Advance and Defend the National Democratic Revolution!

COSATU Eastern Cape Provincial Shop Stewards Council

16 April 2011

Input By Comrade Irvin Jim

Numsa General Secretary and COSATU CEC Member

Leaders of the ANC Led Revolutionary Alliance

Shopstewards from all the affiliates of Cosatu gathered today

Invited guests

Members of the media

Allow me to start by inviting all of us to stand and observe a moment of silent in honour of one of the world’s and Africa’s greatest fighting communist revolutionary, Comrade Martin Tembisile Chris Hani and all the other fallen heroes and heroines of our Revolutions!

Comrades and guests, April is an important month in our calendar as revolutionary formations of the ANC led Alliance.

In April, we remember the brutal and cowardly assassination of Comrade Chris Hani on the 10th of April 1993, in Boksburg, Johannesburg. This savage act, as we all must know, greatly contributed to securing the 27 April 1994 general elections in South Africa.

I, therefore, want to invite the leadership of COSATU in the Eastern Cape gathered at this Shopsteward’s Council to dedicate this Council to the memory of Comrade Chris Hani.

Comrade Chris Hani was a brave, fearless Communist Revolutionary who was not afraid to die for his beliefs. He freely took up arms to defend his people from the Apartheid brutality and to advance the struggles of the working class.

Comrade Chris Hani loved to read, and he read deeply from the Books of Karl Marx, Lenin, Fredrick Engels and many similar giants of the world’s socialist revolutionary literature.

Comrade Chris Hani loved his people and the working class struggle so much that at a time when many of our leaders preparing themselves to move into high paying government and private sector jobs, Chris chose to work from the humble offices of the South African Communist Party, SACP.

It is time, this month, to ask ourselves, all of us, the fundamental question: how many of us today are driven by a burning passion to lift our people from their brutal capitalist oppression and exploitation? How many of us today are willing to pay the ultimate price, death, because of our beliefs in socialism, in Communism? How many of us today would gladly give up our jobs, our positions of power in the unions, in the ANC, SACP, SANCO, government and the private sector?

In short, Comrades, how many of us today are genuine revolutionaries? I invite this Council to answer this question.

Comrade Chris Hani paid the ultimate price – he shed his blood so that this a country could be free, and live in peace.

A. On the State of the Alliance in the Eastern Cape

Allow me, Comrades, to make a few comments on the state of the ANC led Alliance in the Eastern Cape. Allow me to be as brutally frank as the situation demands.

For a long time now, the Eastern Cape has suffered from serious leadership crisis entirely of our own making. We in the Eastern Cape are famous, after 1994, for failing to unite all our people and the working class behind a revolutionary social and economic programme to lift them out of their poverty.

After 1994, the dominant feature of politics in the Eastern Cape is a pathological focus on individuals and factions at the expense of advancing working class and rural poor peoples’ class struggles and strategic programmatic focus.

We love in the Eastern Cape, to bring each other down. We spend a lot of time talking about one another, character assassinating each other, and plotting every day, to remove those in office from power. We work in factions. We like to whisper bad things about each other.

We do not advance unity, revolutionary theory and practice. Rather, we are always too busy dividing our people along individual, factional and regional lines.

Today, the local government list process has exposed just how disunited we are.

All the major divisions in the ANC have serious origins in the Eastern Cape. Holomisa and his UDM were born and are truly found only in the Eastern Cape. Cope was cooked in the Eastern Cape. Others have even suggested that the PAC was fermented in the Eastern Cape!

When one attempt to dig deeper, to try and understand the roots of the divisions in the Eastern one is very disappointed: it is impossible to find any fundamental ideological let alone philosophical differences between the various factions or warring groups. The differences are always embedded in a struggle for power by individuals who then gather around themselves a following.

It is in the Eastern Cape where “Comrades” sit down to plot to kill each other, and sometimes they actually succeed. It is in the Eastern Cape where “Comrades” spread malicious rumours about each other all the time. It is in the Eastern Cape where “Comrades” threw away all the revolutionary literature a long time ago, and now spend all their time plotting to oust those in office as a political career.

This kind of politics perfectly serves the interests of corruption, fraud, tender manipulation, nepotism and plain bribery and the destruction of our liberation movement. Thus it is not by accident that we have become famous as a most corrupt province. This kind of politics is dangerous lumpen petty bourgeois politics. It is the looters politics. It is parasitic. It has failed to develop the province.

For a province as poor as the Eastern Cape, it is a mark of extreme political immaturity, anti-revolutionary, and thoroughly backwards, to advance politics of the individual at the expense of the interests of the working class and the poor we all must serve. Today, the lack of development in the province, despite its unique historic causes, this is also perpetuated by our extremely backward politics and failure to unite behind a revolutionary programme to lift our people out of their quagmire.

You, the Shopstewards, are charged with the revolutionary duty to combat the liberal tendencies of corruption, fraud, character assignation, individualism, factionalism, regionalism and all forms of behaviour which serve to promote disunity among our people and in our formations.

We cannot afford the liberal tendencies described above, in this province. Our people are not fools. Soon they will begin to run away from us if we do not change our politics. We are destroying our movement. It is time to change. It is time to combat the dangerous liberal tendencies which are keeping this province backwards. It is time to renew our revolutionary credentials! It is time to unite the liberation movement in this province.

United in pursuit of our demand for a Socialist Republic of South Africa, ably guided by our Marxist- Leninist ideology, combined with our love for the struggle to emancipate the working class from their class oppression and exploitation, we can defeat all these negative divisive liberal tendencies in COSATU and the liberation movement at large.

B. On the state of the Eastern Cape

Comrades, let me briefly paint a sketch of the Eastern Cape as I know it.

The Province continues to suffer the following:

  • Historically rooted, widespread mass urban and rural poverty.
  • Extreme marginalisation from the rest of the national economy and society as a result of its historic place in the English and Africana governments and economies.
  • Massive social services backlogs.
  • An extremely impoverished rural hinterland especially in the former Transkei.
  • Extreme dependence on the state, auto and service sectors all of which are incapable of delivering the kind and numbers of jobs required to lift the people of the province out of their poverty.
  • Weak provincial fiscus.
  • The historic education and health challenges,
  • Massive poverty, inequality and service delivery challenges in local government.
  • On-going de-industrialization and job losses that has been exacerbated by the economic crisis.

Our industrial base in the province is shrinking fast. We are losing jobs every day, in all our economic sectors:

  • The Eastern Cape manufacturing sector has declined from about 300,000 jobs to presently about 100,000 jobs.
  • Statistics show that the Eastern Cape has been the most heavily affected province by the global economic crisis, with 119 000 jobs lost year-on-year by the 4th Quarter of 2009. Of these, 95 000 jobs were lost in the formal sector, mostly in manufacturing, and 24 000 jobs in the informal sector.
  • Fifty seven per cent (57%) of households depend on social grants. This is neither acceptable nor is it sustainable.
  • We are experiencing, consistently, low levels of real industrial growth and investments.
  • As a result of negative perceptions, the province continues to suffer lower levels of capital inflows compared to similar poor rpovinces.

In our rural areas the picture is equally terrible:

  • Infrastructure backlogs are massive (estimated at R80 billion in OR Tambo alone),
  • Productive capability almost negligible, unresolved land issues and bottlenecks worrying, with extremely weak governance systems and capacity in the local state.
  • Historical patronage networks and reactionary local power elites also inhibit progressive social change.
  • At current funding and delivery capacity levels, provincial and local government will not in and of themselves turn this situation around, even in the medium term.
  • Numerous past initiatives driven by national government such as the Wild Coast SDI and the ISRDP have not yielded results.
  • What we need is renewed political will to turn this situation around.

The ultimate picture is one of a province steeped in deep-seated poverty, massive inequality, apartheid distribution of populations along racial lines, a very poor rural population with extreme forms of exploitation and oppression of farm workers.

Comrades, imagine that with all these development challenges, we, the so called revolutionaries, are everyday busy practicing the divisive, corrupt liberal politics I have described above!

C. On the state of local government in the Eastern Cape

At local government levels, a quick look will reveal the following:

  • Infrastructure backlogs are massive (estimated at R80 billion in OR Tambo alone).
  • Productive capability almost negligible.
  • Huge unresolved land issues and bottlenecks.
  • Extremely weak governance systems and capacity in the local state,
  • Historical patronage networks and reactionary local power elites also inhibit progressive social change.
  • At current funding and delivery capacity levels, provincial and local government will not in and of themselves turn this situation around, even in the medium term.
  • Corruption, fraud, maladministration and low levels of popular democratic oversight.
  • Numerous past initiatives driven by national government such as the Wild Coast SDI and the ISRDP have not yielded the required results.

D. What do we want for the Eastern Cape?

The political leadership of the ANC in the Province has informed us that they are ready and prepared to fight for the following:

  • Designing and implementing measures to address the challenges in provincial government, especially relating to the fiscal crisis and challenges in health and education;
  • Developing and implementing measures to urgently address critical local government hotspots and challenges in strategic municipalities ahead of the Local Government elections
  • Implementing hegemonic provincial infrastructure and employment projects with a view to leverage increased state (and private) investment to address structural and systemic weakness in the provincial economy.
  • Fast tracking the implementation of turning around strategies for our municipalities.

I must warn this Council that none of these things can happen if we continue to pursue divisive and backward liberal politics!

E. What do we want for local government?

We of COSATU fully endorse the ANC Local Government Manifesto and its objectives for local government.

Together with the ANC, SACP SANCO and the rest of the mass democratic movement, in 2009, COSATU worked hard to ensure that the following, taken directly from the Polokwane Resolutions, became the strategic manifesto objectives of the ANC in the 2009 national elections:

  1. Creating decent work and sustainable livelihoods;
  2. Education;
  3. Health;
  4. Rural development and agrarian reform; and
  5. The fight against crime and corruption.

We are happy that in the 2011 18 May elections the ANC has translated these goals into its local government Manifesto and says it will advance the following:

  1. Building local economies to create more employment, decent work and sustainable livelihoods;
  2. Improving local public services and broadening access to them;
  3. Building more united, non-racial, integrated and safer communities;
  4. Promoting more active community participation in local government; and
  5. Ensuring more effective, accountable and clean local government that works together with national and provincial government.

Every member of a union affiliated to COSATU must have this information, understand it, and use it to advance the National Democratic Revolution at the local level of government.

But further, we at COSATU say the following:

  1. In the next term of local government, Cosatu will insist that the ANC led Alliance must revisit the Constitution and local government legislation with a view to firming up popular democratic control of budgets and social and economic development planning.
  2. Only ANC local government can stop the privatisation of local government as it is unconstitutional and it negates the constitutional demand for a developmental local government.
  3. Labour broking, outsource of developmental functions of local government must come to an end.
  4. No political party other than the ANC can ensure that the procurement processes are in line with the strategic objective of the Polokwane Resolutions: to grow decent jobs in South Africa.
  5. Primitive accumulation at the local level of the state is not a moral issue; it is a class and economic issue. As long as the local state remains the most lucrative and accessible site for primitive accumulation in the absence of a radical developmental programme for the working class and the poor, we will never root out corruption and primitive accumulation at local government level. The ANC led Alliance will work tirelessly to root out corruption from local government.
  6. Only an ANC local government can promote local content in all manufacturing processes within their municipalities.
  7. A radical public transport development programme must be part of our developmental goals for the next term of office of councils. Such a programme must aim to modernise public transport for the poor and the working class, be related to creating decent and sustainable integrated human settlements close to economic activities.
  8. Massive investments in housing, road, and school and health infrastructure must underpin our struggle to undo the gross inequalities in the racial, gender and class distribution and access to these infrastructures. Only the ANC government can achieve this.
  9. It is unacceptable that 16 years after 1994, there is no perceptible, visible movement towards real racial, gender, age and class integration of our communities. African women, African youth and African disabled people continue to be confined to the rural hinterlands, margins of our cities and in shacks, and bear the brunt of expensive distances to economic and social opportunities. Only the ANC in Local Government can achieve all this.
  10. A special infrastructure fund to be established to deal with social and economic infrastructure backlogs in rural municipalities and poor urban municipalities. The ANC government has already set this aside for the next three years.
  11. An urgent need exists to arrest the mushrooming of illegal gated “local governments” for the rich. This amounts to Apartheid by other means, even if there is a sprinkling of black people live in these places. Land use planning processes at the municipality level, provincial and national, must prohibit the growth of gated communities. Only the ANC government, working with Cosatu and the SACP can stop this.
  12. Working together with the ANC government Cosatu will fight the insulation of the rich from the mass poverty they have created. Municipalities, through their social and economic planning processes must promote racial, gender and class integration. Only the ANC government with the support of the working class can stop the growth of this scourge.
  13. Cosatu will work with the ANC and the SACP to ensure that municipalities through the use of rates and other taxes, must influence rentals to enable the working class to live close to their work places.
  14. Only the ANC Manifesto has special measures on the development and support of rural communities and enterprises.
  15. The rural populations must find clear expression to their development needs in the Local Government Manifesto, and programmes after the elections. The tendency has been to underplay rural municipalities development needs.
  16. Only the ANC Manifesto clearly speaks to the need to give more power to the ward level of our system of government, thus empowering communities to participate in decision making at local levels.
  17. Only the ANC Manifesto champions and promotes decentralised, participatory democratic planning.


F. Our attitude to the 18 May Local Government Elections

Comrades, we at COSATU are neither cowardly nor are we defeatist. We understand fully our class challenges today. We easily acknowledge our weaknesses. We know the challenges inside the ANC and its Alliance. And we know what our revolutionary duties are. We know what our revolutionary duty in the coming local government elections is.

Comrades, we cannot afford, as the working class, to be defeated either by the extremely corrupt parasitic class of capitalists inside the liberation Alliance or in the rest of the country. We cannot hand over any of our municipalities to the DA or any of the disorganised capitalist opposition parties.

We cannot allow, as Comrade Blade Nzimande recently warned us when delivering the Chris Hani Memorial Lecture, to be defeated either by the new tendency of tenderprenueres or the right wing DA hatred of majoritarian democracy.

We must defend the National Democratic Revolution. We must win the local government elections to advance our class struggles. We have no options but to defeat the right wing inside and outside the liberation movement.

Ours is a hard, long and difficult struggle: it is the class struggle to defeat capitalism.

We must retain the ANC in local government. This is our revolutionary duty today.


Irvin Jim

Numsa GS and COSATU CEC Member

16th April 2011