Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Spectator Democracy In Zimbabwe
September 26, 2016
Opinion & Analysis
Reason Wafawarova
Zimbabwe Herald

Evan Mawarire’s plot to demonstrate against President Mugabe in New York was spoiled by the counter-protest by some Zimbabweans based in the United States, backed by a larger crowd of members of the December 12 Movement (pictured), a US based anti-imperialist movement
Reason Wafawarova on Monday

It is difficult to determine the position of the common person in Zimbabwe when a group of supposedly disenchanted Zimbabweans travels to the United States to make a protest point against their own Government on the streets of New York. It even gets a lot more complicated when the said group is confronted with an even angrier group of largely African-American citizens, marching in solidarity with the very Government against whom a coterie of supposedly concerned Zimbabweans flew to New York to denounce.

The clash of the two protesting groups was certainly not a global attention event, but it generated a significant amount of interest among Zimbabwean social media patrons, and was keenly followed by US elites who reportedly sponsored the anti-government protesters, hoping to cause an internationally significant humiliation of President Mugabe at the annual UN General Assembly Summit. Agenda setting it is called.

The plot was spoiled by the counter-protest by some Zimbabweans based in the United States, backed by a larger crowd of members of the December 12 Movement, a US based anti-capitalist movement that has in the past stood resolutely with countries that have been sanctioned or isolated by Washington and the West, among them Cuba, Haiti and Venezuela.

The question to be answered is why the people who flew from Zimbabwe to New York thought the streets of New York would make a better platform for the democratic right to protest against their own Government. Evan Mawarire is a self-exiled lone campaigner for the “shutting down of Zimbabwe”. through his #This Flag social media “movement” and he was denounced as a “Green Card traitor” by angry members of the December 12 Movement. Essentially, the assertion is that the lone social media protester has abused the asylum privilege by creating a non-existent crisis in which he has postured as a hapless victim at the mercy of draconian regime — that way earning himself the right to stay permanently in the United States. The gimmick is treacherous and unacceptable, it is alleged.

The New York humiliation of the hired protesters was unexpected by its funders and organisers, and was certainly unexpected on the part of the Zimbabwean activists who embarked on the sponsored foreign mission. Something had to be done to minimise the damage the monumental flop had caused.

In came the Reuters interview with President Ian Khama of Botswana; the man credited with running the “beautiful example of democracy” in Southern Africa. Certainly the Botswana opposition must be infuriated by such accolades to a man they believe stifles democracy in the most cruel of manners, but that is a matter for another day.

Ian Khama is reported to have called for the departure of his elder counterpart in Zimbabwe, ostensibly on the basis of age and the economic situation in Zimbabwe.

The record of Ian Khama in the politics of Zimbabwe is unholy. He has often broken ranks with other regional leaders to pursue his solidarity with Britain and the United States over the land issue in Zimbabwe, and of course his cover has always been the pursuit for the democratisation of Zimbabwe, in the Western sense.

This week I will take a look at spectator democracy in Zimbabwe, a concept where the opinion of the masses is shaped by the preferences of the elite, and hopefully the analysis will detail how the propaganda framework helps to achieve this.

When Woodrow Wilson was elected to the presidency of the United States in 1916, his administration was committed to joining World War 1 at a time the US population was so pacifist that it saw no reason to get involved with a European war.

Wilson decided to establish a propaganda commission called the Creel Commission, which succeeded within an impressive six months to turn an apathetic and pacifist population into a hysterical war-mongering mass sworn to the marrow to the idea of destroying everything and anything German, avowed totally to the doctrine of tearing Germans to pieces limb from limb — in the process saving the world from the deadly threat that Germany had become.

In the aftermath of the war, the Creel Commission successfully used the acquired propaganda tactics to launch an attack on unionism in the United States, whipping up a hysterical Red Scare, and successfully destroying workers unions and eliminating such dangerous problems as freedom of the press and freedom of political thought.

The propaganda model was superbly supported by the media and business establishments, as well as by the intellectual community, especially the intellectuals of the John Dewey era — themselves overly proud of being the “more intelligent members of the community”.

In quite an impressive and indisputably successful way, this group was able to drive a reluctant population into a massive war by simply terrifying them to the point of eliciting jingoist fanaticism.

All it needed was a good deal of fabrication of atrocities by the other side, like making up stories of Belgian babies with torn off limbs, and all sorts of awful things against the Huns that one can easily read in history books today.

The Americans borrowed much of the fabrications from the British propaganda ministry, whose declared objective was “to direct the thought of most of the world”, roping in the process US intellectuals, who in turn passed on the concocted propaganda for facts, successfully converting a passive country to unprecedented wartime hysteria.

This experience shows that state propaganda can have a huge effect on democracy, especially when it bars deviation and when supported by the educated classes.

Hitler himself believed so much in this political doctrine, and the doctrine keeps Western democracies ticking to this day, just like it is used by totalitarian regimes across the world.

Liberal democratic theorists like Walter Lippmann got involved so much in the propaganda commissions of the time and immediately recognised how much could be achieved through them. The prominent journalist ended up arguing that “revolution in the art of democracy” could be positively used to “manufacture consent,” essentially to make the public agree with what they do not want. Not only did Lippmann think that using propaganda techniques to manufacture public consent was a brilliant idea, he also believed it was an absolutely necessary phenomenon.

His reasoning was impressively frank. He argued, “the common interests elude public opinion entirely”, and that such interests can only be understood and managed by a “specialised class” of “responsible men”, who are privileged to be the only ones smart enough to figure out life’s complex realities.

This theory that asserts that only a small elite can understand common interests has become part of Zimbabwe’s political culture across the political divide.

We have come to the point where the whole nation sometimes eagerly waits for the outcome of those long in the night Politburo meetings to know what will happen over many matters of national interest.

Equally the opposition supporters have been cultured to wait for leaders to determine where they must stand on national policy.

We saw the discord where land hungry supporters of the opposition risked being expelled from the MDC for applying for farms during the land acquisition era. One Sekai Makwavarara ended up crossing the floor to the ruling party, but I digress.

After the 2008 election crisis, the nation had to watch six people travel to and from South Africa negotiating our collective future for nine long months.

Spectator democracy then dictated that we all watched and waited as three lawyers, a diplomat, an accountant, and a female political activist shouldered the responsibility of determining our collective future, with South Africans playing the umpire.

Democracy had spoken to us through the 2008 election, and it had told us that Arthur Mutambara, Welshman Ncube and Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga were losers. The GPA negotiations of spectator democracy gave them back to us as winners, one as the Deputy Prime Minister even. This is how elitism works. Someone with better brains must always correct the messy way the unthinking masses do things.

Now we have the so-called National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) being packaged as the national way forward towards elections. Were the masses not told that the equally elitist COPAC did a wonderful job coming up with a people created and endorsed Constitution? Why does this wonderful Constitution need a NERA so soon?

Interestingly the very intellectual and political protagonists who gave us the COPAC headaches are now giving us these NERA dramas.

Then we had to watch from the terraces as these know-alls battled it out to lecture us on the wonderful need to embrace gay rights, dual citizenry, age limits to the presidency, freedom of this and that, and so on and so forth. Now we have to watch NERA telling us how Election 2018 must happen, and we have to put up with NERA’s sidekicks, the likes of Tajamuka and Evan Mawarire’s disappearing #This Flag.

It looks like everyone with an ambition can now delude him or herself into playing hero to an imagined political gallery of the masses. We need real participation of the masses if we are going to develop a true democracy in Zimbabwe, not this spectator games where a few elites create an agenda and expect the masses to cheer along.

We have recently seen bickering personalities within ZANU-PF taking initiatives to gather people so they can spar openly at rallies, and the rallies are organised not to seek public opinion, but to manipulate it, to manufacture public consent in promotion of sinister succession motives. This is what we get when we promote spectator democracy.

The view that what all of us care about can only be explained and articulated well by a few elites is typically a Leninist one — that concept of vanguard revolutionary intellectuals taking power on the ride of popular revolutions, using people power as a force to gain power, and then skilfully drive the stupid masses toward a future they are too dumb and incompetent to comprehend.

The common ideological assumptions between liberal democrats and Marxism-Leninism are quite similar, just like the ideological assumptions of liberal democracies and dictatorships are essentially the same. That is why it is easy for liberal democrats to instantly switch to dictatorship, and also for dictators to instantly convert to liberal democracy.

All that needs to be done is to assess where power lies and say if power is in a popular revolution let that revolution put us into state power; or maybe we can rely on the power of business and corporations to get the same state power; or who cares if that power will come from the military, for as long as it takes us to state power. In the end we will just have to drive the stupid masses toward a world they are too dumb to comprehend.

We now accept it that if the means are in Western funding let us use those means to gain state power, if the means are in civic organisations, in war veterans, or in the youth let us just use those means; but purely on the same assumptions and objectives of accessing state power for power’s sake, never ever to share it with the unthinking masses, but to let it benefit us politicians and the power centres that thrusts us into political office.

After all the masses are like three-year-olds — you cannot reasonably entrust them with complex matters of life.

As Lippmann aptly argues, there are two classes of citizens in a democracy, the specialised class that always talks about what to do about and on behalf of those all others, and of course the class of “those all others,” — the bewildered herd whose function in a democracy is to be “spectators” in the complex action of the thinking elites, when they are not enjoying those moments they are allowed to lend their weight to one or the other member of the specialised class through programmed elections.

Precisely that is why incumbent politicians believe by merely looking at their action plans and adding to them their personal political aspirations they by definition become not only indispensable but also unreplaceable.

Morgan Tsvangirai has become to his brand of the MDC what President Robert Mugabe has become to ZANU-PF — hard to replace politicians in whose absence an election has become so hard to envisage.

Spectator democracy has given to the United States an election in which the masses will have to choose between dysentery and diarrhoea, between two ageing grannies, one a bigot of nonsensical proportions, and the other a pathological liar with a passion for dishonesty. One of the two will be ratified by the masses as the US president in November.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death.

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.
Roll Back Monopoly Capital, Grow Jobs and Build Unity: Unite our Communities, the Working Class and Our Movement
SACP solidarity message to Sactwu`s National Congress delivered by General Secretary Comrade Blade Nzimande.

Cape Town International Convention Centre, 22 September 2016.

On behalf of the 250 000 members of the South African Communist Party (SACP) I bring revolutionary greetings to this, the 13th Congress of SACTWU - a pioneering union and founder member of our federation and ally, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). I must also take this opportunity to congratulate SACTWU, through its creative combination of mass struggles and negotiations, in saving and beginning to grow the textile sector over the last decade over the last two decades.

You are holding your congress under a very important theme of "Defending democracy, protect workers, build unity, fight corruption, grow jobs and strengthening service to members". The subthemes of your Congress slogan in fact constitute the key pillars of advancing the interests of both the trade union movement and our country. Your theme is broadly similar to the SACP`s own recent concerns about the necessity to roll back monopoly capital, fighting the parasitic bourgeoisie through building the unity of our communities, the working class and our movement, in order to drive a second, more radical phase, of our national democratic revolution. I will however come back to these important matters.

Today in our message, we would like to touch on the following:

The global context within which we find ourselves as the left, the working class and as a country
The domestic terrain and its challenges
As well as some of the key internal organisational challenges facing our movement, Alliance and its components
A brief report-back on my part on some of the recent and current challenges facing post-school education and training facing our country
And conclude with a call to action by the working class, by giving the SACP`s own content to your main Congress slogan
The global context: Necessity for build a left alternative to neo-liberalism

Globally we are still living under the lingering effect of the 2008 financial meltdown which was perhaps the worst of the bust cycles of capitalism since the Great Depression of the late 1920s. This crisis is a natural outcome of the contradictions within monopoly capital, arising from the patterns of over-accumulation and over-production on the one hand, and under-consumption on the other. Additionally, the period of globalisation was characterised by stagnation and even a decline in real wages and the implementation of austerity measures and the commodification and outsourcing of basic public services by the state; juxtaposed against massive public financing of the private sector through bank bail-outs. The consequences of these contradictions were increases in unemployment, poverty, and income polarisation and deepening inequality.

Given the enormity of the crisis one would have expected an emergence of a powerful left movement organised to challenge the capitalist system itself. But that was not to be, and it is important for working class formations and the left broadly to ask the question as to why this has not been the case? There are a number of factors, but perhaps the most important factor could be the impact of neo liberal restructuring on the working class in advanced capitalist countries; restructuring that has severely weakened the organisation capacity of the working class structures.  For instance, we no longer have the industrial working class that was defined by Marx and Engels in contemporary advanced capitalist countries in their 19th century writings.  Today, we have people with three or four, often casualised, jobs. We also have displacement of industrial production with services sectors with the emergence of the so-called `knowledge economy`. That has changed the character and social composition of contemporary working classes.

Another factor is the overwhelming dominance of media monopolies, which means that the capitalist class for now is really able to win the ideological war against any attempts at socialism.  The ideological impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union can also not be underestimated, as it was projected as a failure of socialism as an alternative to captialism.

However, we need to study closely and engage with some of the emerging left, alternative projects in a place like Latin America. Much as these projects are under huge imperialist offensive to suffocate them, but the emergence and experiences of left-wing governments in places like Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, etc must be closely studied. They provide some hope that indeed it is possible to organise mass formations into a political bloc of pro-socialist and anti-neoliberal forces.

Working class and progressive movements also need to study closely and engage with the experience of the left political party Syriza in Greece. The Syriza experience shows the increasing dominance of banks over the political system and the dictatorship of capitalist banks of the electoral choices of the people. The people of Greece voted the leftist Syriza into power on the mandate of rejection of austerity measures imposed by European Banks in Greece.  Furthermore, they rejected the austerity measures prescribed by European banks on Greece through a referendum as well.  Yet Syriza, as government, was forced to implement those very same austerity measures that were democratically rejected by the people and undemocratically imposed by the European banks.

The Greek experience perhaps represents one of the sharpest moments of the crisis of Western multi-party democracy under neo-liberalism. It is a serious crisis when the voice of the people no longer matters and when the voice of the big banks and financial institutions matter more and decide the fate of countries over electoral outcomes.  The value of democratic elections is then challenged.  Does it really matter if left parties win elections today, if banks (and rating agencies) can after all impose their will?  What difference does it make, if the capitalist institutions such as banks impose their will against the will of the people?   That is the crisis in the political system of Western democracies.  Are we not experiencing the same with the axe of rating agencies hanging over our democracy?

The other crisis is the rise of right wing neo fascist and populist forces in many countries in the world, ranging from those in Europe to countries that are being destabilised by imperialist forces, thus creating a new momentum for right wing, neo fascist forces.

The emergence of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) platform to provide an alternative to, amongst others, the Brettonwoods institutions through the setting up of the New Development Bank, and through its efforts to promote an alternative (potentially) progressive economic trajectory.  While appreciating these efforts, there has however not emerged a globally significant coherent, left alternative capable of challenging global capital in the wake of the 2008 crisis and its aftermath had failed to emerge and occupy the space presented by the crisis of capital.  Instead the failure to consolidate a left hegemony had allowed for growing instability in some of the countries with left wing governments, ignited in the main by imperialism.

Even in the BRICS countries there are some serious problems and challenges that require that we temper with whatever (legitimate) optimism we might (and should) have. We therefore should be very optimistic about BRICS whilst grappling with the challenges that it faces.  For example each of the BRICS countries is facing some serious problems or challenges. Brazil has been in a recession and the right wing forces have just performed a coup of unseating (through impeachment) a sitting left-wing president committed to the ideals of BRICS as a progressive international platform.

Russia has also been in a recession and its economy under siege from imperialist sanctions. We however need to study and analyse closely the Russian political economy, as well as its political structures and not fall into some romantic idea that contemporary Russia is some re-incarnation of the former Soviet Union. Russia`s political economy is that of an alliance between a securocratic class and some powerful capitalist oligarchies. Some make the pertinent observation and comparison between Russian and contemporary South Africa that the Russian state is able to discipline the oligarchy, whilst in South Africa some established and emergent oligarchs are the ones that seem to discipline the state!

India is now ruled by a right wing government, despite some flash of hope with the communists winning back the state of Kerala - another example we need to study closely.

China is focused on restructuring its own internal economy, and is no longer absorbing our mineral resources, whose exports helped to cushion us from the worst vagaries of the 2008 crisis.

The SACP`s perspectives in the current global conjuncture are that our movement and government need to wage a consistent struggle to develop our country by partially delinking from the major centres of the imperialist economy. This means that whilst we cannot completely delink, but we must wage a serious struggle for our national sovereignty so that we are able to make some choices on our paths to economic development that is beneficial to the workers and poor of our country.

The domestic situation

Our message has spent a considerable amount of time on the global situation, because it has had and continues to have an enormous impact on our domestic realities.

For instance the SACP would like to argue that we need to study very closely, and learn lessons from, the SACTWU own experiences and struggles in trying to save the clothing and textile industry, in order to understand the relationship between global realities and our own domestic challenges. SACTWU has had to wage major struggles and sought to negotiate for workers in the light of cheap foreign textile and clothing imports, against the background of rapid de-industrialisation of South Africa. How did SACTWU manage to achieve what it has done in the light of hugely unfavourable global and domestic terrains? It is perhaps important that we do not learn only from other countries` experiences but to also learn from ourselves, through thorough and dispassionate analyses of experiences such as that of SACTWU and the textile industry. The SACP hopes that you will use your 13th Congress for such reflections.

Employment in the clothing, textile, leather and footwear sector was approximately 239 000 in 1994. It declined by about 36 500 jobs, to just over 275 000 in two years to 1996. This massive jobs bloodbath further resulted in over 100 000 jobs lost in the sector between 1996 and 2009. The sector`s employment shrunk to just over 164 000 in 2009. The decline continued thereafter, but this time at a slow rate, stabilising at about 138 000 jobs in 2014. By 2015, the sector was recovering and new jobs were being created. What these numbers tell us is that 68.77 percent of the workforce in the sector lost their jobs from 1994 to 2009. This means 59.66 percent of the sector`s workforce lost their jobs from 1996 to 2009.

As a direct fruit of your union`s in co-operation with the Economic Development Department established in 2009 and the Department of Trade and Industry to revive production and create jobs in the sector, its exports contributed to its output by R15.9 billion from a low base of R6.1 billion in 2009, to R22.1 billion in 2015. Productivity in the sector has increased remarkably in clothing, footwear and leather segments and is well under way in the segments of leather goods and textiles. Employment increased by about 6 000 jobs in one year from 2014 from about 138 000 to about 144 000 in 2015. What this means is that your work with at least the two government departments has managed to both stabilise the sector and ensure growth in both production and employment. The trend in production and employment growth must be sustained. The SACP has confidence in your union; that you will deliver on this task.

Perhaps the primary (and contradictory) defining feature of the South Africa domestic conjuncture today is that whilst the ANC government has done exceptionally well with some of its major redistributive programmes, it has not succeeded in the transformation of the semi-colonial trajectory of the South African economy. For instance, today, no country in the world, except South Africa has managed to build more than 3 million houses and hand them over to the poor for free! This is a huge achievement indeed! So we can count extension of social grants, electrification and education. For instance today virtually all poor learners in school get at least one free meal a day. In higher education, there has been a phenomenal growth of over 20 year olds with a tertiary qualification from 9,1% in 2009 to 14,3% in 2015!

But (and a big BUT), our semi-colonial trajectory remains unchanged. We still remain a predominantly mining economy that continues with a `pit-to-port` economy, exporting all our raw materials, not beneficiated, into other countries. Our domestic economy continues to be hemmed in by the persisting racial, class and gender inequalities, reproduced by, and in turn reproducing, the structural unemployment, poverty and inequality.

In the above reality, more and more South Africans become reliant on government for redistributive interventions (be it housing, services, social grants, etc) which are unable to cope with the demand. There is also massive and continuing migration from impoverished rural areas into the urban areas, putting more stresses into the services in   metropolitan areas, with a significant growth of both the unemployed or precariously employed poor.

Within the ANC, and the Alliance, these social and class realities are manifesting themselves through an internal and perpetual scramble for political and governmental positions as the only means of accessing livelihoods for many cadres of the movement. It is these realities that form the material basis for factionalism, money politics, tenderpreneurship, politics of slates and networks of patronage and corruption that in turn become an unending source of conflict and the weakening of especially the ANC as an organisation. `Service delivery` as a mode of interacting with our communities, often with a middle man mediating the government-community relations, is reinforced by the patronage-driven offering of many services. Therefore delivery from above, rather than grassroots driven participation in local development, becomes the predominant mode of functioning of government.

The above dynamics also find expression inside a number of our unions, through what we have referred to as business unionism. This is where capturing of union financial and other resources are often elevated above service to workers.

In South Africa, there is also high indebtedness of both the working class and the middle classes, given the very high inequalities in society, as well as consumerism that has become the primary mode of accumulation for the financial sector, rather than investment into the productive economy, SMEs and co-operatives.

All of the above have in turn fuelled student protests as a result of increasing unaffordability of especially higher education, not only for the poor but also for especially the lower middle classes.

Therefore the resolution of all these challenges, including the class dynamics within our own movement and Alliance, are inextricably linked to the radical transformation of the current economic trajectory. But this must not be interpreted to mean that our organisations cannot do a lot through enforcement of the values of our liberation movement, and deal decisively with corruption and factionalism.

It is the SACP`s view that at the heart of the dissatisfaction in most of our communities have a lot to do with this contradictory relationship between, on the one hand, the inadequacy of the ameliorative redistributive measures, and on the other hand, within a context of deepening and stubborn, structural features of our semi-colonial growth trajectory.

However, a crucial struggle we need to jointly wage as the SACP, together with the trade union movement is that of deepening inter-sectoral trade union solidarity campaigns as well as rebuilding trade union and community solidarity struggles.

Challenges in post-school education and training

Let me take this opportunity to report back to you on matters relating to higher education. I will largely be drawing on the statement issued by the Department of Higher Education and Training on Monday, with a particular focus on the 2017 university and college fees.

Currently, our universities face an extremely difficult financial situation. The effects of last year`s moratorium on fee adjustments and the extra costs associated with insourcing have both added to these challenges.

Our immediate and pressing task is to ensure that as we continue to improve access to post-school education and strengthen the quality of learning and teaching, we do not erode the financial sustainability of the sector.

Our economy is currently weak and our fiscal position parlous. The tax burden has been rising in recent years, and we must preserve the fiscal space to fund government`s policy agenda in future years. This means that any funding government mobilises to support the pressing challenges in higher education, it would need to reprioritise from other government programmes.

We understand the legitimate student concerns about the affordability of university education. At the same time, we need to ensure that those who can afford to pay must pay.

Equally importantly, the post-school budget has to cover students in technical and vocational education and training alternatives for 18 million South Africans who are unable to study at university.

In other words, our job as government requires a number of very delicate balancing acts.

To achieve our objectives, we must continue arguing for as significant a budget allocation as possible for post-school education. Indeed, a look at this year`s budget shows that this sector received the largest increase in funding of any government department.

Higher Education and Training this year received an additional 18% for 2016/17, with an average annual increase of 9.8% across the Medium Term Expenditure Framework period up until 2018/19.

From R42 billion in the 2015/16 financial year, the Department`s budget is set to rise to R55.3 billion in 2018/19.

Government has this year provided R1.9 billion of the R2.3 billion shortfall resulting from the subsidisation of the 2016 university fee increase. More than R4.5 billion in the 2016/17 financial year has been reprioritised to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Expanded funding is targeted to support 205 000 students entering universities for the first time or continuing this year, and a further 200 000 students at TVET colleges. This means that a total of 405 000 students would receive government support to access universities and colleges in 2016.

The National Skills Fund (NSF) has allocated R1.393 billion in 2016 towards funding undergraduate and postgraduate bursaries in scarce and critical skills. This funding is directed at meeting the full cost of study for over 13 500 undergraduate and 1 200 postgraduate students enrolled in programmes at our 26 public universities.

Artisan development is also key on our agenda to address the National Development Plan target of 30 000 artisans per annum by 2030. Dependent on the artisan trade, it costs between R350 000 - R400 000 over a period of three years to train an artisan. This year the target is to register 30 750 new artisan learners, which will amount to approximately R4.6 billion in artisan learner grant funding through the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).

While the Presidential Commission does its important work in developing proposals for a long-term funding model, universities will not be able to operate with less funds than what they already have. Everything is more expensive today than it was this time last year.

That is the reality of inflation.

We have looked at the challenges at hand from all sides and have concluded that the best approach would be to allow universities individually to determine the level of increase that their institutions will require to ensure that they continue to operate effectively and at least maintain existing quality - with the caution that this has to also take into account affordability to students, and therefore has to be transparent, reasonable and related to inflation-linked adjustments. Our recommendation is that fee adjustments should not go above 8%.

To ensure that such inflation-linked fee adjustments on the 2015 fee baseline are affordable to financially needy students, government is committed to finding the resources to support children of all poor, working and middle class families - those with a household income of up to R600 000 per annum - with subsidy funding to cover the gap between the 2015 fee and the adjusted 2017 fee at their institution. This will be done for fee increments up to 8%.

This will in effect mean that all NSFAS qualifying students, as well as the so-called "missing middle" - that is, students whose families earn above the NSFAS threshold but who are unable to support their children to access higher education, will experience no fee increase in 2017. Government will pay for the fee adjustment. This will bring huge relief to nurses, teachers, police, social workers, and other parents who work in occupations that do not earn huge salaries, and who have children at university. This will apply to students at universities and TVET colleges.

Administrative mechanisms will be developed and students informed on how to apply for the gap-funding grant before the end of this academic year.

There are many students from upper middle class and well-off families, as well as students on full company bursaries in our institutions who can afford to pay the adjusted 2017 fees, and we expect them to do so.

It is very unclear to government why families who can afford private schools should, under the current circumstances, be receiving further state subsidies for their children at universities.

To subsidise these students would require taking funding from the poor to support cheaper higher education for the wealthy, which is not justifiable in a context of inequality in our country. We cannot subsidise the child of a cleaner or unemployed person in the same way as we subsidise the child of a well-paid advocate or investment banker.

While NSFAS will continue to provide loans and bursaries to poor students, the Department of Higher Education and Training and universities will continue to mobilise institutional and private sector financial support to enable affordable financial aid options for the "missing middle" students.

I have constituted the Ministerial Task Team on funding support for the poor and "missing middle" students, which is developing a model that will be tested in 2017 to provide affordable support to these students. We will continue to look for other ways of supporting financially needy students not covered by NSFAS, whilst a long-term solution is being developed to raise sufficient funding from the public sector, private sector and other sources to fund "missing middle" students at universities and TVET colleges.

We call upon SACTWU to also condemn some of the vandalism in our institutions, and to express support for the progressive measures taken by government to deal with the 2017 fee adjustments. Also, as parents, we call upon SACTWU to partner with us in the journey to transform higher education.

What is to be done? The urgent tasks of the working class

Our revolution is truly at its crossroads given the many urgent challenges facing our movement and in particular the working class. It is important that we firmly locate our contemporary struggles within the overall context of our struggles to fight for a socialist South Africa. But it is along your own Congress slogan and its subthemes that we must define the tasks of the working class in the current period, against the background of deepening the national democratic revolution towards a transition to socialism:

Defend our democracy

Defending our democracy is an important theme in the contemporary struggles of the working class in South Africa today. At its core, defending our democracy must fundamentally mean the advancement of the socio-economic rights of the workers and the poor and the defence of all the institutions that will advance these. The struggle for defending democracy in the interests of the working class must be integrally linked and connected to the struggle against corruption.

In the current period, this means defending our democratic institutions, and institutions sustaining our democracy, must be defended from being captured either by monopoly capital or by the parasitic bourgeoisie. This means defending, albeit transforming, our Treasury, the South African Revenue Services (SARS), from predatory capitalist elements, etc.

The struggle to defend and deepen our democracy must also mean defending and strengthening the capacity of State Owned Companies (SoCs) so that we are able to use them to discipline and roll back the negative impact and influence of monopoly capital.

If our state, its SoCs and democratic institutions are captured, it would be the working class that would suffer and we would not be able to fight poverty, unemployment and inequality.

We call upon the workers of this country to intensify its struggle against monopoly capital and also to defeat the parasitic bourgeoisie so that we place the interests of the workers and the poor at the centre of our developmental agenda.

Protect Workers

It is of course very important for SACTWU to intensify its struggles to defend the jobs of workers in the textile and clothing sector. On this score it is important that we deepen the struggles against the neo-liberal restructuring of the workplace - against casualisation, outsourcing and labour brokerage.

An important dimension of the struggle to protect workers is that of strengthening trade union service to members and workers generally in various workplaces in which SACTWU is organised.

An important dimension of the struggle to protect workers is that of rebuilding the many industrial unions of COSATU that are currently severely weakened or threatened by corporate capture and business unionism. Two important dimensions of rebuilding industrial unions must be, first, deepening and embarking on inter-sectoral solidarity activities, especially along unions organised in the same value-chain; and, second, to rebuild union-community solidarity activity. It is in the case of the latter struggles that the SACP can be of enormous assistance in using its community based structures to support important trade union and workplace struggles.

Growing jobs

The SACP is inviting SACTWU and the whole of COSATU to join in launching a broad based campaign on the right to work. This would be a very important campaign to challenge neo-liberal, and anti-work, restructuring of the contemporary workplace.

We further and once more invite SACTWU to join the SACP-led financial sector campaign so that we together struggle for resources in the financial sector to be largely invested in the productive sectors of our economy.

Both the SACP and Cosatu need to intensify the struggle for continued government investment into infrastructure, supporting the work done by Cde Ebrahim Patel and the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC).

Perhaps a small, but very symbolic gesture would be that of the SACP merchandise to be exclusively manufactured and produced by Zenzeleni of SACTWU. This would send a strong message for local production and local content, and intensification of relations between our two formations!

Building Unity and the motive forces of the national democratic revolution

Perhaps this is the most important task facing our movement and alliance. The principal challenge here is that of uniting principally the left axis of our Alliance, the SACP and COSATU. We need to realise that there are frantic factionalist attempts from inside our own movement to try and drive a wedge in order to divide the SACP from COSATU. The aim of this agenda is to draw Cosatu closer to a dominant faction in the ANC in order to isolate the SACP. But the second step in this strategy is that after the isolation and hopefully defeat of the SACP then the parasitic bourgeoisie inside our movement would launch a fatal assault on the organised working class itself.

It is also important at this point to remind ourselves that there is a deep relationship between the parasitic bourgeoisie and factionalism in our movement. The parasitic bourgeoisie needs factions to capture our movement so that it can have access to the state and its resources. In turn, factions need the money of the parasitic bourgeoisie in order to fund their slate politics. And all often deeply hate the communists and the working class.

It is for the above reasons that we need to deepen relations not only between the SACP and Cosatu, but also to deepen relations between the SACP and all the affiliates of COSATU, including relations between the SACP and SACTWU. We need joint campaigns between our two formations as well as joint political schools in order to deepen our common understanding of the tasks facing the working class in the current period.

Our challenge is already that the loss by the ANC of most of the major metropolitan areas point to the growing chasm between the ANC and leading sections of the organised working class. It was in the metros that the national liberation movement, with the organised working class at its head, that the final assault was led against the apartheid regime. The fact that we are losing these metros now means that the ANC may be losing its capacity to mobilise and lead the principal motive force of the national democratic revolution. A critical question in this regard is where is the organised working class in all of this?

It is therefore very important to rebuild the militancy of COSATU and the whole of the progressive trade union movement. Building trade union unity, defeating factionalism in our movement, and trade union militancy are all important mutually reinforcing ingredients for the working class to stamp its authority in the current period, and rebuild our movement as the leading force in South African society. Let us build a fighting SACTWU and a fighting COSATU!

Good luck with your Congress!

* Dr Blade Nzimande is SACP General Secretary and Minister of Higher Education and Training. This is the final edition of Comrade Blade Nzimande`s address to the Sactwu National Congress, 22 September 2016, Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Defeat the Parasitic Bourgeoisie, the Immediate Internal Threat Facing the National Democratic Revolution; Dislodge the Choke Hold of Monopoly Capital on Our Country!
"Do not destroy our universities, transform them and defend our democratic heritage" - SACP General Secretary Comrade Blade Nzimande, also Minister of Higher Education and Training.

Moses Mabhida Memorial lecture by SACP General Secretary Comrade Blade Nzimande, Pietermaritzburg, 23 September 2016

Let me take this opportunity to thank the South African chapter and the Vice President of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), also the President of Nehawu, Comrade Mzwandile Makwayiba for holding this Memorial lecture on Comrade Moses Mabhida - uStimela, as Comrade Harry Gwala used to call him. This lecture is part of the activities preceding the truly historic event of the holding of the international congress of the WFTU in Durban, the first ever to be held on African soil. I am also truly humbled for the Honour to be invited to deliver the lecture.

There would have been no better way to celebrate the convening of the WFTU international congress in South Africa, than to remember Comrade Mabhida, who was a key participant in WFTU representing the then South African Congress of Trade Unions (Sactu). Even more significant is the holding of this lecture right here in Pietermaritzburg, where he was born and grew up, and also the only city in South Africa that has the single honour of having produced two general secretaries of the South African Communist Party, the SACP.

Dear comrades, on 8 March 1986 the SACP lost its General Secretary, Comrade Moses Mbheki Mncane Mabhida at the age of 63. He was born on 14 October 1923 at Thornville in Pietermaritzburg in a peasant household background. His political activism and world outlook was shaped by his deep resentment of his family and people at the dispossession they suffered under colonisation.

Mabhida attended school from 1932. His learning process was however interrupted by periods during which he had to work as a "herd-boy" for one shilling a week in support both of his schooling but also of life at home given the peasant background and at the time his developing proletarian or working class position and location in social relations of production.

Today our democratic government, in line with the Freedom Charter, or should we also say in line with the Communist Manifesto as the two are worded almost the same on this matter, has made a massive progress in rolling out free education with focus on learners from working class and poor households through the policies of no-fee paying schools and fee exemption for the poor in fee-paying schools. Unlike under this social progress, at the time when Mabhida attended school access to basic education was largely determined by school fees. It is this very fact that led to Mabhida leaving school after finishing what would become the ninth grade in today`s terms. But this did not happen before he met and went through the hands of "The lion of the midlands", Comrade Harry Themba Gwala, a teacher and an outstanding stalwart of our struggle.

It was Gwala who influenced Mabhida to join the African National Congress (ANC) and trade union activism. Gwala provided Mabhida with basic political education, among others covering the role played by the Soviet Union in the Second World War. Mabhida joined the SACP in 1942 when that war was still raging on.

His working class position; his experience of oppression of the majority African and Black people in general, under the yoke of White minority supremacism; his rejection of economic exploitation; his opposition to foreign and imperialist domination, furnished the material basis for his active involvement in workers and political struggles. Mabhida`s struggle was therefore a comprehensive struggle to overthrow the entire regime of exploitation, oppression and domination, including patriarchy. It is this that saw him deepen his activism and organically rise through the ranks of the progressive trade union movement, the ANC and the Communist Party.

Mabhida served as SACP General Secretary from 1979, after replacing Comrade Moses Maune Kotane who died a year before in 1978. Kotane, rightly described as the "Chief architect of the South African struggle", served in the same position for 39 years, from 1939 during the most severe, deepest and longest crisis of capitalism - the Great Depression, throughout the so-called Second World War, until his death in 1978. He had a lot of experience and contributed immensely in the development of the SACP.

Kotane played a major role in ensuring that Marxism-Leninism in South Africa was anchored in our country`s historical conditions. In the main, this involved the grounding, or if you like the indigenisation or Africanisation of Marxism-Leninism, as well as its correct application in our concrete realities. His famous Cradock letter sums it all. Kotane`s work in building our revolutionary alliance and the progressive trade union movement; his outstanding leadership in the SACP and the ANC; his international work against colonial and apartheid oppression; his internationalism against the entire system of imperialism, laid a solid foundation, in the context of collective leadership, for the work that Mabhida was to take forward as SACP General Secretary until his death.

In his own right as an activist, leader and product of our struggle for liberation and social emancipation, Mabhida had accumulated massive leadership, military and strategic experience. He had been involved in building progressive trade unionism in South Africa, in international trade union work with the WFTU as a representative of Sactu - the legal predecessor to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).

Mabhida`s full-time work in building the progressive trade union movement as part of the overall strategy of the SACP started after the 1952 Defiance Campaign - in which 8 000 people were arrested for protesting against apartheid laws. It was the SACP Pietermaritzburg District Committee that proposed to Mabhida to resign from his job and work full-time in building the movement. He started with the Howick rubber and chemical workers` unions here in Pietermaritzburg, in Durban and in a number of other areas in what would today become the KwaZulu-Natal Province. Mabhida`s trade union work saw him actively involved in the founding of Sactu.

Mabhida was involved in building the joint ANC-SACP military wing, uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK). After undergoing his military training, he devoted himself at building the MK. Both of this came as result of a request by ANC President, Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo in 1962, following the ANC`s Lobatse Consultative Conference held in Botswana in 1962. Mabhida was re-elected at this conference to the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC). He became a member of the ANC NEC around 1956. In 1958-1959 he was acting Chairperson of the ANC in Natal. Mabhida served the ANC and the alliance in many responsibilities. To dwell extensively on those responsibilities will be to write a book. Unfortunately we are facing limitations of both time and space at this single event.

However, there are certain facts we cannot leave out, even if it means repeating what is already known about him. Mabhida was involved in the processes that led to the adoption of the Freedom Charter in 1955 by the Congress of the People. After the ANC Morogoro Consultative Conference held in Tanzania in 1969, he played a vital role in the establishment of the ANC`s intelligence and security department. Ten years later, in 1979 , he served on the Politico-Military Strategy Commission that developed the Green Book, one of the high level ideological, political, strategy and tactics documents to have been produced in our national liberation movement. The Green Book is highly recommended for our cadres as it deepens one`s understanding of the shared perspectives of our alliance and our theory and practice of struggle.

A strict Marxist-Leninist cadre, Mabhida served the MK as a Commissar, among others, training new recruits politically and ideologically. He served the MK also as a Commander. It is very important that we also say this today. Comrade Moses Mabhida never deserted his course of duty at any particular moment. Neither did he ever seek individualist solutions to collective challenges.

Let us therefore take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to all those MK combatants who took their cue from Mabhida, who were always there whenever the revolution required their services.

If one follows in the footsteps of the good revolutionary example established by the resilience and unifying leadership of Kotane, Tambo and Mabhida, one will never put their individual interests to the front or engage in any divisive and factional activities. The common attributes of these great leaders of our struggle and movement, is that they built and united our revolutionary alliance. We have many lessons of revolutionary moral high ground to learn from them.

In fact as we remember uStimela, we must commit to fight against factionalism - a disease that is threatening to destroy our movement. It is also a disease that has contributed immensely to the relatively poor performance in our last local government elections. It is a disease that is threatening to tear our movement apart here in KZN and other parts of the country. It is a disease which, if not defeated, will consume all of us and take our country back into the pre-1994 period.

Let us take our cue from Moses Mabhida; let us roll back the chokehold of monopoly capital on our revolution!

Monopoly capital remains the universal strategic adversary of the working class and of our revolution. World peace and justice, shared human prosperity and universal social emancipation, are all held back by monopoly capital through capitalist exploitation of labour in general, through neoliberal globalisation and, at the end of the day, through its overarching regime of imperialism. The system is the common denominator in almost every major conflict within and between different countries the world over. It is this system that caused the 2008 global economic crisis that is yet to end - considered comprehensively.

The massive attack on the co-operation between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) cannot be understood in isolation from a thorough assessment of the role played by monopoly capital through its system of imperialism. Efforts to destabilise Brics countries heightened aggressively after they announced the implementation of the New Development Bank, also known as the Brics Bank.

Imperialist machination does not mean that we do not have our own internal weaknesses. For sure there are. In fact imperialism exploits those weaknesses in order to drive its agenda including regime change. In many instances this does not happen without local collaborators, or sponsorship of certain local organisations or even offering them support by other means.

This is what happened recently in Brazil, where a parliamentary coup was staged, through the involvement, among others, of corrupted politicians and businesspeople who pushed for the coup in order to save their own skins.

At times internal weaknesses play into shifts of power to right-wing forces, such as the one we have seen in India, and recently in a number of metropolitan and rural municipalities in South Africa.

But, as we have also seen, external imperialist attacks include, in the extreme military aggression, such as the one that destroyed Libya. It includes sanctions as well, such as the ones we have seen in the case of Russia where there are internal issues.

External imperialist methods include, for example, the support given to the apartheid Israel continuously dispossessing the Palestinians of their land, also denying them fundamental human rights such as freedom of movement.

Similarly, the challenges faced by Venezuela in Latin America cannot be fully understood only from a national point of view, without scrutinising the role played by monopoly capital through its system of imperialism.

The push, in the South China Sea, for a military confrontation cannot, also, be understood without examining the role played by monopoly capital through its system of imperialism.

In Cuba, as another example, the Cubans managed to achieve national victory against the internal oppressor regime on 1 January 1959. Then imperialism reacted directly stepping forth. The United States, on behalf of its monopoly capital, externally imposed, in Cuba, various forms of oppression and destabilisation against the new Cuban government and the Cuban people, all to achieve regime change. This has been going on for over half a century now. Let us use this opportunity, today, to reiterate our call on the United States to end its illegal economic blockade of Cuba.

All of these cases of imperialist domination, and more others that we could not cover in this presentation because of the limitations of time and space, should remind us of our most important internationalist tasks that we must carry out, in memory of Moses Mabhida.

The challenge of monopoly capital and its system of imperialism show that our struggle is by its character an international struggle. The main adversary to our struggle is a global imperialist force in the form of monopoly capital. The likelihood of succeeding in tackling this massive force is, as good as non-existent, if we are internally divided, if we suffer from disunity, if we are domestically weakened by corruption, rent-seeking and corporate capture.

In fact, at its highest level, corporate capture is imperialist capture. We can only ignore imperialism at our own peril when we analyse the configuration, the line up and the balance of forces, even in respect to internal organisational and domestic affairs. We would rather investigate and confirm if it is absent than not factor it in our analysis.

This brings us to our concluding points on this strategic question.

In memory of Moses Mabhida, let us unite and dislodge the most immediate internal and domestic threat to our movement and revolution!

Without getting our house in order, without tackling factionalism and the visibly dwindling organisational cohesion in our movement, there is no way we are going to succeed. There is no way we are going to succeed - without dealing a decisive blow to the parasitic bourgeoisie, the most dangerous class to the unity of our movement but also to our revolution internally. Without finishing off corruption and rent-seeking - we are not going to succeed in waging any noticeable battle against monopoly capital.

The looters, who are building an empire of oligarchies by means of looting our state-owned enterprises through contracts and tenders, are going to destroy the strategic capacity to face off with monopoly capital. Their argument, that what they are doing is against monopoly capital, must be dismissed with contempt. We must go for them too in the interest of the success of our national democratic revolution.

There will be no second radical phase of our democratic transition should the corporate capturers and the parasitic bourgeoisie win the day, and should their networks of patronage, captured decision-makers and agents in political organisation, in the state and generally with regards to societal power, win the day too.

Let us unite, in memory of Comrade Moses Mabhida, and rescue our revolution and our movement. No one will, if we do not do it ourselves. This is one of the reasons why the SACP urged the ANC to ensure a smooth leadership transition, to unite the motive forces of the national democratic revolution; to unite the ANC-led alliance and its component parts; to unite the various democratic mass organisations that support ANC and the ANC`s electoral base at large, all on a principled programmatic basis.

It is for that reason that we urged the ANC leadership, as part and parcel, and therefore as a culmination of the consultative process that the ANC NEC is already engaging in, to consider convening a non-elective special national conference with the stated purpose of achieving the objective of seeking to unite itself and the rest of our democratic movement. This must turn the tide against the trend in the ANC`s electoral decline and waning hard-won democratic hegemony. It is important to appreciate, in this regard, that what happens in, and to the ANC has an impact on the whole of the ANC-led alliance and democratic forces; and indeed on our country as a whole.

Transform and not destroy our universities, preserve our democratic heritage!

It would be negligent for me to conclude this lecture without briefly saying something about some of the chaos in our universities. In honour and memory of Comrade Mabhida, let all sensible South Africans condemn the thuggery that we see in some of our institutions. Those throwing stones and burning libraries are nothing more than criminals. Let the rest of the students also take a firm stand and say: "no, not in our name!"

We also welcome the stance being taken by our magistrates to lock up suspected thugs for seven days, until they appear in court. If you are arrested, incarcerated and convicted for destroying university property - you are not a hero, but a reactionary and counter-revolutionary.

I am also deeply concerned about the continuing disruptions at the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal or the UKZN. I urge both management and student leadership to find an urgent solution to this impasse.

To the students, in particular, I say, whilst you have a right to protest, but this right must not be abused and misused to risk the academic programme and academic year. Please, go back to class while you concentrate your efforts on negotiations with management. Otherwise destructive and violent protests, as well as the violation of the rights of other students, run the risk of completely discrediting whatever legitimate demands you may have.

I also wish to urge parents to stand up and help us deal with the current situation. Surely, it cannot be that parents simply send their children to public higher learning institutions and then fold their arms when academic careers and potential future of those students are exposed to threat.

Let me also clarify the important intervention I announced on behalf of government earlier this week.

For the 2017 academic year, government has gone further than it has ever done:

Accordingly, the state will absorb the fee increase of up to 8 percent for all students eligible for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), over and above, paying all the fees for them. Moreover, the state will pay for fee increases of all the students who come from families with household income of up to R50 000! This would cover more than 70 percent of undergraduate students in our universities! It will also cover students in similar categories in our 50 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. In fact, in some of our universities like Zululand, Walter Sisulu and Limpopo, more than 90 percent of students will not pay any increase. This is going to benefit the children of nurses, teachers, police and many skilled workers who do not qualify for the NSFAS.

In addition, the government is far advanced in exploring and designing a loan system that will assist the "missing middle", so that the children of the working class and the lower strata of the middle class who do not qualify for the NSFAS can get financial assistance and only pay them back once they are working.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Higher Education and Training Commission is hard at work exploring a lasting solution to the issue of student fees. We urge all students and stakeholders to participate and make submissions to the Commission.

Given the aforementioned progress, principles and work, I am of the view that there is absolutely no need for any, in particular, disruptive student protests. It could otherwise be concluded that some of the small student groupings that persistently seek to achieve disruption and destruction of learning progress, are now acting like hired agents of the bourgeoisie who want the state to pay for the rich.

Our democratic government`s commitment is free higher education for the poor, with reasonable measures to assist the "missing middle" while those who can afford to pay - the rich and the well-off - must pay. The call for free higher education for all is not inherently a revolutionary call - it could as well be a reactionary stance that is inconsiderate of the objective conditions, in particular, to social relations of class inequality that we are yet to and must eliminate. What must happen after we have radically reduced or eradicated class inequality, must not be confused for what must happen towards successfully realising the goal.

In memory of Comrade Moses Mabhida, let us celebrate our democratic achievements brought about by the ANC-led government. Let us defend and build upon them as part of consolidating and deepening our national democratic revolution and advancing its second radical phase!

I thank you!
SACP and Cosatu Bilateral Strategy Session Statement
22 September 2016

The leadership of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) met in a two day bilateral strategy on Tuesday to Wednesday 20-21 September 2016 in Johannesburg.

The two working class formations of the tripartite alliance exchanged analyses on the political situation in South Africa, the conditions facing the working class. The bilateral meeting shared perspectives on the need to unite the widest range of progressive forces and work together to develop a united and coherent response to the current political challenges facing the national democratic revolution.

These two organisations have therefore agreed to strengthen constant engagements on the state of the national democratic revolution, including assessing its challenges, opportunities and threats on an ongoing basis in order to develop common perspectives on the way forward and joint programmes as well as joint campaigns.

The balance of forces both within South Africa and internationally have seen massive attempts at subverting the interests of both the workers and the working class at large under capitalism's rapaciousness. This system holds sway over virtually the entire globe and its brutality and barbarism is intensified by the fact that it has been mired and bogged down in a systemic crisis since 2008 with no end in sight. The crisis has affected the workers and working class the most.

There was consensus from both COSATU and the SACP that we need to consciously implement decisions from our own bilateral engagements and particularly intensify our part of class struggle. We agreed that the two formations should jealously guard their unity. The SACP and COSATU cannot afford to be found wanting when other class forces are shaping the future of our country.

Both the SACP and COSATU accepted the epic responsibility of building democratic working class power in all key sites of struggle and significant centres of power!

Our immediate tasks include strengthening our organisations, salvaging the African National Congress (ANC), our strategic ally, uniting the ANC-led alliance and ensure that it rigorously defines the basic content and strategic tasks of the second radical phase of our democratic transition.

The SACP and COSATU will work together to ensure a review of the National Development Plan (NDP) in line with the ANC-led alliance's 1st September 2013 national summit declaration. The summit agreed that both the SACP and COSATU expressed a valid critique of the NDP and that it must accordingly be reviewed. The alliance must walk the talk, match words with deeds. That is our joint message from our bilateral strategy session as we move forward to push to progressive policy changes in the best interests of the workers and the working class. We will not allow other class forces to subvert the aspiration of the working. We will push very hard to achieve a paradigm shift

The socialist axis of the tripartite alliance as represented by the SACP and Cosatu will convene a series of strategic discussions with the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) with the objective of assisting in building the youth movement based on principled programmatic relations.

COSATU and the SACP agreed to work together to strengthen trade union organisation and political work of COSATU industrial unions. This immediate task includes uniting COSATU industrial unions, rebuild democratic worker control, quality service to members, shop steward training and political education.

COSATU will continue to encourage members and leaders of its affiliates to join and be actively involved in the SACP and uphold the party's ideological, political and organisational discipline, as well as engage in collective and self-cultivation to become vanguard cadres.

A team led by the Deputy General Secretaries of COSATU and the SACP will develop a joint recruitment campaign that will include servicing COSATU affiliates' members and workplace visits. This campaign will include the revival of the Chris Hani Brigade, joint political schools between COSATU Central Executive Committee and the SACP Central Committee, and rigorous re-invigoration socialist forums.

COSATU and the SACP will work together to mobilise for the International Day of Decent Work to take place on the 7 October 2016. On this day, we will rollout political in various centres of working class organisation across the country and demand a living wage, accelerated implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI), integrated and reliable public transport system and a comprehensive social security, among others.

COSATU and the SACP are fully committed to fighting corruption and corporate capture both in the trade union movement, political organisation and the state including Sate Owned Enterprises.

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)
Communications Unit
Congress of South African Trade Unions
COSATU HOUSE | 110 Cnr Jorissen & Simmonds Str | Braamfontein | 2017
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 / Direct: 010 219 1339 |+27 60 975 6794 | E-mail: sizwe@cosatu.org.za
Joint SACP and Cosatu Statement on No Fee Increment in Public Colleges and Universities for 2017 and Violence in Our Institutions of Learning
21 September 2016, Johannesburg

The South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) have been meeting since Tuesday, 20 September in a bilateral strategic session to assess the challenges and opportunities and analyse the threats facing the national democratic revolution. The objective of this meeting of the socialist axis of the tripartite alliance is to develop shared perspectives on the way forward, including immediate tasks. The meeting is still in session, and is scheduled to conclude this afternoon. Once this has happened, the SACP and Cosatu will jointly and comprehensively communicate all the key outcomes of the meeting.

Both organisations could however not remain behind closed doors, while a situation that needs urgent attention was developing a few metres away, at the University of the Witwatersrand with a potential to cause serious problems not only at Wits but in other institutions of learning. The bilateral meeting therefore decided to convene this press conference, as a matter of urgency, to communicate our organisations' positions in no uncertain terms with regards to the issue of no fee increase for 2017, the need to accelerate our country's progressive rollout of free post-school education, and address the violent forms of mobilisation violating the constitutional rights of other students.

The SACP and Cosatu are fully in support of the students' struggle, which is in fact a working class struggle, for the realisation of accelerated progressive rollout of free post-school education for students from working class and poor households, including the lower strata of the middle class, who cannot afford to pay. The SACP and Cosatu both believe that the announcement made by the Department of Higher Education and Training on Monday, 19 September, that all students in public colleges and universities qualifying for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), as well as students falling in the category of the so-called missing middle will all experience a no fee increase in 2017 is progressive.

The government's intervention represents a milestone while the Higher Education and Training Commission, also known as the Fees Commission established by the President conducts its work. The Commission must develop measures to accelerate progressive rollout of free education for those who cannot afford. This is firmly in line with the Freedom Charter, the country's constitution and the Polokwane resolution of the African National Congress (ANC) on this matter.

Education is and must be seen to be a societal priority. The private sector is disproportionately benefiting from our education and training and is the sole consumer, on a private basis, of the wealth produced by our workforce - minus the cost of production, yet its contribution is almost invisible.

The SACP and Cosatu are urging students to redirect their mobilisation to the door steps of capital - which is where the problem emanates, rather than fight against the government that is trying its level best to expand access to post-school education as evidenced by the massive progress our country has achieved since 1994 and more so after 2009.

Both of our organisations are pledging their joint support to this mobilisation directed at the exploiters of our education, training and labour power. In this regard, the SACP and Cosatu will fight side by side with students. We have been consulting with students on a national day of action. Cosatu and the SACP have confidence that the leadership of the South African Union of Students (SAUS), a body representing universities' Student Representative Councils or SRCs, has adopted progressive positions on this matter. On 14 October, we will support and march together with students to the Chamber of Mines and other centres of private capital to call on them to make a meaningful contribution from the wealth produced by workers but appropriated by the greedy bosses.

The SACP and Cosatu are calling for a decisively progressive or graduated tax on the rich and the wealthy to finance education as an apex priority. We are calling on the state to move forward and introduce this direly needed tax reform. For the SACP and Cosatu, the pursuit of radical to fundamental economic transformation as the focal point of our alliance's shared perspective, of the need to place our democratic transition on to a second radical phase remains central in our national project of overarching social transformation.

Cosatu and the SACP are calling on students who want to exercise their right to protest as enshrined in our country's constitution to do so peacefully, observe the rule law and respect the rights of other students.

The SACP and Cosatu condemn in the strongest terms possible, the violent conduct by a few disruptors who found their way among students at Wits University. We are not only concerned about public property but the human rights of other students who are being forced to abandon their studies. South Africa is a country governed by the rule of law. No person has a right to advance their demands by means of violating the rights of others as enshrined in our country's constitution. A legitimate state that seeks to preserve its democratic integrity has the responsibility, and will undoubtedly exercise its functions and strategic discipline, to protect the rights of all its citizens, including students.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Street

P.O.Box 1019
South Africa

Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Mobile: 060 975 6794
E-Mail: sizwe@cosatu.org.za
South Africa: Fees Won't Go Up for Some, So Why the Protests?
Many people think Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande's announcement on 2017 university fees on Monday was a good compromise and are confused by the countrywide student protests.

Poor students and those from families with an income of less than R600 000 a year won't pay higher tuition fees. Students from better-off families will pay an increase, to be capped at 8%.

So why are there still protests?

Student Athabile Nonxuba spoke to News24 on the sidelines of a protest march last week and sums up some of the main issues:

- These protests are a national call to institutions of higher learning, public institutions, the government and the state, for a free, decolonised, black-centred education;

- A campaign called #bringbackourcadres is in support of students countrywide who have either been interdicted, suspended or expelled for their alleged violent behaviour during the protests. It takes months to have these overturned. These students cannot use any facilities such as the library, cannot do any assignments, and thus cannot graduate;

- They reject Nzimande's 0% increment for two categories of students. Education should be free and decolonised, starting from Grade 0 and all the way through tertiary level;

- It is not about who has money, and who does not have money. It is about not making education a commodity with a price tag;

- If government is serious about the fees problem, it would decrease fees every year until education is completely free;

- The workers' struggle is part of the students' struggle. Students want outsourcing to stop, and a minimum salary of R12 500 a month for workers;

- UCT wants a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to discuss problems at the institution;

- The fees commission is only focusing on money, not the broader issues:

"If anything is barbaric about what is happening today, it is being told education is not a right," Nonxuba said.

- Students are worried that there is not sufficient protection against rape and gender discrimination on campuses;

- Institutes of higher learning should not have to pay for land, rent, or rates;

"Why are they paying rates, rent, for land that belongs to the people, and the institutions on them are meant to serve people? If you don't have money, why are you still paying for land?"

- Some students don't agree with a march by UCT's academic staff to Parliament on Thursday.

"But even they are agreeing that there is a problem with government," Nonxuba said of the protest.

- The #Feesmustfall movement does not advocate for 1.5% of GDP to be spent on education, as academics had suggested. It must be decommodified;

- Everyone should get equal treatment on campus, but this is not the case. Disabled students are not adequately catered for.

Source: News24
South Africa: All Eyes On Wits Following a Worker's Death During #FeesMustFall Protest
By Aaisha Dadi Patel
Daily Maverick

Fasiha Hassan, spokesperson for the SRC at Wits University, says students are deeply saddened by the death of a worker during the ongoing protests against the cost of tuition at the university. On Monday afternoon it emerged that a worker contracted to Wits at the Jubilee Hall of Residence passed away last week, after students released a fire extinguisher in the building.

In a statement, Wits management said the cause of death is still to be determined.

"The worker was rushed to the Campus Health and Wellness Centre and then taken to hospital where the worker was treated for a few days. The worker was discharged from hospital and then passed away," the university's spokesperson Shirona Patel said.

Students protesting across Wits campuses on Monday received news of the death during a march.

"When we received the information we turned the protesting down and had a moment of silence and we committed to meeting with the families and providing whatever support we can," Hassan said.

Asked whether the death of the worker would influence a change in tactics of the student movement at the university, Hassan said students were already reviewing the efficacy of their strategies.

"There's a lot of rethinking already happening. We've spoken about researching the model, redirecting energies in different directions other than what we've been doing now so I think that discussion has already happened," she said.
South Africa: Nzimande Calls for Probe Into Death of Wits Employee
Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has called for an investigation following the death of a University of the Witwatersrand cleaner during the ongoing student protests.

The employee died on Tuesday from an asthma attack after students released a fire extinguisher in Jubilee Hall, the university confirmed on Monday.

Nzimande expressed shock that the university had failed to report the incident immediately.

"It is clear from the report that this particular death occurred as a result of the actions of protesting students who are reported to have released a fire extinguisher that affected this employee who later died. The university should have reported this matter immediately so that a proper investigation can take place."

The university had been asked to conduct a formal investigation and submit a report on what exactly happened, he said.

They should also explain why it took the university so long to report the matter, the education ministry said.

The ministry called for the death to be investigated by the police.

"This incident, therefore, painful as it is, is proof that there are people who are hell bent on holding our universities to ransom and have no regard for the vast majority of law abiding members of the university community who do not want to participate in protests," the department said in the statement.

"This death is what I have been cautioning against, and deeply concerned about. It is further proof that there is a small minority determined to undermine the wishes of the majority and that they have gone to the extent of using violence to intimidate other non-protesting students," Nzimande said.

He said he was of the view that these "elements" had demonstrated no regard for the sanctity of human life when protests became violent.

"Ours is to work tirelessly to prevent any further loss of life as a result of these violent protests. We call on all protesters to restrain themselves from any activity which can lead to further loss of life," he said.

Source: News24
Wits University Cleaner Dies During Protests
2016-09-26 19:15
Lizeka Tandwa, News24

Johannesburg - A cleaner at Wits University died on Tuesday following an asthma attack when students released a fire extinguisher in Jubilee Hall, the institution's spokesperson Shirona Patel confirmed.

"The university has received a report that an employee of one of our service providers who worked in a [campus] residence passed away last week," Patel said in a statement.

"The worker was rushed to the campus health and wellness centre and then taken to hospital where the worker was treated for a few days."

The worker was discharged from hospital and then passed away, Patel said.

The cause of death is still to be determined.

"The university is awaiting a report from the service provider before commenting further. Our deepest sympathies are extended to the family, friends and colleagues of the worker."

Wits University students started protesting over free education last week following Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande's pronouncement that universities could decide on fee increments for 2017 as long as they were capped at 8%.

Several students were arrested after clashing with police. Students threw stones at police during the protest. Students also marched to Cosatu House to urge the federation to mobilise workers to join their protests.

Wits University has requested the help of the IEC in conducting a poll which will gauge how many students and staff want its academic programme to resume. Students are demanding free education for all from 2017. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Violent Protests in South Africa Universities Continue
Pretoria, Sep 26 (Prensa Latina) Violent student protests in South African universities continue today, amid calls to restore order and end the destruction of facilities.

On Monday morning a residence on the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) was burnt by groups of students, according to a report of the ANN7 channel.

At the Witwatersrand University (Wits) in Johannesburg, which has been the focus of demonstrations, classes remain suspended until further notice.

The same in the Metropolitan Nelson Mandela in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape province, where their spokesperson Zandile Mbabela said that they are not sure when normal academic activities would be resumed.

The demonstrations, which revived the campaign #FeesMustFall, erupted after the Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande,announcement on 2017 university fees.

Students showed their dissatisfaction with the government's decision to increase university tuition fees to the maximum of 8.0 percent for the coming year, although young people from poor families will remain exempt.

The main demand of the students is free and quality education for all.

During an interview with the SABC channel Monday, the rector of the Wits, Professor Adam Habib stated that free education is not a matter that is in the hands of the institution.

Habib said that the government is the one that can take that kind of decision, but it is a process that does not happen overnight.

This year, besides the occurrences at universities, about 30 schools in Vuwani were burnt, in Limpopo province, in the north of the country.
Wells Fargo Workers Claim Retaliation for Playing by the Rules
New York Times
SEPT. 26, 2016

Dennis Russell said he was fired from Wells Fargo because he resisted the pressure to create unauthorized customer accounts to meet sales goals.

At least 5,300 Wells Fargo employees have been fired for ethics violations like setting up illicit accounts without customers’ knowledge to meet sales targets. Now there’s another group of aggrieved Wells Fargo workers: people who say they were fired or demoted for staying honest and falling short of sales goals they say were unrealistic.

That second group of workers, who claim that they played by the rules and were punished for it, are starting to coalesce around two lawsuits that were just filed and that seek class-action status. The first was filed in Los Angeles last week by former Wells Fargo workers who say that while their colleagues created unauthorized accounts to meet cross-selling quotas, they were penalized or terminated for refusing to do the same. The bank’s chief executive, John Stumpf, has often stated his goal that each Wells customer should have at least eight accounts with the company. That aggressive target has made the bank’s stock a darling on Wall Street, the lawsuit notes.

On Monday, a federal lawsuit with analogous claims was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, seeking to create a class of current and former Wells employees across the country who had similar experiences.

“These are the people who have been left holding the bag,” said Jonathan Delshad, the lawyer representing the workers in both suits. “It was a revolving door. If you weren’t willing to engage in these types of illegal practices, they just booted you out the door and replaced you.”

In a statement on Monday, Wells Fargo said: “We disagree with the allegations in the complaint and will vigorously defend against the misrepresentations it contains about Wells Fargo and all of the Wells Fargo team members whose careers have been built on doing the right thing by our customers every day.”

One former employee planning to join the lawsuit is Dennis Russell, 62, who said he was fired in 2010 after a five-year career as a telephone banker at Wells Fargo’s call center in Orange County, Calif. Mr. Russell handled incoming customer service calls and was expected to refer 23 percent of his callers to a sales representative for additional product sales, he said.

But the customers Mr. Russell spoke with were usually in dire financial shape, he said in a telephone interview on Monday. Looking at their accounts, he could see mortgages in foreclosure, credit cards in collections and cars being repossessed for overdue loan payments.

“The people calling didn’t have assets to speak of,” Mr. Russell said. “What products could you possibly offer them in a legitimate way?”

The two fresh lawsuits echo many of the allegations in a 2015 lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles city attorney’s office. Wells Fargo settled the case this month, agreeing to pay $185 million in fines, including a $100 million penalty levied by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal watchdog agency that conducted its own investigation.

But some Wells Fargo employees tried, years earlier, to sound the alarm — with personally disastrous results.

Yesenia Guitron, a former banker, sued Wells Fargo in 2010 — three years earlier than the bank has admitted it knew about the sham accounts. Ms. Guitron became alarmed when, two months into her job at Wells Fargo, she noticed that a fellow banker at the company’s St. Helena, Calif., branch was opening and closing customers’ accounts without their permission.

Intense sales pressure and unrealistic quotas drove employees to falsify documents and game the system to meet their sales goals, she wrote in her legal filing.

Ms. Guitron said she did everything the company had taught employees to do to report such misconduct internally. She told her manager about her concerns. She called Wells Fargo’s ethics hotline. When those steps yielded no results, she went up the chain, contacting a human resources representative and the bank’s regional manager.

Wells Fargo’s response? After months of what Ms. Guitron described as retaliatory harassment, she was called into a meeting and told she was being fired for insubordination.

In 2012, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California sided with Wells Fargo and ruled that even if its sales targets were unreasonable, the bank had the right to use them as an employment yardstick. Ms. Guitron appealed the decision and lost again — leaving her with a bill for more than $18,000 in court costs.

“She put her neck on the line” and they punished her, said Yosef Peretz, the lawyer who represented Ms. Guitron. “She’s a single mom with two kids, barely making it, and her reputation was poisoned. No one would hire her.”

Ms. Guitron left the banking industry and now works in property management, he said.

Christopher Johnson, 38, a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed on Monday, said he hesitated to get involved in the legal case because it brought back memories of “a very dark time in my life.” He was fired in 2008 after working for Wells Fargo for five months.

In trainings, the company repeatedly emphasized the importance of its ethics code and urged employees to call its confidential hotline if they observed anything inappropriate, Mr. Johnson said. But just two weeks after he started working as a business banker in a Wells Fargo branch in Malibu, Calif., his manager began pressuring him to open accounts for his friends and family — with or without their knowledge. When he refused, he was criticized for not being a team player.

Mr. Johnson soon learned that his colleagues routinely opened unauthorized accounts for customers who they thought wouldn’t notice, like elderly clients or those who didn’t speak English well. Disturbed by this practice, he did as he was instructed during training and called the company’s ethics hotline.

Three days later, he was fired for “not meeting expectations,” he said. Broke, Mr. Johnson was evicted from his house and spent the next seven months living out of his truck. He put all of his possessions in a storage unit, then lost them to auction when he was unable to pay the storage bill.

Mr. Johnson, who now works as a writer, said he had stepped forward at his mother’s urging: “She was like, ‘Your story needs to be told. You got fired because you tried to do the right thing.’”

Mr. Russell also lost his home after he lost his Wells Fargo job. Unable to find a new position in the industry, he now works part time for a church in Costa Mesa, Calif., helping with its outreach programs for the homeless.

Last week, he watched — in disbelief, he says — as Mr. Stumpf was grilled by the Senate Banking Committee and insisted that Wells Fargo never wanted its employees to do anything unethical to meet their sales goals.

“It’s a crock,” Mr. Russell said. “They established the culture that made this happen — it comes down from the top.”

During the hearing, Mr. Russell said, “I was sitting there in a rage. The people who had a conscience, the employees who refused to go along, they deserve vindication.”

Workers’ efforts to band together to litigate cases against employers are often derailed by mandatory arbitration clauses that require them to address disputes privately and individually. Wells Fargo has such a clause in some of its employment agreements, but it was added only recently, in December 2015, according to Mark Folk, a spokesman for the bank.

Mr. Delshad, the lawyer pursuing the workers’ cases, said he thought the covered class could grow to “tens of thousands of people” nationwide.

“We’ve had former workers, and some current ones, calling our office all weekend,” he said. “We have a whole bunch of new plaintiffs to be added to the suit. It’s just unbelievable, the amount and scope of this fraud.”

Although Wells Fargo settled the civil cases with Los Angeles and its federal regulators, more fallout could be coming. Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, strongly hinted that the agency had referred the case on to other federal bureaus for criminal investigation, and multiple federal prosecutors have sent subpoenas to Wells Fargo seeking information on the misconduct.

On Thursday, the House Financial Services Committee will hold its own hearing on the scandal. Mr. Stumpf, who has been invited to speak, plans to appear, Wells Fargo said.

Susan Beachy contributed research.