Volume 7 No. 10
1 November 1996
- A look at events which made news in October
- Provincial Briefs
- The SA School Act: A major break through
- Sizing-up the public service
- Let us build together
- Reinforcing organisational policy
- ANC Youth League: A youthful 52
- Primary health care tops the agenda
- Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill 1996
- McNally: Thrusts towards justice?
- Why USA hostilities against Cuba don’t end
- Taking on the challenge
- New legislation ensures access to government records
- Nafcoc on affirmative action
- Book Review
Tipping the scales of justice
South Africa’s courtrooms have been sites of struggle for decades. Under apartheid, they were the scene of countless brave battles, where heroes, of the people were prosecuted by an illegitimate government, under the law of a system described as “a crime against humanity”.
]There is a strange irony in the fact that, in recent months, some of the key figures in the apartheid security establishment people who played a key role in trying to ensure the survival of that illegitimate regime have found themselves on trial.
The circle has indeed turned a full circle.
There is, however, a strange irony in the fact that, just as many struggle heroes were able to escape the cells, so Magnus Malan and his cronies were able to walk out of the Durban Supreme Court as free men.
We cannot ignore the sense of anger and frustration which exists among our people because of this. We cannot ignore the pain of the families of the KwaMakhutha massacre victims who find that officially, at least no-one is responsible for the Third Force’s orgy of mass murder.
But then there is Eugene de Kock the one who didn’t get away.
The irony here is that one of the men who lived by the regimes murderous principles (or lack principles) has himself been “permanently removed from society”. Except that, some of his victims, Eugene de Kock wasn’t gunned down with his wife in his driveway, stabbed 40 times with a knife, strapped to a landmine, poisoned, or set alight in a taxi. His brains were not blown out with a booby-trapped tape recorder, nor was he buried in a shallow unmarked grave. He wasn’t tortured with a rubber inner-tube, he didn’t have electric shocks on his private parts, nor was his head held under water until he drowned. Nor, for that matter, did he slip on a bar of soap.
Eugene de Kock was not the victim of prime evil. We did not apply jungle justice to a man who perfected it. He was put on trial in a post-apartheid courtroom; this new society of ours, with its commitment to human rights and liberty, chose to deal with De Kock by putting him in the dock and forcing him to confess to his deeds (or, at least, to as many of his deeds as the state prosecutors were aware of). And he was sent to jail for life as a result.
There are still far too many tales of security force brutality which have not come out in recent court cases. There are still countless unexplained deaths, disappearances and acts of destruction.
Many names are still missing from the courtroom roll. Many faces are missing from the dock. They are the names and faces of the “Invisible Ones”, the political leaders who created and perfected the evil system of apartheid the people who made it all possible, yet who continue to deny complicity and ultimate responsibility.
It’s a bit like watching the closing credits appear on screen at the end of a movie. We’ve seen the names of some of the actors. We’ve seen the people responsible for building the sets and putting on the make-up.
Now we’re waiting for the final credits: the producers and the directors, the people who made it all happen. And so we wait, in keen anticipation, for the day the Groot Krokodil’s name comes on screen and he emerges from the Wilderness, along with his cronies, to face the final curtain.
A look at events which made news in October
Rural water supply trust launched
A R26.4 million trust to finance rural water supply projects was launched in Pretoria this month. This project is expected to finance about 100 water and sanitation projects over the next two years. The project, funded by the European Union, would target areas not yet covered by similar projects. According to the EU, the programme formed part of Mvula Trust, South Africa’s largest non-governmental organisation financing water supply and sanitation. The EU grant brings the total EU contribution to Mvula Trust to R74.9 million, after a R48.5 million grant made in 1992. This also formed part of the EU’s annual contribution of R600 million to the reconstruction and development programme until 1999. EU ambassador to South Africa, Erwan Fouere, said the programme would focus on infrastructure development and capacity building. It would also place emphasis on the involvement of local communities in addressing their development needs. Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Kader Asmal stressed the importance of local communities becoming involved in such programmes. “The policy of government is that communities do not have to depend on charity to meet their needs,” he said.
McNally refuses to prosecute alleged hitsquad members
KwaZulu-Natal Attorney-General, Tim McNally said on 24 October that he would not prosecute Inkatha Freedom Party members and former KwaZulu police implicated in hitsquad activities at Esikhawini in 1995. Two former KwaZulu police members, Romeo Mbambo and Gcina Mkhize, were convicted in the Durban Supreme Court by Mr Justice van der Reyden for killing ANC members at Esikhawini near Empangeni on the north coast. At the end of the trial, van der Reyden ordered an investigation into allegations that IFP members were responsible for establishing the hitsquad Mbambo and Mkhize operated in. The ANC said: “It sounds strange that Tim McNally should only now after the acquittal of Gen. Magnus Malan and others decide to announce that there will be no prosecution in the Esikhawini hitsquad case when Justice van der Reyden had called for the probe into the masterminds of that hitsquad about fifteen months ago.” Malan and 19 others were charged with the murder of 13 people, allegedly by a hitsquad, in KwaMakhutha south of Durban.
Cuban Health Minister arrives in South Africa
Cuban Health Minister Dr Carlos Docrates arrives in South Africa for a week-long visit. The Minister’s tour included visits to Cuban doctors working in the Northern Province, Western Cape, Mpumalanga and Gauteng. Docrates also met President Nelson Mandela and Deputy President Thabo Mbeki. During his visit to Cape Town, the minister also visited Robben Island, and the cell where President Mandela was held prisoner. The Minister held talks with Minister of Health, Dr Nkosazana Zuma. A declaration of intent, aimed at increasing co-operation between the two countries in the areas of health, including production of medicines, vaccination programmes and academic exchanges was signed.
SA flag returns from space
The South African flag, launched into space on 11 January this year with the crew of the Endeavour space shuttle, returned to the country on 28 October. The flag was brought back by American astronaut Winston Scott after travelling almost six million kilometres, more than 400km above the earth. Scott took the flag with him at the request of former Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Minister Ben Ngubane after visiting South Africa last year. The flag, still sealed in its plastic space wrapping, was accepted by Deputy President Thabo Mbeki at a function at the Union Building. Accepting the flag, Mbeki said that the gesture by a US astronaut to carry SA’s national flag into space signified the strong links between the two countries. He also said that taking the flag into space had made South Africa part of the modern world. Mbeki presented Scott with a model of a space craft made from wire by a Cape Town street youth who found out about the astronaut’s SA flag mission.
De Kock sentenced
Former Vlakplaas police base commander Col Eugene de Kock was on 30 November sentenced to two life sentences and 212 years imprisonment on 89 charges, including six of murder. After he was sentenced, de Kock’s lawyers confirmed that he had applied to the Truth Commission for armesty. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, however, warned that de Kock should not be the “fall guy” for those in higher authority when he committed his crimes. Truth and Reconciliation Commission chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu said the country needed to know the full truth on crimes against humanity to be able to heal. He also said that there were acts for which de Kock was found guilty which did not fall under the terms of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act.
Mandela appoints Labour Court Judges
President Nelson Mandela announced the names of the judges who would serve in the Labour Appeal Court and the Labour Court. The Labour Appeal Court judges include Judges E. Cameron, J.H. Conradie and C. R. Nicholson. Professor D. Basson and Advocate E. Revellas were appointed Labour Court judges. The appointments, according to Labour Minister Tito Mboweni, followed an extensive process of advertising and interviews by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) and the Judicial Service Commission. The Labour Court judges’ appointments took effect from 11 October for a 10-year period, and the Labour Appeal Court judges would take office from 11 November, also for a 10-year period.
The ANC-led alliance held a seminar to discuss the Macro-Economic Policy Framework and other policy issues.
The seminar was attended by the Provincial Executive Committee of the ANC, representatives from the SACP and Cosatu.
Papers were presented by Labour Minister Tito Mboweni, Cosatu’s Khumbula Ndaba and the SACP’s Langa Zitha, which formed the basis for a thorough discussion.
The seminar also received a report on the East Griqualand demarcation dispute between KwaZulu/Natal and the Eastern Cape and endorsed a decision by both provinces that ministries from both provinces should work together to find a mutually acceptable solution.
The province is preparing for its second provincial conference, to be held in Durban on 30 November. Six hundred delegates are expected to attend, including representatives from branches and regions, members of parliament and provincial executive committee members.
The ANC’s Provincial Executive Committee held a special strategic meeting to evaluate organisational progress and assess the state of the organisation in the province.
It agreed to develop mechanisms for reviving, strengthening and sustaining the tri-partite alliance in the province. It also looked at ways of strengthening branches so that they can play a constructive role in Local Development Forums, and campaigns around Masakhane, anti-crime and Aids awareness.
A Provincial General Council (PGC), attended by over 300 delegates from all ANC branches in the province, recently adopted two important resolutions pertaining to discipline within the organisation.
The PGC recognised that unity within the organisation is paramount to achieving the objectives of a free society, and resolved to rally behind the collective leadership of the ANC. It also called on branches to strengthen the organisation more vigorously in their respective localities.
The provincial conference was held from 27 to 29 September.
The conference noted that the province is halfway through the first five-year mandate in power and is implementing the RDP as a delivery mechanism during the transition. It emphasised that transformation of society and the implementation of the RDP remains the responsibility of the government, private sector and civil society.
A special RDP conference will be convened to take stock of performance over the past two and half years and focus on RDP projects for the remaining two and a half years. The same conference will also discuss the Provincial Growth, Development and Democracy Strategy and the Macro-Economic Strategy.
The SA School Act: A major break through
The SA Schools Bill is a historic piece of legislation that lays the basis for the realisation of our demands to implement peoples education in our schools. Dr Blade Nzimande, Chairperson of the Standing Committe on Education and ANC Member of Parliament writes.
Ten years ago, at the Second National Consultative Conference of the National Education Crisis Committee (NECC) held in Durban in March 1996, Zwelakhe Sisulu in his keynote address called for the ending of apartheid education and the establishment of a people’s education. This he defined as follows:
People’s education means education at the service of the people as a whole; education that liberates; education that puts the people in command of their lives…. When we fight and achieve democratic SRC’s and parents committees, we are starting to realise our demands that the people shall govern and that the doors of learning and culture shall be opened.
The historic 1986 conference mapped out the policy framework that has been legislated in the South African Schools Bill. The Bill establishes a single system of compulsory public education based on the principles of equity, redress of past inequalities, and re-establishment of a quality education for all, irrespective of race, sex, colour or creed.
By adopting this Bill, the whole legacy of Christian National apartheid education will be wiped away. Gone will be the hierarchy of public schools from model ‘c’ to farm schools. All model ‘c’ school land will be returned to the state, and those schools will have the same powers and functions as public schools in our communities.
In future there will be just two categories of schools public and independent, a change that will bring about the redress of funding and resources to those schools that have been least well provided by the state in the past.
The Bill makes access to compulsory education at all public schools a right to be enjoyed by all children. Any person either a parent or an employer, who keeps a child from school with no just cause is liable to criminal sanctions. The Bill establishes equal and non-discriminatory principles for the admission of pupils to a school, and it will no longer be possible for governing bodies to administer admission tests. But access is also essentially about affordability.
The ANC Education Policy Conference in March this year accepted the principle of fee paying in public schools, but this was linked to a threshold to exempt the children of poor parents from compulsory school fees. This is not a departure from our policy of free and compulsory education, but in the light of our scarce resources, our obvious starting point must be to introduce free and compulsory education firstly for the poor.
Most important to our achievement of people’s education, the Schools Bill will introduce democratically elected governing bodies to all 29 000 schools in our country. These governing bodies are at the heart of the transformation of the schools system. It is the ANC that has fought for fully democratic and representative governing bodies. The South African Schools Bill lays the basis for communities to meaningfully participate in building a culture of learning in our schools through these governance structures. These governing bodies will be made up primarily of parents, teachers, and in the case of high school learners, with parents comprising 50 percent plus one on all governing bodies. The Bill also recommends criteria for ensuring the highest practicable level of representativity on school governing bodies in terms of race and gender, as well as among stakeholder groups.
The Bill also provide for the establishment of a Representative Council of Learners at every public school at high school level. This is the realisation of the long struggle by students for representative SRC’s. All reference to the prefect system has been taken out of the Act. This does not mean that schools are prevented from having a prefect system, but it is the Learners Representative Council that is officially recognised in the legislation. It is these structures that will have the challenge of re-establishing a democratic culture of learning and discipline among school students.
The new Act prohibits corporal punishment at school, but makes provision for a code of conduct for learners, which will be adopted after consultation with learners, parents and educators at the school. This places a major responsibility with students and student organisations for creating a culture of discipline in our schools not a discipline that is enforced from above through the use of corporal punishment, but a code of discipline that is negotiated, and that is accepted as legitimate by all that is concerned. Of course, it is not just students, but teachers through the SACE (South African Council of Educators) code of conduct, and the parents who will share the responsibility for re-establishing discipline and learning in our schools.
The establishment of democratic and representative forms of governance in our schools embodies the concept of people’s education that has been developed within our movement. A concept which holds that people’s education is part of the broader political struggle to establish people’s power, based on the democratic participation of the people at a grassroots level. This was convincingly argued by George Mashamba in 1989: The new form of state organisation embodied within the ‘dispersed’ notion of people’s power will be different in both principle and practice to the apartheid state, and even to the Western bourgeois-democratic state. The new form of state, based on people’s power, will be adapted to the tasks of the rule of the people of South Africa as a whole. It is the notion of ‘people’s power’ that is central to the struggles waged within People’s Education. Organs of people’s power are the immediate on-the-ground mass organisations through which people are able to exercise their authority and control over a wide spectrum of different spheres of their lives.
This becomes critical at this time as we begin to establish a partnership between the government and the community to bring about real social transformation, a policy that is being spearheaded through the Masakhane Campaign. It is unfortunate that this campaign has been misunderstood as being simply about the obligation of the community to pay for services. We have to revitalise this campaign, and restore its central meaning, which is that the task of re-building must rest on the democratic participation of the people at grassroots level. It is not a top downwards transformation driven by government alone, but must be built on a partnership between the democratic government and the community. Historically, it was around the schools that parents, students and teachers have forged a powerful movement for social transformation. The struggle to re-establish a culture of learning through the school governing bodies must become central to the Masakhane Campaign.
The state of education in this country has never been more critical. Apartheid has left us a legacy of under-resourced schools and demoralised teachers and students. There is poor discipline in many schools, and parents play very little role in the education of their children. In response to this situation a decision has been taken to mount a nationwide and a sustained campaign to restore a culture of learning in our schools. The success of this campaign will depend crucially on the active participation of all our structures, and in particular parents, students and teachers, together with government at local, provincial and national level.
One of our great successes with the South African Schools Bill is that we have managed to achieve the greatest degree of democratic participation in the process of writing the Bill. The passage of this Bill was preceded by an investigation by the Hunter Commission, Education White Paper 2, countrywide consultations with governing bodies involving more than 30 000 people, as well as joint public hearings by the National Assembly and Senate education committees.
The South African Schools Bill has the backing of all the organisations of the democratic movement. It is essential that we now mobilise this support to launch the campaign to restore the culture of learning on our schools. The Schools Bill is just the starting point. The real work begins now as we seek to mobilise parents, teachers and students the whole community to rebuild our schools. Only when we are successful in this will we be able to claim that we have achieved a quality education for all.
Sizing-up the public service
Voluntary severance packages have been introduced as an incentive for people who want to leave the civil service, writes Mziwakhe Hlangani.
The severance packages were introduced in July this year, in an attempt to cut the size of the public service preventing the need for large-scale retrenchment and to try and encourage “old school” civil servants to leave.
Government is trying to cut the size of the public service by 100 000, primarily because of the need for a more lean and efficient administration. State departments at all levels and in all provinces were compelled, in a sense, to downsize since their budget allotments were not enough to dispense for recent salary increases.
The head of the Department of Economics & Finance in the Gauteng Provincial Government, Roland Hunter, says the packages are an expensive option, but they do help the government to achieve a lean and effective civil service.
Of course, not all those who want to take a package are pencil-pushers: thousands of nurses, doctors, teachers and managers are also eligible and many have applied triggering concerns that the exodus could strip the public service of many key professionals.
In Gauteng, for example, the process could result in an exodus of teachers and nurses. Hunter said the large number of applications was to be expected, however, since these two departments employed the overwhelming majority of state employees in the province.
Out of 129 000 civil servants in Gauteng, almost 68 000 work in the Department of Education and 51 000 in the Health Department. Out of an estimated 9 000 severance package applicants in the province, 4 000 were teachers, and 2 200 were nurses. At least 10 000 applications will have been processed by the end of the year, Hunter said.
In the Western Cape, more than 10 000 public servants have applied for packages. Figures were not available from other provinces.
Hunter dismissed reports that experienced personnel were leaving in large numbers and that the government was losing skills. “These are horror stories from the mainstream press. As far as the Gauteng Provincial Government is concerned, the current senior management is of a higher calibre than those from the old Transvaal Provincial Adminstration.
“There is no doubt that the hierarchy of the new civil service is far better than in the previous government. Over the last two years, we have gained new skills with new people joining the government. The truth is that we have lost some good people, but we have also been getting rid of the dead wood,” he added.
Although the process helped to solve fiscal problems, it was not a complete and refined mechanism to deal with problems in the civil service in a way that improved functioning of the departments, Hunter acknowledged.
On how the restructuring plan affected education, he said: “In my understanding, there were those teachers opposed to redeployment, for example from plush suburbs to township schools. Ultimately they are not going to have much choice, once the redeployment plan is fully worked out and renegotiated with the unions. They will have to give in or leave,” he added.
Gauteng has too many teachers in terms of national policy framework averages of 35:1 and 40:1 pupil teacher ratios. It means many would have to be redeployed in other provinces with fewer teachers.
In relation to senior state employees who rushed to take early retirement under false pretences, Hunter said the government was tightening loopholes in the process.
“Those people who were granted early retirement on grounds of ill health have often showed up again as consultants. It has been worsened by a lack of control within departments. The health department has conducted an investigation into this scam and tighter mechanisms were put in place to scrutinise these applications, on a national level.”
How it works
The “voluntary retirement packages” were successfully negotiated during wage negotiations between government and the central bargaining forum. The scheme allows you to take your pension before you would normally get it at age 60 to 65. Part of the agreement was that this year’s public service salary increases would not be wholly funded through departmental budgets. Effectively, pay increases from July would cost about R8,5-billion, but government only allocated R7,4-billion with the rest covered through savings from staff reduction.
Let us build together
“Revitalising Masakhane Campaign for Effective Governance and Delivery, Community Reconstruction and People’s Power”, was the theme at the Masakhane National Summit held in October. Jeremy Cronin reports.
The RDP speaks of a people-driven transformation. But what do we really mean by “people-driven”?
Over 90 delegates from both government and the mass democratic movement attended a tripartite alliance Masakhane National Summit during October to discuss this very issue.
The delegates were able to build broad consensus on the campaign, which was launched at the beginning of 1995 but which has for many reasons drifted into a very narrow focus.
The summit felt there had been two basic flaws in the initial approach to Masakhane:
- In the first place, there were problems in the sequence of launching the campaign. We focused on payment before the critical local level of government was elected and, therefore, before adequate development was happening on the ground.
- Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Masakhane’s key concept that of building together was narrowed down to a notion that the government would deliver, while the role of the people was simply to consume and pay.
Nobody at the summit was arguing that payment for services should not be part of a broader Masakhane campaign. As the press statement from the Summit puts it: “All participants agreed that people should indeed pay for such services, when they were receiving adequate services and when they could afford to pay. Payment, in these circumstances, is part of building a sense of ownership, responsibility and active citizenship.”
However, it was the narrow focus on payments that was the problem. It was also a problem that the campaign had been too government-driven. Government has an important responsibility to empower communities for Masakhane, but government cannot own Masakhane. As ANC Minister of Constitutional Development Valli Moosa observed: “Masakhane is not something that can be bureaucratically owned. We have to let it go. We have to encourage initiative and creative ideas from people on the ground themselves.”
The summit adopted a number of important resolutions, including a decision to redefine Masakhane as an overall campaign of people-driven transformation, and not narrowly as a payments campaign. Not only must we redefine it in this way, we must popularise this kind of understanding.
The summit also resolved to launch a two-year Plan of Action, with active involvement of ANC, alliance and mass democratic forces in participatory structures such as Community Policing Forums and new school governing bodies.
The plan also emphasises the active empowerment of ANC local councillors and calls for a campaign to develop, at local level, a new tradition of participatory budgeting. Communities themselves should become active participants in identifying development priorities, and in understanding the possibilities and constraints of local budgets.
In the second half of next year, a major Masakhane Focus Week is envisaged where communities will actively involve themselves in local development initiatives. Masakhane must be returned to its original meaning a people-driven process of building together.
In the commercial media, Masakhane has come to mean: “Black communities must pay for services.” Anti-transformation forces have been happy to see this happen and constantly goad the ANC in government: “Your Masakhane isn’t working. Your constituency isn’t paying.”
Reinforcing organisational policy
The ANC Northern Cape held its second Provincial Conference on 27-29 September in Upington. Khensani Makhubela reports.
The last few months have been difficult for the ANC in the province. Before the conference, media attention focussed on perceived racial problems in the movement. However, delegates were able to take stock of the ANC’s role under the new dispensation and emerged with a number of resolutions to take the organisation forward.
The theme of the conference was “Unite and build towards good governance and total transformation”. In line with this theme, the conference noted the ANC’s historic objective of uniting people from diverse backgrounds, and committed itself to the ANC’s policies on non-racialism and non-sexism.
The conference also resolved to:
- Ensure that local government plays a central role in providing basic services to better the lives of all communities;
- Ensure the success of the Masakhane Campaign;
- Contribute to creating a crime-free society, by committing all ANC members to contribute in restructured community policing forums. The ANC will also do all in its powers to identify and expose criminals and corrupt police officers; and
- Internalise the macro-economic strategy document to seek consensus within the alliance and to ensure that the growth and development strategy will seek to correct the imbalances of the past.
Delegates noted that strong ANC branches are an important contribution towards building a strong mass-based movement, and committed the movement to the creation of effective and efficient government geared at meeting the needs of the people. This calls for the involvement of members in structures like the Local Development Forums, Community Development Forums and Community Police Forums to ensure that government is responsive to the challenges of the time.
It was also emphasised that the ANC in the province is committed to the total transformation of strategic centres of powers in both the public and the private sector, in line with the stated objectives of accelerating the National Democratic Revolution.
It identified the role which the ANC must play as the leading party in the province in ensuring transformation and good governance.
Northern Cape Provincial Executive Committee
The Northern Cape Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) is a mixture of new and old faces.
Manne Dipico was re-elected provincial chairperson, with Godfrey Oliphant as deputy. John Block was elected secretary, Fred Wynand deputy secretary and Brian Hermanus treasurer.
Other PEC members are: Pakes Dikgetsi, Dipuo Peters, Mohammed Sulliman, Goolam Ackardwaray, Mieta Sperepere, Parks Modise, Hazel Jenkins, Mervyn October, Yolanda Botha, Sepheto Asiya, David Rooi, Boeboe van Wyk and Beatrice Magau.
ANC Youth League: A youthful 52
The birth of the ANC Youth League was a milestone in the history of the ANC. Thabo Masebe, ANC-YL Secretary for Information and Publicity writes.
In the early 1940’s, a group of young members of the ANC became concerned with the lack of militancy and mass character of the liberation movement. Most of these young people were teachers, lawyers and students, including notables such as Anton Lembede, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Ashby Mda, Duma Nokwe, James Njongweni, Dan Tloome, Ida Mtwa, Lillian Ngoye, William Nkomo and B. Masekela.
These young ANC members soon started canvassing the idea of forming a youth league of the ANC. This idea was widely canvassed and at the 1942 Annual Conference a resolution was passed calling for the formation of the ANC Youth League; this was re-affirmed at the 1943 annual conference and the National Executive was mandated to facilitate the formation of both the Youth and Women’s Leagues.
The ANC Youth League was formally launched on 2 April 1944 at the Bantu Men’s Social Centre in Johannesburg. On 10 September at the same venue Anton Lembede was elected as the first President.
Soon after its formation, the ANC Youth League moved from merely critising the non-effectiveness of the ANC in challenging the white regime, and started proposing ways of transforming the ANC into a mass-based liberation movement.
The Youth League saw itself playing a twin role in the ANC: to act as a body of opinion within the ANC and as an organ mobilising the youth around the vision of the ANC.
In its Launching Manifesto which was released by the Provisional Executive Committee in March, 1944 shortly before the inaugural meeting the Youth League said:
“In response to the demands of the times, African youth is laying its services at the disposal of the national liberation movement, the African National Congress, in the firm beliefe, knowledge and conviction that the cause of the African must and will triumph.”
1949 became one of the most historic moments in the life of the ANC Youth League, when the ANC Conference in Bloemfontein adopted its proposed Programme of Action. The Programme of Action was seen as a complete departure from the old ineffective liberal methods to a more radical African Nationalism grounded in the principle of national selfdetermination. The Programme proposed the use of new tactics such as boycotts, strikes and civil disobedience, and formed the basis for the Defiance Campaign and the Congress of the People.
The Youth League not only radically changed the strategy, tactics and programme of the movement, but was also influential in changing the leadership of the ANC. Dr Xuma was replaced by Dr. JS Moroka as President and Walter Sisulu was elected as Secretary of the ANC. Other Youth Leaguers such as OR Tambo, AP Mda, Dr JLZ Njongweni and Dan Thloome were also elected to the National Executive of the ANC.
The 1950’s saw the ANC grow into a mass revolutionary movement leading the oppressed people in defiance against the apartheid laws which the National Party speedily introduced after its election victory in 1948. The ANC Youth League played a key role in the mass activities and campaigns of the ANC, and increasingly its members were being elected to key leadership positions in the ANC.
Towards the end of the 1950’s, the ANC Youth League as an organisation started to decline, with most of its leadership, being absorbed into the ANC.
THE EXILE YEARS: THE ANC YOUTH SECTION
With the banning of the ANC and the PAC in 1960, the ANC Youth League ceased to exist. However, when thousands of young people left the country to join the ANC after the 1976 uprising, it was once again necessary to create an organ to look after the issues and interests of young people in the ANC.
The ANC Youth Section was created and some of its early leaders include Thabo Mbeki, Joe Nhahlanla, Teboho Mafole, Billy Modise and later Jackie Selebi. Its activities included looking after the welfare of students and the international mobilisation of youth against apartheid.
THE 76 GENERATION
In 1968, Steve Biko and others walked out of the NUSAS Conference, and in 1969 they formed the South African Students Organisation. SASO and later SASM played a leading role in the black consciousness movement, the Soweto student uprisings of 1976 and what became the revival of an internal resistance movement, after the repression of the 1960’s.
In 1977, SASO and other organisations were banned, and hundreds of its leaders imprisoned including well-known leaders such as Steve Biko who later died in detention, Dan Montsitsi and Murphy Morobe and others.
THE ERA OF THE YOUNG LIONS
The post 1976 repression only managed for a short period to disorganised the internal resistance movement. In June 1979, the Congress of South Africa (COSAS) was formed, an organisation which played a leading role in the mobilisation of youth and students in the 1980’s.
In reponse to growing youth unemployment in the early 80’s, COSAS at its 1981 Congress adopted a resolution calling for the formation of Youth Congresses in order to ensure the mobilisation of youth who were not in school. During the same period it also influence AZASO, an organisation of university students formed in 1979, to shed its black consciousness ideology and to move closer to the Congress movement. When the UDF was formed in 1983, COSAS, NUSAS and AZASO formed an alliance as the progressive student movement.
Following the resolution of COSAS, youth congresses mushroomed throughout the country, in particular in response to the call from the ANC to “Make the country ungovernable, Make apartheid unworkable.” A national committee was set up to work towards the launch of a National Youth Organisation. Members of the NYO committee included people such as Deacon Mate, Aleck Nchabeleng, Peter Mokaba, Stanza Bopape, Obed Bapela, Dan Motsitsi, David Abrahamse, Rose Sonto, Cassel Mathale and Frans Mohlala.
The youth and students of the 1980’s played a big role in the mobilisation of mass resistance against apartheid structures, and in building unity in communities. This earned them the name “Young Lions of struggle” from the then President of the ANC, the late OR Tambo. Thousands of them were detained and many more were subjected to continuous harassment by security forces.
In the midst of the State of Emergency, the South African Youth Congress (SAYCO) was formed in March 1987 at a secret meeting in Cape Town. Its first executive included Peter Mokaba as President, Rapu Molekane Secretary General, Simon Ntombela, Mzimasi Mancotywa, Fawcett Mathebe, Andy Sefothlelo, Ephraim Nkwe and Dipou Peters. SAYCO played a key role in the campaign to unban the ANC, and its leadership was a key target of repression from the start.
THE RELAUNCH OF THE ANCYL
With the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, the youth, both internally and externally began to work for the relaunch of the ANC Youth League. Sayco dissolved all its structures and its leaders joined members of the ANC Youth Section and other individuals who were seconded by Sansco, Cosas and YCS to form the ANC Youth League’s Provisional National Youth Committee a committee charged with the task of re-establishing the Youth League.
The ANCYL was relaunched at its 17 Congress at the Kwandebele College in Siyabuswa in 1991, and set out to ensure the mobilisation of youth in support of the negotiations process and agitating for mass action in support of negotiations demands for an interim government, release of political prisoners and a Constituent Assembly.
The ANC Youth League today
Following the General Elections in 1994, the ANC Youth League has defined its twin tasks as continuing to mobilise young people behind the vision of the ANC, of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa on the one hand, and championing the interest of social and economic interests of young people. As a body of opinion within the ANC it provides organisational vibrancy and youthfull political debate imperative to a revolutionary organisation. It functions as an organisational and political preparatory school for young activists of the movement. It also acts as a bridge between different generations, and ensures that the movement remains relevant to new generations.
Primary health care tops the agenda
Mzwakhe Hlangani spoke to Health Minister Dr Nkosazana Zuma about the Department’s plans to upgrade the health care system.
State hospitals are crumbling, there’s a shortage of critical equipment, and health care is still skewed in favour of the privileged.
But despite this, Health Minister Dr Nkosazana Zuma and her team are making tremendous inroads into the health care system — and are confident that South Africans will soon have a health system to be proud of.
Dr Zuma describes the physical condition of some state hospitals as “hopeless”. Some are in such a bad state that they will need to be completely rebuilt in ten years’ time if they are not renovated soon.
“We have a real predicament when it comes to upgrading existing institutions,” Dr Zuma explains.
A recent government audit of state hospitals revealed that it would cost R8-billion to bring deteriorating public hospitals into a reasonable state of repair. Replacing obsolete equipment would require at least another R2-billion.
Another challenge is the planning of new institutions, which is complicated by the difficulty in accurately predicting population growth.
“At the moment we have been unable to accurately asses the hospital backlog. In the past, planning was based on segregation — not only on racial grounds, but on the basis of tribalism and ethnicity,” says Dr Zuma.
Recently, a decision was taken to review the position of formerly-segregated hospitals. As Dr Zuma explains: “We need to look at whether we should close hospitals and open others where they would be better situated.”
The recent audit also found that at least 1 400 new clinics are needed to ensure health care reaches the poorest of the poor.
It would be inconsistent with the RDP’s commitment to free primary health care for children under six years and pregnant women if these health facilities could not be made accessible to needy communities, Dr Zuma pointed out.
The new clinics will be built through the Presidential Lead Programme. More than 380 will be completed before the end of the year, and the department will continue to draw on RDP funds to address the anomalies in health.
Development plans have been drawn up to ensure that, once a clinic is complete, there are funds to operate it, as well as sufficient staff and equipment.
Boosting primary health care
In an effort to give maximum support to the primary health care sector, the department is moving away from depending on part-time doctors. Dr Zuma believes every hospital should have a core of full-time doctors. If there are not enough at a particular institution, a provincial governments will be able to design their own contract systems for part-time private doctors.
The drift to private institutions by doctors and nurses is likely to be reversed, she beieves. The department has worked out strategies to reduce the demand for private hospitals, through increased efficiency and making public hospitals competitive to attract medical aid patients.
Salaries of health workers and doctors have been improved significantly, to compete with the private sector.
Affirming management efficiency in state hospitals, Dr Zuma points out that a degree of autonomy will be conferred to hospital management. This will involve a move away from the custom of hospitals being run by highly-qualified professionals like medical superintendents and matrons, who sometimes do not have the necessary management and financial expertise. Administrative and financial support will be given to ensure these hospitals are managed like business entities, she says.
Presently, a superintendent in a major state hospital has “no power to hire or fire”, she points out. Even when buying urgently-needed consumable items for hospitals, superintendents have had to bow and scrape before provincial administrations.
Under the old system, money collected from hospitals went into a provincial administrative fund. Hospitals need incentives for efficient operational activities, she says, and should be able to manage some of the funds they collect — to buy better equipment and to engage in research and development. Dr Zuma also emphasises the importance of effective and inclusive hospital boards to ensure these institutions are competitive in terms of patient care, productivity, research and development.
These boards can serve as a dynamic link between hospital management, staff and the communities they serve.
A bitter pill to swallow
Some medical experts have complained about new regulations on doctors dispensing medicine. The new regulations have been introduced, says Dr Zuma, to bring down the cost of medicines.
She points out that medical practitioners have not been banned from dispensing: the new policy states that doctors must be licensed to dispense — to discourage doctors from making profits on drugs instead of consultation fees.
Caring for the terminally ill
The scourge of AIDS has forced the state health department to look for new approaches to community-based care.
“There is no way that hospitals can cope with everybody who has the AIDS virus,” says Dr Zuma.”Families will need to be able to look after the terminally-ill, with help from visiting health workers.
“But we also want to develop community-based health care for the terminally ill — whatever their illness. And we will need support from communities to run these centres.”
Dr Zuma acknowledges that the state cannot afford to provide palliative care in the same way that private hospices do. There is a shortage of beds, proper accommodation and equipment.
In the long term, she says, the department would like to give support to a “communistic-based care system”.
“We do not think the answer is to get everybody who is terminally ill to an institution,” she adds. “Helping communities to look after their ill relatives could partly solve the problem.”
Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill 1996
A significant development has just occurred to all South African women of child bearing age and this is the introduction of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill, 1996 in Parliament. This is an important development and most welcome steps to give women the right to make decisions about their reproduction and to control their bodies. The African National Congress should count this as a step towards victory.
WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW?
For many women in South Africa, the time of pregnancy is full of fear and anxiety. Some women welcome the pregnancy while to others pregnancy is a threat to their lives, livelihood and happiness. The former may continue with the pregnancy. Once the decision is taken not to continue with pregnancy many women find that there is no safe place to terminate it.
Indeed many women die because of illegal backstreet abortions. Every year in South Africa, according to the Medical Research Council, over 400 women die because of backstreet abortions. This means that every day, there is a woman who dies of an abortion somewhere, and this death could have been prevented if abortion was available when women request it.
No society has ever approved of abortion, yet this does not stop women getting abortions. This is in spite of the contraceptives that are available.
THE EXISTING LAW ON ABORTION
South Africa currently has a law called the Abortions and Sterilizations Act of 1975. This act allows for the termination of pregnancy up to 28 weeks, on the recommendation of two medical doctors, as well as the head of the hospital or clinic, to be performed by a third doctor. If there is evidence from tests in early pregnancy that the baby will have abnormalities, it is also permissible.
The law also allows for the pregnancy to be terminated if the woman had been raped or became pregnant through a close relative. Furthermore, if there is a risk of mental injury, or if there is mental disability, the pregnancy can be terminated on the recommendation of a psychiatrist.
The result of this law is that, in one year only about 1200 abortions were performed in public hospitals; 70% were for mental reasons, 66% were on white people and over 80% were in Gauteng and Western Cape. In Kwa-Zulu Natal, only three were terminated and one in the Northern Province only. These figures show that the current law favours whites, it favours certain provinces, and denies access to such a service to the majority of the women.
THE NEW CHOICE ON TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY BILL
What the ANC and its partners aims to do is to repeal the section of Abortion and Sterilization Act of 1975 that deals with termination of pregnancy. It aims to make termination of pregnancy to be done safely in hygienic conditions and hence increase access to the service to the majority of women in South Africa, who for one reason or another, are forced into a situation of no choice – other than termination of pregnancy.
Counselling will also be provided before and after the termination of pregnancy, in order to provide information on the options the woman has, the risks involved and infertility and contraception, so as to reduce the chances of future unplanned pregnancy.
Termination of pregnancy is not about family planning or population control. The new government has taken measures to increase the availability of family planning services, which include massive increases in buying condoms for men and testing the female condoms, introducing a life skills programme for school, where sexuality education and other skills are provided.
Now you can ask what does this bill really aim to do?
- The bill allows women to request for termination of pregnancy up to and including the 12th week of calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period. During this time, a medical doctor, or a registered midwife who has undergone the specific training will terminate the pregnancy.
- From the 13th week up to the 20th week, a pregnancy may only be terminated by a medical doctor if the pregnancy poses a risk to the physical or mental health of the woman, or if the fetus is likely to have severe abnormalities, or if the pregnancy has been the result of rape or incest, or if the social or economic situation of the woman will be significantly negatively affected.
- After the 20th week, the pregnancy may only be terminated by a medical doctor if there is either danger to the woman’s life, or if the fetus will be severely malformed, or if there will be a risk of injury to the fetus should the pregnancy continue.
- The Bill also provides for women who, because of their mental status of health, whether temporarily or permanently, are unable to give consent for termination of pregnancy. Parents or guardians may request or give consent in such cases. However, in situations where the health of the woman is threatened, the lack of such a consent shall not prevent two doctors or a doctor and a midwife from terminating a pregnancy.
TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY OF WOMEN YOUNGER THAN 18 YEARS
There is an unacceptably high rate of incest and rape in our country. It is not fair to ask a child for a consent from parent or guardian who has abused her in order to terminate the pregnancy. It is also not fair to ask a husband who abused his wife by not allowing her to use contraceptives, for instance, for permission to terminate a pregnancy.
Many women are forced to terminate a pregnancy because their trust has been betrayed by men. It is the lack of security that leads women to desperate actions. Where relationships are solid and healthy, the couple will discuss the pregnancy long before, and will arrive at an agreed upon position. Whatever the decision, it will reflect the wish of the couple. Because of the seriousness of the procedure, minors will be advised to consult with parents, family members and friends.
Once the Bill is signed into law termination of pregnancy will be provided as part of the comprehensive primary health care service in the selected hospitals and community health centres. While we know that no woman enjoys terminating a pregnancy and no health worker enjoys performing the procedure, we should support both the woman and the health worker to save the woman from a backstreet abortion.
Backstreet abortion – A Soweto woman’s experience
Nothing worse still haunts Lindi more than her experience of a backstreet abortion at the age of 18. She knew very well that she was risking her life when she approached someone to terminate her pregnancy. But she was determined that she would not allow the pregnancy to prevent her from pursuing her dream of becoming a civil servant.
Today, she’s a public administrator in a government department.
“When I realised that I was pregnant,” she said, “I informed my boyfriend who gave me nothing but a cold shoulder. He even called me a prostitute. His attitude forced me to act against my own consciousness.”
In 1990, Lindi was a first-year public administration student at Vista University, Mamelodi campus. “I was fresh from high school and my first taste of tertiary life turned into sour grapes when I fell pregnant. A friend referred me to a certain Tembisa traditional healer. I was overwhelmed with fear and shame throughout the procedure. I pleaded for God’s help and forgiveness through the horrible experience.”
Lindi is one of thousands who endure the pain of abortion in darkness. She feels that a new South Africa should mean sympathy for women whose plight is to have an unplanned pregnancy and bring children into this world, fatherless.
Many women who fall victim to backstreet abortions are in their teens. Twenty-three year old Lufuno Makumbe of Orlando West explains: “Teenagers are the most likely to have a backstreet abortion because they can’t afford professional care. It is rumoured that backstreet abortionists charge anything from R150 00 to R300 00 and the business is booming for them.”
Many of the women who experience backstreet abortions feel inhibited from sharing this experience with their parents. Teressa from Tladi says: “I am determined to speak out on the subject but break down in fear of approaching my parents who are devout Catholics.”
Despite these inhibitions, many young women continue to risk their health and lives in secluded, unhygienic places to receive an illegal abortion.
McNally: Thrusts towards justice?
Irwin Langeveld, Chairperson of the ANC Noordgesig Branch questions McNally’s “thrust towards justice.”
Natal Attorney General Tim McNally says the following about his department and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC): “There is no rivalry between the TRC and the Justice Department but their thrust is towards reconciliation and our thrust is towards justice.” (Interview Sowetan, October 22,1996) Critics suggest however that successive McNally decisions have been anything but “thrusts towards justice”. Richard Lyster of the Legal Resource Centre in Durban is reported to have said: “a sub-committee has been established to find cases which indicate bias, incompetence or inability on McNally’s part.” (Business Day August 21,1995)
In 1989 McNally in his report on hit squad operations from Vlakplaas, dismissed the confessions of Vlakplaas assassins Almond Nofomela and Dirk Coetzee, ruling that the allegations were unfounded and untrue. Nofomela then linked Brigadier Krappies Engelbrecht – used as investigation officer by a commission jointly chaired by McNally and Lieutenant-General A B Conradie – to the 1985 murder of Jappie Maponya. Recent affidavits reinforce this link. Engelbrecht who left the police as a General in 1995, was also named by Judge Richard Goldstone in his “Third Force” report early in 1994. A reading of the McNally report shows the commission made every attempt to point out discrepancies between Nofomela’s admissions and other evidence, while little was done to explain Nofomela’s intimate knowledge of events and facts surrounding unsolved murders.
A year after his report, Tim McNally served as counsel to the now famously inane Harms commission, which again dismissed allegations of police death squads. Former Lawyers for Human Rights National Director Brian Currin, who represented Nofomela and Coetzee reacted incredulously to McNally’s decision:”
The position he (McNally) took was one of total disbelief towards the allegations of Nofomela and Coetzee. He threw out virtually everything they said (much of which has now been confirmed during the De Kock trial).” Amnesty International’s 1992 State of Fear report echoed South African legal and human rights groups’ reaction to the judgement, questioning the governments wisdom in expecting McNally to participate in “an impartial investigation into allegations of police death squad activities… so soon after he had concluded in a previous investigation that such activity did not exist”.
Critics suggest that McNally played a pivotal role in dampening early claims of Third Force activity in the late 1980’s and subsequently.
One lawyer who, like most, declined to be named for ethical reasons, said he could think of “at least ten cases where ANC clients were prosecuted on flimsy evidence… and many others where stronger cases against apartheid allies were not prosecuted”. Some cite the 1995 trial of hit squad accused KwaZulu-Natal officials Romeo Mbambo, Gcina Mkhize and Israel Hlongwane in which Judge Nick van der Reyden said the state had failed to disprove allegations by the accused, that they had acted on orders when they murdered six ANC aligned victims in 1992.
McNally decided not to subpoena senior Inkatha Freedom Party officials implicated by these allegations. The Judge threatened to forward the trial transcript to the national Ministers of Justice and Safety and Security if these allegations were not investigated. The Judge also criticised the state for not prosecuting the accused on political charges.
Third Force Activities
Similarly, former security branch policeman Sergeant Gary Pollack, who confessed to committing Third Force activities in Johannesburg and Durban, was convicted in 1995 in the Durban Regional Court on weapons charges.
Pollack said his superior had ordered him to “infiltrate” two AK-47 rifles into the Pan African Congress. He further confessed to numerous other crimes he said his bosses had ordered him to commit. McNally rejected Pollack’s claims, maintaining his motives were purely criminal.
Sources say the comparison between the Pollack decision and McNally’s failure to expedite an investigation into two-time KwaZulu-Natal Midlands cover-up cop Major Joseph van Zyl is revealing. First implicated in a police cover-up of the infamous Trust Feeds massacre, an inquest magistrate ruled subsequently that van Zyl was prima facie an accessory after the fact to the 1990 Swayimane murders of two United Democratic Front activists.
Illegal weapons charges
Critics have also questioned McNally’s decision to prosecute former spokesperson for King Zwelithini, Prince Sifisiso Zulu on illegal weapons charges in connection with his September 1994 televised scuffle with members of Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s entourage.
Critics suggest Buthelezi’s entourage, who stormed the studio, should have faced assault charges. In sharp contrast, McNally further declined to prosecute IFP senator and self-protection unit commander Phillip Powell for illegal possession of a Vlakplaas-style home-made shotgun confiscated from his car during the Transitional Executive Council’s dawn raid on the Mlaba paramilitary training camp. Powell told McNally he “found” the gun in a bus and was on his way to report the matter to the police. Critics point out McNally could have relinquished it to KwaZulu-Natal Police members present at the camp.
In response to Judge van der Reyden’s judgement in the 1995 Mbambo trial more than seventy lawyers representing five legal organisations met in Durban to prepare formal submissions of their concerns over McNally’s failure to prosecute hit squad leaders and other criminals, particularly his failure to use Mbambo, Mkhize and Hlongwane as state witnesses against the leaders of the hit squad network. Justice Minister Dullah Omar also undertook to ask McNally for an explanation of his decision.
More recently McNally prosecuted the former Minister of Defence – Magnus Malan, some Generals and IFP Deputy Secretary-General Z K Khumalo on charges relating to the 1987 KwaMakutha massacre in which thirteen people died.
McNally’s critics argue that this decision was motivated by the political opportunism of an apartheid-era official who had previously ruled out the existence of apartheid death squads.
On the acquittal of Malan and his co-accused the court criticised the prosecution for its poor investigation of the allegations, and condemned the conspiracy charge against them as flimsy. McNally said the conspiracy charges were added to the existing charges “after a respected senior counsel in the private sector suggested compelling reasons to do so” (Sowetan October 22, 1996). Critics suggest that on its own, this is hardly a compelling enough reason to have included the charge in the first place.
The accusation of political opportunism is compounded by McNally’s decision to prosecute state assassins Almond Nofomela, David Tshikalanga and most notably Dirk Coetzee – the first to expose death squads in apartheid’s security forces and whose testimony McNally dismissed in 1989 – for the murder of Human Rights lawyer Griffiths Mxenge.
Human rights lawyers suggest that this decision is mind boggling, especially in the light of McNally and the Gauteng/Transvaal Attorney-General’s Jan D’Oliviera promised another accomplice, Joe Mamasela, indemnity in exchange for more of the kind of information Coetzee made public more than five years ago.
Critics suggest the above instances are just a few examples of McNally’s “general bias” against Third Force exposure. This is reported to have created fears that McNally was not fulfilling his task in serving the interests of justice in KwaZulu-Natal. (Mail & Guardian August 4, 1995)
Why USA hostilities against Cuba don’t end
Earlier this year the Clinton administration signed into law the so-called Helms-Burton bill, legislation which further tightens the embargo against Cuba. Palesa Morudu writes from Washington D.C.
Clinton used the shooting of the two planes owned by Miami-based Cuban-American rightist group called Brothers to the Rescue in May this year as an excuse to ratchet up Washingtons war against the people of Cuba. Brothers to the Rescue claimed that they were on a humanitarian mission, and that they were in international waters when Cubans shot down their planes. In reality these pirate planes were violating the Cuban airspace and have been doing it over many years.
Brothers to the Rescue seeks to portray itself as a humanitarian organisation. But a look at the groups leader Jose Basulto who was in one of the planes not shot down by the Cubans gives lie to this claim. In 1961 he trained with the CIA and participated in the invasion of Cuba in the bay of pigs. His own plane has a large 2506 painted on the side looking back to his days as a member of the bay of pigs Brigade 2506.
In 1962, Basulto commandeered a high speed boat from Miami with a cannon and fired it at a Havana hotel. In the 1980s, Basulto broadened out his counterrevolutionary activities, working with the U.S. organised contras who sought to overthrow the revolutionary government of Nicaragua. Brothers to the Rescue has openly functioned out of the United States with compliance from the United States government.
The Helms-Burton bill is nothing new to Cuba. The Cuban people have lived with these hostilities from the United States since the triumph of the revolution in 1959 through eight US administrations both Democrat and Republican. Not only does Washington maintain a complete economic and trade embargo against the people of Cuba, it arrogantly demands that other countries do the same. The US government maintains a massive naval base on stolen Cuban territory at Guantanamo Bay. The Clinton administration has proven to be as aggressive as its recent predecessors at attempting more provocations against Havana.
Furthermore the US government maintains a travel ban against its own citizens visiting the island. The vast majority are unable to see Cuba for themselves to tell the truth about the revolution which is Washington’s greatest fear. The fact is that this aggression will continue until the Cuban revolution has been overturned.
What is it about the Cuban revolution that enrages Washington? It is that the Cuban people have set an example for working people the world over and they have the guts to defend it. The revolution has inspired a deep sense of internationalism amongst the Cubans, who have shed their blood in support of the struggles of the people the world over. In Nicaragua, after the triumph of the revolution, some Cuban volunteers teaching in the rural areas of that country were killed by the US run counter revolutionary contras. Tens of thousands more Cubans volunteered to take over their places.
Nelson Mandela told a rally of thousands of Cubans gathered in Havana in 1991 that the Cuban volunteers played a crucial role in the liberation of South Africa and Namibia: “Your presence and the reinforcement of your forces in the battle of Cuito Cuanavalle, Angola, was truly of historic significance”, Mandela said.
The crushing of the racist army at Cuito Cuanavalle was a victory for the whole of Africa… without the defeat at Cuito Cunavalle our organisation would not have been unbanned. Today South Africa continues to benefit from this internationalism with the presence of the Cuban doctors.
The Cuban leadership is a communist leadership conscious of the responsibility entrusted to it by history. When they were faced with a US mercenary invasion at the Bay of Pigs, this leadership mobilised all the people of Cuba to come to the defense of their homeland. They relied and continue to rely on the power of their own people to defend Cubas dignity, sovereignty and socialism.
The Cuban revolution is tested again now in the period they term the Special Period by the Cubans. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, Cuba lost almost 90 percent of its international trade. They are now forced to seek out foreign capital and trade internationally on disadvantageous terms. Their goal is to generate hard currency that Cuba desperately needs. In the process they have taken necessary steps backward to keep the revolution alive.
These measures have created very serious challenges for the revolution.
There are two monetary systems in Havana dollars and pesos. Dollars can buy more than pesos. Cubans do not have equal access to the dollars. Some families receive them from their relatives abroad, while some workers in tourism facilities get dollars in the form of tips. Most workers receive their salaries only in pesos. So there is a growing disparity in that one family may have access to more food, clothing, and other necessities. There is no disparity like we are familiar with. Nevertheless this is particularly shocking to Cubans because the disparity is a relatively new phenomenon. Prostitution which was completely wiped out has reappeared sparked mostly by the Tourism industry and the easy access to dollars.
Cuba sees these measures as temporary and necessary to survive while maintaining its socialist revolution. They have not closed a single school, hospital, or nursery school unlike virtually the entire Third World under pressure form the imperialists countries and their banks. The hard currency secured is used to advance the gains of the revolution. It goes to building more schools, improving old ones, maintaining the health care system.
Cuba testifies to what happens when power is in the hands of the working class. They discuss together how they will collectively save Cuba from the fate of many third world countries, which are steadily loosing their patrimony to the lords of finance capital. Through the trade unions, workers councils, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, etc., they discuss many issues, such as setting goals to increase the sugar harvest, how to improve labour and be more productive, and many other things that are necessary for them to survive. In the process, they are intensifying their socialist principles, and correcting bureaucratic practices. Cuba thus has its dignity, sovereignty, and socialism.
The dignity and sovereignty of many semi-colonial countries continues to be undermined as the financial giants of the world continue to plunder their wealth. The Cuban people are active participants in politics. This fact contrasts sharply with the situation witnessed in the former Soviet Union where bureaucratic practices held sway, thereby demoralising millions of people. About five million people took part in the May Day parades this year in Cuba. They were also celebrating the achievement of the sugar harvest goal they set for themselves. Their revolution is very much alive.
Let us join thousands of the young people from all over the world who will gather in Havana to celebrate the 1997 World Youth Festival. This festival is the project of the Union of Young Communist in Cuba inviting all young people from all over the world to come and discuss the struggle against international crises and witness a living socialist revolution. As the US continues with the campaign to isolate Cuba, the communist leadership in Cuba continues to build relations with the people of the world in the struggle for a much better world. This is precisely the reason why the United States rulers will never forgive the working class for what it has achieved in Cuba honest revolutionaries with a deep and true spirit of internationalism.
Young people in the United States have begun working to get a large delegation of young people to the festival in defiance of the United States government wishes. We should mobilise loads of South African youth to the World Youth Festival in Havana July 1997.
Taking on the challenge
Convincing the rightwing that the ANC will protect the fundamental rights of every South African citizen has been among Popo Molefe’s many successes, Khensani Makhubela writes.
Popo Molefe’s first challenge as Premier of the new North West Province was to build a united provincial government out of three very different administrations.
The Bophuthatswana, Transvaal and Cape administrations each had their own approach, experience and political history, with varying track records.
Add to this the challenge of “managing” the Afrikaner rightwing, which had been humiliated militarily and politically, and you’re talking about a potent combination of ideologies.
Despite this, says Molefe, the province has succeeded in integrating the three entities into one provincial government and in convincing the rightwing that the ANC will protect the fundamental rights of every South African citizen.
“I think we have done well on that issue,” the Premier says, looking back on his first two and a half years in office.
The Premier is in a critical position as head of the North West Province. His office provides political direction, coordinating and leading the province and overseeing the activities of all departments in the province. It also handles relationships with national government and other provinces and ensures the implementation of government policies like the Reconstruction and Development Programme and the Macro-Economic Policy.
As ANC provincial chairperson, Molefe also has to ensure that the organisation implements its political programme. The province has started a programme to revive branches and to make sure that the government delivers in accordance with ANC policies.
“I am actually linking the organisation with the government; my role is to act as an interface with various key players, schools, churches, women, youth and business,” Molefe says.
He adds: “I also keep our relation with the alliance burning. We have regular meetings where we discuss government and organisational issues.”
Within two and half years Molefe has managed to reduce the high level of unemployment from 67 percent to 48 percent.
Goals have been set within the general framework of the RDP. Government representatives have visited foreign countries to meet with prospective investors, which has resulted in significant investment in the province.
The most important economic sectors in the province are agriculture, mining, and tourism. The province has a well developed tourist infrastructure and expects a major proportion of the gambling licenses issued.
“We recently built 52 houses for pensioners in Lefuritse, in Zeerust, which we are very proud of. We plan to have more villages like this one,” Molefe says.
The province is currently involved in an exciting joint venture with the People’s Republic of China to build “Dragon City” in Potchefstroom. This massive project will create half a million jobs within five years, and will serve as a tourist attraction as well as a residential city.
“The completion of the Trans-Kalahari corridor from Pretoria to Botswana is going to create employment and stimulate development between Rustenburg-Zeerust and Mmabatho. The airport at Sun City is also being upgraded into a multi-cargo tourist facility.”
“The tourist traffic from Magaliesberg, Pilanesburg and Matikwesburg near the border of Botswana will create linkages to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Mpumalanga and to the Western Cape,” the Premier says.
During whatever time is left in his hectic schedule, Molefe relaxes by watching TV news as well as collecting videos on major South African events.
Putting women and children first
Premier Popo Molefe has spearheaded a project to help women develop economic potential.
Together with Malibongwe Project, the province has embarked on a project to help women especially those who are unemployed and have children under five with handwork skills.
North West was the first province to hold a special conference on women and agriculture, which resulted in new agricultural projects being set up for women.
The province also has a youth front and a youth committee. The province has prioritised the need for skills training and employment for youth.
New legislation ensures access to government records
When our grandchildren sit down to write a new history of South Africa, they will have to rely heavily on official government records as a source of information, Khensani Makhubela reports.
The country’s future generation will need full access to government records, so that they have a complete picture of government’s activities. They will also need to know that the records are accurate, that they are complete, and that they have been well-managed.
These are just some of the reasons why, as we transform our country, we have to transform the way in which we document the activities of government and keep public records.
New legislation, in the form of the National Archives of South Africa Bill, has just been tabled to ensure that this happens.
The new bill is the product of a year-long consultative process involving a wide range of interest groups. The primary vehicle of this process was the Consultative Forum for Archival Management and Legislation, convened by the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology with the sanction of the Council of Culture Ministers and consisting of over 60 delegates from all parts of South Africa.
Current legislation on archiving documents is out of line with the new reality. It does not, for example, accommodate the new division of functions between central government and the provinces, nor does it address new realities in public records environments particularly those effected by electronic record-keeping.
It clearly does not embrace the principles of accountability and transparency.
The new draft law is a critical tool in ensuring accountability and transparency in the way government documents its decisions and its activities, and ensures public access to government records.
It provides for the establishment of a National Archive, which is responsible for the management and care of all central government records and for promoting the preservation and use of a national archival heritage.
In terms of the new law, restricted government documents will be made available to the public 20 years after they are written. This is a major advance on other democracies, where documents can remain secret for up to 40 years. It is also a major advance on the approach taken by the apartheid government.
Another major advance is the restriction on people damaging government records. This will, among other things, outlaw the shredding or destruction of secret files to frustrate investigators.
A New National Archive
The National Archive is tasked with:
- Preserving public and non-public records with enduring value for use by the public and the state
- Making these records accessible
- Promoting their use by the public
- Collecting non-public records with enduring value of national significance which cannot be more appropriately preserved by another institution. This is to ensure that government can document aspects of the nation’s experience which have been neglected by archive repositories in the past.
The National Archive will also keep a register of non-public records with enduring value, and promote co-operation and co-ordination between institutions which have custody of such records.
It will also promote an awareness of archives and record management.
Nafcoc on affirmative action
Empowering blacks with skills will ensure their meaningful participation in the country’s economy. Mziwakhe Hlangani spoke to Mashudu Ramano, Nafcoc secretary-general.
Tangible affirmative action policy is one of the best available strategies that should be embraced to address elements of the black economic empowerment imperatives. Empowerment of blacks should be defined in three broad ways, most notably, to ensure blacks were able to participate effectively and meaningfully in the labour market, according to National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc) secretary-general Mashudu Ramano.
In his view, black participation at the moment is only at lower rungs of those that are economically active. They only participate as unskilled labourers. “The first thing to ensure they can participate meaningfully is through empowering them with skills,” he pointed out.
Of vital importance also, he added, was the ownership and management of economic resources. “If one looks at the various groups and how they participate as owners and managers of those resources, blacks are fairly low. Whites average around eight percent of the economically active while blacks are in the region of three percent,” he said.
In international norms, ten percent of the population should be owners and entrepreneurs in the society. Mr Ranamo emphasises that blacks should own and manage the economic resources of the country, which “at the moment even if we own, we do not manage.”
Looking at the number of business deals finalised recently, he said, it should be noted that ownership has passed into the hands of blacks as expected, but management is exclusively remaining in the hands of whites. “They can do whatever they want as managers, develop strategies and at the same time misrepresent the state of the company or manipulate the accounts. And, that is the area that we need to focus quite significantly,” he cautioned.
Ramano also pointed out that the majority lived in the rural and so-called black townships, where there is no meaningful economic activity taking place. The third element of the entire affirmative action process must be linked to redevelopment of rural areas and townships in terms of infrastructure. Subsequently, economic viability of the areas would be expanded, like central business development and industrial areas, also to increase employment opportunities.
Looking back for the past 32 years, Nafcoc devoted its struggle towards dismantling apartheid, ensuring political representation as a means towards mainstream economic participation.
“Unless blacks attain significant economic power, it would be difficult to sustain political gains. Production aspect of economy is fundamental in determining the nature of political environment,” he said.
Nafcoc came up with its favourable adage of “3,4,5,6 strategies” in the context of black economic empowerment. The strategy essentially means:
- 30 percent of the market capitalization of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange should be in the hands of blacks. The year 2,000 has been targeted for the Strategic Development.
- 40 percent of their share holding should be controlled by black communities.
- 50 percent of the business procurement should be sourced and bought from the black business community, as suppliers of the various services and products.
- 60 percent of the skilled manpower (junior managers and supervisors) should come from black communities.
“Lack of proper education was a major limitation for black business in that they started from a disadvantaged position, in appropriate management and organising their operations,” Ramano added.
Nafcoc has initiated a management leadership and development centre in Soshanguve, to improve black business capacity. It is currently providing entrepreneurship education to the whole range of members and non-members.
Other programmes include joint training programmes with tertiary institutions. Newly founded entrepreneurship development programme run in conjunction with Rand Afrikaans University and the Gauteng African Chamber of Commerce, is one of them.
Black business is encouraged to venture into partnerships with the established business. “If accessing better technology and resources is possible, partnerships is a better option,” he emphasised.
Explaining the warm relationship between Nafcoc and the Afrikaanse Handel Instituut, Ramano said one of the things that were being addressed were explicitly that members of both groups “should begin to do business together, build together, add value together, and must share the results of that process jointly and mutually.
“So we are encouraging partnering and joint ventures as a means of trying to access fields,” he explained. With regard to white established retail shops planning to open business in the black townships, he said Nafcoc had never opposed that, but maintained partnerships with township small businesses should be a precondition.
“They cannot be allowed to operate in black townships when they were advantaged with everything. Having no access to resources and finance, it is not unfair for black business to request joint ventures with advantaged business in providing better services,” he added.
Lifting discriminatory practices was a vital feature of the affirmative action. But, ensuring capacity building was another process, Ramano said, pointing out that economic growth and development without empowerment was not to be sustainable in the long run.
“Nafcoc believed that economic growth must translate into tangible benefits, like better jobs, better education, housing, health and provision of infrastructure. Black business is calling for economic growth and empowerment strategy that will benefit the community,” he said.
A major role by the government still had to be accomplished, in terms of the reconstruction of our society. For a sound political strategy in the short to medium term, the government should generate resources to deal with high unemployment rate and counter retrenchments resulting form downsizing of the bloated civil service.
Ramano also warned the government against pushing itself into pacifying international institutions like International Monetary Fund for favours in extending credit facilities for South Africa.
He also bluntly rejected that foreign investors should be allowed to encroach on every business activity, saying South African business needed to guard jealously against foreigners taking over the country’s strategic assets. The country should develop a clear vision of what and where it wanted its economy to go.
Foreign business should be encouraged to inject foreign currency, bring technology, thus creating jobs. Strategic investments should remain the domain of the country’s citizens, he added.
“For example, some of the Far East countries have programmes where they open up particular industries and encourage foreign investors to come in, like electronics, but the rest are dominated by their own people.
South Africa must also develop that kind of framework and one of the preconditions should be that foreign businesses must be engaged in partnerships, as a first preference those who were disadvantaged. Those from established minority population groups should follow after the disenfranchised,” he said.
He also cautioned against foreign pharmaceutical companies allegedly supplying raw material to South African operations at inflated prices. In turn, these products were unaffordable allowing them to siphoned off huge profits out of the country.
Commenting on unpatriotic tendencies by some South African companies, who refused to invest on productive capacity, Ramano described them as dispassionate investors. “In my view they were guilty of not being enthusiastic investors in their own country. If you look at the sort of fixed investment in the past, it is mainly focussed in property, where they get write-offs and in turn write-off from their profits. Even, in highly intensive capital projects they embarked upon, they still managed to take lot of the money and the skill, out of the country,” he concluded.
The long road just got shorter
The abridged version of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, is an attempt to make his inspiring personal story, and the heroic story of South Africa’s freedom struggle, available to all South Africans.
In his introductory note to the reader, Mandela says the shortened version is his personal contribution to “developing and strengthening a culture both of learning and reading in South Africa”.
The book allows the reader an insight into the mind of Nelson Mandela his beliefs, his struggle, his frustrations, his despair and his ever-present humour.
It is not only the the story of Nelson Mandela’s life, it is also an insider’s account of South African history in the twentieth century. This insider’s account is what makes the book a unique contribution to South African literature, as the anti-apartheid struggle is chronicled and complemented with Mandela’s personal anecdotes of his political awakening, his first interactions with comrades from different backgrounds and the development of lasting friendships through a common struggle.
It is peppered with humerous tales of Mandela’s experiences, which reveal both his humility and his humanity. He describes, for example, his flight in 1961 to a conference in Ethiopia: “We then flew on to the conference in Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines. As I was boarding the plane, I noticed that the pilot was black. I panicked how can a black man fly a plane? A moment later, I felt angry with myself I had fallen into the apartheid trap of believing we were not as good as whites”.
Through accounts like these, Mandela reveals to the reader many of his own weaknesses and prejudices however fleeting in an open and honest way.
The abridged version accurately captures the essence of the full autobiography and does not lose any of the main content, style or emotion. The reader is still able to feel the courage, the anger, the anxiety, and the unflagging resilience and hope of Mandela.
This dramatic account of South Africa’s freedom struggle and Mandela’s personal sacrifice for that freedom is suitable reading for all people, young and old who have a basic knowledge of English. It is an eloquent contribution to South African literature and a must read for all people interested in gaining a deeper understanding of South Africa and its leaders.
Long Walk to Freedom Abridged Edition
Publisher: Nolwazi Publishers
Reviewed by a correspondent
Fire & Water
How can you achieve self-mastery and become the best you were meant to be? How can you turn your fear into power? If you’re looking for answers to these questions, you should consider a new book by South African writers Mike Lipkin and Reg Lascaris, called Fire & Water.
Their book takes its name from our “inner fire” the purity of passion that burns within us all and our “water” or natural flow of emotion.
The book is divided into four categories, examining four spheres of emotion:
- Excitement, the spark of life which produces human electricity.
- Fear: friend or enemy? If you let your fears lie like crocodiles in the dark pools of your subconscious, they will eat you up.
- Faith: the ultimate resource. Before you can make a great dream come true, you need a great dream.
- Personal style: the principle of personal marketing “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” which means that a person is a person because of other people.
Lipkin and Lascaris focus on how you can make the best out of the worst situations. They regard a crisis as a gift, saying that truly effective people do not allow what is going on around them to dictate their inner state. They become the masters of their own emotions.
They use South African examples which show that ours is the only country in the world which runs on miracles.
As the authors ask: “Where were you on the morning of 10 April 1993?” It was an event that could have led South Africa into civil war: the assassination of SA Communist Party leader Chris Hani. But instead, exactly 13 months later, 161 heads of state and senior government figures from around the world gathered in Pretoria to celebrate President Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as the head of the rainbow nation. This country achieved the impossible and, according to Lipkin and Lascaris, it continues to do so.
They say this country has taught them three major lessons:
- See things the way they are: Take stock of both the positive and the negative attributes of your specific situation.
- See things the way they can be: Don’t forecast but “backcast”. Work back from the future, look beyond the moment to what can be.
- And finally, make things the way they can be: Take action, realise that you have the power to make a difference because if not you, then who?
The book contains the stories of some notable South Africans, such as Khehla Mthembu (head of New Age Beverages), Herman Mashaba (founder and chief executive of Black Like Me hair products company), advertising agency boss Dennis Mashabala and film producer Anant Singh.
Lipkin and Lascaris point out that these achievers have never let apartheid draw them back or discourage them. They had the power of faith, they dreamt it and they made it.
“Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” is described as a code of interdependence which demands that we see ourselves in the context of our interactions with others. Instead of using “me”, we should use “we”. If you are only concerned about yourself, the irony is that you will not be able to take care of yourself.
The authors say they hope that after having read this book, you’ll be equipped with at least one insight that one may not have had before. Treat the world as your laboratory, experiment. Use your fear, it will serve you; practise and focus, and focus on practice.
There are a few words from Fire & Water which I hope will motivate those who have no faith, hope, excitement and fear. I can do it; I am gifted; there is always a way; I love this country; I feel good; I love the people around me; I have no time to waste; I am at my best when things are at their worst and I am a walking miracle.
As the authors say: “You don’t believe what you see, you see what you believe.” If you want to strive into the future, Fire & Water makes an excellent guide.
Fire & Water
Publisher: Zebra Press
Price: R 55.00
Reviewed by Wisani Makhubela