Number 26, 2nd Quarter 2006

CONTENTS:

COVER THEME:

50 Years of Women's Struggles

Now is the time, our age of hope - Thenjiwe Mtintso

Women marching for equality, peace and development: The Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa

Women and liberating religion - Cedric Mayson

CURRENT AFFAIRS

Towards the RDP of the soul - President Thabo Mbeki

'Nothing about us without us' - Fikile Mbalula

The third pillar of our transformation - Titus Mafolo

The Native Club and the national democratic project - Eddy Maloka

Is Parliament weak? - Mbulelo Goniwe

The people shall share in the country's diamond wealth - Nathi Mthethwa

HISTORY

The day the enemy struck us a blow - Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi

Big events have small beginnings: The roots of the great miners' strike of 1946

Pioneers of modern South African literature - Mandla Nkomfe

INTERNATIONAL

Governing the world trade system - Alec Erwin

A balance of rights and obigations - Aziz Pahad

In defence of the Cuban people - Leonard Weinglass

Somaliland and the African Union - Iqbal Jhazbhay

READERS' FORUM

Skills necessary for the advancement of South Africa - Tshilidzi Marwala

Youth, our movement and the revolution - Malibongwe Kanjana

BOOKS

The Maphumulo Uprising - Mandla Nkomfe


Call for contributions Umrabulo welcomes contributions from readers. Contributions may be in response to previous articles or may raise new issues. Contributions may be sent to the address below.

Editorial Collective
Joel Netshitenzhe, Pallo Jordan, Fébé Potgieter, Naph Manana, Mandla Nkomfe, Mduduzi Mbada, Michael Sachs, Steyn Speed

Contact Information
Address: Umrabulo, PO Box 61884, Marshalltown, 2107, South Africa
Telephone: 086 717 7077
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The contents and views expressed in Umrabulo do not necessarily reflect the policies of the ANC or the views of the editorial collective.


Editorial

Malibongwe igama lamakhosikazi!

When women from across the length and breadth of South Africa marched on the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956, their demand for freedom reverberated both around the globe and across the ages. The women's anti-pass campaign provided further evidence to the world of a people that were not to be silenced by intimidation and repression. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of that watershed event in the history of our nation, the courage, determination and message of those women continues to activate and inspire.

It is therefore fitting that this milestone coincides with the launch of the Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa, which is intended as a broad front of women's organisations and institutions all committed to the emancipation of women. As is argued in this edition, this movement will need to bring together the various and diverse strands of the South African women's movement on the basis of a minimum platform of action. This task is not without its challenges and contradictions. The diversity of formations that organise and mobilise women will demand creative forms of networking, coordination, dialogue and negotiation. It will take intensive work to overcome differences of class, race, ideology, culture, focus and consciousness.

Yet it is precisely this diversity that presents the movement with its greatest potential strength. Being able to draw on the experience, energy and organisational capacity of so broad a cross-section of South African women offers the greatest opportunity for meaningful progress towards addressing the issues that affect all the women of this country.

The 50th anniversary of the women's march provides a valuable symbolic platform for the launch of this new women's movement. It also provides an opportunity to reflect on the advances that have been made over the last half-century and, in particular, to reflect on the profound contribution that women have made to the struggle for national liberation, towards a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa.

The anniversary is also an opportunity to reflect on the sobering reality that South Africa remains a patriarchal society, in which the oppression of women takes various and numerous forms, ranging from the crude to the seemingly innocuous. The prevalence of violence against women is just one among many harsh reminders of the challenges that still lie ahead. So too is the extent to which women are disproportionately affected by poverty, unemployment, disease and underdevelopment. Unequal relations between men and women still obtain in almost every area of personal, social, political and economic life.

Amid these challenges, the launch of the Progressive Women's Movement is a moment of hope. It is a cause for celebration. It is a sign of determination to ensure that the struggle for the emancipation of women is set to deepen and intensify.

As we welcome this new initiative, we need to guard against any tendency that regards the task of building a non-sexist South Africa as being the responsibility of women alone. It is one of the central tasks of the national democratic revolution, and, as such, is a task that falls on the shoulders of all South Africans who identify with this struggle. It is the responsibility of all of us, male and female, to fight against patriarchy, to strive for gender equality, and to build a society that belongs equally to all who live in it, men and women, black and white.

The 1956 women's march marked a high point in the South African freedom struggle. It is up to all of us to ensure that the launch of the Progressive Women's Movement 50 years later is viewed by generations to come as a pivotal moment in the struggle for a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. Malibongwe!


An invitation to Umrabulo readers

Readers of Umrabulo are invited to submit articles for publication in the Readers' Forum section. Articles may cover any topic considered relevant to the purpose of Umrabulo, including responses to previous articles. When submitting articles, please consider the following:

Articles may be sent to the following address:

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PO Box 61884
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Now is the time, our age of hope

Paying tribute to the heroic women of 1956

The women's movement should be like a tapestry, with identifiable and distinct colours, yet part of a distinct whole. The thread knitting this together would be an action plan and a commitment to completely overthrow patriarchy and all its manifestations, writes Thenjiwe Mtintso.

Fifty years ago, on 9 August 1956, the women of South Africa were galvanised into that great tide that saw a male racist chauvinist flee in front of their anger. We owe it to them to recognise, learn from and pay tribute to their historic actions that laid the foundation for the democracy we have achieved and the strides we have made on our determined march to gender equality.

However the best tribute we can pay to these heroines and the heroes is to defend the gains made and also in action, to change the lives of those who have yet to taste this freedom in real terms, the majority of whom are the black, poor, rural and working class women existing on the periphery of society. All of us should unite with them in action to make sure that in reality 'today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better than today'.

The people and the government of South Africa have put in place many policies, laws and institutions to ensure that women not only regain their dignity but are 'mistresses' of their own destinies. Papers have been written in praise of the achievements made in South Africa and in particular in the inclusion of women in decision-making spheres. Tempting as it is to analyse the gains and the gaps, this contribution is directed only at the current debate on the 'formation' of a 'South African women's movement'.

The story of 'forming' a Women's Movement in the current period dates back to the Malibongwe Conference in Amsterdam in 1989. In the glorious, long and arduous road to freedom, there have always been women's movements. If by a 'women's movement' we mean all women who recognise the need to mobilise and organise themselves at any level and engage in any form of struggle to better their lot, or fight against any form of discrimination against women, or engage in any form of struggle for the achievement of women's emancipation and gender equality, then there has been not one women's movement, but many.

The debate about forming a woman's movement should therefore not be taken to mean that there has never been one or that none currently exists. The debate should in fact be informed by these, their experiences, victories and challenges.

The debate and anticipated launch of the women's movement should help us to:

The debate about, and launch of, the South African Women's Movement should be the space we deliberately create to dialogue and strategise for further onslaughts against patriarchy, that abominable system, ideology and practice of domination of women by men that permeates all spheres of our lives.

Democracy is crucial for, and has contributed to, the road to gender equality in our country, including the improvement of the status and quality of life of women. It has also very importantly created the opportunity and a healthy environment for furthering the gender struggles. However it is not sufficient for dislodging patriarchy. We still have to do much more for the complete eradication and transformation of all power relations in society, across which runs the gender inequality thread. The whole society has to be mobilised into a strong and vibrant movement for transformation, at the centre of which should be women's movement driven by women, particularly the most marginalised poor, black and rural as well as working class women.

Patriarchy cannot be eradicated only by government, or one group or organisation. It needs all forces within society. Particularly because it coexists with, and survives even under, the most progressive political systems; because it is articulated in many diverse subtle and hidden or open and crude forms; because it is explained away in many logical-sounding ways ranging from the natural, biological to religious and cultural arguments; because one of its strongest bases is the family, the home, and among loved ones; and because it is the most complex and entrenched system embedded in, and permeating through, all spheres of life, it needs all forms of struggle - persuasion, contestation, compromise, pressure and confrontation.

The struggle against patriarchy is a 'struggle within the struggle'. The different forms and levels of engagement, organised or not, formal or otherwise, constitute the women's movements.

Women's struggles take different forms and occur in different localities determined by the diverse interests and needs. Some women, especially poor and black women, are mobilised in their communities and localities on needs that are so basic that they are taken for granted (like access to clean water). They thus struggle for elementary rights. Their needs are classified by some scholars as the practical gender needs (PGNs). The organised forms of these needs, interests and struggles include among others the stokvels, religious groups (such as umanyano and masingcwabanes) and many such locally based groups that focus on economic survival, self reliance, solidarity and support. Significantly, these women and their organisations do not link their situation to that of patriarchy. Feminism is a foreign word to many of them. They may perhaps not even have the tools of analysis to help them understand how things got to be how they are. They may even accept the biological, religious or cultural explanations of their place and role in society.

If women's struggles and organisations were to be presented in a continuum, the basic needs (PGNs) group, sometimes called the popular women's movement, would be at the one end. Towards the other end would be the strategic gender needs groups (SGNs). These include, but are not limited to, feminists (of many kinds) mainly concerned with the complete eradication of unequal power relations between men and women. Some of these look down upon the practical gender needs and struggles maintaining that these wittingly or unwittingly reinforce the socially defined but not natural role of women as being in the domestic sphere. Of significance with these is that they have many different and diverse theories to explain the root of and path to the eradication of patriarchy and how to change it. Most, though not all, tend to be scholars and academics, some of whom tend to research, theorise and avoid direct struggle beyond struggle through the intellect and pen (or more likely, computer).

At the other end of the continuum would be what some of us call the transformative group that is committed to a transformative agenda. These acknowledge and are directly and indirectly involved in the whole range of the struggles, from the practical through to the strategic needs, seeing each as a necessary building block for women's emancipation, gender equality and a competently transformed society that has eradicated all forms of inequality, oppression and discrimination. They use different strategies, tactics and participate in all kinds of organisations and struggles. They fight for access to water and access to decision-making bodies, use power to transform power and its instruments, and transform society and social relations.

In between the two extremes would be different formations focusing on practical gender needs, specific interests, demands and other gender struggles. These include the rural women with their specific demands about land; the working women with their struggles in the workplace; service, support and protection groups and organisations; lobbying, advocacy and non-governmental groups; skills, empowerment and training groups; women in the media; religious women's groups; research and many other groups, organisations and formations. In the same continuum are the women in politics, including those within the political parties and women's wings or leagues, bound by the policies of their parties but, in some instances, using the very party as a lever for resolving both the practical and strategic gender needs.

There are no borders between these groups and struggles. There is mobility, support and solidarity, and sometimes overlaps, among them. The strength of some of them lies in their formal networks and structures, though organisational independence is still maintained.

All of these strands have gone through highs and lows at different times and for different reasons. One of the highest moments in recent times was when we were galvanised into action by the perception of imminent exclusion of women and their rights in the new order. We formed the Women's National Coalition (WNC), which led to the adoption of the Women's Charter. We also championed the formation of the National Gender Machinery and subsequently the adoption of government's gender policy.

The WNC showed that whatever the challenges, women could, if mobilised and motivated across racial, ideological and political divides, find common ground. We were united around a common issue - the charter and, later on, the machinery. We had a fair share of challenges and problems. It is however not correct - as some of the current debates infer - to say that the WNC died or dissipated. The WNC was and is the sum total of the women and the organisations within it. We, and not a vague entity, killed it. It may have been necessary to do so or we did so unconsciously, but we have to take responsibility for its condition, objective conditions notwithstanding. This is critical for us as we move into the women's movement gear because we are the same drivers - the ANC Women's League (ANCWL), the Alliance and the broader Movement. We have to conclude the unfinished debate of whither the WNC for the women's movement to rise and be strong.

One of the lessons that will have to be learnt is the challenge of politics of access, inclusion and participation. When some of us moved into the state and its machinery we had to shift the sites to other battles. While this was very good, the unintended consequence was a temporary demobilisation and expectations of delivery from a state that has so many women. In some cases there was a sense of entitlement for us as women. In some cases the politics and advantages of access and inclusion prevailed with many acting as if the mere act of inclusion was transformation - the ultimate goal and not a step towards transformation.

Others grappled with how to use the state for transformation while simultaneously transforming it. Some academics withdrew into their offices and engaged the state from a distance. The political party sphere also began to dominate with many women tied down in their political parties and some even unable to negotiate, never mind fight, for the gender agenda. Yet others momentarily felt confused, shifting from politics of entitlement as women to outright demobilisation. The 'them' and 'us' mood temporarily disorganised us. We unfortunately did not effectively create space and time to reflect on the prevailing conjuncture and how to operate within it.

Nevertheless, the women's movement, in various forms, trudged on and many of the struggles were taken down to localities or sectors.

As we prepare for the formation of this movement, the lessons have to be brought to the fore for us to emerge stronger. This becomes critical as it determines how in this complex epoch we unite in action for the bigger goal of equal gender relations. What is the glue that will keep us together? The strength of any movement lies in its ability to link with others.

The women's movement should therefore include, but not be limited to, these networks and organisations. It should be the much-needed coordination, cooperation and collaboration point for solidarity and united action.

Some of the keywords that have to guide the women's movement are:

There should not be any space in our country that we have not occupied or in which our voice is not heard. This is why the organisations in their localities and sectors have to be strengthened even as we consolidate at the national level. The slogan of 'nothing about us without us' should be real, as there is absolutely nothing in our country that is not about us.

Diversity may open us to all sorts of competing calls for action. It is thus important that as we mobilise we do not fall into the trap of listing a long catalogue of grievances that ends up bogging us down as we try to prioritise.

One of the weaknesses we have had as the Alliance has been the poverty of gender theory. This makes us lurch from side to side as a rudderless ship on the seas of gender engagement. Some kind of theory emanating from our and other experiences would help us to have markers and pointers in our struggle. The documents of all the Alliance partners are unable to give this guide in a meaningful way. A women's movement does not necessarily evolve around a theory, but it needs a basic reference point beyond the slogans of engendering, mainstreaming, integrating gender, etc. South Africa as a whole is poorer for the limitation of the intellectual debate especially on these matters. Many women in South Africa have the practice, but that is not sufficient for the transformation agenda. Practice and experience needs to be continuously fortified by theory, while in turn enriching theory.

These are the pieces of the jigsaw that have to be put together to form the tapestry of one women's blanket - with identifiable and distinct colours and yet forming part of the whole. The thread knitting us together would be our action plan, unity in action and commitment to completely overthrow patriarchy and all its manifestations. We are ready, able and willing. Now is the time, our age of hope.

Thenjiwe Mtintso is a member of the ANC National Executive Committee.


Women marching for equality, peace and development The Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the 1956 women's march, women from across South Africa are gathering in Bloemfontein this month to launch the Progressive Women's Movement.

Women struggles in South Africa started before the last century. Women took a lead in the fight for land after the promulgation of the Land Act of 1913.

At this time they were not full members of the liberation movement. They were deemed as associate members, yet they were able to define their role within the struggles of the South African society. They formed an organisation, the Bantu Women's League, under the leadership of Charlotte Maxeke because of her deep understanding of the challenges facing women in South Africa. The League represented all the women of South Africa irrespective of class and education. These women fought for their rights and the rights of all the oppressed people. It was during this time that the liberation movement came to realise that women were powerful allies and that they had a role in the fight against apartheid.

When they became full members of the ANC they continued to work with women from other racial groups, rural areas, professional women, peasants and others. The Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) showed that women united have power. The 9 August 1956 march against the carrying of passes bears testimony to the collective strength, determination and unity among women of all races and classes. The government of the day had banned the march and women defied the ban, and brought the whole country to a standstill.

The effort to establish a women's movement in South Africa began a number of years ago. A decision to begin discussions about the formation of a national women's structure was taken at the Malibongwe Conference in Amsterdam in the Netherlands in January 1990. South African women from all walks of life attended the conference.

After the unbanning of political organisations, negotiations started. Women were initially excluded from playing a meaningful part in the negotiations.

As a result women formed a coalition of women from different political backgrounds and political affiliations. Through the National Women's Coalition (WNC), women were able take part in negotiations and articulate their demands. Women had drawn up a Women's Charter for Effective Equality, which was a development from the Women's Charter of 1954. Women presented the Women's Charter for Effective Equality to the first democratic government under the leadership of the then President Nelson Mandela. Many aspects of the charter are now reflected in the present constitution.

The Women's National Coalition disintegrated after the adoption of the new democratic constitution. This is due to the fact that women focused more on party politics, rather than on issues affect all women.

However, the ANC and the ANC Women's League have held a view that there is a need for some kind of an organic structure that will take up broader issues of women in South African society. This is part of the role that the Women's League has played in marshalling women to fight for their emancipation.

Over the years various discussion papers and resolutions have been developed and adopted on the purpose, character and proposed programme of establishing a progressive women's movement. For this reason the ANC Women's League and Alliance partners have proposed the formation of a Progressive Women's Movement whose key objective is to promote the transformation of South African society into one that is truly non-racial and non-sexist.

The new challenges facing the women of South Africa today demand that we form this women's movement so that we can meet the present challenges as a united force, in line with the transformation that is taking place in our country, on the continent and globally.

In October 2005, during a meeting of the ANC Women's League National Executive Committee (NEC), it was decided it would be ideal if South African women established a Progressive Women's Movement in 2006. The NEC chose this year because it marks the 50th anniversary of the 1956 women's march to Pretoria. It is also the year in which the country commemorates 10 years of a democratic constitution and 30 years since the June 1976 uprising.


Women and liberating religion

The struggle for the emancipation of women needs to be fought on several fronts, including in the sphere of religion, writes Cedric Mayson.

When President Thabo Mbeki was inaugurated for his second term as President of South Africa in 1999 it was asked why men should always lead the prayers of the people on such occasions. At least half of our citizens are women, and women are great prayers. Muslims, Hindus and Jews saw the point and agreed to consider the change 'if the others did': but the rabbis, imams and priests felt the development would require too much preparation among their supporters. A woman minister spoke for the Christians, and a woman not only prayed for the African traditional worshippers, but used the President's birth language as well. Two out of five was as least a start.

Religious institutions have all been inherited from patriarchal societies.

Their leadership has always been dominated by men at all levels, from bishops and priests, imams and moulanas, rabbis and swamis, presidents of this to treasurers of that. Women prepared the refreshments, cleaned up, visited the sick, and raised money for stipends and building funds, but the men ran the show.

Society has often been motivated by strong women leaders in the religious sphere from the great women saints of history and Joan of Arc, to women icons of modern societies, and in our own experience to the crucial role played by hundreds of thousands in the women's Manyanos, and the women saints of the struggle. But it has been an uphill battle against patriarchy.

There was invariably an assumption that God was male, whether a loving forgiving Father or a condemning vengeful Punisher.

Despite these inherited attitudes of many in the churches, the SA Council of Churches rejected this concept many years ago ('Do our words hide the truth about God?' SACC, 1993): 'God is Spirit, and has neither a male nor a female body (John 4.24). The humanity created in the divine image was both male and female (Genesis 1.27). The personal relationship of God with people is seen in terms of loving parenthood, often as father (eg Luke 25), but sometimes as mother (eg. Deut.32.18; Isaiah 42.14; 46.3-4; 66.13; Matthew 23.37; Luke 15.8-10).

The Spirit of God was poured out upon both men and women throughout the New Testament period (Acts 1.34 and 2.1 etc.) and has continued to this day.' The Congregational Church of South Africa was the first to ordain a woman as minister, but the practice has gradually spread to other denominations, including major bodies like Methodists and Anglicans. But the Catholics still follow the Pope despite the gradual emergence of radical and feminist Catholic theologians. As long ago as 1982, inaugurating the Institute of Contextual Theology, Albert Nolan stated it would take into account 'the oppression of women', but it has been a slow process. The largest formations of churches in SA today are said to be the Pentecostals, who seem to prefer men up front. Only the small Reformed Jews accept women rabbis; many Muslims are disturbed by those who break the old codes, and others by those who do not. Most Hindu religious practices are in the home, and here women often take the lead.

It is a concern which brings our diversity together. Writing in the March 2006 issue of the SA Journal of Theology, Professor Annalet Van Schalkwyk of the University of South Africa (UNISA) shows some of the parallels between the suffering of Afrikaans women against oppressive attitudes in their churches, and the quest of African women theologians for a fuller liberated life. She writes: 'Healing is usually found in struggle - in struggle for life, in struggle to overcome those forces which threaten life... Afrikaans and African women have to struggle against oppressive forces so as to find healing and life.' The liberatory role of women is an ongoing matter of concern and conflict in all religions, between those who see religions as bastions of the past, and those who see them as voorlopers of the future. It is a struggle waged by sangomas and theologians, by men and women, by academics and cleaners, in schools and homes, in parliament and local ANC Branches. And in prayers for the President.

Cedric Mayson is coordinator of the ANC Commission for Religious Affairs.


Towards the RDP of the soul

Pursuit of personal wealth undermines social cohesion and human solidarity

Whatever the benefit to any individual member of our nation, we share a fundamental responsibility to defeat the tendency in our society towards the glorification of personal wealth as the distinguishing feature of the new South African citizen, writes President Thabo Mbeki.

The great masses of our country everyday pray that the new South Africa that is being born will be a good, a moral, a humane and a caring South Africa which as it matures will progressively guarantee the happiness of all its citizens.

Because of the infancy of our brand new society, we have the possibility to act in ways that would for the foreseeable future, infuse the values of Ubuntu into our very being as a people. But what is it that constitutes Ubuntu beyond the standard and yet correct rendition Motho ke motho ka motho yo mongoe: Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu!

The Book of Proverbs in the Bible contains some injunctions that capture a number of elements of what constitute important features of the Spirit of Ubuntu, which we should strive to implant in the very bosom of the new South Africa that is being born, the food of the soul that would inspire all our people to say that they are proud to be South African.

The Proverbs say: 'Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.

'Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.

Strive not with a man without cause, if he has done thee no harm. Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.'

The Book of Proverbs assumes that as human beings, we have the human capacity to do as it says, not to withhold the good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of our hand to do it and not to say no to our neighbour, come again, and we will give you something tomorrow, even when we can give the necessary help today.

It assumes that we can be encouraged not to devise evil against our neighbours, with whom we otherwise live in harmony. It assumes that we are capable of responding to the injunction that we should not declare war against anybody without cause, especially those who have not caused us any harm. It urges that in our actions, we should not seek to emulate the demeanour of our oppressors, nor adopt their evil practices.

To the cynics all this sounds truly like the behaviour we would expect and demand of angels. All of us are convinced that, most unfortunately, we would find it difficult to find such angels in our country, who would number more than the fingers on two hands.

It may indeed very well be that, as against coming across those we can honestly describe as good people, we would find it easier to identify not only evil-doers, but also those who intentionally set out to do evil. In this regard, we would not be an exception in terms both of time and space.

Many years ago, Nelson Mandela made it bold to say that our country needs an 'RDP of the soul', the Reconstruction and Development of its soul. He made this call as our country, in the aftermath of our liberation in 1994, was immersed in an effort to understand the elements of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) that had constituted the core of the election manifesto of the ANC in our first democratic elections.

That RDP was eminently about changing the material conditions of the lives of our people. It made no reference to matters of the soul, except indirectly. For instance, the RDP document said: 'The RDP integrates economic growth, development, reconstruction and redistribution into a unified programme. The key to this link is an infrastructural programme that will provide access to modern and effective services like electricity, water, telecommunications, transport, health, education and training for all our people. This will lead to an increased output in all sectors of the economy and by modernising our infrastructure and human resource development. We will also enhance export capacity. Success in linking reconstruction and development is essential if we are to achieve peace and security for all.' All of these were and remain critically important and eminently correct objectives that we must continue to pursue. Indeed in every election since 1994, our contending parties have vied for the favours of our people on the basis of statistics that are about all these things.

All revolutions which, by definition, seek to replace one social order with another are in the end, and in essence, concerned with human beings and the improvement of the human condition. This is also true of our Democratic Revolution of 1994.

Assuming this assertion to be true, we must also say that human fulfilment consists of more than 'access to modern and effective services like electricity, water, telecommunications, transport, health, education and training for all our people'.

As distinct from other species of the animal world, human beings also have spiritual needs. It might perhaps be more accurate and less arrogant to say that these needs are more elevated and have a more defining impact on human beings than they do on other citizens of the animal world. Thus do all of us and not merely the religious leaders speak of the intangible element that is immanent in all human beings - the soul.

Acceptance of this proposition as a fact must necessarily mean that we have to accept the related assertion that, consequently, all human societies also have a soul. To deny this would demand that we argue in a convincing manner and therefore with all due logical coherence, that the fact that individual human beings might have a soul does not necessarily mean that the human societies they combine to constitute will themselves, in consequence, also have a soul.

This would prove to be an impossible task. Nevertheless, we must accept that as in the construction of a humane and caring society entails a struggle, rather than any self-evident and inevitable victory of good over evil.

The question must therefore arise for those among us who believe that we represent the good, what must we do to succeed in our purposes? Since no human action takes place outside of established objective reality and since we want to achieve our objectives, necessarily we must strive to understand the social conditions that would help to determine whether we succeed or fail.

This relates directly to what needed and needs to be done to achieve the objective that Nelson Mandela set the nation, to accomplish the RDP of its soul. This relates to what I said in 1978 in a lecture delivered in Canada, reflecting on the formation of South African society, which was later reproduced in the ANC journal, Sechaba, under the title 'The Historical Injustice':

'The historic compromise of 1910 has therefore this significance that in granting the vanquished Boer equal political and social status with the British victor, it imposed on both the duty to defend the status quo against especially those whom that status quo defined as the dominated. The capitalist class, to whom everything has a cash value, has never considered moral incentives as very dependable. As part of the arrangement, it therefore decided that material incentives must play a prominent part.

'It consequently bought out the whole white population. It offered a price to the white workers and the Afrikaner farmers in exchange for an undertaking that they would shed their blood in defence of capital. Both worker and farmer, like Faustus took the devil's offering and like Faustus, they will have to pay on the appointed day.

'The workers took the offering in monthly cash grants and reserved jobs.

The farmers took their share by having black labour including, especially prison labour directed to the farms. They also took it in the form of huge subsidies and loans to help them maintain a 'civilised standard of living'.'

The critical point conveyed in these paragraphs is that, within the context of the development of capitalism in our country, individual acquisition of material wealth, produced through the oppression and exploitation of the black majority, became the defining social value in the organisation of white society.

Because the white minority was the dominant social force in our country, it entrenched in our society as a whole, including among the oppressed, the deep-seated understanding that personal wealth constituted the only true measure of individual and social success.

As we achieved our freedom in 1994, this had become the dominant social value, affecting the entirety of our population. Inevitably, as an established social norm, this manifested itself even in the democratic state machinery that had seemingly 'seamlessly', replaced the apartheid state machinery. The new order born of the victory in 1994 inherited a well-entrenched value system that placed individual acquisition of wealth at the very centre of the value system of our society as a whole.

In practice this means that, provided this did not threaten overt social disorder, society assumed a tolerant or permissive attitude towards such crimes as theft and corruption, especially if these related to public property. This phenomenon, which we considered as particularly South African, was in fact symptomatic of the capitalist system in all countries.

It had been analysed by all serious commentators on the capitalist political economy, including such early analysts as Adam Smith.

In despair at this development, RH Tawney wrote in his famous book, 'Religion and the Rise of Capitalism':

'To argue, in the manner of Machiavelli, that there is one rule for business and another for private life, is to open the door to an orgy of unscrupulousness before which the mind recoils. Yet granted that I should love my neighbour as myself the questions which under modern conditions of large-scale economic organisation, remain for solutions like who precisely is my neighbour? And how exactly am I to make my love for him effective in practice?

'To these questions the conventional religious teaching supplied no answer, for it had not even realised that they could be put religiously and had not yet learned to console itself for the practical difficulty of applying its moral principles, by clasping the comfortable formula that for the transactions of economic life no moral principles exists.'

In his well-known book 'The Great Transformation', in a chapter headed

'Market and Man', Karl Polanyi says:

'To separate labour from other activities of life and to subject it to the laws of the market was to annihilate all organic forms of existence and to replace them by a different type of organisation, an atomistic and individualist one.

'Such a scheme of destruction was best served by the application of the principle of freedom of contract. In practice this meant that the non-contractual organisations of kinship, neighbourhood, profession and creed were to be liquidated since they claimed the allegiance of the individual and thus restrained his freedom.

'To represent this principle as one of non-interference, as economic liberals were not to do, was merely the expression of an ingrained prejudice in favour of a definite kind of interference namely, such would destroy non-contractual relations between individuals and prevent the spontaneous reformation.'

In a foreword to a recent edition of this book, Joseph Stiglitz says, 'Polanyi stresses a particular defect in the self-regulating economy that only recently has been brought back into discussion. It involves the relationship between the economy and society, with how economic systems or reforms can affect how individuals relate to one another. Again, as the importance of social relations has increasingly become recognised, the vocabulary has changed. We now talk, for instance, about social capital.' The point made by Polanyi is that the capitalist market destroys relations of 'kinship, neighbourhood, profession, and creed', replacing these with the pursuit of personal wealth by citizens who, as he says, have become atomistic and individualistic.

Get rich! Get rich! Get rich!

Thus every day and during every hour of our time beyond sleep, the demons embedded in our society, that stalk us at every minute, seem always to beckon each one of us towards a realisable dream and nightmare. With every passing second, they advise, with rhythmic and hypnotic regularity - get rich! get rich! get rich! Many of us accept that our common natural instinct to escape from poverty is but the other side of the same coin on whose reverse side are written the words: 'At all costs, get rich!' In these circumstances personal wealth and the public communication of the message that we are people of wealth, becomes at the same time the means by which we communicate the message that we are worthy citizens of our community, the very exemplars of what defines the product of a liberated South Africa.

This peculiar striving produces the particular result that manifestations of wealth, defined in specific ways, determine the individuality of each one of us who seeks to achieve happiness and self-fulfilment, given the liberty that the revolution of 1994 brought to all of us.

In these circumstances, the meaning of freedom has come to be defined not by the seemingly ethereal and therefore intangible gift of liberty, but by the designer labels on the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the spaciousness of our houses and our yards, their geographic location, the company we keep and what we do as part of that company.

It is perfectly obvious that many in our society, having absorbed the value system of the capitalist market, have come to the conclusion that, for them personal success and fulfilment means personal enrichment at all costs and the most theatrical and striking public display of that wealth.

The well-known financier George Soros has made statements which directly confront the crisis to social cohesion and human solidarity caused by the elevation of the profit motive and the personal acquisition of wealth as the principal and guiding objectives in the construction of modern societies.

Among other things, Soros said that in an earlier epoch, 'people were guided by a set of moral principles that found expression in behaviour outside the scope of the market mechanism.'

'Unsure of what they stand for, people increasingly rely on money as the criterion of value. What is more expensive is considered better. People deserve respect and admiration because they are rich. What used to be a medium of exchange has usurped the place of fundamental values, reversing the relationship postulated by economic theory. What used to be professions have turned into businesses. The cult of success has replaced a belief in principles. Society has lost its anchor.

'The laissez-faire argument against income redistribution invokes the doctrine of the survival of the fittest...There is something wrong with making the survival of the fittest a guiding principle of civilised society...Cooperation is as much a part of the (economic) system as competition, and the slogan 'survival of the fittest' distorts this fact.

'I blame the prevailing attitude, which holds that the unhampered pursuit of self-interest will bring about an eventual international equilibrium in the world economy.' ('The Capitalist Threat', The Atlantic Monthly, February 1997) The critical concern that George Soros has expressed is what he describes as 'market fundamentalism', the dominance and precedence of the capitalist motive of private profit maximisation which has evolved into the central objective that informs the construction of modern human society in all its elements.

Nothing can come out of this except the destruction of human society, resulting from the atomisation of society into an agglomeration of individuals who pursue mutually antagonistic materialist goals.

Necessarily and inevitably, this cannot but negate social cohesion and mutually beneficial human solidarity and therefore the most fundamental condition of the existence of all human beings namely, the mutually interdependent human relationships without which the individual human being cannot exist.

Whatever the benefit to any individual member of our nation, we nevertheless share a fundamental objective to defeat the tendency in our society towards the deification of personal wealth as the distinguishing feature of the new citizen of the new South Africa.

The Book of Genesis says, 'In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken: for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.' (Genesis 3:19) This Biblical text suggests that of critical importance to every South African is consideration of the material conditions of life and therefore the attendant pursuit of personal wealth. After all, what interpretation should be attached to the statement that 'in the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread'.

Perhaps strangely, this could be said to coincide exactly with a fundamental proposition advanced by the founders of Marxism, expressed by Friederich Engels at the funeral of Karl Marx in the following words: 'Just as Darwin discovered the law of development or organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc; that therefore the production of the immediate material means, and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.' Putting all this in more dramatic language, Marx had said: 'Man must eat before he can think.' In this regard, Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution, said: 'Before we perceive, we breathe: we cannot exist without air, food and drink'.

Marx and Engels represented a particular point of view in the evolution of the discipline of philosophy and were not asserting any love for the private accumulation of wealth. They were 'materialists', who were militantly opposed to another philosophical tendency described as 'idealism'.

One of the most famous expressions of this 'idealism' was stated by the French scholar and philosopher, Rene Descartes, who wrote in Latin: 'Cogito, ergo sum' - 'I think, therefore I am'.

In the context of our own challenges, this 'idealism' must serve to focus our attention on issues other than the tasks of the production and distribution of material wealth.

Economic news and our economic challenges have come to occupy a central element of our daily diet of information. Matters relating to such important issues as unemployment and job creation, disbursements from the national budget and expenditures on such items of education, health, welfare and transport, the economic growth rate, the balance between our imports and exports, the value of the Rand, skills development, broad based black economic empowerment and the development of the 'second economy', have all become part of our daily discourse.

Nevertheless the old intellectual debate between 'materialists' and 'idealists', whatever side we take in this regard, must tell us that human life is about more than the economy and therefore material considerations.

As a nation we must make a special effort to understand and act on this because personal pursuit of material gain, as the beginning and end of our life purpose, is already beginning to corrode our social and national cohesion. What this means is that when we talk of a better life for all, within the context of a shared sense of national unity and national reconciliation, we must look beyond the undoubtedly correct economic objectives our nation has set itself.

In this context, most unfortunately, there is much trouble in the world.

Much too regularly all of us are exposed daily to news of human-made conflict and death and the disasters caused by poverty and natural disasters. Currently, none of us can avoid being extremely concerned about what is happening in the Middle East. What is happening in this region constitutes a tinderbox that has the potential to set the whole world aflame.

An impending catastrophe We are confronted with an impending catastrophe that is almost out of control. We must pose the question whether, even in the medium term, we are not ineluctably progressing towards the situation when the centre cannot hold. I refer here not only to the serious problems in the Middle East but to the phenomenon of social conflict everywhere else in the world. As Europe and the world sowed the seeds for the catastrophe later represented by the Second World War as in a Greek tragedy, the eminent Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, like other European thinkers, sounded alarm bells that nobody seemed to hear.

Hopefully, the warning he sounded so many decades ago will be heard today, so that, by our acts of commission and omission, we do not condemn humanity to an age of extreme misery and death that could have been avoided.

Thus do I appeal that all of us, the mighty and the lowly, hear the words of the poet not only with our ears, but also with our minds and our hearts, as he spoke of 'The Second Coming': 'Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer / Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold./ Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere /The ceremony of innocence is drowned; / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity / Surely some revelation is at hand; / Surely the Second Coming is at hand. / A shape with lion body and the head of a man, / A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, / Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it / Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds / but now I know / That twenty centuries of stony sleep were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, / And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?' To ensure that things do not fall apart, we must in the first instance, never allow that the market should be the principal determinant of the nature of our society. We should firmly oppose the 'market fundamentalism' which George Soros has denounced as the force that has led society to lose its anchor. Instead, we must place at the centre of our daily activities the pursuit of the goals of social cohesion and human solidarity. We must therefore, strive to integrate into the national consciousness the value system contained in the world outlook described as Ubuntu.

We must therefore constantly ask ourselves the question - what is it in our country that militates against social cohesion and human solidarity? We would all agree that to achieve the social cohesion and human solidarity we seek, we must vigorously confront the legacy of poverty, racism and sexism.

At the same time, we must persist in our efforts to achieve national reconciliation.

Mere reliance on the market would never help us to achieve these outcomes.

Indeed, if we were to rely on the market to produce these results, what would happen would be the exacerbation of the deep-seated problems of poverty, racism and sexism and a retreat from the realisation of the objective of national reconciliation.

Then indeed would we open the door to the demons that WB Yeats saw slouching towards Bethlehem to be born - emerging from the situation where the centre could not hold, in which mere anarchy would be loosed upon the world.

We must therefore say that the Biblical injunction is surely correct, that 'Man cannot live by bread alone' and therefore that the mere pursuit of individual wealth can never satisfy the need immanent in all human beings to lead lives of happiness.

The conflicts we see today and have seen in many parts of the world should themselves communicate the daily message to us that the construction of cohesive human society concerns much more than the attainment of high economic growth rates, important as this objective is.

As we agonise over the unnecessary killings of innocent people and the destruction of much needed infrastructure in Iraq and Palestine, in Lebanon and Israel, we have to ensure that we do not slide into an era when the falcon cannot hear the falconer, when things fall apart and the centre cannot hold.

As we South Africans grapple with our own challenges, billions of the poor and the marginalised across the globe see the world ever evolving into a more sinister, cold and bitter place: this is the world that is gradually defined by increasing racism, xenophobia, ethnic animosity, religious conflicts, and the scourge of terrorism.

Our nation has begun to exhibit many critical common features deriving from a unified vision of a society based on non-racialism, non-sexism, shared prosperity and peace and stability. Yet, at the same time, we still display strong traits of our divided past with the debate about our future quite often coalescing along definite racial lines. Despite this and despite the advances we have made in our 12 years of freedom, we must also recognise the reality that we still have a long way to go before we can say we have eradicated the embedded impulses that militate against social cohesion, human solidarity and national reconciliation.

We should never allow ourselves the dangerous luxury of complacency, believing that we are immune to the conflicts that we see and have seen in so many parts of the world. In a world that still suffers from the blight of intolerance, wars, antagonistic conflicts, racism, tribalism and marginalisation, national reconciliation and reconciliation among the nations, will remain a challenge that must occupy the entire human race continuously.

In our case we should say that we are fortunate that we had a Nelson Mandela who made bold to give us the task to attend to the 'RDP of the soul', and lent his considerable weight to the achievement of the goal of national reconciliation and the achievement of the goal of a better life for all our people.

Ten years ago, Nelson Mandela travelled to the Republic of Congo to assist the people of the then Zaire, and now the Democratic Republic of Congo, to make peace among them. In this regard, he was conscious of the task we share as Africans to end the conflicts on our continent, many of which are driven by the failure to affect the RDP of the African soul, to uphold the principles of Ubuntu, consciously to strive for social cohesion, human solidarity and national reconciliation.

This month the people of the DRC went to the polls to elect their president and members of the National Assembly. We must therefore say that we have arrived at a proud moment of hope for the DRC and Africa. I can think of no better birthday present for Madiba than the elections in the DRC and no better tribute to the initiative he took 10 years ago to plead with the leaders of the Congolese people that together as Africans, we must build a society based on the noble precept that - Motho ke motho ka motho yo mongoe: Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu!

Thabo Mbeki is President of the ANC and President of South Africa. This is an edited version of his address at the Fourth Nelson Mandela Lecture, University of Witwatersrand, 29 July 2006.


'Nothing about us without us'

The role of youth in the current conjuncture

Society has no choice but to hear the call of youth for their own development, because there can be no future without a youth capable of meeting the needs of the country's development, writes Fikile Mbalula.

The socio-economic and socio-political evolution of South African society has dramatically impacted on our youth and altered the dynamics of the environment they find themselves in. As we look back and remember events that came to pass in June 1976, we similarly reflect on the path we have traversed as South Africa's youth and the historic role we have played in moulding latter-day South Africa.

The dawn of democracy in 1994 necessitated a review of the role of youth in a free and democratic society. Gone was the era of brave revolutionaries whose dedication to their country was demonstrated on the battlefield by placing themselves in harm's way to free their land. Society had redrawn its boundaries overnight and laid down new tasks for the youth. Ours was a free nation desperate to cultivate a dedicated and patriotic cadre to advance the national democratic revolution along new frontiers of struggle. The National Party had been defeated and was facing extinction. A new sense of urgency had emerged to position our youth as benefactors of the South Africa of tomorrow.

Our youth has always lived by the ethos, 'nothing about us without us'. They have internalised this and have become champions of their own cause across all social strata. In the same vein, they have fully internalised the reality that the future of this country, and indeed the world, is in their hands.

South Africa boasts a youth that has characterised itself as robustly activist, be it in politics, on social issues or within the economy. We must build on this activist culture to cultivate a truly patriotic and dedicated cadre whose commitment to the advancement of the national democratic revolution is beyond question. Too often our youth have become whiners and whingers who are quick to throw stones before they understand the prevailing dynamics. This energy and activism must be harnessed and channeled appropriately such that it adds the right kind of value to our national growth and development. This is a national imperative that must be driven collectively by all organs of civil society.

Others have not hesitated to suggest that our youth have been depoliticised and have become apathetic since the advent of democracy. This assertion has been refuted, backed by statistics and trends in recent years that demonstrate that our youth remain activists and understand their role in advancing our democracy.

In defence of our democracy As frontline soldiers, our youth have a primary obligation to defend our democracy. This manifests itself in a number of ways. It is the youth who must set the agenda in the national public discourse. These are the opinion-makers who must influence the direction of our national development and growth. The media establishment has sought to denounce our youth as a lost generation who cannot add any value to our national growth, and has sought to position itself themselves as their mouthpiece. Yet young people have spoken for themselves and declared that they are ready and willing to assume their rightful place as kingmakers and opinion-makers in every facet of our social and economic life.

Our youth must remain militant revolutionaries and rebels with a cause, and must rebel against attempts to depoliticise them and render them insignificant in our national discourse. Militancy remains a strategic vehicle for our youth to advance the youth development and empowerment agenda. Our detractors continue to project our youth as a 'spent force' whose relevance has passed its 'sell-by' date and whose interests do not go beyond parties, clubs and alcohol. Our youth must collectively rise to put pay to this lie and demonstrate their central role in South Africa's socio-political and socio-economic life.

We must similarly reject politics of patronage that seek to place us in positions to buy our loyalty and silence. We must expose those among us whose sole interest is to ascend to positions of power and influence with no interest in forwarding the national developmental agenda.

Young people's voices must be loud and clear. They must demand the right to speak for themselves; not through spokespersons whose sole interest is to advance their own selfish agendas.

Some people have been quick to undermine democratic platforms of youth simply because they wish to put forth young puppets as leaders, puppets with whom they would be able to effect their own hegemony. Some have even dared to decry the alienation of the youth from such democratic processes as though democracy means that their puppets must be at the centre of youth leadership. As the ANC Youth League we will continue to lead the youth to rebel against all forms of patronage, opportunism and careerism. As leaders of the youth we must pride ourselves with leading a youth generation that thinks independently and charts its own way forward on the challenges that confronts it. We must oppose any agenda that seeks to treat our youth as robots.

The national democratic revolution (NDR) is still firmly on course and the realisation of its tasks depends on our ability to remain vigilant and reject those tendencies that seek to detract us from the task at hand. We must never be found wanting when the NDR is entrusted to us. The revolution must be safe in our hands, for to be apolitical and less militant is tantamount to selling out the revolution.

Youth in education Education remains the most significant arena for youth development and emancipation. As our society continues to grapple with the legacy of apartheid, the youth remains at the receiving end of our efforts and is therefore most affected by our interventions. At times, such interventions have unintended consequences, diluting our well-meant efforts. Our greatest challenge on this front is to ensure our education system is responsive to the nation's cultural diversity. Western culture and value systems have been imported wholesale into African communities at the expense of indigenous cultures. To date, this remains the biggest failure of our education system.

Young people themselves have a significant role to play in addressing this anomaly. More importantly, education must ensure that our youth are able to further both their individual and collective development as a nation. We cannot afford to perpetually produce graduates that are not equipped for meaningful economic participation.

Youth and AIDS The HIV and AIDS pandemic has reached alarming proportions in our society, and young people are the hardest hit. Our ability to secure our nation's legacy and to build a cadreship better prepared to lead South Africa to a brighter future is directly related to our ability to contain the HIV and AIDS scourge and achieve a zero new infection rate by 2014. This is a task that must be taken up by every young person in the country. This goal will forever remain a pipe dream unless young people themselves take ownership of this campaign and lead from the front. The ANC Youth League has declared war on this pandemic and every Youth League branch needs to incorporate in its programme of action initiatives that seek to advance this objective.

For young people to play a meaningful role in taking responsibility for their lives and their behaviour, we need to integrate education about HIV and AIDS into our schooling system from the lower grades throughout the schooling years. In every community, young people must assume the role of being care-givers to those infected and affected by AIDS. We must retrace our steps and find our way back to a caring society whose value system and ethos is driven by ubuntu. We have no doubt that our youth have what it takes to rise to the occasion and fight this pandemic with the same vigour and determination they fought the struggle against apartheid.

As part of doubling our efforts in ensuring that our interventions make the necessary impact, we must ensure that government's roll-out of antiretroviral drugs is accelerated to reach all those who need them. Those who come after us must never find us wanting and blame us for not paying enough attention to a scourge that has the capacity to decimate our nation.

The vibrancy of our democracy and the growth of our nation has, as one of its most critical cornerstones, civil society. There can be no doubt that youth form an integral part of civil society and has a fundamental role to play. The ongoing task of transforming our society to one that is non-racial, non-sexist and at peace with itself requires a firm commitment from our youth.

Youth and the workplace

Our 'Jobs For Youth' campaign seeks to place the plight of youth at the centre of the country's job creation agenda. It is for the same reason that we opposed any attempts to liberalise South Africa's job market through the creation of a dual labour market characterised by wholesale casualisation of labour, particularly at entry level. For our country to progress effectively towards full youth emancipation and empowerment, young people themselves must take advantage of the benefits of freedom and participate in the mainstream economy of the country. Institutions created by government to advance youth economic participation have fallen far short of expectations and have failed to make a dent in growing youth unemployment. Young people therefore need to apply their own innovation and carve out their own place in the national developmental agenda.

It remains a sad reality that the vast majority of those in prison and in trouble with the law are young people. Many get brutalised on entering the criminal justice system and emerge from the system hardened criminals. A sustainable solution to their criminal behaviour will not be found unless the root causes of the criminal behaviour itself are addressed in a focused and sustainable way. Research has shown that there is a direct relationship between crime and poverty. As a society, we therefore have an obligation to work together to eradicate poverty and build a peaceful society.

The correctional services system remains a matter of serious concern to us.

Our prisons are bursting at their seams and those jailed for petty crimes end up being hardened criminals with little regard for society. Our youth must therefore be at the forefront of providing voluntary services and making a difference.

It is our expectation that our youth will embrace the value system handed down the generations by the founders of the ANC and ANC Youth League. Their selfless dedication, personal sacrifices and unwavering commitment to the liberation struggle must inspire our youth to emulate their example and reject dogmatism and ignorance and become a dynamic force to take South Africa to new heights.

In advancing the NDR, young people have a central role in ensuring that the deracialisation of our society becomes a reality. Through national discourse and engagements at other forums, African youth must build bridges to reach out to and engage white youth within the overall ambit of building a patriotic cadre.

South Africa is a member of a global community and we must continually strive to advance the struggle for a just world through unwavering solidarity with those who remain oppressed. We must intensify our struggle against imperialist and neo-colonial tendencies. South Africa must become a beacon of hope for those who have yet to be liberated and our youth must rigorously engage with their international counterparts to influence the world order in line with our national vision. We must work for the liberation, among others, of the people of Swaziland, Western Sahara, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Palestine.

Meeting recently during the National Youth Policy Review Convention, organised by the National Youth Convention, the youth were unanimous in their call for an Integrated Youth Development Strategy that would permeate all government departments in all the three spheres of government, including the private sector and NGOs. The youth in this convention also elaborated on the need for a comprehensive institutional mechanism that would implement this Integrated Youth Development Strategy. Thus the youth continue to define their role and chart the way forward on the tasks at hand to ensure their own development. In this way, the youth continue to demonstrate the motto that 'nothing about us without us'. Society at large has no choice but to hear the youth's call and yearning for their own development because there cannot be any future without a youth capacitated all round to meet the leadership needs in the various spheres of our country's development.

Fikile Mbalula is President of the ANC Youth League.


The third pillar of our transformation

The Native Club is not an organisation, not does it have a membership. Yet it aims to mobilise South Africans to ensure that the ideas, philosophies, values and knowledge that propel society in a particular direction reflect the indigenous identity of our people, writes Titus Mafolo.

Voluminous texts have been written about the Native Club, what it represents and what it does not represent, who is eligible to be a member and who is not, with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) saying this is a 'foolish initiative'.

The Native Club is not an organisation and has no membership. It is a forum, led by a small committee that facilitates workshops, discussions and debates around different issues and will soon begin research around identified topics. It is a club that seeks to encourage on-going critical engagement, especially among blacks, around the many and varied matters confronting our transformation.

We seek to strengthen our democratic order by interrogating the philosophical framework within which we produce knowledge and within which certain ideas have become entrenched and dominant in our society. This is particularly critical because today, blacks in South Africa are responsible for around only 15% of knowledge production.

We have also identified the need to work with schools around debates, creative writing, research, drama and other extra mural activities to engender critical consciousness among young people. We will in the near future engage the Minister of Education and the MECs of education with this programme.

The main focus of the Native Club is the area of culture. Culture in this context refers to the totality of inherited ideas, beliefs, philosophies, assumptions, values and knowledge that propel society in a particular direction. Of particular importance is the space of knowledge production, which is in the hands of whites, the majority of whom adhere to a liberal ideology. We refer here to writing and production of books, tutorials, study materials and research work and the dissemination of all these knowledge materials. As in the economy, whites control and own the means of knowledge production and dissemination.

For instance, there is a big challenge for the rich knowledge in the hands of comrades to be translated into books. Yet, only a tiny minority among us has written about our own experiences in the struggle for liberation. As a result, young people have no actual and real references about the challenges that we faced as we prosecuted the struggle for freedom. Perhaps the problem is that we own the stories but we don't own the pen. The Native Club wants to ensure that comrades and blacks in general also own the pen.

The contest for the hegemony of the cultural space is consistent with the strategic objective of the ANC which is the liberation of blacks in general and Africans in particular. That liberation is not only political.


The Native Club and the national democratic project

Now that political power has been achieved, we cannot afford to marginalise the realm of ideas in the process of transformation, writes Eddy Maloka.

The current debate on the Native Club speaks directly to the question of the role of intellectuals in South Africa, an issue already raised in the pages of Umrabulo particularly by Jeremy Cronin and Mandla Nkomfe (See Umrabulo 25).

Yet, the Native Club is simply a movement, or rather a network, of a section of our country's intelligentsia which is 'gatvol' with the dominance that whites continue to enjoy in our knowledge production sector.

Three revolutionary intellectual traditions

The intelligentsia has historically played a role throughout the world, not only in the generation of ideas, but also in the many struggles against inequality, exploitation and oppression. In the African context, the nationalist project has dominated the preoccupation of the continent's intelligentsia, especially with respect to issues around colonialism, the right to self-determination, anti-imperialism and combating racism. Over the years, these issues came to coalesce around Pan-Africanism, which is simultaneously a movement for the liberation of the African continent and an intellectual project aimed at contesting the ideological hegemony of the West.

The Pan-African project evolved in the context of the anti-colonial struggles, and came to entail four elements: a sense among Africans on the continent and those in the Diaspora of themselves as 'one' people because of common historical experience and destiny; the quest for the 'regeneration', 'awakening' or 'renaissance' of Africa on the social, cultural and economic fronts as well as in global affairs; the 'dream' of an Africa united in the social, cultural, economic and political spheres; and the spirit of solidarity among people of African descent.

The South African intelligentsia, like its counterparts in the world and the rest of Africa, could not escape the effects of the anti-colonial struggle.

For most of the white intelligentsia, colonialism was a project to rationalise and defend. The few who broke ranks fell into three categories.

The majority of the latter resorted to the liberal interpretation of the South African question; they reified 'race' at the expense of 'class', and regarded the oppressed as objects of pity. To them, identifying with the struggle of the oppressed was as exotic as visiting a stone-age community in the middle of some jungle. Nonetheless, the liberals dominated 'left' thinking among the whites, and their influence continues to this day.

In the second category were a comparatively smaller group of white intellectual cadres who made a genuine leap to join the ranks of the struggle of the oppressed. An even smaller group, in the third category, refused to join either the oppressed or the liberals. These 'legal' Marxists accused the liberals of failing to understand 'class', and dismissed the liberation movement as a 'petty bourgeois' project; they searched for 'class' purity and 'perfect' revolutions in lecture halls and libraries. This tendency has dwindled in influence, especially in the aftermath of the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of apartheid. In fact, some of the former 'legal' Marxists are today over-zealous champions of the racist campaign against affirmative action.

The black South African intelligentsia, by contrast, has generally been influenced by three revolutionary intellectual traditions. Since the early years, the liberation movement in South Africa never lost sight of similar struggles taking place on the continent and elsewhere in the world. In this context, the influence of Pan-Africanism reached our shores. Some of our compatriots, like Pixley ka Seme, Sol Plaatje and Albert Luthuli, also contributed to the development of Pan-African thought. To this day, various tendencies of Pan-African thought dominate the ideological orientation of the liberation movement and the outlook of post-apartheid South Africa. Some of the ideas currently on the table which are traceable to this intellectual tradition include our determination to regain and assert the independence of our country and continent, building strong linkages with the African Diaspora, reaffirming and asserting African culture, challenging Western notions of Africa, and working hard to position Africa as a force in the global arena.

Marxism is another intellectual tradition whose influence on the black intelligentsia continues to this day, thanks to the role particularly of the South African Communist Party. The early Black Consciousness (BC) Movement, building on the heritage of Negritude and the influence of Frantz Fanon and the Black Power struggles in the United States, has also made its contribution in directing the outlook of our country's black intelligentsia.

The three revolutionary intellectual traditions are, indeed, complementary, to the extent that they could even be synthesised into a single body of thought. For example, Marxism, by extracting 'class' out of the complex of racial colonial domination and adding an internationalist dimension to the anti-colonial struggle, helped deepen and enrich the understanding in the liberation movement of the national democratic project. And, thanks to the BC influence, very few in our ranks will dispute the importance of reaffirming and asserting black identity. Whereas the emphasis of BC is on psychological liberation, the primary focus of Pan-Africanism and Marxism is on resolving national oppression and class exploitation, respectively.

To a large extent, the debate among the black intelligentsia has mainly revolved, on the one hand, around the definition of and the relative weight that one attaches to dialectically linked categories such as 'race', 'class', 'culture' and 'nation', and, on the other, around the political definition and socio-economic content of post-apartheid South Africa. There is in our country a genre of intellectual thought whose components are elements of the three traditions.

The liberation movement has had to depend for decades on its own intelligentsia, not least because pillars of knowledge production in the country were in the hands of whites. Even the black intellectuals who were based at institutions which were controlled by whites had to draw inspiration from the three traditions and from the actual experience of struggle. The theories of the liberation struggle which informed the approach of the various organs of the liberation movement were the product of the thinking within the ranks of the movement itself; they were not developed by some intellectual sitting somewhere high, up there, in some ivory tower. To be sure, most in the knowledge sector establishment were hostile to the liberation movement; liberals thought our struggle was too violent while 'legal' Marxists doubted whether we were radical enough. To this day, the cadreship of the movement is trained not by some academic, no matter how well read the person may be, but by those well schooled in the theories and praxis of our struggle.

The members of the Native Club are influenced predominately by the three revolutionary intellectual traditions, with the battle-cry being to address the legacy of apartheid in the knowledge production sector. The liberation movement, as argued already, came to power with its own body of knowledge and an engaged intelligentsia, but since 1994 there has been a significant retreat on these two fronts. This has largely been because many of those who in the past were dedicated to the generation of ideas for the struggle have now been absorbed into new responsibilities. The private sector is also playing its part, paying the highest price for the best brains in the country. In the private sector innovation is subordinated to the logic of capital accumulation.

The terrain of ideas should not be left uncontested, lest our school children are condemned to singing, under the banner of the flag of our new South Africa, praise songs for Christopher Columbus for having 'discovered' the world. Our ancestors, in their resistance against colonial intruders, never lost sight of the importance of ideas, some even sending their children and trusted cadres to missionary schools to learn the 'secrets of the white man'. During our struggle the realm of ideas always stood vigilant behind the barrel of the gun. Why then, when we have political power, do we marginalise ideas as a priority sector for transformation?

Eddy Maloka is the President of the African Association of Political Science (AAPS)


Is Parliament weak?

As parliament delivers on its responsibilities towards the process of fundamental social transformation, new challenges will arise, exposing limitations in the functioning of the institution. These should be openly discussed and addressed, writes Mbulelo Goniwe.

The Freedom Charter contains the vision that steers our efforts towards the creation of a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.

The ANC's Strategy and Tactics document defines our strategic objective as the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. It observes that the democratic breakthrough of April 1994 constitutes a platform to launch a programme of social transformation to overcome the legacy of a social system that was based on the oppression of the black majority.

The new society we are building today arises from the ashes of a deeply divided past characterised by strife, conflict, untold human suffering and injustice. This situation generated gross violations of human rights, transgressions of humanitarian principles in violent conflict, a legacy of hatred, fear, guilt and revenge.

Over the years various forms of limited participation in government were devised by white minority regimes for the black majority, particularly the homeland policy. Through this system, the black majority was denied socio-political and economic rights. The colour of one's skin was the sole determinant for one's participation in political, economic and social life.

The transitional period from 1990 culminated in the interim constitution, whose preamble identified the 'need to create a new order in which all South Africans will be entitled to a common South African citizenship in a sovereign and democratic constitutional state in which there is equality between men and women and people of all races so that all citizens shall be able to enjoy and exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms'.

When, on 8 May 1996, a democratically elected Constitutional Assembly adopted our country's new constitution with an 86% majority, our people's fundamental vision was realised: 'That South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people.' Our Constitution is supreme, has a Bill of Rights and contains the values that guide us in our work. These values guide all branches of government in the conduct of their functions.

The doctrine of separation of powers is a fundamental feature of South Africa's democratic system. State power is devolved among the three branches of government. The legislature makes, amends, repeals laws and performs the oversight function. The executive implements and enforces the laws, while the judiciary interprets and applies the law to concrete situations. The doctrine of separation of powers prevents the concentration of power in one body.

The ANC's 51st National Conference, held in Stellenbosch in 2002, said: 'The ANC commits itself to the fundamental provisions of the basic law of the land, which accords with its own vision of a democratic and just society. We have set out to implement both the letter and the spirit of the constitution, including such principles as multi-party democracy, the doctrine and practice of separation of powers in a constitutional state, fundamental human rights to all citizens, respect for the rights of linguistic, religious and cultural communities, and social equity within the context of correcting the historical injustices of apartheid.' The Strategy and Tactics says: 'The character and strength of the ANC must continue to reside in its mass base. And, as the leading force in government, the ANC should continuously improve its capacity and skill to wield and transform the instruments of power. This includes a systematic approach to parliament as the forum to lay the detailed legal framework for transformation, creative employment of public representatives in organisational work, a cadre policy ensuring that the ANC plays a leading role in all centres of power, and a proper balance in its day-to-day activities between narrow governmental work and organisational tasks.' 'In all centres of power, particularly in parliament and the executive, ANC representatives must fulfill the mandate of the organisation. They should account to the ANC and seek its broad guidance. As a matter of political principle, and in our structures and our style of operation, we proceed always from the premise that there is one ANC, irrespective of the many and varied sectors in which cadres are deployed.' The constitution enjoins parliament to pass the budget and laws, to amend the constitution, perform oversight functions, to review the constitution and to provide a platform for public debate.

Criticism of parliament

There have been some public criticisms that parliament is weak. These criticisms have not however pointed out the specific areas where the weaknesses are in relation to the tasks of parliament as contained in the Constitution.

David Welsh, Emeritus Professor of Political Studies at the University of Cape Town, in his paper on Democratic challenges and opportunities for South Africa says, 'The National Assembly features little more than a dialogue of the deaf.' He continues to quote Colin Eglin as follows, 'The old parliament was a debating chamber; the [post-1994] one is a speaking chamber. There's no confrontation in terms of debates. '

Welsh writes: 'There has been a centralisation of power in the presidency and an expansion in the size of the office, where Mbeki has surrounded himself with trusted confidantes...'

Arising from our country's past, the ANC Strategy and Tactics identifies various tasks that our movement must fulfil, including, among others:

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the elements that characterise our programme of transformation, but we highlight them to emphasise what the ANC says, that: 'The new democratic government derives its character from these challenges. These tasks are made the more urgent and the difficulty of implementing them further compounded by the massive social disparities that we have inherited.' The tasks that parliament faced, and continues to be confronted with, can be no different from those that the country has to resolve. Therefore, when our country demanded, through the interim constitution, the drafting and adoption, of a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist constitution, our parliament engaged in an open participatory process to fulfil that task.

When our country needed the laws to allow for the evolution of a society visualised in the Freedom Charter and our Constitution, our parliament processed a great volume of statutes in the period up to 2001.

We have now acknowledged that the necessary legislative framework has been laid. We now need to pay more attention to oversight and constituency work.

Parliament is doing everything possible to avail resources to enable us to carry out these tasks.

The criticism that there is no confrontation in parliament seeks to define the role of parliament outside of the South African historical context. This type of thinking is born of the Westminster type of government, a system that is no longer a central part of our constitutional state.

This approach is also designed to sew confusion among the people about the manner in which our cadres should conduct themselves as members of the national liberation movement as opposed to a parliamentary party.

It deliberately disregards the directive cited above that in all centres of power, particularly in parliament and the executive, ANC representatives should account to the ANC and seek its broad guidance. That directive states that, as a matter of political principle, and in our structures and our style of operation, we proceed always from the premise that there is one ANC, irrespective of the many and varied sectors in which cadres are deployed.

There is a difference between open and robust debate, to which we subscribe, and confrontation. Our political adversaries prescribe a confrontational approach for the ANC. However we do not see them taking the same medicine in their organisations.

On the subject of the 'all-powerful presidency', it is difficult to identify which of parliament's powers have been usurped by the presidency. The presidency has and continues to function within the scope of its constitutionally designated responsibilities.

Parliament continues to function within the context of correcting the injustices of the past, to deepen peace and the culture of democracy and respect for human rights. It continues to work for the reconstruction of our country and Africa and the creation of a better world.

This does not mean there are no challenges or weaknesses in parliament. We entered the institution without experience. Those who knew better about the functioning of the institution dominated the proceedings.

Because we are a liberation movement, deployed comrades cannot take decisions on their feet, and this affects the turn-around time. We have consistently highlighted the weakness with respect to members' support.

Does the fact that ministers are also members of the National Assembly weaken or strengthen discussion? On this aspect, various models operate in different countries. We have chosen a particular route that we think is consistent with the historical evolution of our country.

People-driven change

The ANC's 2006 January 8th Statement reiterates the need for a people-driven process of change. The constitution enjoins parliament to facilitate public involvement.

Parliament manages its affairs through committees, and the committees report to the houses. Committees are structured and function to promote multi-party participatory democracy. By and large, the output of committees is good.

However, public participation in committees is impacted upon by the broader social and economic realities. Large sections of our communities are poor and live in underdeveloped areas, and a minority is well off and owns the means of livelihood. This determines which section can, in a sustainable way, consistently take part in committee public hearings and wield influence over the general course of events.

Fully realising the demand that 'the people shall govern' is a complex process that requires parliament to find creative ways to reach out to the people. While we still have some extensive ground to cover, work is being done. The adoption of the new vision and mission by parliament is a significant step in the right direction. Through this new vision, parliament aims to 'build an effective people's parliament that is responsive to the needs of the people and that is driven by the ideal of realising a better quality of life for all the people of South Africa'.

The constitution, in section 77, provides for the enactment of legislation to create a procedure for an amendment by parliament of money Bills. There is a view that the absence of this legislation makes it difficult for study groups to interrogate the budget. There is currently no way of contributing to the process of aligning allocations to make them finely consistent with the objectives of our programme of transformation and resolutions without rejecting the whole budget vote. Given its ramifications, this is not a realistic option.

Issues around the amendment of the budget need further engagement. However, within the context of our historical challenges, there is no doubt about the splendid and consistent work that parliament has done. The new challenges that are today assuming significance are a result of parliament having delivered on its previous tasks.

In debating the question of whether parliament is weak or not, we cannot allow ourselves to commit the mistake of elevating subjective weaknesses to the level of objective weaknesses. Our vision of parliament is correct, as is our ideological platform.

Our commitment to take the work of parliament to a higher level will inevitably require us to consider resource issues. For instance, as we debate the issue of amending the budget, so will the issue of whether committees have the requisite skills support to execute this function. What of our study groups? The importance of proper political management of ANC caucus as a motive force of transformation in the context of parliament as a site of struggle cannot be overemphasised. We need to strengthen the collective and inclusive approach to tasks.

In the light of the challenges, we need to pursue the idea of ensuring every Member of Parliament is provided with research and administrative support.

We also need to focus on retraining and upgrading the skills of the current human resource support.

Constituency offices need to be equipped and used as hubs to bridge the information technology and communication divide.

For its part, the ANC caucus also needs to continue the effort to strengthen the programme of political discussion. Our ability to make an effective contribution to the transformation effort depends on proper legislative interrogation and oversight rather than glorified posturing in the chamber.

The debate about the state and role of our parliament is most welcome.

Earlier this year parliament held a joint sitting to debate the report from the parliamentary process on the African Peer Review Mechanism. These debates provide a mirror and parliament should not be insulated from them.

We need to strengthen parliament's overall capacity to lift the quality of oversight and constituency work. This contribution to the national project should help to place our country on a higher trajectory, which will itself bring new challenges.

Mbulelo Goniwe is the ANC Chief Whip in the National Assembly. The views expressed in this document do not represent the views of the ANC Caucus.


The people shall share in the country's diamond wealth

The mineral wealth beneath the soil is the national heritage of all South Africans, and should be used to fulfil the socio-economic needs of the masses of our people, writes Nathi Mthethwa.

South Africa is well endowed in mineral wealth, but her children live in underdevelopment and poverty. This situation is what the diamonds legislation adopted by parliament in November 2005, in its own modest way, seeks to redress.

The ANC remains committed to the goal, proclaimed over 50 years ago, that the 'people shall share in the country's wealth'. Prophets of doom, like the Democratic Alliance, accused us of bringing in nationalisation through the backdoor. Nothing can be further from the truth. The industry is still owned and run privately. What the legislation seeks to do is to allow the majority of the people to share in this important national resource.

The ANC-led government, guided by the Freedom Charter, continues to advance policies and legislation that advocate social inclusion and social justice.

It is in this context that we passed the Diamonds Amendment Act and Diamonds Second Amendment Act.

At its National Consultative Conference in Morogoro, Tanzania in 1969, the ANC said: 'Today most of the wealth of South Africa is flowing into the coffers of a few in the country and others in foreign lands. In addition, the white minority as a group has over the years enjoyed a complete monopoly of economic rights, privileges and opportunities. An ANC government shall restore the wealth of our country, the heritage of all South Africans to the people as a whole. The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks, and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole.' The analysis at Morogoro was informed by the fleecing of the mineral resources and wealth of South Africa by the few. The diamond amendment legislation is a legislative tool intended to stop the fleecing of our mineral wealth and practicalise the ideals contained in the Freedom Charter.

This legislation seeks to revolutionise the South African mineral industry in terms of its outlook and operation. Consistent with the ideals contained in the Freedom Charter and the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), the diamond amendment legislation embraces accountability, transparency, economic growth, redistribution and job creation.

The day of the adoption by Parliament of the diamond amendment legislation, 1 November 2005, will go down in history as the day on which a 138-years old industry ceased to be an exclusive business terrain. The application of the legislation will ensure equitable access to rough diamonds for all role-players, and this will stimulate the development and growth of the local beneficiation industry. The legislation confirms the continued centrality of the Freedom Charter in informing our policy and legislative development.

This piece of legislation aims to unleash a potential that was deliberately suppressed to sustain the downstream jobs in centres like London and Antwerp. The development of the downstream sector of the diamond value chain in South Africa, as advocated by the legislation, has an immense economic potential, as it will stimulate business development in the diamond industry and related industries. The legislation seeks make strategic interventions in the following areas: * Socio-economic impact: The legislation aims to provide impetus to create jobs for the unemployed. This will reduce the number of unemployed people in general and unemployed women, youth and graduates in particular. During a visit to India, the ANC study group on minerals and energy noted the impact of beneficiation on employment creation. The Indian beneficiation industry employs millions of people. The development of the cutting and polishing industry in South Africa will play an immense role in job creation here.

* Skills development: Through this legislation there is a potential for the unemployed and the retrenched, particularly women and youth, to be re-skilled and trained to work in the cutting and polishing industry.

* Equitable wealth distribution: The subsidiary aim of the legislation is to spread wealth within the industry for the benefit of the masses, and to avoid unnecessary advantage by the existing diamond cartels, which have been dominating the industry since the discovery of diamonds in the country. The sightholding system that is utilised by some major industry players has denied many small and medium players access to rough diamonds, and has contributed negatively to development of beneficiation, fair trade and competition. The provisions in the legislation create conducive conditions for new entrants from historically disadvantaged backgrounds to gain access into the industry.

* Access to rough diamonds: The legislation caters for the establishment of the Diamond and Precious Metals Regulator to oversee implementation, administration and control of all matters relating to the purchase, sale, beneficiation, import and export of diamonds; and the establishment of the Diamond Exchange and Export Centres (DEECs). These will facilitate the buying, selling, export and import of diamonds. The regulator empowers the State Diamond Trader (SDT) to acquire and supply unpolished diamonds to local diamond beneficiators. The SDT will purchase a portion of rough diamonds based on the requirements of local beneficiators and sell them to local beneficiators at a fair market price. This is intended to stimulate the growth and development of small role-players, and it will enable those who did not have access, to freely access rough diamonds. This will also help to achieve broad-based black economic empowerment in the mining sector.

It will stimulate both competition and economic growth in the country for the benefit of all role players, both big and small. The SDT is also mandated to promote the industry through research, support and development.

As the ANC-led government, we envision a situation where we are going to have an 'Africa Mix' in the diamond industry as opposed to the current 'London Mix'. The 'London Mix' refers to the convergence of diamonds from various diamond producing countries in one centre in London.

Consistent with the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), diamond producers from Africa should integrate efforts to give effect to the vision of intracontinental trade and business development. Major producers of diamonds like Botswana, Angola, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo do not have a beneficiation industry. The diamond amendment legislation seeks to set a precedent on the continent and in the developing world.

As the ANC we believe that the mineral wealth beneath the soil is the national heritage of all South Africans. It should be used to fulfil the socio-economic needs of the masses of our people. This legislation is a vehicle for the realisation of the wishes of the masses, as contained in the Freedom Charter, that the people share in the wealth of the country.

Nathi Mthethwa is chairperson of ANC study group on minerals and energy.


The day the enemy struck us a blow

Remembering Joe Nzingo Gqabi

Twenty-five years after his assassination at the hands of the apartheid government, Joe Gqabi's legacy as a dedicated, disciplined and effective revolutionary leader continues, writes Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi.

Speaking at the funeral of Joe Nzingo Gqabi on 9 August 1981, former ANC President Oliver Tambo said: 'To say that the enemy has struck us a blow is to tell the truth. He is a positive loss because he is the type of leader who knew how to follow. He was the type of operative who yielded results. He was a leader who in his sector produced results. And it is the test of leadership to be able to produce intended results. Joe Gqabi passed this test with great distinction.' These words resonate through our minds as we remember Joe Gqabi.

It is twenty-five years since the assassination of Joe Gqabi in Ashdown Park, Harare on 31 July 1981. The South African revolution now, more than at any other time, needs the kind of leader that Oliver Tambo described Joe Gqabi to be - a leader that 'knew how to follow... an operative who yielded results... a leader who in his sector produced results'. He was also a leader who would never place the revolution and the democratic project at risk, a leader who was willing to pay the ultimate price in furthering the revolution and defending its gains.

Joe Gqabi touched the lives of many of people. In the words of Tambo: 'Joe Gqabi was capable of making friends across political and ideological barriers, across colour lines. He communicated with ease and effortlessly with all generations: young and old. That is why in the Pretoria Twelve trial one of the accused was 67 years old, another twenty. That was why he was the most effective organiser of the youth - he understood them and they understood him.'

Those who met him - as activists, members of the underground, in mass political formations, as members of the community, and others socially -have vivid recollections of their interaction with him. He could quite easily appear as just another 'peasant' if the situation required, as he pointed out that an underground operative should never attract undue attention to themselves. However, when the situation required he distinguished himself through his interaction with people.

Recent recollections by the Swedish Minister of International Development Cooperation, Carin JSmtin, of when she was a sixteen-year-old in Harare, as the daughter of a Swedish diplomat, bears testimony to the impact Gqabi made on old and young alike. She recalls discussions her father, Ula JSmtin, had with Joe Gqabi for hours on end debating the South African struggle. They provided him with 'safe accommodation' when he was warned of a direct threat on his life by the South African regime. This action was reflective of many who formed a support network to Joe Gqabi fully conscious of the risks associated with it. He was able to develop an extensive support network that would not only be for his personal benefit.

Joe Gqabi was a good and rigorous teacher. Those who were exposed to training in underground work under his tutelage would recollect that he emphasised the need for rigour in understanding and appreciating the political-military situation. He combined theoretical and practical training. He would allocate tasks starting with less complex ones to observe the results and allow for learning, then escalating these to more complex tasks. He allowed for time with people irrespective of their background as he believed that everyone could make a contribution.

Joe Gqabi was persuasive in recruiting people into the ANC and in mobilising others to support our struggle. He also taught perseverance. He had a love for the Marxist classics and he would spend hours studying, reading and re-reading the classics, specifically Lenin's 'What is to be done?', in preparation for meetings with internal operatives.

Joe Gqabi did not hesitate to express his impatience when he felt comrades were taking undue risks that could lead to their exposure, arrest or worse.

One such incident was when a young Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) cadre called 'Fury' was in some difficulty and came directly to the Angwa Street office of the ANC. He was exposed to the wrath of Gqabi, who physically lifted him off his feet and said: 'You know how to contact me. This place is under constant surveillance by the enemy and you are unnecessarily exposing yourself, which could lead to problems for yourself and the unit that you are part of.' He was particularly critical of mistakes by those who he believed, because of their maturity in theory and practice, should have the tools of analysis to assess a particular situation and handle its complexity.

He loved the music of the ANC's cultural ensemble 'Amandla'. On one occasion when he left Harare for Angola he had collected some money and bought guitar strings as it had come to his attention that they needed these. He enjoyed listening to the cassettes of 'Amandla' and Letta Mbulu and Caiphus Semenya as he drove his white Toyota Cressida in the streets of Harare. He had a great sense of humour and he loved life.

He loved his family very dearly and yet they never had the opportunity to spend sufficient time together. He believed that his commitment to the larger cause would ensure that all families, his family included, would eventually be able to live together in 'peace, security and comfort'. His untimely death came as a great blow to the ANC but especially to his wife Nomazothswa, daughter Nonkululeko and son Jomo. At that stage, he had one grandson, Tebogo. His grandsons will never have the opportunity to know their grandfather.

An extraordinary comrade On 6 June 1960 a group of amaMpondo community leaders and representatives met on Ngquza Hill between Bizana and Lusikisiki to discuss their grievances. Since the passing of the Bantu Authorities Act (Proclamation 180 of 1956) the people of the area had been trying to get the authorities to hear their grievances and had been holding meetings. In March 1960 these meetings had been banned, but the people continued to meet, and it was on that day at Ngquza Hill that the turning point came.

Between the green grass and blue winter skies, they discussed their concerns around the Bantu Authority and government interference within their communities. Suddenly two Harvard airplanes and a helicopter swept overhead and dropped teargas into the crowd. At this, men in the crowd tore off their white shirts and waved them in the air: they wanted peace. They did not get it - police vehicles roared up and what had been a peaceful and orderly meeting descended into chaos. Eleven people were killed, scores were beaten with sjamboks, arrested and sentenced to prison.

A government commission of inquiry into the incident reported that the complaints raised at the meeting were unjustified. The amaMpondo, of course, rejected this.

Deployed by the ANC to organise in the region was a man who had played a significant role in earlier campaigns, Joe Gqabi. Gqabi was born in Aliwal North during the depression. He was 20 years old when the National Party came to power in 1948. In 1950 he joined the ANC Youth League and the ANC.

The community embarked on a boycott in November 1960. The people avoided shopping in towns, and refused to pay taxes. They also boycotted the Native Recruiting Corporation. The campaign was highly organised, and a complex cell structure developed. Mass meetings were held, many of which ended in violent confrontations with the police. This was the Pondoland Revolt. The revolt ended with 30 members of the community being sent to the gallows for participating in this campaign against apartheid oppression.

Potato Boycott In an article in Sechaba in October 1982, Wolfie Kodesh describes how he was sitting in his office at New Age newspaper, when a gaunt man dressed in tattered clothing walked into his office.

The man told an horrific story of 'starvation and deaths from exhaustion and whippings on the farm; of work bent over from sunrise to sunset in long rows, picking up the potatoes, while behind them were sjambok-carrying 'baas boys' whipping anyone who straightened up through sheer exhaustion. All of the slave workers had been 'bought' at the detention centres for pass (offenders).

Kodesh, with his colleagues Ruth First and Joe Gqabi, immediately drove out to the farm and saw - as Gillian Slovo describes in her book, 'Every Secret Thing' - 'a vision straight from Hades: scarecrow men, shoeless and dressed in sacks, working with hoes along rows of potatoes while baas boys - black overseers - stood ready to lash at them with knobkerries.' Kodesh noticed mound in the fields which, he realised, were the same shape as those he had seen in Ethiopia during World War II - mounds formed by too-shallow graves, which when kicked revealed corpses. Later investigation would reveal that these were indeed corpses, though who was buried in the graves would never be discovered - by the time the graves were uncovered, only skeletons remained.

The photographs by Joe Gqabi and articles by Ruth First on the conditions on this and other farms triggered a sensation in the national press, and led the ANC to launch the historic potato boycott which resulted in stockpiling of potatoes across the cities of South Africa.

The Pondoland Revolt gave Gqabi an insight into the challenges facing the struggle for liberation. He was described as a militant cadre and became one of the first four ANC cadres to be sent to China for military training. The youngest of the four, he returned to South Africa in 1962 to become an active member of Umkhonto we Sizwe. On his return he immediately resumed his political activities and carried out several sabotage operations.

In 1963, as part of a group of twenty-eight who were to receive military training outside the country, Gqabi was arrested in what was then Southern Rhodesia. He was deported to South Africa and sentenced to 12 years on Robben Island.

He completed his sentence at a turning point in the struggle for liberation.

In 1975 he returned to Soweto. His imprisonment did not deter him from getting centrally involved in underground work. Many a youth activist at the time relates how they scaled the wall of his Soweto home to meet with him at night and confer on their organising. He was directly linked to many of the leaders and youth who played a role in the Soweto uprising.

In December 1976, he was arrested and was one of the twelve ANC cadres who stood trial in 1977, charged under the Terrorism Act. He, however, was so effective at operating underground that the state was unable to secure a conviction against him at what became known as the Pretoria Twelve trial.

Following his trial he escaped to Botswana where he continued to play a major role in organising and working with underground structures from the neighbouring states.

After the independence of Zimbabwe, Gqabi was appointed ANC representative there. In the short time he spent in Zimbabwe he made an impact in the diplomatic arena. Along with current ANC President Thabo Mbeki he played a crucial role in developing and cementing relations between the ANC and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). He retained his links with both the political and military underground structures.

The South African regime made several attempts on his life in 1981. An attempt in January 1981 involved attaching a bomb to his car at the ANC residence in Ashdown Park. In view of this attempt on his life, the ANC recalled Gqabi to Lusaka, Zambia. However, he insisted that he needed to return as he had just started his work in Zimbabwe. He increased his vigilance and avoided staying at the Ashdown Park house at night.

On 31 July 1981, Gqabi was murdered by operatives of the apartheid government outside the ANC residence in Ashdown Park. After Joe Gqabi's murder, the Citizen newspaper published an editorial alleging that Gqabi was killed as a result of an internal fight between factions within the ANC. One of self-admitted members of the death squad who assassinated Joe Gqabi, Gray Branfield, was killed in Iraq in April 2004.

Gqabi's entire adult life had been dedicated to the liberation of South Africa. The remains of Joe Gqabi were returned to South Africa in 2004, where they were re-interred at his birthplace, Aliwal North, on 16 December.

Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi is a member of the ANC National Executive Committee.


Big events have small beginnings

The roots of the great miners' strike of 1946

The 1946 black miners' strike, which took place 60 years ago this month, was an heroic confrontation between the most exploited worker in the country and the most powerful of employers allied to the state machine. In this extract from the South African Communist Party's 'A Distant Clap of Thunder', we explore the background and significance of the strike.

The beginning of the first real mass trade union for South Africa's black miners was a small event - so small that history records very little about it, save that the initiative came from a meeting of the African National Congress (ANC) Transvaal Executive in 1941. The records state that a proposal to sponsor the organisation of such a union was put, and carried.

Its proposers were Gaur Radebe, a well known trade unionist and public speaker, long time member of the ANC and a communist in the process of drifting out of the Party, and Edwin Mofutsanyana, a studious and intellectual figure, former mine clerk, and also a veteran ANC and Communist Party member.

History does not record the reason for the proposal at that precise time, or the views of Executive Committee members in the debate. The decision was scarcely in keeping with the ANC character of that time, an organisation with only a small membership, steeped in a tradition of quasi-parliamentary type politics, without a great impact on the national political scene, and certainly with little direct connection with working class or trade union affairs.

Perhaps it can be explained by a combination of two factors - the general political atmosphere of the times, and the internal politics of the ANC. It was wartime. Everywhere the rhetoric of 'freedom' and 'democratic rights' was being used to whip up support for the war; declarations by statesmen at home and abroad spoke of war aims of an undefined 'freedom from want' and 'freedom of opinion'; some of the heady atmosphere of hope and the anticipation of a better world acoming rubbed off, even in South Africa, remote though it was from the centre of the war and bitterly internally divided into pro and anti-war factions.

In that atmosphere of rising expectation, a new surge of life was rising in the ANC itself. A young generation, deeply committed to national liberation, had grown up under the leadership of Anton Lembede. That new generation -Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Duma Nokwe, Govan Mbeki and others - had burst their way into the leading ranks of the organisation, particularly in the Transvaal. It displaced an old generation which had failed to move with the new times and tides of feeling. On the Transvaal Executive of the ANC, the militants of the ANC youth league formed a natural working partnership with the militant veterans of an earlier period, particularly communists like Radebe, Moses Kotane, Mofutsanyana and JB Marks, who were already in the leadership ranks. Perhaps it was the natural consequence of such a partnership that the small decision was taken to sponsor a mineworkers' trade union.

There were two massive mountains to climb in building a mass union of black miners. The first lay in the nature of the miners themselves. These men, some 340,000 at the time, were not the stable urbanised workers with which the black trade unions of the time were familiar - men in regular jobs, living in urban townships with families and with deep roots in all the aspects of black urban life. These miners, on the contrary, were rural men, recruited from rural areas and reserves for a limited contract period of less than a year, and who returned to those rural areas and agricultural pursuits at the end of their contracts. Even those who came back to the mines for a second contract, did so on average only after some years away.

On the Witwatersrand, the black miners lived not as part of the black community, but a life apart, closely corralled within their compounds, with only the sleazy eating-house cum 'native store' complexes around the compounds as an alternative to compound life. They were, in the main, men who understood nothing of the cities, which lay like foreign territory well away from the mine shafts.

Building a miners trade union required the welding of this divided corps of men into a single united body, and to create that unity out of a group of whom perhaps one in every ten left each month for far-off places, to be replaced in turn by new recruits, totally without industrial experience, strangers in that strangest of worlds. It was like trying to build a solid structure on shifting sands.

The second mountain to be faced was the Transvaal Chamber of Mines, the employers' cartel. Here was concentrated the greatest single combine of economic, industrial and financial power in the country. Though nominally composed of a considerable number of different mining companies, it was in essence a closely knit and tiny cartel of a handful of distinct mining 'groups'; each of these groups managed and controlled a stable of subordinate companies through a heavily intertwined network of interlocked finances and share-holdings, and incestuous cross-relations through financial and technical exchanges and shared directorships.

It was said in South Africa - with good reason - that when the Chamber of Mines sneezed, the government caught cold. Though it no longer entered directly into the political seats of power - as its forerunners had done in the days of Cecil John Rhodes, Abe Bailey and others - it remained the grey eminence behind the government, the true economic power and the true arbiter of the nation's destiny. Some would call it a 'state within the state' and others 'the reality of state' with the government and administration representing the Chamber of Mines at politics.

The union emerges In the face of these formidable obstacles, the ANC pressed ahead. On 3 August 194l, 81 elected delegates of organisations met in Johannesburg; they came mainly from trade unions, Communist Party branches, and social and political organisations on the Witwatersrand. There were few miners present, and the few there were mainly surface workers and clerks - the men with longer experience of urban and industrial life who were outside the compound and repatriation procedures which applied rigorously to underground workers.

Some of these had been members of incipient trade unions that had been started in earlier years; some were members of the small African Mine Clerks Association, which still survived.

The conference set up a working committee to bring the union to a reality.

The committee included James Majoro, a leading member of the Mine Clerks Association; TW Thibedi, a founder and survivor of a 1936 attempt to build a union and the first black member of the Communist Party; JB Marks, a veteran member of both the ANC and the Communist Party; and Gaur Radebe.

The union grew painfully slowly. It needed to break through the barbed-wire curtain that cut the miners off from the world outside; it could do so only by means of painstaking contact with individuals and small groups of miners during their off-duty hours in the recreational areas around the compounds.

Meetings of more than a handful could only be held secretly. Organisers were harried and harassed by the private mining company police, who ran the mining properties with an ubiquitous authority without defined limits, almost like an army in occupation of foreign territory. Union contacts themselves, when identified or suspected, were victimised by having their contracts terminated and being deported back to the territories from whence they came. Secrecy and word of mouth were the main organising techniques.

And yet the union grew. By 1944 it could count its members in thousands, perhaps as much as four thousand - yet little enough in a sea of over 340,000.

It was war time. Social and economic conditions in the country were getting worse; everywhere there were steeply rising prices of goods in the shops, and growing shortages of commodities - especially some foodstuffs. Companies increased the pressure on their workers, intensifying the rate of exploitation, reducing rations, and allowing standards of services, recreation and welfare to fall. In the industrial world outside the closed encampment of the mines, workers' struggles against falling standards and rising costs had forced some government action. From 1943 automatic 'cost of living allowances' had become standard for all industrial workers, compensating them in part for rising shop prices. But agricultural workers and black miners had been excluded from the legislation, on the specious grounds that their cost of living was met by employers who provided their accommodation and rations. On the same specious reasoning, the Chamber of Mines refused to pay any such allowances even to those mine clerks who were not contracted labour. The bitterness of feeling among the clerks became a source of support and strength for the union.

The Union tried repeatedly to meet the Chamber of Mines to discuss its members' grievances. But the chamber, characteristically, had taken a policy decision to ignore the union's very existence. Letters from the Union went deliberately unanswered; attempts at intervention by go-betweens, such as the then existing Native Representatives in Parliament and the Senate, were given a brusque brush-off.

When the union turned to government for intervention, the response was much the same. Union demands for a Wage Board investigation into the industry -pressed on the government in Parliament - were just as summarily turned down, although the Wage Board had been set up by statute specifically for the purpose of making such investigations in industry, and of recommending minimum standards of wages and conditions.

Against the background of government and employers' resistance to any change, discontent built up on the mines and began to spill over in sporadic action. On several mines, disputes over treatment by mine officials and over food and conditions sparked off a growing wave of minor, unorganised strikes and stoppages; demonstrations in compounds and dining halls erupted into riots, with the vandalising or burning of kitchens and other mine buildings.

Police and company reprisals against the offenders failed to stem the tide of miners' anger. The pressure either had to be headed off, or an explosion on the Reef would almost certainly erupt.

The government chose to try and head it off. Probably on the initiative of the Chamber of Mines - though this was never admitted - the government announced the appointment of a commission of inquiry into the wages and conditions of the black miners. It was hoped that this would signal to the miners that their grievances were going to be remedied if only they would be patient and go quietly on with the work in the old conditions. By the time the commission reported it was thought the 'troublesome' generation of miners would have ended their contracts and been sent home; and a new, hopefully more tractable, group would be installed to replace them.

History and the mine workers' union frustrated those hopes. As soon as the appointment of the commission under the chairpersonship of Justice Landsdowne was announced, the union seized the opportunity it presented.

Meetings of miners were held up and down the Reef to tell the miners of the inquiry, and to ask them to collect and formulate grievances and demands which the union would take to the commission. As the idea spread, meetings of miners grew from small group affairs to mass gatherings at which the men 'spoke bitterness' - as the Chinese say of public denunciations of conditions of life. Every weekend in central Johannesburg, large gatherings of articulate miners from every Witwatersrand shaft gathered to give the union organisers the day-to-day detail of life and conditions of work on every part of the Reef. From these meetings came a massive, detailed and fully documented memorandum from the African Mine Workers' Union (AMWU) to the commission.

The miners unions turned the Lansdowne Commission on its head. What had been designed to be a full justification of the policy of the Chamber of Mines became instead a massive public denunciation. Against the chamber's claim of its inability to afford anything more than the existing rate of between 2 shillings/ld and 2 shillings/3d per shift, the union demanded a minimum wage of ten shillings (one rand) per day, and sweeping improvements in conditions generally, including paid holidays and overtime working, clothing and boot allowances, and improved feeding.

The demand for ten shillings a day minimum wage was treated by the chamber and its supportive national press and parliament as a fantastic and irresponsible dream. The men's wages, the chamber argued repeatedly, were really only part of the family income; the main part of that income was derived from family crop and livestock production in the reserves. The union challenge to the chamber thus had to deal not only with the conditions on the mines themselves, but also with the alleged farming incomes of the miners families in the reserves. Prompted by the union, other organisations and experts came forward to testify about the conditions of the people in the reserves; and a formidable body of health and social researchers exposed the reality of starvation and near-starvation in almost all areas; of soil erosion and falling productivity which had made the reserves net importers of food from outside; of large and growing numbers of totally landless families; and of alarming levels of malnutrition and infant mortality rates.

The Commission took a year to digest all its evidence. Its report, when finally issued, conceded much criticism of the industry, but little substance for the miners.

While government dithered and delayed its decisions, the union carried on with mass meetings of miners, telling them of the concessions already proposed by the commission, and organising them to carry the campaign for a minimum wage still further. Late in l944, the government made its decision.

The recommendations of the Lansdowne Commission would not be implemented. In place of the recommended improvements, only a small wage increase 'in lieu of all other recommendations' would be introduced, giving the princely rise of four pence per shift for surface workers and five pence for underground.

The bitterness on the mines grew worse.

The miners had reached a watershed. There was no further way forward through any process of conciliation, argument, debate or bargaining. They would have to go forward using the withdrawal of their labour as their weapon.

It was in this mood that the annual conference of the African Mine Workers' Union met in August 1944. There were 700 delegates from the mines, l,300 other miners without delegate credentials 'observing'; and a large turn-out of political leaders and trade unionists from other industries, plus the ANC President General, members of the Natives Representative Council, and chiefs from several areas from which miners were recruited. Delegates demanded strike action; the union leaders advised caution. The union leadership carried the day - but the miners remained angry and rebellious, and sporadic clashes and disturbances began all along the Reef.

On their part, the chamber and the government acted in concert to try and destroy the union. The chamber declared the mining areas no-go areas for the union, and advised compound managers that no union organising whatsoever was to be allowed on mining property, either during working hours or when the men were off duty; meetings were to be totally prohibited regardless of the size, and union activists singled out and repatriated regardless of any uncompleted contracts.

For its part, the government stepped in with a new War Measure, promulgated under special war emergency powers - Measure 1425 of August 1944 - which banned any gathering of any sort by more than twenty people anywhere along the 'proclaimed' mining area of the Witwatersrand.

By 1945 the Chamber of Mines felt confident enough to seize advantage of the food shortages developing in the country, and cut the already unacceptable level of rations in the mine canteens. In protest food demonstrations, riots and violent attacks on the mine kitchens began to flare up all along the Reef.

The following year, 1946, opened with the union general meeting in Johannesburg, with some 2,000 members present. They again drew up a list of demands - ten shillings a day minimum wage, family housing in place of compounds, long service gratuities, and the repeal of War Measure 1425. The tone was angry; again there were rank and file calls for strike action; again the Union leadership held back. Letters containing the demands were sent to the chamber. No response.

On 19 May the union called an open-air meeting at the Newtown Market Square, to report back to the miners what had - and what had not - happened to their demands. JB Marks took the chair and reported. Calls for strike action were made loud and clear by miners in the audience. Finally, a miner stepped up to the platform, and formally moved that a general strike be called on all mines. The proposal was put to the vote and carried almost without dissent.

No date was set. The union executive was to make one final attempt to meet the chamber. The Native Commissioner and the Director of Labour were both at the meeting, together with uniformed and plain clothes police.

On 4 August, again at the Market Square, a much larger audience of miners gathered to hear the executive's report. They had nothing to report, save that the chamber had blankly refused to speak to them or answer their letters. At once, from the audience, came a call for immediate strike action. This time a date was set - one week ahead, Monday, 12 August. Marks cautioned all present against provocateurs, and warned that violence would achieve none of their objectives. What was needed was unity, discipline and determination. All present were to go back to their mines and use the next week to prepare their fellow workers for a Monday morning stoppage throughout the industry.

There had never been an attempt at an organised industry-wide strike before.

There had never been such a frontal confrontation between the worst paid, compounded and contracted black workers and the most powerful bosses cartel with major influences in the state. It was a step into the unknown.

The great strike The union spent the week after the last mass meeting spreading the word about the strike to its contacts all along the Reef. It was a task far beyond the real capacity of the four or five union organisers. The shafts and compounds - all now policed, patrolled and wire-enclosed like concentration camps - were scattered along fifty miles of the Witwatersrand, generally in isolated areas of veld surrounded by a no man's land of unused scrubland, difficult to approach by road except along the company's own private roadways, inaccessible by passenger rail.

The word spread - but how far, and how many miners had heard nothing of the strike before it actually started has never been clear. The union office, which should have been a hub of activity during the week, was generally quiet, often deserted, as all hands left headquarters for the task in the field. By the end of the week of preparation, there was little real organised preparation for headquarters operations once the strike had started. The strike would stand or fall, finally, on the self-initiative and self-direction of the miners, concentrated in a multitude of separate and isolated compounds. The union would be less a general staff of the strike than a reporting centre and observation post.

The separation of union offices and officials from the closed world of the compound was to remain throughout the strike, despite many clandestine operations by which organisers penetrated the compounds, and made isolated contact. The separation grew more serious as union officials were arrested and locked up within the first few days of the strike. As a result, there has never been an 'official' account of the strike - of how the strike actually developed, written by anyone on the inside. The participants and strikers had an intimate knowledge only of that tiny segment in which they participated personally; none had an overall view, which could provide a comprehensive picture.

The atmosphere was not that of a labour dispute, as the term is understood elsewhere in the civilised world. It was rather that of a civil war; it was a war fought by police equipped like an army, with rifles and fixed bayonets; its operations conducted like military offensives against an enemy, ending in 'surrender' signified by raising of weaponless hands; the surrenders followed up by the 'rounding up' of stragglers in hiding.

How many were killed and injured in this war against the black miners has never been established. The figures are contradictorily reported, and have never been carefully investigated. On their part, the only seemingly hostile act reported of the miners are attempts to 'march on Johannesburg', with flesh-curdling stories of armaments, like choppers and iron bars, none of which have ever been alleged to have been used. Even the foreboding dread inspired by the lurid treatment of these 'marches' served only to obscure the reality admitted obliquely in some reports - that the marchers were on their way to the offices of the recruiting corporations who held their contracts, and thus held the apparent custody of their conditions and rights. Whether the marchers were for the purpose of negotiating on conditions, or to seek the ending of their contracts and their repatriation, has also never been made clear.

The total failure of the press to investigate deeply into anything connected with the strike reflected the total bias of their owners against the miners and all their demands.

By that Saturday the strike was over. It had been - by any reckoning - an heroic confrontation between the most exploited black workers in the country, and the most powerful of employers allied to the state machine. In the course of it, the miners had pioneered a course which would serve the whole working class in the future; they had forged and maintained an inter-tribal and international unity in the face of tremendous provocation; they had discovered for themselves new weapons of struggle, the sit down strike and the stay at-home; and the protest march to the seats of the power which controlled them. If in the end they were beaten back to work with none of their demands won, they had made one fact clear to the Chamber of Mines and government alike - a fact which they and their press still failed to take on board - that here, in the mines and compounds, there were men who had grown to the consciousness and organisational capacity of the most advanced sections of the country's working class - a real proletariat which had felt the strength of its muscle, and could never again be disregarded or contemptuously ignored.

The strike had been fought and lost. But much had been proved for the future. It had been a dramatic clap of thunder, which should have told South Africa that storms of a new kind lay ahead.

This is an edited extract from 'A Distant Clap of Thunder', published by the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1986.


Pioneers of modern South African literature

The intellectual legacy of Dr BW Vilakazi and Dr AC Jordan

In the centenary year of two of the country's foremost writers and intellectuals, Mandla Nkomfe examines the outstanding contributions of Dr BW Vilakazi and Dr AC Jordan.

This year marks the centenary of the birth of two of South Africa's foremost intellectuals. Dr Benedict Wallet Bambata Vilakazi and Dr Archibald Campbell Jordan were born in the same year - Vilakazi on 6 January 1906 and Jordan on 30 October 1906. Vilakazi passed away in 1947 and Jordan in 1968. Both left a huge intellectual legacy in the development of indigenous languages and earned themselves an important place in modern literature. They pushed the boundaries of the vernacular languages to express the complexities of African life.

Both used African settings and languages to engage and connect with modernity. They wrote first and foremost in their mother tongues and in some instances translated their works into other languages. Their writings transcended regional and national boundaries and appealed to a wider audience. In 2000, Prof Ali Mazrui initiated a programme of compiling Africa's top 100 books of the 20th century, including in the list Vilakazi's Amal'ezulu and Jordan's Ingqumbo ye Minyanya (The Wrath of Ancestors). The Department of Education has recently included Vilakazi's Amal'ezulu into the top 10 South African books.

They were the trailblazers for an approach to African literature that has been taken up by the likes of the esteemed Ngugi wa Thiongo. For more than a decade Thiongo has been writing in Kikuyu instead of English. Speaking at the fourth annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture in 2003, Ngugi wa Thiongo spoke about the contribution of BW Vilakazi and the Senegalese intellectual Cheikh Anta Diop: 'We must hearken to Diop and Vilakazi's call when they tell us to use our language as vehicles for thought, feeling and will. We must produce knowledge in African languages and then use translation as a means of conversation in and among African languages. We must translate from European and Asian languages into our own, for languages must not stay isolated from the mainstream of progressive human thought in the languages and cultures of the globe'.

Since the 1950s the state of writing in indigenous languages has been deteriorating in South Africa. Centuries of systematic exclusion and marginalisation of books written in our own languages by missionaries, colonisers and subsequent regimes of white rule have ensured the relative low status of indigenous languages. This is coupled with the fact that even writers of note have chosen to write in English. The reason being that English has a broader appeal. The resources that have been put into this area have historically been very minimal.

Dr BW Vilakazi's main works include three novels and poetry collections Inkondlo Ka Zulu and Amal'eZulu. He was inspired by Dr John Langalibalele Dube, who was the founder of the Ohlange Institute and the first ANC President. He was the first African person to teach at the University of the Witwatersrand. He was employed as a 'language assistant', but was in fact a lecturer - the race laws of the day did not permit him to be called a lecturer in a white institution. While teaching at Wits, he obtained a PhD in literature. Vilakazi immersed himself in poetry and literature in general. During his lifetime Vilakazi helped to develop isiZulu and siSwati in written form and helped develop the isiZulu dictionary.

Dr AC Jordan taught at the University of Fort Hare and later the University of Cape Town (UCT). He subsequently left the country on an exit permit to the United States. He was involved in a number of organisations particularly in the teaching fraternity. These included the Orange Free State African Teachers' Association and Cape African Teacher's Association. He became involved in the politics of the time. Thus he was a member of Non-European Unity Movement. He was also a founder member of the Society of Young Africa.

His most famous work is Ingqumbo ye Minyanya (The Wrath of the Ancestors) published in 1940. He later translated the book from isiXhosa into English.

Another important work was Toward an African Literature, published in 1973.

In this collection of essays Jordan demonstrates his profound ability for literary criticism. Reflecting on the issue of writing in vernacular, Mark Sanders said: 'Among intellectuals of the left, AC Jordan is exceptional for his times. While other left literary and cultural critics, such as Ezekiel Mphahlele who rejected Negritude, would associate ethnic self-affirmation with Bantustans, Jordan insisted on the resources of vernacular structures of feeling. Bifurcating along linguistic lines, his own work reflected this commitment. Like contemporary Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiongo, Jordan produced criticism in English, but wrote novels in the vernacular.' The 1940s were a period of intense nationalist revival in our political landscape. This movement was led by Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ashby Mda and Anton Lembede. In the same vein the literary scene was exciting and robust. Writers and poets penned their works in mother tongue and in English. Vilakazi and Jordan were part of this New African Movement. They contributed immensely to the development of African literature using isiZulu and isiXhosa in particular. The existence of modern Zulu and Xhosa literature can broadly be attributed to the contributions of Vilakazi and Jordan. They were both following in the footsteps of Thomas Mofolo and Sol Plaatje. Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi, a national poet of note, known as Imbongi Yakwa Gompo (The Poet of Gompo), inspired a generation of writers and poets, among whom were Vilakazi and Jordan. They regarded Mqhayi as the literary bridgehead between tradition and modernity.

At the heart of their endeavours was the attempt to assert and promote African languages as having adequate structures and possibilities for rigorous literary work. For them it was not the issue of translating from English to African languages but vice versa. In the seminal debate with HIE Dlomo that took place in the pages of the journals Bantu Studies and The South African Outlook between June 1938 and July 1939, Vilakazi argued thus: 'By Bantu drama, I mean a drama written by a Bantu, for the Bantu, in a Bantu language. I do not class English or Afrikaans dramas on Bantu themes, whether these are written by Black people, I do not call them contributions to Bantu Literature... I have an unshaken belief in the possibilities of Bantu languages and their literature, provided the Bantu writers themselves can learn to love their languages and use them as vehicles for thought, feeling and will. After all, the belief, resulting in literature, is a demonstration of a people's 'self' where they cry: 'Ego sum quod sum'. That is our pride in being black, and we cannot change creation.' Vilakazi and Jordan were leaders of the modern African literary thought. The legacies of Vilakazi and Jordan consist of having initiated a debate among writers on the continent about the wisdom of writing in vernacular, thus subverting the language of the Empire. This debate inspired writers such as Ngugi wa Thiongo and Mazisi Kunene about the possibilities of African languages.

The debate on the choice of which language each writer uses as a medium of writing continues to this day among writers in our country and the continent. There are those who reject the idea of writing in the language of the Empire and those who prefer to use English or French as a means of wider communication. The choice on whether to write in a foreign or indigenous language has been classified as a choice between a 'language of wider communication' and a 'language of narrower communication'. Many writers in our country and the continent have chosen to write in the language of wider communication.

This commitment to the 'language of wider communication' is best expressed by Njabulo Ndebele when responding to a question about poetry writing. He said: 'Yes, when I started writing, I wrote poetry in Zulu. The very first poem I ever read was of Zulu poet, BW Vilakazi, whose work we were studying in high school at the time. This demonstrates very clearly that had the Zulu language been stronger than English as a language of education, of conversation on the school premises, of law and commerce I would have probably continued to write in Zulu without being aware of making a choice, but then the rest of the syllabus was taught in English. There were more books available in English than in Zulu. So I read more and more in English, reading the poetry of Wordsworth, Keats, Browning, Hardy, Hopkins, Elliot, Pound, Auden, and Dylan Thomas. Many of these I read beyond the normal syllabus. I found myself writing in English.' Since the advent of democracy, the South African government has gone a long way to affirm indigenous languages. The award of the title of National Poet Laureate to Mazisi Kunene by the Department of Arts and Culture signifies our commitment to the development of indigenous languages. Kunene has broken the glass ceiling the world over, purely on the strength of his uncompromising stance on telling South African stories in Zulu. His works have been translated from Zulu to other languages.

The department is establishing a project together with Skotaville Media that focuses on publishing emerging writers in all languages and across genres.

The aim is to promote the craft of writing, particularly in indigenous languages. The Department of Education has also put resources aside to help develop our indigenous languages.

Current and aspirant writers must dig deep into the works of both Vilakazi and Jordan to understand the foundations and genesis of modern South African literature. Their combined and individual contributions to language development, literary theory and literary criticism are immense.

Mandla Nkomfe is the ANC Gauteng Deputy Provincial Secretary and a member of the Umrabulo editorial collective.


Governing the world trade system

The development of the World Trade Organisation provides valuable lessons about the challenges of achieving effective multilateral governance in those areas that most affect the development of the peoples of the world, writes Alec Erwin.

An important part of the ANC's international policy programme is the concept of multilateral institutions or, more generally, multilateralism. These are institutions responsible for governance, regulation or political processes that involve all or most sovereign states. This simple starting point hides many more complex issues and raises fundamental questions as to how humanity should conduct its affairs. The hard realities of trade also put the noble aspirations of solidarity to a severe test. Two developments over the last few centuries have brought these large issues sharply into focus.

Firstly, as the human species has grown in number it has transformed the physical world and its environment. An inevitable consequence of this is that more and more decisions have to be taken by humanity as a global collective as opposed to individuals, groups or nations. Secondly, however, over this same period humans have increasingly governed themselves within new geographic and political entities - the nation state. The power, capacity and size of these nation states vary widely and only in the last few decades has formal independent national sovereignty pertained to the majority of world states.

So when we talk about multilateral institutions we are predominantly talking about very unequally-endowed nation states coming together and trying to make a decision - preferably a decision that is in the best interests of all. The achievement of decisions and actions in the best interests of all is exceptionally difficult.

The process of human political decision-making is complex and has changed continuously. The idea of a democratic dispensation where all citizens are able to influence decisions through a process of voting is a relatively new one in the nation state. Should such egalitarian concepts also be translated into decision making in multilateral institutions and if so, how?

The World Trade System The inequalities in the world trade system are massive. So how do we establish a governance of that system that is fair to all? For most of the history of trade in the world it has been associated with military and political power. There is a very close link between the ability to control trade and the formation of states and empires. Ancient and massive trade routes, such as the Great Silk Road stretching across the entire east-west axis of Eurasia, were tightly controlled and that control was endlessly contested. The political entity we refer to as Mapungubwe, in the north-west of present day South Africa, linked Namibia to China as they traded gold and jackal skins for glass and porcelain a thousand years ago. The purpose of controlling trade was to benefit from it, usually in the form of taxes, but also from the building of large trading cities and access to a wide range of products. The benefits of trade to a state and an economy have always been very clear.

However, the idea of some form of governance for the world trade system based on agreement and not power alone is more recent. Two differing approaches to trade tend to surface when a country faces economic problems.

The one is essentially defensive and tries to defend domestic production and control trade to the benefit of the national producers. This was the predominant response of the emerging European nation states. This approach is usually referred to as mercantilism and is closely associated with the power to enforce the nation's economic will. The second is usually associated with economic strength and the possession of large merchant navy fleets, domination of the great land trade routes or being strategically located on such trade routes. This approach styles itself the 'free trade' approach. It favours trade by all knowing that a particular national interest will in all likelihood dominate that 'free trade'. It is easy to see why Singapore and Hong Kong are passionate free traders with their giant ports providing access to so many countries.

Even today these two approaches sweep back and forth across the world in time and place. Trade is a powerful economic force and continues no matter what. Differing resource endowments and the ubiquitous ingenuity of the traders as they search for and make profits compel and lure both the most reluctant and the most supportive of national economies into the world trading system.

By the twentieth century a number of contesting economies emerged that were open to the idea of 'free trade' and were big enough to do damage to other economies by reverting to mercantilism. This caused a serious reevaluation of the benefits of a 'free for all' in the world trade system. This realisation led to action after the First World War. Before exploring this development and its evolution into the World Trade Organisation we need to dig a little deeper into the idea of a world trade system.

The reason we usually talk of a trade system is interesting. Trade facilitation is an aspect of trade that does not get all that much media attention but is very fundamental to the trading system. This includes the basic factors that speed up trade and make the process of exchange more reliable and easier to effect.

We just have to think of very basic issues such as a common measure for the weight of corn, or gold or saffron. Do we measure it by mass or its volume? Who says the scales are accurate or the baskets of the same volume or the gold of the same purity. Will the transaction be a swap of glass for jackal skin or will money be used and, if money, whose money do we recognise and are we sure it is gold and not maybe bronze. How will we pay taxes on trade - nowadays mostly referred to as tariffs? These are all very basic but absolutely critical in facilitating trade. In the modern world should each country not try and standardise the custom documentation used? Even better could we not use the internet to report our trade and pay tariffs? These are the hard and only too concrete matters that underpin the ability to trade and form the trade system. Even more complex is how we prevent the spread of disease or toxins or environmental raiders from moving with trade - the phyto-sanitary regulations? All these questions highlight why trade will compel nation states and traders to talk to each other and try reach agreement on these matters.

Those Khans on the Silk Road that had stable currency and gave the best protection to the trading caravans traversing their lands became the most powerful kingdoms. So it is no wonder that even now the powerful economies and trading nations will try shape this negotiation to their benefit since they dominate trade. Trade and agreements - be they written or by practice -are inseparable.

Emergence of the WTO The real momentum toward some form of global or multilateral system emerged after the First World War in the form of a family of agreements being brought together under the umbrella of a General Agreement of Trade and Tariffs (GATT). This was, however, essentially an agreement between the major economies, most of whom were colonial powers. Nonetheless a new concept of some form of equality of treatment emerged and became to be known as the most favoured nation (MFN) principle - which was that all nations should be treated in the same manner as your most favoured trading partner.

While in its implementation this principle was fraught with practical obstacles (the free trade versus mercantilism debate) it was a real breakthrough on which much was to be built. There are three exceptions to the MFN principle. These are free trade agreements (FTA), regional economic agreements (such as in SADC), and special and general programmes to help developing countries (called general systems of preference. A country either applies MFN or it enters some form of free trade or preference agreement.

In the mid-1960s the newly independent nation states began to express their grievances with the world trade system. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was convened and was to continue as a permanent organisation to this day. It attempted to mobilise and support the developing countries in their fight for a fairer and more balanced trade system. Changes in the GATT were effected through a gigantic negotiation -probably the world's largest and most complex - called a round. Negotiators are now stalled in the Doha Round.

The emergence of the developing countries as more active players in the world trade system and the severe problems experienced in the global trade and financial systems from the late 1960s to the early 1980s contributed to a willingness to find more predictable rules for the trade system. Some ten years or so of negotiation followed. What was important about these negotiations was that they set a new objective and that was to establish rules that would be binding on members of a new World Trade Organisation (WTO). This was a path breaking endeavour in the world of global trade. An agreement was finally reached and signed by the parties in Marrakech in April 1994. Kader Asmal represented the ANC and accompanied the formal South African delegate.

This agreement is massive in its scope and intricacy. We will only touch on some of the salient features that are particularly relevant for the issues of multilateral governance and international solidarity.

The first is the interesting structure of the WTO. All member states are equal. The agreements have to be incorporated into national law in certain respects. But decisions are not taken by a vote. A small country could conceivably block much larger and more powerful states from getting their way. Yet many economies, let us say the developing economies that are in the majority, cannot force the large and powerful economies to do something they refuse to do. This is a delicate balance. We have to think through what the implications are of many economies forcing a nation state to do something that may seriously damage its economy and the well-being of its people. It is well and good to do something in the context of the WTO but who will assist an economy if that action has negative consequences. The WTO explicitly excludes such a mandate and the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (two large and interventionist multilateral institutions) are not sufficiently aligned with the WTO. In fact, their actions are sometimes directly contrary to the WTO agreements. So no sensible country would trust its economic fate to the voting patterns of the WTO if they were to exist.

In short the WTO is an advance toward some form of democratic governance but the advance shows how much more needs to be done for multilateral governance of the global economy becomes just that.

This delicate balance between formal equality of power bestowing certain 'blocking capacity' and the realities of economic inequality are starkly shown up in the question of agriculture. Here Europe, the USA, Japan and a collection of smaller agricultural exporters such as Norway and Korea were able to prevent agriculture's incorporation into the basic architecture of the WTO. Basically the WTO tries to stabilise the world trade system in a number of ways. The key ones are to remove the key pillars of mercantilism, namely high tariffs, subsidisation of traded products and complex and different systems of trade facilitation. The WTO agreements mainly deal with how these matters are implemented in practice. However, agriculture was excluded from these basic principles in that subsidies could remain and there was no reduction in tariffs. The intention in 1994 was to enter negotiations on these issues in 1999. We are now in 2006 and progress has been minimal.

This brief outline of the WTO should illustrate a few very fundamental challenges facing the multilateral system. How do we get a fair decision making system? In an area like trade it is not as simple as being subjected to majority decisions. But if we resort to consensus, as in the WTO, then a really problematic structure - agricultural subsidies in developed countries - can remain an obstacle to development for many decades. However, despite these problems there is no doubt that a system of multilateral rules is far better than the application of power. Smaller and weaker economies would no doubt be in an even worse position now if they did not have the protection provided by the rules.

It is for these reasons that the ANC remains so committed to a multilateral approach - whether this is in the reform of the United Nations or how we deal with nuclear energy in Iran - it is the path to human solidarity and wiser and fairer governance of our global economy.

Alec Erwin is a member of the ANC National Executive Committee, Minister of Public Enterprises and a former Minister of Trade of Industry.


A balance of rights and obligations

Understanding the issue of nuclear energy in Iran

In responding to recent developments around the Iranian nuclear programme, it is important for all parties to exercise maximum restraint and work for a sustainable and peaceful resolution to this matter through dialogue and negotiations, writes Aziz Pahad.

On 6 June 2006, an offer for a long-term agreement was made to the Islamic Republic of Iran by a group of six countries - the so-called EU3 (France, Germany and the United Kingdom) together with China, the Russian Federation and the United States of America. The details of this offer were not made public and, at the time of publication, Iran was still to officially react to it. According to unverified information, the offer contained a number of economic incentives in return for a renewed suspension of uranium enrichment-related activities by Iran.

Whatever the outcome of the latest offer and Iran's possible reaction, the current impasse over the Iranian nuclear programme has brought to the fore a significant dilemma for the non-proliferation regime in general, but even more so for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which remains the foundation of the regime. This dilemma has been brought about primarily due to the unequal implementation of the delicately balanced rights and obligations contained in the NPT itself.

Iran is one of the original signatories and became a State Party to the NPT on 2 February 1970. Any consideration of the current debate surrounding Iran's nuclear programme needs to take into account the international legal regime established under the provisions of the NPT and trends that have emerged during the past few years that threaten the continued credibility of one of the world's most widely-recognised multilateral instruments.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty The NPT contains a number of carefully-balanced, inter-linked, legally-binding rights and obligations under its three main pillars: * Nuclear non-proliferation: The treaty seeks to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Article I requires each nuclear-weapon state (NWS) party to the treaty not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon state to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, or control over such weapons or explosive devices. Article II requires each non-nuclear-weapon state (NNWS) party to the treaty not to receive the transfer of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and not to seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Article III of the treaty requires all non-nuclear-weapon states to accept safeguards by concluding with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) an agreement with a view to preventing the diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Significantly, Article III (3) states that the safeguards required by this article shall be implemented in a manner designed to comply with Article IV of the treaty, and to avoid hampering the economic or technological development of the parties or international cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear activities, including the international exchange of nuclear material and equipment for the processing, use or production of nuclear material for peaceful purposes.

Thus, a fundamental bargain contained in the treaty relates to the rights and obligations of the non-nuclear weapon states, namely that these states forfeit the right to develop nuclear weapons in return for the 'inalienable right' to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The other part of the bargain is the explicit undertaking by the nuclear weapon states towards nuclear disarmament and the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Few States doubt the inherent discriminatory nature of the treaty, which created two distinct groups - the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. Article IX defines the 'haves' as those that had manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967 - the so-called NWS. The rest it treats as NNWS - the 'have-nots' - all those who had not developed or tested such devices before the cut-off date. While some argued strongly for the indefinite extension of the treaty, others questioned the rationale for perpetuating an inherently discriminatory instrument.

The eventual 1995 decision on the indefinite extension of the NPT was made possible by agreements on the Strengthening of the Review Process for the treaty and a set of Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

In 1995, the NPT states parties agreed on four nuclear disarmament measures as an integral part of the Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. These entailed agreements:

In 2000, the NPT State Parties also agreed to thirteen practical steps for nuclear disarmament that included an 'unequivocal' undertaking by the nuclear-weapon states.

It was therefore expected that the 2005 Review Conference would assess the progress or the lack thereof by the NPT States Parties in meeting the 1995 and 2000 obligations, commitments and undertakings. There has been limited, if not minimal, progress. In some areas there was in fact a reversal of these undertakings, particularly in the area of nuclear disarmament. A central challenge for the 2005 Review Conference, therefore, was to balance the dissatisfaction at the lack of progress and reversals on the agreed nuclear disarmament measures with non-proliferation concerns that have been exacerbated by the role of non-state actors.

What, in fact, materialised at the 2005 Review Conference were attempts by some to reinterpret, negate or withdraw from treaty obligations, commitments and undertakings, including those made in 1995 and 2000. In addition, a number of proposals were made to impose restrictions on the inalienable right to utilise nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. These proposals included a cap on the development of new enrichment and reprocessing facilities. South Africa warned against such an approach, arguing that it may be laying the foundation for undermining the entire package of bargains that make up the NPT.

While some concerns have been raised about the implementation of nuclear non-proliferation obligations, commitments and undertakings by NNWS State Parties, the treaty's non-proliferation obligations are largely being successfully expanded and implemented. However, there is a growing concern that while demands are being made for NNWS to agree to new measures in the name of non-proliferation, concrete actions towards nuclear disarmament are neglected. These concerns are exacerbated by the actions and signals from NWS Parties that reinterpret, negate or withdraw from elements of their treaty's obligations, commitments and undertakings. Such actions disturb the balance of the NPT bargains - a '...balance of mutual obligations of the nuclear and non-nuclear Powers', which was the core principle envisaged for the NPT in the 1965 United Nations mandate for negotiations on the treaty.

Iran's nuclear programme As a NNWS State Party to the NPT, Iran has undertaken not to develop nuclear weapons. But in return, the treaty provides an 'inalienable' right to Iran to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. This right includes the right to develop domestic nuclear fuel cycle capabilities for exclusively peaceful purposes.

Since 1974, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been implementing NPT safeguards in Iran, in accordance with its obligations under Article III of the treaty. However, in March 2003, the agency reported that Iran had failed in a number of instances over a period of 18 years to meet its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement with respect to the reporting of nuclear material, its processing and use, as well as the declaration of facilities where such material had been processed and stored.

Since the initial report to the IAEA Board of Governors on this matter, the IAEA Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, has submitted various written reports on developments related to the implementation of safeguards in Iran.

In these reports, the agency confirmed that Iran had taken a number of corrective actions. As a result of these corrective actions and other activities, the agency was able, by November 2004, to confirm certain aspects of Iran's declarations related to conversion activities and laser enrichment, which the agency has since been following up as matters of routine safeguards implementation under the Safeguards Agreement.

While some safeguards issues require further clarification, there are still two important outstanding issues relevant to the agency's efforts to provide assurance that there is no undeclared nuclear material and that there are no undeclared enrichment activities in Iran. These are: the origin of LEU and HEU particle contamination found at various locations in Iran; and the extent of Iran's efforts to import, manufacture and use centrifuges of both the P-1 and P-2 designs.

In various resolutions since 2003, the IAEA Board of Governors has called on Iran to adopt a number of voluntary confidence-building measures to restore the necessary confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme.

These included the suspension of Iran's enrichment-related activities; the suspension of the construction of a Heavy Water Reactor and the suspension of conversion activities; as well as the signing of an Additional Protocol and its provisional implementation pending its ratification by the Iranian Parliament.

It should be noted that from a legal perspective, Iran is only under obligation, as State Party to the NPT, to implement its NPT Safeguards Agreement with the Agency. Voluntary confidence-building measures do not and cannot constitute legal obligations and the non-implementation of such measures cannot be regarded as a breach of any legal obligations under the NPT.

On 15 November 2004, the United Kingdom, France and Germany (who comprise the so-called EU3) concluded the Paris Agreement with Iran, in which Iran agreed in principle to maintain its suspension in exchange for a comprehensive EU economic package proposal which would include assistance for Iran's civilian nuclear programme and address the issue of Iran's security, support the establishment of a regional (Middle East) nuclear-weapon-free zone and provide 'objective guarantees' about the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme. During 2005, Iran provided the EU3 with a document containing elements that it would have liked to see reflected in a comprehensive package proposal. The EU rejected this and undertook to provide Iran with its own proposal. When the EU3 submitted a proposal to Iran on 5 August 2005, Iran was required to make a binding commitment not to pursue fuel cycle activities and to stop construction of its Heavy Water Research Reactor at Arak. Some analysts also viewed the EU economic package framework as weak on substance. Iran rejected the EU proposal saying that it negated its 'inalienable right' to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy as provided for under the NPT.

At its meeting in September 2005, following the rejection by Iran of the EU3 proposal, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution proposed by the EU, which found Iran to have been in 'non-compliance' with its Safeguards Agreement. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 22 in favour, 1 against and 12 abstentions. South Africa together with Russia, China, Brazil and Mexico, as well as a number of members of the Non-Aligned Movement, abstained on the resolution. Venezuela voted against. It should be noted that under the agency's statute, a finding of 'non-compliance' requires the board to report the matter to the UN Security Council and the General Assembly. The resolution furthermore determined that the Iranian nuclear programme constitutes a 'threat to international peace and security', a matter that falls within the mandate of the UN Security Council.

Accordingly, the resolution decided to report Iran to the UN Security Council, but made no determination as to the timing and content of such a report, which would be determined by the board. Significantly, the September 2005 resolution was the first board resolution that was not adopted by consensus.

Following the board's decision, Iran warned that any referral to the UN Security Council would lead to a suspension of the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol by Iran, which would substantially diminish the extensive inspection powers of the agency.

Developments since January 2006 On 10 January 2006, the IAEA informed the Board of Governors that Iran had started, in the presence of IAEA inspectors, to remove the seals installed at Natanz, Pars Trash and Farayand Technique. The seals affected were some of those that were placed on equipment and material following Iran's voluntary suspension of enrichment-related activities. Iran also conveyed to the Agency that '[d]uring this R&D [research and development], UF6 gas would be fed into these cascades for research purposes' and that, '[t]his R&D, which may include manufacturing of a limited number of new components, is currently planned only for P-1 centrifuges'. Following Iran's resumption on 9 January 2006 of enrichment-related research and development activities, the EU foreign ministers met in Brussels on 12 January 2006 and decided to call for an emergency session of the Board.

On 4 February 2006, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted another resolution on Iran. This was the second resolution that was not adopted by consensus.

Twenty-seven countries voted in favour, three against (Cuba, Syria and Venezuela), and five abstained (Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya and South Africa).

The resolution outlined the steps that Iran needs to undertake to re-establish confidence in its peaceful use of nuclear energy, and requested the IAEA Director General to report these steps to the UN Security Council together with all the IAEA reports and board resolutions on Iran. The Director General was also requested to report on the implementation of this resolution to the next regular session of the board in March, and immediately thereafter to convey that report with any resolution from the board to the Security Council. In practice, this resolution meant that the Iranian nuclear 'dossier' would be forwarded to the Security Council for possible action. Although the 24 September 2005 board resolution decided to report Iran to the UN Security Council, it decided that 'the Board will address the timing and content of the report'.

The 4 February 2006 board resolution made no decision regarding the 'content and timing of the report', but requested the IAEA Director General to report to the UN Security Council on the steps that Iran needs to take, together with all the adopted IAEA reports and resolutions on Iran. It also decided that the Director General's report to the March 2006 board meeting should be sent to the UN Security Council.

South Africa stated at the board meeting that in the absence of a definitive assessment by the IAEA of the implementation by Iran of its NPT Safeguards Agreement, the Board of Governors could not consider referring reports to the Security Council and General Assembly. South Africa also noted that the best approach would have been for the board to adopt decisions by consensus that would reinforce the work of the IAEA, and create a climate conducive to resolving the outstanding issues pertaining to Iran's peaceful nuclear programme.

On 5 February 2006, as a consequence of the board's reporting of the matter to the UN Security Council, Iran notified the IAEA of its decision, in accordance with legislation adopted earlier by the Iranian Parliament, to suspend all voluntary confidence-building measures. Iran undertook, however, to continue to implement its legal obligations stemming from the NPT, including the implementation of its Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. In practical terms, this decision resulted in a substantial reduction in the number of agency inspectors on the ground in Iran and an end to snap inspections to any facility.

The report by the IAEA Director General issued for the March 2006 board meeting confirmed that all the declared nuclear material in Iran had been accounted for and that the Agency had not as yet found any evidence of the diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. However, the agency also confirmed that it was not yet able to conclude that there were no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran. At its March 2006 session, the board discussed the report without any resolution being considered. The chair of the board issued a chair's conclusion that reflected the discussion by the board and requested the Director General to submit his report to the UN Security Council.

Following the March board meeting, the Security Council adopted a statement in which it noted with 'serious concern' Iran's resumption of uranium enrichment-related activities and its 'suspension of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)'. In this context, the Security Council underlined the importance of re-establishing full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development. According to the statement, the council expressed the conviction that such suspension, and full, verified compliance with the requirements set out by the IAEA Board of Governors, would contribute to a diplomatic, negotiated solution that would guarantee Iran's nuclear programme was for exclusively peaceful purposes.

The council noted with serious concern that the IAEA Director General's report of 27 February 2006 listed a number of outstanding issues, 'including topics which could have a military nuclear dimension', and that the agency was unable to conclude that there were no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran. It called upon Iran to take the essential steps required by the IAEA Board of Governors to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful purpose of its nuclear programme and to resolve outstanding questions. The council also requested the Director-General submit to the Board of Governors and to itself, within 30 days, a report on Iranian compliance with the steps required by the board.

On 28 April 2006, the IAEA Director General submitted a report to the IAEA Board and the UN Security Council, as requested by the Security Council in its statement on 29 March 2006. The report again confirmed that all nuclear material declared by Iran to the agency had been accounted for. Furthermore, the report stated that apart from the small quantities previously reported to the board, the agency had found no other undeclared nuclear material in Iran. However, the Director General also reported that gaps remain in the agency's knowledge with respect to the scope and content of Iran's centrifuge programme. Because of this, and other gaps in the agency's knowledge, including the role of the military in Iran's nuclear programme, the agency was unable to make progress in its efforts to provide assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.

With regard to the existing gaps, the report stated that any progress requires full transparency and active cooperation by Iran - transparency that goes beyond the measures prescribed in the Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol - if the agency is to be able to understand fully the twenty years of undeclared nuclear activities by Iran.

While the report noted that Iran continues to facilitate the implementation of the Safeguards Agreement, it stated that additional transparency measures, including access to documentation, dual use equipment and relevant individuals, are needed for the agency to be able to verify the scope and nature of Iran's enrichment programme. However, the report also recognised that while the results of agency safeguards activities may influence the nature and scope of the confidence building measures that the board requests Iran to take, it is important to note that safeguards obligations and confidence building measures are different, distinct and not interchangeable.

Importantly, the report emphasised that the agency's safeguards judgements and conclusions are based on verifiable information available to the agency, and are therefore, of necessity, limited to past and present nuclear activities. The agency cannot make a judgement about, or reach a conclusion on, future compliance or intentions.

On 8 June 2006, the IAEA Director General submitted a further report to the Board. The report states that there has been no further progress on the resolution of the contamination issue. The report reiterates that a full understanding of the scope and chronology of Iran's centrifuge enrichment programme, as well as full implementation of the Additional Protocol, are necessary for the agency to be able to provide credible assurances regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.

According to the report, the agency is carrying out investigations, with the assistance of some member states, on information and documentation that may have been provided to Iran by foreign intermediaries. The report further states that to understand the full scope of the offers made by the intermediaries to Iran, it is still necessary for the agency to have a copy of the 15-page document describing the procedures for the reduction of UF6 to uranium metal and the casting and machining of enriched and depleted uranium metal into hemispheres. According to the report, Iran has yet to provide the agency with a copy of that document.

The report confirms that the enrichment process and product at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP), including the feed and withdrawal stations, are covered by agency containment and surveillance measures. According to the report, Iran has thus far declined to discuss the implementation of remote monitoring at the PFEP, which is an important verification measure in certain enrichment facilities.

With reference to the environmental samples taken from some equipment at a technical university in January 2006, the report states that an analysis of those samples showed a small number of particles of natural and highly enriched uranium. On 16 May 2006, Iran responded to the agency's requests for clarification stating, inter alia, that the equipment had not been acquired for or used in the field of nuclear activities. Iran indicated that it was, however, investigating how such particles might have been found in the equipment.

According to the report, Iran has not yet responded to the agency's requests for clarifications concerning, and access to carry out environmental sampling of, other equipment and materials related to the Physics Research Centre (PHRC). Iran has also not provided the agency access to interview the other former head of the PHRC.

South Africa's principled positions South Africa has consistently called on Iran to clarify all outstanding safeguards issues and questions raised by the IAEA in the various reports of the Director General. South Africa believes that the Iranian nuclear issue can only be resolved peacefully and in a sustainable way within the framework of the IAEA, that remains the only internationally-recognised credible authority responsible for the implementation and verification of safeguards agreements.

South Africa has consistently reiterated the basic and inalienable right of all States to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes in conformity with Articles I and II of the NPT. South Africa cannot support any restrictions on the inalienable right of states that fully comply with their obligations under the NPT. While we respect the sovereign right of any state that may decide not to exercise its rights, the right to the peaceful application of the atom remains an inalienable one. This right includes the development of a domestic nuclear fuel cycle under the requisite safeguards as required under the NPT to provide assurances regarding the exclusive peaceful nature of such programmes.

Although South Africa recognises the importance of confidence-building measures, South Africa has, together with members of the Non-Aligned Movement, as well as other board members, including Russia and China, continually emphasised the importance of distinguishing between the legal obligations of Iran (the implementation of its safeguards agreement with the agency, as is required under Article III of the NPT) and the voluntary confidence-building measures that Iran has adopted to demonstrate its good faith (the suspension of enrichment-related and conversion activities, the suspension of the construction of a heavy water plant at Arak, and the implementation of the Additional Protocol pending its ratification by the Iranian Parliament).

At the same time, South Africa has consistently reiterated its deep concern over the slow pace of progress towards nuclear disarmament. South Africa remains steadfast in its opposition to the development or continued retention of nuclear weapons by some states contrary to their nuclear disarmament obligations under the NPT. Likewise, South Africa remains concerned about the continued operation of unsafeguarded nuclear facilities for which no assurances can be given in terms of the non-diversion to non-peaceful purposes, including by those states that have chosen to remain outside the NPT.

Despite recent developments pertaining to the Iranian nuclear programme and the crisis and confrontation that has arisen, it is important for all parties to continue to exercise the maximum restraint and to work for a sustainable and peaceful resolution to this matter through dialogue and negotiations.

Any sustainable solution to this issue should, by necessity, encompass a comprehensive recognition of the rights, obligations and aspirations, including the need for security, stability and the economic development of all the parties concerned.

Aziz Pahad is a member of the ANC National Executive Committee and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.


In defence of the Cuban people

The case of five Cubans imprisoned on espionage charges in the United States has demonstrated the hypocrisy of America's claimed opposition to terrorism, writes Leonard Weinglass.

Five Cuban men were arrested in Miami, Florida in September 1998 and charged with 26 counts of violating the federal laws of the United States.

Twenty-four of those charges were relatively minor and technical offences, such as the use of false names and failure to register as foreign agents.

None of the charges involved violence in the US, the use of weapons, or property damage.

The five had come to the United States from Cuba following years of violence perpetrated by a network of terrorist made up of armed mercenaries drawn from the Cuban exile community in Florida. For over forty years these groups have been tolerated, and even hosted, by successive US Governments.

Cuba suffered significant casualties and property destruction at their hands. Cuban protests to the US Government and the United Nations fell on deaf ears. Following the demise of the socialist states in the early 1990s the violence escalated as Cuba struggled to establish a tourism industry.

The Miami mercenaries responded with a violent campaign to dissuade foreigners from visiting. A bomb was found in the airport terminal in Havana, tourist buses were bombed, as were hotels. Boats from Miami traveled to Cuba and shelled hotels and tourist facilities.

The mission of the five was not to obtain US military secrets, as was charged, but rather to monitor the terrorist activities of those mercenaries and report their planned threats back to Cuba. The arrest and prosecution of these men for their courageous attempt to stop the terror was not only unjust; it exposed the hypocrisy of America's claim to oppose terrorism wherever it surfaces.

Nothing reveals this more than the contrast between the US government's handling of the five's case with that of Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles. Both Bosch and Carriles were members, even leaders, of the Miami terror network and self-confessed terrorists, who planted a bomb on a Cubana airline in 1976, which exploded in midair, killing 73 people.

When Bosch applied for legal residence in the United States in 1990 an official investigation by the US Department of Justice examined his 30-year history of criminality directed against Cuba and concluded, '...over the years he has been involved in terrorist attacks abroad and has advocated and been involved in bombings and sabotage.' Despite that official finding he was granted legal residence by the then President of the United States, George Bush Sr.

The case of Posada Carriles is no less revealing. A fugitive from justice, he 'escaped' from a Venezuela prison in 1985 (with the help of powerful 'friends') where he was accused and prosecuted for masterminding the 1976 bombing of the Cuban airliner.

Twice Posada publicly admitted that he was responsible for a series of bombings in Havana in 1997, in which an Italian tourist was killed and dozens of others were wounded. He was convicted by a Panamanian Court in 2000 for 'endangering public safety' by having several dozen pounds of C-4 explosives in his possession, which he intended to use at a public gathering at the university in order to kill President Fidel Castro (along with what would have been hundreds of others, mostly students, who attended that meeting). His long career in violence and terror is undeniable.

He, too, however, became the recipient of inexplicable hospitality from the US government. His presence in the United States, following a fraudulent pardon by the outgoing President of Panama, was an open secret, but he was reluctantly taken into custody only after giving a televised press conference. He's now housed by American authorities, not in a prison, but in a special residence inside a detention facility. He faces no prosecutions, only an administrative procedure for not having appropriate residential documents, which could lead to his deportation to a country of his choosing.

Meanwhile the US has refused to extradite him to Venezuela where he is facing charges related to terrorism.

Contrast that treatment with that of the five who were arrested without a struggle and immediately cast into solitary confinement cells reserved as punishment for the most dangerous prisoners, and kept there for 17 months until the start of their trial. When their trial ended seven months later they were sentenced - three months after the 9/11 attacks - to maximum prison terms, with Gerardo Hernandez receiving a double life sentence and Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labañino getting life. The remaining two, Fernando Gonzalez and René Gonzalez, got 19 and 15 years respectively.

The five were then separated into maximum-security prisons (some of the worst in the US), each several hundred miles from the other, where they remain today. Two have been denied visits from their wives for the last seven years in violation of US law and international norms. Protests from Amnesty International and other human rights organisations have been rejected.

The five immediately appealed their convictions and sentences. Their appeal >was to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal which sits in Atlanta, Georgia.

After a thorough review of the proceedings, on 9 August 2005, a distinguished three-judge panel of the court released their opinion, a comprehensive 93 page analysis of the trial process and evidence, reversing the convictions and sentences on the ground that the five did not receive a fair trial in Miami. A new trial was ordered. Beyond finding that the trial violated the fundamental rights of the accused, the court, for the first time in American jurisprudence, acknowledged evidence produced by the defence at trial revealing that terrorist actions emanating from Florida against Cuba had taken place, even citing in a footnote the role of Posada Carriles and correctly referring to him as a terrorist.

This panel decision stunned the Bush administration. Miami, with its 650,000 Cuban exiles who provided the margin of victory for Bush in the 2000 presidential election, was officially found by a federal appellate court to be so irrationally hostile to the Cuban government, and supportive of violence against it, as to be incapable of providing a fair forum for a trial of these five Cubans. Moreover, the behavior of the government prosecutors in making exaggerated and unfounded arguments to the twelve members of the public who heard and decided the case, exacerbated that prejudice, as did the news reporting both before and during the trial.

The Attorney General of the United States, Albert Gonzalez, Bush's former counsel, then took the unusual step of ordering the filing of an appeal to all 12 judges of the Eleventh Circuit, calling on them to review the 9 August decision of the three-judge panel, a process rarely successful, especially when all three judges were in agreement and expressed themselves in such a scholarly and lengthy opinion. To the surprise of the many lawyers following the case, the judges of the 11th Circuit agreed on 31 October to review the decision of the panel. That process is now ongoing.

Prior to the 9 August decision of the 11th Circuit panel, a panel of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also concluded that the deprivation of liberty of the five was arbitrary and called on the US government to take steps of remedy the situation.

The record of the Miami trial was mammoth. The process took over seven months to complete, making it the longest criminal trial in the United States during the time it occurred. Over 70 witnesses testified, including two retired generals, one retired admiral and a presidential advisor who served in the White House, all called by the defence . The trial record consumed over 119 volumes of transcript. In addition there were 15 volumes of pre-trial testimony and argument. More than 800 exhibits were introduced into evidence, some as long as 40 pages. The twelve jurors, with the jury foreman openly expressing his dislike of Fidel Castro, returned verdicts of guilty on all 26 counts without asking a single question or requesting a rereading of any testimony, unusual in a trial of this length and complexity.

The two main charges against the five alleged a theory of prosecution that's ordinarily used in politically charged cases: conspiracy. A conspiracy is an illegal agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime. The crime need not occur. Once such an agreement is established, the crime is complete. All the prosecution need do is to demonstrate through circumstantial evidence that there must have been an agreement. In a political case, such as this one, juries often infer agreement, absent evidence of a crime, on the basis of the politics, minority status or national identity of the accused. This is precisely why and how the conspiracy charge was used here. The first conspiracy charge alleged that three of the five had agreed to commit espionage. The government argued at the outset that it need not prove that espionage occurred, merely that there was an agreement to do it sometime in the future. While the media was quick to refer to the five as spies, the legal fact, and actual truth, was that this was not a case of spying, but of an alleged agreement to do it. Thus relieved of the duty of proving actual espionage, the prosecutors set about convincing a Miami jury that these five Cuban men, living in their midst, must have had such an agreement.

In his opening statement to the jury, the prosecutor conceded that the five did not have in their possession a single page of classified government information even though the government had succeeded in obtaining over 20,000 pages of correspondence between them and Cuba. Moreover, that correspondence was reviewed by one of the highest-ranking military officers in the Pentagon on intelligence who, when asked, acknowledged that he couldn't recall seeing any national defence information. The law requires the presence of national defence information to prove the crime of espionage.

Rather, all the prosecution relied upon was the fact that one of the five, Antonio Guerrero, worked in a metal shop on the Boca Chica Navy training base in Southern Florida. The base was completely open to the public, and even had a special viewing area set aside to allow people to take photographs of planes on the runways. While working there Guerrero had never applied for a security clearance, had no access to restricted areas, and had never tried to enter any. While the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had him under surveillance for two years before the arrests, there was no testimony from any of the agents about a single act of wrongdoing on his part.

Far from providing damning evidence for the prosecution, the documents seized from the defendants were used by the defence because they demonstrated the non-criminal nature of Guerrero's activity at the base. He was to 'discover and report in a timely manner the information or indications that denote the preparation of a military aggression against Cuba' on the basis of 'what he could see' by observing 'open public activities'. This included information visible to any member of the public: the comings and goings of aircraft. He was also cutting news articles out of the local paper which reported on the military units stationed there. Former high-ranking US military and security officials testified that Cuba presents no military threat to the United States, that there is no useful military information to be obtained from Boca Chica, and that Cuba's interest in obtaining the kind of information presented at trial was 'to find out whether indeed we are preparing to attack them'.

Information that is generally available to the public cannot form the basis of an espionage prosecution. One of the US military officials, General Clapper, when asked, 'Would you agree that open source intelligence is not espionage?', replied, 'That is correct'. Nonetheless, after hearing the prosecution's highly improper argument, repeated three times, that the five Cubans were in this country 'for the purpose of destroying the United States', the jury, more swayed by passion than the law and evidence, convicted.

The second conspiracy charge was added seven months after the first. It alleged that one of the five, Gerardo Hernandez, conspired with others, non-indicted Cuban officials, to shoot down two aircraft flown by Cuban exiles from Miami as they entered Cuban airspace. They were intercepted by Cuban MIGs, killing all four aboard. The prosecution conceded that it had no evidence whatsoever regarding any alleged agreement between Gerardo and Cuban officials to either shoot down planes or where and how they were to be shot down. In consequence, the law's requirement that an agreement be proven beyond a reasonable doubt was not satisfied. The government admitted in court papers that it faced an 'insurmountable obstacle' in proving its case against Gerardo and proposed to modify its own charge, which the Court of Appeals rejected. Nonetheless, the jury convicted him of that specious charge.

The case of the five is one of the few cases in American jurisprudence that involves injustice at home as well as injustice abroad. Like the trial of the Pentagon Papers concerning the war in Vietnam, it derives from a failed foreign policy, which it exposes. To achieve a political end, the criminal justice system was manipulated by the government which consistently violated legal norms.

The five were not prosecuted because they violated American law, but because their work exposed those who were. By infiltrating the terror network that is allowed to exist in Florida they demonstrated the hypocrisy of America's claimed opposition to terrorism.

Leonard Weinglass is a lawyer and civil rights activist. He has represented Pentagon Papers defendants, the Chicago Eight, Angela Davis, Jane Fonda, Mumia Abu Jamal and Amy Carter, daughter of President Jimmy Carter, among others. He is currently representing the Cuban Five.

South African campaign to Free the Five

From 12 September to 6 October 2006, a broad coalition of South Africans will join the international campaign for the release of five Cubans unjustly imprisoned in the United States.

These dates have been chosen for an international campaign because 12 September marks eight years of imprisonment for the Cuban Five. Other key dates in this period are 21 September and 6 October, respectively the 30th anniversaries of the assassination of the former Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier and the sabotage of a Cuban civilian airliner off the coast of Barbados, which cost the lives of all 73 on board.

The campaign will call on all South Africans who oppose terror and who support the rights of all peoples to peace and justice to become part of the global effort to break the silence about the plight of the Cuban Five.

The unjust imprisonment of the Cuban Five is a violation of their right to a fair trial. The Five were arrested on false espionage charges; held in solitary confinement; denied the right to a fair trial by an impartial jury; and sentenced, collectively, to four life terms and 75 years.

The imprisonment of the Five is an assault on the people of Cuba and their inalienable right to defend themselves against acts of terror and aggression. The Five were involved in gathering information about Cuban-American groups using the US as a base to plan and launch terror attacks against Cuba and its citizens. They were not engaged in any activities which threatened the national security of the US.

The imprisonment of the Five is an example of United States hypocrisy in the 'war on terror'. While it proclaims to be engaged in a war on terror, the US allows terrorist groups to use its soil as a base for attacks on Cuban civilians, colludes with those responsible for the attacks, and arrests and imprisons those who have been tasked with monitoring and reporting on potential terrorist atrocities. The imprisonment of the Five is an indication by the US that they condone terror attacks on Cuba.


Somaliland and the African Union

Time to affirm Africa's best-kept secret?

An African Union fact-finding mission has made a compelling case for the recognition of Somaliland as an independent, sovereign state. Now is the time for Africa's leaders to act to achieve this, write Iqbal Jhazbhay.

In Umrabulo 18, published in June 2003, I pointed to the emerging country of Somaliland as 'Africa's Best-Kept Secret'. 1 Some two years later the African Union fact-finding report has confirmed this initial finding.

Responding recently to a question on the little known country of Somaliland, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said: 'The African Union sent a high level team to Somaliland to assess the situation. Their report indicated that Somaliland should be treated differently to other situations of cessation. This report is now being discussed by other countries to determine how to proceed on the matter. It is important to note however that the recognition of Somaliland is one part of a bigger situation with regard to Somalia.' 2 If African countries are intent on hearing the guns in the Horn of Africa fall forever silent it will require level-headedness coupled with clarity in dealing with the subtle challenges that come with peace. Under focus is the reasonably peaceful, yet unrecognised country in the Horn of Africa, Somaliland. Writes one of the region's most famous sons, Nuruddin Farah: 'No secret is forever a secret - it has to be known by someone who places a value on it.' It is time for African states to step up to the platform and actively push, through quiet or public diplomacy, for the recognition of a continental success story. Some countries, such as Rwanda, Zambia and Kenya, are now doing so. Somaliland's achievements, Professors Hussein Adam and Ken Menkhaus assert, 'constitute one of the few pieces of genuinely good news in the troubled Horn of Africa.' 3 The African Union Commission and select progressive African leaders are among those who 'place a value' on Somaliland. So should other African states and institutions. Somaliland has recently applied for AU membership.

Hope is on the horizon, fuelled by clear thinking. The 2005 African Union (AU) fact-finding report on Somaliland recommended some clear steps towards resolving the African diplomatic impasse in dealing with Somaliland.

Somaliland's success over the past 15 years in state-building, democratisation and economic recovery, coupled with its home-grown disarmament and demobilisation, has attracted the AU's attention. Among the findings of the AU were that 'going by the clear presentation and articulate demands of the authorities and people of Somaliland concerning their political, social and economic history, Somaliland has been made a 'pariah region' by default. The Union established in 1960 brought enormous injustice and suffering to the people of the region.' It ends with a recommendation: 'Objectively viewed, the case should not be linked to the notion of 'opening a pandora's box'. As such, the AU should find a special method of dealing with this outstanding case.' African Union and cynics Not everyone would agree with the AU report's conclusions. A number of key African countries are advocating what they would term, albeit incorrectly, 'unity' - that Somaliland re-join Somalia. These perspectives are uninformed. The well-known pan-Somali nationalist vision to bring all the Somali territories together under one flag created mayhem in the Horn.

Ethiopia found itself in 1977 at war with the expansionist 'unity' project of Somali dictator Siad Barre. This 'sacred unity' vision saw the subsequent decline of Somalia.

Our urgent task is to spell out the facts obliterated by the passage of time.

The AU report says: 'The fact that the 'union between Somaliland and Somalia was never ratified' and also malfunctioned when it went into went into action from 1960 to 1990, makes Somaliland's search for recognition historically unique and self-justified in African political history.' Somaliland's fight for recognition is also not without historical precedent.

Many African countries went into a union and subsequently abandoned it.

Egypt and Syria (1958-61), Mali and Senegal (1960), and Senegal and Gambia (1982-89) are just some of the former derelict unions in Africa. Other lesser known cases, such as Rwanda and Burundi (1962) and Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau (1975), are lost in the milky haze of diplomatic amnesia.

Those who would see Somalia and Somaliland 'united' will argue the recognition of Somaliland will only further fragment the region; that the recognition of Somaliland will render the very term 'African Union' a misnomer; that the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia offers hope for change. Unfortunately, the reality does not speak to this. The country continues to spiral further into a state of anarchy.

It would be worth looking at when the Horn of Africa makes news. Reporting on last month's abduction of a group of Yemeni fishermen by Somali pirates, CNN.com reported: 'Somalia's coastal waters have become among the world's most dangerous in the 14 years the country has lacked a central government.' Comparisons, however, are not helpful, and they are beside the point. The facts at our disposal, and most analysis of the geo-politics of the region, point to the reality that Somalia, 'in the best-case scenario with its new Transitional Federal Government would be very minimalist in scope and capacity, and most of Somalia would remain a de facto zone of state collapse for the short term.' Despite this, key African states want to 'give them a chance'. We have.

Fifteen years later, fourteen peace conferences, five transitional governments and the world's most expensive peacekeeping mission, UNISOM, have not yielded any worthy results.

Diplomacy or the military option African states need a clear-minded approach. It will be a depressing day when clear thinking is silenced and the matter of Somaliland and Somalia is settled militarily.

One's memory is jogged by the case of Eritrea and Ethiopia. Eritrean fighters doggedly fought Ethiopia for 30 years from 1961 to 1991. Finally, the military option decided on the separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia.

Sadly, the UN and the former Organisation of African Unity (OAU) were silent witnesses to this carnage. Sudan has experienced 50 years of on-off war since its independence, Africa's longest running conflict.

Somaliland, after receiving its independence in 1960, voluntarily joined Somalia. In 1991, after a tragic union with Somalia, Somaliland opted to return to its original British Protectorate boundaries. Somaliland's leaders have defiantly proclaimed that it would rather go to war than join Somalia and give up its hard earned independence.

Visits to the UN-verified mass graves in Somaliland's capital, Hargeisa, bring back the horrifying memories of the recent Rwanda genocide.

Somalilanders recount with a passion and level of forensic detail that reveals that this is still a open wound of the 1988 injustice of Somalia's military, led by dictator Siad Barre.

As history is the reminder, injustices and grudges that are not addressed, acquire a momentum all their own, shuddering across continents until they erupt in a thunderous roar.

As Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi recently affirmed, history and reality has shown us that it is better to carry a separate passport with its inconveniences rather than go to war with Eritrea. The Prime Minister was responding to the cry of some Ethiopians who have relatives in Eritrea and require now to have a passport on entering independent Eritrea.

South Africa has a diplomatic vanguard role to play in the Horn of Africa, along with a number of key African states, because of South Africa's stated 'commitment to promoting the peaceful resolution of conflicts and to encourage post-conflict reconstruction and development' and as Chair of the African Union Committee on Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Sudan. In addition, South African government international law advisers have concluded that Somaliland does have a strong legal case. 4 Somaliland is the only unsettled political case in Africa, excluding Western Sahara, where a country is being shaped on its original colonial boundaries.

This is entirely consistent with the AU's charter, which alludes to colonial boundaries achieved on independence. The crucial question is, do African countries have the political will to advance this AU fact-finding report on Somaliland by suggesting a follow-up process? The non-recognition of Somaliland also impacts negatively on that country's ability to sustain itself. The AU report observes: 'The lack of recognition ties the hands of the authorities and people of Somaliland as they cannot effectively and sustainably transact with the outside to pursue the reconstruction and development goals.'

Africa's Future

Africa's profile has never been better. Today, 40 percent of African states have elected democracies. Continental growth in 2004 was 5.1% and is estimated at 5% in 2005 and 4.7% in 2006, the most favourable performance for many years. South Africa's economy, the largest in Africa, expanded by 4.9% in 2005 up a bit from the 4.5% in 2004. Internationally, Africa's profile has never been higher on the global agenda.

In 2005, South African President Thabo Mbeki, in a letter to Somaliland President Dahir Riyale Kahin, suggested that the AU lead on the matter of Somaliland. Today, the AU has done so, and now the ball is in the court of African countries to mobilise towards a follow-up on the AU's report on Somaliland in the larger interests of the subtle challenges of peace in the Horn of Africa.

Africa cannot afford, by ignorance and bad policy, to undermine its flagship New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) programme, which aims to promote stability and peace. The stark reminders of conflicts past and present on the continent serve as a caution.

Should a prospect for stability exist, as in Somaliland, it should and must be supported. Clear thinking prevailed in the Sudan to suggest the possible option of a self-determination referendum for South Sudan in 2011, in the larger interests of a peace deal.

We all need to mobilise in support of the AU Commission's worthy efforts for peace and stability. The AU's recent fact-finding visit to Somaliland, as well as its opening of a office in Somalia's Jowhar city, are moments of clarity and calls for applause. It indeed affirms the AU's plans to be on the ground, although the choice of the city of Jowhar remains controversial among Somalians.

The 'small' conflict of Somaliland and Somalia, left to fester long enough, will have an uncanny way of bringing down regions and empires. This serious and lethal issue merits careful and clear thinking for a better Africa. Are African policy makers and progressive institutions willing to listen and act? The time has come for affirmation of success. That is the least we can do for an African Renaissance.

Iqbal Jhazbhay teaches at the University of South Africa (UNISA), serves on the ANC's Commission for Religious Affairs, and is director on the board of the Institute for Global Dialogue.

Notes:

  1. Umrabulo 18, pp 53-55.
  2. Available at www.dfa.gov.za/docs/speeches/2006/paha0704.htm
  3. Ken Menkhaus, 'Somalia in 2005: No Exit', Les Annales d'Ethiopie (2005).
  4. Tandeka Lujiza, 'Somaliland's Claim to Sovereign Status', Office of the Chief State Law Advisor (International Law), Pretoria: Department of Foreign Affairs (29 April 2003).

Skills necessary for the advancement of South Africa

In meeting our national objectives of accelerated growth and development, our skills development strategies need to focus on five key skills, writes Tshilidzi Marwala.

One of South Africa's strategic intentions is to stimulate economic growth through the consolidation of essential and strategic skills. This is expected to ensure that South Africa radically develops new industries, consolidates productive forces and acquires new skills. In executing this revolutionary goal, government has prioritised skills development to drastically increase South Africa's productive capacity. The government in partnership with private sector has initiated various skills development programmes. These programmes have played a major role in pursuing the economic and social integration of the second economy into the mainstream economy. For these goals to become a reality it is important that all these strategies and tactics are interlinked with the reality of South Africa's economic landscape and that these goals are aimed at not only achieving the necessary skills but also sufficient skills for the attainment of rapid economic growth. To achieve these goals it is important to understand the skills development life cycle.

The skills development life cycle can be viewed as an interaction between society, the educational system and industry. Society supplies the necessary people to the educational system who are then educated for industry that trains them for specific skills. This entire process takes on average 15 years to complete. These 15 years involve primary, secondary and tertiary education. This implies that any skills development process that is not planned at least 15 years in advance will not be able to solve the deep underlying problem of underdevelopment. Thus the strategies and tactics that ought to be deployed must be revolutionary, dynamic and adaptive in nature, and must have a life cycle of at least 15 years. One of the most challenging scientific management processes today is that of formulating strategies and tactics with long life cycles. The fact that the global economic landscape is by nature dynamically unstable and thus uncertain makes the process even more daunting.

Necessary Skills The point of departure in attempting to solve this problem is to answer the question: What are the necessary skills that one would need in the next 15 years? In this article we have identified five key skills needed to revolutionise South Africa's economy:

These skills would solve current problems but also put South Africa in a position where it can deal with all future challenges.

Intellectual skill is the ability to use scientific ways of inquiry to reach conclusions, whether social, political, economic or otherwise, by the use of logic and deductions. Intellectual skills would allow cadres to think outside the box, to visualise in space and time long before situations arise and be able to extract truth from facts. These skills equip cadres with mindsets that allow them to decisively deal with any challenges as they happen, irrespective of the scale or the complexity of the problems at hand.

The infrastructures that are required to develop strong intellectual skills include strong communities that put knowledge as the most advanced expression of their collective consciousness. The other infrastructure requirements are educational systems, whether primary, secondary or tertiary. Education systems ought to nurture cadres who are self-reliant, confident and view continuous learning as a necessary part of modern life and are able to synthesise information. As Karl Marx put it: 'Science is necessary because essence and appearance never directly coincide'. Indeed, if it was not because of the abundance of this skill in earlier Africans, the pyramids would never have found a physical expression.

Technical skills allow cadres to understand numeric representations, make decisions based on evidence and interpret complex geometric structures.

Technical skills may also be viewed as a derivative of the intellectual skill and are required, particularly, when dealing with short-term tactics.

The reason why technical skills may be viewed as a derivative of the intellectual skill is because it is from intellectual conclusions that technical solutions such as the discovery of cellphones were extracted. The Kingdom of Mapungubwe would never have existed unless our forbearers had technical skills in abundance. The Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) is a tactic that is aimed at acquiring technical skills.

The infrastructures that are required to build technical skills include universities of technology. However, for these institutions to function optimally there need to be strong interactions between these institutions and places of employment, such as industry and government.

Communication skill is another skill that is often misunderstood. It is really the ability for a community to read and write as part of mainstream activity. One Japanese scholar was once asked how Japan developed so fast and his reply was that the efficiency of diffusion of ideas, was so pervasive that Japan could only develop fast. Whether this explanation is sufficient or not is a topic of another conversation, but what we can learn is that communication is a crucial skill that we ought to nurture in our communities. It was in pursuit of developing this skill that the earlier Kingdom of Timbuktu in modern-day Mali, built libraries and universities so that information can not only be stored but also be diffused to communities both at the time and for future generations.

The other skill that is extremely important is the leadership skill. Marx was quoted as stating that revolutionary leadership is the ability to make 'progression from the abstract to the concrete and vice versa'. This the ability to understand issues at both the specific and the general levels and to understand how the specific affects the general and vice versa. This skill is essential for a country that intends to take global leadership. Our movement has continually brought forward such leadership and it is the responsibility of our movement to ensure that such leadership skill is diffused to all spheres of our country's life in particular and to our continent in general. The intellectual skill is really a subset of the leadership skill because leadership that is characterised by the absence of intellectualism, whether organic or nurtured, is simply incapable of ensuring success in today's state. Leadership skill allows cadres to be innovative by always being ready to take intellectual leadership in any sphere of life.

The ability to link the abstract to the practical is what is termed social skills. It is only when knowledge benefits society that it truly becomes education. This skill is very crucial in the modernisation of societies.

Policy framework It is important to locate these skills within the policy framework that is currently in existence to identify gaps and use these to strengthen the task of skills development. To increase the levels of skills, government has adopted the National Skills Development Strategy. The main intention of this strategy is to germinate a labour force that is highly skilled and which is characterised by superior technological knowledge. It is intended that this strategy will lead to a labour force that is geared towards increasing the country's economic growth. This strategy targets key national developmental areas and is partly intended to increase the absorptive capacity by South Africa of the knowledge spill-over from foreign-owned enterprises at the microeconomic level. It specifically targets the development of technical skills. To strengthen this strategy we need to align it to the tertiary education system. On executing this strategy, delicate care should be taken to ensure that short-term goals are balanced against long-term goals.

Government, in partnership with private sector and institutions of higher learning, has initiated learnership programmes to create a large pool of skilled people to meet the demands of the growing South African economy.

These learnerships ensure that unemployed youth get on-the-job training experience through the sector education and training authorities (SETAs) and are funded by the National Skills Fund. One of the biggest challenges faced by this tactic is the ability to ensure that there is alignment in economic and political imperatives for reducing unemployment, fostering growth as well as international competitiveness. The biggest problem with this tactic is the reluctance of industry to massively participate in learnerships. As a way forward, government, industry and universities should reach a binding commitment to vastly increase learnerships and prescribe specifically that the skills discussed above are nurtured in these learnerships.

Tshilidzi Marwala is the Carl and Emily Fuchs Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand and is a member of the ANC Thomas Nkobi Branch.


Youth, our movement and the revolution

Following in the footsteps of earlier generations of revolutionary youth, young people within the democratic movement should be at the forefront of defending the gains of the revolution and accelerating development, writes Malibongwe Kanjana.

An entry point to this contribution will be an approach that will not necessary be academic or scientific, but rather an immediate response to the socio-economic and political realities faced by our youth. Though a generalisation, this contribution is meant to further inspire constructive debate towards a secure future for our country, Africa and the world.

The youth stage is not a time in life but a state of mind. Youth are better positioned than any other social stratum to be entrusted with, and be prepared for, the responsibilities of the future. Former ANC President, the late Oliver Tambo, said: 'Any nation that does not value its youth, does not have a future.' It is the nation that makes a good investment in its youth that can expect positive returns - we've learned that 'a pain now is a payment in future'.

To have arrived at this hour in our revolution, supreme sacrifices were made during every phase of our struggle. We won and lost battles, and inspired and empowered generations. Despite the deadly tricks of the enemies of our revolution, the voice of our leaders kept reaching the ears of the masses.

The courage of heroes and heroines kept the revolutionary spirit alive in the hearts of millions of our people.

From the early wars of resistance, youth fearlessly swelled the ranks of the armies of our people, under the leadership of Bambatha, Moshoeshoe, Hintsa and many leaders of our people. It was through the courage of this youth that the leaders of our people knew that they were engaged in a cause bound to succeed. It was as a result of those young soldiers who fearlessly engaged and triumphed over the enemy in the battle of Isandlwana and on many fronts that the wheels of revolution began to gather pace.

Young but brave, the youth are not to be forgotten in their swift response to the call of mobilising and organising our people. It is in the spirit of selflessness that the young citizens of mortality demonstrated, and fully committed their time and energy to the work of building the people's organisation, without any material expectation.

It is in the courage of youth that when weaknesses surfaced in the ANC, walking away was not a choice. Instead they confronted those weaknesses and combated their negative impact. The strength of the voice of youth ensured drastic but positive change in the ANC and gave birth to a new era. It was in this era of the 1940s that the ANC regained lost ground through the Programme of Action of 1949. This gave meaning to the progression of the struggle, building up to the drafting and adoption of the Freedom Charter and beyond.

When the enemy sought to silence the people's voice and our movement was confronted with the choice to 'submit or fight', the glorious movement of our people rose to the occasion as it chose to fight on. This decision proved to be challenging and demanded the employment of new strategies. In this era our movement was again not to be disappointed by the youth. Young people all over the country left the comfort of their homes and chose to be citizens of the bush in foreign countries. In their numbers they significantly contributed in all pillars, phases and fronts of our struggle under the ever-capable leadership of the ANC.

In the 1970s young people took it upon themselves to raise the flame of our revolution. It was in the blaze of this flame that our people's hope was renewed. The knock of victory at the doors of our movement was even louder.

The 1980s saw the emergence of an even more militant generation of youth, who without delay or hesitation responded to the call of our movement to render the country ungovernable. Their commitment was evident in the slogan, 'Freedom or death victory is certain'. In the face of the impatient character of the youth, apartheid regime wavered. Thus the 1990s came into being. Young people always occupied the centre stage of our revolution; their involvement is evident in all phases of our liberation struggle.

Beyond unbanning The youth occupy the centre of a terrain that is highly contested; their vigorous energy and enthusiastic nature expose the beauty of their colorful time in life. Their very age in life and state of mind attract a lot of interest for long-term investment of either a positive or negative nature.

The ANC belongs to the family of revolutionaries and progressives whose agenda is to create and advance a people-driven, just and equitable world order, underpinned by unity, democracy, non-racialism, non-sexism and prosperity.

On the other side, the anti-revolutionary forces engage in programmes which seek to undermine and destroy the people's agenda for change and equality.

It is in the interest of these forces of doom that the young citizens of life are confused at their tender age, as this will allow counter-revolutionary programmes to progress without contestation. It is in the voice of these forces that we hear that the youth are marginalised.

Failing in this tune they then tell us of youth apathy. These are all efforts to disconnect and distance the youth from the family of the progressive and render them useless, a generation existing without purpose.

Yet it is in the current terrain of revolution that the youth should more than ever be attuned to the task of the revolution, for their contribution and commitment is required now more than ever before.

The challenges our revolution is facing now are larger and more complex than ever before. The enemy has a faceless character, thus demanding vigilance on the part of the revolutionaries. Our movement, freedom and revolution are under attack. It is thus incumbent on the youth in particular to consolidate and champion the defence of our movement and the broader revolutionary programme. Thus with dedication we will ensure the progression of transformation agenda in our country.

Defending our revolutionary gains Central to the community of the motive forces is the youth stratum. The youth is strategically positioned to carry out particular responsibilities.

The youth must learn from history, to be able to contribute in the present and successfully master the future.

To young people future is a reality, not merely a dream. This is the very reason that the firm responsibility of our movement should be to ensure proper and efficient investment in young people. Coupled with this is the need for our movement to not only be satisfied with the existence of the ANC Youth League but also consciously and responsibly ensure that the movement has clear programmes to develop young cadres.

The formation of the ANC Youth League came at a time when the ANC was under attack from critics who said the national movement was unable to advance the nation's cause in a manner commensurate with the demands of the times.

In response to this, the ANC Youth League Manifesto of 1944 said: 'The formation of the African National Congress Youth League is an answer and assurance to the critics of the national movement that African Youth will not allow the struggles and sacrifices of their fathers to have been in vain. Our fathers fought so that we, better equipped when our time came, should start and continue from where they stopped.'

It further said: 'In response to the demands of the times African Youth is laying its services at the disposal of the national liberation movement, the African National Congress, in the firm belief, knowledge and conviction that the cause of Africa must and will triumph.' Instead of joining the critics, the African youth opted to commit their lives and times to advancing the national cause. In their numbers they came together on 10 September 1944 to form the ANCYL, crafting the Youth League's role and objective to rally the youth of our country to support and unite behind the banner of ANC and at the same time champion their interest while making sure that the African youth are actively involved in the struggle for liberation.

So in the broader struggle waged by the ANC, the ANCYL defined its role correctly. This role has advanced and taken different forms and shapes, in different phases and pillars of the struggle. The role and challenges facing the league are much bigger now than they were 60 years ago.

In the past ten years, the Youth League has had to engage in a process of both transforming the organisation and locating its role in the broad liberation movement and in the transformation agenda of our country. As always, the youth did not fail this task. The youth movement knows what to do and has crafted a programme whose flexibility allows us to continuously review and revisit its relevance, correctness and promptness.

The nature of the challenges of the current phase demand of us to be united more than ever before. The unity of our organisation should be such that all those outside the ranks of the ANC Youth League find it very lonely out there. Yet at the same time we in the league should continue to build and affirm structures which are welcoming to all young people in the country.

Our structures should not shy away from discharging their political duties in ensuring among other things significant youth development programmes at all levels and in all spheres of government. We must, in celebrating our freedom and 60 year anniversary of the ANC Youth League, renew our commitment to the national cause and the defence of its gains.

The work of continuing building on the foundation of democracy must be accelerated; the labours of youth must be channeled to ensuring that our nation realises all the clauses of the Freedom Charter, building up to the centenary of our movement.

The hegemony of our movement must take a clearer shape and meaning. The roll-out of youth empowerment and development programmes to all youth in our country, rural and urban, farms, townships and suburbs, can't afford any delays.

Young people must be encouraged to occupy the ranks of the community of entrepreneurs. The world of professionals should be dominated by the African youth. We must endeavor to ensure that the spirit of patriotism is instilled in our youth.

As the youth of the 1940s and 1970s did not disappoint the finest cause of our people, we dare not fail to even do more to defend the gains of the revolution. Our responsibility should be to do, in the words of Fidel Castro, 'all and everything for the revolution and nothing against it'.

We must continue to sharpen our skills and broaden our political landscape, this to guard against falling prey to the vultures of doom. We will be guilty of lying if we make a claim that all is well. It is in our preparedness and discipline that, as youth, we will take forward the national cause. Joining the voice of popcorn civic organisations will not help us, but our continual support and engagement with our government will improve our cause.

As the youth we should seek to dictate the public debate agenda and not let the neo-liberal forces continue misleading the masses of our people. We should channel the youth into thinking positive and better interpret the programmes of moral regeneration in their everyday actions.

Malibongwe Kanjana is an ANC member in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.


Youth, our movement and the revolution

Following in the footsteps of earlier generations of revolutionary youth, young people within the democratic movement should be at the forefront of defending the gains of the revolution and accelerating development, writes Malibongwe Kanjana.

An entry point to this contribution will be an approach that will not necessary be academic or scientific, but rather an immediate response to the socio-economic and political realities faced by our youth. Though a generalisation, this contribution is meant to further inspire constructive debate towards a secure future for our country, Africa and the world.

The youth stage is not a time in life but a state of mind. Youth are better positioned than any other social stratum to be entrusted with, and be prepared for, the responsibilities of the future. Former ANC President, the late Oliver Tambo, said: 'Any nation that does not value its youth, does not have a future.' It is the nation that makes a good investment in its youth that can expect positive returns - we've learned that 'a pain now is a payment in future'.

To have arrived at this hour in our revolution, supreme sacrifices were made during every phase of our struggle. We won and lost battles, and inspired and empowered generations. Despite the deadly tricks of the enemies of our revolution, the voice of our leaders kept reaching the ears of the masses.

The courage of heroes and heroines kept the revolutionary spirit alive in the hearts of millions of our people.

From the early wars of resistance, youth fearlessly swelled the ranks of the armies of our people, under the leadership of Bambatha, Moshoeshoe, Hintsa and many leaders of our people. It was through the courage of this youth that the leaders of our people knew that they were engaged in a cause bound to succeed. It was as a result of those young soldiers who fearlessly engaged and triumphed over the enemy in the battle of Isandlwana and on many fronts that the wheels of revolution began to gather pace.

Young but brave, the youth are not to be forgotten in their swift response to the call of mobilising and organising our people. It is in the spirit of selflessness that the young citizens of mortality demonstrated, and fully committed their time and energy to the work of building the people's organisation, without any material expectation.

It is in the courage of youth that when weaknesses surfaced in the ANC, walking away was not a choice. Instead they confronted those weaknesses and combated their negative impact. The strength of the voice of youth ensured drastic but positive change in the ANC and gave birth to a new era. It was in this era of the 1940s that the ANC regained lost ground through the Programme of Action of 1949. This gave meaning to the progression of the struggle, building up to the drafting and adoption of the Freedom Charter and beyond.

When the enemy sought to silence the people's voice and our movement was confronted with the choice to 'submit or fight', the glorious movement of our people rose to the occasion as it chose to fight on. This decision proved to be challenging and demanded the employment of new strategies. In this era our movement was again not to be disappointed by the youth. Young people all over the country left the comfort of their homes and chose to be citizens of the bush in foreign countries. In their numbers they significantly contributed in all pillars, phases and fronts of our struggle under the ever-capable leadership of the ANC.

In the 1970s young people took it upon themselves to raise the flame of our revolution. It was in the blaze of this flame that our people's hope was renewed. The knock of victory at the doors of our movement was even louder.

The 1980s saw the emergence of an even more militant generation of youth, who without delay or hesitation responded to the call of our movement to render the country ungovernable. Their commitment was evident in the slogan, 'Freedom or death victory is certain'. In the face of the impatient character of the youth, apartheid regime wavered. Thus the 1990s came into being. Young people always occupied the centre stage of our revolution; their involvement is evident in all phases of our liberation struggle.

Beyond unbanning The youth occupy the centre of a terrain that is highly contested; their vigorous energy and enthusiastic nature expose the beauty of their colorful time in life. Their very age in life and state of mind attract a lot of interest for long-term investment of either a positive or negative nature.

The ANC belongs to the family of revolutionaries and progressives whose agenda is to create and advance a people-driven, just and equitable world order, underpinned by unity, democracy, non-racialism, non-sexism and prosperity.

On the other side, the anti-revolutionary forces engage in programmes which seek to undermine and destroy the people's agenda for change and equality.

It is in the interest of these forces of doom that the young citizens of life are confused at their tender age, as this will allow counter-revolutionary programmes to progress without contestation. It is in the voice of these forces that we hear that the youth are marginalised.

Failing in this tune they then tell us of youth apathy. These are all efforts to disconnect and distance the youth from the family of the progressive and render them useless, a generation existing without purpose.

Yet it is in the current terrain of revolution that the youth should more than ever be attuned to the task of the revolution, for their contribution and commitment is required now more than ever before.

The challenges our revolution is facing now are larger and more complex than ever before. The enemy has a faceless character, thus demanding vigilance on the part of the revolutionaries. Our movement, freedom and revolution are under attack. It is thus incumbent on the youth in particular to consolidate and champion the defence of our movement and the broader revolutionary programme. Thus with dedication we will ensure the progression of transformation agenda in our country.

Defending our revolutionary gains Central to the community of the motive forces is the youth stratum. The youth is strategically positioned to carry out particular responsibilities.

The youth must learn from history, to be able to contribute in the present and successfully master the future.

To young people future is a reality, not merely a dream. This is the very reason that the firm responsibility of our movement should be to ensure proper and efficient investment in young people. Coupled with this is the need for our movement to not only be satisfied with the existence of the ANC Youth League but also consciously and responsibly ensure that the movement has clear programmes to develop young cadres.

The formation of the ANC Youth League came at a time when the ANC was under attack from critics who said the national movement was unable to advance the nation's cause in a manner commensurate with the demands of the times.

In response to this, the ANC Youth League Manifesto of 1944 said: 'The formation of the African National Congress Youth League is an answer and assurance to the critics of the national movement that African Youth will not allow the struggles and sacrifices of their fathers to have been in vain. Our fathers fought so that we, better equipped when our time came, should start and continue from where they stopped.'

It further said: 'In response to the demands of the times African Youth is laying its services at the disposal of the national liberation movement, the African National Congress, in the firm belief, knowledge and conviction that the cause of Africa must and will triumph.' Instead of joining the critics, the African youth opted to commit their lives and times to advancing the national cause. In their numbers they came together on 10 September 1944 to form the ANCYL, crafting the Youth League's role and objective to rally the youth of our country to support and unite behind the banner of ANC and at the same time champion their interest while making sure that the African youth are actively involved in the struggle for liberation.

So in the broader struggle waged by the ANC, the ANCYL defined its role correctly. This role has advanced and taken different forms and shapes, in different phases and pillars of the struggle. The role and challenges facing the league are much bigger now than they were 60 years ago.

In the past ten years, the Youth League has had to engage in a process of both transforming the organisation and locating its role in the broad liberation movement and in the transformation agenda of our country. As always, the youth did not fail this task. The youth movement knows what to do and has crafted a programme whose flexibility allows us to continuously review and revisit its relevance, correctness and promptness.

The nature of the challenges of the current phase demand of us to be united more than ever before. The unity of our organisation should be such that all those outside the ranks of the ANC Youth League find it very lonely out there. Yet at the same time we in the league should continue to build and affirm structures which are welcoming to all young people in the country.

Our structures should not shy away from discharging their political duties in ensuring among other things significant youth development programmes at all levels and in all spheres of government. We must, in celebrating our freedom and 60 year anniversary of the ANC Youth League, renew our commitment to the national cause and the defence of its gains.

The work of continuing building on the foundation of democracy must be accelerated; the labours of youth must be channeled to ensuring that our nation realises all the clauses of the Freedom Charter, building up to the centenary of our movement.

The hegemony of our movement must take a clearer shape and meaning. The roll-out of youth empowerment and development programmes to all youth in our country, rural and urban, farms, townships and suburbs, can't afford any delays.

Young people must be encouraged to occupy the ranks of the community of entrepreneurs. The world of professionals should be dominated by the African youth. We must endeavor to ensure that the spirit of patriotism is instilled in our youth.

As the youth of the 1940s and 1970s did not disappoint the finest cause of our people, we dare not fail to even do more to defend the gains of the revolution. Our responsibility should be to do, in the words of Fidel Castro, 'all and everything for the revolution and nothing against it'.

We must continue to sharpen our skills and broaden our political landscape, this to guard against falling prey to the vultures of doom. We will be guilty of lying if we make a claim that all is well. It is in our preparedness and discipline that, as youth, we will take forward the national cause. Joining the voice of popcorn civic organisations will not help us, but our continual support and engagement with our government will improve our cause.

As the youth we should seek to dictate the public debate agenda and not let the neo-liberal forces continue misleading the masses of our people. We should channel the youth into thinking positive and better interpret the programmes of moral regeneration in their everyday actions.

Malibongwe Kanjana is an ANC member in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.


The uprising that inspired a national liberation struggle

By taking on the might of the British Empire and the white settler regime in Natal a century ago, the people of Maphumulo inspired successive generations of freedom fighters, writes Mandla Nkomfe.

During the 1970s, Marxist and Neo-Marxist scholars challenged the dominance of liberal scholarship in studies of political economy, history, the state and work-place organisation. From the belly of liberal institutions emerged progressive historians like Jeff Peires, Martin Legassick, Shula Marks and Jeff Guy. Guy has written as a progressive on the history of KwaZulu Natal.

His books include The Destruction of the Zulu Kingdom (1979), The Heretic (1983) and The View across the River (2002).

This year marks the centenary of the Bambata Rebellion of 1906. The uprising marked the end of the phase of armed resistance and the beginning of new forms of organisation. Commemorations of this historic event have taken place in different forums and in other provinces. In KwaZulu Natal, government has posthumously reinstalled Inkosi Bambata ka Mancinza of the Zondi tribe as the Inkosi of his people. His authority and leadership was usurped by the Natal Colonial Administration. In this event, a decision was taken to undertake a comprehensive rewriting of the history of our communities. In his new book, Jeff Guy discusses the impact and influence of the Bambata uprising on the areas around the Thukela River. The book shifts the focus to the Maphumulo community in particular.

The Maphumulo Uprising was inspired by the brevity, tenacity and sacrifice of the people who were led by Inkosi Bambata ka Mancinza in fighting the imposition of poll tax in the Enkandla Forest. The Natal Colonial Government thought that they have finally extinguished the spirit of resistance of the fighters of Enkandla. In many ways the people of Maphumulo took the struggle further by organising themselves to resist the imposition of poll tax on young men. The book focuses on the role of two resistance leaders who, having understood the plight and aspirations of their people, organised and mobilised villagers to defend their dignity and freedom.

Meseni ka Musi of the Qwabe and Ndlovu ka Thimuni of the Nodunga section of the Zulu commanded the forces against the Natal Colonial System. These two leaders were to suffer similar fates as other leaders elsewhere in South Africa who dared to resist the colonial system. They were arrested, sent to jail, and taken to the island of St Helena. On their return, they removed from their traditional lands thus cutting them off from their own people.

In this book, Guy paints a confluence of factors that conspired to create fertile grounds for the poll tax uprising. He looks at the consolidation of the capitalist political economy (with the demands of gold and diamond mining), the needs of the white farming communities in Natal, the effects of drought and the rinderpest. The formation of a modern capitalist South Africa was predicated on the break-up and dispersal of indigenous people. To underline the context of the situation, Guy makes the point that: 'It was in these tense times that the Natal authorities sought to remedy fiscal shortfall by adding another burden - a poll tax, a tax on heads - on all men who did not already pay the hut tax. The new tax not only added material burden, but a social provocation because it taxed young men, or more accurately, men who had yet to marry, build homestead of their own, and became liable for hut tax. It was therefore a direct challenge to the customary rights of fathers over their families. Responsibility of payment of this poll tax lay with young men on whom it was levied - and not on their fathers who, in the Natal system of patriarchal authority held that it was their right to redistribute their sons' earnings. Taxing sons independently hastened the breaking up of the patriarchal rural homestead, the rupture of kinship links, and the further fragmentation of African communal life.' It is against this stark backdrop that the communities of Maphumulo took up arms to defend their dignity. The fact that the Zulu Kingdom fought a major battle at Isandlwana in 1879; that in the eyes of the colonial government the status of King Dinizulu was that of any other Inkosi (with all the attendant humiliation); that the Bambata resistance was brutally put down; and the deteriorating social and economic conditions, did not intimidate the Maphumulo people under the leadership of Meseni ka Musi and Ndlovu ka Thimuni from carrying on with the struggle.

The book reveals the leadership qualities of the two leaders. The conduct and dignity with which they carried themselves once they were arrested and tried demonstrated a firm commitment to the aspirations and visions of their people. They made use of the justice system that was inherently not in their favour to communicate the grievances of their communities. After the war took place between June and July 1906, it was decided that the men accused of the murders in the Maphumulo and Lower Thukela divisions should be tried in Pietermaritzburg in May 1907 in a special criminal session of the Natal Supreme Court. Up to 19 men were accused of the murders in the Mvoti valley, the killing of Oliver Veal, and murders in Otimati and Thring's Post. All the men were found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. The sentence was subsequently commuted to that of exile. However, five men did not escape the gallows. These were Macabacaba, Nkosi, Ndabazezwe, Sibeko and Mabalengwe. On 1 June, twenty-five chiefs began their journey into exile on St Helena in the Atlantic.

According to Guy, 'The Natal authorities now turned their malevolent eye on Dinizulu. After intense investigation, the office of the Attorney-General persuaded itself that it had sufficient evidence to show that Dinizulu was deeply implicated in the 1906 rebellion. He was brought to trial in 1908, and in 1909 found guilty on a few of the minor charges. He was released from detention in 1910 by the new government of the Union of South Africa, but confined to a farm in the Transvaal.' In the meantime the government of the Union of South Africa gave an order for the repatriation of the fighters who were exiled in St Helena to Natal, but they were not allowed to return to their homes.

By their actions, the Maphumulo people took on the might of the British Empire and the local white settler regime in Natal. Their conviction and commitment to the cause of their people earned them respect among the freedom fighters of our country. The strategy and tactics they used in the uprising informed the thinking of subsequent generations in Umkhonto we Sizwe. Their efforts need to be celebrated and their heroic deeds commemorated by all South Africans.

On the 6 June 1907, the Governor of Natal, Sir Henry McCallum, ending his term as a governor and returning to England, felt confident that he was leaving the colony with 'native matters' fairly flattened out. To the contrary, the people of KwaZulu Natal were not flattened out. Together with the rest of the oppressed people of South Africa, they fought the battles on the terrain of political organisations, petitions, armed struggles, in the underground and above board. This year must inspire more generations to work hard to protect our freedom, dignity and democracy as the Maphumulo people did.

Mandla Nkomfe is the ANC Gauteng Deputy Provincial Secretary and a member of the Umrabulo editorial collective.

The Maphumulo Uprising: War, Law and Ritual in the Zulu Rebellion
By Jeff Guy
University of KwaZulu Natal Press