29 February 2008

The Central and the Concrete

Here, linked below, is the full COSATU CEC report, issued to the media yesterday.

Second item is a report from
Politicsweb about Public Enterprise Minister Alec Erwin’s performance in Parliament.

Third item is an interview from the US publication
Counterpunch, about conspiracy theory, and how it can be a barrier to organisation.

The SACP holds its Central Committee meeting from today.

The SACP Johannesburg Central branch holds its General Meeting (
BGM) at 10h00 on Sunday, at SATAWU offices, 13th floor, 29 Kerk Street (between Harrison and Loveday Streets), Johannesburg.

James Tweedie of the Morning Star, London’s communist daily newspaper, has counted the
Communist University’s editions (including the ones prior to the introduction of the CU Google Group towards the end of 2005) as being in excess of 975.

That means that if we continue at the present pace we will pass the 1000-edition mark some time next month, March 2008. The e-mail circulation should by then be well over 1600 according to the membership of our two Google groups (one being the
“with-attachments” group).

At some point in June 2008 we will celebrate a total of five years of the CU’s existence as a study circle.

What has been its effect? There is no measure of that.

If there could be a measure, we would like it to count the number individuals the CU has brought into the Communist Party, whether in South Africa or elsewhere.

Then we would like to measure the number of plain communist party members who have become actual communists because of CU study circles, whether in Johannesburg or elsewhere.

Party members are not automatically communists. They become communists, if at all, after they join the party, and then they have to be maintained as such, and all of this through collective study.

Finally we would like to know, from out of the communists we have helped to make, how many of them have found themselves educating, organising and mobilising the masses of this and other countries.

The task of the communists is not just to be but also to do, and what they do as communists is to educate, organise and mobilise the masses for the masses' own interest.

The pictures are of black women workers in the USA, from the time of the 1914-1918 World War, taken from the on-line book “
Rosie’s Mom”.

Click on these links:

COSATU Central Executive Committee, 25-27 February 2008 (4823 words)

Erwin keeps South Africa in the dark, James Myburgh, Politicsweb (892 words)

Conspiracy Theory and Fears of Betrayal, Counterpunch (3099 words)

Coming Events

28 February 2008

Losing The Plot

“I continue to see allegations that the Scorpions is full of Apartheid era security operatives and yet strangely have never ever seen an actual name of one mentioned, despite the fact that such a revelation backed by evidence would be most welcome in the media. In fact you don't even have to go to the media simply list the names here. A simple list will suffice describing who each Scorpions member is and which Apartheid era security apparatus he/she worked for.”

The above is an anonymous denialist’s comment in response to yesterday’s
Communist University blog, headed Truth Will Out. The first linked item below carries the long version of Sapa’s report, which begins: “Former journalist Ivor Powell outed as author of report”. Others named in the report include Scorpions head Leonard McCarthy, who protected Powell and who defied direct instructions, and DSO Western Cape boss Adrian Mopp who ran an illegal inquiry based on the fabricated report.

The report says that the Scorpions used people who “mostly worked in pre-1994 covert intelligence structures or were ‘apartheid officers’. They were involved in disinformation campaigns and had links with foreign intelligence agencies in the UK, France, Germany and the USA.”

The way that this report has been handled by the bourgeois press is a good indication of how little they can be trusted. All the ones that we have seen have shortened and downplayed the story and even tried to paint the scoundrely Scorpions as victims who were duped by “peddlers”. How newspaper journalists can buy such tosh is beyond belief. They are pushing a grossly false distinction. Of course, the Scorpions were the peddlers and the peddlers were the Scorpions. The whole lot must be swept up, together and dealt with in a way that stolps their nonsense forever. Picture: bottled Scorpions.

We now have every right to expect that even more names will be named in the near future and that charges will be laid. When Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) says: “the Scorpions produced the 'Browse Mole' report illegally and in contravention of their mandate,” then charges have to follow. A body like the JSCI cannot declare something illegal and then not act on it. It cannot mimic the founder NPA head, Bulelani Ngcuka, the man who brought the whole poisonous gang together, and who said that he had a prima facie case but would not charge.

Nor should there be any Scorpion-like dragging out of the process. These cowboys must see the inside of the slammer, pronto! It is no longer enough just to dissolve the verminous brood. The treasonous arachnids must have their day in court, so that they can be properly convicted, without the tiniest hope of appeal, and then they must smell the hoosegow for a long time!

The four yobbos who brought shame upon the Free State University with their vile video prank and their violation of mothers are going to be charged, too. The puny misery that these nasty little perps are going to suffer will be as nothing compared to the damage that they have already done to their families, their other connections, and even to their language. Talk about disgrace!

The value of this story is to document it, and to have it ready for all the times in the future when the minority from whence it comes may ever again be tempted to pretend to be superior. Other than that, the CU does not intend to reflect too long upon these ignorant hooligans and moral midgets.

Linked below are the basic report, SADTU’s call, a report of the march, and a report of the University’s intention to press charges.

Click on these links:

DSO Browse report illegal – JSCI, Sapa, Politicsweb (906 words)

Varsity workers fed meat with urine, Sapa, Sowetan (213 words)

SADTU calls for enquiry into Free State University racism (156 words)

Varsity workers march against video, Sapa, IOL (254 words)

Race video makers face charges, News24 (511 words)

Coming Events

27 February 2008

Truth Will Out

About fifty years ago in colonial Algeria Frantz Fanon (pictured), a black man born in Martinique in the West Indies and a cadre of the liberation movement, was working for the French government as a psychotherapist. Some of his patients were servants of the French colonial authority whose work was to torture Algerians. Naturally, their work affected their mental health, sometimes severely. It drove them mad. Fanon wrote about it, and published the stories. Some of them are in Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth”.

The USA government must also now treat the mental health problems of its torturers. For the most part the therapists that it uses appear to be “active duty”, or in other words military officers who are in authority over the patients. In such circumstances the torturers refrain from confessing their full stories.

But in at least one instance the US military “outsourced” some of this work to an eminent and experienced psychiatrist, Dr. John R. Smith. The patient “opened up” to him. Like Fanon half a century before him, Smith wrote up the story of the torturer and his mental problems and published it for the first time yesterday, on Counterpunch. The short account is linked below.

[Students of the history of the South African struggle will know that the adoption of outright torture techniques by the old regime, and the subsequent descent into outright brutality, began after Special Branch members went to Algeria to be trained within the French torture apparatus]

Willie Madisha has been dismissed from his position of President of COSATU by its Central Executive Committee. The short preliminary Press Release is linked below. The full Commission Report
can be read by clicking here (76 KB PDF download).

The COSATU CEC has also pronounced on the Special Browse Mole Consolidated Report affair, which is damning of the Scorpions and should lead to prosecutions and to a realisation by even the most reactionary whites that this was a treasonous subversive body that was set up and paid for by the post-apartheid state, but was out of anyone’s control, and is still riddled with old-regime Special Branch and other such types. The sooner it is dissolved, the better. See COSATU’s statement below.

Business continues. The ANC National Working Committee has met, and so has the SACP North-West Provincial council. Read their important statements in the documents linked below.

The MDC has got its election campaign well of the ground at Sakubva Stadium with a fine, large rally. See the report linked below, and
pictures here.

Space and other temporary difficulties mean that it is not going to be possible to deal with the unspeakable Free State University racism video atrocity here today.

Click on these links:

Confessions of a Gitmo Guard, Debbie Nathan, Counterpunch (861 words)

Willie Madisha, COSATU Media Release (242 words)

Special Browse Mole Consolidated Report, COSATU Media Release (283 words)

ANC National Working Committee Statement, 25 February 2008 (280 words)

SACP North-West PEC Media Release, 26 February 2008 (1016 words)

Huge crowd attends MDC election campaign launch (593 words)

Coming Events

25 February 2008

Leninism or Marxism?

The first Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) was held in 1898 in Minsk, in what is now Belarus, at that time part of the Russian Empire. There were nine delegates and they had six sessions, producing resolutions which were published afterwards. A Manifesto, written by the "Legal Marxist" P B Struve, who was one of the delegates, was also published. All the participants were soon afterwards arrested.

The period that followed was characterised by what Lenin called “primitivism” or the “circle spirit” (the picture is of Lenin, already bald at age 26, with comrades in an earlier study circle). There was hardly anything of what we would now call “structures”, but only loose study circles with neither democracy nor centralism. A few years into this period, Lenin wrote “
What Is To Be Done?”, published in early 1902, defining the vanguard party in contradiction to “economism” (workerism), and also condemning the “circle spirit” as being inadequate to the revolutionary tasks that lay ahead.

The 2nd RSDLP Congress start in Brussels, Belgium, in August, 1903 but moved to London, England and was completed there. Full minutes were kept and Lenin went over them with great care to produce “
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”, his exhaustive analysis of that Congress, which gave birth to the Bolsheviks (and the Mensheviks). Once again, Lenin attacks primitivism and the “circle spirit”, and lambastes the “anarchists” who want to reject any proper structure. There were further Congresses in 1905 (year of revolution), 1906 (in Stockholm, Sweden) and 1907 (in London). The sixth RSDLP Congress did not take place until August, 1917, in Petrograd, in between the two revolutions of that year.

Tonight (Tuesday) at 17h00 in the SACP boardroom, 3rd floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein, we are going to discuss excerpts from this work of Lenin’s, in which he writes, among other things: “There is a close psychological connection between this hatred of discipline and that incessant nagging note of injury which is to be detected in all the writings of all opportunists today in general, and of our minority in particular.”

The sense of injury, which as Lenin noted, the minority is apt to carry, and which often leads it into reckless liaisons and careless whispers, is still to be found today. We have seen that some Western Cape comrades, finding themselves in a minority position within the Party, have felt a powerful sense of injury. We have read about it in the national press. An SACP Western Cape PEC lekgotla has now resolved, among other things, to establish a disciplinary committee and “bring the necessary disciplinary charges against Luthando Nogcinisa and Mazibuko Jara.” Read the Western Cape SACP’s full media release, linked below.

Next week, we will be discussing Rosa Luxemburg’s “Organizational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy”, commonly called “Leninism or Marxism?”. Luxemburg wrote this work as a response, and to some extent a rejection, of Lenin’s “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”, which had been published earlier in the same year of 1904.

It is quite possible that both of these works may be quoted to assist the arguments during the forthcoming Nogcinisa/Jara disciplinary hearing. Luxemburg’s work is linked below. You may also download all these documents in MS-Word format
by clicking on the lost at our group web site.

Click on these links:

SACP Western Cape PEC Lekgotla Statement, 25 February 2008

Leninism or Marxism?, Rosa Luxemburg, 1904

Coming Events

24 February 2008

Money and Skin

We have already reached part 8 (out of 24) of our distance-learning course on Karl Marx’s Capital, Volume 1. That is, one-third of the way through it. One of the characteristics of Capital is that the chapters vary very widely in length. This one, Chapter 3,”Money, or the circulation of commodities” is 17,275 words long. But it is very interesting. Marx’s definition of money comes at the beginning of Section 3 of the Chapter:

“The commodity that functions as a measure of value, and, either in its own person or by a representative, as the medium of circulation, is money.”

The way to deal with long or, as you might find them, difficult texts, is to give yourself a certain available amount of time to deal with them. It could be anything from 2 minutes to 20 hours. Then, pace yourself in such a way that you can complete the task in the given time. If it means missing out pieces, or turning the pages in front of you, one at a time, but faster than reading pace, so be it, but get to the end. Or, you may start at the end and work back to the beginning, but get there. See the first linked item below.

Continuing with our previous theme of xenophobia, Carmel Rickard has written in the Weekender of the scandalous treatment of Zimbabweans by magistrates, both in the case of the raid on the Central Methodist Church, and in another, unrelated case of legal xenophobia which was appealed to the Johannesburg High Court. Read Rickard’s lambasting of the magistrates, in the second linked item.

Next come three items relating to Friday’s Forum of Black Journalists (FBJ) meeting, as we all thought it was at the time. But now it turns out that the whole affair was stage-managed by one person, Abbey Makoe, who also happens to be the political editor of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). Makoe claims to be the chairperson of the steering committee of the FBJ, an organisation that has actually been non-existent for many years past.

So the FBJ is now no more than a one-man-band. Friday’s meeting was certainly not a revival of the FBJ. It was only a cheap stratagem of Makoe’s, so that he could put on a showboating performance as host to the President-in-waiting of South Africa, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma. The racial furore was a smokescreen. Abbey Makoe has “played” Jacob Zuma, but it won't do him any good.

Ray Hartley is the Editor of The Times, a tabloid newspaper that is delivered free to subscribers of the Sunday Times. The Times is sometimes astonishingly right-wing in tone, yet Hartley seems to be a reasonable and thoughtful man. Writing for his personal blog at the Times’ site, Hartley was one of the first to get this story in proportion, whilst other, more foolish whites writers (for example
Michael Trapido of “Thought Leader”) were still “going ballistic” about it. Fiona Forde was at the FBJ meeting, was refused entrance, but spoke to Makoe. Her calm prose removes Emperor Makoe’s phoney clothes, piece by piece. “Karen Bliksem” (commonly assumed to be Jeremy Gordin) is equally devastating.

Alexander Cockburn, Editor of Counterpunch, has seen many US elections and has now produced the first useful account of the one presently contested between John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. Cockburn leaves you with little room for illusions about any of them, but he is not indifferent.

Last, but not least, comes Fidel Castro, an honourable working journalist published in Cockburn’s magazine alongside other working writers. “We need to open ideological fire,” he writes. Comrade Fidel is also watching the US election from Havana, but he takes time to tell us that the night after he resigned he “slept like never before”. He sounds happy. He is enjoying his new career already!

Communist leader Demetris Christofias defeated Ioannis Kasoulides in the election for the presidency of Cyprus. Christofias got 53.4 percent of the votes. Viva AKEL, viva!

Our next “contact session” is tomorrow (Tuesday).

Click on these links:

Capital Volume 1, C3, Money, Karl Marx, 1867 (17275 words)

Xenophobes in judiciary need transforming, Carmel Rickard, Weekender (681 words)

Race, Zuma, journalists and strawberry pie, Ray Hartley, Times blogs (305 words)

White journalists left out in the cold, Fiona Forde, Sunday Independent (586 words)

Makoe makes feathers fly, Karen Bliksem, Sunday Independent (994 words)

Mushrooming Clouds Hang Over McCain, Alex Cockburn, Counterpunch (2784 words)

Watching the US Presidential Campaign from Havana, F Castro, Counterpunch (843 words)

Coming Events

23 February 2008


Charles Modise is still not charged after more than five months in custody, following another fruitless bail hearing today in Kimberley. Scorpions spokesman Tlali Tlali said that the Scorpions welcomed the judgment. The unstated fact that Modise is regarded as a “foreigner” is no doubt a factor in the refusal of bail, as is the allegation that was made in Modise’s name in the form of an affidavit procured by the police and leaked by the police, about a fictitious R500,000 in black bin-bags placed in Willie Madisha’s car-boot. The Scorpions do not appear to have been asked why they have not been able to lay charges against Modise, or put under any kind of pressure to do so.

In another incident of horrifying xenophobia, “nearly 300 people were forced to flee for their lives when squatters from Itireleng informal settlement behind Laudium attacked them, torching their homes, belongings and a church.” See the first linked item below, containing two reports of the same case. Many of the victims were subsequently arrested and doubly victimised, by the police who were supposed to protect them [the picture is of a demonstration against persecution of immigrants, in the USA in December 2006].

COSATU’s Gauteng PEC has met and pronounced on xenophobia, including cases in Soshaguve and at the Central Methodist Church, Johannesburg, among other matters including education and transport, following its first meeting of the year. See the second item.

In similar agenda-setting meeting, the NUM NEC has laid down some priorities, including a detailed statement on electricity supply and the following quote from NUM GS Frans Baleni: “Those who don’t do their jobs should be fired. We cannot afford a situation in which people realize last-minute that they are having no stockpiles left.” See the third linked item below.

Barry Sergeant is the Moneyweb journalist whose “gonzo” style disguises an outstanding ability to obtain and marshal factual information in a pointed and accessible manner. He is unlike most bourgeois journalists in South Africa in that he harbours no illusions about our minister of finance.

“This is the same Trevor Manuel who found himself surrounded by a group of classy and heavily enthusiastic advisors back in 1995, asking him to sign off documentation for new Eskom power stations. Everything was ready, to the last dot. With his demented cabinet cronies in the background, it took Manuel 12 years before he signed on the dotted line,” writes Sergeant. See the fourth linked item.

Eskom is still milking the power shortage catastrophe that it has itself created, for even more advantages to itself.
The front page lead article of the Business Day yesterday reported that Eskom is seeking another rise on top of the 14.2% already granted.

Jara supporters” and an un-named “party activist” (who could be the same Mazibuko Jara) are the source of the fifth linked item, which is a confection from the Mail & Guardian made up of month-old stuff relating to COSATU, two-year-old material relating to the YCL, and other bits of tittle-tattle, but mainly of Jara’s fear of being suspended from the SACP, something that has not yet happened as far as we know.

Cde Jara has the great advantage of being a former spin-doctor for the Party. Thus he still has media contacts, and now chooses to use them to publicise all his personal difficulties with the Party. The SACP is a legal party and has no rules against members speaking in public, as such. It is Cde Jara’s choice.

Click on these links:

Attacks on foreigners organised, victims arrested, C Times, Citizen (522 words)

COSATU Gauteng, first 2008 Province Executive Committee (1320 words)

NUM NEC pronouncements, NUM Media Release (501 words)

Trevor in Wonderland, Barry Sergeant, Fear and Loathing, Moneyweb (888 words)

A new SACP purge, Rapule Tabane, Mail and Guardian (553 words)

Coming Events

21 February 2008

Proletarian Organisations Comment on the Budget

The five statements linked below were all issued within a few hours of the Budget Speech, before the evening of the same day.

As such, none can have the benefit of a full collective discussion. Each one is the product of a few minds, working fast.

You will see that there are clear differences between the statements. None of them can be treated as “cast in stone” but nevertheless they are all instructive.

Reading these quick products of the working class’s own organisations is probably the best way to get into a critical examination of the budget, and even to begin to answer questions like: “What is the Budget?” or “Who needs it?"


Umsebenzi Online is the SACP’s fortnightly on-line publication. Communist University subscribers should all by now be subscribed to it. The Umsebenzi Online distribution list contains more than 1,700 subscribers but it needs to be much more than that. 17,000 would be better and 170,000 better still, but really we need a circulation of millions, to match that of the “Sunday Times” and the “Daily Sun”.

Please help Umsebenzi Online to grow. With their permission, add addresses of new subscribers
by clicking here, typing in an e-mail address, and clicking “Subscribe”. The person will receive an automatic e-mail from the Umsebenzi Online group requesting confirmation. This is the easiest way to get new subscribers on to the Umsebenzi Online list, and all of you can do it. Please do it, comrades. Get between one and ten new subscribers for Umsebenzi Online today.

The latest Umsebenzi Online is a tribute to Cde President Fidel Castro Ruz, the Commander in Chief, loved by billions. Click on the link below to read it, or
click here to download it in MS-Word format.

The cartoon is by Steve Bell of the Guardian newspaper, of London.

The next linked document is an intervention of the “NAMA 11”. “NAMA” stands for “non-agricultural market access” and the 11 are a group of concerned trade union centres working together.

More precisely, NAMA refers to the demand by the Imperialists that in return for allowing agricultural produce into their metropolitan markets, they must be allowed to monopolise and dominate all other fields (extraction, manufacturing, transport, services, banking, media et cetera) in their former colonies. This is the kind of blackmail known as “Hobson’s Choice”. It is actually a recipe for “neocolonisation”.

The “NAMA 11” includes COSATU. Read the short document to see how these negotiators have tried to make the best of a bad job.

Time is short today. There are many direct statements about the budget, and many hundreds of indirect ones. The budget is theatre and ballyhoo. Even the serious question of why Trevor Manuel is Finance Minister, which is a major political question in relation to the entire post-1990 history of South Africa, is somehow turned into soap opera by Manuel, with assistance from the media and others. See the third link below.

If it becomes possible to post some working-class responses to the budget later, we will do so.

Click on these links:

Umsebenzi Online, V7, 3, 20 February 2008 (3030 words)

NAMA 11 Trade Union response to NAMA draft modalities, COSATU (546 words)

Goodbye Trevor, Felicity Duncan, Moneyweb (386 words)

Coming Events

20 February 2008

An Immense University

“Today, the entire country is an immense University”

These tremendous words form part of our beloved Fidel Castro’s Tuesday, 19 February 2008 statement, in the very next paragraph after the one where he wrote “I will neither aspire to nor accept the positions of President of the State Council and Commander in Chief.”

Communists everywhere will be feeling great satisfaction at this new success. It is a success of the kind that every cadre dreams of and works for, namely the day when the work is passed on to others, in the safe knowledge that it will not be ruined but will continue to develop. Sometimes this moment can arrive quickly in a particular passage of struggle. At other times, comrades have to dedicate great lengths of time to a given task, or even an entire working lifetime. Comrade Fidel’s is a very good example to us, as always.

SACP and COSATU have both issued statements. As for our beloved Fidel, he simply concludes: “I shall continue to write under the heading of ‘Reflections by comrade Fidel.’”

The next linked item below is a table of candidates for the House of Assembly and the Senate in the Zimbabwe elections scheduled for 29 March 2008. The table has been compiled from the best available information to date. It contains anomalies and therefore probably errors, too.

What the table shows is that, if the list is anything like accurate, then the conclusion must be drawn that the main, and only viable, challenge to Zanu-PF is coming from the Movement for Democratic Change, or “MDC Tsvangirai”. The latter party has matched Zanu-PF in nearly every constituency.

The combined forces of Mutambara and Makoni, on the other hand, are not nearly comparable in size to Zanu-PF, and therefore for that reason alone, they cannot win. The other small parties are practically negligible in terms of the overall challenge.

Those wishing to effect a change of government by means of this bourgeois-democratic election in Zimbabwe have in general no choice but to support the MDC (Tsvangirai), and the Presidential candidacy of Morgan Tsvangirai.

In Johannesburg, in the Constitutional Court, a great legal victory was secured yesterday, with political consequences. The Johannesburg Metro Council had been going around declaring buildings unsafe, and then criminalising the residents if they did not immediately move out. The court confirmed that evictions cannot be effected without a court order. Officials may not hide behind the building regulations. The court also found that the City’s efforts to rehouse the homeless in the specific instance had been inadequate, and in doing so, it effectively tightened up the law requiring alternative housing to be organised for evicted people. See the third linked item, below.

This is a victory for the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) and in particular for the legal activist and writer Stuart Wilson, as well as for many other individuals and organisations, and for the long-suffering poor people of Johannesburg. It is a welcome set-back for the “
Potemkin Village” mentality that had been creeping into the preparations for the 2010 World Cup, whereby poor people, especially, were to be swept out of sight, with devastating consequences for them and for their families.

The political environment within the mass media in South Africa has been extremely poisonous since the 52nd ANC National Conference that took place in Polokwane in December, 2007. Yet it remains the case that well-written material in the people’s cause can, and if offered, usually will be printed even in apparently hostile media, like the Johannesburg “Star”, for example. Our last linked item is a well-written letter by Mduduzi Dlamini that was printed in that newspaper on Tuesday.

Click on these links:

Message from the Commander in Chief (1098 words)

Zimbabwe election candidates, House of Assembly and Senate (Table)

Court makes city evictions tougher, Chantelle Benjamin, B Day (332 words)

Zuma never asked for his day in court, Mduduzi Dlamini, Star (755 words)

Coming Events

18 February 2008


[posted early] At 17h00 tonight (Tuesday) we meet on the 3rd floor of COSATU House (1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein) for our discussion of V I Lenin’s “What Is To Be Done?”. We hope that Cde Dinga Sikwebu will be present to give us his firm views on this work, as he has threatened to do since last year!

“What Is to Be Done” is an argument about the necessity for a working-class party (i.e. a vanguard or communist party), made against those who would say that the defensive, reformist mass organisations of the working class, and particularly the trade unions, are sufficient to the task of carrying the working-class interest to a satisfactory conclusion. In South Africa today, such people are known as “workerists”; in Lenin’s day, they were called “economists”.

This text is the pivotal work, but not the last word, in our set called “
Can We Do Without A Communist Party?” (click on that title for a link to the entire course and further links to the texts, this time in MS-Word download format). It followed on from the polemic with the reformist Bernstein and it preceded the Second Congress of the RSDLP (Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party) of August, 1903, when that party split into two factions, the revolutionary Bolsheviks and the reformist, gradualist Mensheviks. Following that Congress, Lenin wrote a report of it called “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”, which is our discussion text for next week (linked below), and which in turn prompted Rosa Luxemburg to respond with the pamphlet that is known as “Leninism or Marxism?”, which we will also discuss in due course.

These texts have all been taken from, and can be found in full at, the
Marxists Internet Archive. The image is of a 1921 poster, taken from Bolshevik Festivals 1917-1921, by James von Geldern. The caption says “The martyrs of the Paris Commune were resurrected under the red banner of the Soviets".

Fait accompli” is the French phrase for something that is taken for granted, or sometimes “finish and klaar”, or “cast in stone” as some people would have it. Undemocratic lobbyists strive to create a fait accompli, beyond the reach of reason and argument. Eskom’s behaviour in the past months may have been no more or less than their way of deliberately creating a fait accompli for what they want to happen in the future.

The first line of Samantha Enslin-Payne’s report below spells it out quite obviously: “Eskom will turn to the private sector to build and operate a base load power station, to plug a gap between the commissioning of two new coal-fired plants and new nuclear capacity.” This looks like the main Eskom agenda, smuggled through in broad daylight under cover of the panic that Eskom itself has stage-managed. “Uproar in the West, success in the East”. The senior Eskom managers need to be pruned, along with the ministers who have been close to this mess, to squash any suggestion of fait accompli.

These sorcerers’ apprentices have created a chaos, spelled out clearly in Mathabo le Roux linked article. Meanwhile, the DA fishes in troubled waters, not minding the privatisation but alleging corruption, as if privatisation was not already corruption. This is similar to the DA’s attitude to the arms deal, where they want uncorrupted militarism – a contradiction in terms. See the fourth linked article below.

The article about Bulelani Ngcuka is a “reverse” news story. It starts when Ngcuka tries to secure a “fait accompli” favourable to himself. But he is pulled up and told that the Polokwane policy is broad-based BEE. So he runs to the Business Report with a sob story and they print it. See the link.

Although Eskom has now stopped its power cuts in SA, they are still continuing in Zimbabwe. This is causing serious communication problems for the contending parties in the election campaign there. It also means that the foreign web sites dealing with Zimbabwe, many of which look like intelligence operations, have an advantage at the moment. The linked report from the “Zimbabwe Guardian” website offers what looks like good information, which we are not yet able to confirm separately.

The People's Budget Coalition (PBC) comprises COSATU, the SA Council of Churches and the SA NGO Coalition.
Click here to download their 640 KB 33-page 2008 PDF budget download.

Click on these links:

Lenin, 1904, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, Compilation (14954 words)

Eskom needs private power station, Samantha Enslin-Payne, B Report (552 words)

Coal markets rocked by Eskom, Mathabo le Roux, Business Day (664 words)

Shortlisting of corruption tainted company, Enslin-Payne, B Report (382 words)

Political ties weigh on Ngcuka Vodacom bid, Thabiso Mochiko, B Report (334 words)

Zimbabwe election of sorts, Editorial, The Zimbabwe Guardian (496 words)

Coming Events

17 February 2008

Zimbabwean Workers, Vote!

Zimbabwe has a similar mix of constituency-based elections with a directly-elected President, to Kenya. The nomination lists for the election on 29 March 2008 are currently still open as far as we know. Presidential candidates are Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC; Robert Mugabe, Zanu-PF; Simba Makoni; and Langton Towungana.

We hope to publish details of who the rest of the Parliamentary candidates are, as soon as possible, for the benefit of the Communist University’s Zimbabwean readers. The elections will also be for local government councillors.

In the absence of information direct from the participants, the CU is obliged to depend upon Internet sources. In the case of Zimbabwe these include many sources that are funded by players from outside Zimbabwe, whose identity is usually obscure. Such a source is the Zimbabwe Guardian (“formerly talk Zimbabwe”). Nevertheless, the message (linked below) is clear: The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (
ZCTU) is fully supporting Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) in the 29 March elections.

To see the ZCTU’s general call for workers to participate in the elections
click here.

Meanwhile in South Africa, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has gone after the flying-solo peace and anti-arms deal campaigner, Terry Crawford-Browne, in the courts of law, and not for the first time. See the linked report below. To read what Crawford-Browne wrote that got up Trevor’s tip,
click here. Courts have recently become less inclined to restrain publication. It will be interesting to see what happens. In any case, politicians should not be going to the courts for gagging orders.

In Johannesburg, tonight (Monday), at 18h00 at the Wits University Senate House, a 53-minute film called “Uranium Road”, about nuclear energy and South Africa, will be shown and followed by discussion with the maker David Fig and the renewables campaigner Annie Sugrue. For more details,
click here.

Continuing with our “ghost”, or distance learning course on
Karl Marx’s Capital, Volume 1, we offer another link below, to Chapter 2 of the work (“Exchange”), which is only four pages long, and an easy read for anybody. The more chapters you read of “Capital”, the better off you will be.

Click here for the full “ghost programme” on Capital, Volume 1, with links to all the texts in the form of MS-Word downloads.

The Communist University meets again tomorrow (Tuesday), to discuss Vladimir Iyich Ulyanov Lenin’s “
What Is To Be Done?

This post marks the over-topping of the psychologically-important 600 posts mark. It is post number 601. The other psychologically-important mark that we have passed is 1560 subscribers, an increase of 50% in the last few months. Page views have increased, too, at the
amadlandwonye site. Please help us to increase the number of e-mail subscribers, comrades, by all possible legal means. The e-mail list of (mostly) known contacts is the heart and soul of the CU system.

The splendid logo at the top today is borrowed from another Communist University, in Acton, in London. For more details click the link below.

Click on these links:

ZCTU threatens Makoni, Ezekiel Chiwara, Zimbabwe Guardian (297 words)

Manuel seeks court order to gag activist, C Terreblanche, Sindy (426 words)

Capital Volume 1, C2, Exchange, Karl Marx, 1867 (2883 words)

CU of Acton, London, Value, Price and Profit, 20h30, 19 March 2008 (flyer)

Coming Events

16 February 2008

What's Going On?

The South African Communist Party is calling out the South African Police Service to explain what game they are playing in relation to the renegade Willie Madisha and the stool-pigeon Charles Kasinja Modise. Modise has been stewing in chookie, remanded in custody, for five months or more. See SACP Deputy GS Jeremy Cronin’s forthright statement, linked below.

BHP Billiton is a mining company historically made up of the South African Afrikaner-based company Gencor and the Australian company Broken Hill (BHP). The name Billiton comes from a third component, historically based in the Netherlands. In other words, BHP Billiton is made up of the purest stuff of Imperialism, international finance capital expressed as primary extractive industry (i.e. mining, or “resources”). The South African one-time corporate hero Brian Gilbertson put BHP Billiton together in the late 1990s. The possession of aluminium smelters using electricity subsidised by South African taxpayers appears to have been a considerable part of Gilbertson’s leverage during this process.

But Gilbertson appears to have fallen out with the Australians, and he resigned quite soon after becoming Chief Executive Officer of the new entity. The company’s current CEO is another South African, Marius Kloppers. Kloppers, emulating Gilbertson, has aimed make the company even more monopolistic, this time by taking over another huge “resources” group with its origins in the British Empire, called Rio Tinto. If this were to come to pass, the resultant company would be the biggest resources company in the world and, some say, the second largest company in the world altogether.

But now, a new factor has entered the story. This is the sudden purchase by the Chinese aluminium company Chinalco, of a large proportion of the shares of Rio Tinto. In the linked report below, taken from the Business Day’s Weekender, the syndicated journalist tries to fabricate a hybrid of corporate speculation with something like the old-fashioned “Kremlinology” of cold war years, but now directed towards China. This story will run, and it will have big consequences.

The Weekender’s circulation is small, but it often carries excellent in-house journalism. Another good piece from yesterday’s issue is Carmel Rickard’s scathing but unassailable criticism of what has been going on in the judiciary. How fortunate we are to have people like Rickard to do a newspaper article about it! If the SACP made the same points, they might well have been marked down in the same media as “an attack on the judiciary”!

Rehana Rossouw is another good journalist who writes in the Weekender. Her article begins: “I was active in the struggle against apartheid and I certainly don’t want millions of school children chanting a rote sentence every weekday, pretending to honour me.” Thank goodness for Rehana Rossouw! The opposition to oath-taking was beginning to look like a monopoly of the racists.

This oathing situation is full of contradiction. It probably owes more to the relentless Zionist lobbyist Warren Goldstein than to anyone else. Goldstein, described by the Weekender as a “crusader”, is about to disgorge the second installment of kiddy brainwashing in the shape of a “Bill of Responsibilities” next week, according to another article, this time by Sue Blaine. The article is a good critique of the whole racket, and from our point of view as Communist University, it makes some good pedagogical points. Prof Mary Metcalfe, dean of the Wits education faculty, is quoted as saying of the oath: “It is fundamentally uneducational. If (Pandor) wants children to grapple with values, let’s grapple with them, not recite them.”

During the interregnum between Polokwane 2007 and the new government of 2009 there is sure to be an enormous amount of this kind of authoritarian gimmickry. What else can the lame ducks do? They have nothing else to offer. They can only drift like
the ducky cargo that has been drifting over the oceans for the past sixteen years (picture).

Click on these links:

What are the SAPS doing? SACP Press Statement (374 words)

Behind China move on Rio, Richard McGregor, Business Day Weekender (854 words)

Accountability in unequal measures, Carmel Rickard, Weekender (646 words)

Pandor has wrong people pledging, Rehana Rossouw, Weekender (429 words)

Sequel to school pledge outrage, Sue Blaine, Weekender (950 words)

Coming Events

Getting on with it

This morning in the NUM offices in the UCS Building (former Total House) at the corner of Smit and Rissik Streets, in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, from 10h00, the SACP Gauteng Province is staging a discussion titled “Post Polokwane”. All are welcome.

Mathews Phosa is the Treasure-General of the ANC, or “TG” for short. This post was made famous by Thomas Titus Nkobi, who was part of the great and long-lasting ANC triumvirate that included Alfred Nzo as Secretary-General and Oliver Reginald Tambo as President-General.

If the Mail and Guardian report linked below is true, then Cde Phosa has already proved himself a worthy successor to T T Nkobi. It says: “[ANC] investment company Chancellor House will exit two multibillion-rand contracts with Eskom”. This action will be “immediate”.

The situation where our ANC treasury was invested in contracts to build new power stations, following the mothballing of other power stations and the consequent power shortage catastrophe of January 2008, was unconscionable.

The President of the ANC, Jacob Gegleyihlekisa Zuma, has this week used his President’s Letter in ANC Today to highlight a cause close to the heart of the Communist University, namely what are called “mother tongue languages”. The CU’s language initiative
is here. We believe it to be a pre-requisite for the life of any language that it should have its own dictionary in the language itself, and not simply a translation dictionary into and out of the colonial language.

Charles Kasinja Modise is the person who allegedly accused SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande of receiving a donation from him via suspended COSATU President Willie Madisha. Modise has now been kept locked up for more than five months, having been refused bail, after the NPA/Scorpions brought various charges against him. Now Advocate Zahir Omar, who is a real people’s lawyer, has come out to say that Modise has been blackmailed by the Scorpions to support Madisha’s cock-and-bull story. It appears that Modise is not so much a part of the plot as a victim of the plot.

The quality of a legal system is measured by the extent that it protects the weak and the friendless.

Click on these links:

ANC to exit Eskom deals, Stefaans Brümmer, Mail & Guardian (749 words)

Our languages matter, ANC President Jacob Zuma, ANC Today (988 words)

Modise is a victim of trade-off gone wrong, SABC (388 words)

Coming Events

15 February 2008

It’s the coal, stupid!

The Business Day’s front-page splash story today (linked below) is about Eskom having to spend “R11bn” on coal. Of course this is a budget figure and the actual expenditure may be very different. In an example of budget over-run in the same Mathabo le Roux article, it is reported that in terms of capital expenditure on new power stations: “Maroga said the tendered cost of equipment such as turbines and boilers exceeded estimates by about 30%. Civil engineering tenders were “an even bigger shock”, overshooting estimates as much as 50%.”

Meanwhile, in the Mail & Guardian Online (see the second linked item), Jocelyn Newmarch reports: “Eskom’s directors and top brass, about 30 people, paid themselves R21,8-million for the year ending March 2007, up from R18-million the previous year and a whopping R56-million for the 15-month period ending March 2005. In 2003 they raked in a collective R15,9-million.”

The whole thing looks like a gigantic extortion racket, based on manipulation of coal supplies. The scam was to create problems, menace the entire economy including the mines, and then to demand huge amounts of money to fix the problems the scammers had themselves created. The perpetrators must all be fired! If we do not fire them, they or others like them will work the same scam over and over again.

Newmarch’s article is very detailed. It begins: “Eskom’s countdown to catastrophe began in 2000 when it had enough coal stockpiled to last 61 days. Last month, when it shut down the country’s mines, the stockpiles were down to less than three days’ supply. …[The then] newly appointed chief executive Thulani Gcabashe implemented a new policy to reduce the stockpile to 44 days to reduce operating costs.” Read more about this
here and here.

The second part of the MGO article, written by Lynley Donnelly, is very instructive about the (existing) BHP Billiton aluminium smeltering contracts. Donnelly quotes the (capitalist) arms-deal whistleblower Richard Young as saying (much like the
Communist University) that these potline smelters should be shut down: “Even if Billiton had to be compensated for its losses by the government using taxpayers’ money, this would be far better than allowing the damage caused by load-shedding to continue,” he says. Meanwhile it appears that the planned new smelter at Coega has been blown away. See the third item below, also by Mathabo le Roux. You don’t get much more definite than that. It’s a dead duck.

This major investigative exposé by Newmarch and Donnelly appears not to have made it into the hard-copy Mail & Guardian; but in The Star, Louise Flanagan’s deadpan rewrite of Eskom’s own propaganda is waved through, including the following: “Eskom intends more than doubling its generation capacity to 80 000Mw by 2025. This includes up to 20 000Mw from nuclear power stations. The first of these is due to be about twice as big as Koeberg, which has a capacity of 1 800Mw.” In the same edition is the stark letter of a survivor of the power-station closure programme of 10 years ago, E L Mndenge. Both linked.

The sixth item is Terry Bell’s attempt to warm up a three-week-old story. At least he got this much right: “He [Tony Ehrenreich] …insisted that an internationally agreed day of action should take precedence over a local party political function”. Terry Bell fails to emphasise it enough, but the meaning is clear: Tony Ehrenreich was arrogantly treating the SACP as if it was an affiliate of COSATU, and for that he collected a raspberry from the Party. Deservedly so!

The Terry Bells and the Tony Ehrenreichs of this world have so far failed to realise that a movement that is incapable of doing more than one thing at a time is hardly a challenge to a tiddly-winks team, let alone a revolutionary challenge to the bourgeois state. Don’t now forget the Coming Events!

Click on these links:

Emergency coal boost will cost Eskom R11bn, M le Roux, B Day (617 words)

Anatomy of a catastrophe, Newmarch and Donnelly, MGO (2286 words)

Energy crisis gives Rio doubt on Coega, Mathabo le Roux, B Day (602 words)

Eskom on track to boost power output, Louise Flanagan, Star (472 words)

Patch up wounds or we bleed to death, E L Mndenge, Star (209 words)

Witch-hunt ties union principles to the stake, Terry Bell, B Report (612 words)

Coming Events

14 February 2008

Which Side Are You On?

Pride of place today goes to the SACP’s excellent, concise statement on the dissolution of the Scorpions. Something very strange was happening within the mass media. A frenzy was building up. Supporters of the Scorpions were manically repeating that “there is no reason” for the dissolution, even though the reasons have appeared over and over again, even in the hostile mass media.

The SACP statement linked below deflates all this denial like a pin deflates a balloon. The result is that some of the deniers have gone crazy with anger. For example,
click here to go to the SACP statement as it appears on Politicsweb, and scroll down to the bottom to see the comments. One says: “Die commie scum!” Another says: “The devil is loose...and he is roaming free in SA.” This naked, raging “rooi gevaar” is horrible to behold, but it will not win because it comes from a tiny minority.

Next to the rational and well-written Party statement the ranting insults simply look unclean.

Professor Sipho Seepe has written a denunciation of a different order, urbane, relentless and exhaustive, stripping President Mbeki’s cloak of deception from him and leaving him with nothing but his shame, like Adam and Eve trying to cover themselves with leaves as they left the Garden of Eden. The worst shame of Thabo Mbeki was that he offered his own mother as a token of his truthfulness, and then proceeded to evade the truth in front of the nation. Read about it in Seepe’s article, linked below.

Sipho Seepe was one of the eight broadcasters blacklisted in 2006 (see cartoon), and who are still not appearing on SABC, even though a report was commissioned which found their exclusion unjustifiable.
See the blacklist here. John Perlman was obliged to leave the SABC when he exposed the blacklist on air in unforgettable style. It is high time these injustices were rectified.

The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) has done a brilliant job of defending 107 suspended Cape Town Metro Police officers. Good, steady trade union work has frustrated Cape Town’s wicked queen Helen Zille, who had reportedly stamped her foot and petulantly sworn to dismiss the protesters, who had caused her royal car to be held up in a traffic jam. Long live the power of the working class! See the third item, below.

The working class struggle is international and our fundamental foe is capitalist Imperialism. Yet we are not alone in that struggle. There are bourgeois elements, even in the metropolitan countries, who are strongly opposed to the Imperialist policies that their governments pursue. Conversely, there are governing parties that pose as working class, but who are in fact liberal Imperialists of the warmongering kind. Read Simon Jenkins, a High Tory gentleman, denouncing the British Labour party government’s Foreign Secretary David Milliband, and ask yourself: Which side are you on?

Click on these links:

Dissolution of the DSO (Scorpions), SACP Media Release (583 words)

Epoch of incredulity and season of darkness, Sipho Seepe, B Day (698 words)

City of Cape Town interdicted against disciplining 107 Cops, SAMWU (334 words)

Zeal for intervention is imperialism, Simon Jenkins, Guardian (1072 words)

Coming Events