Volume 7 No.1
1 February 1996
- This Month…
- Obituary – Harold Wolpe
- Provincial Briefs
- Mayibuye Study Series – The SA transition in a world context
- South Africa wins more than a cup
- State assets must forward RDP
- Bill protects rights of labour tenants
- The bill is welcome, but…
- Revival in Mpumalanga
- The year for democracy, peace and development
- Unite in the crusade against crime
- No compromise on democracy
- Ensuring a better quality of life
- Poverty report gives sobering figures
- The plight of the ‘ultra-poor’
- A day in the life of a premier – Matthew Phosa
- Matric results need improvement
- Developing the budget
- How to get the money in the first place
Among the issues identified in the ANC’s annual January 8 statement, presented to the nation last month by President Nelson Mandela, was the need to conclude the writing of the final constitution. This was described by the statement as a key component of the process of entrenching democracy in the country.
The last few weeks have seen a steady increase in the pace of constitution-making. Daily there are bilateral negotiations between parties, and sub-committee meetings on particular parts of the constitution. Many issues have been agreed upon. Some significant stumbling blocks still remain. The members of the constitutional assembly have until the beginning of May to finalise these issues. Simply put, its nearing crunch time for the constitution.
Yet some parties have responded to this urgency by seeking to ensnarl the process. Some of the minority parties have indicated that under no circumstances are they prepared to shift from their positions – that there is no room for compromise. Others are now coming up with new positions on several issues, almost two years after the process began. They want to enter into debate around issues which had already been finalised.
The constitution-making process was agreed upon by the CA, after careful consideration. It has not been a haphazard process. It has been a meticulous process, which has tried to canvass opinions from all over country (and the world) on the various constitutional process. Tons of documentation has been produced; thousands of meetings endured; and millions of rands spent. All this was intended to ensure that the final constitution was a quality document which would meet the needs of all South Africans, and which would enjoy their support.
To start throwing constitutional spanners into the works is counter-productive, and contrary to the spirit of the Constitutional Assembly. The ANC should not allow its constitutional vision to be undermined by these antics. It has a mandate from the people of South Africa, which it is duty-bound to fulfil.
If the constitution is not ready to be passed by 9 May, then the deadlock-breaking mechanisms prescribed by the interim constitution come into play. Ultimately, if no agreement could be reached, it would come down to a national referendum, where a 60 percent majority would be required to pass the new constitution. This is not a desirable situation, because although the ANC would undoubtedly win the majority it needed, it would delay the final completion of the constitution and it would cost the nation money. However, the cost of a referendum is minimal if compared to the potential costs for this country of a constitution which doesn’t fully embrace the ideals of democracy or address the needs of our people.
In the remaining weeks before the final constitution has to be passed, ANC structures and structures of the mass democratic movement need to be more informed, and make themselves more vocal on the democratic perspective of the new constitution. The message throughout is that the constitution cannot be written in the offices of parliament. It needs to be written on the streets, in the homes, in the schools and in the factories. The democratic movement needs to take the struggle for a democratic constitution to the people, and the people need to embrace it and take it forward.
More nation making
One cannot applaud an achievement like winning the African Cup of Nation too much. The Bafana Bafana must be saluted for their stunning victory over Tunisia to become the champions of Africa. It is an amazing achievement for a country which for so long was isolated from international competition, and in a sport which for just as long has been deprived of resources.
Perhaps even more remarkable than the victory itself, was the effect that it had on the people of South Africa. A country which made a name for itself globally for its racial polarisation, demonstrated through this tournament its acceptance of the principles of democracy and non-racialism. A country divided along so many different lines was able to find a common nationhood on a soccer field.
This says a lot about the progress made over the last two years. Yet it says even more about the progress that could potentially be made over the next ten – or fifty – years. This unity of purpose need not be restricted to sport. If South Africans can find common ground on a whole range of fundamental social, economic and political issues, then there is almost no limit to what can be achieved. As much as this provides an opportunity, it also poses a challenge. The ANC would do well to seize that challenge with both hands.
Chiefs must represent people
I am very curious to know about the final decision that will be taken by the government concerning chiefs versus local councillors. My opinion is that chiefs and their demarcation must be maintained. They must also stick to their role of looking at customs and traditions; to arbitrate civic cases and unite people; to witness his people at Magistrate Courts for ID purposes, weddings, deaths, kraal sites, court cases; and to maintain order and respect among communities.
But their term must be reviewed and made short, followed by annual general meetings so that they represent the people and not themselves. They must not be life headmen. They must not be chiefs by birth but by democracy from their constituency.
ANC Colosa Branch,
Bafana Bafana’s fine, thank you
I am upset at the arrogance shown by The Star newspaper in its attempt to get the name ‘Bafana Bafana’ changed by running a competition to find a new name.
Bafana Bafana has become an accepted and household name for our national soccer team and I see no reason for The Star to try and change it.
But the method adopted by The Star in its attempts to get the name changed are not in keeping with the democratic changes in our country. Somebody, or somebodies, are going to decide for us, by judging what the best entry is, the soccer loving fans in South Africa, what the new name for the Bafana Bafana is going to be. The name of the national soccer team can only be determined by the soccer fans as is the case with nicknames given to our soccer players. It is a spontaneous process which displays an affection and admiration for the players as individuals or the team as a whole. This cannot be achieved by an artificial process such as a competition. I think The Star just wants to sell more newspapers.
Rural and urban teachers should swop
On the education front it seems that the Deputy Minister [Renier Schoeman] is in Israel, the Minister is trying to consolidate his portfolio and SADTU is trying to prevent the dismissal of 45,000 teachers.
The stakeholders in education need to be more innovative and creative in solving all the problems. Would they consider moving teachers from the urban areas into the rural areas and visa versa. From my experience as a teacher, I noticed teachers in the urban areas tend to drink and gamble excessively. The drinking and gambling affects their performance in the classroom. Gambling occurs during school hours when some teachers analyse horse racing data and telephone the tote offices to place bets.
If you move some teachers from the rural areas to the urban areas; these teachers can teach their colleagues and pupils that from a distance the planet looks green and blue. It does not look like a brandy bottle with horses running round and round. They can make them environmentally aware and also sensitise and humanise urban dwellers.
The teachers from the urban areas can teach the rural dwellers about the information revolution – internet, reuters, CNN, BBC, e-mail and all the different laws on the information superhighway.
Mayibuye could be better
I read Mayibuye regularly – well, about every two months – and I am generally quite pleased by it. I am glad in particular that it has been re-launched. There was a time, after the elections, when there was very little direction for ANC branches and supporters. Mayibuye has helped to provide some direction.
However, I have some criticisms. Please accept that these are constructive suggestions, not an attempt to slate what is clearly quite hard work.
I think Mayibuye could be even better if you tried some of the following:
- Give more analysis of current events. I find that your analysis in each edition only picks up on a few of the key questions of the moment. There are major developments taking place in the country all the time. It would greatly empower activists if Mayibuye provided an ANC perspective on more of these.
- Become more of an organisational journal. There is not enough information on what the ANC itself is doing at all levels. We read in the mainstream press that an NEC has been held. But we rarely get any insight into what was discussed or decided. What are provinces, regions and branches doing?
- Make your style more accessible. The writing style is often quite convoluted or high brow. Mayibuye should acknowledge that english is a second (or third) language for many of its readers, and that the simpler things are written the greater the impact will be.
- Decentralise things a bit. There is too much of an emphasis on national issues, and where there is provincial or local news, it is generally restricted to Johannesburg or Gauteng. Why not get contributions from all over South Africa.
These are just a few ideas. Discard them if you wish. However, if you are interested in improving Mayibuye, I would humbly suggest that you consider them.
South African Tertiaries need their Alumni
It is well known by now that tertiary education is going through a period of immense change, with new demands being put upon it for new teaching and learning skills, new teaching media, more focused research, greater public accountability, wider student access and more emphasis on community reconstruction and development activities.
While these changes are being intergrated into planning processes, tertiary institutions are under immense pressure to maintain teaching and research standards. Once the visions, policies and implementation plans are in place, it all boils down to the need for increased resources, whether these be physical, human or financial – and finally distils out at the need for greater funding.
Yet at the same time, private sector donors are under so much pressure to allocate their resources across the whole range of community upliftment necessities. The government too has any number of priorities to attend to, reducing still further the slice of revenue available for tertiary education.
Thus when tertiary institutions need more funds than ever before, their funding base is steadily being eroded.
While it is true that in the Unite States tertiary instutions are not called upon to fulfil the same social reconstruction role as here in South Africa, there is still one major difference in their funding base which could, if followed here, make it possible for tertiaries to receive adequate funding to meet their obligations to society.
On average, in the US, over 80% of university funding comes from alumni, who regard it as their duty to give to their alma mater in return for the benefits that asccrue to them individually through the education they received.
Ths culture does not exist here – perhaps because of the paternalistic nature of our education system in the past, perhaps just because it wasn’t necessary. But if we are to grow tertiary instutions of stature, and if our young people are to inherit a viable economic society, we are somehow going to have to bring about a change in our country’s culture – from one of simply takng to one of giving where one has received. I would like to appeal to all alumni of all tertiary institutions: the next time you receive an appeal for funding, please bear in mind both the profound need of your alma mater for your support, and the benefits accrued to you through your education.
Mrs A de Villers
This letter has been edited for reasons of space – Editor.
A look at events which made news in January
The soul of Hintsa
A delegation of Eastern Cape traditional healers and chiefs commanded by a vision-inspired Chief Nicholas Gcaleka, who says South Africa can only be free from violence and corruption once the head of the late Xhosa warrior King Hintsa is returned from Britain, has left to conduct the search.
Gcaleka is the descendent of the former warrior king Hintsa. He also believes the violence and corruption plaguing the new democratic South Africa is because the head of Hintsa, taken by British soldiers, needs to be afforded a decent burial.
Lesotho’s King laid to rest
Lesotho’s King Moshoeshoe II died in a car accident mid-January. His burial was attended by scores of dignitaries and heads of states, including President Nelson Mandela.
Mandela praised Moshoeshoe for being instrumental in the Basotho nation’s struggle for the return of Lesotho to a true democracy and constitutional rule.
The deceased monarch was a direct descendant of King Moshoeshoe who in the Nineteenth century founded the Basotho nation from refugees fleeing the wars imposed by the Zulu king Shaka.
The untimely death of this powerful personality, who was twice deposed and returned to the throne, was described as a great loss to the Basotho nation, the people of South Africa and the continent as a whole.
Government to advance gender equity
The government will advance its gender equality programme in South Africa,through, among other things, the re-allocation of defence spending to programmes dedicated to economic empowerment of women.
Marking the implementation in South Africa of the United Nations Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination against Women recently, Deputy President Thabo Mbeki said a women’s status office would be established in the president’s office later this year.
Similar offices would be set up for the empowerment of the youth and the disabled. The structure and the budget for the office were under discussion and would be dealt with in the 1995-96 Budget.
Following the Beijing conference on women last year, the government of national unity had endorsed measures to advance gender equality. Work on the womens’ status office could start at the end of March.
Confident about schooling
Despite overcrowding, vandalism and budget constraints, education authorities have expressed confidence that 1996 will be a turning point in the drive for quality education for all.
Education minister Sibusiso Bengu has indicated that Model C schools will cease to exist, when school legislation is passed this year. The government, however, has not budgeted for additional costs required to run Model C schools in the new financial year.
In 1996 – the twentieth anniversary of the 1976 student uprising – vandalism is not the only obstacle facing the department of education in its campaign to provide quality education. “Overcrowding in schools is rife, 23,000 matric students failed last year and yet the budget has been cut, this means resources are inadequate,” Gauteng education MEC Mary Metcalfe said.
SADF funded Unita with smuggled ivory
The government appointed Kumleben Commission forwarded its report to the Attorney-Generals office on 19 January for possible prosecutions after it found that the former SADF was involved in large-scale ivory and rhino horn smuggling during the Angolan war. The money from the illegal trade was used to fund Unita during the Angolan civil war. “During the period from mid-1978 to 1986 the military intelligence division of the South African Defence Force participated in the transportation of ivory and rhino horns from Angola to South Africa,” Justice Mark Kumleben said at a press conference.
Taxpayer’s funds to IFP SPUs
KwaZulu/Natal auditor-general Chris Foster announced on Thursday 18 January that about R.6 million of taxpayers’ funds was spent illegally on IFP self-protection units during the 1993/94 and 1994/95 financial years.
The report severely embarrassed KwaZulu/Natal premier Frank Mdlalose, who told the provincial legislature last year that no public funds were used to pay unit members.
Foster said that his inquiry had established that the Mlaba camp near Ulundi, where members were trained, had been so badly abused that it could not be rehabilitated and would have to be dismantled at an additional cost of R2 million.
Arafat wins election victory
On January 21 it was announced that Yasser Arafat had won an estimated 89 per cent of the vote in the first Palestinian presidential elections ever held.
Arafat was given a resounding mandate to continue the peace process that is currently under way with Israel. At the time of the victory Arafat said “this is the most important moment for the future of the Palestinian people, and we hope that very soon we will have our independent state.”
Veteran ANC and SACP activist, Harold Wolpe, died on Saturday 20 January. Wolpe was director of the Education Policy Unit at the University of the Western Cape and chairperson of one of the task groups of the National Commission on Higher Education. Under his direction, the unit established an unrivalled reputation for policy research into higher education.
Wolpe was detained during the 1960 State of Emergency and was arrested with Nelson Mandela and others in 1963. Together with Arthur Goldreich, Abdullah Jassat and Mosie Moolah, Wolpe managed to escape from the Marshall Square police station, to Swaziland and then abroad.
Wolpe spent the next 28 years in exile before returning to South Africa in 1991. Wolpe was the founder editor of the Marxist journal Economy and Society, as well as the author of a widely-quoted paper called Capitalism and cheap labour power in South Africa .
Wolpe’s death has robbed South Africa of one of its leading academics and its sharpest minds.
The Congress of South African Students (Cosas) and South African Student Congress (Sasco) in Mpumalanga have declared 1996 the “Year of opening the doors of learning and culture for all”. Opening the doors of learning and culture is taken by the primary stakeholders in education as a campaign that is going to be characterised by mass action directed at those who want a delay in the implementation of the provincial Education and Policy Bill. It is the understanding of Sasco and Cosas that the bill contains principles of affirmative action and equality in education. The province calls upon its members, supporters and all stakeholders in education to join hands in support of the two weeks mass action.
The province is confident that after the mass action programme these detailed demands will be met: equity in the granting of subsidies; re-deployment of teachers to balance the teacher to pupil ratio; implementation of a national loan and bursary scheme; reopening of under- utilised schools; establishment of broad transformation forums; empowerment and recognition of school governing bodies (PTAs) and the admission of student in schools irrespective of race or religion.
The strides being taken towards the creation of one education system in the Eastern Cape remain one of the most satisfying achievements in the province. Given the process of transformation in the education system the matric pass rate was not unexpected. The matric pass rate will increase as everyone finds their feet in the process and stability is further entrenched.
With the allies in the education sector, the ANC in the province will continue to work for stability in eduction. The province is hoping to meet with students and teacher organisations soon while members continue to play a leading role in Parent Teacher Student Associations to ensure that all contribute to stability and better results in education. In this process the province hopes to engage the provincial department of education to make this year a very successful in education.
The ANC KwaZulu/Natal province held a Special Provincial General Council in January to map out the way for the Local Government Elections. While local and metro councils are busy demarcating wards the ANC has embarked on a process of ensuring that the nomination process for councillors is democratic and transparent.
The ANC in the province is concerned that there are areas targeted to be attacked with a view to intimidate people not to vote for ANC-nominated candidates. This threat of instability is also being used to ensure that the ANC won’t be able to contest elections in these areas as people would be massacred or potential candidates killed.
In the Northern Cape violence erupted in the Kimberley prison when prisoners complained about poor food and failure of warders to serve them food on time. The prisoners also demanded the resignation of one of the warders, whom they accused of ill treatment and rudeness.
A prison cell was set alight allegedly by the prisoners. Heavily armed white warders belonging to the Public Servants Association, who also started to strike, began with a revenge campaign against the prisoners whom they had beaten up badly. Eight prisoners were treated in hospital for injuries they sustained during the assault.
Prison authorities also barred the ANC and the media from entering the prison because they were afraid for the manner in which they were running the prison and treating the prisoners to be exposed.
The Northern Province executive council held a bosberaad in January. Two of the most pertinent issues under discussion were the bloated public service inherited from the former Venda, Lebowa and Gazankulu bantustan administrations – which absorb almost ninety percent of the provincial annual budget – and the enormous problems encountered by the education department.
At the end of February, approximately 4,200 public servants will be retrenched in what the ANC Provincial Executive Committee endorsed as a bold move designed to unlock much needed resources for the RDP. A further 5,000 will be retrenched at a later stage, in line with the plan by the MEC for economic affairs, commerce and industry to empower the unemployed through the Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises programme.
Gauteng held a constitutional conference in January. Their deliberations were a preparatory exercise in the constitution finalisation process. The culmination of this exercise shall be a national process where the rest of the provinces shall be represented. It is at this level that the views of alliance structures will be tested against those of other delegates, to arrive at a single alliance constitutional position. It is around such a national alliance position that the ANC will rally, against the positions of its opponents in the Constitutional Assembly.
The ANC in the Free State held a one day constitutional workshop. The main objective of the workshop was to discuss issues and make inputs to the final drafting of the new constitution. There were five commissions which dealt specifically with like territory of the republic, national symbols, language and supremacy of the constitution.
Last December US Vice President Al Gore visited South Africa. He brought with him a large security contingent, 25 vehicles in Gauteng, 15 in Cape Town. In both centres, the party caused major traffic jams. Highway ramps were sealed off until Gore’s party had passed.
President Mandela regularly travels the same routes without all of this hoopla. In Cape Town, Gore succeeded in especially annoying locals. Following an early arrival, the Gore convoy crept along at 25 km/h to kill time, heedless of the chaos it was causing.
All of this provoked the Democratic Party, usually a fawning admirer of all things made in the USA, to produce its most anti-imperialist statement to date.
“They have been making all sorts of ridiculous demands and ordering our officials around. They behave as though they are some sort of colonial overlords,” said DP MP Douglas Gibson.
Masters of zig-zag
Umrabulo has often remarked that the PAC has always only been clear about one thing – it wants to oppose the ANC. But the PAC has never been quite sure whether this opposition is five degrees to the right, or five degrees to the left of the ANC. When it was launched in the late 1950s, one of the grounds was that the Freedom Charter was “too radical”, that the clause demanding that wealth should be shared “was communistic”.
Later, the PAC, or factions of it, flirted with Maoism, and criticised the ‘reformism’ of the ANC.
When the ANC suspended the armed struggle in late 1990, the PAC thought it saw a gap and announced it would “continue the armed struggle”. Given the fact that the PAC had never mounted much of an armed struggle, Joe Slovo jokingly described the PAC statement as “an announcement to suspend a 30 year suspension of the armed struggle”.
More recently the PAC has flirted on the right with the IFP and even the NP.
Given this endless opportunistic zig-zagging, it is hardly surprising that the PAC is now in a near terminal condition. Two general secretaries in a row have resigned, and in the middle of the crisis its president left for an overseas trip. One unnamed source, quoted in a local newspaper, said that Clarence Makwetu was running the PAC “like a stokvel”.
Another US visitor
When African-American leader Louis Farrakhan decided to stop off in South Africa on his African tour, there were a great deal of uncertainty on how to receive him. While most South Africans identify closely with the struggles of black Americans, they were generally unsure what to do about a leader who has been accused, among other things, of sexism, racism and religious intolerance.
In true Madiba style, the president took the lead in this matter. He gave Farrakhan a cordial, if cautious, reception. Yet while the president knew what to do, his spokesperson, Parks Mankahlana, seemed a bit uncertain.
To notify the media of the details of Mandela’s meeting with Farrakhan, Mankahlana sent out a number of press alerts by pager. Yet each time he did so, he gave a different address in Houghton. Perhaps he was trying to throw Farrakhan’s detractors off the scent. Maybe he was still not sure he wanted the media at the meeting. Maybe he was just confused.
In the last message he sent out, in which he gave the correct address, he referred to Farrakhan – leader of the Nation of Islam – as “Rev Louis Farrakhan”.
Now many people say that Farrakhan is no Martin Luther King. Yet whatever one’s feelings are about Farrakhan, one thing’s for sure: he’s certainly no Reverend.
Quote of the month
“You can kill the crow that announces the rising of the dawn, but you can’t prevent the dawn from rising.”
Polisario leader Mohammed Sidati, on the ongoing struggle of the Saharawi people for self-determination.
The ANC and ‘normal politics’
In the ANC we are often bombarded from outside with advice on restructuring ourselves. We are told that “now that the liberation struggle is over” the ANC must become “a normal political party”.
In its assessment of the April 1994 elections, for instance, Business Day consoled itself in the face of a major ANC victory with the argument that: “Eventually the ANC will need to develop a role as a broadly popular party of the centre…This may eventually cost the party a radical wing…” In similar vein, others have said that it is “inevitable” that the ANC will “sooner rather than later” break up into its component parts – “liberal, black nationalist, social democratic, communist, etc.”
In this instalment of our series on political transitions, we look at the ANC’s organisational and ideological traditions and compare these with other global tendencies. Where are we going as an organisation?
That the ANC has to, and is, adapting to a new domestic and international situation is obvious. We have emerged from decades of illegality, and from a struggle that was first and foremost oppositional. We are now a ruling party with governmental responsibilities. We are committed to testing our own support in regular multi-party elections. To govern and to contest elections has clearly required organisational adaptation.
Our strategic emphasis has shifted from opposition to reconstruction, development, democratic transformation and nation building. In noting all of this, we must also resist the tendency to erect a ‘chinese wall’ between our past and present. Our new tasks do not exclude, for instance, the need to mobilise opposition to anti-democratic forces, or to mobilise popular forces for development. Even at the height of our anti-apartheid struggle, we were nation building.
Nevertheless, the challenges we confront have changed in many ways. Any living organisation has to adapt to new realities. But what adaptations should we make?
‘Normal political democracy’
In much of the local commentary on this question a number of very simplistic assumptions are made. It is assumed that there is something called ‘normal political democracy’. What is presented as a normal political democracy is usually an idealised, and therefore very distorted version, of party politics in Britain, or the US, or Germany.
Normal political democracy supposedly exists in an electoral system in which there are two big electoral parties – one of the ‘centre left’ and the other of the ‘centre right’. The job of these parties is to win elections, and to win elections they usually ‘compete for the centre’. This means that they are often hard to distinguish from each other. Each one steals the others slogans. This is supposed to be normal.
South Africa, we are told, was an abnormal society. Now it is a normal society, and so it must develop a ‘normal’ political democracy. We in the ANC are now supposed to follow this script.
The fact that things are not quite turning out this way is, incidentally, one reason why there is panic in some quarters. The ANC’s electoral majorities are supposed to be too large, and the crumbling of our opponents ‘a blow against democracy’.
Obviously the majority of South Africa’s people haven’t heard that the script calls for two large parties, not one. Our uninvited advisers presumably now expect us, in the name of democracy, to encourage half our supporters to vote for a party not of their choice.
Just how normal is ‘normal’?
Unfortunately for its proponents, this model of ‘normal democracy’ does not correspond so neatly to reality. At the very moment that we are being told to adopt this model in South Africa, the model itself is under strain in the very heartlands of ‘liberal democracy’.
In at least two of the world’s major countries, Italy and Japan, the old systems dominated by two-parties alternating in government has produced deep-seated corruption, stultification, and, in recent years considerable constitutional instability.
In many western democracies popular involvement in party politics has declined dramatically. In the Netherlands only three percent of citizens are now actually members of political parties. In Britain the memberships of the main parties are now less than a third of what they were in the 1950s, and fewer than five percent of their members are under 26. In many western democracies voter participation is generally very low, notably in the United States.
In many of these countries there is a profound popular sense of the irrelevance of ‘normal party politics’. In some cases this has given rise to business leaders, like Berlusconi and Perot, entering politics and getting substantial support by presenting themselves as untainted by ‘normal party politics’.
In noting these realities, we are not arguing against multi-party electoral democracy. But all the evidence does suggest that there is not some simple ideal model that we should now adopt in South Africa.
Multi-party democracy in the third world
As we have noted in earlier instalments, there has been a generally welcome shift to multi-party democracy in many third world countries over the last two decades. But this shift has not always brought about stable democratic institutions, let alone real democratic participation for ordinary people.
In societies where national institutions have been undermined by multinationals and internal corruption, and in which structural adjustment programmes have weakened the state and the very fabric of society, political parties often become platforms for competing regional, ethnic or other sectarian elites.
We can see similar tendencies in some of the former Soviet bloc countries (42 parties contested the December Russian elections). Not to mention ex-Yugoslavia, where a one-party system has not exactly been replaced by a thriving democracy.
In short, the same point needs to be repeated: multi-party democracy is an aspect but not the totality of democracy. The formal, constitutional existence of a multi-party electoral system is no guarantee of effective democratic participation and empowerment of the majority of people.
The decline in levels of active popular participation in party politics in many western democracies does not necessarily mean that citizens in these countries are inactive politically. Since the late 1960s there has been a powerful emergence of broad social movements – peace, ecological, youth and student, women, minority and other movements. These have often interacted with, and to some extent invigorated older social movements like trade unions.
Movements like these have unleashed widespread political activism. At times this kind of activism has linked directly with party politics. But at other times it has been self-consciously outside of, if not absolutely disenchanted, with ‘normal party’ politics. Much of this social movement politics is very pluralistic, single issue centred and based on networks between a wide range of self-organised local groups.
This open-ended organisational approach has had many advantages for mobilisation and political campaigning. We need simply cite the example of the anti-apartheid solidarity movements of the 1970s and 80s. But there are also limitations, including the difficulty of mounting a disciplined electoral campaign – let alone governing a country – with this kind of more or less loose network.
Nevertheless, against the background of the relative stagnation of ‘normal’ party politics, and a relative dynamism of social movements, progressive forces in many societies have been experimenting with new organisational and institutional approaches. In many western European democracies there are now ‘green left’ formations that contest elections, with varying success, but which also attempt to preserve and learn from the grassroots, mobilisational capacity of the social movements.
There are a number of progressive parties that encourage different official platforms or tendencies within their ranks. These tendencies often have their own newspapers and campaigns. They put up their own lists of candidates at party congresses.
In at least two west European countries, established electoral parties, seeking to learn from social movement politics, have been experimenting with people’s forums, very similar to those used by the ANC in our 1994 elections campaign.
In third world countries there have also been similar attempts to build electoral parties out of a diversity of political tendencies or social movements. A well known example is the Brazilian Workers Party (PT), whose leader, Lula, came close to winning presidential elections a few years ago. The PT has extensive experience of local and metro governance. There are a number of other examples in Latin America.
Viewed against this international background, it should be clear that there is no need for the ANC to have a desperate inferiority complex about our ‘backwardness’ or our ‘broad church’ features. It is not as though we have now quickly to grow up, and become a ‘normal’ parliamentary party. It is not as though we have now to make the choice of whether we are Democratic or Republican, Social or Christian Democratic.
We have grown out of a rich organisational experience. From its very beginnings the ANC has always grappled with the creative tension between unity and difference. Our organisational experience includes an historically unprecedented 70 year overlapping alliance with a communist party. We have also emerged out of the 1950s alliance of racially separate congress movements. Through most of our history, and down to the present, there have been powerful reciprocal influences between the ANC and successive trade union formations.
From the mid-1970s a range of new social movements emerged in our country, collectively known as the mass democratic movement, and again the political and organisational culture of the ANC influenced and was influenced by these formations.
In the new period of governance and of electoral politics it is essential that we do not simply throw away our rich organisational experience in the name of pursuing some abstract model of ‘normality’. In many ways, learning flexibly from our own organisational experience can equip the ANC to be a truly pioneering political formation in the decades to come.
The critical question is not how to apply some imported (and largely mythical) organisational model. The real questions are: What are the key challenges facing our country? How do we best organise ourselves to meet these challenges? Learning from other societies, provided we make a real and not simply superficial effort to understand them, can without doubt help us to understand ourselves.
South Africa has emerged the all-round winner from the CAF African Cup of Nations soccer competition. And not only on the field, writes Steyn Speed.
The victory of the Bafana Bafana in the African Cup of Nations was a momentous achievement for South African soccer. Yet the victory, and the tournament itself, has also had a great effect on South Africa’s relations with the rest of the continent.
The South African soccer team scored a 2-0 win over Tunisia in the final of the continent-wide tournament on Saturday 3 February at FNB stadium in Johannesburg. Substitute striker Mark Williams netted the two crucial goals well into the second half within minutes of each other. The second goal was the final straw for a Tunisia that had been hard-pressed throughout the match. Unable to penetrate the South African defence on their occasional run forward, Tunisia struggled to stave off the South African attack.
South Africa advanced through to the final in a series of hard-won matches, losing only to Egypt in the first round. The South African teams performance won the acclaim of most observers, and several players caught the eye of major football clubs around the globe. The victory was widely viewed as the culmination of a revival of South African soccer over the past few years. The role of national coach Clive Barker in this process has been widely applauded.
Yet even if South Africa had not won, the African Cup of Nations would have been significant for this country. By holding the competition in South Africa, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) opened the South African public to the continent of Africa. Despite close relations between organisations like the ANC and several African countries during it years in exile, South Africa remained for several decades largely cut off from the rest of the continent. After the April 1994 elections, formal diplomatic relations were re-established. South Africa was admitted to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the Southern African Development Committee (SADC). Trade and economic cooperation between South Africa and other African countries has been on the increase, particularly within southern Africa.
However, it has taken an event like the CAF cup to ‘re-admit’ ordinary South Africans back into Africa. The interest shown by South Africans in the competition, has provided a better sense among people of the nature of the continent of which South Africa is part, but from which it has long been isolated. This competition will no doubt have a positive effect on the future of South Africa in Africa. While the competition is an indication that normality has been restored to South Africa’s relations with other African countries, it is also an incentive to further political, cultural, social and economic exchange and cooperation.
If the competition performed wonders for South Africa’s foreign relations, it had an equally positive effect on relations inside the country. South Africa’s participation in international sporting events since April 1994 has been viewed as an opportunity to develop a sense of a common nationhood and patriotism. The South African rugby team went into the Rugby World Cup under the slogan: “One Team, One Country”. It was a theme which the media was keen to pick up on. President Nelson Mandela took this patriotic sporting spirit further, by wearing a South African rugby jersey to the final.
Similarly, when the South African cricket team took on England in a test series, the theme was national unity. At traditionally ‘white’ sporting events, the old South African flag was quickly replaced by the new flag. If public opinion could be measured by the number of flags at a rugby match, South Africa’s new democracy has overwhelming support.
The African Cup of Nations was yet another example of South Africans, divided across race, class and political allegiance, uniting behind the national team. In a sense, however, the CAF cup was a test of the commitment of white South Africans to the new democracy. South African sport is only slowly beginning to become deracialised. Some sports are still considered largely ‘white’ and others largely ‘black’, by in terms of who plays them and in terms of who watches them. ‘White’ sports like cricket and rugby had been put through the ‘one nation’ test, and had received support from all South Africans.
Now it was the turn of a ‘black’ sport. Like rugby and cricket, soccer proved to be a very good vehicle for bringing together all sorts of South Africans. Comments overhead at many of the matches, like “I’ve never seen so many whites at a soccer match”, are an indication of the extent to which the tournament captured the imagination of all South Africans. The attendance at the matches of the rugby and cricket squads were significant symbolic gestures, which boosted the national morale.
As ANC NEC member Pallo Jordan commented at the re-launch of SABC television, it is “feel good” time in South Africa. And there’s a lot to feel good about. South Africa proved its mettle as a soccer playing nation; it strengthened its ties to the rest of the continent; and it united its people around a common national goal. The challenge now is to translate that patriotism into a united national movement for reconstruction, development and nation-building.
Promoting the objectives of the RDP should be the key function of state assets, argues the SACP Political Bureau in the first of a series of articles on the restructuring debate.
At the beginning of December last year, deputy president Thabo Mbeki announced government’s negotiating positions on restructuring Telkom and the state-owned transport sector. Most of the media has since buried the whole issue in a thick fog. It has been virtually impossible to understand what is going on.
The government’s plans are presented in the media as simple ‘privatisation’. Cosatu is supposed to be rejecting ‘all restructuring’. Some journalists have said the SACP supports the government against Cosatu. Others have claimed the exact opposite, saying the SACP and Cosatu stand together against the ANC. According to these latter reports “the ANC government must now break with mindless left-wing radicals in the Party and unions”.
Restructuring does not have to mean privatisation
For many years, the SACP, Cosatu and the ANC have argued that the large public sector built up during the apartheid years has to be restructured.
Eskom, Telkom and other state corporations have been used to foster the interests of the white minority. They have provided sheltered employment and artisanal training for white workers. They have served as a nursery school for aspiring white entrepreneurs. The services they have provided were directed to the white suburbs and the industrial needs of apartheid capitalism.
For us, restructuring has always meant transforming the public sector to meet the interests of the majority. No-one in the alliance has ever argued against restructuring. The critical question is: What KIND of restructuring?
In the past five years there has been a wide-ranging debate within our alliance over how to transform the public sector. At times, some within our broad movement have been influenced by views that the SACP does not accept:
- ‘Selling the family silver’. Some have argued that we need to sell off some or most of the public sector to “raise money for the RDP”. They argue that the present public sector is bloated and inefficient, and that it is a financial burden on our new democratic government. The SACP has described this argument as a call to sell the roof to pay the rent.
- ‘The Malaysian route’. Other comrades have also tended to present restructuring as a selling-off exercise. But in this case the emphasis is on “black economic empowerment” – selling state assets to help a previously disadvantaged, aspirant black bourgeoisie.
It is very important that these views do not become dominant views within our ANC-led alliance. Indeed, Mbeki’s announcement in December explicitly rejected the family silver approach. As for “black economic empowerment”, we need to support the broad-based economic empowerment of the great majority, and not just the narrow ’empowerment’ of a few. Once more, this was the government announcement’s basic approach.
Affordable, good quality services for all
The SACP and Cosatu have consistently argued that the main function of state owned enterprises is to drive the RDP process. Central in this role is the provision of affordable, good quality services to all South Africans. Our starting point is social needs and not profits. Privatising Eskom or Telkom will mean that electricity or telephones will be provided according to what is profitable, not what people desperately need.
This does not mean that the private sector has no role in the RDP. Overcoming poverty, creating jobs, providing housing – these are not the sole concern of an overburdened state, while we allow the private sector to conduct business as usual.
Part of the role of the public sector is to spearhead a growth and development process that draws in private sector resources towards our priorities. On its own, the market will never do this.
This developmental (as opposed to welfarist) approach to the public sector means that we may need to look at strategic partnerships with the private sector.
What did the GNU say?
Thabo Mbeki’s announcement agreed with all of the above. It approached the question of restructuring from the perspective of the RDP and the provision of services. Contrary to many press reports, the GNU position actually calls for the basic retention of Telkom, Transnet, SAA, etc. in public hands, while allowing for some minority strategic partnerships with private companies to bring in technology, capital or other advantages. For example, SAA could cooperate with one or more international airlines on routes and schedules.
The SACP has welcomed this basic, developmental starting point. We see in it a rejection of mindless privatisation. We also welcome Mbeki’s very clear statement that the positions were a point of departure for negotiations, in particular with labour.
Why did Cosatu object?
Cosatu does not oppose restructuring. But it has had several concerns with the GNU announcement:
- The GNU announcement leapfrogged over ongoing alliance discussions.
- The largely white management in some of the key parastatals is proceeding unilaterally with major restructuring, regardless of what our comrades in government intend.
- The GNU announcement made proposals, for instance, on restructuring Telkom without first developing an overall national telecommunications policy. Among other things, this has meant that the Telkom proposals do not take into account other major telecommunications resources in public hands – Transtel (a subsidiary of Transnet), Eskom and the SANDF.
- There are a number of specific proposals that COSATU does not accept.
For instance, the GNU proposals to sell off some smaller corporations.
Job creation is one of the central objectives of the RDP. There is concern in Cosatu and the SACP that the restructuring process is not accompanied with enough clarity on a job creation strategy.
This is not to say that every job in the public sector can be retained at any price. A simple defensive struggle of this kind, without a clear longer term job creation vision, will be self-defeating. On the other hand, there is no way that labour, or our country at large, can accept major retrenchments on the basis of some vague promises about future growth and jobs.
A much clearer, multi-pronged and systematic plan for job creation must be negotiated. This is a collective responsibility throughout the alliance.
What is happening now?
Much of the media has, of course, presented the debate and the worker actions by Cosatu and affiliates as “the end of the alliance”. This is their usual wishful thinking.
More recently, as it has become obvious that the alliance is not about to split, the same media has accused the ANC-led government of “caving into Cosatu and its communist allies”.
Yes, there have been real debates, real disagreements and real concerns. But over the last weeks, in ongoing bilaterals between government and labour, a deepening strategic consensus is being consolidated.
The SACP will play its role in struggling for a clear strategic consensus within our alliance. That consensus must be based on restructuring state assets to ensure that we have a dynamic public sector capable of spearheading the RDP.
In the forthcoming months, MAYIBUYE will be monitoring developments on the restructuring of state assets and providing a number of views from within the democratic movement on this issue.
Legislation currently before parliament will ensure rights and security for South Africa’s labour tenants, writes Sobantu Xayiya.
The plight of labour tenants came under the spotlight earlier this month when the land affairs minister Derek Hanekom introduced the second reading debate of the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Bill in parliament.
To illustrate the desperate situation faced daily by labour tenants Hanekom quoted a story which appeared in the New York Times:
“First the police went to the local school and took the children from their classrooms. Then they stood by as a crew tossed the Khulu family’s meagre belongings into a truck and drove off with them.
“After that the white landowner, Andries Scheepers, hitched his tractor to a chain he had strung around the family’s mud and cow-dung huts and pulled them down…”
Hanekom said the bill was a response to situations like these: “It is an attempt to extend basic human rights, protection under the law and access to resources to one of the most oppressed groupings in South Africa.”
Explaining the central objective of the bill, Hanekom said the labour tenants bill addressed a legacy of particularly harsh oppression experienced by sections of the rural community known as labour tenants.
“Labour tenancy is a semi-feudal relationship between a landowner and a tenant, in terms of which the labour tenant is obliged to provide labour in exchange for the right to occupy and use a portion of farming land.”
“In its classic form labour tenancy does not involve any cash wages at all,” he said. However, as a result of the system evolving over the years, many variants and numerous forms of contract existed.
Labour tenancy was a wide-spread phenomenon for the first half of this century. However, between 1966 and 1980, the system was outlawed district by district, and replaced by the system of wage labour.
In parts of the country, notably in Mpumalanga and the northern parts of KwaZulu/Natal, the system continued to exist outside of the law.
According to Hanekom it was this “twilight existence” and the lack of any regulation of the terms of the contracts that led the labour tenants’ relationship with the landowners to be highly exploitative.
“Labour tenants have no protection under the law and are vulnerable to arbitrary termination of agreements, evictions and to human rights abuse,” he said.
Hanekom said his department, in response to the crisis created by the evictions, had initiated the establishment at grassroots level of local forums to deal with evictions.
Despite these initiatives, legislative intervention was seen as a critical element of a permanent solution to the problem. Hanekom said the bill regularises and regulates the terms of contracts which the landowners themselves have already entered into. “It also provides a legal remedy for landowners in situations of conflict,” he said.
“It will also open the way for the benefits of the national land reform programme to be extended to those who are arguably the most deserving and obvious beneficiaries of this programme.
“The bill is a redistributative measure that extends the Land Redistribution Programme’s Land Acquisition and Settlement Subsidy to labour tenants wishing to acquire land,” Hanekom said.
Through the bill tenants would be able to acquire a subsidy to purchase land on which they already live and farm, or acquire alternative land for residential and productive purpose.
Land Affairs Portfolio Committee chairperson Patekile Holomisa said the bill was a practical step towards the implementation of the stated policies of the government on the restoration of land rights to the natives of the country.
Holomisa said labour tenants had always regarded themselves as being fully entitled to use the land in question. “They have nowhere else to go. The land they occupy is the only land they can call home,” he said.
He said the bill would go some way towards the implementation of the president’s policy of national reconciliation. “We appeal to the white farming communities and their representatives in this house, self appointed or otherwise, to learn to know that this is a two-way process,” Holomisa said.
Although not flawless, the labour tenants bill goes a long way to addressing the problems of labour tenants, argues Nomfundo Luphondwana.
The publication of the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Bill in June 1995 and its subsequent passage through parliament has sparked mixed reactions.
In strict terms, labour tenancy is a semi-feudal relationship between a landowner and a tenant which obliges the tenant to provide free or virtually free labour to the landowner in exchange for the right to occupy and use a portion of the landowner’s land.
For some blacks who were dispossessed through apartheid, labour tenancy was used as the only practical mechanism for acquiring land.
The system was outlawed by the Bantu Laws Amendment Act of 1964. Nevertheless it has survived, mainly in KwaZulu/Natal and Mpumalanga.
As there was no law governing the system of labour tenancy, labour tenants were left at the mercy of the farmer. In certain parts of the country, a farmer has an almost God-like status and has the power to evict, impound livestock and destroy his tenants possessions, if they please.
The present power imbalances between farmers and labour tenants is based on centuries of discriminatory laws which have systematically prevented blacks from entering into ordinary contractual relations of sale and lease.
It is this that gave rise to the current abuses of power and unilateral actions by farmers marked by arbitrary evictions and, sometimes, the harassment of labour tenant families. As labour tenants have never earned wages, most of their capital and worldly possessions are bound up in their homesteads and in their livestock.
Thus, if evicted, they lose all their assets the family may have built up over the years. In such an event, they are forced to settle in transit camps – some sort of rural township – with nothing to sustain them.
The publication of the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Bill has been welcomed by organisations like the National Land Committee. Although not flawless, it goes a long way in addressing the problems of labour tenants.
Unfortunately, the passing of the bill by parliament has stirred negative reaction from certain farmer organisations and political parties.
The National Land Committee supports the bill because it aims, among other things, to:
- change the power imbalances between farmers and labour tenants;
- protect labour tenants from arbitrary evictions;
- give labour tenants rights to land and begin to provide security of tenure of the land;
- make it possible for labour tenants to acquire land.
It is not surprising that some organisations affiliated to the South African Agricultural Union (SAAU), as well as some political parties, were opposed to the passing of the bill. However, some SAAU affiliates were among the parties who were consulted and drawn into the process of amending the contents of the bill that they now vehemently oppose.
The bill is welcome, but has the following gaps that need to be addressed:
- It excludes long-term first generation labour tenants, which is potentially a large number of the labour tenants who qualify.
- The bill merely gives labour tenants a provisional right to land. The full right will depend on whether government has sufficient subsidy to buy the land.
Another area of concern relates mainly to the practical implementation of the bill. In this regard, a call is specifically made to the ministries of justice and safety and security to ensure that magistrates and police officers are thoroughly briefed.
The implementation of the bill needs to be monitored and it is imperative for every stakeholder to be involved to ensure that proper implementation takes place.
Nomfundo Luphondwana is media officer of the National Land Committee.
Revival and reconstruction are the buzz words in the ANC in Mpumalanga, Mziwakhe Hlangani discovered on a recent visit to the province.
The ANC in Mpumalanga has launched a significant revival programme of all its local, regional and provincial structures after the successful local government elections, said ANC provincial secretary Solly Zwane.
The programme stresses the need to assist ANC councillors in the local government to enable them to contribute in the building of the ANC at local level.
Empowering councillors and building ANC branches are intertwined in the process of building the organisation, he said. High on the list of priorities was to ensure ANC branches and councillors were jointly able to deal with their localities in terms of delivery of economic and development projects.
“For us to guarantee full blast delivery from mid-year to early next year, a series of workshops are being conducted in training councillors. With regard to building ANC branches, another programme of empowering ANC regional executive committees has been finalised.
“The committees will impact greatly on the branch revitalisation process, and assist provincial executives in effecting provincial programmes, since most provincial members were deployed in government,” he said.
Out of a total of 298 branches in the province, 120 are fully-fledged functional branches, with sizeable numbers of members and branch executives. At least 150 are interim branches, also with sizeable membership, but not yet functional branches in terms of the provincial constitution requirements.
“We are still struggling with almost 20 remaining branches to reach the interim stage. There is no official structure in such branches. It’s only where one can find staunch supporters and activists, involved in movement activities in certain areas,” he said.
With regard to restructuring regional structures in terms of constitutional demarcation processes, only six regions had been set up. A further two regional offices might be launched before the end of February.
The ANC was also seriously looking into the problem of lack of experience among most of its councillors. “There was a situation where some councillors were seen to behave as if they were employed by the town clerk or the town secretary. They would beg in whatever they were doing, and he would shout at them as if they were young boys, since they were not empowered,” he said.
Zwane stressed the need to build capacity within those structures, while intensifying preparations for the 1999 elections: “We cannot start tomorrow. We must start now to be certain of another landslide victory in 1999. We need to emphasise one key point that while building the ANC at the branch level, coordination of the activities of councillors and branches, delivery must also feature, significantly.”
He admitted internal problems, like lack of skills, lack of direction and pursuing individual interests, were the cause of inter-organisational strife. This problem had to be tackled first at the local level.
On tripartite alliance relationships, Zwane pointed out the bond was further bolstered by the alliance’s 1994 year-end summit. It is also a start in anticipation of the 1999 elections.
Zwane conceded that participation in the alliance level was weak in the past. Citing the Congress of South African Trade Unions as an example, he said it had remained strong at organisational level, but had been passive in terms of participating at an alliance level. The same applied to the SACP which had had no visible structures in the past.
He was convinced the alliance formations were in a sound position now to be able to move together as a unit in strategising successful ANC campaigns.
In coordinating organisational activities between ANC structures in government and at the organisational level, he acknowledged that confusion had emerged at first: “We were not sure as the movement whether we were making any input in the governance. At times, it seemed the ANC government was leading the party.”
Through sound leadership and skilful planning, such problems were now things of the past. A policy unit structure has been set up to coordinate decision making in the provincial legislature and the organisation.
The unit is composed of the movement and ANC members of the legislature. It has made strides in ensuring the tiers of communication are very clear, he said.
ANC leadership was involved in brainstorming and contributing to the party’s legislature caucuses in matters of governance.
Even in the national assembly, there were provincial executive members engaged in the systemic dissemination of information processes between the province and the senate to ensure coordination of our work.
Zwane said there had been a cause for concern for the organisation by the upsurge of community conflicts due to demarcation in some former homelands, culminating in some communities instituting legal action.
“The movement encountered problems, among others with the former KwaNdebele which at first was incorporated under the Northern Transvaal province. It was declared an affected area and incorporated into Mpumalanga at the World Trade Centre negotiations on demarcation,” he said.
After the elections communities sought to be included under Gauteng.
Communities expressed different views, with 50 percent wishing to remain in Mpumalanga. There was an upsurge of serious conflicts, though it was resolved recently at a conference in December. It was agreed that the area remain in the southern region of Mpumalanga.
Because of a number of problems and different views in that area, it was resolved a committee on demarcation at national level, headed by deputy president Thabo Mbeki and including the ANC provincial executive committee should look into the matter jointly with the regional executive committee. Positions taken at that meeting would be binding. It was foreseen that a number of serious and disastrous implications, including budgetary distribution, would emerge if the area relocated to Gauteng.
A number of chiefs located within that region would force Gauteng to form a house of traditional leaders. And that some of the chiefs from KwaZulu/Natal would like to be included, claiming their subjects in Gauteng. The same would apply in the Eastern Cape and other regions including Venda, Lebowa and former Bophuthatswana. Gauteng was already inundated with letters from some chiefs who sought representations in the Gauteng legislature, he said.
Other demarcation confrontations included areas like Bushbuckridge. Though it created serious tensions with a section of the Northern Province, it was resolved that the areas be relinquished to Mpumalanga, after the areas voted in favour of going back to Mpumalanga. Other areas of dispute include Groblersdal, Mabuareleng, Tetema and Tweefontein magisterial areas.
“Now that is a serious problem we are sitting with at the moment, which involves legal battles. There are areas which could not engage in the local government elections because of the demarcation problem. I am facilitating meetings with the national committee dealing with demarcation, together with the Northern Province. The issue now involves the NP, PAC, Freedom Front and right wingers located in some of these areas,” he said.
Zwane said the preoccupation of experienced ANC leadership with national, provincial and local government, was normal and healthy in one way. He said this assisted the movement to identify “certain loopholes”, where commitments of certain individuals were easily uncovered.
“That is why we are trying to coordinate our activities from local, region, provincial and national level so that we have a leadership understanding policies of the movement.
Zwane said such predicaments had been able to take the movement forward. In relation to RDP delivery , he was confident the province had moved a bit further than other provinces. “With three categories of communities – rural, urban and farming communities – it has been very clear that people’s urgent priority is water. There are a number projects being addressed. Presently four big dam projects were underway,” he said.
While there has always been a housing and electricity crisis in the urban areas, two-thirds of the country’s housing projects have been in Mpumalanga.
In the farms there has been a serious problem of eviction. The question of land had caused serious tensions between farmers and tenants living in farms. The ANC had managed to quell the conflict situation in those areas, he said.
Farmworkers have demand their position be clarified, since some were evicted from the farms where they worked or which belonged to their ancestors. “It is one of the priorities we are trying to address as a province. We then have other priorities in the rural areas beside water. Electricity, housing and upgrading of roads is another challenge for us to address,” he said.
“It is fair to claim we managed to cover almost all the priorities which we set for ourselves, although this is an ongoing process. Our strategy was for the premier to go to all respective areas to find out their exact needs. Like in the agricultural sector a number of black farmers sidelined in the past, without resources but skilled and capable, were identified. The present government has taken responsibility and in the main we are succeeding,” he said.
Zwane said tensions existed between traditional chiefs and civic organisations before the 1994 elections. The ANC mediated in a number of these crises, which might have resulted from insecurity among certain chiefs on the role of civic organisations. “A good understanding exists between them as they are certain of their role. But some maintain that a line must be drawn between civics’ and chiefs’ status,” he said.
This is the year to entrench democracy and to unite for peace and development, according to the January 8 statement. Steyn Speed reports.
South Africa needs a new patriotism which should inspire and motivate the majority of our people to unite around a common perspective: the building of a new and winning nation.
So said President Nelson Mandela, delivering the ANC’s annual January 8 statement at a rally in Carletonville in early January. The statement, in which the ANC National Executive Committee outline their goals for the year, is released each year to coincide with anniversary of the ANC’s formation in 1912.
Along with this new patriotism, the statement said, several practical issues needed to be addressed. Chief among these was the need to confront the legacy of apartheid: “Millions of our people are victims of abject poverty. The overwhelming majority among these are black. Their life condition is described by joblessness, homelessness, landlessness and no access to education, health and opportunities for self-advancement.”
“This situation will not correct itself. Both the public and private sectors will have to make their contribution to expedite the process of tangible and sustained progress away from this unacceptable situation,” it said.
To correct the situation the government needed to take steps to speed up economic growth and development. It needed also to increase the rate of investment in social infrastructure like housing, communication, education, health water and sanitation. Efforts also needed to be made to open up the economy to allow for the growth of small business, to increase competitiveness and to create jobs. Crime was identified as a stumbling block to progress. Effective ways of curbing crime were identified as a priority.
“The illegitimacy of the apartheid system and the lawlessness and moral bankruptcy of white minority rule has created for us a crisis of ethics,” Mandela said.
“The erstwhile ruling group has infused our society with a culture of rapacity which is informed by the heartless concept of each one for himself or herself and the devil takes the hindmost. Out of this terrible world, which feeds and nurtures criminal behaviour, have emerged, ugly and venomous:
- scant respect for human life and the dignity of the individual;
- pervasive corruption affecting both the mighty and the lowly;
- disdain for the right of the citizen to hold their possessions in conditions of security;
- terror against those who are weak and vulnerable, including women and children; as well as,
- disregard for the norms that make for a just, equitable and stable civil order, including the obligations of the individual with respect to public property and public revenues.”
Progress in the reconstruction and development programme could not merely be measured in terms of the amount of material benefits to the people, but should also be judged by the overall quality of life enjoyed by the people as a whole, he said.
The ANC would need to play a crucial role in the promotion of this new patriotism: “…we have a responsibility to mobilise our people in all their sectors to ensure their engagement in the continuing struggle for democracy, peace and development.”
“Above all, it is practice that will teach the people how to take their destiny into their own hands in the new conditions, how to use the power in their hands not as a protest movement, but as organised and conscious fighters for the transformation of our society,” he said.
All ANC structures needed to join in the crusade against crime, focussing on the concept of “the people united against crime and violence”, according to this year’s January 8 statement.
“We must ensure that all communities are mobilised to join hands with the police service in their difficult fight against crime while our own structures, from the branch upwards, make this a permanent feature on their agenda,” the statement said.
“In the same way as we brought an end to the apartheid crime against humanity in struggle, so must we, through united struggle, clear our society of the criminals who, among other things, continue to terrorise all our people and rob the state of its much needed revenues.”
South African society was victim to unacceptably high levels of crime, which, the statement said, was driven by a number of causes: “One of these, and the most obvious, is precisely the joblessness and lack of opportunity which is the lot of millions of our people.” Progress in these areas lay at the heart of future success in the fight against crime.
Thousands of honest policemen and women continued to carry out their work with great dedication and a spirit of self-sacrifice. However, there was a need to empower by further training to raise their levels of proficiency and professionalism, the statement said.
“Work in this regard has started and must continue so that we further improve the quality of our policing and law enforcement. At the same time it is clear that we need to increase the strength of the police service, better its working conditions, improve its logistical base as well as continue to attend to the critical matter of ensuring good relations between the police and the communities they serve,” it said.
The Constitutional Assembly was, without exception, the only route available for all political formations to advance their constitutional objectives, the ANC NEC told the Inkatha Freedom Party in this year’s January 8 statement.
“We would like to reiterate our call to the IFP to return to the Constitutional Assembly unconditionally. We must emphasise the point that the CA is a democratically-elected body, mandated by the people to draft and adopt a new constitution,” the statement said.
The completion of the constitution-making process was an important part of the effort to entrench democracy in South Africa. The new constitution needed to be completed within the prescribed period, so that the country could as soon as possible have a clear vision of the constitutional framework within which it would function, it said.
The statement said the ANC believed the interim constitution had adequate provisions to address the question of the role of traditional leaders, and that these provisions should be carried over into the final constitution.
It said traditional leaders should abandon the illusion that there could ever emerge a constitutional settlement which granted them powers that would compromise the fundamental objective of a democracy.
Addressing journalists on the statement, NEC member Pallo Jordan said this position was no different from the position the ANC had long held on the question of traditional leadership.
He said the fundamental premise of the constitution was that South Africa was democratic. “The role of traditional leaders would always be subordinate to the law of the country,” he said.
The January 8 statement warned against constitutional positions which would take South Africa back to apartheid days. “Those who entertain the idea of the establishment of regions based on race or ethnicity should reconsider their position. The protection of the cultural, language and other rights of all our national groups is fundamental to our own perspective.”
“The idea that the future of any national group would best be secured by the establishment of an ethnic state ignores the fact that it was precisely this apartheid “solution” that led to the conflict which the democratic settlement seeks to end,” the statement said.
Instead the final constitution needed to be expressive of principles which encouraged peace and unity:
- the concept and practice of democratic majority rule.
- protection of human right,
- protection of language, cultural and other rights of all national groups,
- the unity of South Africa, while recognising its diversity,
- a proper distribution of power between the various tiers of government without this leading to fragmentation,
- the empowerment of civil society to participate in the process of governance,
- efficient, open and accountable government.
The rate of investment by government in social infrastructure needed to be substantially improved, the ANC January 8 statement said. This infrastructure included housing, communication, education, health, water and sanitation.
All ANC structures needed to ensure that they were geared to encourage the involvement of all South Africans in this process. “We must spread the understanding among our people that they themselves are vital participants in development, and not mere recipients of goods and services from state organs from which they are alienated. In as much as the people took many initiatives directly to participate in the struggle for their own liberation, so must they now take the initiative as the owners and activists of the process of reconstruction and developments.”
“The Masakhane Campaign, conducted at the grassroot level, must therefore aim to encourage and secure this popular participation in development. As part of this process, our formations must also link up and work with the democratically-elected structures and representatives at the local government level,” the statement said.
The ANC should also take some responsibility for opening up the economy, to allow for the entry of small and medium business – especially black business – as well as international investors. “This is critical to the objective of achieving modernisation and expansion of the economy, international competitiveness and job creation.”
To achieve this would require the strengthening of anti-monopoly and anti-trust legislation and measures, as well as practical steps to facilitate the growth of micro, small and medium business, the statement said.
The statement warns that vested interests would wage an ideological struggle to protect the status quo, arguing that the economy should be left to the market, with minimal state intervention.
“The reality however is that this market, if left to its own devices, can only work in a manner that further perpetuates the structural problems that limit growth, equity, innovation, diversification and competitiveness,” it said.
To encourage economic growth and development, the ANC needed to grapple with, together with the rest of the democratic movement:
- the issues of restructuring of state assets,
- the reorganisation of the public service,
- the redirection of public expenditure to focus on the development needs of our country and people, while maintaining the necessary fiscal discipline.
The approach the ANC should take on these matters would continue to be informed by the objectives of the Reconstruction and Development Programme.
“It cannot be in the interest of the democratic movement or consistent with the new South Africa that we are struggling to create, for us to be satisfied merely to tinker with the apartheid heritage rather than boldly to restructure it in a manner consistent with serving the objective of a better life for all,” the statement said.
An RDP report on poverty in South Africa provides much-needed and sobering information about the needs of South Africa’s poorest, writes a correspondent.
In all key social indicators, South Africa fares very poorly against countries with a similar income. This was merely one of the findings of research conducted for the government’s RDP office, contained in its report ‘Key Indicators of Poverty in South Africa’.
These key indicators include life expectancy, infant mortality, illiteracy, fertility and access to safe water. With the exception of infant mortality and access to safe water, South Africa is in fact at the bottom of those countries, like Thailand, Poland and Brazil, which fall into the middle-income category.
If South Africa’s indicators were restricted to include only the African population, black South Africa would do worse in terms of most social indicators than a country like Kenya, whose gross national product per person is only slightly higher than one tenth of South Africa’s.
“The legacy of apartheid, which created and maintained great inequalities between the races in their access to income, productive resources and services (such as health, education, water, electricity, etc.) is mainly responsible for this poor record of social achievements,” the report says.
Africans are most poor
Nearly 95 per cent of South Africa’s poor are african, five percent are coloured; less than one percent are Indian or white. Africans, at 38 percent, have nearly twice the unemployment rate of coloureds at 21 percent; more than three times the unemployment rate of Indians at 11 percent; and nearly 10 times the unemployment rate of whites, at four percent.
Poverty greatest in rural areas
Some 75 percent of South Africa’s poor live in rural areas, concentrated in the former bantustans and TBVC states. In addition, the burden of poverty is largest in rural areas. Compared to the poor in urban and metropolitan areas, the rural poor suffer from higher unemployment rates, lower educational attainment, much lower access to services such as water and electricity, as well as lower access to productive resources.
Large regional disparities
Nearly two-thirds of South Africa’s poor live in three provinces: Eastern Cape, KwaZulu/Natal and the Northern Province. Twenty-four percent of South Africa’s poor live in the Eastern Cape, 21 percent in KwaZulu/Natal and 18 percent in the Northern Province. The high poverty rates in the Eastern Cape and Northern Province are closely linked to the very high poverty rates in the former bantustans. With the exception of KwaNdebele and KaNgwane, the poverty rates in all former bantustans exceed 60 percent. The poorest former bantustan is Transkei with a poverty rate of over 92 percent.
Unemployment greatest among poor
Unemployment rates among the poor stand at 50 percent, compared to only four percent among the richest 20 percent of South Africans. In addition, many of the poor are out of the labour force due to illness, disability, catching-up with education or domestic duties. Less than 30 percent of poor working-age adults are actually working. As a result, 40 percent of poor households and 50 percent of ultra-poor households are dependent on pensions and remittances as their primary source of income. Even the poor who are employed earn less than one-tenth of the richest households. All income groups report jobs as the government’s top priority.
Women and children worst off
Female-headed households have a 50 percent higher poverty rate than male-headed households. A higher proportion of working-age women live in poor households; and a higher proportion of the poor elderly – 61 percent – are women. In addition, women suffer from substantially higher unemployment rates than men – 35 percent among women against 25 percent among men – and suffer particularly from the lack of access to services in rural areas. Over 45 percent of the poor are children below 16 years of age.
The report says the apartheid era has left a legacy of poverty and inequality in South Africa: “In spite of the wealth in the country, a large share of the population has not been able to benefit from South Africa’s resources. A particular problem in South Africa has been the inequality in access to jobs, services and resources for the poor, as well as other opportunities to escape poverty, afforded through education, skills training, and better health, for example.”
Poverty and employment are closely linked, the report says. Most of the poor do not have jobs, and those that do, work for low wages – often far away from their families. As a result the poor are very dependent on pensions and remittances.
“Many of the poor live in substandard housing; most have no access to piped water, electricity or modern sanitation. As a result, they are afflicted with diseases of poverty, and have to spend hours every day fetching water and wood,” it says.
The report says that these problems combined make it extremely difficult for the poor to improve their economic position and escape poverty – “especially since apartheid also resulted in the separation and disintegration of families and communities”.
Addressing these problems is the challenge the government faces in the design and implementation of poverty reduction programmes, the report says.
Over half of South Africa’s ultra-poor are unemployed, according to the RDP’s report on key indicators of poverty.
According to the report ‘ultra-poor’ refers to the poorest 20 percent of households in the country, which make up 30 percent of the population. It says these people are defined by ‘absolute poverty’ – they don’t have enough to eat. The poorest 40 percent of households are called ‘poor’.
On average, an ‘ultra-poor’ adult spends only R119 a month. Sixty percent of this is spent on food, while 17 percent is spent on maize alone. This explains why the ultra-poor are so vulnerable to fluctuations in the price and supply of maize.
Because of the high rate of unemployment, 50 percent of the ultra-poor are dependent on social pensions and remittances, making them highly dependent on state-run support systems and the support of migrating family members.
About 80 percent of this group lives in rural areas, concentrated in the former homelands. More than half live in the Eastern Cape and Northern Province, while only slightly more than five percent live in Gauteng and the Western Cape. Some 97 percent of the ultra-poor are african and three percent coloured. Half of ultra-poor households are headed by women.
“Over 80 percent of the ultra-poor have no access to electricity, piped water or modern sanitation. They have very little education, with nearly 80 percent of household heads having less than primary education,” the report says.
Their health status is poor, with widespread prevalence of diseases of poverty such as tuberculosis and diarrhoea. Some 38 percent of children are chronically malnourished.
“It is this group who are in greatest need of measures to help them move out of destitution; and it is this group who are most vulnerable to changes in incomes, prices and opportunities,” the report says.
Matthew Phosa – The people’s premier
“I don’t believe in defeat,” says Matthew Phosa, premier of Mpumalanga.
For anyone aspiring to be at the helm of running state affairs, changing the lives of people, even outside the borders of their country, this is sound advice.
For Phosa, being on the frontline is the one thing that keeps him young, creative and easy-going. I spoke to him early in the morning, after he had brokered a successful negotiation deal with a delegation from strife-torn Swaziland. It was after 7am when he successfully persuaded both parties to give “negotiations a chance”.
For both parties in the country to make peace, Phosa recommended they maintain a high level of trust and negotiate in good faith.
The impasse was between the Swaziland authorities and the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, which led a prolonged nation-wide strike. The strike was called to back the central demand for a multi-party democracy. The strike caused disruptions of telecommunications, water and power services. It is estimated to have cost the country R6,5m a day.
Phosa, the negotiator who played a notable role in South Africa’s transition, was approached by Swaziland King Mswati III to intervene.
Back in his spacious office, people from all walks of life are waiting anxiously in long queues to talk to “comrade premier” and to get advise from him. There are people from all parts of the political spectrum, and ranging from farmers to squatters.
One of the chief functions of the premier’s office is to introduce significant changes to policies in the province, though policy-making remains the product of collective decision-making. The function of his office is also to negotiate foreign investments for development aid to the province, initiate RDP projects after widespread consultation and offer general upliftment of the society.
As ANC provincial chairperson he needs also to maintain a well-defined organisational status, inside and outside government.
The premier’s department has several departments, including communications directorate; secretariat and administration; and media liaison, which arranges meetings with the premier, press conferences, interviews and ceremonial activities.
Phosa has recently set up a cabinet people’s forum, where each member of the executive council is required to go out and visit communities to introduce themselves and answer any issue which people might seek clarity on. Phosa has inititiated a communications hotline for people to phone him and discuss any concern they have.
As the party in power, the ANC provincial executive committee, meets every Sunday to brainstorm organisational and government affairs. Phosa tries to ensure the ANC and government engage vigorously in regular discussions. He regularly facilitates debates on problem areas. The ANC is responsible for the performance of its members in the legislature.
With the provincial and regional executive, Phosa has set up an ANC task team charged with analysing and planning debates among members of parliament and local and provincial government.
The lawyer-turned-politician is pleased with his position as premier. He is articulate in nine languages, including Afrikaans and Shangaan. He addresses each delegation he meets in their own language.
“It is challenging for me to return to my birthplace. I was eager to offer this province an unparalleled economic opportunity and promise to preserve the golden mood of a newly won democracy,” he says.
Within two years, Phosa has introduced vocational training and training for small and medium enterprises for impoverished communities. With a donation of R14 million he received recently from an overseas benevolent group, he established training facilities for upgrading teachers’ qualifications. This aimed at empowering teachers and pupils.
“Let us not blame teachers, let empower them. Let us not blame the children, let us encourage them.”
He encourages communities through reconstruction and development projects in rural and urban areas to develop their own business plans for developments of their areas, including dam building and road upgrading.
Presently he is negotiating with neighbouring Mozambique for an enclave port. His other plans are to expand business distribution in the province; help the poverty beleaguered Mozambique; and develop a partnership scheme for the farming community to provide resources for small black farmers and farmworkers to engage in small and medium farm enterprises.
I observed the down-to earth premier meeting five different delegations in his office. The exchange of ideas was intelligible and friendly. People leave Phosa’s office with a sense of fulfilment.
During whatever time is left in his hectic schedule, Phosa enjoys meeting neighbours – mostly squatter families who live adjacent to his farm. During floods or other crises in the shanty area, Phosa arranges aid and grants for those communities. He also goes to parties and braais to meet the people. Phosa is used to going to sleep after midnight when attending to ANC affairs with his comrades.
While people offer a variety of reasons for the latest matric results, they all agree on one thing: they need to be improved. Khensani Makhubela did a snap survey.
“The government has contributed to the poor matric results. Our state budget concentrates more on defence and the safety and security ministry. It does not give much attention to the education ministry, and as a result our children produce very bad results,” says Thandi Tshabalala, a mother of a matric student.
Tshabalala feels that pupils and teachers are also to blame. She says that students have a habit of bunking classes and teachers do not even realise it because they do not monitor the attendance register.
“If students are absent from school, sick notes from doctors or letters from parents should be provided. Parents should encourage their children to do their school work and to attend classes regularly, and this will reduce the rate of failure,” Tshabalala says.
Angeline Thorn is very disappointed with matric results. She says the problems lies in the lack of equipment at black schools.
“If the government can start funding education properly then we will see a different and new South Africa. As I see it, the poor results were in maths and science because they are very difficult and again because we do not have library facilities, text books and student counselling,” Angeline says.
Michael Mxhosa blames the high rate of failure of matric students on teachers. He says that teachers do not dedicate themselves to teaching. They disturb pupils by trying to date them and this frustrate the students.
“Pressure from parents also contributes. They want their children to take subjects which they are not familiar with, but because their neighbours’ children are doing them.
“It is high time that the government improve the facilities in the black schools, especially the science material, where people are supposed to do practicals not only theory,” Mxhosa says.
“The government should not encourage bribes in the ministry of education, because this makes students reluctant to study, because they know their exams will be marked by people they know.”
Kara Zayaad, a matric student last year, blames the poor matric results on teachers. He says teachers give them too much work and the syllabus is long. This makes it difficult for the syllabus to be completed before exams.
“There is no proper help from teachers, or maybe it is our fault as well, because we were not interested in afternoon classes. But the teachers never encouraged us,” he adds.
Zayaad says the government should bring the standard of black people’s education to the same level as white people’s education. “We all need same facilities in order to get good results in our exams,” he says.
Erica Botha and Lee-Ann Nortje feel that teachers are not committed enough in their work. “Teachers should be more involved in their students’ work. They give work to students which they don’t mark and this discourages the students,” says Botha.
Nortje adds: “Teachers don’t realise that theory only does not develop students. Studies should be more practical, they should not be pen and paper only. Students should be taken to historical and geographical areas that they are taught at school.”
They both say government should not make decisions alone. It should involve parents and teachers.
Like Nortje and Botha, Sumaya Alli blames teachers for the poor matric results. She says that teachers lack proper training and don’t give proper explanations, but they expect students to do their work properly.
Livine Petla, a matric student, says that students are not serious about their education. “They do not study through out the year they always wait for the month of exams to start cramming,” he says.
Petla says students relying on copying during the exams because invigilators encourage it. He feels this is an unfair practice as it causes students to fail.
Like Petla, Ntsiki Msika says that students are not interested in their studies, they concentrate on a good time after school. She says parents do very little to encourage their children to study hard if they want to produce good results.
Msika also says not enough money is given to education: “If things continue like this, how are we going to have an educated nation? How are we going to produce educated leaders?”
“The problem of matric results lies in students, they are not disciplined at all. Parents should be strict on their children, these days children rule their parents,” Zahir Motara says.
Motara feel that students are not dedicated enough to their work, and he says this is due to the abolishment of corporal punishment. “Corporal punishment should be reintroduced. If pupils don’t do their homework, they should be detained so that they do it after school,” he says.
“Parents Teachers Associations should be encouraged so that parents, teachers and students can work together. Parents play a very small role in helping their children with school work, and also blame teachers for their children’s lack of discipline and commitment to their studies,” Alli says.
“The government is doing little to improve the rate of failure in schools. There is a lack of important materials like text books and science facilities,” she says. “The government should give enough funds to the ministry of education if it wants to have an educated nation.”
Each year the government has to produce a budget. Khensani Makhubela explains how the final product is arrived at.
The government budget, like that of a business or family, deals with income and expenses. It is a combination of public expenditure plans and tax legislation for the coming year.
The state budget is used to decide priorities, and serves to evaluate specific public programmes. It is used to increase economic growth and impact on development. It is also a system of accountability and controls over government officials, setting limits on their activities and safeguarding against corruption.
The budget expresses the objectives and aspirations of the party or the government in power. In reality, the government has no money of its own. All it has belongs to the public. In a democratic society, the people give the government a mandate through their votes. Politicians are obliged to translate that mandate into policies and plans that are in part reflected in the budget.
For example, if a government is elected by a majority that supports a cut in income taxes, the government’s budget is expected to reflect that. On the other hand, if the majority of the electorate supports an improvement in the nation’s educational system, it is the responsibility of the government to restructure the budget to meet that goal.
Budgeting also involves choices about values and priorities. Above all budgeting, taxes, and spending is about decisions that affect our everyday lives and children’s futures.
There are four groups of people that are responsible for the national budget: the cabinet, the public service, members of parliament and the public.
Within the South African budgetary system, the cabinet makes broad and possibly the most important decisions on how much money should go where. For example, it decides the overall amount given to education as opposed to defence or agriculture. In this sense, the cabinet makes the primary collective choice. By so doing it declares its sense of priorities and state its moral values. By controlling the most critical decisions on the allocation of public monies, the cabinet is accordingly responsible for the outcome and therefore must assume the credit or blame.
In the budget process public servants frequently play key supporting roles. They provide information to politicians charged with making decisions, or they administer existing programmes and legislative policies. They are often called upon by politicians for guidance, and in this way they exert considerable influence in shaping government priorities.
Public servants are not directly accountable to the public and may not be easy to remove. It may be difficult to identify their underlying value system and priorities. Some public servants may be committed to work for the public good, others may be more motivated by self interest. For some, having control over a large budget may mean status and prestige and therefore their main goal may be to increase their budget, despite changing public needs or priorities.
The third main actor in the budgetary process is parliament. Through designated committees, parliament has the power to act as the defender of the public interest. To what extent it does so depends on its technical capacity and political will.
Although members of parliament are as susceptible as any others to self interest, they know that they are ultimately accountable to the people if they wish to be re-elected. Parliament has the constitutional right to question the feasibility of, and rationale for, every aspect of the budget. In a democracy parliament often does make substantial changes to the proposed budget.
The budget is too important to be left to the cabinet, public service and parliamentarians. The public and the various organisations of civil society must involve themselves in the process. Often interest groups such as organised business and labour unions will attempt to influence the budget process players to their advantage. Other sections of the public are usually less organised. Defending their interests is left to the broad political process and in some cases to specialised non-governmental organisation or community-based organisations. The unemployed, homeless and other marginalised actors often do not have any organised structures and can easily become alienated from government actions. If there are no means for their voices to be heard, they may use other ways to act through, for example, rent or utility boycotts, street action or crime.
Each year, in the middle of March, the budget is presented to parliament for approval. Parliamentary approval gives the budget legal standing. The process leading up to this point is long and extremely complex, involving thousands of people and more working hours. The actual budget cycle usually takes 18 months but may be as long as two years.
For the purpose of the budget process, government activities are broadly classified into two groups. Having considered how spending needs for the budget are determined, one will have to understand how the government raises money to pay for this spending. Government revenues are generated from taxation or borrowing.
Taxes are paid either directly or indirectly. Income taxes and company taxes are example of direct taxes. A direct tax is paid directly to the government. Value added tax (VAT) and custom duties on imported goods are indirect taxes. Indirect taxes are paid to a second party, a shop owner for example, who then passes it on to the government. In reality nobody is exempt from taxes. By virtue of being a consumer all residents in the country pay at least some indirect tax.
Wage earners pay taxes directly linked to their salaries. The more they earn the higher their tax payments. In fact as personal incomes rise not only does the amount of tax increase but also the rate of tax.
Companies are the other major source of direct taxes. They pay taxes on their profits, as well as on dividends declared to shareholders. The other sources of revenue for the government include import duties, taxes on inheritance and gifts and lease of state properties.
The government’s other source of revenue is borrowing but this is no less problematic. Public borrowing, similar to borrowing by private individual, is neither good nor bad. It depends on what the money is borrowed for. Borrowing for a productive activity that is expected to bring a return large enough to pay back the debt is wise.
Government’s ability to raise revenue, whether by taxes or debt, is inseparable from what is done with the revenue. Even high taxes will be tolerable to tax payers if they can see the direct benefits of government spending in public goods and services.
Eid Ul-Fitr Message
On behalf of the African National Congress I wish all members of th Muslim community every happiness in this special day.
We offer you our goodwill and best wishes. May these festivities bring peace, love, and spiritual contentment after your thirty days of fasting and prayer.
Your sacrifice enlightens you morally and spiritually towards the plight of those who are less privileged than yourselves in our country.
Wishing you a merry Eid
Nelson R Mandela