Posts Tagged ‘ANC’

Republik Südafrika: Beredtes Schweigen

Donnerstag, November 1st, 2012

“Land Reform in South Africa: An Unfulfilled Obligation

By Glenn Ashton · 1 Nov 2012

The question of land and agricultural reform in South Africa remains largely unresolved as we head towards the end of our second decade of democracy. It is remarkable that a democratically elected government, enjoying such an overwhelming parliamentary majority and popular support, has failed so spectacularly, in such an important area of governance, for so long.

It is equally remarkable that the government is still, this late in the day, touting concepts as vague as the five-step programme on land reform recently outlined by President Zuma. Something certainly has to be said about this hot button issue. What with leadership under review, even vapid brainstorms may be interpreted as leadership!

The fact is that land reform, tenure and security has not yet been tackled sufficiently robustly by the democratic government. The early iterations of the land reform process bumbled along with good intentions but with little impact.

The new post 1994 political leadership appeared unable or unwilling to grasp obvious solutions like tapping into the vast collection of state owned land as a starting point. A major roadblock was that the dysfunctional Department of Public Works was unable to quantify state land ownership. This problem remains unresolved. A separate national audit of all private land ownership, meant to be completed in 2010 also awaits completion. No wonder land reform remains so fraught.

We are now in the anomalous position of decreasing numbers of white commercial farmers owning increasingly large farms. This has occurred through the government continuing to support an industrial farming model dependent on high input, energy intensive farming using genetically modified seed. This is the antithesis of farming practice required for land and agrarian reform. Land reform and agricultural practices are inextricably connected if transformation is to succeed.

A global consensus has emerged amongst ideologically disparate organisations like the World Bank, the UN Global Environment Facility and various other UN bodies that diversified, smallholder led, sustainable farming practices are required to feed a growing global population in the face of climatic and economic uncertainty.

The failure to achieve land and agricultural reform has negatively impacted food security. National levels of mal- and under nutrition remain a disgrace in a food exporting nation like South Africa. Land reform, food security, market reform and access to a balanced diet are each distinct aspects of the same problem, none of which have been adequately addressed, let alone resolved.

While the government has made the right noises about land reform during the previous 18 years, little more has been achieved than placating investors while alienating the political support base. The land reform programme started by the 1994 Restitution of Land Rights Act has largely failed key constituencies such as women and marginalised communities who voted the ANC into power.

A green paper on land reform took six years to compile. When it was released in 2011, it said nothing new and was arguably counter-productive. Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti has attempted to fix a broken system but clearly lacks an over-arching vision. There is little work being done on the Land Tenure Security Bill. The Communal Land Resources Act of 2004 was declared unconstitutional in 2010, in a judgement, which turned on technical details yet left the substantiative problems related to communal land ownership unaddressed.

The Extension of Security of Tenure Act, meant to protect vulnerable farm workers and dwellers, has not been adequately enforced. So land tenure and security, both within traditional structures and on conventional farms, remain unresolved.

Agricultural extension and support programmes such as the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP), Micro Agricultural Financial Institutions of South Africa (MAFISA) and the Land Care Foundation have been criticised by both parliamentary committees and by farmers. The present Minister of Agriculture is clearly out of her depth and would not be there except for her obsequious support for the President. Previous Ministers have fared little better.

Neither have supposedly neutral arbiters been much help. Recent proclamations by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) assumed a particularly tactless stance by claiming “populist” calls for land reform, particularly for agricultural land, were misplaced. The IRR opined that these calls were unrealistic, suggesting that people rather aspired toward middle class, urban lifestyles than toward a return to unglamorous, agrarian roots. While increased urbanisation and the middle class dream may be relevant, this is only one facet of a complex land debate.

Despite a promise to transfer 30% of agricultural land by 2014, only 8% has been transferred to date. Even this is problematic as extension services to newly settled farmers are inadequate and failure rates of new land claimants are high. State extension services can cost more than R40 000 per visit. Smallholder farmers are seldom assisted and extension quality is rated below par.

On the other hand NGO’s and private entities are providing extension services at a fraction of this cost. In KwaZulu Natal a full time extension officer provides support at less than R40 000, to extended communities, per month. There are clearly ways to fix the problems of agrarian reform, more efficiently, flexibly and productively than is presently being done.

Land reform is an undeniably political process. Yet the piecemeal, fragmented and un-coordinated solutions of land and agricultural reform have signally failed to achieve the desired results. The recently released New Growth Plan recognises the importance of the agricultural economy, yet its proposals echo the ASGISA programme, which failed to achieve any significant progress. It is fine and well for the New Growth Plan to propose creation of a million farming jobs by 2030 but how realistic is this given prior delivery experience?

The string of examples cited highlight an overriding reality: That we have attempted to fix a broken system of land and agricultural reform without a suitable overarching vision or template. We have never achieved anything approaching a national consensus on how we should achieve what is clearly urgently required.

It seems obvious that a national summit on land reform should be held. Practical and academic studies and models must be presented, discussed, and a focussed, overarching policy hammered out. The CODESA template would provide a suitable way forward. It may be an expensive exercise but the alternative is to continue to waste billions of Rands, attempting to fix a broken system with broken tools. Some degree of constitutional and legal reform may be required to solve land and agrarian issues, but broad consensus must be gained and then acted upon.

The reality is that the world is rapidly changing. South African agricultural policy has failed to reflect this. Industrial agriculture remains the dominant voice, echoing the past but devoid of a suitable vision for the future. While the old agricultural extension model may have worked in the past, it is increasingly irrelevant.

Extension to large commercial farmers is provided by seed and chemical companies while small and emerging farmers are left in the cold by extension officers incapable of helping them because of poor foundations – agricultural colleges perpetuate outdated practices. Small and emerging farmers need constant, innovative and hands on assistance, not a visit every year or two by extension officers trained in irrelevant methodology.

There are numerous experts with excellent proposals to achieve the required changes. The Programme for Land and Agrarian Reform (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape has studied many of these and proposed numerous solutions to various aspects of these systemic problems. The Sustainability Institute at the University of Stellenbosch has implemented several courses examining food production systems at Masters and higher levels.

There are numerous small scale NGO-run schemes, which can be scaled up, just as there are indeed some successful programmes initiated by the government, which can be replicated. Equally, we can learn as much from our failures as from our successes. We should also take some lessons from land reform programmes in South America and elsewhere in Africa.

A broad body of relevant international experience exists, including agricultural programmes devised to withstand the impacts of climate change and water constraints. These are particularly suited to smallholder and emerging farmers. The UN FAO runs regular international dialogues on food security from which our policy makers are notably absent. Most of our systemic shortcomings can be addressed.

We also need to reduce staff turnover with every change of political administration, especially in portfolios like agriculture where institutional memory is so important.

The solutions for land reform are certainly more complex than those related to agricultural solutions, because of the political baggage. However land reform can never succeed if there is not an over-arching model to enable the productive use and resettlement of the land.

It is fruitless to hand over huge parcels of land to new, emerging farmers with inadequate capital resources and no means to leverage land for capital collateral. Most of the land presently being transferred to new owners is not even transferred, but leased, almost setting the system up for failure.

We urgently need to move away from the failed dialogue of the deaf between government and commercial farmers. We need wider expertise, broader buy-in and the involvement of grass roots farmers if this system is to succeed. All of the interests and experts in this field must co-operate to solve this problem for once and for all.

Or we can just muddle along, floating woolly concepts until the fuse for the powder keg is lit by circumstance or a Malema clone, placing expediency above the collective interest.

Ashton is a writer and researcher working in civil society. Some of his work can be viewed at

Read more articles by Glenn Ashton.

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(Quelle: The South African Civil Society Information Service.)

Republik Südafrika: Mandela kam nicht bis Marikana

Dienstag, August 21st, 2012

“South Africa’s massacre: peeling the onion

By Roger Southall, 20 August 2012

The shooting dead of striking miners by armed police at Marikana exposes hard truths about post-apartheid South Africa that the country’s new elites have preferred to ignore, says Roger Southall.

South Africans are reeling in horror at a violent incident on 16 August 2012 which recalls the darkest days of the country’s apartheid past: the killing by armed police of around thirty-four miners (the precise number is not yet confirmed) at a platinum-mine owned by the giant Lonmin company, near Rustenberg in the country’s north. Government ministers and senior figures in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) are expressing simultaneous shock, outrage and perplexity at what has become known as the “Marikana massacre”. The recurrent refrain is that the task now is to understand what lies behind the tragedy, and that it’s too early to “point fingers” in blame. President Jacob Zuma, meanwhile, has promised the appointment of a commission of inquiry with a wide-ranging scope.

There is, in short, a mixture of surprise, puzzlement and remorse among the ruling elite. But why the surprise? The writing has been on the walls of the powerful for a long time now, even if it is indecipherable to those lacking the will to read it. In fact, the Marikana massacre has been a tragedy waiting to happen. When the commission of inquiry comes to write its report – though it is most unlikely to allocate any responsibility before the ANC’s leadership election at Mangaung (Bloemfontein) in December 2012 – it might well choose to peel the Marikana onion in four stages.

The unions

The first, outer skin of the onion can be said to comprise the rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the largest affiliate of the ANC-aligned Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). The AMCU originally split from the NUM in 1998, but has come to prominence only over the last two or three years – notably at the Implats and Lonmin mines in the emerging platinum-belt in Rustenburg, in North West Province, not far north of Johannesburg.

The AMCU has been growing at the NUM’s expense, even while the latter has been dismissing its rival as promoted by the bosses to undermine it. Lonmin says it informed the NUM in March 2012 that the union’s membership amongst the company’s employees had fallen to less than 51%. This meant that in terms of the recognition agreement between the company and NUM, the latter had six months to restore its membership level, failing which new negotiation arrangements would need to be concluded. The immediate outcome was an aggressive recruitment campaign by the NUM which was met with an equally aggressive response by the AMCU (which probably claimed a membership level of around 20%, notably amongst rock-drillers).

The ensuing competition became increasingly violent, with both the NUM and Lonmin claiming to be victims – the former of rogue forces seeking to divide the unity of the workers’ movement, the latter of an inter-union dispute which it claimed it was powerless to prevent. The commission of inquiry will do well to track the specifics, but when it comes to analyse the dynamics of the rivalry it will almost certainly point to a growing gulf between workers on the ground floor and their union officials.

The NUM itself is uncomfortably aware of this. Since 1994 it has commissioned five-yearly surveys of how its members see the union and how it addresses their needs. Just recently, it has been talking of making these surveys once every two years. Meanwhile, Cosatu general-secretary Zwelenzima Vavi has complained in his organisation’s own annual report that the federation is increasingly bedeviled by its preoccupation with ANC politics, as major forces within Cosatu (including Frans Baleni, general secretary of the NUM) line up alongside the South African Communist Party (SACP) in order to boost the chances of Jacob Zuma’s re-election to the ANC presidency in December 2012. Vavi’s report was rejected by Cosatu’s executive; this was no surprise, since the majority of the executive is said to be increasingly irritated by Vavi’s loud and increasingly insistent critique of the ANC as presiding over a cesspit of corruption, and doing nothing to clean it up.

The standard critique of Cosatu from the right is that it is becoming the vehicle of a privileged stratum of formally employed workers amongst a growing sea of the informally employed and unemployed. This is undoubtedly unfair, if only because average wage levels for even formally employed workers remain dismally low, and wages need to be spread around households steeped in gruelling poverty. Nonetheless, it can be argued that there is an increasing class dimension to Cosatu’s internal politics, from which the NUM is not immune – notably the use of union office for purposes of personal upward mobility rather than as a project for fighting the battles of the working class.

Indeed, an irony of the more labour-friendly industrial-relations dispensation which has been put in place in post-apartheid South Africa, may well be that it has removed workers’ struggles from the factory floor and the mines into the boardrooms, even as the unions themselves have established and grown investment companies which, whilst formally separate, offer prospects of opportunity, enrichment and profit. Unsurprisingly, the AMCU expresses the discontents, anger and frustration of some of those who feel they are being left behind and ignored by the powers-that-be – not only employers, the government and the ANC but the established trade-union movement as well. No wonder that the AMCU’s demands are for a wage rise from around R4,000 (L310) a month to R12,000-plus a month, and the right to a decent standard of living!

The police

Beneath the onion skin lies a second layer: worryingly apartheid-style policing. Television images of the Marikana massacre showed armed cops, some of them in camouflage uniforms, confronting the protesting AMCU workers. Yes, the workers were themselves bedecked with pangas, knives and anything else at hand. It is also not improbable, as police claim, that some of them were armed with guns and may even have started the gun-battle which had such disastrous consequences.

But it’s all so predictable. Post-apartheid policing was meant to get away from the bad old days when police patrolled the rioting townships and the black majority was the enemy. Even now there is much lip-service to such heartwarming notions as “community policing” and serving the public. And certainly, it’s tough out there, with the police themselves suffering many violent deaths, as well as demoralisingly low pay levels. Yet alongside some progress towards more acceptable modes of policing, there are worrying signs of regression.

The arrest of a police hit-squad in KwaZulu-Natal which had taken the law into its own hands is one example; the disturbingly high incidence of deaths in police detention (albeit fewer than under apartheid) is another. But Marikana is a forceful reminder of a shift towards the militarisation of policing, prefigured by events in 2010 (a call by the deputy police minister Fikile Mabalula for the transformation of the police into a paramilitary force, followed by the return to a system of military-style ranks). Even before then, controversy had erupted around statements by then top cop Bheki Cele which were widely interpreted as endorsing a “shoot-to-kill” policy by police. Cele strenuously refuted this reading of his remarks, but nonetheless they appear to have set the tone for a tougher, “no-nonsense” style of policing in which preparedness to resort to violence to confront crime has become increasingly acceptable.

At Marikana, police claim that the striking miners opened fire first. They may well be right, but numerous questions would still follow, notably their use of live ammunition in such apparent disproportion. Perhaps, as at Sharpeville in 1960, police panicked (there are stories of a wrong order being given). But whatever the case, the level of slaughter was unforgiveable. Some days before Marikana, it was reported that the number of protests in South Africa between 1 January and 31 July 2012 has already exceeded the highest number recorded for any single year since 2004. Increasingly, it would seem, South African police are being brought into confrontation with a growing revolt of the poor, with Marikana just another episode.

The politicians

A third layer, ever closer to the core of the onion, is the failure of the politicians to take responsibility. The dispute at British-owned Lonmin (formerly Lonhro) has been rumbling for months. About a week before the massacre, management had increased security and called in the police. Subsequently, two policemen were hacked to death, apparently by supporters of the AMCU. More police were then brought in. After the death-toll had risen to ten, senior cops moved in, but still the politicians stayed away. As the week moved on, senior AMCU officials were imported to address the striking workers, who were gathering on a nearby hill, while the workers themselves demanded to speak to senior management. When management failed to turn up, the workers became increasingly angry, and the scene was set by 16 August for the police to decide to disarm the swelling number of armed and militant workers. They boasted standard tools of “crowd management” and rubber-bullets, but were armed with live ammunition as well.

Meanwhile, government ministers who might reasonably have got involved to calm a dispute which was visibly getting out of hand chose to stand back and to view the crisis as simply a union matter. Perhaps it was simply too politically dangerous to venture into Cosatu territory, to adopt a neutral stance between the AMCU and the NUM. When, in the lead up to the tragedy, the Chamber of Mines had sought to bring the two unions together for talks, the NUM had refused to meet with AMCU. When belatedly the minister of mines, Susan Shabangu, sought to bring different parties together, her department reportedly omitted to invite the AMCU on the grounds that it did not recognise it as a legitimate union.

Belatedly, after the massacre and amidst much wringing of hands, ministers are eager to be seen to taking action – with the police minister, Nathi Mthethwa, now thrown into the thick of things. The crisis is also accentuating a crucial political gulf. The contrast in styles of the visits to Marikana by President Zuma and one-time-disciple-turned-enemy Julius Malema was symbolic. Zuma was at a conference in Harare when the massacre occurred. Perhaps he could not get to Marikana earlier, but when he did arrive it was under cover of darkness, met with management, and visited the injured in hospital. His main response has been the appointment of the commission of inquiry – a sensible but bureaucratic course of action, and unlikely to appease the striking workers.

In contrast, Malema – who was driven out of the ANC in March 2012 following extended party-disciplinary procedures which many believe were driven by his campaign to see Zuma unseated – drove from his home in Polokwane without any formal authority, refused police offers of protection, and walked unarmed and unescorted into a large open field where the striking miners were waiting for him. There he railed against Zuma (“he doesn’t care about the mineworkers, he came here last night and met with whites” [i.e. management]…He went to speak to the white people, not you. It was not the white British people who were killed, it was you.”

Malema railed against the police; he railed against Cyril Ramaphosa (one-time NUM general-secretary and now rich businessman, who doubled up as the chair of the disciplinary committee which expelled him from the ANC); and he railed against the NUM (“when the workers have problems, the NUM sells them out”).

Malema’s intervention is telling, and may yet prove to have been momentous. When he was expelled from the ANC (and, apparently, the taxman was sent after him to query his highly dubious financial affairs), it looked to many that he was down and out, and that Zuma had vanquished him. Now that is not so clear. Let’s forget that Malema’s populist politics threaten to lead South Africa down the road of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe: there is probably no other politician in South Africa who could have walked onto that field unarmed and exited alive – certainly not the luminaries of the SACP who are in bed with Zuma and are working so hard to get him re-elected (see “South Africa’s political duel: Zuma vs Malema“, 22 November 2011).

Hitherto, deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe (another former general-secretary of the NUM) has been reticent about whether he will run against Zuma at Mangaung. But with Zuma fast losing his allure (and many would say his grip on government), and with Malema threatening by implication to undermine the ANC’s basis of support amongst the poor, it may well be that Motlanthe will increasingly be pressurised to stand for the party presidency by those who – with good reason – have begun to worry about the ANC’s longevity.

The employers

The fourth layer, lying at the core of the Marikana onion, lies the legacy and present performance of the mining industry. South Africa’s economy was, notoriously, built upon the super-exploitation of migrant labour imported from neighbouring territories and the bantustans. Gradually, from the 1970s, things changed. For both economic and political reasons, foreign labour was largely phased out (or in the case of Lesotho, encircled by South Africa, heavily reduced). This presaged a new mining landscape, which gathered momentum after 1994. Its main features have been a massive decline in gold-mining, the rise of platinum alongside other minerals, and the closing down of the compounds into which migrant labours were previously forcibly corralled.

Today, increasingly, the mines draw their workforces from local communities, amongst which those who still retain connections with the former bantustans reside in backyards and shanties. Meanwhile, as the mines become increasingly capital-intensive, the proportion of their labour force which is permanently employed declines, and numerous mineworkers are now casually employed, or supplied by contracting companies.

No one should lament the passing of the compounds. Yet this has allowed for the externalisation of many of the social costs of looking after workers – from feeding and housing them to attending to their sanitation. The burden falls upon already overburdened local communities, at the very time when local government in South Africa is collapsing.

It is often supposed that this is an era in which the attitudes and practices of mining companies are becoming more enlightened; indeed, all the large ones are signatories to a “mining charter” which promises wondrous things. But a report by the Bench Marks Foundation, coincidentally released just before the massacre, reports a massive gap between the the mining companies’ promises and their practice. It also highlights (inter alia) a lack of educational facilities and training, environmental pollution, and a total absence of concern for the social conditions in which their workers now live.

In the particular case of Lonmin, 9,000 workers were dismissed in 2011; and those losing their jobs who had also participated in the company’s housing scheme would simultaneously have been deprived of their homes. Lonmin, like other platinum companies now cutting back amid the global slowdown, pleads penury and responsibility to shareholders. Accordingly, its management cannot be immune from speculation that it has not been too worried to see the AMCU and the NUM at each other’s throats, rather than face a workforce united by a single union determined to better workers’ conditions.

The Marikana massacre has coincided with a time when many South Africans have come to feel increasingly uneasy, fearing that the promise of 1994 has faded and that the country has lost its way. Hopefully, it will serve as a jolt to the national conscience, and shame those who claim that the only way to attract foreign investment is by reducing the cost and conditions of labour into rethinking. But don’t count on it: for while, conceivably, the tragedy may undermine the Zuma presidency, more and greater shocks may yet be needed before government and employers combine for a serious assault upon poverty and inequality.”


(Quelle: openDemocracy.)

Siehe auch:

Cops ignore ‘don’t shoot’ directive
The guns of Marikana
Tödlicher Protest
Justice Now For The Marikana Workers and Communities!

Republik Südafrika: Eine Frage, Nelson…

Freitag, Juni 22nd, 2012

“Why are we still living the apartheid life?

By Bandile Mdlalosa

The anti-apartheid struggle has been betrayed. But all is not lost. The people must once again unite and wage a new struggle to liberate themselves.

I sit back and fail to understand why there are people still staying in shacks. I fail to understand why there is so much separation in this country, why there are areas for the rich and the poor. I fail to understand why we are still living the same way that we lived in the times of the apartheid. I fail to understand why out of all the things that we said we would have from democracy we can only point to and feel so few of them. Is this what Mandela stayed 27 years in prison for? Is that what so many people struggled for in the trade unions and in the UDF?

Why are the poor still mistreated? Why are our voices still not heard? Why do we still not count? Why are we still voting?

As it is youth month, I sit back and look at where we have come from after all the years of struggle since the deaths of 1976. All is slowly sinking in as the new government is making sure that we remember the heroes of the struggle but not what the struggle was for. Struggle is remembered only to try and make us obey the government and not to encourage us to continue the struggle. I ask myself why Hector Paterson was shot, why Mbuyisa Makhubo had to flee the country and stay in Nigeria?

How many people must die before this country changes? Recently we have seen Andries Tatane being shot just like Hector Peterson. He is not the only one. There are now 25 names on the list of people that have been killed by the police during protests after apartheid. Twenty-five! For how long must we keep quiet? For how long must we be killed in our own country for the truth we behold in our hands?

This time we need to be focused. It is high time that the youth of 1976 rose from the dead. We need to unite and complete the work that they started. Their interest was simple: they were fighting for freedom, which is something that we have only on paper. What’s the point of having the right to protest if police will be guarding us with big guns, sometimes killing us during protests? What is the point of having the right to freedom of expression if the president and the African National Congress are pushing the Secrecy Bill and Blade Nzimande calls political analysts ‘dogs’?

As part of the South African youth of the 1980s I’m passionate enough to complete what was started by the 1976 youth. The country will change, the constitution will be implemented and everyone will be treated with respect and dignity. It’s about time that we should all count the same despite the fact that some are poor and others are rich and without looking at race. Everyone should be equal before the law and when it comes to making decisions about their communities and the future of this country. There should be no discrimination of places – where there is one area for the rich and another for the poor. The social value of land must come before its commercial value. Everyone young person must have a real right to education, an income and a place to stay.

We might not get there in the next hour. But tomorrow the light will be on. We will be celebrating the victory of unity.

Aluta continua!


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* Bandile Mdlalose is a member of Abahlali baseMjondolo, South Africa’s shack dwellers movement.

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(Quelle: Pambazuka.)

Republik Südafrika: Kritisches zum ANC-Jubiläum

Dienstag, April 10th, 2012

“The ANC centenary: A display of elite power

By Ayanda Kota

The centenary celebrations of the African National Congress (ANC) are being used to persuade the people that a movement that has betrayed the people is our government; a government that obeys the people, instead of a government of the elites, for the elites and by the elites. It is a hugely expensive spectacle designed to drug us against our own oppression and disempowerment.

In his Communist Manifesto Karl Marx wrote that, ‘Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class…The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the affairs of the bourgeoisie’. Here Marx is referring to the ability of the bourgeois to translate economic power into state power, thus reducing our governments to mere managers acting in the interests of capital and not the people. This has happened to governments around the world. But here our politicians are not mere managers. They are, like in Russia or India, a predatory elite with their own class interests and they support capital and repress the people as long as they can get their own share.

Since 1994 there hasn’t been a reorganisation of the economy. The commanding heights of the economy continue to reside in the hands of a tiny elite, most of which is white. Unemployment is skyrocketing. Most young people have never worked. Anyone can see that there is an excessive amount of poverty in South Africa. There are shacks everywhere. In fact, poverty reigns supreme in our country. Every year Jacob Zuma promises to create new jobs and every year unemployment grows.

If things were getting better, even if they were getting better slowly, people might be willing to be patient. But things are getting worse every year. Poverty and inequality are getting worse. The government is increasingly criminalising poverty instead of treating it as a political problem. When people try to organise they are always presented as a third force being used to undermine democracy and bring back racism. But it is the ANC that has failed to develop any plans to democratise the economy. It is the ANC that has failed to develop any plans to democratise the media. It is the ANC that disciplines the people for the bourgeoisie a role that they are very comfortable to play! It is the ANC that follows the line of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It is our local leaders who are taking the leap from their old bosses, stealing from us, treating us with contempt, acting like the former colonial government and oppressing us.

During the struggle our leaders embodied the aspirations of the people. But once they took state power they didn’t need us any more. We were sent home. We are only called out to vote or attend rallies. But all the time our people are evicted from farms, paving way for animals as farms are turned into game reserves under the pretext of tourism. Our people are evicted from cities. Our people are denied decent education. The party has become a mixture of what Marx would call an instrument of power in the hands of the bourgeoisie and what Fanon would call a means of private advancement.

Biko wrote that ‘This is one country where it would be possible to create a capitalist black society, if whites were intelligent, if the nationalists were intelligent. And that capitalist black society, black middle class, would be very effective … South Africa could succeed in putting across to the world a pretty convincing, integrated picture, with still 70 percent of the population being underdogs.’

We, as the unemployed, belong to the 70 percent that Biko was talking about. We were happy to see the end of apartheid and we will always fight racism wherever we see it. But we are not free. There has only been freedom for the 30 percent. How can a person be free with no work, no house and no hope for their life?

R100 million is being spent on the celebration spent to entertain elites, through playing golf and drinking the most expensive whiskey. Golf players are even receiving massages from young women sponsored by South African Breweries. This is not a people’s celebration. We are absent! How some of us wish that all that money could have been used to build houses, create employment, build sport facilities or schools for kids who continue to learn under trees! Biko was right. As the world celebrates with the ANC today they put across a pretty convincing picture of freedom while everywhere people are broken by the burdens of poverty.

In his ‘Wretched of the Earth’, in the chapter called ‘The Pitfalls of the National Consciousness’, Frantz Fanon wrote: ‘The leader pacifies the people. For years on end after independence has been won, we see him, incapable of urging on the people to a concrete task, unable really to open the future to them or of flinging them into the path of national reconstruction, that is to say, of their own reconstruction; we see him reassessing the history of independence and recalling the sacred unity of the struggle for liberation. The leader, because he refuses to break up the national bourgeoisie, asks the people to fall back into the past and to become drunk on the remembrance of the epoch which led up to independence. The leader, seen objectively, brings the people to a halt and persists in either expelling them from history or preventing them from taking root in it. During the struggle for liberation the leader awakened the people and promised them a forward march, heroic and unmitigated. Today, he uses every means to put them to sleep, and three or four times a year asks them to remember the colonial period and to look back on the long way they have come since then.’

I am not opposed to the centenary celebration of the ANC. But if the ANC was a progressive movement they would have organised a celebration in a way that includes the people and supports us to build our power. They could have, for instance, asked people to meet all over the country, discuss how far we have come and how far we still have to go, and draw up demands for a new freedom charter for the new era. But this celebration is just a spectacle that we are supposed to watch on TV. It is exactly what Fanon talks about. It is designed to keep us drunk on the memory of the past struggle, so that we must stop struggling and remain in the caves.

In a recent protest in Bloemfontein, police were there in numbers to flush the demonstrators. This has happened in many other demonstrations. The message is very clear: ‘Go back to your caves!’ It is backed up by state violence. As Fanon says, a party that can’t marry national consciousness with social consciousness will disintegrate; nothing will be left but the shell of a party, the name, the emblem and the motto. He says that: ‘The living party, which ought to make possible the free exchange of ideas which have been elaborated according to the real needs of the mass of the people has been transformed into a trade union of individual interests.’

This is exactly what the party has become. Institutions such as parliament and local municipalities have been severely compromised because of individual interests. Corruption is rampant. The Protection of Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) is another illustration of how the selfish interests of individuals have taken over the party.

A true liberation movement would never have killed Andries Tatane, attacked and jailed activists of social movements. It would never send people to lull – it would encourage people to continue organising and mobilising against injustices and oppression. A progressive leader would know that they cannot substitute themselves for the will of the people. A progressive party would never help the government in holding the people down through fascist attacks on the media by the likes of Nceba Faku, Blade Nzimande and Julius Malema to mention but a few. A democratic party would never engage in attacks on protests as we saw most recently with the ANC and ANCYL fascism against the Democratic Left Front in Durban during COP17 Conference.

In the Congo, in Nigeria and across the Arab world people are deserting celebrations of the flag and political leaders as if they really do represent the nation. Some are turning to a politics of religious or ethnic chauvinism. Others are turning to the politics of mass democratic rebellion or a democracy that is truly owned by the people. This is a free exchange of ideas backed up with popular force. We are also seeing this in Europe and North America. Latin America has been in rebellion for many years. Across South Africa more and more people are deserting the party that spends so much money to keep them drunk on the memory of the past struggle, their own struggle, the same struggle that the ruling party has privatised and betrayed. There are occupations, road blockades and protests and the message is loud and clear: Sekwanele! Genoeg! Enough!

The only way to truly honour the struggles of the past is to stand up for what is right, now. The struggle continues and will continue until we are all free.


* Ayanda Kota is chairperson of Unemployed People’s Movement in South Africa.
* Please send comments to editor{at}pambazuka{dot}org or comment online at Pambazuka News.”


(Quelle: Pambazuka News.)

Siehe auch:


Republic Südafrika: Prügel für den ANC

Dienstag, November 29th, 2011

“Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer accuses the ANC of apartheid-style censorship

Secrecy law to muzzle press will affect all writers, says poet and fighter against black oppression

By Tracy McVeigh

The Observer, Sunday 27 November 2011

Nobel prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer has spoken out against her government’s controversial new secrecy legislation, suggesting it is a move back towards the harsh censorship that existed under apartheid.

In an article written for the Observer Gordimer said freedom of expression had been “struck out as a danger to the state”, under the harsh Protection of State Information Bill, which may become law in South Africa by the end of the year. Leading commentators, editors and opposition parties dubbed the day the bill was passed in the South African parliament last week “Black Tuesday”.

The bill bans the publication of classified documents – even if the information could be in the public interest – and allows the government to class almost any category of information as secret. Anyone involved in whistleblowing or any journalist or editor involved in publishing such information could face 25 years in prison. The bill is also seen as a way of the government controlling how it is represented, and there are worries that its provisions are so all-encompassing that it could even curtail freedom of expression in literature.

Gordimer argues that the attack on media freedom is an attack on everyone’s “right to know and think”, which would affect the work of all writers. ANC politicians have said the laws are necessary because the country is under threat from “spies” and foreign invasion, while state security minister Siyabonga Cwele has claimed that groups opposing the bill were “local proxies of foreign spies”.

President Jacob Zuma has been accused of having too close a relationship with his country’s security services and of conducting a personal vendetta against South African media who have been putting his party and his leadership under ever increasing scrutiny. Raymond Louw, veteran former anti-apartheid editor and media activist, has told reporters the law is a betrayal of the ANC’s commitment to press freedom.

“The intention of this bill is to stop the media from disclosing corruption, malpractice and misgovernance, and inefficiencies,” he said. “It is a betrayal of the commitment to a free press and the constitutional commitment to a free press because it is so wide-ranging. And it is not reasonable for them to want to cover up secrets beyond those which are absolutely necessary for protection of national security.”

Gordimer’s attack is likely to embarrass the ANC ruling party, especially those who are already uncomfortable with the bill, which has two further stages to go through before it is signed into law by Zuma.

The author pours scorn on the idea that South Africa might be under any kind of threat from outside forces, saying: “Is Cuba going to send an invasive force to bring to power our small communist party?”

She writes that the bill would not just affect the press but also poets, novelists and playwrights: “Workers in all literary modes will be subject to the bill through our fictional characters’ actions and opinions, alive in our books.”

The author has long links with the struggle against black oppression. She had three books banned under the infamous apartheid regime’s censorship laws, along with an anthology of poetry by black South African writers that she collected and had published.

Gordimer was born in Gauteng, South Africa, in 1923 to immigrant European parents. She was called one of the great “guerrillas of the imagination” by the poet Seamus Heaney, and a “magnificent epic writer” by the Nobel committee, and is a hugely respected figure involved in charitable and anti-censorship projects.

She became active in the then banned South African National Congress after the Sharpeville massacre, and was one of the first people Nelson Mandela asked to see when he was released in 1990. When her west Johannesburg home was raided by violent robbers in 2006, it sparked national outrage.”


(Quelle: The Observer.)

Republik Südafrika: Don’t worry about the Government

Dienstag, November 22nd, 2011

“South Africa: Controversial secrecy bill could ‘smother free speech’

Campaigners say the bill will prevent the media from reporting on corruption

Campaigners say the bill will prevent the media from reporting on corruption. (Photo: © Right2Know)

The South African parliament must quash a draconian secrecy bill, Amnesty International said today as the government votes on a proposed law which could see journalists and whistleblowers in prison for investigating state wrongdoing.

If the bill is passed, journalists will no longer be able to argue that they are acting in the public interest by publishing sensitive information about the government. They could face up to 25 years in prison for publishing information which state officials want to keep secret.

Black-clad activists across the country have staged protests condemning the bill. In Johannesburg, demonstrators picketed the headquarters of the governing ANC, calling for “the right to know”.

“This fatally flawed bill, which is totally at odds with the South African constitution, takes us right back to the apartheid-era restrictions on free speech,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa.

“If introduced, the bill will severely limit the crucial right of journalists and whistleblowers to expose corruption. The South African parliament must safeguard the media’s right to criticize the country’s leadership and vote against this proposed law tomorrow,” he said.

The African National Congress party is backing the Protection of State Information bill, making it likely that it will become law. The party says the new bill is not about “covering up corruption” or targeting the media but is being introduced to address threats of “foreign spies”.

Information which is currently available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act could be classified as “secret” by low-level officials, if the bill is passed.

State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele has argued that the bill is necessary to overhaul outdated apartheid laws. He has also raised the possibility that activists who have held peaceful demonstrations against the bill are being “used” by South Africa’s enemies.

“If the government pushes the bill through, journalists and whistleblowers could potentially be branded as criminals. If they were to be imprisoned under this law, Amnesty International would regard them as prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression,” said Noel Kututwa.

Activist groups have vowed to challenge the proposed law before South Africa’s highest court, if parliament votes in favour of the bill.”


(Quelle: amnesty international.)