Friday, October 31, 2008

SACP General Secretary Nzimande on Defending the Unity of the ANC and the Alliance

Defend and advance a radical national democratic revolution: Defend the unity of the ANC, defend the unity of the Alliance

Speech to the NUMSA 8th National Congress by Cde Blade Nzimande, SACP General Secretary

14 October 2008


The SACP wishes to express its appreciation for the invitation to come and address this august body, the 8th National Congress of this giant affiliate of COSATU.

Your Congress is taking place at very crucial domestic and international conjunctures which though may seem distinct but are deeply interrelated developments: the global crisis of finance capital and the splinter group from the African National Congress. I say these are related because we are part of a global capitalist system, whose impact on our shores go beyond just the economic realm, but has had disproportionate influence on our politics as well.

The current global capitalist financial crisis

Although there were some systemic dips, generally in the post-1994 period the global capitalist economy appeared to be going through a relatively sustained expansion. This was certainly the orthodox belief here in South Africa and our fixation became how to link up, catch-up and generally benefit from what was supposedly a guaranteed path to growth and all things good.

Needless to say, the SACP constantly warned against this illusion – but after 1994 the government pursued policies of rapid opening up and liberalisation through drastic tariff reductions (far ahead of what was even required by the GATT agreements) and the dropping of exchange controls. Impressing foreign investors became more important than developing a national industrial policy, or addressing our skills challenges.

We warned against these neo-liberal measures, but we were scoffed at by many in government, not to mention the financial commentators. However, by 2007 even the always-cautious Bank for International Settlements, the club of rich country central bankers, said in its Annual Report that the world was "vulnerable to another 1930s slump".

That warning now no longer looks alarmist as the wave of bankruptcies and forced mergers of banks, mortgage providers and insurance companies mainly in the US and the UK rolls on. Over the last weeks, the US Federal Reserve has effectively nationalised the mortgage lenders Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac.

It has lent $85-billion to insurance and financial services firm American International Group (AIG) to help it avoid bankruptcy. Earlier in the year, it doled out $30billion to help JP Morgan acquire Bear Stearns and avoid bankruptcy. The sum total of these bail-outs is some three to four times larger than South Africa's annual GDP – which gives an indication of the sheer size of the crisis.

Many commentators have remarked on the irony that Bush's right-wing administration has spearheaded the most comprehensive "socialist" programme of our era. The Business Times of last week had a headline reading "Welcome to the United Socialist States of America". While the irony of the reversal of long-held neo-liberal dogmas from within Washington itself should be appreciated – it should also be emphasised that what we are seeing is not socialism. It is the socialisation of DEBT – the middle and working classes of the US, and the rest of the world, are being forced to pay for the super profits and the profligate recklessness of the corporate rich. As Marx noted nearly a century and a half ago – this is the iron law of capitalism. Profits are privatised, debt is nationalised.

Should we be celebrating that there is a global capitalist crisis? Yes, but no when this is not accompanied by sustained working class offensive against the system itself. We can only celebrate if progressive forces world-wide are able to seize the moment to force through a major change in the direction of global accumulation. Without such a change, the crisis will impact mainly upon workers and the poor, and especially those in the South.

In South Africa we will certainly be affected negatively. Global recession will impact upon our export earnings. Our current account (the difference between what we earn from exports and what we spend on imports) is already in a fragile situation. The dip in oil prices is unlikely to be sustained and we are very vulnerable, due to our distance from major markets, to transport costs.

As a country, until very recently, we were a net food exporter. In the recent period, thanks to GEAR-related policies and agricultural liberalisation, we have become a net food importer. Key sectors of our industrial economy have all but been wiped out as a result of tariff cuts without a clear industrial policy in place.

We are, of course, being told that, thanks to "the sound macro-economic policies" associated with GEAR, South Africa is not as vulnerable as it might be. Unfortunately, almost the reverse is true. Yes, we concede, that to the extent that there has been a degree of fiscal discipline, our vulnerabilities are less than they might have been.

But our argument as the SACP has never been with fiscal discipline as such. We have always argued that we need to be extremely disciplined with public resources, ensuring that we use them for sustainable transformation.

It is for this reason that we have argued against the corporate capture of our state, and against the costly white-elephant mega-projects like Gautrain, Coega, the arms procurement package, the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, and the Dube Tradeport. Billions of rand have been spent on these costly projects whose viability and sustainability are highly dubious. Some (including some within the ranks of the ANC) have got very rich on these projects. But where is the much trumpeted fiscal discipline in all of this?

We are constantly being warned that whatever the changes in personnel in the cabinet the one iron law that cannot be broken is the imperative of no change in economic policy. This argument is an argument living in a fool's paradise, and even many of the neo-liberal high-priests secretly admit this.

What is to be done? If we remain stuck on our current trajectory there is a very serious danger that we will be forced to go to the IMF. This must be avoided at all cost. Once trapped in the IMF we will lose sovereign control over our economic policies and our new democracy will be become redundant.

We need to look once more at:

Serious exchange control measures to lessen our vulnerability to what will continue to be major financial instability. We need real economy investment and not hot money that flows in and out at a whim;

Import controls – even when our economy grows we tend to suck in more imports than we export. We import capital goods, luxury goods and many manufactured goods – these are items either that the majority of South Africans do not need, or that we should be producing ourselves.

Comprehensive, accelerated, state-led industrial policy measures that also address job creation and retention, skills development, and agrarian transformation that prioritises national and household food security.

Addressing our energy crisis through proper pricing to ensure that the major corporate energy guzzlers (like the capital intensive aluminium smelters with paltry job creation spin-offs) pay, instead of being given long-term special deals way below what ordinary South Africans pay for their electricity.

We also need to renationalise SASOL. As an interim measure, in this regard, we must impose a windfall tax on SASOL. The windfall tax should be ring-fenced and earmarked for energy-related interventions to safeguard, as much as possible, our national energy sovereignty, including the rolling-out of sustainable, renewable energy and investment in public transport.

The progressive trade union movement, especially a union like NUMSA has a very important role to play in these struggles, and this fundamentally relates to the next question we wish to address today, that of the character and role of the progressive trade union movement in the national democratic revolution.

The role of the progressive trade union movement in the national democratic revolution

It is important that when approaching this matter, we return to the basics, the Communist Manifesto,

"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word; oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes."

It is important that we remind ourselves about this reality, because there can be no ways that trade unions can divorce themselves from these broader class battles in society. Whilst the working class creates its own political party (the Communist Party) to spearhead these battles, trade unions themselves cannot narrowly limit their struggles only to those matters relating to the workplace, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, trade unions themselves in their whole history are subject to contestations by various class forces in society. These contestations have taken different forms in different historical periods. It has historically been the mission of the bourgeoisie for instance to destroy, failing which to co-opt the trade union movement. One method that the bourgeoisie has used in trying to destroy or co-opt the trade union movement is by arguing that unions must exclusively restrict themselves to workplace matters.

Here in South Africa, we have had a tendency, called 'workerism' that threatened to engulf our trade union movement in the 1970s into the 1980s. This tendency sought to insulate the trade union movement, if not actually isolate it, from the struggle for national liberation. This tendency was defeated with the formation of COSATU, and had it been allowed to succeed we possibly would not have had our democratic breakthrough in 1994. The mobilization of the progressive trade union movement, as part of the broader liberation movement, ensured that the working class became the head of the offensive against the apartheid regime.

Secondly, whilst all trade unions should prioritise workplace issues, but not a single workplace issue can be won without for instance ensuring the participation of workers in the ANC and the SACP, thus ensuring that a political climate is created in which those workplace struggles can be won.

Thirdly, and in our case, trade unions are contested by the bourgeoisie, now together with BEE types, since they have a lot of resources in workers' pension funds, insurance policies, etc. Had COSATU stood aside in the SACP-led financial sector campaign, this campaign would not have made the gains that we have made now.

Fourthly, there is no contradiction between the independence of the trade union movement, which must be protected at all costs, and its participation in broader struggles in society, and in alliances that would advance the interests of the working class. To counterpose the two is to be thoroughly un-dialectical, and can only serve to weaken the trade union movement in its very workplace struggles it must wage. Instead the correct way to pose the question is how should the trade union movement ensure that there is an appropriate political climate within which it can wage successful struggle to transform the workplace?

Fifthly in South Africa, there has been a coincidence between class and race. As Slovo has successfully argued in the past, many South African workers have acquired their initial class consciousness from their experience of racial oppression both in the workplace and in broader society. But also it has been through this class consciousness that has taught South African workers that their class interests cannot be advanced unless colonialism of a special type and its racial regime is completely destroyed, not only in the past, but also in the current period going into the future.

In concluding this matter it needs to be said that any attempt to isolate the trade union movement from broader struggles in society can only weaken and ultimately destroy the trade union movement itself. Building the capacity to successfully wage workplace struggles is integrally intertwined with broader struggles in society.

To ask of the trade union movement to restrict itself only to workplace issues in a narrow way is also disingenuous in another sense. The bourgeoisie, whilst its core mission is to make profit, it is daily heavily involved in politics, using all manner of strategies, including economic blackmail, the golf-course, etc, to try and influence if not determine the political direction of the country in order to create fertile grounds for expanded capital accumulation. Therefore to ask of the trade union movement to focus on workplace issues only is actually asking the trade union movement to abandon all politics to the bourgeoisie and other class forces. It is actually to destroy progressive trade unionism, and leave the field wide open to reactionary trade unions, and the bosses, understandably, love such unions.

It is also a contradiction for any union to characterize itself as being committed to socialism, but then at the same time stand aside from the broader class and political struggles in society. Socialism is a struggle that must be led by the SACP, but cannot succeed unless workers are an integral part of this struggle. Socialism is a political struggle and a political project that must involve the key motive forces of the NDR in the political battles required to achieve this objective.

For example, there is no way that the struggle to organize farm-workers can succeed, unless this is coupled with the struggle to transform South Africa's country-side, and to actively seek to influence land and agrarian transformation. Trade unions cannot stand aside from these struggles and hope that the appropriate political environment conducive to trade union organization of farm workers will fall from the skies.

Whilst trade unions are not class political parties, but they are class organizations, that should always locate their struggles within the context of broader class struggles in society.

In this period one critical task of the trade union movement is to make sure that the second decade of freedom benefits the workers and the poor. Part of this struggle includes precisely the struggles that have been taken up COSATU, struggles against poverty, against high food, fuel and electricity prices, against HIV/AIDS, against women's exploitation, against narrow BEE, and indeed against the capitalist system as a whole.

Today the SACP is proud of the role that COSATU for instance has played in contributing towards a very clear Alliance programme post-Polokwane, a programme that has prioritized the following:

Decent work and sustainable livelihoods for all
The transformation of the health and education sectors so that we can overcome the huge inequalities and disparities in these areas, and also to fast-track skills development for the children of the working class
The transformation of the criminal justice system, because it is hugely failing the workers and the poor. Abandoning this terrain can only result in the consolidation of a rule of law for the rich, and a legal system that can be used to undermine worker organization in the workplace
Rural development and agrarian reform in order to prioritise food security and sovereignty for the workers and the poor
NUMSA dare not abandon these terrains of struggles!

Our 2009 Red October Campaign

Last week in KZN we launched our 2008 Red October Campaign in Umlazi, eThekwini. Our Red October Campaign will focus on two main areas: the building of street committees and ensuring mass mobilization for our communities to actively participate in local governance.

For instance, the Municipal System and Structures Acts, require that communities must be consulted before any major decisions are taken including alienation of municipal land and outsourcing. Yet this is not happening, and it is for this reason that the SACP will seek to educate our communities about these laws, and mobilize them to actively shape progressive governance at local level.

Indeed our Red October campaign will also be a platform to campaign for an overwhelming ANC electoral victory in the 2009 elections. The SACP will participate in these elections in support of the ANC within the context of a reconfigured alliance where matters relating to joint development of the election manifesto, deployments and other related issues will have to be dealt with completely differently than from the past.

Defeat the reactionary splinter from the ANC

It is also important for the trade union movement to properly understand the current moves by some to splinter from the ANC. Again no progressive trade union, aligned to the ANC, and part of the Congress tradition, can stand aside from the task of defending the unity of the ANC and our alliance on the grounds that trade unions must stand aside from political battles.

In line with what is contained in the Communist Manifesto, what we are actually seeing happening with this splinter group must be properly understood from a class perspective and in its historical context.

The SACP, since about 2006, had characterized the problems in the ANC as a manifestation of the simultaneous rise and subsequent crisis of a particular class project in the movement and the state, which we correctly referred to as the 1996 class project. This project we said is a class alliance between sections of global and domestic capital a certain cadre in the state, together with the emergent sections of the black sections of the bourgeoisie. This has been a project highly dependent, for its success, on the control of the ANC and the state in order to achieve its objectives.

Polokwane marked the severe dislodging, albeit not total defeat, of this class project inside the ANC. Therefore this splinter group is nothing else other than the continuation of the objectives of the 1996 class project by other means, now that it has been severely weakened inside the ANC. The splinter is an elite class project highly dependent on:

Control of the levers of the state
Control and transformation of the ANC into an electoralist party, using the masses only to vote in order to ascend to state power
The marginalization of the allies, including the ANC itself from key policy decisions in the state
Shifting of real power away from the Alliance into the state
Backing by powerful capitalist interests, especially in the financial sector.

The 1996 class project is also compradorial in character, as it seeks to consolidate its hold over government through a parasitic relationship between capital and the state, with sections of the BEE types as the main conduit through which this parasitic relationship is cemented. Therefore it is not an accident that BEE has been narrow and benefitting only a small elite.

It is therefore only this agenda that can be pursued by the splinter group, to find new outlets to pursue a class agenda. For these reasons it is also a reactionary agenda that will only be interested in using the mass of the people for narrow class agendas.

It also needs to be said that this project goes back to 1994, if not earlier. It is the same project that was guided by the strange document that appeared in our movement in August 1994 titled, 'Umandated reflections' , undemocratically imposed GEAR on our country, sought to massively privatise state owned enterprises, sought to drive the SACP and COSATU out of the Alliance through the infamous '2002 Briefing notes' and sought to continue controlling the ANC at Polokwane.

Interestingly elements of this splinter, who are today crying foul of lack of democracy in the ANC, presided over what will go down as one of the most undemocratic practices inside our movement.

The political manifestation of this project post-Polokwane:

Again it is also important to understand how this project manifests itself politically since Polokwane:

Its attacks and venom are solely directed at the ANC, and its attempts to try and derail the ANC's election campaign, and clearly seeking to forge a relationship with some opposition elements on the right of the political spectrum in South Africa. This is not surprising given the class orientation of this splinter, as it has more in common with the class interests of elements within the opposition than the resolutions adopted at Polokwane
Its anti-worker and anti-communist streak is coming out much more forcefully as it is joining the opposition in making the slanderous claim that the ANC is now controlled by the communists, and complaining about the ANC Secretary General also being the national chairperson of the SACP.
It is intensifying its attacks and smear campaigns against the SACP, COSATU and their leaderships
It's political outlook and motto is that "Either we continue to control (and transform) the ANC or we destroy it"
Its attempt at the continued hold over the levers of the state and other public institutions including the SABC and long-term appointments to boards since Polokwane
In trying to justify its existence it is trying to steal the Freedom Charter from the ANC and our people
Recruitment of renegades from the SACP and COSATU, elements with a proven record wanting to divide and destroy working class formations and who also tried to use these for their personal accumulation
All the above reflected in lack of any policy content in their pronouncements.

It is for these reasons that this splinter has sought to defy internal democratic processes, by planning to leave the ANC because they failed to control it. One lesson for all of us in this is that we must never allow leaders who are removed from leadership position to turn around and want to sink with those organizations. LEADERSHIP IS NOT AN ENTITLEMENT, BUT IT IS EARNED, NOT ONLY ONCE, BUT MUST BE EARNED DAILY THROUGH ONE'S BEHAVIOUR AND SELFLESS DEDICATION.

Therefore Numsa and indeed the working class as a whole must defend the unity of the ANC and our alliance from this renewed offensive of the 1996 class project. An attack on the unity of the ANC and the alliance is an attack on the working class. These splinter forces must therefore feel the full might of the organized working class.

Tasks of the working class

It is therefore important for us to understand the tasks of the working class at the moment and going forward:

Deepen mass work amongst the workers and the poor in order not to be derailed but focus on the priorities as, amongst others, identified by our Alliance Summit
Ensure that our members properly understand the form that the class struggle is taking and to expose the class character of the splinter as a renewed attempt at a right wing offensive against a radical national democratic revolution
Continue our struggle against the rising cost of living for the workers and the poor
Building a strong and progressive NUMSA, prioritizing workplace issues, but involved as combatants in the broader working class and political struggles
Deepen the relationship between NUMSA and the SACP
We are convinced that NUMSA will rise to the occasion and to the challenges of our time!

Wishing you a successful Congress.

Thank you

South African National Convention This Weekend in Sandton

Dialogue, not disruption, this weekend

Oct 31 2008 06:00

The national convention called by Mbhazima Shilowa and Mosiuoa Lekota will include representation from all nine provinces and from the leaders of the main opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance, the United Democratic Movement and the Independent Democrats, when it starts on Saturday.

Unexpectedly, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco), one of the ANC's allies, also says it will attend both the indaba at the Sandton Convention Centre and the launch of a new party, if there is one.

Organisers say they expect 4 000 delegates from political parties, NGOs, sports bodies and business people at the weekend-long brainstorming session.

"Shikota" has been selling the meetings as a platform to find ways of ensuring that democracy is protected.

Prominent figures who will attend include Unisa vice-chancellor Barney Pityana, former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, former public service minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi and her husband, former deputy finance minister Jabu Moleketi, former minister in the presidency Essop Pahad and former deputy minister of foreign affairs Aziz Pahad.

The Western Cape, North West, Free State, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape are expected to send 500 delegates each, while 300 each will come from Limpopo, Gauteng and Mpumalanga. KwaZulu-Natal, a Jacob Zuma stronghold, is expected to bring 200 delegates.

Sanco has been allocated between 150 and 200 delegates representing all provinces. Gauteng chairperson Siphiwe Thusi said the organisation hoped that the convention's decisions would unite delegates over urgent issues such as poverty and unemployment.

Thusi said that if it was decided to launch a new political party Sanco would work with it as long it entrenched democratic values.

DA leader Helen Zille said she expected the meeting to provide a platform for debate on issues such as the Constitution, the separation of party and state, equality before the law, the direct election of the president, premiers and mayors and the funding of political parties.

She said Shilowa has assured her that the convention is not about launching a new political party. "Based on this assurance the DA has decided to send a delegation. This could be a crucial discussion for the future of South Africa."

The breakaway faction of the Pan Africanist Congress, led by Thami ka-Plaatjie, has turned down an invitation to attend, saying the convention involves the same ANC and will offer nothing new.

Ka-Plaatjie said his group viewed the gathering as "a desperate ganging-up of the elite against the poor underclass, who are seeking to claim their voice and influence in the ANC".

The United Democratic Movement, initially reluctant to attend, has now decided to do so and to make an input in the form of an "advisory" paper to be presented by its leader, Bantu Holomisa. Holomisa said he had changed his mind after Shilowa and Lekota assured him the convention was not meant for disgruntled ANC members only. "I still maintain that ANC people need to hammer out their own problems and should be given space to do that."

The organisers have moved to counter disruptions by choosing the Sandton Convention Centre as a venue. "You can immediately work with the Johannesburg metro [police] and the police," said Shilowa. "The centre also has its own private security."

If disruptions occurred, they would reflect on the organisations behind them, he added.

The Shikota meetings disrupted in the name of the ANC in Orange Farm in Gauteng and Gugulethu last week continued under police guard.

One of the leaders of the disrupters in Orange Farm said they were organised by the ANCYL. Siphiwe Mshayisa, who identified himself as deputy chairperson of the ANC's Madibawenkomo branch in Orange Farm's ward two, said the protesters wanted to prevent Shikota "spreading lies".

The ANC Youth League, through its spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, denied any knowledge of the disruptions. The league was "against all disruptions of meetings of any nature and is democratically tolerant of anyone who organises peacefully, but detests any formation founded on lies and distortion of the ANC", Shivambu said.

The ANC and the Young Communist League also pledged this week to allow Shikota and any other party to organise without threats of disruption.

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address:

Talking the talk

Oct 31 2008 06:00

It began in a bakery. Mbhazima Shilowa tells
Mandy Rossouw and Mmanaledi Mataboge about his kickstart plans for a new party

Why a convention? Why not start a new political party from the beginning?
It's important to have a dialogue of South Africans across the political divide, to see if we have a shared perspective. That doesn't mean it's an election platform that will become the party's policies. But it's important to say we believe in the rule of law and equality before the law; that we're going to ensure these are protected.

All political parties say they believe in job creation; the difference is what are you going to do to ensure job creation? At the convention a different kind of person will be participating. Because you have a broad spectrum of people you can have a discussion about founding principles and policies. We'll set up a new website after the convention. I don't want it to be simply ANC mark 2 even in leadership and membership, I want it to be much broader. It will give South Africans an opportunity to dialogue.

[United Democratic Movement leader] Bantu Holomisa has been consistent in calling for a convention. [Former] president Mbeki said Parliament should take the call by Bantu seriously. Patricia de Lille has been calling for a convention on crime. Conventions for South Africans to dialogue are very important.

Why do so many people support the movement while not declaring themselves publicly?
What would it achieve? The ANC is saying: 'Look, this is a party of former NEC members,' while we have a broad section of new people coming in this direction. I don't want to give credence to the notion that this party is just the old NEC. I don't want people to come out; I want them to do work. They will emerge at the right time. We want to project a modern party suited to the situation that can talk to South Africans. People are asking when is the big bang, but there isn't one.

Some in the ANC say the idea of a new party predates the recalling of Mbeki.
It's very easy to say this decision has been long in the making and people have been meeting. Let them produce the facts. I'm sure people must have met to say this is what is happening in Limpopo -- how can we respond? Where you had the things [former ANC Western Cape secretary] Mblulelo [Ncedana] and others felt were happening, they would meet. But they wouldn't have met to discuss the formation of a new party.

Some of us don't feel at home and feel that we need to branch out. When Terror was on radio I said I'll approach him. Because you say you have served divorce papers, can I take custody? I met Terror; we drove to Fournos in Fourways. He explained why it was important that people should not resign. I said, "Let me apply my mind to it."

Then I met the ANC leadership in the province and said I've come to a determination that I was going to resign and that I may look at a new [political] home.

When will the new name be decided?
Once the discussions in the provinces reveal a new name. Also I would prefer that we reveal the new name once we've submitted the registration to the IEC. I had to fend off a lot of cyber-squatters so I'm very guarded about this.

How important is trade union support for the new movement?
First you need the support and participation of the union movement in any convention that seeks to take stock of where we are in terms of implementing our Constitution, in trying to develop a shared perspective among South Africans. You don't need your own labour federation for workers to vote for you.

It's less about who the unions politically support; it's more about how we ensure there are no anti-democratic tendencies, like the statement of the Chemical Workers' Union that said: "We will monitor our members to ensure they don't attend the meetings of Lekota and Shilowa."

Unions have no business monitoring the political movements of their members. They have the business of organising workers to mobilise them around social and economic issues. Those members have a democratic right enshrined in the Constitution to belong to the political party of their choice, which might not be the one the federation attends. There are Cosatu members of the IFP and UDM.

Former NP leader Inus Aucamp has declared his support for you. What do you make of this?
We want to put together a non-racial movement, so yes, some of our support will come from white members and we will go out of our way to work to ensure that as many white people as possible support our movement. It's very important because you don't only want to replicate the ANC. You may say that from a voting perspective whites are a minority, but we are breaking new ground in terms of membership.

Secondly, we want to ensure that we break new ground among professionals, young and black. Young people feel disengaged; we want to ensure we reach them. I can only marvel at what has been happening -- we've received over 400 offers of volunteers. These are not your ordinary unemployed men and women; they are young professionals, black and white, who say we want to come and man your IT system. I want them to become founder members of the organisation.

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address:

ANC court bid on convention name postponed


The Pretoria High Court has postponed an African National Congress (ANC) bid for an urgent court interdict to stop the use of the name "South African National Convention [SANC]", the party said on Friday.

It said the court did not make a finding on the merits of the application brought on Friday afternoon, and postponed the matter to Thursday next week.

"The judge indicated that the Independent Electoral Commission should be joined in the case. Should a new party be formed at this weekend's convention, they too should be joined," the ANC said in a statement.

"The judge nevertheless commented that the applicant, the ANC, may well have grounds for concern over the possible use of such a name by the respondents."

Mbhazima Shilowa, co-organiser of the national convention by an ANC breakaway group, earlier told reporters in Johannesburg the ANC was trying to stop the event.

"They are interdicting [so] that we can't go ahead with the national convention because they say we can't use their name," said Shilowa as delegates registered ahead of Saturday's convention in Sandton.

However, when approached for comment, the ANC said it was only applying to stop the use of the name and did not want to stop the convention.

"The interdict is only against the name," said ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte.

"The ANC is not vindictive," she said, adding that the organisers were being mischievous.

Shilowa said he, former ANC chairperson Mosiuoa Lekota -- who resigned from the party on Friday -- and former deputy defence minister Mluleki George received simultaneous SMS messages early on Friday afternoon informing them of the application to the Pretoria High Court at 3.30pm.

They had just been told that Lyndall Shope, Director General in the Communications Department, had resigned from the ANC national executive committee and the party when they received the news.

They rushed around to find the court papers and confirmed this.

During the question-and-answer session, Shilowa was told that the ANC denied trying to stop the convention.

"I think you can ask them for the court papers. It is a matter of public record," he replied.

Shilowa said the convention organisers regarded the application as an abuse of the courts and questioned why the application was made the day before the conference.

He said it had only been media speculation that the splinter group intended using the name SANC if they registered as a political party. They had never said so themselves.

He said that had they registered it with the IEC, that would be the correct body to approach and there was a 21-day period in which to do so.

Challenging the name was "laughable", as the South African Nursing Council could also enter the fray.

Asked if he would abide by the court's decision, Shilowa said it would not be right to ignore the courts, given that respect for the rule of law would be on the agenda over the weekend.

The ANC expressed satisfaction with the outcome of its urgent application.

"The ANC is satisfied with this outcome. By bringing this application, the ANC has asserted its legal rights and made the important point that its trademark, name and identity cannot be appropriated to serve other people's political aspirations."

The party said the application "specifically refers to the names South Africa National Congress and/or South Africa National Convention and/or SANC".

"Claims that the ANC has brought an application to prevent the holding of a national convention are untrue and completely without any basis in fact," the ANC said.

Meanwhile, delegates continued arriving in buses to register for the convention at the Sandton Convention Centre.

The hall to be used will host a wine exhibition on Friday evening and will then be transformed overnight into seating for about 4 500 delegates.

Delegates who had not registered would not be let in as there was no room, organisers said. -- Sapa

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address:

ANC to stop convention's name

The ANC has applied for an urgent court interdict to stop the name, the SA National Convention, being used by the ANC breakaway movement, dissidents said on Friday.

"They are interdicting that we can't go ahead with the National Convention because they say we can't use their name," former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa said on Friday.

Shilowa, former ANC chairperson Terror Lekota and former deputy defence minister Mluleki George received simultaneous SMS messages informing them of this, he said at a news briefing at Sandton ahead of this weekend's convention.

However, ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte said on Friday it was not true that the ANC wanted to stop the convention. It just objected to the name the organisers were using.

In a statement, she said: "The ANC has lodged an urgent High Court application to prevent the use of names or designations that may be confusingly similar to the name and trademark of the ANC.

"The application specifically refers to the names South Africa National Congress and/or South Africa National Convention and/or SANC."

Duarte said the application had been brought against Shilowa, Lekota and George.

"Claims that the ANC has brought an application to prevent the holding of a national convention are untrue and completely without any basis in fact," she said. - Sapa

Published on the Web by IOL on 2008-10-31 18:09:52

Lekota backs free-market policies

Oct 31 2008 16:44

South Africa will stand a better chance of ending poverty if the country maintains free-market policies and makes itself attractive to foreign investors, Mosiuoa Lekota said on Friday.

Lekota, a former defence minister who said on Friday he resigned from the African National Congress, leads a group of ruling-party defectors who will meet over the weekend to discuss forming a new party ahead of elections due next year.

"The general thrust I have always been comfortable with is the approach we have taken with inflation targeting," he told Reuters in an interview.

"Making sure that we create the necessary stability and making it easy for foreign investors to come in, because with that you have capacity to create increased employment."

The ANC -- which has governed the country with an overwhelming majority since the end of apartheid -- faces its biggest crisis since 1994 as it struggles to keep party unity and ward off further defections.

Divisions in the ANC intensified after the ANC sacked Thabo Mbeki as president last month, a move that was initiated and supported by its labour and communists allies but led to resignations of Mbeki supporters.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) abhorred Mbeki's market friendly policies and helped elect Jacob Zuma to the party's top post last December, hoping to have a sympathetic ear for their pro-poor policies.

Lekota said the SACP was now imposing its will on the ANC and its policies would sink the country.

Mbeki succeeded Nelson Mandela as president in 1999 and is credited with spurring nearly a decade of growth in Africa's richest economy. Lekota was among the ministers who resigned in loyalty to Mbeki.

Welfare spending

The desire to keep consumer inflation between 3% and 6% has seen the central bank raise interest rates by five percentage points in the past two years, to Cosatu's and the SACP's chagrin. But this policy has been welcomed by investors.

The SACP and Cosatu have called for increased spending on welfare, the end of inflation targeting and expanding the central bank's mandate to include job creation. Despite these calls, Zuma assured investors last week policy would not change.

The SACP and Cosatu message has resonated with the poor across the country and many who identify with Zuma's humble background have disrupted Lekota's meetings.

Analysts have cited political uncertainty ahead of next year's elections as one of the risks for investors.

Lekota said market-friendly policies would help end poverty and South Africa was already spending more than enough on welfare.

"You need to spread your resources in such a way that while you address the immediate needs of the people, you must expand your investment base so that they generate more resources that come into the fiscus [basket of funds]."

Lekota said there would be more than 4 000 delegates at the weekend's meeting from across the country and one of the topics on the agenda would be South Africa's electoral system.

"It's important that we review, revise and change the electoral system so that instead of people voting for a party in order for it decide who is the mayor of the town, they [the people] should decide." -- Reuters

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

South African Statement of the Alliance Economic Summit


19 October 2008

The Alliance Economic Summit met on the 17th and 18th October. The focus of our Summit was to consolidate the economic policy perspectives that will inform our common election manifesto as we move towards an ANC-led election campaign in the coming months. The ANC government, with a renewed popular mandate, must be able to hit the ground running after next year's elections.

We know that millions of South Africans want to know what we will do together to greatly speed up ensuring decent work for all, in overcoming poverty and deep-seated inequality, and in addressing rural marginalisation. The challenges of transforming the health and education sectors and the criminal justice system are also key challenges.

The Summit agreed that much has been achieved over the past 14 years, and that much still needs to be done. There are many policies and programmes on which we can build. Other policies require review, and in many cases persisting problems relate to poor institutional coherence and coordination within the state.

There is the need for both continuity and change.

The Summit occurred in the context of an extremely grave financial market crisis with its epicentre in the US. South Africa's financial sector has borne up relatively well and for several reasons, including, as is widely acknowledged, remaining exchange control measures. But the global economic crisis will certainly impact upon South Africa's economic growth prospects over the next years and pose challenges for job creation and other developmental goals. The global crisis will also impact upon our persisting systemic points of vulnerability - currency volatility, the current account and inflationary pressures.

All of these challenges require fundamental micro-economic interventions that transform the structural character of our economy. However, macro-economic interventions need also to be constantly monitored in this turbulent situation. It was in this specific context that the Summit addressed macro-economic policy. It was agreed that the Alliance, working closely with our colleagues in government, should set up a task group to receive reports and to assess the effectiveness of our macro-economic policies in the face of the global crisis, and to evaluate possible measures to ensure a relatively stable and competitive currency.

The Summit had a constructive engagement on a range of macro-economic policy choices, including inflation targeting, and the broader role of monetary policy in line with the ANC's 52nd National Conference resolutions which prioritise the creation of decent work. These discussions will continue in the task team referred to above.

The meeting discussed a wide range of economic policy and governance issues, including:

The development state and planning
Employment and Trade and Industry policy
Macro-economic policy
Comprehensive social protection
Agrarian reform, food security and rural development
Developmental financial institutions
Water supply
Transformation of the criminal justice system
Among the main conclusions reached were:

Planning and Co-ordination in Government

The Summit agreed that there was the need for a high level planning, evaluation and monitoring capacity in government. To pursue this, it is proposed, as a preferred option, that a Planning Commission needs to be set up, headed by the Presidency. This Commission would have the power to align the work of all Departments of government and organs of state to government's developmental agenda. The Planning Commission would inter alia promote the alignment of government budgets with developmental planning, set broad targets through medium term and long term plans, conduct Strategic risk assessment, and Act as secretariat to the Council of State

It supported in principle the need to develop and consider proposals for the restructuring of Cabinet, and reconfiguration of government Departments, in a way which would most coherently advance our developmental priorities.

It supported the need to consider the setting up of a two tier Cabinet structure, presided over by a Council of State comprised of Senior Ministers heading key clusters/ areas of government work, with a second tier Cabinet. The restructuring of government must be handled in a way which ensures that government's developmental agenda is not unduly disrupted.

It was agreed that further detailed work is required on all these proposals, including on the configuration of Cabinet, Government Departments, and State institutions. It was further agreed that a conference is required to consider how to deal with the role of Provinces and Local Government.

Trade and Industry and Employment

A lengthy and detailed resolution on Industrial and trade policy was adopted. Key elements include:

The creation of decent work for all South Africans, including the unemployed and underemployed, must be the primary focus of all economic policies, including industrial and trade policy. The activities of all government departments, parastatals and DFIs, should be reviewed to ensure more purposeful achievement of decent work outcomes.

A major shift and upscaling of industrial policy with significant additional resources, complemented by a more effective managerial and implementation capacity. Industrial policy must lead transformation of the economy instead of simply following investment decisions. Both exchange rates and interest rates need to be calibrated to take account of industrial policy imperatives. This will require, among others, a discussion on the mandate and practices of the SARB to include considerations of employment and economic growth in addition to the mandate on price stability.

Summit considered the current global turbulence in financial markets. We believe that the fallout of the crisis is likely to impact negatively on the local economy and call on government to take active steps to ensure that the economy and jobs are not damaged. This calls for strengthened industrial policy measures and the development of a rapid-response capacity including defensive measures that may need to be invoked.

Decent work embraces a number of dimensions: from increasing the quantity of work available to all South Africans, to improving the quality of work for workers; to ensuring rights to join trade unions and bargain collectively and a society free of child labour and forced labour; to promoting social dialogue. The ANC Election Manifesto will spell out what decent work means for the unemployed, for women, for those in the informal sector, for those in vulnerable sectors, for organised workers, for those in insecure forms of employment and for those exploited by labour brokers.

Government has a variety of financial and non-financial instruments which it can use much more actively to leverage productive assets in the economy, to achieve decent work outcomes, to meet basic needs, promote technological innovation and improve beneficiation and local value addition. These include:

Fiscal incentives, which must be attached to strong and enforceable conditionalities.
Development finance. DFI's including the IDC, NEF DBSA and Land Bank need to be aligned more directly to industrial policy objectives.
Public procurement. The review of public procurement legislation needs to be broadened to include substantial scope for promoting industrial and other developmental policy objectives.
State-owned enterprises (SOEs). Decisions about the types of public investments to be made and their pricing and reliability will have a fundamental effect on our manufacturing path.
The Public Investment Corporation. The PIC is a major shareholder and investor in the economy, which needs to leverage investment and shareholder activism to advance industrial policy objectives.
Competition Policy and Regulation. The competition authorities can use available and new, stronger tools to address corporate action that is against the public interest such as price-fixing and collusion and to promote employment in consideration of mers and acquisitions. The Competition Act should be amended to make considerations of decent work an explicit goal of the competition authorities.
Trade policy has a developmental role to play with respect to a range of instruments including import and export tariffs, safeguards, bilateral agreements, contingent protection and standards.
Licensing and permits. Need to be used to promote industrial policy objectives such as downstream beneficiation.
Black economic empowerment needs to be subject to industrial policy objectives more clearly and explicitly.
Prescribed investments: Government should consider introducing requirements on investments to promote investment in social infrastructure, housing for the poor and job creation. Trade negotiations: The "package" presented at the July WTO Ministerial does not meet the developmental mandate agreed in Doha in 2001. South Africa cannot accept an outcome imposing large cuts in applied industrial tariffs that will threaten jobs in vulnerable industries and curtail industrial development policy space. If the final package does not provide substantially greater flexibilities and higher trade coefficients so that our sensitive sectors can be properly shielded and policy space for future industrialisation be adequately retained, we should not sign the package.
SADC integration should be based on a developmental model that includes infrastructure development, cooperation in the real economy including the development of regional supply-chains instead of the current narrow 'free-trade' model.

Summit urges government to urgently address the situation of vulnerable sectors to ensure that the immediate threats of job losses and trade destabilisation are addressed.

Co-ordination: The success of industrial policy will require strong coordination by different government departments and agencies. National Treasury should work in partnership with the DTI including in making funding available for industrial sector plans and programmes.

Industrial policy should promote a mixed economy with a strong social economy, private sector and public sector. Development of coops and other forms of social economy ownership must be improved and further supported.

Resource-based policies should ensure maximum downstream economic activities through beneficiation to increase the level of jobs in the local economy and this framework should embrace minerals, agriculture and the marine sector. Infrastructure needs to be biased towards growing increasingly diversified and complex manufactured exports rather than encouraging the export of un-and semi- beneficiated exports of bulk commodities.

Industrial policy can play an important role in ensuring decent standards of work and a growing income for workers. Practices such as labour broking and casualisation should be reviewed given the damage they cause to labour standards. Regulation should be introduced to address this matter.

Summit notes with concern the high levels of executive pay in the corporate sector and SOEs as well as the huge income inequalities in the labour market. It calls for consideration of ways to promote more equitable income outcomes.

Summit urges an expansion of skills development policies. The quality of the skills and education institutions is a major determinant of the success of industrial policy. This requires a strengthening of institutions such as SETA's together with a much stronger alignment between sector strategies and SETA targets.

It was agreed that in implementing the decent work agenda, as defined by the ILO we must, inter alia:

Aim to create five million new jobs
fast track development and implementation of sectoral programmes
Use the more realistic expanded figure for unemployment.
Fast-track existing job-creation programmes
Review the proposed closure of nursing, education and agricultural colleges
Improve service delivery in public sector
To achieve these objectives, it was agreed that we need to develop a growth path which actively promotes employment creating investment, as opposed to the cycle of consumption led speculative growth

Comprehensive Social protection

The meeting agreed that poverty remains widespread and agreed on a policy based on three pillars:

1: The basic social "endowment" that everyone must have, including the concept of a social wage (free basic water, electricity, sanitation, basic education, subsidized housing) is included.

2: Individuals being in a position to access the following benefits- health insurance, retirement benefits, disability, occupational accidents, and unemployment.

3: Social security-type benefits that are voluntary and Government has an important role to regulate the private market to ensure consumer protection. Policy proposals, which the Commission proposed, needed to be discussed by the Constitutional structures of the Alliance included:

A Department of Social Security
The extension of child -support grants to 15-18 years-olds
A flat benefit for unemployed workers whose UIF has expired
A basic income grant, linked to skills development
A mandatory contributory social insurance system
A uniform national pension scheme
An Ombudsman for social security to deal with complaints
Implementation of a National Health Insurance scheme, with free health care at the point of delivery
A number of these proposals require further discussion within the Constitutional structures of the Alliance before they are finalised.

It was agreed that the necessary steps would be taken to realign Departments and ensure proper co-ordination to implement this agenda of social protection for all. Further, the relevant structures of the ANC and Alliance would together elaborate a programme to ensure that the necessary funding for these programmes was secured and integrated into national budgets.

Water allocation

National and local government need to take a stronger regulatory role. The Summit agreed that we face major problems in ensuring sufficient and safe supply of water. The priority is to extend the availability of water to all communities and to ensure that it is clean and safe. National and local government need to take a stronger regulatory role to ensure quality and protect the environment. Water rights must be reviewed to ensure equitable access, particularly to small, emerging farmers.

Development Finance Institutions

The Summit agreed that DFIs, like the DBSA, Land Bank and National Housing Finance Corporation, have an important role to play in development, though the private financial institutions also need to be involved in development. The Summit demanded the urgent implementation of the Resolution of the Growth and Development Summit that 5% of all the financial sector's investible assets should be invested in socially beneficial projects.

It was agreed that there should be a National DFI Council, to co-ordinate better the different DFIs and avoid overlaps and streamline them so that each has a specific strategic area for investment. These areas should be:

Industrial development
Infrastructure finance
Agricultural development
Housing finance
SME finance
Targeted groups (women, youth, disabled)
Agricultural reform and rural development

The Summit restated its commitment to accelerated land redistribution. A media report suggestion the opposite is totally groundless. There is under-utilisation of land and continued vertical integration and price fixing in the food chain. The willing-buyer/willing seller clause has to be abandoned and access to water for irrigation made more equitably available for emerging farmers.

There must also be a moratorium on the sale of government land for golf courses and game parks rather than agriculture.

It was agreed to consider re-establishing marketing boards, and to democratise customary land in order to make it more accessible to women.

Policy must be geared to increase food production and safeguard food security so that we rely less on imports.

In the meantime emergency measures are needed to bring relief to those struggling with rising food prices.

An alliance task team, with government departments, must drive forward rural development, prioritising infrastructure.

Criminal justice system

The Summit discussed a report on serious shortcomings in the criminal justice system. It was agreed that it is an urgent priority to increase our capacity to fight crime. There needs to be a co-ordinated system that monitors each crime from reporting to conviction.

The process must be people-driven and people-based. If the police and courts are to regain the trust of the people, they must be seen to be serving all people equitably and efficiently. That is why visible policing is so important.

Macroeconomic policy

The meeting agreed that policy must be guided by the Freedom Charter call that "The people shall share in the country's wealth". Decisive action is required to transform the patterns of wealth production and distribution.

Macroeconomic policy needs to support economic development and employment creation. Interest rate policy, while continuing to be directed at containing inflation should also be sensitive to its impact on the productive economy and employment. The priority, in line with the Polokwane resolutions, is to create decent jobs and combat poverty and unemployment.

It was agreed that the systemic crisis in the global economy could have serious short-term repercussions for South Africa but could ultimately mark a watershed in the world balance of forces, and close the chapter of the 'Washington Consensus'. We must identify threats in advance and take defensive measures.

Issued by:
African National Congress (ANC)
South African Communist Party (SACP)
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)

Zambians Vote For New President

Zambians vote for new president

LUSAKA (AFP) - - Zambians are voting on Thursday in a tight presidential election as opposition leader Michael Sata accused police of scheming with poll officials to "rig" the result and warned again he would not accept defeat.

Sata is locked in a neck-and-neck race against acting President Rupiah Banda, in a contest to replace president Levy Mwanawasa who died in August after a stroke. The winner will ride out the end of Mwanawasa's term till 2011.

The 71-year-old opposition leader, known as "King Cobra" for his stinging rhetoric, told reporters after casting his ballot that Banda's Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) could not win without cheating.

"There is no way MMD can win," Sata said. "We know the police, the electoral commission are all involved with trying to rig."

Asked if he would accept a loss, he said: "No."

Sata has warned since last week he will not accept defeat if he suspected vote fraud, and his supporters scuffled with police Monday in the tourist town of Livingstone after they tried to stop two trucks carrying election materials.

The activists believed the trucks were carrying ballots pre-marked for Banda, but election officials said they were transporting lanterns for polling stations.

Fearing violence after the polls close at 6:00 pm (1600 GMT), police and army commanders put their forces on high alert. The first official results are expected by Friday morning.

Anil Gayan, head of the African Union observer team, said voting was going slowly but smoothly.

"We hear lots of things, but we have not seen any visible sign of rigging," he told AFP.

But the risk of violence weighed on the minds of voters, after Sata's supporters rioted for days in Lusaka following his 2006 defeat to Mwanawasa.

"I've been on the ground, and three-quarters of people are saying they want change. The violence may come up if the results go in favour of the ruling party," said Barry Lukwesa, an unemployed 25-year-old, as he waited to vote.

Zambia's founding president Kenneth Kaunda, who lost power to the MMD in 1991 but has endorsed Banda, urged calm.

"Let us maintain peace after elections. Peace is very important," Kaunda said after casting his ballot.

Banda has vowed not to allow any disruptions to the election.

"No-one will be allowed to upset the peace in the country. Until the election results are announced, I am still president and will not allow it," Banda, a 71-year-old a former diplomat, told 10,000 supporters at his final rally Wednesday.

He promised to follow in the footsteps of Mwanawasa, who won plaudits in the West for his economic record and his willingness to criticise President Robert Mugabe in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

"I will continue the policies and programmes that Mwanawasa started. I will complete them and add more," said Banda, candidate of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD).

Sata has campaigned on a promise to transform Zambia within 90 days of taking office, by forcing foreign firms to hand 25 percent stakes to local investors and embarking on social spending to provide better homes and jobs.

Banda is a western-educated economist and experienced diplomat. Sata has had little formal education but is a shrewd political operator who rose from the ranks to become a key minister in earlier governments.

Two other candidates are potential spoilers for either side.

UPND (United Party for National Development) leader Hakainde Hichilema, 46, is seen as a dark horse contender, while former vice president Godfrey Miyanda of the Heritage Party is seen as an also-ran.

From Wall Street to Main Street: Protests Demand Bailout For the People!

From Wall Street to Main Street: Protests demand: Bail out the people!

By Betsey Piette
Published Oct 29, 2008 2:43 PM

It was a strange sight on Wall Street. In the heart of U.S. finance capital, stage left of the statue of the wealthy slaveholder George Washington, more than 100 veterans and youths from unions, housing, civil rights and other popular movements began a conversation with the U.S. working class from the steps of the Federal Building. The topics: capitalism and socialism.

Six weeks ago, the speakers might have been whistling in the wind. On Oct. 24, after the credit collapse and bailout of the banks, their talks at the corner of Wall and Broad brought many people to a halt. Wall Street workers stayed to listen for a quarter hour, took literature, asked questions of those participating and thought about the economic crisis that threatens to disrupt life as they know it.

The speakers represented a cross section of progressive New York. Whether it was City Councilmember Charles Barron explaining how Bloomberg climbed up the “wealthiest person” ladder since he became mayor of New York; housing activist Nellie Bailey chiding the landlord domination of local politics; Katrina-survivor supporter Brenda Stokely making it clear that solidarity must begin with the most oppressed; people’s lawyer Lynne Stewart denouncing capitalism; or FIST youth organizers LeiLani Dowell and Larry Hales, mobilizing for future struggles; they had an audience.

A rousing speech was presented by a leader of women steelworkers in South Korea, who have been striking the SIRIUS Corporation for the past three years. Their example of struggle despite hardship may turn out to be one of the important lessons of the rally. Teresa Gutierrez from the May 1st Coalition for Immigrant and Workers Rights; Charles Jenkins, a leader of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; and Bernadette Ellorin from BAYAN-USA spoke on workers’ unity across all borders.

For those distributing literature, there was constant interaction with passers-by, most of it friendly questions. A group of Chinese visitors enjoyed photographing each other beside a sign on the Workers World table that called capitalism the problem and socialism the solution.

Media from Spain, France, Venezuela and local Spanish-language TV stations interviewed participants and recorded the rally/street meeting that Bail Out the People Movement organizer Larry Holmes opened and which kept going for more than three hours until Monica Moorehead gave an update on the struggles to save death-row prisoners, Troy Davis and Mumia Abu-Jamal. The final speaker read a message from a Philippines revolutionary to the U.S. working class. It was a new day on Wall Street.

In Los Angeles, the Labor/Community Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions held a “Bailout the Workers, Not the Bankers” forum on Oct. 24 and a street protest on Oct. 27. The forum was held at Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, located in Panorama City in Los Angeles County. Led by Gloria Saucedo, Hermandad services the immigrant community with legal assistance and was an initiator of the historic Mar. 26 demonstration for immigrant rights in 2006.

Rosie Martinez, executive board member and chair of the Latino Caucus of Service Employees International Union Local 721, addressed the forum about the need for unity and organization to fight for justice and against our wealth being given away to the banks.

Chito Quijano, national chair of BAYAN-USA, explained the origins of the economic crisis and motivated for unity and action as the only means to make sure the fallout from the crisis does not all land on the shoulders of workers.

Martha Rojas, co-coordinator of the coalition, spoke about her personal experience going through foreclosure. One of the demands of the forum was for a moratorium on foreclosures as well as against the raids targeting immigrants.

In Detroit dozens of people, including many victims of home foreclosures and evictions, demonstrated outside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in downtown Detroit on Oct. 27 to demand the interim mayor declare a state of economic emergency in the city and formally apply to the governor for a two-year moratorium on foreclosures. They also demanded a federal bailout for the people of Detroit, who have the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the U.S.

Since interim Mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr. took office in mid-September, organizers with the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions have sent him three letters demanding a meeting to discuss the state of emergency facing the city and the action he should take. Cockrel ignored the letters until coalition activists confronted him at two “meet and greet” community meetings he hosted on Oct. 21 and 23. Coalition spokespeople received a tremendous response from the audience and the mayor was forced to acknowledge that a moratorium was “a good idea.”

Following those meetings and the continued organizing and outreach done by coalition activists throughout Detroit and beyond, a representative from the mayor’s office contacted the coalition to arrange a meeting. A multinational grouping of 16 activists went to the mayor’s office on Oct. 27 after the demonstration, only to find out that the mayor’s representative was postponing the meeting due to a funeral. The activists were outraged and a confrontation occurred with city police and members of the mayor’s security detail. One senior shouted, “You show some respect! We pay your salary and this is OUR office!”

Coalition members then went to the City Council auditorium and discussed a plan of further action. Calls were placed to the mayor’s representative, who finally agreed to come to the coalition’s office on Oct. 28 and meet with organizers.

Coalition members will present a draft letter for the mayor to send to Gov. Jennifer Granholm, formally requesting a declaration of a state of emergency in the city and asking her to use her emergency powers under the law to impose a two-year moratorium on foreclosures and evictions in the city. Organizers see this as an important step in getting a statewide moratorium passed by the legislature.

On Oct. 24 in Buffalo, N.Y., a “Bail Out the People, Not the Banks” rally staked out a spot in the heart of the financial district, surrounded by huge glass-covered banks and the Federal Reserve office. The rally expressed such clear, intense anger against the rich and against the whole capitalist system that it drew the interest and attention of all the downtown workers waiting for the transit trains just inches away. High school and college students stood for an hour in the cold wind. The banks even sent observers to listen.

One community activist pointed at the windows all around, and said, “Don’t think this is small, because you can see how many people are paying attention, even in those windows, and standing over there listening and reading our signs. The word will be out to a lot more people by tomorrow.”

The rally and speak-out was endorsed and co-sponsored by Buffalo Forum, Buffalo State College Students for Peace, Center for a Livable World, Citizen Action of New York-WNY, Coalition for Economic Justice, Code Pink Buffalo, Green Party of Erie County, International Action Center (member of the Ad Hoc National Network to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions) and Western NY Peace Center.

In Baltimore, protesters braved pouring rain to gather at the Federal Reserve Bank for a speak-out and press conference denouncing the trillion dollar bailout of the banks and to announce a statewide campaign to demand emergency measures for workers this winter. The speak-out was widely covered by local television and C-Span. Speakers included union delegates, community organizers and student activists.

Among the emergency measures called for are a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions, a halt to utility shut offs, no layoffs and an extension of unemployment benefits, and no budget cuts. The City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland have begun already to announce budget cuts that threaten workers jobs and services.

The speak-out and protest was called by the Baltimore Chapter of the National Network to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions.

Several people gathered in front of a midtown Chase Bank in Tucson, Ariz., on Oct. 26, unfurling a large banner reading “Bailout The People—Not The Banks!” The busy intersection was active with hoots and hollers of support, horn-honking and other signs of approval from passersby.

People feel betrayed by the massive handout to the wealthiest bankers while workers are left to fend for themselves. The state of Arizona needs $2.6 billion to cover its budget shortfall. Less than one-half of 1 percent of the $850 billion guaranteed to bankers would allow the state to continue providing the essential services working and poor people need and would also prevent the planned mass layoffs of state workers. The banks get bailed out and we get thrown out!

On Oct. 25 in Charlotte, N.C., about 50 people rallied in front of the world headquarters of Bank of America, one bank which stands to profit from the deepening economic crisis. A spirited and militant picket included city workers from the Charlotte chapter of UE Local 150; Raleigh Fight Imperialism, Stand Together; Atlanta International Action Center; Charlotte Action Center for Justice; UNC-Charlotte Students for a Democratic Society; and UNC-Chapel Hill SDS.

Demonstrators demanded a moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions, an end to cuts in student loans and a moratorium on state budget cuts. The response to the demonstration was overwhelmingly positive, with many passersby honking their horns, raising their fists and even joining in the picket. As the crisis deepens, affecting more and more working people, organizers expressed a commitment to continue raising these demands against Bank of America and building a working class fight back against the bailout.

Around 20 youth, workers and community activists converged at the Wachovia building in downtown Raleigh, N.C., Oct. 24 to protest the fraudulent bailout of the superrich. Demands to “Bail out the people, not the banks!” and “Money for jobs and education, not banks and corporations!” as well as “no” to massive public sector budget cuts, were met with mixed support from the bankers, but strong support from workers who occasionally joined the protests.

Representatives from Black Workers for Justice; Raleigh FIST; UNC Chapel Hill SDS; UE 150, North Carolina’s Public Service Workers Union; and various community allies picketed Wachovia and marched through the streets to kick off a weekend of nationwide protests against the nearly one trillion dollar handout to the gambling bankers.

The Cleveland Chapter of FIST held a protest and speak-out at the national headquarters of National City Bank, just one day after it had been bought out by PNC Bank. Protesters went inside the bank, passing unhindered by a lone security guard. Later FIST members went to the Public Square area in Cleveland to distribute Workers World newspaper.

Led by youth from FIST and SDS, nearly 30 people gathered for a rally and speak-out against the bankers’ bailout on Oct. 27 at Philadelphia’s City Hall, across from Wachovia Bank. Despite its defunct status, Wachovia is one of many banks responsible for the subprime mortgage scandal and the subsequent tightening of credit markets, and stands to receive $25 billion of taxpayer dollars to fund their acquisition by rival Wells Fargo.

Speakers pointed out Wachovia Bank’s origins in profits from slavery in the U.S. as well as its recent practice of “redlining” neighborhoods of color to deny loans for development.

More than a thousand fliers were handed out to passersby, many of whom stopped to sign a petition for a bailout that would provide for programs people really need. Chants of “Money for health care, not for bankers’ welfare!” went over well with downtown shoppers and drivers honked horns in support.

The protest was sponsored by the Philadelphia International Action Center; Brandywine Peace Community; N’COBRA; Code Pink, Delaware River Area; Justice for Families; Neighbors Against McPenntrification; RASH—Philadelphia; Philadelphia Socialist Action; and FIST.

In Boston about 50 people attended a rally and press conference at Boston City Hall chaired by Miya Campbell of FIST and featuring Boston’s three city councilors of color, Chuck Turner, Charles Yancey and Sam Yoon. The councilors called on the governor and mayor to declare a state of emergency and ensure that the thousands of people who are facing winter without heat or light have their utilities service restored. More than 100,000 received shutoff notices from the Massachusetts utility companies last May.

Nan Genger of the Women’s Fightback Network outlined the group’s ongoing campaign for an economic state of emergency, linking the shutoffs to the war budget and the Wall Street bailout. Tony Hernandez, organizer for District Council 35, Painters and Allied Trades, described how the economic crisis is affecting poor and working people in every community.

Other speakers included members of USW 8751, Boston School Bus Drivers; Jason Lyden, pastor of the Community Church of Boston; a representative from Action for Boston Community Development, which advocates for fuel assistance for low income families; and a member of New England Human Rights for Haiti.

Campbell told how the economic crisis impacts youth, with homeless youth attempting to attend school; school closings from recent budget cuts being used to attack desegregation and the African-American communities’ access to education; and of the more than one million Black men in prison.

The participants are planning further action and vowed to continue until there is no one in Massachusetts without heat or lights this winter. The event was covered by both TV media and the Boston Globe.

An unanticipated but welcome addition to the October 24-27 Call to Action activities, initially planned by the Ad Hoc National Network to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions, came when San Diego homeowner June Reyno called the Ad Hoc Network office to announce her intention to chain herself to her home of 19 years in the Mira Mesa area rather than submit to eviction. She had been served with an eviction notice, but had been granted an additional 18 days to vacate. Since Reyno publicly announced her intention to resist, the police were expected the morning of Oct. 27.

The Network office was able to put her in touch with San Diego activists from the International Action Center and others who stood with her on Monday morning, anticipating the arrival of police, and who were instrumental in bringing out much of the San Diego media to cover her struggle.

Reyno is angry that an offer was made to sell her back the house and then withdrawn when she and her husband found a willing lender. The bank that now holds title clearly intends, instead, to sell the home at a bigger profit, perpetuating the greedy financial feeding frenzy that has produced the present catastrophe of foreclosures and evictions.

Throughout the country, many thousands of people are being deprived of their homes because of corporate greed and a system that puts profits first and people last. By defying the eviction, Reyno is providing an example of resistance to injustice that will resonate among the millions who have or are in danger of losing their homes. As of this writing, Monday morning and early afternoon have passed with no sign of the police.

Sharon Black, Ben Carroll, John Catalinotto, Ellie Dorritie, Kris Hamel, Caleb Maupin, Bob McCubbin, Monica Moorehead, Frank Neisser, John Parker, Paul Teitelbaum and Scott Williams contributed to this report.
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DRC News Bulletin: MONUC, CNDP Rebels in Standoff; Border Clashes With Rwanda Reported, etc.

UN and Congolese rebels in standoff

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (AFP) - - The leader of Congolese rebels warned UN forces blocking their way to the refugee-swollen city of Goma on Thursday that they would open fire if the UN tried to prevent their takeover of the city.

Around 800 peacekeepers from the UN's MONUC force are the only obstacle to a complete rebel takeover of the strategic eastern Democratic Republic of Congo city after government forces fled the rebel advance on Wednesday.

The UN Security Council has condemned the rebel assault, and begun moves to send troop reinforcements to Goma.

Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda said he wanted to avoid a direct confrontation with UN peacekeepers, but would not shirk a fight for the city if necessary.

"We will respect MONUC. We cannot engage them, but if they shoot at us, they are soldiers, we will have to defend ourselves," he told AFP in a telephone interview conducted in English.

"MONUC cannot refuse me to go to Goma. They are incapable of securing the people of Goma so how can they refuse me to go there."

Nkunda's forces declared a unilateral ceasefire on Wednesday after being kept at around 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Goma by MONUC helicopter gunships.

UN forces had blocked tens of thousands of people displaced by the fighting from entering Goma, a French aid group said Thursday.

"In Goma, tens of thousands of people fleeing the fighting are trapped at the gates of the city by MONUC," the Secours Catholique said.

The UNHCR said 45,000 displaced people had fled a camp outside the city on Wednesday, panicked by a rushed withdrawal of government forces.

The UN is meanwhile scrambling to bring in extra troops from other parts of eastern DRC.

"We are trying to bring additional troops to protect the civilians in Goma in the coming three to seven days," the head of UN peacekeeping Alain Le Roy told reporters.

The 17,000-strong MONUC has roughly 6,000 troops deployed in Nord-Kivu to bolster weak government forces in their battle with disciplined, Nkunda forces.

France's UN Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert told reporters that European Union foreign ministers would meet in Brussels Monday to discuss various options to bolster MONUC.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Wednesday that Paris backed sending an EU battle group of up to 1,500 troops to DRC.

This follows a call by DRC President Joseph Kabila for the dispatch of a "multinational force" to beef up MONUC.

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht said he was in favour of sending 2,000-3,000 European troops to the conflict-hit area.

"I think that European military action makes sense... Humanitarian corridors need to be opened up and a cease-fire must be respected," De Gucht told the French language Le Soir newspaper.

The city was gripped by chaos Wednesday as government troops and residents scrambled to leave, panicked by the influx of some 20,000 refugees from further north.

Nkunda, speaking from the Masisi district of eastern Congo, where his National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) forces are headquartered, said the inhabitants of Nord-Kivu were still vulnerable to atrocities committed by Congolese forces and an allied Rwandan Hutu rebel group.

He argued he would have to take control of Goma if MONUC proved unable to protect civilians there.

"If MONUC is incapable of securing Goma, then I have to," Nkunda said.

The 15-member UN Security Council unanimously adopted a non-binding statement late Wednesday that condemns moves by ethnic Tutsi warlord Nkunda's forces and "demands that it brings its operations to an end."

It also expressed concern at "reports (of) heavy weapons fire across the Democratic Republic of Congo-Rwanda border."

Kinshasa has accused Rwanda of backing Nkunda while Kigali has repeatedly demanded that the DRC disarm Rwandan rebels believed to have played an important in the 1994 genocide against Rwanda's Tutsi minority.

UNITED NATIONS 30 October 2008 Sapa-AFP


The UN Security Council on Wednesday slammed the rebel push toward the provincial capital of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and expressed alarm at reports of heavy weapons fire across the country's border with Rwanda.

The 15-member body unanimously adopted a non-binding statement that condemned the recent offensive by a force loyal to ethnic Tutsi warlord Laurent Nkunda and "demands that it brings its operations to an end."

It also expressed concern at "reports to heavy weapons fire across the Democratic Republic of Congo-Rwanda border."

KINSHASA 30 October 2008 Sapa-AFP


Kivu, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is the
violent epicentre of the tensions and conflicts that rack the Great Lakes area.

The region borders four states - Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda - and all the problems and horrors of the region have spilled over into it: ethnic and political conflicts, land disputes, massive flights by Rwandan refugees - almost a million in 1994 - and the presence of tribal and Rwandan Hutu militias and bands of Burundian and Ugandan rebels.

The region is split into two provinces, Nord-Kivu and Sud-Kivu, and suffers from the "resource curse" of natural mineral wealth and fertile land that yields three harvests a year. It was here that Rwandan Hutu rebels sought refuge after the 1994 genocide.

Various groups have moved into the area, where relations are
fraught. From the 18th century Banyarwandas, communities of Rwandan Tutsi and Hutu origin, speaking kinyarwanda (Rwanda's official language), began to arrive. Tensions between the two groups have deepened over the last 20 years.

In the 1980s Mobutu Sese Seko, in power in the country that was then called Zaire, exploited nationality issues to marginalise the inhabitants of Rwandan origin.

The wars of 1996 and 1998 began in the two Kivu provinces, which border Rwanda and Burundi, and the two most serious mutinies since the second war ended in 2002 involved DRC Tutsi troops in the Kivu region.

Twice, in 1996-1997 and between 1998 and 2002, Rwanda sent troops across the border to back the rebels. It justified its actions in the east of the DRC by citing its security needs in the light of the presence of Rwandan Hutu militias, accused by Kigali of active participation in the mass slaughter of Tutsis in 1994.

The fighting contributed to the emergence of a number of local armed groups and the Hutu rebels, who had aided the government forces in the war, regrouped in 2001 into a unit calling itself the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

At the end of August 2007 Nord-Kivu was the scene of clashes between the national army and rebels of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) loyal to Laurent Nkunda, a Tutsi and former general in the DRC army, stripped of his post, who briefly seized Bukavu, the capital of Sud-Kivu.

A peace plan called "Amani" (the kiswahili word for peace) was launched in January 2008 after a deal was signed in Goma, capital of Nord-Kivu, by armed groups including the government's army, Nkunda's CNDP and a tribal militia, the Mai Mai-Pareco. But the Hutu rebel FDLR did not sign.

Its centrepiece was an "act of engagement" providing for an
immediate ceasefire followed by a progressive disengagement of troops on the ground as a prelude to their demobilisation.

Fighting resumed in Nord-Kivu on August 28.

GOMA, Congo 30 October 2008 Sapa-AP


Firing wildly, Congolese soldiers commandeered cars, taxis and motorbikes in a retreat from advancing rebel fighters, joining tens of thousands of terrified refugees struggling to stay ahead of the violence.

As gunfire crackled in this eastern provincial capital, the Tutsi rebels said they had reached the outskirts of Goma and declared a unilateral cease-fire Wednesday to prevent panic as the army retreats and residents flee.

Congo said Rwandan troops had crossed the border and attacked its soldiers - raising the specter that neighboring nations will again be drawn into Congo's war. Rwanda's Tutsi-led government immediately denied the charge, but Congo turned to Angola for help defending its territory.

As the chaos mounted, the United States announced its officials were leaving Goma and urged all American citizens to do the same. The State Department said Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer was heading to the capital, Kinshasa, and would arrive Thursday.

"There is a lot of violence," said spokesman Sean McCormack. "This is of deep concern to us."

Thousands of panicked refugees clogged the dirt roads out of Goma, struggling to reach safety.

Women carrying huge bundles on their heads and babies in their arms trudged alongside men pushing crude wooden carts crammed with clothing, food and cooking utensils. Bewildered children walked alongside. Young boys led goats and pigs on tethers as men on bicycles weaved in and out.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said about 45,000 people fled the nearby village of Kibati, where they had been sleeping in a makeshift camp in the open air, in a matter of hours on Wednesday.

"It was very chaotic," said agency spokesman Ron Redmond, speaking from Geneva. Most of the refugees had arrived only the day before after fleeing fighting farther north.

"They suddenly became very agitated and people began leaving the camp in a panic," Redmond said. They first headed toward Goma to the south, then changed direction and headed back out as it became clear the city was about to fall.

Goma's governor, Julien Mpaluku, acknowledged that panic was
spreading, but stressed that U.N. peacekeepers were still in charge and rebels had not yet entered the city. U.N. spokesman Madnodje Mounoubai said peacekeepers were deployed at the airport and at other strategic points.

A rebel statement said their fighters were just outside Goma.

"We are not far from Goma," rebel leader Laurent Nkunda was quoted as saying on the BBC's Web site. "But because there is a state of destabilization in the town we decided ... unilaterally to proclaim a cease-fire."

Nkunda, who has ignored calls by the Security Council to respect a U.N.-brokered truce signed in January, called on government forces to follow suit.

The U.N. Security Council condemned Nkunda's offensive Wednesday night and demanded "that it bring its operations to an end." The 15-nation council said any attack on civilians is "totally unacceptable" and called on Congo and Rwanda to restore stability in the region.

France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert expressed hope that the cease-fire will last "and we hope that tomorrow Mr Nkunda will announce that he stops his offensive."

Ripert's expressed support for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's initiative to try to facilitate dialogue between Rwanda and Congo and expresed hope that he will be able to send a high-level envoy to formalize talks between the neighboring countries "as soon as possible."

The U.N. says its biggest peacekeeping mission - a 17,000-strong force -is now stretched to the limit with the surge in fighting and needs more troops quickly. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uruguay and South Africa are the main contributors to the existing force.

But hopes for immediate backup from the European Union dimmed. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Wednesday the EU had considered sending troops to reinforce the peacekeepers in Congo but some countries refused.

Fears have grown of a wider war that could drag in Congo's
neighbors. Congo suffered back-to-back wars from 1996 to 2002 that embroiled eight African nations and became a rush at the country's vast mineral wealth.

The unrest in eastern Congo has been fueled by festering hatreds left over from the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which half a million Tutsis were slaughtered. More than a million Hutu extremists fled to Congo where they regrouped in a brutal militia that helps fuel the continuing conflict in Congo.

Rebel leader Nkunda, an ethnic Tutsi and former general, quit the army several years ago, claiming the government of President Joseph Kabila was not doing enough to protect minority Tutsis from the Hutu extremists.

On Wednesday, retreating government soldiers entered Goma along with the fleeing refugees, grabbing cars, taxis and motorbikes to help in their escape.

About 15 soldiers briefly commandeered a car carrying an AP
cameraman and photographer and demanded to be driven about 50 miles to the town of Saki.

"I'll kill you! I'll kill you!" yelled one soldier in front of an airfield near downtown Goma.

The soldiers grabbed boxes that looked like ammunition from the U.N. compound at the airport, piled them into the SUV and took off. Some of the soldiers piled onto the roof, others hung from open doors. The journalists finally managed to get away, jumping out of the moving vehicle at a military police checkpoint.

On another battlefront further north, government soldiers abandoned the town of Rutshuru and tens of thousands or refugees fled, according to U.N. officials and aid workers.

"It's incredibly dangerous," said Alice Gilbert, a project officer for the British medical agency Merlin. "Complete chaos broke out and everyone fled into the bush."

On the Web:
The U.N. mission in Congo,

KILIMANYOKA, Congo 29 October 2008 Sapa-AP


Bombs, rockets and mortar shells exploded in eastern Congo on
Wednesday, and the Congolese army claimed it came under attack by troops from neighboring Rwanda.

Congo's government has accused Rwanda's Tutsi-led government of sending troops across the nearby border to help the fighters of renegade Gen. Laurent Nkunda. Rwanda denies it.

The bombardments could be heard by journalists at an army camp in eastern Congo. Jeeps of officers sped along the road stopping to give instructions to soldiers toting rocket launchers and assault rifles.

The bombardment appeared to be taking place less than five miles (eight kilometers) from a village where thousands of refugees huddled amid heavy rain.

Nkunda says he is fighting to protect the region's tiny Tutsi
minority. The rebels have vowed to take Congo's eastern provincial capital, Goma.

LUSAKA 29 October 2008 Sapa-dpa


While tens of thousands of people are fleeing renewed fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, thousands of victims of the last war from 1998 to 1993 are returning to their homes in the south of the country from neighbouring Zambia.

After nine years in refugee camps in Zambia, more and more Congolese refugees are packing for home, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Zambia said Wednesday.

The refugees are being repatriated by road to their homes in Katanga province, which is deemed safe, deputy representative for the UNHCR Zambia, Fernando Alvarado, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Despite heavy fighting in eastern Congo between UN-backed government forces and rebel forces loyal to renegade army general Laurent Nkunda, the UNHCR said an influx of refugees was was not expecting in Zambia, because the affected region - North Kivu province - is far from the Congo-Zambia border.

"The UNHCR and the governments of Zambia and DRC considers the conditions of some areas of DRC suitable for the return of refugees," Alvarado says, stressing the return was voluntary.

The areas that are receiving returnees have been cleared of
landmines and have basic services, including schools, health clinics and clean drinking water, the UNHCR said.

The impoverished former British colony of Zambia is hosting more than 86,000 refugees from African conflicts, of which around 56,000 are accommodated in refugee camps.

Congolese make up the majority, followed by Angolans and a smaller number from Rwanda, Burundi and Somalia.

Between May and December last year, 7,325 Congolese refugees were repatriated by the UNHCR.

The rate of return has picked up this year, with a total of 8,038 returning since May, leaving around 39,000 in two camps.

JOHANNESBURG 29 October 2008 Sapa


Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will leave for the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday ahead of President Kgalema Motlanthe's working visit, the foreign affairs department said.

Motlanthe's visit is scheduled for October 30 and 31.

Department spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said the visit was aimed at assessing progress on bilateral projects.

"It is expected that during this visit a strong emphasis will be placed on devising mechanisms and processes to monitor more closely the achievements and progress made with bilateral projects, and also consider the possibilities of trilateral agreements in some areas," he said.

President Motlanthe would meet DRC President Joseph Kabila after a senior officials' meeting and a ministerial session on Thursday.

Motlanthe's delegation includes trade and industry minister Mandisi Mpahlwa, defence minister Charles Nqakula, health minister Barbara Hogan and public services minister Richard Baloyi.

South Africa was committed to a "strategy for post conflict
reconstruction and development in the DRC".

The country was assisting the DRC with its economic development, institutional capacity building, and security sector reform, said Mamoepa.

NAIROBI 29 October 2008 Sapa-AFP


Washington's top diplomat for Africa on Wednesday urged rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to halt their march to the strategic town of Goma and return to previous agreements.

Jendayi Frazer, the assistant secretary of state for African
affairs, said Congolese renegade general Laurent Nkunda and his National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) will be held accountable for actions in Goma.

"I should say, they should not go into Goma, they will be held accountable for actions taking place (there). They should return to a political process," Frazer told a press conference in Nairobi.

"I am also going to the Congo tommorrow and then onwards to Rwanda to discuss the situation taking place in eastern Congo, specifically to urge a return to the Goma agreement to resolve the internal crisis in Congo with general Nkunda's CNDP forces.

"We certainly call on those forces to stop the attacks that have displaced many individuals, so many Congolese people," Frazer added.

In January, rebels operating in the eastern DRC signed an accord with the government that involved a ceasefire, demobilisation of troops and an amnesty.

"We do not need a new agreement, we need agreements that are
currently on the table to be implemeted," Frazer said.

The US diplomat rejected claims by Nkunda that his forces were fighting to protect minority Tutsi tribesmen in the troubled central African nation.

"The CNDP cannot protect the Tutsi population, that excuse to
continue to attack innocent civilians and displace innocent civilians is not acceptable," she said.

The rebels late Wednesday declared a unilateral ceasefire even though the collapse of government resistance left UN peacekeeping forces - which earlier used helicopter gunships to stall the rebel advance - as the only obstacle to a complete takeover of Goma, the capital of Nord-Kivu province.

The rebel advance left government forces, residents and tens of thousands of refugees scrambling to leave Goma, officials said.

Combat between Nkunda's men and government forces has escalated since the weekend, despite a plea from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for an end to the fighting.

The government in Kinshasa has accused Rwanda of actively
supporting Nkunda.

"We have no evidence that Rwanda is fighting directly in eastern Congo, but we do believe that Rwandan territory has been used to provide support to CNDP. It is a very, very easy border to cross, supplies can go back and forth easily," Frazer said.