Volume 7 No.4
1 May 1996
- A Look at events that made News in April
- Provincial Briefs
- Mayibuye Study Series “The SA Transition in a world context”
- Constitution Finalised
- What if there’s a deadlock?
- Striving for a truly free state
- Free State to honour ANC Birthplace
- “Women’s oppression should come to an end”
- Workers rally behind camppaign for economic freedom
- History of the Worker’s holiday
- Labour unveils job creation plans
- ‘Business proposals are stale’
- Youth get down to work
- Youth League elects National Working Committee
- Using Public meetings effectively
- A mixture of old and new
Two years of democracy
Our nation celebrated last month the second anniversary of the country’s first democratic election. Much has happened since 27 April 1994 – much still needs to happen.
As our democracy matures, we are addressing with greater confidence the country’s overwhelming economic and development problems. We have realised that miracles have their limits, and that if we are going to transform this country a lot of hard work is going to be needed.
We are also aware that not everyone in this country shares our vision of a new society. The National Party, Democratic Party, Freedom Front, Inkatha Freedom Party are each trying to cling onto their own little piece of apartheid. This has been vividly demonstrated in the last few weeks, where negotiations around the new constitution have been bogged down on issues like the property clause, the ‘right’ to lock-out and state support for single medium schools – all issues which threaten to entrench apartheid realities in the final constitution.
The same reactionary tendencies have shown themselves in the legislative process, where these parties have sought at both a national and provincial level to use legislation to maintain apartheid inequalities.
The Inkatha Freedom Party continues to abuse its control of the resources of the KwaZulu/Natal provincial government, resorting to violence and abusing traditional Zulu institutions to hamper free political activity, development and democracy in the province.
Big business is similarly opposed to any measures which could redress past imbalances. The South African Foundation report, Growth for All, which has the backing of most large business promotes an economic strategy which would enrich South Africa’s wealthy minority without providing anything of worth to South Africa’s majority. The positions adopted by business in forums like Nedlac confirm their commitment to strengthening their own privilege at the expense of the interests of the country’s people.
Add these factors to the devastating social and economic legacies of apartheid, and the democratic movement has a momentous task on its hand. Through its dominance in government and its historical position in civil society, the democratic movement has managed to make inroads in a number of areas – from the provision of free primary health care, to the transformation of the SA police service, to the provision of basic services, to the creation of a single national education department.
But there have been shortcomings. The coordination of the programme of the democratic movement – in government, in trade unions, in organisation – leaves a lot to be desired. This has meant that on a number of occasions the democratic movement has not been able to move forward as a single, united force. This gives rise to confusion, allegations of lack of consultation and ineffective use of the resources at our disposal.
Central to this coordination is a strong ANC. If the leading force in the democratic movement is weak, then the effectiveness of that movement is bound to suffer. ANC structures at all levels have recognised this and have committed themselves to programmes to rebuild their structure, whether at branch, region, province or national level.
It also requires that the organisation’s leaders, many of whom have been deployed to government, commit more of their time and energy to building the structure of the ANC. Unless this happens the ANC, and the democratic movement as a whole, will prove incapable of fulfilling the daunting task which history has given it.
One year of Mayibuye
It is now one year since Mayibuye was re-launched in its newspaper format, among other things to assist in rebuilding the structures of the ANC.
During the last twelve months we have tried to cover issues at a national, provincial and local level in a way that could promote a better understanding among our people of the transition that this country is going through – and the demands which this places on each of us in the democratic movement.
In this, we have had mixed success. We have covered some important issues, like housing, land reform, restructuring of state assets and the media. But there are many other issues which we have barely mentioned. In particular, Mayibuye has not paid sufficient attention to problems facing communities at a local level. Nor has Mayibuye been able to provide adequate coverage of developments in parliament and the provincial legislatures.
During the next twelve months, Mayibuye will need to strive to address these shortcomings. In this process, it will need the assistance of its readers – providing comments on the paper, writing letters about issues which affect you, even writing articles on important issues.
Mayibuye exists to serve you, the reader. Any contributions you want to make to its success will be most welcome.
A look at events which made news in April
RDP alive and working
The Reconstruction and Development Programme is still the official policy of the government and is working, despite media speculation following the closure of the RDP office.
Deputy President Thabo Mbeki announced that all central planning and policy functions of the RDP would now fall under the presidency. All ministries had to be within the context of their main budgets, pursuing policies that were in the interests of reconstruction and development.
Certain planning functions would be given to ministries, but overall planning would take place in the presidency. The presidency would also monitor programmes seeking to uplift disadvantaged groups. The RDP Fund would fall under the Ministry of Finance and municipal infrastructure under the Department of Trade and Industry and provincial and local governments.
Truth commission begins
The first hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission were held in East London last month. The hearings were and intensely emotional affair with witnesses and commissioners alike finding themselves in tears.
The week-long hearings were the first of the several hearings to be held throughout the country. The witnesses recounted tales of torture, detention, disappearances, murder and assault. The testimony to the commission will form the basis of investigations by the truth commission’s investigative unit. The commission has been given two years to complete its work.
Job creation for 30,000
A project initiated by unemployed workers, aiming to create jobs for about 30,000 unemployed people in Gauteng, is to be launched soon. The Amandla Waste Creations, a brainchild of the SA Unemployed Workers Organisation, is to create jobs through practical and sustainable labour intensive community-based projects.
It is aimed at helping the unemployed make handcrafted objects from paper, wire, cardboard, tins and waste products in general. The products would then be marketed through curio shops, stalls and flea markets. Negotiations with the Department of Trade and Industry were also underway to find a channel to market the products.
Other programmes include skills training under the Manpower Department and an agreement with Telkom, East Rand industries and mines to employ unemployed matriculants. At least 3 500 people had been employed under the project.
Rural women speak
A workshop to investigate improving the quality of life of rural women was held recently in the North West’s Ganyesa district.
Rural women who attended the workshop came out in support of the government of national unity although many were still suffering from unemployment and lack of facilities.
The workshop analysed what the women saw to be impediments working against their empowerment. Most complained about unemployment, and living far from industrial areas. They also feared that since most of their husbands were not working, chances that their children would ever find employment were remote, because of lack of education.
Housing project launched
A R190 million housing project was launched in Nelspruit by housing minister Sankie Mthembi-Nkondo.
The project, described by President Nelson Mandela as a major breakthrough in housing delivery in the country, is expected to deliver over 6,000 houses, with 40 different house plans, and generate over R450 million that would help in job creation for thousands of unemployed.
The Mpumalanga provincial government will contribute R90 million, while Nedcor, a financial institution, will contribute R100 million. Murray and Roberts construction company will implement the project through its Condev housing division.
IFP warlords want to tell the truth
Inkatha Freedom Party warlords were reportedly planning to break ranks and tell the truth before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about their participation in crimes committed during the fight between the IFP and the United Democratic Front.
Some of these warlords, who fear possible prosecution about their past acts, are said to have already informed the IFP leadership about their intentions.
IFP leaders, aware of the implications this would have for the party, have allegedly informed individuals that they would be doing this on their own accord, as the party would not prevent any member who wanted to seek relief for certain acts, from doing so. IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi said in a recent meeting with commission chairperson Archbishop Desmond Tutu that his party was against accounting before the commission for certain acts of violence.
Conferences and commemorations
The African National Congress in Mpumalanga held a government summit in March, its first since the November 1995 Local Government Elections. Among the issues discussed were land restitution, farm evictions, training of councillors, transformation of the administrations of councils, payment for services and the Masakhane programme, local government statutes, rural local government, restructuring of district councils, grading systems and multi-year strategic planning.
The ANC in the province is calling upon all local government structures to embark on multi-year planning to ensure that the vision of growth and development as enshrined in the RDP becomes a reality. Local councils can enlist the help of the provincial government through the ministry of local government and strategic planning in the office of the premier.
Realising that land is a critical component of development in local government and that landlessness is widespread, the meeting decided that the ANC should form structures and centres throughout the province to help train communities to lodge land claims.
The summit called on farmers not to evict tenants, but to support the content and spirit of the Labour tenants Bill.
Two important events in the Northern province last month were the second provincial congress of the South African Communist Party and the annual conference of the ANC Women’s League in the central region.
Delegates at the SACP congress reaffirmed their confidence in the leadership by returning to office the majority of its executive.
An important feature of the Women’s League conference was their ability to fund their own congress. All branches and town councillors serving in the central region each contributed R50 to make the occasion a resounding success.
The Gauteng ANC Women’s League held its first provincial conference, in Johannesburg in April. Branches and sub-regions of the Women’s League participated in mapping out a strategy on the future of the league; the involvement of the league in the transformation of civil society and institutions of governance; and developing programmes that will mobilise and organise women beyond racial boundaries or levels of education.
The conference adopted resolutions on building and strengthening the organisation; structures and processes for gender equality and emancipation of women in and outside government; rural local government; development of women; unpaid labour; crime; land invasions and programmes to combat poverty.
In KwaZulu/Natal the IFP have developed a sophisticated and fraudulent plan to ensure they win the local government elections. The plan involves three key elements: rig the voters rolls; control the security situation; and ensure that the administration of rural polling stations is in their hands.
In Ulundi the IFP simply filled in forms of people presumably from outside Ulundi and supplied addresses which are next to each other. In areas they wish to control they put many voters in.
The former KwaZulu government issued ID numbers which will be used to duplicate false registration. In addition, the IFP told people under the age of 18 to discard their birth certificates and apply for ID books, and they also changed digits on people’s ID numbers to boost the registration.
All Eastern Cape ANC regions held their Annual Regional Conferences in April 1996. At the regional conferences, each region elected three people to replenish the provincial ANC parliamentary list. The previous list of reserves for the provincial parliament has run out. The provincial leadership alliance will deal with the ordering of the list and submit it to regions for endorsement. An induction programme has been drawn up by the organising department.
The Northern Cape ANC commemorated the death of Chris Hani on 10 April through a variety of public meetings. The themes for all the meetings were that crime and violence needed to be stopped and that “a people united would never be defeated”. This follows the emergence of gangsters in the community and at schools. All efforts are being made to stop the undesirable development in its infancy, as the province is synonymous with peace and stability.
Independence of the press
The possibility that a black consortium may take over ownership of the Times Media Limited publications has got the good editors and managers in a tizz.
The publications include the Sunday Times, the Financial Mail and Business Day. Their editors and managers are rushing to produce an Editorial Charter “guaranteeing editorial independence”.
These very same publications have been very happy to be owned by Anglo American. Despite claims to the contrary, if you speak to journalists from these newspapers they will tell you that when their stories are too critical of Anglo and its vast empire they get blocked.
Could it be that, in the minds of the Times Media editors, control by white boardrooms is okay? It is the prospect of black owners, including Cyril Ramaphosa and some Cosatu affiliates, who threaten their version of independence.
Umrabulo’s suspicions in this regard were strengthened by an editorial in the Citizen. The take-over of Times Media by a black consortium involving Ramaphosa would be “a direct assault on newspaper independence”, the Citizen wrote.
It should know about assaults on editorial independence. Remember how the Citizen was set up? It was the creature of a secret apartheid government fund that was later uncovered in what came to be known as the Infogate scandal.
An even better connection
There has been a great deal of activity in Midrand in recent weeks as the Gallagher Estates conference centre readied itself to play host to the prestigious United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), attended by 3000 high profile government delegates from around the world.
Hosting a conference of such a magnitude is no mean feat – Gallagher Estates even built a custom-made office block for the occasion. Yet the ‘We-go-further’ Award must certainly go to our country’s rival cell phone networks, Vodacom and MTN, who doubled their number of cell phone aerials in and around Midrand in anticipation of the unusually high concentration of cell phones at the conference.
Rumours that they were thinking of doing the same at Sandton City every Saturday morning
And there’s the tragic tale of Ismael Lagardien, spokesperson for the trade and industry ministry, who according to Business Day was barred entry to the opening session of Unctad because of “UN administrative bungling” – despite having had a hand in writing some of the speeches being delivered inside.
What wasn’t revealed in the story was that Lagardien was denied entry because he didn’t have his conference ID card on him, something which all conference delegates, even the most senior officials, are required to wear – regardless of how many speeches they wrote.
Striking a blow for productivity
When Gauteng premier Tokyo Sexwale suggested recently that Cosatu hold its strike against the inclusion of lock-out clause in the constitution on Worker’s Day, a public holiday, many people must have thought that the good premier had taken leave of his senses.
But maybe Tokyo is onto something. After all, we can’t allow workers to get in the way of productivity, can we. Why stop at this one strike? Perhaps Cosatu could be persuaded to hold all their strikes on public holidays. And when they’ve run out of holidays, they could make use of Sundays.
It would also help if Cosatu and their allies conducted pickets and protest marches at night to cause as little disruption as possible to traffic. And if worker’s had any petitions to present to parliament, they should take them there during recess so as not to interrupt the legislative process.
With friends like these, who needs a lock-out clause?
Question: What is the name for the latest plans to restructure Sasol?
Answer: Parafina II
Mayibuye Study Series no. 10 – The SA transition in a world context
‘Realism’ and international relations
We are often told that South Africa is now back in the world, that we have “returned to the family of nations”. There is some obvious truth in this. With the democratic transition, a wide range of bilateral and multilateral relations have opened up for the new South African state, and for a wide range of South Africans in many sectors – including sport.
But what seems obvious – ‘We are now back in the world’ – also conceals some important realities. In the first place, who is this ‘we’ who has now returned to the world? Maybe the apartheid regime was isolated to some extent, as a result of our campaigns. Why should we, in the ANC, now speak as if we were also part of that same isolation?
In the second place, but related to the above, when we talk about being ‘back in the world’, we too easily give the impression that in the 1970s and 80s, South Africa was in outer space. In fact, the two major contending forces in our country – the apartheid bloc and the ANC-led broad democratic movement – were always deeply involved in the divisions and struggles of the broader world system.
The white minority regime was actively backed and resourced by major global forces. In 1969, for instance, the United States National Security Council produced a major strategic study on the situation in Southern African. “The whites are here to say,” said the document, “and the only way that constructive change can come about is through them.” This is the strategic perspective that informed Kissinger and Nixon through the 1970s.
Likewise the ANC and its allied force were not outside of the global realities. We were active agents in world politics. We sought out allies, and built a major global solidarity movement.
So why are we forgetting some of these basic facts? Perhaps it has something to do with the power of conventional wisdom about international relations.
National interest – the ‘realist’ school
At the moment there is a big debate in our country around international relations. One outspoken school of thought is that we must develop our international policy based simply on ‘national interest’.
In fact, this approach to international relations is very common world-wide. Academics sometimes describe this approach as the ‘realist’ school of international relations. Basically, it sees international relations as dominated by the interplay between different national governments – either bilaterally, or in multi-lateral forums.
All nation states act (or should act), so we are told, on the basis of ‘national self-interest’. The self-interest approach presents itself as free of any ideological or moral baggage. It presents itself as pragmatic.
This ‘realist’ approach has a number of serious limitations.
International = intergovernmental?
In the first place, this approach tends to see nation states as the major international actors. To the extent that states are, indeed, major players in the world system this is helpful. But there are very many other forces which are also active shapers of the world situation:
There are the major multinationals. They have immense economic power, and although many have some kind of national base, they are often global in character. They certainly often escape the national controls of their respective ‘home’ governments. Many features of the present world are shaped, not by governments, but by the investment and production decisions made, not by governments, but in the boardrooms of these multinationals.
Among these multinationals, and worth separate mention, are the huge multimedia empires, like CNN television. They do not just record international events, they often help to define them, and to set global agendas.
There are supra-national institutions, including the IMF, World Bank and the World Trade Organisation, which again are more than the sum of the major national forces within them.
On a generally more progressive note, there is a range of social movements that have emerged as a real force on the global stage. Our own anti-apartheid world solidarity movement was a good example. In western Europe, the peace movement successfully mobilised public opinion to the extent that NATO military planning was heavily hampered, and it had to delay the deployment of missiles. The new global information revolution has greatly strengthened the international networking among a wide range of human rights, environmental, solidarity and other social movements and lobby groups.
The realist, national-interest approach, with its focus on the diplomatic interaction between nation states, tends to underrate the impact of all of the above realities on international relations.
Is there ‘a’ national interest?
The second problem with the ‘realist’ approach is that it tends to assume that there is an obvious ‘national interest’. But is there?
Take, for instance, the South Africa Foundation’s recent economic strategy document “Growth For All” and compare it with the NEDLAC Labour Caucus’s “Social Equity and Job Creation” document. The SA Foundation says that it is in South Africa’s interest to open up our economy to the world, to focus on export-driven growth and to replace government involvement in the economy with market forces.
The labour document says that the national interest means carrying forward the logic of our political democratisation into the domain of the economic and social. This requires, it argues, an active public sector and major transformation of the existing market.
Both are defining what they see as the ‘national interest’. But they are miles apart. Indeed, the SA Foundation’s view of the ‘national interest’ has more to do with the IMF perspective on South Africa, than with its own national NEDLAC partner.
Is morality relevant?
Finally, the ‘realist’ approach tends to dismiss moral concerns from diplomacy. It argues for pragmatism: “Nobody can afford to worry about human rights abuses in other countries”; “Charity begins at home”.
Clearly, we cannot simply conduct diplomatic, trade and other relations only with countries whose government’s meet with 100 percent approval from our side. Trade relations, or diplomatic relations, can never be reduced simply to seals of moral approval.
In short, we cannot build our international relations armed with nothing more than moral zeal. But this is not an argument for removing moral concerns from foreign policy. Nor is it an argument for sheer pragmatism, or for what some describe as a ‘de-ideologised’ foreign policy. If we fail, as South Africans, to ask searching moral questions about the present global situation, we will be making a serious error, even from the point of view of narrow national self-interest, however that is defined.
We are living in a world system in which there are gross inequalities. The general underdevelopment of Third World countries to the benefit of a handful of wealthy societies continues to worsen. If, in South Africa, we are to have any hope of breaking out of our own vast problems of underdevelopment, we need to become active proponents of a changed global order. That requires realism, certainly, but also the broad deployment of a full range of South African assets – governmental, party and social movement. It also requires a moral vision.
As Mayibuye went to print, the new constitution hung in the balance. Steyn Speed looks at the issues.
As Mayibuye went to print, the final text of the new constitution – in the form of a Bill – went to the government printers ahead of a vote in the Constitutional Assembly on Wednesday 8 May.
However, consensus had not been reached at that stage on three crucial issues – the property, lock-out and education clauses. Even after the Bill had been printed, ANC and National Party leaders were meeting to try and arrive at some compromise.
If agreement could not be reached, it would mean that the text which went to the Constitutional Assembly for a vote on 8 May might not have achieved the required two-thirds majority.
Out of the CA’s 490 members, a minimum of 327 members would need to vote in favour of the constitution in order for it to be passed. Since the ANC only has 312 seats in the CA, it would need the support of other parties to get the constitution passed. Even if the NP didn’t vote in favour of the text, parties like the Freedom Front, Democratic Party and Pan Africanist Party could get the constitution passed.
If the constitution was passed by the CA, it would be sent to the Constitutional Court, which would need to certify that the text complied with the 34 constitutional principles outlined in the Interim Constitution. These principles were agreed upon in multi-party negotiations at the World Trade Centre prior to the April 1994 election.
If the constitution was not passed by the CA, a panel of seven constitutional experts would have 30 days in which to propose amendments to the constitutional text – which the CA would then vote on.
If that failed, a referendum would be called to decide on the final constitution. It would need to be passed by a 60 percent majority of voters.
Although the constitutional text which was going before the CA contained substantial areas of agreement, the two years of negotiations had not been able to resolve three issues.
These issues each had something to do with the transition of South Africa from an apartheid society to a democratic nation. On each clause, parties like the NP and DP were seeking to maintain the inequalities of apartheid.
On the property clause, the NP and DP wanted to entrench current property ownership patterns by limiting the capacity of the state to implement land reform. While the ANC conceded that there could be a property clause, its formulation ensured that the clause couldn’t be used to maintain the present inequalities in land ownership.
On the question of a right to lock-out – which had seen Cosatu hold a national 24-hour strike – the ANC maintained its position that the right of employers to lock-out workers had no place in the constitution. It was prepared, however, to include a provision which would protect current provisions of the Labour Relations Act.
Cosatu said that there was a principle support for this proposal, but rejected any weakening of that proposal. The main opposition to the ANC’s proposal came from the Democratic Party.
The NP and Freedom Front were insistent that there should be a right in the constitution for single-medium schools, which the state would be compelled to fund. The ANC, while recognising the right to education in the official language of one’s choice, where practicable, rejected the single-medium proposal as an attempt to maintain racially-segregation and inequality in schools.
When Mayibuye went to print, the positions of the ANC – as the majority party – were contained in the constitutional text.
What if there’s a deadlock?
South Africa’s interim constitution requires that the Constitutional Assembly (CA) pass the final text of the new constitution within two years of the first sitting of the National Assembly on 9 May 1994. The final date for the adoption of the new constitution is therefore 8 May 1996.
The constitution requires that the final text be passed by a majority of two-thirds of all members of the CA. The Constitutional Assembly is comprised of 490 members – both the national assembly and the senate. In addition, a two-thirds majority is also required in the senate to pass provisions relating to the boundaries, powers and functions of the provinces.
In the event that a two-thirds majority is not obtained a draft constitution supported by a majority of CA members would be referred to a panel of constitutional experts for its advice on amendments to the proposed draft. Such advice is required to be given within 30 days. The Constitutional Assembly will then have to vote on the draft suggested by the panel, and pass it with a two-thirds majority.
If passed by the Constitutional Assembly the new text will only be of force and effect if certified by the Constitutional Court to be in compliance with the constitutional principles outlined in the interim constitution. The procedure for certification is set out in the CA rules.
The president of the Constitutional Court may direct the chairperson of the CA to provide any further information which is necessary and allow any interested parties in the CA to table written submissions or present oral argument if necessary. The Constitutional Court has provisionally indicated that it could sit for the month of June to consider the constitutional text with a view to certification.
Given the time constraints under which the CA has been working, an amendment to the Interim Constitution was proposed, which would allow the CA to reconvene for a further period if the final text was not certified by the Constitutional Court.
The amendment to the interim constitution accepted by the CA is that if the Constitutional Court finds that not all the provisions of the constitutional text comply with the constitutional principles, the court must set out in its ruling in what respect the constitutional text does not comply with the constitutional principles, and order the Constitutional Assembly to rectify the constitutional text within three months.
If the Constitutional Assembly fails to pass the amended text with a two-thirds majority – and fails to pass a suggested text from the panel of experts – any text supported by a majority of CA members will be referred to the electorate for a referendum after being certified again by the Constitutional Court.
If the text is supported by at least 60 per cent of South African voters, it will become the new constitution.
If the constitutional text fails to achieve at least 60 percent support in the referendum, the president will have to dissolve parliament and hold new elections for a Constitutional Assembly. The newly-constituted Constitutional Assembly would have one year to pass a new constitution.
Striving for a truly free state
After two years in government, the Free State ANC is taking stock of its achievements and shortcomings. Mziwakhe Hlangani spoke to provincial secretary Kaizer Sebothelo.
Having led the Free State provincial government for two years, the ANC in the province is seeking ways to improve government delivery and transformation while addressing organisational weaknesses, says ANC Free State secretary Kaiser Sebothelo.
The province has recently adopted a programme to achieve these objectives and generally advance the national democratic revolution. Sebothelo says the provincial programme for this year draws on the ANC’s January 8 statement.
Organisational structures – at provincial, regional and branch level – needed urgent resuscitation, he said.
The emphasis on delivery and transformation is being linked to the preparations for the 1998/9 general elections, he says.
The success of these objectives require that all strategic alliances with mass democratic movement and tripartite alliance formations be strengthened. People’s Forums are be held once again, to enable the ANC leadership to keep in touch with the masses.
It is imperative that broad administrative issues are considered first in rebuilding the organisation, Sebothelo says. Advanced planning is needed to stabilise the financial capacity of the organisation in the province and to promote self-sufficiency.
“The long-term part of the programme is to ensure preparations for the 1998/9 elections have begun. And we can only do that by keeping the machinery of the organisation oiled,” he says.
Failure to view the ANC inside and outside government as a single organisation has culminated in serious organisational weaknesses in the province. In many instances,this has disempowered the provincial executive committee, resulting in leadership tussles and inter-organisational conflicts.
Almost 90 percent of the provincial leadership is made up of members of either the national assembly, the provincial legislature or the provincial executive, which has deepened organisational problems, Sebothelo says.
While grappling with issues in the legislature, the same people are expected to be proficient leaders in the organisation, he says. This means that they are accounting to themselves when sitting in the ANC PEC meetings, debating government delivery issues. There is a need for a strong independent ANC view to monitor the activities of the provincial government, he says.
Other problems are linked to ANC leadership in government not respecting the ANC provincial leadership, which has weakened the PEC.
“For almost a year we have been sitting with such problems, without communication between some leaders in government and others leading the organisation. Our meetings were frequently dominated by a lot of tensions, for in every meeting we would discuss problems, instead of progress. This abated after the head office had intervened, which helped us adopt this significant programme,” he says.
Following local government elections, a similar problem has developed: most branch executive members are local government councillors. Now that a lot of their time and commitment is demanded by local and provincial government, most ANC structures are “dying on the ground”, he says.
Despite all these setbacks, the organisation remains a mass-based movement in the province. Communities still love and respect the ANC. An advantage is that there is no violence in the province, and the leadership has more time to concentrate on rebuilding the organisation, Sebothelo says.
Since the ANC took over power in most local councils, calls have been made for the removal of statues symbolising the past apartheid regime. Demands for the removal of former colonial statues should be viewed in the context of under-performance of the ANC in government, Sebothelo says.
These demands have been made without proper coordination with the ANC provincial office or the provincial government. This has often resulted in problems, since in the context of nation building and reconciliation, opinions of minorities need to be considered, he says.
Sebothelo warns that escalating crime is a security threat in the province. He says people in the province, especially white communities, believe the ANC government is failing in fighting crime.
He says that since white farmers have been killed in criminal attacks by robbers, the right wing has exploited the fears of white communities. He says the right wing is bent on encouraging some communities to take the law into their own hands by whipping up anti-ANC attitudes.
Free State to honour ANC birthplace
High on the list of the objectives of the ANC in the Free State is the establishment of a national monument at ‘Maphikela’ s House’, the place where the ANC was formed in 1912. This is intended to demonstrate to the nation the respect Free State communities have for the place where the ANC was founded. ANC Free State secretary Kaizer Sebothelo says the province is still in the process of soliciting the support of the national executive committee in its bid to raise funds for the success of the initiative.
‘Women’s oppression should come to an end’
Khensani Makhubela and Aurelia Dyantyi asked people in Johannesburg about their views on women’s empowerment.
Amanda de Bruyns says that women have a sense of responsibility. She says women should be given a chance to prove themselves and men should realise that women are capable and can also do what men can do.
“Men should give us the same responsibility as themselves, and husbands should start accepting that women can be breadwinners as well. Employers should stop looking at gender and start looking at capabilities,” says De Bruyns.
“After all, behind every successful man there is a woman. This shows how capable we are and how capable we can be when given the chance.”
Yvonne Josephs says: “Pregnant women should not be discriminated against,. They should be employed while they are pregnant. How will pregnant women acquire skills and experience if they are not given a chance.”
“Gone are the days that a women’s place is in the kitchen. We need to be empowered and we have proved to be more responsible than men. We have responsibilities at home and work, unlike men who only concentrate on their work,” Josephs says.
“I am colour blind, race blind and gender blind, so I fully support women’s empowerment. Empowering women is empowering a nation as a whole,” says GS Mlambo. Mlambo says that women empowerment is the best step South Africa has ever taken in its history.
“Women should be given positions that they deserve at work, they should not be deprived senior positions because they are women. They are very capable and very responsible in their own right,” Mlambo says.
Tania James says that when women do something they concentrate on it and they make sure that it is perfect: “Women are responsible people and they are very firm in challenging positions.”
She says women should be encouraged to go to school for further training so that they can stand a chance on the so-called ‘men’s positions’. There should be educational groups for women to encourage women empowerment.
“Women have never been given a chance to meet their needs because they have always been under-powered. Most opportunities are given to men. It is high time to give women a chance to prove their capabilities,” says Faith Ntuni.
“As women we should lobby around the issue until every women is empowered. It is our duty to see that women acquire the same skills as men and be recognised the same at working places. We should also not forget rural women, like men did in the past,” she says.
D Rama says women should be firm and fight for their rights, they should not be deprived of what is rightfully theirs.
“Women should lobby around issues like women’s empowerment because it is high time us men recognise their skills, capabilities and responsibilities. They should go for more training and they should be respected for their talents of being responsible,” he says.
“Women’s oppression should come to an end. We should be equal with men – we should just be on the same level with them. Employers must just stop discriminating against us. Our salaries should just be the same as long as we are doing the same type of work and have the same qualifications,” Matshiliso Ledwaba says.
“This thing of unmarried women not qualifying for housing bonds should come to an end, because it encourages employers to pay us very little knowing that we won’t be able to buy houses without men, and … makes a woman depend on a man,” she says.
Workers rally behind campaign for economic freedom
While celebrating this country’s democratic gains, South African workers are campaigning for economic freedom . Aurelia Dyantyi spoke to Cosatu general secretary Sam Shilowa about Workers Day.
After many years of struggle by workers in South Africa for recognition of 1 May, Workers Day is now celebrated as a public holiday.
The struggle by workers around the world for recognition of this day goes back over a hundred years when workers demanded an eight hour working day, a 40 hour week and a living wage.
Workers in South Africa used Workers Day 1996 to reflect on the struggle that they have been waging for the past year and to announce new programmes, including living wage struggles and issues relating to the current political situation.
Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Sam Shilowa said Cosatu had successfully used Workers Day last year to launch labour’s perspective on the new Labour Relations Act, which was still being drafted at that stage.
“That which we unveiled on 1 May [last year] eventually became that which – in an amended form and based on negotiations and consensus – was adopted in parliament in the form of the current labour legislation. I think its a victory for workers,” he said.
This year, the worker’s celebration came at a time when the constitution was just about to be adopted. Cosatu was fighting against a clause that would allow employers to lock out striking workers.
The very high level of unemployment in South Africa was also addressed at this year’s Workers Day. Cosatu called for the scrapping of overtime in order to create more jobs for the unemployed. It demanded that employers put four percent of their profits into training workers, which would increase the literacy rate in South Africa. The acceleration of economic growth and development in South Africa could also create more job opportunities, Cosatu said.
One of the issues highlighted in this year’s celebration was the empowerment of black business. Workers believe the empowerment of black business will eliminate poverty and create job opportunities for the great majority of people. Unions would use four billion rand from their pension funds towards buying Johnnic, a company created when Anglo American ‘unbundled’ some of its interests to encourage black investment, Cosatu said.
Shilowa said unions needed to explore how to “continuously move the ownership of the means of production away from big business” to ensure that workers themselves decided how resources would be invested.
“It must be seen as a way in which black economic empowerment is not some talk show for appointing one or two people for the enlargement of the elite, or changing white faces for black faces,” he said.
Shilowa made it clear that the federation was going into business. Not only was it calling on others to put money into building the economy, but it is was willing itself to put money into building the economy.
This shouldn’t however change the fundamental nature of trade unions: “Unions must remain unions. I think if we become business units what we’ll be doing will be just destroying the credibility of the labour movement.”
Worker’s Day was not going to be celebrated by Cosatu, ANC and SACP alliance only, but would include the greater public, including sectors like civic, youth, women, and students. Without those sectors the struggle of the working class was not likely to succeed, Shilowa said.
Shilowa said affirmative action was one of the issues which affected workers in South Africa, and but often caused confusion. The concentration of power in the monopolies and the fact that black business is involved on the periphery of the economy, was a situation which needed to be addressed, he said.
Shilowa said South Africa needed to adopt internationally acceptable standards and ways of dealing with labour migration. He said South Africa needed to differentiate between migrant people and migrant workers, because not all the people from other countries were occupying jobs in South Africa.
“What we need is a summit of southern African leaders that brings in presidents from these countries and [which] brings labour and civil society to look at something that says ‘we are one economic bloc – how do we ensure development in a way which does not break labour away from one country to the other’,” he said.
He said Cosatu had spoken to President Nelson Mandela and Mozambican president Joachim Chissano about the initiative of a summit in southern Africa, and “they both gave us favourable consideration”.
History of the worker’s holiday
The history of May Day stretches back over 100 years. On 1 May 1886, workers in the United States organised by International Workers of the World or “Wobblies” marched in support of an eight-hour day. This started an international tradition of observing a worker’s holiday on the first day of May.
South Africa came to this tradition only very recently, and after a long struggle by workers. On the 100th anniversary of the first May Day, Cosatu – which was just six months old – celebrated the occasion with rallies all over South Africa.
Many unions had by that stage campaigned for, and secured, May Day as a paid public holiday through plant and industry agreements. The National Party government at the time refused however to officially recognise the day.
In 1987 the government declared that Workers Day would henceforth be on the first Friday of May. That year 1 May fell on a Friday.
In 1988, 1 May fell on a Sunday. Worker’s celebrated on 1 May, but also took off the government-designated holiday on the first Friday. Employers were livid and the government embarrassed.
In 1989, the government declared that Workers Day would henceforth be on the first Monday of May. That year 1 May fell on a Monday.
Only in 1990, after years of foolish games, did the government proclaim that a workers holiday would henceforth be celebrated on 1 May. The Government of National Unity which was elected in 1994 confirmed this time-honoured tradition as a part of South Africa’s democratic dispensation.
Labour unveils job creation plans
Labour recently unveiled their proposals for achieving economic growth and social equity in South Africa. Mziwakhe Hlangani summarises the proposals.
Organised labour has developed a set of economic proposals to address South Africa’s vast inequalities in wealth distribution, high unemployment and lack of human resource development.
The document, called Social Equity and Job Creation, was unveiled recently by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) and the Federation of South African Labour (Fedsal) – the three components of Nedlac’s labour caucus.
In its contribution on the current debate, labour says economic growth and development need to occur together, for growth which only benefited shareholders, but offered no equity to workers and the unemployed, would not address the country’s economic problems.
According to Cosatu general secretary Sam Shilowa the document articulates labour’s key demands in many areas, like job creation, productivity, labour standards, industrial, fiscal and international policy. It is labour’s contribution to the broader economic debate on growth and development, he said. It will inform negotiations at a national level in Nedlac and also in the workplace.
Shilowa said labour’s proposals take into account delivery of services, the effective use of resources, social and political stability, human resource development and increased state involvement, where it was necessary.
“Empowerment of black business is of significance to workers since we believe it will eliminate poverty and create job opportunities for the greater majority,” Shilowa said.
The document says the economic inequalities in South Africa are not accidental. They are the natural outcome of the low wage policies followed by the private sector, and the deliberate policies of the old apartheid state to under-spend on social services for black people, the document says. It cites the example of former central government spending in education, health and housing.
The document says the high concentration of economic ownership and control by a few large conglomerates, has been helped by weak competition policies followed in the past and the use of pyramid companies to grant control to holding companies far in excess of the actual equity invested.
Such high levels of economic concentration, combined with a corporate culture which excludes black workers from decision-making, has produced a society of powerful and powerless, wealthy and poor. The country’s economic past has been based on low wages and a migrant labour system imposed with brutal force on black people, the document says.
Markets have been inadequate in responding to the social needs of human beings- in setting decent wages and fair standards, in protecting the poor and the marginalised, in correcting imbalances of wealth and inequality and in addressing the problems of exploitation: “Free markets, if reduced to the freedom to exploit, have led to the development of major inequalities and poverty in societies and defeated the purpose of economic policy.”
“The alternative is a coherent development plan, based on market realities and seeking to marshall resources towards the building of an efficient, dynamic economy. South Africa requires fresh social and economic policies for the new democracy, policies which mark a clear and decisive break with the policies of apartheid. The business must break with the past and embrace the new South Africa,” the document says.
In promoting social equity based on South African realities, labour organisations have called for a programme of job creation, redistributive fiscal policy, proposals to break up economic concentration, measures to promote worker rights, a plan to build industrial democracy and steps to promote economic development globally.
The labour movement points out that social equity requires substantial economic growth. Growth is important for workers, for it can provide an important basis to finance rising standard of living. It can provide employment for all, and it is able to finance increased tax revenues to pay for the delivery of social services to the poor.
A World Bank study on poverty in South Africa says: “Recent economic growth, following the trend in certain liberalised markets elsewhere in the world, has been jobless growth. While the GDP [Gross Domestic product] grew by 3,5 percent during 1995, much of this was jobless growth.”
“This suggested that only 55,000 new jobs were created in the formal non-agricultural sectors during last year, which is substantially below the number of new entrants to the labour market, meaning therefore, notwithstanding growth performance, unemployment increased both absolutely and proportionately,” the document says.
Growth is fostered by investment, training and technological innovation. These key engines of growth both contribute to, and are encouraged by rising productivity. An important part of stimulating sustainable growth is to improve productivity and efficiency in the workplace. This includes labour productivity but is by no means confined to it. Rising productivity can make local industry more competitive and can provide a major contribution to growth, according to labour’s document.
The labour movement, however, lamented the fact that debate on growth had been used by the business community to launch a systematic attack on organised workers and on social equity, as if the goal of economic growth was not precisely to foster social equity.
Role of the state
“The role of the state in the promotion of economic growth needs to be addressed. One perspective asserts, without any evidence, that the best role for the state is no role at all, either than combatting crime and keeping macro-economic balances. The other perspective, put forward by the trade union movement, draws on experiences elsewhere which demonstrate the economic value of particular types of state intervention in the economy.
“For example, Japan, Korea and Taiwan intervened strongly and systematically in the markets with industrial, trade and financial sector policies, to advance economic expansion, productivity, growth and export performance,” the document says.
All governments intervene in economic decision making. Some do so through the blunter tools of fiscal and monetary policy only. Others have active industrial policies which create a strong support environment for companies to do business in and thrive. Such policies address the flow of investment, the capacity of production and the availability of people and capital. It is through a system of incentives and requirements, it says.
“South Africa needs a set of active policies, which build a partnership for growth between the public and the private sector. We put forward the alternative economic vision set out in this document as a challenge to an economy which, whilst under the stewardship of big business, has failed our society,” the labour document says.
The labour proposals say big conglomerates own banking, mining, industrial and retail businesses. This concentration of power in a few hands limits the prospect of inclusive economic decision-making. Current efforts by big conglomerates to unbundle are no more than corporate camouflage, which retains power and control in the small groups of shareholders and their directors.
The labour movement proposes pragmatic trade policies geared towards opening up the economy in a manner which will not lead to massive job losses. Tariff reduction should not be driven by ideology, but by a careful analysis of its impact on domestic economy, it says.
It proposes a review of the current trade liberalisation programme and says that where job losses may result, the country should not liberalise faster than required under the terms of General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs.
“We propose a national productivity and equity framework agreement to be negotiated through Nedlac, to cover all industries, which should be put into place before October 1996. This should be part of the overall package of measures. The agreement should cover the goals of improving managerial, labour, capital and raw material usage productivity levels. It should deal with job creation and job security. Productivity should become a matter for collective bargaining,” the document says.
‘Business proposals are stale’
South Africa’s labour movement says the economic proposals put forward by business, in the SA Foundation’s ‘Growth for All’ document, “consist of restatements of ideologically driven solutions. Behind the gloss lies the oft-repeated programme of economic deregulation, lower tariffs, privatisation, weaker trade unions, lower corporate taxes, reduced labour standards and financial market liberalisation, which has been advanced by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and by international capital. South African business has merely repeated the stale and simplistic formulae underpinning this programme.”
In their own document of economic proposals, Nedlac’s labour caucus says: “It is time we break with the past, our history has been a bitter one dominated by colonialism, racism, apartheid, sexism and repressive labour policies. The result is that poverty and degradation exist side by side with modern cities and a developed mining, industrial and commercial infrastructure. The income distribution is racially distorted and ranks as one of the most unequal in the world.”
In defense of the revolution
In response to a question posed in Mayibuye‘s Study Series, Palesa Morudu says the National Democratic Revolution is still the correct route for South Africa.
The author of ‘Mayibuye Study Series no 7′ (Mayibuye, March 1996) asks if “national democratic transformation” is still a valid path in our country. Since the rest of the article is devoted to a discussion on Social Democracy, this question is never returned to. This article makes a case that the historic goal of the African National Congress – the national democratic revolution – has proven correct. The revolutionary perspective remains the necessary one for our people to transform South Africa into a country that belongs to all who live in it – black and white.
The system of apartheid denied the development of a modern South African nation. On the one hand, it robbed the African people of their land, prevented them from farming and, on the other hand, established the entire African population as a pool of cheap labour to exploit. The ANC has led the fight up to today for a true non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa.
The victory of the ANC in the 1994 election buried the system of apartheid once and for all. But the demands placed on our national democratic revolution are huge, precisely because apartheid was not just a mere racist inconvenience to black people. It was a system aimed at controlling every aspect of economic, political and social life of black people in South Africa.
Working people in our country today, having been at the forefront of the anti-apartheid struggle, remain in the vanguard in the new tasks we confront. As the central leaders of our organisation have stated time and time again, the democratic revolution we have embarked on will not be accomplished in a short span of time. But we must remain clear sighted about our goals set out in the Freedom Charter more than forty years ago. The masses of our people are fighting to establish a popular government in which they hold power: to open the land to millions who want to work it; to allow the people to truly share in the country’s wealth; to establish work and security, learning and culture, houses, peace, security, comfort and friendship for all.
The task now is to mobilise all our people from all races and ethnic groups around the massive challenges of the Reconstruction and Development Programme, for it is the only programme setting out our basic interests. This should often involve a united action by our people against all those who want to derail the process. The energy that was displayed by the people in the fight against apartheid should be harnessed to meet the challenges and tasks of today. This is very important because not everyone is happy with the gains working people made in South Africa. The transformation of South Africa will not come about through a “good government” which “delivers” on the RDP. It will be the people themselves who determine our future, just as it always has been.
The attempts by President Nelson Mandela for peace in KwaZulu/Natal should be encouraged and supported by all people in South Africa. We should all work towards achieving peace and unite the masses of that area around the RDP. The ongoing senseless violence only serves to perpetuate disunity and serves the interest of those who have a lot to loose by the unity of the people of KwaZulu/Natal. The situation in KwaZulu/Natal is a big obstacle to our national democratic revolution. Nelson Mandela and the leadership of the ANC understand this very well. One can only appreciate this profound sense of vision.
It is important to note that there will never be effective implementation of the RDP in KwaZulu/Natal for as long as this senseless violence continues. Furthermore the blatant racism portrayed by some few people in Potgietersrus, who want to contaminate the future leaders of our country – small children – with racist ideas, just indicate how far we still have to go. Such acts of racism can only be overcome with a united action of all people yearning for full freedom.
Let us learn from other struggles abroad. The Cuban people have at least made some progress in this regard. Their resoluteness to defend their country does not come from some ‘magical powers’ possessed by Cuban president Fidel Castro, but through their ability to grasp the reality entrusted to them by history; the collective defense of what has been gained through the revolution. It is precisely for this reason that they have shown so much courage and caution when going through this period, termed the ‘special period’ by the Cubans, which was introduced in Cuba after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Cubans lost 80 percent of their international trade with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Such a level of consciousness comes with political maturity and political experience. These we have shown in South Africa through defeating apartheid, the task now is to deepen and consolidate on our victory.
Let us learn from the great revolutions of our epoch – from the 1917 October revolution in Russia, to the building of a new society in Cuba. Humanity has indeed come a long way and the whole of it has hope in the future of South Africa. Let us not fail them. Time is on our side, let us cease the moment by building strong ANC branches and strengthen the ANC Youth League, because therein lies the success of the RDP and our national democratic revolution.
Palesa Morudu is a South African, presently studying in Washington DC in the United States.
Youth get down to work
The ANC Youth League has started strengthening the organisation from branch level up, writes a Youth League correspondent.
With the ANC Youth League’s Nineteenth National Congress behind it, the league has to get down to some serious business.
The top structures of the ANC Youth League at national and provincial levels have a daunting task of rebuilding the basic units of the organisation: branches. Delegates to the nineteenth Congress acknowledged that the Youth League was at its weakest since it was relaunched in 1991.
A national programme to revive all branches throughout the country is now in place, and provinces are beginning to implement it. The ANC Youth League is also making inroads in areas where the organisation has never had a significant presence before. It will be launching a number of new branches in these areas during May. It is also making inroads in universities, technikons, colleges and other institutions of higher learning. By the time this issue of Mayibuye is published the Youth League will have made history by launching a branch at the University of Pretoria.
Branches are the livelihood of the organisation. If they are inactive the entire organisation becomes inactive. Every member should become actively involved in the campaigns and programmes of the organisation.Branches should take initiatives instead of waiting for directives from the provincial or national office.
Branches must ensure that members are not members simply because they have their membership cards and renew their membership every year. With recharged and rejuvenated branches every member should be proud to be associated with the Youth League. Those who aren’t members must flock to ANCYL branches.
One of the key areas that the organisation will be paying serious attention to is leadership training. A programme has already been worked out to train quality leaders of the ANC Youth League at all levels of the organisation. The first target for the leadership training programme will be the branches, to ensure that high quality leaders who will help transform our branches into more creative and innovative ones are produced.
The ANC Youth League will engage in a number of national campaigns. The campaigns will include raising public support for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has already started with its work. The ANC Youth League branches throughout the country have already started organising public meetings for victims of apartheid atrocities and are encouraging them to testify before the commission.
The Youth League will join other groups who have already begun with the fight against crime, which is threatening peace and stability in the country. The league was the first organisation to develop the concept of ‘community policing’, which is now accepted by communities and the new police service. Branches will be encouraged to participate in these forums. In the past Youth League members have helped to retrieve stolen property and have assisted the police in arresting criminals.
The Youth League remains the largest and most influential youth organisation in the country. Many young South Africans see the ANC Youth League as an organisation that champions their interests and as a means through which they can speak on important national issues and contribute in the reconstruction and development of the country.
The ANC Youth League will continue to strive to unite the youth of this country through their various formations around issues of transformation, nation building and promoting new patriotism. The league is centrally involved in the process of establishing a national youth council, a body which will become the voice of all South Africa youth. The council is expected to be established within the next few months.
National Youth Commission
The Youth League was the prime mover for the establishment of a National Youth Commission. Parliament has now passed a bill which makes provision for the formation of the commission. The Youth Commission is expected to be in place by June, when the appointment of commissioners by the president will be finalised.
The establishment of the National Youth Commission will mark a very important step by the government in improving the situation of South African youth and empowering them to make a meaningful contribution in the reconstruction and development of the country. The ANC Youth League hopes that the establishment of the commission will be followed by the creation of a structure in the national executive to ensure that all government departments implement government policy on youth. The league will continue to lobby for support for the creation of such an executive structure.
This year will be the twentieth anniversary of June 16. This day has always reminded the people of South Africa and elsewhere in the world of the ugly events that followed a peaceful demonstration by the students of Soweto.
In 1994 the Government of National Unity declared the day a national holiday, and named it South Africa Youth Day. This was in honour of the youth who died in 1976 and in recognition of the role that the youth played in the national liberation struggle.
The biggest challenge for this year’s commemoration will be to get all young people of this country to accept the day as their own and commemorate together.
The ANC Youth League has in the past organised massive events to commemorate the day. During the apartheid years it used the day to mobilise the youth to support and involve themselves in the national liberation struggle. At that time it would have been inappropriate to organise joint meetings with those who wanted apartheid to be retained in one form or another.
Today there are factors which compel all youth to unite and work together to preserve our fledgling democracy. Young people have a duty to build patriotism and set the pace for the transformation of the society into a truly non-racial, non sexist and democratic one.
This is the first of a new monthly column on the work of the ANC Youth League.
Youth League elects National Working Committee
At its first meeting held in March, the newly-elected Youth League National Executive Committee elected the National Working Committee, which will be charged with the task of ensuring practical implementation of the programme of action adopted at the Durban Congress. The members elected were:
Bheki Nkosi – Organising
Nomfanelo Kota – Education
Thabo Masebe – Information and Publicity
Fikile Mbalula – Political Education
Dorothy Mahlangu – Gender coordinator
Songezo Mjongile – Youth Development
Neville Naidoo – Provincial and Legislative Affairs
The seven elected members are joined by the five officials elected at national congress, who are ex-officio members of the NWC.
Using public meetings effectively
Public meetings are essential for any political organisation. Nazly Dangor provides some suggestions to ensure they’re successful.
When planning a public meeting, there are a number of things you need to clarify before doing anything. You need to establish the purpose of your meeting – what do you hope to achieve. A meeting which aims merely to inform people about something requires a different approach from a meeting in which you want to persuade people to support you on a particular issue.
Having done this, you need to decide on the audience you want to reach. Do you want to everyone in the community, just your supporters or maybe just business people? Then you should clarify the message you want to convey through the meeting.
Decide on a date and time for the meeting, and decide how long it should be. A lunch-time or evening meeting can’t be too long. You need to ask yourself how long the people you are trying to reach will be prepared to sit.
VENUE: The place where the meeting is to be held should be booked about three weeks in advance. Useful venues are churches, schools, colleges or community halls. Weekend meetings should be near people’s homes. Weekdays should be near the workplace. Transport to and from the meeting should also be taken into consideration.
When booking the venue take into consideration the cost of the venue, the cost of a public address system and whether you are expected to clean up after the meeting.
Ensure that there is a sloping reading desk for speakers, and chairs and a table on stage. How many people can be seated in the hall? Are there enough seats? Can you put up banners and posters?
REFRESHMENTS: Refreshments such as tea and biscuits can be served as a break between speeches and question time, or before or after the meeting. Decide whether you want to charge for refreshments and, if so, how much.
SPEAKERS: The chairperson and speakers must be people your audience respect and will listen to. Decide on the order of speakers and whether you have time for messages of support or questions from the floor. The speakers must appeal to the audience, speak clearly and interestingly and keep to time limits.
CHAIRPERSON: The chairperson should represent your organisation. The chairperson’s job is to welcome the audience, introduce speakers, make announcements, deal with problems – like speakers who speak too long or hecklers – and should close the meeting.
BRIEF YOUR SPEAKERS: Tell your speakers exactly what you want them to do once they have confirmed that they will come and talk at your meeting. The briefing should be done in writing and by talking to the speakers.
Try and get the speakers and chairperson together for a briefing meeting a week or two before the meeting to discuss their speeches and make sure they talk about different things. Ask all speakers to come to the hall 15 minutes early. Arrange transport for your speakers, as you are responsible for the cost of their transport.
BRIEF YOUR CHAIRPERSON: Also brief your chairperson, in writing and by talking, on the order of the speakers and what they are talking about. Tell them how to introduce the speakers and what must be said about each one; what messages of support must be read and who will read them; and how you want the question time, tea break or other details to be arranged.
Public meetings should be well advertised by using mailing lists, posters, pamphlets and newspapers, especially your local newspaper.
If you want your meeting covered by newspapers, radio or television, you must invite them to come to your meeting. Send invitations to South African and foreign journalists at least a week in advance.
Give them a name and phone number to phone for more information.
Open the hall at least an hour early, set out the chairs and put up your banners and posters. Set up tables at the door if you intend to sell publications.
Test the public address system and set out chairs, tables and a sloping reading table and a water jug for speakers.
Go through a final briefing and give each speaker and the chairperson a written agenda.
Make sure there are places for journalists and photographers. Your publicity secretary or press officer should be available to greet journalists and answer questions and help to set up interviews with speakers. Have printed copies of all speeches to give to journalists, if possible.
Brief ushers and marshals. They should show people to their seats, hand out pamphlets, look out for possible hecklers and generally act in a helpful way.
The chairperson should open the meeting and briefly explain its purpose, introducing all speakers by name and organisation. Before each speech the chairperson re-introduces the person who will speak. The chairperson will say something about the person and why the person was asked to speak, or in some other way explain the context of the speech.
The chairperson or someone else in the organisation could read messages of support. The chairperson can ask a long-winded speaker to finish speaking. The chairperson closes the meeting by thanking the speakers and the audience.
After the meeting
Chat and be friendly to people who stay behind to ask questions – they might want to join your organisation. Clean up the hall and remove posters and banners.
- Also evaluate your meeting:
- Was it a success?
- How many people came?
- Did you achieve your aim?
- What problems were there?
- What have you learnt?
This evaluation will help you greatly when planning your next public meeting.
A mixture of old and new
This collection of short stories has an interesting mix of traditional and modern tales, writes June Madingwane.
Colour Me Blue is a collection of eighteen short stories, which give an account of day-to-day events. It also relates tales which used to be told by the older generation. Some of these are stories of giants which used to eat people and their crops. From these tales, the reader is whisked away to a different era where the author relates the life of street kids and shows how they ended up on the streets.
Their only homes are pavements and public toilets. The stories describe how they have to endure harassment from the police and some members of the public. On learning how these children ended up in the streets, one cannot help feeling hatred towards those who are responsible for these hideous deeds. What is fascinating about these children is that they dream of owning homes and having families of their own. Some dream of becoming soccer stars.
The setting of most of the stories in this book is the cities and neighbouring villages of Botswana. Women are portrayed as strong and having great leadership qualities. Some men feel threatened by these women and they strive to destroy them. As it turns out, their efforts are all in vain. Some of the women are teachers, others hold high positions as executives.
In one story, a love affair between a white woman and a black man leads to marriage. As lovers, this couple did almost everything together. They spent a lot of time doing what they liked. After the wedding, the man was expected to spend time with other men, either looking after livestock or at Kgotla (tribal court). The woman had to stay at home with other women. Because there were cultural and racial barriers between her and the other women, she felt like she did not belong with them. One option for her would be divorce. But divorce would symbolise the destruction of family values.
Other stories include one about attacks by terrorists, where the victims cannot be attended to because the police said they had hundreds of such cases which they had to attend to. One family which was attacked managed to get out of it unscathed. They hid the children under the bed. The short story is called: ‘Hide them under the bed’.
As drought struck in some of the villages, some men had to leave their homes to look, quite literally, for greener pastures. Some flocked to Krugersdorp in South Africa where they found work in mines. Life turned out to be quite unexpected. The living conditions were a disgrace. This included working for long hours and earning low wages. They were treated like slaves. Their every move was watched. Tribal fighting was rife on the mines, yet the authorities did not do much to stop it.
Accidents also occurred, where men died and some were injured. This migrant labour had a disastrous effect of family life. Families were broken in this manner, because husbands were separated from their wives and families for a whole year at a time. This was due to the contracts they had to sign.
One story tells of an encounter with a tokoloshe. This creature is believed to be a product of witchcraft. It is half-man and half-baboon. It can only be seen by its victim. When making food for it, no salt has to be added. Such encounters are common in some villages where witchcraft is rife.
This mixture of traditional story telling and modern day-to-day struggles makes this collection of short stories an interesting and diverse read.
The Australian-born Gaele Sobott-Mogwe emigrated to Botswana in the late-1970s, where she became a citizen. Her stories are written in English, yet there are a lot of Setswana words. People who have a good command of Setswana will understand the stories better.
Title: Colour Me Blue
Author: Gaele Sobott-Mogwe