30 January 2008

New Broom Locked In Cupboard

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[Posted early for Thursday]

Professor Sipho Seepe’s article in Wednesday’s “Business Day”, linked below, is the kind that gets called “seminal” [i.e. “Highly influential in an original way; constituting or providing a basis for further development”], or in other words, like a seed that will grow into something bigger.

Seepe says that President Mbeki has lost the support of his own party, the ANC, and that he and all his cronies should resign immediately. For most people this is a simple matter of democracy, in exactly the terms stated by Prof. Seepe; yet this idea has been publicly rejected and identified with
agents provocateurs by COSATU in the past, for reasons best known to COSATU.

Seepe also says that those responsible for running the country out of electricity should all be sacked. COSATU disagrees, and says that
Eskom is not to blame in any way, and that the government is covered by Thabo Mbeki’s apology.

This leaves the country and its power supply in the hands of rejects and incompetents, and with only hopes of better leadership to come at some time in the future, subject to all sorts of natural contingencies. We have been promised, at Polokwane, better leadership than before. Why can we not have it? The new leaders were elected. What are they waiting for?

Barry Sergeant is one of the main journalists at Moneyweb. See his article “A nation crippled”, linked below. Communist University would like to ask in this context, too, why we are supposed to go on under the leadership that Sergeant has no difficulty exposing and lampooning for its terrible record of failing audits. He continues to do so
in a further article at Moneyweb, which mainly focuses on the equally shocking question of tenders.

These attacks from the likes of Sergeant will continue and they will become better aimed. And who can blame him? We do still have one great chance, and that is to let the new Polokwane broom sweep clean, and clear out all the mess. Yet somehow, the new broom has been locked in the cupboard, with a notice that says: Do not use for 18 months! Why this is so, is a mystery, but what it looks like is elite negotiation. If that is the case it is a crying shame.

Even if Jacob Zuma himself is the one who wants to mark time, to run on the spot, or to tread water for 18 months, he should not be allowed to do so. The delegates at Polokwane wanted action, and they wanted change. Now we see the re-emergence of Sophie Mokoena and Amanda Strydom on SABC, Helen Zille at Union Buildings, and soon, no doubt, the re-appearance of Mr Crocodile-Smile himself, Essop Pahad, out from wherever he has been hiding since Polokwane. In 18 months, who will know the difference between the new and the old? All the corruption that happens from now on will be for the account of the new leadership. Its credibility will be gone before it starts work.

The third item linked below is the contents list of “
Africanus”, including a link to the download of that magazine in PDF format. Without having read most of the articles in the magazine, we can certainly say it is a sophisticated site of struggle. Yet we as Party members have to be prepared to take on any or all of the intellectuals whose wares are on display in this magazine. With or without any doctorates or degrees, we must be able to hold our own in the company of these academic head-bangers.

Comrades, those who can attend, don’t forget the first 2008 Branch General Meeting (BGM) of the Johannesburg Central Branch of the SACP. It will take place at 10h00 on Sunday morning, 3 February 2008 at the SATAWU offices, 13th floor, Old Mutual Building, 29 Kerk Street, (between Loveday and Harrison).

We had a fine attendance at the Communist University on Tuesday of 17 comrades. Now let’s make the Branch attendance look as good, comrades.

Click on these links:

A spent force in the path of democracy, Sipho Seepe, B Day (714 words)

A nation crippled, Barry Sergeant, Fear and Loathing, Moneyweb (824 words)

AFRICANUS, Journal of Development Studies, Contents (Table)

Coming Events

29 January 2008

Democracy or Underdevelopment

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[Posted early for Wednesday]

“Africanus” was the name given to Scipio Africanus (pictured), victor over Hannibal Barca at the battle of Zama in North Africa in 202 BC. He was one of the Roman generals who devastated the Carthaginians of the African coast, massacred and enslaved the inhabitants there, and caused their fields to be sown with salt (as the legend has it) in an early example of Europe underdeveloping Africa.

But Africanus is nowadays also a “Journal of Development Studies” coming out of UKZN, and the latest edition, in a 296-page 4.5MB PDF file, is available at:
http://www.nu.ac.za/ccs/files/africanus_1.pdf. It contains a number of learned articles including a good one by YCL National Chairperson David Masondo called “Capitalism and racist forms of political domination”, which is linked below.

According to reported remarks of ANC President Jacob Zuma, South Africa's power crisis is an "unintended consequence" of the country's growing economy. This formulation does not assist us to find a way forward. It does not offer any prospect of escaping from such “unintended consequences” in the future. See the second item below.

The Communist University’s response was to say:
Sack the Incompetents! Democratise Control! and (referring to the aluminium smelters that are sucking power out of the country in typical Imperialist fashion) Potlines Out!. Now, Jaxon Rice has made the argumentfor shutting down the smelters in a very neat and concise was. See the link below. If you go to Jaxon Rice on switching off the smelters, you can add your support to his call in a Comment.

Ann Crotty (co-author of "Executive Pay in South Africa - Who Gets What and Why") is a great journalist and she knows her way around the energy scene. If Ann Crotty says there is something odd about the stories relating to coal supply at power stations, then it is worth paying attention, and holding that attention. Are there some untouchables in the coal industry? What is the detail? What is the big picture? If Crotty is given freedom to investigate, she will find the truth. Read the report by clicking on the link below.

Samantha Enslin-Payne is not a name we know as well as Ann Crotty’s. In the same issue of Business Report, Enslin-Payne gives figures based on power station reports-back to Eskom, showing that 25% of Eskom's power capacity is off-line right now for all sorts of divers reasons, but all of the kind that can be generally described as management failure.

Unfortunately Enslin-Payne disfigures this interesting report with quotes from Solidarity, laced with their usual racism. The
Communist University has previously raised the question of the culpability of corrupt racists within this Eskom saga. But then again, there is nothing in South Africa that is as yet free of the “national question” (and David Masondo’s linked article can help to show why that is the case).

Concerning the power crisis in general, what does it mean to say: Democratise Control!? In the first place it means that whatever the leadership of our mass organisations (ANC and COSATU) may say for the moment, to the effect that nobody is to blame for this fiasco (except Thabo Mbeki and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who have apologised, but who are both on their way out, anyway), we as professional revolutionaries must inform ourselves more fully.

There is nothing in what Jacob Zuma is here reported to have said, or in what
COSATU has said in its media release of Monday’s date, that bears on the management of Eskom into the future. Yet this is an organisation whose management has already failed in a spectacular way, and in whom we therefore should not place expectations of success into the future.

COSATU is saying is that Eskom must not be privatised, a sentiment with which the movement as a whole will heartily agree. However, we must also remember that nationalisation under capitalism is nationalisation for capitalism. Just because Eskom is nationalised does not mean that the proletariat is in charge of Eskom. On the contrary, under a bourgeois state the nationalised industries will naturally be made to serve the bourgeoisie. For that reason, the vanguard party of the proletariat must look very carefully at the competence and at the aims of the management of Eskom even at a moment when the ANC and COSATU would rather not do so, for their own reasons, which we have yet to discover.

Click on these links:

Capitalism and racist forms of political domination, David Masondo (6412 words)

Booming economy spurned energy crisis - Zuma, Sapa, IOL (358 words)

Shut down the aluminium smelters, Jaxon Rice, Thought Leader (421 words)

Coal solution is just a request away, Ann Crotty, B Report (302 words)

All power plants under capacity, S Enslin-Payne, B Report (509 words)

Coming Events

28 January 2008

Dual Power

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Today (Tuesday) is our first session of the year, this afternoon, at 17h00, third floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein. This week we discuss political education, using Liu Shaoqi’s “How to be a Good Communist. (pictures are of Liu Shaoqi).

SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande’s “Dual Power” paper published in Umsebenzi Online on the 90th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution was a great breakthrough. Click on the link below. We are going to use it on 5 February 2008, as the opener to our study of the great polemic between Rosa Luxemburg and Vladimir Lenin.

The eighth resolution from the 52nd ANC National Conference is on International Relations (see the second link below). It is long and detailed and has a great deal in it, not surprisingly, since there are more than 200 countries in the world and most of them are in some kind of anti-Imperialist struggle.

The ninth Polokwane Resolution, on Communications and the Battle of Ideas, has got the mass media stirred up, all right. Click on the link below to read it.

Those of us who have lived in foreign lands may be more sensitive than others to the early signs of populist racism or what is called in South Africa xenophobia. There is no doubt that for some people (even, we must admit, some comrades and some workers), it is somehow acceptable to look down on Chinese people in this country. They think it is acceptable but it is not acceptable. It is deadly dangerous to allow any such thing to arise in our midst. Therefore the article by the well-known, well-loved and well-respected Chinese South African writer Darryl Accone, linked below, published in the Sunday Times, is very welcome. Read it and get your facts straight, if you are in any doubt about this matter at all.

COSATU’s position on the power-supply crisis in the country is spelt out in their latest media release. Read it by clicking the link below.

SACP Deputy GS Jeremy Cronin was interviewed in the Sunday Times, and asked about Eskom, among other things, including the Reserve Bank. This short interview can also assist us in our study of the question of Dual Power that we are going to discuss next week. Click on the second last link below.

Don’t forget to check Current Events.

Click on these links:

Dual power, living legacy of the Great October Revolution, Blade Nzimande (2336 words)

ANC 52nd National Conference 2007, International Relations (4365 words)

ANC 52nd NC 2007, Communications and the Battle of Ideas (2634 words)

Recognition of Chinese apartheid travails, Darryl Accone, S Times (1379 words)

Eskom crisis and jobs, COSATU Media Release (505 words)

Q and A, Jeremy Cronin talks to Chris Barron, Sunday Times (715 words)

Coming Events

27 January 2008

School

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Our “ghost” course on Karl Marx’s Capital Volume 1 continues, with the famous “Introduction to a Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy”, written ten years before the main work was published in 1867. See the link below. Press on, comrades! This year we are all going to crack Capital Volume 1!

Meanwhile our regular
Communist University programme begins tomorrow (Tuesday) evening at 17h00 at the SACP Boardroom, 3rd Floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein. The topic for discussion is political education itself, and the text that has been distributed is Liu Shaoqi’sHow to be a good communist”.

The seventh ANC 52nd National Conference Resolution (linked below) from Polokwane is on Peace and Stability. It includes the decisions on the unification of the police force, mass mobilisation against crime, and many other very important matters.

Thirdly, a document by veteran Sheridan Johns, on the revival of the communist party after its banning in 1950 and up to today. Critical points include whether the pre-1950 CPSA was in essentially a different position to the SACP of today; and what is the meaning of “junior” and “senior” when applied to the SACP in relation to the ANC today (see the last section of the document, before the footnotes).

The relationship is not about relative size. It is not a quantitative matter. Again, if “junior” is supposed to mean that the SACP is not an independent political party, and is under direct instruction from the ANC, then this also is not, and cannot be, correct.

The positions of the pre-1950 CPSA and of the SACP today are qualitatively more similar than different. The Party is “junior” to the mass organisations only in the sense that it serves them. Apart from existing to serve the masses in this general way, the Party also provides particular material and practical services to the mass organisations. It provides them with organisation and structure. It is not the sole source of such organising power but it is the crucial one.

It is not a paradox to say that in politics, the meaning of the word “vanguard” is similar to the word “servant”. The Vanguard Party is there to serve, because it specialises in political understanding. It is a learned society of professionals, dedicated to the service of the working class. It serves, and if that makes it “junior”, then in that sense only, so be it. But in no other sense is it “junior”. Nor is the vanguard “senior” to the mass in any sense. So altogether, junior and senior does not work as a way of describing the relationship of vanguard and mass, either way. Vanguard and mass organisations are different in kind, not degree.

In honour of the CPSA, we give a picture of Lionel “Rusty” Bernstein, as shown in a police mug shot taken in the evening of his arrest during the Rivonia raid.

The YCL National Committee Lekgotla made decisions on a number of matters. Click the link below.

Lastly, in a shocking development, we carry notices from three movement organisations on the death of Don Pasquallie, aged 41, the Deputy General Secretary of SADTU. Click to open all three in one document.

Click on these links:

Introduction to Critique of Political Economy, Karl Marx, 1857 (11184 words)

ANC 52nd National Conference 2007, Peace and Stability (1752 words)

Recreation of Communist Party in SA in 1950s, Johns, ASQ (8872 words)

YCL National Committee Lekgotla, 24-26 January 2008 (1189 words)

Passing of SADTU DGS Don Pasquallie, YCL, SADTU, COSATU (600 words)

Coming Events

26 January 2008

Once And For All

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Here, linked below, are the fifth and sixth of the nine Polokwane Resolutions, made by the 52nd National Conference of the African National Congress (ANC) in December, 2007.

The resolution on Rural Development seems to be well regarded by some of the people in the field. The resolution mentions FAWU, the 65-year old pioneer trade union, and rightly so, as part of any solution to the problems of rural South Africa. Yet the resolution itself indicates that these solutions are not a simple matter of prescription.

Among other things, the resolution on Rural Development says: “Black economic empowerment and the deracialisation of agricultural ownership is a necessary but insufficient condition for the realisation of our transformation goals in rural South Africa.” In that case, what would be sufficient? The Communist University would like to hear from all you scholars out there about this. Is it agrarian (farming) reform that rural South Africa needs? Or would that be insufficient, unless wider and more comprehensive economic reforms are instituted, that will begin to eradicate the difference between town and country, permanently?

The Resolution on State and Governance includes decisions on the electoral system, floor-crossing, the single public service, and the transformation of the judiciary. It also marks down several other matters for continuing attention and later final resolution. These include the future of the Provinces; the lowering of the minimum voting age; anti-“javelin” rules; and the possibility of a Women’s Ministry (i.e. the question of specialisation/ghettoisation versus mainstreaming).

The Resolution on State and Governance also includes the following useful and quotable sentence: “The use of force during public demonstrations and mass protests resulting in such unacceptable actions as violent assaults against the people, intimidation in various forms, looting and destruction of property should be unequivocally condemned.”

ANC Today has been running a series of digests of the Polokwane Resolutions, which we have carried as they have come out. Part III of this series is linked below. It discusses the State and Governance resolution.

When we listed the “Coming Event” at Wits University from 28-31 January 2008 we called it “
Conference at Wits University Origins Centre”. The full advertised title is “Paradoxes of the Postcolonial Public Sphere: South African Democracy at the Crossroads”. We know this now, because a full-colour, 36-page, A4-landscape, heavy-paper stapled booklet about it has arrived today, free with the Weekender newspaper.

It is hard to assess the meaning and purpose of this event. The brochure (and its electronic equivalent) are done in a faux-punk collage style that was quite difficult to reduce to a simple chronological programme, but we have done that for you (
click here to see it). The brochure acknowledges three sponsors: Atlantic Philanthropies, the Origins Centre, and the Goethe Institute. Apart from that, we are left to speculate about the purpose, based on the personalities listed in the brochure, and the eclectic, post-modern rag-bag of ideological material scattered through the brochure.

It seems to be about public discourse, and what one wants to say at first is this: that the Communist University has been in the public sphere for nearly five years, and we are at home there, and even quite well known there by this time, and particularly so in Braamfontein, the part of Johannesburg that we share with the another university, Wits. Yet this thing of theirs does not touch us or invite us, let alone involve us in its planning. It looks rather like the Mail & Guardian’s “Thought Leader” blog-kennel in this respect. We would expect that if we approached the organisers they would say, like those other “Though Leaders”: hacks are not required; we are non-political; you are attached to the Communist Party; we (although at Wits and well funded) are “alternative”; you are Stalinist. So, David Bullard is invited there, and has permission to insult SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande in print, in the programme, but Comrade Blade himself will not be invited.

Therefore, like so many liberals before them, the organisers of this event are not really concerned about the public sphere at all, but more with splitting the public sphere into two, if they only could (but they cannot). They would prefer a public sphere of their own, a well-funded anti-communist one; and perhaps, or perhaps not, they would allow another, rubbish-bin rabotchy-class skorokoro spaza public sphere where the communists might be permitted to exist in the dark, and occasionally to be patronised by the larnie sellouts, when they feel like a bit of slumming.

If you go to this event you will sit through the presentations of the privileged platform speakers. When it comes time for contributions from the floor, the imposed chairperson will announce that unfortunately, the programme is running late. You may be able to blurt out a few angry words of protest, but that will be all. This event is for celebrating celebrities. It is for anointing the acceptable. It is not critical. It’s a bore.

We have to defend ourselves and our intellectual concerns. That is our job here. Yet we are constantly reminded that there are those who pay with their lives, every day, within the racist capitalist system, in those parts where the battle of ideas is waged with material deprivations, exclusions, and even with rifles. Please click on the link to COSATU GS Zwelinzima Vavi’s short and powerful speech at the funeral of the four people killed by the young white sniper in Skielik. It arrived while the above was being written.

We would point out that the Skielik sniper was not even born in 1988 when Barend Strydom killed 8 black people and wounded 16 with a rifle in a in Pretoria Square. When the negotiations came along, Afrikaners insisted on an amnesty for Strydom. So South Africa’s last white President, F W de Klerk (picture) gave Strydom a presidential pardon in 1992. Thus, in the name of “reconciliation” dragons’ teeth were sown. Those dragons’ teeth, sprouting in Swartruggens and who knows where else, must be rooted up now, once and for all.

25 January 2008

One And Only ANC

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Here, linked below, are the third and fourth of the nine resolutions of the 52nd ANC National Conference, on Economic Transformation, and on Climate Change.

Once again, these are base documents going forward. All cadres need to have a degree of awareness of what is in these resolutions.

The Communist University has archived all the Polokwane resolutions as separate, downloadable, MS-Word files, indexed
on a page at the YCLSA Discussion Forum web site. By the way, that group of 630 subscribers is now our de facto CU discussion forum. Click here, enter your address, and then click “Subscribe” to join the group and take part in the lively discussions.

The rumour that ANC Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was about to be appointed Deputy President of the country was false. Thanks to Reuters for clearing that one up. "It hasn't happened because it doesn't exist. It is total fiction," said Cde Motlanthe. "We are not preoccupied with the deployment of Mr. Motlanthe. We are preoccupied with the smooth workings between the party structures and those deployed in government," said ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe. See the third item, linked below.

In the ANC Resolution on Organisational Renewal there is a reference to the Imvuselelo Handbook. ANC National Office have been kind enough to provide the CU with a PDF version of this handbook, and from that we have been able to produce an MS-Word version, archived and
downloadable from the Internet. Or use the link below for the usual amadlandawonye archive.

The last two items are government communications (GCIS) on what government is now calling the Electricity Emergency. Thanks to the comrade from Earthlife Africa who sent these media releases to us via the YCLSA Discussion Forum.

There is a new edition of ANC Today.
Click here to open that page on the ANC web site.

Don’t forget the Coming Events, linked at the bottom line; plenty this weekend.

Click on these links:

ANC 52nd National Conference 2007, Resolution on Economic Transformation (2553 words)

ANC 52nd National Conference 2007, Resolution on Climate Change (1890 words)

Top ANC official denies SA government post rumours, Reuters (337 words)

Imvuselelo ANC Branch Handbook, short version (4078 words)

SA Government Electricity Emergency Programme (GCIS) (1173 words)

National Electricity Emergency, GCIS background notes (1440 words)

Coming Events

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

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Comrade John Phumzile Gomomo, who became the Second Deputy President of COSATU in 1989 and was elected President in 1991 until he vacated the position following his redeployment to the national assembly in 1999, passed away at around 11:00 on January 22, 2008.

His family has decided that the funeral be held on February 9, 2008 in Uitenhage.

[COSATU has] produced an initial obituary, which will be published in the Mail and Guardian tomorrow, January 25, 2008. A more detailed obituary will be produced with the assistance of Jay Naidoo, Moses Mayekiso, Enoch Godongwana and others who worked closely with him in COSATU and in his union NUMSA.

Messages of support to his family as well as flowers could be sent to his home address at No.35 Matanzima Road, P.O. KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage.


Thanks to COSATU for the above.


In the first linked document below you will find messages from the SACP, NUMSA, ANC and again COSATU, on the passing of John Gomomo, one of those great ones whose leadership straddled the time of the old regime as well as the democratic breakthrough. Let us try to learn from the memory of this worker leader as it is recounted in the coming days.


The second ANC 52nd National Conference resolution is on Social Transformation and deals with many matters including Health and Education. See the second link below. We have to try to master the detail of these resolutions, comrades. If we do not do so we will be at the mercy of the “analysts”.

The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frias, is well loved and respected nationally and internationally. When he announced that he was intending to lead the country towards “21st Century Socialism”, and was founding United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) for that purpose, Chávez asked the Communist Party of Venezuela (CPV) to disband itself in favour of its members joining the PSUV. The CPV had a Congress and debated the matter, but concluded that it would not liquidate itself but would continue to exist as an independent vanguard working-class party.

The third linked item is a short and powerful article by CPV Politburo member Carolus Wimmer, originally published in German, in the magazine Junge Welt. It explains very clearly the position of the CPV, and how the alliance between the CPV and President Chávez’ PSUV has now been restored to a condition of alliance, as we in South Africa would call it.

FAWU continues to lead the struggle against the insane and ugly monopoly capitalist exploitation of the poor through their life-giving food, which is virtually a blackmail of life and death. See the fourth item.

The questions around Eskom and the power cuts continue to multiply, and more information comes out in dialogue. The next item is a compilation of two of the contributions to e-mail debate on this subject.

The YCL National Committee will be holding an extended plenary for the remainder of this week. See the linked notice below, and note the crucial items that are on their agenda. See also Coming Events, which continues to grow.

Click on these links:

Messages on the passing of John Gomomo, 24 January 2008 (1378 words)

ANC 52nd National Conference 2007, Social Transformation (2434 words)

Importance of CP as revolutionary organisation, Wimmer, CPV (1240 words)

Bread Prices and Competition Probe, FAWU (368 words)

Load Shedding Debate, Cedric Gina, NUMSA e-mail discussion, and a response (1663 words)

YCL Extended Plenary of National Committee 25-27 January 2008 (Notice)

Coming Events

23 January 2008

Dogs Bark. Caravan Must Move On.

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The Resolutions of the 52nd National Congress of the ANC (Polokwane, Limpopo Province, December, 2007) have been published. The amended Constitution and the amended Strategy and Tactics document are still to come. The first of the nine resolutions, on Organisational Renewal, is linked below. In size, it accounts for about one quarter of the volume of all the resolutions taken together (11 pages out of 45). It needs to be studied in detail, so that it can live.

Two centres of power? No leadership? It sounds familiar, but it’s the DA we are talking about for the moment, and the two leaders in question are Helen Zille and Sandra Botha. See the second item for a snapshot of the DA, the party of the living dead.

And then there are the insects. Scorpion Ivor Powell, once a Mail & Guardian arts journalist, doing reviews of snobby picture exhibitions and the like, is a guy who nowadays hangs out with gangsters, such as the head of the “Americans” gang. See the next two items for details of his arrest. He is presently out on R1000 bail having been charged with driving under the influence of drink, and defeating the ends of justice.

The police (SAPS) cannot prosecute and are not allowed to engage advocates of their own. They are obliged to go to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), owners of the Scorpions, to ask them to prosecute any case. Once the case is in the hands of the NPA, the latter are at liberty to withdraw it again, which is what they did with Gerrie Nel’s case. Now we will see what happens with this other NPA character, Powell. Will it be another instance of “case withdrawn”? More than likely, it will.

The SACP Johannesburg Central Branch has issued its 2008 schedule. See the link below. So has the
Communist University. We still await the Year Planners of the national SACP, ANC, and COSATU. Even without the dates of the Alliance partners, the year’s diary is beginning to look busy. Click on the bottom line below for the “Coming Events” page, wherein any line can be clicked for further details of the event that it advertises.

David Gleason’s famous “Torque” column is available nowadays from a web site, on subscription,
here. The trailer for the column this week says: “The Eskom farrago underlines the extent to which President Thabo Mbeki’s nine-year tenure has been such a comprehensive disaster, both for his party, the ANC, and South Africa”.

No legacy, then, for Comrade Mbeki. He hopes for rescue (see illustration) but none will come. The best thing he could do for us is to resign, quickly. He will not, and cannot, deal decisively with the Eskom crisis. His presence merely interferes with the ability of the new leadership to take command, as it must do if we are to have relief. Waiting another eighteen months for a firm hand on the wheel is a terrifying, risky prospect. Let the man go, now! Let the caravan move on, without delay.

Click on these links:

ANC 52nd National Conference 2007, Organisational Renewal (7434 words)

DA caucus split as dual leadership sows discord, Ensor, B Day (556 words)

Another top Scorpion held, Maughan and Mtyala, The Star (512 words)

Top Scorpion arrested for drunk driving, Sapa, Mail and Guardian (327 words)

SACP Johannesburg Central Branch 2008 Schedule (schedule)

Coming Events

Too Much Nonsense

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At 13h30 on 21 January 2008, Faan Coetzee, lawyer for Ferdi Barnard (see picture), the killer of David Webster among others, was telling the media that his client was going to apply for a presidential pardon (see the first linked document).

Nine minutes later, Tlali Tlali of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had just finished holding a press conference to announce, in effect, that the trial of Barnard and others for the assassination of Anton Lubowski nearly 20 years ago would be postponed yet again. (See the second linked item).

We have no way of knowing whether these two press conferences were deliberately synchronised or not. The coincidence is either an embarrassment, or it is a message. The NPA should tell us which.

The same NPA had released a statement on Friday, 19 January 2008 about the past of Gerrie Nel, who was recently arrested and charged, only to have the charges withdrawn again by the NPA. The NPA also let it be known that Nel helped prosecute Janus Waluz and Clive Derby-Lewis for the murder of Chris Hani. This is a very interesting and even provocative announcement (see the linked Politicsweb article).

The YCL in particular has called for the re-opening of the investigation of the assassination of the SACP General Secretary, as Chris Hani was when he was shot. The investigators, presumably including Gerrie Nel, did not pursue the matter further than Waluz and Derby-Lewis, but we are sure there are others involved. The trail is not cold. On the contrary, the forces that were behind the Hani assassination are still making aggressive moves right up to today. For examples, click the following web-site links:

March 2007: BNP activist took part in terror campaign (Guardian, London)

July 2007: South African intelligence officer makes failed attempt to entrap Searchlight

September 2007: Anger rises in South Africa as killers walk free (Searchlight)

October 2007: Arthur Kemp profile on British anti-fascist site (Kirklees), with picture

Late 2007: Arthur Kemp Shores Up US Neo-Nazi Group (Southern Poverty Law Center, USA)

Mike Muller’s Business Day article (see next link) calls, quite correctly, for the resignation of national Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka for her role in the power failure debacle. Muller’s main message, however, is a pernicious advocacy for a utilitarian technocracy. It is precisely such technocracy that was a) responsible for our present electricity supply shortfall and b) decisively rejected by the 52nd National Conference of the ANC at Polokwane in December.

Muller is trying to smuggle a rescue for the technocrats by condemning the ostensible politician, Mlambo-Ngcuka. This is dishonest. Mlambo-Ngcuka’s crime was not that she was too political, but that she was not political at all. She never took the power problems to the democracy. Most of the detail that we are getting now is news to us, and much more of it still lies hidden. Technocrats like Muller hide their crimes and duck responsibility. In themselves they display the reason why they must always, like the military, be utterly subordinate to the democracy.

The SACP’s media release on the power cuts is the next link, followed by the extraordinary announcement that the entire management of the Tshwane Metrorail is to be suspended following the simultaneous burning of six trains at different locations after an Eskom power blackout.

Please check the Coming Events. There are new events posted there today, and nearly every day.

Click on these links:

Convicted apartheid assassin Ferdi Barnard applies for pardon, SABC (225 words)

Media gets it wrong on Lubowski says NPA, IOL (298 words)

Dubious and dubiouser, James Myburgh, Politicsweb (999 words)

Switching our focus to the third centre of power, Mike Muller, B Day (941 words)

Recent power cuts by Eskom, SACP Media Release (612 words)

Tshwane Metrorail management team suspended, IOL (192 words)

Coming Events

21 January 2008

Contrarians, Antinomians, and Malcontents

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The great Rosa Luxemburg said: "Freiheit ist immer Freiheit der Andersdenkenden", which means: "Freedom is always the freedom of those who think differently". Together with Karl Liebknecht, she was killed on 18 January 1919 but she is going to live again in our studies this year.

But first, are you ready to rid yourself “of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew”? Next week Tuesday we will start our new year of study with Liu Shaoqi, a rather different personality from Rosa, to be sure, but a good comrade nonetheless. Read the first linked document, below.

The first session is held available, as usual, for reflection on the nature of political education, its purpose, and its methodology. The Communist University is committed to
Critical Pedagogy. This also means that we test our ideas constantly against other ideas. We may need to contrast our pedagogical theory with that of the ANC, for example. Ideas are best illuminated, hardened and tempered by the fire of their most ardent critics.

In practice the new ANC NEC puts out businesslike material, focused, concrete, and above all intentional, to use a term of Paulo Freire’s. These are documents to keep and to study and to use as a continuous guide to our practical political life. See the linked document below. Among other things, “the Lekgotla recommended that government urgently develop a national response plan, whose single minded focus is to keep the electricity flowing”.

Professor Anthony Butler is a subtle thinker and last year was the first, or one of the first, to identify the strategy of the former President of the ANC to capture Luthuli House and then to run the country “from beyond the political grave”. When Butler is good, he is very, very good. See the linked article below. It is one of the first in the bourgeois press to take a steady look at the new ANC leadership as a whole. Butler tries hard to be horrid about Jacob Zuma and Zuma’s alleged “band of malcontents”, but the overall effect of this article is like a breath of fresh air, free of the odour of political anxiety and panic that has been all too common lately in the mainstream media.

Concerning the Eskom power cuts in the country, there is a simple version of events (swallowed whole by COSATU) that says that Eskom wanted to build power stations in the 1990s but the government would not let them. Thabo Mbeki has lent credence to the tale with a rather odd and quiet “public apology”.

This story is now being interrogated, and it is not standing up to interrogation very well. See the fourth and fifth items linked below. There is no doubt a great deal more that could come out. People have been playing God, but also thinking that time stands still, as, perhaps, for God, it does. The rest of us have to live in the material world. These people let us down badly while they dreamed of glory.

All of the hidden managers and the public officials in the energy field were dilatory. Now they are brazenly trying to exploit the situation made by their own negligence. They should all be cleared out, because they are a discredited, and quite possibly a corrupt leadership. They cannot be trusted.

There are new items in the “Coming Events” section. One of them is a Joe Slovo Memorial Lecture by SACP Deputy GS Jeremy Cronin, in Bonteheuvel, Cape Town on Saturday the 26th of January at 10h00. Another is the first major strike action of the year, also in Cape Town, by SAMWU members, from Monday the 28th.

Click on these links:

1939, Liu Shaoqi, How to be a good Communist (2546 words)

ANC National Executive Committee Statement, 20 January 2008 (1457 words)

Beyond knee-jerk gloom over ANC, Anthony Butler, Business Day (986 words)

Did Eskom attempt to plan for demand surge?, DEBATE, 21 January 2008 (424 words)

A lose-lose situation, Anonymous News24 User, 21 January 2008 (709 words)

Coming Events

Sack The Incompetents! Democratise Control!

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Barry Sergeant in his article “Days of mongrel donkeys” began: "Something truly catastrophic has happened at Eskom". That is the right place to begin. The alleged requisitions for power stations refused a decade ago, as COSATU has opined, do not absolve Eskom. Nor does Thabo Mbeki’spublic apology" although it is another good reason for him to resign, now.

There is a supply side and a demand side for electricity and the managers at Eskom can see it all. They could have made it all public, but they did not and still have not. Instead, they rode us into a catastrophe, like running a train into the buffers at full speed. They even increased the speed by selling huge amounts of power dirt-cheap on long-term fixed-price contracts to big multinational corporations, with no benefit to the country.
If, like COSATU, we now say that Eskom is not to blame, then we make sure that the same individuals, most of them hidden and anonymous, will remain in charge of power supply, possibly dictating and micro-managing our lives through rationing, for many years to come. This would amount to a coup d’etat of the incompetents over the rest of us. This is not acceptable. It is intolerable.
The people of South Africa must demand a total audit of the supply side and the demand side of electricity in detail in Kilowatts, broken down by localities and customers, plus all the backward and forward projections, plus a total audit of the human factor, too. Heads must roll, and not just Jacob Maroga’s head (pictured).

We must have total transparency and democratic control of all forward decision-making, especially when it comes to new contracts for sale of power or of purchase of power stations and transmission equipment. And if there is to be rationing, the people must control it democratically, not Eskom or any other faceless and spin-doctoring bureaucracy.
The only one of the three major Sunday newspapers that put the national catastrophe on its front page yesterday was the Sunday Independent. See their good editorial and their good front-page treatment (though not yet good enough), both linked below.

Andrew Murray is the Chairperson of the Stop the War coalition, once a leading journalist of the British working-class daily the Morning Star, and a strong writer of good books. He has written a blog on the London Guardian’s “comment is free” section, correcting distortions in the historic record of the killing of Karl Liebkecht and Rosa Luxemburg on 18 January 1919. Read the link below. The link to the site is given below the text. If you want, you can that link to open the site and read the comments, and to add comments of your own if you wish.

The
Communist University this year is going to feature the main polemics between Rosa Luxemburg and Vladimir Lenin, started by Rosa in 1900 with “Reform or Revolution?” Our first text of the year, for our usual initial reflection on political education, will go out tomorrow.

Meanwhile our “ghost” course, “
The Spectre of Capital, Volume 1” continues today with the second part of the 1848 “Communist Manifesto” of Marx and Engels, called “Proletarians and Communists”. This ends with the great statement about the “vast association of the whole nation in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”. Comrades, you have to read it!

Click on these links:

Power for the people must be state priority, Editorial, Sindy (467 words)

Crisis meetings to end Eskom chaos, Naidu, Gordin, others, Sindy (865 words)

Fallen heroes, sacred facts, Andrew Murray, Guardian (770 words)

Communist Manifesto, Proletarians and Communists, 1848 (3767 words)

Coming Events

19 January 2008

Boeremafia

1 comments
Barry Sergeant is a great journalist. He writes the “Fear and Loathing” column at Moneyweb (It also appears in The Citizen). His latest one (linked below) is about the rolling mass blackouts that have afflicted our country. Apart from the Communist University one day earlier, this is the first real journalistic charge against the monstrous catastrophe that Eskom has imposed upon South Africans like a coup d’etat.

Some say that the power cuts are the work of a “boeremafia” in Eskom, indulging in some “creative destruction” just like the other boeremafia that has managed to get hold of the NPA/Scorpions. Others say it must have been corruption, during the years when Penuell Maduna and his friend Bulelani Ngcuka’s wife Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka were successively Ministers of Energy. Some say that these three and the boeremafia are all involved together in both of these imbroglios, and a lot else besides.

Barry Sergeant thinks that Alec Erwin (“a national disgrace”) the Public Enterprises Minister should be answering questions, as well as Mohamed Valli Moosa, who is the Chairperson of Eskom, for which he gets paid millions, but who is presently nowhere to be found. Maybe the mainstream bourgeois media, who have been telling us recently how essential they are, could do a job of work for once in their jolly lives. As Barry Sergeant says: “Something truly catastrophic has happened at Eskom, and it’s going to come out, sooner or later.” The sooner the hacks get on with the case in a serious way, the better. The sooner the patriotic boere start talking, the better.

COSATU has unfortunately already decided that it is not Eskom’s fault. See the second linked item.

2008 is the 20th Anniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale. It is the year when we must finally do our duty and honour the Cubans who fought and laid down their lives for our freedom. It is not going to be easy. There is a strong lobby within the same old bourgeois mainstream media which will set up a big commotion against us as we honour the Cubans. They have already begun their work. See the third linked item, by Brendan Seery, from the Saturday Star.

Comrades, do you know that there are black Indians, and Indians who are not black? And do you know that there is something very like apartheid between them? And do you know that the arguments of the non-black Indians are very similar to the arguments of Solidarity and the AfriForum of Afrikaners in this country? Do yourselves a favour and read the fourth item, ironically titled “Pity the Brahmins” (see image). This is a story that needs to be told over and again in South Africa. It shows how things will persist if not dealt with. India has been independent for more than 60 years, and still the problems are there.

On 26 January there is an international day of solidarity for the Palestinians of Gaza, who are being subjected to genocidal actions by the Israelis. The Israelis destroyed Gaza’s only power station not long ago. The restriction of power supply is a political weapon. The fifth linked item below announces a demonstration starting in Adderley Street, Cape Town, at 10h00 on 26 January 2008.

See also Coming Events for more dates.

Click on these links:

Days of mongrel donkeys, Barry Sergeant, Moneyweb (680 words)

Eskom’s ‘load shedding’ crisis, COSATU Media Release (352 words)

Truth is always the first casualty, Brendan Seery, Saturday Star (2029 words)

Pity the Brahmins, ‘Reverse Discrimination’ in India, P Sainath, Cpunch (1598 words)

Gaza protest, 10h00, Adderley St, Cape Town, 26 January 2008 (Notice, 475 words)

Coming Events

18 January 2008

ANC Today With Feedback

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ANC President Jacob Zuma has begun to make some good changes. In Friday’s online “ANC Today” (the full article is linked below) he writes:

“Over the next few weeks and months, readers should expect to see a number of changes in ANC Today, all intended to improve the relevance, vibrancy and impact of this weekly read.

“The Letter from the President will now be published on special occasions only, dealing with important themes and events during the course of the year. The intention is to open up the journal to a diversity of voices, articulating ANC positions. In this regard, there will be weekly contributions from ANC Officials and NEC members.

“As we introduce these changes, we will continue to encourage and value the feedback we receive from readers, better to ensure that the voice of the ANC is heard.

“ANC Today will be an authoritative online voice of the African National Congress and a platform for the accurate expression of the policies and views of our movement. We trust that the diversity of contributors will encourage more debate, and promote better understanding of the movement and its programmes and activities.”

The Communist University is excited by the value here placed on feedback. We hope that “ANC Today” will now go all the way and institute a “Comments” facility under each article. This will be of great value and it will take the wind right out of the sails of the Mail and Guardian, with its pretentious, trumped-up white-male-dominated and anti-communist “Thought Leader” blog-kennel.

The next item below is also from Friday’s “ANC Today”. It is a summary of the resolutions around the prioritisation of creation of decent jobs for people in South Africa. We still await the full texts of the resolution. “ANC Today” says they will be out in a week from now.

Meanwhile ANC Youth League President Fikile Mbalula takes our arguments right into the pages of the bourgeois press, as we must always try to do, with an article in Friday’s Star, linked below. Cde Mbalula was elected to the ANC NEC at Polokwane.

The CU has been hard hit by power blackouts, even to the extent of being crippled from continuing the critique of Eskom started on Thursday and which then appeared big time in the mainstream media (MSM) on Friday. But the YCLSA Discussion Forum has taken the baton and produced several extraordinary threads on this topic, more well-informed and more passionate than anything you will find in the bourgeois MSM. Anyone can read the discussions by going to
http://groups.google.com/group/yclsa-eom-forum. If you want to take part in the discussions yourself, you are welcome to join the group.

Click on these links:

The voice of the ANC must be heard, Jacob Zuma, ANC Today (1554 words)

Creating decent work opportunities, Polokwane Resolutions II (1222 words)

There is one ANC and it belongs to all, Fikile Mbalula, The Star (918 words)

Coming Events

17 January 2008

No More Power Cuts! Potlines, Out!

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The first Umsebenzi Online of the year is out. The Red Alert lead article, as usual by SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande, is linked below, and can be downloaded as an MS-Word file formatted for printing as a four-page study text. The Communist University is going to exploit the Red Alerts this year more than before. There is a new distribution group for Umsebenzi Online which now has more than 1100 members.

The CU itself has passed the psychologically-important 1500 members mark. Why is it psychologically important? For the same reason as the gold price hitting $900 per ounce, i.e. no reason. That’s psychology!

ANC Treasurer-General Mathews Phosa is a calm leader. His article in yesterday’s Star is timely and will assist. See the link below.

Donwald Pressly’s article from the Business Report, about SACP Deputy GS Jeremy Cronin and interest rates, shows clearly that the bourgeoisie is not fixated on the use of interest rates as a way of attacking inflation. That idea is the kind of idea that used to be called “voodoo economics”. The rate hikes themselves are inflationary. The causes of inflation, which are external, cannot be touched by internal measures. There is a good basis for a successful unity-in-action against this non sequitur “inflation targeting”. See the link below.

The bourgeoisie is not always completely lacking in common sense. Matthew Lester of the Sunday Times Business section has some sensible things to say about the unnecessary case against ANC President Jacob Zuma, and as a tax expert he knows what he is talking about.

The next item, from the London Times, gives an account of coup-plotting by British Intelligence in Italy, some time ago (1976). The article itself has every appearance of being an intelligence job, in which case it is not really about the past, but more about the present. It is a signal that these spooks are still on the job, and still doing their dirty trade. The remedy against such plotters is more and better popular intelligence, in both senses of the word. Political education the antidote to spookery. See the linked article below.

In the last linked item before "Coming Events, a comrade, Roger Roman, has sent an article to the CU that makes the point that the land question will not be solved by agrarian reform. Read the article to see what he means.

And now for our "cover story".


The aluminium "potlines" (see images) on the East Coast, from Mozambique to Coega, are sucking the power out of our country. Aluminium metal is separated from its oxidate by raw electricity, applied day and night, in long lines of “pots”. Each of these big potline arrays, installed since 1994, takes power equivalent to a whole city the size of Johannesburg.

The potlines are never turned off, but Eskom will turn your power off without warning. The potlines are getting power for next to nothing and they pay no increases, whereas you pay much more in the first place and then you are going to have an increase of 14%, and then another, and then another.
There are hardly any jobs in the sheds where the "potlines" are. The aluminium ore does not come from here. It is brought by ship. The aluminium metal produced does not belong to us, nor is it used by us. It is shipped out by Rio Tinto and other multinationals for sale elsewhere, and for their benefit, not ours.
The only reason the potlines are here is because, at the same time as Eskom was not building power stations, it was treacherously selling off our power at secret give-away prices to global multinationals, under Ministers of Energy such as Penuell Maduna and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. The reason for the secrecy is that if and when people realise that their power cuts are caused by these foreign potlines, they will toyi-toyi to have the potlines switched off and shipped out of the country.That is what should happen, and the sooner the better. Turn off the potlines! Turn them off now! Give priority to people, not potlines! No potlines unless there is power to spare for them! No more power cuts!

Click on these links:

Red Alert, Class, ideological and mass struggles post-Polokwane, Blade Nzimande (2170 words)

It is time for decisive leadership, Mathews Phosa, The Star (743 words)

Massage rates, says Cronin, Donwald Pressly, Business Report (571 words)

Bigger fish to fry than messy Zuma finances, Lester, Sunday Times (588 words)

Britain plotted overthrow of Italian Communists, Times, London (871 words)

Paradigms of land reform in SA, Roger Roman, Land for Peace (3282 words)

Coming Events

16 January 2008

Media Failure

0 comments
When the organs of the mass media of communication such as the Sunday Times, the Mail and Guardian, and the SABC, use up all their best space running sectarian, anti-democratic campaigns, then at the same time they are failing to inform the general public of serious things that the public needs to know about. And that may also be part of their deliberate purpose.

All of the documents presented here today are of lasting importance. All of them originate from one part or another of the social democracy (small s, small d) of South Africa. They are the products, not of feverish editorial meetings, but of mass democratic structures built and maintained carefully over many years of struggle, and in the first place under harsh conditions of oppression and personal risk.

The latter-day knights of the bourgeois mass media like to put on the clothes of the defenders of righteousness, but their own daily practice, and especially their lack of respect for the mass organs of democracy in the country, betray them and mark them out, all too often, not as champions of truth, but as mealy-mouthed, dishonest, confidence tricksters with hidden agendas.

The Communist University brings you the full text of the first meeting of the newly-elected ANC National Working Committee, which includes details, among others, of the appointment by the NWC of chairpersons of sub-committees, and of convenors for deployees in the provinces. These are many in number, and each will very likely be in office for at least five years, so this is a document to keep and refer to in the future. It also deals with several more immediate questions.

The bold South African Communist Party minces no words on the question of the outrageous 40% rise in the price of bread. In doing so it demonstrates its service in the vanguard role, which is as the summariser and generalist of the great movement of movements that we have.

FAWU’s statement, in more detail, shows the great depth of our movement, FAWU being the oldest of COSATU’s affiliates and, at 65 years, much older than COSATU itself. In FAWU’s devastating denunciation of the bread industry in this country we can see how capitalism has latched on to the very means of survival and sustenance of the poorest people, and just like in the time of Karl Marx, as he described in Capital, it has found ways and means of adulterating the bread and frauding the people, as well as gouging them on the price.

Just when did the “crusaders” for free speech in the bourgeois mass media tell us about all this? They did not! It is our own media, in the form of the movement’s own statements, that have told the truth about this. (The logo at the top is
Private Eye’s, representing a crusader with a broken sword, to make the same point about the false pretensions of the capitalist mass media. Sorry about the size and image quality.) See also COSATU's linked condemnation of racist murder in rural Swartruggens, just north of Ventersdorp, heartland of the old AWB.

The last linked document below is a shortened version of the ANC January 8th Statement for 2008, “The Year of Mass Mobilisation to Build a Caring Society”. At four pages, it is about one-third of the length of the full statement (
which continues to be available, here). Since the SABC messed up the sound broadcast of this statement, and since the bourgeois print media are on a sectarian campaign of disinformation about it, it is necessary that we have means of propagating its message to the widest possible number of people. Click here to download this CU-prepared short version as an MS-Word document formatted ready for printing as a 4-page folding flyer.

In today’s simple assembly of documents directly produced by separate parts of our social democracy, the CU does as much as, or more than, the combined efforts of the bourgeois mass-media circus. There is no magic to it. Or rather, if there is magic, then it is in the constant struggle of millions of people to raise up these great instruments of democracy that we have, like the ANC, SACP, COSATU and FAWU.

Click on these links:

Statement of the ANC National Working Committee, Media Release (557 words)

Land, Bread, Work, SACP Media Release (503 words)

Rising bread prices immoral following bread price fixing, FAWU (527 words)

COSATU condemns racist murder, Media Release (170 words)

Mass Mobilisation, Caring Society, ANC 2008 Statement, Abridged (4 pages)

Coming Events