28 February 2007
The Communist University, too, is under pressure right now. People are saying: if you don’t do so-and-so, it will turn out badly for you. Nothing is certain. Everything is relentlessly pushed towards the condition of absolute insecurity. Always, there is the diminishment of resources, the contempt for the question of resources, the denial of resources, the interception of resources, and even the outright destruction of resources.
The Communist University lives off “the smell of an oily rag”. Maybe there is no other way for revolutionaries. Let that not be John Perlman’s fate. Long live!
The USA is going to sit down with Iran and Syria. The first meeting, at the ambassadorial level, will be held next month. Then Rice will sit down at the table with the foreign ministers from Damascus and Tehran at a second meeting in April elsewhere in the region, possibly in Istanbul.
Unless the USA is planning treachery, this must be good news. Very good news.
Next week on Wednesday, March 7 at 17h00 in the SACP boardroom the Communist University will meet to discuss “Cooking the rice inside the pot” by the late “Comrade Mzala” (Jabulani Nxumalo). Comrade Castro Ngobese, ace spin-doctor of the YCL, will open the discussion. See the link below.
There is a great blogger called As’ad AbuKhalil. He blogs under the banner of The Angry Arab. As’ad’s blog featured a link to an obituary for a US academic called Frank Snowden (see the second link below). Snowden was a historian of blacks in antiquity, and especially the classical antiquity of ancient Greece and Rome. “Whites in the ancient world rarely equated blackness with subordination, Dr. Snowden argued, because the black people they encountered were rarely slaves. (Most slaves in the Roman Empire, for instance, were white.) Instead, they met blacks who were warriors, statesmen and mercenaries.” See the link below.
It is two hundred years since the abolition of the slave trade in England, and a film has been made to interpret the event for the gratification and self-congratulation of British people. To read just how exceptionally bad and insulting this film is, please click the last link below. Let us hope that this travesty is never presented in South Africa, or if it is, that huge demonstrations cause it to close.
Click on these links:
1985, Mzala, Cooking the rice inside the pot, Sechaba (3517 words)
Frank Snowden, historian of blacks in antiquity, dies, N Y Times (751 words)
Whitewashing the Slave Trade, Peter Linebaugh, Counterpunch (1589 words)
26 February 2007
This is a major development in the politics of our region. It has to make every working-class person’s thoughts turn to solidarity. See the ZCTU Communiqué linked below and look out for further announcements.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) will hold a press conference this morning at their offices in Matthew Goniwe House at the corner of Goud and Marshall Streets, Johannesburg at 11h00 to announce their 2007 Programme of Action. See the link to this substantial document, below.
Later this week the 21 affiliates of COSATU will be meeting in the first Central Executive Committee of the year.
Click on these links:
Zim Stayaway 3 to 4 April 2007, ZCTU (notice)
SADTU Programme of Action for 2007 (1135 words)
25 February 2007
Here are some highlights of the document:
“…what is impeding substantial progress is the continued colonial character of the economic growth path within which we remained locked.
“This growth path… actively reproduces under-development.
“…policy development without mass mobilization and participation is bound to fail.
“The exact modalities of the SACP’s involvement within an ANC Alliance [election] campaign will… be a matter of intra-alliance discussion and agreement.
“The 12th Congress will consider, amongst other things, a range of proposals around the restructuring of the SACP, particularly to ensure that our elected structures are more firmly rooted in activity-based responsibilities, and also that our basic, branch-level structures are more compact and more rooted within localized communities.”
Needless to say, the document outrightly rejects any suggestion of “an SACP go-it-alone stance that simply plays into the hands of those who dream of break[ing] the alliance and marginalizing the SACP.”
The Communist University will convene on Wednesday, February 28 at 17h00 in the SACP boardroom, 3rd Floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein, to discuss the draft of the document discussed at the Augmented CC in November 2006 called “The South African Road to Socialism”. That document in its final form is set to be published in a new “African Communist”, soon. It may be that comrades will think it better to wait for the definitive version. In any case, the current CC statement will also be made available.
Nearly a year ago Judge Mohamed Jajbhay told the Johannesburg Metro Council that it must not throw people on to the streets. The Johannesburg Council took the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) and the case was heard this week. The verdict is “reserved”, meaning that the SCA judges are thinking about it before giving their decision.
If the SCA reverses Jajbhay’s historic judgment, the Metro council will without doubt attempt an orgy of evictions in Johannesburg, and the evicted people will need organised support on a scale not yet seen.
But if the Jajbhay decision stands up as it should, then the Metro Council will just have to get down and do what it is supposed to do, and that is to accommodate the people who make their living in the Inner City, and stop trying to harass and hound them in the hope that they will disappear from the earth.
It seems that crooks have been helping themselves to peoples’ pension funds for years in this country. It also seems as if the law has as a rule taken a very long time to catch up with such crooks. Wiseman Khuzwayo, journalist and struggle veteran, writes up the low-down for the Business Report on a scandal involving at least two entities, Alexander Forbes and Lifecare (see the link below). It seems that the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) is not keen to take this one on, and has had to be bolstered up by a “private prosecution” involving the Financial Services Board (FSB) and Business Against Crime, a business-oriented NGO (BONGO).
Comrade Wiseman does not quite make clear why the NPA is not stepping up to do its proper job by itself. A good guess would be that the NPA has blown its budget on its very expensive, failed, politically partisan pursuit of Jacob Zuma. This would also explain why we have not heard a peep out of the NPA yet in the matter of the 50,000 widows and orphans frauded of benefits paid for out of lonely mineworkers’ meagre wages, by J Arthur Brown, Danisa Baloyi and others in the “Fidentia” imbroglio.
Click on these links:
Yes to the sovereignty of the people, SACP post-CC Statement (1837 words)
Jajbay judgement appeal verdict soon, Russel Molefe, City Press (737 words)
FSB, BAC fund private prosecution, Wiseman Khuzwayo, B Report (863 words)
24 February 2007
But if we are going to say that colonialism of a special type was a function of race, or that race was a necessary part of it, we may be wrong. The pattern of Indian “development” described in the linked article below by Aseem Shrivasta is very familiar to South Africans, yet it does not appear to depend on racial difference.
Meanwhile, according to the Weekender, the SACP commission that was appointed by the Special National Congress in 2005, which is in fact the same in composition to the SACP Political Bureau, is about to or has already delivered its recommendations. The Weekender treats these questions in a mundane fashion (funding, risk of humiliation et cetera) as if the SACP is a bourgeois party. Perhaps the report itself does so, too. We must wait and see. The questions put by the previous article on India do seem the more urgent ones at this stage. See the linked article by Vukani Mde and Karima Brown.
Raymond Suttner, with the help of Michael Schmidt’s editing, finds himself in territory half way between these two other articles, grappling with questions of mass and class together with electoral questions. The linked article appeared in the Saturday Star.
Finally, YCL National Secretary Buti Manamela uses the YCL’s on-line magazine “The Bottom Line” to comment on the recent case of former YCL Deputy National Secretary Mazibuko Jara’s ambitions concerning the SACP Western Cape Provincial leadership and the SACP’s 12th National Congress in July. In the same linked document you will also find an article by YCL National Organiser George Raphela on the YCL’s attitude to Burma.
Click on these links:
Developer Model of Development, Shrivastava, Counterpunch (3723 words)
Crossroads for communists, Mde and Brown, Weekender (1002 words)
Mass factor, Suttner and Schmidt, Saturday Star (2049 words)
Through the eye of the M and G, and Burma, YCL Bottom Line (3294 words)
22 February 2007
The Communist University’s attempted contribution to the language question in South Africa is our own gateway to the Wiktionaries. Wiktionary is a free, on-line facility whereby if there were enough people taking part, the ordinary speakers of our eleven official languages could probably build full dictionaries of each of those languages in a matter of days. Every language needs its own dictionary in the language itself. Yet many South African languages are deficient in this respect. The English wiktionary is of course huge, because there are contributors in many countries. But the Afrikaans wiktionary is also well advanced, bearing out Dr Blade’s suggestion that the Afrikaners have much to share with the other language groups about preserving and advancing the condition of a language. Laat ons praat! Asikhulume!
At last, other comrades are writing as well. Today we present, on the 16th anniversary of the death of “Comrade Mzala” (Jabulani Nxumalo), a tribute to this great intellectual, who died young in exile in London, by Seshupo Segole (see below). Build the Alliance, he writes. The Communist University Mzala Archive is here.
We also present Kaizer Mohau’s lively polemic contradicting Mazibuko Jara (see below).
There was more feedback in recent days, mostly very appreciative, but in one case quite angry. The irate comrade wrote concerning the new ANC discussion document:
“Aside from petty personal attacks on individuals, rhetorical flourishes and armchair accusations that other people are cowards it would be interesting to know if the CU has anything constructive to say about the ANC's debate on strategy and tactics.
“Is it all in vain unless we have a 'revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat'? If so, I don't see why you even bother to comment on the ANC and its debates. Why not refocus your energy on destroying the ANC, since 'for it the struggle ends with bourgeois democracy' and re-constituting an SACP, purged of all bourgeois elements and 'right wing deviationists' in preparation for the envisaged dictatorship. You'll find a good models in the CPSA of the 1930s!”
Let’s just say that it is early days. The ANC discussion document is only just out. It needs to be tested, thoroughly and hard, if it is going to prove strong enough to be a common basis for the continuing and necessary class alliance (which as yet hardly features in the draft). “Alliance” is actually mentioned only twice in the 13,000 words, the main occasion being on the page where the ANC is chillingly described as the “ultimate strategic centre of power” with the "Tripartite Alliance" being in support of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) “as commonly understood”. Of course this begs the question of the whole exercise. What exactly is that common understanding of the NDR, if it exists at all? And what should it be?
In testing this document, we test our own communist ideas too, and lay them open to dispute, as the comrade has noticed and taken full advantage of. We did call the document cowardly (but not any individuals). Perhaps that was rude in any case. But remember the words of Karl Marx at the end of Value Price and Profit: “By [the working class] cowardly giving way in their everyday conflict with capital, they would certainly disqualify themselves for the initiating of any larger movement.” For communists this is the basic class question of whether the working class is going to fulfill its historic destiny, or not.
The comrade is furiously defensive of the ANC, to the point where he sees discussion of the ANC’s own discussion document as evidence of a desire to “destroy” the ANC. Yet the original, 1969 “Strategy and Tactics“starts with two references to socialism in its very first sentence and concludes with a long and crucial section on the working class. The use of this famous title to sell a new document which is opposite in character to the original is actually intended to be destructive of the historical memory of the South African people. It is intended to write the communists out of history, just like a US Hollywood film would do. So who is destroying who, actually?
Also, nobody in the CU has ever advocated purges. In general, purges only re-locate, and do not solve problems. Liberals and social democrats are constantly being drawn towards the Party. They bring their politics with them. The solution is to put them to work and at the same time to educate them. Even ultra-left entryists, with their subterranean double life, can be tolerated up to a point. They should be constantly encouraged to contribute their ideas to the Party, openly. What becomes intolerable is unprincipled secret horse-trading between these fringe factions, against the elected leadership and outside the open constitutional process of the Party. In this connection, see the page on the SACP web site where answers are given to the recent questions of the Mail and Guardian newspaper concerning the ambitions of Mazibuko Jara and related issues.
The Bolivia Information Forum looks like a useful resource. Their bulletin (linked below) contains very interesting material that we have not been hearing about through the bourgeois media. See the link below. The contact is: Alex Tilley, Coordinator, Bolivia Information Forum, www.boliviainfoforum.org.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org
Click on these links:
Language in a democratic SA, Blade Nzimande, Umsebenzi Online (2096 words)
Build the alliance, tribute to Mzala, 16 years on, Seshupo Segole (2015 words)
SACP for Socialism not socialitism, Kaizer Mohau on Mazibuko Jara (1387 words)
Bolivia Information Bulletin 5, February 2007 (109 KB PDF download)
21 February 2007
In his letter to Bracke, later published with the 1875 Critique of the Gotha Programme, Karl Marx wrote: Every step of real movement is more important than a dozen programmes. And in the Critique itself Marx wrote:
“Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”
The SACP will hold a two-day National Policy Dialogue from tomorrow at Willow Park outside Johannesburg to discuss the new ANC Strategy and Tactics draft, the SACP’s own strategy and tactics in the current period, and five other items, including co-operatives. This is a topic that Marx also dealt with in the Critique of the Gotha Programme where he concluded:
“That the workers desire to establish the conditions for co-operative production on a social scale, and first of all on a national scale, in their own country, only means that they are working to revolutionize the present conditions of production, and it has nothing in common with the foundation of co-operative societies with state aid. But as far as the present co-operative societies are concerned, they are of value only insofar as they are the independent creations of the workers and not protégés either of the governments or of the bourgeois. “
The ANC document, the SACP announcement, and Cde Cheche’s letter are linked below.
Concerning Danisa Baloyi, the ABSA Bank, of which she is a director, has said: "Absa respects the legal process and is awaiting the outcome of the investigation. As such, it is premature for Absa to comment further at this time." This will not do! The best Baloyi can probably hope for is that the NPA will declare her case “prima facie but unwinnable”, or give her a plea bargain like they gave Mark Thatcher, or make her a state witness in exchange for a confession. But directorships of banks are out for her now. ABSA Bank is playing for time, dangerously. See the two articles about Baloyi, linked below.
The gross vulgarity of Baloyi’s Fidentia gang is well caught by the grandiose Fidentia Top Empowerment Awards held barely three months ago. The “Honorary Laureate” was our old fiend, Bishop Tutu. See the link below. Finally, the sordid tale of Condoleezza Rice’s relationship with her home town of Birmingham, Alabama seems very relevant here, even though it appeared in Counterpunch a full year earlier. See the link.
ANC, Strategy and Tactics discussion document - building an NDS (13247 words)
SACP Statement on National Policy Dialogue, 22-23 February 2007 (417 words)
To him the struggle ends with bourgeois democracy - Selepe on Jara (2619 words)
Heat on Baloyi over Fidentia stake, R8m loan, Rob Rose, B Day (565 words)
Press wrong re Baloyi loan - Fidentia, Wiseman Khuzwayo, B Rep (397 words)
Fidentia Top Empowerment Award winners 2006, BizCommunity (605 words)
Rice Disdain for Civil Rights Movement, J L Chestnut, Counterpunch (834 words)
19 February 2007
But Dr Baloyi is standing by her man for now, and is furious that the Financial Services Board Inspection Report into Fidentia Asset Management (Pty) Ltd was “leaked” to the media.
Here it is, folks. Follow the link below for our dowload icon, or download it from here or from here. It is amazing reading.
Let us give thanks to Alec Hogg, ace journalist of Moneyweb, for making available this very important public document, and for his blistering hot piece on Brown and Baloyi, the deceiving duo of the kleptomaniac clique centred on Fidentia, but spreading out who knows where? See the link below.
Also from Moneyweb, see the last link below concerning Eunice Komane, the serving High Commissioner for South Africa in Botswana, who has just been given a large amount of US dollars by the US stockbroking firm Merrill Lynch. What value she is to give back for all these dollars is not very easy to see. But the deal does not trouble Joel Neshitenzhe’s conscience. Nor do the lucky, happy people and their US sugar-daddies regard it as strange that their consortium Tselane Basadi is previously famous only for splashing out an over-the-odds amount of money to purchase a urinal making company.
As they say in England, this is taking the piss. For some great writing that (among other things) illuminates this characteristic British phrase very well, please click on this external link and go to Getting it right: the security agencies in modern society, a treat of an article by Robin Ramsay, from Lobster magazine.
Click on these links:
FSB Report on Fidentia (1630 KB PDF download)
Management Arthur Brown style, Alec Hogg, Moneyweb (1269 words)
SA diplomat in lucrative BEE deal, Cameron and Cobbett, Moneyweb (727 words)
18 February 2007
Meanwhile Fidentia’s Danisa Baloyi, who is also a director of numerous other companies and the reputed “Queen of BEE”, spoke to the Business Report. She is defiant. See below.
The Alliance has rallied round to revive SANCO following its failed, aborted National Conference last December. See the ANC announcement linked below. There will be another National Conference in September 2007. In the mean time a National Interim Leadership Core has been created.
On April 21, 2006, the Communist University blogged as follows:
‘The ANC Progressive Business Forum has been launched (see link) with the slogan “Can you afford not to belong?” Class alliance (unity in action for a common goal) is good. Class collaboration (betrayal of the oppressed to the oppressor class) is bad. Which is this? Do the “policy team” and the “friendly consultants” know the difference?’
The Sunday Times has suddenly woken up to the existence of the PBF and doesn’t like it (see the link below). Nor does their favoured “analyst”, Richard Calland, who thinks the PBF is “plain wrong”. But why is it wrong? Is it wrong because it is a class alliance, or because it is a class collaboration?
From their point view, of course, they would not at all mind to have a State that is a pure executive committee of the bourgeois ruling class, and if the working class can be co-opted to come along without complaint, so much the better.
But unfortunately for them their own bourgeois class, at anything even slightly below State level, is a vicious cockpit of lethal conflict. What the individual bourgeois can’t abide is the idea of another bourgeois getting ahead of him. In this way the hypocritical idea of bourgeois “fairness” arises, and literally spoils the party.
None of which directly answers the CU’s original question about the ANC PBF. It would be nice to have an SACP view on the matter. Meanwhile the ANC has been quick to leap to the defence of its precious PBF. See below.
Click on these links:
Union counts cost of Fidentia fiasco, Irene Louw, City Press (788 words)
Danisa Baloyi stands behind Fidentia, Morris and Khuzwayo, B Rep (642 words)
SANCO national interim leadership core, ANC Press Release (642 words)
ANC ministers for sale, Ngobeni and Lubisi, Sunday Times (689 words)
ANC statement on S Times article re Progressive Business Forum (257 words)
Fifteen days later it is clear that the scandal is eating through the credibility of the entire pensions and benefits industry like unstoppable acid. This affair is not going to go away in a hurry and it is going to get much, much bigger.
There may be arrests and criminal charges. In fact it is amazing that when people run off with something like R1.4 billion and are accused and named in public, no arrests are made by the NPA, which absorbed the former Serious Fraud Office and the Asset Forfeiture Unit. Mervyn Bennun wrote a very good critique of the NPA (Has the NPA lost its way?) for the Business Day last October. The NPA is only a sometimes, if-it-pleases, politically selective law enforcement agency.
So let us look at this matter for ourselves. First of all, from the CU point of view this is primarily about workers’ contributions and benefits and about the way their unions have protected their interests, or not. The question of the levy paid by employers to the SETAs (in this case TETA) is a far lesser matter from our point of view, even if the President of the Republic is making a fuss about it.
The principal trust in this case of missing workers’ money is the Mineworkers’ Provident Fund (MPF). This Fund has a web site and from the web site you can download a booklet (see the link below) explaining the Fund to its members. The booklet has a list of the trustees at the unstated date of publication. They included the former General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Gwede Mantashe, and the former Deputy President of COSATU, Joe Nkosi, who resigned his position in COSATU a few days before its 9th Congress in September, 2006, following allegations of spying.
The MPF Trustees at today’s date are given on another page of its web site, which is reproduced in the document linked below. Joe Nkosi is still a trustee. The new Deputy General Secretary of the NUM, elected at their National Congress in May 2006, Oupa Komane, is a now a trustee. The two whistle blowers are still there: Frans Mahlangu remains the Principal Officer and Collyn Manzana is still a trustee, according to the web site.
The MPF started another trust called Matco to adminster the benefits of the widows and orphans of deceased miners. The name was later changed to Living Hands Umbrella Trust (LHUT), at about the same time that this trust fell under the control of J Arthur Brown and Danisa Baloyi. Barry Sergeant records that:
“Since July 11 2006, LHUT has had three trustees, viz., Motsei Christine Komane, Danisa Baloyi, and Hjalmar Mulder. Until very recently, Baloyi was a director of Living Hands (which, most crucially, administers LHUT) and also a director of Fidentia Holdings.”
Prior to that date, Brown had been a trustee of LHUT. He was replaced by Komane.
More information on Baloyi and Komane can be found in the Moneyweb article “Brown’s Leading Ladies” linked below, together with some small details of Baloyi’s CV taken from the vast amount of information about this former US professor and BEE promoter and her huge number of directorships and business interests. Baloyi looks like a personification of the “class project” that the SACP writes about.
Moneyweb’s Barry Sergeant spells out clearly the danger to the whole pensions and benefits industry (which could collapse) and the cause, which is that shameless conflicts of interest have been permitted, not only in this case but across the board. See below. MPF Principal Officer Frans Mahlangu gave a frank and very revealing interview with the Weekender’s Gill Moodie yesterday. See below. Alec Hogg’s Moneyweb article shows that the Fidentia rip-off has not just affected NUM members, but also other workers’ families such as those of employee of South African Breweries. See below. Finally, the prodigious arrogance of the odious Brown continues. Julius Cobbett’s Moneyweb article shows up some of his lies. This guy Brown is poison. Yet he is only a punk. There are much bigger forces at play here than this embarrassing comedian.
Click on these links:
Mineworkers Provident Fund Member Booklet (107 KB PDF file)
Mineworkers Provident Fund, Trustees, 18 February 2007 (page, organogram and tables)
Brown’s leading ladies, Jackie Cameron, Moneyweb (1372 words)
Danisa Baloyi CV from Internet (extracts for Internet pages)
Fidentia success secret, Barry Sergeant, Moneyweb (842 words)
A raw deal, Frans Mahlangu interviewed by Gill Moodie, Weekender (1371 words)
SAB could not get its R80m, Alec Hogg, Moneyweb (615 words)
Lies, lies, lies, Julius Cobbett, Moneyweb (315 words)
17 February 2007
The next thing is the long message from Mazibuko Jara (linked below). In this case there is no withdrawal or apology from the Communist University. You may judge his message for yourself, as usual. Whatever else may be said here is by way of commentary.
Jara wants to have his cake and eat it. He likes to stride the public stage but at the same time to be protected and sheltered on grounds of sensitivity and confidentiality. His is a false pretence of “public communism” that conceals, not very well, an urge to suppress and to censor that is clearly evident in this message to the CU. Jara is an experienced person who is being disingenuous. He writes as if nobody else is as experienced as himself and as if he can bamboozle anybody at will, whenever he pleases, like a kind of political J Arthur Brown. Let us look at a few examples, because they are instructive.
Jara’s previous complaint to the Communist University arose when in November 2005 he sent his “Red or JZ” paper and we published it. His request was: “I ask that you circulate it to your communist university email list.” But Jara didn’t like the response that it generated. Of course it got into the papers, including the “Hogarth” column, and Jara turned on the Communist University as if we were supposed to publicise his paper on an open list without the possibility of it getting into the press. This was complete nonsense, especially coming from Jara, who is a media specialist.
Now Jara is making the same complaint, in effect, several times over. One of them is his complaint about the e-mail he sent, he says via the SACP and COSATU, soliciting introductions in the USA. But the Communist University did not receive this message from the SACP or COSATU. It came from America, from somebody unconnected to the SACP or COSATU, asking in effect: Who is this Jara? Why should I introduce him to my contacts? Jara must know, and does in fact know, that you can fire an arrow into the World Wide Web but you cannot be sure where it will land. In this case he is relying on this very characteristic of the Internet to fetch him a virtual New World of political contacts. He is cruising in cyberspace. Who is he trying to kid by denying it?
Concerning the Mail and Guardian article “Rumblings over Blade in SACP”, Jara, Vicki Robinson, and the whole media world knows that an article attributed to “sources”, but with a direct quote at the end from a named individual, is a well-known journalistic device to create “plausible deniability” but which everybody is going to understand one way, and that is that the main source is the person quoted at the end. You may judge his denial on its merits, but whether Jara likes it or not, there are plenty of people who are convinced that he is the main source. He will have to live with that.
Comrade Slovo Majola gave no more than the plain truth when he was quoted as saying that there are groups within the Party who want to challenge the General Secretary’s leadership. These groups are strange bedfellows from opposite fringes of the Party. They are liberal reformists like Jara, for example, and ultra-left entryists like Zico Tamela. At least that is what we presume they are. We can only presume, because the main characteristic of factional activity is that it has no politics. These comrades refuse to come out in the open with their ideas for the Party. Instead they “rumble” about the leadership.
Now Jara says he is going to deliver a statement to “2,000 left activists” in the USA. Leaving aside Paulo Freire’s warning against “activism” in “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, let us say at once that we should be eager to publish Jara’s paper as soon as we get it. But why must he launch his demarche from the USA? And why to these motley “activists”? Is this a good way to approach the 12th National Congress of the South African Communist Party? Is Jara the new Tutu? You be the judge.
The two short messages linked below from Cdes Mervyn Bennun and Floyd Shivambu bring us to a profound point of concentration on the question of peace and war. We can proceed very well now with the text that is down for discussion next Wednesday, which is Bill Pomeroy’s “The Time for Armed Struggle”. This text engages precisely with the point to which our dialogue has brought us, and it can take us forward. It will also be helpful in debunking appeals to false notions of secrecy in a Party that has successfully waged a 40-year struggle to rise out of an imposed clandestinity. The picture above is of Eduardo Mondlane.
16 February 2007
“I am shocked by what the young comrades seemed to feel. War is utterly horrible…
“I remember very clearly in 1966(7?)(8?) a meeting addressed in London by Eduardo Mondlane, not long before he was killed. He spoke bitterly and with great passion about his experiences and philosophy as the leader of FRELIMO. He said that guerilla war was no romantic Che Guevara-Fidel Castro thing, with images of bearded, beret-wearers creeping through the jungle with sten guns and singing patriotic songs about freedom round campfires. What he said about his own FRELIMO really touched me: he said that FRELIMO wanted nobody who was not frightened, who did not hate and fear guns and bombs and fighting; FRELIMO just wanted people who wanted to build, to bring into being, to live.”
Thank you comrade Mervyn for taking us straight to the heart of the matter.
Also in Cape Town, as it happens, lives Mazibuko Jara, still a member of the SACP, though no longer an office bearer in the YCL. The article by Vicki Robinson linked below is incorrect in that regard and a few other respects as well. Some names are also spelled wrong.
Jara used to be the national spokesperson of the SACP and held many other positions at national level, in Johannesburg, to the point that he became a domineering, universal gatekeeper and very little could be done without his say-so. That was before his abrupt demise and resignation a few years ago. The resignation had to do with his founding role in the Dora Tamana Co-operative Centre (DTCC), and money problems having to do with that organisation. DTCC collapsed altogether in 2006.
Jara’s former position as national spokesperson has meant that he is still well known to the media freaternity. He maintains wide personal contacts and appears to have every intention of regaining his former dictatorial position within the Party. Vicki Robinson’s article does not come out of the blue. Together with "sourcings" by Jara, it amounts to factional lobbying by. Jara is clearly the main source, as he has often been before in such articles about the SACP.
Next time, Vicki Robinson should ask Jara about the DTCC, instead of just swallowing Jara’s skinder about other people in the Party.
“I request info on names of comrades in the US (specifically New York) in unions, organisations and individual comrades you would suggest I contact and try to meet whilst there from 07 to 12 March. I would need to get email addresses, etc. I will be attending the Left Forum from 09 to 11 March in New York.”
The trademark of Jara and his factional allies is revealed by Jara’s threat to “investigate” a meeting held in Khayelitsha. These stalkers hunt for advantages in procedural wrangles. Especially, they love to gag their opponents and their perceived rivals, while they whisper like the grass to the bourgeois media.
They will not write of their politics openly. They conceal their aims, and communists are not supposed to conceal their aims. They are the cell-phone politicians. This phenomenon is normal prior to a Congress, and a Congress is a good way of dealing with it. The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.
Click on this link:
Rumblings over Blade in SACP, Vicki Robinson, Mail and Guardian (634 words)
15 February 2007
Others did not find it exceptionable that South Africa might consider using armed force to effect “regime change” in neighbouring countries, such as Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
Talk of the possibility of nuclear war by the USA/Israel alliance, against Iran, produced little response from these comrades. If they were not indifferent, they were certainly detached.
The comrades have familiar memories of the South African armed struggle, including the names of many of the leading personalities and events of that struggle. Yet all present except one were far to young to have taken part in these events as military actors.
So the legacy of the South African armed struggle has clearly left us with a conception of war that is far from revolutionary. War is regarded favourably by the young men of South Africa. War is not regarded by them as it is regarded by most ex-combatants, i.e. as a hateful thing to be avoided by all possible means.
It is not the first time in revolutionary history that this terrible error has arisen in the minds of the revolutionaries. It is an error that has had disastrous consequences in the past and in different places. Next week we will study the case of the Philippines, with the assistance of Cde Hepworth Moyikwa, using Bill Pomeroy’s 1974 text “On the Time For Armed Struggle” (linked below).
Pomeroy was one of the thinkers who influenced Umkhonto we Sizwe commanders during our armed struggle, and was personally in contact with them. At the time that he was writing this piece he was living in exile in London, like many South African exiles at the time.
Here is part of the conclusion of Pomeroy’s paper:
“The PKP is the party of the Filipino working class. It rejects putschism, coup d'etat, foco guerrillaism and anarcho-terrorist revolutionism that stands apart from the sentiment of the masses. It does not sanction any political activity that attempts to split the masses from their vanguard party.”
“The conditions for violence are necessarily determined by those who possess the instruments of violence, namely, the ruling circles of imperialism, feudalism and monopoly capital.”
“The PKP and all revolutionary forces must be vigilant and must always be in a state of preparedness in every way to prevent the enemies of the people from obstructing the people's way to peaceful revolutionary transformation of our society. The PKP upholds the right of the people to use force against those who use force against the people.”
This is not a simple matter, comrades. Please read the linked text below, and join us next week on February 21st in the SACP boardroom, third floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, corner Biccard, at 17h00 for a good discussion of this question of war.
Click on this link:
Pomeroy, On the Time for Armed Struggle (6800 words)
CU Flyer for 21 February 2007 (44 KB MS Word file download)
14 February 2007
“Class Struggle: An Answer To Its Critics” was the unforgettable title of one of many of pamphlets published in Britain in the 1980s during the battle to save the Communist Party of Great Britain from the liquidationist Euro-Communists. The battle was lost. The Morning Star newspaper survived, though, and there is now a growing refounded British Party, the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), and a new British YCL.
Concerning the Communist University, here are some various “Answers To Its Critics”:
- Cde Floyd Shivambu was wrongly blamed yesterday and has received an apology. His prior meeting is at 14h30 and it may well be possible for him to make it to the CU in COSATU House by 17h00 today. Let’s hope so. He is very familiar with Clausewitz’ “On War” and we need his input.
- The CU definition of Fascism is: the continuation of bourgeois class dictatorship by other than democratic means, including the suspension of the rule of law and its replacement by direct coercion.
- The electronic CU is invariably a comment on some texts that are simultaneously archived and linked from the message. In the Freirean method of critical pedagogy there is no equivocation. Nor is there any presumption of dogma or authority. Categorical statements are made in the full expectation of categorical contradiction, which is frequently forthcoming. That is not arrogance. Arrogance deliberately kills dialogue, whereas the CU is a proven generator of dialogue.
- Yesterday the texts were the extraordinary three from Moneyweb on the arrogance of J Arthur Brown, a young man who took hundreds of millions of rands from the mouths of widows and orphans of deceased mineworkers, and who is still at large. The CU’s assertion was that Brown’s kind of arrogance is commonplace in South Africa. He got “lucky”, but was stopped in the end because people, and especially one particular unpaid trustee, Frans Mahlangu, stood up to him.
It is clear after Fidentia that the professional “financial advisor” industry’s credibility is in tatters. The justification for their existence is that they supposedly protect the interests of lay persons and non-experts. In the event it was a businessman, Derek Sumption, and then the volunteer Mahlangu, who tripped up Brown’s vile career. The professionals were nowhere to be seen. This is why Alec Hogg called it “Our worst nightmare” (where “us” clearly refers to the financial services industry professionals).
When Sumption confronted Brown (and consequently pulled half a billion rand out of the Fidentia orbit) it was the beginning of Brown’s end. Yet it took a further 18 months before Brown was fully exposed thanks to Mahlangu’s brave sacrifice. The strong were protected while the weak were being plundered.
Nobody came back to the CU with any remarks about Brown, yet this was the main underlying matter of the CU post yesterday. Why do so many people read only the crib, and not the main texts? The CU’s implied contract is to give you the goods in full, plus a commentary if you want it.
Concerning the internal dynamics of the SACP before its Gauteng Provincial Congress next month and 12th National Congress in July, the CU regrets the absence of more texts. The situation is becoming difficult to comment upon. Although the SACP is a legal and not a clandestine party, and although any pre-Congress period is one of free debate, yet it appears (as Cde Dinga Sikwebu remarked at the last SACP Johannesburg Central BGM) that cell-phones are currently the medium of choice through which political matters are settled, as opposed to open debate, pamphlets, or Internet blogging. This is a pity.
Please note that the CU is not being muzzled but is going to be less frequently seen for reasons of lack of resources, mainly time. Today there is also a shortage of a certain text. The one we want is the South African Road to Socialism, from the last SACP Augmented Central Committee. The electronic version is strangely unobtainable. Instead, here below is Dominic Tweedie’s roundup of coming political events this year, published this week in the London Morning Star. Now that the CU has an opening to this internationally famous publication, how about us showing them some more samples of what we can do? Comrade Floyd? Comrade Castro? Anybody?
Click on this link:
The SA NDR and Socialism, Dominic Tweedie, Morning Star (1100 words)
12 February 2007
Read of the arrogance of J Arthur Brown and think what it means. See the linked articles below. These are three superb pieces of journalism by Moneyweb.
Alec Hogg, summing up, says: “The Fidentia cupboard is bare.” He says it is: “Our worst nightmare.” Who is that “we”? It is not the 47000 widows and orphans. They are not likely to surf the net to Moneyweb’s site. It is the exposed bourgeoisie of whose nightmares Hogg writes. Its system protects the strong but leaves the poor to swing in the wind. It is a system that celebrates and rewards arrogance. And this arrogance infects every part of bourgeois society. It even affects the labour movement and it tries to creep into the Communist Party. In South Africa, arrogance is a national disease.
Arrogance is alas only one of the many problems suffered by the Communist University in recent days. Others include the effects of crime, death, taxes and the common cold. But the arrogant denial of resources is still the most relentless problem the CU has faced all along, and on every side. People demand, and expect to receive, but don’t give. People hog resources and fail to make use of them, and for one main reason: arrogance. Resources that could be put to use for the people go to waste. Time is dragged out endlessly and uselessly. Opportunities are squandered. Life slips away.
The SACP at the level of Gauteng Province can send e-mails, but does not. The SACP Johannesburg District would like to, but says it cannot. These two home-turf structures are more opaque to the Johannesburg Communist University than millions of other structures on the Internet. The SACP Johannesburg Central Branch Executive Committee sends hard copy, with no return address to which you can send an apology. The following paragraph is from such a letter, received today:
“We are urged to call this meeting among others by a growing concerns and complaints by members of the branch around the circulated emails under communist university – which is part of branch sub-committees, the previously agreed disclaimer on the circulated emails, quoting and misquoting of issues and matters discussed in branch meetings.”
Comrades, people need to understand that the Communist University is, for want of a better word, virtual. It is no bigger or smaller than the work that goes into it. It will continue to meet on Wednesdays for as long as it is permitted a venue. Tomorrow (Wednesday January 14th) it will discuss the tremendous Chapter 1 of “On War” (Vom Kriege) by Carl von Clausewitz. Unfortunately the senior YCL figure who was committed to open the discussion tomorrow has given apologies for lateness, just like George Raphela did last week. It seems like the CU is condemned to death by half-measures.
On the CU flyer for the past couple of years the following has been written: “Openers should be on time to open the discussion”. For people to take the publicity and then give apologies at the last minute “for lateness” is a sick joke. Thanks for nothing, Floyd Shivambu.
As for the electronic side of the CU, it will continue as and when time permits. People, you have to think about what you want. The Internet is a socialist place. Whatever is there is only held up by work. There is no neutron bomb for the Internet. You can’t beat down the people and steal the goods. If you beat down the Internet people, you will find there is nothing there to steal, just emptiness where before there was life.
Sincere thanks to those who asked where the CU had gone.
Click on these links:
Moneyweb opener on J Arthur and Fidentia (641 words)
Arrogance More Than Greed, Alec Hogg, Moneyweb (2662 words)
Fidentia, our worst nightmare, Alec Hogg, Moneyweb (575 words)
08 February 2007
In the general post-colonial and Imperialist situation of the world South Africa and Bolivia have many common preoccupations. The last third of Cde Blade’s article concerns the crucial relationship between the Party and the masses. It is instructive to study a similar situation that is also remote in place or time. This is a good way to start to conceive of the concrete nature of a situation.
In this spirit the Communist University is still watching the news for a suitable text that can open up the situation in Nepal for our study. We can report that Secretary General of the Socialist International, Luis Ayala, arrived in Nepal on Wednesday to take part in the Asia Pacific Regional-level meeting of the Socialist International to be held from February 10-11. The ANC is a member of the Socialist International.
Ayala said that the meeting of the Socialist International was being organised in Kathmandu to express solidarity to the ongoing peace process and democracy in Nepal.
Ann Crotty is a great journalist but she has become infected with the same disease as Xolela Mangcu. In the article below she relies on US solecism and neologism and unquestioned assertion from Citigroup, the Rockefeller bank, as if they were gospel. In spite of a strange nod in the direction of the Marxists right at the end, Crotty seems to have no clue that she is in territory that has been well studied by Karl Marx and his successors. If she had only read a few chapters of Capital she would have known that their conclusion is the reverse of Citigroup’s, and then at least she could have thrown up the contrast. Thus do great journalists start down the slippery slope.
Marxist scholarship has always been able to clearly demonstrate the opposite of Crotty’s assertions. Because the bourgeoisie are ripping surplus value off each worker on a daily basis, the workers all together cannot possibly have enough spending power to purchase their own product in full. Nor can the small bourgeoisie possibly spend enough to make up for the deficit. So Marx contradicts Crotty at its very core, and vice versa.
Banks like Citigroup, and especially central bankers like Tito Mboweni, are charged with fiddling the books in an effort to prevent the recurring overtoppling phenomenon called the “crisis of overproduction”. The result is structural poverty and “jobless growth”. Like many a good but bourgeois journalist, Crotty is having a bout of not being able to see the wood for the trees. She should re-read Capital, or at least “Value Price and Profit”, (redacted here), which is Marx’s short 1865 study of these phenomena. So should all the reformist proponents of the hopeless holy grail of capitalist economics, a “fair” labour market. Some of these are still found in the ranks of the labour movement. Such a thing as a “fair” distribution of wealth under capitalism will never be seen on this earth.
The US Imperialists are having another “launch” of their grandiose and arrogant “Africa Command” which could be comical if it had not already resulted in the tragic slaughter of innocents in Somalia. It is boosted on the back of the Al Qaeda scare. The linked article below at least carries the merit of the following final paragraph: “Critics of US policy however say that Washington is inflating the influence that Al-Qaeda has in Somalia in order to pursue its own geo-political goals in the Horn of Africa.” Thanks for that small mercy. At least SAPA did not quite swallow the nonsense whole. See the link.
Next week on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, the Communist University is going to study the first, summarising chapter of Clausewitz’ “On War”, with an opening by Floyd Shivambu of the YCL National Committee. We study war because we want peace. We study Clausewitz in particular because he shows that war is not an alternative to politics, but only a tragic interlude between negotiations. The greatest folly of the US Imperialists is to think that they can secure unconditional military victories. That is another fallacy that will never happen, anywhere. See the link below.
Click on these links:
Umsebenzi Online, Vol 6, No. 2, 7 Feb 2007, Bolivia and Latin America (2592 words)
Hope for a narrower wealth gap, Ann Crotty, Business Report (814 words)
US creates Africa Military Command on Al Qaeda excuse, Sapa (632 words)
Clausewitz, Chapter 1, What is War (7916 words)
07 February 2007
There are several points of interest. One is the famous Rule 6.4, which is the key that has unlocked mass democracy on a huge scale in South Africa. Another is the rights of members and the procedure of Provincial and National Congresses. There is supposed to be a Gauteng Provincial Congress on 24th and 25th March (i.e. next month) and the 12th SACP National Congress is scheduled for 11th to 15th July 2007. Another point of interest is the quorum rules.
There are some comrades in the Party, and outside it, who think it is fine to make up arbitrary new rules as they go along. These are the types of people Karima Brown calls “flunkies”, referring to ANC flunkies in the first article linked below. But there are also some flunkies in the SACP. Ebrahim Steyn, for example, objected to the CU post of 29th January where Zico Tamela was criticised for attacking COSATU in public print for not doing organising work when he himself had conspicuously neglected that same work while wearing his SACP hat. Steyn’s attack was backed up by his fellow-YCLer Bigboy Kekana. This was in last Sunday’s SACP Johannesburg Central Branch meeting.
These comrades, and Cde Tamela in particular, had previously insisted on the disclaimer that nowadays hangs over the Communist University, as you may have seen. But now Tamela accuses the CU of “getting around” the disclaimer! This piece of political lunacy would be laughable if Cde Tamela was not currently the Chairperson of the SACP Gauteng Province, an ANC PR Councillor in Johannesburg, and the International Secretary of COSATU affiliate SATAWU.
The demand last year for a disclaimer means that the Branch and the Province have disowned the CU and this is not a reversible situation. They have made their bed and they must lie in it. The Branch Executive Committee (BEC) will meet this evening at the same time that the CU is busy studying the Constitution. There will be sound and fury at the BEC but it will signify nothing. The disclaimer is there at their insistence and it will not be withdrawn. The SACP Constitution is also in place and it will not be re-written in any way until the 12th Congress in July, if at all.
Brown was commenting on the FNB demarche on crime that never was. She thinks, on balance, “the democratic space is not only there, but it is widening.” Well, fine, but the democratic space is only widened by effort, and as the above example shows, there are always plenty of flunkies around who want to close it down again. The struggle must be taken up again with each new day.
The Business Report led well yesterday with further material on the terrible Fidentia scandal, where it appears that the promoters of the company, who came from nowhere but were highly recommended, simply helped themselves to hundreds of millions of rands of money belonging to deceased mineworkers’ widows and orphans, and may well have shipped the money abroad. This is international monopoly finance capitalism. It is not a distant theory. It is a daily, predatory reality. See the linked item below from Tonny Mafu.
Finally, the imperialist war hysteria against Iran has spread to France. Diana Johnstone reports from there that whereas that country (together with South Africa, we recall) was one of the main opponents of the war on Iraq four years ago, now the French media and the main bourgeois political parties there are singing the same tune as their US counterparts (see the link). Johnstone puts this down to a shift in the allegiance of the very large Jewish population of France. But the foundation of belligerence against Iran or any other country that is outside the direct sphere of Imperial dominance is not ethnicity. It is only the same capitalist Imperialist driving force that has tortured the globe with warfare for more than a hundred years.
Click on these links:
Bank on patronage, not principle, Karima Brown, Business Day (812 words)
Fidentia sent funds offshore - FSB, Tonny Mafu, Business Report (525 words)
War frenzy in France against Iran, Diana Johnstone, Counterpunch (2454 words)
05 February 2007
Linked below is the COSATU response to Christelle Terreblanche’s article on the Nairobi World Social Forum (WSF) as printed in the Sunday Independent, and followed by their Editor’s Note. The latter basically says that Christelle and the “Sindy” did not have information from COSATU and its affiliates in advance. Fair enough. No doubt COSATU could do more than it already does in this regard, even if it is probably the most transparent and media-friendly combine in the country, as well as by far the biggest.
The CU’s speculation that COSATU might have had more representation in Nairobi than South Africa’s other social movements put together turns out to be well wide of the mark, to say the least. We now know of more than 200 individuals in 60 or so SA organisations that took part in the WSF, many of them listed by name in the document linked below. If you want a report-back, you know where to go.
Also linked, and also from Nairobi, from Pambazuka News, an article by Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem contains the following great couple of lines, among many others:
“And this issue of dependence on foreign donors is not just because there are no resources. How come the nationalists freed this continent from the yoke of colonialism without writing proposals to any funder?”
This is closely followed by the comrade’s hilarious listing of MONGOs, BONGOs, GONGOs and PONGOs. If you want to know what they all mean, please read this wonderful article, linked below.
It is the job of a Communist Party, with its mission to educate, organise and mobilise, to build the kind of popular, democratic, allied unity-in-action structures that can secure peace and social progress. The SACP has done a great job at national level with its Red October campaigns, for example. The YCL, too, has formed exemplary relationships with other progressive youth movements nationally.
But at provincial and city level, and at the international level of the African continent, the necessary structures are still rudimentary, or non-existent. Local Party and YCL members must not point fingers at others for this deficiency, or attack people who point it out to them.
The internationalism “franchise” is certainly being milked and manipulated big-time by the Imperialists. It provides acres of newspaper copy all over the world. The ringmasters of the show, of which the WSF is only a tiny part, can press buttons at any moment, producing uproar to order. When the purpose of the uproar has been served, the “issue” goes right back into the closet again.
The issue of Myanmar was certainly used in this way to create an uproar that would mask the invasion of Somalia by the US and Ethiopian military at Christmas time. Now Myanmar is back in the media closet, and Somalia with it. Except that South Africa’s Ambassador to Cuba, Thenjiwe Mtintso, has written an explanation for dummies of why this kind of manipulation must be opposed and confronted. See the link below.
If you still have doubts that games are being played at the UN to make up seem like down and white seem like black, please read the final linked item from Brian Cloughley of Counterpunch.
Click on these links:
Cosatu was in Nairobi, COSATU DGS Bheki Ntshalintshali, Sindy (644 words)
Who went from SA to WSF Nairobi, 2007 - an incomplete list. (lists)
MONGOs, GONGOs and BONGOs, Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, Pambazuka (1245 words)
Myanmar vote critics missing UN aim, Thenjiwe Mtintso, Sindy (818 words)
Irony of Bush Indignation, Brian Cloughley, Counterpunch (1273 words)