||Wolpe Lectures & Reviews January - August 2008
|Wolpe Lecture panel, on the issue of Water for All! Patra Sindane, Jackie Dugard, Dale McKinley 28 August 2008
Zimbabwe and People's Solidarity: Now's the Time! CCS & Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum - South Africa 24 July 2008
How do we solve our common problems? Communities against Xenophobia & Wolpe Lecture 12 June 2008
A Feminist Political Economy of Development and the New Imperialism Eunice Sahle 26 April 2008
Truth, Propaganda, Power: An evening with John Pilger 30 March 2008
To the Brink: The State of Democracy in South Africa Xolela Mangcu 21 February 2008
Wolpe Lecture on the WSF Trevor Ngwane 26 January 2008
Wolpe Lecture panel, on the issue of Water for All!
Presenters: Patra Sindane (Coalition Against Water Privatisation))
Jackie Dugard (Wits Centre for Applied Legal Studies)
Dale McKinley (Anti-Privatisation Forum) )
Date: 28 August 2008
Venue: Howard College Auditorium, UKZN Howard College Campus
Transport and refreshments are offered for civil society organisations thanks to the Harold Wolpe Memorial Trust and the Centre for Applied
MAZIBUKO vs CITY OF JOHANNESBURG: A LANDMARK WATER CASE FOR ALL
By Jackie Dugard [i] & Dale T. McKinley[ii]
Four years is a long time to wait. But that’s how long it took for a
judgement to be handed down in Mazibuko & Others v City of Johannesburg
& Others. It was four years ago that five residents of Phiri township,
with the assistance of CAWP and CALS, began to prepare a legal case in
the Johannesburg High Court challenging two critical aspects of the City
of Johannesburg’s water policy – the involuntary installation of
prepayment water meters and the one-size-fits all Free Basic Water (FBW)
policy of 6 kilolitres per household per month. The case was, at the
time, and still remains, the first South African case to explicitly test
the constitutional right to water, as guaranteed in our Constitution,
which establishes that everyone has the right of access to sufficient water.
And so it was, on 30 April 2008, against all odds and expectations, that
Johannesburg High Court judge Moroa Tsoka handed down a historic and
ground-breaking judgement which found in favour of the applicants on all
counts. Judge Tsoka declared that the City of Johannesburg’s forcible
installation of prepaid water meters in Phiri is both unlawful and
unconstitutional and ordered the City to provide the applicants and all
similarly situated residents of Phiri with 50 litres of FBW per person
per day as well as the option of a conventional credit-metered water
supply at the City’s cost. The judgment is remarkable for its sensitive
understanding of both the law and the plight of poor people.
On the issue of FBW, the judge did not agree with the respondents’
contention that FBW was not an obligation stating that, “ … their
obligation is to ensure that every person has both physical and economic
access to water”. In this respect the judge pointed out that the
national FBW policy was clearly meant to give legal effect to section
27(2)(b) of the Constitution. Further, the judge found the national FBW
standard (6 kilolitres per household per month or 25 litres per person
per day in a household of 8 people) to be a “floor” rather than a
“ceiling” and that there was no evidence that the City of Johannesburg
could not provide the applicants and similarly situated people in Phiri
(i.e., large, poor households) with 50 litres of FBW per person per day.
On pre-paid water meters (PPMs), the judge found that the decision to
install the meters amounts to administrative action and is therefore
reviewable in terms of the criteria set out in the Promotion of
Administrative Justice Act (PAJA). He further found that the way that
PPMs were introduced in Phiri was unlawful in that there was no adequate
public consultation. Also, that there was no legal basis for their
introduction as a service level, because the City’s by-laws only allow
for the installation of PPMs as a punishment for violating the
conditions of standpipe service. Moreover, as a credit-control
mechanism, PPMs were only installed in Phiri and not allocated to the
worst debtors, acknowledged to be government institutions and business.
This, according to the judge, along with the fact that the residents of
Phiri were not provided with all available water service options
(specifically, the conventional credit-meters found throughout
Johannesburg’s richer suburbs), amounted to unfair discrimination based
on race, which is prohibited by section 9 of the Constitution. And
finally, the judge found that the PPM automatic disconnection mechanism
is unlawful and unconstitutional because it violates the right to just
administrative action as set out in section 33 of the Constitution,
section 4(3) of the Water Services Act and section 3(2) of the Promotion
of Administrative Justice Act)
The judgement ranks as one of post-apartheid South Africa’s most
important legal victories for poor communities and all those who have
been struggling against unilateral and profit-driven neo-liberal basic
service policies. While it has specific legal application to Phiri and
the City of Johannesburg’s water policies, it also establishes several
principles that could be persuasive in other jurisdictions such as Cape
The provision of FBW is a legal obligation, to give meaning to the right of access to sufficient water, which is more than mere physical access and includes economic access.
The national 6kl amount is a floor, and not a ceiling. Those municipalities with sufficient resources must move away from the floor
as soon as they can to provide additional FBW especially to poor households.
The decision to install any kind of water device is reviewable as administrative action.
If there is no legal basis for the installation of the particular water device as a service level, it cannot be installed as such.
Where the water devices have been installed only in poor areas and/or
without providing poor people with all available water services options,
this is likely to amount to unfair discrimination on the grounds of
race, which is prohibited by section 9 of the Constitution.
It is likely that any water device that violates the procedural
requirements for adequate notice of the disconnection and reasonable
opportunity to make representation is unlawful and unconstitutional.
The greatest credit for this extraordinary legal victory must go to the residents of Phiri who resisted the installation of PPMs, and to all the other residents of poor communities, both in Johannesburg and across the country, who have been fighting, and continue to fight, for accessible, affordable and sufficient water provision/delivery. While it is now clear that this judgement will be appealed all the way to the Constitutional Court, this does not detract from the political and social significance of this victory. It is a case which does not only have applicability across South Africa but which, by its very character, enjoins the attention and direct interest of billions of poor people around the world who are suffering under neo-liberally inspired water policies, alongside the governments that are implementing such policies and their corporate allies who seek to turn water into nothing less than another profit-making stock market option.
[i] Jackie Dugard is Senior Researcher at the Centre for Applied Legal
Studies (CALS) and part of the legal team for the applicants.
[ii] Dale T. McKinley is an activist with the Coalition Against Water
Privatisation (CAWP) and independent writer, researcher & lecturer.
UMAZIBUKO EMELENE NEDLOBHA LASEGOLI : ICALA LAMANZI ELIYINGQAYIZIVELE
NguJackie Dugard kanye no Dale T. McKinley
Yahunyushwa nguFaith ka-Manzi
Iminyaka emine isikhathi eside kabi ulundile. Kodwa sone isikhathi esichthekikle kulindelwe isinqumo ecaleni elaliphakathi kukaMazibuko nabanye bemelene nedolobha laseGoli likanye nabanye. Sekudlule iminyaka emine lapho izakhamuzi ezinhlanu zaselokishini lasePhiri ngokusizwa iCAWP neCALS, baqala belungiselela ngokomthetho icala eNkantolo eNkulu yaseGoli, bephikisananamaphuzu amabili abalulekile omthetho wamanzi weDolobha laseGoli – ukufaka ngaphandle kokubonisana nomphakathi kwamamitha amanzi aqale akhokhelwe (Prepayment water meters)kanye nomthetho wokunikela ngamanzi amahala (free basic water) angamakhilolitha ayisithupha umuzi ngamunye kanye ngenyanga. Ngalesosikhathi lelicala futhi namanje, liseyicala lokuqala eNingizimu Afrika ngokungahlonizi ukuzwa ngobhoko ilungelo lamanzi ngokomthethosisekelo, njengoba kugcizelelwe kuwo umthethosisekelo ukuthi wonke umuntu unelungelo lokuthola amanzi anele.
Ngakho-ke kwathi, ngezi30 zikaApril 2008, kwenzeka okungalindelekile, lapho uMahluleli Moroa Tsoka weNkantolo eNkuluyaseGoli ekhipha ingqophamlando yesahlulelo esavuna abamangali. UMahluleli uTsoka wanquma ukuhti impoqo eyenziwa yiDolobha laseGoli lokufaka amamitha amanzi aqalwe akhokhelwe elokishini lasePhiri. Kwakuyicala futhi kungekho kumthethosisekelo futhi wayeseyalela iDolobha ukuthi linike abamangali kanye nezinye izakhamuzi zasePhiri ezinalenkinga ngamamitha ayishumi nanhlanu amanzi amahala umuntu emunye ngosuku kanye nokukwazi ukuzikhethela ukufaka amanzi ngokwejwayelekile futhi lokho kube umthwalo weDolobha. Lesisahlulelo sibalulekile ngoba sikhombisa uzwelo lokuqonda umthetho kanye nesimo sempilo yabantu abahlwempu.
Ephuzwini lamanzi amahala uMahluleli akazange avumelane nabamangalelwa ukuhti amanzi amahala kwakungeyona into ekufanele bayenza wathi, “kwakumele baqinisekise ukuthi wonke umuntu uyakwazi ukuthola amanzi.” Kuleliphuzu uMahluleli wathi umthetho kazwelonke wamanzi wawuchaza ngokusobala ukuhti usebenzisa okushiwo ngumthethosisekelo 27 (2) (b) ngamanzi amahala ezweni lonke. Okunye futhi, uMahluleli wathola ukuthi babungekho ubufakazi bokuthi iDolobha laseGoli lalingahluleka ukunika abamangali (labo abaqhamuka emindenini emikhulu) ngamalitha ayishumi nanhlanu amanzi amahala umuntu ngamunye ngosuku.
Ephuzwini lamamitha amanzi okufanele aqalwe akhokhelwe, uMahluleli isinqumo sokufakwa kwamammitha wathi kumele kubuyekezwe. Wabuye wathokla futhi ukuhti indlela lamamitha alethwa ngayo kulelilokishi lasePhiri kwakungekho emthethweni ngoba akuzange kubinoswane nomphakathi futhi, sasingekho nesizathu esisethethweni sokuthi balethe lamamitha, ngoba imithetho yeDolobha ivumela ukufakwa kwamaPPMS njengesijeziso kubantu abaphula imigomo yamapayipi amanzi. Futhi-nje amaPPMS ayefakwe ePhiri hayi kubantu abakweleta uhulumeni kakhulu – okwaziwayo ukuhti izakhiwo zikahulumeni kanye namabhizinisi. Lokhu, ngokusho kukaMahluleli kwakuchaza ukubandlululwa kwabantu basePhiri ngenxa yebala into enqatshelwe nguSection 9 womthethosisekelo.
Lesisahlulelo sithathwa njengengqophamlando emacaleni athethwe eNingizimu Afrika enths emiphakathini enhlwempu nalabo abazabalazela imithetho yezomnotho enengcindezi. Noma-ke lesahlulelo sasibhekene nePhiri kanye nemithetho yeDolobha laseGoli, kodwa kukhona imigomo engenza lisize kwezinye izindawo eDolobhni laseKapa.
Ukunikezwa kwamanzi mahala kusemthethweni, futhi kuchaza ilungelo lamanzi anele
Amakhilolitha ayisithupha awanele imikhandlu enamanzi ngokwanele kufanele inike imindeni enhlwempu amanzi amahala engeziwe.
Isinqumo sokufaka noma ngabe yini emayelana namanzi kumele sihlale sibuyekezwa.
Uma singekho isidingo somthetho wokufakwa kwezidingo zamanzi, akufanelwe zifakwe.
Uma kwenziwa lokhu ikakhulukazi ezindaweni lapho kuhlala khona abanhlwempu, ngaphandle kokubenzela ezinye izindlela zokubanika amanzi, lokhu kuchaza ukubandlululwa ngokwebala, okungavunyelwa nguSection9 womthethosisekelo.
Kusobala-nje ukuthi noma iyiphi indlela yamanzi ehlukumeza inqubo ebekwe phansi enika isikhathi esanele sokuvalwa kwamanzi nethuba elihle lokuzimela kuyicala futhi kuphikisana nomthethosisekelo.
Abantu akufanele banconywe kakhulu ngalengqopha mlando yokuphumelela kulelicala yizakhamuzi zasePhiri abamelana namaPPMS nazo zonke izakhamuzi ezimpofu, eGoli kanye nezwelonke, akade belwa, abaqhubekayo nokulwa, ukuthi banikezwe amanzi anele abangakwazi ukuwakhokhela. Noma-ke kusobala ukuthi lesisahlulelo sisazoqhubekela eNkantolo yoMthethosisekelo, lokhu, lokhu akwenzi singakuboni ukubaluleka kokuphumelela kwalelical ngokwezombusazwe kanye nezenhlalakahle. Akulona-nje icala eliqondene neNingizimu Afrika kodwa ngenxa, yesimilo salo, linakwe izigidigidi zabantu abahluphekayo umhlaba wonke nabo abangaphansi kwengcindezi yemithetho yesimanje yomnotho eqondene namanzi, kanye nohulumeni abasebenzisa lemithetho kanye nezihlobo zabo ezila izambane likapondo abafuna ukwenza inzuzo ngamanzi.
(1) UJackie Dugard unguMcwaning eCentre for Applied Legal Studies esikhungweni semfundo ephakeme eWits abuye abe ngomunye wabameli babamangalelwa
(2) UDale T. McKinley uyisishoshovu seCoalition Against Water Privitisation abuye abe nguthisha, umbhali ozimele kanye nomcwaningi.
What are Durban's water/sanitation problems? Here are some articles for the local press by CCS community scholars and academics.
On 28 August, these and other grievances will be discussed at the Wolpe Lecture, with Coalition Against Water Privatisation organiser Patra Sindane, Wits University Centre for Applied Legal Studies lawyer Jackie Dugard, and the Anti-Privatisation Forum's Dale McKinley. Can their victory against Johannesburg Water (and the French company Suez) in the Johannesburg High Court on April 30 be repeated? The Phiri (Soweto) community won a doubling of Free Basic Water, a prohibition on substandard technologies (prepayment meters) only provided in black areas, and a chance to exercise their Constitutional right to water.
Join us to see whether these lessons of social and environmental justice can travel from Joburg to Durban.
Partial victories for civil society
Patrick Bond and Orlean Naidoo The Mercury Eye on Civil Society column
May 13, 2008 Edition 1
Last July, we wrote an Eye on Civil Society article, Water policies hit the poor of Durban, that now deserves a partial retraction.
Only partial because on the one hand, Mercury journalist Tony Carnie's column last week warned of municipal crony capitalism: Many ratepayers have been pillaged by the new rate randage determination, while most businesses and industries quietly count their blessings.
On the other hand, there are two processes under way which show civil society can cajole the state into sensible water services delivery.
First is the historic April 30 judgment in the Johannesburg High Court outlawing pre-paid water meters and mandating 50 litres for everyone free each day, as a matter of constitutional rights.
Behind the case were five Soweto residents, the national Campaign Against Water Privatisation, the Wits University Centre for Applied Legal Studies and advocate Wim Trengove. They persuaded Judge Moroa Tsoka to finally give teeth to the Bill of Rights water clause.
An earlier judgment guaranteeing emergency services - the Grootboom case of September 2000 - was vague and hence useless for citizens' rights.
Second, local government is bending under citizen movements' pressure.In the Chatsworth neighbourhoods of Bayview, Crossmoor and Westcliff,for example, water is now flowing where once it was restricted.
The reason is a 10-year mobilisation by the Flatdwellers' Association, initially supported by the Durban Concerned Citizens' Forum organised by Prof Fatima Meer.
Strategies and tactics in the water wars ranged from street protests and widespread illegal reconnections to intense negotiations with state officials.
These engagements bore fruit last year, when deputy city manager Derek Naidoo agreed to a moratorium on evictions and services disconnections.
The city also began rehabilitating leaky plumbing and faulty electrical wiring throughout the flats. Additional refurbishment and upgrading of infrastructure in these three neighbourhoods is under way, budgeted for at least R38 million.
Chatsworth activists have won some battles but face others because after upgrading the city will install built-in restrictors on consumption. Likewise, Johannesburg Water had imposed pre-paid water meters on Soweto, and not on the northern suburbs.
Judge Tsoka declared this racist: I am unable to understand why this credit control measure is only suitable in the historically poor black areas and not the historically rich white areas. Bad payers cannot be described in terms of colour or geographical area.
In contrast, eThekwini city manager Michael Sutcliffe observes that Durban shunned this technique.
We do not agree that is the way to go, he told Business Day last week.
We replaced all our prepaid water meters when we created the new democratic government.
However, if citizens wish to file a similar lawsuit against eThekwini Water and Sanitation, they would easily find other low-quality water technologies only in poor and working-class areas, including urinary diversion toilets.
Consider, for instance, the thousands of 200-litre yard drums for which Durban water manager Neil Macleod wins international acclaim. The drums also fail the race/class fairness test. How many are there in upper-income suburbs?
Starting on July 1, if the council approves his proposal, Macleod may have an answer. Rather than replace the low-pressure drums with regular connections so as to meet Judge Tsoka's standards, instead the municipality will fill them up not only once each evening, but again with 100 litres extra during the day.
However, for homes with more than six people that is still short of the
50 litres per person recommended by international health experts, an amount promised back in the 1994 Reconstruction and Development Programme.
One tempting short cut - albeit one which will do enormous damage - is to try limiting free basic water to people judged indigent, a classic technique of poverty targeting promoted by the World Bank.Given how volatile income can be in the informal sector, this is an administrative nightmare. How does a woman selling tomatoes prove her income? Means testing also stigmatises beneficiaries.
Instead, Macleod is considering using a house value of R190 000 as a cut-off to determine which indigents receive free water. But that too is a thorny approach especially in light of the municipality's rates valuation debacle and South Africa's real estate bubble.
Moreover, because the number of people living in each home is not recorded, the bias is towards small households. Yet larger households with tenants and Aids orphans most need the extra free water.
Macleod's plans should be scrapped in order to comply with the RDP, the constitution and the ANC December 2000 municipal election promise. All residents, said the ANC then, will receive a free basic amount of water, electricity and other municipal services so as to help the poor.
Those who use more than the basic amounts will pay for the extra they use.
Serving all residents could be accomplished with an additional record for each household in the billing database, showing how many residents there are, by using ID numbers and other means of unique identification,updated once a year, so there is no cheating.
To defeat diarrhoea, cholera and other waterborne diseases, and to achieve fairness and gender equity (because women suffer most when water is short), we need a universal entitlement to water.
It should be paid for by cross-subsidisation: ie, an ever-higher price for luxury levels of consumption. Those using more than 30 kilolitres per household per month are, in our view, consuming hedonistically, and should pay handsomely for the privilege in an era of growing water scarcity.
Judge Tsoka's ruling should be heeded by Durban officials to avoid the embarrassment and expense of a court challenge, one aimed merely at getting ANC politicians to remember pledges.
At a time Sutcliffe and Macleod are criticised for inadequate sanitation coverage and broken pipes that spoil beautiful Blue Flag beaches, expanding free basic water would show compassion and common sense.
Patrick Bond is director at the UKZN Centre for Civil Society. Chatsworth activist Orlean Naidoo is a community scholar at the centre.
South Africa: The Neoliberal loo
Baruti Amisi, Patrick Bond, Dudu Khumalo & Simphiwe Nojiyeza
greenleft.org and The Mercury Eye on Civil Society 18 February 2008
Should poor people be given pit latrines and other devices to limit their consumption of water? A resounding yes was heard at the Africa Sanitation conference held during February at the Luthuli International Conference Centre in Durban.
Several hundred experts came for “toilet talk” this week. With one exception, our own attempts to enter the centre along with civil society colleagues were barred by the R2000 (A$333) entrance fee. Only a few passes went to community groups.
If allowed in, more civil society critics would raise the essential problem across the continent, including South Africa: under-funding.
Toilets and bulk wastewater pipes dug down out of sight and mind aren’t sexy for donors to show off to politicians and constituents.
Moreover, for the last quarter century, the pressures of World Bank structural adjustment programs broke African governments’ abilities to meet the citizenry’s needs, even basic water/sanitation infrastructure.
Today, most African states are run by venal elites who don’t care where their poorest residents defecate. Durban provides just a handful of public toilets to thousands of people in each of the city’s burgeoning shack settlements.
The new conventional wisdom is that self-help “total sanitation”
(including hygiene education) should replace state responsibility. Without subsidies, if you can’t pay, then you can’t pee or poo in comfort.
Jon Lane of the Geneva-based Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council is blunt: “The need is to take sanitation technology from being subsidy-driven, which it so far is, and make it market-driven.”
In reality, the problem is not the subsidy per se, but its small amount.
Across the continent, typically, a tiny capital grant only allows poor people to build a rudimentary pit toilet, or at best one with some ventilation to trap flies.
Operating and maintenance subsidies are practically never supplied, even to empty the pits after they have filled up.
When water systems break down for the lack of borehole diesel or broken piping, they stay broken.
From the early 1990s, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Mvula Trust and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry began persuading poor people not to use water for flushing.
When persuasion doesn’t work, officials simply impose dry toilets such as ventilated improved pit-latrines (VIPs) on very impoverished people, who are invariably black.
Recall the Apartheid regime’s filthy “bucket system” for South Africa’s “temporary sojourners”: i.e. all black people living in cities. Water was a weapon in the white government’s arsenal of oppression and control.
But what goes around sometimes comes around. Mike Muller, a former department of water affairs and forestry director general, said that “the buckets, especially when not emptied by inefficient municipalities, provide community activists with an effective and ready-made weapon of protest, which has been used with substantial effect in protests about poor service delivery”.
Today, 14 years after Apartheid ended, hundreds of thousands of people still suffer buckets, in spite of President Thabo Mbeki’s promise that by 2007 we were supposed be rid of that 19th Century system.
Shockingly, there are still 9270 bucket latrines in wealthy Durban, along with 148,688 unventilated pit-latrines and 41,880 chemical toilets.
Lack of adequate sewage disposal, combined with heavy rains, high temperatures and accidental spilling of these buckets, create a perfect storm of diarrhoea, other gastro-intestinal disorders, and worm infestations — fatal threats to the many HIV-positive cases.
Worse, the alleged sanitation “improvements” since 1994 includes mass installations of VIPs.
As former Johannesburg water regulator Kathy Eales said: “Many VIPs are now full and unusable. In many areas, VIPs are now called ‘full-ups’. Some pits were too small, or were fully sealed.”
According to Eales, “South Africa’s household sanitation policy is grossly inadequate. It speaks primarily to dry systems, and does not clarify roles and responsibilities around what to do when pits are full.”
Two innovations may make matters worse.
Sowetans are protesting against new “condominial shallow sewage” systems introduced by the French water privatiser Suez, which ran Johannesburg Water from 2001 until it was expelled five years later.
Victims of this experiment have no water cisterns above the loo, much thinner pipes, and lower gravity to get excrement out to the mains.
These clog up not by accident, but by design. Then, according to 12-step instructions provided by Suez, women are meant to stick their hands
(with gloves, to be sure) into the pipes to remove it by hand.
In Durban, a post-apartheid bucket system — the urinary diversion (UD) toilet — was foisted on 60,000 households.
With their double-pits, separating urine and faeces so as to speed decomposition, the UDs are theoretically useful in water-scarce rural areas. But in Durban, with its humid weather and hence slow-drying excrement?
Earlier this month, Science magazine praised Durban head of water Neil Macleod’s efforts.
But the experience in the communities we know best — Umzinyathi and KwaNgcolosi in peri-urban Inanda — is unsatisfactory.
UDs have internal buckets that require emptying. No training was given on how to deal with faeces, except to dump it in the garden “for fertilising your veggies”.
Many are repelled by use of human excrement (compared to cow-dung) as fertiliser, because of the many diseases surrounding them.
The burden of cleaning is left to women.
Other creative opportunities for bio-gas are also foreclosed by UDs. Many UDs have become mere storerooms or are permanently locked because of the smell.
Councillors are useless when the UDs cease functioning. Nationally, our toilets are a scandal, for as Muller confessed last year: “The expansion of sanitation services to the unserved is slowing.”
He specifically cited Trevor Manuel’s 2006 Division of Revenue Act because of its “clear incentives for municipalities not to extend services to the unserved”.
To change this we need more state funding and genuinely pro-poor policies that get poor people appropriate supplies of waterborne sanitation, including micro biodigesters (sophisticated septic tanks) that convert excrement into gas for off-grid rural areas.
And in turn, we need much more political pressure. If we don’t get it, the government’s reversion to VIP latrines, chemical toilets, UDs and condominial sewers means that Apartheid’s sanitation indignities will be reconstituted.
[The authors are researchers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Civil Society.]
eThekwini: drought hits the poors
Orlean Naidoo, Dudu Khumalo and Patrick Bond The Mercury Eye on Civil Society column 3 July 2007
Is Durban a model for South Africa and the world?
In the field of water, some say yes. National Geographic magazine awarded chief water official Neil MacLeod global recognition a few years ago, and the city won South African recognition as best metro in 2006.
In three ways, we disagree: • the municipality’s new system of ‘debt relief’ is hurting people living in Council Flats, as well as shackdwellers without proper supplies; • in rural parts of eThekwini, water and sanitation are substandard; and • for those hooked up to the eThekwini grid who pay their water bills regularly, poor people are suffering while the rich hardly notice price increases.
First, city officials Derek Naidoo and Michael Singh met Chatsworth council flatdwellers last month to explain the new ‘indigent package’: a conditional housing transfer, a minimalist 50kWh/household/month supply of Free Basic Electricity - but only for a few tens of thousands of households who consume less than 150kWh/month (not the hundreds of thousands who most need the promised free services) - and water debt relief.
Sadly, the majority of poor people living in shacks are getting services worse than urban residents did during apartheid.
Westcliff residents argue that a universal entitlement is preferable to an indigence policy, because the latter divides poor from working people: a violation of constitutional equity.
For poor people labeled indigent, the water service includes a new kind of flow restrictor that stops your water after a certain point.
But what if you are holding a funeral or wedding? You have to pay another R300 to have a different meter installed, which may take days.
As for arrears, they will be capitalised, repaid by siphoning off 20% of each bill. Yet the Free Basic Water is still just 6000 liters per household per month, which is not enough, as argued in an ongoing court case by activists in Soweto. (MacLeod filed testimony on behalf of Johannesburg Water in that case, which we think takes the debate backwards.)
Moreover, the fixed charge, water loss insurance and VAT together vastly exceed the amount we pay for water consumed. For those with no income who are unemployed, the arrears payments are unrealistic.
And the amount per kiloliter is up to R6.62, a vast increase over prior years.
Second, the problems are compounded in rural communities. Consider three areas around the Inanda Dam, which ironically supplies Durban with most of its water: Kwangcolosi, Mzinyathi and Maphephetheni.
After the trauma of displacement – still uncompensated - the water system provided after the construction of Inanda Dam was welcome, but the designs are inadequate.
Residents get either a 200 liter drum filled up by trickle each day – which is not enough for big families, and for when there are traditional events like weddings or funerals - or alternatively they go to poorly-maintained community standpipes that lack a good soakaway.
Mud is caused by livestock, which cannot get to the dam for water, and often women wait in long queues. There are still communities nearby with no water system.
For billing, confusion reigns because some are being charged and some are not.
As for sanitation, the Urinary Diversion system is the cause of dissatisfaction, because of filth, leading the majority of people to use their old pit toilets instead.
Ultimately, eThekwini policy should have service levels just as high for rural people, so that dignity, public health and gender equity are achieved: good, high-pressure taps inside the house, and flush toilets with septic tanks.
Third, upper-income eThekwini residents still have the best deal. The majority of Durban Water and Sanitation funding is raised through tariffs.
The 1997 consumption of water by the one third of the city’s residents who have the lowest income and pay their bills regularly was 22 kiloliters/household/month.
Shortly afterwards, MacLeod introduced ‘Free Basic Water’, but for just the first 6 kl/hh/month, and steep increases in price for the next blocks of water were imposed. By 2003, the (inflation-adjusted) price of the average kiloliter of water consumed by the lowest-income third of billed residents had doubled from R2 in 1997 to R4.
According to city official Reg Bailey, that price increase resulted in average consumption by low-income bill-paying consumers diminishing from
22 to 15 kl/household/month during the same period, an extremely large impact for what should be a basic need.
In contrast, for middle- and high-income consumers, the price rise was higher, but the corresponding decline in average consumption far less.
Indeed, the United Nations Development Programme’s 2006 Human Development Report indicates that
Zimbabwe and People's Solidarity: Now's the Time!A Harold Wolpe Lecture Panel, Thursday, 24 July, 5-7pm
Venue: Howard College Auditorium, UKZN Howard College Campus
Mary Chipende, Durban-based refugee
Joy Mabenge, Institute for Democracy in Zimbabwe (Idazim)
Richard Smith, Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum (ZSF)
Judith Todd, author and rights activist
A new film, Xenophobia, will be screened from 5-5:20pm, produced by
Rebone Ramphomane of the SA Liaison Office, a research, policy dialogue,
and media production organisation active in the Zimbabwe Solidarity
Forum. Ramphomane will lead a brief discussion.
Mary Chipende is a recent Durban immigrant with many arrests for Woza
and the National Constitutional Assembly;
Joy Mabenge formerly directed the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and
Development (a Jubilee South affiliate) and is now an Idazim researcher;
Richard Smith is a lifelong social justice and anti-racism activist;
Judith Todd was banned by the Ian Smith egime for supporting
democracy and then stripped of Zimbabwean citizenship by the Mugabe
regime for supporting democracy, and she recently authored the book
Through the Darkness (which will be launched at Ike's Books, 48a Florida
Ave, Durban at 7:30pm).
Why are we calling this mass meeting in Durban?
The Zimbabwe crisis now requires urgent interventions by South Africans
and others committed to social justice and democracy:
Those interventions have been requested by the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (see below), in their recent call, alongside Cosatu, for a
one-week border blockade as a popular sanctions strategy for social
change - a call specifically made to distinguish people's solidarity
from Washington/London-centred (or for that matter Beijing-centred)
Recall that the Durban membership of the SA Transport and Allied
Workers Union led the way with their refusal to unload a Chinese ship
with three million bullets destined for Zimbabwe army rifles (and the
backs of the Zimbabwean povo) in February.
Zimbabwe civil society recently met to demand a Transitional Authority
in Zimbabwe (see below).
The Zimbabwe People's Charter (below), adopted in February 2008,
insists that socio-economic justice is married to democracy. That way,
recent promises of billions of US$ from imperial powers for an elite
transition, will not distract the democratic forces from choosing people
over profits, no matter that South African subimperialist and Zimbabwean
neoliberal and crony-capitalist elements seek to dominate the
negotiations process ahead.
With labour making a strong stand, how best can community and social
movements contribute? We will discuss this, in the context of xenophobic
attacks (especially now by Durban municipal officials and police) that
still threaten Zimbabwean immigrants and many others. The growing
organisation of community-refugee forces continues seeking ways to fight
back, to generate a bottom-up foreign policy of civil society that
transcends old colonial boundaries.
There is no entry charge. Food will be served free from 7-8pm, and
transport will be provided free to community organisations (phone 031
The UKZN Centre for Civil Society is devoted to supporting social
justice locally, continentally, globally. (See http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za/default.asp?10,5)
The Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum is a network movement of progressive
South African civil society organisations, including youth, women,
labour, faith-based, human rights and student formations that are
engaged in the promotion of solidarity for sustainable peace, democracy
and human rights in Zimbabwe. (See
CCS and the ZSF believe that shifts in power and the exposure of the
militarised nature of the Zimbabwean state mean politics have
fundamentally changed, requiring new strategies and new forms of
Thousands have been chased and forced to run from their places of
safety. Eye witnesses flee to avoid the action of those who wish to
silence evidence of the daylight abductions now taking place in
Zimbabwe. Families, grandparents, and entire villages are being punished
for being linked to anybody known to oppose ZANU rule. Rural bases of
soldiers, living off rural communities and humanitarian aid, and militia
controlled road blocks demanding tolls and political compliance, confirm
the final implementation of Zimbabwe’s total militarisation by a
military junta: Shiri, Chiwenga, Chihuri and Zimondi.
The objectives of progressive forces are clear:
A multi-stakeholder transitional authority
An end to violence
The end of military rule!
Free and fair elections under a civilian authority
A people’s government that leads a social transformation process
Nonviolent, powerful efforts to expose the regime and force change are
already underway. We need to build on these. We need strong structures
that can involve people in decision making and engage government,
whoever they are. New forms of organisation are required that are led by
the voices of resistance from Zimbabwe, and that amplify these voices
Declaration of Trade Union and Civil Society Zimbabwe-Swaziland meeting
Patrick Craven, COSATU National Spokesperson, 15 July 2008
Declaration of preparatory meeting for trade union and civil society
international solidarity conference with Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
Leaders of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions, the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions and
the Swaziland Federation of Labour met today, 15 July 2008, to prepare
for an important international conference to be held in Johannesburg on
10-11 August 2008, to mobilise solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe
and Swaziland in their struggle for democracy and human rights.
Both countries pose a massive challenge to the people of Africa. Recent
developments threaten to roll back the spreading trend towards democracy
in Africa. That is why this solidarity conference is so important. It is
an opportunity for the workers of Africa to lead a campaign of the
people of Africa to demand the establishment of democracy and respect
for human rights in two countries where these concepts have been
trampled upon in the past period.
2008 is a year of elections in both countries, but in neither case does
the process resemble any accepted standards of democracy. Zimbabwe has
witnessed an election stolen by a regime which was defeated on 29 March.
Swaziland remains an absolute monarchy in the premier league of human
rights offenders, in which opposition parties are banned and the
proposed ‘election’ is a sham.
The meeting agreed on the need to build the capacity of the trade union
movement into a neatly weaved programme of action. Whilst responding to
the hostility of the political environment, it must also not neglect the
primary responsibility to workers as the core constituency of the trade
The Southern African Trade Union Co-ordinating Council (SATUCC) and
individual affiliates in the region need deeper engagement to
institutionalise solidarity as a permanent feature of the regional trade
union movement, in both Zimbabwe and Swaziland. In creating a network of
trade unions throughout the region, organised and acting in solidarity
with Zimbabwean and Swazi workers, it will constitute a broad solidarity
front of the working class in the region
We need to identify companies, organisations and individuals or even
families who might be associated with the ruling regimes, either
politically, economically or otherwise as beneficiaries of the current
system for further targeted action and isolation, starting with exposing
them and their activities
We need to clarify our approach to the on-going negotiations in
Zimbabwe, without forgetting to anticipate the emergence of such a
possibility in Swaziland. In doing so, we must develop scenarios and use
various models of transitions and government of national unity, as
reference points. In this regard we must also clarify further, the role
of civil society in political negotiations, to ensure that the majority
of our people are not mere spectators in the processes that are
unfolding, so that they become only preserves of elites.
On Zimbabwe the meeting expressed a preference for an interim
government, where an independent person altogether, either a judge or a
reverend, runs the state in the interim, with the different parties
selecting ministries of their choice under his/her oversight, with
parliament as an existing institution responsible for promulgating laws,
until proper elections are held.
The reasoning is that the 29th March election outcome was legitimate,
notwithstanding its own limitations, and can form a useful basis for
such a possible configuration. This transitional government of national
unity must not last for more than two years.
The meeting agreed to oppose Western powers-initiated sanctions other
than sanctions targeted at the leadership of the illegal government. We
however support actions initiated by workers of the region, continent
and the world over, under the leadership of SATUCC, ITUC-AFRO and ITUC
as a whole.
In this regard the meeting called on COSATU, SATUCC and the rest of the
workers everywhere to refuse to handle goods destined for Zimbabwe and
Swaziland for an initial period of one week, which will be extended if
no progress is made in the realisation of our demands.
We agreed to work with the rest of civil society to stage a mass protest
and rally when the SADC heads of states summit is convened in South
Africa on 15-17 August 2008. The protest march and rally will be held on
16 August near the venue of the summit.
PRESS STATEMENT ISSUED BY CIVIL SOCIETY FOLLOWING THE NATIONAL CIVIL SOCIETY CONSULTATIVE MEETING
Harare, 15 July 2008
We, civil society organizations acting on behalf of the people of
Zimbabwe, today reassert our commitment to the struggle for a transition
to democracy. In doing so, we stand firmly by the principles of
democratic constitutionalism that are embodied in the People’s Charter
and which represent the birthright of every Zimbabwean. Given the
present environment of fear and oppression, we declare that democratic
reform must be preceded by the cessation of violence, restoration of law
and order, and facilitation of humanitarian relief. If such conditions
are met, we are prepared to support the installation of a transitional
government created after consultation with all stakeholders.
We believe that a transitional government would provide an appropriate
vehicle for ushering democratic reform. The transitional authority would
have a specific, limited mandate to oversee the drafting of a new,
democratic and people-driven constitution and the installation of a
legitimate government. We wholeheartedly reject the suggestion of a
power-sharing agreement that fails to immediately address the inadequacy
of the current constitutional regime. The transitional government must
be established in line with the following:
1. Leadership by a neutral body. The transitional government should be
headed by an individual who is not a member of ZANU-PF or MDC.
2. Broad representation. Individuals from a broad sector of Zimbabwean
society should be incorporated into the transitional government. This
should include representatives from labor organizations, women’s and
children’s rights groups, churches, and various other interest groups.
3. Specific, limited mandate. The transitional government should be
tasked with facilitating the drafting and adoption of a new constitution
and then holding elections under the new constitutional framework. It
should only govern the country until such time as the government elected
under the new constitution is installed. The negotiating parties should
provide a very clear timeframe for this process, with no more than 18
months of rule by the transitional government.
4. People-driven constitutional development. The process of drafting a
new constitution must include broad-based consultation with the public.
Interest groups such as women, labor, churches, and media should be
given special opportunities to provide input. The draft constitution
should not be enacted until it has been ratified by the public in a
5. Restoration of good governance. State institutions such as the
judiciary, police, security services, and state welfare agencies should
be depoliticized and reformed. Steps should be taken to fight corruption
and promote accountability for public officials. Restrictions on press
freedom should be lifted and access to state media outlets should be
6. Transitional justice initiatives. The transitional government should
design and implement a system to bring to justice the perpetrators of
gross human rights violations. This framework for transitional justice
should be embedded in the new constitution. In the event of the above
conditions not being met, civil society commits itself to continue in
actions that increase pressure on whosoever will be holding state power
to embrace people-centered democratic process.
THE ZIMBABWE PEOPLES’ CHARTER
Adopted at the Peoples’ Convention, Harare, on the 9th of February 2008
We, the People of Zimbabwe,
After deliberations amongst ourselves and with the full knowledge of the
work done by civic society organizations and social movements;
With an understanding that our struggle for emancipation has been
drawn-out and is in need of a people-driven solution;
Hereby declare for all to know that: -
1. Political Environment
In the knowledge that our political environment since colonialism and
after our national independence in 1980 has remained characterised by:
a) A lack of respect for the rule of law;
b) Political violence, most notably that which occurred in the early to
late 1980s in the provinces of Midlands and Matabeleland, and that which
occurred in the years from 1997 to present day, where lives were lost as
a result of government actions undertaken with impunity;
c) A lack of fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of
expression and information, association and assembly, all characterised
by the militarization of arms of the state and government.
The People shall have a political environment in which: -
· All people in Zimbabwe, including children, are guaranteed without
discrimination the rights to freedom of expression and information,
association and assembly, and all other fundamental rights and freedoms
as provided under international law to which the state has bound itself
· All people in Zimbabwe live in a society characterised by tolerance of
divergent views, cultures or religions, honesty, integrity and common
concern for the welfare of all.
· All people in Zimbabwe are guaranteed safety and security, and a
lawful environment free from human rights violations and impunity.
· All national institutions including the judiciary, law enforcement
agencies, state security agencies, electoral, media and human rights
commissions, are independent and impartial and serve all the people of
Zimbabwe without fear or favour.
· There exists a free and vibrant media, which places emphasis on
freedom of expression and information and a government, which guarantees
independent public media as well as a vibrant and independent private
· All people in Zimbabwe live in a society, which is the embodiment of
transparency, with an efficient public service and a belief in a
legitimate, people-centred state.
And hereby further declare that never again shall we let lives be lost,
maimed, tortured or traumatised by the dehumanising experiences of
political intolerance, violence and lack of democratic government.
Fully believing that all elections in Zimbabwe remain illegitimate and
without merit until undertaken under a new democratic and people-driven
constitution, The People shall have all elections under a new
people-driven constitutional dispensation characterised by: -
· Equal access to the media.
· One independent, impartial, accountable and well-resourced electoral
· A process of delimitation, which is free from political control, which
is accurate, fair, transparent and undertaken with full public
· A continually updated and accurate voters’ roll, which is open and
accessible to all.
· Transparent and neutral location of polling stations, agreed to
through a national consultative process devoid of undue ruling or
opposition party and government influence, which are accessible to all
including those with special needs.
· Voter education with the full participation of civic society that is
both expansive and well-timed in order to allow citizens to exercise
their democratic right to choose leaders of their choice to the full.
· International, Regional and Local Observers and Monitors being
permitted access to everyone involved in the electoral process.
· An Electoral Court, which is independent and impartial, well-staffed
and wellresourced to address all issues relating to electoral processes,
conduct, conflicts and results in a timely manner.
3. Constitutional Reform
Holding in relation to constitutional reform that a new constitution of
Zimbabwe must be produced by a people-driven, participatory process and
must in it guarantee: -
a) That the Republic of Zimbabwe shall be a democracy, with separation
of powers, a justiciable Bill of Rights that recognises civil,
political, social, economic, cultural and environmental rights;
b) Devolution of government authority to provinces and to local
c) A multi-party system of democratic government based on universal
suffrage and regular free and fair elections and the right to recall
d) The right to citizenship for any person born in Zimbabwe. Birth
certificates, national identity documents and passports shall be easily
available for all citizens;
e) A credible and fair election management body and process;
f) An independent, impartial and competent judiciary;
g) The protection of labour rights and the right to informal trade;
h) The protection and promotion of the rights of people living with
i) Independent and impartial commissions which deal with gender
equality, land, elections, human rights and social justice;
j) An impartial state security apparatus;
The People shall have a constitutional reform process, which is
characterised by the following: -
· Comprehensive consultation with the people of Zimbabwe wherein they
are guaranteed freedom of expression and information, association and
· The collection of the views of the people and their compilation into a
draft constitution that shall be undertaken by an All-Stakeholders’
Commission composed of representatives of government, parliament,
political parties, civil society, labour, business and the church with a
gender and minority balance.
· A transparent process of the appointment of the All-Stakeholders’
Commission members as well as their terms of reference.
· The holding of a national referendum on any draft constitution.
4. National Economy and Social Welfare
Holding in relation to the national economy and social welfare that
because the colonial and post colonial periods resulted in massive
growth in social inequality and marginalisation of women, youths,
peasants, informal traders, workers, the disabled, professionals and the
ordinary people in general, we hereby make it known that our national
economy belongs to the people of Zimbabwe and must serve as a mechanism
through which everyone shall be equally guaranteed the rights to
dignity, economic and social justice which shall be guided by the
· People-centered economic planning and budgets at national and local
government levels that guarantee social and economic rights
· The obligation on the state, provincial and local authorities to
initiate public programmes to build schools, hospitals, houses, dams and
roads and create jobs.
· Equitable access to and distribution of national resources for the
benefit of all people of Zimbabwe.
· A transparent process of ownership and equitable, open and fair
redistribution of land from the few to the many.
· The right of the people of Zimbabwe to refuse repayment of any odious
debt accrued by a dictatorial government.
· Protection of our environment from exploitation and misuse, whether by
individuals or companies.
· Social and Economic justice as a fundamental principle that guides a
new people driven constitution and in particular the specification of
the people’s social-economic rights in the Bill of Rights.
And in particular, we hold that the national economy shall ensure:
· Free and quality public health care including free drugs, treatment,
care and support for those living with HIV and AIDS.
· A living pension and social security allowances for all retirees,
elderly, disabled, orphans, unemployed and ex-combatants and ex-detainees.
· Decent work, employment and the right to earn a living.
· Affordable, quality and decent public funded transport.
· Food security and the availability of basic commodities at affordable
prices, where necessary, to ensure universal access.
· Free and quality public education from crèche to college and
· Decent and affordable public funded housing.
· Fair labour standards including:
o A tax-free minimum wage linked to inflation and the poverty datum line
and pay equity for women, youth and casual workers.
o Safe working places and adequate state and employer funded
compensation for injury or death from accidents at work.
o Protection from unfair dismissal.
o Measures to ensure gender equity in the workplace, including equal pay
for work of equal worth, full and paid maternity and paternity leave.
· Access to trade within and without the national borders and removal of
all obstacles on the right of small traders, small scale producers and
vendors to trade and earn a living.
5. National Value System
Believing that we must commit ourselves to a national value system that
recognises the humanity of every single individual in our society which
we shall call ubuntu, hunhu,
The People shall commit to: -
· Provide solidarity wherever needed to those that are less privileged
in our society as individuals or in any other capacity.
· Equally respect people of all ages.
· Challenging intolerance by learning and respecting all languages and
· An inclusive national process of truth, justice, reconciliation and
· Recognising all people involved in the liberation struggle.
And that this be done with an emphasis that ubuntu/hunhu is passed on
from one generation to the next at national and community level.
Holding in relation to gender that all human beings are created equal,
must live and be respected equally with equitable access to all
resources that our society offers regardless of their gender, and that
gender equality is the responsibility of women and men equally, we
recognise the role that our mothers and sisters played in the liberation
of our country from colonialism and their subsequent leading role in all
struggles for democracy and social justice.
The People state that these fundamental principles must be observed and
upheld at all levels of the Peoples’ Charter, both on paper and in
practice, where decisions are made about the following: -
· Our national budget and economy.
· Our legislative and government processes in order to allow
representative quota systems.
· Provision by the state of all health care and all sanitary
requirements of women.
· An understanding that women bear the brunt of any decline in social
welfare security, economic and political systems.
Believing that at all given times the youth, both female and male,
represent the present and the future of our country and that all those
in positions of leadership nationally and locally must remain true to
the fact that our country shall be passed on from one generation to the
The People state that, in order for each generation to bequeath to the
next a country that remains the epitome of hope, democracy and
sustainable livelihoods, the following principles for the youth must be
adhered to and respected: -
· The youth shall be guaranteed the right to education at all levels
until they acquire their first tertiary qualification.
· The youth shall be guaranteed an equal voice in decision-making
processes that not only affect them but the country as a whole in all
spheres of politics, the national economy and social welfare.
· The youth shall be guaranteed access to the right to health.
· The youth shall not be subject to political abuse through training
regimes that connote political violence or any semblance of propaganda
that will compromise their right to determine their future as both
individuals and as a collective.
· The youth have the right to associate and assemble and express
themselves freely of their own prerogative.
ADOPTED BY: -
Achieve Your Goal Trust
Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association
Combined Harare Residents’ Association
Chitungwiza Residents and Ratepayers Association
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
International Socialist Organisation
Matabeleland Aids Council
Media Alliance of Zimbabwe
Media Institute of Southern Africa – Zimbabwe Chapter
Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe
National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations
National Constitutional Assembly
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe
Restoration of Human Rights
Students’ Christian Movement of Zimbabwe
Students’ Solidarity Trust
Transparency International Zimbabwe
Women of Zimbabwe Arise, Men of Zimbabwe Arise
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights
Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
Zimbabwe Cross-Border Traders Association
Zimbabwe Election Support Network
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference
Zimbabwe National Students Union
Zimbabwe Social Forum
Zimbabwe Youth Movement
Zimbabwe Labour Centre.
Towards the light: A Review of the Wolpe Panel discussion on Zimbabwe
By Mavuso Dingani 25 August 2008
There is a joke I once heard, that if you are walking in a dark tunnel and somewhere in the distance you can make out light, then you must surely know that you are not in Zimbabwe. Some jokes have a paradoxical way of articulating our hopes in our disgust. Granted, the joke shows lack of agency, a resignation to powerful and unfathomable dark forces, and of the endless nightmare that is Zimbabwe. Yet Zimbabweans laugh at this joke, maybe derisively, but more with embarrassment, because they cannot but hope for a different outcome. That somewhere in the not too distant future, darkness will give way to light.
And an odyssey ‘through the darkness’ that is Zimbabwe was what we experienced at the Harold Wolpe lecture on the 24th of July 2008. The people to guide through this journey were a panel of four human rights activists, and a writer. There was Judith Todd; a daughter of a former Southern Rhodesian premier, a writer and long time political commentator, Joy Mabenge of Institute for Democracy in Zimbabwe, Richard Smith of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum (ZSF), Mary Banda from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA).
It was a lecture with difference because it began 30 minutes earlier at 5 p.m. and with a short documentary on the recent xenophobic attacks in May. The documentary was told through the voices of Zimbabwean teachers, workers, peasants and political activists displaced by violence (economic and political) back home only to fall into the whirlpool of xenophobic hatred in South Africa.
It was relevant because as much as I care to admit, one cannot honestly deny that the Zimbabwe crisis has had little to do with the huge influx of people into South Africa and the resultant hatred of foreigners. I confess that if I did not have to do this review I would have certainly missed this part of the programme because it makes me uneasy. I am confronted with the true sense of my position as a foreigner – which is at once uncertain and dangerous but also full of the possibility to reinvent oneself outside constrains of family, tribe and nation.
There was always a certain level of indifference to reading books, apart from studying prescribed school texts, in my family. So the few books that were in my parents’ house were located in the bathroom. The ‘library’ consisted of two shelves in the bathroom cabinet among the shoes in the bottom shelf, the toiletries somewhere in the middle with dirty laundry mostly in the washing basket but also sometimes scattered all over. I was then never one to read books when not required of me and only prescribed ones if forced. But one night, unable to sleep, I decided to look for an easy read in our ‘library’. One book caught my eye because on its cover was a picture of a crowd of people demonstrating, but what intrigued me was that one of them held a placard that read “We want freedom, Independence Now”. I decided to read that book. It did not cure my insomnia, but opened my eyes to another narrative of my country’s history, Zimbabwe, which was different to the prescribed version. That was my first encounter with Judith Todd. The book was An Act of Treason: Rhodesia 1965.
The details of An Act of Treason need no recounting because there are deeply inscribed in Judith Todd’s talk, as the first speaker on the podium, on the current Zimbabwe crisis. To her the present crisis is a bad sequel of the Rhodesian crisis that began in 1965 with the declaration of UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence); the Liberation war in the 70’s and the farce attempts at finding a settlement in between; Lancaster House and independence in 1980; to Gukurahundi in the 80’s and the 1988 unity accord. Her point, the Ecclesiastic dictum - there is nothing new under the sun.
And to prove the dictum she began by mentioning that Thabo Mbeki’s eight year “quiet diplomacy’ is not new in Zimbabwe’s history. In fact, she said, the country was first a victim of quiet diplomacy in the 1969, a few years after UDI, when the British government sent Lord Goodman to negotiate with the Smith regime so that an amicable solution that would satisfy the political aspirations of a Black elite whilst real power remained in the hands of the white minority. Lord Goodman’s mission led to the creation of the Pearce Commission whose intention was to railroad the black majority into agreeing with a deal that fell short of real political power. The gamble failed, she said, because “ordinary black Zimbabweans seemed to materialise behind every tree”. Wherever the commission went throughout the country, people called for the inclusion of nationalist leaders in any negotiations.
Judith Todd drew parallels between the current ZANU PF/MDC talks and another negotiation in 1978 that led to the Internal Settlement between the Smith regime and African leaders led by Bishop Abel Muzorewa. It was a settlement reached as the Liberation war intensified. It was another tactic drawn from the proverbial colonial ‘divide and rule’ tactic. Smith’s aim was to include moderate African leaders in a power sharing arrangement while excluding nationalists’ leaders (Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo) who called for real majority rule. And true to form a settlement was reached that was a parody of Majority rule. Abel Muzorewa became Prime Minister yet real power remained in white hands because they controlled the police, the army, judiciary and the civil service. It is a settlement that belongs in the dustbin of history because it produced a government that lasted six months and failed to end the liberation war. I am sure her intention was not to claim that those talks are equivalent with the current ZANU PF/MDC talks. We only fish it out, holding our noses of course, so that we can briefly analyse it, learn from it, then throw it back where it belongs.
The Lancaster House talks and the subsequent agreement were different. Lancaster was history par excellence because it opened up spaces that had hitherto been impossible to imagine in Zimbabwe’s political terrain. All we need to say here is that it ushered in modern-day Zimbabwe with boundless possibilities for the renewal of a nation that had been in crisis for the previous 15 years. However, what is important to Judith Todd was that while it guaranteed Majority Rule it failed to resolve the exercise of power. It left the culture of an unbridled authoritarian executive, a legacy of colonial occupation and white settler rule, which is at the heart of the Zimbabwe Crisis today. The lesson is that whilst it resulted in a black government it did not guarantee participatory democracy.
Because barely had the ink dried on the agreement, that the two former nationalist allied parties ZANU PF and PF ZAPU (the Patriotic Front), were already at each other’s throats. By 1982 Joshua Nkomo the leader of ZAPU and his colleagues were kicked out of government by Robert Mugabe. The PF ZAPU leaders were accused of treason (doesn’t that sound familiar), but worse of arming a guerrilla force in the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces. That was the harbinger of the Gukurahundi massacres, as thousands of civilians were killed on the pretext of suppressing the uprising. Again, as before, the state turned on its own people, albeit in independent majority ruled Zimbabwe.
The 1987 Unity Cord agreement between ZANU PF and PF ZAPU ended the hostilities. Again in true Zimbabwean form the exercise of power remained unresolved, on the contrary, the crisis of power deepened. The two parties agreed to share power in a unity government. The price PF ZAPU paid to be included in government was the creation of an executive president. Mugabe became president with vast powers that meant that he could effectively appoint a fifth of the members of parliament and even legislate laws by decree. Whilst it meant peace in Matebeleland it was another blow to a democratic Zimbabwe.
Fast forward to 2008…. as the current talks between the ZANU PF and the MDC on a power sharing agreement continue, we should not forget the lessons of history, Todd says. History that beget a Mugabe from Smith, should not also beget a Tsvangirayi much the same as the previous two, she warns. Rather Zimbabweans should transcend its colonial/post-colonial legacy, were big men with vast egos made history behind closed doors.
What is to be done (then)? The next two speakers’ task was to provide us with clues. For Joy Mabenge of Institute for Democracy in Zimbabwe, it is international solidarity. A solidarity that goes beyond governments, but is built through networks of progressive social movements. The case of the Chinese ship, An Yue Jiang, carrying arms destined for Zimbabwe was an excellent example, he pointed out. Dockworkers in Durban, Nambia and Angola through the International Transport Workers Federation, refused to offload the arms cargo in the various port throughout the Southern Africa. They refused on the basis that three million rounds of ammunition, 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades and 2,500 mortar rounds were for no other use in Zimbabwe (a country not at war) than on its own citizens. Furthermore, why would a government deem arms more important when there was a severe shortage of Anti-retrovirals in the country, Mabenge asked? It can arguably be asserted that if it were up solely up to the governments of Southern Africa the arms would have surely passed through to Zimbabwe.
He also drew parallels with the global anti-apartheid movements that forced their governments to boycott the apartheid state. From the 60’s to the 80’s governments in Europe and North America were forced by social movements outside state power to recognise the struggle for human rights for the majority of South Africans. He alluded to the fact that only in the last couple of years had civil society in Zimbabwe recognised the power of regional civil society to influence events in the country.
The next speaker, Richard Smith of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum (ZSF) based in Johannesburg, reiterated Joy Mabenge’s point that a peoples’ solidarity based approach for a democratic Zimbabwe is already happening. The ZSF is a network of South African social movements that help Zimbabwean immigrants deal with xenophobia, hunger and homelessness. The gist of his talk was to link the film mentioned above and the need to conscientise community based formations that migration to South Africa is inevitable because its not island apart from the rest of Africa. Therefore, a political crisis in Zimbabwe is their problem too.
It was only fitting that Mary Banda from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), a Zimbabwean refugee, also came to podium. Banda survived beatings and torture from ZANU PF thugs in the run-up to the elections in Zimbabwe. She fled her home, leaving her family and friends to seek refuge in South Africa because of her political views. She drew the loudest applause from the audience for her short yet powerful tale of hunger and violence that is perpetrated on women by the state, which is supposed to protect the vulnerable. I suppose the audience connected with her because beyond the loft ideals of democracy and human rights, historical analysis and international solidarity, we are after all talking about real people who deserve to see the light.
How do we solve our common problems? Durban Communities & Social Movements, 12 June 2008
The Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal invites you to the following event:
DATE: Thursday, 26 June
VENUE: UKZN Howard College Auditorium, Howard College Campus
We welcome the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and social
justice activists from all over our region.
At a time of enormous political tension in neighbouring Zimbabwe, we
continue our series of discussions on overcoming xenophobia.
Durban communities have long mobilised against problems: poverty and
unemployment, forced removals, evictions, relocations, bad housing,
water, sanitation, electricity crisis, high food prices, racism, sexual
exploitation, crime, drugs, corrupt government, political repression
here and across Africa, old-fashioned colonial borders between our
people, thugs who scapegoat and attack refugees….
Facing these problems together is critical.
COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS MEET REFUGEES TO UNITE IN SOLIDARITY@ UKZN CENTRE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY
Refugees and immigrants welcome! Contact Baruti Amisi (Chairperson of KZN Refugee Council): 083 683 8297
Community organisations welcome! Contact Orlean Naidoo (Chairperson of Westcliff Flat Residents Association, Chatsworth): 072 671 2901
Other information, contact Helen or Lungi at the Centre for Civil Society: 031 260 3195
(isiZulu and French translation provided
Wolpe and ActionAid International Joint Lecture: Gender, States & Markets
Eunice Sahle 26 April 2008
The last two decades have witnessed attempts to reform the economic and political characteristics of African states along the lines of the neoliberal development paradigm. In the economic arena, most states have instituted development policies aimed at significantly reducing the role ofthe state. On the political front, an attempt has been made to introduce good governance practices of which an important aspect has been the demise of one-party authoritarian states and the establishment ofmultiparty political structures. In neoliberal terms, these reforms are intended to rejuvenate Africa's stunted economic and political development and thus facilitate the continent's transition to modern market-based capitalist societies.
This paper examines neoliberal restructuring with specific reference to reforms geared to promote a market-based capital accumulation process in contemporary Africa. The paper contends that, contrary to the neoliberal theory that informs contemporary reconfiguration of the role of the state in the economic arena in Africa and elsewhere, state structures and markets are not gender neutral. The analysis demonstrates how the patriarchal ideology that has marked the evolution of a state-led capital accumulation process has contributed to the marginalization of the majority of African women. It also highlights how the promotion of market-led accumulation strategies by the transnational lending community and the governing institutions of this community, leading among them the World Bank, is deepening this process in the contemporary era. The paper has three sections. The first section discusses the dominant approaches to the central concerns ofthis paper and highlights the analytical power of a critical feminist political economy perspective. Section two demonstrates the gendered foundations of African states through an examination ofcore aspects of the state-led accumulation process in the colonial and pre-neoliberal restructuring periods. The last section analyzes the key features of neoliberal market-based reforms and shows their gendered nature.
Truth, Propaganda, Power: An evening with John Pilger
THE HAROLD WOLPE LECTURE
presented by the Centre for Civil Society and the Centre for Creative Arts' TIME OF THE WRITER 2008
Sunday 30 March, 7:30-9pm
Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, UKZN
View Poster for Event
Firebrand hasn't lost his spark after all these years
Renowned journalist John Pilger is coming to South Africa for an honorary doctorate and to speak at the Time of the Writer Festival
ACCLAIMED JOURNALIST JOHN PILGER AT TIME OF THE WRITER
John Pilger's work has been a beacon of light in often dark times. The
realities he has brought to light have been a revelation, over and over
again, and his courage and insight a constant inspiration.
John Pilger, the world acclaimed journalist and documentary filmmaker,
is one of the participants at this year’s Time of the Writer festival
(25-30 March). Pilger, who will receive an honorary doctorate from
Rhodes University, will be the featured writer in a special evening
programme on Sunday, 30 March, at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre
(University of KwaZulu-Natal). Presented in conjunction with the Centre
for Civil Society’s Harold Wolpe Lecture, the evening, which will be
live-streamed over the Internet, is entitled Truth, Propaganda and
Power. Beginning with an extended trailer of Pilger’s new film The War
on Truth, and an introduction by veteran writer activist Dennis Brutus,
Pilger will be in discussion with Mail & Guardian editor Ferial Haffajee
and UKZN academic and writer Patrick Bond, followed by a Q and A.
In the month leading up to the lecture the public will be given an
opportunity of getting more acquainted with Pilger’s extensive work
through the John Pilger Retrospective Documentary Film Festival,
presented by the Centre for Civil Society who will facilitate
post-screening discussions. Entrance to the screenings is free.
JOHN PILGER BIOGRAPHY
John Pilger was trained as a newspaper journalist at Australian
Consolidated Press in Sydney. It was one of the strictest language
courses I know, he says. Devised by a celebrated, highly literate
editor, Brian Penton, the aim was economy of language and accuracy. It
certainly taught me to admire writing that was spare, precise and free
of cliches, and to use adjectives only when absolutely necessary. I have
long since slipped Brian Penton's leash, but those early disciplines
helped shape my journalism and writing style.
Pilger became a reporter and feature writer on the Sydney Sunday
Telegraph. Within a couple of years, like many of his Australian
generation, he and two colleagues left for Europe. They set up an
ill-fated freelance 'agency' in Italy (with the grand title of
'Interep') and quickly went broke. Arriving in London, Pilger freelanced
for magazines, then joined Reuters, moving to the Daily Mirror,
Britain's biggest selling newspaper, which was then changing to a
He became a feature writer, then special correspondent and chief
international correspondent. He reported from all over the world and
covered numerous wars, notably Vietnam. Still in his twenties, he became
the youngest journalist to receive Britain's highest award for
journalism, that of Journalist of the Year. (He became the first to win
it twice). Moving to the United States, he reported the upheavals there
in the late 1960s and 1970s. He marched with America's poor from Alabama
to Washington, following the assassination of Martin Luther King. He was
in the same room when Robert Kennedy, the presidential candidate, was
assassinated in June 1968.
His work in South East Asia produced a memorable issue of the Daily
Mirror, devoted almost entirely to his world exclusive dispatches from
Cambodia in the aftermath of Pol Pot's reign. The combined impact of his
Mirror reports and his subsequent documentary, 'Cambodia Year Zero', was
more than $40 million raised for the people of that stricken country.
Similarly, his report from East Timor, where he travelled under cover in
1993, helped galvanise support for the East Timorese, then brutally
occupied by Indonesia. His reputation as a 'campaigning' journalist
grew; his four-year campaign for a group of children damaged at birth by
the drug Thalidomide and left out of the settlement with the drugs
company, resulted in a special settlement.
In 1970, he began a parallel career in British television, starting with
the ITV current affairs series, 'World in Action'. His first film, 'The
Quiet Mutiny', is credited with disclosing to a worldwide audience the
internal disintegration of the US army in Vietnam. Thirty-six years and
some 60 documentaries later, he is still making challenging films for
ITV. His films have won Academy Awards in Britain and the United States.
He has been a freelance writer since he and the Mirror parted company in
1986. His articles have appeared worldwide in newspapers such as the
Guardian, the Independent, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times,
The South China Morning Post, the Mail & Guardian (South Africa), the
Sydney Morning Herald and The Age (Australia), Aftonbladet (Sweden),
Morgenbladet (Norway) and Il Manifesto (Italy). He returned to write for
the Mirror for eighteen months during the build-up to the invasion of
Iraq. Since 1991, he has written a fortnightly column for the New
Statesman. In 2003, he was awarded the prestigous Sophie Prize for '30
years of exposing injustice and promoting human rights.'
Sydney High School
Four-year journalism cadetship scheme, Australian Consolidated Press
1958-62: Reporter, freelance writer, sports writer and sub-editor, Daily
& Sunday Telegraph, Sydney
1962: Freelance correspondent, Italy
1962-63: Middle East desk, Reuter, London
1963-86: Reporter, sub-editor, feature writer and Chief Foreign
Correspondent, Daily Mirror
1986-88: Editor-in-Chief and a founder, News on Sunday, London
1969-71: Reporter, World in Action, Granada Television
1974-81: Reporter/Producer, Associated Television
1981: Documentary film-maker, Central and Carlton Television
Accredited war correspondent Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt, India,
Bangladesh, Biafra, Middle East Contributor
BBC Television Australia, BBC Radio, BBC World Service, London
Broadcasting, ABC Television, ABC Radio Australia Publications
Daily Mirror, The Guardian, The Independent, New Statesman, The New York
Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation: New York, The Age: Melbourne,
The Sydney Morning Herald, The Bulletin: Sydney, plus French, Italian,
Scandinavian, Canadian, Japanese and other newspapers and periodicals.
The Last Day (1975)
Aftermath: The Struggles of Cambodia and Vietnam (1981)
The Outsiders (1984)
A Secret Country (1989)
Distant Voices (1992 and 1994)
Hidden Agendas (1998)
Reporting the World: John Pilger's Great Eyewitness Photographers (2001)
The New Rulers of the World (2002) Video
Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and its Triumphs (ed.) Cape
Blowin' in the wind (2004)
Freedom Next Time (2006)
The Quiet Mutiny 1971
Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia 1979
Nicaragua. A Nations Right to Survive
Japan Behind the Mask 1987
Cambodia The Betrayal 1990
Death of a Nation: The Timor Conspiracy 1994
Vietnam: the Last Battle 1995
Inside Burma: Land of Fear 1996
Apartheid Did Not Die 1998
Welcome To Australia 1999
Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq 2000
The New Rulers of the World 2001-2002
Palestine Is Still the Issue 2002 Video
Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror 2003
Stealing a Nation 2004
The War on Democracy 2007
The Last Day (1983)
D. Litt, Staffordshire University
D. Phil, Dublin City University
D. Arts, Oxford Brookes University
D. Laws, St.Andrew's University
D. Phil, Kingston University
D. Univ, The Open University
1995 Edward Wilson Fellow, Deakin University, Melbourne
Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor, Cornell University, USA
1966: Descriptive Writer of the Year
1967: Reporter of the Year
1967: Journalist of the Year
1970: International Reporter of the Year
1974: News Reporter of the Year
1977: Campaigning Journalist of the Year
1979: Journalist of the Year
1979-80: UN Media Peace Prize, Australia
1980-81: UN Media Peace Prize, Gold Medal, Australia
1979: TV Times Readers' Award
1990: Reporters San Frontiers Award, France
1990: The George Foster Peabody Award, USA
1991: American Television Academy Award ('Emmy')
1991: British Academy of Film and Television Arts - The Richard Dimbleby
1995: International de Television Geneve Award
2001: The Monismanien Prize (Sweden)
2003: The Sophie Prize for Human Rights (Norway)
2003: EMMA Media Personality of the Year
2004: Royal Television Society Best Documentary, 'Stealing a Nation'
Visit www.cca.ukzn.ac.za for biographies and photos of participants or contact the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts for
more information on 031 260 2506 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal),
the 11th Time of the Writer festival is funded principally by the
Department of Arts and Culture, Humanist Institute for Development
Cooperation (HIVOS), Stichting Doen, French Institute of South Africa,
the Royal Netherlands Embassy, and City of Durban.
For Media Queries Contact Sharlene Versfeld
T: 031 201 1650 : F: 031 201 1654
'Reich is in the shadows, but still in control'
John Pilger (Sunday Independent) July 30 2006
So says John Pilger, the award-winning journalist who was banned from
South Africa for 30 years. In this exclusive extractfrom his new book,
Freedom Next Time, he describes the 'epic dream and hidden reality' of
today's South Africa
East of Cape Town, in a former bantustan known as Ciskei, is Dimbaza.
From December 1967, more than 10 000 people were dumped here, mostly
women and children packed into trucks like animals. They arrived at
night and faced a windswept hillside without water, power, shelter. One
of them was Stanley Mbalala, who was 12 years old.
He told me he remembered a forest becoming firewood during the first
winter. People lived in tents and some built wooden huts with zinc roofs
and dirt floors. Later arrivals had boxes made from asbestos and cement
that were so hot in summer and cold and damp in winter that the very
young and old perished in them.
In 1969, a spokesman for the chief of the Bantu Affairs Commissioner's
Office explained the policy: We are housing redundant people [in
Dimbaza]. These people could not render productive service in an urban
Physically, Dimbaza is remarkable. In the centre is a children's
cemetery, as if an entire community has been arranged around the graves
of its young, mostly of infants aged under two. There are no headstones.
There are plastic toys among the weeds and the broken glass of shattered
flower holders; emaciated cattle graze there.
I tripped over aluminium pipes embedded in pieces of broken concrete,
which served as headstones. On one of them is scratched: Dear Jack,
aged six months, missed so bad, died 12 August 1976. Most died from
preventable illness such as diarrhoea, or they starved to death. At
least 500 children are buried here, or were.
Stanley told me that in the 1970s, heavy rains washed away many of the
graves, and little skeletons appeared at the bottom of the hill. There
has never been the money to make anything of this sacred ground, he said.
In 1978 this rural concentration camp became, in the words of the
regime, a showcase of investment opportunity (cheap labour); and
factories were laid out like a grandstand surrounding the children's
graveyard. Most closed down. Like so many other survivors, Stanley lost
his job in 1996, two years after he gained the vote.
Such is the epic dream and hidden reality of the new South Africa. It
means that PW Botha and other apartheid criminals responsible for the
Dimbazas live out their lives in comfort while unemployment,
undernourishment and malnutrition continue to assault the majority.
Almost half the population lives in poverty, with 22 million people
described as desperate and 5,3 million South African children …
suffering from hunger. According to the United Nations Development
Programme, all the indicators of poverty and unemployment have shown
significant increases since 1995.
It is often quite surreal. Driving away from the land of the very poor
you arrive in the land of the very rich. In the Cape, as in
KwaZulu-Natal, hunched, scabrous terrain gives way to a vast white-owned
garden, as if you have been spirited to the lush green fields of
In September 2005, a comprehensive study was presented to the South
African parliament that compared the treatment of landless black farmers
under apartheid and today. During the final decade of apartheid, 737 000
people were evicted from white-owned farmland. In the first decade of
democracy, 942 000 were evicted. Almost half of those forcibly removed
were children and almost a third were women.
A law meant to protect these people and put an end to peonage, the
Security of Tenure Act, was enacted by the Mandela government in 1997.
That year, Nelson Mandela told me: We have done something
revolutionary, for which we have received no credit at all. There is no
country where labour tenants have been given the security we have given
them. A farmer cannot just dismiss them.
The law proved a sham. Ninety-nine percent of evictions never reached
the courts. Some white farmers continue to abuse their black workers
with the impunity that apartheid gave them.
The ANC Freedom Charter states: Restriction of land ownership on a
racial basis shall be ended and all the land divided among those who work.
When the ANC came to power in 1994, the priority of land restitution
was allocated 0,3 percent of the national budget. In 2006, it is still
less than 1 percent.
In Johannesburg, I shall always remember Houghton for its walls: long,
high, white walls that bring to mind Breyten Breytenbach's remark about
painting our windows white to keep the night in. The ubiquitous
servants hurry to and fro; white people on the streets are rare.
It was an early spring evening in St David's Road, and the grass was
glistening from the spray of many sprinklers as the first guests
arrived. Chauffeur-driven Mercedes and BMWs with black faces in the back
converged on a garden party.
They were mostly men in business suits, both white and black men who
seemed to know each other and affected an uncertain bonhomie across the
old racial divide. The party was given by an organisation which,
according to its brochure, gives guidance on Black Economic Empowerment.
The guest of honour was Cyril Ramaphosa, the former secretary-general of
the National Union of Mineworkers and the man who held the microphone
for Mandela when he told the black nation on the day of his release:
Your hopes and dreams are about to be realised. The principal
negotiator of the ANC's historic compromises, Ramaphosa is now a
When I arrived at Johannesburg airport, there was a large poster of him
grinning and the words: Cyril invites you to share our interest in
beer, food, property and newspapers. This was a share issue for a
company called New Africa Investments, which, soon after Cyril issued
his invitation, lost more than half its share value.
Cyril's message on the lawn in Houghton was that black people needed to
empathise with their former opponents. Now empathising with rich white
businessmen, for his metamorphosis he had received an accolade from
Baroness Thatcher: she who once described Mandela and the ANC as
Cyril is a champion, some would say the embodiment, of Black Economic
Empowerment, or BEE, which he describes as a philosophy for the new
South Africa. What this means is the inclusion of a small group of
blacks in the country's white corporate masonry, which continues to
dominate economic life. From banking to mining, manufacturing to media,
white-owned companies, since democracy, have taken on black partners,
the most prominent of whom are former liberation heroes, known as the
Thus, the same black faces pop up in boardroom photographs. This
co-option has allowed white and foreign capital to fulfil its legal
obligations under new corporate charters and, more importantly, to gain
access to the ANC establishment.
The rewards have been considerable. In November 2005, Nicky Oppenheimer, the chairman of De Beers, the world's largest diamond producer, announced the sale of 26 percent of the company to a black empowerment group, Ponahalo Investment Holdings.
The people who will benefit lavishly are half a dozen ANC luminaries,
including Manne Dipico, the chairman of Ponahalo and a former premier of
Northern Cape province, whose slice is R343 million.
The waBenzi are not a recent phenomenon. Long before democracy,
magazines such as Ebony, Tribute and Enterprise celebrated the tastes
and interests of a black bourgeoisie whose two-garage Soweto homes were
included on tours for those foreigners the regime sought to impress.
Like the ANC government today, the apartheid regime in its last decade
understood the value of a black middle class as a buffer in a brutally
unequal system. Of course, there never was a middle - and that has not
Faced with a growing popular resistance in the mid-1980s, PW Botha
offered black businessmen generous loans from the Industrial Development
Corporation. This allowed them to set up companies outside the
bantustans. In this way, a black company like New Africa Investments
Limited was able to buy part of Metropolitan Life from the Sanlam
corporation. Within a decade, Ramaphosa was deputy chairman of what was
effectively a creation of apartheid.
According to the ANC, the wealth generated by the newly empowered
would trickle down and create jobs. The opposite has happened. As
black capitalists proved they could be as ruthless as their former white
masters in labour relations, cronyism and the pursuit of profit,
hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost in mergers and restructuring.
Between 1995 and 2000, as the black empowered moved into white
enclaves of wealth and privilege, unemployment almost doubled and the
majority of South Africans fell deeper into poverty.
While the gap between the wealthy whites and newly enriched blacks began
to close, the gulf between the black middle class and the majority
widened as never before. The new apartheid was one of class, not race.
In the 1970s, the ANC declared: It is a fundamental feature of our
strategy that victory must embrace more than formal political democracy.
To allow the existing economic forces to retain their interests intact
does not represent even a shadow of liberation. In 2001, George Soros
told the Davos World Economic Forum: South Africa is in the hands of
In the South African winter of that year, Henrietta Mqokomiso stood
outside her home in Alexandra township in Johannesburg. It was dawn and
bitterly cold. She and her children knew what was coming.
Three yellow crosses were painted on her door, which meant that, in a
few hours, her house would be demolished: a house that had precious
electricity, water, a bathroom and a toilet. Along with thousands of
others, she would be forcibly removed to a barren plot, where, if she
was lucky, there would be a shack with no power, no water, no bathroom
and no toilet. Apartheid was better than this, she said. Forced
removals, the signature of apartheid, are common again in South Africa.
While the average white household income has risen 15 percent, according
to government statistics, average black household income has fallen by
19 percent: a descent from one level of poverty to another. Power and
water bills have risen so fast they now consume almost a third of the
income of the poorest families.
Just call me a Thatcherite, said Thabo Mbeki at a press conference in
June 1996, at which the two-year-old ANC government presented its
economic strategy, known as Growth, Employment and Redistribution, or
Gear. Behind a façade of wealth and job creation was, in all but name,
a World Bank structural adjustment programme in thrall to an orthodoxy
known as the Washington Consensus, which had devastated the economies of poor countries all over the world, notably in sub-Saharan Africa.
Public services would fall in behind privatisation, often in
public-private partnerships; foreign investment would receive generous
tax breaks; low tariffs would entice foreign imports; low inflation
would preside over low wages and high unemployment (known as labour
flexibility); controls on capital flight would be lifted and the rand
would be subjected to the vagaries of the market.
It was as if the ANC aspired to be whiter than white in its relations
with the rulers of the world.
We seek to establish, said Trevor Manuel, the minister of finance, an
environment in which winners flourish. Having metamorphosed from
long-haired biker and Cape Flats activist to the very model of a
born-again capitalist, Manuel boasted of a deficit so low it had fallen
almost to the level of European economies, with minimal public spending
to match and a dedication to economic growth, the euphemism for a
There was something very strange about all this. Was this a country of
corporate hustlers celebrating their arcane deals in the voluminous
business pages: of Harvard-trained technocrats breaking open the
champagne at the latest credit rating from Duff & Phelps in New York? Or
was it a country of deeply impoverished men, women and children without
clean water and sanitation, whose infinite human resource was being
repressed and wasted yet again? How did this happen?
I think the reason behind the ANC leadership going for the IMF approach
is because they are ashamed that most of their people live in the Third
World, said the Africa analyst Peter Robbins.
They don't like to think of themselves as being mostly an African-type
economy. So economic apartheid has replaced legal apartheid with the
same consequences for the same people, yet it is greeted as one of the
greatest achievements in world history.
The question begs: what exactly was the deal struck between the ANC
leadership and the fascist Broederbond that stood behind the apartheid
regime? What had Mandela and Mbeki and the other exiles in Zambia
offered? What role had the Americans and international capital played?
In 1985, apartheid suffered two disasters: the Johannesburg stock market
crashed and the regime defaulted on its mounting international debt. The
chieftains of South African capital took fright; and in September that
year a group led by Gavin Relly, chairman of the Anglo American
Corporation, met Oliver Tambo, the ANC president, and other resistance
officials, in Zambia.
Their message was that a transition from apartheid to a black-governed
liberal democracy was possible if order and stability were
guaranteed. These were euphemisms for a capitalist state in which social
justice would not be a priority, to say the least.
Declassified United States files make this clear. On October 24 1985, a
top secret report of a White House meeting describes the urgent need to
set up a US Corporate Council on South Africa that would co-ordinate
business pressure on Pretoria to move more rapidly away from apartheid
and towards an acceptable democracy. Full-page newspaper
advertisements were agreed; in thinly veiled language, they would say
that Washington had decreed that apartheid was now bad for business.
Soon after his release, Mandela was in the US. The ANC, he said in New
York, will reintroduce the market to South Africa. With Mandela's
reassurances, foreign capital, led by American companies, surged back
into southern Africa, tripling its stake to $11,7 billion.
The unspoken deal was that whites would retain economic control in
exchange for black majority rule: the crown of political power for the
jewel of the South African economy, as Professor Ali Mazrui put it.
Over the course of three years, half a dozen critical decisions were
made by a small group around Thabo Mbeki (who was advising Mandela),
Manuel and Alec Erwin, the trade minister.
These were: in 1992, to drop nationalisation, which had been an ANC
pledge reiterated by Mandela; in 1993, to endorse the apartheid regime's
agreement to join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT),
which effectively surrendered economic independence and, in the same
year, to repay the $25 billion of apartheid-era inherited foreign debt,
grant the Reserve Bank formal independence and accept loans from the
International Monetary Fund; and in 1995, to abolish exchange controls,
which allowed wealthy whites to take their capital overseas. Economic
apartheid was solidified.
When I met FW de Klerk in London in 1998, I said: You ensured the white
population had to make no substantial changes; in fact, many are better
off. Didn't you really win?
It was as if a secret truth had been put to him. Waving away the smoke
of an ever-present cigarette, he said: It is true that our lives have
not fundamentally changed. We can still go to the cricket at Newlands
and watch the rugby. We are doing okay.
For the majority, the poverty has not changed, has it? I said.
Warming to this implied criticism of the ANC, he agreed that his most
enduring achievement was to have handed on his regime's economic
policies, including the same corporate brotherhood. He spoke about
blacks who now live in big houses as the beneficiaries of affirmative
Isn't that the continuation of apartheid by other means?
At this, he beamed. You must understand, we've achieved a broad
consensus on many things now.
The rural concentration camps at the likes of Dimbaza and Limehill,
where tens of thousands of children perished, were the product of
policies carefully constructed by Broederbond fanatics, yet today, as
the journalist Terry Bell points out, the records of the Broederbond
It is as though its motto, Our strength lies in secrecy, ensures that,
unlike state records, the underlying history of apartheid and its
respectable backers, is secure. There have been no public confessions;
no requests for amnesty. It is as if the Reich merely stepped back into
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission on its own was never meant to
bring about reconciliation and justice. That unfinished business is
the state's responsibility, which the ANC government has given every
sign of abandoning in favour of its new business partners.
When I returned to South Africa after my banning, I discovered that much
of the spirit of resistance had survived. Among people I met in the
townships, it was expressed by those, dignified and resolute, forming a
human wall around the house of a widow threatened with disconnection of
her electricity, and in people's rejection of demeaning government RDP
houses they called kennels.
Today, it is expressed in the pulsating mass demonstrations of the
social movements and allied organisations that are among the most
numerous, sophisticated and dynamic in the world. They express that
amorphous power called public opinion.
The ANC, in its embrace of a rigid order, has underestimated and
undervalued the imaginative genius in its own people. This is not to
suggest that people fail to recognise the achievements of the ANC
government: since 1994, as freedom of speech and association have
flourished, calcified assumptions and attitudes have changed. All that
is undeniable and admirable.
But the most basic freedom, to survive decently, has been withheld from
the majority, who will not have forgotten Nelson Mandela's wise
prediction: If the ANC does not deliver the goods, the people must do
to it what they have done to the apartheid regime.
Freedom Next Time is published in South Africa by Bantam Press (Random
Pilger loses plot in quest for drama
Trevor Manuel, Minister of finance(Sunday Independent) 13 August 2006
John Pilger, in his article, Reich is in the shadows, but still in
control (The Sunday Independent, July 30), draws exaggerated and flawed
conclusions which cannot go unchallenged.
South Africans opted for a negotiated settlement, rather than the vortex
of civil war, and for redistribution through reconstruction and
development, rather than through conquest.
Hence the great disillusioning of Pilger, for whom democracy was
apparently expected to bring an end to capitalism, and who sees
conspiracy and fascism behind anything suggestive of compromise or
But the reality for ordinary people is that investment in housing,
water, electrification, transport and communication, rising spending on
social services and broadening participation in a growing economy, are
steadily bringing dignity and opportunity, where there was formerly
misery and vulnerability.
His claim that the ANC government has opted for minimal public
spending cannot go unchallenged. Here are the facts Pilger chooses to
Non-interest government spending is a larger share of gross domestic
product than it was in the early 1990s, while social services and
housing have increased from 50 percent of the total to 60 percent
More than 700 new health clinics have been constructed, 215 mobile
clinics established and charges for public health services have largely
been removed for poor people.
The child-support grant programme has added abou
To the Brink: The State of Democracy in South Africa
Speaker: Xolela Mangcu
Topic: To the Brink: The State of Democracy in South Africa
Date: 21 February
Venue: Howard College Auditorium (Howard College Campus)
Xolela Mangcu is well known for the incisive social commentary that characterises his regular newspaper columns. In To the Brink Mangcu turns his focus to the state of South Africa’s evolving democracy. From policy controversies surrounding HIV/AIDS, Zimbabwe, corruption and the constant labelling of black critics as ‘foot lickers’ of the white man, no relevant issues escape his analysis of the racial insider/outsider dynamic that has evolved under Thabo Mbeki’s rule.
Drawing on the intellectual history of the Eastern Cape as well as his own life experiences, Mangcu contrasts damaging racial exclusivity with the adaptation, renewal and tolerance that has characterised the best traditions of South Africa’s liberation movements. He discusses how black and white people could build a joint culture and, finally, examines the ANC’s election of Jacob Zuma and its implications for the future of democracy in South Africa.
XOLELA MANGCU is Executive Chairman of the Platform for Public Deliberation and a Visiting Scholar at the University of the Witwatersrand.
|| Tribute to Harold Wolpe plus links to selected seminar programmes