30 December 2007

Outrage!

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Our main picture today is of ANC Deputy Secretary-General Thandi Modise. Following after the image of ANC National Chairperson Baleka Mbete, it highlights the fact that the ANC National Executive Committee is now 50% women. This NEC is now going to have to call President Thabo Mbeki to order, or failing that to require him, as a deployed member of the ANC, to relinquish his position.

This much is clear from the linked items below. They begin with three very outspoken statements released yesterday by the SACP, COSATU, and the YCL. The fourth item is the front-page “splash” from today’s Johannesburg Sunday Times, which also records remarks of ANCYL President Fikile Mbalula and others.

Even if the removal of Thabo Mbeki from his deployed position in national government is avoided, and a forced modus vivendi worked out between the two centres of power from now until the scheduled date of the next general election, everything has already changed. Mbeki’s repeated, underhand attempts to gain the advantage again since Polokwane have destroyed the possibility of trusting the man, forever.

These attempts culminated in a crude and flagrant act of abuse of the law by Mbeki, working through his pawn Mokotedi Mpshe, when on Friday an “indictment” was furtively pushed under the door of ANC President Jacob Zuma’s Forest Town home while he was away in KZN, without a hearing to fix dates or to arrange bail terms.

COSATU is calling all this a “constitutional crisis”. It is hard to see what is mean by that term in these circumstances. The constitution seems adequate to the task, and clear. The ANC was elected by proportional representation, on a list system, whereby Members of Parliament can be recalled and replaced at any time by the party to which they belong. The constitution therefore leaves the power to appoint MPs and through them, the President of the country, firmly in the hands of the majority party. This is currently the ANC, which secured 70% of the vote in the last general election.

The fact that this arrangement was shoved through in the last moments of the constitution-building process by Thabo Mbeki’s heavy handlanger, Essop Pahad, is merely one of the ironies of life. Of course it is not an ideal arrangement. Constituency members with tenure given by voters, and not by party, would be much better. But that point does not make a constitutional crisis. Such a crisis would only arise in present circumstances if the location of authority was unclear, or disputed, which is not the case. Authority rests with the ANC, whose President is Jacob Zuma. Jacob Zuma is senior to Thabo Mbeki in both the national constitution and in the ANC constitution. Mbeki must submit, or go. (See the picture of him, looking more than half crazy, from the Sunday Times, right.)

The fifth item is not unrelated. The Communist University ignored the Reverend Professor Barney Pityana’s diatribe in last week’s City Press up to now. But we are happy to publish today a fine rebuttal by Mxolisi Mlatha, kindly sent in by e-mail, as well as a splendidly-captioned letter (“Pityana should enrol in political education”) by Maboku Mangena from today’s City Press, plus the original Pityana tract, all in one document.

Finally: The ANC’s media releases should all arrive by e-mail to subscribers, but some can only be found on the
ANC web site press release page. One press release that the previously CU missed announced that: “ANC Gauteng Province has come to the conclusion that there is no basis to institute any disciplinary process against Comrade Bob Mabaso. We now consider the matter closed. We hope Comrade Bob Mabaso will put it behind him and focus on the task of serving our movement. For more information contact Nkenke Kekana (ANC Gauteng PEC Head of Communications) on 082 900 0096. Comrade Bob Mabaso can be contacted on 082 302 8697”.

Will Bob Mabaso now be compensated for the loss of his positions and the distress caused by the complaint of sexual harassment and attempted rape lodged by Ms Nonqeba Mosunkutu?

Click on these links:

Recharging of ANC President Cde Jacob Zuma, SACP (950 words)

Continuing violation of Jacob Zuma’s human rights, COSATU (608 words)

Charges brought against ANC President Jacob Zuma, YCL (501 words)

Zuma Men Target Mbeki, Harper, Boyle, Malefane, S Times (933 words)

Response to Barney Pityana, Mxolisi Mlatha (1148 words, + Mangena letter + Pityana article)

COSATU’s New Year message for 2008 (1629 words)

28 December 2007

Who Are We?

12 comments
Thabo Mbeki’s world is circumscribed. Like a child testing the limits of its mother’s tolerance, he goes to the limit, and a little beyond. Then he looks back. If he has got away with it, he will crawl a little further.

In his last
ANC Today letter, in his post-Polokwane personal press conference, in his TV interview with Thabiso Makwetla and Miranda Strydom on 23 December, and especially in his defiant announcement of the SABC board which everyone who had faced him in Polokwane had already rejected, Mbeki was provocatively testing limits. It is sad to see a man regress to infantile behaviour.

There was even more of it behind the scenes. Karima Brown, in the first article linked below, quotes an un-named ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) member as saying: “It’s going to be a very trying time. The president is trying to incite us by not showing any kind of respect for the new leadership. I am afraid that he is trying to push us to do things that I personally do not think we should be doing.”

Thabo Mbeki cannot exercise personal discretion now that he is no longer the President of the ANC. He must serve the new ANC President, Jacob Zuma, with as much deference and loyalty as he is supposed to have served the late O R Tambo. He must do what he is told and nothing more. If that is too difficult for him, and he chooses to resign, people will understand. The Mbekis will not starve.

“If they [government] defy us [the ANC], we will punish them, said Billy Masetlha (see below). “The ANC has done it in the past,” said Masetlha. (Picture: new ANC National Chairperson, Baleka Mbete)

Now hear this! The Mail and Guardian newspaper has started a blog section on its web site where specially-invited tame bloggers are allowed to write. Whether they get paid or not, we don’t know. What we know is that these bloggers (as of yesterday there were 97 listed) are called “Thought Leaders”. If you think this is a bit arrogant, just wait until you see the breakdown of the 97 (based on the photos and the biographies given) listed contributors yesterday:

Men: 73% Women: 27%

Whites: 70% African South Africans: 9%

This “Thought Leader” blog section has only been going for a few weeks. Nobody can say that its outrageous lack of representivity is some kind of “apartheid legacy”. So what are these M&G people (e.g. M&G editor Ferial Haffejee) trying to do? It looks very much like they don’t want the young writers of the YCL and the ANCYL, for example, to be “Thought Leaders” in South Africa today. They could have invited people from
The Bottomline or from Hlomelang, but they did not do that.

It looks like they want to select and to set up in business the kinds of role models that they think are good, and these role models are mostly white and male. One way to turn this situation round is to go to the Thought Leader pages (starting at
http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/ ) and start commenting on the blogs that you find there. Give those “Thought Leaders” something to think about!

The second last item is the
SADTU statement on the matric results. 21,500 failed in Gauteng alone, according to today’s “Star” newspaper. According to SADTU, 40% of learners do not even reach the stage of writing matric, countrywide. What happens to all these young people? What do they need?

One thing they need is political education. In the last item, published yesterday, a judge, Nigel Willis, reflects on the condition of young men these days. He sees a real problem. He worries about genetics, of which he knows little. He wonders about fatherhood, and role models. The
Communist University is in no doubt that political education is the answer. Not the white, male typical role models of the Mail and Guardian’s, “Thought Leader” arrogance, or any other such models, but instead Freirean critical pedagogy.

Click on these links:

Fired spy boss warns Mbeki and cabinet, Karima Brown, B Day (640 words)

Thought Leader bloggers on the M and G web site, 27 December 2007 (table)

SADTU on Matric Results, 2007 (1113 words)

What turns boys into misfits?, Judge Nigel Willis, Business Day (822 words)

24 December 2007

Pundits

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A great rush of new facts and opinions produced a rich and useful mix of reportage yesterday. There was too little time for a lot of spin.

In the same way, the recent fast-moving events have produced some great commentary journalism, even if it is a little behind the fast-moving news. The news shows that at the same time as “the people have taken back the party” from Thabo Mbeki, they have also set the man free of the ANC constraints that have to some extent bound him, and therefore have made him even more “Bonapartist” than before.

The term “Bonapartism” does not refer to the first emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. It refers to the latter’s nephew, Louis Bonaparte (a.k.a. Napoleon III, see picture). This character was literally a “returned exile” who managed to grab the leading position in France shortly after the revolution of 1848, even though he had no constituency of support or "power base" of his own. He continued to rule over the country for the next twenty years by playing one class off against another. Karl Marx said of him that he could be everything, because in himself he was nothing.

Be that as it may, the four items linked below, by Jeremy Gordin, Moipone Malefane, Kaizer Nyatsumba, and Cameron Duodu, are all well written and highly readable, and deserve to be archived and re-read in the future.

We recall that Kaizer Nyatsumba did a famous interview with Thabo Mbeki in The Star in the mid-1990s, not long after the beginning of Mbeki’s term as First Deputy President. That was before the Star was being archived on the Internet, it seems. Or perhaps those archives are there, but not available to the public. Either way, this kind of thing is one reason why the Communist University archives stuff. You can’t always rely on other people to hold on to the material that you think is most interesting, or to keep it publicly available, or to refrain from deleting it altogether.

Click on these links:

The people have taken back the party, Jeremy Gordin, Sindy (1572 words)

Mbeki puts blame on himself, Moipone Malefane, Sunday Times (510 words)

We should rejoice at Zuma victory, Kaizer Nyatsumba, S Times (1560 words)

The people have spoken on Msholozi, Cameron Duodu, City Press (569 words)

No Coup d’Etat

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The Communist University is supposed to be taking it easy. So what are we doing here on Christmas Eve?

Well, for a few hours yesterday it began to look as if Thabo Mbeki was preparing a coup d’etat. The denials contained in his post-Polokwane personal press conference and the further denials and blamings in his
ANC Today letter looked like part of a deliberate build-up. When he announced that the gerrymandered, unrepresentative SABC board had been confirmed, and that he would address the nation on that same TV service, we began to fear a putsch.

Exactly why the SABC board confirmation is so outrageously provocative is made clear in the SACP statement, linked below. Apart from the specific history behind this act of Thabo Mbeki’s, it also serves to remind us that the power of patronage that goes with the Presidency of the Republic is still in the man’s personal hands, and that he intends to use it to his personal advantage. The man is literally out of control.

So we feared a coup; plus, all of a sudden, the broader crisis that some of us had seen coming was all over the newspapers. The rest of the linked items below come from three different Johannesburg Sunday newspapers. They range between the general question of “two centres of power”, back to the particular and sensitive matter of the SABC board and the blatant use of the SABC for partisan and factional propaganda. A glance at the titles of these documents gives a good idea of what is in them. But opening and reading them is better!

One CU reader has pointed out that in the French experiences of “cohabitation”, there was always a “winner” and therefore also a loser. In less than a week it has already become clear that this must be the case in South Africa, too. The situation is adversarial. The contradiction is antagonistic. The “battle of the two Presidents” is in full swing. Goodwill could perhaps change this, but on the TM side there is no goodwill, only denial, hatred and resentment.

We were relieved when Mbeki eventually came on-screen at 20h00. It was not after all to the sound of martial music and the announcement of curfews. Instead it was a pat-a-cake, milk-toast session of sweetheart questions from Miranda Strydom and Thabiso Makwetla. Mbeki said that he did not know why Jacob Zuma had been preferred over him for President of the ANC. He denied that he is “aloof”. He appeared to be slightly drunk.

We know that there are not very many of you out there reading this. This edition is for CU archive of documents as much as for anything else. Journalism is sometimes called “the first draft of history”. On days like yesterday, the meaning of this saying is extra clear. There were so many facts and opinions hitting the journalists that they hardly had time or space for spin-doctoring. The result is a strong, raw kind of empirical reporting that is very powerful and that will be useful as a resource for longer-term studies.

So here is a selection of yesterday’s reports for the archives, if nothing else. The next post will carry four outstanding opinion pieces from the same Sunday newspapers.

Click on these links:

SACP Statement on the appointment of the new SABC Board (290 words)

Two centres of power clash, Jeremy Gordin, Sunday Independent (1031 words)

Mbeki fights back, Harper, Mahlangu, Mkhabela, Malefane, S Times (1025 words)

New Mbeki, ANC clash over SABC board, Kgosana, Mofokeng, C Press (855 words)

The war goes on, Mbeki SABC board outrage, Angela Qintal, Sindy (932 words)

Doom and gloom for the three SABC stooges, Harper, S Times (355 words)

22 December 2007

Cohabitation

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“Cohabitation” is a French word that means “living together”. In politics, it refers to a situation where the French President, who is individually elected, comes from one party (the Gaullists, say); while the Prime Minister, who is head of government, leads another party (such as the Socialists, for example).

In other words they are divorced, but still living in the same house.

The present situation in South Africa is cohabitation with a difference.

President Thabo Mbeki continues to be the head of government, not for any positive reason but only because of inertia. Nobody wants to risk trying to remove him. He no longer holds any positions in the party (the ANC) which deployed him to be the president of the country, except that of ordinary member.

Mbeki is not an elected member of the ANC National Executive Committee. Nor is he an ex-officio member of that body. The President of France campaigns with the support of a party, but is elected individually. In South Africa this is not the case. Here, the parties are given seats according to proportional representation. The Parliamentary majority then appoints the President. The ANC currently holds more than two thirds of the seats in the South African Parliament.

Thabo Mbeki’s party has repudiated him. For as long as he remains, by default, the president of the country, he is a President divorced from party; and this is the difference between our situation and that of a cohabitation in France. Thabo Mbeki stands alone, “representing his jacket” as our own political slang describes such a situation, but still making appointments and ordering people about.

Apart from defending him from unjust persecution, the campaign around Jacob Zuma has been based on one uniting principle, which is that the government must listen to the people who put it there. That means specifically the ANC and its Alliance Partners, namely COSATU and the SACP.

At this moment, the pro-Zuma campaign has not succeeded in gaining one centimetre of ground in this regard. It has actually slipped backwards. Instead of having more control over government following Polokewane, the ANC has in effect cut Thabo Mbeki and the rest of the government free of the ANC.

That this is so is proved by the defiant press conference that Thabo Mbeki held on 21 December 2007, the day after the close of the 52nd National Conference that deposed him from the Presidency of the ANC. In this press conference Mbeki continued to pronounce on matters that are the prerogative of the head of the ANC. The first of these concerns the duration of his remaining term of office, and that of the Provincial Premiers. Both of these are ANC prerogatives, and not Mbeki's any more. Other such pronouncements included double-talk on the relocation of the Scorpions, and on the charging of Jacob Zuma, which continues to be trailed in front of the media after seven years, without actually taking place.

Another proof of Mbeki’s defiance is his confirmation of the SABC board that was procured by his own office, as we know (see the two linked items, below). Another proof of his defiance is
his contribution to the last “ANC Today” where he blames everybody but himself for his downfall.

We remember that following the 2005 ANC National General Council, Mbeki defied the NGC in a TV interview immediately afterwards by starting his campaign for a third term as ANC President. After the ANC National Policy Conference in June 2007, Mbeki once again refused to accept the clearly-expressed view of that body that there should not be “two centres of power”. He insisted on maintaining his candidacy for the ANC Presidency to the bitter end, denialist that he is.

This Communist University, student as it is of all things political, has warned of trouble in the event of a cohabitation such as the one we now have. As usual, those who want power are going to have to seize it, or lose their opportunity. If the government is to be made to respond to the ANC and to the Alliance, then these subjects will have to assert themselves.

Tomorrow evening at 20h00, President Mbeki (who announced on Friday that he was leaving for a holiday) is going to address the country on television (SABC2). He could resign at that point, or he could continue to thumb his nose at democracy. We shall see. He is not doing it just to pass the time.

Click on these links:

COSATU condemns approval of new SABC Board (355 words)

YCL statement on 'Mbeki Appoints SABC Board' (245 words)

21 December 2007

Msholozi and Friends

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Linked below is ANC President Jacob Zuma’s unforgettable speech to the closing session of the 52nd ANC National Conference, at Polokwane.

Also linked below is the Conference Declaration. This declaration is
also published in the first post-Polokwane “ANC Today”, which also contains a letter from President Jacob Zuma and another one from President Thabo Mbeki.

Click here to open the ANC’s page of links to other Conference Documents. Still to came at this moment are Resolutions, Constitution, and Strategy and Tactics.

This should be the last substantial Communist University post this year, and it was intended to be a simple one. It has taken much longer than expected but it now gives a very full picture (taking all the linked documents together) of who was elected to the new ANC National Executive Committee, who was nominated but not elected, and who was on the outgoing NEC. The full result of the “top six” office-bearers’ election is given again, as a document this time. The previous attempt to include it here as an image file was not a success. Hence you have four documents today that, taken together, will tell you nearly everything you need or want to know about the elections at Polokwane.

One very outstanding aspect of this 52nd ANC National Conference process was the way that it succeeded in producing more than sufficient women nominees so that when the decision was taken to go ahead with the “50-50” resolution, the organisation took the subsequent election in its stride and appeared to have no difficulty in electing the requisite 41 woman additional members to the NEC.

This is really a triumph, and it can provide a good example for the SACP of what can be done and how it can be done. It can also provide a practical help to the Party in the form of the new pool of female leadership that has been brought forward in this great mass organisation. There can be no revolution without the wholehearted agency of masses of women.

We made a false start with the Progressive Women’s Movement. The latter is no more than a funded storefront for rent to any funder of the day, whether corporate or state. 50-50 parity in formal structures is a huge advance as compared with that. It is not the end of the road but it takes us a long way forward. It will stand to the eternal credit of the African National Congress.

The last linked item is Ranjeni Munusamy’s article from today’s Star. We may forgive, but we must not forget.

Click on these links:

ANC President Jacob Zuma, closing 52nd National Conference (2354 words)

Declaration of the ANC 52nd National Conference (998 words)

New ANC National Executive Committee elected at 52nd Conference

Nominated but not elected to the ANC NEC at the 52nd National Congress

Outgoing ANC NEC prior to 52nd National Conference

ANC NEC top six (office bearers) election results at 52nd Conference

Zuma can heal the ANC, Ranjeni Munusamy, The Star (1065 words)

19 December 2007

Msholozi Stage One

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Jacob Zuma is the new President of the African National Congress!

Most of the recipients of this distribution are supporters of JZ, Msholozi. Words to carry their joy are flying everywhere. We cannot match them or collect them all. We can at least mention that Karl Niehaus was impressive on SAFM (PM Live). JZ himself is expected to speak tomorrow. The SACP’s statement on the victory is linked below. Also linked is the statement of the South African Security Forces Union (SASFU), with some definite suggestions about what should be done, and what wrongs righted as far as they are concerned. The next item is an interview of Cde General Siphiwe Nyanda, former chief of the SA National Defence Force, by Jeremy Gordin, which is very revealing of the situation prior to the vote that confirmed Cde JZ as ANC President. Another revelation is the Sapa story, re-told in the Business Day, showing what Trevor Manuel is like when he loses his temper. It doesn’t look like Manuel is going to be top of the pops in the NEC elections this time round.

The following table of top six results is the best one so far. It is from
Politicsweb’s James Myburgh, who obviously knows how to construct a good spreadsheet. Sorry for the small size of it. Blogger doesn't seem to take tables, so this one has been made into a JPG image. You could enlarge it in your browser or download it and enlarge it in "Paint" if is not legible enough.



The last item needs some explanation. It is the last part of the last text in the first section of the Communist University 2008 Programme. As such it is a marker for where the whole initial set, titled “Can we do without a Communist Party?” is heading, and it is extremely relevant to this moment of change and rededication of the ANC. It is Rosa Luxemburg’s words on the necessity, and the nature, of Trade Union – Party unity. Please read it comrades, if you read nothing else, over the Christmas break.

Because, following the close of the 52nd Conference in Polokwane, the next step forward is the January 8th Statement, and after that we are going tohave an “interregnum” or “cohabitation” during which the difficult Cde Mbeki and his crew will continue to wield state power and patronage, and to make appointments. Yet the meaning of Cde JZ’s victory is as nothing until it succeeds in causing the executive to come under the direction of the political formations of the country.

SACP GS Dr
Blade Nzimande said today that the division of authority between the government and the ANC over the next 18 months until the end of Mbeki’s term “is a period we need to manage with care. It can be fraught with all sorts of complications.”

Click on these links:

ANC Conference a platform for a fresh start, SACP (689 words)

SASFU reaction to the ANC Conference results (252 words)

Planned offensive against Zuma bloc, Jeremy Gordin, The Star (471 words)

Manuel hits at media with a brolly, Sapa, Business Day (433 words)

Rosa Luxemburg, 1906, The Mass Strike, C8, Need for TU-Party unity (5091 words)

16 December 2007

This revolution will be blogged

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No apologies for borrowing the title today from The Times’ Dominic Mahlangu in his electrifying blog from the 52nd ANC Conference venue in Polokwane, Limpopo Province, quoted below. Mahlangu is not doubt picking up from Blade Nzimande’s quote (in yesterday’s Sunday Times) from Buti Manamela who said that the struggles of ordinary women “are not being televised”, which in turn is a quote from a poem by Gil Scott-Heron (picture), “The revolution will not be televised”, also used in a film about President Hugo Chavez and Venezuela.

This is how it goes these days. A revolutionary message can rock around the world and back in hours, or even in a few minutes.

As Andrew Marvell once wrote: “If we cannot make the Sun stand still, then we will make him run!”

If we the revolution will not be televised, well then, from now on it will be blogged!

This massive ANC Conference is the first one to be blogged, big-time by well-resourced multiple bloggers, some of them working in teams. If you know of any others, please let the Communist University know. In the mean time here are three thrilling sources of eye-witness blogs, in the CU’s order of preference:

1.
The Times Politically Correct

This is a team of no less than seven bloggers including the crackling
Dominic Mahalangu and the swashbuckling Xolani Xundu . These guys are enjoying themselves and they have cameras! And you can comment right back to them! Just click where it says “comments”.


2.
Apropos Polokwane (City Press/News24)

Caiphas Kgosana’s apparently solo effort, but still great journalism and pictures, too!


3.
Inside IOL

This one’s by somebody called only Juanita. Still good, and also with photos


Here is Dominic Mahlangu’s
historic blog:

This revolution will be blogged by Dominic Mahlangu

I am inside the ANC National Conferance and for the first time a revolution is being captured live by journalists who have turned into blogging.


As this blog continues to post news tips, it is proving too difficult for the ANC people to keep this revolution in close doors.


Inside the hall where I am, we are blogging and bring you the news that can be suppressed by the ANC and formal media rules and regulations.


This tool of blogging is vital in shaping democracy both within and outside the ANC. Never before in the history of the ANC has such howling and open defiance been registered.

Cde Blade's Statement

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This extra posting serves the purpose of carrying SACP GS (and ANC NEC member) Dr Blade Nzimande’s important statement, published in the Johannesburg Sunday Times this morning.

Cde Blade’s statement is linked below.


Corrections to the post “Biosis Shmiosis”

There was an error in the earlier CU post headed “Biosis Shmiosis”. The post was in part a response to the “lodging of papers” by the Scorpions on Friday, 14 December 2007. This practical non-event was given headline treatment by the SABC and by the Saturday newspapers. In the post the date of the “lodging” was originally given as 14 November 2007. This has now been corrected on the blog version of the post, to 14 December 2007. Some other, minor corrections have also been made to the post.

The “Biosis Shmiosis” post is intended to help to lay the basis for the full and speedy reversal of the Squires verdict on Schabir Shaik, so that he may walk free again, and so that all South Africans may be rescued from the pernicious effects of Hilary Squires’ meddling with the law.

The full, corrected post can be opened by clicking on the following link:

http://domza.blogspot.com/2007/12/biosis-shmiosis.html#links

Good luck and best wishes to all Polokwane delegates.

Click on this link:

No less than our revolution is at stake in Polokwane, Nzimande, S Times (691 words)

Biosis Shmiosis

7 comments
The judgement of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in the matter of the conviction of Schabir Shaik was delivered on 6 November 2007.

Judge Hilary Squires (pictured, right, with Schabir Shaik, inset) had delivered his verdict 17 months earlier, at the end of May, 2005.

The “central finding” of Squires’ judgement, upheld by the SCA, was that Shaik made payments to Jacob Zuma with the intention of influencing Zuma to perform his duties "in a way that would be of advantage to Shaik's commercial interests".

The Supreme Court of Appeal wrote in its judgement:

“Between 1996 and 2002 Shaik and Mr Jacob Zuma engaged in what the trial court appropriately called ‘a generally corrupt relationship’ which involved frequent payments by Shaik to or on behalf of Zuma and a reciprocation by Zuma in the form of the bringing to bear of political influence on behalf of Shaik’s business interests when requested to do so.”

On 11 November 2007, after the SCA had delivered its verdict, the Business Day “Weekender” newspaper
published a letter from the original court judge, Hilary Squires. It was posted to the web on 13 November 2007. Part of Squires’ letter reads as follows:

“The only question in that trial was Shaik’s own state of mind when he made the admitted payments to, or on behalf of, Jacob Zuma, namely, whether by doing so, he intended to influence the recipient in the exercise of his official duties. Jacob Zuma’s state of mind when he received these benefits was never an issue, nor was any finding made about it. There was no need for any conclusion regarding the state of affairs between them, nor was one made.


”To the best of my recollection the phrase in question [“a generally corrupt relationship”] was used by the prosecutor in one of his pictorial presentations as part of his argument at the end of the trial. It was put into quotation marks by some sub-editor in a report covering the State’s case, and has been mindlessly parroted ever since as a finding by the Court by many of the journalists who have felt the need to write about the ongoing saga.

”Unless you can indicate to the contrary, please note that I did not make the statement and it should therefore not be attributed to me. I have long since advised your Editor of this but he has clearly not disseminated the correction to his staff.”

In a subsequent statement posted on the Business Day web site on 14 November 2007, the SCA stated (in part):

"(iii) The trial court found in the context of the corruption charges that the evidence established a 'mutually beneficial symbiosis' between Mr Shaik and Mr Zuma.

"The trial court stated the following: 'It would be flying in the face of common sense and ordinary human nature to think that he (Shaik) did not realise the advantages to him of continuing to enjoy Zuma’s goodwill to an even greater extent than before 1997; and even if nothing was ever said between them to establish the mutually beneficial symbiosis that the evidence shows existed, the circumstances of the commencement and the sustained continuation thereafter of these payments, can only have generated a sense of obligation in the recipient.

‘If Zuma could not repay money, how else could he do so than by providing the help of his name and political office as and when it was asked, particularly in the field of government contracted work, which is what Shaik was hoping to benefit from. And Shaik must have foreseen and, by inference, did foresee that if he made these payments, Zuma would respond in that way. The conclusion that he realised this, even if only after he started the dependency of Zuma upon his contributions, seems to us to be irresistible.' — See judgment of the court, trial transcript, page 6556.

"(iv) The SCA considered these findings to be central to the conclusion of the trial court on count 1 — see paragraph (33) of the SCA judgment. The quoted words, incorrectly and regrettably ascribed to the trial judge, are consistent with the passage quoted above and appropriately summarise what the SCA found.

"(v) The trial court’s view of the “symbiosis” between Mr Zuma and Mr Shaik was confirmed by the SCA in various parts of its judgment, which ultimately conveyed that on the evidence in this case an overall corrupt relationship existed."

What is at stake?

What is the problem here? Why are these judges playing mind-games and word-games with and against each other?

First, let us not forget that a middle-aged married father, Schabir Shaik, is incarcerated under a 15-year sentence and has had approximately R33 million confiscated from him.

But further than that, the whole basis upon which a distinction is made between what is normal and what is criminal in a capitalist society is being argued here, although argued in code, as it seems.

More particularly, the basis upon which legitimate business interests are allowed to further those interests through representative politics is being delimited, and more narrowly still, the basis upon which donations to politicians may be made, or otherwise held to be corrupt and penalised.

Perhaps above all, state agencies are intervening in a way that is timed and calculated to affect the electoral prospects of one individual, Jacob Zuma, and therefore to affect the outcome of political processes involving huge numbers of South Africans, currently culminating in the largest festival of democracy that the country has ever seen, in Polokwane, Limpopo Province, at the 52nd National Conference of the ANC.

We could place even more emphasis on all of this and say that the country’s freedom is at issue once again. The courts, the state’s investigative agencies, the political process and the constitution itself are all being corrupted in the attempt to construct a bogus “corruption” framework around Jacob Zuma.

There are other aspects to the original Shaik case which are of interest in other ways, but here we are considering what has been referred to as the “central finding” of the case, only.

Announcement on 14 December 2007

On Friday, 14 December 2007 on the last working day prior to the 52nd ANC National Conference, at which Jacob Zuma is to contest the Presidency of that organisation, in a vote commencing on Sunday, 16 November, documents from the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) Directorate of Special Operations (DSO, or Scorpions; see the picture on the right of their chief, Leonard McCarthy) were “lodged” with the Constitutional Court. This “lodging” was announced to the mass media and played as the first item on the state broadcaster’s (SABC) television News, and widely splashed in the print media the following morning. The
report in the Weekender is here.

The essence of these “papers” as announced on these newspaper reports, is to reiterate the “central finding” of the Shaik judgement. It spite of the headlines that speak of “damning new evidence”, there is no qualitatively new matter at issue here, but only an extrapolation of the same scheme of argument with marginally more, allegedly new evidence of the same general kind. This point will be examined in more detail below.

The implication is clear that there is an intention to charge and try Jacob Zuma for corruption on the same basis that the convicted person, Shaik, was tried, in the “central finding” of that trial. (The new allegations of tax evasion would only arise in the wake of a successful finding on the facts of the case. These tax allegations are secondary and derivative of, and irrelevant to the “central finding”).

The shape of the Shaik prosecution argument and judicial conviction

The way that the Shaik case was constructed by the prosecution under Downer and judged upon by Squires is so surprising and contrary to popular understandings of justice that it encourages people, consciously or unconsciously, to supply reasons for what has happened, reasons that do not exist.

The understanding that people have of corruption, or more particularly of bribery, is that the corrupter pays the corruptee for an illegitimate favour. An example would be handing one’s ID to a police officer at a roadblock with a R100 note tucked into it, in the expectation that the officer will take the R100 and let you off from a speeding fine or whatever it may be. As in a contract, it would be have to be demonstrated that the money was given in exchange for the favour, or as it is put in contract law, for “consideration”.

In the Shaik case there was no attempt to link any particular payment with any particular favour. This is unique. It is therefore new law, made by Squires.

It is not unusual for judges to make new law. That is what books of “precedents” are all about. Each precedent is a new piece of law made by a judge in a court, which other judges afterwards follow.

What is unusual, or even outrageous, in this case is the enormous leap that the judgement makes, the vast change in the law that it creates, and that Judge Squires at the same time made no attempt to underline or point out the new law that he had made. The coy way that he approached the Business Day, so many months later, with his sideways acknowledgement of what he had done, is a clear indication that he intended to “smuggle” this new law in, under cover of the ballyhoo around Jacob Zuma.

The matter of the phrase “generally corrupt relationship” is not an example of a mistake or of bad journalism, as the judge encourages us to think. The phrase goes to the heart of the matter, and whatever Squires may say or not say, it did arise within his court and he watched while it ran its course for nearly 17 months. Not for nothing did the cartoonist Zapiro compare him to Rip van Winkle, waking up to find devastation all around him. But Zapiro was wrong, because Squires was awake all that time.

Squires’ denial is disingenuous, anyway. The term “symbiosis” that he used is even more contentious. It is borrowed from science and has no standing in law at all. Yet it is intended to mean exactly what “generally corrupt relationship” means. The Judge is playing a shell game, switching words, and hoping we will lose sight of the meaning. This judge is a legal hooligan, cynically and wickedly wrecking and smashing the law, and keeping silent as people get hurt as a consequence of his actions. Squires has done far worse than Schabir Shaik ever did.

However, it was the miserable prosecutor Downer (pictured, right) who set the whole thing up. How did he do it?

Downer took everything that the huge resources of the NPA/Scorpions could find for him about things that Schabir Shaik had done for his friend Jacob Zuma over an approximately eight-year period (or perhaps even longer than that) up to 2003. These were said to number approximately 229 items over the period. The admitted total payments of R888 thousand made in the period to or on behalf of Zuma included school and university fees for Zuma’s children, travel costs, motor vehicle repair costs, new tyres for a motor vehicle, bond arrears, instalment sale arrears for a number of motor vehicles, R15 000 Christmas spending in 1997, clothing costs and telephone accounts, and rental on a flat in a building called Malington Place, where Jacob Zuma stayed for a while as Shaik’s guest.

These amounts were listed on one side of an imaginary ledger account and totalled up to a bottom-line figure of R1.2 million (in the prosecution’s slightly higher calculation than the common-cause figure of R888 thousand).

On the other side of the ledger there was another list, this time consisting of favours that Zuma was supposed to have done for Shaik. They were only four in number. Three of them were instances where Zuma was supposed to have taken part in business discussions that produced no outcome in terms of business for Shaik. Zuma was MEC for Economic Affairs and Tourism for KwaZulu Natal from April 1994 to June 1999. The fourth item, the only one where Shaik was effectively helped, was when Zuma intervened at Shaik’s request, in Zuma’s capacity as MEC, to scotch rumours that Shaik was unpopular with Nelson Mandela and/or Thabo Mbeki, which rumour was affecting Shaik’s business relations. This was part of Zuma's duties at the time as Economic Affairs MEC.


The document "lodged" on Friday with the Constitutional Court does not change the above "ledger" scheme, but only adds more time and therefore more items to the list. To call it "damning" or "new" is a gross distortion. It is only more of the same, again hoping to achieve with sheer bulk what cannot be argued in detail.

Downer made no attempt to connect any particular payment on the one side of the imaginary ledger account with any particular one of the alleged favours that Zuma is supposed to have done. Instead, the notional bottom line on the one side was held to correspond with the notional bottom line on the other side. The connection was not made particular, it was left as general. Downer and Squires agreed that:

“It would be flying in the face of common sense and ordinary human nature to think that he (Shaik) did not realise the advantages to him of continuing to enjoy Zuma’s goodwill to an even greater extent than before 1997; and even if nothing was ever said between them to establish the mutually beneficial symbiosis that the evidence shows existed, the circumstances of the commencement and the sustained continuation thereafter of these payments, can only have generated a sense of obligation in the recipient.”

Of course, common sense about bribery is different and opposite from what Squires and subsequently the SCA have laid down in this way. Common sense is that you pay a particular amount, as a bribe, to get a particular favour. Common sense says that bribery has all the characteristics of a commercial transaction at the invoice stage, and not at the statement stage without any invoice stage.

Bribery by symbiosis is nothing like common sense. Bribery by symbiosis is a new invention, never heard of before, brought in by Squires.

The attribution of this new law to common sense is a deception. It is not common sense that decided what was in the mind of Shaik. There was nothing common about that determination. It was a pure guess by the judge, based on nothing at all. This precedent means that if you give money to somebody, a judge can call it what he likes, including corruption. And if he so decides, he can send you to prison for it for at least 15 years and take at least R33 million from you, only because he says you are corrupt.

The scientific, and not legal, word “symbiosis” is Ancient Greek. It is not surprising, and in fact in spite of Squires sarcasm, it is laudable, that the journalists (and at first, the SCA) preferred to run with the more familiarly English phrase “generally corrupt relationship”. This phrase of Downer’s is accurate as a description of the “ledger” scheme of argument that he used, where he did not, and was not required by the judge to, attribute any particular favour to be a consequence of any particular payment.

General is the opposite of particular. The non-legal word “symbiosis”, on the other hand, which is the one preferred by Judge Squires, tends to obscure the legal leap from particular to general. It obscures the escape that the judge allowed Downer to make from the common-sense and common-law obligation to show evidence of an exchange of a particular amount of money for a particular consideration, or favour.

Why does it matter?

It matters a lot that the law should be reasonable. If the law is not amenable to reason, but is merely the product of the unaccountable individual feelings of a judge, then we have reverted to a condition more primitive than trial by ordeal.

Further than that, it is clear and was clear to the SCA, that this new concept of broad “symbiosis” would have to be distinguished in some way from the general run of transactions and exchanges, as well as from unilateral gifts of money and good works done for the benefit of others, whether individuals or for broader society.

Otherwise, such a symbiosis could be construed or constructed from records, provided one had the resources and the power to discover them (as the NPA has). In that case the commerce of the country would be in danger of being inhibited by the unpredictable harassments of both petty tyrants and of large-scale manipulators. The survival of free-market capitalism is in theory at stake.

The SCA showed some degree of awareness of the necessity of limiting the effects of the new, Squires-made law of “symbiosis” so that it would not eat into the fabric of the business economy, like acid.

As a result they found themselves being propelled back to the time of the Regents of the first bourgeois republic, the United Netherlands, who in 1651, following the case of Jan van Riebeeck’s trading “on his own account” in Vietnam, issued a “Placaat” or declaration of what was going to be regarded as corrupt from then on. van Riebeeck himself was let off and sent to the Cape, where he planted a hedge, and the rest is history. Part of that history is that we have inherited the Netherlands’ legal precedents, and this one was explicitly relied upon by the SCA in the Shaik case.

The United Netherlands “Placaat” of 1651 (and its subsidiary Placaats of later date) is not a precedent for certainty, but instead is one for arbitrariness, or more precisely for the appearance of certainty combined with the practice of expediency. In citing that Placaat the SCA failed monumentally in its primary responsibility, which is to bring certainty and finality to South Africa’s legal practice.

South Africans must now hope that the Constitutional Court will rise to the occasion of Schabir Shaik’s appeal, unequivocally reject the Squires-made law of “symbiosis”, release Shabir and restore his millions, and remove the menace of prosecution from Jacob Zuma.

Links:

State reveals damning new evidence on Zuma, Ernest Mabuza, Weekender

South Africa in turmoil as Mbeki heads for defeat, McGreal, Guardian

COSATU on Schabir Shaik appeal court decision

14 December 2007

No Nonsense

1 comments
The statement of the ANC Electoral Commission Chairperson, Bertha Gxowa, linked below should be well noted.

This morning, there are suggestions in the press that there is to be a further NEC meeting “half an hour before the start” of the Polokwane Conference, allegedly to call into question the Secretary General’s report. If this is true, then it is highly improper. The NEC members can raise any objections they may have from the Conference floor. They should not be trying to stifle Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe before he even speaks.

If it is true that outgoing NEC members are trying to do this, then it is likely that they are going to try to raise further procedural difficulties for their own, sectarian, tactical reasons. One possible dirty tactic would be to question the electoral process. Therefore note the exemplary way that Comrade Gxowa has gone about her work, and be prepared to help to stop any interfering nonsense.

COSATU GS Zwelinzima Vavi’s long interview with the London business newspaper, the Financial Times, covers a lot of ground and reveals, quite well, many of the strengths and the weaknesses of South African organised labour at this time. See the second linked item.

Cde Dinga Sikwebu has made a public contribution to the discussions around the ANC’s Polokwane, Limpopo, 52nd National Conference, in the South African Labour Bulletin. His argument, on a brief reading of the lengthy text, is not only that Limpopo will not be Morogoro, but also that Morogoro was not really “Morogoro”, in the sense that “Morogoro” stands for a commitment to socialism. So, what?

Cde Dinga undermines the famous Morogoro “Strategy and Tactics” document by suggesting that the actual Morogoro event was preoccupied with other things. In that case, you have to wonder: Why did Cde Dinga want to set up this comparison in the first place? If he is saying that our problems are now, and not to be fixed in relation to any document of the past, then that must be true. We study the past, and the present, for education, and not because we are in search of dogma. In that case let comrades rather demolish the new “Strategy and Tactics”, the one that floats the idea of a semi-fascist “National Democratic Society”, rather than tilting at a document that is nearly forty years old.

A young lion, Comrade Sphiwe Xolani Thulani Mkhize ka Mphungwa, has produced a wonderful piece of writing and requested the Communist University to publish it, and it is an honour for us to do so. Please keep writing, Comrade Sphiwe. See the final item below.

Cde Sphiwe’s piece is also about the Polokwane ANC conference. By all means contrast and compare it with Cde Dinga’s experienced style. Are the young lions as good as the old lions? If they are not, yet, then they certainly need to be, and the sooner they catch up, the better for all of us.

Good luck to all delegates to the 52nd ANC National Conference. For four days from Sunday, they will constitute the ANC, whose flag we fly today. May those delegates do their work well!

Click on these links:

Statement from the ANC Electoral Commission (252 words)

COSATU GS Zwelinzima Vavi interview, Financial Times, London (2489 words)

Can Limpopo be another Morogoro, Dinga Sikwebu, Labour Bulletin (2475 words)

Did fallen heroes fight and die for this circus? Sphiwe Mkhize (1208 words)

13 December 2007

Tokyo Surfs the Tsunami

1 comments
With the biggest of big-business blacks, Tokyo Sexwale, riding it, and Zwelinzima Vavi claiming 1.9 million followers swimming in it, and Msholozi himself with all his appeal swelling it, the unstoppable tsunami is about to hit the coast!

Whatever else it may be, this campaign has been a master-class in tactics, coalition building and sustained momentum, all within the confines of bourgeois-democratic electoral politics. The first linked item below is one report of the stupendous Engcobo rally, and of Cde Tokyo’s now unequivocal identification with the Zumista cause. Note that Tokyo is no longer available for National Chairperson, opening the way for Baleka Mbethe.

The photo is from the Eastern Cape Herald. In their article about the Ngcobo rally they said: “Sexwale was so relaxed that he even had time to share a joke. ‘Where is my T-shirt?’ he asked in reference to T-shirts worn by his supporters earlier this year that said ‘Tokyo for President’.”

Meanwhile,
IOL reports as follows: “Mbeki made his first "public apology" for the country's power problems related to Eskom's load-shedding. ‘Eskom was right and government was wrong,’ Mbeki said, after indicating that government was asked earlier to invest more in electricity to keep up with the country's growth.” (The other photo shows TM in Bloemfontein this week, with Beatrice Marshoff.)

And yet, these incompetents are about to benefit to the tune of THREE BILLION RAND (that’s just their cut – the full bill is much more) of taxpayers money as a direct consequence of their being asleep on the job, that has brought to South Africa the era of “load-shedding” – i.e. what are called “power cuts” everywhere else in the world. See the second linked document (it contains two short articles).

Let’s just run through that again. The mess that Thabo Mbeki has admitted and which makes us all suffer, results in the demand for new power stations. Who gets the profits from the tenders for the new power stations? Why, it’s the very people who caused the mess in the first place. Is that merely a mess, then, or is it more like a rip-off, or even a crime? Think about it during your next “load-shedding”.

Back to the “succession”. Sipho Seepe writes: “The other concern of late is whether Mbeki should remain as national president for the remainder of his term. A notion is advanced that the removal of Mbeki from office would be undemocratic. Yet the biggest danger to democracy is the continuation of Mbeki. No leader who has lost the confidence of his own party should be allowed to govern. At the best of times he has been unrestrained in using state organs to frustrate his political opponents. If he suffers humiliation in Polokwane, he would pose a far greater danger.” See the full linked article below.

Between the massed ranks of the organised working class on the one side, and the vast and varied hinterland of the organic society of the poor on the other, there exists a narrow strip that has achieved fame out of all proportion to its numbers. This crossover territory is populated by funded NGOs and CBOs, and a few academics. It calls itself “Civil Society” or “Social Movements”. One of its prominent organs is the “Social Movements Indaba”, which had its Annual National Meeting earlier this month. Mondli Hlatshwayo gave a very long report there. Linked below is the concluding part of that report, which summarises the tasks of the SMI, as envisaged by Cde Mondli.

Last, and certainly least, is Finance Minister Trevor Manuel’s whitewash of the miserable history of GEAR. He is proud of it. Nevertheless he wants to saddle its parentage on its victims. This kind of apologetics is what got Manuel where he is, and it keeps him there. If he needs to, he will claim that GEAR is pure Zumismo, trickle up is trickle down, Coega and Gautrain are profitable, and that power cuts are better than motherhood and apple pie. He should be sacked, immediately after Polokwane.

Click on these links:

Sexwale hitches wagon to Zuma star, Xolani Xundu, The Times (391 words)

No light on Eskom Hitachi tender, Sibongile Khumalo, B Report (649 words)

Chance for SA to recommit itself to democracy, Sipho Seepe, B Day (849 words)

Mondli Hlatshwayo, Outgoing Secretarial Report to SMI, excerpt (1752 words)

Gear definitely not a capitalist plot, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel (853 words)

12 December 2007

Political Education, Live

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Karima Brown does a nice job of exposing the bullying tactics of ANC spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso. See the first link below, and also Renée Bonorchis’ article if you have not already done so, published in the same Business Day on 6 December and carried by the CU the following day. Read Rikhotso’s ugly, intimidating SMS to Amy Musgrave, verbatim in Brown’s report. This is the real gender struggle, as opposed to the declaratory, formal, “50-50” one. That other struggle, as Zwelinzima Vavi rightly said, is more often really about “other things”, though probably not about “womanising”, as he thinks. In fact, the less said about womanising by the Zuma camp, the better it will be for them.

Will the days of bullying be gone in a few days? Probably not. The struggle will continue.

From the same page in yesterday’s Business Day, the next item is by the brave but politically liberal journalist Jonny Steinberg. He concludes we need another 1976. A 1976 of the soul, perhaps? The only way something like that is going to happen is by political education of a voluntary kind; and indeed, it is happening. We wish that Steinberg, a white who hangs out with blacks and listens well to those he talks to, could also spend time with the YCL, ANCYL, SASCO and COSAS and other youth formations. Because, as much as his article appeals for a new “1976”, it is a mythical, conservative, and not a revolutionary movement that Steinberg craves. He, too, needs political education.

Mo Shaik’s arrogant outburst in the Mail and Guardian blew up in his face. Not so much because of Trevor Manuel’s even more insufferably pompous reply. More because nobody in the “Zuma Camp” fancies being lower on the new pecking order than Mo, the swaggering chancer. Each one is going to bang him on his bald head now until he is hammered right down to the bottom. See the third item.

"When history eventually deals with the dictators, those who stood by and watched the deterioration of nations should bear the consequences," says Jacob Zuma, quoted by Wendy Jasson da Costa in the fourth item below. Quite so.

This was going to be a shorter edition, suiting the season, but two late items came in and the Communist University never wants to refuse to promote new writing. This is a critique by Karl Cloete of the article by Zamikhaya Maseti that was published in The Star yesterday. Both Karl Cloete’s response and Maseti’s article are linked, below. Comrade Karl is a well-known working-class cadre from the Western Cape. To highlight his article, we will use a picture of the late Chris Hani today.

Who is Maseti? He is being paraded as an “independent analyst” but is actually a partisan for the Mbeki camp. Maseti appears on radio in slots that would formerly have been occupied by the Matshiqis, the Mangcus and the Friedmans. The latter are not singing the song that the masters of the SABC want to hear any more. Will the SABC be forced to reform after Polokwane? We hope so. Wouldn’t it be nice to see John Perlman back on the public broadcaster? And Snuki Zikalala eating sour grapes with the losers? Happy Christmas, every one!

Comrades, the Polokwane fires are long since lit, and burning well. The bourgeois mass media are doing a relatively good job at the moment. The Communist University is going to try once again to scale back, unless there is some huge eruption. It will not disappear altogether, but rather it will become a low-intensity operation for the duration of the festivities. We encourage others to do likewise.

Click on these links:

Ugly message in ANC slide towards Polokwane, Brown, B Day (703 words)

Why SA needs to rekindle 1976, Jonny Steinberg, B Day (1123 words)

Zuma camp condemns Mo, Mthembu, de Boer, de Lange, The Star (509 words)

Zuma blasts Mbeki, Wendy Jasson da Costa, The Star (560 words)

Response to Zamikhaya Maseti, by Karl Cloete (1254 words)

It is not about individuals, Zamikhaya Maseti, The Star (1522 words)

11 December 2007

Change, but what change?

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Karima Brown and Amy Musgrave have tackled the question of the SACP’s and COSATU’s resolutions concerning the future of the Alliance (See the first link below. The image on the right is allegedly a sketch of a "triad" diagram made by GWF Hegel). They write that “COSATU has put forward several options”. Our understanding up to now has been that COSATU has a firm decision, not options, to pursue an “Alliance Pact” that would bind the Alliance together into a monolith.

COSATU’s decisions were made in its CC and subsequent CEC.


The Party, on the other hand, does have options, and is keeping them open at least until a special Congress, to be held not later than July, 2008. These options include polite consideration of COSATU’s proposal, and also (what Brown and Musgrave note), that “The SACP would contest state power in elections in the context of a reconfigured alliance.”

But the matter cannot just be left there. The position of the SACP and that of COSATU are not compatible. Something is going to have to give. The Alliance is either going to be the monolith that COSATU is looking for, or it is going to include two parliamentary parties and a trade union centre, which means that it cannot possibly be a monolith of the kind that COSATU envisages. Let us hope that Brown and Musgrave are going to return to this question and apply their journalistic skills to it, a bit more.

NEHAWU seems more aware of the true problematic of the moment. In the last sentence of its statement, made yesterday, it calls for: “an urgent Alliance Summit immediately after the Limpopo conference to discuss the outcomes of the COSATU Congress and its Central Committee, the SACP Congress and the ANC Conference.” This seems to imply a realisation that the three Alliance partners are not yet reconciled. The job remains to be done, and will not be done at Polokwane, but can only be done after Polokwane.

Tabloid-size newspapers are presumed to be more sensationalist, for some reason. COSATU GS Zwelinzima Vavi fed the tabloids yesterday with his remarks about womanisers, made “off the cuff” during his speech at Cooke 2 Mine, Bekkersdal on Sunday. Two of the tabloid reports are linked below.

SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande also made a speech on the same occasion, which we carried yesterday (
click here to open it).

Vavi’s official text for this speech, released by e-mail (under embargo) before the event, is our final item, linked below. In it, Vavi does not mention the Alliance Pact but only says: “…we need a leadership collective that can take the alliance serious and be ready to engage.” But in its third last paragraph it mentions the other bone of contention in the Alliance, which is COSATU’s plan to have a Conference of the Left, in September 2008 (and to have a Commissiion on Socialism sitting before then). It says the following:

“COSATU is organising the conference of the left as part of the task to clarify ourselves on what we want and how we should arrive to our vision. We will engage the party the ANC and other left forces as part of preparation.”

This constitutes a public admission that the Alliance partners, and specifically the SACP, have not been consulted on COSATU’s left-cum-socialist conference project, and that this project is unfinished business with a very uncertain outcome.

Click on these links:

Mbeki or Zuma, alliance will change, Brown and Amy, B Day (789 words)

NEHAWU calls for Alliance Summit after Polokwane (610 words)

Mbeki men are womanisers, Ido Lekota, Sowetan (346 words)

Womanisers want 50-50, Xolani Xundu, Times (622 words)

COSATU GS Z Vavi speech text for Bekkersdal 9 December 2007 (1675 words)

9 December 2007

Sublime and Ridiculous

0 comments

Our graphics don’t always relate directly to all of what is given in the Communist University. This comic strip of Steve Bell’s suits the season. It is from the “Comment is free” page of the London Guardian. It has more to do with Binyanvanga Wainaina’s anti-Imperialist article on “Oxfamming” of last week than with anything in today’s selection.

Right now it is difficult to get away from the “succession”, of which ours is not the only one. The following quote refers to the US succession struggle. It sounds familiar:

“The one thing a president cannot afford to be is ridiculous. This week George Bush lurched into that fatal category and into the true twilight of his presidency, festooned with all the traditional discomfitures. Senior aides and close advisors parley with literary agents and find compelling reason to quit the White House and spend more time with their families. In public even the First Lady seems to edge away from her stricken mate.” - From
Alexander Cockburn’s Counterpunch, 8/9 December, 2007

The linked items below start with an input from the General Secretary of the SACP, Dr Blade Nzimande that is of his usual irresistibly high quality. Then, from the sublime, reverting back to the ridiculous, we have Trevor Manuel trying to score points off Mo Shaik. How trivial! They deserve each other. More interesting is the article on Jacob Zuma’s reported statement that "nothing will change" and Gwede Mantashe’s that “you cannot have a stance that there will be no change." We will wait with interest to see how the comrades sort out these contradictions.

The fourth and fifth items are speculations by the City Press and by the Sunday Independent as to who will be in the new leading positions of the ANC. These journalists may know very little more than you and me but they have taken the trouble to put the words and names down on paper. Food for thought, at least.

The newspapers have seen that a lot of debate happens on the Internet and they want to be part of it. This is a very welcome development, and so we wish the new City Press blog good luck and especially to Caiphus Kgosana.
Click here to visit and leave a comment on the City Press Polokwane blog.

At the Sunday Times (The Times) site you can comment on any article. The Thabo Mbeki interview they did yesterday was long and boring but the comments made it much more interesting. The young lions of the YCL should get involved in such comments sometimes.
Click here see that example. (You have to register at The Times site before you can comment yourself, but it is not difficult and it is free).

Click on these links:

Revolution on trial (8), Build Working-class Power, B Nzimande (1889 words)

Open letter to Mo Shaik, Trevor Manuel, S Times and Sindy (595 words)

Do not be afraid says Zuma, Christelle Terreblanche, Sindy (727 words)

Mbete tipped for ANC chairman, Sithembiso Msomi, City Press (526 words)

Who would face the chop under Zuma, Christelle Terreblanche, Sindy (1369 words)

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