Friday, April 20, 2018

Angola Seeks to Renegotiate Foreign Debt
20 April 2018

Angola is trying to renegotiate its foreign debt, which at the end of last year reached 62.8% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Secretary of State for Economy and Planning, Neto Costa said in Washington, according to the Voice of America.

Neto Costa told a conference of potential investors organised by the World Bank and the United States Angola Chamber of Commerce that the ratio of debt service to tax revenues was 89.4% at the end of last year, and Jornal de Angola reported that more recent figures showed that Angola’s debt may have already reached 67% of GDP.

The Angolan government announced this week it had requested the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but limited to the coordination of economic policies to assist in “implementing the government’s programme of macro-economic stabilisation.”

The newspaper also quoted Neto Costa as saying that Angola’s foreign exchange reserves have been falling since 2013, when they were valued at about US$31 billion, to just over US$13 billion last year.

The governor of the National Bank of Angola told the conference that Angola needs to diversify its economy, as 95% of its resources come from oil sales and the country spends US$250 million per month to import food, for example.

(macauhub)
Namibia: Angola's Lourenço to Attend Cassinga Day
Windhoek — Angolan President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço has accepted an invitation by President Hage Geingob to pay a state visit to Namibia and participate in the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Cassinga massacre.

The attack, in which about 900 Namibian refugees were killed by apartheid South African troops in 1978, happened on Angolan soil during Namibia's liberation struggle.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, has confirmed that Lourenço would be in the country from May 3 to 5.

This year's national commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Cassinga massacre will take place at the Heroes Acre in the capital.

Nandi-Ndaitwah said during the commemoration Lourenço would lay a wreath at the Heroes Acre and participate in the commemoration as guest of honour.

She said the Namibian heroes and heroines, who lost their lives during the attack on Cassinga and Vietnam camps, would always be remembered.

"These massacres will remain sacred in the collective national memory of present and future generations," she said in a press statement on Wednesday.

She also invited all Cassinga survivors and other fellow Namibians to attend the national commemoration.

On May 4, 1978, the then South African apartheid regime attacked the Cassinga refugee camp and killed hundreds of Namibian civilians. Hundreds of Angolans were also callously killed in that attack.

At the same time, an attack also took place at Vietnam camp. Many of the Cuban internationalists, who were attempting to rescue the Namibian civilians, were also killed.

President Hage Geingob and Founding Father Sam Nujoma last year attended the inauguration ceremony.

Lourenço is Angola's third president.

A former defence minister, Lourenço succeeded President João Eduardo dos Santos, who served as the head of state since 1979 following the death of Angola's founding president, Augustinho Neto.
CASSINGA MASSACRE 40TH ANNIVERSARY TO TAKE PLACE AT HEROES ACRE
Posted by Mandisa Rasmeni
Namibia Economist
Apr 20, 2018

The country will be commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Cassinga Massacre on 4 May at Heroes Deputy Prime Minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah has invited all Cassinga survivors and the public to attend the national commemoration.

“As we pay tribute to these heroes and heroines, who have paid the ultimate sacrifice that has brought about our freedom and independence and this is why we have decided to commemorate this Anniversary at a National level,” she said.

According to Nandi-Ndaitwah in solidarity with the local people in commemorating this tragic day in the history of the Namibian struggle, Gonçalves Lourenço, President of Angola has accepted the invitation of Dr. Hage Geingob, to pay a State Visit to Namibia from 3 to 5 May and participate in the commemoration of the Cassinga Massacre.

“During the Commemoration, the President of Angola will lay a wreath at Heroes Acre and participate as Guest of Honour at the commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of Cassinga massacre, as a nation we will always remember the Namibian heroes and heroines who lost their lives during the attack and this massacre will remain sacred in the collective national memory of present and future generations” she added.

On 4 May 1978 the then South African apartheid regime attacked the Cassinga Refugee Camp and killed thousands of Namibian civilians and hundreds of Angolans were also killed in that attack. An attack also took place at Vietnam Camp where many of the Cuban internationalists who were attempting to come to the rescue of the Namibian civilians were also killed.
Mam` Winnie Mandela - A Fearless Revolutionary! A Product of Mass Struggle and Indipensable Voice of the Marginalised!
03 April 2018

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) joins millions of the youth of South Africa and the world in mourning the sad passing of our Mother of the Nation, cde Nomzamo Winnifred Mandela, one of the fearless revolutionaries, a dedicated product of mass struggles and an indispensable voice of the marginalized.

Mam`Winnie Mandela was one of the most decorated figures of our struggle for national liberation, people`s power and democracy. The youth of South Africa identified with her struggles; banishments; torture and detention not because of her 38-year marriage to the colossal and towering figure of our struggle President Nelson Mandela, but identified with her struggles partly because she was an independent leader in her own right, who fearlessly mobilised the masses against the heinous Apartheid regime.

She became a powerful voice of the exiled African National Congress (ANC) inside the country under hostile conditions. She provided refuge to the many young activists that identified with the ANC when it was not popular to hoist high the colours of the ANC during years of illegality. And she was a Mother of Courage to the many families who lost their loved ones in the hands of the enemy and apartheid regime.

It was through her tireless struggles, unflinching loyalty to the cause and militancy that earned her the accolade of being the "Mother of the Nation". She has been a voice of courage and a symbol of daily struggles of poverty, hunger, unemployment and landlessness experienced by the youth and marginalized post the 1994 democratic breakthrough.

One country has lost one of its dedicated and exemplary women leaders. She departs at the very critical phase of our struggle to unite the People`s Camp and the broader Alliance for the successful triumph of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR). She remains one of the decorated and celebrated liberation icon, wherever she is in the nooks and crannies of the universe, she is now in the great company of women icons that contributed immensely for our freedom, such as Mme Albertina Sisulu; Josie Mpama; Jabulile Ndlovu; Ruth First; Miriam Makeba, just to mention a few.

Mam`Winnie Mandela will always occupy a special place in the hearts and minds of the ANCYL and broader membership base. We will continue to celebrate her indelible contribution to our struggle through agitating and fighting for an end to youth unemployment and fight forcefully that free education is not reserved but funded by the State in the interest of a Black and African poor child.

In memory of this great servant of our people, a dedicated soldier for social justice, we call on the ANC-led government to revisit its decision to increase VAT by 1%. Any increase of VAT is a frontal attack to the working class and the poor, who are seized with the socio-economic burden of taking care of the vast army of the unemployed, especially the rural and urban youth ravaged by poverty, as a result of de-invest strike by Capital.

We extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends, colleagues and the ANC led Alliance. Through her militancy, in words and in action, she inspired many generations of youth to join the fight against murderous apartheid regime. Even after political liberation, she continued to be a source of inspiration for young people, particularly women, in the revolutionary struggle for socio-economic emancipation. She will continue to be a source of inspiration for many years to come.

The ANCYL will always remember you. In times like these we are reminded of many songs we will continue to sing. In times like these we know and we expect people to be saying good and bad things about you and your life. As they share bad news we will always keep in our minds the words of Shakespeare when he says, "The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones".

Contact:
Mlondolozi Mkhize
African National Congress Youth League
National Spokesperson
Mobile: 073 011 4676
Give Land to South Africa’s Dispossessed
David Pilling
Financial Times
APRIL 18, 2018

Cyril Ramaphosa has called it the “original sin”. South Africa’s new president has pledged to correct “the violent dispossession of our people’s land”. That dispossession reached its height in 1913 when the Native Land Act set aside a miserable 7 per cent of terrain for four-fifths of the population. That segregationist act merely formalised a de facto policy that had gradually dispossessed black farmers, turning them into a rootless proletariat forced to work as cheap labour in gold and diamond mines. If all property is theft, the larceny in South Africa has been colour-coded for everyone to see.

Talk of land reform is back on the agenda in South Africa. In February, a matter of days into Mr Ramaphosa’s presidency, the African National Congress launched a review of the constitution that would allow more explicitly for expropriation of land without compensation. In doing so, it has buckled to pressure from the breakaway and radical Economic Freedom Fighters. It has also raised fears that South Africa could now go the way of Zimbabwe: driving whites off the land, spooking investors, wrecking the economy and endangering the country’s self-sufficiency in food.

Those fears are overdone. South Africa, for all its structural problems and festering injustice, is far from being a Zimbabwe. For one thing, it is Africa’s most urban society, with at least two-thirds of the population living in cities. For another, it has strong institutions that have weathered an assault by Jacob Zuma, the former president. Under Mr Ramaphosa, it is now in the hands of an arch constitutionalist.

The post-apartheid constitution already allows for land expropriation. Clause 25 permits property to be expropriated “for a public purpose or in the public interest”, a definition that could easily mean righting the wrongs of South Africa under white minority rule.

In practice, the ANC has hardly used the clause at its disposal. Far from doing too much land reform, it has done too little. Twenty-four years after the end of apartheid, there are still no clear records of who owns land, but even Agri SA, an industry group more optimistic than most about post-1994 transformation, estimates that 73.3 per cent of land is owned by whites, who make up just 8.4 per cent of the population.

Land reform is not only morally justified, it is socially and economically necessary

Ruth Hall, a professor at the University of the Western Cape, argues that, by contrast to the excellent property rights enjoyed under the ANC by whites, blacks have been less fortunate. The government routinely pushes people out of informal settlements and about 2m tenant farmers have been displaced.

“Expropriation of land rights without compensation is happening on an ongoing basis,” she says. “But it is poor and black people whose rights are being expropriated.”

Land reform is not only morally justified, it is socially and economically necessary. In per capita terms, Mr Zuma’s tenure constituted a near lost decade. Asian-style double-digit growth looks all but impossible, even under decent management. That leaves redistribution as one way of addressing entrenched imbalances resulting from an apartheid system that deliberately impoverished the black majority.

All over Africa — and in other parts of the developing world — land is not being put to work owing to the fact that it is not owned by those who occupy it. Rundassa Eshete, an Ethiopian critic of the government in Addis Ababa, calls it “dead capital”.

Farmers are not incentivised to work land they do not own. Nor can they use it as collateral to borrow. Much of China’s economic miracle came about by spiriting private property out of the “dead capital” of collectivised farms. Parcelling up land to smallholders was, as Joseph Studwell has written in How Asia Works, the foundation of economic take-off in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

Urban South Africa cannot repeat exactly the same trick. Not many blacks living in cities want to farm. That does not make land reform impossible. Many black South Africans live in peri-urban informal settlements to which they have no title. Some occupy city centre buildings long abandoned by landlords. In the countryside, many black farmers live a precarious existence on land owned by others, in many cases traditional leaders. The priority should be to formalise such arrangements. Giving title deeds or other official claims to those now landless would have a potent symbolic, as well as economic, impact.

Sensibly handled, land reform need look nothing like Zimbabwe. Mr Ramaphosa has been blamed by some for yielding to the ultra-left. In fact, he is yielding to the inevitability of history. If the ANC does not grasp the nettle, others will.

Follow on Twitter: @davidpilling
South Africa: Ramaphosa to 'Lend a Hand' in Mahikeng
President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken his own call to "lend a hand" and "send me" by convening an urgent meeting on Friday over protests in Mahikeng.

On Thursday evening, he announced he was cutting his visit to the UK short to intervene, bringing to mind the Hugh Masekela song he quoted during his inaugural State of the Nation Address earlier this year.

Ramaphosa had been participating in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London where he led a government delegation.

The meeting at 12:00 on Friday will be convened with structures of the African National Congress, the party's leagues, alliance members and the ANC caucus in the North West.

Ramaphosa will be accompanied by ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte and ANC national executive committee members.

Violence broke out in Mahikeng on Wednesday night when protesters took to the streets to call for the removal of Premier Supra Mahumapelo.

Vehicles were also set alight.

Call for calm, restraint

Protests against Mahumapelo brought the town to a standstill on Thursday as burning tyres and rocks were used to barricade the road.

Provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Adele Myburgh said 16 people had been arrested since the protests started.

Her colleague, Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone, said a man was shot dead during a high-speed chase with police in Mahikeng on Thursday but that it was not linked to the unrest.

He said the chase followed a robbery at one of the hotels in town.

Ramaphosa has called for calm and asked all aggrieved parties to "express their grievances through peaceful means and engagement rather than violence and anarchy".

He also called on law enforcement agencies to exercise maximum restraint in executing their duties to return calm and normality to the province.

Source: News24
Introduction of Minimum Wage in South Africa Delayed, Ministry Says
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The introduction of a national minimum wage of 20 rand ($1.66) an hour in South Africa could be delayed by up to two months as parliament is yet to approve necessary draft legislation, a spokesman for the labor ministry said on Friday.

The minimum wage - a policy championed by President Cyril Ramaphosa as an important step to tackle labor instability and wage inequality - was approved by the cabinet in November and meant to be introduced on May 1.

Supporters of the minimum wage say it will reduce inequality and stimulate economic growth as workers can spend more.

But critics say it could lead to increased unemployment, already at record highs, with some employers unable to afford higher wage bills.

Labor ministry spokesman Teboho Thejane said the ministry was focused on getting the minimum wage introduced.

“The minimum wage will definitely be implemented. But it could be delayed by one or two months,” he said.

On Friday parliament’s portfolio committee on labor was still discussing amendments to the policy.

Sharome van Schalkwyk, acting chair of the committee, said the national minimum wage bill needed to be sent for redrafting.

“The Department of Labour must take its time and rework the bill for submission again to the committee. This piece of legislation is critical in our country, not only in fighting inequality, but also addressing abuse of vulnerable workers in some sectors,” van Schalkwyk said in a statement on Friday.

More than two decades after the end of apartheid in 1994, South Africa’s economy is still characterized by deep wealth inequality and high levels of unemployment.
Ramaphosa Touts ‘New Dawn’ in South Africa to Lure $100 Billion
April 19, 2018, 2:32 AM EDT
Bloomberg

New South African leader pledges to crack down on corruption
Land ownership issue will be handled according to constitution

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa discuses growth prospects for his nation’s economy.
President Cyril Ramaphosa brought his branding of a “new dawn” in South Africa to London as he promised to unveil incentives to attract $100 billion in investment.

Ramaphosa, 65, has been working to convince investors that he’s committed to reversing years of economic stagnation, policy uncertainty and looting of state funds since succeeding Jacob Zuma as president two months ago. So far he’s fired some ministers and replaced the boards of several troubled state companies.

“We will have well-crafted incentives that will attract people,” Ramaphosa said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg Television in London, where he’s attending a Commonwealth Summit and met with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II. “Some of them may well be tax incentives or general industrial incentives.”

Ramaphosa is seeking $100 billion in new investment and this week named four “envoys,” including former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and ex-Standard Bank Group Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Jacko Maree, to travel the world seeking commitments.

Earlier at a lunch with investors at Bloomberg’s offices, he said his government is determined to fight corruption.

“We are putting in place measures to clean up,” Ramaphosa said. “It’s going to take some time, but we are at it.”

Yet his effort to sell South Africa as an investment destination has been hindered by the ruling party’s decision to back land seizures. He repeatedly addressed the issue, saying hunger for farmland is rife but his government will respect the constitution as it works to redress the imbalance of ownership.

Land Ownership

More than two decades after the end of apartheid, whites still own most of South Africa’s profitable farms, and. according to the finance ministry, about 95 percent of the country’s wealth is in the hands of 10 percent of the population. The governing African National Congress decided in December to amend the constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation. A parliamentary committee is considering the changes and is due to report back by the end of August.

“We won’t damage the economy,” he said at the lunch. “The land drive should not lead to a reduction in agricultural production or endanger food production.”

A 2017 land audit by AgriSA, a farmers’ lobby group, found that the government and racial groups that were discriminated against under whites-only rule owned 26.7 percent of South Africa’s agricultural land in 2016, up from 14.9 percent in 1994. A separate government audit found that whites owned 72 percent of farmland.

Property Rights

“We want round-table dialogue, a full discussion on the question of land because we want the protection of property rights not to be a protection of property rights to a few people only, like it has been in the past,” Ramaphosa said in the television interview, the first with an international broadcaster since he became president. “Our economy has also been constrained by the fact that the land, which is a powerful resource, has just been reserved for a few. Let us share the land.”

The president said he’s getting positive feedback from investors, and recent gains in the value of the rand indicate improved confidence. After Ramaphosa met May on Tuesday, the U.K. committed 50 million pounds ($72 million) in funding over the next four years.

“Attracting more investment in the economy is key to boosting growth,” Ramaphosa said.

Total fixed investment in South Africa declined to about 19 percent of gross domestic product last year, from 24 percent in 2008, with foreign direct investment dropping to 17.6 billion rand ($1.5 billion) from 76 billion rand over the period, government data show.

‘Open For Business’

“The pitch is going to be: ‘we are open for business, we are embarking on reforms that are going to lead to South Africa becoming even more attractive than it has been’,” Ramaphosa said.

He said he’s sticking to his target of 3 percent growth for this year, which is more than double the 1.4 percent forecast by the World Bank.

Read more on Ramaphosa’s impact on the economy

The rand was little changed at 11.9301 per dollar by 8:25 a.m. in Johannesburg on Thursday after advancing 0.5 percent the previous day. The currency is up almost 10 percent since Ramaphosa was elected as leader of the ruling ANC in December, the best-performing major currency over that period.

“The rand where it is now reflects a level of confidence that the world has in South Africa,” Ramaphosa said. “They can see that South Africa is going somewhere. The exporters from our own country, the stronger rand is not so positive for them, so we need to find a balance. It’s near the balance, not yet quite there, but near the balance.”

— With assistance by Alastair Reed, Michael Cohen, Amogelang Mbatha, Ana Monteiro, and Robert Brand

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Swaziland King Renames Country Kingdom of eSwatini
20 APR, 2018 - 00:04 

MANZINI. –  King Mswati III of Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, has announced that his country has changed its name to the Kingdom of eSwatini to mark 50 years since independence from British rule.

Meaning “place of the Swazi”, eSwatini is the Swazi language name for the tiny state landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique. Unlike some countries, Swaziland did not change its name when it gained independence in 1968 after being a British protectorate for more than 60 years.

King Mswati III declared the name change during independence day celebrations at a packed sports stadium in the second city of Manzini. “I would like to announce that Swaziland will now revert to its original name,” he said, wearing red military uniform.

“African countries on getting independence reverted to their ancient names before they were colonised. So from now on, the country will be officially be known as the Kingdom of eSwatini.”

The name Swaziland angers some citizens as it is a mix of Swazi and English.

The move had been mooted for years, with lawmakers considering the issue in 2015. The king had used the new name in previous official speeches.

– The Guardian
SACP Condemns in the Strongest Terms Possible the Apartheid Regime of Israel, Its Racist Attitude and Atrocities
11 April 2018

The time for action against Israeli Apartheid is now!

The apartheid regime of Israel is violating international law, and with absolute impunity. The regime appears to believe that no matter what its leaders and repressive machinery do, they will face no consequences for their atrocities. The apartheid regime of Israel is protected by imperial powers, and United States in the main. However, there is another power, the power of progressive governments and peace loving people across the world, that can hold Israel accountable.

Since last week Friday, 6 April 2018 Israeli snipers have shot and killed over 30 unarmed Palestinians and injured more than 1 500, including journalists and teenagers. The apartheid state of Israel has recently adopted draconian measures to kick out African migrants and enticing them with money to leave and threatening them with jail if they are still in Israel after March 2018. This is a breaking point and South Africa must respond decisively, in accordance with international law.

The SACP is not calling merely for democratic state action. The Party will be joining other civil society formations in the mass protests and other actions in solidarity with the Palestinians #GreatReturnMarch. South Africa's position should be clear: on the streets, in our political resolutions and in government! The time for statements is over, and the time for action is well over due!

The SACP welcomed the resolution by our alliance partner and governing party, the ANC, to "immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African embassy in Israel to a liaison office". Sufficient time has now passed and its implementation must happen with immediate effect. There must be no further delay.

ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY | SACP

FOR GENERAL ENQUIRIES ON SACP STATEMENTS CONTACT:
Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo:
Head of Communications & National Spokesperson
Mobile: +27 76 316 9816
Skype: MashiloAM

CIRCULATION; MEDIA LIAISON SERVICES
Hlengiwe Nkonyane:
Communications Officer - Media Liaison Services, Digital and Social Media Co-ordinator
Mobile: +27 79 384 6550

OFFICE, WEBSITE, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, USTREAM TV CHANNEL
Office: +2711 339 3621/2
Twitter: SACP1921
Website: www.sacp.org.za
Facebook Page: South African Communist Party
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NEHAWU Calls on SASSA to Desist from Victimizing and Intimidating Our Members and Workers
18 April 2018

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union [NEHAWU] is infuriated by the underhand tactics used by the South African Social Security Agency [SASSA] to force our members and workers to perform duties outside their scope of work.

The national union also notes with disgust the threats including letters of suspension handed to our members who refused to perform duties related to Biometric Enrolment of beneficiaries which was a previous function of Cash Paymaster Services [CPS].

Our members were duped into believing that they were attending a Biometric Identity Access and Management workshop only to find out that they were being trained to perform Biometric Enrolment of beneficiaries which were we not consulted as the union. The training should have not taken place considering that the new function they are forced to perform has an adverse impact on their condition of service.

It must be noted that SASSA is in the current crisis because of the mistakes of the former Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, and those who delayed the insourcing of the payment of social grants and the continued reliance on Cash Paymaster Services [CPS]. Because of the lack of readiness by SASSA to take over from CPS they are now resorting to forcing our members and workers to perform some of the duties that were performed by CPS including biometric enrolment of beneficiaries into the system.

The national union will not stand idle while SASSA bullies our members and workers. We are ready for a fight in defense of our members and workers. The union demanded a Human Resource plan through the SASSA National Bargaining Forum of the 13th February 2018 which would have indicated the impact of future grants payments in relation to the conditions of employment where our members are concerned, to no avail. We also demanded that the SASSA Acting CEO, Ms Pearl Bengu, to stop the training related to Biometric Enrolment of beneficiaries and the rolling out of the function to our members on the 23rd March 2018, still to no avail. Thus we have ever since referred a dispute on the 16th April 2018 with CCMA on the Biometric Enrolment of beneficiaries with the aim of stopping both the training and the unilateral implementation of the Biometric Enrolment function.

The national union notes the misleading letter supposedly written to the General Secretary by the acting CEO but sent to SASSA centres across the country creating a false impression that NEHAWU has been addressed in relation to all its concerns with intentions to silence NEHAWU members. Unfortunately, the said letter was responding to NEHAWU internal communication as it was not directed to the acting SASSA CEO. We regard this act as interference with NEHAWU operations which she had no business with.

In this regard, the national union will not fold its arms and watch this valuable institution to the working class being destroyed and also victimising members and workers in the agency through acts of arrogance and intransigent leadership.

As NEHAWU, we call on SASSA to desist from these underhand tactics and properly engage the union to ensure operations runs as smooth as possible at the agency. A national meeting of the union will be convened on the 24th and 25th April 2018 to seek further mandate on a way forward.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat

Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500 or email: khaya@nehawu.org.za Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za
NEHAWU Supports the SATAWU Bus Strike
19 April 2018

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union [NEHAWU] supports the bus strike by our sister union the South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union [SATAWU] which began yesterday morning.

As NEHAWU, we support the genuine demands by workers for better salaries and improved working conditions. The national union believes that the 12% across the board wage increase with a minimum basic salary of R8 000 is a reasonable demand considering the rise in VAT by 1%, the increase in fuel levy and the road accident levy increase. The rise of the prices of basic necessities dictates that salaries of workers are also increased to ensure that they are able to provide for their families.

We also support the demand that the employer stops the dual driver system, through which the employer enjoys free labour, in that the second driver who is not at the wheel when the trip commences is deemed to not be on duty and only paid a R400 allowance per month. This is exploitation of the highest order and we support the demand that both drivers are paid equally the amount due to them.

We appeal to the employer to come back to the negotiating table and negotiate in good faith as the strike is putting more strain to our already dysfunctional public transport system. As NEHAWU, we call on all communities especially commuters to support the strike in order to ensure that it ends as soon as possible.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat

Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500 or email: khaya@nehawu.org.za Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za
COSATU Supports the Striking Bus Drivers
The Congress of South African Trade Unions is fully behind the ongoing strike by bus drivers all across the country. We support SATAWU and other unions in their fight to ensure that workers get decent salary increases and that their working conditions are improved.

The unions have been very patient with the employers, since the negotiations began in January and we support the worker's decision to ultimately withdraw their labour power. It is unfortunate that the intransigence and the unreasonable attitude of the employers will inconvenience thousands of workers and commuters and also impact negatively on the economy.

COSATU fully support the legitimate and fair demands of the unions and call on the employers to accede to these demands to avert a long and devastating strike. Workers are seeking a 12% across-the-board increase while employers are only offering 7%.

Considering that we have seen a VAT increase, Fuel levy increase, Road Accident levy and are looking at another electricity tariff hike in the near future, we encourage all workers and their unions to fearlessly fight for decent salary increases during this round of wage negotiations. We also encourage many of our unions to sign single year agreements and if employers want multiyear agreement, they should be prepared to buy those at the negotiating table.

The employer's narrow and selfish approach to these negotiations is distressing because some of the carnage that we see on our roads is as a result of the terrible working conditions that workers are subjected to. We are calling on the Department of Transport to intervene and work to ensure that the bus companies that are beneficiaries of state subsidies take these negotiations seriously.

This strike is already putting a strain on our vulnerable and dysfunctional public transport system. We also call on the workers and communities in general to support the struggle for better working conditions and a living wage by bus passenger workers. Let us offer solidarity and bring to life the workers mantra that "An injury to one is an injury to all"

Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794
ANC Statement Following the National Official Funeral of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
15th April 2018

Yesterday, Saturday, 14th April 2018, our country, South Africa and the world paused to pay homage to one of its most distinguished daughters and Mother of the Nation, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

The African National Congress (ANC) thanks its members and everybody across the length and breadth of our country and beyond our borders for lending a hand in giving our stalwart and leader, Mama Winnie Mandela. such a revolutionary and dignified send-off on her final journey.

The ANC commends South Africans for individually and collectively sharing the burden of pain and loss with the Madikizela and Mandela families. As the ANC we know, based on our own history, that when shared the burden becomes lighter. The nation and the world's solidarity with the family in their moment of loss made it easier for us and the family to contend with this monumental loss. South Africans, through their support during her last miles into immortality, made a resounding statement of embracing Winnie as their leader and the embodiment of their aspirations.

14 April 2018, marked a new era that will be regarded as post-Winnie Mandela era in our country. It will, among other things, focus on the struggle to defeat partriachy and the emancipation of our country from poverty, inequality and gender oppression. As we enter the era of intensified struggles for economic emancipation, we are inspired by Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who, not only embodied the ideals of economic justice for all, but also fought with uncompromising resilience for the aspirations of the downtrodden masses of our people.

We would like to thank our government, the army, the police, the emergency services, the media, all political parties and, most importantly, South Africans and the international community and leaders for their support and solidarity during our moment of collective grief. To the family we want to say: They remain an important part of our nation. We will continue to work with them to preserve and advance the proud and revolutionary legacy of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

As the ANC and the country, we owe our Mother of the Nation and her family a debt of gratitude that we will never be able to repay in our lifetime.

May her revolutionary spirit and legacy continue to live among us.

Issued by the African National Congress

Enquiries:
Pule Mabe
0716234975
National Spokesperson
Miguel Díaz-Canel: I Assume This Responsibility With the Conviction That All We Revolutionaries Will Be Faithful to Fidel and Raúl
The new President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba addressed the position of continuity of the government that he will lead, especially regarding the relationship with the Cuban people, international relations and the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba, at the head of which Army General Raúl Castro Ruz continues

Author: Digital news staff | informacion@granma.cu
April 19, 2018 11:04:18

On the morning of April 19, a historic date on which not only is the first defeat of Yankee imperialism in the Americas commemorated, but Cuba also sees the inauguration of a new government that makes evident the continuity of the new generations with the legacy of the historic generation that founded the Cuban Revolution in the highest leadership positions of the country, compañero Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, offered his first speech as President of the Councils of State and of Ministers of Cuba.

He began by recognizing the leadership of Army General Raúl Castro, the candidate for deputy to have received the most votes in the recent general elections; as well as the Comandantes of the Revolution, “who on being in this room offer us the opportunity to embrace history,” he noted.

He also referred to the “dark attempts to destroy us” of those who have not been able to destroy “our faith.”

With the inauguration of this new legislature, he emphasized, the electoral process comes to its conclusion. The Cuban people, who have massively participated throughout, are conscious of its historic importance. They have elected their representatives based on their capacity to represent their localities, without media campaigns, corruption or demagoguery. Citizens have elected humble, hard-working people as their genuine representatives, who will participate in the approval and implementation of the country’s policies.

In his opinion, “This process has contributed to the consolidation of unity in Cuba.”

On the people’s expectations about this government, he stressed that the new Council of State must continue “acting, creating and working tirelessly, in a permanent bond with its dignified people.”

He also added that if anyone wanted to see Cuba in all its composition, it would be enough to look to its National Assembly, with women occupying decisive positions in the state and the government. However, he warned, it does not matter how much we resemble the country we are, if the commitment the present and the future of Cuba is lacking. The raison d’être of the Councils of State and Ministers is the permanent link with the population.

THE FLAG OF THE REVOLUTION IS PASSED ON TO YOUNGER HANDS

Díaz-Canel pointed out that during the closing of the last Party Congress, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz made it clear that his generation would hand over the flags of the Revolution and Socialism to the younger generations. This emphasizes the importance of the crucial mandate given by the people to this legislature, and as such its work in all areas of the nation’s life must be perfected.

“I assume this responsibility with the conviction that all we revolutionaries, from any trench, will be faithful to Fidel and Raúl, the current leader of the revolutionary process,” the new President of Cuba stated.

He then stressed that the men and women who forged the revolution “give us the keys to a new fraternity that transforms us into compañeros and compañeras,” and highlighted, as another inherited achievement, the unity that has become indestructible within the Cuban Party, that was not born from the fragmentation of others, but from those who intended to build a better country.

For that reason, he said, “Raúl remains at the forefront of the political vanguard. He remains our First Secretary, as the reference that he is for the revolutionary cause, teaching and always ready to confront imperialism, like the first, with his rifle at the ready in the moment of combat.”

Regarding the revolutionary and political work of the Army General, he highlighted his legacy of resistance and in the search for the continued advancement of the nation. “He put his sense of duty ahead of human pain,” he said in reference to the loss of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro on November 25, 2016.

Likewise, he highlighted Raúl’s grandeur as a statesman, forming a national consensus, and the manner in which he led the implementation process of the country’s social and economic guidelines. He also highlighted how he had made the return of the Five Cuban Heroes a reality, so longed-for by Fidel.

Raúl has marked Cuba’s international relations with his own spirit: he directed diplomatic relations with the United States; he led the rotating presidency of CELAC; Cuba’s hosting of the Colombian peace talks; and he has been present in all regional and hemispheric summits, always defending Our America. That is the Raúl we know, Díaz-Canel stressed.

The new Cuban President also recalled how the Army General, still very young, participated in the Granma expedition, undertook the struggle in the Sierra Maestra, was promoted to Comandante, and developed government experiences that would be applied in the country after the revolutionary triumph.

REGARDING THE NEW MANDATE

I am aware of the concerns and expectations at a moment like this, but I know the strength and wisdom of the people, the leadership of the Party, the ideas of Fidel, the presence of Raúl and Machado, and knowing the popular sentiment, I state before this Assembly that compañero Raúl will head the decisions for the present and future of the nation, Díaz noted.

I confirm that Cuban foreign policy will remain unchanged. Cuba will not accept conditions. The changes that are necessary will continue to be made by the Cuban people, he added.

He also called for the support of all those who occupy leadership responsibilities at different levels in the nation, but, above all, of the people. “We will have to exercise an increasingly collective leadership. Strengthening the participation of the people,” he summarized.

I do not come to promise anything, as the Revolution never has in all these years. I come to fulfill the program that we have implemented with the guidelines of Socialism and the Revolution, the President underlined.

And as for the enemies of the revolutionary process, he said: Here there is no space for a transition that ignores or destroys the work of the Revolution. We will continue moving forward without fear and without retreat; without renouncing our sovereignty, independence, development programs, and independence.

“To those who through ignorance or bad faith doubt our commitment, we must tell them that the Revolution continues and will continue,” he clarified, adding: “The world has received the wrong message that the Revolution ends with its guerrillas.”
The Continuation of an Emancipatory Process
The Ninth Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, constituted April 18, symbolizes the continuation of an emancipatory process that has brought us here today. Thirty one Council of State candidates were also elected during the session

Author: Lissy Rodríguez Guerrero | informacion@granma.cu
Author: Yudy Castro Morales | internet@granma.cu
April 19, 2018 13:04:13

Army General Raúl Castro casts his vote. Photo: Estudio Revolución

It was an official session, as dictated by law, and also a historic one, just like every national event which brings generations together, where principles reaffirmed and commitment are strengthened.
The constitution, April 18, of the National Assembly of People’s Power (ANPP) in its Ninth Legislature, symbolizes the continuation of an emancipatory process that has brought us here today and which we have the challenge of continuing to build.

The constituent session took place with the presence of Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, during which, via a secret, direct vote, the 604 deputies in attendance reelected Esteban Lazo Hernández as President of the National Assembly of People’s Power, as well as Ana María Mari Machado as vice president, and Miriam Brito Sarroca as secretary.

As dictated by electoral law, the session was opened by Alina Balseiro Gutiérrez, pesident of the National Electoral Commission, who read aloud the names of the 605 deputies elected last March 11, and validated their election, with the Army General himself being the first to present his certificate.
Regarding the composition of the Assembly, Balseiro Gutiérrez reported that of the 605 deputies, 47.4% are constituency delegates. The principle of renovation and ratification was reaffirmed, with 56.03% elected for the first time. Of the returning deputies, 147 have served only one prior term.

Women, she noted, represent 53.22% of the deputies, 179 of whom are constituency delegates, while 24 are under 35 years of age, well below the legislature’s average of 49. Likewise, youth between 18 and 35 years of age account for 13.2%, while 87.6% of deputies were born after the triumph of the Revolution.

A total of 524 deputies hold university degrees, 40.5% are Black or mixed race, and 32.39% work in the production or service sectors. Balseiro Gutiérrez also noted that 133 deputies are members of local People’s Power bodies.

Following this report, Leydimara de la Caridad Cárdenas Isasi, the Assembly’s youngest representative, at only 19 years of age, read aloud the oath which was signed by all deputies and in which their commitment to “remain loyal to the homeland, and ensure that the Constitution and other legal regulations are fulfilled,” was highlighted.

Once all established procedures had been completed, and the quorum validated, Alina Balseiro declared the Ninth Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power officially constituted.

THE VOCATION TO SERVE

Gisela Duarte Vázquez, president of the National Candidatures Commission, announced to deputies the proposed candidates for the positions of President, Vice President, and Secretary of the National Assembly of People’s Power, as well as nominees to occupy the 31 seats on the Council of State.

She stressed that “intense days of work and consultations have been undertaken in order to ensure maximum transparency in the selection of candidates, bearing in mind nominees’ merits, abilities, track record, and above all their commitment to serving the people.”

Duarte Vázquez stated that the effort was directed toward a strengthened National Assembly, situated at the forefront during a stage of the Revolution which is of great political significance. Thus, proposed to occupy the leading roles in the National Assembly were Esteban Lazo Hernández, Ana María Mari Machado and Miriam Brito Sarroca.

Regarding Esteban Lazo Hernández, a member of the Party Political Bureau, Duarte Vázquez noted that he has efficiently fulfilled this responsibility as ANPP President over the last five years, during which he has dedicated all his efforts to ensuring that the body fulfills its important responsibilities, and to improving its work.

Likewise, the results achieved by Ana María Mari Machado in her work as ANPP vice president since 2012, were recognized.

The successful efforts of Miriam Brito Sarroca were also highlighted, as well as the contribution of her experience over two terms.

In accordance with the law, the candidature slate was submitted for approval before deputies exercised their right to vote, via a secret, direct ballot. After the results were announced, the elected officials were sworn in.

MERITS & COMMITMENT

At the proposal of the recently reelected ANPP President, Gisela Duarte Vázquez read aloud the candidature slate for the 31 members of the Council of State, the result of a thorough analysis of Assembly members and useful, valuable consultations with the 605 deputies.

According to Duarte Vázquez, the legislators highlighted that candidates must have the sufficient will, merit, and commitment to continue effectively improving our socialist system.

The candidature slate, she noted, features deputies who occupy leadership roles across different structures from the grassroots to the highest levels; it includes 15 women, while over 40% of nominees are Black or mixed race, with new candidates representing 35.48%, an average age of 54, although over 70% of candidates were born after the triumph of the Revolution.

LIST OF CANDIDATES FOR SENIOR POSITIONS ON THE COUNCIL OF STATE:

- President of the Council of State: Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez

- First Vice President: Salvador Valdés Mesa

- Vice Presidents:

Ramiro Valdés Menéndez,

Roberto Tomás Morales Ojeda

Gladys María Bejerano Portela

Inés María Chapman Waugh

Beatriz Jhonson Urrutia

- Secretary: Homero Acosta Álvarez

APPROVED CANDIDATES FOR THE COUNCIL OF STATE:

Leopoldo Cintra Frías
Teresa María Amarelle Boué,
Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento,
Miriam Nicado García,
Guillermo García Frías,
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla,
Martha del Carmen Mesa Valenciana,
Carlos Rafael Miranda Martínez,
Susely Morfa González,
Rafael Antonio Santiesteban Pozo,
Miguel Ángel Barnet Laza,
Ileana Amparo Flores Morales.

New Members:
Raúl Alejandro Palmero Fernández,
Jorge Amador Berlanga Acosta,
Yipsy Moreno González,
Elizabeth Peña Turruellas,
Yoerky Sánchez Cuéllar,
Ivis Niuba Villa Milán,
Bárbara Alexis Terry,
Reina Salermo Escalona,
Rosalina Fournier Frómeta,
Carlos Alberto Martínez Blanco,
Felicia Martínez Suárez.

After being approved by the 604 deputies in attendance, the candidature slate was submitted to a direct and secret ballot vote.
The Virtue of Believing in the Youth
One of Raúl Castro’s greatest qualities throughout his life as a revolutionary, marked by coherent thought and action, has been his confidence in youth

Author: Germán Veloz Placencia | german@granma.cu
April 18, 2018 08:04:25

The Army General accompanies youth as they face the challenges of today. Photo: Estudio Revolución

“Every time Raúl meets with youth his eyes shine; he’s re-energized,” says the late Jorge Risquet Valdés turning and speaking to me in a low voice. The revolutionary combatant was referring to the Army General, at that time Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), during a visit to one of the units of the Eastern Army, where he met and spoke with young combatants, including officers, in whom he recognized the will to continue defending the homeland.

Risquet was a close comrade of Raúl's during the period of armed struggle. I recalled his comment some time later, during one of the few occasions when I covered visits by the Revolution’s second-in-command to the contingent he created in 1961, as a reporter for the military press. On each occasion, while speaking with youth, he expressed his complete confidence in them.

His trust in younger generations is without a doubt one of the greatest qualities Raúl Castro has shown throughout his life as a revolutionary, marked by coherent thought and action.

José Ramón Fernández, another close friend of the Army General wrote, “His knowledge of life, of human beings, his revolutionary convictions and infinite trust in youth make compañero Raúl a strong believer in the importance of educating new generations, as well as a forceful critic of forms and methods which do not correspond to each historic moment, every new stage of the Revolution’s development, every reality, with life itself.”

He recognizes, added Fernández, that youth of today are more demanding, more capable, better educated, more cultured and above all, more critical. “He has also pointed out that it is a mistake to attempt to reach youth through schematic formulas, with trivial resources and insubstantial arguments. According to Raul, in order to reach the minds and hearts of youth, strengthen them ideologically and politically, spark their interest and support their goals, we must expand and intensify our political-ideological work to be unequivocally more rigorous and, above all, more modern.”

In this regard he went on to note: “For Raul, youth must be the protagonists in their own education, they must be active participants in their own learning processes, in the transformative work, in setting new goals for the Revolution, taking it to new levels of development, as inheritors of the experiences of those that came before them, but with their own light, initiative, creativity, and deep sense of commitment to being continuators of this work, no matter what the challenges.”

To some, the opinions of Risquet and José Ramón may seem particularly affected by the undeniable affection that has come from working day-by-day alongside Raúl. However, a strong revolutionary sentiment is evident whenever the Army General talks about the importance of youth’s role in maintaining the political and social gains that Cuba enjoys today.

For me, one of these rousing moments occurred in Santiago de Cuba on July 26, 2013, during celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the attacks on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons.

Clearly enthused, Raúl transmitted his passion to those present:

“Many years have passed but this continues to be a revolution of the young, just as we were that July 26, 1953, as well as those who fought and died in the streets of Santiago de Cuba on November 30, 1956. The majority of those who fought for five years - from 1960 until approximately January 1965 - against bandits, were also young people; with active groups of different sizes in all of the country’s provinces, including southern Havana on two occasions during this period; so too were those who defeated the mercenaries at Playa Girón; it was young people, including adolescents, that joined the literacy campaign - most of whom were students; masses of youth joined the militias, the newly formed Revolutionary Armed Forces and Ministry of the Interior; it was hundreds of thousands of young compatriots who served on international missions in other countries around the world…”

He recalled that the majority of those who offered health and education services in other countries; the scientists, artists, and athletes who have achieved countless honors; the young men performing military service and the young women who opted to do the same; high school and university students, workers and campesinos whose work provides important dividends for the national economy; our teachers and professors, were all young people.

Raúl went on to speak of the various generations that live on the island, each one with its own history and merits. He noted that: “With tranquility and calm confidence, the historic generation is giving way to the “pinos nuevos” (new generations) given their preparation and proven ability to uphold the banners of the Revolution and Socialism, for which countless patriots and revolutionaries gave their lives; from the indigenous peoples and slaves who continued to rebel against oppression through today.”

On April 4, 2010, during the closing ceremony of the Ninth Congress of the Young Communist League, Raúl noted that the economic battle must be the main task and focus of cadres' ideological work, in order to ensure the sustainability and preservation of our social system, stating: “Cuban youth are destined to take over from the generation that founded the Revolution, and in order to lead the masses with great strength, a convincing and mobilizing vanguard is required, for mobilization through personal example; a vanguard headed by firm, capable and prestigious directors, true leaders, not improvised ones; leaders who have passed through the irreplaceable forge of the working class where the most genuine values of a revolutionary are cultivated. Life has eloquently shown us the dangers that come with the violation of that principle.”

He also offered various words of advice to the new generations, explaining that “Today more than ever, we need cadres capable of carrying out effective ideological work that cannot be a dialogue of the deaf nor a mechanical repetition of slogans. We need leaders who reason with sound arguments, without considering themselves the absolute owners of the truth; who know how to listen even if they don’t like what some people say; who are capable of examining other peoples’ views with an open mind, which does not exclude the need to energetically refute with sound arguments those views considered unacceptable.”

The Army General went on to highlight the need to foster open discussions and to not consider disagreements as a problem, but the source of the best solutions: “Absolute unanimity is fictitious and therefore, harmful. When contradictions are not antagonistic, as in our case, they can become the driving force of development. We should deliberately suppress anything that feeds pretense and opportunism. We should learn to work collegially, to encourage unity and to strengthen collective leadership; these features should characterize the future leaders of the Revolution.”

In this sense, and with the experience gained protesting against corrupt regimes and later during the armed struggle, as well as confronting natural disasters, military threats with cataclysmal outcomes and severe ideological confrontations, he described the course of action that must always be taken: “There are youth all over the island with the necessary disposition and capacity to take on leadership positions. The challenge is to find them, to train them and to gradually assign them greater responsibilities.”

On that day he also quoted Fidel: “Believing in youth is seeing in them not only enthusiasm but capacity; not only energy but responsibility; not only youth, but purity, heroism, character, willpower, love for their homeland, faith in their homeland! Love for the Revolution, faith in the Revolution, and confidence in themselves! It is the deep conviction that youth are competent, that youth are capable; the deep conviction that great tasks can be placed on their shoulders.”

These were the words spoken for the first time on April 4, 1962, by the undefeated leader of the Cuban Revolution, during the founding ceremony of the Young Communist League; and then again 48 years later by Raúl with the strength and passion of those that struggled shoulder to shoulder for full justice and foresaw victory in the battles that lie ahead.

As he prepares, of his own free will, to step down as President of the Councils of State and Ministers, it is clear that this is the position Raúl has maintained throughout his life as a revolutionary. For him “Our greatest satisfaction is the tranquility and calm confidence we feel handing over the responsibility of continuing to build socialism to new generations.”
Our Deputies Have All the Merits and Abilities Needed to Represent Us in the National Assembly
Members of the National Candidatures Commission discuss with Granma International the arduous task they undertook evaluating over 12,000 proposed candidates to serve as National Assembly deputies and members of the Council of State

Author: Eduardo Palomares Calderón | palomares@granma.cu
April 16, 2018 17:04:02
Photo: Juvenal Balán

With the same rights enjoyed by the Cuban people, the principal protagonists in the democratic, participative process of the 2017-2018 general elections, readers of Granma International are offereda dialogue, organized by our multimedia staff, with members of the National Candidatures Commission on their work during these historic elections.

Central topics of ongoing interest discussed were essential aspects of the composition of the Commission and its function, as well as the culmination of the process set to take place April 18-19, with the constitution of the National Assembly of People's Power 9th Legislature and the election of the Council of State.

This online encounter, to which Youth Computer Clubs across the country contributed, was further evidence of the importance given these issues, as was the enthusiastic, responsible participation of the population, first to elect delegates to Municipal Assemblies of People's Power, and more recently, deputies to the National Assembly.

Who are the Commission's members and how are they selected?

Jorge Misas Hernández (JMH) Member of the National Candidatures Commission (CCN): National Candidatures Commission are composed of representatives from our country's mass organizations: the Federation of Cuban Workers (CTC), the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the Federation of Cuban Women, the National Association of Small Farmers, the Federation of University Students, and the Federation of Secondary School Students.

Reinier Cruz González (RCG). CCN member: The Commission is presided at all levels by a representative from the CTC, and its members are named by their respective national, provincial, or municipal leadership bodies, as requested by Electoral Commissions at the different levels.

It would be important to understand what legal framework guides the CNN and how it works.

Alfredo Machado López (AML). Vice President of the National Candidatures Commission: Law 72, the Electoral Law, defines the composition of the Candidature Commissions and their functions. In the democratic order, they have a very special mission, not always fully understood by our people, which consists of developing a broad pool - based on proposals from leadership bodies of the mass organizations that comprise the commissions and from nominations made in our neighborhoods - from which candidates for delegate to Provincial Assemblies of People's Power, and for deputy to the National Assembly, are selected.

Likewise, our (National) Commission undertakes an extensive process of consultation with the deputy candidates, and later deputies, accompanying them on their visits to communities, work places, and schools. We listen to them and consider their opinions on who should be part of the National Assembly's Presidency and the Council of State, so that before the presentation of the proposals, widespread, meticulous work has been done with thousands of men and women of proven merit, ability, and commitment to the people and the Revolution.

How different is the functioning of this Candidature Commission from those of other countries, and how much time do you have to complete and authenticate the process?

AML: Our Candidature Commissions carry out, more or less, the role that in other countries political parties carry out - leaving obvious differences aside - but their membership, consisting of representatives from mass organizations in which almost the entire population is included, allows us to all feel present.

Our term began on June 30, of 2017, and through the different stages of the process, we worked on more than 12,000 proposals, and I can assure you that what takes place in the leadership bodies to come up with their definitive proposals is far from a formality. There is a democratic component that would be hard to see in any other country.

If you add to this that constituency delegates are nominated and elected in neighborhoods, and that the National Assembly can include up to 50% of these grassroots delegates, and that all the country's municipalities are represented by at least two deputies, I would dare to assure you that it is highly unlikely that anything like this happens anyplace else.

Could you summarize the process of electing the President and other national leaders?

JMH & RCG: As stipulated in the Electoral Law cited, Law 72, this April 18, the President, First Vice President, Vice Presidents, Secretary and other members of the Council of State are elected in indirect elections, that is, the deputies elected by the people approve the candidature and then, with a secret ballot, vote for these compañeras and compañeros, selected from among the 12,000 proposals made in 970 plenums of mass organization leadership bodies.

How will the people be informed of what occurs on April 18-19?

AML: Our people will be informed, on a timely basis, ofwhat occurs during the session's proceedings and all of the relevant details. The men and women elected to different responsibilities will also be announced, that is the President of the National Assembly, its Vice President and Secretary, as well as the composition of the Council of State.

I can assure you that the 605 deputies who make up our National Assembly are the product of arduous work by the Candidature Commissions at all levels, already explained, and that they have all the merits and abilities needed to represent us honorably in parliament.

To what degree were youth represented at the different levels you mentioned?

AML: Our communications media have provided broad coverage on the characteristics of the deputies, and we can say that a good pool exists, in which there are more than 80 youth between 18 and 35 years of age, to which we can add others not quite so young, who were born with the Revolution, as a group representing 89.25% of the 605 deputies.

Along with this, the consultation process explained, to gather opinions on this and other issues, allows us to indicate with full confidence that, in this historic session, we have the men and women who constitute the firmest and most loyal expression of the continuity of the revolutionary process we are constructing.

Are the nominations for the Presidency made by deputies in the Assembly or is the candidature as a while presented.

JMH & RCG: As we have been explaining, deputies to the 9th Legislature were consulted individually by the CCN during the month of March, to gather their proposals for members of the National Assembly's leadership and the Council of State, including for the latter, its President, First Vice President, Vice Presidents, and Secretary.

All are among the deputies elected by the people in different provinces, and therefore have the right to be included on the candidature slate that our Commission will present to the April 18 session.

Alden Rafael Sánchez Sanjudo Ramírez (ARSR) CCN member: It's important to clarify that these elections are conducted separately. First will be the vote to constitute the National Assembly with its new leadership, and then the proposed slate for the Council of State, prepared by our Commission, will be presented to the deputies.

Upon presenting this proposal that reflects the opinions of the deputies themselves, the Assembly President informs deputies of their right to partially or totally amend it. Next, the candidature is submitted for approval, and once it is approved by a majority of the deputies present, it becomes the list of candidates to elect the Council of State.

This vote tally is conducted by the National Electoral Commission and it is the president of this body who announces the results of the direct, secret ballot vote, and declares elected, to the proposed position, those who receive more than 50% of the valid votes cast. In the event that one of the candidates does not obtain the required number of votes, a new proposal is made by the CCN and another election is held.

After two hours of interaction with the population, led by the President of the National Candidature Commission, Gisela María Duarte Vázquez, readers added to the discussion with commentaries online, recognizing electoral authorities, supporting elected deputies, and expressing confidence that the National Assembly's new leadership and the Council of State, will preserve the work of Fidel and Raúl.
Cuba Demands Respect in Peru
The Cuban civil society delegation, attending the 8th Summit of the Americas parallel forums, yesterday denounced serious provocations in Lima, where billboards offending our country were displayed on the city's central avenues

Author: Sergio Alejandro Gómez, | informacion@granmai.cu
April 12, 2018 14:04:41

The Cuban civil society delegation, attending the 8th Summit of the Americas parallel forums, yesterday denounced serious provocations in Lima, where billboards offending our country were displayed.

During sessions of the Civil Society Forum Coalition 15, deputy dean of the University of Havana Law School, Yuri Pérez, demanded "respect" for Cuba and that the region's characteristic diversity be recognized.

Pérez denounced "hostile behaviors" and "aggressions" that have appeared on Lima's avenues over the last few days, in the form of billboards and public announcements slandering the political system chosen by Cubans.

"It concerns us because, if a billboard is erected in the middle of a city, authorization is required, a license that gives permission to place it," he said.

"We ask the Summit's organizers, including Peruvian authorities, to pay attention, because we came here with a respectful discourse, but we categorically require respect and also demand respect," Pérez added.

The Law School deputy dean recalled that the theme assigned Coalition 15, in which the majority of Cubans are participating, is precisely "For an inclusive and respectful world."

The provocations are part of the strategy being implemented by mercenary groups, with foreign support, to sully Cuba's image and attempt to present themselves as representatives of Cuban civil society in Lima, despite not having any legitimacy whatsoever within the country.

The cost of the billboards, which have appeared along the city's central avenues, must surpass thousands of dollars and even reach hundreds of thousands, but the exact origin of the funds required to mount this offensive campaign, is still unknown.

A number of people in Peru were outraged by the counterrevolutionary messages and, in solidarity with Cuba, ripped the billboards and covered the offensive phrases with "Viva, Fidel," and the phrase that has gone viral here, "Don't mess with Cuba."
Cubans Reiterate Commitment to Their Socialist Revolution
More than 2,000 people gathered at the historic Havana corner of 23rd and 12th Streets for a political and cultural event to mark the 57th anniversary of the declaration of the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution

Author: Sumaily Pérez Carrandi | informacion@granmai.cu
April 17, 2018 09:04:50
Photo: Ariel Cecilio Lemus Alvarez

It was April 16, 1961. Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro spoke to the people gathered at the well-known corner of 23rd and 12th Streets, in the Havana neighborhood of Vedado. More than a speech, it was a tribute and at the same time a commitment, to the relatives and victims of the cruel aerial bombardment the day before by the U.S. against the air bases of Ciudad Libertad, San Antonio de los Baños and Santiago de Cuba.

Fifty-seven years after that crime, which left seven people dead and more than 50 injured, more than 2,000 people gathered to participate in a political and cultural event presided by the Party Political Bureau member, a vice president of the Council of State and PCC Secretary in Havana, Mercedes López Acea; at the very site where Fidel proclaimed before the world the socialist character of the nascent Cuban Revolution.

According to Mai-Lín Alberti Arozarena, first secretary of the Young Communist League (UJC) in the capital, the bravery of the Cuban people, their determination to overcome the terrorist acts of the CIA and above all their courage to advance a Revolution only 90 miles away from the enemy, were essential to their victory.

On behalf of the Cuban representatives who recently defended the Homeland at the People’s Summit in Lima, Mirthia Brossard Oris, vice president of the Federation of University Students (FEU), reiterated that Cuba will not renounce its sovereignty or its conquests.

Fidel demonstrated his wisdom and absolute certainty when affirming 57 years ago that the United States could not forgive the island for having carried out a Socialist Revolution under its very nose, and that this Socialist Revolution would be defended with rifles and with the courage of the anti-aircraft gunners faced with the enemy’s planes.

The Cuban people mobilized and resisted following the mercenary invasion of Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs), such that in less than 72 hours they had inflicted on U.S. imperialism its first major defeat in Latin America.

This Socialist Revolution will continue to be defended by the Cuban people.
Days of Combat
The invader had not been able to establish the beach head needed to justify an OAS intervention. United in resistance, the people displayed the strength that would allow them to confront other battles. The spirit of a nation re-conquered had taken shape in Girón

Author: Graziella Pogolotti | internet@granma.cu
April 16, 2018 10:04:26

Fidel proclaimed the socialist nature of the Revolution on the Havana street corner of 23rd and 12th, during the burial of those killed in the airport bombings of April 15, 1961, the prelude to the Bay of Pigs invasion at Girón. Photo: Raúl Corrales

Rumors of the fighting were heard during the dawn hours. It was at a distance. I went out on the balcony. From the heights of Vedado, militia men ran down the hill as they finished buttoning their uniform shirts. Right away, the news began to spread. They had bombed the Ciudad Libertad airport. We were in the prelude to an imminent invasion, expected since the United States had broken diplomatic relations. We were on the eve of Playa Girón. (on the Bay of Pigs)

Moved by an impulse from the depths of my conscience, I decided to end the convalescence that followed a series of operations. I joined the work. My individual reaction was the same as that of the vast majority of the people who were not on the front lines. On the rearguard, it was our responsibility to assure the normal functioning of the country. And so it was.

With absolute serenity, following the latest news, the collective will to defend the country under attack was made clear in the ongoing provision of services and increase in production. This spirit of resistance concretely supported the combatants who advanced under the bombs toward Playa Girón and the pilots who made decisive strikes from their dilapidated planes. An impenetrable wall was raised to stop the enemy, defeated in 72 hours.

After the bombing of the airports, before a crowd of militiamen holding their weapons high, Fidel proclaimed the socialist nature of the Revolution - the organic result of the process that began with the January 1959 victory, that was itself the continuation of our centenary struggle for national liberation. On the eve of Girón, only two years had transpired since the Batista dictatorship's defeat. That victory, against a professional army backed by imperialism, that seemed so improbable to many, had returned the people's confidence in its own strength.

In the depths of the collective moral conscience, the rebels' triumph reanimated the original sources of inspiration supporting a nation project, counterpoised to the skeptical currents produced by the frustrating impact of the United States' intervention in the war of independence, and the subsequent imposition of the Platt Amendment. In fact, the revolutionary government has closed the door on the traditional interference of U. S. ambassadors in the country's internal affairs, speaking with its own voice in international forums and strengthening ties with Latin American countries which shared a common destiny.

The country's resources had been redirected to benefit the nation. With the Agrarian Reform, demanded since the Constitution of 1940, campesinos received titles to the land they worked. The time was over for evictions and the dramatic events retold by Pablo de la Torriente Brau in Realengo 18. In response to reprisals by the U.S. government, the country's oil refineries and banks were nationalized.

Cultural institutions were emerging along the way. Their design reflected the longings forged during the neocolonial republic by the underground work of a layer of intellectuals, who despite the lack of official support, maintained a creative spirit alive, motivated by the search for the recovery of the nation's essence, without renouncing the worthwhile assimilation of the vanguard renovation developing beyond our borders, and productive dialogue with its natural audience, the potential public marginalized at that time. Publishing houses printed books that had been filed away. Theater emerged from miniscule venues to welcome a broader audience. Spectators learned to decipher the language of dance with the National Ballet and the experimental works of modern currents.

The Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC) fortified its industrial base to develop a cinema of our own. Folklore research brought to the stage, and legitimized, the living legacy of our African heritage.

In this way, some of our historically marginalized essences were exhibited. The

Casa de las Américas established bridges of dialogue of unprecedented intensity with all of Latin America.

Only 72 hours had passed since the landing at Playa Girón. In the well known voice of actress Raquel Revuelta, news of the victory was announced. The invader had not been able to establish the beach head needed to justify an OAS intervention. United in resistance, the people displayed the strength that would allow them to confront other battles. The spirit of a nation re-conquered had taken shape in Girón

Looking to the future, amidst the fighting, the Literacy Campaign continued.
Raúl Receives Angolan Minister of National Defense
During the fraternal meeting, the two leaders emphasized the excellent relations shared by their countries; the historic, collaborative ties that unite the two peoples, governments, and armed forces; as well as their desire to further strengthen the relationship

Granma | internet@granma.cu
April 13, 2018 08:04:42
Photo: Estudio Revolución

President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, yesterday afternoon, received Angola's Minister of National Defense, Salviano de Jesús Sequeira, who is making an official visit to Cuba, on the invitation of the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.

During the fraternal meeting, the two leaders emphasized the excellent relations shared by their countries; the historic, collaborative ties that unite the two peoples, governments, and armed forces; as well as their desire to further strengthen the relationship.

The distinguished guest was accompanied by Lieutenant Generals Carlos Filomeno de Sousa Couceiro and Luis Manuel Da Fonseca Sotto-Mayor Pizarro. While also present on the Cuban side were Army Corps Generals Leopoldo Cintra Frías and Álvaro López Miera, minister and first deputy minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, respectively, as well as Brigadier General Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez.
Fake Starbucks Coupon Aimed at African Americans Uses Racial Slurs
Zlati Meyer, USA TODAY
3:32 p.m. ET April 18, 2018

Starbucks plans to close more than 8,000 U.S. stores for several hours next month to conduct racial-bias training for nearly 175,000 workers. This comes after two black men were arrested in one of its stores in Philadelphia. (April 18) AP

Fake Starbucks coupons purporting to offer free coffee to African Americans are making the rounds on social media.

The voucher, believed to be a hate-filled prank crafted by the white-supremacy movement, features a QR code that, when scanned, reveals the N-word.

The bogus certificate surfaced Wednesday amid legitimate calls for a boycott over Starbucks' decision to phone 911 to have police arrest two black men at a downtown Philadelphia location because they hadn't bought anything last Thursday. They were denied use of a restroom even though they explained they were waiting for a friend. The furor arose over what is viewed as a double standard compared to how white customers are treated.

As for the phony coupons, "This is completely false and in no way associated with Starbucks," Jaime Riley, a spokeswoman for the coffee chain, said in an e-mail. "They cannot be redeemed in our stores."

Several different versions of the same coupon are circulating.

The so-called "Let's Talk Coupon" reads, "We're sorry. We know we can do better. Starbucks values all people of color and we are working on employee sensitivity training. The best dialogue starts over a cup of coffee and we'd like to buy you one."

The apology and the reference to having open conversations about racism are references to real actions Starbucks has taken. CEO Kevin Johnson has apologized for last week's incident. On Tuesday, the company announced plans to close all company-owned stores in the U.S. for the afternoon on May 29 for racial-bias training.

The voucher says the offer for a free beverage of any size and any variety is valid from April 18 until May 18. One version of the coupon adds that it's for "People of Color only", while another says, "Limited to persons of African American heritage and/or identity at time of exchange."
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In addition to the faux legalese, the coupon features the Starbucks logo, the company's iconic shade of green and photos of the chain's drinks.

To use the coupon, baristas are told to use the discount code 1488, which is an allusion to two numbers white supremacists have embraced.

The so-called "14 Words" is a white-power slogan and 88 is a reference to "Heil Hitler," words that both begin with the eighth letter of the alphabet.

NAACP spokesman Malik Russell called the coupon "an unfortunate response" to steps civil rights organizations are taking to improve how the country deals with racism.

"Individuals are seeking to take advantage of these discussions to create more dissension," he said. "That’s not the direction we need to be going in."


The incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks where two black men were arrested while waiting for a white friend is novel in its coverage, but African Americans say this type of treatment isn't new.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer