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Viewpoint by Jacob Zuma

HUMAN SOLIDARITY BEYOND BORDERS: THE CORNERSTONE OF OUR REVOLUTION BY JACOB ZUMA

To begin this input let me make reference to a popular modern phrase which I hope will be a successful attempt on my part to highlight the theme of solidarity, given the international situation currently. In the modern day there exists a widely used phrase in reference to the revolution: that is, "the revolution will not be televised." An African American poet uttered those words at the height of the struggle for civil rights in his country.

Viewpoint by Blade Nzimande

DEBATE IS NO ATTACK, AND ATTACK IS NO DEBATE BY BLADE NZIMANDE

Over the past week or so we have seen reels of editorials and commentary by mainstream media on statements made by the ANC and the SACP about the judiciary, opening frantic attacks on me and Cde Gwede Mantashe. In essence, we are told that we must shut up, because our statements are interpreted as a threat to democracy or show intolerance towards the judiciary.

Viewpoint by Senzeni Zokwana

BUILDING AN INCLUSIVE RURAL ECONOMY: YOUTH TO THE FRONT BY SENZENI ZOKWANA

In commemoration of the 39th anniversary of the Soweto uprisings, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) took its cue from 2015 State of the Nation Address (SONA). This year's SONA articulated that 2015 is the year of the Freedom Charter and called for unity in action to advance economic freedom. The Department undertook a structured programme starting from 01 to 30 June 2015. The theme of this year's youth month programme was; "Capacitating youth to bring about economic freedom through food production".

GOOD STORY TO TELL

 

LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT

Human solidarity beyond borders: The cornerstone of our revolution

Comrade Jacob Zuma is the President of the ANC

In June 2015, South Africa had the honour to host the Cuban Five Heroes - Comrades Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez. Their visit to the country coincided with our country’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter and was a tribute to African solidarity extended to them and Cuba during their almost two decades of incarceration. Through this Special Edition of ANC Today, the Revolutionary Alliance expresses its appreciation and gratitude to the people the people of Cuba for their unwavering commitment and immeasurable contribution to the liberation of Africa.

Click here to view the ANC Today Special Edition (PDF)

Foreword by President Jacob Zuma

To begin this input let me make reference to a popular modern phrase which I hope will be a successful attempt on my part to highlight the theme of solidarity, given the international situation currently. In the modern day there exists a widely used phrase in reference to the revolution: that is, "the revolution will not be televised." An African American poet uttered those words at the height of the struggle for civil rights in his country. This saying has been given different interpretations overtime, some emptying it of its essential meaning as intended by the author. It is common cause that this poet was inspired by the changing conditions in his country and the poem truly represented a prevalent sentiment in his social circle and among his compatriots. In many ways this sentiment inspired many young revolutionaries to see their duty to rise against the social ills that confront humanity in the present as one never to be postponed, as a duty nobody else other than themselves as oppressed people had to carry to a logical conclusion.

In this manner, the revolutionaries adopt an approach to their historical reality; a manner opposed to that of an audience of a television programme with a set timetable for viewers to remember. Revolutionaries are not those who sit by the wayside and observe history unfold, merely as removed yet curious observers with absolutely no obligation, but rather are those who work the field to bring about revolutionary outcome even though they may not be alive to see the day of the reaping of the fruits of the revolution itself. Revolutionaries, although fully aware of the historical process by which their present comes into being, have the higher form of consciousness by which they harness their existing knowledge to carry out such actions as may be necessary to bring about far reaching change in society.

It is that form of consciousness the revolutionary movement must be engaged in a ceaseless struggle to cultivate and elevate as the precondition for success of our revolution.

As such, revolutionaries are not merely audience to history unfolding on a predetermined and predicted time period but are active agents of change engaged in a conscious effort to change the world; to bring about a new society. We have thus learned that a revolutionary lives his life no longer solely in service of the their individual wants and needs but understands his existence as inextricably connected to that his fellow men, whose social welfare cannot be disassociated from his.

Therefore if man's existence is a social one then his actions to rid society of its ills and social injustice must of necessity be built not on the individual but on the collective, on human solidarity, on mutual concern for the welfare of others. This genuine human solidarity does not arise out of sentiments of pity for the weak or false generosity informed by guilt; it is based on an irrefutably sound principle to attain emancipation of the oppressed and to build a new society. Genuine collectivism, growing out of the solidarity of the under-classes, guarantees the oppressed the position of drivers of social change, of course, to the extent that they realise their historic role.

It is this form of human solidarity that is based on the afore mentioned form of consciousness and principles that has, in the present day, brought into being the now unparalleled stature of the Cuban revolution and the Cuban people as a whole as the exemplary practice for those who seek deeper meaning to freedom, liberty and self-determination. It is through the practice of the Cuban Revolutionaries and the Cuban society as a whole that the whole world and the oppressed wherever they are to be found have learnt the distance one must travel and the discipline and sacrifice that may at time be necessary for one to defend their God-given right to determine their own fate and give meaning to the very idea of being free. In winning their own freedom and fighting a gallant fight to defend their right to self determination, the Cuban people have demonstrated that the revolution is a live phenomenon experienced at the point where it is prosecuted.

Talking about the Cuban five and the ordeal they went through cannot occur in any meaningful way if one does not speak about the unparalleled achievements of the people of Cuba as a whole; for their outstanding sacrifice was in service of the Cuban society. We pay homage to the Cuban patriots as a true representation of revolutionary sacrifice and selflessness. We pay homage to their conscious resistance in the face of injustice meted out to them in the attempt to defile what they stood for and what Cuba stands for. We celebrate the triumph of solidarity that came from all progressive humanity and all freedom loving people across the world.

The working class and the poor continue to draw inspiration from the example of the Cuban revolution whose longevity and dynamism has sailed through the turbulent waters including economic blockades, attempts at regime change and other testing conditions to emerge as living testimony to the supreme notion that freedom is as precious as life itself. In a society as ours, we have learned through the example of Cuba that, no man is an island and it is in the interest of the oppressed everywhere to build solidarity as an indispensible ingredient to the recipe of struggle and liberation. There is no greater example for us as the liberation movement in South Africa than the supreme sacrifice of the Cubans in the battle of Cuito Cuanavale which was arguably the most decisive military confrontation with the apartheid military forces.

The critical role of the Cubans in that battle propelled the struggle to a point of a breakthrough, prompting Fidel Castro to assert that "the history of Africa will be written as before and after Cuito Cuanavale." As South Africans and revolutionary forces in our region we have a stark understanding of the sacrifices of the Cubans in the defeat of the monster of the apartheid regime, the last colonial outpost in our continent. We have gratitude to the internationalism of the small island of Cuba that has stood against giants at its own peril to cement for all humanity to see that no price is too high to pay for freedom, not merely of oneself but also of others.

From Cuba we can never be in doubt in agreeing with the phrase that indeed "the revolution will not be televised." The Cuban five and their victory is a representation of such a spirit from that Cuban people, never only in theory but also in practice. Solidarity is the lifeblood of the revolution; let us never stop building it!

Viewpoint by Blade Nzimande

VIEWPOINT: BLADE NZIMANDE

Cde Blade Nzimande is the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party

 

Debate is no attack, and attack is no debate

Over the past week or so we have seen reels of editorials and commentary by mainstream media on statements made by the ANC and the SACP about the judiciary, opening frantic attacks on me and Cde Gwede Mantashe. In essence, we are told that we must shut up, because our statements are interpreted as a threat to democracy or show intolerance towards the judiciary.

However, I was deeply disappointed, if not flabbergasted, by former Justice of the Constitutional Court, Justice Zac Yacoob's comment to City Press to the effect that nowhere in the Constitution does it say the judiciary must bother about what the Minister of Higher Education says about the courts.

Justice Yacoob accuses government of "complying with the letter of the law, but not quite with the spirit." He then continues to say that he has "examined the Constitution again" and "found no provision that the minister of higher education has the power to determine when the line has been crossed. The minister must remember that this is a power that belongs to a court and only the court."

I am disappointed because Constitution clearly states that every person, notwithstanding being a minister or not, has a right to freedom of thought and expression. This must include critical commentary on the judiciary, a right fortunately and correctly re-affirmed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng recently.

Is Justice Yacoob trying to stifle debate? Is he saying that nobody but our courts are allowed to comment, discuss or debate the judiciary, judgments of the court or the law in general? Surely I do not need to remind Justice Yacoob that the SACP, or any person or organization for that matter, has a right to comment on any matter it sees fit, including the state of our judiciary. It is important that we remember that South Africa is not a court of law, but a democratic society with a constitutionally enshrined right of striving to freedom of expression for all, on any matter.

Justice Yacoob's response goes to the heart of the first issue I wish to address. There is growing ideological blackmail, led by the media and the opposition parties, that ANC ministers and/or ANC and Alliance leaders must not express their views, as these are seen as a threat to democracy by virtue of it being said by us.

Even opposition MPs and parties are regarded as having more freedom of expression, judging by the manner in which court judgments against the ANC in Parliament are, as a matter of course, celebrated by the media. For example, if a court rules in favour of EFF hooligans disrupting the President's answers to Parliament, none in the media or opposition ask the obvious question - namely what about the violation of the rights of those MPs and members of society who want to listen to the President's answers?

There is a creeping and dangerous discourse that every South African has a right to freedom of expression, except if he/she is the President, minister or leader in the Alliance. The media defends its right to exist and its freedom of expression to the hilt, but they demonize the ANC and government ministers for exercising the very same right.

The above observation underlines the correctness of our identification of an anti-majoritarian liberal offensive against government and the ANC-led Alliance. Part of the many tributaries of this offensive is that of ideological blackmail. We must expose these double standards of freedom of expression and thought for what it is - an attempt to intimidate, blackmail and silence the ANC and majority rule, as part of a broader regime change agenda. This behaviour is not hypocrisy on the part of this agenda, but a deliberate strategy to delegitimize the ANC and majority rule that favours it.

It is for this reason, for instance, that all major decisions and actions of Parliament are taken to court, as part of undermining the ANC government. Our movement and cadres must consistently expose and resist this agenda with the ultimate goal of rolling it back and defeating it.

Back to the judiciary - The SACP believes that our judiciary must be respected. There is no question about that. But part of fostering respect for the judiciary is that it must be transformed so that it has the confidence of the overwhelming majority of our people. Transformation of the judiciary must also include access to justice for workers and the poor, and not only for wealthy and influential people. It essentially means justice for all.

Part of respect for the judiciary, and indeed our whole democratic order, must be that all the three arms of the state - Parliament, the executive and the judiciary - must scrupulously respect the separation of powers.

This debate is also not informed by smear campaigns against the judiciary, a concern rightly and recently expressed by the Chief Justice. We condemn such campaigns, as the SACP strongly believes that smear campaigns achieve nothing. What we need is a healthy and constructive debate.

In the Senator Philip Hart Annual Memorial Lecture given by the Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke in the United States in 2012, he discusses, amongst others, the "political questions doctrine" and the separation of powers, and says:

"In the US, the Courts have elected not to exercise jurisdiction over issues that constitute political questions and should be resolved by the political branches. In South Africa the Constitutional Court has not adopted such a doctrine. This is because our Constitution has made a different election".

This begs the question as to what the legal, political and theoretical underpinnings of this doctrine are. This is something that the SACP finds extremely concerning. The debate over the role of the courts in our system of government inevitably focuses on the counter-majoritarian dilemma inherent in a constitutional democracy. To what degree can an unelected group of judges strike down decisions taken by democratically elected government representatives? What are the limits to judicial review and where does one strike the balance between judicial activism and judicial restraint?

The SACP is concerned that this is becoming a politically partisan process, which, as far as we are concerned, is at odds with the spirit the spirit and the letter of the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution.

The reference, in Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke's speech, to the reluctance to delve into the sphere of the executive by the judiciary is ironic, as this reluctance itself derived from the fact that President Roosevelt had objected to US courts interfering with political decisions, of especially that of his Presidency. Roosevelt’s New Deal was met with opposition by the US Supreme Court, with some 11 out of 16 of the New Deal laws found to be unconstitutional. The argument of the Supreme Court was that Roosevelt had tried to impose the power of the federal government on state governments - and this was unconstitutional.

Roosevelt responded by "court packing", a measure in which he increased the number of judges in an attempt to try and neutralize those judges who were opposed to the New Deal.

And long before Roosevelt, in 1803, in the landmark case of Marbury v Madison, the US Supreme Court for the first time used judicial review to strike down a law as unconstitutional.

Ever since then the issue of judicial review and the separation of powers, especially the relationship and distinct responsibilities between the executive and judicial arms of the state, has been a much debated one in the US. This is a debate that we must have in South Africa too.

The SACP is formally calling for an open debate and reflection on the matter of judicial review in relation to the separation of powers in our country. We need to focus the debate on the role of the judiciary in our constitutional democracy at this point in time. Perhaps 21 years into our democracy this reflection is necessary, and the SACP intends, in the coming months, convening such a forum to debate these and other related matters.

We must not allow such a debate to be frustrated by anti-majoritarian political considerations in the media and the opposition parties.

Freedom of expression entails and must include a broader societal debate, devoid of ideological blackmail or judicial injunctions. Democratic debate is not sub-judice. It cannot be that the debate is only be the preserve of liberals and its media and party political organs. The left and other progressive forces have a duty to create its own platforms and not let our debates be dominated by what author Eddy Maloka appropriately calls the Friends of the Natives in the media and the opposition.

Viewpoint by Senzeni Zokwana

VIEWPOINT: SENZENI ZOKWANA

Cde Senzeni Zokwana: Member of the ANC NEC and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

 

Building an inclusive rural economy: Youth to the Front

In commemoration of the 39th anniversary of the Soweto uprisings, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) took its cue from 2015 State of the Nation Address (SONA). This year's SONA articulated that 2015 is the year of the Freedom Charter and called for unity in action to advance economic freedom. The Department undertook a structured programme starting from 01 to 30 June 2015. The theme of this year's youth month programme was; "Capacitating youth to bring about economic freedom through food production".

The Department will use feedback from this programme to enhance its activities. The long term goal is to extend youth month calendar events to a point where youth focused activities are streamlined into all activities and policies of the department. The opportunity to travel throughout the country and meet and talk to youth has greatly enriched my understanding of challenges faced by youth in our sectors.

On 28 June 2015, Stats SA released a report on youth unemployement. This report was preceded by the launch of the National Youth Policy 2015 to 2020 - "We don't want a hand out, we want a hand up!" and greatly echoes the basis of our youth month campaign as it poses interventions to improve opportunities for youth. Among the key interventions are to improve education and skills, including youth participation in public works schemes, support for entrepreneurship and on-the-job training opportunities, and improved life skills, including combating substance abuse. DAFF has programmes that have benefitted, and continue to serve the needs of youth across South Africa. These range from experiential learning opportunities to bursaries and international agreements to boost skills through exchange programmes which we explained thoroughly throughout our countrywide youth month programme.

The National Development Plan message of an inclusive rural economy was carried across in all the outreach programmes. Young people in our sectors were sensitised about agriculture's targets and required actions in line with the NDP:

  • Creation of a million jobs by 2030
  • Acquisition of 2 million hectares of strategically located land by 2019,
  • Development of 1 million hectares of under-utilised land in communal areas and land reform projects,
  • Provision of support to smallholder producers and the aspiration of every household being able to have food on the table by 2030.
  • The plan of revitalising agriculture and agro-processing value chain was one of the key messages as well.

As part of a co-ordinated campaign to draw a link between youth and agriculture, I teamed up with the Cape Town based Santos Football Club, "The People's Team" to kick off the youth month programme in Landsdowne, Cape Town on 01 June 2015. The people‘s team, was founded in 1982 in Heideveld township in Cape Town. I brought Santos on board for two reasons; to attract young people into the mainstream agriculture by identifying with the young footballers and to promote food security and good nutritioun. For any athlete to perform well on the field they need nutritious food.

On 08th June, we commemorated World Oceans Day on one of the department's research vessels in Cape Town. During the commemoration I called on industry leaders to partner with the department to ensure the participation of the youth in the oceans economy. We need marine scientists for the development of the fisheries sector for food security.

Fish supply the greatest percentage of the world's protein consumed by humans, making the oceans critical to food security. We know that achieving food security in its totality continues to be a challenge for the whole world, and, in particular, for developing nations when you consider the proportion of the population affected. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), most of the world's major fisheries are being fished at levels above their maximum sustainable level with a number of fish stocks completely depleted. The development of new fisheries remains a critical part of government, hence the launch of Operation Phakisa as a means to unlock our oceans economy. As the custodians of South Africa's oceans, we are committed to creating opportunities towards the transformation of the sector, not only towards fishing licences and access to resources, but through acquiring skills that will increase the skills base.

The Stats SA report also pointed to a mismatch of skills and available jobs: "As many as 55 percent of young people, who are actively looking for jobs, have education levels below matric, while an additional 36.4 percent only have a matric qualification." This means enriching youth with opportunities where they get exposed to skills is critical towards building a sustainable sector that can catapult our production levels in order to boost our economy and assist us in creating more employment opportunities in our country.

As the message of youth partipation gained momentum, Santos and Mthatha Football Club joined me at Tsolo Agriculture and Rural Development Institute, in the Eastern Cape on the 13th June to highlight the importance of agriculture, nutrition and education. Not only did the football players draw youth to the event, but they have been a valuable asset to my Departmental team, by showing young people what a significant role agriculture plays in our everyday life and how the people of South Africa can assist the communities they live in by starting household food gardens. This might seem insignificant, but this back to basics approach will assist our communities to become food secure. That's why we have consistently planted household food gardens as part of our outreach programmes.

To promote careers in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, the department held a career exhibition in Groblersdal in Limpopo. Over 1000 youth around the Sekhukhune District Municipality took part in this initiative.

The aim of the event was multifold:

  • To encourage young people to follow careers in the sectors,
  • To present career opportunities in the sectors,
  • To share information on bursary opportunities for careers in the sectors,
  • To provide career guidance to learners and out of school youth,
  • To give a platform to sector partners/industry to showcase their programmes,
  • To provide information on institutions of higher learning.

During the activities of the month, I interacted with many young people whobecame aware of the many opportunities that are avaliable for young people in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. For many of these young people, this was the first time they were exposed to these opportunities.

As the month drew to a close, I met with student representatives of the Agricultural Training Institutes (ATI's). I convened Principals, Student Representative Council members and students from the 11 Colleges of Agriculture during a meeting that was held in Johannesburg on 30 June 2015. This was the first time that a gathering of this nature took place.

During this meeting, discussions were frank and robust. Students led the call for  transformation and inclusivity in the decision-making processes at their colleges. As the students were given a platform to highlight the challenges they are facing, I was shocked to hear that there are still incidents of discrimination in terms of admission policies. Reminiscent of the youth of 1976, it was painful to hear that students are being disadvantaged due to Afrikaans being "perceived" as the language of choice at some institutes. By virtue of not being able to fully understand Afrikaans, some students raised their frustration of not having equal access to informtation and documents because they do not speak or read Afrikaans. One of the resolutions of the meeting was that the Department will put together a team to interact with the ATIs and to provide concrete proposals on how issues of transformation and discrimination can be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Despite these challenges, the overwhelming feeling from the students and the young people I interacted with during the June month, is that of hope and determination. They impressed upon methat they do not want to become employees on farms but that they want to become farmers and producers. I am encouraged by their commitment to agriculture and know that together with the youth, we can indeed move South Africa forward! 

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The contents and views expressed in ANC Today do not necessarily reflect the policies and positions of the African National Congress (ANC).

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