Colonialism of a Special Type lives on

Gugile Nkwinti writes on how this legacy can and should be broken down

COLONIALISM AND APARTHEID ARE DEAD: Long Live Colonialism of a Special Type

IN 1962, based on a careful analysis of the South African historical situation, the South African Communist Party (SACP), characterized the essential features of the resultant political, social and economic structure and relations as follows:

South Africa is not a colony but an independent state. Yet the masses of people enjoy neither independence nor freedom. The conceding of independence to South Africa by Britain, in 1910, was not a victory over the forces of colonialism and imperialism… Power was transferred not into the hands of the masses of people of South Africa, but into the hands of the White minority alone. The evils of colonialism, insofar as the non-White majority was concerned, were perpetuated and reinforced.

A new type of colonialism was developed, in which the oppressing White nation occupied the same territory as the oppressed people themselves and lived side by side with them. A rapid process of industrialization was set in train… South African heavy industry and secondary industry grew to occupy first place on the Continent. This process had profound effects on the country’s social structure. It concentrated great wealth and profits in the hands of the upper strata of the White population.

It revolutionized the economy, transforming it from a predominantly agricultural into an industrial-agricultural economy, with an urban working class, mainly non-White, which is the largest in Africa. But no commensurate benefits of this industrialisation have been enjoyed by the masses of the non-White people. On the one level, that of “White South Africa”, there are all the features of an advanced capitalist state....The land is farmed along capitalist lines, employing wage labour, and producing cash crops for the local and export markets ... But, on another level, that of “Non White South Africa”, there are all the features of a colony.

The indigenous population is subjected to the extreme national oppression, poverty and exploitation… The African Reserves show the complete lack of industry, communications, transport and power resources… Non-White South Africa is the colony of White South Africa itself… Real power is in the hands of monopolists who own and control the mines, the banks and finance houses, and most of the farms and major industries… These monopolists are the real power in South Africa. The special type of colonialism in South Africa serves, in the first place, their interests (SACP, 1962).

Similarly, the African National Congress (ANC), after an analysis of this historical experience, in its National Consultative Conference held in Morogoro, Tanzania, on May 1, 1969, described the same reality of the South African system as follows:

South Africa’s social and economic structure and the relationships which it generates are, perhaps, unique. It is not a colony, yet it has, in regards to the overwhelming majority of its people, most of the features of the classical colonial structures. Conquest and domination by an alien people, a system of discrimination and exploitation based on race, technique of indirect rule; these, and more, are the traditional trappings of the classical colonial framework. Whilst at the one level it is an “independent” national state, at another level it is a country subjugated by a minority race.

What makes the structure unique and adds to its complexity is that the exploiting nation is not, as in the classical imperialist relationships, situated in a geographically distinct mother country, but is settled within the borders. What is more, the roots of the dominant nation have been embedded in our country by more than three centuries of presence. It is, thus, an alien body only in the historical sense (ANC, 1969: 15-16).


In this article it is argued that the main contributor to our nation’s perennial problem of (a) poverty, unemployment and social inequality; and, (b) the political disunity, or, disarray, in the Movement, is the social, economic and political legacy of Colonialism of a Special Type (CST). Put differently, at the heart of (a) our nation’s problem of enduring unemployment, poverty, and social inequality; and, (b) post-1994 political disunity, or, disarray, in the Movement, is the failure, or, reluctance on the part of the Liberation Movement and its democratic government to deliberately and steadfastly pursue its defined revolutionary path to radically transform the South African society and the state, using the strategic tools which had been designed for this purpose during preparations to taking control of state power; a revolutionary path which had been informed by revolutionary theory, including the dialectical method, and experience gained out of progressive nations that have traversed this route before us.

Most of us know that the negotiated settlement did not directly address our nation’s historical socio-economic problem, but had deferred it to the democratic government, which was still to be installed. We also know that, as part of its preparations to govern the country, the Liberation Movement had produced two great documents, namely, Ready To Govern and Reconstruction and Development Programme (the RDP); and, had established a Ministry in the Presidency to oversee the implementation of the RDP, guided by the Freedom Charter and the Ready To Govern document.

On assuming control of state power, the Liberation Movement’s democratic government developed a White Paper on the RDP. Yet, it is now history that the democratic government unceremoniously and inexplicably dismantled the Ministry and abandoned the RDP. Those were the beginnings of the Liberation Movement losing control over its own government; and, the setting in of political disarray and disunity in the Movement.

In this article an attempt is made to illustrate how the negotiated political settlement of 1994, as a consequence of its over-emphasis on national reconciliation, rather than radical socio-economic transformation, as the foundation of the political settlement, had reinforced, or, buttressed white economic privilege and strengthened the structure of poverty and social (particularly racial) inequality.

This is done through the use of a basic economic model generally used by economists to simplify and explain complex economic problems. It is argued here that, courtesy of our political settlement model, even if a solution could be found to the current global economic crisis; and, the problem of unemployment resolved, the challenge of poverty (in its broad meaning) and social inequality in South Africa would endure, thanks to the legacy of CST, which we have left intact.

To eradicate poverty and achieve social equality and justice in South Africa, the legacy of CST must be uprooted and destroyed, not tinkered with, as the case has been up to now. This is not a populistic call for anarchy, or, infantile adventurism.

B. Colonialism of a Special Type:


Chapter II, under the heading “Where we come from: Streams of an emerging nation”, the Strategy and Tactics document (p18) gives a brief but telling background to the evolution and genesis of the South African nation (state and society). It describes it as a “product of many streams of history and culture, representing the origins, dispersal and reintegration of humanity over hundreds of thousands of years. Archeological findings in various parts of the country and the rest of Africa have located South Africa, and the continent at large, as the cradle of humanity and early forms of human civilization.”

This brief background to the evolution and genesis of the South African nation defines South Africa as the home of humanity. Further down, p19, the document makes the point that the period between 1652 and 1994 was characterized “by ongoing and mostly violent conlict between the oppressors (firstly, the Dutch; and, later on, the Dutch and the British) and the oppressed (indigenous South Africans).” The historical consequence of these violent conflicts of reintegration was a situation where South Africa became home to both the colonial oppressor and the indigenous oppressed.

On p20, paragraph 14 of the document, this situation is aptly described: “As such, what emerged in our country was Colonialism of a Special Type, with both the colonizer and the colonized located in a common territory and with a large European settler population. The deal between the descendants of Dutch settlers and the British imperial power at the end of the so-called Anglo-Boer War formalized, in 1910, South Africa’s statehood, premised on the political oppression and social subjugation and exclusion of the majority of the population.”

In Chapter III, p23, under the heading “Vision of our collective effort: CHARACTER OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION”, Colonialism of a Special Type is defined in terms of three interrelated but antagonistic contradictions, namely, class, race and patriarchal power relations. It further clarifies the nature of these antagonisms where it states: “These antagonisms found expression in national oppression based on race; class super-exploitation directed against Black workers on the basis of race; and, triple oppression of the mass of women based on their race, their class and their gender.”

In other words, continues the document (p22, par 28), “Colonialism of a Special Type contained within itself contradictions that could not be resolved through reform. It had to be destroyed.As such, the system we seek to create will stand or fall on the basis of whether it is able to eliminate the main antagonisms of this system.”

The last paragraph above defines the critical moment facing the National Liberation Movement and its democratic government. Figure 1(a) on the next page is a diagrammatic attempt at illustrating the socioeconomic effects of the enduring legacy of CST.

The current public discourse is not explicit about this legacy, if it does exist at all in the back of many commentators’ minds. Yet, despite the 1994 democratic break-through, which ushered in black majority rule, the systems and patterns of ownership, control and access to national assets and resources continue to sustain white Colonial and Apartheid era privilege. THIS IS WHAT MUST CHANGE, AND FUNDAMENTALLY SO!

C. Education and the learning environment: KEY TO SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION

The June, 2015, Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) report by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), amongst other factors, singles out youth unemployment and low education output (and quality) in black communities in general, and African ones in particular, as critical factors sustaining poverty and social inequality in our country. This is the direct legacy of CST. These youngsters are not just unemployed, in most instances, they are unemployable, because of the continuing disjuncture between the education system and the learning environment in black Township schools, on the one hand; and, skills requirements by industry, on the other. At best, they could fit in primary sectors of industry.

These are the young people roaming the streets, waiting for anyone’s call to march and burn a school while demanding a clinic; the kids who, out of desperation for some, become drug couriers and peddlers. Because they have nothing to do, and nothing to lose. They might have come to the conclusion that their school certificates are not as useful as they might have thought they would be. Yet, most of these kids could have been first-generation social change agents in their families.

On the contrary, you will not see white youth roaming the streets, ready for a call to march – because they are either at school or at work. Their hands are full and their futures are long defined for them. There is no disjuncture between the education system and learning environment for white schools and the skills demanded by industry, especially secondary and tertiary sectors. This does not by any means suggest that white youths don’t act as couriers or peddlers of drugs.That might very much be the case. But the proportion is so minuscule it is not worth the comparison.

In essence, there continues to be two education systems and learning environs in South Africa. On the one hand, there is the ‘black education system and learning environment’ which churns out armies of unemployable black, particularly African, lumpen proletariat class, roaming the streets and ready to be deployed (albeit unknown to them) in counter-revolutionary activities against the national democratic revolution programme.

At best, this system churns out workers for primary sectors of industry. On the other hand, there is the ‘white education system and learning environment’ which churns out workers for secondary and tertiary sectors of industry, preparing them to be captains of industry and big business and employers of the employable strata of the working class churned out by the ‘other’ education system and environment. This privileged group is particularly white, although a smattering of black kids from the upper strata of the emerging black middle class are beginning to pop out of this system.

Well, VERWOERD IS DEAD. Long Live Bantu Education! While it is not a panacea for the resolution of all socio-economic challenges and problems in our society, education is, however, fundamental to sustaining or dislodging social inequality in any society. It is an over-arching social change agent. It is one of the most critical tools in the hands of the state and society to break down and destroy the legacy of CST. Verwoerd and his ilk understood the value of education very well; and, made the best use of it!

D. Constructive Self-criticism and Self-correction: LEARNING FROM HINDSIGHT

The over-emphasis on a political settlement anchored, primarily, on national reconciliation, meant that the long-term social and economic consequences of that settlement, critical to enduring and sustainable peace, stability and shared prosperity, received only cursory, or, very little consideration. Secondly, as if to convince our then strategic opponents (around the negotiations table) of our commitment to peace and reconciliation, we ignored the fact that revolutionary gains would need to be defended, we did away with compulsory military conscription.

The ‘point of unity of opposites’ (reference Cde Nathi Mthethwa) was defined narrowly as ‘black majority rule’, rather than a minimum socio-economic threshold. This meant that, effectively, responsibility for socio-economic transformation, the bedrock of any revolution, was deferred to the democratic state that was being negotiated. Yes, the democratic state: the legislature, the government and the judiciary.

The transformation of the South African society and the state, from Colonialism and Apartheid/Colonialism of a Special Type, to a national democratic society that is based on the principles of equity and justice, is not the responsibility of government alone. It is the responsibility of all three organs of the state and their tentacles.

The ushering in of democratic majority rule opened up the world to South Africa, and South Africa to the world. The democratic government, among other things, adopted liberalization policies which allowed big South African companies to enlist in Stock Exchanges abroad, without any form of accountability or constraint placed on them; it privatized some of the key stateowned companies (SoCs) which the National Party government had created to address the Poor White Problem (in reality, Poor Afrikaner Problem), after its election victory in 1948; and, set 1913 as the cut-off date for the lodgment of claims on land lost through wars of colonial dispossession and during Apartheid rule. However, as if to rub salt in the wound, the democratic government was to pay handsomely for the return of the land brutally grabbed from indigenous South Africans.

The area marked A in Figure 1(a) represents the direct economic gains this historically privileged group, particularly monopoly capital, made as a result of the democratic break-through of 1994. In other words, instead of it laying a sound foundation for the destruction of monopoly capitalism, defined as the enemy of the national democratic revolution (NDR) by Strategy and Tactics, 2012, the democratic breakthrough reinforced and buttressed it. The result is that the area marked D, the only potentially unencumbered and available land and landed resources for further redistribution and development (Zone of potential development), has been squeezed out into a small portion which could never address the magnitude of socio-economic deprivation reflected in the area marked C.

Compare that with another post-1994 area, the one marked E, which represents the meagre socio-economic gains made as a result of direct government interventions. The imbalance between the two is palpable, courtesy of the CST!

Worst still, yet probably strategically necessary at the time (avoiding subjecting the democratic state to loans from the World Bank, etc), the greater part of the proceeds from the sale of state-owned companies was used to settle Apartheid debts.This is money which could have been used to expand the Zone of Potential Development, to improve the socio-economic condition of indigenous people, the victims of CST. Once more, the victims had to pay. The price of national reconciliation was heavy – on the victims of CST!

This is what we are sitting with today; and, to borrow from Deng Xiaoping, the former President of the People’s Republic of China, and our own Strategy and Tactics (2012), this is what needs to be ‘DESTROYED’, or, to borrow from the Minister in the Malaysian Prime Minister's Office, this is what needs to be 'BROKEN DOWN.’

It is possible that all these strategic mistakes might have been unavoidable, given material conditions at the time, including the vulnerability of the newly installed democratic state, especially government. But that does not take away the fact that the privatization of some of the strategic public entities was, on hindsight, a strategic mistake on our part. This is not a blind and blatant (better-than-thou) criticism. It is constructive self-criticism, aimed at self-correction, which is part of our Movement’s long standing political culture, which we have abandoned at our own peril.

We have gained insights from practical experience; we have learnt from hindsight, having governed the country for the past 21 years. We are one government of the African National Congress, with different Administrations; with each building on foundations laid on by those that preceded it. Where adjustments are necessary, we must effect them, without fear or favour. The democratic state has the abiding responsibility to, now, go back to addressing the fundamental social and economic transformation deferred to it during negotiations.

Our problem is that we often personalize what are legitimate strategic mistakes, which occur as we attempt to integrate our national democratic revolutionary theory with practice. We must correct this unscientific political attitude and conduct, which creates unnecessary tensions, conflicts and even enmity among ourselves. We must use the organisational and political experience bequeathed us by our political forebears; the revolutionary theories at our disposal; and, experience learnt from other progressive and revolutionary Movements that have traversed the long walk we have just started, to guide us.

We should critically, frankly and continually analyze and test the steps we have taken thus far, the steps we are currently taking, the steps we intend taking moving forward, in relation to our long term strategic objective and material conditions, both of our own making as well as those that are not of our own making. This is how we could properly understand and appreciate objective and subjective realities which either positively, or, negatively impact on our work; and, where necessary, take corrective measures. Our glorious Movement knows all this; and, it did it so well during the years of struggle.

This must be the case irrespective of who was/is leading our Movement or government at a particular point in time/moment, across all levels of the Movement and government. This must be standard practice; and, should be expected and anticipated by all in our Movement. This practice should take us out of personalizing collective strategic mistakes committed during the course of executing our plans and programmes. Secondly, it would ensure that those in the structures of the Movement who have the responsibility of supervising the execution of ANC programmes by the government, at all levels, are fully equipped with the knowledge and understanding of what is expected; and, are confident and able to be in the forefront of promoting and, where necessary, defending government programmes.

Where any deployee, irrespective of level, would have committed wrongs or mistakes, including fraud and corruption, during the course of implementing programmes of the Movement, without any of the responsible supervisory collectives of the Movement drawing his/her attention to such, those collectives become culpable.

They assume collective guilt through dereliction of revolutionary duty. This is one of the fundamental elements of the principle of collective leadership responsibility: ‘Collective Accolades’, where excellence obtains; and, ‘Collective Guilt’, where dereliction of duty occurred. This reinforces revolutionary discipline and deepens understanding of the essence of the principle of collective leadership responsibility, which is part of our political culture.

E. What is to be done:


We need a different socio-economic transformation trajectory; the type which should have constituted the baseline, or, non-negotiable, during the negotiations; and, we need a revolutionary and patriotic Army to defend every gain made in pursuit of the goal of the national democratic revolution. The latter would require a serious review of the decision to do away with compulsory military conscription. Figure 1(b) represents the overall outcome of such a trajectory. This trajectory or model could best be summed up as socio-economic egalitarianism.

The 53rd National Conference, held in Mangaung in December, 2012, resolved that during this Second Phase of the National Democratic Revolution the Movement must embark on a radical socio-economic transformation. In this regard, the Conference adopted the National Development Plan (NDP) as the country’s over-arching vision, and the New Growth Path (NGP), as the key strategy to drive jobs.

During his State of the Nation Address in February, 2013, President JG Zuma made an announcement that Government had decided to explore Exceptions to the 1913 Cut-off date for lodgment of claims to land, to accommodate descendants of the Khoi and San people, address historical landmarks and heritage sites [providing evidence of where the indigenous peoples of this part of the African Continent had resided, before they were forcefully removed through wars of colonial dispossession, that took place long before 1913].

The outcome of this Exceptions process, which should avail more land and landed resources to the currently landless and productive resources-hungry majority, coupled with other government programmes, such as the Nine-Point Plan, which the President unveiled during his 2015 State of the Nation Address, in addition to the modest gains made since 1994, as depicted in the Area Marked E in Figure 1(a) above, should lead to the attainment of the 75%/25% split in ownership, control and access to productive and other national assets and resources, as indicated by Areas B and A, respectively, in Figure 1(b). By all intents and purposes, this is by far a very long haul. THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES!

In his book ‘Comparative Economic Systems’, Gregory Grossman makes the following observations about what he refers to as the Special Case of Cuba: The values emphasised in Cuba’s ideology are those of (a) social and economic egalitarianism; (b) of placing the society and the collective above the individual; and, (c) of unselfishness on the part of the individual in his everyday relations, especially at work.

a) Social egalitarianism means minimizing the differences in social worth between groups of the population: persons with different occupations and levels of skills and training; rural and urban dwellers; men and women; and, black and white.

b) Economic egalitarianism refers to a relatively egalitarian wage and income structure. This means eschewing a structure of wages and salaries that relied heavily on different material (monetary) rewards.

c) "Unselfishness", as expressed above, is self-explanatory! It poses a major challenge to the South African environment, where egalitarian ideas are expressed in song and slogan, with no express indication of how such ideals would be pursued in real life practice. The problem is that the current dominant line of sight or benchmark is capital, in general, and monopoly capital, in particular. Benchmarking on this kind of model makes it neigh impossible to live and practise "unselfishness”, as a key value.

We, thus, need to, simultaneously, embark upon a deliberate, purposeful and controlled ‘destruction’ or ‘break-down’ of the CST LEGACY; and, embark upon a deliberate, purposeful and controlled ‘construction’ of an alternative socio-economic and political order; one that is EGALITARIAN and REDISTRIBUTIVE in essence, as aptly and clearly defined in the Freedom Charter by our political forebears at the Congress of the People held at Kliptown, Soweto, in June,1955; and, articulated and elaborated into various other documents during our time – such as the Ready To Govern document, the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), Through The Eye Of A Needle: Choosing The Best Cadres To Lead Social Transformation?, the Constitution of the Republic and the National Development Plan (NDP). In addition to these, there are the core values of the ANC.

These six documents, plus the values of the ANC, should constitute our Movement’s Seven Imperatives. Each and everyone, particularly those who are earmarked for deployment in leadership organs and structures of the Movement, at all levels; and, those who put themselves up for deployment and employment in strategic state organs, in addition to possessing personal integrity and moral rectitude and the professional skills and experience required by the job, must pass through these Imperatives, to ensure that the national democratic revolution is not aborted, even by default. These Seven Imperatives should constitute ‘THE EYE OF A NEEDLE’ through which all should pass. Of course, these should apply to members of the Movement and those who share its vision of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society.

People should not be deployed and, or, employed in strategic positions in the state and the Movement, unless they pass through this test. Those who might fall short must be sent to the ANC Political School for further training and development. And, all these cadres and leaders, irrespective of levels, should attend the ANC’s Political School once a year, not just for sharpening their ideological and political wares, but for them to evaluate the effectiveness or otherwise of these Seven Imperatives, having tested them on the ground. Where adjustments are deemed necessary, in any of them, they should be effected.

These are the ‘destruction’ and ‘construction’ tools of our own creation; the nexus that should hold the Movement together, even if there might be differences on tactics, either because of the ideological diversity of the Movement, geo-spatial circumstances, or, different local and regional material conditions. However, this requires strict, or, as the President would always remind us, borrowing from the vanguard Party of the working class, ‘Iron discipline’. No revolution has ever been successfully executed through laissez faire and, or, sentimental political management.That would be antithetical to the ethos of serious revolutions, because, as one of the stalwarts of our national democratic revolution, Moses Kotane, would say:‘Revolution ke Batho’. The essence of revolutions is people.

F. The Seven Imperatives For Reconstruction:


1. The Values Of The A NC: Its Moral Compass.

The following are the core values of the ANC:

(a) loyalty;

(b) integrity;

(c) selflessness;

(d) humility; and,

(e) honesty.

Collectively and systematically, these values have placed the ANC on a high political and moral pedestal throughout its long history of struggle. It is not often the case that a liberation Movement is held up by the greatest majority of the population as not just a political, but a moral, authority as well.

Throughout its distinguished and illustrious history, and until very recently, the African National Congress enjoyed this unique honour and privilege, thanks to its unquestionable loyalty to the people of South Africa; its integrity, in itself, of itself and for itself; demonstrable selflessness and magnanimity; humble, yet strong-headed and unshakable in its commitment to the pursuit of freedom and democracy for all South Africans; and, neither friend nor foe doubted what the ANC stood for, because of its honesty, measured forthrightness and candidness about its vision and mission.

This is the legacy we have inherited from our political forebears. All of us, singularly and collectively, like generations before us did, should commit to putting our personal ambitions and newly attained privileges on the line for the defence of these values. For a member of the Liberation Movement, nothing could be more honourable than that.

2. The Freedom Charter:

The Ideologcal Framework.

- The People Shall Govern!

- All National Groups Shall Have Equal Rights!

- The People Shall Share In The Country’s Wealth!

- The Land Shall Be Shared Among Those Who Work It!

- All Shall Be Equal Before The Law!

- All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights!

- There Shall Be Work And Security!

- The Doors Of Learning And Culture Shall Be Opened!

- There Shall Be Houses Security And Comfort!

- There Shall Be Peace And Friendship!

It is true and correct that we have come a long way in advancing the nation towards attaining the goals set by the Freedom Charter. But, we should not exaggerate these advances. For us to be able to appreciate this last point, we must not interpret each clause in isolation of the rest. That could be too formalistic and bureaucratic. Take the clause: All National Groups Shall Have Equal Rights! Formally, in terms of the law and the constitution, this is true. But, rights are not just technically defined. They are to be substantively defined: ownership, control and access to assets and resources is one set of such substantive rights. These rights create a sense of personal dignity and self-worth.

People must own assets, such as a house, land, a car, a bicycle, etc; and, have a sense that they are in control of their lives. In order to have a sense of control, amongst other things, they must feel secure in person and property; to own a house, land, or, a car, one has to have a stable and secure job, and so on. The reality is that the majority of South Africans are outside this bracket at present. This is but one example. Given time, we could go on and demonstrate this truth with each of the clauses.

3. Ready To Govern: The Policy Framework

As part of its work towards the installation of our democratic dispensation, the ANC developed the Ready To Govern Document, which has four pillars, being the following:

a) to strive for the achievement of the right of all South Africans, as a whole, to political and economic self-determination in a united South Africa;

b) to overcome the legacy of inequality and injustice created by colonialism and apartheid, in a swift progressive and principled way;

c) to develop a sustainable economy and state infrastructure that will progressively improve the quality of life of all South Africans; and,

d) to encourage the flourishing of the feeling that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, to promote common loyalty to, and pride in, the country; and,

e) to create a universal sense of freedom and security within its borders.

4. The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP):

The Construction Toolkit.

No political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remain in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life. Attacking poverty and deprivation must therefore be the first priority of a democratic government.

Six basic principles, linked together, make up the political and economic philosophy that underlies the whole RDP. This is an innovative and bold philosophy based on a few simple but powerful ideas. These are:

(a) An integrated and sustainable programme.

The legacy of apartheid cannot be overcome with piecemeal and uncoordinated policies. The RDP brings together strategies to harness all our resources in a coherent and purposeful effort that can be sustained into the future.

These strategies will be implemented at national, provincial and local levels by government, parastatals and organisations within civil society, working within the framework of the RDP.

This programme is essentially centred on:

(b) A people-driven process.

Our people, with their aspirations and collective determination, are our most important resource. The RDP is focused on our people’s most immediate needs, and it relies, in turn, on their energies to drive the process of meeting these needs. Regardless of race or sex, or whether they are rural or urban, rich or poor, the people of South Africa must, together, shape their own future.

Development is not about the delivery of goods to a passive citizenry. It is about active involvement and growing empowerment. In taking this approach we are building on the many forums, peace structures and negotiations that our people are involved in throughout the land.

This programme and this people-driven process are closely bound up with:

(c) Peace and security for all.

Promoting peace and security must involve all people and must build on, and expand, the National Peace Initiative. Apartheid placed the security forces, police and judicial system at the service of its racist ideology. The security forces have been unable to stem the tide of violence that has engulfed our people.

To begin the process of reconstruction and development we must now establish security forces that reflect the national and gender character of our country. Such forces must be nonpartisan, professional, and uphold the Constitution and respect human rights. The judicial system must reflect society's racial and gender composition, and provide fairness and equality for all before the law. As peace and security are established, we will be able to embark upon:

(d) Nation-building.

Central to the crisis in our country are the massive divisions and inequalities left behind by apartheid. We must not perpetuate the separation of our society into a 'first world' and a 'third world' another disguised way of preserving apartheid. We must not confine growth strategies to the former, while doing patchwork and piecemeal development in the latter, waiting for trickle-down development.

Nation-building is the basis on which to build a South Africa that can support the development of our Southern African region. Nation-building is also the basis on which to ensure that our country takes up an effective role within the world community. Only a programme that develops economic, political and social viability can ensure our national sovereignty. Nation-building requires us to:

(e) Link reconstruction and development.

The RDP is based on reconstruction and development being parts of an integrated process. This is in contrast to a commonly held view that growth and development, or growth and redistribution are processes that contradict each other. Growth – the measurable increase in the output of the modern industrial economy – is commonly seen as the priority that must precede development.

Development is portrayed as a marginal effort of redistribution to areas of urban and rural poverty. In this view, development is a deduction from growth. The RDP breaks decisively with this approach. If growth is defined as an increase in output, then it is of course a basic goal. However, where that growth occurs, how sustainable it is, how it is distributed, the degree to which it contributes to building long-term productive capacity and human resource development, and what impact it has on the environment, are the crucial questions when considering reconstruction and development.

The RDP integrates growth, development, reconstruction and redistribution into a unified programme. The key to this link is an infrastructural programme that will provide access to modern and effective services like electricity, water, telecommunications, transport, health, education and training for all our people. This programme will both meet basic needs and open up previously suppressed economic and human potential in urban and rural areas. In turn this will lead to an increased output in all sectors of the economy, and by modernising our infrastructure and human resource development, we will also enhance export capacity. Success in linking reconstruction and development is essential if we are to achieve peace and security for all.

Finally, these first five principles all depend on a thoroughgoing:

(f) ) Democratisation of South Africa.

Minority control and privilege in every aspect of our society are the main obstruction to developing an integrated programme that unleashes all the resources of our country. Thoroughgoing democratisation of our society is, in other words, absolutely integral to the whole RDP. The RDP requires fundamental changes in the way that policy is made and programmes are implemented. Above all, the people affected must participate in decision-making. Democratisation must begin to transform both the state and civil society.

Democracy is not confined to periodic elections. It is, rather, an active process enabling everyone to contribute to reconstruction and development. An integrated programme, based on the people, that provides peace and security for all and builds the nation, links reconstruction and development and deepens democracy – these are the six basic principles of the RDP.

5. Through The Eye Of A Needle? Choosing The Best Cadres To Lead Social Transformation:

The Litmus Test For Activism, Discipline , Cadreship and Leade rship.

On p.15, under the heading “THE PILLARS OF SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION”, the Strategy and Tactics document asserts that the transition from Apartheid colonialism to a national democratic society requires that the ANC, in theory and action, elaborates, implements and review the concrete tasks across the pillars of socio-economic transformation, identified in the 2007 Strategy and Tactics document as the key strategic terrains of struggle and transformation.

These pillars are:

(a) building a democratic developmental state;

(b) transforming the economy;

(c) ideological work and the battle of ideas;

(d) international work; and,

(e) mass mobilization and organization.

6. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

The Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic states that:

We, the people of South Africa,

Recognise the injustices of our past;

Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; and

Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and

Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.

We, therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to:–

Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;

Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;

Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and

Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.

South Africa is a constitutional state. This means that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Subjecting ourselves to it is non-negotiable. However, this does not mean that it should be fetishized. It must be understood for what it was meant be: an organic, or, dynamic and living document at the centre of transforming the social and economic condition of the majority of our people, in the first instance.

7. The National Development Plan: Vision 2030

The National Development Plan prefaces its Overview by a quote from the Reconstruction and Development Programme:

No political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remain in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life. Attacking poverty and deprivation must therefore be the first priority of a democratic government.

Its Executive Summary, p 5, has the following to say, which is pertinent here:

Developing and upgrading capabilities to enable sustainable and inclusive development requires a new approach and a new mind-set. The story we propose to write involves:

(a) creating jobs and livelihoods;

(b) expanding infrastructure;

(c) transitioning to a low-carbon economy;

(d) transforming urban and rural spaces;

(e) improving education and training;

(f) providing quality health care;

(g) building a capable state;

(h) fighting corruption and enhancing accountability;


(i) transforming society and uniting the nation.


This could take several forms, depending on the key objective. Two objectives come immediately to mind, namely, developmental and punitive. The ANC already has two institutions to incentivize good and exemplary behaviour and conduct of its members: the Integrity Commission (IC) and the Disciplinary Committees (DCs).

The former is new and still going through a learning curve, like all of us its office bearers and potential recipients of its decisions. Early indications are that some amendments might need to be made to give it some power to enforce its recommendations, should the NEC not implement them, especially where such recommendations related to its members. The latter has long established itself as a consequences manager of the Organization.

At issue with respect to the IC might be perceptions or even understanding(s) about its intended objectives. Is the IC intended to be developmental or punitive, or, both in its outlook? An unambiguous answer is critical to this question, for the credibility of the IC itself, as well as its effectiveness in pursuit of its intended results. The accent of the Commission is on 'integrity'. Its first, and most prominent case thus far, resulted in the resignation of a Member of Parliament, on its insistence. That created the perception that it is mainly punitive, rather than developmental. However, it is too early to make such a conclusion.

Yet, 'integrity' is but one in a set of five elements of the ANC’s core value-system. These values should not be seen one in isolation of the others, because they are mutually reinforcing. We need a comprehensive institutional system to incentivize exemplary political behaviour and conduct in members of the Organization. To complete this institutional arrangement, we need an additional organ with a mainly developmental, rehabilitative and therapeutic outlook, to complement the two which already exist – the IC and the DC – whose outlook is mainly interrogative and punitive.

It is here proposed that the ANC establishes a Council of Elders (CoE), which should be composed of senior members of the Organization; members who have, over the years, earned themselves immense respect inside and outside the Organization, because of their moral stature and integrity; demonstrable sense of fairness and justice in handling matters, including conflicts, within the Organization; knowledge of the Organization, in terms of its history, values, political culture and organisational discipline; their ability and courage to lead by example, in good times and bad; their incorruptible character; and, people who could be entrusted with confidential information I issues, especially matters affecting the Organization and people. This Council of Elders should, in short, be the Moral Compass of the ANC. The ANC has many such people in its ranks.

The modus operandi of the CoE should reflect or epitomize the stature of its members.This should be a mainly behind-the-scenes operator, but with awesome results, shown off in the exemplary political and revolutionary conduct of members of the ANC who would have had the honour and privilege of having gone through their hands. It must be only when one would have proven himself / herself to be incorrigible that it must be deemed necessary to show them the door. In other words, showing people the door should be the absolute last resort. Ordinarily, people should be referred to the CoE by either the IC or the DC for political rehabilitation. This is the CoE playing its rehab role, behind the scenes, or, in tandem with the Political School, once it is established.

The role of the CoE is, primarily, character and cadre development; and, secondarily, corrective and rehabilitative. It is to transform ordinary ANC members, and even what could have been regarded as bad apples among them, into true servants of the people and trusted patriots people who are loyal to the cause of the national democratic revolution; people of unquestionable integrity and moral stature; people who, as a result of their selflessness, instead of imposing themselves, or, being imposed by factions, as leaders to further their personal interests at the expense of those of the Movement, rather seek to make others leaders; people who are unassuming and humble; and, people who are honest and trustworthy. It must, above all, churn out cadres and leaders of the ANC who would need no reminding that the interests of the Organization always come first, no matter the circumstances.

It is our humble submission that the ANC needs this kind of institution today, more than it ever did before. Establishing it would complete the institutional system to incentivize, or, enforce membership compliance with the Seven Imperatives:

- The Council of Elders: the Moral Compass;

- The Integrity Commission: the Integrity Watchdog; and,

- The Disciplinary Committee: Consequence Management.


It is submitted here that social inequality and poverty in South Africa are not just a function of unemployment. They are rooted in the structure of the country’s society, which has been inherited from the country’s unique variant of colonialism – what has been characterized in the Preamble above as Colonialism Of A Special Type (CST). To eradicate poverty and achieve social equality and justice in SA, the legacy of CST must be uprooted and destroyed, not tinkered with, as the case has been up to now. This is not a populistic call for anarchy, or, infantile adventurism.

Nowhere is this legacy better demonstrated than in education – the most critical social change agent in any modern society; and, in industry. We continue to have two contrasting systems and environs – one cut out for white people and the other for black people – each one, in its own way, perpetuating past Colonial and Apartheid socio-economic relations. The doors of learning and culture might be open (Freedom Charter). Two questions stand out, however: whose children walk in there? Is the quality of content and agency inside there the same in every school, particularly between black and white schools? The least said about the learning environs, the better. These systemic and structural inequalities must end, so that there is a single education system and learning environment which must churn out people who have an equal opportunity to fit in any sector of industry.

Our democracy is, by design, at once representative and participatory. We must eschew the tendency to be too formalistic and bureaucratic in interpreting the character of our democracy. Yes, we have a constitution which enables all qualifying people to vote every five years; discrimination based on race has been outlawed; hundreds of Colonial and Apartheid laws have been repealed and, in many instances, replaced by progressive ones; etc.

But, what is the extent of popular participation in these transformations, beyond formal bureaucratic interactions, such as when bills are processed by our legislative bodies? Do municipal councillors consult communities when formulating, implementing and reviewing integrated development plans (IDPs)? The participation envisaged by the national democratic revolution is one that fundamentally transforms power relations in society, such that an egalitarian socio-economic order prevails; not the one that just rubber-stamps decisions already formalized by public representatives and bureaucrats in Legislative and Municipal Chambers.

The late Joe Slovo aptly characterized the mode of take-over of state power in South Africa as “CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION.” In the same vain, Moses Kotane defines the essence of revolution as people “REVOLUTION KE BATHO.”

What are the things that bedevil your everyday lives? What do you think should be done to correct the situation? What do you think your role should be in correcting the situation? These are empowering questions; they place people at the centre of critical decision-making and corrective action: they assume the centre-stage in policy and legislation formulation, as well as corrective action.

When legislators return with policy proposals and bills, based on such engagements, these mirror the essence of what people had said should be done to improve the quality of their lives; people own them.These policy proposals are adopted and bills are promulgated into laws by the constitutional bodies responsible for such. These are then implemented, under the leadership of government, with each segment holding the other accountable. When the next elections come, people are afforded an opportunity to review the impact of their decisions and actions. This is the kind of relationship that is envisaged in the Freedom Charter (South Africa’s Constitution has got the DNA of the Freedom Charter running through it), the Ready To Govern Document, the RDP and the NDP.

The proposals here are in line with the trajectory presented in Figure 1(b). The long-term impact and success of this strategy should, in the main, be measured in terms of the extent to which it breaks down structural poverty and social inequality, as rapidly as is possible. #CST MustFall!


The Africans’ Claims In South: As adopted by the Annual Conference of the ANC in Bloemfontein on the 16th of December, 1943.

The following paragraph is an extract from the Preface of the Document, signed off by Dr A. B. Xuma, the President-General of the ANC. It is more relevant to the Movement today, particularly those of its members holding positions of responsibility that translate into the power to exercise control over public assets and resources, on behalf of the people – be they elected public representatives or public servants. Thus, it goes:

As African leaders we are not so foolish as to believe that because we have made these declarations that our government will grant us our claims for the mere asking. We realize that for the African this is only a beginning of a long struggle entailing great sacrifices of them, and [could] mean life itself. To the African people the declaration is a challenge to organise and unite themselves under the mass liberation movement, the African National Congress. The struggle is on right now, and must be persistent and insistent. In a mass liberation movement there is no room for divisions or for personal ambitions. The goal is one, namely, freedom for all. It should be the central and only aim for [or] objective of all true African nationals. Divisions and gratification[al] of personal ambitions under the circumstances will be a betrayal of this great cause.

NB: the square brackets are corrective, where the original sentence does not seem to make sense. There is no tempering with the essence of the statement.

This article first appeared in the ANC’s online journal, Umrabulo.