Sunday, September 28, 2014

SACP Statement at Communications Workers Union, National Congress, 23-25 September 2014 as Presented by Second Deputy General Secretary, Comrade Solly Mapaila
Solly Mapaila is the Second Deputy Secretary General of the
South African Communist Party (SACP).
25 September 2014

Comrade President of the CWU and All National Office Bearers;
Leaders and delegates from the various levels of the union;
Leaders from the Alliance partners, ANC, COSATU and SANCO present here today;
Distinguished Guests,

Allow me for and on behalf of the entire membership of the South African Communist Party to convey warm revolutionary greetings from our Central Committee. The SACP looks forward to fruitful discussions from this Congress and wishes it all the successes it needs to move the Communications Workers Union forward to greater heights.

Technological revolution and restructuring in the communications industry

This Congress convenes at the time when the communications industry has restructured almost fundamentally in the last 2-3 decades.

The restructuring in the communications industry has occurred through a technological revolution and the transcending of new information and communications technologies in the industry and the household. The development and evolution of computer technology and software applications used in desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones represent the latest, cutting edge advances in this regard.

These, coupled with new capabilities such as flexibility and adaptability to ever growing software applications, together with the constant restructuring of the internet through a robust growth in social network facilities and multi-media platforms, have enormously restructured the communications industry, the methods and avenues of communication, as well as both the structures of production and employment.

In the midst of this restructuring there is a further process of change that is taking place in the print media.

As people shift their decisions on sources of information and news, and even get involved in directly publishing and broadcasting news through online platforms, newspapers and magazines are experiencing new challenges to circulation volumes. In fact there are increasing questions about whether the figures on newspaper sales and circulations that are reported to be still high represent the true reflection of reality for some publications.

In addition, in South Africa there are newspapers that survive, and not by a small measure, on state advertisements. The Sunday Times falls in this category. In fact it could as well be that it is state advertisement that sells more than the hostile news content that some of the newspapers are pushing against the government, while at the same time the state is spending millions of Rand on a daily or weekly or monthly basis in sustaining or keeping such papers to stay afloat.

This backs the questions:

Why is the state not considering alternatives to directly reap the benefits of the sale of its advertisements by such newspapers and cut the cost if not the waste of spending millions of Rand in supporting their hostile news propaganda? Why is the state not considering the demand for its advertisements as a strategic lever of power to achieve transformation, not only in terms of ownership and control, but also decent work, fair, accurate, balanced and objective reporting?

These are some of the vexing questions that must not be avoided as we discuss the restructuring in the communications industry and the need for transformation in the media. We must take these and other transformational questions seriously and press ahead with change to benefit the people as a whole, the majority of who are the workers and poor. This is important for the second radical phase of our democratic transition as headed by, and under the leadership of, the National Democratic Revolution (NDR).

There can also be no that foreign intelligence forces have extensively infiltrated the media. But the way they go about it shows that they have lost their covert basis. Their agenda is overtly clear: anti-liberation movement and pro-anything that opposes our revolution. They are sustained by a leaking intelligence service.

It is critical for unions organising in, and in particular the Communications Workers Union as a progressive union to constantly study the changes that are taking place in the communications industry and the media. This is because, as you now know from your lived experience, restructuring has serious implications and consequences for employment, trade union organisation and numerical strength.

As the old, traditional communications industry was negated and the new one that we have briefly described developed many workers were retrenched from traditional communications industry jobs. The number of workers, for instance who were previously employed both by the Post Office and Telkom, has been reduced drastically. A few months ago as you were making preparations for this Congress, Telkom was contemplating further reductions of its workforce by thousands, all for profit maximisation linked with its previous partial privatisation and full commercialisation.

The cell phone sector has introduced new structures and relationships of employment as compared to the traditional landline telephone sector. This has affected mainly the jobs that were and remain important in the landline telephone sector, but which have been cut off in the cell phone sector given the differences in the structure of production, including signal distribution and related maintenance requirements.

Computer, internet, and cell phone technologies and new end-user applications have obviously also had serious consequences for employment at the Post Office as well.

As neoliberal restructuring entrenched, at both the Post Office and Telkom a phenomenon of labour brokers has taken root. The Communications Workers Union has been fighting against it, and the Communist Party fully supports the fight.

Labour brokers must be abolished once and for all. We have given sufficient reasons for this just cause and have written volumes of materials; it is therefore not necessary to replay our reasons here today because this would amount to preaching to the converted.

What we can say about this ‘Proletarian Slave Traders`, the parasitic labour brokers who deepen the exploitation of labour and its subordination to capital, is that we must fight them everywhere; we must intensify the fight against the system. The private sector which dominates the cell phone market through big corporations such as Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Virgin Mobile is also using labour brokers, and cannot be left to run away with murder or with the blood of the workers on its hands.

In addition, the Communications Workers Union will have to look at its own organising and collective bargaining strategy on a constant basis, this in order to keep pace with the times with an effectively responsive posture.

The cell phone sector for example has many small and outsourced outlets which trade in cell phone, laptop, tablet and broadband products, technologies and associated services. There is a difference between organising in this context and organising in a big firm such as Telkom, for example.

The articulation of collective bargaining towards the achievement of COSATU`s objectives of centralised sectoral and industry bargaining will equally require increased efforts, new strategies and tactics.

In the recent past Vodacom announced the takeover of Neotel. The Communications Workers Union, based on its structural location in this sector, should help us develop clarity on what the implications of this transaction are or would be going forward. In its inception, Neotel was reportedly introduced as the second landline operator after Telkom which is partly owned of the state. It will be fruitful for us and all to know how the union has engaged with this process of concentration.

In the broadcasting industry, both radio and television, an agenda has been forged that is anti-ANC, anti-ANC led government, anti-Alliance, and indeed anti-NDR. More and more there are radio stations and television channels that are being used and have effectively joined the hostile press content that is all bent against our democratic revolutionary movement.

In fact a tendency has emerged among some radio and television broadcasters, including at the public broadcaster - SABC through some radio stations or even television channels to be an appendage, content-wise, of the hostile conservative and liberal press and even imperialist news agents. In addition, we are being bombarded on international developments with news content sourced from the all biased Western Imperialist News Agencies.

We would appreciate how the Communications Workers Unions views these developments, and what its organisational and political strategies are to turn the tables.

Your views on the posture of the SABC and radio stations such as SA FM will be of great importance for our consideration.

Also importantly, for a while now our country could not advance from analogue to digital television broadcasting migration. Taking advantage of your structural location in this sector, we are looking forward to hearing from this Congress what caused the delay and what the dynamics and the way forward are to meet the 2015 digital migration deadline. We are aware that there has been competition to privately accumulate as much capital as possible from the analogue to digital migration. Your analysis of the forces involved and the way forward for change will be valuable for consideration to us.

The digital broadcasting platform will bring about a wide range of opportunities. It is of great interest to us to know how the union has prepared itself for the analogue to digital migration organisationally and politically. What are the union`s plans to seize the opportunities that will come with the digital migration? In particular, how will the union use this opportunity to build itself stronger than even before?

Following the May 7th, Fifth Democratic General Election the government was restructured. This included two separate Ministries of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services. One of the reasons for this restructuring was that the telecommunication and information technology sector has become an important area with potential growth.

In addition, in his State of the Nation Address following inauguration after the election President Jacob Zuma outlined an infrastructural development plan to drive manufacturing and industrialisation and press our second, more radical phase of transition forward. This infrastructure programme includes telecommunication and information technology.

The SACP is looking forward to your reflections on these pertinent issues, and more particularly on how, as a progressive union, you believe these programmes should benefit the workers and poor economically and socially, as well as trade union organising.

The hooliganisation of Parliament

Following the Fifth Democratic General Election we are increasingly observing the hooliganisation of Parliament. This occurs through provocative, childish and theatrical disruptions, un-Parliamentary conduct of a lumpen and rascal type in character displayed by a proto-fascist party that is led by the most corrupt tenderpreneur. Ironically, there are sections of the media and so-called independent analysts who have dubbed this shameful conduct "robust" and "vibrant".

This occurs at a time when there is a well-co-ordinated destabilisation campaign being waged by an axis of external and internal forces in our country, the latter often being turned into the agents of imperialist agendas. External forces provide support and funding to some political and so-called civil society organisations, and to some media houses which have been turned into opposition and regime change media in action. A part of this funding is given under a false pretext alleging that there is either no freedom of speech or there are threats to freedom of speech in South Africa.

This is the context in which some of the so-called civil society organisations are involved in manufacturing a propaganda that reinforces the false pretext regarding freedom of speech in our country.

It is in this context that reports such as the "Right 2 Know`s" "Secret State of the Nation Report 2014" are being fabricated and prominently publicised; as we have seen, the Mail & Guardian newspaper has widely given prominence to the report, and, ironically, even the public broadcaster through SA FM.

It is in this context that we have seen the Public Protector`s Nkandla report being pushed through short-cuts, disregarding the due process that is unfolding in Parliament, the role of Parliament, its powers and functions as vested upon it by our Constitution.

All this happens when by the way there is no finding in the report that the President is corrupt; when, at the same time, we hear nothing about two of Public Protector`s reports concerning the leader of the proto-fascist party, the plunderer of Limpopo. In a Report titled "On the Point of Tenders", the Public Protector found that this corrupt tenderpreneur benefited money through his private, Ratanang Family Trust and equal interest in Guilder Investment, from fraudulent, corrupt and unlawful activities.

This is the context in which there is a new right-wing alliance that has emerged under the leadership of the DA, a party of apartheid white privilege with a double agenda that combines such conservatism and liberalism. This new right-wing alliance comprises of the EFF, that proto-fascist party led by the most corrupt tenderpreneur, and COPE, UDM and the FF Plus.

It is in this context that the same media that vilified the leader of the EFF when he was a member of the ANC is now putting him on the front page - "a hero on the same level as Verwoerd", as highlighted in the Umsebenzi Online published 19 September 2014.

This is the context in which the right-wing alliance of reactionary parties in Parliament, after seeing their EFF storm-troopers disrupt the institution, have now wasted more valuable parliamentary time by bringing the so-called motion of no confidence against the Speaker, Comrade Baleka Mbete. Having no real arguments that can make South Africa a better place, these right-wing reactionary parties are bent on making the hooliganisation of Parliament acceptable, and making South Africa a better place only for the richest 1% and their imperialist backers. In the process, they are being profiled through media coverage.

From the sterile arguments they presented in Parliament on the failed "motion of no confidence" it is obvious that our Constitution is under attack. In addition, these reactionary parties are pushing for an undemocratic parliamentary regime where the Speaker would be an unelected person.

All of these point to vehement opposition to our second, more radical second phase of transition.

Defeat reactionary forces, defeat imperialist backed forces!

Advance, deepen and defend the second radical phase of our transition and intensify the struggle for socialism!

In the next few weeks the SACP will be launching a discussion paper for consideration by our entire democratic revolutionary movement and the people as a whole on the basic content of and taking forward this second phase of the NDR.

As the SACP we believe that the NDR is not a detour; we believe that it is neither a stage in which capitalism still has to be "completed"; on the contrary, we believe that the NDR is the shortest, more direct and most suited route to socialism in the specific conditions of our country and its historical context. As our Party Programme correctly asserts that the NDR is the South African Road to Socialism!

The radicalisation and radicalising effect of the NDR must propel our march to the completion of the NDR and the achievement of the goals of the ‘Freedom Charter`. The SACP believes this will lay the indispensable basis for an advance to socialism. Conversely, by advancing and deepening the struggle through building the elements of, capacity for, momentum towards, in the here and now, socialism, and through taking responsibility for, we will actually be radicalising the NDR and propelling it to its logical conclusion.

That is why as the SACP we say:

Socialism is the Future; Build it now; With and for the Workers and the Poor!

Let us defend the unity and cohesion of our movement!

As part of advancing, deepening and defending the NDR and the struggle for socialism, in their interrelatedness, we must do all in our capacity to defend the unity of the progressive and democratic revolutionary forces of change. This is why as the SACP we support the efforts that are underway in our Alliance to defend COSATU from disunity, to restore and develop its unity and cohesion.

Holding together united a National Liberation Movement that is leading the government in the context of the economy that is controlled by hostile class forces and in the context where imperialist forces have become more aggressive as they seek recovery from multiple interacting crises is not a simple task. However, we must do everything in our capacity to emerge united. As COSATU says in its slogan: ‘An injury to one is an injury to all`.

The victory of division and disunity among the ranks of the workers and our National Liberation Movement and within COSATU is the victory of hostile class forces. Such a victory can only benefit the exploiters of the workers and postpone the universal social emancipation that they need, encompassing complete political freedom and economic and social emancipation.

Let us therefore remember and be guided by the wise revolutionary words from the longest serving ANC President, Comrade OR about returning the ANC back home intact after 30 years of illegality, exile and underground existence when he said:

"…we did not tear ourselves apart because of lack of progress at times. We were always ready to accept our mistakes and to correct them. Above all we succeeded to foster and defend the unity of the ANC and the unity of our people in general. Even in bleak moments, we were never in doubt regarding the winning of freedom. We have never been in doubt that the people`s cause shall triumph." (Opening address to the ANC`s 48th National Conference, Durban, 2 JULY 1991).

Naivety is the game of fools and those who hide behind insults and ignorance!

Who are the defenders of the CIA in South Africa?

If you analyse and look at all those who condemned Comrade Kebby Maphatsoe, none of them have ever spoken against the CIA. We should never deny the existence of foreign intelligence agencies and, even, their legal collaboration with their counterparts in various countries, including ours. This part of relations is allowed

This does not take away the fact they will use their legal position together with infiltration to obtain unofficial information and to pursue their own agenda.

They will play around with institutions that deal with strategic information for economic development and research, defence, security and nuclear and energy, as well as mass organisations such as trade unions. Hence our people should be taught to protect national assets and information; for instance it should be standard practice for anyone not to talk loosely about the security of the country especially to any foreigner as this may unwittingly compromise national security, which is your security.

In defence of the Public Protector, let us not throw away our vigilance and create impressions that the CIA has no agents in our country and security system. The CIA recruits judges and members of the judiciary, army and police generals, commissioners and officers, professors and academics, editors and Journalists, politicians and trade unionists, youth leaders and technicians, businessmen and women; they actually recruit all sectors of society relevant to what they want or are pursuing at the time. This is how Dr Wouter Basson was recruited to work with the apartheid regime in the biological warfare unit.

In fact, in the book, Inside British Intelligence: 100 Years of MI5 and MI6 by Gordon Thomas he asserts that indeed the recruitment included "people with a deep cover protected though their daily jobs such as school teachers, college professors, doctors, nurses, shopkeepers and salespeople".

So it is absolute nonsense to defend the CIA in the name of Thuli Madonsela. We need to separate these two matters, the allegation and the institution - CIA that is notorious for orchestrating the killings of many people world-wide.

It is clear some have cast their banner on the mast. They have chosen the CIA over one of their own. Shame on all those South Africans who never condemned the CIA and its role in Africa and the world over whilst condemning the mistake of a freedom fighter!

Oh well! Naivety is the game of fools and those who hide behind insults and ignorance.

As the late Comrade Tshepo Semudi would recite in his revolutionary poem ‘Give the enemy no quarter`, this is the clarion call to all our people and the working class who have nothing to lose but their CIA imperialist chains of slavery. Free yourself!

The shocking defence of the CIA by various sectors of our society in particular the media is not surprising but reveals a lot. What is shocking is the tacit support expressed in different quarters of our society for the CIA. This is one of the most disturbing revelations since the beginning of our democracy 20 years ago. In the language of management scholars, this should surely rank as a major game changer in the way we, or should, look at our revolution.

The danger of denouncing and demeaning any statement about the existence of CIA agents in our country, as a blind ploy to "defend" the Public Protector, is dangerous, misleading and plays into the insatiable desire of the CIA to strike even harder and infiltrate its agents within our society.

They will finish our revolution, like they did with the revolutions of many Latin American and African countries.

Who killed Patrice Lumumba?

Who killed Thomas Sankara?

Who killed Che Guevara?

Who killed Salvador Allende?

They are interested in ruling other countries by political and economic remote control to meet their insatiable appetite for resources, consumerism and most of all, private capital accumulation and world domination.

Beware of these forces. They will divide us, scatter us, and then rule us. Let us keep our eyes on the ball and remain vigilant; let us defend the Office of the Public Protector and equally condemn the CIA.

In the first instance we must investigate any alleged connection between the CIA and any South African state institutions rather than simply be dismissive and in denial. These is a serious matter, and will also be in the interest of anyone who is allegedly implicated to clear their name and remove lingering suspicion and mistrust.

The SACP wishes this Congress unity, cohesion, and once more all the successes it needs to achieve its objectives!


Forward to a full-fledged National Democratic Society, Forward!

Forward to Socialism, Forward!

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