Organisational report of the APF for the year 2003
Friday 10 September 2004 by Trevor
This is a report of work done in the APF in the year 2003. It looks at the achievements and failures, strengths and weaknesses. It should be noted that this does not cover all the work done in and by individual affiliates or even the APF regions. The report concentrates on activities done at the level of the APF as a whole. To grow we need to periodically assess our work, this is what this report does.
THE ANTI-PRIVATISATION FORUM
THE ANTI-PRIVATISATION FORUM
EVALUATION OF WORK DONE IN 2002
TABLE OF CONTENTS
i. How this report was written ii. Glossary of acronyms
1. Introduction 2. Political and historical context of the work of the APF 3. Work done by the APF in 2003 3.1 Timeline of APF wide activities in 2003 3.2 Assessment of APF major activities 3.3 3.3 Work done by APF affiliates 4. 3.4 Relationship of APF work to that of its affiliates 4. Assessment of APF structures 4.1 APF council 4.2 Co-ordinating committee 4.3 Regional solidarity committees 4.5 Executive committee 4.6 Office bearers 4.7 Staff 4.8 Committees 5. Finances and administration 5.1 Finances 5.2 Office administration 6. Challenges ahead 7. Conclusion
FINANCIAL REPORT FOR THE ANTI-PRIVATISATION FORUM FROM APRIL 2003 TO MARCH 2004
HOW THIS REPORT WAS WRITTEN
This report is based on the discussions that took place in a special 3-day workshop that was convened to assess the work of the APF. The workshop took place on 6 to 8 December 2003. All the main components of the APF were represented at the workshop. The workshop discussions were characterized by openness, maximum participation and a healthy spirit of self-criticism. The workshop minutes were tabled at the Co-ordinating Committee meeting of 25 January 2004 and adopted by the organization as an acceptable record of the discussion. The minutes of the workshop were later used as a basis for writing the secretariat report that was tabled at our Annual General Meeting held on 14 and 15 February. Some of the conclusions and recommendations contained here are based on some of the discussions and resolutions from the AGM. The process of writing the report involved consulting the documents referred to here. The APF Office Bearers approved sending off the report on 10 June 2004. This report is largely a result of internal APF organizational processes and reflects the major components of the APF’s thinking in the evaluation of the work done in 2003.
The APF has recently appointed an external evaluator to conduct a comprehensive evaluation which will cover assessing both internal organizational and external environmental factors. The independent evaluator will also look at the impact of the APF’s work in society. The report of this evaluation will be submitted to War on Want as soon as it is ready.
ii. GLOSSARY OF ACRONYMS
ANC African National Congress APF Anti-Privatisation Forum AWC Anti-War Coalition COSATU Congress of South African Trade Unions GEAR Growth, Employment and Redistribution macro-economic programme GDS Growth and Development Summit KCR Kathorus Concerned Residents Association (APF affiliate) RDP Reconstruction and Development Programme SACP South African Communist Party SECC Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee (APF affiliate) SAMWU South African Municipal Workers Union SMI Social Movements Indaba
THE ANTI-PRIVATISATION FORUM APF report to WoW 1. Introduction
Aluta continua! The struggle continues in the world, in South Africa and in the APF. In the year 2003 the APF continued with its fight against neo-liberal economic policies and its ravages on the working class and the poor. This was a good year for the APF in that significant gains were made in its work around its 4 campaign areas, namely, water, electricity, housing and education. Also, the APF supported some important worker struggles thus maintaining its orientation to organised labour despite the problems which make co-operation between progressive social movements and trade unions difficult in South Africa. Some important advances were made in the struggle against water privatisation when the APF helped initiate a strong campaign against the installation of pre-paid water meters in Phiri, Soweto. This campaign was supported by other social movements, institutions and individuals locally and internationally and led to the formation of the Coalition Against Water Privatisation, a body is set to be at the forefront of the struggle for basic services for all in South Africa in the coming period. 2003 was also a year of creativity with cultural expression flowering in the APF; theatre, poetry and music were put to good use in raising public awareness around the APF’s campaign issues and enjoyed for itself as a form of human social intercourse. The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the commemoration of the June 16, 1976 student uprising where the APF organised a march along the same route followed by the students in 1976 culminating in a dramatic re-enactment of this historical event. The APF put a lot of effort in building the Social Movements Indaba, a body set up to unite South Africa’s social movements, and was rewarded by the development of a greater spirit of sharing and mutual support among the social movements.
This report covers, inter alia, some of the highlights mentioned above; it is a succinct political overview for assessment purposes and does not always go into great detail on the issues raised. This is because the assessment is based on one workshop which represents a still shot of the APF’s collective opinion of itself, opinions which undoubtedly are very fluid and subject to change. The report cannot hope to faithfully capture the depth and complexity of the thinking and workings of a social movement such as the APF. It is enough to state that the views expressed in the report are, generally, collective and emanate from the main components of the APF in discussion with each other [Please see “How this report was written” above]. The report aspires to furnish our funders with a good idea of how their generous financial support has been used and has impacted on the work of the APF. We are most grateful to receive this assistance and the report will illustrate the importance of this support in the work of the APF.
2. Political and historical context of the work of the APF
South Africa and the world’s governments are increasingly and relentlessly moving in a neo-liberal direction. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The elites of the world, politicians and bureaucrats alike, are learning the trick of using the language of people-centred development while undermining this in practice. Reports by neo-liberal agencies such as the World Bank and the IMF are full of progressive sounding phrases and genuflections to the issues which concern the social and economic justice movements but in practice neo-liberal attacks on the world’s working classes and the poor continue unabated and, in fact, intensify their severity. It is the same in South Africa where all the statistical indicators show that the socio-economic condition of the majority of people is getting worse by the day and that poverty is now specifically afflicting the most vulnerable sectors of our society, namely, working class blacks, women, rural folk and children. The government of the ANC shows no sign of moving away from its disastrous neo-liberal policies and, instead, moves and adapts its policies in line with the world’s elites and their interests and has become adept in the use of the propaganda and manipulation of state functions to hide the true nature and impact of its policies. It is also increasingly resorting to the use of repression in stamping out and marginalising voices of dissent.
It is not too difficult for the ANC government to influence and mislead public opinion given its anti-apartheid struggle credentials and its great store of political capital in the person of Nelson Mandela and other struggle luminaries in South Africa. More important is the ANC’s virtual control of the trade union, civic and communist leaderships through the ANC-SACP-COSATU-SANCO alliance. In 2003 this was put to good use when in March the government called a Growth and Development Summit attended by big business and labour - a meeting whose ideological foundation is the fabled “golden triangle” (marriage) of government, labour and capital - where all these parties more or less agreed that the neo-liberal economic path is the right one for South Africa. Besides a few inconsequential sops to labour this meeting achieved nothing for the working class and the poor. Instead, it immensely benefited the elites of the country and was used as one of the main components of the ANC’s election platform for the national elections which later took place on April 14, 2004. But if you read the stories in the press and watched the mainly government controlled TV stations you would have thought that a great step had been taken in the fight against unemployment, now standing above 40%, poverty which afflicts 22 million of South Africa’s +/- 40 million people, and HIV/AIDS, which kills close to 1 000 South Africans per day.
The government is on principle hostile to social movements such as the APF, the Landless People’s Movement, Jubilee South Africa, Anti-Eviction Campaign, eThekwini Social Forum and the Environmental Justice Network Forum, to mention some of those who are part of the Social Movements Indaba, a coalition which unites them. Despite the Treatment Action Campaign’s pro-ANC stance and its close relationship to COSATU, it too does not escape the wrath and invective of the government. In 2003 a significant amount of resources was spent by the government in its attempt to undermine and marginalise these organisations. Some of the government tactics include spreading rumours and innuendos about the social movements, for example, the TAC was said to be funded by the CIA in addition to the funds it receives from the pharmaceutical companies. The LPM was said to be forming armed groups to kill and occupy the (“white”) farms. There has also been increased activity of the National Intelligence Agency with clear evidence of surveillance of members and meetings of the social movements, intimidation of individual activists and the attempt to infiltrate and get comrades to inform on their organisations. Marches and demonstrations are regularly “banned” and many of us in the movements have seen the inside of Mbeki’s overcrowded and filthy jails.
The government has not succeeded to suppress the voice of the social movements. In 2003 their voice reverberated throughout South Africa like the voice of the prophets; it is no exaggeration that they were sometimes treated by the mass media and communities as the conscience of the nation. Increasingly, the APF and other social movements were taking centre stage in all public discussions of social and economic issues convened by NGOs, academic institutions and the press. Since 2003 was the year of preparing for the 2004 elections the social movements found themselves being courted by political parties wishing to steal some of the movements’ thunder in order to bolster their weak electoral challenge to the ANC. The TAC, in particular, won some significant victories in their struggle for drug treatment for HIV/AIDS with the government forced to announce a programme to provide these. This served to vindicate the methods and causes espoused by the different social movements. International support and publicity for the work of the social movements also ensured that the local elites could not ignore the challenge from this sector.
On February 15, 2003 the APF and other social movements were part of the Anti-War Coalition and participated in the world-wide demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq. This important event united the struggles here directly with those taking place in the rest of the world. This gave immense prestige and publicity to the social movements locally and the government was left no choice but to add its voice against Bush’s war. This did not stop George W Bush paying Mbeki a visit in July where he anointed the South African president his “point man” in Africa. The Anti-War Coalition, whose main support base is provided by the APF in Johannesburg, gave Bush a fitting reception protesting and demonstrating outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria. The significance of these events was that they focused the public mind on the role of USA imperialism in global geo-politics and allowed the APF and other movements to show the link between war and the neo-liberal onslaught on the people. The APF expended a substantial portion of human and material resources to supporting the anti-war campaign including participating in a month-long 24 hour picket at the USA consulate in Johannesburg.
Organised labour in South Africa continued to be weighed down by the politics of class collaboration of its leadership. The ANC-SACP-COSATU alliance ensured that attacks on workers failed to elicit an appropriate response in strike action and other forms of protest. However, the few strikes which took place in 2003 indicate the huge problems and reversals facing labour and the fact that given the right leadership workers are willing to struggle. In February there was a month-long strike by Metro (city council) bus drivers fighting for wage increases and opposed to unfavourable changes in the shift system. The plight of these workers emanates from privatisation and commercialisation of the city’s bus service and other municipal services. The APF supported this strike and won the respect of the workers for this and, unexpectedly, eliciting (forcing?) a public thank you from the SAMWU union leadership. But COSATU failed to give any significant support to its affiliate on strike; indeed, even within SAMWU very little was done to get other workers to support this strike. It is the grit and desperation of these isolated workers which saw the strike last so long and in the end finish in a stalemate. The same workers were probably called to attend the May Day celebrations which saw the 3 main union federations in the country share a platform with President Mbeki in a rally sponsored by the same government which retrenches and outsources workers. In September the COSATU national congress, instead of addressing the problems faced by workers under attack from trade liberalisation, labour flexibility and other neo-liberal attacks, was turned into an ANC election rally with most of the time spent listening to and serenading top ANC leaders including the president. This did not stop the workers of the food supermarket chain Checkers Shoprite going on strike for a month in October, a strike which was a first in that it was led by casual workers supported by permanent workers. The APF again came out in support and earned the respect of the strikers by effectively mobilising community support for these workers many of whom earned less than R300 a month. The workers won their strike and conveyed their thanks to the APF for the support.
It is important to note that despite the valiant and dramatic efforts of South Africa’s social movements they are still very much in the minority. They have not as yet won the millions and millions who are suffering under the neo-liberal post-apartheid regime. The visibility and prominence they enjoy in the South African body politic is exactly because so little is being done in defence of the working class by the traditional mass organisations of the working class such as COSATU, SANCO, SACP, ANC and others. Their ability to become a real force which can change things for the better by interfering with the agenda of the country’s and the world’s elites is also limited by the fragmented nature of their respective struggles. They seem to mostly fight in isolation to each other and on single issues. Some of them have even made a principle of this approach to struggle. In South Africa the year 2003 saw some movements losing ground and weakened by political and sectional differences. The APF’s consistent and sustained attempt to unite the social movements should be understood against this background. It seems as if it dawned upon some of the movements in 2003, given the challenges they faced, in particular, state repression, that they greatly needed unity with each other. This is one explanation of the rejuvenation of the SMI and why the APF’s persistent efforts at unity suddenly seemed to pay off.
3. Work done by the APF work in 2003
The work of the APF in 2003 consisted, as is to be expected of the APF being a campaign against privatisation, mainly of campaign activities which broadly took the following forms:
· Mass activities (actions): marches, pickets, demonstrations · Raising public awareness and influencing public opinion: media statements, interviews, submissions, cultural expression · Building organisation: meetings, education, solidarity activities
This work found a focus in the 4 campaign areas which the APF identified and adopted earlier in the year in its workshop on campaigns, namely: water, electricity, housing and education. We should add to this the APF’s work with workers, in particular, support for the struggles of organised labour. To give a coherent picture of the thrust of the APF’s activities in 2003 it is better to present these in chronological (timeline) form. It is important to note that these are “APF wide” activities, that is, they involved every component of the APF, everyone attended or contributed somehow to their success. This is distinct from activities conducted by individual affiliates or committees of the APF.
3.1 Timeline of APF wide activities in 2003
JANUARY · Campaigns workshop: identifies the 4 campaign areas, viz. water, electricity, housing and housing. Later work with labour added.· APF delegates attend the African Social Forum and the World Social Forum FEBRUARY · Social Movements Indaba meeting · Anti-war Coalition march on February 15· Support for the Metro bus strike · Formation of regional committees of the APF MARCH · Continuation of antiwar activities: pickets, meetings· Workshop preparing for Growth and Development Summit· Regional marches and rallies on Human Rights Day March 21 in Soweto, the Vaal and East Rand. APRIL · AWC picket at USA consulate· APF attends COSATU regional shop steward council MAY · May Day rally at the Johannesburg city hall· Women’s Workshop· March to CEPPWAWU in support of union democracy· Regional education workshop to prepare for June 16 JUNE · June 16 march and re-enactment· Demonstration against Growth and Development Summit with LPM· Housing workshop in the East Rand JULY · Protests and march against Bush’s visit· Khanya College winter school for Southern African activists AUGUST · Media workshop· Public meeting on education at the city hall· Public workshop on trade unions· Solidarity actions with LPM and NLC against repression · Pre-paid water meter struggles erupts in Phiri, Soweto (formation of Coalition against Water Privatisation)· Workshop on GATS SEPTEMBER · Pamphletting at the COSATU national congress· Reparations conference· Formation of trade union committee· Research committee formed OCTOBER · Elections workshop· Soweto Water Warriors court cases · Support for Checkers Shoprite strike· Workshop on research NOVEMBER · Support for Shoprite strike continues· Water court cases continue DECEMBER · Constitutional and assessment workshop
3.2 3.2 Assessment of APF major activities
The assessment workshop identified and assessed 7 major APF-wide activities in 2003 the following manner:
1. Anti-war activities
Participation of the APF in the Anti-War Coalition (AWC) allowed it to build links with other progressive organizations in the country. It helped the APF to develop a voice in areas broader than the working class bread and butter issues it addresses everyday. Inside the APF the participation in the AWC sparked debate on alliances and united fronts (with who, on what basis, on which issues). The APF helped to expose the ANC government on issues of war and compelled other organizations like the SACP and COSATU to develop views and position on the war. The outcome of our participation in the AWC was to increase our legitimacy and prestige despite the ANC’s stubborn refusal to recognize the APF’s role.
It was noted that APF comrades have increased their awareness on the significance of the Palestinian struggle. It was also noted that broader layers of the Palestine Solidarity Committee and, generally, the “Muslim community”, have not taken up issues around privatization. The workshop emphasized that our solidarity for the Palestinian struggle and other struggles is totally unconditional. The APF needs to be patient and try and win over other organizations to its point of view over time. The struggles around Palestinian and Iraqi people are also our struggles and should be supported and approached as such.
A concern was raised that large numbers of affiliates did not know the decisions (and processes) taken by the APF on their behalf in these solidarity actions. Discussion seemed to remain largely at the executive level and not among the APF rank and file membership. In such a context the use of organizational resources might raise questions of democratic control and accountability. Affiliates need to be involved in decision making on a consistent basis, otherwise there will be no organic integration of central APF activities with the activities and concerns of its affiliates. We also need to examine the relationship of the APF and COSATU in the AWC more generally and involve the APF membership in the assessment.
2. Growth and Development Summit
The APF’s aim in taking up the matter of the Growth and Development Summit (GDS) was to link community struggles around basic services to the government’s policies such as privatization, GEAR and capitalism. The APF also tried to expose the government’s and the bosses’ trick of using the GDS to give the impression that we are all responsible for poverty in South Africa. The workshop assessed that these aims were attained. The demonstration was held together with the LPM. The plan to have it together with the TAC failed when the TAC unexpectedly held its demonstration very early in the day. The house assessed that it was a pity that the APF had, due to financial considerations, sent a smaller contingent to the protest.
The APF had an internal discussion and debate prior to its participation in the GDS where the question of fighting inside or outside the GDS was resolved. There was a problem in that the APF did not adequately follow up on the outcomes of the GDS. This shortcoming allowed ANC, business and COSATU leaders to proclaim the GDS a victory, with the latter claiming a victory for the working class without being challenged on this dubious claim.
3. May Day rally
The APF held a big rally at the Johannesburg city hall which was judged to have been a success. It gave an indication of the expansion and growth of the APF in communities. Unfortunately large sectors of the labour movement were not involved in this APF event given the fact that COSATU and the 2 other union federations held a joint labour-government rally downtown. This was a thorny point in the assessment because the background to the APF May Day rally was a robust debate where, for the first time in its history, the matter was put to the vote and resolved thus. The debate was about whether it was correct to have our own APF rally and leave the majority of organized workers to the labour-government rally. Putting the matter to the vote was assessed by the workshop as a sign of maturity and growth in political clarity and tactics in the class struggle. It also indicated a crystallization of opinion in the APF and points possible future lines of fission in the politics of the organization. It was concluded that broader questions of how to connect with the wider working class, in particular organized labour, still require further discussion in the APF. We need more events like this one to consolidate our mass base but tactically it would be wiser to use a different day for this.
4. Education Campaign
One of the most successful campaigns that we undertook was the struggle for free education. We helped expose problems in education and managed to put the responsibility for the failure of the education system on the lap of the ANC government. The campaign for free, public and quality education for all was multi-faceted and co-ordinated by the APF’s Education committee. Different kinds of activities were undertaken in schools, with students, teachers, principals and parents. Numerous public meetings in communities, and one at the city hall, were held. The APF developed a productive partnership with the Education Rights Project (ERP), a programme based at the Wits University’s Education Policy Unit. The ERP helped the APF and its affiliates with training, direction and resources. As a consequence in some areas, such as in the Vaal, some APF affiliates have developed strong ties with the youth and students who are now participating in APF structures and also forming youth and student committees. A youth camp to build leadership amongst the youth and students that was nationally organized by the ERP was another achievement in the struggle for education. The voices of the social movements and others on these issues left the ANC government no choice but to respond through a public policy review process. The report by the government on education was responded to by the APF and a submission made to the education authorities. In Mandelaville DRD, a community affiliated to the APF, the state offered the community a student bus service under pressure from the local education campaign. Some APF affiliates have integrated their work with schools fighting for access for working class students part of their daily work e.g. the Thembelihle Crisis Committee.
The assessment workshop agreed that the APF needs to study what made the education campaign a success and learn from this. The availability of resources, direct support of affiliates in their work, the existence of an organizing center in the form of the education committee, the use of various methods (triangulation), maximum use of education combined with organization, are but some of the factors which contributed to making the campaign a success. It was agreed that there will always be critical points and room for improvement no matter how successful we can be. It was critically noted that the campaign needs to sort out its relationship to the ERP to clarify political responsibility for decision-making and overall direction. The workshop noted the existence of a perception that there seems to be an overemphasis on fighting for exemptions (from school fees) and rights as spelled out in the legislation rather than a radical approach which draws the class line and challenges the right of the political and economic elite to dictate the input, process and outcomes of the education system. It was also noted that there are many issues that the education campaign did not take up around access, such as problems in the suburban private schools where fees are prohibitively high and the education is not always of the high quality that parents pay through their noses for. Many of the schools in richer areas also end up demanding high fees from parents as they need to compensate for falling standards due to government subsidy cuts. It was also noted that some affiliates, such as BOCOSFO in the Vaal, run successful adult basic education programmes and that these experiences need to be shared and generalized throughout the APF.
The APF supported 2 important strikes in 2003, namely, the Checkers Shoprite strike by casual workers and the Metro bus drivers strike. The support took the form of pickets, marches, demonstrations, meetings, pamphlets, press statements, etc. The APF took a stand on the question of trade union democracy in the union CEPPWAWU where the progressive pro-social movement Transvaal regional leadership was expelled by the union. The APF also supported the workers in Orange Farm who were dismissed by the privatized council waste management company Pikitup after spending 2 days in jail for demonstrating against poor wages and bad treatment. The APF’s orientation to the trade unions and workers took an organizational form when a trade union committee was formed indicating how seriously the APF takes the job of winning employed workers to its cause. It was assessed that the APF needs to get a sense of togetherness with organized workers; not only around wages and strikes (workplace issues) but also around water and electricity (community issues). We need to help organized workers express their needs which are currently trampled upon by the bosses with the help of the government. We need to get APF affiliates more involved in strike support, visiting depots to keep contact with workers, etc. The workshop noted the existence of an uneven political understanding of the crucial position of the working class in struggle. More work is needed so that we are all clear about the importance of the role of working class. APF members have working brothers and sisters, friends and family, they are the force that can help us connect with workers. We need to speak the right language and ask the right questions in order to connect with workers. A starting point is to follow up on the worker profile questionnaire that were distributed among affiliates a while ago.
The APF managed to have extensive discussions and debate on the question of national elections. This nature and level of these debates reflected the political understanding of the APF’s components on the question of democracy. The debate reached a climax in a 4-day workshop where the vexed question of the APF position on what to do on the day of the election was put to the vote and resolved. It was decided to leave matters in the hands of the affiliates and this was said to be the strongest foundation for building unity in the APF’s approach to the elections. The minority position’s challenge had been that we cannot build unity by shelving differences and refusing to take a binding majority position, even if affiliates could “opt out” of the decision as allowed for in the APF’s political policy. The assessment workshop noted these debates and could not pronounce conclusively at the matter was still burning. With hindsight it can be stated that the APF and other social movements realize their folly in failing to co-ordinate and cohere their position and approach to the national elections. The workshop noted that at some points the debate got very heated and some uncomradely remarks were passed. In future debate must not make us forget that we are actually on the same side. It was also noted that the debate and decision on elections was left too late thus the divisions in opinion overshadowed the APF’s subsequent campaign around the elections. It was assessed that the APF had done well in defining the elections as being of a bourgeois nature and emphasizing the limits of bourgeois democracy.
7. APF in Society
The stature of the APF was assessed to have grown after the World Summit on Sustainable Development and other interventions made by the APF in the year 2003. It was noted that the APF has developed an appreciation of the necessity for solidarity work, building links with other organizations and dealing with broader issues. The APF has won the mantle of being called the home of struggle and struggling communities are gravitating towards it. It was noted that we need to make sure that when building national and provincial movements we do not lose our focus on regional and local struggles. Fraternal social movements look to the APF as a good role model for radical social movements. The APF needs to work hard to help build other movements both as a duty and to avoid isolation. The APF stature and prominent profile must be deployed in support of local struggles. It was noted that some affiliates might not appreciate very much the national achievements of the APF because of their dissatisfaction with APF local service and internal processes. The strength of the APF nationally depends to a large extent on its internal strength hence the need for a healthy balance between the inward and outward orientation of the APF. Good practical politics and experience are the only sure guides for success in this delicate task.
3.3 3.3 Work done by APF affiliates
The APF is nothing without its affiliates. The number of APF has been growing in the past year or so, although some affiliates fell by the wayside. Here is a list of APF affiliates arranged according to their regions:
Vaal region: 1. Bophelong Community Development Forum 2. Evaton West Community Crisis Committee 3. Samancor Retrenched Workers Crisis Committee 4. Vaal Community Forum 5. Small Farm Community Crisis Committee 6. Kanana Community Crisis Committee 7. Vaal Learners Representative Forum
East Rand region: 8. Daveyton Community Peace Civic 9. Tsakane Concerned Residents 10. Kathorus Concerned Residents 11. Tembisa Concerned Residents Committee
Pretoria region: 12. Atteridgeville Concerned Residents Committee 13. Soshanguve Concerned Residents Committee 14. Ikageng Community Crisis Committee
Johannesburg region: 15. Alexandra Vukuzenzele Community Forum. 16. Orange Farm Water Crisis Committee 17. Thembelihle Crisis Committee 18. Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee 19. Inner City Forum 20. Mandela Village (DRD) Crisis Committee 21. Motsoaledi Concerned Residents
Political affiliates: 22. Keep Left 23. African Peoples Democratic Union of South Africa 24. Socialist Group 25. Bikitsha Media Collective
The APF has 21 community-based affiliates and 4 political groups. It must be mentioned that 3 communities are already lined up to become affiliates of the APF. The APF has set up a process for affiliation which involves the organizer visiting the affiliate and writing a report and making recommendations to the Co-ordinating Committee. However, the APF policy is that it will work with and support any organization or community in struggle against aspects of neo-liberalism. Two affiliates have disaffiliated due to their non-attendance and failure to maintain their organization. Each of one of the APF affiliates is autonomous, that is, it is a fully fledged community/political organization with its own structures, programme of action and modus operandi. Each affiliate also brings to the APF its own peculiar tradition and history of struggle. The affiliates’ work can be divided into campaign mass activities, organization building and advocacy work. Some of this work is done completely independently of the APF although it is expected that major developments should be reported. Some of the work is done with the support or leadership of the APF e.g. education workshops conducted for an affiliate by the APF Education Committee. When the APF’s affiliates engage in protest action it is usual for them to get support from other affiliates. In 2003 because of the proliferation of APF affiliates and their hyper-activity a decision was taken to group affiliates into regional structures with the aim of supporting each others in terms of geographic proximity. With the formation of these regional solidarity committees inter-affiliate joint work increased. In what follows a few highlights of APF affiliate activities are noted because it would be impractical to try and record everything that goes on in the affiliates in this report. We should note however that the APF’s assessment indicated a need for greater emphasis on affiliate work on the ground. This means that in future more attention will be put on monitoring what goes on the ground in affiliates and more resources will be channeled to this end. This, it was agreed, must be balanced with the need for financial and political self-sufficiency of each affiliate. The regional solidarity committees are an attempt to mediate this placing of greater weight on work in the affiliates.
A few highlights of affiliates’ activities follow:
· Resistance of mass eviction in KwaMasiza Hostel where 3 000 families were reinstated after being thrown out of flats being privatized and bought by ANC councilors. This campaign was led by the WCCC and supported by the APF and individual affiliates. · Resistance to the installation of pre-paid electricity meters in Soweto and the Vaal. This entailed marches to remove and hand back the meters to the electricity authorities and Operation Khanyisa (re-connecting). This work was led by the SECC and the VCF. · Resistance to evictions of home owners in a self-help build for yourself scheme which was privatized and taken over by the banks in Katlehong. This work entailed running battles with police and the sheriff during evictions, reinstatement of people evicted, court battles, etc. This is the work of the KCR and these comrades have been visiting Soweto sharing their experience of dealing with the banks and estate agents. · Resistance to forced removals in Thembelihle where the bulldozers have been turned away by a community which has lived in shacks since the days of apartheid and now face being removed by the democratic government. The local ANC councilor was deposed by the community under the leadership of the Thembelihle Crisis Committee, an APF affiliate in co-operation with the local branch of the LPM. · Struggle for compensation by who were retrenched after being poisoned by working in a phosphorus plant owned by SAMANCOR, a multi-national corporation. This work was initiated by the Orange Farm Water Crisis Committee who helped the workers to form the SAMANCOR Retrenched Workers Crisis Committee. · Struggle to educate the community around HIV/AIDS and fight for government resources in the fight against the deadly pandemic. This work took place in Mandela Village DRD and is set to be generalized throughout the APF. · Adult Basic Education project at KwaMasiza Hostel, Bophelong and Sebokeng. This work which is independently funded and done in conjunction with the University of South Africa is led by BOCOSFO which has formed the Tsebo Learning Project which employs part-time facilitators to teach literacy to adults. · Resistance to water cut-offs and pre-paid meters. In Orange Farm and Soweto there are big struggles against the installation of pre-paid meters by Johannesburg Water, a company owned by the Johannesburg City Council but managed by Suez, the French water mongering multi-national corporation. In Pretoria the comrades of Soshanguve Community Crisis Committee fight water cut-offs with Operation Vula’manzi (let the water flow) styled along the lines of Khanyisa (electricity re-connections). · Resistance to evictions and high rentals in the inner city as the City council attempts to gentrify Johannesburg and drive the poor out. A huge eviction at Armadale Place involving thousands of tenants highlighted the issue to the public, despite the defeat. This work is done by the Inner City Forum, an APF affiliate which is growing from strength to strength. · Organisation of students in the Vaal by a joint effort of the ERP, BOCOSFO and EWCC saw the students forming the Learners Representative Forum led by youth active in the APF, which has already done a lot of work contributing to the APF’s education for all campaign.
3.4 Relationship of APF work to that of its affiliates
The workshop found the relationship between the APF and its affiliates generally satisfactory. Some critical points were however raised. Many affiliates feel that they do not get enough support from the APF office and leadership. This relates to resources and political direction and general support. One affiliate which got some funds for itself complained that the APF seems reluctant to give it resources because of this. The workshop concluded that APF top leaders need to be more visible on the ground, attend marches and address local meetings wherever possible. The APF needs to keep up a pulse on the finger of each affiliate in order to build organization on the ground. There seems to be inadequate communication flow from the office to affiliates. Information is sometimes not received in time for meetings, workshops, actions, etc. Affiliate court cases in 2003 were not well reflected or dealt with by APF. The phasing out of the organizing committee has meant that something has been lost in affiliate/APF organizing. The practice of general reports from affiliates and requests for support or assistance has been somewhat overlooked. The APF’s 4 identified campaigns, namely, water, electricity, housing and education, were unevenly attended to. The role of regional committees must be assessed with a view to strengthening the link between the centre and its affiliates. The growth of the APF must be carefully monitored and planned for rather than left to chance.
The workshop raised the need to look at the dependency of affiliates in relation to the issue of organizational resources. There was a danger that too much dependency by affiliates on the APF might create problems of lack of sustainability of APF programmmes due to limited resources and open the door for the APF centre failing to build the capacity of its affiliates. Some organizational hiccups were identified such as the postponement of workshops at the last minute and the confusion which this creates and the possible waste of resources. It was also noted that the APF calendar drawn up well in time and constantly updated helped a bit to alleviate this problem. There is a need to assess the decline of certain affiliates (such as Mafikeng and the ICCC). There is also a need to assess affiliate struggles and work in relation to APF campaigns. We need a better understanding of why certain affiliates join and later leave the APF. The house noted the once-off attempt to call meetings with a view to setting up committees around specific issues and struggles as happened when a meeting of all affiliates on electricity was called. It was agreed to explore this form of organization inside the APF where information and plans can be made and implementation co-ordinated in the same way the Education committee was able to do with the education campaign. The workshop also noted a problem whereby some comrades confuse the need to volunteer for community and APF work with the call by the ANC to the working class to volunteer their services to the state. We need to distinguish between volunteering organised by the ruling class to further oppress the poor and volunteering to build the struggle of the working class. The APF affiliates must be encouraged to take ownership of the APF because who is the APF if not its affiliates?
4.1. Assessment of APF structures
List of APF structures
Council Co-ordinating Committee Executive Committee Meetings Office Bearers Sub Committees, namely: Education Media Legal Trade Union Research Finance Regional Solidarity Committees Paid Staff: 1 organizer and 1 administrator.
4.1 Evaluation of APF council
Composition: 10 delegates per affiliate
Central task: The highest decision-making body in between annual general meetings.
Supposed to meet after 4 months, 3 times a year.
This structure was set up with a lot of ambition but in practice it was found to be cumbersome and superfluous. It meets too infrequently to take real charge of affairs and is too big to go into the necessary detail in making its decisions. It met only once in 2003 and most of its functions were taken over and better performed by the Co-ordinating Committee. The assessment workshop recommended the scrapping of this structure and this was duly done by the annual general meeting in March 2004.
Recommendation: Scrap this structure and transfer its functions to the Co-ordinating Committee
4.2 Evaluation of the co-ordinating committee
Composition: 5 people each from community organizations 3 people each from political organizations 1 or 2 reps from each committee
Central task: It looks at policy issues, interventions, campaigns, organizational matters, etc. It meets once a month. It is the highest decision-making body of the APF between its annual general meetings.
Strengths: Has been able to meet regularly, there is good affiliate representation and attendance in this meeting. It directs politically the day to day work of the APF by assessing and setting broad aims and parameters for the work of the month. In 2003 the Co-ordinating Committee consciously tried to use less English and more of the people’s home languages. This had the effect of improving participation by affiliate delegates in this meeting and less dominance by the intellectual types. This structure can be said to be the engine of the APF because major strategies and policies are debated in it. It has proved to be politically mature enough to meet both technical-administrative and political challenges. It is the most representative of the APF’s structures and has developed a very democratic and participatory culture in its deliberations. New affiliates are introduced in this structure and any important visitors of the APF are presented to it. It has successfully fulfilled its role of providing and maintaining political direction in the APF.
Weaknesses: Long agendas, affiliates reports and needs left until the end, new affiliates not provided with information about APF, not gender balanced, affiliates receive agenda and relevant information too late, not enough space for open and complete discussion, sometimes deals with administrative issues that should be sorted out at Executive Committee meetings, bad time management, no follow up on proposed actions, finds itself squeezed between too many meetings, cannot entertain many important reports such as those from international solidarity trips, delegations from affiliates not consistent, chair forgets to focus on communities.
Recommendations: Ĝ Affiliates to speak first Ĝ Decrease number of meetings Ĝ Streamline affiliates’ reports Ĝ Circulate meeting documents (agenda, minutes) beforehand Ĝ Ensure gender balance Ĝ Minutes must reflect tasks and time frames Ĝ Allocate time for each item during the meeting Ĝ Better preparation by the office bearers for the meeting Ĝ Must focus on political not administrative issues Ĝ Prepare delegates to the meeting with discussions/mandates prior to the meeting Ĝ Delegates’ names must be submitted in writing and changes made in writing Ĝ Individual reports on what is happening on the ground around an issue under discussion are necessary even if not by all affiliates Ĝ Political issues should be presented beforehand: positions circulated and then the decision is taken after debate. Ĝ Co-ordinating Committee must build and encourage solidarity among affiliates Ĝ There must be induction for new affiliates
7.3 4.3 Evaluation of regional solidarity committees
Composition: 1 rep from each affiliate. Each affiliate attends at the region closest to itself, namely, in the Vaal, East Rand, and Johannesburg.
Central task: Implement and take forward regional campaigns. Build solidarity and interaction among affiliates living next to each other.
Strengths: Unites regions into committees, able to organize mass meetings with affiliates, took forward campaigns, made affiliates more responsible to APF, got new communities to affiliate, mobilize communities.
Weaknesses: Not all affiliates catered for, lack of funds/resources, poor/non-attendance, lack of communication, no operational offices, uneven capacity, lack of coordination of regions, stuck with organizing work which is not happening in a strategic way, lack of interregional communication, lack of political discussion, lack of engagement by regions in debates on crucial issues e.g. elections, lack of administrative support from office bearers, regions not clear about their programs and facilitating budgest, clearer focus for the work of the regions necessary, office bearers of the APF don’t attend regional meetings, problem of resources for regional meetings, reps from APF sub-comcmmittees not part of regional meetings (especially media).
4.4 Evaluation of Executive Committee
Composition: 1 representative from each affiliate
Central task: Ensures decisions of Coordinating committee carried out. Meets fortnightly. Takes care of all administrative and political issues in the APF. Receives reports from the various structures of the APF and prioritises the issues the organisation needs to deal with.
Strengths: Able to make important decisions (especially around finance), building of program of action and business plan, monitors the implementation of decisions, provides for APF office bearers to lead the organization, co-ordinates work by the regions.
Weaknesses: High pressure meeting, little time to cover all the issues, not enough transparency in handling of finances, don’t help with expenses (ie. funerals), fail to meet regional resolutions, poor attitudes by affiliates, delegate of one per affiliate not enough, starts late (Saturday 2 p.m.), too many issues, agenda and minutes not available on time, affiliates do not understand role of this structure in relation to others, delegates not consistent, comrades come unprepared, no focus on HIV/Aids, not enough clarity on delegate system, format of reporting by committees and affiliates not followed, matters are left unfinished, affiliates are not responsible, time of the meeting is not suitable.
Recommendations: Ĝ EXCO’s job is to take things forward, strategizing and implementing. Ĝ We need names of delegates with mandates. Ĝ Look into increasing delegation from 1 to 2 or enforcing election of an alternate. Ĝ Review time and date of meeting Ĝ Minutes and agendas to be circulated on time Ĝ SMS system to notify people of meetings must be implemented Ĝ Minutes must have action and time frames and who must do the task Ĝ Regular report backs necessary
4.5 Evaluation of Office Bearers
Composition: The chairperson, the secretary and the treasurer of the APF together with the office administrator constitute the office bearers of the APF.
Central task: To monitor and implement organisational decisions and take care of the day to day running of the organisation. Their job is to monitor and ensure the implementation of decisions and issues raised by the co-ordinating committee and the Execetive committee and ensure co-ordination between the various structures of the APF. Most of the office bearers’ work consists of doing the administrative preparation work for meetings, daily finances (signing cheques), responding to emergencies and being the public face of the organization when necessary.
Strengths: The office bearers were able to oil the functioning of the organisation so that there were not many hitches. In 2003 the office bearers successfully budgeted for affiliate activities, maintained and managed the APF’s links with its funders and helped to maintain morale of affiliates. They worked successfully under pressure, held the APF together over the last two years and have been able to meet needs of affiliates.
Weaknesses: Too few people, too few meetings, far from the ground, not enough constituent representatives, overburdened, poor communication with affiliates, its operations are not as transparent as possible. There is also a feeling that too much power is given to the office bearers as meetings and structures pass on the responsibility to this committee. Sometimes there are disagreements among office bearers which are aired at Co-ordinating Committee meetings undiplomatically. There are some organisational issues the office bearers were unable to resolve. Often the office bearers have to work in isolation from other comrades due to pressure of work and the fact that there are no other structure is represented on this committee.
Recommendations: Ĝ Separate organizer and secretary positions Ĝ Meet more often Ĝ Increase the number, include area reps if possible Ĝ Set aside personal differences and relate in comradely fashion at all times Ĝ Clarify role and responsibilities. Ĝ Give clear reports to EXCO, transperancy. Ĝ Work collectively, agree on positions and if they disagree must report to the Executive Committee in a comradely manner.
4.6 Evaluation of Staff
Composition: Two staff members, namely, the administrator and the organiser.
Main tasks: The administrator keeps the APF office in operation and takes care of all administrative matters. The organiser ensures that the programme of the APF is taken forward in the affiliates, identifies strengths and weaknesses of the affiliates, provides the necessary support to affiliates on organisational building matters.
Strengths: Multi-skilled people, able to work in stressful environment, support activities of affiliates, work very hard, attend meetings away from office.
Weaknesses: Both are from same affiliate, the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee. The administrator is sometimes out of the office on organisational business too often. The organisation was found to have undeveloped policies relating to staff and general operations thus leaving things to the staff’s discretion. Some basic tasks are not getting done due to job descriptions not being stuck to by staff. The organiser did not write all the required monthly reports. It was also found that there are no clear guidelines from the organisation on the work of the organiser such as the setting priorities and monitoring his work. The major difficulty identified was the fact that the organiser was the same person as the secretary of the organisation. It was recommended that the two positions cannot be held by one person now that the APF has grown more complex. This was made into policy by the APF annual general meeting in March 2004. Committees and affiliates rely unnecessarily on staff for certain tasks e.g. meeting reminders.
Recommendations: Ĝ Separate secretary from organizer Ĝ Write and stick to clear job descriptions Ĝ Need clear work plans Ĝ Do work related jobs Ĝ Staff and organizational policies and procedures must be developed Ĝ Regular reportsb by both staff members: monthly Ĝ Service all areas Ĝ Need more staff - also from other affiliates Ĝ Administrator must be given time to attend certain grassroots meetings Ĝ Committees must phone their own members to notify them of meetings Ĝ Consider getting volunteers from the affiliates to help with the workload
4.7 Evaluation of Committees
Education - Meets monthly. Media - Meets fortnightly Legal - ad hoc Trade Union - Meets fortnightly Research - Meets fortnightly Finance - In process of being formed.
Composition: All the committees are ideally composed of one rep per affiliate. However, there is unevenness with many committees having a small core group of consistent members.
Main tasks: Each committee is mandated to lead the APF in its sphere of activity and to ensure that work gets done.
Strengths: Website development, newsletter publication, skills training, pamphlet distribution, press releases, education campaign, more diverse membership, interns, capacity building, legal matters dealt with properly, focus on worker issues, research capacity developed inside APF, committees do important work for the APF.
Weaknesses: Most affiliates do not send delegates to the various committees. Some committees lack resources because there is no dedicated budget, most media publications in the English language, newsletter not regularly published, poor communication with affiliates by some committees, uneven capacity in the committees, no budgets for each committee, not enough students in the education committee, education committee doubles up as APF workshop organizer and free education campaign organizer, intra committee communication not good, uneven affiliate participation in media production, media interns do not visit all affiliates, problem of communication between some committees and the office, relationship of APF committees with external bodies must be clarified, weak journalistic skills among some members of the media committee, uneven participation, non-functioning finance committee leads to little transparency and involvement by affiliates on money matters, not enough direction from office, legal committee does not meet regularly, its approach is not preventative, publications now always brought to the Executive for endorsement, committee meetings start late or are postponed at last minute, sometimes there are no agenda for meetings, transport reimbursement often a problem.
Recommendations: Ĝ Budgets for committees Ĝ Consistent participation in committees Ĝ Allow extra reps of interested people to sit on committees Ĝ Better inter-committee communication Ĝ Clarify relationship with external organizations Ĝ Focus on building movements Ĝ The office must give all affiliates information on activities e.g. committee meetings Ĝ Form a cultural committee: music, poetry, plays and sports for APF events. APF must define its own working class culture. Ĝ Form a committee on Health and Environment issues. It can cover HIV/AIDs and also matters affecting the disabled. Ĝ Empower affiliates financially and politically. We need more workshops corresponding with the work of committees viz. political education, fund-raising, skills for democracy, para-legal training, trade union education, research skills, etc. Ĝ Build and strengthen the finance committee Ĝ Re-create Organizing committee and/or Campaigns Committees (water, housing) Ĝ Form a youth desk Ĝ Codify all important policy decisions into the APF constitution Ĝ Develop translations policy
2. Finances and administration
Thanks to War on Want and other generous benefactors the APF has been able to cover the costs of most of its activities. More importantly, the APF has managed its funds efficiently, thanks to our hard working office bearers, thus ensuring that it is able to account for every penny of the money it receives from its donors. Attached to this report as Appendix A is a report on APF finances written by the out-going treasurer of the APF who served the APF well and declined to continue with her duties due to pressing work and study commitments in 2004. The main points from the report are the following:
· funds used do not exceed the budget allocated, however: · there is an over-expenditure on certain line items but this is off-setted by under-expenditure in others · the unfavourable exchange rate leads to the APF receiving less than what it is entitled to · there is also generally less money to go around in the APF due to growth, as new affiliates join the APF more people must be served by the same amount of resources
An important issue since the annual general meeting in the APF has been the need to set up a committee of treasurers in order to involve affiliates more in financial matters and to increase communication and accountability between the APF centre and its affiliates. Our new treasurer, Comrade Miselo, has gone about forming this finance committee with vim and gusto and good preliminary results. It will also help in streamlining resource transfers between the APF and its affiliates. Financial self-sufficiency of APF affiliates is another topical issue in the organisation. The finance committee supported by other structures of the APF is also tasked with looking at this question and taking practical steps in answering it, e.g. they can initiate fund-raising activities in communities, identify resources which can be made accessible to comrades by community members and leaders, etc.
Most of the APF’s activities were funded using money from our main sponsor War on Want. We were able to run all our meetings, education and political workshops, campaigns and administration from this source. The disastrous exchange rate combined with the increase in the work done by the APF and the inflationary environment meant that the APF had to keep a keen and beady eye on its expenditure. Tight reins on finance entail tough political decisions and have the potential for causing tension in the organization. The APF was generally able to manage this. Once-off donations from some funders, including donations in kind, helped the APF scrape throught. These funders were Oxfam and the South African Development Fund; in kind donations came from the Education Rights Project in the form of material support for our education campaign.
The APF enjoys a very good relationship with its main funder, War on Want, and this is a very good thing. Despite the rough world of funding the APF is not always over-concerned about its funding situation and War on Want advises and gives support which makes our work easier. There is a definite attempt by the powers that be to starve the social movements such as the APF and the LPM of external donor funding. It has been reported that, for example, potential and actual donors have been approached by government and surrogate agencies to try and stop funding. This is very worrying and accentuates the APF’s dependence and obligation to War on Want. Since the year 2004 is the last of the 3-year funding cycle the APF is hoping with all its heart that it can renew its funding relationship with War on Want. Towards this end a number of processes have been put in motion including conducting an independent evaluation to help motivate for further funding from War on Want / Comic Relief. While the APF is doing everything possible to find other sources of funds, including from its own internal resources, it is true that the work of the APF would be severely crippled if it did not receive external funding.
5.2 Office administration
The APF office is the nerve centre of the APF organization in terms of co-ordination of activities and communication between the different parts of the APF. The APF office had to move unceremoniously from COSATU House 2 blocks up the street to Auckland House after the COSATU leadership bowed down to pressure from its Alliance partners to get rid of the APF from its premises. This caused some minor hiccups in daily functioning that were soon overcome. The APF has settled down in the friendlier atmosphere of the new building which, incidentally, houses various organizations and movements which the APF is keen to work closely with, such as the Treatment Action Campaign, Jubilee South Africa, Environmental Justice Network Forum, Public Service International, the AIDS Consortium, Lawyers for Human Rights and others. For every door that closes another one opens.
The APF employs 2 staff members, namely, Trevor Ngwane as organizer and Teboho Mashota as administrator. Their performance was evaluated by the APF assessment workshop and some recommendations were made [Please see section 7.6 above]. It should be noted that it was during the period under review in this report that Comrade Teboho was formally appointed and began to be paid as a staff member having hitherto been a volunteer. She has settled well in her job and provides the administrative backbone necessary to keep a coalition-type organization like the APF going and together. The organizer was also found to be working well and some areas of improvements were suggested by the workshop, in particular, the need to develop an integrated plan for organizing APF affiliates for maximum unity in action. Such a plan would include a strategy for overcoming some of the unevenness in organisational strength and political orientation that has been identified among the affiliates.
The ambience of the APF office conveys vibrancy, seriousness and determined struggle. The Media committee took the initiative of “decorating” the new office when the APF moved in. As you enter the office you can’t miss the posters, banners hung around the boardroom which doubles up as a reception area. Next to the visitors’ chairs is a notice board which the comrades of the Media committee plaster with the latest newspaper clippings mostly relating to the struggle against neo-liberalism and the APF’s role in this. Media is central to the APF as evidenced by its occupation of the strong room (safe) which is used as the media office. During 2003 the APF hosted 4 media interns who were seconded to its affiliates and whose activities were co-ordinated from the media office. This year the APF is hosting a legal intern who will also be operating from the office. The office also needs to accommodate the new expanded office bearer team and provide them with the necessary administrative support to carry out their work.
3. Challenges ahead
The self-evaluation by the APF needs to be supplemented by an external evaluation. Such an evaluation will be more objective especially in assessing the APF’s impact on society, government policy and public awareness. Processes are already in place to carry out such an evaluation. Meanwhile the points and issues in this report already indicate in broad terms the challenges facing the APF in the coming period. Some of these challenges have been pointed out in different parts of this report. It is worth mentioning separately the following specific challenges:
(a) Clarifying the APF vision, principles, strategy and tactics
There is a burning need for the APF to clarify its overall vision, principles and how these relate to its modus operandi and the manner it tackles some of the challenges facing the working class under attack from neo-liberalism. The ANC government, and other neo-liberal governments of the world, are not going to stop their attacks on the poor. This challenges the social movements such as the APF to spell out their vision of a different society and how exactly they think we can get there given the utter lack of viability of the road chosen by the world’s elite. It should be noted that there is a general slowing down of privatization by the world’s neo-liberals which belies the real sine quo non of the system, namely, the making of profits at the expense of the working class and allied classes. The APF needs to respond credibly to this change of tactic by the world’s elites lest the issues get clouded and the critique of the anti-globalisation movement gets blunted or evaded. The APF is also not immune to the debates and divisions currently taking place in the international movements of civil society opposed to neo-liberalism. The APF needs to contribute to these debates and share its perspectives with its allies in other countries. The May Day and election debates inside the APF, which saw matters being put to the vote, revealed the existence of diverse views inside the APF. This is a good sign but contains the danger, if these differences are not honestly addressed and resolved and put in perspective, of endless debate and possible uncertainty and division when the organization is required to act in a decisive,sure-footed and united manner in the near future as the struggle heats up. Increasingly the social movements are being challenged to come up with their own alternatives to the present anti-poor policies. The development of policies cannot be done in one day and in a straightforward manner, but it also cannot be done well if done in a haphazard and ad hoc manner. These discussions and debates found an important site and focus during the APF’s annual general meeting in March 2004. The meeting wisely committed the APF to a programme of debate and discussion on the major issues of the day.
(b) Strengthening the APF affiliates
The APF “centre”has proven to be adequate to its task of initiating and co-ordinating the diverse activities of the APF. But increasingly the unevenness of its affiliates is exposed. Some APF affiliates are vibrant community-based and well-structured autonomous organizations. Others are nothing more than a few concerned activists who get support from the APF and are still struggling to root their organization in the community. Even among the stronger affiliates there is too much diversity in terms of programme work, political orientation, internal democratic process and organizational strength. Sometimes this creates unnecessary tensions and non-convergence of interests inside the organization. It also means that the APF cannot rely on its presence through its affiliates to carry out its broader mandate. What is needed is a systematic and comprehensive organization building programme that will integrate the work of the various components of the APF, namely, affiliates, committees and personnel and give it overall coherence. Emphasis and special attention should be placed on the affiliates because they are closest to the masses and are rooted in communities. This means most of what is happening well at “APF central level” should take place on the ground, for example, media work, coalition building, campaigns, actions, debates, and so on. The APF centre should co-ordinate, support and facilitate; it should guard against doing work which should in reality be done by its affiliates. While it is true that the APF is increasingly called to act as a unified and highly co-ordinated unit, it is also true that putting together a motley bunch of weak affiliates is unlikely to facilitate this process.
(c) Building the movement against neo-liberalism
The APF spent a lot of time and energy building unity and co-operation between itself and other social movements, NGOs, institutions and sympathetic individuals. This is a most important task given the great dangers of fragmentation and isolation of struggles and movements during these times. It should be noted that most of the new social movements in South Africa as elsewhere were born as single issue campaigns. This is a strength in terms of focus and legitimacy. But it contains the danger of developing theories and strategies which keep movements divided from each other. In some instances relations between movements fighting different aspects of neo-liberalism are characterized by rivalry and hostility. The enemy loves nothing better and takes full advantage of this to the detriment of the masses and the cause of social and economic justice. The APF has consistently supported activities which bring the movements together including initiating joint campaigns and forums to facilitate this. The most ambitious project so far has been the Social Movements Indaba (SMI) which unites most of South Africa’s prominent social movements. The SMI is finding its feet with a lot of support by the APF. The APF needs to continue building the SMI mindful of the delicate stage and context of this alliance. The APF is also active in the African Social Forum and has a strong interest in the success of the World Social Forum. Recently a Southern African Social Forum has been established which the APF will do well to help build in order to facilitate the unity of social movements in Southern Africa as part of building international solidarity against neo-liberalism.
(d) Winning mass support for its campaigns
The power to challenge the agenda of the rich against the poor is to unite as many people as possible to take action against neo-liberal policies. This means winning the millions and millions of people who suffer under neo-liberalism and those who sympathise with the sufferers. Too many people in South Africa still look to the past as an unmediated guide to the future. Thus many working class people leave matters of government and economic policy to the “experts” in government. Too many believe in organizations and leaders whose mission can no longer be said to be to bring economic salvation to the masses. The ruling elites have managed to co-opt many of the leadership of the people’s movements of the past. Millions sit at home discouraged and disillusioned because their dreams have not been fulfilled by national liberation. The APF and the social movements face the challenge of going door-to-door and house-to-house finding these people and talking to them and winning them to the anti-neo-liberal camp. They have to be inspired to do something to influence policies which affect them. This means that the APF cannot allow itself to be a refugee camp for the disillusioned, nor content itself with preaching to the convert. The APF and the social movements have to find effective ways of reaching out to the millions and millions and inspiring them to understand and take a stand against injustice. To win the millions and millions means extending the social base of the social movements by winning organized labour, the youth and large sections of the middle class. The masses must be encouraged to turn their eyes to themselves and their unity in their search for the power to change their lives for the better.
The year 2003 saw the APF settle down in its role as one of the leading urban social movements in South Africa. Not only did it win the respect of its fellow movements but significant sections of “respectable” society in South Africa, despite demonisation by the ANC government, chose to recognize the APF as a radical champion of the interests of the poor and the working class. Unfortunately this has not yet translated into the transformation of the APF into a movement of millions and millions. Organized labour in South Africa is still firmly in the pocket of the ruling elite based on past loyalties and the effects of globalisation on the strength of the trade unions. The class lines are everyday being drawn. The national election in April 2004 indicated clearly the centrality of the issues the APF addresses in South Afrcan mainstream politics. The alleviation of poverty and delivery of basic services featured prominently in all the party election manifestoes. While the political elites are forced to climb down from their high horses and attend to the bread and butter issues that movements such as the APF are raising, these movements, in turn, are forced by the centrality of these issues in the public polity to develop policies and perspectives which go beyond the immediate and localized struggles out of which they were born and address the broader questions of the day. These questions crystallize into the one big question: where, when and how can we build a society where all injustice and suffering will be eradicated? Through its work the APF is undoubtedly already contributing the fragments of an answer to this question being asked by millions and millions of people in the world today.
Financial report for the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) from April 2003 to March 2004
Between April 2003 and March 2004, the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) received a total of R 638, 739.00 from War on Want. These funds were deposited into the APF’s bank account at First National Bank, Bank City Branch, Account Number 62027851452. During this period the APF has managed to spend the funds obtained from War on Want within budget. However as the attached financial accounts demonstrate, the APF has overspent on several line items, particularly as these concern running and project costs, while simultaneously under spending on others.
It is important to keep in mind that part of this overspending is linked to the fluctuations in exchange rate that the APF has experienced when receiving the tranches of funding. In the past year, the APF was managing to exchange funds into Rands based on an exchange rate of £1=ZAR13 or higher. This year, the APF has only been able to exchange at rates that oscillate between R11 and R12 per British Pound. This has meant that in reality, the APF is receiving funds below the budget that was originally submitted to War on Want. As Treasurer of the APF, I raised this matter with G. Rogel and L. Craeynest from War on Want to explore whether it would be possible for the APF to work with a fixed exchange rate to ensure receipt of funds that at least meet the budget line items as originally proposed to War on Want. Unfortunately, however, it will not be possible to negotiate a fixed exchange rate because APF funds have already been allocated and this total sum cannot be changed.
Running costs During the period under review, the APF overspent on running costs by approximately 10% of the allocated budget. This is particularly noticeable with regards to staff costs, communication costs and information resources.
Staff costs The higher expenditure in staff costs is due to the fact that the APF saw the need to raise the remuneration for the administrator. During the first year, the administrator only received a nominal amount to cover transport costs to and from the office. However, during the past year, with the growth of the APF, the APF saw the need to provide the administrator with a stipend, even if it would not qualify as a “proper” salary, due to the increased work demands. The APF has managed to secure limited additional funding to supplement the over expenditure on staff costs. The fluctuation of expenditure in the financial assistant category has to do with the fact that the accountant receives payment for his services on a three-monthly basis. Therefore, during the month that he is paid, this category increases by a sum of R3000. Fluctuations in the administrator category are linked to changes in the tax structure and coverage of additional expenses incurred by the administrator as a result of travel to communities.
Information resources The higher costs incurred under information resources were due to the need to reconnect and fix the APF’s computers after the APF found itself, unexpectedly, having to move offices from COSATU House to Auckland House in July 2003.
Communication costs The APF still continues to struggle with high communication costs. In June this year, the APF instituted a system of call-barring to ensure limited use of office phones. However, despite this initiative, communication costs remain high for a number of reasons. Due to the poor state of landline telephone connections in poor areas and their inaccessibility in financial terms, very few community representatives have access to landline telephones where they can be reached. Instead, most community representatives who belong to the APF only have access to cellular telephones that are run on a “pay-as-you-go” system rather than on a contract basis, as this would be unaffordable for most members. When in need of assistance, community representatives often send text messages to the APF office administrator asking to be called back. For this reason, substantial amounts of money are spent by the APF on cellular phone communication with community representatives. Since one of the pillars of the APF is its commitment to advocacy and capacity building of poor communities, it is often not possible to simply ignore representatives in need of urgent assistance because the APF would be overspending on this particular line item.
High communication costs have also been compounded by the fact that the APF has grown substantially to the present 22 affiliates and therefore the APF office has to serve a large number of people.
While the APF recognises that it has overspent on particular categories of expenditure, it is also important to note that savings in office rent have offset these over expenditures. These savings came as a result of moving to a cheaper venue after the APF’s exit from COSATU House.
Project costs Unlike during last year, where the APF tended to overspend in project costs, this year the APF managed to secure additional targeted funding to undertake some of its capacity building activities. The under spending in conducting thematic and training workshops is linked to two factors. One, we secured funding for specific APF-wide workshops to be carried out, thus easing the pressure on a constrained War on Want budget. Second, the APF began to decentralise the offering of workshops. Many of these workshops were carried out at a regional or community level, which allowed us to allocate them to funding received from the South African Development Fund for regional and community level capacity building activities. In other words, the under spending in conducting workshops should not be interpreted as a slow down on the part of the APF in undertaking capacity building activities, but rather as an attempt by the APF to diversify its sources of funding and access additional resources to those provided by War on Want.
Transport and venue hire The under spending under transport and venue hiring resulted from the fact that community affiliates were successful in negotiating low charges for the use of venues for public meetings and regular organisational meetings within their communities.
Advocacy In terms of advocacy, after the APF overspent these funds during June 2003, based on the APF’s decision to organise its own events in Soweto to commemorate Youth Day on June 16 2003, the APF refrained from organising large-scale events and has focused its resources instead on building affiliates and their respective communities in each of the three regions. The organisation of these activities post-June 2003 was also made possible by funds received from Oxfam Canada and the South African Development Fund, thus leading the APF to underspend under this category.
Legal assistance As the APF began to focus its attention around water struggles in affiliates such as Orange Farm and Phiri, in Soweto, it also began to feel the effects of Johannesburg Water which, underhandedly brought an interdict against anyone who might interfere with its installation of pre-paid water meters in Soweto, effectively calling for the arrest of anyone who came closer than 50 meters of its projects. This draconian interdict gave powers of arrest to a private security company, based on the pretence that the police cannot be constantly patrolling water privatisation projects in Phiri. Struggles by community members to halt the installation of pre-paid water meters and the privatisation of water provision, led to the arrest of a number of APF representatives, including Trevor Ngwane. Many of these APF representatives were arrested on the charge of contravening the interdict issued by Johannesburg Water and incitement. During early November 2003, there were approximately 6 separate cases that went to court involving the different representatives that were arrested. The crackdown on community representatives attempting to defend their basic right to water led the APF to incur a number of costs associated with legal assistance. Parts of these funds are caught up in bail bonds, which ranged from R500 to R1000 per person. In addition, the APF had to retain the services of a lawyer to be able to argue the cases in court, against the weight of the private company being backed by the state.
While some of the funds caught up in bail bonds were returned to the APF once the court cases were finalised, the APF continued to feel the effects of the South African state in early 2004. On March 21st, the day earmarked to celebrate Human Rights Day and to celebrate the opening of Constitution Hill in central Johannesburg, approximately 50 representatives from the APF were arrested for conducting an illegal gathering outside of Constitution Hill. While APF members had gathered in their red-shirts around Constitution Hill, they were scattered in different places, when police came around and arrested “anyone with a red t-shirt”. In this regard, a couple of the people arrested were not remotely linked to the APF but just happened to be wearing either red t-shirts or red hats. During this day, large numbers of APF members in Thembalihle 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. Very recently, the state dropped all charges against those arrested. Nonetheless, the APF had to make funds available to hire a lawyer to negotiate bail for the 50 representatives arrested and also defend them in court. The APF was able to save funds from its legal assistance line item by seeking the assistance of the Freedom of Expression Institute and relying on sympathetic individuals to temporarily cover bail costs. The APF is currently in the process of setting up a legal fund with the Freedom of Expression Institute which will not only assist APF members but members of other movements such as the Landless People’s Movement. This development should also assist in future to share costs on legal assistance across different funders.
Networking During the year, the APF continuedto engage in networking activities with organisations predominantly located in Durban and Cape Town. These meetings were small in number and included one or two representatives from the organisations involved. Unlike in previous years, the APF did not host a national exploratory workshop, but relied instead on the Social Movements Indaba (of which the APF is a key member) to organise a national workshop. The Social Movements Indaba was able to secure funding from the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation to host this event, thus relieving the pressure from the APF to fund this event. The APF made a substantial financial contribution to this gathering, but managed to under spend in this line item due to the external funding secured.
The underspending on per diems was linked to the fact that organisations which invited the APF to attend events overseas such as the Africa Social Forum meeting, the World Social Forum, and visits to Canada (organised by the Polaris Institute) provided for all delegate expenses. As a result of this, the APF did not have to disburse as much money in per diems as originally envisaged.
Organisational Development Unlike last year, the APF managed to spend funds within budget for organisational development activities. While the APF continued with its regular Executive, Coordinating Committee meetings, APF committee meetings on Education, Media and Research, as well as regional affiliate meetings, the APF was able to use funds from Oxfam Canada and the South African Development Fund to cover some of these costs. In addition, the ongoing meetings of the Research Committee were made possible with funding from the Polaris Institute and Public Citizen, which assisted the APF with the undertaking of its research activities in Orange Farm and Phiri, Soweto.
There is still under spending under the staff-training category. However, staff, as well as the incoming treasurer, were trained on how to undertake financial procedures and reconciliations of funds by the outgoing Treasurer. While there were funds allocated to pay someone to conduct training, the outgoing Treasurer undertook this training as part of her contribution to the organisation on a pro-bono basis.
Concluding remarks As the report demonstrates, in comparison to last year, the APF has improved its ability to spend funds within the allocated categories. While the APF has grown substantially in the past year, the APF also refocused its core activities, moving away from regular, expensive large-scale events to more localised capacity building events. The APF’s growth, not foreseen in the original proposal to War on Want, coupled to the unfavourable exchange rate, served to put an added financial strain on the APF. However, aware of these impending constraints, the APF actively sought during the year to diversify its funding and secure additional funds to supplement those provided by War on Want. While the funds secured are significantly smaller than the funds received from War on Want, these funds have allowed the APF to cope with its growth while maintaining its activism. Importantly, the APF managed to establish key links with organisations such as the Freedom of Expression Institute, the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation, Public Citizen and the Polaris Institute, in addition to funders such as Oxfam Canada and the South African Development Fund.
The financial support obtained from War on Want continues to be crucial for the everyday operation and growth of the APF. Thanks to this support, the APF has become a well-known organisation of committed community members who are willing to fight for their basic rights to water, electricity and housing. Moreover, the financial support has allowed the APF to establish strong links with initiatives such as the Education Rights Project at Wits University, and be at the forefront of the Coalition Against Water Privatisation in South Africa. As the APF continues to grow, so too will its activities to empower a greater number of community members to make the government accountable and abide by its commitment to tackle poverty in South Africa.
Prepared by M. Florencia Belvedere, Outgoing Treasurer, Anti-Privatisation Forum May 2004