Kliptown/APF organising workshop
Friday 14 December 2007
Aims of the workshop
- Introduction of the Anti Privatisation Forum and the Kliptown Concern Residents
- It is to develop our own understanding of the socio-economic conditions that we are living under and to have a clear understanding of how politics influence development in Kliptown
- Understanding the neo-liberal shift in the African National Congress lead government and why it is serving the capitalist
- What is our role as community activist and what is our present role in building a mass movement and building an alternative to the ANC’s capitalist agenda.
- Understanding the balance of forces in our community and how we can build links or relations with other organizations’ in the community.
- Developing an understanding of how we can build a stronger resident’s movement in Kliptown
Programme Day one 09h00- 10h00 Tea and Introductions 10h00-10h30 Introduction about the APF and KCR 10h00-11h00 Plenary Question and discussion 11h00-11h30 Presentation on Globalisation 11h30-12h30 Group work on Questions about our won understanding of Globalisation 12h30-13h30 Report back 13h30-14h30 Lunch break 14h30-15h00 the land struggle (Housing struggle) in Kliptown and South Africa 15h00-16h00 Plenary discussions
09h00-10h00 Welcoming, processes watchers report 10h00-10h30 Recap 10h30-11h00 Group Work: Building accountable leadership in Kliptown 11h00-12h00 Report back 12h00-13h00 Our role in building a mass movement
KLIPTOWN & SURROUNDING AREAS UNITE AND FIGHT FOR HOUSES, WATER, SANITATION, ELECTRICITY, SCHOOLS, CLINICS, RECREATIONAL FACILITIES & JOB CREATION
We are the residents of Kliptown and surrounding areas. We are fighting for service delivery in our area. Our organisation is the Kliptown Concerned Residents. We are affiliated to the Anti-Privatisation Forum. We also work with other community and political organisations in the area. UNITED WE STAND!!
What we want in Kliptown are houses for all. We are sick and tired of living in shacks. The corrugated iron is cold in winter, it is hot in summer, when it rains it leaks and makes a loud noise. We have waited too long, we can’t wait anymore.
We want electricity. The electricity is there but we live in darkness. Paraffin is expensive and dangerous. Sometimes shacks burn down and innocent people die including children. Why? Who can stop these unnecessary deaths? We believe that by organising ourselves we can build the power to do stop these.
We demand water, toilets and bathrooms. We demand dignity in our lives. The apartheid bucket system is still with us in the New South Africa. The ANC government has failed us. There is little or no improvement in the quality of our life.
Schools must be built in Kliptown, Angola, Slovo, Racecourse, Ngubane, Charter square, Mandela square, Qoboza, Chicken farm, Tamatieflei, Winniecamp, Station and other areas. Our children have to take buses and taxis to attend faraway schools. As parents we cannot afford this transport money. We want proper schools, crèches, libraries and other educational facilities where we live. We want fully-equipped clinics.
Our youth need to keep themselves busy constructively and to recreate. The adults need such facilities too. We need community halls, youth centers, parks, playgrounds, soccer fields, cricket pitches, tennis courts, etc.
We need a government that organises educational and sports activities for young and old. We need jobs. Many people are unemployed. Those who work do not get a living wage. Most are casual workers with no job security. You can’t plan your life because you can lose your job anytime. To fight poverty the government must create permanent decent jobs at a living wage. Jobs for all!!
The ANC government does not listen unless you take action. That is why the Kliptown Concerned Residents together with other organisations organises mass meetings, protest marches and pickets. We are doing a petition for a vote of no confidence for the ANC ward councillors (Ward 17 and ward 19) in Kliptown as they have failed to deliver for the working class. It is clear to us as the residents that this is because of the government’s neo-liberal micro-policy that the ANC councillors are failing in their duties. The power is ours if we unite as the working class and the poor. Too many people are suffering. Enough is enough
JOIN THE STRUGGLE FOR A BETTER LIFE FOR ALL. Stop the rich getting richer and the poor poorer. Phansi ngohulumeni ka-ANC wongxowankulu. Phambili to a government of the working class and the poor
The Anti-Privatisation Forum
The Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) was established in July 2000 by activists and organisations involved in two key anti-privatisation struggles: the struggle against iGoli 2002 in Johannesburg, and the struggle against Wits 2001 at Wits University. Although some of the original affiliates are no longer with the APF, over the last seven years, the APF has grown to include over 20 community organisations as well as two political groupings. Outside of Gauteng (where the APF is predominately based), a new APF structure has been launched in Queenstown (Eastern Cape) and much work has also been done with communities in the Free State province. A separate and much smaller APF exists in Cape Town, which we work with closely. Representatives from organisations in cities spanning from Durban to Upington to East London have attended APF events in Johannesburg and the APF provides regular political and material solidarity with struggles of poor communities across the country. Additionally, the APF is an active internationalist organisation and we have contacts with many movements and activists in the Southern African region, the African continent and across the globe.
General Introduction The APF’s role is to unite struggles against privatisation in the workplace and community. It is open to any organisation or individual opposed to privatisation. The APF links workers’ struggles for a living wage and jobs with community struggles for housing, water, electricity and fair rates and taxes. The APF has successfully linked struggles in communities in townships across Gauteng and around South Africa. It provides a forum for communities and workers to share their experiences and to strategise collectively. Key issues that have been taken up by the APF include electricity cutoffs, water struggles - especially around pre-paid meters, evictions, housing & land issues, environmental degradation in poor communities, struggles of retrenched workers, access to decent & quality education, health-related struggles in poor communities, access to information and support for organised workers’ struggles for decent wages and against privatisation. The APF conducts both general educational and political workshops for all its members as well as more localised educational and campaigning workshops in communities. Many of these workshops focus on developing the capacity of comrades to critically analyse their situation, to understand the root causes of privatisation, to learn from the experiences of other communities, and to strategise and undertake collective action. The APF also produces an irregular newsletter - ’The Struggle Continues’, maintains this website, produces numerous research reports as well as panphlets and posters and engages with the mainstream media through written articles as well as appearances on both radio and TV shows and debates. Recently, the APF produced a CD of working class songs.
The organisational structure of the APF is as follows:
- Annual General Meeting (which is the highest decision0-making body of the APF). Terms of office for elected APF office bearers are for 2 years.
- Coordinating Committee - which meets quarterley (comprised of 5 representatives from each community affiliate, 3 representatives for political groupings, elected office bearers as well as coordinators of APF sub-committees. Individual activists can attend the CC but have no voting rights). The CC is the highest decision-making body in bewteen AGM’s.
- Executive Committee - which meets bi-monthly (comprised of 1 representative per community affiliate, elected office bearers as well as coordinators of APF sub-committees)
- Office Bearer’s - which meets weekly (comprised of all six office bearers elected at the AGM). Office Bearer’s consist of: Chairperson; Deputy Chairperson; Secretary; Deputy Secretary; Treasurer; Projects & Campaigns Coordinator)
- APF sub-committees - which meet occasionally but at least once a month. Presently, the APF has an Organising Forum (which also covers areas such as housing, legal, research and labour issues), a Media sub-committee and an Education sub-committee. *APF regions - which meet occasionally but at least once a month. Presently, the APF has three regions (Johannesburg, Vaal and East Rand), a branch in Queenstown (E.Cape) and several non-member affiliates in other pronvinces.
Our main demands:
- An end to all privatisation programmes and activities and the return of all privatised services and assets to the public sector, including outsourced and corporatised services.
- The immediate end and reversal of retrenchments that are the inevitable result of privatisation.
- An end to all evictions and the attachment of household goods. Any eviction that does take place as a result of an order of the court must be accompanied by provision of alternative accomodation.
- An end to all water and electricity cut-offs whether this be applied to individual households or any public institutions such as schools and clinics.
- The free supply of 50l of water per person per day alongside the outlawing of all pre-paid water meters. Additionally, the end to all bucket systems of sanitation and the provision of flush toilets to all households as well as public schools
- The free supply of a minimum amount of electricity needed for health, hygiene, cooking and heating as well as the outlawing of all pre-paid electricity meters.
- The introduction of a progressive block tariff system, ensuring free lifeline services cross-subsidised from the rich to the poor, from high-end users to low end users. Alongside this, the imposition of luxury taxes on consumption of basic services such as water and electricity
- The scrapping of all service and housing arrears of the poor. Addtionally, the provision of publicly-built and subsidised social housing units for all those residing in informal settlements/shacks as well as inner cities.
- The repudiation of the Apartheid debt and the use of public pension fund monies for public infrastructure projects in poor communities that would create sustainable jobs.
Political Comments on GEAR itself
GEAR’s understanding of how macro-economic policy would be pursued rested on two key and inter-related assumptions:
1. That there was no economic and political space (blamed on the “balance of forces”) for the construction of a uniquely redistributive South African political economy grounded in the creative political and economic will of the majority as broadly captured in the RDP;
2. That the political and economic will of capitalists, as represented by domestic and global corporate capital, would be better suited to South Africa’s stated desire (through the 1994 electoral victory and the RDP) for redistribution, job creation and growth.
Even though it should have been clear at the time, the pursuit of GEAR (through budgetary policies) since 1994 has allowed people to see that the ANC government has embraced a capitalist political economy, and it has done so without apology.
Behind all the nice sounding phrases contained in GEAR it’s thrust is simple - it seeks to ‘deliver’ the goods to all class forces in our society through adhering to the ‘rules’ of the capitalist ‘market’. It has miserably failed:
If we take a closer look at GEAR’s policy assumptions, it is clear what its further implementation will ‘deliver’:
- GEAR’s fiscal policy, in accepting the existing structures of production and ownership, privileges those in possession of economic resources and therefore necessarily seeks "deficit reduction" through manipulating existing budgetary "constraints" (Meaning: tax breaks and holidays for the capitalists and "tightening of the belt" for workers and poor)
- tight monetary policy (maintaining high real interest rates to keep inflation in check) will constrain general domestic investment and allow capital to pass on "secondary" costs to consumers (Meaning: private capital can "play" the financial markets to maintain profit margins with no real incentive to "invest" in the needs of the majority)
- the assumption that "liberalisation" of financial and exchange controls will create private sector investment not only narrows the range of instruments available to government but encourges short-term speculative "quickie" investment (Meaning: industrial development becomes contingent on foreign investment which can effectively hold the government to ransom)
- the proposed "regulated flexibility" in the labour market not only deals a severe blow to union demands for a comprehensive, legislated, centralised bargaining, but opens the door to absolute flexibility and increased exploitation (Meaning: the working class must accept a social accord which is hinged on lower wages and "flexible" working conditions, while the wages of middle and upper income earners - not to mention capital’s profits - increase at disproportionate levels)
- by prioritising an export-led growth strategy, tied to further trade "liberalisation" of trade, any new employment will be predominately capital-intensive and domestic industry will be unable to compete with cheap imports, encouraging a process of deindustrialisation and spurring a general crisis of domestic production and employment (Meaning: increased unemployment for the workers and poor coupled to an increasing dependency on the agenda of global capital)
- infrastructure expenditure is umbilically tied to privatisation revenues, loans from multilateral institutions and the restructuring (i.e. tightening) of fiscal expenditures,. This makes infrastructural development dependent on the mood of the market and hoped-for trickle down from capitalist investment (Meaning: capital gets the people’s silverware at bargain prices while the "people" must hope for some of the scraps to fall from the market meal)
In other words, GEAR firmly embraces a deracialised and mildly reformed capitalism as the foundation for South Africa’s socio-economic development and locates the engine for such development outside of the very people it claims to be benefitting. Worse, it presents itself as the only ‘feasible’ socio-economic programme for SA and thus seeks to dismiss any possible ‘alternative’.
We must also ask ourselves some serious strategic questions around those things which have informed the Left’s engagement in the South African transition.
These questions would include:
- what is the present class character of the leading elements within the national democratic revolution and how does this then intersect strategically with the role and character of the left within a broad-based Alliance?
- how does a commitment to a fundamental restructuring of production (i.e. the issue of ownership and control of the means of production) begin to be realised if the question of property - as addressed by a macro-economic strategy that further institutionalises overall capitalist ownership - is accepted?
- through what means can the ’people’ (the workers and the poor) be ’owners’ of the South African state, and thus of policy formulation emanating from that state, while the accepted political and socio-economic framework serves to recreate the very conditions of people’s social life (i.e. their exploitation and alienation)?
No matter how unfair and unequal the times may seem, the struggle for an alternative political economy must not devolve into attempts to co-manage capitalist production and the redirection of its social surplus to the people in a search for some utopian middle ground. A reformed capitalism (i.e., social democracy) is simply not feasible nor sustainable (for the workers and the poor) in South Africa.
BOURGEOIS DEMOCRACY IN SOUTH AFRICA We live in a democratic South Africa but it is a bourgeois or liberal democracy, where the most basic right is the right to own private property. In other words, this is capitalist democracy. This means that anyone who has enough money can buy - and keep - important resources like land, factories, water, media or banks. In bourgeois democracies rights are written in constitutions and laws, but very little is done to. In capitalist or bourgeois democracies there are many rights and laws for citizens, but many citizens cannot exercise these rights because they do not have money. For example, although citizens have the right to housing, information or healthcare or education, many have to live go without these basic needs. Everybody may have the same rights, but they clearly do not have the same means or same opportunities, and it cannot be said therefore that everyone is equal. In the end, the laws of bourgeois democracies are there to protect the people and classes who own the wealth of the country.
WHAT IS AS AN ALTERNATIVE 2 CAPITALISM? The Anti Privatisation forum believes that we have to fight to live in a socialist democracy, where, democracy only begins when the right to equality exists and the wealth or riches of a country are owned by all citizens, not just by a few individuals. On a smaller scale, real democracy exists when workers run and collectively own a company or enterprise. In a socialist democracy, there are no laws to protect different classes, but rather the opposite: classes should seize to exist. Not only creating laws as protection for its citizens, socialist democracy is there to ensure that everybody has the means to obtain or realise these rights. Quality education, land, media, information, health care and transport will be accessible to all citizens, not only to those who can afford to pay for it. According to our socialist view of democracy, there is no real democracy if all people do not have the same life chances and the same ability to influence decisions in practice.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE BY THE COMMUNITY OF SOWETO AND KLIPTOWN?
The APF is committed in building an alternative power where we want the poor and the working class to fight to defend, extend and realise democratic rights in their communities by forming organisations such as trade unions, women’s organisations, youth clubs, land groups, media movements, education and healthcare movements.
POWER BELONGS TO THE WORKING CLASS NOT THE ACTIVISTS Why we should respect the working class even when it seems defeated
Respect for the working class, for ordinary workers, is very important during this period when the capitalists and their middle class lackeys are so confident of their power and the workers seem to have lost their confidence in their in their own power to change society for the better. Some activists start to think that they - and not the masses - will make the revolution.
These days with the South African bosses and upper middle classes, black and white, driving their BMWs and Pajeros, and in control of the army and police, in control of our schools, clinics and factories, it is very easy for us to forget that the power lies with the masses. Many people, especially the youth, have forgotten how strong the organised working class can be. It is the working class which forced the capitalists to end apartheid and give the people one-person-one-vote. It is the working class which fought and won the right to strike. All the rights in the constitution which favour ordinary people are there because of the struggle of the working class. But if you look around today it is very easy to forget this.
COSATU leaders have allowed themselves to be used to undermine the struggle of the working class. They help to tie the hands of workers with the politics of class collaboration which says the ANC government is correct and there is no need to struggle. The ideas of the bosses are spreading through the mouths of the black middle class and bourgeoisie which is suddenly rich beyond its imagination. Listen to the radio talkshows, read the newspaper, watch TV. The journalists tell us how stupid the masses are and how clever the rich and the educated are and what good they are doing for the country. They tell how the masses were liberated by Mandela and other ANC struggle heroes. The workers’ movement has been reduced to a spectator as the bosses and their lackeys run the country’s economy and the state. The middle class and the bosses face no challenge as they willy nilly implement neo-liberal policies which make the rich richer and the poor poorer. The result is that sectins of the masses have lost all confidence in themselves, in their power and in their ideas. Everyday the masses are told how stupid they are, how sinful they are, how lazy they are, how ungrateful they are to their liberators, how un-entrepreneurial they are, etc. The ideas of socialism and the leading role of the working class in society are openly laughed at.
The activists of the SECC and of the APF and other social movements are organising in this situation where the masses have lost confidence in themselves. Some of these activists themselves start to lose confidence in the power of the masses. They can only see what is there on top but not what is hidden beneath, they can see what is present but not what is buried in the past, they can see with their eyes but not with the eyes of history. Then they too begin to say the masses are weak, useless and cannot change history.
They start to agree with the bosses and with demoralised workers that power is everywhere but not with ordinary people. These activists start to believe in their own power as activists and militants. They start to do things for the masses and not with and through the masses. They start to think that they can do things which should be done by the masses. They start to think that it is their struggle and that they are responsible for its success and not the masses. They start to think that they the activists know politics and the masses know nothing. Then they think they are the heroes and the masses are not. They think they are brave and the masses are the cowards. They say they are the ones facing the police and getting arrested and the masses are doing nothing. In short, the activists of the SECC and of APF and of other movements start to substitute themselves for the masses.
This is very very very wrong. This is the thinking we must fight and get rid of in the SECC and the APF in 2005. To fight a disease the doctor must first diagnose it. This is the disease of “ultra-leftism” and “substitutionism”. Its symptoms are when the activists want to do for the masses what the masses must do for themselves. Activists do things without the masses in the name of the masses. This usually means doing things ourselves today which the masses must and will do tomorrow. This disease is based on a lack of respect for the working class and for ordinary people. It leads to impatience and opportunism. It leads to dangerous shortcuts and adventurism. It leads to self-glorification and unnecessary martyrdom. Activists with this disease go around thinking they know politics more than the masses. Eventually it leads to frustration and violence where activists get so impatient that they start to think of using terrorism rather than mass methods of struggle. We have to fight this disease and get rid of it completely from within our ranks.
STEPS TO FIGHT THE DISEASE OF SUBSTITUTIONISM AND ULTRA-LEFTISM
1. Respect for the working class We cannot have confidence in the power of the working class unless we know that it is the working class which has power. The workers are the people who produce the wealth of the country and the world with their own hands. The unemployed mother is the one cooking for the husband or son or daughter who produces the wealth of the country. The gogo (granny) is the one who gave birth to the worker in the first place! The capitalist system is based on the exploitation of the working class. It is only when the workers rise up and refuse to make profits for the capitalists in an organised way that we will be able to stop the world’s injustices. Only organised workers can wage a challenge and win decisively and permanently against the capitalists. We must know this and never forget it. It is only when we know this that we can respect the working class and have confidence in ordinary workers, employed and unemployed, even if at the present moment they are not leading the struggle because they have forgotten their own power.
2. Build the confidence of the ordinary worker, employed and unemployed It is very easy for workers and the masses to lose confidence in their own power when their leaders and the organisations they trust turn against them and join the bosses. Workers start to believe the lies that they are not important, that they know little or nothing, that they are nothing. Just imagine how weak and powerless you can feel if you are unemployed or a casual worker in a materialist world where money is said to be everything. Our job as activists is not to believe the lie that workers are nothing. Our job as activists is not to take advantage of the weak working class, take control of their struggle, take centre stage and get jobs and fly around the world in their name. Our job is to help the working class regain its confidence. We must find ways to help workers remember their own power. This won’t be easy and it won’t happen in one day. Remember the bosses and the middle class are everyday telling the workers the opposite. We must tell workers that: “You are not the people they say you are. You are not the people you think you are. You are the working class, you have the power to change things. Yinina abantu (you are the people who count)”
3. Challenge the masses to take control of their lives and their struggle We have to challenge the masses to take control of their struggle and their lives. When it is time to elect a treasurer in the SECC we must not take advantage of the lack of confidence of ordinary members who always say “I know nothing about money”. We must show them how they are able to run their families on pensions, how they budget and balance their little money. We must show them how they are already doing the job of treasurer in their own daily lives. If they can do it in their families, in their stokvels, they can do it in the SECC. We must also challenge the negative ideas of workers where they are able to find money to give to the church but cannot find money to give to their organisations of struggle. We must not agree that workers come late to their meeting when they are always on time at work and in the church. We must show workers a mirror of themselves where they can see how strong they already are in their lives, surviving and coping under capitalism. We must then tell them to build on this strength and use it to fight for socialism, a system where they can be truly themselves, slaves to no one and in full control of the wealth they produce with their own hands. The power belongs to ordinary employed and unemployed workers and the job of the activists is to help workers recognise this power, build their confidence and use their power to overthrow the capitalist system, the system which causes so much pain and suffering because it puts profit before the people.
OUR JOB IS TO STRENGTHEN THE MASSES IN STRUGGLE NOT TO DO THINGS FOR THEM. WE MUST BUILD PATIENTLY AND SLOWLY UNTIL THE MASSES REGAIN THEIR STRENGTH AND CONFIDENCE.
Basic qualities of an organiser 1. What should an organiser in a mass movement look like? For an organization to grow it is important to have an organizer. Many activists in most organizations tend to “campaign” for “higher” positions when organizations are formed or committees elected. Maybe there are various reasons for this but the common one, in my opinion, is that the portfolio of an organizer is ranked as an inferior one because one has to go here and there, do this and that, etc. But the fact is that without an organizer a mass based organization cannot grow. 2. Being an organizer is a challenge and there are certain qualities fundamental to that. Some of these qualities are the following: 3. Right attitude for organizing work. Skills are also important although these could be developed as time goes on through training. 4. Irreverence, this is an important quality. It means that people’s interests are not compromised but are always pursued irrespective of the social obstacles blocking the people’s way. No person, authority or institution is so important or respected that it cannot be challenged or even rejected when it denies service to the people. It is important for an organizer to pass on this quality to the oppressed masses too. This can assist with dealing with not only external oppression but also oppression that might develop inside the people’s organizations. 5. Strategy. An organizer must have an overall strategy for organizing. This must be related to getting the people being organized to know exactly what they want, how they will fight for it. It is important to forge links with other people or organizations with the same problem. 6. An organizer must be active and principled in agitating, persuading, arguing, suggesting, challenging, analyzing, planning, etc. He or she must also develop and provide information and knowledge and share this with the masses. 7. The organizer must be democratic in practice. He or she must make sure that the people themselves collectively make all the decisions with regard to organizational issues. The organizer must act like a catalyst rather than a manipulator. 8. Discipline. The organizer must act according to agreements and decisions made. Internal discipline is the best form of discipline so that no one has to supervise you. But the organization must develop mechanisms for members to control their affairs including the work of the organizer. 9. Respect for the working class and ordinary people. This is very important. Organizers must not be fascinated with leaders but must pay attention to the needs and wishes of the rank and file. This also means never taking advantage of the people or their organization in any way e.g. abuse of organizational resources, accepting favours for “helping” the people, etc. 10. Love. The organizer must have love for the people, for the working class. Paradoxically this means that the organizer must at times challenge rather than shelter members. 11. There is a difference between a new organizer who has just started to organize and one who is experienced. “Beginners” will tend to start with concrete issues which are very important to the people and directly affect their lives. But as time goes by they might realize that the issues are more complex and intertwined. Then they will develop a broader theory, strategy and vision to guide their work. They will soon learn to communicate this to those in struggle. 12. Lastly, the organizer must be a class fighter. In the APF we say we draw the class line between the capitalists and the workers, the exploiter and exploited, the oppressor and the oppressed. At all times the organizer must view issues and act on them firmly and uncompromisingly on the side of the masses. This means starting all struggles and analysis from the needs of the working class.