31 May 2013

Voting Districts and Wards

Induction, Part 8a

From the IEC web site

Voting Districts and Wards

Registered voters are about half of the total population. In Gauteng, which has more registered voters than any other Province, Voting Districts contain on average about 2400 voters and so around 5000 people altogether. Wards may contain four or five Voting Districts. Exactly how many wards there are in Gauteng is not known to the CU at this moment but it may be that the average number of people in a Ward is between 15,000 and 20,000, and half that number of voters.

The IEC runs elections. The Demarcations Board sets ward boundaries.

The next national election is scheduled to be held in 2014. The ANC will begin, or perhaps has already begun, a process of consultation about the Manifesto, which will in any case not vary a lot from the outcomes of the 53rd ANC National Conference. The ANC Manifesto is not expected to be published before November 20013.

But the election results, as usual, will be less affected by the content of the Manifesto than by the work that is done in the wards, and especially door-to-door, leading up to election day and the bringing out of the vote on that day, which is done on the basis of the door-to-door records.

The best thing that ANC supporters can do at this moment, apart from normal door-to-door visiting, is to study the electoral boundaries and the demographics in their areas, because these change over time.

The CU does not have all the answers in this first iteration of the Induction course, but would like to benefit from any research that you may do.

Therefore please, if you can answer:

How many MPs are there in South Africa?

How many MPLs are there? By Province?

How many Ward Branches does the ANC have in any given area, Province, or Region?

How many Voting District Branches does the SACP have in any given area, Province, or District?

How are the members of the National Council of Provinces chosen?

This course will be done again in a year or less. Please help to make the next time richer in information. Please, when you send information, do please cite your sources.

30 May 2013

The Local State

Induction, Part 8

Garden City

The Local State

The “Local State” is that part of the state apparatus that is apparent in the localities where people live and work, and with which they interact on a daily basis.

It is not a precise term, but it is a useful one when considering the environment that a branch of the SACP or of the ANC, or a COSATU Local, operates in.

In political terms, the local state, taken as a municipality, is historically the first form of (limited) state power that the bourgeois class (the ruling class of the towns) created, under feudalism.

Garden City: Ward and Centre

Still, today, the municipality is for the bourgeoisie a natural habitat and a convenient and comfortable home. The ordinary bourgeoisie of the country makes most of its money at this level.

For our text we are going to use the third part of the ANC Branch Manual. It ranges somewhat wider but it contains many references to parts of the “Local State”; and it proposes a correct attitude of study and research into the local state as it exists in every locality, with a view to representing the interests of the people of the area.

The ANC’s class position, as always, is ambiguous. The ANC Branch Manual of 2010 does not mention the SACP, or the Alliance, as a factor at local level. In the section that we are using (Part 3, attached), it takes on a social-welfare guise, which does indeed reflect the character of the ANC as it often appears in the localities. Of course, this is not the totality of the ANC; the ANC, among other things, is a political party of power; and it is a liberation movement. It is all of these things, at once.

In the remainder of this Part 8, we will proceed to look at the electoral demarcations and then at local and national elections, in a general way.

Here, in this item, we will be content to take an overview of a typical local environment, as reflected in the attached ANC document.

In the next part (Part 9) of the Induction Course, we will be dealing with the building of the different components of the Alliance as subjective, free-willing political agency, with revolutionary potential, as well as with quasi-state institutions that exist at local level that compete directly with the voluntary mass-democratic organisations. These include the Ward Committees, Community-Police Forums and School Governing Bodies.

Illustrations: Two of Ebenezer Howard’s diagrams from “Garden Cities of To-morrow”, 1902 – an idealised municipality; an imaginary bourgeois paradise.

29 May 2013

Young Communist League

Induction, Part 7c

Young Communist League

From the YCL Web site:

“The Young Communist League of South Africa is a Marxist-Leninist youth wing of the SACP.

“The YCL stands for Non Racism, Freedom, Equality and the socialisation of the ownership and control of the means of production.”

Preamble of the YCLSA Constitution:

We, the Young Communist League of South Africa founded in 1922, banned in 1950 and re-established in 2003, are a voluntary mass organisation of the youth in South Africa.

We are devoted to the interests of all young people and dedicated to the revolutionary cause of the working class of our country and the globe.

We are committed to and struggle for the transformation of South Africa from a capitalist society to a socialist society in which there will [be] no exploitation of [one] person by another.

The YCLSA recognises the South African Communist Party as the political party of socialism in our country and hence enjoys political and ideological guidance from the SACP.

Young Communists promote the unity of progressive young people of our country with the progressive peoples and youth of all countries.

Aims and Objectives of the YCLSA according to its Constitution:

The aims and objectives of the YCLSA shall be the following:

(a)               To develop young cadres into communists
(b)               To strive for the elimination of all forms of oppression and discrimination
(c)                To be a preparatory school for the South African Communist Party (SACP)
(d)               To fight for the creation of a socialist society and ultimately a communist society
(e)               To fight capitalism wherever it exists
(f)                 To develop communist, working-class political and moral convictions in our members, and teach them to work and struggle collectively.
(g)               To reject crime, the abuse of women, children, drugs and alcohol.
(h)               To fight for the equality of all young people, against racism, and economic exploitation.
(i)                 To promote social, recreational and cultural activities among young people.
(j)                 To organise and conscientise our members to participate actively in day to day struggles of the working people and youth.
(k)                To promote the understanding among youth that the working class is the only class capable of leading the people to socialism.

Please find attached, the Constitution of the Young Communist League of South Africa.

CU comment

As a voluntary mass organisation of the youth, the YCL gives experience of how voluntary mass organisations work and how they are structured. At the same time, as an organisation that is not separate from the SACP, the YCL imparts a sense of what the vanguard party is about.

The YCL educates its members politically, and it inducts them, organisationally, to the whole movement – the National Democratic Revolutionary Alliance.

This part 7 of the CU Induction course has been about the South African mass democratic movement as an environment or field within which the communist party operates.

The next part will be about the State environment in which the Party currently operates, locally, provincially and nationally.

27 May 2013

COSATU Affiliates and other unions

Induction, Part 7b
Some Unions

The Movement:

COSATU Affiliates and other unions

COSATU Affiliate
Membership 2012

Total membership in previous years:
80 658

18 666

74 883

1 212 000
126 930

1 252 000
260 738

1 791 000
310 382

1 869 000
291 025

1 768 000
17 146

1 841 400
149 339

1 812 569
120 352

1 870 537
85 025

1 973 857
8 655

1 993 387
251 276

2 070 739

2 191 016
7 759

153 487

7 074

67 402

159 626

2 191 016

In South Africa, there is a constitutional right to freedom of association which in practice means, among other things, that workers have the right to combine together in trade unions.

This situation also means that, while worker unity is possible, it is also constantly threatened by the “right” of workers to split that unity by forming rival unions. In other words, if workers in a union do not like a majority decision, they are empowered by the law to walk out and start another (rival) union.

This freedom does not exist in the national democracy, where the minority losers of elections are obliged to live under the government of the majority and to obey the laws of the democratic Parliament.

Two unions are not better than one. Two unions organising the same kinds of worker are not united but are potentially divided and even potentially antagonistic.

In effect this leaves the matter of trade union democracy to be decided in action. If we can organise, we can stay united. If we get lazy, then opportunists, liars and demagogues will come in and take over. Not only will the law protect them, but the bourgeois mass media will also support them, even when they are obvious criminals and de facto fascists. We have seen this many times, and recently.

Presently, the South African Trade Unions can be analysed into two kinds: COSATU affiliates (see the tables above); and the others that are not COSATU affiliates. In COSATU a slogan is sometimes heard which says: “Any worker who is not a member of COSATU affiliate remains unorganised!” This is an aggressive stance towards non-COSATU unions.

The SACP is a vanguard party of the working class as a whole. It cannot abandon or shun workers who are in good-faith non-COSATU unions. But the SACP works hard for the goal of one-union-one-industry and one-country-one-federation.

COSATU, in practice, does co-operate with bona fide non-COSATU unions, for example in the Public sector collective wage bargaining system (PSCBC), which may involve as many as 17 unions, such as the ones whose logos are illustrated above. More than half of these are non-COSATU unions. In the past, they have at times been treated as, and behaved as, genuine trade unions and comrades in joint struggle.

But the constitutional and legal set-up that we have goes further to allow the appearance of what are actually fake unions, masquerading as unions. The bourgeois media invariably sympathise with any anti-COSATU elements. The rise of “AMCU” is the latest example.

As this item was being prepared, the COSATU-affiliated National Union of Mineworkers is preparing for its Central Committee (23-24 May 2013). The NUM’s statement (attached) will illustrate the problem set by the AMCU marauders and the response of our comrades to that challenge, as well as normal trade union concerns including collective bargaining demands and safety.

24 May 2013

The Movement: ANC, Leagues, SANCO, Women

Induction, Part 7a

The Movement:

ANC, Leagues, SANCO, Women

In “The State and Revolution”, Lenin wrote that democracy, and only democracy, could train people to think together, take decisions together, and act collectively. In the same work, he also wrote that democracy is not freedom. Democracy imposes the will of the majority on the minority and that is not freedom, said Lenin. Democracy is part of the road to freedom, but it is not the last part of that road.

In the South African democratic dispensation there are many more-or-less-democratic institutions. In this and the next two parts of this Induction course, we are going to consider both the autonomous Mass Democratic Movement, including COSATU and the ANC, and also the state’s democracy, national, provincial and local, and including Ward Committees, School Governing Bodies, Community-Police Forums, and other such statutory entities.

In this item, we briefly define, for Induction purposes, the ANC, its Leagues, and SANCO.

The ANC is an individual-membership mass organisation. At its 100th anniversary on January 8th 2012 it had one million members. By the beginning of 2013 it had 1.2 members. Since the 52nd National Congress (Polokwane, 2007) it has approximately doubled in membership.

The African National Congress is the liberation movement that incorporates the class alliance between all of the oppressed classes, including the working class. The African National Congress exists to carry out the National Democratic Revolution. The ANC is also in practice a party within the South African constitution, and it has been the ruling party since the first universal-franchise election in 1994.

The ANC has allies, but it is not a federation. Nor is it part of a federation.

The ANC Women’s League was founded in 1948, five years after the admission of women into the ANC in 1943. The ANCWL is an ANC section for women and not a women’s movement for all women.

The ANC Youth League was in difficulty and is now under a National Task Team. The ANC Youth League is part of the ANC and does not have a life apart from the ANC. The Youth League normally has a fully developed structure from branch level up to national.

ANC Veteran’s League

The ANC Veteran’s League is for people with 40 years of unbroken membership in the ANC. It does not organise old people.

SANCO is the National Civic Organisation. A Civic Association is a type of mass organisation that arose organically from South African history. The Civics belong to their members, in the localities, and they are therefore the natural home of the local petty-bourgeoisie, whose environment is always local. SANCO is a full member of the National Democratic Revolutionary Alliance.

The Women’s Movement

There is no mass-membership national democratic Women’s Organisation in South Africa that individual women can belong to, simply as women. The Progressive Women’s Movement is, according to its own documents, “not a formal structure”. In practice this means that it is not democratic. It has no democratic constitution.

The mass-membership national democratic Women’s Organisation remains the missing fifth Alliance partner. It is the necessary component of the NDR that has been completely neglected.

Please read the attached statement of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC). It can serve as an example of how the leadership of the movement views the organic structure and relationship between the many parts of the movement.

22 May 2013

Once More on the Mass and the Vanguard

Induction, Part 7

The Late Cde Hugo Chavez facing the Masses

Once More on the Mass and the Vanguard
The political field of South Africa, within which we live and act, can be divided like this:

  • Political Parties and voluntary mass organisations
  • Local State: Councils, Ward Committees, Community-Police Forums, School Governing Bodies
  • The National State and Provinces: Elected Government, Ministries and Departments
  • Big companies and parastatals
  • Small companies and Co-ops
  • Trade Unions
  • Religious organisations and NGOs

Political Parties and voluntary mass organisations include both Mass and Vanguard, and are in turn separate from the State’s ways and means of organising the masses.

We have earlier said that the main work of the communists has to be done outside of the confines of the Party, among people who are not communists. The vanguard Party does not define itself outside of the revolution. We have said that the Party itself has mass. The Party has internal democracy, as well as centralism, and the Party’s Constitution is a good one. In the discussion of the Mass and the Vanguard, the Party and the Class, we are therefore not talking of two separate entities. We are not attempting to define one, and then the other, and then join the two together. Instead, we are talking of a relation.

We can further repeat what the General Secretary of the SACP has said on more than one occasion: That we as the SACP accept responsibility for this revolution.

The State organises the masses via national, provincial and local demarcations, in elections, and in “Local State” structures. We can see this in Venezuela, where the direct patronage of the state in the organisation of the masses is, or is intended to be, pervasive (i.e. everywhere in the country), touching everybody and including everybody. In South Africa we have a local state, and we also have benefits to individuals and families that are paid out by the state. But we also have voluntary mass democratic organisations on a big scale.

To begin the discussion about mass organisations and the local state, in our attached reading for discussion, we look at Venezuela via George Ciccariello-Maher’s interview with Venezuela’s Minister of Communes, Reinaldo Iturriza (attached). Reinaldo Iturriza is among other things “kvetching” about what he calls “vanguardism”, including in his own Party (the PSUV), but also in the Communist Party of Venezuela.

Iturriza sees the way forward, not through organs of people’s power, soviets, or dual power, but in the practice of mass elections. Iturriza seems to believe that the Venezuelan masses will always be “Chavist” and will always vote accordingly. He does not dwell long upon the fact that in the recent election, the overall margin of victory was only 1.5%.

It is possible that the neo-liberals will win once and then strip the public wealth of Venezuela in record time, leaving no material basis for a resurrection of Chavism. Venezuela will then be like Libya, which as the late Colonel Gaddafi predicted, was turned into “Somalia” in record time; and what Ruth First wrote about Libya may apply as well to Venezuela. i.e. that its ideology is that of class-formation of a petty-bourgeoisie.

Here is some of what we have been able to find out about Venezuela from Internet research:

Reinaldo Iturriza is a former journalist and/or sociologist who is now, since the election of Nicolás Maduro to the Presidency in April 2013, the Venezuelan Minister of the People's Power for the Communes and Social Protection. (All Ministers in Venezuela are currently called “Minister of the People's Power for...”)

In our South African terms, the closest equivalent to Iturriza’s ministry would be the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, while most of its business appears to be having to do with what we would call development projects, such as housing. The funding for such projects comes from central government.

Venezuelan Communal Councils approximately correspond in size to a South African Voting District. Communes, in which at least 10 Communal Councils are joined, form units that would be the size of several electoral wards in South Africa. How these Communal Councils and Communes relate to the Venezuelan voting demarcations is not known by the CU at this time. If you know, please tell us.

The Communal Councils were first formed following the introduction of the Law of Communal Councils in April 2006. By 2009 “30,179 had been created and a further 5000 were in formation”. The process of forming Communes began later, in 2010. (see here)

In Iturriza’s Ministry there are other “Social Missions” and projects with various social purposes. These seem to resemble nationalised non-profit organisations, funded by direct grants from central government.

The South African way of institutionalising People’s Power, practised now for over 100 years, is to develop free-standing mass democratic organisations. These are the ones we will look at in the subsequent items within this 7th part of our course.

In South Africa, if the ANC loses an election, the people’s voluntary mass-democratic structures will still be in place, as they are today in the Western Cape Province, for example, under the DA provincial government.

This is the reason why the reactionaries are trying so hard to destroy the ANC, the trade unions, and the Party, and conversely it is why we are determined to defend and to grow these mass institutions.

But also in South Africa, on the other hand, we have “Ward Committees”. These have spring from the same kind of patronising thinking that has created the Venezuelan Communal Councils. Both were conceived by, are regulated by, and are paid for by, central government. Instead of being the voice of the people, as they pretend, they are the voice of government.

Mass democratic organisations have the potential to become autonomous organs of people’s power during a dual-power revolutionary transition of power from one class to another. Ward committees and the like, including the Venezuelan “Communes”, have no such potential.

The living realities of revolutionary Venezuela and of revolutionary South Africa invite objective and subjective comparisons, including in the concept of “delivery” and “beneficiaries”, which infest both of these societies and bring with them the temptation towards “clientelism”, paternalism and filialism.

Our challenge is to bring on something like a Revolutionary Subject of History to have its moment, and then to move off-stage, leaving after all not democracy, but freedom. Lenin’s question, “What Is To Be Done” is really about that, and Lenin’s book of that title, which we have quoted in the previous part of this course, is itself an Induction into the relation of the Party to the Class, and of the Vanguard to the Mass.

The next (second) item in this part will have to do with the ANC and its Leagues, and SANCO, while noting the mass-democratic women’s movement that could exist, but which has never taken off in South Africa. The third item will deal with the trade unions, including but not limited to our liberation-movement ally COSATU and its affiliates. The fourth and last item in this part will deal with the Young Communist League of South Africa.

19 May 2013

Revolutionary Events


Induction, Part 6c

Storming the Winter Palace

Revolutionary Events

The proposal below is given by Cde Tebello Radebe, Provincial Organizer of the SACP in Gauteng Province.

The linked document is an “Event Management Plan Toolkit”, supplied by Cde Tebello, which was written for Australian conditions, to cover all kinds of large events, but modeled on what they call “festivals”.

Communist University Input

This item is very welcome as part of this course. In the spirit of the preceding three items in this part, it is included under “fundraising”, or, we can say, “Fundraising and Events”.

Clearly, for the Party, there are hardly any events that can be funded from any prior general fund that the Party possesses. There are simply no available funds of that kind, even at National level.

Even worse, in fact potentially catastrophic for the Party, is the idea of holding an event and then raising funds to pay for it, afterwards. This is a recipe for bankruptcy.

Therefore, any event of any kind has to be conceived of as self-funding. The good part about this is that if we can in fact make a practice of self-contained and self-funding events, then the Party can do any number of things, and it can hope to generate surpluses, of greater amounts as time goes on and as we become more experienced.

We are not likely to start at the scale of the events described in the document, but this does not mean that the document is not suitable. Smaller events will have to cover all of the matters that are written larger and in more detail in the plans of large events. We can study at the big scale and scale down for our first attempts.

Proposed Event Execution  Framework Plan and Check List


Clearly there cannot be any debate around the fact that every event has to be run such that, at the bare minimum it meets, and or at best, surpasses all its intended objectives to be considered as a success. At the same time, it also goes without saying that it is for these reasons that all events have to be executed on the basis of a carefully planned, programmatic, systematic and scientific fashion which should at all times undermine any foreseeable unintended outcomes or mishaps.

It is in the context of all of the above that the following Event Execution Framework Plan and Checklist is proposed. This EEFPC cannot by any chance be considered to be a blueprint or complete manual for every event. It should be used mainly as a guideline to be informed and or adjusted to the “ dictates of the prevailing material conditions on the ground “.

1. Planning

1.1 Gauteng has to designate ranks or levels which indicate the resources and organisation necessary for specific events :  for instance –
     1.1.2  Events to be ranked Level 1 should be assigned to events of a National as well
      International significance in which HQ and National speakers HAVE to take part.
      Examples : The Chris Hani Commemoration, National events allocated to the
      Province by the CC – A National Congress ; A National SACP Anniversary etc

     1.1.3  Events to be ranked  Level 2  should be assigned to Provincial events in which
      HQ may be invited to play a role – such as to provide speakers and or resources.
      Examples : The Joe Slovo Commemoration ( NB this event and or similar others   
       May in time grow to  Level 1 Status) ; Provincial SACP Anniversaries; All    
     Provincial Rallies or marches eg. Release The Cuban 5 etc.

     1.1.3 Events to be ranked Level 3 should be assigned to District events in which both    
      Province and or HQ may be invited to play a role and or resources.
      Examples : The Yusuf Dadoo Commemoration ; All District Rallies ( inclusive of 
     Any campaign rallies or marches. Noting that any of these events may also in time be      
     Elevated to Levels 2 or 1).

     1.1.4  Events to be ranked Level 4 should be assigned to Sub -District events in where    
      Both the District and or Province may be invited to play a role and or resources.
      1.1.5  Events to be ranked Level 5 should be assigned to Branches in which     
      District, Province and or HQ may be invited to play a role and or resources.

1.2.1 Key planning for any event should start at the level of the branch as informed by the decisions of the upper structures with regard to the dates and venues. It goes without sayinh that the main Chris Hani and Joe Slovo events do not need reminders to anyone as  dates and venues are Gauteng.

1.2.3        The Branches should indicate to the sub-district or district the names and  phone numbers of  members who may be available to attend an event showing the signatures of such members. There should be a list for a weekday event and a weekend event. These list should be compared to the final list of  bus passengers on the day of the event to inform different assessments as well as  success rates or otherwise.
1.2.4        The Sub-Districts and Districts should compile consolidated indications of  possible attendance and to forward such to the Province. This step is ULTRA CRITICAL As it should set the parameters for all resources that may be required as well as to indicate the basis of what is doable, feasible or not and so on.

2. The Mobilisation Team  ( To assume the role of the Organising Committee )

2.1.1   To be ideally chaired by an elected executive member at both the District and
         Provincial Level.
2.1.2        An Operations Centre with full office infrastructure such as phones, email, 
copiers etc be established and controlled by an Operations Officer who may be
The same person as in 2.1.1 above or anyone else  to assume the same responsibility in the absence of the 2.1.1 person. All of the 2.1.3 role players below to report to and take instructions from the Operations Officer.
2.1.3        To be made up of all key role players who each contributes to and are accountable
To specific tasks – as far as possible preferably to submit written reports or plans:
Examples :  Fundraising ; Liaison with Authorities (Where legal – Emergency Provisions – Traffic etc  permissions  are necessary ) Media Liaison (Including Postering Teams); Transport Co-ordination ( including bus co-ordinators ); Marshalling Teams and their leaders or leader ; Branding ; Catering; Programme / Speakers etc. Above all effective and efficient Administration by an administrator or administration team – to ensure all bookings, orders and payments and records of payments are done in time. Any other additional tasks and roles may be added to the above if so identified.

3. Time Frames
3.1 As far as possible small Mobilisation Standing Teams be set up the annually to meet every three months to assess the state of readiness of all the forces necessary to run any event especially Levels 1 and  2 events.
3.2  The frequency of meetings of the bigger teams be decided from  3 months before the event and then accelerated accordingly as the event draws nearer.
3.3  “Debriefing” or assessment meetings be held soon after each event – to review every aspect of the event.                                                    

Tebello Radebe, 16 / 04 / 2013

17 May 2013



Induction, Part 6b


To repeat: The Party must live off the land, raising its means as it goes along.

In this item, we will look at who the people are in the community who have money.

Let us presume that the working class is organised, in trade unions, in the Party, and in other mass organisations. We have dealings with them through their mass organisations, as described earlier in this part. We ask them for support and we do get support from the Mass Democratic Movement. To txhe extent that they have structures at local level, we can do the same.

The other people who have money in the community, at local level, are the local business people. These are the petty-bourgoisie, and the locality is their home and the place where they are nurtured and reproduced.

A mature local communist party will be in touch with the petty-bourgeoisie, will know them personally, and will be known by them in a frank and friendly relationship.

The petty bourgeoisie is not the main class we represent, but nor is it the main class that we oppose. The communists have to be the leaders of the whole society. In the process of building socialism now, we have to be able to form alliances with other classes.

In the past, and in the liberation struggle in particular, some shopkeepers and small business producers did support the liberation movement. They have their own reasons for wanting to do so, which the communists should learn to understand. If we are not getting at least a small amount of support from them, we are probably not doing everything right.

Therefore the communists should not rule out approaching the local business for assistance. They should make a point of doing so, in order to learn what is possible in the relationship between themselves and this class that has its full field of operations in the locality.

We should begin to make it a habit, even if the beginnings of this relationship are slow and difficult. In the process we should listen carefully, so as to find out what this class of people, potential allies, think they can get from us. This may be advocacy, even a campaign, but it may also have an intellectual, or ideological nature. We should be ready to respond.