4 December 2007


The Communist University’s 2008 Programme is going to rely, more than before, on the SACP’s Umsebenzi Online. Nearly half of the available dates have been left open for discussions to be based on the Party’s twice-monthly online/e-mail publication. Hence it is going to be necessary for most comrades to have their own (free) subscriptions. Click here to get yours now.

Over the next two months, the CU will therefore be going through its membership of c.1400 to make sure that everyone is signed up for Umsebenzi Online. Of course we are not going to force it on peopl. But we would not expect that an extra 20-odd e-mails per annum will be a problem for anybody.

COSATU yesterday issued an extraordinary statement (linked below) that begins:

“The Congress of South African Trade Unions rejects the suggestion that President Thabo Mbeki should immediately step down as president of the country in the event that Jacob Zuma were to be elected as the President of the ANC.

“As far as COSATU is aware, no such idea has even been discussed, let alone proposed, by any supporters of Jacob Zuma. It would appear to be a mischievous ‘canard’ planted in the media by prophets of doom or agents provocateurs, who are desperately trying to create paranoia, foment panic among conference delegates, and give the impression that a Zuma victory will herald a national crisis.”

But it was the ANC, and not Cde Mbeki, that was elected in 2004. The CU knows of no reason why any position would be considered as reserved for any individual, unless the whole electorate could choose an individual for that position, which is not the case in South Africa. We have PR based on party lists.

The continuation in office of an individual who has spectacularly lost the confidence of his party, as Cde Mbeki has already done, is something practically unheard-of in any part of the world. Having two leaders at once would be considered political baby-talk, like a Push-Me-Pull-You (picture). When the party leader is no longer wanted by the party, the leader must withdraw completely from office, and be replaced. Britain has many, and recent, examples of this kind of situation.

It is not a matter of tradition. It is a practical necessity. In South Africa this has already been understood. Nobody wants “two centres of power”. The question was tested among ANC delegates to the Policy Conference, and not merely among "Zuma supporters", earlier this year. They decided that “two centres of power” is trouble. It is hard to see how COSATU can now say that the delegates did not mean it, or that they would now panic at the thought of the very thing that they had already decided upon in June.

The circumstances are extraordinary in one respect: that Thabo Mbeki, prior to the Provincial Nomination Conferences, had never once gone openly head-to-head against another individual in an electoral contest; and on this first occasion, quite possibly also the last of his political career, he lost. So no doubt he is in denial, but that is no reason why we should all be in denial together with him.

COSATU is right to say that there is no need for an early parliamentary election.

COSATU’s more general positions were rehearsed on Sunday by DGS Bheki Ntshalintshali on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary commemoration of the National Union of Mineworkers (linked below). Also linked is the full text of Friday's M&G article by SACP DGS Jeremy Cronin, stating the Party’s view, in brief.

Lastly, we have another vivid piece of evidence of the condition of the “Social Movements” in South Africa. There is neither pleasure nor pain in watching their contradictions, but there is instruction. Lenin supported outside interference from a revolutionary party. NGOs do not constitute a revolutionary party.

Click on these links:

Unite behind new leadership, COSATU Media Release (812 words)

Speech for NUM 25th anniversary, COSATU DGS Bheki Ntshalintshali (2325 words)

Things cannot continue as they are, Jeremy Cronin, Mail and Guardian (430 words)

Some Western Cape AEC actions in 2007, WCAEC v Social Movements Indaba (213 words)

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