1. Introduction
  2. Analysis of the Freedom Charter as adopted at Morogoro, 1969
  3. 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
  • International
  • 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.

Democratic Principles

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


"High Treason"

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

South Africa.

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

amongst Africans.

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

young children.

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, crches

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

socio-economic objective.

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

under-served areas.

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.

Social development

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

work process.

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
  • cent;
  • 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
  • computers.

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

Committee of 

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 NDR.

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

South Africa.

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.

Immediate tasks

  • 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

working class.

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

a whole.

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

basic pillars:

  • 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
  • better;
  • to strengthen the hold of the democratic movement on state
  • power, and transform the state machinery to serve the cause of social
  • change;
  • 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

leadership structures.

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

individuals' self-interest.

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

organisation's conferences.

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

government positions.

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

revolutionary stuff.

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

another discussion.

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

leadership level.

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

transformative agenda.

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

Executive authority.

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

effective government.

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

bureaucracy, etc.

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.

A. Representation

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.

B. Oversight

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

effective government.

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.

Brief Background

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

being enhanced;

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

physical training;

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

cultural spheres;

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

people's organisations.

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
  • independence.
  • 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


  1. We could do nothing and hope the crisis dissipates with
  2. minimum damage to South Africa.
  3. We could prop up the Zimbabwean economy and/or ask others to
  4. do the same in the hope that ZANU (PF) will in the meantime beat the
  5. population and the opposition into quiet submission.
  6. We could talk nicely to ZANU (PF) and/or enlist others to do
  7. likewise to try to point out to its leaders the errors of their ways.
  8. We could talk to ZANU (PF) leaders, nicely again, and tell
  9. them South Africa will have no truck with racism, tribalism, ethnic
  10. cleansing and genocide and that we will take all necessary actions if acts
  11. by any of our neighbours threaten to trigger large scale cross-border
  12. population movements.
  13. We could help the opposition to resist intimidation in the
  14. hope that this will persuade ZANU (PF) to respect democratic processes and
  15. therefore hold free and fair elections and accept their outcome.
  16. We could help ZANU (PF) to crush the opposition so that it
  17. stays in power for the foreseeable future and we all go back to business as
  18. usual.

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

always sustainable:-

  • 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

not necessary.

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

also language.

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.

Gerrit Brand

Utrecht University


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

general elections.

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.

Ivor Shepherd, 



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 

Logo: Creativity


The Editorial Collective welcomes contributions to UMRABULO of not

more than 2,500-3,000 words.

Such contributions may focus on:

  1. Papers published in Umrabulo 1-10; or
  2. Letters to the Editor
  3. New issues for debate

Send your contributions to:


P.O. Box 61884 


Telephone: (011) 376-1073 

Fax: (011) 376-1134 

E-mail: umrabulo@anc.org.za

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