28 May 2010

Ward and Voting District demarcation


ANC Today, 28 May 2010

Ward and Voting District demarcation

Why are we getting new wards and changing some of the existing wards?

The Municipal Structures Act says that wards must have more or less the same number of voters. No more than 10% deviation from the average is allowed. New wards are added before every local election and the boundaries of existing wards often change.

The Municipal Demarcations Board (MDB) is in charge of determining the boundaries of municipalities, and of wards within municipalities. The number of councillors in each municipality is determined by the number of voters and the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Local Government applies the legal formula and publishes the number of councillors in the Government Gazette. Half the councillors have to come from wards (and the other half from the Proportional Representation list). If there has been a significant increase in the number of voters in a municipality, more wards will be added.

What is the process?

It is not a simple process to add more wards, because of the requirement that wards must have more or less the same number of voters. As new wards are created the boundaries of existing wards also sometimes have to change to ensure that all wards have similar numbers of voters.

The MDB proposes changes to municipalities and publishes them for comment. This process usually starts about two years before an election. If there are no objections, local council stakeholder meetings sign off on the changes and they are implemented. If there are objections from any party, or a dispute about where boundaries should be, the MDB visits the affected area and holds a meeting with all parties to the dispute. They attempt to get agreement and sign-off on new boundaries from all the parties involved. If that fails, the MDB can make the decision.

A Schedule 1 notice is then published about the new boundaries and a two-week formal objection period is allowed before the boundaries are finalised.

Where is the process now?

By the end of May all stakeholder meetings should be completed.

64% of notices have already been published and the rest should be published in June.

The MDB will convene Ward Delimitation Committees in June and July 2010 to decide on the merit of objections received after which it will finalise the wards for the 2011.

As the ANC we should avoid unnecessary delays to the finalisation of wards. Objections should only be made in very serious cases. The timeframes are very tight and any further delays will compromise the opportunities for voter registration.

The MDB has to provide to the IEC the final set of wards on 1 Sept 2010.

What does the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) do?

The IEC then matches the ward boundaries to Voting District boundaries. Most of the 19 000 VDs will remain intact, but a few thousand will change because they are cut in two by new ward boundaries. A number of new VDs are also created in new urban settlements or in rural areas where previous boundaries were impractical.

The IEC proposes new VD boundaries to local Party Liaison Committees who have to sign off on the maps before they can be finalised. Voter registration or re-registration of voters whose VD changed, can only start once maps are printed.

The IEC will then conduct targeted registration in changed VDs, upload the data and update the voters roll.

Two public voter registration weekends are usually held. After the first one the roll is again updated and the new version is open for checking at the second weekend. The voters roll closes as soon as elections are proclaimed - usually about 2-3 months before the election.

Hegemony in the NDR

CU, NDR, Part 12

Hegemony in the NDR

On 14 September 2009 the South African Communist Party released a main discussion document (click on the link below) in preparation for the SACP Special National Congress that took place in December 2009 at the Turfloop campus in Polokwane, Limpopo Province.

This document is titled “Building working class hegemony on the terrain of a national democratic struggle”. It is therefore directly in line with the previous eleven parts of this series on the National Democratic Revolution, and presents an opportunity to conclude the 12-part series in an open-ended fashion that is suited to the present conjuncture.

The most relevant parts of this document to our discussion so far are Part 2.4 (“The politics of working class hegemony...versus the politics of a multi-class balancing act”) and the whole of Part 3 (“Towards a politics of mass-driven, state-led radical transformation on the terrain of a National Democratic Revolution”).

In an echo of Lenin’s “The State and Revolution”, the SACP document notes that the “sectarian left” (equivalent to Lenin’s “anarchists”) and the “centrist reformists” (Lenin’s “opportunists”) are twins in their subjective denigration of the NDR. Lenin said that the anarchists and the opportunists are twins.

This discussion document was work-in-progress.

At the Congress, a Political Report was given which is downloadable in PDF format from the SACP web site, here. It is called “Together, let’s defeat capitalist greed and corruption! Together, build socialism now!”

As usual in the Freirean practice of pedagogy, we are not looking for closure, but rather to reveal and expose the problems of the moment: In short, to problematise

The second instalment of this part will be the Strategy and Tactics document passed at another Polokwane event, held two years earlier, the 52nd National Conference of the ANC; and that will be the end of the series on South Africa’s National Democratic Revolution this time around.


Further (optional) reading:

25 May 2010

The Brutal Side of Capitalist Development

CU, NDR, Part 11b

The Brutal Side of Capitalist Development

The third document in this part of our NDR course wherein the main text is Joe Slovo’s “SA Working Class and the NDR”, is David Moore’s 2004 article, “The Brutal Side of Capitalist Development” (linked below).

The article can stand as a representation of the growing realisation in broader South African circles that the class struggle is still the engine of history, including historical “development” in any useful sense of the word, and that class struggle has winners and losers, so that the idea of “win-win” development is wholly illusory.

By 2004 the promise of a beneficial New World Order following the collapse of the Soviet Union a decade-and-a-half previously had proved false. Instead, the USA and its “coalition of the willing” had mounted monstrous, plundering, Imperial wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, which are referred to briefly in this article. There was clearly to be no holiday from class struggle at any level.

In South Africa, the YCL had been re-launched the previous year (2003) and the SACP was undergoing a growth phase which is still continuing now, in 2010.

The ANC NGC in the following year (2005) showed that the ANC, had become mature and democratic in its legal form, reborn since 1990.

COSATU’s affiliates had mostly stabilised into strong working-class negotiating machines capable of taking on any employer.

Moore’s article in the short-lived Johannesburg newspaper “ThisDay” was a groundbreaker. It reminded readers that development is class struggle. For practitioners of the National Democratic Revolution, this was a potential turning point.

It remains to be seen whether the change has been made. The 2007 Strategy and Tactics draft was arguably even more of a “balancing act” than previous documents of the ANC. This, and the 2009 discussion document for the SACP Special Nation Congress of that year, will form the last part of this 12-part series on the NDR, next week – not for “closure”, but rather to demonstrate the state of the national-democratic-revolutionary debate while the struggle continues.


Further reading:

24 May 2010

Transformation, Not a Balancing Act

CU, NDR, Part 11a

Transformation, Not a Balancing Act

The main text of this part of the 12-part NDR series is still Joe Slovo’s “The SA Working Class and the NDR”. The supporting texts begin with “We Need Transformation, Not a Balancing Act” by Blade Nzimande and Jeremy Cronin (linked below), published in 1997, nine years after Slovo’s pamphlet. This was the year following the institution of what has since become known as the “1996 Class Project”, of which it is an initial critique.

In the mean time, the SACP and the ANC had been legalised in 1990, the UDF had been disbanded, the CODESA talks had taken place, SACP General Secretary Chris Hani had been assassinated, the ANC had been elected to government in 1994, and Joe Slovo had passed away (on 6 January 1995). All of this triumph and tragedy, and a lot more, historically formed the National Democratic Revolution, and not least in terms of the building of the ANC and the SACP as legal, open, organised structures around this large country with its population of approximately 40 million at the time.

This SACP document looked at a number of other documents published in those days, including from the ANC Youth League, from COSATU, and from the SACP itself, but in particular from the ANC in the form of a November, 1996 document called “The State and Social Transformation” (note that the Young Communist League was not re-established until 2003).

Nzimande and Cronin were saying that the ANC document stood out from the others in terms of its class-neutral “balancing act” approach. They conclude that the document should rather have been called “The State and Social Accommodation”.

Another way of putting this would be to say that the ANC document in question was selling class collaboration and not class alliance. “The State and Social Transformation” was selling the end of class struggle instead of the prosecution of the class struggle by alliance with favourable forces, against unfavourable forces.

There is a difficulty in Nzimande’s and Cronin’s document. On the third page, under “Dealing with capital”, two conceptions of capital are described: “factors of production” and “capital meaning capitalists”. The authors say that in the ANC document these two conceptions are elided or confused, giving the impression that factors of production can only come attached to capitalists, which is not so, they say.

That is all well and good, but what is absent is the understanding of capital as a dynamic relationship, and the “accumulation” of capital as being the reproduction of that relationship and of all of the support to that relationship, including the market, the proletariat, the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois state with its bourgeois constitution and laws, the means of transport and trade, and the subordination of all other classes to the rapacious needs of the bourgeois class.

Even in terms of pure money, what the capitalist principally does with it is to throw money into circulation, and not withhold from circulation by hoarding it. The accumulated wealth of the miser is not capital, though it may be money.

The circulation of money as capital proceeds via the purchase of labour-power and the extraction of surplus-value. Therefore, we do not escape the reproduction of capital by making the state the owner of the capital. The M-C-M' cycle is what capital is.

The revolutionary escape from capital is only achievable by accumulating the prerequisites of socialism, which mainly consist of the ever-increasing ability of masses of people to resolve and act together, consciously, and scientifically. This is the crucial “Democratic” part of the National Democratic Revolution.

Nzimande’s and Cronin’s document does arrive at this point. At the end, it does confirm that the free-willing collective Subject is both the maker and the product of revolution.

[Images: Nzimande and Cronin]


Further reading:

22 May 2010

The SA Working Class and the NDR

CU, NDR, Part 11

The SA Working Class and the NDR

The previous week’s part of this 12-part series on the National Democratic Revolution was based around the ANC’s Morogoro Strategy and Tactics document of 1969. We took our examination of the development of South Africa’s NDR up to the beginning of 1976, when the document “The Enemy Hidden Under the Same Colour” was published following the treachery and the consequent expulsion from the ANC of the “Gang of Eight”.

Later the same year the “Soweto uprising” of youth began and spread all over the country.

Trade Unionism re-expanded from the early 1970s with a strike waves in Durban and in the Witwatersrand where the watershed Carletonville Massacre took place in 1973. FOSATU, a syndicalist-led federation, was formed in 1979. It gave way to the National Democratic Revolutionary Alliance-aligned COSATU in 1985.

The United Democratic Front was launched in 1983.

All of these activities, amounting to the creation of living, democratic structures on a national scale, typify the National Democratic Revolution. They showed precisely how organisation into democratic structures formed the relentless collective Subject of History that then became impossible to resist.

Joe Slovo published “The SA Working Class and the National Democratic Revolution” (see the link below) in 1988 at a time when he was the General Secretary of the SACP. The Party was still clandestine; the end of its 40-year period of enforced illegality was to come two years later. Like many political documents, this one takes shape around a polemical response to contemporary opponents who may no longer be well remembered. In this case it was the particular “workerists” and compromisers of the time that Slovo mentions on the first page of the document.

But as with the polemics of Marx, Engels and Lenin, in the course of the argument against otherwise by now long-forgotten foes, Slovo was obliged to set up a fully concrete, rounded assessment of the meaning of the NDR, which still remains today as the best single and definitive text on this matter. He succeeded brilliantly.

Slovo quickly establishes the class-alliance basis of the NDR and quotes Lenin saying that: “the advanced class ... should fight with… energy and enthusiasm for the cause of the whole people, at the head of the whole people”. 

This advanced class is the working class.

Slovo goes on to write of the continuity of the NDR and of the institutional organising work that puts up the bricks-and-mortar of nation-building.

Slovo’s incomparable document has many possibilities as the basis for a discussion; and that is always our purpose: dialogue.

[Image: Joe Slovo]


Further (optional) reading:

19 May 2010

True Revolutionaries: Come Forward!


Umsebenzi Online, Volume 9, No. 9, 19 May 2010

In this Issue:
  • The Revolution is on trial (11): It calls for true revolutionaries to come forward!

Red Alert

The Revolution is on trial (11): It calls for true revolutionaries to come forward!

Blade Nzimande, General Secretary

Our national democratic revolution has entered a critical phase in which the many advances made in the run up to, and especially since, the Polokwane conference can either be deepened or face the danger of being rolled back. This is a period that also requires a proper appraisal of recent and current developments, including opportunities and threats to the Polokwane advances, so that our movement as a whole can tighten the political line of march for all our cadres.

This is also a mid-term period between the Polokwane conference, the SACP 12th Congress in 2007 and the next set of congresses in 2012. Thus this period requires a thorough assessment not only for the purposes of the next two to two and half years, but because its political outcomes may have an impact for the next or two decades of our country.

Some of the recent and current developments upon which we need to consolidate and advance the national democratic revolution include the following: 

  • The Polokwane advances and the lessons from there was that it is indeed possible to unite all our component of our movement (the working class, the veterans, former MK soldiers, communists, women, youth, and civic formations) in order to re-assert the collective responsibility of all leadership at all levels and the unity of our movement.
  • The ANC's overwhelming electoral victory in the 2009 elections, a victory that was important for a number of reasons. Firstly, that electoral victory re-affirmed the confidence that our people have in the ANC and the alliance. Secondly it was a victory achieved on the back of the unity of all the forces mentioned above in the run up to Polokwane. Thirdly, that electoral victory marked a defeat of a right wing breakaway from our movement, in the form of Cope, whose aim was to try and weaken if not break our movement. It is this victory that has laid the basis for the emerging contradictions that certainly look like they are going to break Cope.
  • The inauguration of President Zuma and the formation of a new administration, with an inclusive Cabinet, defying the predictions of our detractors who had thought that President Zuma will form a government based on revenge against those who had wanted to prevent him from assuming the role of ANC President and head of state. Instead we also have a government committed to consulting and engaging our people whose modus operandi is that of seeking to break the silos in the operation of government as a necessary conditions for realizing our goals as encapsulated in the five priorities of the manifesto
  • A commitment to a new growth path for our country, including the adoption of a comprehensive industrial policy action plan, and continued commitment to infrastructural investment and the establishment of the National Planning Commission.
  • The holding of two successful alliance summits within a period of 18 months coming out with a clear programme of action 

Indeed these are very strong platforms and terrains upon which we should consolidate, deepen and advance our national democratic revolution. They are also important because they underline the ANC's and government's commitments in prioritizing the needs of the workers and the poor.

Of course the ANC and Alliance prioritization of meeting the needs of the poor is now being cynically perverted by analysts like Mr Moeletsi Mbeki, as if the relationship between the ANC and the poor majority of our country is a utilitarian one, where the ANC is claimed to be using government programmes to buy the votes of the poor. This is an attempt to opportunistically vulgarise the ANC's revolutionary commitment to the poor, as if the poor vote for the ANC because they are bought rather than improvements in aspects of their lives as a result of ANC policies. It is also a downright, and elitist, patronizing attitude towards the majority of South Africans, as if they are duped for voting for the ANC. It is also a sleight of hand to try and project the middle classes and professionals as the only 'rational' voters rather than cannon fodder. This means that elites are smarter and the masses are dumb. Sounds familiar, isn't it?

No wonder this cynicism is being grabbed by both hands by right wing publications like 'The Citizen' which in its editorial of 18 May 2010, citing Mbeki's comments, argues that

"Those who have little political voice are the main taxpayers who finance social welfare programmes and provide subsidies to multi-nationals to base themselves in South Africa".

For this right-wing tabloid, it is as if poverty in this country is not a direct result of the brutal capitalist exploitation always defended by this tabloid - retrenchments, casualisation and outsourcing of the very poor that they pretend to be champions of! It is typical right wing hypocrisy that would at the same time call for protection of labour brokers and attack South African labour laws as making it difficult to hire and fire, and at the same time pretend to be concerned about the poor that are daily being reproduced by the practices it defends! This tabloid always speaks from both sides of its mouth!

Our analysis of the challenges and threats to our democracy should however not be premised on such cynical and elitist analysis, but on a revolutionary and principled analysis of concrete conditions in our country. It is for this reason that we must, from our standpoint frankly and honestly analyse some of the threats to our advances in the current period.

These include, but not limited to, the following:

  • A new trend of right-wing activism which attempts to use our constitution, the courts and other institutions supporting our democratic constitution to try and roll back our gains. These attempts range from and challenging affirmative action in the courts, the banning of our revolutionary songs as an attempt to wipe out the memory of the brutality of the apartheid regime and our struggles against it, to a one-sided emphasis on crime against, for instance, white farmers whilst ignoring the daily brutalization of black farm workers and farm dwellers
  • Intensified exploitation of the working class with increased labour broking, casualisation and retrenchment. The intensification of exploitation and impoverisation of the working class now also manifests through the increasing 'regionalisation' of South Africa's workforce in many parts of our economy - with employers increasingly preferring vulnerable migrant workers from the Southern African region in order to maximize profits and lower wages. These trends pose a threat to the unity of the working class and its capacity to act as the leading motive force of the national democratic revolution
  • The emergence of a small tendency, both inside and outside the ranks of our movement, that seems to be in such a hurry to get rich quick such that it is even prepared to sacrifice the unity of the ANC and our alliance, if these stand in the way of its greed. Tenderpreneurship - the collusion between business elements in the private sector with those in the public sector to corruptly capture government tenders - is one such manifestation of this get rich quick mentality. Whilst tenderpreneurship is not inherently counter-revolutionary, but apart from the white racist right wing tendency, it is the most susceptible to degenerating into counter-revolution through its temptation to turn South Africa into one big tender liable to be bought by the highest imperialist bidder! 

It is especially these threats that call for …

True revolutionaries to come to the front!

Revolutionaries are, from our standpoint as communists, both 'timeless' as well as historical and conjunctural! This means that from the standpoint of the SACP revolutionaries, in the first instance, will be all those who are prepared to battle and make sacrifices to relentlessly wage a struggle for the overthrow of the capitalist system and install a socialist order, as part of a continuous struggle to build a communist society. These are communist revolutionaries. But communist revolutionaries are not the only revolutionaries, as historical, epochal and conjunctural challenges throw up their own revolutionaries to advance and take forward the revolutionary tasks of the period.

Just as those who waged a principled struggle against slavery, feudalism and anti-colonial struggles for the installation of a more democratic order in the interests of the majority of the oppressed can justly be regarded as revolutionaries, within the context of the specific revolutionary challenges of the period - to overthrow oppressive regimes.

Indeed our own national democratic revolution has thrown up revolutionaries who have dedicated their lives, and even life, to the cause of the liberation of blacks in general and Africans in particular, through waging a relentless struggle to overthrow colonialism of a special type.

But also, revolutionaries in one set of conjunctural circumstances or period may not necessarily continue to play a revolutionary role in different conditions or circumstances.

The tasks and challenges of communist revolutionaries is that of correctly and properly identifying, as well as enter into alliances, with all genuine revolutionaries in each phase of our revolution. Our national democratic revolution has also been characterized by an alliance of genuine communist, nationalist and other revolutionaries in the struggle to overthrow the apartheid regime.

In the era of the national democratic revolution, revolutionaries are all those who are genuinely committed to the immediate and intermediate tasks of uplifting the conditions of the workers and the poor, as well as the complete destruction of the many conditions that reproduce such inequalities. This of course may not necessarily mean that all such revolutionaries maybe committed to the struggle for the overthrow of the capitalist system, but nevertheless they are committed to a principled struggle to uplift the conditions of the workers and the poor in society.

It is also such revolutionaries who have a genuine commitment, in our case, to the building, strengthening and maintenance of our alliance as the only vehicle to advance such objectives.

Within the ranks of the organized working class, especially in COSATU, there are revolutionaries as well, whose understanding of the trade union struggles go beyond the narrow confines of daily workplace struggles, but embrace the transformation of the whole of society. These would include those who might not necessarily be communists, but still dedicated to the radical restructuring of capitalist relations of production in the interests of the workers and the poor, and who believe that the ANC still remains the prime movement carrying the national aspirations of the black working class in particular. By its very nature, the organized working class would be made up of communists, anti-capitalist but non-communist activists, and ordinary working class cadres committed to the radical improvement of the conditions of the workers and the poor. It is the duty of communists to be at the forefront of uniting all these revolutionaries within the trade union movement, but simultaneously understanding their different location in relation to the struggle for socialism and communism.

In the course of all revolutions, it is indeed possible that some of the nationalist revolutionaries, as has happened in our case, through their struggle experiences, get drawn into the ranks of the communist party. In some other instances some communists have left the SACP, but remained committed revolutionaries. Yet others have left and turned against the SACP. But it is important that these do not cloud our judgement and the necessity for maximum unity amongst genuine revolutionaries; a task at the centre of cementing unity within the national liberation movement.

The current phase of our struggle, to deepen and radicalize the national democratic revolution calls for all true revolutionaries, whether communists, trade unionists or revolutionary nationalists, to close ranks, to defend and advance the most immediate goals of our revolution - poverty eradication, joblessness, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and the necessity for the unity of our alliance as the most important vehicle to carry forward these tasks.

To restate, who is a revolutionary in South Africa today? 

  • Those committed to the struggle for the eradication of poverty
  • Holding dear the principle of total service and dedication to the cause of the majority of our people
  • Committed to defending the unity of our alliance
  • Some of these comrades might be lapsed members of the SACP but have not turned against the SACP or become anti-communist
  • Commitment to the collective leadership style of our movement which is daily being threatened by capitalist greed and the 'get rich quick' mentality
  • Revolutionaries also must understand that not all that sounds revolutionary is actually revolutionary. The task of true revolutionaries is to distinguish between revolutionary rhetoric on the one hand, and revolutionary action, on the other, aimed at transforming the conditions of the overwhelming majority of our people. 

The political line of march!

The tasks of revolutionaries in the current period is perhaps best captured in the ANC Secretary General's preface to the statement of the ANC National Executive Committee meeting of 12-13 March 2010:

"We acknowledge and recognise the leadership role of our movement. This leadership responsibility imposes particular imperatives upon us regarding our revolutionary conduct. Our leadership of the Alliance requires of us to engage in a manner befitting our standing in this revolutionary and strategic Alliance. Similarly, the Alliance as a revolutionary collective that leads society must act, in word and deed, in a way that commands respect among all our people.

"In the recent past we have (been) derailed by issues that are not core to our programme in society. We should remind ourselves, once more, that our mission is to serve the people. In this regard, our commitments as outlined in the 2009 Manifesto serve as our leadership programme in the present context towards the achievement of our stated objective of a united, non- racial, non-sexist, democratic, prosperous South Africa.

"Let us return to the revolutionary conduct and discipline that has earned our movement an honourable place in the hearts of our people, and in the history of struggle. Our forebears entrusted us with this glorious legacy, let us not fail them as we march on in history".

The SACP is in complete agreement with this line of march of all the genuine revolutionary forces to consolidate our democracy. In order to realize the above it is important that the following actions and perspectives be adopted: 

  • For our revolution to succeed it is important that we also mobilize all patriots who are at the very least committed to creating a South Africa where all its people will benefit from a more just political and economic order.
  • Reclaim and placing at centre stage our revolutionary values and morality; values that are at the heart of the interests of the overwhelming majority of our people who thoroughly hate corruption and tenderpreneurship
  • The necessity to deepen mass activism principally based on the Alliance programme of action
  • Mobilisation of all our people, and the working class in particular, to roll back and defeat corruption
  • All the Alliance structures need to intensify political education and mass awareness about the strategy and tactics in the NDR, the role of the working class, and to deepen our cadres and mass understanding of the political economy of our five priorities, and for our cadres to understand the class, racial and gender struggles to be waged in order to realize our strategic objectives
  • An all round campaign needs to be waged to emphasise maximum discipline amongst our cadres and the broader mass of our people, including respect for our people at all times, guided by the urgency to implement the political message of the ANC, 'One message, many voices'. 

Communist cadres to the front!

Working together and in the trenches with all other revolutionaries we can defeat opportunism, rank careerism and tenderpreneurship!


Arusha Declaration

CU, NDR, Part 10c

The Arusha Declaration

So far in this series we have moved through five decades from the 1920s to the 1970s, with sufficient detail to demonstrate that in the world at large and in South Africa in particular, conscious, deliberate National Democratic Revolution was the main historical process under way in that time. In Africa, the process gathered speed from 1960.

On 25 May 1963, earlier regional initiatives, especially the Pan-African Freedom Movement of East, Central and Southern Africa (PAFMECSA), of which Tanzania had been a leading member, gave way for the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Africa Day will be celebrated in a few days time, with most events taking place on Saturday, 29 May 2010.

The last supporting document to the Morogoro Strategy and Tactics is named after another Tanzanian town: Arusha. It is the famous 1967 “Arusha Declaration” of Julius Nyerere and the ruling TANU (Tanganyika African National Union) party of Tanganyika at the time, on Socialism and Self-Reliance. (Tanganyika and Zanzibar united in the following year as Tanzania, and TANU united with the Afro-Shirazi Party in 1977 to become the Chama cha Mapinduzi – “the party of the revolution”, CCM).

This document reflects TANU’s view of the political economy of their country and how it could be led to a better condition (i.e. a better life for all). This document is now over forty years old but at the time of the release of Nelson Mandela it was only a little over twenty years old. Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College was established in Morogoro only about a decade after the Arusha Declaration. (where, in those days, “Arusha Declaration” was slang for “going by foot”).

The document has a peculiar understanding of socialism, which it calls both a policy, and also a belief. Peasants can be as socialist as workers, according to the document. Yet Tanzania did have an understanding that a purely peasant family was not fully socialised. So they encouraged villagisation and rural party organisation according to the “tenth house” (chumba kumi) principle. The document tries to reconcile socialist aspirations and peasant facts of life.

The document is both national-democratic and developmentalist. It prefigured much of what has happened since, including in South Africa, and which is still happening. It prefigures President Zuma’s sentiments about his May, 2010 visit to Sweetwaters, for example, except that South Africans do not say that “money is not the weapon”. On the contrary, in South Africa money, translating into “delivery”, is nearly always thought to be the weapon.

[Image: Mwalimu Julius Nyerere]


Further reading:

18 May 2010

Dealing with the Anti-Communist Tendency

CU, NDR, Part 10b

Dealing with the Anti-Communist Tendency

Following the African National Congress National Executive Committee meeting of 14-16 May 2010, it was reported in the mass media that ANC President Jacob Zuma had referred in his summing-up to the story of the Gang of Eight, and had mentioned at least one of the eight (Kgokong, also known as Mqota) by name.

The National Union of Mineworkers Central Committee, meeting 13-14 May 2010, also resolved as follows:

“CC noted with dismay the current anti-communist tendencies publicly displayed through public platforms and at times hidden under questions already addressed by the SACP CC in the response to the Gang of 8 in 1976. CC rejects any insinuation that the ANC is under serious threat by Communists and the CC further confirms that the ANC class character should be defended, in fact any attempt to chase Communists away or removing them from leadership of the ANC should be rejected by members of the ANC. CC further confirms that any member irrespective of other political activeness who gets nominated and elected in the ANC elective conference is nominated and elected as ANC member by ANC members, this means that there are no Communist or SACP representatives in any structure of the ANC .”

The full text of the SACP CC statement on the Gang of Eight is contained in Document 131 of the volume “South African Communists Speak”, published in 1981, and in the African Communist, 2nd Quarter, 1976. The document, called “The Enemy Hidden Under the Same Colour”, is also archived here. It can also be downloaded in MS Word format by clicking here. It directly quotes from, and reinforces in argument, two of the other main documents used here this week: the “Road to South African Freedom” and the (Morogoro) “Strategy and Tactics” (both linked below).

This Gang-of-Eight document is 14 pages and nearly 9000 words long, and for that reason the shorter 1962 document issued by the SACP following the breakdown of the South Africa United Front because of the treachery of the PAC was to be preferred, and is the one available in hard copy through Jetline (and linked below).

Maybe that was a mistake, because apart from being topical again, the longer document is richer and deeper than the earlier one, and it also adds extensive historical detail to our knowledge of the 1969 Morogoro Conference. Yet the 1976 CC statement itself emphatically makes the link between the two occasions. It refers to the Gang of Eight and the PAC as “Birds of a Feather”. More precisely, it says:

“…like the PAC before them, this group is the expression of a political trend which seeks to dilute and eliminate the revolutionary content of South Africa's liberation struggle. Basically it wants the ANC to return to a type of nationalism which serves only a small elite and not the masses of the oppressed people. The social base for this tendency is to be found amongst those classes and groups within the oppressed who seek the kind of 'liberation' which will, at best, replace the white exploiter with a black exploiter.”

The South Africa United Front, made up of the ANC, PAC, SWANU and SAIC had been put together after Sharpeville. The linked document is a contemporary article by Dr Dadoo about the break-up of the Front and the causes of the break-up, which had to do with the behaviour of the PAC, in particular. This document is useful for its description of the political structures and for Dadoo’s enunciation in it of the general principles of united fronts (which the PAC had violated).

Once again, like all of the main theoretical and programmatic documents of the movement, these are about National Democratic Revolution in particular. More than most, they deal with it directly and in its most difficult aspects. The 1976 document unequivocally denounces “the type of nationalism which is not revolutionary but reactionary”.

It goes on to say:

“Our movement has never hidden the fact that there is a relationship between the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party on those questions of policy which both organisations share in common. In particular both organisations believe that in the present stage of the revolutionary process in South Africa, the primary aim is the national liberation of the most exploited and most oppressed section of the South African people - the Africans.”

This formulation, which is cheaply denounced as “stagism” by the camp-following panders and scavengers of the revolution, is actually the very understanding which liberates the National Democratic Revolution from “stewing in its own juice” in the manner proposed by the 2007 Strategy and Tactics, as we discussed here. Because as Joe Slovo later wrote in “The South African Working class and the National Democratic Revolution”, (1988, which we will come to next week in this series) the point about a stage is that it is followed by another stage.

Tomorrow, in the interest of an all-round view of the politics of National Democratic Revolution, we will look at Tanzania’s Arusha Declaration, forever associated with the late Mwalimu (“Teacher”) Julius Nyerere.

[Image: Dr Yusuf Dadoo, President of the South African Indian Congress, Chairman of the SACP, Vice-chairman of the Revolutionary Council]


Further reading: