Sunday, November 15, 2009




On the 11th of November 2009, the ANC YL convened a broad front of concerned formations in South Africa to develop a clear and concerted strategy to fight the abuse of alcohol, drugs and substances. We did so because the 23rd National Congress of the African National Congress Youth League mandated all structures of the organisation to, “establish programmatic relations with Non-governmental organizations, Community-Based organizations, Trade Unions and religious formations in the campaign against drugs, alcohol and substance abuse”. Congress specifically mandated ANC YL organisational structures to “advocate for the illegalisation of alcohol advertisements in all media channels; and further advocate for and ensure the adoption of a single national legislation on the regulation of alcohol trade, distribution, and consumption in communities”.

These resolutions were guided by an understanding in Congress that drugs, alcohol and substance abuse are in essence a counter-revolutionary feature, which if not curbed in society, could reverse the gains of our democratic dispensation and progress. It does not require rocket science to notice the extent at which the abuse of drugs, alcohol and substance negatively impacts on the struggle to politically and economically emancipate the black majority and Africans in particular in our construction of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and united South Africa. The abuse of these intoxicating substances and alcohol in particular does not only negatively impact the wellbeing of the individuals consuming them, but distorts society and leads to other grave social ills such as crime, rapid spread of HIV/AIDS, poor health, low success rates in education, sports, work, etc.

The society we are living in experiences serious social ills; these are mainly interlinked and attributable to irresponsible consumption of alcohol and abuse of drugs and substances. The 2007 ANC 52nd National Conference political report noted that “in the past five years the areas with the greatest number of violent crimes were identified as those that are poor and economically depressed. These areas, which account for more than 50% of violent crime in South Africa comprise only 169 police station-areas out of 1 136 police station-areas in the country. The socio-economic profile of these areas is similar. There are few recreational facilities. Unemployment is high. There are many dysfunctional families. There are many shebeens and other alcohol outlets and the levels of substance abuse are very high. Therefore, the objective of our government's Integrated Socio-Economic Development Programme is also aimed at combating crime”.

It appears from this observation that the involvement of communities and youth in criminal activities is largely a consequence of various other socio-economic realities, but also the usage of alcohol, drugs and substances. A recent study by the Medical Research Council pointed to various sad realities about alcohol abuse in South Africa. This includes the fact that “drinkers are 57 percent more likely to be HIV positive than non-drinkers”. Further than that the MRC has scientifically proven that “alcohol leads to violence and it makes one aggressive”. This is additional to the fact that many other sordid realities are alcohol related, including the facts that:

· Alcohol misuse is causally implicated in a range of chronic health problems (e.g. cirrhosis of the liver). However, many of the primary effects of alcohol misuse occur from episodes of acute alcohol intoxication.

· Acute alcohol intoxication is associated with increased mortality and morbidity arising from intentional and non-intentional injuries.

· Acute alcohol intoxication is also associated with unsafe sexual practices and increased risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

· Alcohol misuse, combined with poor nutritional status, increases susceptibility to opportunistic diseases by compromising the immune system.

· The misuse of alcohol during pregnancy has been linked to fetal alcohol syndrome in infants.

· Alcohol misuse also impacts on the criminal justice system, with evidence of associations between drinking at risky levels, committing crime, or being a victim of crime.

Economically, Red-Line Marking estimates that alcohol related cost to the South African economy is around R9 billion annually due to low productivity, conflicts, injuries, and damage to property including heavy machinery. The number of lives lost due to alcohol in South Africa is not insignificant, particularly when considering the reality that more 50% of car accidents are alcohol related and 60% of pedestrians treated at hospital trauma unit after collision are found with alcohol above the permissible limit. Various other counter progress realities in South Africa are indirectly and often directly linked to the abuse of alcohol.

This happens against the fact that alcohol regulation legislations and laws in the South Africa are rarely enforced, including on the limit number of years for people who are permitted to buy alcohol. South Africa’s largest brewery admits to the fact that more than 80% of Liquor Traders and Outlets in South Africa are unlicensed and little or nothing is done with enforcement of the existent Liquor trade regulation laws. South Africa’s democracy and rule of law will gradually loose legitimacy if the laws and legislations the country passes are violated without any repercussions. What is the use of law if it will not be enforced.

These realities and many others are at the centre of the ANC YL’s campaign against the abuse of drugs, alcohol and substances, with specific emphasis on alcohol abuse. Over the next months, the ANC YL will together with other social partners advocate for the reduction of alcohol available in our communities. The campaign will include but not limited to the following:

  • Community awareness campaign on the dangers of alcohol abuse.
  • Call for much stricter enforcement of alcohol regulations and laws.
  • Call for the illegalisation of all alcohol advertisement in all media channels.
  • Call for alternate activities and programmes that will preoccupy young people in communities, particularly sports, arts and recreational activities.

This multi-pronged approach to the campaign against the abuse of alcohol will be given the necessary attention without compromising any of the components over the other. This is vital because a narrower focus on the abuse of alcohol might miss the point and not resolve the challenges and problems associated with the abuse of alcohol. Of cardinal importance in the campaign is the fact that the ANC YL has already begun to mobilise various stakeholders, including Non-Governmental Organisations (Soul City), Community Based Organisations (Ulutsha Trust), Religious formations (South African Council of Churches, National Interfaith Religious Council, Al Burhaan) and Youth Political Organisations (COSAS, SASCO and Young Communist League). In a campaign of this magnitude, we need all social partners to join hands and fight against the abuse of alcohol in our communities.

The community awareness campaign the action group against alcohol abuse will engage in will include making communities aware of the social, biological and economic dangers of alcohol abuse. These should specifically be targeted on young people as they are easy preys of alcohol abuse. All structures of the ANC YL and organisations in the action group should ensure that as many young people as possible are aware of the dangers and detriments of alcohol abuse. Unfortunately the most common public spaces in South Africa’s townships and rural villages are alcohol outlets. Such should be openly confronted by communities and alternate means of public gathering be established to accommodate everyone.

As an immediate focus to stricter enforcement of alcohol regulations and laws, we call for police action on Liquor Traders who knowingly sell alcohol and all intoxicating substances to people under the age of 18. All illegal Liquor Traders should be stopped not only through police action, but by concerned communities. As mid and long-term interventions, the stricter regulation of alcohol trade and consumption should include regulation on the hours within which alcohol should be sold. Further than that, the number of years for people permissible to buy and drink alcohol should be increased to 21, and stricter sentences reserved for those who do not comply. The regulations should include illegalisation of Liquor outlets within 500 metres of learning and teaching premises such as Crèches and Schools. Alcohol legislation should in this instance be made a national competency, because Provinces and Municipalities have neglected this vital component of social transformation.

Advertisement of alcohol in South Africa is rife and somewhat led to the development of a social norm that celebrates alcohol usage. Almost all top South Africa’s sporting codes are used by the major brewers to promote alcohol. A significant number of advertisements outdoor, on television, radio, newspapers, and magazine are alcohol related. These advertisements do not even have warnings on the dangers of alcohol and screened during family viewing periods. Most of the advertisements associate alcohol brands with success and social progress. This can never be in a society where alcohol is responsible for most of our social ills. There should be a brave, but correct political decision to illegalize all alcohol advertisement and stricter penalties set for those who do underground illegal advertisements.

In instances where young people are addicted (hooked into) to alcohol, drugs and substances, government should build and increase the capacity of State rehabilitation centers around localities with the aim of renewing addicts back to normal society. The “Sin taxes” should be directed to the rehabilitation programmes. We should utilise various sectors and departments of the State and society, notably social development, education and health to train more youth as counselors to assist in counseling programmes of young people who irresponsibly consume alcohol and abuse drugs. This could lead to effective and sustainable mentorship programmes for those who might be identified as substance abusers, especially from dysfunctional families. At all levels, structures of the ANC YL should form a programme to dissuade abuse of drugs, alcohol and substance, while placing mechanisms and methods to rehabilitate those that have been addicted.

Overall, the campaign against the abuse of alcohol should be concurrent to the campaign for the development and support of sustainable recreational activities, which will occupy young people’s free time. The introduction of new sporting codes in particularly poor communities should be intensified, whilst emphasis placed on developing the sporting and creative potential of all young people. A variety of other programmes for young people to develop and explore their creative potential could be realised through formation of Youth, Poetry and Music Clubs, Reading/Study Groups, and various other programmes.

State departments, mainly on Sports, Arts and Culture, and sporting associations should be engaged to increase more resources on sports and creative industries to assist in keeping youth occupied with recreational and creative activities. This could include a concerted programme to support the development of Soccer, Netball, Rugby, Tennis, Cricket and broad recreational and creative activities. This could divert youth from other unhealthy activities such as drugs, alcohol, crime, etc.

The ANC YL has publicly vowed to stop at nothing in ensuring that the non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society under construction is not a society of drunkards, alcoholics and drug-addicts. We therefore call on all responsible citizens, structures, organisations, trade unions, non-governmental organisations, community based organisations, religions formations and political parties to join hands in the campaign against the abuse of alcohol, substances and drugs. South Africa’s progression into a better future requires that we work together in combating the abuse of alcohol, substances and drugs. Aluta!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Appoint Gama as Transnet GCEO



The African National Congress Youth League is on record in affirming Siyabonga Gama as the incoming Group Chief Executive Officer of Transnet. This is not fanatical support, but premised on and consistent with the developmental trajectory spelled out by the African National Congress Government. Our position on Gama re-affirms the principle we raised before, that black people and Africans in particular, should be appointed to key and strategic positions in the economy. The principles we emphasise do not only apply to Transnet, but cut across all State Owned Enterprises and huge Corporations in South Africa, which continue to be predominated by white males. These are largely inconsistent with the developmental trajectory spelled out in the ANC government’s programme, as guided by the ANC’s 52nd National Conference resolutions and 2009 elections Manifesto of building a democratic developmental state.

The developmental state’s essence should necessarily be underpinned by its institutional, technical, administrative and political capacities and ability to remain autonomous from social forces which could hamper its capacity to formulate and implement long-term economic policies. The developmental state in South Africa is aimed at creating sustainable livelihoods for all through creation of decent employment and development of infrastructure in all communities. The biggest challenge to the State capacity as witnessed in most State Owned Enterprises’ corporatisation and tendering of certain services, is evidently from the narrow interests of the private sector, mainly the cartels which get tenders for the expansion programmes, such as the R80 billion Transnet expansion programme. This somewhat constitutes the main problem on who should lead Transnet. The allegations of irregular issuing of Tenders by Gama is but a ploy to prevent him from leading Transnet, since his ascendance will threaten the accumulation patterns of certain scavenger cartels that are aiming to accumulate Transnet’s expansion programme.

The charges against Gama pertain to matters that are not even directly handled by him but by people three to four levels below him, yet he is being called to answer to them. In normal corporate governance, Gama ought to have been merely informed by the internal auditors if there were any concerns and he would delegate the appropriate General Manager to follow up and cure any irregularities, if any. Yet he is being brought to the court of public opinion to be tried and sentenced, in absentia, for actions that are not in the normal ambit and purvey of a Chief Executive. As reported in the Sunday Times, it is apparent that there are irregularities in the management of the capital Program at Transnet, to the benefit of private sector interests and Transnet management would rather distract our focus away from the scavenger cartels enjoying carcasses that they have not had to hunt for.

The view expressed in the 2008/09 Employment Equity Report that the exclusion of black, particularly African executives from key and strategic positions in huge corporations is not a result of incapacity and inexperience, it also rings very true in the case of Transnet’s exclusion of Siyabonga Gama. Siyabonga Gama spent the past 16 years in Transnet and grew within its ranks , working at the port of Durban and later managing the port of east London, to attain necessary experience and expertise to become Chief Executive to one of Transnet’s most vital component operations, the Rail Freight Division (formerly Spoornet), which he evidently managed with excellence. Prior to Transnet Freight Rail, Gama was the General Manager responsible for the vertical separation of the ports division and later assumed the role of the Chief Executive of the port authority division, which he grew to become the biggest contributor of profits to Transnet.

It was this level of achievement that prompted Transnet to request him to go and turnaround the fortunes of the ailing railways division. His experience and knowledge of Transnet far exceeds that of the recently departed GCEO, Maria Ramos, who in her own right is a capable executive. The only reason why Gama is isolated is either a result of suppressing capable African leadership at a senior level or a particular faction wants to continue controlling the enterprise, particularly the R80 billion expansion programmes, which Transnet should embark upon. It also appears that Ramos had been made aware of irregularities in this capital program, yet chose to do nothing , and instead initiated a witch-hunt against Gama in order to stop one of the most capable and experienced logistics Executives in our country from ascending to the highest role in Transnet.

Now despite the legitimate concerns we raise on the exclusion and possible persecution of Gama, we need to look broadly into the alignment of State owned enterprises to what the developmental state should do. The recent establishment of the planning commission was amongst other things in recognition of and a response to the fragmented approach that characterised government departments, state owned enterprises and private sector’s developmental programmes and interventions. Transnet, like other enterprises such as Eskom, Alexkor, Safcol and Telkom should be aligned to the country’s developmental programmes aimed at developing infrastructure, redressing the spatial inequalities and creating sustainable jobs to decisively address poverty and underdevelopment.

In execution of its tasks, Transnet should be made to understand that it is always guided by these developmental goals, whilst not diverted from the redress and transformation responsibilities it has to carry out in a country characterised by a history of racial discrimination and exclusion. It is vital to emphasise within this context that transformation and deracialisation of the economy should not be on the margins. These should instead underpin all manifestations of all State Owned Enterprises’ programmes. This does not whatsoever substitute its primary mission of developing and maintaining South Africa’s transport, freight and logistics infrastructure and systems, because this lies at the centre of the country’s economic competitiveness, growth and development.

In response to these manifestations, the government should utilise its political capacity and muscle to decisively guide the transformation project, whilst concurrently redressing the injustices of the past. The State’s developmental character is in anyway determined through its capacity, willingness and determination to intervene for developmental purposes. Inaction from the State to guide the predominantly white Transnet Board will undermine future strategic interventions by the State to transform the economy. Government should through proper process finalise the appointment of Siyabonga Gama, restructure the board into an effective and representative organ and focus on other developmental and redress priorities.

We need to be constantly alive to the reality that the private sector, particularly huge corporations are not adequately and convincingly in pursuit of South Africa’s developmental and transformation objectives. The South African government should lead by example, and ensure that State Owned Enterprises, such as Transnet are beacons of transformation, while fulfilling the necessary economic growth and developmental responsibilities required in addressing poverty and underdevelopment. The appointment of Siyabonga Gama as Transnet GCEO should happen and clearer focus dedicated towards transformation of SOEs to fulfil their developmental mandates, not used as self-enrichment schemes for both the predominantly white cartels and parasitic black business.

Nyiko Floyd Shivambu—ANC YL National Spokesperson and Head of Political Education, Policy and Research.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Discussing the Ideological direction of the ANC

Discussing the ideological direction of the ANC

Nyiko Floyd Shivambu

The Peter Mokaba Commemoration rally in Polokwane on the 7th of June 2009 resuscitated a necessary debate on the working class leadership and ideological character of the African National Congress, and consequently what its relations should be to working class struggles in this era of economic recession. In his message of support from the Young Communist League, the National Chairperson Cde David Masondo said there is nothing inherently contradictory in the ANC’s support for mass strikes against employers as these are destined towards the emancipation of the working class which the ANC accepts should, as a matter of priority, be liberated from economic and social bondage. In response, former ANC YL President Cde Fikile Mbalula said that the ANC should not be dragged into a struggle for socialism or class wars, since the ANC remains a multi-ideological movement which pragmatically responds to challenges of society, including but not confined to the interests of the working class.

In the same rally, ANC YL President Julius Malema said that ANC YL structures should be in the forefront of working class and poor communities’ struggles for a better life. He specifically made mention of the reality that the incumbent leadership of the ANC YL has on more than one occasion, openly associated with struggles of the workers in pursuit of better remuneration and working conditions. He made a clarion call to all structures of the ANC and ANC YL to lead community struggles, even against government and private employers, as this reinforces ANC’s leadership of society and prevents opportunistic counter revolutionary forces from hijacking genuine workers, community and service delivery protests for narrow political gains.

The pronouncements of all these leaders at the Peter Mokaba rally in Polokwane were not substantial, but drew the necessary attention of virtually all participants in the rally as to what truly is the ideological direction of the ANC. It is a possibility that variant interpretations were given to what the Speakers said, but the fact that there was such a discussion opens space for a deeper interrogation of the ideological direction of the ANC. Borrowing from previous texts, here we discuss the ideological direction of the ANC.

The interchanges, necessarily around the character of the ANC, are somewhat reminiscent of the debate that occurred between former ANC YL President Peter Mokaba and SACP Deputy General Secretary Jeremy Cronin in the early 2000s. Similarly, the precursor to the debate between Peter Mokaba and Jeremy Cronin was the mass strikes COSATU (with support of the SACP) held against privatisation of state entities and job losses, and the economic fundamentals laid in the Growth and redistribution strategy. The debate was not new then and will not end now in the alliance, it is a central question that the ANC itself can never ignore to raise, ponder and respond determinately to.

Amidst these debates, there are certain acknowledgments which should be categorically made in order to properly understand the ideological direction of the ANC and the alliance, particularly post 52nd National Conference of the ANC in Polokwane. Various and at times contradictory meanings are given to what Polokwane entailed. The ANC 52nd National Conference achieved many re-revolutionising aspects of the ANC, including a definite re-affirmation of the Freedom Charter as the strategic objective of the ANC. The ideological character of the ANC is indeed perpetual debate, at least since the adoption of the Freedom Charter and Progressive forces’ ascendance to political power through democratic elections in 1994. It is a debate rooted in the dynamic material conditions characteristic of each juncture, one that assists reaffirm our strategic objective, and revisit where necessary tactical manoeuvres towards that objective should be made.

In a previous document, I argued that “The ANC matured in the revolutionary struggles to understand and accept the reality that no struggle for national liberation can be class neutral. The maturity of the revolutionary alliance came to an objective recognition that the intention of revolutionary democratic forces can never be about construction of some National Democratic Society of inherently contradicting classes whose antagonistic interests would be managed by a democratic movement and government, somehow not dissimilar from the biblical heaven, where lambs and calves will supposedly graze alongside lions and hyenas. A thorough study of hitherto existing society and interrogation of history reveals that such can never be the case, as irreconcilable contradictions are inherent in any class society”[1].

This observation remains accurate, and its detailed enunciation should constitute a central task in all discussions about the working class character of the ANC. In the contemporary alliance politics, the Freedom Charter remains the glue that holds the ANC/SACP alliance together. It is commonly accepted in the alliance that the National Democratic Revolution which should achieve Freedom Charter objectives is to the SACP a minimum political programme and to the ANC a maximum political programme. The attainment of Freedom Charter objectives will translate in the ANC to attainment of NDR objectives; where black and white live in harmony with equitable access to economic, political, human, gender and social liberties and rights.

It should be emphasised that the Freedom Charter is certainly not socialism; hence the SACP characterise it as a minimum uninterrupted programme towards socialism. Nelson Mandela observed this in his 1957 discussion of the Freedom Charter, and argued:

“The Charter does not advocate the abolition of private enterprise, nor is it suggested that all industries be nationalised or that all trade be controlled by the state…All people shall have the right to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions', says the Charter. The right to do these things would remain a dead letter without the restoration of the basic wealth of the country to the people, and without that the building of a democratic state is inconceivable”, (Mandela, 1957).

A glaring acknowledgment Mandela makes is that although the Freedom Charter did not advocate for absolute discontinuation of private ownership of the means of production, it maintained that there should be restoration of the basic wealth, i.e. mineral wealth, banks, land, monopoly industry. And this restoration of mineral wealth, monopoly industry, banks to the ownership of the people as whole, and land belonging to all who work on it, if realised, is certainly a basis for a socialist transition. What concerns Mandela, is not the fact that calls in the Freedom Charter, for example the one we cite above on restoration, is directly linked to the socialist programme; but that if this restoration does not occur as envisaged, ‘the new state will, with a great deal of justification, be able to say it cannot ‘afford’ to provide education, to do away with slum conditions, and so on’ (op cit.). Surely, justifications would not deliver the better life for all that the ANC has since worked hard for.

A question that remains, then, is whether the Freedom Charter and adherence to it as a maximum programme posits for the ANC a working class biased, socialist orientated or multi-ideological character. My firm conviction is that the ANC and all its activists should accept the reality that, to a greater extent and within South Africa’s capitalist framework, the Freedom Charter is anti-capitalist, but does not call for the total discontinuation of the means of production. This does not in any way contradict what Socialists aspire to realise in South Africa, since Socialism does not mean total discontinuation of private property, but a phase leading towards total discontinuation of private ownership of the means of production.

Mediating the discussion between Peter Mokaba and Jeremy Cronin, Jordi Mortorell says, “There is no doubt that even under socialism there might be some room for the private sector. But the main sections of the economy would be nationalised, under workers' control and democratic planning. In the case of South Africa this would involve the mines, the main industries (steel, auto, transport, building, etc), the banks and insurance companies. In fact the South African economy is highly monopolised and it would take only the nationalisation of a few monopoly groups for democratic planning to be effective[2]”.

The attainment of the Freedom Charter objectives will disrupt capitalist property relations as it has to transfer the ownership of mineral wealth beneath the soil, monopoly industries and banks to the ownership of the people as a whole. The ANC should be explicit about this reality and pursue a programme embedded in mass mobilisation of the working class, the black majority and Africans in particular.

The developmental state under construction should be underpinned by an acknowledgment that the Freedom Charter will at some stage lead to the discontinuation of private ownership of the key means of production within South Africa’s dependent capitalism. As spill over immediate benefits, the discontinuation of private ownership of the key means of production could lay a firmer basis for industrialisation, beneficiation and differentiation of South Africa’s economy to be durably labour-absorptive. Whether the industrialisation and beneficiation should be State or market driven is a discussion that requires detailed attention elsewhere. And such a discussion should be in full recognition that hitherto, all successful industrialisations in what is currently considered as the developed world were State driven.

Often, a lame excuse is given that South Africa’s productive forces are not adequately developed to could ponder a political and ideological disposition that calls for discontinuation of private ownership of the key means of production. That is lame since that observation that “The development of the world market and the monopolisation of production clash with the basic units of capitalism and development of capital in underdeveloped and semi-colonial economies” rings very true. South Africa’s interconnectedness to the global economy can be correctly characterised by dependency theorists as dependent. So other reasons should be given on why South Africa cannot discontinue private ownership of banks, mineral wealth beneath the soil and monopoly industries, as the one of development of productive forces is in our context, very lame. The other reasons could be what Cde Masondo called in the Peter Mokaba rally, “nonsensical investor confidence”, and threats of global finance capital.

But what is the Character of the ANC?

It is a historical reality that at formation, the ANC was not totally dissimilar to a middle class pressure group lobbying for rights of civilised black men, in full recognition of and somewhat legitimating the racist semi-colonial administration of the few. The ANC leadership in the first two to three decades were mainly engaged in sending petitions and deputations to the Queen in Britain, pleading for rights and freedoms for sections of black South Africans within a semi-colonial framework. This method was contextually radical, in the face of a predominant white domination and fragmentation of the African population.

The ANC Youth League founding generation was amongst the first within what later became the Congress movement to accept the characterisation of South Africa as Colonialism of a Special Type (CST). The generation subsequently recognised that for genuine liberation, the national liberation struggles necessarily had to resolve the interconnected national, gender and class contradictions, through what is called National Democratic Revolution. The Freedom Charter subsequently within the same era (late 1940s to mid 1950s) drafted in a mass guided and embedded process and later adopted as the clearest and most correct articulation of the aspirations of the National Liberation Struggle and National Democratic Revolution in South Africa. Indeed, the Communist Party of South Africa and the then reconfigured SACP played a critical role in shaping these perspectives.

Post democratic dispensation, there is an almost theatrical characterisation of the ANC’s ideological orientation as multi-class, a supposed character summed up in the mantra of ‘a broad church’. But multi-class can only be descriptive of the composition and cannot be an ideological direction. The ANC is certainly a Broad Church—, yet that label is void of a strategic vision and/or orientation, and remains merely a descriptive conceptualisation. When asked what the ideological direction of the ANC is, it would be total folly to respond by saying “Broad Church”, as such is similar to saying nowhere. The reality that there are two class forces and various strata within the ANC really qualifies it as a broad church, yet does not entail whatsoever that it has not agreed on an ideological direction concerning the manner in which it aims to organise the State and society. The strategic direction and vision of the ANC is attainment of NDR objectives (Freedom Charter). This role is neither class neutral, nor ideologically elastic, vulnerable to multi-directional expansions. It is instead based on a firm ideological disposition that private ownership of the key means of production does not, as Mandela pointed out, present a viable case for total emancipation of the black majority and Africans in particular, from both economic and social bondage.

In correct Marxist-Leninist terms, we should say that the ANC’s composition is bi-class and multi-strata—a composition summed up in the concept of broad church— and therefore contested. The ANC is constituted amongst others of the owners of the means of production (bourgeoisie) and the producers of wealth (working class), and various strata, such as peasants and segments of the inherently unreliable middle class. The S&T adopted in the 52nd National Conference re-affirms this reality in asserting that “The primary task of the ANC remains the mobilisation of all the classes and strata that objectively stand to benefit from the cause of social change”. Mobilisation of all classes and strata does not entail that there is no direction which the ANC is headed to, it means that all the motive forces, primarily the working class and the poor, stand to objectively benefit from the attainment of the ANC’s strategic objective, which is the Freedom Charter. This is delicately summed up in the 2007 S&T as the need to “to build a truly united, democratic and prosperous South Africa in which the value of all citizens is measured by their humanity, without regard to race, gender and social status and where all enjoy equal rights and access to opportunities”.

The ANC Post Polokwane

Post 52nd National Conference, both the ultra-Left forces and right-wing opportunists converge on repudiating the reality that the ANC 52nd Conference resolutions ideologically represented a leftward restoration, relative to its ideological direction 10 years towards Polokwane. This again confirms the reality that the ANC’s ideological direction and outlook are contested. Within the ambits of its commitment to open the democratic space for mass participation in policy formulation and deployment of those who should implement the policies, the ANC Conference agreed on a variety of progressive policies, including provision of free education, exploring the State's active involvement in the provision of medical and healthcare, and halting the willing-seller willing buyer principle in land restitution, within an economic policy framework whose primary focus is redistribution to spur growth, not vice versa. There was further commitment to an industrial strategy, which could significantly eradicate the thus far vivid colonial features of the South African economy.

The Progressive Left and Communist forces’ observation was that pre-Polokwane, the space for democratic and inclusive participation in policy formulation was significantly eroded by what the SACP characterised as the '1996 class project', whose neo-liberal interest, aspirations and programmes could only be realised through technocratic centralisation of power. The project’s ideological predispositions and programmes were carried and hoisted as absolute truths, whilst those who dared question them faced dismissals, labelling and slander. The democratisation of the ANC happened in Polokwane and was witnessed in all the electoral decisions and processes embarked upon by the ANC since that 52nd National Conference. This represents a progressive turnaround, which should be guarded and intensified in the course of fundamental social transformation, advanced daily in all sites of power.

To understand the leftward restoration, we perhaps should highlight the key elements of what transpired in Conference. Firstly, the outcome of the electoral process reflected a total rejection of the neo-liberal project, which the rejected leadership overtly stood for, represented in their over-emphasis on reducing the cost of doing big-business whilst majority of our people are condemned to abject poverty. Secondly, provision and intensification of democratic principle in the internal organisation and management of the ANC is certainly a leftward restoration, characteristic of all true Left principles.

Thirdly, the overt commitment by the ANC in its economic transformation resolutions, to place more emphasis of redistribution and provision of social wage as a basis of economic growth is a cause for celebration. The emphasis in the same resolution that the Freedom Charter, which remains the beacon of hope for the people of South Africa, will guide ANC's economic transformation perspective is a leftward restoration. These resolutions and various others have indeed rescued the ANC from the bourgeois and neo-liberal orientation which it was being dragged to by the 1996 class project.

Towards Polokwane, the ANC YL’s position on the draft Strategy and Tactics, which was adopted with fewer amendments said that “the present draft does not make a clear analysis of the evolution of the strategy and tactics with regards to the role of the ANC, and as such it makes fundamental distortions, through omission, on the ideological disposition of the ANC. The document is very quiet about the role of monopoly capital which has always been characterised as the enemy of the revolution”. This correctly reflected the militant outlook of the ANC YL and a correct recognition that monopoly capital cannot be the movement’s partner in the construction of a better Freedom Charter South Africa.


This schematic historicisation, although acknowledging the multi-class composition of the ANC, instead emphasises its working class character and bias, embodied more accurately in the Freedom Charter, the minimum programme of the SACP and the maximum programme of the ANC. The multi-class composition, posits the ANC as contested, continually redefined in line with both the alignment of classes and strata within it, and the shifts in the material conditions prevalent in society at a given time.

From these observations and open acknowledgments, the ANC leads all classes and strata in society in the construction of a National Democratic Society, whose features are not dissimilar from the Freedom Charter ideals. Within the same context, the ANC acknowledges leadership role of the working class and re-affirms in the 2007 S&T that “The vision that the ANC pursues is informed by the morality of caring and human solidarity. The kind of democracy it pursues leans towards the poor; and it recognises the leading role of the working class in the project of social transformation” (2007 S&T).

These observations are neither invented phenomena, nor Communist-infiltration, but ideological realities that are acknowledged in the current (2007 adopted) ANC S&T, specifically that “the ANC is a disciplined force of the left, organised to conduct consistent struggle in pursuit of a caring society in which the well-being of the poor receives focussed and consistent attention …. The S&T further says that the ANC contrasts its own positions with those of: neo-liberalism which worships the market above all else and advocates rampant unregulated capitalism and a minimalist approach to the role of the state and the public sphere in general; and ultra-leftism which advocates voluntaristic adventures including dangerous leaps towards a classless society ignoring the objective tasks in a national democratic revolution. Our emphasis here is that inevitably, pursuit of the Freedom Charter (the strategic objective) will disrupt the logic of capitalism.

If Polokwane represents a leap towards the achievement of the Freedom Charter, both the ANC and the Alliance have a responsibility to defend the advances made, and to daily, through mobilisation for social transformation within and outside the state, expand the horizons to deepen these advances. For as the Strategy and Tactics adopted in Polokwane reassert, the working class, comprised mainly in the Black and African majority, remain the main and leading motive force, who shoulder the responsibility to lead “in the definition of a common vision and in implementing a common programme of action among all the motive forces and the nation as a whole”[3].

Towards that, progressive resolutions of that Congress, and all historical resolutions that reassert the centrality of the Freedom Charter as a content base for the National Democratic Revolution, should be translated into concrete programmes towards a developmental agenda whose ultimate objective is the liberation of the poor and the workers from social and economic bondage. The working class, and their vanguard party, cannot be idle in that definition, and translation into reality the aspiration of a better life for all. Aluta Continua!

[1] Alliance Past, Alliance Future, the ANC and Socialism, Umrabulo Number 30, November 2007. And The NDR and Socialism – an indispensable debate, African Communist, Issue 174—Third and Fourth Quarters; 2007.

[2] Jordi Mortorell; The Policies of the South African Communist Party and its Alliance with the ANC government, In Defence of Marxism, 17 May 2002.

[3] See Strategy and Tactics, 2007

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Response to Redi Direko’s Column in the Sowetan

Nyiko Floyd Shivambu

I normally do not respond to petty attacks directed at me, because I was advised that if I kneel down and bark back to a dog barking at me, passers-by will not notice the difference. Yet I felt the need to respond to Redi Direko on her insulting column about the essence of gender struggles and what she misperceives as sexism from the ANC YL. Redi Direko, like all South Africans has the right to formulate and articulate whatever opinion she deems suitable, but this should be within context. Under apartheid, racism, sexism and exploitation were institutionalised realities and African women suffered what the National Liberation Movement characterised as triple oppression, because they were African women whose labour was exploited for capitalist gains. This was further intensified through preventing females from performing certain functions at leadership level.

The ANC led National Liberation Movement’s strategic objective is underpinned by the need to resolve the gender contradictions and female exclusion, which was the foundation of apartheid oppression and exploitation. Our gender struggles are therefore located within the broader programme to economically and socially emancipate the black majority and Africans in particular. In the current dispensation, this should include representation of women in decision making structures, not as tokens, but as an appreciation that women are equally capable to perform the duties they were prevented from doing in the past. The ANC YL’s political and ideological guidance is underpinned by these principles. This explains our dedicated focus on women inclusion in all our decision making structures and our impatience with anyone who regressively undermines the principle of female’s inclusivity.

The ANC YL actually gets enraged by anyone who embodies apartheid value systems of racism and sexism, hence our vitriolic description of Helen Zille and her regressive political outlook. We will always react with vitriol against anything that mirrors apartheid value systems, including against black people who are submissive adherents of racist and regressive notions in the development of society. Many people, including women sacrificed their lives to achieve the kind of South Africa we have today, hence we will strongly castigate anyone who regresses to the past.

During the Talk 702 radio interview, Redi Direko failed in her lame attempt to make me say that Zille is having sex with her men only executive council, and typical of her angry self labelled me mindless. I refused to say that because we are aware that it plays into a wrong perception parroted by reactionary feminists, who blindly defend females in leadership position, even the most regressive of female leaders like Helen Zille. Not even once did Direko acknowledge that what Zille said about the Republic’s President is devious and undermining to Africans cultural practices and traditions, she instead emphasised that Zille was just irrelevant in the failed attempt to justify the racist and sexist decision she took on the cabinet of the Western Cape. That is sad.

The ANC YL has never been sexist and will always fight against any value and manifestation that represents sexism. Sexism is not part of our DNA. We are instead defined by the concerted efforts to achieve total gender equity within the context of social and economic emancipation. We will however give Redi Direko the benefit of the doubt and blame her ranting on ignorance and less knowledge about the ideological and political beliefs and practices of the ANC YL. Like all black young women, we wish Redi Direko well and hope that she will mature and grow in her profession to pay sufficient attention to details to avoid tantrums and ranting which thus far define her media roles as a radio presenter and Columnist.

Nyiko Floyd Shivambu—ANC YL National Spokesperson