Vol 12 No 46

23 - 29 november 2012


Gumede is fictional about ANC's internal democracy

Viewpoint by Jackson MthembuThere is not enough time and space to rebut all the lies so we will pick the most outrageous ones to ensure that there is perspective. Gumede must take leave to read with a view to acquaint himself about the ANC before venturing into a written or oral word on our glorious movement. He will save himself the pain of public embarrassment and all of us from the unnecessary pain of publicly correcting him. >>> MORE

From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let's Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!

Viewpoint by Lulu XingwanaSince 1994 we have made significant progress in putting in place legislation, policies and other measures for advancing equality and empowerment of women, children and people with disabilities. We are party to and signatory to international conventions and protocols that call upon us to institute appropriate measures to eradicate gender-based violence. >>> MORE

The warped theory of Prince Mashele

Readers ForumPrince Mashele cherishes the view that intellectual rigor is the preserve of those that have spent time behind a classroom desk, and assumes that there are only western forms of education. This betrays lack of knowledge about the various ways to impart knowledge in society, particularly, among indigenous Africans. >>> MORE


Gumede is fictional about ANC's internal democracy

Viewpoint by Jackson MthembuOne of the crucial building blocks of the African National Congress over the last hundred years is the issue of internal democracy. In fact so strong is such internal democracy that once the party has pronounced on the matter it has always frowned upon those who go outside that discipline to contest views.

Should that internal democracy have been flawed the ANC would have crumbled long ago owing to its wealth of independent and strong headed cadres and branches who would have had none of such oppression. Huge milestones in the history of the movement can only be described as the success of the depth of such internal democracy at work.

Moments such as the adoption of the armed struggle, the adoption of the pillars of the struggle, the crafting of the Harare Declaration, the opening of negotiations with the regime, the rescinding of the armed struggle as well as the adoption of the freedom charter and the country's constitution. Are shining examples, amongst others of our internal democracy at work.

All these moments tested the existence and the strength of the ANC's internal democracy. It is simply fiction to suggest that this rich history of internal democracy does not exist or is so flawed as to produce the kind of fairy tale that William Gumede penned in last week's Sunday Independent.

Gumede would have had to ignore this rich history and tapestry of democracy at work, to conclude that the ANC system is designed to "produce weak leaders". The reality is that all of the ANC's twelve Presidents and their accompanying NEC's were produced by this system and the future leaders will continue to be produced by this very system tried and tested over one hundred years of the ANC's existence with very minor tweaking and changes.

It is clear that Gumede is willing to let his hatred of the current leadership of the ANC get into the way of logic and without much analysis conclude that their flaws are a result of having been imposed on the membership of the ANC by what he terms the " ANC establishment|". Nothing is further from the truth.

The article goes out of its way to turn opinion into fact and therefore paint a fictional tale about how the ANC's internal democracy works. In other words Gumede in reaching his conclusion that internal democracy is nonexistent in the ANC had to create a straw man that he then destroys and suggest amongst other platitudes, that we must lap up stock and barrel the American System of primaries without any attempt to analyze what possible flaws there may be in transplanting an American electoral practice into an African context. Strangely he has not suggested this to any other political party in South Africa.

In the interest of imparting education to the public about how the internal democracy works it is important to rebut Gumede's fiction with the facts of how the ANC's democracy works. The article contains at least twenty-five different distortions and outright lies about how the ANC internal democracy works, in order for Gumede to declare it flawed. There is not enough time and space to rebut all the lies so we will pick the most outrageous ones to ensure that there is perspective.

Fiction: The ANC delegates are not representative of the ANC branches.

Fact: Through its history the ANC conference has always been representative of the ANC elected and mandated by the branches to speak on their behalf at conference. Of course, the conference is a gathering of representative of branches not the gathering of an entire membership. There is no example of any political party that has any other better system of representation.

What is also an important ingrained democratic principle in the delegation of branches to conferences is a constitutional introduction of a sliding scale of proportional representativity of all our branches and our provinces taking on board the membership they enjoy. The ANC has over 1.2 million members what number would be 'representative according to Gumede? What method of mandating members to represent the branches will be acceptable to Gumede?

Fiction: Representative are often members already holding powerful positions like mayors and MPs hence they are members of the ANC Establishment and are an elite group.

Fact: ANC internal democracy has not stopped anyone regardless of his or her position in society or government to be elected to represent a branch. At the same time there is no ANC member with an ordained right to be elected to represent the branch at congress by virtue of being a mayor or any such official. The reality is that the majority of delegates to conference are elected on their own merit and not because they hold a position in government.

The mayors and people like that in fact are often non-voting delegates at these conferences attending the conference as guests. It is therefore a gross generalisation that most of the delegates to the ANC conference are from the 'ANC establishment' whatever that term suddenly means. A cursory breakdown of the 2007 Polokwane Conference delegates will bear this out immediately. There is no truth in the assertion that these delegates are not rank and file members from the working class for example. The ANC as a broad church remains a true reflection of South Africa in all its multi-class dimensions.

Fiction: Branch delegates vote based on the preference of the branch leadership and because of the vote is by show of hands they are victimized if they don't vote accordingly.

Fact: The majority of ANC branches have constructive debates about who must be nominated for leadership positions. There is no evidence of widespread intimidation as fictionalised by Gumede. The fact that there are a few incidences of conflict at ANC branches are isolated incidents that get reported in the media and those that are brought to the attention of the leadership of the ANC are dealt with decisively. As we speak almost 85 percent of branches have completed their nomination process without any incident.

The issue of intimidation by branch leadership is lazy conjecture and not based on facts. There is fierce contestation and the branch leadership is not immune from such contest. It is wrong to suggest that by virtue of their positions they will necessarily impose their will on the branch. In many instances it is the broad branch membership, through it's obvious majority that carries the day on any decisions of the branch including decisions on nominations and elections.

Fiction: Secretaries can make branch delegates who disagree with them on choice of candidate 'disappear'. At national level Secretary General decides which branches are eligible to vote and can make them 'ineligible to vote at the conference'.

Fact: For Gumede's information and those that are equally naive on ANC nominations and elective processes, we first want to state, as fact that the starting point for preparations for any conference at all levels is a cut off date that determines which branch and which member in good standing are eligible to attend conference. In the instance of the 53rd National Conference, the cut off date is the 15th of June 2012. Logic dictates that branches and members who were not in good standing at that date are not eligible to attend conference.

The second important fact for Gumede is that a national audit is then undertaken throughout the length and breadth of the country to determine and establish factually the number of members and branches who are in good standing as of the 15th of June. We can now inform Gumede that a total of 3687 branches that qualify are the branches that hold quorating BGMs to nominate their delegates and nominate their preferred leadership.

These are processes that culminate in the national conference of the ANC. Save to say that there ill be a consolidation by all provinces and Leagues of branch nominations to a provincial list of nominations. These processes cannot be interfered with by any secretary or Secretary General as that would constitute a violation of the Constitution of the ANC. All these nomination processes are overseen and directed by the Electoral Commission that has no interest in the outcome of the conference and is supported by an independent elections agency.

The Secretary General does not unilaterally decide on credentials. The NEC has a final say about who will constitute the branch delegates overseen by an Independent Electoral Commission that is answerable to the organization as a whole. The credentials also have to be adopted by the conference at the beginning of the conference to militate against exactly what Gumede is suggesting.

Conflict of interest by a Secretary General who is available for re election does not arise. Similarly at branch level it is utmost wild to suggest that merely being record keepers they can simply make members disappear. Surely the members can present themselves and produce their membership card at any branch general meeting exposing such illegal practice if it exists.

Fiction: The deployment committee present branches who can be nominated for President and Mayors etc. They also make decisions on who can be awarded tenders. This therefore influences somewhat how branch delegates vote - they vote in fear of this committee.

Fact. This is one of the most nonsensical assertions from Gumede. The facts are simple. Any ANC member can stand for any position and no deployment committee tells branches who can be elected. Many things are blamed on the deployment committee but it's a first to hear that the committee now determines tenders. This would be impractical and bizarre if it were true. This is yet another outright lies by Gumede. Gumede needs serious schooling on the role of the deployment committee, unfortunately there is no space here.

The deployment committee has no role in any ANC conference, in fact before elections take place, including in Mangaung, the leadership structure of the ANC, in this instance the NEC of the ANC is disbanded together with all the committees it has established during its term of office, including the deployment committee. When voting happens there is no deployment committee to be feared as ludicrously claimed by Gumede.

Littered with other fictional notions as well as giving the incumbent President too much power Gumede's article cannot be taken seriously as an assessment of the inner workings of the ANC. Anecdotal analysis to weaknesses in the internal processes cannot be used as a reckless" dismissal of the ANC's processes that have been used over the good part of its one hundred years history.

The modernization that Gumede is referring to has been discussed by the same branches that he dismisses as voting fodder and has nothing to do with what is effectively fraud accusations against an entire membership of the ANC and its leadership. Gumede makes no reference to any other political party in South Africa that has been as open as the ANC to subject itself and its internal processes to public scrutiny.

The ANC is on course to renew and modernise but none of that modernisation is as a result of the wild and fictional assertions that Gumede states as fact. If I were a Professor of politics and I had assigned this Fulbright Scholar called William Gumede with an assignment on ANC internal democracy he would have failed with distinction.

Gumede must take leave to read with a view to acquaint himself about the ANC before venturing into a written or oral word on our glorious movement. He will save himself the pain of public embarrassment and all of us from the unnecessary pain of publicly correcting him.

>> Jackson Mthembu is an ANC NEC member and National Spokesperson of the ANC


From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let's Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!

Viewpoint by Lulu XingwanaSixteen Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children is a moment for all of us to reaffirm our commitment to reclaim our streets and create a society that is safe and secure for women and children

From 25 November until the 10th of December, our country and the world will be observing the 16 Days of Activism Campaign on No Violence against Women and Children. This year marks the 13th anniversary of the national campaign that began in 1999. The theme for this year is: "From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let's Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!"

As a sub-theme, South Africa will also focus on the theme for the 57th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW): "Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and children". The national slogan for the campaign remains: Don't Look Away - Act Against Abuse". The 25th of each month was declared the International Orange Day by the United Nations. The campaign is aimed at ensuring that violence against women and girls is observed on a daily basis and that the awareness is incorporated into our 365 days Action Plan on Gender Based Violence.

Militarization and violence is a major challenge particularly in regions affected by conflict and war. Domestic violence becomes even more deadly when guns - legal or illegal - are present in the home, because they can be used to threaten, injure or kill women and children. Indeed, women are three times more likely to die violently if there is a gun in the house.

The 16 Days of Activism Campaign focuses primarily on generating an increased awareness of the negative impact of violence on women and children as well as society as a whole. The campaign further seeks to address issues that affect vulnerable groups (women, girls and boys, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities, people with disabilities, etc.) such as sexual harassment, rape, cultural practices that are harmful to women and children (ukuthwala, child muthi killings, witchcraft burning and killings).

The campaign seeks to mobilize all of us as members of the community to also join in this effort. I urge all South Africans to join this fight. When we know that someone is being abused in our own home or in our neighbour's house, we have a duty to report it. We also have a duty to stand in court as witnesses to make sure that these abusers are prosecuted successfully. Domestic violence is not something that should be left to families to resolve. Neither is it a private family matter. An uncle who rapes a niece needs to face the full might of the law. Once a crime has been committed, let us allow the law to take its course.

Since 1994, as a country, we have made significant progress in putting in place legislation, policies and other measures for advancing equality and empowerment of women, children and people with disabilities. Through the Constitution and various other statutory provisions, South Africa has sought to protect and promote human rights. South Africa is party to and signatory to international conventions and protocols that call upon us to institute appropriate measures to eradicate gender-based violence.

Despite South Africa's constitutional and legislative protection, violence based on gender and sexual orientation remains at unacceptable levels. The violence takes different forms such as sexual harassment, abuse, assault, rape, domestic violence and other cultural practices that are harmful to women and children (ukuthwalwa and ukungenwa etc).

Whilst there are programmes and interventions to prevent and respond to abuse, government cannot do this alone and therefore depends on mutual partnerships with non-governmental and women's organisations, business, faith-based organisations, traditional leaders, political parties, various sectors of society and communities.

Success of the 16 Days of Activism campaign is dependent on the partnership between government and various sectors of society including the media. A concerted effort is required to promote outreach for the campaign to particularly rural areas including farming and mining communities. Those most severely affected by violence are in these areas and may not be aware of the resources and services available to them to help them cope with their circumstances. We believe that the unacceptably high levels of gender-based violence require the collective efforts of all South Africans.

As South Africans, we must pause and ponder the real impact of gender-based violence. These include direct costs relating to health care services, judicial services, social services and other related services. Gender-based violence robs women and children of the opportunity to become productive citizens of the country. It denies them their constitutional rights and condemns them to a life of perpetual fear.

They are therefore prevented from enjoying the fruits of our freedom and democracy. The reality that we must collectively confront is the reluctance on the part of some victims of violence to come forward and seek legal advice and social support. This could be due to lack of knowledge about their rights and the social stigma around domestic violence.

We must also accept the sad reality that financial dependency on husbands, fathers, partners and family members increases their vulnerability to domestic violence, rape, incest, abuse, and murder. We remain convinced that empowering women will help us win the war against poverty, inequality, unemployment and abuse. The behaviour of child and women molesters poses fundamental questions to us as members of the human race. All civilised human beings throughout the world protect their women and children.

Even animals make an effort to protect the weak among them. From time to time, they can be seen protecting their young ones from predators with all the might they have. To them seeing their young ones hurting is unacceptable. The question that must be posed is: If animals find it unacceptable to abuse their young ones, why is it that some among us derive pleasure from seeing their own flesh and blood in pain?

Today we read about horror stories of fathers who rape or kill their own children, innocent souls that actually look up to them for love and protection. Today we read about husbands who organize gang rapes for their wives. Yet, they tell the world that they love them. Today we are witnessing a serious breakdown of the social fabric of our society. What happened to the spirit of ubuntu that has been the hallmark of our society for many centuries? What happened to the respect and admiration that men used to have for women from time immemorial? Have we, as a society, lost the sense that children are innocent and need to be protected at all times?

All of us have a responsibility to help expose those who harm the most vulnerable in our society. The scourge of child and women abuse threatens to erode many of the hard-earned gains of liberation struggle. Child and women abuse deny women and children their birthrights. It condemns them to a life of fear and prevents them from being productive members of society.

Women and children long for the day when they can walk the streets without fear of being raped or brutally assaulted. They long for a day when they can walk the streets without having to look behind them to see who is following them. They long for a day when society will protect them against sexual molesters.

The current spate of child murders in our country is a matter of grave concern and a painful reminder of the disregard for human life and rights of children. In memory of all children who perished in the hands of abusers, we must move with speed to put these murderers behind bars. As we do so, we must also focus our attention to those who claim to be sangomas who pay for the body parts of our children. The law must be equally harsh on them. I urge real sangomas to take a stand and expose those who trade with the bodies of our children.

By giving women and child abusers harsher sentences, our courts are continuing to play a role in sending a message to these abusers that their actions will not be tolerated. Those who commit atrocities and murders against women and children must rot in jail. They do not deserve bail or parole. They must not be allowed to share the same spaces with our women and children, nor must they be allowed to roam our streets. We also urge the Minister of Justice to speed up the re-establishment of the sexual offences courts.

We are cautiously encouraged by the crime statistics released recently by the Minister of Police, Mr Nathi Mthethwa. For the 2011/12 financial year, the sexual offences cases decreased by 3,7%. Rape decreased by 1,9% but it is still unacceptably high. We believe that the introduction of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units have contributed positively to the fight against the scourge of violence against women and children.

Despite these encouraging figures, we believe that the levels of crimes committed against women and children remain high, and that more needs to be done to ensure that we eliminate this scourge. All vulnerable groups have the right to live and walk anywhere in their environment, which must be understood as their collective right to safety and security in the spaces they inhabit. My message to all our people is that public safety is everybody's business. All institutions, community groups and citizens need to contribute to the development of safe and secure communities for all our people.

In the name of all our women and children who were brutally murdered by those who were supposed to be their protectors, we must work tirelessly towards creating safe and secure communities. As we mark Sixteen Days of No Violence Against Women and Children, we must pose uncomfortable questions to ourselves.

One of the critical questions is: What are we doing, individually and collectively, to address this scourge that threatens to erode the gains we have been making since 1994 to build a caring society? Beyond adopting the role of critics, what is it that other sectors can do to help government to eliminate violence against vulnerable groups?

As we ponder these questions, let us agree that all of us need to do more than what we have been doing if we are to reduce the unacceptably high levels of abuse in our society. Let me take this opportunity to make a few announcements:

  • On 4 December, President Jacob Zuma will embark on a Siyahlola visit in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, as part of government's commitment to promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities. This event takes place within the context of the 16 Days campaign to eliminate gender-based violence and also commemorate International Day for People with Disabilities.
  • The closing event for the 16 Days of Activism campaign will be held in Rustenburg, North West on 10 December 2012, which is International Human Rights Day. It will be at this occasion that the Deputy President, Hon Kgalema Motlanthe will launch and inaugurate the National Council Against Gender-Based Violence

Working together, we can do more to prevent domestic violence and make our homes places of safety, places of hope and places of peace and harmony. The call to action is for all of us to work together to reduce the number of sexual offences, attacks and murder of women and children in our country.

>> Lulu Xingwana is the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities. This is an edited extract of her speech at the opening ceremony of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children

Readers Forum

The warped theory of Prince Mashele

Readers ForumThe notion that a person with no formal education possesses no intellectual faculties and thus must be dismissed as a hapless intellectual zombie is so antiquated and unscientific such that even those who once held it as a basis to oppress Africans are now embarrassed when reminded of such nonsensical views.

Seemingly Prince Mashele harbors no such inhibitions, and repeats it with impunity at every opportunity he gets. He cherishes the view that intellectual rigor is the preserve of those that have spent time behind a classroom desk, and assumes that there are only western forms of education. This betrays lack of knowledge about the various ways to impart knowledge in society, particularly, among indigenous Africans.

The fact of the matter here is that long before there were classrooms, there were always various means through which knowledge was shared and acquired. Communities taught their young, how to engage in economic, social, religious and political activity; gathering plants for food, hunting wild animals, rearing cattle, planting crops, running initiation schools, slaughtering cattle or goats for ancestral rituals, paying tribute to kings, attending traditional courts, even engaging in war.

All this was passed down from generation to generation through skillfully weaving theory and practice. As a result of its ability to organically develop intellectuals that were its products, our pastoral communities produced orators whose persuasiveness could swing decisions in traditional courts and lobola negotiations. They did not have to be lawyers to perform such tasks, but had been schooled in the University of Life.

No one can now dispute that military strategists and organic intellectuals such as Kings Shaka and Moshoeshoe could turn defeat into victory in the battlefield. Were these not intellectuals? Not in Prince Mashele's book. There is an old anecdote of a young man whose uneducated parents sent to university and sold all their livestock risking their livelihood in order to realize their son's dream of advanced education, only to be later confronted by the horror of their son being embarrassed of them as soon as he received his university qualification and ultimately rejecting them.

In this case, who are the non-intellectual here: the overzealous parents or the ungrateful son? The answer is clear. The "uneducated" Jacob Zuma joined the struggle for liberation whose fruit we are reaping today at an early age. He started serving in the ANC NEC in 1977, was re-elected into the NEC in 1985, and was elected ANC Deputy Secretary General in 1991. He was elected ANC National Chairperson in 1994, was elected ANC Deputy President in 1997 and in 2007 he was elected ANC President.

But Mashele is not embarrassed to allege that Zuma is where he is today because of "victimhood": "If Zuma did not incarnate victimhood in the faction-ridden politics of the latter-day ANC, nothing exceptional would have propelled him to the fortuitous heights he now occupies." Is it so difficult for Prince Mashele to appreciate the fact and fix it firmly in his mind that Zuma may have risen to the dizzy heights he now occupies because of his dedication to the struggle against apartheid when many of his peers hid behind the skirts of their families and homelands.

Surely, as evidence suggests, Mashele's statements rank as nothing but a figment of his imagination. Although pretending to write about the intellectual inaptitude of ANC President Jacob Zuma, Prince Mashele shows the shocking disdain with which he holds us "ruralitarian" ANC members. We are all guilty by association. The fact that we grew up in villages renders us thoughtless mobs that support Zuma because he could "dance" and sing just like we do.

Prince Mashele must accept that we supported Zuma because we were tired of the "educated" that we felt treated many with disdain. There is no necessity for the gratuitous insults and disdainful assumptions that we suffer incurable levels of intellectual bankruptcy. Just like one other commentator observed, Prince Mashele tends to write like the proverbial frog screaming in a well. His columns are often filled by sound and fury but seldom by critical analysis and facts.

>> Lazola Ndamase is an ANC member of Ntlangano Branch