31 March 2007

Get It Straight

SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande’s speech yesterday to the North-West Provincial SACP Congress – linked below – is a good and extensive round-up for the times.

It covers criticism and self-criticism; the Party’s clear existing strategic perspective; the Medium Term Vision (MTV) in terms of the state, the economy, the workplace, the community and of ideological struggles; the so-called question of State Power; the general tasks of the Party, and the so-called succession struggle in the ANC. Concerning the latter Cde Nzimande said, among other things:

“SACP cadres who are also ANC members have a full right to go to the ANC National Conference, as ANC delegates, to argue and vote for whatever individual or collective they wish to vote for. This has nothing to do with the SACP.”

The speech is intense, detailed, concrete, necessary and timely. All the more so bearing in mind the fiasco surrounding the Gauteng SACP Congress and the new
Gauteng PEC’s statement issued on Thursday, then roundly contradicted by the YCL on Friday.

Communist University has to be pleased that the SACP GS has stressed the importance of political education in the following terms:

“It is also important that we ensure that the SACP becomes the focal point for Marxist-Leninist education. Every branch must at least have a fortnightly political class and debate and that we organize these systematically and on a continuous basis. It also means that communists actively participate in the COSATU socialist forums.”

We may find ourselves to be more optimistic than the GS when he says: “We do not have control over the media and other critical platforms of communication”. Perhaps the CU is kidding itself, but it does seem from here that it is possible to have some degree of control over some mass media of communication. What is more, as Communists we have “content” that is extraordinarily powerful and second to none in every way.

Yet we would have to agree that it is not at all clear whether the bourgeois media are currently aware of what is at stake between the Party and those whom Cde Nzimande refers to as “the hired hands of the 1996 class project within our own ranks”. The treatment in those media of the debates leading up to SACP 12th National Congress has so far been as trivial as the “hired hands” would prefer them to be. Let us deepen and sharpen this debate!

Violet Seboni is First Deputy President of the clothing and textile workers’ union, SACTWU and also the Second Deputy President of COSATU. In a speech to the National Bargaining Conference of the chemical, energy, paper, printing, wood and allied workers’ union, CEPPWAWU, Cde Seboni sticks to the point and lays it down powerfully, clearly and simply. See the linked document below.

It is a cause of enormous distress that the Imperialists can take over cultural things and pervert them to the opposite of their true meaning. So far beneath contempt are such atrocities that is difficult to criticise them. The vomit rises in the throat and chokes the words. Therefore it is with gratitude that we are able to reproduce a measured but resounding criticism of the film “300” by Gary Leupp from Counterpunch.

This film stands everything on its head that it can get within its scaly grasp. It even taints the story of Esther, the origin of the Jewish festival of Purim. It substitutes the vicious Spartans for the Athenian founders of the intellectual (as opposed to the martial) part of the Ancient Greek culture. It renders the Persians, who are the modern Iranians and who are by any standards “white” people, as black, the better to demonise them and to prepare war-hysteria against them. These things are repellant to recall, especially knowing that the distribution of this film “300” has been expedited so that it is already showing in South Africa. How disgusting! Why should South Africa be importing and showing US fascist war-propaganda? It should be stopped! Please, at least, read Gary Leupp’s good article, linked below.

The image above is of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically-elected prime minister of Iran/Persia, overthrown by an Anglo-American plot in 1953 and replaced by the monstrous bloody dictator “Shah”. The US Imperialists now want to do it all again!

Click on these links:

SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande, build the Party, address to N-W Congress (5277 words)

COSATU 2DP Violet Seboni to CEPPWAWU Bargaining Conference (1430 words)

300 is a racist and insulting film, Gary Leupp, Counterpunch (2067 words)

Entryist Debacle

The YCL response (see the link below) to the SACP Gauteng PEC statement sent out yesterday is unequivocal. The new Gauteng PEC misrepresented the proceedings of last weekend’s Provincial Congress in their very first statement, and not in minor ways but in substantial and dangerous ways.

There were many delegates and guests at the Congress. The YCL’s official repudiation of the Gauteng PEC statement simply confirms what many witnesses have already said. The YCL statement is the opposite of the kind of thing the Gauteng PEC refers to as “an emerging popular view”. This tell-tale phrase of the new PEC is very obviously a spurious substitute for the democracy that Congress is supposed to provide and exemplify.

It is the prerogative of Congress to resolve and to decide. Congress is not meant to be second-guessed, in a loose or speculative way, by those elected to serve it and to execute its commands.

Unlike the PEC’s imaginative musings, the YCL’s repudiation is firm and direct. In addition, the YCL undertakes to be the guardian and saviour of the true record of the 9th SACP Gauteng Provincial Congress. There lies the thing at this stage.

If the Gauteng PEC chooses to respond to the YCL, then we must also hope that they will release the full list of names of the elected additional members. They should also explain all the internal contradictions and anomalies in the text of their statement of last Thursday, and not just the ones that the YCL has pointed out.

The Johannesburg Central Branch of the SACP is scheduled to meet tomorrow at 10h00 at the SATAWU offices, 13th floor, Old Mutual Building, 29 Kerk Street, between Loveday and Harrison Streets. The newly-elected Provincial Secretary, Zico Tamela and possibly some of the new additional members of the PEC are members of the branch and should be present at the BGM to give their own report of the debacle.

On Friday the Business Day suddenly came up with a good edition after a long spell of dullness. Among other things it reported concisely on the press conference that followed the two-day bilateral meeting between the SACP and COSATU. See the link.

The next link, also from Friday’s Business Day, is a brilliant concretisation by Anthony Butler of the voluminous ANC discussion document on Organisational Renewal.

Butler is saying that the technocrats and stooges, the sweetheart committees of capitalists, and all the other networks built up around the presidency in the years of the 1996 class project, will decamp in 2009 and migrate to the ANC office. To secure this life-after-death they will this year support many of the reforms that have been hitherto agitated for in opposition to their own presidential Zanufication of the state.

They will then boldly co-opt the new, improved ANC and take possession of it as their home. In the process they will naturally deprive the successor President of the advantages that the old one arranged for himself in the form of the President’s Office (which was formerly the Vice-President’s office under the Mandela presidency). They will confront the successor President with a dominant ANC - an ANC that is now in their own hands. Butler’s exposé is Machiavellian, but persuasive.

President Fidel Castro Ruz is writing again. It is something he did not do for a long time during his illness. We are joyful but we restrain our joy because we are still worried for this man whom we love so dearly. See the linked article below.

Finally, and again from yesterday’s bumper Business Day, Adam Habib explains rather well why the fight to maintain the rules of the United Nations is a fight for democracy. Cases like Burma and Zimbabwe should not be referred to the Security Council, which is the UN’s war-making body. Instead, these cases should go to the newly reconstituted Human Rights Council (which is, by the way, another site of struggle for democracy). Ad hoc behaviour is not in the interests of those who need the protection of rules. Ad hoc behaviour leaves all the advantages with the Imperialists. See the linked article. (The picture above is of Niccolò Machiavelli, author of The Prince).

Click on these links:

YCL response to the SACP Gauteng PEC statement (536 words)

SACP, COSATU warn on ANC alliance, Brown, Musgrave, B Day (518 words)

A new power behind the throne, Anthony Butler, Business Day (1057 words)
More than 3 million condemned, Fidel Castro Ruz, Granma (1433 words)

Another side to SA conduct at UN, Adam Habib, Business Day (951 words)

30 March 2007

Long Winter

“It is going to be a long winter”, according to COSATU GS Zwelinzima Vavi, as reported in today’s Business Day. He was speaking at yesterday’s press conference following the two-day bilateral meeting between COSATU and the SACP. See the linked report of the statement issued from the bilateral. This document should be studied well by those who do not yet understand the relationship between the two principal working class formations in South Africa.

Meanwhile COSATU has fully backed the FAWU members on strike at Blue Ribbon Bakeries. “COSATU is backing FAWU’s call for a consumer boycott on all Premier products, such as Iwisa and Impala maize meal, Invicta samp, the Snowflake flour range and particularly Blue Ribbon bread. We have called upon members of all affiliates and the South African public to support this consumer boycott until a satisfactory settlement is reached.” says their statement (see link below).

The SACP Gauteng Province held a Congress last weekend. The document linked below is the press release issued yesterday by the incoming PEC. No doubt its meaning will become clearer as time goes by. The document lists the new office bearers but not the additional members of the PEC. See the link below.

The British ruling class, whose leading figures are collectively known as “The Establishment” in that country, are in the habit of shamelessly and demagogically co-opting everything that moves, whenever it serves their purpose. At the moment they are in the middle of a hypocritical orgy of self-congratulation over the ending of the slave trade, of which they had been the main instigators and the masters for more than two centuries.

The industrial scale of this extended, monstrous atrocity, the complicity of the entire British state, and the fact that the present-day relative prosperity of Britain and poverty of Africa are the continuing legacy of that time, make the current polite British ceremonies repugnant.

See the linked article below for what happened the other day in Westminster Abbey, and why.

It was not possible to attach the flyer for the Communist University on April 4th, as was anticipated yesterday. Hence the link below which leads to a file download of the flyer. Please print some and distribute them or pin them on notice boards, if you can.

The image above is a portrait of Dominique Toussaint "LOuverture", the "opener" or "gateway" to the liberation of the Atlantic slaves.

Click on these links:

Statement on SACP-COSATU bilateral, Joint Media Release (1628 words)

COSATU backs Blue Ribbon strikers (261 words)

SACP Gauteng post-Congress press statement (1284 words)

Incident at Westminster Abbey, Michael Dickinson, Counterpunch (1671 words)

CU Flyer for 4 April 2007 (File download)

29 March 2007

Ulimu ni Uhuru

Next week Wednesday will be April 4th – the second day of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions stayaway. It is also the day of our next scheduled Communist University get-together in COSATU House (3rd floor, SACP boardroom), 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein, time 17h00.

We will be discussing the tremendous original 1969 ANC Strategy and Tactics (see below), passed by the ANC Conference held in Morogoro, Tanzania. It compares to the
latest draft version as a giant mighty bull would compare to a small stuffed Teddy-bear.

This is a vital discussion to have. To increase the attendance, the CU this week provides you with an attached master flyer for 4 April for printing and distribution at your workplace, Party structure or mass organisation. Please help increase attendance at the CU live sessions. The full year’s programme is linked below.

Some new CU subscribers may not know that since most of the CU subscribers receive the
COSATU Daily Labour News, which includes the COSATU Weekly, the CU has carried less of the direct press releases of individual unions, of which there are many. For example, yesterday there were three. One was from SAMWU, having to do with the Metro bus strike in Johannesburg. One was from the NUM, concerning their dispute with Murray and Roberts Cementation, and one was from SAFPU, about the strike of the F.C. AK football players.

Do go to
http://groups.google.com/group/COSATU-Daily-News if you are not yet subscribed to COSATU Daily Labour News, and follow the instructions to “join this group”. (If you should be asked by Google to “open an account”, please do so. It does not cost you anything but it opens a lot of doors.

This morning there will be two SACP-related press conferences. The first, at 09h00 at 7th floor, North State Building, corner Market and Kruis, Johannesburg, is to announce the results of the Gauteng SACP Provincial Congress held at the weekend.

The second press conference will be at 11h00 at COSATU House, and will present the Declaration of the bilateral meeting between the SACP and COSATU held during the last two days.

Do also please subscribe to Zim Fight On Don’t Mourn, the lively and diverse source of material and different points of view on Zimbabwe. Go to
http://groups.google.com/group/zimbabwe-fight-on-dont-mourn. There is too much material on that site to reproduce here.

Concerning groups, if you are afraid of having more individual e-mails than you can cope with, don’t forget that you can click on “Edit my membership” at the group web site and select lighter options, such as a single weekly digest, or messages in batches.

Craig Murray is a former British diplomat who was sacked for blowing the whistle on dirty Imperialist tricks in Uzbekistan, where he was stationed. Concerning the British military captured by Iran Murray has written on his blog as follows: “The Iran/Iraq maritime boundary shown on the British government map does not exist… Only Iraq and Iran can agree their bilateral boundary, and they never have done this in the Gulf, only inside the Shatt because there it is the land border too. This published boundary is a fake with no legal force.” (relayed by
Just World News).

The picture above is of the late President of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. SADC leaders are meeting today in Dar-es-Salaam, by the way.

Click on these links:

ANC Strategy and Tactics, Morogoro, 1969 (5881 words)

2007 Study Group Draft Programme

28 March 2007

Red Harvest

COSATU and the SACP are holding a two-day bilateral meeting that will conclude today and be followed by a Press Conference tomorrow at 11h00 in COSATU House (10th floor), 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein.

The agenda of the bilateral is as follows:

1. Building the alliance.

2. Building the SACP as a vanguard movement
3. Draft Strategy and Tactics of the ANC, areas of interest, its strengths and weaknesses and a joint critique.
4. Challenges facing the Federation, building a strong and vibrant COSATU.

The meeting opened with speeches from the General Secretaries of the two organisations. See below for the input of COSATU GS Zwelinzima Vavi.

SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande has made several significant speeches in recent days for example in Cape Town and Limpopo at the weekend, and yesterday in Johannesburg. Unfortunately the Communist University has not received the text of these speeches.

The Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) is a COSATU affiliate with members currently on strike in a dispute with Blue Ribbon bakeries, a subsidiary of Premier Foods, where the union is demanding normal collective bargaining rights (see link below).

FAWU is calling for a consumer boycott of Iwisa and Impala maize meal, Invicta samp, Snowflake flour range and particularly Blue Ribbon bread. This is not a hardship, comrades. There are plenty of alternatives. Let’s make this one stick for FAWU!

The SACP Western Cape 5th Provincial Congress took place at the weekend in Cape Town. See the link below for the political declaration of the Congress and the announcement of the new office bearers and executive committee (PEC).

The SACP Gauteng Province also held a Congress at the weekend and has announced a Press Conference for tomorrow at 10h00 in the North State Building (7th floor), corner Market and Kruis Streets, Johannesburg. Clearly, this clashes with the press conference in COSATU House at 11h00 (see above). Well-resourced media houses can no doubt send reporters to both places; others will have to decide for themselves which one to attend.

Counterpunch continues to come up with instructive material. The first of two items below shows quite clearly how the monopoly capitalists such as BP can position themselves to be the main beneficiaries of all the “green” agitation (that has been typically carried out on a naïve and shallowly “anti-capitalist” basis). This will not be a surprise to communists. “Greens” will feel outraged and betrayed, but what can they do? Their work of many years is being shamelessly expropriated by the Imperial corporates, and they have neither the theory nor the organisation with which to defend themselves.

In the last article linked below, also from Counterpunch, Patrick Bond correctly foregrounds the role of organised labour in the changing situation in Zimbabwe. Many other documents on the fast-moving Zimbabwe situation can be found at
http://groups.google.com/group/zimbabwe-fight-on-dont-mourn; and today there is to be a special SADC meeting in Dar-es-Salaam.

Fidentia was put under permanent curatorship by a court yesterday following the second report from the (previously temporary) curators. Danisa Baloyi announced that she is resigning “from all boards and positions that I hold in public and private organizations, until all matters have been resolved.”

Click on these links:

COSATU GS Zwelinzima Vavi input, COSATU-SACP bilateral (4762 words)

FAWU appeal for consumer boycott (2110 words)

SACP West Cape Provincial Congress Declaration and new PEC (1242 words)

27 March 2007

Running On The Spot?

Last Wednesday was a holiday (Sharpeville Day) so we missed our usual Communist University gathering. We come back together tomorrow at 17h00 at 3rd floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein to discuss the 1962 SACP “Road to South African Freedom” (see the link below)

It is possible to make out a clear list of texts from the 1920s, approximately one per decade, and to demonstrate that the argument built up through these texts has determined South Africa’s history. It is also reasonable to assert that the path taken by this history has always been in the balance and has been argued as such over and over again. The argument is particularly sharp in 2007. It is not a different one, it is the same one, and we stand once again, as it were, in the shoes of Sydney Bunting, Moses Kotane, Yusuf Dadoo, Rusty Bernstein, Joe Slovo, Jabulani Nxumalo, and Chris Hani (you can add your own favourites – they were all engaged in the same project).

This list could start with the Comintern’s “
Black Republic Resolution” of 1928. Next would be Moses Kotane’s “Cradock Letter” of 1934. After that would come the “Three Doctors Pact” of 1947. Then the Freedom Charter of 1955. Then would come tomorrow’s document, which (except for the “African Communist magazine) appears to have been the first major public statement of the SACP after its banning in 1960. This is the “Road to South African Freedom” of 1962.

Subsequent documents in the same series would have to include the ANC “
Strategy and Tactics” of 1969; the “Green Book” of 1979; and Joe Slovo’s “SA Working Class and the NDR” of 1988. Whether there is a document of equivalent weight in this series for the 1990s is arguable. If so it would probably have to be the “Reconstruction and Development Programme” of 1994 – the “RDP” – but remembering also the quick reversal of “GEAR” in 1996, an event we nowadays use to characterise what we call the “1996 Class Project”. The latest in the series would then be the SACP’s 2006 “State Power” discussion document, possibly to be replaced in due course by resolutions of the forthcoming SACP 12th National Congress (12th-15th July, 2007).

Although the Road to SA Freedom is a long document by our usual standards, it should be relatively easy for us to pick up points for discussion that have relevance in terms of this historically developing argument.

The ANC’s latest draft “
Strategy and Tactics” document is undoubtedly an attempt, like “GEAR” to arrest the forward movement of thought that is evident in the other historic documents linked and listed above. In it, the progressive flow of history is frozen into a static picture now called, in a phrase invented for the purpose, the “National Democratic Society”, a virtual “end of history”.

Together with the ANC’s “
Organisational Renewal” document, and eleven Policy Discussion Documents, the ANC already has a total of thirteen documents, adding up to 98,000 words, to consider in its June Policy Conference and its December National Conference. This is before any resolutions from the lower structures and before any reports (e.g. the Secretary-General’s).

It seems clear from reading the published discussion documents that the new “Strategy and Tactics” draft, published a month earlier than the rest, has been issued and used as the ruler and the template for all the others. It is the master document, and this is a pity, because it is such a pale apology compared to the mighty 1969 Strategy and Tactics (which we will discuss in the following session).

In last Friday’s Mail and Guardian, ANC Secretary General Kgalema Motlanthe attempted an outline of the whole process, binding it together with a vision of an ideal branch life within the ANC (see the link below). Yet it is highly questionable whether this year’s conference processes are conducive to healthy branch life. The Randburg Bram Fischer branch that Motlanthe portrays may be an image of perfection at present, but how will it stand up to the task of processing the enormous volume of material that is going to be thrown at it? Can it possibly deliberate and contribute? Or will it just be going through the motions, while toeing the line, and sending an uncritical pot-boiling loyalist to conference? Can this year of conferences really revive the ANC branches, as Cde Motlanthe suggests, or will it turn out otherwise? You be the judge. The picture above is of the late Moses Kotane.

Click on these links:

To complete the revolution, Kgalema Motlathe, Mail and Guardian (1523 words)

1962, SACP, The Road to SA Freedom (18552 words)

26 March 2007

How Things Work

South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) GS Thulas Nxesi has written a short and clear explanation, for City Press readers, of COSATU’s policy of encouraging workers to play a full part in the ANC. See the link below.

ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma gave the YCL’s Chris Hani Memorial lecture on Saturday (see link). Among other things he said “We must really encourage a change of attitude in the areas our young people chose to study. These must be work related.” Does the YCL agree with this statement?

Communist University is aware that the South African revolutionary youth have never been prepared to accept mere vocational training. This was the case at the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College in Morogoro, Tanzania, for example. As far as we know it has always been the case. (The picture is of the late Solomon Mahlangu).

Chris Hani was a student of Latin and of English literature (see his short autobiographical note, linked below). In what sense were these studies “work related”? Education is not the same as job training. Revolutionary education is what
Paulo Freire and Antonio Gramsci wrote about. All true education has revolutionary potential.

Job training to make people more valuable as labour-power commodities should be for the account of the capitalist employers, and not for the general fiscus. Is Cde Zuma merely proposing to “lower the cost of doing business”? That is not our concern. True education is what we demand. Comrade Zuma needs to learn the difference between job training, and education.

Just for the record, a number of events have taken place in the last days which have been played down in the local media. One is the explosion of an arsenal in Maputo, Mozambique, causing more than 90 people to lose their lives and God knows what amount of injury and loss of shelter and life support. Who caused this to happen? Another is the small war that broke out in Kinshasa, DRC, resulting in the former presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba taking refuge in the South African Embassy in that city. What is it all about? Another is the shooting down of a huge cargo aircraft in Mogadishu, Somalia, by opponents of the Ethiopian invaders and the Imperialist puppet “government”. The entire crew of the giant aircraft, eleven souls in all, perished. Once again the Imperialists have started a war they cannot finish. How is to be finished, then?

Another event is the capture of 15 British military in Iranian waters. The British are claiming that they were innocently running an Imperialist maritime road-block in the Shatt-al-Arab! They claim they were outside Iranian waters. But the question of where people are in relation to borders is not a difficult one in these times of global positioning by satellite, not even at sea. The British are undoubtedly guilty.

Finally, Counterpunch is a political site, and so is the CU. The final linked item (on washing hands in hospitals) hardly seems political. Yet it is, and in more ways than one. The political job of convincing the doctors to wash their hands is the first. The doctors sometimes like to tell us that if only the politicians would give the people “clear”, and not “confusing” messages about hygiene, then the people would obey and everything would be all right. But the behaviour of the doctors themselves proves that clear instructions, by themselves, have practically no effect. Politicians could have told them this for nothing. It is an exceptional doctor (like Che Guevara, say) who knows much of politics.

The second way that the article is political is the unfortunate dialectical fact that the most hygienic environments are the ones where the most lethal pathogens thrive most easily. The same is true of political institutions. They can be well set up and healthy, but for these very same reasons can suddenly become hotbeds of counter-revolution, just as hospitals that are set up to cure people can become, in a matter of hours, the source of killer disease.

Click on these links:

COSATU wants its members to join ANC, Thulas Nxesi, City Press (641 words)

YCL Chris Hani Memorial Lecture, ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma (3402 words)

Chris Hani, My Life, 1991 (791 words)

On Washing Hands, Atul Gawande, Counterpunch (2041 words)

25 March 2007

Organisational Renewal, Institutional Hygiene

These Communist University e-mailings are based on material picked up from the print media, other web sites, and e-mailed documents such as press releases; these are archived and linked to the introductory blog and e-mail messages like this one.

The majority of newspaper articles can be found on the Internet. The hard copy will still sell as an artefact in its own right, and as an entry point to the Internet. Some proprietors consequently have no fear that the Internet will do them anything but good. But others have strange, hybrid policies born of insecurity.

The Mail and Guardian has an infuriating policy of holding back its most attractive articles for up to a week. They are perversely convinced that this is better for the paper, whereas it is only going to antagonise the readers. Likewise the City Press and The Citizen. They put up some articles and not others.

As a result, the article “To complete the revolution”, by ANC SG Kgalema Motlanthe in Friday’s Mail and Guardian is not available to us. This is a pity. The fact that the Secretary General had chosen to lead the discussion of the ANC’s conference documents in the public realm was itself a kind of “democratic breakthrough”. But thanks to the Mail and Guardian, the door shuts again. How sad!

What we do have is the unattributed section from Friday’s “ANC Today”, and luckily also today’s front-page City Press article, both about the
Organisational Renewal document. This is a large and important discussion document which will have an impact on the June Policy Conference and on the December 52nd National Conference of the ANC. See the links below.

Speaking of organisational renewal, the same Mail and Guardian reveals that Danisa Baloyi is (or was) a director of no less than 71 companies. The first of these to dismiss her following the collapse of her crooked Fidentia business and the loss to 50,000 widows and orphans of death benefits from their late husbands’ and fathers’ faithful contributions was ABSA Bank. Apart from companies, Baloyi had appointments to prestigious positions. This week she also resigned as Chancellor of the University of Fort Hare. We fully expect to hear of at least 70 further resignations by Baloyi very soon. See the link below.

Counterpunch is a great gatherer of material from diverse sources and places. In the linked article by Roger Burbach there is an account of a close tactical battle following the recent election victory in Ecuador of the new President, Rafael Correa. “Never before has it been so clear that it is the people who make history”, says an open letter by Ecuador’s popular movements. Viva!

There are reports in the papers concerning the Western Cape and Gauteng Provincial Congresses of the SACP, but nothing has as yet come the CU’s way directly. Nor have we heard of the results of this weekend’s Political Bureau meeting. These are matters we look forward to hearing about in the coming week.

The picture above is of the late former General Secretary of the South African Communist Party, Comrade
Chris Hani, who was murdered on April 10th, 1993.

Click on these links:

Introspection, renewal strengthens movement, ANC Today (994 words)

Limit Mbeki hire-fire powers – ANC, Sthembiso Msomi, City Press (455 words)

Dear Danisa, Jocelyn Newmarch and Maya Fisher-French, M and G (841 words)

Victory in Ecuador, 23 March 2007, Roger Burbach, Counterpunch (1242 words)

23 March 2007

ANC Policy Conference

The African National Congress will hold its Policy Conference from 27 June to 1 July 2007. It will hold its 52nd National Conference (elective) from 15 to 20 December 2007.

In advance of these conferences, the ANC has already published a new draft “
Strategy and Tactics” document, previously discussed on the Communist University. To read that discussion, use the search box in the blog at http://domza.blogspot.com/ .

Another major document prepared for these Conferences is the one called “Organisational Review” (see the link below). It is almost a book in length but needs close reading to be sure that the ideas thrown out by the 2005 NGC have not been smuggled back into this draft again.

The rest of the documents can be found for the time being at a page on the ANC web site called
ANC Policy Discussion Documents. It is not clear which ones are for which conference. The page only says:

“The following policy discussion documents are being distributed to ANC structures as part of the preparations for the ANC National Policy Conference in June 2007 and the ANC 52nd National Conference in December 2007.”

The document titles are:

1. Economic Transformation
2. Legislature and Governance
3. Transformation of the judicial system
4. Peace and stability
5. International relations
6. Revolutionary morality: The ANC and business
7. The RDP of the Soul
8. Transformation of the media
9. Challenges facing workers and unions
10. The working class and organised labour
11. Social transformation

We will deal with these gradually over the next week or two.

The picture above is of the late O R Tambo.

Rights and Action

COSATU’s Seminar on Swaziland and Zimbabwe starts this morning at 09h15 in COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg. It is expected that at least one of the two MDC women who arrived in Johannesburg yesterday from Harare for medical treatment will be there. The women are Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai Holland (pictured). They were beaten up following the rally in Highfields, Harare on March 11. Also speaking will be COSATU GS Zwelinzima Vavi and Zimbabwean academic Brian Raftopoulos.

Also today, at 13h00, NUMSA will be picketing the Japanese Embassy, following the sudden and unilateral retrenchment of 410 workers by the Nissan car company. See the link below for details.

Next, as a further contribution to the Great Proletarian Culture Debate initiated by DITSELA in general and by Gino Govender in particular, see the link to Lenin’s brief statement on the occasion of the curtailment of the “Proletkult” organisation, in 1920. There is also a very interesting on-line book on the Proletkult by Lynn Mally, called
Culture of the Future.

The six COSATU public sector unions have declared a deadlock in their negotiations with their employer, the government. The gap is wide on the main pay increase demand, and none of the other terms are agreed, either. The government has dragged its feet on the process with the result that the due date of the deal, April 1st, is almost upon us. There will be a period of conciliation, after which there could be an enormous strike if no agreement is forthcoming. See the statement, linked below.

COSATU’s General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is scheduled to make three major speeches in the next few days. One is today, at the Zimbabwe/Swaziland seminar. Another is on Sunday, at the YCL Chris Hani Commemoration Rally in Limpopo. Then next Thursday, there will be a press conference following the long-awaited bilateral meeting between COSATU and the SACP. See the link for more details.

Also from the YCL, see the Bottom Line, linked below, for their National Secretary Buti Manamela’s Botswana diary, and the YCL’s statement on human rights.

There will be a second
Communist University post today with the first instalment of the ANC’s newly-published discussion documents.

Click on these links:

Numsa pickets Japanese Embassy over Nissan retrenchments (245 words)

On Proletarian Culture, Lenin, 1920 (926 words)

COSATU public service unions bargaining statement (631 words)

COSATU Media Alert - Zwelinzima Vavi speaks (278 words)

YCL, Bottom Line, Botswana Diaries, Human Rights (2936 words)

22 March 2007

If it quacks like a duck, it's a duck

COSATU’s Jobs and Poverty Campaign Questionnaire is for everybody, and not just union members. It is a way to give feedback on the single most critical question of the times – how to put everybody to work in this country. It also carries a very good, short summary of the general situation and recent history of this campaign. Don’t ever say nobody told you about it. Follow the link below to the two-page, 40 KB MS-Word file download, fill in the questionnaire, and e-mail it to the address given on the form.

Barry Sergeant’s Moneyweb summary of the Danisa Baloyi scandal is like the proverbial bikini. What remains concealed is more important than what is revealed. For example, the Baloyi affair is described as being “on the outskirts of the Fidentia meltdown”. Yet even the incomplete rehearsal of the facts given in the article show very clearly that it was Baloyi who was right at the centre, and not, for example, J Arthur Brown, the punk gangster and man of straw who now cannot even manage to raise his bail.

What game is Sergeant playing? Not only does the chronicle he lays down have obvious loose ends (Follow the link below and read the article carefully). But also, there are glaring facts in the foreground of the picture that Sergeant has not yet pursued or followed to their logical conclusion. That conclusion must be that Baloyi is a bigger crook than Brown, by far, and that there are many other crooks in this affair, big and small, who need to be taken in and dealt with in the full rigour of the law, very soon.

Judging by this and other reports in other outlets, journalists, although no longer scared of Brown, are still scared of Baloyi. Or, it may be that the journalists are somewhat complicit, or under instruction. Their bosses may have told them to sell Brown as the fall guy, and not to take too many shots at the bigger game, like Baloyi. But such a plan cannot work. Baloyi is just too obvious.

The ANC National Executive Committee met last week and issued a statement on Saturday. It includes a list of the discussion documents that will be issued prior to the ANC Policy Conference in June. In effect, it is the agenda of that conference. See the link below.

SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande made a speech last week at a FAWU-organised seminar in Johannesburg, which is still making ripples a week later. The reactionaries of the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) are so upset by the speech that they are inventing a fantasy of land invasions led by proletarian infiltrators from the cities, masterminded by the SACP. This was reported in yesterday’s “Citizen”. Unlike The Citizen’s readers, you have the advantage of being able to read the full, original speech just by clicking on the link below. And by the way, it is well worth the small trouble. This is a major, defining speech on the state of, and remedies for, rural South Africa.

Finally, for DITSELA in general and Gino Govender in particular, see the last link for V I Lenin’s “Speech Delivered At An All-Russia Conference Of Political Education Workers Of Gubernia and Uyezd Education Departments” on November 3, 1920. This is a yardstick by which to judge DITSELA’s “
Worker Education and Culture Festival”. If Comrade Gino should still be suffering under the delusion that culture is possible without criticism, then Lenin’s statement that: “Any attempt to avoid taking sides in this issue must end in fiasco” may give him pause. Remaining doubts about the matter may be cleared up tomorrow, when we will run Lenin’s short piece on “Proletkult”. Should that still not do the trick, we would refer the DITSELA comrades to the Communist University’s very full section on Critical Pedagogy, in the sincere hope that they have not forgotten how to read, or why they have to read.

Click on these links:

COSATU Jobs and Poverty Campaign Questionnaire (questionnaire, download)

Baloyi sheds her velvet gloves, Barry Sergeant, Moneyweb (1312 words)

Statement of ANC National Executive Committee, 17 March 2007 (1228 words)

SACP GS B Nzimande to FAWU, building class power in countryside (3081 words)

1920, Lenin, to Political Education Workers Conference (4019 words)

21 March 2007

Zimbabwe and Sharpeville Day

The SACP has pronounced on Zimbabwe at last, and in grand style, in the form of an Umsebenzi Online with a treat of an article by GS Dr Blade Nzimande, plus a Statement, which although rather difficult in its prose, contains good guidelines as you would expect from the vanguard party. The SACP fully supports the solidarity demonstrations in South Africa that will coincide with the Zim stayaway of 3rd and 4th of April, 2007, which are the Tuesday and the Wednesday of Easter Week.

At least seven ZCTU organisers have been arrested while distributing leaflets for the stayaway. Three of them were grabbed in Masvingo, and charged with littering and distributing material that has the potential to cause an uprising (Viva!). They are Tennyson Muchefa from the National Engineering Workers' Union, Douglas Dzimiri from the Zimbabwe Domestic and Allied Workers' Union, and Gilbert Marembo, a ZCTU staff member. The other four were arrested in Bulawayo. We do not have their names yet. See the linked document for the ZCTU’s statements concerning these arrests.

The day-to-day record of last year’s stayaway and the repression that surrounded it are
here, on the Kubatana site. These pages show how courageous the ZCTU is to mount another stayaway, and to promise further action on a three-monthly basis.

Both COSATU and the SACP have issued statements to mark Human Rights Day (Sharpeville Day). See the links below. The ANC issued a major statement on Saturday, following the
National Executive Committee meeting of 15-17 March, which we will look at more fully, tomorrow.

Lastly, in the Johannesburg newspaper The Star, a letter appeared yesterday about Somalia which shows that the truth will always come out and that people are not fooled by US Imperialist propaganda. See the link below.

The YCL’s young ace spin-doctor Castro Ngobese also had a letter published yesterday, in Business Day.
Click here to read it.

Click on these links:

Umsebenzi Online, Vol 6, No. 5, 21 Mar 2007, Zimbabwe (2338 words)

Latest on ZCTU Arrests (348 words)

COSATU statement on Human Rights Day, 21 March 2007 (976 words)

Finance a basic human right, SACP Human Rights Day statement (806 words)

Ethiopian state and Yusuf lack legitimacy, Dirk Spilke, The Star (567 words)

20 March 2007

Zimbabwe Stayaway, 3-4 April 2007

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions general strike of Easter Week 2007 is in support of a set of demands announced in a communiqué on February 24th (see the link below).

The communiqué refers to the demands of 13th September 2006, which are available from the Sokwanele web site. See the second linked item below.

Also referred to is the Kadoma Declaration which is available on the
AllAfrica site. See the link below

What we have not yet found is the text of the Prices and Incomes Stabilization Protocol that the communiqué refers to. But it is clear from the ZCTU statements that this deals with the situation of inflation in Zimbabwe, reported elsewhere as between 1600% and 4000% per annum; and the fact that most wages are below the Zimbabwe Poverty Datum Line (PDL).

Kubatana.net is another good source for Zim documents, such as their archive on last year’s Zim stayaway.

The timing of Friday’s COSATU seminar on Zimbabwe (and Swaziland) is now a bit clearer and more detailed. Prime time will be from about 09h30 to 11h30. See the notice linked below.

Finally, John Woolman, an American Quaker of the 18th Century, understood capitalism very well. Capital is a relation and not a thing. It is “the power which stands in the separation”. See the link.

Don’t forget to
go to this page and fill in the Labourstart petition on Zimbabwe, which automatically goes to a whole lot of Zim government offices when you put ion your name and address and click “send message”.

Tomorrow is Sharpeville Day. There will be some kind of march in Johannesburg from Library Gardens to Constitution Hill, some time after 09h00, in the interest of a list of “human rights” causes including Zimbabwe. What organisation is calling this march, we do not know.

Click on these links:

ZCTU communiqué of February - 24 demands and strike date (456 words)

Archive of ZCTU 13 Sept 2006 demands, Sokwanele (298 words)

Kadoma Declaration, Shame Makoshori, Zimbabwe Independent (580 words)

Programme on Swaziland and Zimbabwe, 23 March 2007 COSATU (notice)

A Plea for the Poor, John Woolman (573 words)

18 March 2007

Zim Atrocities, US Torture

COSATU is mobilising its members for a demonstration in Johannesburg on 3 April, in a massive show of solidarity with the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe, in particular with the general strike called for 3-4 April 2007 by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, and calls upon all South Africans, and Zimbabweans living in South Africa, to join us.”

The picture here is of Wellington Chibebe, General Secretary of the ZCTU.

See the first linked item for the full COSATU announcement and for further details of the outrages that continue to be perpetrated in Zimbabwe.

Mohau Pheko is “wondering whether recent events in Harare are not the makings of an over-productive mastermind trying, through make-believe scenarios, to evoke sympathy and outrage for what may actually be seeds of deception.” She gives an account of the split of the MDC, linked below.

The general movement for democracy in Zimbabwe would look much more solid if the MDC were to come out with a clear endorsement of the stayaway scheduled for Easter Week, next month. Even better would be if all concerned were to start mapping out the equivalent of a Freedom Charter for Zimbabwe. That would allow the movement to look forward together and to shed the baggage of the past.

The black bourgeoisie in South Africa wants talks about the leadership succession in the ANC. All the more reason why the organised working class should be given the same, or better privileges. See the link below.

Finally, Paul Craig Roberts has written another fine article, this time about the victim of US torture, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the collapse of the whole Gitmo-and-rendition circus.

Click on these links:

COSATU condemns latest atrocities in Zimbabwe (387 words)

Peering through layers of Zimbabwe deception, Mohau Phelo, Sunday Times (889 words)

Black business joins succession debate, Siyabulela Qoza, City Press (574 words)

Confession Backfired, Paul Craig Roberts, Counterpunch (860 words)

17 March 2007

South Justice

Labourstart has set up a great page where you can fill in your name and details plus a message (or use a default message). Thanks to Patrick Craven for this link. When you click "Send Message" it sends to nine different Zimbabwe government addresses. It's a pretty good piece of work. Please use it and pass it on. Find it here.

Another good link is the Kubatana site, which is a vast archive on Zimbabwe. In particular, the page called Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign has photos of the events of the last week, including the Highfields rally and the appearance at court of the MDC leaders.

Gift Tandare was killed by police gunfire at Highfields one week ago. Reports have been intermittent and not complete but it seems that the young man’s body was taken away by the police, returned to the family, and now taken again. There was also a police raid and shooting at the funeral house, on Tuesday. The whole thing must be a nightmare for the family. The report is from Violet Gonda on the SW Radio Africa site. SW Radio Africa broadcasts on shortwave and medium wave but from where, it does not say. Possibly it is from London.

COSATU is advertising a whole-day gabfest on the comparison between Zimbabwe and Swaziland next Friday. See the linked item below.

The following week there is an event organised by DITSELA, the interdenominational and ecumenical trade union education NGO, styled “Worker Education and Cultural Festival”. This is a bit more happy-clappy than the practical writing and radio-technique sessions that we had been expecting. There does not appear to be anything in the programme about the Internet or e-mail, either. But it may be some people’s cup of tea. See the link.

Castro Ngobese is an organic intellectual. He is a living festival of political creativity and agitational propaganda. The young spin-doctor of the YCL has now taken on the mighty Sunday Times, the newspaper with the biggest circulation in South Africa. See the fourth link below.

The last linked item has relevance for the Zimbabwean struggle, although it is from Cuba via Cuba’s South African Embassy. It is a brief report with links to two longer documents, mainly concerning the Cuban struggle for an honest treatment of human rights at UN level, and a rejection of the use of “human rights” as an excuse for aggression by the Imperialists against the countries of the South. The picture above is of Fidel Castro, the great Cuban revolutionary, recently ill but getting better.

Click on these links:

CIO seize Tandare body, Violet Gonda, SW Radio Africa (576 words)

Seminar on Swaziland and Zimbabwe, 23 March 2007, COSATU (flyer)

Worker Education, Culture Festival, 26-30 March 2007, Elijah Barayi (form - download)

The barrel of the Sunday Times, Castro Ngobese, Hlomelang (1396 words)

Cuba for South Justice in UN Human Rights Council, Embassy of Cuba (468 words)

16 March 2007

Second Time As Farce

Next week there is a public holiday on Wednesday, so the Communist University will not meet. The next session will be on March 28th, in the SACP boardroom, 3rd floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein, at 17h00. The discussion will be based on the 1962 SACP “Road to South African Freedom” (linked below). This is the first in the set called “State Power”. Overall it has to do with the question of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) and socialism.

It is true that what is commonly called the “State Power Debate” does not in the main deal with the question of the State. We will get closer to that basic and indispensable idea in the next following set, which is called “Bonapartism and Reformism” and finishes with (pictured) Lenin’s “State and Revolution”. See the entire programme, with links to the texts,

We have no new documents on Zimbabwe today. The newspapers are full of it but they are only taking up old postures, like human statues. The announcement that precipitated the present series of actions in Zim is temporarily and willingly forgotten. That was the
February 24th announcement by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) that there is going to be a general strike in Zimbabwe on the 3rd and 4th of April. This announcement is what concentrated the minds of all the other opposition formations to unite in the action at Highfields on Sunday, March 11th, creating the occasion for the police brutalities that have made headlines around the world.

A lot less, indeed practically nothing, is being said in the world’s media outlets about the subsequent
raid on the ZCTU Offices, on Tuesday, March 13th, when among other things the federation’s Financial Administrator, Galileo Chirebvu, was taken away by the Zimbabwe CID. But the strike call still exerts its dominant pull on the Zimbabwean polity. The topic will have to return to the headlines unless the bourgeois media has decided to retreat altogether into fantasy, as it sometimes does.

It is even possible that President Mugabe, Bonapartist that he is, will realize that the working class and not the peasantry holds the key to the future - and change alliances! That would be a “turn-up for the book” as they say in England.

In any case as the strike date approaches all the neo-colonial actors will become uneasy. This is because most of them (both “left” and right) have as little desire as President Mugabe currently has to see a rise in the power of the working class in Zimbabwe. Many of the voices raised in solidarity today disguise dreams of a new boom in NGO activity in Zim, with all the accessories such as 4x4s and game parks, but above all with unchallenged moral superiority. The working class is the fly in their ointment.

We’ve seen it all before. But it may not turn out like that. What neo-colonialism can look like in 2007 is shown by the second linked item, on Kenya and Somalia. This is the neo-con style of neo-colonialism. It involves “extraordinary renditions”, a military command over the entire continent (“Africom”), a “Secretary of State For Africa” (Jendayi Fraser) in Washington (or flying around), and no doubt a lot more as well. It may even be that the current instability of the Internet, and especially e-mail transmission, may have to do with the installation of new US surveillance systems. If so, let’s hope they get their work done quickly and get it properly stabilised, so that we can all go about our business without unnecessary and unexplainable delays.

US politics is thin gruel compared to what we are used to. It is deeply boring to have to spend time reading about the machinations of evangelical Christians in the USA and the shallow personalities who inhabit the venal purlieus of the Washington “Beltway”, and the even more banal state capitals and backwoods of the Anglo-Saxon colony in America. In case we may need to get used to it, the last linked item gives a slight introduction to the way “Africa” is dealt with in the USA.

Click on these links:

1962, SACP, The Road to SA Freedom (18552 words)

Kenya defends secret transfers of prisoners, S Bengali, McClatchy (687 words)

Neocons, Evangelicals and Africa, Con Hallinan, Counterpunch (1329 words)

15 March 2007

Blade the leadership

Cde Jesus Raphael Mora Gonzalez is from the Cuban YCL. He will be opening a public discussion at SS1 Umthombo Building at Wits University today at 16h00. For more details follow the link below. It leads to a downloadable MS-Word file, as well as to the bare text of the flyer.

Yesterday saw the opening of the National HIV/AIDS Consultative Conference. See the link below for the speech of COSATU GS Zwelinzima Vavi at this (billed-as) watershed event.

The ANC issued a careful statement on Zimbabwe yesterday, three days after what they choose to call the “alleged assault" on Zimbabwean leaders, which left Morgan Tsvangirai, for example, in hospital (see picture).

The ANC Women’s League has felt itself obliged to respond to what it calls “attacks” (not “alleged” on this occasion) on its President, who is minister of Home Affairs Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, by the YCL.

The YCL has made a spirited response and insists that it was right about the problems at Home Affairs, and that the minister herself has since acknowledged this. As the YCL has pointed out, at least half of the victims of the mess at Home Affairs must be women.

The YCL accuses the ANC Women’s League of trying to create a “gender cult”. This is a discussion worth having. The ANCWL and other formations have taken a turn away from organising and towards gender mysticism, typified by the undemocratic so-called Progressive Women’s Movement. It is high time the trend towards uniformed leader-worshiping gender cults was challenged and halted in South Africa..

Click on these links:

Cde Jesus Raphael Mora Gonzalez, Cuban YCL at Wits 15 March 16h00 (flyer)

COSATU GS Vavi, for Civil Society, at HIV-AIDS Conf 14 March 2007 (1204 words)

ANC statement on current situation in Zimbabwe (208 words)

Attacks on Minister of Home Affairs and President of ANC WL (335 words)

YCL on Home Affairs Minister, response to ANC WL statement (608 words)