Volume 6 No.3
1 July 1995
- This Month…
- Workers March for RDP Labour Relations
- Workers are Demanding…
- Talking to Vula – The secret underground communications network of Operation Vula
- IFP Elections Strategy Takes Form
- Death Penalty Debate Shows NP Up
- Fair Nourishment for All
- ‘Government Housing Plan Built on Rock’
- Solutions Sought for Non-payment
- Summit Planned For Rural Housing
- Race On to Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal
- ‘It Must Be Moved Along’ – Interview with Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Fein
- Provincial Briefs
- ANC Organising Department Now Re-organised
- Gauteng Writes Community Charter
- Violence an Obstacle to Effective Organisation in Natal
- CA Work Gains Speed
- Summary of ANC Constitutional Proposals
- Struggle To Save Community Media Resumes
- Opinion – ‘New Day Dawns For Coloureds’
- Goverment Air Time Shouldn’t be Dismissed Too Quickly
- A Day in the Life of Thami Luphoko – ANC Gauteng Organiser
- In the Line of Fire – Sam Shilowa interviews Jay Naidoo
- Arts Education Proposals Basis for Cultural Change
- Mayibuye study series No. 1 – The South African Transition – in a World Context
- Creating Our Past
If the NP ever needed to develop a strategy for the new South Africa, it was last month. South Africa’s constitutional court – the instrument designed specifically to uphold democracy and protect the constitution the NP helped to write – last month unanimously ruled that capital punishment was unconstitutional. It was an historic ruling, which brought to an end a barbaric practice which should have been outlawed long ago. It was hailed from several quarters, including by number of international observers, as a judgement which heralded the start of a new culture of respect for human rights and dignity. After the euphoria of the first democratic election, South Africans had demonstrated their commitment to building a new, better society.
The judgement also provided an opportunity for political parties to assert their support for the new South Africa, and its new-found respect for basic human rights. It was an opportunity for parties like the NP to shed some of the vestiges of their repressive past. It was an opportunity to entrench their ‘new’ NP image.
However, the party which for many years had been setting and breaking world records for hanging people was not quite ready to quit one of its dirtiest habits. The NP slammed the court’s decision and called for a referendum to be held on the issue. While this move confirmed that the NP still has a long way to go before it manages to fathom out what a basic human right is, more disturbing is what the NP is saying about the legitimacy of the constitutional court and the supremacy of the constitution.
Whether the NP would be able to win a referendum on this issue is questionable. If the ANC and the democratic movement were to mobilise their resources around the abolition of the death penalty, it would most likely be able to convince the majority of South Africans that the death penalty is both inhuman and a wholly ineffective deterrent to crime. That, however, is not the point.
The point is that the Bill of Human Rights contained in the interim constitution is an expression of those fundamental rights which all people should be afforded irrespective of where they live; what their situation is in society; or in what age they live. Just because a majority of people at one point in history feel that it is right to murder someone for specific crimes, does not mean that one can automatically disregard that person’s right to life and dignity. A nation’s constitution should establish certain rights as inalienable, which the constitutional court must be bound to uphold no matter who challenges it.
Given the NP’s slight on the legitimacy of the constitutional court – and by extension the basis of our democratic state – does not bode well for the future. Are they, for example, going to question the court’s capacity to rule on the whether the final constitution satisfies the constitutional principles outlines in the interim constitution? Are they going to ask parliament to overturn all constitutional court decisions which they aren’t happy with? The NP might not have got the hang of democracy, but there’s no reason why they should impose their old-worldliness on the rest of the country.
While South Africa is embracing a future of non-racialism and human dignity, the United States is grappling with a situation which highlights the twin evils of racism and capital punishment. One could pontificate for ages about the backwardness of the world’s ‘foremost’ democracies, were it not that the subject of this case is due to be executed in just over a month’s time.
Even if Mumia Abu-Jamal was guilty of the crime for which he is accused, he shouldn’t be put to death. But from the evidence at hand, he shouldn’t even be in jail. The Jamal case is a classic example of the racism, prejudice and barbarism which still lurks in the US judicial and law enforcement system. The trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal is a symbol of much which is wrong in contemporary American society. If the Governor of Pennsylvania goes ahead with the execution of Jamal, he will not only be responsible for the death of an innocent person, he will be responsible for rolling back some of the greatest gains for social justice made in the last few decades.
Truth and Reconciliation Bill Passed
The Truth and Reconciliation Bill was passed by the National Assembly on the 28 June, following a several months long debate which saw over 300 amendments being made to the bill. For the bill to then becomes law required President Mandela’s signature. The Remuneration of Traditional Leaders Bill which provided for the payment of traditional leaders by the central government was also passed, amid vociferous opposition from the Inkatha Freedom Party.
Worker Mass Action
Workers took to the streets to press home their demand for a worker-friendly Labour Relations Act. Negotiations between business and labour in the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) had by the end of June not yet found a resolution to their differences.
About 70,000 workers marched through Johannesburg’s city centre on 7 June as part of a united labour campaign of Cosatu, SACP and ANC alliance partners to protest against employers’ refusal to include the right to strike and centralised bargaining in the draft LRA. The marchers were addressed by President Mandela who pledged his and ANC’s full hearted support for the worker demands and actions. Almost half a million workers turned out on 19 June in marches across the country to support their demands.
World Cup Victory for South Africa
The South African rugby team won the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday 24 June when they beat the New Zealand All Blacks 15-12 after twenty minutes of extra time. The South African team managed to contain the All Blacks, including the star of the competition, Jonah Lomu. South African flyhalf Joel Stransky kicked the home team to victory.
The team was cheered on by a large and enthusiastic crowd, who greeted President Mandela’s appearance at the game with cries of “Nelson, Nelson”. Mandela wore the number six jersey of the South African captain Francois Pienaar.
For their pains the New Zealand team were treated at a post-match banquet to a coarse, gloating ‘victory’ speech by South African rugby chief Louis Luyt. The South African team, by contrast, were treated to a Johannesburg ticker-tape parade.
Health Insurance Scheme Unveiled
Minister of health Nkosazana Zuma released on 19 June plans for a national health insurance system (NHIS). The NHIS is intended to provide universal non-discriminatory access to primary health services for all South Africans regardless of race, gender, income and place of residence. The scheme is expected to cost R36 billion over the next five years.
Inkatha Man Arrested
The deputy secretary general of the Inkatha Freedom Party, Zakhele Khumalo, was arrested on 8 June on 13 counts of murder. Khumalo is the most senior politician to be arrested since the government ordered a crackdown on alleged hit squad operations in KwaZulu/Natal. Khumalo is a close associate and former private secretary of Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Khumalo was implicated in the ‘Inkathagate’ scandal, in which he took the rap for accepting SAP funds for the IFP.
Sam Ramsamy Elected
Sam Ramsamy was elected International Olympic Committee (IOC) member for South Africa on 18 June. Ramsamy, a 57-year-old former physical education teacher who returned to South Africa after the unbanning of the ANC, led the South African team at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. South Africa had not had an IOC member since Reg Honey died in 1982.
National Soccer League Crisis
President Nelson Mandela called for a meeting with members of the National Soccer League and the SA Football Association executive committees upon his return from a state visit to South Korea. The president indicated his “grave concerns” at the allegations and counter allegations about the NSL management and expressed his wish that the matter be resolved amicably “in the interest of the sport”. Commenting on the issue ANC secretary general Cyril Ramaphosa said sport, particularly soccer, had the potential to bring about reconciliation, nation building and unity among South Africans. “Even at this late hour we appeal to all parties to subordinate their own interests to the best interests of the country as a whole and all its people,” he said.
Savimbi Offered GNU Post
The Angolan government invited Unita rebel leader Jonas Savimbi to become vice-president in a government of national unity, state radio in Angola reported on 21 June. At the time of gong to press Savimbi had not yet indicated whether he would accept the post.
More Dirty Tricks Revealed
Details emerged last month of a dirty tricks campaign created by De Klerk’s State Security Council to undermine the ANC and its allies in the build-up to the 1994 elections.
Former Stratcom operative Paul Erasmus revealed in the Mail and Guardian how Stratcom – the State Security Council arm which specialised in intelligence gathering and dirty tricks – had used propaganda, front companies, surrogate organisations, assassination, theft, blackmail, subversion and a “host of other activities” – to strengthen the NP in negotiations and diminish the ANC’s capacity to win a non-racial election. Among their tactics were concerted campaigns to undermine prominent democratic leaders, including Women’s League president Winnie Mandela.
The revelations confirm claims made by the ANC since its unbanning, and point to the direct involvement of senior NP members.
Harry Themba Gwala
Teacher, people’s tribune, man of steel
ANC and SACP stalwart Harry Gwala died on 20 June at the Midlands Medical Centre after suffering a heart attack. He was buried in Pietermaritzburg on 1 July.
Harry Themba Gwala was born in 1920 in New Hanover in the Natal Midlands. The son of a Lutheran lay preacher, he graduated with a teacher’s diploma from Adams College. He taught at Slangspruit and one of his students was Moses Mabhida, who later went on to become General Secretary of the SACP in exile.
In 1942 Harry Gwala joined the Communist Party of South Africa, and two years later he joined the ANC. Around this time he left teaching for trade union work. He organised workers in the chemical and building industry and formed the Rubber and Cable Workers Union in Howick.
In 1950 he was one of the organisers of the national stay-away, and was listed as a communist and then banned. He worked at Edendale hospital, but was fired for organising hospital workers into SACTU.
After the banning of the ANC in 1960, comrade Gwala was active in the underground until his arrest in 1964. He was sent to Robben Island for sabotage and recruitment of cadres into MK. Released in 1972, Gwala was restricted to Pietermaritzburg, making it impossible for him to earn a living as a teacher or in trade unions. He ran a laundry business, but used his work as a cover for ongoing underground activity. He was in the forefront of attempts to revive SACTU.
In 1976 he was arrested again, badly tortured, and charged under the Terrorism Act. He was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment.
In prison comrade Gwala was known for his tireless political educational work. In particular, dozens of young political prisoners benefited from his clear and effective teaching skills. While in prison, his wife Elda died and he was not allowed to attend her funeral.
In the 1980s comrade Gwala suffered from a rare motor neuron disease. It paralysed his arms, and led to his release in November 1988.
Despite the terrible, debilitating effects of the disease, Gwala’s spirit and commitment was absolutely unbroken. An electrifying speaker, he inspired millions of our people. In recognition of his outstanding role in the struggle, he was awarded the ANC’s highest honour, the Isitwalandwe-Seaparankoe Award on 8 January 1992.
He was elected as the first Chairperson of the ANC in the Natal Midlands after the unbanning of the movement in 1990. In 1991, Gwala was elected to the ANC National Executive Committee and to the Central Committee of the SACP.
After the April 1994 elections, Gwala became a Member of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature, serving also as the ANC’s Chief Whip.
He is survived by his three daughters and grandchildren.
Workers March for RDP Labour Relations
Workers marched last month to demand that the new LRA reflect the rights and priorities set out in the Reconstruction and Development Programme, writes Steyn Speed.
If agreement was not reached between business and labour representatives on the new Labour Relations Act by the first week of July, then the government should fulfil its mandate to implement the RDP, Cosatu assistant general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said.
In an interview with Mayibuye shortly before the last round of negotiations, Vavi said Cosatu’s LRA demands were reflected in the Reconstruction and Development Programme adopted by the tripartite alliance. Closed shops, strengthening of trade unions, centralised bargaining and the outlawing of offensive lock-outs were all contained in the RDP, he said.
Business and labour representatives in the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) had by late June failed to reach agreement on key issues of the labour relations bill. The gap between their respective positions had narrowed on paid time-off for shopstewards, agency and closed shops and “slightly” on centralised bargaining. However, there were still “substantial gaps” on particularly the right to strike and disclosure of company information.
“The media has created the impression that centralised bargaining is the only issue in dispute,” Vavi said, “but in my view, some other issues are more fundamental.” He said a settlement on centralised bargaining didn’t mean an overall settlement.
Vavi said there was still a possibility of a settlement being reached in time, but that Cosatu would not agree merely to meet the deadline. “We are not prepared to allow employers to roll back the gains already made. Some of the [business] formulations want to set us back to the ’80s,” he said. At the time of going to press, labour representatives were considering the compromise proposals made by labour minister Tito Mboweni.
While Cosatu’s rolling mass action campaign strengthened labour’s position, business remained intransigent on a number of issues. “The [mass action] campaign did help,” Vavi said, “employers woke up to find that the National Party was no longer in power, but that there was a democratic government which wouldn’t automatically take their side.”
Cosatu estimates suggest that close to 500,000 workers took part in the 27 marches held around country on 19 June. Workers brought the Johannesburg city centre to a standstill on 7 June during a march to outside the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. President Mandela and other alliance leaders joined the 70,000 marchers. He said the right to “demonstrate and strike was used throughout the history of the ANC”.
Contrary to business, NP and DP claims, the mass action campaign had strengthened the Nedlac process, Vavi said. He said through Cosatu’s campaign, Nedlac had achieved a far greater public profile. It had also involved workers in negotiations. “If employers thought we could work out elite deals in boardrooms, they were wrong,” he said.
Workers are demanding…
Summarised below are labour’s core demands for the new Labour Relations Act.
Strong, Stable Unions
The labour relations act needs to promote strong, stable trade unions through adopting a ‘majoritarian’ approach, establishing levels of representation which do not encourage fragmentation and proliferation of small unions. Labour is generally happy with the approach in the bill on these rights.
Cosatu wants ‘closed shops’ agreed to between representative trade unions and employers to be permitted, but that the institution be democratised through the holding of secret ballots, provision for political and conscientious objection and multi-union closed shops.
It believes, however, that the bill is not strong enough on paid time off for shopstewards, particularly for training.
Labour also maintains the penalties proposed by business for disclosing sensitive company information to competitors is so high as to negate the effectiveness of information being made available to unions. Although mechanisms should exist to ensure that sensitive information remains confidential, employers are Using this as an excuse not to disclose information to workers.
Labour demands that national bargaining councils be established in each sector of the economy, in which employers are compelled by law to participate. The content of these negotiations should be left to the parties to decide.
Right to Strike
Labour has criticised the provision in the bill which allows employers to dismiss striking workers on grounds of fear of “irreparable economic harm”. Cosatu maintains that this renders the strike strategy ineffective, since strikes, by their nature, are supposed to place economic pressure on employers.
The bill does not say anything on scab labour, which Cosatu believes should not be permitted during legal strikes, since they it reduces the effectiveness of a strike and has a history of causing violence.
Cosatu also wants that the rights to industrial action on socio-economic matters not be “unduly restricted”.
Employers should not be able to use the lock-out mechanism “offensively” as a way of forcing changes in conditions of employment on workers.
Labour wants the proposed workplace forums to be composed of democratically-elected shopstewards, as opposed to general worker representatives. Cosatu argues that workplace forums should not recognise non-union workers, as they have chosen not to be part of a collective. The agenda of the workplace forums should exclude matters covered by collective bargaining.
Duty To Bargain
Employers should be legally bound by the act to bargain with trade union representatives on all matters of mutual interest. The law should not, however, attempt to prescribe the agenda or outcome of these negotiations.
Talking to Vula
Part 3 – Vula Starts
The story of the secret underground communications network of Operation Vula by Tim Jenkin
In the early months of 1988 Mac Maharaj and ‘Ghebuza’ (Siphiwe Nyanda) were readying themselves to be infiltrated into the country as the first group of Vula operatives. To most people, however, Mac was a very sick man, suffering from a serious kidney ailment. He hobbled around on a stick and failed to turn up for a string of important meetings. It was said that he was about to go to a sanatorium in the Soviet Union to wait for a kidney transplant. Ghebuza was also withdrawing from his regular activities because he was about to go on a long ‘officer training course’ in the Soviet Union. No one, other than president Oliver Tambo and a few others involved in the preparations for Vula, knew the truth. So tight was the security around the preparations that no one doubted what they were told about Mac and Ghebuza.
The two had been well prepared with a range of professional disguises and false documents. An extremely contorted route had been worked out for the pair to reach South Africa from Zambia. They would depart for the Soviet Union where their appearances and identities would be radically altered. From Moscow they would fly to a few European cities to fuzz the trail, from where they would move on to east Africa and ultimately to Swaziland, where they would be assisted to hop the border into South Africa. Everything along the way was well prepared and well rehearsed.
Back in London the communications equipment stood idle waiting for Vula to start. Although we had thoroughly tested our equipment, messages had been sent successfully from South Africa only from the ‘ideal’ conditions of a comfortable hotel room. A public telephone was different. Would not the sounds of the street, the dropping of the coins and other factors not distort the delicate computer messages and render the system worthless?
As Mac and company would not have the computers on arrival in South Africa – these were due to be smuggled in later – we had set up a voice-mail system linked to a tone pager at the London end for initial communications. This allowed the comrades in South Africa to deposit voice messages in an electronic ‘voice bank’, and when they did so we in London would get bleeped. We could listen to the message from any phone – though we only used public phones for security – by punching in a special code on the dial buttons. We could also leave messages, but there was no way the comrades would know there were messages waiting for them except by dialling in periodically to check.
I started carrying the pager from the beginning of August 1988, for I knew that from around that time the comrades would be in the country. A date in the second week of August had been set for Mac to meet Antoinette, our KLM courier, who was going to hand over the radio telephone she had earlier acquired.
Suddenly, in the first week of August, the pager began to bleep. Could this be the start of Vula, or just a wrong number? Sure enough, the familiar voice of Mac played out of the voice ‘mailbox’. He wanted to clarify some final details about the planned meeting with Antoinette, but more than that it was a message to tell us that they were safely in the country. I quickly informed Lusaka of the good news.
The meeting with Antoinette went successfully and Mac got his telephone. After that there were a string of ‘voice bank’ messages but very little real information could be transferred with the limited set of code words that had been established beforehand. It was clear that Mac was getting frustrated by the non-arrival of the communications equipment. As Antoinette was due in Johannesburg again in two weeks we decided to buy another laptop and send it in with her, complete with all the other bits and pieces needed to communicate.
I expected Mac to begin communicating immediately but the receiving equipment in the London ‘communications centre’ remained silent for another week. I grew increasingly sceptical that it would ever be used: “It’s too complicated. Give them a few more weeks and they’ll throw the whole lot out and start speaking in whispers over phones again. I know these guys.”
Then suddenly on the last day of August, the ‘receive’ phone started ringing. The answering machine played its usual outgoing message and then the yellow ‘receive’ light came on, followed by the familiar high pitched tone of a computer message. It was music to my ears. I tried to picture Mac cowering inside the acoustic hood of some grubby public telephone in Durban. I could see him nervously holding the little speaker against the mouthpiece of the phone while looking worriedly over his shoulder. His heart must have been racing like mine. It was hard to believe that the sound I was hearing so clearly was coming from a small tape recorder ten thousand kilometres away.
I quickly played back the message into my computer and proceeded to decipher it. As the text message appeared on the screen I leapt for joy. There it was – Vula’s first message – as clear as daylight.
As I was reading the printout the phone rang again. Another message. After that there followed another three. Five messages in the first go and all of them deciphered okay.
There were a few corruptions in the messages but the error-handler had coped well. In all cases it was possible to guess the lost words from the context. I joined all Mac’s messages into one and sent the file down to Lusaka. “That’s the quickest any serious message has ever reached our leaders,” I realised as I was sending it.
The messages were typically Mac: not a sign of emotion, just straight down to business. It was clear that he had already been extremely busy. There were details of how he was spending the money; details of the setting up of a propaganda project; a list of publications he wanted from London; proposals for setting up bookstores in Durban and Johannesburg; progress in setting up a reception committee for Nelson Mandela in case he was released from prison; details of meetings with key MDM leaders; and so forth. He also said he had found an untraceable way of registering vehicles – a skill which I hope, as the Minister of Transport, he has now forgotten.
The next day I prepared a response for Mac and placed it on the ‘out’ answering machine. That same day he picked it up and the next day came a reply. This time the message contained some emotion. Mac was excited at the prospects of being able to communicate with the leadership in such a short time. However, there had been some problems. He had not been able to pick up my message using a public telephone as the sound of the coin-drops had corrupted it too badly. He’d had to use a private phone to retrieve the message – and that wasn’t good for security.
If the comrades had been in Johannesburg they could have used the radio telephone, but it did not work in Durban, where they were based. As I was pondering this problem another message arrived from Mac. He had discovered in the city a number of public telephones that used phone cards. Apparently Telkom had implemented a pilot project to test the viability of introducing card-operated public telephones. From then on we never looked back.
The link begins to pay
Within a couple of weeks of setting up the computerised communication link with South Africa, the value of good communications began to show. For the first time in the history of the underground struggle you had a group of operatives inside South Africa in dynamic contact with the leadership outside. What this meant was that there could be true dialogue between the soldiers and the generals. No longer did you have a situation where blind commands were issued which the soldiers obediently had to carry out. The leaders were now properly informed of the situation inside the country and any suggestions they made could be corrected by those ‘in the field’. Mac and Ghebuza could air their ideas with the leadership and the latter in turn could ask for more information before any decisions were taken. In short, there could be true political leadership instead of one-sided military orders.
The link not only served as a channel for dialogue and information transfer but also for a number of other purposes such as making requests, issuing criticism and arranging meetings.
Most requests were for money, documents, additional equipment for communications and the like. When the first request for weapons appeared on my screen my eyes stood out on stalks. I had seen the comrades packing some light weaponry when I was in Lusaka in June but now they were asking for an arsenal: AKM automatic rifles, TNT, detonating cord, hand grenades, RPG rocket launchers and rifle silencers, among other things.
Over the years the main factor holding back our revolution had been the logistical problems associated with the long lines of supply. Now suddenly these problems melted away. The comrades could during the week demand a supply of weapons or other equipment and have it ‘delivered’ by the weekend. Details of meetings could be arranged more or less instantaneously, complete with legends and passwords. If anything went wrong at the last moment both sides could be informed timeously.
The ability to communicate almost instantaneously began to have a profound affect on the nature of the project itself, and the personnel at both ends – and in the middle – had to adapt to a new style of working.
At first the comrades at home were patient in waiting for responses from a leadership who were not accustomed to responding rapidly to events. This quickly turned to impatience as they became aware that speed of response was an organisational problem and not one that could be blamed on inefficient modes of communication.
On the part of the leadership in Lusaka the inertia of the old ways was soon swept aside by the enthusiasm of those at home. The number of questions and requests coming down the line made them pull their fingers out. The messages also for the first time gave them a window onto what was going on, making them feel part of something live. This added spirit to their former languid manner of responding to events.
For our part in London, we at first felt like passive spectators watching the messages shuttle back and forth. Soon we realised that we could play the role of facilitators by prodding Lusaka for responses and reminding them of what they had to do. Printouts and disk files of the traffic provided a convenient record of what was demanded and what needed to happen. We could often short-circuit things by responding on behalf of the other side when we got a better feel of what was happening at both ends.
The system expands
From the start we were never completely certain how secure our encryption programme was. According to the experts there was only one theoretically unbreakable cipher – the one-time pad. Our system was based on the one-time pad, though instead of having paper pads the random numbers were on a disk. Each time the computer enciphered a message it read the correct number of characters from the disk, used them to perform the encryption and then wiped them from the disk so that they could never be recovered. While this provided the maximum security it had the disadvantage that the numbers got used up and more ‘key’ disks had to be sent into the country. Fortunately Antoinette was able to take these in.
The only way this system could be cracked was if the enemy somehow got hold of the ‘key’ disks and made copies of them. But after a while it was clear that nothing of the sort was happening. If the enemy were reading the messages then they would surely have acted on the information they contained.
The amount of traffic increased by the day and in order to streamline operations Mac acquired a message pager. Using a special set of code words, we in London could now let him know when there were messages waiting to be collected. It also allowed us to inform him if his messages had deciphered successfully or if he had to resend them. He could do the same with us using the voice mail system linked to our pager. As all this phoning had to be done from public telephones I decided that it would be a lot easier if I bought a cell phone. This I did using a false identity I had set up for myself. The cell phone turned out to be a most valuable addition to our communications set-up. In combination with the ‘voice bank’ and pagers we could now talk to each other in almost real time without our voices ever coming together. New code words could easily be added through a computer message. Often a question posed in a computer message could instantaneously be answered with this voice mail/pager system.
The answering machines clicked and whirred all day long with messages to and from Lusaka and South Africa. Mac’s messages would often come through in the middle of the night as well. Not only did the frequency of messages increase but also their length. As the phone cards being used by the comrades in South Africa lasted a mere minute and a half, messages often had to be split up into chunks. Sometimes a single message would consist of up to ten parts.
The demands on the system increased rapidly over the months forcing us to extend it to Conny Braam in Holland; to some comrades in Yorkshire who were assisting with documentation; and to Canada where a Vula operative was involved in recruiting activists to be sent in to assist Vula. There was no need to use the complicated acoustic modem/tape recorder system with these ‘nodes’ as the security demands were not of the same nature. Ordinary e-mail links were set up using commercial providers. The same encryption program was used, however, to maintain the same level of security as with South Africa and Zambia.
Inside South Africa Mac spent much of his time travelling between Durban and Johannesburg to attend meetings and set up structures. When he was ‘out-of-town’ Ghebuza would take over the communications. Often Mac’s trips to Johannesburg were timed to coincide with Antoinette’s flights to South Africa. And each time she flew to South Africa I had to go Holland twice: once to take her things for Mac and once to pick up whatever she brought back. On the out trips she would usually take great wads of 50 notes, new ‘key’ disks, upgrades of the encryption programmes, disks containing (encrypted) documents and longer analytical messages from Lusaka, micro-photographs or heavily concealed copies of ANC and SACP publications, new tape recorders and so on. On the return trips should would usually bring back disks of encrypted messages giving fuller details of the ongoing projects and the political situation in general.
Whenever I was out of the country Ronnie Press would take over control. He was by this stage also living in London and had in his flat an identical set of equipment. All that had to be done to switch the traffic to him was to inform the comrades at both ends to use his numbers instead of mine. Between our two flats we set up a number of links and backup systems using commercial e-mail, our own private bulletin board system and even a radio link which could transfer the messages using radio modems. We could also use the answering machine/acoustic modem system as a last resort.
At the Lusaka end one of Conny’s soldiers, Lucia, was put in charge of communications. From that point on the efficiency of that station increased markedly. A matchbox house in one of Lusaka’s squalid townships was rigged out to serve as the comms centre.
By early 1989 Vula was ready for big things, and it was clear that what had been achieved in such a short time could not have been done without the ability of all concerned to talk to each other so easily and so securely.
Next month: Vula reaches all the way to Nelson Mandela’s prison ‘cell’.
IFP Elections Strategy Takes Form
Inkatha looks set to use its old strategy of destabilisation to win local government elections in KwaZulu/Natal, writes a correspondent.
The strategy the IFP will use in contesting local government elections in KwaZulu/Natal is beginning to take form, amid insecurities about the stability of its support in the province.
If the IFP loses local government elections in KwaZulu/Natal, it could fundamentally change the balance of forces in the province. The IFP fear being stuck between what they perceive to be a hostile national government and potentially hostile local governments.
“It looks like the IFP wants to control as many rural areas as possible by not allowing free political activity in those areas,” says ANC MP Blade Nzimande.
He says the IFP is not sure whether they can rely on the support of rural people in the elections. The IFP has maintained its base in KwaZulu/Natal through a combination of genuine support, intimidation and patronage, in the form of their control of the chiefs.
It is therefore continuing its strategy of last year – and of the preceding decade – of destabilising the province. This is borne out in several developments over the past month. Its insistence on international mediation and its allegations of ‘bad faith’ against the ANC laid the basis for a call to “rise up and resist” the national government. The call coincided with an increase in the levels of political violence in the province.
At the same time the IFP sought to further control the chiefs in the province through the House of Traditional Leaders, in spite of calls by the Zulu monarch Goodwill Zwelithini for traditional leaders to remain outside of party politics. It has also resisted legislation to enable the salaries of traditional leaders to be paid by national government – wanting to maintain its capacity to financially manipulate traditional leaders in the province.
The most recent component of the IFP strategy, outlined in its 20 point plan, is to seize control of crucial areas of governance and return the province to a bantustan-like situation. The IFP wants, through this plan, to pursue the same strategies of repression and patronage as it did in the former KwaZulu bantustan.
“The IFP thrives best through chaos,” says Nzimande, “it demobilises other forces.” He adds that the IFP’s destabilisation of the province last year enabled it to cheat in the April 1994 election.
Nzimande says a lot of the responsibility for ensuring that conditions for free and fair political activity are established lies with the government at the national level. But, says Nzimande, the government mustn’t clamp down on the IFP, but on violence. The IFP is so resistant to measures to end the violence only because it is an organisation which thrives on violence, he says.
Although its focus is on rural areas, the IFP intends to contest the metropolitan areas around Durban and Pietermaritzburg, where the ANC is relatively strong. There are however some contradictions in the IFPs approach to metro areas, particularly in the way local government MEC Peter Miller has approached the demarcation of the boundaries of the Durban Metropolitan Council. On the one hand, the IFP would like to strengthen their electoral position, which would require the inclusion of surrounding rural areas into the Durban metro. On they hand they fear the chiefs in these rural areas exercising control over the city.
Nzimande says the ANC in the province needs to consolidate its organisation in areas where it has a strong presence. “The level of registration is not that bad. Our priority must be to get each and every person to the polls,” he says.
Death Penalty Debate Shows NP Up
The NP’s challenge to the constitutional court’s death penalty ruling, undermines the constitution of South Africa and the independence of the courts, writes Duncan Harford.
Calls by the National Party for a referendum on the death penalty, after the constitutional court found it to be unconstitutional, was an attempt to gain political ground for itself and undermine the legitimacy of the constitutional court.
The decision was an affirmation of the right to life, as contained in the bill of rights in the interim constitution. Constitutional court president Arthur Chaskalson said: “everyone, even the most abominable of human beings, has the right to life and capital punishment is therefore unconstitutional.”
In a move described by justice minister Dullah Omar as “highly irresponsible”, the NP however called for a referendum to test public opinion on the question of capital punishment. In a parliamentary snap debate, Omar said the NP was “exploiting the anger and concern of the public with regard to crime and is doing so for cheap party political gain”. He said it was whipping up emotions, fears and prejudices because it was the only way it could win votes.
ANC MP Johnny de Lange said the NP’s call was an attack on the independence of the judiciary. The NP wanted through parliament to reverse a decision which only the constitutional court was obliged to make.
The NP move sought undermine the legitimacy of the constitution which they helped to write in multi-party negotiations. “The problem with the NP is that to them a Constitutional State and a Bill of Rights is not something that has been internalised and for which they are even prepared to die, but it is just something you see as curbing the powers of the majority party and therefore and instrument you use and manipulate as political expediency dictates,” De Lange said.
Chaskalson said that “the very reason for establishing the new legal order and for vesting the power of judicial review of all legislation in the courts was to protect the rights of minorities who cannot protect their rights adequately through the democratic process”. The constitutional court, he said, “cannot allow itself to be diverted from its duty to act as an independent arbiter of the constitution by making choices on the basis that they will find favour with the public”.
Omar said the core values of the constitution should be beyond the reach of temporary majorities, although he doubted whether a majority of South Africans would support the death penalty if the democratic movement campaigned and mobilised against the death penalty.
The judgement handed down by the Constitutional Court has brought South Africa in line with contemporary civilised norms, it will re-establish the sanctity of human life, based on the notion that it absurd to expect citizens of a state to have any moral qualms about murder if the state itself is free to kill its citizens.
“The judgements represent a breath of fresh air over an apartheid polluted, violence ridden South Africa. The various judgements seek to lay the foundations for a new rights based approach and a human rights culture,” Omar said.
Death Penalty No Deterrent
While the National Party was arguing that capital punishment was the only answer to South Africa’s crime problem, the eleven constitutional court judges were unanimous in their view that there was no proof whatsoever that the death penalty was an effective deterrent.
In its judgement, the court said the high incidence of violent crime could not simply be attributed to the failure to carry out the death sentences imposed by the courts. It said the upsurge in violent crime came at a time of great social change associated with political turmoil and conflict. The court said there was nothing to show that a decision to carry out the death sentence would have any impact on the behaviour of criminals.
Constitutional court president Arthur Chaskalson said the capital punishment debate was often dealt with as if there was a choice to be made between the death sentence and the murder going unpunished. This, he said, was not so. “The choice to be made is between putting the criminal to death and subjecting the criminal to the severe punishment of a long term of imprisonment which, in an appropriate case, would be a sentence of life imprisonment,” he said.
Justice minister Dullah Omar said the NP, through its approach to the death penalty, was diverting the attention of many people from the real issue of what steps could be taken to prevent crime: “The death penalty has become a substitute for discussing concrete steps to fight crime.”
He said steps taken by the government, such as the community safety plan, had already produced positive results. He said these efforts needed to be linked with efforts to improve the ability off the courts to bring criminals to justice.
Fair Nourishment For All
Affirmative action is frequently misrepresented, sometimes deliberately, by people resistant to positive change. Mziwakhe Hlangani samples some of the views on the subject.
Albie Sachs, a former ANC NEC member and now constitutional court judge, describes the affirmative action ‘contradiction’ in his paper ‘Affirmative action and the new constitution’ thus: “There’s an old saying: one person’s meat is another person’s poison. So it is with affirmative action. For millions of South Africans affirmative action means advance to a better life, a long overdue chance to come into their own and start enjoying the good things the country has to offer. For others, particularly those leading comfortable lives today, it signifies a new form of discrimination and injustice, a vengeful form of juggling around with race quotas so as to threaten their livelihoods and security.”
Sachs says that is what apartheid was all about. The real approach is that what is good for the majority can and should be good for the minority as well. The rich and poor, black and white all want peace, prosperity, progress and justice, which mean the country can give not meat for some, poison for others, but fair nourishment for all, he says.
The ANC position on affirmative action points out that real victory for the people meant being able to deliver – not just promises and abstractions – but houses, jobs, electricity, water, schools and clinics, real freedom and real choices in the fullest sense.
The SA Communist Party (SACP) rejects the notion that affirmative action means the promotion of individuals – blacks, more specifically Africans – into managerial posts and into share holding. Affirmative action, it says, is about extending roads and electricity to marginalised rural communities. It is about developing an extensive, state-run primary health network, and introducing a free, compulsory ten years of education to all children., giving all old people an equal and living pension.
Affirmative action should be seen primarily as the empowerment of social groups, sectors and classes which have been historically oppressed. It is about collective empowerment, not the promotion of individuals. It is a massive programme of job creation for the millions of unemployed and empowering women through adult education and the provision of creches: giving workers increasing powers over decision making on the shop floor.
SACP deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin says once you speak of affirmative action in this way, you are on the right track. “Notice that you are then underlining not just racial oppression, but also class oppression and massive inequalities between rural and urban areas.”
Affirmative action in this sense, understands that overcoming decades of racial, class and gender oppression will not be ended simply by formal rights, by constitutional equality for all. Nor will these things be ended simply by creating a new middle class of blacks. The active and purposeful engagement of a democratic state and of progressive formations in civil society is essential and not just formal change or cosmetic promotions is required to overcome the legacy of oppression, the SACP says.
The Black Management Forum (BMF) has proposed in its affirmative action blueprint a policy in favour of blacks designed to ensure the “reversal of discrimination” as opposed to “reverse discrimination”.
“Affirmative action targets should be made enforceable by law and monitored by an Equal Opportunities Commission with quasi-legislative powers within the parameters of an Affirmative Action Bill and an Affirmative Action Statute,” it says.
The forum also suggest that “coercive laws” as opposed to voluntary programmes are required to eradicate social and economic inequalities. The negative and emotive reaction to quotas could be avoided through consultation with all affected parties and the careful prior evaluation of all relevant human resource data and techniques. It also points out that quotas should only be implemented if negotiated targets are not met without justification.
The BMF also contends that prescribed standards for job entry are sometimes used to retain the status quo and block the employment of specific cultural groups. It proposes that international benchmarks should be examined to redefine job entry criteria and performance measurement.
ANC NEC member Frene Ginwala, in her discussion paper, ‘Possibilities for women in the future South Africa’, argues that the country’s Bill of Rights must go beyond political and civil rights and provide for second generation rights.
Particular attention needs to be paid to the ability of women to claim effective equality with men and to claim human rights on an equal basis with men, she maintains. The attainment of substantive equality requires a clear understanding of how society is hierarchically structured on the basis of different combinations of race gender and class. To be effective, the concept of equality must be rooted in the conditions and experiences of the oppressed.
“It is important that the principle of equality in our new constitution must be such as will provide effective and not token equality for women. To do this, we have to address both the material disadvantages and the full complexity of women’s oppression. This means that a concept of formal equality or equal treatment before the law which allows the law to treat persons in the same way will not deliver equality because it does not recognize that we do not all start from the same place in society,” she says.
‘Government Housing Plan Built on Rock’
Having established solid foundations, the housing ministry has begun implementing the plan to build a million houses. Steyn Speed reports.
After months of planning and policy development, the government’s housing plan is finally being implemented. Although the housing ministry was quick to announce its plans after last year’s election, it is only recently that houses have begun to be built.
“There is no use rushing to put up housing which won’t last for even 40 years,” says housing minister Sankie Mthembi Nkondo. “I usually tell people: ‘We don’t want to construct our houses on sand, we want to build them on rock’.”
The ministry’s approach is a deliberate one. Interviewed by Mayibuye shortly after his appointment last year, housing director general Billy Cobbett said the government had resisted announcing a ‘quick-fix’ solution in their first weeks of office. He said they had chosen to spend their first months in office developing measures to address the housing problem in the long term, even if it made them unpopular.
Those months were spent developing consensus as much as they were spent developing policy. The core of their strategy was to bring together the private sector, government and communities to reach agreement around the government’s housing policy and secure a commitment from each of the sectors on their individual responsibilities.
The National Housing Summit held in Botshabelo in October 1994 was the culmination of this consultation process. It laid the basis for more detailed planning of the housing policy. Representatives of the nine sectors at the summit publicly pledged themselves to the accord, and undertook to fulfil certain obligations as a sector.
The result of this work has been that the ministry has been able to make significant progress in getting its white paper approved by cabinet, and establishing structures, like the national and provincial housing boards, to implement the policy.
Although the implementation phase has started, there is room for the policy to be adjusted according to its success. “The policy is not supposed to be rigid, it has to be flexible. There will be need to make sure that its realistic and accessible,” says Mthembi Nkondo. She says that much of her task involves “doing the rounds” to see the effectiveness of the policy on the ground.
The government approved around 200,000 subsidies, which were made available from 1 June to households earning less than R3,500 a month. The subsidy amount ranges from R5,000 to R15,000 depending on income. In addition to individual subsidies, the government is making available project-linked and cooperative subsidies.
The ministry is seeing these subsidies as an “incentive” to kickstart the question of home ownership. The subsidies are being administered through the provincial housing boards, who have to process the applications and liaise with the applicant and the developer. The subsidies are not being given directly to the individual applicant, but to the builder, as a way of protecting the funds.
The subsidies form part of the government’s plan to make housing affordable to greater numbers of people, as the majority of people who need housing can’t afford it. Linked therefore to the subsidy scheme are strategies to bring the private sector increasingly into the low income market. Through a Record of Understanding signed with most banks, the government hopes to make bank loans available to lower income earners. According to the ministry’s information tabloid, Home Truths, there will be 50,000 new loans in the next year for people who can afford credit.
Mthembi Nkondo says the government will be waiting “very keenly” to see whether the banks are meeting their obligations, and will be waiting for feedbacks from communities: “We’ve agreed with the banks that we’ll have a regular review of how the whole process works, because it is the first time that we are dealing with this kind of package.”
Banks will be also be watching to see whether communities previously ‘redlined’ by banks will be ‘normalised’, and more specifically whether loan repayments are forthcoming.
The ministry says that to attract investment and loans, communities need to ensure that functioning non-racial, representative local authorities need to exist and provide services. It says there needs to be an “acceptable and rising level” of payments for housing and services; community opposition to crime and violence; respect for the law and court orders; and a freely operating housing market.
To protect the consumer, and to save the government, banks and home-owner much money, the Builders’ Defects Warranty Scheme has been introduced. Builders who join the scheme promise to build properly, and take responsibility for their work. This will provide consumers with a higher level of security, and will ensure that houses built are able to last. It will alleviate one of the problems which contributed in the past to non-payment of services, rent and bonds, says Mthembi Nkondo.
The government is not satisfied that existing measures will ensure that enough South Africans have access to affordable housing. It is therefore in the process of finalising details for the establishment of a national housing finance corporation, which will make financing available to the non-traditional retail lenders. In this way, people who earn very little income – who normally wouldn’t get loans through a bank – will have access to credit. This money will only be available to limited segments of the market – those who most need it. It will provide an avenue for international investors to invest in South African housing directly.
The housing finance corporation is also intended to support emerging contractors, especially those from disadvantaged communities. Because they don’t have the capital to compete with the bigger, established companies, methods are being developed which will make available to emerging contractors loans at negotiable interest rates.
To ensure that unemployed and very low income earners are able to have housing, the government is planning the establishment of housing support centres across the country, which will provide people with all the expertise related to housing, including how to build their own. The ministry plans to have “one or two” centres established before the end of the year.
Mthembi Nkondo says the people staffing these centres will not be able to dictate to communities. “They will be getting into communities to give assistance where needed. And if communities feel they can get on with the job without these professionals, they are free to do so. As long as the resources they have been given by the government will not be misused, or will not be wasted because people didn’t have the correct knowledge to utilise the funds,” she says.
Even with all these mechanisms in place, the task facing the housing ministry – and the people as a whole – is an enormous one. There are between seven and eight million homeless people in South Africa. It is estimated that South Africa has a shortage of 1.3 million houses, and each year an additional 130,000 houses will have to be built to match population growth. Nevertheless, Sankie Mthembi Nkondo is confident about what can be achieved. “There is a lot we can do together, as a people and as a nation,” she says.
Solutions Sought for Non-payment
In an attempt to normalise the re-payment of home loans, a company has been established to help people who are finding it difficult to pay their loans regularly.
The company, Servcon Housing Solutions, will deal with individual cases of people who have been unable to pay “because perhaps,” says housing minister Sankie Mthembi Nkondo, “they are unemployed. Some didn’t pay because they were on boycott, some are unable to pay because they are confronted by emergencies they had not budgeted for.”
There are several options available to non-paying occupants. According to the ministry’s Home Truths, if occupants can afford to pay for the house they are in, every effort will be made to avoid repossession. The lenders will also help people who can afford to pay in finding ways of paying for their loans on a regular monthly basis. If people can afford to, they will be able to buy the houses back which were repossessed earlier.
If someone can’t afford the loan payments on a house, they will be offered help to find an affordable home. People who refuse offers of help and do not cooperate will be removed from the house with the support of the law. This follows an agreement between government and lenders that people can’t stay in houses they’re not paying for.
The ministry has hailed the initiative as a major step forward: “For the first time there’s a link between the private sector and the communities, which we hope to maintain because we are going to need it. There is a lot of reconstruction which needs to be tackled by both government and the private sector.”
Summit Planned For Rural Housing
The housing ministry is planning to hold a rural housing summit early in 1996 to develop mechanisms for delivery of rural housing. Housing minister Sankie Mthembi Nkondo says she had hoped to hold the summit this year to “tie together the research, the investigations, the experience of the people on the ground to look towards methods and mechanisms of delivery in the rural areas.”
Developing a rural housing programme is more difficult than in urban areas, for a number of reasons. The dispersed location of the rural population is chief among these. It means that distances are far greater than in urban areas, and resources far more difficult to access. The construction time on a house in a rural area is therefore far greater than one in an urban area.
It is very expensive also to put up the infrastructure, which includes piping for clean water, for sewage and sanitation; electrification; roads; and other services. The unique problems of rural areas demand that the housing ministry develop an integrated approach together with the other ministries.
Part of the delay to date has been that housing for the rural population, particularly farmworkers, has been administered under the ministry of agriculture. After a decision was taken last year to transfer that responsibility to the housing ministry, mechanisms have been sought to transfer the allocated money from the agriculture to the housing ministry.
The lack of clarity on local authorities in rural areas is likely also to pose a problem for the delivery of housing there. The lack of any appropriate structures means that there is no one to relate directly to the people on the ground, particularly around the issues of subsidies.
The ministry believes a summit would be the best way of addressing these problems in consultation with the rural population. Mthembi Nkondo says the delivery of rural housing is urgent, “but at least the processes are on”.
Race On to Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal
South Africa joins the battle against time to save the life of America’s ‘political’ death row prisoner, writes Steyn Speed.
The ANC, Cosatu, SACP and other South African organisations have thrown their weight behind the international campaign to save the life of black American journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is due to be executed on 17 August.
The warrant for his death was issued by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge on 2 June, three days before Jamal’s attorneys were to file legal papers seeking a re-trial and the setting aside of the death penalty. Jamal’s lawyers and supporters have gained widespread international support in a race against time to have the sentence commuted.
ANC secretary general Cyril Ramaphosa sent a letter to the governor on the day the warrant was issued urging him to remove Jamal from death row and allow him to appeal his sentence.
Cosatu international relations officer Bangumzi Sifingo said it was clear from reports that “the trial procedure was fraught with bias and prejudice”, and added Cosatu’s support to the campaign.
The SACP said there was “a strong aura of racism surrounding the trial and the subsequent handling of Abu-Jamal”.
Several aspects of Jamal’s trial, in which he was found guilty of murdering a Philadelphia police officer in 1981, and the police investigations suggest that Jamal was framed. In his application for a new trial, Jamal argues that the court withheld from the jury evidence favourable to the defence; that there was evidence of intimidation, coercion and special deals by the police; and that the medical and ballistics reports were flawed.
Jamal was denied the right to represent himself or have the attorney of his choice, and was allocated a mere $150 for pretrial investigation. Jamal was removed from the courtroom and missed most of the prosecution’s case. His court-appointed attorney was unprepared for trial, and was later disbarred.
Jamal’s struggle has received support from all over the world. In addition to support from several South African unions, Jamal has received support from prominent American actors, trade unions and public figures. The European Parliament passed a resolution calling for a stay of execution and that the case be retried. Journalist organisations from Japan, Germany and Ireland, as well as members of the British House of Commons, have added their voices to the call.
The Partisan Defence Committee (PDC), which is behind the campaign, said the struggle to save Jamal had particular resonance in South Africa, “where the hand of the executioner has been stayed as a result of years of anti-apartheid struggle”.
PDC representative Gene Herson, who was in South Africa to build support for the campaign, said the authorities in the US were trying to silence Jamal, an outspoken fighter for social justice, who, until the death warrant was signed, was still writing political commentaries for many newspapers. “They are trying to do to him (Jamal) what was done to Chris Hani – only they’re using the law,” Herson said.
He said the authorities were determined to execute Jamal. This followed a campaign against him which stretched back to his teens, when he was a member of the Black Panther Party and a target of the FBI ‘counter-intelligence’ operation Cointelpro. The operation, intended to crush black organisations in the late 60s and early 70s, saw the 15-year-old Jamal being put under intense surveillance by the FBI and the Philadelphia police. A 700-page FBI file on Jamal revealed that in addition to the surveillance, Jamal’s name was put on the FBI’s Security Index, being branded thereby a “threat” to “national security”, and on the Administrative Index, a list of people who would be put into concentration camps in the event of a “national emergency”. The file indicates that attempts were made previously to set Jamal up for crimes he hadn’t committed. Both the FBI and the Philadelphia police had a long-standing vendetta against Jamal.
In his application for a new trial Mumia Abu-Jamal contended that he was sentenced to death based on his political views, and not for the crime he was alleged to have committed.
On the night that Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was killed, Jamal was found at the scene critically wounded by a gunshot. He was arrested and taken to hospital for extensive surgery. The prosecution maintained Jamal’s guilt on the basis of three eyewitnesses who claimed to identify Jamal as the person who shot the officer; a purported “confession”; and the presence of the Jamal’s gun at the scene. However, Jamal’s legal team in their recent application found fault with each of these aspects.
The testimony of each of the prosecution witnesses was shown to be riddled with contradictions, with evidence that the police intimidated, coerced and made special deals with the witnesses. Other witnesses to the shooting – no less than four of them – reported seeing another man shooting the police officer and running away. Doctors who were present when Jamal supposedly made his confession on admission to the hospital, said that they didn’t hear the claimed confession. An officer who wrote in a police report that Jamal made no statements from the time he was driven from the scene to the time he arrived at the hospital, was sent “on vacation” so that he couldn’t testify in the trial.
Tests conducted on Jamal’s gun didn’t prove that his gun had been used, and were described by a ballistics expert as incomplete. He said further testing could have excluded Jamal’s gun as the possible murder weapon. In addition, the fatal bullet was a .44 caliber, while Jamal’s gun was a .38 pistol.
Jamal’s supporters have threatened strike action, if the legal application and protests fail to stop the first political execution in America in 40 years.
“We are doing everything in our power to save his life,” said Gene Herson, “it’s not only him – its what he symbolises.”
‘It Must Be Moved Along’
The Irish peace process, given much impetus by the IRA ceasefire last year, has slowed in recent months – largely because of preconditions set by the British government. Steyn Speed spoke to Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams at the start of his recent visit to South Africa.
MAYIBUYE: At what point is the peace process in Ireland?
Gerry Adams: The peace process is the best opportunity that there has been for a democratic settlement in my lifetime, and some people have said in fact its the best opportunity for peace in 75 years. The most significant element of that was the IRA’s initiative of August 31, when, undefeated and from a position of strength, what it did was to sue for peace. What the IRA (Irish Republican Army) said was that they wished to enhance the peace process, and to assist the climate to bring about a negotiated peace settlement.
And that was almost 10 months ago, and if one looks at how far we’ve come in that time, it is a reality that the British government are resisting the need to move towards all-party talks, and all-party talks are crucial to building a peace settlement.
We have argued – and I think its a democratic position – for inclusive dialogue, led by London and Dublin, involving all the parties and without preconditions. So in terms of taking the steps necessary, the British have been very slow. In terms of creating the conditions for peace there has been a great expectation and a hope created by the developments of the last couple of years.
MAYIBUYE: What prompted the initiative by the IRA?
GA: The situation here in South Africa enabled people in many ways – uplifted people. We saw a struggle here which was depicted by the reactionaries as intractable, a conflict which was impossible to resolve. And then low and behold, you have a democratic resolution.
The Sinn Fein peace strategy which led to the IRA cessation started almost 8 years ago. There was a military stalemate in our country, it was a political problem. It had been militarised by the British, and what we in Sinn Fein said was that we needed a political solution. So how do we get it? And we asked, what is peace? Can you have peace without justice? Can you have peace without democracy? Can you have peace without equality?
We engaged politically with our opponents. John Hume, who is the leader of the Social Democrat and Labour Party, and myself engaged in lengthy discussion. We agreed on what was called the Hume-Adams initiative. We got the Dublin government interested in that and we therefore had a jigsaw of these three pieces. And then we got Irish-America and the Clinton administration. So you had four pieces of the jigsaw.
We went to the IRA and we said: “Here is the opportunity, the international climate is ripe [for a cessation of hostilities]. We have an alternative dynamic built up through Mr Hume, through myself, through the Irish government, through Irish-America.” And those factors persuaded the IRA to sue for peace.
I myself think that the decision of the IRA leadership was a very courageous decision. And we have to build upon that, we have to seize the opportunity. We have to ensure that it isn’t squandered.
MAYIBUYE: Can the British stall indefinitely?
GA: There have been a number of crises in the process. At each of them we have been able to summon the support and the factors necessary to move the situation on. We have to move it on this time. It must be moved along. The British government are trying to manage the process. They’re trying to own the process, and the process has to belong to the Irish people. It has to belong to everyone. So while the British government will seek to continue to stall the process, we have to ensure that they’re not permitted to do that.
MAYIBUYE: What role is the Dublin government playing?
GA: The people in the part of Ireland under Dublin jurisdiction have an aspiration and a deep- seated wish to see the country united, and the British move out.
And it could be said for some long time, as a result of partition, that the Dublin government policy was to pay lip service to these matters. I think that the former Prime Minister, Mr Reynolds, has showed great decisiveness and brought the government to a point where it has not been at for maybe 60 years. Mr Bruiton who took over and is now the current prime minister has moved on issues like the prisoners, while the British have not; has made the point that there needs to be all-party talks; has argued against making any precondition out of de-commissioning of IRA weapons. So relative to the performance of the governments of Ireland of the past, the Dublin government today is playing a much more progressive role.
MAYIBUYE: What similarities are there between the South African and Irish situation?
GA: Both struggles have a common cause. They arise out of conquest, out of colonialism, out of discrimination and division. And both countries both share long, long efforts to end all that injustice. In this country of South Africa, sections of your people refused to acquiesce – to surrender – to the injustice. And the same thing is true of Ireland.
You also engaged in a peace process successfully and it was a process which brought an end to conflict through negotiation and dialogue. And we wish to do the same.
The dissimilarities are of course that you had mobilised huge international support. The government here was under massive pressure because of its repressive regime. The British government have been able to cloud the issue in Ireland and to erect a paper wall around our country. Another disadvantage which we suffer from is that you were able to engage in mass mobilisations, to substitute armed struggle with mass actions and other tactics. We find this a great difficulty in our situation, not least because of the partition of the country.
So we want to learn in a very general sense about all of that, and we want to learn in a specific sense about the modalities of making peace, of negotiations. The transitional point that we are now at, you have already experienced. Where it is impractical or doesn’t suit, then fair enough. But where it is practical, then we can take those lessons and apply them to our own situation.
MAYIBUYE: Is the republican movement united around the current process?
GA: Undoubtedly, and the proof of that lies in the fact that the cessation has lasted for ten months – with great provocation, but without any breaches. And I think republicans share a common struggle. We have all come through this together. And there would be concern, which I would share. There isn’t a grassroots sense and a leadership sense. There is a commonality of concern. We know it is a high risk strategy, but we know also that its one which has to work.
MAYIBUYE: What is the atmosphere in north like at the moment?
GA: There is, and its quite understandable, a sense of relief. There is a very high expectation. But people from the West Bank and SA townships have been surprised [at the level of militarisation in the occupied counties].
There is a population of 1.5 million people, and there are 30,000 heavily-armed British troops and mostly in nationalist areas.
Its still under military rule, but obviously the fact that they’re not in as many of the urban areas, they’re not as visible, has eased the tension pretty much.
MAYIBUYE: What is the organisational capacity of the Sinn Fein like at the moment?
GA: We have an open political party structure. We are organised nationally throughout the island. We have a national executive. A conference every year. All our office bearers and leaders are elected at all levels of the organisation. One in every three nationalists in the north votes for Sinn Fein. We are very retarded electorally in the 26 counties in the south. We have about 2.5 percent of the vote. And we are seeking to develop our ability to engage both in campaigning on social issues, economic issues on the national question – on the need to remove the British – and our actions, and street activity and mobilisations.
Compiled by Khensani Makhubela
After the ANC restructured itself into provinces at the December 1994 National Conference, provinces were given the task of dividing their areas into regions and establishing regional structures. In this Mayibuye we assess progress in some of the provinces.
The North West province has restructured its regions. It is now divided into twelve regions, namely Atamelang, Mankwe, Madikwe, Mafikeng, Klerksdorp, Kuruman, Odi/Moretele, Rustenburg, Schweizer-Reneke, Taung, Vryburg and Zeerust/Lehurutshe. The personnel in each region consists of the administrator and the organiser.
There is a programme to launch and elect Regional Executive Committees (RECs) by the end of July. There will be regional conferences on the 1-2 July.
The province has launched 300 branches throughout the province and there are about 290 unlaunched branches. There is a programme to launch all of these by the end of October 1995.
In each region members of the PEC, members of the provincial government and members of the national assembly are deployed to assist with the launching of branches, elections campaigning, political education and general organisational work.
Through the recommendations of the inter-regional summit held in July 1994, the three former regions of Natal – led by their secretaries – met and agreed to come together and form one province. In the beginning of this year, the PEC met and decided that KwaZulu/Natal province be divided into ten regions, namely Greater Mkuze, Greater Empangeni, Greater Newcastle, Durban North, Durban West, Greater Pietermaritzburg, Klipriver, Durban South and Griqualand.
The regions have deployed PEC members, MPs, MPLs, TLC councillors and other activists from local branches. The regional offices of the ten regions are at Mkuze, Empangeni, Newcastle, Verulam, Pinetown, Pietermaritzburg, Estcourt, Isipingo, Port Shepstone and Ixopo.
The deadline for launching the ten regions is August 1995. Branches would also have to have been launched by then.
The Orange Free state province consists of ten regions: Qwaqwa, Thaba-Nchu, Botshabelo, Bethlehem, Ficksburg, Harrismith, Sasolburg, Smithburg, Goldfield and Bloemfontein. Out of the ten regions only three have held regional conferences.
The regional organisers are ex-officio in their different regions. The seven regions that haven’t launched are expected to do so before the end of July.
At the December 1994 national conference the Eastern Cape motivated for 13 regions as opposed to the 10 which had been originally proposed. The motivation was based on the vastness and rural nature of the province.
The regions are Albany, East London/King William’s Town, Alice, Engcobo, Aliwal North, Kokstad, Butterworth, Lukisiki, Midlands-Karoo, Tsitsikamma, Port Elizabeth, Queenstown and Umtata.
The 13 regions are now in full operation, each with an office which employs a full time organiser and administrator. MPs and MPLs have been given ex-officio status in the RECs where they are deployed. Regional chairpersons and secretaries are ex-officio members of the PEC. PEC members are also deployed to the 13 regions. Regional elections teams have been established in all regions.
The Gauteng province is divided into eight regions. The regions are Soweto, Pretoria, Vaal, Johannesburg, Johannesburg/Lenz/Ennerdale, East Rand, West Rand and North East Rand.
Each region has an administrator and an organiser. The regions have deployed the PEC members, MPs, MPLs and TLCs.
The province is in the middle of launching its branches. There is a programme to have all the unlaunched branches launched by the end of August.
Organising Department Now Re-organised
The ANC organising department had to undergo a thorough transformation after last year’s election. But, reports a correspondent in the department, it is now back on track.
After the election, the organising department had to be set up afresh, with new personnel and a new mission which took account of the new situation. We first had to define together with the political leadership of the movement questions like: how was the ANC going to operate as a majority party in government of national unity as well as a liberation movement.
As the organising department we defined our role as continuing to build the ANC so that it remained the main force for change in the country. As part of this we had to develop and run campaign at all levels, consolidate the unity within the alliance and other democratic forces and win the local government elections.
Within the organisation itself, the organising department has been at the fore front of the restructuring process. We were charged with the task of ensuring that provincial, regional and branch structures of the ANC were up and running. After the election our structures were at a stage of near collapse after the absorption of experienced leadership into government structures. Before the election the ANC was structured according to 14 regions. With the creation of the nine provinces, the ANC had to establish structures along provincial lines.
Some branches and sub-regions which had formerly been in one ANC region, now fell geographically into another province. This caused problems in some cases, where comrades on the ground were resisting such moves. Our organisers had to do a lot of ‘fire-fighting’ in resolve such problems. In most instances the problems have been resolved. There are however areas that are still problematic.
We have now finished restructuring the department and have set up regional and provincial offices which all have staff and offices. We have nine provincial offices and 91 regional offices throughout the country. We are able to reach even the remotest parts of the country. We are constantly training national, provincial and regional organisers, administrators and membership officers
We have also set up constitutional structures – Provincial Executive Committees – in all the nine provinces. At regional level the process is still under way. We expect this to be completed by the end of July.
At the beginning of the year we had set ourselves the task of reviving branches and ensuring that all our branches hold their annual general meetings to elect new leadership. Although this is an enormous task, a great deal of progress has been achieved already.
Together with the ANC National Elections Team (NET), our organisers were centrally involved in the local elections registration campaign. They also helped the NET set up election structures at provincial and local level. We are involved in organising list conferences in all local areas where we will put up candidates.
In the same way, we are assisting provincial RDP Coordinators to establish RDP councils through out the country.
A feeling of general apathy within our communities after the election has weakened branches. In addition, opportunistic formations and individuals are currently inciting people against the ANC, claiming that it is not delivering.
Although our membership continues to grow, some active members of the ANC are not conscious of the need to renew their membership yearly. The assumption is that once they have paid joining fees they remain life members and do not need to renew their membership.
Unless we address the problem of dormant structures, an RDP which is people-driven will remain a pipedream.
Gauteng Writes Community Charter
The Gauteng Province has taken the first step towards the formulation of a manifesto to guide the ANC in the local government elections.
A Community Charter Summit, attended by the provincial leadership of the alliance, community leadership and other organisations, was held on 25 June in Johannesburg – a day before the 40th anniversary of the Freedom Charter.
The Community Charter is not an attempt to revisit the Freedom Charter. Its objective is to give people the chance to rebuild communities, influence local government and to attend to their needs and concerns.
The Community Charter outlines the needs and aspirations of local communities, through defining the role of local government; defining the needs and aspiration of the people; and explaining the rights and responsibilities of communities with regards to local government.
The Community Charter will form the basis of the ANC provincial local government election manifesto.
The community charter is be a vehicle through which the ANC can draw up its own developmental plan to address people’s problems. It also serves as a tool to inform RDP and Masakhane programmes at local level.
The community charter also outlines how communities will keep their representatives accountable.
The draft charter, which was adopted by the summit, will be taken to each home, school, factory and university in Gauteng for ratification by the people. The final document will be made available by 23 July.
Violence an Obstacle to Effective Organisation in Natal
While all ANC provinces have been experiencing organisational problems, the violence in KwaZulu/Natal has proved an extra burden for the ANC there. Mziwakhe Hlangani examines organisation in this war-ravaged province.
Violence is the critical and destructive problem for organisation in KwaZulu/Natal. Because of the fratricidal feuding the ANC has not been able to achieved key objectives – free political activity; peoples’ fundamental right to vote; and the reconstruction and development of the province. However, the ANC leadership is confident that problems related to the fighting will soon be a thing of the past because of the national governments decisive action to end the violence.
Although violence was widespread throughout the country before last year’s election, it assumed a particularly vicious form in KwaZulu/Natal. Founded on a strategy by the former regime to intimidate ANC activists and obliterate democratic organisation, and fuelled by the struggle for power of Inkatha, the violence has claimed the lives of over 20,000 people since 1984.
ANC provincial chairperson Jacob Zuma says violence found fertile ground in Kwazulu/Natal, given its history of homeland politics and the use by the apartheid government of the traditional amakhosi system. The approach of the ANC to tackling the violence has not always been uniform: “Because of the brutal killings of thousands of innocent people, there have been differences among the ANC alliance leadership in terms of devising strategies to counter violence.”
While the ANC enjoyed substantial support in the province, the level of intimidation has increased. “When we talk of intimidation here we mean the actual killing of our supporters,” Zuma says.
“There are areas where we decided that setting up ANC branches would be counter- productive. It was obvious people would be killed in their numbers. Now the effects have manifested in many ways and culminated in vast problems for the ANC during elections when other parties campaigned freely in the province. One example is when an ANC branch was formed in Empangeni in the Northern region – physical attacks on ANC supporters by the Inkatha Freedom Party ensued,” he says.
As a result the ANC leadership is still reluctant to hold ANC meetings in places like Eshowe and surrounding areas in Northern Natal, “where IFP supporters had embarked on a trail of violent attacks against our members”. Communities are wary of attending rallies in such areas because they know they fear that more people will die.
“It is not just that IFP supporters on the ground feel like killing every ANC member they come across, but it’s a kind of violence that has found viable ground because of illiteracy, poverty and high unemployment. KwaZulu-Natal has the highest unemployment rate in the country.
“In many instances people are even scared to be seen greeting ANC leaders or holding their hands because they fear they would be killed. That denotes the unacceptable high level of intimidation occurring in the area. Without violence the ANC Kwazulu/Natal province would be the strongest and the largest organisation,” Zuma says.
He believes that there is no reason why the ANC-led government should be unable to stop the violence in the province: “It is the duty of the government to deploy its forces into the province and stop it. The violence has fed perceptions that if the province did not normalise the situation there will be violence in the whole country.”
Despite this the ANC continues, given its history and tradition, to be a leading voice for the vast majority. It is the only organisation that fought tirelessly for the democratic system of governance and no one can take away that heritage, he says.
The movement is the only one with the policies that can give answers to the misery and difficulties of the people, he says. This is the hope of everybody, even people who have allegiances to other organisations. It has a leadership and membership at all levels that is committed to implementing its principles.
Zuma says the absorption of experienced leadership into parliament, the provincial legislature and local government structures is not the major issue for the province. Violence has been the greatest single factor which has affected the development of ANC cadres. Leadership structures from branch to provincial level has had to deal with issues pertaining to violence more than anything else.
“The reconstruction and development that we are only now trying to deliver could have been far by now. The economic growth and investor confidence that we are struggling to get it going could have excelled if the violence had stopped long time ago,” he says.
Zuma says there is good cooperation between ANC representatives in the legislature and the organisation – the democratic movement is not separate in the province. An arrangement has been made for an extended caucus which includes officials of the ANC, the Youth League, Women’s League, Cosatu and the SACP outside parliament. This improves the capacity of the leadership for communicating with the grassroots. The entire alliance leadership must know of all actions taken by the ANC in the legislature.
Although, the ANC within the provincial legislature is not a governing body, it is working very well with other parties in the legislature. If it was not for the ANC contributions and efforts to make the province governable, there could have been a lot of difficulties in running the affairs of the province. The ANC is guided by the principle that if the province was not governable the blame would be put on the ANC-led national government. Therefore the ANC contributes a great deal in governing the province and ANC MECs are working very hard, believing that the people who voted for the ANC are themselves the people who must benefit.
On ANC membership reported to be low, Zuma says this is a general scenario nationally, since after elections the ANC was caught up with various issues which needed the movement to adjust to new situations. This has led to the general tendency of not paying attention to new membership.
However, a process had begun to set up sub-regions, where new membership and general members were re-checked. A new approach has been embarked upon to redress the issue of new membership campaign.
“We are looking forward to establishing branches throughout the province to ensure that plans and strategies for implementation of reconstruction and development programmes are discussed at the grassroots levels. We want to ensure that the RDP is people driven, and that our people are empowered in terms of getting clarity and help in planning RDP projects. From the ANC point of view it is a critical point of local government, where more clarity on RDP would be possible.
On local government elections the efforts of the ANC in the province has been satisfactory in getting people to register. Still the lingering question is what will happen in places where there are ‘no-go’ areas.
ANC Kwazulu/Natal secretary Senzo Mchunu says there are 10 regional offices and 460 branches in the province, which he describes as a healthy sign for vibrancy in the province. These are located only in areas where there is not much violence. At a recent strategy meeting it was decided that problems around fighting in the province should be separated from the general problems in the area and that the leadership concentrate on local government elections campaigns.
A monitoring unit to create a climate for political tolerance has been established, while a rural unit will be responsible for campaigning and mobilising ANC support in the rural areas and among traditional leaders. Mchunu says the ANC has been approached by most chiefs in the rural areas who asked the organisation in the province to pressurise the national government to take over payment of their salaries from the KwaZulu-Natal province.
ANC MP Willie Mchunu says a proper climate for elections must be created by disarming people in Kwazulu/Natal and creating effective peace structures. Violence, intimidation and interference with the electoral process must be stamped out: “If anybody tries to interfere with the constitutional right of others to vote, they must be locked up,” he says.
Constitutional Assembly Work Gains Speed
The process of writing the final constitution for South Africa is gaining speed in the Constitutional Assembly (CA), with some drafting already taking place. Negotiations on substantive constitutional issues have begun in earnest in the CA’s Constitutional Committee (CC). The 46-member CC has a mandate to coordinate the work of the CA and to engage in some level of negotiations and decision-making.
Until now the main constitution-making work has been taking place in the six theme committees, which have been processing the 1.8-million written submissions; holding sectoral hearings; and attending public meetings on the constitution. As the theme committees wrap up their work, the Constitutional Committee is beginning to deliberate on the issues outlined by the theme committees.
Some discussion has already taken place on the Bill of Rights and the public service. Draft text is being prepared on the judiciary and the public protector, and should be discussed in the CC shortly.
Progress is also being made with the ANC’s constitutional proposals. The most up-to-date proposals – reflecting the discussions which took place at the April national constitutional policy conference – have been published. They are provided in a summarised form on this page.
An ANC constitutional workshop will be held on 29-30 July 1995 to address issues which were not resolved by the national conference. The workshop will broaden consultation on these issues and, where possible, develop policy guidelines.
Among the issues to be discussed is the electoral system – whether there should be single or multi-member constituencies; how many MPs and senators there should be; and what the balance should be between proportional and constituency representatives.
Other unresolved issues relate to:
- functioning of the senate;
- national executive;
- motions of no confidence;
- cabinet members;
- provincial legislatures;
- provincial constitutions;
- local government;
- institutions of traditional leadership.
Among the approximately 200 people who will be attending the workshop will be representatives from ANC provincial structures, the Constitutional Assembly, the national constitutional commission, Youth League, Women’s League, Cosatu, SACP and Sanco.
Provincial workshops or consultations would need to happen in preparation for the national workshop. Working groups at the level of the NEC have been formed to develop papers which can form the basis of discussion at the workshop.
Summary of ANC Constitutional Proposals
A summary of the ANC’s constitutional proposals adopted by the ANC Constitutional Conference, 31 March-2 April 1995. The proposals, which will continue to be developed through discussion within the structures of the organisation, will be the basis of ANC input into the Constitutional Assembly.
Part 1 – Constituting the Republic of South Africa
The constitution’s preamble would express a commitment to:
- an open society which protects the dignity and worth of every South African;
- a unified South Africa, founded on the sovereignty of the people of South Africa;
- overcoming the legacy of the past and preventing new forms of oppression;
- taking our place among the family of nations in Africa and the world.
The eleven official languages which are recognised in the Interim Constitution would be equally recognised in the final constitution. There would be room for national or provincial governments to choose certain languages as the official languages or for use in particular instances. Every person would have the right to communicate in the courts, in parliament and with the government in their own language.
All South Africans would be entitled to equal and full citizenship, which may be acquired by birth, decent, marriage or naturalisation. Citizenship could only be lost in circumstances set out by legislation.
Part 2 – Bill of Human Rights
The Bill of Rights will create a basis of guarantees which will ensure the elimination of oppression, discrimination, inequality and division. Not all rights can be properly set out in the constitution, and may need to be elaborated on through legislation.
The Bill of Human Rights needs to establish a balance between equality and liberty, protecting the dignity of individuals rather than their economic privileges. It needs also to maintain a balance between democratic government and the protection of individual liberty. In guaranteeing certain socio-economic rights the Bill should not give courts the power to set government priorities. It should establish, however, a floor of basic economic rights, which can be expanded through legislation or other parts of the constitution.
The Bill would include the right:
- to Freedom of association, speech and assembly, and to change government;
- to information and the free circulation of ideas and opinions;
- to a fair trial and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, degrading treatment and forced labour;
- to live where one chooses and freedom of movement;
- to life and dignity;
- to privacy;
- to freedom of religion, language and culture;
- of workers to set up independent trade unions, to strike and to engage in collective bargaining;
- to be protected from discrimination, particularly on the grounds of ethnicity, language, race, birth, sexual orientation or disability;
- of children to be protected from neglect, abuse, exploitation or exposure to harm.
The right to free speech would not include the right to “hate speech”, which would be regulated by legislation. Similarly, details regarding the right to free publication and the circulation of pornography should be regulated by legislation.
The right to life and dignity would not preclude the legislature from making laws providing for and regulating the right to an abortion. Discussion continues in the ANC on how abortion relates to reproductive and other human rights.
The right of employers to lock-out workers, which is contained in the Interim Constitution, would be removed from the final constitution.
The Bill would establish a system of just and secure property rights, which would include provision for access to land and for the redress of inequities. The Bill of Rights would also support the provision of homes, employment and services like electricity and water; affirm the right of all people to have access to basic education, health and welfare services; and direct that the environment be protected from desecration.
These rights can be limited or deviated from only in accordance with democratic tradition and international law and standards.
Part 3 – National Government
Parliament would consist of the National Assembly and Senate. For the National Assembly there would be a mixed system of representation, which allows for a combination of constituency-based representation and proportional representation. The national assembly would consist of between 300 and 400 members, however the ANC is still discussing how many representatives there should be. Also under discussion is whether there should be single or multi-member constituencies, and what the relative percentages should be of constituency and proportional representation.
Parliament should be elected at least every five years from a common voters roll, and on the basis of universal adult suffrage. The elections would be administered and supervised by an independent Electoral Commission. The commission would consist of 6 people elected by a 75% majority of the National Assembly.
The Parliamentary Committee system would be used to ensure executive accountability to an informed parliament. The committees would have the right to consider proposed legislation, to initiate new legislation and to conduct public inquiries within their area of jurisdiction.
Although the Senate would be a functioning component of the national legislature, it is dealt with in the ANC proposals in the section on provincial government. This is because of its central role in empowering provinces and in defining the relationship between national and provincial levels of government.
Coalition cabinets (as in the Government of National Unity) will be based on voluntary political pacts only, and will not be required by the constitution. The President would be the head of state with both ceremonial and executive powers. They would be elected by the National Assembly, would have the same term of office as the assembly and would only be available for re-election once. They would appoint and dismiss Ministers and Deputy Ministers at their discretion.
The Deputy President would also be elected by the National Assembly, and would be the parliamentary leader of the majority party. Cabinet members would be accountable to Parliament and the President.
The President or Deputy President could be impeached on a resolution by a 2/3 majority of both houses on the grounds of a serious violation of the Constitution or other laws or inability to perform the functions of their office.
Parliament could pass a motion of no-confidence in the President and their Cabinet, in which event the President may either resign or call a general election.
Part 4 – Provincial and Local Government
The final constitution would create a balanced and co-operative provincial system through, on the one hand, provinces collaborating at a national level through the Senate, and on the other hand through the division of competencies between national and provincial levels. Provinces would in the main retain their present law-making competencies, while they would have a more substantial responsibility for exercising executive power and making supplementary laws.
The role and structure of the Senate would change from what it is presently to give provinces a more direct say in developing national legislation.
The functions of the Senate would be:
- to maintain a close relationship with the provincial governments and give expression to the administrative experience and needs of the provinces;
- have a significant say over National Assembly bills that deal with the exercise of powers and performance of provincial functions;
- bear co-responsibility for the Republic of South Africa as a whole regarding provincial interests.
The Senate would have between 50 and 100 members, appointed by the provincial executives or legislatures. The possibility of including local government representation in the Senate was favourably considered by the ANC Constitutional Conference.
The Senate would be able to block, approve or initiate laws dealing with provincial matters; and would have the right to review other laws. Through the Senate, provinces would participate in the drafting of the national budget, though it would have no powers to block financial bills.
Discussion is continuing on exactly how provinces would be represented in the Senate; the size, administration and functioning of the Senate; and the relationship between the Senate, the National Assembly and the Executive.
This proposal would have the twin effect of imposing national considerations upon provinces, while imposing provincial considerations on the national law-making process.
Given the role of provinces in national law-making through the Senate, the provinces’ law-making competencies remain very much the same as present (with the exclusion of policing, which was never properly part of provincial competencies as outlined in Schedule 6 of the Interim Constitution).
In the event of inconsistency between national and provincial legislation, the national legislation will prevail only if national uniformity is desirable; it is necessary for the country to speak with a single voice; it deals with national economic policies; or if it provides for equality of opportunity. Where a provincial law doesn’t deal with any of these matters, but deals with specific socio-economic or cultural needs of a province, it will prevail over a national law.
Provinces would also be responsible for developing the details of the framework legislation of the national government.
The executive powers of provinces – the essence of political governance – would be significantly expanded. The guiding criteria for the allocation of executive powers for national and provincial government would be accountability, effectivity and efficiency: the level at which the best results with the least government expenses can be obtained, would be the level of the allocation of the relevant power.
Comprehensive framework legislation – including its powers, functions and structures – would be enacted at a national level. The implementation and supervision of the legislation would be delegated to provinces. The national legislation would:
- prescribe the areas of self-administration of local government;
- make provision for the allocation of mandatory functions;
- allow for the implementation of this legislation by provinces;
- confer the right upon local government to make by-laws.
- confer the necessary financial entitlements, authority and controls upon local government, subject to the provinces’ right to supervise such controls.
Elections to local government shall take place on either a proportional or ward basis, or both.
Traditional authorities and cultural bodies
Provision would be made for an appropriate structure consisting of traditional leaders to be created by law, to advise parliament and provincial legislatures on matters relevant to customary law and the powers and functions of chiefs. The powers of traditional leaders would be exercised subject to the provisions of the constitution and other laws. The ANC continues to discuss detailed proposals on the form and function of such structures.
Part 5 – Judicial Authority
This chapter of the constitution would deal only with the structure of the courts, their respective jurisdictions and the appointment of the staff who administer them. Most of the matters relating to the functioning of the courts would be left to legislation. Proposals for the constitution include the following:
- The Constitutional Court would have final jurisdiction on all constitutional matters. It would have the power to decide which cases to hear, and would be able to take cases directly from lower courts without having to wait for an appeal process.
- The Appeal Court and the Supreme Court would have the power to declare national or provincial legislation valid. If, however, their opinion that national legislation is invalid, it needs to be referred to the Constitutional Court for a final decision. The matter of provincial divisions of the Supreme Court would be left to legislation.
- Magistrate’s Courts should be able to deal with constitutional issues that arise from the Bill of Rights. They will not be able to rule, however, on whether legislation is constitutional or not.
Constitutional and Supreme Court judges would be appointed by a representative and transparent Judicial Service Commission. The commission would also play a role in the functioning of the courts, judicial training, law reform and complaints against judges.
Justice should be a national function, as opposed to the present ‘federal’ structure of the Attorney’s General. The highest judicial executive officer should be the Attorney General – who may be a member of the Cabinet – and would be responsible for prosecuting offences in the name of the People of South Africa.
Public protector, Human Rights Commission, Commission on Gender Equality, Restitution of Land Rights
This section deals with institutions which need to be established to safeguard the rights enshrined in the Constitution. The Bill of Rights would outline the principles and procedures which will guide the restoration of land rights to those deprived of them by apartheid. A Land Claims Court Tribunal would be established to restore such rights.
There would be a Human Rights Commission to ensure the protection of human rights. A Public Protector would be charged with ensuring that government is free of corruption, rudeness and maladministration. These institutions would be appointed by parliament with a 2/3 majority.
There would be a commission to advance gender equality, which would consult women and conduct research on the situation of women.
The details of the functioning of each of these institutions would have to be dealt with in national legislation.
Part 6 – The Public Service
The final constitution would contain only a framework for the regulation of the public service. The public service would be:
- professional and career-orientated,
- broadly representative of the South African society,
- efficient, effective and responsive in terms of the delivery of service to the public,
- loyal to the government of the day,
- transparent and accountable to the public and parliament.
The rights of public sector workers at all levels of government, as well as the terms and conditions of service of its members, would be regulated by national labour law.
There would be an independent and impartial Public Service Commission which would perform a ‘watchdog’ role with regard to legislated standards and norms, compatible with democratic governance and accountability. The commission would be established by, and function according to, a national law.
The constitution would insist that no public official should be able to enrich themselves or anyone else through their position in a manner which is not fit and proper.
The constitution would establish certain fundamental principles which would bind all security services. Security institutions would not be able to act under their own authority, but on the instruction of parliament and the executive. The executive, however, would not be able to use the security services in violation of the constitution.
Security services would:
- not discriminate on the grounds of sex, race, sexual preference, religion or belief;
- reflect the composition of South African society;
- be non-partisan;
- reflect a reasonable balance between democratic transparency and secrecy.
Although the structure of the intelligence services would be set out in legislation, the constitution would prescribe that the president would be ultimately responsible for the intelligence services, and that a multi-party parliamentary oversight committee would be established.
National intelligence would be a function of the national government. Each intelligence service would be subject to independent civilian oversight by way of an inspectorate. There would be no private intelligence services.
National Defence Force
The national defence force would be primarily defensive in its structure and functions; members of the National Defence Force would not hold office in a political party; and the SANDF would comply with international customary law and treaties regarding armed conflict.
The defence force would uphold the constitution and would not be allowed to bypass parliament or the executive. The president would have the power to declare a state of national defence or war, subject to parliamentary confirmation.
The constitution would also provide for a military ombud person to deal with complaints of defence force members or from the public against the defence force.
SA Police Service
The South African Police Service would have national jurisdiction to prevent crime, investigate offences, maintain law and order and preserve the safety and security of the country. There would be one national police service, loyal to the national constitution, with structures devolved to the provinces. The president would appoint a National Commissioner of police who would exercise command of the service.
The national commissioner would appoint provincial commissioners after consultation with the relevant MECs. The MECs, together with the provincial commissioners, would be responsible for monitoring effective policing in provinces.
The establishment of municipal, metropolitan and tribal police would be left to legislation, but would not be precluded by the constitution.
Part 7 – Finance
The constitution should only outline the broad principles on independent institutions like the Financial and Fiscal Commission, the Reserve Bank and the Auditor-General. The details should be left to legislation.
The guiding principles on provincial financial and fiscal affairs would be that:
- the national-provincial system should address the inefficiencies and inequities of the apartheid legacy;
- national, provincial and local governments should have adequate financial resources to exercise their responsibilities effectively and efficiently;
- South Africa would have a joint fiscal system under the leadership of national government, and not a rigidly divided system.
The Constitution would provide that the bulk of revenue would be collected and apportioned at national level after participation by provincial and local levels of government.
Provinces would be entitled to an equitable share of national revenue, taking into account regional imbalances, and national obligations in respect of debt servicing. The Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) would be established to advise the government on the distribution of revenue to the provinces, and would have representation from the provinces. Provinces would be able to raise and collect taxes if authorised to do so by national legislation, after consideration by the FFC.
ABUSED AT WORK
I write this letter to voice my feelings about the abuse at work that is still continuing in the new South Africa. It seems as if people from small towns are still ignored by the government. I write this letter on behalf of security guards who are misused by employers at work. I was dismissed from work for organising a union.
Other forms of abuse at my working place include:
- Working long hours without payment.
- No freedom of speech.
- Dismissal without a disciplinary hearing.
- There is no payment for working on public holidays.
- There is no night shift allowance
- No bonus at the end of the year.
I want to know what the Security Board is doing in controlling security companies. It seems as if the Security Board ignores the former homeland security companies because security guards still can’t voice their disputes.
SM Newanya, Hammanskraal
I am writing this letter on behalf of my fellow students at Mount Currie Hostel. The hostel supervision is very harsh on us. Our supervisors are drunkards and there is a lot of misunderstanding between them and the scholars.
If life continues like this at our hostels children might loss their tempers since everybody is a drunkard and they fail to understand the children’s problems. The misuse of alcohol results in children being badly beaten and expelled.
The situation is so bad that we cannot reason with our supervisors; we are not allowed to go home or to town. We felt that a meeting we had with our parents and supervisors was undemocratic, the supervisors were not introduced to our parents. I think the reason for this is that the supervisors are ill-mannered and the school authorities fear complaints from our parents. In our meeting the rules were read out and our parents had no say in them. The choice for them was either to keep us under the school rules or take us away from the hostel. Do you think we should trust policemen supervisors who come back drunk and still carry their weapons while they are on duty?
‘Concerned Scholar’, Kokstad
YOUTH AND THE RDP
While the whole country welcomes the objectives of the RDP, I strongly believe that it is a programme which is a challenge to youth as well.
As we youth are tomorrow’s leaders, we have to make a drastic move towards the success of RDP for the benefit of ourselves and of our beautiful country at large. Much is expected from us as youth, both abstract and concrete, and it is up to us to use whatever opportunity awaits.
To facilitate the RDP success, we youth can form structures like youth clubs, youth forums, cultural groups, etc; where ideas and opinions can be shared towards achieving these objectives.
I am therefore making an earnest appeal to all South African youth, irrespective of race and gender, to contact me so that we can start doing what we can now: P.O. Box 267, Vandyksdrift, 2245
Maxwell Zakhe Ndoba, Witbank
OPEN LETTER TO ROELF MEYER
I would like to thank NP leader Roelf Meyer for acknowledging during his address at Kanyamazane Stadium on 15 June 1995 that the National Party will do as we say.
We are not surprised though because the ANC is the only organisation that has a plan and a vision for the future of this country. As the only liberation movement which has brought change in this country we are not surprised by those who brutally used discrimination to drag our country into crisis. Today half the population, mainly africans, are living in poverty and without jobs. It is a good decision Mr Meyer to acknowledge that you were ignorant.
I thank you solely because if you honestly compare the ANC policy, the RDP, and the National Party policy, swart gevaar, you see the difference yourself. If the honourable minister means what he is saying, there is no need for the National Party to continue as a political party.
How can you say things yourself and dispute them within seconds and yet claim you can master what others plan. It will be wise also not to contradict what you say while you do what others say. Just to remind the NP that while you were shivering for the dawning of a new dispensation, you cried for a constitutional court. Today the same confused National Party is undermining the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court ruled against hanging. You go back and want that decision to be reversed.
You have no plan to offer. I believe the ANC’s Reconstruction and Development Programme is an excellent plan for all South Africans and may you do as we say.
And I can assure you that although you had us so busy protesting against the National Party’s illegitimate government, we will never be bored with its disbandment. At least we will use that time we spend waking you in your nightmares to think and implement what will make a better life for all.
Sipho Shonge, Nelspruit
Struggle to Save Community Media Resumes
After years of harassment and repressive censorship, community media in South Africa is facing its toughest challenge yet – to survive in an open, democratic society. Steyn Speed reports on some of the latest efforts.
The fight to save South Africa’s community media has been given fresh impetus through the formation of the National Community Media Forum (NCMF) which was formed at a community media conference in May. Only the struggle is no longer against censorship, detention and harassment; its a struggle for money.
South Africa’s community and independent media sectors have always suffered from a shortage of resources. With the country’s transition to democracy, this shortage has become acute. Together with the entire progressive non-governmental sector, community media initiatives have felt the effects of drastically reduced foreign funding – the primary source of support in the past for many media organisations.
The NCMF has no illusions that its immediate – and primary – objective is to establish sources of funding for community media. “We’ve come to a conclusion that there is no way that the community media can succeed without funding,” says NCMF president and chief executive office Tshepo Rantho.
They are approaching the problem in two ways. Firstly, they are trying to raise “emergency relief funds” to ensure that what community media initiatives do exist are able to survive over the next couple of months, and are able to carry on with their work until a more permanent funding arrangement can be found.
Secondly, they are looking at a long-term solution involving the establishment of a statutory body which would be responsible for channelling government and other funds to community media. The NCMF is calling on the government to play a direct financial role in making community media sustainable.
“We are taking our cue from the RDP itself, where it talks about democratic organisation of information,” Rantho says.
The RDP adopted by the ANC, SACP, Cosatu and Sanco says the democratic government must set aside funds for the training of journalists and community-based media. It calls for “institutional mechanisms independent of the democratic government and representative of society as a whole”. Such a mechanism proposed in the document is an ‘Information Development Trust’ made up of “civil society, media role players, especially community-based ones, the democratic government and political interests, to work out detailed criteria and mechanisms for assisting relevant media enterprises.
The NCMF has established a task team to develop a process for formulating legislative proposals for how such a statutory body would function. As a starting point, a discussion papers is being written for circulation to relevant government departments – such as the deputy president’s office, RDP and telecommunications and broadcasting – and interested groupings and individuals. A particular aspect which the paper will have to address is whether provision for the body can be included into present laws, or whether special legislation needs to be developed. On receipt of responses to the discussion paper, a research team will be established, possibly a joint project of government and the NCMF. The brief of the research team will focus specifically on how community media can best be supported, and will be expected to draw on the experiences of other countries.
The NCMF hopes to be able to review the whole report by October. A consultative workshop is planned to bring all stakeholders together to consider the developed proposal. “We are going to lobby for it be lobbied at least early next year,” says NCMF advocacy officer Lumko Mtimde. “It is an ambitious process, but we think it can be practical,” says Mtimde.
Despite the primacy of the question of funding, the NCMF has other important contributions to make to the survival of community media. The forum brings together for the first time in a structured way the three sectors of organised community media: radio, print and audio visual. Although each sector has a level of internal coordination and programmes specific to that sector, the NCMF was formed to build a community media sector in South Africa which is strong and unified. NCMF fundraising officer Karen Thorne says the forum’s role extends beyond advancing a common lobbying voice to various decision makers and securing funding for community media as a whole. “It is [also] looking at advancing multi-media concepts and in so doing sharing resources, preventing duplication and a general strengthening of the sector as a whole,” she says.
The forum will provide a platform for developing relations with the commercial and public media sectors as well. The NCMF is, for example, engaged in discussions with the SABC around possible cooperation in terms of training, sharing resources and exchange of programmes. The NCMF regards the SABC as a public resource to which communities – as the public – should be able to have access to ensure that their voices are heard.
The coordination and facilitation of media training, particularly among sections of the population who haven’t previously had access to media or media skills, will be another of the NCMF’s chief functions. Developing the capacity of community media requires not only financial resources, but skilled personnel as well. It is central to the whole project of community media that these personnel come from the communities which the media serves.
The forces of the market in South Africa have ably demonstrated that alone they are unable to provide the kind of diversity of media which a thriving democracy requires. The economic underdevelopment of South Africa means that the majority of people do not have access to the media that exists, and therefore their opinions, needs and interests are not generally reflected in the mainstream of South African media. It is in the interests of deepening and securing South Africa’s new democracy that the government invest resources into giving communities a real and independent voice. It is to this end that the NCMF was formed, and for this reason that it needs to flourish.
‘New Day Dawns For Coloureds’
The unique and difficult history of coloured people in South Africa means that special efforts are needed to cement their commitment to the non-racial vision of the ANC, argues David Adams.
The dawn of the new South Africa on 27 April 1994 meant that South Africans were able to grapple with the traumatic realities of the apartheid order. The institutionalised policy of divide and rule, backed by a discriminatory judicial system, which caused people to be separated, displaced, disenfranchised, disrespected and dispossessed of their land, was no more. A disunited people had to rise to the occasion and face the bold challenge of what it meant to be a single nation.
One of the deepest scars left by apartheid was manifested in the apparent lack of identity South Africa’s ‘coloured’ people.
Who are the ‘coloureds’?
The term ‘coloured’ was not used until the mid-thirties of the last century. The ancestry of the people to whom this term was given goes back two centuries, where inter-racial contact and inter-racial marriages took place between the European settlers and the local Khoi people.
Coloured people in South Africa have always occupied an ambiguous position in the politics of racism and oppression. They were seen as ‘less than’ european but ‘more than’ african in the racist hierarchy. Like the african majority, coloureds were subjected to all the racist policies of the National Party.
A phenomenon developed, however, whereby the National Party regime, despite having discriminated against coloureds, found a certain level of support for it within the coloured community. At the same time coloured people struggled for a political identity of their own through various – and varied – bodies, like the Afrikaanse Nasionale Bond, Cape Malay Association, United Party, Coloured Advisory Council, Labour Party, among others.
The April elections
Coloureds, historically, have never really identified in large numbers with their fellow oppressed, nor has this identification been consistent or uniform. Support for the ANC within coloured communities has varied from province to province. Between 22 and 27 percent of coloureds in the Western Cape voted for the ANC in last year’s elections. Many people argued that the victory of the NP in the Western Cape was the product of a few months electioneering work. However, the basis of their victory was laid even before the unbanning of the ANC and the start of the negotiations. Since the late 1980s the NP prepared itself to win the election in the Western Cape.
The campaign that was mounted by the ANC in the province mobilised significant forces, however.The ANC visited many rural areas and drew in many new members through People’s Forums. Without the tireless efforts of many thousands, the ANC would have fared far worse in the province. However, the coloureds voted largely for the NP in the belief that they could maintain what little privilege coloureds had.
Since the election last year, things have changed in the Western Cape. There have been changes in the perceptions of coloured people. The impact of the Government of National Unity and specifically the president has had a phenomenal impact on coloured perceptions of the ANC. Recent survey reports on Western Cape voters show a swing to the ANC among coloureds in rural areas. Such a shift is less marked in the Western Cape’s metropolitan areas.
The formation of coloured parties like the Kleurling Weerstands Beweging have had little impact on politics within coloured communities. Still, the ANC should be critical of, and mobilise against, such attempts to further racial polarisation and chauvinism.
The support among coloureds for the National Party is as misguided as it is fragile. The challenge for the ANC in the forthcoming local government elections is to combat confusion, insecurity, uncertainty and ignorance and ensure that coloured people across the class divide are persuaded to vote for a party which will safeguard their interests along with those of all South Africans, the ANC.
The author Du Prez summarises the position of coloureds in South Africa best, when he says: “Thus on the basis of common purpose, ‘coloureds’ ought logically to abandon any desire to join forces with their former oppressor and thrown in their lot with the rest of the former oppressed – not out to sheer opportunism and fickleness… but out of a genuine desire to eradicate racism and promote the cause of non-racism and democracy.”
Goverment Air Time Shouldn’t be Dismissed Too Quickly
Despite criticism of a proposal for dedicated government air time on SABC, there are some valid grounds for taking the proposal seriously, suggests Duncan Harford.
The news that the government had, through the South African Communication Service (Sacs), approached the SABC with a view to securing air time on television and radio, led to a heated debate about the role of the public broadcaster and the effectiveness of the government’s communication strategy.
Speaking during his budget debate in parliament minister of posts, telecommunications and broadcasting Pallo Jordan said the negative public responses to the proposal had not been anticipated and had forced a reassessment of the idea. He said the proposal had broken down the confidence of citizens in the impartiality of South Africa’s public broadcasting service. He said much effort was being put into ensuring that South Africa produced a credible and impartial public broadcasting service that would enjoy the trust and confidence of all its citizens. For these reasons he thought it would be “unwise to jeopardise this enterprise with ill-advised projects”.
SABC board member Pieter Potgieter said he feared the acceptance of the Sacs proposal would mean backtracking on the gains in editorial independence that the SABC had made since 1990. Another member of the board Ruth Tomaselli felt that Sacs had a large enough budget and that if it wanted to communicate its point of view without editorial intervention it could do so by paying for advertising time.
There can be no question that the government is in need of a vehicle through which it can convey its goals, achievements and thinking. Perhaps this is possible through the media as it exists at present. Perhaps more time should be spent looking at how well the government is managing the resources that are available to it.
The government has been accused of not maximising the opportunities for positive media exposure due to its lack of experience. While there is undoubtedly some truth in this, there can also be no doubt that some of the traditional power blocs within the media have made no attempt to portray positive aspects of the delivery of the reconstruction and development programme, preferring to concentrate only on the negative aspects.
Because of, among other things, poor journalism; shortage of space and time; and the failure of the media to move away from only reflecting white concerns and fears, the media fails to give details and background information on bread and butter issues.
There is also the issue of money. Where would the money for the proposed TV slot come from? If it is to come from the taxpayer, this essentially means that the taxpayer is funding what may be perceived as, and is already being portrayed as, an ANC government propaganda programme.
Perhaps a solution may be found along these lines. Sacs produces, from its allocated budget, a television or radio programme which would clearly state that it is a programme produced on behalf of, and paid for by, the government. This would in effect be no different to the advertising supplements that appear frequently in the printed media. In addition there could be a watchdog body which would regulate the issues dealt with on the programme. Controversial political issues should continue to be dealt with by the already established television programmes such as Agenda and Newsline.
Whatever the outcome of this debate the government clearly has an obligation to explain to the citizens of this country what it is doing in relation to the fulfilment of its pre-election promises. To fail to communicate this will only weaken the hand of the government. Therefore the government must come up with a coherent strategy for claiming its success and dealing with the issues over which it is discredited.
A Day in the Life of Thami Luphoko – ANC Gauteng Organiser
The Eyes and Ears of the ANC
Khensani Makhubela spent a day with Gauteng ANC organiser Thami Luphoko, as he went about building the organisation.
Behind every successful ANC event there is an organiser. For the ANC president and officials to appear in public and deliver their speeches successfully takes hours, days, weeks and even months of work by an organiser.
Trips to the regional offices and branches; meetings; press briefings; and home visits are all part of a day’s work for Thami Luphoko, head of the Gauteng ANC organising department.
On a cold Wednesday morning in June, Luphoko invites me to the Johannesburg Culture and Recreation Centre in Braamfontein where he is organising the Gauteng ANC Community Summit to be addressed by president Nelson Mandela. On the same day Luphoko has to visit Eersterus Stadium in Pretoria where there will be a rally addressed also by the president.
“As an organiser I have to make sure that we are not disturbed and disappointed by trivial things on the day of the two events. I have to check in advance that the hall and the stadium are ready,” says Luphoko.
He adds: “I have to see that the lighting system and sound system are good; if the weather suits the venue; if the position of the stage will suit the people. I have to organize tight security for the president and I have to see that the stage workers finish their work on time.”
The Community Summit – the biggest event of the year in Gauteng – is a meeting of various organisation to draft a charter which will form the basis of the ANC’s election message in Gauteng. Delegates are to be drawn from branches, the religious community, sports people, health workers, labour leaders, local business people and other sectors of civil society. The ANC has also invited other political parties. The organising department has already drawn people’s demands into a charter which is to be discussed at the summit.
Organising as a challenge
“Organising is a challenging job and we encounter many difficulties. If the leadership make a statement about any constitutional or policy matter in the organisation, people on the ground challenge the organisers, we are accountable to any decision made,” Lupholo says.
The organising department has concentrated its efforts on the Local Government Elections. They are faced with questions of people voting again while they voted in April 1994. They have started to teach people how to vote and how important it is for them to vote.
“After the General elections there was some laxity within the people that we have won, and they felt it was no longer necessary to join the ANC, to attend general meetings and to renew their membership.
“The organising department has started afresh to organise the people. We have suggested that in order to recruit new members and to encourage old members to renew their membership there should be some incentive to motivate people,” he says.
A large part of Lupholo’s brief is to organise the ANC and ensure that structures are informed of the organisation’s policies and in touch with the issues of the day. He coordinates the Gauteng province’s eight sub-regions, which are in the process of becoming regions in line with the restructuring of the ANC. They have employed organisers and administrators who will be responsible for these particular regions. This makes it easier for organisers to specialise in those localities and they are able to deal with day-to-day problems. The organisers in the regions are encouraged to visit their branches four times a week, to ensure that general meetings are called, burning issues are discussed and solved. Organisers are kept up-to-date with what is happening nationally so that they are able to respond to the people on the ground.
“The most urgent issue in the province is the local government elections. We feel that it is part of organisation building because some of the branches have declined since the election and we are trying to rebuild them afresh,” he says.
“In spite of all these difficulties we have managed to keep our province intact. Even at national level Gauteng is regarded as one of the most successful provinces in the country and we attribute this to the hard work of the organising department because we see ourselves as the eyes and ears of the organisation,” Lupholo says.
President Mandela has been telling, with some glee, the story of a recent phone call he made to a distant part of our country. There was a woman’s voice on the other end.
“Hello, to whom am I speaking?,” said Madiba in his measured and unmistakable voice.
“And who the hell are you?” came the reply.
In a playful mood, the president persisted with his question. But he had met his match in stubbornness. For a full three minutes, neither side was prepared to provide a name.
“Hau, if you knew anything about this part of the world,” said the woman, “then you would know who I am.”
“Well, perhaps some day I will be as famous as you,” said the president.
“Never,” replied the woman, and she slammed down the phone.
Talking of phones
The phone bills of the office of deputy president FW de Klerk are nearly twice as much as those of President Mandela. Sunday Times columnist, Hogarth, has an interesting explanation: Our president is so popular that everyone all around the world phones him. But FW has to phone out, just to let the world know that he is still around.
With the 1 November local elections approaching, there are some strange flirtations happening. While in KwaZulu/Natal, the PAC has been cosying up to the IFP, the DP, NP, IFP and PAC have been sharing platforms in Gauteng. Yours truly went to one such meeting recently in Eldorado Park.
The trouble with opportunist gatherings like these is that you don’t know what slogan to shout. I wasn’t sure whether to go for “One settler, one bullet”, or “Usuthu”, or just plain “Hoor, hoor”. In the end I opted for “Down a Leon”.
Still just ‘maids’ and ‘boys’
On 6 June, nearly 100,000 Cosatu workers marched through Johannesburg, protesting against the attempt by bosses in Nedlac to delay the passing of the new Labour Relations Act.
On the same day, SA Chamber of Business manager for labour affairs, Janet Dickman, made an interesting claim. She said that “it appeared labour was not mature enough for processes like Nedlac”.
Not so long ago, these same ‘liberal’ circles were arguing that “blacks were too immature for one-person one-vote elections”. Having lost the battle against democracy, they are now trying to stall the results of democracy. But with the same arguments, of course.
The new Ministry of Defence has not always had a good press. There has been much opposition, from within the ANC itself, to its proposals to buy four costly corvettes. But credit must be given where credit is due.
The ministry has recently taken the honourable step of blocking a multi-million rand arms trade with Turkey. The Turkish regime has an appalling human rights record. It has also recently invaded Kurdish territories in northern Iraq.
In ‘retaliation’ for this step, the Turkish government announced that it has placed SA on its ‘red list’. Turkish government spokesperson Nurettin Nurkan explained what this listing means: “After South Africa’s decision to stop arms sales to Turkey, no new military equipment will be bought from South Africa.”
Get it? If you punish us, we will also punish us.
First we were told the IFP wanted to re-establish the old Zulu Kingdom. When the Zulu king no longer wanted to play ball, we were told a federal option was the only way to ensure the country remained intact. Now we are being told the IFP’s plans for an autonomous KwaZulu/Natal are merely part of an exercise to save money.
According to a recent report in the Business Day, a senior Inkatha member said the IFP’s plans to return to the old KwaZulu bantustan needed to be seen in a cost-cutting light. “Official vehicles will not have to be resprayed, stationery will remain the same and we will not have to make new flags,” the official said.
Given president Nelson Mandela’s commitment to belt-tightening in the government, the IFP must be surprised that he didn’t jump at the opportunity to save on new stationery. Is the president the penny-pincher he pretends to be, or is it that he knows the real price of peace?
The Rugby World Cup final was an emotional moment for many South Africans. Not least for SABC commentator Martin Locke, who had special words of admiration for Nelson Mandela. So special, that he had to repeat them several times before and after the match (perhaps even during). As the president walked out onto the field in his Francois Pienaar designer shirt, Martin Locke’s emotion-choked voice was heard to comment: “There goes Nelson Mandela… the man who has done for this country… in recent years than… anyone else.” Gee, Martin, didn’t know you were a fan.
Still, it was perhaps the most accurate commentary of the day.
In the Line of Fire
Cosatu general secretary Sam Shilowa interviewed RDP minister Jay Naidoo on his, and his government’s performance, over the last year.
Sam Shilowa: Comrade Jay, you have been in parliament for one year, having left Cosatu on the understanding that we are putting you there to look after the interests of workers and the working class. What are the key challenges? What has been achieved and what are the failures?
Jay Naidoo: The most important achievement was getting the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) accepted by all political parties in government as the official framework of new government policy. Also, getting an understanding, even with big business, that the RDP is going to guide economic growth and industrial development and putting in place the structures to begin the planning framework that feeds into RDP delivery, and, particularly, through Operation Masakhane, developing an understanding that the RDP is not government-driven.
The RDP operates through a partnership between the government, the labour movement, civil society, business and community-based organisations. It is about understanding what the needs of people are, ensuring that people are involved in developing plans about how to meet those needs and then involving people in doing it for themselves.
These have been the major challenges and I think this message has gone out. This is why we are beginning to see delivery in a way that is leading to a solid foundation for future RDP development. A major obstacle has been not having local government in place. This is where government interacts with people around delivery of services. Getting this in operation is the single most important thing that we have to address
Shilowa: There is an allegation that there is no strategic approach to the implementation of the RDP. Your ministry has come under heavy criticism that there is no visible sign of change for our people, particularly workers. What do you say to that?
JN: The RDP is not about a few spectacular projects like opening up a hospital in Khayelitsha when we haven’t restructured the health budget to pay nurses or pay for the medicines. It’s about how we make the core business of government the RDP.
Shilowa: That’s precisely the criticism: that you set up one presidential project here and one there. What are the criteria? People say it is erratic – it’s more like the old regime that used to dish out money to win hearts and minds.
JN: The decision on the presidential lead projects is that while we’re putting into place the medium- to long-term strategy, there has to be short-term delivery. But the short-term delivery should be a building block to where we want to go. Katorus (on the East Rand), for example, was identified because a lot of work has been done in that area by Cosatu, the civics, the community organisations and the private sector to say: how do we begin to reconstruct and develop Katorus? There was violence in the area that we needed to end. At the same time, it was a learning experience for government in integrating the work of different departments. Housing had to work with bulk infrastructure. How do you build your roads? Where do you put your schools and clinics? That is what the RDP is about, integrating government and society around common goals.
So such projects were set up as a mechanism to get some delivery on the ground, but also as a learning experience to begin to shape how government as a whole should be operating. A kernel of the RDP is shifting resources from old priorities to new priorities. This must happen not only at a national government level but also at provincial and local government levels.
Shilowa: Masakhane is seen as a pay-up or else approach by the government rather than located within the context of delivery to the people? It’s seen as saying to the people: “We will not do the following things until you’re ready to pay.”
JN: That’s what the media says the government is saying: we are not saying that. We are saying that Masakhane is about delivery. How do we deliver the services and the houses and water and electricity to our people? This requires that people take responsibility for their own development. Delivery, the community’s right, must therefore bring about community responsibility to pay for those services.
We are saying we’ve got to deliver the goods and simultaneously involve people in what we deliver and how we deliver. For example, the Moretele project, by early next year, will deliver water to 150,000 people and create jobs for people there.
In the East Rand we could have brought in the biggest contractors to fix up houses destroyed by violence, but we had to link it to creating jobs. So we worked with small- and medium-scale contractors in the area, get them to understand the tender regulations to get the contracts. We then had to help them with bridging finance to buy the materials to fix up the homes. This means it’s slower, but the community is involved. It means we’re creating jobs and that is what the RDP is about.
Shilowa: Why is the Masakhane project targeted at our own people when there is no attempt to target the private sector which should be involved in job creation and the implementation of the RDP?
JN: We accept as government that we’ve got to make the private sector understand that the RDP is not a few social responsibility programmes – the core business of the private sector is to stimulate economic growth to create jobs. This is starting to happen. For the first time in ten years the private sector is reinvesting in new machinery and increasing its capacity at a factory level to maximum capacity. The manufacturing sector grew by 4% in the first quarter of this year. It grew by 5% to 6% in the last quarter of last year. So the manufacturing sector is growing and expanding and linking into creating jobs.
From the RDP, how do we ensure that this economic growth is sustainable? We decided to drive more government expenditure towards infrastructure development, putting houses, roads, clinics and schools in place. This drives the broader economy and at the same time begins to meet people’s needs.
Industrial restructuring and creating jobs are critical. Nedlac should be discussing this. We need a vision that leads Nedlac and leads the country. How do we lead to a South Africa which is an empowered working nation with high economic growth, with greater stability in our communities, with greater benefits to our people — whether it is workers or rural people or the unemployed.
Shilowa: You were involved in Cosatu rejecting the Labour Relations Amendment Act of 1988 and calling for a new LRA. What do you think are the major aspects labour should be focusing on now to ensure an LRA which is worker-friendly and which extends the basic rights that you used to speak about?
JN: Labour must remain firm in its demands on the right to strike, for industry bargaining and the whole question of how we democratise the shopfloor. But we have to negotiate with the private sector and government. We must locate the Labour Bill in the broader context of what labour wants and what we want a Labour Bill to do. For me it’s creating the basis for a negotiation framework within which we address the key issues labour is concerned about. How does the Labour Bill feature in getting us to address the key issues — reducing the apartheid wage gap through a policy of collective bargaining that links training to wages to industrial restructuring and to productivity, because ultimately South African industry has to become competitive, otherwise we are going to be wiped out by international competition. We cannot hide behind tariff barriers as we re-enter the new global economy.
For me, the bigger picture is more important. What is it that labour wants to address? What is it that the private sector wants? How do we, together with government, fashion out a partnership that gives each of the stakeholders what they want? Unless we combine our energies around those critical issues of training, democratising the shopfloor, the question of racism and productivity, I think we are beating about the bush.
Shilowa: But how do we deal with the apartheid wage gap when the government’s own position around public servants seems to have gone against the proposals to link the overall process of wages to a three-year transformation programme of affirmative action, job grading, training and freezing? It would appear that the government has opted to sacrifice transformation for short-term pacifying of white civil servants.
JN: I don’t agree. Developing a multi-year strategy takes more than one year. We are committed to the transformation of the civil service, making it more representative of the population in both racial and gender terms. We are still committed as government to reaching an agreement with the trade unions and staff associations about a transformation strategy, restructuring the bargaining council, looking at the grading issue, the training issue and at what government can allocate to reduce the wage gap over the next three to five years.
Shilowa: What’s your position on compulsion for centralised bargaining?
JN: I would like the unions to fight for that themselves. I think certain union leaders want government to take up their battle whereas the union movement is there to advance its own position. Government supports the move to industry bargaining and I personally support it because I think that through industry bargaining we are able to look at the macro issues. For example, restructuring the motor and auto industry will have implications for workers and employers. Those private sector employers resisting the move to industrial bargaining need to be convinced that more than just wage negotiations are at stake, it’s the issue of the future of this economy.
Shilowa: Your position on strikes and investment?
JN: We need to move South African labour relations to greater partnership and co-operation that delivers real benefits to people, so we’re not arguing that the strikes should be illegal. Strikes are a right of the trade union movement. We should a have greater emphasis, for example, on government conciliation machinery to settle strikes through arbitration and mediation, much the way that IMSSA does. Government should invest more in mediation machinery and training, so that shopstewards are able to handle the more sophisticated negotiations. But workers will always retain the right to strike.
The reality is that we need foreign direct investment in this country and one factor that foreign investors look at is the relationship between labour and business. How do we build co-operation in a way that secures the rights and involvement of workers in more than just wage issues but also in the broader issues about the economic future of South Africa.
Shilowa: Thank you.
These are edited extracts of an interview conducted for The Shopsteward.
Arts Education Proposals Basis for Cultural Change
Under apartheid, the culture of the majority of South Africans was neglected, distorted and suppressed. Mziwakhe Hlangani takes a look at the imminent establishment of an integrated and holistic arts education system.
The aim of the arts education policy proposed recently by the government is to redress the historical access to cultural resources and affirm the diverse expressions of South Africans culture.
In order to meet the reconstruction and development programme commitment to developing a system of education and training that provides equal opportunities to all, irrespective of race sex, class age, religion, geographical location and political or other opinion.
A recent report of the Arts and Culture Task Group (Actag) developed a vision to build a national democratic culture which reflects and respects South Africa’s diverse cultural heritage, traditions and cultures through transformation of arts education. This will be done within the formal school system and through the development and extension of community based structures.
The Actag report said transformation necessitates radical change, which is feared by those wishing to protect vested interests. If arts education is to thrive, it is essential that the process of change be creatively initiated and efficiently managed. This will require on-going evaluation. It also acknowledged that change will not take place until the process was owned by all participants.
The report noted that the separation of the Ministry of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology from the Ministry of Education was a problem in that both ministries would have to approve and ensure the implementation of the arts education policy.
It suggested that arts be represented on all decision-making structures of the Department of Education. Actag also called for a meeting between members of the Actag sub-committee on arts education and representatives of the joint working group of the two ministries, to set up relevant structures for promoting and fostering arts education.
A major nation-wide research project funded by the Human Sciences Research Council should be launched immediately, it said. This should be action research conducted by arts practitioners in consultation with their local communities. It is envisaged as a study of the value and benefits of arts education, a transformed curriculum, the offering of combined arts at primary levels, assessment and evaluation, teacher education and the development of resources.
The report noted that the entire system of education had been severely fragmented and bureaucratic, with a complex hierarchy of separate racial, social and ethnic departments and services. Financial and policy control was maintained in the hands of the governing minority throughout, and discriminatory funding of education entrenched huge disparities in physical facilities, professional services and the quality of teaching.
Mayibuye study series No. 1
The South African Transition – in a World Context
The transition that has been happening in SA has been confusing for many of us. We can all see that there has been some progress. But do our old concepts and approaches still apply?
How do we locate what has been happening in SA these last four years? Has the transition in SA been part of a wider world process? If so what kind of process does it fit?
Are we involved in a national liberation process of decolonisation? Or is it more a negotiated transition to democracy?
In this series we will go in depth into many of these questions.
The ANC has always located the South African struggle in the broader context of world developments. This has been a key strength of our movement.
In 1906 Pixley ka Isaka Seme wrote “The Regeneration of Africa”. This was to be an important inspiration for the formation of the ANC six years later. The Anglo-Boer War at the turn of the century had produced the first negotiated, power-sharing arrangement in our country. But it was a deal between the British Colonial Office and local white settlers. The majority of South Africa’s people, like those of the continent at large, remained colonised.
Right from the start, the ANC located itself in a broader African anti-colonial struggle.
After the Second World War
In December 1943, as the end of the Second World War was in sight, the ANC national conference endorsed a key document, “Africans’ Claims in South Africa”. A broad alliance of international forces was on the brink of defeating fascism and nazism. But how different was fascism from the racial oppression of colonised peoples? Countries in Europe that had suffered military occupation by fascist forces had every right to fight national liberation struggles, and to receive international support.
But what of the people of Asia and Africa? Would the period after the Second World War simply return them to colonialism? Was democracy just for Europeans and North Americans? Sensing that world politics was about to be restructured, the ANC made its own progressive interventions into these debates.
In the 1950s and early 1960s dozens of African and Asian national liberation movements were indeed to lead their people to independence. This was one of the positive fruits of the post-Second World War victory. But decolonisation also had other, less positive, reasons.
The old colonial powers – like Britain and France – had lost ground to the United States. The US saw in decolonisation an opportunity to open up new markets for its own companies. Formal decolonisation, US imperialist circles realised, need not block imperial control. Instead of installing American colonial administrations to replace British and French colonisers, dollar power and local neo-colonial collaborators could do a better job.
Neo-colonialism or NDR?
This was the world context in which the Congress of the People convened at Kliptown in June 1955. Formal decolonisation, a new flag and anthem, were not all that were at stake in South Africa. Everyone had the right to citizenship, yes. But there were two different paths to decolonisation:
- a neo-colonial path that bestowed formal rights, but left the majority of people still living in poverty; or
- a more far-reaching national democratic revolution.
The social and economic content of decolonisation was critical. This is what the Congress movement began to discuss for the first time in some substance in 1955. And this is the true meaning of the Freedom Charter. Once more, the ANC was connecting our own struggle to developments in the world.
The progressive path?
But how were national liberation movements to embark on a progressive national democratic path in a world dominated by imperialism?
This was the question that the ANC increasingly asked itself in the 1950s and 60s. The most outstanding document to emerge from this process was the “Strategy and Tactics” document of the ANC’s 1969 Morogoro Conference.
A second major power, the Soviet Union, had emerged from the ashes of the Second World War. The existence of a second, Soviet-dominated power bloc, provided at best support and at the very least, some room for manoeuvre for progressive Third World liberation movements. By aligning themselves with the Soviet bloc, or by at least practising non-alignment, progressive liberation forces could hope to win some breathing space for themselves.
This was the strategic orientation of the ANC at this time.
How relevant now?
However, the world has changed dramatically in the last few years. So how valid are our historic strategic perspectives now? This is the key question to which we shall return in future instalments of this series.
The Mayibuye Study Series will appear monthly to prompt discussion and debate about politics and theory. The next few issues will focus on the South African transition in a global context.
Creating Our Past
Truth and reconciliation needs to extend behind the confines of the courtroom, and into the world of art and culture, writes Judy Seidmann.
A Russian civil servant recently told Roger Jardine, director general of Arts and Culture, Science and Technology, that their country does not only have an unsettled future, it has an unsettled past. This sentiment could be aptly applied to our nation as well.
Working in arts and culture is not merely making pretty pictures, or exciting drama, or harmonious sounds. It is more about finding out where we are as people, as individuals and as society; where we come from, and where we are going. And then saying this in a manner that other people who see or hear it think: “Oh yes, of course, now I understand.”
This means that we need to define, as artists and cultural workers, not just what we see around us at any one moment, but the whole fluid movement of where we come from, and where we think we are going.
Today, our country finds itself in a fierce debate over whether it should have public disclosure of past crimes; about whether we need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and how far it should extend. But discovering the crimes of the past is only one step towards understanding our past, and coming to terms with it.
We need also to commemorate and preserve the other side of that history: the heroism and sacrifice of so many people, the statement of human worth in the face of a crime against humanity. The other side of oppression is resistance and liberation; and we need to celebrate that.
A year after the people’s victory in the 1994 elections, we have not one public sculpture commemorating our victory.
Creating our past is not a matter of destroying ‘existing’ history. Most cultural workers would not agree to tearing down the statues of Van Riebeeck and Smuts as a sign of rejection of the politics that they represent. Those statues, and the glorification of conquest that they represent, hold a place in our history, even if it is a place that has been distorted and misrepresented.
We need not even advocate destroying the actively offensive statues, such as the statue to the ‘victims of terrorism’ in Pretoria, or the white settler discovering gold by Johannesburg’s Eastgate (appropriately named Settlers Park). Rather than destroy such works, we would propose they are quietly moved to less prominent places where they need not offend passers-by on a regular basis; but could be seen and considered by those who wish to visit them.
This has been done elsewhere; in India they established a park to remember the dead British empire.
It is not a matter a tearing down statues. Rather we should look at creating new ones: statues that commemorate not the triumphs of now-deposed rulers, but that remember and honour our people’s history and struggles and victories.
We need to commemorate where Hector Peterson died, where the 1976 uprising began. We need to commemorate Freedom Square in Kliptown. We need to commemorate the ‘unknown miners’ who were sent home to die of silicosis and TB, having spent their lives building South Africa’s economy of gold. We need to commemorate those young men and women who gave their lives to MK.
The Gauteng ministry for sport, recreation, arts and culture has recently obtained R50,000 from the provincial RDP to begin within the next few months this process of honouring our past. Project Commemoration asks artists and communities to identify sites and events that are of importance to our history, and to create ‘commemorative markers’ for these sites.
These markers could range from metal plaques – perhaps, a plaque on the house of a local comrade who gave their life in the struggle, recording the date and manner in which they died – to sculptures and murals recording where major events in our history occurred. One proposed sculpture, already under construction by Mpho Ngwenya, is a life-size group of statues reflecting the death of Hector Peterson.
Another proposal is to paint a mural on a government building from a design by Thami Mnyele, an exiled artist who was killed in the 1985 SADF raid on Gaberone.
Artists or communities who wish to commemorate a site or event in their area should contact the Gauteng ministry. All proposals for works of art and commemorative markers must be approved by community organisations where they are to be located. It is hoped that although the RDP funds are very small and can only cover basic costs, communities in some cases may wish to contribute to provide more elaborate construction.
We have a history to recall with pain, but also with pride. Let us show our children and the world that we have not forgotten that.