Number 32, 1st Quarter 2010

CONTENTS

COVER THEME

Make 2010 a real turning point of our movement - Gwede Mantashe

CURRENT AFFAIRS AND DEBATES

An embodiment of organisational experience and memory: Interview with the newly launched Veterans League

Spotlight on Provinces: Free State - Sibongile Besani
A perspective on the alliance today - Sihle Zikalala
State power and revolution in our times - Joel Netshitenzhe
The development state as a social construct - Malusi Gigaba
A refresher: the 2009 mandate and the ANC branch - Siyabulela Fanie
Through the eye of the needle revisited. A perspective for discussion Febe Potgieter - Gqubule

HISTORY

The Morogoro National Consultative Conference, 40 years on - Nathi Mthetwa

Our alliance is a living organism - OR Tambo

INTERNATIONAL

50 years of the Anti-Apartheid Movement

South Africa at the United Nations Security Council - Dumisani Kumalo, Sipho Seakela and Zaheer Laher

60 years of the Chinese revolution, lessons to be learnt
Part 1

READERS` FORUM

Challenges facing the ANC in the post-Polokwane era - Tsheko Tsehlana
Finding a common ground in the midst of poltical exchanges - Thando Ntlemeza
Localisation, the future of sustainable development in South Africa - Luthando Nogcinisa


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

Editorial Collective
Editor-in-Chief: Tony Yengeni
Editor: Fébé Potgieter-Gqubule
Joel Netshitenzhe
Dina Pule
Naledi Pandor
Naph Manana
Donovan Cloete

Contact Information
Address: Umrabulo, PO Box 61884, Marshalltown, 2107, South Africa
Telephone: 086 717 7077
Fax: 086 633 1437
e-mail: umrabulo@anc.org.za

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


Editorial

Our 2010 battle plans are clear

Dear Readers,

Yebo...Yes. Finally the first issue of Umrabulo this year, 2010 is out. This is largely thanks to the sterling efforts of our NEC and our general membership, which insisted that this glorious political and ideological platform for debate and discussion in the ANC must continue to be published after a long spell of absence from the public domain.

This first issue was hastily put together over the festive season which in itself is a busy period. Our deadline was the end of January. We are happy that we made the deadline. The format is therefore still the same but future issues will reflect a much more attractive and challenging magazine in line with our readers' tastes and preferences.

The body of articles in this issue is dominated by topics that we consider current within the body politic of the liberation movement. Many of them are refreshing and will without doubt elicit a response. We will welcome and encourage that.

We call upon all members to participate in these debates with the sole purpose of clarifying and explaining our world in order to change it for the better for all our people.

The NEC January 8th Statement is out and the Secretary General, cde Gwede Mantashe, in the first article reflects on the highlights of 2009 and the key tasks of 2010. President Jacob Zuma has declared the overarching theme for 2010 as `The year of working together to speed up effective service delivery to the people,` and the January 8 Statement of the NEC contains both the key governance and organisational tasks to make this theme a reality.

The 2010 battle plans are clear, what is expected from everyone of us is implementation. Let us therefore unite around this programme and help change our country for the better for all our people.

Readers are free to comment on anything and everything in this Umrabulo issue. We say this because we are mindful of the fact that we can only grow and improve with your input and support.

Enjoy the read.

Tony Yengeni, Editor-in-Chief


Making 2010 a real turning point for our Movement

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe reflects on 2009 and highlights the key tasks arising from the January 8, 2010 Statement. The SG also provides an overview of the NEC Lekgotla and the some of the issues for debate leading up to the National General Council in September 2010.

DELIVERING the January 8th statement on behalf of the National Executive Committee, the President declared 2010 "The Year of Working Together to Speed Up Effective Service Delivery to the People". Importantly, to every cadre of our movement, are the two unpronounced bold statements we must derive from this. Firstly, that we have moved beyond the crisis mode that preoccupied our minds for the better part of 2009 and secondly, that accelerating service delivery and building the structures of the ANC are paramount this year.

The President’s description of 2010 as the year of action is a clarion call to the ANC government to do things differently, and do them with a new sense of urgency.

2009 was turbulent, yet decisive on our side. Initially our society was psyched up to believe the ANC was in trouble. The Manifesto launch in East London was the real turning point, in that it crystallised and gave coherence to our message and further mobilised our forces. It was the first firm signal that the lion was awakened and no amount of noise would stop it. The Siyanqoba Rally in Ellis Park stadium was the final show of strength. All and sundry were at that point certain that the ANC is unstoppable. The decisive victory in the 2009 elections confirmed the fact that the majority of the people of South Africa are steadfast in their belief that the African National Congress is the one party with a sound, progressive vision of our country. The five priority areas in the manifesto found resonance with our people’s hopes and aspirations.

The reconfiguration of the cabinet was a concrete message that the ANC is serious about the commitments made to the electorate. A programme attesting to that is now in place, for example, the ten-point plan on education; the ten-point plan on health, including the establishment of the National Health Insurance, and the renewed energy in the fight against the HIV and AIDS pandemic; the ten-point turnaround strategy aimed at improving the capacity of municipalities to deliver quality service; and the fact that a concrete plan on fighting crime and corruption is taking shape as an issue not for policing alone but a societal one.

The NEC Lekgotla held in January 2010 thus raised the following challenges, arising from the January 8th Statement:

The National General Council to be held in Durban in September 2010 will provide members of the ANC with yet another opportunity to engage with all these programmes and emerging policies. These discussions must start at branch level to enable those who will not be delegates to have an opportunity to participate, while those who will be delegates use the branch discussions to enrich their thoughts and contributions. This will ensure that resolutions of the NGC are indeed democratic, and a product of thorough processes. This should be part of our mobilisation programme, starting with members who in turn should mobilise society.

Let us remind ourselves that 2010 is a historic year for South Africa and the continent. The FIFA Soccer World Cup will be hosted in our beautiful country, and on our beautiful continent. The ANC, as leader of all forces for change must be in the forefront of mobilising our people to fill the stadiums. There must be a buzz in society that the biggest sporting event in the world is coming to South Africa. Visitors must enjoy our warmth and hospitality.

In all we do, let us encourage our people not to be spectators in the theatre of change around them. They must be active participants and determine their own destiny. We owe it to ourselves and to the people of South Africa.

Make 2010, “The Year of Working Together to Speed Up Effective Service Delivery to the People”.


An embodiment of organisational experience and memory

INTERVIEW WITH THE NEWLY LAUNCHED ANC VETERANS LEAGUE

Umrabulo Editor-in-Chief, cde Tony Yengeni interviews General Sandi Sijake, President of the ANC Veterans’ League, launched on 16 December 2009 in the Nelson Mandela Metro.

Tony Yengeni: Good morning cde Sijake, we thank you for agreeing to participate in the first issue of Umrabulo in 2010. Let me start by asking you about the political and organisational processes in the ANC that unfolded and laid the foundation for the launch of the Veterans’ League?

Gen. Sandile Sijake: It is fitting to start this account by acknowledging the contributions made by past generations - and South Africans presently - in forging our country into a vibrant non-racist democracy. Their contributions have ensured that the ANC and its alliance partners continue to play a role in creating a ‘better life for all’ in an ANC-led South Africa.

The processes that set in motion the formation of the African National Congress Veterans League (ANCVL) date back to the 49th National Conference in Bloemfontein (1994) at which the National Executive Committee was mandated to investigate the possibility of launching the ANCVL. Then the position of military veterans - rather than veterans generally - was the prime focus. The 50th National Conference held in Mafikeng in 1997 passed a resolution instructing the NEC to establish in the Office of the President and the offices of Provincial Chairpersons a Standing Commission on ANC Veterans. This resolution took the earlier deliberations a progressive step forward.

The 51st ANC National Conference, held in Stellenbosch in 2002, resolved that the ANC should effectively utilise the veterans of the liberation movement as a resource for the organisation. This resolution stated further that ANC branches should incorporate veterans into their programmes, and make them central to the process of politically educating their members. The 52nd National Conference held in Polokwane in 2007 further clarified the issue. It resolved that the proposed ANC Veterans League be fully functioning at all levels by the time of the centenary anniversary in 2012, and that the ANC membership should be redesigned so as to recognise veterans. The Polokwane Conference helped to define the veterans as comrades of sixty years and older, who have given at least forty years of unbroken service to the movement and the people of South Africa.

TY: What is the political significance of the existence of the Veterans’ League inside the liberation movement?

General Sijake: The ANC Veterans are a unique group of comrades, men and women, who embody the organisational experience and memory of the movement and the people’s struggle for freedom and democracy. They should continue to play an important role in reinforcing the historical, cultural, political, social and traditional values of the ANC and its alliance partners, all of which comprise the National Liberation Movement.

TY: What is the single-most immediate objective of the League?

General Sijake: The immediate and most pressing challenge is to build up our ranks from among all sectors of our society in order to reignite in them a pride in the liberation movement they have built and served so well.

TY: How will the VL contribute concretely in ensuring a united and coherent movement?

General Sijake: It must be noted that we are here talking about the ‘elders’ of the movement. The ANC veterans within all sections of the liberation movement resolve to play a leading role in providing education, leadership and advice to younger members who have not had the opportunity to develop and grow within the structures of the pre-democracy ANC.

The ANC Veterans League resolves to function as a non-factionalist body, and is determined to encourage critical thinking and discussion of issues as one of the means of ensuring all-round growth and development.

TY: The ANC is about to celebrate a hundred years since its founding, what will be the contribution of the Veterans League in this important event?

General Sijake: The liberation movement has countless heroes and heroines, unacknowledged and unsung, whose sterling contributions are without doubt the main factor that delivered our country to the democracy it is today. The centenary celebrations provide a unique opportunity for the Veterans League to contribute a ‘roll of honour’ of these comrades and thereby demonstrate that our movement is indeed non-racist, non-ethnic, non-sexist, non-ageist and non-sectarian. The ANC has always prided itself on being ‘a broad church’ and is true to the commitment declared so movingly by Nkosi Luthuli that it - and South Africa - must be a ‘home for all’, despite the scarcity of resources among our people.

The Veterans League will also ensure that the ANC remains the custodian of the Freedom Charter and positions the Charter - as it deserves - at the centre of its endeavours, all of which are aimed at creating a ‘better life for all’.

TY: What should the national liberation movement do to keep itself a peoples movement and relevant for the next hundred years?

General Sijake: It is of utmost importance that we implement all the promises we made to the electorate. To this end, the liberation movement should have criteria of principle and process that informs its selection of leadership in all tiers of government, and especially at local authority level where our people can see government in action. We know that South Africans believe that the ANC is the right organisation to vote for in order to build this ‘better life for all’.

The ANC must give our people a sense of dignity and pride in being South African; give our people education and training which will go hand-in-hand with a drive to alleviate poverty and raise up the position of women, children, the disabled, the unemployed, the marginalised members of society. Every single school must be made available to train our youth so that they truly become our national asset. The elderly among our previously advantaged compatriots must be encouraged in their numbers to break down the walls that separate us. They should come to the townships, share their skills and experience and become an active part of the drive to empower our youth. Any unproductive land bought by the government as part of land distribution should be used for the purposes of youth empowerment projects and collective farms.

TY: Congratulations for being elected the first President of the VL. How do you personally feel about this election?

General Sijake: I was humbled by the trust shown in me by the ANC Veterans. The spirit manifested at the election gives me the hope that with the support and determination of my colleagues I will develop into a better human being.

TY: As a veterans organisation, do you have any wise words for the youth of the ANC and the country in this new year?

General Sijake: 2010 is a very important year for all South Africans. Apart from its significance as the year in which our country hosts the FIFA World Cup, 2010 also marks 100 years since the formation of the Union of South Africa in which a white hegemony was firmly entrenched. It was also under these conditions that the seeds of what was eventually to become the ANC began to germinate. This was heralded by the first non-racial delegation that went to London to plead the case of excluded South Africans.

Furthermore, municipal and local government elections will be held in 2011. The imperative is that we must build our structures based on the tested principles of the ANC. The promises made to the people must be fulfilled at all times with no political excuses.

TY: The tri partite alliance is a unique and indispensable vehicle for the achievement of our national democratic revolution. What in your view should be done to build and strengthen this alliance?

General Sijake: The history of the alliance continues to be based on mutually shared fundamental political, economic social and cultural programmes that have a direct bearing on communality of interests. The glue that binds it is the respect accorded to each partner, as well to individual within the alliance and across the board.

During this phase of our National Democratic Revolution it is important that the ANC, which plays the leading role, continuously provides quality leadership based on a collective will and consensus-building. It is one of the duties of the ANC to ensure that it feels the presence of its allies during each and every step taken in the course of implementing shared programmes. The processes and procedures that inform the debates on critical aspects of the movement must be treated with respect and jealously guarded by all involved, as these are part of the treasured property of the alliance.


The Free State: a peaceful province

SPOTLIGHT ON PROVINCES: FREE STATE

A perspective on the current state of the ANC in the Free State province, by Provincial Secretary Sibongile Besani.

THE Free State has always gone down in history as one the most peaceful province and it has remained strategic for various reasons in the African National Congress and in the country in general. To state the obvious, many political organisations were formed in this province including the African National Congress, the hope of our people. This illustrious moment of our history is once more honoured by revolutionaries in this province by creating stability.

The current environment of engagement and commitment did not just bolt out of the sky but is a product of the many organisational teething challenges since the advent of democracy. The ANC in this province did not even invoke any magical powers to arrive at this point, with much more still to be done. This paper is intended to share some of those experiences and provide a perspective on how we managed to improve the organisation and the political environment in the province.

Immediately after 1994 we were at each other’s throats and the movement was divided into North and South battles. Generally the North believed that the centrality of the ANC was undermined and the South believed that the ANC was harbouring and protecting corrupt individuals. Those who were deployed to lead government continued to appeal to one group, pitching them against the other. The situation got so bad to a point that government functioned along these two schools of thinking. To illustrate this further, provincial government reflected a view from the South and local municipalities the North. Other structures of the movement operated along these two views directly and indirectly. The ANCYL and the ANCWL were also central in rallying membership along these lines and so were the Alliance partners.

Some of the bad tendencies that were dominant included: comrades defied the ANC-PEC whenever they were to be redeployed; decisions of the ANC were challenged by members through courts of law; the use of the State apparatus to investigate ANC members and leaders by also implicating them in criminal activities; political education was seriously compromised; organisational processes were manipulated to suit factional agendas; and labeling of comrades and marginalisation of activities took place.

All the above may sound very familiar to the reader and it should be mentioned these were eating at the soul of our movement, turning brother against brother. It felt at the time like a political anathema that would be a feature of the province forever. In 2000 at the National General Council in Port Elizabeth, the ANC in the Free State was described as being “mortgaged”. At the 51st National Conference in Stellenbosch in 2002 the Organisational Report noted some little progress but described divisions in the ANC-Free State as “virulent”.

These descriptions never sat well with factions in the organisation and every time they would be used publicly and thrown at the other grouping. This was indication that there was no ownership of ill-discipline in the movement.

The fundamental aspect of all these is that the membership developed a strong sense of oneness and thus started to conduct organisational matters around this common goal. At every intervention by leadership the ANC membership always internalised the fact that ANC is the centre of power.

The 5th Provincial conference in 2005 was a watershed in that it had the hallmarks of divisions yet it produced results that were affirming the unity of the movement. While leadership contestation was embraced and managed, the election of the whole PEC was finalised through nomination process. The key aspects following this Conference that have contributed to stability in the Free State, are:-

Leadership must own up to its actions and decisions

When there are challenges of factionalism, a leadership vacuum develops in two ways. Either the leadership in place hunts down those they disagree with or abuse democratic processes or they are trapped into inactivity for fear of being perceived to be purging their rivals. Both situations result in the perpetuation of ill-discipline and give space to factionalism and at times hotline tendencies with some national leaders.

To prevent this from happening, we fought tendencies by some senior citizens to express ill-informed views about the ANC at funerals and social gatherings. Many affected individuals were engaged constructively and today they are part of the solution. In some instances, leadership would verify its views around former leaders because there were also tendencies by some of us to hold uninformed views about them.

Since 2005, this PEC acknowledged that it is part of the problem and resolved on ensuring broad participation of cadres in organisational matters. There is general acceptance that the body of experience in this revolutionary movement is so immense and that more should be done to share with new generations of ANC membership. Many structures have already started with programmes that involve many cadres who were inactive as a result of the past divisions. The respect for the strategic relations we have with the Alliance partners is also at helm of sustaining this stability. This is work in progress.

Leaders are expected to cultivate the culture of engaging in ideological work and this is improving as more and leaders at various levels participate in the weekly classes of political education. This has given the membership an opportunity to understand political inclinations and understanding of various leaders in the province. This enables leaders to also interact with the perspectives of the membership on a regular basis.

Organisational machinery and campaigns

Owning up to leadership responsibility also requires that leaders must go to the ground to serve the structures of the organisation. In dealing with this situation a process to evaluate performance of PEC members is in place. Through this process each members of the PEC has a mobilisation profile, which is reported at the PEC meetings and Provincial General Council. There is strong belief that part of the problem has been a tendency of elected leadership only serving the structures during conferences, thus resulting in divisive lobbying. In the Free State, it is seen as a political sin to be leader without a good mass mobilisation profile. On a regular basis, leaders conduct door-to-door work, address mass meetings and deployees of the ANC are engaged around concerns of people.

This also speaks directly to the fact that a proper organisational and administrative machinery should be in place to take the movement forward. Key positions have been filled in the provincial office and the structure has been developed further to meet the needs of the province especially in the area organising, political education and research. We have done away with the culture of running the movement on an ad-hoc basis and ensured that staff becomes professional by striving at all times for excellence.

The ANC brand is also taken to people in various ways e.g. for the past two years the ANC has been participating at the exhibition centre of MACUFE and we have also exhibited our centenary work at the January 8 celebration in Kimberley. The ANC should not shy away from being part of the current cultural vibrancy found amongst young people and society in general. Therefore our campaigns should not only make sense when they are conducted in the form of marches and picketing, but they should seek to engage and influence on regular basis.

The Dikapeso campaign of the ANC WL has attracted all categories of women to the ANC. At some point some ridiculed the ANCWL by saying that it has reduced itself to women prayer services on Thursdays. This view was defeated, because this campaign appealed to women who are generally more active in religious activities. If the ANC is a broad church, it flows from that logic that our campaigns should also be in line with the experiences of our masses.

The Free Staters are enterprising and passionate soccer fans and this has shown itself when Bloemfontein Celtics fan were conferred awards by the soccer fraternity. The African National Congress has not shied away from mobilising support for the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup, and to take this forward the province recently launched the Re ja Motsipo Hela Yalo Sani Campaign. Through these activities we seek to contribute towards uniting the nation.

Internalising the fact that the ANC is the

political centre

The centrality of the ANC has been interpreted in various ways and for different reasons, at times for opportunistic purposes. In the case of the Free State the experience is no different because at some stage this meant ANC leadership had no say on how government was run. Some quarters attempted to use the country’s Constitution to project the ANC as irrelevant and arrogant by claiming that it disregarded the very same constitution. This resulted in the notion of two centres of power in the province.

The ANC had to contest every court case intended to undermine the fact that it had interest in governing the country. The route to Polokwane is a testimony that on the eve of the 52nd National Conference a group of people lost a court application intended to disqualify all the 365 delegates elected democratically to represent their branches. And yet, in every community protest, the people have demanded answers from the ANC and no one else.

These simple illustrations attest to the fact that the debate on the political centre is not new. Currently there are new permutations of this debate. Considering that the Free State experience has always been about asserting the centrality of the ANC and the fact that Polokwane re-affirmed the ANC as the centre of power, this debate is unfortunate and superficial. It is therefore our view that the Alliance should not be sacrificed on the altar of an issue clarified during the 52nd National conference.

Another key aspect to the centrality of the ANC is the issue of deployment in government. We have been able to deploy people with various skills into government including drawing key skills and expertise from the private sector. The shortcoming has been that some of the skills deployed do not always reflect the depth in understanding ANC vision and positions. Therefore, it has become imperative for the PEC to induct ANC deployees in government on regular basis. Skills gained from universities, private sector and elsewhere cannot be applied without political content because the real call for professionalism and excellence requires better understanding of objective reality. These regular induction programmes will eliminate the tendency whereby the centrality of the ANC is attacked from the government front.

Operation Hlasela remains a key political programme aimed at asserting the commitment of the ANC to renew itself and implement the 2009 election manifesto. Therefore, Operation Hlasela is not simply a government programme, but another conception of umvuselelo within the movement. The reason that government has embarked on this vigorously has nothing to do with creating two centres of power but everything to do with the centrality of the ANC.

Conclusion

Understanding where we come from and the fact that we have created a basis to build the movement, we are alive to challenges that still persist and will continue to improve on our models of engagement. Our preparations for the centenary are on course will also be a strong basis for unity in order to advance our revolution unhindered.


A perspective on the alliance today

By ANC KwaZulu Natal Provincial Secretary Sihle Sikalala.

Introduction

The abiding strength of the ANC and its Alliance lies in its culture of robust debate, which helps to bring more clarity and wisdom to those participating in such debates. Affirming this culture, the ANC 52nd National Conference asserted that: “instead of causing divisions, debating matters helps us to listen and learn from one another”.

The post-Polokwane era has created a space for more interaction and improved coordination of the Alliance, and provided significant space for ideological and political debates. This is a positive development in the alliance as a living organism whose survival depends on its ability to harness class contradictions inherent in our revolutionary alliance. However, the recent events of attacking one another, poses a serious threat to this tried and tested culture of the movement and if not properly addressed, can erode robust debate and we may therefore find ourselves back to the pre-Polokwane era of caricaturing and labeling one another, resulting in us being side- tracked from focusing on substantive issues facing our movement and society in general.

The critical issues facing us today is how we manage the Alliance and harness its effectiveness as an instrumental organ for the attainment of the National Democratic Society, which we defined as the ultimate goal of the National Democratic Revolution. Clearly, navigating the treacherous waters of our journey leading to this ideal society will not be plain sailing. Critically, this requires a political force rooted among the masses of our people and embedded in their day-to-day experiences.

The Tripartite Alliance is indeed such a formidable force. However, there are critical questions that time and again confront the Alliance. One such question is whether the ANC still remains the strategic political centre or whether the Alliance has became a strategic political centre of power? Has the centre shifted from its historical position and, if so, what are the political factors that might have brought about such a shift? Politically, what are the prevailing circumstances that even give birth to that idea?

What is the Alliance and why does it exist?

As a revolutionary movement, we have always regarded the Alliance as a ‘living organism’, composed of three streams of the National Liberation Struggle, namely: the revolutionary democrat, socialist and the trade union movement, all of them committed to the National Democratic Revolution. The alliance is not a museum, and therefore not static, but it is a strategic point of convergence of these forces of change. What bring all these classes and strata together are the content and the character of the National Democratic Revolution.

These three streams of the Alliance have come together and joined forces, first and foremost, because they independently adopted the National Democratic Revolution as a minimum revolutionary program of our struggle. The essence of this was properly captured by former President O.R. Tambo at the SACP’s 60th Anniversary, when he said:

Ours is not merely a paper alliance, as created at conference tables and formalized through the signing of documents and representing only an agreement of leaders. Our alliance is a living organism that has grown out of struggles. We have built it out of our separate and common experiences. It has been nurtured by our endeavours to counter the total offensive mounted by the National Party in particular against all opposition and against the very concept of democracy. It has been strengthened by resistance to the vicious onslaught against both the ANC and the SACP by the Pretoria regime. It has been fertilized by the blood of the countless heroes; many of them are unnamed and unsung. It has been reinforced by a common determination to destroy the enemy and by our shared belief in the certainty of victory”.

None of the partners of the Alliance doubt the relevance and the strategic nature of the Alliance. That it is strategic is primarily because it was born to attain the common strategic objectives of the revolution. This has been for many decades of struggle and continues to be the essence of what this historic alliance is all about.

The ANC Strategy and Tactics, adopted at the 52nd National Conference in Polokwane in 2007, explicitly defines the content of the revolution:

The main content of the NDR is the liberation of the Africans in particular and Blacks in general from political and socio-economic bondage. It means uplifting the quality of life of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female. At the same time it has the effect of liberating the white community from false ideology of racial superiority and insecurity attached to oppressing others. The hierarchy of disadvantage suffered under apartheid will naturally inform the magnitude of impact the programmes of change and the attention paid particularly to those who occupied the lowest rungs on the apartheid social ladder”

Why is the ANC the leader of the Alliance?

As stated above the main content of the NDR is the national liberation of the previously oppressed - the African majority and blacks in general, democratic whites and in class terms it includes the unemployed and landless masses, unskilled and semi skilled workers, professionals, small business. Therefore the character of the revolution requires a National Liberation Movement to lead, hence the African National Congress, with the working class as the primary motive force in such movement. The ANC as the leader of the revolution places the poor, who occupied the lowest rungs on the apartheid social ladder, at the centre of its programme of change, and therefore, it is a disciplined force of the left.

Secondly, for this revolution to triumph, it requires the mobilization of all social forces that share the vision of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. To be precise, “the primary task of the ANC remains the mobilization of all the classes and strata that objectively stand to benefit from the cause of social change”. The mass character of the ANC provides such forces with a platform to participate in pursuit of the national democratic revolution. Therefore the ANC throughout its evolution has become an organ of mass mobilization and the glue that keeps all of our people together. Because of its character and the fact that it derives its orientation from people drawn from all social strata, it has become a trusted leader of social change.

Is there a need for a reconfigured Alliance in the post-Polokwane era?

There have been calls for the reconfiguration of the Alliance from, in particular, the South African Communist Party and Congress of South African Trade Unions. This call continues today with a dedicated focus on the question of the centre, whether the ANC or the Alliance is the Strategic Political Centre.

The 12th National Congress of the South African Communist Party, held in 2007 observed that:

The alliance requires major reconfiguration if the NDR is to be advanced, deepened and defended, and if we are to achieve the SACP’s medium term vision objectives of building the working class hegemony in all sites of power, including the state. That this reconfiguration of the alliance must include the following elements: (a) the Alliance must establish itself as a strategic political centre; (b) this political centre must develop a common capacity to drive strategy, broad policy, campaigns, deployment and accountability. At the same time, this reconfiguration of the Alliance must respect the independent role and strategic tasks of each of the Alliance partners”.

In this regard, the SACP proposes that the Alliance should be reconfigured and become the strategic political centre to drive policy, campaigns, deployment and accountability. This means having an Alliance Deployment Committee and the Alliance mechanisms to develop and implement policy instead of the ANC. To put it more directly, the SACP is deeply concerned that the National Democratic Revolution will not be deepened and defended unless the centrality of its leadership lies with the Alliance, rather than with the ANC. This is notwithstanding the fact that the ANC has led this revolution even during difficult moments of our struggle.

In the same vein, the 9th National Congress of COSATU held in 2006 resolved that:

The alliance must enter into some form of a pact that would enable the alliance to influence government. This should include agreements of deployments and quotas for representation of different partners at every level, with independent caucuses and power of recall to ensure accountability”.

Critical questions arising from the scenarios (presented by both COSATU and SACP resolutions) are what happens if there are divergent views on specific policy matters and whose mandate will prevail? Secondly, as some of ANC public representatives are members of the ANC, SACP and SANCO, where will they account and who will have a final word on their deployments and mandate?

Clearly, the situation will lead to a state of perpetual contention of views with no Alliance partner having the mandate to decide. It will also lead to a state of paralysis where critical decisions will not be taken where there are conflicting views. But secondly, if some of our public representatives decide not to support a particular view in Parliament primarily because it is not in line with the view of the Alliance partner with which their political allegiance lie, they might decide even abstain or at worse to vote with the opposition and none will have mandate to discipline them or ensure a common approach.

Since the inception of the Alliance the ANC has been the strategic political centre that co-ordinates and leads the NDR, both during the difficult moments prior the unbanning and after the 1994 democratic breakthrough.

None amongst the Alliance partners questions the ANC leadership of the NDR but the contestation is on the ANC being the political centre of power. Arising from this is the question of whether the ANC can be a leader of the Alliance and the National Democratic Revolution without being a strategic political centre of power. If so, what entails that leadership?

As indicated above, the ANC leadership of the NDR is not inherent but was earned based on the content of the revolution and the ANC’s character as the liberation movement. Thus, as long as we agree on the content of the revolution and the ANC being a leader, we must accept that the ANC as a political centre will always provide a strategic leadership.

This does not negate the fact that we are in a strategic Alliance and there should therefore be maximum consultation and the commitment to always ensure consensus on issues of policy and deployment in particular.

In advancing the argument of the shifting of the strategic political centre from the ANC to the alliance, there have been articulations suggesting that affirming the ANC as a strategic political centre, constitutes a reversal of gains of the Polokwane ANC 52nd National Conference. Implied in this perspective is that the ANC 52nd National Conference debated and resolved that the Alliance should now be the strategic political centre of the NDR. This is incorrect and misleading.

Notwithstanding the fact that the SACP and COSATU resolutions on the reconfiguration of the Alliance were taken prior to the ANC 52nd National Conference, none of them were presented at the ANC 52nd National Conference, and therefore none of them were adopted as resolutions of the ANC.

The ANC National Conferences, because of its strategic role and political leadership, has come to be recognized as Conferences of the broad mass democratic movement, which defines the content and programme of the revolution. Thus, all components of the MDM strive to influence and shape the direction of the movement. But once the Conference is over all components of the MDM and Alliance partners in particular are expected to rally behind resolutions taken at conferences, without surrendering their independence.

Consistent with its culture of open debate and extensive consultation, the ANC convenes National Policy Conferences to undertake policy review. Such process always ensured that there is maximum participation of the Alliance partners and all components of the mass democratic movement.

Reflecting on the role of the alliance in pursuit of the National Democratic Revolution, the ANC 52nd National Conference resolved:

Conference confirms the relevance of the Alliance, united in action for joint programme of social transformation, using its collective strength to continue to search for better ways to respond to the new challenges. To achieve this, we must continue to enhance coordination amongst alliance partners and to strengthen the organisational capacity of each individual component."

Conference further confirms that the leadership role of the ANC places on it the primary responsibility “to unite the tripartite Alliance and all democratic forces”.

Leading up to and during the ANC National Policy Conference there was extensive discussions on the question of the political centre of power, with specific reference to the question of policy development of policy, deployment of cadres and their accountability. This debate arose within the context of affirming the long-standing organisational position on the centrality of the African National Congress as a leader of both government and society in general. Because the ANC is a living organism, from time to time it will always be seized with the question of strategically positioning itself within this changing domestic and global environment. In response to this organisational imperative, the ANC 52nd National Conference resolved that:

Conference affirmed that the ANC remains the key political centre of power, which must exercise leadership over the state and society in pursuit of the objectives of the NDR. This means that the structures and collectives of the movement must make the decisions on the direction our country should take collectively.”

In the same vein, with regard to policy formulation, monitoring and evaluation, the ANC 52nd National Conference resolved:

Conference affirms the centrality of ANC structures, especially the branches, in policy formulation process of the movement and the ongoing need for the ANC to give leadership to the society and state”.

However, this does not mean that the ANC should act unilaterally and without engaging the alliance partners. The ANC should always engage the alliance consciously, with a view to influence and be influenced in order to achieve broader clarity and ensuring participation of the alliance on policy and deployment matters. In doing so, the African National Congress is by no ways delegating its responsibility as a centre of power to the Alliance but this happens as part of a consultation processes.

So where does the problem lie and what are solutions?

The period before the ANC 52nd National Conference, which was characterized by lack of proper engagement within the alliance and tendencies of labeling one another, left a negative mark on the history of our struggle. It created mistrust and therefore a tendency for each partner to want to take charge of decision-making.

But, as the revolutionary movement we ought to rise to the occasion and seize the space that has been created by the post-Polokwane era. In this regard, we must all strive to enhance the coordination and better implementation of the programme of the Alliance. We must therefore build on key achievements we have already attained, including:

Whilst these are not new interventions, if sustained and cascaded down to lower levels of the alliance structures, they will enhance the coordination and functioning of the Alliance. However, and most importantly, this must never be construed to replace the programs of each alliance partners as adopted though their respective conferences. This should also not be misconstrued as the abrogation of the ANC’s historic role to lead. Our strength lies on our ability as different components of the alliance to effectively advance our strategic goals and complement one another.

Tendencies that contribute to disunity in the Alliance

Genuine concerns have emerged relating to the manner in which the Alliance partners sometimes conduct themselves. The emergent of this unfortunate conduct, more often than not, finds expression through disruptive tendencies and polarization of debates. Unless the revolutionary movement acts in unison, these tendencies will distract the revolutionary alliance from its strategic task of advancing the National Democratic Revolution. The latest developments of booing ANC leaders and attacking one another in public reflect a level of intolerance and degeneration of political consciousness within the movement.

In dealing with such tendencies, it is first and foremost important to assert the character of the ANC. As a multi-class mass movement, the ANC has a responsibility to mobilize all people and unite them in pursuance of the NDR. This is succinctly illustrated through the ANC membership, which is not based on class orientation, and therefore socialists, communists and revolutionary democrats can all be members of the ANC, sharing equal rights, duties and obligations as determined in the constitution.

Secondly, our vision of a democratic state with bias towards the poor recognizes the leading role of the working class in the programme of social transformation. The character of the ANC, as disciplined force of the left, arises from this ideological position and relationship with the poorest in society.

Therefore the question of whether there is space for socialism within the ANC or even in the NDR does not arise. Socialists and communists as individual members - not as a group within the ANC - have a right to participate in the shaping and execution of the NDR. Like all other members of the ANC, they are confined by the principles, vision and code of conduct of the African National Congress. In the African National Congress, members are valued on the basis of their allegiance and commitment to the values, vision and program of the movement, not on the basis of their ideological orientation.

More often than not, leading cadres within the South African Communist Party and COSATU have missed no occasion in asserting that the ANC must be protected from being hijacked by business. This is actually a reflection of class contestation within the movement, which is inherent given the character of the ANC. However, it remains critical to assert that mere differences on tactical positions must not inspire hatred or labels such anti-communist, etc. Hatred and labeling feed into disunity and inspires personalized attacks, which distracts the revolutionary alliance from substantive issues of the day.

Precisely because the alliance partners also share membership, the issue of dual leadership became inevitable. Historically, the movement has accepted that a leader of one component may be elected to any position in the other ally. This tradition has been with the movement for decades and was not abused. It was always understood that leaders are elected on the bases of their individual membership and loyalty to that organisation. When one is elected to lead an organisation, s/he leads that organisation and does not lead it on behalf of another ally.

Speaking again on the occasion of the SACP 60th Anniversary, the ANC President, O.R. Tambo captures this:

Within our revolutionary alliance each organisation has a distinct and vital role to play. A correct understanding of these roles, and respect for their boundaries has ensured the survival and consolidation of our cooperation and unity”.

If this understanding still prevails today, the debate about the communist takeover or calls for communists to swell the ANC ranks merely for leadership positions than pursuing the revolution loses significance.

Part of the tendencies that seem to be resurfacing is labeling one another, denouncing the loyalty of other cadres to the revolution, whilst proclaiming others as the only revolutionaries loyal and committed to the movement. Prior to the Polokwane ANC 52nd National Conference we experienced the same tendency of calling one another ultra-left and ultra-right.

Recently, such tendency has resurfaced in the form of pronouncements that claim that there is an “elite” within the movement that is committed to taking over the ANC. This claim has yet to be substantiated. If such pronouncements are unpacked and substantiated, they become nothing but divisive labeling where one seeks to project others as less revolutionary and therefore position herself/himself as the only best cadre to advance the revolution. Such tendency can factionalise the organisation into various groupings and has a potential of derailing the programme of building a national democratic society.

We all share a common responsibility of uniting the ANC, the revolutionary alliance and mass democratic movement. None of us should be found wanting in this critical task. Unity is sacrosanct and each and every one of us should strive to maximize her/his effort in building unity of the movement. The success of our revolution is dependent on our clarity of vision and unity of purpose.

REFERENCES

COSATU (2006). Documents and Resolutions of the 9th National Congress of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, 18-21 September 2006, www.cosatu.org.za

SACP (2007). Documents and Resolutions of the 12th National Congress of the South African Communist Party, 11-15 July 2007, www.sacp.org.za

Tambo, Oliver Reginald (1981). “Our alliance is a living organism that has grown out of struggle.” Speech by ANC President Tambo at meeting to observe the 60th anniversary of the South African Communist Party, London, July 30, 1981. First published in Sechaba, September 1981 and also in African Communist, No. 87, Fourth Quarter 1981. Dr. Yusuf M. Dadoo presided over the meeting. http://www.anc.org.za/show.php?doc=ancdocs/speeches/1980s/or81-10.html#N_1_


State and revolution in our times

The state does not exist for its own sake, but as a critical instrument in ensuring the realisation of the strategic objective of the liberation movement, writes Joel Netshitenzhe.

THE formulation of the topic reminds me of an experience at the Moscow Institute of Social Sciences (Party School). This applies particularly to the word AND between the two concepts, “the state” and “revolution in our times”. I had prepared a thesis, “The crisis of the South African ruling class AND the national democratic revolution”; and had thoroughly dealt with the issue of the ruling class: its definition, its crisis and so on; but did not go into much detail on the national democratic revolution (NDR).

The panel was however not impressed, arguing that I should have given more or less equal treatment to the issue of the NDR. My explanation that the issue of the NDR was merely the context within which I wished to examine the matter of the South African ruling class did receive their sympathy.

Revolution is a process of resolving antagonisms in society. In this regard, the NDR sought and seeks to resolve fundamental contradictions about national oppression and social exclusion; class super-exploitation and the triple oppression of women (as a class, as black people and as women).

The NDR contributes to this through the pursuit of a national democratic society, elaborated in detail in Chapter III of the Strategy and Tactics document adopted at the 52nd National Conference of the ANC in December 2007. In this section, dealing with the “Vision of our collective effort”, the Strategy and Tactics document argues that the society we seek to create should, among others:

This then is the context within which we should approach the issue of state power. The critical matter is that the state does not exist for its own sake, but as a critical instrument in ensuring the realisation of the strategic objectives of the liberation movement.

Theory of state and revolution

What are some of the key principles that we need to keep in mind in addressing the notion of state and revolution, an issue that has occupied the mind of revolutionaries over the centuries?

This is captured succinctly by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in the 1872 Preface to the German edition of the Communist Manifesto, after the attempt at a proletarian revolution through the Paris Commune:

“One thing especially was proved by the Commune, viz., that ‘the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes’.”

Vladimir Lenin in his typical blunt self emphasises this in his book, State and Revolution:

“the working class must break up, smash the ‘readymade state machinery’, and not confine itself merely to laying hold of it”.

Their approach is premised on the understanding that the state is a class instrument to pursue and defend class rule and class interests. However, in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Marx and Engels do argue that the state, as superstructural phenomenon, can enjoy some autonomy from the economic base or from the main classes (the phenomenon of Bonapartism) - an observation that is of relevance to understanding some of the developmental states in the 20th century.

This approach to state power was further developed by Antonio Gramsci, especially in terms of emphasising that the state is not just a coercive force (“dictatorship” taken literally); but also a cohesive force. In this sense it should be able to exercise ideological hegemony in society.

From this point of view, one can argue that elements of ‘liberal democracy’ are in fact achievements of human civilisation. This applies to such freedoms as those of speech, thought, association, the media and so on. In my view, one of the deficiencies of ‘living socialism’ - partly imposed by the conduct of counter-revolution - was precisely this reluctance to allow the human spirit free reign. With the emphasis on the notion of ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ the tendency developed to interpret this too literally. This is in fact against Marxism. For, in the same manner as they spoke of a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ Marx and others also referred to bourgeois democracy as a ‘dictatorship of the bourgeoisie’. In emphasising the reality of class rule, they were not arguing against individual freedoms. In fact, they insisted that workers’ rule would entail both institutional and human freedoms that would be more profound than had hitherto existed.

Let’s conclude the general theoretical treatment by asserting a critical principle relevant to our challenges today. This is that in all revolutions before the socialist revolution, production relations (forms of economic ownership and control) of the new system emerged in the womb of the old socio-economic formation. State power comes into play in the midst of such changes in production relations and it was used to further consolidate the new economic relations. This was the case with relations of slavery within the communal system, feudal relations within slavery and capitalist relations within the feudal system.

With regard to the socialist revolution, of course you have to have developed productive forces in the form of systems and technology of production. But the first and most critical act in that revolution is the attainment of state power and the utilisation of such power consciously to create socialist production relations. This places huge demands on the cadres meant to drive such transformation; for they have to resist the pull of the negative tendencies deriving from the system they seek to bury.

The same principle applies to the national democratic revolution. Production relations of the NDR have to be consciously built by the victorious forces that constitute the national liberation movement. First you have to attain state power.

Lessons for the NDR

How have we applied this theory of state and revolution to the South African situation; how have we operationalised it post-1994; and of what relevance is the theory itself to the current situation?

An approach to this question is articulated in the Tripartite Alliance document of 1998, The State, Property Relations and Social Transformation which proceeds from a number of premises:

Firstly, in defining the state and state power, it refers to political institutions and the state machinery. But it also argues that political power extends to issues of economic power, workplace organisation, the schools and religious bodies and organisations of civil society generally.

Secondly, our state like all others is a concentrated expression of class interests. It would reflect class contestation in society as it seeks to fashion itself in the image of the coalition of classes and strata that are the motive forces (drivers) of the NDR.

Thirdly, because revolutions are at core about property relations, how the state regulates these and sets out rules of economic and social engagement is fundamental to the project of social transformation.

Let us now examine the challenges identified in the document, The State, Property Relations and Social Transformation; and whether we’ve made progress in dealing with them.

The 1998 document says that we had attained a legitimate government based on a democratic constitution. We will all agree that the situation is even better now. Though there may be challenges in the detail, the trajectory with regard to popular confidence in the democratic government is a positive one.

The 1998 document argues that the South African state machinery still had to be transformed to reflect the outlook of the social classes and strata that pursue transformation. This is in terms of demographic composition, the doctrines that guide them, issues of allegiance to the constitution and so on: not whether these individuals are members of the ANC or in line with ANC party interests or not! And this matter applies to the judiciary, parastatals, regulatory bodies, the public broadcaster, the central bank, the army, the police, intelligence agencies and the bureaucracy generally.

I suppose we will all agree that massive progress has been made in this regard; but that there are still massive challenges to deal with. One can refer here to the content of judicial education and the challenge with regard to some of the personalities. One can also refer to technical and professional functions: yes, we do have individuals with an anti-apartheid background as generals and in other ranks in the SANDF and Commissioners in SAPS and so on. But, in terms of demographics for instance, how are we doing in relation to air traffic controllers, pilots, forensic experts and so on!

The 1998 document argues that the national democratic state that we seek to create should utilise economic leverage to lead the process of socio-economic development and that, in this regard, we were found wanting.

Today, we can justifiably argue that we have over time improved our ability to utilise the government budget for purposes of redistribution. We have made progress in terms of setting up regulatory agencies and defining the frameworks within which they should operate, a good example in this regard being the recent self-assertion of the Competition Commission. There has also been some progress in terms of developing an industrial policy framework and sector strategies.

However, there are fundamental weaknesses such as regulators that are much weaker than their mandates require, and are unable to assert their authority in relation particularly to powerful state and private monopolies. The performance of some state-owned enterprises and development finance institutions in relation to the development path the state has chosen is woeful. We have not used the capacities of the state, including the massive infrastructure programme, to leverage industrial development in specific and effective ways; and we cannot claim that our incentives over the years have delivered the outcomes envisaged.

Some of the problems, particularly in a number of the state agencies may have been due to the objective balance of forces. But we also have to acknowledge that in some instances, such as the legion of recent fiascos at the SABC, Transnet and SAA, there were critical subjective weaknesses - some of which are a result of activities of cadres thought to be cognisant and supportive of transformation.

The 1998 document argues that our performance had been woeful in terms of exercising hegemony of ideas, a major anomaly when compared with the electoral performance of the ANC. Outside of electoral mobilisation, our ability to engender a value system that accords with the injunctions of our constitution among citizens and cadres alike still leaves much to be desired. Indeed, in many respects, taking into account, for instance, the levels of public discourse and the challenges of corruption, one can argue that we may in fact be experiencing a regression in this regard.

In addition to this scorecard, there are two observations arising from the Ten and Fifteen Year Reviews and the Macrosocial Report that require further reflection.

The first one is about capacity and limitations of the state. The Ten Year Review in particular makes the apt observation that greater progress had been made in areas of social endeavour where the state acts directly and is virtually in full control. This applies to subsidised housing, water electricity and so on. On the other hand, where the state relies on leadership by others, such as the bulk of job-creation, progress had not been optimal.

The second one is about the fault-lines in society and the body politic and their impact on the legitimacy of the system. This applies to:

Overall, all this raises the question whether elements of the country’s Constitution are aspirations that are too high-flown - too advanced - in relation to the level of development of society! Could it be that South Africa needs to lower its Constitutional standards? I am quite certain that there would be howls of protest even to the fact that such questions can at all be posed. The point we are making is that if we are true to the ideals of the Constitution, we should promote and defend them in good times and bad, lest the whole edifice loses its legitimacy.

Developmental state and organisational renewal

Let me conclude with a brief treatment of the articulation between notions of a developmental state and organisational renewal.

The 2007 Strategy and Tactics document asserts that the national democratic state should have the best attributes of a developmental state and social democracy. In terms of a developmental state, it argues for attributes such as strategic capacity (about orientation and legitimacy); political capacity (its democratic nature and ability to mobilise society); organisational capacity (appropriately structured and organised to meet its objectives); and technical capacity (the expertise to make things happen).

With regard to social democracy, the Strategy and Tactics document identifies its best elements as ‘a system that places high on the agenda the needs of the poor; social issues such as health care, quality education and a social safety net; intense role of the state in economic life; pursuit of full employment; quest for equality; strong partnership with the trade union movement; and promotion of international solidarity’.

From the above, it is quite clear that we are still a long way off from both objectives. What is impressive though is the intensity of work to attain these, for instance through the establishment of the strategic planning and monitoring and evaluation functions and work on comprehensive social security.

However, of concern is the discourse on national strategic planning that can have the effect of undermining the original objective. I am referring not so much to personalities because these can always step aside if they’re obstacles to that objective. The worrying tendencies in this regard are:

Overall, it would seem that under cover of what is called a Left approach, we may end up with a system and a culture in government - in terms of co-ordination and integration - that take us back to the pre-1999 ‘federation of Ministerial/Departmental fiefdoms’.

What about the matter of state power and cadreship? In the document on organisational renewal developed by the Gauteng Province, there are four aspects of the renewal of governance identified: reaffirming the Freedom Charter; institutional renewal; democratic renewal; policy renewal; and renewal of values of governance.

I wish to underline the latter - renewal of values of governance - which incorporates: integrity, honesty, service, ethics and accountability. This is proceeding from the premise mentioned earlier that the creation of social relations of the NDR starts with the attainment of state power and that the cadreship has consciously to construct the national democratic society.

In this regard, we will need to nip in the bud the very dangerous tendencies pertaining to the relationship between the state and the party, as well as the challenge of corruption. One can illustrate this through many examples in terms of recent experiences in State-owned Enterprises and so-called ‘deployment’ in some of the provinces and local structures. What the strange practices of ‘deployment’ ignore is the fact that we have asserted that the ANC is the strategic centre of power and it is not meant to micro-manage government - the word ‘strategic’ was used deliberately. It is not, for instance, meant to give instructions on which specific individual should be appointed into a state institution: it can identify persons, yes; but these will have to be processed through the correct state channels as defined in legislation and regulations. Indications from municipalities are that many of the woes they experience today are a consequence of this terrible practice.

Let me conclude, on the issue of corruption, by referring to what one friend recently appointed into a senior position in government calls the en nou (and now) syndrome. He complains that especially unscrupulous business-people are harassing him. ‘Why do you think we mobilised for your appointment during the elections’, they ask. ‘It is now time to deliver’. This is what they mean when they extend their hand and ask, en nou!

But I suppose we will all agree that if state power is to promote the objectives of the NDR, the response of a cadre of the movement to the question, en nou would have be: ’n better lewe vir almal’ (a better life for all)!

JOEL NETSHITENZHE is a member of the National Executive Committee.


The developmental state as a social construct

The developmental state, writes Malusi Gigaba, is a conscious and deliberate social construct, which must lead the process of the overhaul of both the economic as well as political legacy of apartheid. Tracing the global evolution of the developmental state, he argues that corruption is inimical to the very concept of such a state.

IN 1987, in his January 8th Statement, the late ANC President, Oliver Tambo, said to the youth of South Africa that:

"We must proceed from the position that our task is to win a revolution.

Political revolutions are about the capture of state power and its use to advance the objectives of fundamental social transformation. This task must be carried out consciously and intentionally by the revolutionary forces to bring about profound change in favour of the social classes and strata that have gained power.

Without the victory of the revolution, revolutionary changes are not possible. The state is a vital feature in that effort to bring about those revolutionary changes because a new society cannot be built within the existing framework."

There are on-going debates about what is a developmental state. These debates gain prominence given both the present historical conjuncture of globalisation as well as the challenges facing developing countries.

It has been said that every society bears the birthmarks of the old order. Accordingly, the new South Africa itself bears the birthmarks of its past. Meanwhile, the vision of the future society being created is the antithesis of apartheid South Africa. To eradicate the political system related to the previous dispensation is thus not enough; what is needed is the eradication of the entire social relations that gave birth to and sustained that system.

Developmental state: rejecting the neo-liberal paradigm

The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s was seen as the triumph of the neo-liberal policies; also known as market fundamentalism.

Nothing more tragically illustrates market fundamentalism than the current global financial crisis which has been brought about by among others the absence of regulations and supervision of the financial markets particularly in most developed countries.

Neo-liberalism had commenced in the 1970s. As South Africa gained her independence, the notion of a strong and active state was already in retreat globally as the neo-liberal policies stubbornly and fanatically marshalled by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan had become rampant, spreading arrogantly across the globe and obviously defeating developmentalist ideals in the newly-independent states through structural adjustment programmes. This resulted in the total dominance of finance capital which was able to move freely around the world, freed from the burden of regulations and supervision.

This epoch was characterised by the rolling back of the state, the reduction in public and social expenditure and the removal of market regulations. The market principle was thus unleashed and extended into almost every walk of life and penetrated into fields of activity where they did not properly belong. There was great hostility towards the role of the state in driving development, except when it harnessed society in favour of capital accumulation and profit maximisation by a minority.

This ran contrary to the logic of early capital accumulation which required a strong state that could enforce the adoption of the capitalist logic. There could be no doubt that had the current developed countries not have had strong and active states during their early years of development, colonising foreign countries and driving development in favour of the capitalist class, they would not have reached the current levels of development. This simply means that the argument for a weak state today is an ideological construct aimed at further capital accumulation and ensuring the political and economic dominance of the property-owning classes.

Meanwhile, in the book, State Building: Governance and World Order in the Twenty-First Century, Francis Fukuyama argues that the reality is that particularly in the developing world, weak, incompetent or non-existent government is the source of severe problems. Further, Joseph Stiglitz, in Globalisation and its discontents, argues that in developing nations, markets are often absent, and when present, often work imperfectly.

Therefore, the state’s role in managing the economy is not only historical, but also current and pertinent. Fukuyama further argues that “although states needed to be cut in certain areas, they needed to be simultaneously strengthened in others… The result was that liberalising economic reform failed to deliver on its promises in many countries. In some countries, indeed, absence of a proper institutional framework left them worse off after liberalisation than they would have been in its absence. The problem lay in a basic conceptual failure to unpack the different dimensions of stateness and to understand how they related to economic development”.

This prescription proffered during the neo-liberal epoch as the only path to development for developing countries and a panacea for their problems of underdevelopment and poverty, proved itself very fragile and held out a false promise. Actually, in his book, How Rich Countries Got Rich… and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor, Erik S. Reinert says: “History reveals how rich countries got inch by methods that by now had generally been outlawed by the ‘conditionalities’ of the Washington Consensus”.

For developing countries to achieve the objective of development, it is important that they address these vital issues of the role of the state and the market, and where they will get the resources to stimulate development. Developing countries need a strong and active state that will manage the economy in the interests of society as a whole, as was the case in East Asia. But, this state must do more to also address other socio-political challenges health, education and crime.

The East Asian tigers reached their current level of development through a combination of various factors, which included an active developmental, and repressive state, as well as a supporting international environment during the Cold War, when they were cushioned by the Western countries in particular to confront the Soviet influence. Thus, whilst the East Asian model offers much to the developing world as a lesson, the conditions that gave rise to and supported it disappeared with the end of the Cold War. After this, strong states were punished as the dominant view was that the state must be lean and mean, stay out of intervening in the economy and leave much of its functions and responsibilities to the private sector.

Revolution is change

The national democratic society is an act of creation; a conscious, intentional act. It will be the outcome of the revolution, and thus neither will be an accident of, as Jack Simons states it in his book, Comrade Jack: The political lectures and diary of Jack Simons, Novo Catenque, a “‘natural’ spontaneous growth arising from interactions between individuals each seeking their own interest”. Similarly, developmental states are “social constructs” devised by different role-players in a particular society, given their own unique historical, domestic and global contexts, as well as their ideological predispositions.

Uncle Jack Simons says all previous national democratic revolutions especially in Africa, have been political revolutions. He says that national democratic governments hitherto “seldom destroyed the old machinery of the state. More often, they took over the imperialist-colonial institutions, parliamentary procedures, multiparty systems, the courts and the body of laws, army and police organisations, and the bureaucratic administration. They appointed their own nationals as soon as possible to the positions formerly held by expatriates from the colonising state…”

He proceeds to argue that when the national liberation movements hitherto achieved independence, “they inherited the old colonialist system and went on working along the old lines. They did not destroy the old state machinery to build a new one. They took over government and ministerial houses and other privileges. They became a class of bureaucrats. The tendency in many African countries has been to maintain the old economic as well as political system. There has been continuity and not revolution”.

However, because ours is more than the type of political revolution about which Uncle Jack spoke, it has the responsibility to do more than merely working along the old lines, ensuring that there is continuity (from apartheid). Our revolution must destroy the old state machinery to build a new one.

The developmental state: an anti-thesis of the apartheid state

The developmental state is in its essence an antithesis of the apartheid state. It must lead the process of the overhaul of the economic as well as political system. It is underpinned by the vision of reconstruction and development as an integrated process.

Thus the vision contained in the RDP is that: “No political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remain in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life. Attacking poverty and deprivation must therefore be the first priority of a democratic government”.

Accordingly, from the very outset, the vision of the new state was predicated on the rejection of the liberal view that contrasted growth and development, growth and redistribution, and regarded democracy as elite rule. The post-apartheid state was to be democratic and developmental as an integrated process. The vision of the RDP integrates growth, development, reconstruction and redistribution into a unified programme.

Holding one-person, one-vote democratic elections was to be the first decisive step towards creating a developmental state. This was because the RDP envisaged the process of a thoroughgoing democratisation of South Africa in terms of which the people participate in decision-making and contribute to reconstruction and development. Democratisation was to transform both the state and civil society, not just through periodic elections, but through popular participation.

The liberal view has also been evident in the attempt to create a false dichotomy between national reconciliation and social transformation. The latter is portrayed as a threat to national reconciliation as though the continued economic marginalisation of the black majority makes democracy, reconciliation and nation-building stronger. Or, to fundamentally transform society at the socio-economic level undermines reconciliation and nation building.

This explains the objection of the same people who claim to support the liberation of people to black economic empowerment and affirmative action. Liberals want liberation without content; retaining economic power in the hands of a racial minority and a coterie of black people invited by white people themselves to the table of privilege.

Although largely debated, the case of South Africa as a developmental state is apparent in the way in which public policies are made and implemented in the country, as well as the boldly stated goal to eradicate poverty through active state leadership and intervention to achieve the objectives of democracy and economic growth, development and redistribution. This then informs the manner in which the state is structured and organised in order to be able to meet its objectives.

The point we want to make is that:

However, what confronted the new government as it ascended to political power was:

South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy has been characterised by the rejection of the neo-liberal discourse. The trajectory of development chosen by the new government has placed strong emphasis on the role of a developmental AND democratic state.

Whilst not rejecting the role of the market, the new government has positioned the state such that it is able to drive economic growth and development, to intervene in the economy whenever this became necessary and to manage the economy. The debate in South Africa has not been about whether or not the state has any role to play, but has been about the content of such role.

The present debates about the state in South Africa emanated from the concern for the poor rather than biasness towards capital.

It is important for developing countries to develop and rely on their own resources and capacity if they are to fight back against the negative impact of globalisation that result in the entrenchment of their economic and political marginalisation. The question is, how can developing countries achieve this during such a hostile and un-conducive global environment? What role must the state play in the developing countries as the driver of development in the same manner that the state played a decisive, active and interventionist role in the process of the development of the countries of the North and East Asia?

The developmental state must be conscious of its role in society. The choice for emerging democracies such as ours is not whether the state should play a role in the economy, but it is what role and how, bearing in mind the global and domestic balance of forces and the need to create spaces for a gradual, now accelerated and now incremental progress towards democracy and development. The developmental state we are constructing in South Africa is one which is biased towards the poor; that recognises the fact that market capitalism tends to foster socio-economic disparities.

The impact of corruption on the developmental state

It has been said that every society bears the birthmarks of the old order. Apartheid was inherently corrupt as it was a gross crime against humanity. The entire edifice of apartheid was founded upon a corrupt value system that supported, spawned and was itself, in turn, sustained by corruption.

Like the current global financial crisis, corruption is the brain-child, the most natural off-spring, of the philosophy of greed.

None of the objectives of development can be attained if the state of corruption is high in the public and private sectors, and is condoned by and/or rampant in society as a whole. Corruption, of course, is not limited to the public service; it is pervasive throughout society. The very essence of the Developmental State is inimical to corruption.

Of course, this does not mean that to defeat corruption is a matter simply of replacing the old with the new machinery. To believe so would be naïve. A whole lot more is required.

The ANC Strategy and Tactics (2007) states that there is an existent value system within our society, owing to our past and the current social relations of capitalism, that encourages greed, crass materialism, and conspicuous consumption. Among the off-springs of this value system is included corruption in state institutions and society as well as corporate greed reflected in outrageous executive packages, short-termism in the conduct of business and private sector corruption.

Often, one hears the frequent refrain that public servants engage in corruption because they earn low salaries. This, of course, does not stand to reason and cannot survive logical scrutiny. It does not explain why the highly-paid executives of global companies engage in corruption. Neither does it explain why the working class are overwhelmingly not corrupt and why the culture of corruption is so endemic among the well-paid middle-strata. What it underscores though is that corruption is an act and crime of greed and crass materialism, coupled with a low moral ethos.

The largest incidents of corruption in the public service occur among the senior management services among those that earn satisfactory salaries; where large accounts and budgets are controlled, and decisions taken. It is at this level that huge tenders and contracts are issued and where kickbacks are often demanded for contracts and offered.

Ordinary wage-earners in the public service do not control any capacity to engage in corruption at a large scale. This does not mean though that it does not happen or that it is less important or can be tolerated, such as among those that engage in corruption related to identity documents, social grants, seeking kick-backs for services rendered and others. Besides corroding the public service ethos as well as the integrity of the state in the eyes of the public and private sector, such acts diminish already limited public resources and undermine good governance.

In many instances corruption entrenches poverty and by diverting key resources away from programmes designed to improve the quality of life especially of the poor, it negates the potential for development. Accordingly, corruption benefits the few, and harms the majority. It is inimical to pro-poor sustainable growth and development, as well as to the objectives of the development state.

Laxity in executing their public service duties constitutes corruption. Most of the public servants employed in government today are not from the apartheid era, but were engaged during the democratic dispensation. Apartheid cannot be blamed every time some among them fail to discharge their responsibilities or get involved in corruption. Sure, the legacy of apartheid could be blamed, but for how long!

At the same time, corruption corrodes the essence of the ideal society we seek to create which is a negation of apartheid society. Corruption occurs at several levels. On the one hand, a person engages in corruption on their own and without an accomplice. On the other, there are accomplices.

It is to this that we should briefly comment. Often, when corruption happens in many government departments or state institutions, usually the market can be found in the community. Those that place an order or are willing to pay for the purchase of undeserved services are members of communities who are either left no option because of flippancy among public servants in discharging their responsibilities or because they knowingly seek to engage in corruption.

Obviously, if the market for fraudulently acquired services is shut down, the demand side would have been crippled and the supply side would thus be rendered futile. This means that to fight corruption society must pay attention both to the demand and supply sides.

Addressing corruption in upholding the democratic developmental state

Combating corruption must not be seen as an end in itself. This must be viewed as inseparable from the broader goals of socio-economic development. It must also be viewed as a global effort involving the government, the private sector and society as a whole. It cannot be the responsibility of government alone.

Effective anti-corruption strategies must be intricately and intimately linked to sustainable development. We must resist the worshipping of the capitalist value-system that deifies individualism and the material possession as the pinnacle of human success. Only through broad and sustained efforts to create a shared future, based upon our common humanity in all its diversity, can we succeed to defeat and eradicate the value system that justifies such naked selfishness represented by acts of corruption.

Clearly, we need a new cadre of public servant who shares the vision of our government and people; and who can manage the inherent conflict of interest between public and private interest and between satisfaction with what you earn and have and desire for more. This new cadre must subordinate the private interest to the public interest and must accordingly be committed to serve the public with integrity. In this way, we must succeed to create a harmonious relationship between the private and public interest, and treat these two as not mutually exclusive.

But, such a situation would not create itself or be arrived at automatically. It must be enforced through codes of ethics informed by the ethical values of the society we are trying to create as well as other enforcement measures. Combating corruption in the public sector requires both internal and external measures. External measures must include uncompromising and unyielding law enforcement and promotion of good governance as well as punishing those in public and the private sector that either instigate or benefit from corruption. It must also involve the development, implanting and management of an integrity ethos among public servants.

Good governance is fundamental to the creation of a developmental state. This responsibility of good governance is as important for the public sector as it is for the private sector and civil society. Usually, where corruption occurs, it involves both or all of these parties. Business and civil society are usually the market encouraging the outbreak of corruption.

There is a need for the establishment of a professional meritocratic public service that is able to uphold the values and principles of democracy, good governance, and Ubuntu; whilst sharing the ideology of development.

We cannot allow the new dispensation to be indistinguishable from the previous such that national democracy would seem pretty much like apartheid and thus be equally damned.

To succeed in combating corruption, it is not enough that people should fear the law and punishment; they must also be ethical and possess the ethos that makes corruption fail to thrive. In this regard, we need to prevent and punish what is morally wrong and to encourage and reward all that is morally right.

We must inculcate a culture of hard-work in society as a whole; and the leadership must lead by the force of example. At the same time, we must strive to achieve a balance and harmony between both material and spiritual needs.

There is need for united action by all stakeholders such as political leaders, business leaders, civil society, public intellectuals and academics, and others, to expose the root causes of and combat corruption and implant in society as a whole the values of integrity, hard-work and respect for public resources and the common good.

The allegation that corruption is necessarily caused by poverty must equally be rejected contemptuously. Even where they participate in corrupt activities, the poor are often the victims rather than the propellers of corruption. And where they are not victims, they are involved in petty corruption, albeit corruption nonetheless. Corruption is after all a conscious abuse of power for personal enrichment by those who have such power.

The developmental state is not inherently immune from corruption; such values and ethos of anti-corruption must be enforced through all sorts of measures, both positive and negative. Refraining from corruption must be rewarded, whilst engaging in it must be severely punished. This means that we must strive to ensure that people refrain from corruption either because they are just good or because they know the penalty is high and they will not get away with it.

At the same time, as well as good governance structures, such measures as information technologies must be explored in order to preclude the incidents of corruption. Quite often, archaic systems allow for the prevalence of the human intervention which often exacerbates corruption.

A strong and robust democracy is essential to ensure that all sectors of society including the media and organisations of civil society, private sector, trade unions and faith based organisations jointly share the collective responsibility to promote the values apposite to developmentalism.

What South Africa needs is a robust and very public campaign to mobilise communities both to report incidents of corruption where they are aware of it and themselves to refrain from knowingly being involved. In this area, we have not been as successful as we were or are in mobilising people for political causes. Whereas the Moral Regeneration Campaign was a noble attempt, it seems to have fizzled out and its effectiveness was compromised by the exclusive participation in it of religious groupings. Whilst religious groups no doubt have an important role to play, the campaign for the RDP of the Soul or moral regeneration must be broad, itself secular, be spread to youth, women, teachers, nurses and other sectors and exist in everybody’s door-step.

It is not given that corruption should prevail. It can be defeated. For the purposes of building the national democratic society, corruption must be beaten.

MALUSI GIGABA is a member of the National Executive Committee.

REFERENCES

ANC (1987). Statement of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress on the Occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the African National Congress, presented by President Oliver Tambo, 8th January 1987. www.anc.org.za/show.php?doc=ancdocs/history/jan8-87.html

ANC (1994). The Reconstruction and Development Programme. www.anc.org.za/show.php?doc=rdp/rdp.html

Fukuyama, Francis. (2004) State-building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century. New York: Cornell University Press.

Reinert, Erik Steenfeldt. (2007). How Rich Countries Got Rich ... and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor. London: Constable.

Stiglitz, Joseph. (2002). Globalization and its discontents. London: Penguin Books.


A refresher: What the 2009 mandate means for the ANC branch

ANC branches have a more critical role to play in the current dispensation. Besides growing the membership of the ANC and vigorously campaigning during elections, it has to ensure that it plays a leading role in the implementation of the ANC manifesto, writes Siyabulela Fanie.

ELECTIONS by their very nature are about numbers, political parties go at great lengths (some even beyond their imaginary capacity) in persuading the electorate that they are best equipped to attend to the challenges that communities face. During this exercise (elections), most political parties expose themselves to an unfamiliar yet uncomfortable situation of directly engaging with the electorate on pertinent issues of the day. It is during this period that distortions on the content of the challenges facing S.A. take place, it is also during this period that the extent to which apartheid colonialism is entrenched is understated. Every political party during this period claims to be a mass party that cares for and sides with the people, some without any historical credentials to this effect. It is during this period that the historical significance of the ANC is downplayed and rendered irrelevant whilst the impact and the entrenchment of apartheid in all spheres of South African life is minimised. Statements like “You cannot blame apartheid for lack of service delivery” are now getting legitimacy without any interrogation, this now finds resonance even within the ranks of the liberation movement. My view is that the legacy of apartheid is deeply entrenched in all spheres of South African life, and it would take more than just 15 years to eradicate it. Therefore apartheid colonialism has everything to do with the challenges South African majority are facing today.

Any suggestion to the effect that in 15 years of ANC being a majority party in government the legacy of apartheid colonialism should have been completely undone is absolutely unrealistic, and all assertions to the effect that references to apartheid in explaining the context to the challenges facing the country is only an excuse to lack of political will and administrative inefficiencies are mere politicking. A simplistic approach that is now being adopted in explaining challenges facing S.A. is that of corruption without any thorough analysis of the historical evolution of these challenges and their entrenchment, these forces move from a premise that the public service under the leadership of the ANC is inherently corrupt. However I must make it clear that I’m one of the many South Africans who is genuinely convinced that a lot has been done in the past 15 years and that more could have been achieved, also I share the concerns that there are corrupt tendencies within the public service who (to a limited extent) are frustrating service delivery. Therefore in engaging with the challenges facing our government as it seeks to lead our people out of poverty, illiteracy, underdevelopment and racism, a more holistic approach that considers all forces at play (including the legacy of apartheid colonialism) is required.

Another naive assumption being frequently made is that we are a rainbow nation that genuinely share a vision of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and a prosperous country. This negates the reality that there are forces within the main stream of our political landscape that have not bought into this project. Recent events around the composition of a DA led government in the Western Cape province have proved beyond doubt that claims of non racism ,non sexism and democracy for most parties and DA in particular are a merely pursuing political rhetoric to legitimize an inherent racist party for the purposes of getting votes. However history has proved that this is not sustainable, no one can deceive the people perpetually.

The challenge now becomes, what role should an ANC branch play in defending the noble objective of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and a prosperous S.A. in line with its strategic objective?

ANC and Governance

With the ANC now in government, it is called upon (more formally) to lead people beyond its membership. This is a task not foreign to the ANC as it has always played this role, the adoption of the Freedom Charter by the ANC is a testimony to the fact that it has always represented the people’s interests across racial and class lines. There is no doubt that the responsibility to change people’s live for the better rests (and will always for foreseeable future rest) with the African National Congress. This responsibility then requires a particular kind of an ANC as we progressively engage with the struggle to eradicate the legacy of apartheid colonialism. Significant gains that are made in the pursuit of a better life for all poses new challenges for the ANC (this is perhaps another debate, i.e, How dynamic is the Character of the ANC against the revolutionary gains that sees Motive Forces for progressive change continuously evolving?), these challenges include amongst others being conversant with detail rather than broad policy pronouncements.

As the parliament of the people, prior being in government, the ANC discussed and developed policies on all aspects affecting the people’s lives. The challenge is now for the ANC as both a revolutionary organisation and a modern political party to lead the interpretation and implementation of those policies into concrete programmes. This responsibility cannot be left to those deployed in government alone, as this is tantamount to exposing them to the temptation of using their individual wisdom in the quest to resolve complex and daunting tasks facing our country.

By campaigning and contesting elections and consequently being given an overwhelming mandate, the ANC inevitably assume accountability and responsibility for the implementation of its manifesto. The South African government is not neutral, therefore we need to unapologetically ensure that ANC policies are implemented utilising state resources and within the legislative framework that is “supposedly” an enabler to the successful implementation of the ANC programme. In discharging this task, the ANC need to continue building itself as a revolutionary organisation that seeks to bring about fundamental change to ordinary people’s lives through mass engagement in policy formulation, also it needs to balance this against its responsibility as a leading political party in government that seeks to bring about this fundamental change through parliamentary processes. These two roles are not mutually exclusive and certainly not contradictory. Contestation of ideas is inherent in any multiparty democracy, therefore ideological orientation should guide the ANC as it engages with forces against progressive change. This is because the dangers of ideological inconsistencies are that policy formulation can be manipulated against the will of the people by forces against change, and that as a progressive agent for change the ANC will loose sight of its strategic objective thus consequently loosing its relevance.

Tasks for the ANC branch

The historical role of the ANC branch derives from the days when it changed its form of struggle from passive resistance to mass struggles in the form of strikes, boycotts and defiance campaigns. This branch work was even more intensified after the banning of the ANC, through one of the pillars of our struggle, which was mass mobilisation. Branches of the ANC were expected to mobilise the people against repressive government laws, also these branches were to distribute information about ANC activities to the people, and through underground branch leadership coordinate and organise activities guided by the discipline of the ANC. These branches were the first line of defence of the ANC against propaganda of the apartheid state, these branches would mobilise communities to defend the ANC leadership and MK members from apartheid security forces.

Today the ANC branch is called upon to perform the same tasks albeit under different material conditions. The branch is called upon to lead, articulate, defend and actively participate in government programmes, this is the same branch that engaged in the door to door campaigns asking people’s partnership in the creation of a better life for all. All campaigns are done at branch level and so is delivery. Therefore the branch of the ANC must take full responsibility and accountability for service delivery and its lack thereof. Against this background, the following are the tasks of the ANC branch in effective governance:

Understanding the ANC and its strategic objective

This task should not be taken for granted and is at the core of ensuring an ANC that has the future, this involves ensuring consistent induction workshops of new members into the organisation. When new members join, the existing members must take the lead in ensuring that these new members are oriented in the organisation’s policies, strategy and tactics, constitution, organisational culture and protocols. Therefore this exercise provides an opportunity for those who have been long in the organisation to engage with these issues from different perspectives that are informed by prevailing material conditions. Therefore having new members joining the organisation and allowing them space to express their views and perceptions about the ANC is an opportunity that must not be taken lightly. It is worth noting that the ANC has itself undergone change over the decades, people who were recruited into the ANC during the 60s were most probably recruited using different approaches to those recruited in the 70s, 80s, 90s and most certainly in the 21st century. Therefore not engaging in these induction workshops objectively is to deny the ANC an important ingredient that sustains its vibrancy over time. Therefore induction workshops should be mandatory to all branch members and branches should be instructed to have a minimum of two workshop in any particular year. The 52nd National Conference of the ANC passed a resolution to extend the term of a Branch Executive Committee (BEC) to two years, this then means that in a BEC term there should not be less that four induction workshops.

Also in line with the 52nd National Conference resolution held in Polokwane, political education is critical for all branch members, by branch members I mean all ANC members (every member belongs to a branch). The conference resolved “Induction be conducted for all constitutionally elected structures at all levels, and ensure that all senior deployed cadres in various centres of power go through political classes to understand the vision, programme and ethos of the movement. Elected leadership should also attend compulsory political education classes, to aid continuous learning and debate”. Therefore political education is a life long process in the ANC as an acknowledgement that the environment within which it operates is not static.

The strategic objective of the ANC, a creation of a united, non racial, non sexist and a democratic country has a historical content to it and has evolved over time, however engaging with this strategic objective should be a continuous exercise that is informed by the current material conditions without loosing the historical content. This serves a purpose of convincing ourselves that our strategic objective indeed is responsive to the current challenges and is relevant, that we’re not merely reciting what we were told some 20 or 30 years ago. In engaging with this strategic objective, our Strategy and Tactics should reflect the dynamism of our analysis through accurately articulating the character of both the ANC and its programme consistent with this objective. Therefore this should not be once in five years exercise but rather a continuous exercise, such that when the National General Council is convened these issues are better articulated and contextualised.

All members participate in the life of the ANC

A vibrant ANC branch is the one that provides space for all its members to contribute their ideas, skills and competencies for the well being of the organisation, this space should not be exclusively for those who are elected to office (Branch Executive Committee). This vibrancy is further characterised by continuous engagement with the broader society beyond ANC membership in which the branch operates on issues affecting society. Through this constant engagement with society, the branch listens to this society so as to enhance it policies and consequently influences it in line with ANC policies. Our influence on the broader society should be based on continuous engagement even on issues where the society differs sharply with our policies, political arrogance chases people away from the ANC and causes stagnation with regards to ideas generation.

With the exception of the very few, people join the ANC because they have confidence in it as the most relevant organisational structure to address challenges of poverty, underdevelopment, racism and sexism. Therefore when they join, and swear to this pledge “I, ..............., solemnly declare that I will abide by the aims and objectives of the African National Congress as set out in the Constitution, the Freedom Charter and other duly adopted policy positions, that I am joining the organisation voluntarily and without motives of material advantage or personal gain, that I agree to respect the Constitution and the structures and to work as a loyal member of the organisation, that I will place my energies and skills at the disposal of the organisation and carry out tasks given to me, that I will work towards making the ANC an even more effective instrument of liberation in the hands of the people, and that I will defend the unity and integrity of the organisation and its principles, and combat any tendency towards disruption and factionalism” these members are demonstrating willingness to contribute to the well being and growth of the ANC. An assumption must be made that no member of the ANC wants to be a passenger (this does not suggest complacency against forces with ulterior motives), in any organisation where there are members with no tasks, the consequences are more often than not dire. These members get frustrated and start finding tasks (not sanctioned by the leadership) for themselves, therefore every member must have a task and be accountable. One of the reason why people engage in unbecoming conducts in contesting for elections in our branches is because they are scared of frustration, they associate being constantly engaged and useful in the organisation to being a BEC member. Therefore BECs need to develop programmes that are dynamic and engaging to all members of the organisation, this requires that a skills audit for the branch members be periodically done so as to be able to assign tasks accordingly.

The branch also needs to actively participate in ANC internal process of policy formulation, engaging on strategy and tactics and leadership related issues. To constructively engage on all those issues requires that a certain capacity prevail in our structures, this capacity is a result of active engagement amongst branch members and making the relevant material available to lead those debates. Branch members must be encouraged to participate in other social activities outside the ANC, this broadens the perspectives from which issues are approached, enhancing the quality of debates and ultimately ensuring that policy positions adopted are reflective of broader society’s challenges. In line with the 2000 NGC resolutions on the “New Cadre”, the ANC acknowledged then that the complex task of leading the revolutionary transformation agenda requires a different kind of an ANC member with certain attributes, and that an investment into its human resources is critical for it to effectively lead, hence the 52nd National Conference Resolution on having a formal political school.

Branches actively participating in governance

As indicated in the preceding paragraphs, branches of the ANC are key in the contest for elections and popularising the manifesto. Therefore these branches need to own it (manifesto) and ensure that it is implemented, this is because it is their responsibility again to account to the electorate when the ANC wants to refresh its mandate. Therefore along with what the manifesto says the ANC need to structure its branch programme such that it plays an effective oversight role to government and vanguard role to its programme, this implies in some instances having subcommittees that are aligned to those existing in government. However these subcommittees would need to have clear mandate and responsibilities, also the relationship between these subcommittees and respective government structures need to be properly defined especially where affected government structures are led by ANC deployees, unstructured relations may be interpreted as lack of confidence in our deployees. Therefore the first step for the branch is to localise the manifesto and engage with the respective local government to ensure convergence in interpretation. The 2009 ANC manifesto outlines 5 key focus areas which form the core of government programme for the next five years, these are the following:

Certainly these issues are not new and have been at the core of the ANC’s programme towards a creation of united, non racial, non sexist, democratic and a prosperous country as outlined in the Freedom Charter and later elaborated in the Reconstruction and Development Programme. However these are identified as priority issues in the broader struggle of eliminating the legacy of apartheid colonialism.

Therefore at the very minimum each branch needs to have subcommittees that respond to this call and develop a mechanism to engage government consistently on these. Ward committees are critical structures for this role and it should be mandatory for all ANC branches to participate and ultimately lead in these structures, however this leadership role come with responsibility of continuously seeking information on how government works both from legislative and administrative frameworks. Therefore building capacity on these fronts form a solid basis for the ANC branch to play its vanguard and oversight roles effectively, discuss content of government programme rather than being champions of revolutionary sounding slogans that cannot be substantiated with content. However a word of caution to branches and respective leadership in pursuing these roles is not to misuse this important task for settling political scores and pursuing individual narrow interests.

Therefore the ANC branch needs to continuously engage and mobilise society broadly to respond to government programmes aimed at dealing with issues affecting them, these programmes amongst others include ASGISA, SETA programmes, Rural Development and Urban Renewal Programmes, the Expanded Public Works Programme, Vuk’uzenzele, opportunities presented by the establishment of the National Youth Development Agency and a whole lot of other initiatives that government embarks on. This can be done through branches embarking on campaigns to educate our communities about these initiatives, informing them where to get information, how to access these opportunities and as an ANC branch providing assistance where possible. However a branch that is capable of engaging in these initiatives is a branch that is well read on ANC policies and government programmes.

Conclusion

Therefore ANC branches have a more critical role to play in the current dispensation, besides growing the membership of the ANC and vigorously campaigning during elections, it has to ensure that it plays a leading role in the implementation of the ANC manifesto. Each branch of the ANC must ensure that it configures its subcommittees consistent with the implementation of the manifesto. This manifesto should be the programme of each and every branch of the ANC, periodic reports must be submitted to the regional offices on activities that each branch is engaging in towards ensuring that this manifesto is successfully and effectively implemented.

The ANC leadership needs to invest resources in building human capital of its branches, the focus of these programmes must not only focus on the Branch Executive Committees but also the general membership. Therefore the National leadership has a responsibility of ensuring that branches of the ANC are empowered to discharge their complex task of leading societies that they operate in and entrenching the ANC’s influence on these societies.

REFERENCES

ANC NGC Resolutions, 2000

52nd ANC National Conference Resolutions, 2007

Strategy & Tactics as adopted, 2007

ANC Constitution as amended and adopted by 52nd ANC National Conference 2007

ANC January 8th Statements 2004 & 2006

ANC Elections Manifesto, 2009


Through the eye of the needle. A perspective for discussion

Elections, lobbying and leadership transition in the ANC

Why has leadership transition become such a challenge after 1994? Febe Potgieter-Gqubule ecplores this issue, looking at both historic and current approaches.

Background and purpose of document

The ANC 52nd National Conference held in Polokwane in 2007 adopted a resolution on ‘Election of ANC leadership’1 that affirmed ‘Through the eye of the needle?’2 as the organisational and political basis for the movement’s approach to electing leadership, as well as the provisions in the ANC Constitution that allow any member of the ANC in good standing to take part in elections and to stand for elections to leadership at any level of the organisation.

The National Conference instructed the NEC to “initiate a review of the Through the eye of the needle including guidelines on lobbying and other internal practices, learning from the experiences of what happened in the run-up to this Conference” and a process of political education to enhance the approaches in the document. The Conference resolution also identified the need for a second discussion document, which will address the development of a “comprehensive approach to matters of leadership transition in the organisation and government, drawing lessons from other progressive parties in the world.”

These resolutions reflected the 52nd National Conference’s determination that the incoming NEC should make it a priority “to deal with all issues that must help restore unity and cohesion of the movement so that by the time we go to the 2009 elections and the Centenary, our movement marches together in unison”, and “to establish a period of renewal of the values, character and organisational practices of the ANC as a leading force for progressive change in our country.”3

President Jacob Zuma emphasized the critical nature of these resolutions in his Political Overview at the March 2008 NEC meeting. The task that faces the NEC, he said, “… is how to initiate, guide and sustain this period of renewal.” Reflecting on the issues pertaining to leadership contestation, the President reiterated:

The ANC has not, has never been and will never be a faction…

When elected leaders at the highest level openly engage in factionalist activity, where is the movement that aims to unite the people of South Africa for the complete liberation of the country from all forms of discrimination and national oppression? When money changes hands in the battle for personal power and aggrandizement, where is the movement that is built around membership that joins without motives of material advantage and personal gain? When the members of the NEC themselves engage in factionalist activity, media leaks and rumour-mongering, how can we expect the membership of our movement to carry out their duties to observe discipline, behave honestly and carry out loyally the decisions of the majority and the decision of higher bodies?”

Attending to these issues has become critical and urgent. The manner in which the ANC Youth League managed contestation for leadership in the build-up to and at its 23rd National Congress in 2008 and the build-up and events at the Eastern Cape ANC Provincial Conference in 2009 have brought out in even bolder relief some of the tendencies that the 52nd National Conference, and subsequently the President, warned about. It further raised the spectre that these may have taken root much deeper than the movement has appreciated.

The purpose of this perspective is therefore to initiate the discussions on elections, lobbying and leadership transition in the movement, by (a) placing leadership elections in the ANC in a historical perspective; (b) asking the questions when and how leadership transition became a problem in the ANC; (c) exploring some of the objective factors contributing to the current nature of leadership contestation and finally, (d) raising possible solutions for discussion.

These perspectives have been presented and debated in various political education forums since October 2009, but remain open for debate and further enrichment. By March 2010, the NEC Political Education Committee as mandated by the NEC will finalise the responses and the perspectives in a discussion document envisaged by the 52nd National Conference, as one of the papers towards the National General Council in September 2010.

A. ANC approach to internal elections - a historical perspective

The ANC since its inception in 1912 - except during the periods of illegality - allowed for a process of regular democratic elections for leadership at all levels of the movement. Even during the three decades of illegality, the National Executive Committee under the presidency of Cde Oliver Tambo regarded itself as ‘acting’ and the national conferences held during this period as ‘consultative’. ANC Constitutions and organisational rules gave any member the right to nominate, stand for elections and to be voted for. This process by its very nature meant contest among individuals and lobbying by their supporters. It also meant that leadership transition happened throughout the history of the ANC, not only because of generational changes.

In the history of the ANC, we tend to remember and draw attention to leadership contests and transitions that signaled a strategic change or shift in the ANC. For example, it is rather difficult to explain the building of a mass ANC in the 1950s after the adoption of the 1949 Programme of Action, without also mentioning how the ANC Youth League wanted to ensure that they find the correct leader willing to lead in the implementation of this programme. Thus the contest at this Congress that saw the end of Dr Xuma’s term as President (1940-49) and the election of the preferred YL candidate, Dr JS Moroka (serving from 1949-1952).

We also draw attention to the end of the term of JT Gumede (serving from 1927-1930) as President at the 1930 National Conference to explain the emergence (and ebb and flow) of the ‘two strands’ which influenced our liberation movement: African nationalism and Marxism. The leadership contest between Gumede and Seme (1930-1936) is thus described as a contest between those led by Gumede who wanted a united front with the Communist Party on the one hand, and a section led by Seme, who was skeptical about this approach on the other hand4.

There are interesting lessons that need to be investigated further in the aftermath of these two leadership contests from ANC history. For example, after winning the elections for ANC President in 1930, can the dramatic organisational decline of the ANC in the 1930s solely be laid before the door of Seme, or was it also influenced by other subjective factors of the time such as divisions in the Natal and Cape Congress structures and the contest in the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) around the relationship between the national and class struggle? What impact did the global recession and depression of the 1930s in South Africa have on the balance of forces and thus the movement at the time? In the same vein, after being elected in 1949, Dr Moroka’s presidency did not last that long (1949-52), and yet the rise of the ANC as a mass movement continued based on the 1949 Programme of Action adopted at the same conference. Thus, what role do individuals and leadership play in the shaping of the movement’s strategy and organisational development, and how do we judge such leadership?

Former ANC Youth Leaguer Joe Matthews in an interview with SADET (2008:17)5 recalled the 41st National Conference of 1952 held in Johannesburg, where Dr Moroka was replaced by Nkosi Albert Luthuli as President of the ANC:

The following year he (Luthuli) was nominated as national president of the ANC at a very chaotic conference that was held in Johannesburg. A lot of leaders were banned at the time but were meeting secretly somewhere and then you had to have messages going back and forth from the conference to the leaders for ratification. On the issue of elections, the leaders were completely divided about who should replace Dr Moroka. Some said Mandela must replace Moroka; others backed Dr Njongwe, who had become very famous because of the success of the Defiance Campaign in Port Elizabeth; and then you had Chief Luthuli. When the leaders couldn’t agree, nominations were put to the floor and over 50 nominations for president were proposed.”

It is rather inconceivable today that at either National or Provincial or even Regional conferences, we would have so many candidates contesting for President or Chairperson! In fact, it is a measure of the institutionalisation of the ANC that very, very few candidates make the thresholds for nomination to the top six and Presidency in particular. Indeed, candidates that eventually are included in the final ballots at National Conference must have been through the eye of the needle!

These examples from ANC history before its banning in 1960 certainly show a very robust process of internal leadership contestation, more often than not taking place around internal debate and contestations on key strategic questions facing the liberation movement. And yet, despite the contestation, the movement remained true to its historical mission of uniting the people, and managed to harness its structures and broader progressive forces in action, to take forward the struggle.

When and why did leadership transition become a problem for the ANC?

If we agree with the historical interpretation that leadership contestation has been part and parcel of the organisational culture of the ANC, when and why did leadership transition become a problem in the ANC? What are the manifestations of this problem and how does it impact on the ability of the ANC to pursue its mission in the current period?

This section will move from the premise that although there might have been contest around leadership in the movement during the exile years, these were managed to a large degree. Similarly, in the mass democratic movement, especially the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Congress of SA Trade Unions (COSATU), leadership issues did rear their head from time to time, but were subsumed under the overarching task to unite the broadest range of forces against apartheid. The concentration of this perspective will therefore be on the period after the unbanning of the ANC in 1990 and the 1994 democratic breakthrough, when the issues became more acute.

A study of this 20 year period - 1990 to today - will show that current approaches to our management of leadership transition evolved over time, starting at the moment of entry into government and progressively becoming more of a problem. Each National Conference and National General Council since 1994 highlighted different aspects of the problem. By the 52nd National Conference in 2007, the negative tendencies associated with leadership transitions had become part of a subverted organisational culture, and thus the clarion call from Polokwane for organisational renewal.

1990-1994, uniting different strands of the liberation movement: Following the unbanning of the ANC, the SACP and other organisations on 2 February 1990, major organisational challenges facing the ANC were linked to the re-establishment of mass, legal structures across the country, the return and integration of exiles and political prisoners, negotiations, state-sponsored violence and preparing for governance and elections. Cde Nelson Mandela, then Deputy President, described this process in his Keynote address to the National Consultative Conference in December 1990:

The ANC is emerging from the shadows of 30 years of underground existence and is engaged in establishing itself once more as a legal political movement. The problems relating to this transition are innumerable. We have been obliged to reconstruct an entire organisation from the smallest local branch unit to the national leadership structures during a period of very rapid change and high expectations in our country. That the process has been uneven should not dismay or alarm us. That it is fraught with new and unique problems was to be expected. That we do not all see the problems in the same light was inevitable given the differing strands of experience that have shaped our membership, from its leading bodies to the branch level.6

Leadership transition issues at the time therefore related to the integration of the different organisational ‘strands of experiences’ that made up the movement at the time: exile, prison, underground and the mass democratic movement. The NEC meeting held late February beginning March 1990 started this process of integration when it resolved that “immediately the comrades who were members of the NEC before they were arrested, namely Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki will resume their places with the NEC.” 7 The same meeting elected comrade Nelson Mandela to the position of Deputy President.

As the ANC re-established itself as a mass legal organisation in the country, leadership formation and contests during those early years continued to be articulated as reflective of the dynamics of merging organisational traditions and cultures. This was certainly evident at the 17th National Congress of the ANC Youth League in Kwandebele in 1991 and the relaunch Conference of the ANC Women’s League in Kimberley held the same year. Both these Leagues had active Sections in exile, as well as mass democratic formations of women and youth that certainly saw themselves as Congress8. Members from these formations joined the ANC as individual members in large numbers. Both these Conferences, in their discussions on the substantive issues of the day and their roles and functions as Leagues of the ANC representing specific sectors, also had to consider how this would find expression in the leadership they had to elect and the subsequent trajectory of each League.

In addition to the merging of different organisational cultures, strands and leadership, the 48th National Conference in Durban in 1991 also had to deal with the end of an era, when Cde OR Tambo, having led the movement for nearly three decades, stepped down as President. The NEC elected at the 1991 Conference in a real way brought together the different strands of the movement, as well as different generations of the ANC, not only in the additional members elected, but also reflected in the top six officials9. This was achieved through a combination of consensus-building by the most senior ANC leadership around the position of Deputy President, and democratic contest on other positions such as that of Secretary General. The unity of these different strands “brought a dynamic political chemistry into the evolution of the organisation. It has also provided a wide and deep pool of experience within leadership”(The eye of the needle. ANC, 2001: par. 44).

After 1994, balancing government and organisational deployment: The democratic breakthrough of 1994 saw the ANC winning elections decisively and leading the Government of National Unity. One of the issues arising from this period was the weakness to balance organisational and government deployment, articulated by President Mandela in his address to the 49th National Conference in Bloemfontein thus: “Ours was not a planned entry into government. Except for the highest echelons, we did not have a plan for the deployment of cadres. We were disorganised, and behaved in a manner that could have endangered the revolution.”10 The President and the Secretary General in their reports to this Conference raised the need to find a balance between people joining the ANC simply to further their careers and the movement providing opportunities for career-paths for members and cadres. The eye of the needle (ANC, 2001: par. 47) again raised this matter:

Entry into government meant that a great many cadres of the movement moved en masse from full-time organisational work. This was a necessary shift arising from the victories we had scored. However, this was not done in a planned manner. As a result, for the first few years, there were virtually no senior leaders of the ANC based at its headquarters. This had a negative impact on the task of mass organisation. While progress has been made in this regard, further work needs to be done to ensure that ANC structures operate as an organisational and political centre for everything the ANC does.

The 49th National Conference in Bloemfontein in 1994 and the 50thNational Conference in Mafikeng in 1997 saw the handing over of formal leadership positions by the Rivonia generation. It was at the 50th National Conference that the red flags (or still yellow) starting going up. Reports to the National Conference by both the President and Secretary General raised concerns in the context of particularly fierce leadership contests in the lead-up to provincial conferences during the 1996 period; with growing concerns that the intensity and divisiveness of the contests reflected the fact that leadership positions in the ANC were being seen as stepping stones to positions of power and material reward in government. The ANC Youth League in this context presented a position paper to the National Executive Committee of the ANC on Organisational and leadership issues in the ANC, which became part of the discussion documents towards the Mafikeng Conference in 1997, along with a document on “The challenges of leadership.”11. The latter document in the lead-up to Mafikeng introduced the issue thus:

One of the tasks the National Conference is charged with is the responsibility of electing a leadership collective. This is a matter that should be discussed openly within constitutional structures of the movement. Such discussions should be informed by the strategic tasks of the organisation and the challenges that it faces in the current phase. In this process, it is natural and necessary that there should be contest among individuals and lobbying by their supporters. Our challenge is to ensure healthy and comradely competition, so that we emerge from this process united, with a leadership suited to the current phase. On the other hand, if pursued in dark corners, and in a spirit of self-interested sectionalism, the process would degenerate into debilitating contests which divide the movement and divert it from the major task of social transformation. It could also be easily exploited by forces of counter-revolution.

The Strategy and Tactics adopted in 199712 for the first time raised concerns about the tendency in liberation movements and their leadership, once in government, to become socially distant from their mass constituencies:

The occupation of positions of power by individuals from the black majority, and the material possibilities this offers, does create some ‘social distance’ between these individuals and the constituencies they represent. It should not be ruled out that this could render elements in the revolutionary movement progressively lethargic to the conditions of the poor. This is not a distant and theoretical possibility, but a danger lurking as we pursue fundamental change from the vantage point of political office. Preventing it is not a small appendage to the tasks of the NDR. It is central to the all-round vigilance we should continue to exercise.”

And yet, despite the warnings, these issues more and more became a headache for the movement during the next period.

Eating at our soul: The National General Council (NGC) held in Port Elizabeth in 2000 critically took stock of the character of the ANC, noting

“…the Reports of both the President and the Secretary-General, Council identified many dangers that have arisen under the new conditions of struggle. Disturbing trends of careerism, corruption and opportunism, alien to a revolutionary movement, have started to take root at various levels of our organisation. These problems have the potential to eat at the soul of our movement, and to denude our society of an agent of real change.”13

The NGC thus sought to draw on the historic traditions of the movement, reintroducing the primary role of the ANC as an agent for change, its character as a revolutionary movement, the centrality of the branch in communities and the role of ANC cadres. It recognised the urgent need “to entrench the ethos of a transformative morality, discipline and caring among our members, our people and our country as a whole.” 14

However, the momentum of the 2000 NGC was not sustained and the Organisational Report to the 51st National Conference held in Stellenbosch in 2002 indicated that some of the tendencies warned against in Mafikeng in 1997 had become part of a more generalised trend, with organisational positions increasingly seen as stepping stones to government; divisive leadership battles often over access to resources and patronage becoming the norm; and allegations about corruption and business interests of leadership, deployed cadres and membership abounding. These tendencies fed into a climate of division, with debates on urgent matters of the day often reduced to labeling, growing intolerance in debates, and widespread perceptions of sidelining of comrades.

In a number of provinces and in some more than once, the NEC intervened when divisions and factionalism paralysed the organisation and governance in these provinces, dissolving Provincial Executive Committees, establishing interim leadership to organise provincial conferences to elect new leadership. In some provinces these interventions have assisted, but in general, lasting solutions also depended on the general state of the organisation and culture of the movement as a national unitary organisation.

The Stellenbosch Conference in 2002, in the context of weak branch structures and even weaker cadre development programmes, also raised concerns about members and branches being used as ‘voting cattle’ in leadership battles, and the tendency to have recruitment and active structures mainly for the purposes of elective conferences, in the absence of consistent programmes to organise and mobilise the local communities and the motive forces.

This more generally raised the concern that these tendencies contribute to the subversion of organisational culture, evident in such actions as the abuse of the ANC membership system: gate-keeping, ghost members, commercialisation of membership and other forms of fraudulent practices. It also raised concerns about the issue of factionalism - of elected leadership seen and operating as a faction; leadership at the highest level engaging in factional activity; decisions taken outside of organisational structures and of deployment based on factions.

Subversion of organisational culture - the emergence of a shadow culture

At the 2005 National General Council in Tshwane and leading up to and at the 52nd National Conference in Polokwane in 2007 the following other tendencies were identified as part of the same trend of the subversion of our organisational culture: growing disrespect for organisational forums manifested in intolerance in debates; heckling, howling, indecent behaviour at meetings; resolving disagreements through violence; disrupting or walking out of meetings and conferences; allegations of the use of state resources and agencies to fight battles in the movement; elective conferences characterised by lobbying lists, block voting and winner takes-all scenarios, followed by purges or perceptions of purges and the marginalisation of sections of the movement, till the next conference when the next group takes over and do exactly the same; and the so-called ‘left’ and ‘right’ ideological divide, labeling (1996 class project and ultra-left) and perspectives on the Alliance that seem to take us way back to the 1930s.

These tendencies have become so persistent and widespread that they in fact represent a shadow culture, which co-exists alongside what the movement always stood for. It draws on ANC history and symbolism and like a parasite, uses the very democratic structures and processes of the movement to its own ends. Thus the 52nd National Conference in Polokwane in 2007 signaled a grave warning that these tendencies

”…threaten the very survival of the ANC as the trusted servant of the people it has been for 96 years…”

and that such tendencies are

“…in direct opposition to everything the ANC represents, including its value system, its revolutionary morality, its selflessness, the comradeship among its members, its deep-seated respect for the truth and honesty; its determined opposition to deceit and double-dealing; and its readiness openly to account to the masses of our people for everything it says and does.”15

The 52nd National Conference has been described as ‘a watershed conference’ and we now regularly talk of the ‘post-Polokwane’ era. The draft discussion document on Organisational Renewal (ANC, 2009)16 explains this characterisation of Polokwane, by pointing towards the interventions of the Conference with regards reaffirming the centrality of the people, the role of membership and grassroots and clarifications on the relationship between the party and state.

Not one single moment, but over time

The above timeline seeks to illustrate that what we now experience as the subversion of ANC organisational culture did not happen in one moment, but evolved through a cumulative process, which over time begun to cast a shadow over the immense strides we made as an organisation.

The tendencies we talked about have become part of our organisational culture - operating as a parallel or shadow culture - involving ‘old’ and ‘new’ members and leadership echelons at all levels, increasingly leaving ‘no voice in its ranks able to provide guidance’. This subverted shadow organisational culture has the following immediate impact: (a) it undermines internal democracy, cohesion, discipline, participation, membership control and the culture of debate in the movement; (b) it fuels public perceptions of a movement at war with itself, caring about none but itself, whose leadership (bar a few saints) are socially distant and have lost the moral high ground; (c) it feeds into the culture of cynicism about politics, withdrawal from political participation and channeling of participation and protest into other forms of expression; and finally (d) it makes us lurch from conference to conference with leadership battles starting even before the new leadership has settled in and started to execute their mandate.

Above all, these tendencies in the ANC have also impacted on our ability to give strategic and moral leadership to the country, and on our historic mission to serve and unite.

And yet…

Despite this shadow, the movement made an immense impact under very difficult circumstances to lay the foundation for the transformation of South Africa, played an active role in defining a vision of renewal for the African continent and took its place among countries from the South to advocate for a more just and democratic global order. Furthermore, the 2009 election campaign and results showed that despite facing a split from within, the ANC as a political movement still has the greatest capacity for uniting and mobilising the country behind a common vision.

The ANC has also maintained its tradition of self-reflection and criticism; thus the emergence of a critical mass of opinion, uniting behind the tasks of organisational renewal set by the 52nd National Conference in 2007.

Leadership transition in a changing environment

Over the last fifteen years, we have spent a lot of time - not least at successive National Councils and Conferences - on introspection around what are essentially the symptoms or the subjective manifestation of the problem, with insufficient attention to the objective factors and context which gave rise to them. This section will discuss five major developments (there may be others), which form part of the backdrop in which leadership transition occurred during the period under discussions. These are (a) the challenges of incumbency, (b) the global ideological paradigm, (c) the impact of the mass communications and information revolution, (d) the impact of the changes over the last sixteen years; and (e) the issues of party finances.

The challenge of incumbency

The ANC, as it prepared to govern and confirmed in Strategy and Tactics after 1994, identified state power (and winning elections) as the most important pillar for dealing with the legacy of apartheid colonialism and the building of a national democratic society. Thus over the fifteen years we have made immense strides to transform the state, the budget and public service, and our cadreship in a short space of time mastered important aspects of this pillar.

However, “ruling parties are not only shaping political agendas and institutional and economic development, but also monitor the bureaucracy, control the distribution of public resources, and supervise the activities of public corporations. Parties in government play an important role in shaping the relationship between state and society, and between wealthy interests and power.” (Blechinger, 2002:11) The Alliance discussion document State, Property Relations and Social Transformation (Alliance, 1998) thus cautioned: “unlike the apartheid state, the NLM [National Liberation Movement] cannot rely for its political sustenance on patronage and a callous disregard of public resources and the needs of the poor. The democratic state should in principle handle public resources with respect and a sense of responsibility. This includes ensuring that public resources allocated for specific purposes actually reach the intended beneficiaries.” The 1997 Strategy and Tactics document was correct when it noted that the management of this process and how it impacts on the movement and its cadreship, is not simply ‘a small appendage’ to the tasks of the NDR, but requires ‘all-round vigilance’ (ANC, 2002 op cit).

This challenge - of how to use this immense power consistently and unflinchingly for the greater good and in the interest of the most vulnerable - is one that confronts progressive ruling parties and movements across the board and in all continents. In pursuit of this central objective, progressive movements and parties had to content with finding the correct ways of dealing with the following issues:

The patronage and neo-patrimonialism challenge: including how to ensure deployment to governance based on competency and commitment to the vision of transformation, instead of deployment based on factional interests or for accessing resources; how to prevent the channeling of public resources to party structures, leaders or members; avoiding the shaping of political and economic institutions to benefit interest groups or constituencies and preventing undue influence of those with money, connections and resources to influence elections, lobbying and access, in the process seeking to shape the national agenda.

Bureaucratisation of political movements: blurring the distinction between movement and state; social distance between leaders, members and mass base; arrogance of power and bureaucratic indifference; demobilisation of members and mass base; domination by technocratic elites and the professionalisation of politics and a decline of activism.

Statist approaches to social transformation: the people and citizens as passive recipients of government delivery and development; challenges to approaches of government seen as challenges to the legitimacy of government or transformation; movement and civil society structures seen mainly to support government; a paradigm of ‘good governance’ vs democracy.

Corruption: theft of public resources; abuse of position to extort bribes or kickbacks; services in exchange for bribes; business and public office conflicts of interests.

Erosion of progressive values and organisational culture: hegemony of greed and consumption or ‘we did not struggle to be poor’; the nature of social change and growth of inequality; undermining internal democracy by limiting or seeking to discredit debates on alternatives; organisational culture and enforcement of rules, increasingly for expediency rather than principle.

The extent to which progressive movements and their leadership - when in power for protracted periods - deal with the above matters, fundamentally shapes the nature of the society they seek to build, influences societal values and determines whether they continue to play a revolutionary role in their societies as agents of change. Butler’s (2007:1) contention that the ANC’s “intellectual frameworks and political processes - rather than the institutions of constitutional democracy - will forge the society’s sense of collective purpose and make its key political and policy choices,” is therefore not surprising and highlights the historic responsibility on the ANC and its leadership to address these matters with all-round vigilance.

Over the last fifteen years a number of internal policies have been adopted to deal with these matters, including resolutions clarifying the party-state relations and policies such as the Cadre Policy and Deployment strategy17, which was revised and updated by the NEC in 2008. Why these have not been entirely effective in dealing with the challenges is a matter that we will return to later.

The dominant global ideological paradigm

ANC Strategy and Tactics documents since 1997 acknowledged that the South African transition took place in a global context dominated by a neo-liberal ideology, agenda and system of values, which were not conducive to our transformation, the creation of a better Africa and of a more just world. This was not unique to South Africa. Lewis (2000: 21) writing about the democratisation of countries of Central and Eastern Europe note that these transitions of the early 1990s took place in a global context which was “also more uncertain and potentially unfavourable for democratic transition than it was, for example for the countries of Southern Europe during the 1970s under Cold War conditions.” John Saul (2005:15) describes the ‘promise’ of the neo-liberal paradigm as follows:

The power of the nation-state is waning. Such states as we know them may even be dying. In the future, power will lie with global markets. Thus, economics, not politics and armies, will shape human events.The fallacy of this approach - of the glorification of greed and the market, the retreat of the state and politics - is only now generally apparent, as the financial crisis exposed the morally indefensible excesses and failures of this period.

Again, progressive parties and movements and their leadership across the globe had to confront this paradigm, and had to chart development paths for their countries to allow for a measure of national self-determination, which the dominant paradigm of that era sought to deny them. The ANC too had to navigate this period through the policy choices we made and the impact (and unintended consequences) these had on our development path as a country and on our movement.

Influence of the information revolution

The mass communication and information revolution has had a profound impact on societies and on political and other movements across the globe. One of the major developments in this regard is the growing dominance of commercial media over traditional forms of communication between movements and their membership and mass base. As Leif (1998: 281), writing about media impact on European social democratic organisations rather fatalistically puts it:

In today’s media society, politics enter public awareness only if the media make people aware: unless it is popular ‘prime time’ material, politics never enters into anybody’s awareness. Media politics is no small fry matter, it is dealt with uncontrolled, in private. This in turns defines the specific direction of the lobbying within parties.

The ANC in rising to this challenge has often been in the forefront of strategies to engage with this new reality, including the fact that the movement was the first political party in South Africa to start its own website in 1995. It regularly uses research and opinion surveys to aid its elections strategy development, while at the same time emphasising internal communications (through organs such as ANC Today, NEC Bulletin, Umrabulo) and direct communications with its mass base. The innovative use of ‘new media’ was particularly evident during the 2009 elections campaign, and is one of the explanations for the concerted outreach to young and first-time voters. Part of the ongoing challenges of the ICT revolution also include engaging with the rise of user-generated content, and the potential for instant messages to reach increasingly larger groups of people.

The negatives of the information revolution include the shallowness that is associated with instant and constant news feeds, short attention spans and the tyranny of the sound bite. For political movements and parties there is also the challenge of leaders who are made in the media or who have to be ‘media friendly’. In response, organisational programs (and often policies) too become ‘instant’ and responsive and the media is then used to forward agendas within organisations. One of the manifestations of the shadow organisational culture in the ANC of the last couple of years have been the public spats between leaders and the use of the media to discredit each other and to fight internal leadership battles in the movement and the Alliance.

The engagement on the issues of communications remains an important part of ANC organisational strategy, as recognized by the extensive resolution from the 51st National Conference in 2002 on Communications, which also set clear benchmarks. The 52nd National Conference resolutions on Communications and the battles of ideas18 re-affirmed and extended the policy positions of the previous conference, in the context of the battle of ideas.

Changes of the last sixteen years and the challenges of building a national democratic society

The foundation built during the first fifteen years of freedom, developments on the African continent, the global environment as well as the simple passage of time already had an impact on the nature of our society. These include changes among the motive forces, for example the shifts in trade union membership from the dominance of workers from primary (mainly mining) and secondary sectors towards services (public sector), reflecting shifts in the country’s economy and labour markets; the growth of the black middle class and a small, but visible black bourgeoisie; the impact of urbanisation and of internal and external migration; the persistence and changing nature of the national and gender questions; the persistence and changing nature of inequality and poverty; and the post-apartheid generations with their different experiences, issues and perspectives.

The challenges of leadership11 thus recognised the necessity of the ANC in its leadership collectives to embody these changes in the motive forces and our society, arguing that our collectives are ‘melting pots’, which represent and should be seen to represent a “synthesis of not one but the cross-section of various strands and identities. Overall, the ANC should strive to be the microcosm of the motive forces of transformation and in broader terms, the microcosm of the South African nation being born.”

The eye of the needle (ANC, 2002: par. 6 and 11-17) urged members when considering nominations for leadership to ensure that these collectives reflect the current tasks of the NDR - building a national democratic society. This should find expression in the kind of ANC required to meet these challenges: a mass people’s movement, a non-racial and non-sexist national movement, a revolutionary democratic movement, a leader of democratic forces and a champion of progressive internationalism.

The issue of party financing

The issue of the financing of the movement and how this could be used to influence leadership and policy outcomes and the integrity of the ANC is a growing concern. This, however again does not only confront the ANC or South Africa. The research institute IDEA (2003:v) in its Handbook on Funding of Political parties and elections campaigns, notes that:

Parties need to generate income to finance not just their electoral campaigns but also their running costs as political institutions with a role to play between elections. Yet parties, in newer as in older democracies, are under increasing pressure, faced with a vicious circle of escalating costs of campaigning, declining or negligible membership income, and deepening public mistrust about the invidious role of money in politics. Their problems of fund-raising are causing deep anxiety not just to politicians but to all those who care about democracy. The issue of party finance has in the past been dealt with in sharply contrasting ways across the world, but there are now signs of some convergence in the debate. There are at least three distinct but interrelated questions:

How free should parties be to raise and spend funds as they like?

How much information about party finance should the voter be entitled to have?

How far should public resources be used to support and develop political parties?

Each of these questions raises others about the function of political parties in society and reminds us of how much remains to be done, even in some quite stable democracies, to have political parties act according to basic principles of transparency and the rule of law. There are no simple answers about how political finance should be organised.

Mindful of these issues, the 52nd National Conference resolution on Funding (ANC, 2007 par. 63) was therefore unambiguous in the policy positions it adopted:

The ANC should champion the introduction of a comprehensive system of public funding of representative political parties in the different spheres of government and civil society organisations, as part of strengthening the tenets of our new democracy. This should include putting in place an effective regulatory architecture for private funding of political parties and civil society groups to enhance accountability and transparency to the citizenry. The incoming NEC must urgently develop guidelines and policy on public and private funding, including how to regulate investment vehicles.19

WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

“… (it) is critical that we act decisively and with determination on this matter. If not, we will find ourselves at the end of our term of office having to report exactly the same problems that we identified in Stellenbosch, at the Tshwane NGC, and in Polokwane.” President Zuma input to the National Executive Committee, March 2008.

There is no question that the ANC has in a very forthright way grappled with all of these matters and often adopted policies and rules to guide the organisation to deal with these challenges. Why then, despite the adoption and reaffirmation of ‘Through the eye of the needle,” have we failed to curb the insidious culture that has developed around our leadership contests in the movement?

Part of the purpose of this perspective is exactly to initiate a broad-based discussion around this question, because it would be too easy to once again adopt policies and guidelines, only to come back in a few years time reaffirming such guidelines, but having failed to implement them.

A number of explanations have been raised in the initial discussions of this perspective. One explanation is that we have been quite undialectical in our approach - focusing on symptoms rather than the essence or root causes of the problems, thus calling into question our diagnosis of the issue and the solutions. Another explanation is that it is a failure of implementation and enforcement, and until such time that we (especially leadership) are seen to be obeying the rules ourselves and acting without fear and favour in enforcing discipline and the organisational rules, the situation will continue. Others feel that the gaps in our rules - for example on lobbying - leave gaps for opportunism, and we therefore need to develop lobbying guidelines and rules of enforcement. Yet another is that as a voluntary association, the ANC relies on the effectiveness of its structures, its political management and the understanding and consciousness of its cadres to ensure implementation of its organisational policies, culture and rules. The key is therefore political education.

Whatever the explanations, the Polokwane Conference and earlier approaches called on us to consider the following measures as a matter of urgency:

a) Make organisational renewal an urgent priority: Leadership renewal is but a component of organisational renewal, of the process to refocus the movement, its leadership and members on its primary mission to serve and unite our people. These and other aspects of renewal are discussed in more details in the forthcoming paper on organisational renewal20. To ensure that renewal is indeed thorough-going, we need bold and exemplary leadership, a critical mass of ANC cadres committed to the objectives of the renewal, broad-based understanding of the concrete tasks, and a commitment based on the understanding that organisational renewal requires consistency of practice and principle.

b) Draw clear lines between right and wrong, and strengthen and enforce organisational guidelines:

The factionalism that is associated with a shadow organisational culture often breeds intolerance, removing the vibrancy of debate and the mutual enrichment among members that are the life-blood of the organisation. Disruptive conduct in meetings and conferences, including shouting down those who hold contrary views and even indecent and violent conduct, can become the order of the day. If this is allowed to continue, many members will recoil from taking part in ANC meetings. Some may simply let their membership lapse, and all kinds of rogues may take the movement over - with dire consequences for the ANC and indeed the revolution as such.

In the process, the line between right and wrong and between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour becomes blurred, as goal posts get shifted depending on who is involved. Such ambiguity opens the movement to all sorts of opportunistic behaviour. This ambiguity has persisted around a number of important issues, such as corruption, abuse of state resources for factional or personal purposes, and the general conduct expected of ANC leaders and cadres. These blurred lines are often there not because of our policies, but because in practice we do the opposite, fail to act against those who cross the lines and we thus face a gap of credibility, having ceded the moral high ground.

In some circumstances the ambiguity may be because of the absence of clear guidelines. In such instances, we must develop guidelines in the context of current experience, which draw a clear and unambiguous line between right and wrong. Once the lines are drawn, we must act against transgressors, without fear or favour. For example, one such issue is the conduct of members in ANC meetings. There have been incidents where the gatherings of our movement, for decades regarded as the parliament of the South African people, have degenerated to such an extent that it not only resulted in the movement not able to conduct its business, but also undermined the very dignity of the ANC as a parliament of the people. This certainly is one matter where current rules require strengthening and where we need vigilant enforcement, as suggested in Box 1.

Box 1

CONDUCT IN GATHERINGS

In meetings, ANC members have a right to contribute to discussion on any issue, in line with meeting agendas and rules. This includes matters pertaining to debate on candidates for election into any position or selection of delegate(s) to Conferences. In such discussion, members have the right to be “wrong”; but should accept the view of the majority when such a view has been procedurally adopted.

Respect for meeting rules are an important part of ensuring that the organisation is able to conduct its affairs, and to allow all members to contribute to the political life of the movement.

Acts of misconduct in gatherings already in the ANC Constitution (Rule 25.5) and which need to be discouraged:

  • Undermining the respect for or impeding the functioning of the structures of the organisation;
  • Participating in organised factional activity that goes beyond the recognised norms of free debate inside the organisation and threatens its unity;
  • Fighting or behaving in a grossly disorderly or unruly way; and
  • Deliberately disrupting meetings and interfering with the orderly functioning of the organisation.


In line with these and other provisions of the Constitution, the following should also be prohibited:

  • Preventing other members from stating and arguing their points of view, including through heckling or other disruptive activities;
  • Forcing one’s way into meetings which an individual does not have the right to attend, refusing to abide by accreditation rules or allowing such conduct;
  • Suppression of legitimate dissent which is aired in accordance with the rules of the meeting or otherwise generally ignoring procedures on how a meeting should be run;
  • In the meeting, as a candidate, failing to take steps, including interactions and/or statements to stop misconduct in one’s name; and
  • As an accredited observer or guest, engaging in conduct that violates these and other rules of the ANC.

c) Review and strengthen core aspects of our internal electoral processes

The eye of the needle (ANC 2001: par. 18-24) clearly spells out the principles of ANC organisational democracy including elected and collective leadership, branches as basic units of the ANC, consultations and mandates, criticism and self-criticism, democracy as majority rule and the applications of democratic centralism.

Eye of the needle (par. 25-32) also reviews the constitutional guidelines for elections, and the critical role of branches and branch members as the electoral college for all elective positions in the ANC. In general, it agrees that these guidelines - the right of any member to stand and be elected subject to qualifications in terms of track record; the nominations process in branch general meetings; the election of delegates to conferences; nominations from the floor at conferences; and voting by secret ballot - are critical to a democratic organisation, and still relevant. However, it recognised the potential for subversion of these very processes, when it talks about how members should take charge and the critical challenges facing branches, to ensure the integrity of its membership system and the responsibility of delegates to deliver the mandate of their branches, as well as allowing themselves to influence and be influenced by other delegates. A major challenge is how to ensure the integrity of the process so that discussions about leadership take place in branches based on the tasks at hand and the requirements of leadership, rather than simply being roped into support one list or another, without debate and discussion on the tasks of the movement and what each individual on such lists can and should contribute.

Our process is based on the revolutionary assumption that the organisation through its membership and structures discuss the requirements of leadership and who best in its ranks can fulfill these tasks. One of the tendencies of the last fifteen years has often been of individuals or groups of individuals aspiring towards leadership, and then seeking to convince the organisation and members to nominate and elect them, often in opposition to another group - either getting them out or preventing them from coming in. This tendency is counterproductive when it is based not on the tasks at hand and qualities of individuals, but on expediency (getting in at all cost) or a half-baked vision with little intention of uniting the movement behind such vision. Thus means and ends become equally suspect.

The eye of the needle also noted that putting oneself forward to be elected to leadership is regarded as in ‘poor revolutionary taste’ in our organisational culture, with the formal process only allowing for names to emerge from branches or Leagues. Thus if an individual aspires to a position, they can only make this known through third parties: either by lobbying members and structures to nominate them, getting an informal lobby group to lobby ANC members and structures, or to announce or leak such intentions to the media. This often forms the basis of destructive lobbying practices.

We thus need to find a way of strengthening our electoral processes generally and the nominations process in particular, by:

Box 2

RULES ON LOBBYING

A democratic electoral process is about influencing and being influenced by others about the value that a candidate will add to the work of the organisation. As such, structures, members and even the candidates or aspirant candidates have a right to express their views, in the process influencing the electoral process and allowing themselves to be influenced in the process of engagements about these issues. This will take place in informal interactions as well as in formal structures of the movement.

However, no structure outside of the ANC has a right to nominate or lobby for any candidate. While appreciating that the public at large will have an interest and even preferences, which in a free society may be publicly expressed, mobilisation for such support, including setting up of lobby-groups that seek to influence internal ANC processes, by candidates or their supporters should be prohibited.

We should therefore consider discouraging the following specific wrongful lobbying practices, by adding them as acts of misconduct in our electoral rules, including:

  • Raising and using funds and other resources to campaign for election into ANC structures;
  • Production of t-shirts, posters and other paraphernalia to promote any candidature;
  • Promising positions or other incentives or threatening to withhold such, as a means of gaining support;
  • Attacks on the integrity of other candidates, both within structures of the movement and in other forums, save for legitimate critiques related the substance of the contestation which should only be raised in formal meetings of the movement;
  • Suppressing honest and legitimate debate about candidates (on these issues of substance) in formal meetings of the movement;
  • Open and private lobbying or utilisation of the media in support of or opposition to a particular candidate;
  • Allowing structures or individuals to condone violation of Constitutional provisions and/or regulations, and/or failing to report such violations when they occur; and
  • Generally, as a candidate, failing to take steps, including interactions and/or statements to stop misconduct in one’s name.

d) Sanctions and enforcement

Attached to all rules should be sanctions that fit the level of misconduct. Many of these are contained in the Constitution, and include suspension and even expulsion. However, in the context of electoral processes, additional sanctions and enforcement mechanisms are necessary, which will serve as a disincentive directly linked to the context of the misdemeanor, including:

Our disciplinary committees as set out in the Constitution are responsible for hearing and passing judgment on whether someone has contravened the disciplinary and electoral rules. In normal circumstances, the leadership collectives (NEC, PEC, REC and BEC) are responsible for ensuring that the provisions of the Constitution and other organisational rules are adhered to and/or enforced. However, the incumbents in these collectives often have an interest in the electoral process, in so far as they may be candidates or aspirant candidates. They may therefore be tempted to be less vigilant and to look the other way when their supporters break the rules.

Our electoral rules already take this in consideration, with election commissions made up of comrades who are not contesting for leadership at a particular moment and who in the heat of such contests, can draw attention to the broader interests of the movement. The electoral commissions are furthermore responsible for pronouncing at the end on the ‘procedural integrity’ of the electoral process. There is however no such impartial or disinterested bodies to ensure the enforcement of rules throughout the process, thus leaving the field wide open for all sorts of abhorrent behaviour.

The rules proposed for discussion are meant to reinforce the processes started to renew the values, character and organisational integrity of the ANC. They are not meant to supplant, but rather to reinforce, the other elements of this campaign such as political education and induction. As with all rules, they can lend themselves to partial application or perceptions of such; or galvanise an industry of legal expertise to find loopholes of avoidance. This should be obviated through the utilisation of the movement’s disciplinary structures in finalising the details, proceeding from the perspective that the ANC is a voluntary organisation.

It should be expected that, once the system is put in place and sufficiently publicised, it would serve as a deterrent at least to the most vulgar expressions of ill-discipline that we have witnessed in the recent period. Further, it is hoped that consistent application of the system, especially in the early stages, will be indication enough that there is consequence to delinquency.

d) Strengthen and renew leadership capabilities and the political management of leadership development, transition and succession planning

For any revolutionary movement, the reproduction and maintenance of its organisational culture and leadership cannot be left to chance. ANC branches and the Leagues are important ‘schools of socialisation’ in this regard, since they are the first point of entry and (should) provide the most consistent and vibrant forums for members to participate in the political life of the ANC, and thus for the development and emergence of leadership.

The recent NEC Lekgotla21 elaborated on the ‘twin tasks’ of branches as firstly to mobilise and organise local communities around transformation and development, and secondly, as a political school for the ANC to develop, train and maintain cadres and leadership who understand the policies and politics of the movement and gain practical experience in mass work, problem-solving and service to the people. This is the only way to ensure that branches and the general membership remain the foundation of our movement. If we achieve a critical mass of branches that successfully play this role, the process of involving the ANC membership in the resolution of critical questions facing the organisation will be so much easier, especially in instances where decisive action is required to introduce new approaches, or to deal with such problems as divisions, opportunism and corruption. This involvement of members is critical not only in terms of democratic principles, but it is an important instrument of practical political education22.

The Youth and Women’s Leagues, as sectoral formations of the ANC and through their branch structures, also have similar yet specialised functions. The ANC Youth League serves as a preparatory school for young members and leaders, by harnessing their energy, innovation and enthusiasm in the transformation process. As a mass movement of young men and women, it also provides young activists with practical experiences of mass work, problem solving and service to the people. In addition, it mobilises and champions youth interests in the ANC and in broader society. It is therefore not surprising that from the ranks of the ANC Youth League have emerged some of the most tried and tested cadres and leaders of the ANC. The ANC Women’s League similarly is a political school for women, harnessing the reservoir of community activism we find among women virtually everywhere, raising their consciousness and awareness about their position and emancipation as women, the building of a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous country for all, and preparing them to take their place in the ANC and in broader society, pursuant of these goals.

The recently launched Veterans League is a unique formation, an embodiment of the organisational experience and memories of our movement. It should thus play a critical role in the process of political education and leadership development.

The Kabwe Consultative Conference in 1985 adopted a resolution on cadre policy23, which sought to institutionalise the process of cadre and leadership development in the movement. This policy, and subsequent resolutions on political education and cadre development and deployment from Conferences which followed, recognised the importance of the development, deployment and maintenance of cadres. For example, since Mafikeng in 1997 resolutions have been adopted on deployments to government, from the President to the public service to local councilors and on the accountability of our public representatives, because we recognise the role the state plays in shaping and driving the social transformation agenda and that this too should not be left to chance. What has been lacking is a deliberate human resource development programme for the ANC, which encourages and creates opportunities for training and gaining experience in the myriad of spheres necessary to build a national democratic society. The implementation and coordination of such a policy should allow for a more conscious and transparent process of career-pathing by party cadres, and will also strengthenour deployment policies at all levels.

The recent NEC Lekgotla21 also pronounced on leadership conduct, calling for the development of an ABC of Congress leadership, which should spell out our basic approaches to leadership, and the conduct expected from ANC leaders at all levels.

A strong call emerged from Polokwane for us to refine our approaches to leadership transition and succession, including learning from other progressive movements and parties. This should allow us as we approach elective conferences of whatever structure in the movement to be prepared not only to consider the tasks at hand, but ensure that leadership transition also takes into consideration

intergenerational learning, balancing continuity and change to ensure the preservation of organisational memory and experiences, as well as renewal and replenishment. This, according to the Polokwane resolution, should be the subject of a separate discussion paper.

e) Building a new morality and a new cadre

The discussions towards the 2000 NGC (and reiterated in this year’s January 8 statement24) raised very sharply the issue of the movement taking the lead in defining a new morality, which should help us construct and form the foundation of the national democratic society we seek to build. The discussion document “ANC revolutionary movement and agent for change” puts it thus:

In broad terms, socio-economic processes such as the national democratic revolution - which require strategic subjective interventions to shape unique social relations - differ from the ordinary capitalist system and its predecessors in that they do not rely solely on the “animal spirits” of voluntarism, relations of production that evolve on their own. They either stand or fall on the basis of whether a New Person has been shaped in turn to reshape the existing social relations.Our programme is not only about transformation of material conditions, but also about engendering new social values. Failure to build a New Person, among revolutionaries themselves and, in a more diffuse manner, in broader society, will result in a critical mass of the vanguard movement being swallowed in the vortex of the arrogance of power and attendant social distance and corruption, and, ultimately, themselves being transformed by the very system they seek to change. An important challenge, among others, is to ensure a systematic intervention by the ideological centres and institutions of society, as well as women as mothers and the family as a whole in shaping social values and a new morality.”

The process of engendering new social values will require comradely and frank debates about the nature of the society, institutions and values we espouse and live by. It will require introspection and reflection on the role and image of the movement as a leader of our society, as well as self-reflection by its leaders and members on our collective and individual contribution to the shaping of this role and image.

CONCLUSION

Finally, rules on their own will not solve a problem that has become so embedded; we need to engage with the context and the organisational culture that gave rise to these tendencies. The drive for the organisational renewal of the ANC should help pave the way for critical reflection and debate, creating an atmosphere where we can collectively find lasting solutions to these very difficult problems.This requires leadership to lead honestly, humbly and decisively, and for membership and cadres to ensure that we take responsibility for the health of our movement.

As we prepare for the Centenary of our movement, we dare not fail!

FEBE POTGIETER-GQUBULE is a member of the National Executive Committee.

END NOTES

1. Resolution on Organisational Renewal, subsection ‘Elections of ANC Leadership’, paragraphs 52-54 in ANC (2007:17). 52nd National Conference Report, Polokwane, 16-20 December 2007.

2. ANC (2001)“Through the eye of the needle? Choosing the best cadres to lead transformation.” A National Working Committee Discussion document. Umrabulo no. 12, 2nd Quarter, 2001.

3. Subsection ‘Building unity and cohesion and renewing the ANC’s core values, organisational democracy and revolutionary discipline’, par. 71-73 of the Resolution on Organisational Renewal, in ANC (2007:17). 52nd National Conference Report, Polokwane, 16-20 December 2007.

4. See references to these events in for example Milestones in ANC History, 1918-1948, Umzabalazo - A brief history of the ANC and Unity in Action - a short history of the ANC 1912-1982 on www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/gendocs.html

5. Interview with Mr. Joe Matthews in SADET (2008) The Road to Democracy: South Africans telling their stories, Volume 1, 1950-1970. Chapter 1, pp. 1-31. Pretoria: South African Democracy Education Trust.

6. ANC (1990). Keynote Address of Comrade Nelson R Mandela, Deputy President of the ANC, to the ANC National Consultative Conference, 14-16 December 1990. www.anc.org.za/show.php?doc=/ancdocs/history/mandela/1990/sp901214.html

7. ANC (1990) Press statement of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress, Lusaka, Zambia 2 March 1990. www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/pr/1990/pr0302.html

8. UDF affiliated women’s organisations certainly saw themselves as part of the Congress movement and their activists helped to establish structures and relaunch the ANC Women’s League in 1991, including the Federation of Transvaal Women (FEDTRAW), the Border Women’s Congress, the United Women’s Congress from the Western Cape, and the Natal Organisation of Women (NOW). The Provisional National Youth Committee (PNYC) inaugurated by Cde Walter Sisulu in 1990, tasked with the re-establishment of the ANC Youth League, included among its membership representatives from the ANC Youth Section, South African Youth Congress (SAYCO, who constituted the bulk of PNYC members), South African National Students Congress (SANSCO), Congress of South African Students (COSAS), National Union of South African Students (NUSAS), Young Christian Students (YCS), Catholic Students Association (CASA) and the Student Union for Christian Action (SUCA).

9. ANC (1991) Report of the 48th National Conference, 1991, held in Durban and ANC National Conference Statement, issued on 13 July 1991 by the ANC Department of Information and Publicity.

10. ANC (1994). “Political report of the National Executive Committee, to the 49th National Conference of the African National Congress by President Nelson Mandela,” Bloemfontein, 17 December 1994

11. ANC (1997) “Organisational democracy and discipline in the movement” and “The challenges of leadership” These were discussion documents towards the 50th National Conference, Mafikeng, 1997. Umrabulo, no. 3 July 1997.

12. ANC (1997) Strategy and Tactics of the African National Congress. As amended and adopted by the 50th National Conference, Mafikeng

13. ANC (2000). Declaration of the ANC National General Council, Port Elizabeth 12-15 July 2000. www.anc.org.za/show.php?doc=ancdocs/ngcouncils/docs2000/declaration.html

14. ANC (2000) Resolutions of the ANC National General Council.

15. ANC (2007). Opening address and Political report of the President of the ANC, Thabo Mbeki, to the 52nd National Conference. University of Limpopo, 16 December 2007. www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/conf/conference52/index.html

16. ANC (2009). Let’s rise to the challenges of Organisational renewal! Organisation-building towards the ANC Centenary and the second decade of freedom. Discussion draft (short version), October 2009.

17. ANC (1999) “Cadre policy and deployment strategy: facing the challenges.” Umrabulo, no 6, 1st Quarter 1999.

18. ANC (2007) 52nd National Conference resolutions on Communications and the battle of ideas.

19. Subsection ‘Funding’, par. 63 of the Resolution on Organisational Renewal, in ANC (2007:17).52nd National Conference Report, Polokwane, 16-20 December 2007.

20. ANC (2009) Let’s rise to the challenges of Organisational renewal! Organisation-building towards the ANC Centenary and the second decade of freedom. Discussion draft (short version), October 2009.

21. ANC (2010) NEC Bulletin, ANC NEC Lekgotla Special Edition, January 2010. Commission Reports and the 2010 Programme of action: 3.1 Organisation building and Campaigns commission, pp. 18.

22. ANC (2000). “ANC revolutionary movement and agent for change.” Umrabulo, no. 8 May 200023. ANC (1985). Report of the Commission on Cadre Policy. National Consultative Conference, Kabwe.

24. “ANC revolutionary movement and agent for change.” Discussion document towards the 2000 National General Council. Umrabulo no 8, May 2000 and ANC January 8th Statement of the National Executive Committee 2010.

REFERENCES

Alliance (1998). “The State, property relations and social transformation.” A discussion document towards the Alliance Summit. Umrabulo, no. 5. 1998

Blechinger, Verona (2002). “Corruption and political parties.” Sectoral perspectives, November 2002. MSI

Butler, A. (2007). “The state of the African National Congress”. Buhlungu S, Daniel J, Southall R and Lutchman J (eds). State of the Nation. South Africa 2007, pp. 35-52. Cape Town: HSRC Press.

IDEA (2003) Funding of political parties and election campaigns. Handbook series. Stockholm: International IDEA.

Leif, Thomas. (1998). “Who’s controlling who? Are the media being controlled by society, or society by the media?” In Cuperus and Kandel (Eds). European Social Democracy: Transformation in progress. Joint publication of the Friederich Ebert Stiftung (Germany) and the Wiardi Beckman Stichting (The Netherlands).

Lewis, P.G. (2000). Political parties in post-communist eastern Europe. London: Routledge.

Saul, John Ralston. (2009, 2005). The collapse of globalization. London: Atlantic Books.


Morogoro Consultative Conference: 40 years on

Celebrating one of the defining moments in our history

The 40th anniversary of the Morogoro Conference is the right moment to pose the question of whether our theory and practice is still consistent with the view of Morogoro, that “our nationalism must not be confused with chauvinism or narrow nationalism of a previous epoch", writes Nathi Mthetwa.

2009 marked the 40th anniversary of the watershed Morogoro Conference. This National Consultative Conference, held at Morogoro in Tanzania, is one of the defining moments in our history. The Conference, held from 25 April to 1 May 1969, was attended by ANC delegates representing branches, units of Umkhonto weSizwe and leaders of the Congress movement.

The Conference was held at the end of the most difficult decade for the national liberation movement. During this period, liberation movements had been banned, activists and leaders had been arrested, given long sentences or forced into exile. Our organisational structures had been destroyed.

The preceding decade, the 50’s, had witnessed great advances by the liberation forces. The people had been galvanised through the Defiance Campaign. The waves of freedom and decolonisation across the African continent and in other parts of the world bolstered the mood of optimism about our own victory.

Cooperation among the Alliance and the Congress organisations had solidified, negating the very essence of apartheid, proving that various communities can work together for a common goal. The adoption of the Freedom Charter placed before the people of our country and the world community a vision that was diametrically opposed to apartheid colonialism.

The response of the state was characterised by more repression and violence.

By the end of the decade of the 50’s, the racist state had so unmasked its violent character such that not only the leadership, but also the people were convinced that all the avenues of peaceful democratic expression had been violently slammed, and that the time had come to advance the struggle through means including armed actions. Thus the formation of MK in 1961.

In an interview with Tor Sellstrom the former Treasurer General of the South African Congress of Trade unions, comrade Kay Moonsamy recalls that the most vicious laws were promulgated from 1962 including the Sabotage Act, the Ninety Days Law and the Terrorism Act.

The banning of all political opposition to apartheid created a situation where the search for new ways of struggle would coincide with the effort to adapt to life in exile, detached from one’s social and political base.

The adoption of the Freedom Charter had placed an obligation on fraternal organisations within the liberation alliance to ensure that the principle of non-racialism is not only upheld as a policy, but had also to find expression in lived organisational reality.

At the time, only the South African Communist Party had members drawn from the various racial and social divides.

The question of the position of ‘non-Africans’ in the ANC needed to be resolved.

Conference expressed itself unambiguously on this question and said “those belonging to the other groups and those few White revolutionaries who show themselves ready to make common cause with our aspirations, must be fully integrated on the basis of individual equality.”

The Morogoro Conference challenged the organisation to elaborate on the objectives of the armed struggle. Furthermore, the relationship between the political and the military structures had to be defined and understood. And the organisation had to ensure that these structures functioned in a coordinated manner.

These matters were clarified, as Conference agreed that, “when we talk of revolutionary armed struggle, we are talking of political struggle by means which include the use of military force...It is important to emphasise this because our movement must reject all manifestations of militarism which separates armed people’s struggle from its political context.”

It is during this period of the sixties too, that the ANC found itself facing the challenge of building a new crop of leadership to close the gap created by the fact that many of the leadership had been imprisoned. A related question in this regard was the need to define the relationship between the exiled and internal organs of the movement.

Furthermore, the international aspect of the struggle needed to be further understood and deepened.

Part of the challenge the organisation faced in regard to coordination arose from the fact that during this period, comrades in exile were living in different continents and countries in Africa and Europe, and some in the United States of America.

Morogoro defined the motive forces of the revolution. It elaborated on the role of the various components of our Fighting Alliance. This analysis was deepened during the Kabwe Conference to include the role of sectoral organisations of women, youth and student organisations, civic organisations, faith based organisations and others.

Building on Morogoro, Kabwe spoke of the intensification of our all-round struggle. It spoke of full time organisers in the ANC underground, the shifting “of attention from within the black ghettos into the enemy camp,” “disperse the enemy from its present concentration in our urban black communities.” The mood had changed.

Leading up to Conference, the lifestyle and operating procedures of the exiled leaders had been strongly questioned. There had developed a feeling that the home front was not being given adequate priority.

Consistent attempts were made to deal with these challenges. The October 1962 ANC Consultative Conference at Lobatse, Botswana sought among others, to find ways to strengthen the armed revolutionary struggle.

In May 1965, the ANC National Executive and MK leaders held a consultative meeting in Morogoro whose main objective was to find ways of infiltrating MK cadres back into the country.

On November 1966 a meeting of the Congress Alliance sat with the aim of improving effective functioning. Following this consultative meeting, a Recommendations Committee was set up and, among its suggestions was the need for a commission of inquiry to look into the functioning of the alliance.

In March 1969, the commission presented its report to the organisers of the Morogoro conference. The commission found among others, that the leadership of the ANC had lost the confidence of a significant number of cadres. It is also during this challenging period, our first decade in exile, that the Hani Memorandum came about, further criticising the ANC leadership.

Without losing sight of the serious challenges that remain on various fronts, it is fair to say that the democratic era has witnessed major political, social and economic advances. The organisation has scored successive electoral victories.

Our success has bred, among other challenges, careerism, factionalism, patronage, bureaucratism, and has even attracted into our ranks people with questionable motives. The build-up to Polokwane witnessed growing concerns about issues of social distance, patronage and inadequate attention to some organisational issues.

However, if the state repression of the sixties created serious challenges for the organisation, so have our democratic era successes.

One of the lessons to be learnt from this experience is that the organisation’s unity and cohesion can be threatened by both success or failure.

The decade of the 50’s saw great political advances. Those successes forced the state to respond with the harshest means at its disposal. During the following decade, the 60’s, the liberation forces felt the impact of state repression, analysed the setbacks, reorganised, reenergised, and sharpened its vision.

The decade of the 70’s, saw the re-emergence of mass resistance. The 80’s, witnessed the four pillars of struggle then, that is, mass struggles, armed action, international mobilisation and underground network dovetail to create a political crisis for the apartheid state, forcing it to agree to negotiate a transition to democracy.

Part of what we said in Morogoro is the following: We believe that given certain basic factors, both international and local, the actual beginning of armed struggle or guerrilla warfare can be made and having begun can steadily develop conditions for future all-out war which will eventually lead to the conquest of power.

Comrade Z Pallo Jordan once remarked that “national liberation has rarely come in the form that the movement sought.”

In the end, our ascension to power was not through the “conquest of power” but through the negotiation table.

Political democracy availed to the ANC-led government levers of power that had to be used to address the pressing socio-economic needs of the majority of the people.

National oppression expressed itself in the conditions of deprivation under which the black majority had to live. These included poor access to services, like clean water, electricity; low levels of skills, poor state of health and so on.

This formerly oppressed majority constituted the backbone of our resistance to apartheid. It constituted the overwhelming majority of our armed combatants, the civic movement, political formations and the trade union movement.

Since Morogoro we have consistently asserted that the main content of the South African revolution is the national liberation of blacks in general and Africans in particular.

Yet, after fifteen years of democracy, the marches and demonstrations we witness originate from the very communities who are supposed to be the principal beneficiaries of the RDP programme. What are the implications of this situation?

It is important to note that while the conditions of underdevelopment inherited from apartheid have remained, they have done so even when the economy has experienced consecutive periods of economic growth.

Even before the current economic difficulties emerged, it appears that economic growth in our country did not significantly aid the cause of transformation.

The 40th anniversary of the Morogoro Conference is indeed the right moment to pose the question of whether our theory and practice is still consistent with the view of Morogoro, that “our nationalism must not be confused with chauvinism or narrow nationalism of a previous epoch. It must not be confused with the classical drive by an elitist group among the oppressed people to gain ascendency so that they can replace the oppressor in the exploitation of the mass.”

In 1994 we formulated the message of a “better life for all.” This is a slogan that addresses itself to all the people of our country. It captures our short and long term objectives. With this clarion call, we built the necessary constitutional and legislative foundations for our democracy.

By the time we went for our second democratic elections we had recognised the need to build on the foundation. Whether the design had always been a correct one is a matter for debate. However, we all agree that the thrust towards the building and strengthening of a developmental state that plays an active role in the economy, driving infrastructural and industrial policy, bear the promise of a better prospect to realise the objectives of the NDR.

Consistent with the Freedom Charter demand that The People Shall Govern, we must ensure that the people play a central role in the construction of their own country and processes of economic emancipation.

The consultative Conference in Morogoro noted that the struggle was, at the time, in its infancy and a long hard road lay ahead. The observation was correct. It further noted that, the accomplishment of the tasks of the revolution would require the creation and maintenance of maximum unity among the revolutionary forces.

What is the state of this unity today? Has the organisation healed from the strain of Polokwane? Healed or not, what are the implications on organisational cohesion going forward? Is there a danger of us becoming complacent?

Brian Bunting writes that, “The ANC and Umkhonto suffered many setbacks during these exile years. They experienced their quota of desertions from the ranks. ….But what emerges from the strain and trials of these years is the extraordinary political and organisational unity which the ANC managed to retain amongst both leadership and rank and file.”

We indeed went to Morogoro with a fair share of serious political challenges and a dented morale, but emerged with a clear political perspective and a more coherent organisation.

A decade post Morogoro, the ANC had without doubt become a pre-eminent political force in our country. And, history shall record that we went to Polokwane carrying challenges borne of our democratic era successes. We have emerged more coherent, stronger and focused.


Our alliance is a living organism that has grown out of struggle

Speech by ANC President Oliver Tambo at the meeting to observe the 60th anniversary of the South African Communist Party, London, July 30, 1981 (1)

COMRADE Chairman, Your Excellencies, and Comrades,

Let me commence by thanking you, Comrade Chairman, and the SACP for inviting the African National Congress to be a party to this occasion in particular, for the opportunity of sharing a platform with the Communist Party of Great Britain, represented here by the General Secretary Gordan McLennan and with the Communist Party of Ireland, represented by Comrade Michael O`Riordan.

These are our allies; they are part of the international movement of solidarity which gives us strength and confidence in the certainty of our victory. These parties, together with other communist and workers parties around the world, are parties which we can always appeal to for solidarity in the conviction that they will respond.
It is a great pleasure for us, a great honour to participate with them on an occasion of great significance in our struggle in South Africa.

You, Comrade Chairman, and Comrade General Secretary of the SACP,(2) have shared hundreds of platforms together in our lifetime in South Africa and in many parts of the world outside our country. Today, we share a platform on an occasion which takes our reflections back across a span of 60 years, in which we can recall great names that have ensured that our struggle shall continue and is continuing today... names that shall always be honoured in our history.

We share this platform in another significant context, for me in particular. I have the great pleasure today of repeating on behalf of the African National Congress and our people in general, our congratulations to Comrade Moses Mabhida on his election some while ago, to the position of General Secretary of the SACP.

We utter these congratulations with a sense of confidence, knowing his background, knowing his role in our struggle especially in the discharge of his tasks in the ANC, his absolute loyalty and his understanding - profound understanding - of the character of the South African situation and its problems. Confidence because he succeeds one of the great giants of our struggle in the position of General Secretary of the SACP - Moses Kotane: whose contributions alone, to the building up of the forces that can resist fascist onslaught on any scale is acknowledged by all who have worked with him, such as I have - by all who have read about him.

We are confident that you Comrade Moses, will prove yourself a worthy successor, and perhaps in the fullness of time we shall likewise name you among the giants of our struggle.

Comrade Chairman, I should like to pay a special tribute to you today. It is 60 years since the SACP was formed. It is several decades since you have been involved in the front ranks of our struggle, inspiring everyone around you, inspiring younger generations: first among the volunteers in situations that threaten arrest, torture, imprisonment; never missing where there is struggle to be waged. You were awarded the title Isitwalandwe by our nation not as a formality but in recognition of your services. This was more than 25 years ago. Your presence here, and chairmanship of this particular meeting, enables us to recall with great clarity the various revolutionaries with whom you associated in your period of service to our people and our country.

On this the 60th anniversary of the founding of the South African Communist Party, I bring the greetings and felicitations of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress, and the good wishes of all those engaged in the liberation struggle and all the oppressed in South Africa.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the women`s great march to Pretoria - the march of our gallant women. It is the year that carries with it the 20th anniversary of the founding of Umkhonto we Sizwe. It is the year of the youth of our country. We hail the SACP in the name of these contingents of our army of liberation which together with the SACP comprise a fighting alliance that represents the power of the South African revolution in the making.

We salute the SACP, particularly in the name of the combatants who have fallen in the course of our struggle as well on behalf of the national leaders and militants presently held in the enemy`s prisons.

We congratulate the SACP on this occasion, particularly for the dedication and commitment of its leaders and cadres that has ensured its survival these 60 years, despite intensive repression and desperate attempts to destroy it.

We applaud your achievements, for the SACP has not only survived, but is today stronger, and increasingly makes more significant contributions to the liberation struggle of our people.

The ANC speaks here today, not so much as a guest invited to address a foreign organisation. Rather we speak of and to our own. For it is a matter of record that for much of its history, the SACP has been an integral part of the struggle of the African people against oppression and exploitation in South Africa. We can all bear witness that in the context of the struggle against colonial structures and racism, and the struggle for power by the people, the SACP has been fighting with the oppressed and exploited.

Notwithstanding that it has had to concentrate on thwarting the efforts to destroy it, cadres of the SACP have always been ready to face the enemy in the field. Because they have stood and fought in the front ranks, they have been amongst those who have suffered the worst brutalities of the enemy, and some of the best cadres have sacrificed their lives.

And so, your achievements are the achievements of the liberation struggle. Your heroes are ours. Your victories, those of all the oppressed.

The relationship between the ANC and the SACP is not an accident of history, nor is it a natural and inevitable development. For, as we can see, similar relationships have not emerged in the course of liberation struggles in other parts of Africa.

To be true to history, we must concede that there have been difficulties as well as triumphs along our path, as, traversing many decades, our two organisations have converged towards a shared strategy of struggle. Ours is not merely a paper alliance, created at conference tables and formalised through the signing of documents and representing only an agreement of leaders. Our alliance is a living organism that has grown out of struggle. We have built it out of our separate and common experiences. It has been nurtured by our endeavours to counter the total offensive mounted by the National Party in particular against all opposition and against the very concept of democracy. It has been strengthened through resistance to the vicious onslaught against both the ANC and the SACP by the Pretoria regime; it has been fertilised by the blood of the countless heroes; many of them are unnamed and unsung. It has been reinforced by a common determination to destroy the enemy and by our shared belief in the certainty of victory.

This process of building the unity of all progressive and democratic forces in South Africa through united and unified action received a particularly powerful impetus from the outstanding leadership of Isitwalandwe Chief Albert J Luthuli, as President-General of the ANC. The process was assisted and supported by the tried and tested leadership of such stalwart revolutionaries as Isitwalandwe Yusuf Dadoo and Isitwalandwe the late Moses Kotane, revolutionaries of the stature of J.B. Marks and Bram Fischer.

Today the ANC and SACP have common objectives in the eradication of the oppressive and exploitative system that prevails in our country: the seizure of power and the exercise of their right of self-determination by all the people of South Africa. We share a perspective of the task that lies ahead.

Our organisations have been able to agree on fundamental strategies and tactical positions, whilst retaining our separate identities. For though we are united in struggle, as you have already pointed out Comrade Chairman, we are not the same. Our history has shown that we are a powerful force because our organisations are mutually reinforcing.

It is often claimed by our detractors that the ANC`s association with the SACP means that the ANC is being influenced by the SACP. That is not our experience. Our experience is that the two influence each other. The ANC is quite capable of influencing, and is liable to be influenced by others. There has been the evolution of strategy which reflects this two way process.

In fact the ANC was quite within its rights to tell the SACP that we are sorry we cannot release Comrade Moses Mabhida from his tasks in the ANC - find another comrade to be General Secretary. Yet we agreed he would make a good General Secretary for the SACP. He was not grabbed.

This kind of relationship constitutes a feature of the South African liberation movement, a revolutionary movement, a feature of the SACP which helps to reinforce the alliance and to make it work as it is working. It is a tribute to the leadership of the SACP.

We are therefore talking of an alliance from which, in the final analysis, the struggle of the people of South Africa for a new society and a new social system has benefited greatly.

Within our revolutionary alliance each organisation has a distinct and vital role to play. A correct understanding of these roles, and respect for their boundaries has ensured the survival and consolidation of our cooperation and unity.

As stated in its programme, the SACP unreservedly supports and participates in the struggle for national liberation led by the ANC, in alliance with the South African Indian Congress, the Congress of Trade Unions, the Coloured People`s Congress and other patriotic groups of democrats, women, peasants and youth.

The strategy of the African National Congress sees the main content of the South African revolution as the liberation of the largest and most oppressed group: namely the black population. And by black I do not mean what our enemies have elected to designate as black - namely just the Africans. By black, we mean all the oppressed. Those who were formerly called non-whites and which we prefer to call black.

Of course, it does not suit the enemy to club all the oppressed and exploited together. It is better for the enemy that this vast majority be split up into what they call blacks and then Indians and Coloureds. That fits their strategy - serves the interests of their strategy best. But I am talking about the oppressed population as the blacks.

Whilst concerned to draw in, and unify, all progressive and democratic forces in the country, including those amongst the whites, our priority remains the maximum mobilisation of those who are the dispossessed, the exploited and the racially oppressed.

That is only a priority, for we recognise that victory requires that we build up maximum unity of the forces for progress. Indeed we need to break up this white racist clique, win friends from among the ruling class and isolate the fascists. Then a united people of South Africa can deliver the final blow, crush the colonialist structures and move to a new South Africa.

The poverty of our people, the incidents of malnutrition, unemployment and other manifestations of the criminal policy, the criminal system under which we live, demand that our people should fight with everything they have, all the time, to destroy the system. To this end the ANC has called upon the people to resist this oppressive and exploitative system at every level, using every occasion and every means at their disposal. And the response has been nationwide. People in all walks of life and races have banded together in opposition to the fascist regime. Almost every township has been faced with rent strikes and other forms of resistance. Fare increases are met with boycotts. Youth and students have maintained their action against the education system and found widespread support from parents.

Though many of these actions are local and focus on immediate issues, they are not directed at seeking piece meal and at best temporary redress. These actions are not an end in themselves but they are part of the struggle for a new social system in our country.

The ANC has called upon and encouraged workers to use their labour power, not only to improve wages and working conditions, but also to destroy the exploitative system itself. Workers have been and are responding to this call. In the process, employers have been dismissing large numbers of the poorly paid and brutally exploited strikers.

The right of the workers to withhold their labour is universally recognised as fundamental. The ANC is determined to defend the right of South African workers to strike - especially the black workers. Firms which victimise strikers do so at their peril. They must be made aware that they dismiss their workers at the risk of dismissing their profits. The ANC intends to see to it that the workers right to strike is defended.

The objective of our struggle in South Africa, as set out in the Freedom Charter, encompasses economic emancipation. It is inconceivable for liberation to have meaning without a return of the wealth of the country to the people as a whole. To allow the existing economic forces to retain their interests intact is to feed the roots of racial supremacy and exploitation, and does not represent even the shadow of liberation.

It is therefore a fundamental feature of our strategy that victory must embrace more than formal political democracy; and our drive towards national emancipation must include economic emancipation.

Mr. Chairman, exploitation and repression are brutal. But they have not deterred or cowered us. On the contrary, throughout the country, the struggle is generating a climate of defiance, in which people are going into action without thought of torture, arrest or even death. They are asserting their right to freedom of association and speech, their right to strike, and most importantly for the right to govern.

They do so in the context of a mass struggle which demonstrates the success of our strategy of reinforcing popular actions with armed force - as was shown most forcibly during the nationwide campaign of boycott and rejection of the white republic in May of this year.

The ANC and its allies recognise that in our situation in South Africa armed struggle is an absolute imperative. But we have always seen mass mobilisation as essential to the growth and development of armed struggle. We acclaim it as an achievement, that in both areas of activity - mass struggle as well as armed action - there is now ample evidence of growth and expansion.

Umkhonto we Sizwe has emerged as a force to reckon with. And yet, we all know that before we can hope to bring the enemy down, the scope and scale, as well as the quality of the operations of this our people`s army, must be greatly stepped up. Umkhonto we Sizwe has won its first great victory - namely, that the enemy has proved unable to stop its growth, its expansion and the increasingly effective striking powers of our guerrilla army.

That is a victory we must build on. To say that is to pronounce the challenge posed for our revolutionary alliance. Unless we build on that victory we will lose the victory itself.

For even as the unity of the oppressed has grown and strengthened so too has the offensive against us. As we stand poised for new advances, the onslaught grows more fierce.

As the apartheid regime has sought ways to preserve itself, power in South Africa has increasingly become concentrated in the hands of a particularly dangerous and authoritarian politico-military clique, which tries to retain control through the unashamed and overt use of institutionalised violence and the escalation of brutal repression. Not content with waging war against the South African and Namibian people, the regime has embarked upon an undeclared war against neighbouring States.

In repeated breaches of the United Nations Charter and of international law, the territorial integrity of Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe is violated by the regime, the political stability of independent States subverted, and economic development retarded and sabotaged.

In opening this meeting, Comrade Chairman, you have drawn our attention to the new crime of aggression against the People`s Republic of Angola. We should like to especially associate the ANC with the resolution adopted here today. And to add, that in our view Angola`s closest friends should rally to her defence, and that Africa must act against the aggression against Africa. We consider the situation demands an emergency meeting of the OAU to decide upon concerted measures to be taken to drive South African troops out of Angola and out of Namibia.

We should not omit to emphasise and underscore the special role of the new Administration in the United States in relation to this aggression. There has been some consistency in the behaviour of the South African regime ever since Mr. Reagan appeared on the scene. The first signs of a new arrival in the arena of international relations was the fact of the Geneva Conference being torpedoed.

A state has been reached when all concerned had agreed including South Africa, and at that moment the Reagan Administration appeared on the scene. The first evidence of that was the collapse of that Geneva Conference. It was succeeded by an attack on Angola; an attack, an invasion against Mozambique when our people were butchered and assassinated in Matola.

Now as pressure grows for the implementation of Resolution 435 to resolve and finalise the Namibian question, the greatest ever invasion is mounted against Angola - the greatest certainly, since the mid-1970s. Backing all this up is surely that Administration which proclaims itself as an ally of South Africa, which labelled the national liberation movement as international terrorism to be eliminated and liquidated. It is in pursuance of that policy that by way of liquidating SWAPO, the South African regime is being assisted and encouraged and equipped to try and destroy Angola.

In condemning this aggression, we must also condemn with equal vigour the allies of the criminal regime in South Africa.

For our part, we declare our indissoluble unity with the people of Namibia in their struggles. We support SWAPO and we will do everything in our power to ensure the success of their struggle.

We have in the past declared our solidarity with the peoples of southern Africa, especially when they come under attack by our immediate enemy. We proclaim this support today for the people of Angola.

The ANC has received and continues to receive international support and solidarity from a variety of sources. We must today acknowledge especially, with appreciation, the very significant support we receive from the socialist countries. You have mentioned many of these countries - all of them without exception have given freely by way of supporting our struggle and meeting our demands.

We appreciate in particular that they and some African countries have not hesitated to deliver weapons to peoples fighting for their liberation. The enemy likes to squeal that we have been fighting with either Soviet-made weapons, or Communist-made weapons. It does not matter what made weapons they are. But we are glad to have them, and shall continue to use them if they are effective - and they are.

This support has been given during the liberation struggles in southern Africa and the rest of Africa and has been extended to the independent States that have been forced to defend their own victories.

The devastation wreaked in southern Africa by the Pretoria regime places an added responsibility upon the liberation movement. For it is only after the seizure of power in Pretoria, that the people of southern Africa will be able to concentrate all their energies and resources into consolidating their independence, furthering economic development and promoting social change. Until the Pretoria regime is defeated in Namibia and South Africa, there are no prospects for peace and security in southern Africa... and the defeat of that regime is precisely the task of the ANC, SACP and all the peoples of South Africa who have committed themselves to the struggle for total liberation.

For the revolutionary movement, anniversaries cannot only celebrate the past. We must recall and acclaim our history, but more importantly, we must use the past to arm ourselves for the future: to learn lessons and to strengthen our resolve and commitment.

The founders of the African National Congress vested in the organisation the historic responsibility of uniting the South African nation across the boundaries of colour, race and creed. That task has devolved upon each of our members and cadres, and to it has been added the isolation of the Pretoria regime and the mobilisation of the widest possible support for our liberation struggle.

The ANC`s capacity to unite our people and to lead a unified liberation struggle is one of our most formidable weapons, and it is consequently a prime target of the enemy.

It is only as a united force that we can move forward.

It is as a united people that we shall be victorious.

To move forward, we need to move forward toward victory. An essential of forward movement is that we should together work for the highest level of mobilisation of our people inside South Africa and of the international community. For the consolidation and expansion of our underground organisation in our country, we should aim at planting Umkhonto we Sizwe and spreading it among the popular masses, so that the masses become the active expression of our armed struggle.

We need to work together for the fulfilment of the objectives elaborated in the Freedom Charter.

We need, in other words, to consolidate further our alliance and ensure its maximum effectiveness.

Long Live the SACP!
Long Live the Alliance between the ANC and SACP!
Long Live the Unity of all Progressive and Democratic Forces in our own Country and in the rest of the World!

END NOTES

1 From: Sechaba, September 1981; also in African Communist, No. 87, Fourth Quarter 1981. Dr. Yusuf M. Dadoo presided over the meeting.
2 Moses Mabhida


United Nations

South Africa’s historic membership of the UN Security Council

In the coming years, perhaps even sooner, South Africa will be offered another opportunity to serve as an elected member of the Security Council. Until then, South Africa will have to continue to analyse and internalise the lessons learned from the historic term of 2007-2008, writes Dumisani S. Kumalo, Sipho Seakamela and Zaheer Laher.

ON 31 December 2008, South Africa completed its first ever two-year term as an elected Member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). As one of the founding members of the United Nations in 1945, South Africa was among the last of the original 51 States to assume its responsibility to serve in the UN organ mandated to global address international peace and security.

An overwhelming 187 Members States of the General Assembly voted for South Africa to enter the Security Council, a vote that was only five Members short of the unanimous endorsement of the entire UN community. With such tremendous support, South Africa found itself facing equally awesome, and often contradictory, expectations.

For African countries, South Africa’s UNSC seat offered a rare opportunity to further advance the African Agenda and pursue principles of the rules-based multilateral system and the respect for international law as the most appropriate means of achieving fair global political stability and security.

Among some western powers, there were equally high expectations and even projected hopes and desires aimed at South Africa that was viewed as a partner in addressing an agenda that was not necessarily in line with the priorities of the African continent, or even South Africa itself.

On assuming Membership in the UNSC, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, South Africa’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said on 2 January 2007 that “we do so conscious and convinced that the multilateral system of global governance remains the only hope for challenges facing humanity today. And in pursuance thereof, South Africa will strive in conjunction with the African Union, to create synergies between the work of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) and the UNSC with a view to the prevention of outbreaks of violence and conflict in the continent.”

In those remarks, Minister Dlamini Zuma captured the dilemma South Africa faced in trying to achieve an “impossible” balance between differing expectations while at the same time respecting and upholding the UN Charter and the responsibilities of various UN organs and institutions.

Despite the enormous pressure, South Africa chose to uphold the Charter mandate of the UNSC, i.e. “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security”.

In its inaugural debate and vote as a Member of the UNSC, South Africa led the discussions on the unanimous renewal of the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI). Besides this matter being a priority for the African Union (AU), the extension of the UNOCI mandate made it possible for South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki, acting on behalf of the AU, to conclude facilitating the peace negotiations among the Ivorian parties.

Today, Cote d’Ivoire enjoys peace and stability that has made it possible for the Ivorian Government of National Unity to announce its intention to hold democratic elections at the end of November 2009.

Also, consistent with the previous Summits decisions of the AU, South Africa dedicated its two Presidencies of the UNSC in March 2007 and April 2008 respectively, to highlight the need for a strengthened cooperation between the AU and the UN. Besides co-leading two Security Council Missions to Addis Ababa and other Africa countries, South Africa was instrumental in launching and institutionalizing the working meetings between the AUPSC and UNSC. These initiatives were followed by an unprecedented meeting bringing together the Heads of State and Government of the UNSC countries and African countries that were on the agenda of the Security Council.

As result of these consultations, South Africa introduced a ground breaking resolution that was unanimously adopted by the UNSC on exploring possible mechanisms to finance peacekeeping missions undertaken by the AU on behalf of the international community. Until then, Africa was left to intervene in conflicts on the continent relying on its own resources until the Security Council decided to authorize a UN peacekeeping force paid for with assessed contributions of the UN Membership. With this resolution, the UN was mandated to find ways in which the African Union would also receive predictable and uninterrupted funding when acting on behalf of the international community in helping resolve African conflicts.

Membership in the UNSC also provided a valuable platform for intensifying the work South Africa had already undertaken on behalf of the AU in helping resolve conflicts in Sudan, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This included the lifting of an arms embargo that had been imposed on Rwanda despite its tragic experience of genocide. “Experience on the UNSC had shown that it was often very difficult for matters to be removed from the agenda of the Council even long after conflicts had ended, particularly if any one of the Permanent Members was insistent on it remaining. The situation of Rwanda proved to be an example of this power play by one of the Permanent Members.

South Africa’s efforts in the UNSC were not only limited to the African continent. In line with its approach to help create an enabling environment in which the parties themselves might achieve reconciliation through dialogue, South Africa was voted to become the Council’s lead nation on UNSC efforts to assist Timor-Leste achieve peace and stability following the tragic internal political crisis in 2006. Today Timor-Leste has a stable government following presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007. Also, our support for political transition in Nepal led to the holding of democratic elections that saw the Nepalese opposition Maoist party elected.

The most frustrating experience of our UNSC membership was being unable to make any significant breakthrough on the issue of Palestine. There were several occasions when 14 Members of the Council were ready to act in pursuant of the UN Charter mandate to ensure the maintenance of international peace and security, but the threatened veto of the United States prevented any action whatsoever. This was particularly painful during the time when the people of Gaza were being bombed by Israeli war planes. During this awful time, the 15 Members of the Council were rendered useless because the United States of America did not want to see Israel condemned for its brutal actions.

Notwithstanding the successes associated with South Africa’s membership of the UNSC, there were several challenges and lessons learned from the country’s tenure on the UNSC. Key among the challenges was dealing with the dominant role of the Permanent Members in the conduct of UNSC business. While most of the non-permanent members, including South Africa, spent their initial months in the Council grappling with fundamental issues such as working methods and procedures, the Permanent Members enjoyed the advantage of possessing mastery of the tactics and practices of the Council, including institutional memory gained over decades of their membership.

Ironically, toward the end of the two year membership when the elected Members fully understand the rules and diplomatic games played in the Council, it is time to vacate our seats for the next Members who have to learn the game all over again.

Also, it was instructive to learn how the powerful Members of the Council, particularly the Western countries, had an added advantage of communicating their positions in the Security Council not only in their own countries but also in the countries of the elected Members of the Council. This advantage became apparent when South Africa took positions in the Council that ran counter to the hopes and expectations of some of the powerful Members, especially the Permanent Members.

During South Africa’s tenure, the UNSC considered 121 draft resolutions and statements addressing various situations around the world. South Africa supported or voted in favor of 118 of those decisions. The three occasions when South Africa dissented was in voting against resolutions on Myanmar and Zimbabwe and abstaining on a resolution that sought to establish a tribunal against the will of a democratically elected Lebanese National Parliament.

Yet, many people have sought to define South Africa’s Membership of the Council solely on the three dissenting votes than on the overall record of the two year membership.

Perhaps there is no issue that attracted more controversy for South Africa’s membership than the deteriorating political situation in Zimbabwe. The pressure became even more intense after the disputed Zimbabwe elections in March 2008. Although situation in Zimbabwe did not qualify under the Charter-based Security Council mandate as it was not deemed a threat to international peace and security by any one, including the Secretary-General of the United Nations, this did not prevent the three Permanent Members - the United States, the United Kingdom and France - supported by the non-permanent members Belgium and Croatia, to insist that Zimbabwe be added to the agenda of the Security Council. South Africa and the rest of the Members of the Council supported having the UN Secretary-General periodically brief the Security Council on the situation in Zimbabwe as a means to have the UNSC continue to assess the possible threat that was alleged. At the same time, South Africa and other Members of the Council, particularly Indonesia, Libya and Vietnam, were opposed to using the unfortunate political situation in Zimbabwe and the terrible humanitarian conditions as an excuse to place that country on the agenda of the Council.

Placing Zimbabwe on the agenda of the Security Council would not only be against the Charter of the United Nations but would have meant that Zimbabwe would be forever on the Council agenda, even if the situation in that country changed for the better. And as stated earlier, our experience on the UNSC had shown that it was often very difficult for matters to be removed from the agenda of the Council even long after conflicts have ended, particularly if anyone of the Permanent Members were insistent on it remaining. In the case of Zimbabwe, three powerful Permanent Members had openly expressed their desires that went beyond the fact that there had been a disputed election in that country.

Besides, South Africa was facilitating a peaceful process on behalf of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) aimed at assisting Zimbabweans find a solution to their problems, while not in any way condoning the political and humanitarian conditions that prevailed in that country. Furthermore, South Africa had to be continuously mindful of the effects that any UNSC action would have on the fragile peace process, whose collapse could have had devastating consequences for the entire sub-region.

Today, Zimbabwe has a Government of National Unity, which although fragile, has been hailed as the best hope for that country. And many of those who criticized South Africa’s position still remain unsatisfied.

Perhaps, South Africa’s major lesson during our membership to the UNSC was our own inability to successfully communicate South Africa’s positions and objectives in the Council. The role and utilization of the media during this time proved to be an area of great challenge. In most instances, the South Africa media was inadequately informed about UNSC workings and processes. As a result, most of the coverage of the UN often failed to distinguish between the UNSC, UN General Assembly and other relevant UN organs including their respective mandates and responsibilities.

Understandably, most South African media outlets were not represented in New York and therefore relied on third party sources or even wire stories that carried an inbuilt bias by the time they reached South Africa. Often, the bias was reinforced by the spin doctors of the Permanent Members dedicated to brief the media regularly on their particular positions. Again, the Zimbabwe case is a clear example of this.

The only exception was the SABC News that had a bureau that broadcast to South African stories that were often not carried in local newspapers. The manner in which the SABC fulfilled its role as the public broadcaster during 2007-2008 in New York is highly commendable and must not be forgotten. Many South Africans came to learn about the UN through the many SABC broadcasts. Unfortunately, many did so without a basic knowledge and understanding of this multilateral institution, its organs and mandates. So, when deliberate and often false impressions were created about South Africa’ positions in the Security Council, many people found themselves confused.

Yet in a way, none of these challenges were unforeseen. After South Africa was voted overwhelmingly to join the UNSC, Minister Dlamini Zuma assured the world that “South Africa commits itself thus, fully cognisant of the challenges that will certainly arise from the responsibilities that will attend to the membership of the UN Security Council as an instrument of our collective peace and security”.

In the coming years, perhaps even sooner, South Africa will be offered another opportunity to serve as an elected member of the Security Council. Also, if the negotiations in the General Assembly reach a reasonable conclusion, it is quite possible that South Africa may even be called upon to assume a Permanent Seat in the UNSC on behalf of Africa. Either of these options will face our country before too long. Until then, South Africa will have to continue to analyse and internalise the lessons learned from the historic term of 2007-2008. This is important because whether, ready or not, South Africa will be called upon to lead in Africa and beyond.

DUMISANI S. KUMALO was South Africa’s Representative to the Security Council and Ambassador to the United Nations. SIPHO SEAKAMELA and ZAHEER LAHER are members of the South African UN Permanent Mission and part of the Security Council team.


Part 1

60 years of the Chinese revolution, lessons to be learnt

This is an introductory article to a four-part series on the recent two-week ANC to China by the ANC NEC delegation. The articles reflect the impressions of the delegation on the Chinese revolution, which entered its 60th anniversary last year.

ON 28th November 2009, an 18-member ANC NEC delegation embarked on a two-week study tour to China, at the invitation of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The ANC enjoys cordial and comradely relations with the CPC and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). There has been a number of high-level visits to China recently, including the visit by ANC President Jacob Zuma in 2007, which resulted in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the ANC and the CPC on Exchange and Co-operation.

The MoU builds on the historical and existing relations of solidarity and friendship between the ANC and the CPC, by providing a framework for exchange and co-operation, promoting the development of party-to-party and state-to-state relations.

The study-tour of the ANC NEC delegation, led by Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa, is the first outcome of this Memorandum of Understanding. Under the theme “From Revolution to Governance: Theories and Practice”, the tour took the delegation to the three major cities of China - Beijing, Chonqing and Shanghai.

The delegation met the leading cadres of the Party (including various members of the Politburo and the Central Committee) at national, provincial and local levels, discussing various topics of interest, including but not limited to the theoretical basis of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, the party- building experience, experiences in political education, party discipline and combating corruption, economic development, as well as experiences in addressing the social needs of the people, such as health, education, employment, rural and urban development.

Through these high-level interactions and visits to various projects showcasing the “modernisation” programmes, the NEC delegation was able to:

As noted above, on the 1st October 2009, the Chinese people celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Chinese revolution. In 1949, CPC led and guided the successful armed peasant uprising (supported by a relatively small working class) against the US-backed Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) and founded the independent People’s Republic of China that forged a unity of the Chinese people, in all their diversity and set its own socialist path of development.

There has been major social and economic transformations in China since the 1949, from a bare-foot semi-feudal and nascent capitalist country to one of the most rapidly developing and industrialising countries in the world. It has been a history of trials and errors, but also in more recent history of great social and economic achievements, as the country pursues what it calls socialism with Chinese characteristics. Despite these major transformations, affecting the country’s 1.3-billion people, China considers itself to being at the primary stage of socialism.

At the centre of these lies the Communist Party of China (CPC), which has defined its general programme as that of being the vanguard of the working class in particular and the Chinese people in general. With more than 60 years of governing, the CPC has exerted its leadership role in the state and society. The organisational machinery of the CPC extends throughout society, in the rural and urban areas and has constantly improved its mechanisms for interaction between the Party and the cadre deployed in the state, private and civil society sectors. There are lessons to be learnt for our revolution!

The Chinese revolution occupies a significant historical place in the 20th century struggle for national liberation and the struggle for socialism. Following the defeat of fascism in World War 2 in 1945 the Chinese revolution provided great impetus for national democratic and anti-colonial revolutions in the South countries (such as the struggle for national independence in India, the Cuban revolution and many other struggles in Latin America, Asia and Africa). The national liberation struggle in South Africa has been inspired by the Chinese revolution.

In an attempt to sum-up the lessons learned from this visit, we have divided the report in four part services. Part 2 will provide general reflections on the Chinese development experience. Part 3 will deal with the party-building experience of the CPC, especially in areas such as internal democracy, party-discipline (including the party’s role in combating corruption), governance, cadre development and deployment. Finally, Part 4 of the report focuses on the role and position of China in the world, especially its role in Africa.

The series will not only highlight the achievements and challenges of the Chinese revolution, but also explore in each of the articles potential lessons for our national democratic revolution, as well as the political approach we should consider towards China.


Challenges facing the ANC in the Post-Polokwane era

The worst enemy of the African National Congress is within the movement itself. This enemy is a micro-organism of many characteristics - all of which are inimical to the movement ‘s moral foundations and long term survival. Amongst others the most visible are, careerism, the leadership cult, idolatry and greed. Tsheko Tsehlana takes a critical look at the organisational and ideological state of the ANC in the aftermath of the Polokwane Conference.

THESE problems began around 1994 when we came to power and became a ruling party. Before 1994 we had a small community of disciplined and dedicated activists at the core of the mass democratic movement. They were guided by selflessness, sacrifice, and struggle. Nowhere were they promised any reward for their involvement in the struggle. These included MK and underground operatives.

We knew that between the conduct of the struggle and the attainment of freedom was detention, torture, death, and disappearance. These were scary disincentives sufficient to discourage any life-loving person from participating in such a risky venture for an “ill-defined” freedom. We never knew when will freedom come - but we lived with the ever-present threat to life and limb. But because of the commitment to the finality of the revolution, comrades soldiered on. Let us reflect a little on what derailed the process and what harvest of lessons is there for us to learn from.

Indifference to allegations of corruption

Suddenly there was a talk of the creation of the so-called patriotic bourgeoisie within the ranks of the ANC. This was a shift from the reaffirmation of the working class and the poor being crowned the motive force of the national democratic revolution by successive conferences of the ANC.

We did not know who would be so privileged to be selected and ordained into a clan of the nouveau riche. Nor was the criteria publicised explaining the selection procedure. And this was the launch of the programme for the bourgeoisification of the ANC and the consequent rat race for the theft of state resources, coupled with disturbing manifestations of vernal corruption. There was now a shift from the revolutionary focus. Everybody wanted to be rich. We saw the escalation of allegations of corruption (real and imagined) against our comrades.

Corruption has now become an internal pandemic that has gone out of control. Hardly three months passes by without media revelation of one allegation of corruption after the other by ANC deployees to government. I do not propose a witch-hunt or an overreaction to these media allegations. But an organisation of the ANC ‘s stature should or must react with shock and alarm to these allegations. It is not enough to say, “Let whoever has evidence report to the law enforcement agencies.” This sounds defeatist and hopeless. The very principles of selflessness and sacrifice were disgracefully replaced by careerism - i.e. the manipulation of political activism into a money making career.

In the post-Mafikeng ANC, within the dark corridors of power, the survival of careerism required ruthless cult of leadership, i.e. singing praises to a leader in return for patronage and selective indifference to corruption and fraud. In addition to this, the perpetrator needs to be cloaked in ANC legitimacy to succeed. Publicly, he is a revolutionary, and privately, he did not join the ANC to be poor.

Corruption is an anti-thesis of the revolutionary morality that is supposed to be upheld by all functionaries of the entire liberation movement.

In South Africa corruption developed from the onset of excessive revisionism characterised by the denial of scientifically proven theories of social development like the many truths contained in the NDR thesis as understood in the broad ANC family - one of which is that national oppression was characterised by the denial of political rights and the economic exploitation of the Black masses, i.e. Coloureds, Indians, and Africans. The essence of the whole ball game was that without political oppression there could not be successful economic exploitation of the black and yellow masses (African Coloured, Indian and Chiness people). What were the effects of national oppression?

The simplest way was to sum them up as genocidal - meaning lack of access to education (leading to widespread ignorance, low self esteem), poverty and disease, proliferation of the lumpen culture manifesting in overflowing prisons, and social nuisance as opposed to a vanguardist role by class conscious sections of the oppressed and exploited masses. No self-respecting society can pay helpless audience to these challenges, and it is these challenges that shaped the character of the African National Congress in addition to drawing members of the exploited classes into the movement.

Raising anti-corruption awareness

Currently there are no measures in place to prevent our deployees from fleecing the state of its financial resources. Or even creating conditions for the prevention of the looting of the state funds under whatever guise. Trumpeting moral protestations and condemnation of such practices is not enough. Neither is the transference of anti-corruption responsibility to the law enforcement agencies enough. The prolonged indifference to corruption is not helping this organisation at all - we ought to create a new social consciousness and mobilise against this scourge. We have displayed malfunctioning moral reflexes symptomed by chronic indecision to this aberration.

We need a serious high-level internal anti-corruption meeting to create effective mechanisms for dealing with this matter. The degree of the rampancy of corruption far surpasses that of sexually related indiscretions on the part of comrades - yet reactions to the former are swift, robust, and firm. Why are there no internal anti-corruption measures in place? I bounced this question to a comrade who responded by saying that, at higher levels of the movement no one is clean enough to point a finger at others. This was quite a scary observation indeed.

Anyone who loves the ANC must stand up and protect this movement against corruption and revisionism.

At the time of writing this article, I was not aware that the Polokwane Conference addressed itself to the problem of corruption. It was such a great relief to read that the matter was addressed and that there is consciousness around the vagaries of this new culture.

Before 1994 we created activists for the total destruction of apartheid. But in this current phase, we have the daunting challenge of building a new cadre for the transformation of the South African society. But what conditions must be created for the attainment of the new cadre? We need to urgently exorcise the movement of the demon of corruption and to create a unifying consensus around how best to fight corruption. There is already an agreement and a resolution on corruption, but there is no systematic plan for its eradication.

The bourgeoisiefication of the ANC and the heresy of “a broad church”

The success of the bourgeoisiefication of the ANC, though ephemeral as it turned out, but with deleterious moral ramifications nevertheless, was assisted by a plethora of interconnected deviations including amongst others, the elevation of debate to the realm of plutocratic privilege, widespread prevalence of self-censorship amongst comrades within and outside of the plutocracy itself, fear of marginalisation euphemistically referred to as “tactical retreat” ostensibly because “conditions were not ripe” for engaging, etc. All of these injected a widespread feeling of apathy, helplessness and withdrawal.

Another likely reason for the “success” of the shift to unorthodox thinking within the ANC was the drumming of the chorus of a “broad church/omnibus” thesis into the heads of the ingenuous masses of the ANC.

This thesis presents the ANC as an ideologically amorphous entity devoid of any doctrine that is indispensable for propelling it progressively forward. It reduces the ANC to a mass of people united by sentimental excitement at the mere appearance of black, green and gold colours.

To raise concern about the move to the right would invite comments like “the ANC is not a socialist organisation”, “you are missing the point”, etc. Without being told what exactly is the ANC ideologically, we saw protagonists of this thinking beginning to behave in a particular class bias inimical to basic revolutionary tenets that have guided this movement for the last fifty years.

This behaviour includes the questioning of the need for the continued existence of the tripartite alliance with the oblique intention of pulling the ANC out for the furtherance of the interest of those appended to the nefarious scheme. An alternative question envisaging the same answer would be whether the existence of the alliance was still relevant under the current conditions or not. These are critical policy questions that belong to the five-year conference, or the policy conference. Fancy that they are not raised or included in those conferences’ agendas. Why? This is because the outcome is not indeterminable.

Another curious factor is that the intention mentioned (regarding the alliance) in the preceding paragraph, is often not a recommendation from any branch or structure of the ANC, but from a member of a particular cartel active within the ANC and expressing it as if in passing - and intoned in “ideological impartiality” to unsuspecting journalists, or alternatively to journalists secretly embedded with the cartel.

The motive was to thoroughly degrade, undermine, and weaken the left within the ANC as the natural obstacle to the grandiose plan. Once this was achieved, drag the left to the bourgeois shrine, force them to confess their class sins, and hang them upside down in shame. Paradoxically, the overwhelming membership of the ANC rejected this. This abrasive anti-left virulence has been dealt blows by successive generations of the ANC from the mid-1940s to the 1960s. In spite of this, the project was relentlessly resuscitated after the Mafikeng conference.

The ANC is certainly not a socialist organisation - on the contrary, it is also certainly not an anti-socialist organisation either. Interestingly, it is referred to as a national liberation movement as opposed to a movement of a privileged few. Within this national form, we ought to re-examine the dominant class component and what are the collective interests of this dominant class if they are not known by now.

The dangers of the bourgeoisiefication of the ANC included the precipitate onset of corruption, a new culture of materialist accumulation, a surreptitious expectation of sycophantic worship of the ANC glitterati, etc. The economically disadvantaged masses were bombarded with enviable icons produced by this particular phase of the national democratic revolution and festooned with all the frills of immeasurable opulence.

Myth of the “ANC as the omnibus”

The concept of a so-called omnibus is an imaginary mental reproduction of the ANC as a big stagnant vehicle with passengers going to contradictory destinations. This concept is problematic because it has not been explained. I suspect what is meant here actually is an organisation with people of different ideological orientations.

Supporters of this view forget that these different ideological strands melt into resolutions that clarify the quintessential character and class bias of the ANC. For instance, the endorsement of the working class and the poor as the motive force of the revolution is an unequivocal example. So the theory of an omni-bus/broad church is intended to deliberately obfuscate and mystify reality with regard to what the ANC actually is.

The second example is the adoption of the Freedom Charter at the Congress Of The People that was attended by people of different ideological strands with affiliation to different class orientations. Yet these passengers of the omnibus said amongst others:

“The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole.”

This clause of the Freedom Charter presents adequate testimony to the consistent bias of this movement against the leading motive of national oppression.

To achieve this mystical appearance, you only need to strangulate debate within the ranks of the movement and present a one-sided and abstract view of reality - namely that the ANC is an omnibus or a broad church. Often at the end of the conferences, the ANC emerges clear and single-minded of purpose. This consistently rubbishes perverted image of an ideological chimera that the organisation is made out to be.

This one-sided view of reality is an expression of the worst form of intellectual arrogance. Debate in any mass movement is a prerequisite to organisational unity. Collective wisdom is what has always sustained the ANC. Let the thousand flowers bloom!

Having neutralised any tendency to reaffirm the leftist character of the ANC, the stage was now set to move the ANC in an opposite (right) direction, much to the peril of the drivers of this inclination. The passengers of the omnibus reasserted their vanguard role by steering the ill-fated bus off the perilous right lane. This display of class vigilance added ideological brilliance to the spectacular drama that was played out on the stage of the Polokwane conference.

The inherent objective in presenting the ANC as an unknowable socio-political entity is to create conditions of perpetual doubt and scepticism about the ideo-ethical rectitude of this organisation amongst its members - and in the process, smuggle, impose and entrench a sectarian view that is subjective in form and idealistic in content, i.e. having no relationship with objective reality.

The outcome of Polokwane must be understood in the context of the unmasking of the moral insolvency of the plutocracy by the broad masses of the people who converged there.

Challenges Of The Post-Polokwane Era.

The ANC emerged very weak from the debilitating effects of the contradictions of Polokwane Conference. This conference created and perpetuated the view or perception (rightfully or otherwise), of the existence of two camps personified by Comrades Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. Yet the debates around policy and resolutions that were unanimously adopted synthesised the various perspectives enunciated before and inside the Polokwane Conference, with the admirable consequent of elevating the organisation above individual personalities.

It has been an accepted practise in the movement to comply with the resolution of conference even if one disagreed with it - and this formed the basis of organisational discipline and organisational unity. The basis of the envisaged organisational unity would be to draw the programme of action in pursuit of the resolutions adopted at Polokwane and mobilise all comrades towards achieving the objective of those resolutions. Forming another party because of differing with conference resolutions is un-ANC.

The biggest challenge facing the ANC is to rebuild organisational unity and repair the divisions that surfaced and festered for the last ten years. This unity should be built around the implementation of resolutions adopted at Polokwane. For now, the ANC can ill-afford the current divisions. Organisational unity means consensus around a number of imperatives including what needs to be done and why, how it should be done, clarifying the anticipated outcomes, etc.

Building the ANC

Out of all the resolutions adopted at the Polokwane conference, the one on building the ANC must be treated as socially critical, politically necessary, and historically urgent. Socially critical locates the ANC at the epicentre of the struggle for the transformation of the South African society.

This will inform the nature and qualitative standards of the cadre tasked with this responsibility. So many political battles can be lost if our strategic focus is not informed by the objective of social transformation - hence the political necessity. Finally, the historical mandate of the ANC is to eliminate all manifestations of national oppression without delay. But what does building the ANC mean?

It means transforming the huge quantity into smaller units of quality comrades empowered to deal with the critical challenges of reaffirming the ANC as an agent of change. But we have to recognise that the ANC does also require quantitative expressions of political approval in the form of huge membership levels as well as a big support base from communities within which we are located.

Mass movements and the lack of standards

In addition to that, we need to develop creative ways of reconciling huge numbers of membership with political quality. Operating a mass-based organisation has made these organisations to rely upon traditions and not a conscious development of standards as the guarantor of organisational sustainability and ideological development respectively. The ANC is not immune to such a weakness. It does not have standards to follow or enforce and this accounts to incidents such as the unacceptable use of violence to settle non-political differences.

Reconciling quality with quantity requires that we determine a percentage of certain quality measured in terms of the understanding of basic political theories that hold sway in the ANC such as: the history of the country and how it influenced the formation of the ANC - and its alliance partners, the theory of alliances, applied organisational theory and practise tailor-made for the ANC, development of society, basics of the African history beginning with the slave trade, touching on colonialism, anti-colonial struggles and their outcome in Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere.

In the attempt to reconcile quality and quantity, it be noted that too much of either of the two is detrimental to any mass movement - and on the contrary, too little of the two has similar implications for the survival of the organisation too. This is the fundamental problem of the mass movements. Any theory without action is sure to produce a haughty armchair revolutionary - and conversely, any action without philosophical guidance tends to be directionless. A balanced activist will always epitomise a combination of both. The lack of this combination does contribute to lapses in the exercise of correct discretion as in the formation of factions such as the so-called Taliban in the northwest province.

These factions are a product of unbalanced and excessive emphasis on the quantity. They reflect high levels of reactionary idealism, political ignorance, and naïve admiration of fundamentalism.

The advantages of theory are more than the development of a balanced activist - it means there is a particular wisdom that injects vibrancy and dynamism in the movement.

Organisational theory as a pre-requisite to leadership development

How do we measure the strength of each of the two in terms of the overwhelming prevalence and impact within the African National Congress? Phrased differently, is the ANC strong in “balanced activists” as defined above, compared to the quantity component (which is also no mean a factor but an exciting positive phenomenon) that it so glaringly boasts? The strategic challenge becomes the development of quality cadres for the survival of this organisation.

Building the ANC also mean developing comrades on the management of organisations in general, and a political organisation in particular. Political education is now replaced by empty slogans - and branch meetings are dominated by monotonous administrative issues. There is a total lack of vibrancy and stimulation. Every branch was supposed to be dominated by fifty percent theory and fifty percent practise. What we see is ninety eight percent practise or no political theory at all. The effects of this imbalance are manifesting themselves in the stagnation that is currently reigning supreme in the structures of the ANC in the Northwest and Western Cape Provinces. Gauteng is business as usual. We need something like a commission on building the ANC to be located in the offices of the Secretary General and the provincial secretaries.

This commission (or whatever the reader might want to call it), must be populated by the organisers and the political education officers for purposes of responding to both quantitative and qualitative targets respectively. I am not convinced of the effective input of our provincial leaders into this strategic challenges. I think we need to wake everybody up. Alliance partners must also not concern themselves with governance issues alone, but with the challenges of building the ANC. The leagues are also in the worse organisational state.

The ANC needs to establish “a party school” in the wilderness wherein activists shall be isolated for about a week or a month learning critical theories and organisational development studies.

TSHEKO TSEHLANA is a member of the Jabavu Branch of the ANC and is writing in his personal capacity.


Finding a common ground in the midst of the political exchanges

The current political challenges facing the movement should - at the least - remind us that, in addition to its historical task of resolving primary contradictions created by the system of colonialism and apartheid, the ANC has to master the art and science of managing contradictions among the people, argues Thando Ntlemeza.

THE current political challenges facing the movement should - at the least - remind us that, in addition to its historical task of resolving primary contradictions created by the system of colonialism and apartheid, the ANC has to master the art and science of managing contradictions among the people. Meaning that the movement should use this time to demonstrate its ability to manage and resolve secondary contradictions, which manifest themselves within the movement and beyond.

Unlike contradictions between the exploited and exploiting classes, contradictions among ANC members are supposed to be non-antagonistic, unless ideological engagements within the movement have degenerated into contradiction between the exploiter and exploited, which is by nature antagonistic. However, if properly managed, this antagonistic contradiction among our cadres and activists can be transformed into a non-antagonistic contradiction.

Some locate origins of the current contradictions within the movement at the Polokwane conference. While some may dispute this, the fact of the matter is that simplistic downplaying of the contribution of Polokwane outcome to the current political developments within the movement and the country cannot be accepted. Neither should all the concerns, raised by the so-called “disgruntled members” of our democratic movement, be equated with expressing rejection of the Polokwane outcome. Some members of the movement are raising genuine concerns, without necessarily questioning Polokwane outcome or contemplating to leave.

In succession battles, the support of leadership perspectives will always be underpinned by certain interests, whether organisational, personal, egoistic or otherwise. Within the movement, some have presented their interests as “political interests” advanced in defence of the revolution, even though in some cases such interests do not coincide with political interests of the motive forces of the revolution.

Within this context, some have suggested that advocates of the leadership perspective which emerged victorious in Polokwane united in action to defend the National Democratic Revolution from threats posed by abuse of state power and resources. Of-course, unity of progressive forces against the abuse of state power and resources must be encouraged to develop in all spheres of our society.

However, the suggested connection between the abuse of state resources and convergence behind leadership perspective that emerged victorious in Polokwane does not discard a possibility that some advocates of this perspective were - first and foremost - driven by self interest. These may have opportunistically hijacked the process to advance their own interests, which are not necessarily organizational. Let us hope that we are not witnessing the struggle for state resources, central to which is retention of, and access, to state resources.

We have to unite in the fight against corrupt activities wherever they manifest themselves in society, including the state organs and other democratic institutions because, like any other criminal activity, corruption - in whatever form it takes - poses serious threat to the National Democratic Revolution going forward. Therefore, we cannot afford to fertile the ground for any activities, which have a potential to derail the revolutionary project that purports to change our society.

Given the reported incidences of the manipulation of administrative processes within the movement to advance personal agendas and tendencies, fight against corrupt activities cannot be confined to the abuse of state power and resources. Instead, it should be extended even to abuse of organizational power and resources. Which must happen because in certain instances, political positions within the movement are used to advance personal agendas and divisive tendencies that have a potential to undermine unity and cohesion of the movement.

What must remain an overarching principle should be prohibition of abuse of power and resources, even political power within the constitutional structures of the movement. Which means preventing the creation of an impression that our structures are nothing less than preparatory schools for abuse of state power and resources.

In fact, we cannot deny that there may exist a possibility that the interests of the cadres may transform during the course of the struggle because contradictions among people may be different in content in each phase of the revolution. Which, in essence, means that prevailing conditions may dictate that contradictions may exist among members of the working class, peasantry or within intelligentsia. However, it would be incorrect to suggest that this and other political developments within the democratic movement represent a “total rapture”. Given the ideological character of the movement, at particular intervals certain ideological views would dominate and influence direction and trajectory of the movement, but without diluting and distorting the historical task of the movement. At all times, ideological engagement should be allowed and divergent views must find space, without anyone being labeled or vilified for expressing views.

Guiding us must always be a slogan: “let a hundred of flowers blossom, let a hundred schools of thought contend” because this will promote progress and nourish democratic culture within our democratic movement. It would be harmful to the growth of the movement when administrative measures are used to impose one school of thought and ban another. In fact, this may result in a “total rapture.” Hence, discussion, criticism and reasoning are required to foster correct ideas and overcome problematic ones, as only this will help us find a common ground.

While the current political discourse about breakaway may be interesting to those sections of the society which derive pleasure from anything pointing to potential demise of the ANC, to us these are depressing times. The current political challenges facing our movement provide us with an opportunity to greatly improve ideological and political education and to properly deal with all the challenges. This will help people understand the dual character of the challenge facing us. In particular, they will understand that while this challenge disrupts the movement and its programmes, it also provides historical lessons about the contradictions among the members of the movement and how to respond to such contradictions.

As we engage on our challenges, we should desist from re-fighting the pre-Polokwane battles because that would never be in the interest of the National Democratic Revolution. A tendency to view or label comrades as supporters of this or that leader within the movement must come to an end. Instead of denying the challenges facing us, we have to swallow pride and engage on issues which divide us, with a view to find a common ground and lasting political solutions to our problems. This requires the leadership and membership of the democratic movement to talk and act in a manner which unites, rather than divide, the people.

However, the point of departure should be political maturity on the part of the membership to be able to refuse to be characterized in terms of the pre-Polokwane preferences. Now that Polokwane conference pronounced itself on the leadership of the ANC, we cannot remain locked in pre-conference preferences. Neither must we allow faction-minded individuals to “own” or view ANC leadership as a mere preference because that can never be in the interest of unity.

In reality, developments in any conference of the ANC occupy minds of many people after the conference and also characterize the post-conference period. It is the excitement for victory, the fears as a result of the loss and even subsequent purges, which may throw us back into the undesirable pre-Polokwane battles. The “us” and “them” mentality should never be allowed to continue characterizing a movement, which is supposed to be populated by people with a common vision - to transform ours into an inclusive and caring society.

Both the excitement and fear in our minds should never be allowed to dominate within the democratic movement and society at large because if that is allowed cohesion of the movement and stability of our society would, without doubt, be compromised. Which would, in effect, negatively affect the implementation of the transformation project, thereby delaying victory of the National Democratic Revolution.

Instead of spreading excitement or fears within the democratic movement and society at large, metabolic processes within the movement and beyond should be geared towards generating the energy required to advance the revolution. The current phase requires this energy for mobilization of people behind the vision of “better life for all”. Which means that leadership and membership of the movement should be seized with the task of mobilizing all classes and strata within the movement and society with a view to direct them towards the historical task of our people to resolve contradictions, which manifest themselves in society.

Never at any stage must democratic centralism in the movement be (mis) understood to mean that coercive measures should be used to settle ideological questions. Problems within our ranks should be settled through persuasion, instead of compulsion and intimidation because coercive measures to settle ideological questions are not only ineffective, but harmful to peaceful co-existence of different classes and strata within the movement and society at large.

While the constitution of the movement must remain central in guiding us, in handling the challenges facing the movement we need to desist from using over simplified methods or quickly venturing into purges and summary expulsions on grounds of suspicion, except in cases of proven counter revolutionary tendencies. In times like these, information peddlers may spread “untested” and unproven stories on the basis of which serious organizational decisions could be taken. The movement should be cognisant of this unfortunate reality, but its leadership must remain resolute to act in defence of the national democratic revolution, without necessarily compromising unity and cohesion of the movement.


Socalisation, the future of sustainable development in South Africa

The framework within which government`s policies were crafted in the past fifteen years was flawed. These policies have not addressed the needs of many communities, and the so-called service delivery protests bear testimony to that, argues Luthando Nogcinisa.

THIS article is a critical analysis of the South African government’s “Towards a Fifteen Year Review” document. I argue that the framework within which the government’s policies were crafted in the past 15 years was flawed. I also argue that these policies have not addressed the needs of many communities and that the so-called “service delivery” protests bear testimony to that. I suggest that the new administration led by President Jacob Zuma needs to shift the government’s policy formulation approach decisively towards “Localisation” - a sort of reverse globalisation. I also argue that the idea of the developmental state as it is conceived currently, with a strong focus on resource-driven industrialisation, is unsustainable. There needs to be a shift towards a model that focuses mainly on the satisfaction of the needs of the people of South Africa, mainly through local production and trade, rather than the exportation and importation of goods and services; a model that includes more robust environmental protection.

Introduction

The protests that engulfed some communities in recent years have had a variety of causes. They have been about service delivery and reflected local political dynamics. They have also arisen from failures of public representatives to account or fully involve citizens in decision-making that affects their lives; and failures of communities to exploit the opportunities of representative institutions.” (The Presidency, 2008)

The South African government has published a ten year and a fifteen year review of its performance and has reflected on the country’s unfolding reconstruction and development project. These reviews reveal a particular commitment by the government to deliver services to the people of South Africa.

Almost every politician speaks about their intention to improve service delivery; and thanks to this heightened concern about the illusive service delivery, a number of organisations have been created in South Africa. Many of these have been behind the “service delivery” protests. The opposition parties have also made claims that they are more capable of delivering services than the ANC.

Most of these organisations do not take into account the sustainability of their alternatives. They are focused on creating conditions for rapid industrialisation/modernisation which will presumably lead to the creation of jobs and alleviation of poverty. Even those who speak about sustainability, e.g. municipalities, tend to have a narrow focus on financial sustainability. This leads them to adopt policies that are based on cost-recovery to ensure their viability. These policies are also based on the neo-liberal conception of local governments as sellers and communities as buyers of basic services in a “free market”. This logic has led to cut-offs of services to thousands of the unemployed and poor who cannot afford to pay and this in turn has led to many of the protests that the government reduces to “local political dynamics”, “ineffective communication and accountability of public representatives”, “lack of involvement of citizens” and so on.

The will to fix these problems of “service delivery” in South Africa is there in abundance. But the important question is whether these means are appropriate. More importantly, are they sustainable?

Globalisation and the crisis of neo-liberalism

The global governance institutions - United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation (WTO) and their regulatory framework which includes the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) - that were created after the Second World War and the Great Depression have had a tremendous impact on the development of most countries in the world. (Hartwick and Peet, 2003)

In the last two decades of the 20th century, neo-liberalism gained ascendancy through these global governance institutions and many developing countries were forced through global trade rules set by the WTO to adopt the “Washington Consensus”. In essence these measures sought to open up markets for the free flow of goods, services and capital and the assumption was that this would lead to the increase in investment flows into developing economies and thus lead to economic growth. (Norberg-Hodge, 2000; Swilling and Annecke, 2009)

Some of the literature that deals with this issue (Noberg-Hodge, 2000; Dresner, 2002; Hartwick and Peet, 2003) suggests that the global trade regime that has evolved has the effect of deepening the inequality between countries in the global South and those in the North. Globalisation (or more specifically, trade-induced economic growth) is also largely to blame for the crumbling ecological and social foundations in many countries, in spite of the fact that the WTO has formally integrated the protection of the environment in its policies.

The global governance bodies do not genuinely support an ecologically sustainable regime or economic and social justice for the overwhelming majority of poor people in the global South. Their sole purpose is to liberalise trade, with concessions made for rich member states, e.g. farmers in the European Union and United States. Hartwick and Peet (2003) also point out that even the solutions that the WTO puts forward to the deepening poverty and environmental degradation are increased trade and economic growth - the two drivers of the crisis. The predominant paradigm in the WTO is that market rules can “fix” the problem either through investment in cleaner technologies or allowing industries to continue polluting as long as they can pay for it and earn so called “carbon credits”.

Urbanisation which is a phenomenon that increasingly confronts developing countries is seen in some literature (Norberg-Hodge, 2000; Satterthwaite, 2003; Swilling, 2005) as one of the factors that deepen poverty, change ecosystems and create new social and economic crises. Swilling (2005) argues that, in South African towns and cities, inequality is perpetuated by the legislative and practical arrangements at local government levels.

The lack of popular mandate and democratic control; the lack of accountability of multi-national companies that trade across the globe within the scope of WTO rules; and the lack of accountability of institutions such as the World Bank and IMF present a serious challenge, especially to developing countries. The structure of the WTO is clearly biased towards rich member states. The speculative activity that has been allowed to flourish in the global markets has also had a devastating effect on the economies of developing countries. (Norberg-Hodge, 2000; Hartwick & Peet, 2003)

Towards the end of the 20th and at he beginning of the 21st centuries, many scholar/activists such as Norberg-Hodge (2000) and Hartwick and Peet (2003) held out hope that the greens and the “new” social movements could challenge the logic of globalisation and neo-liberalism and they cite the anti-WTO protests at Seattle in 1999 and other instances where popular pressure was applied successfully to reverse some unpopular policies in Europe to validate their optimism. They argued that strategic engagement between activists, organised bodies, and academics will lead towards the rolling back of the advances of neo-liberalism.

In the aftermath of the crash of the global financial markets and the shrinking of most of the economies of developed countries, the ideological self-assurance that existed in the neo-liberal camp and the hegemony of the Unites States of America have been shaken. This has opened up space for thoroughgoing reassessment of the logic of market fundamentalism, the global and national governance structures, regulation and the strategic mandate of financial institutions and has placed the need for more sustainable alternatives on the agenda. In other words, we are in a post neo-liberal era and we must take that into account when we craft policies.

The Developmental State

The current phase of capitalism, which we are referring to as “globalisation”, has profound and complex impacts on all classes within the various national political economies. In addition, as political processes grapple with these very dynamic forces, it impacts on the sovereignty of the nation state. The revolution in information and communication technology (ICT) is leading to observable structural changes in productive forces, production relations and the workings of the international capitalist system. These developments are not necessarily negative and great progress in development is possible if these changes are harnessed for the benefit of all our citizens. However, to do this in South Africa, we will indeed have to build an effective developmental state. (Erwin, 2008)

Alec Erwin makes some insightful remarks but also makes some wrong assumptions. His assertion that globalisation is not necessarily a bad idea, reflects the thinking that has formed the basis for the South African government’s policy and planning framework in the past decade and a half. Erwin makes the mistaken assumption that globalisation is inevitable and that all we should do is “harness” its progressive elements and we will do well as a country.

Amartya Sen, in Swilling and Annecke (2009) captures the main objective of any developmental state as “enhancing the capabilities” of people for renewing and creating the kind of development that they feel is appropriate in their contexts. The developmental state has taken centre stage in the South African political discourse over the past few years. It has in fact become one of the key policy issues for the ANC and government. In essence the developmental state is characterised by its ability to intervene strategically in the economy to guide investment towards national developmental goals.

Most of the literature concurs that this concept has never represented the same thing in history. Swilling and Annecke (2009) use the examples of Japan and Taiwan and contrast them with the East Asian “tigers” as well as the more recent experiments in countries like Venezuela, China etc. to illustrate that point. Another leading economist, Dani Rodrik acknowledges that the world comprises complex systems in which there can be no single developmental path. In other words, there is no blueprint on how to build a developmental state that could be applied successfully in all countries.

The Presidency in the fifteen year review highlights four key policy objectives of the South African government:

The fifteen-year review acknowledges that, while there has been significant progress towards achieving these objectives, the course that the country is on currently is unsustainable. The review actually argues that “if all indicators were to continue along the same trajectory, especially in respect of the dynamic of economic inclusion and exclusion, we could soon reach a point where the negatives start to overwhelm the positives.” (The Presidency, 2008).

Basic services

The fifteen-year review confirms the government’s commitment to provide access to electricity, water and sanitation as basic services. The government already provides free basic services to many poor households: 6 000 litres of water a month and electricity worth 50kwh per month. (The Presidency, 2008)

This commitment has contributed to the improvement of the standard of living for many of the South African poor. But the Presidency (2008) admits that there has been less progress in providing these services at higher standards such as water inside a dwelling and flush toilets; and that many people complain that they are insufficient; and there are increasing challenges of affordability.

The reason for the government’s inability to provide a higher standard of water and sanitation and the challenge of affordability are related the design of the infrastructure that it inherited from the apartheid era and has not sought to alter. In most of the towns and cities of South Africa, the bulk water and sanitation infrastructure is designed in such a way that water and sewerage travel many kilometres from water purification plants to households and from households to sewerage plants. The cost of constructing and maintaining infrastructure of this scale is enormous.

In Cape Town, for instance, more than 60% of the water that is potable and has been purified by the municipality at great cost is used to flush toilets and transport sewerage and of the 550 000 tons of sewerage per annum, only 5% is recycled. (Swilling, 2005)

The price of fuel that has risen sharply as a result of the high price of oil has led to increases in the cost of most goods and services. The increases have had a devastating impact on the poor. The government therefore has to focus on implementing policies that reduce these costs. In order to alleviate the plight of the poor the new administration could roll out solar water heaters and LP gas stoves, rail and taxis that run on biogas or hydrogen. According to Swilling (2005) these technologies are technically feasible, cheaper to operate and need less capital investment.

The government should consider using technologies that treat sewerage at neighbourhood level and recycle more water for reuse in households. Sewerage from several households could be transported to biogas digesters and the methane gas that is collected from these devices could be used for cooking in the households. Alternatively, a biolytic system could be considered. It uses worms to breakdown the solids in grey and black water from households and this water that comes out rich in nutrients could be used to enrich compost that is used in the community gardens that support food security programmes and improve the nutrition and general health of communities.

A lot of the waste generated by households goes to landfills and according to Swilling (2005) more than 40% of it is organic - food, vegetable peels etc. This organic waste could be composted and used in the neighbourhood food gardens. What is also frightening is that cities are running out of land for landfills and there is evidence that some of the toxic chemicals that are dumped in those landfills contaminate aquifers and ground water and this poses a threat to our future water supplies.

Education and Health

The government prides itself for having an education budget that is among the biggest in the world. According to the Presidency (2008) in 2005 the education budget was 5.59% of gross national product (GNP), within the norm of developed countries’ expenditure.

The weakness of the South African government’s approach is that it uses the size of the budget as the single most important tool to address the crisis in education. But there is also recognition that the performance of South African learners is poor when compared to that of their Southern African counterparts who have far fewer resources available to them.

The government has put too much emphasis on educating the youth in order to meet the needs of industry and to make the economy competitive in the globalised world. This has NOT led to massive employment that was envisaged. The alternative that should be considered (Norberg-Hodge (2000)is that the youth should be educated for diverse environments, cultures and economic systems. In other words, the content and form of education should primarily be about mastering the local economy and culture while at the same time equipping the youth with the skills to adapt to other contexts. This alternative does not mean that the flow of information from other cultures would be curtailed. It simply means that the education system would negate the idealised myths about “development” and western urban life that are so pervasive in the current education system and also encouraged by the mass media. (Norberg-Hodge 2000)

Similarly, in the provision of health services, the government has focused on the increase in expenditure over a period of 10 years from 1996 to 2006 as a tool to measure progress. But it also admits that the increases in expenditure have not necessarily led to a better quality of service. The review points out that “the key concern is how to use health resources to achieve better health outcomes, taking into account the impact of the socio-economic environment both on health and on implementation.” (The Presidency, 2008)

The alternative is for the government to fund the building of more but smaller community clinics; focus on health education especially among the youth as well as preventative medicine. Norberg-Hodge (2000) argues that this would lead to increased access to health services to most communities and lower the cost of medical care to the state and also lead to improved wellbeing of the people.

Housing

According to the Presidency (2008) in the years from 1994 to 2008, 3 132 769 housing subsidies were approved, and 2 358 667 houses were built as a result of expenditure of R48.5 billion. This brought housing to 9.9 million citizens who could access state-subsidised housing opportunities. This is a remarkable achievement when it is looked at from a quantitative perspective. However, the review also says that a number of new housing settlements are located far from work opportunities and therefore perpetuate urban sprawl and a “mismatch between the location of accommodation and economic activity”.

In order to address these challenges, the new government needs to focus on the provision of safer public transport, a ‘walking distance’ approach to neighbourhood planning, by-laws governing house design and energy efficiency, the provision of a waste separation and recycling service, and even investments in food markets to improve the health of communities and lower the cost of food. (Swilling, 2005)

The government should also consider using cheaper, locally available materials for building houses. The national and provincial departments must act to reverse the neo-apartheid practice of building neighbourhoods exclusively for the rich and the poor. The continuation of this practice is counterproductive - the government’s investments in low cost houses are a drain on the country’s resources because the value of real estate in exclusively low income neighbourhoods inevitably stays low and this limits the possibility of wealth being created among the working class and poor.

The eco-village design is appealing to more and more people around the world. According to Norberg-Hodge (2000) in this form of settlement, residents use renewable energy and recycle most of what they use; reduce consumption, competition and conflict; and build cooperation and solidarity in their communities. In the process they also reduce the individual and household carbon footprints. South Africa should explore this option as a means to reduce environmental pollution and also deal with some of the social and economic crises in the country.

The Economy

The South African economy has been growing quite impressively in the post-apartheid years and according to the Presidency (2008) there have been 14 successive years of GDP growth and the rate of this growth increased from 2003. In spite of this, overall inequality has not been reduced. In fact in some sectors the inequalities increased. National income inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient increased from 0.64 to 0.69 between 1995 and 2005, and continued to do so from 2006 to 2007. This means that South Africa is among the most unequal societies in the world.

The fact that many states in the global South have been persuaded to pursue “trade” (Norberg-Hodge, 2000; Hartwick & Peet, 2003) as the solution to their developmental challenges means that many of them do not fully appreciate the causal link between “trade” (introduced at the outset of colonisation) and their current state of poverty. According to Swilling and Annecke (2009) in developing countries, the goals of modernisation and trade have always been elusive but formed the basis of their policies.

The fifteen-year review acknowledges that the structure of the economy has not helped to address the crisis of deepening inequality. The industrial development trajectory is still skewed to the highly developed minerals and energy complex (MEC) with weak linkages to other industries domestically and has had poor employment outcomes.

Paradoxically, the review declares proudly “since 1994, the economy has become more open, more productive and more outward orientated with both exports and imports growing rapidly.” This is the policy choice that has led to the failure of our country to have employment creating economic growth and reduction in inequality. The government has spent too much time and resources trying to become a player on the international trading stage without a great deal of positive results. After playing a role in the WTO Doha Round in 2001, South Africa continued to participate optimistically in the protracted process - as yet not concluded.

The WTO’s trade liberalisation policies have meant that most countries have invested massively in infrastructure to open up their economies to trade and relax protection of local industries (Norberg-Hodge, 2000) and the South African government has also been hopeless in anticipating and planning for the consequences of the consumption-driven economic growth. It admits that growth outpaced infrastructure planning, construction and maintenance, electricity generation and distribution, water reticulation and the country’s logistic system. The government now seeks to recover from this situation through massive investments in new infrastructure and repairing the old one. I argue that this is the wrong way to address the problem. Future investments in infrastructure should mainly be focused on building the capabilities of communities to build local, sustainable neighbourhoods and economies.

South Africa should also work with other states and sign an internationally agreed treaty that would enable states to use trade tariffs to regulate the import of goods that could be produced locally in order to support the growth of local enterprises. In the context of the global economic meltdown, governments should formulate new regulations to limit the free flow of capital in order to reduce the advantage that huge corporations have over more local enterprises and to limit the influence of speculators in the global markets.

Our government decided to implement a set of interventions into the so-called “second economy”. These interventions were conceived as part of wider anti-poverty measures and to “promote access to economic opportunities and help improve the returns from economic participation for poor people, whether as producers, workers or consumers.” (The Presidency, 2008)

The notion of the second-economy is a disappointing characterisation of a known problem of the dichotomy created by capitalism - obscene levels wealth exist simultaneously with grinding poverty. In its arsenal to fight poverty, the government has social security grants that it believes have been effective in reducing poverty and promoting social development and health.

In the light of the current global economic crisis and looming recession domestically, the sustainability of these anti-poverty policies will surely be tested. The government’s commitment to roll out social grants has been premised on the assumption that it was going to be able to collect ever-increasing revenues through taxation of companies and individuals in a context of uninterrupted growth in the economy.

The new administration has to change course and implement more sustainable alternatives. According to Norberg-Hodge (2000) we need to consider ‘buy local’ campaigns to encourage people to spend within the local community; create local currencies that can encourage trade at the local level; agriculture and manufacturing that are supported by the community either through ‘subscription’ by people in the community to have goods delivered by a neighbourhood farmer or manufacturer; or communities embarking on aggressive food garden and manufacturing cooperative projects. Finance for local enterprises can be secured through the state-supported savings and credit cooperatives that would be owned and run by members of the communities themselves and facilitate the accumulation of wealth in the communities.

The government’s focus on GDP as the single most important yardstick to measure development is a limiting factor to its ability to adopt strategic interventions that would lead to the improvement in the quality of life for many of its targeted recipients of poverty relief policies. One of the weaknesses of GDP is that it “considers only the portion of economic activity that involves monetary transactions, thereby leaving out functions of family, community and the environment.” (Norberg-Hodge, 2000)

Dresner (2002) argues that a high GDP in a particular country does not necessarily lead to happiness of the population. Swilling and Annecke (2009) argue that GDP alone is not the most important consideration. Bartelmus (1994) also believes that economic growth cannot be the sole policy focus since it does not give the full picture of the circumstances of any society. Amartya Sen, in Harris, Wise, Gallagher & Goodwin (2001), argues that the Human Development Index (HDI) is a more helpful tool to measure development.

The environment

The fifteen-year review accepts that economic growth and development have happened at the expense of the natural resources and ecosystem services. The Presidency (2008) argues, correctly, that “if our long-term economic performance is to avoid breaching key ecological thresholds, we need new technologies and processes that produce more output with less energy, fewer resource inputs and reduced waste.” But the next sentence in the review reveals the ideological standpoint of its authors. Its states that: “in this context, possible market-based instruments are being investigated, such as taxes, charges and incentives that could promote environmental protection and biodiversity conservation.”

The idea that the market is capable of protecting the environment under the present global trade policies is flawed. There needs to be investment by governments and the private sector in technologies that reverse the trends that lead to environmental degradation - what Swilling and Annecke (2009) call “innovations for sustainability”. The fifteen year review alludes to the fact that there needs to be increased efficiency in the systems of production so as to “decouple” the increase in the use of resources from economic growth. This means we should strive for the “dematerialisation” of our route to industrialisation. We have to reduce the use of fossil fuels which powered industrialisation in the developed countries during the 19th and 20th centuries and replace them mainly with renewable energy systems that are viable in South Africa, such as solar, wind etc.

The scientific consensus also confirms the fact that human activities (Mebratu, 1998) as well as the dependence on the exploitation of fossil fuels to address the energy needs of the economy (Swilling and Annecke, 2009) have had a devastating impact on the environment. Swilling (2005) argues that the current growth-oriented and urban-biased policy framework is unsustainable. Dresner (2002) and Hartwick and Peet (2003) dispute the predominant view in the WTO that the more the developing countries industrialise, the less the impact their economic and social activities will have on the environment - the concept known as the Kuznet’s curve1.

Most governments do not even take into account the hidden costs (as a result of subsidies through, for example, state-funded infrastructure) and the pollution and waste that is generated in the process of packaging and moving goods over long distances to markets in far-flung areas of the world. (Norberg-Hodge, 2000)

Some researchers (Bartelmus, 1994; Norberg-Hodge, 2000; Swilling, 2005) argue that policy makers should NOT encourage the poor of the world to seek to adopt the consumption patterns of the rich since the earth simply does not have the carrying capacity for this. Swilling and Annecke (2009) criticise development economists for their lack of insight into the constraints on resource-driven models of future economic growth. They argue that technology must be used to “reverse” the current trend and move towards the separation of economic growth from increases in resource exploitation.

Conclusion

Based on the fifteen-year review document, I have argued that in the past fifteen years our government has had an inappropriate global, neo-liberal outlook that has failed to deliver the expected outcomes which include the reduction of poverty and inequality. The major flaw in this framework was the singular focus economic growth through trade and consumption. The review revealed that while there has been tremendous progress on the social and economic front, the development path that has been followed in the past fifteen years is unsustainable.

I have also argued that instead of trying to align our country’s policies to “harness” the good elements of globalisation, we need to reverse the trends completely towards localisation because globalisation is a wasteful and unsustainable system. The government also needs to focus on other tools to measure the health of the country’s population and environment. By implementing these localisation measures, I think that the government’s future reviews would reflect a downward trend in social ills and environmental degradation and an upward trend in the health, safety and happiness of the people; as well as more resilient economic growth.

REFERENCES

Bartelmus, Peter (1994) Environment, Growth and Development. The concepts and strategies of sustainability. Routledge, London. Chapter 1

Dresner, Simon (2002) The principles of sustainability. Earthscan, London.

Erwin, Alec (2008) The Developmental State and Political Power. New Agenda, Issue 30, Second Quarter, 2008, pp.26-31

Harris, J., Wise T., Gallagher, K. and Goodwin, N. (Eds) (2001) A Survey of Sustainable Development, Washington/Covelo/London, Island Press.

Hartwick, E. & Peet, R. (2003) Neoliberalism and Nature: The case of the WTO. Annals of the American Academy, 590, November, 2003, pp.188-211.

Mebratu, Desta. (1998) Sustainability and sustainable development: Historic and conceptual review. Environment Impact Assessment Review, No 18, pp 493-520

Norberg-Hodge, Helena. (2000) Shifting Direction: From Global Dependence to Local Independence. Brightsea Press, International Society for Ecology and Culture.

Republic of South Africa. The Presidency, 2008. Towards a fifteen year review. [Online] Pretoria: The Presidency. www.gov.za [10 April 2009]

Satterthwaite, David (2003) The links between Poverty and the Environment in Urban Areas of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Annals of the American Academy, 590, November, 2003, pp.73-92.

Swilling, M (2005) Global Inequality and infrastructure planning in South Africa: A Cape Town case study. Environment and Urbanisation. Vol18, No. 1, April 2006, pp. 23-51

Swilling, M. & Annecke E. (2009) Sustainable Futures: A Southern Perspective. Chapter 3.


Localisation, the future of sustainable development in South Africa

The framework within which government`s policies were crafted in the past fifteen years was flawed. These policies have not addressed the needs of many communities, and the so-called service delivery protests bear testimony to that, argues Luthando Nogcinisa.

THIS article is a critical analysis of the South African government’s “Towards a Fifteen Year Review” document. I argue that the framework within which the government’s policies were crafted in the past 15 years was flawed. I also argue that these policies have not addressed the needs of many communities and that the so-called “service delivery” protests bear testimony to that. I suggest that the new administration led by President Jacob Zuma needs to shift the government’s policy formulation approach decisively towards “Localisation” - a sort of reverse globalisation. I also argue that the idea of the developmental state as it is conceived currently, with a strong focus on resource-driven industrialisation, is unsustainable. There needs to be a shift towards a model that focuses mainly on the satisfaction of the needs of the people of South Africa, mainly through local production and trade, rather than the exportation and importation of goods and services; a model that includes more robust environmental protection.

Introduction

The protests that engulfed some communities in recent years have had a variety of causes. They have been about service delivery and reflected local political dynamics. They have also arisen from failures of public representatives to account or fully involve citizens in decision-making that affects their lives; and failures of communities to exploit the opportunities of representative institutions.” (The Presidency, 2008)

The South African government has published a ten year and a fifteen year review of its performance and has reflected on the country’s unfolding reconstruction and development project. These reviews reveal a particular commitment by the government to deliver services to the people of South Africa.

Almost every politician speaks about their intention to improve service delivery; and thanks to this heightened concern about the illusive service delivery, a number of organisations have been created in South Africa. Many of these have been behind the “service delivery” protests. The opposition parties have also made claims that they are more capable of delivering services than the ANC.

Most of these organisations do not take into account the sustainability of their alternatives. They are focused on creating conditions for rapid industrialisation/modernisation which will presumably lead to the creation of jobs and alleviation of poverty. Even those who speak about sustainability, e.g. municipalities, tend to have a narrow focus on financial sustainability. This leads them to adopt policies that are based on cost-recovery to ensure their viability. These policies are also based on the neo-liberal conception of local governments as sellers and communities as buyers of basic services in a “free market”. This logic has led to cut-offs of services to thousands of the unemployed and poor who cannot afford to pay and this in turn has led to many of the protests that the government reduces to “local political dynamics”, “ineffective communication and accountability of public representatives”, “lack of involvement of citizens” and so on.

The will to fix these problems of “service delivery” in South Africa is there in abundance. But the important question is whether these means are appropriate. More importantly, are they sustainable?

Globalisation and the crisis of neo-liberalism

The global governance institutions - United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation (WTO) and their regulatory framework which includes the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) - that were created after the Second World War and the Great Depression have had a tremendous impact on the development of most countries in the world. (Hartwick and Peet, 2003)

In the last two decades of the 20th century, neo-liberalism gained ascendancy through these global governance institutions and many developing countries were forced through global trade rules set by the WTO to adopt the “Washington Consensus”. In essence these measures sought to open up markets for the free flow of goods, services and capital and the assumption was that this would lead to the increase in investment flows into developing economies and thus lead to economic growth. (Norberg-Hodge, 2000; Swilling and Annecke, 2009)

Some of the literature that deals with this issue (Noberg-Hodge, 2000; Dresner, 2002; Hartwick and Peet, 2003) suggests that the global trade regime that has evolved has the effect of deepening the inequality between countries in the global South and those in the North. Globalisation (or more specifically, trade-induced economic growth) is also largely to blame for the crumbling ecological and social foundations in many countries, in spite of the fact that the WTO has formally integrated the protection of the environment in its policies.

The global governance bodies do not genuinely support an ecologically sustainable regime or economic and social justice for the overwhelming majority of poor people in the global South. Their sole purpose is to liberalise trade, with concessions made for rich member states, e.g. farmers in the European Union and United States. Hartwick and Peet (2003) also point out that even the solutions that the WTO puts forward to the deepening poverty and environmental degradation are increased trade and economic growth - the two drivers of the crisis. The predominant paradigm in the WTO is that market rules can “fix” the problem either through investment in cleaner technologies or allowing industries to continue polluting as long as they can pay for it and earn so called “carbon credits”.

Urbanisation which is a phenomenon that increasingly confronts developing countries is seen in some literature (Norberg-Hodge, 2000; Satterthwaite, 2003; Swilling, 2005) as one of the factors that deepen poverty, change ecosystems and create new social and economic crises. Swilling (2005) argues that, in South African towns and cities, inequality is perpetuated by the legislative and practical arrangements at local government levels.

The lack of popular mandate and democratic control; the lack of accountability of multi-national companies that trade across the globe within the scope of WTO rules; and the lack of accountability of institutions such as the World Bank and IMF present a serious challenge, especially to developing countries. The structure of the WTO is clearly biased towards rich member states. The speculative activity that has been allowed to flourish in the global markets has also had a devastating effect on the economies of developing countries. (Norberg-Hodge, 2000; Hartwick & Peet, 2003)

Towards the end of the 20th and at he beginning of the 21st centuries, many scholar/activists such as Norberg-Hodge (2000) and Hartwick and Peet (2003) held out hope that the greens and the “new” social movements could challenge the logic of globalisation and neo-liberalism and they cite the anti-WTO protests at Seattle in 1999 and other instances where popular pressure was applied successfully to reverse some unpopular policies in Europe to validate their optimism. They argued that strategic engagement between activists, organised bodies, and academics will lead towards the rolling back of the advances of neo-liberalism.

In the aftermath of the crash of the global financial markets and the shrinking of most of the economies of developed countries, the ideological self-assurance that existed in the neo-liberal camp and the hegemony of the Unites States of America have been shaken. This has opened up space for thoroughgoing reassessment of the logic of market fundamentalism, the global and national governance structures, regulation and the strategic mandate of financial institutions and has placed the need for more sustainable alternatives on the agenda. In other words, we are in a post neo-liberal era and we must take that into account when we craft policies.

The Developmental State

The current phase of capitalism, which we are referring to as “globalisation”, has profound and complex impacts on all classes within the various national political economies. In addition, as political processes grapple with these very dynamic forces, it impacts on the sovereignty of the nation state. The revolution in information and communication technology (ICT) is leading to observable structural changes in productive forces, production relations and the workings of the international capitalist system. These developments are not necessarily negative and great progress in development is possible if these changes are harnessed for the benefit of all our citizens. However, to do this in South Africa, we will indeed have to build an effective developmental state. (Erwin, 2008)

Alec Erwin makes some insightful remarks but also makes some wrong assumptions. His assertion that globalisation is not necessarily a bad idea, reflects the thinking that has formed the basis for the South African government’s policy and planning framework in the past decade and a half. Erwin makes the mistaken assumption that globalisation is inevitable and that all we should do is “harness” its progressive elements and we will do well as a country.

Amartya Sen, in Swilling and Annecke (2009) captures the main objective of any developmental state as “enhancing the capabilities” of people for renewing and creating the kind of development that they feel is appropriate in their contexts. The developmental state has taken centre stage in the South African political discourse over the past few years. It has in fact become one of the key policy issues for the ANC and government. In essence the developmental state is characterised by its ability to intervene strategically in the economy to guide investment towards national developmental goals.

Most of the literature concurs that this concept has never represented the same thing in history. Swilling and Annecke (2009) use the examples of Japan and Taiwan and contrast them with the East Asian “tigers” as well as the more recent experiments in countries like Venezuela, China etc. to illustrate that point. Another leading economist, Dani Rodrik acknowledges that the world comprises complex systems in which there can be no single developmental path. In other words, there is no blueprint on how to build a developmental state that could be applied successfully in all countries.

The Presidency in the fifteen year review highlights four key policy objectives of the South African government:

The fifteen-year review acknowledges that, while there has been significant progress towards achieving these objectives, the course that the country is on currently is unsustainable. The review actually argues that “if all indicators were to continue along the same trajectory, especially in respect of the dynamic of economic inclusion and exclusion, we could soon reach a point where the negatives start to overwhelm the positives.” (The Presidency, 2008).

Basic services

The fifteen-year review confirms the government’s commitment to provide access to electricity, water and sanitation as basic services. The government already provides free basic services to many poor households: 6 000 litres of water a month and electricity worth 50kwh per month. (The Presidency, 2008)

This commitment has contributed to the improvement of the standard of living for many of the South African poor. But the Presidency (2008) admits that there has been less progress in providing these services at higher standards such as water inside a dwelling and flush toilets; and that many people complain that they are insufficient; and there are increasing challenges of affordability.

The reason for the government’s inability to provide a higher standard of water and sanitation and the challenge of affordability are related the design of the infrastructure that it inherited from the apartheid era and has not sought to alter. In most of the towns and cities of South Africa, the bulk water and sanitation infrastructure is designed in such a way that water and sewerage travel many kilometres from water purification plants to households and from households to sewerage plants. The cost of constructing and maintaining infrastructure of this scale is enormous.

In Cape Town, for instance, more than 60% of the water that is potable and has been purified by the municipality at great cost is used to flush toilets and transport sewerage and of the 550 000 tons of sewerage per annum, only 5% is recycled. (Swilling, 2005)

The price of fuel that has risen sharply as a result of the high price of oil has led to increases in the cost of most goods and services. The increases have had a devastating impact on the poor. The government therefore has to focus on implementing policies that reduce these costs. In order to alleviate the plight of the poor the new administration could roll out solar water heaters and LP gas stoves, rail and taxis that run on biogas or hydrogen. According to Swilling (2005) these technologies are technically feasible, cheaper to operate and need less capital investment.

The government should consider using technologies that treat sewerage at neighbourhood level and recycle more water for reuse in households. Sewerage from several households could be transported to biogas digesters and the methane gas that is collected from these devices could be used for cooking in the households. Alternatively, a biolytic system could be considered. It uses worms to breakdown the solids in grey and black water from households and this water that comes out rich in nutrients could be used to enrich compost that is used in the community gardens that support food security programmes and improve the nutrition and general health of communities.

A lot of the waste generated by households goes to landfills and according to Swilling (2005) more than 40% of it is organic - food, vegetable peels etc. This organic waste could be composted and used in the neighbourhood food gardens. What is also frightening is that cities are running out of land for landfills and there is evidence that some of the toxic chemicals that are dumped in those landfills contaminate aquifers and ground water and this poses a threat to our future water supplies.

Education and Health

The government prides itself for having an education budget that is among the biggest in the world. According to the Presidency (2008) in 2005 the education budget was 5.59% of gross national product (GNP), within the norm of developed countries’ expenditure.

The weakness of the South African government’s approach is that it uses the size of the budget as the single most important tool to address the crisis in education. But there is also recognition that the performance of South African learners is poor when compared to that of their Southern African counterparts who have far fewer resources available to them.

The government has put too much emphasis on educating the youth in order to meet the needs of industry and to make the economy competitive in the globalised world. This has NOT led to massive employment that was envisaged. The alternative that should be considered (Norberg-Hodge (2000)is that the youth should be educated for diverse environments, cultures and economic systems. In other words, the content and form of education should primarily be about mastering the local economy and culture while at the same time equipping the youth with the skills to adapt to other contexts. This alternative does not mean that the flow of information from other cultures would be curtailed. It simply means that the education system would negate the idealised myths about “development” and western urban life that are so pervasive in the current education system and also encouraged by the mass media. (Norberg-Hodge 2000)

Similarly, in the provision of health services, the government has focused on the increase in expenditure over a period of 10 years from 1996 to 2006 as a tool to measure progress. But it also admits that the increases in expenditure have not necessarily led to a better quality of service. The review points out that “the key concern is how to use health resources to achieve better health outcomes, taking into account the impact of the socio-economic environment both on health and on implementation.” (The Presidency, 2008)

The alternative is for the government to fund the building of more but smaller community clinics; focus on health education especially among the youth as well as preventative medicine. Norberg-Hodge (2000) argues that this would lead to increased access to health services to most communities and lower the cost of medical care to the state and also lead to improved wellbeing of the people.

Housing

According to the Presidency (2008) in the years from 1994 to 2008, 3 132 769 housing subsidies were approved, and 2 358 667 houses were built as a result of expenditure of R48.5 billion. This brought housing to 9.9 million citizens who could access state-subsidised housing opportunities. This is a remarkable achievement when it is looked at from a quantitative perspective. However, the review also says that a number of new housing settlements are located far from work opportunities and therefore perpetuate urban sprawl and a “mismatch between the location of accommodation and economic activity”.

In order to address these challenges, the new government needs to focus on the provision of safer public transport, a ‘walking distance’ approach to neighbourhood planning, by-laws governing house design and energy efficiency, the provision of a waste separation and recycling service, and even investments in food markets to improve the health of communities and lower the cost of food. (Swilling, 2005)

The government should also consider using cheaper, locally available materials for building houses. The national and provincial departments must act to reverse the neo-apartheid practice of building neighbourhoods exclusively for the rich and the poor. The continuation of this practice is counterproductive - the government’s investments in low cost houses are a drain on the country’s resources because the value of real estate in exclusively low income neighbourhoods inevitably stays low and this limits the possibility of wealth being created among the working class and poor.

The eco-village design is appealing to more and more people around the world. According to Norberg-Hodge (2000) in this form of settlement, residents use renewable energy and recycle most of what they use; reduce consumption, competition and conflict; and build cooperation and solidarity in their communities. In the process they also reduce the individual and household carbon footprints. South Africa should explore this option as a means to reduce environmental pollution and also deal with some of the social and economic crises in the country.

The Economy

The South African economy has been growing quite impressively in the post-apartheid years and according to the Presidency (2008) there have been 14 successive years of GDP growth and the rate of this growth increased from 2003. In spite of this, overall inequality has not been reduced. In fact in some sectors the inequalities increased. National income inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient increased from 0.64 to 0.69 between 1995 and 2005, and continued to do so from 2006 to 2007. This means that South Africa is among the most unequal societies in the world.

The fact that many states in the global South have been persuaded to pursue “trade” (Norberg-Hodge, 2000; Hartwick & Peet, 2003) as the solution to their developmental challenges means that many of them do not fully appreciate the causal link between “trade” (introduced at the outset of colonisation) and their current state of poverty. According to Swilling and Annecke (2009) in developing countries, the goals of modernisation and trade have always been elusive but formed the basis of their policies.

The fifteen-year review acknowledges that the structure of the economy has not helped to address the crisis of deepening inequality. The industrial development trajectory is still skewed to the highly developed minerals and energy complex (MEC) with weak linkages to other industries domestically and has had poor employment outcomes.

Paradoxically, the review declares proudly “since 1994, the economy has become more open, more productive and more outward orientated with both exports and imports growing rapidly.” This is the policy choice that has led to the failure of our country to have employment creating economic growth and reduction in inequality. The government has spent too much time and resources trying to become a player on the international trading stage without a great deal of positive results. After playing a role in the WTO Doha Round in 2001, South Africa continued to participate optimistically in the protracted process - as yet not concluded.

The WTO’s trade liberalisation policies have meant that most countries have invested massively in infrastructure to open up their economies to trade and relax protection of local industries (Norberg-Hodge, 2000) and the South African government has also been hopeless in anticipating and planning for the consequences of the consumption-driven economic growth. It admits that growth outpaced infrastructure planning, construction and maintenance, electricity generation and distribution, water reticulation and the country’s logistic system. The government now seeks to recover from this situation through massive investments in new infrastructure and repairing the old one. I argue that this is the wrong way to address the problem. Future investments in infrastructure should mainly be focused on building the capabilities of communities to build local, sustainable neighbourhoods and economies.

South Africa should also work with other states and sign an internationally agreed treaty that would enable states to use trade tariffs to regulate the import of goods that could be produced locally in order to support the growth of local enterprises. In the context of the global economic meltdown, governments should formulate new regulations to limit the free flow of capital in order to reduce the advantage that huge corporations have over more local enterprises and to limit the influence of speculators in the global markets.

Our government decided to implement a set of interventions into the so-called “second economy”. These interventions were conceived as part of wider anti-poverty measures and to “promote access to economic opportunities and help improve the returns from economic participation for poor people, whether as producers, workers or consumers.” (The Presidency, 2008)

The notion of the second-economy is a disappointing characterisation of a known problem of the dichotomy created by capitalism - obscene levels wealth exist simultaneously with grinding poverty. In its arsenal to fight poverty, the government has social security grants that it believes have been effective in reducing poverty and promoting social development and health.

In the light of the current global economic crisis and looming recession domestically, the sustainability of these anti-poverty policies will surely be tested. The government’s commitment to roll out social grants has been premised on the assumption that it was going to be able to collect ever-increasing revenues through taxation of companies and individuals in a context of uninterrupted growth in the economy.

The new administration has to change course and implement more sustainable alternatives. According to Norberg-Hodge (2000) we need to consider ‘buy local’ campaigns to encourage people to spend within the local community; create local currencies that can encourage trade at the local level; agriculture and manufacturing that are supported by the community either through ‘subscription’ by people in the community to have goods delivered by a neighbourhood farmer or manufacturer; or communities embarking on aggressive food garden and manufacturing cooperative projects. Finance for local enterprises can be secured through the state-supported savings and credit cooperatives that would be owned and run by members of the communities themselves and facilitate the accumulation of wealth in the communities.

The government’s focus on GDP as the single most important yardstick to measure development is a limiting factor to its ability to adopt strategic interventions that would lead to the improvement in the quality of life for many of its targeted recipients of poverty relief policies. One of the weaknesses of GDP is that it “considers only the portion of economic activity that involves monetary transactions, thereby leaving out functions of family, community and the environment.” (Norberg-Hodge, 2000)

Dresner (2002) argues that a high GDP in a particular country does not necessarily lead to happiness of the population. Swilling and Annecke (2009) argue that GDP alone is not the most important consideration. Bartelmus (1994) also believes that economic growth cannot be the sole policy focus since it does not give the full picture of the circumstances of any society. Amartya Sen, in Harris, Wise, Gallagher & Goodwin (2001), argues that the Human Development Index (HDI) is a more helpful tool to measure development.

The environment

The fifteen-year review accepts that economic growth and development have happened at the expense of the natural resources and ecosystem services. The Presidency (2008) argues, correctly, that “if our long-term economic performance is to avoid breaching key ecological thresholds, we need new technologies and processes that produce more output with less energy, fewer resource inputs and reduced waste.” But the next sentence in the review reveals the ideological standpoint of its authors. Its states that: “in this context, possible market-based instruments are being investigated, such as taxes, charges and incentives that could promote environmental protection and biodiversity conservation.”

The idea that the market is capable of protecting the environment under the present global trade policies is flawed. There needs to be investment by governments and the private sector in technologies that reverse the trends that lead to environmental degradation - what Swilling and Annecke (2009) call “innovations for sustainability”. The fifteen year review alludes to the fact that there needs to be increased efficiency in the systems of production so as to “decouple” the increase in the use of resources from economic growth. This means we should strive for the “dematerialisation” of our route to industrialisation. We have to reduce the use of fossil fuels which powered industrialisation in the developed countries during the 19th and 20th centuries and replace them mainly with renewable energy systems that are viable in South Africa, such as solar, wind etc.

The scientific consensus also confirms the fact that human activities (Mebratu, 1998) as well as the dependence on the exploitation of fossil fuels to address the energy needs of the economy (Swilling and Annecke, 2009) have had a devastating impact on the environment. Swilling (2005) argues that the current growth-oriented and urban-biased policy framework is unsustainable. Dresner (2002) and Hartwick and Peet (2003) dispute the predominant view in the WTO that the more the developing countries industrialise, the less the impact their economic and social activities will have on the environment - the concept known as the Kuznet’s curve1.

Most governments do not even take into account the hidden costs (as a result of subsidies through, for example, state-funded infrastructure) and the pollution and waste that is generated in the process of packaging and moving goods over long distances to markets in far-flung areas of the world. (Norberg-Hodge, 2000)

Some researchers (Bartelmus, 1994; Norberg-Hodge, 2000; Swilling, 2005) argue that policy makers should NOT encourage the poor of the world to seek to adopt the consumption patterns of the rich since the earth simply does not have the carrying capacity for this. Swilling and Annecke (2009) criticise development economists for their lack of insight into the constraints on resource-driven models of future economic growth. They argue that technology must be used to “reverse” the current trend and move towards the separation of economic growth from increases in resource exploitation.

Conclusion

Based on the fifteen-year review document, I have argued that in the past fifteen years our government has had an inappropriate global, neo-liberal outlook that has failed to deliver the expected outcomes which include the reduction of poverty and inequality. The major flaw in this framework was the singular focus economic growth through trade and consumption. The review revealed that while there has been tremendous progress on the social and economic front, the development path that has been followed in the past fifteen years is unsustainable.

I have also argued that instead of trying to align our country’s policies to “harness” the good elements of globalisation, we need to reverse the trends completely towards localisation because globalisation is a wasteful and unsustainable system. The government also needs to focus on other tools to measure the health of the country’s population and environment. By implementing these localisation measures, I think that the government’s future reviews would reflect a downward trend in social ills and environmental degradation and an upward trend in the health, safety and happiness of the people; as well as more resilient economic growth.

REFERENCES

Bartelmus, Peter (1994) Environment, Growth and Development. The concepts and strategies of sustainability. Routledge, London. Chapter 1

Dresner, Simon (2002) The principles of sustainability. Earthscan, London.

Erwin, Alec (2008) The Developmental State and Political Power. New Agenda, Issue 30, Second Quarter, 2008, pp.26-31

Harris, J., Wise T., Gallagher, K. and Goodwin, N. (Eds) (2001) A Survey of Sustainable Development, Washington/Covelo/London, Island Press.

Hartwick, E. & Peet, R. (2003) Neoliberalism and Nature: The case of the WTO. Annals of the American Academy, 590, November, 2003, pp.188-211.

Mebratu, Desta. (1998) Sustainability and sustainable development: Historic and conceptual review. Environment Impact Assessment Review, No 18, pp 493-520

Norberg-Hodge, Helena. (2000) Shifting Direction: From Global Dependence to Local Independence. Brightsea Press, International Society for Ecology and Culture.

Republic of South Africa. The Presidency, 2008. Towards a fifteen year review. [Online] Pretoria: The Presidency. www.gov.za [10 April 2009]

Satterthwaite, David (2003) The links between Poverty and the Environment in Urban Areas of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Annals of the American Academy, 590, November, 2003, pp.73-92.

Swilling, M (2005) Global Inequality and infrastructure planning in South Africa: A Cape Town case study. Environment and Urbanisation. Vol18, No. 1, April 2006, pp. 23-51

Swilling, M. & Annecke E. (2009) Sustainable Futures: A Southern Perspective. Chapter 3.