Number 27, 3rd Quarter 2006


Creating a caring society

The challenge of managing capitalism - Ben Turok

Towards policies that promote a caring society - Khehla Shubane

Black economic empowerment and the vision of the Freedom Charter - Jerry Vilakazi

Striving for gender equality in the labour market - Andy Brown

From liberation to transformation: Spiritual revolution in secular society

A nation in the making: Macro-social trends in South Africa


Of cats, factions and a revolution - Joel Netshitenzhe

Migration as a vehicle for development - Malusi Gigaba

Developing Gauteng as a global competitive city region - Mbazima Shilowa


A century of principled non-violent struggle against injustice - Ela Gandhi


David and Goliath: Who is who in the Middle East / Part 1 - Ronnie Kasrils

A new type of partnership: The African Renaissance and the development of NEPAD / Part 1 - Frank Chikane

Chinese socialism and the market economy - Supra Mahumapelo


Building the intellectual backbone of the youth - Lufuno Marwala


As much about the present as the past - Kgalema Motlanthe

A broad canvass: A significant book that is essential reading, writes - Ron Press.

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, Donovan Cloete, Spongy Moodley, Steyn Speed

Contact Information
Address: Umrabulo, PO Box 61884, Marshalltown, 2107, South Africa
Telephone: 086 717 7077
Fax: 086 633 1437

The contents and views expressed in Umrabulo do not necessarily reflect the policies of the ANC or the views of the editorial collective.


Infusing the values of ubuntu

When President Thabo Mbeki delivered the 4th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture on 29 July this year, he began with the statement: "I believe I know this as a matter of fact, that 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."

The lecture was widely welcomed as a valuable contribution to the development of our national discourse as we begin the Second Decade of our Freedom. Yet the lecture also poses a number of challenges, both to the democratic movement and broader South African society, not least of which is the challenge of forging a caring society in an environment where "personal pursuit of material gain, as the beginning and end of our life purpose, is already beginning to corrode our social and national cohesion".

In this edition of Umrabulo, a number of writers have sought to respond to some of the questions posed by the President. Some have answered Mbeki`s challenge directly, others more obliquely. They have taken different approaches and emphasised different elements in the unfolding debate. Is a caring society most appropriately pursued in the terrain of economics, through the social policies of government, or by forging a new approach to matters of the soul?

As the democratic movement, we have historically identified a good, moral, humane and caring society as the antithesis of white minority domination.

Through the defeat of colonialism, the achievement of democracy and the eradication of the material legacy of apartheid, we would forge a new society that would uphold the rights and promote the well-being of all its people.

Yet, though we have defeated apartheid and made significant progress in addressing the social and economic devastation that it caused, we have inherited an economic system and a complementary set of values that give rise, in the words of Mbeki, to the "deification of personal wealth as the defining feature of the new citizen".

Some have seen this analysis as primarily intended as a challenge to the process of black economic empowerment. Certainly it says something about the tendency for people to use conspicuous displays of wealth to signal personal `fulfilment`. But the deracialisation of the economy and the effort to redress the systematic denial of economic opportunities to black South Africans cannot, in itself, stand in the way of building a caring society.

Rather it is the unbridled pursuit of profit, regardless of the consequences -reinforcing the cry, "everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost" - which needs to be challenged. Any society held hostage to rampant market forces, to borrow the terminology of the ANC`s Strategy and Tactics, would find it difficult, if not impossible, to adequately tend to the well-being of all its people. It would certainly be impossible for a society, like ours, that is struggling to overcome such severe inequalities.

The challenge to the democratic movement, and to all South Africans, is how then to order economic and social relations in a manner that builds a caring society. This question, on which we merely touch in this edition of Umrabulo, will undoubtedly feature prominently in the discussion that will accompany the review of Strategy and Tactics as the ANC prepares for its next National Conference.

In engaging in these discussions, it would be important to remember President Mbeki`s assertion that "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".

The challenge of managing capitalism

Having inherited a system which prizes the individual acquisition of wealth, will the ANC be able to `manage` capitalism in South Africa so as to remove the obscene inequalities, poverty and joblessness that are still so pervasive, asks Ben Turok.

President Thabo Mbeki has made many speeches since the advent of democracy.

Three stand out as landmarks: "I am an African", "Two Nations", and the recent 4th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture, on "getting rich".

This recent speech is being discussed from three perspectives: as part of a manoeuvre around the so-called succession debate, as an exercise in political ethics, and as a contribution to an analysis of capitalism.

It is understandable that in the present climate of speculation around the future presidency, first of the ANC, and then, of the country, that almost every action by a political leader is ascribed to some positioning or other of various potential candidates for either position. The problem is that all this speculation remains just that. Was the President making a negative point about the newly rich to exclude them from the race? There are no real facts to go on and we are often left with just gossip and hot air. We need to be patient and allow the process to work itself out.

We are on firmer ground with respect to ethics. This was a powerful speech made in the presence of some of the black aspirant millionaires who have joined in the race for getting rich with enthusiasm and total commitment.

Mbeki condemned the values of designer clothing, conspicuous consumption and copycat behaviour of the rich and powerful. It was not only moralising however, for he attacked the foundation of this behaviour in the market fundamentalism with its philosophy of success through capitalist acquisitiveness and indifference to the rest. Coming from an intellectual in office who has repeatedly conceded that South Africa remains a capitalist country, this was a statement of the highest significance.

What is more, although he laid out the specific background of the ANC coming to power in the context of a capitalist system of oppression and exploitation, he criticised the fact the "individual acquisition of wealth" has become the "very centre of the value system of our society as a whole".

This has displaced "the values of human solidarity" which infused the oppressed people over the previous decades if not centuries. He used some very emotive phrases to condemn this displacement of values, such as the destruction of "kinship, neighbourhood, profession and creed", people who become "atomistic and individualistic", "Get rich! Get rich! Get rich!", "designer labels", "the value system of the capitalist market", and "the most theatrical and striking public display of wealth".

He argued that "we must never allow that the market should be the principal determinant of the nature of our society. We should firmly oppose market fundamentalism". He went on to ask "whether we are not ineluctably progressing towards the situation when the centre cannot hold", "where things fall apart", and we face "the phenomenon of social conflict".

Having experienced this bombshell of denunciation of capitalism, the movement has to pick itself up and say "what now?". We have inherited a highly distorted form of capitalism with its legacy of racial inequality and concentrated economic power in white hands, and we claim to be a "liberation movement of the exploited and oppressed", indeed "a disciplined force of the Left", engaged in a "revolutionary project".

Yet, after twelve years of the ANC in power, South Africa remains one of the most divided countries in the world, with perhaps one of the highest proportions of unemployment, poverty and inequality which seem to persist despite major efforts of government to provide relief to the underprivileged either in the form of welfare grants, social wage or direct interventions.

A great deal of effort is being put into black economic empowerment (BEE) and affirmative action, which are designed to deracialise the economy, especially the commanding heights. But all this is occurring within the framework of the market economy, which means the effective exclusion of the majority of the historically exploited and oppressed.

Even these measures seem to be mere palliatives since of the 70 top earners only four are black and of the 157 most wealthy only nine are black. No doubt this is changing quite rapidly, but there is a long way to go. In any case, this process is producing exactly the kind of values Mbeki was condemning. And, just as importantly, there are few indications that the beneficiaries of this process of enrichment, and possibly some empowerment, are willing to support an attack on capitalist fundamentalism let alone capitalism as a system.

Instead we find a great deal of manipulation of the relationship between state and capital to extract as much benefit from the huge pile of state resources through the complex systems of tendering and procurement. The nasty head of crony capitalism is becoming ever more deeply entrenched as the exposures of the Auditor General and the Public Service Commission reveal (New Agenda, Issue 21, 2006).

It would seem that the movement must now call on the new middle strata to stand up and support the President in his urgent call for better values in the world of business and integrity in the public sector. There is something called "the public good" which needs constant reinforcement if it is to become the dominant value in our society.

But enough about ethics. What are the implications of the speech for the fundamental structure of our society?

Apartheid was a system of internal colonialism, characterised by the domination and exploitation of black people by white capital and the state, and serving the interests of white capital and whites generally. The allegiance of the white working class was obtained by means of special privileges of income and status. This means that an analysis of the role of the ANC must be based on a political economy approach, which embraces race and class concepts, and not simply on the system of race discrimination and oppression. One very important dimension is that the negotiated settlement in the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) left the economy in the control of the white minority.

Nevertheless, the establishment of the democratic state in which the ANC became the ruling party led to a total restructuring of political structures, including the steady increase of the presence and power of progressive forces in the diverse institutions of the state, as well as substantial shifts within the social order. Due to the opening of economic space, many blacks swelled the ranks of the middle strata and some rose into the ranks of the bourgeoisie and capitalist class.

A prospect has emerged of some unity in action of black and white workers on class issues, as in the miners strike in August 2005 where black and white unions struck jointly against the combined power of the gold mines. But the ANC has always had its base in the African working class and the poor masses and they remain the major component of the motive forces for change. The black middle strata also continue to be an important component of the national movement, as well as some elements of black business, although they are not equally articulate on the class interests of the poor.

The small number of blacks who managed to enter the ranks of the bourgeoisie proper can be divided into business people, top corporate managers, and public sector corporate managers. Their ascent has the effect of beginning to deracialise the exercise of economic power. But independent black capitalists are still relatively few.

There is clearly an effort by white capital to provide some space for black capital: a process which is encouraged by the policy of affirmative action and BEE, whereby the state provides substantial support to black business through tenders and procurement and the allocation of share capital in state-owned enterprises (New Agenda, Issue 22, 2006).

A major question arises as to whether this new black bourgeoisie and in particular its business components will advance the interests of the masses, or whether some components will become junior partners of white capital, which has become increasingly integrated into global capital. Alternatively, as it gains in strength, will black business develop its own identity as the core of a national bourgeoisie promoting progressive policies domestically and internationally?

The experience of decolonisation in most post-independence African countries is that colonial capital and the colonial state managed to create a comprador neocolonial class that abandoned the social and economic objectives of the national liberation movement. Will the same happen in South Africa? Or will the power of the ANC as a national movement continue to embrace all, or most, black people, irrespective of class location in the cause of overcoming white domination and establishing a non-racial democratic order which reduces the inherited inequalities and provides a decent life for all? That was at the heart of Mbeki`s speech.

In other words, will the ANC be able to sustain its character as a "disciplined force of the Left" with the primary motive force "the working class and the poor generally"? (Resolution of the ANC National General Council, 30 June 2005) Can this position be sustained within a capitalist economy? Especially one that is integrated into the world capitalist economy and subject to the same polarisation effects.

Much depends on the conduct of the ANC itself. Mbeki made an unusually strong critical statement on this subject at the National General Council (NGC) on 3 July 2005: "Our historic victory has put our movement into a position of political power. Since 1994, the 82nd year of the existence of our movement, our people have mandated us to assume the position of a ruling party. To be a ruling party means that we have access to state resources. It means that those who want to do business with the state have to interact with those who control state power, the members of our movement who serve in government."

"It means that those of us who serve in the organs of state have the possibility to dispense patronage. It therefore means that we have the possibility to purchase adherents, with no regard to the principles that are fundamental to the very nature of the African National Congress. All this makes control of state power a valuable asset. It makes membership of the ANC an easy route of access to state power. It makes membership of the ANC an attractive commercial proposition. It makes financial support for the ANC an investment for some of those who want to generate profits for themselves by doing business with government."

But whatever the prospects of potential distortion within the state system, there are other important dynamics in the socioeconomic system as a whole.

The disturbing feature of the present scenario is that with a Gini coefficient at 0.70, income inequalities remain the same, or even higher, as under apartheid when the Gini coefficient was 0.6 (1993). This means that the same degree of surplus extraction and/or economic exploitation of the masses remains in place (Turok 2005a).

Over the past ten years directors` fees have increased at an average rate of 29%, non-executive directors (where many blacks are now appointed) by 49%, while workers increased their incomes by 6.5% (Labour Research Service annual report 2004). Also, the conspicuous consumption of the black bourgeoisie indicates a strong propinquity to enjoy the same fruits as their white counterparts. There has been an "increase in black affluence - 41% of the affluent are now Africans" (Burger) while 60% of the middle class is now black (Hirsch).

Blacks are clearly joining the white elite, which is one of the wealthiest in the world. South Africa had 690 "ultra-high-gross-worth individuals in 2002 with assets totalling $30 million each. There are 25,000 dollar millionaires living in South Africa with $300 billion in private wealth.

Interestingly, the super-rich, people worth more than R200 million, has grown fourfold since 1994." (World Wealth Report 2003 and VIP Forum quoted in the Sunday Times, 9 May 2004).


The case for encouraging the emergence of a black business class is compelling. Under apartheid, blacks were denied any scope for capital accumulation by a maze of restrictive legislation, a lack of skills and education, no access to loans and job reservation for skilled whites. It is therefore logical that a national liberation movement should insist that space be created for black capitalists in the interests of deracialising the economy. Also, many of the leading personalities in black business were leading figures in the ANC and retain those links. The problem is that they come empty handed onto the field, they are "capitalists without capital".

After eight years of effort, black business had only captured between 1 and 4% of the shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (Southall 2005, p 461).

Nevertheless, this data hardly accords with the indications that a group of business people have amassed very substantial assets through a vigorous drive to acquire shareholdings in large companies. If they were to realise these assets they would have substantial funds in their bank accounts. On the other hand, white capital has always held a dominant position in the economy - in the 1980s six corporations controlled 70% of the total assets of non-state corporations, and this has changed little. Except that these same corporations now have an external reach that was not possible under apartheid. Five major corporations, Billiton, South African Breweries, Anglo American, Old Mutual and Dimension Data have moved their primary listings from Johannesburg to the London Stock Exchange. This has rendered their domestic assets now wholly or partly-owned subsidiaries of foreign companies (Southall 2005, p 460).

The case against the emergence of a strong black business class within the present system is that the economic legacy of colonial capitalism, rooted internally, remains in place. This system enabled white capital to gain enormous wealth and power through the extra-economic super-exploitation of forced cheap labour. Although the forced aspect of the system has gone, it remains extremely difficult to transform this system, and the economic and social dualism of the past remains structurally intact. Black business is operating within these structures and clearly benefits from the inherited capital-labour distortions.

One of the inescapable consequences is that black managers are paid the same financial rewards as their white counterparts, and sometimes a premium above the market rate, thereby expanding the size of the highly privileged bourgeoisie considerably. They are clearly part of the bourgeoisie by virtue of their location in the system of ownership and control of the means of production and by their incomes and lifestyle. They are therefore indirect beneficiaries of the economic dimensions of the apartheid legacy.

We have used the term `class` with some reservations. Classes are large groups of people distinguished by their location in a system of social production, and by their relation to the means of production. The evidence suggests that black business is still too small a group to be a class-in-itself or a class-for-itself, despite vigorous aspirations. Mbeki has actually criticised them for having become nothing more than rentier capitalists [who live off investment dividends but contribute little to productivity] (Southall 2003 p12).

Some argue that the present process is intrinsic to capitalism. On the other hand, others believe that it may be possible to continue with deracialising the economy without the creation of an affluent black business class distinguished by conspicuous consumption and wealth accumulation through non-productive means. Some measures suggested are: prevention of the abuse of state procurement, control of offloading shares in state enterprises, limits on funding by the National Empowerment Fund, and a requirement of commitments to social investment.

Black business has three options:

There are possibilities of some overlap on these options. Much depends on how black business sees its own role. Many articulate an entitlement ideology demanding the same opportunities as white capital: "If the whites can do it so can blacks." But this ignores the fact that white capital was based on super-exploitation and national oppression, and mimicking their status deprives the black bourgeoisie of legitimacy and any scope for a progressive role.

Although the private sector is large in South Africa, seemingly offering ample scope for entry by a dynamic group of black entrepreneurs, the leap to capitalist status is not easy. Most start by deal making to get a foot on the ladder of wealth accumulation. They are assisted by the openings offered by white business and by the black economic empowerment policies of the state. The latter is becoming an increasingly powerful weapon as many large firms fear that those who do not make the necessary transition to empowerment may endanger their own sustainability. They fear that they will not get their customary share of government procurement, and that even the private banks may decline lending. "Banks and other institutions will need to consider the risk of non-repayment when borrowers are not empowered."

(Business Day Survey, May 2005) A special report in Time magazine (6 June 2005) called `The New Rand Lords -Capitalists or Cronies?` states that there are now 100,000 whites earning $60,000 annually, but only 5,000 blacks. However in the past three years 300,000 blacks became middle-income earners (between $13,000 and $23,000 annually). This is because blacks have been promoted vigorously in state institutions and because private companies must be seen to comply with training blacks and appointing them to management positions if they wish to benefit from government contracts. According to Time magazine "the biggest companies offered to sell or grant equity stakes on favourable terms, often financed by the companies themselves, in return for connections, expertise and links to the black marketplace". However some of the new black business people assert that "none of the new black elite control any independent capital". The problem with this strategy is that most of the individuals involved land up in heavy debt since they have no capital to enter into these deals. Also, some become non-executive directors to collect fees, but have no real power to influence the companies as they are excluded from the inner circle running the companies.

However, notwithstanding the obstacles to capital accumulation, the mindset of enrichment and profit-making is growing rapidly, as Mbeki said. Even in the parastatal system profit is sometimes primary. Telkom CEO Sizwe Nxasana was perhaps more brazen than most when he said, "We are not apologetic about our profits, I`m in the business of making money; after all, we live in a capitalist society... It used to be acceptable that the white population made money. Are you now suggesting that black companies should be socialist while the rest of the world is capitalist?" (Mail & Guardian, 10 June 2005)

In the present mood that making money is a good thing, many political personalities with impeccable political credentials have moved into the private sector, followed by top public servants. They naturally retain their former political and family connections and clearly benefit from these associations in their new business roles (for details see Southall 2005 p475). Roger Southall comments: "The point about these connections is not, that they indicate corruption. However, what they do suggest is the fluidity, overlapping and intimacy of South Africa`s black elite, which is still relatively small, amongst whom linkages across political, state and business boundaries provide a constant flow of exchanges and illuminate a sense of community." (Ibid, p476)

Whether this constitutes a basis for the emergence of `crony capitalism` is still a subject for speculation. Certainly there are many instances of the use of opportunities provided by the state for accumulation in the private sector. The more important issue is whether the emergent business class is capable of becoming a dynamic productive capitalist class or whether it will be more akin to the state-dependent and kleptocratic class of post-independence Africa driven more by conspicuous consumption than by a culture of hard work and productive effort. Mbeki recently warned that "independent Africa has provided some of the worst global examples of the gross abuse of state power to enrich elites that control the levers of state power". (Speech in Parliament, 25 May 2005)

The ANC`s liberation strategy was based on an intersection of race and class forces that meant a combination of nationalist and class forces. It was argued that the working class was the most organised and determined with the most to gain and was therefore the leading force. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) now argues that the working class has lost representation in the decision-making institutions of the ANC and has therefore lost much space to remain the leading force in the movement.

Furthermore, the economy has remained capitalist with some of the main features of the past, namely the dual economy, and huge inherited inequalities. Many sections of the employed have improved their conditions and the social wage has increased substantially, but class contradictions and exploitation continue despite the removal of repressive labour legislation.

The dual economy structure is typical of colonial and post-colonial societies. In the "second economy" we find the poorest of the poor and marginalised people of such societies. Some of the workers in the formal economy are also among the poor.

However, to get a more balanced perspective, we have to compare the tasks facing the ANC during the struggle years to the many conflicting responsibilities facing it now:

A recent document states that "the ANC should aim to contribute to the restructuring of international relations in the interests of the poor" (Preface to Strategy and Tactics p25).


The complexity of these tasks has led to a debate about the nature of the motive forces in the present period. This debate must be seen in the context of how the ANC sees the character of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR): "The strategic objective of the NDR is the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. This, in essence, means the liberation of Africans in particular and Black people in general from political and economic bondage." (Strategy and Tactics, December 2002, p30)

It also refers to the "elimination of apartheid property relations", "the deracialisation of ownership and control of wealth, including land" and "the elimination of the legacy of apartheid super-exploitation and inequality, and the redistribution of wealth and income to benefit society as a whole, especially the poor."

To advance these objectives, the ANC has identified the motive forces as follows: "the black masses, those classes and strata that objectively and systematically stand to gain from the victory and consolidation of the NDR.

It identifies the working class and the poor - in both rural and urban areas - as the core of these forces... These motive forces include the black, emergent capitalist class whose interests are served not only by the formal democracy, but also by the programme to change apartheid property relations... At the same time, the ANC needs to win over...all other sections of South African society, including the white workers, the middle strata and the bourgeoisie."

At the same time it is acknowledged that these measures "will not eliminate the basic contradiction between capital and labour... Nor eradicate the disparate and sometimes contradictory interests that some of the motive forces of the NDR pursue. These secondary contradictions... must be properly managed." (The word secondary may be challenged.)

Finally, there is a stark warning about the new social forces: "[T]he rising black bourgeoisie and middle strata are objectively important motive forces of transformation whose interests coincide with at least the immediate interests of the majority." But some "are dictated to by foreign or local big capital on whom they rely for their advancement... without vigilance, elements of these new capitalist classes can become witting or unwitting tools of monopoly interests, or parasites who thrive on corruption in public office... Examples abound in many former colonies of massive disparities in the distribution of wealth and income between the new elite and the mass of the people."

This implies that we must distinguish between the primary motive forces, their social base, the expected allies, the neutralised forces and the enemy forces. The motive forces therefore consist of:

Perhaps the most elusive category at present is the black middle class. Many are located in the state apparatuses and steadily moving up the ladder with much blurring at the edges. Southall (2005) states that 29% of the middle class was African in 1994 while the figure for 2000 was around 50%. By 2005 the figure must be much higher. This category may be the primary beneficiaries of ANC rule.

Black personnel are now predominant throughout the top levels of the state system. This is most pronounced in government departments, with black women now also moving into top posts. But it is also highly visible in the parastatal system, which is now mostly in black control. Six of the nine directors on the development finance Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), 12 of 23 directors of defence industry Denel, 11 out of 15 directors of Eskom Holdings, and 9 out of 12 of electricity Eskom Enterprises are black. The same goes for Transnet, Telkom and SA Airways. These 15 state-owned enterprises deployed assets of R291bn in 2003. If we add the Public Investment Corporation (R450bn), this constitutes a massive presence in the economy. Interestingly, many of these directors have positions on the boards of private companies, creating an intricate web of cross influence (Southall 2005 p462).

However, a recent survey showed that black business has yet to enter the arena of manufacturing. There were 24 transactions in resources worth 58.3% of the total deal, while in manufacturing there were 13 deals worth 1.3% of the total deal. In basic industries there were two deals worth almost zero of the total (Ernst and Young).

The key issue is whether the black business class is capable of playing the kind of role that similar groups have played in other developing countries.

This includes promoting an economic strategy that boosts internal demand, promotes domestic industrial capacity and combines employment growth with redistribution (Southall 2005c). There are few indications that South Africa`s black business class has lined up behind such policies.

To conclude, we return to a comparison of the role of the domestic bourgeoisie in post-independence Africa and the situation in post-apartheid South Africa. In both cases, a sizable local bourgeois class emerged within a decade of liberation. However, in the rest of Africa, this class was a creation of departing colonial powers that sought to maintain their economic power by indirect means in a system of neocolonialism. In other words, they were intrinsically comprador and parasitic. By contrast, in South Africa apartheid resisted the emergence of a black bourgeoisie till the very end.

Hence, apart from some artificial measures in the bantustans, no comprador class was in existence in 1994.

This is a vital difference, which enabled the ANC to mobilise across a broad front of actual and aspirant classes and maintain the unity of the oppressed. This was one of the major consequences of a system of internal colonialism compared to the more usual colonial rule.

But the situation is changing rapidly. Now that the mechanisms of internal colonialism have been broken by the removal of white political rule, the abolition of the pass laws and the many laws of discrimination, a more "normal" capitalist system is emerging, with all the contradictions of class becoming visible. However this "normal" capitalism still faces a social structure rooted in the previous system of colonialism and underdevelopment.

Our remedial measures are unlikely to be similar to those of developed "normal" capitalism. Can the ANC government regulate our capitalism so that all benefit? Will the ANC be able to "manage" the system so that we remove the obscene inequalities, poverty and joblessness that are still so pervasive? Mbeki`s warning about the consequences of things falling apart is highly relevant.

* Ben Turok is an ANC Member of Parliament.


2005 African National Congress, "Strategy and Tactics", National General Council Resource Pack Volume One, 29 June-3 July 2005.

2004 Ernst & Young. Data supplied in answer to Parliamentary Question no 951, 2004.

2004 Alan Hirsch. Paper for Conference "Overcoming Underdevelopment in SA`s Second Economy" Pretoria November 2004.

2004 R Burger, S van der Berg, "Emergent Black Affluence and Social Mobility in Post-Apartheid South Africa". Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town.

2004 Roger Southall "The ANC and Black Capitalism in South Africa". Review of Africa Political Economy No 100:313-328.

2005a Roger Southall "Black Empowerment and Corporate Capital" in J Daniel, R Southall, and J Lutchman, State of the Nation, South Africa 2004-5, HSRC Press.

2005b Roger Southall "Political Change and the Black Middle Class in Democratic South Africa". Mimeo.

2005c Roger Southall "Can South Africa be a Developmental State" Mimeo.

2006 New Agenda, S A Journal of Social and Economic Policy, Nos 21 and 22.

2005a Ben Turok "Promoting Production in the Second Economy" . New Agenda, SA Journal of Social and Economic Policy, No 18 2005.

2005b Turok. "The Congress of the People, 1955". New Agenda, SA Journal of Social and Economic Policy. No 18 2005.

1999 Ben Turok "Beyond the Miracle. Development and Economy in South Africa". University of Western Cape.

1993 Ben Turok "Development and Reconstruction in South Africa" Institute For African Alternatives. South Africa.

Towards policies that promote a caring society

Values of cohesion, human solidarity and equity are widely found among South Africa`s people. However, it will take deliberate measures by the state in both policy design and implementation to translate these into shared values that guide all aspects social behaviour, writes Khehla Shubane.

It is trite to observe that the ANC has concluded that ours will be a society organised around the pursuit of free enterprise.1 No one has objected to this strategic view, not even the South African Communist Party (SACP), which seeks to build a socialist future in South Africa. There have been what amounts to quibbles about calibrating the chosen economic system to benefit working and poor people. The idea of building socialism, even in the view of the SACP, is a task that should be left for the future.

In the view of the ANC, save for a few matters that require further attention, economic policies are broadly on track to achieve stated objectives. The party, together with its allies, is however troubled by the stubbornly high levels of, and enduring, unemployment. The ANC has not missed a moment to express its distress at the resulting poverty.

Various policy measures are at different stages of conceptualisation, debate and implementation to ease the burden on those affected by unemployment. An opinion shared by most about how this problem could be resolved focuses on a range of interventions including growing the economy, providing the requisite skills and increasing efficiencies in the economy.

In the 4th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture President Thabo Mbeki noted among numerous other things that greed has gripped South African society; the practice of pursuing accumulation above all else and at all costs is driving a section of the population to accumulate ever-increasing assets. This practice is born, he further argues, of assimilating capitalist values that characterised accumulation under apartheid. It is also a problem that has been identified elsewhere as market fundamentalism - reducing complex social, economic and political problems to the dictates of the market.

Everything has to be viewed by whether or not it has a market value.

The ascendancy of greed, Mbeki asserted, smothers social cohesion and blocks mutually beneficial human solidarity. Human relations are reduced to market relations. Values of the entire society suffer untold harm in an environment in which greed has been allowed to take a pole position.

It is difficult to quarrel with this conclusion. Instances of avaricious accumulation are everywhere to be seen. It is as if, as Mbeki argues, the demons are hard at work pushing people to accumulate even more. Incentives for this behaviour are embedded in policies that the government has crafted.

To blunt these incentives perhaps a question should be whether attention has been given to whether South Africa has defined values around which the entire society can cohere?

This exercise has yet to be deliberately undertaken. But there is no shortage of values in the society by which many live their lives and these can easily be woven into popular values. Many people and institutions have contributed greatly to the society and their contribution could be a starting point for constructing values that could guide the society.


As the country grapples with the complex problem of building a new future for all, it has to contend with the values that are simultaneously being created to sustain the project of a future in which all have a stake.

Whatever future the population desires, it will have to be underpinned by values to which members of the society adhere. All societies have these; they are about the only thing about which generalisation about any society can correctly be made. It is for instance correct that private property is a value deeply embedded in the United States. The observation that the Swedes deeply dislike inequality is also correct.

Probably as a result of the divided past from which South Africa is emerging, the matter of values which are embraced by all has not received the attention it should. In the short time during which the country has moved away from racially defined access to power, clearly good values have emerged, some from the past, which form a basis of what might be built into a set of values capable of being embraced by all. South Africa has loads of values that are embraced by local people and the values they uphold are well known by even the least educated within the society.

These include values of perseverance, sticking to principle even in the face of overwhelming odds, magnanimity, inclusiveness, putting the collective interests ahead of personal interests, and treating your adversaries with respect. These values are not foreign to South Africa. They are the values by which Nelson Mandela, for example, has conducted his life.

Values of hard work are everywhere to be seen in this society and have marked the development of our society for long. Mamphele Ramphele beat formidable odds through sheer hard work. Charles van Onselen displayed determination and worked hard to emerge as arguably the best South African historian of our time. Both individuals were not brought up in families steeped in academia.

Many of our compatriots have displayed remarkable courage. Steve Biko dared to say no when opposition voices had been silenced. Braam Fischer, despite his comfortable upbringing and a relatively cosy future, stood up for his brothers and sisters even though he knew he was up against formidable power.

South African Breweries is a company that successfully took on the world.

Innovation abounds in South Africa. Chris Barnard`s achievement must stand as a monument to what is possible even from this far flung corner of the world and that innovative thinking is not a monopoly of western society.

Collectively, the financial industry in South Africa is as good as any in the world. While South African financial markets may not be as deep as those of say the US, the ability to innovate is no less deep here than it is anywhere else. Companies in other sectors have shown too that geographical location is irrelevant to building strong companies that compete globally.

Trevor Manuel has given leadership to managing the fiscal affairs of the country that is second to none, showing in the process that state finances are not rocket science. Africans too can deal with these supposedly complex matters. He has applied himself diligently to the task at hand and has kept a fine balance between austere measures and expansive spending which has not left the poor behind.

The Sotho idiom `lebetla la tlala ha leyo` expresses a deep commitment to others. Trade unions have rallied around a cry `an injury to one is an injury to all`. Beyers Naude`s commitment to other human beings must count as a high water mark in solidarity with other people. Yusuf Dadoo could not look the other way when his fellow human beings faced debilitating oppression.

The country`s constitution embodies values which must surely represent the best humanity can aspire to. Those who drafted the constitution surely must have considered if the ideals they incorporated into the constitution reflected the values of the society and, with the agreement of a vast majority of the population, answered the question in the affirmative.

These are values that arise from diverse South Africans and are consistent with traditional practices of all communities. Why is it difficult to fashion the collective values of the society around these well-entrenched practices?

If it is historical antecedents that provide firm foundation for societal values, South Africa will not be found wanting. Nothing has to be imported to construct solid values that will define cohesion, human solidarity and equity in the society.

Government will have to play a leading role in leading society towards the definition and, more importantly, the embrace by all of these values. But government leaders at all tiers of government have been singularly lacking in imagination about charting a clear path to social values of solidarity and equity. At times, they have seemed far too concerned with the number of their bodyguards and how expensive the car they drive is. Waving from the comfort of their cars has at times seem far more important to them than identifying with the people they serve.


Threats to social cohesion emanate not from greed alone; there are a number of other causes of it including a fair presence in society of vain individuals who wantonly pursue greed. There is no reason though why the country should have more of such individuals than other societies where greed has not derailed attempts to achieve objectives set by policymakers that are good for the entire society. Thus, with the greedy group in society the country should be able to succeed in creating values by which it wants to live.

Other sources that undermine social cohesion besides greed can be traced to many activities some of which are viewed as innocuous by those who practice them. Only a few are discussed below. The lifestyle the elite lead generally surely contributes to the lust for `a good life` among many. This lifestyle appears comfortable and many desire it, but often without thinking about the means required to finance it.

Though there is less of this than in the wake of the elections in 1994, the phalanx of bodyguards around leading political figures is difficult to understand, let alone justify. Even when it is taken into consideration that political leaders have a generally higher level of awareness of security threats, there is no discernable threat in the environment that justifies a large number of guards who make their presence felt around people they guard. Perhaps if the guards were discreet without compromising the security of the person they are protecting they would not be such a visible part of the life of members of the political elite.

People in this category seem to go out of their way to use the most expensive and chauffer driven cars when less expensive but comfortable vehicles could just be as fine. The use of chauffeurs, though it too has declined, also appears to be out of proportion with what is reasonable. Some black people in the private sector have been seen in chauffer-driven vehicles too. This is definitely excessive and there is no explanation for it other than a desire to keep up with their counterparts in the public service who adhere to these practices because trappings of power are nice to pursue in and of themselves.

The definite purpose this lifestyle serves is to set the elite apart from the rest. This too serves no useful purpose other than to create a mystique around the elite. It is in the ensuing gap that social cohesion is undermined. The social distance created by guards and luxury cars kills human solidarity. A move to exclusive suburbs and, at times, gated communities completes the isolation the elite seek.

At least the political elite make the occasional appearance during election campaigns in poor areas. In contrast, the business elite is hardly ever seen in these areas except when they make an appearance at family gatherings in the townships where they grew up.

Aspects of black economic empowerment (BEE) also engender a gap between the elite and non-elite. While BEE is necessary to ensure a black business class is brought into being as swiftly as possible, there is no reason, to take one example related to this objective, that explains why BEE companies that have built strong balance sheets continue to benefit from the equity element of the scorecard. The purpose of BEE surely must be to create companies with an ability to participate in business. Once this is achieved no further reason exists for such companies to participate in transactions as if they did not have capital that could be used to further their commercial benefit.

Failure to curb this invites the criticism that BEE is concerned with benefiting only a handful of people who have already benefited manifold from BEE anyway.

The success of BEE must surely be measured, inter alia, by the ability of the empowered weaning themselves from state assistance. It cannot be that black business will forever require help from policymakers of the kind that the equity element affords them. If black business is unable to wean itself from government help that is so direct as the equity element, then the entire BEE exercise is reduced to a farce.

White business demonstrated that while they required state assistance to start off, on the whole they have proved their ability to compete without this help. It is not much to expect black business to do the same.

In some ways it cannot be helped if BEE companies benefit from the preferential procurement element. After all, policy is structured such that all companies should be able to benefit from this element. By concluding an empowerment transaction all companies should be equal in this regard and BEE should not privilege any company more than the rest. It would be imposing a huge burden on companies procuring goods from other companies to require of them to determine if the company they are procuring from has a strong balance sheet or not.

In some circles, BEE has been interpreted as open season for accumulation with little thought given to building sustainable businesses. This is not without sound reason. Some actively seek to use the BEE vehicle to accumulate as much as they can without any intention of assuming any risk beyond gaining assets. This is clearly not in line with the intentions of policymakers. Accumulation in the context of building new enterprises is a key objective of BEE. This is why the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) argues that BEE is, among other things, a part of the broader growth strategy government is pursuing. Limiting it to the equity element reduces it to a good retirement strategy for those who benefit from BEE transactions. It would be a huge improvement if the policy were tweaked to make this aspect clearer. It would shift the considerable focus on equity to the enterprise development element, and it would put the emphasis where it should be - building sustainable businesses by black entrepreneurs.

Emphasising one element, as has tended to happen in the last while, is limiting the vast possibilities BEE. In another ten years it will be sad if those who evaluate BEE conclude that it served merely to create a number of black shareholders. It would be a lot more exciting if the conclusion will be that it served to spur the creation of new businesses and a large black business class.

Strategists from BEE companies with strong balance sheets should also realise they are shooting themselves in the foot by placing their companies in line for more transactions when they could easily participate in corporate action that is not underpinned by the equity element of BEE. While no limits should be placed on the extent to which any company could grow, the population is entitled to place a limit on the extent to which a company relying on as explicit a policy as the equity element of BEE could grow using that policy. Policy makers and the public are well within their rights to demand that others benefit too from policy that seeks to create a black business class.

Failure to invest in entities that provide public consumption goods encourages a desire to accumulate wealth to privately provide for those needs that could easily be provided by facilities geared to serve the public. Good and well-managed public institutions have the advantage of being meeting places for both the poor and the well off; they work to destroy the walls created by unequal access to money with which to fund goods and services supplied by these entities.

South Africa has a poor record of investing in public facilities to serve the majority. The white population was well served by good public hospitals and other facilities. In the current period, these facilities have struggled to provide the same level of service to all who now are entitled to use them. Many institutions that were well looked after in the past are showing clear signs of decay, in part because they are ill-prepared to serve the many often poor people who seek the services of these institutions.

Public hospitals and schools are fast acquiring an image as bad providers of services. The growth of the private medical insurance industry is partly a result of the poor service provided at public health facilities. Schools of the quality of Healdtown, Inkamane, Mariazell and Pex do not exist anymore.

Constraints of Bantu education did not prevent these centres from providing a good education. The collapse of these schools has been especially hard on poor families who are without the means to enrol their children at private schools. But they have also put pressure on some to accumulate as quickly as possible to fund education at private schools.

Investing in public facilities should not be viewed as limited to a monetary investment, though this is important. More importantly, it should include investing in the people to manage institutions. What would be the point of building the best school if it does not have the teachers to go with it? The latter is often the most critical investment that far outstrips the look of the buildings. It is in this area in the main that the country is failing.

Neglecting investing in entities that supply public consumption goods also encourages the private sector to supply these goods to people who can afford the fees payable. This has a negative effect on social cohesion. Without discouraging private sector investment in any entity supplying whatever goods and services it wishes, the public, through the state, should make an effort to create public entities that can ensure people will not be denied any good or service for reasons to do with poverty.

An even scarier development is the wholesale scrapping of defined benefit funds for many beneficiaries in private employment. While the explanation is understandable, the consequences are devastating on the ability for people to fund what they require to live.

With many people living longer, available pension provisions are simply inadequate for the key needs to maintain health for many people. A meagre state pension is all many have and is demonstrably inadequate for its beneficiaries.

The left dabbles with fancy ideological positions that make those who make these arguments look very clever when there are practical achievable solutions to this problem. Social democracy in Sweden, operating as it does in the same global market place as any other country, has sustained a generous social support system for those who can no longer work. Instead of exploring such outcomes, left wing thinkers have practically abandoned the poor in favour of pure but meaningless theoretical posturing.

Inequalities resulting from high levels of unemployment, low pay for many people in employment and inadequate pension ensure that social cohesion is but a dream in South Africa. The gini coefficient (which is a measure of inequality) within the black community is said to have worsened since 1994; it is now higher than 0.6.2 Though this should not surprise anyone it points to a trend which should receive urgent attention from policy makers. What must have created this huge gap are the outliers at the top end of earners.

There were no blacks who participated in the higher reaches of management some ten years ago. Remuneration at these levels is in the millions. With the increasing numbers of blacks employed in managerial positions the high salaries they receive increase the average pay blacks receive and they should also explain the widening gap between the lowest and the highest paid.

It should be borne in mind that this has unfolded in circumstances in which social security expenditure has exploded. Many more individuals receive one or another social security payment than was the case in the past. Though this does not cover everyone without pay, it goes some way in reducing the numbers of indigent people. The effect this has on calculating average pay is to reduce the number of people without any pay and thus contributes to a higher average pay for blacks. What it does not do is obliterate the outliers on the low side of the pay scale. It is when these are compared with the highest that the gini coefficient is so appalling.

It is impossible for people earning the high salaries of executives to ever identify with people who earn very little or nothing at all. The two groups are as different as people drawn from different countries. Social cohesion has to rest on the basis that society gives some assurance that there is a floor below which no one will be allowed to fall. The monthly state pension of R820 does not do that. For very poor individuals it provides welcome relief but it is woefully inadequate.

South Africa does not have the resources to fund welfare on a scale disadvantage suggests it should. There are too many people in poverty in the country. The amount available is spread so thin that those who receive it must rely on other help, often from families, or starve. In addition, South Africa faces the challenges that have forced European countries to cut back on their welfare commitments.

Within existing constraints though the country should redouble its efforts to ensure that it defines a minimum below which no individual should be allowed to fall and work to find resources to keep to the commitment which will arise from this exercise.3 Once defined, this process will present problems of its own, which would have to be sorted out.

Greed is obviously present in the environment. There are indeed people in our midst who are driven by it. It is often present in programmes that are desirable, such as BEE. Not all accumulation though is reducible to greed.

Perhaps what this suggests is that policies must always be examined for their effect on society; inevitably many of them will have consequences that are not intended. It is not hard to imagine a policy that achieves what it was designed for and at the same time have negative consequences on social cohesion.

What evidence is available suggests the state has not taken existing values in South Africa and deliberately nurtured these into shared social values.

Indeed officers of the state have, by their behaviour, displayed the very traits that encourage greed and negative values. Good values are deliberately cultivated; they are just not embraced by the population out of the goodness of people`s hearts. In other cases the state has displayed timidity in exploring policies that can promote a caring society which will require good values and will in turn advance them.

* Khehla Shubane is Chief Executive Officer of the BusinessMap Foundation.


  1. ANC. The Reconstruction and Development Programme pp78 and 79. In this document, the ANC argues, "neither a commandist central planning system nor an unfettered free market system can provide adequate solutions to the problems confronting us".
  2. See Herbst, Jefferey `Mbeki`s South Africa` See p99 in Foreign Affairs Nov/Dec 2005. He discusses the matter as it relates to the entire population rather than to blacks only. Others, see for example The Institute of Race Relations, The South Africa Survey 2003/2004 p173, have pointed to a worse measure of inequality among Africans only.
  3. Hutton, W. The World We`re In. Chapter 9 pp298-322 of this book discusses some of the issues which South Africa might consider in building a caring society.

Black economic empowerment and the vision of the Freedom Charter

While black economic empowerment seeks to influence change within a capitalist order associated with inequality and exploitation, it is nevertheless contributing to the realisation of the economic vision of the Freedom Charter, writes Jerry Vilakazi.

"The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people;
The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole; All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the well being of the people;
All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions."

Freedom Charter, 1955

Inspired and guided by the vision of economic emancipation of the Freedom Charter, the democratic government has inaugurated a host of policy and legislative measures, including broad-based black economic empowerment (BEE), to reduce the levels of economic deprivation and inherited disparities of wealth and income.

However, BEE has recently been subjected to numerous criticisms that have prompted some critics to question the effectiveness of BEE as a vehicle for effecting the deracialisation of economic ownership envisioned in the Freedom Charter. The criticism comes from both within our own movement and from forces that are opposed to our national democratic revolution. This latter criticism is characterised by the tendency to praise and celebrate white success while demonising the success of black entrepreneurs.

This article examines the interplay between BEE and the vision of economic emancipation articulated in the Freedom Charter. In particular, the article sheds light on some fundamental questions informing the ongoing dialogue and debate on whether or not BEE contributes to the kind of society envisaged in the Freedom Charter.

The ANC and its alliance partners have always held that for our political democracy and non-racialism to succeed, there must be economic empowerment and transformation that benefits the black majority. Against this background, debates on BEE have always been welcome and encouraged. Within the alliance partners the debate on BEE has assessed, and at times, challenged the effectiveness of BEE primarily on the basis of its impact on the poor and the working class.

There is broad consensus between the ANC and its alliance partners on the substance of BEE. There is also consensus that BEE must ultimately ensure that the black majority own the country`s wealth in accordance with the Freedom Charter. However, what is at stake in the debate are the results that the BEE policy have yielded, which have tended to create economic prosperity for a few, instead of the black majority. While this may be a valid observation, the challenge is not how do we stop the success and prosperity of the few entrepreneurs, but how do we accelerate the process of creating a critical mass of empowered blacks.

The alternative society envisioned by the Freedom Charter is a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa. To facilitate this, the Freedom Charter comprises, among others, social, economic, political and legal goals. While the economic goals of the Charter must be seen in the context of the overall objective of the document, it is somewhat unrealistic to expect BEE, which primarily seeks to promote non-racial and non-sexist economic prosperity, to address the multiplicity of goals articulated in the Charter. Those who argue for the dilution of company ownership in the name of broad-based empowerment when they actually refer to broad-based ownership are doing a disservice to our cause. That is why in some sectors we are now seeing a tendency to form broad-based employee share schemes that even ignore employee investment companies to perpetuate white control at operational and board levels.

Our point of departure is that BEE is not a panacea to all the socials ills confronting our society. Rather, BEE is one of many policy instruments designed to restore, through its multifaceted approach to empowerment, the economic heritage of black people.

While the design of the current BEE policy does not resonate with the revolutionary underpinnings of economic change envisaged in the Freedom Charter (ie. nationalisation), its desired outcomes accord with the economic goals the Freedom Charter had intended to accomplish from the outset.

It is too simplistic to argue that BEE does not contribute to the kind of society envisaged by the Freedom Charter simply because of its strategic deviation from the revolutionary underpinnings of economic change originally envisaged in the Charter.

Black economic empowerment is contributing to the realisation of the economic vision of the Charter, though its implementation has been fraught with contradictions. We must accept the consequences of the policy choices we have made to reconstruct and develop our post-apartheid economy, and devise innovative means to deal with the unintended consequences generated by our policy choices.

Black economic empowerment constitutes an integral part of South Africa`s economic growth and development strategy, which is capitalist in character.

While capitalist development has often lead to higher levels of economic growth, it has also been associated with inequalities, poverty and marginalisation of the majority.

Our discourse on the economic emancipation of the oppressed needs to take these realities into consideration and to explore effective means through which the benefits of BEE could be shared, within the constraints imposed by our economic order, among a broad base of enterprises and individuals.

This requires us, first and foremost, to understand the historical origins of economic dispossession and disempowerment of the indigenous people. This is so because the third clause of the Freedom Charter, and the BEE policy which gives effect to its contents, represents a specific response to a specific set of conditions engendered by the economic dispossession and disempowerment of the indigenous people.


Entrepreneurship and trade, the foundation of modern business, have always formed an integral part of black people`s ways of life. Even before whites settled in South Africa, black people were engaged in a variety of successful entrepreneurial activities to accumulate wealth, which included, among other things, the cultivation of various crops, the rearing of cattle, sheep and other stock, the manufacture of some iron tools and pottery, and the tanning of animal hides for clothing.

However, the brutal dispossession and expropriation of black people`s sources of productive wealth unleashed by colonialism ushered in the implementation of numerous repressive laws that militated against the development of viable and sustainable entrepreneurial activities among black people. These laws also relegated blacks to peripheral economic activities, what today constitute the bulk of `second economy`.

These repressive laws were a direct response to the enthusiasm with which black entrepreneurs embraced the development of the market economy in South Africa, which was fuelled by the discovery of minerals. The development of the market economy created an insatiable demand for agricultural and other products in towns. This demand for agricultural products gave impetus to the rise of a very successful class of black peasants who supplied towns with agricultural products, wool and other commodities.

However, the success with which black peasants captured the agricultural product market posed a formidable competition to the nascent white farmers.

Moreover, the economic independence enjoyed by blacks due to their access to land and other forms of productive wealth made it difficult, if not impossible, for employers to induce blacks to consider taking up wage employment in mines, farms and other emerging sectors of the economy.

Therefore to help white farmers and miners to overcome the threat posed by black people`s economic independence, the colonial governments made decisive legislative interventions to deal with black people`s access to land and other sources of productive wealth.

These culminated in the passage of legislative measures that limited the amount of land that a black household could own, and the imposition of various taxes that could only be paid in cash. One major effect of these repressive interventions was to push blacks en masse to towns where they, besides being turned into a source of cheap labour, were subjected to various forms of racism within and beyond the workplace.

At the same time, the rapid urbanisation of blacks precipitated by the industrialisation of the economy provided new business opportunities for black entrepreneurs in towns. However, like the black working class, black entrepreneurs encountered numerous forms of racism that tended to both undermine and restrict their entrepreneurial activities in towns.

With the coming into power of the National Party with its apartheid programme, racial repressive laws against blacks were intensified. This not >only resulted in, among others, denying black workers the right to form or join trade unions but in stripping blacks of, and denying them an opportunity to accumulate, assets. It denied them access to skills, prevented them from playing any meaningful role in major companies and severely reduced the possibility of blacks starting their own enterprises.

The protracted struggles waged by the black people against these forms of economic injustice and all the other forms of deprivation endured by blacks provided a fertile ground for unity among the oppressed, which ultimately forced the apartheid government to enter into negotiations with the ANC.

These negotiations led to the ANC coming into power in 1994.


The ANC-led government inherited a society characterised by vast racial and gender inequalities in the distribution of and access to wealth, income, skills and employment. The economic conditions whose eradication the Freedom Charter had called for in 1955 had not simply disappeared.

Black economic empowerment became one of the main vehicles for transferring economic ownership to blacks. Empowerment is necessary because there was disempowerment in the past. This was a racially based process. Hence BEE takes on a racial character.

In essence, BEE is government`s response to dispossession of black people over an extended period of time by successive white governments. The basis of white domination in South Africa was, among other things, the denial of capital accumulation by black people.

However, the early model of BEE that emerged in the 1990s was of limited economic benefit to the black majority due to its over-emphasis on equity ownership. As a result, the government has introduced legislation and regulations to accelerate and broaden the economic benefits accruing from BEE processes and transactions. The way the new legislation and regulations on empowerment are structured is intended to counter measures that underpinned colonial and apartheid processes of economic dispossession.

Concerns with the early model of BEE that emerged in the 1990s lead some critics, from both sides of the ideological divide, to a spurious conclusion that BEE had lost its strategic direction, as it had allegedly become an instrument for enriching "a small black elite with political connections with the ANC". This criticism has ushered in the `enrichment vs empowerment` debate.

However, this debate about `enrichment vs empowerment` is misleading. The debate fails to appreciate that empowerment is a multi-dimensional process that includes, among other things, promoting asset ownership among blacks, increasing the skills of blacks by a variety of means, and increasing control by blacks over significant assets.

The central question was recently raised by President Thabo Mbeki at the 4th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture, which is whether there can be co-existence of the values of the capitalist market - almost always driven by individual profit maximisation and greed - and the values of human solidarity that bind us as a coherent society.

Colonialism, apartheid and other forms of racially based programmes, though specifically formulated to ensure racially exclusive privilege, were never able to create mass wealth among beneficiaries. These programmes succeeded in creating a relatively privileged group among whites. Only a few among them were able to accumulate wealth to the extent of being financially independent.

It is for this reason that BEE will not be able to achieve mass black wealth. In all likelihood, if successful it will create a handful -relative to the vast majority who are unlikely to gain huge benefits - of financially independent individuals. Our economy does need those individuals. We should collectively reject the attempts to demonise black success, especially when it is our struggle heroes who are the perpetual targets of vicious attacks from those who want us to believe that it is okay to have white billionaires but not morally right to have black billionaires.

The key fact is that white capital was built through the exploitation of our people and what we should avoid is the rise of black capital at the expense of the black majority through the greed and corruption against which Mbeki has consistently warned. Legitimate wealth creation, even within our own ranks, should be encouraged and supported, as it will strengthen our access to key resources needed to rebuild our country. We also need to recognise and support the key role that our new business elite and captains of industry, who emerged from the historical battles of our national democratic revolution, can play side by side with the poor and the working class of our country. The struggle for the realisation of the Freedom Charter has always been inclusive and cannot be fought within the terrain of exclusivity within our own social ranks. As much as we have rejected sexism, racism and ethnicity, we should reject the notion of separation by class if it seeks to divide us in the unified struggle for economic justice and transformation The economic vision set out in the Charter is yet to be fully realised. Our society is still characterised by poverty, economic marginalisation and vast racial and gender inequalities in the distribution of and access to wealth, income, skills and employment.

However, this does not mean that BEE does not contribute to the kind of society envisaged by the Freedom Charter. Black economic empowerment is contributing to the realisation of the economic vision of the Charter, though its implementation has been fraught with contradictions.

Black economic empowerment is not a panacea to all the social ills confronting our society. Centuries of exploitation cannot be reversed by just twelve years of empowerment initiatives. We must accept the consequences of the policy choices we have made to reconstruct and develop our post-apartheid economy, and devise innovative means to deal with the unintended consequences generated by our policy choices.

Black economic empowerment is capitalist in character and seeks to influence change within a capitalist order. We therefore have to be cognisant and supportive of the multitude of interventions by government to counter the negative effects of a capitalist economy which, while leading to higher levels of wealth, has also been associated with inequality, poverty and marginalisation of the majority.

* Jerry Vilakazi is the Chief Executive Officer of Business Unity SA and former Secretary of the ANC Rivonia Branch.

Striving for gender equality in the labour market

The struggle for gender equality and women`s empowerment is central to our transformation. Despite the advances, significantly more progress is required, particularly in the classrooms and workplaces of South Africa, writes Andy Brown.

South African society continues to grapple with all forms of gender discrimination, sexism and patriarchy. This is mostly prevalent in households, in classrooms and in the workplace. While this impacts on all women, black women experience exclusion and discrimination based on their gender, race and class position. This is the case despite the ANC government`s efforts to implement institutional and policy reforms to address these inequalities.

The struggle for gender equality and women`s empowerment is central to our transformation. This principle is enshrined in Section 9 of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of South Africa, which not only protects women`s rights, but also explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.

South Africa has also committed itself to the third Millennium Development Goal: to achieve gender equality and women`s empowerment.

Setting targets and changing the profile of classrooms and workplaces is critical. However, this in itself is not sufficient. True gender equality will only be achieved if we work towards eradicating patriarchy. To do so a gendered perspective should be applied to all policies and processes. A gendered perspective looks at fundamentally transforming unequal power relations and recognises that gender inequality manifests itself beyond access to opportunities. It is prevalent in the relationships, values, attitudes and in institutions and structures in the social, political and economic spheres.

In this article we consider progress in gender equality in certain aspects of the economic sphere, focusing on access to education and employment. We argue that while there is increasing opportunity and access, black women continue to be under-represented, under-employed and under-valued. This suggests that concerted efforts should be made to implement substantive change in the economic sphere, through quantitative and qualitative interventions aimed at eradicating patriarchy and gender bias. These efforts will have little success unless similar change occurs in the social and political sphere.

Addressing gender inequality is also an economic imperative. Research indicates that gender inequality in education and gender bias in employment has a direct impact on economic growth. Gender inequality in access to education and resources lowers the average quality of human capital and limits the income generating capability of a substantial portion of the population. Higher levels of education among women will thus impact positively on household incomes and result in higher productivity. One study demonstrated that in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa gender inequality may have reduced growth by 0.3% and, further, that gender differences between the poorest quartile and the richest quartile of countries by per capita income are evident. In the poorest countries, 5.4% of adult women have some secondary education, compared to 11.6% of adult males. In the richest countries, the comparable figures are 50.8% of women and 57.9% of men.1

The ANC government`s commitment to the promotion of gender equality has been demonstrated by the establishment of institutions and the drafting of key policy and legislative measures, including:


There are signs of increased access of black females to formal education.

All indicators show that there are improvements in black females graduating from secondary into tertiary education. However, the numbers are very low and it is not necessarily an indication of success in tertiary education, further education and training or in the labour market. While the participation of Africans in education has increased, African women have, on average, significantly lower levels of education compared to all other groups.

In primary and secondary education, enrolment and achievement rates of black females reflect much greater equity. Although, females are increasingly performing better than males at school, few continue to degree level.

With regard to matric qualifications, African females showed an increase of 5.9% from 1996 to 2001, though this was lower in the post-matric category (2.8%). Within the coloured community, the female percentage for matric increased by 10% compared with males at 8.3%.3 In 2004, more females than males wrote matric exams although the male pass rate was higher. There remain low numbers of black people passing maths and physical sciences at higher grade in matric and even lower for black females. This significantly limits options in higher education.4 Formerly white schools now have greater levels of attendance by black learners, but there are insignificant levels of attendance by white, coloured and Indian learners into formerly African schools.5 Inequities remain in the capacity and resources of formerly African schools and consequently in the quality of the education. Household and societal conditions also have an impact on the ability of students in under-developed areas to keep pace with schooling.

Research indicates that approximately 5% of the population aged 22 and above has higher education, with black women constituting the smallest percentage, despite some progress in the numbers of black women who are graduating. In 2001, 33.5% of university and technikon qualifications were awarded to black women and more than half to women.6 These findings are corroborated by research conducted by the Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE), which indicates an increase in black women graduates at almost 8% per annum, significantly boosting the overall increase of black graduates (in 2004 70% of graduates were black).

Despite the increase in the number of black women, choice of field of study and lower levels of progression into postgraduate level place black women at a disadvantage when seeking employment. Enrolment into certain fields remains predominantly white and male, especially engineering, sciences and technology.7 The Labour Force Survey (LFS) September 2006 reinforces these findings, demonstrating that among discouraged work-seekers two out of three women are considered discouraged work-seekers, compared to one in three males.

For those black women who are employed, the benefits of workplace training are limited. Many firms continue to view skills development requirements as merely a new tax. Levy paying participation rates are around 65.5%, with only 10.4% of levy paying firms participating in the levy grant system.

Training tends to be used for upgrading the skills base of existing employees in their current occupations and workplaces, or for routine or technical requirements.8 It is difficult to assess the impact of workplace training, as the recording of skills spend is inadequate in relation to type of training and on who it is spent, with companies only now beginning to record training spend in terms of gender and race. The emphasis in the BEE Codes that a portion of spend should be targeted towards black women should help. More importantly, learnerships and apprenticeships that are encouraged by the codes, if focused on black women, may provide the vital link between secondary or tertiary education and the labour market.


Across all aspects of the workplace and in the labour market black women continue to be under-represented. Black women are the most affected by unemployment and under-employment; black women dominate the least remunerative, less skilled jobs and find themselves more and more as casual workers. The following trends provide some indication of this situation9:

Agriculture, mining and construction sectors are the worst performers in terms of representation of black women in management categories, with an average representation of 2% black women in senior management. The overall representation of black people in senior management in these sectors averages at 14% for agriculture and mining and 35% for construction.

Table 1: Comparison of black representation in management levels and in selected occupational categories 2001 to 2005

Sources: CEE report 2002; CEE report 2004; EE Report 2005; CEE report 2005, LFS report 2005

The pace of addressing gender inequality in classrooms and in the workplace remains a major challenge. In short, the data suggests a lack of fundamental change in the ability of black women to participate in, benefit from and control economic resources. While empowerment is taking place, it is slow and not benefiting black women as much as it is black men.

In schooling a number of factors influence the success of black females, their ability to graduate and their choice of further study, if that happens at all. Gender inequality and bias in households, in the social sphere and in access to resources are of considerable influence.

Most changes in the racial profile of the workforce indicate that black men are benefiting more than black women, although compared to white males, black people generally lag far behind in representation of senior and middle management, professionals and in skilled positions.

The BEE codes attempt to address this slow progress and also give impetus to the EE Act, by setting targets against which companies will be measured. In management control, employment equity and in skills development, these targets have effectively been set for black women at 50% of the overall black target. Similarly, although not discussed here, there is a target for the participation of black women in ownership of enterprises. It is also expected that the codes will incentivise procurement from and enterprise development of companies owned by black women. These targets may produce a faster rate of change than the voluntary target setting of the EE Act, which has not been an unqualified success.

Critics of the proposed targets suggest that employment equity is only achievable through significant investment in skills development. They charge that to be realistic, targets must reflect current levels of equity and graduation trends from secondary and tertiary education.

There are gradual improvements in schooling and at tertiary level, especially for black females. However, black females are not entering the labour market at the same pace or at the same position as other groups.

While the mismatch between output of schooling, the possibilities of entering further and higher education and employment opportunities is experienced by black people, it is far worse for black women. There is therefore an urgent need to gain a deeper understanding of this problem and to develop targeted mechanisms to bridge the education and labour market space for black females in particular.

In the workplace, the reality is that availability of skills is but one of several factors impacting on attaining employment equity and gender equality. Other factors include corporate culture, top management commitment to transformation, gender-sensitive workplaces, retention and promotion policies and sector growth.

The weakness of the codes is that they do not address representation at other levels of the workforce. In the context where black women are predominantly located in elementary and semi-skilled positions, targets for black women below junior management or skilled levels would have been helpful.

Moreover, little is said of qualitative measures to eradicate sexism or gender bias in the workplace. Despite the targets for black women, the focus in most enterprises appears to be on addressing racial integration, with little effort being given to gender and non-sexism.

The impact of the BEE Act and the EE Act should be evaluated with a gendered perspective in mind to improve our knowledge of the benefit of the legislation for black women and to make recommendations that will enhance the ability of the legislation to address gender transformation in enterprises. For now, enterprises should at least be required to report on what they are doing to address these qualitative commitments.

Gender equality and economic development are mutually reinforcing and therefore gender equality is critical for growth. The income differentials for black women and the location of black women predominantly into elementary and semi-skilled categories does not assist in building a competitive economy, in the same way that equity in income and greater levels of inclusion could.

The assumption that a greater number of women in management positions or in the classroom suggests a more gender-sensitive climate is obviously not always the case, the data at hand demonstrates as much. Legislation and targets can only resolve part of the problem. Gender equality in the economic sphere requires a holistic approach with business, government and communities demonstrating the will and making the effort to bring about this transformation.

* Andy Brown is a consultant specialising in economic empowerment policy and strategy.


  1. Dollar, D; Gatti, R: Gender Inequality, Income & Growth: Are Good Times Good for Women? May 1999. World Bank.
  2. Klasen, S: Policy Research Report on Gender and Dev. WPS No 7. Does Gender Inequality Reduce Growth and Development? 1999, World Bank.
  3. Discussion Document on Macro Social Trends in South Africa: Report of the Presidency 2006.
  4. Gender equality and education in South Africa: Measurements, scores and strategies, Elaine Unterhalter; in HSRC 2005: Gender equity in SA Education.
  5. Kraak, A: Skills Development, Chpt 5 in Gqubule, D: Making Mistakes righting Wrongs, 2006.
  6. CASE: Management employment in SA: A review and some projections, 2006; Gender equity in SA Education. Chisholm, L & September, J. HSRC. 2005.
  7. Altman M, 2005.Wage Trends and Dynamics in SA , HSRC.
  8. Kraak, A: Skills Development, Chpt 5 in Gqubule, D: Making Mistakes
    Righting Wrongs, 2006. Johnathan Ball and KMM.
  9. The data is based on research from the following sources: Employment Equity Reports, released by the EE commission and the Dept of Labour (2001;2003; 2005), the Labour Force Survey 2005 and 2006; Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE): "Management Employment in South Africa: a Review and Some Projections" 2006.
  10. Using the official and narrow definition of unemployed.
  11. Maziya, M: Employment Equity and the Labour Market, Chpt 6 in Gqubule, D: Making Mistakes righting Wrongs, 2006 Johnathan Ball and KMM.
  12. Altman, M. 2005 in Wage trends and Dynamics in SA , HSRC.
  13. Maziya, M: Employment Equity and the Labour Market, Chpt 6 in Gqubule, D: Making Mistakes righting Wrongs, 2006 Jonathan Ball and KMM.
  14. Burger R, Yu D. (2006) Wage trends in post apartheid SA: Constructing an earnings series for household survey data. BER, University of Stellenbosch.
  15. Altman, M. (2004) The State of Employment and Unemployment in South Africa in Daniel J. Habib A. and Southall, R. (eds) State of the Nation: South Africa 2003 -2004. Cape Town: HSRC Press.
  16. Woolard, 2002, quoted in Altman M, 2005.Wage trends and dynamics in SA, HSRC.
  17. Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE): "Management Employment in South Africa: a Review and Some Projections" 2006.

From liberation to transformation

Spiritual revolution in secular society

South Africa has a role to play in advancing a theology of transformation, which recognises the spirituality of all people and unites humanity in a struggle against conflict, inequality and oppression.

We have messed up. The end of the Cold War, colonialism and apartheid should have enabled the world to enter an era of peace and prosperity. But right wing fundamentalists claiming to be Christians, Muslims, Jews and others are locked in conflict over earth`s resources and seeking to drag Africa into the fray. Instead of transformation, oppressive religious, political and economic forces have brought humanity to the worst crisis in its history.

Can South Africa, with its motto of unity through diversity, help find an answer? Spiritual power in the secular world can lead us to transformation.

In his address at the 4th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture, President Thabo Mbeki said: "The question must therefore arise - for those of us who believe that we represent the good - what must we do to succeed in our purposes...

We must strive to understand the social conditions that would help to determine whether we succeed or fail. What I have said relates directly to what needs to be done to achieve the objective that Nelson Mandela set the nation, to accomplish the RDP of the Soul."

Humanity faces decimation, extinction, or transformation. Decimation occurs when our planet is attacked by asteroids, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, or diseases that cannot be forecast or prevented. They just happen any time.

The problem is how can survivors handle them? Extinction is self-afflicted through greed, economic dictatorship, warfare, and environmental destruction supported by heretical beliefs. The problem is how can survivors handle it?

Africa knows we need vision and power beyond the bloodshed, poverty, heresy and obliteration of the northern world.

The third scenario is transformation. We liberated ourselves from apartheid and the world can liberate itself from the destructive course of the developed countries today.

We are not all religious, but we are all spiritual human beings alert to compassion, cooperation and vision. A spiritual renaissance is emerging in the secular world of politics, economics and culture - a spiritual unity in our religious diversity.

As Mbeki said: "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."


Africa liberated herself from the political and economic oppression of apartheid but not from the limitations of colonial religions. Imported religious structures often divide us, impose colonial conflicts on us, and denigrate our own spiritual integrity.

Millions of 21st century citizens still cling to the ideas of the Roman Empire, the Crusades, reformed Germany and the Netherlands, Huguenot France, Charles Wesley`s hymns, Victorian Britain, 19th century America, medieval Islam or oppressed Judaism.

We need to explore the spiritual unity in our own human experience. We need to reposition ourselves in the spiritual arena, following the vision of our political, academic, economic and religious prophets.

Former ANC President and Nobel Laureate Chief Albert Luthuli said: "Somewhere ahead there beckons a civilisation which will take its place in God`s history with other great human syntheses: Chinese, Egyptian, Jewish, European. It will not necessarily be all black: but it will be African."

It is not our concern as the ANC to become a religious body, or interfere with people`s personal spiritual interests in this life, or after death. It is our concern when our cadres are enticed to support religious movements promoting the agenda of foreign forces manipulating Africa for their own purposes. It is our concern when people use religion to undermine the national democratic revolution. It is our concern when people use religion to destroy South Africa`s soul.

Human fulfilment consists of more than "access to modern and effective services like electricity, water, telecommunications, transport, health, education and training for our people."

"As distinct from other species of the animal world, human beings also have spiritual needs. Thus 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," Mbeki said.

`Spiritual` is the drive of a vital force inside us. It does not mean weird, spooky, superstitious, fear-laden, religious or heavenly. Some lives exhibit a proud, greedy, lustful, jealous, angry, self-centred or lazy spirit. Others have a spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, loyalty, humility or self-control. Human communities can move from a negative to a positive spirit.

That is the focus of the revolution we need in today`s secular world of politics, economics, culture, and human relations.

When our homo sapiens ancestors emerged in Africa about 140,000 years ago, the challenge was to make human communities work. Darwin saw that species evolved by the survival of the fittest, but communities required the survival of the weakest. Human communities had to care for one another; they had to work together to conquer the perils and challenges of earth, and they had to think beyond their next meal.

Those essential requirements of compassion, cooperation and vision are crucial in the secular world of politics, culture and religion today.


Secular and spiritual are two side of the same coin, the currency of human communities. Compassion, cooperation, and vision are as vital as oxygen and hydrogen; delivering peace and joy is as relevant as chemistry and physics; generosity and humility are as crucial as the balance of payments.

Spirituality is a crucial, techno-scientific truth about how secular humanity operates. Spirituality concerns politicians, economists, social scientists and families - not just those wearing religious labels.

Early homo sapiens set off from Africa and walked round the world. It took them quite a while, forming a sub-race here, a nation there, a bleaching over the horizon, until earth was populated. All these communities sought compassion, cooperation and vision that, like eating and drinking, copulating and dying, were simply part of being human.

About 5,000 years ago people began to develop religions. Four thousand years ago the focus moved from rituals to ethics. Writing documented the evolution as scriptures. World religions grew institutions, temples, priests and traditions, except in Africa, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand.

Primal spirituality saw no need for religious institutions. It still survives from Inuits to Aborigines, American `Indians` to Siberian shamans, the myths of early Europe to African traditional spirituality.

Our ancestors hunted together, ate from trees and roots without thought of ownership: land belonged to all. Then humanity went astray. Cultivating animals and plants in settled places enabled them to invent villages and towns. Powerful people took possession of land, forcing others to work on it. Humanity became possessors and workers, landowners and land workers, aristocrats and peasants, masters and slaves.

Compassion was replaced by greed, cooperation by competition, vision focused on `me`, not `us`, and oppression became real. It was a spiritual challenge between those who saw human progress as the pursuit of wealth, and those who saw progress in the pursuit of compassion, cooperation and vision.

Religious institutions divided clergy from laity, and favoured wealth, power and men. Prophets in every religion preached the values of compassion, cooperation and vision; differentiated between ritual and ethics, and criticised the separation of the market from morals. Divisive denominations developed.

Bosses and priests usually united against working people and prophets.

Religio-political dictators took power by violence and claimed to be civilised. It is still so.

Religions invented theologies to satisfy their political and economic allies. Many leaders, from the Roman Emperor Constantine to US President Bush, claimed that a special relationship with God justified their oppressive actions.

These religious institutions flooded Africa as colonial imports:

Portuguese (1488), Dutch (1652), French (1688), German (1737), British (1795,1806,1820), Americans (1908,1914,1920), Reformed (1665), Lutheran (1779), Anglican (1806), Methodist (1806), Congregational (1806), Presbyterian (1813), Catholic (1688,1804), Pentecostal (1908,1914), Muslim (1658,1694,1780), Jewish (1834), and Hindu (1860).

The missionary package brought many benefits, plus the barbarism of colonialism. Sincerely mistaken figures hijacked God as a racist sexist oppressive religious figure. They produced the inherited diversity that our spiritual unity has to transform. Religion became a site of struggle because colonialism worshipped Greed.

Mbeki set out the relevance of this continuing conflict: "The capitalist class, to whom everything has a cash value, has never considered moral incentives as very dependable... 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...

"The new order, born of 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... Get rich! Get rich! Get rich!" Opposition to apartheid rediscovered the soul of South Africa. Ignoring their scriptures on race and wealth, most religions succumbed to apartheid.

Despite marginal opposition, liberation was demonised as a tool of Communism.

Conscience was stirred by the Freedom Charter in 1955. After the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 and the banning of the liberation movements, anti-apartheid concern grew in all sectors. The Christian Institute, the South African Council of Churches (SACC), the Message to the people of South Africa of 1968, Black Consciousness, Call of Islam, Jews for Justice, the United Democratic Front (UDF), the Kairos Document, Liberation Theology, and the South African Chapter of the World Conference on Religion and Peace, demonstrated together, struggled together, prayed together, went to jail together, experiencing a unity which bridged race, sex, class, religions and politics. They discovered, in the words of Aziz Pahad in his address on `Building a Global Progressive Movement`, "the galvanising effect of articulating a vision of a non-racist non-sexist democratic society".

In the struggle people from different races, spiritualities, classes and skills came together and experienced a new humanity. South Africa discovered its spiritual power. This vision of united humanity was as full of portent for the world community as the emergence of Homo sapiens on the highveld centuries before. Apartheid was not defeated by violence: it was supplanted by the self-discovery of South Africa`s soul.

Many warmed to Nelson Mandela`s call: "The transformation of our country requires the greatest possible cooperation between religious and political bodies, critically and wisely serving our people together."

In the words of Constitutional Court judge Albie Sachs: "We had in this country an amalgam of cultural and spiritual ingredients that provided a profound philosophical setting for peaceful change. It was a case of ubuntu meeting Satyagraha meeting an international tradition of struggle for revolutionary change. The result was something that has evolved and become deeply rooted in the temper of our people. As Gandhi showed through his life, idealism is sustainable in the real world. It needs only to be backed up by real commitment by millions of ordinary people." South Africa had discovered its soul: the unity in its diversity. And then we lost the plot again. After liberation we dilly-dallied. No strong united religious commitment towards transformation emerged. Many sectors lost the vision of doing transformation together and reverted to colonial competition.

We love our inherited colonial separations too much to unite as spiritual South Africans. Inhuman priorities remain unchallenged in our economic systems and political attitudes. Many have been seduced and manipulated by the dictators of wealth. According to Pahad: "The world as a direct result of globalisation has been cast as a vast ocean of poverty in which a few islands of prosperity are to be found."

As Mbeki says, we are fixated on "the dominance 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... We 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".


Major changes in world affairs have affected liberated South Africa, including:

In this soulless state - at the point of disillusion, discord and despair -a secular spiritual unity arises to bring compassion to our economics, cooperation to our politics, and a transforming vision to South Africa`s soul.

All spirituality shares a common ground of being, a commitment to the common good, is threatened by right wing fundamentalism and believes that good overcomes evil.

Throughout history people have sensed a more-than-just-me spirit, a supra-human influence - from ancestors stones to cathedrals, from Buddha to Jesus, from Krishna to Umvelinqangi, from Yahweh to Allah.

Creation stories in every folklore related the motive forces of compassion, cooperation and the vision of peace and prosperity to the sense of a greater power operating in the human community whether in terms of Jesus, Muhammad or Marx. Albert Einstein wrote: "A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary form - it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; and in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man."

There is a spiritual unity in our religious diversity. All spirituality believes in the common good. Nearly all people describe religion as a Way of Life. Many passages in the scriptures of the world might have been written by the same hand, speaking the same language, singing the same songs, reflecting the same personal and communal spiritual inputs to the secular world.

The spiritual unity within this diversity is the great strength of humanity.

The post-colonial, post-globalisation quest for transformation needs to review the primal spirituality of humanity, which for us is through African Traditional Spirituality. It too is a way of life, more comprehensive than a religion, a secular spirituality in pursuit of the common good, a holistic communal concern that needed no structures, buildings or priests.

Canon Luke Pato explains: "The African has a sense of the wholeness of life.

In traditional African religion there is no separate community of religious people, because everyone who participates in the life of the community also participates in its religion."

Dr Nokuzola Mdende says: "Religion among Africans is not treated as an isolated entity: it is dealt with in a broader context since it permeates all sections of life of both the individual and the society."

Ubuntu is a way of life not a way of being religious. It reveals the common primal truths of all communities. It includes all people, not a privileged group. There is no capitalist concept of a small group dictating to the masses on economic grounds: the poor are part of the community. Primal spirituality is compassionate, cooperative, and envisions a Vital Force within us - a secular spirituality.

This quest for the common good is deeply economic. Prof Ulrich Duchrow from the University of Heidelberg says: "The perspective of the common good fundamentally starts with the weakest, most threatened members of the community. If they can live, all can live." The focus of the common good is on earth not in heaven, and personal commitment is to an agenda for the transformation of the community.

All spirituality is threatened by right wing fundamentalism. The globalisation of undemocratic capitalist dictatorship records a history of commitment to violence not compassion, to domination not cooperation, and has no vision but its own material gain. This barbarian empire, led by the US, supervises the rise of right wing religious-political-economic fundamentalism that is destroying the world.

The current flash point is in the Christian-Jewish-Muslim conflict of the Middle East. The Middle East war is not between these religions. It is a conflict of right wing fundamentalisms that misuse their religions. They have no basis in the teaching of Judaism, Jesus of Nazareth, or the prophet Muhammad. They are distortions of scripture dedicated to death, giving fraudulent theological backing to political and economic oppression.

Fanatics are fanatics. Christians, Jews and Muslims embrace `mistaken enthusiasm`. They turn anti-Zionism into anti-Semitism; they corrupt Christian theology with an anti-God, anti-Jesus, anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-war image; they see all Muslims as suicide bombers.

Religions often encouraged it by their failure to embrace modern scientific and ecumenical realities, and their cold cerebral presentation of God. This precipitated agnosticism on the one hand and right wing fundamentalism on the other, both aligned to the worship of money.

The violent warring history of Christianity, totally opposed to its founder, began with its catastrophic adoption as the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century. Its subservience to political and economic objectives, the Crusades, the wars of the rise of Protestantism and national states in Europe, the pursuit of slavery and colonialism, all contributed to the false concept of Church.

Into this superior imperialist background Christian Fundamentalism emerged in 1910 with the publication in California of `The Fundamentals`.

Fundamentalists emphasised their interpretation of the Bible, engaged in major controversies over theories of evolution and politics. They pursued ecstatic forms of evangelicalism, witness, prophecy, and later gained major impetus by funding through television programmes.

Right wing fundamentalists in America, Europe and Africa, with strong capitalist backing, promoting the `gospel of Prosperity`, have moved into the `Christo-Fascism` of the Bush Empire. It says the conflict between Christians and Muslims indicates Armageddon is approaching. The US is God`s instrument for Christ to come again and destroy its terrorist enemies, thus Christians worldwide should support Bush. Opinion polls reveal that millions of Americans accept this heresy as truth.

Zionism is in a similar position, claiming Israel as God`s promise to the Jews of antiquity. Zionism was actually established in August 1897 by Theodor Herzl at the founding of the World Zionist Organisation, supported by Britain`s Balfour Declaration in 1917, and formally established as the state of Israel in May 1948.

It is a political and economic state, having marginal spiritual identity with the Tenakh and the Talmud. The United States` adoption of Israel as its ally in the pursuit of Middle East oil deeply distresses Jews who are not Israeli Zionist fundamentalists.

Muslim right wing `fundamentalism` also arose only recently, and has nothing to do with the ways of Muhammad in the 7th century. The Prophet saw his task as spreading the way of peace, mercy and spirituality. He recognised the common roots with Jews and Christians, and had no basic conflicts with either (except with the claim that Jesus was God, on which the Church also was divided). Because the Prophet left no clear successor, different religious and political factions have sought precedence ever since, invariably claiming support from the Qu`ran.

The US has manipulated this disunity in its quest for control of the Middle East, switching from side to side with its political analysis. Many accuse US aggression for instigating the right wing fundamentalism developed in Islam.

There is also a major deliberate activity to spread right wing fundamentalisms in our country and continent. After the Middle East oil is consumed, the search for oil and platinum in Africa is next on the agenda.

Many see the current infusion of right wing fundamentalism as preparation for the armies that will come next.

THE MEDIA Because humans now feed their thinking with reading and watching, the media is a crucial area. Today, it often loses its commitment to truth and democracy and becomes a tool of commercial enterprise and fundamentalist assertions.

It is difficult to obtain the truth from a media influenced to indoctrinate people through advertisements, scandal, greed and fear, instead of mediating information enabling people to stand on their own spiritual feet. Right wing fundamentalists try to scare the hell into people to put their minds to sleep. The media love it - it sells.

Oppressive empires are not destroyed by other empires: they collapse from within, starting at the edges. That was the story from ancient empires to the British empire, and it is happening to the globalised US empire now. The poor, the slaves, women, and apartheid survivors know that good does overcome evil, evolution does move forward, and we can expect a transformation embracing the rebirth of society and spirituality.

Africa has a major role to play in going for the good. Our Constitution has an inclusive approach to religious diversity that only disbars hatred, coercion, and violence. Liberating themselves from colonial and economic subservience, both agnostics and believers in diverse religions can discover the spiritual unity of the modern world.

The common spirituality of our human community in the secular world brings richness both to those from different religious backgrounds, and to those who find an institutional religious component unnecessary. The transformation of Africa means rediscovering compassion, cooperation and vision in the secular world, together.

"We should all agree that to achieve the social cohesion and human solidarity we seek, we must vigorously confront the legacy of poverty, racism and sexism,... and... persist in our efforts to achieve national reconciliation," according to Mbeki.

Compassion is a concern for others that is more than personal kindness.

Vesting South Africa`s interest in a compassionate society requires programmes to provide all citizens with experience of the living conditions of the poor, oppressed women, orphaned children, and the sick. Wealth is dehumanising, insulating the rich from humanity.

Compassion involves reconstructing economic society to take back leadership from the globalised empire. "Can we seriously expect that Africa and other countries of the developing world can deal with their underdevelopment by depending on a private sector that is driven by the profit motive? The reality demands that there must be a political will to transfer resources from the rich to the poor globally. In a globalised world, the war against global poverty calls for global action," says Pahad.

Some businesses, unions and theologians are now seeking systems deeper than the sterile capitalist versus socialist experiences of the 19th and 20th century. Compassion demands a major rethink and restructure of how the economy actually works for the 21st century.

Cooperation is born out of commitment to the betterment of all sectors of the secular world. Morality and ethics are the calories of cooperation.

"Space is open... for the development and consolidation of a global progressive movement encompassing all sectors of society including both progressive governments and progressive social movements, and progressives in the religious and cultural movements. It must be broad in scope, but organised and galvanised along principled lines," says Pahad.

Cooperation demands strong lay leadership, male and female. Great prophets invariably emerge from the secular world of politics and the market place, not from seminaries.

Religious groups seeking to discover spiritual unity to transform our country will need to consider what Mbeki means when he laments, "the absence of an integrative thrust - some reconciler - that would produce the institutionalised processes that would end the sense of alienation and marginalisation that leads to social conflict."

In the struggle against apartheid we united round the vision of liberation.

The vision today is of a transformed Africa in a transformed world. It means seeking a theology of transformation to which everyone contributes - not just religious professionals. It means a transformation of spirituality to unpack the unity that runs through Agnostic, Traditionalist, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Buddhist, Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Pentecostal - all of us. It means a transformation of nationhood from national competition to global responsibility, and a transformation of the economy to a post-capitalist order that solves the problem of systematic poverty and greed.

This vision requires a transformation of the way we do politics to a locally generated democracy; a transformation of the way we do education and culture from getting money to finding fulfilment in human community; a transformation of the way we do health, including disease and reproduction; and a transformation of the media to serve the people.

How we become involved in the struggle for transformation is something each sector must consider for itself: religions, government, neighbourhoods, economic systems, unions, educators, entertainment, the media, families and individuals.

The possible decimation of humanity by natural disaster or human folly are scenarios that the right wing capitalist-fundamentalist empire denies or ignores.

The ability to cope requires a major transformation in human society - a holistic answer from the united spiritual instincts of humanity.

Transformation requires deep action for change like the Freedom Charter, which does not try to push the world into shape but to turn it upside down.

Empires change by internal collapse, from the edges. South Africa is on the edge of the globalised empire, it knows about holistic ubuntu answers. It can explore the spiritual unity in our diversity. South Africa has a role to play.

*This is an edited version of a discussion paper prepared by the ANC Commission for Religious Affairs.

A nation in the making

Macro-social trends in South Africa

There is a fundamental need to address the tension between a market-based economic system premised on tough competition and the desire to build a caring society, according to the Macro-Social Report recently released by government.

The data in the discussion document on the macro-social trends in South Africa, released by government in June as the Macro-Social Report (MSR), depicts a society in dynamic change, both materially and spiritually. It is however debatable whether some of the trends, for instance in social mobility, are a reflection merely of immediate corrections to the history of discrimination. While there is an improving sense of an over-arching national identity, the persistence of racial profiles with regard to most of the macro-social indicators points to the road yet to be traversed. Also, of significant importance is the challenge of mediating or negotiating the tension between a market-based economic system premised on cutthroat competition and the desire to build a caring society predicated on human solidarity. The two main issues that the MSR helps us to engage with are: nation building (including matters of social integration, social cohesion and social identity) and social values (including practices in relation to self-advancement).

Overall, the report concludes that significant progress is being achieved in many social development areas, both hard (like poverty, livelihoods, etc) and soft (like social integration, national identity, etc). However, in some areas the magnitude and pace of progress could have been better.

Background Given the enormity of challenges that faced the democratic government when it was elected in 1994, there is agreement across the board that there has been significant progress. Government`s own assessments in `Towards the Ten Year Review`, `A Nation in the Making` and in the Programme of Action that is published on the government website, and independent studies, attest to this progress.

The new government took over in 1994 when:

In the face of these challenges by 2005:

The report addresses the following questions:


The report highlights main trends on selected key issues, such as poverty and inequality, demographics, households dynamics, migration, social organisation and national identity.

There seems to be some consensus that the proportion of people living in income poverty increased marginally during the period 1993-2000. Recent research conducted by Van den Berg et al shows that there has been a marked decline in poverty since 2000, from approximately 18.5 million poor people to approximately 15.4 million poor in 2004.

Another recent study, by Bhorat et al, shows that the share of the poorest 10% of households with access to piped water increased by 187% between 1993 and 2004, with similar gains reported for sanitation services. The authors contend that the share of households with access to electricity for lighting and cooking has shown particularly spectacular gains, access to electricity for lighting for the poorest tenth of households - those in decile 1 -grew by a phenomenal 578%. The study further shows that access to formal housing grew by 42% and 34% for deciles 1 and 2 between 1993 and 2004, and 21% and 16% for deciles 3 and 4.

In terms of inequality, using expenditure share measures, between 1995 and 2000, data shows that in 2000 the poorest 20% accounted for 2.8% of total expenditure. In contrast, the wealthiest 20% of households accounted for 64.5% of all expenditure in 2000. The gini coefficient, another widely used measure of inequality, was 0.59 in 2000 (when social transfers are excluded). If included, it would be 0.35.


The age distribution of South African society broadly resembles that of developing countries, with more than 50% of the population below the age of 24 years. However, when broken down by race, the patterns resemble those of developing and developed countries, with the two extremes being the African and white populations. While there has been a slight aging of the population (reflecting low fertility rates) between 1996 and 2001, the overall pattern remains the same.

Different demographic patterns are displayed in the populations of the Provinces. In Provinces like KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Limpopo there is a large proportion of young children and teenagers with a small proportion of young adults and a slightly larger proportion of the very old.

The Western Cape and Northern Cape have a larger share of the aging population, while Gauteng reflects an anomaly, with an artificially `bloated mid-rift`, with a large proportion of the age-group 20-49 years, due in large part to the proportion of migrants to the province. This is linked to increasing numbers of women who are migrating. Initially they take their young children with them; however when the children reach school-going age they send them to live with family members back home.

Census 2001 data shows that 20% of the population of major metropolitan areas, and in some of the regional centres and small towns are new migrants.

Inter-provincial migration and intra-provincial migration has been a key feature of the transition over the last decade.

Of the people who have changed residence at least once between October 1996 and October 2001, 31.4% had moved between provinces. This has resulted in a net gain or loss for some provinces. The biggest loss was from the Eastern Cape (253,000 people) and Limpopo (163,000 people). The biggest gains were in Gauteng (418,000 people) and the Western Cape (182,000 people). The movement of people is generally to those provinces perceived to be having higher economic potential.


Between 1996 and 2001 the number of households increased by approximately 30%, almost three times the rate of the population increase. The number of households increased from 9.1 million in 1996 to 11.8 million households.

Inversely average household size has declined from 4.5 to 3.8 persons per household over the same period.

In terms of household types, there has been a large increase in extended household types (7%), and the corresponding decrease in the nuclear family type household (5%). The single household type increased by 2%. It is also important to note that the number of households living in three or fewer rooms has not changed much in this period (46% in 1996 and 47% in 2001).


The social organisation trend in South Africa since 1994 has been contradictory, with ebbs and flows. Membership in political parties since 1994 has remained highest. After the 1994 elections, there was a general decline in membership of all organisations except for political parties. In 2001 there was a large increase, with youth organisations experiencing the greatest surge (75%), followed by anti-crime organisations (67%), women`s organisations (60%) and trade unions (50%). It is critical to note that a large percentage of South Africans (over 85%) are religiously affiliated.

Overall, the trend points towards improving social cohesion, although weaker social networks result in less effective social capital, especially in African communities.

Over the last few years we have seen the development of a South African identity that reflects a shift away from a largely racial identity. The surveys of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) in 1994, 1995 and 1997 showed that between 50% and 70% of South Africans considered racial or nationality/language categories as their primary form of social identification. However, there has been a significant shift, as the Future Fact 1999 Mindset Survey of South Africans 16 years and older showed, that 53% of the respondents defined themselves as South Africans and 17% defined themselves as African. In terms of race, 80% of whites, 79% of Indians and 73% of coloureds and 45% of Africans defined themselves as South Africans.

Language and/or nationality are the strongest as a primary form of identity among Africans (at 23%) compared to less than 4% among other population groups. Language identity is strongest among those in the lower income bracket and those with low educational qualifications. Across all population groups the younger people use the identity of African or South African to describe themselves. Nationality remains a feature of identity across age groups, in particular with Africans over 50 years of age, of whom 22% use nationality/language to self-describe.

Overall, the chain of inherited social attributes - across distribution of wealth and income; access to social services such as education, housing, water and electricity; lifestyles including sizes of households and age demographics, health and mortality profile, forms of social organisation and social capital; and matters of identity and culture - still manifests itself, though decreasingly, in terms of the racial fault-lines. With regard to a number of attributes, the younger generation seems to demonstrate practices, attitudes and an identity that is strongly integrative.

The report depicts major trends that require attention and national effort, not only of government but of all of our society. Effective partnerships on speedily improving material and social conditions of our people and on improving social cohesion are critical. Of fundamental importance is the need to address the tension between a market-based economic system premised on tough competition, and the desire to build a caring society. This is not merely a matter of social values, but also one that impacts public policy: as a tension firstly between encouraging individual self-advancement and collective development, and secondly between encouraging individual excellence and social equity. Society`s value systems reflect a tension between market-based competitive relations and the aspiration for equitable development in a caring society. This tension finds expression in the creative sphere and mediums of discourse. There is also a continuing struggle to affirm an Afro-centric consciousness against a mindset to glorify everything in developed countries as superior and infallible. This in part reflects a social pathology to seek affirmation from other nations and thus to view ourselves through the prism of other countries` opinions.

The launch of the report for public discussion has provided an opportunity for interaction across society on these issues. On its part government is distilling the conclusions of the report for their implications on public policy. Taking into account public comments, specific macro-social interventions will be developed for implementation.

*This is a summary of the document `A Nation in the Making: a Discussion Document on Macro-social Trends in South Africa`, released by government in June 2006. The full document is available at

Of cats, factions and a revolution

Precisely because factionalism and conspiracy theories do not allow for rational and measured debate, ANC members and leaders need to constantly reaffirm the democratic and disciplined practices of the movement, letting a thousand flowers bloom in discussion of the fundamental issues of transformation, writes Joel Netshitenzhe.

In 2005 Seven Network, an Australian television station, ran a gripping episode on the brutal stabbing of Kathleen Marshall, President of the Queensland Cat Protection Society. The episode, which was part of a series on forensic investigations, unearthed a web of intrigue, rumours and fortune-telling attached to the murder. But central to the story was a problem of factionalism within the Cat Protection Society.

Around what fundamental issues, one may ask, could members of a cat protection society so differ that some of them could decide to take the life of one of their own? If so "eccentric" an organisation with so little at stake could go this far, what should be expected from institutions dealing with huge resources, political power and social prestige?

Is factionalism an inherent feature of social organisation, and thus are attempts at suppressing it a vain exercise in negating human nature?

It is perhaps because they have so little to do, with such inconsequential implications, that the Queensland protectors of cats sometimes fight their battles with such passion and intensity. They are classified anarchists and eschew serious organisation and discipline.1 Their bond of common interests is so infinitely tenuous compared to the personal egos that dictate their individual conduct.

But is this explanation adequate? Should things be inherently different in a political organisation such as the ANC, which is leading fundamental social transformation? Or should we expect that, even in a National Democratic Revolution, there will be shades of grey?

One thing is certain: we cannot just shout "democratic centralism" and hope we will toyi-toyi the problem of factionalism away. We cannot just throw the ANC constitution at the problem and hope it will disappear. Is it after all not human nature to socialise and empathise with the like-minded, in pursuit of individual and collective self-interest?

Factionalism and politics

This goes to the very heart of the debate on factionalism especially in the political sphere. Firstly, political scientists will argue that, at a generic level, if we were to take a state entity as a broad canvass, political parties are in fact factions within society vying for political office.

Secondly, in a narrower sense, history of the world revolutionary movement is replete with instances of factions vying for control. Take the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) for instance, which later became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU): in the early 1900s, it was divided into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks locked in continuous ideological combat. The factions were recognised, with public platforms and leaders who mobilised within the party and across society for their points of view.

Though Lenin argued for a party of revolutionaries with democracy but also a strong dose of discipline, it was only after the decisive ascendancy of the Bolsheviks that he led, that the RSDLP/CPSU took serious steps against factionalism. By 1921, the CPSU had decided to outlaw factions within the Party. No group was allowed to put forward ideas that contradicted official party policy; and anyone who promoted factionalism would be expelled.

Some accounts of the history of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) assert that, during the time of Chairman Mao, the leadership was constituted in the form of a so-called "Yan`an Round Table", with "factions, each built up in one of the pre-revolutionary base areas and comprised of a network of military or civilian officials loyal to a particular leader... Horizontal communication among factions was forbidden, making the top leader into a bottleneck through whom all political coordination flowed". 2 Liberal discourse is wont to reduce these instances to "undemocratic practices of authoritarian" Communist parties. This is shallow and deceitful. The current turmoil around leadership succession in the British Labour Party - or what happened among the Conservatives during the last days of Margaret Thatcher`s leadership - is just one extreme example of factions leaving no quarter in pursuit of their aims.

In an analysis of battles that were raging within the Australian Labour Party in 2005, The Australian newspaper writes: "Throughout history, politics has involved factionalism. Even in the age of monarchies, tyrannies and warlords, factionalism prevailed. Courtiers and supporters divided into groups seeking to influence the ruler, seeking advancement, pursuing their own agenda. It is no different in Western democracies today, on both the social democratic and opposing conservative side of politics... Whenever you hear someone suddenly sound from the rooftops about factionalism ... be careful. You`ll hear someone who has just lost a factional battle."3 At a more serious level, Palestinian intellectual Edward Said decried factionalism among Palestinians and its destructive effects on their cause: "It`s always the same thing, factionalism, disunity, the absence of a common purpose for which in the end ordinary people pay the price in suffering, blood and endless destruction. Even on the level of social structure, it is almost a commonplace that Arabs as a group fight among themselves more than they do for a common purpose. We are individualists, it is said by way of justification, ignoring the fact that such disunity and internal disorganisation in the end damages our very existence as a people."4 Indeed, over the years, the devastating effects of factionalism, ill-discipline and agents provocateur on revolutionary struggles impelled left movements to evolve organisational principles to protect their integrity. Critical among these are: elections, consultation and mandates, collective leadership, branches as basic units, criticism and self-criticism, majority decisions as binding on all, and subordination of lower to higher structures.

Though associated with left movements, most of these principles of "democratic centralism" are logical organisational measures used - with varying degrees of balance between democracy and centralism - by any serious political organisation.

How then does all this relate to the current experiences of the ANC and its Alliance partners? What is the nature of current tensions and what are their root causes? Is the attempt to deal with manifestations of factionalism a vain exercise in negating human nature?

Drawing from history What does history teach us in this regard? One of the critical lessons from the ANC`s own history is that differences of view do not per se constitute factionalism. In an NEC Discussion Document published in Umrabulo 23 (June 2005) the point is made that differences of opinion have always existed in the ANC, and these have not undermined the organisation`s capacity for collective action. There were instances such as in the 1950s where like-minded members lobbied as caucuses for specific policy directions. As long as they were not organised into factions, they were allowed.

The document also argues that the ANC has avoided expelling individuals simply because they held a different point of view. It debates issues; but once a majority view has been formally adopted, it is expected that the minority should submit to the majority.

Yet at some moments, such as in the late 1950s, the situation became so intractable that the ANC had to take action. Walter Sisulu, then Secretary-General of the ANC, described the situation thus: "When the Africanist leaders Madzunya and Leballo joined in this all-out campaign against the people, they were hailed in the daily papers as `the most responsible and powerful Native leaders`...

"Congress is a broad and tolerant organisation, firmly wedded to democratic principle and refusing to impose any single ideology upon its members. But, at the same time, the ANC is not merely a debating society, and cannot tolerate open sabotage of its struggle. The National Executive promptly expelled Madzunya and Leballo for their treacherous activities, and it is notable that this action was warmly applauded by branches throughout the country...

"For a few days some newspapers tried to build up the `major split` in Congress as a sensation. It soon became apparent, however, that the departure of this faction had strengthened the organisation, not weakened it, and that they commanded no support inside or outside Congress. The `sensation` petered out. The national conference of Congress in December proved to be a remarkable demonstration of the confidence of the people in the present leadership, the Freedom Charter, and the Congress alliance."5 The second lesson from the ANC`s own history is that, even in the management of ideological differences among the ANC, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the then SA Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU), there was maturity of leadership across all the three organisations. This leadership ensured that the bonds of common ideals were strengthened, and the dialectic of unity and contestation was managed in a manner that strengthened the people`s cause.

Then ANC President, Oliver Tambo, succinctly articulated this dynamic at the funeral of Moses Mabhida who at the time of his death was General Secretary of the SACP: "In the ANC, Moses Mabhida rose from the lowest levels to become a national leader, serving as a member of the people`s army, Umkhonto we Sizwe, Secretary to the Revolutionary Council, and one of the Chairpersons of the Politico-Military Council. He was an international representative and an underground organiser.

"He rose through the ranks of the Communist Party to become its General Secretary, while for many years he was Vice President of the South African Congress of Trade Unions.

"This combination of functions sometimes surprised and puzzled our friends who wondered why Comrade Mabhida had to serve in so many senior positions in different organisations. But, above all, it enraged our enemies. This combination of functions in one leader of our people upset our adversaries because it reflected the permanence and acceptability among our people of the idea and the practice of the unity of the revolutionary democratic, the socialist and the trade union movements in the South African struggle for national liberation.

"It was part of Comrade Mabhida`s greatness that, having quite early on understood the importance of the unity of these great movements, he succeeded in ably serving each one of them individually, and all of them together, as a collective front for national and social emancipation."6 The third lesson from history is that the movement has always deeply appreciated the negative impact that factionalism could have on its own survival and the cause of liberation. It was always keenly aware that the enemy would conjure up images of an ANC divided as cover to carry out its campaign of murder and mayhem.

Indeed, in the 1980s, after assassinating Joe Gqabi, a leader of the movement based in Harare, the apartheid regime spread the rumour that his death was a consequence of divisions within the ANC: that there were two factions led by Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, and that Gqabi had been murdered because he had deserted the Mandela faction.

In 1989 the British Intelligence Digest carried a story claiming that the ANC had hatched a plot to assassinate Nelson Mandela. No evidence of this was adduced. The ANC warned then that the libel in the scandal sheet should not be lightly dismissed because such rumours could be an attempt to prepare public opinion "for some act of foul play being plotted by enemies of the oppressed people of our country".7

Logic of balances: democracy and centralism This experience of history teaches us today to fight factionalism; to reject the notion that factionalism is an inherent part of all politics; to differentiate between genuine debate on any issue and even lobbying for particular policy stances on the one hand and the setting up of organised groupings to subvert collective decisions taken by the movement on the other; and to expose factional politics hidden under the guise of freedom of speech and exercise of democratic rights.

The ANC constitution defines as misconduct, participation "in organised factional activity that goes beyond the recognised norms of free debate inside the organisation and threatens its unity". It also prohibits actions by any member which prejudices the integrity of the organisation and its operational capacity by "creating divisions within its ranks or membership".8 What is critical in these and other formulations in the constitution of the ANC is more than just the prohibitions. It is that these are juxtaposed to the rights that members have. Reference to factionalism is affixed with such qualifications that the rights of members reign supreme. Thus, there should be free debate within the organisation; any activity to pursue a point of view even if it may somewhat breach the norms of free debate should be dealt with if it is of such a nature that it threatens the movement`s unity.

What the movement seeks to prevent is the formation of organised groups that actively subvert the integrity of the organisation and threaten its unity.

It seeks to prevent conscious activity that has the effect of undermining decisions collectively taken by the movement. In the balance between "democracy" and "centralism", the movement leans towards the former. This is how the ANC has handled difficult moments in its history. Again, in the words of Walter Sisulu: "Congress is a broad and tolerant organisation, firmly wedded to democratic principle and refusing to impose any single ideology upon its members. But, at the same time, the ANC is not merely a debating society, and cannot tolerate open sabotage of its struggle."

Challenge of political incumbency What then is unique in the current environment that makes the challenges we face so novel for the ANC? What is the common factor running like a thread through the problems we currently face? The one generic factor in the environment is access to government office or political incumbency.

For all the long 94 years of its existence, the ANC has been a leading party in government only for the last 12 years. In a sense, this great platform to change people`s lives for the better also comes with its own curse; and this is what we have to learn to manage.

The discussion document, `Through the Eye of a Needle` (Umrabulo 11), identifies the essence of this problem: "Because leadership in structures of the ANC affords opportunities to assume positions of authority in government, some individuals then compete for ANC leadership positions in order to get into government. Many such members view positions in government as a source of material riches for themselves. Thus resources, prestige and authority of government positions become the driving force in competition for leadership positions in the ANC.

"Government positions also go hand-in-hand with the possibility to issue contracts to commercial companies. Some of these companies identify ANC members that they can promote in ANC structures and into government, so that they can get contracts by hook or by crook. This is done through media networks to discredit other leaders, or even by buying membership cards to set up branches that are ANC only in name.

"Positions in government also mean the possibility to appoint individuals in all kinds of capacities. As such, some members make promises to friends, that once elected and ensconced in government, they would return the favour.

Cliques and factions then emerge within the movement, around personal loyalties driven by corrupt intentions. Members become voting fodder to serve individuals` self-interest."9 In his report to the 2005 National General Council, ANC Secretary General Kgalema Motlanthe elaborates on how some branches of the movement can sometimes become paralysed by this phenomenon: "They are conflict-ridden and unstable and in many instances fraught with fights over leadership positions, selection and deployment of councillors, tendering and control of projects and recruitment of membership in order to serve factional or selfish interests.

"In many cases, the reasons for division and the resulting lack of coherent and consistent branch organisation are not rooted in ideological differences."10 Does this mean that members and leaders of the ANC are unique in their response to the reality of access to political office? As indicated earlier, these problems afflict parties of both the left and the right across the globe. The challenge is to have in place the organisational principles and practices as well as instruments to ensure transparency and accountability so that integrity of both the party and the government are not compromised.

Factionalism, careers and battle for resources Two instances, one from ancient history and another from recent developments help to illustrate this challenge. The first one is from the 1340s in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in old Britain where democracy did not fully obtain and there were no proper rules governing the management of national and local resources. Thus, business-people competed for positions of political authority to extract as much material advantage for themselves as possible.

Factions emerged around open competition for resources and influence with royalty. An analysis of this history by various authors contains the following description:

"It has been suggested that this conflict was essentially one between the merchant gild and the craft gilds, because of the power accorded the latter in the 1342 ordinances. This was doubtless one dimension of the affair, but things were more complicated than that. There was evidently a struggle for control of government between the empowered and disempowered. The former being, it appears, some of those who had dominated government in recent years, backed by a portion of the enfranchised residents, who were themselves among the better-off townsmen and probably predominantly merchants. The latter included non-freemen, some craftsmen, and some of the town merchants who may have objected to [John] Denton`s recent domination of the mayoralty, and been at once envious of his financial success and resentful of how he had achieved it as the king`s purveyor, and collector of customs and taxes." 11

About succession struggles, the authors describe the relationship between major actors, John Denton and Richard Acton thus: "It can be argued that, in the years following Emeldon`s death, Acton appears to have been denied the access to the mayoralty he might have expected, given his seniority and experience; this could have been blamed on the economic success, and corresponding political influence, of Denton and his supporters. Acton`s response to this peripheralisation was ultimately to resort to extraordinary measures to obtain power." 12

The second instance is from the experience of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In his paper on this experience, Richard Gillespie of the University of Warwick identifies a number of factors that precipitate factionalism within a ruling party.

However, there is a strong element in both cases of internal democracy being campaigned for only when Socialist officials have suffered personally from a loss of patronage or have become victims of party disciplinary procedures."15

Some of these descriptions resonate with our current experience. What they indicate is that political office throws up generic problems for ruling parties that they have to learn effectively to manage.

A poisoned atmosphere

Closer to home, beyond these generic challenges of incumbency, what are the specific manifestations of tensions we are experiencing within the ranks of the ANC and the rest of the Alliance today?

If you conducted a search on the worldwide web for "pro-Mbeki", "anti-Mbeki", "pro-Zuma" and "anti-Zuma" you will come up with more than 5,000 results! What this means is that this "pro-/anti-" paradigm has become an entrenched part of public discourse. It has effectively become a template within which everything to do with activities of the Alliance and even private lives of leaders is analysed, particularly in the media. Each action and each pronouncement is seen as a factor in a grand conspiracy. It is as if members have lost their individuality and capacity for rational thought; it is as if even confirmed violent crimes can be reduced to political machinations; it is as if today`s activists, even in their intimate personal relationships, "do it" for a factional cause, wearing "pro" or "anti" t-shirts and shouting corresponding slogans.

Now we can blame this on the media, shoot the messenger so to speak. But in this instance, the most that we honestly can do in criticising the media is to argue more about embellishments rather than essence.

For we would do well to ask ourselves whether individuals from within the Alliance are not responsible for this frenzy. Don`t some of us, faced with inviting possibilities or uncertainties about future careers, or with the spectre of being investigated for one misdemeanour or another, or with doubts about our competence, conveniently nail our colours to an imaginary mast, claiming allegiance to individuals who may not even know of our existence or who may not necessarily agree with the things we do. And so, the behaviour of some of the movement`s cadres may in fact be fuelling factionalism and encouraging the fun being poked by all and sundry at a pitiful caricature of the ANC and its allies. And so, steadily but surely, we squander the moral and political capital accumulated over many decades of struggle and sacrifice.

Have we degenerated to the level of the Queensland Cat Protection Society?

Or at least, are we approaching a state of paralysis, stagnation and degeneration, where none of us can open our mouths, express a view on any matter, and critically raise an issue for debate, without our foreheads being branded with the label of being pro-this or anti-the-other?

We may not be fully there yet, but the fact that elements of this have started to manifest themselves in our ranks signals a crisis in the making.

Critical issues of strategy and policy are on the agenda of major ANC conferences and the SACP congress in the coming 15 months, issues that will define the very existence and character of each of the allies and the Alliance as a collective for many decades to come. And none of us can confidently say that the content and tone of debate and leadership contestation in some COSATU affiliates and in the build-up to COSATU`s 9th Congress are very encouraging in this regard. Nor is the drama that recently unfolded in the SA National Civics Organisation (SANCO) around leadership expulsions, counter-expulsions and court cases very flattering either.

In simple terms, the question is whether this generation of leaders and members wishes to carry on its shoulders the historical curse of having been the ones who destroyed, in an act of self-serving irrationality, a movement that is the hope of a nation and a continent.

As Sisulu said, the ANC is a broad and tolerant movement, "firmly wedded to democratic principle and refusing to impose any single ideology upon its members". It however has a historical mission to fulfil and it needs to ensure collective action to realise its objectives.

Resilience of revolutionary organisation

In this period, as the ANC approaches 100 years of its existence, with slightly over a decade of experience in democratic and transformative governance, there are many fundamental issues that the ANC and the rest of the Alliance have to grapple with. These include: the National Democratic Revolution and how it addresses the issue of property relations; utilisation of fiscal resources, state-owned enterprises and relationship with private capital; the macro-social dynamic of capitalist accumulation in the context of striving to build a caring society; changing social structure of South African society and how the ANC and other components of the Alliance should respond to this; role of the working class in the process of change, labour market dynamics and their implications for trade union organisation; and the social pathologies related to crime.

It is in this context that the ANC will need to define its role and elect a leadership collective required to attain its objectives. The SACP is faced with the same challenge.

During such moments, the movement needs to let loose its searching minds. It needs to encourage a festival of ideas. And in the mix of thesis and anti-thesis, the dialectic of profound synthesis will emerge.

Factionalism and conspiracy theories do not allow for rational and measured debate. They conspire to make revolutionaries miss moments when utmost creativity is needed. Members may keep their ideas to themselves to avoid being labelled; some may conform in fear; others may simply stay away to avoid the din of threatening noises.

Can this be avoided? The answer, informed in part by revolutionary optimism and more importantly by confidence in the mass of ANC members, is: yes, we can yet in actual practice let a thousand flowers bloom, unencumbered by considerations of narrow self-interest. That is, if the movement consciously spikes the guns of senseless politics and confronts any tendencies of factionalism.

The ANC can and shall recoil from the brink and fulfil its historic mission.

Most branches across the country have been soldiering on despite the challenges: in their meetings discussing the hierarchy of issues from local and provincial to national and international matters, informed by the basic question: how to build a better life for all.

They do know that we differ from a Cat Protection Society because ours is a collective national struggle about the human condition, and our bond of common interests is infinitely stronger than our personal egos.

Informed by the principle that we are a voluntary association, these members understand "democratic centralism" not as a theoretical supposition but a lived experience of their organisational lives. They respect the collectives to which they belong and other constitutional structures of the movement because they know that their hopes lie in the continued strength and integrity of the ANC. And they are determined to ensure that, beyond 2012, well into the second century of its existence, the ANC shall continue to live and to lead.

* Joel Netshitenzhe is a member of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) and Chairperson of the NEC Political Education Committee.


  1. Graham Purchase: Anarchist Organisation - Why is it failing.
  2. Andrew Nathan: Book Reviews (Jing Huang, Factionalism in Chinese Communist Politics).
  4. Edward Said: Disunity and factionalism, CounterPunch, August 20, 2002.
  5. Walter Sisulu: Congress and the Africanists (Africa South, July-September 1959).
  6. OR Tambo: Funeral of Moses Mabhida, Maputo, 29 March 1986.
  7. ANC DIP Press Statement, 27 June 1989.
  8. ANC Constitution, Clause 25.5.
  9. Umrabulo, Number 11, June-July 2001: Through the eye of a needle?.
  10. ANC NGC 2005: Organisational Report.
  11. Transcripts (RF Isaacson, GO Sales, Richard Welford): Florilegium Urbanum, Factionalism within the ruling elite.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Richard Gillespie: Factionalism in the Spanish Socialist Party, Working paper n.59 and quote from Hine, D on factionalism in Western European Parties.
  14. Richard Gillespie: Factionalism in the Spanish Socialist Party, Working paper n.59.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.

Migration as a vehicle for development

If effectively and progressively managed, increasing international migration can be harnessed as a vehicle for social and economic development rather than a source of instability and conflict, writes Malusi Gigaba.

The issue of international migration has recently gained prominence in South Africa. The 51st ANC National Conference, in December 2002, directed that the organisation should develop its own policy framework on the matter. The debate on international migration is often clouded by misinformed assumptions and stereotypes; thus many people regard international migration as negative, something to be combated.

Many countries in Europe are now turning towards conservative paradigms as they struggle to respond to migration. No country is exempt from this process. Like other countries in the world, South Africa is experiencing increased numbers of migrants, both in terms of inflows and outflows of people.

Yet international migration is as old as trade between Africa and all other land masses. It goes back many millennia. Many nation states have at one stage or another been affected by large movements of people from different points of origin. Many countries were formed and forged by migrants. In his book `The Global Migration Crisis`, Myron Weiner says that: "In short, migrants create states, and states create migrants".1 He argues that there have been five distinctive waves of migration in the modern era; firstly, the emergence of imperial powers in Europe from the seventeenth century until the end of World War One; secondly, slave trade during the same period; thirdly, the dissolution of the empires after the World War One; fourthly, the creation of newly independent states in Asia, the Middle East and Africa and the repatriation of what were considered settler communities as part of the decolonisation process; and, fifthly, labour migration during the 1950s and 1960s.

In contemporary times, migration has become more complex and takes place in more varied forms than before. Compared with the last few centuries, international migration today affects every country and person, and impacts on the economic, social, and domestic policies and international relations of more nations than at any other time. At the present rate, it is expected that it shall continue in future to become increasingly prominent in every country and region, accounting for population changes.

Every country is now either a point of origin, transit or destination for migrants; often all three at once. According to Brian Ray: "The frequency and speed with which people can move between countries and continents means that many can simultaneously maintain social, political and even economic ties in two or more societies. Transportation and communication technologies have thrown into the question the permanence of leaving a society of birth behind..."2

According to estimates, there are approximately 200 million migrants worldwide today (equal to the population of Brazil), most of whom, are concentrated in a relatively small number of advanced industrialised countries, especially Europe.3 It is estimated, according to the UN`s Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM)4, that 48.6% migrants are women, 51% of whom are in developed countries.

Further, it is estimated that there are 16.3 million migrants in Africa; 35 million in the United States and 5.8 million in Australia, constituting about18.7% of Australia`s population. The Chinese diaspora is estimated at 35 million, the Indian diaspora at 20 million and the Filipino diaspora at seven million.

Migration has been caused by a myriad political, social and economic reasons. The World Economic and Social Survey 2004 says: "International migration is one of the central dimensions of globalisation. Facilitated by improved transportation and communications and stimulated by large economic and social inequalities in the world, people are increasingly moving across national borders in an effort to improve their own and their family`s well being. In the past few decades, international movements of people have increased alongside, though less strongly than, the expanded international flows of goods and capital... The forces underlying these trends are unlikely to reverse so that these international movements of people will continue - and most probably increase - in the future."

Globalisation has brought about many opportunities for skilled professionals and technicians to seek jobs anywhere in the world. Companies and countries that need skilled labour recruit them anywhere in the world, offering higher salaries than locally available. Skilled people are now more ready to migrate to another country and have fewer ties that bind them to any single country.

Development, fundamental though it is, cannot be seen as a deterrent to migration precisely because those with skills and resources tend to be more mobile. Weiner argues that there is no evidence that underdevelopment will necessarily induce migration or that higher economic growth rates in many countries will, inversely, slow migration. Development can help provide the context for more effective management of migration, and may reduce irregular migration, but will not diminish international migration per se.

However, for many people in developing countries, including the poor, migration offers a way out of poverty for them and their families. This is illustrated in the rising rates of remittances being sent to the families of migrants to meet their socio-economic needs, which are triple the amount of official development assistance (ODA) received by developing countries.

These remittances were estimated to be in excess of US$150bn by 2004, representing a 50% increase in just five years.

The African experience

According to the publication World Migration 2005, there are an estimated 20 million migrant workers and family members within and outside Africa.

Further, it quotes an International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimate of 7.1 million migrants that are economically active in other African countries, some of whom migrate seasonally or permanently within their own countries. African migrants comprise approximately a fifth of the global total and it is estimated that "by 2005, one in ten Africans will live and work outside the countries of origin" and the "number of Africans living outside their country of origin has more than doubled in a generation".

Migration in Africa, although largely undocumented because of lack of capacity, follows the same general trends as globally, orchestrated by a variety of socio-economic and political factors. However, Africa has suffered a high rate of forced migration in the form of refugees and internally-displaced people.

African migration has, as globally, become increasingly feminised and in Africa, it is happening faster than at world scale, with women accounting for about 47% of migrants. World Migration 2005 says that more and more women are moving independently (not simply accompanying their husbands and family members) to meet their own economic needs and sustain families at home through remittances. This has an impact on traditional family structures and creates new challenges for public policy.

Migration in Africa has a developmental potential. Though largely undocumented, remittances are higher than the ODA. In 2002, sub-Saharan Africa received about US$4bn, about 5% of total remittances. North Africa and the Middle East together received US$14bn, with about 8% of this going to North Africa alone.

Historically, migrant labour within Africa has been high, with countries such as South Africa accounting for a number of migrant workers into its mines and farming areas. After 1994, irregular migrant labour into South Africa, especially of working class and low-skilled people from other African States, has risen sharply. This was estimated at between three and five million people by the Department of Home Affairs. However, according to a recent study done by the Centre for Development Enterprise (CDE)5, the "numbers of foreign-born people in South Africa are a matter of conjecture, debate, and controversy... There are widely varying and often highly speculative estimates of the numbers of documented and undocumented immigrants in South Africa". The CDE argues that there are far fewer immigrants in South Africa than we think.

However, labour migration is more complex than migrant labour in apartheid South Africa, which has major implications for development objectives in Africa as a whole.

There are now massive, targeted and aggressive programmes (mainly in developed countries) to recruit skilled foreign nationals, especially from developing countries, in a manner that has proven itself detrimental to these countries` development needs. Rotimi Sankore argues that "Africa is currently haemorrhaging its best brains at an alarming rate" and that the `brain drain`, "has now become a flood that threatens to cause the intellectual desertification of the continent".6 He further argues that Africa had better beware because her highly-trained and skilled human resources are being taken away faster than she can replenish them.

According to Nandi Herbert, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates that since 2000, Africa has been losing an estimated 20,000 professionals annually, and another UN report estimates that there are 21,000 Nigerian doctors practicing in the US alone.7 World Migration 2005 quotes the British Medical Journal estimate that about 23,000 health-care professionals emigrate annually from Africa.

What Africa loses through this process has a direct and heavy bearing on the future development prospects of the continent and will, unless it is managed better and differently, perpetuate the socio-economic disparities between the developed and developing countries.

Cote d`Ivoire is a country that historically, and even to this day, attracts the highest number of migrants from other African countries to work in its cocoa and coffee plantations. By 1996, there were four million foreign nationals in Cote d`Ivoire, compared to 1.5 million in 1975 and three million in 1988. However, several countries, including Cote d`Ivoire, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Libya and others attract more migrants, serving as countries of destination, origin and transit at the same time.

Chidi Odinkalu, a Nigerian international human rights lawyer and specialist on African law and integration, says that "the absence of free movement of persons between Africa`s sub-regions is a key factor forcing Africans to look outwards. Africans from some countries have to wait for over a month for a mere visitor`s visa to other parts of Africa... In practice many are even completely excluded". Many African states seem not interested in African migrants. Even when they are accepted, because of lack of capacity in many African countries to manage international migration, there is lack of local integration for migrants and there is insufficient data and structures to deal with this urgent challenge.


According to the Global Commission on Migration (GCIM), there were 9.2 million refugees by 2005, 75% of whom were in developing countries. War, conflict, human rights violations and political repression were the main causes of asylum in Africa, even though there were growing proportions of economic refugees. In South Africa, although official figures are still being developed, it is estimated that there are just over 100,000 refugees and asylum seekers. However, in recent years, the number of refugees and asylum seekers has begun to decline, both in Africa and in the world, owing to efforts to end conflicts, establish sustainable peace and democracy.

The end of apartheid in South Africa in 1994 saw a rise in the numbers of people who sought refuge in the country. However, despite the assumption that South Africa is swamped by refugees and asylum seekers is incorrect.

The challenge facing refugees and asylum-seekers is to guarantee their safety and security while travelling and, once in the host country, to advance their human rights, welfare and other socio-economic rights. Many face the problem of xenophobia, intolerance and discrimination, especially where they are not locally integrated.

Whereas they have a positive social, cultural and economic contribution to the host countries, this is often not recognised and utilised to enhance both the local communities and economies and themselves through properly harnessing their skills, knowledge, expertise and experiences. Refugees enhance the humanity, deepen the solidarity and bolster the friendliness and tolerance of the host people.

It is increasingly acknowledged that humanitarian assistance must go together with development assistance to ensure that when peace and democracy are achieved, and the refugees return home to re-build their lives, economic growth and development will sustain the peace and democracy.

The end of the wars in Mozambique, Angola, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) saw South Africa, working together with the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the governments of respective countries, assisting the nationals of these countries to return home.

Due to the problems of huge backlogs in the processing of applications for asylum in South Africa, leaving many asylum seekers without status, identification, rights and thus vulnerable, the Department of Home Affairs has launched the Refugee Backlog Project aimed at dealing with the backlog of cases of over tens of thousands of asylum seekers whose status has not yet been determined.

As a result of rising security concerns among many developed countries, especially after the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, laws, regulations and border control measures for the admission of refugees have been made more stringent. Many developed countries have sought to devise various schemes to shift the responsibility for offering refuge to asylum seekers to developing countries.

This has made the situation of refugees even more precarious and undermines international conventions, making the need for constructive and progressive international dialogue and strategic partnerships at multilateral and bilateral on this matter very urgent.

Irregular migration

The 2005 GCIM Report has made a strong argument that the concept of illegal migration be revisited and that we should rather refer to irregular or undocumented migration. Illegal migration could impact negatively on the people involved as they may be ill-treated. Migration, whether legal or illegal, involves people and, as such, there are human rights issues involved.

It is estimated that there are over 10 million irregular migrants in the US alone. When regular doors close, largely for poor and working class would-be migrants, irregular migration options are explored. Regular migration is now more difficult for most people from developing counties.

Irregular migration is inextricably linked to human security and human rights. It is difficult to quantify the numbers of irregular migrants because it is often undocumented, clandestine and can involve human trafficking and human smuggling. Human trafficking is a growing clandestine business phenomenon, involving many organised syndicates from every region of the world. Its profits are estimated at US$10bn.

There are many negative consequences associated with irregular migration, including:

Impact of international migration

International migration, like globalisation, has had an uneven impact both within and between nation-states. It has thus far benefited the developed countries far more than developing countries, and has reinforced the class and gender dimensions of this phenomenon.

International migration tends to favour the top echelons of society, those with high levels of skills and investment capital. They move easily, with better information and through safe modes of transport. They obtain genuine travel documents and permits to enter any country and are easily integrated into their new society. The same is not true for working class migrants.

They have no security, live at risk and may be repatriated any time. They are presumed to be parasitic, and confront negative attitudes and stereotypes and face the spectre of xenophobia.

There is growing recognition and appreciation of the relationship between international migration and development. However, the developmental potential of international migration has both been largely neglected and skewed in favour of developed countries. Many developing countries lack the capacity to forge this linkage between migration and development.

The globalising labour market attracts the most skilled people from developing countries. Labour migration benefits largely the migrating individuals and the receiving countries, but not the countries they leave behind.

However, several other phenomena have come into the picture, making international migration more dynamic, complex and vibrant. These include temporary migration, return migration, remittances and shared responsibility between gaining and loosing countries.

What gives rise to this is the fact that Europe faces a unique challenge of high levels of development, on the one hand, and declining and ageing populations on the other. Developing countries have young and growing populations. Temporary migration (for 5 to 10 years) has thus become an important way in many countries to develop human, social and financial capital. This is achieved through bilateral agreements between various countries and companies to take graduates and other people on temporary migration schemes.

Many countries no longer prefer permanent migration, and because of accessible means of transport, migrants no longer have to cut ties completely with their countries of origin. Countries such as Chile, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Iran, Cuba and others export hundreds of thousands of their skilled and specialised workers to Europe, US and the Middle.

Some temporary migrants receive better skills in their destination countries than they would otherwise have acquired had they stayed at home. Indian and Taiwanese returnees from Silicon Valley in the US became the driving force for the growth of the software and the service export industries in these countries. In several East African countries, returnees have contributed to the growth of small enterprises and the overall development of local communities. It is estimated that over 60% of all overseas investments in China is from Chinese living abroad, who invest both money and expertise in economic development and social progress.

There are many developed countries that are today open to the idea of skilled temporary migrant workers. Increasingly, these programmes are consciously backed by home governments who negotiate with overseas companies and other governments on behalf of their nationals, and thus ensure that they maintain permanent contact with them to ensure that, even while abroad, they nonetheless consciously invest in the country. Many governments thus devise incentives and inducements to encourage these people to return voluntarily as they may have been exposed to more enticing opportunities abroad.

Few countries would understand the political and socio-economic impact of international migration as well as South Africa given the heavy influence it has had on the national question in our country. Even today, migration continues to re-define the national question in this and other countries.

Migration brings about greater diversity and, accordingly, South Africa`s diversity will itself continue to expand.

Brian Ray says: "Unlike earlier eras, migrants today come from every region of the world and represent an incredible array of linguistic and cultural heritages. Moreover, the places that receive them... quickly become kaleidoscopes of cultures, identities, and histories. These cities are the bedrock of integration".

Nation-building shall continue to be a permanent feature of South African and other societies, involving the integration of increasing numbers of immigrants, vital for growth, stability and cohesion.

Immigration has already become a major election issue in Europe. Parties of the far-right are exploiting it to win support in societies already facing socio-economic pressures of their own. Sarah Spencer of the Centre for Migration, Policy and Society at Oxford University says: "Public resentment of migrants and fear of difference leads to discrimination, community tensions, and occasional violence. In addition, it has contributed to the rise in support for far-right political parties, which successfully exploit people`s fears and resentment".8

Often migrants are seen as a problem, and are accused of bringing crime, stealing jobs and undermining the basic conditions of employment. Yet, corruption and crime do not come with immigrants into any country. In the case of South Africa, both the Correctional Services statistics on the inmate population, as well as a CDE report on immigration in Witbank suggest that there are actually very few immigrants involved in crime.

Criminals have no borders and, as such, fighting crime requires cross-border solutions and cooperation between countries. Police services need to establish strong, and not corruption-based, relations with immigrant communities to assist to root out criminal elements among them. Immigrants also have the obligation willingly to offer such cooperation with the police, bearing in mind that criminals jeopardise their very welfare and security.9

Intolerance for crime and corruption must be indiscriminate; they must be combated with the same passion whether committed by locals, or legal or illegal immigrants.

From control to management

According to the CDE: "Immigration issues are hard to tackle because they spread across many areas of public policy, and affect many sensitive interests", and, accordingly, the study concludes: "Managing migration effectively, humanely and, above all, in the national interest is a public policy challenge facing many countries in both the developed and developing worlds."

Such public policy must be progressive in approach and,

The CDE says: "In South Africa, two factors help to complicate the issues and make credible, sustainable policies of migration management more difficult to achieve. The first is the widespread belief that South Africa is being swamped by (mostly illegal) immigrants largely from neighbouring states. It is extremely difficult to accurately estimate the number of foreigners in the country. As a result, the lack of authoritative figures gives currency to wildly improbable popular perceptions of the scope of immigration."

Government must take the lead to initiate public debate to raise awareness among the population, mobilise public engagement and participation, and raise important issues such as the role of immigrants in our national life, labour market and political institutions and systems.

Communities will have to contend with large influxes of immigrants in local schools, workplaces, social services and others. This will require that government establishes coherent and efficient data on immigration and refugee situations in the country and region, better and more efficiently to manage migration in a manner that involves all South Africans. This data must be shared with the public, as well as with other Southern African Development Community (SADC) states.

To manage immigration also means that the interests, needs and contribution of immigrants will be acknowledged, while acknowledging those of the majority of the population. This means that all must accept the responsibility and the outcomes of the integration process. According to Rinus Penninx: "The moment immigrants settle in a country, they have to acquire a place in that new society. This is true not only for physical needs such as housing, but also in the social and cultural sense".10 Government must not try and cannot hope to act alone in managing migration.

The private sector, labour unions and non-governmental organisations need to act together with the state in consultative multi-stakeholder forums to manage the tensions that may and would probably arise; to harness the largest possible array of social forces to manage what is inevitable and unstoppable. These forums should facilitate public debate and dialogue on international migration, including between locals and immigrants, and address the issues of national policy, coordinated implementation and capacity building.

These multi-stakeholder forums must be replicated at municipal level to ensure that they too focus on what is in all the major cities of the world an urgent and rising challenge.

These forums must be proactive and responsive; and ensure that there is effective data collection, policy analysis, research and evaluation and monitoring. Such forums would ensure that the management of migration is a shared responsibility.

Beyond national initiatives, there must be inter-state cooperation at bilateral, regional, inter-regional and global level, especially between developing and developed countries. This will ensure shared responsibility and shared benefits, especially between sending and receiving countries and countries of transit. The SADC Free Movement Protocol and many other initiatives, such as the dialogue between developed and developing countries, attempt to accomplish exactly this.

Responsibility and burden sharing must also ensure that developed and more capable developing countries support the countries that lack capacity through the provision of technical and financial resources, sharing of information, knowledge and expertise and training.

We need to develop an integrated and comprehensive border control strategy and strengthen the Border Control Coordinating Committee, a multi-stakeholder structure, to enhance coordination and cooperation. There must not be exaggerated expectations of what could be achieved through "effective border control". It must attempt to balance national security control and economic, day-to-day migration of ordinary people. Border control does not mean the same thing as immigration control.

The pursuit of peace and stability, development and democracy on the continent is vital to address the root causes of migration and forced displacement, to diminish the push factors and strive to level the pull factors. This alone will not diminish migration, but it will assist to diminish, to a great degree, irregular, undocumented and illegal migration.

As the levels of peace, stability, democracy and development rise, so will border control and human movement also ease, towards a full free movement of persons, as has been achieved with regard to goods and capital. The African Union`s New Partnership for Africa`s Development (NEPAD), democratisation efforts and African Peer Review Mechanism are vital to ensure that there can be better and more effective management of migration between countries with relatively common standards and levels of political democracy and economic development. International migration must be incorporated into national, regional and global economic growth and development strategies in both developing and developed countries.

It would be crucial for Africa to find ways to ensure that Africans abroad and African diaspora organisations support and galvanise support for the African Union and NEPAD, and invest in their own continent and countries. An environment conducive to this must be created to ensure a transfer of resources, information, skills, information and knowledge; as well to mobilise these African ÄmigrÄs to support African political and foreign policy objectives.

International migration is related to globalisation and cannot be stopped.

It will continue to expand and heighten, causing tensions and headaches in public policy and in the political, social, cultural and economic spheres.

The challenge has to do with managing large inflows of working class and poor migrants.

A greater challenge, however, is to ensure that everyone awakens to the developmental potential of international migration and hence to ensure that all countries integrate it into their national development strategies and social and foreign policies. It is inevitable that immigrants will impact on social services such as education, social grants, health and others and this must be factored into policy and planning.

Countries must forge partnerships and relations across borders, regions and continents. The principles of responsibility and burden sharing must eventually be accepted and more capable countries must assist the less capable to develop the capacity more comprehensively to manage inflows and outflows. Most importantly, developed countries must assist the developing countries deal with the burden of poverty and underdevelopment so that they reduce the push factors that induce emigration. This will mean that issues of trade and development must once more be elevated to high priority.

* Malusi Gigaba is a member of the ANC National Executive Committee and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs.


  1. Weiner, M. (1995): The Global Migration Crisis: Challenge to State and to Human Rights. HarperCollins College Publishers.
  2. Ray, B. (2004): "Immigrant Integration: Building to Opportunity". A
    paper presented at the EU Ministerial Conference on Integration.
  3. World Migration 2005: Costs and Benefits of International Migration. International Organisation of Migration.
  4. Migration in an interconnected world: New directions for action. Report of the Global Commission on International Migration (2005).
  5. Centre for Development Enterprise (2006): Immigrants in South Africa: Perceptions and reality in Witbank, a medium-sized industrial town (CDE FOCUS, No. 9, May 2006).
  6. Sankore, R. (2005): Africa: Killing us softly (New African, November 2005, No. 445).
  7. Herbert, N. (2005): Africa: The Lost Generation. (New African, Nov.2005, No. 445).
  8. Spencer, S. (2003): "The Challenges of Integration for the EU". Paper presented at an EU Conference on Managing Migration for the Benefit of Europe.
  9. Gigaba, M. (2006): "Blame crime on the criminals, and not foreigners" (ANC Today Vol 6 No 26).
  10. Penninx, R. (2004): "Integration: The Role of Communities, Institutions and the State". A paper presented at the EU Ministerial Conference on Integration.

Developing Gauteng as a global competitive city region

The Gauteng city region perspective seeks maximum benefit for all from the flow of goods, services and people between the different parts of Gauteng and with neighbouring provinces and other economic regions, writes Mbhazima Shilowa.

In March 2003, the national government released the National Spatial Development Perspective (NSDP). The NSDP contains spatial guidelines for infrastructure investment and development. It aims to provide a framework within which to discuss the future development of the national space by reflecting the localities of severe deprivation and need, of resource potential, of infrastructure endowment and of current and potential economic activity by describing the key social, economic and natural resource trends and issues shaping the national geography. It also aims to identify key areas of tension or priority in achieving positive spatial outcomes with government infrastructure investment and development spending.

To give content to the issues raised in the NSDP, the Gauteng Inter-Governmental Forum of November 2003 agreed "on the need for the development of a common Gauteng region that is both globally competitive and smart; and the need for improved mechanisms of integration and intergovernmental relations work towards improved consultation, coordination and integration at sectoral and provincial levels recognising the different nature and capacities of districts and municipalities."

In May 2004 the Gauteng provincial government adopted a resolution that realises the importance of "building Gauteng into an integrated and globally competitive region where the economic activities of different parts of the province compliment each other in consolidating Gauteng as an economic hub of Africa and internationally recognised global city region".

During the same month, the Premier`s Coordinating Forum identified "the creation of an integrated globally competitive region as an intergovernmental priority".

As part of the preparations for the ANC Gauteng 9th Provincial Conference, the issue was discussed extensively. In a section titled, `A better future is possible and in the making: A shared vision necessary`, the base document says:

"Integration will be the key to unlock resources to halve poverty and unemployment. The possibility of unity in action as a single developmental region is a significant opportunity available to the province:

The sectoral document on challenges and outcomes on transformation of the state and democratisation of governance during the second decade says that there are key features that distinguish Gauteng from all the other provinces of our country:

Our unique position as South Africa`s most densely populated and urbanised area poses both challenges and opportunities. The increasing urbanisation and migration of people from all over the continent puts pressure on infrastructure and service delivery. And yet, the inflow of people with skills is to the benefit of the economy of the province. Gauteng`s compact urban landscape and highly developed infrastructure provide unique possibilities for us to create an integrated province in which provincial government and municipalities implement a common developmental vision for making Gauteng an integrated globally competitive economic region that is best positioned to take forward the country`s commitment to a better Africa and a better world.

At the heart of our vision for the next ten years is the need to place developmental local government as a locomotive for quality service, local economic development and democratic participation of citizens in the affairs of governance. To do this successfully, local government needs to continue to be organised and transformed into an effective agent of development and popular democracy. For Gauteng, we propose that the best institutional organisation required is a single system of metropolitan developmental local government that has capacity and a resource base to ensure quality service delivery, local economic development and participatory democracy.

After discussion in the policy conference and ultimately at the 9th Provincial Conference, the conference resolved to adopt a shared vision of Gauteng as a "City Province" that is characterised by, among others:

On 29 August this year, the provincial and local government in Gauteng launched the Gauteng city region perspective at the provincial legislature.

For the first time in the history of our legislature, public representatives sat together in a joint assembly to discuss social, economic and developmental challenges.

The perspective signifies a turning point in the history of our development as a province. It entails exciting new possibilities for advancement and will propel us onto a higher path of development. It is an initiative which seek to marshal all the province`s forces towards the common good and help us take the qualitative leap forward that we need to fulfil the people`s aspirations and achieve our vision of shared growth and prosperity for all.

Gauteng, with its three metropolitan municipalities, is already regarded as a global city region by virtue of its population density, levels of economic activity and development. However, we know that fulfilling our obligations to the people of our province, our country and the continent requires that we all redouble our efforts.

In the next few decades, the Gauteng city region will continue to grow and face challenges of rapid urbanisation and population growth. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether we want to continue to grow in an unplanned and inefficient manner that reinforces inequality and uneven development, or manage this growth and agree on an integrated, high-level plan to coordinate our efforts and effectively address our development challenges.

Put differently, the question is not whether or not we become a globally competitive city region, but the development of a common perspective that should henceforth guide the development of the Gauteng city region.

Important as it may be to achieve consensus on the perspective between local and provincial government, it is even more important to ensure that the perspective is shared by all stakeholders in the province and informs their long term thinking on social and economic development.

Our joint objective must therefore be to build Gauteng as an integrated and globally competitive region where the economic activities of different parts of the province complement each other in consolidating Gauteng as an economic hub of Africa and an internationally recognised global city region.

During engagements with various stakeholders on the perspective, the initiative was generally welcomed with a number of issues raised, most of which fell into three main categories:

Workers raised issues of retrenchments, casualisation and the poor quality of some of the jobs that may be further exacerbated by the city region.

Together with local government we were able to point to a range of strategies currently being implemented or developed. These include the Growth and Development strategies, the comprehensive Gauteng Aids Strategy, the Social Development Strategy, the Gauteng Safety Plan, the Gauteng Youth development strategy, the Gender policy, the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Strategy, our Human Resource Development strategy, initiatives to promote small businesses and cooperatives, our 20 townships urban renewal plan, our strategies to promote competitive sport and creative industries, and others.

Our development trajectory The initiative to build Gauteng as a globally competitive city region demands a new, integrated way of addressing our development imperatives in Gauteng. In defining our future development trajectory, we need to reiterate some of the key assumptions behind our development agenda. In particular, we are saying that shared economic growth is the main pillar of our efforts to address poverty, underdevelopment and unemployment. Shared growth is a fundamental prerequisite for a sustained improvement in the quality of life of our people.

We also reiterated the need for a developmental state and active state intervention to reverse inequality and marginalisation and ensure that the majority of our people have access to meaningful economic activity and sustainable livelihoods. For those who are unable to engage in economic activity, we need to provide a social safety net, including social grants.

However, we should aim to liberate the majority of our people from dependence on social grants through creating access to sustainable economic opportunities.

In achieving our goals, it is a priority that we improve the capacity and organisation of the state to ensure economic efficiency and growth to address social needs.

Over the past ten years Gauteng has experienced unprecedented and sustained economic growth and a sustained decline in unemployment, from 30.4% in 2001 to 22.8% in 2005. However, this is not enough as we continue to face unacceptably high levels of joblessness and poverty. A key challenge is therefore to avoid a situation where continued population and environmental pressures, combined with the negative social impact of poverty and unemployment, negate the benefits of growth.

In attracting both domestic and foreign investment to expand the productive capacity of the economy and create jobs, we are aiming to increase both foreign and domestic investment. However, in taking this a step further, we need to ensure that we have an efficient public transport system, that we deal with traffic congestion, that we reduce crime, that we improve social and economic infrastructure, that we improve the quality of our health and education systems and lift our skills levels, and that we accelerate the empowerment of women and the youth.

We therefore have a convergence of issues that are priorities for both our people and investors. In addressing priorities such as transport infrastructure, education and skills development, human settlements, safety and security, the environment and health care, we are on the one hand fulfilling the promises we made to our people and responding positively to the concerns of the electorate, while at the same time promoting our province as a destination for investment, tourism, competitive sports and other major events. This creates the possibility of a virtuous circle, in which we improve the conditions of our people and attract investment, which in turns creates more quality jobs and further improves the incomes of our people, which in turn attracts more investment and so on.

Research shows that some city regions have failed to effectively respond to the challenges of globalisation and urbanisation but have instead succumbed to greater inequality, poverty and social exclusion. While we can certainly learn from the experiences of other countries, our response to these challenges must be a homegrown solution that is appropriate to our own socioeconomic conditions, our own history, culture and the needs and aspirations of our people.

While we may share with other city regions challenges such as rapid urbanisation, in-migration, congestion and infrastructure needs, apartheid spatial planning left a legacy which is distinct from the challenges facing other global city regions. Apartheid established townships as dormitory ghettos for cheap and subjugated labour, far from the white cities.

Townships were denied decent infrastructure, services and facilities, while the former white areas had well-developed infrastructure. Today many people still live far from economic opportunities and face high transport costs.

We also face a situation in Gauteng where the three municipal districts -Sedibeng, Metsweding and the West Rand - are underdeveloped compared to the three metropolitan areas of Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and Johannesburg. This is both for historical reasons and due to the changing nature of the economy and the shift to the tertiary and services sectors away from mining, agriculture and, to some extent, manufacturing sectors.

The Gauteng city region today faces the challenge of continuing to reverse the legacy of inequality and uneven development and break apartheid spatial settlement patterns to ensure more even development and opportunities for all.

This is being achieved through a range of programmes, including the promotion of mixed income settlements close to economic opportunities. In addition, provincial and local government are together embarking on a massive urban renewal programme in 20 major townships in the province. This entails investment in social infrastructure and the creation of viable transport and economic hubs that will contribute to the expansion of economic opportunities closer to where people live.

We are finalising the Gauteng spatial development perspective, which will map out current and future development patterns for the province, including social, economic, infrastructure, human settlement, environmental, transport and other characteristics. The spatial development perspective will aim to ensure better urban and land use planning. It will take into account and aim to provide a framework for the spatial development plans of cities and other municipalities. It will become an important tool for planning for both the public and the private sector.

Growth, employment and competition Gauteng is the country`s economic engine, produces over a third of the country`s gross domestic product (GDP) and is the fourth largest economy in Africa.

Like other city regions, we face rapid urbanisation alongside massive in-migration to Gauteng from other parts of the country and from other parts of our continent and the world. Most Gauteng residents are migrants in one way or another and our population continues to increase by about 20% every five years. We are already home to about 9.5 million people, making us the country`s most populous province. Current demographic projections indicate this will increase to around 14.6 million people by 2015. Gauteng will then rank among the largest metropolitan settlements in the world.

While this puts significant pressure on infrastructure, state resources and services, it also has exciting possibilities in attracting skills and innovation, creating new and more viable markets and in making Gauteng a dynamic, diverse, innovative and productive urban hub.

During consultations, concerns were raised that increased social and economic success in the Gauteng city region will lead to more people coming to the province and putting even more pressure on the social and economic infrastructure. The advent of democracy and the abolition of influx control means, among others, that South Africans will continue to choose to go to areas with perceived and real economic prosperity.

Work by the Presidency on a revised national spatial development perspective and linkages with provincial growth and development strategies (PGDS) and municipal integrated development plans (IDP) will hopefully help expand economic and development opportunities in other provinces and mitigate the need for people to travel to Gauteng. In addition, improved economic linkages between provinces can contribute to overall growth and opportunities. However, it is not an option to say we should become less successful so that we don`t attract people. All global city regions attract people, and rapid urbanisation and population growth in Gauteng will continue for the foreseeable future. The challenge is for all of us to effectively confront the challenges.

Among the central priorities of our people is the creation of decent work and the reduction of poverty. We have committed ourselves as a province to contribute to the national goal of halving poverty and unemployment by 2014.

Our ability to create quality jobs and sustainable livelihoods for our people depends in large measure on our ability to attract investment and tourism in our country and our province. Our growth and development strategy has identified key sectors for growth and a range of complementary strategies that, if properly implemented, will enable us to reach our target of 8% growth by 2014.

Some of our stakeholders have raised concerns that the Gauteng city region strategy places too much emphasis on competitiveness and not enough emphasis on development. In their view, this plays into the `neoliberal agenda`.

Competitiveness can be conservative or progressive.

Our aim in becoming competitive is to build and improve the efficiencies and infrastructure that will lead to accelerated economic growth and enable us to achieve our ambition of contributing to the national target of halving poverty and unemployment.

Our commitment to doing this is within the context of growth that is both balanced and inclusive. Our aim is to fulfil the aspirations of our people by marrying shared growth with social progress and ensuring that the benefits of growth are spread as widely as possible.

Many of our stakeholders have emphasised the need for our institutions of higher learning to be able to compete with the best in the world. As one representative said, we need to place Gauteng "at the cutting edge of knowledge production". We need to produce the skills and knowledge that can build new sectors of the economy and provide quality jobs in our province.

We need to reach a point where our young intellectuals don`t feel the need to go to London and the United States to gain work experience but use Gauteng and its universities and research institutions.

The reality is that we are also competing with other countries for investment and jobs. For example, we have attracted certain car manufacturers to Rosslyn due to the availability of a skilled workforce, logistics and transport infrastructure and other capacities. Their location in Rosslyn has created quality jobs in the province and, together with the Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC), contributed to skilling of workers in the sector.

A key challenge is to ensure that the three major metropolitan municipalities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni, and the other smaller cities in the region, work together in the interests of the province, the country and the continent. The Gauteng city region strategy provides a framework to facilitate the alignment of provincial and local growth and development strategies, to ensure synergies between their investment and tourism strategies and to align city development strategies and integrated development plans. The aim is to cooperate internally so that we can compete more effectively externally, in the international arena.

A successful Gauteng city region needs an effective and integrated transport system that includes a variety of different modes of transport including trains, taxis, buses and private cars. Of particular importance in meeting the needs of our people is a public transport system that is safe, reliable, accessible, affordable and integrated.

We are looking at a combination of strategies. The Gautrain is the backbone of the system on the north-south axis and to the development node around the airport in Ekurhuleni in the east. However, many of our people will continue to rely on Metrorail, buses and taxis. Our public transport strategy involving national, provincial and local government and parastatals, must ensure that these are efficient, safe, reliable, affordable and integrated.

Our spatial development plans must also take transport needs into account in identifying new developments, based on the need to ensure that our new settlements are on well-located land close to economic opportunities.

Another important component is air, road and rail freight and the movement of goods around the province, to other cities and provinces, and to other countries. The City Deep container port is Africa`s largest inland port and the fifth largest in the world. Improving its efficiencies will improve the performance of the economy and requires further collaboration between all spheres of government, national departments, other provinces and the relevant parastatals.

Sustainable human settlements

The Gauteng city region requires the development of sustainable human settlements on well located land, close to economic opportunities. The 20 priority townships project is an important part of this strategy as well as our comprehensive housing strategy. This must address inequality and promote social inclusion and mixed income developments.

The Gauteng city region must strengthen safety and security. The province has developed a Provincial Safety Plan that sets priorities for the province as a whole and is a crucial component in meeting the needs of our people.

The collaboration between the metro police departments, South African Police Service (SAPS), communities and business will be crucial to our success.

Many of those who are most affected by crime are the poor and the vulnerable, women, children and working people. First and foremost we must therefore address crime to improve the lives of our people. At the same time, improved safety levels will also enhance the implementation of our other strategies including growth and development and investment and tourism promotion.

Health care remains a priority for our people and in stimulating economic activity and attracting skills. We have already become a significant centre for health tourism. In both cases, our aim should be to ensure we achieve excellence. HIV and Aids is one of the most significant challenges facing the Gauteng city region and requires a multi-sectoral, comprehensive and integrated response. While government must play a leading role in implementing the Aids strategy, to succeed, the strategy must be implemented in partnership with all sectors of our society, including in our places of work, our homes, our places of worship, in suburbs and in informal settlements, in cities and in towns.

In a densely populated urban centre such as Gauteng, the environment assumes particular significance. Growth and development has a significant impact on the environment and we need to take steps now to ensure environmental sustainability in the medium to long term. This should take into account the energy requirements of the Gauteng city region now and in the future.

The Gauteng city region must avoid the pitfalls of social exclusion and growing inequality that have been associated with other global city regions.

This is a significant challenge in the context of existing social backlogs, marginalisation and growing in-migration. The reality is that, if we do nothing, we will perpetuate social exclusion. We must put in place integrated strategies to improve the socio-economic conditions of the poor and provide a social safety net for the poorest of the poor. In addition to the social grant system, we are finalising a province-wide indigent policy to be implemented by different municipalities across the province.


The Gauteng city region perspective emphasises the practical linkages and social and economic relationships, the flows of goods, services and people, between the different parts of the Gauteng region and with its neighbouring provinces and other economic regions.

The strategy does not aim to tamper with the constitutional structures of national, provincial and local government but argues that these structures need to work together to maximise the opportunities for development and progress. It also affords us an opportunity to look at whether, twelve years into our democracy, powers and functions of the respective spheres of government remain properly aligned or need adjustments.

Effectively managing the complexities of building the Gauteng city region requires a conscious, well-informed and sophisticated system of urban governance to ensure close collaboration across the spheres of government and between the public and private sector.

While a single city-region government is not required, "joined up government" is crucial to the performance of the city region - ensuring a well-connected and strategic alliance of government structures, communities and stakeholders. This requires that all structures, especially those at a provincial and local level, think beyond their municipal boundaries. This should involve not just political leaders, but should extend to officials.

Effective governance is not only central to improving social delivery and fulfilling the aspirations of our people, it is also an indispensable component of economic efficiency and job creation.

Both as government and as the movement, we need to determine roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders, including the private sector, develop indicators and benchmarks, examine means for resource sharing across the province, and develop measures to strengthen intergovernmental relations. It is also important to continue to ensure that neighbouring provinces and towns understand the strategy as in the best interest of development and not a threat to their social and economic development.

* Mbhazima Shilowa is the ANC Gauteng Provincial Chairperson and Premier of Gauteng.

A century of principled non-violent struggle against injustice

On the 100th anniversary of the advent of Satyagraha - the philosophy and practice of non-violent resistance - its principles have never been more relevant to the global challenges currently confronting humanity, writes Ela Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi set foot on South African shores in 1893 to take up a legal case on behalf of traders in Durban. His reading of the situation led him to understand that important to the struggle against injustice was unity expressed through organisation. This led to the formation of the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) in 1894. Later on, through undertaking struggle, he came to add on to these tenets culminating in the development of Satyagraha.

On 11 September 1906 a public meeting was convened to discuss further discriminatory laws to be passed against Indians. The meeting was held at the Empire Theatre in Johannesburg. The meeting was called to discuss the Transvaal Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance that required all Asians to obey three new rules:

The meeting produced the Fourth Resolution, in which all Indians resolved to go to prison rather than submit to the ordinance. They made a solemn pledge that their resistance to this Ordinance would be entirely peaceful and under no circumstances would they meet the anticipated violent reaction of the police with violence of their own. This undertaking was strenuously debated with many feeling that this vow of non-violence was a sign of weakness.

Gandhi argued that weakness resulted in cowardice and violence whereas gentleness was the attribute of the strong. Notwithstanding the initial resistance, the Ordinance was passed into law in 1907.

A massive Satyagraha campaign started with thousands of people of Indian and Chinese origin, including prominent religious leaders, burning the passes that they already had, and courting imprisonment. The campaign was expanded to include legislative provisions that imposed a tax on former indentured workers and a provision whereby all marriages performed according to traditional rites would no longer be recognised as legal marriages. These two campaigns brought in thousands of indentured workers from the sugar fields and coal mines of Natal and brought in women from all sectors. The campaign culminated with a massive march across the border between Transvaal and Natal at Volksrust in 1913 resulting eventually in an agreement between the Asiatic people and Prime Minister Jan Smuts in 1914.

Gandhi said: "Up to the year 1906 I simply relied on appeal to reason. I was a very industrious reformer... But I found that reason failed to produce an impression when the critical moment arrived in South Africa. Non-violent action was required."

Satyagraha inspired South Africans and the principles were used in the struggle for liberation in South Africa led by the Congress Movement. Gandhi and the application of the principles of Satyagraha achieved change in India, the Civil Rights Movement in the USA and ultimately the Berlin Wall fell without a shot being fired in anger.

The world has seen three significant developments all sharing 11 September as their anniversaries:

The challenge facing all humanity is to make choices as to which "9/11" will endure. Certainly the peace-lovers among us will choose that which restores our humanity, that which is based on truth and that which shows the keenest respect for all of humanity.

To mark the hundredth anniversary of Satyagraha a number of activities were organised. International Women`s Day, on 8 March, was celebrated as part of Satyagraha celebrations. This day was about women workers in particular and a workshop was held to discuss safety of women in the home and in the workplace, and the close relationship between violence and HIV and AIDS. In April a 22km walk was organised from Phoenix Settlement to the military base on Ethekwini`s North Beach opposite the site where Gandhiji`s ashes were immersed in the sea in 1948. This event was aimed at raising awareness of the concept of Satyagraha and commitment to non-violence. This year participation increased by 110%.

On 17 April the Phoenix community observed the culmination of a two month long promotion of non-violence campaign in schools, in a day long event at the Mariammen Temple involving school children in talk shows, debates and art competitions. This event was attended by almost 30 000 people over the two days. On 19 July the first video and manual to assist educators in teaching non-violence were launched. These have been distributed to a number of schools to test their effectiveness.

Satyagraha and the humanist philosophy of Ubuntu were discussed in a panel at the International Sociology Conference held in July this year. Some 35 local and overseas participants engaged in lively discussion.

On 8 August a conference on issues facing women was held and attended by community organisations, school representatives and municipal and departmental representatives. An Annual Satyagraha Speech Contest was launched on 18 August.

Awards were presented this year to three outstanding South Africans in recognition of their dedicated and tireless work in the community reflecting the spirit of Satyagraha - Imtiaz Sooliman of the Gift of the Givers Foundation, the late Eric Molobi and the late Vishwaprea Suparsad. On the 13 September, Dr Abhangamage Tudor Ariyaratne of Sri Lanka was singled out for his sterling work towards reconciliation in a strife torn area, and presented with the fourth Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace.

An international conference was convened in Durban on 11-13 September. Three hundred participants engaged in spirited discussion and re-dedicated themselves to the values of sharing, compassion, espousing the truth and undertaking struggles against oppression and exploitation.

The conference adopted the following resolution: "We, the peace activists from all over the globe, who gathered in Durban, South Africa from 11-13 September 2006 to commemorate the centenary of Satyagraha, declare:

The conference further resolved that: "We understand Satyagraha to be a philosophy informed by the highest standards of ethics and morality and its essence to be:

"Accordingly we affirm that:

These humanist philosophies which reawaken human qualities in each one of us will contribute to the quest to restore the dignity of all humanity "We therefore pledge to take forward the struggle for non-violence and the peaceful resolution of conflict whether in our own lives, or in our organisations, locally, nationally or internationally by uniting together to work together as participants at this conference to:

Acknowledging Gandhiji`s words: "Willing submission to social restraint for the sake of the well-being of the whole society enriches both the individual and the society of which one is a member."

* Ela Gandhi is a former ANC member of parliament, a member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and Chair of the Satyagraha Editorial Board.

David and Goliath

Who is who in the Middle East / Part 1

The recent Israeli attacks on Lebanon and continuing atrocities in the Gaza Strip are merely the latest in a long list of acts of criminal aggression by the state of Israel, writes Ronnie Kasrils.

Israel has traditionally been likened to the biblical David - a comely young shepherd boy who slew the monstrous Goliath of the Philistines and saved his people from slavery. Not anymore. Despite its small size, Israel has become the world`s fifth top military power, boasting sophisticated land, sea and air forces and, according to general estimates, an arsenal of several hundred nuclear weapons. In its entire history it has seldom balked at using military force against its far weaker opponents, in preference to negotiations and diplomacy. In the manner of former colonial powers it has deprived the Palestinian people of their land and right to self-determination and treats them with extreme brutality born of racist contempt.

Tireless Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery has stated: "World opinion is always on the side of the underdog. In this fight, we are Goliath and they are David. In the eyes of the world [outside the US], the Palestinians are fighting a war of liberation against a foreign occupation. We are in their territory, not they in ours. We are the occupiers, they are the victims."1 Given its record of force even Israel`s government spokespersons have switched metaphors and are choosing different comparisons to describe their country. Israel is like the elephants of the Kruger National Park, explained Ariel Sharon`s former adviser, Ra`anan Gissin, on a recent visit to South Africa. He was speaking as a guest of the conservative South African Zionist Federation, an unabashed advocacy group ready to defend anything Israel does - right or wrong; labelling anyone critical of Israel an "anti-Semite" or "self-loathing Jew" in an attempt to intimidate non-Jew and Jew alike.

"We just want to be left alone," Gissin declared to an admiring audience.

"We seem docile but if you wound us we can go crazy because we are an endangered species".2

The Lebanon Onslaught Yet it is Israel that is a danger to its neighbours and imperils its own people by fomenting war instead of seeking peaceful diplomatic solutions. As the world has seen, Lebanon - a country half Israel`s size - has just experienced the wrath of the behemoth: its people killed and maimed; much of its capital, towns and villages, airports and harbours, highways, roads and bridges, electricity, fuel and water facilities destroyed. So awesome has been the devastation that Gissin could just as well have used the Asian tsunami or Hurricane Katrina to describe Israel`s wrath. The horror is that what was unleashed on Lebanon was the wilful fury of man, not some unavoidable act of nature.

The apparent trigger of rage was the seizure by Hezbollah on 12 July of two Israeli soldiers - one originally from Durban. "Kidnapping" was the way Israel termed the capture of its soldiers on duty in a tense border area.

When Israel seizes Palestinians or Lebanese it talks about "arrest", "capture" or "detention of terrorists". At the height of this crisis Israel apprehended 41 Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament, including eight cabinet ministers and the deputy prime minister, elected in the democratic elections of January 2006 - but peremptorily seized for membership of a "terrorist" organisation. Israel holds over 9,000 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners, women and children among them. Several have been held for longer than Nelson Mandela`s incarceration.

In retaliation for a Palestinian action from the Gaza Strip on 25 June, in which one Israeli soldier was captured on the border - following the Israeli abduction of a civilian Gazan doctor and his son the previous day - the people of the miniscule enclave3 have paid a heavy price of 262 killed up to mid-September. Vital infrastructure has been flattened, including Gaza`s only electricity generation plant. There is great hardship, lack of water and nobody is allowed to leave what has long been a hermetically sealed open-air prison. The Gaza Strip is the most densely populated place on earth, and the poorest in the northern hemisphere. The siege and daily bombardment continues unabated after three months in what is tantamount to a creeping genocide. One Israeli soldier died in this period. Militants in Gaza have periodically fired makeshift rockets into Israel. However, if we are looking for the initial trigger of the current round of conflict we need to be reminded that the killing of an entire Palestinian family on a Gaza beach by an Israeli shell ended a Palestinian unilateral truce that had lasted almost a year. It was this Israeli attack that prompted the 25 June action.

The death toll on the Lebanese side between 12 July and 14 August 2006 was over 1,200 human beings killed - of which one-third were children -according to general media reports. Thousands more have been mutilated and many more have seen their homes razed to the ground. A staggering one-quarter of a population of four million was displaced. The Israeli Air Force launched over 7,000 air attacks, and its navy conducted an additional 2,500 bombardments, reinforcing the massive artillery, tank and ground force assault. All this against a weak country, with no air force or navy to speak of. There have been wry comments that if this was the way Lebanon`s moderate government was "rewarded" after Syria`s withdrawal in 2005, how would Israel treat its real adversaries?

National resistance from Lebanon came overwhelmingly from Hezbollah, but also included the communist combatants of the National Resistance Front, which has mourned the loss of seven experienced fighters out of 184 battlefield deaths on the Lebanese side. Hezbollah fired several thousand rockets into northern Israel, including the city of Haifa, which caused light damage but constituted a huge psychological impact, sending hundreds of thousands fleeing south. Forty-two Israeli civilians were killed. This was in response to Israel`s initial bombardment of central and southern Lebanon and, within a few days, Beirut. Significantly it was the national resistance on the ground against the Israeli invasion force that inflicted most casualties on the Israeli military, 120 of whom were killed.

At the village of Qana in the south of Lebanon, 56 people died instantly -forty of them children - when the building they sought shelter in was hit by an Israeli precision-guided missile. Israel claimed Hezbollah had been firing rockets from or near the building. This was shown to be untrue. The same village, said to be a Hezbollah stronghold, had seen 150 inhabitants die in a similar attack in 1996. Israel justified these massacres in the same way that apartheid security forces explained similar assaults on Southern African frontline states, claiming the "terrorists" hide among the people. Lebanon`s agony continued as Israel applied a punitive land, sea and air blockade. The United Nations (UN) had to plead with the Israeli government to allow a special corridor for emergency humanitarian supplies.

Israel, whose founding-fathers pledged it would radiate as an inspirational "light unto the nations", displays the aggressive mentality of a corrupt colonial power; brutally drowning in blood and flames any resistance to its rule. To claim that Israel was responding to provocation is the cynical old ploy of pinning the blame on the victims. We saw plenty of that in apartheid South Africa.

Investigations into the weapons Israel has used in Lebanon are being conducted by eminent geneticists. New and hitherto unknown injuries to corpses raise the possibility that Israel used "direct energy" weapons and chemical or biological weapons during the conflict.4 These also included suction and white phosphorous bombs used against civilian centres with ghastly results. Over one million American-made cluster bombs and bomblets were dropped on the south. Ninety percent of these were dropped in the last three days before the ceasefire, constituting a dormant lethal minefield.

Since the ceasefire, fifty-two Lebanese, the majority children, have been killed by these mines. "What we did was insane and monstrous," stated an Israeli commander, in an interview with an Israeli newspaper.5 The UN humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, labelled the cluster bomb attacks "completely immoral".6 An Amnesty International Report published findings that point to an Israeli policy of deliberate destruction of Lebanese civilian infrastructure during the onslaught on that country. "Israel`s assertion that the attacks on the infrastructure were lawful is manifestly wrong. Many of the violations identified in our report are war crimes, including indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks," said Amnesty official Kate Gilmore.7 Israel`s claim that it gave people ample warning to get out of areas it planned to bomb was seen to be an absolute sham, since escape routes along the road network had been effectively destroyed and Israel`s aircraft fired on any vehicle on the move. It was mainly the families of the poor, the weak and disabled, unable to flee, who were killed while sheltering in their homes or nearby buildings or caught in the open. Amnesty found this a clear contravention of the conduct of war that forbids the deliberate targeting of civilians. Amnesty likewise criticised Hezbollah for firing missiles indiscriminately into Israel but made it perfectly clear that Israel`s actions were totally overwhelming, excessive and disproportionate, and that Lebanon suffered catastrophic destruction.8 The celebrated Norwegian writer, Jostein Gaarder, regarded as a friend of the Jewish people, was so shocked he wrote: "It is time to learn a new lesson: We no longer recognise the state of Israel. We could not recognise the South African apartheid regime...We call child murderers `child murderers`... We do not recognise the principle of a thousand Arab eyes for one Israeli eye... We do not recognise the old Kingdom of David as a model for the 21st Century map of the Middle East."9

The Zionist Agenda The world struggles to understand the cause of the conflict. Talk of Israeli Jews being an endangered species is the standard Zionist line: the Jews escaping persecution in Europe began returning to Palestine at the end of the 19th Century to reclaim their biblical homeland. As the Zionist pioneers acquired land, and began building up the Jewish community, they were met with increasingly violent opposition from the Palestinian Arabs, allegedly stemming from their inherent anti-Semitism. The settlers, so the story goes, were forced to defend themselves then, as now.

In fact from the outset, Zionism was aimed at the dispossession and eviction of the indigenous Palestinian population so that Israel could become an exclusivist Jewish state. Land bought by the Jewish National Fund, usually from absentee Arab landlords and often by deception, was held in the name of the Jewish people and could never be sold or even leased back to Arabs. The situation continues to this day.

As the Palestinian people awoke to these intentions they quite naturally began resisting. At the end of the First World War and the collapse of the German-aligned Turkish Ottoman Empire - which had ruled much of the Middle East from the early 16th Century - the map of the region changed drastically. Palestine and Iraq (formerly Mesopotamia) both fell under British mandate rule in 1919, with Syria being awarded to France. Lebanon was created from Syrian territory by the French in 1920, which explains Syria`s interest and influence in that country. Britain established kingdoms in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Transjordan.

Anti-colonial struggles soon developed everywhere. In Palestine national consciousness sharpened against both the British mandate and the Zionist settlers. A courageous national uprising of the Palestinian people broke out from 1936 to 1939, and was mercilessly put down by British troops and Zionist militia. The Zionists had no hesitation in using terrorist tactics against both the Palestinians and later the British, whose policy interests vacillated between Arabs and Zionists. Nevertheless Britain gave decisive support to the Zionist project with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, seeing a Jewish homeland as a potential strategic buffer against the Arabs.

Winston Churchill, then Britain`s Colonial Secretary, made this clear in a 1921 statement: "Zionism is good for the Jews and good for the British Empire." This strategy was later spurred on by the increasing importance of the region as oilfields were discovered from Iraq to Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, and the Cold War unfolded. International sympathy for the Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust - certainly the most horrific act of genocide in modern history - flooding into Palestine after the Second World War, proved decisive in swinging the balance of power in favour of Zionism.

Consequently in 1947 the UN decided on a Partition Plan - Resolution 181 -to create separate Arab and Jewish homelands. Approximately 56% of the former British Mandate territory was granted to the Jews and 44% to the Palestinians. Yet the latter population at 1,250,000 in 1948 was double that of the Jews, who up to that stage only owned 7% of the land. The Zionists had no hesitation in accepting the UN proposal - for the time being. The Palestinians, who were not consulted by the UN, rejected the proposal. They were naturally unwilling to surrender any of the land they had lived in for centuries to intruders from Europe. The USA put considerable pressure on Latin American states to vote in favour of the recognition of Israel by the UN at the time, when there were few African and Asian states represented in that august body. The vote was 33 in favour, 13 against with 10 states abstaining. The Palestinians were being made to pay a heavy price for the persecution of Jews in Europe.

Although Israel cast itself in the image of the diminutive David facing the mighty Arab Goliath, the kingdoms of the Middle East were extremely weak and disunited and, despite their rhetoric, unable to assist the Palestinians.

The Zionists claim that Israel had to face incredible odds to survive against the Arab "hordes". They refer to an invasion by five Arab armies.

These are cited as Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria - all weak kingdoms or states under British and French influence. In fact Lebanon had no army whatsoever; the Iraqi`s were mobilised only after the ceasefire; and Syrian and Egyptian forces were poorly organised and led. The only force that had seen action during the World War was the Jordanian Arab Legion -a redoubtable outfit but only two battalions strong. The latter`s monarch, King Abdullah, seeking to hold on to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, was involved in secret negotiations with the Zionists and later assassinated. In fact the Arab coalition failed to create a joint command, never entered that part of Palestine set aside for the Jewish state, and was hopelessly outmatched.

Far from the Arab countries constituting a threat to Israel, it was precisely the Zionists that aimed to subjugate the Palestinians in particular and control the Arabs in general. Israel`s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, made this perfectly clear when he stated: "The present map of Palestine was drawn by the British Mandate. The Jewish people have got another map, from the Nile to the Euphrates." In May 1948 he stated: "The Achilles heel of the Arab coalition is Lebanon. Muslim supremacy in Lebanon is artificial and can be easily overthrown... Smash Lebanon... establish a Christian state there... eliminate Transjordan... Syria will fall to us."10 After Israel`s unilateral declaration of independence in May 1948 - and in the face of an Israeli attack on the Palestinian 44% of territory - the Arab forces advanced with the aim of protecting that section of the partition settlement set aside for the Palestinians. Israeli forces, equal in number to all the Arab forces put together and far better organised and equipped, prevailed. At the end of hostilities in 1949 they had gained 78% of what had once been historic Palestine. This constituted a monstrous land grab.

Jerusalem was divided along the ceasefire line into West Jerusalem under Israeli control, while East Jerusalem and the West Bank were in Jordanian hands, to be formally annexed by Jordan in 1950.11 After the June 1967 Six Day War East Jerusalem and the West Bank fell under Israeli military occupation, which remains the case today.

The indigenous Palestinians lost their land and many - like the Jews of Nazi Europe - became homeless refugees; initially in 1948-49 when approximately 750,000 or 60% of their number fled for their lives; and again in 1967, when many hundreds of thousands more were expelled. Today Palestinian refugees number an estimated four million in the diaspora, with 2,200,000 desperately hanging on in the West Bank and 1,300,000 in the Gaza Strip. Those who remain in Israel amount to 1,200,000 or one-fifth of the population, where they are discriminated against in law as second-class citizens bereft of the property, housing, health, education and municipal rights enjoyed by Jews.

It can be noted from the above figures that approximately 4.7 million Palestinians are living in the Holy Land.

Many Palestinian refugees fled to Lebanon, Jordan and other Arab countries.

This was planned in a Zionist scenario devised years earlier by Theodore Herzl, founder of the movement in 1897, who had said the aim would be to "spirit the penniless [indigenous Palestinian] population across the border" to make way for the Jewish state. Many still live as refugees, with Israel refusing to abide by UN Resolution 194 of 1949, which recognises their "inalienable right to return home". The resolution has been re-affirmed more than 25 times, to no avail.

Ethnic Cleansing The Zionists, and orthodox Israeli historians, claim the refugees went of their own accord. Israel`s so-called "revisionist" historians such as Benny Morris ("Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem"), Ilan Pappe ("Arab-Israeli Conflict"), Avi Shlaim ("The Iron Wall"), Tom Segev ("The First Israelis") and Simha Flapan ("The Birth of Israel") have revealed the brutal truth, concealed from the Western public for decades - and put an end to the myths of the 1948-49 war. The official records, these and other historians researched,12 attest to a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing by the Israeli forces, including an estimated fifteen cold blooded massacres, such as at the Deir Yasin village outside Jerusalem on 9 April 1948, which aimed at terrorising the Palestinian population into fleeing for their lives. Those who did not were rounded-up, marched-off or were loaded onto trucks at bayonet point, and dumped across the borders. As for Zionist allegations that Arab radio stations broadcast instructions for Palestinians to flee, the detailed monitoring by the BBC of those programmes revealed that the claims were invented for pure propaganda.

It is recounted of Deir Yassin that the slaughter of 250 inhabitants was carried out "in a cold and premeditated fashion...the attackers lined men, women and children up against the walls and shot them".13 The research of Morris (an ardent Zionist), Pappe (a communist) and the "revisionists" was stimulated by the opening of Israeli archives 20 years after the 1948-49 War and supported by UN and British records of the time.

They attest to Palestine being dismantled in four distinct waves, in which threats and atrocities were deliberately conducted to induce flight. Records show these were not capricious acts of Zionist extremists such as the notorious Irgun and Stern gangs, but part of a comprehensive plan worked out by all Zionist military formations including the mainstream Haganah (forerunner of the Israeli Defence Force) in 1943. The British failed to stop these atrocities. In the wake of such revelations, Israel`s first minister of agriculture, Aharon Cizling, stated in a 17 November 1948 cabinet meeting: "I often disagree when the term Nazi was applied to the British... even though the British committed Nazi crimes. But now Jews too have behaved like Nazis and my entire being is shaken."14 Cizling`s lament was followed by the publication of a letter to The New York Times by a group of Jewish intellectuals, including Albert Einstein, condemning Menachem Begin and Irgun as Nazi and fascist.15 Nearly all Palestinian towns were rapidly depopulated (for example, Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem were each reduced from around 70,000 to about 3,000 Palestinian inhabitants) and 418 villages were systematically destroyed. The Arab place names of these villages were obliterated in an attempt to erase them from memory. Plundering and looting of Palestinian property was rife.

Ben Gurion confessed his bitter disappointment at the "mass robbery" in which Israeli soldiers and "all parts of the population participated".16 Israel`s Ministerial Committee for "Abandoned Property" received a report that: "From Lydda alone the army took out 1,800 truck loads of property".17 Thirteen thousand Palestinians were killed - some were resistance fighters but the majority helpless civilians. This was the Palestinian "al-Nakba" (The Catastrophe), which continues in one form or another to this day.

Palestinian and Arab historians have documented the catastrophe down the years, notably Edward Said in his prolific writings, Walid Khalidi ("Master Plan for the Conquest of Palestine"), Elias Sanbar ("The Expulsion") and Nur Masalha ("1948 and After").

Zionist and Palestinian Identity What exactly were the origins of these people? And how did this affect their right to the land? Israel is the only state in the world based on biblical claims and the "divine promise to a chosen people", an issue of biblical faith and not fact.

Therefore let us ask who were the Zionists? Modern Zionists at the end of the 19th century, mostly living in the Russian Empire, exploited the Judaic religious faith to make a case for an exclusive Jewish state in the Holy Land as the only way of safeguarding a "Jewish nation" in a perpetually anti-Semitic world.

This was the Zionist world-view at a time of national and ethnic oppression of many peoples at the hands of the reactionary monarchies and empires of Europe. For centuries those practicing the Jewish faith had suffered from anti-Semitism in Europe where many were merchants and traders who serviced the closed feudal economies, and were used and abused when it suited the rulers. In Czarist Russia in particular the common, mainly impoverished and ghettoised Jews frequently faced vicious pogroms.18 But not only in Russia: the scandalous treatment of a Jewish officer in the French army, Captain Dreyfus, falsely charged in the 1880s for spying for Germany, and the blatant victim of anti-Semitism, caused an international outcry and influenced the ultra-ethnic views of Theodore Herzl.

While Europe`s Jews became emancipated by the Enlightenment and French Revolution, as well as the revolutions of the 19th century, Zionists like Herzl saw anti-Semitism as an inevitable phenomenon.

The Jews were a religious faith group, not a national group, living in many countries. The Zionists, influenced by ethno-national trends that were hostile to working class internationalism, became fixated with the idea of creating an ethnic homeland. They looked to Palestine for this possible home.

The Bible refers to the ancient land of Canaan as the land of milk and honey "promised" by God to Moses and his people, the Hebrews.19 This was the territory Herzl identified as the natural Jewish homeland. The Zionists were not particularly religious, in fact many were agnostics. In contrast the religious, cultural Zionists regarded Jerusalem (Zion) and the Holy Land as a spiritual place they sought to visit in the manner of pilgrims. They preached that only with the coming of the Messiah should the Jews be permitted to return to make their homes there. The idea of setting up a state was sacrilege to them. There were also secular, cultural Zionists who in time opposed the political Zionist notion of an exclusive Jewish state in the form it took from 1948.

Biblical narrative raises the question as to what was Canaan and who were the Canaanites. Archaeologists have shown that a Canaanite kingdom did in fact exist in the region of Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria between 3500 and 1000 BC, in the Middle Bronze period. Archaeological digs provide evidence that Jerusalem was a large, fortified Canaanite city already in 1800 BC. The area between the Nile and the fertile crescent of the Tigris-Euphrates rivers is a cradle of civilisation where agriculture and the first towns developed. Former nomadic groups such as the Canaanites, Philistines, Samaritans and Hebrews settled down, became farmers, traders and artisans. Kingdoms, with their rulers, priests, armies and slaves, rose and fell.

The Kingdom of David and Solomon, narrated in the Bible and on which Zionists base their territorial demands, was one such example.

Archaeological and historical researchers strive to base its existence between 1000 BC and the destruction of Judah in 586 BC, while some question whether it existed at all. A subsequent Jewish kingdom existed in Roman times (Herod was one such monarch at the time of Jesus) and was destroyed in 70 AD, followed by the expulsion of most Jews in the second century AD for daring to bravely rise against Rome. It is recorded, however, that a majority of Jews were living outside Palestine at the time of the Roman Empire. Thriving Jewish religious and commercial centres existed in Alexandria and Babylon prior to the Roman Empire`s existence.20 The people who co-existed in Palestine after the collapse of Imperial Rome were a veritable melting-pot of farmers, artisans, traders, scholars, priests, pagans, nomads, Persians, Samaritans, Christian converts, Greeks, Jewish survivors and old Canaanite tribes.21 According to scholars of antiquity, all these people were additions, "sprigs grafted onto the parent tree... And that parent tree was Canaanite... The Arab invaders of the 7th Century AD made Muslim converts of the natives, settled down as residents, and intermarried with them, with the result that all are now so completely Arabised that we cannot tell where the Canaanites leave off and the Arabs begin."22 For Palestinians this is a living legacy. Visitors to the West Bank town of Qalquilia will find that the inhabitants proudly point out that its existence dates from the Canaanite era. Another such place is Jericho, the oldest city in the world, on the western shore of the Dead Sea, which the Bible records as falling to the Hebrews after their sojourn in the desert.

Palestine (Filastin in Arabic) became a predominantly Arab and Islamic country at the end of the seventh century. At the onset of the 19th Century it had a population of some 250,000 of which an estimated five thousand were Jews. The latter gravitated to the Holy Land for purely religious and spiritual purposes, were free to practice their faith and got on harmoniously with their Palestinian neighbours. This was the case throughout the Islamic world where Jews had settled, were accepted and flourished.23 As John Rose, a noted researcher on Zionism and its mythology, points out, at the height of Islamic civilisation there was a flowering of relations and a common Islamic-Judaeo culture.24 Uri Avnery, a noted Israeli scholar, reminds us that in 1099, the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem and massacred its Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. This was 400 years after Muslim domination in which no effort had been made to impose Islam on the Christians and Jews living there because religious freedom was tolerated under Islam.25 Palestinian farmers were devoted to their land, which they had productively cultivated for centuries. The waters of the Jordan River to the east, the Litany River to the north (in present day Lebanon), and the aquifers of the West Bank highlands allowed for the raising of a bountiful variety of crops and livestock. Farmers prospered and families counted their wealth on the basis of their precious olive and fruit trees - much like African farmers count their head of cattle. The townspeople were well-educated, urbane, religious and also secular in their views. They all believed they belonged to a land called Palestine, as well as feeling they were part of a larger Arab people - in much the same way that Africans feel allegiance to their own country and mother Africa.

By the 1880s, and the first Zionist migration, the Jewish population grew to 24,000 or 5% of a Palestine population of 430,000. At the establishment of the British Mandate of Palestine in 1922, the Jewish population had risen to 84,000 out of a total of 841,000 inhabitants or 11% of the population.

British records attest to how productive Palestinian farming was at the time, with the territory becoming the world`s largest exporter of oranges, the famous Jaffa orange named after the coastal town.

A land without people?

Despite these facts the Zionists perpetuated one of their favourite myths, deceiving would-be Jewish immigrants as well as an ignorant world, that Palestine was "a land without people for a people without land". They claimed it was barren and just waiting to be civilised. On the eve of World War Two, after several waves of Jewish migration from Eastern Europe, the census figures kept by the British showed a population composed of one million Palestinians, and 386,000 Jews. By 1945 there were about 500,000 Jews in Palestine or 31% of the population.26 The Zionists claimed at their founding Congress in Basle in 1897, that all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates was "the promised land" where their forefathers had once lived.

They hoped to achieve this by pragmatic stages or what Ariel Sharon would later call establishing "facts on the ground" by conquest or settlement. By 1947 with their eyes set on a Jewish state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River in the east, and Aqaba on the Red Sea in the south to the Litany River in the north, they were prepared to accept the UN Partition Plan and 56% of the British mandate territory, as a launching pad for further expansion and annexation.

Erich Fromm, the noted Jewish writer and thinker living in Palestine, argued at the time that "if all nations would suddenly claim territory in which their forefathers had lived two thousand years ago, this world would be a madhouse."27 One would agree that this is precisely what the Zionists have transformed the Holy Land into. Such logic would for example expel all those of European and Asian descent from South Africa; give vast tracts of the country where the Batswana, Swazi and Basotho people had once resided to Bechuanaland, Swaziland and Lesotho. In fact taken to its conclusion only the rights to the land of the original Khoi and San people of South Africa would be worthy of recognition. On a similar track much of the USA - parts of California, Texas, Florida - would be returned to Mexico. Come to that North and South America would need to be handed back to the indigenous American peoples.

Jewish socialists and communists around the world, in Palestine, South Africa, Europe, America and Arab countries, opposed the Zionist doctrine as ultra-reactionary nationalism - in fact comparable to Afrikaner nationalism and its "chosen race" mythology. Thriving, well assimilated Jewish communities such as in Iraq were not interested in the Zionist project at all, until Israel`s Mossad agents began bombing Baghdad synagogues in 1950-51. In a little known story they were reluctantly relocated to Israel through the connivance of the corrupt Iraqi rulers with Israeli agents.28 Marxists stressed, then as now, the need to organise a common struggle of all population groups for a democratic society in a unitary state; a country which belonged to all its inhabitants regardless of background, as proclaimed in our own Freedom Charter. It was in the winning of democratic rights, equality and common citizenship for all, that a united people could deal with threats of anti-Semitism, racism, fascism, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination. They pointed out that to be Zionist by definition was intrinsically anti-democratic as it endorsed the principle of a state with special rights for Jews. Such outspoken Jews in Palestine, identifying themselves as Palestinian Jews, were often brutally assaulted by Zionist thugs and even killed. Einstein`s New York Times letter condemned the fascist methods of the Irgun and Stern gangs that "inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community". The letter continued: "Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them".29 Even the earlier rabbis denounced Zionism as being diametrically opposed to Judaism, opposed as they were to defining the Jewish people as a nationalistic entity rather than a faith group. Latter day rabbis, Rabbi Hirsch of Jerusalem among them, adhere to the biblical position that "the Jewish people are charged by Divine oath not to force themselves back to the Holy Land against the wishes of those residing there".30 Most tellingly, after the Zionist Movement`s creation in 1897, a delegation of sceptical Vienna rabbis visited the Holy Land to assess the potential of a Jewish homeland there. Their observation was simple and to the point: "The bride is indeed beautiful but already married to another man."31 This of course did not deter the Zionists who plotted from the start to expel the bridegroom and abduct the bride by whatever force was required. In fact the land has been hijacked from its rightful owners exactly as in colonial conquest the world over. Consider that in South Africa such dispossession was a protracted process over three centuries, with ebbs and flows. In Palestine colonial settler dispossession was concentrated into fifty years of extreme relentless brutality, and outrageously permitted to happen in the mid-20th Century.

Despite the support of anti-colonial struggles for independence in the post-Second World War period, it is an anomaly that the process of colonising Palestine came to be legitimised at the United Nations in 1947.

Instrument of Western imperialism

Israel`s functional role as an instrument of Western imperialism against the Arab world was demonstrated in less than a decade after its independence. In 1956 Israel participated in the infamous invasion of Egypt, with French and British forces, to seize the Suez Canal after its nationalisation by the country`s revolutionary new leader Colonel Nasser. This adventure was rebuffed by Egyptian national resistance and an international outcry, with the USA pressurising the invaders to back off.

After the Suez fiasco America soon demonstrated its willingness to become Israel`s chief backer. Noted Egyptian scholar, Abdelwahab Elmessiri, has pointed out that Israel had become a "functional" client state for US interests.32 He observes that when functional entities outlive their use they are unceremoniously dropped by their masters. It was through America`s more than generous assistance in developmental and military aid that Israel became a regional superpower. America has been providing approximately $5 billion in aid annually - $3 billion per annum for military requirements alone since 1967 - and sees Israel as strategic ally of choice with regard to keeping the oil-rich Middle East under control. An American organisation, Jewish Voices for Peace, has pointed out that US military aid to Israel since 1949 "represents the largest transfer of funds from one country to another in history".33 It is estimated that this military aid amounted to $100 billion by the end of the 20th century.

As US President Ronald Reagan explained in 1981: "With a combat experienced military, Israel is a force in the Middle East that is actually a benefit to us. If there were not Israel with that force, we`d have to supply it with our own."

Within a decade of the 1956 Suez adventure, the region was at war again.

Once more the situation was replete with pretexts in which Israel was awaiting the opportunity to strike. In 1967 Nasser, asserting Egypt`s sovereign rights, requested the UN forces to evacuate positions on the Sinai Peninsula, such as at Sharm el-Sheikh, which they had occupied under agreement in 1957 following the Suez debacle. After the UN complied, he imposed a blockade on Israeli shipping in the Straits of Tiran, in the Gulf of Aqaba.

The Israeli forces were well prepared and in June, claiming they were engaging in a pre-emptive defensive strike, launched lightning attacks by air and land on Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian positions. Israel swiftly captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan; Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt; and the strategic Golan Heights from Syria, in what came to be called the Six Day War.

Always ready to boast about their successes after establishing new "facts on the ground" through conquest, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin stated that the Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches in 1967 did not prove that Nasser was about to attack Israel. "We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him," he explained.34 Military chief of staff, Yitzhak Rabin, was equally frank in admitting: "I do not believe that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent into Sinai on May 14 would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it."35 General Moshe Dayan, who gave the order to attack the Golan Heights, explained that "many of the firefights with the Syrians were deliberately provoked by Israel". He further declared: "Our fathers had reached the frontiers which were recognised in the UN Partition Plan of 1947 [56% of the land]. Our generation reached the frontiers of 1949 [78% of the land]. Now the Six Day generation has managed to reach Suez, Jordan and the Golan Heights. This is not the end."36 Indeed history since is illustrative of Israel`s continuing repression of Palestinian people and war on its neighbours. The Israeli David had clearly transformed into the domineering Goliath. Like Goliath, however, it was not invincible. The next war, against a modernising Egypt, showed the tables could be turned.

Egypt managed to achieve the only victory of Arab conventional forces over the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in the 1973 October War, which was a just war to regain lost land. On that occasion it was the well-prepared Egyptian forces that launched a surprise attack across the Suez Canal to expel Israeli forces occupying the east bank, and advanced to regain the Sinai Peninsula. After this Egypt made peace with Israel, although President Sadat who succeeded Nasser in 1970, would die in a dramatic assassination in 1979 for what his Muslim Brotherhood attackers alleged was his betrayal of the Arab cause. Egypt ultimately became the second largest recipient of US aid after Israel.

Israel and South Africa

From this time too, a cosy relationship developed between Israel and apartheid South Africa. Pretoria rushed to the Zionist state`s assistance through massive arms supplies immediately following Israel`s defeat in the 1973 October War. Israel more than reciprocated at a time when South Africa was facing international isolation and mounting sanctions. Among other armaments apartheid`s naval strike craft were directly supplied by Israel; the Air Force`s Mirage jets were upgraded with Israeli assistance; and South Africa secretly built seven nuclear missiles with Israeli expertise. In 1974 Prime Minister John Vorster, interned during the Second World War for his pro-Nazi sympathies, visited Israel as an ally and hero.

At the same time the relationship between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)37, the ANC and Africa`s liberation movements grew stronger in mutual support and solidarity. This had crystallised with a UN General Assembly Resolution in 1975, declaring both apartheid and Zionism racist creeds and crimes against humanity. It was a very different United Nations from that that had voted to recognise Israel in 1948, with many newly independent states having emerged from colonial status. In 1979 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning Israel for its political, diplomatic, economic, military and nuclear collaboration with apartheid South Africa.

Former ANC President Oliver Tambo said at an International Solidarity conference in 1979: "The PLO in Palestine... and the ANC in South Africa...

constitute the core and the vanguard of the liberation forces of their respective countries without whom and against whom no just and lasting solutions of the fundamental problems of the Middle East and southern Africa are possible...We are convinced that out of this very important conference will come a clear consolidate and raise the level of unity among all anti-imperialist and anti-racist forces; ...and rally to the support of the PLO."38

The South African Communist Party (SACP) likewise had consistently expressed a similar position. At its 1989 Congress it stated: "The anti-imperialist struggles of the developing countries are closely related to those of liberation movements struggling against the last remnants of the colonial system. In particular, Zionist Israel and apartheid South Africa are springboards to destabilise independent countries throughout their respective regions. The struggles of the Palestinian people under the leadership of the PLO, the Namibian people under the leadership of SWAPO, and South Africa`s majority under the leadership of the ANC, have an importance beyond their immediate context".39

A criminal defence doctrine

The post-1967 period saw the PLO growing as a more resilient guerrilla force under Yasser Arafat`s leadership. Arafat found a powerful base among the Palestinian refugees in Jordan who were about 40% of the population there.

With the PLO mounting operations across the Jordan River, and following Israeli reprisals, tensions grew between the guerrilla movement and host government. This culminated in bloody clashes in the capital Amman in 1970 known as Black September. Jordanian government forces moved to expel the PLO fearing that the Palestinians were growing strong and popular enough to possibly take over the country. Arafat consequently re-deployed his forces to the Lebanon, among the Palestinian refugee population there.

Lebanon had from at least the early 1940s been a part of Zionism`s annexation plans, with the aim of establishing a pliant Christian state there. Israel, always seeking to expropriate precious water resources from its neighbours, regarded the Litany River in Lebanon`s south as its preferred northern border. It constantly sought to turn the country into a Christian bulwark against the Muslims. It invaded in 1948 occupying fourteen villages; again in 1978, in Operation Litany, in which up to 2,000 Lebanese and Palestinians were killed; and once more in June 1982 which led to occupation in various forms up to May 2000, with thousands more deaths and injuries during this period.

The 1982 invasion, using the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador in London as the pretext, forced the PLO to evacuate Beirut in August after extremely heavy fighting. Arafat relocated his headquarters to Tunisia. The withdrawal was in terms of a UN agreement that undertook to protect the Palestinian refugees in Beirut, particularly from threats by the Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia, an outfit with fascist origins. Under Israeli military encouragement these bandits duly massacred 1,700 unarmed men, women and children in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps on 16 September 1982. Many of the helpless victims were slaughtered with butcher`s knives or shot while the IDF stood by. Women were raped before their throats were slit.

Oliver Tambo, addressing the UN General Assembly in November 1982, stated: "The parallels between the Middle East and southern Africa are as clear as they are sinister. The onslaught on the Lebanon, the massive massacre of Lebanese and Palestinians, the attempt to liquidate the PLO and the Palestinian people, all of which were enacted with impunity by Israel have been followed minutely and with unconcealed interest and glee by the Pretoria racist regime which has designs for perpetrating the same kind of crime in southern Africa in the expectation that, like Israel, it will be enabled by its allies to get away with murder."40

It needs to be noted that Ariel Sharon, Israel`s Defence Minister in 1982, was found guilty by an Israeli government inquiry of complicity in the Lebanon massacres and had to resign. With governmental changes he later returned as a housing minister to construct many illegal Jewish settlements, terming the land occupied as establishing "facts on the ground". He became Prime Minister in 2001. Sharon, nicknamed "Bulldozer" for his notoriety in demolishing Palestinian houses, had made a name for himself as commander of an Israeli Special Forces unit that had razed the Jordanian village of Qibya to the ground on 15 October 1953.

Close to the armistice line with Israel, the inhabitants of Qibya were mercilessly dealt with; sixty-nine of them were massacred, two-thirds women and children. They were locked in their houses that were then systematically blown-up. The Israelis justified the slaughter as a reprisal for the killing of a Jewish woman and her two children by infiltrators whom they claimed crossed the border near Qibya. Such overwhelming and disproportionate reprisals have been the hallmark of Israel`s criminal defence doctrine from its inception.

* Ronnie Kasrils is a member of the ANC National Executive Committee. The second and final part of this article will be published in the next edition of Umrabulo.


  1. Twelve Conventional Lies About the Palestine-Israeli Conflict, Palestine Media Watch,
  2. Cape Times, 22 August 2006.
  3. Forty kilometres long, generally 2 kms wide, 365 square kms in area.
  4. See, 21 August 2006.
  5. Ha`aretz, 12 September 2006.
  6. Cape Times, 14 September 2006.
  7. Press release, 23 August 2006.
  8. Amnesty International Report, 23 August 2006.
  9. Aftenposten, 05 August 2006.
  10. Michael Bar Zohar: Ben Gurion: A Biography.
  11. Ilan Pappe: The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict.
  12. The orthodox Zionist history was previously contested in the 1950s by leading Israeli figures associated with the Communist Party and Zionist left (Mapam).
  13. Simha Flapin - The Birth of Israel.
  14. Tom Segev - The First Israelis p.26 and see also: "Palestine Dossier", published by Shunpiking, 28 October, 2002, for a Canadian perspective.
  15. New York Times, 4 December 1948.
  16. Tom Segev: The First Israelis.
  17. Tom Segev: ibid.
  18. John Rose: Ten Reasons to oppose Zionism
  19. Ancient Egyptian word for "wanderers".
  20. John Rose: ibid.
  21. Kunstel & Albright: Their Promised Land.
  22. Ilene Beatty: Arab and Jew in the Land of Canaan.
  23. John Rose: The Myths of Zionism
  24. John Rose: ibid.
  25. Uri Avnery: Muhammad`s Sword, 23 September 2006.
  26. John Rose: ibid.
  27. American Jews for Justice in the Middle East, pamphlet:
  28. John Rose: ibid.
  29. New York Times, 4 December 1948.
  30. The Washington Post, 3 October 1978.
  31. Avi Shlaim: The Iron Wall.
  32. "The role of Philosophy and ideology in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: An Outsiders Perspective" - IGD Conference September 2006; Prof Abdelwahab Elmessiri, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt.
  33. Footnote: website
  34. Naom Chomsky: The Fateful Triangle.
  35. David Hirst: The Gun and the Olive Branch.
  36. London Times, 25 June 1969.
  37. Umbrella body of numerous Palestinian Movements including Arafat`s Fatah.
  38. Address to the International Conference in support of the Liberation Movements of Southern Africa and in support of the Frontline States, April 10, 1979.
  39. The Path to Power; Programme of the South African Communist Party, adopted at the Seventh Congress, 1989.
  40. Statement at the plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 9 November 1982.

A new type of partnership

The African Renaissance and the development of NEPAD / Part 1

Efforts to bring about an African renewal have crystallised into the New Partnership for Africa`s Development. This programme is about restoring the dignity, respect, pride and ubuntu of the African people, writes Frank Chikane.

It is now ten years since President Thabo Mbeki made the seminal speech, "I am an African". From a South African perspective, this speech is considered as the trigger for the new movement of the African Renaissance that has given birth to the African Union (AU) development programme the New Partnership for Africa`s Development (NEPAD).

At a continental level, there is a multiplicity of perspectives relating to the origins of the concept and vision of the `African Renaissance` and on how this led to the development of NEPAD. As one would expect, academics would track the concept of the `Renaissance` to its original use in relation to the great revival of art and learning in Europe during the 14th to 16th centuries. Some re-appropriate the concept for themselves and give it a new meaning to inspire a rebirth or `revival` of the African continent after years of slavery, racism, colonisation, neo-colonialism, underdevelopment, dictatorship and military rule. Others simply use this historical approach to critique the concept, in a static way, as a European concept that has no relevance to the African experience.

Another approach is an Africanist historical perspective. It tracks earlier related concepts used by African leaders and scholars. Examples are the concept of `Regeneration` used in the 19th century by leaders like James `Africanus` Horton, James Johnson, Edward Blyden and Pixley ka Isaka Seme.

Other concepts used were the `African Personality` (Edward Blyden); `Renascent Africa` (Nnamdi Azikiwe); `African self-discovery and self affirmation` (LÄopold SÄdar Senghor); `Consciencism` and `African Personality` (Nkwame Nkrumah). Other proponents of similar ideas were Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Sekou Toure and Kenneth Kaunda. One theme that ran through the perspectives of the post-colonial African leaders is that of `African Socialism`. The starting point of this perspective is their belief in a classless, communalist, pre-colonial Africa and thus wanted to create a `new` Africa based on African socialist principles (Maloka). This `new` Africa project collapsed by the end of the 1960s following the overthrow of Nkrumah and Azikiwe.

The 1970s and 1980s were characterised by the Cold War and the development of more radical perspectives about Africa. The writings of Franz Fanon and Amilcar Cabral informed most activists. Modernisation theory gave way to dependency theory; class replaced race and culture and Pan-Africanism gave way to internationalism (Maloka).

Some would consider the 1991 Kampala Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA) as having kick-started the current movement. In recent times, a conference to discuss the matter of the African Renaissance with the theme, "An African Renaissance at the Dawn of the Third Millennium", was held in Dakar, Senegal at the Cheikh Anta Diop University. The conference was held in February-March 1996, a few months before President Mbeki`s "I am an African" speech. In an article entitled "African Renaissance Compromised at the Dawn of the Third Millennium" (CODESRIA Bulletin, No. 1, 1998), Andre Mbata B Mangu congratulates the "South African Vice-President Thabo Mbeki... for adopting `the African Renaissance` as a principal theme of his country`s diplomacy", having themselves discussed the topic at Dakar earlier.

Whatever its origins, whatever its history, Africans have reappropriated and redefined the concept for themselves giving it a new meaning of a vision and programme to renew the African continent - a rebirth of Africa!


The ANC`s vision of the African Renaissance and the level of consciousness among its members in relation to this vision are a direct product of the nature and duration of our struggle for liberation and its unprecedented international dimension. Its first generation of leadership at the turn of the last century was part of the Pan-Africanist discourse at a continental and international level. Most of this leadership had travelled internationally and some studied abroad, giving them an opportunity to interact with other African leaders on the continent and in the diaspora.

Pixley ka Isaka Seme`s seminal text on "The Regeneration of Africa", published a century ago (1906), demonstrates the level of engagement and preoccupation with the challenge of the renewal of the African continent a century later. He says in this text:

"The brighter day is rising upon Africa.

Already I see her chains dissolved,
Her desert plain red with harvest,
Her Abyssinia and her Zululand
The seats of science and religion,
Reflecting the glory of the rising sun

From the spires of their churches and universities.

Her Congo and Gambia whitened with commerce,
Her crowded cities sending forth the hum of business
And all her sons employed in advancing the victories of Greater peace and more abiding than the spoils of war.

From the four corners of the earth, Africa`s sons, Who have been proven through fire and sword, Are marching to the future`s golden door Bearing records of deeds and valour done."

Seme ends this text with a poetic piece. "O Africa!" he says: "Like some great century plant that shall bloom In ages hence we watch thee; in our dreams See in they swamps the Prospero of our stream; Thy doors unlocked, where knowledge in your womb Hath lain innumerable years I gloom.

Then shall though, walking with that morning glean, Shine as thy sister lands with equal beam."

His definition of the term `regeneration` was the `entrance into a new life, embracing the diverse phases of a higher, complex existence`. While recognising the diversity of the peoples of Africa he asserted that the African people possess a "common fundamental sentiment which is everywhere manifest, crystallising itself into one common controlling idea". He talks of the agencies of "a social, economic and religious advance" that "tell of a new spirit which, acting as a leavening ferment, shall raise the anxious and aspiring mass to the level of their ancient glory". Africa, he says, refuses to "camp forever on the borders of the industrial world". In this regard, Seme continues to say that Africa sent its children to some of the best schools abroad, who, on their return, like arrows, shall drive darkness from the land.

As early as 1897, Enoch Sontonga composed the famous hymn, "Nkosi sikelel` iAfrica", which became the national anthem of many Southern African countries following their independence. As a South African, Sontonga could have asked God to bless South Africa. But instead, he prays for the blessing of Africa, indicating the levels of consciousness about South Africa as being part of the fortunes - positive or negative - of the African continent. The anthem ends by saying "Woza Moya oyiNgcwele. Usikelele, Thina lusapho lwayo".

Once they had attained their independence, most of Africa risked itself and made sacrifices for the freedom of South Africa from white minority rule.

The Liberation Committee of the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) was seized with this struggle until all white minority regimes were eliminated in the Southern African region. The struggle for liberation in South Africa was also internationalised by the ANC`s external mission, through the anti-apartheid movement (and related organisations) and other means. The ANC`s alliance with the Communist Party also contributed in the internationalisation of the struggle against the apartheid regime. This international strategy was one of the four pillars of struggle of the liberation movement.

The ANC, therefore, did not arrive at this consciousness about the need for the renewal of the African continent by chance. It did so as part of the legacy of many years of struggle. In a discussion paper on "Foreign Policy in a new democratic South Africa" dated October 1993, and as part of the preparations for taking over government after the 1994 democratic elections, the ANC makes a number of pertinent statements. It says that:

It is not surprising that once South Africa was free, the first democratically elected President, Nelson Mandela, could say at the Tunis Summit of the OAU in June 1995: "Finally, at this Summit meeting,...we shall remove from our agenda the consideration of the question of apartheid South Africa.

"Where South Africa appears on the agenda, let it be because we want to discuss what its contribution shall be to the making of the new Africa Renaissance. Let it be because we want to discuss what materials it will supply for the rebuilding of the African city of Carthage.

"Africa cries out for a new birth, Carthage awaits the restoration of its glory.

"If freedom was the crown which the fighters of liberation sought to place on the head of mother Africa, let the upliftment, the happiness, prosperity and comfort of her children be the jewel of the crown.

"We know as a matter of fact that we have it in ourselves as Africans to change all this. We must, in action, assert our will to do so. We must, in action, say that there is no obstacle big enough to stop us from bringing about a new African Renaissance.

Mbeki`s seminal speech, "I am an African", left no doubt about the consciousness of South Africa, about its Africanness and about its commitment to work for the rebirth of the continent. Interestingly, Seme started his speech in 1906 in a similar way, by saying, "I am an African, and I set my pride in my race over against a hostile public opinion".

The African Renaissance vision

It was Mbeki`s speech that ultimately inspired the conceptualisation of the vision of the African Renaissance. Following this speech, a team of senior advisors in the Deputy President`s Office then decided to `download` the vision from the Deputy President (and thereby that of the ANC) and translate it into an operational plan to achieve this objective. This involved discussions within the ANC together with its alliance partners, consultations within government and consultations with and between civil society entities in South Africa.

By 1997, an elaborate plan was developed to engage in consultative processes with the leadership of the African continent, civil society and other strategic international partners who would be critical for a programme of the renewal of Africa. These involved `party-to-party` discussions, discussions with and between civil society, discussions between civil society and government, and government to government discussions at all levels. Both President Mandela and Deputy President Mbeki used all available opportunities, like bilateral meetings (state, official and working visits in and out of South Africa); multilateral meetings (SADC, OAU, NAM, South-South meetings, the Commonwealth, UN and other regional economic formations and institutions); and any encounter with civil society and media opportunities, between 1997-2001 to share and exchange views about this vision. This led to the development of the New Partnership for Africa`s Development (NEPAD) with a secretariat based in South Africa.

The discussions within the ANC about the vision of the African Renaissance culminated in an extensive analytical Political Report of the President to the 1997 50th National Conference in Mafikeng on the vision of the African Renaissance. Following this report, the conference adopted a resolution that said:

This resolution informed the government`s strategies and the development of the content of the African Renaissance to achieve the objective of the renewal of the African continent. An analysis of the history of the African continent from its early days to the period of the Cold War convinces us that a confluence of factors on the continent and globally had made it possible for the 21st century to be declared the African century. In pursuance of this, the ANC`s 1999 election manifesto committed the ruling party to work for "a better Africa and a better world".

Once the post-election government was constituted in 1999, the newly-elected President, Thabo Mbeki, led a team of ministers, their directors-general and other senior officials to discuss and develop the theoretical framework and strategy to give content to the vision of the African Renaissance as mandated by the organisation. After months of intense work and research, a document entitled "The Millennium Partnership for the African Recovery Programme" was produced and used as a basis for consultations and discussions with other African leaders.

Consultations with and between civil society entities in South Africa resulted in the `African Renaissance Conference` in September 1998. All sectors (workers, academia, business, religious, community and other non-governmental organisations) were invited to participate in the conference. The outcomes of this conference, in turn, led to the launch of the South African Chapter of the African Renaissance (SACAR) one year later.

Again, all sectors of our society were invited to participate in SACAR.

Consultative workshops were also held at provincial and local level resulting in provincial and local forms of African Renaissance organisations and programmes.

Earlier, in 1998, a civil society institute, called the Africa Renaissance Institute (ARI) was launched in Botswana to organise civil society within the continent. The first Interim Executive Board of the Institute consisted of Ambassador Falilou Kane of Senegal, Mwahafar Ndilula of Namibia, Patrick Nkanza of Zambia, Bax Nomvete of South Africa, Kapembe Nsingo of Zambia and Washington Okumu of Kenya. In a brochure produced after this meeting, the institute is presented as "a product of two years of consultations, formulation and organisational work out of which evolved several pragmatic operational strategies aimed at establishing the most effective way of mobilising and networking Africa`s human resources, intellectual wealth and enterprise for an African Renaissance in the third millennium". It was designed to serve as a vehicle for "Africa`s thinkers, researchers, and development workers in all walks of life, across barriers of language, religion, and geographic borders, who are motivated by the quest for Africa`s survival, recovery, and sustainable development".

Unfortunately, the development of the ARI was slow given the social and political conditions on the ground in many African countries and the state of civil society organisations. As a result, by March 2002, only fifteen countries had established national chapters of the ARI and steering committees were established in six other countries. In Liberia, for instance, the steering committee was disbanded because of the conflict in the country. The South African Chapter of the African Renaissance (SACAR) was part of this family of ARI Chapters.


The same can be said about the origins of NEPAD. Many would trace it to the September 1999 Extra-Ordinary Summit of the OAU held in Sirte, Libya.

Senegal could argue that NEPAD developed from its own OMEGA Plan that was merged with the Millennium African Recovery Programme (MAP) drafted from South Africa in 2001. Others would say that it started with the decision of the 2000 OAU Summit in Togo which mandated Presidents Abdelaziz Bouteflika (of Algeria), Olusegun Obasanjo (of Nigeria) and Thabo Mbeki to coordinate their presentation at the G8 meeting in Okinawa, Tokyo. Some would say that it became a programme of the OAU when it was adopted at the Summit in Lusaka in 2001, firstly as the New African Initiative (NAI) and later called NEPAD.

These different views do not suggest that there are disagreements or contradictions. It is simply an indication of different perspectives and views from different vantage points. These events though are interrelated, and together, they present a complete picture of the origins of NEPAD.

From a South African perspective, NEPAD is seen within the context of the development of the vision of the African Renaissance; the formation of the Africa Renaissance Institute (ARI) and its South African chapter, the South African Chapter on the African Renaissance (SACAR); the discourse and decisions within the ANC leading to African Renaissance policy positions; and the development of the MAP concept document that formed the base from which the New African Initiative (NAI) and NEPAD concept documents were developed. This perspective sees the decision in Lome, Togo, as part of the strategy to introduce the vision of the African Renaissance within the courts of the OAU.

At Lome, Mbeki made the proposal that the then chairpersons of the OAU (President Bouteflika), the South-South Summit (President Obasanjo) and NAM (President Mbeki) who were individually mandated to make representations to the 2000 G8 meeting on various inter-related matters of concern for developing countries, should coordinate and integrate their positions for submission to the G8. Accordingly, an opportunity presented itself for the three leaders to develop a continent-wide comprehensive developmental programme to renew the African continent. An Algeria-Nigeria-South Africa Task Team was constituted to develop a working document in this regard for longer term engagement within the African continent. It is within this context that South Africa prepared and tabled MAP as its contribution to this development.

Between the 2000 Summit in Togo and the one in Lusaka in 2001 two further interventions were made. One was by Senegal`s President Abdoulaye Wade who presented the `OMEGA` for integration with `MAP`. Another was the `Compact for African Renewal Initiative by KY Amoako, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Following a meeting in March 2001, it was agreed that "there was no philosophical or policy differences between the positions in MAP and the thinking reflected in the Compact document" and that the `Compact for African Recovery` be considered as an input into the MAP process. The final document presented to the OAU Summit in June 2001 was called `A New African Initiative` (NAI), later changed to the `New Partnership for Africa`s Development` (NEPAD).

The 2002 Stellenbosch Conference of the ANC welcomed the launch of the AU and the adoption of NEPAD as a significant development in the advancement of Africa`s cause. It further noted that this created the possibility of fundamental change in Africa`s political and economic landscape. The conference resolved that the "ANC should continue to give its fullest support, promote and defend unreservedly NEPAD and the African Union (AU)".

Further, the conference resolved that the ANC should work to consolidate the participation and support of the Tripartite Alliance behind NEPAD, and that an outreach programme be undertaken to popularise NEPAD.

The question often asked is, what is the difference between NEPAD and the earlier efforts of Africa during the 1970s and 1990s? Adebayo Adedeji, one of the leading African development activists, says that "while African leaders can be faulted in many ways, they have made a series of heroic efforts since the early 1970s to craft their own indigenous development paradigms". The first attempt was the "Declaration on Cooperation, Development and Economic Independence" adopted at the 1973 OAU Summit. The July 1979 Summit adopted the historical Monrovia Declaration which laid the basis for the Lagos Plan of Action adopted at a Special Economic Summit in Nigeria the following year. This African developmental plan for the 1980s was inspired by the conviction that the same determination which virtually rid the continent of political domination would produce the same results for the economic liberation of the continent.

After five years of unsuccessful implementation of the Lagos Plan an attempt was made to revive it through the "African Priority Programme for Economic Recovery" (APPER). This led to the UN adopting the "Programme of Action for African Economic Recovery and Development, 1986-90" (UN-PAAERD), a compact between African leaders and the international community. Again, this programme did not produce the desired results because of many factors, including structural adjustment measures of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank`s national programmes which were not always directly related to the goals and targets of the Programme of Action. This programme was followed by the "African Alternative Framework to Structural Adjustment for Socio-economic Transformation (AAF-SAP), 1989; the African Charter for Popular Participation for Development, 1990; and the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa (UN-NADAF) in 1991.

There are many factors which caused most of these programmes to fail. Among these were the negative impact of the Cold War on developing countries; dictatorships and military regimes; lack of capacity and, in some instances, failure of leadership; lack of support from the international community and external prescriptions for Africans; and an unequal system of economic relations which impoverished developing countries further, particularly African countries.


There is no gainsaying the fact that Africa has born the brunt of the worst of humanity. Africa was the worst victim of five centuries of slavery, about three centuries of colonisation and neo-colonial systems; years of dictatorships and military regimes; and the ravages of about fifty years of the Cold War. This history left Africa deeply impoverished; robbed of its identity, its culture, its wealth, its natural resources and its human capacity. Africa`s natural developmental path was rudely interrupted and its history distorted. By the end of the last century, Africa was characterised by deep levels of poverty, wars, intra- and interstate conflicts, displaced persons and refugees. This resulted in the racist forms of self-fulfilling prophecy of African pessimism.

The challenge for Africa at the end of the 20th century was to reverse this negative legacy and enable Africans to regain their humanity and their rightful place in the world. This is what the new movement of the African Renaissance and the NEPAD programme are about.

There are a number of factors which created conducive conditions for a vision and programme like NEPAD. The first was the end of the Cold War which was responsible for many of the divisions on the continent, as well as intra and inter-state conflicts with proxy wars of the powerful which were fought on the grounds of the powerless and the poor. The second was the end of the apartheid system which was the last bastion of white minority rule. This released the energies of South Africans and those of the continent to be able to focus on the renewal of the African continent.

There are two other events which prepared the ground for the NEPAD vision and Programme. The first earlier landmark declaration was the 1990 African Charter for Popular Participation in Development which also helped to complete the work of the African Charter on Peoples` and Human Rights. The Charter for Popular Participation recognises the role of the people in development. The second is the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community (The Abuja Treaty) of 1991. The Treaty went beyond the OAU Charter by recognising the "promotion and protection of human and peoples` rights" and "accountability, economic justice and popular participation in development". It laid the foundation for the Constitutive Act of the African Union adopted in 2000 and the launch of NEPAD in 2001.

NEPAD is a vision and a framework for change in the way in which Africa sees itself, feels and thinks about itself. It is a vision about how Africa wants to change the pessimistic view about itself. It is about restoring its dignity, respect, pride and ubuntu. NEPAD is about the people and for the people. It is participatory; it makes people the agents of change, and allows them to determine their own destiny.

NEPAD is about gender equality and empowering women. It has a Gender Unit which ensures that all NEPAD priority programmes are being designed and implemented in a manner that integrates gender mainstreaming. A gender mainstreaming strategy is in place and a NEPAD Gender Task Force has been established to act as a reference group for gender mainstreaming.

Unlike in the past, NEPAD is a vision and a programme which has been independently initiated and developed by Africans themselves as opposed to one dictated from outside of the continent. As a result it is owned by Africans.

NEPAD is about leadership. It is about African leaders taking responsibility for their countries, their continent and becoming accountable to their people. It is about leadership that is not self-serving with no regard for the conditions of life of its people. It is about leaders that are not just proxies for others, primed to serve their interests other than those of their people. It is led by an Implementation Committee of Heads of State and Governments (HSGIC) who report directly to the AU Summit. It has its own unique African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) to ensure best practice and guarantee support from its peers.

NEPAD has changed the nature of the relationship between the donor and the recipient, the developed and the developing countries. It has contributed to a partnership of mutual trust, respect and responsibility. This `new` type of `partnership` is expressed in the form of the Africa Partnership Forum and the standing interaction with the G8 member states since 2000. Another paradigm shift is the reprioritisation of agriculture, infrastructure, science and technology and regional economic integration with development partners. This means that the narrow approach of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) has been replaced by a comprehensive and holistic approach to development.

NEPAD is about partnership within and between various sectors of our societies. It is about partnerships between governments and their people. It is about partnerships between countries, within and between regions, within the continent and between continents. It is a South-South and South-North partnership.

In short, NEPAD`s revolutionary agenda and its intervention have, for the first time, given back to the African peoples the right to determine a development path for themselves.

The major success story of NEPAD is that it constitutes a new, comprehensive, holistic policy framework for African development that is supported by detailed indicative plans for all key politico-socio-economic sectors. Through intensive dialogue and strong leadership, the international community, including the private sector, has been persuaded to pledge its support for the implementation of the programme.

There are eight priority areas for NEPAD: political, economic and corporate governance; agriculture; infrastructure, education; health; science and technology; market access and tourism; and environment. Part Two of this paper will focus on these priority areas. It will critically assess progress made, identify the challenges the programme has faced and propose ways in which these could be tackled.

* Frank Chikane is a member of the ANC National Executive Committee and Director-General in the Presidency. The second part of this article will be published in the next edition of Umrabulo.

Chinese socialism and the market economy

China`s experiences of gradually introducing market features into its economy, to build socialism with Chinese characteristics, provides some important lessons for South Africa, writes Supra Mahumapelo.

The opening up and economic reform of the Chinese economy was a decision taken by the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) after a very careful analysis of the objective balance of forces and its own objective and subjective strengths and weaknesses.

As the most populous country on the globe (with 1.2 billion people) and among the very few countries implementing a socialist economic policy, China formally opened up its economy in 1978. This approach was based on the theory developed by Deng Xiaoping of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Embedded in this theory is a relentless effort by the CPC to strive for the emancipation of the mind, the practice and courageous exploration of the spirit of seeking truth from facts as posited by Li Tieying during his input at the international symposium of "The Market Economy of China" in 1993.

This approach by China seeks to reject in practice a dogmatic approach of which some of the organisations propagating socialist policies often become victims. The country and its leadership have developed the art and capacity to continue to critically analyse the national and global conditions within which they seek to pursue socialist objectives.

In practice, China understands that the conditions within which they pursue the objectives of a socialist state are neither of their making nor desire.

Hence, the understanding and acknowledgement of seeking truth from facts by, among other things, gradually and very sequentially introducing elements of the market as part of increasing the possibilities to build vibrant socialism.

The Chinese economy has some similarities with the South African economy in the sense that there is a far more advanced and efficient urban economic base, with rural conditions that compel people to move from the periphery to the centre in search of better opportunities by exchanging their labour for wage income.

As we reflect on these matters of socialism and the market economic system of China, we must not lose sight of the reality that economies are not static; they change all the time.

As Cox puts it "small, independent producers existed in all the old-regime societies, along with a degree of commodity trade in basic necessities. In old regime China, there were small cultivators and artisans, and in the old-regime Islamic societies, a flourishing artisan production. Merchants accumulated wealth by trading in commodities produced by the artisans and farmers, although they did nothing to change the methods of and organisation of production..."

Chinese Socialist Market Economic Framework

Since adopting policies of economic reform, China has enjoyed some enviable and commendable dynamic economic development. There has been rapid growth of the economy (in the double figures), continuous industrial output value, more investments have been attracted partly due to the desire by investors to access and provide services to China`s huge population.

The Chinese socialist market economic approach is still undergoing gradual introduction and, in some instances, it is inevitable that there will be some degree of friction between the old and the new approaches (between centralised commandist planning and marketism). This dualism leads to contradictions that the Chinese seem to be managing well without creating unnecessary political resistance that would shift focus away from the most urgent fundamental political challenges.

Any new policy approach is bound to be characterised by concomitant challenges. In China, the infrastructure necessary to respond to the needs of such a rapidly growing economy is not yet fully capacitated to meet the demands of development. There are real challenges around the financial sector that include increased irregularities in financial management and a rapid increase in prices. To respond to these challenges, measures have been undertaken by the government including raising interest rates for macroeconomic stabilisation.

The sequential and gradualist approach implemented by China arises from the lessons and experiences of countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union characterised by radicalism and shock economic transformation.

Change from the old to the new is bound to create some uncertainties and discomforts. It is up to the leadership of any institution or organisation introducing such changes to bring certainty and some degree of predictability. The CPC has played this role very well.

Firstly, China had to face the challenge of taking its people along because the people were used to a system which had been in practice for many years such that the economic system had become their way of life and to an extent part of their culture.

Secondly, there was no historical precedent that China could follow. That is why they say that their system is socialism market oriented with Chinese characteristics.

Thirdly, contradictions emerged as employees in government earned lesser salaries than those in the private sector.

Fourthly, as everyone has a right to participate in the economy, some government employees started their own private enterprises to earn extra income.

There are many other challenges, which include increased potential for corruption, and a possible stampede arising from competition to participate in business and accumulate more.

Responding to some of these challenges, Deng Xiaoping always alluded to the need to educate the masses and put in place the necessary legal regime as a control measure. The Chinese themselves acknowledged that this would not be an overnight process.

In October 1985, Deng Xiaoping summarised the essence of socialism and marketism by positing that "there is no fundamental contradiction between socialism and a market economy. The problem is how to develop the productive forces more effectively. That is why we have been drawing on some useful capitalist methods".

The challenge for South Africa is whether this understanding can become part of the necessary lessons we can usefully take along as we unfold and propel the National Democratic Revolution.

The objective reality is that as things appear today, China is on a growth path to become a global economic superpower. However, one of the pertinent challenges facing China is inflation as the economy continues to grow in an unprecedented manner.

Similar to South Africa, the People`s Republic of China faces the inevitable challenge of having to strike the necessary balances of cooperation between the national, provincial, regional and local spheres of government.

The country also has to urgently continue to tackle the challenges of the transformation and correct positioning of state-owned enterprises, which have to be managed in a manner that will not only make profit but ensure they become sustainable.

As noted by Cho Soon, "the problems facing the country are unique and there are no historical precedents that are available for emulation. China must find its own solutions to the problems; the country must traverse virgin ground".

Among the practical implications facing China as far as the need to traverse of virgin ground is concerned, is to do some experimentation along the way because the global economic situation is in a constant state of change. Thus some mistakes are bound to be made.

The advantage with China is that because they are acutely aware of this danger, they have adopted a cautious gradual approach carefully analysing the environment and deciding when to aggressively accelerate and when to slow down or do a quick review.

China acknowledges that even if great efforts have been undertaken to teach people to always be selfless and serve the country, at the same time people have been given the opportunity to prosper, and the new milieu has brought up some cases of graft, corruption and the abuse of power. In this regard, the Chinese leadership believes that the education of the people on the new conditions of struggle has to be intensified and that the rule of law should be strengthened.

The Chinese believe very strongly that the superiority of socialism can only succeed if this is done through relentless efforts to ensure that the productive forces of the economy are well developed. This requires a national consensus and national efforts.

There is an outright acknowledgement by the Chinese that the manner in which they used to approach economic management and development through commandist central planning was not helpful because the productive forces couldn`t be effectively developed.

Deng Xiaoping said, "we have been drawing some useful capitalist methods".

It is important to emphasise that drawing useful lessons from the capitalist countries does not make one capitalist as China has not become a capitalist country. They do a very careful analysis of the capitalist system and select capitalist methods that will be useful for them in pursuit of their strategic objective of achieving the superiority of socialism.

The approach by China in implementing the combination of socialism and capitalism (marketism) is a very simple one. The leadership of the country ensures that the public sector of the economy is always predominant, strives for common prosperity and the necessity to ensure that the new approach does not lead to unnecessary polarisation.

An important lesson that South Africa and other progressive countries can learn from China is their acknowledgement that some regions and individuals within the country will inevitably prosper faster than others. The difficulty is then that there is hope that those who prosper will assist the less prosperous to become more prosperous. The implication of this is that there are challenges of income and lifestyle gaps within society.

The CPC and its trade union accept that this is an objective reality and they do not as a consequence of this label one another as `compradors`, `right-wingers` or `sell-outs`, as others in progressive countries are tempted to do. There is general discipline and convergence of views and approach on the strategic objective.

As Deng Xiaoping said: "China has no alternative but to follow this road.

It is the only road to prosperity."

The difference with South Africa is a necessary conclusion by the ANC that in the current phase of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) a route similar to the Chinese one is the most viable. South Africa does not claim that it is the only route to prosperity. There is an understanding that the complex solutions to complex challenges of the economy should not be predetermined, but must be informed by ongoing dynamic conditions.

On employment

In 2004 about 9.8 million new jobs were created in China. This is just a drop in the ocean compared to China`s population. The creation of these new jobs created a possibility for the re-employment of 5.1 million laid-off workers.

Concomitant with this development around issues of job creation, there were still about 1.53 million laid-off workers in state-owned enterprises.

Workers without jobs are registered at the re-employment centres and all receive a basic subsistence allowance and social security.

Chinese people who, for instance, suffer from serious diseases or are disabled and have no source of income are guaranteed a minimum standard of living.

On an ongoing basis the country has to contend with a changing employment environment and they work closely with the trade union movement to resolve these complex matters. The Chinese Trade Union is part of the solution to these complex problems rather than mobilising against the opening up strategy.

The decrease of unemployment annually is a small percentage. For example, in 2004 and the preceding year, unemployment decreased by 0.1%.

As recently as 2004 China had a trade surplus of $32bn. Among other things, the volumes of accumulated foreign capital (foreign reserves) also continued to increase due to the opening up. The country had improved the possibility of accumulating more foreign capital because of the opening up strategy.

The exchange reserves had reached $609.9bn at the beginning of 2005 and this represented an increase of $206.7bn in comparison to 2003. China`s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2004 was 13.65 trillion yuan ($1.65 trillion), an increase of 9.5% on the previous year.

In agriculture, achievements include:

The industrial and construction sectors continued to maintain high levels of growth. In 2004, the total output of primary energy production reached 1.85 billion tons of standard coal equivalent. The electricity production for the whole year was 2,187 billion kW and crude oil output was at 175 billion tons.

It is important not to lose sight of difficulties that accompany the measurement of GDP. As Mohr puts it, "various conceptual and measurement problems are encountered, it is often difficult to define precisely what should be measured, and the information is often inadequate".

The speed and aggression with which the Chinese economy is growing cannot be ignored, nor can the fact that it has adopted characteristics of a market economy and mixed them with socialist approach.

As Lau notes, "it is found that after an initial period of adjustment, the Chinese economy will continue to grow at a steady pace of approximately 8% per annum, on average, between now and the year 2020, based on the assumption that the economic reform policies and mercerisation will continue to become a major engine of growth for the economies of East and Southeast Asia, through the consumption, investment, and raw material demands".

* Supra Mahumapelo is the ANC North West Provincial Secretary.


Cox R.W. Production, Power and World Order (1987).
Mohr P. Economic Indicators (2004).
Lau L. The Market Economy and China.
Deng X. Selected Works Vol II.
Tieying L. The Market Economy and China.

Building the intellectual backbone of the youth

To prepare the youth for future leadership roles, they need to be orientated to be progressive, forward-looking, creative, humble, patriotic and hard-working, writes Lufuno Marwala.

The youth are undoubtedly the custodians of the future of South Africa, and therefore have a responsibility to ensure that they are comprehensively prepared for future leadership roles. This preparation can be effected through increasing the intellectual backbone of the youth and orientating them to be progressive, forward-looking, creative, humble, patriotic and hard-working. This can only be attained through an intellectual revolution, where the consciousness of the youth is scientifically advanced to the highest form of mental maturity.

Youth intellectualism is a process that is impacted upon by different aspects of society, namely political, economic, academic and social sectors.

An optimal orientation and dynamic interaction of these forces would build a strong intellectual character in all its dimensions. We live in a fast-changing information age, which requires the ability to think laterally, to understand the relationships between ideas and progress, and to nurture innovations to succeed. Indeed, the youth have to be the basis of all these. This article is aimed at identifying processes that need to be in place to dynamically nurture youth intellectualism and to investigate youth development policies that are currently in place and to identify strengths and weaknesses of these policies and then foster a way forward.

Policies for youth development

The national youth policy was put in place in 1996 by then President Nelson Mandela as a part of government`s plan to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the problems and challenges facing young women and men in South Africa. The policy had, among others, the following goals:

The challenge is to translate these goals into practice. The question we need to ask is whether the government is doing enough to ensure that these goals are realised. In the same breath, we also need to ask if the youth are reaching out to embrace these initiatives. The youth and government need to work synergistically to address the challenges of youth development. Various organisations have been established in South Africa to achieve these goals and to deal specifically with the issues relating to youth development.

These organisations include the National Youth Commission, Umsobomvu Youth Fund and South African Youth Council. The main objective of all these organisations is to ensure the well-being of the youth and to make sure they are able to express themselves and to participate in societal issues to the best of their ability. These organisations still do not enjoy popularity among the youth in South Africa. These organisations need to invigorate their awareness campaigns among youth so that they can be effective and achieve the objectives they set for themselves. The conceptualisation of these policies is a significant step towards youth development; however, the critical step is transforming these policies into action.

Political force

The sudden change of events in 1994 was the tipping point for the militant youth of the pre-democratic era. The tipping point required a change of mindset to face the new challenges and get rid of the old militant youth traditions. The adoption of the democratic dispensation in 1994 brought to the fore a different set of challenges for the youth in general. The challenge from a political perspective was to actively participate in the newly established political and economic structures to make a meaningful contribution in the future of the country. It is now eleven years into our democracy, yet the youth are still facing the same challenges. There has to be youth participation in national debates, policy formulation and all other political structures. The youth need to understand state power as an instrument for effecting change, its role and its limitations.

The government has laid a framework for the youth to participate in the political establishments aimed at transforming the South African society.

The youth need to invigorate their interaction with governmental structures to build a strong political consciousness grounded on the principles of our democracy. The youth should always be willing to shoulder more responsibilities to deal with the complexity of the practical political problems. These responsibilities require the kind of youth who are definitive and who understand that the future lies in their hands. The fight requires new thinking, new perspectives and new strategic ways to be formulated and carried out with skill and dexterity. Developing a mindset that is focused on defeating the current political challenges that are facing our country has to be the main focus. This kind of commitment to political transformation will nurture the political aspect of the youth intellectualism that will sustain the projected growth trajectory of South Africa.

Economic force The youth of South Africa need to fully participate in the economy of the country. Economic entrepreneurs have to be nurtured in South Africa for the participation to be meaningful. The government has established different funding mechanisms such as Umsobomvu to encourage entrepreneurship among the youth. These funding mechanisms have had their successes but still there are challenges to be overcome. There is still a significant percentage of the youth who are still not aware of the existence of these funding mechanisms.

Central to the creation of the spirit of entrepreneurship is access to funds and this is still posing a problem in South Africa.

Intellectuals have the ability to create opportunities, seize opportunities and revolutionise the productive forces. The migration towards the global village is so rapid that it requires intellectuals who understand the complex dynamics of the changing world economy. This includes understanding the needs of today`s world market and the power shift from west to east.

South Africa can have what one intellectual called "creative destroyers".

These are entrepreneurs so innovative that their ideas revolutionise the orientation and the mode of the global economy.

For the youth to revolutionise the South African economy and modify the old circumstances, characterised by marginalisation and gross inequalities, there needs to be a thorough understanding of the functioning of the current economic structures, through vigorous economic participation of the youth.

The youth should be at the forefront of transforming the state machinery to serve the people of this country. The industrialisation of South Africa will be measured by how advanced it is in the production of useful production machinery and the rapidity of its improvement in the production of such machinery and its impact on the economic growth trajectory that the country has embarked on. The production of machinery in South Africa will require entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, economists and other technical skills that will play a critical role in this regard.

Academic force

Fébé Potgieter noted in an article published in Umrabulo 23 that post 1994:

"South Africa had an active and vibrant youth sector, which made an immeasurable contribution to the struggle against apartheid. Secondly, black youth were among the sectors most affected by apartheid underdevelopment -inferior general education, lack of access to post-matric education and training, racially segmented labour markets, the reality and prospects of unemployment and a host of other problems associated with not only a collapsing political system, but the disintegration of the social fabric of society." There is a need for a thorough evaluation of the current state of affairs twelve years after democracy with regards to youth access to post-matriculation education and training. The number of young people enrolling at institutions of higher learning needs to be increased.

Education is one of the tools that can assist the vibrant youth sector to transcend the gross inequalities inherited from the past. It is through education that the youth can develop a mature theoretical technical training that is the backbone of our economic growth. Many writers in the past have professed the importance of the most advanced theory as guidance to the practice for achievement of the desired outcomes of any developmental undertaking. Antonio Gramsci put it very well in his prison notebooks when he said: "In the modern world, technical education, closely bound to industrial labour even at the most primitive and unqualified level, must form the basis of the new type of intellectual." Access to education for the youth of this country is critical to develop the most advanced level of intellectualism in our society.

Social force

The youth must take intellectual leadership in the societies they live and therefore be able to engage and deal with societal problems such as HIV, poverty and so forth. It is through the spirit of intellectualism that the youth can express themselves practically with the guidance of the theory acquired from academia for the benefit of the society. The practice should translate into the creation of new machinery to further entrench the strategic objectives of the national democratic revolution. It is through the involvement with the transforming social processes that the youth will clearly understand the fundamental needs of the South African society.

This can ensure that class consciousness is imbued in all the youth from a practical perspective.

The youth of South Africa as the agents of change need to acquire scientific intellectual skills and then seize the opportunity to take the society to the highest levels of psychological, mental, physical and spiritual development. It is within society that intellectuals find their function.

The performance of such a function helps in the extraction of true knowledge from experience. Patient practice and investigation, utilising every experience and everyday occurrences as a way of obtaining knowledge about the world around us will propel the youth to deeper understanding, wisdom and intellectualism. The knowledge acquired becomes the guiding tool of attack for any future endeavours and also tool of analysis for any intellectual.


Intellectualism is a characteristic committed to dialectical inquiry and it develops from a significant interaction of individuals with society, economic, political and academic institutions. The intellectual character encompasses problem solving, innovation, reading and writing. The youth with this kind of character will be ready to assume the leadership that will grow South Africa into a highly developed country. The youth need to maximise their interaction with societal activities through the established frameworks to meaningfully transform our nation to benefit all South African citizens and to learn from the experience. These experiences should be interpreted meaningfully and some form of understanding should be derived which is followed by knowledge. It is through knowledge and interaction with society that the intellectual will develop an awareness of its own function not only in the economic but also in the social and political fields. The nation relies on intellectuals to uncover paths that will lead the people to a more advanced culture.

Developing a youth intellectual culture is very critical, for it is on this culture that the future of South Africa hinges. Evidently, intellectuals cannot be defined independent of their function within the societies in which they live and it is important that this function is elaborated at every stage of South Africa`s development. The point is simple: we need to have a huge pool of young intellectuals. Every youth must be a commissar.

* Lufuno Marwala is a student at the University of the Witwatersrand and a member of the ANC Joe Slovo Branch.

As much about the present as the past

Although a significant historical account, the story of the 1956 treason trialists is as much about the present as it is about the last fifty years, writes Kgalema Motlanthe.

Half a century ago this year, 156 of South Africa`s most extraordinary sons and daughters were brought together into one room, courtesy of the apartheid government, to face charges of treason.

Their lives, their experiences and their contribution to the liberation of our people has never been more relevant than it is today. It is for this reason, that all South Africans owe Phyllis Naidoo a profound debt of gratitude for putting together such an important account of the lives of these people.

As an account of one of the most important eras in our history, this book is invaluable. As a prism through which we can view our own time, with its own challenges and responsibilities, it is essential.

The 1956 Treason Trial took place in the context of a resurgent national democratic struggle, that was able not only to mobilise the oppressed masses of South Africa, but was able to inspire a vision of a new society founded on the principle that South Africa belongs to all who live in it.

It took place in wake of the Defiance of Unjust Laws campaign of 1952, in which thousands of our people demonstrated their determination rather to be imprisoned than to accept the imposition of discriminatory and oppressive laws.

The trial took place in the immediate wake of the Congress of the People of 1955 and the adoption of the Freedom Charter. It was the contents of this Charter - which boldly declared that the people shall govern - which earned these 156 leaders the charge of treason.

In the dock in this trial were not only the 156 individuals, but also the very vision of a free society that the people of South Africa had so clearly articulated in the Freedom Charter. In the dock alongside these brave men and women stood the hopes and aspirations of a nation.

In documenting the lives and struggles of these people, Naidoo has provided valuable depth and insight into the lives of a group of individuals who were both shaped by history and who shaped history. She has provided us not only with a collection of remarkable life stories, but also with a detailed and nuanced story of the life of a nation struggling to be born.

In doing so, she has given life to the vision that inspired these heroes and heroines to stand up to the might of the apartheid state, and to the vision that formed the nucleus of one of the most significant liberation struggles of the 20th century.

This book may be a significant historical account. But it is as much about the present, as it is about the last fifty years. It reminds us, in clear and unambiguous terms, of the qualities of leadership, and service, and sacrifice, which characterise true revolutionary heroism.

It reminds us that we are today both the beneficiaries and the custodians of a legacy of struggle and sacrifice which is far more significant than any of the petty preoccupations of the moment. It reminds us that we are engaged in a struggle to create a society that is largely without parallel in the course of human endeavour. It reminds us that however far we have come, we still have so much further to go.

As we grapple with the challenges of transformation at the beginning of the second decade of democracy, we would do well to look to the example set by the 156 treason trialists. As we are confronted with profound decisions of how best to realise their vision of a new society, we are called upon to draw on the values, the ideas, the commitment and the courage that they demonstrated and embodied.

It is their vision of a free, democratic and just society that we have been charged with advancing. So let us draw strength and inspiration from their lives as we, like them, solemnly pledge that these freedoms we will fight for, side by side, throughout our lives, until we have won our liberty.

* Kgalema Motlanthe is the Secretary General of the ANC. This is an extract from his speech at the launch of the book, 26 August 2006.

A broad canvass

A significant book that is essential reading, writes Ron Press.

This is a significant book with respect to its length, scope and content. It gives an essential guide to the backgrounds, lives, contributions and histories of those arrested for treason in December 1956. It is essential reading for all those interested in South African history, especially the struggle against apartheid, and is a must for schools and university libraries.

In it are documented the biographies of the 156 accused, in equal measure, the great and the small, the well-known and those only remembered by their immediate relatives, comrades and friends. There is a note of the racial, educational and political affiliations of the accused. In the light of the present apartheid model being followed by Israel, it is interesting that of the 23 whites, 12 were Jews.

The task has been a noble one. There is scant information available about some of the accused and a superfluity about others. Some of the biographies span the long periods of their busy lives, others are foreshortened by lack of information on parts of their histories. By and large the book tries to give equal prominence to all.

It is inevitable that on such a broad canvas there should appear some errors when minutely examined. It also a pity that the task had been undertaken without it seems the assistance of a rigorous editor. The indexing is not too helpful and references could be clearer and more extensive.

It is a task well done. It is a gap needing to be closed. Do not try to read it cover to cover but indulge yourself by dipping into it every now and then.

* Ron Press was one of the 156 charged in the 1956 treason trial.

156 Hands that built South Africa

by Phyllis Naidoo