29 January 2008

Democracy or Underdevelopment

[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)

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