Honouring Rica Hodgson - Blade Nzimande

SACP GS calls on ICASA to investigate role of Naspers and MultiChoice in regulatory and state capture

Rica Hodgson memorial service

Political Bureau Statement delivered by Cde Blade Nzimande, SACP General Secretary

Johannesburg, 4 February 2018

The SACP lowers its Red Flag in honour of the gallant stalwart of our struggle for liberation and social emancipation, Comrade Rica Hodgson. The SACP expresses its heartfelt condolences to the Hodgson family in mourning the death of a mother, a progressive author and one of the finest revolutionaries the Communist Party and our national liberation movement have ever produced. In honour of Comrade Rica, we must as a nation and will as the SACP deepen our work to build a completely non-racial and non-sexist, just and democratic society. As an ultimate goal, that is a South Africa without the exploitation of one person by another; and free from imperialist domination – in short a socialist South Africa. 

The further they move away from the period of colonial oppression and exploitation, all liberation movements begin to lose their veterans and stalwarts who had acted as a crucial link between the struggles for freedom and the attainment of national independence – in our case the 1994 democratic breakthrough to freedom. Unless our movements carefully preserve this link through, amongst others, the telling of our history, there is always the danger of reversals as sections of new generations might fail to connect the liberation struggles and the tasks of building democratic societies. 

The death of Comrade Rica Hodgson on 11 January became one of the great losses of some of our finest revolutionaries ever produced by our national liberation movement. Honouring the memory and telling the story of Comrade Rica today and in future must act as a bond that connects the struggles to overthrow the apartheid regime and advance today’s struggles for further democratic transformation and complete social emancipation. New generations without the firsthand experience of colonial oppression and direct experience and involvement in the struggles against apartheid have to be carefully nurtured to continuously understand this.

Unless we intensify political education and teach the correct history of our struggle, we will lose our institutional memory with serious political implications.  As a political movement we cannot rely only on government to tell our history and educate younger generations about that history. Our own organisations must become centres of learning and teaching not only through institutionalised political education, but also through our programmes and consistent campaigning and mobilisation to complete the national democratic revolution and deepen the struggle achieve socialism. 

Comrade Rica Hodgson was born on 1 July 1920, in family where her father, Maurice Gampel was a Polish Jew from, according to Rica herself ‘a well-off, educated and culturally refined family’, who married her mother Rachel. She was one of those few comrades who were involved in virtually all the major struggles from the 1940’s until our 1994 democratic breakthrough and beyond. She was recruited into the then Communist Party of South Africa in 1941. 

In 1943 Comrade Rica became the fundraiser for the Springbok Legion – an organisation comprising former soldiers that mobilised against the rising threat of fascism in South Africa. Following the arrest of 156 leaders of our struggle, in 1957 she became a fundraiser and secretary of the Treason Trial Defence Fund. Later, in 1961, Comrade Rica became a fundraiser for the Johannesburg branch of the Defence and Aid Fund South Africa.

From the early 1960s both Rica and Jack left for exile. Between 1964 and 1981, Rica Hodgson worked full-time for the British Defence and Aid Fund and headed the Welfare Section of the International Defence and Aid Fund, covertly channelling funds for the defence of apartheid prisoners and the support of their families. Thousands of people were assisted with regular income transmitted through a network of church and sympathetic people, which Hodgson helped to establish in various countries. No cent was reported missing from all of these financial responsibilities. 

In honour of Comrade Rica Hodgson, we must dismantle the networks of parasites, or what the SACP calls the parasitic bourgeoisie, and corporate state capture and other forms of corruption. These networks have infested certain sections of our movement and the state, including state entities and agencies. The task to dislodge these parasitic networks will not become successful unless President Jacob Zuma resigns or is removed from office because he is at the centre of the reproduction of these networks that drop his name left, centre and right. As the SACP we decided not to make noise about this but instead allow the newly elected ANC leadership to do its work.  

Cde Rica had married another communist Jack Hodgson in 1945, a man with a distinguished history in our liberation movement, and they became key activists of both the Party and the Congress of Democrats, and were heavily involved in the Defiance Campaign, and Rica tried her best to observe the proceedings of the Congress of the People that adopted the Freedom Charter in 1955 in defiance of her  banning orders together with Hilda Bernstein, another communist and member of the Congress of Democrats, who once was a Communist councillor in Johannesburg. She describes this episode from her book thus, “Foot Soldier for Freedom”:

“Hilda Bernstein and I were prevented from attending the Congress (of the people) due to ministerial banning orders. But we yearned to get a glimpse of it. We decided to drive out to Kliptown and try our luck. Hilda knew of an Indian man who owned a house that bordered the Kliptown field. A coal heap was piled up against his back wall for the winter affording us a strategic vantage point. The owner willingly opened his door to us and scrambled up the coal mountain, the heavily pregnant Hilda bobbing with her big belly as she climbed.

“We had a perfect view of the thousands who had gathered in the name of freedom and equality. We could see Bishop Trevor Huddleston addressing the throng from a platform. But our host began to worry. He had heard that the Special Branch, or the ‘Gestapo’ as we preferred to call them, was patrolling the area. He wasn’t looking for trouble and we didn’t wish to compromise him further, so we left. But it didn’t matter that our view of the congress was short-lived. It didn’t matter that we were on the wrong side of the wall. That brief experience did to my heart what strong coffee does… I felt like something had been started that would have a domino effect, finally heralding freedom for our beloved country.” (pp.69-70)

In fact, like Walter and Albertina Sisulu, Nelson and Winnie Mandela, the Cachalias, the Meers, the story of Rica cannot be told outside of that of her husband Jack Hodgson. They are some of the families that contributed enormously to the liberation of our country and yet expected no favours from our movement. Unlike today where we have completely unknown families who have abrogated to themselves, with the treasonous collusion of some of our own comrades, the right to loot our state. In memory of Rica and Jack Hodgson let us intensify the struggle to dismantle the parasitic networks of state capture surrounding our state and movement.

Cde Jack Hodgson passed away in exile in 1977 and this is what  Comrade Joe Slovo, our late Party National Chairperson, had to say paying his last respects to Comrade Jack Hodgson:

“For many years Jack shared important responsibilities in vital sectors of our struggle, yet he always insisted that he was just a musket bearer. And he said this not to invite reassurance, but with pride. For Jack believed deeply that what you plan for others you must be ready to do yourself, and if not, then as he always put it, you must get off the pot. And Jack lived by this philosophy throughout his life. He painstakingly got this across to the many that he helped to prepare for revolutionary work. And they went to their tasks without the feeling that they were being sent. They felt, these revolutionary militants, that he was at one with them. And their sense of loss at Jack’s passing must indeed be immense. And this feeling about Jack transferred itself not only to those who knew him but to those who didn’t know him. And when news came of Jack’s death when we were in Luanda, a meeting of those who didn’t know him, most of them, expressed their affection for this great revolutionary.”

I also feel honoured that I have personally had to work closely for a few years with the son of Rica and Jack, Comrade Spencer Hodgson. I know that given Comrade Spencer’s modesty he may not like me to say this. But working through the Wits Architecture Department, Comrade Spencer was part of the core team that helped me to build the two new universities of Mpumalanga and Sol Plaatjie in my stint as Minister of Higher Education and Training. Without his hard work and dedication we might not have pulled off these projects during such a relatively short time. We hope one of these universities will one day start academic or research projects in honour of the Hodgson family as part of a tribute to this contribution.

In honour of Comrade Rica Hodgson we must dismantle both corporate state capture and monopoly domination. In this regard, on behalf of our Political Bureau I want to take this opportunity to address one of the immediate issues of serious concern, and put forward the tasks that the SACP proposes should form part and parcel of the measures that are required to tackle the problem:

Private monopolisation of our media and communication spaces by Naspers and its subsidiaries, in this case particularly MultiChoice:

Our Political Bureau met on Friday to yesterday, 2-3 February and, among others discussed this issue.

Naspers and MultiChoice never learn, do they! It is worse to carry out a sham internal inquiry on its relationship with ANN7 than not to do an inquiry at all.  

Given the low viewership of ANN7, MultiChoice cannot justify its payments to ANN7 as purely a market decision. It was clearly meant to influence government policy on set top box encryption.  Now that the Guptas influence on government decisions has drastically declined, MultiChoice has dumped them.

While we think that ANN7 is a right-wing, toxic channel, with its phony commentators, that targets those fighting corruption and presents the world-view of the state capturers we do not believe that it should be removed from MultiChoice’s DSTV bouquet unless it violates the constitution and laws of the country.  ANN7 often gives space to the new elites who are from the previously oppressed and who seek to replace our previous oppressors in the exploitation of the masses and abuse of public resources. It’s ironic that ANN7 presents itself as opposed to white monopoly capital and yet is desperate to be given favours by it. 

However, If MultiChoice implements its decision, it has the responsibility to ensure that the workers are absorbed by its other channels or find work elsewhere.

The internal inquiry into ANN7 was held to distract attention from the far more nefarious MultiChoice-SABC deal that compelled SABC to oppose government policy on set top box encryption? Why was there no inquiry into allegations that MultiChoice paid Hlaudi Motsoeneng and others to deliver a new policy on set top boxes without encryption?

But fundamentally: how can MultiChoice investigate itself? And why did the investigation exclude the Naspers Chairperson, Koos Bekker, the leader of the campaign to oppose encryption? In addition, MultiChoice will not develop measures to end its own monopoly. Urgent measures are required, including an immediate review of the broadcasting digital migration policy to bring the MultiChoice monopoly to an end.  

The SACP calls on ICASA to thoroughly and expeditiously investigate the role of Naspers and MultiChoice in regulatory and state capture, and its continued dominance of 98% of the Pay-TV market. We also call on the Hawks and other investigative agencies to investigate Naspers, MultiChoice and those within the state, including politicians, accused of corruption in the set top box encryption issues, including the allocation of tenders. We also call upon the ANC Chief Whip, Comrade Jackson Mthembu and the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications to implement their promise to undertake a hearing on MultiChoice’s pernicious influence on government policy on encryption.  

We want to see more competition in the Pay-TV sector, cheaper costs and greater access for people. MultiChoice’s extreme dominance of the market must end.

As we have repeatedly said, we are opposed to all forms of state capture. Not just the Guptas, but the Bekkers, Patels and others. And all forms of monopoly dominance and corporate greed. In the interests of the people, the state must deal with McKinsey, KPMG, Steinhoff, Napers that have obviously or admittedly been involved in or are accused of serious wrongdoing. 

The Viceroy Research fiasco:

The SACP has waged a major campaign for transformation of the financial sector, including for the banks to include the unbanked but also avoid reckless lending that is so destructive of the poor and low income earners. 

Given the African Bank experience it is understandable that people are anxious about claims that Capitec is financially challenged, but we are very concerned about Viceroy’s possible profit motive and possible involvement in driving speculative financial activities, including “short selling”. We call for the Financial Services Board and other relevant institutions and law enforcement agencies to fully investigate this matter, including Viceroy’s role.

Long live the memory of Rica Hodgson long live!

Issued by the SACP, 4 February 2018