South Africa: Politics, profits and policing …

South Africa: Politics, profits and policing after the Marikana Massacre

Lover of fast cars, vintage wine, trout fishing and game farming and the second richest black businessperson in South Africa (global financial publication Forbes puts his wealth at $675 million or £416 million), Cyril Ramaphosa (left) celebrates his election as deputy president of the ANC with South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa demanded that police break the Marikana mineworkers’ strike; police massacred 34 minerworkers and wounded 78 others.

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The struggle for democracy within the ANC, by Paul Trewhela

The struggle for democracy within the ANC

Paul Trewhela
20 December 2012


Paul Trewhela says the Mangaung elective conference was determined by fraud

“Widespread irregularity” within the ANC – and the “forces of change”

An important analysis has been published by Professor Pierre de Vos – professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Cape Town and deputy dean of the Claude Leon Chair in Constitutional Governance – on the landmark judgement of the Constitutional Court last Friday (14 December), which found lack of internal democracy within the ANC in Free State province in choice of delegates to the ANC elective conference at Mangaung.

The judgement carries major implications relating to the government of South Africa.

Writing in the Daily Maverick online, Professor de Vos concludes that the Court found “widespread irregularity, if not fraud, involved in the Free State elective conference.” (“Elective processes: Something is rotten in the kingdom of the ANC”, 20 December)

He adds: “These irregularities include the failure to provide ANC members with an opportunity to lodge objections about the accuracy of the preliminary audits of branches, despite the fact that the ANC rules itself provided for such a process.”

Members in one branch were “disallowed from participating in the elective bi-annual general meeting in breach of the right to participate in the activities of the ANC.”

In another branch, no audit was conducted, “thus disqualifying members of that branch from being represented” at the provincial elective conference – on the basis, it was stated, that they “supported the so-called forces of change.”

In yet another branch, the official ANC audit admitted in effect – in the Court’s own words – that “this branch and its members were not entitled to and did not participate in the conference,” a process “inconsistent with the requirements of the ANC’s constitution.

With other branches, members of the national audit team (who were also members of the ANC’s National Executive Committee) simply failed to attend auditing meetings, thus “denying the affected branches representation at the Provincial Conference”, while other individuals who did attend the provincial conference had not been “elected at a properly constituted branch general meeting.”

Professor de Vos continues: “Reading through these lists of irregularities, it is difficult not to conclude that those in charge of the Free State ANC and some NEC members who supported the re-election of the PEC (and perhaps President Jacob Zuma), at best turned a blind eye to serious irregularities and pre-conference vote rigging and at worst participated in it.”

He adds that “given the systemic nature of the irregularities in the Free State in an elective conference which took place just a few months earlier, given the fact that Kgalema Motlanthe did not manage to receive the support of a single Free State delegate at the Free State nominations conference, and in the absence of evidence that the irregularities were dealt with properly by Gwede Mantashe who, in any case, had a vested interest in the outcome of the process, it might not be unreasonable to question the legitimacy of all the Free State delegates represented at Mangaung.”

Professor de Vos concludes that the judgement “does raise questions about the manner in which internal elections within the ANC are managed” and about whether the outcome of such elections can, without further evidence, “be deemed as being legitimate.”

There is no way at this stage of getting similar clarity about internal ANC processes in other provinces – say, in KwaZulu-Natal, where the ANC’s national auditing process somehow blithely annouced a miraculous jump of 35 percent in party members in only five months prior to its audit.

The single most important conclusion a non-jurist might now make about the centenary ANC elective conference at Mangaung is that it was determined by fraud. There is further evidence of the use of improper state violence in the interest of Zuma’s candidacy, as shown in a disturbing report from Mangaung by Greg Marinovich and Thapelo Lekgowa. (“ANC North West: Cops allegedly detain and beat ‘Forces of Change’ delegates in Mangaung”, Daily Maverick, 19 December)

A great struggle on the nature of democracy within the ANC has now opened up, as shown in an article by Niren Tolsi, “Free State ANC members to challenge legality of Mangaung” (Mail & Guardian online, 18 December)

But as the ConCourt judgement indicates, and as Professor de Vos affirms, lack of internal democracy within the ANC now proposes a major question about the character of democracy – or lack of it – within South Africa itself, given the absolute system of proportional representation set in place by the Interim Constitution of 1993 and the Constitution of 1996.

Given the colossal role of the ANC central administrative body in a political system run almost exclusively by PR, the “systemic” lack of democracy within the ANC in Free State suggests also a systemic lack of democracy obstructing the electorate as a whole.

In this way, the Mangaung conference has opened up a further struggle for democracy, requiring a review of the nature and effect of the electoral law.

With the ANC’s internal irregularities exposed to full view by the Court, Zuma’s re-election has placed electoral reform on the national agenda.

His political task team, with its headquarter in Gwede Mantashe’s secretary-general’s office at Luthuli House in Johannesburg – the real administrative centre of the country, a vast party-bureaucratic apparatus extending into almost every ward and municipality, much as in the Soviet Union and in China – has shown itself to run the ANC, much as it did in exile.

The manner in which ANC members were deprived of their constitutional rights at Mangaung recalls how, at a stroke, in December 1989 the entire body of ANC exiles in Tanzania were deprived of the committees they had democratically elected three months earlier, by the party high command based in Lusaka.

The issues of the exile have come full circle. The struggle for democracy goes on.

That is the real meaning of “the forces of change”.




The promises and the policies, the personalities elected, even the potential political punch-ups at Mangaung are basically irrelevant.

The centennial conference of the ANC will doubtless end with the usual fanfare and pledges of unity despite obvious deep-seated divisions promoted as diversity.

There will also be the usual slew of promises about policies to cure poverty and the lack of jobs.

And all of this will not really matter because the ANC will have missed an opportunity to take a major step into its next century.

This could only have been by seriously discussing a radical move toward a new political dispensation; without a move in this direction nothing will change and the ANC will cease to be a way to a better future.

And, unless a new and more democratic formation emerges, the social fabric of the country will continue to fray and tear, causing further moves towards repression.

Because it is only through repression that political parties and the governments they control in the present dispensation can keep eruptions of popular
dissent in check.

It is these “unrest incidents”, manifest most dramatically in recent times at Marikana and on the farms of the Boland that have increased the widespread calls for “social
cohesion”, and for citizens to become more involved in in the affairs of the country.

But such involvement requires democratic control that is impossible under the
present dispensation.

Because it is a simple fact that we do not have a democratic political system.

Placing a cross on a ballot paper every five years in order to hand over political control to a party bureaucracy is democratic only in that voters willingly forgo the potential power they, collectively, have. It is, in effect, fraudulent democracy.

A constituency system is marginally better, but unless the authority is vested, on an ongoing basis, with the majority of citizens, what we have, at best, is limited or partial democracy.

The interests of politicians, many of whom move seamlessly from political office to the boardrooms of big business, lie not with the voters, but with party bureaucracies.

These bureaucracies, in turn, rely for much of their funding on the financial elites whose fundamental interests are diametrically opposed to those of the majority of the population.

And they who pay the piper tend always to call the tune.

So, in order to have the best chance of achieving egalitarian goals such as those set out in the South African Bill of Rights, democracy should be realised to its fullest extent; rule by the people, the definition of the term given to the world by Athenian
Greece, should be implemented. In simple terms: let the people decide.

The only questions that arise, are: is this possible and, if so, how can it be achieved?

Since systems of direct democracy have existed in the past, usually on a village level, both in Africa and elsewhere, the possibility exists.

Co-operative governance, ithout chiefs or hereditary rulers, has been practiced in areas as diverse as the
Eastern Cape and Iceland. Regular assemblies, in many cases admittedly only of
men, would be called to discuss and decide, as equals, policies to be implemented
and on actions to be taken by the community and for the community.

Where necessary, representatives, wholly accountable to, and recallable by, the
community would be elected to carry out specific functions. Their pay and
conditions of employment would also be decided by the community. This is real
democracy in action and should be the goal aimed at by every person laying claim to
be a democrat.

Communication is obviously the essence here and it is readily pointed out that
millions of people can hardly be gathered together on a regular basis to discuss and
make decisions; that the partial democracy we now see around the world, in one
form or other, is the only answer.

It is not. Courtesy of the very technology, that has made increasing millions of men and women redundant as workers, rather than
freeing them from drudgery, it is perfectly feasible for every citizen to be kept
informed, to discuss all issues and to decide on appropriate actions.

As we are constantly reminded: we live in a world village. But it is a village in
ongoing crisis where the management structures — the governments — of a system
based on competition and the pursuit of profit as an end in itself pay lip service to
democratic principles.

Solutions are sought in economic policy, in greater or lesser regulation of national or international economies. But without changing the political
framework, this amounts only to variations on the same theme that has now clearly
outlived its usefulness to humanity.

Yet the technological advances that are now proving harmful could equally be
immensely beneficial. Cell phones and the internet connect even the most remote
communities — and South Africa is no exception. The latest survey, published this
month, has revealed that more than 12 million South African adults regularly access
the internet.

These are people who are members of various organisations such as trade unions,
religious communities, stokvels and other groups — even political parties — that
come together regularly. There is also, especially in the Eastern Cape, a move toward
community “hubs” in the form of community schools. So units large and small of
what could be a coalition of citizens already exists, along with the technology to link

What is required is organisation within an agreed framework and on the basis of a set
of goals and code of conduct. The goals and the principles of conduct — effectively
a political programme — exist in the Bill of Rights. Using existing social structures
or setting up new ones in neighbourhoods or wherever, citizens can come together as embers of a coalition of equals to debate and decide on all matters concerning

This will require that elected representatives of such groups, at all levels, should be
both accountable to, and recallable by, their constituencies. In the case of parliament,
for example, this would mean each nominated candidate signing a legal agreement to
accept the conditions imposed by the constituency.

Ideally, constituencies should be clearly defined and candidates for office should be
selected by coalition members in each constituency. However, because we are
constrained by the present list system, with constituencies arbitrarily defined by
political parties after the event, it will be necessary to adapt to this until change can
be introduced.

This means a “citizens’ coalition” putting up candidates for office who are broadly
acceptable to voters in different regions and who are prepared to sign “constituency
agreements” whereby they agree to be wholly accountable to, and recallable by, the
constituents to whom they are allocated.

The proportion of votes for such a citizens’ coalition in various regions should determine the boundaries of “constituencies” and
who should represent them.

Because every individual has an individual ID number, there can be little chance of
duplicate membership or voting. A trade unionist, for example, may choose to be a
member of a trade union unit of the coalition or of a religious, community or other
grouping. Only in the unit where the coalition member is registered may a vote be

To get such a system underway in the present conditions will perhaps require
representatives from major social organisations such as trade unions, religious groups
and community structures to come together to finalise the organisational details.

These could be presented to the public at large for comment, criticism and eventual

The basic structure would probably require a computerised “hub” that would have no
political authority and would collect and collate the membership details of those
subscribing to the coalition. It would also act as a “switchboard”, passing on debates,
requests and arguments from various regional groupings to every coalition member
using perhaps a specially tailored social media platform.

Such a system should be wholly transparent and, to ensure this, checks and balances
would have to be put in place. What these should be and how they should operate
should be one of the subjects for debate should a national gathering come together to
seriously discuss this proposal.

Since the ANC, as the largest political organisation has not moved in this direction, perhaps the numerically larger groups such as osatu, the South African Council of Churches or other large trade union, religious or
community organisations, either alone or together, could arrange such a dialogue.

It seems vital that this is done because it seems that only an extension of democracy
will avoid still more suffering and desperation as the present, fundamentally
undemocratic, system attempts to claw its way back to stability.

It can do so, but only
at terrible cost to millions of people and to the further destruction of the natural
environment. The choice seems clear: an alternative is possible. Let’s build it.

Terry Bell

writing, editing, broadcast

@  Blog:

Jacob Zuma’s political report to Mangaung conference

Jacob Zuma’s political report to Mangaung conference

Jacob Zuma
16 December 2012

ANC President says alien tendencies need to be eliminated from the movement

ANC President says alien tendencies need to be eliminated from the movement




 National Chairperson, Ms Baleka Mbethe, Deputy President Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe,

ANC Officials and Members of the National Executive Committee, Our Alliance partners and other representatives of the mass democratic movement, Representatives of fraternal parties in Africa and the world,

Members of the diplomatic corps and other observers;

Traditional leaders and religious leaders,


Comrades and friends,

Comrade Chairperson,

It is a great pleasure to welcome all delegates to this 53rd National Conference of the African National Congress, taking place at the birthplace of the ANC, Mangaung.

Present here are 4,500 delegates representing thousands of branches, located across the length and breadth of our country.

The ANC has grown phenomenally since the last three conferences.

In 2002 at the Stellenbosch conference membership stood at 416 846. In 2007 at the 52nd National Conference in Polokwane, the total membership was 621 237 members.

It has now grown to 1 220 057 audited members in good standing, thus meeting the directive of the 1942 conference, that the ANC should have one million members. The ANC remains very popular with the masses of our people, not only to vote for it, but to join it as members….



COSATU Trade unions shut down South African farm workers strike!

Trade unions shut down South African farm workers strike

By Iqra Qalam and Jashua Lumet 
8 December 2012

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) called off the strike of farm workers in the Western Cape Province on Tuesday, even though none of the demands of the farm workers has been met.

COSATU’s provincial secretary, Tony Ehrenreich, made the announcement following a one-day action December 4, the deadline given by farm workers for the government to respond to demands for an increase in the minimum wage to R150 a day.

Before Tuesday’s action, the African National Congress government made clear that it would do nothing in response to the farm workers’ demands, instead relying on the services of COSATU and a network of pseudo-left organizations to suppress the strike and get them back to work for the remainder of the grape harvesting season.

Ehrenreich declared, “An agreement put forward by Agri SA contains the basis of the accord that temporarily ends this strike,” He said Agri SA, which represented farm owners, “essentially commits” itself to negotiations to be held farm-by-farm. Talks would be about the wage demand of a R150 per day and a profit-sharing scheme.

By trying to contain any discussion over the conditions of workers to a farm-by-farm process, COSATU is seeking to prevent a unified struggle. ANC Agricultural Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said Wednesday that the farm-by-farm negotiations would be followed by government discussions on an overall minimum wage later next year.

Grateful for the intervention of the government and the union, Gerhard de Kock, chairman of the Cape Orchard Alliance which owns 12 farms in the valley, said labour relations on Normandy farm had improved in the wake of recent strikes. “All change is painful, but to resist change can be more painful. I have tried to see the unrest as an opportunity for better relations rather than a tragedy,” he said.

There is widespread scepticism among the workers. Commenting on the demobilization of collective action, Moos Arries, who works on the Mooigesig farm in De Doorns, told the World Socialist Web Site, “It looks like we will now be negotiating on every farm for a better living and we don’t know when this process will be finished.”

Willem Koopman from the Morgenson farm noted that while Agri SA and the government have shown a willingness to negotiate, nothing has effectively changed in their lives “because we have not seen any increase in our living conditions and therefore it looks like we are in for the long haul.”

The ruling class was shocked by the eruption of the farm workers’ strike, which began independently of the unions. The initial eruption of working class opposition, inspired by the struggles of mine workers, quickly spread to dozens of towns. As with the miners, farm workers have been regularly attacked by the South African Police Service, with two workers killed in confrontations.

The ANC, together with the Democratic Alliance (DA), which governs in the Western Cape province, responded by calling on the services of COSATU. This was combined with the threat of force, with DA Premier Helen Zille urging the intervention of the military.

On November 19, the strike was temporarily suspended after a series of meetings involving farm workers, COSATU, the ANC and the DA. This served to remove all initiative from the workers, paving the way for this week’s agreement.


On November 20, representatives of the farm workers told the ANC and the DA they had until December 4 to institute the minimum daily wage of R150 or face renewed protest. It was on this basis that COSATU, in order to head off the development of an insurrectionary movement, moved to present itself in a more radical guise and supportive of the strike’s extension, the better to keep it under control. To this end COSATU sanctioned a single day of action in the agricultural sector for December 4.

Speaking about the decision, Ehrenreich said COSATU had done all they could to avert further stoppages and threatened, “This strike … can set back labour relations on farms by decades and could see a reversal to the low-level civil war we all witnessed on farms a few weeks ago.”

Ehrenreich is a time-served bureaucrat and member of the ruling ANC that sanctioned the brutal massacre of striking platinum miners at Lonmin, Marikana in August. Last week the DA charged him with inciting violence. This was due to his image being used on the poster of a COSATU-affiliated trade union, under which was written the slogan, “FEEL IT!!! Western Cape Marikana is here!!” This was a reference to comments Ehrenreich had reportedly made earlier in the dispute: “The ill treatment and underpayment of workers by some farmers must stop, otherwise we will see a Marikana in De Doorns.”

In response to the DA’s charges, Ehrenreich spoke candidly about his and COSATU’s role in the dispute, aimed at strangling a movement of workers outside of the control of the trade unions and in opposition in the ANC. He stated, “I used Marikana as a parallel to what’s happening at the farms because workers went ahead without the guidance of unions and the danger for things getting out of hand is greater, without unions.”

The unions now hope to utilize the prospect of an Agri-SA deal to try and establish their control over an increasingly restive section of the working class. Union membership in the agricultural sector is currently estimated at less than 3 percent. “This agreement means that workers will return to work and join any union of their choice,” said Ehrenreich. “These unions will negotiate with the farmers on the different farms.”


In addition to COSATU and the ANC, a crucial role in sabotaging the strike was played by a network of organizations, including the United Democratic Front, recently relaunched by Mario Wanza, a former leading ANC activist. Wanza and the UDF have postured as a more militant opposition, while seeking to pressure COSATU and the ANC and prevent any struggle against the capitalist system. Wanza’s attempt to revive the UDF is part of an effort to establish a new organization to contain and channel growing mass hostility to the establishment parties in South Africa.

At the height of the anti-Apartheid struggle, the UDF had around 3 million members. Seeking to unite conflicting class forces, its slogan was the “UDF Unites, Apartheid Divides.” This political perspective subordinated the working class to a pro-capitalist perspective and a movement dominated by the ANC and a leadership whose aim was to secure their own advancement into the ranks of the bourgeoisie that proved instrumental in the survival of capitalism in South Africa.


Another organization involved in the strike is the South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO). It is the umbrella group for many social sector non-government organizations. They are beholden to the capitalist class for donations and grants to finance their activities and are obliged to protect the interests of large farming corporations. SANGOCO has been actively promoting the idea that the farm workers must simply try to “influence national development policy.”

The interests of farm workers and other sections of the working class in South Africa cannot be realized within the framework of these organizations. The basic rights of workers—including for a decent wage and quality housing—can be realized only through their independent organisation in a political struggle for socialism against the ANC, COSATU and the capitalist profit system that they defend.



Even billionaires pay farmworkers badly

December 8 2012 

iol pic sa nt tokyo again

photo: Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale.

 Related Stories

South Africa’s billionaire wine farm owners Tokyo Sexwale and Johann Rupert pay their workers the same as farmers across the board – described as “slave wages” by Cosatu.

The Saturday Star established from interviews this week with farmworkers at Sexwale’s wine estate Bloemendal in Durbanville and Rupert’s L’Ormirans in Franschhoek that seasonal workers earn a minimum of R80 a day, or an average R1 733 a month.

Rupert, the second-richest person in South Africa and third-richest in Africa, is reportedly worth R44.26bn.

He made his money from Richemont, the Swiss luxury group that owns Cartier, Dunhill, Chloe bags and MontBlanc pens.

Sexwale, South Africa’s human settlements minister, is reportedly worth R16.7bn.

The wages their workers said they earned are the same as those earned by the lowest-skilled and seasonal farmworkers in towns such as De Doorns, where farmworkers burnt down vineyards, and in Ceres, where they burnt down storage facilities and machinery during recent violent strikes over their demand for a R150 a day minimum wage.

The majority of farmers pay R80 a day for seasonal workers, about R11 more than the minimum wage set down by the government of R69 a day (about R1 481 a month).

Permanent farmworkers on all the farms, including on those belonging to Sexwale and Rupert, earn slightly more.

A discussion with a group of tractor drivers at Bloemendal revealed they earn R560 a week (R112 a day, or about R2 420 a month).

Bloemendal tractor driver Roger September said workers used to receive all the wood pieces cut from trees on the farm, which they sold to help pay school fees and buy uniforms. They were upset this privilege was taken away six months ago, he said.

Peter Presence, national treasurer of CSAAWU, the commercial stevedoring, agricultural and allied workers’ union, which represents Bloemendal farmworkers, said permanent workers were paid from R110 to R140 a day, a 13th cheque and long service bonus.

At L’Ormirans, irrigation assistants said they earned R2 898 a month (R133 a day or R667 a week).

On the neighbouring Antonij Rupert wine estate, also owned by Johann Rupert, a worker at a bottling plant said he earned R3 500 a month.

The Saturday Star understands from interviews with farmworkers and CSAAWU that farmworkers at Sexwale and Rupert’s farms protested peacefully at the beginning of the strike, but not again this week.

They were also not involved in any violence during the strike.

Strike action started early in November and spread to 15 towns in the Western Cape.

It has been put on hold over the holiday season, with plans to see it resumed on January 9.

The highest-paid workers on Sexwale and Rupert’s farms said they would be astonished, but very happy, if the strikers’ demand for a R150 a day minimum was granted as it would push up their earnings considerably.

Like most farmworkers in the Western Cape, those on the billionaires’ farms get free accommodation, water and electricity.

Transport and crèche facilities are also provided.

Rupert’s accommodation for farmworkers, Dennegeur, looks like an upmarket security estate.

L’Ormirans farmworkers own their own piece of land inside the Dennegeur complex, where they grow mealies, beans, pumpkins, sweet melons and watermelons.

Rupert said he paid each worker R2 000 as an end-of-year bonus.

At Sexwale’s Bloemendal, workers receive two free chickens a week, and transport to doctors and hospitals.


Saturday Star @


BUSINESS DAY EDITORIAL: Anarchy in the workplace


The truths offered by Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll that anarchy in the workplace benefits no one ring especially true with regard to the recent farm sector unrest

ALTHOUGH directed at the mining industry, the truths offered by departing Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll in a speech at the Gordon Institute of Business Science last week ring especially true with regard to the recent unrest in the Western Cape farm sector.

In an inspirational speech on the future of the mining industry after the violent strike and deaths at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, Ms Carroll said anarchy in the workplace benefits no one and that there is no future for any society without law and order.

This week, most striking Western Cape farm workers and Agri-SA reached agreement to cease strike action and start farm-level wage talks, a welcome move that follows several weeks of protests that have resulted in two deaths and R15m in damages.

Sector-wide minimum wages and an attempt to extend these to annual wage agreements in the farm sector have been criticised for not taking into consideration differences in profitability between different types of farms.

Minimum wages cannot be set in an arbitrary manner — pay must be at a level that ensures industry profitability or there will be job losses.

This is best done farm by farm.

Yesterday’s agreement comes just days after Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies punted collective bargaining as the solution to the conflict.

But one only has to look at the domestic clothing and textile industry to see the damage sector-wide wage agreements that are imposed on firms can do.

The downside of the deal is that, in the course of negotiations, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich promised that unions, together with the Department of Social Development, would distribute food parcels to the families of workers who had been on strike.

If the strike resumed next year, workers would be able to use their food parcels to sustain themselves, he said.

Mr Ehrenreich said the food parcels were part of a “public-private partnership”, yet it seems they are to be supplied by the South African Social Services Agency under the banner of the national Department of Social Development.

These temporary social relief or distress grants take the form of a food parcel or voucher and are usually made available to individuals who are unable to meet their families’ most basic needs, and then only until permanent social assistance is made available.

There is no question that families in acute social distress should be given state assistance.

However, it is not acceptable for a union to encourage workers to strike in the first instance and then appropriate the resources of a national government department to mitigate the consequences of this action.

When those food parcels are handed out, Mr Ehrenreich will no doubt do his utmost to ensure that Cosatu gets the credit.

The Department of Social Development already provides for families and individuals in need through a wide range of social grants and services.

Extensive means testing ensures that these grants target the most needy in society.

For Cosatu to step in and attempt to supplant the role of a national department is cheeky at best, and undermines the law and order that Ms Carroll rightly asserts is so necessary.

There may be an argument that, on a pragmatic level, offering food parcels as a bargaining chip to negotiate a suspension of the strike prevented further upheaval in the industry.

It is highly likely that, if an agreement had not been reached on Tuesday, the strike would have continued and there would have been destruction of property and further loss of life.

That said, offering state support to striking workers sets a very dangerous precedent and creates a perverse incentive that undermines law and order and promotes anarchic labour relations.



An Alternative Perspective to the farmworkers´ strike: “Reflections on the WCape farm workers strike”, by William Dicey, Terry Bell on the “Bill of Rights” and news on “The Protection of State INformation Bill”

Reflections on the WCape farm workers strike

by William Dicey
06 December 2012

William Dicey says there were no winners, and the politicians generally disgraced themselves

There Were No Winners in the Farmworker Strike

There were no winners in the farmworker strike.

Tractor driver Michael Daniels lost his life to a police bullet.

Seasonal worker Bongile Ndleni lost his life to a private-security bullet.

Farmer Tienie Crous, 81, almost lost his life when strikers accosted him (his hearing aid had to be cut out of his skull).

Towns were ransacked and property destroyed.

Sheds and bulk bins and tractors and vineyards went up in flames.

Farmers are jittery and angry and scared.

Many are talking of selling their farms and emigrating.

Farmworkers in permanent employ are likewise jittery and angry and scared.

They don’t have the option, however, of packing up their lives.

They have to ride out this storm and see whether they still have jobs come April.

The strikers who resorted to violent protest were losers too.

They took their share of rubber bullets, and no doubt a good dose of police brutality.

They also had to face the wrath of workers they’d intimidated into staying at home.

The first day of protest might have been kind of fun, but after four days without pay people were desperate.

The politicians were clear losers.

Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape, was the best of a bad bunch, but only because she didn’t blatantly put her foot in it. She dithered, failing to show decisive leadership, most likely because she didn’t wish to antagonise either the farmers or the coloured workers, both traditional supporters of the DA.

Her party’s statements to the press, however, were indistinguishable from those of farmer organisations such as Agri SA.

Zille’s opposite number, Marius Fransman, provincial leader of the ANC, made an aggressive start, telling farmers ‘julle gaan kak’, before wisely taking a back seat.

Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, put on a disastrous show.

Addressing a large crowd of strikers in De Doorns, she congratulated them on their ‘victory’.

None of them, she said, would face disciplinary action or criminal charges.

It’s difficult to say which of these two statements is more bizarre: a Minister of Agriculture congratulating farmworkers for an illegal strike in which vineyards were torched; or a minister from a non-judicial portfolio promising immunity from prosecution to people who have taken part in an orgy of criminality, including barricaded a national road and stoning passing vehicles.

To cap off her performance, the minister announced that the sectoral determination for agriculture (the minimum wage) would be reviewed within two weeks – something that wasn’t constitutionally possible.

Joemat-Pettersson has since become embroiled in a scandalous decision to further deplete the country’s ailing fish stocks. And the Public Protector has accused her of unlawful use of state funds.

But perhaps I’m being too hard on Joemat-Pettersson.

She’s so ineffectual and bungling it’s difficult to blame her.

She doesn’t seem capable of something as demanding of the intellect as malicious intent.

Whereas the villain of the piece is the very embodiment of malicious intent: Cosatu’s razor-sharp provincial secretary, Tony Ehrenreich.

Before discussing Ehrenreich’s role, however, I need to say a few things about the genesis of the strike.

Many aspects of the strike are more complex than they would appear, and issues differ from region to region.

Even a simple word like ‘strikers’, for instance, is not at all straightforward.

‘Farmworkers’ and ‘strikers’ and ‘protesters’ are distinct groupings of people.

These groupings overlap somewhat in De Doorns, but less so in Ceres.

When the strike started in De Doorns in early November, the protesters – that is, the people burning tyres and stoning vehicles – were farmworkers.

There’s some disagreement as to whether these protesters were seasonal workers from Lesotho whose work permits hadn’t been renewed or whether they were a broader coalition.

Either way, they were disgruntled seasonal workers who then intimidated the valley’s permanent workers into joining them.

A friend of mine farms in De Doorns. His permanent workers received threatening text messages: ‘We’re coming to get you,’ read these messages (in Afrikaans), ‘we know which vineyard you’re in.’

My friend spent the day transporting terrified workers from one corner of his farm to another. He then told them to stay home.

The seasonal workers in De Doorns probably had just cause to strike.

Over the past decade or two, growers of table grapes in the Hex River Valley have seen their margins shrink dramatically (thirty per cent of farms in the Hex have changed hands in the past five years).

As a result, many farmers have taken on a greater proportion of seasonal labour and have paid them close to the statutory minimum. While it’s difficult to condone this course of action – R69 is an appalling wage – it’s easy enough to understand it.

In Wolseley and Ceres (two regions of which I can speak with some authority: my brother farms in Wolseley, I farm in Ceres) the situation is very different.

Farmers grow apples, pears and plums. Despite a number of challenges, margins are healthier.

This reflects in the wages. The farms around me all pay between R85 and R90 a day to their lowest-paid workers.

In addition, workers are paid a piecework rate per tree pruned or per bag picked. This averages out, over the course of a year, at around R25 a day.

In addition, workers receive an annual bonus, free transport, subsidised visits to the doctor, free créche facilities and paid school fees.

Workers who live on the farm pay no rent and their electricity is subsidised.

If one attaches a value to these benefits, then the average live-on worker receives R140 a day, and the average live-off worker R120.

Workers who choose to exert themselves earn significantly more. As do skilled workers such as team leaders, administrative staff and tractor drivers.

Similar rates of pay would apply to many farms in Ceres and Wolseley, and elsewhere in the Boland too.

It’s not a whole lot of money, but with labour accounting for forty per cent of costs, it’s as much as a well-run fruit farm can reasonably afford to pay.

And given the national context, where sixty per cent of households earn less than this, it’s certainly not a rate of pay that lends itself to violent protest. This is where the politics comes in.

The coordination and efficiency with which the strike spread from De Doorns to fifteen other Boland towns on a single day speaks of careful planning and significant mobilisation of personnel and resources.

There is little doubt that the ANC in the Western Cape and its alliance partner Cosatu were behind this roll-out.

A pamphlet on ANC letterhead was distributed in Villiersdorp, and there were reports, throughout the Boland, of intimidation by Cosatu members (despite the fact that there are very few unionised farms in the Boland).

This would explain the strangers disembarking at Wolseley train station, and the buses arriving in Nduli, the township outside Ceres, in the middle of the night.

I’m no fan of the DA’s reactionary politics, but their spokesperson for agriculture, Pieter van Dalen, was probably close to the truth when he characterised the strike as ‘simply the latest instalment in the African National Congress’s campaign to make the Western Cape ungovernable’.

Not a single worker on my farm wanted to strike.

Those who live in Nduli were informed that their families and their houses would be at risk if they went off to work.

Those who live on the farm received threatening telephone calls and text messages.

Whether these threats would have been carried out is moot. The workers were terrified and retired to their homes.

Tony Ehrenreich turned fifty last year. It is a dangerous age for a man. An age at which he might be tempted to look back over his life and ask what he’s achieved so far, and what he might yet achieve.

In Ehrenreich’s case, he ran for mayor of Cape Town in 2011 and was badly beaten by Patricia de Lille.

He is clearly an ambitious man, not content with his job as provincial secretary of Cosatu, an organisation he joined over twenty years ago.

Ehrenreich’s role in the strike has been nothing short of despicable.

To announce that ‘Marikana is coming to the farms in the Western Cape’ is not only extremely irresponsible, it is also callously opportunistic.

When Ehrenreich invoked Marikana for a second time – on a poster that featured his photograph above the gleeful exclamation ‘FEEL IT!!! Western Cape Marikana is here!!!’ – the Democratic Alliance laid a charge of incitement to violence.

Ehrenreich is also on record as saying: ‘The strike … could see a reversal to the low-level civil war we all witnessed on farms a few weeks ago.’

The only conclusion one can draw from these inflammatory utterances is that Ehrenreich wanted to see the Western Cape burn.


To please his political bosses, most likely.

And also, no doubt, to raise the profile of Tony Enrenreich Inc., mayoral candidate and champion of the poor.

Only, he’s far from a champion of the poor. One of the sad ironies of the strike was that the majority of protesters – in Ceres and Wolseley, at any rate – were either unemployed or occasionally employed.

Had they achieved their goal of getting the minimum wage increased to R150 a day, they would have locked themselves out of a job for a long time to come.

Ehrenreich’s political pawns were the very people who stood to lose the most had his strike achieved its stated goal.

Ehrenreich, lest it appear to the contrary, was also a loser in the strike.

He’s been the subject of more hate mail than I’ve ever seen in the blogosphere; he raised workers’ hopes only to disappoint them; and, judging by Cosatu’s limp showing in the second round of the strike, he was hauled over the coals by the ANC high command.

The North West Marikana dealt the economy such a crippling blow, the government had little appetite, it would appear, for a Western Cape instalment.

Despite the fact that there were no winners, the strike wasn’t all bad.

The incitement and the intimidation and the violence and the destruction were obviously bad.

The cynical deployment of thousands of poor people to further the personal ambitions of a handful of politicians was equally bad. But the principle of a widespread strike in the agricultural sector has merit.

For too long now labour relations have been the elephant in the corner of the orchard, so to speak.

The strike gave us a chance to talk, to let off some steam, and – hopefully – to take action.

Personally, it has long bothered me that workers living on my farm get free housing, while those living off the farm don’t; the strike has prompted me to look into ways of subsidising off-farm living.

Come April, I would like to see the minimum wage for farmworkers increased substantially.

It’s certainly not the solution to rural woes, but exploitative farmers should feel the heat. Most of them can afford to pay more.

Those who can’t need to face up to the fact that they’re subsidising the inefficiency of their operations with cheap labour.

Leaving aside the question of who lit the match, there’s no denying that the strike spread like wildfire.

There is deep dissatisfaction in rural areas, and farmers would do well to take heed of it.

But government should take heed too.

This dissatisfaction, I would argue, has more to do with poverty, unemployment and the lack of any prospects for a better life than it has to do with labour relations on farms.

This strike wasn’t all strike, it was part social unrest.

‘If Minister Joemat-Pettersson and Mr Ehrenreich really want to benefit farmworkers,’ writes economist Johan Fourie on his blog, ‘they should rather worry about another legacy of Apartheid – the poor performance of rural schools, especially in those provinces where many of the migrants come from – and less about government policies to change the minimum wage.’

Unfortunately, however, as Fourie points out, adjusting the minimum wage is easier to do, and it’s a more popular sell.

William Dicey is a farmer and a writer.




by Terry Bell

The Bill of Rights is rightly hailed throughout the labour movement and beyond as
perhaps the finest exposition of the desire of the bulk of humanity for a world that
guarantees the maximum level of dignity, equality and freedom for all.

It is also the greatest legacy of the late chief justice Arthur Chaskalson. At the time it was adopted
in 1996, he paraphrased the first sentence, noting: “The Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of our democracy.”

Words along similar lines have been uttered throughout this week by the likes of
trade union leaders and politicians — all the great and the good and not-so-good —
who paid tribute to a man who laid that cornerstone on which so little of substance
has been built.

However, lip service is continually paid to the principles of dignity, equality and freedom for all that should form the practical foundation for a truly democratic society.

The blueprint — the programme — for such a society exists in the schedule of Rights
contained in Chapter 2 of Act 108 of 1996.

It would certainly have the support of most people everywhere since it proposes a world that would change utterly the situation of islands of obscene wealth surrounded by an increasingly volatile and growing mass of poverty and degradation.

The responsibility for this, say the unions and their allies, lies with a system that promotes gross inequality. So they demand a change of political direction; for economic policies and greater regulation to ensure more fairness and equality within the system.

However, as some critics are prone to quote, this might be seen as hoping that “the
nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all”.

But the blame for the mess we are in has also been laid at the feet of the majority of

According to political leaders ranging from reserve bank governor Gill Marcus to
planning minister Trevor Manuel and basic education minister Angie Motshekga, a
largely apathetic populace is responsible for the fact that the cornerstone of
democracy is not being built on.

Speaking about the Limpopo textbooks debacle at a National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) conference last week, Marcus noted: “If textbook weren’t delivered, why didn’t someone fetch them? You talk of action: that’s action.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by Manuel at a conference in Cape Town in September. He stressed that the Constitution could not be blamed for the slow pace of change in South Africa.

“The Constitution empowers and enables, but beyond that, actual change requires human actions,” he said.

It almost seems a case of politicians wishing to dissolve the people and elect another.

Because the same politicians, sometimes in the same speeches, castigate actions by
unions and others that are clearly aimed at bringing about change that is in line with
the Bill of Rights.

In an often messy and muddled way, this is precisely what has been witnessed in
many of the countless “unrest incidents” around the country and, most dramatically,
in the platinum-rich lands of the Bafokeng and the fruit and wine farms of the

However, few of the participants in these strikes may be aware of — or have read — the Bill of Rights; they are merely trying to claw their way to greater equality and freedom.

Most tend to see this in terms of better wages, an understandable reaction in a society
where material wealth determines degrees of equality, freedom and even access to
formal justice.

But in the process, there have been glimpses of the egalitarian order envisaged by Chapter 2 of Act 108.

These are examples of direct democracy in action, of democratic committees, electing a first among equals to speak for the group.

These are practical manifestations of the hollow, “Let the people speak” rhetoric of
most politicians.

As a result a few voices, mainly within the labour movement, are continuing to ask: Why not establish a system that, within the bounds of the Bill of Rights, truly lets the people not only speak, but also decide?

After all, the argument goes, technological advances, leading to greater automation
and mechanisation, are making more and more of humanity redundant, in the process
causing hideous social and environmental harm.

This was highlighted again last week with reports about Japanese scientist Hiroshi Ishiguro who has made a robot double of himself that can deliver lectures.

Mining companies and farming interests have also, in recent weeks, made it clear that
increased wages will mean greater mechanisation and fewer jobs, accelerating a
process that is probably unstoppable.

But, as some labour activists agued in this column in June, the very same technological advances have turned the world into a village in terms of communication.

That makes South Africa a small region of that village and, despite gross disparities of income and minimal home internet connections, more than 12 million South African adults now regularly use the internet.

This figure comes from a major survey published last week. It reveals that these
internet users access this means of almost instant communication by means of cell
phones, computers based at schools, universities or other institutions and at internet

In other words, the means now exist for citizens en masse to hear about, discuss, analyse, and make decisions about their lives.he missing ingredient is organisation.

Because, on the basis of available technology, union locals, religious communities, schools and communities could be transformed into democratic hubs where citizens debate, discuss and vote on all matters concerning them — and instruct recallable members of government to
implement majority decisions.

This is an idea that will not feature at Magaung, but one that may become much more
prominent within the labour movement, especially in the wake of the recent wildcat

These have been a wake-up call to unions: in order to remain relevant, they should look to their democratic roots and assess how best to return to them.

The technical resources exist.

Only imagination and political will are missing.

Terry Bell



Right2Know campaign voted newsmaker

December 6 2012 
By Carol Hills

R2K nov 22

INLSA: The Right2Know campaign protested in front of Parliarment earlier this year. File Picture: Courtney Africa


The Right2Know campaign has been voted Johannesburg Press Club 2012 newsmaker of the year.

“It’s a victory for people’s power,” Right2Know (R2K) Gauteng spokeswoman Jayshree Pather said on Thursday, accepting the award at Wits Business School, in Johannesburg.

“What lies ahead is, I think, many other struggles and as Right2Know we’re committed to… eternal vigilance,” she said.

Johannesburg Press Club chairman Mixael de Kock said the R2K coalition, comprising more than 400 organisations with 30,000 members, had “relentlessly pursued the public’s right to understand the full scope of the Protection of State Information Bill and how it would impact the media and every citizen of this country”.

It had shown “extraordinary courage, commitment and consistency” in ensuring the issues it tackled received news coverage.

“Access to information, as well as freedom of expression and association, are hard-won rights which are enshrined in the South African constitution.

“These values were continuously reiterated, restated and reported by the coalition,” he said.

Pather said every single committee meeting in Parliament had been full to capacity with R2K people monitoring “every single step of the way what happened with the Secrecy Bill”.

The amended Protection of State Information Bill, known as the Secrecy Bill, was adopted by 34 votes to 16 by the National Council of Provinces at the end of November and will go back to the National Assembly in the new year, where it is likely to be passed with ease by the ANC majority

At the time, R2K and opposition parties vowed that, if this happened, they would ask the Constitutional Court to overturn the legislation,

Pather said when R2K started two years ago, it was considered at best alarmist and at worst, a traitor.

“Right2Know has been accused of being counter-revolutionaries, agents of western imperialism, but the reality is all that we’ve achieved in the two years has been achieved, really through the tireless and selfless energy, passion and commitment of hundreds and hundreds of people,” she said.

“I think what we’ve seen unfold… has proven that we’ve been right to say there’s a real threat to our democracy, that there’s an increasing veil of secrecy descending upon all aspects of our lives….

“I mean its unbelievable, and much of it we don’t even know, but what we’ve seen again is the increased attack on civil society.”

She said mainstream civil society organisations were now being accused of many of the things only Right2Know had been accused of in the past.

“… Organisations that are working to support the state in a range of different areas are now being attacked because we’re independent, because we’re critical.”

The award was for a strengthened civil society, said Pather.

“It’s to acknowledge the work of all of these organisations, who work against great odds, under very difficult circumstances and so it’s a very important… thing for all of civil society.”

Other nominees for the award were Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and her team, and Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

A Special Mention Award was made to Madonsela, who received the newsmaker award in 2011, for being the second person ever to be nominated twice in consecutive years.

The other double nominee was former president Nelson Mandela. – Sapa



BEHIND THE FARMWORKERS´ STRIKE: The failure of the ANC´s land reform in South Africa

The failure of land reform in South Africa

By Iqra Qalam and Joshua Lumet 
6 December 2012

Almost two decades after the end of apartheid in South Africa, the failure of the agrarian reform policies of the African National Congress (ANC) has exposed the bourgeois nationalist liberation movement’s inability to resolve the land question.

The land reform promise was encapsulated in the ANC’s 1955 Freedom Charter, the movement’s main statement of principles and program. It was advanced in order to garner the political support of the rural poor. The ANC claimed that “all the land (would be) re-divided amongst those who work it to banish famine and land hunger” and that “the state shall help the peasants with implements, seed, tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the tillers”, and that the rural masses would be entitled to “the right to occupy land wherever they choose”.

After 1994, the ANC promised to undertake broad and sweeping action to reverse the deprivations institutionalized under Apartheid. These promises were outlined in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), a policy framework developed through extensive consultation between the ANC and its tripartite alliance partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). It contained government policy guidelines for agricultural and land reform.

The RDP’s land reform goals had three broad thrusts. The first was the strengthening of tenure rights for the rural poor. Second, land restitution was to be made to those who could prove that their or their family’s land had been stolen under Apartheid. And the third was to redistribute 30 percent of agricultural land to the rural poor. All three goals were to be achieved before the year 2000. More than a decade after this deadline, none of these goals have been realized.

The land restitution promised that people who were forced off their land from 1913 (when the Native Land Act was passed) until the end of Apartheid would have their property rights reinstated. The process itself was a farce. Poorly advertised, most people were unaware that the deadline for lodging restitution claims was to close at the end of 1996. Late registration was not permitted, hence the vast majority of forced removal victims were never considered for restitution. Among the tiny minority who did apply, 8,770 claims have yet to be settled; despite promises that the restitution process would be completed by 2005.

In many of the restitution cases, the primary beneficiary has died and consequently their children and grandchildren have become joint beneficiaries. Worn down by endless bureaucracy, and countless delays, many have opted for a meager cash payment in lieu of the valuable prime urban land from which they were forcibly removed.

There are currently 500,000 subsistence farmers, struggling to eke out a living, and an additional 11 million rural poor who have not benefitted from land reform. There has been no mass transfer of agricultural land; instead the rural poor have been forced to migrate to the cities, living in squalid overcrowded townships, searching for work. Some of the rural poor find employment in the mines. Much of their meager income is repatriated to the rural areas in order to sustain families living on the brink of starvation.Since 1996, only 7 percent of the land—as opposed to the target of 30 percent—has been transferred. Of the land that has been redistributed to black farmers, 90 percent of farms are no longer productive. Agriculture is a capital intensive process, requiring tractors, implements, seed, fertilizer as well as technical assistance. These land reform support services have not been forthcoming.

In addition, the redistribution of land is governed by the 1996 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa—Section 25—which states that property may only be expropriated “subject to compensation, the amount of which and the time and manner of payment of which have either been agreed to by those affected or decided or approved by a court”.

In order to divert attention away from the inability of the ANC to implement land reform, the ANC took a decision to scrap the willing buyer, willing seller principle at its June conference this year, with President Jacob Zuma claiming this principle was the major impediment to implementing land reform. Following the June conference, the president released a five point land reform plan to “speed up” the process, which included a provision for buying land at 50 percent of its market value, or at a “fair productive value”.

The Financial Mail wrote that the President would have been aware that such statements could impact heavily on investor confidence. “The party was therefore careful to stress that the speeding up of land reform would be done in accordance with the Constitution, without alarming investors or putting the country at risk,” according to the newspaper.“Unfortunately, a lot of what is being said by the president is heavy on rhetoric and short on detail,” Ruth Hall, senior researcher at the University of the Western Cape’s institute for poverty, land and agrarian studies told the Mail & Guardiannewspaper.

While Hall commended the government’s attempts to speed up land reform, she argued that the process needed to be handled very carefully. “Setting up localised partnerships is a vital ingredient to the process of equitable land reform,” said Hall. “But, how exactly commercial farmers will become involved in a process that is encouraging them to accept below market value is the big question.”

Johannes Moller, president of Agri SA—South Africa’s largest agricultural trade association—described the current proposals for land reform as “dangerous and unworkable”.

“We think we should stick to market value-based land reform. If not, the security needed for a replacement industry for farmers leading the sector will be lost and you will be faced with further unemployment and other related problems,” Moller said.

Moller added that this approach could also lead to banks and other investment institutions becoming wary of placing funds in agriculture. This process could then lead to the agriculture industry in South Africa being crippled by strike action that has thus far only plagued the Western Cape province.

Research by Princeton University professor Bernadette Atuahene, who worked with South Africa’s department of land affairs and rural development, claims that there are two reasons why the ANC has had little success with the expropriation of land, and therefore its land reform policies—it is reluctant to do so, and the constraints imposed by the constitution. Reassuring international investors, Hall said the changes announced in June were not much more than a “political maneuver” and do not signal a new era of land reform.

Farmer Charl Senekal, South Africa’s largest sugar cane producer, said any attempts to facilitate the sale of land below market should not be entertained. “It is enshrined in our Constitution that we will be paid a market value rate for our land,” he told the Mail & Guardian newspaperSenekal also warned about the possibility of food insecurity emerging in the country’s agricultural industry if government did not buy land at market value.

“If farmers lose interest in this industry when they see the opportunity for success is dwindling, that will immediately lead to food insecurity and if you thought the disquiet in the mining sector was bad—you haven’t seen the worst of what will come,” he said.Senekal was referring to the wildcat strike in the mining industry, which led to the August 16 Marikana massacre, where 34 miners were massacred by the South African Police Services (SAPS). Subsequently, farm labourers in the Western Cape province initiated their own strike action aimed at increasing the current minimum wage, which is set at R69 (US$7.85) per day, to R150 per day ($16.70).The failure the ANC’s land redistribution policies has a direct bearing on the militant strike action by farm workers. Underlying the demand for the wage increase is the question of land reform, and the promised better life for all.

Despite the promises of “equality” and “democracy”, the fall of Apartheid has ushered in a new era of misery and social degradation. The most elementary aspiration of the rural poor, the desire for land, has been unfulfilled. The ANC, as handmaiden of the capitalist ruling elite, on the one hand protects with brutal violence the inviolable right to private property enshrined in the Constitution, while on the other hand deceiving the rural poor into waiting for Godot—an endless wait for something that will never come.

Between two conflicting principles—the right of the rich to amass their fortunes and the right of all people to a better life—there can be no compromise. In the words of Karl Marx, “Between equal rights, force decides.” The question of land reform will only be decided by the struggle of classes.

In the Permanent Revolution, Trotsky wrote “With regard to countries with a belated bourgeois development, especially the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the theory of the permanent revolution signifies that the complete and genuine solution of their tasks of achieving democracy and national emancipation is conceivable only through the dictatorship of the proletariat as the leader of the subjugated nation, above all of its peasant masses.”

The only way forward for a completion of the democratic and national emancipation tasks posed most sharply prior to the fall of Apartheid is through socialist revolution. All major financial, industrial and manufacturing corporations as well as industries critical to the basic functioning of society—including agriculture, telecommunications, education, health care and transportation—must be subject to public ownership and democratic control.

The struggle for power requires the unconditional political independence of the working class from the parties, political representatives and agents of the capitalist class. The working class cannot come to power, let alone implement a socialist program, if its hands are tied by politically enfeebling compromises with the political representatives of other class interests.

What is required is a new leadership in the working class based on an internationalist and socialist perspective to carry through the fight for genuine democracy, equality and socialism.



Farmworker strike not over: Coalition

December 6 2012 at 04:28pm 

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The Western Cape farmworker strike about labour conditions is far from over, a coalition claiming to represent farmworkers said on Thursday.

“We reject the ‘secret deal’ entered into between the ANC government and Cosatu at the expense of the poor,” said Farmworkers’ Strike Coalition head Mario Wanza.

“Cosatu did not have a mandate to act on behalf of the coalition and to conclude an agreement in the name of Agri-SA.”

The coalition originally consisted of Cosatu, non-unionised workers in Zolani, Bonnievale, De Doorns, Worcester, Robertson and Nkubela, and organisations such as Women on Farms, Sikhula Sonke and the Black Association of the Wine and Spirit Industry.

However, at a meeting in Stellenbosch on Wednesday evening, the coalition decided to kick out Cosatu, because it had failed to attend meetings.

“People are back at work, but we’re now going to all the farming towns and farms to get people prepared, and we will rally on December 16 in Robertson or Worcester, deciding where to go from there,” Wanza said.

“We’re saying to the ANC and Cosatu: You’ve missed your opportunity to take people in your confidence. We will fight for society to liberate and embrace the farmworkers.”

Unrest in the sector started in early November, with farmworkers demanding an increase in their daily minimum wage from R69 to R150, and improved living conditions.

The protests soon spread to 15 other towns, and left two people dead.

Farmworkers suspended the strike for two weeks to allow the Employment Conditions Commission to review the sectoral determination for agriculture, which stipulates minimum wages, number of leave days, working hours, and termination rules among others.

Many workers resumed striking on Tuesday after Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said it would be impossible to address their demands by their Tuesday deadline.

Cosatu announced on the evening of the strike that it would pursue no further action after it reached an agreement with Agri-SA to conduct negotiations on a farm-by-farm basis.

Talks would be about the R150 a day wage demand and a profit-sharing scheme.

If no agreement was reached by January 9, workers on those farms would strike again.

Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said on Wednesday that these farm-to-farm pay talks were a “stop-gap measure” to restore peace until sectoral wage talks in March.

Cosatu’s Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich was not immediately available to respond.

He previously said it was Cosatu, and not Wanza’s coalition, which represented the majority view of workers in the sector. -Sapa



Saccawu begins strike at OK, House & Home

Picture: THE TIMES
Picture: THE TIMES

In this article

THE South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) on Thursday embarked on a three-day, protected, limited-duration strike against OK Furnishers and House & Home, divisions of the JSE-listed Shoprite Holdings.

The union is demanding a basic salary of R4,000 for sales advisers, the scrapping of minimum performance standards and the payment of commission to carpet estimators on fitting charges and for all sold items.

“The workers all gathered at the local union offices this morning where they were briefed on various aspects related to the strike and rules etc,” Saccawu spokesman Mike Abrahams told Business Day.

“From tomorrow (Friday), they will most probably be picketing at stores. After the eighth December workers will assess management’s response to the strike and decide what the action will be thereafter,” he said.

Saccawu members numbering in their “hundreds” marched to OK Furnishers’ head office in Johannesburg last month to hand over a memorandum of demands to management, the union said.

“The company was given 72 hours to respond. The arrogant and hardline response from the company, a common trend amongst bosses – from mining to farming – simply stated: ‘as regards the demands contained in the memorandum, the company wishes to reiterate that your demands are not acceptable’,” said Saccawu.

The union has demanded a R4,000 basic salary for sales advisers, the scrapping of minimum performance standards, and the payment of commission to carpet estimators on fitting charges and for all sold items.

Shoprite Holdings was unavailable for comment.