Volume 8 No. 1 - April 1997


Contents


Editorial

Building a better life for all

"A better life for all."

Remember that slogan? It was painted on posters, glued onto walls, nailed to trees and strung across streets during the run-up to the 1994 elections. It was the slogan around which we mobilised South Africans in support of democracy. It was not an election promise. It was a statement of our vision.

This month, on the third anniversary of our election victory, it is worth asking: Have we fulfilled our mandate? Have we brought about a better life for all? Have we achieved our vision?

No-one can question the gains we have made: from the creation of our new constitution, through the food and security nutrition programmes, to the provision of electricity, water and housing to hundreds of thousands of people.

We have taken a firm grip on the South African economy, broadening its base and giving more people access to jobs and wealth. We have silenced the guns which barked across our country, bringing an end to political violence. We have taken command of the political process, implementing electoral democracy at all three levels of government. National, provincial and local governments are now all geared towards meeting the needs of the people. We have, as our January 8 statement points out, "achieved the beginnings of real democracy -- and there is no going back."

Delivery

On a more practical level, we have seen the delivery of basic services to the people, in particular to the poor of our country. As the January 8 statement says: "Communities across South Africa, away from the limelight of the national media, are beehives of activity. Streets are being tarred, refuse collection improved, schools are being renovated, clinics are being built and upgraded. Even on the housing front, where progress has been slow, construction is starting to come on stream. We are not moving as fast as we would like. We have reverses and make mistakes. But everywhere there is now tangible evidence of a new South Africa in the making."

Major difficulties still remain for our country: Our police service continues to battle the scourge of crime and criminals. Budgetary constraints limit our ability to pump money into much-needed facilities such as schools and health care facilities. But on the whole, there can be no doubt that we have started to provide "a better life for all".

The next phase

In two years' time, South Africans go to the polls again. It will be an opportunity for our people to give a fresh mandate to the party of their choice, and give new impetus to the national democratic revolution.

We cannot take the support of the masses for granted, and our elections unit is hard at work to ensure that we are well-prepared.

But it is vital that elections are not seen as a separate task from the overall strategy and vision of our organisation. The work of our elections unit, at all levels, must be integrated into the broad work of the movement as a whole.

Our preparations, our strategising and our actions must all take place within the framework of the January 8 statement.

A strong mandate

Ultimately, the success or failure of our country depends on our movement receiving a strong mandate in 1999. The stronger the mandate for the ANC, the more decisively our movement can act in government to bring about change.

In the same way, the success or failure of our election campaign depends on the ability of our own structures to organise and mobilise. A successful election campaign can only take place if we have strong, active structures. It is here that you and every other ANC cadre have a role to play. Whether you are employed or unemployed, a domestic worker or a civil servant, a student or a teacher, you have a role to play in ensuring the continued consolidation and growth of our organisational structures.

And for this reason, if no other, we need to ensure that we all play a part in making 1997 the year for consolidating the national democratic revolution -- and the year for reaffirming the ANC cadre.


A look at events which made news in March

Ginwala becomes first Chancellor of PE Technikon

Speaker of the National Assembly Frene Ginwala became the first chancellor of the Port Elizabeth Technikon.

It was a tribute to the national liberation movement and a celebration of the values and principles for which many South Africans had sacrificed so much, Ginwala said during her inaugural address as Chancellor.

The election of the first chancellor was especially significant precess involving all the stakeholders.

The inauguration of a chancellor also represented a recognition by society of the importance of technikon education, which had been previously accorded lower status in an elitist education hierarchy.

South Africans still had to go a long way to make the phrase a "new" South Africa meaningful because abject poverty, an absence of jobs, homes inadequate education and health care still remained dominant in the lives of millions of the country's people.

"It is how we, as individuals and institutions address these problems, that is the real challenge before us," Ginwala said.

Alliance announces anti-crime plans

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and its alliance partners calls on their supporters to march against crime at venues around the country on Saturday 8, in a new campaign against crime.

The aim of the campaign, according to Cosatu Secretary-General Sam Shilowa, is to create crime awareness among the community.

"This is also International Women's Day, and we shall be using the occasion to focus attention on one of the most serious crimes ­ the question of crime and violence against women and children," Shilowa said.

The focus, Shilowa said, was part of a broader Masakhane campaign in which communities were mobilised to become active in the struggle for transformation and join the fight against crime.

One of the campaign's aims was to support the South African National Civics Organisations' (Sanco) "Operation Mpimpa" by encouraging communities to speak out fearlessly against crime and expose criminal networks.

"We shall reclaim our streets, houses and parks. We want a society where women and children are able to walk free without fear of being abducted and gangraped," said Shilowa.

The alliance also want to encourage communities and its supporters to become actively involved in community policing forums, and help to rehabilitate criminals and turn them into useful community members.

Anglican bishops ask for forgiveness from homosexuals

The Church of the Province of Southern Africa (CPSA) condemns, as unacceptable, the harshness and hostility being meted out to gays and lesbians by its members.

"We repent of this attitude and ask for forgiveness of many homosexual people who have been hurt, rejected and marginalised because of this deep-rooted prejudice," read the CPSA's synod of bishops statement.

The church said it had over the centuries rejected many people because of their sexual orientation.

Further study needed to be done within the church on homosexiality, and on the whole range of human sexuality.

The synod, however, stressed its rejecion of sexual promiscuity, saying promiscuity hindered the establishment of stable relationships and was usually an expression of selfishness and greed which was contrary to the church's faith. Promiscuity was cheapening and even dehumanising many relationships.

Buthelezi Acting President for the second time

Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi accepts the position of acting President for two days, saing that being in charge was nothing new to him.

"It is awe inspiring to be head of state even for a couple of days, especially as powerful a state as this one," he told reporters in Pretoria after being sworn in by Constitutional Court President Mr Justice Arthur Chaskalson.

"As far as being in charge is concerned, you must appreciate that my ancestors on both sides have ruled for quite a long time and that I myself at one time adminstered kwaZulu. It is a greater responsibility to be in charge of a whole country, but there is really nothing new about it," he added.

Buthelezi said he appreciated the trust President Nelson Mandela had placed in him by appointing him to the position of acting president for the second time in a few weeks.

Mandela was engaged in a tour of Bangladesh and India, while Deputy President Thabo Mbeki was engaged in peace talks in Zaire and also travelled to Angola.

Buthelezi had acted in Mandela's capacity in February while Mandela and Mbeki attended a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

TRC investigators find hidden graves

Six former security policemen have led Truth Commission investigators to the secret graves of ten murdered anti-apartheid activists in KwaZulu-Natal.

The policemen, from Durban and Pietermatitzburg, had identified the activists in their amnesty applications.

The remains of two Operation Vula operatives, Mbuso Tshabalala and Charles Ndaba, who went missing after being arrested by the police in Durban in July 1994 are believed to be in the graves.

Operation Vula was an African National Congress operation intended to set up underground structures inside South Africa. Arms and Umkhonto weSizwe guerillas were infiltrated into the country.

Transport Minister Mac Maharaj, a former Vula operative, said that police had denied detaining Tshabala and Ndaba at the time they went missing.

However, former Vlakplaas commander Eugene de Kock had revealed during his trial that the men had been detained, tortured and killed.

The policemen had also taken the investigators to a site on the banks of the Tugela River where two of the activists were allegedly shot and their bodies weighted down with rocks before being thrown into the river.

The policemen had told the investigators that four more people had been blown up "in such a way that very little remained of their bodies."

The commission was in a process of confirming the identities of the activists and notifying their next of kin.


Provincial Briefs

Northern Province

After a series of discussions the ANC in the Northern Cape and North West provinces has reached a common agreement with regard to the Taung/Kuruman Kudumane border demarcation dispute.

The two provinces agreed that the Taung and Kuruman districts presently under the North West province be reincorporated into the Northern Cape province. The decision was reached after thorough consultation with other stakeholders in the respective areas. The provinces will, however, continue to consult with the affected communities and other important structures. The alliance partners in both provinces are in full support of the current position.

In taking this decision a number of key strategic considerations were taken into consideration. These included economic linkages between Kuruman Town and Kudumane in the Northern Cape and Kudumane in the North West. The economic linkage between Harswater and Pampierstad in Taung; is advancement of effective implementation of the RDP and to ensure that the effective and efficient service delivery and development to enhance reconciliation and nation building.

North West

After a prolonged debate on the Taung-Kudumane border dispute the Kehla Shubane commission was set in place to investigate the issues surrounding the incorporation of some parts of the North West into the Northern Cape. Already the commission has enjoyed a warm reception from the entire public with a lot of submissions from affected stakeholders in the affected parts of the two provinces.

In February the Department of Political Education and Training successfully conducted a series of Masakhane workshops in the province. The RDP Unit is also preparing for the first meeting of its RDP council to discuss the issue of delivery at local level and to strategise for the year ahead.

The Youth League, on the other hand, is preparing itself for the cadreship development summer school. The main aim of this school is to develop comrades politically.

Gauteng

The Department of Political Education and Training in Gauteng province held three Masakhane Campaign workshops in February.

This step was taken by ANC towards redefining the campaign and clear the narrow interpretations of Masakhane Campaign. In the past, Masakhane has been seen and portrayed by many as a campaign to get blacks to pay for services and divorced the wider development and transformation thrust.

The workshops are meant for all Masakhane coordinators at all branch and council areas and are intended to develop a shared understanding of the campaign itself. They will also begin a process of the party's plans to put in place, and focus on, the People's Weekend identified as 21 to 23 March 1997. This is meant to unlock mass participation in the development and transformation of communities in the various people's forums around participatory budgeting.

Masakhane People's Weekend will be a period marked by various community activities in council areas. It will see the revamping community spirit and building closer partnerships between council, government, communities and business.

These activities will herald a new approach to Masakhane Campaign. The ANC and its alliance will extend an invitation to all communities and their organised formations to join hands in reclaiming their streets, and gaining control and shaping of their destiny through passionate involvement in developing and transforming their communities.

Western Cape

The ANC's Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) in the Western Cape has given its constitution negotiators the go-ahead to come up with an acceptable package regarding a Government of Provincial Unity after the 1999 general elections.

This follows a report given to the PEC at its monthly meeting. During recent negotiations it became clear that both the National Party and other parties were opting for this policy.

However the ANC's team will specifically look at an activation clause which will require at least a 75 percent majority for a GPU to be implemented. The NP is looking at a 60 percent majority.

Following a recent meeting with all ANC Western Cape MP's and MPLs it was agreed that constituency offices will play a more meaningful role in the areas where they are situated.


Letters to the Editor

Realignment of political formations

I am a little confused as to the nature of political activity surrounding preparations for the upcoming elections in two years.

Seemingly, the ANC wants or is courting partners to help it govern or maybe promote further reconciliation amongst some of the smaller political parties. Well, I must say that is very nice.

However, something is lost in this process. The ANC seems not to have a vision of what direction it wants to take the country beyond the laudable goal of reconciliation. In other words, the body politic does not have a clear picture of where the country is going as we approach the 21st century.

Now, someone can point to the RDP and what has been accomplished within those goals. That would be missing the point. The essence of that document is a laundry list of what the government is going to deliver. Missing is what the citizenry's responsibilities are in attaining those goals.

Moreover, there needs to be an emphasis on the kind of citizen that the new South Africa values and seeks to create.

Showing genuine differences between different parties will increase democratic culture in South Africa. Having different parties joined together for amorphous goals will increase cynicism and lead an erosion of democratic values.

One of the fundamental tasks of the ANC must surely be an unyielding construction of a democratic society.

Genuine competition for power and prestige should be encouraged as long as it functions within the parameters of a democratic constitution.

Now, the point is this: with so many parties in the government, how do we clearly hold anyone accountable or responsible for policy foibles.

Since every one will have a hand in government, then clearly, no one party can take the blame when things go wrong. Where ever this has happened it leads to the discrediting of the whole political class, it leads to a rise of extremist groups. Witness Algeria.

Since I am not a politician, I believe I can give non self-serving advice to the ANC. The ANC should govern alone. The upcoming elections should not be about what the ANC has done in the past. They should not be about who the ANC governs with.

These elections should be about what the ANC stands for. What the ANC's agenda is for our children, and what the ANC has done in governing the country and creating jobs for our people.

The job of the other parties is to do the same. They should tell us what they would do differently. They should stand for something other than sponging for jobs within an ANC administration.

In addition, the government should clearly make its position regarding future acts of political violence crystal clear to all now. There must be a zero tolerance for any political formation that engages or even threatens the use of violence to advance its political objectives.

The ANC must make it clear that we will never ever again have political murders and crimes ever go unpunished merely in exchange for admission for partaking in those very crimes.

Moreover, those individuals who fail to take the amnesty that was proffered to them must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. The government must make it clear that those who have refused our generous offer to forgive will be pursued and punished.

Magayaizizwe Zungu,
Cape Town

The right to choose

I would like to congratulate the government for passing the Termination of Pregnancy Act. The Act restores our humanity as it gives every woman the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

It is wiser to have an abortion than to have a child that you are not ready for. It is hard to bring up a child you feel you cannot adequately provide for because you can't afford to. I am aware that one should take precautions when having sex, but that is not a guarantee that you won't fall pregnant.

The problem of unwanted pregnancy or abortion does not only affect teenagers but married people as well. I am glad that our government recognises this and has given the women a choice.

Ntombi Makhuvu,
Johannesburg

Backstreet abortions

I am grateful for the Termination of Pregnancy Act which gives women control over their bodies. Abortion affects two people, one who have to father the child and the mother. Pro-life and religious groups talk about it, but they do nothing about it because they are also not sure of their reservations on abortion. Whether they like it or not, backstreet abortions are being performed and unfortunately women are dying as a result of this.

The right to abortion will minimise the problem of street children. People do not dump their children because they want to, but are forced by laws which prevented them from terminating unwanted pregnancies.

It is a good thing that it is now an individual's right to decide on abortion.

Mgqibelo Gasela,
Johannesburg.

Victory for the people

The Labour Relations Act is a victory for the people of South Africa, particularly for us as workers. The Act will make a difference in our lives. It is going to emancipate us as workers and everyone must abide by it.

Employers cannot do without workers, just as workers cannot do without employers. But many employers treat workers badly. As a worker I now claim the same right as my employer. In the past I used to work overtime and I was never paid for it. With the new Act I can work reasonable hours or I can be compensated for working extra hours.

Employers will now be forced by law to pay better wages and to improve working conditions.

Takalani Mahosi,
East Rand

TRC serves as therapy

I am concerned about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I don't think it is effective enough. What is going to happen after people have told the truth? I think it only serves as therapy for those who committed crimes.

The commission is too lenient. We need something harsher that will satisfy everybody. We should be very careful with the term indemnity. Indemnity should not apply to everyone. There should be special cases where indemnity is granted. Victims who ended up as perpetrators should at least qualify for it. But those who were aggressors must be punished.

In fact, it will be to their advantage if they stay in prison since the community will not live with them. They must serve their sentences first.

Lydia Ngoasheng,
Soweto


The NP TRC submission:

This is shameful, De Klerk

FW De Klerk, on behalf of his NP, has recently issued a second submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Those who expected De Klerk to show a few more signs of remorse, a slight awareness of the terror and havoc into which the NP plunged our country, will be gravely disappointed. Once more, De Klerk seeks to whitewash the role of the NP and its leaders.

The new NP submission tells us that four and a half decades of apartheid rule can be categorised into "four periods" - 1948-1960 (which it describes as the years of "rigid apartheid"); 1960-1978 ("separate development"); 1978-1990 ("reform and revolutionary conflict"); and 1990 to the present ("negotiations and political normalisation").

De Klerk acknowledges that the first two periods were "failures", the policies were "unworkable". But he wants us to believe that they were "well-intentioned failures". He is asking us to believe that the earlier generation of NP leaders genuinely wanted the best for all South Africans and that they felt that a little bit of separation would help everyone! This is preposterous.

It is also not remotely how the NP leaders of the day presented their case. This is what Verwoerd said in 1963, for instance: "Keeping South Africa white can only mean one thing, namely: white domination, not leadership, not guidance, but control, supremacy."

But the most shameful part of De Klerk's recent submission is not how it tries to paint the earlier period of apartheid rule. Much more disgraceful is its handling of the last twenty years.

De Klerk puts it quite bluntly: "My administration and that of my predecessor (PW Botha) belonged to the reform and transformation periods of the NP...it is quite incorrect to refer to our administrations as the apartheid Government. We were primarily concerned with the dismantling of apartheid".

This is breath-taking stuff. The states of emergency in the late 1980s were the dismantling of apartheid? The 80 000 people, including 15 000 children detained without trial, that was the dismantling of apartheid? The 70 detainees who died in detention in this period, again, this was dismantling apartheid?

We must also never forget that the late 1970s and the decade of the 1980s were the period that saw a sustained onslaught by the apartheid regime on all of southern Africa. The destabilisation campaign against our neighbours reached, in the words of a 1989 Commonwealth report, "holocaust" proportions. The report estimated that the human cost of PW Botha's Total Strategy was 1.5 million dead through military and economic destabilisation, with a further 4 million displaced from their homes.

Yet De Klerk tells us in 1997 that he would "like to place on record the role played by my predecessor, President PW Botha, in initiating the process of change."

If you think this is scandalous, then even more scandalous is De Klerk's attempt to gloss over the realities within South Africa of his own period as NP leader and apartheid president.

As our own ANC submission to the TRC last year noted: "The violence against (South African) civilians in the post-1990 phase during the so-called peaceful transition to democracy - was infinitely worse than anything experienced during the height of repression in the Emergency years of the mid-1980s". Between July 1990 and the end of 1993 over 12 000 civilians were killed and at least 20 000 were injured in thousands of incidents, including scores of major massacres. In this period the Human Rights Commission also recorded the accelerating pace of assassinations of anti-apartheid figures: 28 in 1990, to 60 in 1991, and 97 in 1992.

Yes, it is true, that at this time De Klerk was negotiating with the ANC. But we must never forget, and the evidence for this is mounting every day, that massive internal destabilisation of the democratic movement was part and parcel of the NP's negotiating strategy. In 1991/2, in the midst of the negotiations, De Klerk's government spent a whopping R21,5 million on covert operations.

De Klerk is being less than honest to the South African public in general. But he is also walking away, in the most cowardly fashion, from any political responsibility for what his security and intelligence forces were doing at the time.

In this new submission, De Klerk is happy to assert that "it is not the purpose of this submission to provide details of specific incidents...detailed submissions will be made in this regard by the former leadership of the SA Police and by the SANDF". Let them stew!

What this neat separation between NP politicians and apartheid security forces conveniently overlooks is that, precisely during the era of PW Botha and FW De Klerk (the so-called era of "reform and transformation"), the military and intelligence structures were increasingly politicised, and politics was increasingly militarised.

FW De Klerk's latest TRC submission is shameful. He must not be allowed to get away with it!


People's expectations:

Victories and challenges for government

Has the government achieved what it had set out to achieve? What do people think about the progress, or lack thereof, so far Khensani Makhubela finds out.

Nonhlanhla Nkosi thinks it is unfortunate that the political party she voted for has not met her expectations: "I expected the government to offer bursaries to students who can't afford to pay schools fees." She is convinced this is the least the government can do for its people.

"I can give the government a chance but just before the 1999 general elections I expect it to have fulfilled most of its promises," says Nkosi.

Thandi Mati says: "My expectations from the new government was to have qualified teachers employed, as I don't want to be taught by teachers who consult a dictionary throughout the lesson."

"I expect the politicians to create employment for the people, because without employment we can't buy or rent the houses that the government promised to build," Thabo Motaung says.

He adds: "I feel that the government has done well so far, compared to the old government. I have seen change in education, especially with the new schools bill that caters for all the people of South Africa."

Serina Tunara feels that the employment rate in this country is dropping while the crime rate is increasing. "I expected the government to have created employment by now, and if it does that the rate of crime will drop."

Malerato Sekga agrees with Tunara. The level of crime is shocking, especially rape. "The government should learn from the Islamic countries who have managed to bring the level of crime down," she says. "We should cut off the limbs of those who commit crime, and that will definitely stop them from their practices," Sekga says.

"I am disappointed that nothing has changed from the old government. We didn't have jobs then and we still don't have them even now," says Nomaswati Sibeko.

Percy Thabethe says he expects the government to keep its 1994 promises. "Mass projects like building houses and bringing an end to crime have not been seriously addressed. Our government is not sympathetic to black aspirations while it protects white business interests," he says.

"The government is neglecting tertiary institutions financially. I expect the government to put more money into education, especially on historically black universities," Moleteng Malapane says.

Brandon Butler says the government should address the issue of crime with immediate effect, especially within the South African Police Service. "Our police force is corrupt, it needs reshuffling particularly the officers who still serve the interest of the old government."

Gordon Debraine says that the youth of this country are not taken care of. "These are the people who should be protected at a tender age. By protecting them we will be bringing the rate of crime down."

Sipho Nyama says we are expecting too much from the government. "Nothing can change your life and no one can change your life, except yourself. I would advise people to help themselves first before they can expect help from the government."

Landi Zulu concurs, "You should not expect too much from the government. You should help yourself first; employment does not mean working at a factory, in an office or being a public servant - it means going out and start something like what street vendors are doing," he says. "We are expecting too much from the government, we should at least meet it half way."

Noxolo Mlandeli says that if only we can give the government a chance they will fulfil their promises. "The apartheid government was not built in one day, so it won't be possible for us to demolish it in one day. The ANC government is hardly three years but it is being criticised from all angles," adding, "Most people that are criticising the government are those that don't want to see change. They are the founding fathers of apartheid and they give the masses false information. I am happy with our government."


Provinces get direct representation in parliament

The NCOP replaced the Senate and came into operation on 4 February 1997, in terms of South Africa's new constitution. Phil Nzimande explains its workings and how it is constituted.

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP), along with the National Assembly, is a component of parliament. It represents the provinces to ensure that provincial interests are taken into account in national government. It does this mainly by participating in the national legislative process and by providing a national forum for public consideration of issues affecting the provinces.

The NCOP replaced the former Senate and came into operation on 4 February 1997, in terms of South Africa's new constitution.

There are 90 delegates in the NCOP. Each of the nine provinces are represented by ten delegates.

Each province's delegation is composed of:

The premier of a province heads the delegation.

Chairperson and Deputy Chairpersons

The NCOP is presided over by a Chairperson, who is assisted by two Deputy Chairpersons.

The Chairperson and one of the Deputy Chairpersons are elected from among the permanent delegates for a period of five years. The other Deputy Chairperson is elected for a term of one year, and must be succeeded by a delegate from another province, so that every province is represented in turn.

The President of the Constitutional Court must preside over the election of the Chairperson, or designate another judge to do so. The Chairperson in turn presides over the election of the Deputy Chairpersons.

The National Council may elect, from among the delegates, other presiding officers to assist the Chairperson and Deputy Chairpersons. The Council may also remove the Chairperson or any of the Deputy Chairpersons from office.

Former Free State premier, Mr Patrick "Terror" Lekota was elected the first Chairperson of the Council. Mr Bulelani Ngcuka and Dr Frank Mdlalose, who is former KwaZulu/Natal premier, were elected Deputy Chairpersons.

Permanent delegates

A person nominated as a permanent delegate must be eligible to be a member of the provincial legislature. If a person who is a member of a provincial legislature is appointed as a permanent delegate, that person ceases to be a member of the legislature.

Before permanent delegates begin to perform their functions in the National Council of Provinces, they must swear or affirm their loyalty to the Republic and obedience to the Constitution.

Decisions

Each province is entitled to one vote. Decisions in the Council are carried by a vote of at least five provinces.

Powers of the National Council

The Council may consider, pass, amend, propose amendments to or reject any legislation before it.

The Council may also initiate or prepare legislation falling within its functional area.

Participation by other government representatives

Cabinet members and Deputy Ministers may attend, and may speak in the Council, but may not vote.

The National Council may require a Cabinet member, a Deputy Minister or an official in the national executive or a provincial executive to attend a meeting of the Council or a committee of the Council.

Not more than ten part-time representatives designated by organised local government to represent the different categories of municipalities, may participate in the proceedings of the Council. These representatives have no right to vote.

Public access to and involvement in the National Council

The National Council must facilitate public involvement in the legislative and other processes of the Council and its committees.

It must also conduct its business in an open manner, and hold its sittings, and those of its committees, in public, but reasonable measures may be taken to:

However, the Council may not exclude the public, including the media, from a sitting of a committee unless it is reasonable and justifiable to do so in an open and democratic society.

Privileges

Delegates to the National Council enjoy freedom of speech in the Council and in its committees, subject to its rules and orders.

They are not liable to civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment or damages for anything that they say in, produce before or submit to the Council or any of its committees.

Delegates also enjoy immunity from anything revealed as a result of what they said in, produced before or submitted to the Council or any of its committees.

Salaries, allowances and benefits payable to permanent members of the Council are paid out from the National Revenue Fund.

Arrangements, proceedings and procedures of the National Council

The Council may determine and control its internal arrangements, proceedings and procedures. It is also empowered to make concerning its business, with due regard to representative and participatory democracy, accountability, transparency and public involvement.

The rules and orders of the Council must, however, provide for:


Meaningful participation in local government

Councillor Patrick Flusk looks at the problems facing local government and the steps taken to address these lessons that can be learnt from the process.

The challenges facing Local Government (LC) in South Africa appear to be more than initially anticipated. The apartheid Local Government left a legacy of mismanagement, lack of transparency and lack of accountability beyond belief.

Local government is infested with staff and officials who take pleasure in their mischief-making and manipulation. The local authorities hold on to old habits with dear life. Normally they advance arguments of the Ordinances governing Local Government on agreements or contracts previously entered into.

Often they take their own time in implementing council decisions, sometimes they even have the audacity to question council decisions. Coupled with this dilemma, you have sections within our society, particularly the wealthy supported by the conservative media, who suddenly find it necessary not to support local government. This is despite the fact that there are enormous opportunities, for the first time ever, for them to meaningfully participate in the decisions of local government.

Election mandate

In order for us to overcome the obstacles and meet them head on, we have decided to restructure local government immediately after the mandate we received from the people in Johannesburg. We rapidly moved to implement a transformation process. This mandate included democratisation of local government to ensure a more responsible, caring and sensitive approach to governing, more efficient and effective service delivery, safe and secure environment and a workforce that reflects our society. It must also be remembered that the negotiated settlement stated that officials will keep their jobs at their current conditions of service.

Transformation process

We amalgamated all 14 administrations into one massive metropolitan council administration. This was in consultation with the unions. In addition, we decided, together with the unions, on the transformation of the old apartheid structures. These decisions included appointment and deployment of the 30 000 staff. This process was based on equitable distribution of staff, efficient and effective delivery without impeding the current levels of service delivery and cost effectiveness.

The unions were also involved in the entire process of setting criteria for the process. Despite this, they could still make full use of the objection procedure if they were not happy with the process.

The motivation behind all of this was to ensure that no worker felt alienated from local government as was the case during the apartheid years. This we believe will tremendously increase productivity and the work ethic as the workforce will feel that they own local government in a real and democratic way, and not in a dictatorial fashion.

The Johannesburg Metro firmly believes in co-operative governance and has extended this to all the citizens living in Johannesburg, including business, communities and the media.

Participation in local government

The structures of the Johannesburg Metro government is of such a nature that any one can participate in formulating policies that govern the Council. Ordinance or By-laws which are inconsistent with the Constitution and new legislation fall away.

Communities can participate in issues relating to finances, service delivery, security, training and development, housing, planning and urbanisation. These meetings take place once a month to formulate policies, evaluate and monitor the implementation of those policies.

Deployment of staff

As we all can remember, all the disadvantaged communities had insufficient and unskilled staff servicing them. The staff of the 14 administrations in the Greater Johannesburg have become the staff of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Council. The idea was to ensure that all structures (four MSSs and TMC) are fully capacitated and that no staff will argue that they belong to a particular area and then refuse to be deployed to another area.

This has all been negotiated with the unions. The Johannesburg Metropolitan Council is therefore ready to serve communities from Poortje in the south and Diepsloot in the north of the Greater Johannesburg area. It has enabled us to ensure that there are efficient pay points through the Metro of Greater Johannesburg. We have also moved substantially closer in terms of parity and closing the wage gaps and the rationalisation of pension funds and medical aid schemes.

With regard to all the senior officials, we have encouraged all of them to reapply for their positions which again was an agreement with the unions. This was to ensure that all of us move within the parameters of a new paradigm that is in conflict with the apartheid past.

Conclusion

I believe the lesson for local government is that the new elected councillors have a new mandate that needs to be implemented. It is important that the entire workforce is taken on board and contribute to the success of the transformation process. All local authorities should negotiate guidelines with the unions for this process but at the same time, ensure service delivery is maintained and even improved. A major aspect that is being tackled is to cut the fat in the budget. This fat must be cut to avoid continued increases in the rates or base of the service provided by local government.

Councillor Patrick Flusk, is a member of the Executive Commitee, in the Greater Johannesburg Transitional Metropolitan Council.


Gauteng Department of Health:

Creating equity in staffing

Among the four objectives of the Health Department's restructuring plan -rationalising hospital services, creating equity in staffing, strengthening primary health care and aligning Department expenditure towards the budget, there are two key aspects often missed by the media.

These aspects include the need to ensure equity in the provision of staffing and strengthening of primary health care development, according to deputy Director-General Dr Eric Buch.

In the past some academic hospitals had considerably more staff than their township counterparts which had to do with less. This has resulted in increased workloads and staff frustration in institutions. The quality of patient care has also suffered because of the staff shortage.

Structural transformation

"To change this situation, Dr Buch says, "it is important to note that we are putting in place a form of structural transformation which tries to bring about a fair balance in staffing ratios between hospitals. We are trying to put the right number of staff in the right place so that staff workloads are fair throughout the province and that all our patients get equal care.

"We want to ensure that all hospitals doing similar work should have the same levels of staffing. It should also be noted that, under our present budget constraints, we would be unable to achieve equity if we kept running institutions which have extremely low patient loads per day. It is on this basis that we planned to close three hospitals and reallocate the staff."

Parallel with the plan, the Department is developing a district health system which should see the localisation of health service management and a vastly improved provision of accessible and comprehensive primary health care.

Community health centres

The conversion of several institutions into 24 -hour community health centres and the transfer of resources from the institutions earmarked for closure in the plan, will boost the Department's capacity to strengthen primary health care.

Achieving these four objectives, however, does not mean that the plan is fixed in all details. Since the plan was announced the Department has been consulting with all stakeholders ­ trade unions, communities, universities and hospital management.

The Department has also published a widespread advert inviting input and comment from the public.

"The Department has received many valuable inputs from hospitals," according to Dr Dave Jacobs from the Department's Technical Task Team. Some of these comments question the accuracy and relevance of the data on workload analysis pertaining to particular institutions. We are in the process of analyzing these inputs and we will use them as a means to review some of the details rather than the four basic principles of the plan."

This analysis should be completed by the end of the year. The Department had reached agreement with all trade unions representing Department staff in November, on the need to restructure the health service within the four core principles.

The Department agreed to allow 21 staff members, representing these unions, paid leave to study the plan and come up with alternative recommendations by January 1997.

A moratorium was also placed on effecting transfers to allow negotiations with trade unions and establishing fair principles for transfers.

"Over a dozen task teams have been established to study and come with recommendations on the various components of the plan such as human resources, equipment and so on."

Expenditure gap

It is projected that the expenditure gap in the current financial year will be R400m. The plan will help in bringing this over-expenditure down over the next few years.

In coming up with this plan the Department found this over-expenditure was partially caused by an excess of staff in certain categories. And, the provision of more accessible and appropriate health services is the primary objective of the plan with due regard to the current budgetary constraints, says Dr Jacobs. Without any restructuring, in these circumstances, the effect could have been a potential retrenchment of close to 9 000 health workers.


1997

A Year for Consolidating the National Democratic Revolution,

A Year for Re-affirming the ANC Cadre

Despite the many difficulties, despite what are, on occasions, our our shortcomings, we are in the midst of a vast national democratic revolution. What we dreamed about in the first half of this century, what we mapped out in general terms at Kliptown in 1955, what we planned and theorised about in the difficult years of the 60s, 70s and 80s, that is what we are now in the midst of. We have achieved the beginnings of real democracy, and there is no going back.

With a thousand daily challenges and complexities, it is easy to lose sight of this. It is easy to forget where we are coming from. It is even possible, in the rush of events, to forget our objectives. But it is critical that, as the ANC and ANC-led movement we take stock, and that we reaffirm our moral vision and our strategic objectives.

Fundamental change is not an easy undertaking. To change a social system in its entirety will entail disruption. But this is not disruption for its own sake; less still is it about hot-headed demagogy. Our revolution is about changing the foundations on which previous relations were built. It is, in essence, about making millions of our people, all along excluded by apartheid, a full part of national life. It is about giving them opportunities to change their own lives for the better, no longer as objects of administration, as "boys" or "girls" surviving on crumbs from the master's table. And this is how we should measure progress in the work we do.

A democratic revolution

April 1994 marked a decisive bridge-head into democracy. In the last two-and-a-half years we have steadily consolidated that democratic breakthrough in depth and breadth. We have implemented electoral democracy at all three tiers. We have piloted into existence one of the most progressive constitutions in the world. The national assembly is beginning, more and more, to function as a robust tribune of the people, and an important inter-face between government and civil society.

A national revolution

The tasks of non-racial reconciliation and nation-building have long been central to the mission of the ANC and its alliance. In the past two-and-a-half years we have made sweeping gains on this front. We have prevented a descent into a bloody civil war that some forces were planning up to the very threshold of the April 1994 elections; we have acted firmly to reduce to a minimum the levels of political violence in KwaZulu/Natal. A new nation has started to take root in all spheres of life, including sports, the economy, and in the fight against crime.

We have never understood reconciliation to mean forgetting the past, or neglecting the plight of the millions of victims of apartheid. We have stated our positions very powerfully in this respect at the TRC, and in general, that no one is above the law.

This message, we are sure, has been one important factor in the recent snowballing of amnesty applications and confessions from former SADF and SAP apartheid security personnel.

We have also always understood that the national dimension of our struggle is not just about building a new sense of nationhood - as crucial as this is. It is also about building the material and social conditions for a single nation.

The huge inequalities between townships and suburbs; between black and white; between workers and the poor on the one hand and the rich on the other; between women and men; between rural and urban areas - all of these inequalities, magnified a thousandfold by apartheid, hamper the possibilities of building a common sense of nationhood.

This is why the RDP's vision of urban and rural infrastructural development is so central to the historic nation-building mission of the ANC. The 20 mega-projects, presently underway and each costing more than half-a-billion Rand, from Richards Bay to Saldanha Bay, are part of this. The Maputo Development Corridor, one of the biggest projects of its kind in the world, is another example. These are not just economic projects, they are an integral part of building our nation, and building our region.

Perhaps even more significantly, away from the limelight of the national media, communities throughout South Africa are beehives of activity. Streets are being tarred, refuse collection improved, schools are being renovated, clinics are being built and upgraded. Even on the housing front, where progress has been slow, housing construction is now starting to come on stream. We are not always moving as fast as we would like. We have reverses and make mistakes. But everywhere there is now tangible evidence of a new South Africa in the making.

Let us not be defensive

Our achievements, as the ANC, are very significant. We often fail to claim our own victories, or even to notice what we are achieving.

At the same time, however, it is the mark of a serious political movement that it must, where necessary, be self-critical.

We have, of course, made unintentional mistakes. On occasions we have been too defensive. I have recently made this point in regard to how we handled Sarafina 2 and the issue of funding for the ANC. The question is not so much whether one makes mistakes or not, but rather whether, as an organisation, we are prepared to admit mistakes, and above all to learn from and quickly rectify weaknesses in our work.

Building our organisations

In this respect we must admit that the organisational state of affairs in the ANC and its allied formations often leaves much to be desired. No doubt, the large-scale redeployment of thousands of cadres over these last two-and-a-half years has had much to do with the weakening of organisational capacity.

But we all know that a great deal of energy has often been consumed on intra-organisational leadership rivalries, personality squabbles and factionalising. The Free State situation is the most obvious, but not the only example of this phenomenon. Of course, healthy competition between individuals to be elected to different posts is a natural part of any democratic organisation. But when personal competition starts to absorb all one's energies, when political programmes are forgotten, and when solid grass-roots work is neglected, then matters become very serious.

Collective leadership

The ANC has long traditions of placing the organisation above individuals. We have proud traditions of collective leadership, and of mutual respect for each other. We have survived and we have defeated apartheid because we have always tried to build the collective, to empower each other. We have worked hard to help each of our cadres to develop his or her strengths, building a collective understanding and a collective solution to each other's limitations. We must reaffirm these traditions. The tens of thousands of cadres we have developed in decades of struggle are our most precious asset as a movement. We cannot squander this resource in individualism, mindless careerism, and petty rivalries.


Our 85th Anniversary ­
A Year of Reaffirming the ANC Cadre

For all of these reasons, in this year we must, collectively, re-dedicate ourselves to building an ANC cadreship. At every level ANC activists must be built as leaders, in places of residence, in schools, places of worship, in the work-place, on the sports-field, in government and legislatures. This is a collective effort. In all spheres of life, ANC cadres must be at the centre of setting an example of discipline, of commitment to transformation, of teaching and of listening. In all they do, the message that they send out to society should be: the people come first.

We have, as an ANC and ANC-led alliance, been on a steep learning curve these last two-and-a-half years. One important task of our movement is that it should act as a forum for collective learning, in which we share experiences, learn from each other, assess what has been happening, and empower each other.

This, of course, also means that there must be space for debate within our ANC and between the ANC and its allies. Unity is not built by bureaucratic declaration. Unity is a dynamic reality that must emerge from the real empowerment of our hundreds of thousands of cadres.

In reaffirming our cadreship, we will have, self-consciously to overcome tendencies in some places to bureaucratic or merely technocratic ways of working.

Many recently elected ANC local councillors, for instance, are being told that they "no longer represent the ANC, but the whole community". Many comrades in the administrations are told that they "must not bring politics" into these structures. There is, obviously, a partial truth in all of this.

Local councillors

Local councillors must serve their communities at large, but they need to do so, of course, as loyal cadres of our liberation movement, serving these communities within the context of our moral vision and overall goals. There is nothing contradictory about that. Likewise, it would be entirely inappropriate to transform government administrations into narrow partisan structures. But this does not, and cannot mean that ANC cadres serving in the administration should become a-political, should lose sight of the broad transformation objectives of which they must be a crucial part.

In this year, 1997, we call on ANC members, wherever they are, to re-dedicate themselves to the collective effort of consolidating the national democratic revolution.

We call on workers to dedicate themselves to rebuilding our economy, deepening productivity, enhancing their own skills. We call on them to build trade unions and particularly a powerful COSATU. We call on workers to engage actively with the many new institutions and forums that have now been made possible with the Labour Relations Act. In particular, organised workers must help to build vibrant work-place forums that can be used to transform and democratise the work-place.

As an ANC we have long recognised the central and strategic location of employed, unionised workers. This reality also brings particular responsibilities. In a country in which around one-third of our work force is unemployed, workers have a particular responsibilty to ensure that the transformation struggles in which they engage address the concerns, not just of the employed, but of the great majority of our people.

We call on progressives in management structures. We know that thousands of our own cadres have been recently promoted into senior and middle-level management positions, both in the public and private sectors. We call on you to assume full responsibility for your new powers, using the new possibilities that you have to redirect our society and its institutions towards meeting the broad social needs of our people. You are not ANC cadres only "after hours".

We call on the rural poor, the unemployed, and those who are under-employed, surviving as best they can in the so-called "informal sector". Most of you are black, still the victims of apartheid, many of you are young. Your hopes, your energies, remain critical to the overall transformation of our society. Together we must fight against those who present your situation as a "lost cause", who describe the young among you as a "lost generation". Together we must reject the demobilising rhetoric about "unrealistic expectations". Your expectations are legitimate. To realise these expectations requires discipline, organisation and a common effort. As the ANC, in and out of government, together we shall lead that effort.

We call on the youth to re-dedicate themselves to the ongoing struggle for transformation in our country. Your energies, your moral vision, your dedication is more than ever required. We call on you to use this period of your lives to prepare yourselves for the long transformational effort that lies ahead. We call on you to take studies seriously, to gain experience, to broaden your capacities. But we also call on you to engage actively now, in the present, with the struggle for all-round transformation. These two tasks are not incompatible. We call on you to help strengthen the ANC Youth League, and progressive student organisations.

We call on women to assume your full role within our movement. We know that, still today, there are many impediments to that. We call on you to organise and speak out against ongoing gender discrimination in and outside of our movement. We all, men and women, have a duty to overcome sexism and patriarchy, but, as with so many other areas of obstruction, it is the drive to self-emancipation that will be the motive force in this struggle. We call on you to set an example to millions of unorganised women. We call on you to help build an ANC that is more gender representative and we call on you to help rebuild the ANC Women's League.

Indeed we should admit as the ANC that, because of internal squabbles within the League, we have, in the recent period, failed the women's movement and the cause of building a non-sexist society. We must resolve this year to settle these problems and ensure that the League emerges from Conference to occupy its rightful place at the head of a progressive women's movement.

We call on those active in religious institutions, on those involved in cultural work, on those active in the media. A revolution is not just about material transformation. It is also critically about a moral vision, about values, about re-imagining reality. We defeated the old apartheid system because of our moral convictions. The new struggle for transformation requires new visions, new narratives, new songs, new images. We call on our cadres active in these areas to understand the challenges and possibilities that our reality poses. We call on you to respond to these challenges without fear.

We call on the thousands of ANC cadres now serving in elected positions, in national and provincial legislatures, in local councils. A heavy responsibility rests on you, you are the tribunes of the people. You need to be active in your structures, but you also have to be active in your constituencies. Your presence amongst the people who have elected you must be visible. You have a duty to speak up, fearlessly, for those you represent. But you also have a duty to listen carefully to what communities are telling you.

We call on the full-time staff in our ANC structures. We salute you for the often strenuous efforts that you have devoted over the past years. We know it has not always been easy for you to remain on in your full-time ANC posts, when there are more lucrative opportunities elsewhere. We know that we often demand long hours, weekend efforts, sudden redeployments. Without your devotion and commitment we will not be able to go forward in the coming years. Maintaining and building the party machinery of the ANC is central to everything.

The cadreship of the ANC-led movement is not confined to the ANC itself. The ANC is proud to be the leading formation of the tripartite alliance and of a broader mass democratic movement. We address ourselves on this 85th Anniversary also to the activists in the SACP and COSATU and in the broad mass democratic movement and progressive NGOs. We believe that you are strengthened by your allegiance to the ANC, but we, in turn, are strengthened by our common unity. You have a major role to play in consolidating our national democratic revolution and in helping to re-affirm the ANC cadreship. We need from our allies unity in action, but a real unity based on our different formations acting independently and robustly defending their principles, their constituencies and their perspectives.

Healthy debate within the alliance is critical for the development of our democracy and social transformation. Indeed, out of such debate will emerge a cross-pollination of ideas which will enrich South African politics. This is particularly important because, outside the alliance and the mass democratic formations and their supporters, few others fully appreciate the real depth of change that South Africa is going through.

Above all, as we move in 1997 to the ANC's crucial December National Conference, let us resolve to put politics above personalities, programmes above individualism. Let us resolve to do hard work on the ground instead of embroiling ourselves in paralysing factionalism.


A clear programme of action for 1997

At last year's November National Executive Committee meeting of the ANC we resolved on a broad programme of action for 1997. In particular, we have decided that we must reclaim the people-driven developmental approach so central to our understanding of the RDP. In this respect, Masakhane must be greatly broadened in its scope. Payment for services and the payment of rents is indeed very important. But Masakhane is not simply a payments campaign. It is about the all-round active participation of our people in the reconstruction and development of our country.

To this end we are planning Masakhane weekends in the coming months, in which, at the community level, throughout the country we shall mobilise people to become involved in developmental work - school renovations, community clean-ups, anti-crime drives, and so forth. We plan to deploy all ANC MPs and MPLs in the process. We also plan, through our local councillors, to introduce the practice of participatory budgeting at the local level. By this we mean the active participation of communities in unpacking local budgets and in setting priorities.

All of this will only be possible if we have functioning ANC, alliance and MDM branch structures on the ground. We also know from our years of struggle, that it is precisely around such concrete programmes that organisation is renewed and sustained, and that we shall, indeed, reaffirm the ANC cadre in this year, 1997.

In this way we shall ensure that the ANC emerges as the organiser of the South African people, the force that mobilises them to become active agents of the historic changes that our country needs, the leader of the struggle for a better life for all. Our own actions as ANC leaders, members and active supporters will justify the trust that the people placed in us in the years of struggle, and in the 1994 elections.


Gauteng health trade unions take Department to task

A Task Team, which includes NEHAWU and other trade unions organised in the health service, accepted the Gauteng Health Department's objectives of service restructuring, equity in staffing across hospitals, strengthening primary health care development and aligning expenditure with departmental budget. The task team was set up on agreement with the Gauteng Health Department to investigating public hospital service rationalisation.

However, the team expressed doubts on aspects of the department's plan which could involve redeployment and retrenchment of staff. In its report submitted to the department early in February, the task team expressed concern that retrenchment would impact adversely on all categories of hospital staff in the provincial hospitals.

The team urged that the department accept integration of representative staff organisations into all major planning projects to ensure full consultation on the impact such projects would have on staff, patients and communities affected.

The team stressed that: "It is of utmost importance that necessary changes should be phased in over a longer period than originally proposed, for it could result in hardships." The team's report questioned the accuracy of the hospital statistics on which the plan was based, challenging that in many instances these statistics gave a distorted picture of the broader situation.

The department's calculations of possible benefits "from down-sizing and closing down of certain institutions were unconvincing in respect of relocation costs for staff redeployment and severance packages," the report said.

The task team report also argued that transferring equipment, especially technical medical equipment, could be very costly.

The report commended the intended closure of uninhabitable institutions such as the controversial Westfort Psychiatric Hospital in Pretoria. An appealed was made, however, that time scales should be sufficient to place patients and redeploy staff without hardship.

The Task Team proposed the creation of a central casualty department for a group of hospitals in close proximity. This would create a central pool of casualty officers which would facilitate staffing the services with greater effeciveness than before.

The concept of strengthening primary health care development deserved applause, the task team argued, although it felt that this could not be achieved at the expense of existing institutions not well suited for use in primary care. Rather than down-sizing these hospitals, the team proposed adapting them for special needs such as beds for AIDS patients and rehabilitation beds for substance abusers.

"Primary health care services should be provided by general practitioners supported by appropriately trained health workers," the team recommended.

By Mziwakhe Hlangani


Abortion: How prepared are hospital staff?

It's around 10am on Friday when I enter Baragwanath hospital, hoping to find the gynaecological unit reception. "Excuse me, where can I find - you know - the abortion unit," I ask? "Oh that, go to ward 54," the lady behind the counter says.

In ward 54 I find three sisters in charge. I am shy and anxious. "You've come for an abortion?" they ask. I nod. A sister Khumalo takes me to a room where abortion is performed.

"You see, you don't come straight to us. You have to go to the clinic and get a referral letter which you take to social workers. After that you go to our hospital clinic where you will be seen by a gynaecologist who will counsel you and conduct a pregnancy test," she explains. "If you are under 12 weeks pregnant you will be given termination pills, but if you are over 12 weeks you must be admitted."

She advises me to start soon because if I take long things will get complicated. "Don't worry. Everything is going to be all right. I performed three abortions this morning and everything went well". She and the three other sisters wish me good luck as I leave ward 54. I was touched by their genuine concern.

Mrs Hlongwane of the gynaecological unit says they have not faced any problems since the termination bill was passed on 1 February. "Since the bill was passed, we have performed about 20 abortions a day and we have not had complaints from patients."

Dr James McIntyre, senior specialist obstetrician/gynaecologist from Baragwanath Hospital, says it is important that one gets counselling as abortion involves mental and physical stress. He says even if you have been referred to the hospital by a local clinic the hospital's gynaecologist will still counsel and test you. "The doctor confirms your registration with the hospital and states the reasons why you want an abortion and then you are given termination pills. It's not a long process but it is strenuous," he explains.

He says he hopes local clinics can perform abortions as soon as possible as hospitals might not cope with the demand. Asked about health workers who are pro-life and refuse to perform abortions, he says he respects their views and won't force them to perform abortions. "Most of them are prepared to look after patients and give advice after an abortion," McIntyre says.

At the Johannesburg General Hospital I was confronted by a sign in bold letters: ALL ENQUIRIES RE: ABORTIONS IN AREA 176.

In area 176 there is no sign of an abortion unit nor a sign of people. I meet a nurse and I ask her for the abortion unit. "I am not sure, but I think it is in ward 195," she says.

In ward 195, I ask the sisters behind the desk if that was the abortion unit. "What!" one exclaims."Try ward 262," says another. As I leave the ward I can hear them laughing and talking of abortion.

Ward 262 is the administration department and the receptionist does not even know of such a bill. "Are you sure this hospital performs abortions?" she asks. "It is one of the listed hospitals in Gauteng, and there is even a sign downstairs," I explain. "Let me call someone who might help you," she says.

She refers me to ward 185 where there is nobody. A nurse appears and tells me I must go to ward 193. But the people in ward 193 are not different from those in 195.

Just then I see a big sign: TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY FULLY BOOKED UNTIL 97/02/24. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR NEAREST CLINIC/HOSPITAL. BARAGWANATH, CORONATION, HILLBROW, JG STRYDOM ETC.

At Hillbrow Hospital sister Thandi in ward 28b tells me I am in the right place, but I have to start at the zone 9 clinic, where I will be registered. "You will be charged R13 for a green card, and a doctor will conduct a pregnancy test," she says. "The doctor will give you four termination pills to take home if your pregnancy is under 12 weeks. You will insert these in your vagina when you are about to sleep and they will make you bleed. In the morning you will be referred to ward 28b for the scraping of the womb."

As I enter zone 9, I feel relieved as there are about five other anxious-looking women. "Excuse me, are you also here for the same thing?" I ask the lady next to me. She nods. "I am scared," I say. She looks at me and says, "I am ready," and adds, "Are you okay?" I shake my head.

"I have gone through counselling already," she says. "This is one of the best bills South Africa has ever produced. I lost a sister two years ago due to a back-street abortion. I will never forget the expression on her face the day she died," Fikile (not her real name) tells me, adding, "I am not ready for this baby. This bill gives me a choice. Why don't you go home and make up your mind because you seem confused?"

Sister Deacons from Coronation Hospital's Poly Clinic does not seem to know what this abortion business is all about. "When you come to us you are seen by a doctor then you are sent to social workers and from there I don't know what happens," she says.

JG Strydom Hospital doesn't perform abortions.

By Khensani Makhubela


Housing: Speeding up the delivery process

Everything possible is being done to speed up delivery of low-cost housing in South Africa. Some of the specific actions set in motion for 1997 by the housing ministry include establishing a national capacitation programme aimed at provincial housing authorities, writes Mziwakhe Hlangani.

The government's housing policy takes cognisance of the sustainability of the process, recognising constraints of affordability and capacity and the ever-increasing priorities for housing. The current backlog is estimated at between two and three million houses a year.

Housing Department's public relations officer Mandy Jean-Woods says the policy aims to utilise available resources through accessing state funds, including those from the private sector

The delay in setting up legitimate local government authorities impacted negatively on housing delivery as planning decisions, key appointments and policy decisions were put on hold.

Draft Housing Bill

At present the majority of development was being done by local authorities. The draft Housing Bill due to be tabled in Parliament in the first quarter of the year would thus transfer the management responsibility of the housing delivery process to local authorities.

The Development Facilitation Act passed by parliament last year, was a method to provide streamlined alternative method of township development and prescribed principles binding on the three tiers of government.

To make it more efficient, the development facilitation commission was to review existing legislation and township development practices. The Gauteng province has already started to implement the Act.

Problems with the quality of building and consumers being defrauded by some fly-by night builders and construction companies led to the Association of Mortgage Lenders voluntarily setting up the National Home Builders Registration Council to manage this problem.

In just more than a year of its operation, it has registered several hundred builders ranging from major contractors to emerging contractors, de-listing almost a dozen contractors and has opened branches in Durban and Cape Town.

With regard to policy objectives aimed at helping the poor, the capital subsidy scheme was launched recently. This is aimed at households with an income of not more than R2 500.

A public company wholly owned by the government, the National Housing Finance Corporation was established in June 1996 , with the objective of facilitating the provision of wholesale housing finance to those who do not have access to the formal credit markets and institutions which provide affordable housing.

The NHFC manages R525 million from the RDP Fund and allocated to the densification programme. The second ministerial Task Team report, approved in December last year, by the cabinet, establishes the framework for a R75m fund to start up housing institutions such as housing associations. R350m was allocated to the NHFC to facilitate the rapid establishment of institutional capacity to fund and manage alternative tenure and finance delivery processes.

There is also a Rural Housing Loan Fund managed by the NHFC that was set up with a grant from German donors. Its aims include improving the housing situation of rural people through increasing access to housing loans. The Fund would provide wholesale finance and support to non-traditional lenders to enable them to lend to low-income earners in rural areas.

The National and Provincial Housing Boards have also allocated more than 380 000 subsidies up to November 1996. More than 660 projects have been approved by provincial boards.

Peoples' housing processes

Another programme known as Peoples' Housing Processes has emerged and it exists in various forms throughout the country. Peoples' Housing Processes means individuals and families take initiatives to organise the planning, design and the building of their houses. It also requires a commitment of own resources by individual savings by the poor to add to the government subsidy.

A prerequisite for success of the Peoples' Housing Processes includes the provision of serviced sites which are unlikely to materialise if left solely to the private sector to provide.

To support Peoples' Housing Processes, funds have also been set aside for the establishment of housing support initiatives. The critical factors that would impact on the success of this programme include, access to land (urban and rural) with secure tenure and adequate services, housing subsidies and alternative forms of housing credit.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in February contributed about R12m towards capacity building and promoting a key element of the Peoples' Housing Processes.

Housing Minister Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele said this was a significant contribution as 60 percent of the population had no access to formal credit and therefore relied on their own resources and the government's housing subsidy to provide shelter.

UNDP regional director Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf praised the SA government for prioritising the needs of the poorest, saying the programme was one of poverty alleviation strategies which they support.


Freedom in our lifetime

Anyone in South Africa who lived through 27 April 1994 will never forget it. For it was on this day that the South African people in their millions effectively voted the end of apartheid, and ushered in a new era of democracy.

It was a day filled with tension and anticipation, but, above all, it was a day of joy and celebration. It was the culmination of many months of negotiations and many years of tireless struggle.

April 27 was also the day on which the interim constitution came into effect, which for the first time afforded all South Africans equal human rights and dignity. It was the day on which the overwhelming majority of South Africans chose the African National Congress to lead them into the future.

In short, April 27 - which we celebrate today as Freedom Day - was a day of victory for the forces of democracy over the forces of apartheid and racism.

Although Freedom Day is celebrated now as the day on which democracy in South Africa achieved its most significant breakthrough, we know very well that real freedom cannot be achieved in one day.

Even when we celebrated the ANC's victory three years ago, we knew that freedom for all the people of South Africa was something that still had to be worked and fought for. We knew that we were merely at the beginning of a new stage in the struggle for freedom.

Three years later, we have a lot to show for our efforts. We also have some mistakes to learn from. But above all, we have a greater sense of what needs to be done in the coming year to consolidate and strengthen our national democratic revolution.

As we celebrate the third anniversary of Freedom Day, we must be careful to avoid the temptation of thinking that freedom has been achieved - that the struggle is over and that we won.

Instead, we must celebrate Freedom Day by re-doubling our efforts to further the process which we began on that historic day back in 1994. We must intensify the struggle and strengthen our movement in the pursuit of the freedom which was made possible by the events of 27 April 1994.


The New Labour Relations Act:
A closed chapter of worker exploitation

The announcement of a new Labour Relations Act (LRA) by Labour Minister Tito Mboweni last November closed a chapter of worker exploitation and marked the beginning of a new era in the country's labour relations.

Addressing about 1 000 people Mboweni said he was proud to proclaim November 11 as a day of the "new revolutionary". The Act, which came into effect from 11 November 1996, would play a revolutionary role in transforming the relationship between workers and employers.

Speaking at a ceremony organised by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to mark the implementation of the LRA, Mboweni said it would bring about transparency and the democratisation of the workplace.

"The days of unfair dismissals are over. This Act will ensure that management and workers work together and that no longer are black and white workers separated," said Mboweni.

The purpose of the new LRA is to advance economic development, social justice, labour peace and democratisation of the workplace. It will give effect to obligations incurred by the Republic as a member state of the International Labour Organisation.

The Act will provide a framework within which employees and the trade unions, employers and employer's organisation can collectively bargain to determine wages, terms and conditions of employment and other matters of mutual interest in the formulation of industrial policy.

It will also promote orderly collective bargaining at sectoral level, employee participation in decision-making in the workplace and the effective resolution of labour disputes.

The Act says every employee has the right to participate in forming a trade union or a federation of trade unions; and to join a trade union, subject to its constitution. And every employer has the right to participate in forming employer's organisation or a federation of employer's organisation, and to join an employer's organisation, subject to its constitution.

The Act also protects employers, employees and persons seeking employment. It says no person may discriminate against an employee or employer for exercising any rights conferred by the LRA.

No person may prejudice an employee; a person seeking employment or employer because of past, present or anticipated membership of a trade union or workplace forum; participation in forming a trade union or federation of trade unions or establishing a workplace forum.

Again no person may advantage, or promise to advantage, an employee, a person seeking employment or employer in exchange for that person not exercising any right conferred by the Act.

A controversial section of the new Act is its provision for the disclosure of information - drawn from the fundamental right of access to information provided for by the new constitution. The section says that whenever an employer is consulting or bargaining with a representative trade union, the employer must disclose to the representative trade union all relevant information that will allow the representative trade union to engage effectively in consultation or collective bargaining.


'No more victimisation of workers'

"This is the best thing that has ever happened in my working life. We voted for this Act through our unions." says Caswell Tswane.

"As workers we can claim the same rights as our employers. In the past we used to work over time and we were never paid for it. With the new Act at least I know that I can work reasonable hours or I can be compensated for working extra hours," Tswane says.

Lazarus Phogolae said: "Victimisation of workers before was a powerful weapon for the employer because we did not know our rights, but now that we are aware and know our rights their game is over.

With the new Act we are aware that as long as we follow procedures and we are in line with the requirements needed for a strike we can not be told that a strike is illegal."

Said Monica Moyo: "In the past if my relative died I would have to choose between going to work or to the burial because if I went to the funeral the employer would deduct some money from my wage. With the new Act I know I am entitled to compassionate leave as long as I don't abuse it," she says.

Mary Letswalo expresses her hopes that the new LRA is going to emancipate her as a woman as well as a black worker: "Because of my skin colour and because of my gender I spend all my life fighting discrimination in the workplace, both in wages and conditions of employment," she says.

She further says that she hopes that the new Act is going to change this, and adds that if it does not change the status quo she will still fight until she sees change in South Africa.

"Whites enjoyed more by virtue of their skin colour and were treated better than black workers. There is discrimination in the workplace, both in wages and conditions of employment," said Joseph Sebeko.

He added: "In the past employers were entitled to sick leave; paternity leave; compassionate leave; study leave and other benefits workers deserve, but were never given any of these benefits and we did not know about them. Actually one had to pay for any day that was given to him or her by the employer."

Christopher Kunene says all he knows about the new law is what he read in the newspaper, but all the same it sounds like a good legislation. He says it will mean an end to exploitation because employers used to do as they pleased under the old Act.

Amos Legodi disagrees with Kunene, saying the implementation of the new law is still going to be in the hands of the bosses.

"I doubt if it is going to work or achieve its goals. The privatisation of public property will also make this Act a problem. I wish things could be different in this country for workers but it seems that we still have a long way to go," he said.


High time for change in SAA's language policy

The South African Airways (SAA) is not ready yet to adapt to South Africa's new language policy, Khensani Makhubela reports.

The South African Constitution provides that 11 languages will be the official languages of the country at national level. It is further provided that conditions for the development and for the promotion of the equal use and enjoyment of all official languages must be created.

This is intended to guarantee the freedom and human dignity of all South Africans under the new dispensation and is not intended to withdraw or diminish rights, but on the contrary to extend people's rights. The recognition of the country's linguistic diversity is regarded as an extremely important means of bringing this about.

However, South African Airways (SAA) is not ready yet to adapt to South Africa's new language policy. SAA insists on using the English language on domestic and international flights.

"The SAA's language policy is very hostile towards the democratic spirit of the language provisions in the constitution and its express prohibition of unfair discrimination against people on the basis of language and it does not respect the policy on arts and culture," says Wally Serote.

He says that if SAA was to adapt to the country's new language policy, it would contribute significantly to job creation as they will employ translators and interpreters as well as promote the country's 11 official languages.

"It is high time that whites realised that South Africa is not an English country or Afrikaner country. The challenge for SAA is to be positive in its recognition of the reality of multilingualism in South Africa," Serote says.

Serote is not saying that SAA should use the 11 official languages at the same time, but when a flight is from Cape Town they should at least use Xhosa; English and Afrikaans, and if it is from Bloemfontein they should use Sotho, English and Afrikaans. "I am saying SAA should alternate the 11 official languages, they should set the African languages free, after all languages are multi-cultural carriers."

Serote has begun discussions with the minister of Public Enterprises Stella Sigcau on the SAA language policy. And he will still persuade SAA to adopt to the multilingualism policy.

"The sooner they adopt to multilingualism the better because that's when they will be appreciated internationally," says Serote.


Towards a uniting culture

Real cultural transformation must take place in the hearts and minds of South Africans before they can claim to have achieved a 'miracle,' writes Mtutuzeli Matshoba.

Most people confuse the arts with culture. In fact the two concepts belong together as much as water belongs with oil. The arts: poetry, music, painting, literature, theatre, film, architecture, dress, and so on, are merely the media through which culture may but not necessarily be expressed or identified. On the other hand culture may be defined as the prevailing attitudes or customs in a specific society or segment of a society. For instance, you may speak of a labour culture, learning culture, culture of violence, crime culture, confrontational culture and so forth.

Analyse the human cultural psyche, and the likely conclusion is that man is always aspiring towards cultural permutations. That is: always combining different cultural concepts and elements for the thrill of discovering the unknown, often feared, resultant.

Accepting the above hypothesis, it can be deduced that all imaginable cultures are resultants of human interaction, in all spheres of life, since the first caveman crossed the threshold into his neighbour's territory. By the same logic is South African culture a resultant or permutation, of many foreign attitudes and customs in interaction with the indigenous cultures to different levels?

One of the current socio-political buzz-words of post official apartheid South Africa is reconciliation. The ordinary man in the street assumes that this means all South Africans burying their hatchets, getting over the terrible past and on with building a new, non-racial, non-sexist, non-confrontational, constructive and democratic culture. Quite a mouthful, whether seen from the eagle's eye-view of government and political party leadership or from the worm's eye-view of the ordinary man in the street.

From the pedestal of government and party leadership, reconciliation means consciously fostering and practicing the above defined culture. Therefore it is a responsibility, rather than a choice, for people of influence to behave in a conciliatory manner. For some, particularly white leaders, this is a difficult obligation. This was shown a few weeks ago when the Western Cape's Education and Culture MEC Mrs Martha Olckers, suffering from this apartheid hangover, resorted to an old white racial slur, by alluding to Gauteng Arts and Culture MEC Mr Peter Skhosana as a 'bobbejan' and refusing to apologise when she was called upon to do so.

The leaders of white political parties cling to their culture of haughtiness and spitefulness towards the African majority government and people at large, hence their inability to make any inroads into the African vote.

On the other hand, from the ordinary man's perspective, reconciliation remains a choice, which is conditional upon what benefits derive out of being conciliatory. In fact, formerly non-franchised South Africans have always been conciliatory towards whites because they had no choice if they wanted to feed, clothe and house their families. In turn, most ordinary whites have always regarded their culture of privilege at the expense of the non-franchised as the normal order of the universe or a God-given right.

The master-servant, rich and poor, Black, Coloured, Indian and White concept of culture will take another generation, if not more, to vanish from the South African cultural psyche. Such an observation is based on the fact that, while the white minority parties made sure that it was not easy to eradicate apartheid laws, it seems even harder for them to change 'attitudes and customs which have been sucked from the mother's breast,' as the African saying goes.

Of course, generally, the democratic phenomenon is slowly but surely prevailing. In two and a half years, democratic policies have replaced apartheid policies in all spheres of life. South Africa has an all embracing Bill of Rights. A democratic constitution has been adopted. Our dignity as a democratic nation has been restored in the world community and we have prevailed against the best in sport.

In all fairness, the political parties, led by the ANC, often screaming and kicking, have done well to create an infrastructure which is conducive to a culture of development. However, the notion that, together with its phenomenal political transformation, South Africa has also experienced a phenomenal cultural metamorphosis since 27 April 1994, must be dispelled. As far as attitudes and customs are concerned, South Africa is still a far cry from a cultural permutation or formula which unites and cements the apartheid disintegrated segments of its society together.

This is where reconciliation, which is not a new thing to South Africa, comes into play. Long before official apartheid was dismantled, a few South Africans from across the whole racial spectrum were already experimenting with cross cultural interaction in many ways, usually at the risk of personal freedom and social exclusion. We all know that the arts (and sport) played an important role in breaking some of the racial barriers that had been placed among South Africans by the Nationalist Party. However, it is not enough to think that by working together and singing and dancing together and then going back to our different worlds, we are building a culture of co-existence. Real cultural transformation must take place in the hearts and minds of South Africans before they can claim to have achieved a 'miracle.'


Book Review

Colonial South Africa and the origins of the racial order

Keegan challenges the age-old liberal argument that the systematic and institutionalised form of racism we experienced under apartheid had its beginnings before the industrial revolution stemming from the discovery of diamonds and later, gold. The narrative focuses on the period between the 1820s and the 1850s and then mostly around Cape Town and the eastern Cape frontier.

Keegan does not suggest that there was no racism in pre-industrial South Africa. In fact, he records the racist social relations in the slavery and dispossession of a small section of the black population from the earliest times of white settlement in the Cape.

The main point of his argument is to show that the drive towards full-scale imperialist conquest and mass dispossession of African communities evolved gradually, coinciding with the growth in the settler population and their increasing land and labour demands.

He shows that the nature of interaction between white and black in pre-industrial times depended on the influence or lack of influence of various competing interests ­ colonial governors, humanitarian missionaries, traders, settlers and the still independent Afrikaner communities and African chiefdoms. Liberal historians have tended to look for the routes of apartheid in an irrational, religious and pre-industrial ideology among Afrikaners which influenced them to dominate black people. Keegan challenges this by showing that Afrikaners themselves felt threatened by the growing advance of British imperialism. They were often reluctant to serve in colonial militia during the frontier wars against the Xhosa.

During the 1830's war, he cites evidence of a trek leader, Louis Trigardt, supplying arms and even attempting to influence Xhosa paramount Hintsa against British imperial incursion.

Furthermore the military capacities of some African chiefdoms were far greater than the small bands of trekkers. So instead of going for all-out conquest, the land-hungry Afrikaner communities often allied with one chiefdom against another. Keegan says that during the Great Trek: "There is little evidence that the majority of Boers harboured dreams of conquest and the dispossession of African peoples during the mobile phase of the exodus. Throughout their travels, the emigrants showed a preference for negotiations and treaty-making with African chiefs."

None of this, of course, proves the absence of racism among the Afrikaners of that generation. One of the reasons, downplayed by Keegan, for the trek from the Cape colony had to do with retaining their slaves. They were soon to set up racially exclusive republics in the Transvaal and Orange Free State.

The problem, it seems, is that Keegan tends to underplay their racism, notwithstanding his exposition of the racism that existed among English settlers who continually pressed for imperial conquest.

The greatest strength in the book lies in showing how British imperialism, recovered from the shock-waves of slave resistance in the American colonies, abandoned the tentative influence of the humanitarians, for full-scale conquest and dispossession which drove African people to serving the labour demands of a growing settler population.

We see the horrible results of this in the wars of conquest ­ 16000 Xhosas died in the second frontier war and worse was to come in the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879/80.

By Timothy Keegan
Publisher: David Philip

Movie Review

Some Mother's Son

There's a heart-wrenching aspect to this film which some reviewers have picked up - an ordinary school teacher's fight to save her militant son's life from the jaws of unreasonable politics.

Behind the sentimentality, however, is a serious political question ­ What does it take for oppressive rulers to compromise with the forces of democratic change?

As we have experienced in South Africa, many would want us to believe that oppressors compromise out of some kind of "Road to Damascus" awakening to reason and the humanity they share with the oppressed.

History, as we know, has another answer. And this film, about Irish political prisoner Bobby Sands' hunger strike and eventual death with nine others, straight-forwardly concurs with history.

Compromise, as we see in the film, even the smallest such as acceptance of a political prisoner's demand to be defined as such rather than as a "criminal" or "terrorist" is the result of determined action from victims of oppression themselves.

In 1981, Bobby Sands and his Irish Republican Army comrades paid the price of their lives in their protest against former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher's obstinate and confrontational approach to the Irish question.

The British government, as the film shows, eventually gave in to the prisoners' simple demand to be allowed to wear civilian clothes.

This concession occurred however, only after the painful deaths of ten imprisoned youth, bloodshed, mass protest in the streets and violent repression from the occupying British army in Northern Ireland.

Some Mother's Son is a bitter reminder that the real heroes of political compromise and change are never the despots and racists who supposedly wake up to the torch of truth.

The real heroes are the people, like Sands, who suffer imprisonment, torture, faithful endurance in their fight for justice and democracy, and even death.