1 December 1997
50th National Conference
From the 16th to 20th of December, delegates from all over the country will meet in Mafeking to deliberate and prepare the ANC for the 21st century. The central theme of the conference: Building on the Foundations for a Better Life, Forward to the 21st Century, captures the mammoth task the ANC has set for itself.
In the past three years of governance, the ANC has laid the foundations for a better life for all, as envisaged in the Freedom Charter of 1955, and the Reconstruction and Development Programme. The struggles of the people, supported by the international community, brought an end to the abhorrent system of apartheid colonialism and ushered in a new era of social democracy, peace and justice.
We have only started along a long road towards justice and true equity. The new constitutional order and the government based on the will of the people express both the immediate and long-term interests of the overwhelming majority of South Africans.
In countries where the aspirations and wishes of its people were suppressed by oppressive regimes, transition to a new democratic order has never been smooth. Counter-revolutionary forces loyal to the former oppressive regimes remain active in their efforts to subvert the transformation process of such fragile societies. South Africa is no exception. As a liberation movement, and political organisation in power, we have to adopt means of dealing with, not only the threats of counter-revolution, but also perpetrators of such counter-revolutionary acts.
We are faced with several challenges with regard to the transformation of the state machinery, economic transformation, meeting the social needs of our society, and the creation of a safe and secure environment for all South Africans to enjoy their new-found freedoms.
Conference will deliberate on key policy issues. Our programmes and policies that we will adopt at this historical 50th National Conference, will affect the lives of every South African. The overwhelming presence of a press corp, foreign and local, signifies the importance of this 50th National Conference.
This conference will also bade farewell to President Nelson Mandela, who is stepping down as ANC President.
Having emerged from 27 years of incarceration, he rose through the ranks of the African National Congress, elected first as deputy president, under the presidency of the late Oliver Tambo, and later president. At a time when most men of his age would be ready for retirement, Madiba has shown an energy and leadership skill that have won him international admiration and unanimous respect among the different groups within the country.
Mayibuye joins the millions of South Africans and our friends in Africa and other continents, in paying tribute to the great leadership of Madiba. In this edition, we publish several articles paying homage to Madiba.
It has not been easy for the authors to pen their thoughts. In the words of Mac Maharaj “How does one pay tribute to a living legend?”
At the same time as President Mandela stepping down, several of the tried and tested leadership of our movement, will also not make themselves available for re-election. Under the able leadership of the late ANC president Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela, they served the African National Congress unselfishly. As South African Revolutionaries, they fought relentlessly against the oppressive apartheid regime.
We pay tribute to these heroes and heroines.
Three years of ANC Governance
The ANC has made tremendous strides in creating a better life for all in our country. In the next edition of Mayibuye, we will look at the successes, failures, as well as our future plans as the major party in government. Don’t miss it!
A look at events that made news in November and December
Water scarcity could threaten food supply in Southern Africa, says new study
Water shortages over the next few decades could push Southern Africa to the brink of human disaster unless steps are taken now to regulate the water supply so farming in the region can begin to grow enough food to feed the population, according a a new book issued last month by the Washington, DC -based International Food Policy research Institute (IFPRI).
The area, which includes Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, has been prone to drought historically and could be standing in the path of yet another one.
All countries of the region are projected to expereince serious declines in the availibity of fresh water between now and the year 2050, according to the book Achieving Food Security in Southern Africa: New Challenges, New opportunities, edited by Lawrence Haddad. Countries experience “water stress” when their fresh water resources are between 1000 and 1600 cubic meters per capita. South Africa, for example, had fresh water resources of 1,349 cubic meters per capita in 1990, and those resources are projected to drop to 555 cubic meters by the year 2050, the book says.
Such declines could have serious effects on food production in the region. “Agriculture is by far the biggest consumer of water resources and the most ineffecient user,” said Lenka Thamae, a contributor to the book and engineer for the Water Sector of the Southern African Development Community. “Projections show that Africa will need to triple its agricultural production in the period 1990 to 2050 to achieve food security for its growing population.”
“Water management solutions must be tailored to the situation and will involve the state, user-based groups and markets,” the book says.
Water management is more complicated than digging new wells or building pipelines to carry water from areas with plenty to the parched lands that need it. Such measures frequently involve crossing international boundaries. This could be grounds for conflict or the medium for regionwide collaboration.
In addition to calling for the countries of Southern Africa to work together, the study says they need to be extraordinarily forward-looking because it may take as long as 45 years to reap a return on investments in new cources of water.
Much of the food production in Southern Africa is accomplished by smallholder farming operations, which need government investment in such areas as agricultural extension and research to improve their productivity, says the study. In South Africa, however, blacks have been limited to subsistance agriculture, and other small-scale agriculture has historically been eliminated. “To create a vibrant agricultural economy with plenty of jobs, South Africa must restructure its rural economy, promoting diverse frm structures including commercial, small-scale family-type farms,” said contributor Johan van Zyl of the Faculty of Biological and Agricultural Sciences, University of Pretoria.
According to the book, “Food security is achieved when all people at all times have access to sufficient food for a healthy and productive life.”
That is not the case now in Southern Africa: “One in two people in the Southern Africa region is food insecure, and one in four prescholl children is malnourished. Given that the countriues of the region have widely varying resources and levels of development and that the existing date are limited in scope and often inaccurate, these sobering numbers may not even reflect the full extent of the problem. if recent food production trends continue, the gap between food production and requirements will grow rapidly.”
The book suggests changes in five areas:
- Trade and economic policies that do not tax agriculture or other labour-intensive industries;
- Land and agricultural policies that will help the region’s many small farmers become as productive as possible;
- Water resource policies that allocate water appropriately;
- Cost-effective social welfare and safety net programes to provide for the poor; and
- Promotion of rural infrastructure at an appriate level.
According to contributor Edward Breslin of South Africa’s Mvula Trust, safety net programs need not be entirely state run: “Non-governmental organisations are uniquely positioned to address the complex needs of the poor. Their small size, community contacts, and grassroots orientation foster flexible, locally specific approaches.
Why has South African Land Reform Failed?
Despite the overwhelming success of the RDP, the democratically elected government has failed to implement an effective land reform programme, argues Ray Goforth.
South Africa’s apartheid regime was one of the ugliest experiments in human history. It combined racism with 20th century technology to subjugate 86% of the population to the needs of the white minority. In 1994, the world watched with amazement as the apartheid regime peacefully dissolved, avoiding the final climactic bloodbath that had been anticipated for decades.
The democratically elected South African government (led by the African National Congress) committed itself to undertake broad
and sweeping efforts to reverse the deprivations institutionalized by apartheid. These efforts were outlined in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). The RDP is a policy framework developed through extensive consultation between the African National Congress, its tri-partite alliance partners (Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party) and other mass organizations in the broader civil society.
Three years after the promulgation of the Reconstruction and Development Programme, it implementation has been both a spectacular success and an abysmal failure.
The successes of the RDP can be measured in several accomplishments that concretely improve the health and well-being of South Africa’s poorest citizens. Free healthcare has been instituted for women and children; a nutrition program now reaches over 12,000 schools; over 550 new health clinics have been built and nearly 2500 have been or are in the process of being upgraded. More than 1.3 million new electrical connections have been made and the one-millionth water connection was completed in early 1997. Taken together, these are staggering accomplishments for a nation that teeters with one foot in the developing world and one foot in the developed.
In sharp contrast to the RDP success stories stands the nation’s experiment with land reform. The RDP’s land reform goals had three broad thrusts. The first was the strengthening of tenure rights for the rural poor. Second, land restitution was to be made to those who could prove that their or their family’s land had been stolen under apartheid. And third, the nation was to redistribute 30% of agricultural land to the rural poor. All three goals were to be achieved before the year 2000. To date, South Africa is not on its way to achieving any of these goals.
After two years of parliamentary wrangling, new laws were passed to protect the tenure rights of the rural poor but the government is finding them almost impossible to enforce. White farmers who fear the increased legal rights being given to those who they once dominated with impunity have turned to violence and intimidation. Tens of thousands of labor tenants have found themselves illegally evicted. When they turn to the government for help they often find a bureaucrat who was appointed during the apartheid regime. Many of these apartheid bureaucrats were allowed to keep their jobs so the new government wouldn’t lose the intellectual capital of their administrative expertise. That decision now haunts the rural poor who find that the face who is supposed to protect their tenure rights from unscrupulous white farmers is the same face who denied their very humanity under apartheid.
The land restitution program has bogged down under the sheer weight of the task it is charged with. Beginning with the 1913 Natives Land Act, non-white South Africans were subjected to periodic waves of land confiscations. By the time of the democratic transition in 1994, approximately 60,000 white farmers owned over 80% of agricultural land while 11 million non-whites lived in rural poverty. The Department of Land Affairs estimates that over 3.5 million people and their descendants were victims of racially-based land dispossession and forced removal during the apartheid era. Currently the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights estimates it could take up to 15 years to complete the adjudication of the 13,000 pending land claims affecting more than one million people.
The final component of the RDP’s land reform program is land redistribution. The RDP targeted 30% of land for redistribution to the rural poor before the year 2000. As of June 1997, less than 2% has changed hands.
Although the RDP calls for land expropriation “where appropriate,” only .29% of land has been transferred to the poor though this mechanism. Instead, the government has relied upon a “willing-buyer/willing-seller” mechanism for land redistribution.
The Settlement/Land Acquisition Grant is the primary instrument that the government relied upon to facilitate the land transfer visualized in the RDP. The grant program provides a 20% subsidy for the purchase of land by the poor. This program has failed to effectuate its design because the rural poor have found it quite difficult to come-up with the other 80% of the purchase price and even more difficult to find a willing seller of prime agricultural land.
If the white farmers were content to own the farms while the non- white landless were forced by economic depravation to work for them under the apartheid system, why would they wish to change that relationship after the dismantling of apartheid? Indeed, very few have. The willing-buyer/willing-seller approach to land reform is dependent upon the willingness of white farmers to divest themselves of their land. However, for the most part today’s white farmers are the children and grandchildren of the white farmers who actively supported the apartheid policies that drove non-whites off of their land. Such forced removals benefitted these white farmers by opening-up land for them to farm and providing an agricultural labor pool composed of the now landless non-whites.
Given the dismal results from the willing-buyer/willing-seller approach to land reform, it is clear that adhering to this approach is unrealistic if the goals of the RDP are to be achieved. As a broad policy framework, the RDP provides a wide channel through which the African National Congress can steer the ship of state. However, so far the government’s land reform efforts have steered well to the right. The RDP explicitly acknowledges that reliance upon market forces will not remedy the unjust wealth distribution created by apartheid and the government should amend its land reform program to acknowledge this reality.
Tepid market interventions such as providing 20% subsidies on land acquisition are wholly inadequate to alter the maldistribution of agricultural capacity that is the result of apartheid. Even if there is a willing-seller, the government may find that its subsidies simply contribute to land price inflation leading to further enrichment of the current property holders and providing little net benefit to the landless millions.
The current stage of social transformation in South Africa is ideal for land expropriation and redistribution. The populace is eager for substantial change. If the government delays this fundamental prerequisite to a successful land reform program, they may miss their chance to institute such a program with the minimum of negative consequences. Domestic and foreign investors are made nervous by instability. However, everyone expects that fundamental economic restructuring will be necessary to fully dismantle apartheid. The time for such fundamental change is now. Five to ten years in the future, land expropriation will not be perceived by the international community as the correct and just remedy for apartheid land policies. Instead, delayed land expropriation will be perceived as destabilizing and threatening to international investment.
There are currently 500,000 subsistence farmers and an additional 11 million rural poor who are the potential beneficiaries of a successful land reform program. A successful transfer of agricultural land to those who actually till the soil would ease unemployment, crime and overcrowding in the cities (by stemming the immigration of rural jobless) and provide the foundation for just and equitable development in the countryside. The government gave voluntary land redistribution a good faith try and it is now time for a comprehensive expropriation program.
Servicing the apartheid debt has a crippling effect on the implementation of the Reconstruction and Development Programme. It is not fair that the ANC-led government should continue paying the debt incurred by the apartheid regime, writes Palesa Morudu.
The ANC-led government, faced with the task of transforming South Africa, this year alone paid about R40bn to service debt incurred by the apartheid rulers. There can be no clearer indication, that while the ANC attained political office, the masses of our people have not attained power.
This debt is immoral and unjust. It has already been paid many times over through the profits exacted from the labour of black South African and the theft of our land. The debt must be cancelled.
The recently launched campaign for the cancellation of the apartheid debt targets this obstacle to the Reconstruction and Development Program. Apartheid debt refers to the national debt incurred from both local and international sources during the years of white rule until the 1993 establishment of the Transitional Executive Council. In addition, the campaign seeks the abolition of subsequent liabilities/loans taken out by the government since 1994 to continue making payments on the debt. These loans represent apartheid debt of a special type.
Land reform, education and literacy, health care, housing, and jobs remain at the heart of transformation of South Africa. Without these, the democratic revolution can have no meaning. Servicing the apartheid debt is a crippling factor to implementation of the RDP. This year, when the national budget was presented to parliament, about 20% of total expenditure by the government was spent to make interest payments on the debt. Total government debt now stands at some R300billion. In the current budget, spending on most of the RDP priorities was cut in real terms, after taking inflation into account.
The debt servicing i.e., just interest payments currently sucks up billions of rands of the national income. This is the second highest expenditure of government after education.
All aspects of financing the racist regime contributed to the murder, torture, and imprisonment of thousands of freedom fighters. The apartheid rulers set up an elaborate infrastructure in a clear attempt to thwart the course of building a non-racial society in South Africa. They established the homelands system, the tricameral parliament, the black local authorities, the hated pass laws, the immorality act. They enforced these measures with a reign of terror through the State Security Council, the military, police, the third force, and many others.
To the wealthy landowners, bankers, and factory owners, these facts constitute a litany of “mistakes” and “excesses” in the “unfortunate past.” The scribes of the big-business media, meanwhile, write of the “previously disadvantaged communities.” Are those millions without land, water, and jobs suddenly “advantaged?”
Such well-glossed lies are an attempt to conceal the evident reality, that the vast majority of blacks in South Africa remain a pool of cheap labour for owners of big capital, notwithstanding our democratic conquests. Revolutionaries have an obligation to tell the truth, not merely to recognise it. And truth be told: paying the interest on this debt is an onerous burden affecting working people.
The campaign recognises the international doctrine of “odious debt.” The doctrine spells out that lenders who finance totalitarian regimes have no guarantees of protection from international law. It declares that when a government incurs debts to subjugate the population of its territory, these debts are odious to the indigenous population; hence the incoming government has no moral obligation to honour them. This doctrine matches the circumstances of the apartheid state and rightly informs the campaign for cancellation.
Cuban president Fidel Castro had this to say in the campaign led by his government for the cancellation of the entire Third-World debt in the mid 1980s: “What is truly immoral, an act of bad faith, and practically a betrayal of mankind, is to force the people to go hungry; live in poverty; to live in the worst material, educational, cultural, and health conditions not the cancellation of the debt, whose payment cannot be exacted from people who received nothing, no benefit, from that money.” [Fidel Castro, Nothing Can Stop the Course of History; Elliot & Dymally; Pathfinder: 1986.]
Who owns the debt?
Forty percent is owed to the Public Investment Commission a semi-government body that is the chief lender to the government for financing civil service pensions. Fifty percent is owed to business, commercial banks, insurers and other wealthy entities and individuals. The remaining amount is owed to the Reserve Bank and about five percent is foreign debt.
The campaign for the cancellation of the apartheid debt calls on all the partisan of the democratic movement to participate. This should be part of discussions in our branch, union, student, church meetings, and wherever we function politically. The battle to implement the RDP is not just a question of good policy but bringing the same social forces that defeated apartheid to bear in mobilisation to assist comrades currently deployed in government.
A steering committee to lead the campaign has been established. It consists of representatives from the South African National NGO Coalition, the labour movement, youth and student organisations as well as church organisations. The campaign is calling for mass actions and programmes to highlight the crippling effects of apartheid debt repayment on our transformation.
* The South African National NGO Coalition can be contacted at (011) 403-7746
Now more than ever – an SACP perspective on the Alliance
by Jeremy Cronin
To understand the alliance is to understand the ANC itself. The ANC is not just another political party, alongside the NP, the IFP, or the DP. The founders of the ANC described it as “a parliament of the people”. Many things have changed since 1912, but the tradition of the ANC as a people’s parliament is, we believe, still powerfully relevant.
The April 1994 elections sent the ANC, with a huge majority, to the parliament in Cape Town. What, in essence, is that parliament? With the exception of the ANC (and perhaps the PAC), all the other political parties in the Cape Town parliament represent constituencies that benefited (or think they benefited) from the apartheid past. White capitalists, white Afrikaner nationalists, confused parts of ethnic minorities, ex-bantustan elites – these are the constituencies represented by the other parties in Cape Town.
The Cape Town parliament expresses an objective reality. While April 1994 was a major democratic breakthrough, the old ruling class and its allied social forces have not disappeared. Particularly on the ideological and economic fronts, these forces still control vast resources. The resources are used to wage an unceasing struggle to block thorough-going transformation, to retain as much of past power and privilege in the hands of the old elites.
The political play of forces in the Cape Town parliament is, in essence, about this. That parliament provides an institutional framework for the national liberation movement (represented by the ANC) to contest and negotiate with the political representatives of weakened but still powerful ruling elites from the past. The Cape Town parliament is an important reality. It is far better for these contests to be contained within democratic structures, than for them to spill over into unconstitutional destabilisation.
But there is a second “parliament” – the ANC itself. This broad popular movement is made up of different ideological currents and social strata. This second “parliament” is the home of the great majority who, historically, suffered from racial oppression. It is also the home of all genuinely patriotic and democratic forces, those who recognise that the struggle to overcome the legacy of colonial and apartheid oppression remains number one priority of our society.
This second “parliament” is the place in which we seek to mobilise and unify, through debate, discussion, negotiation and action, these different progressive currents and strata. The ANC does not belong to one or another current – whether emerging black entrepreneurs or communists. The overriding basis for the strategic unity of all these forces within the ANC “parliament” is the common commitment to an ongoing National Democratic Revolution.
But what exactly do we mean by the NDR? This is a critical question. All too often confusions within the ANC and the Alliance arise because comrades evoke the “NDR”, but mean quite different things by it.
Fortunately, at the recent Tripartite Alliance Summit (August 31/September 1), considerable time was devoted to discussing the NDR, and the following broad consensus emerged:
* The NDR should not be seen in narrow ideological terms. Nor should it be thought of as a mechanical “stage”. When approached in this way, two seemingly opposed, but mutually reinforcing conceptions of the NDR get propagated. The one argues that (since it is only in a “second stage” that we shall be building “socialism”) the key strategic task of the present is “to construct a free-market capitalism”. The other position argues that (since the NDR is “capitalist”) we do not need to take this “stage” too seriously, it is a necessary delay, but with no inherent value. The Summit distanced itself from both these ways of thinking about the NDR.
* The NDR is not defined centrally by answering the question: “Is it socialist or capitalist?” It is defined by its core strategic values – to build a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united South Africa. It is about “All Power to the People” – in the words of the ANC’s draft Strategy and Tactics document.
* The ANC’s alliance partners, the SACP and COSATU, have obviously adopted socialist programmes. Both state in their strategic documents and resolutions that their commitment to socialism is not in opposition to the NDR or the ANC. Both see the struggle for People’s Power and all that it involves (democracy, patriotic unity, non-racialism, non-sexism) as absolutely integral to the struggle for socialism. The present NDR is not a delaying tactic, or a free ride on the way to a different agenda. The ANC’s alliance partners believe that only under socialism will the NDR goals be fully realised. They also believe that without democracy, patriotic unity, non-racialism and non-sexism – socialism itself will be meaningless.
* Some non-communist and non-COSATU members of the ANC may agree with this general socialist perspective. Others will not. Still other ANC members might see this kind of ideological debate as “irrelevant” in the face of the huge practical challenges confronting us. It is precisely to organise and unify all of these progressive forces, regardless of secondary differences, that the ANC and the alliance exist.
* While we might have our differences about socialism, what is undeniable is that we are struggling for an NDR in a country and in a world dominated by capitalism. None of us can run away from this reality. The strategy and tactics of the ANC and its alliance partners in these concrete conditions involve a transformational engagement with capitalism. Capitalist accumulation has an inherent tendency (as the ANC Draft Strategy and Tactics document recognises) to reproduce gross class, national and global inequalities. We have, continually, to struggle against this tendency.
* At the same time, we have to find, through engagement, negotiation and inducement, points of convergence with the private sector – after all, it owns and controls vast resources that we require for the transformation of our country. We have to work both with and against the profit-seeking logic of private capitalism. Failure to appreciate both the “with” and the “against” results in one-sided positions, which are often at the heart of intra-ANC and intra-alliance debates. Of course, finding the right balance between “with” and “against” in any particular situation is a difficult matter. It is likely to be an area of legitimate debate within our alliance.
All of the above is the strategic foundation of the ANC itself and of the alliance it leads. This alliance is not an invention, nor an arrangement that stands or falls on the basis of “good feelings”. The alliance is rooted in the realities of South Africa – a country in which the legacy of racial oppression continues to be the defining feature of our society. But it is also a society in which the working class, uniquely for Africa, is numerically and overwhelmingly dominant.
It is not surprising that, for over seventy years, an alliance has been forged that involves a broad-based national liberation movement, a party of socialism, and the revolutionary trade union movement. The challenges facing us in South Africa require a powerful strategic unity of these alliance forces – now, more than ever.
Reparation for victims of gross human rights violations
The African National expresses its appreciation to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the outstanding work which it has performed and continues to perform. Besides the overall management of its function by the Commission itself, the ANC recognises the historic contribution of the Amnesty Committee, the Human Rights Violations Committee and the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee. In the view of the ANC, the work of these three committees go together.
In the same way that amnesty forms part of an overall constitutional and political settlement which brought an end to white domination and ushered in democracy, human rights and the rule of law, telling the truth about human rights violations in our country is an important part of reconciliation. Without the truth being told – no matter how painful it may be – the road to reconciliation is rendered more difficult. That is why the work of the Human Rights Violations Committee is equally historic.
But the work of the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee has been totally ignored by many sectors in our society. In the view of the ANC, the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee and its recommendations must be given serious consideration. The road to reconciliation will be rendered more perilous unless there is adequate reparation and rehabilitation, and unless definite concrete programmes are implemented to restore the dignity of victims, their families, victim communities and the nation.
It is the view of the ANC that those who benefited from apartheid, who still enjoy the privileges which the apartheid system created for them, especially the business and professional sectors, have failed to respond in any way in concrete terms to promote reconciliation.
There is a growing perception that it is blacks – the victims of the grossest violations of human rights to have taken place in our country – who are being called upon to forget and forgive. The perception is further that those who benefitted and continue to enjoy the privileges, major sectors of white society are not prepared to make any sacrifices and any contribution to promote reconciliation.
The ANC salutes those individuals and groups, including whites, who have called for meaningful reparation. The ANC notes the courage of people like Prof, Sampie Terblanche who has made a proposal to jolt white South Africans, especially business, into realising the seriousness of the situation. Let this be a wake-up call for South Africa that there needs to be real reparation, rehabilitation and restoration of dignity for reconciliation to succeed. It is not enough to say that proposals which have been made are unacceptable. Those beneficiaries of apartheid, including business, especially big business, must go further to say what they propose to contribute towards making reparation real.
The African National Congress has given consideration to the proposals submitted by the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee of the TRC. The preliminary response of the ANC is as follows:
1. Urgent interim relief
The ANC recognises the need for urgent interim relief and accepts that government must respond immediately to ensure that such interim relief as is possible, is provided. In this regard the TRC will be submitting to the President the list of persons who have been found to be victims in terms of the TRC law and who are in need of urgent interim relief. On the basis of the TRC report, government will no doubt consider the recommendations without delay and provide such urgent relief as is within the means of government. In this regard we await the report from the TRC.
2. Symbolic reparation/legal administrative measures
The ANC wholeheartedly supports the recommendation of the R & R Committee in this regard.
3. Community rehabilitation report
This is also supported by the ANC.
4. Institutional reform
This proposal is also acceptable. Indeed, the new government has taken a number of steps in regard:
- with regard to the judiciary, a Judicial Service Commission has been established to strengthen the independence of the judiciary. A Constitutional Court has been created, which has enjoyed and continues to enjoy great respect throughout the world. At the level of Magistrates Courts, a new Magistrates Commission will be appointed to perform a role at the level of Magistrates Court similar to that of the Judicial Service Commission at the level of the High Court.
- Human Rights Commission
- Gender Equality Commission
- Office of Public Protector
- Most important, a final constitution with a Bill of Rights have been adopted and certified by the Constitutional Court.
The basics of the institutional framework now exist. Government is now implementing provisions of the Bill of Rights, which requires legislation dealing with the right to information, just administrative action, etc.
The ANC looks forward to further recommendations from the TRC in this regard and will support all proposals which help establish a human rights culture, strengthen democracy and the rule of law.
5. Individual Reparation Grants
It is in respect of reparation grants that proposals have been made to compel those who have benefited from apartheid, to make a contribution. The ANC view these proposals with sympathy and understanding. What is possible and not possible is a matter that needs to be discussed and worked out. The ANC regards the award of reparation grants as a serious matter which must be addressed. What amounts will actually be available depends not only on the State, but on the rest of South African society and the willingness of various sectors of our society to make a contribution. The ANC sees reparation for victims of gross human rights violation as part of a broader process of transformation which must address the plight of victims of apartheid generally. Hence reconciliation and transformation goes together. There must be programmes to improve housing, health, education, water supply, electricity, sewerage facilities and other amenities to dramatically improve the lives of millions of victims of apartheid.
We recognise that there are huge constraints on the budget and therefore reparation must be seen to be part of the responsibility of all South Africa, especially those who have benifited from apartheid in the past.
This statement was read on behalf of the ANC by comrade Dullah Omar at a media briefing in Johannesburg
If there is one thing that the first democratic elections in South Africa have issued forth, it is certainly the change of political mode of the historically oppressed, and the youth in particular. It is no exaggeration to say that the dawning of the transitional state of our country has misled the masses of people in one crucial aspect – i.e. that the era of mass participation is over, now that the ANC is in power. Perhaps this phenomenon is embedded in the regime of every transitional period in all the newly liberated countries and not just South Africa.
For better or worse, this is the obtaining reality that characterises our state of the nation and unless visionary strategies are developed with the view to either accommodating it or at the very least bringing into line with our long term objectives, this situation is highly likely to continue.
Of all the MDM formations, the ANC Youth League faces the sternest challenge as far as this state of political indifference is concerned. The youth of 16 to 34, is the most vulnerable to the paradigm shift and its socio-cultural baggage. Whereas the liberation struggle saw the inexorable upsurge in youth activism across the length and breadth of the country, the transitional period we are presently going through is experiencing the lowest ebb in terms of youth participation within the context of reconstruction and development.
The same situation is true of the South African Student Congress (SASCO) in historically white institutions such as Wits, Rhodes, UCT, etc. In these institutions we can no longer uniformly characterise black students as coming from historically disadvantaged backgrounds without further analysis of class polarities that differentiate them. For instance, while the locus of SASCO struggles is around bread and butter issues (read financial exclusions, upfront payments etc.), most black students from middle class background feel less concerned about such issues at the best of times; at the worst of times SASCO struggle is an irritation in their eyes. The latter section of students is the very epitome of middle class values to which working class struggles as showcased by SASCO are apparently impervious. If one considers the fact that great revolutions and uprisings of our lifetime such as the French Revolution and the Afghanistan situation in 1996 were engendered by students or former students and youth, then the significance underlining the role of progressive youth formations is thrown into bold relief.
Broadly speaking, the Youth League is faced with a similar situation in terms of mass participation, albeit a little more intricate than that of institutions of higher learning. Most of the youth who should be providing vital cadreship in the process of reconstruction and development is engrossed in a variety of social activities most of which are a far cry from the injunctions of the national democratic revolution. The youth of our country is beginning to make inroads into socio-economic domains from which it was previously forbidden. At the same time, frustrations occasioned by the slow process of delivery in terms of basic necessities such as employment, employability, lack of funding for furtherance of educational pursuits etc. could also be blamed for the apparent depoliticisation syndrome suffocating the energies of our youth.
Be that as it may, the above developments could not immunise the ANCYL from blame. For starters, the league is both invisible and inaudible. One can hardly come across the league in either print or electronic media nowadays. The Youth League has failed to assert itself on major topical issues of the day, be they economic or political. Unless I am missing something here, the Youth League has not publicly entered the fray concerning debates around policy issues with which the Youth Commission is involved. This, however, does not mean that the league has not made strides with respect to submissions to the Youth Commission. My concern is around the league’s public invisibility on such activities.
Lastly, the continuing incoherent relations between the Youth League, COSAS, and SASCO, on the notion of a political center is equally unnerving. Given that these three should pigeon-hole its struggles in the manner that they are. In essence, the three formations share the same constituency, with minor distinctions such as the broader youth representivity of the Youth League. These distinctions aside, the three formations bear the responsibility of hegemonising the youth terrain in the face of reactionary youth forces whose agenda is to project their mother bodies. The relationship between the South African Liberal Student (SALSA) and the Democratic Party is the case in point. This said, one hopes that come the next ANC Youth League Annual General Congress, the league will make a qualitative disjuncture with its present logic. One hopes that it will seek to seize, redefine and recharactersise its present paradigm to strategically position itself for the imperatives embodied in this transitional period.
The real agenda behind Meyer and Holomisa’s new political party
The recently launched United Democratic Movement represents a new flank in the squadron of those forces attempting to undermine and frustrate the ANC and the democratic revolutions it leads, writes Dr. Blade Nzimande
The launch of a new party by Bantu Holomisa and Roelf Meyer marks a further step in attempts by the various sections of the old apartheid ruling bloc to reconstitute and reposition themselves to weaken the ANC and ultimately create a low-intensity democracy in our country.
The disintegration of the old apartheid ruling bloc
In order to locate this development within its proper context, it is important to preface this article with a brief assessment of the state of the old apartheid ruling bloc, both prior to and after 1994. The very act of unbanning the ANC, SACP and other organisations by the De Klerk regime was an expression of a deep crisis within the apartheid ruling bloc. It could no longer continue to rule in old ways. However, this act did not mark the capitulation of the old apartheid ruling bloc, as it sought to simultaneously negotiate with and weaken the ANC on the ground. Hence the violence that was unleashed immediately after the unbanning.
At the same time the unbanning of the liberation movement did not resolve the tensions within the apartheid ruling bloc. Instead it created further schisms. Elements from the bantustans genuinely defected and joined the ranks of the liberation movement, a process which had begun in the late 1980’s. Other elements, like Oupa Gqozo, Lucas Mangope and Mangosuthu Buthelezi clutched even harder onto the aprons of the apartheid regime as they desperately tried to roll back the advance of our struggles. The neo-fascist, right-wing elements within the old apartheid ruling bloc were totally opposed to the unbanning of our movement. When the security structures of the De Klerk regime unleashed violence in the 1990’s, this racist white right-wing working in tandem with elements in the security forces saw an opportunity to completely derail the negotiations.
The Boipatong massacre in 1992, and the subsequent collapse of negotiations, laid the basis for further divisions within the apartheid ruling bloc. The De Klerk regime had overplayed its hand, thus risking a complete collapse of the process. The right-wing elements had hoped that this would completely derail the negotiations. It was for this reason that the signing of The Record of Understanding between the ANC and the De Klerk government in late 1992 led to an irreparable rift between the right-wing forces and the NP government. The right wing forces, acting in cahoots with elements in the security forces, became even more desperate, as shown by increased acts of violence and massacres in the lead up to the 1994 elections. The assassination of Cde Chris Hani in April 1993 was one of their most visible acts aimed at completely derailing the negotiations. Ironically – much as Cde Chris’ death was indeed a heavy blow to the liberation movement – this act served to further weaken the NP regime and put it on the defensive, thus forcing it to agree to 27 April 1994 as an election date. The setting of an election date also deepened the tensions within the right wing forces, constituted under COSAG, leading to its dissolution with sections of it deciding to take part in the elections, whilst others remained outside.
The very holding of an election in April 1994 and the heavy defeat suffered by the apartheid ruling bloc further deepened the crisis within this bloc. Of particular significance in this election was that bantustan political parties were completely wiped out, including those that had aligned themselves with the white right-wing, with the exception of the IFP. Although the establishment of a GNU was a major concession and compromise on our part, this arrangement created more problems for the NP than for us, thus forcing it to pull out of the GNU in 1996. The subsequent resignation of Roelf Meyer and the departure of De Klerk from the NP marked another moment in the fragmentation and crisis facing the old apartheid ruling bloc. The steady consolidation of democracy in itself presents further problems for these forces, as they are now forced to re-adjust from survival through authoritarian rule, to survival in an open democratic order.
Reconstituting and repositioning of apartheid’s political forces
The above processes are outlined in order to capture the nodal points in the disintegration and fragmentation of the old apartheid ruling bloc. This background is also important in order to understand the so-called re-alignment of political parties in South Africa. This “realignment” is but an expression of an attempt by the fragmented elements of the old apartheid ruling bloc to simultaneously halt a further disintegration within their ranks and reconstitute and reposition themselves as a force to oppose and undermine the national democratic revolution. These initiatives are ideologically projected as the “normalisation” of South Africa’s party political landscape. But the fact of the matter is that it is these forces who are still largely organised along apartheid lines and are busy re-positioning themselves to defend as much of the old apartheid privileges as possible.
It is within the above context that we should understand the formation of Holomisa and Meyer’s United Democratic Movement. The fact that Roelf Meyer has broken away from the National Party does not mean that he is opposed to the NP. Instead he is embarking on a new initiative aimed at the renewal and repositioning of elements of the old apartheid ruling bloc to challenge the ANC. Holomisa, on the other hand, is essentially a political fugitive who, in desperation, has thrown himself back onto the hands of sections of the old apartheid ruling bloc. In a way he is going back home where he came from, deep in the belly of the apartheid ruling bloc. Therefore the UDM is a new flank in the squadron of those forces attempting to undermine and frustrate the ANC and the democratic revolution it leads. The UDM is a new front in the struggle for the retention of apartheid privileges. The target is the ANC, hence the frantic activities by all the opposition forces to form an anti-ANC front aimed at undermining the consolidation and deepening of the national democratic revolution.
One only has to look at the ideology that guides the UDM to come to grips with its real agenda. The UDM, just like the NP and the DP, is justifying its formation using the cover of strengthening multi-party democracy and preventing a one-party state. All these parties – with the ideological assistance from reactionary think-tanks like the South African Institute of Race Relations, the Helen Suzman Foundation, and conservative intellectuals like Herman Gilliomee – are raising the spectre of South Africa degenerating into a one party state. It is as if the ANC’s majority is a threat to multi-party democracy. In essence this boils down to suggesting that a South Africa ruled by an ANC majority is not a true multi-party democracy. Apart from the racist undertones of this argument, it is a radical attempt to redefine multi-party democracy in a manner that place these conservative forces at the centre of whatever happens in our country. Even under the NP rule there was never so much noise about a one-party state, yet under one of the most open democracies in the world, they are raising this spectre. This is indeed a battle-cry and a rallying point to weaken and ultimately displace the ANC, and has nothing to do with the claimed strengthening of multi-party democracy or normalisation of South Africa’s party politics. The convergence of the interests of all these forces has in all practical purposes obliterated whatever differences might have existed between the NP, DP and indeed the UDM itself.
Opposition or counter-revolution?
It is important that we take seriously the caution expressed at the last Tripartite Alliance Summit that we should not characterise every opposition to the ANC as counter-revolutionary. As a movement we are committed to multi-party democracy. Nevertheless it would be naïve on our part to draw a rigid and mechanical distinction between normal opposition and counter-revolution, without at the same time realising that during this transition there is a very close relationship between some oppositional activity and counter-revolution. Just as it would be naïve to think that the NP, DP and UDM will not use positions occupied by their sympathisers in the security forces, civil service and business to undermine the transformation process. Counter-revolution will make use of both normal constitutional channels and extra-constitutional channels to try and undermine the national democratic revolution. This is even more so during this period of transition, whereby elements of the old apartheid ruling bloc are trying by all means to shape a post-apartheid South Africa in a manner consistent with their class and political interests.
There are already very strong indications of the UDM engaging in violent activities against the ANC and undermining development projects in areas like Richmond, Dambuza (in Pietermaritzburg), KTC in the Western Cape, and in some of the mines in the North-West. It would be naïve for us to think that these are isolated or abnormal events. They are a direct expression of the way in which counter-revolution and normal oppositional politics penetrate and blend with each other. It is also important to remember that counter-revolution is not just violence, but includes a whole range of activities aimed at derailing the national democratic revolution. Whilst the UDM is positioning itself as an opposition, it is at the same time engaged in a series of clearly counter-revolutionary activities.
Organise, educate and mobilise!
Much as these elements of the old apartheid ruling bloc try to project all political parties in South Africa, including our movement, as reflecting the apartheid past, the fact of the matter is that there would be no democracy in South Africa today without the ANC and its allies. Their attempts to project the ANC as a “black” party is nothing but a ploy to create doubts within our ranks, so that our people will start flocking to parties like the UDM, which try to project themselves as a “fresh start” in making South Africa’s party political scene non-racial. Theirs is not a “fresh start” towards non-racialism, but a “fresh start” towards repositioning elements of the old apartheid ruling bloc to retain as many privileges of the past as possible. These forces further try to place the “realignment of oppositional politics” at the centre of the tasks facing our democracy. The overarching goal and objective for South Africa is a transformation programme aimed at addressing the basic needs of the overwhelming majority of our people. It is therefore of no surprise that all these parties offer nothing to our people in this regard. It is as if poverty, disease, hunger, gender inequality and racism will be addressed by the endless proliferation of conservative political parties.
We must also continuously expose and challenge the ideological distortion that a large ANC majority is not good for multi-party democracy, or that an ANC majority is as good as one-party rule. It is as if we must now feel guilty about the confidence that the majority of our people have placed on our movement. Rather, we should even aim to increase our majority as the only guarantee for a stable and prosperous society, including a thriving multi-party democracy in our country!
However, it is important that as a movement we must not panic when an organisation like the UDM is formed. At the same time we must not be complacent, since elements of the old apartheid ruling bloc will stop at nothing in rebuilding themselves to weaken our movement and undermine the national democratic revolution. Instead, we must intensify what we have always done best, to organise, educate and mobilise our people behind a programme of national democratic transformation. This should be an on-going process not only to be undertaken around elections. We, however, need to intensify this, as these forces are now gearing themselves for 1999.
Building of a strong ANC essential
ANC Youth League president Malusi Gigaba outlines the leagues expectations of the ANC’s 50th National Conference
National Conferences of the ANC have always been known to be history making events. The 50th National Conference to be held in Mmabatho in December this year is one such epoch-making event, coming on the eve of the next millennium and at a time when the ANC prepares itself to renew its mandate to take the transformation process to its conclusion and continue with its programmes to make a better life for all.
A lot of interest has already been shown in the conference in the past few months. Not only are members and supporters of the ANC looking at this conference with great interest, it is also of great significance to the entire South African population and the rest of the world.
Members and supporters of the ANC expect the conference to map out a strategy which will ensure the ANC remains at the helm of the transformation process and produce policy guidelines which will accelerate, amongst other things, the eradication of poverty in our country. On the other hand those who are against transformation are praying day and night that the conference be rocked by divisive leadership contests and should fail to address itself to important national issues.
People from the Southern African region and the entire African continent expect the ANC to reinforce Deputy President Thabo Mbeki’s initiative on the African Renaissance by adopting practical measures which will see its actualization. People from other continents of the world are waiting to see how the ANC positions itself and the South African people to influence the direction of the new world order.
Like other structures of the movement, the ANC Youth League will make a constructive contribution to conference and make sure that it lives up to the expectations of everyone in the movement.
At the beginning of the year the ANC Youth League presented a document entitled “Organisational and Leadership issues in the ANC” to the NEC Lekgotla. This document was our own attempt to identify challenges facing the movement and suggested ways of dealing with them.
As preparations for the conference gets underway most of the issues we raised in this document were included in the conference discussion documents which are being discussed by all structures of the movement ahead of conference.
In the view of the ANC Youth League, key amongst what conference must achieve are:
Reaffirming the commitment of the movement to the process of transformation and creating conditions for the betterment of the quality of lives for all.
This is the historical and present mission of the ANC and must be central in all programmes and policy guidelines that we adopt. A thorough evaluation of our work since 1994 is essential in determining whether or not the strategy that we have employed during the past period has worked.
Maintaining and strengthening the unity and cohesiveness of the ANC.
During the past year or so the ANC has faced organisational challenges which nearly threatened the cohesiveness and unity of the movement and its ability to continue leading the broad democratic forces for transformation. These challenges emanated from a number of subjective and objective organisational problems which included lack of understanding of the ANC policies and its democratic practice by some of the new members, and a weak political centre.
As the ANC was dealing with these challenges, the anti-transformation forces with the help of the mainstream media, were having a field day trying to present a picture to the public of an ANC which was riddled with power struggles, corruption and flagrant suppression of democratic debate by its national leadership.
Now as we are gearing up for conference we are told of an ANC of “Capitalists, Thacherites, Communists, Africanists” and so on. When members of the ANC re-state the historical mission of the ANC as the liberation of the African people in particular and the black people in general, they are labelled Africanists within the ANC. This is a historical task that all ANC members agree with (ANC Strategy and Tactics). This labelling is yet another attempt by forces opposed to transformation to foment divisions within the movement and distract it from its transformation agenda.
Suddenly those who have vociferously opposed the Freedom Charter, labelling it a socialist document now claim to understand it better and often quote the clause “The People Shall Govern“, in their attempt to justify their false prophecy that the “ANC leadership is in for a shock at the organisation’s 50th conference as grass-roots structures are preparing to defy it”.
It is during this period of the struggle that the unity and cohesiveness of the movement must be maintained and strengthened. We must remain united behind the tasks that history has assigned to the ANC and work together to complete the goals of the National Democratic Revolution.
Co-ordination between ANC structures and the cadres that we deploy in government and other areas. The ANC must effectively use the opportunities that have been created by the democratisation process to advance the course of the National Democratic Revolution. ANC cadres who have been deployed to the National Assembly, the National Executive, Provincial Legislatures, Provincial Executive Councils, Metropolitan and Municipal Councils should always remember that they are not there to serve their own interests but to advance the course of the NDR. ANC structures should also not forget that the success of the government in driving the transformation process and in implementing policies aimed at improving the quality of lives of all the people, will depend on the co-operation it gets from these structures.
Often, people deployed in government have been left alone to defend government policy while members of the ANC are watching from a distance. It must be stated that the policies which our comrades in government are implementing have been formulated on foundations laid by the ANC, and therefore are ANC policies. Recently the ANC has been criticised by amongst others, members of the tripartite alliance of not consulting the masses when formulating government policies. The most vociferous criticism was on how Growth, Employment and Re-distribution strategy was formulated.
It must be remembered that Gear and other policies which the ANC-led government has formulated are based on the foundations which was laid in 1992 and contained in the document entitled “Ready to Govern“. To determine whether or not government policy constitutes a departure from the ANC’s basic principles we should judge them against those policy guidelines which we adopted at the 1992 policy conference.
We are, however, not implying that government must not consult structures of the ANC, the Alliance and indeed the masses of our people, in the policy formulation process. Such consultation must happen within realistic parameters so that it does not paralyze the functioning of government or delay the implementation of programmes to improve the quality of life of all South Africans.
A clear deployment strategy which enables the movement to utilise its cadres regardless of where they are deployed.
The current deployment policy of the ANC, if we have one, is clearly not working. After releasing a number of experienced cadres of the movement to serve in various public structures, several of them are now leaving their positions for more lucrative positions in the private sector, some of them claiming they are being deployed by the movement.
As we prepare ourselves for the 1999 General Elections — to renew our mandate to continue governing the country — we shall once more be faced with the task of deploying our cadres to various public institutions. We need a clear strategy to guide the movement in deciding who gets deployed to which positions.
Conference will be asked to adopt a constitutional rule that says the President of the ANC must become the President of the Country whenever the ANC is in power and that the Provincial Chairperson of the ANC must be the Premier of the province where the ANC is in power in such a province. This is a sensible suggestion as it will prevent the creation of many centres of power as it has happened in some of our provinces.
It is however not enough to have a rule that deals only with the deployment of the president and premiers and not provide guidelines on how to handle other positions including local government positions. Our deployment strategy should also guide the movement on how it should deploy cadres to areas outside of public institutions.
A cadre development policy that is aimed at building an ANC cadreship which can be trusted all the time. There has been a marked improvement in the number of ANC members who now understand the basic principles and the history of the movement, which can be attributed to the work that the Political Education and Training Department is doing. Conference must reaffirm the resolution taken at the 49th Conference to establish a political school.
It must be made compulsory for all members of the ANC, old and new, to attend political discussion sessions. Perhaps we should even consider barring people from standing for leadership positions unless they produce a certificate of merit, showing how many political classes they have attended (my suggestion).
Reaffirming the role and place of the ANC Women’s League and the ANC Youth League in the ANC and in society. The Women’s League and the Youth League continue to play an important role in the life of the ANC and in society in general. They ensure that the ANC is always sensitised on the needs and aspirations of the special sectors that they represent. Their organisational capacities must be increased to ensure that they perform their tasks much more effectively.
The ANC Youth League has suggested the lowering of the threshold age for members of the ANC from eighteen to sixteen. The Youth League believes that the old reasons which have always been used to bar sixteen year olds from participating in politics are no longer valid in this modern world. We shall argue our point at conference.
In conclusion, based on the amount of work that has already gone into preparations for conference and the enthusiasm which is glowing within all structures of the movement we can say without any shadow of doubt that this epoch-making conference of the ANC will indeed meet the expectations of all members and supporters of the ANC, the SACP, COSATU and other structures which are part of the broad progressive movement and other progressive organisations in the African Continent and in the rest of the world.
Of course the success of our conference will be a great disappointment to the anti-transformation forces, who until now are desperately trying to derail the course of transformation.
Long Live the ANC!
ANC must maintain its mass character
At the National Conference to be held in December 1997, delegates will be expected to define the exact nature and character of the ANC in the current phase of the national democratic revolution, writes a correspondent.
The defining reality of South African society still relates to a continuing legacy of colonialism and white minority rule.
The ANC is a multiclass, multistrata movement with a bias towards the black working class and the rural and urban poor.
What is needed is not a focus on the interests of a so-called narrow emergent elite, we must ensure that ideologically and organisationally the new powers and privileges do not become an end in themselves but are used in the service of the national democratic struggle. The best way of ensuring this strategic objective is maintaining the mass participatory character of the movement.
While the ANC is ideologically a broad church, all ANC members have a stake in ensuring that the socialists in our ranks, and the socialist formations, like the SACP and COSATU, with which we are allied, conduct an open and intelligent process of socialist renewal – learning from the lessons of recent history. It is interesting to note that the relative revival of left and socialist forces from India, through much of eastern Europe to Italy and France, Mexico and Japan in the latter part of the ’90’s has been accompanied by considerable organisational creativity.
The ANC does not experience the diminishing constituency problems that typical centre-left parties in the advanced capitalist countries encounter – which is not to say we should be complacent about retaining our electoral support.
We should not assume that until the ANC splits into a centre and left that we will not have a normal, healthy opposition. Ours is not a normal situation and the situation will not become normal simply because we copy what are assumed to be the party political delineations of the advanced capitalist countries.
The ANC faces the huge challenge of reconstructing and developing SA. To ensure the effective development and implementation of ANC policy, it is critical to strengthen ANC caucus structures in the national assembly, legislatures and wherever appropriate, For the same reason, the policy development capacity of the ANC needs to be greatly strengthened.
Consideration should be given to limiting the number of Ministers, MP’s and MPL’s in the National Executive Committee (NEC). In the current ANC NEC, comrades from government and legislatures are in an overwhelming majority to the detriment of greater representivity from ANC organisational structures and the broader movement.
In the past three years we have not always succeeded in giving practical, programmatic and organisational expression to the realities of our situation. The macro-economic debate is a serious debate and agreements and disagreements should not be allowed to interfere with the process of transformation. Nor should it obscure the vast areas of common interest and strategic agreement amongst us. In the coming period, the alliance needs to develop a much more concrete and shared programme of action around which we can build our organisations and its cadres.
HOW DOES ONE PAY TRIBUTE TO A LIVING LEGEND?
As Madiba steps down from the presidency of the ANC we are unavoidably driven to focus on the humanism of a man whose life is inseparable from our organisation, writes Mac Maharaj
Late one night in 1993, when we thought that we had finally made a breakthrough after marathon talks, the ANC’s negotiation team went to report to Madiba at his Johannesburg home.
Even though a legal man with a fine eye and an appreciation of detail, the president of the ANC had only two questions for his exhausted negotiators: Does it put us firmly on the road to majority rule and how long will it take?
Satisfied with our answers on both, he gave the interim constitution his blessing.
That grasp of unshakable principle and purpose is a measure of the man Nelson Mandela the legend known around world as Madiba. And although I have known him for most of my life, it doesn’t make this task of writing a tribute to him any easier.
Legendary figures usually rest in the recesses of our memories and step across the pages of history in broad sweeps that make it difficult for us to appreciate the fullness of the person. Inevitably, we attach interpretations that focus on attributes which suit the moment and drive our own agendas.
How much more difficult then is the task of paying tribute to a living legend whose imprint on South Africa, Africa and the wider world will continue to reverberate even as he steadily moves off centre stage to stroll in the hills and valleys of his beloved Qunu in the Transkei?
And how even much more difficult it is to pen a tribute to your mentor, who has been your inspiration for most of your life.
We live in a world where so many of the signposts and certitudes have become obscured. We brought democracy to our country, but not within the textbook theory of revolution that we had cut our teeth on politically in the 1950s as the world had fundamentally changed by the mid-1980s.
But what ever the changes are, history writes down as its leaders the men and women who have both the ability to detect its shifts and the courage to act on them.
This is a measure of the leadership of Nelson Mandela, who decided in the isolation of his prison cell in 1985 to take the initiative and open dialogue with the hated apartheid regime.
He used his isolation from his prison comrades not to consult them as he feared that they would oppose the move. Over the decades the ANC had often called on the regime to agree to talks but, as Madiba stated, we had “never been confronted with the actual prospects of such talks”.
History will record that Madiba from his prison cell read the moment correctly. But his momentous decision also tells us something more personal about the character of the man Nelson Mandela.
Madiba had long ago observed that “the struggle is my life” but he never succumbed to equating the struggle with himself, his life was never the struggle.
Every lonely step he took to set up the preconditions for talks with the apartheid regime were carefully weighed to ensure he did not in any way undermine or compromise the ANC, and that any possible failure in his bold strategy would be borne by him alone without bringing embarrassment to his organisation.
The rigorous thinking and the clear terms that defined the parameters within which he acted reveal that he did not for a moment, in thought or action, lose sight of the historical necessity for an organised political force, the African National Congress.
It was with extreme deliberation and a firm understanding of the centrality of and deep loyalty to the ANC, that he moved into these uncharted waters.
He was only too aware that the capacity of the ANC to discharge its historical responsibility depended on its collective leadership.
If, at any particular moment, he was positioned on the flanks, he never overlooked that he was part of a team upon whom victory depended.
The “I” never supplanted the organisation.
I remember the heated debates we had as I was about to leave Robben Island. Since I was to carry out the manuscript of his autobiography, it became clear very quickly that I would have to leave the country but I didn’t want to go into exile.
I tried to secure conditions from Madiba a guarantee that I would be allowed to return. He steadfastly refused. It was not a decision that he would make from prison. It was a decision to be made by the organisation lead by Oliver Tambo.
That consciousness of his place in the organisation of the African National Congress invaded his being over a long period of time and through many incidents.
As far back as 1953 he, together with comrade Walter Sisulu, began to explore the need for and the possibilities of the armed struggle. He expressed his view at a public meeting and was summoned to explain his actions before the NEC.
He accepted the reprimand of his peers and his seniors. He never saw this dressing down as a personal affront. It helped hone his instincts for reading the moment and understanding the rules by which one strove to better shape the ANC to discharge its responsibilities.
There have been other moments which illuminate the political furnace in which he was forged.
The debate about communists in the ANC is a old one, and is resurfacing again as we head for national conference.
As far back as 1949 Madiba championed the need to exclude communists and he has often told the story about the emotional way in which he sought to advance his views. Again, he records the deep imprint made on him by his seniors who argued against and defeated his views.
What stands out is not simply the issue that was under debate, but a clearer understanding of the need for the ANC, the collective nature of its leadership and the rules by which one strives constantly to make the organisation better.
We saw it again after his heroic return from prison, when Madiba raised the possibility of 14 year-olds being given the vote. The organisation gave a resounding no and the matter was never raised again. Nelson Mandela has always maintained the organisational discipline that the
African National Congress is not the voice of one man but the policy of a collective leadership, democratically elected by its members.
As Madiba steps down from the presidency of the ANC we are unavoidably driven to focus on the humanism of a man whose life is inseparable from our organisation.
The great men and women who stand out in history have all been driven by the need to remove suffering and injustice. What is startling about them is that although most of them have suffered, they transcend bitterness about their own personal misfortunes. They are moved by the suffering of others and their own suffering is submerged in their quest for a better world. The only time we have seen a glimpse inside Nelson Mandela is when he reflects on his own family. Then you see his pain and the anguish and even so it is about his self beyond himself.
But betray him or his cause, and Madiba turns to icy steel. De Klerk learnt this lesson the hard way when he failed to stop the violence the early 1990s. From being described by Madiba on his release as “a man of integrity”, De Klerk later withered in every public encounter with Mandela.
He crossed the rubicon on one of Madiba’s special qualities compassion and empathy. Both before and after April 1994 we felt his deep sense of genuine empathy and concern about the people of this country, including white people for which he was criticised for reaching out the hand of reconciliation too far.
Children have a keener sense of his genuine humility and warmth. Where ever he goes they swamp him while their parents are more intimidated by the imposing stature of a great man. But he rejoices in the joy of others.
This is the secret behind his sunshine smile.
It’s part of his hands-on approach to everything. It’s the intuitive feel that doesn’t require image consultants and publicity agents.
We all remember his hand reaching out to FW de Klerk at the end of a tense harsh live TV debate in the run up to the 1994 elections; his donning of the Springbok rugby No. 6 jersey at the World Cup Final; his appearances in communities gripped by fear generated by violence as in Richmond and the Cape Flats; his visit to Betsie Verwoerd in Orania; his systematic and continuous reaching out to Mangosutho Buthelezi; the phone call or the unexpected visit …
Many who accompany him on his punishing schedule criss-crossing the length and breadth of South Africa on visits to communities come out exhausted and dried out, but he emerges energised and revitalised. That indeed lies at the core of his exhortations to the ANC. The historic responsibilities placed on the ANC have multiplied. Maintaining and continuously re-energising the ANC as the political instrument for mobilisation and transformation must now go side by side with the task of ensuring that the ANC in government, through effective governance, draws together the entire nation-in-making into effecting transformation.
How do we discharge both tasks? It is easy to speak of their interdependence but we will manage neither if we do not recognise in our practice that the well-spring of our inspiration and the touchstone of our actions resides in the people in whose service the ANC has its roots.
By exhortation and his actions Madiba asks that we continuously deepen our links with the people.
Just as democracy could not have been achieved without an organised political force, so too is the realisation of transformation of our country is not possible without the ANC leading the process.
The struggle to bring about such fundamental changes has always been accompanied by another very different struggle that of making the ANC the effective instrument it needs to be.
This parallel “struggle” is a very different one conducted on a very different terrain and with different rules. But there are many lessons from our past with great relevance for the present challenges we face.
Those who went through the mentorship of Xhamela and Madiba in prison will recall the clear message: debate the issues but do not confuse the masses. Do not lose sight of the unifying policy of the ANC for a united, democratic country with equity and opportunity for all.
Today, with the new challenges which face us in shaping the organisation to function effectively in a democracy, we need to affirm the need for debate within our ranks without losing sight of the broader framework in which we stand together.
Often when any of us make a mistake in this regard, one or other among us has succumbed to the temptation to supplant the organisation with “I” and there lies the root of the falsities with which we mislead in a very profound sense our followers.
The issue is of great relevance now that the nation has entrusted us with the task of transforming our society. The days of protest politics are gone as we are now the managers of the transformation.
The challenge is how to manage this without ever losing sight of or contact with the people whose aspirations encapsulate the sufferings, injustices and inequities which must be eliminated through the transformation.
You served nations and humankind
– ANC Womens League’s message to Madiba
One of the voters in the historic April 1994 elections, defied all the rules of the Electoral Committee and undermined the intense voter education that preceded the elections. Instead of putting a cross of tick next to Madiba’s face, the voter quoted one of the Holy Bible verses, describing Madiba as the “Messiah who came to redeem the world.”
The people monitoring the counting of votes in that section had homework to do that evening. We had to go through the Bible to ascertain if this was indeed a positive vote for the African National Congress as this verse was the only mark made on the ballot paper next to the ANC. That vote was counted the following day after political party monitors unanimously agreed that this was a “yes” vote for the ANC.
The ANC Women’s League join this voter in paying tribute to Madiba in describing what he is to us, to the ANC, to the people of this country, to the people of Southern Africa, and indeed, to the people of the world. Without him and people like Tata Sisulu, the late Oliver Tambo, and many others who came before him, we will never have achieved what we have.
“Tata, your stepping down as the President of the ANC, is yet another lesson you taught us. You would have still continued as president without anyone questioning this, as we still need you to lead us in consolidating our hard-won national democratic revolution. But because of your farsightedness and humility, you have chosen to play a different role in serving the nations of the world. We know that there is no way you are going to divorce yourself from being a leader of the ANC. We know there is no way you are going to abandon your peace-making role in various conflict-ridden countries in the world. History has assigned you that difficult mission, and we know you will humbly continue to play that role.
Through your leadership and that of your predecessors you have made sure that the ANC functions through collective leadership. In your steps will indeed follow yet another leader of our struggle, comrade Thabo Mbeki. You have taught us that no individual is bigger than the movement.
We, in the Women’s League have, like a family, had some quarrels with you, but we have always understood that as the President of the ANC you had a role to play in ensuring that we operate on the basis of ANC principles. Thus we have been able to look back and correct ourselves. You have been in the forefront of ensuring that the Women’s League functions as a united and effective structure based on ANC policies. For that we thank you very much, as through your efforts and contribution we are emerging as a better organisation.
We trace your contribution to our struggle to the period you joined the African National Congress as a young person from rural Transkei in the 1940’s. Since that period the ANC underwent a fundamental transformation. This transformation opened the ANC’s membership to women, who since the founding of the ANC, were regarded as auxiliary members, and thus had no voting rights. It was you and your comrades in the Youth League who brought radical change to the ANC. You turned our glorious movement for national liberation into a revolutionary mass-based and people-orientated movement. You became the chief volunteer in the Defiance Campaign which began the process of ungovernability of the apartheid system in the 1950’s. You have led by example as you did not expect people to act but you yourself led the action. You founded Umkhonto we Sizwe – the Spear of the Nation – which contributed a great deal to our liberation and social emancipation. Again you were in the very first detachment of MK cadres to undergo military training abroad and returned to carry out the armed struggle. Indeed we owe our liberation to you.
Tata, it is you who taught us how to operate underground during those repressive years of apartheid when our movement was banned. You came up with the M-plan (Mandela Plan) which helped a lot of us to continue with the struggle. Through this plan we built one of the pillars of our struggle the underground, into a formidable force and struck fear into the citadel of apartheid.
You have taught us that leadership is not about populism. We learnt that it is about taking very difficult decisions and making all efforts to convince everyone why those decisions have to be taken at a particular time, as it happens when we began “talks about talks” which you led right from prison around 1988. Another example, is when we took a decision to suspend all armed actions in 1990, as part of the preparations for negotiations.
Tata, you gave all your life to the struggle of the oppressed people of South Africa and all the nations of the world. As South African women in the ANC, you have made us proud as we stand before our countryfolk and nations of the world. You have restored our dignity. To stand and say you are a South African is no more a curse but something to be proud of. You are a living and shining symbol of reconciliation as you harbour no hatred after what you have undergone under the apartheid regime. Indeed you have taught us all who suffered under apartheid to accept reconciliation. In this way you have liberated even our former oppressors.
We in the Women’s League know that your stepping down as President of the ANC will never separate you from the ANC and the struggles of the people of the world. Instead we know that you shall continue more than ever before, to contribute to the leadership collective of the ANC and that of the nations of the world. The struggle is, indeed, your life!”
A tribute to President Mandela is a tribute to the ANC Youth League
In paying tribute to President Mandela, the ANCYL is at the same time paying tribute to itself, its own history, and the role the South African youth played, in the forward trenches of our struggle to liberate our country.
In 1944, the founders of the ANCYL pronounced “The hour of youth has struck”. Eversince, the hour of youth has not ceased to strike, it is still striking today. Every hour is youth hour. President Mandela has lived true to this visionary and bold pronouncement.
The President’s contributions to national liberation is closely associated with that of the ANC Youth League. He first cut his teeth in this organisation. He rose in its ranks, matured with time, and then began his long journey as leader of both the ANC and the South African people in their totality. His vision, wisdom and courage saw him lead many campaigns and programs of the ANC.
He became the Volunteer-in-Chief of the ANC and led other volunteers in preparation of adoption of the Freedom Charter. He led many campaigns and was prosecuted for them. He sacrifised comfort and a good life for the sake of politics. As a potential lawyer, Madiba could have pursued a succesful legal career. Instead, he opted for the struggle, suffering and sacrifice.
As the tempo of oppression itself increased, and apartheid demogogues became more arrogant and restless during the phase of intense mass mobilisation, and responded to peaceful protest with the barrel of the gun, it became obvious to all, especially the young blood in the ANC, that the time has come to confront the oppressors. It would have been grossly irresponsible for the movement to have chosen the past of humble submission to the aggression of the apartheid state machinery.
This signified a new phase in the resistance to the apartheid regime.
Nelson Mandela volunteered to do preparatory work for this new phase, leading to the formation of the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto weSizwe. After having evaded the security forces of the regime for a long time, Madiba was arrested in charged with treason and sentenced to life imprisonment. He came out of jail in 1990, a truimphant leader of his people. His leadership has since expanded beyond South Africa and our African continent.
This is certainly the history of the Youth League. In its 53 years of existence, it has become a renowned political and organisational preparatory school, a nursery for young cadres of the movement, with the aim of injecting new political and organisational experience and ideas in the movement. Many young cadres have passed through its hands, and are today, like Madiba, household names in the ANC, the country and abroad.
It is an organisation of young people, whose vision, wisdom, courage and boldness has led man a battle against the apartheid regime, using their bare hand, stones and dustbins. Many of these youth established a name for themselves in MK and at other levels of the organisation. They have fought and sacrificed immensely. However, they have emerged in the new South Africa a heroic and triumphant youth.
Comrade Mandela is an epitome of youth whose hour has struck. He represents the road that has and still needs to be transversed by all South Africans – from apartheid to reconstruction and development. His striking message to youth today, is that good will always triumph over evil, that mankind must unite and face the evils that seek to befoul its many achievements. Hence the youth will pay tribute to him by engaging in productive social activities that restores the moral fibre of this society, that would contribute to the building of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and united nation.
President Mandela is completely ANC! He epitomises the evolution of this movement throughout its many years of struggle, until eventual vistory over apartheid. He embodies the discipline of this organisation, to which all members are subjected to. regardless of his own personal popularity, he respects organisational collectivity. He remains loyal to the policies and decisions of this organisation.
It is said: “In extraordinary achievements, someone always believes in the possibility of the impossible and maintains this belief in the face of contrary evidence, ane even in the face of humiliation and ridicule.”
President Mandela is such a person, A man of hope. A man of goodwil, A man of peace, social harmony and friendhip. A dear Comrade, father and leader.
As you step down as ANC President, we wish you well for the future. For us you will remain a dear youth forever.
ANC Youth Youth League
Like all progressive and patriotic forces, the SACP leadership and members are saddened that President Mandela will be stepping down as ANC President at the December Conference. It is, of course, a mark of the dignity and states-personship of comrade Madiba, that he has announced this decision. We are under no illusion that any of us will now be able to dissuade him from his resoluteness on this matter.
Many things have been said and written about our President, for the SACP there is one outstanding quality we would like to underline. For Comrade Madiba, a debt of solidarity incurred, a promise made, a common struggle waged in the same trench of the oppressed – these are realities he never forgets.
To the ongoing bewilderment and consternation of certain, powerful global forces, these are principles that our President has consistently applied to international politics over the last eight years. He has applied this approach to the Cuban revolution, that great example of internationalist solidarity. In the face of one-sided chauvinism, he has applied these principles to Libya.
But it is also in domestic politics, in his relationship to the SACP, that we find comrade Madiba refusing to cold-shoulder a long-standing ally.
Since his release from prison, comrade Madiba has been under unceasing and systematic personal pressure, from forces outside of our alliance, to cut his ties with the SACP. He has been absolutely unwavering on this point.
What we, as the Party, especially appreciate about comrade Madiba’s stance in this regard is that it is not based on empty sentiment. Indeed, comrade Madiba is the first to remind us that his attitude to the Communist Party in South Africa was once very different. In the late 1940s, as a militant Youth Leaguer, the young Nelson Mandela felt that communism was a “foreign ideology” diluting the Africanist content of the struggle. Being someone who always carries his views into practice, he even tried to disrupt Communist Party meetings.
It was the practical example, the strategic insight, and deep-seated ubuntu of ANC/Communist giants like JB Marks and Moses Kotane who changed the young Mandela, and converted him to his present, unwavering commitment to the alliance.
We have also deeply appreciated the dialectical understanding that comrade Madiba has shown regarding the nature of the alliance. There have been times, we know, that as an SACP leadership in the post-1994 period, we have differed with, and even unintentionally irritated our President. As a new generation of Communist leaders, comrade Madiba has sometimes bluntly told us that we lack the experience of the Kotanes and JB Marks.
But he has always encouraged openness and frankness. He has said, time and again, that timid alliance partners, lacking the courage of their convictions, are no good to anyone, not least to the ANC itself.
The SACP salutes President Mandela as he steps down now as the ANC President. To have lived through this dramatic, heroic, historic transition period in South Africa is a huge experience and honour. To have served under Madiba’s leadership, to have benefited from his personal strength and experience is a large part of that honour.
The SACP is reassured in the knowledge that the ANC and alliance have, over many decades, built layer upon layer of new leadership cadres. We know that those who will succeed comrade Madiba will bring their own skills, experience and collective capacities.
With reluctance (but understanding) the SACP accepts our President’s decision to stand down from his ANC post. But he must not be surprised if, after December 1997, he finds us in the queue seeking ongoing advice and wisdom.
– an introduction to the ANC’s draft Strategy and Tactics
ANC activists throughout the country are preparing for the organisation’s 50th National Conference. Conference is always an exciting time, when the members of the ANC carefully assess the programme and policies of the past three years. This thorough assessment allows the ANC to strategically map its course that will take the organisation into the next millennium.
A number of discussion documents have been circulated to all structures of the ANC for cadres to debate and prepare for conference. These documents include: The Need for a Gendered Perspective from the ANC and its cadres; Nation Formation and Nation Building: The National Question in South Africa; Challenges of Leadership in the Current Phase; Organisational Democracy and Discipline in the Movement; Developing a Strategic Perspective on South African Foreign Policy; The Core Values of the RDP; The Character of the ANC.
A draft Strategy and Tactics Document has also been released that takes into account much that is contained in the above discussion documents. A summary of the Draft Strategy and Tactics Document is contained in this edition of Mayibuye.
The draft Strategy and Tactics document has been released by the ANC in preparation of our 50th National Conference at the end of the year. This document emerges out of much robust discussion. It attempts to capture the context in which we are operating as a liberation movement and what we believe is the direction that the ANC should be taking within this context.
It is open to challenge, debate and amendment at Conference. Following the process of debate and discussion, the Strategy and Tactics document will be adopted as a guiding document for the ANC’s programme for the dawn of the 21st century.
The title of the document “All Power to the People“, captures the core of the document which sees the next period as one in which all levers of power are transformed to serve the interests of all the people of our country. This understanding sets out to build on the foundation that we have laid for a better life for all South Africans.
The sections in the document include: an Introduction; Resistance to colonialism; The character of negotiations; Victory over apartheid; Character of the National Democratic Revolution; Challenge to Transformation; The motive forces of transformation; Character of the ANC; Character of the International Situation; Programme of National Democratic Transformation in the current phase and Conclusion
As we enter the new millennium, formal political liberation has been achieved. Apartheid colonialism has been shattered via the heroic struggles of the people, supported by the international community. The foundation to develop our society into a truly non-racial, non-sexist and united nation, has been laid.
These developments take place in a situation where capitalism is dominant, where the agenda of working people and developing countries can find creative expression. However, it is also a world where the realities of inequality, poverty and underdevelopment have become more obvious.
The basic framework of our democratic achievement in South Africa is irreversible. But it can be derailed, leaving us with a shell of political rights without real social content.
Resistance to Colonialism
The struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa was an anti-colonial struggle. There have been many wars of conquest and wars of resistance since 1652.
Slaves and indentured labour were imported by colonial authorities from Asia. These communities became part of South African colonial society. Most of the white settlers resolved to make South Africa their home and this was given formality in 1910 with the establishment of the union of South Africa. This gave rise to a situation where the colonial power and the colonised shared the same territory, characterised by the movement as “colonialism of a special type” (CST).
As colonialism took new forms, new forms of resistance began to emerge. The ANC was born in 1912, with the Communist Party of South Africa and the trade union movement being founded later. Progressive Indian, coloured and white organisations were also formed. All these organisations coalesced into a national democratic alliance against colonial domination.
From 1912 to 1961, the ANC pursued peaceful forms of struggle. When it became clear that peaceful mass resistance would not break the colonial power’s resolve to use its armed might to defend apartheid, the ANC decided to adopt the armed struggle. After the ANC was banned in 1960, it mobilised from the underground for a popular uprising against apartheid colonialism.
Over time, the ANC developed a strategy that included four pillars:
- Organisation and mobilisation of the people;
- Establishment of underground structures;
- Formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe;
- Mobilisation of the international community.
As the decade of the 1980s drew to a close, it was clear that the liberation movement’s strategic objective of the popular seizure of power had been placed firmly on the agenda.
Character of Negotiations
What was the balance of forces when the ban on political organisations was lifted in 1990? How did this balance change over the period of negotiations? These questions are critical in understanding the final outcome of the negotiations process, the opportunities and constraints that the ANC faced at the instance of victory in the first democratic elections and the form and content of the transformation which we are now undertaking.
The ANC entered negotiations with the objective of attaining a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa. The regime wanted to retain as much of white minority rule and privilege as possible.
Negotiations entailed compromises on the path to be followed to the final objective. This was influenced by the prevailing balance of forces. At the beginning of negotiations, neither the liberation movement, nor the forces of apartheid had emerged as an outright victor. The liberation movement had the support of the people. Its objectives enjoyed support of practically the whole world. And it had the capacity to intensify all forms of struggle. However, the apartheid forces commanded huge resources – military and economic – that could be used to delay its downfall at a huge cost to the country.
Negotiations were therefore both a platform to find a resolution to the conflict as well as a terrain of struggle to shift the balance of forces. In the end, the regime conceded the basic outlines of a democratic settlement that where in line with universal democratic principles.
The adoption of the interim constitution, the first democratic elections in 1994, the establishment of a new government led by the ANC, and the adoption of the new constitution based on principles of democratic majority rule were major landmarks in this process.
Victory over Apartheid
April 1994 was therefore an historic breakthrough in the struggle for democracy. The accession of the ANC to government was not merely a change of parties in political office, but was a revolutionary break with the past. An element of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) had been accomplished. It is only an element of the NDR because the balance of forces dictated that the path to the full transfer of power, would be a long and difficult one.
There were many possibilities that the movement had in this phase. These include:
- The constitution gave us the framework within which to start implementing programmes of transformation. In addition, being the leading organisation in government gave us formal control of the state machinery;
- The ANC enjoys legitimacy far wider than its mass base;
- The mass of people were prepared to reconcile with their oppressors and also to defend our victory with all the means at their disposal;
- The international community hailed the changeover.
- There were also many constraints that faced the movement. These include:
- The fact that the liberation movement did not win an outright victory on the battlefield meant that it had to accept compromises in negotiations;
- The democratic movement took over an apartheid state machinery that was intact;
- The majority of public servants, the captains of industry, and editorial rooms in most of the media, shared the perspectives of the former government or its white opposition;
- The networks used by the regime, especially in its “dirty war” both within and outside South Africa, remained intact.
The democratic movement attained only elements of power. This still gives us immense possibilities to fundamentally transform society. However, the constraints have a direct bearing on the pace of transformation as well as the extent of the danger of the process being derailed.
A proper understanding of the given balance of forces is critical in defining the tactics that the liberation movement should adopt at each stage of transformation.
Character of the National Democratic Revolution
The strategic objective of the NDR is the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. This means, in essence, the liberation of Africans in particular and black people in general from political and economic bondage. It means uplifting the quality of life of all South Africans, especially the poor.
April 1994 constitutes a platform from which to launch the programme of social transformation. Political freedom is an important part of this mandate. However, without social justice, such freedom will remain hollow. The revolution therefore still has to overcome the legacy of a social system based on the oppression of the black majority. While formal democracy may present opportunities for some blacks to advance, without the systematic national effort to unravel the skewed distribution of wealth and income, the social reality of apartheid will remain.
How should the strategic objective of the NDR find expression?
All citizens should be guaranteed the right to elect a government of their choice, freedom of expression and other rights entrenched in the constitution. The government of their choice should be open, transparent and involve people in policy formulation and implementation.
- Linked to this is the task of ensuring equality among the racial, ethnic, language, cultural and religious communities: to build a united nation of free individuals.
- The overarching identity of being a South African must be promoted among all those who are indeed South African.
- Women have been degraded by apartheid and patriarchy. The NDR must affirm the principle of gender equality and ensure that in practice, it finds conscious expression in the programmes of the nation.
- Democracy and development are interlinked where the masses play a central role in transformation.
The new democratic state derives its character from these tasks.
Within the context of a mixed economy, in which market forces have an important role to play, the state has a critical task of ensuring economic growth and development, of meeting people’s social needs and of providing the environment for the safety and security of citizens.
Challenge to Transformation
South Africans have not erased the root causes of previous conflict. The ideas and influence of the previous ruling classes still prevail in the civil service, in the security forces, in the economic sector and in the media – primary centres of power in any social formation. In addition, compromises were made to ensure a smooth transition. This meant that the capacity of the democratic movement was limited. All of this presents opportunities for those fundamentally opposed to change to mobilise against it.
Are there counter-revolutionary forces in South Africa?
In examining the forces bent on undermining transformation, we need to be cautious. We cannot characterise all opposition as counter-revolutionary. However, we must understand that counter-revolutionary elements do find clandestine and sometimes innocuous ways of subverting transformation.
With regard to some political forces, the overriding aim will be to derail or reverse change so as to end up with a system in which the social privileges of apartheid are retained in a modified form. This can be done within the parameters of the constitution.
Counter-revolution, on the other hand, can be defined as a combination of aims and forms of action that are mainly unconstitutional and illegal, to subvert transformation. However, counter-revolutionary mobilisation can only take root if there are real grievances to exploit, whether these grievances are deliberately engineered or not.
Maximum vigilance is required by the movement in this regard. The revolutionary movement needs to use those centres of power in which it has a foothold to widen and deepen popular power. The best antidote to counter-revolution is confidence in the mass of the people, mobilised always to be in political motion.
The Motive Forces of Transformation
The system of national oppression in South Africa meant that the African majority and blacks in general became, through their own experiences and action, the main motive forces of the struggle. At the same time within the white community, some individuals realised that all the people of the country shared a common future and therefore joined the national liberation struggle. This is the array of national forces on whom the ANC relies for the continuing struggle to rid South Africa of the legacy of apartheid.
In class terms, apartheid ensured that blacks occupied the lowest rungs of the ladder of colonial capitalism: as the unemployed and landless rural masses; as unskilled and semi-skilled workers; as professionals squashed between poverty and the glass ceiling of job reservation; and as petty business operators confined to spaza retail trade – but never at the heart of the country’s industry. In opposition to this was the collection of white classes and strata: workers, the middle strata, small business and monopoly capitalists.
Black workers and poor rural masses stand to gain the most from the success of transformation and have been at the head of the struggle for freedom.
The formation of the democratic government has created the space for the advancement of propertied and professional sections of the black community. Black propertied classes are expanding their positions within important sectors of the economy. Government policies have opened up opportunities for small and medium enterprises. The fast advance of these sections constitutes one of the most immediate and visible consequences of democracy.
Because their progress relies upon the achievement of democracy, these forces continue to share an interest in the success of social transformation. But this cannot be assumed. International experience has shown us that elements of new capitalist classes can become willing or unwitting tools of monopoly interests, or become parasites who thrive on corruption in public office.
The white communities are not an exclusive terrain of parties opposed to change. A new sense of proud belonging constitutes a strong element that should be harnessed.
Character of the ANC
The ANC is a product of a given historical period, formed to unite the African people in the struggle for equality. Over the years it developed to embrace non-racialism both as a principle and a guide to its composition and day-to-day practice. Driving its approach to struggle was the fundamental national contradiction represented by the oppression of black people.
The primary mission of the ANC was and remains to mobilise all the classes and strata that objectively stand to gain from the successes of social change. In addition, the ANC must win over to its side those who previously benefited from the system of apartheid. The ANC’s mission is to lead society as a whole in the quest for a truly non-racial, non-sexist and democratic nation.
The nature of democracy that the ANC pursues leans towards the poor. It recognises the central and leading role of the working class in the project of social transformation.
The ANC is therefore a broad multi-class, mass organisation, uniting the motive forces on the basis of a programme for transformation. This character of the ANC derives from its strategic tasks in the current phase.
At this stage, we define ourselves as a liberation movement. It is our strategic objectives, the motive forces of the revolution and the character of the terrain in which we are operating such as mass work, parliament and government as a whole which are central in defining our organisational character.
Transformation will only have real meaning if it addresses the plight of triple oppression suffered by women. The ANCWL represents a sector of our society which over the decades has been oppressed and exploited as “a nation”, a class and as women. It should continue to broaden its base and improve its organisational strength and be at the centre of the struggle for gender emancipation.
The ANCYL is a critical tool of South Africa’s youth in pursuit of a better life for all. It should continue to function as an organisational and political school of young activists in our movement.
The ANC has the responsibility to link up with various political, community and sectoral formations that share its strategic objective, and contribute to their orientation with regard to the major national questions of the day.
Among these forces are the organisations of the working class – the SACP and COSATU. The tripartite alliance is an organisational expression of the common purpose and unity in action that these forces share.
Among the sectoral forces are student and professional organisations, religious organisations, the youth, women, traditional leaders, business associations, rural organisations, civic associations and others.
The ANC is the vanguard of all these motive forces of the NDR, the leader of the broad movement for transformation. This leadership is not decreed, but earned.
The current phase of NDR contains many new dynamics and the ANC should encourage creativity in thought and in practice. At the same time, it should maximise discipline among its members and ensure that when debate has happened and decisions have been taken, all its structures and members pursue the same goal.
The character and strength of the ANC must continue to reside in its mass base. And, as the leading force in government, the ANC should continuously improve its capacity and skill to wield and transform the instruments of power. This includes a systematic approach to parliament (where ANC representatives must fulfill the mandate of the organisation), creative employment of public representatives in organisational work, a cadre policy ensuring that the ANC plays a leading role in all centres of power, and a proper balance in daily work between government and organisational tasks.
As a matter of political principle, and in our structures and style of operation, we proceed always from the premise that there is one ANC, irrespective of the many sectors in which cadres are deployed.
The approach to deployment in the current phase cannot ignore mapping out career-paths for, and with, ANC cadres, to enable them to play the most effective role, and to advance in a systematic way, in the varied terrain of transformation.
The fundamental condition for our success, which is increasingly possible, is not merely sound domestic policies and programmes, nor our determination to pursue them. Progress in our country depends on the regional and international environment in which we operate.
The Character of the International Situation
The transition in South Africa was an element of a dynamic political process of a world redefining itself at the end of the Cold War. The new global situation has not resolved the contradictions between poverty and wealth; ethnic, religious and other tensions continue to ravage parts of the globe; some of these contradictions find expression in our own society; the transformation taking place in our own society is closely intertwined with the search for a new world order. The ANC seeks to take active part in shaping this order.
Today’s world is dominated by the capitalist system. A real danger exists that political and economic policy of governments throughout the world can be dictated to by these corporations. Another danger is that we have an approach to international relations that reflects capitalism’s unbridled license, with developing countries having surrendered their sovereignty.
Contained within this situation are opportunities. It is the task of revolutionary democrats and humanists everywhere to recognise dangers, but more importantly, to identify opportunities in the search for a just, humane and equitable world order.
Some of these opportunities include:
- The disparities between rich and poor even in advanced capitalist countries is growing. It is a reality which politicians cannot ignore;
- Among the nations of the world, the gap between developed and developing nations is as wide as ever. The communications revolution, the spate of cross-border migration and crime, and the implications of poor countries not being able to pay their debts cannot be ignored by developed countries;
- Currency speculation within and across national borders without any social purpose is a threat to both developing and developed countries;
- The awakening of a form of democracy and culture of human rights with government by the people for the people is finding new meaning in the growth of social movements on numerous issues. These structures of civil society wield enormous and growing influence;
- Common global threats, such as the AIDS pandemic and global warming dictate that humanity acts together to find common solutions;
- The new technological revolution provides immense opportunities for developing countries to creatively handle matters of development.
The ANC seeks to expand and deepen these opportunities within the context of promoting political, economic, social and environmental human rights; in the fight for democracy and peace; and in ensuring that international relations are guided by justice and international law.
Our commitment to the consolidation of democracy in our country can only be achieved through joint efforts in the Southern African region and Africa as a whole. Our starting point is therefore obvious: that South Africa is an African country. Our approach is guided by our commitment to the African Renaissance: the rebirth of a continent that has for far too long been the object of exploitation and plunder.
Through our efforts, the ANC aims to contribute to the restructuring of international relations in the interest of the poor. The ANC is proud to be part of the international forces that seek to eradicate injustice, poverty and conflict.
What then is the broad programme of the ANC for social transformation?
Programme of National Democratic Transformation in the Current Phase
At each stage in transformation, the ANC must elaborate a programme in line with the strategic perspective of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. For this phase, this framework is found in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP).
In essence, the current phase is characterised by the transition from apartheid government to democratic governance. We are in a phase where we have started to change society, at the same time as we transform the instruments that are required to effect that change.
Central to the current phase are a number of principles. These include:
- democratisation and governance
- transformation of the state machinery
- economic transformation
- meeting social needs
- safety and security
This then is the character of the country and the world in which we live. The challenges we face, as a movement and as a people, derive from this reality.
In pursuit of our strategic objectives, we shall, at each given moment, creatively adopt tactics that advance that objective. In this phase of transformation, we seek to expand and deepen the power of democratic forces in all centres critical to the NDR, at the same time as we improve the people’s quality of life. Our efforts, which are people-centred and people-driven, are founded on five basic pillars:
- to build and strengthen the ANC as a movement that organises and leads the people in the task of social transformation;
- to deepen our democracy and culture of human rights and mobilise the people to take active part in changing their lives for the better;
- to strengthen the hold of the democratic movement on state power, and transform the state machinery to serve the cause of social change;
- to pursue economic growth, development and redistribution in such a way as to improve people’s quality of life;
- to work with progressive forces throughout the world to promote and defend our transformation, advance Africa’s renaissance and build a new world order.
The struggle and sacrifices of the people over the past centuries have presented our generation with the unique opportunity to take South Africa into the new millennium with the overwhelming majority of its people organised, mobilised and united around a programme of social transformation, premised upon democratic majority rule.
We are aware that it will take time to realise our strategic objective. But the foundation has been laid, and the building has begun.
The struggle continues!
All power to the people!
The ANC is a product of a given historical period, formed to unite the African people in the struggle for equality. Over the years it developed to embrace non-racialism both as a principle and a s a guide to its composition and day-to-day practices. On the eve of the 50th National Conference of the ANC, Donovan Cloete reflects on the historical first national conference that gave birth to this organisation.
The South Africa Act of Union which was passed by the British House of Commons in 1909 and ratified by the South African Parliament on 21 May 1910 the anniversary date of the Treaty of Vereeniging (31 May 1902) signed after the Anglo-Boer War was based on a colour bar which precluded all blacks from being eligible to become members of parliament.
The Act of Union meant the repression of all blacks in every conceivable form; it was to curtail African freedom of movement; to deny blacks the rights of trading in their (or any other) areas; to cripple their education and generally to deny them the basic human rights and chances of equality of opportunity in economic development, cultural welfare and social advancement.
Before the formation of the predecessor of the African National Congress, the South African Native National Congress, the African majority had no political organisation which could voice their grievances and aspirations. Several attempts were made to form an organisation that would unify the Africans. The African People’s Organisation, founded in 1902 failed to attract significant numbers of Africans and Indians, and remained predominantly Coloured, centred in the western Cape and concerned mainly with Coloured affairs.
The S.A. Native Convention, held at Bloemfontein in March 1909, had elected an executive “to promote organization and to defend the interests of the Natives” against the colour bar in the draft Act of
Union. Rubusana, Dube, Silas Molema of Mafeking and other members of the executive claimed to have branches in all the provinces Basutoland and Bechuanaland. In 1911 Seme announced the proposed formation of a S.A. Native Congress. There was, he observed, a general desire for progress and for a national forum. “We are one people. Let us forget the differences between Xhosa-Fingo, Zulus and Tongas, Basutos and other Natives.” Nearly all the leaders and greater chiefs supported the movement for a congress that would give them an effective means of making their grievances known to government and South Africa at large.
Pixley ka Isaka Seme, born in Zululand, was related by marriage to the Zulu royal house. He graduated at Columbia University, was admitted to the Bar from the Middle Temple, and practised law in Johannesburg. He did the spade work for the conference with the aid of other young lawyers. One of them, Alfred Mangena (1879-1924), was a member of Lincoln’s Inn, and became the first African from South Africa to qualify and practise as an advocate. Another, R. W. Msimang, who also qualified in Britain, drafted the ANC constitution. The notice convening the
conference went out in December over Seme’s signature. Conference would formally establish the ANC as “a national Society or Union for the natives of South Africa”; adopt a constitution; elect officers; take a vote of confidence in Botha, Sauer, and the ‘Native Senators’; and discuss a variety of topics, including marriage and divorce, schools and churches, pass laws, ‘ the black peril and the white peril’, and native beer, land, courts and labour. “If there is no other reason to attend the Congress,” remarked Plaatje, “it is at least worth a railway fare to go and hear what the ‘Four Native Senators’ have done to deserve a vote of confidence.”
Close on a hundred delegates from all parts of South Africa and the Protectorates attended the ANC’s inaugural conference at Bloemfontein on 8 January 1912. Among them were nine influential chiefs, including Maama Seiso, representing the Basutoland monarch Letsie II, and Joshua Molema, representing the Rolong paramount Montsioa.
This historic gathering was chaired by J. Mocher, president of the Free State Native Congress. After the opening speeches and singing by delegates of Tiyo Soga’s Lizalis idinga Lakho, Thixo Nkosi Yenyaniso (Fulfil thy Promise, God, Thou Lord of Truth), Seme and Molema moved that the South African Native National Congress be established. The motion was put to a vote and passed unanimously with loud cheers, by all delegates.
The first National Executive Committee of the ANC was then elected:
Rev. John Dube, president-general; Solomon T. Plaatje, secretary-general; Pixley ka Isaka Seme, treasurer-general; Chief Montsioa of the Borolong, recording secretary; Rev Mqoboli, chaplain-in-chief with Rev H.R. Ngcayiya as his assistant; and four vice-presidents, Rev. Walter Rubusana, Meshack Pelem, Sam Makgatho and Alfred Mangena.
King Letsie II of Basutoland accepted the position of honourary president, but he was only one of some eight reigning monarchs who were elected to that position; others were the kings of the Lozi, Zulu, Pondo, Tembu, Rolong, Kgatla and Ngwato.
This conference signified the birth of the African National Congress. It was here where the ANC was assigned with the historic task of building a new nation, of being the midwife in the process of national rebirth and regeneration.