27 May 2015

Ward Committees, CPFs, SGBs, IDPs, LED

Induction, Part 9b

SA Government

Ward Committees, CPFs, SGBs, IDPs, LED

The Communist University course on “Induction” is one of the most voluminous to date by the number of texts used, and in this item today there are four, which come on top of the three texts already used in this 9th part of the course.

In part 7 we have already looked at the problematic question of the Communes and the Communal Councils of Venezuela, asking, in effect, who exercises agency in such structures? Is it the people who are co-opted into them? Or is it the government department “of the People’s Power” that co-opts them, and funds them, that calls the shots?

We then looked at the specifically South African mass democratic organisations, the ANC, the Leagues, COSATU, SANCO, the YCL and others, and in the following Part 8 we introduced the South African “Local State” and the mechanisms of voting for the state democracy, organised by the Demarcations Board and by the Independent Electoral Commission (the IEC).

In this part, so far, we have looked at the Party (SACP) and the Liberation Movement (ANC) as components of an alliance and of a broader local network, held together by the cadres of the SACP and the ANC. Both SACP and ANC express such a vision, in the documents we shared.

Minister of the People's Power

Now we return to the problematic that was set out in the first item of Part 7, in connection with the interview of Reinaldo Iturriza, Venezuelan Minister of the People's Power for the Communes and Social Protection. But this time we look at it in terms of South Africa, and South African politicians and intellectuals. We begin with Professor Steven Friedman, who wrote, among other things in the attached article (see attached), prior to the 2011 municipal elections, the following:

“... [Ward] committees were established to enable ward councillors to discover what local voters want. They have never done that... they remain part of the problem, because committees chosen by politicians or small groups will never give grassroots citizens a voice... there is only one way of asking everyone in a ward which candidate they want ‐ it is called an election.” (Business Day, 4 May 2011)

Friedman was responding to a radio discussion featuring the then Deputy Co‐operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Yunus Carrim, who, Friedman said, “made it clear he understands the problem”, but who was nevertheless determined to persist with the ward committees.

We, too, can see that Carrim understands the problem, from the lecture that Carrim gave the following day (5 May 2011). It is the second attached document. It concludes with a section headed ‘Towards a Dialectic of “Invited” and “Invented” Spaces’ (see page 19 of the booklet). Yunus Carrim in this section is reacting to a publication of the NGO-sponsored “GGLN”, which, in 135 pages of ostensible examination of the “community voice”, treats “party-political” voting democracy as an alien intrusion. “Vote” is just another word for “voice”, by the way, but the GGLN is not concerned about that. For them, the second guess is always better.

The GGLN document sets up an argument between “invitation” (i.e. co-option) and “invention” (i.e. agency) that is an echo of John Turner’s question, “Who Decides?” Carrim suggests being “dialectical”, not so as to resolve the contradiction, or go forward with it, but only to evade it. He says that dialectical means complementary. It’s a pity that our comrade would want to sacrifice such a profound concept for the sake of making such a small gain, over so trivial an opposition.

Actually, Yunus Carrim, in this moment at least, was more similar to the NGOs of the GGLN than Friedman was, because Friedman is committed to democratic elections. Friedman is not behaving, like the “GGLN” is, as if 1994 means nothing, and as if the vote is now something contemptible, to be second-guessed by all possible means.

Yunus Carrim says he understands that 1994 was a product of mass popular agency, but that for him it could just as well mean that the “invited” space of co-option, such as ward committees, was the fitting outcome of the liberation struggle. See if you can follow his argument.

A week later, Yunus Carrim responded to Friedman’s article, but only managed to dig himself deeper into the hole he was digging before (see the third attached document).

Minister’s Power

Carrim kept pressing on after that, and he did manage, as he indicated he would in this May, 2011 article (“The ANC’s 2012 Conference will provide guidelines on improving ward committees and other forms of community participation”) to get an endorsement of ward committees inserted into the ANC resolution on Legislature and Governance passed at the 53rd ANC National Conference in Mangaung, in December 2012 (fourth attachment).

There it remains. As political and mass democratic organisations, locally, we have to live with this incubus, this cuckoo in the nest, called the ward committee. It takes away our cadres, and it creates a track of decision-making that is beyond the reach and out of sight of the voter, and of the mass organisations.

What about Community-Police Forums (CPFs), School Governing Bodies (SGBs), and Integrated Development Plans (IDPs)? What about “Local Economic Development” (LED)? The Party should try to know what all of these bodies are doing, and what the Ward Committee is doing.

What is dangerous to political life is the removal of any part of it to a secluded area where it is no longer part of the common polity. It is not the fact that these actors are in the field that is wrong. But if they do their business in secret, over the heads of the common people, that is wrong. That is one thing that makes people very angry.

“Nothing about us without us” is a good slogan, with South African characteristics.

The Party in the localities must be an agent of transparency, including with its own activities. Trust the people; “The masses can never be wrong,” said Oliver Reginald Tambo, meaning that if we are standing outside the people, accusing them, then right as we may think ourselves to be, but we are out of the game.

Thusong Service Centres are one-stop municipal service access points dotted around a municipality or a metro. This model is how government can usefully be present in the localities, with open access and practical rights available on demand.

·        The above is to introduce these original reading-texts:

26 May 2015

ANC Branches, Zones and Regions

Induction, Part 9a

ANC Branches, Zones and Regions

ANC Branch Manual, Part 2

In this item we will use an unedited portion from the full ANC Branch Manual (attached).

All of the 24 pages of the attached booklet are of use. SACP members need to read and become familiar with them all.

Particular attention could be given to the final part, starting on page 23, called “Member induction, education and training”. Ask yourself, how clearly is the distinction made between Induction and Politics?

Note that it says:

“Set up a branch Political Education Committee. Identify the areas in which branch members would benefit from political education. Choose debates on theory (such as Strategy and Tactics) on strategy (such as how to mobilise certain communities); discussions on organisational skills (such as how to run an effective project); or training on practical campaign skills (such as writing a pamphlet or preparing a budget).

“Draw up a programme of political education, ensuring a balance between the different areas and forms of political education and skills training. Liaise with regional and local structures of the Alliance and MDM to ensure coordination of programmes.”

This tells us that the ANC is here drawing distinction between what they call theory, strategy, organisational skills and practical skills, while confirming that all are necessary.

It also tells us that the ANC is in principle ready to combine and share with the Alliance and MDM in a complementary way and to avoid duplication in the matter of political education. The existence of Voting District Branches of the SACP will assist this to happen, opening up the prospect of joint programmes of political education which can also draw in COSATU members in an area, zone or ward, depending on what works locally.

The existence of the Branch Manual itself tells that the ANC wants to “induct” in the sense of making people aware of all aspects of the organisation, as early as possible in their ANC life.

Please study it well, comrades, including the other two parts.

·        The above is to introduce an original reading-text: ANC Branch Manual, 2010, Part 2 of 3.

25 May 2015

SACP VD Branches as Keystones

Induction, Part 9

Lusaka Branch of the SACP

SACP VD Branches as Keystones

The branch, and its members, is the most important part of the ANC – ANC Branch Manual

The basic structure of the SACP is the branch – SACP Constitution

The SACP does not have a Branch Manual, as such. The SACP Constitution, which we have already dealt with, describes the branch in a general way.

So for this item, we will give as text the Umsebenzi Online of 14 February 2013, which, among other things, places the Voting District Branches of the SACP in a clear frame of reference relative both to local mass democratic organisation, and to local state institutions. In the main “Red Alert” article of that issue, Dr Blade Nzimande, the General Secretary of the Party, wrote:

“...particular responsibility rests with the voting district (VD)-based branches of the SACP. These structures are closest to the households in our various communities, and the SACP is deliberately restructuring itself to get closer to our communities. We also expect our branch cadres to actively participate in all the sectoral structures at local level, and also ensure that the issue of women’s struggles and dignity is placed at the centre of the activities of these structures. This is in fact the vanguard role that the SACP branch can play at local level.”

While the article is primarily about the struggle against violent abuse of women, yet in passing it makes a very good, concise declaration of the responsibilities and tasks of the relatively-new Voting District branches of the SACP. Dr Nzimande continues:

“The history of the struggles against women’s oppression as well as our own history of the struggle against apartheid tells us that this is a struggle that will be won through hard work on the ground amongst our communities.”

And earlier in the article he says:

“...the struggle to defeat violence against women and children... will in the end be won in organized struggles, led by the working class, for the radical transformation of our socio‐economic terrain. But even this struggle on its own will not succeed, unless premised on the organization of women as part of the overall struggle for radical socio‐economic transformation.”

Each struggle, like the women’s struggle, has its specific characteristics, but there are general requirements as well, including mass organisation, and including the connectedness of “all the sectoral structures at local level”. The connection is assisted by “the vanguard role that the SACP branch can play at local level”. This defines the role of the Voting District Branch.

Main text: ANC Branch Manual, Part 1

In this work of connecting, it is of extreme importance that the communist cadres understand very well how people in other organisations think about themselves and about the aims of their own organisations.

Therefore it is doubly appropriate to use here, the first part of the ANC Branch Manual. It is not only a generally good guide to organisation at the branch level, and therefore instructive to communists; but also, communists do not have a monopoly on theory, and especially they do not have a monopoly on experience.

If the Chinese doctrine of “the mass line” has any meaning for us, it must be this: that the masses have a very strong sense of who they are, and what they want, and the communists will get nowhere if they do not thoroughly understand the masses’ conception of themselves.

This is why the SACP cadres must be “more ANC than the ANC”, just like the late General Secretary of the SACP and Treasurer-General of the ANC Cde Moses Kotane was.


“On Monday the 10th August 2009, Lusaka Branch of the SACP held a Lekgotla a normal gathering of the branch that is convened after the AGM. The Lekgotla takes a form of induction to the general members of the branch and develops a program for the year. The lekgotla ends with a walk by all members and a door to door for 30 minutes in the community, asking community members about their priority needs. Luckily I managed to capture the walk for history, using the advantage that technology comes with. Viva the South African Communist Party Viva!!!”

Diteko Moreotsenye

·        The above is to introduce an original reading-texts: ANC Branch Manual, 2010, Part 1 of 3, (or alternatively the CU Short Version, in full, as attached) and Umsebenzi Online, Mobilising against violence on women, 2013.

21 May 2015

More on Elections

Induction, Part 8c

From the IEC web site

More on Elections

Above is a graphic representation of the voting process in a voting station on the day of an election, whether National and Provincial, or Municipal.

Local Authority (Municipal) Elections

Local Authority elections are held every five years in South Africa, on a different cycle to that of the National and Provincial elections. The next ones are expected in 2016.

Councillors are elected by a hybrid system that is half Proportional Representation (PR) and half “First Past the Post” by ward constituency.

So, your ward has an elected councillor, like all the other wards; and then there are an equal number in total of “PR” councillors. These are appointed by the different parties according to the proportions of votes cast, by party.

In South Africa, councillors are salaried and are encouraged to regard themselves as professionals, with skills and capacities. They receive training. One of the consequences is that they develop a second loyalty. The councillors may begin to regard themselves as being representatives of government to the people. Whereas the local branch of the ANC wants the councillor to be their representative, and the people in general expect to be represented by those they elect.

This contradiction is a natural development, given the nature of bourgeois democracy. It causes problems that can be destructive, if not anticipated, and managed.

Once again on Registration

The attached document is a reproduction of the IEC web site page on registration as a candidate in a Municipal election.

Some other pages with instructions on registration are the following:

·        The above is to introduce an original reading-text: How to contest municipal elections.

20 May 2015

National and Provincial Elections

Induction, Part 8b

1994 Ballot Paper

National and Provincial Elections

The National General Elections take place in South Africa every five years. The most recent one took place in 2014, and the previous one took place in 2009. In both cases the ANC was elected with a near 2:1 majority over all other parties, under the leadership of ANC President Jacob Zuma, who was afterwards duly elected to the Presidency of the country.

One thing that parties can do, before the election campaign starts, is to encourage voters to register. Voter registration drives are accepted as a way for parties to begin work, without officially campaigning.

The National and Provincial representatives, both to Parliament and to Provincial Legislatures, are elected by a fully Proportional Representation (PR) system. Each party has a list of candidates. When the votes have all been counted, the proportion received by each party is calculated, and members taken from each party list, in proportion to the votes cast for those parties.

Subsequently, if Members of Parliament (MPs), or Members of Provincial Legislatures (MPLs) cease for any reason to be such, they are replaced by others selected by that party.

Page from an IEC comic used in the 2009 national elections

This system is unlike the “First Past the Post” system of representation that is used in many other countries, where members are elected by each constituency on the basis of a simple majority in that constituency.

The SACP does not in principle reject the idea of standing candidates for elections, and it used to do so, as the CPSA, before it was banned in 1950. Since 1994 the SACP has not contested any elections at National, Provincial or Municipal level. SACP members are individual members of the ANC and many of them have been chosen at different levels to represent the ANC.

·        The above is to introduce an original reading-text: Independent Electoral Commission, How do I register?

19 May 2015

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 elections, which will be the municipal, local authority elections, are scheduled to be held in 2016.

But the election results in 2016 will depend upon the work that is done to revive the ANC Branches.

This is the view that was taken in the attached article, written very soon after the 2014 National and Provincial Elections.

Work for the 2016 municipal elections has already begun.

·        The above is to introduce an original reading-text: New Age Article on the 2014 election, Tweedie, 2014

18 May 2015

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.

·        The above is to introduce an original reading-text: ANC Branch Manual, 2010, Part 3 of 3.

14 May 2015

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 is no exploitation of one person or group by another.

The YCLSA recognises the South African Communist Party (SACP) as the political party of socialism in our country and 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 YCLSA shall:

(a) Serve as a preparatory school of the SACP, and shall rally young people behind the programme and policies of the Party and lead them in the struggle to advance youth development as an integral part of human and societal development.

(b) Strive to develop itself as a leading political force of the South African youth that derives guidance from Marxism-Leninism under the vanguard leadership of the SACP, and promote the interests of young people in the struggle to advance, deepen, defend, take responsibility for and complete the national democratic revolution which represents the shortest, most direct and suited road to socialism in the specific conditions of our society. 

(c) Strive to be the leading force among young people in the struggle for the achievement of socialism which represents a transitional society towards the realisation of complete political liberation and universal emancipation of both human society and nature under the ultimate goal of a classless communist society. 

(d) Struggle for the elimination of all forms of oppression, discrimination based on arbitrary grounds, and economic exploitation, and shall fight against capitalism, its highest stage imperialism and latest forms of manifestation. 

(e) Strive to develop communist, working class political and moral convictions and imbue the spirit of collectivism in our members in particular and young people in general. The YCLSA aims to achieve this by among others organising, educating and mobilising its members in particular and young people in general in support of its aims and objectives and taking active involvement in the day to day struggles of the working people and the youth. 

(f) Reject and fight against crime, corruption, the abuse of women, children, substances, drugs and alcohol.

(g) Fight for the equality of all young people, and against racism and patriarchy in all forms of their manifestation.

(h) Promote social, recreational and cultural activities among young people.

(i) Promote the understanding among the youth that the working class with a vanguard party is the only class capable of leading the people to socialism and that it is under socialism where for the first time it will be possible to achieve a better life for all. 

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.

·        The above is to introduce an original reading-text: YCLSA Constitution, 2013.

13 May 2015

The Movement: 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 originally being prepared, the COSATU-affiliated National Union of Mineworkers were 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.

·        The above is to introduce an original reading-text: NUM Post Central Committee Press Briefing, 26 May 2013.