This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
SACP Pre mini conference report
Hello to Jean/Mars 4may :herewith a copy of a report which the Doris CC had on hand for dispatch to Mikes. you will notice that in submitting the report to Kay I have added certain introductory remarks (caps below) which I think you should also look at. These remarks raise certain issues which I would very much like us to exchange views on with you and to see whether there is a basis for a common understanding amongst us. At the same time they foreshadow a topic which I think should feature at the mini. But more on this when I respond more fully to your suggestions re mini. I have made these intro remarks without even having had opportunity to exchange views with Joe who is pretty tied up at moment but hope to acquaint him with report & remarks as soon as we can get him to sit down and read.
Herewith is a report which we collected from the CC group at Doris's when Theo went down recently to establish contact. We are sending this to you without having had our incipient family group look at it because certainly at this transitionary stage you have a better idea of their past and we believe that currently Laura is in Botswana (we assume possibly also to see Pete). Anyway gradually we will start looking at these reports and try to help the comrades on the ground while at the same time keeping you fully in the picture. With regard to the enclosed report we understand that Leonard (Steve) gave the list of real names to Ray S. to pass on to you and that the enclosed report was supposed to follow at the first opportunity.
At the same time Steve mentioned with some concern on his part that he had been seen by Ray S. who stated that she had a mandate from centre to get him to call together all trade unionists who are family members in order presumably to start working with them. He was concerned because he seemed to feel that this was a bit irregular at least in the sense that they had not been informed in advance. As I said earlier i have not yet shared this report with Daniels and Marsha - hopefully they will get it in a day or so but at this stage i think i would like to raise the following concerns. As you will see from the report
(a) the family grouping at Doris's reflects as its membership only a part of the family members (the African sector does not feature and so far in my discussions with Steve it was clear that part of the problem was that Maria/Sally seems to handle this sector with a closed fist, has not revealed whose in it to the CC members and treats it as here special province, with the consequence that at you will see in the report she is put "in charge" of the African sector.);
(b) in any event I think that when we are talking of a party of a new type, when we are talking of a mass-sassed party rooted in the working class and in particular in the black working class and the militant youth and I would add sections of the radical intellectuals, then we have to look again at all the subcommittees that we have hitherto created/maintained. In particular as an example I think it is nonsense to have an industrial sub-committee made
up solely of trade unionists who constitute themselves as virtually a decision making body and not a recommendatory body - the flaws arising from such a composition are almost self-evident because the trade union movement, which it is the duty of every party member to strengthen, is a primary mass formation of the working class but should never be equated with the working class; such a body also tends to look inwards, gets involved in the quarrels and tensions within and between unions (which tasks the trade union movement should learn itself to attend to) and in any event leaves the leadership of the party and the rest of the membership with the false idea that their tasks relate to all the other strata - that is the non-working class;
(c) and as you will see from the report also that even the CC's plans to establish an industrial sub-committee takes the form of going back a few steps in the party from where we had moved outside; not to make the industrial subcommittee the body charged with recruitment of organized workers but to be a recommendatory body about strategy and tactics relating to the radicalization of the trade union movement and the strengthening of the trade union movement.
(d) in this context if you have given Ray S. the mandate she claims then I very much fear you have unleashed another unguided missile in the whole situation and once again we are going to have to pick up the pieces and keep doing the mopping up. I am not saying that there is no role for Ray but I am saying that we must take into account her age, etc side by side with her tremendous experience as well as the fact that as you so well put it the party cannot function as a broederbond in the ANC nor i would add in the trade union movement. So we are apprehensive about how many more Cas Saloojees we will end up with. You will of course notice also that the manner in which the Doris CC approaches the question of the special subcommittee re UDF and presumably very soon re ANC, whatever the intentions will in practice become structures that seek to control these mass formations. You will also see this reflected in the Sabata report which we hope to send to you as soon as possible.
However we shall discuss the matter here - and possibly even engage the mini-consultative conference on this type of problems not in any personal way and not revealing the way we have been structured hitherto but in terms of discussion around the topic "a party of the new type" and under this solicit views of the mini-conference which would include such aspects as how the party should be structured and how it should work amongst the masses as well as fraternal organizations. it is not clear at this stage how far you have discussed the matter at your end but it is my strong view that we have a unique opportunity in launching a legal party not to create more headaches for ourselves in the future by simply holus bolus replicating structures acquired hitherto. That if we allow ourselves to do so by omission would be to lose an opportunity as well as create a stronger resistance to change at a later stage.
It is in this context that i am raising these problems as an individual view and with an undertaking that we will act on the basis of your guidance.
The report follows………… .
Thank you for the recently arrived set of documents as well as note from May (Pete). All of this most welcome! It is now our turn.
In response to the brief note from Cde May to Sally (Dezi Angelis):
the documents referred to seem to have arrived but were destroyed by Steve's (Murray Mitchell) cousin before they could get to her. You should have a full report of that by now. It was precisely from discussion with my comrades that we requested documentation – this understanding was assumed from this end. Also point taken about a district report - now included here.
*. Cdes Sally, Steve and Laura (Zelda Holtzman) are each to convene at least one group. We are all responsible for literature distribution. We are to lead collectively with Sally as convenor. We are to receive reinforcements soonest (Aug 1989; This has not happened. Query?). Laura is to handle commo & in particular to set up an internal commo network to Jo'burg and amongst persons locally.
Overall to move from a holding operation to a more active, dynamic & purposeful one. Specific tasks:
*. to convene district;
*. to convene a township group to link with Laura above;
*. to liaise with James (Mike Evans) on matters of security and trial;
*. to deal with finances.
(i) a few interlinking problems mitigated against the district working as an effective collective: personal and political overextension; no clear political authority within the group hamstrung a flow of work. Stemming from the omission to submit a report in Dec as clearly requested, this group has met weekly.
Its first task in early Jan was to evaluate internally and to develop a POA for the ensuing months. This was to include an education programme so as to enhance the political life of the group. The evaluation proved most effective. An education programme was developed and some short term objectives were articulated. Then events overtook us! The weekly meetings have remained. Unit reports have been tabled and strengthening if not quite building has taken place. Collective approach to political and organisational practice remain a problem as do issues of overextension. In the very recent period, there is a clearer sense of focus to counteract overextension.
(ii) The township group has met about every two weeks. Documents and literature have been distributed and discussed. Literature does not reach the townships in abundance generally. Tasks set to this group have been to revitalize all forms of popular organizations in particular the civic and women's structures. A programme of education derived from literature is vital. It was made clear that there is a broader MDM grouping which would influence and be influenced by this grouping. Effectively this has not happened.
(iii) The women's org is growing with some impressive young African women. The org is not strong with three ideological nuances based on the Charter - old fashioned feminism, BC and a more clear Charter position. The major task at hand is to move into the national women's organisation. The CT interim reps are not strong and although the org is going into the national org, there is quite a bit of confusion. A small caucus is starting to develop a programme for this process. No regular ET work is happening in the organisation and this is reflected in some incidents of racism. A full women's report will be arriving with Cde Ray soon.
(iv) In horror I realize that as I write I am not in a position to provide a comprehensive report on state of organisation and broader township dynamics especially with the current changes. This will be provided with this next commo. But there is great concern amongst this group around issues of the ANC's regional exec. The central question is "Where is the ANC"? A fuller report of these issues is below.
(v) Discussion with James have centred largely round the Yengeni trialists - the trial has gone through a tense legal period ending with the sudden acquittals. It is now all water under the bridge and there is no point in submitting details now. Currently, various captured documents - in the nature of reports, code names for individuals, structures and localities have been submitted and admitted by no 2. Probably these will be used to show a conspiracy.
Further, the state has lead endless evidence on the nature of the various blasts but has been unable to link any of these to any individual. No. 2 has not be positively identified in an ID parade, even in court. The last state witness is now giving evidence then the states case closes. Probably the case will be over by mid-year under current conditions. James is to be in London for 3 months and contact arrangements are forwarded to you.
(vi) Finance stands at R1030 excluding R5000 referred to above. Money spent as follows - R2 500 for Laura's project: R2 220 for August travel: R970 for Steve's cousin's recent emergency. Nobody is paying subs!
1.2. Laura: Tasks
*. Identify and recruit comrades to work on non-personal communication (DLB Team)
*. Identify and recruit comrades to act as couriers for internal and external links
*. Develop internal communications system.
(ii) Link between DC and UDF unit
*. Act as a link between DC and UDF unit in such a way that this role is known only to the DC
(iii) UDF Unit
*. Develop and build this unit so that (a) working class politics/position is asserted within the MDM broadly and specifically;
(b) we can identify people sympathetic to our position and have a closer working relationship with them without necessarily recruiting such individuals;
(c) develop a conjunctural analysis of our regional and national situation and produce material/position papers, pamphlets etc to influence and develop our ideological position within the MDM.
*. Communication unit was set up consisting of two individuals.
*. Training in non-personal communication was given to this unit.
*. This unit has undertaken a task of successfully clearing a dlb.
(Both comrades remain very eager to continue this work)
*. The MDM unit took some time to convene because of the nature and composition of the group. Cde Steve convened a meeting with Cdes Laura and Faried (Tony Karom). The role of convenor of this unit was explained to Faried as well as the nature and function of the unit.
*. The first unit meeting was convened before Faried left for Europe. Present in the meeting were Cdes Bruce and Laura. Bruce stated that he was ideologically insecure but loyal to the party. This unit was to reconvene in the absence of Faried, and continue with ET sessions on communication and security. Only one meeting was held during this time attended by Cdes Bruce (Jonathan De Vries), Dionne (CC), and Laura. Both Cdes Bruce and Dionne felt that the tasks set were mammoth and that we lacked sufficient experience and stature to carry them out. They nevertheless stated that they would try by identifying sectors with which we have direct contact and influence vis á vis the coloured sector - youth, women, civics. The absence of a trade union person was noted with concern, as well as someone from the African townships.
*. On Faried's return, a unit meeting was convened with Cdes Faried, Dionne, Ken (David Abrahams) and Laura. Bruce was away at the time. Specific tasks were given to individuals:-
Cdes Ken and Dionne were to compile a report on the UDF which was to go to Centre;
Cde Laura was to work on a training programme on security and communication;
Cde Faried on political education, especially The Path to Power and the Eastern European situation.
*. At two subsequent meetings neither Cdes Ken nor Dionne had prepared their report because of overextension through UDF work.
*. Two further meetings were attended by only Cdes Faried and Laura.
*. This situation was very demoralising for the unit which hasn't convened subsequently. Cde Faried has been out of circulation for some time due to personal problems. This is compounded by ideological doubts. He has subsequently been instructed to take a complete break for 1 month. When he returns he will report on his situation in full. The prognosis is not good however. Cde Ken was sent to Canada for 6 weeks for work commitments. No warning was given. Cde Dionne now has additional responsibilities. Cde Bruce is socially and politically unstable. In effect this unit is not functioning at all. We need a serious and immediate rethink on the individuals and their role, present and future.
*. Cde Steve to recruit and put Cde Pam (Howard Gabriel) through probation till December
*. Cde George (Lionel October) to recruit and put Cde Maggie (Suliaman Isaacs) through probation till December
*. Constitute an Industrial Sub-core to be operative during January with Steve convening
*. This core to engage in two-fold task of attending to the broad political and strategic needs of Cosatu in the region, as well as spot, develop and recruit additional members
*. Care needed to be taken of Cde George's position, and therefore flexibility needed on his incorporation into this structure.
*. Cde Wallace's (William Peterson also known as Nosey) position would be resolved once such a core has become operative, but in the interim he would be kept informed and have access to literature
*. Cde Chris (Justine Quince) would be given literature while working in UWCO.
*. Cde George approached Cde Maggie and received a positive response except on the religion issue. However Maggie explained she was negotiating to leave her union to study as soon as possible, and refused to consider staying. This raised serious question of the purposefulness of continuing this option. Then the union came out on the national railway strike. Maggie became involved in the strike and contact was lost. Simultaneously, George was deeply embroiled in trying to resolve his own union's problems.
*. Cde Steve approached Cde Pam with positive results. A probationary programme started, covering - some theoretical issues (e.g. national question, events in Eastern Europe etc), basis of conspiratorial work, along with practical tasks (eg finding safe ANC houses, distribution of Umsebenzi, Mayibuye and ANC pamphlets). Pam has turned out to be a very reliable, serious-minded and hard-working probationer. She has also consistently attending meetings, and even when meeting times have clashed with her t.u. work, finding a way to present herself at a meeting place in order to explain the difficulty. The two have been meeting at least fortnightly, and sometimes more often.
*. In the interim, Cdes Steve and George had been meeting often but irregularly. Pressures on George late in 89 and early 90. in his union placed severe strain. As these have eased and been resolved, so he has been able to consistently apply himself to the tasks on hand. The ongoing 1-on-1 relationship (in this case as well as previously) also seems to lead to a lack of application.
*. Cde Steve has tried to keep contact with Cde Wallace alive. Many problems beset this arrangement. Wallace is deeply embroiled in the Fawu disputes. Often this is contrary to advice. He has been unable to work on his family tasks eg to establish a reference group of 5 workers around him to develop the unions ET structures. This is largely the result of overextension in a range of union and Cosatu matters. It does not result is serious building work. He has also developed a intermittent drinking and discipline problem. This lack of discipline affects others in his union, as well as in Cosatu and comments are sometimes picked up. It has also been referred in the present union disputes. Nevertheless his all-round abilities make him an exceptional worker leader with a lot of respect and support. As he is part of the newly-formed labour collective (see ff) we are hoping to address these questions there.
* Cde Steve keeps irregular contact with Chris and has passed on some literature to her. She will be leaving for a year with her husband to go to Canada in late August where he has a study bursary.
She is working in the women's organisation with consistency and seems to have won respect for this.
* Recently a decision was taken to bring Cdes Steve, George and Pam together as collective. We need to look at reinforcement.
(Question: Does Cde Zurina (now Sabrina = Lucy Abrahams) still have same status? Is she to be approached?) Already this collective is paying off: -
(a) They have started identifying worker leadership in various unions who could soon be approached to be part of Umsebenzi Discussion Circles, as this idea evolves in the new situation and the possibilities presented by above-board organising.
(b) They have formed a group of Cosatu leadership officials who all lean towards the pty. However, the group meets as an ANC collective, within which our family unit has a key role. Cde Pam convenes - The group consists of Comrades E. Fourie, M. Coetzee, M. Mitchell, N. Pieterse, L. October and H. Gabriel. Others approached to be present when available, include Cdes R. Bernikow, A Roberts, S. Manie and Robbie.
It is intended to expand where and when necessary, eg Cdes Lucy Abrahams, and Ray Alex. If possible. We are looking to have a discussion with them in the near future about this. The collective does not try to have "representatives" from each union, but is based rather on a shared political perspective. Past attempts to set up such arrangements have suffered from a lack of political homogeneity, and have lapsed into temporary caucuses trying to overcome immediate problems, rather than being able to develop long-term plans. Its tasks are to
(a) generally give strategic guidance to Cosatu and
(b) act as a platform from which to build structures within the t.u. movement.
There are glaring weaknesses: The base is extremely narrow, with no African trade union leaders; little worker leadership (only 2 workers, the others all being officials); inexperience and youth, which affects both the unions and Cosatu, as well as UDF structures.
On the first point there is sensitivity not to cross what seem in many individual instances to be SACTU networks. This is being seriously looked at. Family members from the township are discussing who is to be approached from their side and how. We hope also that Cde Ray will be able to guide in the immediate future.
On the issue of lack of worker leadership - this is a W. Cape problem with deep roots. Nevertheless a concerted attempt must be made to address this, and it is part of the programme of this collective to start solving it. A few options are available (see ff).
The last point (youthfulness and inexperience) needs to be constantly borne in mind and worked on. Our comrades often forget this, and sometimes make decisions which tend to be "leftist" and leaves them isolated (eg the disputes after the SACTWU launch can be ascribed to this). They also run into problems with peers who resent what they see to be arrogance. We have discussed this now on many occasions, especially early in the year in resolving the SACTWU debacle, and there seems to be greater openness and sensitivity on the issue.
* The group as a whole has assessed Cosatu in the region and come up with a proposed programme of action to deal collectively with the situation. As the family we intend to play a leading role in this, and then to use this in order to establish our networks.
* Brief Assessment of Cosatu in the Region
a) The main tendency amongst leadership has been to respond to issues, usually on an individualistic basis, and very seldom in a collective way. Where this has occurred, then the collective has soon come unstuck, not being able to take the initiative.
b) Nevertheless, a political shift has taken place within the region, and in fact we are better placed to control key positions than ever before. This is happening especially within the Cosatu structures (eg at least 50% of REC supportive; or Reg.Sec. and ET portfolios), but there is also opening up within unions themselves.
c) The unions themselves are generally very weak. The percentage of organised workers is very low in relation to the potential. This applies to unorganised as well as organised sectors (eg paper/wood; esp. public sector unions -SARWHU, POTWA, NEHAWU. The exception here is SAMWU).
d) Working class leadership is extremely weak. This is reflected
(i) in the almost nonexistent number of individual workers who operate as leadership or as activists and command respect. This profoundly affects the politics of the region. It is also reflected
(ii) in the lack of a vision of Cosatu and the Trade Union Movement as a whole, its relationship to other forces in the MDM eg UDF, and thus not being able to implement its own, Cosatu, let alone MDM programme of action.
e) Much more progress needs to be made in building unity in the region.
(i) The arrangement of bringing together the "Big 4" (SACTWU, SAMWU, NUMSA and FAWU) unions to hammer out an agreed programme of action and set of resolutions before the Cosatu Congress in March, opened new lines of communication, as well as established some new basis of trust between them;
(ii) Unity also needs to be firmly established between Cosatu and UDF and now ANC. A discussion needs to be held soon in order to prevent possible tensions which might arise over the alliance, and what support the unions are going to give in the region to building ANC (and the Party). The ANC in particular needs to be built with a strong working class component as it moves onto the "negotiating terrain".
f) A means needs to be developed to group all the ANC-supporting activists within the trade union movement. There is a large number of them, yet at present they have no political home nor reference point. The ANC Regional leadership is requesting the trade unions to forward names of workers so that they may be signed up in local residential areas. Our feeling is that this should be encouraged, but that the additional process of creating an industrial grouping (combining ANC members within Cosatu (And why not the unions outside of Cosatu?) on a factory, or industrial zone basis) is also very important. We think this will considerably strengthen Cosatu politically, as well as potentially introduce an important element into the ANC structures in the W Cape which are presently looking like an updated UDF.
* Areas Needing Attention
In order to begin solving the above problems, we feel that the following things need to be done:
a) Interventions: The collective will need to continually assess the developing situation and make appropriate interventions.
b) Developing cadres: There is a need to develop a cadre policy for the development of individuals in both formal and informal ways. This applies to the individuals within such a leadership collective as well as other additional layers as they develop. We need to make use of all educational possibilities. Cosatu itself, as well as the unions need to introduce dynamic educational programmes. They should also seek outside assistance when and where necessary. This can be done through groups, reading material circulated, and 1-on-1 contact.
c) Cosatu PoA: Cosatu needs to find a way of transforming the resolutions taken at the Congress into a programme with campaigns. At this stage it focuses on the Anti-LRA, Civics, Transport, and the Workers Charter. All of this within the context of the needs of the ANC in entering the terrain of negotiations and working towards a popular assembly.
d) Small Unions: The smaller unions are urgently needing assistance. Some of this could come from the large unions in the region, as well as other individuals. These unions fall into 2 categories –
(a) the (newly-established) Public sector unions - SARWHU, POTWA, NEHAWU and possibly SADWU, and
(b) the established but small unions such as TAG, PPWAWU, CWIU, SADWU.
e) "Big 4": Need to keep this relationship open and functioning. It forms a useful platform from which to develop unity in action strategies.
f) Political Developments: A formal (as well as informal) relationship needs to be built by Cosatu with UDF/ANC/Party. This is beginning to happen with regular Cosatu/UDF consultations. However there is as yet little sense of how this can be used to strengthen either/both sides.
g) Worker Leaders: A core of approx. 15 to 30 needs to be built as rapidly as possibly. They should be in a position to play a general leadership role within Cosatu.
h) Cosatu Structures: There are a number of Cosatu committees which are important for its programme and development, but which are not functioning, or functioning as dynamically as they could be. For example, the Anti-LRA committee, Strike Solidarity, UDF committees etc.
* Course of Action
The collective decided to given priority to and to focus on the following areas
a) Develop ways of grouping labour activists together as part of a developing leadership cadre. This would serve to do the following
(i) Re-motivate them;
(ii) Develop a collective attempt to grapple with and overcome the problems;
(iii) Develop a way of looking beyond the immediacy of issues.
b) Taking responsibility for and helping to build the Public Sector unions which have a range of problems, but are strategically crucial. With this in mind a list of names about 35 worker leaders and officials has been complied. They will be placed into the first groups as ANC and given basic training. They will also become the core around which to build in the future. Individuals within the collective have been given responsibility to cover each small group.
At this time the names cover all but 2 of the unions in C.T. The finer details of this process are still under discussion, but should unfold over the next 2 weeks.
Comrades in the family unit are developing a good working relationship. They are also increasingly able to work easily with a range of comrades in the trade unions more generally. Within Cosatu an entirely new set of relationships and lines of communication are emerging. We need to build on this carefully. The strategic placement of returning comrades from the outside could considerably enhance and consolidate the process.
2.1. ANC Regional Presence -
*. clearest omissions from the Regional structure are to do with an MK presence; an underground liaison and presence; and a trade union presence - in short it adds up to "Where is the ANC? and "How is the three way alliance affirmed and taken forward?" The clearest queries are coming from the Township comrades.
*. At this point in time the REC looks like a revamped UDF Executive, with the same faces, doing the same things (roles, portfolios etc).
*. The questioning of how this body got to be there, what its tasks are etc, the lack of information and clear debate is being stifled by a strong loyalty to the Movement - a potentially difficult and even dangerous situation. All signs show at this stage a deep confusion and demoralisation. A lot of bitterness from key individuals is also emerging based on their exclusion from processes.
*. Disturbing also is the query concerning the exclusion of particular individuals, eg Bulelani N.
*. Further all the problems of the UDF - of factions, personal ambitions, militarism, lack of non-racialism, lack of non-worker leadership - are being transposed directly onto this new structure.
*. A clear ANC political authority and organizational style is urgently needed not only at the public level, but at an organisational level as well. At this early stage it is essential to merge "inside-outside" cadres to prevent problems of this nature later.
*. Both activists and the masses need some clear explanation of the
delays, confusions and turnabouts on some issues. The press speak of waiting the regime's clearance - it is not our style to await permission in order to resist, build and assert a vanguard role.
*. There is as yet no reasonable quantities of ANC or fam literature
- there are still photocopies circulating and certainly not in abundance. The townships and organised workers are seeing very little. Certainly non- organisational persons see nothing.
*. There is a lot of talk in the unions and amongst the youth of wanting to join the party not the ANC. On one level it appears thrilling, yet it can be seen to be a disillusionment with the ANC. We need to guard against this.
*. Three ANC blitzes have been held in CT in the past few weeks; Athlone, Langa, Mitchells Plain. In all of them activist, attendance has been dismally low. A lot of work needs to go into this. One trend emerging from responses is a confusion about possibly being able to vote at some point in the future. Why vote now, even for the ANC when the "boycott all voting" attitude has become so deeply entrenched?
*. The issues raised in the Jan 8th speech are still very relevant, viz. accountability of leadership, depth of organisations, uneven development and political understanding within organisations, need for a clear programme etc. Much has been said in recent literature on the importance of democracy and the ANC to be established above-board as a model of democracy. This is particularly relevant given some very unhealthy political practices which developed during the worse excesses of SOE.
*. Some specific queries:
i) How does JI get to be on regional structure? Two conflicting reports say that TM insisted on his being there, while another saying that TM was vehemently against this, but JI placed there by ILC. JI at best has some powerful qualities but these are not of the status of a political regional structure. There are very many comrades who understand the need for JI to be placed under some form of accountability and even at some leadership level. However, they insist that while he represents a "loyalist" militancy he continues to remain outside of structures. The announcement of his participation also came at the precise moment of the Open Letter to the UDF which all agreed was an unacceptable way of dealing with valid problems. Most recently destructive comments have emerged from him on who constitutes loyal ANC comrades or not. This relates to Mildred Lesia and Nomaindia Mfeketo, and by implication branding them racist by being anti-coloured and white. This is politically disempowering for them and works in his favour.
*. Again conflicting reports have emerged discreetly but it seems publicly of TM being instructed to convene an ANC group 18 months ago. One story says he refused to because of fear. Another says that he took his time, got a small group together only to disband it again. This does not concur with our understanding as discussed in August. We understand that the process started but was halted in Paris towards the end of the year because of a clash of intentions on the ground. Please clarify. We feel these stories are beginning o circulate as part of a discrediting campaign and can obviously create even more problems unless stamped immediately.
*. Amos Lingisi is well respected generally, but still maintains his virulent anti-party position, unchanged from the island days.
*. There appears to be some limited support growing for PAC, particularly from youth, in both African and coloured areas. This has even extended to some students in Mitchells Plain (Desai's new home turf) and Bonteheuwel. There is also much activity within the Muslim sector where those formerly associated with Qibla are very active. Generally most of their contact with the masses is through pamphlets. Most of the support appears to be gained by calling all talks and possible negotiations with the regime a sell-out. Their line and slogans are simple, clear and direct.
2.3. WOSA (come? sic):
*. The Workers Organisation for Socialist Action was formed in CT last week. Executive in CT Region consists of Neville Alexander (chairperson); Jean Pease (gs); Frank van der Horst (treasurer); Mercia Andrews (nat. org); Victor Steyn and Brian Ashley (editors). Western Cape Regional rep is Adam Makanianise, and others consist of Eugene Cairncross (Tvl); Aaron Ranayeke (N Cape) and Rita Edwards (Natal).
*. WOSA's basic principles are black working class leadership; anti-imperialism; anti-capitalism; anti-racism; anti-sexism; one-person-one-vote in a non-racial undivided unitary country; collective leadership; accountability and democracy.
*. Cairncross has also stated that they will form an alliance with PAC because it is anti ANC and SACP, although they are aware that this will not be indefinite.
*. Papers produced as part of the discussions for the launch produced towards the end of 1989 should have reached you via Steve's cousin.
2.4. Boetie (Allan Roberts) approached Steve with a problem going back some time. After leaving C.T. he has never been reintegrated into structures. At the time he was approached, approx. a year later, he was having extreme personal problems- mother seriously ill, himself with kidney stones, ulcers, and swollen legs from water retention. His response was yes he wanted to be part of things, but was not going to be active for the following couple of months. His t.u. had given him off and he needed the short break. He believes this was interpreted as a "no" response. It was compounded by a difference within Cosatu at the time, whereby Boetie was part of a group despatched to solve problems within Cosatu of which his contact was a part. Boetie and his new contact were thus on opposite sides. Since then he has attempted to reopen the issue but with no response. He has also while in Durban raised it with an older man there who had indicated he could possibly help. This has also subsequently not happened. He believes there is now a question mark over him and wants it cleared up. Steve did not indicate that he could in any way help but reported back nevertheless. He also feels he can vouch for the personal integrity of the comrade without knowing any of the details of the past period or what the real problem is. We seek guidance.
2.5. Workers College.
The UWC has plans to open a Workers College. A number of discussions have been held with individuals. More recently the issues were discussed in a meeting to advise how Cosatu could get formally involved. Present in the discussion were G. Abubaker (UWC Rector's assistant) M. Michell, L. October, E. Fourie. It was agreed that the best course was for SACTWU to approach the Cosatu Redcom with the issue for discussion and that simultaneously a feasibility study should be undertaken. (See attached document). Cathy Kell presently Community Education Resources at UCT, has been asked to do the study over the next few months, although she has not yet confirmed her availability. It is a project with lots of obvious long term potential. There are many possibilities for a range of contributions and placements.
2.6. The Education Resource and Information Project (ERIP) at UWC has place for someone to coordinate training within the trade union sphere. No suitable applicants have apparently emerged through informal advertising. The position remains open, and seems ideal for someone with education skills and a trade union background (SACTU?) returning from the outside. The post and all that it entails has been informally discussed by individuals in the Cosatu region and welcomed. It was felt that this could usefully supplement what Cosatu Education is not able to do. A structure is to be set up to make the position and work formally accountable. A full job description can be sent through if necessary.
3. Comments on the Question as to Who can be Surfaced?
*. This has been put to most members and discussed. All those canvassed feel an obligation to do what is best for the party under the circumstances. However there are some considerations aside from those of class, race. gender etc. which need to be taken into account. Two questions stand out. What will be the effect on the organisation of which the individual member is a part? What role and set of tasks will the indicidual need to fulfill?
*. We recommend a Leadership Core with figures such as Cdes Ray Alexander, Malindi and Nana Abrahams. They would need to be reinforced with skilled public profiled individuals.
*. At another level an organisational core needs to function, not in the limelight, but not hiding their identities. Thus-
*. George and Pam are not in a position to surface at this stage. It is felt their union base has not moved sufficiently to openly support such a move.
*. Wallace has been central to disputes in his union which have also tended to spill out into the region. This has tarnished him somewhat in the eyes of many. However he remains a potent worker leader. A role will need to be found for him in the future.
*. Jack is willing but he will find it difficult to fulfill his regional responsibility as well as party work. More ideally he could operate as family within the structure.
*. Dionne is in a similar position to Jack but specifically not recommended at this point.
*. Perry is willing but is also concerned of its affect within MDM work.
*. James is willing and we would specifically recommend him for a profile leadership position if necessary, but he is to be away in the current period where a great deal of work needs to take place.
*. Robbie like James is to be away in this period. We recommend however, that with his union administrative skills and the training he should be getting soon, that these be possibly adapted to meet the present needs.
*. Ken has theoretical skills which can be utilized without the necessity of his surfacing.
*. Laura is in the same position.
*. Steve is willing, and has diverse resource, educational and training skills, including doing this with groups of workers, as well as media skills, and could be surfaced in this regard.
*. Sally has numeracy training skills in particular and is willing to be surfaced in a low key way.
*. It is recommended that Bruce is abandoned - he is misbehaving, and there is talk of a R6000 misappropriation from his place of work. This is being investigated.
*. Faried is close to a psychological collapse and is insisting that he goes abroad in Oct. This is a serious issue which we are trying to address in different ways
Question: Do family members on the ANC Regional structure get together in any way?
4. Comments on Decisions of PB Extended Meeting
Point - of the Minute 6.
*. The Umsebenzi Discussion Circles are clearly a very useful way of developing a basis for recruitment. Existing members can be placed within each to guide and spot those workers and youth who develop.
*. However, a careful monitoring of all individuals involved needs to be done. The enemy will not miss the opportunity of "pouring in" agents and provocateurs into such circles. We suggest therefore that this process should at all times be strictly controlled. Those who become members of discussion circles should be invited on the basis of consistency and proven commitment to active involvement in other areas of struggle. In addition, a system of nomination and seconding should be rigorously implemented for any potential recruitment.
*. The party needs to be the genuine party of the left. As this happens in the new situation, it will attract a range of individuals of differing "left" persuasions. Already in the W. Cape there is an indication of this. We feel the party can never be allowed to become simply a talk shop debating left issues. It has to remain a party of action and struggle. The basis of membership has to be active involvement in party life. This will need careful ongoing monitoring.
*. We need to be clear as to what class elements get introduced into the party in the process. For eg in the W. Cape MWT are making some noise about coming in, but what do they bring?
*. We feel that every member should be bound to pay a monthly membership fee. This could be at the present 1 % of income although there might also be an upward adjustment in some instances. This whole process should be very strictly observed and monitored. While providing a basis of "belonging", it also encourages self-sufficiency.
5. Comments on Prop & Education Sub-com memo.
The memo provides us with a very clear and exciting vision of the path ahead of us in the next few months. It is clear that a lot of work will have to be done, making use of the range of skills and experience available. It is correct that a proper balance will need to be maintained between the u/g and above-board, at all times based on the overall strategic objectives of the party. But there is some confusion on our side as to the full implications of this strategic objective. One question raised was are we to operate as part of a united front a la Dimitrov? If so what is the party role?
What follows are comments intended as additions (or clarifications) of points raised in the memo, and reflect our thinking in the region.
Starting- Points in the memo
*. We see this area as playing a dynamic role in the early phases of building a legal party. Much of its presence can be created through the use of the party organs. Obviously there is a danger that in the longer term this should not be allowed to replace the building of solid party structures.
*. We feel Umsebenzi has a very important role to play in the next period. It can establish a vital and real pty presence nationally and especially among organised workers while exposing few members. Around it a number of organisational tasks can be developed. For example the formation of study circles; distribution (and sale) within factories, residential areas etc; as well as on the city streets. Contributions, even in form of letters can provide a useful activity for all members.
*. Ito above increased frequency will be needed. It should be a vibrant fortnightly pty newspaper, but there should be enough flexibility so that from time to time a special or additional issue can be produced to meet particular requirements eg an issue can be produced for an important Cosatu Congress etc.
*. A careful assessment of the print run will need to be made, but it is clear that even at this stage, workers will demand copies, and large quantities can be distributed.
*. It is correct to focus on political analysis and tactical issues et al with a working class perspective in the present period. However, Umsebenzi occupies a special place amongst activists, not least because of the "pedagogical" articles. In many parts of the country these seemingly scant articles are some of the few forms of educational input. They are really treasured. In addition, the authority the pty has also lends weight to these articles. So while there is the suggestion that these be printed in a different form, eg booklets, we feel stress needs to be given to this, and that this particular role of Umsebenzi in the past, should remain.
*. We should seriously consider selling Umsebenzi. Selling the newspaper can become a useful organisational activity for all members, but especially probationers. This could have advantages eg This can increase a sense of belonging to the organisation; raise a small but useful contribution to the pty coffers; introduce an important task for members and probationers; bring members closer to a cross section of the public.
*. The network of correspondents will obviously play an important role in building the pty. We feel that these correspondents should as far as possible be rooted in the worker organisations. This activity should also become part and parcel of the study circle's work. For eg, each study circle could be made responsible for sending a letter to Umsebenzi once a month. Letters should become an important part of each issue.
*. The A4 format of the recent Special Issue was different but very useful for photocopying purposes!
*. There is no question about the important place AC occupies as a journal nor its principal objectives.
*. We feel Africa Notes provides important references for us.
*. We feel that the format should remain the same while an assessment takes place. There is no immediate rush on this. The SALB route seems an interesting one at this stage and in line with creating a dynamic pty amongst organised workers. By implication the changed format and style refers not only to graphics and language etc, but also the kinds of topics. Does this bring it closer to eg New Era?
*. (The new Laser? printed headings and type face is difficult to read - no offence meant)
*. Under general publicity, in addition to the points made, we feel we should be vigorously using the letters and other such pages of the commercial and progressive press.
*. In general, there has been a tendency on the part of the MDM to abandon such community newspapers as Grassroots, Saamstaan etc. We feel that these remain crucially important although their roles need redefinition. Possibly a "reversion" to the close-to-the ground style of their formative years and linked closely to mass-based organisation is the direction to take. We need to influence this process.
*. Many of the trade unions are now producing regular newsletters for their members eg FAWU's "Umkhonto". This becomes also an obvious area for us to contribute. Again, we could encourage our members from the floor in the respective unions to write articles and especially letters to ensure that clear political perspectives are put at the forefront.
*. There are other points around general publicity which also link closely to organisation.
*. Very effective use can be made of SACP sweaters. Already the ANC-SACP Alliance sweaters are the most popular in this region. They again become an additional small source of funds, and provide organisational tasks for members, old and new. Also badges, caps etc.
*. Posters will play a very important role in forming the above-board party. They can also be created to have a directly educative and informative function and not only to mobilise.
*. Spray painting popularising the pty should be systematically done, but focussed on popular struggles rather than exclusively eg Long Live the Alliance.
*. What about using the radio? Buying advert time? The regional radio is fed into most factories during the day
*. Party educational material should be linked closely to the twists and turns of the organisational drive. Probationary programme material as listed is essential. Included could be the Umsebenzi "theme booklets", as well as packages made up from articles taken from the international Marxist publications. For example a photocopied or cheaply printed package of readings on events in Eastern Europe, could be made in the National Office and circulated to regions for inclusion in educational programme. Such an approach can also help develop a more homogeneous approach to issues where necessary.
*. Eventually, we should be able to develop educational packages comprising readings and other resources eg audio-visual, charts etc, as well as a guide on how to use these along with appropriate teaching methods. These can then be distributed to pty educators in all regions.
*. It would also be very useful to have compiled sets/packages of issues debated in the pages of AC. And also on topics such as ',why Socialism Can Work etc.
*. Videos are an extremely popular component of educational programmes. Already there is heavy demand on Amakomanisi etc. Not only should large numbers of these be made available through a range of different sources throughout the country, but they can also be easily adapted for educational needs. For eg, by editing in "breaks" during which key questions are posed to the audience for discussion. In addition, even breaks without questions allow a section of a video to be more easily used as part of a broader educational programme. The necessary expertise and equipment is available for this to be done.
*. Public seminars and talks around topical issues will become a crucial component of party educational work. The pty will be able to raise issues which will be difficult in many of the existing for eg trade union educational structures.
*. Much of these educational materials will need to be translated. Apart from the Umsebenzi articles, most of what else appears from the pty is pitched at a high level. This is fine if relatively small groups of activists are reading and talking through issues. However, as the party reaches out, the problems of Language, Literacy and Numeracy will confront us. The use of audio material especially can confront this problem.
*. There is a serious paucity of M-L classics, as well as the availability of international journals. A careful taking of stock of what is presently available needs to be done so that in the short term educational work can happen. Photocopying of sections, selected debates etc can be distributed from the centre and used in programmes and study circles.
*. There is definitely a need for all party standard works (Kotane, SA Communists Speak etc) to be widely available. Their legal status must be challenged (by a publisher?) and reprinted where necessary. A suggestion is that this happens in paperback inside the country. Either a print house gets established for this purpose or existing ones are approached (what happens to Inkululeko in this regard? Comes home? Why not?) Large numbers of these publications will almost certainly be distributed and sold. Apart from the few limited bookshops (although CNA's etc should be pushed) the mass organisations, stalls at rallies etc, resource centres, and offices are all obvious points for distribution. In addition the party should explore whether a structure such as the Joint Distribution Group (JDG) cannot get involved.
*. This will entail the need for a central resource centre/library which will be able to service all regions. Nevertheless, existing resource centres should be approached to assess what they already have of M-L classics as well as party material, and to find out if they are prepared to play something of a stop-gap role for a period.
*. Approaches should also be made to trade unions (specifically their training officers and structures) and COSATU to locate a set of resources in the union offices for use in their programmes. Many unions (eg SACTWU and FAWU National offices) now also have resource centres/libraries which could do the same.
* In many local and rural areas small collections of relatively easily transportable resources for eg in suitcases, can in the short-term get things moving.
* Very useful ideas, but the practical steps to be taken are difficult to assess from where we are.
Greetings and Keep very Well. See you all at home soon!!