Thursday, May 25, 2017

Africa at the Crossroads: AU Commemorates 54th Year While Challenges Mount
From Egypt and Nigeria to Somalia and South Africa the crises of the post-colonial states are exemplified

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Tuesday May 23, 2017

May 25 marks the 54th anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union formed in 2002.

This continental organization brings together independent nation-states and the still colonized territory of the Western Sahara under Moroccan occupation.

With the readmission of Morocco into the AU during 2016, some have begun to question the anti-colonial mission of the organization. The Monarchy in Rabat has not made any commitment to the United Nations mandated supervised elections aimed at granting the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic the right to determine its own destiny.

Some African states opposed the reentry of Morocco for this very reason. Either the organization firmly supports the rights colonized peoples to self-determination or it does not. There is really no room for a middle ground.

At the founding of the OAU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1963, the divisions were largely centered on the issues of the character of the African unification process. Should Pan-Africanism be a gradual process of the merging of regional entities or should it develop at a rapid pace?

Africa being carved up during the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 and events leading up to that critical period in history, laid the basis for the contemporary crises of the 21st century. From France, Britain, Portugal, Spain, the United States, Germany and the Netherlands, the imperialists drained the continent of its human and material resources creating the conditions for the development of Europe and North America and the instability and underdevelopment of the continent.

Yet long before the dawn of the present century during the founding summit of the OAU, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first prime minister and later president of independent Ghana, appealed in his address delivered on May 24, 1963 to the African heads-of-state for continental unity as the only viable solution to the problems of mass poverty, super exploitation and the consolidation of neo-colonialism. The events which took place in the former Belgian Congo in 1960-61 where the elected government of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was overthrown through the machinations of the Belgians, the U.S. and the UN, illustrated clearly the monumental tasks of acquiring genuine national independence and unity.

Lumumba was eventually driven from the capital of Leopoldville (Kinshasa) where he sought refuge among his supporters in the Congolese National Movement (MNC-Lumumba) in the East of the vast mineral-rich state. Eventually he was captured by the imperialists and their agents.

By late January 1961, Lumumba had been vilified by the western media, unjustly detained, beaten, tortured and executed. This series of events portended much for the future of the struggle for Pan-Africanism exposing fully the institutional resistance on a global scale to the forward advancement of the oppressed and exploited workers, farmers and youth of the continent.

Nkrumah emphasized in his 1963 speech in Addis Ababa that: “A whole continent has imposed a mandate upon us to lay the foundation of our union at this conference. It is our responsibility to execute this mandate by creating here and now, the formula upon which the requisite superstructure may be created. On this continent, it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence. Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference.”

The Contemporary Challenges from Egypt to Nigeria

These words from Nkrumah were indeed prophetic. Looking at the situation today in the North African state of Egypt sheds enormous light on the present crises.

Egypt is the third-largest populated country on the continent. It is the gateway to Western Asia where there is an historic link with the ancient civilizations which shaped the scientific, cultural and intellectual foundations of the modern world.

Nonetheless, this potential is stifled due to the continued domination of imperialism. Egypt is faced with political divisions between Islamist and Nationalist forces. The military coup of July 2013 further solidified the role of the military within the state. There is an armed opposition based in the Sinai where natural gas resources abound. These assets cannot be fully utilized for the benefit of the African continent because of the dominate role of the State of Israel and the U.S.

The country of Egypt remains impoverished despite its enormous wealth. At present there is still the failure to resolve the issues surrounding the usage of the Nile River. Ethiopia is constructing a Renaissance Dam which could impact the access of this waterway from Egypt to other contiguous Nile basin states including Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. The peaceful resolution of these disagreements will determine the outcome of any development projects for the region.

In the West African state of Nigeria, the largest populated nation on the continent, with its gargantuan oil and natural gas resources, is battling a renewed economic recession. The price of oil has dropped precipitously over the last three years due to overproduction.

Since the post-colonial African states are dependent upon the purchasing power of the West which determines the price of commodities and the terms of trade, the currency values and foreign exchange reserves have dropped significantly. Nigeria as well is divided through the guerrilla war which has been raging in the Northeast since 2009 where Boko Haram has caused havoc among the people of this region of the country, often described as the least developed due to the legacy of British colonialism.

From Somalia to South Africa: The Problems of Water and Resource Harnessing

The Horn of Africa has been a source of imperialist intrigue on the continent for at least four decades. In Somalia, where oil resources exist in abundance in the North and offshore in the Central and South of the nation, the country is undergoing a calamity of unprecedented proportions.

Millions are threatened with famine as a result of the lack of food and potable water. Crop failures stem from the lack of stability and security. The war between Al-Shabaab and the western-backed government in Mogadishu is by no means subsiding. This is the situation despite the presence of 22,000 African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) troops stationed in the country for the last decade. Obviously the wealth of Somalia is being siphoned off by the transnational corporations based in the West and their allies within government.

South Africa, the most industrialized state on the continent, is suffering from high unemployment, continuing poverty, declining currency values, inadequate service delivery and a burgeoning energy crisis. A sub-continental drought and lack of investment in infrastructure has rendered the nation without the proper capacity to generate power for the much-needed second industrial transformation.There has been a systematic disinvestment by capital since the ascendancy of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in 1994 after decades of intense struggle against settler-colonialism and apartheid.

Considerable pressure has been brought on the society from international finance capital to the extent that now there are intense polemics within the tripartite alliance (the ANC, the Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions) over how to proceed in the National Democratic Revolution. All the while opposition forces led by the objectively racist and pro-imperialist Democratic Alliance (DA), is being positioned for the staging of a political coup that would re-institute a form of neo-apartheid. The lessons of Congo (1960-61) and Ghana (1966) are not as far removed as many may surmise. Imperialism has never accepted the advent of genuine independence and socialist development over the last five or more decades.

As Nkrumah also stated in his OAU lecture of 1963, “We are fast learning that political independence is not enough to rid us of the consequences of colonial rule. The movement of the masses of the people of Africa for freedom from that kind of rule was not only a revolt against the conditions which it imposed. Our people supported us in our fight for independence because they believed that African governments could cure the ills of the past in a way which could never be accomplished under colonial rule.If, therefore, now that we are independent we allow the same conditions to exist that existed in colonial days, all the resentment which overthrew colonialism will be mobilized against us. The resources are there. It is for us to marshal them in the active service of our people.”

These are some of the lessons of the last 54 years that must guide the AU member-states into the concluding years of the second decade of the 21st century. The alternative to a totally liberated and unified Africa is imperialism in its most profane and exploitative phase. 
Africa at the Crossroads Part II--AU Must Advance Program to Reverse the Political and Economic Crises
Lessons learned for the 54th anniversary from Tunisia and Libya to Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Wednesday May 24, 2017

Another series of mass demonstrations have taken place in the North African state of Tunisia where the uprisings beginning in December 2010 led to what has been described as the “Arab Spring.”

After Tunisia the situation in Egypt unfolded with huge protests, rebellion and the eventual seizure of power by the military in mid-February 2011.

A similar scenario had occurred in neighboring Tunisia. Obviously no revolutionary party or coalition of national democratic forces had the political capacity to seize power on behalf of the people in order to make a clean break with the United States and its imperialist allies.

Events in Tunisia and Egypt prompted demonstrations in Algeria as well. However, in this North African state the color revolution did not escalate to the point of driving the National Liberation Front (FLN) from power.

Of course the history of Algeria is quite different from both Tunisia and Egypt. The FLN fought a seven year guerrilla war against France. This war of independence distinguished Algeria from the historical trajectory of Egypt where the national democratic revolution was engineered by the Free Officer Movement of lower-ranking military figures such as Gamal Abdel Nasser. The seizure of power by Nasser and his comrades in 1952 and the consolidation of power by him in 1954 led directly to the nationalization of the Suez Canal and the subsequent invasion by Britain, France and Israel two years later. Nasser prevailed in 1956 in part due to the inter-imperialist rivalry between Washington, Paris and London.

The administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower opposed the European invasion of Egypt not because of its support for African independence. Instead the U.S. was seeking to consolidate its hegemony as the world’s uncontested imperialist center. Overtures to the emergent national liberation movements were part and parcel of a broader strategy of neo-colonial rule which is predominant in the 21st century.

Tunisians in recent weeks have focused on the failure of the energy industry to provide benefits for nationals. In the south of the country where the unrest began in late 2010, there has been the blockading of extractive outlets which are aimed at closing down operations. However, security forces have arrested numerous people while others have been injured and at least one person killed.

According to an article published on May 24 by the Agence France Press (AFP): “Thousands attended the funeral Tuesday of a protester killed during clashes in southern Tunisia as officials warned tensions could escalate amid demonstrations over social and labor issues. Anouar Sakrafi, in his early 20s, died of wounds suffered Monday when he was run over by a national guard vehicle during clashes with security forces at an oil and gas plant, the scene of long-running protests over joblessness. Security forces fired tear gas as protesters tried to storm the El Kamour facility in the desert region of Tataouine, radio reports said. The government said Sakrafi's killing was accidental.”

The lack of any fundamental socio-economic transformation in Tunisia was even pointed out in an article in Forbes Magazine. This is a journal of record for international finance capital and therefore its conclusions would not be the same as anti-imperialists and socialists.

However, Forbes said of the political atmosphere in both Egypt and Tunisia: “A popular uprising that began in Tunisia and Egypt…, calling for an end to corruption and the creation of economic opportunities, has yet to achieve these goals.  In fact, Tunisia and Egypt have not become less corrupt since then, and unemployment continues to remain in double digits.” (May 20)

Undoubtedly the worst outcome of developments in 2011 was the counter-revolution in Libya which began in February. The suppression of the western-backed rebels by the Jamahiriya under Col. Muammar Gaddafi provided a rationale for the passage of two United Nations Security Council resolutions providing a pseudo-legal cover for the blanket bombing of this oil-rich state for seven months.

Tens of thousands of people died in the aerial bombardments which destroyed basic infrastructure and provided cover for the rebels to seize control of key cities including the capital of Tripoli by August. The brutal assassination of Gaddafi in Sirte was actually ordered by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton under the administration of former President Barack Obama.

Today Libya is a source of instability, terrorism, human trafficking, corruption and neo-colonial intrigue. Numerous attempts to impose a compliant regime that could win the support of the disparate rebel groups whom were installed by the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and NATO has failed miserably.

Only a revolutionary anti-imperialist approach to the crises in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia could provide real hope for stability and reconstruction. Efforts which have taken place in Southern Africa provide a glimpse of possibilities for other regions of the continent.

The Legacy of Imperialism: Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola

A radical land redistribution program in Zimbabwe in 2000 drew the wrath of the former colonizers in Britain and their allies in Washington and Brussels. Sanctions imposed on this sovereign state in defense of settler colonial economic relations further exposed the actual foreign policy of the U.S., Britain, the European Union (EU) and its partners in Southern Africa.

The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front Party (ZANU-PF) has held steadfast in defending its independence. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe during his tenure as chairperson of the AU and the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) put forward a Pan-African program urging heads-of-state and the popular forces to reverse the cycle of dependency upon the West through regional integration and an independent foreign policy based on African interests.

Recently in the Republic of Namibia, which like Zimbabwe waged an armed and mass struggle for national liberation, the ruling Southwest Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) declared its support for the legal claims filed against Germany by the Herero and Nama people for the genocidal policies during the initial colonial period under Berlin between the 1880s and 1915 when the European state lost its colonies in Africa to other imperialist powers such as Britain and France.

In the Republic of Angola, the continent’s second largest producer of petroleum, the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which also won its independence through the barrel of the gun and its consolidation through the assistance of internationalist forces from the Republic of Cuba, announced that long time President Jose Eduardo dos Santos was turning over control to a new leadership. Angola has been impacted negatively by the sharp decline in oil prices placing a brake on the rapid economic development inside the former Portuguese colony.

At a SADC Summit held earlier this year, a proposal for a regional industrialization plan was approved by the body which represents 15 independent states in the region as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Seychelles. Despite the inevitable obstacles to such an ambitious project it represents the future of Africa. In order for sustainable development to be realized the continent must turn inward in order to exert its latent power on the global stage.

An Africa Liberation Day radio broadcast aired on May 24, 1964 by the then President Kwame Nkrumah of the First Republic of Ghana spelled out clearly the necessity for continental unity up to the point of the formation of an all-African Union Government. Nkrumah noted that Pan-Africanism and Socialism provide the only viable solutions to the post- colonial stagnation and continued underdevelopment.

This historic speech relays in part: “As I have said time and time again, the salvation of Africa lies in Unity. Only a Union Government can safeguard the hard-won freedom of the various African States. Africa is rich, its resources are vast and yet African States are poor. It is the only in a Union Government that we can find the capital to develop the immense economic resources of Africa.Only a unified economic planning for development can give Africa the — economic security essential for the prosperity and wellbeing of all its peoples. It is also quite clear that not a single African State can today defend herself effectively. Therefore many African States are forced to enter defense agreements with their former colonial master. Recent events in Gabon and elsewhere show clearly how these military Pacts can be used to subvert the independence and territorial integrity of African States. The only real and lasting solution is a defense arrangement for Africa on the basis of a unified military command.”

During this 54th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity and its successor the AU, the continental organization must review these important issues. The alternative represents more of the same being greater reliance on the imperialists which has resulted in a renewed burgeoning debt, greater penetration of Pentagon and CIA elements in the region and the further fragmentation of existing nation-states.
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Interviewed Over Television Continental (TVC) Discussing the Visit of U.S. President Trump to Saudi Arabia and Palestine
Watch this interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, over Television Continental (TVC) based in Lagos, Nigeria.

To view the segment just click on the website below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZSohhtkoag&feature=youtu.be

The segment examined United States President Donald Trump's visit to Palestine and Saudi Arabia. Azikiwe points out the inherent bias of Washington's foreign policy in the Middle East and its implication for the people of the region.

According to its website: "TVC News is a 24-hour television news channel that offers the latest African News, Politics, Sports and Business. TVC News is Africa's First Pan African News Channel located in the heart of Lagos, Nigeria with Bureaus across Africa, London and the United States."
Tribute to Cubans Who Fought for Angola’s Independence
The widow of Agostinho Neto, Maria Eugenia Neto, together with their daughter Irene Alexandra, paid tribute to those who died in the struggle for Angola’s independence during a visit to the island this Monday, May 22

GI news staff | informacion@granma.cu
May 23, 2017 09:05:12
Photo: Ismael Batista

The widow of Agostinho Neto, Maria Eugénia Neto, together with their daughter Irene Alexandra, paid tribute to those who died in the struggle for Angola’s independence during a visit to the island this Monday, May 22.

Maria Eugénia, who today heads the Agostinho Neto Foundation, was guided by General Teté Puebla on a tour of the Veterans’ Pantheon of Havana’s Colón Cemetery.

Teté Puebla explained to the guests that this is the final resting place of the veterans of Cuba’s independence wars, those who participated in the clandestine struggle, who fought at Playa Girón and also those Cubans who died fighting in the independence struggles of Angola and other African nations.

“We are indebted to Africa because many men and women brought from there fought against Spanish colonialism in this land,” the General explained.

Maria Eugénia expressed her gratitude for Cuba’s support, noting that thanks to the island’s internationalism, today Africa is free from the nightmare of colonialism.

She added that Africa now needs to be rebuilt, based on the legacy of those who sacrificed themselves and fought for a better world.

The widow and daughter of Agostinho Neto – the latter a deputy to the Angolan National Assembly and director general of the foundation that honors her father – placed roses and gladioli at the tombs.

Maria Eugénia Neto will today be presented with the Mehdi ben Barka Solidarity Order, posthumously awarded by the Organization of Solidarity with the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAAL) to her husband, Agostinho Neto.
African Unity Celebrated in Santiago de Cuba
Inseparable in the struggle against colonialism exemplified by President Fidel Castro and Angolan Counterpart Agostino Neto.

Published 24 May 2017
Telesur

The celebrations, a wide variety of cultural and educational programs, as well as scientific and sports activities, are scheduled to continue until Saturday.

On Wednesday, the 54th anniversary of African Unity, the predecessor of the African Union, was commemorated by African university students and fellow Cuban students in Santiago de Cuba.

The celebrations, a wide variety of cultural and educational programs, as well as scientific and sports activities, are scheduled to continue until Saturday.

Prensa Latina reported that support for the event is being provided by the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples, Fernando Ortiz African Cultural Center, diplomatic representatives of the participating nations, and educational institutions in the city.

A forum titled, "Pensemos Africa," is scheduled for Friday. During the event, scholars will debate and discuss their views concerning the realities of the continent.

An artistic showcase of African cultural traditions and expressions will close out the celebrations on Saturday at the Heredia Theater.

Recent visits to Cuba by Maria Eugenia Neto and Irene Alexandra, widow and daughter of the late Angolan independence leader, Angostinho Neto, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo, Clement Mouamba, strengthened the historical ties between the African continent and socialist Cuba.

During Eugenia Neto's visit, Cuban General Tete Puebla, emphasized the Cuban people's gratitude to Africa, “We are indebted to Africa because many men and women brought from there fought against Spanish colonialism in this land.”

Granma reported that Neto reciprocated the sentiment, noting that as a result of the Cuban people's resolve and profound sense of internationalism, Africa had been liberated from the horrors of colonialism.

African Unity was established on May 25, 1963, in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. The organization's goals were to eradicate colonialism, lift African nations from the scourge of underdevelopment, and defend the sovereignty of those nations.

African Unity was replaced by the African Union in 2002. Its first chairperson was South African President Thabo Mbeki.
OAS Debates Venezuela, Not a Word About Brazil
(Left) Anti-government protesters attack police in Venezuela. (Right) Police fire rubber bullets and tear gas at anti-Temer protesters in Brasilia.

Published 24 May 2017

Double standards come naturally to the OAS, especially when the balance of power is defined by people's power or power usurped by political elites.

Pick-and-choose. It's the modus operandi of the Organization of American States, headquartered in Washington, D.C. While the organization schedules debate on Venezuela, total silence reigns over the scandal-ridden government of Brazilian President Michel Temer.

Just when Brazil's political crisis seemed like it couldn't get any worse, Temer was caught red-handed on tape giving his blessings to bribes paid to judges, prosecutors, a police task force member and a powerful witness in government corruption investigations, Eduardo Cunha, the former president of Brazil's lower house of representatives.

Not a whisper from the OAS.

On Wednesday, Brazil's security forces cracked down on protesters who were demanding free, democratic elections.

Not a beep from the OAS.

Also on Wednesday, Brazil's military police were ordered to remove rural workers located on the Santa Lucia farm in the municipality of Pau D'Arco in the state of Para. The operation resulted in the deaths of 10 campesinos.

The OAS utters not a word.

Ecuador managed to include in the daily agenda of the OAS a discussion about the ongoing and worsening crisis in Brazil. However, the majority of countries considered such disturbances to be a sovereign, internal matter, unbefitting of debate by the OAS Permanent Council.

"We repudiate misplaced interpretations of the functioning of our democratic institutions," argued Brazilian ambassador Jose Luiz Machado. Unable to hide his frustration at the mere suggestion of debating Brazil's crisis, Luiz Machado continued, “there's no alteration or risk to the constitutional order.”

Several other delegations, including Argentina, Mexico, and Paraguay, shared Luiz Machado's indignation.

Chile's representative, Juan Barria, stated that Brazil's crisis “is an absolutely internal issue.” Meanwhile, Argentina's representative, Juan Jose Arcuri, asserted that the “issue should not have been considered.”

Just an odd mistake? Or convenient?

Whatever the case, the OAS hasn't shied away from using its pulpit to convene a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the Venezuelan protests, with 19 votes in favor, 10 against, one abstention and one absence.

Hours after the vote, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez announced that the country will begin the process of exiting the OAS. She asserted that the organization had plans to criminalize the Venezuelan government and destabilize constitutional democracy in order to facilitate foreign intervention.

On April 27, Venezuela presented a formal letter pulling out of the OAS. At the time Rodriguez asserted, “We will defend the self-determination of our people.”

While Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for a constituent assembly and the country's electoral board has called for regional elections in December, Temer has taken no democratic measures to help quell the growing unrest in Brazil.

Having come to office through what many considered a parliamentary coup, Temer's claim to fame has been proposing undemocratic pension cuts, austerity measures, reforms that minimized workers' rights, and getting caught red-handed on tape approving bribes.

The latest Parana Institute Research poll indicates that 87 percent of Brazilians favor the immediate removal of Temer.

Double standards come naturally to the OAS, especially when the balance of power is defined by people's power or power usurped by a handful of political elites, right-wing media, and the big-business class. The U.S.-dominated organization seems to have no use for people's power.
Bolivia's Evo Morales Says Racism a Tool for World Domination
Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Telesur
Published 24 May 2017

Morales warned against the perils of racism, referring to this state of ignorance turned economic and institutional apparatus as a tool of domination.

"Racism is one of the instruments of domination, subjugation, and humiliation, not only in Bolivia but throughout the world," said President Evo Morales.

From the Aymara nation and the first Indigenous president of Bolivia, Morales was speaking at the Fifth Session of the Ibero-American Network Against Discrimination in the city of Santa Cruz.

During his speech Morales warned against the dangers of racism, referring to this state of ignorance turned economic and institutional apparatus as a weapon of domination. He added that what is needed to free Pachamama from the scourge of racism was a “plurinational planet.”

"Like here, in Bolivia, the cost was hefty. We suffered a lot in 2006, 2007, 2008, to form a plurinational state. Our goal should be, our desire should be to develop a plurinational America, a plurinational planet, and not only a plurinational state of Bolivia because our people are so diverse around the world," Morales emphasized.

The Bolivian president said that approving measures against racism is simple but difficult to implement and enforce.

He suggested taking counsel from young people to achieve a more just society free of racism and discrimination.
Brazil Protests: Ministerial Building Set on Fire During Clashes
24 May 2017
BBC World Service

Angry demonstrators in Brasilia have started a fire inside the ministry of agriculture and have damaged several other ministerial buildings.

Brazilian authorities estimate around 35,000 are marching in the capital.

Troops are being deployed to defend government buildings and there is a heavy police presence on the streets.

Protesters are demanding the resignation of President Michel Temer, fresh elections, and for economic reform plans to be withdrawn.

Mr Temer has faced new corruption allegations in the last week, and is facing growing pressure to step down.

According to reports, several ministries are being evacuated because of the protests - but not before the agriculture ministry was damaged.

"There was an invasion of the ministry's private entrance. They lit a fire in a room, broke photos in a gallery of ex-ministers and confronted police," a spokesman told the AFP news agency.

There have been clashes between police and demonstrators and local media report one person has been injured and several have been detained.

Planned demonstrations began peacefully around midday before clashes with police erupted.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at some demonstrators, and video footage showed other members of the crowd smashing windows or setting makeshift barriers afire.

Last week, testimony released by the country's supreme court alleged that Mr Temer had taken millions of dollars in bribes since 2010.

The plea-bargain testimony came from bosses of a giant meat-packing firm.

In response, Mr Temer vowed to prove his innocence and remain as president while so doing.

On Saturday, he filed a petition to have the investigation suspended, but reversed that decision on Tuesday.

Mr Temer took office a year ago after his predecessor, President Dilma Rousseff, was impeached.
Women and Land: Challenges of Empowerment
By Ian Scoones

Rights to land for women have been enshrined in law in Zimbabwe, but the practice of law in reality often has not delivered women’s empowerment and rights. This must change, but how?

Zimbabwe has a range of progressive laws aimed at gender equality on the statute books – notably around marriage, inheritance and succession. These feed through into land legislation and administration, and are recognised in the new Land Commission Bill. These include the recognition that leases and permits should recognise both spouses as land holders. However law in practice may not uphold these ideals. Biases in administrative procedures, competing legal orders in a pluri-legal system, and the resort to ‘tradition’, and the lack of awareness of rights all combine.

Women did gain access to land in their own right at land reform. This was at higher levels than exist in the communal areas, with around 15-20% of all plots in A1 schemes being registered to a woman, compared with typically around 5% in communal areas. Most such female land holders were widows, divorcees and single unmarried women. The possibilities of women’s empowerment in land access through the land invasion and occupation process around 2000 has been widely documented. However, since land acquisition, there has been a reversal of some of these gains, and women have lost out in new allocations due to the patriarchal practices of local administration systems, now combining ‘traditional’ approaches (via chiefs and headmen) and land offices.

Many lobby groups argue that women must be allocated land. Yet, women often recognise the value of gaining access to land and other resources in the context of the marriage contract, making addressing gender equity within joint arrangements just as important. Indeed, a focus on the allocation of plots for women, while essential for some, may miss the point for the many – and divert attention from many other opportunities to protect wider rights and entitlements. While current statutory law notionally provides the basis for women’s empowerment, in practice it often falls short – and this differs between A2 (medium-scale commercial farms) and A1 (smallholder) land.

A number of high profile cases have occurred in relation to A2 farm land, where divorced women have contested the rights of their husbands to hold all the land following separation. Yet these have also shown the limits of the law in practice. This is despite the fact that, in cases of contests over A2 land, where large areas of land are concerned and the case comes to court, there are procedures in law and administrative practice that can be used to address gender inequalities. Even with joint registration, and in the absence of ‘traditional’ customary legal frameworks operating in these areas, the rights of women may not be upheld, either by formal courts or administrative procedures, due to the pervasive patriarchal assumptions around land ownership. This needs to be challenged through the development and documentation of case law and the sharing of effective practice that upholds women’s rights within both the legal profession and within the administrative arms of the Ministry of Lands.

In A1 land, however, the enforcement of statutory law is more challenging. Permit regulations from 2014 again specify the rights of women, encouraging the joint naming of spouses. The regulations specify rights in relation to divorce, and around polygamous marriage. However in practice, very often women’s names do not appear on permits (or their predecessor offer letters). There is no legal requirement for this, as this appears to be a discretionary provision in the implementation process. The point of land registration is an important moment for specifying rights and ensuring joint naming moves from optional to mandatory, but as disputes are dealt with locally within a pluri-legal system, even this move will have to be backed by wider cultural change in a deeply patriarchal traditional and administrative system.

Land reform areas in Zimbabwe are state land, where nationally agreed legislative provisions – around women’s rights, for example – apply. Formally, the state can overrule patriarchal institutions, and can have a role in enforcement. In seeking progressive change in land related policy, such as around women’s empowerment, state ownership is important. The state, unlike in customary land, can take back land and also specify the rights over land for both men and women, without any intermediation by traditional councils, chiefs, or a poorly defined ‘community’. However, in A2 farms, with considerably larger land areas and more capitalised systems of production, there is greater value at play, and the opportunities for the state to override may be less, although formally the state can still intervene. Clarity on roles and responsibilities and a clear administrative framework for land is therefore essential.

To help push administrators and the legal system to recognise women’s rights to land, joint naming of spouses should be a legal requirement, in my view. Equally any wider audit and registration process needs to include a gender audit. As with past public awareness campaigns around marriage and inheritance (such as the 1993 film Neria, written by Tsitse Dangarembga and starring Oliver Mtukudzi), a similar effort needs to mobilised during land audit and registration.

There are real challenges for realising rights in practice, as progressive legislative moves may be undermined by patriarchy in both local communities and administrative systems. This requires reform of administrative processes, the guaranteeing of joint naming on land holding documents and public awareness campaigns.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and appeared on Zimbabweland.
All of Africa Needs Radical Economic Transformation
The whole of Africa needs radical economic transformation‚ Dlamini-Zuma says
MAY 23, 2017 | ZINGISA MVUMVU |

ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma believes radical economic transformation should sweep through the entire African continent.

Dlamini-Zuma made these remarks during her keynote address at the SA Funeral Practitioners Association (Safpa) gala dinner on Monday night in East London.

Dlamini-Zuma attempted to explain what the popular phrase means‚ touching on various sectors‚ including minerals‚ the ocean economy‚ land and energy.

She said as Africa embarks on a journey to economic transformation: “South Africa must be a locomotive as one of the continent’s big economies.”

Exports vs Imports

Dlamini-Zuma believes Africa should reconsider exporting its raw resources that it cannot afford when they come back as imports of finished products.

“The problem with this is that when you export raw materials‚ you are exporting jobs‚” she said. “Instead of jobs being created here in Africa‚ it means they are created in the countries to which we are exporting to.”

Land

According to her‚ Africa at the moment is not using land productively and the continuous selling of land to foreign investors is unsustainable. The continent also needed to start processing the food it produces instead of exporting it to Europe and America for that to be done.

Said Dlamini-Zuma: “Africa is the only continent that imports 87% of processed food that it consumes. How can we‚ because processing food is not rocket science? We can do it ourselves‚ this has to change.” She added that 60% of the world’s arable land was in Africa “but we must be careful because foreign people are coming to buy land. Before we know it‚ we will not have enough land for the growing population of our continent.”

Mineral resources

For the former African Union Commission chair‚ it was puzzling that Africa‚ despite all its mineral resources‚ continued to have high levels of poverty. “That paradox must change. We cannot have a rich Africa with poor people‚” she said. “Developed countries elsewhere used what is ours to be what they are.”

Financial illicit flows

Dlamini-Zuma said Africa was losing billions every year via illicit financial flows because it lacked skills while foreign companies were doing as they please. She blamed trade agreements African states had with foreign companies‚ saying they favoured the latter. “We must understand (foreign) companies are not here for charity. In isiZulu‚ sithi ifa leyilima lidliwa ziyihlakaniphi (the wise benefit from the sweat of fools). Therefore we need to be clever.”

Industrialisation

For Africa to achieve real growth and prosper on its own‚ it had no choice but to industrialise on a massive scale‚ said Dlamini-Zuma.

Ocean economy

It is in this industry that Africa is being short-changed as everything is foreign-owned and controlled‚ she said. To this end‚ the continent must “reclaim our seas“.

Said Dlamini-Zuma: “We do not have ocean vessels of our own that take exports and imports‚ even though 90% of exports and imports of ours are transported through the sea but we do not own those vessels.

“The people who work in the vessels are not ours‚ the consumables are not ours‚ insurance of cargo is not ours‚ therefore we must reclaim this whole area of economic activity.”

Energy infrastructure

She said: “Can you believe the whole African continent is generating energy that is the same amount as just one European country — Spain?” This was changing but not fast enough‚ she went on: “We cannot do things we want to do without enough energy. We must change this.”

Peace

For “radical economic transformation” in Africa to be achieved‚ peace on the continent was imperative. “We must work hard to silence the guns in Africa by 2020. This does not mean there will be no conflict but it must be dealt with through dialogue‚ not the barrel of a gun‚” she said.

Women

For all the above to be achieved‚ women and the youth must be at the centre‚ said Dlamini-Zuma. “Africa has a big population of a billion-plus ... This programme towards prosperity must not exclude women and youth‚” she said.
SACP Supports Workers at General Motors SA and Its Supply Chain, Denounces the Disinvesting Company for Unilateral and Bad Faith Conduct Towards the Labor Movement in SA
24 May 2017

The SACP expresses its message of solidarity with the workers employed at General Motors South Africa (GMSA) and its supply chain who are facing an uncertain future as a result of the GM's global headquarters decision to close production operations in South Africa. The SACP denounces with contempt GM's unilateral and bad faith conduct towards workers and the labour movement in South Africa. More than ever, unions at GMSA and its supply chain need to set all their differences aside and unite for the greater good of the workers. Maximum unity in the ranks of organised labour and organising the unorganised will be essential in the imminent battle against retrenchments and adverse restructuring.

This struggle must, in the first instance, be waged at the premises of GMSA and its supply chain. Wider community and national support is also critical. The SACP pledges its unqualified support to all the workers potentially affected, regardless of which union they belong to. The SACP will support progressive interventions by the unions involved, as well as by their respective federations. This is a moment to come together, combine strengths and focus on advancing the common interests of the workers.

In order to safeguard workers jobs and prioritise employment growth, it is also important for organised labour to prepare thoroughly for engagements with Isuzu Motors. The company is set to acquire GMSA's production facility in South Africa. Furthermore intervention by the government is going to be of crucial importance.

The decision by GM has everything to do with profit maximisation and the aftermath of the international capitalist crisis that first erupted in 2007/8 in the United States, rather than the so-called loss of confidence in South Africa's investment environment. Due to a combination of factors including plummeting sales as a result of the crisis, GM has faced impending bankruptcy. Among others the United States government has pumped $50 billion in a bailout intervention to GM, on the condition of an intensified, aggressive restructuring on a global scale.

Clearly GM's restructuring agenda has not ended. As the Department of Trade and Industry indicated on 18 May, GM exited Australia in 2013 where it had a joint venture with Holden and closed its plant in Indonesia in 2015. In 2017 GM was, at the outset, engaged in pulling out of Europe with the Opel/Vauxhall brand sold to Peugeot and closing its plant in Halol, India.

In February, Isuzu Motors announced that it will acquire GM East Africa stocks effectively making it a subsidiary. In South Africa, GM has been repositioning itself more as a warehousing operation rather than a manufacturing operation.

As Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies noted in his budget speech yesterday, notwithstanding the impending GM manufacturing pull-out from South Africa, our active, state-led industrial policy programme has seen increasing investment in the automotive industry, including in public transport vehicles over the last several years. In response to the profit-maximising fluctuations of private monopoly capital two lessons stand out - the imperative of working class unity in action, and an effective, public sector-led, industrial policy programme that focuses on localisation, job preservation and creation, and sustained investment.

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Cde Solly Mapaila, Second Deputy General Secretary contribution at Moses Kotane Memorial Lecture
21 May 2017, Rustenburg

Moses Kotane, a chief architect of the South African struggle

One of the great achievements of communists like Moses Kotane was that he immediately grasped, as Cde Yusuf Dadoo, former National Chairperson of our Party put it:

"...the need to indigenise Marxism so as to give it meaning for the millions of our workers and peasants." (Introduction, Moses Kotane, South African Revolutionary, 1975)

For it was and (still) is, as Dadoo eloquently put it, the specific feature of the South African situation that there can be:

"...no working class victory without black liberation and no black liberation without the destruction of capitalism in all its forms."

Kotane`s contribution to the development and application of the revolutionary theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism in the concrete conditions of South Africa has had a monumental ideological contribution to the worldview of our Party. This is summarised in his famous letter from Cradock to the Johannesburg District Party Committee dated 23 February 1934. Kotane called for the Communist Party to become Africanised or Afrikanised, pay special attention to South Africa, study the conditions of this country and concretise the demands of the toiling masses from first hand information, speak the language of, and know the demands of the masses. He called on the Party, while maintaining (and further developing and intensifying) its internationalism, to become South African not only theoretically but practically serve as a Party working in the interests of, and for the toiling people of our country.

The system of capitalist exploitation of workers by the bosses - the shareholders or stakeholders who enrich themselves by appropriating production surplus - workers` unpaid labour, or profit, interests or rent first emerged and developed in Europe. Historically it makes sense that the emergence of the Communist Party as a response to capitalism also started and developed first in Europe. The problem that Kotane set to address was a tendency to fantasise the struggle fought by the working class in Europe arising out of its conditions at the neglect of the situation of our own country. The ideological articulation by Kotane grounding Marxism-Leninism in our country`s concrete conditions was therefore very profound. From this point of view our Party`s ideological approach, which needs to be sufficiently recognised, can be described as `Marxism-Leninism and Moses Kotane intervention`.

It was from this approach that Kotane contributed enormously in building our Alliance, including taking part in both the ANC and the SACP not only as a member but also as leader. During the period of ten years from 1963 to 1973 Kotane concurrently served both as SACP General Secretary and ANC Treasurer General. The chauvinism and narrow nationalism that can only destroy our movement today and disrupt its unity is opposed to, and has become an agenda against the participation of communists in leading positions of the ANC. If the ANC is to survive and turn the tide against its trend of decline it has to remain true to its character as a mass political organisation of our people as a whole, the majority of whom is the working class and poor. Its orientation must be that of the interests of this overwhelming majority of our people. Once it becomes a vehicle of narrow interests of self-enrichment it will perish.

There are many lessons the whole of our Alliance can draw from the revolutionary orientation of Moses Kotane, a strategist and tactician and arguably the chief architect not only of our Alliance but along with it the South African struggle. All the narrow nationalists and chauvinists want is support and more support for exploitation in pursuit of their narrow, private interests in the name of Africans in particular and Black people in general.

In 1950 when the Communist Party was clearly going to be the first political organisation to be banned in South Africa, then facing the Suppression of Communism Bill, it was under the brilliant leadership of Moses Kotane as General Secretary that the Party tactically dissolved itself on the surface before the Bill was passed into law by the apartheid regime. One of the provisions in the Bill was that any member of the Communist Party would automatically receive a 10 year prison sentence.

At that time the police already had a list of Party members from an earlier raid. In the light of the situation, Kotane crisscrossed the country explaining the dissolution of the Party to members and denied that it would carry on underground. Nonetheless in 1952, two years after the Party was banned with the Bill having been passed into law, Kotane and other Party cadres had already re-grouped the most stalwart members, and in 1953 the Party was re-constituted underground as the South African Communist Party, the SACP.

The central role played by Kotane as the major organiser and chief architect of the South African struggle in its formative stages was immense and critical. He was General Secretary and therefore leader of the South African Communist Party for 40 years, from 1939 until his death in 1978. Kotane joined the Party in 1929, eight years after it was formed in 1921. His growth in the Party was organic. It was anchored in revolutionary activism, including as a worker and a trade unionist.

Two years before Kotane joined the Party, in February 1927, James La Guma, the Communist Party Chairperson from Cape Town was delegated to attend the Congress of the League against Imperialism in Brussels, Belgium. He was accompanied by the ANC delegate, J.T. Gumede. After the Congress, Gumede went to Germany where he was enthusiastically received at a rally of 10 000 German communist militants. He returned to South Africa as a firm friend of the communists. And in June 1927 he was elected ANC President. A Party member, E.J. Khaile was elected as Secretary-General. In November 1927, La Guma and Gumede made another joint trip, this time to the Soviet Union. This trip was to have far reaching consequences for both the Party and the ANC. Gumede returned in February 1928. Addressing a large crowd in Cape Town which had come to welcome him he said:

"I have seen the new world to come, where it has already begun. I have been to the New Jerusalem. I have brought the key which would unlock the door to freedom." (Quoted by Dr Raymond van Diemel in I Have Seen the New Jerusalem: Revisiting and re-conceptualising Josiah T. Gumede and Jimmy La Guma`s USSR visit of 1927 (2001))

Gumede`s affection to socialism attracted other forces that were already at work within the ANC. The conservative wing could not - and did not - remain neutral to the remarks and development of Gumede. One chief warned

"The Tsar was a great man in his country, of royal blood like us chiefs and where is he now? If the ANC continues to fraternize with them [the communists] we chiefs cannot continue to belong to it." (Quoted in the Biography of J.T. Gumede, www.anc.org.za).

Another chief said:

"It will be a sad day for me when I am ruled by the man who milks my cow and ploughs my field." (Quoted in the Biography of J.T. Gumede, www.anc.org.za)

I am highlighting this because some of the problems we are facing today are not brand new, but are a repetition of certain mistakes that were committed in the past and almost destroyed the ANC.

In 1930, Gumede was removed from the position of ANC President, and the position was taken over by Pixley ka Isaka Seme. Under Seme`s leadership, the ANC dwindled and almost disappeared: It was revived in 1937. This was a period of the biggest, longest and severe capitalist crisis, the Great Depression, which erupted in 1929 and last for at least ten years until 1939.

Another similarity between that period and the present one is that we are facing a crisis not only of political leadership but also of a capitalist economic system. As a result of the ongoing crisis, in few years just after its eruption in 2007/8 one million workers in our country were retrenched and lost their jobs, class inequality widened and poverty entrenched.

We are therefore facing a double challenge.

Firstly, we must resolve the crisis of political and organisational leadership that facing our movement and country. We must rescue our movement from the internal bleeding that it is suffering from. It is as a result of the bleeding that a compromised attitude towards the needs of the people because of the dominance of private interests has entrenched. We cannot afford a situation where, like during the Great Depression, our movement dwindles. The repeat of that situation will result in terminal consequences for the national democratic revolution. It will push back our country and continent to a pre-1994 situation. This is because, the main opposition in our country is made up of a political party that has, as part of its constituency, untransformed fellows who supported and enjoyed white privilege during apartheid. The world outlook of these fellows is not that of the African revolution and the international struggle of the historically oppressed and exploited to overcome imperialism. They are a point of entry for more imperialist domination.

Secondly, we must solve the problems facing our people and serve them selflessly. The core of these problems, including racialised and gendered class inequality, unemployment and poverty, corruption and crime, corporate capture and rent-seeking, patronage and factionalism, are essentially the systemic products of capitalist dominance, its system of exploitation of labour by capital, its crisis and destructive competition, including fights for positions of leadership motivated by private interests.

This is the context in which, after a thorough assessment of both the symptoms and root causes of the problems plunging our movement and country in one crisis and blunder after another, we arrived at the difficult decision that President Jacob Zuma must help salvage our revolution, must contribute to rescuing our movement, by resigning. There is just no way we can re-inspire confidence in our movement and government and win back lost ground under the President`s leadership.

To expect that we can turn the tide against the entrenching trust deficit; that we can regain lost ground; that we can convince the people we will stop corruption and corporate capture under the President`s leadership is unreasonable.

Let me reiterate that this is not the struggle against an individual. It is not an anti-Zuma struggle. Let us recall what the ANC in its own words said about the very challenge that we are facing in its Strategy and Tactics (adopted at its 50th National Conference, Mahikeng, 1997).

"In some instances what is hailed in the private sector as "black empowerment" is symbolic and devoid of real substance. There are possibilities that some of these forces are dictated to by foreign or local big capital on whom they rely for their advancement. There are possibilities too, that the path to riches for some can be directly via public office, sometimes through corrupt practices. Though such instances may be an exception to the norm, experience in other countries has taught us that, without vigilance, elements of these new capitalist classes can become witting or unwitting tools of monopoly interests, or parasites who thrive on corruption in public office."

What was seen as "an exception to the norm" has become the norm. We therefore seek to instil political will at all levels, starting at the top echelons, to put our house in order. This is a condition to confront what has become a structural problem destroying our movement from within like cancer. There is no way we will succeed to replace private corporate, personal, family interests and networks of patronage with, and to re-assert the interests of the people as a whole (the majority of whom is the working class and poor) while we are led by a compromised leadership that is either implicated or complicit in the problems we seek to solve.

Lastly, and related to all of the issues we have raised, let us look at the very important issue of patriotism, which is we need to build in defence of our democratic national sovereignty. Asked in an interview on 28 May 2014 by the "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams whether he saw himself as a patriot Edward Snowden had this to say:

"Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen from... the violations of an - and encroachments of adversaries. And those adversaries don`t have to be foreign countries. They can be bad policies. They can be officials who... need a little bit more accountability. They can be mistakes of government and - ...simple overreach... - and things that - ...should never have been tried, or... that went wrong."

Snowden is a United States (US) computer professional and former Central Intelligence Agency operative and contractor to the US government. He released classified files in 2013 revealing spying by the US government on other governments. He was later charged and eventually secured asylum in Russia after he travelled to that country from Hong Kong having left his job in the US.

Today we ourselves are facing what was unthinkable, the abuse of our own state organs to target comrades who are opposed to the rot that is destroying our movement and driving our country astray. We also cannot afford a situation where a comrade, Dr Makhosi Khoza for example, is prevented to visit her own children by threats of taking violent mobilisation to her door steps.

When we say we must defend our movement and national democratic revolution we mean not only against the external enemy but internally comrades gone wrong as well. This is a patriotic duty.

The South African Council of Churches Unburdening Panel report

We must indicate that we are very worried about the Unburdening Panel report released this week by the South African Council of Churches (SACC) of the state of capture of our government.

The report among others finds that there is a parallel state to that one we know that takes decisions and implements them through the one we know.

Corruption has deepened to the extent that we believe that the ANC (national executive committee) should take immediate action taking the report seriously (as we do).

The report has gone beyond the Public Protector`s `State of Capture` report.

The SACP-convened National Imbizo

We convened a National Imbizo from Friday to Saturday 19-20 May to reflect on the primary and secondary challenges facing our movement and country and both the symptoms and root causes of our problems as a nation.

The National Imbizo agreed to a declaration calling for immediate implementation of a judicial commission of inquiry into corporate state capture. The declaration called for the disbandment of the existing Eskom board because of the governance decay has found its way in its modus operandi. Linked with this, the National Imbizo called for the irregular re-appointment of former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe back to that position to be reversed with immediate effect.

Last but not least, it was agreed that the National Imbizo should not end up as a talk sure but that is must directly lead to a broad front of progressive forces supporting our democratic transition to fight against corruption and corporate capture in defence of the independence and democratic national sovereignty of our country. This social movement and mass-based mobilisation will prioritise as part of its objectives efforts to tackle inequality, unemployment and poverty.
Submission of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) to the SACP-convened National Imbizo
19-20 May 2017, Boksburg

Organised business (represented by BUSA and BLSA) would like to propose the following resolutions for the SACP Imbizo to consider:

Business stands for a South Africa where:

The Constitution is the foundation of our society, polity and economy; a society where the Constitution is respected, our state and Chapter 9 institutions are independent from external influence, and the rule of law is respected and prevails.

The state is strong and capable.

Acknowledgment that an inclusive economy can only be built on the foundation of a thriving business sector. You can`t be "pro-poor and anti-business".

We are not party political, we are not anti-ANC, we are not interested in regime change, or internal ANC factional battles. Business requires political stability, and this requires a strong ANC and Alliance.

We are patriots and are ready and willing to play our role in building the progressive vision for the country envisaged in the Constitution.

We can only achieve South Africa`s potential if the state, business, labour and civil society work hand-in-hand.

1. We note with grave concern that:

Our country and democracy have been put up for sale;

A "Shadow State" serving the interests of a small kleptocratic elite is in the advanced stages of the systematic capture of our "Democratic State";

Our democratic state institutions at all levels have been hollowed;

The Constitution is continuously being subverted;

Our economy is stagnating and we risk decline, with devastating social consequences.

Our economy excludes millions of South Africans who can`t find work, the level of inequality is unacceptably high, many of our people live in abject poverty and we have not succeeded in deracialising our economy.

2. Business would support a resolution that, we:

Reject what is happening to our democracy and not to allow the present situation to become "the new normal".

Mobilise a broad civil society alliance against State Capture;

Call for the immediate appointment of a credible, independent judicial enquiry into all aspects of the State of Capture Report;

No further work is done with respect to the nuclear programme until there is an updated, least-cost IRP16 which is affordable and broadly accepted by all stakeholders;

Call for the dissolution of the Eskom Board, the appointment of a new credible, respected and non-partisan board led by an experienced chairperson, and the appointment of a new CEO and executive management. Although Eskom is the top priority, this process must be quickly followed by resolving the governance, management and financial challenges of SAA, Denel and the SABC.

Seek an agreement on how SA can achieve sustained levels of higher economic growth whilst distributing the benefits amongst all South Africans, as quickly as possible eradicating unemployment, poverty and racial and gender income inequality.

Organised business has resolved that it is not the place of business to call on the President to resign. That is a matter for the ANC and its Alliance partners and for Parliament. adrian@yellowwoods.biz
Declaration of the SACP-Convened National Imbizo
19 - 20 May 2017, Birchwood Hotel, Boksburg

In the context of deepening, society wide concern about challenges of leadership, moral decay and multiple social and economic crises, the SACP convened a National Imbizo. The Imbizo was attended by more than 230 participants drawn from 33 organisations including the SACP, ANC, COSATU, SANCO, ANC stalwarts and veterans, YCL SA, JHB Against Injustice, Business Leadership South Africa, Save South Africa, various components of the community constituency in NEDLAC and grass-roots activists. The Imbizo also received an important presentation from the South African Council of Churches` (SACC`s) unburdening panel and shared their concerns on state capture.

Notwithstanding the diversity of the participants present, we all broadly agreed about the nature of the challenges facing our country and the imperative of developing a common minimum platform. The important gains we made collectively as South Africans from the mid 1990`s in terms of building a unifying sense of nationhood, a vibrant non-racial democracy and a progressive constitution are now under threat. Despite many advances, we have not effectively responded to the persisting social and economic crises in which the majority of South Africans find themselves. The ability to fundamentally transform society is now being corroded by systemic corruption in both the public and private sectors.

The National Imbizo adopted a minimum platform of action that is anchored on the following demands:

The urgent appointment of an independent judicial commission of enquiry into state capture which was the key remedial action required by the Public Protector.

Urgent attention to ensuring good corporate governance and adherence to developmental mandates and public interest priorities in state owned entities. In particular we call for the dissolution of the Eskom Board and the reversal of the irregular reappointment of the Eskom CEO.

An immediate end to the abuse and factionalising of the criminal justice system notably the Hawks, the NPA, and the intelligence services. Important attention also needs to be paid to rebuilding public trust in SAPS and SARS. This trust is being eroded by a perception that those responsible for arresting, prosecuting and convicting those implicated in corrupt activities are either selective or are lax in executing their duties.

Strengthen the oversight role of parliament.

Support and call for immediate implementation of the alliance`s own decision for lifestyle audits of public representatives.

Halting the roll out of the Nuclear New Build programme pending the conclusion of consultations on the IRP 16.

We commit to campaign to promote the constitutional values of non-racialism, to fight against xhenophobia and tribalism. We further commit to fight against the epidemic of gender based violence. We accept that we all have the responsibility to self introspect, to reflect on our own shortcomings and to deal decisively with internal weaknesses.

Those of us from mass formations and grassroots organsiations undertake to mobilise at a popular level and to make the connection between the diversion of public resources through state capture and weaknesses in addressing the challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

We commit to raising this minimum programme and these perspectives in our own constituencies and to promote the initiatives we undertook this weekend. We will maintain a broad network of those gathered here and work to include others committed to the defence of our constitutional democracy.
COSATU Special CEC Statement
22 May 2017

The Congress of South African Trade Unions convened a one day Special Central Executive Committee meeting {SCEC} yesterday to analyse the 2017 National May Day celebrations, prepare for the Alliance Political Council and also finalise the preparations for the upcoming COSATU Central Committee {COSATU CC} that will be convened next week, 29 May -1st June 2017.

Amongst a number of things that the Central Committee {CC} will do is to make an assessment of the implementation of our 12th National Congress resolutions and campaigns. We will also use it to prepare for the Policy Conference of the ANC and the upcoming Congress of the SACP. The central focus of our work though is to build our organisation so that we are able to defend the gains of the workers and also better represent the dreams and aspirations of the workers and the working class with confidence.

The SCEC engaged in robust discussions reflecting on the current political landscape as well as on how the federation should respond to critical and strategic organisational matters. The meeting agreed that we need to work to maintain our internal stability as a federation to ensure that we work towards ensuring that there is continuous stability within COSATU and all our affiliates.

COSATU remains clear and totally understand that workers remain the lifeblood of the federation and that they represent the very essence of our existence. This therefore means that we need to dedicate all our time and efforts towards properly servicing our membership at all material times.

The SCEC acknowledged with a deep sense of distress and unease that the broader revolutionary movement is bleeding due to wide divisions and factionalism that continues to eat at the fabric and erode the very soul of the movement.

Unfortunately this political disintegration combined with the deepening socio-economic crisis, lack of strategic oversight and leadership in government has resulted in the workers and working class in general suffering the most. This has the potential of reversing the gains of the revolution.

The meeting reiterated our position that in all of our engagements, we should continue to be guided by our class interests and that we should not abandon our class position. Our strategic enemy remains monopoly capital and white monopoly capital in particular. This is based on our own practical experiences and not wishful thinking or abstract theoretical conceptions. The strategic task of the NDR remains that of resolving the fundamental contradictions of Colonialism of a Special Type and Apartheid as a direct route to Socialism. In this regard, the Special CEC insisted that the ANC led alliance and COSATU and the SACP must be more coherent than at any other time in the history of our struggle.

We remain steadfastly opposed to Neo liberalism as an economic philosophy and will continue to ceaselessly fight free market acolytes and true believers both inside and outside the movement. The meeting reaffirmed our position that we should work to strengthen the unity of COSATU because that is the only weapon that will not just help us survive our enemies but also help us to destroy them.

The SCEC strongly condemned the recent spates of abuse and killings of women, children, LGBT Community and joined the call for stronger actions and stiffer sentences against the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. This calls not only for imaginative legislation and reinforcement of the training of law enforcement agencies in dealing with these issues but also for the unity of all social partners in fighting this scourge. Government should consider setting up a special investigations unit, including a special court that will deal with this matter. If we could do it for the 2010 World Cup, we should be able to do it for our vulnerable citizens.

May Day assessment

The SCEC saluted and congratulated the thousands of workers, who participated in this year's COSATU May Day celebrations. The meeting acknowledged that this year's mobilisation, overall turnout and broader participation by workers in our May Day activities showed a remarkable improvement. This shows that our decision to decentralise and take May Day celebrations and marches back to workers and near their localities was the right one.

We congratulate all our members for showing remarkable discipline and all our affiliates for making sure all those workers, who attended the events and remained safe throughout the celebrations. COSATU held about sixteen rallies all across the country and all of them were successful and well attended. The SCEC noted what happened in Bloemfontein and in some areas of the country, where some leaders of the ANC were booed.

The meeting concluded that some of what happened in these May Day events reflects the level of frustration that is felt by workers about the absence of leadership in the country and the deteriorating state of our political situation. May Day remains a carnival and fiesta of the oppressed and while it is always characterized by discipline and a celebratory atmosphere; it is also a platform for workers to register their unhappiness and dissatisfaction about the failures of those who hold political and economic power.

The SCEC meeting condemned the divisive actions by some leaders of the ANC, who attempted to rent crowds in Bloemfontein in order to disrupt and hijack our national event in Free State. We shall raise sharply some of these concerns, when we meet with our Alliance partners in the soon to be convened Alliance Political Council meeting.

The SCEC also took time to deal with the sentiments expressed by some of our members before May Day, who felt that allowing President Jacob Zuma to address our May Day event in Bloemfontein was inconsistent with our position calling for him to step down. In helping to interpret and clarify this resolution ,the SCEC agreed with the position of the workers that the decision to allow Cde Jacob Zuma was not consistent with our position that we no longer trusted and supported his leadership and that he must step down. The meeting ultimately resolved that going forward, in respect of the mandate from the workers and in line with the SCEC resolution for him to step down; President Jacob Zuma will no longer be welcome to address COSATU activities. This shall be communicated to the ANC, including engaging on its implications for our alliance.

COSATU remains very much committed to the Alliance but we want an Alliance which is at the centre of driving the National Democratic Revolution and that collectively develops policy in line with our vision in the Freedom charter.

We will continue to fight to have an Alliance, which is conscious that the primary task in this phase of our transition is to resolve the colonial and apartheid contradictions based on radical economic transformation.

We also remain a reliable ally of the ANC. We want to see an ANC that will not only rediscover its mass character but that will use its organisational mass power to assert a people driven and a people centred development; instead of using it to fight internal factional battles to get people elected to positions of power. Organisational mass power should be seen as a strategic element to drive the NDR, not reduced into a tool to be used for patronage.

Preparations for the Central Committee

The meeting received a report that shows that the preparations for the Central Committee meeting next week are progressing well. Whatever pockets of challenges that might exist in the federation, the SCEC appreciated the fact that we go to the CC with overwhelming evidence that many of the COSATU unions are on the ground leading struggles of workers .It is also encouraging to note that affiliates have continued to be on the ground leading workers struggles from the front taking forward the Back to Basic Campaign as adopted by the 12th National Congress.

The most recent 2015 Annual Industrial Action report from the Department of labour has clearly shown that COSATU affiliates' have been busy since the last congress leading struggles on the ground. We are also involved in the process of intervening in some of our affiliates that are experiencing internal problems and we can assure members that COSATU remains committed to building stronger unions, with the capacity to better service them.

The issues to be debated by the CC will be broad and wide-ranging but we have some key focus areas that will receive our attention at the meeting. Workers can expect the meeting to reflect on a number of issues including the following:

1. Global balance of forces and fight against capitalist globalisation

The Central Committee shall take stock of the challenges facing the working class in the international terrain and also critically examine the problems facing our own revolution. We shall use this meeting to reflect on the global political situation and link that with our national political developments in order to better understand the balance of forces locally and around the world. This is crucial if we are to develop correct strategies and tactics to defend the working class against the capitalist onslaught.

Currently there is unequal distribution of wealth in the world, with the rich 10% of the population owning about 90% of the world's wealth; 71% of the population lives on less than R100 a day; 780 million people have no access to clean drinking water; 2.5 billion people no health facilities and 3.5 million people die from hunger every year. The world capitalist system not only drives unequal development but also slows down the growth of all world economies, sharpening all its social contradictions.

2. Unity of the federation and Solidarity among workers

In the 2015 Special National Congress we declared that "we want to unequivocally declare that we want unity of COSATU. This federation remains a home of all workers and workers will be better organised under the leadership of COSATU.

In the 12th National Congress we declared that "we must move with speed to implement the resolution of the 11th congress..... This we shall do as part of returning to the outcomes of our 2013 Collective Bargaining, Organising and Campaigns Conference, whose organisational tasks, combined with the resolutions of this 12th congress shall be part of the Organisational Building and Development Programme of our new medium-term strategic plan, building on what we have achieved in terms of the 2015 Plan".

We shall therefore use the CC meeting to reflect on whether we have succeeded in ensuring that our COSATU remains grounded on the traditions of strong shop floor organisation and militant struggles for worker rights and collective bargaining. We shall reflect and assess the work that has been done to ensure that this federation remains a democratic organisation controlled by workers, whose approach and overall orientation continues to be based on campaigns that incorporate broader social issues. We shall also do an assessment of our work in building alliances with community organizations, progressive political movements and progressive academics, etc.

We shall also be dealing with the challenges that relates to the new type of work, vulnerable workers and informal sector which is growing daily. The future of work is bringing another dimension to our organizing work and we need to shift from our traditional/conventional ways of doing things to accommodate this new phenomenon. To do this we need to build and strengthen the engines of COSATU and the CC shall help us asses the progress in this area and also plan the way forward.

According to the Human Development Report (UNDP) of 2015, globalisation and technological development have resulted in transformation of the workplace and the nature of work is set to change further with advent of the so called 4th Industrial Revolution, which is based on digital technology, advanced robotics and automation and smart factories, where human intervention is minimal. About 200 000 robots are sold every year around the world and the largest purchasers of these robots is the automotive sector, which is one of the largest exporting sectors in most countries. Jobs that are likely to be affected include tellers, title examiners, order clerks, cargo and freight agents, etc. We shall be discussing these issues and coming with proposals and the way forward.

We also go to the Central Committee to account to the workers and the working class about the extent to which COSATU has been able to wage a relentless struggle against monopoly capital in general and white monopoly capital in particular.

3. Radical Economic Transformation and the fight against piecemeal reform

We go to the CC clear that radical economic transformation will not happen through public declarations or through wishful thinking. It will also not take place in an environment that is dominated by white-monopoly capital and imperialism and in which the ANC is at its weakest state since 1994 and remains deeply divided.

We have also noted that some comrades in the ANC talk about radical economic transformation as if they are not in power and this level of helplessness does not inspire confidence on workers.

As COSATU ,we shall remain vigilant to make sure that a second more radical phase of our Transition is not used to mean transformation that either seeks to consolidate the capitalist mode of production or to amend the national accumulation strategy without fundamentally transforming the underlying property relations, and without effecting a fundamental shift in ideological orientation.

In this context, we argue that the Second more radical Transition cannot and must not be predicated on the National Development Plan. The fact is that the revolutionary class forces, especially the primary motive force, the working class, does not share the neo-liberal approach of the NDP, which seeks to effect cosmetic changes to Colonialism of a Special Type, by consolidating and perfecting the mechanisms of the capitalist mode of production and imperialist domination.

We also go to the CC to resolve that a Second more radical phase of our Transition must not be predicated on a fallacious notion of an attempt to separate GEAR from neo-liberalism. Neoliberalism is characterised by the reduced role of the state in the economy, privatization, trade and financial liberalisation, labour market de-regulation, restrained fiscal policy, inflation-targeting as the overriding goal of monetary policy and central bank independence.

We shall also deal with the reality that while the National Treasury is run by deployees of our movement; it has positioned itself as a political hub to force through the neo-liberal economic policy trajectory. In our view the National Treasury is not run by our country, but it is run by foreign institutions whose agenda stands in opposition to the policies taken by the movement.

It is the National Treasury which rammed through the youth wage subsidy against our wish, a policy which was not even the ANC policy.
It is the National Treasury which openly came out against the implementation of the National Health Insurance. It is the National Treasury which for many years has frustrated the implementation of a Comprehensive Social Security System.
It is the National Treasury which attempted and failed to ram through the Taxation Laws Amendment Act,
We also shall discuss the National Treasury and its role in how the PIC uses workers' pension Funds
Our failure as a movement to fundamentally transform the colonial and apartheid economy
We shall also discuss the decline in the Share of workers' wages in the National income.

4. An urgent need to convene a Job Summit and a fight against severe rise in unemployment

The South African economy continues to shed jobs particularly in the primary sectors; agriculture and mining, which should be the engines of growth. COSATU shall use the CC meeting to discuss the fact that the Labour Relations Act in sections 189 and 189A contain flexible labour laws that favour employers. These sections state that employers have a right to dismiss workers for various reasons including the lack of economic growth, decrease in the market shares, imports, introduction of technology and improved working methods. Courts have interpreted this flexibility to mean that employers can dismiss workers in order to increase their profits. In essence workers cannot protect or defend themselves against these 'lawful retrenchments.'

As of March 2017 there are close to 9 million people who are unemployed. The number of people who are the recipients of social grants (currently about 17 million) is now exceeding the number of the people who have work (about 15 million). This is clear indication of the failure of government to preserve current jobs and to put in place viable job creating policies.

The CC shall also discuss the fact that government has come up with policy interventions including the industrial policy action plans and special economic zones. However, these policies tend to favour big capital projects and foreign companies than local and small companies.

The process of establishing factories and reviving industrial parks in the former TBVC states or homelands is progressing at a snail's pace. The failure to transform the productive sector has resulted in government incentives being channelled to mainly white companies and factories being concentrated in coastal cities; Cape Town and Durban and in Gauteng which is unacceptable because SA has 9 provinces. The inputs and final products that used in the infrastructure projects such as steel have been imported rather than produced locally.

The meeting also expressed shock and deep concern at the decision of General Motors to disinvest in the country, a decision that will result in thousands of workers losing their jobs. COSATU continues to argue that foreign direct investment is based on accumulation of profits using cheap raw materials and cheap labour. FDI will move to any country as long as their profits can be guaranteed. The GMSA statement is clear that its profits in SA might be in danger of falling to lower levels.

The disinvestment by GMSA is a setback and a blow to the objective of industrialisation and creation of jobs. We are currently having at least 9 million people without jobs and therefore, the disinvestment will create more problems than solutions.

One of the unmentioned reasons for the disinvestment by GMSA is the question of lack of leadership which has been raised by rating agencies. They have raised the issue that foreign investors will not invest until there is new leader whom they can trust. Whilst the issue of leadership is currently a challenge it is regrettable that GMSA may be using politics to deal with business challenges.

Multinational companies remain loyal to their own countries. Therefore, the long term challenge is to develop the auto sector in such a way that it is owned and controlled by locals. The current model of FDI which implies importing and exporting foreign produced goods for local assembly is not sustainable. We are going to the CC to make a call to government to ensure that auto sector is transformed and locally owned by worker owned companies. Our economy will remain vulnerable to changes in global market condition if SA does not develop locally owned automotive companies. This is a clarion call that SA needs its own auto industry. Relying on multinational auto companies is not sustainable in the long term.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Mobile: 060 975 6794
E-Mail: sizwe@cosatu.org.za