Vol 10 No 28

30 July - 5 August 2010

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

Bram Fischer, Sydney and Felicia Kentridge
Lives connected in the ties of solidarity and struggle

Andries NelWe welcome the decision of the General Council of the Bar to recognise this stalwart of our struggle with the Sydney and Felicia Kentridge Award. This represents another step in healing the wounds and righting the injustices of the past. >>> MORE

Readers Forum
Back to culture basics

Lebogang NawaThe ANC needs to pause and take stock on what it needs to do to ensure that it does not exacerbate culture degeneration. It needs to look at its cultural origins for inspiration and also give real meaning to resolutions it passes. >>> MORE

Open discussion "Media Appeals Tribunal" - Let's discuss
"Differentiate between media freedom and commercial agenda"

Lumko MtimdeThe South African Constitution lays a foundation for a transformational trajectory aimed at correcting the imbalances of the past. Accordingly, transformation is an imperative critical to the sustainability of every sector, be it mining, education, media and broadcasting, sport, etc. >>> MORE

Statement of the National Executive Committee

What media saysThe ANC NEC held an ordinary NEC meeting from 22-23 July 2010. The NEC mainly focused on preparations for the National General Council (NGC) to be held in September and examined urgent issues that required decisions. >>> MORE
 

Bram Fischer, Sydney and Felicia Kentridge

Lives connected in the ties of solidarity and struggle

Andries NelThe life and struggle of Bram Fischer brings to mind the words used by the Nobel Laureate, Nadine Gordimer, to describe her best friend Bettie du Toit, also a close comrade of Bram Fischer, as, "one of those ... who surmounted the prejudices of their frontier background and entered the kingdom of a broad humanity."

In his upbringing, Bram Fischer considered himself an Afrikaner and pursued Afrikaner Nationalism, until his personal experiences changed the course of his life into a communist and a champion for a non-racial democratic dispensation.

The reasons why Bram Fischer broke so decisively with white privilege, and the easy road to power that he could have enjoyed, were both complex and simple: Complex in his scholarly and meticulous argumentation of why apartheid legislation was legally flawed, and yet so simple in the basic principles of an unwavering commitment to equality and justice that informed all his thinking and way of life.

After having been given a draconian life sentence which, in the hateful words of Jimmy Kruger, was to be enforced, 'until his last breath.' Bram Fischer was never a broken prisoner of apartheid. He remained throughout a triumphant prisoner of hope until he was released in the care of his brother to die of cancer in 1975.

It was in the manner that he lived his life outside, as well as inside prison, that also teaches and continues to challenge all of us today. Former President Nelson Mandela outlined some of these challenges at the launch of the Bram Fischer Memorial Trust at Grey College on 28 November 1997, at the dawn of our democracy, when he said:

"Now that we have won the freedom and the democracy for which Bram Fischer gave so much, South Africans are no longer confronted by such deeply painful and costly decisions.

"We have a constitution, as the fundamental law of our land, which entrenches our people's democratic ideals, and we have institutions to ensure that our legal system does not deviate from the principles of justice.

"All of us are now free to think of ourselves as South Africans and members of a particular community without any tension or conflict; part of a nation that is strong and united in its diversity.

"Great progress has been made in reconciling those who were once in conflict, and the Free State has set a shining example in this regard. The basic amenities of life are beginning to become accessible to the majority to whom they were denied.

"But we have only made a start. Our hard-won rights will remain empty shells, and our democracy fragile, if they do not bring real improvements in the daily lives of all our people.

"Oor die afgelope drie jaar het ons die grondslae gele vir daardie verbetering in lewensgehalte; om nou suksesvol daarop voort te bou, sal 'n volgehoue poging van - en vennootskap tussen - die sektore van ons samelewing vereis. En dit sal oor baie jare volgehou moet word." ("Over the past three years we have laid the foundation for that improvement in the quality of life, to continue successfully on this path, will require a sustained effort from - and partnership - between all sectors of our society. And it will have to be sustained over many years. ")
It will also require a concerted effort to transform our legal system. It is the legacy that we to nurture, that access to justice must not be the preserve of the rich and elite, but must ensure equal protection and benefit of the law for all its citizenry.
We welcome the decision of the General Council of the Bar to recognise this stalwart of our struggle with the Sydney and Felicia Kentridge Award. This represents another step in healing the wounds and righting the injustices of the past.

It is shameful that, despite the fact that, before his arrest, Bram Fischer had been the longest serving member of the Johannesburg Bar Council, and had served a term as its chairperson, his colleagues applied for him to be struck off the roll of advocates in 1965 for conduct "unbefitting a member of the Bar and the Society" after he skipped bail during his trial on charges of contravening the Suppression of Communism Act. This application was opposed on his behalf by Advocates Sydney Kentridge and Arthur Chaskalson.

In 2003 Bram Fischer became the first South African ever to be posthumously reinstated to the Bar in terms of the Reinstatement of Enrolment of Deceased Legal Practitioners Act. The ruling reversed one of the many shameful episodes in the history of South Africa's legal fraternity, an episode that demonstrated how far the practice of law was removed from the practice of justice.

Sydney Kentridge, a member of the Order of the Baobab in Gold, is celebrated as one of the most brilliant advocates of generations at the Bar. He went from being a soldier in the Second World War to being a fighter at the Johannesburg Bar in 1949 where his early victory on behalf of the trade unionist Solly Sachs laid the path for work on behalf of many anti-apartheid activists.

He was a member of the team headed by Issie Maisels and Bram Fischer to defend the leaders of the Congress Alliance in the Treason Trial where he led Madiba's evidence in the trial. While acknowledged as a giant, the significance of his partnership with Felicia Kentridge has always loomed even larger for all who know them. Her passion for justice, her creativity and unflagging energy led her to propose the establishment of the first public interest law centre, the Legal Resources Centre - which opened its doors in 1979.

As one of the two "moving spirits" in the Centre (the other being the former Chief Justice, Arthur Chaskalson), Felicia Kentridge made a huge contribution to the promotion of access to justice for people from poor and marginalized communities. In seeking to use the law strategically and fight cases whose consequences affect the lives of thousands of people, she promoted use of the law as an instrument for transformation.

It is deeply moving that the ties of solidarity and struggle that connected the lives of Sydney and Felicia Kentridge with those of Bram and Molly Fischer, bring them together again - this time in defiance of the unjust laws of nature that divide the living and the dead.

Bram Fischer would also, no doubt, have regarded the bestowing of the Sydney and Felicia Kentridge Award on him as incomplete without a concomitant commitment on the part of those conferring it, to do all in their power to promote access to justice for all, to realise the vision of our Constitution of justice and human dignity, and to be part of the, "volgehoue poging van - en vennootskap tussen - die sektore van ons samelewing", that Nelson Mandela spoke of in his tribute to Bram Fischer.

In short, he would have wanted a commitment from all of us join hands in the struggle to create a society in which all may enter the kingdom of a broad and common humanity.

>> Andries Nel is National Co-ordinator: Legal and Monitoring and Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development. This is an edited extract of his address on the occasion of the posthumous conferring of the Sydney and Felicia Kentridge Award on Bram Fisher at AGM of the General Council of the Bar


Readers Forum

Back to culture basics

Lebogang NawaOn 7 July 2010 the media captured the National Chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC), Mam' uBaleka Mbete, expressing dismay about appalling conditions of ANC-related facilities in the Free State such as the Bram Fischer House. Her distress was visibly evident on television when she questioned why the Fischer House was ulitised for reasons not related to the person after whom it was named nor at the least about the ANC.

It is suggested that the conditions referred to indeed mirror the lackadaisical attitude that the ANC has shown on cultural matters over time that it now permeates through almost all aspects of South African life.

The ANC and cultural stalwart Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile once wrote that 'the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) remains somewhat like a tolerated, mischievous step-child of the movement… even more perplexing, at times very infuriating, when you consider that Sol Plaatjie, the first Secretary General of the ANC was... a leading artist and cultural worker with a keen sense of social responsibility.'

Kgositsile should be understood within the context of tracing how culture was looked at by the ANC from an organisational perspective from its exile days. Kgositsile indicates that "it took the ANC until 1982, a period of seventy years, to establish the DAC; and that was after the unarguable success of the historic Culture and Resistance festival earlier that year… Even then it was a kind of compromise, for some years it remained a sub-department of the Department. And after moving back into the country the leadership wasted time debating whether there was still a need for this department to exist.'

Against this background, Kgositsile indicates, it became even difficult to request funding for culture from the organisation whilst in exile. 'The former treasurer-general, Cde Thomas Nkobi, would often say the organisation is struggling to raise funds for serious things. People are dying here and you have the nerve to request funds for entertainment', quipped Kgositsile. At that time, cultural activists within the organisation were trying to sustain structures such as the Amandla Cultural Ensemble which later came to play an instrumental role in isolating apartheid South Africa from the world through the cultural boycott.

Fast forward to preparation for governance upon unbanning post 1990. At that time the ANC was expected to set the agenda in terms of crafting new legislations and institutional arrangements such as the setting up of governance structures in terms of culture. The organisation regrettably lost track on the road to cultural renaissance as a result of allowing certain debates to perpetuate the notion of culture as "entertainment" and, as such, an after-thought to reconstruction and development of the country. Below follows a submission to substantiate the claim.

Firstly, the ANC failed to prevailed over a heated internal debate ignited by the article, "Preparing ourselves to govern", by Albie Sachs. The paper can be summarised in two parts. The first part, which also raises two distinct points, argued against culture being used as a "weapon of struggle" whereas the second part - which raised three distinct points - was his "proportion" that "Constitutional Guidelines should not be applied to the sphere of culture [my emphasis!]".

In the first proportion, Sachs saw, in the first instance, "this affirmation (of culture as a weapon of struggle) not only banal and devoid of real content but, actually wrong and potentially harmful" as it could result "in an impoverishment of our art." Secondly, he knelled the point when effectively persuaded the ANC to adopt his preferred particular approach to culture by arguing that the ANC should not be seen as 'the only voice in the anti-apartheid struggle or that it will be the only voice in post-apartheid South Africa…' In that regard '…we exercise true leadership by being non-hegemonic…by showing people that we are fighting not to impose a view upon them but to give them the right to choose the kind of society they want and the kind of government they want'.

During the debate, some scholars such as Grundy feared or rather predicted that to emerge from the discourse would be a situation whereby 'government may take a hands-off attitude towards the art, thereby allowing practitioners rather than politicians to lobby and try to steer policy without partisan or governmental hindrance, thus opening flood gates of competition among groups or factions to press government to adopt their vision of the art and their preferred policies and projects'. True to this prediction, the country witnessed a dilution or erosion of ANC vision or rhetoric within its legislation, starting with the Constitution, criticised in some quarters as not African in character.

The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), as a formative source for a new development paradigm in the new South Africa, is one of the many casualties of the emerging liberal anti-culture philosophy that emanated from the discourse referred to earlier. At its inception, the RDP policy document devoted a whole lengthy section on Arts and Culture under the theme, "Developing our human resources".

This section raised twenty-two salient points on culture, one of which was its role in development. The section reads thus: 'the RDP arts and culture policies aim to [amongst others]…link culture firmly to areas of national priorities such as health, housing, tourism, etc., to ensure that culture is entrenched as a fundamental component of development…'

But by the time the RDP document evolved to the White Paper status, the entire submission on arts and culture had totally disappeared from the statute. Thus, South Africa's new development trajectory was calibrated without culture as a compass or catalyst as originally envisaged.

It can be argued that lack of confidence in culture as central part of the national democratic revolution could also be attributed to the manner in which the new government set up structures for culture and how it deployed personnel. In this regard, culture became pawn for trade-off with other political parties for convenience.

Not only was a member of the Inkatha Freedom Party, Dr. Ben Ngubane, appointed as the first Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, this was to be followed by the appointment of a high profiled Azanian People's Organisation leader, Prof. Itumeleng Mosala, as the related department's Director-General in 2002.

Since its inception, the performance of the ministry and related department has been less than satisfactory particularly on matters of culture that were or are still supposed to contribute towards the restoration of the human dignity stripped off the masses of the people by colonialism and apartheid. On this count, South Africa is still stuck with geographic place names that celebrate the conquest of imperialism over Africa, rendering its culture sub-human.

At this stage, the ANC needs to pause and take stock on what it needs to do to ensure that it does not exacerbate the situation as witnessed by Mam' uMbete in the Free State and felt everywhere else in the country. It needs to look at its cultural origins for inspiration and also give real meaning to resolutions it passes so as to inculcate the culture of political consciousness of its membership so as to make it (culture) a catalyst and/or integral part of development and service delivery.

The 2007 Polokwane Conference resolutions on arts and culture could indeed be of great help for the attainment of the afore-mentioned objective.

>> Lebogang Nawa is the poet, author, scholar, activist and communicator


Open discussion "Media Appeals Tribunal" - Let's discuss

"Differentiate between media freedom and commercial agenda"

Lumko MtimdeThe South African Constitution lays a foundation for a transformational trajectory aimed at correcting the imbalances of the past. Accordingly, transformation is an imperative critical to the sustainability of every sector, be it mining, education, media and broadcasting, sport, etc. There should thus be no "holy" cows. We have seen the fruits brought about by the transformational agenda in the broadcasting industry since 1994. We now have an independent regulatory mechanism for broadcasting protected in the Constitution Act of 1996, and an industry structure of broadcasting characterized by - a policy maker, regulator and operators as well as a three tier broadcasting system comprising of public, private/commercial and community broadcasting services. We have a Code of Conduct for Broadcasting Services Regulation prescribed by ICASA, the regulator and adopted by a self-regulating body, BCCSA. The BCCSA is recognised by ICASA in terms of the Electronic Communications Act. As a result of ongoing commitment to transformation, there is now a diversity of voices, views and opinions expressed in broadcasting; giving real meaning to media freedom. Almost all South African languages are reflected in radio and television. There are broadcasting services in almost every district municipality, ownership and control of broadcasting is in numerous and diverse hands, reflective of the South African society.

Sadly, the same can however not be said regarding print media in our country. Even so, the legislative framework that protects, promotes and guarantees media freedom is protected by our Constitution Act of 1996, with many laws that gives meaning and effect to it like the ICASA Act, MDDA Act, Electronic Communications Act, Access to Information Act, Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, etc.. Further, South Africa is part of the community of nations, which through the United Nations (UN), at its General Assembly in 1993, in line with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights resolved to protect and promote media freedom. This followed the 26th session of the UNESCO General Conference in 1991, which adopted the Windhoek Declaration, a statement of principles calling for a free, independent and pluralistic media throughout the world. The Declaration affirms that a free press is essential to the existence of democracy and a fundamental human goal.

The ANC at its 51st and 52nd Congresses (in Stellenbosch, 2002 and Polokwane, 2007 respectively) reaffirmed and committed itself to the principles of media freedom, to defend and protect media freedom. We should always remember that media freedom is for all not just for media practitioners. We must thus support and create an enabling environment for media development and diversity, strive to ensure that every citizen has access to a range of diverse media, available in languages of their choice, and ensure that rural communities have access to all media including television services. Most importantly we must ensure accurate, factual, free and fair journalism and that our media is transformed to reflect South Africa in every respect.

It is against this background that we must participate in the debate dating back to the ANC National Policy Conference held in Midrand, Ghallager Estate in 2007. A recommendation for the consideration of establishing a Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT), emanated from this meeting and was adopted in the 52nd Congress of the ANC held in Polokwane, December 2007. Following this conference, from 2008 to 2009, South Africa started debating this resolution through many academic fora, civil society, the media, etc. The debate on this issue was in most cases healthy and quite robust. The ANC leadership took centre stage in clarifying the thinking behind this proposal. It is true that elections in 2009 shifted the focus from this debate. This, however did not suggest the 52nd Congress Resolution on the MAT was laid to rest, as some analysts indicate. On the contrary, internal processes of the ANC have continued fleshing the concept leading to the preparation of a discussion paper which will be discussed at its National General Council to be held in Durban, in September 2010. Therefore, the suggestion by some analysts that recent media reports on Minister's expenses, the "bribery" of a journalist, etc. are the basis for the revival of this debate, are untrue. However, when the ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe and the Spokesperson, Jackson Mthembu recently referred to current examples of questionable media judgment, they were not advocating for the revival of the debate on the Media Appeals Tribunal but rather highlighting potential examples of questionable journalism and perhaps the promotion of commercial imperatives at the expense of media freedom.

It is important to emphatically note that the principle of media freedom enshrined in our Constitution and international best practice, does not promote irresponsible reporting, gutter and sensational journalism but rather fairness and factual reporting. To support this point one does not have to go much further than, the very Press Council Code of Conduct (Code of Ethics for Journalists) which promotes responsible journalism, fairness, accurate and factual reporting. Thus one can only conclude that the rush to publish information without establishing all sides or facts of a story is not driven by a commitment to media freedom but rather a blatantly commercial agenda. It is thus not correct and fair to then, when irresponsible reporting and gutter journalism are challenged, to say that media freedom is under threat.

A press statement issued recently by the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) noted that there is a genuine concern from both sides of the argument for a Media Appeals Tribunal. Some analysts have also echoed this sentiment. I personally agree with the above statement and propose that as South Africans we engage on this proposal, constructively interrogate its objectives, debate implementation modalities and together find a solution that will serve public interest. Meaningful engagement in this case shall be inclusive of ordinary citizens, women, youth, rural communities, the working class and the poor. Let all citizens participate in the decision-making and enjoy the fruits of media freedom.

Let us revisit the ANC 52nd Congress resolution, which states, "The ANC's commitment to media freedom is well known and entrenched. This principle is reflected in the Constitution Act of 1996. The ANC's commitment to freedom of expression in society, including the media, is located within the context of the Constitution of the Republic. These rights need to be weighed against other constitutional rights, such as the right to human dignity and privacy. …… With particular reference to the print media, the ANC notes that the current form of self regulation as expressed in the form of the Press Ombudsman/ Press Council is not adequate to sufficiently protect the rights of the individual citizens, community and society as a whole....Press freedom is an important human right enshrined in our constitutional dispensation, which must be protected and promoted. It is important to note that rights go hand in hand with responsibility hence the need for a balanced, independent mechanism to adjudicate complaints between the media and society......The ANC must promote the school of thought which articulates media freedom within the context of the South African Constitution, in terms of which the notion that the right to freedom of expression should not be elevated above other equally important rights such as the right to privacy and more important rights and values such as human dignity......The Conference adopts the recommendation of the Policy conference that the establishment of a MAT be investigated. It accordingly endorses that such investigation be directed at examining the principle of a MAT and the associated modalities for implementation. The Conference notes that the creation of a MAT would strengthen, complement and support the current self-regulatory institutions (Press Ombudsman/Press Council) in the public interest. This discourse on the need for a MAT should be located within a proper context. It has to be understood as an initiative to strengthen the human rights culture embodied in the principles of our constitution (Constitution Act of 1996) and an effort to guarantee the equal enjoyment of human rights by all citizens. It particularly relates to the balancing of human rights in line with section 36 of the Constitution of the Republic. This especially relates to the need to balance the right to freedom of expression, freedom of the media, with the right to equality, to privacy and human dignity for all. The investigation should consider the desirability that such a MAT be a statutory institution, established through an open, public and transparent process, and be made accountable to Parliament....."

It is very clear from the above factual reflection of the resolution, that the objectives of this proposal are to:

  1. Strengthen, complement and support the current self-regulatory mechanism.
  2. Promote media freedom for all.
  3. Discourage irresponsible and misleading reporting, gutter and sensational journalism.
  4. Put public interest before commercial interests.
  5. Promote the right to equality, to privacy and to human dignity for all.
  6. Provide tough action in case of malicious, defamatory and misleading irresponsible reporting.

Nowhere in the proposal is there a threat to media freedom, a suggestion for a pre-publication censorship or any other unconstitutional action. The proposed Media Appeals Tribunal clearly will not be state-controlled and will not be a pre-publication censorship mechanism, instead it is proposed as an institution to oversee complaints lodged against those who may violate the Press Council Code of Conduct for citizens who may not be satisfied will a ruling of the Press Ombudsman and Press Council. Further, to this, there is clearly no requirement for any amendment of the Constitution Act of 1996, as a result of the establishment of the Media Appeals Tribunal. I am sure both sides of the argument fundamentally have the interest of the public at heart. Let us therefore all focus on effective solutions regarding this matter.

An argument that suggest that an Independent Body acting without fear, favor or prejudice, as suggested through the ANC resolution, will institute actions against media players that factually, correctly and fairly report on the wrong doings of the Government, in the public interest, is unfounded. Perhaps, before dismissing this argument, it could be that, it is premised from "real experience" from its sponsors, regarding some practices of the self-regulatory mechanism, which is wholly funded by those whom complaints have been lodged against. If so, please share with us such experience. With respect to independent state institutions, the contrary is our experience. Where such would happen, the courts have always defended the independent organs of state. Yes, individuals may be tempted to tow the line of some political masters, this talks to the integrity of those individuals, but the institutions independence is always protected by the law and the Courts. There is a lot of jurisprudence in this regard. Therefore, such a perception is baseless, if it arises, it can be managed through our laws.

Regarding the possible way forward, South Africa should welcome the proposal and debate its modality such that the outcome serves the intended objectives. Secondly, if there are other alternative interventions that can achieve the objectives and allay the fears of some analysts then let us make those proposals. In my discussion with some experts in the field, some suggestions have included, not enacting a new law and not establishing the Media Appeals Tribunal, instead strengthening the Press Ombudsman through reviewing the Press Council Code and ensuring that stringent sentences are imposed on print media that continues to be found guilty of irresponsible reporting and violating the Press Council Code, amend the MDDA Act, to include the intended objectives:

Establish a Legal Defense Fund to defend ordinary citizens (not media) against irresponsible reporting by the print media, Establish a Board Committee responsible for hearing complaints against the print media and then decide on financially supporting the case against the referred media, initially through the Press Ombudsman's process and then through a Court process where necessary. Provide in the MDDA Act for a prescribed contribution by the media to the Agency.

Another view was that, the law should only provide for the appointment of the Press Ombudsman and Press Council through an open, transparent, participatory Parliamentary process and leave its operations to continue as they are currently.

The above compromise suggestions could be of help to the discourse. It ensures the citizens' ability to exercise their rights is strengthened through legal support, strengthening of the Press Ombudsman, avoidance of the deployment of additional resources by the public purse to establish new institutions and provides certainty in respect of the fear of threat to media freedom. Submissions by those who support this proposal and any other alternative proposals should be forwarded to the investigative process when that process is undertaken. I am sure the ANC will provide that information once it is concluded and we can all engage with its proposal and make alternative proposals where necessary.

In conclusion, let us not use the media freedom argument to stifle genuine public discussion and to promote commercial interests, irresponsible reporting, gutter and sensational journalism, masqueraded as serving public interest. Lets us truly serve and protect the public interest and accept with the greatest humility, the responsibilities that the noble principle of media freedom entrusts to all of us. The media provide the public with all sides of the proposal in order to empower all participants in this discourse.

>> Lumko Mtimde, The author is an ANC and SACP member, CEO of the MDDA but he writes this in his personal capacity.


ANC STATEMENT ON NGC DISCUSSION DOCUMENTS

ANC LogoThe ANC's National General Council (NGC) is a forum between National Conferences where we review progress and challenges since the last Conference. The NGC will be amongst the largest political schools of the ANC. It is an opportunity to engage on critical issues facing our people and the movement.

We are pleased to officially release the following NGC discussion documents to the ANC structures, the Alliance, the broader democratic movement and the public.

  1. The Strategic and Tactics and the Balance of Forces: this is a document in which we assess the domestic and international balances of forces and broad strategies and tactics required for the ANC and our strategic allies. The world today has significantly changed from what it was three years ago. We are still in the midst of a global economic crisis (beginning with financial crisis in 2008) which had a harsh impact on many countries, including South Africa – millions have lost their jobs and government revenues have significantly declined. The ideas that call for a minimal state and subjection of everything to market forces are no longer attractive nor are they capable of offering solution to the economic and social problems confronting the world.

Domestically, our 2009 general election victory has, once again, confirmed the ANC as the principal representative of the majority of the population. Through our Manifesto, we are now hard at work to implement the key priorities of the ANC government. Uniting and mobilising our people around the key priorities of decent work and sustainable livelihoods; rural development, land and agrarian reform; education and health; and fight crime and corruption, remain our critical task.

  1. Economic Transformation – Toward a growth path for decent work: In the context of the balance of forces mentioned above, the ANC has been engaged in process of developing a developmental growth path for South Africa. We emerged from Polokwane with a clear position that "the central and most pressing challenges we face are unemployment, poverty and inequality." In our discussion document "Toward a Growth Path for Decent work", we review shortcomings as well as progress around the economy since 1994 and identify core strategies to ensure more equitable, inclusive and sustained growth for discussion. At the heart of our strategies is the creation of a decent work agenda and sustainable livelihoods, which represent the primary focus of our economic policies. The analysis here underscores that the decent work agenda means that the ANC policies must go beyond the relief of poverty to address inequality and exclusion.
  2. Legislature and Governance - building a developmental state: The central task of the ANC is to build a developmental state with the strategic, political, economic, administrative and technical capacity in pursuit of the objectives of the national democratic revolution. It is this task that the NGC must assess and propose recommendations that will qualitatively improve the functioning of the ANC in governing the state. Other issues for discussion will include the building of the public sector cadre, role of parastatals, as well as the review of the electoral system, including a possible introduction of single election system for all spheres of government.
  3. Media diversity and ownership: Our discussion document on Media Diversity and Ownership emphasises the need to promote pluralistic and diverse media through the enactment of laws and interventions guided by principles of free and independent media. Such intervention through policy and legislation with objectives to creating an enabling environment, which support media development and diversity, can enable free, independent and pluralistic media. The interventions should always be guided by the principle of promoting media freedom and independence. This is the critical vigilance as surely the temptation is always there to want to interfere with content but in a constitutional democracy, law can protect media against any such interference, if it arises. Media diversity supports, promotes, deepens, consolidates and strengthens democracy, nation building, social cohesion and good governance. The necessary changes in media could accord citizens the possibility to influence and deepen democratic ethos at community level, more so using community media.

In this context, it is proposed that we also investigate the desirability of setting up an independent statutory institution, established through an open, public and transparent process, and be made accountable to Parliament. The investigation should further consider the mandate of the Media Appeals Tribunal and its powers to adjudicate over matters or complaints expressed by citizens against print media, in terms of decisions and rulings made by the existing self-regulatory institutions, in the same way as it happens in the case of broadcasting through the Complaints and Compliance Committee of ICASA.

  1. Peace and Stability – transforming the criminal justice system: The challenges facing the criminal justice system include the unacceptable levels of crime and weak capacity at critical services of forensic, detective, investigation and prosecution. These are challenges of beefing our courts and stepping up prosecution and conviction of cases of corruption. A number of proposals to address challenges are being advanced. For example, the discussion paper proposes the establishment of regional courts in each province to deal with corruption cases based on the experience and lessons learnt from dedicated 2010 FIFA World Cup courts.
  2. Organisational Renewal: The NGC will be a moment of intense self-reflection, self-correction and self-renewal in order to face the future with confidence. We are asking ourselves hard questions of whether the current state of affairs enhances the organisation's future prospects or threaten our long-term success and sustainability. Our on-going organisational renewal process is a collective effort to:

Unite and mobilise all our people around the vision of the Freedom Charter;
Maintain and enhance the character of our movement as a multi-class organisation with a bias towards the working class and rural masses. Our movement character is that of being a democratic, mass-based non-racial, non-sexist, and internationalist organisation.
Preserve and adapt our values and principles of unity, discipline, selfless service, collective leadership, democratic centralism, honesty, hard work and mutual respect.

  1. Leadership renewal, discipline and organisational culture:

Related to organizational renewal is the need to identify the dangers that erode our character and values. Such dangers include the 'sins of incumbency'- such as bureaucratisation of the state and party. Social distance of leaders from the masses, ideological decline, sharing the spoils of office (positions and state resources).

Related to this is the indiscipline within our ranks, lobbying, leadership conduct and the role and influence of money in our movement, especially when it relates to leadership positions. We not only identify these subjective and objective realities in our discussion papers, but propose measures and actions to ensure that they do not raise their ugly heads in our revolution.

An additional document on Local Government will be released in the next two weeks.

These are the discussion issues we are presenting to the NGC.

A link to the ANC website has been created for NGC and all above documents will be available as from today, the 29th July 2010.

We also call the public to make comments on these documents.