Our strategy is the creation of a united, non-racial,
non-sexist and democratic society. In pursuit of this objective, we shall, at
each given moment, creatively adopt tactics that advance that objective. Our
fundamental point of departure is that South Africans have it in their power,
as a people and as part of progressive humankind, to continually change the
environment in which we operate in the interest of a better future.
"In this phase of transformation, we seek to expand and
deepen the power of democratic forces in all centres critical to the NDR, at
the same time as we improve the people's quality of life. Our efforts, which
are people-centred, people-driven and gender-sensitive, are founded on five
- to build and strengthen the ANC as a movement that
- organises and leads the people in the task of social transformation;
- to deepen our democracy and culture of human rights and
- mobilise the people to take active part in changing their lives for the
- to strengthen the hold of the democratic movement on state
- power, and transform the state machinery to serve the cause of social
- to pursue economic growth, development and redistribution
- in such a way as to improve the people's quality of life; and
- to work with progressive forces throughout the world to
- promote and defend our transformation, advance Africa's renaissance and
- build a new world order."
7 Among the priorities that need immediate attention are:
building active branches that give leadership to communities; strengthening the
Tri-partite Alliance; ensuring that the ANC leads mass organisations; and making
decisive interventions in the ideological struggle.
8 At the level of government, we need to improve the capacity of
the state to meet its obligation to citizens in the area of economic growth and
job creation, social programmes, and dealing with crime and corruption. Further,
the ANC, both inside and outside government, should play a leading role in
Africa's renewal and building a better world.
9 As we carry out these tasks, we will face a concerted campaign
to undermine our efforts, by those who oppose change. They will underplay the
progress we are making, while exaggerating weaknesses. They will seek to
discredit the ANC and its leadership. They will also try to undermine confidence
in the institutions of democracy we have set up.
10 Some will even try to subvert the ANC from within. Because
they know they cannot defeat the ANC frontally, they will try to create an ANC
that serves their interests.
What kind of ANC is required to meet these challenges?
11 A revolutionary democratic movement: The ANC pursues
fundamental change to create a better life for all. Equality among all South
Africans in choosing a government of their choice, using the country's resources
to improve conditions of especially the poor, and removing racism in the
ownership and distribution of wealth are among our core principles. Within its
ranks, the ANC ensures the participation of members in shaping the movement's
policies and programmes.
12 A non-racial national movement: It is critical that our
struggle brings about an end to apartheid relations in all areas of life. The
ANC believes in the equal worth of all human beings. We seek to unite South
Africans across racial and ethnic differences, taking into account the central
role of Blacks in general and Africans in particular, given their exclusion
under apartheid. We practice these principles within the organisation.
13 A broad national democratic movement: The ANC represents the
mass of forces that pursue social transformation. Individuals belonging to
different classes and strata form part of these forces, because they stand to
gain from fundamental change. However, the ANC is keenly aware of the social
basis of apartheid. It recognises the leading role of the working class and pays
special attention to the poor.
14 A mass movement: The ANC seeks to bring into its ranks as
many South Africans as possible who accept its principles and policies. As a
legal organisation, it does not target only particular advanced political
activists for recruitment. As long as one accepts its policies and takes its
oath, anyone can become a member.
15 A non-sexist movement: Over time, the ANC has embraced the
principle of gender equality as one of the central features of national
liberation. This is reinforced through the equitable representation of women at
all levels of the movement, and it requires the conscious implementation of
affirmative action within our ranks.
16 A leader of the democratic forces: Because of what it stands
for, and its track record in the fight against apartheid colonialism, the ANC
emerged as the leader of the forces who pursue a united, non-racial, non-sexist
and democratic South Africa. It seeks to unite all these forces and their
organisations into a movement for fundamental change. Its leaders and members
should win the confidence of organisations of the people.
17 A champion of progressive internationalism: The ANC's
objectives are informed by the aspirations of the people of SA, Africa and
millions others in all parts of the world. Over the years, it has contributed
to, and benefited from, struggles across the globe for a just, equitable and
humane world order; and it remains committed to these ideals.
What informs the principles of ANC Organisational Democracy?
18 Elected leadership: Leadership of the ANC is elected in
conferences or, at branch level, in general members meetings. In all these
instances, it is the individual members of the ANC, directly at branch level, or
through their delegates, at other levels, who decide on the composition of the
19 Collective leadership: Individual leaders are elected into
collectives which should work as a unit, fulfilling their mandate as dictated to
by the constitution. No single person is a leader unto himself or herself, but a
member of a collective which should give considered, canvassed guidance to the
membership and society as a whole.
20 Branches as basic units: The branch is the basic and most
important unit of the ANC. This is where members give leadership to communities,
where they bring programmes to life and where they consider and make proposals
on policies of the movement.
21 Consultations and mandates: Regular meetings of branches,
regions and provinces, as well as national conferences provide the membership
with the platform to assume collective ownership of the movement's fate. They
set out the mandate that guides the leadership, and are important fora for
report-backs and consultations across the movement.
22 Criticism and self-criticism: It is to be expected that in
leading social activity, leaders and members will from time to time make
mistakes. The most important thing is that these individuals and collectives
should have the capacity and humility to honestly review their work critically,
and correct the weaknesses.
23 Democracy as majority rule: Individual members and leaders
will have differing opinions on how particular issues should be addressed. The
strength of revolutionary organisation lies among others in the ability to
synthesise these views and emerge with the wisest possible approach. Once a
decision has been taken on the basis of the majority's views, it binds everyone,
including those who held a contrary view.
24 Status of higher and lower structures: Lower structures have
the right to influence decisions of higher structures. And, within their mandate
the higher structures have a responsibility to take decisions. Once these
decisions have been taken, they bind all the relevant lower structures: they
have to be supported and implemented.
What are the constitutional guidelines for elections?
25 Every member of the ANC has the right to vote for, and be
elected into, leadership positions. Like all rights, this goes along with the
obligation to understand and pursue the objectives of the ANC. Further, in order
to ensure that leaders are elected for their track record in serving the people,
qualifications apply in relation to leadership positions: to be on the BEC a
member should have been in the ANC for at least a year; for the REC it's 2
years; 3 years for the PEC and for the NEC it's 5 years.
26 In the conferences or AGM's where leaders are elected, this
happens after discussion on the political and organisational environment and
challenges facing the ANC. Out of these discussions emerges the political
programme for the next term of office. Broadly, it is on the basis of these
discussions (which start before the relevant conferences) that an appropriate
leadership collective is decided upon.
27 Branch members are the electoral college for all elective
positions. At branch level, this happens at an AGM where all members take part.
In regional, provincial and national conferences, the delegates are mandated by
the branch membership. However, each delegate has the right and latitude to
influence and be influenced by delegates from other branches.
28 Because of the central role of branches and their delegates
in these processes, two critical challenges face all branches. Firstly, we must
all the time ensure the integrity of the membership system, so that only
genuine, bona fide members of the ANC exercise this important responsibility of
deciding on policy and leadership. Secondly, where branch members delegate
individuals to represent them, they must ensure that these are members capable
of influencing others, and at the same time, able to weigh various arguments and
acting in the best interest of the movement.
29 Delegates from branches elect Regional Executive Committees.
For purposes of Provincial Executives, nominations from braches are canvassed at
Regional Conferences, for regions to reach broad consensus. For purposes of
National Conferences the same process also happens at Provincial Conferences.
30 This allows branches to share ideas, information and
knowledge around various candidates. Through all these levels, a broad mandate
is given to delegates: but each delegate has the responsibility to weigh views
even at Conference itself and take decisions that, in his or her assessment,
serve the best interests of the struggle.
31 At Conferences, nominations are also allowed from the floor,
from individual delegates. Relevant minimums of support are set for the nominees
to be included in the lists. This allows for individual delegates, regions or
provinces to put forward names of those they deem capable but could not emerge
through the nomination process.
32 Voting at Conferences is by secret ballot, and each delegate
has one vote of equal value. In other words, delegates are not voting fodder,
mechanically and unthinkingly bound to lists and subject to the whip. While
delegates should be guided by the broad mandate of their branches, regions or
provinces, each individual delegate is expected to exercise his or her judgement
on the basis of his or her assessment of the movement's interests.
What then are the broad requirements of leadership?
33 As a revolutionary organisation, the ANC needs revolutionary
cadres and leaders. It should put in place leadership collectives that satisfy
the character of the ANC defined above: a revolutionary democratic movement, a
non-racial and non-sexist national movement, a broad national democratic
movement, a mass movement and a leader of the democratic forces.
34 An ANC leader should understand ANC policy and be able to
apply it under all conditions in which she finds herself. This includes an
appreciation, from the NDR stand-point, of the country and the world we live in,
of the balance of forces, and of how continually to change this balance in
favour of the motive forces of change.
35 A leader should constantly seek to improve his capacity to
serve the people; he should strive to be in touch with the people all the time,
listen to their views and learn from them. He should be accessible and flexible;
and not arrogate to himself the status of being the source of all wisdom.
36 A leader should win the confidence of the people in her
day-to-day work. Where the situation demands, she should be firm; and have the
courage to explain and seek to convince others of the correctness of decisions
taken by constitutional structures even if such decisions are unpopular. She
should not seek to gain cheap popularity by avoiding difficult issues, making
false promises or merely pandering to popular sentiment.
37 A leader should lead by example. He should be above reproach
in his political and social conduct - as defined by our revolutionary morality.
Through force of example, he should act as a role model to ANC members and
non-members alike. Leading a life that reflects commitment to the strategic
goals of the NDR includes not only being free of corrupt practices; it also
means actively fighting against corruption.
38 There are no ready-made leaders. Leaders evolve out of
battles for social transformation. In these battles, cadres will stumble and
some will fall. But the abiding quality of leadership is to learn from mistakes,
to appreciate one's weaknesses and correct them.
39 A leader should seek to influence and to be influenced by
others in the collective. He should have the conviction to state his views
boldly and openly within constitutional structures of the movement; and -
without being disrespectful - not to cower before those in more senior positions
in pursuit of patronage, nor to rely on cliques to maintain one's position.
40 An individual with qualities of leadership does not seek to
gain popularity by undermining those in positions of responsibility. Where such
a member has a view on how to improve things or correct mistakes, she should
state those views in constitutional structures and seek to win others to her own
thinking. She should assist the movement as a whole to improve its work, and not
stand aside to claim perfection out of inactivity.
41 The struggle for social transformation is a complex
undertaking in which at times, personal interests will conflict with the
organisational interest. From time to time, conflict will manifest itself
between and among members and leaders. The ultimate test of leadership includes:
41.1 striving for convergence between personal interests -
material, status and otherwise - and the collective interest;
41.2 handling conflict in the course of ANC work by
understanding its true origins and seeking to resolve it in the context of
struggle and in the interest of the ANC;
41.3 the ability to inspire people in good times and bad; to
reinforce members' and society's confidence in the ANC and transformation;and
41.4 winning genuine acceptance by the membership, not through
suppression, threats or patronage, but by being principled, firm, humble and
How has the base of leadership widened in the past few years?
42 With its unbanning, the ANC set out to build a mass movement,
drawing members from the mass of the South African people. This also made it
possible to introduce profound open democratic practices, with activists of the
anti-apartheid struggle and communities in general taking part in building their
movement. A culture of open mass participation helped root the ANC in all areas
of the country. It improved its standing as a people's movement both in terms of
its policies and programmes and in its mass composition.
43 As it developed from being a movement of cadres thoroughly
processed and systematically educated in its policies, it attracted huge numbers
of people many of whom developed in its ranks. Many of them were prepared to
face the might of state-sponsored violence for 'the last push'. However, some
individuals may have joined for the prestige associated with the changes
happening at the beginning of the decade; as well as the personal opportunities
that would arise when the ANC came into government.
44 Over these years, young people, women, community leaders of
various hues, veterans of previous struggles, professionals and business-people
found political home in the movement as it emerged from the underground. Cadres
from prison, exile, underground formations and the mass movement have come
together at various levels of leadership. All this has brought a dynamic
political chemistry into the evolution of the organisation. It has also provided
a wide and deep pool of experience within leadership.
45 In this period, and especially with the achievement of
democracy, the ANC had to put together teams at various levels to develop and
implement policies of a democratic governance. Without much formal training,
these cadres have over the years acquitted themselves well in defining the
constitutional framework, developing and implementing legislation and programmes
for transformation, and building a state with the capacity to serve the people.
46 The Youth and Women's Leagues have also served as critical
schools of the revolution and a source of cadres who are continually assuming
leadership positions within the ANC. So have many other formations allied to the
movement, including COSATU, the revolutionary student movement, civic
associations, religious structures, the women's movement and some professional
bodies. Further, it should be emphasised that, even if they may not be elected
as a formal part of ANC leadership structures, leaders of these mass formations
who are members of the ANC are also, in their own right, ANC leaders.
What are the negatives challenges that have emerged in the new
47 Entry into government meant that a great many cadres of the
movement moved en masse from full-time organisational work. This was a necessary
shift arising from the victories we had scored. However, this was not done in a
planned manner. As a result, for the first few years, there were virtually no
senior leaders of the ANC based at its headquarters. This had a negative impact
on the task of mass organisation. While progress has been made in this regard,
further work needs to be done to ensure that ANC structures operate as an
organisational and political centre for everything the ANC does.
48 Because leadership in structures of the ANC affords
opportunities to assume positions of authority in government, some individuals
then compete for ANC leadership positions in order to get into government. Many
such members view positions in government as a source of material riches for
themselves. Thus resources, prestige and authority of government positions
become the driving force in competition for leadership positions in the ANC.
49 Government positions also go hand-in-hand with the
possibility to issue contracts to commercial companies. Some of these companies
identify ANC members that they can promote in ANC structures and into
government, so that they can get contracts by hook or by crook. This is done
through media networks to discredit other leaders, or even by buying membership
cards to set up branches that are ANC only in name.
50 Positions in government also mean the possibility to appoint
individuals in all kinds of capacities. As such, some members make promises to
friends, that once elected and ensconced in government, they would return the
favour. Cliques and factions then emerge within the movement, around personal
loyalties driven by corrupt intentions. Members become voting fodder to serve
51 Media focus on government and the ANC as a ruling party also
means that individuals appointed into various positions are able to acquire a
public profile in the course of their work. As such, over time, they become the
visible members who would get nominated for leadership positions. This is a
natural expression of confidence and helps to widen the base from which leaders
are elected. However, where such practice becomes the main and only criterion,
hard-working individuals who do not enjoy such profile get overlooked.
52 Influenced by a culture alien to the ANC, a tendency has also
developed to assess individuals totally outside of the political context which
is the core mandate of the ANC. Artificial criteria such as acceptability to the
media, eloquence specifically in English, and warped notions of
"sophistication" are then imposed on the movement's approach.
53 Further, false categories of "left" and
"right", pro-this and anti-the-other, "insider" and
"outsider" are introduced by so-called analysts with little, if any,
understanding of the movement's policies, programmes and culture. These are then
accepted by some of our members. This is usually whispered outside formal
structures, and bandied about opportunistically in the build-up to the
54 The process of social transformation is a difficult one, with
possibilities of committing mistakes from time to time and with the speed of
change not totally dependent on our will. Some individuals exploit these
weaknesses by creating an impression that they could do what the ANC leadership
as a whole is unable to do. Thus is born populism.
55 Related to the above is the danger arising out of the fact
that executive positions in government are by appointment. This can have the
effect of stifling frank, honest and self-critical debate within the ranks of
the movement. This is because some individuals may convince themselves that, by
pretending to be what they are not, and being seen to agree with those in
authority all the time, they would then be rewarded with appointment into senior
56 On the other hand, others seek to court popularity by
demonstrating "independence" from constitutional structures and senior
leaders of the ANC, for its own sake. Often, this is encouraged by some media
and other forces opposed to the ANC, precisely because it means independence
from the mission and discipline of the movement.
57 The tendency is also developing for discussion around
leadership nominations to be reduced to mechanical deal-making among branches,
regions and provinces. Thus, instead of having thorough and honest discussion
about the qualities of nominees, delegates negotiate merely on the basis of,
"if you take ours, we'll take yours". This may assist in ensuring
provincial and regional balances. But, taken to extremes, it can result in
federalism by stealth within the movement.
How do members take charge?
58 The selection and election of leaders should reside firmly in
the hands of the membership. This can only happen if there is open and frank
discussion on these issues in formal structures of the movement. Quiet and
secret lobbying opens the movement to opportunism and even infiltration by
forces hostile to the ANC's objectives.
59 Such discussion should be informed by the critical policy and
programmatic issues that face us in each phase of struggle. To recapitulate,
this stage can be characterised as one of a continuing transition and the
beginnings of faster transformation. It is a stage at which we are faced with
the challenge of mobilising the people to ensure that they take part in
improving their lives for the better. We are also faced with the task of
decisively contributing to the mobilisation of Africa and the world for focussed
attention on the needs of Africa and the poor across the globe.
60 In debating the composition of leadership collectives, we
should take into account such factors as the various historical experiences of
movement cadres. We also have to ensure that sufficient skills are harnessed for
the task of governance. The contribution of veterans of the struggle in
leadership structures at various levels is also a critical element to ensure
continuity and the wisdom of experience.
61 In a modernising world, and to sustain the movement in the
long-term, we should systematically and consciously take more and more young
people into the blast furnace of leadership responsibility. We should, broadly,
also ensure race, gender and geographic balances, without reducing this to
bean-counting and hair-splitting. And a correct balance must be struck between
leaders in government and those in ANC and other mass formations outside
62 How do members come to know of cadres with such qualities
beyond those who are already in public office? The overriding requirement is
that members should inform themselves of developments in their locality, in the
regions, the province and at national level. In selecting cadres for branch and
perhaps regional leadership, this should be much easier. Other levels will
require exchange of views in inter-regional and inter-provincial meetings.
63 But it also means that leadership structures should help give
guidance -be they structures of the ANC itself, or the Women and Youth Leagues.
Further, the manner in which deployment is carried out should expose cadres with
potential to the widest possible base of membership. .
How 'natural' is the selection process?
64 How then does selection of candidates happen? Is it a
"natural" process where leaders emerge out of some mysterious
selection, or is it a conscious act on the part of members? Should members
canvass for those they support and/or should individuals promote themselves? Is
there a place for lobbying in the ANC?
65 To answer these questions, let us go back to the basics. In
the first instance, the ANC constitution asserts the right for individuals to
stand for and be elected into formal positions of responsibility. But waving a
constitution does not excuse unbecoming conduct. Thus, we need to understand and
follow the constitution; but also to learn from the movement's culture while
adapting that culture to current realities.
66 Members are not discouraged from canvassing for those they
support. And, technically, an individual is not prohibited from canvassing for
him-/herself. But it is a matter of profound cultural practice within the ANC
that individuals do not promote or canvass for themselves. Historically, this
has justifiably been frowned upon as being in bad revolutionary taste. One of
the main reasons for this is that when cadres of the movement do their work,
this is not meant to be with an eye on leadership positions or some other
personal reward; but to serve the people. When cadres are not in formal
leadership positions, they should not will others to fail, but assist everyone
in the interest of fundamental change.
67 Selecting candidates and ultimately electing leaders is not
like the "natural selection" of evolution where things develop by
chance. It must be a conscious and well-considered act on the part of each ANC
member. But how should this be done? What issues should you, the member, take
into account when the nomination and election process unfolds?
68 Nominations take place at constitutional structures such as
branch AGM's and regional, provincial and national conferences. Individual
members nominate their candidates at these meetings on the basis of an
assessment of candidates' qualities and performance. However, declaration of
support for a person, or of a willingness to stand, does not guarantee that one
would be a candidate. You become a candidate after the proposal has been
accepted by a branch or any other relevant constitutional structure.
69 Nomination and canvassing must be done openly, and within
constitutional structures of the movement. If a member wishes to nominate a
candidate or to stand for a particular position, s/he must indicate this in
formal structures such as branch meetings. Outside these structures, it becomes
dangerous and unacceptable lobbying.
70 In open engagement within constitutional structures, the
member(s) would then motivate why they believe that a particular person would
make a significant contribution to the work of the ANC at the various levels.
They would also be able to indicate the new and creative things that nominees
would bring to leadership collectives. If the nominees have been members of
these or other collectives, it should also be shown that they have striven to
improve the work of these collectives, raised issues openly and had the courage
of their convictions. It does not help for individuals to keep quiet in formal
structures and emerge as surprise leaders with the promise to perform better.
71 If they believe that there are weaknesses to correct, those
who nominate or wish to stand should be able to show that those weaknesses are
real and not the imagination of the media or forces which want to weaken the
ANC. They should also show that the weaknesses are those of individuals they
seek to replace, and not a result of the objective situation in which the
movement finds itself. This would help contain a litany of false promises.
72 It is also critical that individuals whose names are advanced
reflect consistency in their work to pursue the ANC's interests. Individuals who
target positions of influence and leave when they lose; and then seek to come
back only as leaders would have to show how this serves the interests of the
movement, and whether they can be relied upon during difficult times.
73 Inasmuch as we should avoid pretenders and opportunists, we
should also ensure that leadership structures do not carry deadwood. If they are
already serving in these structures, or have served in the past, leaders should
be assessed on how their presence helped the movement in its work. Further, it
should be clear how their presence in these structures would help ensure the
balances that are required for the movement to fulfil its mission.
74 Individuals who operate in the dead of the night, convening
secret meetings and speaking poorly of other members should be exposed and
isolated. When approached to be part of such groups, members should relay such
information to relevant structures or individuals in whom they have confidence.
But it is also critical that proper investigations are conducted, and those
accused are informed. Witch-hunts should be avoided as a matter of principle.
75 There is nothing inherently wrong with structures developing
lists of candidates and canvassing for them. However, such lists should not be
used to stifle discussion in branch and other constitutional forums, and prevent
the nomination of other candidates. In discussions around nominees, names on the
lists should not take precedence over any other nominations from members. At the
conferences, delegates should be guided by lists developed by their branches,
regions and provinces through democratic processes. But they are not bound to
follow each and every name. Being influenced by delegates from other areas and
choosing differently is not an offence.
Through the eye of a needle?
76 These guidelines indicate the broad parameters within which
every member of the ANC should exercise his/her right to shape the leadership
collectives of the movement and ensure that it meets its historical mandate. In
one sense they make it difficult for individuals to ascend to positions of
leadership in the organisation.
77 In applying these broad principles, members need to be firm.
But we should also exercise creative flexibility, knowing that no single
individual is perfect. Indeed there are many who may have potential but would
not meet all the requirements set out here. But it is critical that they are
honest about their capacity, and show a willingness to learn.
78 There are many members of the ANC who enjoy great respect
within their communities, but still have to grasp the complex matters of policy.
Such individuals should be encouraged to avail themselves for leadership
positions. They should however be prepared to develop themselves and to take
part in relevant training sessions.
79 It is a matter of principle, revolutionary democratic
practice, and a constitutional requirement that, once duly elected, the leaders
should be accepted by all members as leaders of the movement as a whole at the
relevant level. They should be assisted by all of us in their work. The leaders
themselves are obliged to serve, and to listen to, all members, including those
who may not have voted for them.
80 The most important message of these guidelines is that you,
the member, should be empowered to take an active and informed part in choosing
leadership at various levels; or to stand for any position for which you believe
you are suitable.
81 So, it may not exactly be through the eye of a needle. But we
should strive all the time to ensure that our leaders are indeed made of sterner
Umrabulo Series on Building the South African Women's
Part 2: Towards a movement for transformation of gender
and the achievement of gender equality
By Thenjiwe Mtintso
This paper is the continuing conversation begun in Umrabulo 10,
exploring matters related to the challenges facing South Africans in the
struggle for gender equality. It tries to raise questions about what is glibly
called the Women's Movement.
An argument is made for a focus on a broad movement for the
transformation of gender relations that will embrace different kinds of women's
movements, involve both women and men operating as an integral part of the
broader movement for transformation in South Africa.
It is further argued that the struggle for gender equality has
always been part and parcel, though not a by-product, of the struggle for
national liberation in South Africa. Women's organisations and the women's
movement have also been an essential part, but not subordinates of the broader
national liberation movement.
The Mass Movement pre-1994
The women's movement, like all social movements, goes through
high waves and ebbs defined by the changing moments in history. It, like the
social movement that it is part of, expresses concerns, aspirations and needs of
different sectors of women in society. It is therefore not an expression of a
homogenous group of women with universal interests.
In South Africa there have always been strong women's movements
(not one) expressing the different aspirations of women defined by amongst
others, their class, race and geographic location. These did not always act as
one movement primarily because of their immediate needs and primary demands,
different forms of organisations and different methods of organising and
However, prior to 1994 and particularly in the 80s there was a
convergence of aspirations - the defeat of apartheid and creation of a
democratic, non-sexist South Africa. The 80s were a period of heightened mass
mobilisation and mass activism with different organisations springing up,
engaging in different sectors, but united under what became known as the Mass
Democratic Movement (MDM), a massive movement for the overthrow of apartheid. At
the centre of this mass activism and MDM was the women's activism expressed in
different organisations and engaging a range of issues, emerging as a coherent
and cohesive movement through united action. There was indeed no issue that did
not warrant collective action from organised women. Our streets were
battlegrounds for women and mass struggles. These women's actions were not in
isolation from the general mass struggles but while they were integrated within
these, there was also a specialised focus on women's struggles particularly
around gender related demands. These were led by a variety of organisations -
ranging from women's groups demanding access to services through to feminist
kinds of organisations addressing both matters of access to basic services for
women and qualitative changes in power relations between women and men in
While there were no universal women's interests, there was some
kind of "sisterhood" experienced through united action across class,
race and any other divides. The political context and environment created
conditions for a coherent and cohesive movement mainly amongst the progressive
forces though expressed in different organisations.
The changed and changing landscape
The 90s ushered in a new era in our history - exciting and
complex. Many organisations in the MDM were dissolved and incorporated within
the ANC. The Congress inclined women's organisations were integrated into the
ANCWL. Whether or not this was the best route to take at the time is a topic for
What is clear is that not enough analysis and preparation was
done for this process if the Port Elizabeth tension-filled women's conference is
anything to go by. Perhaps because of the challenges of the time, insufficient
evaluation was done about the implications of the dissolution of so many
organisations, the state of the women's movement and the challenges that would
face it in the new context. There may also have been less exploration of the
capacity and limitations of a politically defined and aligned organisation like
the ANCWL to play the role of an all embracing women's organisation mobilising
even beyond the traditional ANC base.
With the luxury of hindsight and the urgency to learn from the
past, we may ask if we did not overestimate the gender consciousness of both
women and men in the national liberation movement that would enable them to
understand the dynamics of patriarchy and how to fight against it in the absence
of some of these organised women's formations. But the critical role played by
the ANCWL as well as its vision in the formation of the WNC helped in the
mobilisation and articulation of the women's interests in the transition to
democracy. The disbanding of organisations did not lead to demobilisation of
gender activism. Umrabulo 10 has adequately dealt with the transition period and
the prevailing conditions.
The contradictions of the shift from mass mobilisation against a
repressive regime to building a new democratic State and society brings its own
challenges and even threats. The State is an important instrument for
transforming power relations in society including gender relations, but is also
patriarchal and needs to be transformed. Patriarchy - the system and ideology of
the domination of women by men - permeates all spheres of life and is extremely
resilient particularly because of its character and manifestations.
The revolutionary gains since 1994
Different reports from within and outside government have
catalogued the revolutionary gains made since 1994 in relation to changing the
lives of South Africans the majority of whom are black and are women. This paper
will not attempt to trace all these. Suffice it is to mention:-
Constitutional - Clause 9 of the Constitution in the Bill of
Rights guarantees equal rights for all South Africans, elaborates on all of
these and makes guarantees for legislative measures for promotion and
protection of these. It also stipulates that neither the state nor any
individual can discriminate against anyone on the basis of amongst others
sex and gender. Affirmative action measures and the protection of
disadvantaged groups are called for. All these and many others are a clear
Constitutional commitment to gender equality.
Legislative - A body of laws including the Maintenance Act,
the Domestic Violence Act and the Choice on the Termination of Pregnancy Act
have been passed which are the cornerstones for gender equality. Besides
such gender specific Acts others such as Employment Equity, Promotion of
Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination, Land Bank Amendment Acts,
amongst others, have positively impacted on the lives of women. Without
doubt we have made great strides within a very short time to advance towards
the achievement of legislative equality between women and men.
Institutional - The establishment of the Office on the
Status of Women (OSW) strategically located in the President's Office at the
national level and in the Premiers' Offices at provincial level; gender
units in all government departments; the Parliamentary Committee on the
Improvement of the Quality of Life and Status of Women (CIQLSW); the Women's
Empowerment Unit (WEU); the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) is the route
towards the institutionalisation of gender equality. Similar structures are
being mooted at municipal levels.
International - South Africa is a signatory to international
conventions and agreements such as the Convention for the Elimination of all
forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for
Action (BPFA) to count a few. Reports confirm the strides that have been
made in implementing these commitments.
Access - The fact that 29.8% of members of parliament are
women and that women now make up 38.09% of Ministers and Deputy Ministers
ensures access and substantive participation of women in decision making
processes at the highest level.
Transformation of gender relations: The constitutional,
legislative and institutional gains as well as access and participation
creates an environment and conditions for transformation. Transformation is
to a large extent taking place both at the practical and strategic gender
needs levels, e.g. access to basic services such as water, electricity,
health improves the quality of life of women. Women are beginning to regain
their dignity and taking responsibility for their lives and societal
patriarchal attitudes are beginning to change as evidenced by, for example,
the growing anger towards violence against women. In the private sector and
in civil society women are making their mark and gaining recognition thus
shifting the patriarchal mindsets and changing the stereotypes. There are,
in general, painfully slow strides towards changing the power relations
between women and men. Needless to say there is still a "long
walk" to gender equality but the initial steps have been taken.
However, the above and many other gains are also accompanied by
tensions, setbacks and threats to the very agenda of transforming gender
relations. The new context meant that there was a shift towards political
parties in society and redefinition of identities. Political centredness and
political identities re-emerged. The women's movement and its agenda were
affected by this strong political centredness. Women's interests were
articulated through the political parties' policies.
Diversity and difference tended to supersede commonalities in
the parliamentary sphere - after all these women had been elected on a party
ticket and not on a "women's" ticket. Their allegiance and
accountability was first and foremost to their political parties. What had
always been understood if not always articulated that there were no universal
"women's interests" that could be represented by "women",
Access and participation of a large number of women in
parliament is an achievement that put South Africa as number 10 out of the 130
parliaments in the World in terms of the women's advancement in governance. The
unintended consequence of the movement into parliament may have been the
weakening of our structures in the Alliance and especially the ANCWL at
Perhaps not enough planning was done to ensure that the
organisations were not denuded of experienced and skilled cadres. We perhaps
also did not politically groom a younger generation that would inject new life
into gender activism as well as reach out to where we could not reach because of
our deployment in parliament. As a result the ANCWL leadership is spread very
thinly and that impacts negatively on its capacity to play its leadership role
in the gender movement. The Alliance as a whole is not sufficiently playing its
role as the core of this movement. What gender activists both in and outside
parliament have also bemoaned is the weakening of structured relations between
those gender activists in parliament and government and those outside. And yet,
experience elsewhere has shown the importance of links between all gender
activists and a strong gender movement engaging on all fronts.
Academic feminists and gender activists also began to withdraw
into their areas of expertise. Some of them seemed to be suspicious of the
capability of the state to transform gender relations. A section of this group
seems to be wondering if the gender activists in parliament/government were not
absorbed into the patriarchal system.
Many feminist activists acted as if unsure of the role that they
can play in a democratic society. And yet some gender activists in parliament
especially women, in their day-to-day operation seemed to sometimes forget the
gender agenda. In some instances and from a distance, mainstreaming the gender
agenda seems more like "male streaming" the agenda. Of course lack of
direct engagement between the activists does not help to clarify the dynamics of
governance and the complexity of mainstreaming gender into the overall
Women - especially black women - in the private sector, thanks
to the relatively gender sensitive laws and environment, are painstakingly
crawling up the corporate ladder. However, patriarchy seems to be so embedded in
that sphere that, from a distance, it seems that these women find it difficult
to challenge the male definition, values and practice of corporate power.
The context, demands and challenges of our times make it
difficult for gender activists located in the various spheres to connect,
interact and create effective linkages for the gender agenda. The "them and
us" divide seems to be dangerously lurking in the margins of the Women's
There has also been a weakness in our ability to theorise about
and engage in current discourse on gender and feminism especially in developing
societies and within the notions of globalisation.
There is also relative dependency on a democratic State and its
machinery e.g. tendency for society to expect state or government to deliver.
This dependency was in other sectors coupled with a kind of demobilisation or
role confusion of organs of civil society. Whereas these sectors had previously
been used to antagonistic contradictions within the state and government, they
were to some extent confused as to what role they could play in a democratic
society. The women's movement is part of that role confusion and relative
There is, especially after the semi-collapse of the WNC, a
decline and fragmentation of the women's movement. But this must not be mistaken
for the collapse of women's activism around gender related issues. We have to
understand that new centres and micro-organisations with a degree of
specialisation and professionalism have emerged. For instance, there is growth
of organisations and networks such as the Network against Violence against Women
and interesting new organisations such as Men for Change that focus on
counselling abusive men and fighting against violence against women, Agisanang
Domestic Abuse Prevention and Training (ADAPT) also working with men, GETNET
working with both women and men in gender and many others.
Women in our localities - the rural areas and townships,
especially those referred to as "grassroots women" continue to
mobilise and organise especially around their economic and socio-political
Though there may be lack of coordination, cohesiveness and
coherency, women and indeed gender activists are organised and organising
towards gender equality even though some of them may not define their objectives
in those terms. The women's movement of the past, due to the current conditions,
may have been broken down to its components which are issue- or sector-based.
This in itself is not bad, but needs a better understanding of
how the different struggles can and should be effectively and efficiently woven,
not necessarily in structural forms but in action, to a coherent and vibrant mov
ement. The importance and power of a movement lies in its ability to unite
different sectors in a manner that utilises their strength for them to make an
impact and bring about change.
At present, while women and gender activists are on the move and
indeed making change, they are not putting their strength to optimum effect
because of the lack of coordination. This is not peculiar only to the Women's
Movement but is prevalent amongst the democratic forces or 'MDM". The
Women's Movements can be presented in a kind of a continuum with two ends with
pliable boundaries that allow for movement between and amongst these.
While it is critical that we organise and mobilise independently
wherever we are and around our issues, it is also crucial that the bigger
picture must not be sacrificed at the altar of the micro level.
Towards a Broad Movement for transformation of gender relations
Perhaps now is the moment to reassess and take stock of where we are. The
challenges facing us in our transformation agenda demand nothing less. Both the
positive and negative developments are indicative of a movement forward and the
need for mass activism and a broad movement for transformation of gender
The objective of such a movement would, amongst others, be to:-
eradicate the oppression, suppression and subordination of
women and create a non-sexist society
break down patriarchy as a system based on and reinforcing
the ideology, practices, values, culture, stereotypes and all the
manifestations of the unequal power relations between women and men
redefine and reorient all socialisation institutions in
society starting with the family as agents responsible for creating the new
person with real non-sexist values.
With such a focus we would be able to understand that the above
agenda is not for and by women alone. Also, that there are different strands of
women's movements defined by amongst others the aspirations, diversity of needs,
interests, issues, methods and organisations. It would not propagate for
artificial sisterhood and yet would manage to cut across dividing constructs
such as race and class.
It would be informed by a theory that understands the
intersection of amongst others class, race and gender, the relationship and
interdependence of practical gender needs and strategic gender needs and how one
cannot be won without the other. It would also understand that the struggle for
non-sexism is not and cannot be outside the class and national struggles. It
would be able to, in action find common vision, objectives and programmes around
which united action would occur. It would thus be firmly located within the
broader struggles and the movement for transformation in South Africa.
Such a movement would not necessarily be launched or formed but
would be organic emerging from below and from the experiences and struggles for
gender equality. Such a movement would be based on the understanding that that
patriarchy is not amenable to simplistic solutions. That continued fragmentation
of our struggles against patriarchy will in the long run lead to the withering
away of the gender movement and the defeat of the transformation agenda.
The driving force behind such a movement would of course be the
Alliance with its understanding of the relationship between the national, class
and gender struggles, its record and commitment to struggle and above all its
historic mission to create a democratic, non-sexist and non-racial South Africa.
With such an approach networks such as a reorganised WNC could
perhaps play a meaningful role. It could, for instance become an
"enabler" using its resources located in its affiliates to empower the
less skilled women and their organisations so that they can speak for themselves
and participate effectively in changing their own lives.
For the above we need the politics of and commitment to
transformation. Such tools will enable us to have a clear vision and base from
which to move. An agenda and programme around which we unite will act as the
glue that will help bind us together. Trust and confidence in each other will
help to cement a national consensus on the above. That will also help us to
understand that there is no one with the monopoly to liberate us from backward
systems such as patriarchy. Of course without the will and ability to organise
and struggle we are unlikely to progress far in achieving whatever shining
vision we have of a non-sexist society.
Good governance needs an effective parliament
By Firoz Cachalia
The idea of a "People's Parliament" has been at the
centre of the ANC's political vision. But what this might mean in specific
institutional terms has received little attention in our publications and
conferences. The result has been that the views of our parliamentary opponents,
and academic and media critics has tended to dominate public debate. And the
contribution that Parliament/Legislatures could make to the achievement of the
objectives of our movement has not been thought through.
Recent events in the National Parliament, particularly its
Public Accounts and Ethics Committees, make this task all the more urgent. Since
one of the functions of Parliament/Legislatures is to create and sustain a
government, actions which undermine Parliament/Legislatures, undermine the
authority of the government in the long term, making it more difficult to
mobilise support for its decisions.
My point of departure is that good governance, and the
realisation of the ANC's political project depends on the development of a
"strong" Parliament/Legislatures. This so because Parliament/
Legislatures play a crucial role in identifying the needs of the people,
articulating their experiences and views and thus in determining the national
political agenda. As "oversight bodies", they help identify problems
of policy failure that require attention and help in overcoming bureaucratic
In this regard, I will make two preliminary points. Firstly,
building a strong Parliament/Legislatures will depend on the ANC as the
governing party taking a long term view on the decision making structures and
management systems that are appropriate for a "People's Parliament".
Reactions to immediate political pressures and considerations of short term
political advantage should not be at the expense of long term goals. Secondly,
building a strong Parliament/ Legislatures should be approached in the spirit of
what Roberto Unger, the Brazilian social activist and intellectual has called
"democratic experimentalism". The institutions of a constitutional
democracy, including representative bodies have widely come to be regarded as
fundamental. But they should be regarded as a point of departure, not the end
point of the project of building a democratic, socially just and humane society.
Representative democracies, in Unger' words "can assume many different
institutional forms, with radically different consequences for society". We
should therefore constantly be thinking about how our Parliament/ Legislatures
should be designed as institutions to reflect our people's ideals and interests.
Strengthening Parliament in a parliamentary system
Most theorists of transition would agree that the framers of our
Constitution were correct to choose a parliamentary, as opposed to a
presidential system of democratic government. Such systems, together with
proportional representation, tend to produce inclusive government, as opposed to
"winner takes all" outcomes common in presidential systems, and is
therefore conducive to the consolidation of democracy in societies with a recent
history of conflict.
Since the political majority in parliament also controls the
government, the Executive and the Legislature are 'fused' and the likelihood of
conflict between the two branches of government, common in American type systems
based on a clearer separation of powers, is reduced. Party discipline ensures
that the governing majority acts cohesively. These characteristics of
parliamentary systems facilitate the translation of the objectives of the
electoral majority into government decisions and the effective exercise of
Parliamentary systems tend however, also to produce an imbalance
in the relationship between the Executive and Parliament/Legislatures and a
subordination of the internal workings of Parliament/ Legislatures to the
requirements of the government. This is so because the members on whose support
the government is dependent to sustain it in office, and who are subject to
party discipline, are at the same time required to subject the government to
critical scrutiny. This can lead to a weakening of Parliament/Legislatures
investigative and oversight roles and to less transparent, accountable and
The weakening of Parliament/legislature(s) tendency evident in
parliamentary systems is by no means inevitable. In fact, a range of 'types' of
parliament - ranging from 'rubberstamp' parliaments through 'arena' type
parliaments to more transformative representatives bodies appear in
parliamentary systems. The German Bundestag for instance, plays a critically
important role in relation to both government legislation and the budget.
Contextual factors like the orientation of the leadership and membership of the
governing party, relationships within and between parties and the resources
available to Parliament/legislature(s), etc will have an impact.
In South Africa, the character of the governing party as a
liberation movement committed to democracy and the presence of a large number of
talented, idealistic and influential leaders in both branches of government
immediately after the establishment of democracy, ensured an initial
strengthening of the representative branch of government. But in the long term,
as the composition of the governing party undergoes some inevitable change, and
the political leadership becomes more closely associated with the Executive, the
normal 'weakening' tendency in parliamentary systems may begin to prevail in the
absence of a clear ANC vision and conscious strategy to sustain the vitality of
the representative branch of government.
Some commentators suggest that the unusually strong position of
the governing party at present will reinforce this tendency. They fail to
appreciate that the strident, media-driven style of some opposition parties, and
their narrow emphasis on the role of Parliament/legislature(s) as a 'check' and
'limit' on the authority of the Executive, are important factors limiting the
capacity of parliament to play a role in promoting not only accountability and
good governance, but service delivery and development. C E S Frank for instance,
maintains "parliament is far from a negligible tool... But the present
processes of policy-making place an unnatural and heavy burden on it.
Confrontation and conflict, posturing for the media, oversimplification and
trivialisation... The subordination of every aspect of parliaments or approach
to the legislative process to the demands of partisan warfare, all follow from
parliament's strange role".
Question period for instance has the important function of
providing parliament with information which will enable parliament to play a
role in promoting accountability and service delivery. Therefore, MPs/MPLs who
have been elected to support the government should be willing to question the
government on behalf of their party and the electorate. However, many are not
sure that this would be appropriate. And the opposition approaches question
period with a view to short-term tactical advantage. As Sir Michael Quinlan told
the Scott Commission of Inquiry, the activity of giving and seeking information
in parliament, has become, "in a certain sense analogous to a game... in
the sense that it is a competitive activity conducted within rules largely for a
purpose different from that of its apparent form". While the form is to
bring information into the public domain, the prime purpose is on the one hand
"to give the government a hard time". And on the other "for the
government to avoid having a hard time". The "opposition will seek to
extract information which they can use to portray the government in a bad light:
and they will... feel free thereafter to exploit the information, if necessary
selectively and tendentiously, to that end. The government for its part will be
reluctant to disclose information of a kind, or in a form that will help the
opposition to do so". The so called "strong opposition", which
judges its efficacy by the number of embarrassing questions it asks, thus
promotes a politics of "smoke and mirrors" and erodes the capacity of
Parliament/legislature(s) to deal constructively with the problems our society
Whatever the causes of this potential weakening, I would argue
that the ANC should to be committed to maintaining and strengthening the
representative branches of government, since the idea of a 'strong'
Parliament/legislature(s) is consistent with notions of democracy implicit in
ANC traditions as well as in contemporary notions of good governance. This later
aspect is of critical importance since it helps to position the ANC clearly in
the context of global cultural and political trends and improves the
attractiveness of South Africa as a destination for foreign direct investment.
Furthermore, 'strong' Parliaments/legislature(s) draw on the talents, energies
and expertise of all deployees to government, whereas 'weak'
Parliaments/legislature(s) tend to encourage passivity and inaction among
Parliamentary strengthening comes in many guises depending on
the objectives it is intended to serve. For instance, it may aim at enhancing
the 'effectiveness' of the opposition or at strengthening the capacity of
private members to initiate legislation. Institutional innovation in the design
Parliament/Legislatures aimed at strengthening the representative branch of
government, which inspired by the ANC's perspectives should, I believe, satisfy
the following criteria:
It should not be counter-posed to Executive authority.
Indeed as members of the governing party we ought crucially to be interested
in encouraging measures which enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of
the Executive, which promote the capacity of ministers to direct the
It should respect the limits of the parliamentary system.
Not only will innovation which does not do so fail, but risks jettisoning
the desirable features of parliamentary systems.
It should promote good governance, accountability and
It should promote development, service delivery and enhance
the overall performance of government.
I do not intend in this paper to set out a comprehensive and
detailed programme of institutional innovation. I will put forward only
embryonic ideas and suggest some pointers in the hope that this will stimulate
creative thinking in our movement on these issues.
Representative bodies form the central pillar of democratic
government. Through our system of cooperative governance incorporating
Provincial Legislatures and the electoral system based on proportionality, the
framers of our Constitution sought to reinforce representation and inclusivity.
This aspect of our system helps to contain conflict by encouraging an expression
of societal differences within rather than against institutions, to create a
stable framework in which the governing party can govern and to sustain
democracy in a complex and diverse society.
But the rituals associated with parliamentary politics and the
class, gender, and racial inequalities in our society tend to demobilise popular
participation in politics. It is therefore necessary to take positive steps to
overcome obstacles to participation.
Participatory democracy is sometimes counter-posed to
representative government. But strategies to improve public participation can
also be thought of as reinforcing and strengthening representative government -
by providing public representatives with information they would not otherwise
have but which is necessary for effective and responsive decision-making.
Strategies to facilitate and promote public participation are also critical in
ensuring the participation of marginalised and under-resourced constituencies in
decision-making by representative bodies. In the absence of special measures,
public decision-making is also vulnerable to 'capture' by special interests.
Gauteng has established a Public Participation and Petitions
Office separate from the Information and Communication Directorate, with
dedicated staff and budget and with a mandate to promote public participation by
marginalised constituencies. The office has engaged in an extensive public
education programme and has worked effectively with the committee section to
promote public participation in committee hearings.
The Legislature has also pioneered a petitions procedure which
gives effect to the constitutional right to the petition. A Petitions Committee
(a kind of parliamentary Ombud) has been established, which provides citizens
with a cheap form of administrative justice (to challenge termination of a grant
for instance) and with a surrogate form of constituency representation (since
constituents are able, whether or not their deployed representative is working,
to raise matters directly with the Legislature). Both the rules and the
petitions law that has been adopted, place a positive obligation on the
Legislature to assist those who may be unable to petition (for reasons of
illiteracy, for instance).
The content of the petitions indicates that some marginalised
and unresourced constituencies are aware of the procedure and are using it. The
petitions office has received petitions relating to a wide variety of matters
including, applications for disability grants, pensions, dependants of
prisoners, complaints of inaction by a Town Treasurer, inaction by the legal aid
board, inaction by the Soweto City Council, provision of housing in an informal
settlement in Centurion, evictions in Lanseria, a proposed road in Thokoza, the
Land Restitution process, complaints by inner city tenants, forced removal of
tenants from an informal settlement, corruption by Town Council officials and
evictions in Chiawelo.
The ANC should perhaps think about establishing a petitions
committee in the National Parliament.
One of the more important roles of Parliament/ Legislatures is
as bodies which exercise scrutiny and oversight over the Executive. The
dominant, 'traditional' model of parliamentary oversight emphasises the
"separation of powers" and "checks and balances". While not
entirely displacing this paradigm, oversight could also be thought of as a way
of promoting cooperation between the Executive and Parliament/legislature(s) and
in this way contributing to accelerated service delivery. In the words of the
report on oversight commissioned by national parliament (Corder et al):
"The oversight role is often seen as that of opposition parties alone,
designed to police and expose maladministration and corruption. Such a view is
limited and deficient.
Oversight and accountability helps to ensure the Executive
implements laws in a way required by the Legislature and the dictates of the
Constitution. The legislature is in this way able to keep control over the laws
that it passes and to promote the constitutional values of accountability and
good governance. Thus oversight must be seen as one of the central tenets of our
democracy because through it the legislature can ensure that the Executive is
carrying out its mandates, monitor the implementation of its legislative policy
and draw on these experiences for future law-making. Through it we can ensure
Seen in this light the oversight function of the legislature
compliments rather than hampers the effective delivery of services with which
the Executive is entrusted". The ANC and the government should therefore be
committed to reinforcing the scrutiny functions of the representative branch of
It is important here to be a little more specific. The question
is how, through their oversight function, can committees contribute to enhancing
service delivery? The traditional oversight/accountability model is a form of
compliance auditing. Its raison d'etre is the discovery of error. But a delivery
enhancing concept of oversight should primarily be aimed at identifying the
systemic causes of policy failure by monitoring the implementation of policy and
programmes. Committees have to have the requisite resources, information and
expertise to assume the role of monitoring in the policy cycle.
The relevant Standing Committees could also consider developing
a set of performance monitoring criteria (e.g. socio-economic indicators like
infant mortality rates, access to potable water, nutritional status) to monitor
whether the government's poverty alleviation programmes are working with a view
to improving their implementation. The Gauteng Legislature is currently
examining ways of enhancing the capacity of Standing Committees to monitor
expenditure and programme results.
It is off course arguable that monitoring could just as easily
be the responsibility of departments. Perhaps it should be a 'shared'
responsibility. But civil servants are hardly always the best judges of the
efficacy of their own ideas. A role for parliament in the monitoring of the
implementation of policy may in fact enhance overall performance of government.
C. The Executive, Parliament and Ministerial
In Parliamentary systems, the constitutional lodestar of
accountability is the doctrine of Ministerial accountability. The South African
Constitution creates a Parliamentary Executive which is accountable to
Section 92(2) provides that "members of the Cabinet are
accountable individually and collectively to Parliament". Section 92(3)(b),
requires Ministers to provide Parliament "with full and regular reports
concerning matters under their control". Section 102 subjects the
continuation of government to the will of Parliament.
But the application of this doctrine of Ministerial
responsibility in different situations is not always clear. These are matters
which require debate within the ANC.
The traditional approach to Executive accountability to the
Legislature assumes, at least in theory, that Ministers alone exercise the
powers of executive government and can be called to account both for their own
acts and for those done on their behalf. Civil servants on the other hand, have
no direct responsibility to Parliament.
It is arguable that the traditional doctrine's refusal to allow
a distinction between political and managerial responsibility, does not accord
with the realities of modern government, discourages frankness and candour on
the part of Ministers, and is inconsistent with public sector reforms. The
Public Finance Management Act for instance, draws a clear distinction between
the accountability of "executive authorities" (Ministers) and
"Accounting Officers" (Heads of Departments).
Opposition parties tend to rely on the traditional conception of
Ministerial accountability. Ministers are routinely called upon to resign
whenever things go wrong. I think the ANC should emphasise more modern notions
of accountability, which do not jettison the element of resignation for
malfeasance, but shifts the emphasis from the apportionment of blame to the
obligation to provide accurate information to the House and the correction of
Strategically, such a paradigm shift would locate the ANC
clearly in the new thinking on accountability, defuse unproductive political
pressures on individual ministers and enhance both the accountability of the
Executive to Parliament/legislature(s) and the effectiveness of these bodies. In
addition, the traditional conception of accountability assumes that Ministers
but not civil servants are directly accountable to Parliament/legislature(s). It
is arguable that the "new accountability" should require direct
accountability of civil servants to Parliament/Legislatures. Again, this could
have the effect of improving overall performance. Fears that this approach could
lead to tensions between ministers and their officials have generally not proved
to be well founded. Consideration should be given to taking the political
initiative on these issues at the appropriate time. A code of conduct for
ministers and civil servants setting out their responsibilities to
Parliament/legislature(s) could be considered as part of this ANC led
D. Strengthening the Governing Party in
The debate about the role of Caucuses has correctly concluded
that these structures are subordinate to the constitutional structures of the
ANC. But the role that caucuses play in governance has been neglected. I put
forward the following hypothesis: strong caucuses produce strong
Parliament/Legislatures and consequently contribute to effective governance:
conversely, weak caucuses produce weak Parliament/ Legislatures. Within
Parliament/Legislatures, caucuses play a critically important role in ensuring
party cohesion, discipline and unity, which are essential preconditions for
effective leadership by the governing party within Parliament/Legislatures.
Matters of Parliamentary strategy and tactics should be subject
to full and adequate discussion within caucus. Caucuses also play an important
role in monitoring the Executive. Caucuses should therefore be thought of as
collectives with decision-making responsibilities on political issues, as
opposed to merely administrative matters.
While caucuses have important responsibilities within
Parliament/Legislatures, these should not be carried out in a way which
subordinates the investigative responsibilities of Parliament/Legislatures.
E. Strengthening the Legislative Sector
The transition to democracy in South Africa produced a bicameral
national Parliament and nine Provincial Legislatures. Some of the Legislatures
had to be established from scratch. Others inherited parts of administrations
established under the previous order.
From their inception, newly established provincial Legislatures
in particular, faced many challenges. They had to draw their staff from a very
limited pool of skills, develop systems to manage their human resources and
budgets, establish committees with inexperienced members, adopt new Rules, etc.
It is not surprising therefore, that they show elements of
"weakness"- sit infrequently, pass little legislation, are dependent
on the Executive for information and their budget allocations, etc.
This "weakness" undermines the capacity of the ANC to
consolidate democracy, promote accountability, improve governance and accelerate
delivery. Development and transformation of the legislative sector must
therefore be one of the central strategic priorities of the ANC. The ANC has to
develop a vision, and take a long-term view of the development of legislatures
as institutions with an important if not a central role in our democracy.
F. The Politics of Parliamentary Strengthening
The "strong" Parliament model does pose some risk for
the governing party in an adversarial and politically contentious environment.
Nevertheless, I think that the emphasis on the constructive role of
Parliament/Legislatures will resonate with our own constituency, promote good
governance, strengthen the performance of the governing party in
Parliament/Legislatures and enhance service delivery. The government therefore
has an interest in Parliamentary strengthening and should support efforts aimed
in this direction. Parliamentary strengthening also requires a willingness to
cooperate across party lines on basic issues of institutional design.
This paper has argued that the ANC should explicitly seek to
promote a 'strong' Parliament/legislature(s) within the framework and limits of
a parliamentary system. This will help consolidate democracy, improve
governance, accelerate delivery, and position the ANC favourably in the global
Developing a 'strong' Parliament/legislature(s) involves
articulating an alternative conception of parliamentary politics, which
fundamentally unsettles the trivialising logic of "oppositionism".
Moreover and most important, the idea of strong Parliament/ Legislatures is
entirely consistent with and arguably required by our transformative political
A report on the 9th Congress of the Communist Party of
By Mandla Nkomfe and Smiso Nkwanyana
The Communist Party of Vietnam held its 9th National Congress
from 19-22, April 2001, in Hanoi, Vietnam. The main objectives of the congress
were to assess the 15 years of renewal that started in 1986, to examine the
international balance of forces and the role of Vietnam in it as well as the
challenges facing the Party organisationally, politically and ideologically. The
Congress covered the following themes;
- Vietnam in the 20th century;
- Current situation in the country in the last five years and
- the main lessons of the 15 years of renewal;
- Path to Socialism;
- Socio-economic development policy and strategy;
- Enhancing National Defence and Security;
- Promotion of Unity and Strength.
The Congress elected a central committee under the leadership of
the new General Secretary Cde Nong Duc Manh. The new central Committee consists
of a blend of older and new generation of cadres.
The history of Vietnam is indissolubly linked to the countries
of South East Asia. The colonial powers created what came to be known as
Indo-China. Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam constituted
this geo-political entity. The process of liberation started with the freeing of
North Vietnam. At the centre of the forces that overthrew the French and the
Japanese occupiers in August 1945 was the Communist Party under the leadership
of President Ho Chi Minh. The liberation of the North gave the revolutionary
forces a base from which to launch a protracted struggle to free the rest of the
To understand the history of Vietnam, we need to briefly go back
to its ancient past. The notion of Vietnam as a political entity came from its
early inhabitants. Vietnam is written in two words, Viet and Nam. Viet is the
name of an ethnic group and Nan means south. Therefore Vietnam means the people
of the south. It is a country south of China. The Vietnamese people are direct
descendants of inhabitants who were a cross between the Mongoloids who came down
from the north and the original Austronegroids.
The formation and the development of the Vietnamese as a nation
took place in the period of the first 1000 years. This was a period in which
their civilisation was blossoming. It was the era of the Bronze Age. The
Vietnamese as a nation pride themselves as inheritors of an ancient
civilisation. By the 10th century the Vietnamese nation was already located
within a clearly defined territory, had a common language and civilisation, and
an effective centralised administration.
In 1070, the first university was established in Hanoi. The
university was used to train the mandarinal bureaucracy. Underpinning the
political structure was the Confucianist philosophy. Students from different
villages came to this University to graduate with their PhDs. This was the first
school of public administration in Vietnam.
The first foreign domination of the Vietnamese people was by
their Chinese neighbours who ruled for more than 1000 years (179 BC to 938AD).
This period was characterised by intensive wars of resistance against foreign
aggression. The Chinese rulers brought with them (via the mandarins)
Confucianism and to some extent Buddhism. These coexisted with other indigenous
religions, which were predominantly animistic in nature.
For about 900 years after the Chinese rule, the Vietnamese
people enjoyed national independence and freedom (938-1858). Prominent amongst
other dynasties were the Ly and the Nguyen dynasties. But this freedom was
limited to the feudal lords and not to the ordinary peasants. It is in this
period that the royal national dynasties entrenched their rule over the
peasants. This period of national rule was ended by the colonisation of Vietnam
by the French colonisers. This foreign aggression lasted for some 80 years. Also
in this period, the Japanese joined the French in occupying Vietnam.
The war of liberation
Early in February 1930, the Indochina Communist Party and the
Annam Communist Party merged into a single organisation to form the Communist
Party of Vietnam. The communist Party of Vietnam has thus been a pivotal force
in the struggle to liberate Vietnam and unite the whole country. The Party
together with the Vietminh guided by Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen Giap led
an insurrection that brought an end to foreign rule over North Vietnam in August
From 1945 to 1975 the Vietnamese people consolidated the
democratic republic in the North and continued to fight for the liberation of
the South. This period consisted of the war against the French from 1945 to
1954. This liberated northern Vietnam and established the people's republic of
Vietnam with comrade Ho Chi Minh as the President of the country. But the
revolution was not completed without the liberation of the South, which was
under the rule of the Americans via their puppets. This then inaugurated a war
of resistance, which culminated in the taking over of Saigon that today is known
as Ho Chi Minh City. Eventually the Americans had to flee Saigon. From 1975
onwards, the Vietnamese scored major achievements such as the establishment of
people's power in the South, national reunification, economic rehabilitation and
overcoming social and economic crisis that was brought about by successive
imperialist regimes such as the French and the Americans.
Renewal and Renovation
In 1986, the Communist Party of Vietnam started a process of
renovation, renewal and national reconstruction. The main focus of this era was
on building the agricultural sector capable of producing food; consumer goods
and the increase of export articles. It also aimed to rebuild cities and
communities that were devastated by the American bombardments of Vietnam. This
period of renewal and renovation was known as Doi Moi.
Along the lines of Doi Moi, the 8th Party Congress further laid
down important tasks for the 1996-2000 period, put goals of achieving rapid,
highly effective and sustainable economic growth in providing solutions to
pressing social problems; ensure national defence and security; improve the
people's living conditions and thus creating solid premises for a higher measure
of development at the beginning of the 21st century.
In the course of this process, the Vietnamese Communist Party
had to embrace a socialist market economy and moved away from command driven
state economy. The key elements of this strategy were the following;
Economic Reconstruction and National Rebuilding focusing on
the development of the agricultural sector;
Development and expansion of the public sector in economic
development so as to ensure that the state sector is capable of playing a
decisive role in the transformation process.
In assessing the successes and challenges of the renewal
process, the Communist Party of Vietnam has made the following observations
The country has registered convincing economic growth with
GDP increase of 7% on average annually. Industrial production continues to
maintain an average yearly increase of 13,5%. There is a marked increase in
other production sectors including agriculture, with infrastructural systems
Progress has been made in the cultural and social fields and
people's lives have been improved. These include areas like education and
training; culture; the essential needs of the people as well as sports and
Party building and rectification, the political system has
been consolidated. This involves consolidation of its leadership role in
The Party also made the following observations with regard to
weaknesses and shortcomings:
The solution of certain pressing and acute socio-cultural
problems is still slow. The rates of urban and rural unemployment remain
high. The number of HIV/AIDS patients has increased;
The transition into the socialist market economy had a
negative subjective impact on cadreship of the party in terms of its
political, ideological and moral commitments to the revolution. In this
sense the party was starting to grapple with individualism, corruption,
opportunism and the violation of people's virtues.
Corruption in and the perversion of the political ideology,
ethics and lifestyle within and amongst Party officials and members continue
at an alarming rate.
The overall lessons can be summarised as follows:
In the process of renewal, it is imperative to persist in
the goal of national independence and socialism on the basis of
Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh's Thoughts;
The understanding of the renewal should rely on the people,
and be in the interest of the people, conformable to reality, and always
In the renewal process, the nation's strength should be
combined with that of the times;
The Party's constitutional guidelines constitute the
decisive factor for the success of the renewal process.
Towards National Construction in the Period of Transition to
Socialism The recently held 9th Congress of the Vietnamese Communist Party
adopted a political programme for the period of transition to socialism. The key
elements of the programme of transition consist of the following:
Building up the Socialist State whose foundation is based on
the unity of the working class, peasantry and the Intelligentsia;
Development of the productive forces, to industrialise the
country in the direction of modernisation, combined with the development of
a comprehensive agriculture;
Commensurate with the development of productive forces, to
gradually establish socialist relations of production from the lowest to the
highest levels and diversified forms of ownership. This means developing a
socialist-oriented multi-sector commodity economy operating with a market
mechanism and under State management;
This process is aimed at attracting investment and improving
the state owned enterprises technologically. This will have to be carried
out in a period of five years;
In bringing in private capital, the state will continue with
its controlling share and therefore drive the restructuring process;
The state enterprises are expected to be leaders and
pioneers in the scientific and technological fields;
The 4th Party Central Committee Plenum of the 8th tenure in
line with 8Th Congress Resolution on accelerating equitisation of SOE's in
which it is not necessary for the state to hold a 100% capital share,
mandated the presiding authorities to make a decision on various forms of
equitisation. These forms involve the state holding a dominant share, or
enterprises in which the state holds a special share and the enterprises in
which the state holds a limited share.
All the above are set to place in motion the implementation
of the policy of the development of a multi-sectoral economy and solicit
participation of all people, so as to be consistent with the national
construction and development.
To carry out the socialist revolution in the ideological and
To implement a policy of national unity, to consolidate and
broaden the National United Front;
To twin the objective of building of socialism with that of
defending the homeland;
Build a Party that is ethically, politically, ideologically
and organisationally strong, and equal to its tasks.
The "People Know, People do and People respect"
guides cadres in carrying programmes of National Reconstruction.
Fighting opportunism and opportunistic manifestations in the
This political programme of transition is dependent on the
stability of the country's political system and the continued leadership role of
the Party. Part of this process should be the understanding that all the
organisations and operations of the state are aimed at building and gradually
perfecting socialist democracy. Central to the task of national reconstruction
is the role of organisations like the Vietnamese Fatherland Front and the
The Vietnamese Fatherland Front is the political alliance of
people's organisations and individual representatives from different social
classes and strata, nationalities and religions. This political front is the
political basis and expression of people's power. The Communist Party is both a
member and a leader of this alliance.
The present process of steering society towards a socialist
order is dependent on the ideological, political and programmatic clarity of the
Party. The challenges facing that Party are to continue the rectification
process, improvement of its leadership capacity and combativeness in carrying
out its tasks.
The massive economic development of Vietnam's economy in taking
place comes against the backdrop of massive United States blockade during the
cold war period as well as the suffering caused by the bombardments.
Through sheer commitment and determination Vietnam is back in
the global economic arena. In this process of renewal and through the help of
other international organisations, key issues such as food security, housing and
the stabilisation of the agricultural sector have been addressed.
Zimbabwe and South Africa: Anatomy of a crisis revisited
By Moeletsi Mbeki
The emerging situation in Zimbabwe poses the greatest threat to national
security our young democracy has yet faced. As with all threats, there are of
course also opportunities that are presented by the situation in Zimbabwe.
In its misguided drive to stay in power whatever the wishes of
the people of Zimbabwe, ZANU (PF) has decided it will stop at nothing. It has
decided to destroy whatever democratic institutions and processes were built
since independence in 1980. Above all ZANU (PF) has decided to racialise
politics in Zimbabwe.
It is this racialising of Zimbabwe's politics that has
transformed what was an internal economic crisis in Zimbabwe into a threat to
South Africa. First there is the expropriation (and brutalisation) of white
Zimbabweans of their farms by extra-legal means for no other reason than that
they are white. This is accompanied by the brutalisation of farm workers on
commercial farms because after all, according to President Mugabe, their
ancestors came from Malawi and Mozambique.
The brutalisation of all black urban working class Zimbabweans
soon follows because after all they voted for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, MDC.
Soon there will be the expropriation and brutalisation of
Ndebele Zimbabweans for no other reason than that they are Ndebele. Before long
there will be a falling out among ZANU (PF) leaders, which will also be turned
into a conflict among the clans that make up the Shona people.
An unlikely scenario? Only to those, like the author of
Zimbabwe: Anatomy of a Crisis (Umrabulo No. 9, November 2000) who cover up
limited knowledge of ZANU (PF) with high-sounding phrases.
ZANU (PF) leaders have always found it difficult to resist the
temptation of racial and ethnic politics. The first time the world's attention
was drawn to this was by the international commission of inquiry organised by
Zambia and the OAU to investigate events leading to the assassination of then
ZANU (PF) leader, Herbert Chitepo, in 1974. The Commissioners uncovered a tangle
of ethnic-based intrigues among elements of the Shona clans competing for the
control of the party.
In the 1980s the ZANU (PF) government conducted a vicious
campaign, against the rural Ndebele population of Matebele Land and the
Midlands, killing and maiming thousands. The cutting edge of this particular
campaign was the Fifth Brigade, a Shona only unit of the Zimbabwe National Army,
(ZNA) trained for the task by the North Koreans.
Today the Zimbabwe government and its army, are at war in the
Democratic Republic of Congo in defence of the unelected Kabila I and II
regimes. One of the close allies of the ZNA in this particular campaign are the
Interahamwe, Hutu perpetrators in 1994 of the unspeakable crime of genocide and
ethnic cleansing against the Tutsi population of Rwanda.
But why is ZANU (PF)'s racial and ethnic politics a threat to
our national security today when they were not in the past? The answer is
twofold. In the 1980s when ZANU (PF) conducted its atrocities against the
Ndebele population, South Africa was ruled by a white regime and therefore was
closed to all black people except as migrant workers. This is no longer the
case. Huge African population movements across South Africa's borders are
therefore feasible now, which they were not under apartheid.
Secondly, in the 1980's ZANU (PF) used state structures to
intimidate the Ndebele population; today it is using militia against a broader
cross section if the population that supports the MDC. This tactic is more
likely to create a social upheaval and therefore large population displacements.
The unification of ZANU (PF) with PF (ZAPU) in 1987 led to the ethnic
integration of State institutions in Zimbabwe, except perhaps for the Central
Intelligence Organisation. This is why Zanu (PF) now has to organise a private
militia - the so-called liberation war veterans.
Before returning to Denga's article on Zimbabwe, let us remind
ourselves why two thirds of the electorate of South Africa supports the ANC
despite its indifferent economic performance during the past seven years;
non-agricultural private sector employment has been falling steadily in South
Africa throughout the last decade. The ANC's founding principle is non-racism
and opposition to ethnic politics. This was articulated at its founding
conference nearly 90 years ago by Pixley ka I Seme; it was restated
unambiguously by the Kliptown Conference which drew up the Freedom Charter 45
years ago. This is why the people of South Africa support the ANC. Lest I be
accused by ZANU (PF)'s new found friends in the ANC of maligning ZANU (PF)
behind its back in the safety and comfort of South Africa, in October 1984 I
wrote an extensive article for ZANU (PF)'s official journal, Zimbabwe News,
pointing out that ZANU (PF)'s continued association with Spirit Mediums
reinforced ethnicity in the party.
Let me now return to Denga's article. One must congratulate
Umrabulo's editors for their efforts to open discussion on the Zimbabwe crisis.
It is important however that this discussion must be based on solid information,
not on speculation, hearsay, name calling, mud-slinging and the like. Denga's
knowledge of Zimbabwe is cursory to say the least. Let me illustrate my point.
- "Historically, the struggle in Zimbabwe has been
- centred on the land question," writes Denga. Wrong! The Zimbabwe
- struggle was centred on the issue of one man, one vote, and the
- implementation of a negotiated independence settlement with Britain as
- against Ian Smith's unilateral declaration of independence, UDI. Land was
- only one of many social and economic issues to be addressed after
- According to Denga; "The trade union movement in
- Zimbabwe owes much of its growth and organisation to the post-war
- independence era." Later he adds, "the array of classes and strata
- critical for social, transformation could therefore be defined as follows: a
- working class with weak traditions of struggle." Wrong again!
- Zimbabweans cut their teeth as trade union organisers in South Africa during
- the 1920s in the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union, ICU, and returned
- home to start their own unions in the 1930s.
- "There was also the demand placed on the fiscus by the
- security situation in the region, deriving from Zimbabwe's principled
- support for the liberation movement in South Africa and Namibia,"
- writes Denga. Wrong again! The ZANU (PF) government never engaged or
- prepared to engage the apartheid regime militarily. Quite the opposite, it
- regularly arrested Umkhonto we Sizwe guerrillas passing through Zimbabwe.
- "The stage was set at the close of the first decade of
- independence, for the imposition, by the International Monetary Fund and the
- World Bank of a structural adjustment programme (SAP)." Wrong!
- structural adjustment programmes in Zimbabwe and elsewhere can only be
- imposed by governments who have the power to do so; neither the IMF nor the
- World Bank has such power. SAPs are a condition for an IMF loan.
But more than anything else, it is Denga's bizarre claim that
MDC suffers from "an impatience born of inexperience in revolutionary
struggle," that betrays the author's ignorance. I know of at least three
MDC founder members who were ZIPRA (ZAPU's military wing) regional commanders -
a rank of at least Colonel in a conventional army. MDC's president and deputy
president -Morgan Tsvangarai and Gibson Sibanda - are seasoned trade unionists.
So what should South Africa do in the face of the emerging disaster that ZANU
(PF) is determined to bring about in Zimbabwe? As in all crises, there are many
- We could do nothing and hope the crisis dissipates with
- minimum damage to South Africa.
- We could prop up the Zimbabwean economy and/or ask others to
- do the same in the hope that ZANU (PF) will in the meantime beat the
- population and the opposition into quiet submission.
- We could talk nicely to ZANU (PF) and/or enlist others to do
- likewise to try to point out to its leaders the errors of their ways.
- We could talk to ZANU (PF) leaders, nicely again, and tell
- them South Africa will have no truck with racism, tribalism, ethnic
- cleansing and genocide and that we will take all necessary actions if acts
- by any of our neighbours threaten to trigger large scale cross-border
- population movements.
- We could help the opposition to resist intimidation in the
- hope that this will persuade ZANU (PF) to respect democratic processes and
- therefore hold free and fair elections and accept their outcome.
- We could help ZANU (PF) to crush the opposition so that it
- stays in power for the foreseeable future and we all go back to business as
Sooner or later our Government leaders will have to choose one
or more of these options. They, and all of us, will have to live with the
consequences of their decision. Let us hope wiser counsel than Denga's prevail
when that time comes.
Much ado about Zimbabwe
By Z. Pallo Jordan
Nelson Mandela writing to PW Botha from his prison cell in 1986, posed the
dilemma facing South Africa as reconciling black aspirations for democracy and
freedom with white fears and anxieties. As employed by Mandela the term black
included all those sections of South African society who were excluded from
political power by apartheid.
Mandela has deservedly been praised by all for the sterling
efforts he made to assure and reassure white South Africa that it had nothing to
fear from democracy. He initiated and made a number of symbolic gestures - a
government of national unity; he donned the Springbok rugby jersey; he visited
and had tea with Betsy Verwoerd; he invited his persecutor, Percy Yutar, for a
But can any serious observer of the South African political
scene suggest that white South Africa made the slightest effort to meet him
halfway? The NP withdrew from the Government of National Unity at the insistence
of its backbenchers. By the 1999 elections the party of Helen Suzman sounded
like that of DF Malan and HF Verwoerd: brazenly inciting racial fear amongst
white voters; railing against affirmative action to coloured and Indian voters;
opposing any and every measure designed to bring some measure of relief to the
most vulnerable and weakest among the poor and exploited.
As Wilmot James has pointed out, the international political
environment in which South Africa attained democracy was extremely unfavourable
to a movement, like the ANC, that had committed itself to redressing the ills of
the past. South Africa's wealth remained essentially in white hands and the ANC
government's commitment not to interfere with the existing property relations
meant that if it was to fulfill its mandate, it would have to rely on rapid
economic growth to achieve any redistribution of wealth. The economy has not
grown at a pace commensurate with those commitments.
Stripped of the fancy words, what transpired was that black
aspirations were put on hold but the whites received repeated assurances that
they really had nothing to fear.
These thoughts sprang to mind after reading Herbert Adam and van
Zyl Slabbert's piece on Zimbabwe in the Business Day of 29 March 2001. While one
agrees with the two authors that the debate should not be conducted at the level
of hyperbole, the two very quickly descend to it themselves.
Suggesting, as they do, that the government of Zimbabwe is
morally equivalent to the white minority governments that well-nigh ruined South
Africa is a case in point. Whatever its faults, the government led by ZANU (PF)
is a government elected by the majority of Zimbabweans in inclusive, non-racial
elections. It has been returned to office in an election judged to be acceptable
by the international community. No government in this country, prior to 1994,
could make the same claim.
That alone places the Zimbabwean government in a very different
category from the government of Nigeria's Sani Abacha (a military dictatorship)
or PW Botha (a white racist dictatorship). To suggest that the Zimbabwe
government be treated the same is not only unreasonable but is of the essence of
the over-statement and exaggeration that has characterised the contribution of
virtually all white opposition politicians to the debate on Zimbabwe.
The co-authors plumb the depths of the ridiculous in suggesting
that the South African government's cautious approach assists the opposition in
fuelling white anxieties. Max Du Preez, another stern critic of the government,
writing in The Star, very aptly highlighted the irony of the white farming
community, many of whom within living memory acquired their land at the direct
expense of African and coloured communities, today screaming about land
restitution measures in which their interests are constitutionally protected. To
suggest that the anxieties of such people are the result of mixed signals from
government is to test our credulity. Conceit and plain greed is closer to the
What saddens one about all this is that the white political
leaders and their spokespersons seem to think that Africans are blind and deaf,
or at any rate have no sensibilities worthy of consideration. The signal that
the responses from their white compatriots are sending to black communities does
not seem to concern any of them in the least.
Diplomacy is about shaping and influencing the context in which
another government makes its decisions. When, on the eve of a Commonwealth
Summit, Sani Abacha ordered the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, then President
Mandela moved swiftly to break off relations and called for tough measures
against the Nigerian military junta. While Britain, France, the USA, Germany and
others verbally applauded his actions, not one of these countries followed South
Africa's example. British oil multinationals continued business as usual;
British banks continued to do business with members of the junta; the USA kept
up a vigorous dialogue with Abacha while the US corporations expanded business
contacts; France sought to exploit the tension between London and Abuja to its
own advantage. South Africa held the moral high ground, but in isolation.
Thus far the democratically elected government of Nigeria has
not exacted any price from those who remained on the moral plains. Nor is it
likely to. The British oil firms still do their business as usual. The USA
dialogues with Obasanjo as it did with Abacha. France is still looking for new
opportunities in west Africa. Were these countries acting cynically, or were
they responding to their national interests?
Adam and van Zyl Slabbert urge SA to restrict travel for ZANU
(PF) leaders. They urge us to freeze their finances. They suggest we take
measures that will inflict pain on the ZANU (PF) leadership. Are these
realistic? A few weeks ago South African Ministers visited Zimbabwe for in depth
discussions about the crisis. Would the Zimbabwe government have allowed them to
enter that country if we had followed the advice of these two fundis? Should
follow up meetings on South African soil be necessary, how would the Zimbabwe
delegation come to South Africa given the travel restrictions we would have
placed on them? Who says that Zimbabweans bank in South Africa in preference to
their own country? Plainly Adam and van Zyl Slabbert are asking us to do the
sort of thing that will make meaningful dialogue with Zimbabwe impossible.
For some unexplained reason, South Africa is expected to act
against its own best interest. The simple facts of the matter are that should
the economy of Zimbabwe fall to pieces South Africa's main trading partner on
the African continent would go down the tubes. Should South Africa, following
the advice of the opposition parties, withhold electric power from Zimbabwe, the
factories in that country would grind to a halt and the urban employed would
lose their jobs. Should SASOL withhold oil supplies, the lengthy queues for
petrol would, of course, disappear because there would be no petrol in the
country. The measures advocated by the opposition will not only hurt the people
of Zimbabwe, they will also inflict very drastic harm on South Africa itself.
I doubt that Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) would like to inherit a country in such a parlous state.
What then makes sense?
Contrary to the reckless claims of Drs Adam and van Zyl
Slabbert, the ANC was in touch with the MDC, at Secretary-General level, even
prior to the elections in 2000. Of course our contacts with ZANU (PF) are
stronger and are of longer duration. In our contacts with both parties we have
emphasised the need for moderation on both sides. We have, of course, been more
emphatic in this regard in discussions with ZANU (PF) as the governing party.
But we have stressed to the MDC that any escalation of the tensions can only
result in an even more intractable situation and could store up even bigger
problems for the future. The MDC is also keenly aware that should they become
the government, they would be obliged to clean up that mess. Quite rationally
they are not as hasty as many South African pundits in advocating irresponsible
courses of action.
If Zimbabwe has become a racial issue it is because the
political leadership in the opposition parties have chosen to make it so. The
ANC first placed the matter on parliament's agenda precisely to avoid such an
eventuality. We were measured in our tones and very deliberate in identifying
the ill-advised and irresponsible actions of the ZANU (PF) supporters. In the
hands of opposition parties eager to scoop up white votes by "scaring the
living daylights out of them", as one DA strategist so indelicately put it,
it has become a racially polarising issue. The parliamentary record will bear us
Adam and van Zyl Slabbert would have done well to recall the
hundreds of cases, the most famous of which is that of the Scottsboro boys,
framed for rape and convicted by an all-white jury during the 1930s, to put the
contrasting black and white responses to the OJ Simpson trial in perspective.
The last of the eight Scottsboro youths died in prison a few years ago for a
crime he did not commit. If the OJ Simpson trial polarised the USA, the reason
is to be sought in that history, and not as the two learned gentlemen speculate,
in some attempt to score subconscious points.
At the end of the day it is the people of Zimbabwe who will sort
out the mess. The MDC has not asked the ANC to support it against the government
of Zimbabwe. It has not asked the ANC to pressure the South African government
to impose sanctions. Morgan Tsvangirai explicitly told us they were opposed to
sanctions. Feel good posturing and garrulous double-talk that impresses white
voters in South Africa will not assist the people of Zimbabwe. Those who are so
quick to judge South Africa's "quiet" diplomacy a failure would do
well to consider the extent to which the "noisy" diplomacy of London
and Washington has succeeded. As far as we know not a single land seizure has
been halted and not one life saved by the sound and fury emitted by Bush and
Blair. At least the government in Harare is still on talking terms with us.
There are no prizes for guessing which approach is more likely
to yield results.
This opinion piece appeared in ANC
Today, Volume 1, No. 11
Letters to the Editorial Collective
The language debate - Balkanisation or one lingua franca?
The time has come for Umrabulo to start a dialogue about the language issue
in South Africa. Our Constitution gives equal status and treatment to our 11
official languages. The Pan South African Language Board (PANSALB) was
established as a constitutional watchdog with powers to hear complaints.
Since its establishment, PANSALB has found that a number of big companies are
contravening the Constitution, by instituting single language policies in their
companies. They were instructed to change this policy to be in line with the
Constitution, but have ignored this. Even some government departments have come
under fire for the same reason. We may soon have this matter before the
Constitutional Court. In the light of these events, it is necessary for an
in-depth debate takes place about this and related matters.
There are mainly two dominant visions in this debate about language, even
though not always explicitly stated as such.
On the one hand, there is the view that English should be built as our public
lingua franca. As a result, the other ten languages are demoted to social use,
with no significant presence in the public sphere. The rationale for this is
- The use of one language - it is argued - is cheaper and more effective
- than a multi-language policy;
- English is spoken and understood in any case by more South Africans; and
- Through English, South Africans have access to the rest of the world,
- because it is an international language.
The idea is that a social tendency already in progress at some level, should
become official policy.
In direct opposition to this view, some language activists argue that
languages can only be protected, within the framework of some form of
self-determination for language groups. Self-determination, in this view, can
range from the independent Volkstaat (such as Orania); a so-called 'taalstaat'
(language state) - i.e. a province with only one official language, and decision
making powers over education and cultural matters (but with free access to all
citizens); to a chosen representative body for every language community, which
should promote the interests of this community throughout the country.
The arguments in favour of this position include:-
- In situations of symbiosis between two or more languages, the language
- with more 'prestige' (in our case English) usually swamp the others;
- That group rights can only be effectively protected through the devolution
- of (some) power to those groups; and
- That the legal protection of cultural and language rights along this route
- is gaining momentum world-wide.
The underlying idea to this argument is that government has a responsibility
to erect legal protection against spontaneous social processes that threaten the
protection of certain languages.
The biggest problem with both the above points of view is that they both are
in direct opposition to the Constitution. The group that argue for
multi-lingualism through self-determination are quite open about this, and thus
demand amendments to the Constitution. The group supporting a one-language
model, either ignores the constitutional provisions or tries to do so, by
calling for qualifications to these provisions, getting these provisions
relaxed, despite arguments from PANSALB that the constitutional qualifications
should not be used as an excuse for a one-language policy.
The weakness of these two dominant paradigms of the language debate is that
they are based on wrong premises. In both cases, arguments are forwarded that
are secondary or irrelevant to the fundamental task of the democratic
dispensation: including financial or strategic considerations; cultural
romanticism, the examples of other countries, and so forth.
What then is the fundamental task of our government? The answer is simple: to
protect the freedoms and rights of all its citizens. At the minimum, this means
guaranteeing equal opportunities for members of all language and other
communities. For government to tolerate or encourage spontaneous social
processes - e.g. the growing dominance of English - without asking whether such
dominance is based on unequal opportunities, would be to abdicate responsibility
as a democratic authority.
For example, the ANC government on the economy does not simply leave
everything to the markets, but actively seeks to intervene to ensure more
equitable outcomes. However, to arrest social processes in ways that infringe on
basic democratic rights (e.g. freedom of association), may constitute a
contravention of the moral mandate of a democratic government. People cannot be
forced against their will to maintain their own language and/or culture.
In addition, the arguments in favour of the two dominant positions, are not
- Various studies in the business sector indicate that a multi-lingual
- policy promotes rather than hampers cost saving and greater productivity.
- Our various languages are so closely related, that they can easily be
- understood by people within language groups, e.g. the Nguni languages and
- the Sotho/Pedi/Twsana language families. The required duplication may not
- always literally mean 11 translations.
- There are more or less the same number of South Africans that understand
- Afrikaans as English and there are by far more mother-tongue isiZulu,
- isiXhosa, Afrikaans and siPedi speakers than mother-tongue English speakers.
- English is the most geographically limited mother-tongue in the country. It
- is therefore misleading to argue that most South Africans have a grasp of
- English. About half of the population know no English, and this comprises
- mainly the poorer, more marginalised amongst the population.
- It is true that English is a big international language, but to contrast
- it on this basis with other languages, is unfair. SeTswana, se Sotho and
- SeSwati, as well as other languages related to Tsonga, are used far beyond
- our borders by fellow Africans. In the African diaspora (Suriname, Dutch
- Antille) as well as in densely populated European countries such as the
- Netherlands and Belgium, the Dutch language is spoken. Dutch shares 95% of
- its language roots with Afrikaans. The additional use of all our language
- groups can therefore improve South Africa's communications and cooperation
- with the international community (defined broader than just the English
- speaking world).
- The fact that policy in some other countries developed in a particular
- direction, should not be a good reason why we in South Africa should follow
- suit. Every country is unique and policy options should be judged on merits.
In so far as the tendency towards 'multi-culturalism' in some countries
infringes on basic democratic rights, we surely should not even consider
following such examples.
What then are the alternatives between the various degrees of 'balkanisation'
on the one hand and a one language policy on the other hand? The answer is
obvious - multi-lingualism within a unitary state. Under the previous regime,
English and Afrikaans enjoyed equal status countrywide in so-called 'white South
Africa - despite the differences in status. The Quebec or Belgium options was
Why then can we not accommodate the 11 Official languages of the new South
Africa? Central government, government departments, the courts, national
companies, government Gazettes, internet providers and so forth must all be
obliged to use all 11 languages in their internal and external communications.
Furthermore, provincial and municipal authorities must all be made to choose two
or more languages used within their jurisdiction as languages for communication.
The same should go for the language policy of business.
All universities and technikons in the country must at least be bi-lingual.
For each official language there should be at least one university and technikon
that provide its full curriculum and administration in that language.
The full school curriculum, including textbooks, should be available in all
languages. Mother-tongue instruction in all 11 languages should be available in
every province. It should be compulsory for all children, up to Matric, to learn
at least three of the official languages. There should be a free television
channel and radio station and a national newspaper for every language.
Affirmative action should take into consideration not only race and gender, but
It is only then that all citizens will be able to enjoy the same freedom to
use their language at all levels of community life and public policy will be so
construed as to allow all language groups equal access. This will encourage a
national ethos of brotherhood and sisterhood, necessary for the effective
functioning of any democracy. We will build our nation when our citizens speak
each other's language and share in each other's cultural heritage.
Unity or merger talks with the Inkatha Freedom Party
The question of unity or merger between the IFP and the ANC is not new in
South African politics. Now is the time to have an open and fruitful debate and
discussion about whether the time has come for unity or merger talks between
these two political parties.
The biggest challenge facing the ANC is the legacy of apartheid. To do this
head on, requires a formidable and a united African force. As part of our
concerted effort for African Renaissance and unity of Africans there is a dire
need to put our house in order and unite all Africans under one umbrella
organisation. As the old saying goes: United we stand, divided we fall. I have
no doubt in my mind that the divide between the IFP and the ANC constraints
advancement to the alleviation of poverty in this country. Are we not doing
disservice to our democratic revolution by these divisions? Why talk so loud
about African unity with African countries when we are so silent about our own
unity in South Africa? I believe that charity begins at home.
Strictly speaking there is no longer major and fundamental policy differences
between the IFP and the ANC. This is manifested by the reduction of the level of
violence in KwaZulu Natal. Although there are some reports of continued fighting
here and there, the war is virtually over.
The ANC needs the IFP and the IFP needs the ANC to achieve the social
upliftment of our people and to eradicate poverty. We need each other more
importantly to guard jealously against those who want to steal our freedom.
We need to bury the past and move together to a better South Africa and a
stronger ANC|IFP Patriotic Front. There are good skills within the IFP that the
ANC needs to advance its course. Real politicians would not worry about their
positions being threatened when this merger has been realised. This to me seems
to be a problem amongst some of our cadres.
I do not want to argue along the lines that the DP and the NNP have merged
and therefore we must too. We really do not need a merger for the sake of a
merger. The merger between the DP and the NNP came with one thought only, to
weaken the ANC support. The merger that we need is dictated by the spirit of the
African Renaissance and the defence of our revolutionary gains.
I believe that this quest for unity is speedily gaining momentum. Let's
engage in a fruitful organisational debate. I need to be convinced why not a
merger now? I know that some of the arguments that we have would be that the IFP
wants us to forego our alliance with the SACP. Well this is a mater of a
principle, we cannot forego this strategic alliance and I don't think that the
IFP is so hard on this one. There has to be some form of a compromise for the
sake of country.
I recommend that this should be part of our agenda as we move closer to
provincial conferences. Lets talk about it now and not when we are nearer to
Manase Neo Sefatlhe
Hector Peterson Branch (Orlando West, Soweto)
Local Elections 2000
Your article on Elections 2000 (M. Sachs - Issue 10) was interesting.
However, some serious effort would be required to further analyse the results in
specific areas, rather than (only) consider the country as a whole. Having stood
as a candidate in a 'minority' ward, dominated by the NP, I perhaps have a
better perspective of the results than many others.
Of the 2 096 registered black voters in our ward, we must assume that only 26
cast their votes. Or, we must assume that many black voters voted DA!
White voters turned out in force, as indicated by the turnout of 54.9%. The
ANC polled 623 (9.5%) votes, an increase of over 85% over the previous local
elections. This indicates an increase in white support for the ANC. White voters
comprised 80.6% of the registered voters in this ward. The DA polled 89% of the
votes cast. The PAC and IFP combined polled 1.5%.
Some observations about the elections in this ward:-
- At one polling station, results indicate that I polled more votes than the
- ANC on the PR ballots. In other words, supporters voted for the candidate,
- but not the party.
- During the campaign, many (former) ANC supporters, and many current
- members, stated that they would not vote as 'nothing has changed.' The
- message came over strongly from domestic workers and the unemployed. n The
- list process also may have contributed to our losing one of the wards, where
- our candidate was removed.
We are involved in efforts (through Focused Organising Teams) in the province
to make inroads into minority wards, with the directive to 'win the 25 wards
lost in the 2000 elections.' Even at this level, we come across a lack of
motivation and commitment by those who should be leading by example.
It appears many members are disappointed in the achievements of those elected
to represent the ANC. Perhaps Umrabulo could publish in each issue, just what
our leaders are achieving, and in this manner informing grassroots supporters
that something is happening and change is in fact taking place. Perhaps not as
fast as some should prefer, but certainly it is occurring.
The Political Education and Training Unit wishes to acknowledge the
following people for their contribution to this edition:
Umrabulo Editorial Collective: Naph Manana, Joel Netshitenzhe, Pallo
Jordan, Jeremy Cronin, Mandla Nkomfe and Fébé Potgieter.
Layout and Design: Donovan Cloete, ANC Communications Unit
Proofing and Editing: Diana Cumberledge
CONTRIBUTIONS TO UMRABULO
The Editorial Collective welcomes contributions to UMRABULO of not
more than 2,500-3,000 words.
Such contributions may focus on:
- Papers published in Umrabulo 1-10; or
- Letters to the Editor
- New issues for debate
Send your contributions to:
P.O. Box 61884
Telephone: (011) 376-1073
Fax: (011) 376-1134
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