Thursday, October 30, 2014

Burkina Faso Protesters Set Fire to Parliament
Smoke billowing in Burkina Faso capital and demonstrators stormed
parliament and set it alight. Blaise Compaore was reported to have fled.
Opposition to President Blaise Compaore's plans to extend his near-30 year rule turns violent as a blaze rips through the National Assembly building in Ouagadougou

12:49PM GMT 30 Oct 2014

Angry demonstrators in Burkina Faso went on the rampage on Thursday in protest at plans to allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year rule, setting parliament on fire and wreaking havoc across the capital.

Crowds of people broke through a heavy security cordon and stormed the National Assembly building in Ouagadougou, ransacking offices and setting fire to cars, AFP has reported.

One man was believed to have been killed in the chaos that erupted in the west African nation shortly before lawmakers were due to vote on the controversial legislation.

Security forces protecting the area near Burkina Faso's presidential palace fired live rounds and tear gas as crowds approached, diplomatic and security sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Amid the surging violence, the government announced it was calling off the vote but it was not immediately clear if this was only a temporary move.

Black smoke billowed out of smashed windows at the parliament building, where several offices were ravaged by flames, including the speaker's office, although the main chamber so far appeared to be unscathed.

Several hundred protesters also broke into the headquarters of the national television station RTB, pillaging equipment and smashing cars, the correspondents said.

The country has been tense for days in the run-up to Thursday's vote over the constitutional changes, which the European Union has warned could jeopardise stability in the west African nation.

Police were out in force around the parliament after mass rallies called by the opposition earlier this week but failed to stop the onslaught despite using tear gas against the protesters.

The European Union has urged the government to scrap the legislation, warning that it could "jeopardise... stability, equitable development and democratic progress", and had called for all sides to refrain from violence.

Several thousand protesters had marched through the capital on Wednesday, the day after street battles erupted during a mass rally by hundreds of thousands of people against what they see as a constitutional coup by supporters of Compaore.

The legislature is due to examine a proposed amendment that would allow Compaore, now in the 27th year of his presidency, to run for re-election in November next year for another five years.

"October 30 is Burkina Faso's Black Spring, like the Arab Spring," said Emile Pargui Pare, an official from the Movement of People for Progress (MPP), a young and influential opposition party.

Government spokesman Alain Edouard Traore issued a statement Wednesday hailing the "vitality" of Burkina Faso's democracy despite what he termed anti-government "misbehaviour".

Compaore's bid to cling to power has angered the opposition and much of the public, including many young people in a country where 60 percent of the population of almost 17 million is under 25.

Many have spent their entire lives under the leadership of one man and - with the poor former French colony stagnating at 183rd out of 186 countries on the UN human development index - many have had enough.

The situation is being closely watched across Africa where at least four heads of state are preparing or considering similar changes to stay in power, from Burundi to Benin and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Compaore was only 36 when he seized power in a 1987 coup in which his former friend and one of Africa's most loved leaders, Thomas Sankara, was ousted and assassinated.

The 63-year-old has remained in power since then, re-elected president four times since 1991 - to two seven-year and two five-year terms.

In 2005, constitutional limits were introduced and Compaore is coming to the end of his second five-year term.

The opposition fears the new rules would enable Compaore to seek re-election not just once, but three more times, paving the way for up to 15 more years in power.

The third largest party in parliament said at the weekend it would back the amendment, setting the ruling party on course to obtain the two-thirds majority it needs to make the change without resorting to a referendum as first promised.

Protesters have erected barricades and burned tyres in the capital since the proposal was announced on October 21.

Known in colonial times as Upper Volta, the landlocked country became independent from France in 1960 and its name was changed to Burkina Faso ("the land of upright men") in 1984, a year after a military coup.
Detroit Capitalists Involved in Scheme to Use Federal Funds to Remove African American Population
Demonstration against bankruptcy on Oct. 23, 2013.
JC Reindl
Detroit Free Press 9:06 p.m. EDT October 29, 2014

Detroit developer Herb Strather made Wednesday's deadline for a down payment on his winning $3 million bid for thousands of blighted and foreclosed city properties, but his grand $2 billion vision for redevelopment may have hit a snag.

Strather and his partner in the blight-buying venture, Texas-based Eco Solutions, placed a $3,183,500 bid for over 6,000 of what he calls "Detroit's worst properties." The properties, spread throughout the city, were packaged together in the Wayne County Treasurer's tax-foreclosure auction to help speed their cleanup and reuse.

The bundle is believed to be the biggest collection of blighted properties assembled for sale in Detroit history.

An early Detroit casino investor whose development projects have a mixed record, Strather sees his redevelopment effort as a chance at redemption for both himself and Detroit's still-ailing neighborhoods, which have largely missed out on the revitalization occurring in and around downtown.

Strather made a 4:30 p.m. Wednesday deadline for initiating a 10% payment on his bid, said Wayne County Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski. The $315,000 wire transfer is expected to clear by Thursday morning.

The 6,365 properties that Strather and his partner are buying consist of about 1,000 vacant lots, 1,000 houses in disrepair, and 4,000 abandoned and burnt-out structures whose owners stopped paying taxes, he said.

In an interview, Strather said his goal is to redevelop the properties in tandem with Detroit nonprofits and community groups — a costly undertaking.

"It would take about $2 billion to finish it all," Strather told the Free Press. "Two billion in five years. We'll do it."

His goal is to bring investment and momentum to Detroit's neighborhoods, similar to that now happening in the city's downtown and Midtown.

Strather's full payment for the blight package is due within 14 days. He is also required to either demolish all of the structures within six months, or submit a redevelopment plan for approval by Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz.

The Treasurer's office said it would begin talks with Strather regarding that plan once the down payment money was received.

"This is going to be a massive undertaking, so it's not as simple as saying 'this is what I want to do,'" Szymanski said.

Yet a key component of Strather's plan — millions in federal demolition funds via the Detroit Land Bank Authority — may have hit a roadblock.

Strather said he hoped to reach a separate redevelopment deal with the land bank authority, which could bring federal money for demolishing the thousands of blighted structures.

But a representative for the Land Bank said the law precludes the type of partnership Strather envisions.

At an estimated cost of about $10,000 per house, the total demolition bill for such a project could run in the tens of millions of dollars.

"Federal law only allows us to use demolition funds on properties for which the land bank owns titles, not for the benefit of a private developer," said land bank spokesman Craig Fahle. "So if Mr. Strather is expecting the land bank to pay to demolish properties that he is purchasing, then he has misunderstood the law."

Strather was not available for a response to the land bank's statement. But a representative said he plans to complete the blight package purchase and carry out his plan.

"Whenever Plan A doesn't work, there is always a Plan B," said Strather's spokeswoman Princess-Odilia. "Mr. Strather has a history of doing very very successful developments. Trust and believe, he has a Plan B."

Strather is chairman of the Detroit-based Strather & Associates real estate investment firm and runs Strather Academy, a real estate training school for adults.

His partner in the blight redevelopment, Eco Solutions, holds contracts for managing Housing and Urban Development properties throughout Michigan, he said, "So they were the natural person to link up with."

Strather was an early investor in MotorCity Casino and involved in the Woodbridge Estates development in Detroit, on the site of the former Jeffries Homes housing projects. Strather also led a group that lost the Hotel St. Regis in Detroit's New Center to receivership following a loan default.

During an interview Wednesday in his office at Tower Center mall at Grand River and Greenfield Avenue, Strather drew a connection between the economic situation Detroit has endured and his own finances in past years. Now, he and the city are ready for a comeback.

"We have taken such a hard hit," Strather said, "and no one has taken a harder hit than me. I went from $70 million to negative $20 million. (But) I'm not negative anymore."

The IRS and state of Michigan have filed liens totaling $227,530 against Strather since 2009, according to Wayne County Register of Deeds records. As well, Comerica Bank obtained a $77,229 judgement against him earlier this year, the records show.

"There were tax liens, foreclosures, just like anybody else," Strather said. "Herb Strather, he's taken a hit, but he's demonstrating to the community that he can come back."

Free Press Staff Writer Jennifer Dixon contributed to this report.

Contact JC Reindl: 313-222-6631 or Follow him on Twitter @JCReindl.

Wayne County Auction Nets $66 million in bids

This year's Wayne County Treasurer's tax-foreclosure auctions netted $66 million in bids from the sale of 17,196 properties. There were $43 million in bids in the October auction and $23 million in September, according to Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz.

Not all bids result in payment.
Capitalist Foundations Spearhead New Push to Force More African Americans From Highland Park
Neighborhood destroyed by the banks in Highland Park, Michigan.
Louis Aguilar, The Detroit News 1
1:26 p.m. EDT October 29, 2014

Kathy Angerer, director of community and economic development for Hamtramck, says a count of blighted properties, such as one on Yemens, is key to change.

Detroit — – The war on blight has spread beyond Detroit into Hamtramck and Highland Park, and soon other Michigan cities.

The two cities surrounded by Detroit are undertaking their first comprehensive attempts to count the number of blighted properties within their boundaries. Both municipalities have lost tens of thousands of residents and are pocked with burned-out homes and abandoned buildings. Empty structures became havens for crime and squatters, and caused property values to plummet.

Now, officials say, there is new hope about finally eliminating them.

"Go down any street and you will get a sense of what we are dealing with," said Louis Starks, Highland Park's community and economic development director. Henry Ford built his first auto plant in the town once known as the "City of Trees" nearly 100 years ago. Part of that Model T plant is among the estimated 3,000 empty buildings in the city, which amounts to half the structures left.

"This is what Hamtramck blight is like," said Kathy Angerer, Hamtramck's director of community and economic development, as she stood in front of a shell of a house on Yemans Street. "It's not rows of empty houses, but one on a street full of houses still occupied. Imagine if this was green space," she said.

Getting accurate counts has been out of the reach for the cash-strapped cities. But thanks to funding from the Kresge and Skillman foundations, and a Detroit startup company that invented something called "blexting," such a goal is now obtainable. So is federal funding to fight blight.

Last week, Highland Park and Hamtramck teamed up with the Motor City Mapping project that allowed 20 workers to go out with camera phones and tablets and survey every parcel in each city. The money came from the foundations, with support from the nonprofit Data Driven Detroit and Detroit-based business Rock Ventures.

The Motor City Mapping project is the brainchild of Detroit startup Loveland Technologies. Loveland has been exploring ways to digitize Detroit's property information and make the data available to the public. And that's what going to happen with the information the surveyors gathered, called "blexting," which is a merging of the words blight and texting.

Using a "blexting" app that's available to the public, surveyors took photos of every parcel and answered a series of questions about each — about 6,700 in Hamtramck and 6,600 in Highland Park.

Results of the surveys are expected next week. It couldn't come at a better time because the two are among 12 Michigan cities vying for $75 million in federal funding reserved to dealing with eliminating blight.

The program, to be run by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, will work in Detroit, Ecorse, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Inkster and River Rouge in Wayne County as well as Adrian, Ironwood, Jackson, Lansing, Muskegon Heights and Port Huron.

"For too long, blight has driven down property values and stifled growth in some of our communities," Gov. Rick Snyder said earlier this month.

"Getting an accurate count is so important because now we will have a good handle of what we are dealing with," Hamtramck's Angerer said. "That will only strengthen our chances to get the federal funding and really help us direct our limited funding and energy to promote all our wonderful assets."

Hamtramck hums with immigrant energy — Eastern European, Asian and Middle Eastern — as well as a deeply rooted arts community. It's what attracted new resident Claire Montebello, 27, who moved recently from St. Louis, Missouri. "It's almost a clash of many cultures, which kind of fascinates me. In terms of the blight, it's not out of control and it seems like solutions can be there."

Highland Park says there are more assets and positives than many realize. Despite the huge loss of residents and properties for decades, things may have actually bottomed out, some contend.

Auto supplier Magna opened a plant there in 2010 that supplies seating to Detroit automakers and employs 600 people. Two years ago, it completed a $2.2 million expansion,

A call center operator last year invested about $3 million into a building, adding 200 jobs. The Model T Plaza shopping center opened in 1998, some of which is located where the Model T plant once stood. The shopping center has often been fully occupied.

"Woodward Avenue is the strength we can build on," Starks said. Woodward is vital to Highland Park and despite the decades of loss, the avenue still retains the ability to attract retail.

There is also the possibility that the M-1 streetcar rail could return to Highland Park's Woodward.

"If we found a way to get rid of the empty structures, the whole conversation could change," Starks said.
40,000 Kenyans Accuse Britain of Abuse and Torture in Second Mau Mau Lawsuit
Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi of the Kenya
Land and Freedom Army (Mau Mau).
October 29, 2014 18:11

Over 41,000 Kenyans have waged an attempt to sue the British government for compensation, alleging maltreatment and physical abuse during a Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s against UK colonial rule.

The litigation suit, launched at the high court in central London, marks the second Mau Mau case against the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in recent years.

In 2010, UK legal firm Leigh Day successfully sued the British government on behalf of Kenyans who rebelled against UK colonial rule in the 1950s. The UK government paid £19.9m to 5,228 Kenyans in 2013 who were reportedly tortured by Britain’s colonial administration during the revolt.

The compensation was a watershed moment for the people of Kenya, signaling the British government’s first formal acknowledgement of serious mistreatment and abuse carried out during the UK colonial establishment’s tenuous withdrawal from the East African state.

Commenting on the landmark 2013 payout, former Foreign Secretary William Hague told MPs the monetary settlement was “full and final.” But the Guardian reports a group of UK law firms are currently dealing with a new tide of claimants – and in certain cases sending their legal staff to Kenya.

The latest case, firms suggest, is a collective litigation order involving in excess of 41,000 Kenyans.

The high court is set to hear 25 separate test hearings according to official court documentation filed in May, the newspaper reported on Wednesday.

As distinct from the first Mau Mau action against the FCO, the most recent claims relate to a broader array of human rights violations than physical torture alone.

Claimants are also seeking compensation for alleged imprisonment on false grounds, as well as allegations of coercive labor and breaches of the fundamental right to education.

The claimants’ lawyers told the Guardian that January 2016 has been earmarked as a preliminary date for the trial. A spokesperson for the FCO declined to comment on the litigation suit, emphasizing it is not the body’s policy to openly discuss “a case that is going through the courts.”

The latest claims relate to alleged offences committed in 1952, when UK colonial governor, Sir Evelyn Baring, attempted to topple a growing anti-colonial insurgency dubbed Mau Mau. As the insurgency battled for an independent Kenyan state over the following eight years, approximately 90,000 Kenyans perished.

‘Inhumane and degrading treatment and torture’

Over 1 million were forced to leave their homes and enter detention facilities, which Kenya's then-attorney general Eric Griffith-Jones described as disturbingly “reminiscent of conditions in Nazi Germany or communist Russia.”

While some of those detained were Mau Mau insurgents, many were innocent civilians trapped in an oppressive web of collective punishment.

Simon Myerson QC, who is representing the claimants, told the Guardian his clients were forced to endure a variety of severe abuses during the uprising such as castration. Claimants are seeking compensation on a person-by-person basis, which ranges from £1,000 to £150,000.

Other lawyers representing Kenyan claimants allege Britain’s colonial government devised a deplorable system of inhumane and degrading treatment and torture to which thousands of Kenyans were subject throughout the revolt.

As a result of this scheme, Britain may be liable for abuse enacted by an array of local Kenyan agents under tacit UK orders. In particular, abuse enforced at the highest levels of Kenyan office by UK colonial powers may render Britain responsible for atrocities committed by Kenyan police and other state officials, lawyers say.

Although the FCO has not yet filed its defense, the Guardian has seen a document detailing the government body’s informal position on the allegations, supposedly dated 6 September 2013. In it, the FCO reportedly rejects responsibility for the colonial administration’s actions.

Alluding to the first Mau Mau litigation suit, the FCO allegedly says the claims brought in this second case “are conspicuously weaker.”

In 1960, Kenya’s crisis waned and the controversial Mau Mau detention camps were shut down. In London, little emerged at the time on what had transpired during Kenya's Mau Mau insurgency.

“If we are going to sin,” Kenyan attorney general Griffiths-Jones wrote in a 1957 memorandum, “we must sin quietly.”
Zimbabwe Junior Doctors’ Strike Still On
Zimbabwe junior doctors' strike continues.
October 29, 2014

THE strike by the junior doctors at State hospitals entered its second day yesterday with no solution in sight after their salary negotiations with the Health Services Board (HSB) and the Ministry of Finance ended in a deadlock.


About 400 junior doctors at all public hospitals countrywide downed tools on Monday demanding a salary review and a general review of their working conditions.

Health minister David Parirenyatwa, his deputy Paul Chimedza, Deputy Finance minister Samuel Undenge and representatives of the Medical Services Board met representatives of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) in the capital yesterday to map the way forward, but the meeting ended in a deadlock.

ZHDA secretary-general Farai Makoni said: “Our response to their call to end the strike was that we have to update our members on what they have offered so far.”

Makoni added: “It is only in that meeting where we shall decide the course of the industrial action after engaging all our members, and we shall send a communiqué to the minister on the position we would have adopted.”

Addressing journalists after the meeting yesterday, Parirenyatwa urged both parties to continue with the negotiations to resolve the impasse.

“The HSB were the ones who were key at the meeting with the junior doctors of whom some have withdrawn their labour,” Parirenyatwa said.

“The whole idea was for negotiations to continue and we are hopeful that things will turn out for the good especially for our patients so that the hospitals can function again.”

The junior doctors are demanding that their salaries be reviewed from the current $282 a month to a minimum of $1 200 excluding allowances.

They also want their on-call allowances to be raised as they said they were getting only $0,50 per hour.

They are also demanding free accommodation in government-owned flats.
ANCWL Welcomes Multiple Life Sentences for Diepsloot Murderer
ANC Women's League demonstration in South Africa.
29 October 2014

The African National Congress Women`s League (ANCWL) joins all South Africans in welcoming the nine life sentences plus 15 years handed down to convicted murderer and rapist Ntokozo Hadebe.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria found Hadebe guilty of abducting, raping and murdering three children in the Diepsloot informal settlement last year.

The killings of Anelisa Mkhonto, 5, Zandile Mali, 3 and her cousin Yonelisa Mali, 2 were the height of depravity by a callous criminal with scant regard for the lives of society`s most vulnerable.

"Today our courts have vindicated our position that there is no place in society for unrepentant criminals; what he has done has deprived three children of a bright future.. the youngest victim was still in nappies when she was killed," says ANCWL spokesperson Edna Molewa.

"As Judge Nico Coetzee noted, the interests of society dictate that those convicted of such crimes should be harshly punished," addedMolewa.

The ANCWL congratulates the SAPS, and in particular the Child Protection Unit and the Honeydew/Diepsloot police station -for their efforts in bringing the perpetrator to book.

"This once again shows that collaboration between communities and law-enforcement can help rid us of criminals, " says Molewa.

The ANCWL also congratulates the SAPS for the arrest of a suspect in the killing of four year-old Taegrin Morris, who died after being dragged behind his mother`s hijacked vehicle earlier this year.

The ANCWL remains outraged at the continued levels of violence against women and children across the country, and once again urges all South Africans to assist the SAPS with information that may lead to the arrest of those suspected of crimes.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mkhonto and Mali families; we hope the conviction of the killer of their loved ones may bring a means of closure and healing. The Morris family remains in our thoughts as they continue to grieve the loss of their child.

Issued by:
Edna Molewa
Head of Communications
African National Congress Women`s League

Khusela Sangoni 0728545707

ANCWL welcomes NPA decision to appeal

27 October 2014

The African National Congress Women`s League welcomes the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority to appeal the conviction and the sentence in the Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial. As an organisation, we remain convinced that another court could have justifiably reached a conviction of murder rather than culpable homicide in this case and we thus support the NPA in their application. As previously indicated, the ANC Women`s League will be making an application to be admitted as a Friend of the Court in this matter.

Issued by
Edna Molewa
Head of Communications
African National Congress Women`s League

Khusela Sangoni 0728545707

ANCWL statement on Oscar Pistorius sentencing

21 October 2014

The African National Congress Women`s League (ANCWL) notes the five-year sentence for culpable homicide given to paralympian Oscar Pistorius by the North Gauteng High Court. According to the Section 276 of the Criminal Procedure Act the accused serves will serve one sixth of the sentence, effectively10 months, and thereafter an offender can apply for placement under correctional supervision which is processed by Correctional Services

The ANCWL has studied the judgment and has developed a position that we planned to make public following sentencing. Our position will be considered in conjunction with the sentence, as we study the case law in question.

It is the organization`s view that an appeal is in the interests of justice, as well as to send a strong message to the public that crimes against women should carry the maximum penalty.

To this end the ANCWL intends to make representations to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) , based on legal opinion received and our findings on the case law.

The NPA has 14 days in which to file intention to appeal.

"We understand that they (NPA) haven`t made a decision on whether to appeal, and we will be guided by that, " says ANCWL spokesperson Edna Molewa.

The League wishes to reiterate that it remains dissatisfied with the culpable homicide verdict delivered by Judge Thokozile Masipa.

In support of this view we hold that regardless of who Mr. Pistorius believed to be behind the bathroom door that fateful night, he shot to kill - and therefore a murder did occur.

The ANCWL has consistently campaigned for harsh sentences in all cases of violence against women and children. It has particularly focused on cases where women are killed by their intimate partners. The killing of Reeva Steenkamp at the hands of her lover has once more brought this matter sharply into focus.

"What is at issue here isn`t just the sentence, but the very law that resulted in Mr Pistorius being convicted of culpable homicide instead of murder.. we want it struck down," says Molewa.

She added that one of the most distressing aspects of the judgment and sentence was that it set a harmful precedent.

Statistics indicate that a woman is killed in every eight hours in South Africa. This situation is abnormal and should be unacceptable to every citizen. The ANCWL calls on all South Africans to remember the victim, Reeva Steenkamp, and her family and friends who continue to mourn her.

Issued by
Edna Molewa
Head of Communications
African National Congress Women`s League

Khusela Sangoni 072 854 5707

ANCWL calling for Justice for our women and girls

10 October 2014

The African National Congress Women`s League (ANCWL) is concerned about recent incidents where the Justice system appears to be failing our women and children in some cases.

A recent case where a 50 year old Mpumalanga man was convicted of raping a 13 year old girl has been handed down a 6 year suspended sentence. This essentially means if he does not commit any criminal act for the next five years he will see no jail time for his deplorable actions.

The old man pleaded guilty to having sex with the child during a drinking spree in September 2013.

"This is a travesty of justice; a 13 year old girl cannot give consent, even if she had been drinking with the man. This is a case where an older man manipulated a young girl, fed her alcohol illegally and took advantage of her. According to our law this is the rape of a child and the perverted old man should go to jail, it is disgusting and shocking that he can get away with this," said Angie Motshekga, ANCWL President.

The age of consent in South Africa is 16, as specified by sections 15 and 16 read with section 1 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007. Section 15 ("statutory rape") prohibits the commission of "*an act of sexual penetration with a child*", while section 16 ("statutory sexual assault") prohibits the commission of "*an act of sexual violation with a child*". Section 1 defines "child" as "*with reference to sections 15 and 16, a person 12 years or older but under the age of 16 years*".[46], so a sexual act with a child under that age constitutes statutory rape.

The ANCWL is calling on the National Prosecuting Authority to appeal the suspended sentence and ensure that justice is served, especially to safe guard of our children.

Financial Sector in Need of Radical Overhaul to Improve the South African Economy

By Comrade Blade Nzimande, SACP General Secretary

THE SACP's 2014 Red October Campaign focuses attention on the financial sector. One of its main aims is to break the investment strike capital has embarked on.

South Africa's primary challenge is indisputably its massive unemployment rate. There is plenty of work to be done to develop the country and to meet its people's needs. But capital still tends to sit on huge piles of cash or uses it speculatively rather than investing in the productive economy.

There is a strong tendency in the media and parts of the business community to blame the post-apartheid government for the country's poor economic performance. There has recently been another spate of attacks, especially by financial sector economists, who blame government for low investment in the economy. They argue that the causes are policy uncertainty, poor planning, and a lack of capacity and skills in government. In addition, they blame labour legislation and labour action.

As far as policy uncertainty is concerned, we should point out that democratic South Africa's macroeconomic policy has always been friendly to capital, whether during the time of the Growth, Employment and Redistribution programme or the National Development Plan.

There have periodically been vigorous debates inside the ANC and the DA, with many critical analyses of the government's macroeconomic and other policies, including dissatisfaction by the ANC's allies. When such discussions take place, many media commentators cry policy uncertainty, even though robust debates about economic policy are common in most countries.

South Africa has medium-term planning and the government has been deliberate about creating an environment friendly for investors. South African labour markets are not inflexible but they do provide workers with certain rights. Trade unions do assert their power, as do employers, and relations between labour and business may become worryingly tense. However, the country has developed institutional mechanisms to manage these tensions.

As far as capacity in government is concerned, one cannot say the situation is ideal, but it is matched by inept business practices in areas such as managing labour relations and a failure to seek out export markets.

We must also take into account the serious economic conditions in South Africa and globally - largely created by the financial sector - that have negatively affected economic performance. It is high time that the financial sector owned up to the role that it has played in creating uncertainty and instability in the South African economy - and, indeed, in the world economy.

One suspects that their blame game is a tactic to divert attention from their own culpability. The behaviour of the large financial institutions in the period leading to the most recent global financial crisis caused huge suffering.

The role that big finance continues to play in the global and domestic economy has not changed fundamentally since the crisis. In fact, finance capital has become more predatory. We believe that the actions of financial institutions play a much larger role in holding back investment than do the government and labour.

It is worth examining the negative role that the financial sector plays in restricting the government's ability to support long-term productive investments and employment creation. South African banks and other financial institutions emulate the behaviour of those on Wall Street and in the City of London.

In the pre-2008 period, they worked to loosen financial regulations and take advantage of the deregulated financial environment. They worked to loosen credit standards, increase leverage and flood markets with liquidity. The outcome was asset bubbles in property and financial markets.

Possibly the main reason that South Africa avoided the worst of the financial crisis was that the government resisted many of the demands to deregulate finance and abolish exchange controls. Arguably, though, this only postponed the pain that we now face. In any case, the damage done by financial speculation to the real economies in developed countries has had a serious, negative impact on the country's trade.

In recent years, South African households have been encouraged to go into debt to buy houses, cars and other consumer goods and to max out their credit cards.

The Department of Trade and Industry also found out that in a small area like Marikana there were 12 mashonisas preying on mineworkers. One of the results of this is the current weak demand from deeply indebted consumers - and suffering for those who are over their heads in debt.

During the wild time leading up to the financial crisis, the financial sector put huge pressure on executives of non-financial companies to increase short-term profits. Pressure from financiers pushed firms to outsource and move production offshore.

All this pressure for short-term returns eroded the productive base of non-financial firms. The short-termism meant that firms spent less time on increasing innovation, productivity and job creation and instead drove up their profits through speculative activity. This is demonstrated by the fact that, by 2007, South African non-financial corporations' financial assets were 250 percent the size of their fixed assets. The credit extended to the South African private sector grew by 22 percent from 2000 to 2008 but private fixed investment grew by only 4 percent.

This diversion of credit towards non-productive speculative activities cannot be blamed on government. The financial sector's action that drove bubbles in financial asset prices and their pressure on non-financial corporations to keep producing short-term high returns were to blame.

The kind of economic growth South Africa experienced before the global financial crisis was not sustainable and the financial sector knew this. It knew that it was causing South Africans to become more indebted and it knew that the bursting of the financial asset and house price bubble would cause pain.

However, the mind-set in finance was as expressed by former Citigroup chief executive Chuck Prince, who famously stated in 2007: "As long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance". These are people who were prepared to take entire economies to ruin because they wanted higher returns that boosted their personal fortunes. And they were not only Americans, but also South African. Now they attempt to shift the blame onto the government and the working class.

The government should actively seek to regulate the financial sector to the benefit of the real economy - and especially to ensure that it stimulates rather than inhibits job creation.

Most importantly, the country needs a radical transformation and re-orientation of its financial sector if we are to realise the objectives of a second phase of our transition, especially to ensure that our savings are invested in a job-creating manner.

This articles was first published by the Business Report, 16 October 2014, 08:00am

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South African Communist Party Introductory Statement at the Public Launch of a Discussion Document on the Second Radical Phase of SA`s Democratic Transition
Leaders of the South African Communist Party.
29 October 2014

"Going to the Root: A Radical Second Phase of the NDR - its context, content and our strategic tasks"

Two decades beyond South Africa`s globally acclaimed democratic transition we are living in a deeply paradoxical reality. We have a progressive constitution that has abolished decades of white minority rule. From a society once immersed in a protracted, low-level civil war, we`ve emerged into a country in which open, multi-party democratic elections have become the norm.

But despite these and many other achievements, our country continues to be afflicted with crisis-levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality, and this triple crisis threatens to undermine the democratic constitutional advances we`ve made. Why the paradox? We are frequently told that the problem is anaemic growth - but from the mid-1990s through until five or six years ago there was relatively strong GDP-measured growth. But unemployment (in the narrow definition), and its resulting impact on poverty and inequality, remained at crisis levels, well over 20%. Clearly our socio-economic challenges are rooted in deep-seated systemic features of our society. They are not just of a cyclical nature.

At the ANC`s December 2012 Mangaung National Conference the imperative of a "second radical phase of the national democratic revolution" was endorsed. It is a perspective that the SACP strongly supports. But what is meant by a "second radical phase"? Why a "second" phase? Is the word "radical" just a cosmetic flourish? Does the idea of a "national democratic revolution" have any contemporary relevance?

Today we are releasing for public engagement an SACP discussion document, "Going to the Root. ;A Radical Second Phase of the NDR - its context, content and our strategic tasks" in which we seek to provide answers to these and other questions. We hope to open up a debate across our ANC-led alliance and among a much broader national public.

The discussion document acknowledges that, over the past 20 years, we have embarked on what might be described as a "first phase" of democratisation. This first phase has been radical in its own way. Politically and constitutionally it abolished a state form associated with white minority rule. Over the past two decades a major redistributive programme has also been underway:

--Social grants now reach more than 16 million South Africans (nearly one-third of our population); - up from 3 million in 1994;
--Over 7 million new household electricity connections have been made since 1996. (To put this achievement into context - in the preceding century, successive white minority regimes only electrified 5 million households!);
--Over 3.3 million free houses have been built, benefiting more than 16 million people;
--More than 1.4 million students have benefited from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme;
--Over 9 million learners in 20 000 schools receive daily meals.
--Over 400 000 solar water heaters have been installed free on the rooftops of poor households in the past 5 years - one of the largest such programmes in the world. And much more besides.

However, this first phase has had two major limitations:

The progressive socio-economic advances have been largely RE-DISTRIBUTIVE. This state-led redistribution has relied principally on fiscal resources derived from a largely untransformed PRODUCTIVE economy. But it is this productive economy, locked into a problematic path-dependency, that is, precisely, at the root of what is reproducing the triple crisis of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

This massive re-distributive programme has also been conceived essentially as a "top-down", "state-delivery" programme in which citizens are turned into "beneficiaries", "clients", "customers" - and not productive, responsible and active protagonists of transformation. The state is seen (and sees itself) as a "wheel-barrow" responsible for off-loading various "deliverables" into communities. This has had three further negative consequences:

As government`s massive redistributive effort is overwhelmed by the scale of problems, or falls behind rising and often legitimate expectations, or fails to "deliver" equally at the same time to everyone - so popular anger turns on government. The top-down redistributive "delivery" model based on always insufficient fiscal resources sets up government as a sitting duck target for anger and frustration - while monopoly capital disinvests and largely escapes blame.

The tendency to transform our popular mass base into individual or household "beneficiaries", "recipients", "clients" of government delivery also tends to undermine the potential cohesion of poor communities. Many "township delivery protests" are fuelled by factional rivalries within communities - backyard dwellers versus shack-dwellers for priority listing on the housing list; or competing taxi associations for operating licences on new routes; etc.

The effective de-mobilisation of popular forces by the top-down, state "delivery" model of redistribution has also deprived us of an important means of transforming the state itself. The Freedom Charter`s call not just for one-person one-vote representative democracy, but also for "DEMOCRATIC ORGANS OF SELF-GOVERNMENT" - i.e. for various forms of ACTIVE PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY has been largely lost. Since 1994 we have nominally introduced a wide range of statutory institutions and practices implying participatory democracy - community police forums, school governing bodies, ward committees, municipal participatory budgeting, etc.

However, in practice most of these are non-functional, or are captured either by political functionaries, or by middle-class interests and used to preserve existing privileges. Yet, organs of popular participatory democracy are potentially our best weapon for transforming the state, and overcoming inherently negative features - bureaucratic silos, officiousness and indifference on the part of state functionaries, technocratic aloofness, and, above all, corruption.

From this diagnostic, two key and related perspectives are advanced in our discussion paper:

--The problematic path-dependent nature of our PRODUCTIVE economy must be radically transformed;
--We need an active citizenry and a transformed relationship between the state and communities.
But what are the systemic problems within our productive economy?

SOUTH AFRICA`s capitalist industrial revolution in the late 19th and early 20th century had several critical features whose legacy continues to lock our economy into a problematic path-dependency:

--It was an externally-driven (rather than an organically emerging internal process) that established SOUTH AFRICA as a semi-peripheral mining economy within the global capitalist system;
--SOUTH AFRICA became (and still remains) a commodity exporting economy, with high levels of monopoly concentration across all sectors including mining and finance.
--Inserted into the global economy as a semi-periphery, SOUTH AFRICA had two key assets - its mineral deposits and "cheap" labour, the latter reproduced through various forms of colonial and racial dispossession, native reserves, dormitory townships and migrancy (whether annual or daily), bantu education, etc.
--Although colonial and/or white minority rule no longer exist formally, the legacy rooted in this semi-peripheral, "cheap" labour dispensation is still painfully etched into contemporary SOUTH AFRICA - in our urban and rural spatial inequalities and skewed settlement patterns; in the relative weakness of our manufacturing and small and medium-enterprise sectors; in skills shortage and racialised inequities in schooling; in a huge reserve army of labour; in the high levels of monopoly concentration; and much more.

Post-1994 a massive capital flight and an investment strike - the structural problems get worse

Since 1994 many of these deep-rooted systemic problems have been aggravated. In the latter decades of apartheid rule, a combination of tight exchange controls, prescribed asset regulations and international sanctions meant, paradoxically, that South African mining and finance monopolies were compelled to re-invest their surplus into SOUTH AFRICA. This resulted in the formation of large, multi-sectoral conglomerates and productive investment from mining and finance into agro-processing, manufacturing, logistics and retail. This helped to drive job creation and even increased skilling. It was also the objective basis on which a powerful trade union movement re-emerged in the late-1970s and through the 80s.

Post-1994 with the removal of sanctions and ill-considered liberalisation of macro-economic and sectoral policies there has been a massive process of capital exodus permitted by exchange control liberalisation, dual listings, mergers and acquisitions, transfer pricing, tax avoidance, illegal capital transfers, and a general process of financialisation (in which surplus is increasingly invested in the global casino economy, rather than in labour-absorbing, domestic productive activity).

In the discussion paper we provide a few examples, including Sasol, Afgri and Absa. Absa, for instance, is one of four banking monopolies that dominate South Africa`s financial sector - but who owns it? With its origins in the early mobilisation of Afrikaner capital, Absa itself was formed in 1991 out of a merger between United, Allied and Volkskas. In 1992 it acquired the Bankorp group including Trustbank. In 2005 Barclays UK purchased 56.4% of Absa. In 2013 Barclays increased its share-holding in Absa to 62.3% and the name was changed to Barclays Africa Group Ltd. As at June 2013 three-quarters of Absa/Barclay`s Africa shareholders were located outside of SOUTH AFRICA (with 57.6% in the UK alone).

This means that when the SOUTH AFRICA government engages with Absa (and with most other former major private South African corporations), we are now engaging them as foreign investors. Whatever her own personal patriotic inclinations, when Barclay`s Africa CEO Maria Ramos, for instance, calls for a "social covenant" with government and labour - where does she derive her mandate from?

In general this huge trans-nationalisation and financialisation of formerly South African monopoly capital (including SASOL, Investec, Old Mutual, De Beers, Anglo, Liberty, SAB Miller, Didata and Gencor, amongst others) has seen a massive loss of savings, taxes and investment. According to one academic study, in 2007 more than 20% of GDP was lost through capital flight.

This process of trans-nationalisation and financialisation has resulted in growing de-industrialisation and major job-losses, with an increasing loss of national economic sovereignty. It is in this context that our discussion paper argues that the "national" in the "national democratic revolution" has a deep and, indeed, non-racial, contemporary relevance.

The content of a second radical phase of the NDR

It follows that a critical pillar of a second radical phase of the NDR must be to regain a greater degree of national economic sovereignty. Amongst other things this must mean breaking out of SOUTH AFRICA`s semi-peripheral positioning within the global imperialist system. In practice this will require a "relative de-linking" from the dominant global economic powers - including through sub-Saharan regional development, and the development of alternative economic alliances, as in BRICS. Critical also is the challenge of re-industrialisation so that economically we move up the global value chain.

In practice, this means that we are not waiting for a second radical phase - many of its key pillars are already cornerstones of government policy and programmes - including the New Growth Path, the Industrial Policy Action Plan, and the National Infrastructure Programme, amongst others. However, there is still a long way to go. The effective driving of a second radical phase requires a much higher level of state strategic discipline, a more effective, long-range planning capacity and an active and mobilised popular base.;

Our deep-rooted productive economy distortions mean that any expectation that market-driven growth and ensuing labour market demand will resolve our unemployment crisis is gravely misplaced. High levels of un- and under-employment are likely to be a long-term reality, as the National Development Plan recognises. In this situation the fostering of sustainable (and productive) livelihoods, relatively de-linked from the vicissitudes of the labour-market are absolutely essential. ;

Our discussion paper proposes that we appreciate government`s expanded public works and other public employment programmes in this context - less as hopeful conveyor belts into a private sector labour market, and more as an expansion of our social security net, but with participants involved in productive work by way of providing services and assets to poor communities. Along with cooperatives, micro-enterprises and various forms of self-employment, the public employment programmes can develop into a solidarity economy relatively de-linked from the predations of the market.

The battle of ideas

In a concluding section, the discussion paper considers and briefly critiques a number of alternative narratives about the challenges confronting our society. While not necessarily rejecting issue-specific and sectoral accords between government, labour and business; - the paper is entirely sceptical about the notion of some all-in, long-term "social accord", or "economic CODESA".

The paper acknowledges that some anti-ANC-alliance left radicalism has produced valid critiques of South African monopoly capital. However, the anti-ANC and, above all, the blanket anti-state positioning of these tendencies means that any struggle for leverage over state power and resources is relinquished. Oppositionism becomes an end in itself to the detriment of advancing practical and effective programmes of transformation. The paper also takes issue with DA leader, Helen Zille`s agenda of seeking to divide the ANC, between so-called "constitutionalists" who believe in the "rule of law" and "radicals" who remain committed to a national democratic revolution.

At the heart of our discussion paper is, precisely, the conviction that our important constitutional and broader democratic gains can only be advanced, defended and consolidated with a radical second phase of the National Democratic Revolution that goes to the root of the systemic features of our productive economy that are reproducing crisis levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

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South African Communist Party Mpumalanga Province PEC Statement

23 October 2014

The 8th Congress Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) of the South African Communist Party (SACP) in Mpumalanga Province convened in its 12th Plenary Session, and focused on consolidating Party programs and campaigns in the province. The meeting considered the Political, Financial and Organisational Reports in preparation for a Provincial Council to be held on the 08 - 09 November 2014 at Graskop Town Hall in Thaba Chweu Sub-district.

The meeting convened following a successful two-day Economic Transformation Summit in Mbombela.

Second Phase of the National Democratic Revolution

The Second Radical phase of the NDR must be anti-neoliberal systematic features in form and content in order to address the challenges that are rooted within the structure of the economy. While we advance this second radical phase, we have a responsibility to build on and defend the first phase of the NDR. The PEC believes that in order to advance that qualitative change, the program should be clearly aligned with the Freedom Charter which is inherently radical in its nature and character whilst also addressing our National Democratic Revolution.

The PEC will advance the resolutions of the Economic Transformation Summit within the Mass Democratic Movement and in the Augmented CC meeting in November. We need a total overhaul of the economic structure to build a radicalized structure to serve majority of our people.

Transport Campaign

The PEC welcomes the government`s renewed zeal to implement the Moloto Rail Corridor. This project must respond to the economic challenges facing the two rural municipalities faced with the high level of poverty, unemployment and inequality. We commend the work done by the Young Communist League of South Africa in Ephraim Mogale District and other progressive structures that spearheaded the campaign for the implementation of Moloto Rail Corridor, alternative bus company and Moloto Road Upgrade.

Since October is Transport month, we believe the community of former KwaNdebele deserves a better, reliable and safe mode of transport than what is offered to them by the monopoly bus company (PUTCO).

SACP in the province will play an oversight role around this campaign led by the Transport Campaign Steering Committee.

As we advance the struggle of the second phase of the radical economic transformation, our government must fight against monopoly capital in all sectors. We call for an Integrated Transport System across the province and a Taxi Subsidy to the taxi industry for all our people to have a convenient mode of transport of their choice.

2014/15 Red October - Financial Sector Campaign:

The SACP in province held a successful 2014/15 Red October launch in Thulamahashe on the 12th October 2014. This year, the campaign intensifies our struggle to achieve an overhaul transformation of the financial sector to serve the people. The neoliberal economic regime opened floodgates of reckless and unsecured lending practices, reinforcement of financialisation and subordination of labour to capital.

Mobilize people`s power to transform the financial sector and build a People`s Economy!

Intensify the fight against Lumpen Tenderpreneurship Tendency (LTT) in the province

The attempts by LTT to liquidate the South African Communist Party have hit a solid rock. Our detractors tried by all means to weaken the Party. They use the apartheid style of divide and rule through the Carrot and Stick Approach, reward those who seem co-operative to Lumpenism and punish those who remain steadfast and upright.

We have noted with shock the reported shooting of Cde Jackson Mthembu a National Executive Committee Member of ANC who is based in Mpumalanga. We are also concerned by the response of the police even before commencing with investigation by declaring that this is a clear criminal attack. We are convinced based on our previous experiences of what is happening in Mpumalanga with politicians, as such we are reiterating our call to the National Commissioner of Police General Riah Phiyega to respond to the demands that we sent to her on the 05th June 2013 and 26th September 2014. We wish him a speedy recovery.

We believe that until the report commissioned by the former Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele is released to the public and also until such time the killers of comrades Jimmy Mohlala and Bomber Ntshangase are arrested and convicted, we will never believe anything that speaks of pure criminal attacks relating to politicians in this province.

We are convinced that there is a bunch of corrupt criminals hidden at a particular corner who have made it their business to eliminate principled politicians.

We owe it to our fore bearers to fight for a just and peaceful province. All these attacks and persecutions renew our strength to remain united and coherent in defense of the National Democratic Revolution.

On the Swaziland Struggle

The PEC condemns in the strongest possible term the decision by Swaziland regime to order the immediate closure of all workers` and employers federations. The affected federations include the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), the Federation of Swaziland Business Community and the Federation of Swaziland Employers and Chamber of Commerce. The employers` federation has angered the monarch by showing signs of supporting more democratic and accountable governance in the light of Swaziland`s declining economy whose poor performance is linked to governance issues.

We are calling for our government to grant permanent asylum to the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) and other political exiles. The Department of Home Affairs was ordered by the Court Interdict to grant CPS leaders` temporary refugee status.

We expect our departments to reflect the values and principles that represent a democratic South Africa advocating for peace and stability in the continent.


We welcome the move by the South African government to pledge $1 million towards humanitarian assistance in Gaza, as part of its contribution to diplomatic efforts towards the resolution of the Palestinian-Israel conflict.

The PEC supports the BDS movement and its campaigns to boycott G4S Security and all products coming from the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

Issued by SACP Mpumalanga


Bonakele Majuba - Provincial Secretary
Mobile: 082 968 4877

Lesetja Dikgale - Provincial Spokesperson
Mobile: 076 869 4360
Tinyiko Ntini - Provincial Media Liaison
Mobile: 084 979 5999

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South African Communist Party Eastern Cape 7th Provincial Congress Declaration

26 October 2014

We, the 838 delegates of the South African Communist Party in the Eastern Cape drawn from eight districts of our party and the YCLSA in the Eastern Cape,

We gathered at the Orient Theatre in East London on the 24 - 26 October 2014 under the theme "Working class unity and leadership now".

On the international front:

As the party we draw our understanding of the national situation from the global and continental context within which our country exists and our own concrete material conditions.

We have noted that the hegemony of the US led imperialism characterized by the rise of transnational companies (the military industrial complex), the changing role of the state, the rise of influence of the international financial institutions, the drifting away of the development finance from the productive sectors to speculative sectors such as (shares, bonds, currency ETC), privatization, low company taxes, removal of labour rights and social protection measure in an attempt to maximize profits, these and other factors have been the direct result of the on-going global social and economic crisis.

The three centers of global imperialism, United States of America, European Union and Japan are the epicenter of this social and economic crisis, notable is the drastically deteriorating conditions of the working class under the dictates of the financial monopoly-capital with policies of austerity through the command of all levers of power.

As such, we further noted that, the hegemony of US led imperialism is increasingly contested in all parts of the world, as a result it is becoming more reckless, causing immeasurable suffering of the millions of people world over. To mention but a few, is the brutal massacre of the people of Palestine, the geo-political crisis in the Euro (the former Soviet states), the Syrian war, the US led instability in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

These are just but few examples the congress has sought to highlight so as to show the empirical evidence that indeed global capitalism is in an irreversible stage of crisis.

We therefore resolved to intensify our international work , work close with progressive forces world over, including the work done at the level of BRICS , we need to fight to ensure that the BRICS Development Bank work in the interest of the workers and the poor of our countries.

We further resolved that we must join the DBS campaigns in our country and world over, as an attempt to expose the apartheid Israel brutality against the people of Palestine and intensifying against Woolworth Stores, to pledge solidarity with progressive forces in the EURO (Russia and Syria) to also actively support the self determination of the Asian Countries that are under the offensive of the US led imperialism.

All these campaigns will assist the progressive forces world over, to shift the international balance of power from the reactionary global north to the emerging progressive Global South.

The continental context:

The SACP seventh congress noted the brutality of the Mswati Tikundla monarchy in Swaziland. The protracted brutality of the Swazi regime which victimizes all organs of the people in that part of the world, the political crisis at Lesotho, the Boko Haram tendency in Nigeria.

The congress further notes the positive traces of stability and economic growth in most parts of the continent (Africa), though we note with concern the on-going illegal theft of the financial and mineral resources out of the continent, imbalances in terms of trade with the west , in particular the poor economic integration within Africa.

Therefore the congress calls upon the ANC Government to develop an action plan aimed at strongly integrating South African economy with the broader African economy and rapidly growing economies in Latin America and Asia.

The congress says that the economic integration must amongst other things, enforce a systematic and coherent effort to work with other countries in the continent to drive the agenda of an alternative development trajectory for Africa that, amongst other things, deal with but not limited to: a balanced and accelerated integration of the African economy, the unjust terms of trade with the west and other regions, the plunder and illegal extraction of capital and minerals out of Africa.

The global economic crisis presents some nuances for Africa to learn in our attempt to advance for the integration of the African economy.

At the National front:

As said earlier, the congress noted the national situation against the background of global and continental objective realities, that the global imperialist forces are waging an onslaught to the working class masses world over in an attempt to manage the collapsing and false neo-liberal economic solutions.

At the national front these forces appear in the two extremes, the first extreme is the ultra-right as represented by the DA, the second extreme is the ultra-left tendency as represented by the DFB (Amandla Network) and the newly formed United Front.

As the congress we therefore resolved that we must defeat these two extremes, to consolidate and deepen working class unity and leadership.

The congress noted that despite our setbacks , the national reality is marked by major advances such as consolidation of our constitutional democracy and many other concrete achievements that have uplifted the standard of living of many South Africans, these are, but not limited to, the bill of rights, the progressive labour laws, the provision of houses, etc, the congress noted with concern that our advances are threatened by the triple-crisis of unemployment, poverty and multidimensional inequality.

Against the above background of the global and national context, the congress reaffirmed that there is a consensus in the alliance on the need to move onto the second - radical phase of the democratic transition, in short the need to place the economy unto the new labour-absorbing growth path through a state-led bulk infrastructure programme and industrialization supported by the exploitation of our minerals for manufacturing and extensive skills development programme.

The congress noted that this consensus has made the big business and bourgeois media to view the state and our progressive unions as twine-evils, and therefore launched a campaign to paint the ANC-led government as the reason for the persistent triple-crisis that threatens our social stability.

The congress further resolved that, communist party in the Eastern Cape must close ranks against forces that seek to derail our revolution and neutralize some whom have the win-win illusion within the people’s camp.

The SACP 7th Provincial congress noted the blackout of our provincial congress by the national broadcaster, the SABC. The congress viewed this continued sidelining of the party programmes by the SABC as denial of the workers and the poor of the news they deserve to be told.

On organization:

The congress notes that next year, 2015 will mark the 20th anniversary of the untimely departure of our former General Secretary Cde Joe Slovo. The coming year will mark the 60th anniversary of the freedom charter as adopted in the Congress of the people held in 1955. In the coming year the South African Communist Party will hold its Special National Congress, the African National Congress (ANC) will hold its National General Council (NGC) and the COSATU will hold its 12th National Congress.

It is in this context that we believe, we as the communists are charged with the responsibility to unite the people, it is therefore our revolutionary obligation to mould and produce the cadreship of our party with a strong, dynamic and agile character which will lead decisively in these times. To lead the province in taking up the above tasks 7th Congress elected the following comrades:

Cde Xolile Nqatha - SACP Provincial Secretary
Cde Mzoleli Mrara - SACP Provincial Chairperson
Cde Vuyani Limba - SACP Provincial Treasurer
Cde Sisimoni Rakaibe - SACP 1st Provincial Deputy Secretary
Cde Siyabulela Mbedla - SACP 2nd Provincial Deputy Secretary
Cde Ntombizodwa Zothani - SACP Deputy Provincial Chairperson

Ordinary members:

Xolani Malamlela
Ntombovuyo Nkopane
Andile Mfunda
Vangiwe Hokwana
Mawethu Rune
Kholiswa Fihlani
Pumeza Mpushe
Nonkoliso Ngqongwa
King Socikwa
Luthando Buso
Mpumelelo Saziwa
Fundile Gade
Andile Fani
Noluthando Balfour
Nonceba Mfecane

The congress was characterized by high levels of debate and closed on a high note with ordinary members elected by consensus and delegates committing to take the work of party forward by addressing day to day challenges facing our period.

Issued by: SACP Eastern Cape

Siyabonga Mdodi
SACP Provincial Spokesperson
Cell: 083 358 8070

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Nurse Says She Won't Have Officials Violate 'My Civil Rights'
Nurse Kaci Hickox with Ted Wilbur outside her home in Maine.
Oct 29, 2014, 8:00 PM ET
Health Reporter

As Maine officials said they were preparing to get a court order to enforce a mandatory quarantine, Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox said tonight she is not willing to "stand here and have my civil rights violated."

"You could hug me, you could shake my hand [and] I would not give you Ebola," she said outside her Fort Kent home, standing alongside boyfriend Ted Wilbur.

Asked whether she would try to fight the court order, she said, "My lawyers and I will discuss that and then decide."

"I didn't sign up for this," Hickox added. "I flew into Newark [Airport] on the wrong day."

The comments came a few hours after Maine officials said they would seek to force Hickox, 33, to obey a 21-day quarantine, although the order would first need to be approved by a judge before it could be enforced.

"When it is made clear by an individual in this risk category that they do not intend to voluntarily stay at home for the remaining 21 days, we will immediately seek a court order to ensure that they do not make contact with the public," Maine Health Commissioner Mary Mayhew said during a news conference this evening.

But legal experts say it's not clear whether such an order would be approved by a judge.

“The state has the burden of proving that she is infected, or at least was credibly exposed to infection, and also that by her own behavior she is likely to infect others if not confined,” said public health lawyer Wendy Mariner, who teaches at Boston University School of Law.

“The state is not likely to have any evidence of that,” Mariner said, adding that Hickox should be able to prove that she isn't infected and plans to take precautions to not expose anyone to her bodily fluids.

Earlier today, Maine's governor and other officials said they were are seeking legal authority to enforce what started out as a voluntary quarantine. They also said state police were monitoring Hickox's home "for both her protection and the health of the community," according to a statement today from the Maine governor's office.

"We are very concerned about her safety and health and that of the community," Maine Gov. Paul LePage said. "We are exploring all of our options for protecting the health and well-being of the healthcare worker, anyone who comes in contact with her, the Fort Kent community and all of Maine. While we certainly respect the rights of one individual, we must be vigilant in protecting 1.3 million Mainers, as well as anyone who visits our great state."

Hickox was treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone for Doctors Without Borders. She returned to the United States on Friday, landing in Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, where she was questioned and quarantined in an outdoor tent through the weekend despite having no symptoms.

Hickox registered a fever on an infrared thermometer at the airport but an oral thermometer at University Hospital in Newark showed that she actually had no fever, she said.

After twice testing negative for the deadly virus, Hickox was released and returned home to Maine on Monday. The following day, the state's health commissioner announced that Maine would join the handful of states going beyond federal guidelines and asking that returning Ebola health workers self-quarantine.

"Our true desire is for a voluntary separation from the public. We do not want to have to legally enforce an in-home quarantine," Main Health Commissioner Mary Mayhew said in a statement. "We are confident that the selfless health workers, who were brave enough to care for Ebola patients in a foreign country, will be willing to take reasonable steps to protect the residents of their own country. However, we are willing to pursue legal authority if necessary to ensure risk is minimized for Mainers."

Hickox said she doesn't think it is reasonable.

"I will go to court to attain my freedom," Hickox told "Good Morning America" today via Skype from her hometown of Fort Kent. "I have been completely asymptomatic since I've been here. I feel absolutely great."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't consider health workers who treated Ebola patients in West Africa to be at "high risk" for catching Ebola if they were wearing protective gear, according to new guidelines announced this week. Since they have "some risk," the CDC recommends that they undergo monitoring -- tracking symptoms and body temperature twice a day -- avoid public transportation and take other precautions. But the CDC doesn't require home quarantines for these workers.

Someone isn't contagious until Ebola symptoms appear, according to the CDC. And even then, transmission requires contact with bodily fluids such as blood and vomit.
Troops to Be Checked for Chemical Exposure in Iraq
United States made chemical weapons found in Iraq.
OCT. 29, 2014
New York Times

The Pentagon will offer medical examinations and long-term health monitoring to service members and veterans who were exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq, the Army and Navy said in separate statements this week, as part of a review of how the military handled encounters with thousands of abandoned chemical munitions during the American occupation.

The review was ordered by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in response to an investigation by The New York Times of how troops who were exposed to nerve and mustard agents were treated by the military’s medical and awards systems. The report found that while the United States had gone to war looking for an active weapons of mass destruction program, troops instead quietly found and suffered from the remnants of the long abandoned arsenal built by Saddam Hussein with help from the West.

Since that article was published on Oct. 15, detailing several instances of exposure that the military kept secret in some cases for nearly a decade, more veterans and active-duty service members have come forward with their own accounts of exposure and inadequate treatment. To date, neither the Pentagon nor any of the services have released a full list of chemical weapons recoveries and exposures.

The Pentagon kept silent as munitions left over from Saddam Hussein’s war with Iran found new targets from 2004 to 2011: American and Iraqi troops.

The investigation by The Times found that the military did not follow its own health care guidelines in the initial care of many patients, and did not establish a means for following their health over time, as the guidelines also required. It also found that the services applied different standards for awarding Purple Hearts, a medal that recognizes wounds received in action, engendering bitterness and feelings of betrayal among troops and veterans who were exposed.

In response, two senior Army doctors said in interviews this week that new medical examinations for troops and veterans who were exposed to chemical munitions would begin in early 2015.

Maj. Gen. Gary Cheek, deputy commanding general for Army operations, said the veterans’ accounts of poor medical care and follow-up were disturbing. “I am not going to try to excuse it,” he said.

“The No. 1 thing for us is to make sure we are taking care of soldiers” and veterans, he said, and added that the military planned to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure exposures were documented and treated if necessary.

But he defended the continued secret classification of chemical-weapons incidents, saying that the military did not want to provide information to insurgents that Iraq’s old chemical munitions “could be effective.”

“These are some of the rationales for keeping this stuff within secret channels,” he said.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, Mr. Hagel’s spokesman, suggested that position was now under review. “The secretary obviously remains committed to preserving operational security but also recognizes the value in making available as much information as possible to veterans preparing — or continuing to file — V.A. claims,” he said.

The new accounts increase to at least 25 the total number of American troops exposed to chemical agents from some of the thousands of aged and corroding munitions that the troops found in abandoned stockpiles or came across in roadside bombs made from those old munitions. The latest accounts mostly fit a pattern that is now familiar. They include two Army bomb disposal technicians who picked up a mustard shell at a roadside bombing in 2004; two Navy disposal technicians who handled mustard shells in separate incidents in 2006 and 2007; and members of an Army infantry platoon who said they were denied decontamination and swift medical evaluation after inhaling mustard vapors in 2008, when soldiers were destroying a buried chemical-munitions stockpile.

“It was a failure of leadership,” said Reid Wilbraham, a former sergeant and squad leader in B Company, First Battalion, 14th Regiment, who said that his platoon leader had pressed more senior officers to allow soldiers to be examined but was rebuffed for days.

Mr. Wilbraham said that while the two soldiers with chemical burns had been evacuated to a military hospital and then to Germany, those with inhalation complaints were told to remain at their posts.

“They told us to burn our uniforms and take showers,” Mr. Wilbraham said. The soldiers may have contaminated each other in the close quarters they shared, he said.

Mr. Wilbraham also noted that even though the Army had known that mustard shells had been found in the area where the platoon operated, and that just weeks before Marines had recovered stocks of corroded mustard shells at Al Muthanna State Establishment, the center of Iraq’s chemical weapons production in the 1980s, the Army did not take steps to ensure the soldiers’ well-being.

“We weren’t prepared at all, not in the least,” he said. “It was a failure, a failure at all levels. I failed. Everybody failed. And failures need to be studied so they don’t happen again.”

Matt Krakowski, Mr. Wilbraham’s former platoon leader, confirmed that account, and added that after soldiers complained the Army had assigned an investigating officer who looked into the demolition but did not address the Army’s failure to follow its own medical treatment guidelines.

Mr. Krakowski also provided records — including sworn statements his soldiers gave to the officer investigating the demolition — that confirmed his and his soldiers’ presence at the incident.

The accounts of still other troops and veterans suggested that there were more instances of chemical exposure, and could be a larger number of exposed veterans than the services have acknowledged or perhaps even know about.

One helicopter pilot described a medical flight in April 2007 for a soldier burned by mustard agent.

The pilot said he had not been informed that the patient was a chemical casualty until after the flight when he and his crew were told by the military hospital that they would need to decontaminate their aircraft.

Clayton Swansen, a former Navy ordnance disposal technician, said he was part of a team that recovered a leaking mustard shell near Qaim in 2007 after a suicide truck bomb at a government compound.

The shell had been carried, he said, from the bomb site to a dud pit on a nearby Marine outpost. “Some other guys, probably on foot patrol, had found it and brought it back,” Mr. Swansen said. These Marines may have been contaminated, too, he added.

The details and incident accounts, like those provided by Mr. Swansen and Mr. Krakowski, have been disclosed by rank-and-file participants, many of whom said military secrecy had undermined their care or ability even to register with Veterans Affairs.

Jonathan Martin, a former Marine who was exposed to mustard agent, said that when he tried to tell the Department of Veterans Affairs about his exposure he had been doubted. “It would be nice to get some recognition that this actually happened,” he said. (The Marine Corps confirmed for The Times that Mr. Martin had been exposed.)

As the services released details of their medical efforts, Phillip Carter, an Iraq war veteran who leads the veterans’ research program at the Center for a New American Security, said it was not clear the outreach would be sufficient. Many veterans might not know they were exposed, he said, or will have no records indicating exposure.

“If they only look for people who say there were exposed they will not find them all,” he said. Rather, he suggested that the military “crawl through the data” of battlefield reports, postdeployment health surveys and medical records to find and register victims it might otherwise miss.

Dr. Coleen Baird, the environmental medicine program manager at the Army’s Public Health Command, said the Army did plan to review postdeployment health surveys and was trying to identify rosters of explosive ordnance disposal units — whose members were among those most at risk — to identify other veterans for assessment.

As the services worked through details of medical outreach, the Navy also said that it was reviewing the records of two ordnance disposal technicians, Senior Chief Ted Pickett and former Petty Officer Jeremiah Foxwell, and would be considering them for Purple Hearts.

Neither sailor was submitted for the medal after inhaling mustard agent from a chemical shell used after a roadside bombing in Baghdad in 2006.

Senior Chief Pickett did not wish to comment on his own case, but he said that Mr. Foxwell, who has been granted a partial medical disability for respiratory problems, should have received the award. “He definitely deserved it,” he said. “There just weren’t any legs for it at the time.”

Cmdr. Ryan Perry, a Navy spokesman, said the Navy had begun examining the records. “We are committed to taking the appropriate follow-on action to ensure our people get the recognition they deserved,” he said.

Mr. Foxwell said Commander Perry had called him to discuss the exposure, and told him that Mr. Hagel “has expressed that he wants the situation fixed.”

John Ismay contributed reporting from New York.
Dozens Of Volunteers Have Come Back Safe From Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia
Rev. Jesse Jackson with family members of Thomas Eric

Close to 50 volunteers have come back safe and well from the Ebola hot zone in West Africa, aid agencies tell NBC News, even as states debate whether to force such workers into quarantine.

A look at the numbers from groups such as Doctors Without Borders and the International Medical Corps shows just about 150 people have gone to help fight the epidemic in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Of them, 47 have returned symptom-free.

President Barack Obama greeted many of the volunteers in the White House Wednesday, saying they should be applauded. “The world needs you more than ever,” he told them. “We (have) got hundreds of American from across the country...who are putting themselves on the front line of this fight,” he added. “When they come home, they deserve to be treated properly. They deserve to be treated like the heroes they are.”

To arrive at these numbers, NBC News polled 13 aid agencies, including the U.S. Public Health Service, Serving in Mission (SIM), Save the Children and the American Red Cross. They had among them sent 151 people to West Africa, and said 47 of them have come home symptom-free.

Among those who have been infected: SIM’s Nancy Writebol and Dr. Rick Sacra, Dr. Kent Brantly of Samaritan’s Purse, Dr. Craig Spencer of Doctors Without Borders and an as-yet unidentified worker with the World Health Organization. None has infected anyone else. Two nurses who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian coming to settle in the United States, were infected and have recovered.

The case of Kaci Hickox, a nurse volunteering with Doctors Without Borders who was forcibly quarantined by first New Jersey and now Maine on her return from Sierra Leone, has polarized the United States. Governors like New Jersey’s Chris Christie have unapologetically said they’ll do what they must to protect their states’ citizens. But infectious disease experts including many who have treated actual Ebola patients disapprove of these measures, saying they go too far and will discourage volunteers just as they are most needed.

"You know I truly believe that this policy is not scientifically nor constitutionally just, so I am not going to sit around and be bullied by politicians and forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public," Hickox told NBC’s Kate Snow in an interview.

So health officials in Maine say they’ll seek a court order to make Hickox stay home, even though she has no symptoms of Ebola, might not ever get it, and is of no risk to anyone.

“We believe that there’s no basis, no justification, for such an order, but if the order is granted in the next day or two, we will fly up to Maine and we will challenge that order. Kaci told us if that happens we should go to court to obtain her freedom, and we will do that,” her attorney, Normal Siegel, said.

Other states are taking a milder approach. Texas sent its chief health officer, Dr. David Lakey, to greet a returning nurse on Wednesday. And Governor Rick Perry called the nurse, who wasn’t named.

“In Texas, we have a great tradition of welcoming our heroes back home and this heroic individual deserves our appreciation, our compassion, and our utmost respect,” Perry said in a statement. “The tremendous work that she and so many other health care workers are doing in West Africa is making life better for those in afflicted countries and helps protect the rest of the world from the spread of this terrible disease; they are doing vitally important work that makes us all proud.”

The nurse has agreed to self-quarantine and is being lavished with praise in return.

“This health care hero has made a great sacrifice in traveling abroad to minister to those who are suffering,” Perry said. “Even now home in Texas, she continues to demonstrate her selflessness by agreeing to quarantine herself and further protect her fellow Texans.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says even that’s not necessary. All anyone returning from West Africa needs to do is self-monitor. People who cared for patients without protection, or those who had unprotected contact with a patient, should stay home, but nurses who wore protected gear don’t fall into this category and should simply be closely watched, the CDC advises.

Some states, such as California, are following these guidelines.

“Not everyone who has been to an Ebola affected area should be considered high risk,” said California Department of Public Health director Dr. Ron Chapman.

But even the federal government is taking various approaches. The State Department said Wednesday it will not impose a blanket 21-day isolation period for State Department employees returning from Ebola-affected countries.

But Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday approved a recommendation that all U.S. troops returning from Ebola missions be kept in isolation. There are now 42 U.S. soldiers in quarantine at a complex in Vicenza, Italy. Another group is scheduled to arrive there on Friday, bringing the total number to 75.

First published October 29th 2014, 6:11