Number 28, 1st Quarter 2007
Advancing The Skills Revolution
Skills to build the nation - Gwede Mantashe
Prospects for improved skills capacity - Tshilidzi Marwala
Patriotic engineers for 2010 and beyond - Marius Fransman
Seizing the opportunity for accelerated socio-economic transformation - Kenneth Creamer
Repositioning Expanded Public Works - Themba Nobatana
Getting the balance right: The role of quotas in the struggle against patriarchy - Thenjiwe Mtintso
The 2010 World Cup belongs to Africa - Eddy Maloka
Inside the 1956 Treason Trial - Interview with John Nkadimeng
A tribute to King Sekhukhune - Kgolane Rudolph Phala
Adelaide Tambo: A life dedicated to freedom and service
David and Goliath: Who is who in the Middle East / Part 2 - Ronnie Kasrils
China and Africa share global interests - Victor Luvhengo
Unintended consequences of `unity and cohesion` - Lutho Nduvane
Materialism versus Idealism in the transformation of South Africa - Nyiko Floyd Shivambu
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.
Joel Netshitenzhe, Pallo Jordan, Naph Manana, Spongy Moodley, Mandla Nkomfe, Mduduzi Mbada, Fébé Potgieter, Michael Sachs, Steyn Speed, Donovan Cloete
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.
South Africa is a resource-rich country. Yet only since the advent of democracy in 1994 has the country had the opportunity to begin using these resources for the benefit of all its people. Despite the progress made, the challenge of ensuring that the people share in the country`s wealth still remains a formidable task.
Yet, as it works to better utilise its natural resources, the country has yet to make the kind of progress required in developing its most important resource a the capacity, ingenuity and energy of its people. Unlike many others, this national resource is sustainable and renewable. An investment in our people today will bring dividends for the country well into the future.
For decades, South Africans have been only too acutely aware of the devastation wrought by racially-exclusive education policies. The doors of learning were firmly closed to the majority of our people. This not only limited the capacity of our people to realise their full potential, it also meant that our country was not able, following the advent of democracy, to advance with the necessary speed towards the achievement of a better life for all.
Amid all the other restraints imposed by colonialism and apartheid on our young democracy, the deliberate effort to deny our people the opportunity of quality education and the acquisition of relevant skills has been the most severe constraint on our ability to grow our economy and share its fruits among all our people. In thirteen years of democracy, much work has been done to overcome this mammoth obstacle, particularly through the transformation of our education system. But, as has been noted time and again, this process will not, on its own, deliver the kind of skilled workforce the South Africa economy needs now.
That is why, in its analysis of those constraints that most limit the ability of our economy to grow even faster, the ANC and government identified the shortage of appropriate skills as a major problem. In seeking to respond in a substantial and sustainable manner to this challenge, the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (ASGISA) has also pinpointed the need for an immediate need to deploy skilled people in key sectors. It has therefore launched the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA), which brings together relevant players in finding practical solutions that can be implemented without delay.
As is made clear by a number of articles in this edition, South Africa has no option but to proceed with determination and a sense of urgency to respond to the many interrelated tasks of developing the potential of our people. This is important not only for faster economic growth, but also towards the achievement of justice and equality for all. It is important to enable the masses of our people to access the opportunities that have long been denied them. Skills development is as much a matter of social development as it is a matter of human rights and dignity.
As we proceed to identify and implement interventions to unlock our economic capacity, we need to ensure that this work does not displace the other work that needs to continue to develop the capacity of all our people on a sustainable basis. We need to ensure that no section of society gets left behind as we work, correctly, to address those skills that are currently a priority.
We need a skills revolution. And like all successful progressive revolutions, this one must be led by the masses, and must mobilise all sectors of society to harness our most precious resource a the people of South Africa a to advance the objective of a better life for all.
While there has been an important mobilisation of stakeholders to address the skills shortage in the South Africa, these efforts also needs to address the skills needs of rural development and the second economy, writes Gwede Mantashe.
South Africa is a developing economy with limited resources. It has choices to make. Without bashing the Growth Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) policy framework it is important to highlight that choosing a tight fiscal policy entailed reduction of government spending. As a consequence government investment spending was reduced, not only in terms of government departments but also in terms of state owned enterprises (SOEs). The commercialisation of SOEs shifted their focus from delivery of public goods to that of financial sustainability. This concept was interpreted, in the majority of cases, as meaning profit maximisation. How these state institutions conducted their business was not different to that of the private sector. This shift was couched in terms like `efficiency` and `fiscal prudence`.
This was in line with the post-cold war global trends. The collapse of the Berlin wall created a unipolar world order. Neoliberalism emerged a dominant and triumphant ideology. This ideology sought to relegate the state into a night watchman for capital. Markets were projected as being efficient in resource allocation and therefore had the capacity to resolve the ills of society. The state capacity to intervene was minimised.
The social deficit
Ten years later we can confirm that the budget deficit has been reduced phenomenally, with the likelihood of a budget surplus in 2007. On the other hand, there is a huge social deficit in our society. This social deficit is evident in the deepening of poverty, growing unemployment and growing inequality in society. The infrastructure backlog is another manifestation of the failure of the state to invest where it matters. This backlog constitutes one of the biggest obstacles to the economy achieving the necessary levels of growth and a bottleneck for commodity exporting companies seeking to move with necessary speed when the global demand shows an upward spike. South Africa is not only suffering a skills shortage; it has also destroyed its training capacity over the past decade and a half. Capacity shortages are not only limited to a lack of training facilities but also the non-availability of competent trainers in the disciplines needed by the economy.
A positive development is that there is a general realisation that something urgent needs to be done. The Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA) is an intervention aimed at dealing with the economic, social and institutional backlog. This is clear in the binding constraints identified:
When there is a broader understanding of these constraints it is easy to understand the interventions. Education and skills development is but one area of decisive intervention to counter these constraints.
Intervention in education and skills
It has been accepted that to achieve and sustain 6% plus growth in the economy we need to invest heavily in education and skills, among other things. With the envisaged heavy government investment spending in infrastructure, the skills shortage became very glaring. The Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) was set up as an intervention whose primary role is to identify the clusters of skills that are critical, come up with sets of necessary interventions, highlight the bottlenecks, and recommend solutions. Over the last nine months we have managed to put the skills debate firmly on the agenda of the nation. Skills clusters identified as urgent and critical are:
We have concluded the discussions on engineering and artisan skills. Targets have been set at an additional 1,000 graduate engineers a year and 50,000 new artisans by 2010. This means that institutions of higher learning must generate an average of 2,500 graduate engineers a year. What needs to be addressed is the process from graduation to becoming a professional engineer and retention of these professionals in practice.
The four training pathways for artisans have been concretely identified as apprenticeship, learnerships, recognition of prior learning, and Further Education and Training colleges. We will soon come up with a set of requirements for becoming an artisan in each of these pathways.
The question of unemployed graduates remains a challenge in a number of ways.
Firstly, it highlights the mismatch between skills supply and demand in the economy. As a consequence of the apartheid education system the historically disadvantaged institutions continue to generate a surplus of skills with no demand in the economy. This requires aggressive re-skilling programmes. Secondly, the problem of the skills deficit has also been brought to the fore, where graduates have the qualification but lack basic "soft" skills, like writing a proper Curriculum Vitae or handling an interview. Thirdly, placement is an important exercise that needs resources and dedication.
Weaknesses in the process
As an intervention, JIPSA has no enforcement powers to ensure its recommendations are implemented. This makes it difficult to deal with pockets of resistance informed by a lack of understanding that JIPSA is raising the education and skills needs for the economy (and not for its own sake). Cooperation among all stakeholders is central to the success of this important work. The state needs the implementation enforcement mechanism.
A second weakness is that organs of civil society have not taken this debate seriously. This is reflected in weak participation and the absence of a lively skills debate outside of formal JIPSA and government structures. Business is more robust in the engagement than any other organ. Generally, ANC structures have not taken up this debate, risking being marginalised in policy formulation. We can start off by a comprehensive information sharing programme that will give the cadres of the movement capacity to engage the with issue. Otherwise there is going to overdependence on those professionals who are involved in their individual capacity.
The debate has been kept very narrow because it is not linked to the industrial strategy debate, where the country is identifying sectors of the economy that need to be developed, grown or systematically downscaled.
The skills needs for priority sectors like biochemicals, tourism and business process outsourcing have not received specific attention. It is not linked to the preeminent problem of unemployment being prevalent among low- and semi-skilled workers. As a result the debate has thus far focused on the top end of the skills spectrum. There is an urgent need for a comprehensive discussion about upskilling of workers in this category of skills. Section 28 artisans are the only category considered in the current debate to benefit from recognition of prior learning and trade testing. At some point we need to take up the challenge of rural development skills needs. Professor Herbert Vilakazi describes the marginalisation of the rural areas as the Achilles heel of the South African economy. These areas, which are home to about 50% of the population, are not contributing to the skills needs, intellectual debates, national wealth, or knowledge as capital.
Although the concept of two economies has brought the plight of the poor into focus, the skills debate is not covering the needs of the so-called second economy. This reinforces the view that if the first economy is growing and is in good shape employment problems and poverty challenges will be resolved as a consequence, the age-old `trickle down` debate. The need for specific interventions is becoming urgent. The definition of skills development should therefore be broadened to cover all processes that help a human being make a meaningful contribution to the economy.
This broad definition will force the country to pay attention to the needs of rural development and the second economy.
There is mobilisation of stakeholders around the need to address the skills shortage in the economy. We need to mobilise the structures of the democratic movement to be part of this important debate. Our government must elevate the whole ASGISA programme to the level of a Marshall Plan, where failure to implement agreed interventions is punishable. Resources for all the ASGISA interventions must be ring-fenced and be readily available for implementation. Existing institutions must be directed to prioritise these interventions and not continue with business as usual. Poverty in general, and the skills shortage in particular, can and must be defeated.
Gwede Mantashe is chairperson of the technical working group of the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) and a former General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers.
The Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) was launched in March 2006 to focus on the scarce and critical skills required to deliver on the commitments and targets of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGISA).
Working with universities, technikons and schools, government and other sectors, JIPSA is charged with identifying and coordinating development of skills needed for infrastructure development in government, the private sector and state owned enterprises; the Expanded Public Works Programme; the delivery of social services like health and education; and the growth of priority sectors like tourism, business process outsourcing and agriculture.
Given 18 months in which to realise concrete benefits in these areas, JIPSA does not duplicate any existing structures, nor does it depend on any new policies.
It is a two-tiered structure comprising a joint task team and a technical working group. The joint task team, chaired by Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, comprises 26 members who are leaders in business, labour, higher education and civil society.
The joint task team is meant to:
The technical working group, chaired by Gwede Mantashe, is made up of specialists and experts in areas ranging from research, all levels of education, labour, business and government. Its task is to identify blockages and seek solutions. It must ensure that systems and programmes are in place to attract skills. It researches interventions and makes recommendations to the joint task team.
JIPSA is expected to put in place systems to:
Beyond the urgent scarce skills, JIPSA needs to be sensitive to long term fundamentals for the supply of skills needed for sustained shared economic growth.
To improve innovation and achieve higher levels of economic growth, South Africa needs to prioritise the development of high level skills, writes Tshilidzi Marwala.
Much has been written on the need to increase skills in South Africa, particularly in the light of the economic growth target of 6%. It is therefore critical that we study the skills capacity we have, identify the gaps between what we have and what we need to achieve this economic growth, identify future skills needs and then plan well in advance for the skills we will need in the future to sustain economic growth. This paper is aimed at studying the current levels of skills, its impact on the economy, draw some critical lessons from the successes that have been gained thus far and then intensify the best practices to overcome the current and future challenges.
Skill Levels Segments
The skills space can be divided into high, medium and low skills levels. The characteristics of low skills levels is modest educational background characterised by low literacy and numeracy skills, relative labour intensity, low wages, easy mobility, high unionisation, male dominance, is mainly black and has a relatively high risk of future unemployment. This level is important, but due to its strong correlation to the cyclic nature of the economy and the paradigm shift to the information age, it can easily be overlooked, as was the case for skills such as artisanship. As we march into a developed economy this segment will naturally shrink and therefore we should bear this in mind when we conduct human capital planning. It is therefore important that we ensure that we retain our capacity to generate this skill level at every stage of our development.
For example, we have now come to a realisation that it is not easy to suddenly activate our ability to train artisans and this is because we have lost our training capacity for this skill. The low skills level has a low ability to replicate itself and the degrees of entrepreneurship and innovation in this segment are relatively low.
The characteristics of the medium skills level are good educational background, which usually includes a tertiary qualification, high literacy and numeracy skills, relatively low labour intensity, high wages, easy vertical mobility, low unionisation, relative gender balance, is proportionally white dominated and internationally marketable. This segment can easily adapt to economic cycles and is increasingly becoming information based. To nurture this skill is relatively expensive and requires higher levels of investments in educational institutions at all levels. The degree of entrepreneurship in this level is high but the degree of innovation is medium.
The characteristics of the high skills level are excellent educational background, high wages, international mobility and is white dominated. This segment is the driver of innovation and is a basis of any transition from a developing country to a developed country. It is relatively expensive to nurture this skill and takes a long period of time to develop. The people in this level are characterised by their seniority whether in industry, government or academia. This segment is highly linked to economic growth and dynamism and is highly entrepreneurial and innovative.
The next question we ought to answer is how to invest in these skills levels to positively increase the dynamics of our economy. To do this it is important to understand the relationships between these skills levels.
The medium skills level grows over time into the high skills level through the acquisition of experience, knowledge and continuous development. The increase in the dynamism of high and medium skills levels necessarily results in an increase in the dynamism of the low and medium skills levels, while the opposite is not the case. In other words, you cannot hope to grow the economy through the low skills level while you can hope to increase the economy through the medium and high skills levels. This is not to advocate that there should not be investment in the low skills level. But the low skills level is driven by the needs of the high skills level and it is a derivative of the high skills level. Therefore, in this paper we are going to concentrate on identifying the optimal investment balance between medium and high skills levels. To achieve this, we are going create a matrix that would guide us on how we should invest in these skills. This is shown in Figure 1.
This shows different investment scenarios divided into medium and high skills levels and the impact of these on the economy. It must be noted that the most desirable scenario is the one where investment is made towards both the medium and high skills levels. However, this scenario is expensive and may be unaffordable. The second most desirable scenario is to invest into the medium skills level. This is because aspects of the medium skills level will over time migrate in the high skills level.
Strategies and tactics
There are quite a number of strategies and tactics that have been implemented to address various shortages of skills. These include the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA), Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP), Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and the Innovation Fund.
JIPSA is a framework aimed at addressing the shortage of urgently needed skills and as a tactic it identifies and mobilises unemployed graduates, retired experts and foreign experts, and deploys them into our economy. Through this process knowledge is shared and transferred. The areas identified as part of scarce skills include engineering. This framework is aimed at addressing the low and medium skills levels.
THRIP is a programme initiated by the Department of Trade and Industry that is implemented by the National Research Foundation. It is aimed at generating technology and human resources for South Africa`s industries.
It also fosters industry-academia collaboration by subsidising industry`s research provided it is conducted by students. Many successful enterprises have been created or taken to another level through this programme.
For example, Dr Charles Pritchard of the University of the Witwatersrand founded a company called Entelect Solutions that was incubated by the university and funded through this programme until the company could operate on its own. The technologies that this company developed and the associated patents that were registered originated from the work of masters and doctoral students. Today, this company operates in information technology spaces in South Africa and the United Kingdom. It has a turnover that runs into millions and employs over 50 people directly and several hundreds indirectly. It managed to achieve all this in less than five years. This is the sort of high-end skills generation able to achieve a respectable impact on economic growth and reduction of unemployment.
The SETAs framework encourages industry to invest in training. Whatever it spends can be recovered from government. Some universities have exploited this by partnering with companies and identifying students, particularly at masters level, who spend half their time at universities, learning theory, and the other half in industry, practicing their knowledge to advance the interests of the companies while gaining practical skills. Their salaries are subsidised through the SETA programme.
The Innovation Fund was initiated by the Department of Trade and Industry and implemented through the National Research Foundation. It is aimed at funding projects that potentially create jobs and foster economic growth but would not necessarily attract venture capital. A success story is a company called Poynting, founded by a Wits University professor, that designs and manufactures antennas. This company has grown within a short time with the participation of masters and PhD students to have a turnover of R50m, a staff complement of 85 people, and an impressive array of local and international customers.
The most recent example of the type of skills capacity that these programmes are producing is a technology that was created at Wits University through the participation of 18 Doctoral students that improves the old Fischer-Tropsch German technology of turning coal into liquid fuel. This improvement is environmentally friendly and therefore confirms to the Kyoto Protocol, is more efficient and cheap. It is being implemented in a plant in Shaanxi, China, and our students are benefiting greatly from this experience and the lessons learnt will be transferred back to South Africa for our benefit.
Skills Capacity in South Africa
We have discussed how high end skills are beneficial to the economy and how programmes in place foster these. But how successful have we been at germinating these high end skills. Figure 2 illustrates progress in the training of PhDs, a useful indicator for high level skills. This graph shows that over the last few years we have been improving, even though this improvement needs to be accelerated.
A criterion that can be used as an indicator of the impact of high skills levels is the number of patents. Patents are essentially certificates that give the inventors the right to be the only ones to benefit from their inventions within a given time frame. Patents can be linked directly to economic growth. The trajectory of patents registration in South Africa is shown in Figure 3.
This shows that the trends have been constant with low levels of growth.
However, South Africa has a comparative advantage in patents for metallurgy, separation technologies and communications. But it lags behind in electronics and medical instrumentation. There is no reason why South Africa cannot become a leader in these fields. All it takes is to activate a planning and predictive system for human capacity development needs that would give us a competitive edge in these fields and invest strategically where there is competitive advantage. We would need to look at building capacity at home and also at how migration can be used to fill the gaps.
As a way forward it is recommended that we:
In conclusion, the journey to an advanced society is linked to skills development, and we ought therefore to capacitate all players financially, economically, politically and socially.
Tshilidzi Marwala is a chair of systems and control engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Coal to Liquid Technology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer-Tropsch_process.
Gigaba, M. "Migration as a vehicle for development` Umrabulo 27.
Innovation Fund: www.innovationfund.ac.za.
Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme: www.nrf.ac.za/thrip.
National Advisory Council on Innovation: www.naci.org.za.
The Masakh` iSizwe Centre of Excellence in the Western Cape provides a model for practical approaches to the development of the scarce skills needed to build the nation, writes Marius Fransman.
The aims of the Masakh` iSizwe Centre of Excellence, launched by the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works, need to be understood in the broader context of the South African economy. The two salient features of our economy since 1994 have been a sustained growth rate on the one hand and, on the other, persistently high levels of unemployment and poverty.
We are living in an `Age of Hope`. A study released in September last year by prominent Harvard University economists has confirmed President Thabo Mbeki`s assessment of the South African economy.1 Among other indicators, they point to the GDP growth rate of 4.9% in 2005, the highest level in over a quarter of a century, and the current business cycle upswing which was running at a record of 19 consecutive months. Another remarkable feature of our economy is that a positive growth rate (an average of 3%) has been sustained during our first decade of freedom.
This is a remarkable turnaround in the economy, a credit to the first democratically-elected government, led by the ANC. However, we are also experiencing persistently high levels of unemployment and poverty widely referred to as the `second economy trap`. The latter phenomenon should not come as a surprise. The 2004 report by the World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalisation noted that unemployment rates increased between 1990 and 2002 in all emerging economies except those of South-East Asia. The Commission also found that 59% of the world`s population are living in countries with growing inequality.2
Yet it appears that we in South Africa didn`t believe in the possibility of sustained growth because we did not act on the consequent demand for engineers and other high level skills implied by the growth-rate. We are now facing a critical shortage of scarce skills, which has become a `binding constraint` on the growth of the economy.
The shortage of engineers will be exacerbated by the major infrastructure spending allocated by treasury - R370bn over the next three years, with 50% to be spent by the three spheres of government and 40% by the state owned enterprises and 10% through public-private partnerships and development institutions - as well as the major infrastructure projects like the Gautrain and at least five major soccer stadiums for the 2010 World Cup.
A study recently commissioned by the Masakh` iSizwe Centre and conducted by the Engineering and Built Environment Faculty of the University of Cape Town, which takes into account the increased spending in the Western Cape, illustrates the current and projected shortage of engineering and built environment professionals in the Western Cape.
As Figure 1 indicates, the shortage of civil engineers is the most acute of all the shortages of engineering and built environment professionals. Last year only 10% of the demand for these professionals was met, and within current supply constraints matters will not improve much by 2010 (when only 15% of the demand will be met).
The secretariat of the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) has identified throughput rates, graduate placement, and lack of multi-stakeholder approaches as areas of particular concern in trying to address the skills shortages.
To address this crisis in the supply of professionals, as well as the JIPSA concerns, the Masakh` iSizwe Centre of Excellence has, during the course of 2006, developed a multi-pronged, multi-stakeholder strategy.
Centre of Excellence
The centre began as a programme to award bursaries in the engineering and built environment fields. Initially, this was restricted to a small internal bursary scheme for ten students to address the engineering skills needs of the roads and public works department. With funding assistance (for half the total costs) from the Western Cape provincial treasury and a reprioritisation of its own budget, the numbers were increased to a target of 250 students in the engineering and built environment fields. Funding is available to meet this target this year. The only constraints will be the capacity of universities and the shortage of applicants who meet university entrance criteria.
Since its launch, the programme has evolved into a centre with a unique engineering skills development programme. As its name indicates, the vision of the centre goes beyond the offer of bursaries in various technical fields. An essential element of the programme is to develop a cadre of "nation builders" - a `high road` to addressing priority engineering skills needs.
It is a route which is underpinned by the recognition of two categories of beneficiaries: financially disadvantaged learners (FDLs) and resource poor communities. The centre seeks to promote excellence in three areas: learning, service and citizenship.
To help students maintain an acceptable academic standard, the centre monitors their academic performance. Each quarter, centre staff meet with the students on four different campuses to motivate them and discuss academic, administrative and other problems. This, together with the excellent support mechanisms already in place in the engineering faculties at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Stellenbosch, has so far resulted in a very low proportion of learners at risk (less than 30%) not completing their study programme within the minimum time. This compares very favourably with the national throughput rates.
Through the experiential learning that is required by their academic programmes and by requiring students to engage in community service during their vacations, resource poor communities will also benefit from the programme.
The aim is to develop students into `engineers with a social conscience`. To become such citizens they need to understand the socio-political context in which they live. To this end the centre has negotiated with the engineering faculties to provide appropriate modules in line with the requirements of the Engineering Council of South Africa. Meetings with students also include sessions on the South African economy and motivational talks about their role in building a nation for the future.
Through an Advisory Board, chaired by Dr Mamphela Ramphele, the centre has been able to develop significant partnerships with state owned enterprises (SOEs) and private sector companies that are significant bursary providers or involved in the training of engineers.
These stakeholders provide an important service in the provision of work opportunities for national diploma students. One of the reasons for the high national drop-out rate of national diploma students is that they are unable to find companies willing to provide them with workplace opportunities. The partnership with corporations addresses the concern of graduate placement highlighted by JIPSA by giving corporations advance notice of students who will be graduating.
An addition to this coordinating facility is a web-accessed database to enhance support for students by:
The centre is looking at how it can relate with other provinces. Departmental officials held discussions in January with colleagues from the Northern Cape, where there are no higher education institutions. It therefore makes sense for them to send their bursary students to institutions in the Western Cape, where they can be supported by the Masakh` iSizwe Centre.
Development of professionals
Professional development is the `being` aspect of learning that is particularly neglected by formal education institutions. This refers to the process of learning how to become a professional, how to behave like a professional, adopt professional attitudes and values and make right judgements in context. Privileged, middle class children tend to pick up some of this `cultural capital` from their parents, homes and communities.
Working class youth have no means of accessing this `cultural capital` unless they are invited to participate as legitimate members of professional communities of practice. It is here that we are relying on partnerships with business.
The Masakh` iSizwe project is hoping to take its existing partnerships further by getting professional engineers to mentor students. Mentors are asked to take a personal interest in students` academic progress, their career development and, most importantly, their personal and professional development. This would include assisting them to find internships in engineering companies where they can experience the life and work of a professional engineer and discuss their responses and progress with their mentors. The project plans to supplement this aspect of professional development by requiring students to keep reflective journals throughout their period of study and work experience.
In 2007 the centre will be working with the provincial Youth Commission to engage students following degree level courses to assist with the teaching of mathematics in some township schools. The Youth Commission has secured funding for training students and for logistical support for the programme. Students will also be included in volunteer opportunities arranged by Greater Good SA, an organisation that has the vision of "a nation of strong interconnected opportunities caring for each other and for the places where we live".
The intention is for the work-integrated learning to have a significant service-learning component. Project Consolidate municipalities and other under-resourced communities could be well served by diploma students doing their experiential learning year and by BSc Eng students doing their vacation placements in these and other municipalities.
The centre has deliberately targeted financially disadvantaged learners (FDLs) rather than particular race groups. There is however a special effort to recruit women and learners from rural areas.
There is a considerable `leakage` from the Western Cape, and probably from the rest of South Africa, of young white, and some black, graduates, in the scarce skills fields. The universities of the Western Cape have a solid international reputation and the graduates find it easy to secure employment abroad. Retirement is another significant contributor to the leakage of engineering skills. Allyson Lawless points out that 45% of the civil engineers employed in provincial and local government will be retiring in the next five years.3
The Masakh` iSizwe programme is developing engineers with a patriotic ethos, who are therefore less likely to leave the country. But the fruits of these efforts will only be reaped in four to five years time. What is needed now is a short term strategy that will encourage white graduates in particular to remain in the country.
Information on the effect of employment equity on the retention of scarce skills is at this point purely anecdotal. In recognition of the importance of the issue, the Western Cape provincial government decided to get the Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC) to conduct research into the issue.
It is important to note that by targeting FDLs rather than Previously Disadvantaged Individuals (PDIs) the centre is nevertheless advancing representivity. While it attracts a handful of whites from poor backgrounds, most of the bursars are from African, coloured and Indian communities. This is demonstrated in Figure 2.
Lessons and implications
Engineering students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds need full bursary support - a financial package that covers residence accommodation, academic fees and preferably a book allowance. This is because students generally cannot commute from their township homes on a daily basis while also making use of after hours library and computer facilities.
The centre has an extensive support structure for students. Learners, especially financially disadvantaged learners from rural areas, face enormous challenges in making the transition from their schooling to university and from materially impoverished rural communities to the city.
It is usually the case that students from rural areas enjoy substantial support within their communities, but this kind of support is not available in the cities and especially not on campuses where students have to fend for themselves. Any extra support that can be provided will therefore be of enormous value.
A partnership with engineering corporations, both private sector and state-owned, is a critical success factor in the development of engineering students. It is critical also for the throughput rate. Without workplace learning opportunities provided by these corporations, students will not succeed in their studies.
What makes the Masakh` iSizwe Centre of Excellence unique is that it is not simply a bursary programme but gives special attention to developing a cadre of engineers with a patriotic consciousness - the kind of engineers that we need to build a nation. This is achieved through the support structures that have been put in place and through instruction in socio-political issues and opportunities to provide service to under-resourced communities.
One of the unintended consequences of employment equity is the `leakage` from the economy of white graduates with scarce skills. While employment equity is a strategy to redress historical imbalances, our country cannot afford to lose too many engineers. The question of a possible moratorium on employment equity needs to be thoroughly and maturely debated, based on research into the loss of scarce skills professionals within the context of `binding constraints` on economic growth and the consequent lack of delivery to the poor. The existence of a `second economy trap` is arguably the most important historical imbalance that needs to be redressed in South Africa currently.
We hope that the experience of the Masakh` iSizwe Centre will be drawn upon by other departments and provinces in the exciting and challenging effort to develop engineers who are equipped to `build a nation`.
Marius Fransman is a member of the ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) in the Western Cape and MEC for Transport and Public Works.
If the ASGISA framework is able to strike the correct balance in its expansion of social and economic infrastructure, then South Africa will be able to shift onto a new growth path, that combines economic growth with accelerated processes of social inclusion, writes Kenneth Creamer.
Macroeconomic policy plays an important role in determining an economy`s growth and development path. Growth rates, employment levels, income distribution, investment decisions, tax rates and the level of access to services are among the many factors heavily influenced by the details of a country`s macroeconomic policy. As such, the post-apartheid government`s macroeconomic policy framework has for some time been a dominant area of debate and discussion in the ANC.
The question as to whether or not the 1996 Growth Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) macroeconomic framework should be regarded as appropriate to advancing the social and economic transformation goals of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) - or whether GEAR limited the RDP by emphasising macroeconomic stability over social transformation - has underpinned much of the contestation over economic policy.
The evolution of post-apartheid macroeconomic policy can be characterised in two phases. In the first phase, from 1996, government prioritised macroeconomic stabilisation to build up credibility as a responsible and capable facilitator of economic growth and development. The creation of an environment of low interest rates, low inflation and reduced tax rates has provided some stimulus for private sector investment and growth. Even though this stabilisation phase could broadly be characterised as following a `trickle-down` or `redistribution through growth` model, there have been a number of interventions which have widened the pool of beneficiaries of economic growth. These include significantly increased welfare payments to targeted groups in need, as well as policies such as black economic empowerment, aimed at fostering greater black ownership in the economy, and employment equity, aimed at increasing black and female participation in workplace structures.
In the second phase, which has been emerging since 2005, there has been a movement towards more expansionary macroeconomic policy, as resources are mobilised, in terms of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA), to increase investment in economic infrastructure like electricity generation, transport and water management. A significant portion of the financing for expenditure on economic infrastructure is being raised by South Africa`s parastatals, such as Eskom and Transnet, and is not being funded from the national budget. In fact, this phase of expanded investment in economic infrastructure has coincided more recently with plans to run a budget surplus, that is, plans by government to spend less in the budget year starting in March 2007 than the total revenue raised in taxes.
The possibility of a budget surplus raises some key issues to be weighed up in the formulation of ANC macroeconomic policy. On the one hand, a budget surplus will assist in curbing any upward pressure on interest rates and thereby limiting any rising cost of investment.
On the other hand, the existence of a budget surplus leads us to question whether sufficient advantage is being taken of the opportunity to expand delivery of upliftment programmes. If the fiscal capability exists to deliver services that will assist in bringing millions of South Africans from the marginalised second economy closer to the mainstream first economy, should that capability not be used?
Furthermore, there may be a need for greater balance in ASGISA`s infrastructure investment programme. In addition to expanded investment in economic infrastructure, there should be an expansion of investment in social infrastructure. Expansion and maintenance of economic infrastructure - such as power generation and freight transport services -creates an investor-friendly environment for the private sector and assists in creating employment opportunities. Expansion and maintenance of social infrastructure - such as public education facilities, public health care facilities and housing - promotes community upliftment and economic growth and assists in improving employability and entrepreneurial capabilities.
The ANC`s aim is to put South Africa on a growth path that is as inclusive as possible of the broad majority of South Africans. Indeed, it is the ANC`s solemn political commitment to a broadly inclusive programme of socio-economic development that distinguishes our movement as the dominant force of social and economic transformation in South Africa.
Taking stock of economic policy challenges
There is much to be positive about. The emphasis on macroeconomic stabilisation has meant that the post-apartheid government has avoided a debt-trap, has increased policy sovereignty and has the potential to initiate a sustained programme of fiscal expansion, evidenced through the ASGISA strategy.
The economy has enjoyed a `freedom dividend` as it has shown consistent economic growth, with seven unbroken years of growth since 1999. Although, in comparison to some other emerging economies the growth rate has been relatively low at a rate averaging 3.8% between 2000 and 2005.
Stabilisation policy has focused on creating an investor-friendly environment that has resulted in significant private sector growth, the introduction of new technologies, the expansion of markets in South Africa and abroad, and, through the imperatives of black economic empowerment and employment equity, the increasing inclusion and leadership of black South Africans in the commanding heights of the post-apartheid economy.
It is important, however, to take stock of some of the key negative consequences of the strategies that have been adopted.
State organs responsible for socio-economic delivery have not functioned as effectively as envisioned. There is no doubt that this is partly due to apartheid-historical factors, inherited institutional weaknesses and ongoing capacity constraints. However, the problem of inadequate delivery is also in part an unintended consequence of macroeconomic stabilisation policies. The emphasis on stabilisation had the effect of constraining and retarding the emergence of transformative programmes in a range of important sectors including in education, health care, housing and other services. Some make the argument that increasing levels of real expenditure on these areas of service delivery are a sufficient indicator of progress in socio-economic transformation. However, the mere fact that more is being spent on certain programmes does not mean that enough is being spent on these programmes, or that the right kind of programmes are in place. Millions of South Africans continue to be under-serviced, with inherited patterns of unequal service delivery persisting in a number of instances.
Without the effective expansion of access to basic services, economic growth will entrench South Africa`s `two economies` problem. Without a significant expansion in pro-poor service delivery, economic growth will continue to take place on something like a 30/70 growth path, where 30% of the population are `insiders`, enjoying employment and a high standard of living, and 70% are `outsiders`, being unemployed or underemployed and living in poverty. A well designed fiscal policy providing for effective programmes of basic service delivery is a key mechanism that in the long-run will be able to change the structure of the economy, and change the opportunities available to the poor, in such a way as to shift the country onto a more inclusive and equitable growth path.
Developing a new macroeconomic framework
As we approach the ANC Policy Conference in June and the National Conference in December, the time is right to discuss the formulation of a macroeconomic framework informed by current circumstances and designed to accelerate the ANC`s economic transformation programme. Furthermore, the ASGISA initiative would benefit from being framed within a guiding macroeconomic framework, as this would contribute to the coherence and sustainability of the ASGISA strategy. It is not satisfactory for ASGISA simply to be presented as a series of projects linked in an ad-hoc manner to growth and employment targets.
Among other things, a new macroeconomic framework would:
Overall, the most appropriate mix of open economy macroeconomic policies to achieve an inclusive growth path would include:
Given the ANC`s developmental imperatives, it is necessary that fiscal policy should play a leading role in expanding equitable access to services, infrastructure and opportunity. To the extent that this fiscal expansion puts upward pressure on inflation, it will be necessary that monetary policy plays a stabilising role. Should such higher interest rates result in exchange rate appreciation, this should be managed through the active expansion of reserve holdings by the monetary authorities.
Should the exchange rate tend to depreciate, this will serve to boost output and exports, but could pose some constraints in terms of raising the cost of intermediate imports and creating inflationary pressures, which will have to be dealt with through tightened monetary policy.
The adoption of a new macroeconomic framework would entail new credibility challenges for the ANC`s transformation programme. Whereas through the GEAR framework, the post-apartheid government sought to establish its credentials as fiscally responsible, the new challenge would be for government to build its reputation as capable of leading a significant expansion in social and infrastructural spending in an effective, correct and sustainable manner, perhaps leveraging some reputation advantage off a successfully hosted 2010 World Cup. The credibility challenge would no longer be about proving a negative, that is, that an ANC-led government will not be irresponsible and profligate, but would be about proving a positive, that is, that an ANC-led government is able, in a sustainable manner, to expand opportunities and service delivery in a growing economy.
Advancing the constitutional mandate
In developing our macroeconomic policies, it should be remembered that South Africa`s hard-won democratic Constitution envisages a significant and expanding role for the state in the provision of basic services. The Constitution mandates the state to provide citizens with access to a wide range of basic socio-economic rights, including rights to housing, health care, food, water, social security and education. By implication, it is the role of the state to ensure that, "within its available resources", "reasonable... measures... [are put in place] to achieve the progressive realisation of these rights".1 This formulation has quite a number of implications.
Firstly, the Constitution clearly sets a standard for government socio-economic programmes that will improve the lives of South Africa`s poorest citizens through the extension of basic services. If that standard is not met, then not only would there be a breach of a constitutional obligation, but, from an ANC perspective, there would be a failure properly to advance the ANC`s vision for social transformation.
Secondly, the economic implication of this vision is that of a mixed economy in which the state builds its capacity to deliver socio-economic programmes to its citizens to enable healthy, educated citizens of all races, classes and genders to reach their full potential in an economy with a significant role for both the public and private sectors. Thirdly, the obligation that the state take such measures "within its available resources" means that macroeconomic policy and budgetary decisions themselves should be influenced by the Constitution`s vision of "a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights".2
This third implication raises some complex issues as it requires one to work simultaneously with the logic of human rights constitutionalism and the logic of macroeconomics. A case in point is the current policy discussion as to whether government fiscal policy should be devised to run a budget surplus. It was announced late in 2006 that for the first time the democratic government is planning in 2007/2008 to run a budget surplus of 0.5% of GDP. In other words, in 2007/08 government plans to raise approximately R9.6bn in taxes that will not be allocated to expenditure on any programme, but will rather be government`s contribution to savings and debt reduction.
The emergence of a budget surplus is driven by three main factors. As the economy grows more taxes are collected. There has been increasing tax compliance as the South African Revenue Service (SARS) spreads the tax net. Growth in government expenditure plans has not kept pace with growth in revenue.
On the face of it, from a socio-economic rights point of view, the existence of a budget surplus may be interpreted as indicating that government is not utilising its "available resources" to advance socio-economic programmes. Yet, the argument could also be made that there are sound macroeconomic reasons for running a budget surplus and, in fact, some have argued for an even a greater surplus than that which is currently planned.
Should South Africa run a budget surplus? The key argument advanced in favour of running a budget surplus is that the surplus will assist in countering ASGISA-related interest rate pressure and thereby facilitate a climate conducive to investment and economic growth. Furthermore the pro-surplus argument contends that fiscal policy should be counter-cyclical and a budget surplus during a period of economic growth will assist in avoiding the kind of `overheating` of the economy, which would result in domestic inflation pressures and external balance of payments pressures as imports rise in line with economic growth.3
The key argument advanced against the budget surplus is that the existence of the surplus indicates that government is not best utilising its resource base to advance social programmes aimed at placing the economy on a more equitable and inclusive growth path. Instead of trying to be counter-cyclical, fiscal policy should be positioned to play a dominant role in transforming the structure of the economy and particularly the structure of opportunity in the economy, both for individuals and for businesses.
If fiscal expansion results in a degree of upward pressure on interest rates, this is not likely to significantly retard economic growth, as investment decisions will be driven by the rising tide of economic growth and the expanded economic opportunities on offer, rather than simply by cost of capital considerations. To maintain external balance, the anti-surplus position would advocate policies to promote exports through interventions such as an active industrial policy aimed inter alia at building export industries, through trade policies aimed at gaining access to new markets and, most importantly, through an exchange rate policy aimed at keeping the currency at a competitive level, to avoid a situation where South Africa`s export efforts are undermined by unexpected currency appreciations.
In deciding what ANC policy should be towards the budget surplus, a key issue is whether relevant government departments have the capacity to put in place effective expanded programmes of social delivery, or would additional resources allocated to such programmes be rolled-over, wasted or worse? If there is a concern that there is insufficient capacity effectively to utilise the allocation of additional resources, then the ANC`s political priority must be that strategies be put in place to develop the necessary capacity. In this regard, the suggestion that there be adequate improvement of the conditions of employment for strategic categories of employees in the public service could go some way to creating the environment in which effective capacity can be developed.
Ultimately, the emergence of the possibility of a budget surplus in South Africa signals the fact that the country has the financial resources available significantly to expand service delivery in a sustainable manner. Should the choice be made to run a budget surplus, government will come under pressure to reduce taxation on businesses and middle class and wealthy individuals, who will argue that there is no point in government raising taxes if it does not have the will or the capacity to spend. If such a line of argument succeeds in influencing policy makers, then government will reduce its developmental capacity and an inclusive growth path, based on the expansion of social and economic infrastructure, will be more difficult to achieve.
It is recommended that the ANC`s policy stance on the budget surplus should be developed along the following lines:
South Africa`s pre-ASGISA development path can be characterised as having combined economic growth with significant ongoing levels of social exclusion. If the ASGISA macroeconomic framework is able to strike the correct balance in its expansion of social and economic infrastructure, then South Africa will be shifted onto a new growth path - one that combines economic growth with accelerated processes of social inclusion. This is a vision worthy of the political and social transformation objectives of the ANC and one that is humbly offered in the spirit of the forthcoming policy processes to be undertaken by our movement.
Kenneth Creamer is a lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand. This article is based on a presentation to the Gauteng ANC Economic Transformation Committee in November 2006.
Practical experience of the Expanded Public Works Programme suggests that there are policy gaps that need to be addressed if the programme is to have its desired impact on skills, employment and poverty reduction, writes Themba Nobatana.
This discussion document seeks to critically reflect and examine the implementation of the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP), within the context of tackling the twin challenges of overcoming poverty and unemployment. It seeks to interrogate the existing policy paradigms and assumptions on EPWP. There is no single model of EPWP, and the developmental character of these progammes is a new phenomenon in a South African context.
The pre-1994 economy was characterised by long-term decline and was propelled towards disintegration and stagnation, in part, by apartheid`s political and economic policies. One of the key factors that contributed to this economic meltdown was a slump in gold mining, which had been bedrock of the economy. Other factors included the lack of domestic and foreign investment, distorted patterns of domestic demand, weaker competition laws and higher levels of protection of domestic enterprises, and macroeconomic instability. The combination of these and many other factors caused a stagnant economy and further rendered it vulnerable to profound changes in the world economy (ANC discussion document, Stellenbosch Conference, 2002). These economic conditions have led to increased poverty and joblessness.
A number of positive developments have occurred since the advent of democracy in 1994. The economy has grown, albeit relatively slowly, averaging 2% since 1994. The consistent growth in the GDP is significant in the context of several external economic shocks that impacted on other developing countries. The ANC`s annual January 8th Statement in 2007 said that from 1994 to 2003 the economy grew by 2.8 % and since 2004 the rate of growth has leapt to 4.8%.
A significant point made in the same statement is that the economy has created more two million jobs since 2004, at a rate of 500,000 a year, and if economic growth continues along this trajectory the ANC is likely to meet its challenge of halving unemployment by 2014.
The twin challenges of unemployment and poverty
The magnitude of the structural unemployment crisis is such that in September 2003 4.6 million people were unemployed in terms of the strict definition and 8.3 million in terms of the broad definition (Statistics South Africa 1993, quoted by Sean Phillips in his paper on `Overcoming underdevelopment in South Africa`s second economy`).
Anna McCord (2004) further argues that unemployment is concentrated in the African population, for whom the narrow definition of unemployment is at 37%. McCord and Bhorat (2003) attributes this rate of unemployment to the fact that the South African economy is undergoing a major structural transformation, which manifests itself in a decline in labour intensive modes of production, caused in part by declining primary sector activity.
This has significantly decreased the demand for unskilled labour, and thus a major fall in the total employment levels.
While new jobs have been created by the economy since 2003, these employment opportunities have not significantly dented unemployment. Part of the problem lies in what the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (ASGISA) characterises as a mismatch between employment opportunities and existing skills levels. It is thus evident that the current economic growth rate is unable to absorb unskilled and the semi-skilled labour in the medium term. Unemployment therefore requires a major state intervention.
Linked to the challenge of tackling unemployment is dealing with poverty. It is estimated that there are 13 million people living in households with income levels less than half of the Statistics South Africa 1995 poverty line of R800 per month per household (Samson quoted in McCord, 2003).
Government has made strides in working towards the eradication of poverty.
Between 2001 and 2004, it is estimated that the number of households living below the poverty datum line dropped from 4.1 million to 3.6 million (January 8th Statement, 2007). This achievement has been made possible by a range of policy instruments utilised in an integrated manner.
Strategic response to unemployment and poverty
At its 2002 policy conference, the ANC resolved that there should be a large-scale expansion of the use of labour intensive construction methods to alleviate unemployment and to meet infrastructure backlogs in previously disadvantaged areas. The Growth and Development Summit (GDS) 2003 resolved to provide poverty and income relief through temporary work for the unemployed to carry out socially useful activities. These Expanded Public Works Programmes (EPWPs) would be designed to equip participants with a modicum of training and work experience that should enhance their ability to earn a living in future.
In his State of the Nation address in February 2003, President Thabo Mbeki said that: "the government has decided... to launch an expanded public works programme. This will ensure that we draw significant numbers of the unemployed into productive work, and that these workers gain skills whilst they work and thus take an important step to get out of the pool of those who are marginalised."
Implicit in the above statements is a fundamental distinction between EPWP as a poverty relief or social protection measure, and EPWP as a vehicle to deal with the changing needs of labour markets necessitated by structural changes in the economy. Simply put, the latter refers to skills acquisition and experience facilitating entry into the formal world of work. This distinction is also implied in the 2002 ANC conference discussion document on Economic Transformation (para 126): "We must be careful to separate out issues about poverty eradication and issues about the creation of sustainable jobs when considering the employment question. Whilst these two objectives are linked they require different approaches."
The EPWP has been designed as a broad framework to allow for a broad range of existing programmes. Its challenge is to develop and promote existing best practices and expand their application more widely (Sean Phillips, 2004). The broad framework attempts to find a balance between clearly defining the programme and creating sufficient flexibility to allow for diversity.
Sean Phillips describes the following characteristics of EPWP projects:
From conceptualisation to implementation
A substantial amount of literature has been generated evaluating the impact of EPWP in improving the lives of the unemployed and the impoverished. Anna McCord in a research piece titled `Policy Expectations and Programme Reality: The poverty reduction and labour market impacts of two Public Works Programmes in South Africa` provides a comprehensive study on the impact of EPWP projects. It is however difficult to draw general conclusions on the basis of the two projects she examines, because the flexibility of EPWP projects poses unique challenges in different circumstances. The Select Committee on Public Services embarked on a study tour to the Eastern Cape and Western Cape. For our purposes we will focus on their findings on the site visits in the Western Cape:
This project was further riddled by political differences and political favouritism that bordered on nepotism. The select committee recommended that the provincial government put in place effective measures for monitoring and evaluation and ensure that basic EPWP documents, such as the code of good practice and the conditions of work for special public work programmes, are adhered to.
The NCOP select committee report provides inadequate information on the actual project objectives, the intended outcomes, skills transfer and skills acquisition and the successes of the exit strategies, or the effectiveness of these projects as social protection measures. It is thus impossible to draw definitive conclusions that identify policy gaps. These projects do not necessarily have all the characteristics of the EPWP described by Sean Phillips.
One of the critical policy gaps in EPWP construction projects relates to the problem of a dual labour market system. The formal labour markets have a regulated manner of dealing with industrial disputes. Both the rights of the employers and the employees are protected through relevant legislation.
The experiences of EPWP workers in the Road Paving Project in Thembalethu resemble the characteristics of a cheap, casual and unprotected labour force, belonging to a secondary labour market that is not regulated. It is evident from this project that under such conditions the possibility for consistent skills training to prepare EPWP workers to be graduated to formal employment is minimal. This project, in this form, cannot be characterised as a social protection measure or skills acquisition programme. It is a project that perpetuates poverty and economic marginalisation.
What this experience highlights is the necessity to protect EPWP projects from a secondary, unregulated and exploitative labour market. It can be argued that the code of good practice and the conditions of employment for Special Public Works Programmes are the instruments to serve this purpose.
However, the latter excludes from the EPWP important rights that workers in the formal labour markets currently enjoy. By so doing, these instruments perpetuate the very dual labour market system they ought to avoid. There is a necessity to review these instruments and make necessary adjustments.
We had argued for the distinction between EPWP projects that serve as a social protection measure, and those projects that allow participants to graduate to formal employment. This distinction is derived from an understanding that unemployment is a direct consequence of a structural shift in the South African economy and the skills gap arising from this shift, hence the need for the developmental state to play an interventionist role in reordering labour markets.
EPWP projects should not be simply about `graduating to formal employment through skills acquisition and work experience`. A substantive amount of unskilled and semi-skilled labour is being shed as result of the decline in the primary sector of the economy. This labour has very limited literacy, numeracy and technical skills, and the acquisition of new skills cannot happen in the short term. They have limited private savings and do not qualify for social security. They constitute an army of marginalised reserve labour that is vulnerable to extreme and barbaric forms of exploitation. EPWP projects should be designed to target this band of the population and protect them from the vicious cycle of poverty.
Recruitment for this band should be universal, and target households that are not covered by the social security net. The design of these projects should span over a lengthy period of time. Such projects, if correctly aligned with local development initiatives, have a potential to facilitate demand-led growth in local communities and in rural areas, and can complement other household production processes to ensure food security. Elements of this design are being implemented in the Eastern Cape`s Vukuzakhe projects and in KwaZulu Natal`s Zibambele projects.
A constraint on the success of these projects is the fact that the Code of Good Practice prescribes that no individual can be employed in a project for more than 24 months in a five-year cycle. This restriction is problematic in that, in the absence of employment opportunities, former EPWP workers in this band are likely to go back to conditions squalor and poverty, and even though government would quantify the number of work opportunities created, former workers would not enjoy sustainable livelihoods.
It is further necessary to review the ministerial determination on special public works programmes and the code of good practice to allow for alignment of provisions for EPWP workers to employees in formal employment.
The second segment relates to those projects targeting youth and women that are designed to impart skills and experience to the unemployed. These projects have a potential to respond in a dynamic manner to the current needs of the labour market and entrepreneurial activity shaped by the structural changes in the South African economy. Special emphasis must on aligning these projects to other plans that enhances growth and labour absorption. Such an alignment is necessary to ensure that unskilled reserve labour is not replaced by skilled and educated reserve labour, as is the case in some African countries. Monitoring, evaluation and the development of exit strategies are critical to the success of this segment.
The third area is the improvement of coordination and ownership of these programmes by all players - different government departments and spheres, parastatals and the private sector.
In its January 8th statement, the ANC made a clarion call to ANC branches to ensure that communities receive information about local EPWP projects, are able to participate in them, and that they have a mechanism to provide feedback
Addressing some of the policy gaps identified here will go a long way in mainstreaming EPWP projects. It is important that a study be undertaken on the current EPWP projects to determine the status and the impact of these projects. More detailed gaps will be identified and comprehensive policy recommendations will be made. There should also be an alignment of EPWP projects to growth trajectories and various other strategic initiatives.
Themba Nobatana is a member of the Dorothy Zihlangu branch of the ANC in the Dullah Omar region, Western Cape.
ANC discussion document on Economic Transformation, 1997 Mafikeng
ANC discussion document on Economic Transformation, 2002 Stellenbosch Conference.
ANC NEC statement on the occasion of the 95th Anniversary of the ANC, 2007.
President Thabo Mbeki`s 2003 State of the Nation address.
Minister of Labour`s Determination: Special Public Works Programme, Government Gazette, 2002.
Report of the study tour by the Select Committee on Public Service to Eastern and Western Cape.
Department of Labour, Code of Good Practice for Employment and Conditions of Work for special Public Works Programme, Government Gazette, 2002.
Department of Public Works, Framework for Monitoring and Evaluation of Expanded Public Works Programme, 2005.
McCord, Anna (2004) Policy Expectations and Programme Reality: The Poverty Reduction and Labour Market Impact of two Public Works Programmes in South Africa, SALDRU working paper, UCT.
Phillips, Sean (2004) input on Expanded Public Works Programme in a seminar titled, "Overcoming underdevelopment in the South Africa`s second economy", hosted jointly by UNDP, HRSC and DBSA.
The ANC`s experience of minimum quotas for the representation of women in all decision-making structures should encourage us to adopt the 50/50 approach as an important instrument in the protracted struggle to eradicate patriarchy, writes Thenjiwe Mtintso.
The ANC, and indeed the whole Alliance, has been grappling with the problem of the contradictions of unequal gender relations for a long time, especially within the democratic framework and the "current conjuncture". Hopefully, debates in preparation for the ANC 52nd National Conference in December, will avoid the 1997 conference`s marginalisation of the paper on `Gendered Perspectives` and the subsequent unsuccessful gender editing of the Strategy and Tactics document.
The debates will surely be an opportunity to explore the gender dynamics of, and power relations within, all the areas covered in the draft Strategy and Tactics document recently distributed to structures for discussion.
The ANC, the Alliance and government can no longer afford the luxury of treating gender contradictions in an ad hoc fashion, as the litmus test of democracy and real transformation of society is the emancipation of women and the resolution of unequal power relations between men and women in all spheres of society. The current peaceful coexistence of democracy and patriarchy has to be examined and the means to resolve that contradiction have to be found. Coherent, consistent and concrete policies and programmes will take us beyond the counting of numbers, gender neutrality and gender speak of today.
Numbers and transformation
As we reflect on the transformation of our society in general and women`s emancipation and gender equality in particular, the 50/50 debate will spring to mind. Unfortunately discussion of mechanisms to facilitate the access of women to decision-making structures in the ANC has always tended to be emotional. The heated and sometimes confused debate on the 50/50 question at the last Conference is one example. To some the numbers and the quotas are an irritation as they threaten somebody`s possibilities of entry into "leadership". To others they are opportunistic as they guarantee entry, especially for those who are already at the door, only on the basis of their sex. Yet to others they are a reflection of democracy as they show "representivity". Others want them discussed because translating 50/50 "women representation" into a binding Constitutional requirement may lead to "ruling out and marginalising young male cadres". Whichever way we look at it the "current conjuncture" demands that the numbers not only be discussed but that the ANC gets them right.
To avoid confusion and opportunism the obvious needs to be restated.
Firstly, the fundamental problem in our society and in our organisations is patriarchy and its intersection with other forms of oppression and discrimination of women based on, for instance, class and race.
Patriarchy, the ideology and system underpinning the organisation of society based on the "superiority" of men and "inferiority" of women that result in unequal power relations between them, is so deeply embedded in all spheres of our lives, beginning in the private sphere - the family and spreading out to and through the whole public sphere including the state and all its institutions, education, work, religion, media, etc that it is taken as natural and God-given. It is therefore understood that numbers cannot be thrown at patriarchy for it to scuttle away in defeat.
Secondly, women are not a universal entity whose interests can be represented by their presence in decision-making structures like the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC). As others put it: "Bracketed within its (woman) category are a multiplicity of real, living women, who do not share an identical oppression; they define themselves by their race, their class, etc... anything but their sex. Sexual inequality might be a universal phenomenon, but that does not mean that women are universally the same." This, of course, is true of men too, who are neither a homogenous entity nor do they enter the leadership structures to represent the interests or fight the struggles of men.
Thirdly, the presence of substantial numbers of women in ANC leadership (or any leadership for that matter) is not a reflection of the resolution of unequal gender relations.
Therefore, we do understand that numbers are not in themselves the resolution of patriarchal power relations. But we also know that they are a critical part of the process towards that end. Theories and empirical evidence abound as to the critical importance of numbers. Some of these are:
Therefore, access of a sizeable number of women to decision-making structures facilitates their participation in those structures and contributes to, and has a positive impact on, the transformation of unequal power relations in the institution itself and in society as a whole. Evidence shows that mechanisms to act as facilitators for access of women into these positions are necessary, as entry is neither easy nor automatic. It must also be added that while transformation of gender relations should not depend on women it is true that in patriarchal societies women are critical in bringing about that change. This is not to reduce their role in the sphere of decision-making but to recognise the additional burden that society has placed on them. Outcomes are what society is striving for but at the moment the main drivers for gender equality are women.
The ANC and Alliance should therefore understand the 50/50 approach as part of the struggle against patriarchy and the process towards `engendered democracy` and the transformation agenda. Numbers are only a small part of the arsenal we use on our multi-pronged struggle for the complete eradication of unequal power relations between men and women. As attitudes tend to lag far behind everything else quantitative changes do influence and play a role in achievement of qualitative changes. Empirical evidence and lived experience in the ANC and in South Africa shows that access and participation of a sizeable number of women in decision-making structures has been critical for the struggle against patriarchy and the transformation of society. Women`s entry for instance into the NEC and the Cabinet, traditionally male domains, has not only changed the "face" of the NEC and Cabinet, but has fostered, in many different ways, gender consciousness and a move towards engendered policies. These women have contributed to putting women and gender related matters at the centre of the ANC and Cabinet discourse and agenda and thus strengthened the struggle for women`s emancipation and gender equality. The same can be said of women elsewhere, for example in parliament. Some of these women have grabbed the instruments of power and used them to change society while simultaneously changing the very power and its male definitions and use. So, women do not and should not appropriate these institutional power positions, but have to change them. As someone aptly put it, "It`s not about simply mainstreaming women. It`s not about women joining the polluted stream. It`s about cleaning the stream, changing stagnant pools into fresh, flowing waters".
Constitutionalising the mechanisms
Democracy and democratic institutions do not automatically facilitate the access of women into the centres of power, including the ANC. Women tend to do "a disappearing act" when it comes to being elected into positions.
This is mainly because of socialisation of both women and men, which never assigns women the role of decision-makers and leaders in society. Until such time that biological differences such as race and sex become "non issues" for deciding leadership, democratic organisations have to use the "affirming mechanisms such as quotas or "binding 50/50 constitutional requirements" to facilitate entry and to nudge the mindset to change.
Besides, the presence of a critical mass of women in the NEC and any other leadership structure of the liberation movement is a prerequisite for their participation. One woman, for instance, in a sea of men is not likely to participate effectively, let alone influence directions. For that reason, mechanisms to ensure women`s entry into decision-making spheres are necessary. Literature and international experiences have shown that without such mechanisms, women will forever be confined to the private sphere. The threshold of one-third has been proven internationally as the point at which women and indeed marginalised groups are able to make an effective contribution.
The ANC has been a trailblazer on access of women to decision-making levels. This is directly attributable to women themselves, who in their own right have long freed themselves from the constraints of socialisation and stereotyping. It has also been due to the decisive measures that the ANC has taken, including the one-third quotas. Of course, many ANC structures have failed to adhere to the policy of the one-third women quota and the leadership has, in many instances, turned a blind eye to this. But now the ANC and the country are past the 30% and have to get the numbers right at 50%.
The African Union (AU) and SADC, in which the ANC-led government plays an important role, have adopted 50% women`s "representation". The SADC report on Gender and Development shows the "snow ball" effect of the ANC quotas for women in parliament on other political parties in South Africa and elsewhere. They argue that even those political parties and countries who do not have quotas, have had to increase women`s presence and participation in decision-making and have directly attributed this to the actions taken by political parties in the region, such as ANC, Frelimo and Swapo. Women from other political parties in the region have looked up to the ANC and ANC Women`s League (ANCWL) for leadership on getting at least the numbers right, even if not necessarily getting the gender relations right. Now is the time. The ANC has to once again give leadership.
But the 50/50 balance must not end up defeating the whole gender transformation agenda by, for instance:
It is therefore imperative that the quota system and 50/50 is not vulgarised either for setting women up or for opportunistic agendas. Clear mechanisms for the implementation of the quota will have to be set up beyond just a clause in the Constitution. Cadre development is necessary for all our cadres, men and women, to understand the complex intersection of class, race, gender and other contradictions and the necessary struggles for their resolution. That mechanisms must be used is beyond debate but entrenching democracy such that these mechanisms become redundant is an ongoing struggle for all of us.
Overthrowing, not managing patriarchy
It is clear that there is a critical interrelationship and interdependence between access of women and mechanisms for such access, their participation in decision-making and gender transformation.
Patriarchy is sustained even in the high echelons of power such as the NEC, a democratic state and in a society like ours. It may take subtle forms and different variations mediated by other divisions like class, race, sexual orientation and so on. Patriarchy is like an amoeba spreading throughout our society and is also a parasite and a lizard sticking snugly to and taking the colour of whatever economic or political system is in place. Patriarchy is cruel and dangerous, especially as it also resides with us in our most important and revered space - family. An assumption that democracy automatically results in change in gender relations may lead to all of us buying into patriarchy or getting absorbed by it. A conscious development of theory is critical to help us understand the workings of patriarchy, its machinations, its character and its different forms in our organisations and society as it is interwoven within and intersects with other oppressive systems such as racism and capitalism. Indigenous approaches, informed by other experiences, but based on our concrete situation, should be applied.
The ANC Strategy and Tactics and all our policies and programmes will therefore have to address the coexistence of patriarchy and democracy in our country for us to lead the struggle for its complete destruction. We cannot and should not even try to "manage" it; we have to destroy it. In this current "conjuncture" we can at least get the numbers right, at 50/50, as we continue in the protracted struggle for complete transformation of all unequal power relations in our society and a better life for all.
* Thenjiwe Mtintso is a member of the ANC National Executive Committee.
The 2010 World Cup should be a truly African event that has a significant and lasting impact on the regeneration of the continent, writes Eddy Maloka.
The decision by the world football federation, FIFA, to award South Africa the right to host the 2010 World Cup was a victory for Africa and the continent`s football community. This was the first time in FIFA`s 100 year existence that this tournament was awarded to an African country. This event comes to Africa at the time when the continent is hard at work claiming and asserting its place in the 21st century.
There is global recognition of the importance, role and contribution that sport can make in various domains. Sport can be mainstreamed into the strategic agenda of countries and a continent like Africa. Sport can be used as a tool to support and help realise social and economic development, including the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Sport has a positive impact on individuals and communities in that it encourages and enhances physical fitness, mental well-being, leadership skills, social interaction and national pride. In this sense, sport can encourage constructive social behavior in individuals and promote social cohesion, tolerance, peace and security, as well as nation-building. Sport is an inseparable component of human rights, hence the global campaign for "Sport for All", which is aimed at involving the socially excluded and marginalised.
The 2010 World Cup, therefore, provides Africa with the opportunity to reap these globally recognised fruits of sport to the benefit of the continent. The 2010 event, if well utilised, can help advance the continent`s development agenda, including improvement in football infrastructure and administration; strengthening Pan-African unity and integration; mobilising African people, from Cape to Cairo; and improving Africa`s strategic position in the world and, consequently, help combat Afro-pessimism.
It is this approach that encouraged South Africa to campaign during the bid process for hosting the 2010 World Cup with the theme: "Africa`s Stage". In his presentation to the FIFA Executive Committee on the eve of the historic decision to award the 2010 World Cup to South Africa, President Thabo Mbeki made a pledge: " With all due humility, we undertake that as hosts of the Soccer World Cup, we would ensure that our continent shares a common sense of empowering achievement at what we would do to ensure that we sustain the pride of FIFA, all footballers and lovers of football throughout the world, and humanity in general in the human festival that is the Soccer World Cup."
Similarly, at an event in Berlin, Germany, in July 2006 to unveil the 2010 Soccer World Cup emblem, the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, President Alpha Konare, observed: "This day is a day of pride and responsibility for all of Africa. We are here to celebrate Africa and football; it is a time of happiness and passion. This opportunity will grant us a chance to together build a better image of Africa, of peace and friendship."
The South African Football Federation (SAFA), an organisation to which the right to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup was awarded, has since established a Local Organising Committee (LOC) as a country-level focal point for preparations for the event. The South African government has also, for its part, established a process and mechanism for discharging its obligations towards the hosting of the event. Both the LOC and the South African Government have put in place a process and mechanism for ensuring that the 2010 World Cup becomes, indeed, an African event. This mechanism is organised under the auspices of the African Legacy Programme located within the LOC.
FIFA`s Soccer World Cup events have hitherto revolved essentially around three priorities:
The 2010 World Cup, with its African emphasis, has introduced a fourth priority - a World Cup with a lasting legacy for the African continent and its people.
"African Legacy" is a pillar on which the African ownership of the 2010 Soccer World Cup is to rest. As with many mega sporting events, it is expected that the 2010 Soccer World Cup will bring benefits to Africa. But the 2010 Legacy agenda is different from legacy discourse associated with other mega sporting events in three main respects:
In this respect, the African Legacy agenda of the 2010 World Cup should aim at supporting the realisation of African Renaissance objectives, including programmes of the AU like the NEPAD; ensuring maximum and effective African participation at the 2010 event; supporting efforts aimed at strengthening and promoting the development and advancement of African football; and improving Africa`s global image.
Legacy initiatives will have to relate to the period leading to the 2010 event, the event itself, and the period beyond 2010. Some legacy initiatives will deliver tangible results (such as a soccer field), others intangibles (such as "national unity" or "African pride"). Whereas constituencies associated with the legacy process will deploy their energies to realise their objectives and programmes, the fact that many good results will be achieved as a product of a multiplier effect should not be overlooked.
Accordingly, the African Legacy programmes will have to support, promote and enhance the African Renaissance. They will have to be Africa-owned, people-owned and people-driven. They must be realistic and deliverable, have a visible impact, and be sustainable post-2010.
The African Union has taken active interest in ensuring that the 2010 Soccer World Cup is owned as an African event. At its Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July 2004, the AU mandated "the Commission, in collaboration with CAF [Confederation of African Football], to work with FIFA and the host country to develop programmes to deliver a successful World Cup". The AU Commission, with the South African government, have since set in motion a process aimed at implementing the undertaking in this decision.
Consequently, the 8th Ordinary Summit of the AU in January 2007 adopted a declaration "ushering in the 2010 World Cup as an African event". In his address to the Summit, President Mbeki emphasised that "what therefore has been decided is that we should have this Africa Legacy Programme so that indeed in the manner that has already been described, we work in a systematic manner to ensure that the 2010 Soccer World Cup does indeed make a lasting impact on the continent and leaves the peoples of our continent and the Diaspora indeed with a lasting legacy".
In the declaration, AU member states "commit ourselves to provide all-round support to the Government and Peoples of South Africa in their efforts to organise the 2010 World Cup". One of the activities envisaged for 2007, which has been declared by the AU as the International Year of African Football, will focus on reaffirming and expressing Pan-African solidarity with South Africa as the host for 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Responsibility for the implementation of the African Legacy Programme is to be shared among African countries, including South Africa. Accordingly, in the Declaration, member states reaffirmed their "commitment to make the 2010 World Cup a truly African World Cup, by committing our countries to the full and substantive involvement in the preparations leading to the 2010 World Cup". Furthermore, member states are urged in the Declaration "to develop national programmes... to work closely with the [AU] Commission in the implementation of... 2010 Soccer World Cup African Legacy Programme".
There are areas where individual African states can intervene at country-level to reap the fruits of the hosting of the FIFA World Cup in Africa. These include branding and marketing of the country; tourism development and promotion; football development, especially in the areas of infrastructure, national leagues, national teams, and national football competitions; social and economic development; taking initiative in hosting international conferences and sporting events; and promotion and development of the culture and heritage sector.
The Legacy Programme will have to be rolled out in phases. It will concentrate on three core focus areas: promoting and supporting the realisation of the African Renaissance objectives; promoting and supporting the development of African football within countries and across the continent; and addressing the plight and interests of key football constituencies.
In promoting and supporting the African Renaissance agenda, the Legacy Programme should contribute towards:
With respect to football support, promotion and development, the Legacy Programme should make a contribution in:
Core football constituencies should not be left out. These include current, former and future football players, women players, and fans. Projects will have to be developed, together with these constituencies, which will not only mobilise them for 2010, but also help highlight and address their plight, interests, and some of their concerns.
The Legacy Programme will serve as a vehicle to ensure that preparations for the 2010 World Cup and the event itself are truly African. However, the programme will have to be owned continent-wide in line with the spirit of the decision of the 2004 July Summit of the AU. The Legacy Programme is a vehicle that will ensure that the 2010 Soccer World Cup is truly an African event. However, the success of the programme will depend on the extent to which it owned and implemented beyond the borders of the host country.
* Eddy Maloka is an African Legacy delegate on the 2010 FIFA World Cup Local Organising Committee.
The marathon 1956-1961 treason trial, which began 50 years ago, was a watershed moment in the struggle for a non-racial democracy. For an inside view of the trial, Umrabulo spoke to treason trialist John Nkadimeng. John Nkadimeng is a veteran of the ANC, SACP and SACTU, a leader of the Sebatakgomo rural uprising, volunteer in the Defiance Campaign, trialist in the 1956 Treason trial, and recipient of the Order of Luthuli, awarded to South Africans who have made a meaningful contribution to the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice and peace, and conflict resolution.
What were the conditions of your incarceration?
Very bad. We were kept crammed and barefoot in pools of water, poured deliberately on cement floor. It is as a consequence of these conditions that one of the trialists, Cde Jethro Shakung, whose asthmatic situation was worsened, passed away. He was buried in Phokwane, Sekhukhuneland, in what was the first big ANC funeral in the area.
How was the evidence against you led?
The state brought in hundreds of informers, farmers and even government clerks to give evidence against us. All of them failed the cross-examination. They wanted to argue that they saw congress organisers mobilising people for struggle and the demands of the Freedom Charter.
How was your defence?
From the onset the state didn`t have a case against us. Nevertheless our defence was very brilliant and we had very able lawyers who defended our case. Among them was the young Braam Fischer, who told us that treason is like murder, that in a case of murder to get a conviction you need to show a weapon, an intention and a dead body. In a case of treason you need to show the weapons, an intention and an army, otherwise you cannot get a conviction. The regime argued that we wanted to overthrow it by force and violence. They couldn`t succeed because even our defiance campaign was deliberately and thoroughly non-violent - if you were part of the campaign you were not allowed even to carry a knife. The treason trial was therefore a phenomenal failure by the regime to criminalise the freedom struggle.
At what stage were you acquitted?
We were 156 when the trial began in 1956. Many comrades were released at various stages of the trial until when we were finally acquitted in 1961 being only 30.
How big was the trial?
Very big. Almost the entire leadership of the movement was on trial. The state pinned its hopes on the charge of High Treason. The trial was also attended by multitudes of people, including church leaders, community elders, ordinary people and even representatives from other African countries.
How long were you on trial?
I was one of those on trial from beginning to end. I was there from the time in 1956 when 156 congress leaders and organisers were rounded up and charged to 1961 when we were only 30 and the state lost its case and we were acquitted.
What was the relationship between the trial and the Freedom Charter? Of course the Freedom Charter was the basis, the central document, of the state`s attempt [to bring charges of] high treason against us, the entire liberation movement and the freedom struggle. The regime took the speeches, pamphlets and letters for mobilisation around the Charter and wanted to use them as evidence against us.
Who were the treason trialists?
The treason trialists were clearly representative of the people of South Africa. There were Africans, Coloureds, Whites and Indians. Almost the entire leadership of the movement was on trial for treason. That included Chief AJ Luthuli, OR Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Joe Slovo, GM Naicker, Helen Joseph, Moses Kotane, Yusuf Dadoo, Lilian Ngoyi and many more.
Of all the treason trialists, to whom were you very close?
I worked together with most of the comrades on trial and as such I was very close to most. The ones I can say I was very very close to are comrades like Flag Boshielo, who in fact recruited me to the freedom struggle. He used to visit my hostel at Jeppe from Denver every Friday and made me read the editorial of the Guardian newspaper, and every time asked me whether I understood. He then recruited me into the Communist Party. I later joined the ANC, and because I was working in the tobacco industry, I became a trade unionist and a shopsteward of the Tobacco Workers Union. I was also very close to Cde Elias Phakane Moretsele, that industrious Transvaal president of the ANC.
What happened thereafter?
On acquittal in 1961, when the treason charges fell away, I was banned and restricted to the magisterial district of Johannesburg. Part of the restriction was that I was specifically banned from setting my foot in Alexandra and Sekhukhuneland. Of course when the movement was banned I worked underground until I later left the country for exile.
* John Nkadimeng was interviewed by Rudolph Phala, Head of Political Education, ANC Limpopo.
King Sekhukhune I was a unifier, a brave warrior-king and a great freedom fighter who left an enduring legacy in the struggle for the freedom of the South African people, writes Kgolane Rudolph Phala.
His Majesty King Ryne Thulare Sekhukhune III, who passed away recently, was laid to rest on 11 February 2007. He was a direct descendant of a long line of warrior-kings of Bapedi. In his honour and memory this piece is dedicated. We however, also, pay special tribute to his forefathers and most particularly to his outstanding grandfather, King Sekhukhune I.
The Bapedi originated from the Bakgatla and moved to the Eastern-Central Transvaal. This is where they built a powerful empire in Bopedi, by a skilful combination of diplomacy and military conquest. Their motto, "Fetakgomo o sware Motho, Mofetakgomo ke moriri oa hloga", was used to build a strong and revered Pedi nation. They implemented it practically in building a nation by bringing in small tribes, not slaughtering the weak and defeated people, by using cattle to marry as many women as possible from neighboring tribes, by admitting outsiders and refugees into the fold of the tribe and by conquering recalcitrant tribes. The empire grew over time to a stage where at the zenith of its success it covered the area between the Lekwe (Vaal) and the Lebepe (Limpopo) rivers, in the south and north, and the Komati river and the Kgalagadi, in the East and in the West respectively (Magubane, 1998:p127). They regarded the entire vast land as their own and Pedi soldiers were sent to check the boundaries. They fought everyone who encroached on it - Boers, British, Swazis, Arab slave traders, and others.
As a consequence, the Marota, as the Bapedi are affectionately addressed, were the de facto rulers of a great empire that included people of other origins, including the Bakgaga, Batau, Bakone, Baroka, Batlokwa, Baphuthi, Bakwena, Bakgatla, Bantwane, BaMongatane, BaMohlala, Mapulana, Matebele, Matlala, Batswana, MaSwazi, Batswako and others. They all owed allegiance and had a common loyalty to the Pedi kings. They even requested initiation sessions from the Pedi kings. So it is clear that, "historically the Pedi were a relatively small tribe who by various means built up a considerable empire. This resulted in their language being accepted as a lingua franca and indeed, with minor adjustments, as the medium for Bantu schools in most of the Transvaal." (Monnig,1967:v)
"Initially they were small and weak, but they soon began to establish their authority over a number of other Sotho groups and started to play a dominant role in the area. The basis of the Pedi power was laid by King Thulare (1780-1820). Thulare was a fearless warrior and a wise statesman." (Van Aswegen, 1990:p63) The Bapedi, like any other tribe, had their kings and royalty, their succession struggles and a powerful culture and tradition.
"The Pedi owned large herds of cattle and were skilful manufacturers of iron tools." (Van Aswegen, 1990:63) It is because of their dependence on cattle for their everyday livelihood, that cattle imagery dominated their language in idioms, praise songs, poetry and speech. Cattle represented a concrete expression of Pedi wealth. They therefore dominated such ceremonies and intra- and inter-tribal matters as funerals, marriage, initiation, court fines, song, ancestor worship and traditional rituals.
This dominant role of cattle had a material background in that the Bapedi depended on them for almost everything from ceremonies to building relations, clothing (cow hide), shoes, meat, milk, go kgopha (polish). The Sepedi word for cow and cattle, kgomo and dikgomo, literally dominates the interactions of Bapedi life. They held dikoma, had dikgoro, pitso, moshate, dibego, malapa, mashemo, diruiwa, dingaka, bahlabani and worshiped God through badimo.
They had a fairly democratic and egalitarian society. They had laws, rules and practices that were adhered to, and punished those who transgressed. As Lerumo says, "The African political and judicial structure was essentially democratic. Important decisions affecting the tribe were referred to a general assembly of the people - the Tswana and Sotho pitso, the Xhosa and Zulu imbizo. The Chief`s court, at which disputes were tried publicly and every man had the right to attend and speak, was the pivot of the legal and political structure." (Lerumo, 1971:p3)
In their praise poem the Bapedi talk about their own origins, strengths and tribulations: "Rena re Bakgatla ba dithebe. Re boa Mohlake, Mohlaka Marole, Mohlopi wa Mmasebutla sa Dimo Seolomathebo, Wa naka dira le magodu. Nna re bowa phooko le phookwane, Mabje-maramaga mabje magolo ka mabedi e kago mae a tshilwane. Re Bahlako ba Raphogole `a Ngwato. Rena re Marota `a Mahwibidu, digolokwane tsa Tsate, dibolaya diipolaela, boba tsa Mohlaka." (Phala, 1935:p88)
The birth of King Sekhukhune While the birth of King Sekhukhune to King Sekwati and his wife Thorometjane Phala in 1814 may have gone almost unnoticed, he was to bring joy, pride, prowess and bravery to the Pedi Nation. When he was born the young boy was named Matsebe. He acquired the name Sekhukhune later in life as a nickname and, like all such names, over time it replaced his real name. The young Matsebe acquired the name Sekhukhune as a consequence of his outstanding role in fights against Boers. The Boers used forts and many attacks on the Bapedi to encircle, besiege and starve them into submission. It was a situation of permanent siege against the Bapedi. As part of their military strategy they used to block Pedi access to water and food. In this situation, the brave young Matsebe used to move quietly under cover of darkness or forests, a khukhuna, with his trusted lieutenants to get food and water for his people. This activity was the backbone of Bapedi survival from the scorched earth policy of the Boers.
That is why on his sereto (praise-poem) he says, "ke paletse maburu ka Tsate, sebata ke a khukhuna. Moka boditsi ke hlahla le phoka." (I survived Boer assaults on Tjate. No one could catch my movements. I am very slippery.) This is the brave young man who came to be known as King Sekhukhune.
When his father, King Sekwati, passed away in 1861, Sekhukhune, with the help of his Matuba regiment, militarily repulsed an attempt on the throne of his father by his half-brother Mampuru. In true serota tradition he then allowed Mampuru to leave the Bapedi peacefully. In celebrating that success Sekhukhune inserted in his sereto (praise-poem) that, "ke hlabile monna ka lerumo gara kgoro a be a hloma motshongwane yake ke pheko ya motse wowe."(I stabbed a man with a spear in the middle of a homestead enclosure and he flew his feet to the air as if it is a consequence of a traditional bone divination.) On ascending the throne of his father he proved to be a worthy successor. That is why to this day the Bapedi honour, respect, fondly remember and pay tribute to him lovingly. He continued where his father and forebearers had left to build a powerful Pedi Kingdom.
King Sekhukhune over the years grew into a unifier, warrior-king in the category of Kings Moshoeshoe, Makhado, Maleboho, Makgoba, Ngungunyane, Mokopane, Mzilikazi, Cetswayo, Hintsa, Sandile and Tshaka.
A lengthy article was published in Sechaba, the ANC`s mouthpiece, in 1982, with the heading, `We remember Sekhukhune`. It said, "This year as the African National Congress commemorates its 70th anniversary, we also look back beyond the generation of the founding fathers of the ANC, to that generation which laid the foundation for later resistance, a generation which fought throughout the breadth and length of our country, arms in hand against the invaders. Surely Sekhukhune I is an honorable representative of this generation. In this year we also remember the centenary of his death on August 13, 1882. His name ranks high in the roll call of our fallen heroes." (Sechaba, 1982:p17)
It was during Sekhukhune`s rule that the Bapedi consolidated their power and fought many battles against the Boer and British land-grabbers and settler-colonialists. Although they fought on foot with assegais against men on horsebacks using guns, they fought heroically. Despite being outweaponed, in many battles they defeated the intruders as a consequence of a brilliant combination of knowledge of territory, military strategy, bravery and pheko (African war-herb mixtures and bone divinations for war purposes). It was during the reign of Kings Sekwati and Sekhukhune that the Boer and Scottish invaders were routed in the continuous warfare with the Bapedi at Vegkop, Phsiring, Tubatse (1846), Thaba Mosega (1876), Magnet Heights (1878), Fort Weeber, Fort Burgers, and Magnet Heights again, in 1879. In all these battles the spear defeated the gun.
It was also during Sekhukhune`s reign that missionaries increased their interaction with the Bapedi. Led by Alexander Merensky of the Berlin Missionary Society, they pioneered the introduction of Christianity among the Bapedi. Among them was PE Schwellnus, who wrote many Sepedi school books, translated the Bible into the Sepedi and Xivenda languages and wrote sixty-eight hymns with very beautiful words and melodies.
At different times and for different reasons, they had mission stations scattered all over Sekhukhuneland, Lobethal, Kgalatlou, Gerlaschhoop, Bochabelo, Ga-Ratau, and Maandagshoek. Missionaries had hot and cold relations with King Sekhukhune, because they were on occasion alleged to be involved in subversive and treacherous activities on behalf of the Boers. The Bapedi said that some were undertaking dubious activities under the cover of religion, hiding behind the Bible and using the name of God.
The suspicions of the Bapedi were fuelled by the fact that missionaries did in fact collaborate with the Boers and the British. Despite their general progressive role of introducing literacy and so on, missionaries ensured that colonisation was extended and exerted even in areas where outright military conquest would have been either very difficult or totally impossible. The case of the Bahananwa under Kgosi Maleboho is a clear example of how after their several failed attempts to enter the mountain fortress they changed their strategy. Missionaries went up the mountain and later the Boers who had besieged it found their way up. The Bible helped the gun. For instance, that self-same Merensky had a commitment to uphold the authority of the Transvaal Boer Republic, the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR), and enforce its taxes over the Bapedi.
The ZAR appointed him the Boer representative among the Bapedi.(Delius, 1983)
The notoriously trigger-happy and bloodthirsty Abel Erasmus, who was a ZAR Native Commissioner in the Lydenburg district, "regarded the kaffir as the natural enemy of the Boer, and himself as the Heaven ordained instrument for maintaining the supremacy of the whites." (Wilson, 1901:p201) The selfsame Erasmus also formed close links with JA Winter of the Berlin Missionary Society. In 1880 Winter restarted the work of the mission in the Pedi heartland. He even later founded the Lutheran Bapedi Church. (Beinert, 1986:p186)
Pedi military might was felt everywhere. It is as a direct consequence of being thoroughly defeated by the Bapedi in 1876 that "Die Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek President Thomas Burgers returned to Pretoria with his tail between the legs and never recovered such prestige as he ever possessed and in due course lost his position to Paul Kruger, an illiterate backwoodsman whose ugly statue dominates and disfigures Church Square, Pretoria, to this day." (Sechaba, 1982:p18)
It is an evident result of the Pedi successes in military battles that the Boers and British surrounded the entire Sekhukhuneland in forts. These heavily armed military posts were installed to keep the Bapedi in check.
Some of the Forts were named Weeber, Victoria, Olifants, Edward, Alexandra, Rowlands, Kruger, Wilhelm, Funk and Faugh-a-Ballagh. The most noteworthy of all of them is Fort Burgers, named after the then President of the ZAR Rev Thomas Francois Burgers, which gave birth to the modern town of Burgersfort, which remains an ugly monument of Boer savagery in Tubatse, Sekhukhuneland to this day. It doubtlessly remains a very strong case for name change in line with the country`s transformation project.
The Pedi marriage diplomacy
The Pedi have an age-old saying called `go thiba difata`, meaning to block possible enemies by having friendly relations with the bordering tribes and peoples through marriage and other friendly ties. All the Pedi kings adhered to this tradition by marrying into powerful neighboring and bordering tribes who in turn reciprocated the practice. Pedi Kings marry into these tribes and those chiefs in turn also traditionally marry their mabone (candle-wives) from Maroteng. "The practice of marriage diplomacy dates back to a long time ago when King Mampuru attacked and defeated Ba-gaMashabela and the latter sued for peace by sending their chief`s son as hostage, he gave this man his daughter Nthane as a wife, in this way ensuring that the next Mashabela chief will be of Marota blood. By so doing he invented the practice of linking subordinate tribes to the Marota tribal wives - a custom which became one of the main pillars of the Pedi empire." (Boothma, 1976:p182/Hunt, 1931:p279)
But this system of marriage diplomacy also takes into account rank. Not just any chief was allowed to marry a Lerota royal wife. He had to have significant status. In all some forty tribes get their candle-wives from among the daughters of the king. The relative status of the tribe to some degree was reflected in the genealogical rank of the women they are given as candle-wives. Large and powerful tribes like Masemola, Mphahlele, Nkadimeng and Magakala were usually given full sisters of the king or half sisters of a high rank (Boothma, 1976:pp193-4).
This practice is significant in many ways, including solidifying a nation and strengthening fraternal relations. For instance, King Sekwati, Sekhukhune`s father, had sixteen wives who came from tribes such as Ga-Mphahlele, Ga-Matlala, Kgautswane, Ga-Mashabela, Ba-Binatau, Bakone and many royal daughters. The other key part of the process of marriage diplomacy were wives given as tribute to the king by subsidiary tribes (goloba). The Matebele of Moletlane gave King Sekwati, Tlabane, the daughter of Chief Kekana, as a token of their submission. The Bahlaloga ba Moletji gave two daughters of Kgoshi Moloto, Serole, also known as Konko, and her younger sister, as tribute to King Sekwati (Van Warmelo, 1944:p 48).
King Sekhukhune I outdid his predecessors and successors to date on this practice. He married 35 wives. Pedi kings also marry as much as possible into Pedi royalty to strengthen relations and the royal blood. King Sekwati married many Pedi royals including one from Magakala. King Sekhukhune also married many Pedi royal daughters including four from Magakala. King Sekhukhune II had eighteen wives (Van Warmelo, 1944:pp52-54).
The use of marriage diplomacy in polygamy has been useful to the Bapedi in building a nation, strengthening the empire, consolidating royal blood, extending their rule and bringing peace.
The Anglo-Pedi War
Because the Boers were unable to defeat the Bapedi, which was said to be encouraging African instability in the British colonies of Natal and the Cape, Sir Theophilus Shepstone annexed the Transvaal on 12 April 1877. It was after the defeat of the Zulus at the Battle of Ulundi on 4 July 1879 that all available fighting men were concentrated in the Transvaal to defeat Sekhukhune. Sir Garnet Wolseley brought in Boers, British, 8,000 Swazi warriors, Mampuru`s soldiers and other auxiliaries and began to make final war preparations at Middleburg in October 1879.
It was a major military operation, but the Bapedi, like the Amazulu, the Basotho, Vhavenda and others, were a military empire. They had a full-time standing army of around 10,000 men and trained regiments. They were armed with marumo (assegais), matsolo, dilepe (axes), melamo (knobkierries) and dikotse (shields). They also had around 1,500 guns, acquired over time from the reign of Kings Thulare, Malekutu, Sekwati and Sekhukhune, through migrants in mines and the Portuguese at Delagoa Bay. The Pedi headquarters, Leolo, Thaba Mosego and Tjate, were dibo (strongholds) with a lot of caves. The Bapedi even had war-doctors (ngaka ya marumo) and war-herbs (tshidi tsa marumo).
The Boers and the British, as part of their rotten notion of racial superiority, underrated Sekhukhune and as such did not understand the Pedi war stratagems. They particularly could not understand how the Bapedi acquired and over time accumulated guns, as Muller confirms, "the Bapedi chief, Sekukuni, who lived in the mountainous area near Lydenburg, has somehow obtained guns and ammunition." (Muller, 1981:p266)
The combined force gathered by Wolseley at Middelburg in October attacked the Pedi Headquarters at Tjate from all directions on 28 November 1879.
They swarmed on the Bapedi from all sides. The war raged undecided and bloody until 2 December. The Pedi warriors fought heroically and very bravely despite huge losses and big cannons and numerous horses brought against them. It wasn`t until the invaders killed Morwamotshe, the son of King Sekhukhune and heir-apparent to the Pedi throne, that the war changed. His regiment of Makwa did the unimaginable. They threw away the assegais and knobkierries, and took out axes and fought hand-to-hand with the enemy to the last man. This very heroic incident gave birth to the Pedi saying - Makwa ka dilepe. The war came to an end on 2 December 1879 when King Sekhukhune was captured and taken to prison in Pretoria.
The war essentially rested on the shoulders of the 8,000 to 10,000 Swazi warriors. It was they who came to avenge their earlier defeat by collaborating with the colonisers. By their sheer numbers and knowledge of African warfare they ensured colonial victory in the war.
This heroic and historic war, like Isandlwana, Thaba Bosiu, Songoswi and others, highlighted that: "African communities from the Cape to Limpopo waged heroic resistance to colonial occupation. Despite being outgunned they showed rare stoicism in many battles spanning over two-and-half centuries. However, their resistance was fragmented among and within various ethnic groups and it could not stand the tide of superior armed force backed by a developed economic and political base of the imperial powers." (ANC, 2002). They were defeated because, "their implements and methods of production had not advanced, in a historic sense, to a level which would enable their communities to withstand invasion by capitalist states. The early societies of Southern Africa were defeated not only by the superior weapons of the invaders but also by their own backwardness and disunity". (Lerumo, 1971:p3)
Both the Anglo-Zulu and the Anglo-Pedi wars were a direct consequence of the discovery of diamonds in Kimberley around 1865. Therefore the wars fought after these discoveries were in fact no longer just about dispossession of land and cattle, but capitalist wars in a modern sense.
That is why Britain entered the wars, because these were imperialist wars for the extension and entrenchment of capitalism. The sheer force and total determination with which they were fought is because, "capitalism emerges out of feudalism dripping blood from every pore," and, "the bourgeois compels all nations, on the pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production." (Marx, 1848) Kings Makhado, Cetswayo, Sekhukhune, Maleboho, Mokopane and Makgoba were fighting against a far more advanced, organised and determined force, a modern global foe, the imperialist system of capitalism.
King Sekhukhune dies
The Anglo-Pedi war badly damaged the Bapedi. Sekhukhune himself lost three brothers and many children, including the heir Morwamotshe. King Sekhukhune was released from prison on 8 August 1881 in terms of Article 23 of the Pretoria Convention between the Boers and the British. He came home to the new headquarters at Manoge triumphant. Meanwhile in prison he learned through his magotlo a merako (intelligence sources) that his half-brother Mampuru had returned and was acting as if he was a King in the kgoro ya moshate (royal council).
On the night of 13 August 1882, while Sekhukhune was resting on the verandah of his house, Mampuru attacked and stabbed him with an assegai, killing him. It is because Mampuru feared Sekhukhune even in death that he ran away and sought refuge with the Ndebele chief Nyabela. This brought to an end the life of one of the most powerful warrior-kings and an outstanding freedom fighter. King Sekhukhune feared that when died "his subjects were to be forced into labour in white farms and mines. But the long struggle to liberate all other people of South Africa from Boer and British domination was to continue on a different front fought by a different kind of warrior. At the time of King Sekhukhune`s death, his blood relative Sefako Mapogo Makgato was a young theology student in England. As ANC President from 1917-1924, he worked for the victory that finally came in 1994." (Pace, 2003:p52)
The death of King Sekhukhune was mourned by his people, well known in Southern Africa and even commemorated in Britain. The London Times of 30 August 1882, in a lengthy editorial, remembered King Sekhukhune as follows: "We hear this morning from Durban of the death of one of the bravest of our former enemies, the chief Sekhukhune. The news carries us back some years, to the time when the name Sekhukhune was the name of dread, first to the Dutch and then to the English colonialists of the Transvaal and Natal. It was, indeed to a great extent the danger caused by the neighborhood of this formidable chief that led to the annexation of the Transvaal by England. When war was declared against the Zulu King, operations went on simultaneously against Sekhukhune and early in 1879 his stronghold was attacked. Obstacles stood in the way of these operations, and when, after Ulundi, Sir Garnet Wolseley entered the Transvaal, he endeavoured to humiliate the Chief." (Sechaba, 1982).
After the death of King Sekhukhune, "the Pretoria government divided Sekhukhuneland into small tribal units that owed allegiance not to one central Marota Authority but to Native Commissioners. This effectively destroyed one of the greatest empires of the century". (Sechaba, 1982)
An enduring legacy
King Sekhukhune and his contemporaries left an enduring legacy in a surviving Pedi nation, a powerful spirit of resistance, foundations of the freedom struggle and the pride of Africans in general. When King Sekhukhune died, little did he know that true to his undying legacy his descendants were to exchange tough political and later military blows with the heirs of Hitler for a very long time to come. Thence one of King Sekhukhune`s worthy heirs, President Thabo Mbeki, can proudly declare in 1996 that, "I am an African, I am the grandchild of the warrior men and women that Hintsa and Sekhukhune led, the patriots that Cetswayo and Mphephu took to battle, the soldiers that Moshoeshoe and Ngungunyane taught never to dishonour the cause of freedom".
It was because warrior-kings like Sekhukhune had been defeated in the wars of resistance, spear in hand, that the African National Congress was formed on 8 January 1912. King Sekhukhune`s successor, King Sekhukhune II, was there in Bloemfontein representing the Bapedi, along with Kings Solomon ka Dinizulu of the Zulu, Montshioa of Barolong, Lewanika of the Lozi, Letsie II of the Sotho, Dalindyebo of the Thembu, Khama of the Tswana, and Ndlovukazi Lobatsibeni of the Swazi (ANC, 1982).
The ANC is therefore an organisational expression of the continuing legacy of King Sekhukhune I and his contemporaries. It was in recognition of their contribution to the struggle against Boer and British land-robbers and settler-colonialists, that the kings of our people were invited to the founding conference of the ANC and formed the House of Chiefs in the ANC.
The ANC even established an award called Isithwalandwe Seaparankoe, given to freedom fighters who commit selfless and outstanding heroic tasks for the struggle. This is an age-old award coming from the earlier period where African warriors who had distinguished themselves in battle were given feathers of a very rare bird as war decorations to demonstrate their heroism. These ornaments were proudly worn in tribal functions.
Descendents of King Sekhukhune were to play an instrumental role in the life of that ANC and the freedom struggle. One of the most outstanding organisational expressions of the descendants of King Sekhukhune was the Sebatakgomo of 1956 and the Sekhukhuneland Youth Organisation (SEYO) of 1985. Both were organisational structures of the ANC. Sebatakgomo was responsible for the uprising in the area in resistance to the introduction of the bantustans. As leaders of the resistance were arrested, banned and banished to faraway lands, including King-Regent Morwamotshe and Chieftainess Mankopodi Thulare, a fund was established called Fetakgomo.
The name of the fund originated from the expression `Fetakgomo o sware motho, mofetakgomo ke moriri oa hloga`. This organisation proved to be a vital forerunner to Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in the sense that they took up arms against the regime before the ANC did. That is why its leaders emerged in the ANC underground machinery in the 1960s. These included Godfrey Mogaramedi Sekhukhune, John Phala, John Kgwana Nkadimeng, Flag Boshielo, Elias Motsoaledi, Oriah Ratsoma, Fenyane Moretsele, Phirime Mashego and others.
When MK was formed many Sebatakgomo members were the backbone of this new organisational formation.
Although the existence of a region and a District Municipality bearing his name is a long-lasting and deserved tribute to him, "the geographical area usually described as Sekhukhuneland does not correspond to the area inhabited by the Bapedi and known by them as Bopedi."(Monnig, 1967:ix) The erection of Sekhukhune`s statue at his headquarters at Tjate by the Limpopo Provincial Government is a fitting tribute to his undying memory.
When King Sekhukhune died, his heir, King Sekhukhune II, was still very young and therefore regents were appointed one after another as caretakers for the throne until he came of age. Sekhukhune II was installed as king in 1899 and tirelessly continued where his predecessor had ended. He ruled for 45 years, attended the founding conference of the ANC, belonged to the ANC house of chiefs, fought rebellious tribes and rebuilt Pedi hegemony.
History repeated itself when King Sekhukhune II died in 1943, because his son and heir Thulare II had predeceased him in 1941, leaving no son and heir. Phatudi acted, then King-Regent Morwamotshe III acted until 1965 when he passed away. At that time the heir, Prince Ryne Thulare Sekhukhune III, was still too young. Then the candle-wife chieftainess Mankopodi Thulare acted until, in 1976, Bakgomana appointed Kenneth Kgagudi Sekhukhune to act. When Sekhukhune III wanted to assume authority in 1982 there were problems. The Bapedi must pay tribute to the undying memory of King Sekhukhune I, the life of King Sekhukhune II and the tribulations of King Sekhukhune III by having a worthy successor soon. Genealogical sequence dictates that, the incumbent, King-Regent Ramphelane Thulare holds the fort for King Thulare III, who in turn will give birth to King Morwamotshe IV, then to be succeeded by King Sekhukhune IV.
The scuffles over the kingdom delay development and the progress of both the Bapedi and Bopedi. For instance, some of this country`s largest and most lucrative platinum deposits lie below the Pedi soil, and is being mined by various companies. But the area is still underdeveloped, as it was during apartheid and under the Lebowa Bantustan. It was because of the levels of poverty, unemployment and desertification that President Mbeki declared the area a nodal point in 2001.
Lack of clarity over the kingdom is part of the problem. King Sekhukhune fought bitterly for this land; his descendants must unite and benefit from the fruits of his heroic labour. They suffered for a very long time, from attacks by the Boer voortrekkers, invasion by the British settler-colonialists, oppression under apartheid, repression during the bantustan era and now divisions over Bogoshi. The situation must be corrected.
In paying tribute to King Sekhukhune, the ANC cancelled its traditional January 8th celebrations in Limpopo as part of mourning. This is because, while Kings Thobela, Kabu, Thobejane, Morwamotshe, Moukangwe and Mohube were pathfinders and founders of the Bapedi nation, Mampuru was a builder-fighter, Thulare was a nation-builder and a unifier, Sekwati was a military strategist and a diplomat, King Sekhukhune is the bravest warrior-king and the greatest freedom fighter. We pay tribute to his everlasting contribution to the freedom struggle and undying memory, and we say, "Dilo kamoka dika timela, eupja bogoshi gabo timele gobane, botseba ka gabo bjona!"
* Kgolane Rudolph Phala is a member of the Provincial Executive Committees of the ANC and SACP in Limpopo.
ANC: January 8 Statement of the NEC, Lusaka, 1982.
ANC: Manifesto of Umkhonto we Sizwe, 16 December 1961.
ANC: Strategy and Tactics as amended and adopted at the 51 National Conference, Stellenbosch, 2002.
ANC: Draft Strategy and Tactics document for National Conference, January 2007.
ANC: Weekly News Briefing, Mayibuye, Issue 6, 1982. Beinart W, Delius P and Trapido S: Putting a plough into the ground -Accumulation and dispossession in rural South Africa 1850-1930,
Ravan Press, 1986.
Boothma CV: The political structure of the Pedi of Sekhukhuneland, African Studies Vol 35, UNISA, 1976.
Britannica online: History of South Africa, The decline of the African States.
Bulpin TV: Lost trails in the Transvaal, Megaprint, Cape Town, 1965.
Delius P: The land belongs to us - The Pedi polity, the Boers and the British in the nineteenth century Transvaal, Ravan Press, Johannesburg, 1983.
Hunt DR: An account of the Bapedi, UNISA, Bantu studies Vol 5, 1931.
Kingsey HW: The Sekhukhune wars, Part I Military History Journal Vol 2 No 5, 1973.
Kingsey HW: The Sekhukhune wars, Part II Military History Journal Vol 2 No 6, 1973.
Lerumo A: Fifty fighting years, Inkululeko Publications, London, 1971.
Magubane P: Vanishing cultures of South Africa - Changing customs in a changing world, Strike Publishers, 1998.
Marx K and Engels F: The Communist Manifesto of 1848.
Monnig HO: The Pedi, Van schaik, Pretoria, 1967.
Motjoadi RF: The implications of the Black Authorities Act in the Bogosi controversy in Sekhukhuneland with special reference to Mohlaletsi
1951-1994, UNIN Dissertation, 1995.
Mbeki G: The peasant revolt, IDAF, 1984.
Mbeki TM: Speech on the adoption of the new Constitution, Cape Town, 8 May 1996.
Mbeki TM: State of the Nation Address 2001.
Pace magazine: Legends: Sekhukhune, May 2003.
Muller CJF: 500 years: A history of South Africa, Academia, Pretoria.
Phala DM: Kgomo `a thswa - Maina a dikgosi le a bakgoma, Pers Bpk, 1935.
Sechaba: October 1982.
Smith KW: The fall of the Bapedi of the North-eastern Transvaal, Journal of African History, 1969.
Times newspaper, Editorial comment, 30 August 1882, London.
Van Aswegen HF: History of South Africa to 1854, Van Schaik, 1990.
Van Waarmelo NJ: A genealogy of the House of Sekhukhune, Department of
Native Affairs, UNISA, 1944.
Wilson: Behind the scenes in the Transvaal, London, 1901.
Adelaide Tambo represented in her very being and lived her life in a manner that served as an indestructible monument to the values and practice of ubuntu.
Thousands gathered in Wattville, Ekurhuleni, on 10 February to pay their last respects to Adelaide Frances Matlala Tambo, a great patriot, freedom fighter and outstanding human being.
Speaking at her funeral service, former President Nelson Mandela said Adelaide Tambo was an exceptional person:
"She was the life long partner, supporter, confidante and comrade of Oliver Tambo. Her caring support of OR, the warmth of her affection for him and her undying loyalty played no small role in the building of the ANC, particularly in that trying period of exile.
"She was an activist and a freedom fighter in her own right. And she was a mother to the liberation movement in exile, and a nationally revered figure in our new nation. Hers was a life dedicated to freedom and service.
"It is not usual in politics, and particularly in political conditions of deep conflict, for somebody to be revered and loved by all. Adelaide Tambo was such a person. She was held in affection by people from across the political spectrum in South Africa.
"She exemplified and embodied all that was good and noble in our liberation struggle and in our dreams for our nation. She was a builder, not a destroyer. She brought together rather than divided. Her love for her country was all inclusive. She remained true to her calling as a nurse throughout her life as she pursued healing in personal, organisational and national relationships."
Since she passed away on the evening of 31 January, many have paid tribute to Adelaide Tambo. Many have spoken about how they remember her and about the many ways in which she touched their lives. Some have described her as a symbol of hope and strength to many within our movement and among our people. They have spoken of a caring and compassionate human being with a profound sense of concern for all those oppressed and exploited.
These tributes have been honest and heartfelt, painting a moving portrait of someone who made such a great impact on so many people.
Adelaide Matlala Frances Tambo (nèe Tshukudu) was born on 18 July 1929 in Top Location in Vereeniging. Her political life started at the age of 10 after a police raid following a riot in Top Location, in which a police officer had been killed. Tambo`s ailing grandfather, aged 82, was among those arrested and marched to the town square. Here the old man collapsed.
"I sat with him until he regained consciousness," Tambo recalled in an interview. "The way those young policemen pushed him around and called him `boy` decided me. I swore I would fight them till the end."
This incident happened in 1939. At the time she was a primary school pupil at St Thomas Practising School in Johannesburg. Five years later, she started working for the ANC as a courier, while studying at Orlando High. She had joined the school`s debating society "at the time Dr Malan was preaching the gospel of apartheid, which became a heated matter for most of the students. Most of the debates centred round this theme and the future that spelled doom for generations to come".
At the age of 18, Tambo joined the ANC Youth League and was elected chairperson of the George Goch branch. Her early work involved opening branches of the Youth League in the then Transvaal. Later, as a student nurse at Pretoria General Hospital, she started a branch of the Youth League with the help of people like Sheila Musi, Mildred Kuzwayo and Nonhle Zokwe.
She met Oliver Reginald Tambo at a meeting of the Eastern township branch of the ANC and married him in December 1956, during the marathon Treason Trial.
The qualities she demonstrated during her early years of political activity were to remain an integral part of her character throughout her involvement in the liberation struggle.
In over six decades in the movement, her determination to see a free South Africa never wavered. Nor did she ever doubt her conviction that the people of this country would be able to defeat the evils of racism and sexism. She remained steadfast in her beliefs, and resolute in her actions. She was, in all instances, prepared to serve the cause of freedom, in whatever capacity was required, and regardless of the sacrifices demanded of her.
Together with her husband and life-long comrade, the late ANC President Oliver Tambo, Adelaide Tambo was called upon to bear the burden of dislocation and exile and the disruption of family life. She bore such hardships with fortitude, knowing that her family`s circumstances were not unlike the experiences of thousands of our people whose family members were in exile, in prison or in the underground. Like so many of our people, she understood the devastating effects of migrant labour and the bantustans.
During the years of illegality, her home in London became a welcome refuge for many of our people weary from the trials and tribulations of life in exile. She understood that the struggle for democracy in South Africa was part of a broader struggle for global peace and development, and could not be separated from the liberation of all the peoples of Africa from the ravages of colonialism and imperialism. This explains her internationalist perspective, and her participation in African and international progressive movements.
She was an outspoken and consistent activist for the liberation of women. She fought to assert the central role of women within the organs of the liberation movement and in the struggle more broadly. She envisaged a society free from the shackles of gender discrimination and the oppression of women.
Just as she had become a symbol of hope and courage in exile, so her return to South Africa at the side of Oliver Tambo was as much a cause for personal celebration as a signal to the South African people that the hour of liberation was at hand.
After 30 years the return home to South Africa was a moment of triumph and jubilation. Yet it demanded that the struggle be sustained and masses mobilised towards the achievement of the democratic breakthrough. This was an undertaking to which both Adelaide and Oliver Tambo, even then, dedicated their energies.
Adelaide Tambo made no distinction between the political and personal realm. Her political convictions found resonance in her personal life and in how she related to people. They found resonance in her everyday interactions, in her tireless efforts to comfort others and alleviate pain and suffering wherever she encountered it. At the same time, her everyday encounters also impacted on her political convictions, lending an abiding sense of compassion and humanity to all her political activity.
Delivering the oration at her funeral, President Thabo Mbeki said: "Adelaide Tambo represented in her very being and lived her life in a manner that served as an indestructible monument to the values and practice of ubuntu. I am saying also that she left us with the charge that the African National Congress must spare no effort in helping to build a new South Africa based on these humane values and practices.
"I am saying also that those among us who have the courage and honesty to respect what MaTambo represented, have an obligation, that will demand new sacrifices of them, to strive without relenting, to build a new South Africa within whose very fibre will be integrated the value system of ubuntu, as encapsulated in Adelaide Tambo`s life, and which cannot be separated from our goal to create a humane and people-centred society."
Adelaide Tambo passed away on 31 January 2007.
By achieving a truly democratic dispensation in the Middle East, the enmity between the Palestinians and Israelis can be ended and both can together clasp the olive branch of peace and security, writes Ronnie Kasrils.
Israel partly withdrew from Lebanon in 1985 but remained in what it termed a "security zone" in the south. Under concerted attack by Hezbollah guerrillas the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), frustrated and humiliated and with many reservists refusing to serve outside Israel, finally withdrew in May 2000. In the foregoing period Israel had helped provoke a bitter civil war in Lebanon; created a proxy "Christian" army in the south under its puppet Major Haddad who declared a short-lived Maronite state there; and still holds onto the forty square kilometres of Shaaba farmlands in the border area. No wonder a retreating Israeli soldier grumbled after pulling-out in August 2006, that Lebanon was a never-ending story.
In fact it proved to be a quagmire, not only for the Israelis, but other foreign troops. It became the battleground that produced the first "suicide" or martyr bombers. On 23 October 1983, a Hezbollah militant drove a truckload of explosives into the US marine base at Beirut airport killing 241 servicemen. In a similar incident over 70 French military personnel were blown-up. Soon thereafter both foreign forces withdrew from the country.
Israel`s Water Wars
Israel has long coveted the waters of Lebanon`s Litany River. It has unilaterally diverted much of the Jordan River waters with catastrophic results; diverts the run-off from the Golan Heights; and seizes 80% of the West Bank aquifer water for its own use. In gross discrimination reminiscent of South Africa`s apartheid-era practice the Jewish inhabitants of the illegal settlements receive an abundance of water to fill their swimming pools and cultivate their gardens, while West Bank residents line up at inadequate communal taps. The Gaza aquifer has been so overused through the growth of refugees and over-exploitation by nearby Jewish settlements that it has become saline. Israel`s overuse of the Jordan River has resulted in the Dead Sea dropping to alarming levels.
Israel`s appropriation of these waters is valued at US$2 billion annually. Giving up this stolen water is considered by the Ministry of Agriculture a "mortal danger" to Israel`s existence.1 Its overexploitation of these water resources has greatly damaged the environment while Israeli greed is undiminished. To control the water of the Litany it has constantly plotted to annex southern Lebanon or at least impose a puppet regime there.
General Moshe Dayan stated in 1948: "The Israeli army will enter Lebanon, occupy the necessary territory, and will create a Christian regime which will ally itself with Israel. The territory from the Litany southward will be totally annexed to Israel, and everything will be alright."2
From the horse`s mouth we have a blueprint for what Israel has consistently been attempting with regard to Lebanon, but need to examine whether such motivation still holds good.
What prompted Israel`s July 2006 wanton aggression on Lebanon? Was it to annex territory, which has been Israel`s objective since 1948? Was it to control the Litany River waters for its own needs? Was it to strengthen the position of the moderate, West-leaning government in Beirut against Hezbollah and Syria? Could such a disproportionate response really have been over the seizure of two soldiers by Hezbollah and the single soldier captured by Hamas in Gaza in June-July 2006?
There have long been constant skirmishes along both borders. Israel could have easily responded with local action or the prisoner exchange Hezbollah and Hamas sought. There was plenty of precedent for such prisoner exchanges and Hezbollah was seeking the exchange of three Lebanese prisoners Israel had failed to hand-over in a previous swap. Israel could have resorted to diplomacy, but as so often in the past preferred the military option. The dogs of war were let loose instead.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, unlike most of his predecessors, is no former army general. As a new bull elephant he had to prove his mettle, see off attacks from his right flank and teach the Arabs a lesson. But there was more to Israel`s backlash than that.
Noted Israeli peace activists had previously warned that the military were waiting to use any provocation to unleash "a possible combination of intensified state terror and mass killing" on Gaza, to protect Sharon`s "unilateral disengagement" strategy at all costs.3 They had anticipated this following an Israeli general`s revelations to the media in June 2005.4 Such a warning had implications not only for Israel`s aggressive intentions concerning the Palestinians but also within the wider Middle East context.
In order to wreck any prospect of negotiations - whether with the newly elected Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh or Arafat`s successor President Mahmoud Abbas - Sharon`s new policy of "unilateral disengagement" amounted to the imposition by Israel of a solution that would recreate new permanent borders and totally ignore Palestinian aspirations and consequences in the region. This would once and for all end the territorial disputes concerning the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Palestinian population would be enclosed behind the "Separation Wall", divided by the illegal Jewish settlements and strategic roads reserved only for Jews - a particular racial extreme never dreamt of by apartheid.
It would be reduced to at least four isolated segments totalling only 12% of the original British Mandate territory. To achieve this meant a small sacrifice - the unilateral withdrawal of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip containing 7,000 settlers. This had been completed with much drama and hype earlier in the year, as a first step towards a future withdrawal from a few symbolic West Bank settlements. These, like those in Gaza, were anyway additional to the overall plan owing to security costs and isolation. The main settlement blocks (containing 190,000 Jewish settlers) dissecting the West Bank and encircling Jerusalem on the north and east side (housing another 200,000 Jews) would remain intact. A corridor of prime land along the west bank of the Jordan River, acting as a strategic buffer with Jordan and the outside world, would remain in Israel`s possession and control. As with Gaza, the West Bank has become a hermetically sealed open-air prison. Of concern to the Palestinians were statements by President George Bush that Israel`s final borders could be re-adjusted from the 1967 ceasefire line (the so-called Green Line). This effectively amounted to America endorsing Sharon`s latest land grab.
To fully understand the 2006 Lebanon invasion, however, requires a consideration of the international dimensions. Israel has positioned itself within the new strategy of counter-terrorism propounded by the Washington neo-conservatives, following the horrific terrorist onslaught against New York`s Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001.
Many commentators suggest that for the United States, the broader goal in the Middle East, considering the growing crisis in Iraq and Afghanistan, is to strangle the so-called "axis of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran", which the Bush administration believes is pooling resources to change the strategic playing field in the region - although none was connected to the 9/11 atrocity. A senior Israeli official explained that the Hezbollah abduction of the two Israeli soldiers of 12 July 2006 on the Lebanese border had provided "a unique moment with a convergence of interest."5 For Israel this new paradigm is seen as most welcome for it shifts of focus away from the Palestine-Israeli conflict as the root cause of the problem.
It is argued that such "convergence" gave Israeli hawks the incentive for launching the Lebanon onslaught. Some observers point out the grave risks of tying the destiny of Israel`s people to such an agenda. Such factors were clearly central to Israel`s assault on the Gaza Strip and Lebanon in 2006. The brutal siege of Gaza has been maintained since June 2006. Ilan Pappe, Israeli historian and peace activist, pointed out that ten civilians a day were being killed - mostly children - and that unless Israel was restrained this would amount to a few thousand every year. He says this is a growing genocide and points out: "When Israel was absolved from any responsibility or accountability for the ethnic cleansing in 1948, it turned this policy into a legitimate tool for its national security agenda. If the present escalation and adaptation of genocidal policies would be tolerated by the world, it would expand and be used even more drastically."6
Pappe uses the genocide term advisedly. Five hundred Gazan residents -many women and children - were killed by Israeli operations in this period. If this figure was extrapolated for South Africa`s population of 45 million compared to Gaza`s 1.3 million the equivalent deaths in our country would be over 20,000 people in six months.
Israel`s humiliation at the hands of an estimated 1,200 Hezbollah guerrilla fighters in the south of Lebanon, defending their homeland against the might of the IDF, is perceived by observers as a major turning point not only in the Middle East but throughout the Islamic world. These commentators are pointing out that Hezbollah, under the leadership of the cleric Hassan Nasrallah, are not the mindless, fanatical terrorists they are demonised to be. Nasrallah appears to be articulating the voice of a genuine national struggle, urging the unity of all the people in defence of Lebanon. Hezbollah and other forces of the Lebanon national resistance, including the communist party that lost several guerrilla fighters, have succeeded to some extent in uniting Sunni, Shiite and Christian Lebanese behind the demands for a new national unity government in Lebanon -sectarian religious division constituting the endemic weakness of the state from its inception. The same observers are emphasising that this example is not being lost on Islamic youth everywhere, who have seen in Israel`s defeat an alternative to the often blind fury of jehadi terrorism. In fact the example could well prove an antidote to the senseless terrorism plaguing the world, and a reminder of the organisational methods and mobilisation of the forces of a just national liberation struggle that aims to unite all patriotic forces. Whatever criticism may be made of Hezbollah - such as its missile onslaught on Israeli civilian locations (although mainly in response to Israel`s aggression) they have demonstrated how to organise impressive social welfare programmes to alleviate the suffering of their people and are engaged in a remarkable post-war reconstruction programme.
Islamist specialist Mahan Abedin has written: "One of the more interesting results of the Israel-Hezbollah War has been the sidelining of the global jehadi movement and the broader Salafi currents that sustain it. Despite all its rhetoric of a global jihad against the enemies of Islam, al-Qaeda and the broader Salafi-jihad movement were reduced to mass spectators as Hezbollah, once again, dealt a serious blow to Israeli prestige."7 It is necessary to appreciate such analysis to understand the complex currents within Islam, and the contribution of Israeli aggression in inciting anti-Jewish and anti-Western emotions worldwide.
While Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the 1980s was meeting stiff opposition from Hezbollah, Palestinian resistance in the West Bank and Gaza too was on the rise. This crystallised in a remarkable civil uprising termed the Intifada, the likes of which had not previously been seen. It involved mass demonstrations, boycotts, protest marches and creative mobilisation involving all sectors of society. It was directed by the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising - a coalition of parties -with the aim of ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state. The IDF reacted with its customary brutality and use of terror that included the mass rounding-up of activists, detentions, curfews, closures and sieges of towns, house demolitions, destruction of olive trees and collective punishment, which is a violation of international law.
Particularly shocking was the IDF manner of seeking to deal with the ubiquitous stone-throwing youth by breaking the arms of those they caught.
Over 1,500 Palestinians died, tens of thousands were injured and 12,000 jailed during a period of sustained resistance that created the pressure leading to negotiations and the Oslo Accords Agreement in 1993.
Following various stages of secret talks between the parties, beginning in Madrid and moving to Oslo, a historic agreement was struck to end the conflict. This breakthrough was forced by the Palestinian resistance struggle, with US President Bill Clinton inducing Israel to accept a negotiated path to peace as devised at Oslo. PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed a Declaration of Principles on Interim Palestinian Self-Government at the White House on 13 September 1993. A historic compromise had been reached in what Arafat called "the peace of the brave", and Rabin termed the "land for peace" deal. The PLO recognised the right of the State of Israel to exist, while Israel recognised the PLO as sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people - but not at that point the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own. Expectations were high that Israeli forces would withdraw from Palestinian territory, allowing the establishment of an independent state within five years, leading to a Final Status Agreement.
This would include resolving sticking points such as the status of East Jerusalem, the future of the Jewish settlements, the rights of the Palestinian refugees, borders and nature of the Palestinian entity. The 1993 agreement, Oslo I, allowed for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza and Jericho.
The Palestinian Authority, however, was expected to clamp-down on acts of violence and terror, where Israel with its far greater resources had palpably failed. Arafat was able to make a victorious return to Palestine in 1995, after the adoption of Oslo II that put into effect the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank. Oslo II enabled Arafat to establish the Palestinian Authority (PA) headquarters at Ramallah on the West Bank.
Ominously Israel`s illegal settlement construction - its "facts on the ground" - continued unabated, and doubled over the next decade. A new Palestinian organisation, Hamas,8 emerged during the Intifada, and became the second largest organisation to Arafat`s Fatah.9 Both Hamas and the previously established Islamic Jihad were militant rejectionist movements justifying indiscriminate terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. Arafat`s Palestinian Authority would find controlling them very difficult, especially given Israel`s propensity for deliberate provocation when the situation suited its needs.
The first Palestine "suicide" or martyr bombing killed eight people in April 1994 in the centre of Afula. Hamas said it carried out this attack in response to the killing of 29 Muslims praying in a Hebron mosque in February of that year by West Bank settler Baruch Goldstein.
Events had been moving to undermine the Oslo Accords. Rabin had been assassinated in 1995 by a right-wing Jewish terrorist in an atmosphere of hate engineered by, among others, the Likud Party. The commitment of Rabin`s Labour Party to Oslo was highly questionable anyway, owing to the continued construction of Jewish settlements that Israel had undertaken to stop. This process was greatly speeded-up by Israel`s new Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, who had come to power in July 1999. Barak had opposed the 1993 Oslo Declaration of Principles and had voted against its sequel, the 1995 Oslo II Accords.
As Clinton`s last term of office as US President came to an end, he attempted to finalise the peace deal at his Camp David retreat in July 2000. This was the occasion when Arafat was accused of turning-down a "generous offer" from Barak that offered the Palestinians roughly 19% of the West Bank. The land to be deducted from the 22% decided on at Oslo was particularly strategic and would have affected the territorial contiguity of the Palestinian state. In addition, Barak`s offer left Israel in control of the West Bank borders, the corridor along the Jordan River with the Jordanian kingdom, and control over all borders and air space. Arafat was given an ultimatum to agree or not on the spot, with Barak behaving extremely arrogantly. Arafat insisted on his right to report back to the PLO and his people for further consultation. This right was not accorded him and the deal floundered. Barak was vicious in his denunciation of Arafat and the Western media tamely followed suit, largely swallowing the Israeli version of events.
It is often overlooked that there were further talks at Taba in Egypt at the beginning of 2001, between delegations rather than individual leaders, which narrowed the Camp David differences. But time had run out for Labour and the embittered Barak lost the February 2001 elections to Likud with Ariel Sharon emerging as Prime Minister.
On 28 September 2000, before he became Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon had made a patently provocative visit to one of Islam`s holiest sites, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem. Then Prime Minister Barak obligingly provided 2,000 Israeli police to escort Sharon. The predictable clashes left five Palestinians dead and over 200 injured. The incident sparked the Second Intifada, a widespread uprising that, unlike the First Intifada, relied more on armed actions and, particularly from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the use of "suicide" or martyr bombings mainly on Israeli civilians. Between 1994 and September 2000, 120 Israelis were killed in these attacks. From 2001 to 2005 another 348 Israelis were to die in this way, although some were soldiers travelling on civilian buses. These desperate attacks have been seen as a lethal way of making Israeli occupation as costly as possible; an act of revenge born of suffering equivalent to the blinded Sampson bringing the pillars of the Philistine temple crashing down on himself and his tormentors. It is interesting to note that the Hebrew martyr Sampson is never thought of as having committed suicide.
The general absence of the mass popular action of the First Intifada proved a weakness. Referring to a "suicide bombing" on 3 November 2000 on a Jerusalem market, Israeli scholar Tanya Reinhart observed: "military circles were ready with detailed operative plans to topple Arafat... before the Palestinian terror attacks started." The violent and punitive retaliation from Israel involving the widespread re-occupation of the West Bank, blockading of towns, 24-hour curfews and onerous travel restrictions, proved to be unprecedented in its sustained brutality. This lasted up until Arafat`s mysterious illness and evacuation to Paris, where he died in November 2005. Only sporadic resistance took place during 2004.
There was a short respite of IDF activity, apart from the permanency of check-points, which allowed for Presidential elections won by Abbas. The later legislative elections of January 2006 were won by Hamas with Ismail Haniyeh becoming Prime Minister.
Soon after coming to power Sharon had introduced a policy of assassinating selected Palestinian leaders and activists. Between 28 September 2001 and 16 January 2002, 83 "targeted killings" took place. This was later to include Sheikh Yassin, the almost blind, wheelchair-bound Hamas spiritual leader, as he emerged from a Gaza mosque in March 2004 to be struck-down from a missile fired from an Israeli helicopter. This was the vengeful and short-sighted policy of an Israeli government that had totally lost its way, and to use a biblical analogy, shown to be "eyeless in Gaza".10 In response to the mounting armed resistance of the Second Intifada, and a series of terrifying "suicide" bombings, Israel had launched a massive operation throughout the occupied West Bank in March 2002. Over 20,000 troops, tanks and helicopter gunships were deployed. Most of Arafat`s headquarters in Ramallah was reduced to rubble as were all the PA administration and security buildings in every West Bank town except Jericho. Towns and villages everywhere suffered, including Jenin where 1,000 Israeli soldiers met fierce resistance from some 200 armed fighters.
The IDF, bent on teaching those who resist the severest of lessons, as the Nazis had done when the Warsaw ghetto rose in 1943, levelled the Palestinian stronghold in Jenin.
Noted writer Robert Fisk has provided the following written confirmation of Israeli Nazi-style intentions: "It was no surprise to learn that an Israeli officer had been advising his men, prior to the reoccupation of the West Bank, to study the military tactics adopted by the Nazis in the Second World War. According to the Israeli newspaper Ma`arev, the officer said that `if our job is to seize a densely packed refugee camp or take over the Nablus Casbah... we must bring together the lessons of past battles, even - shocking though this might appear - to analyse how the German army operated in the Warsaw ghetto`."11
No one was safe or unaffected. Accounts of pregnant women having to give birth at check-points, and the seriously ill dying because they could not get to hospitals were recorded. Entire areas, towns and villages were cut off from each other and economic and social hardship affected everybody.
The conditions were insufferable. Exiled Palestinian scholar Edward Said wrote: "Every house demolition, every expropriated dunum [measurement of land], every arrest and torture, every barricade, every closure, every gesture of arrogance and intended humiliation simply revives the past and re-enacts Israel`s offences against the Palestinian spirit, land, body politic."12 That was written in a relatively less ferocious period back in 1998.
Writing on the occupation, Hussein Ibish has explained: "[It] means a reality of unending violence by an abusive foreign army that enforces a social system indistinguishable from apartheid; confiscation of land that is then given to hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers in Jewish only communities linked by Jewish only roads; home demolitions; torture; cities cut off from each other, closed down on a regular basis. It means living in a massive prison..."13
South Africa`s John Dugard, Special Rapporteur for the UN on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), reported on 5 July 2006:
"I visited the OPT in mid-June shortly before the present crisis erupted... the human rights situation was appalling. In the West Bank the construction of the Wall has deprived Palestinians of their land and livelihood... separated families and created a new class of internally displaced persons... checkpoints have increased to over 500: they destroy the economy and humiliate the Palestinian people... Gaza was tightly controlled, in effect imprisoned before the capture of Corporal Shalit [captured on 25 June by Hamas]. Artillery fire, sonic booms and targeted assassinations, frequently resulting in the death of innocent civilians, provided evidence of Israel`s control of Gazan airspace... external borders were frequently closed, with disastrous consequences for the supply of food and medicines... In Gaza people are without water, food is scarce, medicines are running out... 200,000 households are without electricity due to the destruction of power plants... Israel`s conduct is morally indefensible [and]... is in violation of the most fundamental norms of humanitarian law and human rights law."14
With the illegal settlements, security road network, military occupation, and construction of the monstrous Apartheid Wall, what remains of the Palestinian population is ghettoised within a mere 12% of what was once the British Mandate territory. This edifice, part concrete wall and part steel wire barrier, will be 650kms long on completion and at nine metres in height is three times higher than the Berlin Wall. It cuts farmers off from their fields, isolates towns, annexes land and has uprooted hundreds of thousands of precious olive and fruit trees. The dispossession is reminiscent of apartheid and its 13% bantustans, none of which were enclosed by even a simple fence. There is no doubt that the dispossession of the Palestinians, and the brutal collective treatment meted out to them is the fundamental cause of the conflict.
Two states, or one?
The difficult steps towards creating a Palestinian State, side by side with Israel, were woefully undermined by Sharon`s ascension to the position of Prime Minister in 2001. His objective of consigning the Oslo Accords to the dustbin of history had already been achieved even before Israel`s ferocious onslaught on Gaza and Lebanon in 2006. He assiduously inculcated the perception, already created by Barak, that Israel lacked a negotiating partner and therefore had no option but to resort to unilateral remedies. The Palestinians under Arafat had shown generosity in accepting the 1967 borders or 22% territory as the geographic entity of their state. If they had balked over Barak`s 19% offer, brokered by Clinton at Camp David in 2000, it would be well nigh impossible for a credible Palestinian leader to accept the 12% fragmented West Bank and Gaza being imposed at present.
As a consequence many observers have been writing the obituaries of the two state option or agree that it is hopelessly stalled. What is increasingly being discussed is the idea of a single-state or bi-national state option, in vogue in left circles back in the 1940s. The difference between the single-state option and the bi-national option is that a bi-national state enshrines rights and protection for the Jewish and Palestinian people as two distinct national groups. The one-state option provides all groups with equal rights in a common democracy, as in present-day South Africa.
There is a growing fear in Israel`s ruling circles that a one-state alternative might come to pass if nothing is done. Given the demographics this would see Jews in a minority within ten years. There are approximately 4.7 million Palestinians and over 5 million Jews living in the Holy Land. This has set the alarm bells ringing in Israel.
Ehud Olmert fearing the demographic time-bomb put it succinctly: "More and more Palestinians are uninterested in a negotiated two-state solution because they want to change the essence of the conflict from an Algerian paradigm to a South African one. From a struggle against `occupation` in their parlance, to a struggle for `one man one vote`. That is of course a much cleaner struggle, a much more popular struggle and ultimately, a much more powerful one. For us, it would mean the end of the Jewish state." (By which he means an exclusivist Zionist state!)
Such a scenario would surely see the growth of a civil rights struggle encompassing all those living in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. Such a struggle for equal rights in a democratic unitary or bi-national state would conceivably see the sea-change so desperately needed for Jews as well as Palestinians.
Advocates of the single or bi-national state need to focus on how such a state would be structured, how it would govern, how it would meet its citizens` needs, guarantee their rights and allay their fears. They also need to examine the ideas of the previous advocates of the bi-national state - the communist parties of Israel and Palestine on the one hand, and the humanist school of Martin Buber, Erich Fromm, Israel Shahak and Albert Einstein on the other.
Is the one-state thesis a mere academic exercise? History shows that ideas that break the mould start small - with a few advocates. If conditions allow and if the situation ripens, theory can seize the minds of many and inspire action. In South Africa, this came about through the protracted mass struggle of our people reinforced by the force of arms and a powerful international solidarity movement. Clearly, for the one-state thesis to succeed a monumental mind-shift affecting Israelis and Palestinians would be required.
Would the two-state option have a better chance? For all the obstacles, disappointments and setbacks it appears to be the more implementable. It would also break the impasse. If it is not based on the 1967 Green Line, however, and the 22% West Bank as contiguous territory, with genuine independence and sovereignty, it stands no chance. If it is based on such sovereignty, it becomes a viable option for the Palestinians and the international community of nations, including the Arab States, to buy-in to. This has been suggested in the Palestinian Prisoners` Manifesto of June 2006, and the Beirut Declaration of Arab States in 2002, which agreed to the recognition of Israel if such terms were met. Even rejectionists such as Hamas, who refuse to recognise Israel have shown flexibility.
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has explained their acceptance of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 border and return of the refugees, adding "the condition will be a truce".15 It is argued by observers that such a `Hudna` (truce), is a de facto acceptance of the two-state option by Hamas. It certainly is a formal recognition of Israel`s existence and readiness to make peace within borders and conditions agreed upon in negotiations.
Given the unlikelihood of leaping into a unitary state, the two-state solution appears to be the only option. It could form the basis, through mutual economic progress, to evolve by steps into a common state, even if that takes one hundred years. Whatever the case the choice must be worked out by the Israeli and Palestinian people themselves.
The end of a "Jewish State" as mentioned by Olmert does not equate to an end of Jewish culture, religion or existence. Jewish communities flourish in democracies all over the world. Highly successful Jewish communities existed throughout North Africa and the Middle East, long before the fall of the second temple in AD 70 - from Alexandria to Babylon and elsewhere.
Some Israelis, and a small number of Jews internationally, are re-discovering this positive age of Arab-Jewish relations. Uri Avnery has written how "under Muslim rule the Jews of Spain enjoyed a bloom the like of which the Jews did not enjoy anywhere else until almost our time". He adds that after the Catholic`s re-conquered Spain those Jews who fled "were received with open arms in the Muslim countries" from Morocco to Iraq, from Bulgaria to Sudan. Nowhere were they persecuted "because Islam expressly prohibited any persecution of the peoples of the book".16 A former deputy-mayor of Jerusalem, Meron Benvenisti, has become inspired by this past and believes it holds an answer for the future. As researcher John Rose points out, a small number of former Zionist intellectuals associated with this trend, known as post-Zionism, "imagine with confidence a Jewish life in the area without a Zionist State."17
Benvenisti says the Zionist revolution is over. He suggests scrapping the law of return that allows Jews anywhere to become an Israeli citizen. He says he loves the land and it`s an Arabic land.18
Palestinian survival at stake
What are the alternatives to the present suffering and impasse? People`s resistance in a just cause is not easily crushed. While it may well encounter ferocious repression from a brutal opponent, much depends on the determination and resolve of those who resist. The Palestinians have shown a remarkable will and resilience to hang on and not give in. On the other hand given the virtual strangulation of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, the stifling of economic activity and the creeping genocide they are subject to, the odds are heavily stacked against them. The present Palestinian government will collapse if the salaries of the 140,000 government employees are not paid owing to the withholding of tax revenues by Israel and withdrawal of funding by the USA and the European Union because they were unhappy with the result of the Palestinian Authority elections of January 2006. This is a scandalous example of collectively punishing the Palestinian people by applying sanctions against the victims. It is estimated that 66% of families are living below the poverty line. As bad as past experiences have been the Palestinians have never faced a calamity on the present scale. More and more are driven into exile. The question is arising whether they can survive?
On the other hand, the Israeli ruling elite is clearly in a dilemma about what needs to be done. The Sharonites debate about simply managing the conflict through force and maintaining the status quo, while unilaterally adjusting the borders. Some are attracted by the old right-wing solution of forcibly "transferring" the Palestinians into Jordan - meaning forcible dispersal on a mass scale - and getting rid of the "Palestinian problem" through deportation. A third notion of creating a single Greater Israel incorporating the West Bank, the settlements and whatever Palestinians remained, would face the prospect of the civil rights struggle feared by Olmert.
Clearly the Israeli ruling class cannot rule in the old way. They show themselves incapable of resolving the problem, and therefore simply rely on military options that create one crisis after another, each one compounding the problem further. On the other hand the Palestinians have shown that they are not prepared to live under the old conditions. Even those much discriminated Palestinians residing within Israel itself - the so-called Arab Israelis - are flexing their muscles. They are an underestimated constituency whose role will grow. It is a necessary condition of change for all Palestinians - within the territories, within Israel and the diaspora - to present a united front and programme.
We cannot leave the Palestinians to face a fate that might see an end to their right to national determination and their very existence as a people. We are not living in a world where the native American-Indians and Australian aboriginals were allowed to be virtually wiped out by colonial conquest. Nobody wants to again see the genocide of Jewish people or any human beings. Neither does it follow that the end of the Israeli state in its present Zionist form would lead to the destruction of the Jews living there. There are other ways to find the necessary guarantees than through military might.
Thinking people need to understand that to oppose Zionism as an exclusivist racist doctrine, and Israel as a colonial settler state, does not equate with being anti-Semitic. On the contrary, looking to endow Israel with special rights because it is a Jewish state is an attitude that smacks of anti-Semitism because it sees Jews as being different from the rest of humanity.
The moral question remains as to how much longer the world will allow Israel to get away with land theft and child murder? With the Lebanon bombings indelibly imprinted on our minds is one not reminded of the reaction of Aharon Cizling, the Israeli cabinet minister, who stated in shock after the Deir Yassin massacre in May 1948, "Now Jews too have behaved like Nazis."19 Although morally disturbed Cizling agreed with the Israeli cabinet to conceal the facts of the atrocities from the public, thereby setting a fatal precedent that exists to this day in which lies, disinformation and deceit are the propaganda tools of the Zionist establishment whose first objective is to prevent world Jewry from knowing the dreadful truth.20 We saw that concealing the truth in apartheid South Africa corrupted morality and escalated atrocities. The German people have been blamed for remaining silent in the face of the Holocaust. They lived under fascist tyranny. What of us today who fail to protest from the safety of democratic countries against Israel`s treatment of the Palestinians and Lebanese?
When Israel`s military chief, Dan Halitz, ordered a one-ton bomb dropped on an apartment block in Gaza city to take out a Hamas leader, he said that his only feeling was the sensation of the bump of the plane as the device was released. No remorse for the dozen women and children blown to smithereens with the target. He said he slept well at night, although the New Year has seen him retire in disgrace following the IDF`s failures in Lebanon.
When a nation views other people as sub-human, regard for the traditional rules of war are set aside. The Nazis regarded the Jews, Russians and Slavs as untermenschen - subhuman barbarians - to justify the treatment they meted out. Such attitudes are ultimately a corrupting force within society. Many Israelis, and many Jews internationally, both religious and secular, have been decrying this cancer of corruption undermining Judaic values and the consequent failure to learn the lessons of the Holocaust.
These lessons must emphasise empathy with all human suffering; the need for universal solidarity against all forms of injustice; and democratic societies as the bulwark against all forms of racism.
Like Aharon Cizling we are all shaken. We sorrow for those who died under rocket fire in Israel. But we do not blame Hezbollah or Palestinian resistance any more than we blamed South African liberation forces when civilians died. We blamed the racist policies of a corrupt government that cynically placed its own people in the firing line. Unlike Aharon Cizling we must speak out publicly, otherwise we cover up crime and become complicit in it.
By bombing Beirut Israel`s leaders knew there would be retaliation, just as when they carry out assassinations to provoke reaction and wreck unwanted negotiations. To them the terror of their own citizens, fleeing south from Hezbollah missiles or hiding in bomb-shelters, is an acceptable part of their cynical calculations. As Tanya Reinhart observed: "For the Israeli military leadership, not only the Lebanese and the Palestinians, but also the Israelis are just pawns in some big military vision." 21 How revealing when the missiles fell on Haifa that among the victims were Israeli Arabs whose government did not bother to provide them with shelters.
What Kind of Future?
Twenty thousand Israeli soldiers, and several thousand citizens, have died since 1948. Many thousands more Arab and Palestinian soldiers and guerrilla combatants have died in that period - and what must amount to hundreds of thousands of civilians. Multiply these figures tenfold to get an idea of the many more maimed and the numbers who have lost their homes to become refugees. In the period between September 2000 and September 2006, 122 Israeli children were killed by Palestinians, and 686 Palestinian children died at Israeli hands; 1,058 Israelis and 3,645 Palestinians were killed; over 7,000 Israelis and 29,000 Palestinians had been injured; 4,170 Palestinian homes were demolished in that period.22
Amnesty International condemned both sides for their "utter disregard" for the lives of children.23 How much longer is the carnage and suffering to continue?
Syrian President, Basher al-Assad, stated after the Lebanon invasion, that every new Arab generation hates Israel more than the last. Veteran Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery agrees and says to fellow Israelis: "Is this the legacy we wish to leave for fifty, for 500 years?" He continues: "What is our historic objective in this confrontation? A fool will say: `to rely on America and world Jewry`. The greatest fools will add: `There is no solution. The situation will last forever. There is nothing to be done but to defend ourselves in war, after war, after war`."24
Avnery has consistently argued that Zionism has planted a foreign body in Palestine which promised, in the words of political Zionisms founding-father, Theodor Herzl, to constitute for Europe in Palestine "a part of the wall against Asia, and serve as the vanguard of civilization against barbarism". Avery has pointed out that without knowing "Olmert almost repeated the formula in his justification of his war [against Lebanon]...to please Bush."25
"The wise", Avery says, "want to live here in 500 years", and he adds:
"our most basic national interests demand that we extend our hands to the Arab nations and act together with them for the rehabilitation of the region."
How can we reinforce these words of wisdom? We South Africans can play an important role in mobilising international solidarity and encourage genuine negotiations for a peaceful solution in the interests of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples - Christian, Muslim and Jew - and all Arabs. We have also shown from our own liberation struggle that previous adversarial groups, once locked in a seemingly intractable struggle, can find a way of cutting the Gordian knot, talking to one another and reconciling in a win-win situation.
This will not be easy and we do not delude ourselves of the intransigence of Israeli vested interest in maintaining the status quo, given the enormous financial investment in the settlement project, valued at $275 billion. Add to this Israel`s expropriation and reliance on control over the region`s water resources and one realises the economic stakes involved in having to change the present relations of domination and subjugation between Israelis and Palestinians. Nevertheless surveys consistently show that the majority of Israelis are willing to see a withdrawal from the occupied territories and, like the Palestinian and Arab peoples, wish to see peace. To fundamentally change the present unequal relationship has become more and more imperative and is infinitely preferable to the cost of conflict and war.
May Israelis wake up and see reason, as happened in South Africa, and negotiate peace. The Palestinians need to learn from what helped open white South African eyes: the combination of a just people`s struggle, arms in hand, but avoiding indiscriminate killing of civilians, with a united people and leadership ready and prepared to switch to different forms of struggle, as well as negotiations when appropriate. Both the Palestinians and the Israeli peace activists derive inspiration from our struggle. Omar Barghouti, independent Palestinian political analyst, wrote recently that "perhaps the South African civil struggle against apartheid can more relevantly and practically teach us how to get there from here".26
An important lesson from South Africa`s experience was that the effect of boycott, sanctions and disinvestment played a major role in encouraging the change of path of the apartheid government and the attitudes of the dominant white community.
The role of international solidarity can never be sufficiently enough stressed in bringing about change. To get from the present impasse in the Holy Land to the peace and freedom everybody longs for will require a massive effort of international mobilisation behind the just demands of the Palestinian people as well as guaranteed security for Israelis. We South Africans, given the experience of our own struggle for democracy, can play a useful role in this process.
We reiterate our support for:
Our government has consistently taken important steps in support of the Palestinian cause. We took the lead in petitioning the International Court of Justice against the Separation Wall, which was ruled to be illegal. We have often hosted talks between Israelis and Palestinians to encourage understanding and the search for a peaceful solution. We support our government`s readiness to host and engage in discussions with all relevant parties.
It is relevant to cite the views of an outstanding South African revolutionary of Jewish descent, the late Joe Slovo, who expressed himself as follows in Mozambique in 1984: "Zionist Israel, Pinochet`s Chile and Batista`s Cuba would all be described by most lawyers as sovereign and independent states. Does this have a bearing on whether you recognise them diplomatically, whether or not you join in the world campaign to isolate them, or whether you have the right to support the revolutionary opposition in a struggle, which involves violence? In other words, the issue of sovereignty and independence has very little bearing on the political and social obligations of world democratic forces. The fact that this is so has been evidenced in this country by Mozambique`s recognition of the PLO as the diplomatic representative of the people of Palestine over which Israel rules as an independent and sovereign state; a state which is justly shunned by most of Africa..."27
An Appeal to South African Jews
We appeal to the Jews of our country, members of a community that has played an important role in the history and life of South Africa, to understand that while we know that it is hard for most Jews to accept it emotionally, the state of Israel is in the wrong. Palestine was taken by force from its indigenous people who had resided there for centuries and have as much right to the land as the present day Jews who inhabit Israel.
It is no good blaming the victims for resisting their dispossession, dispersal and ill-treatment, just as blacks were not wrong to rise-up against white domination in South Africa. Whatever the rights and wrongs of history Jews everywhere can play a role in urging Israel, with its power and resources, to demonstrate its willingness to grant the Palestinians a place in the sun on the basis of a just, negotiated settlement. South African Jews in particular, given our country`s transition, should appreciate that the gun can be replaced by the olive branch. It also needs to be understood that Israel`s unacceptable treatment of the Palestinian people and actions in the region equates Jewry with Zionism and fuels anti-Semitism among those who do not see the difference. That is why acclaimed journalist and author Alan Hart, who Golda Meir called "a good friend", has entitled his latest book, "Zionism The Real Enemy of the Jews".28 Noted academic Alexander Flores has recently written that "anti-Jewish attitudes... are not the main cause of Arab enmity towards Israel" and that "one way to reduce its attraction is to redress the wrongs that keep causing Palestinian grievances".29 It follows that the uncomfortable tensions experienced by Jewish communities everywhere, can be neutralised by a just resolution of the Middle East conflict, and that the interests of the community are best served by speaking-up in unison with our government and nation.
We remind ourselves of Oliver Tambo`s pledge made at an International Conference in 1979: "The struggle of the fraternal Arab people of Palestine, led by the PLO, will always be assured of the support of the African National Congress and the entire fighting people of South Africa."30
We recall the words of then President Nelson Mandela, at a banquet in honour of President Yasser Arafat of Palestine in Cape Town in 1998:
"South Africans drew courage and strength from the support so generously given by the Palestinian people even though they themselves lacked freedom. Now that we have achieved our freedom, we have not forgotten our friends and allies who helped us liberate ourselves. As former beneficiaries of selfless international support, South Africans have a duty to lend a supportive hand to others seeking justice and equality...
It is in that spirit that South Africa has fervently supported the Middle East peace process. South Africa is proud to be part of... affirming the right of Palestine to self-determination and statehood. We are committed to playing our humble part... to help ensure that Palestine assumes its rightful position in the global arena."31
In the conflict between the greater and weaker power, South African President Thabo Mbeki, writing in February 2007, has made it clear where the key for peaceful resolution lies.
Applauding the Mecca Agreement between Fatah and Hamas leaders, President Mahmoud Abbas and Khalid Mish`al, which has hopefully brought peace between Palestinian parties and an agreement on shared government, President Mbeki writes:
"The conclusion of the Mecca Agreement must surely serve as a firm signal that the rest of the world must now end all measures intended to isolate the Palestinian Authority, and thus show respect for the wishes of the Palestinian people and their decisions to determine their own internal affairs. Anything else will not contribute to advance the cause of peace between Israel and Palestine and the rest of the Middle East.
"The challenge also faces the Government of Israel to respond positively to the Mecca Agreement, among other things by releasing all funds due to the Palestinian Authority and adopting a positive posture with regard to the tasks to reduce the misery afflicting the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, and create a climate conducive to the peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
"The balance of power in this regard decisively favours Israel. To end the destructive conflict that has gone on for far too long, will require the wisdom and courage of the more powerful. The positive results that both the Israeli and Palestinian people pray for will not come of their own accord.
"They will come about as a result of conscious and deliberate actions which must be taken in the first instance by the more powerful. Each positive step towards a just peace will create the conditions for the next positive step towards a just peace, until the process towards a just and permanent peace develops an organic logic and momentum that convinces all antagonists that to resort to violence is to turn the guns against the irreversible prospect of peace and security for all.
"But it is imperative that the first step is taken, the first building block of peace put in place, without waiting for the perfect conditions for the construction of peace, because those perfect conditions will never amount to anything more than a dream forever deferred. The moment demands that all those charged with the responsibility to lead should dare to sue for peace, inspired by the same courage with which they have dared to go to war."32
It is possible for diverse peoples to co-exist as we South Africans have demonstrated. By achieving a truly democratic dispensation the enmity between David and Goliath can be ended and both can together clasp the olive branch of peace and security.
Ronnie Kasrils is a member of the ANC National Executive Committee. The first part of this article was published in Umrabulo 27.
Expanding economic and political relations between China and Africa offer an opportunity for South Africa to pursue together with China their shared global agenda, writes Victor Luvhengo.
Last year, 2006, has been referred to as "China`s year of Africa". It started with China issuing a China Africa policy paper and ended in a China-Africa summit on 2-5 November, where more than 40 African countries gathered in Beijing in the China-Africa Cooperation Forum. This was a continuation of the forum that is held once in three years. Close to US$2bn of trade and investment deals were signed at the summit. China also made a commitment to double its aid to Africa in the next two years. This reflects China`s commitment to maintain strong relations with Africa.
Since 2000, China and Africa have been reaching trade and investment agreements through the China-Africa Cooperation Forum. Moreover, a move to consolidate the forum`s agreements resulted in China issuing its first-ever Africa policy paper in January 2006, which is guideline on how China interacts with Africa. Among others, China and Africa agreed to cooperate on issues such as trade, investment, natural resources, infrastructure, governance and human resource development.
Africa is increasingly becoming an important continent for China. In the past six years the robust Chinese expansion on the continent has not gone unnoticed. Last year China-Africa trade was over US$30bn and the figure was expected to rise sharply by the end of 2006, to around US$50bn. China is being driven to the continent by the need to access natural resources and export manufactured goods. China`s booming economy requires more energy and raw materials to sustain its rapid industrialisation. Africa therefore becomes an important continent by virtue of its abundant natural resources, such as oil, gas, iron, uranium, gold, diamonds and platinum. China is moving to strengthen its relations with the continent for this strategic reason.
What are the implications of this for South Africa as a regional power in the continent? How does this deepening China-African relationship help South Africa achieve its global interests?
The current China-Africa relationship is important for South Africa and may produce credible results for the country and the rest of the continent. China regards South Africa as a regional power in Southern Africa and the rest of the continent. What this really tells us is that China will have to engage South Africa on matters concerning the continent. Pretoria has interests in Africa`s recovery, and this is therefore a suitable time for South Africa to mobilise resources for the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for Africa`s Development (NEPAD) through China. With little support coming from the G8 countries, it is increasingly important to mobilise resources from China to fund these regional and continental structures. The present Chinese policy to Africa has highlighted that China will cooperate with regional institutions such as the AU and NEPAD to resolve conflicts and other challenges facing the continent. China has already committed itself to pay US$400,000 annually to the AU Peace and Security Council. Pretoria will have to persuade China for these commitments to be further consolidated and realised.
This year, 2007, South Africa begins serving in the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member for a two-year period. China is one of the five permanent members of the council. Pretoria has an opportunity to work together with China on peace and security issues, especially in stabilising Sudan, where China has a strong influence. China maintains closer relations with Sudan than any other powerful country. China has been highly criticised by Western countries such as America for providing military and economic support to the Khartoum regime. However, China has frequently stated willingness to work with the AU to find a solution to the Darfur crisis. It paid US$3.5 million to the AU in August 2006 to support the AU peace mission in Sudan. South Africa needs to start engaging China on concrete agreements to resolve that crisis.
Moreover, China is increasingly growing as a superpower and its economy is forecasted to overtake that of America in 2035. This offers South Africa an opportunity to collaborate with a future superpower from the developing countries club. One of the factors underpinning South African foreign policy is promoting the agenda of the global South on multilateral forums, with Africa being the core. Such an agenda includes the establishment of a balanced international system, removal of trade restrictions, and the demand for increased international aid for poor countries to support poverty relief programmes. China has the same interests.
Current China-Africa relations are also important regarding the current trade negotiations that have highlighted the restructuring the World Trade Organisation (WTO). More practically, South Africa could take advantage of the Chinese expansion into Africa to influence China for speedy reform of the WTO. China shares the same interests with Pretoria on global trade issues. They all agree that the current state of the world trading system is unbalanced and needs to be changed. Despite the comparative advantage that Africa and other developing countries have in the agricultural sector, this has been hampered by huge subsidies that the US and European Union pay to protect their agricultural sector. China and South Africa are also prominent members of the G20; a group trying to change unfair the world trading system and this gives them an opportunity to take a firm stand together and with other prominent members in the G20 group.
Finally, in a move to strengthen `South-South` relations, South Africa should also strive for the inclusion of China in the India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) initiative. That would make IBSA a strong voice for the South, challenging the status quo of `North-South` relations. South Africa`s global interests are inextricably link to that of the Chinese.
They both have a brighter future in working together to create a balanced international system.
* Victor Luvhengo is an Assistant Researcher at the Democracy and Governance Unit of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in Pretoria. He writes in his personal capacity.
In affirming the need for `unity and cohesion` within its ranks, the ANC could be limiting the space for members to debate freely the positions of the organisation, and undermine democratic practices, writes Lutho Nduvane.
The history of struggles for liberation across the world is dialectically linked with the struggle to achieve unity and cohesion within the ranks of the liberation movements and communist parties.
The phrase `unity and cohesion` has been bandied around within the movement by revolutionaries and factionalist leaders alike and has always been interpreted in a variety of ways.
Different methods and tactics have been used in an attempt to achieve this noble idea. This phrase has been used to deal with conspicuous divisions within the movement. The divisions tend to make the movement lose its focus and divert its attention from its historical task of bringing about a caring society.
In our attempt to interpret and enforce this noble idea of `unity and cohesion` we need to understand that individuals, with a common purpose, form organisations. They strive to work as a collective to achieve their vision of creating a society that cares.
Unfortunately, human beings, unlike machines, have a capacity to think and act differently. They are unique, and possess an ability to creatively solve problems using a variety of methods. In their endeavour to creatively solve these problems, different strategies and ways of arriving at a solution might create tensions. If these tensions are not managed properly within the organisation, you are bound to have these cleavages.
The unintended consequence of enforcing this ideal of unity and cohesion is an exacerbation of fractures and cleavages, which results in factions within the organisation. In most instances we tend to follow a mechanistic approach of using the constitution, democratic centralism, discipline and sometimes purging and isolation of comrades to arrive at this noble idea called `unity and cohesion`.
What the national liberation movement is battling with today is not new in the history of struggles. It is a natural human phenomenon that must be treated with caution because it has a potential to cause more harm and derail our revolutionary struggle.
The Russian social democrats were troubled by a serious strategic question: when and how should the socialist revolution come to Russia? At the Party Second Congress in 1903, first convened in Brussels and then in London, the social democrats split into two factions, Mensheviks and Bolsheviks. The Mensheviks accepted the necessity of a prolonged period of capitalist development before socialism could become a viable alternative, and they called for the organisation of a loosely-structured and mass-based political party. The Bolsheviks on the other hand argued that the socialist revolution couldn`t be postponed and that it could only be achieved by the organisation of a highly centralised and disciplined core of professional revolutionaries.
Using a Marxian analysis to answer the strategic question that faced Russia at the time, it becomes necessary to understand Marx`s view regarding the future of socialism and communism. He argued that democratic and humanistically inspired socialism could not come about until capitalism was fully developed and all the economic potential and social consequences of capitalism had been realised. This was essential not only to the economic efficiency of a socialist society but also to the development of a social consciousness among citizens that was the very basis of democratic socialism and communism.
Lenin`s approach to the strategic question faced by Russia at the time was not to use Marxism as a dogma but to modify it to suit the material conditions prevailing in Russia at the time. It is worth noting that because of the different strategies applied to arrive at the noble vision of socialism, factions developed in the Russian Social Democratic Party.
The divisions caused by the different strategic approaches manifested themselves within the Comintern, or Third International, founded in Moscow in 1919. Trotsky saw the Comintern as a vehicle to coordinate revolutionary activity throughout the world, while Stalin pushed for the notion of "socialism in one country". From this it is easy to arrive at a conclusion that during Stalin`s reign, Soviet self-interest became an antithesis of Marxian internationalism.
On 22 April 1964 the Romanian Workers Party issued a statement on the Sino-Soviet dispute which read: "Of late, the divergences in the international communist and working class movement have deepened, and the public polemic has assumed particular sharpness. Instead of a debate imbued with the endeavour to bring standpoints closer to each other and to find solutions based on Marxist-Leninist ideology, forms and methods have been adopted in the course of the public polemic which considerably envenom relations between parties and offensive judgments, as well as accusations and the ascribing of certain intentions are being resorted to."
In 1933 Kim Il Sung wrote a treatise called `Let us wipe out factionalism and strengthen the unity and cohesion of the revolutionary ranks`. He wrote: "In order to successfully achieve the historic cause of national liberation the Korean communists should get rid of factionalism and firmly guarantee the unity and cohesion of the revolutionary ranks. Factionalism did tremendous harm to the communist movement and the anti-Japanese national liberation struggle in our country. Even at this moment, while insidiously seeking personal honour and political ambition, the factionalists are undermining the unity and cohesion of the revolutionary ranks and obstructing the advancement of the revolution in every way."
The question that we need to answer, is what is factionalism? Is having a different view within the organisation considered factionalist? Kim Il sung argues: "Factionalism is a product of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideologies, particularly of self-heroising, fame-seeking and careerism; it has nothing in common with the revolutionary ideas of the working class.
The Romanian Workers Party, in answering the same question states: "In discussing and confronting different viewpoints on problems concerning the revolutionary struggle or socialist construction, no party must label anti- Marxist, anti-Leninist, the fraternal party whose opinions it does not share." They further argue that the "elaboration of a common general line and of the norms to ensure the unity in action of the communist and workers parties can only be a result of the collective wisdom".
In answering the same question the ANC in Gauteng, in a discussion paper entitled `Build and safeguard the unity of the movement`, asserts:
Having a different view within the organisation is not wrong. Lobbying for support within the structures of the organisation cannot be considered a taboo. It is "when every effort was made by the organisation to emerge with the widest possible solution", taking all views into account, subjecting them to thorough scrutiny, and not dismissing because they come from a particular individual; it is when a culture of debate is fostered within the organisation and a thousand flowers are allowed to bloom, that we can indeed eliminate factionalism. Unintended consequences
It is critical that we look at mechanisms used in trying to foster unity and cohesion within the movement. Any organisation cannot function without a constitution, which assists in defining the strategic objectives, the character of the organisation, how members should conduct themselves and so on. In the movement it is also spelt out how decisions are taken. The notion of democratic centralism is one of the mechanisms used to arrive at decisions to foster unity and cohesion. It is also worth noting that purging and expelling members who do not tow the organisational line or policies is also use to enforce this notion of unity and cohesion.
Joel Netshitenzhe, in `Of cats, Factions and a revolution`, warns that "we cannot just shout democratic centralism and hope we will toyi-toyi the problem of factionalism away. We cannot just throw the 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?"
Are the mechanisms used therefore to enforce unity and cohesion correct? Do they achieve their intended objectives? Is democratic centralism still relevant? Do the members and leadership of the movement understand it? When applied, is it correctly applied or do we have a plethora of interpretations to suit our own selfish interest?
A cursory look at the regional and provincial levels of the ANC would suggest that this notion of democratic centralism is not clearly understood by the leadership of the movement. It has been abused on a number of occasions, especially at provincial, regional and branch level, and the unintended consequences is the stifling of debate within the movement.
Sometimes decisions will be taken by a higher structure and imposed on lower structures. There are situations when this is acceptable. However, if it becomes a norm within the organisation surely the notion of `democratic centralism` is misinterpreted. In such a situation we cannot shout `democratic centralism`, because democracy is absent in such a decision.
It is when we realise the importance of a painstaking process of consultation and creating space for debate within the lower structures of the movement that we can indeed achieve a credible decision. In the absence of robust debate, and reading about the movement`s positions on issues in the newspaper, we are bound to have these cleavages. Members of the movement have the ability and the capacity to challenge decisions especially when they are deliberately denied an opportunity to discuss such issues.
It is sad when ANC branches are simply called to rubberstamp positions without being given a chance to debate such issues. It has become common in some regions to simply call the branch leadership to "sibafundele isahluko ne vesi" (read them verse and chapter) and instruct them to go and do the same with the membership. This is sometimes called `providing leadership`.
While we talk about unity and cohesion, in our actions we abuse power, undermine the capacity and the ability of branch members, impose decisions, stifle debates, and don`t call branch or even regional meetings.
The ANC constitution allows for disciplinary committees to be established. There is absolutely no consistency when it comes to disciplining members of the movement. Some members violate the ANC constitution and nothing is done about it. Another members will commit the same violation and the constitution will be used to discipline and even expel such a member. In a situation where the instruments that are supposed to be used to foster discipline, unity and cohesion are abused and inconsistently applied we are bound to have these divisions, which would ultimately lead to factions within the movement.
In our attempt to foster unity and cohesion within the movement we need to remember that the ANC is a broad organisation with a multi-class character. It is indeed mass-based; it encourages mass participation; it recognises the branch as the basic unit; its historical task is to build a non racial, non sexist and democratic society. Members of the ANC must therefore strive to become the embodiment of the movement. Unity and cohesion of the movement will only be achieved once members recommit themselves to the historical task of fighting poverty and unemployment and create a caring society that respects the rights and dignity of our people. After all, united in action, albeit with differences over strategy, we managed to shatter the invincibility of the racist Pretoria regime.
Lutho Nduvane is Director: Student Development Governance at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Lenin: What is to be done, 1902.
Lenin: Imperialism: The highest stage of capitalism, 1916.
Kim Il Sung: Let us wipe out factionalism and strengthen the unity and cohesion of the revolutionary ranks, 10 May 1933.
ANC Gauteng Discussion Document: Build and Safeguard the unity of the movement, Umrabulo 22, February 2005.
Netshitenzhe J: Of cats, factions and a revolution, Umrabulo 27, November 2006.
The Romanian Workers Party: Statement on the Sino-Soviet dispute.
The debate about the respective roles of materialism and idealism in determining social values and relations should take account of the organisation of the South African political economy, writes Nyiko Floyd Shivambu.
President Thabo Mbeki, speaking at the Fourth Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture in July 2006, called on South Africans to engage in the rather old debate of materialism and idealism, while emphasising the central notion of social cohesion and human solidarity. Nothing more could be more encouraging and inspiring than the President of the ANC and country calling on all of us to embrace the noble values and practices of Ubuntu. President Mbeki advised all of us never to allow the market to be the principal determinant of the nature of our society. He said he believes that "to achieve the social cohesion and human solidarity we seek; we must vigorously confront the legacy of poverty, racism and sexism".
All South Africans ought to indeed agree that the goals and values advocated by Mbeki are noble and should be cherished by the broader South African society. Certainly, Ubuntu is a phenomenon worth recapturing from the traditional African society in different periods of history, which although organisationally in different periods and clans, manifested communalism and elements of egalitarianism.
Nevertheless, without being cynical, disconnecting social cohesion and human solidarity from the material existence of individuals and the political economy, does not present a viable and strong case for these noble phenomena. Unquestionably, Mbeki`s case for social cohesion and Ubuntu represents the epitome of superior logic, but logic cannot solely determine what values society espouses. The assertion that material conditions are determinant of social consciousness makes more practical sense than a rather nostalgic belief that the superiority of logic and reasoning could determine how society interrelates. Karl Marx argued, correctly, that capitalist production relations alienate individuals, not only from the goods they produce, but from themselves.
The reality is that South Africa is currently a capitalist society, which practices and promulgates unapologetically the extraction of surplus value out of what certain sections of society sell as labour. The expansion and extension of this process of capital accumulation and labour exploitation is called economic growth in the globalisation dictum. This method of production, as Karl Marx presaged, is not independent of the other aspects of, and relations in, society.
Kwame Nkrumah argued that the defeat of colonialism (and apartheid) did not result in the automatic disappearance of the imported social organisation and political economy. These patterns have actually taken root, and are in varying degrees, sociological features of contemporary South African society. As the Mbeki noted, the racism that characterised apartheid South Africa continues to be a power relation, and undermines efforts for social cohesion and human solidarity.
Capitalism, including our own, is inherently about greed, individualism, social inequality and consumerism. To expect Ubuntu, social cohesion and human solidarity in capitalism is tantamount to searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Certainly, the values of a capitalist market of individual profit maximisation, as Mbeki acknowledged, displace the values of human solidarity. Many social scientists on the left of the political spectrum argue that capitalism creates solidarity and cohesion of the exploited class to fight against the capitalist system, not human solidarity in general.
In essence, the lack of social cohesion and solidarity are merely symptoms of capitalism and markets. Perhaps focus should be shifted towards the cause. Within the current globalisation phenomenon (or imperialism), market fundamentalism is slowly becoming an imperial reality with the World Trade Organisation`s General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS), which proposes the privatisation and marketisation of virtually everything in society. Accession to GATS might in the present global system become independent of our political will.
Perhaps this characterisation of capitalism is not entirely true, and we should, as Mbeki suggested, debate whether the notion of "I think, therefore I am" is not true. If this notion is not true, we should seriously consider what Nkrumah once claimed, that "true economic and social development cannot be promoted without the real socialisation of productive and distributive processes".
Socialisation of production is not foreign. It was actually envisioned by the Freedom Charter, in proclaiming that all mineral wealth, monopoly capital and banks in South Africa shall be nationalised, while land belonged to all who live in it. As part of recapturing social cohesion, human solidarity and Ubuntu, we perhaps need to make such considerations as socialisation of productive and distributive processes.
Questions will arise obviously on whether the present policy direction articulated in national development strategies, such as the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (ASGISA), seek to realise the objectives and spirit of the Freedom Charter. Without wanting to sound inflammatory or populist, the debate around nationalisation as proclaimed in the Freedom Charter should be revived and occupy centre stage in policy deliberations of the ANC and the broader progressive movement.
This is not to naively suggest though that morals, social cohesion and human solidarity can only be recaptured with the advent of socialisation of productive and distributive process. It is to say that a debate about these noble goals should not be delinked from the organisation of the South African political economy. Besides, countries with socialised productive and distributive forces have not eliminated the problem of human selfishness and greed. In fact, in virtually all "socialist" societies a "Nomenklatura" developed who were as rapacious as the capitalists, but played by even more unfair rules, including the most cynical use of the state machinery for their own ends.
We should all strive to build a good, moral, humane and caring South Africa, and debate these issues because, as Marx discovered, humankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, and therefore work, before it can pursue politics, science, art and religion. Yet the Biblical Jesus Christ said in his early teachings that "do not worry about your life, what you eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on... is not life more than food and body more than clothing?" The debate should continue.
* Nyiko Floyd Shivambu is a member of the National Executive Committee of the South African Students Congress (SASCO).