Volume 6 No.2
1 June 1995
- This Month…
- Spotlight on Abortion
- Tragic Lessons of the Algerian Revolution
- How a Bill Becomes Law
- Meetings, Meetings and Mass Empowerment
- ANC Strengthens Commitment to Transparency
- Talking to Vula – The Secret Underground Communications Network of Operation Vula
- Community Voices Struggle to be Heard
- Media Watch
- Book Review
- Provincial Briefs
- Ebola – World Killer Just Not News
- IFP Returns To Bantustan Politics
- Local Elections – Registration Figures Could Be Better
- ‘Miners are Dying Every Day’
- The Quest For Common Ground
- Obituary: Yusuf Cachalia
- What To Do With The ‘Family Silver’
- Development Plans in 1995
- In Training For The Next World Cup
- Trees for Africa Honoured
- Youth: Something New to Celebrate
The More Things Change….
It is said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Whoever coined that phrase must have had some insight into the Inkatha Freedom Party and its antics.
Recent activities of the party and the utterances of its leaders, including their 20 point plan for effective seccession, indicate a hankering after the ‘good old’ days of bantustan tyranny.
After one year in the new South Africa, the IFP seem to have decided that the new South African ‘experiment’ in democracy won’t work for them. So they have drawn up plans to re-establish the old KwaZulu bantustan. And to give it some semblance of legitimacy, they thought they’d call it a ‘kingdom’. Unfortunately, the king isn’t really interested in the kind of kingdom they aim to establish.
While their plan borders on the comical, its implications for the people of the region are extremely serious – and very real. The IFP plan would cripple the social and economic reconstruction of the province, and would undoubtedly affect the recovery of the rest of the country. South Africa would benefit nothing from a splintered economy, with each province determining trade and commerce policy, tax structures, tarrifs and economic policy broadly. Our capacity to compete effectively with the rest of the world would be severely undermined.
Decentralised control over economic policy, government spending and revenue would prevent any attempts to provide for a more equitable distribution of resources between the richer and poorer areas of the country. Provinces like KwaZulu/Natal – among the poorest and least developed – would never be able to pull themselves out of poverty and underdevelopment.
Instead of being mechanisms through which ordinary citizens can be empowered and brought closer to government, provinces will become the basis for little ‘kingdoms’ competing with each other over resources and power – at best, having ongoing constitutional squabbles with each other, as in Canada; at worst, degenerating into warfare of the kind which is currently tearing apart the former Yugoslavia.
The proposals outlined in their 20 point plan have all the hallmarks of the old bantustan-based Inkatha. They wish to exercise control over security, education, traditional leaders and the civil service. Their ability to use these institution to entrench themselves and to weed out, often ruthlessly, any opposition, should serve as a warning to all South Africans.
There is no rational basis for the system of government which the IFP is proposing. Their only motivation is that it will strengthen the position of their party and further the ambitions of their leaders. Their gains, however, will be at a terrible cost to the people of KwaZulu/Natal and South Africa.
Roll Mass Action, Roll
The recent Cosatu decision to stage a campaign of rolling mass action to prevent business from stalling agreement on the LRA bill had many a newspaper editor reaching into their filing cabinets for some of their well-worn union bashing editorials.
Perhaps they have a point. How constructive, after all, is mass action at a time when South Africa is trying to encourage economic growth? Yet before we climb on the bandwagon condemning Cosatu as being irresponsible, perhaps we should consider the long view. Perhaps we should consider what the effect would be of accepting wholesale the proposal by business on the LRA bill. Workers certainly would’nt be better off. Their key demands and grievances would remain unaddressed. And even some of the rights they’ve now managed to secure will be eroded. The business proposals are an assault on workers and on trade unions.
If anything, these proposals will lock business and labour into a cycle of acrimonious and perpetual conflict. The implementation of the proposals will do more harm over several years to South Africa’s economy, than Cosatu’s weeks of mass action ever could.
It is because of the critical importance of the new Labour Relations Act to the future development of South Africa that the mass action needs to succeed in securing an empowering and sustainable LRA.
A Look at Events That Made the News in May
Mine Disaster Kills 104
The worst mine accident in almost a decade killed 104 miners at the Vaal Reefs Mine in Orkney on 10 May. The disaster occurred when a runaway locomotive and a fully-laden mine lift plunged down the number two shaft of the gold mine, crushing the workers. A national day of mourning was declared and a number of memorial services and rallies were held throughout the country. The government announced the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the accident.
May Day Violence
The success of May Day celebrations throughout the country were marred by an incident at Umlazi stadium where President Nelson Mandela had to be escorted to safety after alleged Inkatha supporters opened fire on ANC supporters about to enter the stadium. Mandela had finished speaking when the shots were fired. He said in his speech that the government could not tolerate taxpayers’ money being used to finance the IFP’s party political agenda. He criticised the IFP for calling on supporters to ‘resist’ the ANC and national government.
Police reported that six people were injured and one person kidnapped during the incident. There were sporadic shootings in the area throughout the day.
About 700 children were released from prisons and police cells on Monday 8 May when an amendment to Section 29 of the Correctional Services Act came into effect. All unsentenced minors under the age of eighteen were released into the custody of their parents, guardian or other suitable people. The amendments to the Correctional Services Act were approved by parliament last year following President Mandela’s condemnation of the practice of keeping young children in prison.
IFP Members Invade Legislature
About 200 armed Inkatha self-protection members invaded the KwaZulu/Natal legislative assembly building on 11 May, forcing ANC security officials to escort MEC for health Zweli Mkhize and other ANC MPLs from the building. After the invasion the ANC, NP and DP agreed that Ulundi should not be allowed to be the provincial capital of KwaZulu/Natal as it was unsafe for opposition parties.
Truth and Reconciliation Bill passed
The Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Bill was passed by parliament on 17 May. Commenting on the bill, water and forestry affairs minister Kader Asmal said: “this bill represents a bold, realistic way of dealing with a terrible past – a past that would, otherwise, haunt us. It is our best chance to escape the hell of our past.” The Bill will now be passed to the senate for concurrence before being enacted by President Mandela. The truth commission should be operating by August this year.
Traditional Leaders Support Central Payment
Most of South Africa’s traditional leaders expressed unanimous support for government plans to have traditional leaders’ salaries payed by the national government rather than by provincial government. This was announced by minister of provincial affairs and constitutional development Roelf Meyer after a meeting between President Mandela and traditional leaders at the presidential guest house in Pretoria on 22 May. The government plan would standardise the salaries of traditional leaders and would remove the threat to traditional leaders of party political manipulation.
World Cup Rugby
South Africa beat Australia 27-18 in the opening match of the 1995 World Cup Rugby competition currently being held in South Africa. The South African captain Francois Pienaar said that the visit to the team by President Mandela had been a large motivating factor in the South African victory. The final of the world cup is to played at Ellis Park, Johannesburg on 24 June.
Differences over LRA Bill
Cosatu announced a programme of rolling mass action for June after business and labour failed to find common ground on the proposed Labour Relations Bill in Nedlac’s labour market chamber. In a statement released on 28 May, Cosatu’s executive committee said the positions tabled by business were not a serious basis for negotiation, but were calculated to prevent agreement on a new Labour Relations Act in 1995.
The first phase of the mass action would last from 5 to 19 June and would include workplace meetings and demonstrations, mass marches and demonstrations throughout the country, culminating on 19 June with a national day of protest.
In an attempt to resolve the dispute labour minister Tito Mboweni summoned representatives of organised labour and business to a meeting on 31 May to discuss conflict in negotiations. Mboweni said it had become clear that differences of opinion around centralised bargaining, the duty to bargain, industrial action, use of scab labour and workplace forums existed. The purpose of the meeting was to explore “possible mechanisms for reaching an understanding on the areas identified as well as other issues”.
Submissions on Land Policy Invited
The Department of Land Affairs last month published a Land Policy Framework document which promised sweeping reforms for the poor and dispossessed. The department invited comment from the public as part of a process which would culminate in a public workshop in September to debate a land reform white paper. The white paper was expected to be released for comment by the end of October.
The policy framework document covered crucial land reform issues like redressing past injustices through land restitution, mechanisms for enabling poor people to have access to land, and providing secure tenure for all land occupants.
Land affairs minister Derek Hanekom said: “The land debate is critical because of the vast land hunger in South Africa – some 3.5 million South Africans were forcibly removed from land and millions more were denied access to land because of racial laws.”
He said the central goal of land policy was to create a just land dispensation. This would result in equitable distribution of land, secure tenure and sustainable land use, he said. The deadline for comment on the policy framework was 25 June.
You may submit your comments on this document to [email protected]
With public hearings on abortion legislation now being held, attention is once again being turned to a subject that is likely to be the source of heated debate. Duncan Harford reports.
Parliament’s Ad hoc Committee on Abortion and Sterilization held its first public hearings early in May to gauge the various opinion in society on whether changes needed to be made to the current laws on abortion and sterilisation.
The committee will consider and make recommendations on the grounds for abortion; the accessibility of legal abortion for all South African women; the prevalence, incidence and cost of illegal abortions; and the procedure to obtain a legal abortion.
Among the first submissions to the committee was that of the Abortion Rights Action Group (ARAG), which prepared its presentation in consultation with other non-governmental organisations, university faculties and individuals working in the area of women’s health and rights.
In their presentation ARAG argued that the current legislation was so flawed it could not be amended. The draft legislation they proposed would bring and end to the tens of thousands of dangerous and illegal back-street abortions. They said abortion should be legalised for women who were less than 14 weeks pregnant, and on medical grounds to women who were between 14 and 24 weeks pregnant. Education on contraception, abortion and related issues should go hand-in-hand with the legalisation.
After the hearings finish in May , the ad hoc committee will draw up a report and drafting of the legislation will begin, to be presented to parliament in July with voting on it due for September.
The committee has been established at a time when the ANC was coming under increasing criticism over perceptions that it was dragging its feet on abortion, one of the issues it promised during last year’s elections to address.
The ANC’s Bill of Rights published in March 1993 said of abortion: “We feel that the matter should be left open for legislative action after democratic discussion in future. The issue needs sensitive and informed debate with extensive participation by all interested parties and a respect for differing views. Uninformed debate could be extremely divisive and distract attention from the basic question of equal political rights. The constitution should not in any way pre-empt proper debate. We regard the issue as of great importance and would recommend that it receive high priority as soon as democratic institutions are in place.”
This view is echoed in the ANC’s constitutional policy document, Building a United Nation, which contains the resolutions of the Constitutional Policy Conference held in May. The document says: “the Bill of rights shall protect the right to life and the dignity of all. Such a right shall not preclude the legislature from providing for and regulating the right to abortion by legislation.”
At the heart of the pro-choice argument is the fundamental right women have to make decisions about their own lives and bodies. It is often argued that South Africa already has abortion on demand for those who have enough money and have contacts with a sympathetic gynaecologist. According to statistics in the United Kingdom, 800 South African women had abortions in England and Wales in 1984.
Even if the proposed new legislation were to be passed into law, most women wanting an abortion would still be unable to afford one. Unless legislation addresses these economic imperatives there is not likely to be any real change in the large number of back-street abortions currently being performed. Therefore the Department of Health will have to develop a scheme make abortions both available and affordable to women. If this is not done the proposed new legislation will not achieve what it seeks to.
The bloody conflict in Algeria is an example of how an heroic revolution can become mired in elitism and corruption, writes Jeremy Cronin.
Two or three times a week small articles appear in the local newspapers: “Algeria. Journalist killed by Muslim extremists”; “Algiers – Five women raped and killed by Islamic terrorists”; “Algerian army announces ten terrorists killed”. It is hard to understand from these reports what is happening. Yet, the Algerian situation is one which all South Africans should try to understand.
After an heroic liberation struggle against French colonial occupation, the Algerian people achieved independence in 1962. Victory was won under the leadership of the FLN (the National Liberation Front).
The victory of the Algerian political and military struggle had an important and inspiring impact on SA. The ANC had just launched its own armed struggle. President Mandela, in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, has a moving account of his meetings in Morocco and across the border in Algeria itself with FLN leaders and soldiers shortly before the FLN victory. After Algerian independence, ANC leaders and cadres were warmly received in Algeria, and there was assistance with training.
Sadly, FLN rule became increasingly bureaucratic and elite. Over the years, the FLN lost its popular support base. What had once been a genuine movement became a narrow technocracy, riven with competing cliques and factions. Corruption and the pillaging of the national economy grew.
There was a worsening social and economic situation, while the population more than doubled from 11.7 million in 1962 to 25 million at present. Seventy percent of the population is now under 30 years, and one in every two young people is unemployed.
In 1988 “hunger riots” broke out. This popular outburst lifted the veil on a growing grassroots resentment at 28 years of stifling FLN rule. The major participants in the mass demonstrations were alienated youth. The regime responded brutally to this outburst of disaffection, killing 159 protesters.
Not all of Algeria’s problems are domestic. Algeria is fortunate to have significant oil and gas deposits. But 98 percent of Algeria’s foreign earnings come from oil and gas. This leaves it very vulnerable to the manipulation of energy markets by the major powers. In 1991 the Algerian government drew up its budget on the modest assumption of an oil price at $21 a barrel. The major US companies kept the price down to $19, with devastating effects on the Algerian economy. Ordinary Algerians had to bear the brunt of the shortfall.
Algeria’s international debt has grown to $3.5 billion, and debt repayments now absorb 75 percent of the government’s income. This has opened it up to growing manipulation by the IMF and World Bank. Third World governments with popular support can hope to negotiate with at least some power with the international financial institutions. Where popular support has eroded, there is little possibility for manoeuvre. Swallowing the structural adjustment medicine is all that remains.
This in turn creates a vicious circle. Structural adjustment hits popular classes the hardest, their disenchantment with their government grows, and the government’s less able to resist the next round of foreign imposed cost-cutting “adjustments”.
In the face of all of these difficulties, some leading FLN personalities began to flirt with an Islamic populism, hoping to draw attention away from the crisis and their responsibility for it. But they were playing with fire.
In the first round of parliamentary elections late in 1991 the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) won 48 percent of the vote, twice the percentage won by the FLN. To pre-empt a certain landslide victory for FIS in the second round, the Algerian army stepped in and displaced the constitutional regime of Chadli Benjedid.
Rather than stabilising the situation, the coup has plunged Algeria into two and a half years of terrible blood-letting. By the beginning of 1995, between 20,000 and 30,000 people had been killed in the space of 24 months.
The FIS is, in many respects, not greatly different from the FLN. Its leadership is drawn largely from the same technocratic and professional circles. FIS is also factionalised into ‘maximalists’ or ‘Afghans’, some of whom fought in Afghanistan, and ‘oumistes’, financed by the reactionary Saudi oil sheiks.
Although FIS was on the brink of an electoral victory, the poll turnout in December 1991 was extremely low. This reflects a general political apathy on the part of the broad population. Sympathy for FIS is, perhaps, more a negative vote against the FLN than a strong identification with the FIS’s extremely vague programme. The Islamic Salvation Front has been careful, for instance, never to condemn the IMF liberalisation programme of the FLN, now also pursued by the army.
If factions in the FLN were outflanked by FIS in terms of populism, FIS itself has now also been outbid by the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). Sometimes operating with FIS armed groups, GIA has practised a particularly horrific brand of terrorism. In March 1994 a joint FIS/GIA communique warned that any woman on the streets without a veil could be assassinated. A few days later two women students were killed by gunmen on motorcycles while waiting at a bus stop.
In May last year, travel by train was “forbidden” by GIA because men and women shared compartments; shortly afterwards, the night train between Bejaia and Algiers was attacked and torched. At the beginning of the 1994 school year, GIA threatened death to the 7 million primary and high school students and their 320,000 teachers unless the norms of ‘Islamic’ education were followed. These ‘norms’ included the separation of boys and girls, the veiling of women teachers and girl students and the elimination of gymnastics.
The army has been no less vicious. It has used napalm and widespread detentions. Thousands of lower-class young men, almost all of whom could fit the profile of an ‘Islamist terrorist’, have suffered brutal and humiliating treatment at the hands of the security forces. Torture is routine, and many suspects are summarily executed. Death squads carry out revenge killings against victims selected at random.
This is a bloody civil war in which warring elites have lost the support of the broad mass of the people. As one Algerian puts it: “this civil war only engages civilians as victims, it is a war between armed groups of a state and an Islamist opposition, both of them fragmented.”
In the Algerian tragedy there are sobering lessons for any national liberation movement. An heroic revolution can, in the short space of twenty years, become mired in elitism, bureaucratism and corruption. The legitimate needs and aspirations of the broad population can become sidelined. Politics can become the domain of competing elites whose appeals to a sullen people are largely populist and purely self-serving. None of this had to happen in Algeria. None of this need happen elsewhere.
Jeremy Cronin is a member of the ANC National Executive Committee and an occasional contributor to MAYIBUYE.
In first of our series on government processes, Khensani Makhubela explains how laws are made in the national parliament.
The authority to make laws vests in Parliament and the nine provincial legislatures. Parliament makes laws of general application to the entire country, while provincial legislatures make laws only for their province and about issues which the constitution allows them to.
Parliament consists of two houses: the National Assembly and Senate. The senate represents provincial interests at a national level. This month we look at the formulation of national laws.
A bill is a proposed law. Bills become law only after they have been passed by the legislature and assented to and signed by the president.
A bill is drafted by state law advisors. Before it goes to parliament the proposal is also considered by the cabinet.
Bills may be introduced in the house in one of two ways. The relevant minister – referred to as the “member in charge” – may introduce the bill. The bill may also be introduced by a member who is not a minister. It is then called a “private member bill”.
For a bill to be introduced it must be published in the Government Gazette, unless a Bill is certified by that member, in consultation with the speaker, as being urgent. The bill must be accompanied by:
- a memorandum with the names of all the people and institutions that were consulted in drafting the bill;
- a notice inviting interested people and institutions to submit representations on the bill to the Portfolio Committee concerned before a particular date. A portfolio committee is a committee which relates to a particular government department or cabinet portfolio, and is comprised of a number of members of parliament.
The speaker refers the bill to the portfolio committee under which the bill falls. The bill is delivered to every member, and in this way is ‘read’ for the first time.
Interested people then have three weeks within which to make submissions to the portfolio committee. If the bill has not been published in the Gazette, the portfolio committee may direct that the bill be published.
The portfolio committee considers the principle and details of the bill and may amend it. It then presents a report to the house explaining all the amendments made and amendments rejected, specifying instances where there was no consensus. In addition to a report on the majority view, it indicates minority views.
The committee report and the amended bill are then tabled in the house for a second reading debate, which is confined to the principles and objects of the bill. It doesn’t deal with its details.
Before the second reading any member may place amendments to the bill on the order paper, or parliamentary agenda. These amendments must not affect the principle of the bill, and must not already have been rejected in the committee which considered the bill.
If such amendments are placed on the order paper, the bill is sent back to the Portfolio Committee to consider the amendments. The committee again submits a report to the house indicating amendments agreed to and rejected by the committee.
The house then considers the amendments before they read the bill for the second time. If the house agrees to the amendments and second reading of the bill, it agrees to the bill. Should the house reject the second reading, it rejects the bill. In most instances, a majority of votes are needed to pass a bill.
Once a bill has been dealt with in this way it is referred to the other house for consideration. For a bill to be adopted as law it should be adopted by both houses in parliament.
If an ordinary bill is passed by one house but rejected by another, it is referred to a joint committee consisting of members of both houses and of all parties represented in parliament. This committee then refers its report to a joint sitting of both houses which deals with it in the same way.
On completion of the process the speaker certifies the bill as a true copy considered by parliament. The president promulgates it in the Government Gazette thereby making it law.
A Day in the Life of Joe Bokaba – A Member of a Provincial Legislature
Khensani Makhubela spent a day in the life of Joe Bokaba, a member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.
Joe Bokaba is one of the new generation of legislators. He is more used to organising on the shopfloor than debating legislation or attending seemingly endless committee meetings. Yet, he is prepared to do what it takes to empower the masses.
It’s around nine in the morning when I enter the Gauteng Provincial Legislature in Johannesburg. The offices are busy as I make my way to the top of the building, where I have an appointment with Joe Bokaba, an ANC member of the provincial legislature (MPL).
Bokaba is busy, so I have to wait a while. Finally he is ready to see me. His office is not very big nor fancy. There are three chairs, a table and a cupboard full of files, documents and books.
The man behind the desk is well known in the unions, private sector and ANC as an able organiser. Before the interview begins he invites me to attend the provincial legislature Internal Arrangements Committee meeting.
The committee is responsible for the day-to-day running of the provincial legislature. It is attended by 13 members from all parties represented in legislature. In the meeting they discuss staff recruitment, a child care centre, catering and cleaning contracts, building management and maintenance services, security, information services and support systems and a library.
When the meeting adjourns at around midday we continue with our interview. Bokaba starts telling me about his life, his passion for organising and representing people.
Besides being an ANC Mamelodi Branch chairperson what does he do as an MPL? He sighs before he answers and the phone rings – not for the first time since the interview began. He is constantly reminded of other meetings to attend, reports to be written and drafts to be read. “This is my life now. The telephone never stops ringing be it day or night. My work begins in the morning when I am still at home and it hardly ends,” Bokaba says.
He recalls that at his farewell party at Siemens his employer told him he would never read a newspaper properly again, only glance at the headlines. “I though he was joking, but now I know what he was talking about,” he Bokaba.
Since his appointment Bokaba has worked in a number of committees and sub-committees. “My first assignment with the government was with the Public Safety and Security Legislative Programme. During the period of my engagement in the committee we used to go out on tours, checking the state of police stations and prisons; we influenced changes of conduct in the police stations,” Bokaba says.
Bokaba says that the Public Transport Committee is challenging. “We are dealing mostly with the taxi industry, and their infra-structure is bad. There is also violence in the taxi industry. We have started addressing taxi drivers and taxi owners on subsidies and changes that will be taking place in the Public Transport Ministry,” he says.
Bokaba is still a unionist at heart. In 1969 he joined Siemens Limited Company in Pretoria, and worked as an operator. He was soon involved in worker’s struggle – at a time when the rights of workers were not recognised and they were relatively powerless. “When I was a shopsteward at Siemens my approach to workers and management was very simple: I made sure it brought good results. My colleagues and I did not make decisions overnight, we made sure that our decisions were fruitful and could benefit us as workers and our employers as well,” he says.
Bokaba was elected three times as chairperson of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) in the Northern Transvaal Region. He was the first chairperson of the Medical Provident Fund of NUMSA and was a national negotiator at the Industrial Council. He also represented NUMSA at the Industrial Council and Technical Forum. In 1988 Bokaba was invited by steel workers to a training conference in America and Germany. In 1989 he represented Numsa at the International Federation of Chemical Energy Workers (IFCEW) in Zimbabwe.
“These conferences led to my nine days detention,” says Bokaba, “I was suspected to be receiving military training outside South Africa.” The phone rings again just before the end of the interview. “I have to attend another meeting,” he says.
This is Bokaba’s life in the legislature. He has a lot in his hands, which leaves little time for his family. “This does not bother me. I have always worked for the people and I believe a leader should not be an impressionist but should equip the masses for the future,” he says with his familiar smile and determination.
A decision to publicly disclose the financial interests of all ANC MPs strengthens the ANC’s ground-breaking code of conduct, writes Steyn Speed.
The ANC National Executive Committee has deepened the organisation’s commitment to transparent and clean government by deciding to make public the assets and extra-parliamentary earnings of all its MPs, senators and MPLs.
This follows the adoption in November last year of a code of conduct to bind all people elected to public office from the ANC. A committee has been established by the NEC to develop mechanisms for the full disclosure of information supplied to the secretary general by ANC MPs. The mechanisms are expected to be adopted by the NEC by late July.
In the meantime a process has been established to create a register of financial interests and to verify the information supplied by individuals about their assets. Significantly, MPs are also required to supply information about the financial interests of their family. This will prevent the kind of abuse which was so prevalent in the national party government. Any gift exceeding R200 in value will also need to be registered.
Ministers, premiers and MECs are not allowed to play any active role in profit-making institutions, and are required to surrender any directorships they might have. Any shares they own have to be held in “blind trusts” for the duration of their term of office.
All elected members have to declare any consultancies, shareholdings or directorships they have, as well as any money they or their family receive from an external source.
The aim of these disclosures is to encourage confidence in elected officials and make corruption easier to detect. The code is tough on corruption: “Any form of proven corruption shall constitute a legitimate ground for instant dismissal from Government or Parliament.”
ANC leaders have indicated their willingness to have such a code – particularly the section on clean government – extended through legislation to MPs of all parties. Parliament’s subcommittee on ethics is considering proposals for a code of conduct for all MPs. “The ANC must now push parliament to establish a public code of conduct for all representatives,” ANC secretary general Cyril Ramaphosa said. Ramaphosa told MAYIBUYE that this was particularly important because the local government elections would create many more elected officials.
The ANC’s code of conduct also deals with accountability to the organisation. It stresses that the national constitutional structures of the ANC – the national conference, NEC and National Working Committee – remain the organisations highest decision-making structures, and that all elected members are bound by their decisions. No elected member is allowed to use parliamentary structures to undermine ANC positions or policies.
Members are subject to recall by the organisation from the structures to which they’ve been elected. Members can be recalled if there is a clear divergence from ANC policy; a public disagreement; or a change in allegiance.
The NEC has established, as one of its subcommittees, a disciplinary committee chaired by Kader Asmal. Already the committee has been begun working on ensuring adherence to the code. A committee hearing on 4 May imposed a one year suspension from the ANC on Rocky Malebane-Metsing, arising from his contravention of the ANC Code of Conduct and Constitution.
The code also requires MPs to contribute a portion of their monthly salary to the ANC. They are also to be available for organisational work in specific areas or perform functions subject to the direction of the NEC.
The Code of Conduct applies to all elected members of the National Assembly, Senate and Provincial Legislatures elected from ANC lists.
Commitment to Democracy and Equality
All elected members will, in the performance of their functions, be committed to the eradication of all forms of discrimination and, especially, discrimination based on gender or sex, race or ethnicity. All elected members will implement in their sphere of work the measures and programmes considered to be necessary and which are aimed at redressing historical imbalances and injustice.
No elected member will use his or her position to court or demand or be seen to be courting or demanding any form of favour, especially sexual favour. Women, in particular, will be treated as equals and any form of sexual harassment will constitute a serious offence.
All these elected members will be under the constitutional authority of the highest decision-making bodies of the ANC. Decisions and policies arrived at by the National Conference and/or the National Executive Committee will take precedence over all other structures, including our structures in parliament and government.
No elected member will attempt to make use of parliamentary structures to undermine organisational decisions or policies.
These members will be subject to recall by the organisation for violation of the constitution of the ANC or for conduct unbecoming that of a member or elected representative of the organisation. The NWC will establish procedures for initiating the process of recalling elected representatives.
Every elected representative will observe and subscribe to the policies of the ANC. Elected representatives owe allegiance to the African National Congress and will not change such loyalty. In the event of a change of allegiance, members can be recalled from their positions.
All elected members will observe practices that are free from all forms of corruption. Government offices or parliamentary posts will not be used to distribute favours or patronage nor to seek or obtain any personal fortune or favour.
Any form of proven corruption will constitute a legitimate ground for instant dismissal from government or parliament, without prejudice to any subsequent internal disciplinary action within the organisation. All members will declare their assets to the organisation and describe all other positions from which there is a pecuniary benefit in other organisations, companies and boards. In particular, they will disclose all consultancies, shareholdings and directorships or any form of pecuniary benefit received by them or their family from an external source.
Ministers, premiers and MECs will not play any active role in profit- making institutions. They will surrender directorships and their shares will be held in ‘blind trusts’.
The ANC secretary general will establish a register of financial interests which will be accessible to members of the NEC, updated at least every six months.
No elected member will act as a parliamentary lobbyist for any agency, company or body.
Contributions to the Organisation
A portion of the salary of elected members will be paid into the coffers of the organisation. The proportion of taxable salary to be directed to the organisation will be determined from time to time by the NEC and will be paid by way of compulsory stop-orders.
Activities of elected members during and outside parliamentary work All elected representatives will make themselves available for work within the organisation and will accept allocation by the organisation to specific areas or functions.
All elected representatives will be available for parliamentary or governmental or organisational work and activity. They will be fully accountable to the organisational structures in the provinces where they are allocated.
Elected members of the assemblies will not have any other type of full- time employment while they are such members.
Implementation and Monitoring
Every elected representative will sign and therefore bind herself/himself to this Code of Conduct.
Every elected representative will be subject to the disciplinary procedures and any such appropriate mechanism and procedure for the monitoring of the code of conduct established by the ANC. Any member of the assemblies will forfeit his or her place in the ANC list or the Senate if he or she fails to sign this code of conduct within one month of its promulgation or refuses to disclose his or her interests or gifts within one month of being so requested by the secretary general.
Part 2 – Developing an Electronic Communications System for Operation Vula
The Story of the Secret Underground Communications Network of Operation Vula by Tim Jenkin
In the early eighties, when we were considering how computers could assist us in communicating with our activists in South Africa, I met Ronnie Press. He was a stalwart of the struggle who had left South Africa in the first wave of exiles in the early sixties.
With a few other people based in the United Kingdom, Ronnie had founded the ANC ‘Technical Committee’ – to provide technical assistance for the armed struggle. He had access to computers at the polytechnic where he taught and had also come to the realisation that they would be a powerful aid in communications. The two of us knew very little about programming but set about getting one of his work computers to emulate the manual operations of one of the ANC’s book codes. While it did what we wanted, there was no one to communicate with.
In 1984, when prices were low enough, I lashed out and bought my first personal computer. It was quite a pathetic little machine by today’s standards but it gave me the opportunity to learn how to write elementary computer programmes. Inspired by this, Ronnie bought one too. At last then we could communicate with each other. As these were pretty basic machines there was not much we could do with them apart from swapping cassette tapes that held our secret messages. Nevertheless this was a major advance, for what used to take hours to encrypt now took a matter of minutes.
One day Ronnie arrived with a pair of modems. I had never heard of such things, but was told they would allow our computers to communicate over the telephone. This was the breakthrough, I realised, for these devices would allow us to communicate with our operatives in South Africa. No longer would communications be a chore – it would now be fun.
Getting the modems to work properly was a nightmare as neither of us knew anything about the vagaries of digital communications. It made us realise that using computers to communicate with South Africa would not be as easy as we’d first imagined. How would the communicating parties know when the other side had a message to send? Also, would not the mere act of communicating, especially with encrypted messages, endanger the user in South Africa? How too could we get the equipment to our activists at home? In any case, only those with access to electricity and phone sockets – usually white comrades – would be able to use computers for communicating.
These uncertainties dampened our enthusiasm. We managed however to set up a link between London and Bristol, where Ronnie lived, using an electronic mail service. We showed this to our chiefs, but failed to impress because everything went wrong on that occasion. They gave our project their blessing, but what we wanted was financial, not moral, support.
On one of his regular trips to Zambia, Ronnie took his computer and modem to see if we could communicate between Lusaka and London. The test failed miserably as the crackle and echo on the line drowned the modems’ pathetic signals. The Lusaka chiefs were impressed with the speed and ease with which the computer enciphered and deciphered messages but realised that it would have no immediate practical application. No one would be able to use it, as a computer would be out of place in a township and those who would be in a position to use them would not last long if they communicated with Zambia.
We continued to improve our computer communications system, but without a concrete application it did not progress very far. Our initial enthusiasm waned as there appeared to be no way of bridging the gap between ourselves and users inside the country.
Our next project was one that led to the breakthrough we had been waiting for. We had received a request, as members of the Technical Committee, to find a way for activists to contact each other safely in an urban environment. Ronnie had seen a paging device that could be used between users of walkie-talkies. A numeric keypad was attached to the front of each radio set and when a particular number was pressed a light would flash on the remote set that corresponded to the number. The recipient of the paging signal could then respond to the caller using a pre-determined frequency so that the other users would not know about it.
Since the numbers on the keypad actually generated the same tones as those of a touch-tone telephone it occurred to us that instead of having merely a flashing light at the recipient’s end you could have a number appear corresponding to the number pressed on the keypad. If you could have one number appear you could have all numbers appear and in this way send a coded message. If the enemy was monitoring the airwaves all they would hear was a series of tones that would mean nothing.
Taking this a step further we realised that if you could send the tones by radio then they could also be sent by telephone, especially as the tones were intended for use on telephone systems. Ronnie put together a little microphone device that – when held on the earpiece of the receiving telephone – could display whatever number was pressed at the sending end. Using touch-tone telephones or separate tone pads as used for telephone banking services two people could send each other coded messages over the telephone. This could be done from public telephones, thus ensuring the safety of the users.
To avoid having to key in the numbers while in a telephone booth the tones could be recorded on a tape recorder at home and then played into the telephone. Similarly, at the receiving end, the tones could be recorded on a tape recorder and then decoded later. Messages could even be sent to an answering machine and picked up from an answering machine if left as the outgoing message.
We gave a few of these devices, disguised as electronic calculators, to activists to take back to South Africa. They were not immensely successful as the coding still had to be done by hand. That remained the chief factor discouraging people from communicating.
The next step was an attempt to marry the tone communications system with computer encryption. Ronnie got one of the specialists at the polytechnic to construct a device that produced the telephone tones at very high speed. This was attached to a computer that did the encryption. The computer, through the device, sent out the encrypted message as a series of tones and these could be saved on a cassette tape recorder that could be taken to a public telephone. This seemed to solve the problem of underground communications as everything could be done from public telephones and the encryption was done by computer.
While working on this system in early 1987 I was called down to Lusaka to train a group of activists in the use of some specialised radio equipment. While there I was approached by Mac Maharaj, now Minister of Transport. He had heard that we had been experimenting with computers and various methods of secret communications. I demonstrated the use of the tone pad system using radios and we agreed to set up a trial system using the telephone model between London and Lusaka.
The system worked, but as our computerised version was not ready the coding was still done by hand and this limited the amount of information that could be transferred.
Later in the year Mac visited me in London and explained that the ANC was planning to send leadership figures into the country, but that this could not happen until a suitable communications system was in place. This surprised and pleased me, for Mac was the first ANC leader I had come across who had the foresight to realise that nothing serious could happen in the underground until people could communicate properly. He was happy with our tone pad system but wanted to use computers to do the encryption.
I promised to investigate but explained the fundamental problem of attempting to communicate secretly with computers: it was too dangerous to use a computer from a listed telephone and simply not possible to take one into a telephone booth. Our computerised tone system could be the answer but we were having major problems getting it to work reliably.
Ronnie and I had thought about using modems in the same way as our tone device but the problem was that modems worked in pairs. The modem signal could not be recorded on tape because one modem had to be talking directly to another before anything would happen.
By chance a friend gave me an acoustic coupler that he was about to throw out. This is a special sort of modem that clips onto a telephone handpiece instead of being plugged into a wall socket. I was using this one day when I happened to lose the connection with the remote computer. I noticed that, despite this loss of contact, the message I was sending continued to be sent, unlike what would have happened had I been using a normal modem. Could it be true that these devices did not require another modem at the other end to work?
To test this hypothesis I wrote a little program to send some computer output to the modem. Sure enough the sounds came out of the modem’s speaker. These I recorded and played back into the microphone end of the modem while running a communications programme on the computer. Eureka! The characters appeared on the screen. I had done with a modem what we were attempting to do with our tone machine.
This seemed to be the real breakthrough. I adapted our encryption/communications program to work with the acoustic modem and recorded the output on a tape recorder. This I took to a public telephone booth and played back to my answering machine. Then I played the answering machine ‘message’ back into the modem and the computer deciphered it successfully. As the plain text message appeared on the screen I realised that we had finally discovered an absolutely safe method of communicating with the underground using computers.
The next problem was to adapt our encryption program to work reliably with this system. When two computers are communicating in the normal way through modems they ‘talk’ to each other and if an error is detected the receiving computer can ask the sending one to resend the message or the part of the message containing the error. But with our system you had a computer talking to a tape recorder – a completely dumb device. We knew well that if an encrypted message got corrupted while being sent, then everything following the point of corruption would be garbage. And over a distance of 10,000 kilometres there were sure to be errors.
After a lot of serious programming I managed to develop a system that could ride over errors. You could not recover the text where the corruption occurred but all was not lost if errors occurred. The message continued to decipher to the end.
After fine tuning this system I demonstrated it to Mac. He was so pleased that he adopted it immediately. We tested it from Lusaka and our conclusion was that if it worked from there it would work from anywhere.
After a few more meetings with Mac I got a clearer picture of the operation being planned. This was no ‘Mickey Mouse’ affair. The amount of preparation and security involved indicated that for once the comrades were deadly serious. Mac was insistent that nothing could happen until the communications had been sorted out.
Around this time – early 1987 – I was introduced to Conny Braam, the head of the Dutch Anti-Apartheid Movement. She appeared also to have been informed of the planned operation and was assisting with background preparations. We were brought together to discuss communication methods. She had been investigating some commercial encryption and communications devices. One of the these, a pocket-sized encryption ‘computer’, was particularly impressive. To send a message you simply held the device on the mouthpiece of a phone and played the code to another similar device on another phone. We tested this with an answering machine and it seemed to work fine.
To be absolutely certain if these devices were going to work from South Africa we needed to send someone in to test them. We also wanted to know everything about the South African phone system: whether there were card phones, the dimensions of phone handpieces, what the local phone plugs looked like, whether there were suitable public phones, and so forth.
Conny found a suitable ‘playboy’ type that no one would suspect of being a ‘spy’. I briefed him on what we needed to know and told him where to find it. A short while later he was sent in on his mission. Our ‘spy’ did a magnificent job. He photographed public telephones, located nearly every suitable phone in Johannesburg and Durban and brought back a number of ‘samples’ that he pulled out of sockets and ripped out of phone booths.
Most exciting of all, he found out that radio telephones had just been introduced in South Africa. These were huge monsters very unlike the dainty cell phones in use today. The batteries used to power these phones were so heavy that they could only be used in a motor vehicle. However, after negotiating with a dealer he found that it would be possible to mount one of the units in a suitcase. If we could get one of these our underground operators would be able to communicate safely using computers from just about anywhere.
Tests with the communications equipment showed that Conny’s dedicated coding/transmission machine was hopeless. It simply didn’t have the power of our unconventional acoustic modem/tape device. After assessing the results of our ‘spy’s’ mission Mac concluded that the radio telephone would be so useful that it was essential to get one. But how to do it? There was no-one in the country who could get the phone and it was going to cost around R16,000.
Fortunately the ubiquitous Conny had managed to find a sympathetic KLM flight attendant who was working on the Amsterdam-Johannesburg route. She was willing to do just about anything for us, including smuggling into and out of the country whatever we wanted.
I went over to Amsterdam to find out if she was willing to go on a special ‘shopping trip’ for us to get the phone. She was honoured to be asked and pleased that she would be doing things more exciting than pure courier work.
I had managed to convince the telephone supplier in Johannesburg that I was a British businessman who needed the telephone for my ‘business’ and that a ‘friend’ would be passing through Johannesburg to make the purchase for me. My problem was how to pay the bills, as my work required frequent, quick trips to South Africa. The dealer was so keen to make the sale that he worked out a scheme whereby the phone could be registered in his name but could physically be in my possession. All we had to do was ‘top up’ his bank account every month and everyone would be happy.
On her first trip the flight attendant was unable to get the phone because her plane was late. The second time the salesman didn’t show up. But finally she got it. For her it was a major victory as she felt she had let us down on the previous occasions.
Back in London we made the final preparations for the start of Operation Vula, which was due to begin in July or August 1988, when the first operatives were to be smuggled in. Among those in the first group was Mac Maharaj.
I had two new phone lines installed in my flat: one for incoming calls from South Africa and Lusaka, the other for the South African operatives to pick up messages directed to them. On both I connected specially doctored answering machines that could record and play messages for up to five minutes without cutting off. The system would work more or less the same from Lusaka as from South Africa, except that there was no need to use public phones in Lusaka.
It was hard to believe that this system would work under real conditions. Only when it was tried by the comrades after they got into the country would we know.
NEXT ISSUE: Operation Vula Starts
Community media organisations across South Africa came together last month to try salvage community media. David Adams was there.
A conference on community media in South Africa held in Cape Town last month was a last ditch attempt by hundreds of different community voices to revive people’s media
The conference comes at a time when the community media sector has been reduced to little more than a trickle of publications and a handful of radio stations. Many of the publications which were the mainstay of the struggle for media freedom and democracy in the 1980s and early 1990s have had to close, largely due to a lack of resources. Work in Progress, Vrye Weekblad, Learn and Teach, Saamstaan have all disappeared, with no new media to replace them.
It is not surprising then that the conference devoted much attention to the funding of community media. Attended by different community media organisations, the conference took stock of the present scenario and developed a programme to take community media forward.
Apart from the question of funding the 160 delegates debated the mechanisms of forming an umbrella body that will accommodate all community media organisations. The last day of the conference saw the launch of the National Community Media Forum (NCMF), signalling the revival of the community media sector.
As a form of media owned and controlled by communities through their representatives, the strengthening of the community media sector is central to the empowerment of people. It is the voice of the historically marginalised and disadvantaged whose needs and aspirations have remained unheard for so long.
The forum is composed of three national sectoral organisations: the National Community Radio Forum, which consists of 32 community radio stations; the Community Print Sector, made up of 33 organisations; and the Audio Visual Access Network, made up of 22 community television and video projects and service organisations.
The NCMF will immediately embark on setting up a Transitional Emergency Relief Fund to assist those community media organisations which are currently struggling to survive financially. It is also intended to kick- start the process towards the establishment of an enabling support mechanism for media in South Africa in line with the provisions of the Reconstruction and Development Programme.
The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) is explicit about the role media must play in the development process. The chapter on “Democratising the state and society” contains useful ideas on how this can happen, including:
- The development of a “Democratic Information Programme” to facilitate the flow of information between communities and government – particularly in areas such as education and health.
- Assistance for the development of “new voices” such as community radio stations and newspapers.
- A programme of affirmative action to empower communities to speak for themselves. This includes providing resources and training, and developing an awareness of media rights.
- Limiting monopoly control of the media.
- Training community-based journalists.
In addition, the RDP calls for the restructuring of the existing government-run SA Communications Service (SACS) and encourages the government to facilitate the development of a new information policy.
In a recent press statement the National Community Media Forum said it wished to ensure that the right of access to information and free expression of opinions was within reach of ordinary people.
Speaking at the forum, Minister of Post and Telecommunications Pallo Jordan expressed his support for the aims of the forum and said the forum could count on his support on condition that it did not favour any political interests above others. He further offered to provide linkages between historically disadvantaged communities and the relevant government departments.
The conference outlined three options for addressing the problem of funding shortages in community media:
- In the long term a loan system should be adopted so that community voices can sustain their different functions.
- Legislation should be passed to enable community media to obtain funding from government coffers.
- The forum should lobby independent broadcasting institutions like 702 and M-Net to contribute to the proposed Emergency Relief Fund. The forum’s National Executive Committee was elected. The president is Tshepo Rantho; general secretary Nicolette Tladi; treasurer Ratha Ramatlhape and additional members Eileen Philips, Neville Sign, Lumko Mtimde, Farah Moosa, Sifiso Ndlazi and Karen Thorne.
Financial Mail – Occupying the Moral Low Ground
The Financial Mail magazine has some merit. When it comes to expressing white business opinion, it gets away from the window-dressing, the NEDLACking and the RDPese. Here, every week, is the real thing. All you wanted to know about how the boardrooms think, but you were too polite to ask.
The FM runs continuous attacks on the ANC. That, of course, is entirely its right. What is amusing is how it chooses to do this.
The FM’s favourite phrase at the moment is “political correctness”. MAYIBUYE counted no fewer than eight separate occurrences of this term in just one recent issue (May 5).
Now, when the FM writes “political correctness”, what it actually means is ‘incorrectness’. For example, the FM complains: “There are already signs of political correctness affecting the policy-making process at the Foundation for Research and Development.” This, you understand, is meant to be a bad thing.
Being ‘politically correct’ is to be naive enough to try to redress the legacy of apartheid. It means doing things, like affirmative action, that interfere with His Holiness The Free Market. Being ‘politically correct’, in short, gets in the way of more important things, like preserving your racial privileges.
As you can imagine, ‘political correctness’ applies to many of the ANC’s constitutional proposals. The proposal on the Reserve Bank is a case in point. According to the FM: “If carried through, a clause relating to the independence of the Reserve Bank would make it a tool of social and economic policy.”
What an outrage! After all, the Reserve Bank is there to undermine social and economic policy, isn’t it?
For its part, the FM prides itself in being politically (and manfully) incorrect. “The best-read page of the FM,” it boasts, “is the back page – the Did You Hear? column with its sexist jokes and politically incorrect attitudes. While its days may not be numbered it may be compelled to clean up its act if the ANC has its way in limiting the clause that guarantees freedom of expression in the interim constitution.”
Don’t worry, Nigel Bruce (editor of the FM). The ANC has no intention whatsoever of challenging your constitutional right to occupy the moral low ground.
‘We opened the road for you. You must go forward’
(Dora Tamana by Jane Rosenthal, “They Fought for Freedom” series, Maskew Miller-Longman, R17.99 VAT included.)
Dora Tamana was born in 1901 in the Hlobo district of the Transkei. She died in Cape Town in 1983. Those 82 years spanned an incredible range of struggles – from early post-Union resistance all the way down to the formation of MDM structures in the 1980s. Dora Tamana was always in the thick of things.
The story of Dora Tamana’s life has just been published in the “They fought for Freedom” series. These are books that tell the lives of southern African leaders who struggled for freedom and justice. The books are written to make them readable for high school students. But anyone will find them very helpful and interesting.
In 1921 the Smuts government sent in 800 armed policemen to deal with a group of Israelites under the prophet Enoch Mgijima. The Israelites had set up a community at Ntabelanga near Queenstown. Most were poor peasants evicted from their land by the 1913 Land Act. Mgijima’s inspired preaching combined traditional African, Christian and even some political influences. He spoke of the liberating arrival of “iKongolosi” – he was referring to the ANC launched 9 years earlier.
When the Israelites refused to move off their holy site, the police opened fire. One hundred and eighty three people were killed and over 100 were injured. This is referred to as the Bulhoek Massacre. Dora Tamana was there. Her father and two uncles were killed. Her future husband, John, was among the injured. Jane Rosenthal’s book recounts these events movingly.
The story then shifts to Cape Town. It was there that Dora settled in 1930, and she soon became active in community organisation. In the Blaauwvlei squatter community on the Cape Flats, Dora became a “Masakhane” activist long before our movement had invented the slogan. She was at the centre of dozens of initiatives – feeding schemes, self- help projects.
One day, the book recounts, crossing the Grand Parade in Cape Town, Dora heard a Communist Party speaker say something interesting. He described childcare centres in Russia. These were places where children could be cared for while their parents were at work. Inspired by these words, Dora built a creche in Blaauwvlei. For one penny a day she fed the children of working parents and bathed each one in her zinc bath. This pre-school, now with brick and plaster walls, still stands today, as one of several fascinating photos in the book testifies.
Dora’s community work brought her increasingly into contact with the Communist Party of SA, and with people like Moses Kotane and Ray Alexander. She joined the Party in 1942 and the next year the ANC. In the 1940s and 50s, Dora Tamana was a founder member and leader in the ANC Women’s League and later of the Federation of South African Women (Fedsaw). She was banned and detained in the 1950s and 60s. Dora also had to live through the trauma of her son Bethwell being on death row in Salisbury, Rhodesia. Bethwell was one of the first MK combatants. He was captured in the Wankie campaign and sentenced to death by Ian Smith’s regime. Desperate efforts by Dora and by OR Tambo managed to save Bethwell and other MK comrades.
Undaunted by a lifetime of struggle, Dora Tamana in her 80s, nearly blind, continued to be the major inspiration for the launch of the United Women’s Organisation. UWO was to be a leading organisation in the creation of the UDF in the Western Cape.
Dora opened the UWO launch meeting with the following poem. It was a poem that came spontaneously. It came from her heart and from eight decades of struggle experience. Perhaps it is a poem that should become the national anthem of the Masakhane campaign:
You who have no work, speak.
You who have no homes, speak.
You who have to run like chickens from the vulture, speak.
Let us share our problems so that we can solve them together.
We must free ourselves.
Men and women must share housework.
Men and women must work together in the home and out in the world.
There are no creches and 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.
We opened the road for you.
You must go forward.
Reading this book will inspire you to go forward.
By Jeremy Cronin
Rounding Up The Registration Drive
Compiled by Khensani Makhubela In this issue we review the progress in the provinces in registering voters, some of the tactics used and some of the mistakes made.
The Northern Cape has held a number of workshops, blitzes, door-to-door visits, posters campaigns and general meetings to educate people and to register them.
The Voter Education Election Training Unit (Veetu) conducted their second intensive training course for local election teams in four regions of the province. The training is for all the different portfolios in the local election structures, including the communication structures. In turn, the structures educated their respective communities about the importance of the forthcoming elections and why they have to register.
President Mandela visited the Northern Cape on 27 May, where mass registration of voters took place.
Matla Trust was central to voter registration education in the North West. The people in the province appreciated the effort as it was obvious that most of them did not actually know what the whole process involved.
Matla Trust targeted the ‘KOSH’ area – Klerksdorp, Orkney, Stilfontein, Hartebeesfontein and surrounding townships.
The Eastern Transvaal set up task teams to assist in voter registration and education in all its regions. The teams worked on door-to-door campaigns in villages and towns around the province. Blitzes were held in almost every town.
Voter registration mass meetings were held where people were given a platform to question the leadership. This helped the people to understand why they had to register for the local government elections. Leadership was been deployed to radio phone-in programmes to explain voter registration.
The Eastern Cape Province took its voter registration education to hospitals, schools, universities, colleges and technikons. The province established local voter registration centres where they educated people on voter registration. Door-to-door campaigns also proved successful, in that there was a clear increase in registration figures after the campaigns were launched.
The Gauteng ANC launched ‘Operation Last 30 Days’ – a call to all workers, students, teachers, professionals, farmworkers, army personnel, police officers, the unemployed and residents in townships, hostels, suburbs, informal settlements and rural areas to register for the forthcoming local government elections.
Door-to-door visits proved to be fruitful in the province. They focussed on the importance of local government and the coming elections. The province found out from people the issues which they felt needed the urgent attention of local government.
In each of the ten regions of the Free State branches with high population densities were targeted. All ANC gatherings were used to encourage people to register for local elections.
Transitional Local Councils employed people to register and educate people for the local elections. Rallies were organised to make people understand about voter registration. Churches were also used on Sundays to register and educate farmworkers on how, and why, to register.
The Northern Transvaal ANC established elections teams at all levels with the necessary vigour and urgency needed to make the campaign a success.
Since seventy percent of the people in Northern Transvaal cannot read or write, person-to-person contact proved to be the key to success in the province.
Eastern Cape at a Glance…
The Eastern Cape is among the poorest provinces in South Africa. It has the third highest rate of unemployment in the country after KwaZulu/Natal and the Northern Transvaal. In addition to an unemployment rate of over 23 percent, statistics show that on average each member of the labour force supports four other people. The average income of people in the Eastern Cape is less than half that of the national average.
The Eastern Cape has a below-average number of doctors and nurses per 1,000 people, although its health facilities are above the national average. Over 40 percent of the population is either illiterate or semi-literate.
People in the Eastern Cape have the lowest life expectancy of all the provinces, at 59.6 years. It also has the highest infant mortality rate at 58.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
In this context, the need for the RDP to be successfully implemented in the Eastern Cape is immense. There are positive signs, though. There is a high level of activism in the Eastern Cape and a strong tradition of community organisation. Of the 2.87 million votes cast in the Eastern Cape in last year’s national assembly elections, the ANC received 2.4 million votes. The ANC has 48 seats in the 56 seat provincial legislature, putting the organisation in a position to implement its policies effectively.
Eastern Cape Grapples With Change
The ANC Eastern Cape provincial structures have had a difficult first year. Mziwakhe Hlangani visited them to find out what their second year holds.
The Eastern Cape province of the ANC has struggled since April last year to come to terms with the new South Africa – but activists in the province are confident that the main problems are behind them.
The political changes which began with last year’s election have revealed the close political, social and economic inter-relationship between the people of the three former regions which now comprise the province. The new political climate has also created an opportunity for closer cooperation and the adoption of common approaches to challenges facing the communities of the province.
The first major challenge facing the ANC in the Eastern Cape province was to build a united provincial structure from the three former regions – Transkei, Border and Eastern Cape – each with their own distinct approach, experience and political history.
ANC provincial secretary Bongani Gxilishe said the regional barriers were now beginning to be transcended: “We have gone a long way since the [provincial] conference to overcome those perceptions, stereotypes and attitudes. We have re-demarcated 13 regions and the process of holding divisional conferences and establishing offices in all the areas has started.”
The province had also to deal with the absorption of experienced leadership into the national parliament, provincial legislature and local government structures. This led, in many instances, to the replacement of entire levels of leadership in ANC structures. As a result, many of the new leaders have had little experience in running the organisation.
Because of the effective removal of MPs and members of the provincial legislature (MPLs) from active involvement in many ANC structures, forums were now being created to accommodate them so that their experience could be used as part of the collective leadership of the regions. ANC branches were being revived to be fully-fledged structures and were once again taking up programmes. Gxilishe said a strained relationship with government had been one cause of the weaknesses of ANC provincial structures.
“The ANC had not been able to assist the government to govern, and not able to sit down and plan with government with a view to strengthening the ANC in government.
“We have further failed to ensure the ANC is alive and independent from the government. As a result the ANC in the province has been unable to constructively criticize and defend the government. The ANC has failed to rise as an organisation.”
This fed the growing perception that the ANC and the government were one and the same, which was not the case, he said.
Largely due to the marginalisation of the organisation in the province the launch of ANC’s campaign to prepare for voter registration and local government elections had been delayed. The province had subsequently managed to get its voter registration campaign going and was channelling all its resources into the local government election campaign.
One of the priorities for the province was to ensure the involvement of the ANC in planning and implementing the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). “We have to design campaigns for RDP structures,” Gxilishe said.
The organisation had a particularly important role in ensuring the RDP was mass-driven.
The shift towards focussing on developmental issues had however created tensions within the alliance, often manifesting itself in open animosity, Gxilishe said.
There had been a growing perception that the ANC should engage itself with political and constitutional matters, while Sanco had to concentrate on development projects. With the introduction of the RDP, ANC branches saw it as their responsibility to ensure that communities were assisted in understanding issues that involved their development. Many Sanco branches, however, maintained that development was their exclusive domain.
There was also a lack of understanding among the membership of both organisations of the nature of alliance between the ANC and Sanco.
There were also tendencies on the part of the ANC membership to “mechanically impose the ANC leadership”.
A recent summit of the leadership of the broad alliance established a common understanding on the nature of the alliance and committed itself to developing a sound relationship.
It further identified the problems of critical individual components who sought to undermine the alliance. They agreed to counter this. The summit was followed by another meeting of the alliance structures where secretaries of the alliance organisations formed a collective leadership forum to deal with tensions between certain structures of Sanco and ANC membership. The forum decided to deploy leadership in areas where crisis existed.
Instability in the province in the months after the election had also affected the organisation. This had largely been precipitated by conflict between rural chiefs and Sanco activists and strikes and disruption of services by Cosatu affiliates.
Eastern Cape Premier Raymond Mhlaba attributed much of the strife to the mammoth exercise of integrating the civil services of the former Transkei and Ciskei homelands and parts of the former Cape Provincial Administration. This was exacerbated by the integration of three different police services under one central command.
Mhlaba said his Cabinet had also started working on ways of redressing historical imbalances in the province. He said members of the provincial legislature were looking for direction now that the government was intact.
There have been reports of a decline in ANC membership in the province since the election. Gxilishe said it was difficult to assess membership subscriptions because of inefficient administration caused largely by the introduction of a new membership system. The new computer packages which were introduced to keep membership data had created confusion.
He said there had been no vigorous campaign for new members because much of the experienced ANC leadership was pre-occupied with the running the country and implementing the RDP. He conceded that the election of ANC veterans to parliament and other governmental structures had left ANC structures totally disorganised.
Despite all these problem, the status the ANC has historically enjoyed in the province placed the organisation in a favourable position to revive itself. The ANC had always been a generic name in the province, which provided opportunity for the organisation to be marketed to the masses, he said.
“We have those stalwarts who have been involved in the political struggle and, to a great extent, are still prepared to channel their energies in support of the ANC and help the ANC in running the government.
“People in the region, because of their political awareness, understand the constraints facing the government. Those ANC stalwarts and the general membership are prepared not to be onlookers, they are prepared to throw their lot behind the government,” he said.
Being the second poorest region in the country, the Eastern Cape has no room for complacency. In order to right the wrongs of the past, the ANC in the province will need to put the setbacks of the past year behind it, developing a close working relationship with both the provincial government and the alliance. To its credit, the ANC in the Eastern Cape has made great strides in doing just that.
This article is the first in a monthly focus on the ANC in the provinces. Over the next eight months we will probe the hardships, shortcomings and successes of our new provincial structures in a critical and frank manner.
The recent Ebola virus outbreak was greeted with dismay in the world media. Yet one of the greatest threats to world health barely receives a mention, writes Duncan Harford.
The recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in Kikwit, Zaire has attracted worldwide media attention. Horrific as the disease is, its potential effect on global health pales in comparison to another killer – tuberculosis (TB).
The Ebola virus is swift and deadly. Over 90 percent of people infected with the virus die. The disease progresses quickly, with people dying from massive, uncontrollable bleeding.
The outbreak of the virus can end just as quickly as it begins. If a new case has not been reported after six weeks the World Health Organisation (WHO) would give the all clear.
The virus is relatively difficult to transmit. It can get out of bodies very easily, but it is more difficult for it to enter bodies. The virus’s short incubation period helps to explain why the four previous Ebola outbreaks recorded died down relatively quickly.
Tuberculosis on the other hand has been responsible for more deaths among adults than any other infectious disease. In 1990 tuberculosis was responsible for 2.5 million deaths. By 2005 the figure is expected to be nearer 4 million.
The amount of money spent on combatting TB is relatively low. About $20 million was donated in 1990 to fight TB. In the same year about $170 million went to AIDS, $80 million to leprosy and $75 million to tropical diseases.
In rich countries the discovery of antibiotics and the spread of health care systems reduced the spread of TB. Meanwhile in poor countries the likelihood of someone dying from tuberculosis increased.
While the new outbreak of the Ebola virus in Zaire is obviously a newsworthy event, due in no small measure to the mystery and messiness of the virus, Ebola is not likely to turn into a global disaster. The irony is that tuberculosis, which does represent just such a disaster, barely rates a mention in the media at all.
The IFP has plans to turn KwaZulu/Natal in a bantustan, and to use its traditional strategies of patronage and repression to entrench its power, writes Steyn Speed.
The Inkatha Freedom Party plans to go ahead with the effective secession of KwaZulu/Natal from the rest of South Africa – and indications are that it will not consider itself bound by even a mediated agreement.
This emerged from a confidential IFP strategy document leaked to the media last week which suggests a ’20 point plan’ to seize control of the civil service, security forces, schools and economy of KwaZulu/Natal. This was revealed in the same week as the ANC and IFP met each other formally for the first time in a year. The talks were intended to lay the basis for substantive constitutional discussions between the two organisations. The IFP delegation, however, was only interested in discussing the implementation of the April 1994 Agreement for Reconciliation and Peace.
In view of the differing interpretations each party gave to the agreement, it was decided to continue talks between the organisations and to formally exchange each organisation’s constitutional proposals. The ANC delegation of Cyril Ramaphosa, Penuell Maduna and Blade Nzimande said, however, that the ANC could not see its way clear for the constitution being drafted in the Constitutional Assembly to be subject to mediation. “We, as the ANC, are open to talk to the IFP on constitutional issues,” Ramaphosa said, “but these talks cannot be binding on the Constitutional Assembly.”
He said the Constitutional Assembly was a sovereign body, and that its processes could not be subject to outside processes such as international mediation.
It is doubtful whether the IFP will be prepared to honour any agreements which might be reached. The strategy they are pursuing in the province indicates no desire for compromise. On the contrary, the party seems intent on establishing KwaZulu/Natal as an autonomous ‘kingdom’ with antagonistic relations with the rest of the country. In its ’20 point plan’ the IFP explicitly rejects any form of cooperation between the national and provincial government, and among provinces. It suggests the “immediate withdrawal” of the provincial government from the Intergovernmental Forum, which, it says, is establishing the basis for “intergovernmental coordination”. The withdrawal from the forum two weeks ago of KwaZulu/Natal premier Frank Mdlalose should be seen as part of this greater strategy.
According to the document the IFP plans to enact provincial legislation which will give the province exclusive control over matters such as land and water management; the civil service; education; security and protection services; business and gambling licensing; and the reconstruction and development programme.
The document proposes establishing an IFP stranglehold over the province in much the same way as the IFP used the homeland system in the 1980s and early 1990s to entrench its power over the region. The proposal to adopt the flag and emblem of the former KwaZulu bantustan shows the IFP’s desire to take KwaZulu/Natal back into the apartheid era. It is a desire which goes beyond mere symbolism.
Significant is the proposal to develop “as soon as possible” the province’s own security and protection services. This move is reminiscent of the IFP’s control over the KwaZulu Police.
The document also suggests the establishment of a “protection force which secures all schools and other vital centres”, as a way of creating employment for Self Protection Unit members without bringing them under the command of the SANDF or the South African Police Services.
This move – both sinister and cynical – would only fuel already spiralling levels of violence in the province. The call by Buthelezi on his supporters to “rise and resist” the ANC and the central government has been met with renewed violence on a scale not seen since before last year’s election. Attempts to strengthen crime and violence prevention mechanisms in the province have been viewed by the IFP as a declaration of war.
The IFP is also trying to establish its power in the province through party control of the ‘amakhosi’. Despite widespread support for legislation to standardise the payment of traditional leaders by national government, the IFP’s plan proposes that “the Province shall adopt legislation which precludes any traditional leader to receive compensation from the central government”.
It plans also to establish a system of rural local government which further entrenches the power of the ‘amakhosi’. A proclamation by the premier to this effect, which the document says is “inexplicably long overdue”, would undermine any attempt to establish democratic rural government in the province, and would make a farce of the local government elections.
Central to the plans of the IFP is the establishment of independent sources of revenue for the province, and the creation of a separate economy under the control of the IFP. According to the document, the province should take “firm control” over all aspect of trade and commerce. It proposes legislation which would override all national trade and commerce legislation. “This legislation could create very substantial revenues for the province,” it says.
The document further proposes control over the licensing of gambling and lotteries, as this would provide the only source of “unconditional revenues”.
ANC secretary general Cyril Ramaphosa told a diplomatic briefing recently that such moves would be detrimental to the South African economy as a whole. “We should not undermine the economic unity of the country. It won’t inspire business to create jobs or expend capital,” he said. He said business in KwaZulu/Natal would not go along with the IFP’s plans.
The ANC will continue to engage the IFP at a national level on constitutional matters. Yet with IFP’s single-minded determination to resurrect the bantustan system, time will only tell whether such talks can bring peace to the province.
The Heart of the Matter
At the heart of the IFP’s plans for secession are fundamental differences between the ANC and IFP over the powers to be given to provinces in the final constitution.
The IFP wants a form of federal system which will give effective autonomy to the province of KwaZulu/Natal. It wants all powers to reside at a provincial level, and for the province to have the capacity to allocate to national government those powers which it does not want. They are explicitly opposed to any inter-provincial or inter-governmental cooperation, and reject any notion of national uniformity. The ANC by contrast is proposing a system of cooperative governance, whereby powers are divided between national, provincial and local government in a way which ensures effective and accountable government.
“We want provincial governments which can truly claim to be closer to the people,” ANC secretary general Cyril Ramaphosa told a diplomatic briefing last week. “Provinces must be given sufficient powers to do what provincial government can do best.”
He said strong provincial government was not incompatible with strong national government.
“We need to disinfect our country of the apartheid odour, and cannot do that in little pockets.” He said national frameworks and standards were necessary to rid South Africa of apartheid. These should be set up with the full cooperation of the provinces, and should not be imposed. “We are therefore proposing a strong senate, which will encourage provinces to look at the common good of the country,” he said.
The IFP constitutional model would further entrench regional disparities created by the apartheid system of ‘balkanisation’. It would militate against any attempts to uplift the poorest areas of the country, including those in KwaZulu/Natal.
Ramaphosa said the economic model put forward by the IFP couldn’t work: “The business community is unhappy with the IFP model”.
Political Mileage From A Tragedy
The IFP – and many other groups – have for the last year tried to extract maximum political mileage from the tragedy which occurred outside the ANC’s Shell House headquarters in March last year.
Again the issue has been raised – in parliament and in the media – not to demand a full and unbiased investigation into the more than 50 deaths that were related to the IFP action that day, but to paint the ANC as an aggressive, intolerant, even murderous, organisation.
For example, the Citizen editorial of 29 March this year says the IFP marchers who were shot at outside Shell House were “ambushed”. This baseless claim – couched in emotive language – does not match the events of the day. Yet it is typical of the kind of commentary which has been taking place over the last year, and which in most cases presents a gross misrepresentation of the facts.
An examination of the development of events in the Johannesburg city centre on Monday 28 March 1994 reveals just how inaccurate these views are. The following summary of events is drawn from statements by the ANC secretary general, the accounts of ANC leaders inside the building at the time and witnesses inside and outside Shell House: At 9am General Calitz advised ANC leaders by phone that the situation outside ANC headquarters was completely under control and that there was no cause for concern. Meanwhile senior ANC security officials were advising the police that there were heavily armed IFP members immediately outside Shell House, and that there was no police presence. A cordon was urgently requested.
At 10.30am General Calitz and Colonel Gous came to Shell House and again a cordon was requested. At this stage a man among the IFP members outside Shell House was pointed out, because he was carrying an AK47 and behaving provocatively.
Shortly thereafter a small contingent of five members each of the SAP and SADF arrived at Shell House. Before any shooting at Library Gardens, hundreds of marchers were gathered in Plein Street facing Shell House. Several thousand more marchers began converging on Shell House from both King George and De Villiers Streets. Shots were fired by the marchers at ANC security personnel who were patrolling on foot. The ANC guards refused to go inside the building, saying that in the absence of police protection they would then be unable to prevent the marchers from occupying Shell House.
Shots were fired at the guards. The bullet marks are clearly visible on the walls and the underside of the parapet of Shell House. In response, the security personnel fired warning shots.
Only when the marchers were approximately 15 metres from the security guards – and were clearly paying no heed to the warning shots – was the order to open fire in self defence given.
The guards were clearly in a life-threatening situation. If they did not prevent the marchers from gaining access to Shell House, no one else was in a position to do so. The guards were also aware that leaders of the ANC, such as Walter Sisulu and Thabo Mbeki were inside the building.
The ANC made every effort to protect the lives of all the people involved, in the face of a gross dereliction of duty by the police. The IFP’s decision to march on that day, and the manner in which it went about its action, was clearly an attempt to provoke confrontation and cause maximum disruption. The march itself was far from peaceful, with approximately 50 deaths and many more injuries recorded on that day.
With voter registration officially over, Duncan Harford analyses the registration figures and examines some of the factors which influenced the relatively low percentage.
The official period for local government voter registration ended on Monday 5 June. Final figures on the numbers of people who had registered were not available at the time of going to press. However, estimates released by the Elections Task Group (ETG) ranged from 62 percent in the worst case scenario to 76 percent in the best case scenario. While these figure showed an encouraging increase from the figures issued in the middle of May, they are dissapointing for the country as a whole – and the ANC specifically.
Although many democracies around the world are notorious for low voter turn-out in local government elections, a number of factors compunded this trend in South Africa.
The political situation in KwaZulu/Natal, where under 50 percent of the estimated number of eligible voters had registered by 24 May, fuelled by the IFP’s threats to withhold the cooperation of the chiefs is perhaps the single most important reason for the low registration figures in the province. Although there were some concerns raised by traditional leaders in the Eastern Cape, the province did not have the same level of conflict as there was in KwaZulu/Natal. Nevertheless only 56 percent of the eligible voters had registered by the end of May.
One factor common to all the provinces was that the majority have historically been disenfranchised. There was therefore no experience of registration or voter’s rolls. Where local government had existed before, it was considered to be oppressive rather than empowering. This lessened people’s incentive to register.
Add to this that large numbers of potential voters were unable to read or write – up to 70 percent of people in the Northern Transvaal are functionally illiterate.
From surveys done for the ANC’s National Elections Team, a number of other factors emerged to explain people’s resistance to registering:
People thought that having voted in the April 1994 election, they were automatically registered.
Due to illiteracy, there was no understanding of the forms people were required to complete and therefore they were reluctant to sign.
The distinction between voting and registration was vague.
There was little understanding of the purpose of voting again.
Many people perceived no change in their lives since the last elections.
While it is accepted that the various political parties had to drive the registration process, the part played by the government through its advertising agency and the ETG must be questioned.
The campaign run for the government by the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, especially in the initial stages, was poor. A lot of their advertising was patronising and uninformative.
Clearly the most effective promotional tool in the hands of the government is President Mandela. Yet, he was never used by Saatchi & Saatchi to encourage people to register. The ANC, in one of its own initiatives, ran radio adverts nationwide in which Mandela urged people to register. The ANC did not have sufficient funds, however, to run the adverts for longer than two weeks.
Don’t Forget to Check the Voters Roll
Now that the deadline for registering voters is past, the main challenge for ANC branches, activists and members of the public is to check that all eligible voters are listed correctly on the draft voters roll.
The voter’s roll is a list of all the voters in a local council area. This list is divided into separate lists for each ward. The voters roll is drawn up prior to the election so that there is sufficient time to check that all the people on the roll are qualified to be voters. The voters roll will show the surname, name, address and ID number of all the voters registered in that council area.
The voters roll officer in your area must publish a list of the dates, times and places where you can go and inspect the voters roll. It is very important that all individuals check to see that their name, ID number and address details appear on the voters roll and that they are correct. ANC Branches should also help to check as many of the voters rolls as possible. Branches should check that their member’s names appear on the voters roll and that their are no factual errors. In addition voters rolls should be checked for duplications and any sign of cheating.
Any mistakes or inconsistencies that are found on the voters roll must be reported to the Voters Roll Officer, whose must ensure that voters rolls are correct in all possible aspects.
On election day you have to go to the closest voting station in your area and show your ID to the official at the door. If your name is on the voter’s roll, you will be allowed to vote there. The officials will draw a line through your name so that you cannot vote again in the election. Your name will only be on the roll at one voting station, that is the voting station where you must cast your vote.
Remember the following important dates for checking the voters roll:
5 June 1995: Last day for registration
24 June to 7 July: Draft roll open for public inspection at council offices. Corrections and additions or objections to names on the roll must be made.
14 – 17 July: List of additions and objections open for public inspection. Further objections can be made.
2 – 29 July: Revision Court sits to hear objections to names on the roll.
30 July: Voters roll is signed and certified by the Revision Court.
Last Chance to Register
If you find that your name is not on the voters roll when it is published for public scrutiny on 24 June, it will still be possible for you to get your name onto the roll.
Provision has been made for corrections and additions to be made to the voters roll up until the 7 July. This means that registration is effectively possible up until that date.
All voters are urged to take advantage of this provision. If your name does not appear on the voters roll, complete the necessary forms to ensure registration.
Further information on where you can check the voters roll will be available in the press, from your local ANC branch and from the voters roll officer in your area.
Mayibuye’s nice, but…
Congratulations on your colourful and aesthetically beautiful issue of MAYIBUYE (May 1995). Not only is it affordable, but it is also user- friendly.
I hope you will now consider introducing some articles which are written in accessible language, rather than in the ponderous style which seems to be the preferred norm. I have no doubt that most comrade would appreciate being part of political discourse on issues which affect them in the kind of language they can understand.
Thank you for your comments. They have been noted and hopefully some movement in that direction will soon take place – Ed.
Problems with crime, abortion and joblessness
I do appreciate what the new government and the chosen cabinet members are doing for the new South Africa.
I would like to bring up some major questions:
1. I and many South Africans vote against abortion. I think no matter what the situation is for females in South Africa, they should consider giving their child for adoption because there are many women out there who cannot have children.
2. The number of pick-pockets has increased, especially in central Durban and they choose Fridays to attack working class people. I think that the number of police on duty should be increased on Fridays.
3. I have put applications to more than 50 companies from March to September last year, but my application was unsuccessful each time. The reason being that I do not have enough training and experience. I have only studied for one year. I completed a secretarial course. I wish that many companies would consider giving us young people a chance to prove ourselves and to learn the business trade. I could not complete my two year course because I did not have the finance, but I would like to upgrade my education.
ANC would win Jo’burg anyway
I strongly disagree with the claims from several quarters that the ANC is rigging the Johannesburg MSS areas in order to win the local government elections in the metropolitan area. I am quite confident that the ANC would win it anyway.
The real problem which parties like the National Party and Democratic Party have is that the new council boundaries would encourage a more equitable distribution of resources among all the residents of Johannesburg. The NP and DP want to maintain the vast discrepancies in spending that presently exist between the leafy suburbs and the townships. Like Inkatha’s federal plans, these parties want to largely maintain the status quo in terms of distribution of wealth between and among areas of this country.
I am disappointed also in the way that the media has chosen to cover the debate. They have devoted almost all their coverage to those people who are against the plan, giving them free rein to vent their spleen. I have yet to see a newspaper, TV or radio programme which attempts a sober analysis of what the benefits of such a plan would be.
Kindly publish this endeavour to motivate Africans to be serious about their freedom:
Freedom, freedom come;
Surely ye have arrived politically
Out of mother’s womb through struggle
Struggle of psyche
Physically and psychologically wiped out.
Out; out of the black mind
What remains id Psychological freedom;
Psychological freedom coupled with economic muscle.
Fail we not!
Economic power must reign in the minds of the downtrodden
Lest we fall into the quagmire
A quarry of perpetual death
Mayibuye the North
Beyond the tragic deaths at Vaal Reefs Mine, lies a daily pattern of death and injury on South Africa’s mines, reports Steyn Speed.
The death of 104 miners at the Vaal Reefs Mine in Orkney last month – South Africa’s biggest mining disaster since the 1986 Kinross fire – drew critical public attention to an industry which in 1993 claimed the lives of 578 workers – an average of 1.5 deaths a day. In the same year 8,532 miners were seriously injured.
“People act as if the mining industry was in harmony before the Vaal Reefs disaster,” Sazi Jonas of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said, “yet injuries and death occur in the industry on an almost daily basis.”
The accident at Vaal Reefs coincided with the release of the Leon Commission report on safety and health in the mining industry, which described health and safety provisions on mines and related legislation as woefully inadequate. The commission found the rates of death and injury on South African mines “unacceptably high”.
The Vaal Reefs accident occurred when a runaway locomotive plummeted down a shaft crashing into a lift cage carrying workers down for the night shift. The weight of the locomotive snapped the lift cables, and the cage plummeted half a kilometre to the bottom of the shaft. The government declared a national day of mourning for the miners which were killed, and established a commission of inquiry into the disaster.
NUM has said that the accident happened purely through the negligence of the employer, pointing to the absence of safety devices and the lack of supervision in the workplace at the time. “If the mine was sticking to standards, the accident wouldn’t have happened,” Jonas said. As NUM’s health and safety education coordinator, Jonas said the accident pointed to broader safety problems in the South African mining industry. Many of these problems have been identified in the Leon Commission report.
Gold mining in South Africa is particularly hazardous because of the depth of mines and the narrowness of the gold reefs. In order to extract the ore, excessively long stope faces have developed, creating long and tenuous lines of communication. This has made South African mines particularly susceptible to rock falls and rock bursts. Mining in South Africa is also labour intensive, with little opportunity for increasing mechanisation. Working conditions in mines also made workers vulnerable to occupational diseases like Tuberculosis and lung disease. According to one submission before the Leon Commission, an 18 year old man starting a career in mining at the stope face would have a 30 to 50 percent chance of being permanently disabled from accident or disease.
NUM also maintains, and is supported in this by the commission report, that the workforce is not properly trained around occupational safety. This, it says, is one of the major contributing factors in most accidents. “Employers see safety as their prerogative alone, without trying to get contributions from workers themselves,” Jonas said. He said workers were often kept in the dark about information relating to safety.
The commission also identified the general lack of education and the multiplicity of languages spoken by miners as an obstacle to effective safety training. It recommended that all mining companies “take every opportunity” to advance the cause of adult education. It also said the teaching of English would be a practical way of developing a common language of communication.
The report concluded that training processes in the mining industry were inadequate considering the demands of the industry, and when compared to those used in other countries. It suggested that existing training schemes should be revamped; induction training should involve more supervised ‘hands-on’ training; and that the existing workforce should undergo a retraining and retesting programme.
Mine owners needed to respect the rights of workers with regard to decision-making on safety matters, Jonas said. He said that unlike many other industries, mineworkers did not have the right to elect their own safety representatives. The Leon Commission also recognised this as a major problem and suggested the establishment of a formalised system of health and safety representatives at each mine, with at least one representative per 100 non-managerial employees. It recommended that consultative Mine Health and Safety Committees be established on each mine with equal representation from management and workplace representatives. The commission also suggest the establishment of a Mine Health and Safety Council, comprised of management, worker and government representatives, to advise the Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs on matters relating to health and safety in the mines.
Perhaps most far-reaching among the commission’s recommendations is the immediate drafting of an act which will be devoted to regulating health and safety only in the mining industry. The commission also suggest the main principles of the legislation and its basic structure. NUM’s Jonas was confident that the government would take the report seriously and pass legislation on some of the major issues raised: “The union must use this opportunity to lobby people in government to support the view the union is putting forward.”
In doing so, NUM will have its targets set not only preventing a disaster of the magnitude of Vaal Reefs, but also on bringing an end to the individual deaths which occur on mines daily.
Hailed as a milestone in the economic development of South Africa, Nedlac is getting down to the difficult business of finding consensus around key social and economic issues, writes Steyn Speed.
The National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) represents a major advance in the democratisation of the economy. The council brings together business, labour and government to try reach consensus – and, significantly, make agreements – on economic policy.
Building on the process of cooperation begun in the National Manpower Commission and the National Economic Forum, Nedlac provides the country with new opportunities for managing its economy cooperatively. Nedlac has a broader social base than its predecessors; community and development organisations are included in the Nedlac’s Development Chamber and in the Executive Council. It also has to consider a broader range of social and economic issues, and there is greater pressure on the various constituencies to reach consensus within themselves and receive proper mandates from their members.
Yet perhaps, the real significance of the council lies in what it needs to achieve. “Ultimately, Nedlac has to find a way to combine social equity – that is to redress historical imbalances – with programmes to generate growth and democratise society and decision-making,” says Ebrahim Patel, overall convenor for labour in Nedlac.
This sentiment is echoed in Nedlac’s founding document, published at its launch in February, which commits the parties to “jointly promote the goals of economic growth, increased participation in economic decision- making and social equity”. In this sense, Nedlac is one of the major instances, outside of changes in government, in which South African society is becoming more democratic.
In addition to involving the “big three” economic stakeholders – business, labour and government – Nedlac includes other structures of civil society in the chamber dealing with development programmes and strategies. The process of deciding which organisations should be included in the development constituency has not been finalised. However, an organisation should represent a significant community interest on a national basis; have a direct interest in development and reconstruction; and operate and be constituted democratically.
Labour minister Tito Mboweni says the inclusion of civil society puts into action collective decision-making “which carries legitimacy among all our people”.
The main work and negotiations in Nedlac happen in the four chambers, which each deal with specific aspects of the council’s mandate. The chambers are: Labour Market; Trade and Industry; Public Finance and Monetary Policy and Development. Business, labour and government are represented equally in the first three chambers, while the development constituency has representation only in the Development Chamber.
The Labour Market Chamber has focussed mainly on the proposed Labour Relations Bill, which so far has been the issue around which there has been least agreement. The differences between business and labour over key clauses of the bill remained unresolved after the chamber’s 25 May meeting. Ebrahim Patel says the bill is the most critical issue before the chamber at the moment: “It is an empowering piece of legislation which will formalise and institutionalise trade union power. It will enable unions to have an ongoing role in economic policy at a number of levels.”
The Trade and Industry Chamber is focussed largely on international trade relations and trade policy, investment policy and industrial restructuring. The priority for labour is to develop policy which takes into account the “social dimension” of trade and industry. They have tabled a proposal to entrench a social clause into all trade agreements reached with other countries, in which they agree to guarantee workers basic human rights. These include the right to join a trade union, to bargain collectively, to eliminate child labour and to end discrimination in the workplace.
Labour is also developing proposals for a ‘Social Plan Act’ which is “a way to manage the human consequences of industrial restructuring”. If accepted by Nedlac, the resulting legislation will ensure that changes in industries are anticipated and that workers are prepared for them through, among other things, providing training for workers in skills that can be used outside that particular industry.
Patel says the guiding principle for the Trade and Industry Chamber is that growth should be promoted, but not through the repression of workers: “We don’t want an economy whose progress is financed by worker exploitation.”
One of the main issues being dealt with in the Public Finance and Monetary Policy Chamber is the development of the 1996/97 budget. Because the last two budgets have been largely restricted by the processes and priorities of the previous government, it hasn’t been possible to use the full budget for the process of democratisation. There is a feeling among several groups that the budget needs to reflect as soon as possible the changed priorities of government, and that the country can’t afford to wait until the next election to do this. The budget needs to direct more money into social spending, particularly towards effective delivery for the poor.
The Development Chamber met for the first time at the beginning of May, and therefore does not yet have a programme as developed as the other chambers. According to Nedlac executive director Jayendra Naidoo the chamber’s brief is to address all matters pertaining to urban and rural development; implementation strategies; financing of development programmes and campaigns to mobilise the nation behind the RDP.
Patel says the Development Chamber needs “as its first priority to find ways for communities to develop a real sense of co-ownership around basic issues like housing and health”. He says Nedlac is the opportunity to generalise debate on issues which up until now had been restricted to specialists with narrow interests.
Nedlac will undoubtedly also have an impact on the constituent sectors themselves. It will demand greater unity and more effective organisation within constituencies. Each constituent body will need to ensure that it is indeed representative of all sectors within its ambit. Labour and development organisations, in particular, will need to develop their capacity to participate in Nedlac at a level which is on par with government and business.
Differences over the Labour Relations Bill indicate that their are still a number of areas of vast divergence among the stakeholders in our economy. However, Nedlac provides the best opportunity yet to work together in the common interest. As Cosatu president John Gomomo said at the Nedlac launch: “They come together not because a law was passed which says they will, but because they all feel they can gain more by negotiating, and they all feel they will lose more by not negotiating.” As long as that remains the case, Nedlac will be an institution able to produce consensus and provide the economic direction which this country needs.
Yusuf Cachalia, the former secretary general of the South African Indian Congress (SAIC), died at his home in Johannesburg on Tuesday 9 May 1995.
Cachalia, who was joint secretary of the ANC/SAIC planning committee during the defiance campaign of the 1950s, together with his wife Amina, were among the 8,000 volunteers arrested and jailed during the campaign.
He was banned under the Riotous Assemblies Act and then the Suppression of Communism Act for 27 years. In addition he spent 10 years under house arrest in Fordsburg, Johannesburg.
Despite this harsh conditions Cachalia worked ceaselessly behind the scenes. He was one of the members of the five person committee which drafted the Freedom Charter.
After his unbanning in 1977 he once again took up a prominent role in struggle politics by leading resistance to the tricameral parliament. Cachalia was a personal friend of President Nelson Mandela and former ANC deputy president Walter Sisulu. He is survived by his widow, a daughter, two sons and several grandchildren.
The debate over the privatisation of state assets is often heated, occasionally emotive and largely confusing. Mziwakhe Hlangani tries to unbundle a complex issue.
Privatisation – the sale of state assets to private interests – was in the early 1990s at the centre of the dispute between the NP and the democratic movement over unilateral economic restructuring.
These days there appears to be a growing consensus among the parties in the Government of National Unity about the need to privatise some state assets. Yet underlying this apparent consensus are major differences about the extent, mechanisms and purpose of privatisation. Last October, the Cabinet announced a six-point plan to transform the public sector. It included the possibility of privatisation of government assets – ranging from surplus cars, other equipment and buildings, to major parastatals like Transnet and Eskom.
Earlier this year the cabinet established a task group, chaired by the Department of Public Works, to prepare a preliminary discussion document on the restructuring of state assets and public enterprises “with a view to empowering our people who have been severely disadvantaged in the past and in such a way that the state assets and the public enterprises make the maximal contribution to the realisation of the aims and objectives of the RDP”.
Foreign and local business see the cabinet’s commitment to restructuring a bit differently. They see it as a chance to revive the previous regime’s programme of privatising all the major parastatals. Their support for privatisation – and their extensive lobbying for it – is because they see for themselves a range of new opportunities: substantial fees from facilitating the sale of big companies; a chance to take over profitable functions of the parastatals; greater foreign investment and more stock exchange activity.
Business seems intent on overselling the benefits of privatisation. They suggest privatisation is necessary for business confidence, and therefore unavoidable.
In a recent research report, Cosatu’s National Labour and Economic Development Institute (Naledi) cautions against some of the assumptions of the current privatisation debate.
Naledi identifies serious flaws in the current restructuring process. It concludes that the arguments for privatising major parastatals are inadequate, though the sale of other government assets could have some positive results.
Selling government assets cannot raise enough to end pressure on the budget. The probable net revenues would cover payments on government debt for only a year.
In under-developed and developing countries privatisation generally prevents the extension on a large scale of services to the poor. Parastatal profits are too low for regulatory pressures to work unless the government also provides a subsidy, the report says.
Privatisation of the large utilities may well counter government efforts to create jobs and raise investments. The study also indicates that past commercialisation policies to prepare for privatisation account for most of the fall in government investment over the past four years, and for at least a fifth of the decline in formal sector employment.
Transferring parastatal shares to the black community will probably not spread economic power, although it could improve income distribution. If the labour movement accepted shares in privatised enterprises, it could suffer both from conflicts of interest and from a lack of real control.
Since parastatals already raise large sums on foreign bond markets, it is likely that privatising these institutions may not attract substantial extra foreign investment.
Naledi says that restructuring the parastatals should aim to minimise the burden on government finances and administrative capacity while ensuring that national aims are met at the lowest possible cost.
There is concern also about who is primarily involved in the restructuring process. It is charged that officials from the previous government retain great influence in decision-making about the privatisation process. The Office of Public Enterprise and Privatisation has taken on the role of analysing the value of particular state assets, while parastatals managers feel free, under existing commercialisation policies, to sell off resources to raise cash, independent of broader restructuring initiatives.
Until now the development of government policy on privatisation has been largely restricted to cabinet committees and the Department of Public Enterprises. However, the Ministry of Public Enterprises has indicated that once the draft documents are approved by cabinet they will serve the basis for further debate within the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), trade unions, parliamentary select committees, organised commerce and industry and other interested stakeholders.
The ministry emphasises that it wants the process to be as transparent and democratic as possible: “The intention of the Department of Public Enterprises is to ensure the broadest possible national consensus on an issue of critical strategic national importance before the government moves forward on this issue.” Given the diversity of view and interests in the country, this will not be an easy task.
The mission statement of the rugby development programme commits itself to developing the game of Rugby Football so that: “current players are retained for the game, new players are recruited through the game, and the public at large and sponsors are drawn to the game. “And towards this end to create a programme of development and upliftment of the game of rugby football, with particular reference to human and physical resources development, and redressing of social imbalances pertaining thereto.”
The infrastructure is already in place with each province establishing a Provincial Development Committee and appointing directors of development or development officers.
The SARFU approach to developing human resources relies on courses, clinics and competitions. Eighty-two development matches will be played this year, with the emphasis on the Under 23 and Under 21 teams.
The South African development team will be sent to the Africa Tournament, the SA rural team will tour Zimbabwe for its centenary celebrations and an international coaching conference will be hosted by the Northern and Western Transvaal rugby academies in association with Sarfu.
Four national tournaments will be held for school and junior players between the middle of June and the beginning of October. These include the traditional Craven Week for the top school teams in the country. Sarfu has also introduced an SA Fish Factories Tournament which will be held in October every year at Veldrif on the Cape west coast.
R1 million worth of Rugby World Cup tickets will be made available to children from the development communities who are involved in rugby.
With all eyes on the 1995 Rugby World Cup, David Adams tracked down SARFU rugby development director Josias ‘Sas’ Bailey to ask him about the next generation of ‘bokke.
MAYIBUYE: The unification process which led to the formation of Sarfu (South African Rugby Football Union) relied on a commitment to rugby development. Has much been achieved through the development programme?
Josias Bailey: Development is still regarded as one of the founding pillars on which Sarfu has been established. The former Saru [South African Rugby Union] was instrumental in the creation of one united, non-racial, democratic rugby body in South Africa, accessible to all persons interested in playing the game of rugby.
Through its rugby development programme, SARFU is creating playing opportunities for all rugby players from grassroots to national level. Great strides have already been made in bringing our junior players through, to play at provincial, national and international level – such as at the Junior Rugby World Championships in France in 1994 and in Romania in 1995.
MAYIBUYE: Some people maintain that in some provinces there are shortcomings in the development programme. What are the difficulties?
JB: Development is not a one-off event, but an ongoing process of creating the necessary opportunities and thereby redressing the imbalances of the past. Basic difficulties and challenges experienced are a lack of facility infrastructure, equipment and kit experienced by the players from the disadvantaged communities. A lot has already been done to alleviate these challenges.
MAYIBUYE: Some people say that rugby clinics, like the recent one in Khayelitsha, are merely “window dressing”. Are they?
JB: The clinics are definitely not window dressing. It is an ongoing process and they [the players] will regularly conduct clinics in disadvantaged areas when they meet for training camps. They will be visible across the nation, as South African rugby must actively embrace and encourage all South Africans.
MAYIBUYE: Do you think that black players like Alistair Coetzee have gained something from the development programme?
JB: Alistair Coetzee was introduced to the opportunities that rugby can provide at a very late stage in his career. He represented SARFU at a national level in the SA Development and Junior Springbok team.
MAYIBUYE: Is it true that the development programme doesn’t exist in the rural areas of our country where rugby is being played?
JB: All rugby provinces throughout South Africa have their provincial rugby development programmes, which they must run on a daily basis. The message to them is clear – opportunities must be created and be accessible to all rugby players and persons interested in playing rugby in their area. There is however a lot that still needs to be done to identify facilities which need upgrading or have to be established, as this will help in bringing rugby to life in our disadvantaged communities.
MAYIBUYE: Are you proud on your achievements thus far, and what are the future plans?
JB: Yes, the South African Rugby Football Union’s development programme was firmly established in 1994 and I am proud to say that most of our objectives were met during 1994.
The acceptance by the executive committee that a national rugby academy be established will contribute towards the refinement and improvement of our national rugby development programmes. The elite players at the respective levels and from all communities can, inter alia, be given specialised and scientific assistance, to improve their level of performance and enhance their level of preparedness.
The staging of the World Cup will also significantly contribute to further popularise rugby in South Africa. South Africa has a wealth of talent – especially among those youngsters who have not yet had an opportunity to become fully involved in rugby and the World Cup Rugby will stimulate the interest for the sport also at grassroots level.
I echo the sentiments of Dr Louis Luyt that Sarfu’s national playing structure and comprehensive development programme can make rugby a game to be enjoyed be everyone in South Africa and restore our position as one of the world’s leading rugby nations.
Trees for Africa, a South African non-governmental organisation, was last month elected by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to its Global 500 Roll of Honour for advancing the cause of environmental protection through its community-owned projects.
Trees for Africa (TFA), the only national greening organisation in South Africa, raises funds from corporations, funding organisations and citizens to assist in the improvement of the quality of life in townships, curb soil erosion in rural areas and create environmental awareness. Since its formation, TFA has planted almost a quarter of a million trees at 1,000 events throughout the country.
TFA promotes education, training and youth development through educational workshops and tree planting projects. Although strong on grassroots involvement, TFA would not survive without the support of sponsors. Corporations, small businesses and individuals have given money, goods and expertise that have been pivotal in its work.
“In honouring these environmentalists, UNEP seeks to encourage and mobilise the creative energies of individuals and organisations alike in defense of the environment. It is often at the community level where action to conserve the environment acquires its full meaning,” said UNEP executive director Elizabeth Dowdeswell.
Trees for Africa is among 27 individuals and organisations from around the world, including seven in the youth category, honoured this year for their dedication to the environmental cause.
“The winners of this year’s Global 500 Roll of Honour have once again shown that individuals who follow their own path can succeed and at times even work miracles,” Dowdeswell said. “Their achievements should be seen in the context of the magnitude of challenges that they face such as the sheer power of entrenched institutions or the revolutionary task of reordering priorities.”
Some 590 individuals and organisations have been honoured since UNEP launched the Global 500 award in 1987. Among prominent past winners are French marine explorer Jaques Cousteau; environmental television producer David Attenborough; Chico Mendes, the Brazilian rubber tapper who was murdered during his fight to save the Amazon forest; the Green Belt Movement in Kenya; and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
To forge global links and to implement ideas which can contribute to a more sustainable future, a network of all Global 500 laureates has been formed.
South African youth will have something new to celebrate this June 16, writes Mziwakhe Hlangani and Steyn Speed.
June 16, for close on two decades the symbol of youth strength and resistance, will this year take on a new dimension. Not only will the form of celebrations be different in 1995 from previous years, but youth now have something new to celebrate.
This year’s June 16 celebrations coincide, almost to the day, with a summit to discuss draft legislation for a National Youth Commission. In terms of the draft legislation, the commission would guide the process of developing national youth policy, and would advise the deputy president on matters relating to, and affecting, youth.
The proposed commission represents a major advance for youth in South Africa, who have never before had direct access to government, and who are, to a large extent, alienated from the mainstream of society.
The decision to establish a youth commission came from deputy president Thabo Mbeki, and is being coordinated by the special advisor on youth in the education ministry, Sheila Sisulu. The commission legislation is the outcome of a process over the last couple of years to unite youth organisation around common concerns and programmes. The launch of the National Youth Development Forum was one of the high points of this process.
The proposed legislation recognises that as one of South Africa’s largest population groups, youth face particular challenges and have particular needs which the country needs to acknowledge. It identifies the need to “create a youth development policy aimed at reversing youth marginalisation by empowering youth and allowing them to reach their full potential through a sound basic education and to be afforded optimal access to the job market”.
ANC Youth League president Lulu Johnson says that this is the spirit which is guiding this year’s celebration. He says the nature of activities are geared towards the delivery of the Reconstruction and Development Programme.
“The mood should be celebratory, rather than having commemorative political rallies. In each area the main focus will be around the cleaning- up and renovation of schools. Depending on the needs of an area, the focus will shift between health – promoting Aids awareness – job creation and free political activity,” Johnson says.
Young people need to demonstrate on 16 June that they are shouldering the responsibility of becoming aware of the necessity of safe sex in containing the Aids virus, he says.
Youth will also be drawing attention to the problem of political violence, crime and gangsterism. They will be committing themselves to a crime- free society and aim to intensify the campaign for perpetrators of violence to be brought to justice.
Another aspect of June 16 activities will be the focus on achieving gender equality among youth. Lesanne Schwellnus of the Young Women’s Network says that women in youth organisations find it difficult to get their concerns onto the agenda of their organisations. “Overwhelming male membership of most youth organisations is another source of frustration for young women,” Schwellnus says.
These are among the challenges which the National Youth Commission will have to address when established. Under the proposed legislation this would involve generating a national plan for the development of youth, which is integral to the RDP. It would include making recommendations to the government on principles and guidelines for the development and implementation of a national youth policy. The commission would also need to ensure that there is effective coordination and cooperation between the various institutions dealing with matter affecting youth.
The commission’s brief would include formulating strategies to minimise youth involvement in crime and violence; address gender inequality; and provide resources for the promotion of a positive youth culture.
The members of the commission would be appointed by the deputy president after the public has been invited to put forward candidates. There would be a strong provincial representation in the commission. According to the draft legislation, the deputy president would have to take cognizance of gender and national diversity. Significantly, the proposed legislation gives the commission direct access to the deputy president and the cabinet.
The proposed legislation is still at an early stage. It still has to be considered by a broad Òtechnical summit” of organisations involved in youth affairs, before being formally tabled in parliament. Indications are that it could be enacted by the end of the year. And for all South African youth, that’s something to celebrate.
Copenhagen Youth Declaration
Over 180 young people from 72 countries met in Copenhagen, Denmark in March at the International Youth Consultation on Social Development, to assess the problems facing youth globally and to develop a programme of action to address youth marginalisation, racism and chauvinism, sexism, poverty and the spread of Aids, among other things. Reproduced here are extracts from the declaration of the conference.
Adopted at the International Youth Consultation on Social Development
We, the youth gathered in Copenhagen at the International Youth Consultation on Social Development, 3-5 March 1995, represent tens of millions of young people from the diverse youth organisations of the planet. We congregate in anticipation of the of the World Summit of heads of state and governments, to discuss our contribution – “The social rights and responsibilities of youth”.
This theme illustrates our recognition of both the responsibility and the potential that the youth possess, and the necessity of our participation in the social debate. The qualities and capacities of the young are indispensable to the realisation of the plans of today, and are the basis of the world tomorrow. The very identity of youth, transcending racial, religious, cultural and gender barriers, offers a universal and concrete foundation for social development.
“We have a vision of a world without economic injustice and dire social and individual needs: a world where all live in a spirit of mutual respect, cooperation, tolerance, peace and justice.”
This was our statement in Cairo, 1994: our statement here in Copenhagen, 1995, shows our continued support of this vision as well as the continued effort towards its fulfilment. At the same time we wish to deepen and broaden as its foundation the consciousness of the oneness of humankind. It is this deeply rooted global consciousness and strong identification as equal members of the same human family, that will ensure our commitment to the realisation of our aims, especially in a world of increasing intolerance and xenophobia accompanying the phenomenon of global population movements, we emphasise the need to eradicate racism and all prejudices from our societies. This global consciousness will reinforce our efforts to global action in addressing the problems of poverty, unemployment and social integration.
Development must mean investing in people to enable them to take charge of their own destiny. It must lead to a fulfilling and secure life for all. Development must be integrated and sustainable, that is to say utilise our resources to satisfy present needs without compromising the needs of future generations.
We, the youth, commit ourselves to the promotion and fulfilment of a new development paradigm. It is a political, economic, legal, ethical and spiritual vision, which fully respects all human rights, values and cultural backgrounds. The call is for unity in diversity. Our focus is action. Our time is now.
Youth Plan to Rebuild South Africa
A bold new student initiative could change the face of education in South Africa, and involve youth in the RDP on a large scale. David Makhura of the SA Students’ Congress explains the concept.
Tertiary students are a national resource which for many years has gone largely untapped. A new proposal by Sasco to establish ‘RDP Brigades’ is perhaps the key to unleashing that potential, and to give practical expression to the people-driven nature of the RDP.
The RDP emphasises that development should prioritise people not profits: meeting the basic needs of people such as housing, health care, education, clean water and sanitation, electrification, job creation, safe environment, safety and security and roads and transport. Achieving this is a collective effort. The people should drive this process through popular participation in governance, as well as through their own community- based mass organisations.
Tertiary students can play a catalytic role in tackling the problem of illiteracy facing almost 15 million South African adults. Medical students can be deployed in rural primary health care clinics to do their practicals among the country’s most deprived communities. Law students can also be deployed in the countryside to educate people about the importance of participating in the constitution-making process, land claims court, women’s rights, children’s rights, local government and the Bill of Rights. Architecture and engineering students can also play an important role as part of their practical work in housing, electrification, road construction, water purification etc. No field of study should be left out.
There are two key advantages for students to begin to do reconstruction and development work while they are still studying at a college, university or technikon:
The more students are exposed to real conditions outside their lecture halls, the more practical competence they will gain.
If more practical and skill-oriented work is directly related to meeting the basic needs of the RDP, students will be able to justify the call for government funding to be increased.
The more students do community work, the more they make sense of what is meant by irrelevant curricula. It is through their daily contact with conditions outside the comfort of lecture rooms, that students will come to support the transformation of tertiary institutions. Transformation of the consciousness of students is an aspect of social transformation which is often ignored.
If students – black and white, men and women, rural and urban – participate in the reconstruction and development process fully, their world view will considerably change. For instance, if urban students can spend some weeks in the outlying areas of Natal or Northern Transvaal teaching literacy classes or doing primary health care practicals, they will understand better why access to clean water is so necessary. It is this view of the world which will liberate our demands for more funding from appearing as if they are only made by a self-interested elite that has no sense of national priorities.
Motivated by these factors, Sasco is spearheading the establishment country-wide of RDP Students Brigades. These brigades should not be for Sasco members only. They should comprise all student volunteers, student organisations, SRCs, student faculty councils and any other stakeholders. They should be structured according to field of study. They will be coordinated regionally and nationally as well as across the institutions. At a national and provincial level, there will a Brigades Coordinating Councils (BCC) which will consist of student organisations, government, labour, business, civics and adminstration representatives. While other stakeholders are going to play a role, these brigades should be driven by the tertiary student population, which is estimated at about 700,000. Ways should be found in which youth other than students can play a role.
Our emphasis is that students who do work in the brigades should be credited as well as getting financial assistance. SASCO believes that the time has come for all tertiary students who are committed to the country’s development to join the RDP Brigades in their institutions. We can no longer develop only ourselves at the expense of the poor and deprived sections of tax-payers. We need to make a direct contribution as students to their social upliftment.