Volume 7 No. 6 - July 1996

Contents


Editorial

Niche politics

Last month`s KwaZulu/Natal local government elections have demonstrated quite visibly what many people have been saying for some time: that the Inkatha Freedom Party is a party with a very narrow support base.

The IFP was soundly beaten in the major urban areas of the province, managing only 25 percent in the local councils and 13 percent in the Durban metropolitan council. The ANC captured the most votes in 21 of the most important cities and towns.

What saved the IFP was their good showing in the rural district councils, where they polled 77 percent of the vote. However, even here the IFP is far from secure. The ANC managed to increase its support in rural areas from five percent in the 1994 election to 17 percent this year.

Although the IFP beat the ANC numerically, the ANC in the province is quite justified in declaring the election a victory. Not only did the ANC make inroads into the IFP`s rural constituency, but it captured control of the most important economic centres in the province.

The election results have conclusively shattered the IFP-propagated myth that it represents all Zulu-speaking people. The vast majority of IFP supporters may be Zulu, but the majority of Zulus are not IFP supporters. The ANC`s success in cities and towns - and even some rural areas - has demonstrated this.

The IFP is not doing too well in other communities either. A lot of the support it received from the white community in 1994, this time went to the National Party and Democratic Party. It lost ground in Indian communities too, where the ANC and Minority Front made some significant gains.

The IFP is on the retreat. And were it not for its stranglehold over the Amakhosi and ability to restrict free political activity, the chances are that its support in the province would have diminished further.

These results should send a signal to the IFP: that unless it starts engaging in peaceful, legitimate political activity it is destined for extinction. The politics of violence, intimidation and patronage will never be powerful enough to get the IFP the majority it wants.

The IFP is indeed at a crossroads. It can either stick to its traditional mode of operation, and become further marginalised as a tribal party. Or it can embrace democratic political organisation and try to break out of its current narrow niche.

It is unlikely that the IFP would fare much better in open and free political engagement than it is doing now, but at least the people of KwaZulu/Natal would at last know peace. The IFP owes its voters - and the people of this country - that much.


A look at events which made news in June

Police members held for theft
At least three senior police officers were among six suspects arrested inconnection with the theft of goods from two hijacked trucks in Mpumalanga.

The arrests followed the hijacking of two trucks in Pretoria and Vryheid.

The trucks, which were found in a storeroom in Ekangala by detectives, were removed to the police storeroom, where the loads were stolen overnight inthe police station premises.

Freelance spy network uncovered
Former apartheid security establishment personalities were still engaged in large-scale information gathering on the ANC, government officials and the police, it was revealed.

The unofficial intelligence companies were aiming at undermining the newly-transformed police services, discrediting key government appointees and spreading disinformation to damage the interests of companies. The Executive Research Associates was believed to be involved in hiring freelance intelligence agents. Among its chief objectives was reportedly to promote the interests of opposition parties.

Ratte protests condemned
ANC President Nelson Mandela denounced protest demonstrations by a group of right wingers and made it clear that right-wing prisoner Willem Ratte would have to serve his full jail term.

The government would not give in to intimidation by Ratte`s supporters who blockaded the N1 highway outside Pretoria, demanding his immediate and unconditional release.

Ratte was imprisoned for five-and-half years on charges arising from the seizure of Fort Schanskop in Pretoria in 1993. Ratte had been on hunger strike for almost two months.

Mandela said Ratte had committed a serious offence. The government couldn`t yield to that type of pressure, he said.

Action against banks over eviction
The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) embarked on a two-week countrywide protest against banks to demand evictions of bond defaulters to be stopped.

Sanco president Mlungisi Hlongwane said Sanco was prepared to engage in negotiations with the banks and remained committed to the Masakhane campaign. Sanco wanted the suspension of the scheduled evictions of bond defaulters until talks had been held with the banks. It called for a review of the 1994 Record of Understanding between banks and government on lending for low-cost housing.

Buthelezi allegedly involved in military cover-up
Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi took part in a military cover-up linked to the training of more than 200 IFP supporters in the Caprivi Strip in 1986, the Durban Supreme Court was told during the KwaMakutha murder trial.

Court documents referring to meetings between Buthelezi and senior military officers came under scrutiny during the trial. Buthelezi`s aide MZ Khumalo, who is among the 17 accused, said he was involved in choosing trainees loyal to the then KwaZulu government, and conceded that Buthelezi and former Kwazulu police deputy commissioner Brigadier Sipho Mathe had a cover-up arrangement with the military officers at the time of training.

Squatter leaders charged with fraud
At least seven leaders at the Winnie Mandela squatter camp in Thembisa were alleged to have collected more than R1 million from the sale of illegal squatting sites in the East Rand. They were also charged with arson, kidnapping and intimidation in the Kempton Park Regional Court.

Call to investigate IFP senator
The ANC in KwaZulu/Natal called on attorney-general Tim McNally to investigate allegations arising from the De Kock trial that SADF weapons were delivered to Inkatha Freedom Party senator Philip Powell in 1992.

Former policeman `Snor` Vermeulen made the allegation in the trial of former Vlakplaas commander Eugene de Kock. Vermeulen said the weapons were delivered to Powell`s flat after he was engaged by De Kock and Powell to train IFP supporters in Natal.

The ANC said it expected McNally to call on the police to investigate Powell.

Tutu retires
Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu, currently chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, retired last month as archbishopafter a decade of service. He is succeeded by Njongonkulu Winston Ndungane.

A final thanksgiving service was held at St George`s Cathedral in Cape Town, addressed by President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey.

Other dignitaries attending the service included deputy president Thabo Mbeki, Mozambican president Joachim Chissano, Lesotho king Letse III, Walter Sisulu and Adelaide Tambo.

Tutu was lauded not only for his service to the Christian community in South Africa, but also for his high-profile struggle for democracy, which earned him the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize.

Youth Commission appointed
President Nelson Mandela completed the final stage in the establishment of the National Youth Commission by announcing the names of the commissioners.

The appointments would take effect from 1 July for a period of five years. The commission will be chaired by Mahlengi Bhengu. Her deputy will be Nomfundo Mbuli. Other full time commissioners are Max van der Wath, Otto Bonginkosi Kunene and Mpho Lekgoro.

Part time members are Nazeema Mohamed, Desmond Tsietsi Louw, Thabo Masebe, Richard Thabo Moloko, Rene Jordan. In addition, each provincial premier appointed one commissioner to the team.

The President has assigned the administration of the National Youth Commission Act to deputy president Thabo Mbeki.


Provincial Briefs

Gauteng

The Gauteng ANC held two marches on International Children`s Day on 1 June, dedicating it to the victims of child abuse. The theme for the marches was "Save the Children: Stop Child Abuse".

The marches, held in Sebokeng in the Vaal and Kempton Park in the North East Rand, marked the first phase of the anti-crime drive announced by the ANC Provincial Executive Committee.

The ANC has for sometime expressed its concern regarding unacceptable crime levels in Gauteng, notably the attacks on children. The province is sending a clear message to criminals and crime syndicates that it intends claiming back the streets of Gauteng. And it intends to make the suburbs and townships safe heavens for everyone to enjoy.

Northern Province

In the Northern Province the ANC held a successful meeting with a delegation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which finally conceded that a public hearing in the province is a priority.

Statement takers have already been appointed and trained and hundreds of people are already coming forward to make their submissions. Some of the applications received for indemnity are not going to be considered because they are not necessarily politically-related cases. They are witchcraft-related crimes.

Northern Cape

The ANC in the Northern Cape, North West and Free State displayed a rotating `Happy Birthday President Mandela` banner taxi ranks and shopping centres in the provinces.

The signature banner is an opportunity for every member of the public to attach their signatures wishing the president a happy birthday, which is on 18 July.

These events are part of the build-up programme towards the celebration of the president`s veteran party to be hosted jointly by the provinces. The banner will be given to the president during the veteran`s party in Mmabatho.

Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape province will be holding workshops on safety and security, sport and culture, local government and housing in July to discuss progress and draw-backs experienced.

A summit to evaluate progress made on the RDP in the province will also be held in the same month. The summit will examine the functioning of structures of the RDP as well as discuss drawing up a plan of action that will take the programme forward.


Umrabulo

Wishful thinking
The government`s approach to the restructuring of state assets, guided by economic and social rather than ideological factors, has infuriated many people in the ranks of the National Party and Democratic Party.

Democratic Party leader and arch-Thatcherite Tony Leon, in particular, wants the government to hurry up and sell off all its assets. This would probably explain his enthusiasm at the news that, following the public protector`s advice, the government would be ending its financial support for Sarafina 2 and that a private company would step in to continue the production.

Speaking at an election meeting in KwaZulu/Natal, Leon told the DP faithful that he was encouraged to see that the government was finally privatising something. Sarafina 2 was the start of a larger sell-off, he predicted.

Tony Leon may be the working class` public enemy number one, but for the occasional chuckle he must be rated as one of our most prized public assets.

Talking point
Speaking of public assets, ANC MP Aubrey Mokoena rose to address the national assembly last month in the budget debate on the Department of Public Enterprises. He was presenting the ANC`s response to public enterprises minister Stella Sigcau`s speech on the restructuring of state assets. And he had a lot to say.

Unlike most parliamentary speakers, Mokoena was not reading his speech from single sheets of paper, but from a continuous sheet of the kind used in some computer printers. Instead of paging through his speech, Mokoena simply `scrolled` down the page.

At first the assembled MPs and journalists listened attentively to Mokoena`s speech, but grew restless as Mokoena started to go on a bit - and on and on. As Mokoena made his way through his written speech, a continuous stream of paper from below his desk fuelled the anxiety of the audience.

Eventually, the presiding chairperson informed the honourable member that his time had expired. As Mokoena sat down, the NP`s Pieter Coetzer rose to give his speech.

"Honourable member," he said to Mokoena, "it is lucky that you ran out of time. Because I was afraid the fax machine under your desk would run out of paper first." After trying to justify apartheid for 40 years, I suppose one does learn to develop a sense of humour.

Give me royalties, Pieter
During the recent KwaZulu/Natal election campaign NP Western Cape clown Pieter Marais was seen and heard singing, quite literally, the praises of NP leader FW de Klerk.

To the tune of Eddy Grant`s smash hit, `Give me hope, Joanna`, Marais sang a song about FW and his virtues.

Full marks to radio station SAFM for pointing out the irony of Marais` performance. The original Eddy Grant song was about the evils of apartheid and advocated economic sanctions against the then NP government. Grant decided that the royalties earned from the song be donated to the liberation movements.

Now that Marais says he`s planning to record an album of his praise- singing, SAFM wanted to know if the money would be going to the ANC.

Perhaps it could pay for our next election campaign.


Lessons to be learned from Sarafina 2 controversy

What started out as an Aids education project has ended up teaching the government some lessons about proper financial procedures and public accountability, writes Khensani Makhubela.

Following the Public Protector`s report on Sarafina 2, which uncovered negligence and maladministration in the process of awarding the tender for the Aids education musical, a debate has emerged around the question of ministerial responsibility.

ANC national executive member Kader Asmal responded to calls by opposition parties for the resignation of health minister Nkosozana Zuma: "We have refused to bow to party-political calls to extend the principle of ministerial responsibility to unacceptable lengths. The principle of responsibility does not automatically extend to culpability for each and every detail of, for instance, a tender procedure - particularly when senior officials have confirmed, in writing to their director general, that a tender has been approved in the due and proper way." He said that such an episode was naturally to be regretted and guarded against in the future. "We have all learned much from it. On the basis of the public protector`s report the incident clearly points to a need to ensure careful adherence to departmental procedure in matters of financing projects, and this is of application not only to one department," he said.

The ANC has accepted the report of the public protector. The report came before parliament, at the express request of the Democratic Party, and formed the basis of a debate in which the ANC unreservedly associated itself with the findings. The ANC announced immediate remedial steps and a departmental investigation into certain official conduct. This was a massive improvement on the way such matters had been handled in the past, Asmal said.

Sarafina 2 was a worthy idea in Aids prevention that went awry, Asmal said.

Anyone who disagreed with the public protector`s report had an obligation to say on what basis. "The critics have hurled much abuse, demanded all sorts of retribution, but have not produced anything that would justify following their advice," he said.

The health department also welcomed the investigations carried out by the public protector. It accepted the recommendations made in the public protector`s report.

In response to the report, the department terminate the Sarafina 2 contract. The department`s legal unit had drafted a procedure manual on the handling of contracts, and the department had also sent a circular reminding staff to observe treasury instructions.

Directors and deputy directors had been assigned the responsibility of preparing a plan for training line managers in funding procedures.

In line with a 1993 cabinet decision that departments must appoint financial managers, the department assigned an experienced auditor who would be handling their finance.

Other measures independent of those recommended by the public protector included a request by the health department to the Department of State Expenditure to be included in a pilot project for financial management.

Allegations of misconduct by two officials who misled the minister on the Sarafina 2 issue would be investigated in accordance with the public service provisions and labour relations principles, the department said.


ANC rules KwaZulu/Natal`s key centres

The ANC has captured KwaZulu/Natal`s economic heartland, and has made gains in the rural areas, writes a correspondent.

With the results of the KwaZulu/Natal local government elections finalised, the ANC has emerged with major support in the province`s urban areas and growing support in the rural areas.

Of 24 areas which the ANC had identified as strategically important, it managed to gain the majority in all but two. The ANC is the majority party in the large Durban metropole and key local councils like Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay, Newcastle, Ladysmith, Stanger, Estcourt, Margate, Mandini, Mooi River and Matatiele.

In rural areas, where the Inkatha Freedom Party is the majority party, the ANC saw its percentage of five percent in 1994 grow to 17 percent in this election.

In the overall vote count, the ANC`s support increased by one percent to 33 percent, while the IFP slipped seven percent to 45 percent.

"The ANC is absolutely elated," ANC NEC member Carl Niehaus said after the election, "We have done as well as we expected, if not better in some areas." "We stand an extremely good chance of becoming the majority party in KwaZulu/Natal in 1999," he said.

The ANC`s good showing in the province`s urban areas places it in an important position of power. The ANC now controls the local councils of the province`s economic heartland, including the key centres of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. The Durban metropole and the 21 top local councils have a combined operating budget of over R5,5 billion.

The ANC`s strong showing also strengthened its position with regard to the IFP at a provincial level. Niehaus said the results would narrow the political decision making base of the IFP.

"The voice of the ANC will be heard much stronger," he said.

The ANC has always maintained that the 1994 election results were not a true reflection of its support in the province. From the beginning of the campaign, the ANC said that if free political activity could be achieved, the results would be very different from those in 1994.

While the election was remarkably peaceful, there was not the level of political freedom in rural areas which there should have been. There were a number of administrative problems, including one area where voters used the wrong ballot form for an entire day before anyone noticed. There were also reports of intimidation, and claims that the amakhosi were still not allowing free political activity. There were many areas where the ANC was not able to contest.

While the ANC had narrowed the gap significantly in rural areas, it would have done much better if there had been free political activity, Niehaus said.

As much as there was a clear urban-rural divide in voting patterns, there appears to be a further division within rural areas between farm lands and tribal lands. The ANC did significantly better in most farming areas than it did in tribal areas. The ANC increased its support in farming areas because of its ability to deliver on our campaign promises.

Since the 1994 national election, the ANC has done much to advance the interests of farmworkers. Under the old KwaZulu government, farmworkers were evicted and removed from farming land with no compensation. They had no voice and were afforded no rights.

The ANC-led government of national unity has dealt firmly with evictions and land reform policies have given farmworkers access to land. Interventions by the ANC in dealing with the land question in KwaZulu/Natal has been welcomed by farmworkers.

The delay of the election for an extra month seems to have made a vital contribution to the creation of a climate of stability and peace, vindicating the stance of the ANC in KwaZulu/Natal.

"We`d like to congratulate the security forces for their work, under difficult circumstance and at great personal sacrifice. Without them, the election would not have been possible," Niehaus said.

The peace process that was initiated in KwaZulu/Natal yielded positive results for the people of the province. There appears to have been a significant reduction in the number of no-go areas. This was an important step in the right of parties to engage in free political activity, he said.

"It became clear that a change of atmosphere was taking place. Communities were showing that they were sick and tired of violence," he said.

The peace initiatives will need to be strengthened and deepened in the coming period to ensure there is freedom of movement and organisations throughout the province.

The challenges facing local government in the province are enormous. Local councillors will have to ensure that the peace calls from parties in the run-up to election were not simply part of an election campaign strategy, but that peace becomes a part of all the programmes of local government. For peace to prevail in KwaZulu/Natal, development which will benefit the majority of poor people in the province needs to occur. This can only be achieved through cooperation between the different political organisations and a commitment to working together to build a better life for all in KwaZulu/Natal. That is the spirit in which the ANC contested the election and it is the spirit in which the organisation intends to move the province forward.


Sale of state enterprises `will not be rushed`

The restructuring of state assets will take time and will be carefully considered, report Steyn Speed and Mziwakhe Hlangani.

While the restructuring of state assets is still a government priority, it will not be rushed into. This is the word from public enterprises minister Stella Sigcau, who delivered her budget vote to parliament last month.

"The restructuring programme is destined to be a protracted and carefully considered process," she said.

However, if privatisation had to happen, government would ensure it did happen, Sigcau said.

In the ANC`s response to Sigcau`s speech, ANC MP Aubrey Mokoena said restructuring was taking place in a phased manner "for maximum value". He said it needed to be accompanied by a social plan to cushion the effects of possible job losses.

The process of restructuring is taking place in terms of the National Framework Agreement signed earlier this year between government and labour. The agreement identified the objectives of any restructuring of state assets as:
increased economic growth and job creation;

Cosatu assistant general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the federation`s main objectives in the restructuring process was to ensure the government was able to deliver basic services.

Among the forms restructuring could take are the total sale of a state asset, as is being proposed for Sun Air; a partial sale to `strategic equity partners`, as is being proposed for Telkom; the sale of an asset with government retaining a strategic interest; or merely privatising management.

The government made a number of proposals in December last year on the options being considered for various parastatals. However, these proposals are now subject to discussions taking place in terms of the national framework agreement.

The restructuring of state assets is a key part of the governments new macro-economic strategy for growth, employment and redistribution.

"The treatment of parastatals must be viewed in the context of the restructuring of the economy," Mokoena said.

It was necessary to make hard decisions to prevent the collapse of the economy, he said.

Mokoena said the government should avoid the approach the National Party took when it entered government in 1948 and created a "plethora of public enterprises" to reward NP voters and service white interests.

"The challenge is not to ape what the Nats did, but to critically examine [the needs of the country]," he said.

Sigcau said restructuring should be an all-embracing holistic programme to address current levels of economic inefficiency and inequities.

"A phased approach over a number of years will be required to correct the structural defects and maximise economic and social welfare," she said.

A key concern in restructuring discussion is the effect the process will have on the over 300 000 workers employed in the public enterprises under review.

Cosatu wanted to ensure that massive job losses were averted, Vavi said.

Many workers in these enterprises were unskilled and "understandably apprehensive" about restructuring, Sigcau said.

"Restructuring should develop the human resource capacities of South Africa through decent employment conditions, efficient use of training and retraining, redressing previous discriminatory practices and enhancing technical and managerial capacity," she said.

In terms of the National Framework Agreement, sectoral discussions were due to start soon between representatives of government and labour. The sectors to be discussed include transport; minerals and energy; telecommunications; trade, industry and defence; water affairs, forestry and agriculture; local government; and housing.

All stakeholders would be involved in refining and developing policy on each of these sectors, Sigcau said.

As part of this process, the government is required to give organised labour R3 million to appoint advisors and conduct research. Government would also appoint a team of advisors to assist in its input into the process.


Restructuring debate `won`t destroy alliance`

The Tripartite Alliance between the ANC, Cosatu and the SACP was not under threat because of the debate on the restructuring of state assets, Cosatu assistant general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said.

"It is a dynamic alliance with a long history, and is there to stay," Vavi said.

Cosatu led a vehement labour assault on the ANC-led government last December, after it announced its plans for restructuring several state assets. After high-level discussions between government and labour representatives, a National Framework Agreement was signed to guide the restructuring process.

"From the beginning we anticipated contradiction with the ANC leading the government," Vavi said.

As the party in government, the ANC was responsible to all the citizens of the country. As a union movement, Cosatu was responsible to the workers. "As a result of these different positions - different constituencies to account to - there will, from time to time, be such contradictions arising," he said.

"There were objectives and strategic reasons for the alliance to exist. It is impossible that they could be wiped out because of one issue," he said.


Cyril wants to transform the economy

Outgoing ANC secretary general Cyril Ramaphosa spoke to Mayibuye about his reasons for resigning as an ANC official and parliamentarian.

It was while shopping for furniture for his house that Cyril Ramaphosa stumbled upon the idea that eventually convinced him to leave parliament and go into business.

In an interview with Mayibuye, Ramaphosa said it was the realisation that black people produced everything in South Africa, yet did not control the economy, that prompted him to move.

Ramaphosa will resign as ANC secretary general and as a member of parliament after the certification of the new constitution. He has joined Nthatho Motlana`s New Africa Investments Limited as deputy chairperson.

"What I`m doing is born out of the belief that the economy of this country is run by black people. If you go to any company - be it a furniture manufacturer, a car manufacturer, a mine or a food manufacturer - you will find that everything is made by black people.

"Black workers do everything in this country. They have acquired experience, skills and knowledge. Yet it is a few white people who control the economy," he said.

It was because he felt that something needed to be done about this that Ramaphosa was being deployed into the private sector.

"I had always said that one of the important areas where transformation had to take place was the economy. It was a sector which we were tending to ignore as a movement. We had prosecuted our political struggle with success, but had largely ignored the business sector," he said.

He said he had thought for some time that this was lopsided. This was a view shared by the ANC leadership, and they had agreed that Ramaphosa could move into the private sector.

Ramaphosa said the manner in which his resignation was made public was unfortunate. He said that as soon as he had begun to consult within the organisation, news of his resignation was leaked to the media.

"This was the undoing of the intentions we had to consult extensively," he said.

A press conference was hastily called to announce the resignation even before the National Working Committee or National Executive Committee could meet. This was explained to the NWC and NEC. The NEC later issued a statement expressing appreciation of the importance of the move.

Ramaphosa hoped that his move would signal that the ANC was serious about transforming the South African economy: "In the end, our ability to have political stability and social harmony is really dependent on the transformation that needs to take place in the economic sphere." "This is an economy which we no longer want to break down and weaken. Its an economy which we want to strengthen, because its through the economy that our people can have a better life," he said.

While the notion of black economic empowerment was not yet properly defined, it could not benefit just a few people, he said. The point of black economic empowerment was to enable those who had been disadvantaged in the past to become part of the economic mainstream.

An environment needed to be created in which black business could thrive and grow, thereby changing the ownership patterns of business, he said.

Black economic empowerment needed to be a process through which black people could form and operate big, medium and small businesses on their own.

As for his own role in this process, Ramaphosa said he would join people already active in business - "from the ordinary worker in the factory and mine right through to the company director" - in transforming the economy of the country.


NEC to choose new secretary general

The National Executive Committee has begun a process to choose a new secretary general for the ANC.

A nominations committee has been established under the leadership of Walter Sisulu and Charles Nqakula, which has asked provincial structures to forward nominations to it by the end of July.

The list of nominations will be presented to the NEC at its meeting in mid-August, where it will elect a new secretary general.

Deputy secretary general Cheryl Carolus will be acting secretary general until the election takes place.


Plan to lift economy to new heights

The government has announced some bold economic policy steps to ensure the implementation of the RDP, writes a correspondent.

The government last month unveiled its long-awaited economic plan, titled Growth, Employment and Redistribution, which aims among other things to boost economic growth from its current three percent to six percent by the year 2000.

The plan aims to create an additional 400 000 jobs a year by the end of the decade.

The economy`s failure to create jobs was one of the main reasons for the plan, finance minister Trevor Manuel told parliament.

"Two years after the elections, too many South Africans feel that change has still not arrived for them. Notwithstanding the fact that the economy has grown at a faster over these past two years than it did in the previous decade, too few jobs are still being created," he said.

He said the plan consisted of an integrated set of economic policies which would enable government to deliver on the commitments of the Reconstruction and Development Programme. The plan was therefore focussed on accelerating the growth of the economy and creating more jobs.

"By shifting gears we can realise the potential of this economy," Manuel said.

Reactions to the plan have not all been positive or unqualified. Cosatu said it had serious reservations over the "conservative fiscal policies" the government intended to implement.

It did welcome, however, the plan`s focus on education, the use of public works programmes, the commitment to infrastructure development and tax incentives to encourage job creation.

Cosatu said it would submit the plan to its structures for further consideration, and that its executive committee would develop a more detailed response to the plan.

"We will judge the government`s document on its impact on the working class and the poor, job creation and job retention, wage levels, workers` rights, provision of infrastructure, role of the state in the productive sector of the economy and labour market policy," Cosatu said.

In its reaction, the SA Communist Party said it supported the objectives of the strategy and a number of its key features.

"The most important contribution of the strategy is its consistent endeavour to integrate different elements of policy. It provides a clear framework within which monetary and interest rate policy must work," the SACP said.

The questions of detail and implementation required ongoing scrutiny: "We have every intention of making an ongoing and constructive contribution to this process," it said.

President Nelson Mandela, addressing parliament at the close of his budget debate, said the plan provided guidelines for action and frameworks for operation of a quality which South Africa had never known before.

"Differences between parties over detail and development do exist... The strategies, frameworks and plans should be improved through criticism where necessary; and used for the benefit of the whole country," he said.

Parliament`s finance portfolio committee chair and ANC MP Zingile Dingani said the plan was the only option open to South Africa. It was necessary, reasonable and achievable.

"The document is not a replacement of the Reconstruction and Development Programme. It makes it possible to implement the RDP more effectively," he said.

He said unless South Africa addressed the high rate of unemployment, especially among youth, as a matter of priority the stability which had been achieved after April 1994 would not last.

The main elements of the plan include:

Cosatu said a number of the plan`s prescriptions fly in the face of labour`s proposals to Nedlac, as set out in the Social Equity and Job Creation document.

"These prescriptions do not take into account the state of development in the economy and the need for massive spending on infrastructure and development," Cosatu said.

The plan`s call for wage moderation sat uneasily with Cosatu`s policy of targeting the wage gap, and its call for `wage` moderation for senior managers and executives.

The SACP said the strategy resisted "free market dogmatism" by envisaging a key economic role for the public sector, including in productive investment.

It said the strategy reaffirmed the National Framework Agreement agreed to between government and labour on the process of restructuring state assets.

"On labour markets, the new macro-economic strategy envisages the extension of a regulated market and it introduces an innovative approach to flexibility. It rejects laissez faire market-driven flexibility and instead calls for negotiated regional and sectoral flexibility," the SACP said.


Economy `needs to shift gear`

The government`s economic policy needed to shift gear to deliver on RDP commitments, finance minister Trevor Manuel said when unveiling the government`s Strategy for Growth, Employment and Redistribution.

Manuel said this "change in direction" was necessary because current economic trends would not meet the country`s needs. Although the past two years had undoubtedly been better than the preceding decades, the economy was still performing below its real potential, he said.

If South Africa continued down the present economic road at a growth rate of about three percent, unemployment would actually increase rather than decrease. Increased government spending on social services would be severely limited and long term investment in South Africa would be minimal, Manuel said.

"This outcome is clearly unacceptable: we will not be able to deliver on the promises of the RDP. It will remain a dream," he said.


Govt committed to discipline while meeting basic needs

In implementing its new economic strategy, the government would not deviate from policies developed over the last two years to provide education, health, welfare services, housing, land and infrastructure to all South Africans, finance minister Trevor Manuel said.

The government`s fiscal policy - its use of public money - would be driven by a need to eliminate wasteful government expenditure, strengthen its capacity to deliver and avoid a permanent increase in taxes.

In doing so, it would need to prove its commitment to fiscal discipline, Manuel said.

Since it was unlikely that the government would be able to get much additional income, a reprioritisation of spending was necessary to meet the country`s pressing needs.

The RDP fund was created as temporary vehicle to help in this "massive expenditure reprioritisation", Manual said.

"It is now time to ensure that the budget must fall in line with the principles of the RDP, and must be evaluated to ensure that resources are placed within reach of those who are most in need," Manuel said.

A substantial reduction of the budget deficit was also one of the government`s priorities. The deficit is the amount by which government spending exceeds its income. It is generally measured as a percentage of the gross domestic product.

There has been a steady decrease in the budget deficit from almost eight percent in 1992/93 to a projected five percent this year. The government aims to reduce the deficit to three percent by the year 2000, beginning next year with a deficit of only four percent.

Chair of the parliamentary finance portfolio committee Zingile Dingani said reducing the deficit without taking into account other factors would reduce the government`s capacity to deliver, and thereby meet people`s basic needs.

He accepted, however, that the government`s plan was necessary under the circumstances.

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Labour Commission suggests jobs accord

A recent report on South Africa`s labour market urges government, business and labour to reach a deal to create jobs, writes a correspondent.

The Labour Market Commission, appointed last year by president Nelson Mandela, has suggested to government that it urgently convene a Jobs Summit to develop a coordinated approach to job creation.

The commission, which presented its report to the labour ministry recently, has proposed the summit to initiate an Accord for Employment and Growth between government, business and labour that would agree on guidelines on issues like wages, prices and investment.

The commission said its report was a policy framework which would generate more _ and better _ employment, and would eliminate discrimination in access to employment.

The report has made recommendations to government on reforming the labour market which will be processed and reviewed by the labour ministry. A government labour market policy would then be developed for presentation to cabinet.

Labour minister Tito Mboweni said the commission`s report was "broadly in harmony" with the government`s recently-released economic policy, Growth, Employment and Redistribution.

"The policy recommendation we finally adopt, following our study of the Labour Market Commission`s report will be undertaken in a manner that will be compatible with the general policy thrust outlined in the macro-economic policy document," he said.

The commission said it was the concern that an increase in productivity could hinder job creation that prompted its suggestion of an accord.

Cooperation through such an accord, the commission said, should balance business` requirement for competitiveness and profits, labour`s need for secure and well-paid employment, and society`s need for employment creation.

"The case for a negotiated approach is all the stronger given the challenges posed by the increasingly globalised and competitive economic environment, by South Africa`s high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality, and by the uncertainties that accompany a period of fundamental economic restructuring," the commission said.

The commission said it favoured an accord which was not be forced upon the social partners, but which was entered into voluntarily and which was largely self-regulating.

In its initial response to the report, Cosatu said it had a "negative view" of a social accord, fearing that it was a way to impose wage restraint on workers.

"Cosatu will not attend a conference where it will be told not to continue with the fight to close the wage gap or the inequalities which are based on sex and race," Cosatu said.

Cosatu said it supported some of the commission`s other recommendations, which included the need for a Social Plan Act, restructuring of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, phasing out of migration and setting of negotiated affirmative action targets.

Cosatu said its executive committee would discuss a more detailed response to the report at its meeting in late July.

The commission has also recommended measures to make the labour market more flexible. This didn`t mean that the commission favoured deregulation of the labour market or an attack on union rights and minimum standards. Rather it favoured labour market reforms which promoted workers` security while ensuring that labour could respond flexible to rapidly changing markets and technologies.

The way of achieving this flexibility was through collective bargaining and involving all affected parties in policy formulation.

The commission said its recommendations, taken together, would help to create jobs, improve wages and working conditions, increase productivity and international competitiveness and reduce discrimination and inequality in the labour market.

"The success of any of the elements of this package will depend on the government`s ability to expedite their implementation in a fashion that enjoys the full cooperation of the social partners," the commission said.


Youth and students must unite against higher education crisis

Racial violence and vandalism at tertiary institutions sets back the struggle for the fundamental transformation of the higher education sector, write ANC Youth League president Malusi Gigaba.

South Africa`s tertiary institutions have for many years been sites of student protests and strikes. Why then are recent disruptions at several institutions such a cause for concern? At the beginning of the 1990s, students under the leadership of the South African National Students Congress (Sansco), the predecessor of Sasco, began to advocate fundamental policy changes in these institutions - the `transformation` of these institutions from ivory towers to people`s institutions.

Students were also engaged in struggles about broader political issues. Struggles for free political activity, release of political prisoners, return of exiles and unbanning of political organisations were waged by students. In the new political dispensation, the struggles continue in different forms under different conditions. Although formal apartheid has been defeated, the bulk of the problems from the past still remain.

At the same time a different form of protest action has emerged. Legitimate and genuine protest action has often been followed by vandalism, looting, destruction of property, holding of hostages and other activities previously unknown in the history of the student movement. These have sometimes resulted in clashes of a racial character or clashes between students and the police.

These sorts of actions rubbish the legitimate grievances and demands of students. These actions deflect public attention from protests about genuine grievances to the vandalism, hostage-taking and racial clashes. They eradicate public sympathy for the students` demands and antagonise the middle-ground which could otherwise have been won. They tilt the balance of forces towards reactionaries at these institutions. Many justify these actions by arguing that students are frustrated by the pace and extent of change in their institutions. They have made countless proposals around transformation and very little has been achieved. Some see this as an opportunity to further their so-called `revolutionary` programmes, and others to further their attacks on the ANC. Since there is a ready-made crisis at tertiary institutions, the latter have chosen them as their battlefield.

Underlying causes The higher education crisis does not derive from students deciding to be malicious, unruly and unreasonable. There are fundamental issues needing to be exposed.

Higher education remains fragmented, racially and ethnically divided, undemocratically and incompetently governed, and inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of historically disadvantaged South Africans. Because higher education is key to the broader transformation of society, there are various forces, progressive and conservative, that are contesting the final outcome of the transformation process.

Aggravating the crisis has been the organisational weaknesses of the progressive forces, their failure to coordinate their own actions, clarify their vision and programmes and to mobilise people behind these. These structures have all suffered an exodus of experienced leadership, who have now been absorbed by parliament, government and the civil service. The membership profile of these forces, and that of their target constituencies, has changed. This movement has also been grappling with a new political orientation and new strategies owing to a change in the political landscape in the country.

These weaknesses among the progressive forces have opened up the gap for reactionary forces in the form of the Azanian Fronts and conservative administrators and students. They are able to detect these weaknesses and exploit them to cause conflict and racial clashes.

On the one side are forces steadfastly opposed to transformation, unwilling to address the needs and grievances of black students or acknowledge the needs of a democratic South Africa.

On the other side are forces with an excessive zest for `revolution`, shouting empty, emotionally-charged slogans that mislead rather than lead. They appeal to the sentiments of students frustrated by the slow pace of transformation and right-wing and insensitive administrations. Students that respond positively to these slogans do so not because they identify with Azanian politics or they`ve abandoned the ANC, but because the progressive forces have failed to provide sufficient direction.

Responding to the crisis We need a strategic breakthrough to the crisis. The entire higher education sector needs to be overhauled to become non-racial, democratic and united. There is also a need to inject the system with competent and sensitive leadership. South Africa`s tertiary institutions cannot debate transformation for the rest of our transition; at some point the implementation needs to start.

The national education department must lead this process. It must produce a green paper that overhauls the entire system. This should be accompanied by a strategic ministerial intervention to correct the National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE) process so that all can begin to focus on the content of the report.

A national framework agreement is also needed. This would provide a transitional framework agreed to by all constituencies and stakeholders to expedite transformation until there is a national legislative framework. It should contain a code of conduct for behaviour and conduct of stakeholders, regulating how to resolve disputes and conflicts and regulating the role of police and court interdicts. This framework should be agreed on at a higher education summit convened by the education minister.

The capacity of progressive forces at a tertiary level, particularly students, needs to be bolstered. Progressive forces must themselves develop consensus on higher education transformation through the ANC`s national education coordinating forum. They need to mobilise the entire democratic movement behind that vision and programme and engage society in public debates on these issues. The ANCYL and Sasco must expedite the process of forming a progressive youth alliance to deal with these problems, not just intervene each time there is a crisis. The formation of ANCYL branches in tertiary institutions should, therefore, be seen in the light of joining forces with and reinforcing Sasco and other progressive forces rather than a substitution for Sasco.

The progressive forces should vehemently contest the concepts of `academic freedom and autonomy`. Tertiary authorities should be challenged not to invoke these concepts each time they are confronted with genuine issues of transformation.

These concepts can only be applied once there is consensus among all stakeholders regarding transformation, and regarding the progressive content of the freedoms and autonomies of academics.


Cuban envoy with strong African ties

Cuba`s ambassador to South Africa has had a long association with the people of Africa. Mziwakhe Hlangani spoke to him.

Angel Dalmau, Cuban ambassador to South Africa, has had a long relationship with Africa, particularly the liberation movements of the south.

For the past 29 years Dalmau has maintained close ties with ANC, Swapo, Zanu and Zapu comrades who were on revolutionary missions in Egypt, where he started his diplomatic career in 1967.

"Africa is one continent that I have had the opportunity to nurture close relationships with. I can safely say I have experienced many of her political and economic problems, having communicated with leadership from various liberation movements in Africa," he says.

At the age of 23, Dalmau was posted to Cairo in Egypt, after he had joined the Cuban foreign service on completing his law degree at Havana University. He had an advantage over some of his colleagues because he had studied English from high school to tertiary level. He began his career as an interpreter for the Cuban ambassador to Egypt.

Dalmau was in his early teens when the revolutionary movement led by Fidel Castro deposed dictator Batista`s repressive regime on 1 January 1959. He still remembers vividly the moment it was announced that the disgraced General Batista had fled the country.

Dalmau was born in the rural town of Mathia Luna in Matanzas province. Matanzas province gained prominence after the `Bay of Pigs` episode in April 1961 when an abortive US-sponsored invasion was crushed by the Cuban defence force.

The political environment and his upbringing carved a conscientious and vigilant young nationalist. At the age of 14, he volunteered for the `People`s Militia` campaigns to guard against American counter- revolutionary activities.

Dalmau joined forces with multitudes of other youth who patrolled sugar plantations and agricultural production mills, since they were often targets of US-sponsored sabotage.

At the time Cuba had been expelled from the United Nations regional agency at the insistence of US government. The Kennedy administration had also initiated a full political and economic blockade.

Dalmau`s commitment to the people`s militia saw him participate in 1962 in one of Cuba`s historical literacy campaigns.

"This time, I was among tens of thousands of young students who voluntarily enlisted as temporary teachers after hours. The campaign was so successful that within a year, the illiteracy rate had declined from 27 to five percent both in rural and urban areas of Cuba," he says.

On receiving a scholarship, he went to study in Havana, and completed high school and tertiary education. Each year, between his studies he would take up communal work in the state maize, coffee and sugar cane farms. On some occasions he worked in cattle breeding cooperative farms. He also took part in several state projects where he was required to build houses.

Between 1965 and 1970, with the help of the Soviet Union, Cuba made substantial economic and social progress. At the same time Cuba played an increasingly greater role in international affairs, particularly Africa, to the irritation of the United States.

It was at this time that Dalmau developed close ties with many African states. During his four-year stint in Egypt his links with Angola`s liberation movement, the MPLA, and Zimbabwe`s Zanu and Zapu were reinforced.

In the early 1970s Dalmau was recalled to Cuba to take charge of the foreign service`s Africa desk. After a short while he was commissioned in the European Desk as first secretary in London.

On Angola`s achievement of independence from Portugal in November 1975, Dalmau was re-assigned to the Africa desk. This time he was appointed Cuban deputy ambassador in Angola. He was mainly responsible for intensive communication with the liberation movements in the southern African states.

Having participated in mediation during the deepening conflict in Angola between the MPLA and Unita, Dalmau was later appointed by the Cuban Communist Party to the take part in United Nations Monitoring Group in Angola.

The UN assignment saw Dalmau taking a high profile role in negotiations with apartheid South Africa in 1988 for the withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola. It was a role that culminated in the installation of the UN observer mission in Namibia, which prepared the way for the first democratic elections in 1990.

Dalmau later served for four years as Cuban ambassador in Namibia.

On 11 May 1994, when South African president Nelson Mandela established diplomatic relations with Cuba, Dalmau was appointed the first Cuban ambassador.

"Looking at the long and bitter past and suffering of South Africans, the meagre contributions by Cuba makes me happy and strengthens my hopes for the success of this country," he says.

That South Africa gained its freedom immediately after Namibia was an indication of the strength of the liberation movements, particularly since the Soviet Union had stopped supporting third-world revolutions, he says.

"As a revolutionary, this means much to me. Whatever is taking place I have seen a lot of hope in this part of the world. I am convinced, as always, that you cannot be oppressed for ever. We knew the ANC was going to win and it will win again and again," he says.

Though Cuban ties with the ANC had been strong before South Africa`s democratic election, there was nothing in terms of economic and development cooperation.

With a number of projects under discussion, Cuba and South Africa are looking at a possible bilateral common trade agreement.

There is a "very good pace" of exchange delegations between South Africa and Cuba, the latest culminating in the agreement for Cuban doctors to come and work in South Africa.


Cuban foreign minister urges cooperation

The Cuban foreign minister visited ANC headquarters last month and promised a strengthening of ties between South Africa and Cuba. Phil Nzimande reports.

Just hours after landing in the country, Cuban foreign minister Roberto Rabaina paid a special visit to ANC headquarters in Johannesburg.

He was met by ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu and ANC deputy secretary general Cheryl Carolus.

Carolus thanked Cuba for its generosity to the ANC in exile, saying she wished South Africa could pay Cuba back for these services. She said that despite the United States blockade, Cuba was still able to assist not only South Africa, but other countries. Carolus praised Cuba`s excellent health system, which she said South Africa could emulate. This was possible in that South Africa had a number of doctors who were trained in Cuba, including an advisor to health minister Nkosazana Zuma.

Rabaina said Cuba would always contribute to South Africa`s needs, particularly in the areas of health and technology. He said South Africa had no debt with Cuba - whatever his country did for South Africa was done for the love of humankind and peace.

Cuba was inspired by the process of transformation in South Africa, and was proud to have contributed towards it. He said Cuba had been with South Africans through very difficult times.

Rabaina thanked South Africa for its solidarity with Cuba during its current economic crisis. He said his country would not renounce socialism.

Rabaina invited South African business people to invest in Cuba. He said there were a lot of business opportunities in Cuba. Cuba had a well-developed infrastructure, technological and scientific advancement and political stability. "If we were able to share our poverty with you, we are still prepared to share our wealth with you," said Rabaina.

Foreign investment could not be allowed in the areas of education, health and defence, Rabaina said.

Rabaina also met with president Nelson Mandela at Tuynhuys in Cape Town. Mandela said without Cuba`s support, the struggle for liberation in South Africa would have been costly.

Rabaina also met with his South African counterpart, Alfred Nzo, where a joint communique committing themselves to strengthening relations between the two countries was signed.

In the document, both ministers stressed the need for the democratisation of the United Nations and its Security Council, and agreed to promote the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

The communique also said South Africa shared other countries` concern over legislation passed earlier this year by the United States Congress which permits punitive measures against countries trading with Cuba.

Rabaina said the legislation was clearly intended to strangle Cuba economically. No country, no matter how powerful could tell Cuba what to do.

During his visit, Robaina also paid a special visit to the grave of former housing minister Joe Slovo, and the June 16 Memorial Stone at Avalon Cemetery in Soweto.


Solving the Chinese puzzle

There is only one answer to the question of which `China` to have diplomatic ties with, argues Anthoni van Nieuwkerk.

Over lunch the other day, in a fashionable Chinese restaurant in one of Johannesburg`s upmarket northern suburbs, I was faced by a formidable trio of sober-looking Taiwanese diplomats. This wasn`t our first meeting; we`ve had fairly agreeable discussions before. But this time the atmosphere was distinctively gloomy. My mission: to obtain as much information as possible on Taiwan`s future relations with South Africa. Their mission: to convince me of the folly of the South African government even thinking of recognising diplomatically the People`s Republic of China.

The Chinese food was agreeable; the mood of the Taiwanese representatives not. They were out to give me the "worst-case scenario" speech. Great care was taken to explain to me, as "somebody with influence in policy circles", that Taiwan will take "extremely harsh measures" against South Africa if its government would ever sever diplomatic ties with the island. Examples were plenty: from China Air abandoning its Taipei- Johannesburg route and the Bank of Taiwan closing its doors, and the possibility of hundreds of Taiwanese entrepreneurs leaving the country, to the Taiwanese government withdrawing all support for our Reconstruction and Development Programme.

The discussion was blunt and to-the-point. Recognising that the People`s Republic of China (PRC) could actually be dangerous - it is a country known for not honouring pre-recognition promises, I was told. Why don`t we as South Africans simply maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which will mean continued economic support in return for this "act of friendship"? After all, I was assured, more than half of parliament, most of the provincial premiers and three quarters of cabinet had already experienced Taiwanese friendship of the most generous kind - by having themselves flown to Taiwan to witness the economic (and lately, political) miracle first-hand.

For those not familiar with Taiwanese chequebook diplomacy, this experience would be a modest example of the direct, confrontational and relentless lobbying which the Taiwanese are (in)famous for. But how should one interpret these political overtures? What lies behind the almost desperate efforts by the Taiwanese to retain South Africa`s diplomatic recognition? And most importantly, what should South Africa`s China policy be? How should it be determined? And by whom? The challenges facing South Africa in the process of re-joining the global community - coming, as it does, after so many wasteful years of apartheid-induced isolation - are many and varied. Many of these present South Africa with unique opportunities, as the recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) conference shows. Yet, reintegration into the global economy, which is driven by the twin processes of globalisation and liberalisation, will undoubtedly present us with a set of remarkably complex policy choices. Related to this is the question of how South Africa should structure its economic and political relations with the powerful nations, many of which are in the East. More pertinently, South Africa will need to address the question of its relations with the People`s Republic of China, with which we have no diplomatic relations.

But why is the PRC so important? Consider these facts. Many commentators regard the PRC as one of the next millennium`s superpowers. Having launched an economic reform programme in 1979, designed to modernise its economy and subject it to the forces of the market rather than the rules of central planning, the Chinese economy has taken off, growing at 9-10 percent a year for the last ten years. By some estimates, using purchasing power parity measurements, China is the third largest economy in the world today. Most multinational companies are present in China and western investment and aid is pouring into the country. Taiwan, too, is very active in the Chinese economy - it is the second largest investor in China, after Hong Kong.

As Richard Grant, a recognised expert on the PRC, reminded South African audiences recently, China is not just an important player in the world economy, it is also an increasingly significant force on the diplomatic stage. China is one of five nations with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. It is also an important player in a number of regional organisations in Asia, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group and the newly-created Regional Forum of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). China has diplomatic relations with most countries around the world, including most of Africa, and all of southern Africa, with the exception of South Africa.

The reason for South Africa`s non-recognition of the PRC is to be found in the policies of the previous apartheid regime. Under National Party rule, all countries governed by communist or socialist governments were seen as part of a conspiracy to overthrow minority rule in South Africa. The PRC was seen as part of this "total onslaught" and was therefore avoided. The Taiwanese government, itself a victim of defeat by the communists in 1949, was seen to be an ideal partner in countering this `onslaught`. Both pariahs, they stood together in the darkest years of apartheid, sharing intelligence and defence secrets. When South Africa was finally liberated in 1994, the Taiwanese did a quick assessment and decided to continue support for the government of the day. Amazingly, and to the astonishment of many in South Africa, the new government of national unity passively accepted the status quo, presumably leaving the tricky matter of resolving the Chinese dilemma for a later date.

In retrospect, this decision only compounded the problem, because it allowed the Taiwanese to gain an important strategic foothold in South Africa. Having sensed that the newly democratic South Africa was one of the very few nations - among thirty or so other, smaller, countries - still prepared to maintain full relations, its diplomats started a methodical and calculated strategy to convince influential interests in South Africa to maintain the status quo. By all assessments, this strategy has had a measure of success. However, this is not to say that South Africa`s policy-makers will not be able to make a cold, calculated decision, based on this country`s economic and political interests, of what its future China policy ought to be.

In my view, the two strong arguments in favour of diplomatic recognition of the PRC - which implies breaking off diplomatic, but not economic ties, with Taiwan - are of an economic and political nature.

Recent research indicates that the PRC is an important trade and investment partner. Moreover, this relationship is growing daily. If the trade figures with Hong Kong are included as part of the PRC figures, as will happen after July 1997, then the PRC ranks as the sixth most important trading partner in 1994 at R4,75 billion. Taiwan is in eighth place at R4,4 billion. Between 1990 and 1994, South Africa`s trade with the PRC increased by 226 percent. Trade with Taiwan increased by an important, though relatively insignificant, 12 percent. The PRC buy more `value-added` type exports from South Africa than Taiwan does, and there is great potential in iron-steel and coal exports to the PRC.

Wu Yi, the PRC`s minister of foreign trade and economic cooperation, reiterated this imperative when she addressed a group of business people in Johannesburg recently. Her message - that normalisation of relations can only benefit the already growing bilateral economic relationship, and that a range of agreements is waiting to be concluded that will enable trade to flow easier - was received with approval by the South African audience. The increasingly important political and strategic role of the PRC in Asian affairs will most probably expand in future, covering not only the geo-strategic Asian area, but other parts of the world as well.

Most informative was the recently-held dialogue in Bangkok on economic and political matters between members of the European Union (and other non-EU European countries) and Asian nations. Europe is simply recognising the importance of Asia, including the PRC, as the new centre of activity in global economic terms; hence the ground-breaking dialogue. The Americans are similarly maintaining a political dialogue with the PRC, simply because not to do so would hurt its economic interests. South Africa cannot afford not to recognise this trend; it must plan accordingly. For the PRC`s president Zemin to recently visit countries of the Southern African Development Community, but avoid South Africa, is not only deeply embarrassing; it actually amounted to a political and strategic opportunity wasted.

For me, the choice is clear. The only sensible option for the South African cabinet is to consider full diplomatic recognition of the PRC. Of course, the modalities of such a step, will have to be carefully calculated, and coordinated. In fact, it must be recognised that a difficult and lengthy period of negotiations will lie ahead, involving not only the normalisation of relations between the central governments, but also relations between sub-national units (such as provinces), the financial and legal regime, cultural affairs and a host of other aspects. These issues are best dealt with jointly by the departments of foreign affairs, trade and industry and finance, in conjunction with the parliamentary portfolio committee on foreign affairs. The latter could actually use the opportunity to consult with civil society concerning their preferences and choices. Where does that leave Taiwan? Well, they might be tempted to activate the `worst-case scenario` option.

Such retaliatory action will most probably damage the South African economy in the short term, but I would argue that the same strategy can effectively be turned around by carefully negotiating with the PRC how such damages can realistically be contained. But I do not believe that by diplomatically de-linking from Taiwan, such a scenario is inevitable. In spite of political posturing, in the past years, relations with Taiwan have increasingly revolved around the economic imperative, and indications are that the logic of economic opportunity will prevail. South Africa can only have diplomatic relations with one China - the PRC. But nothing prevents it from building mutually beneficial economic relations with all Chinese wherever they live.

Anthoni van Nieuwkerk is research director at the Foundation for Global Dialogue.


Gauteng wakes up to new challenges

The ANC in Gauteng earlier this year launched Operation Vuka to revitalise branch structures. Mziwakhe Hlangani spoke to provincial secretary Paul Mashatile about the challenges of this campaign.

Gauteng provincial secretary Paul Mashatile - the newly-appointed transport MEC - is upbeat about cadre development, leadership training and the membership drive programme launched in the province earlier this year.

With its recently-launched Operation Vuka, the province plans to use its MPs, MPLs and local councillors to ensure the ANC continues to lead the process of political and social transformation.

The main focus of the campaign is to resuscitate collapsed branches and transform the mass-based support of the organisation into active membership.

Mashatile said it had been noticed immediately after the local government elections that ANC structures had declined, largely due to fatigue.

"Our concern was that paid-up membership had gone down from 130 000 to 30 000 between 1995 and 1996. One of the reasons for this was that people were not renewing their membership. The campaign entails membership renewal drive," he said.

Certain areas and groupings were identified for special attention based on the election results. While the consolidation of African areas would continue, the drive was extended to focus for the first time on hostels, informal settlements and rural farm areas, he said.

The operation kicked off with the five provincial office bearers visiting all the new Gauteng regions between January and March.

"During those visits delegates from all branch executives, new regional executive committees, the women`s and youth leagues were interviewed. It became clear that the state of organisation in these areas was not as good as it should be. So in that way we started to engage branches in reviving our structures," he said.

Another priority of the ANC is to engage in capacity building to be able to influence policy-making in government and in the legislatures. Activists serving in policy units are directly linked with members of the caucus in the legislature, to ensure the ANC directs policy resources in government.

The development of ANC cadres is high on the list of priorities for the organisation. Training programmes have been developed for ANC members in finance and the economy and other aspects of running of local government.

These programmes have been extended to upgrade the skills of ANC provincial, regional and constitutional office staff. This is geared to ensure efficiency and effective administration in ANC offices.

A party political school had been set up this year to prepare the next layer of ANC leadership, Mashatile said.

The school includes skills training on the history of the ANC, its programmes and policies,and the future of the movement. A political education desk had been established with a full-time head and deputy.

"The training programme will take various forms. In some instances it would have to take the form of winter schools and in most cases get leadership from within our ranks to conduct lectures," he said.

Mashatile conceded that the PEC had overlooked strategies to organise among minority groups. It was hoped Operation Vuka tackle the issue of effective recruitment in minority areas.

He said the ANC had set up a few branches in almost all the minority areas, including rural farm areas, but the "strength of those structures is not such that our presence is yet felt".

Significant inroads into areas like Sandton and Randburg had been made during local government elections, Mashatile said.

"What is very interesting is that these elections gave us the opportunity to penetrate these exclusive areas. Interestingly, an impact in this regard is witnessed by most wards the ANC managed to win in areas like Verwoerdburg, Roodepoort, Sandton and Randburg and also in Indian and Coloured areas. And this winning trend will continue," he said.

Employment of full time organisers in all regions, has an added advantage for the Gauteng province since it has vast population in a geographically small area. In a recruitment and organising drive, all the various communities can be reached in less than five hours.

Mashatile said the relationship between ANC and SA National Civic Organisation members on the ground was very problematic at the moment.

A meeting aimed at resolving the conflict between individuals from Sanco and the ANC was planned for July. Progressive organisations would participate in the meeting, which was prompted by continuing attacks by members of either side. He said the relationship at that level needed to be urgently improved.


Political education gets a boost

The ANC has established a political education department to strengthen and revitalise its structures. Khensani Makhubela reports.

To help in the task of re-building the organisation, the ANC established in April this year a national department of political education. The aim of the department is to build political structures in the nine provinces and to develop a comprehensive internal education programme to address the political and organisational needs of the organisation. The department is responsible also for recognising changes in the types of ANC members and the diverse social base of the movement. The department will improve the effectiveness of the ANC in mobilising and organising the community in the process of transformation. It will build the capacity of leadership within the organisation and among ANC representatives in government.

The ANC needs cadres who are politically and ideologically equipped to drive the transformation process at all levels.

The ANC political education programme will draw from the experience of struggle and other experiences in the world, and will adapt to the new challenge of governance. The department will need a cohesive vision and theory of change that can inform the strategy and tactics at all levels. Skills like management and administration will also feature in the programme.

The department is to develop and coordinate training at many different levels within the organisation. Leadership, non governmental organisations (NGOs) and many government training facilities will be used to extend the training capacity of the programme. During the election periods the department will be able to play a vital role in ensuring continuity and to prepare for the election campaigning work of the organisation.

"We are getting a positive response from the people on our progress in the new department," says political education department head Naph Manana. He says people are eager to engage one another on ANC politics. In the past there were no formal political debates where people in the grassroots were able to express themselves, he says.

Manana says that his department has begun to encourage participation from ANC members in the discussions, both to absorb and understand new information and to evaluate it. The department asks for questions for discussion and opinions from people, and this prompts people to think about some of the difficult issues that are facing the organisation.

The department is in the process of empowering people with information and encouraging evaluation and thinking about the ANC, its policies and key organisational tasks. "A national meeting has been arranged for senior members of the organisation to deliver papers which will lead the way to the grassroots by explaining the aims and objectives of the ANC," Manana says.


Before the constitution becomes law

The constitutional text still has one hurdle to overcome before it becomes the new law of the land. Khensani Makhubela explains the role of the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court, which was established in terms of the interim constitution and is the highest court in the country, will sit in the first week of July to consider whether or not to certify the constitution text adopted in May by the Constitutional Assembly.

The new constitutional text cannot become law unless the Constitutional Court certifies that the provisions of the text comply with the 34 constitutional principles outlined in the interim constitution. These principles were agreed upon in multi-party negotiations as those which would underpin a new constitutional dispensation. The Constitutional Assembly was not empowered to change or deviate from any of these principles.

The Constitutional Court has asked the Constitutional Assembly to submit written argument on whether the 34 principles of the interim constitution have been complied with in the new constitutional text.

Any political party represented in the Constitutional Assembly that wishes to submit oral argument to the Constitutional Court can object to any clauses which they think aren`t in line with the constitutional principles. The Constitutional Court also invites members of the public to file written arguments on objections to the constitutional text.

"The constitutional court will conduct a public hearing in regard to the question of whether the 34 principles of the interim constitution have been complied with. Political parties have an automatic right of oral argument hearing in court," says senior state law adviser Gordon Oliver Hollamby.

"Other bodies which are not political parties that will be entitled to address oral argument to the court at the public hearing are Business South Africa and Cosatu on the lock out clause; the South African Agricultural Union and Transvaal Agricultural Union on the right to property and the Volkstaatraad on the right to self-determination," he says.

Hollamby says it is very important for the constitution to be certified: "The certification of the constitution is final and binding. Once the constitutional text has been certified by the Constitutional Court it is referred to the president for enactment." If the constitutional text is not certified by the Constitutional Court, it is referred back to the Constitutional Assembly to resolve the differences. If the Constitutional Assembly is not able to resolve the differences, the constitutional text is referred to the president.

"The president calls for a decision by the electorate by way of a national referendum. The constitutional text presented to the electorate in the referendum shall become a new constitution if it is approved by a majority of at least 60 percent of the electorate," Hollamby says.

This will mean that the constitutional text becomes law - and the new South African constitution.


New SABC TV gets mixed reviews

The SABC launched its new TV channels earlier this year. Khensani Makhubela found out about the reception it had received among the public.

Noxolo Khala is happy with the changes in the new SABC television: "The new SABC programmes are educative, entertaining and informative, unlike the old SABC which only brought boring programmes that did not benefit anyone," she says.

"I think with time the new SABC will be doing far better than now. In a short space of time they have proved to be very good. However, I have a problem with the presenters that presented in the old SABC - I think they should give youth a chance to present the programmes," says Khala.

"Glamour is for young people. We can`t keep on seeing old faces on our screens. I also suggest that when they are choosing their presenters they should not take people because they have been Miss South Africa, Soweto or whatever. They should give people who have never been in the limelight a chance," Khala says.

Phindi Mtswueni feels that although the SABC programmes have been improved, townships are left out in their recorded shows. "Take, for example, a show like Studio Mix: they sometimes go out of Gauteng or to other countries like Swaziland to record their shows in town, but never in the townships. They should involve us in the shows because we also have activities in the townships," she says.

Mtswueni would like the time for local dramas to be extended. She feels that thirty minutes is very short for good programmes. She says that our local dramas are now educative, unlike the local dramas from the old SABC.

Mpho Modise says that the SABC has changed for the better. "One does not have to be lonely and bored anymore because there is a best friend, SABC, any time of the day now. The programme line-up is good even during the day," she says.

Modise feels the new SABC is bringing back the culture which South Africans had lost. She says it broadcasts its programmes in all the languages in the country and this enables it to reach every South African, unlike the old SABC where the programmes only catered for a privileged few. Like Modise, Shaman Mabela and Tshidi Mabuya say that the new SABC encourages its viewers to learn about other people`s language and culture.

"I used to think that Venda was one funny language, that one would never understand or learn. But with the new SABC I learnt to appreciate the language and I now understand it," says Mabela.

Mabuya adds: "This is a good lesson for us, we will now learn to respect and love one another as South Africans. We won`t undermine each other`s languages and culture anymore." "I am a television lover and the SABC has finally met my demands," says Farhad Hassim. He says that they have good programmes, particularly mini series. Local programmes are also done well, he says. One can change from one station to another without getting bored because all the stations have interesting programmes, he says.

"Another thing that I like about the new SABC is the multi languages that it uses. It is promoting everyone`s language. I think everyone is catered for now," Hassim says.

Atalia Phungo says that the new SABC has changed for the better because it broadcasts popular programmes twice and that "shows courtesy" to its viewers.

"Programmes like The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of Our Lives and our local dramas are repeated in the morning so that the people who did not have time to view them the previous night can view them in the morning. This is good because no-one is left out. Even those who work night shifts can catch up with the new SABC," Phungo says.

Phungo feels that there is no need to pay for M-Net programmes anymore, because the SABC is now broadcasting the same programmes as M-Net .

"I love the new SABC, but there is something missing in it. They should bring back Sky News and forget about CNN. Sky News brings news about us, unlike CNN which tells us about America only, as if we live there," says Gin Sewell.

She adds: "The programmes are good and I think they will improve more with time. I had never enjoyed TV like this before. Now my needs are met, although I think SABC should get English football and we will all cancel our M-Net contracts." Makhosana Nhlapho feels that the new SABC lacks talk show programmes. "Talk show programmes encourage people to debate and argue important issues. They are informative, educative and entertaining," he says.

"I have learnt a lot from Felicia Mabuza-Suttle`s shows and I think Oprah Winfrey`s shows should be broadcast when many people are at home because they serve the same purpose as Felicia`s and they are very interesting as well," Nhlapho says.

Mone Maccarrum says that SABC programmes have improved tremendously: "The programme line-up is very good and interesting and it caters for everyone." "There are very good movies on Fridays and this is good because everyone is home on time on Fridays and school children don`t need to go to bed early, they can watch TV until very late," Maccarrum says.

Andrew Moleko disagrees with Maccarrum. He says the new SABC is worse than the old one.

"They have brought silly programmes which are a bad influence on children. The language is obscene and they do not educate children with anything. It is very corruptive towards children. It has no Christian programmes anymore - young people need spiritual programmes as well," says Moleko.

He says that the programmes are badly arranged. "On Sunday afternoons they should bring back spiritual programmes, and they should stop broadcasting music programmes that are full of today`s music, which is not good at all." Moleko says they should bring old songs that will revive their old good days.

Joan Smith (not her real surname) says the new SABC is terrible: its programmes are always broadcast ten minutes after the scheduled time. She says SABC 3 is the worst because when viewers are waiting for the news or the next programme, they put horrible videos on which she thinks they get for free. "These people don`t cater for old citizens. We are always at home but there are no programmes for us. They put educational school programmes during the day while children are at school. What about the unemployed, housewives, disabled and us pensioners? Where do we feature? They should review their programmes and stop discriminating against people," Smith says.

"On weekends, SABC has nothing interesting except for news, which is the only thing that I watch. In the past we used to have very good programmes on weekends which used to be enjoyed by everybody," Solly Ndebele says.

He adds: "During the week we are too tired to watch television and that`s when they bring good programmes, and the programmes are broadcast very late at night."


Book Review

A collection of poems published as a gift to President Nelson Mandela capture aspects of the recent history of South Africa and neighbouring countries. June Madingwane reviews the poems.

Saturday in Africa is a collection of poems which celebrate the 77th birthday of President Nelson Mandela. Besides the poems, the author tells stories with pictures. Some of the photos in this book are of boys riding bicycles, women weaving baskets, naked children, landmines, local stores, penny-whistlers and many more. These also help the reader to take a journey down memory lane.

Also featured in these pictures is Mandela on the day he was released from prison. It is easy to re-live the moment of glory when the whole of South Africa seemed to be at a standstill. Songs of praise came from all directions and the celebrations went on endlessly. His release brought about hope to those who suffered during the long and hard years of apartheid. His release was also the birth of a rainbow nation. It is said that on that day a rainbow appeared in the sky, though there was no rain.

The Freedom Charter appears in the form of a poem in this book. The struggles of the freedom fighters are revisited. It is true that they did not go through hell for nothing. Now that they are reaping the fruit of what they have sown, it is true that `perseverance is the mother of success`. The writer has a fascinating way of reciting in the voice of a child. This is done in poems like `Waiting for Mama`. The poem is about a young coloured boy who lives with his mother. the mother works for long hours and she comes home late. This boy likes to wait for his mother in front of a caf‚. The owner does not like that. He always sends him home when he sees him sitting on the stoep. Now the only place where he can wait is on the stairs of the flat where they are staying.

This type of lifestyle is common among a lot of families. Another poem is about a young boy who lives in the rural areas. His father works in the mines and spends most of the time away from home. This boy would like his father to see him grow tall and strong, but the father cannot see all that because he has to live in the mines and is only allowed to go home after a year.

In another poem, a young girl describes the local trading store where they sell `everything`. She admires her mother as she manages to buy everything the need with a few coins. This young girl vows to give her mother a better life when she grows older and gets a good job.

Most of the poems in this book are of South African incidents and events. The struggle for freedom is dominating other events. Besides those, there are poems about other African countries like Angola, where children were forced into the army. Their childhood is snatched away as they have to destroy people and what they stand for. These children dream of a life without war. A life where they do not need to use guns. The dreams of these children are destroyed as they face a bleak future without some of their limbs. All this is caused by landmines which are planted all over their villages.

The author begins the book with a poem called `A Saturday in Africa`. She talks about an ordinary day where people go about their usual business and children play in their backyards and in the streets. This is a bright day where everyone is enjoying life. The last poem in this book is called `Another Saturday in Africa`. There is not much difference between the two poems except that in the second poem thugs, muggers, and thieves do their best to make the lives of other people miserable.

The poems in this book are written in a free-flowing style and are easy to read and understand. The book can be read by anyone who has a passion for poetry.

Title: Saturday in Africa Author: Patricia Schonstein Pinnock Publisher: African Sun Press