Volume 7 No. 5
1 July 1996
- A look at events which made news in May
- Provincial Briefs
- ANC makes gains in Western Cape election
- Youth celebrate two decades of militant struggle
- Youth Day celebrations across the country
- Truth Commision promotes rule of law
- The Constitution: Birth of a New Era
- Discipline is key to a strong organisation
- A community person in search of opportunities
- Change sweeps through the ANC up north
- `The constitution caters for all South Africans’
- Exploitation begins at home
Recent public pronouncements by Cosatu, ANC and government leaders about privatisation and other economic issues have led many commentators, mainly from the side of business, to prophesy the imminent break up of the tripartite alliance between the ANC, SACP and Cosatu.
ANC secretary general Cyril Ramaphosa described this phenomenon quite aptly recently when he said: “We begin seeing vultures hovering prematurely over what they perceive to be the carrion of the ANC alliance.”
But, said Ramaphosa, they were hovering in vain, because the alliance was very much alive. “The vultures will soon be flying off again,” he said.
So if the alliance is not about to fall apart, how does one explain the apparent differences between Cosatu and the ANC, in particular, on these issues?
For one thing, business and other conservative elements in South African society have never quite been able to understand how the alliance works. They don’t see how organisations which differ on certain matters can be in an alliance. They don’t understand how the democratic movement works.
Yes, there are instances in which the members of the alliance will have different positions on a particular issue. A case in point was the property clause in the new constitution. Cosatu felt that the constitution shouldn’t have a property clause at all. After negotiations, the ANC was prepared to agree to a property clause as long as it was formulated in a manner which would not hamper efforts at land reform.
Instead of ending the alliance as a result of this difference, the ANC and Cosatu sat down to examine how their common objectives could be realised. And the issue was resolved, just like many others that have arisen within the alliance before.
The alliance, like the ANC, operates according to democratic principles, where differences are aired and, through discussion, resolved. This is a characteristic of the alliance which always confounds its critics.
Some will question whether the perceived difference in the alliance over the question of the restructuring of state assets does indeed represent the kind of gap in thinking that the media has projected it has. Yet whatever the nature and extent of that difference, it is one which the alliance has the strength to address and resolve.
The ANC’s Department of Information and Publicity has come under some considerable fire recently for raising criticisms of a profile of Thabo Mbeki in the Mail and Guardian.
The ANC was accused of being paranoid and unable to handle criticism. That’s a bit harsh _ after all, the ANC has to withstand criticism from the media on a daily basis, often far worse than anything the M&G has been able to dole out. And the ANC survives that criticism.
The ANC is not without fault in this particular instance, however. The ANC’s response was perhaps an over-reaction, its harsh tone perhaps a bit misguided. Nevertheless, the ANC did have cause for complaint.
The article went under the front page headline “Is Thabo Mbeki fit to rule?”. By the very use of this headline, the newspaper is casting doubt on Mbeki’s ability as a national leader. Yet nowhere in the actual article, does the journalist address herself to this question. She offers no substantial evidence either way.
The net result is that what could have been a relatively tame profile of a prominent public figure, was transformed, through its headline, into a slur on a highly-respected leader. In seeking sensationalism, and perhaps better sales, the Mail and Guardian betrayed their own professed commitment to fair and substantial reporting.
No, the ANC is not averse to criticism. But it has every right to raise its objection to poor editorial judgement _ especially when it questions, by way of a headline only, the integrity of one of the ANC’s leaders.
Crime strategy unveiled
Deputy president Thabo Mbeki last month unveiled a comprehensive National Crime Prevention Strategy to combat crime in the short, medium and long term.
The strategy, the first to draw various government departments together in fighting crime, is a new approach in policing and crime prevention. It will focus on organised crime like white-collar crime, vehicle theft and hijacking and, among others, corruption within the criminal justice system. The strategy has been welcomed by most political parties.
The department of home affairs has launched a new computer- generated passport with security-enhanced features in a bid to counter the market of forged identity documents handed to illegal immigrants.
Presented to the entire cabinet by home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi recently, the state of the art passports are said to be forgery proof. With a variety of security features, the document features South Africa’s first Nobel Peace Prize winner and former ANC president Chief Albert Luthuli on the water mark.
Youth company launched in Mpumalanga
A company designed to identify profitable business ventures for youth empowerment has been launched in Mpumalanga.
Mpumalanga Youth Holding Company, administered by the Initiative for Economic Empowerment, will help participating youths in identifying business programmes, drawing up business plans and establishing small manufacturing plants.
It is the first job-creation programme underwritten by a bank. At a gala opening, Mpumalanga premier Mathew Phosa pointed out that the venture was not linked to a charity organisation. It was designed to engage youth in creating self-employment and profit-driven development projects.
Disruptions at technikons and universities
Tertiary education in South Africa is in a crisis as more than 10 technikons and universities around the country were hit by student upheavals last month.
As mid-year examinations drew closer tensions began to run high at the campuses with students’ organisations claiming the widespread disruptions were the result of deep-seated frustrations that were not being addressed.
The spiralling conflict, which included racial clashes between black and white students at Pretoria Technikon and clashes between students and private security guards at the University of Durban-Westville (UDW), led education minister Sibusiso Bengu to call for a summit to deal with all the transformation, academic and institutional culture problems.
Bengu has established a judicial enquiry to look into the problems at UDW.
Malan remains on trial
Former defence minister Magnus Malan and 16 others, including former senior military officers, will remain accused in the KwaMakutha murder trial in the Durban Supreme Court.
Three other accused, former military intelligence director Tienie Groenewald, Natal Command chief Jakobus Victor and Commander Dan Griesel, were discharged by Justice Jan Hugo after the prosecution had closed its case. Hugo declined to give reasons for his ruling until the end of the trial.
The remaining 17 were refused discharge and will return to the dock when the trial resumes for defence’s case on 10 June. They are charged with murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to murder, arising from 1987 KwaMakutha massacre.
Code of conduct for MPs approved
The long-awaited code of conduct for members of parliament have been finalised and approved by parliament’s joint rules committee.
Water affairs and forestry minister Kader Asmal, who played a leading role in drafting and negotiating the document, hailed its approval, saying it established the principle that MPs must be above reproach and that they cannot abuse their powers for personal gain. Parliamentarians, including cabinet ministers, are compelled in terms of the code to register interests such as shares, jobs outside parliament, directorships, gifts and fixed property.
Williams corruption probe intensifies
Disgraced National Party MP and former welfare minister Abe Williams is being investigated by the Office for Serious Economic Offences for alleged fraudulent payments by 55 major companies and individuals.
Williams resigned from cabinet earlier this after allegations of bribery by a company that had tendered for the contract to take over payments of government pensions. A warrant naming 55 companies and individuals suspected to be linked to the alleged payments has been issued. These companies include Iscor, Transnet, Games Africa and Bokomo Foods. Williams reportedly rejected the allegations, claiming money deposited by companies into his bank account were golf sponsorships.
Constitution sent for certification
The new constitutional text approved the Constitutional Assembly on 8 May has been forwarded to the Constitutional Court by CA chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa. The court has to rule on whether the constitution meets the 34 principles outlined in the interim constitution. If the court finds that the constitution meets the principles, it will be certified and become the countries new constitution. If the constitution does not meet the right criteria, it will be referred back to the CA.
The National Party, Democratic Party and Inkatha Freedom Party have all indicated they intend to challenge aspects of the constitution. The issues which they want to raise include the absence of the lock-out clause and the powers given to provinces.
Provinces build the ANC and prepare for the Truth Commission
In preparation for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Northern Cape ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) has established a sub-committee to deal with the ANC’s input into the commission.
The sub-committee will help people to understand the truth commission law and process; mobilise ANC structures, including the establishment of ANC Truth Commission committees at regional and local level; identify victims of apartheid human rights violations; and assist in the collection of statements about events which occurred between 1 March 1960 and 5 December 1993.
The ANC in the province has called on all its structures to mobilise the communities in townships, suburbs, informal settlements, rural areas and workplaces to come forward and make their representations before the Truth Commission.
The ANC in Mpumalanga has set up a task team on building the ANC. The task team’s report has proposed that the provincial secretary should be assisted by three additional staff who would work on government administration, the legislature, the legislative process and political matters. The Provincial Working Committee (PWC) accepted the proposal, which will be implemented soon.
The task team’s report also proposed that officials of ANC structures, including the Women’s League and Youth League, should meet on a monthly basis for consultation and management of issues of different and common interest. Officials of the Women’s League and Youth League are to meet separately on a weekly basis.
A provincial committee on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be established in the province. It will be composed of three people from the PEC, a lawyer, a church leader and all regional chairpersons.
The Eastern Cape’s 13 regions will hold an inter-regional summit in late June to plan organisational work in the months leading to the provincial conference in November.
The summit will also evaluate the state of the organisation with a view to addressing weaknesses within the organisation at branch, regional and provincial level. This is also intended to ensure that the RECs are at the same level of development and understanding as to the tasks facing the movement at the moment.
The month of June will be devoted to reviving and strengthening the Youth League and its structures. The Organising Department, together with the Youth League, has developed a programme to achieve this.
In KwaZulu/Natal the ANC had a successful local government election manifesto launch, where ward candidates in the Durban metropolitan area were introduced to the public. Two other manifesto launch events were held simultaneously at Newcastle and Empangeni.
ANC president Nelson Mandela attended People’s Forums at KwaMakutha and Edendale, and visited ZemaZulu Old Age Home. He also visited Kwazi school in KwaMashu where a vice-principal had been gunned down earlier. He proceeded to lay wreaths at the graves of the victims of the Mahehla and Donnybrook massacres. Jacob Zuma, Dullah Omar, Jeff Radebe, Kader Asmal, Mac Maharaj, Bantu Holomisa and Tokyo Sexwale also attended forums and addressed rallies in the province.
The Goldfields region of the ANC in the Free State held a meeting on 27 April to commemorate the Second anniversary of Freedom Day. The meeting was held at Khotsong near Bothville and it was well attended by all branches throughout the region.
The meeting was a resounding success as it achieved its purpose: recruitment for, and rebuilding of, the ANC. In the meeting provincial chairperson Pat Matosa urged people to pay for their services, to ensure that the culture of learning is restored and to work for an end to souring crime.
Through last month’s Western Cape local elections, the ANC further eroded the National Party’s support in the Western Cape, writes a correspondent.
The results of the Cape Town metropolitan election, held on 29 May, confirm that the ANC has improved its position in the Western Cape since the 1994 election.
The National Party managed, however, to win a majority of seats in the city. As Mayibuye went to print, the NP had won the majority of seats in the Northern, Southern and Eastern substructures. The ANC had won a majority in the strategically important Central substructure. Both the ANC and the NP got 35 seats in the Tygerberg substructure, while the NP secured one more seat than the ANC in the Helderberg substructure.
Compared to the 33,6 percent of the vote which the ANC got in the Western Cape in the 1994 election, it polled around 37 percent of the vote in the Western Cape in the local elections. The NP by contrast dropped from 56 to 48 percent for the whole province.
In the Cape Town metro area itself the ANC progressed from 35,7 to 38 percent, while the NP dropped by less than one percent.
“The ANC has made gains within all sections of the population, including coloured voters,” president Nelson Mandela said in his response to the results. “I am especially pleased that the ANC took strong control of the Central substructure, which in terms of population and economic strength is the most critical to determining the future of Cape Town.”
In rural areas, the ANC gained considerable ground on the NP. In the local councils which voted on 1 November 1995, the ANC made significant gains. This trend continued in farms areas where the ANC’s support increased from around nine percent to 32 percent.
“I want to convey a special word of thanks to all the farm workers who have voted for the ANC. We know that they were faced with considerable intimidation and in voting for the ANC they have shown great courage. We will not disappoint them, and the struggle for ensuring their full rights will be intensified,” Mandela said.
The local election results in the Western Cape are being viewed within the ANC as a step in the process of eroding the National Party’s support in the province.
“From today on we will take the next step in continuing our campaign to win the election in the Western Cape in 1999,” Mandela said.
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Soweto uprisings. A Youth League correspondent traces the path of youth struggles since then.
June 16 occupies a special place in the South Africa’s calendar and in the history of the struggle for national liberation.
In 1994 the Government of National Unity declared June 16 a national holiday and named it South African Youth Day. This was in recognition of the contribution youth have made to the democratisation of South Africa.
On June 16 this year the country and the world will be reminded of the ugly scenes which followed a peaceful demonstration by students from Soweto schools. The demonstrations were aimed at challenging the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in black schools.
The demonstrations by students on 16 June 1976 marked an intensification of the role of youth in the national liberation struggle. They brought new hope to the millions of the oppressed that one day the cause of national liberation would triumph.
Many of the youth who took part in, or who were inspired by, the 16 June 1976 demonstrations found their way to the ANC in exile. This generation of youth, full of energy, courage and militancy rejuvenated the liberation movement and raised the morale of everybody who was engaged in the struggle.
The apartheid government was clearly shaken by the student’s protest actions and other mass activities which followed the 1976 uprisings. The minority regime was, however, determined to crush any opposition to the apartheid system. Besides killing and arresting students who took part in the Soweto protests, the government banned several political and students organisations in 1977.
The banning of organisations did not succeed in silencing the voice of the people or in crushing opposition to the apartheid system. The late 1970s saw the emergence of more organisations. In 1979 both the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) and the Azanian Student Organisation (Azaso) were formed. Azaso later changed its name to the South African National Student Congress (Sanco). In 1991 Sanco merged with the National Union of South African Students (Nusas) to form the present South African Student Congress (Sasco).
Students have always seen their education struggles as part of the overall struggle for national liberation. They always participated in activities organised by other sectors of the community. At its congress in 1981, Cosas took a resolution to help form youth organisations in townships and villages in the rural areas.
Local youth organisations started emerging in most townships and villages throughout the country. The emergence of these local youth organisations highlighted the need for a national youth organisation, to ensure that local structures acted in uniformity and followed a common vision. The need for national coordination resulted in the formation of the National Youth Organisation to investigate possibilities of forming a national structure which would coordinate activities of local youth structures.
In 1984, Cosas intensified its campaign for the formation of democratic SRCs in all high schools. The Department of Education and Training’s refusal to recognise or allow the formation of democratic SRCs sparked off new confrontation between students and authorities. Unrest broke out at Atteridgeville in Pretoria when all high schools went on a class boycott. The DET responded by bringing in police in an attempt to intimidate students to end the boycott.
The campaign for the formation of SRCs at high schools, as well as other educational campaigns, spread to other parts of the country and by mid-1985 most schools in the country were hit by class boycotts. Later that year the former minister of law and order Louis Le Grange banned Cosas and arrested many of its leaders. Student protests continued with the support of youth organisations and other sectors. By 1986 the black education system was close to collapse.
The process started by the National Youth Organisation to consolidate and coordinate local youth structures culminated with the formation of the South African Youth Congress (Sayco) on 28 March 1987. Sayco was formed during a period of heightened resistance and repression. At its inaugural conference held in Cape Town the organisation declared its intention to make the country ungovernable.
Soon after its launch, Sayco embarked on major campaigns throughout the country. Some of its campaigns included the `Save the Patriots’ campaign and the isolation of security forces and their collaborators. Like other organisations, Sayco suffered serious setbacks when almost its entire leadership was arrested and detained under the state of emergency and other security legislation.
In 1989 organisations affiliated to the United Democratic Front, church organisations, youth and students organisations and the labour movement embarked on a national defiance campaign. The defiance campaign was aimed at defying regulations provided for under the state of emergency, which had been declared each year since 1986.
The defiance campaign was a massive success as most organisations and individuals who were placed under restrictions freed themselves. At that time the apartheid regime was under severe pressure from all over the world to engage in negotiations with the ANC.
Some of the people who were detained under the state of emergency released themselves from detention. The release from prison of Walter Sisulu and other Rivonia trialists added momentum to the campaign and increased the morale of the people.
When, in February 1990, FW De Klerk unbanned the ANC and other political organisations and released Nelson Mandela from prison, there was euphoria among the people in the country.
The leadership of the ANC returned from exile and soon began talks with the National Party government to clear the way from multi-party negotiations aimed at resolving the political conflict in South Africa. When Codesa adopted the Declaration of Intent in December 1991, many people believed that the youth and the masses had no role to play, as the negotiations process had begun.
On 17 June 1992 – the day after the ANC Youth League had successfully commemorated the 1976 uprising – 27 people were massacred in Boipatong, prompting the ANC to suspend its participation in the multi- party negotiations process.
The tripartite alliance embarked on a rolling mass action campaign, which culminated in a political general strike in August. The ANC Youth League played no small role in the immensely successful mass actions.
The militancy of the youth and their frequent display of impatience has led many people to believe that they are ill-disciplined and that their role in politics should be curtailed. When Chris Hani was assassinated in April 1993 the whole country reacted with great anger. The youth appeared to be more angry than the older people, and they were more determined to fight to avenge Hani’s death.
Soon after Chris Hani was laid to rest, the multi-party negotiations process produced a date for the first non-racial democratic elections. Once all other matters were finalised at the multi-party talks, campaigning for the April 1994 election started in earnest. The ANC Youth League did much of the running around to ensure a landslide victory for the ANC in the elections.
The election of 27 April 1994 signalled a break with the past and ushered in a new dispensation for the country. When we celebrate the South African Youth Day this year, we shall look at the past with pride and appreciation of the country’s achievements.
With the adoption of the new constitution by the Constitutional Assembly, the country is well on course to prosperity. While the constitution provide a framework for the transformation of the entire society, the successful implementation of the values it contains rests on the willingness of all the country’s citizens to accept the need for change and work for it.
The youth must now use their immense energy to work for the transformation of South Africa into a truly non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society. This is a task that must be undertaken by all the youth of this country together, regardless of which political party or organisation they belong to.
It is encouraging to see the National Party Youth Action participating fully in the National Youth Day celebrations. We hope all other youth organisations or groups which did not recognise this day in the past will join their patriots in making a declaration to work for transformation and nation building.
The following activities will be taking place on 16 June to celebrate South African Youth Day.
Pietersburg Rugby Stadium in the Northern Province. President Nelson Mandela will deliver the keynote address and will use the occasion to announce names of persons appointed to the National Youth Commission.
Youth Festival at Khayelitsha Stadium.
Youth Festival at the Orient Theatre in East London.
Youth festival at Vryburg Showgrounds. Premier Popo Molefe will deliver the main address.
Local elections campaign rallies. Deputy President Thabo Mbeki will address the rallies.
March from Morris Isaacson High School to Hector Peterson’s memorial stone. Premier Tokyo Sexwale will lead the March.
Youth will march to Nelspruit civic theatre to hand a youth declaration to the Premier Matthew Phosa. A youth festival will also be held at Valencia Stadium and later in the day the Premier will host a dinner to be attended by representatives of youth organisations in the province.
Youth festival at the Technikon Free State sports ground. Premier Terror Lekota will address the festival
Details of activities planned for the Northern Cape were not available when this issue went for printing. All activities mentioned here, with exception of those taking place in the Western Cape and KwaZulu/Natal have been organised by provincial government in cooperation with youth organisations.
The Truth Commission encourages a culture of accountability writes Khensani Makhubela
The truth and Reconciliation Commision’s first month had been a great success, justice minister Dullah Omar said in Midrand recently. It had already begun, to achieve some of its aims, he said.
“One of the objectives of the Truth and Reconciliation Commision is to establish the rule of law. we’ve never had tha in South Africa before. We must find a way of establishing accountability for the crimes of the past.: Omar said.
The testimony before the truth commision had made many perpatrators of human rights violations uncomfortable, but it had begun to establish a culture of accountability, Omar said.
The prosecution of past criminal offences should not stop because of the truth commision. The attorneys-general should charge confessed killers where there was prima facie evidence that a crime had been committed. It was the respponsibility of offenders to apply for amnesty for past crimes, he said.
Omar was against the extension of the amnesty cut-off date beyond December 1993, as argued by the Freedom Front.
“There must be a cut-off date for people to get amnesty. Political violence won’t be tolerated beyond that. Shifting the cut-off date sends the wrong signal to society.” he said.
Omar said that the ANC’s submission to the truth commision was at an advanced stage, and would be presented to the commission in the near future.
“The ANC is prepared to explain and accept responsibility for any human rights violations committed by ANC emebers,” he said.
The commission was established to promote national unity and reconciliation in a spirit of understanding which transcends the conflicts and divisions of the past.
It wasto provide for the investigation and the establishment of as complete a picture as possible of the nature, causes and extent of gross violations of human rights committed between March 1960 and December 1993 emanating from the conflicts of the past.
It is also going to provide for:
- the granting of amnesty to people who make full disclosure of acts associated with a political objective;
- affording victims an opportunity to relate the violations they suffered;
- taking of measures aimed at granting reparation, and the restoration of the human and civil dignity of victims of human rights violations.
There are three committees to assist the commission to achieve its objectives: the Human Rights Violation Committee; Amnesty Committee and Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee.
The Human Rights Violation Committee investigates gross violations of human rights. The Amnesty Committee deals with matters relating to amnesty, and Reparations and Rehabilitation deals with matters referred to it relating to reparations and rehabilitation. It makes recommendations to the president on both urgent interim relief and long-term reparation and rehabilitation for the victims of gross human rights violations.
There is also an investigative unit which investigates any matters falling within the scope of the commission’s function. At the request of any committee the unit will investigate matters arising out of testimony by victims.
Hearings of victims of human rights abuses have been held in East London, Cape Town, Johannesburg Durban and Port Elizabeth. Hearings in other centres are being planned.
Coordinator of the ANC’s Truth and Reconciliation Desk Mongezi Tshongweni explains the process: “Before the hearing, the victim makes a statement that his or her human rights have been violated. The statement taker, together with the committee, assess whether the statement can go to the public. They later inform the victim of the date of the hearing and the victim appears before the committee for the hearing.”
If a person is implicated before the commission in alleged human rights violation, the commission give the person an opportunity to make a representation or give evidence to a hearing of the commission.
“If the Human Rights Violation Committee finds out that a person’s human rights have been violated, it will refer the matter to the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee for its consideration,” says Tshongweni.
Recommendations and findings are considered by the president with a view to making recommendations to parliament. It is the government that has to make a decision as to the form of reparations given to victims.
“The Amnesty Committee is a unique committee in the sense that it is a judge of the supreme court that gives amnesty. Its decision is not reviewable, its decision is final,” Tshongweni says.
“This means if you are not granted amnesty you cannot challenge the decision of the committee,” he says.
“Although there is no clear set of guidelines for refusing or granting amnesty, the application will only succeed if it complies with the requirements of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act,” Tshongweni says.
Offenders will only get amnesty if the actions for which they are requesting amnesty were associated with a political objective committed in the course of the conflicts of the past between 1 March 1960 and 5 December 1993.
BIRTH OF A NEW ERA
Deputy President Thabo Mbeki addressed the Constitutional Assembly, on behalf of the ANC, on the adoption of the new constitution. This is the full text of his speech.
On an occasion such as this, we should, perhaps, start from the beginning. So, let me begin.
I am an African.
I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land. My body has frozen in our frosts and in our latter-day snows. It has thawed in the warmth of our sunshine and melted in the heat of the midday sun.
The crack and the rumble of the summer thunders, lashed by startling lightening, have been a cause both of trembling and of hope. The fragrances of nature have been as pleasant to us as the sight of the wild blooms of the citizens of the veld.
The dramatic shapes of the Drakensberg, the soil-coloured waters of the Lekoa, iGqili noThukela, and the sands of the Kgalagadi, have all been panels of the set on the natural stage on which we act out the foolish deeds of the theatre of our day.
At times, and in fear, I have wondered whether I should concede equal citizenship of our country to the leopard and the lion, the elephant and the springbok, the hyena, the black mamba and the pestilential mosquito. A human presence among all these, a feature on the face of our native land thus defined, I know that none dare challenge me when I say _ I am an African.
I owe my being to the Khoi and the San whose desolate souls haunt the great expanses of the beautiful Cape. They who fell victim to the most merciless genocide our native land has ever seen, they who were the first to lose their lives in the struggle to defend our freedom and dependence and they who, as a people, perished in the result.
Today, as a country, we keep an audible silence about these ancestors of the generations that live, fearful to admit the horror of a former deed, seeking to obliterate from our memories a cruel occurrence which, in its remembering, should teach us not and never to be inhuman again.
I am formed of the migrants who left Europe to find a new home on our native land. Whatever their own actions, they remain still, part of me. In my veins courses the blood of the Malay slaves who came from the East. Their proud dignity informs my bearing, their culture a part of my essence. The stripes they bore on their bodies from the lash of the slave master are a reminder embossed on my consciousness of what should not be done.
I am the grandchild of the warrior men and women that Hintsa and Sekhukhune led, the patriots that Cetshwayo and Mphephu took to battle, the soldiers Moshoeshoe and Ngungunyane taught never to dishonour the cause of freedom. My mind and my knowledge of myself is formed by the victories that are the jewels in our African crown, the victories we earned from Isandlwana to Khartoum, as Ethiopians and as the Ashanti of Ghana, as the Berbers of the desert.
I am the grandchild who lays fresh flowers on the Boer graves at St Helena and the Bahamas, who sees in the mind’s eye and suffers the suffering of a simple peasant folk, death, concentration camps, destroyed homesteads, a dream in ruins.
I am the child of Nongqause. I am he who made it possible to trade in the world markets in diamonds, in gold, in the same food for which my stomach yearns. I come of those who were transported from India and China, whose being resided in the fact, solely, that they were able to provide physical labour, who taught me that we could both be at home and be foreign, who taught me that human existence itself demanded that freedom was a necessary condition for that human existence. Being part of all these people, and in the knowledge that none dare contest that assertion, I shall claim that I am an African.
I have seen our country torn asunder as these, all of whom are my people, engaged one another in a titanic battle, one to redress a wrong that had been caused by one to another and the other, to defend the indefensible.
I have seen what happens when one person has superiority of force over another, when the stronger appropriate to themselves the prerogative even to annul the injunction that God created all men and women in His image. I know what it signifies when race and colour are used to determine who is human and who, sub-human.
I have seen the destruction of all sense of self-esteem, the consequent striving to be what one is not, simply to acquire some of the benefits which those who had imposed themselves as masters had ensured that they enjoy. I have experience of the situation in which race and colour is used to enrich some and impoverish the rest. I have seen the corruption of minds and souls as a result of the pursuit of and ignoble effort to perpetrate a veritable crime against humanity.
I have seen concrete expression of the denial of the dignity of a human being emanating from the conscious and systematic oppressive and repressive activities of other human beings.
There the victims parade with no mask to hide the brutish reality _ the beggars, the prostitutes, the street children, those who seek solace in substance abuse, those who have to steal to assuage hunger, those who have to lose their sanity because to be sane is to invite pain. Perhaps the worst among these, who are my people, are those who have learnt to kill for a wage. To these the extent of death is directly proportional to their personal welfare. And so, like pawns in the service of demented souls, they kill in furtherance of the political violence in KwaZulu/Natal. They murder the innocent in the taxi wars. They kill slowly or quickly in order to make profits from the illegal trade in narcotics. They are available for hire when husband wants to murder wife and wife, husband.
Among us prowl the products of our immoral and amoral past _ killers who have no sense of the worth of human life, rapists who have absolute disdain for the women of our country, animals who would seek to benefit from the vulnerability of the children, the disabled and the old _ the rapacious who brook no obstacle in their quest for self- enrichment. All this I know and know to be true because I am an African.
Because of that, I am also able to state this fundamental truth that I am born of a people who are heroes and heroines. I am born of a people who would not tolerate oppression. I am of a nation that would not allow that fear of death, torture, imprisonment, exile or persecution should result in the perpetuation of injustice.
The great masses who are our mother and father will not permit that the behaviour of the few result in the description of our country and people as barbaric. Patient because history is on their side, these masses do not despair because today the weather is bad. Nor do they turn triumphalist when, tomorrow, the sun shines. Whatever the circumstances they have lived through and because of that experience, they are determined to define for themselves who they are and who they should be.
We are assembled here today to mark their victory in acquiring and exercising their right to formulate their own definition of what it means to be African. The constitution whose adoption we celebrate constitutes an unequivocal statement that we refuse to accept that our Africanness shall be defined by our race, colour, gender or historical origins. It is a firm assertion made by ourselves that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.
It gives concrete expression to the sentiment we share as Africans, and will defend to the death, that the people shall govern. It recognises the fact that the dignity of the individual is both an objective which society must pursue, and is a goal which cannot be separated from the material well-being of that individual.
It seeks to create the situation in which all our people shall be free from fear, including the fear of the oppression of one national group by another, the fear of the disempowerment of one social echelon by another, the fear of the use of state power to deny anybody their fundamental human rights and the fear of tyranny.
It aims to open the doors so that who were disadvantaged can assume their place in society as equals with their fellow human beings without regard to colour, race, gender, age or geographic dispersal. It provides the opportunity to enable each one and all to state their views, promote them, strive for their implementation in the process of governance without fear that a contrary view will be met with repression.
It creates a law-governed society which shall be inimical to arbitrary rule. It enables the resolution of conflicts by peaceful means rather than resort to force. It rejoices in the diversity of our people and creates the space for all of us voluntarily to define ourselves as one people.
As an African, this is an achievement of which I am proud, proud without reservation and proud without any feeling of conceit.
Our sense of elevation at this moment also derives from the fact that this magnificent product is the unique creation of African hands and African minds. But it also constitutes a tribute to our loss of vanity that we could, despite the temptation to treat ourselves as an exceptional fragment of humanity, draw on the accumulated experience and wisdom of all humankind, to define for ourselves what we want to be. Together with the best in the world, we too are prone to pettiness, petulance, selfishness and short-sightedness. But it seems to have happened that we looked at ourselves and said the time had come that we make a super-human effort to be other than human, to respond to the call to create for ourselves a glorious future, to remind ourselves of the Latin saying: Gloria est consequenda -Glory must be sought after.
Today it feels good to be an African. It feels good that I can stand here as a South African and as a foot soldier of a titanic African army, the African National Congress, to say to all the parties represented here, to the millions who made an input into the processes we are concluding, to our outstanding compatriots who have presided over the birth or our founding document, to the negotiators who pitted their wits one against the other, to the unseen stars who shone unseen as the management and administration of the Constitutional Assembly, the advisers, experts and publicists, to the mass communication media, to our friends across the globe -`congratulations and well done’.
I am an African. I am born of the peoples of the continent of Africa. The pain of the violent conflict that the people of Liberia, Somalia, the Sudan, Burundi and Algeria is a pain I also bear. The dismal shame of poverty, suffering and human degradation of my continent is a blight that we share. The blight on our happiness that derives from this and from our drift to the periphery of the ordering of human affairs leaves us in a persistent shadow of despair. This is a savage road to which nobody should be condemned.
This thing that we have done today, in this small corner of a great continent that has contributed so decisively to the evolution of humanity says that Africa reaffirms that she is continuing her rise from the ashes.
Whatever the setbacks of the moment, nothing can stop us now. Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace. However improbable it may sound to the sceptics, Africa will prosper.
Whoever we may be, whatever our immediate interest, however much we carry baggage from our past, however much we have been caught by the fashion of cynicism and loss of faith in the capacity of the people, let us err today and say-nothing can stop us now.
Commitment to organisational discipline can make the difference between a strong ANC and a floundering organisation, argues ANC national organiser Dumisa Putini.
A lack of discipline in our ranks is one factor which undermines the strategies of the ANC, and threatens our objective of moving speedily towards service delivery.
Lack of accountability and coordination between leadership deployed in the organisation and government, particularly at local level, results in tensions which are unnecessary. This situation can also be attributed to poor communication, and the manner in which we handle decision- making processes in our structures. These acts of indiscipline have direct impact on the organisation and the implementation of our programme. These weaknesses undermine our efforts to change our membership into cadres and our supporters into members. We need to conceptualise and define discipline in our organisation.
Usually when one talks about discipline one refers to personal discipline. In our organisation discipline should be translated into a political context and into our traditional ways of operating _ involvement of the masses, collective leadership.
Discipline in the ANC involves the consciousness and ability to subordinate one’s own will and immediate personal inclination to that of the organisation. However, it does not imply that our activists and members should be involved as `stooges’. Rather, discipline is based on a clear political understanding. Activists are expected to participate in policy-making, and these policies bind everyone as a member.
Organisational discipline is a way of arriving democratically at collective decisions, and ensuring that these decisions are carried out. To arrive at collective decisions involves honest discussions and debates. If the different viewpoints do not emerge in discussions, they will always resurface later in a destructive way. Different points of view must be respected.
The discussions must be conducted at a political level, and differences must not be personalised. Contributions to the discussions must be constructive. Negative and divisive approaches, as well as arguments that go against the fundamental principles of the struggle, should be discouraged.
A decision is made once a policy has been democratically established. The second stage of discipline consists of carrying out that policy effectively. Everyone is bound to stand by the collective decision and to defend it, even if they originally had a different view.
All members have a duty to explain the decision to others if they do not understand it; to discuss it; and to come to a common understanding. Any person or group that tries to overturn such a decision, or criticise it outside organisation, is being factional. If members of the organisation are unhappy with a specific decision or policy, they must raise this in a responsible and comradely fashion through democratic processes. A disciplined approach will allow the organisation to continuously develop and strengthen.
Discipline also means the duty to respect and follow the leadership of democratically-elected leaders, and to defend them from opposition attacks. But equally, leaders are accountable to their constituency. They must execute the decisions of the membership who elected them.
Discipline also means planning, through devising a strategy and tactics. In politics it is necessary to act quickly and decisively. However, this must be based on a clear and disciplined assessment of the possible gains and goals of that action.
One of the major problems of discipline in our organisation is the question of punctuality in our activities and work. How many of our meetings ever start on time? How many of us meet the deadlines we set for ourselves? This problem is becoming worse every day. People come later and later because we have developed a tradition that we do not start our activities as scheduled.
Every time we are late we are keeping others waiting and this means that we are keeping others away from their political work. This problem retards our progress in realising our objectives.
Discipline should apply beyond our organisation. At the level of contact with the masses of our people, activists are seen as representative of our organisation. The ANC will be judged on the basis of their behaviour. If we want to retain the ANC as a central democratic force, we must consolidate the highest reputation among the people. A correct and disciplined approach in our contact with the masses, activists, leadership and members of other parties is essential to introduce a political culture of peace, tolerance and freedom of association.
To reject discipline is to disarm ourselves and willingly help the opposition. To ignore discipline, for whatever reason, has the same effects. Our greatest weapon is our collective organised strength.
We must always remember that our opposition does not rest while we plan our activities. They are busy planning strategies to win the hearts and minds of our people. They do not only operate from outside our ranks, but also within our structures.The opposition takes advantage of any sign of indiscipline, disunity or weakness. Their aim is always to confuse our people, to intensify indiscipline and sow chaos in our ranks. Discipline is key to preventing this.
Bongi Mkhabela won’t be dictated to from New York. Khensani Makhubela found out why.
Bongi Mkhabela, national director of NGO liaison in the Office of the Deputy President, says she’s a community person. “In terms of my career I moved, and I am moving, in line with contributing to the development of black people in particular,” she says.
Mkhabela started working with people during her school days in the 1970s. She was a student leader and was involved in Christian and youth forums. The main idea of these forums was to rebuild and maintain a fabric in the society that was deteriorating at a fast rate.
In the 1980s Mkhabela was arrested and sentenced as an activist. On her release she was banned and confined to Zola township in Soweto. “This was a blessing in disguise because during my banning period I learnt a lot. I worked as an advice worker for the Witwatersrand Regional Council of Churches,” she says.
“What was interesting for me was, was that I learnt to develop and train myself more. I also availed myself to be trained by others and I provided a professional para-legal service, and at the same time formed the Advice Centre Association (ACA).”
Mkhabela coordinated the ACA and created a women’s desk which aimed at the economic empowerment of women in the society. They also opened up debates on issues that were never talked about, such as abortion.
“It was not to say that we were putting forward ideas. We were saying what do women think, especially ordinary women. This was a platform where women from various walks came together and from different levels professionally,” Mkhabela says.
“What was exciting for me at that period was we didn’t have the distinction of elite women who will sit together over tea and coffee and decide what poverty is and what rural development is and almost know it all.”
In the late 1980s Mkhabela decided to go to the University of Zululand to study for a social work degree. “When I completed my degree I still felt very strong about community development issues,” she says.
Mkhabela joined the Development Resource Centre, which is a network of NGOs which is intended to strengthen civil society organisations at different levels. She later joined the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which was setting up its mission in South Africa.
She says she was fortunate that the agency was not the typical foreign agency which thinks it knows the problems of South Africa and how to solve them.
“I joined UNDP to help define their mission in South Africa within their broad frame work, which was to deal with poverty beyond conferences -beyond academic journals on poverty -and how to begin to break the cycle of poverty for ordinary families and individuals, and that was a challenge,” Mkhabela says.
Mkhabela says that she felt good by the time she left UNDP because the programme she was working on had been defined and she felt relatively comfortable with it: “One could say this was an achievement, because we had set up an important programme for our country.”
She said she had to move because the UN system says “as long as you are a national in that country you cannot be an expert”.
“If you are a South African in South Africa you need someone from New York who is an expert and under whom you will serve,” Mkhabela says.
“This is frustrating, it makes one feel incompetent. You are never given a space to influence. As soon as I felt the space was closing I knew it was time to move on and be in a place where I was going to be in the influencing process,” she says.
The real reason why Mkhabela works with the NGO sector is that she sees it as a vehicle to unleashing energies on the ground. She sees her role to help NGOs to interact with people on the ground and to ensure that issues on the ground are issues that influence the policy making of the country.
She says it is unfortunate that South Africa is still caught up in a perception that government will do everything. “For these expectations we are paying a high price. The government should open up opportunities, the government does not necessarily deliver those things. It is us the people that have to provide services in our communities,” Mkhabela says.
She says there is also weakness in organisations of civil society. “They become gate keepers, and once they have resources they don’t share the resources. I still find myself challenged with how to get ordinary people to participate meaningfully in policy and in changing people’s lives,” Mkhabela says.
“We always talk on behalf of people, especially rural women, while we have no clue what it means to live in a rural setting and we are not qualified to speak on behalf of rural women and what they go through,” she says.
“People need to be less concerned about themselves and their careers and more concerned about how we open up windows of opportunity for other people. As people we should be moving somewhere more solid than simply holding on to political power. Economically we have no power, culturally we are dominated. It is high time we engage ourselves in our country’s economy,” Mkhabela says.
The Northern Province ANC is taking bold steps to address organisational shortcomings, writes Mziwakhe Hlangani.
The ANC in the Northern Province is examining methods of improving its input into the process of governance in the province.
Provincial deputy secretary Benny Boshielo said it was imperative for the organisation to develop a central planning unit to identify key areas of restructuring and transformation within government. He said this would ensure the movement implemented its own policy strategies and was well-positioned to determine the agenda of the provincial government, rather than allowing the government to move at its own pace.
Such a unit was established after local government elections. This has been complemented by strong ANC policy departments at all levels.
Key areas targeted by the unit include education, agriculture, economic planning and local government.
The province has tried to build the capacity of the organisation through a recruitment drive and ensuring renewal of membership is conducted annually. Boshielo conceded, however, that monitoring these renewals was a major problem.
Though the new membership was climbing by 3 000 to 5 000 a month, no evidence of steep growth was reported. The sluggish growth, he said, could be attributed to a failure in servicing existing members on an annual basis.
The Tripartite Alliance in the province had undergone a significant revival. The province held its first alliance summit in April, in which a programme for 1996 was developed. Alliance committee meetings have been conducted fortnightly since then and have preceded “vibrant” meetings of the alliance on a monthly basis. For the last four months these meetings have dealt with organisational and government matters.
A committee has been appointed to review the deployment of ANC activists. It intended to rectify errors of previous leadership deployment.
Boshielo said the committee reviewed the role of each ANC leader in the government, provincial, regional and branch level of the organisation. The committee is presently making a performance audit of the various activists.
Because of deployment mistakes the executive was forced to beef up its communication strategies, with efficient programmes to consult constituencies. It has also had to reach decisions with leadership spread out in national, provincial and local government.
Some activists who were posted in parliament or provincial legislatures are now being assigned responsibilities in the organisation. Some activists removed themselves voluntarily from the legislatures and decided to return to the organisation.
Some activists will be returning from Cape Town, including the provincial secretary, while others from the provincial office will replace them.
“The one blunder was to allow the secretary to go to Cape Town. But we have looked at it again, after realising we cannot run an office without the expertise of the secretary. That is why we have summoned him back after the constitution has been finalised,” he said.
“We had some comrades on the voting lists, but we instructed them to give up their seats in the legislatures and help build the organisation,” Boshielo said.
While the deployment of leadership to government had depleted leadership skills within the organisation, it had sometimes worked to the advantage of the movement. Most members of the provincial legislature now had ample time and resources to move around the province. Constituency offices could be used for the benefit of the organisation.
“As a result it was resolved that each constituency office must service a number of branches in its area. We have also negotiated with branch committees that MPLs must be afforded ex-officio member status of that branch executive committee and sub-regional structures,” he said.
The ANC in the Northern Province currently consists of five regions. But at a recent provincial summit, a submission was made to divide each region in half, making for ten regions. Because of the vastness and rural nature of the province, further demarcation was needed to make these areas manageable.
The province is made up of 728 fully-fledged branches. Another 350 branches officially launched recently are not quite functional. The provincial leadership has adopted the strategy of maintaining smaller branches rather than big ones. Interim branches, with only 300 members, are therefore being introduced.
Many of the ANC’s organisational weaknesses in the Northern Province are associated with the organisations growth in the area, Boshielo said. After the 1994 elections the movement experienced massive growth.
As new people joined the movement, the lack of a political education strategy emerged as a major weakness. New members were not being inducted into the traditional politics of the ANC. Commitment among members to the ANC’s principles and objectives therefore declined. This gave rise to `careerists’, who perceive joining the ANC as a stepping stone into the legislature and local government structures.
“Until today we are still trying to resolve problems of disenchanted ANC members who stood as independents because they were not included in the ANC list,” Boshielo said.
Another significant weakness is the organisation’s failure to make sufficient inroads into the “so-called minority groups”, including whites, Indians and coloureds, even though a few branches had been launched areas dominated by right-wing communities. In areas like Tzaneen and Groblersdal, conspicuous for white conservative activities, ANC branches had been launched two months ago.
Failing to organise in the farms is also an indication of the lack of organising strategy in the provincial leadership, Boshielo said.
South Africans from around the country were asked to make submissions towards the new constitution. Khensani Makhubela asked a few people what they thought of the finished product.
Simon van Wyk says that he has been waiting for the South African constitution for many years: “This constitution is good for every South African citizen, it caters [for] and touches people from all walks of life. It does not look at gender, class, race or religion _ it is for everybody.”
“The needs of the people are going to be met through our new constitution because we are now given a chance to help in making decisions for our country. The new constitution is based on people’s views, not the government or politicians only,” Van Wyk says.
He says the parties that are objecting to the new constitution are against human rights and the Reconstruction and Development Programme, they still want a class division in South Africa.
Sogoni Thembinkosi has no problem with the new constitution. “My party was part of the draft makers and it knows my needs and the needs of the people, so this constitution is a people’s constitution. It includes everyone in this country,” he says.
Thembinkosi says his party negotiated on serious issues and it wanted to make sure that the rights of the people are recognised and respected. “I am really pleased with the lock-out issue, it is the best thing that ever happened in this country. Employers will learn to listen and implement decisions of their employees, not theirs alone,” says Thembinkosi.
Annabella Koen says the new constitution is very good and everything should be left to the experts who drafted it. She says people have given their views on the constitution and the experts have taken the best of the people’s views.
“We needed changes in this country and that is what the new constitution is going to bring. The president won’t make a mistake. He will consider what people want and people’s views in the constitution, as he is also guided by the same constitution,” Koen says.
Zeldah Sishi agrees with Koen. She says things have changed in this country since 1994, but we still need more change, and the new constitution guarantees that change.
“This is our constitution, and it is the first time in the history of South Africa that people were given a chance to contribute their views to the constitution. A constitution is binding, and for us to be bound by it we should respect it,” she says.
Eleanor Msibi says: “This is one of the best constitutions because it comes from the people’s views. People are bound to respect the new constitution, it is there because of us and it represents all of us.”
Msibi feels that the new constitution will meet the needs of the people because they chose it. She says people should also make sure that things are not imposed on them and see if the new law will satisfy them.
Colin Hlatswayo says the new constitution is fine, as long as it is going to be implemented in the right way. He says it meets international standards.
“Other parties don’t agree with the new constitution because they do not want to accept changes. It is high time that we change in this country. We should not have privileged and under privileged people. We should all be the same. Even if other parties do not like the constitution, I think it suits the majority and it is favoured by the majority,” Hlatswayo says.
Tshepo Mohave differs with Hlatswayo. He says he can’t say the new constitution is good or bad because there are a lot of compromises in the new constitution, just like there were compromises in the interim constitution.
Mohave says the good thing about the new constitution is that it caters for the rainbow nation, it does not exclude anyone. “Everybody who considers himself or herself a true South African can live with this constitution, and at the end I think we will find it satisfactory,” he says.
Obakeng Motitima says the new constitution is an improvement on the interim constitution. He says it tries to include every citizen of South Africa and it has also given powers to the provinces, unlike in the interim constitution where, he says, provinces had no power.
Motitima feels that some of the clauses were not taken into consideration. “Things like death penalty should not be neglected. In South Africa we have the highest rate of crime and if death penalty is not taken into consideration it will mean we are encouraging crime. The death penalty should at least apply for certain incidents,” Motitima says.
Motitima is also concerned about the issue of traditional leaders and their powers. He says there is no clarity as to where they stand and that is a bit disturbing.
“I don’t favour the new constitution because it doesn’t favour black people. The only people that are going to benefit from the constitution are the very same people who were privileged in the former government,” says Tshepo Kgaudi.
He adds: “The government should start by empowering black people, especially economically, before we can say we have a new constitution. The economy of this country still belongs to white people and black people are still under privileged.”
Kgaudi says he would have loved to see things like job opportunities in the constitution and in practice. “Central government should decentralise power, there is too much power at the top, power should be brought to the people,” he says.
Beyond the Horizon is a book about abuse and exploitation in the home. June Madingwane reviews it.
Beyond the Horizon is a gripping story of women who are abused by their lovers and husbands. This abuse is manifold. Akobi is an ambitious young man who leaves a village called Naka in Ghana to go to the city. He finds that life in the city is not as easy as he was made to believe. After working for a while, he returns to his village, where he marries Mara. Together they return to the city where they stay in a shack which is infested with cockroaches and other crawling insects.
In that city with her husband, Mara comes face to face with a cruel world which was created by her husband. He had dreams and wanted to make them a reality. That was not possible on a clerk’s salary. He then forced his wife to become a breadwinner. This she managed by doing menial jobs and selling food to building contractors and other people.
Despite all her efforts to satisfy her husband, he always demanded more from her. When she fell pregnant, he was furious and he would beat her.
Mara accepted the beatings as an inevitable accompaniment of a woman’s inferior status at home and in society. The terrorism, torture and slavery which she had to endure made her look at her own failings, blaming herself and also justifying the actions of her husband.
Her tears and bruises were hidden from the outside world. She wanted to dissolve the marriage, but her poor father received a lot of dowry from Akobi’s father, who was the wealthiest man in the village. The dowry made her father feel that he was rich and superior to the other villagers.
Together with the helplessness which she felt, she had to put up with the manipulative ways of her husband. His dream was to go to Europe, which, he was told, was a land of plenty. When he finally managed to bribe officials at the immigration office and got his visa ready, he flew to Germany.
He married a German woman. This was to enable him to become a citizen of that country. A lot of foreigners did that so that they could not be deported.
A year later he arranged for his mistress from Ghana to join him. He introduced her to his German wife as his cousin. Mara flew to Germany a year after the mistress. He introduced Mara to his German wife as his sister. He made sure that she did not spoil things for him. He listened to every conversation which the women had and would reprimand Mara if she said something that was not acceptable to him.
Living in Germany, Mara came to accept a lot of things which were unfair to her. Shock awaited her. One afternoon when her husband came back from work, he took her to a brothel and that became her home. She was forced into prostitution.
This type of work was not acceptable to her, but she could not do much about her position. She used to have an average of three clients a day and all the money which she made went to her husband’s savings account. The anger which she felt towards her husband threatened to explode. When she managed to pay a revenge, it was sweet.
Title: Beyond the Horizon
Author: Amma Darko