Number 34, 3rd Quarter 2010



The revolution within the revolution - Thenjiwe Mtintso
Twenty years since the relaunch of the ANC Women’s League
COSATU’s National Gender Conference Declaration
Social policy and the gender struggle - Isobel Fry
The Black Sash: fifty-five years on - Marcella Naidoo
Liberate women to make Africa’s productive revolution - Roger Hällhag

Spotlight on provinces: KwaZulu Natal - Sihle Zikalala
A decisive victory, elections 2009 review
Imagine a low carbon economy - Gino Govendor
Immigration: social justice, security and prosperity - John Carneson

100 years since the Union of South Africa - Malusi Gigaba
The life and struggle of Bettie du Toit - Andries Nel
60 years since the banning of the CPSA - Rudolph Phaala

Western Sahara - Nathi Mthethwa

Writing women

Editorial Collective

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

The views expressed in this edition of Umrabulo, do not necessarily reflect the views of the ANC or of the Editorial Collective.


In September 2010, the ANC will convene its National General Council in Durban, KwaZulu Natal. It is billed as the largest political school of the movement, aimed at reviewing progress made since the 52nd National Conference in 2007 and to reflect on the challenges facing our people and the movement.

Over four thousand delegates from branches and structures, the Leagues and Alliance partners will gather to discuss progress with implementing our Elections 2009 Manifesto priorities: education, health, fighting crime and corruption, sustainable communities, rural and agrarian reform and decent work and economic growth. The review will not only look at work done to date, but also how the ANC can ensure that we make decisive progress in these areas, as South Africa approaches the Second Decade of Freedom in 2014.

Umrabulo 34 focuses on progress with building a non-sexist society, a critical part of the national democratic society we envisage. A decade ago, at the 2000 ANC National General Council a comprehensive review was done on progress in building a non-sexist South Africa in the Midterm Organisational review to the NGC. Seven years later, the 2007 Strategy and Tactics acknowledged that the struggle against patriarchal relations is not just a by-product of the democratic and national revolution, but requires an understanding of how patriarchal relations intersect with race and class, and how deliberately we therefore take forward the struggle for gender equality and the emancipation of women.

The struggle for gender equality and the emancipation of women have many dimensions, as shown in the articles we feature in this focus. These issues range from how we ensure a critical mass of women in all institutions through such instruments as quotas, to the role of women who find themselves in these positions of power and responsibility. It speaks to the engendering of all aspects of policy, whether in the trade union movement, in social policy or in the renaissance of the African continent. The South African women’s movement has a rich history from which it draws inspiration, and in our book section we feature a small sample of the many writings by and about women in our country.

Wishing our readers a productive Women’s Month.

Poem by ANC stalwart, Ma Dora Tamana

"You who have no work, speak
You who have no homes, speak
You who have no schools, speak
You who have to run like chicken from the vulture, speak...

There are no crèches or nursery schools for our children
There are no homes for the aged
There is no one to care for the sick
Women must unite to fight for these rights
I opened the road for you
You must go forward"

FOCUS: Building a non-sexist South Africa

The Revolution within the Revolution
From the 2000 NGC to the 2010 Women's Month
By Thenjiwe Mtintso


August, Women's month, is always the best month for the women in South Africa especially those in the ANC. It's their month. It is the time when society in general and the ANC and its government in particular pay special attention to women, their aspirations, hopes, the quality of their lives, their joys and pains. Democracy takes a deliberate moment to focus on how far it has gone in trying to kick out patriarchy, the partner it cohabits with.

In this month we pay tribute to those heroes and heroines who in different ways ensured democracy in our country. The best tribute we can pay to them is to defend and deepen the gains already made and united in action, change the lives of those who have as yet to taste the "better life" in real terms, the majority of whom are the black poor, rural and working class women existing in the periphery of society.

As part of that celebration this article takes a brief stock of the past ten years. It is absolutely critical to say from the onset: MALIBONGWE!

Not only have the ANC and its government opened democratic spaces in society for the participation of women in all spheres of life and for the creation of real democracy and a non-patriarchal society, but it has also led the same campaign in the region and the continent. Amongst others, the ANC government played a critical role in the adoption of the Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC) Gender Protocol with its programme for gender equality and the commitment of the not less than 50% quota for women in all decision-making structures in SADC countries by 2015.

South Africa is currently ranked number 49, the third country in Africa out of the 102 non-OECD countries in terms of the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI). It is thanks to the ANC, especially its internal quota system, that after the 2009 elections, RSA is ranked 3rd in the world with 44.5% women in parliament in the Inter-Parliamentary Union ranking. The global average, according to the IPU, is 19%.

The body of legislation that has been added to the already existing laws since 2000, the programmes, the institutional framework, the creation of a dedicated Ministry, the launch of the Progressive Women's Movement, the refocusing of the HIV and AIDS programme and the highlighting of the gender dynamics of the epidemic, are a clear report on the work that our movement has done in the past 10 years. Some of this progress is well documented in the ANC, ANCWL, government, national and international, NGO and other reports. These reports include the Government's Towards a fifteen year review, the country report submitted for the Beijing + 15 Conference as well as other national and international gender equality monitoring institutions reports.

A revolution within a revolution

The ANC has achieved within 16 years what many so-called old democracies have yet to achieve in their long period of existence. However, we should be the first to acknowledge that a lot still has to be done.

The Vietnamese feminists say that gender struggles are in themselves a "revolution within a revolution", with no clear demarcated stages. We therefore have to spend the time analysing and praising our achievements, but make even more concerted efforts in diagnosing our shortcomings and weaknesses and finding solutions. This is in keeping with what Cde Steve Tshwete taught us, that we cannot spend a lot of time being "iimbongi" to ourselves on our achievements, but more pressing is the focus on resolving the challenges. President Zuma in the July 2010 NEC also emphasised the need to focus on resolving problems.

This article in celebration of the women's month focuses on some but not all of the pillars the ANC has identified towards the creation of a non-patriarchal society.

  1. Access to and participation in decision making at all levels in society, beginning with the ANC
  2. Improving the status and quality of life of women, creating a gender friendly environment and removing all barriers and constraints to the achievement of gender equality.
  3. Removing all constraints and women-unfriendly practices, including religious, cultural and social barriers to gender equality
  4. A gendered perspective.
  5. Eradication of patriarchy in all its forms and transformation of South Africa into a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist society.

The ANC Constitution: Women's participation in all decision-making spheres

The ANC has long debated and agreed on the need for women to access decision-making structures. It has also long emphasised that quantitative presence or access is not necessarily a representation of women in decision-making nor is it an achievement of gender equality. But as said above, it recognised the importance of access and presence as only one of the critical pillars and indicators on the road map to gender equality.

It was therefore to advance this strategic analysis that the ANC amended its Constitution at the 2007 Polokwane Conference to increase the quota of women in all decision-making structures to "not less than 50%".

Fortunately for women in the ANC, the ANC Constitution is sacrosanct. Or is it? A random check of the implementation of the 2007 ANC Constitution after the 52nd National Conference revealed some interesting results. In addition, As indicated earlier, the ANC government, has been the champion of the SADC protocol and is amongst the countries that went into elections after the protocol was adopted in 2005 The choice of a few of these spheres is simply because they are at the pinnacle of decision-making in society, with some of them where the direction of the lives of the citizens are decided upon. Space does not allow the list to be exhaustive nor does it allow a focus on the spheres outside the ANC and its government.

Total number of Ministers in Cabinet: 34, with 22 males and 12 females.

Total number of Deputy Ministers: 28, with 17 male and 11 female.

Total number of Premiers in provinces controlled by the ANC: 8, with equal numbers of females and males. The ninth province controlled by the Democratic Alliance also has a female Premier.

Provincial MECs, July 2010
E Cape 4 5
Freestate 6 4
Gauteng 5 5
KZN 5 5
Limpopo 6 4
Mpumalanga 6 4
North West 4 6
N Cape 7 3
W Cape 10 0
TOTAL 53 36


Northern Cape has the least women Members of the Executive Council, with no women MECs in the DA-controlled W Cape Provincial Executive, besides the Premier. (Sources: and provincial government websites.)

Total number of directly elected NEC members at 52nd National Conference, Polokwane (2007): 86, with 44 male and 42 women elected. (Source:

Ex-officio members of the NEC are Provincial chairpersons and secretaries and the Presidents and Secretary Generals of the three Leagues. (Source:

The National Working Committee of the ANC is elected after Conference from amongst the NEC. Out of total members of 25, 14 are male and 11 female. (Source:

ANC Provincial office bearers (Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, Provincial Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Treasurer) are elected at Provincial Conferences of the ANC. Since the 52nd National Conference in 2007, seven ANC provinces held their Provincial Conferences. Only North West and W Cape have not yet gone to their Conferences. Figure 9 (above) and Figure 10 (below) therefore exclude these two provinces. (Source: and provincial ANC sites)

Some of these statistics beg the question - is the ANC Constitution really sacrosanct? Or does it cease to be so when it comes to matters related to women and gender equality? A disturbing development is the fact that the NEC has not taken issue with this infringement.

The response may lie in the complexity of patriarchy, the dynamics within the movement, the problems of unity and cohesion, the tendency towards fragmentation, dirty tricks in lobbying, "amakhasi/slates, cabals and sub cabals" all of which affect the approach to responsibilities and deployment and ultimately, at the altar of which is sacrificed women. Women themselves have also been in the thick of these tendencies and sometimes consciously or unconsciously were gatekeepers against other capable women.

One of the developments in the recent service delivery protests against councillors, is that they were sometimes headed by the ANC or its Allies are women. Is it really that most women Mayors and Councillors are incapable or is it patriarchy once again in disguised forms which expects women to move out for men? Local government elections will take place in 2011 and the NEC must guide the ANC structures to ensure they don't fail the ANC Constitution.

The ANC leads and it must do so consistently. It has to give its members and society confidence that it means what it says. The Constitution cannot be "nearly met", as some glibly state. It is sacrosanct. The NEC has to find a way of resolving this quantitative and actually easier matter to address on the road to real gender equality.

Women, on the other hand, should avoid the politics of absorption, entryism and "we have arrived" or comfort zone syndrome as these endanger the whole essence of access. It is accepted that women do not enter these spheres as "representatives" of women nor as the ones solely responsible for raising the gender flag. However it is imperative that they lead these, just as we as blacks are expected wherever we are to fight racism in all its forms. Such struggles are our very lifeline.

The critical issue for ANC women wherever they are is therefore to enter these spheres and grab the power to use it for transformation while simultaneously transforming the male definitions of power. We should see power as some of our sisters in the developing world do and as one Chinese gender activist puts it

"We want to use power to transform society, so that certain issues such as peace, social justice, equality become the dominant issues, so that values change… we do not want only to support women to enter leadership position in all spheres of life but also and mainly to transform these spheres". (Jahan, 1997)

Improving the quality of life of women and removing barriers.

The improvement of the status and quality of life of women is not dependent on the ANC and its government alone. It depends on the whole society and all its structures. But the ANC must lead. While there have been many achievements as highlighted in the Beijing +15 report, the report itself identified key weaknesses. Some of these are also highlighted by gender activists and organisations especially in the areas of gender based violence, sexism, access to resources especially health, land, education, decent jobs and wages.

The ANC and its government still has a long road ahead in the creation of a gender and women friendly environment and in removing the many practices that constrain the advancement of women and a faster pace to gender equality.

There are unacceptably high levels of gender-based violence (GBV) against women and girls - in schools, families and communities. Patriarchal attitudes and prejudices are rife, demonstrated in certain cultural and religious practices, which have a devastating impact on women's dignity, and enjoyment of rights to equality and non-discrimination.

Some ANC members and some in the leadership have publicly made utterances or statements that may be perceived as sexist. Some ANC members and even leading figures have been fingered in gender-based violence. The zero tolerance that the ANC shows against any racism or racial connotations has not, in recent years, been as strong when it comes to sexism.

A cursory check of discussions in the NEC and other documents, outside election time, will show that the discussion on gender relations is a rare occurrence. Taking up gender related matters is sporadic, and tend to be event-focussed like the Caster Semenya case or the human trafficking and decriminalising sex work in relation to the World Cup. There is no consistent, coherent, and principled strategy to address the fundamental contradiction. Unfortunately this is true of all the ANC allies too.

There is also the weakness of silence on public discourse on matters related to culture, tradition or sexual orientation. Sometimes when these matters need to be discussed, some in the ANC then whip out the South African Constitution since it enshrines some of these. At these times the ANC and indeed its allies forget the heated debates we had in the Constituent Assembly process in relation to clauses that sought to balance democracy and traditional authority. There remains a tension between some of our cultural and traditional practices on the one hand and the Constitution of our democratic state. Some of these practices cannot be ignored as they have an impact on women and gender relations and the understanding of society of gender relations.

We have a diversity of cultures in our society. All of these are dynamic and in constant motion as the environment changes. None of our cultures are static. Some of these cultural issues are very sensitive, but cannot be wished away in a conspiracy of silence in the Alliance. The ANC has always had a culture of discussing and leading on any issue in any sphere and especially on difficult issues. This has to continue. We may not always agree, but our silence in some instances causes problems especially as some of the practices may be taking back the hard-won victories on gender-related matters.

The ANC has not been very strong in monitoring the operations of the Gender Machinery. It is a public secret that the CGE and indeed the OSW have faced many challenges, which in turn affected their own mandate. The Asmal report long indicated that the CGE was for some time dysfunctional and yet the ANC government was lethargic in acting. There has been Acting Chair for a long time. The Parliamentary Committee on the Quality of Life and Status of Women does not seem to have been helpful too. ANC cadres in this Committee should be asked to assist the ANC in supporting these Institutions, it after all created them.

A perusal of Hansards of Parliament reflects a continued weakness in the mainstreaming of gender in all parliamentary debates and discourses, especially in Portfolio Committee session. Maybe parliament should have a toolkit on how to mainstream gender in every debate. The ANC parliamentarians have to take responsibility to lead in this regard.

We have heralded the establishment of the Women's Ministry as progressive step forward. Unfortunately, it was bundled with other sectors that on their own need specific, but different approaches. In keeping with patriarchy, and contrary to the ANC understanding of gender struggles, children and those with disability were dumped on the plate of this Ministry as if to confirm that after all, this is exactly what women in society are supposed to do… take care of children, those living with disability and the elderly. In a word, care givers.

Much as it is a Ministry, experience elsewhere have shown, as far back as the 70's and 80's during the rise of the "Women in Development" approach, that if women ministries are cluttered with other matters and are not directly in the Presidency, they do tend to be sidelined. At that time the women's emancipation and gender equality matters were not mainstreamed but "ghettoised" in these under-resourced Womens Ministries.

Hopefully, we have learnt from all these experiences not to commit the same mistakes. The ANC has to assist that Ministry, like all others, but particularly because of the complexity of the issues and the backlog in the sectors it is dealing with.

The NEC unfortunately, in the past two years has discontinued its Gender Committee. This is despite the fact that the Polokwane resolution on this matter called for its review, not discontinuation. Instead of conducting the review, the NEC simply discontinued the committee. This weakened the ability of the NEC to consistently engage, pronounce, put programmes for and monitor all matters related to gender. At the same time most of the other NEC committees are also very weak in mainstreaming gender into their policy analysis, programmes and campaigns. The reinstatement of the Committee as per the resolution of the July 2010 NEC will go a long way in assisting the ANC in mainstreaming gender if it operates efficiently and coherently.

The process of launching the Progressive Women's Movement (PWM), starting at national level first, and not a process of building up from the grass roots, remains a challenge. This approach went against the ANC (and the women's movement's) own "bottom up/organic" approach. As a result, many women's organisations and also some feminist academics and feminists are still outside the fold and yet they are an integral part of the progressive movement of women in the country. The PWM has yet to make a significant impact in society, four years after its launch. Very few signs show that we are making concerted efforts to strengthen this PWM to ensure that it becomes the sharp tool it needs to be. The ANC, the ANCWL and the allies have to give leadership and support to the PWM. After all it is on the basis of a strong PWM that we can go far and faster on the road to real gender equality.

The ANC, the ANCWL and government also have to give consistent support and leadership to Pan African Women's Organisation (PAWO), after all it is even based here in our country and its success will not only facilitate gender struggles in the Continent but also in our country.

Gendered Perspectives

Gendered perspectives as discussed long ago, but more clearly articulated at the ANC Mafikeng Conference in 1997, especially the Strategy and Tactics include amongst others:

  1. theory elaborating the complexity of patriarchy in South Africa, the "patchwork tapestry" of its character and how it is embedded in and intersects with other unequal power relations and contradictions based on class, race, religion, sexual preferences and orientation and many other unjust relations as well its adaptation to, coexistence with and survival under democracy;
  2. The merging of practical gender and strategic gender needs and struggles
  3. Policies, programmes and institutional mechanisms that mainstream gender so that it is not taken in isolation from other policies and programmes in the economy, safety and security, rural development and land reform, poverty and food insecurity, education, health and indeed in all the ANC government polices, programmes and campaigns.
  4. Strategies, tools and tactics to change patriarchal attitudes and practices with ANC cadres being the agents for change and leading by living lives that reflect their non-patriarchal characters;
  5. Implementation and monitoring tools including institutions, with indicators to review and evaluate the advances made and gaps remaining; and
  6. A holistic transformative approach to the eradication of patriarchy and achievement of a real democratic and non-sexist South Africa.

A lot has been achieved in some aspects but a long way still has to be travelled. These gendered perspectives have been very elusive and sometimes confusing and confused. Fortunately the July 2010 NEC, after realising some of the weaknesses, has accepted the need to "gender-edit" all the reports and presentations to the NGC, produce a specific paper that will focus on "gendered perspectives", how far we have gone and what's to be done where weaknesses are identified.


The ANC recognises that there can never be real democracy without real gender equality and in this month in particular special attention will be paid on what's to be done. The crux of gender equality is to reach a completely transformed and non- patriarchal society. All struggles need leaders and all causes need champions. The ANC has a historical responsibility to do that for gender struggles. It has to lead in both theory and practice.


Thenjiwe Mtintso is a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC and serves as South African Ambassador to Italy.


ANC (1997). Strategy and Tactics of the ANC as amended and adopted by the ANC 50th National Conference. Mafikeng, December 1997.

ANC (2000). Midterm Organisational Review. ANC National General Council, Port Elizabeth, July 2000.

ANC (2007). "Resolutions of the ANC 52nd National Conference." Polokwane, December 2007.

Inter-Parliamentary Union (2010). "Women in Parliament. World classification." URL as on 30 June 2010.

Jahan, Rounaqu. (1997). The Practice of Transformative Politics. Paper delivered at the Fourth Asia-Pacific Congress of Women in Politics held on 1-3 September 1997 at Taipei. Centre for Asia-Pacific Women in Politics. URL

OECD (2009). Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI), 2009. Paris: OECD Development Centre. URL

Office on the Status of Women (2009). Country questionnaire for the Fifteenth-year review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Platform of Action (BPFA+ 15). Pretoria/Tshwane: Office on the Status of Women, The Presidency.

Presidency. (2008). Towards a fifteen year review. Pretoria/Tswhane: South African Government.

You have struck a rock!

Twenty years after the relaunch of the ANC Women's League

The ANC Women's League this month celebrates twenty years since its relaunch as a mass legal formation in August 1990. During this period, the League has recorded many achievements and also confronted some challenges. Despite the challenges, as we review progress with the building of a non-sexist South Africa during Women's month, there is no question about the need for a vibrant and mass organization of ANC women.

Wa'thint abafazi - a proud history of struggle

The ANC Women's League traces its history back to the formation of the Bantu Women's League in 1913, one year after the founding of the ANC, which at the time did not allow women to become full members. Not only were black women denied the right to participate in formal political activities, but all women - black and white - were denied the right to vote. Despite these restrictions, women under the banner of the Bantu Women's League organized and led struggle against pass laws, for better living and working conditions and for the right to vote. As South Africa became more industrialized during the next three decades, women begun to make their mark in the trade union movement - mainly in the nascent service sectors such as laundry, baking and clothing industries - fighting for an end to job reservation and the right to education and training.

It was these struggles of women that eventually led to white women winning the right to vote in 1934 and black women being allowed to become full members of the ANC in 1943. The ANC National Conference in 1943 also resolved to form a Women's League. Five years later, the ANC Women's League was formally launched in 1948. Women continued to play an active role in the Defiance Campaign of the 1950's, in the trade union movement and in other organisations such as the Congress of Democrats, the Communist Party of South Africa and the Coloured People's Organisation. Under the banner of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW), they pioneered the Women's Charter of 1954 and the historic march to the Union Buildings on August 9th, that we continue to celebrate. Along with the menfolk, women were banned, imprisoned and put on trial and during the 60's and subsequent decades, many of them to join the armed struggle and exile after Sharpville.

After the repression and lull of the 1960's, women's organisations, along with other mass formations started organizing again in the 1970's and 1980's. They participated in women's organisations, in civic, youth, students and labour movements and in the broader struggles to end apartheid. Although South Africa had a long history of women's political activism, it was during the period of the 1980's that we saw the integration of the struggle for gender equality into the broader theory and struggles for national liberation. This integration has often been presented as a dichotomy - reflected in such phrases as the ‘mothers of the nation', ‘fighting side by side with our menfolk' and a seeming contradiction between seeing gender issues as mainly about sexual and reproductive rights, whilst practical gender needs (better living conditions, education, etc)were seen as part of localized civic struggles (Hassim, 2006). Despite this, the women's movement emerged not only with strong local grassroots and a widespread sectoral presence (with women's structures or gender committees formed within in all sorts of different sectoral bodies), but also as an organized national presence and contributing to a growing acknowledgement of the intersection of not only race and class forms of oppression, but also gender - hence the recognition of the triple oppression of South African women.

The relaunch of the ANC Women's League in 1990

At the relaunch of the ANC Women's League in 1990, President OR Tambo reminded the League and the ANC about the pledge made in 1985, when along with President Nujoma from Namibia he declared that "…we would not consider our objectives achieved, our task completed, or our struggle at an end until the women of South Africa and Namibia are fully liberated." Earlier that year, the National Executive Committee of the ANC in a statement on ‘the emancipation of women' declared:

"The experience of other societies has shown that the emancipation of women is not a by-product of a struggle for democracy, national liberation or socialism. It has to be addressed in its own right within our organisation, the mass democratic movement and in the society as a whole."

The ANC Women's League in its newly reconstituted form had to bring together the different strands of the women's movement: women exiles from the ANC Women's Section and those organized in the mass democratic movement organisations such as the Federation of Transvaal Women, the Natal Organisation of Women, the Border Women's Congress, the United Women's Congress from the W Cape and others, and from the trade union movement and other mass formations.

Whilst welding together different traditions of struggle, the League also had to lead and fight along with other women in the Women's National Coalition for representation at the CODESA negotiations, for a gender quota at the historic ANC 48th National Conference in 1991 and organize and mobilize women to contribute demands and issues to the second Women's Charter, adopted in 1994.

The participation of women in the negotiations process and the mass mobilization process around the Women's National Coalition saw the inclusion of a commitment to gender equality and the building of a non-sexist South Africa in the Constitution of South Africa. The period before the 1994 elections also saw the ANC - following a resolution on this by the ANC Women's League Conference in 1991 - adopting a 30% gender quota for the lists for its public representatives, placing the first non-racial and democratic Parliament to be amongst the top in the world in terms of gender equality.

During the first fifteen years of freedom, the ANC Women's League along with the broader South African women's movement have been consistent in struggling for the improvement of the status of women, championing the establishment of a gender machinery (the Commission for Gender Equality, the Office on the Status of Women, and so forth), gender friendly policies and programmes of government and for the eradication of laws that discriminate against women.

South African women and the League also played an active and leading role in various international women's forums including the follow-up to the Beijing Conference, in the African Union and in the adoption of the SADC Gender Protocols.

During this period, the ANC Women's League faced a number of challenges, such as its ability to draw into its ranks women from other strata, younger generations and from amongst national minorities; ensuring that gender quotas are transformed into a real capability to impact on gender relations in all institutions and society and its ability to keep the issues of gender equality on the agenda of the ANC.

Twenty years later

Despite these challenges, as a mass movement of women, twenty years after its relaunch the League continues to grow. A major achievement of the League and other gender activists in the ANC has been to ensure the engendering of all policies of the movement. For example, the Strategy and Tactics of 1997 for the first time - beyond reference to non-sexism - sought to fully integrate the struggle against patriarchal relations into the theoretical framework of the national democratic revolution.

The Strategy and Tactics adopted at the 52nd National Conference in 2007 describes this process thus:

"Par. 27. While all communities, including the oppressors and the oppressed, evinced patriarchal relations of power, the struggle evolved to appreciate the real and potential role of women, and that their liberation from patriarchy was and should be an integral part of the new democracy."

"Par. 40. Precisely because patriarchal oppression was embedded in the economic, social, religious, cultural, family and other relations in all communities, its eradication cannot be an assumed consequence of democracy. All manifestations and consequences of patriarchy - from the feminisation of poverty, physical and psychological abuse, undermining of self-confidence, to open and hidden forms of exclusion from positions of authority and power - need to be eliminated. Critical in this regard is the creation of the material and cultural conditions that would allow the abilities of women to flourish and enrich the life of the nation."

In pursuit of the above, the ANC Women's League therefore continues to bear the responsibility of "spearheading gender transformation and the advancement of a women's agenda in all areas of social endeavour." The 11th National Conference of the League held in Mangaung in 2008 deliberated on this responsibility, and its wide-ranging resolutions reflect the seriousness with which delegates to this Conference engaged with the issues.

The 11th Conference resolutions dealt with the internal challenges of strengthening the League: building unity and cohesion, renewal of the organizational culture and values, strengthening branches and role of membership, strengthening the link between leadership and membership, and the need for political education and raising the gender consciousness of League members. It also dealt with the broader challenge to spearhead gender equality and changing the status of women, focusing on the building of a caring society, education and training, the economic empowerment of women, violence against women and children, sexual harassment, safer communities and women's health.

Following this important conference, the League embarked on programmes to implement these resolutions to advance women's agenda. It played a critical role in the 2009 elections campaign, with its 60 days of non-stop electioneering campaign, reaching out to women of all walks of live, visiting and engaging them in their homes, work places and places of worship, and contributing to the decisive victory of the ANC. It also continues to champion women's issues through public representatives and deployees in government and by mobilizing and organizing women at local and other levels around the issues that confront them. The League also remains committed to the Progressive Women's Movement in South Africa, and to building the African women's movement through the Pan African Women's Organisation (PAWO).

Conclusion - not an act of charity

Sixty-two years after the founding of the ANC Women's League and twenty years after its relaunch, it remains a critical instrument for women's emancipation. It is a role it must continue to play by strengthening its structures, building gender consciousness amongst its members and in the ANC and society, and by working with other women's organisations and structures in the country.

As we celebrate twenty years since the relaunch of the ANC Women's League, we should remember the words of President Samora Machel, when he said nearly four decades ago:

"The liberation of women is the fundamental necessity for the revolution, a guarantee of its continuity and a precondition for victory. The emancipation of women is not an act of charity, the result of a humanitarian or compassionate attitude. The objective of the revolution is to destroy the system of exploitation and build a new society, which releases the potential of human beings, reconciling them with labor and with nature. This is the context within which the question of women emancipation arises." (Samora Machel at the Founding Conference of the Organization of the Mozambican Women (OMM) in 1973)


African National Congress - all documents on
(1990). "Statement of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress on the Emancipation of Women in South Africa." 2 May 1990.
(1997). "Strategy and Tactics of the ANC amended and adopted at the 50th National Conference, Mafikeng, December 1997."
(2007). "Building a national democratic society. Strategy and Tactics of the ANC." Amended and adopted at the 52nd National Conference, Polokwane, December 2007.
ANC Women's League (2008). "11th National Conference Report." Mangaung, 02 - 06 July 2008.
ANC Youth League (2001). "The ANCYL and its role in the struggle for gender equality." 21st National Congress Discussion papers.

Ginwala, Frene. (2001). "Women and the African National Congress: 1912-1943." Umrabulo no. 13, 4th Quarter 2001.

Hassim, Shireen. (2006). Women's organisations and democracy in South Africa. Contesting authority. Scottsville: University of KwaZulu Natal Press.

Myakayaka-Manzini, Mavivi. (2003). "Political Party Quotas in South Africa."Paper presented at the IDEA/EISA/SADC Parliamentary Forum Conference on The Implementation of Quotas: African Experiences, Pretoria, South Africa, 11-12 November 2003.

Tambo, OR. (1990). "Speech at the concluding session of the Conference of the Women's Section of the ANC." Luanda, September 14, 1981. Sechaba, December 1981.


National Gender Conference Declaration

10-11 June 2009

We, the delegates to the COSATU National Gender Conference gathered at Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg from 10-11 June 2009, with the theme "Putting Gender Equality at Centre Stage in COSATU".

The current global economic crisis places increasing pressure on the working class, in particular women and their labour, both paid and unpaid.  We are deeply concerned about rising unemployment, declined social expenditure and the ongoing poverty and inequality in our country.  While all this is happening, employers are likely to call for wage freezes, short-time, retrenchments and closures.  At the same time, food prices are on the rise, and petrol, paraffin and electricity rates are increasing.   The vulnerable sectors, whose majority are women - including contract cleaning, hospitality, retail, farm workers and domestic workers amongst others - will be hardest hit.

Conference noted that women continue to be faced with the ravages of patriarchy, including violence, rape, the unequal burden of household labour and discrimination, such as low pay and sexual harassment at the workplace.  We further recognise that sex workers are at the receiving end of the most vicious forms of abuse stemming from the combined effects of patriarchy and capitalist exploitation.

Conference identified opportunities to make real change in favour of working class women and towards gender equality.  These include, amongst others:

Conference re-affirmed the COSATU Gender Policy and Implementation Strategy and the 2006 Gender Conference Resolutions.  We further re-affirmed the vision outlined by the September Commission on "Building a Movement of Women Workers".  This vision includes the following:

Along these lines, the conference also re-affirmed our long-standing vision of "Trade Unions for Women and Women for Trade Unions".  This highlights the urgent need to rebuild gender activism and raise the voices of women within the union movement, and ensure that unions are able to genuinely advance the interests of women workers.  

We identified the reality that male leaders hide behind the banner of gender to continue to oppress women and committed ourselves as gender structures and activists to strongly challenge patriarchal leadership styles and practices in our unions.

Some of the key issues on which Conference resolved include the following:

On Women leadership, representation and challenges of union organisational culture

On Collective Bargaining

On Labour Brokers

On International and local movements and institutions

On sex workers

The Gender Conference thus commits itself to take forward all of these resolutions in the spirit of building a strong and vibrant movement of women workers in COSATU.

Gender and Social Policy: Issues and Challenges

By Isobel Fry

The former Apartheid government complimented their economic policies with highly effective social policies of discrimination, division and dominance. Social policy as a discipline has far more widely contributed positively to the development of deliberate policies to re-shape or strengthen countries that have been subjected to internal or external threats, and has been seen as a necessary social counterpart to economic reconstruction. These interventionalist states identified an active role for themselves in defining the type of society that was desired, and in using state resources to build that. The mainstream acceptance of the need for strong social policies in Europe and the Scandinavian countries however was dealt an ideological defeat by the rise of neo-liberalism under the tutelage of economists such as Milton Friedman and Hayek. Planned interventions by the state in addressing structural inequalities and poverty were dismissed as disrupting the ability of the private market instead to act as equal -handed arbiter and distributor amongst equals.

In South Africa, since 1994, social policy as a pool of comprehensive and dynamic thought appears to have been cast as the step-sister to economic policies. At the same time, despite sustained economic growth until about 18 months ago, levels of inequality continued to rise. The time to redress the apparent absence of social policy from the South African policy lexicon has never been more propitious, given the current wave of developing economic and industrial policies. Alongside these policy initiatives we need to adopt clear social policy designed to improve access, opportunities and egalitarian growth. In this article we explore what social policy is, why it is important for it to be mainstreamed, and how social policy is an often implicit determinant of gender identity and politics, concluding with recommendations on how, through advancing a social policy agenda, we can ensure positive gender dynamics in South Africa.

What is Social Policy?

Social policy as a general term refers to the full gamut of policies that seek to promote the well-being of people in a nation state. It is important not to conflate the notion of social policy with a narrow view of social security or social grants. The mainstream use of the term embraces the various policies that make up the so-called social wage - including housing, education, health and social security.

The dominant position held by scholars and practitioners is that social policy should not be seen as an add-on to economic and industrial policies, but that all policies should be considered as a multi-dimensional weave with dynamic linkages between them, which appears to have been largely absent from the South African policy lexicon.

The formation of Social Policy since 1945

Social policy rose to prominence in post World War Two Europe as governments began the process of social and economic reconstruction following the war. In the United Kingdom for instance, the pre-war liberalism and largely laissez-faire relationship between the state and the needs of the people was replaced by a revitalised and centralised role for the state in directing not only the economy but social policy as well. Building on the centralised command that the state had to take in both industry and provisioning (hospitals for soldiers, weapons manufacture, etc.), the new role for the state was to ensure full employment for all (men), and to nationalise key sectors and utilities to be used towards the redevelopment of the economy.

Five social policy objectives were also identified to combat "Five Great (social) Evils", - Disease, Idleness, Ignorance, Squalor and Want. Social policy responses led to the adoption of policies on the National Health Insurance, full employment, state education to age fifteen, public housing and National Insurance and Assistance (Social Policy in Britain. P Alcock, 3rd edition. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, 5).

Social Policy Choices and Priorities

Three main sectors contribute to the well-being of people - the state, the market and the individual/ family/ community. Social policy is about determining the ‘economic mix of welfare provisioning'. How this is determined is always the result of social and political contestations within a society. As a result, the model of social policy adopted by a society is said to reflect the values and principles that guide that country's dominant elite.

Historically, three broad types or models of social policy have been identified, although each country will reflect different choices within the same model. These are:

South African Social Policy

South African social policy is a hybrid mix. The Constitution of South Africa provides for social democratic universal access to various socio-economic rights, including housing, health care, food and water and social security (including social assistance). However, these rights are limited by an internal limitations clause that makes the attainment of universal access subject to ‘progressive realisation' within the resources that the state makes accessible to such realisation. It is here one can see a shift between the social democratic policy architecture and the neo-liberal, residualist approach to the implementation of policy.

This tension can also be seen in the binary constructed between notions of ‘welfare' on the one hand, and ‘developmental' on the other. In the recent Polokwane resolutions this is expressed as follows:

  1. Central to the task of social transformation is the role of the ANC in Government in confronting the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment.

  2. At this conjuncture we can and must re-affirm our commitment to redress poverty and inequality.

  3. We are building a developmental state and not a welfare state given that in welfare state, dependency is profound.

  4. Our attack on poverty must seek to empower people to take themselves out of poverty, while creating adequate social nets to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

(Polokwane Resolution on Social Transformation, paragraphs 5 to 9.)

Many will argue that this is a false binary, and that development cannot happen in the absence of a welfare base to ensure the reproduction of a fit, educated and productive people.

The question we must answer in South Africa should be: how do we determine through the mainstreaming of social policy what the appropriate vision for state intervention is in shaping patterns of distribution, including the distribution of the responsibility of providing for the poor?

Social Policy and Gender in South Africa

Feminist critique of capitalism and market dominated development in the last two centuries is that while male work - productive work - is remunerated, the work of caring and maintaining society - women's work, -is not, and that this contributed to the dominance of men and male political views over those of women, leading to the slogan that "the personal is political".

Whilst women will always play the primary role in giving birth to the next generation, the extent to which they have become cast as primary carers is closely linked to the way in which care work is rewarded. Care-giving reduces women's ability to earn income on par with men's, and so perpetuates their dependence within the household unit.

In addition, being type-casted as the primary carer places women in the role of what is called the ‘involuntary altruist'. As recent primary research by Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute in Vosloorus confirmed, women have to absorb shortfalls as best they can. Typically, scarce food will be shared first with the older people and men, then the children and finally what is left will be eaten by the main female carer in the house. The ‘triple yoke of oppression' thesis of being poor and female and black represents has been well developed elsewhere.

However poverty is pernicious and its effects are multi-dimensional. Whilst the impact of poverty does fall most heavily on women, it also affects men and families, which reinforces the struggle for many women. Status and identity are closely linked to being employed and the ability to earn income. Due to the high numbers of job losses for semi- and unskilled people, retrenchment is usually the end of any labour market participation. If the retrenched worker is a male breadwinner, this is felt in a complex manner. For men, the shame and stigma of not being able to provide for his family is often enough to drive him away from the household, which effectively increases the care share for the woman. Amongst women, there appears to be a fatalistic acceptance of this (What is Poverty? NALEDI, 2006).

So how does social policy currently shape gender and class interests in South Africa, and can a more progressive approach be crafted?

At first blush, social policy appears to range from gender neutral to discriminating in favour of women. The eligibility age for the state old age pension has been lower for women than men until a recent court case, given the evidence that women were more likely to share the purchasing power of their pensions than men. Although targeted at the primary care giver rather than the mother, the Child Support Grant is accessed overwhelmingly by women.

The real problem is that there is no provision made for working age people who are a surplus to the economy. The residualist targeting of those who are not of working age - children and older people - is more developed in South Africa than in most developing countries. If however, in reality, there is no assistance for income-insecure working age people - then the social system starts to break down. Youth cannot graduate to adulthood, parents cannot afford to look after their children and older people cannot provide for their own old age. Welfare is not achieved, and development cannot happen.

Sustainability is not just an economic issue, but also a social one. At some stage a tipping point is reached beyond which a household or community sinks into a vulnerability too great to retreat from, and the coping mechanisms employed too radically affect the unit's ability to recover. Current levels of poverty are driving many households towards that tipping point. We need to innovatively look at ways of combining social policy and development policy, such as the example of the Community Works Programme which combines one hundred days guaranteed work per person per year with community-based consensus on what these days of work should be used for to develop the community.

Patriarchy will not be defeated on the backfoot, and the triple burden on poor black women will not be eased unless we can find a way to accommodate poor women and men into a reliable income stream. Social, economic, industrial and skills development policies (not to mention labour market policies) need to dynamically link to reinforce each other. South Africa's economy is not and will not be able to provide full employment. Social policy is no longer necessary just to mop up those who fall outside of the social norm. Social policy needs to be mainstreamed in policy development to ensure maximum returns for the investment by the state and by families and individuals. There is no other option.

The Black Sash - fifty-five years on

Marcella Naidoo (Black Sash National Director)

In May of this year, the Black Sash celebrated 55 years of working to secure human rights for all who live in South Africa. 20 years ago, Nelson Mandela recognised our work at his first public appearance in Cape Town's Grand Parade, calling the organisation "the conscience of white South Africa" during the apartheid years. Sadly, amid all the commemorative anniversaries we have marked and celebrated this year, the Black Sash suffered a significant loss. Our patron and veteran human rights activist, Sheena Duncan, passed away in the same week that we had planned to commemorate our founding.

Duncan's life was marked by a dedication to the pursuit of justice. She twice served as Black Sash National President and was the founding chair of its current Board of Trustees. Her service spanned multiple arenas, as she was also a leading member of the South African Council of Churches and Chair and Patron of Gun-Free South Africa. During her time of leadership at the Black Sash, Duncan encouraged the organisation to "work hard enough, be committed enough, do enough, to choose the ways which will build a new just and peaceful society for our common future." These principles still guide our work today.

During the anti-apartheid struggle, the Black Sash was a remarkable organisation from the perspective of both its members and unaffiliated observers. Society took notice because of its unusual membership composition of mostly white, middle-class women and its non-violent activism that remained always within the law. The women of the organisation valued the Sash for many reasons- the outlet for outrage it offered, the sisterhood it fostered, the rare opportunity it provided to interact with like-minded individuals and the flexibility of involvement options it created.

With the attainment of a democratic government in 1994, one of the Black Sash's primary goals was realised. Yet, the organisation recognised that there was still a place for its work in South African society, and elected to maintain its presence as a leading champion of human rights. In 1995, the Sash shifted from a membership-based, volunteer organisation to a professional NGO. Notably, it now employs men and women from an array of different backgrounds.

Today, the Black Sash works to promote and protect our hard won constitutional freedoms particularly in the areas of social and economic rights. We focus on four key areas - namely social security; social services and subsidies; consumer protection; and decent work and livelihoods - and we employ the same four strategies established during the early days of the organisation - namely advice giving, advocacy, rights education and monitoring.

Black Sash advice offices were created during apartheid and are still a core component of the organisation's identity. Black Sash offices are located in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Knysna, Grahamstown, Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg and are staffed by trained paralegals who provide free advice and assistance to anyone who needs it. Over the last 5 years, the Black Sash has given human rights advice on over 40 000 matters; put more than R54 million back in the pockets of vulnerable individuals through its interventions with business and government institutions; and reached over 45 000 people through its rights education activities and programmes.

In terms of its advocacy work, the Black Sash works with others across civil society and in government to combat poverty and inequality. At the moment, this work focuses on social security and health reform; unemployment and consumer protection for the poor.

The Black Sash continues to strive for a comprehensive social security system that is based on principles of social solidarity and equity, and which makes provision for the country's high levels of poverty and unemployment. We acknowledge the tremendous strides the government has made to provide social assistance to more than 13 million South Africans. But at the same time, the Black Sash believes there are still some critical gaps in the social assistance system and inconsistencies within our social insurance provisions. We look forward to the long-awaited public release of the social security reform policy proposals and hope that they bring about a more comprehensive and integrated system.

One social assistance gap that we believe needs to be plugged urgently is the provision of financial support to poor people with chronic illnesses. The Sash argues for social assistance to help households that have been made vulnerable by illness (such as HIV/AIDS) as it believes that most people can manage a chronic illness (whether communicable or non-communicable) if they have access to medication and can maintain a healthy lifestyle. But if the only form of income support available to people with chronic illnesses is one associated with deteriorating health (which is the case with the Disability Grant), our society is essentially encouraging those who are ill to become disabled too.  We believe this policy trajectory will create an intolerable burden for individuals, families, communities and our public health systems. Recently, the Black Sash and other organisations persuaded Parliament not to pass the Social Amendment Act without a "chronic illness" grant provision. We hope provision for this important group will now be carefully considered.

Together with partners, the UCT Health Economics Unit and Health-E, the Black Sash is currently hosting provincial consultations, seeking public participation on the healthcare problems that plague our nation. At these events, community-based organisations are given the opportunity to voice their concerns about the healthcare system and suggest possible remedies. The participants have so far highlighted shocking tales of poor service delivery, inadequately trained staff, a lack of access to medicine as well as age-based and illness-based discrimination. Our discussions also focus on methods to improve the system, like how funding should be allocated, the importance of a health education system and the need for additional staff training. Through these consultations, the Black Sash emphasizes the necessity of civil society input into major government decisions, and highlights the value of such citizen comments in creating an effective system.

The Black Sash remains concerned that poor people's basic rights are violated when they fail to receive or are unable to pay for the basic services they need to keep healthy (housing, electricity water and sanitation) or when they do not get the attention they need in the current healthcare system. We believe strongly that social services must be delivered equally regardless of socio-economic class and continue to call for quality social and healthcare services to be universally accessible, equitably and efficiently provided, and funded according to the principles of social solidarity.

Despite the principles of Batho Pele (People First) which have officially governed the civil service for more than ten years, the Black Sash is deeply conscious that unaccountable, corrupt and inefficient service delivery ranks high amongst the many factors that prevent the full realisation of people's socio-economic rights. We worry that poor service delivery denies millions of people a dignified life, undermines the impact of government spending on other social protection programmes, as well as any advances that have been made to create employment.

Late last year, the Black Sash launched a national Community Monitoring and Advocacy Project called CMAP as part of our efforts to hold our government responsible for delivering - affordably, appropriately, effectively and with dignity. Working with other community-based groups, we are collecting, collating and analyzing information on service delivery with the help of hundreds of specially trained community monitors. The project will monitor different types of service delivery in all nine provinces over the next few years. We hope to present our monitoring reports to appropriate government officials in order to affirm good practice and work together to make improvements.

While the Black Sash remains committed to social protection, it believes this must be complemented by policies and programmes that actively tackle our income inequality and high levels of unemployment. Work programmes have so far been limited in their reach and offer only short term relief to families; unskilled and semiskilled workers are often underpaid, and face constant job insecurity; while opportunities for entrepreneurship are very limited for the poor. We believe we should all take more responsibility for addressing the social and economic injustices that persist in our country, and intervene against the unacceptable inequalities between rich and poor. We would like to see a greater commitment to enable the generation of decent livelihoods - access to land and infrastructure to credit, and to quality education and training. If these structural inequalities are not met with focused attention from policy makers and the private sector, the Black Sash believes that South Africa will continue to experience serious human insecurity and social instability - and our social protection system will be dangerously over-stretched.

Over the past five years particularly, the Black Sash has worked for a fair consumer and credit environment particularly for poor communities - with an emphasis on food security as well as essential goods and services. We have spoken out loudly against those companies producing staple foods that have been involved in cartel activities, arguing that they have worsened the financial problems of millions of South Africans already battling to survive. Price fixing, market allocation and collusive tendering by companies are eroding the gains made to rid our young democracy of the scourge of poverty, and frustrates government's ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals through the delivery of basic services.

During apartheid, the Black Sash and leaders like Sheena Duncan fought tirelessly to promote a better South Africa. And 16 years into our young democracy, life is much better but we are still some way off making human rights real for all who live in this beautiful country. The issues the Black Sash confronts may shift as our society changes but always at the forefront of our thinking, will be the pursuit of an equal and just South Africa for all.

Liberate women to make Africa's productive revolution!

By Roger Hällhag

In an article about World Cup opportunities to showcase the key role of women in Africa's progress, Graça Machel - one of those remarkable leaders - wrote that "women are truly the motors of Africa's economies. Yet at every turn, their contribution is downplayed and their ambitions are obstructed. Women receive less than 1 % of total loans to agriculture. Yet they are responsible for growing 80 % of the food on our continent. Women-run start-ups are most likely to become established enterprises. Yet they command less than 10 % of the capital available."

These injustices are a grave development obstacle and true for developing societies in general. Gross underinvestment in health, schooling, social and legal justice, and means of production for girls and women condemn many hundreds of millions of them to persist in poverty.

This outdated oppressive pattern, which not necessarily end with modernization in other fields, can however be changed to benefit of all - women, men and children alike. Postponing it to another day, to another stage of economic development is a mistake. To get ahead this motor must run at full power!

A promising new start is found in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which is roughly comparable with South Africa. The population is 62 million. The smaller economy is smaller but grows faster than South Africa's. Rural villages are stuck in traditional poverty. Mainly men migrate for a slim but better chance in urban growth centres. Some knowledge-based producers in IT, medicine, garment design and film-making are global level players, while the masses are left behind.

In the villages and some urban slums, a small charitable NGO providing schooling to labouring children has grown exponentially since 2004 and transformed into a women's self help movement. As of 30 June 2010, 570,568 women had joined Self Help Groups for mutual encouragement, learning and hands-on assistance. 476,367 of them have reached the target of generating their own income in a small family enterprise. Their production is ranging from agricultural, handicraft and shop-keeping to provision of new service, like internet access and waste recycling. 5,845 businesses have grown further.

The key to success in south India has been single-minded focus on opening income opportunities for women, who are poorer, less educated and more culturally repressed than men and at the same time more resourceful, responsible and determined. Methods are social mobilization to encourage individual as well as collective progress, business coaching and intense training in basic, social and vocational skills. Qualifying for a credit typically worth 1,000 rand is a necessary step, but by itself insufficient. Meticulous management based on measurable results and low costs (800 rand per new job) makes Hand in Hand ( stand out among development NGOs.

Millions see for the first time that a better life is possible. 610 rural panchayats (local government) with about 3 million citizens' have been declared child labour free. 2,205 villages have Citizens' Centre with legal advice, computers and internet access for 1.1 million people. 140,269 persons have got a medical check-up and basic preventive health information. Waste is collected from 150,187 households with great environmental, hygienic and economic outcomes. Initial male resistance turns into acceptance and encouragement. Men make up a big part of Hand in Hand's 2,476 employees and 38,094 volunteers.

Conditions in India are generally not more conducive than in other developing societies. Malnutrition, poor education and slave labour for children, engrained injustices directed at women and ethnic minorities, and the prison of mind that is the social caste system is putting a straight-jacket on development. Most African societies are more open to progressive change.

Empowering women works! Therefore the Hand in Hand approach is now introduced in Brazil, several African countries and to break Afghanistan's vicious circles. In South Africa Hand in Hand first entered as training consultants to the Job for Growth programme. A non-profit entity was set up in 2008. In addition to conveying methods of job creation to many community-based organisations, Hand in Hand South Africa organises self help groups in Bafokeng and is preparing expansion in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces. Similar self help programmes run in Namibia and Swaziland.

The ANC can take pride in South Africa's leading role as regards women's political representation. It joins Rwanda, Mozambique and Angola on the top list of most fair representation in democratic parliaments together with Nordic countries, Netherlands, Belgium and Costa Rica. This resulted from a unique combination of pressure from below in a society where political participation has unusually strong roots and an enlightened leadership. However, a quota for women is not the same as addressing the full complexity of questions of gender, patriarchal domination and sexual violence. In the South African case the terror of HIV/AIDS adds a particular urgency.

Women's political empowerment must deliver a better life to common women. This can only happen by ensuring simultaneous economic empowerment. So far women have been short-changed in both political and economic arenas. Improving both is mutually reinforcing. Resolute actions along the lines suggested by Ms. Machel are required. Having hosted the World Cup successfully, South Africa should stand ready to push ahead with tried and tested methods.

 Such progressive thinking is hampered by a worldwide backlash against democratic politics. Voters distrust parties for many valid reasons. Fanning unrealistic expectations makes it virtually impossible to deliver. A shift of economic power away from the public to the private arena has made politics more prone to the power of money, greed and infighting for personal gain. Decisions then tend to benefit limited constituencies or business interests. Being clean and standing up for society as a whole is even laughed at. In times of crisis, irrational populism and appealing to fears of "the others" work politically. Confrontation sells in today's world. Women in politics are early victims of such backlashes, too often for being more serious than male politicians.

Women's empowerment is to a large extent about making the informal economy (including farming and household work) seen, better organized and ready for a productive revolution. That would secure higher, more stable incomes in a way that is otherwise unattainable. The age of mass employment in huge industrial corporations is over. Neither can the public sector employ a majority of job-seekers, as it has to focus on efficiently making public investments and delivering key services.

Modern labour markets actually resemble something of traditional rural life: each person has to create her or his livelihood. All should not be business entrepreneurs, but all need to more actively search and prepare for a productive role in open economies that are increasingly competitive, service-based, knowledge-intensive and tending to change at an accelerating rate. Solutions are required that make use of existing skills and social resources, as a starting point for the professional development of each person, women and men alike.

Women are toiling at the "lower" end of the labour market. Their work is harder, more tedious and dangerous for lower, less stable pay. Everywhere women are exploited to keep wages and costs down. Even worse, women are often completely outside the formal economy with no justice and real options in life. Slavery is the proper word. Yet the vast majority of impoverished women remain patient, accepting and flexible while doing their utmost to take responsibility for their families.

In keeping women down, men fail to realize that economic empowerment of their women would help twofold: increasing incomes and burden sharing lift all the family, and bad work condition for women hurt all workers.

Trade unions commonly attempt to isolate male-dominated formal sector workplaces from female informal sector competition. This is at best a futile temporary defence. It is necessary to lift the whole economy or at least related sectors to sustain progress. It requires organizing, including and empowering women. The insights that "an injury to one is an injury to all" should be fully applied.

Paradoxically, trends in advanced economies (including some South African industries) are that women are overtaking men in level of education, labour market participation and access to certain previously ‘male' professions. A solid majority of university graduates in OECD developed economies are women. They are therefore better placed on modern knowledge- and service-based labour markets. This year in the United States women became the majority of the workforce, as they have been less hit by job losses than men. Men lose out as manufacturing is outsourced or relocated to lower wage countries. In the European Union women have taken up six of the eight million jobs created since year 2000 at both ends of the labour market.

If unions and their allies do not respond to these trends, new gender inequalities will emerge and collective action to serve equality become discredited. Women can conclude that they best find solutions at an individual level, many of them forging further ahead of men. We men should actually accept equal access to jobs, work conditions and representation while we still can strike such a favourable deal for ourselves.

Roger Hällhag is a political analyst and business consultant with a background in Swedish and international social democracy. He has followed South Africa closely all since chairing Sweden's anti-apartheid movement in the 1980'ies and is now chairing Hand in Hand Sweden. Hällhag recently studied achievements towards gender equality in worldwide trade union cooperation.


Spotlight on Provinces

KwaZulu Natal - activism and unity

For this edition of Spotlight on Provinces, Umrabulo spoke to Provincial Secretary of KZN, Sihle Zikalala.

Umrabulo: Since the relaunch of the ANC as a mass legal movement after its unbanning in 1990, what are the major characteristics of the movement in the KwaZulu Natal and how have these developed and change over the twenty year period?

Zikalala: The province has a longstanding record of resistance against the apartheid regime and the unbanning of the ANC saw the movement growing to a point where it has saturated the entire province. The key attribute to this success is activism of all cadres and members of the organization. This is always reflected by the response of the organization to the challenges in our communities.

The ANC is always with the people and responds to their needs, especially when people are engulfed by difficulties. This has made the people to appreciate that the ANC is the solution to all challenges. In this regard, the ANC has won the confidence of the majority of our people as a true representative of the people and the agent for change.

This also finds expression at the level of the Provincial Legislature wherein our government is at the centre of solutions to everything that affects the people. Activism remains pivotal to the ANC, as the Liberation Movement.

Coupled with that is unity of the organization. Unity is paramount to the success of the organization as it keeps each and every cadre focused on the strategic tasks of the organization as opposed to instigating infighting. The overwhelming victory in the 2009 general elections was a result of these two characteristics that currently define the movement - ACTIVISM AND UNITY of the movement. This affirms what former President Mandela said: "United we stand, divided we fall".

Umrabulo: How is the national question reflected in the province and how do the movement address it?

Zikalala: The province reflects all racial demographics of this country, thus the national question becomes more relevant. With all difficulties that come with this, the ANC remains home to all people. Major strides have been made to ensure that all people, irrespective of their colour, find space to participate in the ANC structures and in its political life. The creation of a non-racial society will succeed partly because the ANC be is the embodiment of non-racialism.

Because of the historic evolution of the struggle, there is a fair presence of Indian and Coloured communities in the organization. However, a lot still needs to be done, especially amongst the White community.

What is encouraging is that a common vision and a sense of togetherness are prevailing. At a societal level, there is a particular level of integration, which shows that with time we will reach a truly non-racial society. The FIFA World Cup euphoria has displayed a sense of belonging which needs to be exploited for the benefits of all South Africans.

Umrabulo: What is the current state of organization of the movement in the province, what major programmes and campaigns?

Zikalala: The ANC continues to grow from strength to strength. Out of 777 wards, the ANC has active cadres in almost all wards, although the level of activism and in-depth understanding would vary from one ward to the other. At the structural level, organizational structures are functional from the PEC to BECs, with all regions playing a greater role in assisting branches in the implementation of the programme of the organization. We can safely say we have a stable yet vigorous organization that understands its mandate.

In response to the resolution of the ANC's 52nd National Conference to attain 1 million membership by 2012 and to sustain the support the ANC gained in the last elections, we have embarked on the programme of establishing a movement of volunteers, the Volunteer Corps Movement (VCM), to run campaigns of the movement on the ground. The movement of volunteers has become a critical pillar of the Imvuselelo Campaign, which is focusing on recruitment. The ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) goes out at least one weekend a month to conduct mass work with volunteers.

We also conduct door-to-door campaigns to intervene in social challenges that are facing the people. Whenever such social challenges are brought to the attention of the ANC during the cause of the campaign, we take up such issues with relevant structures, including referring such issues to relevant government departments.

Umrabulo: Can you give us a sense of the economy of the province, what are the challenges, the major economic sectors, employment, infrastructure, etc. Do we have a provincial growth and development strategy, where does the ANC see the province over the next twenty years?

Zikalala: The KwaZulu-Natal province is one of the key pillars around which the South African economy revolves. For starters, the province of KwaZulu-Natal contributes 16,5% to the South African economy, making it the second biggest economic powerhouse after Gauteng. The key sectors in the provincial economy are manufacturing, agriculture, finance and real estate, construction, tourism, retail, telecommunication and transport.

While the province of KwaZulu-Natal has consistently been able to record an above national average growth, the reality is that there is still a lot that needs to be done for it to realize its potential. This is made even more critical by the fact that there is an inverse relationship between the population distribution in the province and its contribution to the South African economy. As a result, the province is seized with the challenge of unemployment and the dichotomy of informal and formal economies, a by-product of the legacy of separate economic development.

In order to deal with these economic challenges, the province of KwaZulu-Natal has developed a number of interventions to create linkages between the two economic divides. But more importantly, the province is strategically located and has two of the country's biggest and busiest ports which, combined, handle more than 80 percent of South Africa's imports and exports. Coupled with this, the province of KwaZulu-Natal has a multi modal transportation system which is the envy of many countries.

The construction of the new Dube Trade Port, incorporating the King Shaka International Airport, has not only opened new economic avenues for the province, but in time will put the province on the global economic map. Not only does the facility incorporate a state of the art International Airport, but it also comprised of a cargo handling facility, a trade zone and a cyber port. Combining all these features will, in time, change the economic landscape of the province of KwaZulu-Natal. In mapping out its future, the province of KwaZulu-Natal has put together a Spatial Economic Development Strategy, which serves as its compass for growth. Over and above this, the province of KwaZulu-Natal has developed a number of primary and secondary economic corridors, as part of which potential areas of growth in all districts are identified and harnessed in order to ensure that there is integration and alignment. This is in keeping with our belief that the government should be a catalyst for growth and development.

The vision of the province of KwaZulu-Natal is to be one of the biggest players in the South African economy in order to deal with the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment and to use its competitiveness and its strategic location to be the gateway to the African continent.

All these initiatives are a direct response to the ANC call to deracialize the economy and ensure that our economic playing field is leveled for the benefit of all.

Umrabulo: And the social issues - state of health and education, peace and security in the province?

Zikalala: KwaZulu-Natal has moved a long way to create a peaceful province. Not so long ago, the province was characterized by brutal violence fought along political lines, but those days are now history. Gone also are the times when KZN used to be defined by faction fights. Through a determined effort between political parties, traditional leaders, communities and the police, there is a climate of peace, security and political tolerance within the province, though at points the ugly heads of violence would still emerge, but these are becoming isolated incidents. There remain the challenges of crime against persons and property; however we have stepped up efforts to ensure that this scourge is eliminated within our society.

On the health front, we are still confronted, like the rest of the country, with the challenges of HIV/AIDS related deaths. We are, however, noticing a decline in the number of people that are getting infected, which speaks to changing attitudes and the seriousness with which people are treating the scourge of the AIDS pandemic. The government has improved efforts to provide medication including anti-retrovirals. Our academic institutions are receiving support in conducting research to find solutions to the Aids challenge. The latest findings by the University of KwaZulu-Natal on the impact of the AIDS gel in reducing chances of transmission offers us a glimmer of hope; however, we believe more resources still need to be invested on this front. The Health profile of the population is improving; but we believe more still needs to be done to fight poverty and underdevelopment which impact negatively on the health profile of our citizens.

Umrabulo: KZN and the SA2010 World Cup, how did the province experience it and what were the highlights?

Zikalala: KwaZulu-Natal, like the rest of South Africa, is basking in the glow of satisfaction for the contribution it made in bringing about the successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. There is still a massive hangover in the aftermath of the tournament; however, it has left us with an indelible legacy of a sense of pride, confidence and optimism. It has opened a new chapter for the province particularly in terms of future partnerships and economic relations between the KZN and various countries that chose our province as their base and the thousands of visitors that toured our beautiful province.

We must remember that as the country, we were perennially under scrutiny from the skeptics. The major highlight is that South Africa unapologetically silenced the pessimists. The outpouring of patriotism amongst South African will remain forever etched in the memories of many of us. We wrote a new script for our province and our country by hosting a final before the finals, which was the Spain and Germany game, as one of them was destined to emerge as champions. We proved to the world that we are not the continent of misery and suffering, but the continent of joy, light and happiness. The World Cup has put KwaZulu-Natal on the global map.

Umrabulo: How does the province ensure and build unity and cohesion, in the context of Polokwane Conference call for organizational renewal.

Zikalala: The main task is to inculcate the core values and principles of the movement with specific reference to discipline and humility. These two are interlinked as discipline guides our conduct and humility defines the manner in which we engage with each other and with the people in general. Our response to organizational renewal has therefore been to intensify political development of the cadres of the movement. There is a great sense of discipline amongst the cadreship of the movement, however, the task of instilling discipline and political consciousness is always under construction and therefore is ongoing.

A key part of the context of renewal is the principle of collective leadership, which finds expression through collective responsibility. In our case, this is evident as the leadership body of the movement in province assumes equal responsibility in the implementation of the organizational programme. Collective leadership requires maximum unity, and in this regard, it is not that we are immune to tensions but whenever we face tensions, we engage in open discussions within structures of the movement until we emerge with a common solution.

Umrabulo: The province in the 2009 elections results saw a major shift towards the ANC. What were the patterns and major issues, and what did the ANC do differently in this campaign?

Zikalala: Since 1994, the ANC in the province has been improving in all successive elections that have taken place BUT the last elections saw the ANC scoring a dramatic 19% increase. The first contributory factor to this was the work done by the ANC government since we took over the province in 2004. This helped to make people realize that it is only the ANC that can change their lives for the better.

What we did different in this campaign, is that we had strong and dedicated volunteers and cadres that took the campaign from street to street, village to village and in the process we covered the whole province. Therefore, dedication and hard work of the general members of the ANC and the Alliance contributed a lot towards that major shift.

The maximum dedication of leaders cannot be left unnoticed as most of our provincial and national leaders were always available for the campaign.

Umrabulo: What is the state of the opposition in the province?

Zikalala: The existence of the opposition parties can only be credited to the historic past. In past the IFP was dominant in some African townships and rural areas, but it has since dissipated and now exists only in some pocketed areas. This is not only because of its internal in-fightings, but the advent of democracy dictated that it dies this natural death. As long as the ANC continue to champion the cause of democracy and development, the people will embrace it and therefore any other party would become irrelevant. As such, the IFP has become irrelevant to many people. This does not mean we must be complacent, but we must act with vigilance and intensify the programme of building the organization.

The fears of black domination imbued by the apartheid colonialism continue to help the Democratic Alliance (DA) to breathe. Beyond some conservative whites and isolated pockets from within the Coulored and Indian communities, the DA enjoys no major support in the province. In this regard, we still have a task of ensuring that these communities appreciate that they have home in the ANC.

Umrabulo: The province has also very active in political education and the battle of ideas. What concrete programmes are in place?

Zikalala: Key amongst the political education programme is the Provincial Political School, which takes place on two weekends every month. This is a formal political school with registered participants who have been selected by regions. At a branch level, branches have been grouped into clusters wherein all BEC members and activists attend branch political classes that are conducted on a monthly basis.

The ANC in KZN continues to engage in the battle of ideas by engaging with professionals, academics, commentators, the middle-ground, and youth and students from various faculties. One Thursday of every month we convene an Unmediated Forum, which is an open platform for political debates. At these Thursday forums, we invite independent analysts and commentators to participate together with the ANC leadership in panel discussions. The concept of the ‘unmediated forum' has helped to harness our engagement with these sectors on a wide range of policy-related debates such as the National Health Insurance Scheme, transformation of Judiciary System and others.

Time and again, we also convene public lectures on various subjects. We are humbled that this year we have introduced the KZN Provincial Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture as part of instilling the values that the Mandela generation espoused.

We have also launched a provincial ANC newsletter to enhance the communication of PEC decisions, but also a as platform for the battle of ideas. The newsletter was launched in August 2009.

A decisive mandate - Review of the 2009 elections

The outcome of the April 2009 election was a clear and positive judgment by the electorate that national ANC government remains the most reliable path to the continuing reconstruction and development of South Africa. This needs to be said before detailed analysis of the results is done.

It is only too easy to forget, after three successive elections have returned the ANC with over 60% of the national vote, that such majorities are rare in democratic societies and constitute an unequivocal mandate to implement the electoral manifesto. In April 2009 a decisive majority of the people of South Africa, especially the poorer sectors of our society, concluded in a strongly contested election that the progress achieved under ANC government and the ANC's assessment of current challenges and of what was needed to meet them, and that an ANC government would continue to advance their interests and aspirations.

Many commentators had predicted the possibility or even likelihood of a much worse result for the ANC due to disunity in the ANC and the breakaway of COPE. Instead, the big ANC majority reflected the resonance of its election platform: affirming progress; acknowledging shortcomings and challenges; and calling on all of society to work together for more and faster change.

Having said that, the national totals were the product of more than one current, not all flowing in the same direction. To get a more detailed picture we need to dig down a bit. In doing so it should also be remembered that the changes from one election to another - say from 2004 to 2009 - are never the last word and nothing is set in stone - the advances we made need consolidating; the setbacks can be contained and reversed. For the same reason, the changes from one election to another are just that - making sense of what happened in 2009 needs comparison not only with 2004 but also 1999.

Underlying much of happened was the interaction of two major factors, the first of which explains a better result than many commentators expected, and the second a worse result than could have been achieved.

The focus of this article is on the effects of such factors, rather than those factors themselves or the content of the campaign. It is based on analysis of electoral statistics - registration, turnout and votes - rather than on research which would give insight into the reasons things happened the way they did.

The vote -national and provincial trends

Since no one election can be an absolute benchmark, April 20009 needs to be compared not only with April 2004, but also April 1999 (April 1994 was a different kind of election).

Table 1- Participation and votes in national elections 1999-2009

  1999 2004 2009
Voting Age Population (VAP) 25,4m 28,0m 30,7m
Registered 18,2m 20,7m 23,1m
Registered as % of VAP 72% 74% 75%
Valid votes cast 16,0m 15,6m 17,7m
Turnout of registered voters 89% 77% 78%
ANC share of vote 66% 70% 66%
ANC votes 10,6m 10,9m 11,7m
Opposition votes 5,4m 4,7m 6,0m

Sources: Registration figures (IEC); Voting Age Population (StatsSA, 1999-2009) . VAP figures for 2004 and 2009 use StatsSA Medium Mid-Year Population Estimates for those years. VAP for 1999 takes into account population estimates for 1999-2004 and Census figures.

The ANC's share of votes went from 66% in 1999 to 70% in 2004 and back to 66% in 2009. But the increase in the actual number of votes was less than that.

Although there were more registered voters in 2004 than 1999 - about 14% more - less people voted. But the ANC got more votes, and though it was only about 2.6% more votes, ANC share advanced four points to 70%. This was because the opposition mobilised three-quarter of a million less votes than it had in 1999. Analyses of the 2004 election done at the time pointed to weak participation of opposition supporters. Turnout in ANC areas was higher than opposition areas in every province except North West and KwaZulu-Natal (ANC, 2004).

Although the DA picked up additional votes in 2004 and increased its percentage share a bit, overall the opposition vote declined. The main trends in 2004 - indicated in the Table below - were:

Table 2 - Party votes in national election 1999 to 2004





ANC 10,60m 66% 10,88m 70% 11,65m 66%
DA 1,53m 10% 1,93m 12% 2,95m 17%

1,31m 7%
IFP 1,37m 9% 1,09m 7% 0.80m 5%
UDM 0,55m 3% 0,36m 2% 0,15m 1%

0,27m 2% 0,16m 1%
NNP 1,10m 7% 0,26m 2%

ACDP 0,23m 1% 0,25m 2% 0,14m 1%
VF + 0,13m 1% 0,14m 1% 0,15m 1%
UCDP 0,13m 1% 0,12m 1% 0,07m -
Other 0,35m 2% 0,32m 2% 0,30m 2%
Total 15,98m 100% 15,61m 100% 17,68m 100%

Source: IEC

In 2009 the opposition-galvanised by what it saw as opportunity arising from turbulence in the ANC and boosted by the breakaway of COPE-got an additional 2,3 million votes. The ANC got an additional 0,8 million votes.

Since the ANC's extra votes were not enough to keep up with the growth in the voters and the opposition's additional votes were in advance of the growth in the electorate, the ANC's share fell back to 66%, where it was in 1999.

Compared with 2004, the ANC suffered a setback and the opposition advanced. Compared with 1999 things look static, with the opposition recovering from a setback in 2004 when it was in a state of some disarray - the NNP was unravelling and much of its support had yet to decide where to go, confused amongst other things by the floor crossing which had initially been introduced to facilitate the merger of NNP and DP. At the same time a unified ANC was making progress in implementing programmes which after ten years were making impact on the lives of millions of poor people.

Looking at the provinces, and comparing with the 2004 election, the number of votes cast for the ANC in the national ballot in 2009 fell in every province except Kwazulu-Natal, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

The first column in the table below shows the number of additional votes the ANC would have needed in 2009 to keep the same percentage share of the votes as it had in 2004, assuming that turnout remained at the same level. Since turnout was a bit up on 2004 - from 75,5% of registered voters to 76,2% -- the number of new votes each party needed to keep pace with where it was in 2004 was a bit higher. Only in KwaZulu-Natal did the ANC get more votes than it needed to keep pace with 2004, and to such an extent that the ANC's share of vote in the province increased by 16 percentage points. Everywhere else the ANC share fell, just marginally in Mpumalanga.

The DA needed under 400 000 new votes to match 2004, but more than doubled that number.

Table 3 - Provincial change in party votes in 2004 and 2009 national elections

  Required new ANC votes Change in ANC Vote ANC % points change Change in DA Vote COPE 2009 Votes
EC 170 700 -153 950 -9% 64 285 307 449
LI 121 220 -94 673 -4% -6 064 111 707
WC 158 218 -87 948 -13% 537 567 180 419
NC 24 663 -19 393 -10% 16 578 66 285
FS 31 817 -82 326 -10% 36 442 116 825
NW 36 037 -47 416 -6% 30 910 97 440
MP 119 230 117 434 -1% 21 406 38 990
GA 399 888 225 712 -5% 202 167 333 984
KZ 264 833 901 725 16% 87 566 54 571
 SA 1 326 606 760 000 -4% 1,020,000 1,310,000

Source: IEC

A combination of political organisational and demographic factors - shifts in support, mobilisation capacity and migration - have changed the distribution of the ANC vote across the country. The table below gives an idea of the extent to which population growth has contributed to the change. It ranks provinces according to the extent to which their contribution to the ANC's national vote has grown or decreased. In three provinces major changes in ANC support within the province played a big part in changing the province's contribution to the national vote - KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape in 2008 and Northern Cape in 1999-2004. In general, population change has had a big impact. Whereas in 1994, 55% of ANC's vote came from the four most rural provinces - Limpopo, Eastern Cape, North West and Free State - those provinces now jointly have just 40% of the ANC's 2009 vote. Three provinces that contribute 39% in 1996, contribute 53% in 2009.

Table 4 - Shift in geographical distribution of ANC support

  Share of ANC national vote Share of population Change in share of vote Population growth
  1994 1999 2004 2009 2009 1994-2009 2001-2009
KZ 10% 11% 12% 19% 21% 100% 7%
NC 2% 2% 3% 2% 2% 38% 7%
GT 20% 24% 23% 24% 21% 17% 14%
MP 9% 9% 10% 10% 7% 14% 8%
WC 6% 6% 7% 6% 11% -3% 17%
LI 15% 14% 13% 11% 11% -22% 5%
FS 9% 8% 8% 7% 6% -25% 2%
EC 20% 15% 16% 14% 14% -30% 4%
NW 11% 10% 9% 8% 7% -31% 3%

Sources: IEC (undated), Presidency (2008) and Statistics South Africa (1999-2009)

The numbers also show how the ANC's support is truly national, spread across the country more or less in line with provincial share of the population. Following the ANC's 2009 advance in KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape is the only province where this is not yet so.

The DA's support by contrast is dominated by Gauteng and Western Cape which have a third of the country's population and two-thirds of DA supporters. Half of COPE's support is in Gauteng and Eastern Cape (also with a third of the population).

Participation- registration and turnout

The overall level of registration has slowly but steadily improved, as indicate in Table 1, from an estimated 72% of the population in 1999 to 75% in 2009 keeping slightly ahead of the growth in population. In three provinces, however - Eastern Cape; Free State and Mpumalanga - the increase in registration fell behind the population growth; and in KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape registration for outstripped population growth.

In two important ways, registration is out of line with the population and the April 2009 elections brought little or no change - gender and generation,

More women register than men, compared with population, and more women vote. In every province significantly more women than men were registered for the April 2009 elections, as the Table below shows. Of those who voted in April 2009 national election, 57% were women and 43% men (IEC, 2010), which means that even amongst registered voters, men turned out to a lesser degree than women.

Table 5 : Proportion of men and women registered - April 2009 Election

Female 79% 84% 78% 77% 76% 84% 82% 78% 81% 75%
Male 72% 71% 74% 74% 68% 67% 77% 75% 76% 73%
Total 76% 78% 76% 75% 72% 76% 80% 77% 79% 74%

Sources: IEC (undated) and Statistics South Africa (1999-2009)

The proportion of young people registered remained constant from 2004 to 2009. Inevitably new registrations consist mainly of young people, but at the close of registration in February 2009 the proportion of young people registered had not significantly changed from five years before. And amongst people under 30 the gap between men and women widened in 2009. For people in their thirties the level of registration was about 80% in 2004 and 2009.

Table 6 : Registration of young people, 2004 and 2009



Female Male Total Female Male Total
18-19 32% 29% 30% 35% 29% 32%
20-29 61% 60% 61% 63% 57% 60%
18-29 56% 54% 55% 58% 52% 55%

Sources: IEC and Statistics South Africa (1999-2009)

As far as turnout was concerned, the percentage of registered voters casting their votes was much the same across age-groups, around 75% (although higher amongst women than men as already noted). Amongst other things this means that less than 45% of people under 30 took part in the election.

In three provinces, the increase in registration fell short of population growth (Eastern Cape; Free State and Limpopo) - in the case of the last two it was the registration of men in particular that fell short of the estimated growth in the male population.

Analysing statistics of registration and turnout at the level of voting districts opens up further insights. In every province, registration increased faster in urban areas than rural areas, and actually decreased in some. Although this may in part reflect rural-urban migration, the differences are bigger than that. Overall the pace of urban area registration increase (15%) was double that in rural districts. Registration increased 18% to 20% in the urban areas of KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Limpopo, and the number of registered voters fell in the rural areas of Western Cape, Free State and Northern Cape.

Table 7 - Registration changes per province, 2004-2009: urban and rural VDs

SA: change 12% 19% 15% 13% 12% 10% 9% 9% 8% 5%

VDs 12383 286 3067 208 935 3611 1128 342 2273 533
Votes ‘09 5,957 116 1,703 209 730 1,185 624 95 1,132 163
Reg change 611328 -2468 228146 28352 86213 132854 57216 -3466 114680 -30199
Change% 7.9% -1.4% 11.6% 13.5% 10.1% 8.8% 6.8% -2.6% 6.3% -11.8%

VDs 7341 1254 1119 2087 441 871 374 283 182 730
Votes '09 11,533 1,908 1,823 4,132 613 1,124 489 320 236 888
Reg Change 1895537 416656 369355 619870 90654 132831 72017 47852 48808 97494
Change% 14.7% 20.4% 19.2% 13.2% 13.6% 10.3% 12.1% 12.8% 18.1% 9.1%

Sources : IEC and CSIR (2009).

We get further insight into the trends by comparing registration and turnout according to which was the leading party in an area. Overall registration increased by 18% in the voting districts in which the DA was the leading party in 2004 - and by 11% in the ANC-led areas, though there were provincial variations on this contrast as the Table below shows - there were big increases in registration in ANC areas in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape went with much smaller increases elsewhere.

Looking at changes in registration from the perspective which was the leading party in the 2004 election, then registration increased by a greater proportion in DA areas compared with ANC areas in most provinces. In Western Cape the difference was negligible and Northern Cape ANC areas showed faster increase I registration. In KwaZulu-Natal registration grew faster in ANC areas than IFP areas. In most provinces registration increased faster in urban ANC areas than rural ANC areas, and

Table 8 - Increase in registration by 2004 leading party


VDs 904 1917 1755 1323 4208 1452 530 2431 1166
Reg change 234689 391192 405692 155141 216793 111188 40907 156895 40214
Change% 19.0% 18.7% 11.2% 10.8% 8.7% 8.3% 8.8% 7.6% 3.4%
DA /IFP_kzn

VDs 535 1999 519 53 147 48 84 23 97
Change 157887 144416 229177 21727 43801 18096 2680 6488 27081
Change% 19.8% 11.2% 18.5% 24.8% 11.2% 20.0% 6.8% 20.1% 21.6%

Sources: IEC and CSIR (2009).

Combining the analysis by leading party and urban/rural character, the numbers make clear that both factors were at work. The higher increase in urban registration was not just the result of increase DA registration - in most provinces ANC districts in urban areas generally showed faster registration increases than ANC rural districts.

The turnout of registered voters gives a further indication of how successful parties were in mobilising their support. Migration plays some part in shaping the rate at which registration grows different areas, though not as the only factor since, as noted, registration growth didn't keep up with population growth in three provinces. Turnout of registered voters however is even more clearly related to the effectiveness of mobilisation or the enthusiasm of supporters.

But the two are clearly interrelated. Provinces where registration increased most also had the strongest increase in turnout. On the other hand where registration showed less increase, turnout was static or actually fell in 2009 compared with 2004.

Table 9 - Provincial turnout 1999-2009


2004 76% 72% 72% 75% 79% 75% 77% 80% 76% 76%
2009 77% 79% 77% 78% 79% 75% 76% 76% 71% 69%

Province +1% +7% +5% +3% - - -1% -4% -5% -7%
Rural -3.3 3.8 -1.2 8.0 -1.6 -2.2 -5.0 -7.5 -6.9 -8.5
Urban 3.0 8.8 4.9 2.4 3.3 -0.1 -1.0 -0.8 -0.2 2.7

Sources: IEC and CSIR (2009).

Turnout also followed a pattern similar rural vs. urban pattern as registration, as the above Table shows.

Turnout in urban VDs increased from 74.9% in 2004 to 77.9% while in rural areas it decreased from 76.6% in 2004 to 73.3% - so there was a reversal in the participation rates of urban and rural areas from 2004 - when rural areas participated more - to 2009 - when urban areas did so. Provincial turnout figures also reflect the reversal in urban vs. rural turnout between 2004 and 2009. KwaZulu-Natal; Western Cape and Gauteng, the most urban provinces - were amongst the lowest in turnout in 2004, but amongst the highest in 2004. Free State, Eastern Cape, North West and Limpopo, the more rural provinces, had the highest turnout in 2004 but amongst the lowest in 2009.

The combined changes in registration and turnout mean that nationally 18% more people participated in the 2009 election in urban areas compared with 4% more in rural areas, a difference well beyond the direct effects of urbanisation.

Further consolidating the picture, are the patterns of turnout of registered voters, in terms of which party got the most votes in 2009. Except for a slight increase in Gauteng ANC areas and a big increase in KwaZulu-Natal ANC areas, everywhere else the voting districts which the ANC won had a lower turnout than in the previous election. On the other hand areas won by DA - except for the Eastern Cape - significantly increased their turnout.

Table 10 - Provincial turnout according to the leading party in 2009

2009 VD leader: EC FS GP KZ LI MP NC NW WC
ANC -5.7 -2.7 1.5 7.2 -7.3 -0.1 -2 -4.6 -0.5
DA 6.5 4.9 5.4 8.3 6.4 8.7 9.3 1.4 7.2
IFP - - - 0.4 - - - - -
COPE -2.8 - - - -
6.5 - -
UDM -9.9 - - - - - - - -
ID - - - - - - - - 1.7

Sources: IEC and CSIR (2009).

Key drivers of the overall result

The overall result of the 2009 elections reflected various trends, felt differently in different province and different sectors of the electorate. They included both mobilisation factors, analysed above, and swings in support:

Table 11 : National votes for parties, 1994-2009

SA 1994 1999 2004 2009
ANC 12,23m 63% 10,60m 66% 10,88m 70% 11,65m 66%
DA 0,34m 2% 1,53m 10% 1,93m 12% 2,95m 17%

1,31m 7%
IFP 2,06m 11% 1,37m 9% 1,09m 7% 0.80m 5%

0,55m 3% 0,36m 2% 0,15m 1%

0,27m 2% 0,16m 1%
NNP 3,98m 20% 1,10m 7% 0,26m 2%

ACDP 0,09m - 0,23m 1% 0,25m 2% 0,14m 1%
VF + 0,42m 2% 0,13m 1% 0,14m 1% 0,15m 1%

0,13m 1% 0,12m 1% 0,07m -
Other 0,40m 2% 0,35m 2% 0,32m 2% 0,30m 2%
Total 19,53m 100% 15,98m 100% 15,61m 100% 17,68m 100%

Source: IEC


Successive elections after 1994 saw have brought a steady shift in the balance of support from IFP to ANC in KwaZulu-Natal. By 2004 the ANC had become the biggest part in the province and then made a big leap in 2009 from 47% to 64%. Increased registration and higher turnout added nearly three-quarters of a million votes to the provincial total compared with 2004.

The increased participation was mainly the result of ANC efforts. In ANC areas registration was up 19% compared with 11% in IFP areas. Turnout was up from 73% to 80% in ANC areas but almost unchanged in IFP areas. The ANC efforts impacted especially in urban areas where turnout in 2004 had been the lowest of urban areas in all the provinces.

The IFP got three-quarters of the votes it got in the province in 2004. District by district, IFP lost around half its 2004 support in districts where ANC had the most support in 2004 (Ethekwini, Sisonke, Mgungundlovu, Ugu, iLembe and Amajuba) - and 20 to 40 per cent in districts where IFP had been the biggest party in 2004 (Zululand; Umkhanyakude; Umzinyathi; Uthungulu; Uthukela).

As was the case in 2004, a concerted effort in monitoring and security helped open areas to the ANC which had been virtual no-go areas and fostered an environment in which voters could exercise greater freedom of choice

Western Cape

In 2004 the collapse of the NNP and the DP/NNP alliance did much to shape the election outcome in the Western Cape. Its former supporters voted mainly DA but also ANC and ID. But a significant number didn't vote at all, contributing to a wider national trend of muted opposition turnout. The effective end of the NNP helped consolidate the ANC dominance in the province.

The reversal of 2004's weak opposition mobilisation was one of the main factors taking the Western Cape from the ANC, seen in a big increase in turnout of predominantly white and coloured areas (Kimmie, Greben & Booysen, 2010:116).

There were also swings in support, namely a big swing of Coloured support- massive in Cape Town and substantial elsewhere; and a swing of some African and some Coloured support to COPE.

A critical straw in the form of a tactical vote saw some 150 000 people who voted for other parties in the national ballot switch to DA in the provincial ballot. They came from most of the other parties as well as some who didn't use their national vote. This turned DA's 49% in the national ballot to an absolute majority of 51% in the provincial ballot.

There were variations across the province. ANC Coloured support almost halved, the result of losing two-thirds in Cape Town mainly to the DA and a third elsewhere in the province. ANC votes increased slightly in number in African townships (but not enough to maintain its share of the African vote, losing share to COPE both in Cape Town and beyond. The ID vote halved in Cape Town but grew a bit elsewhere in the province. Other small parties - ACDP, UDM and PAC all saw their votes and share of votes halved as opposition consolidated behind DA and COPE.

Consistent with these trends, registration increased by 20% in the urban areas, declining by over 1% in the rural areas. It increased 20% in DA areas and 19% in ANC areas. Turnout increased 5% in urban areas and fell 1% in rural areas - in Cape Town's African townships turnout was slightly down compared with 2004 - in the rest of the city it was up by 10% in many parts and as much as 20% in some. The DA made virtually no headway in African townships in the Western Cape.

Other provinces

Outisde KwaZuluNatal and Western Cape, where there were big shifts in party support, two factors played a particular part in ANC support, to varying degrees in different provinces.

Some of the ways these issues impact on voting in the provinces are noted below.

Eastern Cape

ANC got 150 000 less votes than 2004 and its share fell from 79% to 70%. UDM, PAC and ID saw their votes cut by around half, while the DA increased its votes from 7% to 10% and COPE got 13%.

COPE drew from both UDM and ANC, and got about 17% for COPE in the cities where former ANC supporters were the main source of COPE support; and 12% in the rest of the province, mainly in the west.

ANC loss of support was biggest in the cities. In Nelson Mandela turnout in ANC areas was 5% down compared with an increase of 7% in DA areas. ANC went from 69% to 50%; DA from 21% to 28% and COPE took 17%. Outside the metro turnout was down in all districts. ANC support fell in the west of the province and remained more or less constant in the east.

Free State

Provincial turnout as a whole was only slightly down on 2004, but was 6% lower in ANC areas. This was combined with less new registration in ANC areas than in DA areas.

ANC support in the province fell from 82% to 72% (837 000 votes to 756 000 votes). UDM, UCDP, PAC and ID votes were down from 40 000 to 13 000, contributing along with some ANC votes to COPE's 117,000 votes (11%). VF plus and ACDP votes fell from 34,000 to 24,000 probably contributing to the DA's increase from 90 000 votes (9%) to 127 000 (12%).


Gauteng was the only province apart from KZN and Mpumalanga to have more ANC votes than in 2004, though not enough to keep up with the increase in voters and to stop the share falling from 70% to 65%. Registration and turnout in DA areas increased more strongly than in ANC areas, increasing its share of votes by 1% from 20% to 21%. COPE got 8% and the other small parties all saw their votes fall by between a third and two thirds compared with 2004.

Apart from loss of some support to COPE, ANC support in those areas that are predominantly Coloured and Indian saw a similar but smaller shift of some ANC support to the DA as happened in the Western Cape.


Turnout was down as a whole and in ANC areas by 7%. In urban areas it was up a bit to 74% but fell in rural area where most people live to 68%. There were 110 000 less people voting than in 2004, and ANC got 170 000 less votes so its share dropped from 89% to 85%. COPE got 7% drawing partly from the ANC and other parties, all of which had fewer votes than 2004.


Turnout in the province was the same as in 2004 - but it was bit down in rural areas and somewhat up in urban areas. ANC won more votes than in 2004 though not quite enough to prevent a fall in its share of the vote, because DA slightly increased its share (to 8%) and COPE got 3%.

North West

Turnout overall was down from 76% to 71%. Turnout was down in ANC areas by nearly 5% and in rural areas in particular by 7%. The total vote was less than 2004. With ANC lower turnout than stronger opposition turnout; a consolidation of opposition votes from the smaller parties to DA (increasing from 6% to 9%) and emergence of COPE (8%) ANC votes and share of votes fell.

Northern Cape

Turnout was constant at 75% from 2004 to 2009, though rural registration and turnout were both less than 2004. Turnout in ANC areas was 74% compared with 83% and 80% in the areas won by DA and COPE. A fall in support from 71% to 61% was driven mainly by swings in both African and Coloured areas where there was a similar but smaller swing as happened in the Western Cape.

Opposition parties

The principal factors in the increase and distribution of the opposition share of votes were:

Looking at particular parties :

DA's small support in African townships declined to around 1%, most of that going to COPE. The shift in Coloured areas in the Eastern Cape was not much different from the Western Cape, but it was smaller in Northern Cape and Gauteng. Support in some Indian areas increased. Overall some of the smaller parties with a similar support base lost support to the DA.


This review indicates that the fall in the ANC's share of national vote was resulted from various factors, reflected in mobilisation trends and shifts in support that played themselves out in different ways in different provinces and amongst different sectors.

None of these facts are fixed in stone as the history of our elections show. The mobilisation of ANC and opposition forces and shifts in support vary from election to election. Without entering into the causes of what happened, the analysis identifies issues which provide opportunity to create conditions to build and strengthen capacity to mobilise support.


ANC. (2004). "Elections 2004." Umrabulo, no. 21, October 2004.

CSIR. (2009). "The 2009 South African Election: an analysis of the performance

of the ANC." An unpublished report commissioned by the ANC.

IEC. (2010). 2009 elections report. Pretoria/Tshwane: Independent Electoral Commission.

IEC. (undated) Electons results. Pretoria/Tswhane: Independent Electoral Commission.

IEC. (undated) Elections results and registraiton figures. Pretoria/Tswhane: Independent Electoral Commission.

Kimmie, Z., Greben, J. and Booysen, S. (2010). "The effect of changes in registraiton and turnout." Politika, 29, no. 1.

Presidency (2008). Towards a fifteen year review. Pretoria/Tswhane: South African Government.

Southall, R. (ed.) (2009). Zunami! The 2009 South African elections. Johannesburg: Jacana.

Statistics South Africa (2001). Census 2001. Pretoria/Tswhane: South African Government.

Statistics South Africa (2007). Community Survey 2007. Pretoria/Tswhane: South African Government.

Statistics South Africa (1999-2009). Mid-Year population estimates. Pretoria/Tswhane: South African Government.

Free to imagine - a low carbon economy and a new economic order

By Gino Govendor

Imagining - a vision?

I am not an economist nor am an environmentalist. I drive a big car as I have a big family. I planted many trees and have drastically reduced my air travel. At best I could humbly describe myself as a fellow human being concerned about the current state of and the future of our common humanity. I think all of us are citizens concerned about our common humanity and searching for answers about its future.

In my previous role as Mines and Energy Officer of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) we constantly spoke all over the world of an energy industry that "provided safe affordable accessible energy for all" and in mining we spoke about "a safe humane industry that respects people and the environment". We spent a considerable amount of time with workers in many countries thinking about these visions for our industries.

It was this vision that we carried as labour into the World Bank sponsored Extractive Industries Review that was conducted between 2001 and 2004. In that process we managed to find many important areas of consensus with representatives of communities including indigenous communities and of course the environmental movement represented by amongst others Friends of the Earth. We spent our energies on what united us rather than those few issues that divided us in the face of a huge and powerful lobby by global capital. On most issues the green and red movements spoke as one. This of course surprised the captains of extractive industry.

When asked whether I could speak on the theme "Imagine the Future in a low carbon economy in a new economic order" and having accepted the challenge, I've ploughed through a wonderful set of publications and ideas. In reading them I found myself inspired by work of leading academics, organisations and activists that reinforces our common humanity - an anti- capitalist platform rooted in Marxian analysis. These ideas form the basis of a genuine counter to the "there is no alternative" (TINA) hegemonic thinking. These views pose concrete alternatives to the dominant ideas of capitalism that pervades the globe and indeed our own developing democratic society. So it has been a real pleasure imagining a vision of a more egalitarian society of the future. Implicit in this vision is respect for the earth and its precious finite resources.

Globalisation and its logic

We all are aware of the recent economic recession caused by the collapse of the financial sector in the north.

The central banks of USA, Japan, Canada, UK and Switzerland poured $180 billion into the financial markets in order to save the private banks. The US Senate approved $1.5 trillion to save their banks. The total global rescue package amounted to just over 8 trillion.

According to economist Jeffrey Sacks "more than half the world is experiencing economic progress. Not only do they have a foothold on the development ladder, but they are actually climbing it. The climb is evident in rising personal incomes and the acquisition of goods such as cell phones, television sets and scooters".

On the other hand, Sacks also notes that the greatest tragedy of our time is that one sixth of humanity is not even on the development ladder, let alone advancing up the ladder. If we look at globalisation over the past 30 years or so as driven by the financial and information technology industries, what has been the impact?

Hunger is affecting 1 billion people across the globe. According to Prof Manfred Max-Neef - a Chilean economist - the money spent on bailing out the banks could generate 270 years of a world without hunger. He asks "would not a world without misery be a better world for everyone including the banks?"

But mass hunger is not the only crisis facing our humanity. Two billion people (1 in 3) do not have access to any form of basic services such as safe modern energy, clean running water and water-borne sanitation. 72 million children are denied a right to basic education. Nearly 3 billion people live on less that $2 per day.

The 400 richest Americans have accumulated a fortune of $1.75 trillion. The wealth of these people is more than twice the GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to 800 million people. Such fortunes continue to expand despite the crises the affects the majority of the world's population. It's worth stating that of the 400 multi-billionaires:

According to Max-Neef "this alone demonstrates the dominant paradigm - that it generates capitalists that are social parasites".

So in the post-industrial revolution and two world wars, this unfortunately is the state of humanity. Despite the advances of modern civilisation, we live in a hopelessly inequitable world. Without equity justice is not possible. Without justice peace is not possible.

To digress, I am currently reading a book "Does Peace Lead to War?" by Matthew Hughes and Matthew Seligmann. It looks at how several famous peace treaties including Versailles after the World War One gave rise to conflict and war. In the foreword to this book I came across the most important statistic that told me something fundamental about human beings. Quoting from two studies, the Invention of Peace and the Origins of War it says that in 3421 years of recorded history only 268 have been free of war. What does this tell us of ourselves? That war is the norm? What kind of species are we that inhabit this planet?

In his famous book "War and Peace" for Tolstoy war was an act of God over which man had little or no control. It is only in the modern era that peace and peace treaties became highly valued. Peace was invented they say. There are several famous treaties and conventions that have tried to promote peace such as the League of Nations (now the United Nations) and the Geneva Convention.

And yet, in the last century there have been monumental failures - two world wars, the Cold War and numerous post-1945 conflicts that seriously retarded the development of the so-called third world. What is the purpose of war other than control of resources and profit?

If we continue along this path then the future of humanity is indeed a terrible one. After the Second World War Einstein said that "I don't know how World War 3 will be fought, but WW 4 will be fought with sticks and stones".

So is this the state of our humanity and what the future holds.

What then about the state of the planet we live on?

Current changes to the climate and potentially irreversible climate change imply the loss of productive land, extreme weather conditions, rising sea waters, massive dislocation of people, desertification and serious economic and social upheaval. Other resource shortages like fresh water, forests, agricultural land as well as biodiversity will be and are severely affected.

It is said that we have passed the era of the peak in oil and we're in the plateau for the coming decade or two (ITPOES, 2008 and 2010). Depletion of oil and gas reserves has a direct impact on our daily lives. It will make long distance transportation, factory production systems as well as many other systems and commodities that rely on abundant oil reserves will become increasingly difficult.

The planet is a finite system in itself. Our minerals have been developed over billions of years. Yet extraction of these minerals is easy and rapid. The planet living stocks are being depleted faster than nature can replenish them.

We have seen the decimation of traditional cultures in order to impose conventional economic industrial models that exploit natural resources for export. We disregard the planetary limits in relation to resource availability, consumption, waste generation and absorption.

The current discourse links economic growth to development. We are told that an index like GDP is important. We are told that SA will benefit from the doubling of the current economic growth rates to about 4 percent. Then only will employment creation be possible. I think we must ask the question what will drive this growth. In simple terms the experts believe the boosting what we call the formal economy will result in the trickle to rest of society. So we are then led to believe that the solution to our problems in society is more capitalism? Can the trickledown theory lead to a flood of abundant basic goods and services and thus promote a vision in which there is a "better life for all".

The answer dear friends and comrades is clear to us all - it's a definite no no.

How Workers' Education imagines the world and a just transition

Last year Ditsela convened a National Summit on Workers Education. This summit had amongst other important objectives a focus on the challenges for workers education in our society. It was attended by 120 reps from the trade union federations, labour institutes and the progressive academia. I would like to quote an extract from the declaration adopted by the delegates in the final session.

"We underscore the importance of this summit in the context of the global crisis confronting humanity and to analyse this crisis from a working class perspective. We wish to record that we see a planet and its people in a serious crisis.

This is a crisis caused primarily by the system of capitalism and the effect is:

There is common cause across the globe, including in developed nations that the system of capitalism has failed humanity as a whole. We are mindful that over the past centuries capital has and will continuously seek to rescue itself despite repeated failures.

In this context, we reaffirm the view that the working class can alter the course of history in the 21st century. They have the capacity for self-activity to self organise in the workplace, the community, in society and across borders.

We are inspired by the determination of our fellow workers and the poor to struggle against the system and to create a society based on alternatives to the illogic of capitalism.

The building blocks for such a transition could include amongst others:

It becomes vital in the current context for workers education to critically engage and popularize an alternative discourse (i.e. transitional building blocks), and to engage it strategically, in the short to medium term to alter the course of history in the long term". So from a workers perspective we can create an egalitarian society on a foundation in which basic needs are met and build it upwards from there.

Imagining a happy society

The are other indices' by which we could build a different society such as the Happy Planet Index that has been popularised by many organisations including the UN. The HPI measures the ecological efficiency with which nations deliver long and happy lives for their citizens by drawing on just three indicators: ecological footprint, life expectancy and life satisfaction. According to the orthodox (capitalist) model of development higher levels of consumption are the route to a better quality of life for all. But by measuring progress differently it is possible to create societies in which people live long happier lives with a much smaller environmental impact.

Thinking differently again, the most important contribution to a human based economy is that we must make a transition from a paradigm based on greed, competition, and accumulation to one based on solidarity, cooperation and compassion. Such a transition would not only allow for a greater happiness amongst those who have been marginalised but it can build a values-driven a new economy based on a set of propositions that could form the foundation of our society in which no selfish or sectoral economic interest can be above the reverence and respect for a quality life for all its people. In this context:

According to Max-Neef, a more localised economy could be achieved by:

So with all these wonderful ideas that imagine life beyond capitalism what is the future of work and employment? Is it possible that we can create a "post-globalisation era". The answer is yes. There are several wonderful reports on how we could create decent work and quality of community life in a green economy. These reports have been discussed in working groups, committees and conferences. The critical challenge I think is how these ideas resonate with the people themselves. Studies show that in many societies people themselves have developed traditional local economies that are enriched through traditional indigenous knowledge.

It requires a paradigm shift in the way we engage society. We have to undo the wage slave system. Can we build localised economies based on co-operation and solidarity. A top down approach will not work. We have to make people the central drivers of change. Such a transformational approach has to put our population in rural areas at the forefront of driving change. We have to change the power of the urban middle class and the elite as drivers of policy that marginalises the poor and rural populations. This is not impossible. The labour movement acting in concert with other organisations of civil society can work together to build an alternative, sustainable, happy society in a post globalisation era.

To conclude, in my office I have a poster that is based on an old Cree Philosophy. The Cree are a tribe of the first Americans. Their holy spirit was mother earth and they treated the environment and all that lived off it with respect. The saying goes like this:

When the last tree has been cut down;

Only when the last fish has been caught;

Only after the last river has been poisoned;

Only then you will find that money cannot be eaten".

Gino Govender is Executive Director, Ditsela Workers Education Institute. This article is based on remarks to the WWF Living Planet Unit Roundtable 18 May 2010. Reproduced with permission from author.

Managing immigration in support of social justice, prosperity and security

John Carneson

On 27 April 1994, South Africa and all of its citizens committed to a profoundly different set of values as enshrined in a Constitution that is firmly based on respect for human rights, freedom, social justice and democracy. The Constitution also makes it clear that we are a sovereign state and nation and a responsible member of the community of nations. From that day South Africa has had a fundamentally different relationship with its neighbors and the world at large. Thus we honour our international commitments and we regard it in our national interest to strive for global peace and prosperity.

From a criminal state that had been isolated as a threat to the region and to world peace, South Africa was suddenly integrated into a global community, which was itself being transformed by globalization. This means that foreign policy and immigration policy and legislation has to be developed in a context in which there is rapid and changing flows of people, knowledge, goods, money and capital. The world economy and societies are being restructured with knowledge increasingly playing a critical role in production and development.

The stakes are very high. Those states that can effectively manage these forces benefit hugely and maintain a developmental trajectory. Those states that fail to do so will remain underdeveloped, with all the consequences that follow. Globalization does not only impact on economies, but also on national security, on society and on nation building and national identity.

It has become increasingly recognized internationally that immigration is an essential element in successful national development and in national security. This explains why, over the past few years, many advanced and developmental states have changed their immigration policies and enhanced their immigration systems and institutions. Examples range from Malaysia and Brazil to Canada and the United Kingdom. In South Africa, the Department of Home Affairs is the custodian of citizenship and identity and plays a key role in regulating and facilitating immigration. However, the strong trend internationally is to regard immigration as needing to be managed and not only regulated. This requires the active and effective involvement and support of all tiers and sectors of government and key civil society formations.

It is 15 years into our new democratic era and it has been 10 years since there has been a national discussion on immigration. In October 2009, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Home Affairs, began a process of engagement with key stakeholders on the key challenges confronting the Department. Immigration policy was a major focus at these meetings. Initial meetings were held with Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and with COSATU and in March 2010 the Department of Home Affairs held a joint workshop on immigration policy with COSATU. In the coming months the Department will continue to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and the public at large.

This article is intended to draw stakeholders, including readers of Umrabulo, into the broader national discussion. We will first look at three specific reasons why, as a nation, we need to take immigration seriously. Secondly, we will briefly assess how far we have progressed with regard to immigration policy and the management of immigration over the last 15 years. We go on to present an argument for adopting a new perspective and a more coherent and coordinated approach to immigration. The article concludes by raising questions regarding concrete challenges confronting us with regard to key aspects of immigration policy.

The scope of immigration policy and its implementation

Since 1994 the number of foreigners entering South Africa has increased rapidly, bringing large benefits as well as significant risks. Another result has been strong inflows of economic migrants, mainly but not only from SADC countries, as well as a smaller number of genuine refugees fleeing from persecution and war. In this context immigration policy, and legislation, must cover all categories of foreign nationals who want to visit or stay in South Africa; and who we want to encourage to visit or to stay in South Africa. It must also cover all foreign nationals who reside in South Africa, whether documented or undocumented, on a permanent or temporary basis.

Immigration has always been a feature of human society and has shaped history in many ways, including the history of colonial and post-colonial Southern Africa. It is frequently the subject of extreme emotions, prejudices and misconceptions, as evidenced by the xenophobia that can be exploited by criminals and other opportunists. We must remember that almost half the population of Johannesburg has family ties to other countries and that immigrants, including migrant labourers, have contributed enormously to the development of South Africa: economic, social, cultural and political.

Three reasons why immigration is of critical importance to South Africa

The significance of immigration currently is greater than ever before in our history. One critically item on the national agenda is to grow the economy and create decent jobs in order to address a legacy of extreme poverty, inequality and distorted development. The government is committed to building an effective education and training system; but for many years to come the biggest obstacle to growth in many sectors will be a lack of skills. Also, we need a strong research and knowledge base to develop our economy and enable us to retain our economic sovereignty. That is why many states, including developmental states, are proactively competing for relevant specialists who can train others and generate productive knowledge.

Immigrants from developing countries are making a major contribution in our universities and health services, to name just two sectors. However, it is a common mistake to only think of immigrants who are scientists or engineers adding value to an economy or a society. Studies have shown that immigrants with lower level qualifications and who have management or business skills often create employment for South Africans. Others might bring in revenue by developing new areas in the arts, for example, or by opening up trade links. Nor must we think of foreign nationals who bring value as coming mainly from developed countries. More than 60 percent of tourists in South Africa come from Africa and African visitors to Gauteng spend more than half the total spent by all visitors.

It must also be recognized that the future of South Africa - economic and otherwise - is strongly linked to the development of the region. Thus progress towards a free movement of people, trade and investment within SADC is part of existing government policy and SADC protocols. Immigration is an important element in regional development and security and to manage that element requires the achievement of common standards and a high degree of cooperation. This can only come about through states having the will and the capacity to drive and manage systematic and coordinated development in that and in other areas.

A second reason for immigration being important relates to another critical national project. That is, to build a non-racist, non-sexist and democratic nation, whose citizens respect human rights and appreciate the value of cultural diversity. Immigration policy in several countries is explicitly linked to the development of national identity and citizenship and they have programmes to ensure there is unity in diversity. Our identity as South Africans must necessarily include the way in which we relate to the rest of the world and to the communities of immigrants who live among us. Our children should learn to be proudly South African; proud citizens of SADC and Africa; and proud citizens of the world. A narrowly chauvinist view of the world will limit their possibilities and our growth as a nation - economically, socially and culturally. A nation that is secure and is confident of its identity and values will be able to engage with other nations productively and in a progressive spirit. This includes being patriotic and individually and collectively guard our sovereignty, our citizenship and our national identity. We must also recognize that identity is always complex and we must be able to understand and manage this complexity.

Globalization also brings very serious risks and threats, which is a third reason why managing immigration is important. South Africa has a relatively well-developed infrastructure and is a communications hub. It also has a progressive constitution and is politically stable. Such countries are targeted by international syndicates whose traffic in people, drugs, money and other commodities can undermine economies and destabilize societies. There are also serious risks related directly to national security.

In the case of South Africa and many other countries, the great majority of migrants - regular or irregular - are simply looking for better opportunities. Others are seeking refuge from a well-founded fear of persecution or war, and must be given refugee status and protected as defined by international agreements we have signed. However, if the flow of any of these categories of migrants is poorly managed then this puts the security of migrants and the host country at risk. A threat to social stability can easily develop, especially in a country that has high rates of poverty, inequality and service delivery challenges. Those desperate to obtain documents often resort to corruption and undermine the security of identity or travel documents. They also fall victim to violent crime and extortion, making it difficult to fight crime in general. Undocumented workers and other categories of migrants tend to be highly exploited and this undermines human rights and labour regulations and standards. Provision of services and our ability to budget and plan are compromised if there are large numbers of undocumented persons.

Many of the risks to society outlined above are associated with extremely negative perceptions of immigration, and related emotions, which are common in all sectors of civil society and in government. Managing immigration effectively to maximize benefits and minimize risks requires good policies, legislation and systems. It also requires that issue of perceptions and emotions are addressed, especially by leaders in all spheres. The two aspects are related. Weak strategies and systems multiply the risk of xenophobia as well as corruption and other kinds of crime.

It must be recognized that whilst on a national level evidence may show the positive impact of inward migration. However, this is not always evident to people living in informal settlements or in poorer townships. Immigrants with lower-level skills tend to gravitate to poorer settlements located within traveling distance of economic hubs or in run-down parts of cities. These immigrants are objectively in competition with local people for scarce resources and work and this is often exaggerated by perceptions and fears. On a subjective level, it is easy for people who are extremely poor to seek and find the causes of their plight amongst others who enter their communities and who stand out because of language or culture. This does not only involve immigrants. A third of those killed in the xenophobic attacks of 2008 were citizens and the treatment of immigrants is clearly linked to intolerance of diversity among South Africans. It is important when crafting immigration policy that we address both objective and subjective concerns and do so at local, provincial and national levels.

Current management of immigration: the need for enhanced approaches

Current immigration policy and subsequent legislation were based on an extensive process of consultation with key stakeholders that began in 1997. This found expression in a Green paper (1997), a White paper (1999) and then the Refugee Act (1998), the Immigration Act (2003) and subsequent amendments. The policy discussions were informed by the Constitution and by all the considerations outlined above, as well as by international experience and best practice. One instance was the decision to integrate refugees into communities rather than contain them in camps. South Africa has also played an important role in international bodies concerned with immigration and has signed a number of bilateral and multilateral protocols aimed at promoting human rights and finding solutions. One recent instance is South Africa signing a protocol that includes steps to combat human trafficking and human smuggling.

Over the past ten years it has become evident that South Africa is not managing immigration at the level that is required to meet developmental and security challenges. The reasons are complex and interrelated, and need to be taken into account when developing policy. There are three major and closely related concerns:

Of the concerns outlined above, the most fundamental has to do with the need for South Africa to adopt and implement a new approach to immigration. There are no shortcuts to achieving a national consensus, which is why the Minister and the Department is in the process of engaging all sectors of the state and civil society in a discussion about immigration. The broad approach that is being proposed for discussion can be summed up in the form of seven propositions, with suggested guide questions posed in brackets:

  1. All citizens should recognize migration within and between countries is an inevitable and normal human activity. (Do we?)
  2. Managed immigration is essential to the success of our developmental agenda, which is aimed at achieving social justice, prosperity, peace and security. (Who is responsible for managing immigration?)
  3. The state must acquire the capacity for the effective management of immigration for development and for security through the coordinated efforts of government in partnership with civil society. (How ready is our state and society?)
  4. It is of prime importance that immigration must be proactively managed by the state, with the support of civil society, so as to mitigate risks to the security of the state and of civil society. (What are the key goals and challenges with regard to security?)
  5. Immigration must be proactively managed by the state, with the support of civil society, to ensure that immigration is harnessed effectively to national and to regional development. (What are the key goals and challenges with regard to national and regional development?)
  6. The management of immigration must include the integration into our society of individual immigrants and communities of immigrants; and this should be an explicit part of our nation building agenda. (What do we mean by integration?)
  7. Foreign nationals resident in South Africa must be aware of and respect our constitution, values and diverse cultures; while South Africans should respect and value the cultural diversity, skills and knowledge that foreign nationals bring. (How far do South Africans accept this? What strategies will be effective at national, provincial and local levels?)

Concrete policy challenges that require urgent resolution

The above propositions, if broadly supported, can constitute a broad framework that can guide policy development. As with any policy propositions, they need to be refined through testing them against the realities of our context - social, economic, cultural and political. They must also be tested against concrete challenges that require solutions. The policy framework can be further developed in the process of arriving at proposed solutions to these challenges. In the course of the ongoing engagements with stakeholders, a number of challenges are highlighted with the aim of arriving at proposals that are principled, strategic and practical. Two of the more urgent challenges are outlined below by way of example and to stimulate discussion.

It is evident that immigration is not being used proactively and flexibly enough to respond to the serious shortage of skills that is holding back development in many areas. South Africa is taking steps to empower the state to lead development. The question is: what policies and measures will enable South Africa to use immigration effectively? The main instrument is the permitting system, which the Department of Home Affairs is in the process of streamlining and improving, within the limitations of the current Act. A policy and legislative change would be required, for example, to move beyond quotas to a more flexible and responsive points-based system. Such systems, however, requires effective needs determination combined with sound longer term planning and robust recruitment strategies. It also implies management of the induction and placement of immigrants once they arrive.

How can South Africa effectively manage immigration to ensure that we receive the immigrants who we need; while keeping out those who pose a risk or a threat?

Many economic migrants claim asylum as a way to obtain temporary permission to work while waiting for their case to be determined, which with appeals and backlogs can be a lengthy process. Most, but not all, of these migrants are semi-skilled and come from relatively stable SADC countries. Less than 10% of those queuing at the seven Refugee Reception Centres meet the criteria required to be declared a refugee and are then supposed to leave the country or be deported. The policy context is that the current Immigration Policy and Act in general only allows work permits to be given to those whose skills can be proven to be scarce.

What policy and strategies can be put in place that will enable the flow of economic migrants to be managed separately from the flow of genuine refugees?

The two challenges posed above are actually related. Part of the solution to separating the management of economic migrants from that of refugees will involve the permitting system, especially in the context of managing labour flows within SADC.

Immigration is a complex process, which carries heavy historical and emotional baggage, in part because it links strongly to our own identities. It requires cool heads who can come up with solutions to problems that are both progressive and practical. The questions raised above, and the seven propositions put forward, could inform such a discussion within the ANC and beyond.

John Carneson is a Chief Director at the Department of Home Affairs. He has written this article in his personal capacity.


1910 - 2010: An extraordinary journey of a nation towards a real Union!

By Malusis Gigaba

In his, The Wealth of Nations, published 1776, Adam Smith wrote:

"The discovery of America, and that of the passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope, are the two greatest and most important events recorded in the history of mankind. Their consequences have already been very great; but, in the short period of between two and three centuries which has elapsed since these discoveries were made, it is impossible that the whole extent of their consequences can gave been seen. What benefits or misfortunes to mankind may hereafter result from those great events, no human wisdom can foresee. By uniting, in some measure, the most distant parts of the world, by enabling them to relieve one another's wants, to increase one another's enjoyment, and to encourage one another's industry, their general tendency would seem to be beneficial. To the natives, however, both of the East and the West Indies, all the commercial benefits which can have resulted from those events have been sunk and lost in the dreadful misfortunes which they have occasioned".

Almost a Century later, Marx echoed Smith's words when he said:

"The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in the mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black skins, signaled the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation.

"The transformation of individualised and scattered means of production into socially concentrated ones, of the pigmy property of the many into the huge property of the few, the expropriation of the great mass of the people from the soil, from the means of subsistence and from the means of labour, this fearful and painful expropriation of the mass of the people forms the prelude to the history of capital. It comprises a series of forcible methods … The expropriation of the immediate producers was accomplished with merciless vandalism, and under the stimulus of passions the most infamous, the most sordid, the pettiest, the most meanly odious".

Both these excerpts help to locate South Africa's history and modern state in their proper objective context "of the emergence of capitalism as a world system" (1). These historical events not only shaped the modern South African State, but also laid the basis for the enforcement of segregation measures that culminated in the apartheid system. Furthermore, Magubane (2) says:

"From the discovery of diamonds in Kimberley in 1868 to the creation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 is a period of some forty years. This phase of imperial advance in South Africa is without parallel anywhere in the world. A full comprehension of the methods used to subjugate and incorporate the sub-region within the sphere of British imperialism, the personalities, and their arguments to explain and justify their actions will require many more studies. Yet there is no doubt in my mind that developments in Southern Africa that culminated in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902 marked not only the climax of imperialism but also the major crisis of British imperialism. The war provided the great catalyst which separated imperialists out according to their real beliefs".

However, the story of South Africa must be understood not just from the point of view of the two white political forces that united to establish the Union of South Africa in 1910 after the bloody South African War, inaptly called the Anglo-Boer War, but also from that of the various African groups living in different parts of South Africa at the time of the colonial invasion and the subjugation of the South African territory.

Rudyard Kipling (3) was a bit more honest when he said: "We had got our empire by luck and cunning…". Indeed, to gain a foothold into the South African land mass, and thus establish the four colonies (Cape, Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal), the settlers did rely on "luck and cunning", and on more; that is, the divisions between the disparate African ethnic groups, the superior weapons of the colonisers, and the superior mode of production in the motherland that magnanimously supported the colonisation effort.

However, it was the discovery of gold and diamond that was to play a decisive role in the course of political and economic development in South Africa. As well as being, as Marx had said it, the chief momenta for primitive accumulation, it created new social conditions which were, in many ways, different from the general situation of the classical colonial system pertaining throughout the African continent. This propelled the conditions for an advanced capitalist economy in South Africa, but within the broader system of colonial domination in the imperialist epoch. Thus the colonising group decided to make this their permanent country, and thus there developed a peculiar situation in which both the colonial ruling class with its white support base and the oppressed majority shared a single country. In this arrangement, all white classes benefited, albeit unequally and in different ways, from the internal colonial structure and, conversely, all black classes suffered national oppression, albeit in varying degrees and in different ways. This is what came to be known as "colonialism of a special type".

All these events are linked with the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910, whose centenary this year on May 31st, we are duty-bound to commemorate for the impact it had on South Africa. The establishment of the Union left an indelible mark on our character as a nation today, as well as our fortunes and our woes.

Discovery of Diamond and Gold

Magubane (4) says:

"In the British conquest of South Africa from 1870 to 1900, diamonds and gold were the strongest lure … South Africa's mineral wealth was a dream-come-true to the British imperialist. This was no better demonstrated than on the London Stock Exchange. The speculative rise in South African mining stocks assumed a great deal of importance especially after the discovery of gold. Discussions in the press and elsewhere placed investments there among the foremost economic features."

Woe! For the political crimes that were to accompany this; for the awful misfortunes that were to result from this for the majority of humankind.

The discovery of diamond in 1868 in Kimberley precipitated a scramble for the control of the Cape Colony and set the stage for the most extensive plunder of our country's natural resources and black people's labour power. Diggers and explorers descended from everywhere, and included among them black diggers and labour who had been forced off their land and those who wanted to earn some money to buy weapons.

However, it was the discovery of major gold deposits in the Witwatersrand in 1884 which was to have the greatest impact on subsequent political events and developments in South Africa, and shaped the future of the whole country. Gold discovery was first made in 1872 in the Lydenburg district of the Transvaal. The Witwatersrand deposits were shown to be among the richest that had ever been struck and this very soon changed the Transvaal's fortunes and global weight, and made it "the most prized possession of the South African colonies" (5). Responding to this gold discovery, Kruger said that "… every ounce of gold taken from the bowels of our soil will yet have to be weighed up with rivers of tears". As we now know, it was to be the African workers who had to shed rivers of tears as a result of these gold discoveries.

It led to streams of immigrants from the Cape Colony, as well as Britain and elsewhere in Europe as prospectors rushed in to try their luck. The discovery of gold enhanced the allure of the Transvaal and whetted the greedy appetites of the imperialists both in the colonies and abroad, and laid the basis both for the South African War (1899 - 1902) as well as the pursuit of total power by the British Empire over the rest of the South African territory. According to Magubane (6), "it is perfectly clear in the last half of nineteenth century the main object of British imperialism in South Africa was neither to advance nor protect human freedoms but to capture the Transvaal and its newly found riches, regardless of the consequences".

It raised the Transvaal's revenue to rival that of the Cape, and hence tremendously enhanced its political power and weight as against the Cape, thus shifting the centre of gravity away from the Cape towards the ‘republican capital', Pretoria. There was the change in the balance of geo-political power from the Cape Colony to the Transvaal Republic. It [the Transvaal] could thus pursue ambitious expansion programmes that threatened the very notion of British colonial expansion, especially towards the north. It was viewed as a threat not only to Britain's hold on southern Africa but to its standing as a global power.

Furthermore, British leaders, both in Britain and South Africa, feared that because of its economic strength, the Transvaal would absorb the other colonies and lead them into an independent union, a ‘United States of SA', outside the realms of the British Empire. This intensified the rivalry between the two British colonies on the one hand, as well as the Boer colonies on the other, and precipitated the war.

It also raised other questions about what political agenda was to be pursued in South Africa, and set the stage for the unity and contradiction within the white political establishment, represented on one side by the Brits and, on the other, by the Boers. Gold gave the Transvaal what Milner … called the ‘overwhelming preponderance in wealth and opportunity,' with the result that an independent Transvaal became unacceptable. That is, the Transvaal and its richest gold fields could not be left in the hands of Kruger, a religious fanatic and patriarch. This sounded the alarm bells for the war.

Annexation of the Transvaal - a prelude to the South African War

In 1873, Lord Carnarvon, the former British Colonial Secretary, proposed the annexation of the Transvaal, soon to be followed by the Orange Free State, which would subsequently be followed by the development of the South African policy. Sir Theophilus Shepstone, a keen imperialist and former Administrator of Natal, was then appointed to act as special commissioner to the Transvaal.

In 1876, Shepstone and his entourage arrived in Pretoria to commence with his mission. The Volksraad angrily rejected the annexation, but Shepstone brushed their resolution aside, compelling President Burgers to accept it. However, led by Paul Kruger, a legendary commando leader, much revered in Boer circles, the Transvaal Boers never accepted British annexation and rule without resistance.

However, the British administration in the Transvaal did not last long as its soon collapsed because of Shepstone,s weaknesses and incompetence. When the British mission collapsed, Kruger took over as Transvaal President. However, the British were not swayed in their opinion that the Transvaal belonged in the empire. They itched for the toppling of Kruger.

The Anglo-Boer War had been a long time coming. It was to settle major political and economic questions in southern Africa which talking could not resolve. The British were stubborn in their determination to wage war against the Boers and threw everything into it, employing even duplicity to bolster their case both in England and South Africa.

At age 73, Kruger won his fourth consecutive term as President of the Transvaal; an election result that entrenched him even more and greatly weakened the mining interests, supported by the British government. Accordingly, for Milner, this election was a turning point and he now considered that the chances of reform in the Transvaal had become more remote and consequently war had become inevitable. He regarded the Boer government to be "too great a curse to all South Africa to be allowed to exist".

There was however no homogeneity among the English in both in South Africa and Britain on the necessity for war. Henry Campbell-Bannerman (7), for example, the war was "designed in order that: a) Kruger, seeing the real drift of it, might refuse it, and supply a direct ground of quarrel; b) If he accepted it, it would that not being able to get in by the front door they would get the area gate opened and get possession in this way of the country; c) The innocent Briton would be gulled by the flavour of legality and of civilised progress in the word ‘franchise' … the Outlander does not care about it and would not use it if he might".

British belligerence towards the Transvaal drew the two independent Boer Republics closer and closer together.

The drive for the war was disguised as demand for industry and political reforms such as the franchise reforms demanded by the Britain on behalf of British nationals (uitlanders) involved in the mining industry. Kruger was viewed as an obstacle that had to be eliminated by any means necessary.

There were several negotiations between these uitlanders and the Transvaal government both in South Africa and in London. However, Kruger was pessimistic about the outcome of these engagements believing that the British required no cause for the war and neither were they prepared to wait for one - their minds were made. Milner rejected all concessions made by the Transvaal leadership and kept shifting the goal posts.

Kruger made it clear to Milner on June 5th, during their last encounter, that: "It is our country you want". Soon after the collapse of these talks, Milner began extensive plans to prepare for war both in London and South Africa.

The British government thought the threat of war would be sufficient to cajole Kruger into final submission. From this moment onward, they were not to be swayed on their determination to bring matters to a head and wage war against the Boers. They thought that the war would be "small" and would end quickly, probably before Christmas in 1899. They went out of their way to stir up public opinion in support of the war.

The Boers knew that there was no more turning back from the course of war and that a long and bloody war awaited South Africa. In Johannesburg, especially within the mining industry, the prospect of war aroused great anxiety and increasing alarm. The gold industry was booming and output in 1899 was double that of 1895, making the Transvaal the world's leading producer. The Chamber of Mines thought the war would have disastrous consequences, as mining companies risked long-term disruptions.

The Orange Free State resolved to stand together with the Transvaal. On October 9th, 1899, Kruger issued the British with an ultimatum. The British were jubilant at this and regarded the Boers as having relieved them of the responsibility of having to explain to the British people why they were at war. Consequently, in October 1899, the Boer commandos gathered along the borders of Natal and the war broke out.

Ultimately, the so-called Anglo-Boer War was an imperial war fought to decide the ownership of the richest gold mines in the world.

Despite Milner and Chamberlain regarding the war as "family quarrel" to forge "white unity", unfortunately, many Africans participated in the war and suffered in one way or the other, and yet the records of their suffering and deaths were not kept. This was deliberate because neither the Brits nor the Boers wanted to be seen to owe the Africans anything out of the war. No rewards would be had by Africans owing to their participation in the war.

Early in 1902, the war ended and the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed on May 31, 1902. What had been predicted to be a short war had turned out to be a long and disastrous war; won through the deployment of 450 000 imperial troops and other repugnant tactics, at a cost of 22, 000 dead British troops and £217 million. According to Meredith (8): "When it was finally over - after two and a half years - it was not so much a sense of victory that the British felt as a sense of relief".

The defeat of the Boers and end of the "Anglo-Boer" War resulted in the consolidation of the British Empire over all of South Africa. In this post-war arrangement, the Afrikaners emerged as junior partners. The war decided the fate of southern Africa, and sealed that of Africans in South Africa.

The British compromised on the issue of black political rights in order to achieve white unity and to establish South Africa firmly as a white man's country. The priority now was the unity of the two white groups. For the Brits, they had nothing to lose as they had already won the war to set the agenda both for the unification of the South African territory and for the ownership of the mineral wealth of this whole territory.

The war had ended; but the war had not ended, it was still to continue for years and decades to come. Boer resentment towards British dominance ran deep and was unrelenting. Many Afrikaners never accepted the idea of being part of the British Empire.

The Union

The Union of South Africa was launched as a British dominion on 31 May 1910 with Louis Botha as the Prime Minister, under the pretext that it finally brought the two white races into a united front and in the hope that they would settle their differences and forge a single nation. In this arrangement, the two white groups that formed the white political establishment would have no concern over what Africans thought or wanted.

According to Butler (9) "the 1910 Act of Union formalised the new state's existence and cemented its political structures. It served, moreover, to entrench the privileged interests of Whites by means of a racialised political machinery. Whites secured a virtual monopoly of electoral power, with a property franchise retained in the Cape colony alone. This period of South African history laid the economic, political and institutional foundations of segregation and apartheid". But, whites secured more than the monopoly of electoral power; they also secured for themselves the monopoly of political power and property ownership, included in which was the right to make black labour cheap and to exploit it without prohibitions.

Before this, South Africa did not exist as a united country, but as just four colonies involved in bitter and incessant wrangles over land and control over the natives.

At the time of the formation of the Union, the unity of the white settlers was paramount on the agenda and perforce, the interests and rights of black people took back stage. Indeed, this unity was sought on three conditions that first, it affirmed the undisputed dominance of the white settlers who had defeated all the African tribes; secondly, it also affirmed the undisputed primacy of the British in the political, economic and social sphere where the Afrikaners became junior partners; and, thirdly, it condemned black people to super-exploitation as cheap labour. The unity of the white races was conceived as pivotal to the solution of the native problem.

Of course, this unity (of the white races) was to prove elusive, as the fractious ethnic divisions between the Brits and the Boers remained persistent right throughout the Union period and the subsequent South African Republic established in 1961. The Brits had emerged as economic hegemons, but in the hands of the Afrikaners lay political power which they were to use shrewdly to capture the piece of the pie and eventually to re-capture South Africa on 31 May 1961.

The Afrikaners had established the Afrikanerbond, later to become the Broederbond, and began systematically to capture the levers of the state and the economy in order better to position themselves in the new settlement. They forged specific economic interests and, establishing Afrikaner banks, insurance policies and others, they began to address the economic interests of the volk. Critical among the things they did, of course, was the use of korrektiewe aksie, corrective action, in order to enhance their political and economic aspirations as a group.

The Union partially settled the native problem by uniting the two central political blocs of the white establishment and excluding the black majority in the settlement. This was of course unsurprising. Magubane (10) says that "the political history of Anglo-Boer relations since the Treaty of Vereeniging is one of African exclusion, land dispossession, and social destruction of African means of subsistence, followed by thematic transformation of African subsistence producers into helots and servants of the white farmers, most of whom were capitalist farmers and capitalist mine owners".

This Union was, according to Magubane (11), "a sub-imperial state"; an outpost of imperialism in Africa with political and economic links with the imperialist centre in Europe.. Actually, Verwoerd used to refer to it as a ‘piece of Europe on the tip of the African continent'. ANC President, Oliver Tambo, described this as a strategy to create client States in Africa among the independent African countries, "aimed at cutting short Africa's strivings to establish for herself an independent and equal position in the world's economy and the international political system …", with South Africa as the main centre of imperialism in Africa.

In the Union, race was to play a decisive and primary role. This was then transmitted to apartheid South Africa of later years. In 1964, OR Tambo said that Hertzog and the National Party were not the originators of the concept of racial segregation, which they called apartheid; they "brought it down from an earlier page of their history" (12). The only difference was that they implemented it with unnerving totality and startling fanaticism and brutality.

Long before the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910, the country was already "organised on the broad assumption that Africans were not there" (13). OR Tambo was to say of this that: "Paramount in the strategy of the South African rulers, therefore, is the use they make of colour or race differences. In the workings of apartheid, colour comes first in importance, race next, and human beings last. In the terminology of apartheid, it may be correct to say ‘the population of South Africa is 16 million', but it would be incorrect to say ‘there are 16 million people in South Africa'. There are only 3 million people. In their public speeches, the political leaders of the Nationalist Party are always meticulously careful not to exaggerate the number of people in South Africa. Seldom if ever does the Government in its publications and official documents refer to the ‘people of South Africa' in a meaning that extends beyond the 3 million whites … The ‘people' referred to are therefore the whites." (14)

The entire edifice of the Union and apartheid thereafter was predicated on this notion that the Africans were cheap and expendable labour. In the Union, the relationship between race and class reached new levels, forming the foundation for what was to happen in latter years after the Nationalist Party's victory in 1948.

In the final analysis, according to Thabo Mbeki (15), the 1910 settlement constituted an historic compromise between the British bourgeoisie and the Boer peasantry, and "represented not an historical aberration but the continued pursuit of maximum profit in conditions of absolute freedom for capital to pursue its inherent purposes". He further says that unlike the British bourgeoisie, which had to concede to their working class political democracy, owing to the support it had received from it in its struggle and subsequent victory against feudalism, within South Africa capital never had to contend with such a situation, because historically it owed the working class nothing and had therefore nothing to concede to it, except of course the white workers. This was because of the fact that "during the war with the so-called Boer republics, the British ruling class consciously avoided putting itself in a state of indebtedness to the black people". (16)

Accordingly, the "historic compromise of 1910 has therefore this significance: that in granting the vanquished Boer equal political and social status with the English victor, it imposed on both the duty to defend the status quo against especially those whom the status quo defined as dominated" (17). Indeed, in excluding black people from this arrangement, the white establishment ensured that they had no such obligation to defend the status quo and instead had an objective and collective stake in its defeat.

This denial of political democracy to the black working class was inherently in the interests of capitalism because from the time the Union of South Africa was established, profit maximisation became the "overt, unhidden and principal objective of state policy" (18). He says that the "denial of the humanity of the slave which occurred during the period of primitive accumulation of capital is therefore repeated here, but at a more higher and more rational level".

Unification allowed "considerable economies of scale to be effected. An internal common market was created, which facilitated the growth of the economy… [and] promoted a more rapid modernisation of the country than otherwise might have been the case" (19). Together with this, the Union created the conditions for the unification of the Afrikaners of the Cape and Orange Free State, which were already predominantly Afrikaner, along with those of the Cape and Natal where the Afrikaners had been a minority. In this way, they subsequently became a majority across South Africa. Accordingly, there emerged the Afrikaner nationalist ideology nationally which was to play a pivotal role both in the incessant struggles against British dominance as well as in the subsequent emergence of apartheid from 1948.

The position and role of Africans and blacks in general

Actually, the 1910 Union of South Africa was, throughout its existence as well as that of its successor racial states, an anti-African Union, a pact, between the Boer and the Brit. In this anti-African Union, the black majority had a neither political role nor a socio-economic stake.

In his paper, Mbeki (20) described the position that black people occupied throughout the colonial period as that of the producers of wealth, which they produced not for their own benefit but for its appropriation by the white population; and they were permitted to consume part of this wealth, but only that proportion which will give the maximum amount of work on a continuing basis.

Indeed, whatever petty feud may have existed between them, the native question remained to both the Brits and the Boers a common challenge; that is, a white man's burden which was to dog the white political establishment right until 1994.

In this way, it can be said without any fear of contradiction that discrimination did not start with apartheid in 1948. All that the National Party did in 1948 was to implement a policy that had long preoccupied successive colonial regimes first in the four colonies and later in the Union of South Africa. According to Freund (21), the establishment of the Union enabled for a "union-wide ‘native policy', operating above the petty interest of particular party factions" to be forged.

Once the settlers had established the importance of the Cape and the other three colonies, the indigenous populations immediately became their natural foes the extermination of which became necessary to establish colonial authority. The invading-colonising forces established their authority and right by war and conquest. The ferocity and the means by which the invading-colonising forces pursued their goal of conquest have been fully recorded by historians.

Having defeated the indigenous populations and the different ethnic groups, the invading-colonising forces immediately pursued a policy of expropriating them of their land and livestock in order to deprive them of the means of subsistence, and thus forcing them to seek work in urban areas in the mines, white farms and urban areas.

In the beginning of diamond explorations, some Africans did participate; however, after extensive and heated debates on the matter among the colonialists, it was resolved that they should be excluded.

Black migrant workers from across southern Africa were drawn towards the Cape by the diamond boom. However, white diggers often complained about black labour in the mines, claiming that they were the most expensive in the world, and that they were still able to sell their labour power freely to the highest bidder. They further claimed that they usually deserted and engaged in theft, thus requiring greater methods of control.

Accordingly, British officials adopted Proclamation 14 of August 1872 which laid down a new regime for labour contracts, linking it to a system of pass laws that became the main device for controlling black labour throughout southern Africa. Theoretically, this proclamation applied to all labour, whilst in practice it applied only to blacks.

The legal colour bar legislation between black and white workers was introduced in 1883. As from 1885, mining compounds emerged as black workers' accommodation, fenced and guarded. According to Meredith (22), by "1889, all 10, 000 black mineworkers in Kimberley were accommodated in compounds", and soon spread nation-wide , subsequently becoming a characteristic feature in the control of African labour.

When the Union was established, there were several black politicians such as Dr. Abdburaman (a Coloured leader) and John Tengo Jabavu, together with a handful of white politicians such as WP Schreiner, a former Cape Prime Minister, who tried to lobby for the privileges that black people had enjoyed in the Cape to be extended to the rest of the Union as the only guarantee for peace and harmony. They wanted equal political rights for all qualified men, irrespective of race, colour or creed. Of course, by the time the Union was established, there already existed Natives Congress in all the four colonies and preparations were underway to establish a national native congress along Union lines. By the time the Union was created, various Africans leaders had already been advocating for the creation of a "real union" of all South Africans, regardless of race, colour, or creed. It would be left only to our creative imaginations to fathom a Union of South Africa wherein such aspirations would have found expression in 1910.

The Union created the possibility, not only of unifying the colonies into one country; it also made it possible for a national consciousness of the natives to be forged across disparate ethnic groups, leading perforce to the formation of the South African Natives National Congress, later the African National Congress. When it was formed, the ANC was conceived as a Parliament of the South African Natives, a congress of the African Nation that had been excluded from the formation of the Union.

However, civilised blacks had initially been excluded from the pass system. This group was to enjoy some privileges, including the right to vote in the Cape Colony for some time even after the War until when the Union of South Africa was established in 1910, when this privilege was removed from all black people. However, disenfranchising Africans was a ploy both to condemn them to virtual slavery as cheap, unprotected labour as well as to ensure they do not become a political threat to the white establishment. The white establishment in South Africa had feared that by offering blacks universal franchise they would use their numbers to unseat them and take over the state.

Further to exploit black workers, white capital offered white workers well-paid labour and management, and confined black workers to unskilled labour. Of this phenomenon, Mbeki (23) said that: "The capitalist class, to whom everything has a cash value, has never considered moral incentives as very dependable. As part of the arrangement it therefore decided that material incentives must play a prominent part. It consequently bought out the whole white population. It offered a price to the white workers and the Afrikaner farmers in exchange for an undertaking that they would shed their blood in defence of capital ... The workers took the offering in monthly cash grants and reserved jobs".

The white worker believed in his superiority over the black worker, merely because of his race. Ideas of racial superiority were ingrained deep in his mind. The white worker lacked the class consciousness that transcended race consciousness. At the same time, as Mbeki (ibid.) stated it, capital itself had become so impregnated with racial prejudice that it could "not seek to extricate maximum profit from the white worker". According to Magubane (24): "Racially based class exploitation had the dual effect of setting in motion among white workers primordial fears of being reduced to a sub-human status", to which black workers, in general, were subjected by centuries of apartheid-colonial rule.

Unity between white and black workers was thus precluded in terms of both legislation as well as social consciousness engendered by the ideology of racism. Because of this, they could not find common cause with their black class compatriots and over the course of events, they became racial enemies.

The pretence therefore among the English liberals that racial chauvinism was an invention of the Afrikaners is both disingenuous and nonsensical. The fact remains that racial chauvinism and tyranny in South Africa had its precedents in the British colonies long before the founding of the Union of South Africa.

The natives were an ever-present menace in South Africa. Unlike elsewhere on the colonial frontier where the indigenous populations were exterminated, such as in Australia, Canada, or New Zealand, the colonial narrative in South Africa would differ. In South Africa, the labour of Africans was too valuable to be exterminated and the exploitation of the country's resources depended on the exploitation of African labour. Instead, the colonial regimes "would put in place a number of laws to control and exploit black labour.

This was the period aptly described by Marx as the period of the expropriation of the immediate producers which "was accomplished with merciless vandalism, and under the stimulus of passions the most infamous, the most sordid, the pettiest, the most meanly odious".

Mbeki (25) said of this period in South Africa that:

"We see therefore that the methods and practices of primitive accumulation which represented a transitional phase in the development of capital in Europe, assumed permanence in the South African economy and lifestyle of the Boers. They acquired a fixity characteristic of feudal society, legitimised by the use of force and sanctified by a supposedly Calvinistic Christianity … Thrown up by the birth of a higher social system, they reverted precisely to that natural economy that capital was so vengefully breaking up. But capital has already taught them that in the pursuit of a better life, everything, including murder, was permissible and legitimate".

He went further to say: "In Europe the economic freedom of the worker to hire himself out freely to the highest bidder, which came with and was part of the bourgeois revolution, was of course connected with, accompanied and enhanced by the political freedom of the worker to represent himself in matters of state through the vote, itself an integral part of the victory of the bourgeoisie over feudal society. In South Africa, this was not to be. Here, the capitalist inherited the rights of the feudal lord and appropriated to himself the right to determine where, when, at what price and under what conditions the African can sell his labour power to the capitalist. He also appropriated to himself the right to decide ‘what is good for the native'".

This underscored the fact that the act of ‘civilising' the Africans was not so much about them as it was about the colonisers. Civilisation meant profit maximisation and exploitation. All political questions in South Africa and elsewhere in the colonies resolved themselves to one, and only one matter: capitalist accumulation.

For the colonialists, the abundance of cheap and super-exploitable black labour was vital; it emancipated them from manual work and became the central political problem for centuries of apartheid - colonialism.

This explains why the European settlers and successive white regimes relied on unskilled African labour and consequently why South Africa is today faced with such enormous lack of skilled labour particularly among Africans. Coupled with this was the total ban of labour and rights for the black workers so that they could not be able to advance their rights, either as labour or as free human beings, and consequently be able to change their status as cheap labour.

It can boldly be asserted that the apartheid state carried to its logical conclusion and with unnerving brutality the unaccomplished mission of the colonial state established in 1910.

The formation of the ANC in 1912 was part of a response by the Africans to the establishment of the Union and would address the most glaring factor missing in African political resistance to colonial invasion, that is, unity of the Africans across the South African territory, beyond narrow and petty tribal divisions. Following this, the Africans would be able to wage a concerted national struggle not just against oppression, but for freedom and democracy for all, for a country that belonged to all who lived in it.

Towards a real Union!

South Africa's liberation in 1994 meant that it ceased to be what Verwoerd called ‘a piece of Europe on the tip of the African continent'. The general election of 1994 constituted an act of fundamental negation of the settlement of 1910. A new South Africa was founded on the basis of the inclusion of all South Africans, black and white, and on the basis that, at least in terms of official state policy and legislation, the Africans and black people in general ceased to be viewed as outcasts in South Africa, condemned by law and the force of arms to become the proletariat of white capital.

From the white minority state established in 1910, we see that Africans got the rawest deal. This is what Walter Sisulu (26) referred to when he said that: "The central feature of the revolution in South Africa is that it is an African revolution. In the first place, the oppression and exploitation of the African people is the pivot around which the whole system of white supremacy revolves". Further to elucidate this point, Sisulu says that "to characterise our revolution as an African revolution is not to gloss over the oppression of the other national groups, nor is it to ignore or minimise their contribution to the unfolding revolution. To speak of the African revolution is to emphasise a fundamental aspect inherent to the structure of oppression [in South Africa], namely, that the liberation of the African people is a necessary condition for removing the oppression of all other national groups in South Africa".

In a way, this meant that it was not possible to liberate any group in South Africa without first and foremost liberating the Africans. The African was the cornerstone for the liberation of all the oppressed groups from white minority rule. This would also include liberating white South Africa in toto from the yoke of white supremacy that had hung heavily around their necks for centuries since the advent of the colonisation process.

The new South Africa established in 1994 has been premised on the values of the Freedom Charter that "South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people"; that "our country will never be prosperous and free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities; and that "only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief".

First and foremost, South Africa's independence in 1994 was an historic act of redemption for all of Africa. South Africa's struggle for liberation was an integral part of that continent-wide movement for freedom. The Union of South Africa had been a colonial-imperialist project, and accordingly the new South Africa was part of an Africa-wide decolonisation and anti-imperialist project.

Whereas the Union of South Africa established a single country but consciously failed to forge a united nation; victory over that legacy created conditions to go ahead and forge a united nation as envisaged in the Freedom Charter predicated on inclusiveness and everybody must have both a political role and socio-economic stake in it.

Such a country must consciously be biased towards the poor and the vulnerable of all racial groups, and be focused towards establishing vibrant and strong ties with the whole of Africa.

To say that the new South Africa must be biased towards the poor and vulnerable of all racial groups does not mean that the liberation of the Africans and black people in general is no longer relevant. On the contrary, the national content of our struggle remains the national liberation of black people in general and Africans in particular, but we should also acknowledge the new political permutations and social dynamics spawned by the progress of the national democratic revolution, such as that there are poor and vulnerable white South Africans who equally need the support of the new developmental state. To ignore this would be both unnecessarily dogmatic and contrary to the very objectives of the national democratic revolution as spelled out in the Freedom Charter.

The fact is that the new South Africa must in character be an antithesis of the colonial state. Such antithesis must find expression in the fulfilment of the social aspirations of all South Africans, black and white, so that they all can identify themselves with the new state. This still does not diminish the role and place of the Africans, especially the African working class, as the mainstay and principal motive forces of the revolution.

This remains a revolution of the whole people, whose liberation of the most oppressed would simultaneously result in the liberation of white people in general from the false ideology of apartheid. In particular, it would free the white working class and the white poor from the pact they made with white capital to defend the status quo and bind them into a new principled pact with their black counterparts. It would free them wholeheartedly to pursue their genuine interests together with their black counterparts without having to pay allegiance to a system that negated their genuine interests and made them partners to its depravity. It also freed the white youth from continuing to bear the brunt of a system most of whom never had to vote for.

The progress made thus far by the revolution does not mean, as some commentators have tended recently to suggest, that the national content of the NDR has been accomplished. This, at best, is based on an oversimplification of the challenges faced in our society today based on the emergence of a small emerging black bourgeois class, which has not yet reached its full bloom, as well as the proliferation of a very consumerist black middle stratum whose spending power has immensely influenced economic growth in recent years, but is yet to equal that of their white compatriots.

The truth is that the national interests of black people remain as pertinent as ever and yet there are new social dynamics which have begun to tilt the struggle emphasising its class content. However, even a cursory look at the black middle strata and the emerging black bourgeoisie would indicate that they still have national aspirations which tie them to the fulfilment of the interests of all black people. These groups cannot as yet strike out on their own. Their very consolidation and further growth, and survival, still depend very much on the success of the lot of all black people.

Furthermore, he says of the national middles class which takes over power at the end of the colonial regime that it is "under-developed" and "has practically no economic power, and in any case it is not commensurate with the bourgeoisie of the mother country which it hopes to replace". Of course, it should be borne in mind that in the South African context, the "bourgeoisie of the mother country" is a South African bourgeoisie.

However, Fanon (27) says that the national bourgeoisie spawned by the victory of the revolution will have serious pitfalls, which would include that it would lack a far-reaching transformative agenda, and would lack all ambition which, amongst other things, will symbolise its "incapability … to fulfil its historic role of bourgeoisie". In this regard, he says, "the dynamic, pioneer aspect, the characteristics of the inventor and of the discoverer of new worlds which are found in all national bourgeoisies are lamentably absent. In the colonial countries, the spirit of indulgence is dominant at the core of the bourgeoisie; and this is because the national bourgeoisie identifies itself with the Western bourgeoisie, from which it has learnt its lessons. It follows the Western bourgeoisie along its path of negation and decadence without ever having emulated it in its first stages of exploration and invention, stages which are an acquisition of that Western bourgeoisie whatever the circumstances. In its beginnings, the national bourgeoisie of the colonial countries identifies itself with the decadence of the bourgeoisie of the West. We need not think that it is jumping ahead; it is in fact beginning at the end. It is already senile before it has come to know the petulance, the fearlessness or the will to succeed of youth".

This is often reflected, amongst other things, in its accumulation patters, sometimes dominated by corruption and bribes, as well as in its tendency towards conspicuous consumption and a bling culture. South Africa is no exception in this regard. Indeed, there are many genuine and hard-working black business people and entrepreneurs, and yet there are also many who have accumulated and are accumulating their property through corrupt practises such as bribing state officials to acquire tenders which they know very well they lack the experience, the expertise as well as the commitment to fulfil. This bureaucratic bourgeoisie is not an exception in South Africa; it follows often from the overthrow of colonialism.

Of course, getting a tender or government contract is not wrong. In itself, and done openly and genuinely, this is no problem. However, the issue is how one acquires this tender or contract and what do they use it for - do they deliver on the requisite service? Do they use the resources they have acquired to invest in new skills and technology; to contribute towards social transformation or do they spend it all on feeding their rapacious greed and unyielding appetite for bling?

In this practice, it confirms Fanon's criticism of the national bourgeoisie that it is imbued with the spirit of indulgence, it identifies itself with and follows the Western bourgeoisie, from which it has learnt its lessons, along its path of negation and decadence, but it still lacks the Western bourgeoisie's spirit of inventor and discoverer of new worlds.

Can the national democratic revolution chart a different course in its development and assist the national bourgeoisie "to betray the calling fate has marked out for it"? Can it negate the Union of 1910 and thus avoid its pitfalls and eventual doom?

To accomplish this task of negating the Union of 1910, the new South Africa must:

This would be a new and better Union, founded on inclusivity, equality and social justice.

The legacy of the 1910 Union will live with South Africa for many years to come. Indeed, the colonisation of South Africa, the discovery of its mineral wealth and the subjugation of African labour was to have a massive impact on the political and socio-economic landscape of this country. However, its mineral wealth in particular, and the impact of the ‘colonialism of a special type' created a particular attitude from the major global powers towards South Africa, which attitude persists even today, though the tools used to secure strategic interests in South Africa today may differ.

What is clear from the history of the Union, as well as all the events both preceding and succeeding it, is that, in a sense, the economic base defined the superstructure; that is, the economic interests, nation-state and political arrangements.


(1) Bernard Magubane (1996): "The Making of a Racist State: British Imperialism and the Union of South Africa, 1875 - 1910". MacMillan Press Limited, p. 40

(2) Ibid.: ix

(3) ibid.: xi

(4) Magubane, ibid., p. 221-2

(5) Ibid, p. 260

(6) Ibid, p. xii

(7) Martin Meredith (2001): "Diamonds, Gold and War: The Making of South Africa". Simon and Schuster UK Ltd, p. 413

(8)Meredith, ibid., p. 468

(9) Butler, ibid., p. 13

(10)Ibid, p. 277

(11) Ibid, p. 234

(12) Oliver Tambo: Paper presented to the International Conference for Sanctions Against South Africa in London, April 1964

(13) Magubane, ibid., p. 131

(14) Oliver Tambo: Apartheid - the indictment. A paper presented to the International Conference for Sanctions Against South Africa, London, April 1964

(15) Thabo Mbeki (1978): "The Historical Injustice". Paper presented in Ottawa, Canada

(16) Ibid.

(17) Ibid.

(18) Ibid.

(19) Prof David Welsh, Triumph and defeat: lessons of an exclusionary accord. An article that appeared on the Business Day, 18 May 2010

(20) Ibid.

(21) Bill Freund (1998): "The Making of Contemporary South Africa: the development of African society since 1800". MacMillan Press Ltd.

(22) Ibid.

(23) Mbeki, ibid.

(24) Magubane, ibid., p. 11

(25) Mbeki, ibid.

(26) Walter Sisulu, "We Shall Overcome", in Mac Maharaj (ed.) (2001): "Reflections in Prison". Zebra and the Robben Island Museum¸ p. 71

(27) Ibid.


The Life and Struggle of Bettie du Toit

(aka Elizabeth Sophia Honman):

1910 - 2002

By Andries Nel

"One of those ... who surmounted the prejudices of their frontier background and entered the kingdom of a broad humanity." - Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Laureate for Literature

The establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910 laid the legal and constitutional basis for what our national liberation movement would later characterise as colonialism of a special type - internal or Apartheid colonialism.

It brought peace, albeit an uneasy one, among whites, Afrikaans and English speaking, who shortly before had been engaged in bloody warfare, and excluded Africans; consigning them to being foreigners in the land of their birth, thereby providing further impetus for the formation of the African National Congress in 1912.

It is historically significant then, that Bettie du Toit, one of the heroes of our struggle, who devoted her entire life to defeating Apartheid colonialism, was born on 15 July 1910 on a farm outside Johannesburg, shortly after the establishment of the Union of South Africa.

Bettie du Toit, trade unionist, communist and freedom fighter, is regarded by many as an icon. Her name is seldom, if ever, absent when the roll of honour is read out of those Afrikaner patriots such as Bram and Molly Fisher, Beyers and Ilse Naude, who turned their backs on Apartheid and spared neither strength nor courage to fight for the democratic changes contained in the Freedom Charter.

But her story is also more complex. Many, including her closest comrades and friends, believed that Bettie du Toit was her real name and that she was born into an Afrikaans speaking family of Huguenot descent.

She was, in fact, born as Elizabeth Sophia Honman, to a mother of German and father of British descent. Her uncles, and most probably her father as well, fought as British troopers in the South African (Anglo-Boer) War.

She and her brother were, however, orphaned at an early age and brought up in orphanages and government "industrial schools." According to some family members, though, her father did not die in the First World War, as she indicates in certain documents and interviews, but suffered "shell-shock" to such an extent that he was unable to care for them. According to them he died in the 1950s. She attended the Standerton Industrial School, a government school for poor white, predominantly Afrikaner, children. She left school after six years, at the age of eighteen, with a certificate in Domestic Science (sewing, cooking, laundry).

It is as a result of this upbringing, perhaps, that, years later, when studying in Moscow at International Lenin School and the Communist University of the Toilers of the East, she described her nationality as: "Afrikaner." (1)

One of her formative memories, to which she ascribes her resolve and fighting spirit, is of her father on their farm, "standing with him while he held my hand, and cattle were milling all around us and I was very frightened. I must have been about three or so and he held my hand and said, you must never allow anything to frighten you or panic when you are frightened. Stand, see nothing will happen to you." (2)

At the age of 18, on the eve of the Great Depression of 1929, she moved to Johannesburg and started working as a domestic worker in a doctor's house, taking care of the children. At nineteen the doctor took her to work at a hospital, where she worked for three years and learned how to take care of patients. Her profession is often described as a nurse.

It was during this period that she met, and started working with, unionists such as Johanna and Hester Cornelius. One of her earliest experiences of trade union work was helping the Cornelius sisters during a textile workers strike.

Her participation in this strike is described in the lawyer, and communist activist, Hyman Basner's biography, Am I an African:

"In 1935, still in her early twenties, she [Johanna Cornelius] and four other Afrikaans girls were defended by Basner when prosecuted for after an enthusiastic brawl with strike-breakers at a textile mill. They refused to pay fines of a pound each, and opted for ten days in the Johannesburg Fort - the first white women to do such a thing. One of them, Bettie du Toit [...], recollects Basner's admiration for their decision, and his loud bellows of praise for them in the courtroom. They were tough, but she also remembers how innocent they were. Each one had known real poverty but the prison food, just boiled mealie-meal pap and rancid dripping to be eaten from dirty wooden spoons, reduced them to tears. They were puzzled by the other women who were inside. "For what?" they asked as they sat on the latrines. "For soliciting", was the answer. "And what is that?" they wanted to know and needed a lot of elucidation." (3)

Du Toit worked side by side with other unionists such as Ray Alexander, JB Marks, John Gaetsewe, Dan Tloome, Mark Shope, Leon and Norman Levy, Beila Page, Eli Weinberg, Leslie Massina, Oscar Mpetha, Isaac Moumakwe, Solly Sachs, Gus Coe and Wilton Mkwayi.

She was involved, at various times, in trade unions as diverse as the Pretoria Match Workers' Union , the Textile Workers Industrial Union, the Transvaal and Natal Canning Workers, Candle and Soap Workers Union, as well as assisting Johanna Cornelius to organise tobacco workers near Rustenburg. She served as secretary of, amongst others, the National Laundry, Cleaning and Dyeing Workers Union (NLDCW) and the Food, Canning and Allied Workers Union (FCWU). She also served as one of the progressive members on the NEC of the South African Trades and Labour Council (SA T&LC).

She was, however, strongly opposed to narrow, economistic approaches to trade unionism. She practised the understanding that: "It is not sufficient that the trade union shall concern itself with economic issues. It must participate in the political struggle against pass laws and fight for political rights." (4)

Her involvement in progressive political struggle started at a relatively young age. By 1933 she had joined the Friends of the Soviet Union, of which she became assistant secretary. In the same year, through Dr. Max Joffe, she joined the Young Communist League, serving as secretary for organisation from 1934 to 1936. In 1936 she joined the Communist Party of South Africa.

According to her, she joined the Communist Party because, "I heard Communist speakers at the meetings and as working women understood that the Communists are fighting for the workers." (5)

Her close friend, the Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer, argues that she, "...learnt her social concern from life and not, in the familiar middle-class awakening, from books. Her political concepts grew out of her intelligence's need for rational explanation of what she was experiencing." (6)

Not that she didn't read. Before going to Moscow she said that, "I have no special political training. I have read some of Lenin's Work. The Little Lenin Library. All of Stalin's articles in the Imprecorr [International Press Correspondence, the weekly publication of the Communist International]. A lot of pamflets. I have been to a number of lectures of our comrades on different political questions, on political economy. Dialectical Materialism. On Trotskyism." (7)

In March 1936 she left for the Soviet Union to study at the International Lenin School and the Communist University of the Toilers of the East (KUTV), in Moscow. She arrived in July of 1936 and started studying under the alias Mary Davidson.

Many South African communists, including, Molly Wolton, Albert Nzula, Moses Kotane, Edwin Mofutsanyana, John (JB) Marks and Josie (Palmer) Mpama also studied there during those times.

The remarks made by her lecturers are very interesting. In January 1937 one of her teachers, "Brigadier", made the following note in her file: "Characterisation. Comrade Davidson [du Toit] has learned to perfection the Introductory Course as shown by the test on 13 January 1937. At the beginning of the school year Comrade Davidson comprehended poorly specific political and theoretical issues, had difficulties in linking theoretical issues with life and with revolutionary practice. In four months Davidson has made great strides forward in this field. In addition, she became much more active as compared with the first month of the training course. There are all grounds to expect comrade Davidson to make a great step forward in her studies in the second half of the year. (8)

She also conducted herself with seriousness and discipline. In November 1937, the Head of Scientific Department at the KUTV, S. Melman, was able to make the following remarks in her file: "Introductory course in political economy and current policy she studied with Brigadier (now exposed as an enemy of the people), part of the course of the problems of her country she studied with Shiykom (expelled from the VKP(b) [All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik)]). The main part of the course of the problems she studied with comrade Nauman. Comrade Davidson [du Toit] took her studies most seriously. During her stay in the school she was never noticed in anything negative." (9)

Bettie du Toit left Moscow for South Africa on 31 December 1937. According to a report in a her file at the security legislation division at the Department of Justice, it was in 1938, after her return from the Soviet Union, that she started using the name Bettie du Toit. Years later she explained to her niece that this alias was made up using her mother-in-law's maiden name. (10)

At the time she was married to Jan Hendrik van Rooyen. Not much is known about him other than that he was a bank clerk. They were divorced in 1939.

After her return from Moscow she intensified her trade union and political work. In her autobiography, White Girl in Search of the Party, Pauline Podbrey recalls meeting Bettie du Toit for the first time at a Communist Party meeting in Durban chaired by HA Naidoo:

"Comrade du Toit, the chairman announced, is here from Johannesburg. She has just returned from a visit to the Soviet Union and she will give us her impressions. Bettie rose, smilingly acknowledging our applause. She was neat and trim and everything about her sparkled, her black hair, her red lips, her dark eyes. Her white linen frock was newly pressed and on her feet were high-heeled sandals - altogether a most unlikely Communist activist, I thought. Yet here she was telling us about the marvellous life in the Soviet Fatherland and the need for a strong Party in South Africa so that we too, could wield workers' power, without regard for the colour of a man's skin." (11)

It was also during this time that she met Govan and Epainette Mbeki in Durban. Mark Gevisser writes in, Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred, that:

"One of their closest acquaintances was the glamorous Afrikaner trade unionist Bettie du Toit, who had just returned from a trip to the Soviet Union and had come to Durban to help organise sugar-workers.

"Despite her conservative upbringing, she was perhaps the least racially encumbered of her generation of white activists, 'an Afrikaner communist who danced unthinkingly with black men', as one historian put it. One of these was Govan Mbeki: he had been asked to welcome her to Durban, and they took an instant shine to each other. 'We became great friends, Bettie and I,' he told me. 'She would come to school in the afternoon and we would sit together. We would hug and kiss in public, and that was very unusual. Then I would take her back to her flat, walking hand in hand to get there.'

"[I]t was Bettie du Toit who recruited her [Epainette Mbeki] into the Communist Party, and she recognises the trade unionist as having played the key role in her coming to political consciousness. 'Before I met her, the only white women I knew were my teachers, and naturally they had the attitude of teachers. Now when I met Bettie, here's a white woman who takes me as an equal, who can sit down with me, who drinks my tea...'" (12)

In December 1942, she married Guy Routh, a communist who would go on play an important role in the formation of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement. They were divorced in July 1946.

She also participated in electoral politics. In line with the Communist Party's strategy at the time, she stood as a candidate for the Party in Rosettenville in the general elections of 1943 and also as a candidate for municipal elections in 1945.

On the international front she visited the Women's International Federation and attended the World Festival of Youth and Students in Berlin in 1951, attended a meeting of the Food and Supply Workers Trade Union International in Vienna and addressed the International Conference of Textile and Clothing Workers Berlin in 1952.

In December 1952 the Minister of Justice, CR Swart, issued an order for her to resign as secretary of both the Food, Canning and Allied Workers Union as well as the National Union of Laundering, Clothing and Dyeing Workers Union in terms of the Suppression of Communism Act. She was the first union official to receive such an order. She was also prohibited from attending any gathering for two years, an order extended by a further five years in March 1959.

In April 1947 she married Yusuf Cachalia, secretary of the Transvaal Indian Congress and, together with Walter Sisulu, joint secretary of the Defiance Campaign. They were married in Port Elizabeth, in the Cape Province, the only one still allowing "mixed" marriages. They were divorced in September 1955.

During the Defiance Campaign of 1952 she, together with, amongst others, Patrick Duncan (son of the former Governor-General), Albie Sachs, Alfred Hutchinson, Peter Molotsi, Percy Cohen, Freda Troup, Manilal Gandhi (son of Mahatma Gandhi) defied the Group Areas Act by by marching into Germiston location. They were arrested and she was sentenced to a fine of £50 or 50 days imprisonment with hard labour, half suspended for three years. She and others refused to pay their fines and served their sentences in prison.

She also served on the committee that organised the launch of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) on 17 April 1954.

Despite being banned, Du Toit helped found the Kupugani school feeding scheme in Soweto. She entered Soweto on a daily basis using a false permit. In an interview she recalls being known amongst teachers and learners as, "the protein lady." (13)

She was detained during the State of Emergency declared in March 1960 following the Sharpeville Massacre. The women she was detained with, including Molly Fischer, embarked on a hunger strike which resulted in her becoming extremely ill but she refused to abandon the strike on her own.

In 1963 she was tipped off that she faced imminent detention under the infamous 90-day detention legislation. She went into hiding and, with the assistance of Nadine Gordimer and Ismail "Maulvi" Cachalia, escaped to Botswana where she stayed with Rica Hodgson for a short time before she and Michael Harmel clubbed together to pay a German pilot to fly them to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in a small aircraft.

With the assistance of Nadine Gordimer and her husband she relocated to Accra, Ghana, then under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah. With the assistance of her erstwhile lawyer, Hyman Basner, then a political advisor to Nkrumah, she secured positions, first as a researcher for the Ghana Trade Union Congress led by John Tettegah and later as a researcher for the Ghana Broadcasting Association, a position she lost after the CIA backed coup that deposed Nkrumah in 1966.

She describes her time in Ghana, living in a free African nation, as one of the happiest times of her life. Unfortunately, it was also here that she lost her sight as a result of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, following treatment with antibiotics for an ear infection.

She left Ghana for London where she learned Braille and participated in a programme to teach others until the Tory government under Margaret Thatcher cut the funding for the programme. She published Ukubamba Amadolo: Workers' Struggles in the South African Textile Industry in 1978 with a foreword by Nadine Gordimer.

In 1979 she applied to visit South Africa. It is testimony to the cruelty and the perversity of the Apartheid regime that it refused the application of a 69 year old woman who had been blind for more than a decade, on the basis that she was a security risk.

A note in her file at the security legislation division at Department of Justice states that, "The Department does not recommend the granting of a return visa to the abovementioned and is of the view that her residence in South Africa would pose a security risk." Another note argues that, "It is clear that the real reason for her visit to South Africa has not come to attention. There is no motivation for admission on humanitarian grounds. She will be staying at the home of Nadine Gordimer an anti South African writer which in itself will pose a security risk" (14)

Of this hero of our struggle, her close friend Nadine Gordimer said, "She represents a further stage in human development qua humanness; she feels as directly responsible for the welfare of any child as a parent does towards his own, she will sacrifice her comfort, disrupt her way of life and endanger her liberty for any individual, oppressed, or in private trouble, in a way the rest of us would consider doing only for husbands, wives, lovers." (15)

She remained a loyal, disciplined and active member of the ANC to the end of her life. In the early 1990s, during one of the last recorded interviews with her, she speaks at length and with passion about building her ANC branch in Johannesburg and sharing her experiences of organising with younger members of the branch. (16)

Bettie du Toit passed away at the age of 92 on 31 January 2002 in Johannesburg. She was cremated. There is a plaque in her memory in the Garden of Remembrance at Craighall Park, Johannesburg.

NOTE: Andries Nel is a member of the ANC. He is working on a biography of Bettie du Toit. He would appreciate any information that readers can provide. His email address is:


Only direct quotes have been acknowledged. The author wishes, however, to acknowledge, in particular, the assistance of: Slava Tetekin of the Russian Communist Party, for assisting in tracing Bettie du Toit's files from the International Lenin School and the Communist University of the East; Luli Callinicos for sharing her knowledge and recording of an interview with Bettie du Toit; Nadine Gordimer for sharing her friendship with Bettie du Toit; Mark Gevisser; Leon Levy; and Delyse (Honman) West, Bettie du Toit's niece, for her invaluable information.

(1) du Toit, Bettie. File. Lenin International School / Communist University of the East

(2) du Toit, Bettie. Interview with Hilda Bernstein, London

(3) Basner, Miriam. Am I an African: The Political Memoirs of HM Basner, Witwatersrand University Press, 1993, pp. 56-57

(4) Gordimer, Nadine. Foreword to du Toit, Bettie, Ukubamba Amadolo: Workers' struggles in the South African textile industry. London. Onyx Press, 1978. pp 2-3

(5) du Toit, Bettie. File. Lenin International School/ Communist University of the East

(6) Gordimer, op. cit. p. 4

(7) du Toit, Bettie. File. Lenin International School/ Communist University of the East

(8) Ibid

(9) Ibid

(10) West, Delyse (Honman). Interview with Andries Nel. 21 July 2010.

(11) Podbrey, Pauline. White Girl in Search of the Party. University of Natal Press, 1993. pp 33-34.

(12) Gevisser, Mark. Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred, Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2007. p. 35

(13) du Toit, Bettie. Interview with Hilda Bernstein. London

(14) File 2/1/81. Department of Justice. National Archives.

(15) Ibid.

(16) Bettie du Toit. Interview with Luli Callinicos

Sixty years since the banning of the CPSA

Rudolph Phaala


The year 2010 represents 60 years since the banning of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) in 1950. The people of South Africa and Progressive forces all over the World should take opportunity to study and learn from the invaluable contribution of the Communist Party to the South African revolution. The memorials should be a precursor for the celebration of 90 years of the SACP next year 2011. The two years' reflections must essentially help to demonstrate the extent of the contribution of the Party and individual communists to South African struggle for freedom and the building of a new South Africa.

The CPA was the first non-racial political party in the country and for nearly fourty years the only non-racial one. It was only in the 1950's with the emergence of the Liberal Party that there was another non-racial Political Party on our shores. It pioneered progressive trade unionism under very difficult conditions. It contributed to the moulding of the ANC as a powerful, revolutionary force of the freedom struggle. It initiated and consolidated alliance and broad-front politics in the South African revolution.

The contribution of the Communist Party to the South African revolution must be studied, reviewed, celebrated and commemorated.

From formation to banning: 1921-1950

The first socialist party to be established in South Africa is the International Socialist League (ISL) of 1915. It was therefore the immediate forerunner to the CPSA. The ISL was itself a progressive, left breakaway from the South African Labour Party (SALP). The SALP being itself, in its days, "the main political party of the organised working class" (The red flag .6)

The ISL laid firm foundations for the existence and consolidation of a revolutionary working- class movement. The CPSA emerged out of a womb of the ISL on 30 July 1921, to become "the very first truly Marxist-Leninist Communist Party on the continent of Africa" (The red flag.9). And like the ISL, the CPSA was lily-white in membership.

There are a number of objective reasons for this. That objective situation included, the fact that the unionised, conscientised workers were white workers; that the proletarianisation of African workers was in its early stages; and that conditions for the mobilisation, conscientisation and organisation of African workers into trade unions was extremely difficult.

In 1922, while it was still wet behind the ears, the CPSA was confronted by a militant strike by white mineworkers. The 1922 mineworkers' strike was triggered by the post-world-war economic crisis, in which the price of gold fell phenomenally and threatened profits of white monopoly capital. Capital decided instead to reduce worker wages to remain profitable. "The bourgeois press called the strike, ‘the Red Revolt'. Prime Minister Jan Smuts told his parliament that, ‘the aim of the Rand revolutionaries was to establish a sort of Soviet Republic.' It was nothing of the sort."(Fifty fighting years.45)

The strike was basically white miners trying to safeguard their position against the progression of the black workers. It was primarily to serve their own interests as white workers. The Party took a position to support the strike "without necessarily identifying with every slogan heard in the strike ….. convinced that it is essentially a fight against the Capitalist class." (The red flag.11). It is a fact of history that the party never supported the slogan, "workers of the world unite, for a white South Africa", a disinformation spread by some anti-communist history books. The CPSA was never racist and its commitment to non-racialism and working-class internationalisation is unquestionable. And the Party is very proud of that history, contribution and commitment.

As stated earlier, from its inception, the CPSA, like the ISL, failed to give the necessary and required attention to the situation of African workers, including, their mobilisation, conscientisation and organisation. This situation was corrected in the subsequent years.

The CPSA was a non-racial party in its theoretical perspectives from its inception. It preached the practice of full non-racialism in and outside its ranks. But in its early years, the CPSA's dedication to non-racialism was not reflected in its membership. It was only after the 1922 white miners' strike that the mass recruitment and organisation of African workers was paid attention to. The Africanisation of the CPSA which started in 1924 was so swift and successful that by 1928, of the 1750 party members, 1600 were African. In that process the Party recruited such members as Josie Mpama, Gana Makabeni, Edwin Thabo Mofutsanyana, Moses Kotane, JB Marks, Albert Nzula and Johannes Nkosi, who were to play such a seminal role in its life for the next 60 years.

On the issue of the National Question, the Third International or the Comintern, as the communist international was known, had resolved in 1921 about a National Democratic Revolution route to Socialism. A draft resolution presented by Jimmy La Guma to the Executive Committee of the Comintern in Moscow articulated what came to be called the Black Republic Thesis. It elaborated that, "the CPSA should campaign under the general political slogan of an independent native South African Republic, as a stage towards a workers and peasants' republic, with full, equal rights for all races, black, coloured and whites."(The red flag.16) This was essentially, the first indication of National Liberation as a first stage to socialism in South African conditions. It was an early, nascent attempt to elaborate on the implementation of the Comintern resolution on the relationship between National liberation and socialism in South African conditions.

The Draft Resolution on the South African Question went further in what was very poetic and became very prophetic words:-"The Party should pay particular attention to the embryonic organisations among the native, such as the African National Congress. The Party, while retaining its full independence, should participate in these organisations, should seek to broaden the organisations and extend their activity. Our aim should be to transform the ANC into a fighting nationalist revolutionary organisation against white bourgeoisie and the British imperialists." But a majority position of the CPSA was, " the ICU has a much greater expectation of life than the ANC because its foundation is class rather than race unity…..The African National Congress, which the resolution wants us to boost up, is a moribund body, it has had its day". How unprophetic, myopic and wrong. This majority position of the CPSA was rejected by the communists in its 6th Congress in 1929 and it adopted the Black republic approach.

In the 1930's as a result of the impact of Stalinism on the Comintern and the communist movement globally, the CPSA itself was divided because of what was called Bolshevisation. The CPSA was overtaken by a dogmatic, ultra-left sectarianism that dwindled its influence, divided its membership and weakened its leadership. Purges, suspicions and labelling were the order of the day. Leading CPSA revolutionaries were expelled including, Bill Andrews, Jimmy La Guma, TW Thibedi, Gana Makabeni and SP Bunting. But, despite, or maybe also because of, the ideological differences and factional battles of the late 1920's and early 1930's, the CPSA grew in the work it was doing of mobilisation, conscientisation and organisation, particularly of the African people. It organised anti-pass campaigns and labour demonstrations. In fact "by the mid-1930's Ray Simons and Jonny Gomas in the Cape, HA Naidoo and George Poonen in Natal, and Willy Kalk and Issy Wolfson in the Transvaal were all playing active and leading roles in building industrial trade unions." (Red flag .25)

In the famous "Cradock Letter", of February 1934 Moses Kotane was highly critical of internal sectarianism and dogmatism in the CPSA. A new spirit reinvigorated the CPSA, as it did the Comintern. Some of the previously expelled comrades were reinstated. The Party publication called the International, changed to be The South African Worker in 1926, was renamed Umsebenzi in 1930. It's contribution to the early struggles for conscientisation, mobilisation and organisation of African workers is unparalleled.

When the Second World War broke out and Hitler later attacked the Soviet Union, the CPSA became highly active in a lot of areas. Party militants were active in community struggles of all kind. The 1946 African Mineworkers strike, anti-pass campaigns, progressive journalism, pioneering progressive trade unions, in factories and townships it was party activists who were at the forefront of every democratic demand and struggle. And that is why the CPSA was banned in 1950, as the first target of the Nationalist party that came to power in 1948 with the slogan of apartheid. The party which contributed immensely to the fight against Nazi herenvolkism and fascism during the Second World War, paradoxically a few years later got banned by heirs of Hitler.

Events around the banning

As a consequence of the heightened intensity of the struggle, the regime went haywire and attacked activist with all manner of draconian acts - banning, detentions, house arrests, banishments, imprisonment, torture, killings. The frustration of the regime reached its peak in 1940's. These also happened in the midst of an intense international imperialist hysterical anti-communist campaign. That is why on coming to power in 1948, with the slogan of apartheid, the Nationalist Party set one of its objectives as the banning of the communist party.

It was because of the significant role played by the Communist party, communist activists and communist ideas that the party was to be banned. It was because of the tried, tested and tireless work in the freedom struggle invaluably contributed by communists that the regime targeted the CPSA. Their words, their deeds and their influence revolutionised, strengthened and intensified the struggle for freedom in the country.

Early in 1950, the apartheid regime introduced the Unlawful Organisations Bill directed at banning the communist party. The Bill was later renamed the Suppression of Communism Act, giving the Minister of Justice and the security police wide-ranging powers of banning and banishment. The Central Committee of the Communist Party was convened to consider the implications brought by the Bill.

In its meeting of 07 May 1950, the Central Committee took the matter to a head. "In view of the terms of the Unlawful Organisations Bill, the Central Committee of the Communist Party resolves:-

  1. That should this Bill pass the third reading in the House of Assembly the Communist Party shall as from the date of such reading be dissolved.
  2. That members of the Central Executive Committee shall take all necessary steps to see that such dissolution is properly carried out and that all district and branch committees and groups thereupon cease to function.
  3. That members of the CEC shall have the power to take such steps as are necessary to wind up the affairs of the party."(communists speak.213-4)

In its 1962 Party Programme, The Road to South African Freedom, the Communist Party, state categorically that, "one of the first attacks of the nationalist government on the people's rights was the suppression of communism Act of 1950. The communist party of South Africa which for twenty-eight years had marched at the head of the freedom struggles of the workers and the oppressed peoples, was outlawed.

The Act laid down heavy penalties for defending or advocating communist ideas. It was no accident that the nationalist government made this party and these ideas their first target, and sought to destroy them as the main obstacle to their plan of subjugating the people. Communism stands for the direct opposite of the theories and practices of the nationalist party. Communism stands for the rights of the workers and oppressed people -against all forms of racialism, privilege, colonialism and exploitation of man. Communism stands for peace, freedom, democracy and national independence. Laws and force cannot destroy the ideas of communism"

In his presentation to the ANC political school 2010, Jeff Radebe, elaborated on the banning of the SACP as follows: "The Suppression of Communism Act was such early legislative instrument during the development of the apartheid state aimed at curbing the political spread of views antagonistic to those of white supremacy. Even though on face value the Act was aimed at communists, in reality the target was the ANC, as their definition of communists was so wide enough to cover everyone in the liberation movement who was considered antagonistic to white supremacy. Anyone who conspired to overthrow the government or failed to report such plots or assisted in acts of terrorism was covered through this Act.

"The name of the Act was misleading as the objective had little to do with communism, but general suppression of the struggle for democracy under the disguise that the intention was to suppress communism. This Act prohibited certain people from practising as advocates, attorneys, notaries and conveyances and clearly this had nothing to do with communism." The position of the ANC on the Act was that it was an anti-communist scare tactic, designed to try to suppress the freedom struggle of the people of South Africa.

The ANC is not and was never a communist movement, but it fought the Act because it proscribed the freedom struggle. That is why the ANC said, it is communists today, it will be every freedom-loving South African tomorrow, and launched a mass campaign in 1950 to fight the Act. The Act was so demonstrably not aimed at communism or the CPSA, that even by the time it was passed the CPSA had already decided to dissolve on its own and logically there was therefore no need for such an Act. Its definition of a prohibited act was so brought that even clear non-communists like Chief A.J. Luthuli were charged in terms of it. Many freedom fighters who were not communists were banned, banished and incarcerated through its provisions. Communism was so widely defined that any act of the struggle was banned in that name!

Re-emergence as the SACP in 1953

While the regime was finalising the suppression of communism Bill, a hastily convened meeting of the Party's Central Committee by a majority view decided to disband the CPSA in May 1950. The Party was relaunched underground in 1953 as the South African Communist Party (SACP). Dialego argues that, "when in 1950 leading members of the CPSA decided in the face of the impending Suppression of Communism Act, that they had no alternative but to simply dissolve the party, some communists, both among the leadership and the rank and file, actually wrote off the possibility of forming a new party underground because of the dangers and difficulties this involved".

Through the 1950s party activists were at the forefront of freedom struggle leading it from many frontiers, trade union, community, ANC, etc. As Bram Fisher would put it " In the movement for freedom and equal human rights for all, it was always members of the Communist Party who seemed prepared, regardless of the cost to sacrifice most, to give of their best, to face the greatest dangers in the struggle". (The red flag.p. 43)

John Nkadimeng, JB Marks, Yusuf Dadoo, Moses Kotane, Govan Mbeki and many others were leading the defiance campaign, national general strikes, anti-pass campaigns, anti-Bantu education struggles, pickets, stay-aways and stay-at-homes that characterised the entire roaring 50's.

The re-emergence of the party, renamed SACP in 1953, was very significant in a number of ways. It meant firstly, that the communist Party would do work under the very nose of the regime, without it knowing or even noticing. It meant, secondly that South African revolutionaries would learn the art of secret work in the conduct of a mass national democratic struggle. Which secret work was to prove very critical for the conduct of armed struggle with the launch of Umkhonto we sizwe in 1961. It meant, thirdly, that an underground Head office was available, responsible for the escalation of the freedom struggle and useful for ANC's covert work on its banning in 1960. It meant, fourthly that Marxists world-over must always creatively develop a proper balance between the materialist and the dialectical angles of Marxist-Leninist philosophy, in their own concrete conditions. Over-emphasis of the one at the expense of the other naturally leads to political bloomers!

The role of the communist party in the south african revolution

To answer to the issue above, we ask ourselves a number of critical questions, -- why was the Communist Party the first political party to banned and for ten years the only banned political organisation in the country? Why were communist activists persecuted with fascist vengeance and brutality by the regime? Why were ideas of communism so feared that they were the first and the only ideas banned and their hosts tortured with bloodthirsty mercilessness?

The contribution and role of the party to the South African revolution is so immense and immeasurable that it cannot be done justice in a few paragraphs, but needs a whole mountainside!

It is because the mere emergence of a communist party, the existence of communist activists and the strength of communist ideas in any revolution are very critical to the quality of the conduct and ultimate victory of that revolution. The existence of a communist party in any revolution adds value to the depth of that revolution. As the SACP would itself say in its 1980 internal discussion document, titled, "The role of the party in the national liberation movement",:- that, " It is clear that one of the most important tasks of the relationship between the national struggles and the struggle for socialism, generally is to educate the workers and other strata in the ideas of Marxism-Leninism to attract the advanced elements to the ranks of the party. But is this all?

"Surely not! The party would never have achieved its position as an advanced political fighting force if its history had been merely one of educating people about some future millennium and, in the meanwhile dragging in the tail of the mass movement. We have always exercised both our duty and our right as a party to engage in agitation, mobilisation and organisation especially of the working class around the day to day issues which confront them. If we cease to do this we cease to be a party in the real meaning of the term."

The contribution of the Communist Party to the South African revolution is so immense that it is incalculable. The Communist Party was the first non-racial political party in the country and for 40 years the only non-racial political force on the ground. It was the first communist party on the African continent and the only for many many decades. It was the first political organisation to introduce and develop the science of Marxism-Leninism in South African conditions. It was the first to articulate the concept and reality of South Africa as a Colonialism of a special Type, in which both the coloniser and the colonised share same boundaries. (Road to SA Freedom).

It is the first political organisation and almost alone, to pioneer progressive trade unionism. Early embryonic trade unions were formed and led by leading members of the CPSA. It was the communist party of South Africa that first raised the slogan of majority rule, of one person one vote, many years before this was in vogue. It was the Communist Party that led the better articulation of the liberation war as not just a freedom struggle but a national democratic revolution (NDR). The NDR which essentially bourgeoisie and not immediately socialist, but which must lay a foundation, depending on coincidence in the maturation of both the objective and subjective elements necessary for such a transition, must move to socialism. That the NDR route is taken as a bus -stop for the ultimate and uninterrupted advance to socialism.

It was the communist party that paid attention and made contribution to the evolution of the ANC from an elitist organisation, in its early, formative years, to a fighting nationalist revolutionary movement of the people of South Africa. In a statement in the House Assembly, on 20 June 1950, on the day of the passing of the Suppression of Communism Bill into law, the CPSA MP Sam Kahn, stated, "communism and socialism have stood the test of time. For more than 100 years, in one country after another, the enemies of the people have ruthlessly, inhumanly, sought to crush the movement for social justice and economic liberation, for the end of the class war, for peace and socialism."

Throughout the history of the country and even on occasion inside the national liberation movement, there have been attempts to use anti-communism by some reactionary elements. On occasion these elements clothe themselves as Africanist or pushing an African nationalist agenda. Because the ANC espouses progressive revolutionary ideas, including progressive internationalism, anti-communism, no matter how mild, must never be allowed to rear its ugly head or even to take root in the movement and the country.

Anti-communism is an element of fascism as could be seen with NAZI Germany, Mussolini's Italy and Apartheid South Africa, their first enemy on coming to power was to ban communism, disallow the communist party and to obliterate communists. Such ideas, attitudes or views should have no room in proud and glorious movement as the ANC. Whatever form it takes, it must be understood that there is nothing Africanist or nationalist in anti-communism, it is pure reactionary, backward and anti-revolutionary. Some elements even use Marxist-Leninist rhetoric to try to demobilise and liquidate the South African Communist Party.

An ANC NEC statement of 1975 on the Expulsion of a Conspiratorial Clique, elucidated, "Let it be made abundantly clear that the policies of racialism and anti-communism have been and still are diametrically opposed to the traditions and practices of the African National Congress." In 2009 the SACP added, " it is however important to bear in mind that it is not the ANC that is anti-communist, but it has been different groupings and factions at different times both inside and outside the ANC that have sought to steer, with spectacular failures, the ANC towards an anti-communist stance."(SACP.2009.CC Report to SNC)

We should continuously celebrate, commemorate and study the contribution of communists and the Communist Party to the South Africa Revolution. This is our heritage and backbone.


Remembering 50 years of the banning of the SACP and commemorating 90 years of the existence of the SACP should teach a lot of lessons about the past which should be used to build a future socialist South Africa. That history teaches that while socialism is the future, the struggle to build it happens now in the present, in the midst of deepening, defending and consolidating the National Democratic Revolution. That the NDR should be conducted in such a way that, it lays a firm foundation for a future, direct and uninterrupted movement, of the entire of society to socialism.

That this can be can be no nobler a cause than to serve the poor, the working - class, the down-trodden, the have-nots, than building the consciousness of the working-class, strengthening their organisational capacity, deepening working- class hegemony and building of a foundation of a successful national democratic revolution to a more egalitarian society. This is a sure route to reach a socialist South Africa. In its many years of existence the party has survived sectarianism, factionalism, anti-communism, banning, underground, exile, collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc and the end of the cold-war-two-bloc World system. It should be able to survive neo-liberalism, neo-anti-communism and neo-sectarianism. That is the heritage and history of the SACP.

For a successful democratic revolution and a future socialist South Africa, the SACP, should amongst others: strengthen the Tripartite Alliance and defend its unity; advance, defend, deepen and consolidate the national democratic revolution; defeat neo-liberalism; right right-wing opportunism and anti-communism; evade ultra-leftism; build capacity for, momentum for and elements of socialism today; build the political awareness, the class consciousness and the organisational capacity of the working-class; build a strong, united and disciplined SACP, rooted in the struggles of the workers and the poor; build a developmental state, intensify the struggle against corruption and patronage, and enhance working-class hegemony in the state and the economy; and fight an anti-imperialist, internationalist struggle that also deals with issues of climate change and the destruction of our bio-sphere. These are the sure tasks of a communist party in the 21st Century.


  1. Lerumo A. 1970 Fifty-fighting Years.

  2. Inkululeko publication. SA Communists Speak 1915-1980.

  3. Dialego. 1971. Philosophy and class struggle. Inkululeko Publications.

  4. SACP. 1990. The Red Flag in South Africa- History of SACP.

  5. ANC - Umzabalazo Pictoral history of ANC

  6. SACP -1980. The role of the Party in the National Liberation Movement.

  7. SACP - 1962. The road to South African freedom.

  8. Comintern. 1921. Resolution on revolutions in the South African Question.

  9. ANC- 1975. NEC Statement on the Expulsion of a Conspiratorial Clique.

  10. SACP- 2009. Central Committee Report to the Special National Congress.


Western Sahara: The last colony in Africa.

Part 3.


Africa cannot claim to be free until all her children achieved their self-determination, freedom, independence and social progress.

The United Nations Organisation, its Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are some of the outstanding products of the victory of the peoples of the world over Nazism. They constitute the conscious resolve of humanity to ensure that both national and international affairs are governed by a common code of behaviour based on freedom, equality, social progress and peaceful coexistence among the peoples. This victory also guaranteed countries to develop and practice economic and social system of their choice.

Brief history of Western Sahara.

In the pre-colonial times, the Saharawi people lived as one independent community and developed their own cultural forms of expression and socio-political organisations. It was these idiosyncratic elements that constituted the distinctiveness of this society over centuries.

In the late fifteen hundreds, the Saharawi people experience for the first time attempts to subjugate them by Morocco, these attempts were repulsed by the determined people of the Western Sahara.

Until 1881 the Western Sahara was a free country. In 1881, the Spanish manipulated the Saharawi leadership and established three outposts in the region. At this time, it was a common practice by the European powers to scramble for the pieces of African land and claiming it as theirs. Western Sahara was no exception.

In 1884, the Spanish formally announced that this area is its protectorate. In 1904 Spain signed a treaty with other European powers of the time thus establishing the present day frontiers of Western Sahara.

From 1973, the pressure emanating both at Spanish domestic level combined with international pressure forced Spain to relinquish its hold on colonies especially Western Sahara. However, instead of handing over to Saharawi people, the Spanish convened what is called Madrid tripartite meeting between Spain, Morocco and Mauritania. They signed what is called a Tripartite accord. In essence this treaty handed over the administration of the country to the other two signatories.

What happened since 1975?

The handing over of Western Sahara to Morocco and Mauritania by Spain was condemned by the United Nations {UN} General Assembly and the Organisation For African Unity {OAU}.

The Member states of the United Nation have individually and collectively declared, in one voice, their condemnation of the policy of occupation. It is common cause that there has been no change in spite of this unprecedented unanimity of the world on this one issue.

It is common cause also that in spite of this persistent attack on their policy, the Moroccan dynasty have gone ahead heaping misery upon misery on those whom they hold in subjugation, this also in defiance of world opinion and despite the efforts of the people directly affected by their policy.

The policy of occupation is by its own definition aimed at destroying the people by denying their national identity, and weakening its character and its people by deliberate regressive fragmentation.

The United Nations.

The continuous occupation of Western Sahara is in contradiction of numerous Resolutions passed by the United Nations Organisation and opinions expressed by the International Court of Justice {ICJ}. The historic ruling of the {ICJ}, ISSUED ON 16 October 1975, affirmed unequivocally that:

"The materials and information presented to it {the Court} do not establish any tie of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco or the Mauritanian entity. Thus the court has not found legal ties of such a nature as might affect the application of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) in the decolonization of Western Sahara and, in particular, of the principle of self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the people of the territory".

Consistent with this judgement the United Nations has further passed resolutions that affirmed this opinion. Amongst those resolutions are the following:

  1. Resolution 2625 (XXV), which stipulates that "no territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal"

  2. Resolutions 34/37 of 21 November 1979 and 35/19 of 11 November 1980, the General Assembly deeply deplored the aggravation of the situation resulting from " the continued occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco".

All these efforts fell on deaf ears. The war persisted for another sixteen years before a cease fire could be reached.

The cease fire settlement was initiated by the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity and ratified by the Security Council in its resolutions 658 (1990) and 690 (1991).

Amongst others the plan entails the following that; there will be free and fair referendum on self-determination, without any administrative or military constraints, in which "the Saharawi people would choose between independence and integration into Morocco" (Para 4 & 6 of the peace plan, S/21360).

The cease fire entered into force on 6 September 1991. However, the referendum has not been held yet. This is due to the delaying tactics and obstructions made by Morocco. Right from day one, the government of Morocco used all the means at their disposal to undermine the peace process.

Over the last few years, the Moroccan government has become more brutal and applying the same tactics that were used by the apartheid government such as detention without trails. In anyway, for us, it is not supprising, they were allies.

They are using a combination of repressive laws, police violence, and unfair trials to punish Saharawis who advocate peacefully for the independence for their father land.

In October of 2009, a group of well-known Saharan activists who had visited the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria, were arrested on their return and later charged with high treason by a military tribunal.

These activists are, Ahmed Alnasiri, Brahim Dahane, Yahdih Ettarouzi, Saleh Labihi, dakja Lashgar, Rachid Sghir, and Ali SalemTamek. These prisoners represent, the highest in morality and ethics in the Western Sahara political struggle. Their beliefs and actions are in accordance with the deepest international principles of brotherhood and humanity; without their leadership, brotherhood and humanity may be blasted out of existence and reason; when they are locked away, justice and reason will have departed from the human scene.

Brotherhood, humanity, justice and reason have indeed departed from Moroccan government. The pursuit of these ideals has been made a crime and those who seek justice search in vain. These activist as the true representatives of the aspirations of their people, should be engaged in helping to create a new world order, rather than be in Prisons.

Worldwide Campaign to free these prisoners.

All activist imprisoned for campaigning for the freedom of the people of Saharawi must be free without conditions. The international community has a specific responsibility, for, they have been victimised for upholding the very principles, aspirations and rights embodied in the United Nations Charter and the Declaration of Human Rights. Not only have Moroccan government no authority to imprison and restrict these people but by so doing the Moroccan regime manifests its contempt for the international community and its ideals.

In a letter sent to the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, signed by the Secretary Generals of the African National Congress {ANC}, General Secretaries of the South African Communist Party {SACP}, Congress of South African Trade Unions {COSATU}, Friends of Western Sahara. South African Chapter and Western Sahara Solidarity Forum therefore, calls on the Secretary General of the United Nations "…to assume responsibility on the protection of the Human rights of the Saharawi civilians in the occupied Territories of Western Sahara. We view this as a necessary step to put an end to this shameful chapter in our history.

"We also call for the unconditional release of all Saharawi political prisoners and detainees, many of them are currently on hunger strike languishing in Moroccan Jails".

The African National Congress calls upon member state of the United Nations to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.

We are all part and parcel of this struggle for democracy and peace in Western Sahara. The African National Congress reaffirms the resolve of the people of South Africa to support the struggle of the people of Western Sahara to liberate their country.

The ANC calls on the African Union, the African masses, and the progressive and peace-loving peoples of the world to demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Moroccan troops and neo-colonialist interventionists in Western Sahara.

We further appeal for all political and material support for the struggling Saharawi people led by the Frente POLISARIO, in their heroic struggle against foreign aggression.

Polisario Front our ally.

Our alliance with the Polisario Front has grown out of our common struggles against colonialism and aparthied. We have built it out of our separate and common experiences. It has been nurtured by our endeavours to counter the onslaught meted out by the unholy alliance of Aparthied South Africa and Morocco. An unholy alliance that was determined to oppress and exploit the masses of our people in South Africa and in Western Sahara.

It has been reinforced by a common determination to create a humane world order and by our shared belief in the certainty of victory.

The ties and fraternal relationship that, the ANC Youth League has with Ujusario, the youth wing of Polisario must be strengthen. The Youth League must continue to mobilise support for the cause of Saharawi people. Its fraternal programmes with UJUSARIO over the years must continue.

We, members of the African National Congress informed by our own experience of colonialism and apartheid, and the importance of international solidarity and collective action, we will continue, in the words of the late President of the ANC, OR Tambo " we, the ANC, will continue to support your struggle by all means necessary, in order for…your cause to triumph'.

Indeed, in many respects, the current conduct of the Moroccan government is evocative of the situations in previous eras of dominant empires and colonialism when brute force was the currency of geo-political intercourse.

A Luta Continua!
A Vitoria E Certa!
Amandla Ngawethu!

Nathi Mthethwa is a member of the National Executive Committee and Minister of Police.


Writing women

In honour of Women's Month, we introduce a range of books on South African women, from autobiography to books about women's struggles and their lives. This is not by all means a complete list, and we invite Umrabulo readers to add to this rich list. These are just some of my personal favourites:

Schreiner, Olive. (1911, 1975). Woman and labour. International year of the Woman, commemorative edition. Marshalltown: Cosmos Publications.

Olive Schreiner, was born in 1855 in the Cape Colony, and went on to become amongst the greatest pioneers of the women's movement in the twentieth century. She wrote Woman and Labour when she was 56 years old, and though widely acclaimed, it went largely unnoticed in her native South Africa, in fact her book was not just ignored, but "deliberately suppressed by the male-orientated South African press." Van der Spuy further wrote in the introduction to the 1975 edition of Woman and Labour that in exposing the fantasy of women as the weaker sex, Schreiner "saw beyond the limitations of either purely matriarchal or patriarchal controls in society - her vision embrace a future where women and men would together fearlessly share life, parenthood and work."

Mashinini, Emma (1989). Strikes have followed me all my life. A South African autobiography. London: The Women's Press.

South Africa has a long line-up of women trade union leaders, Lillian Ngoyi, Sissy Gool, Liz Abrahamse, Lydia Kompe, Ray Alexander, Liza Makalela and Emma Mashinini to name but a few. This autobiography of Mashinini, who was Secretary of the Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (CCAWUSA, later becoming SACCAWU). In Strikes have followed me all my life, Ma Emma relates the story of her life under apartheid, as a mother, wife and worker, and eventually her life as a unionist. She also speaks eloquently of her participation in stokvels: "neighbourhood collectives of women who come together to pool financial resources and provide each other with emotional and political support." Her autobiography is not only a telling testimony of women's and working life under apartheid, but also of the trade union movement of the time.

Walker, Cheryl. (1982,1991). Women and resistance in South Africa. First edition London: Onyx Press and Second Edition Claremont: David Phillip Publishers.

This is one of the South African classics, and was for many years after its first publication in 1982 unavailable in South Africa. At the time of researching the first edition, writes Walker in her Preface to the Second Edition, the word gender "had not yet entered the lexicon of even the most progressive of South African academics, let alone politicians and activists." Walker in Women and Resistance traces the history of women's struggles from the position of women under capitalism in South Africa, tracing the evolution of the intersection between race, class and gender and the responses of women to what became known as triple oppression. This resistance is the main focus of the book, divided into three parts, the first tracing political organization among women since the formation of the union in 1910 to the beginning of the Second World War in 1939; a second part dealing with political organization amongst women between 1939 and 1953, and the final part explores the history of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) from 1954 to 1963, when the bannings, repression and trials made any form of mass legal organization of any kind virtually impossible. This book remains a critical contribution not only to the history of the women's movement in South Africa, but to our history in its entirety.

SACHED. (1985). Working women. A portrait of South Africa's black women workers. Braamfontein: Sached Trust/Ravan Press.

"Working women tells of the struggles of South Africa's black women workers. Through interviews and photographs women describe their lives at work and at home. Strong voices speak out against women's oppression. The books shows women challenging the government, the bosses, and their own husbands.

Cock, Jacklyn (1991). Colonels and Cadres. War and gender in South Africa. Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa.

The women's movement and women activists were a critical pillar of the global peace movement during the twentieth, often arising from their concerns around democracy, equality and social justice, but also in the context of the ravages of war and the threat of a nuclear war, about protecting future generations. Jacklyn Cock's book on South Africa and war during the 1980's is an important contribution to understanding this phenomenon. In her Introduction to Colonels and Cadres Cock writes that "South Africa during the eighties was a society at war, and …individual experiences of this war was shaped by gender relations. Of course people's experiences were also coloured by a variety of other social factors such as ideology, race, class and ethnic identity. But gender is a crucial and neglected dimension." The book thus documents the experience and understandings of "very different South Africans, ranging from colonels in the SADF to cadres in Umkhonto we Sizwe." Colonels and Cadres does this by situating war in the context of the politics of gender in South Africa, how men and women have different access to power and resources, the meanings of masculinity and femininity, and "how different gender identities - the notion of men as ‘the protectors' and women as ‘the protected' - were mobilized for war." Subsequent chapters of the book deals with these identities in the context of war and conflict: the protectors, protected, the resisters, the feminists and the militarists, and finally also the victims.

This book continues to make an important contribution towards our understanding of security issues today, as our new non-racial and non-sexist South African National Defense Force is deployed in peace missions in the African continent and as more and more women join the SANDF, not only in administrative positions, but in active duty. Many of the identity questions and power relations remain ever-present and looking at these issues through the lens of the civil war of the 1980's, give insights into many of the challenges our national defense force faces today.

Ackerman, Draper and Mashinini. (Eds). (1991). Women hold up half the sky. Women in the church in Southern Africa. Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications.

Women make up the majority of congregation members of at least Christian churches in South Africa, yet the church leadership remains predominantly male. Way ahead of its time, this volume commissioned by the then Pietermaritzburg Cluster of Theological Institutions includes a range of themes on women in the church and women and the church. The articles include reflections on women's their role in the evolution of the church and also deals with such thorny matters as the ‘silenced' voice of women in the Bible, ministry in a non-sexist Church, the struggle for women priests and the emergence of a black feminist theology in South Africa by amongst others Sister Bernard Ncube. On a lighter side, Walker, Wittenberg and Macdonald present a cartoon strip on ‘A short history of women in the church," and the emergence of a patriarchal interpretation of biblical history.

Fébé Potgieter-Gqubule