27 August 2009

Umsebenzi Online

[CU for Friday 28 August 2009]

[Picture: 800-metre Gold Medallist Caster Semenya arriving at O R Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg]

Umsebenzi Online is the South African Communist Party’s twice-monthly e-mail newsletter. The Umsebenzi Online archive is on the SACP web site. You can subscribe to it (free) from the Umsebenzi Online distribution-group web site, or by using the Umsebenzi Online promotion box near the top of the right-hand column on the Communist University blog.

You can use the same promotion box, or this one, (or else the one on any page of the SACP web site towards the bottom of the left-hand panel there), to invite anybody to be on the Umsebenzi Online list. Just put an e-mail address in the box and click “Subscribe”. An e-mail will go to that address, inviting the person to click to confirm that the she or he wants to subscribe. It’s quick and convenient.

Umsebenzi Online usually carries an article by the SACP General Secretary, Dr Blade Nzimande.

Today’s is the last of our ten-part “No Woman, No Revolution” set. To complete the picture of the women’s movement that the CU has tried to provide, the linked document today consists of four articles taken from Umsebenzi Online from the beginning of 2006 to the present. Umsebenzi Online is the SACP’s authentic voice.

2006 was the year when the CU did its first “No Woman, No Revolution” series, from February to May, meeting at the Women’s Jail, Constitution Hill. 2006 was also the year which, in August, saw the launch of the “Progressive Woman’s Movement”, something different and opposite in character from what the Communist University had imagined.

The Communist University is not a constitutional structure of the SACP. It supports the SACP, the ANC, and COSATU. But for pedagogical reasons, if for no other, it must be allowed to speculate, without any prejudice to those organisations.

So here are some speculative theses on the question of women in South Africa:

  • Women, as such, have no interests that are antagonistic to those of men, but women have a common and particular felt experience among themselves, as women, of the oppression that capitalism has brought to their lives.
  • Therefore there is a basis for women to organise as a mass, by which is meant a small or large number of people who feel a common disadvantage in society, and who in consequence organise themselves together for their collective good.
  • Women’s mass organisations have the same requirement as trade union and political-vanguard organisations, to be both democratic and centralist. Therefore women’s organisations should have individual membership, branches, a national congress, corporate personality, and a constitution to ensure democracy.
  • The SACP, as a vanguard political organisation of the working class, is designed to relate to such mass organisations, just as it relates to trade union organisations, and others.
  • As a matter of historical fact, the ANC, through the ANCWL, has on four successive occasions since its founding in 1948, acted to ensure that the above kind of democratic, mass, individual-membership general-purpose women’s movement could not flourish. The ANCWL, under pressure from the ANC, blighted FEDSAW, the UDF women’s structures, and the Women’s National Coalition, and it now blights the Progressive Women’s Movement.
  • The ANC adopted “non-sexism” in the 1980s, and the current South African Constitution is non-sexist, but in practice these provisions mean little as compared to the non-existence of a mass women’s movement that has membership and democracy, and which is politically aligned to the working class and to the cause of socialism.
  • Very little of the above is discussed in the general public realm. What discussion there may be is often based on unexamined vulgar bourgeois-feminist, eclectic, post-modernist precepts. The situation is, on the face of it, much the same as it was four years ago in mid-2005, when the Communist University began to plan its first “No Woman, No Revolution” series.
  • Yet two very great gains have been made. The one was the election, in December 2007 at Polokwane, of an ANC National Executive Committee of 84 members of which 50% are women. The other is this month’s announcement by the SACP GS that the YCLSA has a membership that is more than 50% female.

Click on this link:

Umsebenzi Online on Women, 2006-2009 (6340 words)


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