APF OFFICE BEARERS CONSOLIDATED ORGANISATIONAL REPORT TO THE 2006 AGM
Friday 14 September 2007
This report consists of 5 sections. Section One deals with the political developments within the APF over the past two years. Section Two deals with the campaigns of the APF and issues dealt with. Section Three focuses on the organizational aspects of the organization. Section Four deals with solidarity initiatives undertaken. The last section, Section Five, focuses on office and staff matters.
2. The Political Developments
2004 National Elections and 2006 Local Government Elections
2.1. Over the past 2 years we have at various stages intersected with bourgeois parliamentary elections both at national and local levels. Correctly we resolved that we must use these elections to strengthen our struggles and to build our movements. We further stated that whether we partake in the elections by putting up candidates or not is a tactical matter and not a principle one.
2.2. Whilst we adopted a general correct approach to these elections we have not managed to emerge with a coherent tactical line of march. In relation to the 2004 National Elections we said that we will call on the masses not to vote for capitalist parties but that we will leave it up to individual affiliates to decide what they do on the elections day. Our inability to fashion a coherent position to the 2004 national elections reflects the varying experiences of our affiliates and their different levels of political and organizational developments.
2.3. This unevenness in the political and organizational developments of the affiliates found expression in the approaches to this year’s local government elections. We resolved to participate in the elections through the Local Government Campaign. For this purpose we developed and adopted a Platform on Local Government that brings together our vision and demands for local government. The Platform is our attempt to sum up our experiences, struggles and demands around local government over the past 5 years and to provide a unifying vision for our continued struggles. This Platform must be take forward after the elections and be further enriched by our struggles.
2.4. Whilst agreeing to engage with the Local Government Elections through our Campaign, we have not really been able to mount an effective and united campaign. We only managed to stage one march in the center of Johannesburg City just before the elections date. This situation was partly the result of the organizational and financial problems experienced during the course of 2005. But partly also because we decided not to contest the elections as the APF. In the end we decided to support independent candidates of the affiliates were they are being put forward. However, we know that affiliates and regions engaged actively in the process of elections and did quite a lot of electoral work . What is missing is that we have not as yet made a comprehensive assessment of the electoral work of the affiliates and regions. This kind of assessment will give us a real insight into the scope of our intervention around the elections.
2.5. Nevertheless, affiliates based on their own assessment opted for a variety of tactical approaches to the elections. Some affiliates in Johannesburg Region ( SECC, TCC, Alex, Kliptown and Moshoaledi) formed Operation Khanyisa Movement (OKM) to contest the elections. Orange Farm Water Crisis Committee (who is part of the JHB Region) embarked upon an active boycott campaign of the elections. In the East Rand, KCR joined with two other community organizations to form the Displacees Ratepayers Association (DRPA) for electoral purposes. TECRA registered as a political party to contest both the proportional representation and ward candidates. In the Vaal Region, we had Kanana Community Development Forum (KCDF) standing two independent candidates; whilst SAUYF and WCCC contested under the banner of the Socialist Party of Azania (SOPA); and Vaal Community Forum (VCF) contesting under the banner of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). In the Pretoria area, Shoshanguve put up independent candidates.
2.6. Some of the affiliates through their respective electoral coalitions managed to secure proportional representation seats: OKM, which include some of our JHB-based affiliates - one seat in the JHB Council; DRPA which include KCR - three seats in Erkuhleni Council; and TECRA - one seat in Ekurhuleni.
2.7. From the these two elections we have seen that we are faced with a challenge of navigating a very tricky terrain of bourgeois elections where we are still in the process of unifying our variegated experiences around a common political perspective. It is probably inevitable at this stage that there will be different tactical approaches to bourgeois elections within our ranks.
2.8. The AGM needs to reflect on the approaches to the 2006 Local Government Elections and our efforts to fashion a campaign around it. Importantly we need to reflect on how we take forward our Platform on Local Government and the struggles associated with it. Another factor that we need to consider is what are the implications of some affiliates having seats in two Metro Councils and what this means for our work of building resistance and strong mass organizations.
SOLIDARITY BETWEEN AFFILIATES
2.9. One of the key objectives of the APF is the building of solidarity between affiliates. The inter-affiliate solidarity, certainly initiated by the organisation, was lacking. This is not to say that there was no solidarity but rather that it was not very wide-spread and consistently organized. It was sporadic and on the ‘spur of the moment’ events rather than being informed by a political or organizational building approach. Clearly this is one of the key aspects of our political and organizational work that we need to improve in the next months. Over the years we have build a level of political and organizational experience in a range of areas and struggles and it must be used to build and strengthen existing and new affiliates where necessary. Inter-affiliate solidarity is one way of sharing our accumulated experiences.
The Uprisings in other Townships
2.10. We have seen that over the past two years there has been an increase in the number of uprisings against the lack of delivery of basic services. From the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, the Free State and beyond communities have risen up against the ANC Local Government. Recently, we have seen on door step the community of Khutsong resisting their incorporation into Northwest for fear of not receiving delivery of basic services. Despite our verbal intentions of wanting to link up with these uprisings we have failed to establish the necessary links and solidarity with these struggles and communities. This AGM must reflect on why we are not able to respond link up and respond to struggles that are not cutting through our affiliates. The strengthening of our movement is integrally connected with our ability to establish political and organizational links with new struggles and movements.
Role of Social Movements and COSATU
2.11. A key strategic debate that has emerged within the organization centers around the role of social movements (including the APF), of spontaneous uprising and COSATU in the building of a new political movement. This debate has important implications for the types of tasks we set ourselves as a movement as well as implications of how we utilize our resources - both political and organizationally - in the coming period. This AGM must obviously take forward these questions and concretized them.
Workshops on Socialism
2.11.In our last AGM we adopted socialism as the guiding vision for the organization and committed ourselves to organize workshop(s) on socialism. We managed to hold three workshops through the support of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation who provided the funding for the workshops. The first one dealt with: What is Socialism? In this workshop two questions emerged, namely, the role of state power in the struggle for socialism and the organizational instrument necessary for the struggle for socialism. The second workshop focused on socialism and parliamentarism. The third one dealt with socialism and trade unionism.
2.11. Gauging from the discussions in the three workshops it is evident that in our organization there is a great interest in the idea of socialism. But at the same time we realize that there is a need to deepen our understanding of socialism as well as how it relates and informs our daily struggles and organizational building.
2.12. With this in mind we are in the process of putting forward another proposal to Rosa Luxembourg to fund another series of workshops relating to socialism. It is our intention to first hold a one-day workshop to brainstorm the topics that the next series of workshops must deal with.
Political Differences within the organization
2.13. Over the past two years we have seen that the organization has become very polarized as a result of the differing views on many important questions - be it around COSATU - its leadership and membership, the workers party, approaches to elections and so. It not so much that there are differences within the organization but the manner in which the differences are polarizing the organization. We have to discuss how we are going to manage our differences in a way that allows for greater political tolerance so that we can political consolidate our movement and ensure greater organizational unity.
THE CAMPAIGNS AND ISSUES ADDRESSED
2.14. The Local Government Campaign
Towards the end of 2004 we adopted the Local Government Campaign.
We identified three objectives translated into three phases to the campaign. They were:
Phase One : January - March 2005 · Developing and finalizing APF Platform Phase Two : April- June 2005 · Local Government Democracy and Candidates· Develop guidelines on standing candidates and selection of candidates Phase Three: July - November 2005 · Mobilising and Campaigning around Platform
One of the achievements of campaign is that we finalized our platform on Local Government.
The platform has a number of important areas, namely:
· Democracy and Local Government · Our Demands relating:
Water and Sanitation
Health and Environment
Transport and Roads
Employment and Workers’ Rights · Financing of Local Government
Integral to the campaign was the mobilization of affiliates and here we decided that: · Communities should convene mass meetings on the specific areas of the platform that they have struggled around, and are currently struggling around. · Leading up to the mass meetings, communities to distribute pamphlets and engage house-to-house · Where possible this could take the form of marches in the townships in different sections. · Put platform in booklet form
We also said that the Regions must play an important role in the mobilization of the campaign and in relation to the Regions we said that:
· Each Region needs to develop a organizing and mobilizing plan · East Rand: focus could be housing and electricity (the REDS)
Convene a two day workshop on housing/REDS
Invite all the fighting communities outside the APF
Workshop follow by a march to Duma Nkosi
· Vaal Region: focus could be on democracy and housing
Convene a APF mass meeting
Invite all the fighting communities outside the APF
· Johannesburg Region: focus on housing, water and electricity
Convene a APF mass meeting
Invite all the fighting communities outside the APF
Another part of the campaign was the issue of political consciousness raising and here we said that we will look at socialism and parliamentarism. We also set ourselves the aim of convening a public meeting of candidates of affiliates to discuss the roles of candidates. Finally the campaign was to culminate in a central APF march to the Gauteng MEC for Local Government
Preliminary Assessment: To a large extent many of the objectives and tasks that we set ourselves in this campaign did not materialize. A major contributory factor has been the financial problems we experienced between May and August 2005. Another factor was that we had to deal with a number of organizational problems during that time. And as indicated earlier affiliates also did not have a common tactical position on the fielding of candidates and the political banners under which they will do so. The central APF march did take place but the stated objectives were not achieved. This was largely as a result of the continuous postponements of the date of the march, again due to the uncertainty of monies available.
This AGM needs to make an assessment of the campaign and draw out the necessary political and organizational lessons for the APF.
2.15. Water Privatisation
During the course of 2004 the Coalition against Water Privatisation was initiated by the APF and other organizations like the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI). The objective was to galvinise communities and organizations against water privatization and in particular the pre-paid water meters. Integral to the work of the Coalition is the preparation of a constitutional court case on the unconstitutionality of pre-paid water meters. It is envisaged that the constitutional court case is to be launched during this year. Part of our exposure of pre-paid water meters was the research done on pre-paid waters in Orange Farm and Phiri. The findings of this research were put in a booklet form and it is being used widely as reference point on pre-paid water meters.
2.16. Focus on Human Rights
At the beginning of 2004 we embarked upon the exposure of the violation of human rights by the ANC government’s GEAR policies. The message that we wanted to convey was that GEAR being a neo-liberal anti-working class policy is fundamentally anti-human rights. We decided to march to the opening of Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg. On March 21st approximately 50 representatives from the APF were arrested for conducting an illegal gathering outside of Constitution Hill. During this day, large numbers of APF members in Thembalihle, Soweto and the East Rand were also stopped by the police from boarding arranged buses to town - regardless of the fact that boarding a bus is not an illegal activity. The state dropped all charges against those arrested.
2.16. Housing and Evictions
Whilst some of the affiliates initiated struggles around housing and evictions, the APF set up the housing committee to co-ordinate our intervention in these areas. Two workshops were convened on housing and evictions. A detailed report was compiled on how to respond to evictions. This report could be transformed into a booklet that can serve as form of manual on evictions. With the housing struggles emerging on the East Rand during 2005 we requested the East Rand Region to link up and assist with these struggles.
As indicated there are a number of struggles and interventions in the area of housing and evictions by some affiliates. However, the organization has not managed to effectively co-ordinate our role in this area and is a major shortcoming. It is important that we need to address this.
This area of campaign work is moving very slowly forward. Electricity as a campaign was largely overtaken by the water struggles. This does not mean that the struggle has stopped around electricity. We have noticed that Eskom is taking out the boxes and replacing them with tamper proof boxes. If we look broadly we have not maintained the pressure. In Soweto they are installing the tamper proof boxes and in other areas. So we need to re-raise the demand for free electricity and mobilise to ensure that the people stand up and fight.
We made a submission on the issue of Regional Electricity Distributors (REDS) to the Erkuhuleni Municipality. Through the REDS the government attempts to privatize the distribution of electricity and take electricity provision out of the hands of the municipality and put it in the hands of the capitalists. We have committed ourselves to focus on the issue of REDS and encouraged the East Rand Region to make it a central focus in the coming months. We also know that, whilst the REDS have started on the East Rand, it a national plan of the government and in the coming months the REDS are going to spread out to areas like Pretoria and Vaal though they might take different forms to that of the East Rand.
We have attempted to deal with the issue of HIV/AIDS but only at the level of awareness raising. The Research Committee conducted a workshop and survey on the HIV/AIDS. The objectives were to explore the relationships between HIV/AIDS and privatisation, access to basic services (such as land, water, electricity, housing, education, etc.), and social inequality more generally and to ascertain the needs of communities in relation to HIV/AIDS. Further it was an attempt to develop a common strategy for addressing the problem of HIV-AIDS as the APF (including campaigns). We have raised funds from Oxfam to continue with the work on HIV/AIDS but we need to integrate the issue into the APF and affiliates more closely.
AFFILIATE CAMPAIGNS and ISSUES
2.19. Presently we have 19 community-based affiliates and each one with its own campaigns and programmes of action. Affiliates deal with a range of issues - housing, evictions, pre-paid meters, unemployment, education, forced removals, projects, workers’ issues, renewal developments and so on.
The organization attempted to address each affiliate’s issues, campaigns and programme of actions by taking individual reports in the Exco/CC. But due to time pressures this process was never completed nor repeated with the result that the APF has not paid close attention to the issues of affiliates. This has been a major short-coming of the organization. It has meant that we have not been able to assist and monitor affiliates effectively. We have lost two affiliates during this period - Atteridgeville and Ikageng. Some affiliates also tend to come in and out of the organisation like Daveyton but because we do not deal with affiliate matters consistently we are unable to address such developments.
We need to find a way of integrating affiliate organizational matters into the work of the APF. One of the ways is to develop a comprehensive organizing plan for the organizer and Organising Committee. This organizing plan will then guide the organisation in dealing with these matters and also enable us to incorporate the work of affiliates into our agendas and programmes.
2.20. The Co-ordinating Committee and Executive Committee
Generally, these two structures met regularly over the past two years. In 2004 we made the Co-ordinating Committee (CC) a two-day meeting instead of a one-day meeting and also we met once every two months instead of once a month. It was envisaged that the first day would be dedicated to affiliate reports and the second day was for the discussion and resolution of other issues. The aim was to create the space to share experiences and tactics regularly. It can be said that the two-day CC did allow us more space to deal extensively with a range of issues.
In 2005 we changed the Executive Committee (Exco) from a bi-monthly to a once a month meeting. This was done largely to cut down on the amount of time spend in APF meetings by affiliate delegates. There also tended to be an overlap between issues dealt with by at the Exco/CC. Attendance at these meetings have been fairly constant with attendance at CC averaging 70 and at Exco averaging 20.
In comparison to previous years we have witnessed that affiliate delegates did not fluctuate that often with the result that there was continuity between meetings. The gender balance is still a matter that needs to be addressed.
Evidently a lot remains to be done to improve the effectiveness of these two structures. Central amongst them is to have a more clear demarcation of issues to be dealt with by these structures. The starting times of the meetings need to be addressed. The question of the circulation of agenda, minutes and documents of these meetings must be addressed.
2.21. Office Bearers Committee
With the exception of a few meetings, the Office Bearers Committee (OBC) met regularly once a week. However, the OBC had difficulty in having a fixed day for its meetings. We largely alternated between a Friday and a Saturday afternoon. Afternoon meetings meant that we had time constraints because of the transport requirements of the delegates. A major contributing factor has been the composition of Office Bearers. The latter are equally spilt between comrades who are full-time employed in trade unions and comrades who are unemployed.
The work of the office bearers - particular in the area of finance - was severely affected with the resignation of cde Mmiselo Bayi. His resignation came a year after the last AGM and at a time when he was just about to get on top of the financial matters. Another problem experienced was that the deputy chairperson ceased to attend the structures of the organization. There was also irregular attendance of the deputy treasurer in the office bearers’ meetings. These matters were reported to the organization.
This situation contributed to the organization, in the latter part of 2005, deciding to co-opt comrades onto the OBC. The CC in August 2005 decided to include one representative from each of the sub-committees and the regional co-ordinators in an ex-officio capacity. It was hoped that with an expanded OBC more comrades would be involved in the running and co-ordination of the organization. It will also ensure a greater flow of information between the various components of the organization. It can be said that the expanded OBC has led to greater involvement of comrades in the organization. What needs to be assessed is whether it has led to the improvement in information flow.
Attempts were made to provide training for office bearers in particular in the area of finance where a three-day financial training workshop was organized towards the end of 2004. It should however be pointed out that not enough training took place and we need to rectify this situation.
2.22. The Regions
Initially we had great difficulty in clearly defining the role of the Regions in the organization but after some discussion and experiment we decided that Regions are in the main centers of co-ordination of solidarity and organizational building. Presently we have three official regions - East Rand, Johannesburg and Vaal. Unfortunately, the Regions with the exception of the Vaal Region, met sporadically over the past two years. The Vaal Region assisted with many organizational building matters. It safe to say that in general the Regions have not been able to anchor the campaigns and issues of the APF and of affiliates. The work of the Regions has been too sporadic.
As part of organizational building we need to look at how we are going to strengthen the Regions as an integral part of the organization. With ten new community organizations wanting to affiliate to the organization, the Regions are going to be important to ensure that the organization assist and build the struggles of affiliates.
· Media Subcommittee
Since the last (full) AGM in early 2004, the APF Media Committee has been relatively busy and has managed to carry out its mandate for the organisation. Committee engaged in three distinct projects - namely, a mural project, a writing project and a video project - in which most every active member has been involved at some time or another over the past two years. Recently, the sub-com has helped source materials for, set-up and oversee/run a new social movement resource centre (located in the Jubilee offices) in conjunction with Jubilee and Youth for Work
The sub-com has managed, for the most part, to meet every fortnight as per the decision of the APF (this has translated into an average of over 20 meetings per year) and numerous members have also participated in/attended various activities of other organisations where the APF Media was invited/needed. Attendance at sub-com meetings and active participation in its activities by representatives of APF affiliates has been up and down over this period, but there has always been a regular ‘cadre’ of activists as well as some energetic new participants. It must be noted however, that the continued failure of certain affiliates to attend/participate remains a concern and this is something that needs to be taken up and discussed by the APF as a whole. Note should also be made of the active participation and contributions of individual APF activists to the work of the committee as well as the support given to the committee by allied organisations/NGOs and other activists over the last two years.
Over the past two years the Committee produced various pamphlets and information sheets, co-ordinated press work, organised training workshops, organised t-shirts and cover affiliate activities. Over the period it also produced four newsletters of the APF. There are still problems of ensuring that the office bearers and the rest of the organisation play a more central role in the content of the APF newsletter. One of the key issues for consideration is how we can make the newsletter a greater organiser of the APF. Presently, we do not have feedback as to whether affiliates are using the newsletter in way that builds and popularises the APF and the work of the affiliates. ( More a more detailed outline of the work of the Media Committee see the attached report.)
· Legal Committee
The legal committee was formed to address the deep need for developing a legal strategy for the APF, both at the level of defensive actions (such as bail, arrests, court appearances etc.) and the proactive usages of the law (constitutional challenges, anti eviction matters etc). While some success has been enjoyed with respect to defensive actions, many challenges still exist in this regard. However much less focused attention has been given to the proactive usage of the law, largely due to a lack of capacity for such work in the committee. This report covers the last two years, beginning with the previous AGM.
In 2004, up until early 2005 Ahmed convened the committee. Due to personal commitments as well as the desire to locate the committee more effectively within communities, Siphiwe became the head of the committee in 2005. Ahmed continued to lend support to Siphiwe over this period, however such support has been uneven and based upon the comrades availability (in some cases, the comrade has not made himself available)
During the period the committee was not meeting regularly although attempts were made to rectify this problem. And even when the committee did meet, representation was confined only to a few affiliates. However toward the end of 2005 the committee began meeting on a more regular basis (every two weeks). Problems of representation persisted with communities still not taking full ownership of committee processes.
Historically, the policy of the APF is not to pay legal costs except in exceptional situations. Sometimes money has been raised to meet the legal cost of representation. But there remained a problem because many matters go to court without proper legal support. In order to rectify this situation the legal committee has been speaking with different legal aid institutions and more recently the APF has agreed to pay a retainer for a lawyer.
The constitutional case has largely been dealt with by the FXI and Dale on behalf of the organization.
Recently, a workshop was hosted by the committee to help communities understand the general framework of the South African law including marches, gatherings and evictions. A booklet on the gathering act is currently in the lay out and printing phase, and will be circulated soon.
· Research Committee
Most affiliates are represented in the subcommittee, and there is no one affiliate that dominates . No more than 22 comrades are present at a research subcommittee meeting. Meetings happen fortnightly. although the subcommittee would like to meet weekly to allow for more thorough discussion of individual projects. From time to time, the subcommittee has benefited from the participation of students, academics, and activists from overseas.
Two projects were designed to study the installation of prepaid meters - in Orange Farm, and in Phiri. In Orange Farm, we would be able to study the attitudes of residents to the prepaid system after they had had some experience with it, while Phiri would provide information on the attitudes of residents before the installation of the meters.
The research subcommittee published the findings of these processes in two reports - ’Nothing For Mahala’: The Forced Installation Of Prepaid Water Meters In Stretford, Extension4, Orange Farm, and The Struggle Against Silent Disconnections: Prepaid Meters & The Struggle For Life In Phiri, Soweto. For both these projects, we were fortunate to secure funding - from Public Citizen for the Orange Farm project, and from the Centre For Civil Society (CCS) for the Phiri work. A few workshops were organised to publicise the findings of the projects, and to raise awareness amongst residents of the threats of the prepaid water system, in 2004. These were short-lived due to a lack of resources forthcoming from the APF or the Coalition.
In partnership with the Debate Editorial Collective, two workshops were held for members of the research subcommittee to improve writing skills (in November 2004 and March 2005). While both these workshops assisted individual members with their approaches to writing, little has been done to follow up the work begun in these processes.
In July 2005, a two-day workshop was held to discuss HIV-AIDS. The workshop was called because the office bearers had requested the subcommittee to investigate how the APF should begin approaching the issue of HIV-AID.
A research skills workshop was held over 3 days for members of the research subcommittee and a few members of affiliates. Many comrades gained the basic skills necessary to read research reports and conceptualise research projects. In the course of this workshop, comrades were also able to collectively begin designing 3 research projects - around prepaid water meters, local government, and HIV-AIDS - that would serve as the basis for the future work of the subcommittee.
The subcommittee prepared submissions for consideration by the Election Platform Committee on HIV-AIDS and the struggle against water privatisation. Both these submissions were incorporated into the final Platform.
The subcommittee is currently engaged in work around 4 projects:
Prepaid Water Meters In Phiri, Soweto This is a follow up to previous work conducted in the area prior to the installation of the prepaid water meters. This project will serve to understand how the lives of people in Phiri have changed under the prepaid regime; how struggle has evolved against Johannesburg Water and the prepaid system; and how life outside of the prepaid regime is still possible.
HIV-AIDS This project seeks to understand the responses of community based organisations in 2 APF communities to the HIV-AIDS pandemic. It will also seek to understand the solutions open to community members in the problems they encounter in fighting HIV-AIDS.
Local Government This project seeks to understand the role that local government plays in the delivery of basic services. In particular, it seeks to understand how the APF should engage with local government around issues of service delivery. It will focus on the municipalities and communities of Johannesburg, the Vaal and the East Rand.
Consistency of participation in the subcommittee has been a major problem. Membership of the subcommittee has changed considerably over time.The over-abundance of funds at certain times in the life of the subcommittee, and the complete lack of resources at other times, has been disabling.
The committee has raised problems in the manner in which the office bearers and the office have dealt with matters from the committee. Whilst at times the office bearers have taken time to respond to requests from the committee, there have been a number of engagements on requests and proposals from the committee which took time. The committee has identified important lessons and one of which is that working as a collective is key rather than relying on the strength of a few individuals. The committee is of the view that we have developed a new approach to the study of people, movements, and phenomena - an approach that collapses the division between researcher and the subject being researched, and prioritises the needs of those struggling in the situation that they are researching. ( See attached the full Report from the Committee)
· Education Committee
Most affiliates are active in the Education Committee with two reps from affiliates attending the meetings and maffiliates bring one high school learner as a representative. Few affiliates send female comrades to the meeting so there is often more males than females at the meetings.
The subcommittee was formed to plan, organise and carry out the educational work of the APF. In the past two years there has been very little of an APF educational plan. The work of the subcommittee has largely become that of organising learners in relation to the Education Rights Campaign. This has caused some confusion as regards the roles and functions of the subcommittee. The subcommittee has taken on an organising function and its role as an educational resource for the APF has diminished.
The committee has arranged a number of workshops ranging from popular education workshop to affiliate based education focusing on issues relating to education. Another major focus of the committee was 16 June 2004. The Committee also assisted with a range of publications and the two APF workshops on socialism.
The subcommittee prepared the following submissions: § A response to “The Regulations for the exemption of Parents from payment of school fees” § A response to the Department of Education’s “Review of Financing, Resources and costs of Education” § A response to the Education Laws Amendment Bill § A contribution to the South African Human Rights Commissions submission dealing with the access, adaptability and acceptability - education.
A special group linked to the Education Subcommittee was formed to discuss and plan for ABET in different communities. This group is led by comrades from the Vaal. The group is functioning and has assisted with the formation of ABET groups in communities not yet part of the APF.
We have extended the Education rights work to communities that are not affiliated to the APF. An example of this is the assistance we provided the Merafong Community Development Forum with an education rights workshop in February 2005.
The Education committee has managed to function consistently over the past two years. A group of committed comrades including learners have been regularly attending the meetings. Over the last 6 months there has been a decline in the level of organising around education rights. This can partly be explained by the lack of resources both in the APF as well as with the supporting organisations like the Education Rights Project.
There needs to be an APF discussion on the role of the committee. If the committee continues to be the organising centre for learners then we need to relook at its role. A key issue for the committee is how to find resources to assist with the ongoing organising of learners in communities that are not part of the APF e.g. Merafong. In summary - we need an organising strategy for learners.
If the committee is to continue being an educational resource for the APF, then we need to develop a clearer educational plan for the APF and decide on the committees role in carrying out this plan.
As the committee we feel strongly that there needs to be some self-management as regards the APF budget allocated to the committee and that this will help with forward planning.
· Housing Committee
The Housing Committee has not been functioning consistently over the past 6 months. Initially the Committee met regularly, organised a workshop on housing, produced a pamphlet and organised solidarity between affiliates. The Committee has drew in the LPM into the housing issues and struggles. But this work came to a stand still because of the non-functioning of the Committee.
We must revive and rebuild this committee so that it can drive our housing struggles and issues. There are a of struggles that have emerged around housing and it is important that we strengthen solidarity between affiliates and with other struggles.
Since the last AGM we have lost two affiliates: that is Ikageng and Atteridgeville, Despite plans for follow-ups with these affiliates we have never managed to actually ascertain what were the reasons for their non-participation.
Presently we also do not have a comprehensive insight into the strengths and weaknesses of our affiliates. This is largely due to the fact that we did not carried through the taking of individual affiliate reports. Work was done with individual affiliates like Alex, Samancor, Thembelihle, Small Farm and DRD. But overally there was a lack of a comprehensive organising plan. One of the Office Bearers meetings resolved that in the coming period the work of the organiser must be informed and guided by an organisational organising plan.
This period saw a number of affiliates experiencing internal problems: * Alexandre: Wynberg and the two Marlboro structures wanted to move away from Vukuzenzele due to problems relating to leadership style and co-ordination. Mediation took place and it was agreed that the four structures in Alex must work towards one organisation, that there must be joint chairpersons meetings and that in the interim they will have a one common delegation to the APF as follows: the delegation of five to CC will consist of one person from each of the structures. * KCR: differences emerged within KCR and there were attempts to mediate but they failed. * Shoshanguve: differences emerged around the issue of the elections but it seems that they were resolved. *SECC: During the course of the period under review we witnessed that due to internal developments within the SECC, a section of the organisation breaking away and forming the Soweto Concerned Residents (SCR). There were attempts to mediate the problems between the SECC and SCR with the aim of unifying the two but this was not successful. The SCR has applied for affiliation to the APF and the last CC in January 2006 referred the matter to this AGM.
Approximately 12 other new community organisation have applied for affiliation to the APF and the new office bearers are meant to make follow-ups after this AGM.
The SMI was formed in 2002 at the height of the struggle against the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). Since then the SMI has operated as a loose network that seeks to bring together social movements for purposes of sharing experiences, information and to organize practical solidarity. Guided by these principles, the SMI has convened a number of national meetings which have brought together social movements and activists from across South Africa.
The Regions of the SMI: In KwaZulu Natal, Abahlali Basemjondolo from Durban has taken up campaigns and struggles around issues of land, housing and living conditions. The militant struggles of shackdwellers in Durban have been well publicized in the commercial and non-commercial press. Abahlali have called for local councilors who have failed to serve the people to resign. The People’s Social Movement in Durban has been vocal on the Palestinian question and issues of environment. The Pietermaritzburg Social Forum has taken up housing and social services struggles and has also received solidarity and support from the Durban comrades. Organisations from Durban agreed that there was a need for organisations in Durban to work together and build solidarity at a regional level.
The Western Cape has managed to work together as a regional solidarity bloc. A meeting was held under the banner of the SMI and most of the new initiatives took part in that SMI process. Actions such as rallies and marches had been done jointly in the Western Cape.
The Gauteng region held a regional solidarity meeting which looked at various struggles and issues in the region. While there had been cooperation around the Jubilee campaign against Barclays. Tthere was no regional programme bringing together the SMI affiliates.
The Free State saw a number of struggles around service delivery at local government. Comrades from the APF visited the region as a way of building struggles and local resistance. A meeting was held in Betlehem, which among other thing, examined possibilities of cooperation. Comrades have planned other follow up meetings. The church in Bethlehem has played a major role in coordinating struggles in that region.
In Mpumalanga the key issue that was contested by communities has been the border dispute. There have been attempts from SMI to bring together organizations in the province.
In Limpopo, the Batlabine Rural Development Trust has taken up water, electricity and rural development issues. There is a commitment to build a platform in the region.
A need for a national platform of unity in struggle The last SMI meeting felt that there was a need for a document or a platform which would emphasise unity at a national level. The SMI platform that formed the basis of the ant-WSSD campaign in 2002 captures most of the issues that are taken up by social movements. The platform was amended to include land, transport and struggles against HIV AIDS. It was also agreed that the platform would be translated to other African languages. The SMI was asked to release the platform before the local elections.
Repression In 2003 the SMI resolved to set up a legal defense fund whose objective was to form part of a broader response to repression. So far the fund has not been successful because those comrades who are employed have not all contributed to it (especially those form outside Gauteng!). It was agreed that regions and local organisations would canvass support for the fund from comrades employed in NGOs and workers in the communities.
National Action The meeting agreed that the 27th of February 2006 should be a national day of action highlighting the plight of communities in the context of local government elections The year 2006 marks 30 years since June 16 1976. It was also decided that the regions and organisations should focus on highlighting education issues on this day. Provinces/regions may work with students, parent and parent formations as part of a build up around the commemoration of 30 years since June 16 1976. The Human Rights Day (March 21) should also be used to highlight the link between basic services and human rights. Regions and organisations have to go back and plan the content and action for the human rights day. It was agreed that the next 2006 national meeting would take place in Durban. The Durban comrades would meet and discuss plans in this regard. If there are problems, the comrades would inform Mondli and the Johannesburg comrades.
Preliminary Assessement: Although ,we have been an active participant and contributor in SMI but the APF has not been able to effectively deal with the SMI matters. This has meant that we did not give proper to our delegates. Our struggles and work have also not been integrated into the SMI and vice versa. This is one area we need to improve. What is required at this stage is an assessment of what we want to achieve with the SMI and how we can assist in achieving the objectives of the SMI.
2.26. Jubilee Struggles
We have supported many of Jubilee campaigns like the marches to the representatives of the World Bank visiting South Africa. We also assisted Jubilee in solidifying the struggle on reparations against a rightwing attempt to destroy the reparation issue. More recently, we actively supported the struggle against the merger of ABSA and the British Barclays Bank, the latter was one of the financiers of the apartheid regime.
2.27. Coalition Against Water Privatisation
We are participating and providing political and administrative support to the Coalition Against Water Privatisation. The members of the Coalition meet every fortnight at the APF offices and discuss the struggles in Phiri, Orange Farm and other ereas with pre-paid water meters. One of important initiatives of the Coalition is the constitutional challenge to the government which is being finalized and will go to the court sometime this year.
However, there are some weaknesses in that some members of the Coalition are not as active as they should be and many APF affiliates do not attend the Coalition because they feel they don’t have a problem with water meters. The government has also managed to install the pre-paid meters in Phiri.
The constitutional court action must be part and parcel of a more broader mass struggle around water privatization. A programme of action leading up to and beyond the constitutional court action must be developed.
2.28. Labour Solidarity
We have given support to workers struggles over the period under review: coming to mind is the support for the one-day strike and marches of SAMWU during September 2004. We also participated in the COSATU action on job losses during June 2005 and August 2005.
We formed a trade union committee to spearhead our intervention in labour matters and organization but, after one initial meeting, the committee collapsed. The workshop on socialism and trade unions re-iterated the need to revive the committee. It is agreed that this must happen after the AGM.
2.29. Landless People’s Movement (LPM)
Over the years, despite initial difficulties, we have built a formidable alliance with the LPM. We joint the SACP land campaign largely to maintain the link with the LPM. We invited them to part of the Housing Committee to fashion a joint-housing campaign. However, during the latter part of 2005 the LPM experienced internal problems which also co-inciding with us focusing on our own internal matters, and with the result links and interaction with the LPM have largely disappeared. Attempts were made to invite them to our meetings to get their assessment of the SACP land campaign but these have not been successful. We must send a delegation to meet with the LPM to renew ourlinks and to assist where possible in the reviving of the LPM, if required.
2.30. Land Campaign
During the latter part of 2004 we decided to participate in the Red October Land Campaign of the South African Communist Party (SACP). This was largely done to strengthen our alliance with the Landless People’s Movement (LPM). Despite participating in the 6th October 2004 march in Pretoria and writing a formal letter to SACP indicating our preparedness to be part of the campaign, the SACP never responded to our endevours. This meant that we were never formally part of the campaign. Our attempts to get the LPM to draw up a balance sheet of the experience of participating in the SACP driven campaign was also not successful. We should however make our own assessment of this attempt at working with the SACP as there were differing perspectives on this initiative.
2.31. African Social Forum and World Social Forum
We participated in the African Social Forum and World Social Forum over the two years. Recently, we were part of the SMI delegation to Harare, Zimbabwe to attend the SASF which was being held there. We also took a position that the 2007 WSF must be held in Kenya. However, we have not always successfully build into our struggles and campaigns an international component. This is something that we need to rectify in the coming period.
STAFFING AND OFFICE MATTERS
2.32. Organiser and Administrator
During the course of 2005 the organization had to address a number of issues relating to the staff - that is the organizer and administrator. In the end the organization resolved the following:
* A disciplinary enquiry was held for cde Tebogo Mashota but due to the failure of the two office bearers charged with chairing the enquiry to complete the investigation, the organization agreed that justice delayed is justice denied; * That there must be a staff code of conduct and procedures; * That staff must sign an attendance register; * That staff must submit regular monthly reports;
Cde Trevor Ngwane resigned as organizer of the APF to take up the post of organizer within the SECC. Subsequently, the organization employed cde Slumko Radebe and he started from the 4th March 2006.
During the period under review cde Teboho went on maternity leave. The organization has still to implement many of the administrative systems agreed to like the e-mail/internet communication system to cut down on telephone cost, proper servicing of computer equipment, monitoring of the usage of the office and materials. THe office has not always work to its optimum in being a back-up and support for affiliate and regional work, something we must address in the coming period.
2.34. Monitoring and Evaluation
Towards the end of 2004 we undertook a major evaluation of the organisation which we used to develop the new funding proposal to War on Want/Comic Relief. We also had a two-day workshop on the monitoring and evaluation requirements of the new funding. We committed ourselves to use the monitoring and evaluation systems ( including the milestones) of War on Want not only to give reports to the funders but to see it as a useful political and organizational tool to evaluate our organisation. The office bearers are in the process of compiling the first six monthly monitoring and evaluation report for War on Want and we want it to be a collective process.
* We need to systematically draw up a balance sheet of the past two years and draw up the lessons and note our weaknesses. This AGM needs to point out and take the necessary corrective measures where they are lacking. * The limited capacity of the APF to initiate and anchor campaigns must be addressed. * The building of strong affiliates and the integration of this work of affiliate building into the APF is going to be an important component of our activities in the coming period. A comprehensive organizing plan is going to be crucial in this regard as well as the monitoring thereof. * The APF has to chart a clear political orientation that links up with the emerging community struggles. Integral to this is the strengthening of the SMI. * Importantly there is a need for the APF to develop an approach on how to deal with political differences within the organization. * The APF needs to continue attempting to build links with other sections of the working class - labour and students. * We have to set in place effective policies and administrative systems so that we have clear guidelines how to deal with the many requests and practices.